Category Archives: One Day’s Wages

I am Overrated

BookCover-2DI read a book recently that has convicted, encouraged and reminded me.

Convicted because he openly talks about the struggles he has had and how he overcame them. I have struggles…that I dwell on a lot and wonder if I should just overcome them.

Encouraged because his stories show hope and ways of resolving problems.

Reminded because he quotes and brings up a lot of points about justice I forgot, or have stopped applying.

Eugene Cho, in his first book Overrated, confesses his struggles with the current justice movement. He shares personal stories of seeing the need for justice around him, and recounts how he has been attacked for being pro-justice. Unlike a lot of other books, he gives small goals. Instead of saying you are going to change the world, he reminds us to change ourselves and go from there. Instead of trying to put shoes on everyone in the world, or give them all a well, he reminds us that solutions need to be local and applicable. Instead of trying to get others to donate $100 million to “end something”, he talks about One Day’s Wages (an organization he started) that receives 0.4% of a person’s annual income to give small grants to a lot of agencies to assist their local communities. Everyone gives a little for a lot of work to be done. Seems simple but at the same time it is a new thought.

A lot of the content in Overrated is not new but it is presented in a way that made me have new eyes for it. Many of the quotes were from books I have read in the last few years of learning about justice and the church, but it was great to be reminded of them. It was also good to hear some more of Eugene’s story. His stories of his upbringing as an immigrant in San Francisco and confessions of being rejected by Taco Bell as overqualified after they heard about his Princeton degree gave credence to his call for others to sacrifice and change their behaviors.

Perhaps these stories were edited for length but my only critique of this book would be that it was too short. A lot of points seemed clipped before completion and stories seemed rushed like some light jazz and dimming lights were signaling time was up. I would like the Overrated Director’s cut at some point because this copy was a fast read that ended too soon.

Most surprisingly, in this book about justice full of calls to be and do instead of acting, advocating and “raising awareness” about a justice issue, I was convicted most by the following quote.

“We need to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes the words ‘too busy’ are substitutes for ‘too lazy’. At least that’s true for me. What about you?” –Eugene Cho #OverratedBook

As I read this my bus pulled up to the stop and I headed into work. I logged into my computer and noticed the windows that popped up on the internet browser.   A couple work sites, then a couple email windows, a local news site, some sites that pay me a dime a day to click on things and a couple social media sites. On the blue themed one, I noticed a list of apps on the side. It was a good sized list, and as I realized I felt too busy the last couple weeks I clicked on them and noted the levels I had won. Level 242 on Farm Heroes Saga, 140 on Papa Pear Saga, Candy Crush Saga-313, Diamond Diggers Saga-56, Pepper Panic Saga-79… there was still Bubble Witch Saga, Bubble Epic, all the Angry Birds, Jewel Epic.

As a public service announcement, I must remind my fbook friends that if you click the X next to the game notification, you can turn them all off. And as a defense this was over a long period of time…at least a year.

But still, I realized I have the online life of a 15 year old loser who spends more time blowing up candy and vegetables than learning, exercising or talking to friends.

Then it hit me why I feel busy. I spend more lunch hours and alone time home reading blogs that I already agree with or playing silly games that are specially engineered to be addictive than working on getting the needed things done.

It has been 8 months since my last update to the larger community that helps me run a houseless meal each week. I have read 3 of the 12 books I have started this summer. There is a massive list in my phone of things that need to be done on the house, most of which would take 5-10 minutes.

But as Eugene Cho in Overrated says, “I didn’t want to leave my comfort for the sake of my commitments.” My comfort as of late has been turning off my brain and vegetating on line. I like to do timewasters when I should instead be managing my time.

Thanks to this book- After realizing this a couple weeks ago, I have no longer played any games, or wasted even a minute of my time. I only read books to learn in my free time. I only do chores when I get home from another stressful day of work. And I have personally called each of the 456 people that I haven’t emailed an update to apologize and let them know they are important to the ministry.

Actually, I haven’t done those things. But I have downloaded a couple music only podcasts so that I can read on the one hour bus rides to and from work. I have studied a list of quotes I took from Overrated so that I can remember that justice is important and is bigger than just me. I have been intentionally about praying for my family, finances and future while I walk during lunch. And I have started smiling back at the panhandlers and those asking for money from me on my short walks downtown. Which when you are the head of a local homeless agency is something that should come natural. I haven’t changed the world so far this year, but I have made a couple steps forward in improving myself and hopefully those around me.

I will end this post with one more quote that I think should be remembered by all attempting to do good.

“God has a long and proven history of using foolish and broken people for his glory.” –Eugene Cho #OverratedBook

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Editor’s Note: I was privileged to receive an advanced copy in exchange for a review and some publicity.  You can pre-order the book until September 1st by going to your local bookstore or going to www.areyouroverated.com 

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Wedded for a Cause

When the beautiful Hannah and I decided to get hitched I had no idea about many of the things involved in weddings.  I never really thought about them, and never needed to.  Things like…How you should lose weight to look good but are also going to stress eat because every little thing is now the biggest decision EVER.  How I don’t really care about colors or textures as much as an artsy female.  How there are thousands of options for every details.  How much money is involved in making the day special and memorable.

