Meet Culture Rebels

What your anger can show you

I am proud to introduce you to a friend of mine, Michelle Van Loon (not the picture displayed…), who writes about spiritual ragamuffins and rebels.  Anyone who uses the word “rebel” is alright by me (not to mention “ragamuffin” is such a cool word!)   Michelle is guest posting on the blog today. You can read more of her writings at http://www.michellevanloon.com.

 

Michelle writes:

I had lunch on Friday with my friend Pam.   Pam has been an educator for all of her adult life, and I’ve always admired the sandpaper way she would put her hands on her hips and ask her administrators why they were doing what they were doing, and then come up with an innovative, red-tape free way to actually help her kids. She has always been the voice for her students, though her forthright manner hasn’t always endeared her to the powers-that-be. She’s remained remarkably unmotivated by a need for approval by those in authority over her, and at one point, even volunteered to take a pay cut in order to keep an educational program in place for another year because she knew it had life-changing potential for her students.
So you know what happened next, don’t you? After many years teaching at this school, the program was cut. And so was Pam.
“Justice” is a word swirling (at last) through the evangelical community in recent years. When Pam and I first began following Jesus, the word was either shaded with informational images of God sitting behind a judge’s bench, declaring us “not guilty” due to the finished work of Christ, weighing deeds – or of those from more liberal, social action churches participating in C.R.O.P. walks or joining the Peace Corps. Now we evangelical/charismatic members of the Body of Christ are starting to realize that justice isn’t just a descriptor of a theological truth or the domain of them thar lib’rals, but our birthright as members of the kingdom-revolution.
A few years ago, I read (somewhere, can’t remember where) that the anger in us is wired to the beautiful and just character of God. When we encounter unrighteousness, something rises up in us that says, “NO!” That “NO!” is there to direct us toward God in order to cry out for justice, and to drive us to live the Micah mandate: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8). Anger can scorch everything it touches – or it can fuel a life that loves justice, mercy and humility.
A life like Pam’s.

 

Connie:

What does justice look like where you are?  In your work, your school, in your community?  What does loving mercy, acting justly, and walking humbly look like for you?

 

Do you have a hard time wondering what your passionate about?  Maybe a trigger to help you identify an area of passion would be the question: What makes you angry?   Other than someone stealing your parking spot closest to the door of the supermarket, this very question could help you see a great area of passion in your life.

 

So, what makes you angry?

 

 

My friend’s scandalous divorce

 Today I have Elisabeth Corcoran guest posting about divorce.  I love what she has written on her blog and in her book about her own personal journey of divorce, having to wrestle through the issues, and the judgment.  Finally, there is a refreshing voice to all the women in similar situations who feel isolated, alone, and ashamed for the situation of separation and divorce they are experiencing.  You’ll find Elisabeth to be seasoned with grace and humility as she shares her story.

  Read More…

My five year old’s homeless project

My five year old loves being downtown Calgary.  He also enjoys the times we stop and chat with the homeless.  Like the lovely man, Ron, we met the other day who said to us, “You’re the first people who have been nice to me today”.  It was 3:30pm.  My son, in his five year old innocence replied, “We’re always nice to homeless people.”  He needs some tact, yes, but I am thankful he considers this to be normal.

 

We have decided to do a homeless project this summer where Ben and I will visit with the homeless downtown, giving them bus tickets, bottled water, hygiene items, gift cards for food and coffee, and a homemade message we have made.  We won’t just give them these items, we will stop and visit with them – that being the greatest gift of all.

 

As an adult, I understand that giving out bus tickets, water, and hygiene items isn’t going to solve homeless issues, but what it models to my five year old that caring doesn’t have to look “big”.  Stopping to talk to the homeless also shows him that true love and care doesn’t just give items, but finds out a name.

 

We kicked off our homeless project by serving lunch at the Drop In Centre the other day and we will continue our project throughout the summer.

 

Some have mentioned their interest in donating to Ben’s homeless project!   We are taking donations of:

  • bus tickets
  • bottled water
  • gift cards for food/coffee
  • hygiene items (one friend who works at a hotel is giving us a stash of hotel soaps they don’t need!)
The above items can also be done through corporate sponsorship.  I have a sponsorship letter if you, or someone you know owns a business that can help with the items.
And here’s something that would be really cool!  We’re looking for kids to write notes/cards of encouragement for the homeless.  We’re looking for large masses of cards so when we visit shelters, we can give out as many as possible.  Perhaps this could be a school, church, community program project!

