Friday, April 24, 2009


Come Sunday, I will be frantic with activity because Sojourners is hosting The Mobilization to End Poverty - a three-day, historic event that will virtually END poverty. Well ... maybe not, but hopefully it will get us on the right track.

I have to admit, I'm getting more excited as the event approaches. I'm particularly eager to hear how the "Capitol Hill Day" goes, during which our 1,000+ attendees will go to their members of Congress, meet them in their offices, and personally ask them to enact policy that will help our nation's poorest, most vulnerable people. While editing some of the documents related to Capitol Hill Day, I was really struck by this little paragraph:
When you go to Capitol Hill, do not be intimidated by the confusing building layouts or the heavy wooden doors. It is your constitutional right "to petition the government for a redress of grievances." More important, it is a biblical imperative to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy" (Poverbs 31:8,9)
I had a total Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment after reading this! Indeed, it is our constitutional right and Christian duty to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. So please pray for us at The Mobilization. We'll be doing a lot of work, but hopefully, God will be working as well!

Bonus: I get to interview some pretty rad people, including Martin Smith and Don Miller!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

work. love. life

Chris and his friends and I were walking around St. Mark's when we decided to escape the spring chill and end our aimless wandering by rushing into a bookstore. While perusing the stacks and stacks of magazines, I kept annoying Chris by making loud, obnoxious remarks: "Gosh, where is Sojourners Magazine?" and "I really wish I could get my hands on the latest issue of Sojourners Magazine!" just loud enough for the clerk to hear, roll his eyes behind his ironic black frames, and go back to reading Chuck Palahniuk or whomever. Chris was not amused, but I thought it was funny.

It was even MORE funny (sometimes bad grammar just works) when we actually found the latest issue of Sojourners on a rack! I was very excited, especially because I wrote the cover feature! Chris snapped a photo.

I know. I am a dork. Anyway, it would please me immensely if you read my articles. One is an interview with environmental activist Majora Carter. The other, a profile of an incredible Oakland-based nonprofit, Green For All.

I've been wondering what love is all about. I remember in my junior year of high school we read The Grapes of Wrath and learned that the fantasy of perfection is not real love; rather, love is looking past flaws, enduring struggles, and coming out of fires more firmly bonded, purified, and chastened by the flames. I appreciate the sentiment, but how much is too much? How much are we supposed to go through before we say, OK this isn't working? How many disappointments do we endure before letting go? How many differences do we try to work out before we admit that we are too different?

I'm not sure.

Halmonee dying has forced me to admit it: I am afraid of death! From a young age, at church summer retreats, it's been drilled into me that good Christians don't fear death, but I fear it now. I don't want anybody else to die ... especially my parents. I hate that I am so far away from them. Nowadays, I've been like a needy ex-girlfriend to my parents, calling and texting them often. They are really weirded out by it. Finally, after I sent my mom a random text, she called me and was like, "what is the meaning of this? What's wrong with you?" What could I say? "Ummah ... just ... don't die, OK?" After a bit of silence, she laughed and then started nagging me about how it's my fault that I moved away from her and that I should be good to her while she's alive rather than asking her to stay alive and why am I not saving money and why won't I go to a Korean church and why am I not married yet and why am I still living in a house with 12 cats and on and on ... sigh. It made me love her just that much more. After all, there will probably come a day when I won't be able to hear her nagging me ever again.

life is too short. viva la vida

Speaking of which, have you all seen this incredible children's choir from NY? Eugene Cho blogged about a group of children from a poor community who find hope through song and the direction of their conductor. Watch the video! Their faces will break your heart and lift your spirits. I had to muffle sniffles at work watching this.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bill McKibben

One of the joys of my job is to meet and interview some of the leaders in advocacy around poverty, the environment, and justice. I had the opportunity to interview Bill McKibben not too long ago. McKibben is a renowned writer and environmental activist, as well as a devoted Methodist and Sunday school teacher. Upon graduating from undergrad, McKibben was hired by The New Yorker as a staffwriter. I love and hate people like him :) McKibben founded the organization Definitely check it out, when you get a chance!

('s amazing video)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Train Song

(above: mom's graduation with my grandparents)

I traveled by train for the first time and was really grateful for the opportunity. As the train car rumbled past abandoned stations and sleepy Maryland towns, I found myself both sad and happy. My grandmother died this past week and I miss her a lot. Also, I miss my family. It was so nice to spend time with them last week. My cousins are the bomb-- all so smart and different and creative. Among them are designers, architects, filmmakers, writers, singers, guitarists, entrepreneurs, parents, lawyers, bankers. Get all of us into a big room and you won't be able to pull us away. A lot of late nights in Arizona sharing stories, eating, and remembering halmonee.

A melancholy song to remember lost loved ones by ... and a great video of John Mayer's song, Stop This Train. Oh man, this song makes me cry sometimes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

kindred spirits

The first day I met Jenny, we were in second grade, except she was in the first graders class at Sunday school. You don't belong here, I told her. And promptly marched her to the second graders class. We've been fast friends ever since! Sure we lost touch here and there, but there's no doubt in my mind that she is one of my oldest, most faithful friends.

We also have freaky deaky connections with one another ... it was not uncommon for us to blurt out the SAME EXACT PHRASE at the SAME EXACT TIME in high school. Also, I'll meet someone from Berkeley and we'll be talking and they'll say ... you remind me of some girl I knew in college. And usually, they're talking about Jenny.

A couple weeks ago, I met up with Jen for brunch. She's now a wife and a mother! I can't believe it sometimes. But I can honestly say that as much as things have changed, a lot has stayed the same. We still make stupid jokes, laugh uncontrollably, eat a lot, and love God. What a great friend. And as for the freaky deakyness? It remains ... behold: when time came to pay the bill, we both pulled out plastic cards, but were they credit cards? Nay ... they were tip calculator cards. I have NEVER seen anyone else use one and I ALWAYS get made fun of for using one. Oh, it was quite miraculous. I love you woman!

admiring our tip cards ... we are such freaks!

outside on a cold new york day. How chic is Jen's haircut!?

(photos courtesy of Jenny!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

when parents email ...

I think it's really cute when my parents email me. My dad emails every once in a while to ask for something -- usually edits to some document he's putting together for his seminary. My mom, on the other hand, rarely emails. I remember once when I was an undergrad, she sent me this incredibly long email explaining why I should not switch out of my information systems major to english lit. I was annoyed by it, but mostly really amazed that my mom took the time to write such an email!

Anyway, here's what I received from my mom last night:

If you can't read it, it says:

jeannie, let's make this card.
pleae find good family picture and call me . I will give all the info. you need over the phone.
Thank you and Bye.