Friday, January 10, 2014

Couch Potato Social Justice

I remember when "Kony 2012" came out.  My Facebook "feed" was blowing up with messages and postings of "Kony 2012."  Everyone was jumping on the bandwagon.  I had friends buying wrist bracelets.
For those that don't know or don't remember "Kony 2012" was a video created and marketed by the organization Invisible Children. Taken from their website verbatim this is what Invisible Children is all about.

From: invisiblechildren.com (Free feel to visit the website and learn more about the work they are doing)

STORY

Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army have been abducting, killing, and displacing civilians in East and central Africa since 1987. We first encountered these atrocities in northern Uganda in 2003 when we met a boy named Jacob who feared for his life and a woman named Jolly who had a vision for a better future. Together, we promised Jacob that we would do whatever we could to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA. Invisible Children was founded in 2004 to fulfill that promise.

MODEL

Invisible Children focuses exclusively on the LRA conflict through an integrated four-part model that addresses the problem in its entirety: immediate needs and long-term effects.
 I heard about Invisible Children probably around 2006.  I believe they are doing great work.  I support their work.When Kony 2012 came out everyone I knew was talking about it.  It was all over the news and people were pumped about this new campaign.  I was happy that people were pumped by it but disappointed by what I saw. 
Couch Potato Social Justice or as my Professor calls its, "trickle down social justice." 
Its a way for people to think they are making a difference by clicking a button and buying a wrist bracelet.  It is a way for young adults such as myself to feel important and necessary in the fight against social injustice by watching a five-minute video and check their "good deed" off for the year.  
I remember what I said to my fiance when Kony 2012 went viral.  I said to him, "In six months, no one will remember, no one will be talking about this and they won't catch Joseph Kony because this isn't the way to do it." 
Now I don't know how to catch Joseph Kony but I know its not going to be through a video asking people to help join the cause by sharing this video on their choice of social media. 
Its 2014.  Have you caught him?  Are people still talking about Kony 2012?  No. Unfortunately no. But from this video maybe a few people joined in the actual effort, left their jobs and starting working for invisible children.  From this video more children were rescued and maybe awareness was heighten for a brief second.  
My problem with couch potato social justice is that it allows people to dabble in the fight against social injustice while continuing to indulge their lives in the very things that cause social injustice.  We say we want to fight for better wages and yet you continue to eat/shop/spend in places where people aren't getting a fair wage.  You say you want to help the poor and needy but you walk past the homeless man and you don't even dare to invite this man for a bite to eat to get to know him, hear his story and find out the best way to help him. You say you want to stop human trafficking yet you eat chocolate that was harvested by victims of human trafficking on the ivory coast. 
What is your couch potato social justice doing other than making you look like a "good person." In the end its about you.  Whats socially just about that?
I am far from the shining example of someone walking the path of social justice but I know this much....
The answer to social injustice: Love Jesus, love yourself, love your neighbor.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I love my life!

I LOVE MY LIFE.  I hope you don't think that I'm rubbing it in your face but lately I have been filled with so much joy in my life that I can barely stand it.  Now you have to understand a few things about me.  Some that you won't like and some where you might feel sorry for me.

I grew up in Bakersfield, CA and my mom stayed at home to take of the kids while my dad worked.  My dad is a doctor.  Yes he made lots of money and yes we never really worried so much about money.  Although I will argue that my dad worried about money often and constantly taught us to save our money.  One of his favorite phrases, "A penny is money too."   My parents never showed off their wealth and to be honest, up until I left for college I thought that we always had money problems.  The way my parents argued and the way they constantly told us we didn't have money, we couldn't afford that new toy and don't waste anything.
I actually remember this one time when I was probably six or seven years old and my dad sat us all down to talk about our monthly allowance.  He went through math equations, graphs, and statistics to show us how much tax we had to pay on our monthly allowance.  My sister and I ended up getting about $2.50 a month after taxes.  I remember staring at my dad, extremely confused and afraid of math.

