Thursday, July 29, 2010

Peculiar, Missouri: Where the "Odds" are with You

Many things have changed in Peculiar since I shook the dust of this sleepy ol’ town off the boots I never owned, and left for greener pastures (well…Columbia, MO if you can consider that greener). The house, for one, is in complete disarray as my family renovates with a firm belief that things must get worse before they can get better. My parents are preparing the house to go on the market by September and will proceed to shake the dust of this sleepy ol’ town off their New Balance tennis shoes and move down to Louisiana. From Peculiar to New Orleans, talk about culture shock.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the quiet, serenity that moves in and out of pastures, over ponds, through trees and into my backyard, always to accompany me when I look at the land that is and will forever be my childhood. Such a breathtaking picture of God’s creativity and a marvelous reminder of His majesty!

So tonight, BJ and I decided to cook dinner for my family. This was a daunting task since our Dad is the head chef and hardly EVER allows anybody else in his kitchen to utilize his fancy schmancy cookware. I was feeling ultra self-conscious and thought “He’s totally going to judge this meal harsher than a judge on Iron Chef…” It turned out to be a blast though! BJ whipped up his buffalo dip appetizer, Dalton stirred the dessert rum sauce, Brandon cut and arranged fruit on a platter, while I made a huge mess with everything I touched. Bon appetit!

While I knew I was suppose to go to Peculiar to do more support raising, another big reason I came back was because all of the males in my family had birthdays. Brandon turned 28, Dalton turned 18, BJ turned 21, and Dad turned 50. (Talk about pivotal birthdays: 18, 21, and 50.) We had many a conversation about how my father is older than dirt and how BJ is finally 21 so he can taste his first sip of champagne (TEE-HEE)!

I’ve had time to think here in Peculiar. Time to sit on my parent’s front porch and talk to God as the butterflies fly by (sure to get heat exhaustion from all that flapping in the July heat). Time to work on letters, make a few face-to-face appointments, and learn to trust that all of this humble toil will equate to my ability to labor for the Lord on Mizzou’s campus in the fall. What an honor!

To be completely honest, my heart has not been in a good place since I’ve been home. It’s always difficult to be in Peculiar for multiple reasons. For one, I’m constantly reminded of my “old self” here and I am constantly battling old habits and thought patterns that I don’t really have to deal with in Columbia. In addition, I’m not exactly surrounded by Believers all the time, so my best friends/accountability buddies are not here to lean on. It’s been tough, and I’ve had to reread scripture dealing with spiritual warfare and all that jazz.

But WOW do I have some praise reports. For one, God has showed up in HUGE ways since I’ve been here. People’s hearts have opened up and my support raising has finally started picking up. Best believe that for a while, I doubted God’s provision, as it seemed completely hopeless. But I should have known better! I will continue to work to please the Lord and not man and trust that His plan is perfect.

A few of my favorite stories include meeting with a gym teacher that I haven’t seen since elementary school. What a delight it was to share my life with her and have her do the same! My brother BJ also surprised me with a hand-written note stuck in the bathroom door.

“Dear Jackie,

Here is a little mula-moo for your fundraising. Continue to do God’s work. We need at least one successful person in our family. Uhhh…that’s it. Bye-bye.



I’m not a crying gal, but shoot...

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Working Realization

I love the game Scrabble. The picture above was taken at a bar in Columbia during my friend's 22nd birthday celebration. My friends and I really know how to party. The word "money" was spelled during this game, which has been on my mind a lot lately with support raising and all that jazz. Money reminds me of having a job, and the word job reminds me of all of my past work experience.

I had my first real job when I was sixteen years old. It was at a factory in Peculiar, MO called Sioux Chief Plumbing Manufacturing and I was in the shipping department. I spent every minute of every forty hours a week picking up boxes of plumbing parts, throwing them onto pallet jacks, and consolidating them so they could be transported to their final destination. Sometimes if it was a really slow day, I would spend several hours in a row cutting plastic off boxes with a box cutter while the hum of the warehouse fans seemed to move the heat from one place to the other rather than make it any cooler.

Needless to say, while I was grateful for the paycheck, I despised the monotony of the job.