 

If you would like to donate, please email me at culturerebelonline@gmail.com.

 

And hey, maybe you and your family could do something similar or join us!   Why not!

 

 

Underwear that saves lives; find out what this inventive woman is doing!

Rachel Starkey lives in Egypt where her husband and her own a textile company.   They have come in contact with a practical need they are meeting in a creative way.  There are 600 million girls in Africa who have dropped out of school because they have no supplies for their menstrual cycle.

 

I know.  Crazy, right?

 

That’s 600 million girls who’s future is at stake because of that lovely visitor us women endure each month.  Some prostitute themselves for sanitary items so they can still attend school, others choose to drop out of school, sitting on a mat until the cycle is finished. Can you imagine?

 

That many uneducated females in a nation is a disaster.  For a female to have access to education means her chances of survival, and a chance to thrive is much greater; thus making life better for her children.

 

Rachel has seen the need first hand and has figured out a creative solution her textile company can provide.  By taking leftover fabric from clothing such as necklines, they can make specialized underwear to include in a school kit for women!

 

Simple, yet effective.  Cost-effective and a great use of material!  Here’s the deal.  In order to get an initial 50,000 kits to women waiting in Malawi, they need $50,000 to get the ball rolling. They are hoping to raise this money while at home in Canada till July.  You may ask why you would want to donate to a business?   When launching pilot projects, businesses often get investors to help.  You are a valuable investor!  The need is immediate.  The return for your investment greater than any normal business adventure; saving young girls life and investing in the future of a nation.

 

This has never been done before in their nation.  As they work towards this solution, they are hashing out what will make this initiative sustainable.  This idea is cutting edge and able to implemented immediately.  Once initial kits have been made, the cycle of business can roll to create more kits.  50,000 kits is only the beginning.

 

I would love to give you the opportunity to connect with Rachel about her solution to a problem we all know is solvable.  If you would like to find out more information or donate, please contact her at rachel@cottontales.com

 

When a woman dreams and other women surround her, her dream can exceed all she imagined.  What Rachel is undertaking is no small task, but I thank God for women like her who aren’t afraid of a challenge and seeing business as a way to solve world problems.

 

 

Will you support her in this?

An amazing story of a young adult woman’s success of overcoming poverty!

I am pleased to feature 22 year old, Cindy Christensen on the blog today.  Cindy is a remarkable young adult who has overcome living in poverty.  You would never guess looking at her that she has come from a place of physical and emotional lack.  She now has two degrees, a fulfilling full time job, and tells her story to various audiences, hoping to make a difference in the way society responds to poverty.  Her story is powerful.  I was moved to hear about a caring adult who invested in her life and helped her get into University.  A simple act, but a powerful outcome.    I pray you can begin to see poverty as something we put up with for no good reason.  Poverty is our problem and is solvable.  If you care about safety for your children, you care about poverty.  If you care about issues of human trafficking, you care about poverty.  If you care about abuse, you care about poverty.  Time to move that “caring” into action you didn’t even realize you had in you.

 

Here’s Cindy:

 

For me the definition of poverty is a perception that society has, on individuals such as myself, as an attempt to classify us as something they don’t understand. Despite my impoverished childhood, history of domestic violence, personal hardships, and challenges in regards to homelessness, I was able to overcome these difficulties in order to find opportunities. I believe there should be more success stories within Canada and the media, government and as well as Canadian citizens should celebrate these success stories. Poverty was not something that I chose be born in but it was something I was born into. Poverty was certainly not a choice for myself and not for others but it is a circumstance that needs to be dealt with by the combine effort of the community. 

 

Growing up in poverty, I saw a misconception and a sense of alienation towards individuals who are classified as living in “poverty”. Society tends to ignore these people, turn a blind eye and shut away the door of opportunity, which in return drive these individuals to a life of crime, drugs, violence and unhappiness. Many believe that poverty does not affect them – in this sense I believe that they are wrong because poverty affects everyone. Poverty is not only about financial need but also social and emotional need. The unintended consequences of not caring about poverty is extremely detrimental – one that we in a thriving economy, and as Canadians cannot afford.

