Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ten years ago....December 31, 2000

Ten years ago was the best celebration of the end of the year I've ever experienced. My friend Kim and I brought in the new year with 19,000 other people in Urbana, Illinois at the Urbana 2000 Missions and Worship Conference. Few words describe worshipping with 19,000 people from all over the world and singing "Crown Him with Many Crowns" when the clock turned midnight. I would like to think that it was a small picture of what heaven will be like someday.
That weekend was life changing. I made a commitment to going wherever the Lord would send me and little did I know what the next ten years of my life would hold or where He would bring me. That weekend both Kim and I connected with a ministry called Carpenters Tools International. Little did we know where the Lord would bring us. ...

The following summer we both traveled on summer music missions teams and ministered to youth in Uganda (Kim) and Ukraine/Slovakia (myself). We gave concerts in orphanages, youth camps, churches and even to a prison in Ukraine where no ministries or organizations had been allowed to visit prior to our group.

A year later I graduated from college and took my two 50 pound suitcases to the Dominican Republic for my first teaching job--4th grade. Little did I know that I would spend four years of my life there and develop friendships with many Dominican and Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ. I now have a second family in the DR--with a 'niece' and 'nephew' who will graduate from high school in a few years. (both were my students in fourth grade..)

After four years in another country, I moved to Minneapolis and took another 4th grade teaching job. Coincidentally and providentially, God brought a Dominican pastor and his family to Minneapolis the same time that I moved there. And they happened to be a family from the same church that my family in the DR attends. Little did I know that two years down the road, I would be teaching their son at a different school.

After two years teaching fourth grade, I moved to an inner city school and began teaching 5th grade. I missed having diversity and other cultures at my other school and desired to be in the inner city setting. While this job has its challenges, I can honestly say that I love my job and it has caused me to depend on the Lord for strength everyday.

Little did I know that a year later I would move into one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the US with over 100 different languages spoken. My home is within a mile of my school and a mile or two from church.

As I was running today, for some reason I started thinking about Urbana again. I thought about all the missions organizations that were there, the speakers, the videos, and the worship. I loved the worship! The past few weeks have been interesting because it seems that the Lord has been putting global missions on my heart and reminding me to pray for the nations of the world. I still continue to read the book "A Hole in our Gospel" and am challenged by it. I often smile at how the Lord seems to weave conversations and people together at just the right time. Last week I had coffee with a friend and his wife who are involved in missions in Egypt and Africa. This week I have been communicating more with one of my friends (and former roommate in the DR) who has been serving in Sudan and I also got an update from my friend who is doing Bible translating work with Wycliffe in Chad.

When I was home for Christmas, I spent several hours one evening talking with good friends from high school, one of whom just was in Liberia for a few weeks. I love talking with them because they are very passionate about missions, ministry, and the Lord. I am curious to see if, how, and when the Lord brings them back to Liberia again. (Maybe next time I will go too..)

And this week I talked with my family in the DR. I used to go to their house every Tuesday for dinner and prayer. I miss that and I miss them. Perhaps a visit there soon would be good!

All this being said, the Lord's desire is for nations to come together in worship of Him. He longs for us to pray for the nations of the world, to be open to His work, and praise His name. The theme for Urbana 2000 was this:
Psalm 117:
Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

So as 2011 approaches, I am praying that the Lord would be praised around the world, that nations would come together in worship, and that I would have a heavenly perspective/vision of the world.

So join with me in praying for the nations and many missionaries around the world:

For brothers and sisters in Christ in Ukraine and Slovakia
For friends and family in the DR
For Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ
For my friend Larissa and her work in Sudan
For Joey and the people in Chad
For the mission work of Engineering Ministries International
For my good friends Kelly and April Crull and their church plant in Madrid, Spain
For Liberia and the orphanage and church there
For missionary friends in the DR working with Young Life
For the work of World Vision in Africa and around the world
For my friend Josh Davis and Proskuneo Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia

There is much to pray for...Who but the LORD knows what the year 2011 will hold!
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Somebody Else's Kids

It's Christmas break. I've spent the last few days on the couch with a nasty cold. But also spent the last few days doing a lot of reading. Some friends of mine have been reading the book The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns and mentioned how much it had challenged them. Coincidently, Richard is the current president of World Vision. So I picked it up and so far have been captivated by his stories and his questions of What does God expect of us? and What does it mean for God's kingdom to come?

