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Dear Danielle

A few hours ago, a post was shared in one of our Women’s Football Facebook pages.

‘Yesterday I received a message from a lady named Jamie. She has an 8-year old daughter named Danielle who loves football and is getting ready to play her first season of tackle football. Yesterday was her first football camp. She was the only girl at the camp and the only girl registered to play tackle this year and first for their league. She had a boy tell her yesterday “girls don’t play football, what are you trying to prove’ “

I wrote this post for Danielle, but I also wrote it for all of the girls out there. You are all warriors, heroes and ground breakers. Keep chasing after your dreams, no matter what they are.

Dear Danielle,

I know how you feel. Maybe not exactly the same, but I have an idea. I was just like you, I just wanted to play my favourite sport. I just wanted to be the football player I knew I was inside. Unfortunately, unlike you, I lacked the bravado to step out and actually play organized football until I was older. In fact, I allowed society to tell me it wasn’t even an option. You didn’t let that stop you, and for that, you are my hero.

You are inspiring. You are showing other girls that they too can play whatever sport, be whomever they want to be, and chase any dreams they dream, regardless of what is considered “normal”.

I used to skateboard too. But I let insecurities surface when I was asked over and over again, “What are you doing here?” None of the guys I skated with were asked that question, and quitting because I let their fears seep into my consciousness is one of my greatest regrets still to this day.

“What do you have to prove?” Nothing. Not to yourself, not to anyone. The better question is for those who questioned you, and it is “why are you so threatened?”

They’re insecure and feel like they are going to have to prove themselves beside you.

You do belong out there. You belong because you want to play football and it is a football field. You have no one to answer to besides yourself. It is my prayer for you that you push yourself into greatness in whatever you choose in life for your sake and your sake alone.

I actually wrote about some other amazing girls who were just like you in my previous post,  “Girls Games” . Their names are  Mo’ Ne Davis and Maria Pepe. Both faced adversity while playing baseball, especially Maria. The boys were so scared of her as a pitcher that they fought to have her thrown out of the league because she was too good! But she didn’t let it stop her. Her inner warrior came out, and she changed the rules for girls who came to play after her. When Mo’Ne Davis came to play, she became one of the best in the league!  Whenever it gets frustrating, just remember that you are doing amazing things. Don’t let anyone take that from you.

We’re rooting for you.

Love, Ehjae

I’ve posted other responses below too! (many have been shortened but not altered in any other way.)

“I play semi-pro Female Football in SC in the USA. It isn’t very popular here for women to play unless they are wearing little to no clothing. Danielle you are doing what you love and need to prove that boy and all the boys that say a girl can’t play wrong! Practice and play your heart out! The most important thing is to have fun! Danielle you are my hero for taking this step at such a young age! Go get em!”- Amanda

“Never let anyone say you can’t do anything.”
Love from the Oklahoma Lady Force.

“I have been playing for three years. At this time, I am the only girl on a men’s semi pro tackle football team. I have to practice with guys, and have to play against men that are two or three times my size, weight, stregnth and are faster than me.
When I first started playing, no one believed I could do it. Some of the men were rude, some of their wives and girlfriends were rude.
There were alot of days that I came home from practice frustrated, sad, or angry. I cried so very many tears… but NEVER in front of the men on the team. What I learned was that girls are stronger than anyone expects them to be, girls can both be beautiful and strong, girls can do absolutely anything they dream of.
My advice to you, young lady… is to go to practice every day and be the best that you can be..
Its absolutely ok to be scared, to be sad…
Do not give up on what you want, because someone doesnt believe in you.
Above all else, love yourself, and your family, do good in school and believe that you can do anything. BECAUSE YOU CAN!!”- Dani

” Don’t let them break you down just use that to help you get better and stronger, hit them like no one has hit them before keep your head up and no matter what we all have your back , and never stop your love for the game”- Patti

“Go Danielle! Always remember that you’re not alone when you have this entire international football family to support you. Keep it up girl you’re awesome! Much love from the Budapest Wolves Ladies all the way in Hungary” – Anna

The amazing comments go on and on. You are not alone. Please feel free to comment below if you have a message for the Danielles of the world.

