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Category Archives: Social Justice

Am I Nit-Picking?

I will get back to birthy posts soon, I promise.

Recently, Norah was participating in a food drive for United Christian Ministries.  Fantastic.  She helped pick out what foods we would donate each week.  We talked about need.  We talked about sharing. 

Then, I realized it was a contest within this group.  The group of kids who brought the most food would win a pizza party. 

A pizza party? 

See, I grew up with stuff like this.  Lots of rewards for good behavior, memorizing scripture, perfect attendance.  I kind of felt that way of thinking was behind us.  That we had a new understanding of social justice.  That the reward was in the doing and the giving.   

Somehow I cannot imagine Jesus, when he sent his disciples out, saying, “whosoever heals the most lepers will get first seating at the marriage supper of the lamb.” 

Actually he said they would be flogged and hated. 

Norah’s group didn’t win the party.  I’m relieved.  Because the people we were collecting cast-off, dusty cans of creamed corn probably don’t get many pizza parties. 

Am I a scrooge about this?  Maybe it is all harmless.  I know I can’t shelter her from shallow rewards and legalism.  But oh how I want her heart to stay tender to the needs around her.  I want to model ways of engaging with people without tidy third parties.

Or pizza parties.

Repost–Mindful Gift Ideas

A repost from last Christmas.  Let me add the Global Girlfriend as my new favorite site.  Yumminess.   

It is a slippery slope when one begins questioning the origins of products.  I find myself wondering if the chocolate my child is munching was made with beans harvested by enslaved children.  Or if the Mossimo pants that look so comfortable were sewn by abused women.  Ok, ok, I know this post is supposed to be about gift-giving!  I’m getting there.  We all know the holiday consumerism is out of control.  Nothing is as antithetical to the spirit of giving than a gift that originated in injustice. 

This holiday season, could you incorporate fairly-traded products into your gift-giving?  Even if you substitute three department store purchases with fairly traded items, you will be giving back to our global community.  Or better yet, give a donation straight to the global community in your gift recipient’s name.  Now, let me tempt you with some ideas that I found easily available online.   

Cambodian Rice Bag:  Fairly traded and made from recycled rice bags. Most bags are under 20.00. 

Reusable Lunch Tote:  Fairly traded and includes reusable utensils made from recycled buffalo horn. 

 Ceramic Dragonfly Flute:  Handmade in Nicaragua by Potters for Peace.

Fancy Chocolate:  You can be sure that this vegan dark chocolate is not only gluten-free; it is also slave-free.

Yummy Coffee:  Available locally to those of you in the Greenville area, this coffee is sustainably and ethically grown. 

Recycled Tire Tie:  Spice up the tired out gift of a boring old tie (pun intended, of course).

Olive Wood Salad Servers:  Fairly traded and gorgeous.  Free shipping included for under 30.00!

Dancing Girls Mobile:  Made by the Teenage Mothers and Girls Association of Kenya from recycled can, wire, and beads.

Babywearing Doll:  Handmade in Peru by a non-profit organization called Inca Kids.  A handmade gift for under 20.00. 

 Soccer Ball:  20% of this fair-trade purchase goes back to the Pakistan community.

Hostess Gifts:  gifts from SERRV under 10.00.  I love the jackfruit cricket.  Maybe a stocking stuffer?

Puzzle Box:  this elegant gift might be a good choice for your boss, teacher, or pastor.

Mayan Coloring Book:  maybe pair this with some of these recycled crayons?

Once you’ve found that perfect gift, consider sustainable packaging options:

  • If shipping, pack with popcorn instead of styro-peanuts or plastic bubbles! Include a note that the unsalted popcorn can be tossed in the recipient’s backyard for the birds to enjoy.
  • Box up your gifts in seeded packaging.  These boxes are made with wildflower seeds and can be planted for a gift that lasts.  You can even send seeded holiday cards that can be planted!
  • Skip wrapping paper and use fabric scraps, newspaper, old maps, or reuse gift bags.   Kitchen towels, organic baby blankets, or fair-trade scarf make excellent wraps. 
  • Wrap the gift in a reusable sandwich bag or larger gifts in a resuable shopping bag. 
  • Try wrapping gifts without tape (which is usually petroleum-based).  Use twine or yarn and creative folds to keep your gift bound.
  • Instead of a bow, use pinecones, holly, or even a CFL bulb.

