African Hyphen American

They say ‘Go back to Africa, if you feel like you don’t fit in’ Yet here I am in Africa . .  I’m confused is everyone my cousin??


African Hyphen American

By Jamara Beard
*My somewhat poetic thoughts about my first trip to Africa*


As the plane went up, the tears fell down

But unlike my Ugly Cry, I didn’t know if I should smile or frown

And since my old friend never leaves long enough to miss,

Say hello to my Identity Crisis


IC, I think I SEE where you began..

With the fact that I really don’t know where..

Yeah I know Africa, but what tribe? What tongue?

This is my first time here and this ignorance isn’t fun


They say ‘Go back to Africa, if you feel like you don’t fit in’

Yet here I am in Africa . .  I’m confused is everyone my cousin??

I don’t have any kin here, yet I blend right in

I’m not the only one confused as I stand here with matching hair and skin

Kids seem to ignore me as they eagerly greet my different and exciting friends

Adults speak to me in Tonga and ask me what tribe I’m from

Unlike the Nigerian among us, subtle shame on me for not knowing where I come from


I tell them all I know is America and oh how I would love to know further back than that

I point out that for most African-Americans the hyphen isn’t really attached

To simplify, some of us just prefer the title Black

‘Cause it’s hard to identify with a land you’ve never seen

With a culture and language you now look at through a westernized screen

With pain you’ve never prioritized to address

But can you blame them?

We live in a country created out of sin it still doesn’t wanna confess


The land of the free, flowing with opportunity

Now all of a sudden I feel my American privilege and it’s bittersweet

As if being sold into slavery is an indirect victory

Because now I can come back and help my people right?

Yet in this moment I don’t feel guilt, shame, or even obligation

I’m just praying that God will reveal my role in His ministry of reconciliation


-A short line segment yet the distance seems great

If it represented the racial tension between the two, no one would debate

whether you’re in Africa or America, the dividing walls are clear

Instead of pulling them apart I pray they would draw near

But wait, didn’t Jesus claim victory in the second book of Ephesians?

Ahh yes, just like He reconciled us to God

Christ was, and is, and will forever be the hyphen.


With God’s Love,

Jamara B. ❤

EMI Update: Traveling to Zambia, Africa

I still can’t believe in the last 2 days I’ve been in 4 countries. I just made it over to Zambia, Africa for my project trip with Engineering Ministries International (EMI) and it has been an adventure! From Colorado Springs to Denver to D.C. to Ghana to South Africa to Zambia; here’s a quick recap of my journey here.

I still can’t believe in the last 2 days I’ve been in 4 countries. I just made it over to Zambia, Africa for my project trip with Engineering Ministries International (EMI) and it has been an adventure! From Colorado Springs to Denver to D.C. to Ghana to South Africa to Zambia; here’s a quick recap of my journey here.

Colorado Springs to Denver to D.C.

My day started at 3 AM Monday morning. I got up early to finish some last minute packing and met my carpool at 5 AM. Our project leader drove another team member and I to Denver to catch a 8 AM flight to D.C. Smooth check in but I took about 20 minutes getting through TSA. I packed a flashlight in my carry on that I didn’t realize was connected to a tiny pocket knife. Opps.

I’m pretty sure I got that thing from the dollar store so I was more than happy to surrender it. After handling that, my bag kept alarming for some type of chemicals. The lady dumped everything out on the table and ran it through 2 different machines. I was kind of embarrassed because I packed WAAY too many snacks. Then the TSA lady proceeds to tell me she has to do a full body pat down right there or in a private room. What is life?? I kept my cool and remembered how I doused all my clothes with bug spray the night before. As she’s patting me down, I thought for sure the spray was setting the alarm off and they were going to take my clothes. Meanwhile, my team is patiently waiting for me in the distance. I thought they were about to see me wearing paper clothes. To my surprise, I passed the pat down and they sent me on my way. We made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare! The 3 hr flight was peaceful and I got some much needed rest.

Tolu and I are excited to finally be headed to Zambia!!

D.C. to Ghana to South Africa

During the 4 hour layover in D.C. we met up with some more team members. Each EMI project trip is majority volunteers. These are design professionals highly skilled in their area of expertise. We have surveyors, architects, electrical engineering and civil engineers on our team and they are all pretty awesome. One of the civil engineers brought along his wife, Rachel, who is a nurse. It’s crazy how much Rachel reminds me of my step mother! They kind of look alike and have similar demeanors. Did I mention my step mom is a nurse too!? And if that wasn’t enough, it looked like Rachel was trying to smuggle a stuff fish onboard. My step mother LOVES sea creatures and she may have a stuffed fish that looks just like Rachel’s. HAHAHA

Rachel almost got caught trying to smuggle that fish on the plane lol

A few of our team members were delayed and couldn’t make the connecting flight in D.C. I commended our project leader, Dan, for handling everything while remaining calm, cool and collected. He said he got it from looking at how I interacted with TSA. Lol

As I’m waiting to board my 16 hrs flight, It REALLY hits me that I was about to sit on a plan for 16 hrs! What is life?? The ride wasn’t nearly as bad as it could’ve been. I watched a couple movies, started a blog (which turned into a poem), ate dinner and I had TWO empty seats next to me!


