Saturday, September 29, 2012

Same People, Different Landscape

One of the Love146 partners who I had the opportunity to learn from in Cambodia was in the States recently. He posted some thoughts on facebook as he headed home from his first trip to this side of the world. I thought I'd share one thing that really grabbed me from what he said. It's always fascinating to hear cross cultural perspectives. 

"At a parking lot, a man said, '$15 for parking for 30 minutes.' I was astonished! A thought came into my head, 'My gosh! Parking car for 30 minutes costs our 3 meals in Cambodia.' Buying two sandwiches for breakfast, I paid $27. I felt, 'Oh! That is so expensive.' A silly thought came to my mind again, 'The price of 4 sandwiches is the same amount that we give to the families of the children to improve their lives (we give $50 as a micro-loan to help the family to start small business).' 4 NYC sandwiches can help to change a whole family and the entire community."

This was just one observation among many. There was no judgement in it. It's just a fact of our different landscapes. How quickly I forget these facts though. This was such a good reminder for me as we enter this month of choosing to say no to excess and yes to sharing with others in the Less is More Mix, For Love146. I'm not good at this. I often forget how blessed we are to be able to give. I'm asking God for these things to root down in my heart like they never have before. I'm asking for His Spirit to change me, help me become more intentional and for all of us that are participating in this to come alongside each other in unexpected ways, sharing in the beauty of what it really means to live life together. 

I hope that we can continue to develop ideas together and share in best practices that we've discovered that help us live well in the great Story we're a part of. 

* Sophany Pang is the director of Kone Kmeng out of Phnom Pen, Cambodia. You can follow them on facebook.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Glimpses of My Girl

My Emma's legs are growing stronger and longer on a daily basis, with bruises up and down that prove she plays hard and can hold her own with any girl or boy on the playground. She's growing and changing so much it's at the point where I just need to bottle some of her up and keep her tight by my side. Tonight as we cuddled I made her promise that she would always let me snuggle her, even when she's too old. "Of course!"she giggled, unable to imagine it any other way.

She doesn't see how she's growing into a valiant young lady.

She's been trying to whistle for a while now. She said she was going to try every morning and night until she got it and tonight it finally happened. She was so proud and informed us that she was to be called whistle-girl! for the rest of the night. An hour after she went to bed I could still hear the airy, high-pitched whistle coming from her room. I love how hard she worked at it and her pride in the accomplishment.

She doesn't see the compassion growing in her heart.  

Last week she was so excited because her teacher's daughter was having a baby. In the days before the baby's anticipated arrival, she would talk excitedly about him, by name. She was sharing in the joy of her teacher. But, she also learned the agony of sharing in someone's pain. The baby passed away soon after birth. I didn't know whether to tell her, but when she started talking about him again I just prayed that God would help me find the words.

As I told her the baby was with Jesus, she got angry with me. She couldn't understand why I would say such a thing. She kept telling me not to say something like that. To stop teasing her. She said babies weren't supposed to die. She kept repeating it, "No Mommy, babies aren't supposed to die." And how right she was.

"They're not," I told her, "It's so very sad but someday, someday God will make all the sad things come untrue. I promise." She bawled as I stopped the car and scooped her up.

She doesn't see the wisdom taking root in her soul.

As I picked her up from school yesterday she was unusually quiet, and as I bent down to ask her why she burst into tears. No one wanted to play with her. Now, when I dropped her off in the morning two little girls ran up screeching her name. I know the girl has friends but in that moment she felt alone and unloved. So we prayed together as I would do with my mom when I was hurting over friendship as a little girl. As we continued down the road she said, "They told us about the sad thing today, Mommy."

"Were you okay?"
"Did you cry?"

It seemed like too much sadness in one day for a 4-year old, but I had little to offer.

"You know how much I love you, baby?"
"You know how much daddy loves you?"
"You know how much God loves you?"
"Even more than you and daddy. Look, goats!"

And then my four year old was a four year old again.

She doesn't see how proud she makes this momma's heart. She doesn't see the lessons she teaches me on a daily basis and how I would jump through flames for her and her brother. She doesn't see how rich  she makes our lives and how her invitation to dance with her daddy melts my heart every time. There's so much she doesn't see now, but someday I hope she thinks back on these days and laughs that precious laugh knowing how much joy she's brought to our world.

One day.
One day she'll know.
Because one day she'll see all the unique, beloved beauty she is in the face of her own little girl.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Less Is More Mix, For Love146

Our Love146 task force wants to be a group of people that care about living justly in all areas of our lives. In light of this, we're asking questions and would love for you to join us. The essential question being asked is simply this: 

How can we make one change in our lives this month to live more justly?