How do you incorporate green or ethical choices into your holidays?


This is yesterday’s news but it has been a busy week.

On Monday, I participated in a Nurse-In.  Outside a radio station in Greenville.  By the side of a busy road.  With other women.  I breastfed my baby. 

Now I realize this action may not make a whole lot of sense to some of my readers.  Let me give the back story.

We have a local radio personality–Lisa Rollins–who went on a tirade on the air about seeing a mom nursing her baby at a local Chick-fil-a.  She said some of the more awful things I’ve heard about nursing in public.  Things like…oh, nevermind, just read for yourself:

Lisa: I know that sometimes I talk about things that are not always appealing to men, and so I’m trying to do better with that. But you know I just I’ve gotta tell you all about something. . . . I’ll just tell you. Saturday, yesterday, we went to Chic Fil A. . . . Sat down, I was waiting for my husband to pay and bring the food. My daughter and I were sitting there and looked over and it was a woman who was breastfeeding. She had just walked in, because I saw her walk in. She walked in, she passed us, she went and sat in a booth, actually not a booth they have tables there rather than enclosed booths. We were in the one at Cherrydale. She sat down and she started breastfeeding her baby. So my daughter looked over at me and she went, “mom, see that lady over there?” And I said, “you know, could she not have done this in the car? I mean, she was on the way here, couldn’t she have, you know, while they were driving there, just breastfeed the baby?” And my daughter went “I knew you’d hate that.”

Yeah I do, I hate it. I just don’t understand why in a public place you want to – and she was covered by the baby’s head, you know her shirt was partially – I just, to me it was sorta just in such bad taste. And I know it’s just me, I guess, but is anybody out there as turned off by public breastfeeding as am I? Listen I know God gave’em to you for that purpose and wonderful, and it’s healthy and it’s the best thing to do for your child, and I understand it’s healthy for the mother as well. I just think that there should be laws – and in South Carolina there are none, no laws about this, that women should not breastfeed in a public area, and especially in a restaurant. For goodness sakes. Listen let her go to the ladies room. Let her go, our church has a breastfeeding room.

Lonzo: Can I ask you a question? Would you have noticed her if your daughter hadn’t pointed her out?

Lisa: Yes. Oh yeah, I do notice things like that. But my daughter knew that I find that to be disgusting. I just don’t see a reason for it. If she had time to, and then I thought maybe the baby was sleeping in the car on the way here, and awoke right when they walked in, I don’t know. You know you could have sat there for five or ten or however many minutes it takes to do so in the privacy of your vehicle. And then I thought also, it is 100 dadgum degrees. There’s just something about it. . . . It just bothers me, and I know that I’m probably one of the very few, if maybe the only one, but this is something that I find to be in poor taste, and I guess maybe it was because of the way I was raised, there are just some things you don’t do in public. Why is this not indecent exposure? And I don’t mean that she had her breast out and that you could really see it, but it was just I don’t know, it sorta made me, well I was gonna say lose my appetite but I won’t go that far.

Lonzo: Was she like sitting out in the open going like “hey everybody look at me, look at what I’m doing!”

Lisa: Well of course not, Lonzo, of course not.

Lonzo: So you really had to be looking around.

Lisa: Lonzo if I were sitting here, and I had a baby, and I pulled my shirt up, and I stuck my baby’s head right here, I mean would that not be noticeable to you? Of course it would be.

Lonzo: If she did it that way, I don’t understand your complaint.

Lisa: But that’s what, that’s the way she was doing it, I just find it to be . . .

Lonzo: So nothing was exposed?

Lisa: No. Not really.

Lonzo: So what’s the big deal?

Lisa: The big deal is that it’s just not the place, and listen I’m all I know these people . . .

Lonzo: So you’d rather that baby been screaming its head off while you’re trying to eat?

Lisa: If you really wanna get me riled up, you know I think if you’ve got a nursing baby . . .

Lonzo: Then you shouldn’t go anywhere, you shouldn’t go to a restaurant, your life should be over until the kid is four?