1. Grab pallet jack
2. Find routing number
3. Pick up box
4. Place box on pallet jack
5. Repeat until the world ceases to be interesting times eighty

I would scribble poetry on the back of shipping orders, cut huge letters in the plastic-covered boxes as if I were Zorro, and find other ways to try and keep my mind from accepting the fact that it truly was mindless work. Once, I had to pick up some parts that were rarely ordered located in the back of the factory. The boxes were on a shelf that was so close to the wall that there was barely enough room for this 5'1" Asian to squeeze into. As I unamusedly stared at the tiny space, I saw spider webs woven all over the place between the boxes and the wall. Unoccupied spider webs are cool with me, but these webs had no vacancy signs. The disgusting creatures had extra long legs that seemed to double dog dare me to try and get back to where my box orders sat. I literally had to walk away and give myself a pep talk before I could brave the spider territory. It was sick...but it helped keep things interesting.

Now, I can see how my experience at a job that I wasn't very passionate about helped shape my decision to find something I was passionate about. Yet, even that road was a long and winding one.

I've had other jobs since my Sioux Chief stunt.

*I sacked groceries at Hy-Vee and would retrieve carts when the managers were feeling extra evil. In the winter, I was terrified the entire time trying to push carts back into the grocery store, anticipating the moment when the ice would cause me to slip and run the carts into somebody's brand spankin' new car or something.
*I completed two internships at law firms: one in downtown Kansas City for two hotshot, young lawyers looking for free labor and the other for the Cass County Prosecuting Attorney's office (which was a delight in comparison).
*I was a waitress at Partner's restaurant in Harrisonville for a long time, filing away memories in my mind vaguely reminiscent of the movie "Waiting." My friend and I would frequently get mistaken for siblings, despite the fact that he's Korean and I'm Filipino.
*And of course, my latest job was at The Intersection after-school program, which served underprivileged youth in the Columbia area. I can write a book about my experiences there. Those kids forever changed me.

I bring up my past occupations because I'm struggling with support raising. I'm used to working for a paycheck and having a stringent schedule of tasks to complete during my work times. For years I have been a multi-tasker, going from school to work to practice to whatever craziness I was involved in at the time, thriving on the business. Now, support raising has been my job and I have yet to learn how to embrace the process. Iknow that I am in the perfect position to be obedient to God and to trust in His perfect provision, but since I haven't seen results, I've already started losing motivation. Sometimes I think it would be EASIER to just get a job like normal college graduates do...why did I have to take such a radical road? However, if I wasn't obedient, I would be ignoring a call that I know I have.

Again, I trust you God. I trust you God. I trust you God. Even when it's hard. I trust you God.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Trust You, God

My to-do list seems to grow longer and longer each day with support raising, arbitrary errands, and standard move-out procedure. The difficult part of it is, I feel like at the end of each day I haven't accomplished anything. It's been extremely discouraging and I had a few moments within the last few days where I really had to take time to be with God and give all of my frustrations and doubts to Him.

As a senior in high school, I wasn't a believer yet, but I remember being moved by the testimony of a young woman who struggled financially through college. She said that when money got especially tight and she didn't know where her next meal would come from, she would look in the mirror and say, "I trust you God, I trust you God..." five times. Sometimes she would say it quickly, sometimes she would draw out her words slowly and intentionally, but each sentence was a proclamation of faith that would be the foundation of where she put her hope. When I first came to Christ, I put this routine into practice, shaky and uncertain, staring into the mirror and telling God that I trusted Him.

Today, there may be more "Christian-ish" stuff that I do to grow closer to God (Bible study, journaling, prayer, fellowship, etc.), but I most definitely still have genuine moments of desperation where I cry out to the Lord. I feel like I am telling God and reassuring myself that God is the only one I trust completely and totally. It seems so juvenile, but it really isn't. You should try it sometime.

I trust you God. I trust you God. I trust you God. I trust you God. I trust you God.

