Wednesday, December 7, 2011

retirement speech

for my capstone class, we had to write our own retirement speeches. it was a challenging assignment as it forced me to sit down and really think about what I want for the future. anyways, here it is:

Thank you all for coming tonight. This is a very proud moment for me as I can stand here and look back on my accomplishments with pride and satisfaction. I especially want to express my deepest gratitude to those that have supported me in my ambitions and allowed my dreams to come true. From the family members and family friends who always encouraged me, even as a young and naive child to those who walked alongside of me, even into unsafe and unknown places. Thank you to my friends here in America who have always maintained a piece of home for me. You have provided me with a sense of stability and comfort I could never have survived without; you have been a constant reminder of who I am and where I come from- something that has been easy to forget over the years. Thank you to all of my previous employers who were so understanding as I whisked off to another country multiple times a year. To the Genitti family, thank you for employing me throughout my college years, for hosting numerous fundraising events, and for putting my picture on the wall; it meant more than you’ll ever know to be a part of your big, strange family. And finally, I need to give the biggest thanks to my mother. She raised me herself, taught me to be strong and independent, to stand up and fight for what I believed in, and to never give up. She instilled in me the idea that I could do whatever I wanted or dreamed of, and I have done so. To her and all of you, I am forever grateful.

Over the past 50 years, we have helped of thousands upon thousands of people in Eastern Africa and all over the world in the most basic and tangible ways, but we have changed lives and left this world better than we found it. We fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cared for the sick, fathered the orphans, and brought freedom in the form of education to the nations.

As a young college graduate, I would cringe whenever someone asked me, “what’s next?” as if I had some sort of understanding of this world and the way it works. The truth is, I’ve never known what was next, and I like that way. As a college student, I took a year and a half off of school to travel and work in orphanages in Kenya and Haiti. The pain and desperation I saw there along with the absence of well-known and well-funded organizations horrified me. I could no longer exist here without doing something myself. I started Distant Hill International as a 22 year old with the bright-eyed idea of starting a small organization to fund my humanitarian work and long-term goal of building a community of people who would help meet each other’s basic needs. Indeed, we’ve built that community and much more. Looking back, I didn’t start small. I took a giant leap and, instead of finding a soft spot to land, I figured out how to fly. I’ve kept with me a Swahili Poverb given to me by a Kenyan woman on my first trip into a village: Jisaidie mungu akusaidie. It translates into English as, “Help yourself and God may help you. Don't wait for help; start doing.” It has been a source of motivation and comfort when I didn’t have answers, plans, or money. My advice to young dreamers is this: “Don’t wait for help; start doing.”

Throughout my “career,” I’ve created a self-sustaining community full of people who know they are loved deeply and love freely in return. I may not have built all of the programs I set out to start, but I have faith in the people succeeding me to grow our dream into fruition. I will live past my death, leaving a legacy of hope and love instilled in the hearts of the generation rising up to take its place.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tumblr errrr

I think this post would be most suited for a Tumblr account, but I don't have one of those.

my mom bought me this magnet when I graduated high school, and I still reeeally like it:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I don’t like the 2 word story campaign. I think it reflects one of the major problems I have with the modern Christian church, and that is: I think we have it wrong, and I think we’ve had it wrong for such a long time that the majority of people honestly believe we’re purely honoring God. Something I’ve recently begun to understand it that I don’t have anything to prove, and I’m not trying to sell anything. That is the first mistake we have made as Christians.

Throughout this blog post, I’m going to bash on the 2 word story campaign, but my thoughts and opinions go far beyond this one particular idea. It just happens to be the most current concept for my cynical mind to dissect. Sorry I’m not sorry.

First of all, the 2 word story encourages people to believe that life is black and white. If I have learned anything over the past few years, it is that this is far from the truth. We live in the shades of gray, and God dwells with us there. Perhaps God is black and white, but we as humans are not. Maybe we haven’t figured out how to live in black in white or maybe we weren’t created to do so; I don’t know. Either way, it’s not true no matter how many rules we attempt to live by or labels we use.

The 2 word story falsely tells people that once you encounter God, (I say ‘encounter’ here instead of ‘believe in’ because God is a being, not an idea) a basic idea to the human condition is all of a sudden transformed. Life is a journey and we are constantly forced to grow- closer to or further away from God. Once you encounter God, things are not all rainbows and butterflies. I think that if we, as the church, were all more truthful about this, then it would free so many people from the overwhelming sense of failure. God is always present and transforming us, but it isn’t all cute and clean.

While we were discussing the 2 word story at work the other day someone said that their two words for their spiritual journey were ‘Hard and Harder’, and the room fell silent. I know this doesn’t make sense to the basic idea of the campaign, but if you look past that you will see the pain that this movement has caused. If someone isn’t willing to just choose a word that reflects something they struggle with in their faith and pretend it’s all fine and dandy and if someone is willing to be truthful about her pain, then she is ostracized and made to feel as if she had done something wrong.

The 2 word story is a great advertising campaign, but for what? For God? The church? Christianity? I don’t think we need to advertise for God, I don’t want to advertise for a lot of the churches I’ve been to, and so many people (including me) have given the title of Christian a bad reputation that I’m not sure anyone would want to listen to us.
What I’m saying is that I’m not trying to sell anything because I don’t think that’s honoring to God. The truth of our stories, the truth of who we are, and the truth of where we are is what is honoring to God.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

i'm so excited to be graduating!!

just kidding.

