Wednesday, November 25, 2009

B is for Birthday

Well, it has officially been 23 years since I came out of my mother's womb. I can't believe how time flies by.... I think a little reflection is in order...

10 years ago
(a poem I wrote when I was in 6th grade)
Boys, boys they are so hot.
I could die right on the spot.
He looks about 18, but so what?
Cuz he has the world's cutest butt.
I've never seen a boy so tall.
I'm sure that he plays basketball.
His muscles are so big, so scary.
It is him who I am going to marry.
5 years ago (from my xanga blog)
Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Currently Playing
By New Found Glory

its 9 days till my bday! im so excited, even though i can't have the cool dance party thing i wanted to have. so lets see... what have i been up to since i last wrote... i'm going out with JR... but other than that, i guess theres no other exciting news. oh! i was in the penny saver yesterday on the cover, for lancaster idol. some lady came and interviewed me and alyssa at school. it just occured to me today how many people could be reading this xanga... hi everyone! whats up! so at quiz bowl the other day, we almost beat e town on the last round! i was so excited, and i actually buzzed in and got a question right! the question was , the atomic number of an element is the same as what, and i said protons! and then we got a bonus question about snow white, and of course i knew all those answers. it had 4 parts... 1. which dwarf is always in a good mood? 2. which is the only dwarf without a beard? 3. what do the dwarfs do for a living? 4. what song do the dwarfs sing to and from work?
answers...1. happy 2. dopey 3. miners 4. heigh ho, its off to work we go.
did u get them all right???!!!!

That stuff cracks me up. I'm such a quirky person. This is proof that I always have been weird!

So back to the present... I had a really great birthday week. Last Wednesday night, Jenn (my bible study co-leader) organized a surprise party for me at bible study. DaShawn (a friend at Millersville) was downstairs waiting in the dark, and when we walked in and turned the light on, DaShawn turned his iPod on and started dancing and yelled SURPRISE! It was such a great night!
On Thursday, my actual birthday, my friends at work surprised me with a box of donuts and apple cider. Sherry (a fellow VISTA) made a Twilight birthday card for me :o) We went out for Chinese for lunch, and Mary treated for me. Then Megan made me broccoli, chicken, and rice cassarole for dinner, and TJ came over, too. Then we watched Twilight!
On Friday, I had off work, so I went up to LVC to visit during lunch, and Julia and I went to go see New Moon. I liked it a lot! Then I went home to go to Millersville for a joint birthday party for Jon Love and me. He turned 21. So we pretty much had a big dance party. Also, we played musical chairs.
On Saturday I went to Millersville to Cafe Expressions, a coffee house open mic thing that a few students had organized. I got to sing "Blessed," which I was super excited for. It didn't go amazingly well because I was thrown off by having to sing leaning over a podium. I don't know why I was nervous, but I really was. Afterward, I wished I could go back up there and ask to try again. I could have done much better, but I don't know what happened! That was my birthday gift to myself--getting to sing.
So that's a rundown of my birthday festivities. It's sad that it's all over, but now it is Thanksgiving! I am so THANKFUL to get to see my family!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

