happy one year

EXACTLY ONE YEAR ago from today, I was lying on a creaky bed wondering what I had gotten myself into, moving into a house with 9 strangers in a brand new city and committing to a yearlong internship… I stood at the threshold of an exciting adventure, and the overwhelming sense of calm I felt assured me that I was stepping into something good.

“Good” seems overly simplistic, yet it was the word I used most frequently when describing my year with Sojourners and Cycle 30. Jam sessions on the balcony. Girl talk on the roof. Wednesday night Zumba. First-date drama. Morning runs in the neighborhood. Late-night donut runs with the flourish gang. Parties and worship nights on weekends. Sherlock. Harry Potter. Free-flowing conversations (and body movements) around the kitchen table – actually, anywhere in the kitchen… my favorite memories were formed in the kitchen. Indeed, part of the goodness of the past year was the spontaneous fun that happened, whether explosively or gradually.

But there were also really sobering times both for our community and for myself. Loss of loved ones to sickness and accidents. Tension with parents and siblings over diverging values and worldviews. Disappointments and regrets from impulsive decisions and unresolved conflicts. Clashing theologies and applications of faith. Growing cynicism of systems and deepening doubt of long-held doctrines.

The most challenging thing for me was the spiritual oppression I (didn’t know I) faced. Having emerged from a summer of wilderness, I entered the year with Sojourners in a spiritually vulnerable state. Without the sort of accountability to which I was accustomed at Wheaton and at home, I leaned heavily towards open-mindedness and tolerance of diverse views. Considering multiple perspectives is always positive, but I approached any new idea like a smoothie, slurping everything up that was palatable without taking time to consider the taste. Absorbing information without filters left me more disoriented than I ever imagined.

I am thankful for the opportunity to see God through different lenses and to emphasize different parts of God’s character. I am thankful for the freedom from White conservative evangelicalism to which I had clung. I am thankful for the chance to worship with people who differed from me in socioeconomic background, cultural upbringing, ethnic identification, and sexual orientation.

At the same time, my relationship with Jesus has become fragile. I crave discipline and solitude. I am itching to participate in ministry. I seek to be rooted in conviction.

Presently, I feel like I am back at the beginning of my year with Cycle 30, minus the wonder & anticipation. Right now, I am weary. I am learning to walk on my own two feet. Sojourners truly is my family – a place where I feel at home, where I am loved as myself, where I delight in the company of my colleagues even if I have some frustrations with the organization. But no matter how much I enjoy spending time with my family, I am not meant to stay forever. As much as I want to be babied for another year, I hug Sojourners goodbye and carry the lessons & memories and the laughs & hiccups it shared with me. Putting one foot in front of the other, I move forward towards another milestone, whatever it may be.

bearing burdens: another kind of weight training

TODAY MY FRIEND came out to his parents. They were less than happy. I don’t quite know how to process this. I’m not gay. I have not felt pressured to hide my sexuality from my parents. Part of me thinks it’s not my stuff to process, not another thing I need to add to my bag of concerns (which, by the way, is getting heavier by the day). Part of me wants to leave it at “Thank you for being vulnerable with us” like it’s just another story. But I can’t.

First off, a story is hardly ever “just” a story. It is a glimpse into a person’s worldview, thinking and character, an invitation to enter into their reality and even be a part of it. Just as important, my friend wasn’t just being vulnerable with us, the people who’ve known him for less than a year. He had been vulnerable with his parents, the people who’ve known him his whole life yet did not know a big part of it until today, 23 years later. Not only that, but he had to tell them something he knew they wouldn’t approve, let alone support.