My two imaginary friends 😂

8 hrs later, we stopped in Ghana to refuel, drop off and pick up passengers. So even though I never left the plane, I was technically in Ghana for an hour. With STILL TWO empty seats next to me, wheels were up for another smooth 7 hrs down to South Africa. I ate breakfast, read a book, worked on that poem (I’ll post when complete), ate lunch and slept for a few hours. I woke up with a stiff neck right before we started descending. I thought Yes I made it to Zambia! NOT! I forgot we had another flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Lusaka, Zambia. The plane arrived almost an hour late! When we (8 team members now) got off the plane, we had 35 minutes to make our South African Airways (SAA) connecting flight. Thankfully there was a SAA employee that led us through the international check point and security. She did more than led us.. This chick ran (with heels on!) almost the entire time!! We looked like that scene in Home Alone when the entire family was running through the airport! I tried to record some of the action, but failed. And take a wild guess who took the longest getting through checkpoint? Hahaha I had no idea that we would have to go through security again (In my mind I was Africa when I got on the SAA plane back in D.C. lol). Somehow my bag got through security with a full water bottle. There was no place for me to dump the water and everyone thought going back through the line would take too long. So I chugged all 20 ounces of water in about 10 seconds. It looked like a clipped from Fear Factor (minus the gagging). I got through security and we ran A LOT more. As the second youngest person on the team, I felt obligated to lead the pack. I failed at that too. We finally made it to gate with about 5 minutes to spare. Thank God!

South Africa to Zambia


Dinner and a movie provided by SAA!


Southern African Airways Breakfast! Yum!

Last flight was about 2 hours and I swear SAA is the best because they fed me AGAIN! By the way, the food was pretty good! Especially the dessert! Those two hours literally flew by and I was on the ground in Zambia! Praise the Lord! After waiting 30 minutes in line for our visas, we realized our luggage didn’t make that connection in South Africa like we did. This is nothing new in EMI’s world and we all handled the situation with help from the Holy Spirit. Another 45 minutes of waiting for our visas and we were officially in country!! We got these cool dual visas that will allow us to enter and exit through Zimbabwe! They may come in handy when we go to Victoria Falls on the last day! We met up with 2 more team members and the staff of the Chikankata Mission drove us to a nearby hotel for the night.


Most of the team and some photo bombers.


The adventure is just beginning

We are staying at a Best Western Hotel in Lusaka (the capital) for the night. Besides the outlets and what kind of looks like a composting toilet (but isn’t), it looks and feels exactly like a hotel in the states. In the morning we will have breakfast and head to the project site where we will be staying for the rest of the trip. Our project leader gave us a list of devotionals we will start each day with while here. Please pray that our luggage and the last two team members arrive safely tomorrow! Whelp, it’s already extremely late here and I have to be up by 8 AM! I wanted to post this because I never know when I will have WIFI connection! I hope to update you all soon on the amazing things God is doing through and around me here in Chikankata, Zambia!

With God’s Love,

Jamara Beard ❤


Why EMI IS For Me

My Civil Engineering Design Internship this Spring is the first chapter of many as an Evangelical Civil Engineer. Sometimes I question what is a part of God’s plan for my life. Thankfully, this decision was pretty obvious.

Blog Sub-Category: Service & Development
When you’re done here, make sure you read the second part to this blog, Why EMI is NOT All Of Me.
Read in 5 minutes

Engineering Ministries International (EMI) is a non-profit Christian development organization made up of architects, engineers and design professionals who donate their skills to help children and families around the world step out of poverty and into a world of hope. It was at the 2016 EMI Conference that God gave me my Ugly Cry and the confidence to live out my mission. My Civil Engineering Design Internship this Spring is the first chapter of many as an Evangelical Civil Engineer. Sometimes I question what is a part of God’s plan for my life. Thankfully, this decision was pretty obvious. Here are..

5 Reasons EMI Is For Me

1. God’s People, God’s Work

Once I found EMI online, it took me over three years to contact them. Partly because I didn’t know if they were ‘really’ Christians. We live in a world where even the KKK claims to be a Christian Organization. So when I decided to meet the EMI network in the flesh at their annual conference a few months ago, I asked God to reveal if they were really about His work on Earth. Any doubt I had about this group of people diminished by the first night of the conference. One particular session was about how they determine what a ‘good mission’ is. They gave examples of how seemingly beneficial projects could be detrimental to certain communities. While it’s not possible to foresee and counteract every problem, EMI cares enough not to cause problems they are aware of.

2. Passion For Travel

No doubt about it, I got the travel bug from my mom. Not only did we move around a lot growing up, she’s been a traveling nurse for the last 15 years. Seeing her travel the country for work with two kids, reassured me it was more than possible (#NoManNoKids). Traveling has become a true passion of mine. I want to build and live in a tiny house on wheels so even my house can travel with me! So knowing that EMI is called to care for people abroad, I’m elated to pair my purpose with passion.

3. Professional Engineers

As a recent graduate, I understand the importance of gaining experience in my field so I can build my career. Many times I thought this was going to be the reason I settled for a ‘regular’ job. BUT GOD!! The staff engineers at EMI are mostly civil engineers and they have their professional engineering licenses. Even though I’ll be working on international design projects, my mentors will have domestic design skills.

4. Passion For Diversity

On the second day of the conference EMI’s CEO, John Dallman, discussed the organization’s core values: Discipleship, Design, and Diversity. When he got to diversity, he started by saying, “When I join EMI in 2012 as CEO, the staff was 99% white men and I knew that had to change.” John shared how they’ve primarily increased diversity by having international professionals join the staff office in their native land. However, there are no ethnic minority design professionals on US Staff and very few women. At the end of John’s talk, I managed to string together some words  and asked what was EMI’s response to the lack of diversity in America (I was the only minority in the room). A few staff members shared what they’ve been doing and why they think it hasn’t been really working. Even though they weren’t successful, it was obvious they cared. They cared enough to reach out to me a month before the conference and offered me a free conference day and accommodations. Right after the talk, an engineer in his wife offered to help support me if I chose to do this. I ugly cried right in their face.