To quote Stearns from a chapter I read today, "If we are honest with ourselves, we must simply admit that we have less empathy for people of other cultures living in faraway countries that we do for Americans. Our compassion for others seems to be directly related to whether people are close to us socially, economically, culturally, ethnically, emotionally, and geographically. But why do we distinguish the value of one human life from another? Why is it so easy to shut out the cries of these dying foreign children from our ears?"

These are somebody else's kids.

Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, prayed, "Let my heart my broken by the things that break the heart of God." In other words, may we care as God cares and love as God loves.

Reading this book brings me back to the Dominican Republic.

Living in the Dominican Republic changed how I viewed myself, the church body, and the world. I saw how large the body of Christ is and how beautiful it is to worship in another language/culture. I developed a better understanding of selflessness and the importance of enjoying people. I also was awakened to the reality of poverty and the injustice of the large gaps between the rich and the poor around the world.

Some of my favorite memories of the DR were visiting orphanages, bringing toys to kids in the barrio with my friend Bielka, delivering food to Haitian bateyes with local missionaries at Christmas time, and doing kids clubs with other teachers on the weekends. There were so many needs, so many kids and all many of them wanted was a little love and a hug.

These were somebody else's kids.

Now I come back to Santiaguito. I think he has a beautiful smile as all Dominican kids do! Santiaguito lives with his mother, 2 brothers, and 3 sisters. His mother is a housewife and struggles to provide for the family. They live in an area southwest of Santiago, the city were I lived. Their community has been affected by HIV and AIDS. Money that comes to support Santiaguito will meet his needs and also help with prevention and care programs in his community.

Santiaguito is someone else's kid.

There are lots of "somebody else's kids" out there.

"And if anyone gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

If you are looking for a good read, pick up the book---A Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.
At the end of the book, it gives lots of suggestions of ways to help World Vision or to serve and reach out to the poor around the world.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meet Santiaguito

It is now the dead of winter. Our last posts were from September before our marathon. It doesn't seem real that I ran 26.2 miles in October. All that training, all those miles and long runs and's over. It was definitely the hardest race I have ever run but well worth it. I know that now somewhere in Africa several villages will have access to clean water because of all the money that was raised through World Vision and the marathon.

Now another type of training has begun for a shorter race. This time with a different purpose--for one person-- a young man named Santiaguito. Santiaguito is 10. He lives in the Dominican Republic. He loves math and baseball. I would imagine that he plays baseball with a stick and a bottle cap with other boys in his community. Many Dominican boys love baseball and that's how they start to play. Santiaguito lives in a community that has been severely affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis. Because I used to live in the Dominican Republic, I have a special love for Santiaguito and this community.

In January, I will be running a half marathon in Phoenix with World Vision in honor of Santiaguito. By running that day, I will help to provide clean water, food, health care, and economic opportunity for Santiaguito and his community.

"And Jesus took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." Mark 10:16

Please join me in praying for Santiaguito and others who are being affected by the HIV/AIDS Crisis around the world.
If you are looking for alternative Christmas gifts, go to and search for their Gift Catalog.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mom, I'm only going to have one meltdown this week..

And I'm saving that one for Thursday night, just so you know

Duly noted. Thank you for the advance warning, if only we all could be so regulated. I expect a periodic meltdown from a kid taking 3 AP classes, pre calc, spanish 4x and international foods. Certainly it's the food class that sends her over the edge. Add to that a strenuous marching band schedule, a part time job working for her dad and nurturing her first teen romance and I'd say the kid has a lot on her plate. What else could I expect from a kid with remarkably diverse tastes?

My main concern is that she doesn't limit her meltdowns for my sake. A primary driver in my constitution is that my kids not take on responsibility for my emotional health. In other words, I don't expect my kids to carry the burdens of my soul. This is not to say that I won't share how I am doing, or be authentic with them, but rather, I won't hold them responsible for how I feel and I certainly hope to not hold their emotions hostage by my crises.

I tend to be one of those people who think about how they feel. For instance, I might begin a sentence with "I think I'm feeling sad today about..." and these sentences appear after several days of rumination. In contrast my hubby is one of those folks who feel their thoughts, generally out loud, and might begin a sentence with "I feel like (insert fact)...." and his sentence appears within a brief moment from the origination of the thought. He thinks out loud and works things out accordingly. I think in the deep, wide spaces o
f my mind. In this way we are remarkably compatible and remarkably incompatible depending on the day. I'm thankful for "broad shoulders" as I have 3 external thinker/emoters in my family and on any given day that can mean a lot of life to support. I find it no surprise that two of my closest friends are internal like me.

