The Taste of Chocolate Just Isn’t So Sweet Now

Later this week we’ll ooh and aah over cute children in costume ringing our doorbells to trick or treat or marvel at the creativity of our friends and family on Facebook with clever costume ideas. I don’t know where you stand about participating in Halloween and that’s not what I’m here to write about today.  There are plenty of other blogs with excellent posts addressing this.  However the upcoming festivities do have me thinking about some big issues.

Let me start with a few stats about the October 31 holiday.

Did you know …

  • Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy a year for Halloween. That’s 16 billion fun sized Snickers bars or 158 trillion individual candy corns. (Huffington Post)
  • Almost 1.9 billion is spent purchasing candy for Halloween. (2007 U.S. Census Report)
  • Chocolate makes up about three-quarters of a trick-or-treater’s loot, according to the National Confectioners Association. (Real Simple)
  • A quick Google search shows me that kids consume on average 3,500-4,800 calories on Halloween. Whoa!

But let’s switch gears a bit. While many kids in the US are dressed in adorable costumes going from door to door collecting sweets, thousands of kids of a similar age in other countries are being forced to labor on cocoa farms providing the major US chocolate companies with their chocolate. That chocolate doesn’t taste so sweet now, does it?

If you aren’t familiar with the many ethical issues around child labor and the cocoa industry, please check out this post for more information. There’s also some helpful information on Wikipedia.

And now for what’s REALLY on my mind… In the last 10 years or so the word “intentional” has been a bit of a buzz word in Christians culture. As Christians we are really good about talking about being intentional with each other. Intentional community. Intentional in our small groups. Intentional in our workplaces. And so forth. But how are we doing at being intentional as consumers?

I don’t know about you, but my habits as a consumer are probably not much different than any other person. Do we know where the products we buy are coming from? If the people the major companies are buying from are justly paid for their resources? Do we care? Are we willing to pay more for fair trade? These things matter.

In order to be a good steward of what God has given me I can’t ignore this. I’m not willing to be part of the injustice for a cheap (but still quality – always quality!) cup of coffee or a snack sized Kit Kat to satisfy my love of chocolate.

I know I can’t do it all differently immediately. To expect that would be to set myself up for failure and then I might stop trying to do anything at all. But I can take small steps and prayerfully consider what my faith in Jesus Christ means for me as a consumer and I urge you to do the same.

More Information on Fair Trade Products:  http://www.fairtradeusa.org/

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Story and Glory

Thursday nights are one of the best nights of the week. It’s when my Fuller Wives small group meets. What an amazing group of women! We start out each year by sharing our testimonies.

Last night I had the opportunity to share my story. I love sharing my story because it forces me to take the time to remember. It’s an opportunity to remember what God has done. To remember His faithfulness. His goodness. His guidance. His provision. His grace.

I don’t know about you, but I am so quick to forget. And when I forget it leaves room for all sorts of things (like fear, anxiety, criticism, etc.) to creep into my life and make themselves comfortable. Far more comfortable than I would like these things to ever be in my life!

Whenever I am sharing my story, there are 5 questions I like to ask myself:

  1. Is this story I am sharing more about my actions or God’s actions in my life?
  2. Will the listener know more about me or more about God by the end?
  3. Have I been faithful to what God wants me to share? (This includes everything from whether or not I was prayerful about sharing, to a willingness to be open/vulnerable to integrating scripture!
  4. What’s the main message my listeners will be left with as a result of sharing my story?
  5. How does the way I am communicating my story reflect God’s bigger story?

It doesn’t matter if you feel like your story is powerful or compelling.  It’s not about us anyway. We serve a powerful God who has done something in your life and your story exists to bring Him glory and to reflect more of Him to the world around us.

Thank you God for the unique stories you have given each of us and the diverse ways that these stories show us more about You!

Fiesta!