cup of pee

      I think that a Church with a true community is like a group of students standing in line holding a cup of urine. Oh wait, let me back up a little... so every year, the student athletes have to get a physical at LVC (and other colleges, too I'm sure). The last thing you have to do is a urine test, so they give you a dixie cup--yes, a paper dixie cup--and after you've urinated in the paper cup, you come stand in line to wait for testing. When I was a junior, it was the worst because all athletes were getting their physicals around the same time, so honestly, I waited in line with a cup of pee for at least half an hour to an hour. Just holding my pee. The cup started getting soggy. My friend Allie stood there with her fiance holding her cup of pee. That's just the kind of stuff you don't want anyone to see, even when you are at the doctor's office. But there you stand holding your own urine. It feels so... I don't know, vulnerable. Exposed. And dirty. But it's not so bad since we were all holding a cup of urine. Everyone was in the same place.
     So I think that a Church should be like that, too. Church should be a place where people feel welcome to stand there vulnerable and exposed and be accepted. They should not feel condemned. Jesus told the adulteress that he did not condemn her. Why aren't we more like that? I think if we shifted our attitudes and views of other people's sin and didn't condemn them, we would stop condemning ourselves, also. We would move to a place of openness with our community, so that we can actually walk together in our faith. We could feel comfortable sharing with one another in our struggles. We need to find the right balance between no condemnation and accountability because that's where Jesus is waiting to offer transformation. How do I love and accept others while keeping them accountable in following Jesus?
     I think if I could just face the ugly truth that I, too, am standing there holding a cup of pee, I wouldn't be so condemning of others. Cuz if you don't do the urine test, if you are too embarrassed to stand in line with a cup of pee, well, you can't be an athlete at LVC. You won't know if you are healthy or not.
     I, too, stand here with my dixie cup of pee with all the rest, so there's no reason to be ashamed. How can we condemn others, laugh at others, when we also stand with a cup of pee? And if I could have the courage to hold my cup, maybe others would see that it's okay to be vulnerable.We could move to a place of acceptance and no condemnation in the name of Jesus.
     So yeah, I think that a Church ought to be like a group of students holding a cup of pee.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A is for Asian

     This past weekend, I went to an Asian-American Leader's Day with InterVarsity. It was for Asian-American students and staff. The conference was in Baltimore, so I went down Friday and stayed until Sunday at Joy's house to spend time with Joy and Vanessa.
     Saturday morning, I got up all ready and excited for the conference... it was a 10 minute drive from Joy's house, so no stress, right? WRONG! I started off by missing my exit off 645, so I thought, no big deal, I'll just take the next exit and turn around. Well, the next exit was 83. UGH! Again, no big deal, I turned around on 83, and then was able to get on 645 and take the correct exit. Only here's the catch... there were two exit 26's... one was York Rd-North, and the other was York Rd-South. I took the first one since it corresponded with what the directions said. The only problem is when you're coming from the other direction, north and south are opposite what they would be from the right direction. This is scenario A, entitled "Why I Am To Blame." Scenario B is simply that the directions were wrong, or "Why It's Not My Fault."
     Well, whoever's fault it was, I didn't get there until an hour and a half late because I was in the wrong town. Same road--York Rd... but wrong town. I was looking for a 7000 address, so driving down York Rd had me at 1000, 1020, etc etc, then 2000, 2020, and so forth... it was SO LONG! So I said, God, please let these numbers go faster! And then all of a sudden, I was at 10000. God is funny. I giggled and said, no not that fast, God! So I turned around, 10000....9838...9800....2450. SAY WHAT?! Yes, it goes from the 2000's to the 9000's. And I know that IV's regional director isn't a liar just trying to mess with me, so I know this Central Presbyterian Church exists! So I just keep driving back and forth, thinking I must be missing it! That's what the guy at Wendy's said. But the nice man at the gas station hit me with the truth: you're in the wrong town! 7000 is WAY down on York Rd. Well, good to know! I wasn't happy with his news, but it was nice to have someone who knew what they were talking about. (Perhaps that's why the Harvard implicit test told me that I have a slight preference for Arab-Americans. Because of that man!) Gosh this is a long story, I'll skip to the end... So I wasn't in Towson like I thought I was. The directions that google maps gave me could have been a lot simpler. I was really frustrated, but I got there. It was just 15 minutes down the road, in Towson, not Timonium.
     Well now to the good stuff, Dakota, the regional director of IV in the Mid-Atlantic region, was kind of heading up the conference (when I say conference, I mean there were about a dozen students). Our speaker was supposed to be Greg Jao, another regional director of IV and author of a few famous books, none of which I have read, but still, an author! I was so excited! But his car broke down in New York, and he didn't make it. So Dakota vamped. I'm surprised at how great it was, in spite of not having a speaker! Praise God! Also, we ate Vietnamese food. I was never more proud of being Vietnamese... that food was AWESOME! (That was just hyperbole, I am proud of being Vietnamese for many other reasons, don't think I'm terrible haha.)
     We talked a lot about our sphere of influence as leaders. Who are the people that we feel comfortable reaching out to, and who are the types of people that we don't tend to feel as comfortable with? How can we change this? How can we challenge ourselves to reach out to other types of people? What kind of differing values do we have that might lead to conflict or miscommunication in our fellowship?
     It helped to renew for me the reason that I'm interning with IV. College is such a different situation than high school because it's a chance for those who are Christians and grew up in the church to take their faith as their own because their parents won't be there to make them go to church or anything anymore. It's also a chance for those who have never heard of Jesus to encounter him. That's why campus ministry matters. And the reason that this conference was specifically for Asian-American students is because having a minority in that leadership role opens the door of possibility in the mind of other students. An Asian-American IV staff is a witness to other minority students for them to know that leadership is a possibility for them, too. So I thought that was cool. I met a lot of cool students who really are leaders on their campus and really have a heart for their campus. And IV is a chance to minister to students who want to change the world... you know, Gary Haugen, the president of IJM, was in IV when he went to college? Yep, true story.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