Last week the weight of my world pressed hard. I find it little coincidence that I separated my shoulder. More specifically my clavicle separated from it's A/C joint and one of my rotator cuff muscles decided to impinge. Most specifically, that hurt like hell. Three days of Vicatin nights to sleep. I took a long hard thinking walk, did some corrective exercises and all is better now. It's amazing to me how our bodies are created to know how to heal themselves. The best solution to my impingement was sleeping with my arm extended back over my head, which allowed the muscles to relax and return to their rightful position. I went for what felt good, and low and behold, it was right.

"Mom, I've had a lot of warnings, don't you think it's about time?" Well, given your size 10 feet and your size small frame, I think you have one last growth spurt to go before "IT's TIME". Are you ready, are you scared, do you have a supply of products in your locker in case you start at school? This one is a little slower to grow up and that is just fine by me, although she is "star struck" by one boy in particular and is planning her high school enrollment around where he might attend. I have become an advocate of the return of marrying them off at 14. Sort of. But really? I don't recall planning my life around Boy X. Perhaps this is because Boy X didn't come around til a bit later. I remember pre teen conversations about who had kissed who and who held whose hand, and it was all meaningless for the most part. In the crowd my oldest runs with they aren't dating until they are juniors, only holding hands for months and contemplating a first kiss for a very long time. In the age of one night stands and casual hook ups they are taking their stand and being counter cultural. I kind of like that. No, I really like that.

Did you know that every time a woman engages in physical intimacy she secretes the same hormone that is released when she nurses with and bonds to her baby? Did you know that one of the major causes of suicidal depression in college age girls is frequency of sexual partners. So, girls who should have the entire world as an oyster are wanting to cash it all in because their bodies are wacked out from sleeping around. I say give yourself the absolute best shot at living your hopes and dreams, the world around you is waiting.

****News Flash***** apparently Thursday's meltdown arrived a day early. Oh boy.

At least the general grounding of The Tribe from all forms of media concluded today. I suffer under the delusion that a 14, 12 and 10 year old should be able to survey the room around them and find it unacceptable to sit on a pile of unfolded clothes with dirty dishes and chip bags strewn around, watching television. I apparently also suffer under the delusion that I should be allowed to go one night a week to class for the betterment of my psyche and return home with the dinner dishes cleaned up, the counters wiped and the food put away. I am hopeful that a 48 hour ban from television and computer time might move us closer to agreement on the domestic front.

As long as we are on the topic of things that tax me mentally, we might as well throw in the delusion that it was a good idea to return to school after an 18 year hiatus and attempt to learn the dead language of Koine Greek. Had I realized this required learning a new alphabet where an R is a P an N is an E and a V is an N and three of the letters aren't letters at all but really sounds, I might have thought twice. Had I known that the second session would entail reading this new language out loud for the enrichment of the entire class I certainly would have reconsidered. I'm reasonably certain that I so tortured my share of the dissertation that the Apostle John himself rolled in his grave so violently that the earth quaked. My apologies Los Angeles. I had no intention of opening the fires of hell upon you these last few days. I will study this week. That or I'll make a point of sitting by the Korean gal who is trying to learn a third language in a second language. My class is quite a collection of characters, I'll try to report more later.

For now it's time to oversee homework, pick up from youth group and spend some quality time with the spouse.

Realizing none of this has anything at all to do with running or children in Africa or marathons, just endurance. What do you expect? It is taper week!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Running the Race

In two weeks, I hope to run my first marathon. I'm starting to get a little nervous, but mostly because I've been having some trouble with my right knee hurting the last few runs. Hopefully some tender loving care and rest will bring some healing.

One of my all time favorite passages in the Bible is Hebrews 11 and 12. Hebrews 12:1-2 says:
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I love this image. We are all on a race, a journey leading towards heaven. There are lots of witnesses and encouragers along the way. We are commanded to run and persevere, to throw off all that hinders us and FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS. Often when I am running these verses come to mind. Fixing my eyes on Jesus--what does that look like daily? I see it as reminding myself of God's grace, keeping an eternal perspective, persevering in love and joy, and peppering my day with prayer. May that be my focus on this marathon race of life!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting by with a little help from some friends

I, like many of you grew up in the era where the power of a picture on a television screen became every kid who didn't want to eat his vegetables worst nightmare. You need to eat that, there are starving children in ______ (fill in country of choice) The late night pictures of bloated bellies and emaciated children was generally daunting to me, and remains so to this day. In reality, there is no universal solution to the turmoil of the third world, there will always be impoverished conditions, there will always be corrupt governments and there will always be starving children and that is frustrating. It feels too big. I don't mind big, but like any challenge, I need to break it down into manageable chunks. A marathon is never 26.2 miles. It's four 6.5 mile runs in a row. An Ironman isn't 140.6 miles, it's 22 buoys, four 28 mile bike rides, and four 6.5 mile runs. Sometimes a marathon is 26 aid stations, conveniently spread 1 mile apart. And so on.

