Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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2013 Reading List

books

It was a great year for reading! I’ve already made it through 44 books this year, which is double last year’s reach of 22 books. I’m pretty proud! By the time I finish this year, I’ll hit 47. It’s by far a personal record. If I had a gold star, I’d give it to myself. 😉

And just so we’re clear, by reading I mean listening. I get through almost all of my books via Audible.com. It’s fantastic, especially if you have a long commute like I do. Highly recommend. It takes a little getting used to, especially if you are not typically an auditory learner. So, yes, there is plenty of tuning out and rewinding in the beginning. But now that I’m used to it, I love it. It makes car time so much better.

An interesting trend for me this year was fiction. I don’t generally read much fiction. Because I really don’t like to read, I typically read nonfiction in order to learn. It’s more of a means to an end because I like learning. But this year, I sort of got hooked on fiction books. And I already have several more planned to begin 2014, namely the Divergent series since the movie looks good.

Without further adieu, here’s what got my attention this year:

I’m currently listening to The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein since the second movie comes out next week. And then, I have two Advent books I’m trying to get through before the end of the year: Advent Conspiracy by Rick McKinley, Chris Seay and Greg Holder and God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I think these three will be an excellent way to finish out the year.

Did you read any good books this year?

What should I put on my list for next year?

 

(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

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I Have A Dream

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream Speech.”

I just can’t listen to this speech without tearing up, but the last several years, I’ve tried to watch it every Martin Luther King Day. It’s so moving, and so eloquent. It’s the picture of dedication and compassion. It’s a manifestation of God at work in His people. I totally understand when people compare MLK to a modern-day Moses.

Sadly though, I didn’t realize this milestone was approaching until just a few days ago. (Thank you, Twitter!) If I had, I might’ve tried to go to D.C. for the occasion, or at least The King Center here in Atlanta. It is certainly worthy of celebration. We’ve come a long way in 50 years, but there’s more work to be done. We pause to remember and honor, but we also make plans to press forward.

I think King’s speech ignites something deep inside many of us. It gives us a longing for justice. Freedom may have rung for some, but not all, and I think his speech reminds us of that as well.

So, I also have a dream.

I want everyone to be able to say, “Free at last. Free at last. Great God Almighty, we’re free at last.” There are approximately 27 million people around the world who can’t yet make that declaration. They are children, sons, daughters, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, family and friends. They are enslaved to someone else. Literally, a slave. They need someone to fight for their rights. As it did 50 years ago, it will take people from all walks of life, working hard, banding together and changing mindsets, saying that we won’t stand for this any longer. This is an injustice. It is a threat to society. It must stop. I will help.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if, in another 50 years, we marked the end of slavery around the world? We would look around and not see perfect people, but people who have progressed. People who realize that another’s suffering and civil liberties are worth their time and effort. We must understand that if one of us is hurting, we all carry that with us. We are connected, whether we want it or not. The products you buy, the image you project, the compassion or lack thereof that you show, the attitudes that you pass on to your children, the way you speak, and on and on. It affects us all as a society.

I don’t think my dream is too audacious. 50 years? It’s possible. The abolitionist movement is swelling around the globe, as it has done in the past. All it takes is one person telling another, and then passing it on. And soon, those people are a movement. They are a force. Change can happen. Change is happening. Don’t you want to be a part of it? Wouldn’t want to look back and say you were there?

Even if this isn’t your cause or dream, you can still make small choices that can improve someone else’s way of life. “I know that I am not the only person who does not want to wear people’s tragedy. I do not want to consume their suffering with my morning cup of coffee.” – Dave Batstone, founder of Not For Sale

Everyone deserves freedom. Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Help me give others the opportunity to make their own choices. Let’s end slavery in our lifetime.

I have a dream. What’s yours?

 


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Donations Needed for Solomon House

148166849Recently I’ve started working with a second organization on a volunteer basis called Solomon House, a division of Out of Darkness Atlanta. Because I’ve spent so much time with past abolitionist organizations working on outreach and education, I wanted to round out my experience on the other side of the issue, including rescue, recovery and rehabilitation. Solomon House is a short-term transitional facility for women leaving prostitution. (Note: Prostitutes have often been prosecuted for their actions, however, this is changing. A more aggressive legal approach is being made to prosecute pimps rather than prostitutes as many of them did not enter it willingly. They are often trafficked or enslaved through force or coercion.) Once rescued from the streets, which is done of their own free will in deciding they are ready to leave “the business” and enter into recovery, the Out of Darkness team takes them to Solomon House. There they wait to be placed into a long-term recovery program.

