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stand with me

Let me start by confessing that I am a chocoholic. In fact, I think I might be THE chocoholic. A day is just not complete with out at least a little (or a lot) of chocolate. Chocolate makes so many things better.

There is a problem though that has been waging at me for a while and it isn’t that too much chocolate will make me fat. Most people have heard about it, it isn’t new news especially if you read blogs or are on social media, but for so long I was naive about it and I see many people are in that same boat, I see them writing things that I have said myself.

The problem is child labour/slave labour and unfair wages. Like I said, this is nothing new, what is new is my understanding of what that really means.

For ages I thought things like “Yes, child labour sucks, but if the family and child are desperate and starving then even if the wages aren’t exactly fair it is still some money for the family.” Oh how naive I was, looking at the issue through first world eyes that think of unfair wages as simply being below minimum wage. Despite growing up as an MK who is far from sheltered about how the world is, it wasn’t until I read Capturing Jasmina that my eyes were really opened to what words like “child labour” really mean and what is really happening around the world.

Most of these kids make no money at all so right there my previous assumptions of “some money is better than no money for the family” were refuted. A majority of these kids are trafficked, either promised a well paying job and a good life by lying adults, or kidnapped and brought into another country or area against their will. Either way they end up as slaves all for the sake of cheap chocolate.  5731050921_85d836c6f9_b

All of the big brands are guilty of it and most are lying to cover it up. (Watch the Dark Side of Chocolate documentary)

I have seen how wrong I was. My eyes have been opened to the problem and now that I know, I am responsible. I can pretend that it doesn’t matter and in doing such continue supporting these traffickers and those who pay them, or I can take a stand, be it ever so small. I can say goodbye to my love of chocolate from companies like Cadbury (I don’t like Hershey chocolate at all – it tastes cheap and fake- so that goodbye isn’t a hard one, and Nestle is only ok tasting).

There are options I don’t have to feel guilty about, this doesn’t have to be goodbye to all chocolate. We have a great local shop just down the street that sells delicious fair trade brands like Endangered Species. They are better quality and no one was beaten or starved or taken from their families so that it could be made. It may mean that I pay a little more, but it is not really THAT much more. It means reading labels and finding out about the companies I am supporting when I buy their products.

We forget how rich we are. Yes, we may have a tight budget, or not be able to afford things our neighbours have. We might life in a small house and drive an oldish car, but compared to so many we are filthy rich and the way we spend our money makes a big difference.

So, now you have a choice to. If you read to the end of this post you know too. If you watch the documentary then you know. You have a responsibility now too. You can choose to turn away and pretend it isn’t happening or you can take a stand with me and many other and each of our tiny stands together will start to make a big stand. 

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Images by Greg Westfall and Gerainting Rowland  

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Breathing Room | book review

I have to be honest, I chose this book to review purely based on the fact that the cover was beautiful and then life got crazy and it sat on my digital shelf and I felt increasingly more guilty that I hadn’t read it yet (which is a bit ironic considering the topic of the book). When I finally did read it I couldn’t believe what I had been missing.

Leeana is the wife of an active duty Navy Seal and the mother of three kids and she has moved overseas multiple times. She writes about being yourself, letting go of fear and beginning again when you go a little crazy or “have a moment”.

This book is for anyone who has ever lost her cool, for anyone who feels stressed out or restless, for anyone who knows she is blessed but can’t seem to believe it. This book is for women who are dealing with fear and anxiety, for women who feel lonely and aren’t sure why and for everyone else.

 

This book is so simple yet so profound, full of reminders that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, he knows we aren’t, He knows we will never arrive He just wants us to let go and let Him help us. “I look to Christ who, last time I checked has not asked me to do his job for him. What has Christ asked me to carry? If I’m honest, very little. In fact, if anything, over and over, he asks me to hand him anything I believe I possess.” 

Breathing Room is a great name for this book because it is truly a breath of fresh air. I think that we women work so hard every day to live up to what we think everyone needs and expects. We are full of anxiety and fear and stress. We have unreal expectations of what being a wife or a mom or a woman is based on media and Pinterest and what others are doing. We look at women around us and think they have it all figured out and forget that we are all broken, we all mess up, we all have stories, like one she tells in this book, about freaking out because our kids are acting out. We need to have grace for our children, but Leeana points out that we also need to have grace for ourselves. It sounds so simple but it is not something I had ever even thought about.