One thing that makes life both interesting and painful is the fact one’s experiences are never too far off from another’s and yet are never quite the same, leaving one to dangle between solidarity and solitude. We float back and forth between “I know exactly how you feel” to “No one understands me”, all the while thinking, “Why me!” Amidst the chaos, another voice suggests — no — commands:Bear one another’s burdens.“*

It is the call to shake the need for comprehension and embrace the one in need. It is the call to listen to the person, not just the issue or even the heart of the issue. While I can’t fully understand the significance of coming out, I can relate to the anxiety of confronting my parents. I can’t relate to the experience of hiding my sexual orientation, but I have felt confusion, guilt and freedom, all at the same time, in keeping a relationship secret from my parents. Acknowledging what does or doesn’t resonate with me helps me be a better listener and supporter of my friend. But there must be more: empathy must lead to action.

I care about my friend. And so I’m staying up late to write this — willingly, of course. But I can’t bear it alone, just as he cannot. A 50-pound suitcase doesn’t get any lighter when passed from one person to another; unless the other person is a body builder, lifting the suitcase up the stairs will still be strenuous activity. But if the two people take different ends of the suitcase and walk up the stairs together, the task will be easier and probably more bearable than if either person had done it individually. In the same way the biblical command to carry one another’s burdens is not license to dump one’s issues onto another person or to soak up everyone else’s problems. Rather it reminds us of the communal essence of the Gospel. It asks me to make room in my bag of concerns. The call to bear each other’s burdens is relief for our fragility and permission for our reality.

I recognize that my friend had a BIG conversation today. I trust him when he says he’s relieved, but  know he’ll continue to struggle as he works through his identity and hears varying responses from within the Church. I often don’t know what to say, but I learn the words to speak as I spend time with him.

We all must carry our own loads, but we don’t have to carry them alone.

* Galatian 6:2 NRSV

unlikely allies join to protest keystone

On the surface, what happened on Saturday at the nation’s capital was not extraordinary — just another rally for another cause to call the president to add another item to his to-do list. It may have been noteworthy to watch thousands of people from across the country march for climate action and then hold hands in a circle, or to see farmers and tribal leaders lead the crowd on horses, or to hear singer-songwriter Neil Young speak. Still, to a spectator, the Reject & Protect march could have been dismissed as another gathering for hippies and treehuggers or another picture for Instagram.

To overlook the significance of the march, however, would do injustice not only to the events of last week but also to the history surrounding them.

On Tuesday, April 22 (Earth Day), 24 farmers, ranchers, and leaders of indigenous communities rode to Washington, D.C. on horseback to launch the Reject & Protect campaign: a call to President Obama to reject the construction of the Keystone Pipeline (KXL) in order to protect the lands, waters, and communities located along the proposed pipeline.

The arrival of the Cowboy Indian Alliance inaugurated a week of ceremonies, film screenings, meetings, and other events promoting the anti-pipeline movement and climate action. United in their value of their land and legacy, this unlikely group of allies worked with environmentally conscious activists to convert the National Mall into a camp, setting up tipis and offering music and prayers from the Native American traditions. Other faith leaders, including Sojourners’ Rose Berger, added their prayers for justice and for the rejection of the pipeline.

“Many people see the pipeline as a political or an economic issue, but I see it as a moral issue,” said Brian Webb, member of evangelical group #PrayNoKXL. “The extraction and processing of the tar sands oil carried by the pipeline releases three times as much greenhouse gas emissions as more conventional petroleum sources. … Climate change is already having devastating impacts on millions of people around the world — and particularly on the poor. The Keystone pipeline will exacerbate these impacts by facilitating speedy delivery to the market of the world’s dirtiest, most destructive fossil fuel sources.”

Saturday’s festivities began with a water ceremony, as on the other days of the week, and the setup of a ceremonial tipi in the main tent for KXL protestors to add their thumbprint or handprint. Shortly after the rally began, Greg Grey Cloud from the Dakota Lakota Nations from Rosebud, S.D., led the crowd in prayer as water from the Ogallala Aquifer was presented. An essential water source spanning eight states, the Ogallala Aquifer runs along the proposed pipeline route and is at risk of heavy contamination from pipeline spills.