I always went to church and my parents were pretty good about getting us to youth groups and bible studies.  While we didn't have much of a life outside of constant studying, tutors, and music classes we did have a church life.
My parents believed in discipline.  But the kind where you take a stick and beat the kid for bringing home a report card with a B on it.   So to say the least, I was always afraid of my parents.  We were always hit at home and even my older siblings would compare punishment with my twin and me.   Apparently they got the worse type of spanking/beating/hitting/whipping whatever you want to call it but I never believed them because how much worse could it be?  I'm not angry at my parents for this.  As a child I was sad and had an unhealthy comprehension of love but now that I am older I know that my parents only did what their parents did.  How many people are ready to be parents when the time comes?  No one can know for sure the best way to raise a kid and I can't fault my parents for their mistakes.  

With that being said I always believed in God.  God was safe and loving.  He was never angry at me for my bad grades and loved me even was I did something bad, as long as I confessed it to him.    God was very real to me and his love was very real to me.  But I still didn't understand love.  I know God's love.  But human love was corrupt in a way.  When I arrived at college, love was even more corrupt.  I did things I am not proud of...things have happened to me that should never happen to anyone.  And I made decisions that I have to live with for the rest of my life.  I would never ever wish them on anyone.  I chose the crappy way, the bad way, the coward's way out.  These things ruined my life for a good part of four years.  I went to counseling to work it out and I became closer to people who helped me through it by displaying God's love.  It was a terrible dark hole so believe me when I say I know what its like to be on the other side.  Joy didn't exist.  Love was corrupted.  And my values, ideals, and morals were even more tainted. I think my biggest down fall and stumbling block was my incorrect view of love.  I completely destroyed the true definition of love and replaced it with something superficial and terrible.

The reason why I can say I love my life now is because the "love" that caused so many problems for me in the past (because it wasn't biblical love), now only creates joy and life (because its biblical).  Since I started living in Taiwan and serving God I understand more and more what Jesus was talking about when he asked Peter if he loved Jesus.   I understand more what John 3:16 is about.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.   It hasn't always been easy but walking around, sharing the gospel, and loving God's people brings me so much joy.   I don't even get paid to do it and it brings me more joy than any job I've ever had.  And I have had some amazing jobs.  Working for International Justice Mission is pretty high on the list.   Knowing that I get to wake up every morning to pray and sing songs of worship to God as I prepare to do His work brings a smile to my face.  There isn't a day that's gone by where I don't think to myself, "Man, I love my life."  I also don't want you to think that all I do is walk around and talk to people.  I do teach to make an income. I am a tent maker if you will.  My first job is to spread the gospel, to be in mission but a girls gotta eat.

It's the best life ever, when we walk the path that God has prepared for us.  Nothing but love. God's love.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Her name is Whitney

I have been working at a Taiwanese at-risk youth center for almost two years now.  I love working with these kids not because I think that I am changing their lives but because all of them don't act as if their lives are terrible.  They don't play the pity card.

I teach these kids English and they work hard.  Well most of them do.  Some of them have given up on learning the language and attend the class because all their friends are in the class.  I have gotten to know each of them and if you only just met them in school you would think they were just regular kids.

They are regular kids.  They listen to hip-hop, they dance, the scream, they trash-talk, they love their friendships and they love McDonalds.  But some of them shoulder more responsibility than some 30 year olds I know.  Some have had to deal with things far beyond their emotional capacity and yet they manage.   I love these kids and as some have come and gone and new kids have showed up seemingly out of the blue, I dread the day that will be my last with many of them.

There is one new girl.  Her name is Whitney.  She looks no bigger than a six year old but she is actually eight.  She carries this enormous backpack and has a cell phone for emergencies.  She is new to my English class and to the center. She is shy and quiet, but smart and quick.    Her English ability is better than half of my class and yet she constantly demeans herself and lacks any self-confidence.