If we don't practice justice in our everyday lives, how can we advocate for others in the big stuff? Too often we compartmentalize. For instance, how can we take a stand against human trafficking while continuing to buy products that are manufactured in ways that exploit people? While most people don't intentionally contribute to systems of exploitation, it takes hard work and a lot of thought to maintain a consistent ethic. We need to take the time to educate ourselves on what companies are mindful of how they treat their workers on all levels, and even be willing to pay more for products at times. Once we know, we're responsible. As a jump start to living justly, why not take some time to get out of the practice of being mass consumers? 

Here's the action item:

Take the month of October for the Less is More Mix, For Love146. The entire month of October we're choosing not to buy anything new but depending on God and each other to meet our needs. Feeling a fall chill in the air but don't have a sweatshirt? I have about ten that you can choose from. Your kid's backpack fell apart? Post it on the FB Love146 Lakeland Task Force page and I'm sure someone will take care of you. You wanted to win "most creative" at that upcoming Halloween party? Well, now is your chance. 

Anything that you would buy, borrow instead.

 If you're not in Lakeland, consider forming a group in your community. 

Becoming more informed consumers will put more money in our pockets. However, the purpose of this is not so we can hold onto more of our money. We're sharing so we can have the margin to be free with our money, living with open hands. By the end of the month, we have the goal of raising $1000 for Love146. Think we can do it?

What changes can you think of to live more justly this month?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Because Small Things Matter in Big Ways

I have little patience for politics. For years, I've disengaged because I can't find a home within either party. Political banter usually sends me straight into shut down mode. Seriously, I think an actual glaze may form over my eyes. The more I learn about human trafficking though, the more I realize this is no longer acceptable. Legislation is absolutely necessary to fight for the most vulnerable. I'm slowly approaching this new table, wondering if there could be room for someone like me - a reluctant participant who is willing to lend her voice if it'll mean giving voice to those who can't fight for themselves. I can only hope those who hold power will listen.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which will renew the Trafficking Protection Act of 2000, must pass before Congress ajourns at the end of the year. The original bill established the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Person. The annual Trafficking in Persons Report, establishes a global minimum standard for confronting trafficking and slavery, which has been our government's most important asset for fighting trafficking internationally. This tiered system provides leverage when a foreign government is unresponsive to demand to end abuses. The legislation also serves to provide domestic funding for assistance programs for survivors. 

IJM has organized a National Call-in Day to pass the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) for TODAY, September 4th. All you have to do is call your senators and ask them to make passing this legislation a priority. IJM makes it simple by providing a script, as well as the phone numbers of your senators. Pass the word around by tagging 10 people on facebook and asking them to participate. 

It's so ridiculously simple.

If you live in FL, I'll even give you the phone numbers to call: 

Senator (R-FL) Marco Rubio's Office
Phone: 202-224-3041
Senator (D-FL) Bill Nelson's Office
Phone: 202-224-5274

Here's what you'll see when you go to the IJM page:

TAKE ACTION: National Call-in Day to Pass the TVPRA on September 4!

Abolitionists around the country have been advocating for the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) – bi-partisan legislation that will sustain life-saving programs that fight human trafficking at home and abroad.
This legislation must pass before Congress adjourns at the end of the year. On September 4, IJM, the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), and abolitionists around the country are mobilizing for the National Call-In Day to Pass the TVPRA!
There are many issues competing for your Senators' attention right now, so they need to hear from constituents who care about ending modern-day slavery to make the TVPRA a priority. Let's work together to generate 3,000 calls – from all 50 states. Will you help us?


September 4 - Make and Log your Call!

Making the call is easier than you think. Enter your zip code to look up the phone numbers for your Senators, and use the script below to make your phone call (feel free to personalize it!). It only takes 2 minutes!

Sample Call-In Day Script:

"Hi, my name is [NAME] and I am a constituent from [City, State]. I’m calling to ask Senator [NAME] to support the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S.1301). This bill would help to combat human trafficking in the United States and around the world, something I really care about, and I would like the Senate to vote on it as soon as possible. Would you please pass my message on to the Senator? Thank you!"
We want to keep track of how many calls have been made to each senator's office, so after you've taken action, let us know! When you enter your zip code and click "Find Senators," the call log form will appear. Enter your name and email, and click "Log my calls!"


Spread The Word

Our goal is to generate 3,000 calls from all 50 states, but we need your help to reach that number. Tell your friends that you took action by sharing this through social media.