the cost of freedom

        It costs me $10 for a soccer ball. I can afford that. But a $10 soccer ball is affordable because it is hand-stitched by slave labor. If I want a soccer ball that is guaranteed to be made by free labor, it costs $30. And it is so damn hard to choose a $30 soccer ball when you have the option of the $10 soccer ball.
        It's the same problem with free range chicken eggs. We would rather pay $1.50 for a dozen eggs of chickens who are cramped in coops rather than paying $3.50 for free range chicken eggs that come from chickens who have been raised in a healthy, sustainable manner. Well, it's not the same problem. But it's still shortsightedness that cripples the future moving towards healthier practices.
        What is the cost of freedom? It's a $30 soccer ball, for starters.
        But even I, who care so much about human rights, have trouble buying the $30 soccer ball. I bought my soccer ball before I knew that my $10 soccer ball was made by slave labor, and I have trouble even looking at it. It's tainted. It's like stealing. 27 million people in forced labor around the world even though slavery is illegal everywhere. 15 million children in slavery. Making clothes, soccer balls, and bricks for me. I'm not saying that I can solve it. I'm not saying that me choosing the $30 soccer ball is going to eradicate this evil of modern-day slavery. But it's me taking a stand in whatever way that I can. It's taking a stand for justice.
        It's easy to be apathetic about something that seems so far away--something that we don't have to see every day. But it breaks my heart to know that I benefit from the injustice in this world. I don't even have words for it... it's one of those things that just silences you because it's such a huge ache on my heart. A blog I stumbled across once while researching slavery seemed to say it best:

"Of my own ambition I would never think to become a living sacrifice for those in need, but Christ bears in me a love for the broken that breaks me deeper day by day. His divine invitation to dine with Him has introduced me to His heart. During our conversations He speaks of the physically poor and abused, the mentally impaired and deceived, the emotionally neglected and bankrupt, and the spiritually asleep as if His joy depends on healing every one of us. The longer I linger with Him, the more my joy depends on it, too...
Oh Christ, bear in us strength in our weakness by granting us faith in our fear and hope in our hurting and purpose in the pain as we face injustice, in order that we wouldn't lose heart. May Your power be made perfect in our weakness as we step out in the measure of faith You have given us to be Your hands and feet. Go before us to loose the chains of injustice, to set the oppressed free, to shelter the wanderer, to clothe the naked, and to provide for the poor not only physically but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually - which are of eternal importance. We ache not to build our castles in the sand that today stand and tomorrow fall, but to further Your Kingdom that will come tomorrow and stand for eternity.
Oh, haste the day! I live for it! But until then I will ache. And though my heart feels so heavy I count the weight as a blessing ordained by God instead of a burden as long as every ounce serves to motivate me to abolish injustice and continues to inspire me deeper into the precious heart of Christ.”