All photos courtesy of Louis Christ, lchrist.com

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Dimmed but not Extinguished

It has been months since I touched my journal, and even longer since I could bear to open my bible. These two staples of my life that once brought healing, peace, and comfort have been collecting dust as my heart seemingly turns to ash.

It’s not for lack of desire, but an overwhelming sense of fear. It’s not for lack of content, but the presence of unanswered questions upon questions and a pervasive loathing and contempt for the person reflected in my own writing.

I am not who I once was and I am not who I want to be. The words of Paul echo in my mind “I do not do what I want to do, but the very things I do not want to do, I do.” Yes, Paul. I feel you. I am often selfish, impatient, cold, and hard-hearted. I have never seen the direct result of disregarding God’s presence reflected so strongly in my own life.

It’s been a bit more than a month since I started medication for my depression and anxiety. I’ve spent a lot of time hiding from the “darkest” emotions in my soul, which has (in my uneducated opinion) led me to this place where I struggle to see the light. It’s funny how something so tiny can represent hope.

Why do I even write? I’m not sure. Some people call it courageous (it doesn’t feel courageous). Others say I need the attention.  I think this is my way of reminding myself that I’m not alone in this darkness, and I suppose I hope to God that there is someone out there who resonates with my words and it brings them a glimmer of light in their darkness.  I once lived as a person who could simply “choose” to see the beauty, optimism, and good in every person and every situation. I’m realizing that I was incredibly blessed to have had that ability, and I’m thankful for this new understanding that I now grasp.  Life happens, things change. We learn through life, and we grow and are ever-changing. My greatest fear is that I will burn every bridge in this journey. Will God really still love me after my desertion? Is He really patient, faithful, and kind? Will my family still love me after I continually let them down in my selfishness? Will my friends?

I’m learning that I can believe something to be true despite how I feel. I still believe that the same beauty, optimism and good exists in the world, but that my sight has been clouded by a dark veil. The light has been dimmed in my soul, but it is not extinguished.

To my loved ones: I am not lost, I have only been diverted.

To my dear broken souls: We are not alone. You will be OK. We will be OK. Today may not be the day, nor tomorrow, but SOMEDAY WE WILL BE OK.

Your light is only dimmed, it is not extinguished.

3 Things That are NEVER Funny

I consider myself to be a person with a hefty humour, and I like a good sarcastic joke. But something that I have been reflecting on as of late is the misogynistic jokes that have found their way into my relationships with guys, and I let them slide because I didn’t want to be “That girl.” You know that girl, the one who is a little too intense about women’s issues, the girl who takes every opportunity to share her opinions about women’s rights.. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.  But if I don’t take the time to speak these truths, then I am doing a discredit to the fiery passion for human dignity and empowerment that is written on my soul.

Here are three recurring jokes that I can pinpoint throughout different times in my life that are NEVER acceptable, EVER.

1.Violence

I have actually had guys jokingly threaten me when not happy with something I am doing or saying. “I will punch you in the face,” “I will kick you,” “I want to choke you right now.” I am not kidding. At the time, I would just jokingly return in kind, saying that I would hit them back or kick them in the balls. Now that I reflect back, I am horrified that I ever spent time with these people. It is NEVER funny to joke in this way. A guy who is genuinely concerned about your safety and cherishes you wouldn’t find this funny or acceptable in any situation.

2. Numbers

Believe it or not, I actually had a guy give me a score on my “Wife-Abilities.” There were categories such as Cooking, Appearance and Mothering… The list goes on. I kid you not. I know what you are thinking, “Where in the world do you find these guys, Ehjae?” You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I cannot express the damage that was done to my soul in this experience. While it is the most extreme case that I’ve experienced, sadly it is not the only one. I have heard guys describe women as numbers in different categories more times than I care to repeat. “Her face is a 4, but her cannons are a 10”
Women struggle with perfection and comparison on our own. We always feel like we fall short of the standard, and are gloriously reminded that this is the case with the barrage of media reminding us to stay fit, but not too fit; to be nice, but not too nice; to be successful, but not too successful; and to be the perfect mother/wife. If a guy ever, EVER removes your dignity by describing you OR ANYONE ELSE by a number, walk away. No, RUN away. It will never change, and you will forever feel like a prisoner trying to be freed from the prison of “Not Enough.”

