Monday, November 24, 2008

I need Africa more than Africa needs me...

I was asked by the Mocha Club to write about why "I need Africa more than Africa needs me." If you aren't familiar with it, Mocha Club is a community-based website where members can start a team and invite friends to join them in giving $7 a month – the cost of 2 mochas – to support a project in Africa. Mocha Club's vision is to provide a way for people who don't have hundreds or thousands of dollars to make a difference in Africa.

When I joined Mocha Club a couple years ago, I cannot honestly say that I would have agreed with the statement that "I needed Africa more than Africa needs me." My intentions were good and compassionate, filled with hope to provide change for women and children in Africa that desperately needed it. I knew that my $7 a month could do something to help them and felt I was making a difference, and like many of us do in those times, I felt proud to be giving and compassionate and generous. I realize now that my $7 giving each month has not only helped change other people, but it's changing me.

You might think I'm crazy. Sure, Africa needs our help! America is wealthy, and with the trendiness of so many celebs reaching out to adopt babies or dig wells or raise awareness, it might seem that Africa would be devastated without our help. I beg to differ. God created Africa for a purpose, and it wasn't so that we would learn to give and be generous. It was so that we would realize that we may have needs even greater than theirs.

I've never been to Africa, but what I've seen in pictures and heard from those who have, it is much different from what is portrayed through the media. When watching the news it seems like Africa is dark and dim, filled only with devastation and poverty and hunger and death. But from what I've seen, we are not in a much different place here in America. We face a different kind of death and poverty and hunger and devastation.

I look at our culture, overflowing with iPods and GPS systems and the latest trends and gadgets. I see that real relationships have been replaced with a somewhat false sense of community through facebook, myspace, and texting, and humans have no idea how to build relationships face-to-face without an iPhone in hand. We have plenty to eat; in fact, we are probably wasting more than Africans or other people in the world see in an entire year. We have clean water. We even pick and choose what brand of bottled water we want, with flavors and minerals and vitamins added. We complain about jobs that require 40-80 hours a week, but they provide a salary of more than $2.00/day and ample healthcare (even in our changing economy) and plenty of other resources.

It seems to me that America, too, is a country in dire need. We need to recognize that our needs might not be materialized in the form of water, food, housing, or clothes. Instead, what we need to find is how to love, how to hope, and how to live. I pray that along with the coming "change" that is proclaimed with our upcoming president will come an open, teachable spirit in America. We often think we're the ones to become the "Savior" to other countries in need, but what can they teach us? What can we learn?

To think that Africa needs me is completely selfish. Our God is bigger than America; He is bigger than my $7/month, and He is bigger than all of the world's wealth. He is bigger than any world leader and any strategic plan to eliminate hunger and poverty. He doesn't need us to save people, but He does desire that our hearts will seek to create change and love people.

When we look at countries in poverty we often attribute to them a lower status in our self-created hierarchy of humanity. But if you're anything like me, when you visit another country that seems more in need than we are, you return to America realizing that we are in fact the ones in greater need. I have seen deep need in places like Haiti, remote gypsy villages in Romania, and in the post-Katrina state of New Orleans. Each time I return from one of these trips I find it odd that I have been the one more blessed. My work may have made a slight difference, but it never compares to the difference in me.

In giving $7/month to Africa through the Mocha Club, I'm doing very little, really, to help. But in doing so, I'm recognizing the need in me to give, to be selfless, and to be humbled.

The people of Africa have hope much stronger than mine in much harsher of circumstances. For that, I need them.

They know how to love one another and live in true community. For that, I need them.

They know how to live with little and with simplicity. For that, I need them.

They live with greater joy, a deeper hunger for the Lord, and a mightier thirst for His Word. For that, I need them.

Indeed, I need Africa more than Africa needs YOU?

PLEASE...share your thoughts in my comments section. Start a dialogue about this. Write on your own blog about this. Join in the worthwhile cause of recasting the damaging images that force pity over partnership.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

still alive...

I am still here, despite what little writing I've done lately.

I've been in Tulsa this weekend for the National Missionary Convention, and I really should have worked on compiling a list of all of the crazy Christians that were there. I have been to enough conventions like this and the North American Christian Convention to be able to say that some Christians are just strange, weird, socially inept people. And I always seem to have the privilege of running into them.

I had my share of people come up to the table at our LCC booth to ask a question, and not unlike many strange kids at college fairs, they continue to stand there expecting the conversation to continue. Now my job requires quite a bit of small talk and the ability to hold a conversation, but sometimes it is just impossible. And I'm not yet sure what to post about the girl who walked around holding a sign offering "Free Hugs" to everyone there. A sweet gesture...but really? I just don't get it. Maybe I'm too cynical and mean.