Because my schedule is pretty hectic leading up to The Orange Conference, my efforts are minimal right now. But one of the things I can easily do for them is to collect items they need. These women often come off the streets with nothing, and are just learning a routine of normalcy. You and I can create a more stable environment for them with just a few things from our everyday life.

Here is a list of items I’m continually collecting, so if you’ve got anything to donate, please let me know. And if you aren’t in the Atlanta area, I have no doubt there are places like this near you that need help.

  • Gently used women’s clothes, accessories, bras, shoes
  • Small suitcases
  • Baskets, like small laundry baskets
  • Totes for carrying their things into long-term recovery
  • Note cards and stationary
  • Journals
  • Life Recovery Bibles
  • Devotional books
  • Books: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers or Captivating by John & Tracey Eldridge
  • Pens
  • Full-sized toiletry items like toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush/toothpaste, face moisturizer, razors, sanitary pads and tampons
  • Hair brush/comb
  • Socks
  • New underwear
  • Bedroom slippers
  • Full sized towels, hand towels and wash cloths
  • Pillows
  • PJ’s
  • Twin sheets and blankets
  • Treats: hard candy, tea, chocolate, etc.
  • Gift cards for Solomon House groceries

It takes approximately $5,400 to put one woman through this process of recovery. With just a little help from each of us, we can make a big difference. One woman’s life is worth it.


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Why I Fight

April 4, 1968, changed history forever. It was no longer the life of a man, but the legacy he left behind. A woman lost her husband, four children lost their father, and the world lost one of the greatest leaders it had ever known.

Martin Luther King Jr. is a personal hero of mine, so I always take a moment to remember and honor him in my own way. For the last few years that’s meant listening to his “I Have A Dream” speech on YouTube.

If you have 15 minutes, I’d encourage you to listen to it again. It never fails to bring me to tears.

This year, though, I decided to listen to his “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech, the last one he gave. I’ve heard excerpts from it before, but as it’s about 45 minutes long I don’t know that I’ve heard the whole thing. Once again, I found him not only inspiring but somehow comforting.

I’ve always been drawn to the stories of Moses, Abraham Lincoln and MLK. Liberation and abolition were a part of my heart’s vocabulary before I truly understood what they meant. There was just something beautiful and righteous about helping others gain their freedom. I admired them for their actions, though I am saddened they were even necessary.

Personally, I still have a really hard time even processing the Civil Rights Movement. I am always baffled by the fact that it was in full swing only a decade or so before I was born. I just can’t fathom that life existed at all, but much less right before mine began. How was/is that kind of hate tolerated? Where does it come from? Why is it encouraged? I have sat and thought and shed tears wondering what I would do if I were in any of their situations. I have prayed with every fiber of my being that I am the kind of person would have fought for those people. It would have been ugly. It would have been hard. It would have been painful, mentally, spiritually, and quite possibly physically. But it would’ve been the right thing to do.

I can’t remember where, possibly in David Batstone’s book, Not For Sale, but someone spoke about the 27 million slaves in the world today, and then asked a question like, “When your children asked what you did to help them, what will you say?” I sat with that for a while, and then I smiled. I finally had the answer to the question that I wondered in my heart for so long. I now know that I am a part of the solution. I know that I wouldn’t, that I couldn’t, ignore it. I would never knowingly be part of the problem, but it would be easy enough to sit back and let someone else take charge. Except that, for me, I can’t. God has built it into me. Ignoring it or doing nothing wouldn’t be easy. It would eat at me until I acted on it because it’s part of my God-given design. I am, and always have been, an abolitionist. And now is my chance to prove it.

Today, listening to MLK’s speech, I feel I identified with him more than ever before. And while there are probably a hundred lessons to learn, I will share with you four that meant something in particular to me right now with where I’m at in life. If you’ve got 45 minutes, below is the speech in it’s entirety. It’s pretty remarkable. Or you can read it here.

1. IF YOU HEAR THE TRUTH, PREACH IT. For me, this means telling others about modern-day slavery. It is a message God has put within me to share. Yes, others can and will do it. But I won’t let them do it without me. It is “a kind of fire shut up in my bones.”

