Better World Shopper

So I posted on facebook the other day that I found the greatest app of all time and I was totally addicted!

Check it out... Better World Shopper

I discovered it from one of my favorite blogs, Heather Hendrick and her family are missionaries in Haiti. She's currently doing posts on how they came to the decision to move to Haiti and how we can help the poor, whether that means from home or moving somewhere else to serve Him. You guys should check it out if you haven't.

Anyways back to the app. And there is also a book for those of you who don't have an apple device!

I've expressed before on this blog how important it is to me to spend my money wisely and to support companies who make a difference in a good way not a bad way. My wedding anniversary marks exactly one year since I've bought any clothing from a mall (disclosure: I had to buy new work pants and that's not possible to find in a thrift store but I seriously tried.) I've only bought clothing second hand, or from non-profits. I guess I found this app at the perfect timing because now that I've finished the end of my one year commitment I don't want to forget why I made this commitment in the first place. It is so important to me to spend my money in a way that helps others. I personally am not okay with the ways that some companies treat their staff in third world countries. One can argue that those people or in some cases children need the money regardless of how bad their working conditions are. But I know there are still going to be thousands of people buying these products if I stop. I want my money to affect people positively. There is a lot of great organizations that I love that empower women in third world countries and pay them extremely fair wages as well as teach them savings and life skills. These women have dreams and can raise their families on their own. I love that buying these products makes me feel good, and makes me feel like I'm impacting the lives of those less fortunate than me.

So this app is pretty great. It rates companies on five different factors.
1. Human Rights (sweatshops, child labor etc.)
2. The Environment (recycling, renewable energy etc.)
3. Animal Protection (animal testing, factory farming etc.)
4. Community Involvement (volunteer efforts, nonprofit alliances etc.)
5. Social Justice (fair wages, fatalities etc.)

I started this journey hoping that the clothing I could buy would make a difference and support things that were important to me. Now I can try to buy almost everything in a reasonable way. Like this app has everything, from airlines to gas to granola bars to cleaning supplies to gum. Companies are rated on a scale of A to F.

One of the most interesting things that I discovered is that a lot of the companies that advertise the things they are doing in third world countries, didn't actually do that good. And some companies that have come under a really bad rap for sweatshops etc. actually had way higher grades than I thought they would. I guess that just reminds me that advertising is that, advertising and tries to convince us to buy the product no matter what that means.

I'm really excited that I feel I can make informed decisions about what cleaning supplies I buy and also how I grocery shop. For some people this doesn't matter and I understand that. But for me it is really important and I will switch what I usually buy if it means the new product will make a better impact on the world. Check it out and make a decision for yourself and your life. Whatever that means. For me its drastic but maybe for you its baby steps and that's okay. We have a lot of opportunities to make an impact in this world and how we spend our money is one of the largest ways we can make an impact!


Life lately...

"Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love."
-Albus Dumbledore

Saw 7.2 yesterday, and it did not disappoint. I've grown up with Harry Potter. My mom has read me the books since I was a little girl and I've seen every movie as soon as it opened! I'm actually really sad that this era in my life has ended. I'm totally the geek that reads the books every year and I'm feeling a huge marathon once 7.2 comes out on video!

I went camping this weekend which was quite the adventure for me. I'm not a camper, I'm a hotel person. But I lived and in spite of some serious sleep deprivation I greatly enjoyed my time. I'm so incredibly grateful for my husbands' family. We all get along so great and I completely enjoy spending time with them, even if its which camping... My nieces and nephew completely steal my heart every time I`m with them. I have some serious baby fever and get a little frustrated by my long timeline to get my babies home. Five years is a really long time, but I want to make the most of the time I have just Shaun and I.

Work has been really frustrating lately. I`ve been feeling the same way I did before my job changed. I can feel my anxiety raising every Sunday night just knowing I have to get through another work week. I`ve been praying about this a lot and if God doesn`t want me at Canadian Tire anymore I really want that to be evident. I feel like work has just been bringing me down in the rest of my life. It tires and drains me out so much I feel like I`m not myself in the rest of my life. I think my biggest frustration with my job is I have such a passion for serving people and I want my life to make a difference. I don`t feel like my job allows that in the way I want. It`s so easy to say I would like a job with less stress and pressure and politics, but won`t that be in every job? I don't know for sure. The grass is always greener on the other side and I'm aware of that. But at the same time the thought of staying at this job until I have kids sends me until a full panic and completely overwhelms me. I don't think I'll make it without going off the deep end. Well pray with me if you want....

It's been the birthday month. Shaun's two Sundays ago and Dad's this last Sunday and my brothers is on Friday. Shaun hates presents and parties and I broke all the rules and bought him a watch that was way more money than I ever thought I would spend on a watch. Needless to say once he was over the anger he loves it!

