Sunday, June 20, 2010

peace lover or peacemaker?

"A peace lover is someone who enjoys the absence of conflict, but a peacemaker is someone who is proactively engaged in works of reconciliation in every sphere of life, from the personal to the global." -Chasing Francis, p. 136


...an interesting way to put it. I find myself asking, which one am I?

2 of my lovely friends, Kelly and Lindsay, on International Day of Peace at Marshall

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why I Don't Shop at Wal*Mart

citation: mrzine.monthlyreview.org

Some of you have heard the rant 50,000 times, but it has become apparent to me that others have wondered exactly...why do i refuse to shop at wal-mart?

i mean after all--low prices, opened 24 hours, easily accessible (they are everywhere) and the list goes on.

Well it's been almost 3 years since i have purchased something from this company, and i can thank my professor who enlightened me with "The High Cost of Low Price" [http://www.walmartmovie.com/] Now when I first saw this documentary that absolutely picks wal-mart apart from top do bottom on issues like global explotation, discrimination, costing taxpayers millions, running small businesss out of town, etc. etc. I sat in horror. I shopped at wal*mart at least every 2 weeks. I mean we were talking the place i got all my pictures developed, my contact solution, my school supplies, my underwear, etc etc. WAL-MART COULDN'T BE EVIL!!! My professor was obviously just angry at the world.

but.

it burned inside of me. After day 3 of the movie, i was mortified at what i had been supporting. Pause: some of you may be thinking "Kati, you let one documentary change you this much." Answer: no. I wanted this stuff to be untrue! I wanted low prices!! I DID!!! But to my dismay, as I researched and resarched...it was true. Wal-Mart really did have horrible practices. They really were getting sued. and they really WERE on the "Sweatshop Hall of Fame."

so that's when I did it. I felt so convicted. How could i support this type of treatment to these chinese and hondurus workers? how could i let any part of my dollar go toward such a disgusting act. and right then and there, I said...no to wal-mart.

Some of you may be thinking, "Kati, every place has sweatshops. Answer: No. And don't worry, I don't discriminate against Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart only, in fact, i desperately attempt to avoid all companies that are found guilty of such exploitation.

Some of you may also be thinking, "Well the only reason all this stuff is about Wal-Mart is because it's the largest corporation in the world." Answer: I'm sure that the fact that Wal-Mart is so large certainly affects how much of a microscope it is under. However, in no way, shape, or form, in my opinion, does that give us a reason to excuse their behavior. Not to mention, as a global corporate leader, isn't even more important for them to set a GOOD example rather than a horrible one?

So there it is. My main reason for not shopping at wal-mart. However, reason #2 is actually growing stronger these days. Here is a quote that sums it up beautifully:


"Wal-Mart’s corporate philosophy is to drive down the cost of doing business and keep profits high principally by reducing labor costs. Wal-Mart executives and shareholders are confident that the taxpayer will pick up the difference between their pay rate and a living wage. In a sense our social welfare system is enabling companies to operate sweatshops. I’m not suggesting we should eliminate the social safety net; rather I’m suggesting that when a company’s employees need to reach out for assistance, there should be consequences. If Wal -Mart prefers that the taxpayers subsidize their profits, then we should send them the bill." [http://www.examiner.com/x-2071-DC-Special-Interests-Examiner~y2009m1d12-WalMart-is-a-sweatshop]

do you realize thru many wal-mart practices, you the tax payer are contributing billions of dollars to their corporation/employees? that "great deal" isn't really a great deal in the long run. check out some these links for some statistics:

http://wakeupwalmart.com/facts/taxes.html

http://www.ideamouth.com/politics/walmartflyer.pdf


...so there you have it for anyone in the world who ever wondered or ever desired to know more about this giant that is literally trying to take over our country it seems. Is this decision easy? No. it's highly inconvenient on many occasions. is it do-able? totally. Am i special for doing this? No. Anyone can. And it would be beautiful if some saw it the way i did. but if you choose not to, well that's fine too. members or my own family still shop there and i still love them all the same.

my only wish is that this may open your eyes to the lesson I learned.."too good to be true" has a whole new meaning. and many times, our good bargains come at the price of someone else. some say free trade is overall the best thing, and there are always 2 sides to every argument. maybe it is overall the best, and maybe ANY Job, even when exploited is better than none. and maybe i am too much of an idealist, but..i believe in a better way. and this is what my heart says for now!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lifetime Prayer

I've been reading "Chasing Francis" by Ian Morgan Cron. I'm dreading ending it because it is truly opening my eyes and showing me so many great things, but for now, here's a little treasure i just read before bed.



O Lord, make us instruments of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that we may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life;

-francis of assisi


i want to paint this and hang it on a wall wherever i go in the years to come.

also reminds me of a wonderful song, Surely We Can Change, by david crowder band.

both are incredible reminders and prayers of the life i desire to live. who's with me? :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

heartache for Juarez, Mexico :(





my church has been going to Juarez for nearly 10 years teaming up with "casitas del ray" and other groups to help build homes, soup kitchens, have Bible school for the kids, and just love and serve the people of this violence-stricken city.

i got the chance to go 3 years ago and again the following year. Of course, as the rest of the group does year, after year, i fell in love with the hospitable, gracious people of the city. the children melted my heart and constantly wanted to hold hands, skip, and play--3 of my favorite activities! despite all the fun and joy, the violence there was very tense at the time. There is a drug war going on between the cartel of Juarez and the government. And even in our short time there, several murders occurred, we encountered the military right at our front door, and upon returning to the states we learned that our church was just 1.5 miles away from the location of dozens of raped and murdered women. Juarez is called the most dangerous city in the world by many sources.