To me there has to be a way to make a colossal problem manageable.

A few years back I was part of a small congregation that pooled every man, woman and child's resources and purchased a bore hole for Naygobia, Uganda. The clean source of water was a welcome relief to the town. However, confusion ruled as, generally if a group digs a well it belongs to the group. But this well was sponsored by the church for the benefit of the entire town. One muslim man was so impressed that he donated a piece of land so that we could build a medical center. Out came the little soup cans again, and a few months later a medical center was built and stocked, one brick and one band-aid at at a time. The medical center led to a sewing center (to teach young women a trade) which led to uniforms for orphans to go to school, which led to a school being built by the carpentry center (to teach young men a trade) and the village was transformed. Now, they are a network of 3 villages which share resources and information. It all started with the fresh water of one bore hole. You can read the story here.

The colossal problems of one HIV infected, war torn, impoverished village in Uganda were broken down into manageable pieces and a small group of simple folks gave their coffee money, and their dinner money and their hearts to bring about change. A bond of friendship has formed over these years between the folks in Uganda and the folks in St. Louis Park, MN and that to me is truly the greatest part.

Big problems take smart, compassion driven solutions. So here is one possibility for you, my friends.

As a trainer at the Y, I can take the $60 ish dollars I'd earn training three clients for an hour and put it into my World Vision fund. But, what if, instead of adding $60 I raffled off three-60 minute training sessions to be used for Personal Training or Pilates Reformer sessions with me? I can multiply my resources.

So, if you want to help dig the bore hole, please consider buying raffle tickets! Each ticket costs $10. The winner will receive a PT package of 3, one hour sessions to be used at the Ridgedale YMCA (in home training is a possibiltiy) The winner does not need to be a member of the YMCA and the package can be given as a gift to a friend or relative. Just click on the link by my "Beautiful Feet" and mention raffle tickets in the memo section of your donation

The raffle will be held Sept 15th. But buy early, if I see sufficient interest, we may be adding additional prizes to the pool.

Thanks for your support! Big 20 mile run this weekend--whoo hoo 20 miles

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Shout out to my running buddy

Just wanted to give a shout out to my friend Kari Holmes. If you don't know Kari, you should. She is servant hearted, compassionate, caring, and a go-getter. I first met Kari four years ago when I moved to Minneapolis. She and her daughter Sophia stopped by my classroom as Sophia was going to be in my class that year. I remember that conversation with them because we started talking about the Dominican Republic and of course running. She invited me to a Labor Day party which I thought was very kind because she hardly knew me. That year Kari helped with my computer class and of course I got to know her better because of Sophia. After that year, we and a few other friends ran the Ragnar Relay Race together. When you are in a van with several other people, running on a team with six others for 200 miles, you can't help but get to know each other. Kari's determination, perseverance, leadership and her singing late at night while running in the middle of nowhere were memorable. She has a way of making people feel encouraged, motivated, and loved which I think is why she is a great running friend and trainer.

This week we ran our longest run so far, 18.61 miles :) It wasn't a fast run, in fact we made a lot of stops due to traffic lights, drink breaks, etc, but it felt good to run that far. Well, good to get the miles in, but the muscles definitely hurt afterwards. After we finished, I thought, "Oh my goodness, if I were running the marathon I would still have 8 miles to go" which at the time seemed daunting. But Kari's encouragement that she is confident that I can finish the race put my anxious thoughts at ease.

So thanks Kari. Thanks for bringing me soup when I was sick this week, for listening to me talk for hours during those long runs, for teaching my class the writing lab this year, for doing exercises with us during summer school, for organizing a field trip to the YMCA with my tough class two years ago, for planning and throwing me a 30th birthday party, for encouraging me in running, for Pilates reformer, for spending time with my family, for praying, for sending those Bible saturated emails, for sharing your heart, (and the list goes on...)....Glad to be on this 'journey' with you...excited to see where it leads.

Here's to the kids!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Someone should be fired

The other day my boys were sharing a sucker by licking it 20 times then handing it to the other for 20 licks, and back and forth it went. I wasn't sure if I should be impressed or completely grossed out. I'll take it as a sign of maturity.