 

In the recent months, there have been multiple acts of violence.  For example, the Toronto Eaton Centre shooting, University of Alberta triple homicide, and the most shocking Luka Rocco Magnotta incident. I believe all these events can be simplify as problems resulted from a need for emotional, social and as well as financial poverty. The cries for help from individuals were perhaps not answered within their local community or from their family members. In no way do I support the actions of these individuals; however, I stress that it is extremely important for us not only to care but to act against poverty because sooner or later the consequences of poverty will affect us all. Poverty is a controversial topic; however, it is crucial for us to take a stand against poverty, whether it is by helping your local neighbors, volunteering, donating or speaking about the issue. Your action is extremely in important and it could help positively shape the lives of those who are living in need.

 

In my case, I dealt with poverty my entire life. I remembered working 4 jobs while going to Junior High and High School. I remembered studying for my first year University exam during a cold winter’s night when the heater from my apartment broke. The apartment also flooded and I was required to pack my bags at 3 in the morning to sleep at the University of Calgary 24 hour’s library, and my exam was at 8 in the morning. These events helped to shape me and determine who I am today.

 

The choices that I made and the support that I received from the community truly inspired me to make a difference in my own life and the lives of others. I learn to disregard the barriers that society has built for me. I learn not to think of the past, what I failed to achieve, how my life was inadequate in comparison to others, the negative energy that surrounded me but I can do in the present and the future. I learned to understand what I can contribute to society and what I can achieve in the present and the future. I believe there should be more success stories in Calgary. It is also important for society to reach out and give individuals who are living in poverty a chance to succeed because you never know how your action can completely contribute towards changing someone else’s life for the better. 

 

Cindy Christensen

 

For more information, please check out the following interviews and articles Cindy has been featured in:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNHh0Wznk0Y&list=UU98MNm5alAyFoL5eEhYEUnw&index=1&feature=plcp
http://www2.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/city/story.html?id=fafb2837-f8e5-4170-ad52-a2454819b348
http://www.calgaryherald.com/life/Many+income+Calgary+families+worry+about+where+their+next+meal+will+come/6770860/story.html
http://metronews.ca/news/calgary/261006/better-well-being-the-aim-of-united-way-poverty-report/
http://www.ffwdweekly.com/article/news-views/news/city-aims-to-tackle-poverty-9240/

 

 

It’s time to say a brave “yes” to what you were made for. An inspirational story of a grandma who did just that

I am about to tell you the story of one brave woman who has given her life to live in East Garfield  Park’s inner city community of Chicago.  Arloa Sutter is one of my new heroes.  I’ve got to tell you why.

 

I met Arloa through the Redbud Writers Guild we are both a part of.  I had the honor of meeting her this May at our retreat.  I had no idea what a culture rebel she was.

 

Her days of serving the poor in the inner city didn’t start as a grandma, but as a young woman.   It all began with her church staff not knowing what to do with the many people who came into the building during the week needing assistance.  Instead of pushing them out the door, she started a storefront room that provided a nice hot cup of coffee, food and friendly conversation from those wishing to escape the cold.  This eventually evolved into her gathering a board of directors to form the beginnings of Breakthrough Ministries in 1992.  She didn’t know what she was doing, but she did it anyways.

 

I love gutsy people like this.

 

I want to press pause for a moment and talk to the church.  Many times, we don’t know what to do when the  homeless walk through our doors to ask for help.   We can give them pocket change and shoo them away, or we can respond like Arloa did; with a coffee and a listening ear.  However, it’s the less convenient road..

 

Arloa and her team began to hire homeless men to clean up the streets of downtown Chicago. The Chamber of Commerce got wind of their endeavors and supported the employment of these homeless men.  Soon the storefront had turned into an shelter.  Not too much longer, they expanded to be able to provide shelter for women as well.  She took time to listen to those homeless and take the time to knock on the doors of the people in her community to discuss her vision and hear their concerns.  The amount of time and care Arloa was willing to invest shows the kind of heart she possesses.  She is truly someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty.