The rally included a variety of voices. Representatives from both indigenous communities in the U.S. and Canada and farming and ranching families in Nebraska reiterated the purpose of the movement: to reject the pipeline, to protect the land, the water, and the climate, and to ensure the health of the earth for the sake of future generations, even “the seventh generation.”

John Elwood of #PrayNoKXL emphasized the centrality of prayer to the anti-pipeline campaign. Speakers from various tribal nations called for their treaty rights to be honored, making it clear that the protest is against the pipeline as much as it is about mending the chain of promises continually broken by the U.S. government. The diversity of perspectives reflects the breadth of the potential impact of KXL.

“Even now in the 21st century, Indian treaties are being broken as land legally belonging to the Rosebud Sioux Nation is planning to be used for the Keystone pipeline despite Sioux Nation opposition,” Webb said. “Similarly, a foreign corporation is threatening to use eminent domain to obtain land belonging to Nebraska farmers for the pipeline — and with the governor’s support!”

The procession commenced at noon, starting at the Smithsonian Castle and winding down Independence Avenue to the National Museum of the American Indian, where a tipi was presented in honor of President Obama, before passing the Capitol and the Canadian Embassy to return to the mall. Bold Nebraska and 350.org joined the Cowboy Indian Alliance in organizing Saturday’s march.

Among the thousands of protestors was a group of people holding a sign that read: Evangelicals Pray-NO-KXL, “The earth is the Lord’s…” Psalm 24:1.

No doubt there were other Christians at the march, but having a visible evangelical presence, which included Sojourners staff members, made for a pleasant surprise for protestors who assumed evangelicals and climate action were mutually exclusive.

Sojourners has been working alongside other faith-based organizations to promote climate action. Having supported the creation of #PrayNoKXL, Sojourners invited some of its members to the office on Friday to share about their experiences in protesting the pipeline and to receive prayer for their work. Elwood visited the office, along with Brian Webb and Rev. Richard Cizik, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. Upon an invitation from Brian, the Cowboy Indian Alliance also sent representatives to join the conversation: Greg Grey Cloud, Kyle Horse Looking from the Lakota Nation from Rosebud, S.D., and Mike Blocher, a rancher from Antelope County, Neb. Sojourners followers joined the informal gathering via a conference call.

In her closing prayer Rose Berger proclaimed, “The pipeline will not stand. … The pipeline will not go through us.”

No matter how skewed one’s education in American history is, the significance of the Cowboy Indian Alliance cannot be overstated.

“This protest brought together the Cowboy Indian Alliance in one of the most compelling images of reconciliation our country has seen in many years: Native American tribes standing arm-in-arm with Western ranchers, the descendants of the very people who took their land,” Webb said.

The demonstration has ended, but the work continues. Join Reject & Protect, Sojourners and thousands of activists to stop KXL.

This piece was also published on Sojourners‘ God’s Politics blog.

this message is brought to you by macbook pro 13, early 2011 model, lion osx

THE LAST SIX months have been the most intense struggle with first-world problems I’ve ever waged in my life. Maybe it’s because I never took the time to wrestle with them before, or maybe it’s just Murphy’s Law in full force, but over the last 6 months of living on a modest stipend, I underwent the breakdown of two things that turned out to be crucial to the functioning of my life: my cell phone and my laptop. I think I get it now: electronics + liquid = game over. And also: things don’t last forever.

Adding to the drama, I’m still haunted by an earlier purchase I made somewhat on a whim:

my djembe from Cote d'Ivoire

my djembe from Cote d’Ivoire

I’d wanted to play a percussion instrument (besides piano) ever since 4th grade, when I looked longingly at the timpanis from my seat in the first violins section. With that rationale and a few hundred dollars in my bank account just waiting to be spent, I took the bus to a little music shop and walked out with a brand new drum swaying from my shoulders.