Since we started the new semester two weeks ago, I have been walking her half-way home.   I enjoy this time with her.  I get to know her outside of the classroom and I also get to make sure she gets home safe, at least part of the way.

I found out she has a little sister that is five years old that stays at home.   When I asked her who watches her little sister, she didn't have an answer.  She doesn't know what kind of work her parents do and she never knows when they come home or leave the house.  She goes to school by herself, goes to the youth center when its open after school, and then takes the public bus to as close as home as possible and walks the rest of the way.

 The center closes at 8 pm and after a 10 minute bus ride, she has to walk about 15 minutes to get home.  I walk with her about 5 minutes of the way but the rest of the way she is on her own. I can't help but feel a tightness in my throat whenever we go our separate ways.   I offer to go with her but she refuses.

She is a responsible, smart, disciplined young girl.  With no sense of a clear upbringing I cant help but wonder where this sense of responsibility comes from.  Perhaps it comes from the lack of responsibility at home or the necessity to care for her little sister when she is home.

Whatever the reasons I admire her.  I hope that I can be the best teacher for her because she along with all the other kids I work with, are the best kids I know.

Please lift them up in your prayers when you remember.





Sunday, October 13, 2013

My first prophecy

As some of you know I was in Norway for three weeks in September.  I went there for two reasons.  I needed some time off and I needed to see my fiancĂ© Jonas Stava.  Jonas left for Norway back in May and I hadn't seen him in almost four months.

While my time in Norway was relaxing and fun, I also had the chance to share and meet with people who wanted to hear about my ministry.  I shared in a few different small groups and bible groups as well as two different churches.  I also got to know Jonas' family more.  I had a wonderful time bonding with his sister and her kids as well as his parents.  They are wonderful God-fearing people that I admire so much.   I enjoyed my time in Norway and I look forward to going back.

One specific thing I want to share is a prophecy that someone I'd never met before shared with me.  Towards the ladder end of my trip Jonas and I went to meet his former spiritual mentor.  This man is partially responsible for leading Jonas back to Christ.  We went to pick him up but he wasn't ready to leave yet.  Jonas' spiritual mentor's name is Olga.  Olga was meeting with an old teacher of his that had a really bad fall.  She was in need of prayer and healing.  They mainly spoke in Norwegian so I quietly sat on the couch and played with my phone, editing pictures and updating my calendar.  I could understand maybe 20% of what they were saying but other than that I was lost.   After about an hour of conversation Jonas said that we could leave.
As we got up to leave the old lady looked at me and said in clear English, "Wait, I think I have something for you."  I didn't know what to say. It was sudden and unexpected and loud.  (she was a fairly small woman)  I just stood there afraid to do anything for fear that I would disrupt the message she was receiving from God.
She prayed briefly to herself and opened her eyes saying, "Don't look behind you, don't look in the past.  Look ahead.  Look forward.  God is with you and he will protect you."  She paused again, then started to say, "You're life will be difficult.  You will be on a winding path with many turns and curves.  You're path will not be straight and wide.  It will be narrow and sometimes dangerous but don't be afraid.  You will reach your goal."  Then she said, "I will be with you as you walk down the path  I will send my angels concerning you. Do not be afraid."

Half way through the prophecy I was already extremely emotional.  No one had ever shared an actual prophecy with me before.  Some people have said to me, "Pattie, you will do amazing things one day." "Pattie, I know God has something big for you."  I never know if I believe it.  I just want to live for God. But I have never experienced anything like this.

I haven't shared this with many people but before I left for Norway I was seriously thinking and praying about my relationship with Jonas.  (If Jonas was the right person for me.)  I had my parents' voice in the back of my head and my love for Taiwan in the front.  Jonas is still in school and it looks like God's plan for him is to be in school for some time.  I don't believe Jonas will stay in Norway but I believe God will lead him to many different places and countries, giving him different experiences and cultures.  In other words, it would take a few years before we head back to Taiwan.  I was doubtful that we would go back to Taiwan and the fear of not coming back to Taiwan scared me.   A few people were praying for me and giving me words of encouragement but nothing really stuck in my brain.  All I did hear was, "Just stay with Jonas, trust in me."  But then that voice would be drown out by my parent's voice and my own fears/desires.