3.“WOMAN”

Have you ever been called, “Woman” by someone? It’s always said in a mocking voice, “Woman, make me a sandwich; Woman, bring me a beer.”

 MY NAME IS EHJAE.

Calling me “Woman” tells me that this is all that you see. You see my breasts, and the opportunity for conquest between my legs. I can hear some of you protesting- that’s not the case. So what is the case? What is the pressing need for you to diminish our worth? The sake of a joke? I can tell you that no one is laughing. And further more, why would calling me “Woman” somehow grant you power, as if to say that a woman is weaker and must submit to your request?

The verdict is out, and the joke is on you, misogynistic men. Women are strong. We are courageous, and we are not going to be treated like this. “It was a joke.” is NOT a reasonable explanation to ever do any of the above. Having let people speak to me, and treat me in this way for much too long, I hope that it will take some of the beautiful women out there less than a quarter century to stop enabling these destructive language and patterns. It starts with us, ladies.  We must stop joking back, and start walking away.

Taken at Needle-Point

Yesterday we had our immunization consult.  Devan and Kaylee were in the same consult as I was so that we can share the cost of the consult fee. I didn’t realize that it would take such a long time and I also didn’t realize that I would need so many needles.  According to our nurse, Uganda is one of the countries in which the most immunizations are recommended.  I ended up needing 5 vaccines.  After the third one in my right arm, I started feeling lightheaded and they got me to lie down and drink some juice.  I wasn’t really expecting to react because I’ve never had any problems with needles.  However, I reacted! I ended up pretty ill and am still not feeling exactly 100%.  Devan the Nurse told me to drink lots of fluids, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m not sure if it was the needles that made me sick or if it was the $585 I paid to become invincible.

We had our first official meeting as a team this week.  It was great for us to gather together, and I’m looking forward to our meetings! We are really excited for this trip and to bring the lanterns over.
In addition to the lanterns, there are some other items that are needed badly in Uganda that we can bring over.

ITEMS THAT YOU CAN DONATE:

SOCCER BALLS (un-inflated)

**OLD BACKPACKS in good condition that you are no longer using
          The kids don’t have backpacks so all of their school books get soaked by rain on their way to school.  

GENTLY USED CLOTHING

OLD LAPTOPS

MUSICAL KEYBOARD

PROJECTOR
 
SILENT AUCTION ITEMS:
We need items for our silent auction in our upcoming concert fundraiser.  If you know of any businesses that would be interested in supporting us by donating auction items, we would be so blessed by your help. 

SOLAR POWERED LANTERNS:
We are still hoping to purchase some more lanterns to bring over.  We have been told that the $50 (the D light 250) version of the solar powered lanterns are the ones that are useful in Uganda.  Here is the website where you can check out what they look like!
*If you want to donate money to purchase lanterns, donate in the same way as indicated before, but write “For Light the Night” in the memo field on cheques.

I am really in desperate need for financial support.
Our remaining balance for airfare ($2100) is due by the end of May and our remaining balance for ground fees ($800) is due on June 1st. If you aren’t sure about how to donate, check out the “How to Donate” Page.

Couple of upcoming and ongoing fundraisers:

EHJAE’S RINGS AND THINGS:
If you haven’t stopped by to see the beautiful handmade jewelry that I’ve been selling, check out Ehjae’s Rings and Things  All Proceeds all summer go to my Uganda Fund

BAKE SALE:
I will be having a bake sale outside my house on May 19th to try to raise some more funds.  If you like baking, I hope to see you there!!

CHAN FAMILY CONCERT:
On June 17th (Father’s Day), we are throwing a concert to raise funds for this trip and to raise awareness for what we are doing.  There will be a silent auction with many different items including art by members of the team!

FAMILY PHOTO DAY: Date TBA
Schedule an appointment for a 45min photo shoot.  For $60, you will receive a disk with high resolution, fully edited photos. (1 family portrait, 1 couple portrait, 1kids portrait,  and individual kids’ portraits) Up to 8 photos on each disk. Like Ehjae’s Photography on Facebook to keep informed about the date for this fundraiser!

