The New Year's Resolution I Did NOT Ask For

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.

It’s late in this short month of February. Have you kept your new years resolution so far?

This year began like every other year before it for me in that I didn’t set any resolutions. I don’t make resolutions because they seem like a prelude to failure and inevitably I’d feel like a loser who lacks any sort of discipline whatsoever by maybe not eating desert for a year (AS IF!).

Despite my efforts to not make any resolutions, wouldn’t you know that God has taken it upon himself, in all his sovereignty and wisdom combined with a bit of humor, to illuminate some areas in my life where I need to choose to either resolve to obey him or not. He's basically given me my new year's resolution.

Q&A with Slavery No More Founder, Jocelyn White

Jocelyn White is Co-Founder and CEO of Slavery No More. Taken from the Slavery No More website, the mission of Slavery No More is to resource a diversity of the most effective organizations working to combat and abolish modern-day slavery and human trafficking, and to create awareness and a diversity of opportunities for meaningful personal engagement.

Recently I  had the priviledge of asking Jocelyn a few questions about Slavery No More and how they are working to abolish modern day slavery.

How did you become aware of modern day slavery and human trafficking? I first became deeply aware and moved to action when watching a Leadership Summit DVD that featured Gary Haugen, President of International Justice Mission.

I Own 44 Slaves

According to a survey by the Fair Trade Fund, I have 44 slaves working for me.

I took the survey on a website called Slavery Footprint. I answered a total of 11 questions regarding items I have around the house and the type of food I have waiting to be devoured in my fridge. Based on my answers, I own 44 slaves.  That means that 44 individuals in various parts of the world worked by force and without compensation to make, build, develop, farm, etc. a number of ‘things’ and food that are right now sitting around my house.

Of course there is no way for the site to calculate the exact number given the fact they have no idea when and where I made the purchases I did to obtain the food and items that I have. But that isn’t the point is it?

The point is that we live in a global world of global trades and consumerism. Shoes, clothes, that new pair of jeans that fit oh-so-well, chocolate, coffee, light bulbs and just about any and all electronic devices could very well be tied to modern day slavery. The bricks holding up that building on the corner you pass everyday may have come from a brick kiln in India and made by the hands of slaves; many of who are just children and all of who do not deserve to be there. The delicious grilled fish had for dinner the other night may have been fished by young slave boys off the coast of South America or Africa.

The answer is not to stop building with brick or to stop eating tilapia. It’s not to stop buying light bulbs or a pair of jeans. Boycotting is not the answer. In fact, boycotts can cause significant damage to areas where our purchases are what’s keeping an economy active. However, we can become more aware, more creative and more proactive with our purchases in a way that sends a clear message against enslaving people.

I do think however, that as consumers, we must be aware of the global market we live in. When we purchase a dark chocolate-salted-caramel chocolate bar (my new favorite) or any other chocolate for that matter, we should know where that chocolate came from. Unfortunately cocoa fields in Ivory Coast (a West African country where a vast majority of the world’s chocolate hails from, is also home to thousands of child slaves working the cocoa fields. I don’t know about you, but as much as I love a good piece of chocolate, I’ll pass on it any day if it means ending the demand and therefore the need to enslave children to satisfy a craving. 

Fortunately modern day slavery has caught significantly growing media attention and is no longer an issue largely ignored. Actually, it’s quit the opposite. Ten years ago it was difficult to find products not made on the backs on the slaves. Today that is not the case. There are many places to which we can buy products and be confident no children, woman or man was enslaved for it.

Here are a few things we can do to make sure what we are buying is legit and not made by slaves:

1. Read the Bible and Pray. The most important thing we can do, those of who are Christ followers, is seek God and learn what his stand is on justice and injustice. Check out the Justice Journey Handbook for some study help.  "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you." -Ps. 89:14 And read Is. 58. It will knock your socks off.
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Best Reads of 2011

I read some great books this year. Here are the books that made my year-end review of bests.

The Help: Wow! What a great story this was to read. This book was an entertaining page-turner. Set in the south during the 1960’s The Help captures the voice and perspective of the white women who employ black women as the help and the black women who work for them. The Help captured some of the realities of that time and managed to bring out some humor in doing so. Check out the movie too if you haven't seen it yet. 

Unbroken: Looking for an adventure story? Unbroken is your book.

Hope, Peace, Eek the Cat and Christmas

It’s funny how memories or experiences past find their way into present thoughts. Lately I’ve been thinking about a particular moment in my past that I have had difficulties putting reason to.

On a fall day in 2003, I found myself at a Mother Theresa hospice and orphanage called House of Peace located just outside the city walls of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. I was with a team from my local church at the time and we were there to visit with the children at the orphanage and to sit with and visit those spending their final days at the hospice. All of who had AIDS.

*

When we walked into the hospice, there were a few ill men lying on the springs of beds without mattresses.

Friendsgiving

In June of 93’ my life took a turn. I graduated from the eighth grade that June 17th. As the ceremony ended, my silly Jr. High friends attacked me with hugs and goodbyes. When the goodbyes ended, I piled into my parents car and my family left our home in southern California and moved to Fresno that day.