In Norway, Jonas and I talked and prayed.  His parents and I talked and prayed.  I thought and prayed.  I think I always knew that Jonas was the person God had for me but so many factors that I hadn't anticipated pointed away from him. Until I met this lady.

There is no doubt in my mind that what she shared with me was directly from God using her as a loud speaker in my life.  What she said aligned with everything I was struggling with and praying about.  My goal is to be in Taiwan and my path to get there won't be easy or straight.  My paren's are in the back of my mind as I look in the past instead of the future.  I never thought I would come face to face with a prophecy about my life.  Simple but to the point.  Just enough for me to understand and submit to God's will.
After she shared so abruptly with me, a sense of peace, love and joy washed over me.  I wasn't afraid anymore and all the things that I knew God was telling me made sense.
I may never see her again but Ruth, if you ever read this; Thank you.

And thanks be to God.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Overhaul

Wow, I haven't updated my blog in so many years.  Its been a crazy few years and I am happy to report that everything is great.  I moved to Taiwan to serve the Lord and not only am I amazed by his faithfulness every single day, I also get to see His great work and glory in the lives of people that don't know him.   I am excited to share that my blog will be updated regularly about the details of what God is doing in Taiwan.  I am excited to get to blogging again and share with my few readers that I am doing and invite them to pray for me and for Taiwan.

This blog is going to be overhauled and we start fresh.  Thanks for sticking around and thanks for reading.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nutritional Yeast Tofu

Hey all,

I made nutritional yeast tofu tonight. Got the idea from one of the popular vegan restaurants here in Portland called, Sweet Here After.  Very good...you should check it out.

First of all if you know what nutritional yeast is at all, you would know that it is heavenly.  I love it.  I use it on popcorn, seasoning...it has a great flavor.

So this tofu was soaked in chicken broth or vegetable broth.

Then I squeezed out some liquid and breaded it with nutritional yeast.

Depending on how much you want to make..
1 cup of flour to -1/4 cup of Nutritional yeast...but agin this is your meal so feel free to use as much yeast as you want, but make sure you have enough flour to fry it.

If you feel adventurous feel free to add some water to this..just a bit and cake it on the tofu..then you can bake it.  Thats really up to you though.

Then you just fry it in a skillet with vegetable cooking oil.  Nothing to fancy because it takes away from the flavor.

Enjoy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Life after seminary

So I've been done with school for a few months now and its october.  (As most of you know)  Whats strange is that as much as I love seminary and school, I don't really miss it.  However I do feel like I am getting stupider by not being in school.  I don't feel like I am learning much.  My life basically consists of working, eating, sleeping, and socializing.

I can understand why people don't feel the need for God...because quite honestly if I wasn't a christian I don't know how much I would ask the question, "What's the meaning of life?" THere really isn't any time to stop and think about it.  But what I have noticed is my lack of God.  I have to actively pursue God and actively mentally, emotionally, spiritually be aware of my walk with God.  That is strange.  In seminary it was great, I loved it.  I had this great network and we talked about theology, life with God, Christianity...basically all things Jesus.  Now that I am done with that...I don't have it anymore and I miss it.  I realize how many things have fallen off..I don't journal as consistently, I don't read as consistently and I don't spend time with God as consistently.  It really is a discipline..its not even a habit. Its a cognitive decision for me to wake up every morning and spend time with God.  Its hard.  Its hard but necessary.  I know it is.  I know what my day is like when I don't do it and I know what my day is like when I do do it.

I'm in a transition stage right now and I guess I'll have to figure out what my life will look like once I get to Taiwan.  I hope that I hear from all of you and expect some time of prayer later soon.