 

Press pause again.  Did you catch that?  Not only did she provide a safe place with food, coffee and conversation for them, she also looked for tangible solutions to their problem.  And the city noticed!  Are we willing to go the distance to find the natural resources in our communities to solve the problems of poverty?  They are there.  God knows what they are and He’s willing to share with anyone who is willing.

 

Just as her ministry was flourishing, Arloa’s husband of 20 years decided to leave her and their two girls.  This life-tragedy would have derailed even the strongest, yet even through the pain she still found the strength and determination to say, “I  will not back down from my calling from God to ministry in the city”.  It is evident the resilience I see in Arloa today was built on broken moments such as this.  You can sense the depth of heart and character oozing out of her heart.  Through those years Breakthrough became stronger and even more fruitful.

 

Oh, what can happen when we don’t give up.

 

Thirty eight percent of those living in East Garfield Park live in poverty, many of who are African-American.  She lives among them, cares for their needs and continues to seek out ways to combat the poverty they live in.  She has broke ground in one of the hardest communities in the United States.

 

Do you know why?  Because she dared to.  She believed in what seemed crazy and she didn’t let up.  I’ll tell you something, I wouldn’t mess with her.

 

As she sat across from me, she fueled my passion as a young mom wanting to do something to make a difference.  To me she is a way-maker, an inspiration to draw from when I need to think of someone who was once in my shoes.  Someone who decided to say a brave “yes” to what could be.   Now  a grandma, she’s still saying “yes”.

 

Arloa, as you serve, I will serve and follow in your footsteps.

 

Women everywhere, it’s time to say a brave “yes” to what you were made for.

 

*you can read all about Arloa’s story and her ministry to the broken in her book,  “The Invisible” (which I read in 2 hours.  It was that good)

 

You can order your copy here: http://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=The+invisible++Arola+Sutter&x=0&y=0

My name is Sara and I refuse to be cynical … I still think we can change the world

Connie: Today, I am featuring an amazing gal I’ve recently had the honour of getting to know.  She has travelled the world and has a heart for women.   After travelling the world, she still thinks we can change the it.  I think that is just the kind of progressive thinking we need today, ladies.  Dare to read on.

 

Sara writes:

I first thought about the world as a bigger idea than my neighbourhood in North Vancouver when my Dad travelled to Kenya in the 1980’s to help build a church.  I was around ten years old and remember being really intrigued with his stories of this completely different world than I knew.  I grew up middle-class Canadian, not lacking for anything, my school was just around the corner and my neighbourhood was a safe place to play all summer without parents keeping an eye on us.  I didn’t know what poverty was or even looked like.

I was first exposed to poverty in Canada when I travelled with my church youth group to the Yukon in the summer to work with children from the Reserves in the area.  I had hard time comprehending the basic securities they lacked.  I was 17 when I took my first trip to Africa, spending two months in Zimbabwe right after graduating from high school.  I was addicted.  Now I’m 37 and have travelled to 37 different nations and have been privileged to make friends from so many different cultures and economic groups.  I have been able to witness different people, organizations, and churches trying various ways to improve their community or respond to crisis.  As a young idealist first exposed to the monumental issues in our world, I used to think the answer was simple.  Now I know that I have barely scratched the surface of understanding.  My journeys have been a process of stripping away my own worldview and culture so that I may be able to understand the desperation of a young mother abandoning her baby because of her poverty.
My name is Sara and I refuse to be cynical … I still think we can change the world.
Some of my experiences have included living in a village in Uganda for a year to volunteer at a children’s centre that provided education for children in the area, an orphanage for children waiting for help finding extended family, and sponsorship for children in need.  I’ve been able to go with short-term mission teams to places like Brazil and Haiti where we worked on providing clean drinking water or building a house for those who lost everything in the earthquake.  In my own backyard, I’ve been involved in outreaches to the homeless in Vancouver downtown eastside, and have been completely overwhelmed with the wealth and poverty living next door to each other.
A passion of mine is raising awareness of the issues surrounding human trafficking. I’ve been very impressed by the work of International Justice Mission.  They go into regions and work with local authorities to figure out how the systems are broken and give legal help the victims, as well as provide training for local law enforcement.  Their Canadian website is: http://www.ijm.ca/whatwedo/
What lies ahead for our world that seems increasingly chaotic?  I don’t have a clue, but I choose to believe that when we equip ourselves to be change-agents, communities can be transformed from despair to hope.  Am I being too idealistic again?
Connie: I don’t think so 🙂  Will you dare to believe this with Sara?  Let’s refuse to be cynical and shock ourselves with what can actually be done through crazy-normal people like ourselves.
* if you’re in the Calgary area, Sara and I are hosting a viewing of the film Miss Representation at Cardel Theatre in Quarry Park at 6:30pm on Tuesday, May 29.  Admission is only a food bank donation.  Doors open 6pm.  Be there early because the theatre only seats 150.  More info: http://www.facebook.com/events/351341798263191/