5. Cross-Cultures In The Office & Church

Not many engineers look like me, and I’ve been a strong advocate for increased diversity in my field. Working with EMI gives me the opportunity to diversify the engineering field while rooted in love. I believe true inclusion in the workplace comes from understanding the differences of others and learning how to love those differences. This creates an environment for people to succeed personally in the workplace and helps break the cycles of poverty in their lives.

During the conference, God showed me how cultural differences often keep the church segregated as well. Have you ever heard the saying ‘The world is the most segregated at 10 am on Sunday morning’? It simply means that churches are divided by ethnicities, culture, and language. We had worship after dinner each night of the conference. After Ugly Crying all day I was ready to give God my all: stand, sing, lift my hands, dance, run around the ballroom, etc. However, when I realized no one else worshiped like me, I was frozen. Paralyzed in fear, I didn’t give God my authentic worship because I didn’t want to stick out any more than I already did. I was only one of 3 African-Americans in a room of 120 people. God reminded me that this uncomfortable feeling was nothing new and was necessary if I wanted to be the liaison to diversifying the engineering field and the church. Challenge accepted.

You may think that EMI sounds perfect for me. You may think I’m ready to find my place on staff and prepare to retire with them. Not exactly. Even though I knew while at the conference that EMI was for me, I took two week to apply for my internship (even after the deadline had passed) because God wanted to make sure I knew EMI was NOT ALL of me. Check out part two of this blog: Why EMI is NOT all of me.

My Prayer:

“Father God, thank you for equipping me to serve and develop with EMI. You prepared their hearts, skills and vision to uniquely align with mine to fulfill a great need on earth. Thank you for using them to give me my Ugly Cry. I prayed for my purpose and You revealed it to me. I asked You to confirm if EMI was for me and You did.1  You are giving me boldness and strength to use the skills I learn while with EMI to be the bridge between the barriers that divide people and contribute to poverty. I’m forever in awe of your omniscience. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Thanks for reading Part one of this two part blog series! I’m leaving for my project trip destination: Zambia, Africa on Monday (2/6)!! I’ll be gone for 2 weeks and I hope to blog while I’m there. Leave your email address in the comments below if you’ll like my blog updates.

  • Follow me on social media (Instagram and Twitter) @UCUnfiltered
  • Browse my website and read my first two blogs about my EMI experience:
  • An awesome way to join/support my mission is to become a Blog Review Crew member! Click here for more information and how to sign up.

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Pending Review.

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Psalm 138:3]

Why EMI Is Not All Of Me

I will go through seasons of my life where my passions and purpose slightly change and mirrors others. This allows me to join the Body of Christ while fulfilling my destiny. This allows room for growth and my mission to mature as I do. Thank you God!

Blog Sub-Category: Service and Development
Read in 3 minutes

HOLD UP.. Read the first part of this two part series: Why EMI IS For Me BEFORE reading this blog! Alright, now that you know how blessed I feel to be a part of EMI, lets jump right into scripture:

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:41

I believe that when I desire to do God’s will, God aligns my passions with purpose. Thank God I’m wise enough to understand my passions & purpose because they are the reasons I know EMI Is Not All of me.

My Passions

As you read in the first part of this blog, I am passionate about EMI and a lot of my passions align with what EMI already does. However, I have strong passions that aren’t necessarily a part of EMI’s vision. I’m passionate about helping oppressed Americans break cycle of poverty, whereas EMI is focused on developing countries. I’m passionate about increasing engineering diversity in America, whereas EMI is currently focused on diversifying their staff of local design professional overseas. I’m extremely passionate about racial reconciliation within American cultures, whereas EMI is primarily focused on understanding the cultures of the people they serve overseas.

When I realized this a couple days after the EMI conference, God reassured me that he will honor my passions because the world is still in need. God reminded me how confusing it is to hold a position I’m passionate about without understanding my unique purpose.

Recently, I was extremely passionate about this engineering organization’s mission and gave my all to it’s success. I held multiple leadership positions at the chapter and regional levels, but my involvement with this organization was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Often times I ignored my personal wellbeing and endured unnecessary hardships for the sake of the organization. I held positions that allowed me to create programs from scratch and used them to advance the entire society. When my positional duties were overruled or removed, I was left hurt and confused. I was so passionate about MY roles, MY programs and MY initiatives, I unconsciously thought this organization was MY purpose. I thought it’s mission was my mission. That’s when it finally clicked:

“My entire purpose cannot be contained in a position. This is because my purpose is from God and therefore can not be taken from me. A position most likely can be taken away.”

It would have been great to know this while on that rollercoaster with my last engineering organization. Nonetheless, I can now Ugly Cry because I realize that pain helped me understand..

My Purpose

When God called me to EMI, He gave me wisdom concerning my purpose and how I can walk it out while serving with EMI. As I discussed in My Sweet Spot blog, EMI is helping me fulfill my purpose during this season, but it’s not ALL my purpose. It’s still a M-F position that can be taken away at any time. What about the weekends? I have to understand my purpose outside of this position. EMI was created over 35 years ago from it’s founder vision, not my vision. EMI’s mission is AMAZING, but I believe that God gave me my own mission that I can walk out while serving and developing with EMI. EMI is my purpose partner.