Lisa: I think you should be discreet and stay at home . . .

Lonzo: It sounds like she was discreet if you couldn’t see anything

Lisa: Or pump and take the bottle with you or something. But I don’t want to see it. I just don’t want to see it, especially while I’m having lunch.

Lonzo: Maybe you should have went to a different restaurant.

Lisa: That has nothing to do with the restaurant I mean anyplace allows that, but I think when a mother chooses to do so in public, I just don’t think it’s always in the best of taste. And I think there should be indecency laws about that, because I don’t want to see it in a public place. You know go to the ladies room, go somewhere, go to your car, pump your breastmilk, but I don’t want to see it in public, sorry. And I know that most of, especially a lot of you nursing moms and women who are in the La Leche League or whatever are going to disagree with me, but so be it, it’s my opinion and you’re certainly entitled to yours.

Lisa: (in response to Judy) Well I mean, you say it’s not as easy as simple as I’m making it sound to be, but even when you’re not nursing, and I did not nurse my children, even when you’re not nursing and you have to prepare, you prepare your formula and your bottles and the juice, and whatever you need to take along with you. That’s just good preparation. I mean if there’s a time when you know you have to leave immediately because of an emergency, which I doubt would be the case because you had to get to a McDonald’s, I just think it’s preparation. So you just have to have some prepared, am I wrong? And I can understand and I know nursing moms, you know God bless ya, I think that’s a choice, probably the wisest choice you can make as a parent. I just don’t want to see it in public, and I don’t want to be you know rude about it, but for heaven’s sakes. I didn’t, I was thinking, it’s just bad manners as far as I’m concerned to hike your blouse up and have a baby’s head underneath, even if you’re not exposing yourself. You know you’re going to be attracting attention, whether it’s from other women or men for goodness sakes and I just don’t like to see it in public.

Lisa (in further response to Judy): Well actually I think that the individual should be more discreet, and that being, having good manners, that’s not up to the government to dictate. But it should be up to the individual, and if you don’t show restraint, listen, so be it – you think it’s a grand idea, I don’t see anything wrong with going into a restroom if you don’t see a specific nursing area and sitting on the toilet seat. If you gotta do it I guess you gotta do it. But to me there’s just no excuse for not being prepared enough to have nursed your baby before you left, in an emergency situation having some prepared bottles or something ready to go. I just find it objectionable.

And it went on and on.  The tape of the show was removed from the website.  And, in response, Bob McClain, another host on the station, interviewed Lin Cook from the SC Breastfeeding Coalition.  But there has been no response from Lisa.  Or the station regarding Lisa’s remarks.

You might say, “She has a right to her opinion.”  Yes, she does.  We weren’t asking for her to apologize.  We were simply calling her on her ignorance and mean-spiritedness.  Picking on mamas is not ok.  Whether they bottle-feed, breastfeed, nurse covered, or uncovered–mamas have a tough job and deserve our support.  Some of the comments from the WORD’s facebook page on the nurse-in are appalling.  One guy posted about how he called a woman “white trash” for breastfeeding at Red Lobster.  What is it about Red Lobster??  It takes a real man to bully a mom trying to feed a little baby.

My point is–Lisa isn’t alone in her opinion.  And whatever attention we can bring to breastfeeding is important.  So back to the Nurse-In.

It was fun!  We were asked to leave the property soon after we arrived.  So we went across the street where a business agreed to let us sit in their grassy space.  News 4 was there and Kelly from the Parent Examiner.  We sat in the grass and did the usual playdate stuff except there were cameras, signs, and we were on the highway!  Norah asked if we were teaching mean people how to nurse their babies.

You can view better pictures by viewing the slideshow at the Parent Examiner’s coverage.  Take a look.  Get a good look at a nursing mom.  We’re a terribly offensive bunch aren’t we?  Scary stuff.  One mom showed up who is no longer nursing.  She chose to show some cleavage and she held a sign that said, “I’m showing more than a breastfeeding mom.” 

Then the real fun began.  A guy from the “Rise Guys” on 93.3 showed up in a strange costume wearing a bra and holding a sign that said, “I like boobs.”  He marched about singing songs like “Amazing Grace.”  I do not think he helped our cause. 