When I invite people in my home; mess and all! Someone who’s hospitality shocked me

Oh, what that does to the soul when someone says: “You are welcome here… even if its not perfect”

 

I was welcomed into the home of Sheli Geoghan-Massie who hosted me for a night before the Redbud retreat.  Sheli had never met me before (other than online), nor had she ever come to Chicago’s ginormous O’Hare airport alone.  Despite all the reasons she could have come up with to not host me, there she was with a smile on her face and a big hug to give.  As a newbie to Chicago, and my first time away from my 18 month old, I can’t tell you how refreshing that was.

 

I didn’t know a whole lot about Sheli other than her heart for the orphan and her trips to Africa.  I was about to find out how amazing she and her family are.

 

We arrived downtown Aurora, where Sheli, her family, (and very large St. Bernard, Daisy-May) live in an inner city neighborhood where they are a white minority.  They even have a bullet-hole in their window for full street credibility.

 

The 100 year old house was beautiful to me, full of character and history.  Walking in the door I instantly felt at home.  I was delighted by her three lovely daughters and energetic son.   Soon they will be adopting a little boy from Africa who will hopefully be coming home this summer.

 

In the culture of the city I live in, we seem to think that every child needs their own room.  We won’t dare have people over if the house has a spot of dust, and we easily buy into “bigger” isn’t just “better”, its NEEDED.

 

But Sheli’s three girls share one room – the room they gave up to let me sleep in while they slept in the basement.  Their son and future son will be sharing a room.   Sheli and her husband’s room is closely situated right across the hall.  And they all share ONE BATHROOM.

 

I was humbled by the love I felt in that home.   Here I’d be buying into my culture, stressing over my two sons sharing a room.  I’m ashamed to admit that there have been times I have thought a bigger, newer home would be better for us.

 

Just to give you a taste of Sheli, here’s what she said about having to replace all their windows; “We found out it would cost us $30,000 to get the windows replaced, due to them having to be custom made, so we decided we would use that money to adopt instead”.  Do you not just love her?

 

They would go another winter of putting plastic over their windows to keep the heat in if it meant they could bring an orphan into their home.  It made me think, how much could we be doing as a family if we decided some of the stuff we spend money on could instead be used to invest in things moth and rust cannot destroy?

 

Over just a 24 hour period of time, I gleaned a piece of Sheli’s heart as she spoke to me about her crossing barriers to love on her neighbors.  Her passion burst out of every word as she drove by the women’s shelter just down the street from her house; as she toured me around town and past their homeless shelter.

 

A big home and fancy things look old and faded in the light of what I experienced in Sheli’s home.  I am coming home with her heart of rebellion to let go of material possessions and a desire use my home to be a lamp post of hope in my community.

 

*disclaimer: Sheli’s house was not messy in the least. The title was only to grip your heart to open the post.  Looks like it worked 🙂

 

When you’re afraid to be who you are. My personal struggle

I am a bubbly extrovert who struggles with an enormous amount of anxiety when meeting new people.   Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it?

 

This weekend, I ventured down to Chicago to meet a group of women I’ve been in relationship with via internet for over a year.  Let’s just break that down for a minute:

  1. a group of women
  2. a group of women I’m meeting for the first time… alone
  3. a group of women who have a preconceived notion of who I am based on good pictures and thought-out witty comments I post online.

 

Here’s the deal.  I’m much more funny and impressive online than I am in real life.  I am pretty funny (and if you disagree, you can keep that to yourself), I love wit, and enjoy posting witty comments.  I have a lot of facebook friends which makes me look like I have a ton of influence and klout.  And don’t be fooled, only my good pictures go up online.  No seriously, all morning pictures are banned, possibly burned, just in case.