But aside from all this, I plan on writing a bit tomorrow about this concept of missions we have...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I now have brown hair. :) I'll post some pictures someday soon.

I'm exhausted. After several days of being very "on-the-go" I'm ready to just chillax on my couch and watch TV that doesn't involve thinking.

Did you know that Chapstick was made of animal carcasses? Yeah...I just found that out. Pretty sure I'll be altering what I put on my lips from now on...

In a quick trip to Louisville for a college fair last night, I got to enjoy some good sushi w/ my bestie Amanda! Only my 2nd sushi experience, but I made another good choice w/ the lobster rolls.

If you notice to the right of my page, you'll see a link for The Great Ornament Exchange! Check it out... Kate McDonald is hosting this via her blog and will be organizing a way for 60+ people around the country to trade ornaments and begin a new tradition. Wanna join? You have to respond by emailing her before midnight THIS THURSDAY the 14th!

Please continue to pray for Ben Towne, the little boy I posted about last week after reading his CaringBridge site. He is still hanging onto life and fighting with a strong will to live, according to the journal his parents have been keeping up online. Pray for their strength as they walk into the unknown.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Please pray...

I apologize for the mental whiplash, but this is not at all humorous like the previous post.

After finding this on Kate's blog tonight and reading journal entries from complete strangers on the other side of the country, I'm sitting here crying my eyes out. Please take just a moment to plead with God on behalf of a little 3 year old boy named Ben and his mom and dad in Seattle, WA.

I realize I just posted a list of things to laugh at below this, but I hope you'll find this much more meaningful and take a minute to pray. If blogging can be used to make people laugh and think, then surely it can be used to share things like this.

Please pray.

"the list"

Well, well, well...

Friends, we have certainly witnessed history with this election, but my favorite part has been the ridiculous response that many have made public via facebook. If you're not familiar, facebook allows everyone to have a "status." Your status might be what you're doing, what you're eating, some random song lyric, where you are, something really emo to make people feel bad for you, etc. But apparently it is now the place for publicly making your political statement known--whether for or against Obama. As if your facebook status could change the world...

So last night I took the liberty of compiling a list of the hilarity I found in many facebook statuses. The list grew today and just might continue to grow if people continue to make ridiculous remarks. Just don't let it be you. :)

So because I've been asked for the list several times today, I thought I'd share it here.
Here goes:

____ oh well, america had a good run

____ is enjoying her last days as a free american

____ thinks that it's a shame that an election can bring out the worst in people...some of you aren't even acting human tonight. Freaking grow up!

____ is weeping and gnashing her teeth.

____ knows that god has a plan and everything WILL work out

____ How can people be pulled into Obama's lies and not even understand how ignorant he is? This is stupid.

____ Sweet, now i can live out my dream of living in a van down by the river because the government will take all my money and give it to those who do nothing!!!

____ is really scared & nervous about what is going to happen to this country...dear God please help us! what the hell was America thinking! what did we do?!

____ thanks uninformed and ignorant American voters...get ready for the biggest depression in United States history

____ is angry and will probably hide his guns from himself because he is suicidal

____ like the israelites there are evil and godly rulers...hopefully we won't wander for 40 years

____ will pray for the new president but cannot and will not support him.

____ is going to enjoy their plethora of tequilla and great tans in mexico

____ moves into a state of loyal opposition. Equal emphasis on both loyal and opposition. Yep, learned that concept from Mr. Brown.

____ is yup its offical we're screwed!!

____ is wondering what ever happed to the phrase "ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL" it doesn't state anything about African Americans or Americans WTF? We're all the same


____ is worried about the future and happy that at least mcconnel won. (welcome to the USSA).

____...only in America can being charismatic and having a celebrity following but no actual experience get you elected President...GOD be their solution!

____ is a citizen of a socialist country? Seriously? ....dangit. Oh well, God rules. God Help US ALL!

____ wants to move... somewhere. too bad Kenya is out of the question...

____ is thinking the only real bummer is that Heidi Klum and Seal won't be leaving the country now.

____ cannot in good conscience support Obama... she cannot and will not...

____ was told that when a democrat is in office Christians give more to the church....get these churches out of the budget crunch.

____ now realizes how many idiots live in the USA.

____ is people are saying welcome to 8 years of hell but they forget we have been living it for the past 8 years. Go OBAMA!!!!