In his speech he said, “We need all of you. And you know what’s beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It’s a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones. And whenever injustice is around he tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and saith, ‘When God speaks who can but prophesy?’ Again with Amos, ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ Somehow the preach must say with Jesus, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me. And he’s anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.”

Amos 7:14-15, “But Amos replied, “I’m not a professional prophet, and I was never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people in Israel.’”

2. PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS. This lesson is very timely because my friends and I at Not For Sale Georgia released a Purchase With Purpose guide this fall. It’s filled with 250+ companies that care about social responsibility and are striving to ensure that their supply chain is slave free. I want to buy better, and I want to teach others to do the same.

In his speech he said, “Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with the white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget collectively—that means all of us together—collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine… That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it.

We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country and say, ‘God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask that you make them the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you’re not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”

3. BECOME DANGEROUSLY UNSELFISH. I, by nature, am selfish. But I want to change that. It’s part of the reason I’ve chosen my theme for the year as SIMPLIFY. I know once I personally have less, I’ll be able to give more. Like many of my friends who have been on mission trips and humanitarian trips, I have had the privilege to spend time with some people who have very little. As you’ve probably heard others say, they are almost always quite happy, and they eagerly share what little they have with you. How many middle to upper class Americans does that accurately describe? I’m guessing the Rx tablets at the doctor’s offices would say very few. If I don’t care as much about my “stuff,” then I won’t care as much about having less or sharing it. Hmmm, I’m pretty sure there’s a Beattitude in there somewhere.

In his speech he said, “Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school—be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together. Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.” He then goes on to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-27, following with, “And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But then the Good Samaritan came by and he reversed the question, ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’

4. I, TOO, HAVE GLIMPSED THE PROMISED LAND. I believe when MLK made this statement he simply meant that he had seen the capacity for what’s good, and what’s right. And he saw that change was on they way. I, too, am privileged to see that on a regular basis. More and more people are becoming aware that slavery is not an issue of the past, but one that continues to the present. It is no longer conversations of one or two people, but thousands. Event audiences are growing, people are asking questions, and moreover, they are asking what they can do. A motto of Not For Sale is to end slavery in this lifetime. I know some days, that seems an insurmountable task when you hear the number 27 million, or the heartbreaking story of a child sold into that life, or the number of Johns (perpetrators) even in your own community. And then, there are those glimpses of the Promised Land when you hear the story of a rescue, the birth of a new survivor. I do not know if slavery will end in my lifetime. I hope so. I pray so. I just know I have to get in there and be part of the fight.

In his speech he said, after describing the bomb threat to his plane, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!

This speech took place April 3, 1968. Dr. King was assassinated the next day. When I finally sit and have a conversation with MLK in Heaven, which is on my list, I won’t ask if he’d do it all again. I know without a doubt he would. After all, he’d been to the mountaintop. Who would want to come down from that? He did what God put inside him to do. There is no regret in that. I know there are moments he would like to have seen, like his children growing up, growing old with his wife, and hanging out with friends. But he fulfilled his mission. He did what he existed for. How amazing is that! I want that!

Today is a special day.We don’t just honor a life. We continue his legacy.

Why do I fight the battle of an abolitionist? I do it because my heroes did it. I do it because my God specifically designed me for it. I do it because I can. I do it because I must. I do it because in the midst of the darkness, there are glimpses of the Promised Land. And they make it worth the fight.

2 Kings 6:16-17, “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. ‘For there are more on our side than on theirs!’ Then Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!’ The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.”

27 million. It’s a lot. But there are more on our side than on theirs. God, whether you open my eyes to see it or not, I know you and your armies are there. I have faith.

I am not just living a life. I am continuing God’s legacy, just as Martin Luther King Jr did. Whether my name is celebrated by only one, or one million, I fight.


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Purchase With Purpose

You may be surprised to learn that I’ve done more this year than be sick, but it’s true. 😉

Over the past few months, a few Not For Sale Georgia friends and I have been working on an ethical buying guide called Purchase With Purpose. It’s definitely been a labor of love—a three-month labor that felt like the full nine! It started earlier this year when I learned more about the problem with child labor in the chocolate industry. I then wanted to make sure I was purchasing chocolate that was free of slave labor. From there, I wanted to expand into other areas of my life. I felt convicted to make sure that as many of my buying choices as possible reflect my values and concern for modern-day slavery. This trek wasn’t new to me as I had previously worked in the environmental sector, and had already made “green” a priority. Luckily for me, these worlds overlap in many ways.