I am not graduating. Tomorrow is not my last day of classes, this is not the last paper I will write as an undergrad, it isn't my last time to have a sore hand from writing essays, nor is it my last chance to pull an all-nighter cram session. Shoot.

The impending doom of the rest of my life is not days away. I do not have to make life altering decisions right now, and I am not stepping out into unknown territory with bills, insurance, or setting up a 401k (whatever that is...).

As much fun as all that sounds, I'm not upset about not graduating with the rest of my class. I'm actually pretty stoked about what next year has to offer. The next 4 months are a big, exciting, open question mark. After that, I'll be back at school until I can convince someone to let me have a diploma. I would love to order my cap and gown, dream about what grad school to attend, or plan a move to a new, exciting place. Despite that, I do not regret the excurtions I have taken instead of "staying on track" with my "college career." I certainly wouldn't trade anything for knowing these precious babies.

Monday, April 11, 2011

thoughts on meeting your hero

Last weekend, I attended a conference in the lovely town of Monroe, MI. My hero and the woman I aspire to be was speaking, so I bought a (fairly expensive) ticket and went instead of working to make ca$hmoney or hanging out with friends who will soon be living in far away states :(

I've heard many times throughout my life that it is not a good idea to meet your hero. I assumed this was because you would be disappointed by him or her. Maybe he won't look the way you imagine or maybe she will not be as real as you think or maybe he'll be rude and treat you like an annoying fan. On my drive to the conference, I was very afraid that I wasn't smart or holy or special enough to meet her.

The thing is, when you meet your hero, you find out she is real. A real human being like you with faults, wrinkles, and chocolate cravings. This realization of her humanity was quite unfortunate but also very healthy for my ego. This is because I am also a human being who has the ability to do what my hero does... except I'm not doing it.
She is not special, and I am not special. Ouch!

She lives in Afrika and sees miracles almost daily. Food multiplies, the sick are healed, and the dead rise. I live in Michigan, and I go to class, eat salad, and hang out with ma frendz (thank you Rebecca Black for making me think of your song every time I say "my friends"). Meeting my hero was disappointing. Not because who she is, what she said, or how she acted, but because it made me realize that I am just as capable to do the things she does... but I'm not.

If we believe what the Bible says is true, then Jesus did amazing things while he was here. He turned water in to wine, multiplied food to feed thousands, raised the dead, healed the sick, walked on water, and more. The scary/amazing/comforting/hopeful/intimidating thing is: according to John 14:12, we are supposed to be doing even greater things than these.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

all dogs go to heaven

Yesterday was a really bad day; we lost an important part of our family. Sammy’s cancer came back and we had to put her down. Cancer plays dirty. It has been a great 13 years, and I will miss her so much. Rest in peace, puppy girl, rest in peace.

If you’re saying to yourself “oh, come on. She was just a dog!” then you should stop reading this now, and we probably should never talk again.

I went to a lovely human funeral last weekend. By "lovely" I don't mean it was enjoyable, but it was peaceful. The woman was old, and she had lived a respectable life.
My perception of death is ever-changing, sometimes daily, and often multidimentional. When my grandma died, death was the more desirable option compared to the current reality. Alzheimer's is a bitch. But sometimes, especially when you're not expecting it, death is a horrible and painful surprise.

I don't have anything new or exciting to say about the subject. I just think death is so scary and sad because it's so final and unknown. No one actually knows what happens when we die. Of course it's a part of the human condition to speculate, but that's just speculation.

I've been thinking about death a lot lately. Not in a morbid way, but ever since Rob Bell's book Love Wins became such a big deal and people started freaking out even before the book was released, I've been trying to figure out what I believe. My trust that God is love and ultimately good leads me to believe that death isn't supposed to be scary. I believe we'll be okay. Whether what we do in life is reflected or continued in death seems to be the same idea. However, what I do believe is that while we're here, we're supposed to bring heaven crashing into earth. By that, I mean we are supposed to bring love, grace, justice, and peace HERE and NOW. Hell already exists, and "we see it everyday" in the form of war, famine, hate, and oppression.

Losing a beloved pet is not easy, but I think we can learn a lot about life and death from them. They spend their entire lives loving everyone they meet without condition.

Sammy treated me with unconditional love everyday, and I will miss her so much.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

playstation and the human psyche

We spent Thanksgiving with our family in Tennessee. Throughout the week, my nine year old cousin sat in front of the tv, entranced by the war-related Playstation game he was playing. Although I made it clear that I'd prefer he play outside instead of (a little too realistically) murdering people, I could not convince him to step away. Instead, I sat with him and watched him play his game.
Though he generally ignored me, I intentionally drilled him with questions- if only to pretend we were bonding... and to see how much he really understood about what he was doing. At one point, our "conversation" went as follows:

me: why are you killing all of those people?
Logan: because they're evil!
me: how do you know they are evil?
Logan: because they're against me!

They're evil because they're against me. At first, it may sound extremely childish and silly, but after a moment of reflection, doesn't it sound a little too familiar? Whether it's an acquaintance with opposing political views or the ex-friend who made a selfish mistake.
Or Perhaps it runs deeper. Maybe it's the person on the other side of the world who has been labeled a terrorist because of what people with her skin tone did.

Thank you, Logan. Thank you for summarizing the tragedy of the human psyche so simply and eloquently.

They're evil because they're against me. That statement is painfully ignorant, and yet we continue living like we believe it. I think it's time to believe something else. Maybe something a little more positive... a little more truthful? Let's begin by loving each other more, despite what it costs us.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Yep, my shirt is awesome. It's from Go there, buy stuff, and help rebuild Haiti one tee at a time!