Harley is now mature because he weighs enough to turn on the airbag of
the passenger seat in my friend's car. Anyone who knows Harley understands that airbag deployment and spontaneous combustion are mutually assured. As the youngest he is well acquainted with the view from the back seat. It will be 7 years before he has access to exclusive priority seating, barring any of his siblings ascent from college to the basement. He is the type of kid that will patiently dream about his day of total household domination, and plan what he will do with each of the one thousand ninety five days that it is his. His singular current priority would be to cut of the soda supply from anyone who annoyingly screetches in his ear, followed closely by banishment to exile for anyone who destroys one of his lego creations. As far as destruction goes, he is the only one allowed to bring a tornado, followed by a hurricane followed by an F5 tornado followed by a flood, to one of his Lego empires. Imagine my relief that the concept of volcano has not breached the realm of his destructive fantasy. I believe wood floors are impervious to just about anything but molten, melted legos. My feet however, are not impervious to fully intact, painfully square Legos. Which prompted Brian, watching me prepare for church to comment:

"Michael Caine is really making a comeback in movies"

As our previous conversation held no allusions to theater, I awaited his explanation. You know, "Inception, The Dark Knight, Miss Congeniality.."

I am not duck walking, I am avoiding Legos.

For the record, the American who coined the term "bonking" to describe the aerobically induced depletion of glucose flowing to the brain which leads to impaired athletic performance really needed to do a cross check of the global lexicon before I used the term 18 times in my instruction to my British client who is running his first half marathon for World Vision. Blah blah blah, bonk, blah blah, bonk, I prattled on, finally noticing a quizzical look engulfing his face. "You've heard of the term "bonking" haven't you?" "Yes. But it has a slightly different connotation in English." Someone should be fired.

"What are we doing today?"

We are going to a picnic at a friend's lake.

"Who is going to be there?"

So and so, and so and so.

"Oh awesome! We love homeschool picnics. They have great food, it's the best. Yea, that's because they have more time."

I hear the sound of our television being thrown out the window and rolling down the hill into the graveyard pile of "hey look, now you have more time."

Training for Twin Cities Marathon is going well, the miles are adding up and anticipation is growing. If you haven't done so already, please consider throwing a few bucks into my fundraising bucket. It means a lot to me to know that we can help at least one village have access to fresh drinking water. Step by step, dollar by dollar we can reach my goal.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gozo (Joy)

Running seems to be my deep thinking time. Often when I am running, lesson plans, songs, or other ideas are created. It can also be my God and me talk and pray it out time. Today was one of those runs. I woke up this morning with my friend Nikki Lerner's song in my head:

You are my shepherd, please take my hand and lead me through
You are my shepherd, no one can fill my like you do
Lead me, guide me, let my cup overflow with more of you.

As I ran today and listened to that song, a poem that I used in class with my 5th graders this year came to mind. It's called Welcome Morning by Anne Sexton. It's theme is finding joy in all. We used it to create our own poems. Here is my rendition:

There is joy in all,
in the cry of a baby in the morning,
in the smell of coffee brewing,
in the sun peering through the clouds,
in the smooth as glass water in the bay,
There is joy in all.

There is joy in all,
in the shooting star that soars across the sunset sky,
in the double rainbow during the pouring rain,
in the moonlit boat ride across the lake,
in the yellow flowers growing out of the canal,
there is joy in all.

There is joy in all,
in spending time with friends,
in hearing Harley Holmes say, "I feel accomplished" after conquering his fear of jumping in the water,
in watching Wyatt Holmes try to ski,
in listening to Sophia Holmes scream as she runs into the water,
in running with Kari Holmes on my normal Lake Okoboji route.
There is joy in all.

There is joy in all,
in watching my parents be grandparents,
in seeing family I haven't seen in a long time,
in observing how much my sister and brother in law love their little daughter,
in being an auntie,
There is joy in all.

All this is God,
right here in this cabin at Lake Okoboji,
and though I often forget to say thanks and worship with rejoicing,
today I am full of joy for this morning.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank you for this God, for the joy and the laughter of the morning.

