Guest Post: Out of Control

Today is a BIG day on Long to Love!  First of all, check out our new look!  (e-mail and reader subscribers, click here)  In the words of Bernie, “I’m longing to love it!”

Secondly, we have a guest post from Josie Ortega!  Josie originally hails from Memphis and is one of my bestest friends from college. Josie asked me to post a video of her Little Lights fund-raising campaign on my blog, but I thought it would be better to hear from her, since she’s the one on the ground doing all the incredible work.  (plus, those who know me know I’m always looking for guest posts!)  I envisioned a small paragraph introducing the video, but the result is more than anything I could have imagined.  Do yourself a favor and read the entire postit’s AMAZINGreal, challenging, and incredibly refreshing.  Her heart is so beautiful.  Without further ado, here’s Josie! 

I’m here today to ask for your money.  I wanted my dear friend Elizabeth to seamlessly weave in a plug for me, but instead she says “Feel free to write a post.”  So, in an effort to build character and be more vulnerable with you, dear reader, I’ll tell you the story of how I came to be here, asking for your money, and about how God is teaching me to exchange my fear for faith.

I’m a girl from Memphis, and I did not grow up in the ‘hood, though I may like to claim it sometimes when I think I’m being funny.  Last summer I started working for Little Lights Urban Ministries, an organization in Washington, DC that provides tutoring, mentoring, etc. to kids and families in the inner-city. 
Though this change wasn’t as dramatic as I’m making it seem, it did bring significant changes to my life.  Financial comfort doesn’t come as easily, and emotionally it’s draining to feel the weight of poverty in the city on a daily basis, and to know children who face seemingly insurmountable odds. 

Additionally, for the first time, I was a minority in the workplace.  The kids we work with are primarily African-American, and because Little Lights was founded by a Korean-American, historically most volunteers, donors, and employees are Asian-Americans.

Even before assuming this new identity in the minority at work, about a year and a half ago I married a dashing Mexican-American man, and if that’s not enough, he’s FROM THE NORTH.  
(I had claimed for years that I was destined to marry a blonde so we could have tow-headed children and further the Aryan race.  My friends delighted in the irony when my last name became Ortega, and they still think it’s hilarious.  Thank goodness he’s conservative and a preppy dresser!  Just kidding, but seriously.)
On top of learning a new culture and communicating with fabulous new in-laws, I’ve been thrown into the deep end of el mundo latino as we attend a mostly Hispanic church in Northern Virginia.  (I took French in school, by the way.)

Don’t get me wrong; I’m totally a post-racial person!  At least, I thought I was until I found myself in the minority and realized how uncomfortable and insecure I can be.

So thus it happened that the girl at the top of her class in high school (not top of my class in college, but, you know, I enjoy Dostoevsky) came to struggle with feelings of ignorance as I learn a new language.  I thought I was doing fairly well, until a couple of weeks ago when I couldn’t answer a guy who asked me how to say “sun” in English.  It wasn’t that difficult; he was pointing at the fiery orb in the sky; but I got flustered.  Language fail!

Sometimes I might feel worthless at moments like that, but then I remember that God says I am worthwhile, no matter how (un)smart and (un)confident I am.  I’m afraid of feeling out of place, uncomfortable, or dumb; but with those feelings I’m learning to cry out to God:

I say, “You are my refuge ,
my portion in the land of the living.”
Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!

And again there’s my job.  I love working at Little Lights, and it’s taken this “career” change for me to realize just how afraid I am of whether or not I’ll be considered successful, whether people with think I’m smart and capable, whether I’ll have enough money to be happy. 
Bring me out of prison [this prison of fear!]
that I may give thanks to your name!

And by the end of  Psalm 142, along with King David I’m learning to believe God’s faithfulness and say,

You will deal bountifully with me. 

Thus a UVa sorority girl exchanged the high heels she wore working on Capitol Hill and K Street for flats and flip-flops.  The heels have been bequeathed to two Little Lights Teen Interns for their fellowships this summer. . . at offices on Capitol Hill and K Street.   I couldn’t be happier.

Let’s be honest.  You and I are not ultimately in control of our livesit’s at once a huge bummer and a great relief.  But it’s only a comfort and relief because I believe that the One who is in charge not only knows me, but deeply cares for me and has promised to take care of me.  Even more, He’s promised a full life!

So I encourage you to let go of controlyou don’t have it anyway!and to embrace the challenges that God puts in your path. 

I have very little figured out.  Honestly, it’s easier for me to type away on my mac right now than to be nice to my husband on most days.  But I know by taking the risks God puts in front of me, I’m feeling at once more alive and more in need; both happier and more heart-broken; with more fulfillment and more longing.  I do think that’s how it’s supposed to be. 

And because it’s a legit cause, and because God delights in using His people to take care of each other, I’ll ask if you’re willing to give just $31 to help Little Lights (we’re trying to raise $31,000 to fund our Teen Internships for next school year)!   This video features some of the beautiful teens in the program:

Thanks for reading and watching!  Let’s press on to know God as our provider, and as One who wants to give His children every good gift.