I decided to take my drum to the circle to make sure it was legit. I sat down beside a man who didn’t have a drum but did have dreads, so I decided he must have known what he was doing. I asked him to check out my new djembe; I was so proud of it. He played it for a few moments before turning to me: “May I?” He wanted to tune it. I watched in admiration as he tightened the cords on the drum, pausing periodically to fling his hair over his shoulders. I smiled smugly to myself for having the wit to go to the drum circle and meeting this djembe expert.

And then, just like that, the magic ended.

The drum he returned to me did not look like the one I had before. The drumhead was ripped. My djembe was no longer brand new and perfect. It was now torn and useless. Yet the enamored spirit in me could not be dejected, not yet. I entered that oh-so-familiar place of denial and amused myself with a dysfunctional drum for another 15 minutes or so.

I wouldn’t feel the weight of the incident until a week later, when I learned of the cost of the repair and realized that I’d been, in a word, screwed-over. Finally, after two months, the drum was fixed. I didn’t touch it for at least another week.

 

IT’S BEEN ALMOST 5 months since my djembe debacle, 4 months since my MacBook mishap and 3 months since my second cell phone snafu. I am ashamed to admit that it wasn’t until all of these things were fixed (paid for by my parents) that I felt fully functional again. Throughout these months, I heard the same question being asked of me over and over again: how do I measure the value of living? Am I free to flourish only when everything I own is in order? Do I dare to “live simply” only when the luxuries I deem necessities are working?

The insecurity I felt during those months and the way I let my worries rob me of joy – over technology, of all things! – have exposed an ugly truth: As much as I decry materialism and mass production, I still depend heavily upon the comforts and conveniences of a developed country – and I’m not just talking about smartphones and laptops. What about drinkable tap water, Trader Joe’s and personal space? These privileges are hard to let go of.

Deeper still is the desire for financial security. With each of my recent technological failures, I would think, “If only I had $1000 more, even $500…” It’s common to think that more money means less stress, because it’s often true; if it weren’t, why would we want income redistribution, fair wages and job creation? (I’m oversimplifying, of course.) Having the means to make ends meet allows a person to invest in other pursuits besides trying to make ends meet. But for me – single, fresh out of college and still dependent on my parents’ income – the question I faced was not how to provide for myself but rather how to secure myself.

Enjoyable and useful though they may be, material possessions will not last. They just won’t. It took hours to make that djembe and only one second to tear it. It took hundreds of parts to make that MacBook and only one cup of water to ruin it. When I die, I won’t be able to use or want to use any thing I own.

What will last are the intangibles: relationships, courage, the depth of character that forms when it’s rooted in hope. The intangibles not only sustain us in this life but also continue after us, in the lives we touch and the places we visit.

So what are we to do now, when we find ourselves at the crossroad between the economy of heaven and the economy of our world? For those of us in a position of privilege, I think a good place to start is gratitude. Give thanks for what we have. Give up what we think we need but is really just what we want. Share. And perhaps out of that gratitude will spring forth a steadfastness that endures no matter how many digits are in our bank account, no matter how many things we have to fix, no matter how may bills we have to pay, because it anchors itself in the Giver of all good things.

la salvaje pequeña

Small.

If my name had a synonym, that’d be it. At least if we’re going by the most-commonly-used word to describe me by both friends and strangers, Asians and non-Asians.

At five-one-and-three-quarters and just a little over 100 pounds, I will be the first to agree: I am small. No matter how much I eat or how little I exercise, I have still been able to get away with jeans and form-fitting dresses from high school. It’s great – but the problem is, it makes it all the easier to hide my struggles with food.

A few weeks ago, some of my fellow interns and I decided to celebrate “Fries”-day (Friday) with an Amazon Local deal for Z-Burger. $22 worth of food for just $11. It was an intern’s dream come true. It was also two days after Ash Wednesday.