I could write out a hundred brilliant quotes that I have scribbled in my journal while reading, but I won’t. Just grab a copy and read it yourself, you will not be sorry. If you only read one book this year, make it this one; especially if you are too busy to read.

They always say not to judge a book by its cover but in this case do. The cover is beautiful and what is inside is even more beautiful! Thank you Leeana for pouring out your heart on these pages! This is one book I would like to buy a lot of copies of so I can hand them out to all of my girlfriends.

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beauty in contrast

I have been finding it hard to find the words to write lately. My heart feels heavy with so much pain and sorrow going on in the world. Pain for those in the Middle East, pain for those in West Africa and those who have loved ones there. Pain for family members who are dealing with loss and illness and for friends who have had to say goodbye to their little ones. So much grief, so much pain in this life.

It seems funny that with so much ugliness and pain in this world right now there is such a breathtakingly beautiful autumn this year. It seems so much more beautiful this year than the past few have been. The colours are so rich and vibrant and we have had so many beautiful sunny days. It is such a contrast to the grief and pain and horrors around us and around the world, but such a beautiful reminder that God is in control. No matter how bad things seem he is in control.

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peace

this ugly trend

It’s gotten me all riled up more than a few times now. This ugly fad that seems to be ever so popular these days among believers and most often among pastors. It is just plain despicable and has to stop!

It’s the fad of naming off “false prophets” or “false teachers”.

For some reason some pastors (and non-pastors) seem to think this is not only ok, but good. I have to be honest, it is making me sick.

I am not talking about pastors/teachers warning their flock about wrong teaching – teaching that is contrary to the gospel – but about pastors (and bloggers and Facebook/twitter members and many others) calling off lists of people and claiming they are false teachers based on “grey areas” or different interpretations of about “minor things”.

Let me be clear, there are some black and white issues worth standing firm for such as:

  • One God – three persons
  • Jesus being fully God and fully man
  • Jesus died and rose
  • Jesus is the only way to heaven and it is through faith not works

Grey areas are things like:

  • When the rapture will happen (pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trig, etc) and how the end times will play out
  • Styles of music to play in church
  • Interpretation of sign gifts (healing, tongues, etc) and if they are for today or not
  • Whether God chose who would be saved or just knew ahead because he is God
  • Styles of preaching for churches
  • What translation of the Bible we should use

Don’t get me wrong here, it is completely fine to have opinions about these things – opinions that you may hold very strongly to. I have opinions about each of these things and many other grey areas based on my own study and things I have been taught. The problem here is when we decide to let these differences of opinion divide us.

Do you think God is glorified when we do this? Is He glorified when a well known pastor stands before hundreds or even thousands both in person and via video/simulcast and lists off brothers and sisters in Christ calling them “frauds” or “false prophets” or “heretics”?

I am not talking about people who have “gone off the deep end and are teaching things like “everyone goes to heaven in the end” “love wins” “there is no hell” or “obey God to make yourself happy” etc.  I am talking about brothers and sisters who believe the same as we do on all but the smallest issues that in the end really don’t matter.

Do I have an opinion on end times doctrine? Yes. Is it possible that I am wrong? Uh, Yes!Int eh end will it matter? NO! When Christ comes back i won’t care if I was correct or someone else was all that will matter is that we are with Christ and everything is finally clear.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Romans 12:18

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3

And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14

I appeal to you brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and there be no devisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement, For I have been informed that there are quarrels among you… 1Corinthians 18:10

Unity guys! Unity doesn’t mean that we agree on everything, but that we agree on the crucial things and walk together encouraging each other as we all seek to grow closer the Lord.

Does calling my brother in Christ a false teacher promote unity? Um…no … it doesn’t.