What is the cost of freedom? I think it's being willing to give up some of our own freedom to face these things, though it's hard to hear. All I know is that as I dig deeper into God's heart, there's no way to avoid God''s deep desire to set the captives free. I don't have a solution of how to make this happen, but I know that I want to, have to be a part of loosing the chains of injustice.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shift 09

        Going into our fall conference this past weekend, I was really excited BUT, also, really nervous about not getting enough sleep.That sounds weird, right? I mean who worries excessively about stuff like that? That's what God said to me this weekend... he's like, seriously, Jess, seriously?? So me, being, most likely, the only person excessively worrying about not getting enough sleep over the weekend, barely slept at all Friday night. For some reason, I just couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned for a few hours, cried about it, then tossed and turned some more. I think I slept for about two hours. I had to nap in the afternoon (for another two hours). Then I was looking forward to going to bed really early on Saturday night (plus getting an hour for daylight savings), but that didn't happen either. We ended up having a Millersville leader's meeting that went until after 2 AM. Something that Betsy said this weekend really rang true for me, and it wasn't even in reference to me and my lack of sleep; Betsy said that there are better things that this weekend has to offer than sleep. Which brings me back to what God thought of my excessive worrying about not getting enough sleep: "Seriously, Jess, seriously? You think not getting enough sleep is such a huge deal? Well, in that case, I'm going to NOT give you enough sleep. And you will STILL be okay." Touché, God, touché.

        So Shift consisted of the South Central area InterVarsity chapters: Millersville, F&M, Elizabethtown, Dickinson, York, Penn State Harrisburg, and LVC (but no one came from LVC!). There were 60-70 students, I think. I forget. It was a really great time to spend with Millersville students, meet new students from the other schools, and lead with other staff (aka my wonderful friends). The speaker was a friend of Bret's, Nick Peterson, who is just a really awesome man of God. It was a really challenging weekend for all the students and for me.

        I saw God working all the students. I was blessed to be a part of the worship team. We had a practice session about a week or so before Shift, and I was just struck by this awesome opportunity to worship God with those who have quickly become some of my best friends. It's what heaven must be like: 24/7 of worship team with Betsy, Jesse, Evan, Megan, and of course, George. As part of the worship team, I was able to see how God was working in the students. They sang with such passion and just seemed so open to hearing what God had to say to them.

      Shift is a chance for students (and staff) to hear how God is calling them to make a shift in their lives. At the end of the conference, the students were given an invitation: accept Jesus for the first time, make an adult decision to follow Christ (claim their faith as their own instead of their parents), or committing something they have or hold precious to God. So many students went up there to write on a post it note. A few accept Christ for the first time, many others chose to claim their faith as their own, and tons of students wanted to go deeper and give more of themselves to God. How incredible!

        Another activity that we had as a response after hearing about John 8, the adulterous woman that the pharisees wanted to stone. Nick paints the picture of this woman who was caught in the act of adultery, meaning she was probably naked or half naked. And everyone knew about this sin. He contrasted this with the way we like to cover up our sins. As a response to this lesson, we had black posterboard that students could write down the sins they felt needed to be exposed. Jesus gave no condemnation to this woman, so we can make a shift from shame ---> no condemnation. Well, I still feel shame, apparently, because I had a hard time believing that a lot of people would go up and write their sins down. But they did. And during worship, they had the opportunity to erase those sins from the board, knowing that Jesus offers no condemnation and says, "Go, and sin no more." Most people were able to erase their sins from the board. I was really moved by the overwhelming amount of people who exposed their sin, and it was just so evident that God was working to cause a shift in students' hearts. Which brings me to our Millersville leader's meeting that went until 2 AM, we had a "Let's Stop Pretending" meeting where we intended to expose sin that we felt was holding us back from becoming a closer community as a fellowship or just discuss problems we had in the fellowship. At first, I was like, seriously, it's midnight! Then I thought, seriously, it's 1 AM! But by 2 AM, though I was exhausted, I saw that God was bringing us closer together.

        In other news, we got to have an open mic night which Millersville totally dominated! haha I got to read a poem, and something happened just like the poem wished for! I seemed to stop people dead in their tracks with my words. People stopped playing games or talking and were listening to me. Also, Mary and I played gaga, a fun game of Israeli dodgeball. We were the last two left in the game (because the guys thought it would be funny). It was hilarious and ridiculous, as things with Mary and me usually are.

Well, clearly, God had better things in mind for this past weekend than sleep.