wowza, right? I'm not going to lie, i had a few nightmares while i was there, but we constantly prayed and God was with us every step of the way to make sure we didn't let the fear affect loving and serving.

this year, my church will not go to Juarez as we are doing a local mission project, but just as the bumper stickers of many members say-- Juarez is in our hearts. Always. a few minutes ago, i "stumbled" upon this site of photographs of the latest violence. Tears welled up in my eyes as i thought of the many people i love there that have to deal with this on a daily basis. I wish I had the answer to all this, but all i can do is pray, and ask you to as well! Warning: before clicking on "site" please know the pictures are very graphic. but also very real.

in honor of those in Juarez, and of the woman who this story is about--here is a note i wrote about my time there in 2008::

I've had a lot of good hugs in my life, but 3 days ago, I received the best hug ever on a sandy street in Juarez, Mexico during my mission trip.

I know what you're thinking, how could I, a person who loves hugs and gives them out so often, possibly pick one out like this and call it the best? But read on and maybe you'll understand...

Our group went to Mexico to build a soup kitchen. A soup kitchen that had been prayed about for an entire year by an awesome preacher name Julio and his community. By Thursday, we had went extreme home makeover on that cement slab and constructed a cute little building were 45 hungry kids would be fed each day. We decorated it with bible verses and pictures too. The room's bright yellow walls would warm anybody's heart, seriously.

So after the building was constructed we had a dedication. Nearly 200 children showed up by the end of the night!! Along with plenty of adults. It was a the main event fo sho.

Shortly after the 2 hour preaching/singing/and other festivities we fed everyone hot dogs. Next was the toy give away. As this was coming to an end I was approached by an elderly lady. Kayla and I had passed her in the street from a distance a couple days before and she had that same familiar grin on her face this evening. As she approached me I could see her tanned, wrinkled cheeks. She put her hand out and was saying "Gracias" (thank you) in the most genuine tone I'd heard all week. Of course, I bypassed the hand and threw my arms around her for what I thought would be a brief, normal hug.

I was very wrong.

What started out as a wimpy hug turned into a full fledge grasp. She meant it. And as she spoke throughout the 3 minute intense embrace, I knew few words. I understood all the children, God, and thank you. Those phrases were repeated often. And somehow...standing there with sweat on my shirt and sand all over me, hanging on to a women who speaks a totally different language than myself...I could feel her thankfulness.

Yes. Feel it.

No one clings like that and speaks those words of thanksgiving without truly meaning it. And as we stand there arm in arm, I literally got goosebumps. And shortly before we released from our embrace, I looked down into her worn out eyes and saw tears. Tears of happiness. Tears from a lady who truly cared about all those little children running around. Tears from a lady who knew where the building came from...not from a group of 20 Americans, but from God. He made it happen. He just used us to help show His love.

And in that moment, it was all so clear.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Feeling.

Well, after finished Jesus for President (amazing, read it!!) and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (decent) --both of which took me about 6 months to finish, ha. I read at a snail's pace during school...I have now moved on to Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps. It's an interesting read, and although I still have 3 chapters left, I can safely say I have enjoyed it. Not necessarily a top fave, but has further opened my eyes in a lot of different ways from Jesus to technology and the world in general. Hipps is a smart dude!


One section I liked a whole lot was when Hipps talks about how the "print age" turned our world into one that thinks in linear, logical, black and white, factual ways. It is one that has pros and cons, but one of the biggest cons is that it demotes emotions. In applying this to faith, he talks about how this mindset turns people into only rational and cognitive beings, emotions don't count. He goes on to talk about how this is a major problem for several reasons: our heart and emotions are an integral part of our being and life with God, our emotions do help govern our behavior and when ignored can be very dangerous as it can resurrect in something negative, and lastly, it deadens desire. Our longing for life, love, and God fades.

Do you relate to this? I certainly do, and it saddens me to see the many people in the Church, specifically, the American church put almost alllll the emphasis on faith and never feeling. Feeling is looked at something that can come and go, so...it's irrelevant. But it's notirrelevant! It's actually kind of important, it's actually how we were created!

Have you ever felt God? There have been several vivid moments in my life where i have felt Him. So strongly and positively that i will never forget. these are by far the most cherished moments of my life, and i truly believe that God gave me my 5 senses for a reason other than just eating to stay alive. I believe he gave me emotions for things other than just crying when seeing a sad movie. I think He gave them to me to connect with me, too.

When I think of Hipps logic, and look back on my time in Swaziland--a place that would not be considering the "print age" type (that is, where literature and printed materials are a big part of culture)--emotions are a huge part of fellowship with God. Dancing, smiling, crying, laughing, clapping, etc. are not only encouraged, but cherished. When Swazi's worship, they do with their whole self, and it's gorgeous. And when describing their relationship with God, they use many more words of senses and feelings...not just large words like "justification" or "sanctification." (these words are fine, of course, I'm just making a point :))

So i guess what i'm saying is this: don't forget that we aren't just made to read, write, and regurgitate verses. We are made to enjoy our creator, to adore Him, to feel him...

Or as one quote by Allen Hood I recently read said,

"The heart can go a lifetime doing religious
services and exercises yet never gaze,
never adorn the object of worship.
We were made for encounter, for
experiencing the presence
and depths of God"


so take some time today to sit still, watch a sunrise, breathe, get uncomfortable to serve Him, love someone who doesn't love you back, or maybe love someone who the rest of the world has forgotten about...and whether you're adoring him or serving Him, don't be surprised when He shows up ;)