For the joy that isn't shared, I've heard, dies young.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The (not so) lazy days of summer

I love the leisurely days of summer. No firm schedules outside of work and rec, no homework and a lot less rush. It's also a time for me to connect at an easier pace with my kids who are departing my house at 2, 5, 6 and 9 year intervals; an ominous fact with which to bait mom. Apparently they've never seen my countdown calender
All kidding aside, I really do love the extra time with my Tribe and I've learned quite a bit just by listening to them chatter as we move from place to place. For instance, a car loaded with 3-13 year old girls and a 17 year year old can come up with 487 adjectives that appropriately attach to the word "butt" in the time it takes to drive from Duluth to Two Harbors. I had no idea they could be so verbose about a single body part. My 10 year old boy on the other hand is a bit more mature as he has hit puberty at full stride. He knows this because he is thirsty all the time and he has underarm hair. I suggested he get a drink and take a
shower and suddenly he is my little guy once again. My somewhat antisocial 12 year old gets his first cell phone and suddenly he is being dropped off at the mall at regular intervals to hang out with friends. Ma Bell would be proud. Trimama would just be plain confused. And this is not the only confusion in the household of late. My 17 year old can blow by and knock down girls twice her size on the rugby pitch, ace her AP US History exam, and yet lives in mortal fear of taking her driving test in the off chance that she won't pass it on the first try. Apparently every person in her known universe passes the test on the first try. She must not have chatted with her Aunt Chris. Avocado is best when perfectly cubed, water is best when drank from a hose, the next door neighbor boys are the best opponents in a water fight as they always buy ice cream when they lose, and they seem to lose a lot, and mail order is the best means for purchasing a trampoline because god only knows why, but apparently it would be delivered encased in bubblewrap which comes in handy when you want extra protection against falling. Ice cream is the best dinner, chocolate brownies are the best breakfast and mom working the night to morning shift is the best reason that Dad needs to go to cooking school. Summer is also best for planning non-pending weddings down the the father/daughter dance song, accumulating 15 trillion in Kinz Cash and assaulting the Earth Benders atop a mountain of legos. We really need to get back to the library. Summer has that uncanny way of slowing down and speeding up at the same time. The sunsets linger and the sunrise hastens, the storms chase and the clouds drift, the Tribe grows older and more responsible and then someone starts a war squeezing whip cream down a shirt.

Oh well, I love summer

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Move us with compassion.

Have you ever thought about all the decisions you make in a day? Let's think about this..
Decisions to make in the morning:
--Regular or flavored coffee or for some Caribou, Starbucks or Dunn Brothers
--Toast or oatmeal
--Green shirt, blue shirt, pink shirt...

Have you ever thought about decisions that other people in the world make in a day? Let's take one woman in Africa...
--Blue shirt or blue shirt
--8 hour trip to get water or two 4 hour trips
--Bread or bread

There is a stark contrast between the two. I picked up the book "Hope in the Dark" this week with photography and reflections about Africa. The comparison above was in the book as well as many other striking photos and comments.

"In this world, God has given us the gift of choice. Injustice threatens to take it away. They can drink the filthy, bacteria ridden pond water or drink nothing. Clearly, that is no choice at all."

So how do we respond to the problems in Africa? What should we do?

This week I traveled to Atlanta to Proskuneo Worship Institute (PWI). Proskuneo's mission is to bring nations together in worship and PWI was an opportunity to create, practice, worship, learn, and spend time with the LORD. It was an amazing week. Here are a few reflections:

Discussion on Compassion:
Compassion means to have a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. The Biblical word compassion means to be moved in one's bowels. Take this passage:
Matthew 9
35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Do I have a heart like Jesus to move when I see people in distress? Do I respond with tenderness and hope? Do I want to relieve other people's pain? Do I see people as Jesus sees people? Am I gripped by what is happening in the world?

Sermon video by Crawford Loritts:
The church should be a noble place that represents the priorities of the Kingdom. Develop relationships with people who are not like you. Minister to those who are not like you and allow them to minister to you.

What are the Kingdom priorities? What does it mean for the church to be a noble place? How can I minister to those who aren't like me?

Theology of Worship Session:
No one sees humanity for what it is more than God.
When we truly encounter God, we will see a need and respond to it.

There are many needs. What needs should I respond to?

Kari and I are running this marathon in order to help meet a need for the kids in Africa. We want to help provide clean water for people there. We want to be compassionate towards them, and we want to pray for them. We see them as brothers and sisters in Christ. Will you join us in our efforts?

For more information about Proskuneo Ministries, visit their website:

For more information about the book:

Twenty-five years ago, AIDS was unknown in sub-Saharan Africa. Today it's overwhelmingly the continent's biggest killer. In Hope in the Dark, photojournalist Jeremy Cowart documents the hope and pain of Africa's AIDS generation - a generation beset by poverty and fear, a generation in which children in some countries are more likely to die of AIDS than not. But despite the sickening odds, Cowart captures brief glimpses of beauty, optimism and joy as he makes his way across the continent. Through this collection of startling, remarkable images, his lens uncovers not just the magnitude of the problem, but also the places where God is undeniably present in the midst of it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How many miles does it take?

