Chicken… Really???

What was I thinking?  I don’t know… maybe I wasn’t… I admit it… I get crazy ideas every now and then, and then I just go for it!  Once when I was in 5th grade, I decided around 10:30 pm that my room arrangement was all wrong.  On a school night, I decided to move all the furniture around in my room all by myself!  I was up ’til about 4:30 am… and my grandmother walked into a brand new room the next morning at 5:30 am.  Yup, she thought I was nuts!

I admit it… I’m scared to limit my food intake to seven items for the next month.  And those who know me probably would have thought I would pick crab, sushi, beef jerky, coffee, diet coke, noodles, and smarties!  Yup, I could probably do really well on these 7 things for 4 weeks!  But obviously, this journey isn’t about indulging in things i love.  It’s not about sacrificing everything I have either.  If you look at my list, I still have the potential to eat fairly well, and be full every meal. I’m just simplifying my life (which is what I’ve actually been trying to do for the past year–just never thought to do it this way).  As Jen Hatmaker says in the book, “7 will be an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God’s kingdom to break through.”  It’s a personal challenge, and seeing what God will do during my next 7 months of this journey.

I admit it…  this morning, my first thought was–why did i choose chicken???  I don’t even like chicken that much?  Why didn’t I choose spinach over lettuce so I could have it raw or sautéed?  You can’t sauté lettuce???  What was I thinking?  I retraced my steps of logical reasoning in choosing these items last night.  When I first started thinking about my seven food choices, I thought about Feed My Starving Children, an organization that I had volunteered with on few occasions.  They package food for those near death of starvation… and their food package includes powder form of chicken and soy, dehydrated veggies, and rice.  I knew that’s what I needed to get my balanced nutrients… so I decided to put down chicken, rice, and tofu.  And to be honest, of all meat choices, chicken really is my least favorite–but it’s probably the most consumed meat in third world countries (that’s my guess, I have no proof-so don’t quote me on that!) so that also helped me feel comfortable choosing chicken.  And the next three items, lettuce, zucchini, and avocado are just because I recently went to the market and bought a bunch of these items… and I didn’t want them to go to waste since I have to start this journey in a day!  So I really didn’t think that through all that much… but I realized that I probably needed fruit of some kind… and grapes are the easiest to wash and go… so grapes!

I admit it… I thought about changing the items today… before I start tomorrow!  But as I sat with my list… I decided that commitment is a commitment!  So as I indulge in my homemade pasta with grape tomatoes, mozzarella, & basil right now,  I’m excited for what God will teach me during this time… and while this might feel a bit devastating for someone who really loves the taste of different foods on my palate, let’s put things into perspective–i’m not starving myself… and few would kill to just have seven items to eat!

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I’m in top 1% of wealth in the world…

I may never be in the top 1% of wealth in America… I drive by super nice homes in Beverly Hills, which is only 10 minutes away from where I live, and think “I will never experience their house or lifestyle… I will never drive those luxury cars… I will never carry purses they have (I love purses)…”  And then I snap out of it…

I’ve been to Bolivia, the poorest South American country, and talked with a woman who chewed on coca leaves to lessen her hunger pains while feeding her three young children.  I’ve been to townships in South Africa, and witnessed people burning tires for warmth and children who lined up outside the gates of a local community center for their one and only daily meal.  I’ve interacted with 800 children in slums of Dominican Republic who came to see the Americans who would give them candy and juice.  I’ve seen, touched, and hugged over thousand children who live in poverty.  Every time, I feel incredibly blessed for what I have… and somewhat helpless in terms of what I can do to help eradicate extreme poverty around the world.  I try to do my part–I’ve donated money, I’ve tried to raise awareness, I wear and gift TOMS shoes, I support kids through Compassion… but it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough…

and yet… when I’m in the comforts of my Los Angeles life, I want more and more and more… I want a specific purse that I saw online so bad that I can’t think about other things until I have it (I do have a sin-purse story, which I shall share in a later blog).  I want mouth-watering, melts-in-your-mouth sushi that mounts to more than what I make in a day.  I want to try every new restaurant that opens up in this cool, hip, foodie city of LA.  I want a bunch of new apps for my iPhone and iPad.  I want more and more and more… and I’m convinced that I’m super poor because I don’t live in a nice condo, townhouse, or a house in a rich neighborhood.