A couple of weeks ago we threw a little Mexican themed dinner party, mostly with beloved Pinterest recipes. AND – the best part was I was able to turn our leftovers into some awesome chicken tortilla soup.  I LOVE being able to turn leftovers into something new because I get kind of bored eating the same thing over and over.  I’m not extreme like on that TV show (The Chew) where they blend up leftovers into something “amazing”. Yeah…that grosses me out.  But I am conscientious enough that I do NOT like food to go to waste when there are people starving around the world.
The Menu:
Crock Pot Chicken Salsa Tacos – I can’t find the pin, but all you do is dump chicken breasts, a jar of salsa and taco seasoning in the crock pot and let it cook on low all day! Yum!
Homemade Salsa – Tomatoes, Onion, Jalapeno, Cilantro, Sea Salt and Lime Juice all in the chopper together. Then voila – delicious, fresh salsa!
Tortilla Chips
The Leftovers:
Leftover chicken
Leftover Homemade Salsa
Leftover Corn Salsa
1 Can Black Beans
Chicken Broth
Cayenne Seasoning
Cumin
Simmer ingredients together for about 30 minutes and serve with tortilla chips and sour cream. Yum!

Birthday Celebrations!

We’ve kicked October off with lots of celebration!!  On October 4, Ru entered a new decade.  That’s right, it was the big 3-0 birthday, with Than’s 29th the very next day.  I love birthdays – it’s fun to have something to celebrate and I’m always reminded around my birthday how important celebration is.  I want to make a more intentional effort in the coming year to do more celebrating – big and small things alike, there is so much worth celebrating!

Our birthday weekend was filled with special treats, presents, a fancy dinner in Malibu overlooking the ocean, shopping, and the Star Trek movie (Than’s choice).  In celebration of his special day I even stayed awake for the whole thing!  We alternate who plans the celebrations each year.  He did the planning this year and I was beyond spoiled!

The next week I spent a few days down in Orange County at the Exponential West conference promoting Alpha.  It’s always fun to be out and about, away from my desk.  Christian conferences are always a reminder of what a small world it is.  At this conference I ran into one of the worship leaders from my church in Chicago, a whole team of people from my current church and a fellow Cedarville grad!

Somewhere in the midst of all that I came down with a really bad cold.  Normally a cold is not exactly blog worthy material, but this was the first time either of us had been really sick since getting married.  Than took very good care of me while I was sick and now nearly 2 weeks, 1 pack of antibiotics, 3 boxes of kleenex, 3 varieties of cough drops and some bright blue cough syrup later, I just have a lingering cough at nighttime.

This past week my mom and aunt have been in town.  We visited with other family in the area, went whale watching in San Diego, put them to work at the Sunday Community Meal, visited the Getty Villa, had fish ‘n chips on the beach, and sent them off to explore LA while we worked during the days.  It’s been fun having visitors all week – and added bonus, they like to do our dishes!  Ok maybe they don’t like to do them, but I’m telling you a cup or bowl can’t sit by the sink very long without one of them wandering into the kitchen and making sure they’re done!

Tonight we’ll finish out our week with a Bach concert downtown and then tomorrow we’ll send them back to the chilly weather of Indiana.

 

September Happenings

Another month has come and gone and the first week of the Fall quarter is over for Than.  September was full of some milestones in our little family.

  • We had our one year anniversary of living in California.  In some ways I can’t believe it’s been a year, but at the same time so much has happened in the past year!
  • Ru finished her TESOL certification – yay!  Now to move overseas and put it to use!  Or not. It’s just a great thing to have in my back pocket should it come in handy sometime in the future.  I have no immediate plans to put it to use, but I sure am glad to be done.  Working behind a computer all  day, the last thing I feel like doing in the evening is an online class with more time behind the computer.
  • Than took his GRE in preparation for for applying for the PhD program this year, which went very well.
  • Than has been asked to TA a class this Fall – very exciting!  He’s TA’ing with a professor who is very influential in his field.  This professor is one of the key reasons Than wanted to come to Fuller and it’s been amazing to watch new opportunities unfold in the year we’ve been here for Than to get to know him and learn from him.
  • And not nearly, as exciting, but still noteworthy… Our neighbor who’s music would make our floor shake has moved out – yay!  I can work in peace again without blasting my worship music to counteract the rap music!

Here’s to year 2 in California!  And hopefully more regular blog updates from us… But we’ll see how that goes!