Oy!  The money.  Both costs and gifts.  But when we paused and thought about it we wanted to assist others with all the money floating around by buying from or employing as many local artists and small businesses and using the day to support a charity.

The conversation around which charity was short. One Day’s Wages has been the model I believed in the most since it came out.  Small loans allow projects to be completely funded faster.  All money goes to the projects because the overhead is covered by employees having other employments or people contributions to the admin fund.  Projects and fund that actually assist people not just give them money.

Choosing the fund was a little harder, as I love anything Asian and the beautiful Hannah loves art and people on the margins. We met in the middle on one of our common passions…. education.

If I wasn’t taught to learn I wouldn’t be me. And not only is the same true of the beautiful Hannah, but additionally she teaches people how to learn and how to think for themselves. It might not seem perfect but it is.

We set a goal of $5,000 and at last check we have 3 percent of that. Which isn’t much and creates a dilemma… because I have debts. And… I was really hoping we would meet the goal fast and therefore be able to point at it and say, “You can give me money now”.  And… depending when you catch me— as in when I last looked at my balances last… I might tell you give me a check, as I did to a friend recently when asked what we really wanted for the wedding. But honestly, if you give us $50 the beautiful Hannah and I will buy something that looks nice or to make life easier or just maybe we pay off something I already bought to make life easier

If you give that $50 to ODW. You will change a developing nationalist’s life by funding a project that allows them to learn and possible learn to think for themselves which is the greatest gift of all.

I’ll let you pick and hopefully a couple of you will allow the beautiful Hannah a luxury or two, and me some socks and boxers the lady will approve of.

You can give to ODW through this link- http://www.onedayswages.org/donate/org/jeremiah-hannahs-wedding-cause

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Woman…WHOA-Man

This topic has been rolling around in my head for months and I haven’t figured out how to write about it.  I still probably don’t know how but here is a rant.

Let’s talk about women.  Three things this week made me decide that I needed to write about them.

Not cat-stealing women but the other half- of- the- world- than- I, women.

I grew up with a strong woman. I am sibling-ed by a strong woman. I follow and am led by strong women.  I like strong women.

My mother was always the majority breadwinner in my family growing up, more so after we moved to the southern US which is a paradigm shifter.  She had the knowledge, desire and drive to succeed in a man’s world.  I was taught from an early age that she could do anything a man could because she did.  This rubbed off on my older sister who drove a 1976 International Scout II in high school and college.  It was a tank for her petite frame, and a tank she commanded well.  More than once, I remember her jumping up on the front wheel, opening the hood from the windshield side, shoving a screwdriver into the jammed carburetor, jumping down and slamming the hood in the same motion.  She would then jump in the driver’s seat, give it a couple pumps and ROAR it would be gas guzzling.   Few 18 year old men could have done that as fast, or have changed one of those massive tires on the side of an Atlanta freeway.  She was quite a lady too, and is now a gentle, caring mother who is still as fierce when needed.

Most of my office working years, I have been managed by women- occasionally younger than me.  It hasn’t once bothered me, but in more than one temp situation, it bothered male co-workers.  I asked them what a good leader was.  They never started with “a male who…” so I would call them out.  That’s how I got my first 3 black eyes. Just kidding.  They generally said “well, that’s different”…which it wasn’t.

With this rose-colored lens I view the world.  When I read the news— or Facebook—and see articles about women leaders saying Michelle Bachmann is not ready to be President because she’s female—I see hypocrisy.  Or watch Life in a Day and see an African man say a woman must bow to him when entering a room, because she is a woman—I see an ancient culture.  When I read some of my favorite blogs, I use my Sunday slot to talk about it.

A few days ago, in response to a book I refuse to mention or link to Eugene Cho updated an old post.  For some reason I read it, and regret it.  Not because it was a waste of time, but because it reopened my eyes.

Read This NOW

REALLY!?! Acid on her face because she rejected you?  Because you didn’t provide for her?

This made me angry.  It made me angry that only 2% of the cases have convictions.  It made me remember the stories of FGM—which is too disgusting to write out, but if you don’t know what it is please click the link and be educated— and women protesting for the right to drive and seeing the vast difference in holiday-ers cultural dress on the beaches of Penang.  Not to mention sex crimes, prostitution, and how gentleman’s clubs are anything but.

But more than that it made me angry that men aren’t being men.  Respecting women as humans. Applying the golden rule (a foundation of all major belief systems) to their own life and the opposite sex.  Respect not violence. Respect not force.  Respect not oppression.

I feel like I should end by saying there are good men out there.  I know many, and all close to me act like men.