I will go through seasons of my life where my passions and purpose slightly change and mirrors others. This allows me to join the Body of Christ while fulfilling my destiny. This allows room for growth and my mission to mature as I do. Thank you God!

My Prayer:

“Father God, thank you for equipping me to serve and develop with EMI. You prepared their hearts, skills and vision to uniquely align with mine to fulfill a great need on earth. Thank you for using them to give me my Ugly Cry. I prayed for my purpose and You revealed it to me. I asked You to confirm if EMI was for me and You did.2  You are giving me boldness and strength to use the skills I learn while with EMI to be the bridge between the barriers that divide people and contribute to poverty. I’m forever in awe of your omniscience. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Thanks for reading Part two of this two part blog series! I’m leaving for my project trip destination: Zambia, Africa on Monday (2/6)!! I’ll be gone for 2 weeks and I hope to blog while I’m there. Leave your email address in the comments below if you’ll like my blog updates.

  • Follow me on social media (Instagram and Twitter) @UCUnfiltered
  • Browse my website and read my latest blog about my EMI experience:
  • An awesome way to join/support my mission is to become a Blog Review Crew member! Click here for more information and how to sign up.

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Pending Review.

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Psalm 37:4]
2. [Psalm 138:3]

First 2 Weeks at EMI

Sorry it’s been soo long since my last post! My delay is definitely not because I have nothing to write about. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. I will be breaking down a lot of the first two weeks, but I wanted to post an overview of what I’ve experienced so far as an Engineering Ministries International (EMI) Intern in Colorado.

26th Birthday Celebration

About 2 weeks ago I arrived in Colorado Springs only a few hours into my birthday. This is the second consecutive birthday I’ve spent with strangers who became instant family. Only hours after meeting my housemates, I woke up to flowers and balloons outside my door! My housemates also took me out for birthday pizza and dessert. I’m so blessed to share a home and office with these wonderful ladies.

Elizabeth got me flowers and a small gift! ❤
Meet Emily (front) & Karen (back)! Two EMI interns going to Senegal this semester!
Elizabeth (top left) was kind enough to open her home to Emily (top right), Karen (bottom right) and I. Elizabeth is a school teacher and friend of EMI.

Week 1: Orientation at the Hideaway

Welcome to The Hideaway. My home away from home.
View from the backyard

I spent the entire first week of orientation at a cabin like resort about 30 minutes north of my Colorado Springs home. Unlike most job orientations, this time was dedicated to understanding my personality type, strengths, spiritual gifts and how I can best serve and fulfill the great commission. We also spent about 10 hours understanding different cultures and preparing to live, work, and love others abroad.

It wasn’t until the second to last day that we had a session about how our design skills are used at EMI. It is clear that EMI cares more about who I am and the God in me, than how much book knowledge I have. (Which is great because I haven’t practiced engineering in about 16 months and I’m kind of rusty.)

Most days began at 7 AM and ended around 9 PM. After 9 PM I socialized with the other 12 interns (which didn’t leave much time for blogging).

Week 1: Day to Day Schedule.

This week was spent with all the new staff and interns from every EMI office. Only 3 of 30ish people actually work with me in the Colorado Springs office. Meeting everyone and then going to different parts of the globe at the end of the week, was by far the toughest part. Some of the interns started their own blogs, which I will list below. It’s interesting to see how God is using others in different parts of the world.

13 of the 15 EMI interns this semester at The Garden of Gods in Colorado Springs. We are Christian Architects and Engineers ready to use our gifts to design a world of hope.

Week 2: Office Orientation

It’s almost impossible to simultaneously understand the world I live in and the office I work in without Ugly Crying.

Where it all goes down.

Some of my burning questions coming into this experience were: How do you get work done in a Christ-Centered workplace? How will I meet deadlines while demonstrating patience and being lead by Christ? This past week I got to see how design professionals engage in Christ-Centered work.

Design Professional Office: The culture of professionalism at EMI is as if we are going to work in Heaven Monday – Friday. I know it’s a stretch but think about it. How would you dress if you were going to work in God’s presence? How organized and accurate would your work be? That’s how I would describe EMI.

Lunch with the interns on the first day in the office. From left to right: Tolu, Alex, Emily & Karen.
Tolu & I are going to Zambia for our project trip!
EMI Intern Office Overview

Christ Centered Workplace: Every work day typically begins at 8:30 AM with devotion or worship. Devotionals are unscripted and are lead by a different staff member/ intern each day. After devotions, we pray for specific EMI offices around the globe. I signed up to lead devotion on April 6th!

We start each work day praying for our EMI offices and worshiping on Fridays.

One of EMI’s core values is discipleship, so I’ve been assigned a mentor, Gala Dallman (our CEO’s wife). Unlike a typical work mentor, Gala will assist with my spiritual and personal growth in addition to professional. Also, I will partake in a weekly bible study with the other office interns. Lastly, every Friday I will volunteer and fellowship at the Marian House (local soup kitchen). What I love about EMI is that they want me to actually build relationships while I’m there.

Worship overseeing the fishbowl.
Worship from the 2nd floor.
The excitement after cleaning a huge soup kitchen oven. Time for lunch.

Fellowship Outside the Office

I can’t remember the last time I’ve had such a vibrant social life! I have to remember to take more pictures. It’s customary for EMI staff to invite the interns over for dinner often. I’ve already had four dinner invites (including one hosted by Karen for Chinese New Year). At this rate, I won’t have to buy groceries until I get back from Africa!

Dinner at the Frank’s! We made them a card. It said: “Franks. Franks a lot!”
IMG_0245 (1).JPG
Karen cooked dinner for us in celebration of Chinese New Year! It’s the year of the Rooster!

