Getting Over Myself

I used to joke with people all the time that I dreamed of becoming the next Oprah.

I would say that it made sense because when she retired, we’d just remove the O-P-R-A-H from her studio sign, and replace it with a V-I-M-B-O. We both have 5 letters in our name. We’re both talkative, people loving, sanguine-choleric personalities. It just made sense.

(Wait, who am I kidding…that still crosses my mind from time to time).

I mean, honestly, all of us have thought about our legacy. How will the world remember us?

And from time to time, you’ve probably thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to do something SO big that no one could ever forget me?”

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This past weekend, God reminded me in some subtle (and not so subtle) ways that becoming great is not the point. Really, I am but bones and flesh and blood and dust. I am nothing. He is everything. And that this dream he has given me is so much bigger than any one person. It’s all about Him.

God spoke to me through two things: a concert, and a holiday.


I ended up going to a concert on Sunday that I didn’t even buy tickets for! Through God’s providence (and some amazing friends), after the tickets for the concert were sold out, I got not just one, but TWO tickets to the Israel & New Breed concert.

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Long story short, it was such a BLESSING. My family has DVD of a performance in South Africa from a few years ago, and it has brought us much joy many Friday evenings as we praised God for the Sabbath. The live concert this Sunday was an even more beautiful evening of music and unrestrained worship.So both I and my father were able to see Israel & New Breed live. (If you haven’t heard of them, stop reading this and watch this YouTube video. He did this song live on Sunday).

Toward the end of the concert, Israel made an appeal for us (the audience) to sponsor a child for less than $1/day through World Vision.

Major things I learned/was reminded of through the concert, and his appeal:

1. Little is much when God is in it. $1 a day literally changes the lives of the children that it goes to.

2. It you’re only excited to do God’s work when a million people are watching, there’s a problem.

3. Getting to where God wants you to be isn’t at all glamorous. Sometimes you’re going to have to sing the song that God has given you to the kitchen utensils before you can do it for millions of people. But if God’s put the dream in your heart, He’ll see it through.

All of this from a Grammy Award winning artist, who probably would rather just be known as a humble servant of God.

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Secondly, Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Of all the people to learn humility from, he’s high on the list. We now have a statue to honor him in Washington DC, but if you see the quote below, I doubt he would’ve wanted that…

There are a million things I could say about MLK, but I think what I learned can be summed up in this quote from his speech, “The Drum Major Instinct”:

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes)

I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen)

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes)

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes)

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord)

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that’s all I want to say.

If I can help somebody as I pass along,

If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,

If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong,

Then my living will not be in vain.

If I can do my duty as a Christian ought,

If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought,

If I can spread the message as the master taught,

Then my living will not be in vain.

Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, (Yes) not for any selfish reason. I want to be on your right or your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition. But I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world.

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Her Radical Decision Changed My Life. For The Better. Forever.

Today, after I left my elementary school for the day, I drove over to a little office in the “downtown” of my hometown.

I met a phenomenal women. A women I had never met before, yet she welcomed me so warmly into the home (that had been converted into an office for REACH years ago).

40 years ago, Mama Jasmine quit her job and founded REACH (Render Effective Aid to Children). This amazing organization seeks to “give a child a chance” by “helping poor children in the developing countries of the world”. They work in over 23 countries around the world, building schools, orphanages, and churches, and helping people. Children.

Ok. Enough with the “official” information. You can read about that on their website.

The conversation I had with this God-fearing women left me in awe of God’s power.

This women, a stranger to me before today, just started freely chatting with me about why she started REACH, what current projects they are working on, and the work they are doing in Zimbabwe. I went to meet with her to get inspired, to discover how she got started, and to find her magical key to success. I came with all these complicated questions, and she gave me simple answers.

Her story? She heard a sermon, quit her job, and started REACH. (This is woman with a PhD and a successful career.)

Her key to success? God is the CEO. God is always the CEO.

Her biggest piece of advice? Stop thinking about how “good this will make me look” or about myself at all. It’s all about God.

Speaking with her today, I was awestruck by story after miraculous story she told me about different times that God has provided for the organization, run almost entirely of volunteers, including herself (she volunteers…I know, amazing stuff!). When she heard me asking all these logistical questions about running a non-profit, she stopped me in my tracks and interrupted and said, “It’s all for God. God called you to it. He will provide. It’s His organization anyway!”.

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Because she said yes to God’s call 40 years ago, I was able to go on a mission trip in 2007 through REACH and FLAG Camp. I didn’t know Jasmine at the time, nor was I really focused on doing any long-term mission work in my life. I was 16, what did I know? All I knew is that I got leave the cold snow to spend 10 days in Honduras, with a team of about 20 other young people, running a weeklong day-camp at the school/orphanage/church that REACH runs down there.

Now, looking back, I can clearly see how that trip was one of the catalysts for this whole dream God has given me now.

Her decision to say yes and follow God’s call in her life changed my life.

And I hadn’t even met her.

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Where Dreams Go To Die (and why mine is still on life support)…

You want to know where dreams go to die?

Monday. And the day after that. And the day after that. The “everyday grind” is exactly where dreams go to die. Why? Because almost every one of us have moments of time (even days, or weeks if your lucky) when we feel very inspired. We feel like we can do anything, be anything, achieve anything. We can make a difference. And we can make the world suck a little less by helping others.

Then, we get sucked into the overwhelming responsibilities of everyday life.

So, that is exactly what (almost) happened to my dream. Last summer I was sitting on my living room couch, talking to my parents about this phenomenal idea that I had just thought of. My dream was to build a school in Zimbabwe. At least one. Just one. Build one school, then I could die happy.

Yeah, I was in that honeymoon phase of dreaming. Everything was exciting. I was ambitious. I created this blog. I posted it on my Facebook timeline. Over 70 people viewed it. And then…nothing.

To my defense, I’ve been in school full-time since last June. This is my final year of college as an elementary education major, and I’ve been grinding away! In fact, I just began my final semester, student teaching.

Which brings us to now. Now what? 

This Christmas break, I spent a lot of time catching up with many of my friends via phone calls, Skype, and even going out to eat a few times. Undoubtedly, all of us 20-somethings were discussing what was coming next in our lives. I have an awesome friend who is an author and speaker. I have another friend currently living and studying in Lebanon. I have yet another friend who just spent some time in D.C. interning at a law firm. Many of my friends are workingtoward meaningful goals and jobs and vocations.

And myself? I had gotten to the place where I was complacent. I’m graduating this spring, and I’ve already been asked by any and everyone I know, “What are you doing after you’re done?”. I was considering teaching abroad to make some money and start my career. Or maybe staying here and beginning my career in teaching. Now, none of these options in and of themselves is wrong. What is wrong is selling yourself short when you know God has called you to something else.

Today, I re-decided that I really want to do this. I still want to go build schools in Zimbabwe.

Not 1. Not 36. But a 1,000. I may be 80 by the time I’m done, but (God-willing), it’ll get done.

Why? Because this dream actually makes me feel alive. Terrified. Hopeful. Passionate.

I’m all in. But. It will begin with me revisiting my original plan (see above blog post). Which is why, though I’ve “fallen off the wagon” once already, I want to try this…again. Posting a couple times a week, and keeping you all updated on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This dream is not dead. But it is on life support! I’d appreciate your prayers as I continue to ask God to lead.