In short, a group of women (and a rise guy) came together to stand up to bullies like Lisa.  And not just in Greenville.  In cities across the country, they gathered outside radio stations that air the Russ and Lisa show. 

My husband was so very proud. 


Tend it or make it grow

My sister and brother-in-law gave Norah a fantastic little book.  It is called Praying With Our Feet by Lisa Weaver.  Ingrid Hess is the illustrator.   Both women are Mennonites.

I’ll start with the fun things I love about the book:

  • first person from the perspective of a little girl
  • little girl’s aunt wears her baby in a stylin’ sling
  • illustrations are crazy colorful
  • the town map includes a community garden and food coop
  • diversity, diversity, diversity
  • the minister is a woman.  and she knits.  and wears sandals.

The serious things I love about the book:

It is a message of peace.  And action.  And love.  Praying with our feet, in this book, means walking for peace.  “While we walk, I remember that my minister often says the voice of Jesus is love.  Every person is our neighbor, not just the people who live right beside us.”

I thought of this book tonight because I’ve been listening to a sermon podcast series on Jonah.  I know, I know, when we think of Jonah, many of us immediately flashback to Sunday School pictures of a whale.  And that is really all we remember about this short book. 

Norah recently asked me to read the entire book straight from the Bible.  She had read a children’s version and I suppose she wanted to know more.  After reading the entire book to her, I suppose I wanted to know more. 

What I learned:

  • Nineveh was in Assyria
  • The Assyrians were brutal and oppressive to the Jewish people
  • The Assyrians were really, really brutal and oppressive to the Jewish people
  • Jonah was a Jew
  • Jonah wanted God to destroy Nineveh
  • While he sat hoping for Nineveh’s destruction, God sent a vine to provide shade for him
  • When God later sent a worm to whither the vine, Jonah pouted and said (rather dramatically) that he was angry enough to die

And here it is (Jonah 4:9-11):

But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” 

“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.  But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

Ahhh, God tended these people and made them grow.  These are his children, too.  It is offensive, is it not?  These people who easily rivaled Hitler simply said they were sorry and they received grace. 

May God “guide our feet into the path of peace.”  (Luke 1:79)

For more on Christianity and nonviolence, may I recommend Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne or The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder?  Amazing books, these two.     

The Young Pregnant Couple–Part 4

The countdown to baby continues for Noelle and Zach.  Since my last post, they have:

  • found out they are having a boy!
  • interviewed a natural birth-friendly doctor and interviewed a midwife
  • finalized which country they will raise this wee one in
  • decided on their birth location and care provider
  • signed up for a childbirth class

After much prayer, Noelle and Zach have chosen to birth at home with a midwife.  It would have been an easy choice if their insurance would cover any part of it.  It doesn’t.  But their insurance offers fantastic hospital coverage–they would have very little out-of-pocket expense.  For a young couple preparing to quit their jobs and trust entirely on financial support for their ministry, it was a big deal to choose a homebirth.

Let me interject here that the new healthcare plan–and, no, I will not offer an opinion!–will require insurance to cover certified professional midwives at birth centers.  This change is wonderful but it reveals a common misunderstanding about birth centers.  The birth center is not different in terms of equipment and training than a home.  The homebirth midwife brings the same supplies and equipment as she uses at a birth center.  For the plan to cover one and not the other simply because of the setting seems silly to me.   

And…the wee baby boy will grow up (drum roll) in Cambodia.  His parents have spent time there before and are excited to return.  Noelle will once again be working with children who are victims of sex trafficking.  Zach will be working with an unreached people group. 

Now here is a question for my readers.  If you lived in a country with only cold water for washing clothes, which cloth diapers would you choose and how would you wash them?  Would you use bleach to kill bacteria?  Something else?  And this is a place in which bacteria can be ugly.

Win / Fail

Win:  Cadbury’s bestseller, the Dairy Milk Bar, is now fairly traded.  The packaged cocoa is also certified fair trade.  This change means the cocoa beans were not picked using slave labor.  This change means that very small children were not exposed to pesticides or forced to perform dangerous tasks.  This change means that workers received a fair wage.