Week 3 -5: Traveling to Chikankata, Zambia!!

It’s about that time folks! I’m in the third week of my internship and I leave for Zambia in less than one week! This week I’ll be preparing to travel with my EMI project trip leaders, Dan, Gary and Tolu (the other intern). We also have 9 other design professional volunteers, most of which will meet us in Africa. Our project trip is for the Chikankata Salvation Army Mission Camp in Zambia! The mission has about 300 buildings and a few thousand people live onsite! The site serves as a hospital, college, radio station, secondary school, and so much more. Unfortunately, their water reservoir has dried up and they experience rolling blackouts due to lack of hydro-electric power. That’s where EMI comes in! We are tasked with doing an assessment of the site’s infrastructure with a focus on water, wastewater and electrical systems. Click the following links to learn more about our project!

Aerial video of campus from a drone!
Information on Chikankata Salvation Army
EMI Project Overview

I’ll be in Zambia Feb 6th – Feb 19th! On the last day, we plan to travel to Livingston, Zambia to check out Victoria Falls!!! I absolutely LOVE waterfalls and Victoria Falls is known as one of the largest falls in the world!

My Prayer:

“Father God, thank you for this amazing opportunity to grow and serve with EMI. It’s clear that these are your people and they are about your business on earth. Please continue to direct my path within this organization. Please give me strength through an Ugly Cry when things get tough and I grow weary. Remind me always that this is for your glory and for the good of others. Father don’t let me get comfortable in this place, but remind me to always push towards the vision you’ve given me. A vision that will break cycles of poverty, spread Your love and Your Word to all. Lord protect and guide this team as we serve the people of Chikankata. Let us lead with humility and understand the needs of the Salvation Army. They may be different from us, but let us value them above ourselves.1 Lord thank you for taking the form of a servant and demonstrating how to relate to different people.2 I’m forever in awe of your love. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog! I’ve been working on my youtube channel and I hope to post a blog about it before I leave for Zambia. In the meantime, you can check out my Righteous Anger Playlist Here.

  • Follow me on social media @UCUnfiltered
  • Browse my website and read my latest blog: My Sweet Spot
  • An awesome way to join/support my mission is to become a Blog Review Crew member! Click here for more information and how to sign up.

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References:

1. [Philippians 2:3-4]
2. [Philippians 2:5-8]

Other Intern Blogs:

Marina Acala
Elliot Martin
Tolu Williams

My Sweet Spot

Blog Sub-Category: Service & Development

January 15th,

Yesterday, was my 26th birthday and today I received a pretty awesome belated birthday gift! Today was the first day of a week-long orientation with Engineering Ministries International (EMI)! I’m at a retreat near Colorado Springs with my fellow first-time interns and some staff members. After only a half day, my face hurts from smiling and making my ugly face (basically ugly crying without the tears). I know for sure I’m exactly where God wants me to be.

Quick Observation:

During the first week of each semester in engineering school, I instinctively visually surveyed each class. Today was no different. I’m the only dark skinned person, there are about 50% women, may be 70% civil engineers, and 100% Christians. I may stick out like a sore thumb, but I feel like I’m right at home. It’s clear that EMI desires to be diverse and I’m still passionate about being a driving force behind it.

EMI on Diversity:

One of EMI’s core values is diversity and our CEO, John Dallman, spent some time explaining what that means:

  • Diversity: EMI builds the Church by connecting people of diverse backgrounds, abilities and ethnicities to demonstrate our love for God, our love for the nations and the unity we share in Christ.

My Sweet Spot:

John also gave an overview of EMI’s past, present, and future. As he explained how his life paralleled EMI years before he joined the organization, he encouraged us to figure out who we are and how we fit into God’s plan to reach the world. To simply, figure out our sweet spot, which is at the center of a Me-Need-God Venn diagram.


Immediately, I knew EMI was my sweet spot in this season of my life. It was at the EMI conference two months ago that God gave me the confidence to be who I am and partner with EMI to effectively reach the world. With EMI I’m challenged to be myself, while I embrace different people. With EMI I can grow in faith, while I spread my faith. With EMI I can develop my skills, while I use my skills to better the world.

John also told us that we are now all married, which is perfect because I’m ready to challenge my new family’s comfort zone by ugly crying all week!

My Prayer

“Father, thank you for reaffirming that I’m living in purpose. Thank you for giving me the strength to live my life out loud whether I’m comfortable or not.1 Please continue to transform my life and elevate my faith this week because I do not want to leave the same. I’m forever in awe of your wonderful works and omniscience. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog!

  • Follow me on social media @UCUnfiltered
  • Browse my website (this is my 9th blog!)
  • An awesome way to join/support my mission is to become a Blog Review Crew member! Click here for more information and how to sign up.

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Philippians 4:13]

Breaking the Normal Life Mentality

I naturally abandoned my normal life mentality when I realized my WOW Factor created opportunities to be used by God.

Blog Sub-Category: Breaking Cycles & Comfort Zones
Part 2 of My Struggle to Life-Work Balance Series
5 minute read

Growing up, I dreamed of having a normal life. I wanted a regular job, a regular family, and live a comfortable life. One of the reasons I chose to study engineering was because I knew a four-year degree would be a sufficient amount of schooling to stay on track to this comfortable lifestyle. Little did I know, deciding to become an engineer was the first step down an irregular path.