I’ve been following Live58 for close to a year now… I read “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Stern this year… and just 3 weeks ago, I met a woman from Wisconsin (I think) who was on her first month of “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.”  I was intrigued… and I couldn’t stop thinking about the concept of the book.  So I finally bought the book and started reading it this week… and just as I was reading the intro, I just started crying.  The tears were streaming down not because of all the poor kids around the world… but because I realized that my heart was filled with so much greed and envy… and I always saw myself as poor–not rich.  I remember taking a survey on how rich I was compared to the world few years back, and when it told me that I was in top 2% of world’s wealth, I dismissed it–telling myself that I was still poor in the US.  But the truth is, I’m still rich in the US.  I have never experienced extreme hunger.  I have never experienced lack of shelter or clothes.  I may still live in debt (that’s another story), but I am still richly blessed with everything I need and some things I want.

Because I have an obsessive-compulsive personality at times, on a spur of the moment, I decided to take the 7 challenge!  Jen talks about having a Council in her book… but I personally felt compelled to not think about it too much… but just to do it, and invite people along the way as I go through my journey.  I’m not personally super legalistic on what I can do and can’t do, so I’m not 100% sure how this will play out… For instance, I get invited to people’s houses for dinner every  now and then for ministry purposes–I wouldn’t impose my 7 things to eat on them, nor would I reject the food they serve me.  However, I plan to do my best to stick to the 7 foods as much as I can.

So, if some of you are following along, and want to taste a little bit of what I’m doing… here it is:

For the month of June, I will pick seven foods to eat.  This is a huge challenge as I LOVE food… okay, that’s an understatement… MY LOVE LANGUAGE IS FOOD!!!  So I’m probably starting out with the hardest one… but here it goes! And just to put it out there for those who are willing to keep me accountable, here are my seven foods:

  • Chicken
  • Rice
  • Tofu
  • Lettuce
  • Avocados
  • Zucchini
  • Grapes

and just as the author was allowed to use salt, pepper, & olive oil… I will allow similar cooking oils, condiments, and herbs.

So here it goes…  and I will document every now and then about how it’s going!

missing opportunities…

Back in November 2011, I was so sure that I would be spending this exact week in Costa Rica with Lifetree Adventures / Operation Kid-2-Kid and VIVA Network loving, hugging, playing, and sharing God’s love with hundreds of children.  So much has changed in the last four months.  I’m back in a local church.  My weeks are filled with meetings, meetings, and more meetings.  We’re talking building plans, ministry programming, budget, logistics of day-to-day ministry stuff… and all I want to do right now is to be in Costa Rica with my friends and seeing God at work outside of my comfort zone.

I truly struggle with spending so much time and energy on all the logistics of getting ready to do ministry in the states, when I can be using that time and energy on actually  meetings the needs of people in tangible ways with less red tape, bureaucracy, and long process.  Don’t get me wrong… I think it’s important to have process just because that’s the way everything works in the states… but I can’t help but to think if that’s what I’m suppose to be doing here.  I have to trust in God’s sovereign plan, and believe that He has me exactly where I am for a reason.  But it’s hard for me to know that I’m missing out on some great opportunities.  I believe in seizing every opportunity, and obviously when I’m committed to a local church, I can’t do it all (no matter how hard I try…)  so that’s my brain vomit for tonight… It’s really hard knowing that I’m missing opportunities… and this won’t be the last, but only the beginning.

With that, I’m just staring at some of my favorite photos from my last Operation Kid-2-Kid trip with Lifetree Adventures.