Thanks for all your love and support 🙂

Uganda Update

On Sunday, the Watoto African Children’s choir  from Uganda performed, and our family went to it. Something happened inside of my heart that night and I will try my best to describe it to you.
From the moment I sat down to the minute the lights came on, my heart was so softened and sensitive to these kids that I actually began to cry with every song. (They weren’t sad songs!) I had my two little cousins sitting next to me, and I was afraid that I would scare them, so I tried my best to conceal it.  It wasn’t because I was sad, it was because it was such a beautiful sight.  It was because each one of them is from Uganda.  They ARE Uganda.  My heart was bursting with love for each of them.  It was so affirming for me.. I know that I am supposed to be going to Uganda. My heart has been filled with such a love and an eagerness to be there in Uganda and to be a part of what is happening there. 

That being said, I thought I would fill everyone in on how the finances and logistics of everything is coming along!

Currently, we are trying to make arrangements for our immunizations. We found out that if we go together, we can split the costs of the consultation. That was a happy little surprise.  Some of our plans for the timing of the trip are still up in the air.  Looks like we might be coming home a little later than anticipated. (I’m not complaining)

I have been so blessed by the amount of support that has been coming in through people buying my jewelry, thank you so much to everyone who has bought one of my handmade treasures and to those of you who have been so encouraging to me in this process.

Our deadline to pay the remaining airfare has been pushed back, but I still need another $2000 by next week.  Please be praying for me and possibly consider joining me in this journey by supporting this trip financially.  Also, we will be bringing solar powered lights to Uganda with us, and would love to bring more!! Our college group has already raised a lot of money to purchase lanterns and we are excited to bring as many as we can.  Check out the video below to learn more about the lanterns and the heart behind wanting to bring them. 

If you want to donate, the best way is to send a cheque to Ebenezer Baptist Church. (You can get a receipt for it!!) You can indicate on the memo if you would like the money to be allocated to my funds specifically, or if you want to support our entire team, just make sure that you indicate that it is for the Uganda Trip.  (if you want to give money for the lanterns, indicate that!) If you want to know more about how to do give financially, check out the How To Donate page.

Thanks again to everyone who is reading this, you are all a part of the journey.  Whether it is through encouraging us, supporting us financially or in prayer, or if you are simply staying informed by reading these updates and actually caring about what’s happening.. that in itself is support in more ways than I can express. 

I will end saying that we are currently trying to put together a fundraiser, so watch for more info on that to come!! 🙂

Aloha!!
You can view and even download and print my October Newsletter from the link below:

http://www.scribd.com/full/43402804?access_key=key-24d278lk9mg0okigd0ns

How exciting is technology? I feel so connected with y’all? (I’m catching my fellow teammate, Ben’s New Mexico accent)

This week was awesome, we had a pretty cool teacher from Canada come down.  Dave Overholt from Church on the Rock in Hamilton, Ontario.  He is a youth pastor, so we obviously shared some great stories and great moments because of our similar passions for young people.  Despite one of his obvious downfalls, cheering for the Tigercats, we managed to get along.

I was very excited to hear about the Roughriders successful triumph into the semi-finals against the Stampeders. Since there are several Riders fans out, we have been frantically trying to figure out how to watch the game.  (there’s even a guy here from Calgary who cheers for the Riders.. and why not? lol… I would pick the Riders if I could too..)

Time is just flying by. I can’t believe we only have 2 weeks left.  We will be leaving for Thailand in exactly 2 weeks now.  We are eagerly looking forward to it, but also sadly anticipating the time when we all separate.
Yesterday, we had an offering for people who were in desperate need for outreach money.  It was really cool to see how God was tapping people on the shoulders an having them provide for others who had trusted in him to provide. I have loved every minute here, and I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when we are not ALL together, but I am also very excited to get out there and put all that we have been learning into action.

Check out my newsletter, and if you have any questions, or you would like to be included in the prayer/support letter email list, just let me know and leave your email address too!!

Love you all!
Ehjae