The move that summer was a big adjustment on not just me, but on my parents and my brothers as well. I’d like to think I assimilated just fine but that’d statement would make my nose grow.

It was tough. In southern California I had my extended family and friends within a bike ride’s distant. In Fresno, I was a decent four-hour drive away. In southern California I enjoyed a consistent 70 something degree-day just about year round. Fresno, however, has its extremes.

Giving Christmas Away

I cannot believe this Friday is Black Friday! Can you? This is an old post from a couple years ago that I thought I'd share again. I added a new option for gifts below and am wondering what you might add to the list.

Black Friday has begun and the flood gates of Christmas shopping are open. Last Christmas, I remember my husband and I walking through Target looking for “the perfect gifts” for our family members. We walked in, looked around for a bit and walked out empty handed.  Every year it seems like a struggle to find gifts that fit for the people we care about. Companies compete with one another by conveying messages of all of the things that our friends and family NEED this season. Commercials bombard our homes with elves busy at Sears, singing BestBuy employees and Old Navy manikins wearing the latest Christmas sweaters.

Before you get cut off in parking lots this Black Friday or wander the isles of Target in search of the perfect gift, I thought I’d offer some suggestions on ways to give, yet in a more less traditional way.

We all want to give. We were created with that desire. We were made by the hands that designed the very nature of giving. When we understand this awesome truth it becomes inevitable that we give. Who better to explain this than singing vegetables wearing ugly Christmas sweaters.


If you’ve had enough with crowded parking lots and lines, consider this Christmas season the gift of hope, freedom, food, a new start or empowerment. Giving breeds giving. Here are a few places where you can do just that.

Heifer International – Gifts of animals for breeding, farming, food purposes
IJM – Purchase a freedom package for individuals upon their rescue from slavery
Gospel for Asia – Gifts for outreach, missionaries, compassion gifts and much more
Samaritan’s Purse – Gifts for children around the world

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A Story of Forgiveness

Earlier this week I read an article on CNN's belief blog that threw me into a stewing pot of thoughts. At the core is one simple word that seems so complex to live out, even in the shallowest of circumstances.

Forgiveness.

Celebrity Portrait Photographer Jeremy Cowart set out on a mission with filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson (As We Forgive) to produce a photo series project called "Voices of Reconciliation." Cowart and Hinson went to Rwanda. They wanted to give Rwandans the opportunity to make their own statements to the world about the 1994 mass killings and uprooting that took place in their backyards.

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I Am Thankful For....

It’s the season of giving thanks.

A couple years back, some friends of mine began what is now called The Thanksgiving Challenge. Beginning November 1st, we use our Facebook status to give thanks for something or someone or anything we are thankful for. We’ll do this everyday throughout the month.

Here are a few reasons why I think it’s a good thing to be not only be thankful but to also express our thanksgiving.

  • Being thankful keeps me from fretting over what I do not have. My eyes are opened to all that I do have. Its crystal clear then that not only are all my needs met, I see just how abundantly blessed I am beyond what I need. I’m not so easily suckered into thinking I ‘have-to-have’ all that I see because I recognize all that I already have. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Ps. 23:1
  • Being thankful helps me to recognize and be mindful that every good and perfect gift is from God. All that I have and all that I am is his. My ego stays in check. James 1:17
  • Being thankful allows me to have a spirit of gratitude which leads to joy and contentment in all circumstance in life, especially the painful and difficult ones. All of which are evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Gal. 5:22
  • Being thankful keeps me humble and ultimately draws me closer to my Heavenly Father. Phil. 2:1-11.

So far during this thanksgiving season, I am thankful for getting the giggles with friends. I'm thankful for my family who serve me daily with joy in doing so. I'm thankful that I get to be an aunt to some pretty rad nieces and nephews and I’m thankful that as a woman I can wear blue jeans and even reveal my ankles without shame.  I have many more days to express all that I am grateful for. My hope is that I become a person in who a spirit of thanks is an attribute that reflects the goodness of a good God!

Having a heart of thanks is contagious. I hope you’ve caught it bad this season!

Why is it important to you to give thanks publically and what are you thankful for?

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  Col. 2:6-7

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Sunrises

My brother Ben takes the most amazing pictures of the sunrise over Los Angeles. Ben is one of those guys who changes out advertisements on billboards lining the cities streets and freeways.

It’s from the height of one of these LA billboards where Ben captures incredible sunrises as the light chases out the darkness over the city. His pictures are incredible and unless you too are up before Starbucks puts on the morning brew, sunrises are easy to miss.

Los Angeles has a thick layer of haze –a glorified name for smog and ick- that looms above. It’s gross actually. And it is that gross, smothering layer of haze that gives off an incredible light show as the suns rays pierce through it. And it’s the coloring in the sky during a sunrise that is so beautiful.

The smog and ick really are particles of dirt and filth that float in the atmosphere.

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About
I drink coffee, read books, and travel. I’ve been able to drink coffee and discuss books with friends all over the world, simply because someone built a bridge and I made it east of the Mississippi and beyond. For this reason, I love bridges.


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