Yesterday was a full day, and it was full of what I love to do best: be with people. I had the opportunity to spend time with my roommate's younger sister, reconnected with some amazing girls from Navigators (future roomies!), met up with a girl who has a wonderful and sweet spirit who will be staying with us for a few weeks (yay!!), and ate dinner with my roomies/Intersection kids/friends of olde. Oh yes, I also had a "skype date" with my gentleman caller (I stole that phrase from my future roomate). Although it was a lovely day, I didn't get to spend as much time on support raising stuff as I would have liked. In turn, I felt guilty throughout the entire day that I wasn't making appointments and writing letters the whole time. It really made me realize that in order for me to have the freedom to do ministry and spend the quality time with God and with other people, I'm going to have to buckle down and get this support raising stuff done. Sigh...

Support raising has been difficult. I have yet to see the fruit from my labors. In a way, it has been super encouraging because a lot of the people I have met with have agreed to be on my prayer team to support me in that way. I have also had the chance to reconnect with old friends and share my life with them and vice versa. However, I'm still in a position where I have to trust God even though it doesn't look like I'm where I'm supposed to be. (I keep getting the attack, "Jackie, if you were supposed to do college ministry, the money would be coming in easily.") Well, I know this is where I'm supposed to be. I just need to continue to be persistent, consistent, and faithful.

"The Lord is my strength and song; and he has become my salvation." -Exodus 15:2

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Christians and Coffee, Coffee and Christians

Every time I visit family in Seattle, I always have at least one family member act out their seemingly civic duty of taking me to the nearest Starbucks for a caffeinated beverage. (I refuse to say coffee because I don't like coffee unless it is doctored beyond recognition with lots of cream and sugar and other goodness to take the coffee flavor away.) Well, last time I was at a coffee shop with my grandparents, I noticed two girls sipping their caffeinated beverages in a corner. One girl was talking excitedly while the other listened intently, occasionally nodding. Being the avid people watcher that I am, hopefully without being creepy, I spotted a lanyard around Miss Excited Talker's neck that said JESUS. This excited me for multiple reasons.

1. I had the same lanyard that I used to have my keys on before it broke, and I am vain enough to believe that I have very good taste.
2. Miss Excited Talker was a fellow believer and she was possibly discipling or sharing something about her faith with the girl she was with.
3. My suspicion was confirmed that Christians are obsessed with coffee.

Today I spent the afternoon hanging out with one of the young ladies I mentored from The Intersection after school program. She is fourteen years old, is obsessed with Twilight (Jacob specifically) and loves God. Saweeeet combo! After we ate lunch, I asked if she was up for going to a coffee shop and hanging out with me. She could play around on my computer, while I worked on support letters for Edge Corps. Done deal. She got an iced coffee, and I got a green tea latte.

While working on support letters I couldn't help but think about how heavily coffee shops have been influenced by Christian culture, or rather, how Christian culture has been influenced by coffee shops. When I first came to Christ I would have older women ask me, "Wanna do coffee and chat?" which roughly translates into, "Wanna talk about your relationship with Christ and perhaps iron out what you're struggling with?"

At first, (as a freshman and new believer) I wasn't sure what to do, not liking coffee and all. Should I order coffee anyway because we were "doing coffee"? It seemed dishonest to get tea. We weren't "doing tea." Also, should I come prepared with a list of my struggles? You know, a systematic checklist of sins that I was working through. I was unfamiliar with the Christian Coffee Protocol.

Yes, these thoughts and more were running through my head at Kaldis today with my little fourteen year old disciple who is seven inches taller than I am. She was on Facebook, while I was writing personalized notes on my support letters asking people to join my team. Perhaps next year, God will put some freshmen women in my life who are hungry to know more about Christ and the Bible. Perhaps I will call them and ask if they want to "do coffee." Perhaps they will be nervous about it because they will not like coffee. Perhaps I will ease their fears and order a vanilla bean frappe first so that they see that coffee is not a prerequisite for coffee dates in my book.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Moving On

I'm going to miss my apartment. My wonderful roommates and this constant hub of friends and family who can stop by for tea, pasta, or if I'm feeling especially stereotypical, rice. I've spent the last two years on University Avenue and William Street and can truly say that it has become my home. You know, the kind of home where "home is where the heart is" actually makes sense.

