Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grossing Myself Out

Over the years, there have been a few food products that I learn a simple fact about... and that simple fact leads me to quit cold-turkey eating that food forever.

Shrimp is one example. When my mom was sick with cancer, she kinda became a food snob and read some tragic piece of info about shrimp that she shared with me. And I haven't eaten a single shrimp from that day forward. Funny thing is, I cannot for the life of me remember what that simple shrimp fact was, but I still won't eat one ever again.

Since last summer, I have unfortunately gained a lot of weight. I have a sneaky suspicion that it is the result of my completely horrific diet. Bottom line: I eat really, really unhealthy. In an attempt to try and turn over a new leaf, I am trying to learn as much bad information about the foods I eat in order to (hopefully) trigger a response similar to my shrimp scenario above. I want to gross myself out over some of the things I choose to put in my mouth. Enter 2 important tools:

1) Food, Inc.

2) Food Rules, by Michael Pollan
This short book is a list of "rules" -- essentially stripped-down eating guidelines to help you navigate your way to healthier choices while teaching you simple facts about today's food products.

Some examples from the book are:
"Rule #3- Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in a pantry."
"Rule #13- Eat only foods that will eventually rot."
"Rule #14- Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature."
"Rule #20- It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car." (this one would likely make me drop 30 pounds alone if I adopted it.)
"Rule #24- Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms & plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs, & other mammals)."
I'm hoping it works.

Book Review: Princess Trilogy

I finally finished the trilogy I'd been reading through over the last several months. Author Jean Sasson, who lived inside Saudi Arabia many years ago, provides the megaphone for the secret stories of one of the royal family's own (whom Sasson befriended during her years living in KSA). She writes on behalf of Princess Sultana-- a strong woman and a powerful advocate against misogyny & women's oppression and for the rights & freedom of women within her country.

The trilogy is conceived as a three part look into the Princess' life & her surroundings. First, her own journey growing up as a girl inside Saudi in Princess. Next, the journey of her 2 daughters, who now help her see the gravity of the women's issues in her land, in Princess Sultana's Daughters. And finally, from the broader perspective of the women who've passed through her life and their own diverse experiences of being a woman in Saudi in Princess Sultana's Circle.

I am a fan of biographies in general, but this one was especially moving to me because it covered so many issues close to my heart. She describes with such brutal honesty her own witnessing of things like rape & child rape, forced marriage, the slave & sex slave trade, beatings, female genital mutilation, sequestering of women for punishment... the list goes on & on. She describes some of the darkest sides of humanity. And it is at times painful to read. Especially when you think too long on the fact that this is all a reality that I can do nothing to change. Apart from pray for God's intervention.

I admit to feeling helpless to intervene. A few year's ago, while at a conference in the Middle East, I asked some local men how I could get involved in helping to impact these women's issues in this part of the world. And although these men were great leaders, and even followers of Christ, they replied to me: "You can do nothing. There is too much money & too much power involved on the part of the perpetrators for you to make a difference." Period. That was all they said. I was stunned at their answer. So frank and so tragic. I wished there was an IJM for the Middle East.

Reading these books repeatedly broke my heart, made me sick, made me cry, and made me feel the weight of a hurting life for so many women in the world today. And yet, I'd still strongly recommend this series for anyone to read. It gave me hope that people like Princess Sultana could make a far greater impact that I could. I thank God for her life and for her passion. And I can recognize that, although slow, progress in being made through simple acts like her speaking up.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chan-Kind of Obedience

Today I heard some great news. Biblical Good News kind of good news. I saw on a friend's Facebook that Francis Chan is "stepping out in faith." For every person out there who has an idea who Chan is, this will hopefully be a chance to reflect personally... and ask God: are you calling me here, still? Or is it just easy to stay. God could stir in either direction. And one is not right & the other wrong. I think the point is, it's a personal call. What is HE asking you to do? And are you willing to surrender to that? Even if it scares you to death. Even if it mourns the loss of everything you've ever known about how to do life & work.

Catalyst had an interview scheduled with Francis Chan the day he broke the news to his staff. So when asked "What's God doing in you right now?" the interviewing didn't realize how much of a "scoop" he'd unearthed. But thankfully, Chan was transparent and shared the process of the decision, which I pray gives peace & inspiration to others who might be in his shoes, yet scared. Here is the video interview. My favorite quote is "I'd be hypocritical if I didn't go...".

After this interview, Chan prepared to share the news with his church body. And yesterday, his sermon said it all. Click here to get the sermon "Surrender."

I am grateful for Chan's obedience. I am grateful for the kind of God that cares more about our walk with Him, more about our spiritual growth & perseverance, than He does about our "ministry." It reminds me of the passage from Isaiah 58 when God says, "No, this is the kind of fasting I want...".

Friday, April 16, 2010

Video Post: Interrupted

Interrupted from Threads on Vimeo.

Found this video online today (part one of a series you can buy from Lifeway). It captures the seed-planting part of a story of change. When you get down to it, this theme is how God has been stirring and continues to stir further my heart since 2007. I have a LONG way to go yet, but I am not giving up on God's work in my heart.

The video series is an accompaniment to the book Interrupted, written by Jen Hatmaker.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Veil Should Not Make You a Target

I am so disappointed. Today, while at Jamba Juice with a friend, I watched a sweet-looking veiled woman stand outside the window to get out of the rain while she waited on the bus. She was cradling her infant child in her arms & passing the time, minding her own business. While she stood there, a scraggly looking man approached her and started to try & talk to her. I couldn't tell if he was drunk or just weird. But she was immediately uncomfortable. Visibly uncomfortable. And this guy just kept harassing her. She starts pacing and trying to shoo him away. And believe it or not, this guy tries to ask to hold her baby! Are you kidding? He's making big motions with his arms and reaching in towards her chest to take the child.

The poor woman started running back towards the bus stop to get away from this inappropriate man. The guy started yelling after her "I just want to talk." He wasn't being mean... just ridiculously ignorant of personal space and boundaries. Thankfully, just then, the bus pulled up and she got on. I almost ran outside to interrupt, but the whole thing was over pretty quickly.

This scenario made me so angry. But what made me even more angry is that it's not the first time I have seen something similar to this take place. On a number of occasions I have seen veiled women in our town be approached by men in inappropriate ways. Its not even necessarily sexually inappropriate-- just a strange, power-trippy kind of inappropriate. It's hard to describe unless you've seen what I'm talking about. The behavior I've witnessed doesn't feel like the same kind of behavior I see in ordinary male-female inappropriate interactions.

It's like some guys think veiled women are free game. They can say what they want or act as inappropriate as they want. They feel some sick power trip over them. Maybe they think they can scare them. Maybe they think its okay to treat them worse. I can't say what they are thinking. But it makes me sick. Mad. Fiercely protective.

I know many women take on the veil in order to be modest and less noticeable in public life (this is a broad generalization, and I recognize there is a lot more to it than that). But I'm sad to say that in some cases, it has the opposite affect. And that breaks my heart. I LOVE these women and cannot stand their mistreatment.

I don't have a solution. Just wanted to post my observations and vent.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sudan's Elections Today... PRAY!

Pray for Sudan today... elections are happening. The resulting weeks/months ahead could turn sour in a country that's already suffered so much. Click HERE to read an article on the election from Seed Effect Sudan's blog.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Orphans & Adoption in an Islamic Context

Check out this recent article on the subject of "Orphans & Adoption in an Islamic Context."

This article is written about a different article on the subject posted from a Middle Eastern news source back in January. To read that article, click here.