Monthly Archives: November 2012

This spoke to my heart today. Thankful for my dear friend Katie & God using her to speak to others on the topic of pride.

on being wilde

Welcome to another post based on a cliche. At this point, an apology would probably not even be necessary since you are still coming back, right?

They say that “Pride comes before the fall.” You can take this one straight to the bank since it came right from the pages of Scripture.

First pride, then the crash–

The bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

Proverbs 16:18 (MSG)

I see it in the waves. They swell, and then they crash. The greater they swell, the louder & fiercer they crash. Isn’t the human soul the same?

Oh, how I have too often judged & condemned another’s pride & predicted their fall to destruction from atop my perch of ‘humility’. I figured this kind of fall didn’t apply to me because I had lived my entire life so steeped in insecurity that pride could not possibly be a problem…

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Quality & Quantity

Tea ~ Jasmine Pearls

I hope you and your families had a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving holiday! I hosted about 20 people at our place on Thursday afternoon and my parents and my cousin stayed the night and then we had some friends spend the rest of the weekend with us. I am thankful for holidays that we have time off from work to spend quality time with loved ones.

While I was able to do that, there are countless others here in America and abroad that do not have that freedom. As we pulled our turkey out of the roaster and brought in extra tables for dinner, there were Wal-Mart employees who are required to work Thanksgiving to gear up for the black Friday rush (I won’t give credit to this day by capitalizing black). There were brick makers working in India who will never be able to repay a debt and that burden is passed down to their children and grandchildren to be slaves in horrible conditions for more than just an 8 or 10-hour workday.

As tempting as those black Friday deals are with door busters and early bird sales beginning in the wee hours of the morning on Friday or on Thanksgiving Day, I have felt like I would be selling my soul to save $50. My family has never been big on gift-giving in the first place, and I am grateful that we don’t typically buy each other things that we don’t need.

Even before the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving preparations began (where I was only almost run over twice by hurried or distracted shoppers), I have had a heavy heart with consumerism. Not only did I not want to participate in what our country calls black Friday, I have also become much more thoughtful in what I am buying. Where is the money that God has provided my family and I going? What is it supporting? I hesitate to buy new clothes at all these days. Are there men, women and children here or in another country being forced to make my clothing so that I can buy MORE shirts, skirts and shoes? Am I driven by quantity?

I do enjoy sale racks and items from last season as they become unwanted, but I still ask myself if I really need it? I also appreciate the resale shops the neighborhoods of Chicago have to offer. I find myself preferring this method of shopping because these items have already been discarded and then I am supporting a local business to keep this method alive.

Do you know what you are supporting with your money? Have you thought about making small changes to buy fair trade (like The Green Heart Shop in Wicker Park/online,  Midwest Teasmith online or Natril Gear online) or resale as we join together to stop human trafficking? I invite you to join me this holiday season in this challenge.

Along with Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. If you would like to support Traffick Free in Chicago (a non-profit organization I volunteer for to combat human trafficking) with a financial gift, please e-mail findoutmore@traffickfree.org

Just remember that every dollar you spend supports something. You are making a decision with that dollar. Be informed about where your money goes. If you want to pay an incredibly low price for a product, it is possible that in order to get that price, wages are being cut. I hope you’ll consider this when you want to spend no more than $10 on a shirt that is not on the sale rack. I have recently started knitting and spent hours making a scarft for my husband (see below). This is turning out to be an $80 scarf! I have a new respect for homemade products as I myself have spent a lot of time to make gifts for family and friends. And just because the price is higher doesn’t mean the clothing makers are getting a fair wage, but retailers may be increasing the profit margin on that product.

I think this conviction has caused me to buy both less quanitity and better quality or used. It is changing my perspective on consumerism and materialism. I want other families to have quality time and days off on holidays too and these are just a few small changes I can make to see that happen someday.

Midwest TeaSMITH

tea leaves

As advocates of Tea both Sarah and myself want to make sure we are conveying to our readers whom the tea is being provided by.

Her website is  here:  Midwest Teasmith

Mrs. Smith has a wonderful business and tea website you should check out, order from (especially since Christmas is 6 weeks away!) and share with your friends. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment for Sarah or myself and we can contact Mrs. Smith on your behalf or answer your questions about tea! Happy steeping!