Shortly after I began college, I realized I had a WOW Factor. I would introduce myself to someone and they’ll go ‘WOW, you’re an engineer!?’ or ‘WOW, you just moved to a new state without knowing anyone!?’ or ‘WOW, you went through THAT and still have joy!?’. In other words, it’s when people applaud me for doing something out of the ordinary. However, it’s easy to get distracted by the applauds of people (and my own low expectations) and forget I’m living to please God. I can’t just sit around comfortable abusing my WOW Factor. When I realized my WOW Factor created opportunities to be used by God, I naturally abandoned my normal life mentality.

High School-To-College-To-Industry-To-40YearsOfWork-To-Retirement Pipeline

I’ll just refer to this as the Normal Life Pipeline. As an African-American student leader, the School-To-Prison (S2P) Pipeline was the only pipeline I was concerned about avoiding. However, the fear of entering the S2P pipeline (and/or reinforcing the negative statistics) scared me into thinking the Normal Life Pipeline was #goals. Now don’t get me wrong, I recognize and I’m thankful for, Affirmation Action systems that help keep the youth out of jail and off the streets. We actually need more of these programs, but they are not sufficient alone to achieve holistic Life-Work balance. Affirmative Action systems highlight what a successful life could look like for me and typically promote the Normal Life Pipeline to get there.

After a ton of trips, falls, and detours along this ideal path, I realized I was happy living life my own way and at my own pace. I spent 3 years in community college. I spent an extra year completing my bachelor’s degree so I could co-op. I also took a 15-month break from engineering after college. Now I’m going into full-time ministry, prepared to live the rest of my life in purpose, and concerned about the legacy I will leave. I call this my WOW Factor-To-WOW Factor Pipeline. #Goals

Office Day Job

I used to LOVE working in an office. Normal office jobs made me feel important and like my life was in order. They aligned with the idea that I needed to compartmentalize my life. My home, mind, spirit, relationships, etc. could all be a hot mess; but when I put on my suit, heels, and go to work, I suddenly have my life together. This past year, I kept my hair short, wore little to no make-up or jewelry for this very reason. I knew I was preparing for an important engineering career that would require me to look the part. Now I desire to feel the part, before looking the part.

Work 8 Hours a Day, 40 Hours a Week

Structured, full-time work is as normal as it gets in this society. I began to think outside the box in this area when I started brainstorming work I could do from home while raising kids. When I first moved to LA, I lived with entrepreneurs who also had a networking marketing business. This helped me redefined my idea of job security by understanding the benefits of having multiple streams of passive and residual income.

Love, Marriage, Kids

WHERE?? lol

When I was younger, I thought I was going to start having my 5+ kids at age 22! hahahahaha I had to learn that I couldn’t build a family until I built myself! I’m grateful for my desire to start a family young because it pushed me to find my purpose young. Now that I’ve got it, I’m willing to wait on my purposeful family that will add more WOWs to my WOW Factor life.

God has given me so much peace and confidence about my mission that discomfort feels comfortable and abnormal feels normal. My WOW Factor allows my extraordinary God to use me in extraordinary ways. Everyone reading this has a WOW Factor. I encourage you to identify it and stop thinking you have to live a normal life! Let me know what your WOW Factor is and how you are NOT abusing it. Send me an email, leave a comment, or take the conversation to social media (Twitter or IG) with #UCWOWFactor and tag me @UCUnfiltered!

My Prayer

“Father, I know you are a WOW God and nothing normal is about you. Thank you for wanting to do extraordinary things through me on Earth. After you created the heaven and earth, you probably thought WOW.1 After you thought of every person, you probably said WOW.2 Give me the wisdom and confidence to use my WOW factor for your glory. I pray that you reveal each person’s WOW factor and they have the strength to live outside of normal. I’m forever in awe of your power. Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog! Next, I’ll be discussing how I broke the mentality of what work looks like.

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Meredith Kaltenecker, blog editor

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Genesis: 2:1-2]
2. [Jeremiah 29:11]

My Vision

It’s 2017.. the KKK claim they are a Christian Organization, Donald Trump is President-Elect, and the Black Lives Matter movement is going strong. While understanding the world I live in, I envision God using Ugly Cry Unfiltered to bring hope to all people.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28 (NIV)

My crazy big God has given me a crazy big mission! Now that I’ve accepted the call, I need to be developed. Ugly Cry Unfiltered is my ministry development platform to help break cycles of poverty through service, empowerment, embracement and exposure while armed with God’s love and wisdom.

Even while it’s being developed, I envision God doing amazing things through my ministry. I pray that through my blogs and hands-on missional projects, people will benefit in the following ways:

Improve Life-Work Balance

It’s 2017 and the Black Lives Matter movement is still going strong. Meaning that as an African-American today, I have to make a point to tell the people, who are supposed to protect and serve me, not to kill me. Yet there is no such thing as Life-Work Balance! The term used is Work-Life Balance (isn’t work apart of life? and which one is more important?). I believe this term further supports the reality that an individual’s life (especially minorities), either don’t matter at work or is second to work. I’m exposing the factors that keep us from prospering at work. I pray people are empowered to know, love and be themselves at work. I pray employers understand the importance of embracing people with the intention to know, understand and accept them. Read my blog series on Life-Work Balance here

Delay Negative Judgement

It’s 2017 and President-Elect, Donald Trump, heavily campaigned with negative stereotypes. It may be a natural human characteristic to judge. However, I pray my ministry will help individuals grow in areas that force them to think before they judge. When we don’t know ourselves, don’t love ourselves, and aren’t encouraged to be ourselves, judgment is in the midst. Through sharing my testimony, I aim to empower you to know, love, and be who you are. I simultaneously and intentionally break down any barriers so I can know, understand, and unconditionally love you. Read my latest blog here.