I gotta call it like it is for a second here. It is immature, prideful, stupid, unacceptable and is gossip. Plain old filthy gossip which is one of the few things God actually says that He hates. (Proverbs 6:16 “…a person who stirs up conflict in the community” )

So please, lets put and end to this despicable trend! Let’s strive for unity. Let’s set an example to the world instead of giving them another reason to call us hypocrites. The world is doing a good enough job of hating us and trying to tear us down without us helping by doing it to each other.

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PS I have been writing and re-writing this post in my head for a few months now so hopefully it came out clear enough in the end. Just ask my family, it is something I have ranted about in person more than a few times too.

 

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what we march for

I drove over to my parents house yesterday evening to deliver some of their favourite butter tarts from Grandma Lamb, and while I did I listened to the radio. As it often the case with CBC radio, they were talking about “really important news” but for some reason this story really hit me and is still bothering me.

The report was about the big “People’s Climate March” that happened yesterday in Manhattan and 250 other places around the world.

While I am all for taking care of our planet and choosing organic when possible and limiting waste and all of that good stuff, I can’t help but think about what is going in the world right now.

ISIS and Hamas are murdering thousands of children, women and men and attempting to take over the world and put us all under Sharia Law.

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Ebola is ravaging Western Africa and devastating countries like Liberia. People are starving because the economy is shot and there just isn’t enough food or medicine or even beds for the sick and dying.

Human Trafficking is still stealing the lives of millions of children and women.

Russia and the Ukraine are still a mess

Saeed Abendini and others are still being wrongfully imprisoned and all around the world anti-Semitism is rising to such a rate that we are in danger of another holocaust.

The list goes on and on and yet this big global march wasn’t for any of these things or anything else like it. The march was for “We want clean air. We want it now.

I have to admit it makes me want to cry, I am overwhelmed by sadness watching videos of this beautiful parade with big sunflowers and fancy floats as if in my head I can see them marching down the streets of Liberia, Haiti or Gaza dancing and chanting about clean air while all around them people are dying and starving and being imprisoned or kidnapped.

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Where is the global march for aid to Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea, Congo and Sierra Leone? Where is the global march for the children being murdered in the middle east by terrorists or the children being trafficked? Where is the global march for the Pastor who is still being held under horrible conditions in Iran and faces death daily?

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What are the things we are willing to march for?

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These and more beautifully heart wrenching images are Zoriah on Flickr’s Creative Commons 

adventure

using the time I have

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I have written before about my (our) desire to be involved in full time ministry of some sort whether that is through a local church or through missions of some sort not so locally. Both Caleb and I have a heart and passion for global missions and the church that only increases as time goes by.

The past few years have we have learned so much and been able to be involved in a variety of things that will only help us with whatever the future may hold, but to be honest they have mostly seemed like a waiting period. We know what we want to be doing but we are in still waiting for God’s timing. Not always waiting patiently…. Patients isn’t exactly one of my strengths.

It is easy to look back on the past 10 years and think we have been wasting our time, why didn’t we go on to more schooling right away after Bible School or why does God seem to keep closing doors when there is such a need. I know his timing is His own and I cannot see the whole picture but it is hard to really accept that sometimes.

So, my question these past few months has been “how can I best use this time of waiting, what can I do now or study now that might help me when a door finally opens?” Caleb is back in school so he is already working on that, but what about me, what can I do, what should I do? I’ve been asked what I would do if I were to go back to school and honestly my answer isn’t too different from what it was when I was deciding what to do after high school. I didn’t know then and I still don’t know now. Sometimes I think that nursing would be neat but then I realize that I would only really be interested in certain aspects of it; and let’s be honest, I did everything I could in high school to avoid the “boring” sciences/maths. LOL I didn’t take chemistry or geometry or physics or calculous. I did take biology but there were only a few parts of it that I was actually interested in.  I have always been interested in Phycology, but I don’t know that that is really for me either. Business is just boring (sorry if you took that, it is great that you did and I am sure it wasn’t boring to you). There are a lot of things I am interested in, but since I get bored so quickly I don’t know that most of them would be worth investing in.

Finally through a lot of reading different books (Restless was a helpful one) I started thinking about becoming a doula. My mom and sister are both doulas so it isn’t a new thing to me, or new for me to consider studying. As a birth photographer the tidbits I have learned from them have been SO helpful and I have gained more insight into the whole process.