After finishing my last fry, I texted a friend about how greasy my insides felt but how good the splurge was. He shared what he’d had for lunch, and despite my bursting stomach, I responded with “Ooh that sounds so yummy.” That’s when I realized I had a problem.

“The first step is acknowledgement.” That’s what they teach you when you’re trying to quit, isn’t it? But how am I supposed to quit eating? Food is at the heart of my culture’s expressions of community and hospitality, not to mention that it is my primary love language. Food is also a gift that many desire, and it would be ignoble of me to forego the privilege of eating solely for personal growth. How could I possibly choose to give up something so enjoyable and blessed and essential to life?

After that fateful Fries-day, I resolved to fast one meal per day for the rest of the Lenten season. And during that when I would otherwise be eating, I would refrain from working or running errands and would instead spend time in prayer, releasing burdens, lamenting the tragedies in our world and remembering the sacrifices that marked Jesus’s life and death.

The solution to gluttony, I discovered, is not not-eating. Taking on gluttony head-first, or rather stomach-first, does not mean cutting off my food supply and shunning my taste buds. Gluttony for me is not just the desire to consume tasty food in large quantities even when my hunger is satisfied. Gluttony is also a struggle of the mind and will. I constantly talk about food, look at other people’s food and take pictures of food. In college, I got through boring lectures by planning how to navigate the cafeteria to hit up my favorite food stations. The most classic example of my struggle with gluttony happens during communion, when I’m wondering how the bread is going to taste instead of “examining my heart” – and then I have to confess that on top of everything else. See, I’m even talking about food right now!

I am not waging war against food. Gluttony is only the manifestation of a deeper discontent. How often have I craved dinner more than good company or turned to chocolate in times of stress instead of the Bread of Life? I resonate with the Israelites in the wilderness when they complained about their hunger and tried to store up their manna, only to find them covered in maggots the very next day. Unlike the Israelites, though, I have never known enslavement or lost my home or come close to starvation; yet I am often more concerned about filling my stomach than filling my spirit. Both are important and not mutually exclusive, but more than decreasing my appetite’s control over my daily life, confronting gluttony means confessing my self-absorption and reordering my loves until Christ becomes my greatest pursuit.

For Lent this year, I initially decided to do a Carbon Fast to strengthen my commitment to environmental stewardship. The fast, sponsored by Interfaith Power and Light, included a calendar that suggested a different eco-friendly action each day. It’s a fantastic idea, but it required little effort from me because I already did many of these actions. If I were to give up anything for Lent, it needed to be a sacrifice. Fasting is sacrifice. It is giving up the principal distractions in daily life so as to create space for the Spirit to move.

Fasting from food frightens me, which is exactly why I know I need to do it. It tests my patience and lowers my energy. It shortens my temper, so that I give in more easily to insecurities and lies. It reminds me that I am a human. And as I accept the reality that I cannot transcend my humanity, I remember that Jesus was human as much as Jesus was divine. I am finding a lot of freedom in Jesus’ humanity, because as I confront my weakness in hunger, I am claiming God’s grace and sustaining power for every moment.

I began my Lenten discipline thinking I would somehow “master the art of fasting.” Truth is, fasting is nothing to be mastered. It is precisely the discomfort, the uncertainty, the sense of fragility, that propels me to press deeper into the presence of God and to lift up the cries of my brothers and sisters around the world facing hunger every day. It is the embodiment of Jesus’ prayer when he teaches us to ask, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

shut it down already (easier said than done)

Are you a journalist?

“No…”

“Oh, so you’re just a question-asker.”

I nodded somewhat sheepishly as the Witness Against Torture member walked away. Yet despite the sense of awkwardness it produced in me, his statement was one of the most succinct summaries of my personality; it was precisely my desire to know that propelled me towards Saturday’s “Make Guantanamo History” rally marking the 12th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo prison camp. (Yeah, that’s me photobombing. Oops.)