 

Meeting me in person can be a bubble-bursting experience.  “You’re shorter than I thought”, I often hear.  People quickly learn that my wit online isn’t filtered in person.  My humor face to face is a series of “hit and miss” (with a lot of “miss”).  I’m not the superstar people may imagine.  I hate making decisions and don’t claim (or want) leadership of a peer group.  I laugh loud, my voice is weird, and I fidget.

 

All of this to say, I’m a bit of a wreck after being in a group of women.  I battle with feelings of inadequacy and insecurity of how I represent myself.  I want so badly to be myself, to be accepted, included and embraced.  Yet, though I am insecure about my quirks, I am not willing to change them for mass inclusion.

 

What I’ve come to realize is that almost every other woman in the room is feeling the same.  That gives me courage to lose myself and find the nerve to go find out the beauty inside of them.  Sometimes this ends with mutual acceptance, other times not.  Those interested in only aligning themselves with the elite are quickly noted.  The doubts and questions one can wrestle after leaving a room of women is disabling.

 

But this time I had a very different experience.  Despite all my insecurities and fears, meeting the Redbud group was unique.  They were strangely inclusive and warm.  It was a bit shocking, actually.  There I was surrounded by women with PhD’s, authors of numerous books, editors, hosts of radio talk shows, and even one who had worked on the Oprah Winfrey Show!  I’m talkin’ talented, strong women who were living out their commitment to do this thing together.  Forgive my cynicism, but when I’ve heard women’s group speak of such values before, it has often led to disappointment and heartbreak.  I would be lying to say my guard wasn’t up a bit.  Yet it wasn’t “talk”, it was tangible.

 

The  Redbuds have been able to genuinely pull of what most women’s groups struggle to do.

 

It was mind blowing that diverse women in one room could actually pull it off.   I believe its because the core founders have worked very hard to guard their values to keep the culture they are wanting to create among women.  They covenant together to make their fellowship together a safe place…. and they’re serious about it.  They’ve taken the thought in the mind to words on a page that flow directly out of who they are in their core.  In their hearts they already value women, their voice and efforts.  Complimentary actions naturally follow effortlessly.

 

It’s possible, ladies.  It is possible that a group of women of various ages, backgrounds, denominations, opinions and personalities can come into a room and blend.  There can be inclusion, understanding, and true friendship cultivated.

 

The question is: are we willing to step out to create that culture around us?

 

If we are, it will take a laying down of our pride, a tearing down of the social food chain, and an open heart to see the beauty in those who are different and who we don’t naturally gravitate to.

Going Green for the right reasons: what this mom is doing to make a difference

I would like to introduce you to fellow rebel, Kelli Trujillo.   You may be surprised how she’s impacting the world around her.  It’s something everyone can do with their family!   Here’s the conversation we had (via email), spilled out live and uncut for you 🙂

 

Hey Kelli, What are you doing to impact the world around you?

“One area of my life that has become a growing passion for me is environmental stewardship. I use the term “stewardship” because it implies care taking. The earth is full of abundant, beautiful, and plentiful resources. The way we use it and care for it is a critical responsibility. Will we steward it well? Or will we steward it selfishly?

It’s important for me to say that I try approach environmental issues in a balanced, normal way — I’m not obsessed with it nor do I think it is the most important thing in my life. Instead, I see it as something woven into the way we live everyday life.

Small choices here and there — even if they inconvenience us slightly — are actually powerful. Our daily choices affirm what we believe to be important. As a mom, I’m trying to help my kids see environmental stewardship as normal, as a given. Recycling is something we do as a family. Gardening or shopping at the farmers market in order to support sustainable farming, that’s something we do. (We also shop at a regular grocery store too.) Eating a lot less meat than the average American is something we do because of the environmental ramifications. Trying to use less power here and there or less water here and there. These are things we do. My husband and I are intentionally not “radical” about these things — we aim to be balanced and healthy in our approach. None of these choices are “weird” actions–these are just a part of the normal rhythm of our life. We are still growing in this area. We certainly don’t do everything in the world we could do to be more environmentally conscious! But we’re growing and establishing a rhythm, one small choice at a time”.