If you follow Hal Higdons novice marathon plan, here is the number of miles a person will traverse in marathon training. It amounts to 242 "long" day miles, 108 miles of speed workouts, and 75 miles of hill workouts,(425 total miles) 36-40 hours of stretching and Pilates Reformer training to keep muscles healthy and 36-40 hours of cross training to activate non running muscles.

You can help the miles go by easier by helping us in our quest to help kids in Africa, please consider donating today :-)


Monday, July 19, 2010

Lovely Feet

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, and who bring good tidings"

When it comes to feet I am fairly ambivalent about mine. That is, until I lose a marathon toe nail. Then I have a certain pride because I know the struggle, work and triumph that brought this event about.

In the context of beautiful feet though, this hardly merits a mention. Beautiful feet bring good news. Dawn and I ran our first long run on Saturday. 16 hot, sweaty miles. There is little that can be done to keep your nutrition cold on a day like Saturday. So, at mile 11, we toasted each other with our sweaty, hot, water bottles, "for the children". We are running to hopefully bring just a little good news. I imagine the conversation in my house would go something like this.

"Mom, what are we doing today?"
"Well, we are not having dysentery and explosive diarrhea"
"Oh, that rocks?" "But what about the rest of the week?
"As far as I know, we aren't planning for any intestinal worms this week either."
"And, as far as the month goes, nobody in our family is going to die from water borne illnesses"
"So we can play, and go to school and help farm this week?"
"Yes, you can do all those things a kid should be able to do"

One bore hole in Africa can bring a lot of good news.

With every one of your donations, you are joining Dawn and I in growing beautiful feet. Please click the link and help us today.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Phoenix, Arizona. One of the hottest places in the US. It's July 15th. Why visit Phoenix in July? My sister and brother-in-law live in central Phoenix and just had a baby girl, Tessa. She's adorable and I am not at all biased.

Yesterday I woke up and checked the temperature at 8 am. 98 degrees. I wanted to go for a run and thought well at least it's under 100. The high for the day was predicted to be 110 and today 115 degrees. The news had little blurbs about drinking enough water especially if you are out exercising. So I drank a few glasses of water and headed out the door. I told my sister that I would probably be back sooner than later.

It felt hot, but not horrible. In fact, I felt pretty good. Not many people were out exercising, just a few. I ran through the neighborhood and towards Camelback Mountain. I was hoping to do some speed work, so I decided if there was any shade, I would attempt to sprint for a block or so. I did, but of course there really wasn't that much shade. As I ran, the heat started to slow me down and the attempts to sprint ceased. Not a good day for speed work. After about 30 minutes, I jogged back to the house. All I wanted was a cold glass of water. I went inside, went to the cupboard, pulled out a glass, filled it with water, and drank it down. And then repeated the process. I wanted cold water, and I got it within a matter of seconds.

When I was living in the DR, I began to drink a lot of water. If I wouldn't, I would get really bad headaches. We would buy three botellons of water (like the Culligan bottles) about once a week and haul them up three flights of stairs. At first, I didn't really like changing the bottles because a third of the water would end up on me or on the counter as I changed it, but after some practice I got good at it. Drinking water wasn't just available in the faucet like many of us are used to. Neither was water always available for showering or for flushing the toilet. There would be times where we had to fill water into buckets for showering or go without a shower, or wait several hours for the water to come back on. After a three day hiking trip, all I wanted to do was to take a shower. But alas, the water was not on when we got back, so the shower had to wait. Another time the owner of our apartment building decided to shut all the water off in all the apartments so that everyone would come to a meeting. It worked. Most people showed up and after the meeting, the water was turned back on.

Water, no one can survive long without it.
Did you know:
884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people.
The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.
More people in the world have cell phones than access to a toilet.
n the developing world, 24,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea contracted from unclean water.
At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
Investment in drinking-water and sanitation would result in 272 million more school attendance days a year. The value of deaths averted, based on discounted future earnings, would amount to US$ 3.6 billion a year.

(Information taken from

We use water numerous times each day. We all need it, but it doesn't seem fair that many people do not have access to it. If you would like to help, contact Kari or I. We run for Africa!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Puzzle Pieces

Porque estas corriendo con World Vision? Why am I running with World Vision?