I didn’t plan to be there. I learned of the protest less than 24 hours before it began, and I wasn’t even sure what Guantanamo was until the evening before, when I watched the documentary Doctors of the Dark Side. Simple in cinematography, the film focuses on the application of medicine and psychology in “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a fancy synonym for torture. As I absorbed the images and words from the film, I was inundated with deep sorrow and bewilderment – a sinking sensation in my spirit at the gross distortion of the Imago Dei.

What drives an ordinary person to willingly inflict torture upon a fellow human being? What justifies the use of psychological and psychiatric expertise to not heal but to break?

In my short existence of twenty-odd years, I’ve never encountered a social justice issue that seemed as black-and-white as torture. To me, the extraction of information is not compelling enough of a reason for inflicting physical and psychological damage upon an individual, no matter how “guilty” he or she may be for a crime. But seeing as few things in life are clear cut, I need to unpack this a little further.

For one, I am seeing only patches of the big picture. I do not know the coherent story behind the establishment and maintenance of Guantanamo. Indeed, when I bombarded another Witness Against Torture member with questions that perhaps had too much angst for small talk (i.e. “WHY IS GUANTANAMO STILL OPEN IF IT’S CLEARLY INEFFECTIVE AND DEHUMANIZING?”), he shrugged and said, “There are political forces that prevent the President from shutting it down.”

I wanted to slap him.

But the man has a point. Any given issue – be it torture, mass incarceration, academic tracking – is tangled up in the interests of multiple stakeholders: politicians, private firms, homeowners, etc. The web of competing interests sways towards the ones that hold more weight (in other words, power). Surely there are political and economic forces beyond my comprehension that support the status quo and block progress. The President should not be the object of blame.

In the passionate spirit of the rally, I tweeted at the President: “you CAN do more #closegitmo”. Almost immediately afterwards, I wish I hadn’t. What I didn’t know was that on December 26, while I was still recovering from food coma from Christmas, President Obama was busy signing the 2014 Defense Authorization Act, and he said, “I have repeatedly called upon the Congress to work with my Administration to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” (emphasis mine). He emphasized the need to bring the prosecution of the detainees under the authority of the executive branch and to try them in domestic courts.

So, if even the leader of the world’s most powerful state can’t shut down Guantanamo, what is holding him back? I’m sure political scientists can give much better answers than I, so I will briefly consider some opinions I’ve gathered.

One thing that’s keeping Guantanamo open is an inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to accept the definition of torture. Take force-feeding as an example. Opponents against Guantanamo consider force-feeding a form of torture as it not only inflicts physical pain but also usurps the autonomy of the individual. Descriptions of and reasons for force-feeding at Guantanamo seem to violate international law’s stance on torture as “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.”

Yet in a Washington Post column from July 2013, Marc Thiesen wrote that force-feeding at Guantanamo is not torture but is merely “common procedure used thousands of times a day by doctors and nurses in hospitals across the United States.” He also stated that “many of the detainees refusing food at Guantanamo are not doing so voluntarily but are under pressure from terrorist leaders inside the camp” and that “force-feeding prevents forced suicide.”

Mr. Thiesen’s words may be true to a certain extent, but they address the issue of torture only at the surface. We need to venture deeper into Guantanamo, for force-feeding is but one manifestation of the horrors of Guantanamo: it is a response to a mass hunger strike by inmates, who were protesting the prison’s substandard living conditions and arbitrary confinement of hundreds of men, which were perpetuated by doctors and other people supposedly working for the common good, which has been jeopardized for the sake of the security and well-being of the United States of America.

The atrocities at Guantanamo are public knowledge, so it’s not public scorn or an immediate threat of delegitimization that’s holding back the U.S. government. Rather, it is in part an issue of power and privilege: the combined military, political and economic leverage of the U.S. empowers it to determine its own terms of conduct. Understandably, the U.S. initially sought out terrorists in response to 9/11 for the sake of its security. The lives and assets of American families were deeply affected, and the government would’ve lost legitimacy in the world if it hadn’t reacted aggressively.