Increase Church Integration (Ethnic and Cultural)

It’s 2017 and the KKK claim they are a Christian organization. That’s an extreme example, but I believe the racial divide in this country is greater than the religious one. Meaning I’m more comfortable with my ‘sista’ than my ‘sister in Christ’. I pray my ministry will provide guidance to help the Body of Christ leave this comfort zone and become a better reflection of heaven on earth. Read my comfort zone blogs here.

This is not an all-inclusive list. However, I pray this will give you a better understanding of what I hope to achieve with my ministry. My vision is located in the About Me section of my website and will be updated as God gives me more direction as the year progresses. I invite you to explore my website and follow me on social media at @UCUnfiltered.

Do you think my Ugly Cry Unfiltered vision will encourage someone else? Hit the share button below and send this page to a friend!

I would love to hear what you think of my vision! Leave a comment below or send me an email,

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

How The Dominican Republic Uniquely Equipped Me

Blog Sub-Category: Unique Qualifications
6 minute read

After graduating from a community college and transferring to The University of Akron, I was determined to take advantage of every opportunity I was given. So when the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time with International Student Volunteers (ISV) in 2013 arose, I took it!

ISV’s mission is to support sustainable development initiatives around the world through life-changing student volunteer and responsible adventure travel programs designed to positively change our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.

After only spending two weeks in the Dominican Republic (DR), I’ll definitely say mission complete! Reflecting back on my experience three years later, I can clearly see how it has shaped me for my purpose today. Here are..

5 Ways ISV Uniquely Equipped Me For My Mission

1. First Hands-On Civil Engineering Experience

ISV has several different volunteer projects that encompass their mission. I specifically chose the DR project because it was infrastructure development. After learning carpentry in high school and at the time pursuing a degree in civil engineering, I was excited to build anything. Half of my project assignment consisted of exactly what I learned in school the following semester: how to mix and lay concrete (see pictures below)! I went from doing physically intensive labor every other day in the DR to using advanced concrete mixing and testing equipment in my materials lab class a few weeks later. After seeing first hand what my skills could do, I was motivated to learn in the classroom and graduate.

2. American Privilege Awareness

I may not know what white privilege feels like, but I have AMERICAN PRIVILEGE. While in the DR, a developing country, I realized certain things I will never have to worry about simply because I was born in America. In America, I don’t have to worry about living on mud when it rains. In the DR, I installed concrete floors in floorless homes made out of poorly constructed plywood. In America, I don’t need to learn another language in order to have a good life. In the DR, a Spanish speaking country, I helped teach kids English without being required to know Spanish at all. The American Privilege list goes on. The author of this blog about American Privilege listed some more common indicators.

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3. My Gift Can Save Lives and Prevent Sickness

As a teenager, I desired to volunteer in my community and help those in need. All through college, I would give vague answers when asked what type of civil engineering I wanted to do. The truth is I don’t care what type of engineering I do, I care if I’m making a positive impact in the community. While in the DR, I saw first-hand that my engineering skills could literally prevent sickness and death. For towns with no access to clean drinking water, I could design a well. For farmers who can’t import food to a town because it’s inaccessible, I could design a road. For towns in need of a medical center to safely practice medicine, I could design a building. When I left the DR I knew my gift was way more valuable than a paycheck.

4. Invaluable Cross-Cultural Experience

Traveling like a local creates a unique opportunity to learn life through the eyes of another. My DR experience not only made me more aware of my privilege, but I also learned how to love without judging people for their differences. Now everywhere I travel I skip the fancy hotels (most times I can’t afford it anyways) and immerse myself in the culture so I don’t miss a chance to learn something new. Exposure to different things has allowed me to confidently understand who I am while respecting others for who they are.

5. Cup Upgrade

In Spring of 2014, I served in every student organization I could. By the end of the semester, I received praise for my leadership, but I was mentally depleted. I failed two classes and was put on academic probation. That’s when I officially decided I wasn’t going to try to ‘pour from an empty cup’. Even though I desired to mentor others throughout life, I had to be confident in my own abilities before doing so.

Fast forward to a couple days after God revealed my purpose in life at the Engineering Ministries International 2016 Conference. I barely ate, slept or talked to anyone because God was constantly filling me up with the wisdom and confidence to minister to others. During this time God told me my cup was no longer empty! Excited, I went to the kitchen and asked God to show me what He was doing in me. I grabbed a cup from the cupboard and put it under the running faucet. I let it run well past the point of overflow. As I looked at the wasted water go down the drain, I knew something wasn’t right. The past two days I hadn’t poured into anyone what God poured into me. As if I was overwhelmed, the water overflow represented excess that couldn’t fit inside me. I KNOW what being overwhelmed felt like, and that was not the case. It was clear that God had increased my capacity. I figured I must have a bigger cup! I went back to the cupboard to repeat the exercise with a distinctively larger cup. The first cup I found was the ONLY souvenir I kept from the DR. In the simplest way, God told me He increased my capacity three years ago and I’m just now realizing it. I immediately took a picture of my cup upgrade and Ugly Cried.

DR Cup - Edited.jpg

Once my ministry is up and running, I will have resources that will help people from oppressed communities volunteer abroad. I believe these cross-cultural experiences are beneficial for understanding why the world is divided and will help restore hope and gratitude to everyone involved.