South Africa on my mind…

This past month has been pretty nutty!  What began as a casual conversation many months ago is now slowly taking shape.. and to be honest, I’m kind of freaking out!  There will be a lot of opportunities and challenges in 2012… and that’s a good thing since I’ve kind of bummed around this whole past year and took odds and ends projects here and there.  Well, the last few weeks, all I’ve been thinking about is South Africa.  To make long story short, I connected with a missionary (John & WanYi Yip) when I was in South Africa back in 2009… we’ve kept in touch as I’ve really wanted to learn more and more about his ministry.  At one point this year, I even considered moving to South Africa for 6 months to live life with Ubabalo Ministry so I can learn first-hand, and join the ministry.  I kept asking God to send me, and to make a way financially… however there wasn’t a firm conviction from God… but in the meantime, I kept in touch with John and WanYi, and we kept up our conversation regarding many different projects developing.  Well, one of the projects is to write/edit curriculum that could be translated into different languages to be used in Life Coaching in many countries.  This is a 5-year strategy, and when it’s all said and done, their prayer is to reach 20 million children and youth with the gospel… This still blows my mind!  I’m just so thankful and honored to be part of this project…  I’m also scared to death.  This is more scary than jumping out of a plane (which I have done…).  I have exactly one month before I leave for South Africa… I still have a lot to do here as I’ve taken on other projects that needs to be completed before I leave… but South Africa is all that is on my mind right now…

I’ve uploaded some photos from my last trip to South Africa for your and my enjoyment… and I’ve also uploaded my support letter in case the readers are more interested in finding out more about what I’ll be doing!

Ubabalo-Gloria’s South Africa Letter

Kayamandi's Kuyasa Center: ready to play ball...

playing soccer

Kayamandi's Kuyasa Center: Feeding Scheme to feed 200+ kids each day!

the winning soccer team... but the kids did all the work!

Table Mountain View

yup... tons of penguins in South Africa!

from our safari...

the joy of receiving

As Christians, we’re taught to give and serve… and I believe with all my heart that God blesses us so that we can bless others.  I’ve often been a recipient of many people’s generosity.  In fact, I’ve blogged in the past about not living a life of being indebted but graciously accepting people’s generosity.  Well, when you’re on a service/missions trip, it’s hard to receive because you go with the mentality of giving and serving the less fortunate.  Two weeks ago, a team of 29 Americans went to the Dominican Republic to serve the children of Compassion International projects.  We went with the mission of sharing the love of Jesus with the kids… and to pass out 2,000 Operation Kid-2-Kid backpacks and bookmarks decorated by children all over the US and Canada along with Nuevo Testamento en español.  We visited total of eight projects over four days.  With each project we visited, we were greeted with a special program they had prepared for us.  We were told that they rarely get a huge number of visitors all at once, and it’s a big treat for them.  The special programs usually consisted of songs, body worship (is this just a Korean-American term?  if it is, it’s dance to praise worship.  see below), drama, and one project even gifted us souvenirs to remember DR by.  At each project, we felt that we were given the special treat and blessings!  We shared many hugs, photos, conversations in broken Spanish, and laughs!

This is my fourth OK2K trip, and each one has taken a huge piece of my heart!  It just never gets old… Well, as I started to think about how blessed we were by the special treatment we got from these children and projects, there was a tinge of guilt… wait, we came to give and serve, but we feel like we’re being given and served so much more!!!  What is wrong with this picture?  Well, what IS wrong is that by feeling guilty, I was robbing the joy of the project leaders and kids who had prepared so hard to share their expression of worship and gratitude.

I love finding the prefect gifts for the people in my life… but if they don’t receive it with joy, then my feelings are hurt.  In the same way, I realized that there is so much joy and blessing in giving/serving out of generosity… and when the recipient doesn’t receive this gift with joy, that giver is robbed of their joy.  The kids at the projects couldn’t bless us with material things, but they gave us their hearts and shared the love of Christ with us… the greatest gift!

I think pride gets in the way of receiving with joy… We talk about how we need to give and serve… and don’t get me wrong.. I think we can all do better in that area.  However, we rarely talk about receiving with joy and allowing others to experience the joy of serving!  On a related note, I think we also lack in receiving God’s grace with joy… but I realize that this topic is for another blog.  Soooo… this is one of my big lessons from my trip to the Dominican Republic.  There are a lot more… and those blogs will follow (trust me!)

Coincidentally (actually it’s God’s timing… total God Sighting!), my devotional on the day I left the DR spoke right into my heart:

Feelings of false guilt creep in, telling them they don’t deserve to be so richly blessed.  This is nonsense-thinking because no one deserves anything from Me.  My Kingdom is not about earning and deserving; it’s about believing and receiving.  When a child of Mine balks at accepting My gifts, I am deeply grieved.  When you receive My abundant blessings with a grateful heart, I rejoice.

I may not have a lot of money but I consider myself one of the richest and blessed person in the world!  Gracias a Dios!