While getting my eyes opened to the sex trafficking industry a couple years ago and noticing demand is the largest issue, I once made the statement to a good male friend, “Don’t those guys have someone that will punch them straight in the face when they said they bought a 12-year old.  I mean, I can’t imagine someone confessing or bragging that to me.”

He replied, “You aren’t safe for them to talk to…and that might not be a bad thing.”

So, men go be a man and respect the women around you as your equal if not your better.  Cause they probably are and you will get their obnoxiously beautiful respect as well.


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What’s church got to do wit it?

This week has been abnormal.  I’ve been sicker than normal. Weaker than normal.  But also more blessed and excited.  Christmas is coming and I am preparing well this year.  More attempts than normal have been made to slow life down and prepare for Jesus’ birthday commemoration.  The community around me is closer than it has been, honestly since I was a teenager I think and I am having a hard time finding things to really complain about.  Then there is my church.

Now, church is different in meaning for many people.  The word could bring up images of the stain-glassed cathedral your grandma got funeralized in or the basement of a friends place you drink in.  There can be a case made that both are your “church”.

In the last six or so months my personal definition has been transformed substantially as my attendance has been less at the mega-gatherings and more at the table with community, and on the street with the 3’o clock people.  These serve as my worship times. My teaching times. And my listening times.   Nothing against the mega-gathering, but as my life slows down so does my desire to participate in the event rather than saving my energy for the fellowship times.

I love my mega-gathering church still and believe they do good like two of the things they are allowing me to be involved in.  The first is that in an hour or so I am meeting a friend at the library and giving him an envelope.  What’s in the envelope? Money, enough to pay his rent and some utilities. Provided by Change for a Dollar.

We’ve been friends for a couple years and walked through his hobo spider bites, broken foot, and MRSA—all while on the streets.   Then when he got an apartment from JOIN, an amazing agency that helps people get off the streets and we helped fill in some gaps, everything but a job.  He finally got a job a couple months ago but it’s only part time and he is not making enough to pay his rent.   So the last few weeks he has been cleaning up and preparing to pack because he was only given it for a year and hasn’t had enough income to keep it.  He lost his food stamps when he got his job, which took a while to get reinstated at a lower rate!  He is keeping a fairly good attitude in this all.  He is saving some money and searching for another part time job, but was willing to just let the apartment go if he only had one month to keep it so someone else could move in for a year.

I was able to say. “No. We are paying your rent for January.  You have 4 more weeks to look for another job.”

All because people put one dollar in a bucket on Sunday, someone will be off the street for the coldest month of the year.  How Jesus is that?  How “church” is that as Ice cube would say?

Next time I will tell you about how churches are uniting will be feeding 150 or more homeless in our neighborhood.  Till the next episode….

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Intelligence in Politics: a rant

A few weeks ago The Daily Show had Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi on as guests.  I respect them both and generally agree with their worldview, although one more than the other.   Early in my working career, as a 20 year old I had good jobs and therefore thanked Clinton for that since he had been in power for nearly 8 years.  I won’t say more on that because many of you think he has ethical issues which for me have little to do with public service and more to do with personal life mistakes.

Still reading?  Clinton and Pelosi being on basic cable in the same week was amazing to me. But was more amazing was what they said…and how those words were said.  Bill Clinton—who’s out of office and just a highly respected speaker and philanthropist now— laid out plans to fix the economic issues we have.  Eloquently, beautifully, wordsmith-ily he discussed solutions that from his research and experience would make a difference.  Things like raising some taxes and closing other loopholes.   He said what needed to be said I felt.

The next night Pelosi—who is still in office and seems to want to stay there— ended up blaming others. She used talking points and (sorry Mom) talked utter bullshit.  Her words used were made up or redefined in the past year, which seems atrocious to me and…the answers rarely answered Jon Stewart’s questions.

The two couldn’t be more different.  Clinton seemed to have a backbone and some fearlessness.  Pelosi did not have either but instead seemed to be speaking what she thought others wanted to hear.  Things that need to be heard and want to be heard are often different.

Why do you bring this up?

I watch a lot of documentaries as you probably know.  They make me think and read more.  Lately I’ve viewed a lot about the world economic issues. The causes, the people involved and the reasons many people are broke.  In many is the former NY governor Eliot Spitzer who like Clinton has personal ethical issues but aims to help a lot of people.

I respect that he makes sense and stands up for what he believes in.  And believes in something! He listens to interviewers, answers their questions and sounds smart. Sounds smart? What does that mean?  Have you listened to Glenn Beck? The opposite?  They have plans. History. References. Acronyms that you have to look up.

But the thing that I appreciate most is that when he pops up, like Clinton there is something in me that feels hopeful.  That there are still good people in politics and the world…

Well there were.  Who do we have in office that is willing to take on Wall Street and the Mob?  To make tough decisions like raising taxes in the short term for long term gain?  Or to risk their job to assist those in most need?

There must be someone who is working too hard to be interviewed on camera…

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