My Prayer:

“Father God, thank you for having a plan for me even before I can see and understand it.1 I thank you for providing a way for me to go to the DR and allowing me to gain such an invaluable experience. I know everything you do is for a purpose and nothing happens by chance. Thank you for increasing my capacity and granting me the desires of my heart to help underserved and oppressed groups of this world. I’m forever in awe of your wisdom. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog! On January 1st, I’ll be sharing my vision for this ministry for 2017. Happy New Year!

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Meredith Kaltenecker, blog editor

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Jeremiah 29:11]

Misunderstanding Value In The Workplace

If I go to work without confidently knowing my self-worth, I may believe my worth is in my work.

Blog Sub-Category: Breaking Cycles
Part 1 of My Struggle to Life-Work Balance Series
6 minute read

The concept of value (which I will occasionally interchange with worth) is the most important yet complicated part of this series. Even though this was one of the last things I completely understood, I hope it’s not for my readers.

About two years ago I received my first full-time civil engineering offer. My title was Nuclear Engineer II and my salary was more than my mother makes as a registered nurse with 16 years experience. I knew when I received the offer I wasn’t going to take it. However, I took several days to let it soak in. I called my parents, posted on social media, and even asked school advisers if I should negotiate the offer. That week I felt more important and valuable than I ever had before. That week I clearly confused my work-value with my self-value.


When I think of my work-value (how much I’m worth in the workplace), some things that come to mind are my resume, salary, net worth, position, and power. These are some tools that people use to identify and measure my work-value. Work-value is normally contingent upon what work a person does and the demand of said work. Clearly, Beyonce has a higher work-value than I do.


The self-value I’m talking about has nothing to do with my work-value. As I searched for universally accepted tools to identify self-worth, the best thing I could come up with are core values. Core values are great and I believe every person and business should have them. Personally, they are my favorite discussion topic during an interview. However, I know my self-value goes even deeper than my core values.

If I go to work without confidently knowing my self-worth, I may believe my worth is in my work.

To attain Life-Work balance, I had to not only understand both my self-value and work-value, I couldn’t confuse the two like I did so easily in college. Here are..

3 Things That Helped Me Understand My Value In The Workplace

1. My self-value is rooted in Christ

My self-value stems from understanding my identity in Christ, not engineering. Since engineering is a valuable skill, I have to renew my mind daily to remember it is only part of my unique qualifications. Engineering is a gift that gives me unique opportunities to be used by Christ.1 God helped me understand this through a sermon at One Church Los Angeles called: You Are Not Your Gift.2

Even though I knew God, I didn’t fully value myself like God values me. I was living with identity issues mainly because I was uncertain how my design (i.e. my race, gender, and upbringing) was a part of my purpose. I will discuss how I came to understand my self-value as I cover more Unique Design blogs. For now, I will reference some material below that significantly helped me identify my worth in Christ.3,4

2. Pay doesn’t equal value and respect

As a woman entering an industry dominated by men, it’s easy for me to jump on the feminism bandwagon and demand equal pay as men. However, as I understand my value more, demanding equal pay isn’t the approach I want someone else to value me. In my intro blog, do you remember what I said about the work environment conducive to personal success?  “.. an environment where I am valued and respected for who I am.” Most feminism would just slap a period after valued and demand a promotion/pay increase. Not me. I believe God created all mankind in His image and likeness and he values every person on earth the same.5 I’m interested in (or creating) work environments that respect and value each person for who they are. I believe that the companies that understand and respect people for their differences, will naturally convert that value to wages appropriately. I have no interest in working for a company that is forced to like me. I wouldn’t want a husband or serve a God who is forced to love me. So I’m not settling in the workplace either.

3. My work-value is based off my resume

In order to get my work-value right, not only does an employer need to respect me, they also must consider my skills and experience. Most employers won’t pay me my true work-value, but rather the value of the work they employ me to do. From a business standpoint, I get that. However, as I move through my career I must understand what I’ve learned from my experiences and be able to communicate that and potential value to an employer.

No one taught me work-value better than the CEO of a small project management company I met in Los Angeles at a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) event. She is an African-American business owner, wife, and mother who desires to honor God in every aspect of life. She instantly became a role model. She temporarily hired me for two separate projects; both only lasted a few weeks. All she needed me to do was organize and format information in Microsoft Office and ensure she addressed all the proposal requirements. This woman paid me like an engineer to basically be her assistant. When she sent me the offer letter, I thought for sure she made a mistake. She did not. She made it very clear to me that since I had a degree in engineering, and she wanted to hire me, she was going to pay me what I was worth (not what the job was worth). Mind blown.

My Prayer

“Father God, please help me as I strive to live out my mission to end cycles of poverty through empowerment, embracement, exposure, and service. I pray this blog empowers readers to know, love and be themselves in the workplace. God help us value ourselves like you value us. Give us the wisdom to know how our experiences qualify us for other opportunities. Thank you for setting the standard on love and giving us the choice to love you with our whole hearts. Thank you for knowing and loving us before we even knew and loved ourselves. I’m forever in awe of who You are. Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog! The next part of my life-work balance series will be published next Thursday (1/5/17). Wishing you a Happy New Year and prosperous 2017!

  • Follow me on social media @UCUnfiltered
  • Browse my website and read my first two blogs:
  • An awesome way to join/support my mission is to become a Blog Review Crew member! Click here for more information and how to sign up.

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Meredith Kaltenecker, blog editor

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Proverbs 18:16]
5. [Genesis 1:27]

Self-Value References

2. [You Are Not Your Gift by Ebenezer Quaye]
3. [Joyce Meyers’s The Confident Woman Devotional]
4. [A Woman’s Worth by Joshua Eze]