Well sorry if this was a little scatterbrained but this is what I've been living lately!


My take on the STM conversation...

Blog world is currently in uproar about this thing we call STMs.

Kinda sounds way to close to STDs.

But seriously I'm going to try to be mature about this whole Short Term Missions thing. Because I have an opinion. It might be different than yours but that is okay.

STMs have been huge in my life and my walk with God. They have changed how I live and my beliefs. They have given me deep passions that I know are from the Lord. They are trips that I would never go back and change, and experiences I think others should have too.

My first STM was to good ol' America. It was through YWAM and we went to Denver for training and classes and then went into New Mexico to serve on the Navajo Reservation. What an experience that was. My little grade ten self sharing my faith with an animist in the market. It was the first time in my life I was forced to defend my faith. We also had many opportunities to serve the local church building (painting, sanding, etc.) What I look back upon that trip the greatest impact was probably had upon the youth on the team. It is possible that our park ministry and market ministry God used in someones life. It is also possible that they all just walked past us and didn't think about it again. But God truly changed me on that trip. He opened my eyes to His heart for the World. For the first time I saw beyond my little Mennonite town into the vast mission field before us.

My second STM was to Mexico. There we taught VBS for one week to an amazing group of kids who would not have had that opportunity had a team not come to serve. We practically shared the gospel and built relationships. This ministry relied on STMs coming in during the summer to run their VBS programs. We also helped in painting their new building. My heart broke for these kids during this trip. Kids who needed love and really needed Jesus.

My third STM was a longer trip to Uganda. God completely transformed my life during this trip. He evidently showed me the path He wants me to live. He showed me His deep heart for the poor. He gave me a passion for adoption. Most people I know will tell you that I came home from my two months in Uganda changed. I gave as much as I could during those two months and I pray that I made a small impact in a child's life.

There is a lot of criticism floating around about STMs and I will say sometimes they are done really badly. I'm sure every LTM has stories about some obnoxious person who came on an STM and made their life miserable for the entire time they were there. I've seen it first hand while I was in Uganda, people who were there just to take their pictures so they could go home and brag that they loved Africa and they are better Christians that you because they went and really served God with actual poor people. It happens. Poverty tourism happens and it sucks. It's not Godly at all and it makes me just as mad as you all do.

I'm reminded of what love really is:

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. 1 Corinthians 13:3

But sometimes people go on STMs with the right heart. A heart wanting to serve and to love. My youth kids just went out to Chicago to serve there for two weeks, and I can hardly wait to see how God changes their hearts. They want to serve Him and they all truly feel called to go on this trip. How can you tell me that's wrong?

See our God is so much bigger than messed up missions trips and I truly believe that when people go out with the right heart, Gods Grace will cover their mistakes and He will use it for His glory.

I also think that STMs lead to LTMs. Most LTMs you talk to started their journey in missions with an STM. They didn't just take the plunge, they dipped their feet first and God captured their heart and pulled them in full force. I also think that people who have been on STMs tend to give more to the work of missions. It is a lot easier to give your money when you've seen the fruits of it in action.

My biggest worry with all this talk is that people will start using bad STMs as an excuse. The excuse to sit on their lazy butts and do nothing for His kingdom. We must remember God calls us to go out.

Still later, as the Eleven were eating supper, he appeared and took them to task most severely for their stubborn unbelief, refusing to believe those who had seen him raised up. Then he said, "Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God's good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned. Mark 16:14-16
The poor, the needy, the widow and the orphan. We are called as Christ followers to love and take care of the least of these. I pray that we will not be ignorant of the needs around us. There are needs in my town and province, but also across the World and as a Christ follower I need to be doing all I can to help all of them. I am not only responsibly for my community for Jesus said, "Go into the World." We can't all become LTMs, though that would be amazing. If you aren't called to be an LTM, support an LTM, help meet their monthly expenses. Support organizations started by locals in third world countries. These people want to help their own, they don't always want help from us but sometimes they need help get that started, we can do that. Support aid organizations in countries going through extremely hard times. There is a huge drought right now in East Africa, why not give money to feed people who will die without the help. I strongly suggest giving to STMs because Gods grace can use these trips to change hearts and life directions. And if an STM changes the life of one person is it not worth that one lost sheep? 
We also need to remember the poor aren't always a flight away and there are great opportunities to serve right here. Local soup kitchens and food banks always need extra hands and donations. Churches have some great outreach programs that need volunteers. Pray about your role in "reaching the World." Jesus said our outlook must be global. So maybe that means time given on home base and finances given on the global base? Ask Jesus where He wants you to be serving, giving your time and money? And please don't use bad STMs as an excuse to sit on your butt and do nothing for God. There are so many out there that need help and need the gospel. Go and do something!