Fail:  Everything else made by Cadbury is not fairly traded.  Yes, that includes the famous egg.

Remember my post asking why we can have dolphin-safe tuna but we can’t have slave-free chocolate?  Learn more about slave-free products and stay mindful as you prepare Easter goodies.

A Vent, Purely a Vent

This story begins with a dead ipod.  I had a wonderful Rob Bell sermon podcast I planned to listen to on my drive last night to a prenatal appointment.  Instead, I found my ipod was dead.  No battery power remaining.  Shoot.   

A nice phone conversation with my sister got me to the prenatal, but coming home I had to resort to the radio.  I flipped through channels to catch the end of Focus on the Family with Dr. James Dobson.  He was railing about retailers who do not display Christmas decorations or wish customers a “Merry Christmas.”  Well folks, when Jim Dobson is riled up about something, he must do something .  Usually the result is a ban or a petition.  So Focus on the Family has created “Stand for Christmas” a website on which shoppers can report naughty stores and sign a petition.  Naughty stores wish customers a “Happy Holiday” or put up other holiday signs to honor Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or [gasp] do nothing at all!

Did you know Walmart is “Christmas-Friendly?”  That the giant mega-monster gets Dr. Dobson’s stamp of approval?  Oh indeed.

What a bunch of drivel. 

Here I am worried that my Christmas gifts are ethically produced; that they are not made by enslaved children or exploited adults and “America’s most influential evangelical leader” is guiding his followers to instead count the number of “Merry Christmas” signs as they fill their carts with slave-made chocolate.

I know he isn’t a scoundrel.  He really isn’t.  He is a good guy.  But there are some very real issues surrounding American consumerism. 

I just wish he would have gotten serious about something a little more in tune with the reason to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Maybe promote something like Advent Conspiracy.

Bravo Canada!

The Society of Obstetricians & Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) has announced that OBs should no longer perform automatic c-sections for breech presentations!  And they have planned a nationwide training program to equip physicians in safely assisting at breech births.  Whoa.  I hope ACOG is paying attention.

Some excerpts from The Globe and Mail’s C-Section not best option for breech birth:

“Our primary purpose is to offer choice to women,” said André Lalonde, executive vice-president of the SOGC.

“More women are feeling disappointed when there is no one who is trained to assist in breech vaginal delivery,” he adds.

The new approach was prompted by a reassessment of earlier trials. It now appears that there is no difference in complication rates between vaginal and cesarean section deliveries in the case of breech births

We Cannot Forget

I know we want to forget sometimes.  Forget about the unspeakable things happening around us.  I know sometimes it is irritating when we’re reminded.  When we’re interrupted. 

Take something as sweet and simple as chocolate.  Scott and I have a date night planned this week to pick up a few small things for Norah’s Easter basket.  It will not include chocolate.  Did you realize that most of that yummy chocolate was processed by children who are slaves?  Who have never even tasted chocolate?  Who apply pesticides without protective gear?  Who use adult tools?  I’m talking about M&M’s and Hershey’s Kisses.  Do you think the owners of these big companies don’t know about the source of their cocoa?  Nope, they do.  In fact, in 2001 they agreed to change.  But they didn’t.  Even those Cadbury Easter Eggs won’t be fairly-traded until the end of this year. 

I know.  I’m messing with things that touch close to home.  But, as the video below mentions, we have dolphin-safe tuna.  Why can’t we make products without injuring and exploiting children? 

I have been in a room with little girls who were rescued from slavery.  I cannot forget. 

Want to do more?  Take a look at an older post with lists of ideas to get started.  Even something as small as skipping chocolate or buying fair-trade chocolate is a beginning.     

And speaking of cesareans

Time Magazine has released a timely article on VBACs.  A quote from the article:  “When the problems with multiple C-sections start to mount, we’re going to look back and say, ‘Oh, does anyone still know how to do VBAC?'”

Curious about which hospitals ban VBACs in your state?  Check out ICAN’s new database.  The closest hospital to my house makes the list.  Ahem, Palmetto Baptist Easley.  I was surprised to see AnMed on the list of “de facto” bans.  I know of at least one VBAC at AnMed in the past year.  I hope this listing is a mistake.