 Savvy Tea Steeper

Where is God in my Trials?

Tea ~ Caramel Apple

Have you ever gone through a hard time or been in a tough situation and thought, “Why me?” or “Where is God in this?” Perhaps you’ve lost your job, your health, or can’t seem to figure out your romantic relationships and you’re wondering if there is something wrong with you. You’re not the only one. I asked this question once, many years ago, soon after giving my life to Christ as a teenager. I’ve asked God what the point of going through struggles is. Why do I hurt? I’ve only had to ask this question once and go to Him in prayer, journaling and scripture and He has been SO faithful in His response again and again, comforting me when I feel like my world has been turned upside down and inside out and I am an emotional basket case. And since then, I’ve invited God’s trials and tests and actually prayed for them.

I know what you’re thinking, “WHAT?! WHY WOULD YOU EVER BRING THAT UPON YOURSELF?!” “WHY WOULD YOU PRAY FOR TRIALS?!”

I’m also a volleyball player and coach. I played division 1 collegiate volleyball nearly a decade ago. Was I a rock star? Not exactly, but I did pretty well. I also had my share of bench warming. Did I work my butt off to be the best I could be? You bet I did! That’s really all my coaches could expect from me and what I expect from my players. We are not all born with ridiculous athletic ability and 48″ verticals like Michael Jordan. What we can offer is our best effort. That includes hustle, having a good attitude, being a good teammate and respecting your coach and trusting their plan for your athletic career during your time with them. Will they always be right or know what they are doing? No, they are human too and they are doing the best they can with the knowledge and experience they have.

As a coach, it is my responsibility to not only get results and improvement from you as a player, but to get those results using the right technique. Anyone can get a serve to go over the net or put a ball through a basketball hoop, but can you do it in a way that prevents injuries or to score with a sense of urgency (aka aggressiveness)? If you can’t, then I’m going to be critiquing you. If you don’t want to be critiqued, then any coach would prefer you leave the gym. You’re wasting my time and yours. If you don’t intend to try to do what your coach asks of you, it’s disrespectful. And you’re saying you prefer to do it your own way and that your coach doesn’t know anything. I prefer a less-gifted athlete who is there to improve and have fun than an All-American with a bad attitude and lack-luster work ethic.

After a few sessions with Miss All-American, I would probably stop giving her suggestions on how to speed up her arm swing or make her defense more efficient and just give her reps. Why bother? She’s not there to learn. Her pride in her ability as a player has gotten in the way of what is more important, which is all of the things I listed above in presenting our best effort.

But the less physically gifted athlete with a great attitude and work ethic? She is a JOY! And people always notice her improvement and comment on it. ALWAYS! Am I proud of the good job I did with that player? Absolutely! But she was also willing to be critiqued, and that is half of the equation for improvement. Sometimes she may think I’m riding her and she may get frustrated that she can’t do anything right, but that is not true at all! I’m on her case because she has the potential to be a great player and I care enough to help her become just that. And that, my friends, is not a waste of my time. I want my players to reach their potential, just as I want the same for myself, even as an adult! I LOVE to be coached in my sport!

Did you know that God wants the same for us? He wants us to reach our potential as a follower of Christ. In order to do that, He tests us. This looks different for everyone, but each of us will be tested by God or God will allow Satan to tempt us just as He did with His servant, Job. God does not call us to be happy, He calls us to be holy and to make His name more famous and further His Kingdom. So how are we to respond to these trials?

There are SO many scriptures that talk about trials and suffering and God’s promises are right alongside them. I couldn’t even post them all:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and completenot lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“…we patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind…we serve God whether people honor us or despise us…we are honest, but they call us imposters…our hearts ache, but we always have joy…” 2 Corinthians 6:3-13 (please read this one!)

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Others – Matthew 16:21-23, Philippians 3:7-11, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

So what does God promise us? He promises that we will encounter trials; our trials will not last very long; He will comfort us and give us peace; others will comfort us because they have had a similar situation. God loves us so much, cares enough to see our potential and what we can become; he rides us to form us to be more like Christ. We should rejoice in our trials, for they refine us and cause us to trust Him and rely on Him more. And when we trust Him more, we LACK NOTHING!