I'm currently taking apart my room and it's coming along ever so slowly because I can't seem to get rid of anything. I pick up a piece of paper with arbitrary chicken scratch writing on it and get whisked down memory lane. Oh...this is the to-do list I wrote during finals week. So glad I remembered to buy trash bags and go to my Milton final. Memories, memories. That's my room in the picture by the way. The Happy 21st sign was made by my friends and there are posters of my favorite bands alongside some sweet movie memorabilia (Kung Fu Panda anybody?)

I have a Jesus wall in my room. Sounds weird huh? Well, it might be, but I really like it. I moved into my apartment on this spiritual high from Kids Across America (KAA U KNOW!), and decided to draw on my wall with different colored chalk. KAA's influence is evident: "I don't need no money cus salvation is free because the Lord died for you and He died for me!"/ "God first, Others second, Me third"/ "Jesus is sweeter than honey"/ "It's a good, good's gonna be a very good day." KAA turned my life around, which is funny because it was for the Intersection kids I brought there as a chaperone. I felt convicted of my sins and had an intense desire to seek out who God truly was. In the middle of my Jesus wall is a red chalk heart reminding me who God is: Living Water, King of Kings, The Beloved, Prince of Peace, Messiah, Morning Star, Alpha and Omega, Light of the World, Savior, Bread of Life...Amen and amen.

I had the pleasant opportunity to attend a fellow Navigator's surprise birthday today! It was so refreshing to be reunited with such a wonderful group of people. I'm getting excited for what is in store next year. One thing is for sure though, the fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ will be phenomenal. Indeed.

Give me a few weeks and I will spin tales about support raising. When I say "spin tales" I mean that I will give praise reports. I have some cool stories now, but I desperately desire the opportunity to spin tales. Be patient. Tales will be spun, oh yes, tales will be spun.

Grace and peace.

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life." -Proverbs 11:30

...and just after that it says, "and he who wins souls is wise." Bam. Money in the proverbial bank.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Answering the Call

Ring Ring!
Me: Hello?
Hi Jackie, this is your official calling to do campus ministry next year on Edge Corps with the Navigators.
Me: Click.

Yeah, that's basically how it went in real life when my mentor suggested that I join Edge Corps back in November. I wasn't sure what I was going to do but I KNEW that I wasn't going to be staying in Columbia and I KNEW that college ministry wasn't where my heart was. I had previously worked with kids for two and a half years and thought that if I was going to pursue ministry, it would be with youth.

However, God has a funny way of directing our steps and after months of searching, prayer, and uncertainty, I knew that Edge Corps was "in the cards" for lack of a better phrase. I found out more about Edge Corps, which is a Navigators ministry that is passionate about sharing the truth of Jesus with college students. My excitement was fueled by the fact that I fell into the University of Missouri's Navigator ministry my senior year, and was able to receive amazing teaching, discipleship and fellowship that helped me in my understanding of God and deepened my relationship with the Lord. Edge Corps was an amazing opportunity to serve the ministry that has done so much for me. Perhaps God will work through me to reach women like me, who were struggling with their faith, and allow my testimony to speak to the transforming power of God.

Currently, I am in transit between Kansas City and Columbia, MO raising a team of supporters who will financially partner with me so that I am able to report to Mizzou's campus in August. The process is not comfortable, nor is it easy. However, I can already see that meeting with people face to face gives me a chance to share in other people's lives in a way that I love doing. Also, it allows me to share my passion for the gospel and has been an "excuse" in some cases to present the truth of Romans 6:26, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Amazing. Unbelievable. Powerful. Truth.

The past few days have been emotionally hard on me. I spent the last month in a half traveling: Seattle, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois and have had a fair share of ups and downs along the way. Please pray that God restores my focus and that the emotional scars that have been afflicted will be healed by the power of the cross. Also pray for my diligence and capacity to work hard despite feeling like my labor is fruitless at times.

If you are interested in joining my support team (prayer or financial), feel free to contact me via e-mail: and I will give you more information. At Edge Corps we joked that since, "God loves a cheerful giver," (2 Corinthians 9:7), we were looking for "HILARIOUS givers." Indeed, I trust for God to provide and I'm sure the means by which this will happen will be surprising, maybe even hilarious.

Blessings, grace, and peace be to you, friend.