But then I began to think about my friends and family. I wanted to help them make better choices. Even though this cause wasn’t theirs, I know many people who would do good by making safe buying choices; they just needed to be educated to do so. Think about it for a moment. If there were two pair of jeans, about the same price, style and quality, but one had a safe supply chain one was questionable, which would you buy? Many people I know would by the ones from a company who was doing good things. It’s the reason we all own TOMS shoes. You buy them not just because their cute, but a child in need receives a pair of shoes. Easy decision. I own four pairs!

I then approached my Not For Sale state directors about the idea. What if we created a buying guide that gave people a list of companies with safe supply chains? (A safe supply chain simply means that the items you buy were made without slave labor. From the raw materials to the finished product, all workers were treated fairly, paid a livable wage, and not forced or coerced to perform their job. Sadly, with over 30 million slaves around the world living today, you may find yourself surprised to know the reality of how your chocolate, clothes, soap, lamps, toys, electronics and anything in-between came to be.) And to build on that idea, what if we focused our fall quarterly meeting around the idea of buying ethically for the holidays?

They were both on board, and the project was given the green light. I’d seen some other buying guides, so this wasn’t a revolutionary idea. However, I wanted to help create one that 1) didn’t focus a lot on niche brands which most people didn’t know and didn’t have much access to, and 2) included local businesses. I wanted to make it approachable for the everyday consumer. And I wanted to reward and recognize local businesses who were going good.

A few others jumped in to help, and we began in late August. It’s been a wild and crazy couple of months. We unofficially debuted the guide at Not For Sale’s annual conference, the Global Forum, a few weeks ago. This was particularly exciting because the NFS main office became interested in what we were doing, and also very supportive. In fact, Emily, my partner on the project, and I were asked to speak at the event on our guide and how consumers can become more engaged in the issue. Our little audience responded well to what we had to say, and many gave us their email addresses to receive a final copy of the guide! That was definitely a highlight for me, as it was exciting to share all this research we’d been doing. And I wanted people to understand that, in reality, this wasn’t that hard. Since then, we’ve been invited into Not For Sale’s conversations on supply chains.  They have an excellent resource called Free2Work that I recommend if you want to learn more about forced labor and safe supply chains. They are able to do much more extensive research than us, and always adding to their list of reviewed companies. Additionally, F2W just released a report this week on ratings in the apparel industry. It’s good stuff. We are really thrilled to be a part of this conversation with them.

However, tonight was our big night! This is the night we’ve been counting down to. We officially debuted the Purchase With Purpose guide tonight at our NFS GA quarterly meeting! It seemed to be a big hit, and if it helps people buy better, then it’s done it’s job. All I wanted in the beginning was a tool to help the people I know buy better. I wanted my dollars to make sense. And I am proud to say I’ve done that.

Along with the guide announcement, Emily conducted a panel featuring speakers from several ethical companies: Foojee, Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co., Noonday Collection, Socialvest, Ten Thousand Villages and The Learning Tea. These folks were great! They educated and inspired the audience, and I truly believe they helped change some buying habits tonight. It was fantastic company to be in.

I’ve gotta say, I am still kind of amazed at how much this project has grown. I was hoping for the guide to 100 companies—we ended up with 250+ local, regional, national and international brands. And we still have plans to expand it. There are talks about making it an e-book or a website. Someone at the Global Forum even asked us if we were going to start writing or petitioning legislation on the matter! At this point, though, who knows. I just want it to be a resource for people like me, people who want to do good in the world. I think there are a lot of us out there. In fact, I think it’s the future of business. If you look closely, you are seeing it all around. As I saw with the eco-friendly movement, I believe supply chains are the next big issue in retail. More and more people care about what corporations do with their dollars. They want to support companies who have heart. They want to be a part of something that matters. And if they can do that by buying better toothpaste, then why not?

Start small. Start somewhere. Start today. Purchase with purpose.

 

To grab your own FREE copy of the guide, visit http://bit.ly/purchasewithpurpose. You can view and download it from there.

And if you’d like to connect with Not For Sale Georgia, text “NFSGA” to 50500.