dream chaser.

i’m excited to have been invited to participate in my  first ever blog link-up. but  i’m equally as excited about meeting new bloggers and hopefully making new friends from around the world.  this week, people across the US, australia and new zealand will be sharing our own dreams and why we dare to chase them.  join us in our dream chaser adventure!

if you had asked me in high school or college if i was an orphan, i would have laughed…or smacked you…or both.  i never considered myself poor or lacking of anything.  to me the word denoted something of poverty if not a curse.  besides my only experience of an “orphan” was shirley temple.  and i hated that movie.  but little did i know that the definition of an orphan is any child who loses one or both his/her parents.  technically, i am an orphan.

in high-school my family reeled from the sudden loss of my dad. he passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. my twin sister and i were 15 years old. looking back i was a pretty self-absorbed kid. i covered it up as much as i could with a life full of school and sports. i also know my mom did her best to support us. she moved us to another island, far from her own family and friends to provide for her attention starving and soon to be college-bound teenagers.  she risked and sacrificed a lot. something that i could never truly appreciate until i was married. but the sacrifice and risk was something that would become a common thread in linking my dreams together.

jen and jacks

honestly i really had no idea how the loss of my father would play a pivotal role in my career.  i didn’t think it could. fast forward to senior year of college. some friends and i start a program, acting on aids, to bring awareness and activism to college students about the global HIV and AIDS pandemic. we pitch our program to world vision, and voila! three college graduates start working at one of the largest NGOs in the world.   don’t be fooled. it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. there was a lot of risk and a lot of sacrifice. how do you tell your family that you’re investing your $100K college degree into a start up with no real guarantees of a job?  besides, i can’t say i had ever wanted to work for a non-profit. back then my ‘world view’ consisted of for-profit corporations and entrepreneurial start-ups. non-profits were not in my prevue.

James, Elisabeth, Rich Stearns, and me at our Acting on AIDS program roll out at World Vision USA Chapel, 2005.

obviously God had a different plan. and a sense of humor. throughout my time building acting on aids (now ACT:S) and working at world vision, my “heart was broken for the things that break the heart of God.” poverty, malnutrition, hunger, famine ravished lands, lack of clean water, education, and the need…oh the need, has stirred in me a passion and thirst that i can’t quite quench.  and i don’t’ know if i ever will. but there was something that i really struggled with. making this ‘my story.’ how was God working in my life beyond this start up and how did this tie into what my dreams were?

my dreams of working for a big company started when i was a kid. i didn’t want to be a doctor or a nurse or even a teacher. i wanted to be a business woman who made a difference in the world. i suppose having a mom who dressed up in fabulous clothes each day to head to the corporate office influenced my decision somewhat.

Mom, Jen and I at my wedding.

okay let’s be honest, it influenced me a lot. but beyond the clothes, the  jewelry, and painted nails, i knew that there was something more about the business world that was enticing. it was about making a difference.  looking back over the last few years i’ve been able to really see how that kid-passion has driven me to shape who i am, what i desire to do in life, and where i want to go.

while with acting on aids, i was given the opportunity to travel to kenya and ethiopia on a three week trip to see world vision’s work in the field. it was one of the best trips of my life. it was also one of the hardest. i traveled with a group of senior pastors from around the US, mostly sitting in the background as to not detract from their trip. i listened, observed, rarely spoke…i was a wall flower. the night before our last day in the field, my mentor and trip leader, steve haas, asked each of us what the one thing we encountered on the trip that changed our perspective was and how would we take that into our lives as we returned home to the states?  honestly, i struggled…a lot. i nearly copped out. i was tempted to say what was the easiest…the poverty, the  need, the joy, the happiness, the children’s smiles, the culture, the food…but it was something else. something bigger that i had encountered.

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Stone, Africa 2006.

it was the realization that i was just like these kids. though not poor in material wealth, i had suffered the loss of a parent.  i too was an orphan. my mom was a single parent. she was caring for two kids, making sure we had a roof over our heads, meals on the table, and the opportunity to play with our friends. i had a connection with these children i never thought possible. and my heart just broke.  since then my dreams have always included these kids. i want to be able to give these children a life and opportunity i had, even as an orphan.  no one defined me by the loss of my dad nor should they. and no one should ever define the future of our generation.  all i see is potential. don’t you?

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We believe dreams are made of the same filling as hope, joy and love – the things that give us breath to run, faith to believe, and a heart to sing. When we dream, nobody imposes limitations on us, and that which can be imagined and hoped for can be so.

We’re writing about dreams this month because we believe when we share our dreams, we are dared to chase them. These dreams have inspired us, changed us, and fuelled our love for life and God. They’ve moved us jobs, continents and through relationships. They remind us that everything is possible.

11 Comments

  1. This is my favorite post you have ever written (and NOT because I made a cameo!). Thank you for sharing something so hard, but also so amazing. You are truly making a difference and you have so much talent to bring to the table. I look forward to see how God uses you in the future.

    • Awww, thanks Elisabeth! That means a lot! It’s been a blessing to have been able to share some of this journey and dreams with you!

  2. Wow! That was powerful. I absolutely loved it. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • Thanks Carol! It was great to share my story & heart with others in this awesome blog-link up. I’m equally as inspired and encouraged by everyone’s #dreamlink posts!

  3. So glad I finally found your blog! A beautifully written post. Powerful, poignant, and full of some really great perspective. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  4. Hi Jackie. What an inspiring post! I can relate in so many ways — about being an orphan and the love we share in making a difference to other people’s lives. It’s interesting to see how our work in WV somehow made our dreams come true. It’s a blessing to be here and i feel even more blessed to hear stories like yours.

    • Thank you Diwa! I would LOVE to hear your story one of these days. It’s encouraging to meet others who the Lord has used through the pain, loss, sadness, fear, for the better good and in itself, transforming one another. It feels like I’ve met a sister from another mother!! 🙂

  5. So our little orphan talk today… guess that makes us closer than ever? 🙂 Love the beauty in your honesty, friend. I can always, always count on your wisdom. Thank GODDDD I know you for a million reasons that should really be it’s own book because there are so many.

    And yes, our generation has huge potential. They better damn well live some of it 🙂 And if they don’t, well it’ll be a full out twitter war, us vs. them. And you know how we roll, we’ll win.

    • Oh Linds! How I heart you! I swear we’re related…I just didn’t get the awesome long hair genes. 😉 Thank you for your encouragement and the opportunity to be a part of something amazing! I miss you but look forward to the day where we will rock the social world. In the meantime, continents apart, blog link ups, skype chats and FB stalking will have to suffice. Because that’s how we roll. 🙂

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