A Holiday with A Cause

I love this time of year, Thanksgiving with a lot of great food, family and friends and the beginning of the Christmas season.  Maybe Black Friday is your thing or maybe Cyber Monday (both of which are now becoming weeks instead of days), whatever way you enjoy your holiday shopping I would love to share a few “slave-free” options.  With an estimated 20 million people enslaved globally today, it’s easy to say that human trafficking and modern day slavery are an epidemic hitting our society as a whole…and hitting us hard.  Many of our items that we purchase on a regular basis and especially during the holidays, such as clothing, coffee and chocolate are made with slave labor (including child labor).  These are precious people who are trafficked and/or exploited into harvesting materials and making these items for retail.  We can take a stand against slavery, do something about it and still buy our loved ones beautiful gifts.  When you are out shopping look for labels that read,”Fair Trade,” or you can also check out below just some of the websites that are out there.  There is no better time to start doing something for our fellow man than now.  Anne Frank once said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and happy shopping!

*Fair trade coffee and chocolate can be found at local grocery stores.

*Girl Set Free

*Thistle Farms

*Freeset USA

*iSanctuary/ Purpose Jewelry

MORE INFORMATION ON LABOR TRAFFICKING AND FORCED LABOR
https://polarisproject.org/labor-trafficking

 

Love is Hard.

We have all heard the phrase, “Love is a choice.” Sometimes that choice may feel easy, but lets face it there are many times when that choice feels hard. It feels easy when our children are smiling and obeying, but when the laundry and dishes are piled high, you are flat out exhausted and your children are throwing a fit because you didn’t cut the crust of their sandwich…it can get hard. It may feel easy to love when your spouse is being sweet and thoughtful, but when they are short with you, or say something thoughtless…it can get hard.

It’s not so much choosing to love, but choosing to respond in love that can be hard at times. I struggle with it, we all struggle with it. Recently, I saw this great picture of a scripture verse out of Romans 5:8. The scripture reads, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV) The image paraphrases the verse and says, “I loved you at your darkest.” Wow. In my darkest moment God loved and still loves me. He also calls us to love like that, except it is much harder for us to do. That is why we need His help.
As I write this, Ed Sheeran’s song “Photograph,” is playing in my mind.

Loving can hurt
Loving can hurt sometimes
But it’s the only thing that I know
When it gets hard
You know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive…

Loving can heal
Loving can mend your soul.

It isn’t hard to love the “lovely,” but what about the homeless man you see downtown that hasn’t bathed in a while? What about the woman who spits in your face when you tell her she is worth more than the $50 her pimp is getting for her? What about the person close to you who breaks your heart? I think about what Christ endured; the ridicule, the physical and emotional pain, the sting of death. And what for? Love. The cross wasn’t easy. Therefore love isn’t always easy. Yet, it is the most vital. It encourages, uplifts, frees, heals, restores, makes new and is desperately needed.

Remove the word “is” and you get…love hard (and with all you’ve got).

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Perpetual Hope

perpetualhope.001Christmas is known as the season of perpetual hope. Hope, a simple four letter word that carries so much meaning and something that so many are desperate for…sometimes the only thing people have to hold onto. The only thing they can see to hold on to.

I was thinking the other day about the word perpetual. Dictionary.com defines perpetual as:

  1. continuing or enduring forever; everlasting
  2. lasting an indefinitely long time
  3. continuing or continued without intermission or interruption, ceaseless
  4. blooming almost continuously throughout the season or year.

So perpetual hope means a hope that doesn’t cease, it continues without interruption, it’s everlasting…then really a “season” of perpetual hope is an oxymoron…there is no season for hope, but it is to continue without ending. Hope is essential to our lives even the Word of God says in Proverbs 13:12 that,” Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

What is it that you are hoping for this season? Let your heart not be sick in the waiting and let us also keep in our hearts those who have a hope of freedom and pray that 2016 will bring just that.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A Chocolate Holiday

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It’s hard to believe that the holidays are already upon us!  In all of our celebrating we must not forget those who are often used in slave labor to make the products we will be purchasing to give to our loved ones or place on our dinner tables.  It feels and often is nearly impossible to find items that are made completely without slave labor.  Yet, we can start in one simple area…chocolate.

According to the World Cocoa Foundation we consume 3 million tons of cocoa beans annually…68% of which is sourced from Africa, 17% from Asia/Oceania and 15% from Americas (Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia).  Simply put, that’s a lot of chocolate sourced on the backs of children, men and women who are paid nearly nothing (if anything) and live in horrible conditions, they are modern day slaves for our sweet tooth.

So during this upcoming holiday season, let’s take a step in the right direction of ending human trafficking and slavery and purchase our chocolate from companies who are sustainably sourcing their cocoa beans, using transparency in their supply chains, working to empower and create positive change in the communities they are sourcing from.  Here are some companies that are doing just that:

Lindt Chocolates 
http://www.lindt-spruengli.com/sustainability/sustainably-sourced/

Divine Chocolate Co.
http://www.divinechocolate.com/us/

The Endangered Species
http://www.chocolatebar.com/?page_id=18

You can also do a search on “Slave Free Chocolate,” for more options and don’t forget coffee too!

#untilallarefree #endmoderndayslavery

What ideas do you have to help fight slavery this holiday?  What are your favorite fair trade products?  Share with us!

 

Adopt a Month Campaign

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Adopt a month is a great opportunity to get involved in reaching the hurting and broken with the message “You are Loved.”  Individuals, groups, churches can all adopt a month in 2016 and provide the gifts for outreach for that chosen month.  For more details email us at illuminatingloveministries@gmail.com.

a broken heart.

Today my heart feels broken.

Broken for the forgotten.

Broken for the hurting.

Broken for the abandoned.

Broken for the children who are currently being targeted by traffickers and no one knows it.

Broken for the people who go about life and do not know what is happening to the children within their zip codes.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and my prayer is that the community in my state…in my nation awakens to this issue and decides to be apart of a solution.

There are so many who are working to fight trafficking in the United States and globally, but we need more.  We need more people to have their hearts broken for these enslaved souls and take a stand to say, “Not in my community!”  As this month goes along I ask that you would educate yourself on this epidemic, share the knowledge (because knowledge is meant to be shared) and decide how you can help end human trafficking in your community.  There are thousands of broken hearts and souls trapped in slavery today in the United States and they need your heart to help end it.

WHAT CAN I DO?

**Educate yourself on this issue.  Then share the information.

Some great websites include sharedhope.org, polarisproject.org, exoduscry.org, you can also check out the “Love Doesn’t Exploit” page of this website for some information.

Books to read: The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores, Renting Lacy by Linda Smith, Made in the USA by Alisa Jordheim

**Decide to do something…anything…just refuse to do nothing

You can play a part, no matter how big or how small it is all important!  You can give financially (or raise money) to an organization that is fighting trafficking, you can volunteer your time at an organization or outreach, you can host a speaker at your church, library, coffee house, etc.  There are many things that can be done to help victims.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, but let’s not let it end there.  Your heart is needed.

Until every heart is free.