 

So, how did you start it and where do you feel you’re going?

“My concern about environmental stewardship started when I was a kid — I just didn’t know it. I grew up in a family that appreciated the beauty of the outdoors. My grandmother was especially interested in nature–and she and I spent lots of time exploring the woods, looking at beautiful flowers, and imagining all sorts of magical things in the wild outdoors. So I’ve always loved the beauty and wonder of our world.

I got a bit “sidetracked” I think as I grew up and discovered that this is an arena mired in politics, name-calling, and mud-slinging. For awhile I even bought into the idea that environmentalists were weird or had some sort of political agenda that was in conflict with my faith as a Christian. But thankfully that “stage” in my life was short-lived. I’m now quite comfortable and confident in my stance toward environmental issues: I cherish this world and so I choose to care for it. I cherish my children too and I want them to have a beautiful, well-cared for world to live in. This not only is not in conflict with my faith but rather is motivated by that faith”.

 

What’s your greatest passion?

“I’m motivated to practice environmental stewardship because, first, I see it as a critical part of my faith as a Christian. But I also believe there is common ground that people of various faiths or no faith at all can find and stand on: This is a beautiful world we share and we ought to treat it as a privalege. We can use earth’s resources sustainably so that the world is BETTER for our children and our children’s children, not worse.

 

It’s important to say, too, that a reason to practice good environmental stewardship is not just because one loves the earth — but also because of loving PEOPLE. The poor around the globe are often those most affected by environmental degradations. Study after study shows how human beings, often those already living in poverty, are suffering (and even dying) from the results of pollution, habitat destruction, climate change, and more. Concern about social justice, poverty, and human rights ought to also be a significant motivating factor for any of us to make daily choices to live more sustainably”.

 

Any goals for the future?

“We aim to make choices here and there to slowly build into a more and more environmentally sustainable life. So, for example, as a family we’re doing things to reduce our waste. The less that goes into a landfill from the Trujillos, the better! We do put out garbage for Tuesday morning pickup, but the amount is becoming less and less and less. We recycle as much as we possibly can; we compost biodegradable food waste (like cucumber peelings, etc.). I try to utilize reusable containers in the kids’ lunch boxes as much as possible, rather than bizillions of plastic bags. These are all a big shift from how we did things even just a few years ago — but it has not been a hard change to make, and it feels good to raise our kids to be conscious about their impact on the planet”.

 

How do you balance this with the rest of your life?   

“Having a family — we have 3 kids — is actually what has increased our motivation to be good stewards of the environment. They love the outdoors and that has renewed our ability to see and appreciate the wonder of this world. Nearly all of the choices we make to be good stewards are choices the kids can participate in. The kids put their trash in the recycling bins in our pantry; they help with gardening or farmers market shopping, and so on. It isn’t really something that requires extra effort or time — it just needs to become normalized.

That said, I think the idea of “going green” can be overwhelming for people. I certainly have felt overwhelmed at times! What’s been helpful for us is to focus on one change or choice at a time. So, for example, recycling. Once that becomes normalized in your family, you can add something else like composting biodegradable waste or buying a bit more organic or sustainably farmed foods. I think small choices are the best way to go about this. We can all do SOMETHING and we can feel good about that choice”.

 

 

 

What advice would you give other ladies who are wanting to impact the world around them?

“My advice would be to start first by looking inwardly: What are your beliefs about this planet we live in? Do you appreciate its beauty and resources? Do you treasure it? Do you want to breathe clean air and drink clean water and do you want the same for your kids? How about for your “neighbors” around the globe? Do you take time to soak in the wonder of a flower, a night sky, a cool breeze, a birdsong? Isn’t it lovely? And, very significantly, if you are a person of faith, do you see the hand of the Creator in this stunning world? From this place of looking at one’s values, we can find motivation to say, yes, I’ll make small choices that my slightly inconvenience me or may cost slightly more money, but I know what I value and my life choices will reflect those values”.

 

This link goes to several articles on Kelli’s blog in which she dives into this topic –http://kellitrujillo.wordpress.com/tag/environmental-stewardship/

Also, the current issue of Relevant magazine has an article by Kelli called “Going Green (for the Right Reasons)” that you will want to check out.

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