____ is PRESIDENT OBAMA IN YOUR FACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

____ is moving to Italy instead, it's warmer and has better food.

____ How can people be pulled into Obama's lies and not even understand how ignorant he is? This is stupid.

____ knows God will bless this is some way...

____ is pretty sure God is still God no matter who the president is...may wisdom and grace be his life's action.

____ is welp I am alive to see history made.

____ cannot believe this....oh my gosh.

____ would like for people to pick up a Bible and read Matthew 6:25-34.9:59pm

____ Obama we trust.

____ Jesus still resurrected.

____ maybe i shouldn't be...but i am actually surprised at how people are catastrophizing in texas today. Xanax for everyone!

____ agrees with libby steinberg, we are a United people in America!! Stop acting so negative towards such a historic day in America.

is The sky is falling, The sky is falling!

____ says put on your big girl panties and suck it up!

____ is “Well, there you have it.”

____ is wondering if Bob the Builder is going to sue Obama for using ‘Yes We Can’

____ might as well quit my job and go get in line for welfare.

____ it’s silly to say this is the end…we’ve been saying that for a couple thousand years.

____ is considering building a fallout shelter.

____ 2012 baby... ‘you betchya!’

____ “wait for it...wait for it...CHILL!”

____ is not shocked Obama won. He is shocked that 9/10 people I talked to said they only voted for Obama because he speaks better.

____ wonders what change means.

____ thinks that we should have elected an Amish president.

____ is more interested now that the race is over. Funny how that works.

____ made it through the Clinton years alive...

____ just removed 1 friend for racial slurs about our next president. Don’t be next.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

trying to avoid all the election talk but i can't...& other random stuff...

I'm trying my best to avoid so much talk about the election, because I'm just ready for it to be over. But I can't completely leave it alone. I am not 100% apathetic. I do care. But in reality, it all comes down to this: No matter who wins, we ought to respect our nation's leader. I'm not sure what happened to good old fashioned respect and submission to leadership. I guess democracy. And rights. That's what happened.

It seems that we think we have the "right" to so much in life. And I hear people saying that as long as they vote then they have the right to complain later if their choice doesn't win. I disagree. (We can differ on this, and that's ok.) I suppose some complaining is fine, but honestly can't we just learn to respect whomever is given such a high state of authority in this country? And can we trust that God is bigger than one person? And can we trust that our entire country does not rest in one man alone, but on Congress and many advisory boards as well? And whomever is picked will most likely not follow through with most of what his intended plans are, so if we're fearing a plan that has been mentioned, it may not even happen.

And on a different note, I think it's funny how secretive people are about who they vote for. I'm not sure why that is, but it doesn't bother me to tell you who I voted for. But because I don't want any arguments here, I'll change the subject.

This is where random comes in.

I really want to play in the leaves outside. And at the same time, I really want to go lay on a beach somewhere really warm and get my summer tan back.

I'm hooked on listening to the music from the movie The Holiday. It just makes me happy. And also the song "January Rain" by David Gray that's on the movie Serendipity. That song gives me the chills...just picturing the snowflakes falling in the Manhattan sky over that wonderful little dessert shop, Serendipity III, and over the skating rink in Central Park, and the magical way those two people meet and meet again years later. I could listen to it over and over and over. And I will.

I think for the first time in my life, I just made the perfect fried egg. I never used to be able to. My dad was the only person who ever seemed to make them just right. They always end up burnt, or my yoke would break all over before I even got it off the stove...except tonight! I just enjoyed a great fried egg on toast with feta cheese. Because feta makes everything better.

Back to Serendipity...if you've never been there in New York City, you really need to. Their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate is worth whatever 3 hour wait they say you'll have to endure (I promise you it will only end up to be about an hour and a half...or half the time they tell you to begin with. Just don't go out to eat first and be full when you get there--not a good idea. And know that they don't take reservations, so get your name in and then wander around Urban Outfitters or Dylan's Candy Bar down the block.) Anyway, I rediscovered the recipe for this glorious goodness just yesterday, and I'm going to attempt to make one sometime this week.

So as you watch the election results come in, don't freak out. In fact, see Kate's blog for more on comfort amidst the election and a comfort food recipe to try as well. And here's the "secret" frozen hot chocolate recipe that I'm going to try out (let me know if you do too!):
6 half-ounce pieces of a variety of your favorite chocolates (dark chocolate for me please)
2 teaspoons of store-bought hot chocolate mix
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups of ice
Whipped cream
Chocolate shavings

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place it in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Add the hot chocolate mix and sugar. Stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and slowly add ½ cup of milk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. In a blender, place the remaining cup of milk, the room-temperature chocolate mixture and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. Pour into a giant goblet and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. And...share with your friends if necessary or desired. ;)