Jesus is the ultimate picture of trials and suffering and scripture lays it out directly in how he handled his sufferings in 1 Peter, chapter 2. And when Jesus started predicting his future suffering and death to his disciples, Peter said “This will never happen to you!” (Matt. 16:22). Immediately, Jesus said “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (vs. 23). Wow! Jesus called him out and did not want to be tempted to avoid his sufferings. He wanted to be made perfect in his trials.

How many times have I been guilty of seeing things from a human perspective instead of God’s in terms of trials and suffering? Both in avoidance and response with pride or a bad attitude like Miss All-American; thinking that my way is better? I want to be refined! I am honored and blessed that God would have something to teach me when I encounter a trial! I want more! More reps to improve my technique and game. I want to give all the glory to God, who is worthy of all praise & adoration. I want to be a better player for Christ so I can then go forth and coach others. I learned more about myself on the bench during my trials as a player when it wasn’t my ideal situation or where I wanted to be than I did on the court. I wouldn’t trade those lessons for anything because it shaped my character and made me a better teammate.

Not everyone is in a place in their walk with the Lord to pray such a bold prayer, and that’s ok! I encourage you to ask God where you might be challenged and refined in Him, knowing all along that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice and suffered so that we might rejoice and have hope and peace. “By his wounds, you are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24, and then made mature and complete, lacking nothing. Put forth your best effort (& pray for a change of heart), because we are not all gifted in the same ways. God desires and delights in a teachable spirit and then we are His PRIDE and JOY.

Be encouraged!

Being a Patriot is Being an Advocate

Tea ~ Organic Earl Grey

In honor of Election Day, I am going to share a quick post with you. I am the Communications Director for an anti-human trafficking organization called Traffick Free in Chicago. We are 100% volunteer run and are planning to get a safe house up and running in the next couple of years. If you aren’t familiar with human trafficking or that it happens in the USA in large cities and small towns, please visit Traffick Free‘s website for more information. I’m sure I’ll post again on this topic with more detail in the future, but this applies to today:

ELECTION DAY!

My friend and Executive Director of TF, Laura, and I wrote a blog post in honor of this day. Not only to get out and vote, but why and how each person in our country can take part in ending modern day slavery. You can read it on the Traffick Free website, but if you are like me and don’t like to click to a bunch of websites, you’re welcome. I’ve pasted it below.

People are always eager to know what it is they can do to fight human trafficking. We are blessed to know so many modern-day abolitionists that are willing to give of their time to coordinate 5k’s in the city and the suburbs that have reached thousands in the Chicagoland area this year alone; abolitionists that write curriculum to educate our youth in hopes of preventing human trafficking from happening in the first place; abolitionists that are willing to take on full-time volunteer positions to do everything they can to make a difference.

Those with less time to be able to dedicate to this cause are careful to buy fair trade and direct buy as often as possible, host movie screenings for their friends, and keep up with our social media posts and repost news and victories in the movement to spread the word to their friends.

Today, we all have an opportunity to do something tangible in the cause we fight for: GO OUT AND VOTE. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act is still awaiting reauthorization. The Illinois Safe Children Act was passed with just one round of review through our state’s House and Senate. Know how your representatives voted. Know which bills your representatives are putting their names behind. Know how your elected individuals in the judicial system would rule in human trafficking cases. Know how the programs that are desperately needed are funded. Take your passion for this issue and speak out with your vote.

Now, more than ever, people are being made aware of human trafficking. Not merely internationally, but right here at home in the United States of America. Not merely nationally, but right here in your city. The impact of broken homes, violence, abuse, fear, coercion and intimidation has spread like a virus among us in our neighborhoods. Only a small percentage is trained to deal with each incident directly. But EVERY citizen has power in a pen to deal with the issue as a whole from the top down in government legislation to protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.

No longer are you allowed an excuse that there is nothing you can do to make a change. Men and women before us have worked hard to ensure our right to vote and we can now exercise that right by using it to effect legislative, judicial and executive positions. Give your pen a voice and vote.

by: Laura Ng, Exective Director & Sarah Amidon, Communications Director

*Traffick Free is not affiliated with any political party.

Be a patriot. What cause are you or can you be an advocate for? Get out and vote. And more importantly, pray for our leaders regardless of who wins.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior…” 1 Timothy 2:1-3