But that was 12 years ago.

And as the years passed and more and more people learned of the injustices at Guantanamo, the prison remained open. Because American lives have been deemed more worthy than Yemeni lives or Afghani lives or Pakistani lives. Because the life of an American citizen is counted more important than the life of Shaker Aamer, a Saudi Arabian man who is a British resident and was never tried for a crime. Shaker Aamer is just one of over 70 men held under indefinite detention at Guantanamo. Because of the U.S.’s power and privilege in the world, it gets to protect national security even if it means violating international law, and it gets to violate international law without penalty at the expense of justice.

To be honest, I don’t know where to go from here, and this isn’t even 10% of the iceberg. All I want are answers, but all I’ve got are questions.

So I lift up these prophetic words of hope that were proclaimed at the rally:

SOMEWHERE, there is justice.

But it’s not where Shaker Aamer cannot be a father. It can’t survive force-feeding. And yet it is born rebellious, in every breath the detainees are breathing.

And so we stand here believing that somewhere, justice serenades the sky.

There is a sacred space where all human rights are respected, and we acknowledge that all life is connected, that all life is sacred, and it cannot be strapped down, and justice can’t be taken.

If your fist tightens, if your heart is breaking, it’s because justice might be hooded.

Well, one day, it will awaken.

– adapted from a poem read at the Make Guantanamo History rally

quick update

Inline image 1
[view from my roof]
 
Six months out of college, I am happy to report: life is not boring. 😉 For one, I get to live with 9 brilliant housemates & co-interns (we get into all sorts of mischief, the most recent & notable being an impromptu frosting-flinging gig in the kitchen)! Here we are:
Inline image 3
Another thing I get to do is make mistakes that I didn’t really have the chance to make at Wheaton, particularly in the stewardship of time & finances. It’s rough, but I’m learning to take responsibility for my mistakes, to really ask the Lord for forgiveness and to be more human. After all, Jesus was as much a human as he was God, and he shows us how to be fully human by his very life, even as he was fully in relationship with Almighty God.

Finally, I’ve started tutoring at the neighborhood elementary school! My reading buddy is in 4th grade and likes to learn. He’s got good handwriting, too, which he is quite proud of. This opportunity is a direct answer to prayer: during my first month here, I specifically asked the Lord to let me tutor at the school, not knowing what opportunities they offered. Last month I randomly learned about their tutoring program to help students reach their reading level, and now I get to do two of my favorite things every weekend: read AND hang out with kids from the neighborhood!

If you’ve made it this far, in our age of short attention spans, I humbly extend my hand toward you for a high five!

And now, onto the special news…
DC really is a place for energetic 20-somethings with tons of ambition and the confidence to match it. A vibrant city for nerds.
So I am excited to tell you that I am officially dating… NO ONE! ^^

Okay, okay, the ACTUAL special news:

1. I am spending the year as an intern with Sojourners, a faith-rooted organization that works for social justice through political advocacy, print & digital media and mobilizing. Check us out!

2. I want to share with you a cool website as you start shopping for loved ones (and yourself) this Christmas: Sojourners’ Just Giving Guide! If you’re like me, feeling cynical about the consumerism surrounding Christmas BUT still wanting to partake in the tradition of gift-giving, then this catalog will give you some good ideas! They are pretty legit. Each organization promotes social justice in its own way, from offering fair trade chocolate & coffee to selling jewelry made by women liberated from exploitation. You don’t even have to purchase products, as some organizations give options to provide clean water or to buy a goat that may increase economic mobility for families.

3. If you feel neither cynical nor moved to give gifts to loved ones, then maybe you’d like to simply see what I’ve been up to the last month as the advertising assistant, working hard alongside the marketing team & other staff to put the guide together!

4. Check out the Just Giving Guide. Enjoy & spread the love. 🙂