I started thinking about what my role might be in future ministry, especially if we do end up in another country. A lot of women don’t have care or support when they deliver their babies, especially overseas. As a doula I won’t be trained in any of the medical aspects of birth but will be trained in more ways to assist moms and alleviate their discomfort etc.

After a lot of time and prayer and thought I finally bit the bullet, paid the fee and started my class. I am excited and a bit nervous. I suddenly feel like I have jumped into this field that I know nothing about despite all that I do know already. I have witnessed a lot of births and helped a lot of moms but suddenly I feel like a newbie. It is exciting and scary and I am so thankful to have two awesome certified doulas in my family who can guide me.

So this is it, my new adventure has begun!

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one body

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It has been all over the internet for a couple of weeks now, a well known pastor in disgrace. It seems that when things like this happen the world is just waiting or it, holding their breath waiting for us to screw up and then they just revel in it – they can hardly contain their excitement, and not just the world but a large number of believers as well. It only takes a quick search on twitter to see the anger, the “I told you so”s, and name calling from other believers.

I am not a Mars Hill attender and I don’t regularly listen to Mark, but I have a few times and when I did have learned from him. I can’t say that I always agree with him or condone the mistakes he has made, but I appreciate what I have learned from him as I have learned from many of the other Act29 pastors.

Last night I watched the video of him speaking with his church and telling them he is stepping down and my heart was saddened. You see, our church has come through something sort of similar so I have seen, first hand, the pain and damage that can be caused when a leader steps down. Even if the change is necessary, it can break a church and that should be heartbreaking to us.

Even if I don’t always agree with Mark, he is a brother in Christ, a part of the body just like we are and it should hurt us when we see him hurting and his church hurting.

I am finding it hard to find the words to express what is on my heart so I will leave it with this:

  • Mark, I am praying for you and your family, that this time off will be healing and you will grow.
  • Mars Hills members, I am praying for you all, praying that you will be gracious towards those who may not be gracious towards you. That you will be supportive of your elders as they try to serve you and that you will remember that God is in control and no matter what happens with leadership He is the reason you gather. I am praying that this brings your church even closer together as you seek to comfort one another and follow Jesus.
  • To those who have been hurt by Mark, I am praying for you that you will find healing and forgiveness. That you will be gracious towards each other and towards those who have hurt you.
  • To the leaders who had to make some really hard choices, I am praying for all of you as well. I know this was not easy for you at all and I pray that God would give you peace and the grace  and desire to renew those friendships when the time is right.

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Capturing Jasmina | Book Review

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I have the pleasure of reviewing another book that I can’t say enough good about. Reading Capturing Jasmina by Kimberly Rae was like being given the diary of a girl who has been through unimaginable things, sold by her parents to a trafficker, escaped only to immediately fall into the hands of yet another trafficker. It is a story of loss and devastation turned to hope and love and big dreams and because of the way it is written you feel so personally involved. I fell in love with Jasmina right away on page 1 (which I read last night…..ya, I could hardly put this book down)  and when I came to the last page I sat for a few minutes sad that it was over already. Trafficking is all over the news and internet these days, it is in the movies we watch and many of us follow A21 on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram so we hear stories of girls like Jasmina being rescued, but to actually read HER story in her words was amazing. It is easy to read and not a long book so it is a pretty quick read (obviously, since i read the whole thing in about 12 hours and DID stop to sleep, mop my floors, shower and feed my kids.) It would be safe for teenagers and even pre-teens to read (in my opinion) since it doesn’t go into detail at all about sex trafficking or drug use. This was is a really beautiful book and I very much hope there will be a book 2, I am dying to hear the rest of her story! signature

Dirty Faith

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I had the pleasure of reviewing an amazing book that released today called Dirty Faith for Bethany House Publishing. I read the description for the book before deciding to review it and thought that it could be good – wow did it deliver! David talks about his work at Hope Unlimited in Brazil, and organization that gives a home and education to the poorest and more desperate street kids while showing and teaching them about Christ’s love for them.

David isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and I love that! He calls out believers for our lack of really caring of the “least of these”, sure we all want to take care of the adorable little orphan baby or send money through an organization like Compassion or World Vision to the cute little kid and that is so very important – don’t get me wrong, but what about the older children who have been selling themselves for years and are not so cute and cuddly, or are addicted to hard drugs and have become violent offenders due to life on the streets and the violence done to them. They are still the “least of these”, they are still made in God’s image and worthy of love.

David challenges us to compare what we believe to how we live and see how badly we are failing. Jesus said that whatever you do to the least of these you do to me, well if we really believe that is the case then most of us are ignoring him most of the time, maybe sending money every so often, writing a letter once in a while if ever, and maybe shedding a tear when we read something or watch something about them.  That isn’t enough, not by a long shot. We are supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ on this earth, we are supposed to be the way the world sees His love and yet there are enough orphaned or abandoned children in this world to more than populate the entire country of Russia. It is unacceptable. We need to make a change NOW.

If you read my blog regularly you will know that I don’t like to beat around the bush about our responsibility as believers, so I loved that David wrote that way to, in fact he was even more direct (fearless) in his challenges.

This book was like an amazing combination of Radical by David Platt and Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, he tells stories like Katie does and challenges us to really live what we say we believe like David Platt does.

All in all I could not give this a book a higher rating that I did, it is excellent and I believe that every Christian needs to read it.  Dirty Faith has made me think a lot about my future and what future ministry might look like for our family and I know God will use the things I read in this book to make me more like Him.

 

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PS I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishing for the purpose of this review but was free to give an honest and unbiased review.

legacy

legacy-2 “Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband he also praises her.”

As I have mentioned before these past few weeks have been a flurry of activity. My father-in-laws parents and 5 siblings have been here visiting along with their spouses and all of their children and grandchildren. Most of them have gone but a few, including his parents are still here for my brother-in-laws wedding this weekend.

This week happens to be a big week for us to, apart from everything else going on this week we celebrate our 10th anniversary. It is crazy how quickly it has come.

I have spend a big of time today thinking about everything. Zachary and Elisha (just a different spelling and slightly different pronunciation of Aleisha – not the prophet) are getting ready to start their lives together, full of hopes and dreams for the future, full of newlywed love, possibly thinking about children down the line and decorating their new home. Everything to them is so new.

Then I turn and look at George and Esther and I see a legacy of love and care. I don’t see newlywed love. I see something different, something much greater and stronger, something more beautiful even than Elisha will be in her white dress (although I am sure she will be stunning). I see an 80something year old woman, full of grace, joy and love caring for her 93 year old husband who is no longer the spry young man she married. I see her giving up so much (she is a woman who has way more energy than any 80something I have ever met) making sure her husband doesn’t fall, gets rest and knows that she is right there when he needs her. I see the way she loves each of her 6 children and 4 children-in-law; how she prays for every one of them and all their children and grandchildren.

And there we are somewhere in the middle, not newlyweds by a long shot now but no where near the legacy of Esther and George. When I thought of 10 years before it seemed like a “wow” thing, so many people don’t reach that these days; and then i look at Esther and see more than 60 years and it puts things into perspective a bit. Will I be as caring as her if I reach 60 years of marriage? Will I be a loving and gentle as she is if Caleb’s health deteriorates like his grandfathers?

I look at these milestones of marriage, like 10 years, 20 years, 25 years, etc as being some kind of goal in marriage, like reaching those milestones and still being happily married is something amazing. While it is and is something to celebrate for sure, our legacy is what really matters. The WAY we love is what really matters. The husband who stands by his new wife after a horrible accident and serves her and is faithful to her, the wife who walks with her husband through chemo or MS, the husband, like by grandfather Robert, who cares for his wife through advanced Parkinson’s and also cared for her aging mother through many health issues right up to the end. The woman, like Esther who helps her husband get his food, and wipes his mouth and puts him to bed after 60some years of marriage. These are the heroes of marriage. These are the ones that I think Proverbs 31 is talking about. The ones who love sacrificially, whose love for Christ spills over into this beautiful love for those around them. They do not complain or grumble, they serve with grace.

I just wanted to take a few moments today on the eve of my anniversary to recognize them because I can’t think of many better pictures of love.

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