I'm not very good at being still. In fact earlier this year, I had a running/skiing injury that forced me to wear a stylish boot on my foot and my friend's comment was: "Guess now you really have to just rest and be still." She was right. Being still caused me to be a bit more reflective. I didn't like it, but I do think that God wanted me to remember Him, rely on Him, and reflect on His faithfulness in all the events and details of my life including injury. Oddly enough, all the injuries I have had over the years have brought me to some low points, but afterwards have brought about change, growth, and a greater understanding and love for the Lord's hand in my life.
I see my life as a large puzzle with God putting together the pieces of a much greater and more beautiful picture than I could ever imagine or put together myself. Sharing some of these pieces might help to answer the question of why I am running the Twin Cities Marathon for World Vision and water for Africa.

Piece # 1: Missions and Africa
My sister always told me that she saw me living and teaching in Africa someday. I think mostly because she saw how much I love missions, cultures, and kids. I ended up in the Dominican Republic instead, but I still would like to go there someday.

Piece # 2: Orphans in Mexico
I still remember the first time I ever visited an orphanage. I was in California helping a church do their Bible school for the summer. One day we crossed the border to Tijuana, Mexico to a small pastel green orphanage (the color of choice for many buildings in Latin American countries). I don't remember too many details about that day, but I still have images of those kids in my mind and how happy they were to have people play with them. I really think you can't ever go to an orphanage and not be impacted by it. Those kids desperately want love and affection, and it breaks my heart knowing that there are many kids in this world who are not getting it.

Piece # 3 Orphans in Ukraine
While on a mission trip with a music group, we gave a concert at an orphanage in Ukraine. The room was packed with children from infants to teenagers. During the concert, the kids started dancing to the music. I noticed one little boy dancing his little heart out. He didn't understand the words, but it was obvious he loved the music. So we began to dance with him. I still remember the big smile on his face and his bear hug as we left that night. Kids need to dance, play and be loved wherever they are in the world.

Piece # 4 Dominican Republic
Aah the Dominican Republic. I could tell story upon story of living in that country, but I have several from visiting orphanages there. One year my home church in Iowa collected toys and I brought them to bring to the kids in the DR. My friend Bielka and I went to a poor barrio in Santiago and passed out toys to a line of kids. Those kids might of have had one toy or maybe they played baseball with a stick and a bottle cap, but they didn't have much. I have one picture of a cute little brown eyed boy with his new blue truck. Who knows if he had any other toys in his one or two room home. How many toys do some of the kids in the US have at home?

Piece # 5 Haiti
The streets are sandy and dirty. It's hot. There are few trees, many have been cut down. We walk through the neighborhood. There are some small tin homes, some concrete. We make a left turn towards what looks like a side street. As we walk, the street turns into a dead end. I follow my friend Brian as he descends down some concrete stairs. We keep descending and descending and descending into a community of Haitians living in this concrete village in the middle of Port Au Prince. Everywhere we turn there were people. Half dressed kids pass us and Haitians look at us oddly. I begin to feel very much out of place. We enter into one family's home, a small concrete room. It ia full of people. I'm not sure how many people live there. I wonder where these people got water, went to the bathroom or took a shower. Brian knows some Creole so he starts talking to the people. After a little while, we walk back to the Baptist missionary home we were staying at. We didn't say much as we walked. I keep thinking about what I had just seen and where these people were living. After the earthquake in Haiti, I thought about those people. I wondered how many of them had survived the earthquake, but also how many of them could survive living in their small concrete homes.

Piece # 6 Ethiopia connection
Two of my good friends from growing up adopted a son from Ethiopia a few years ago. I love listening to her stories of traveling to Ethiopia to pick him up and their adventures while they were there. He is a cute kid and I love watching them love him. This year at school I had two Ethiopian students in my class. One was just adopted from Ethiopia a little over a year ago. His younger brother was adopted several years ago and then last year my student was adopted by the same family. He wrote a story about his orphanage, when his brother was adopted and then when he was adopted and reunited with his brother. I cried when I read it and also when I read the story from his adopted parents' perspective. He is doing really well and has a great family. These kids are all getting the love that they need, but there are still many more orphans in Africa.

Why am I running for World Vision?
I am running for Africa--but mostly for the kids. I am running as I remember orphans and the poor around the world. I am running as a reminder that much of the world lives with very little and I have way too much. I am running because more than 2.7 billion people in the world have inadequate or nonexistent to proper sanitation. I am running knowing that when a child has good water it reduces his or her mortality rate by half. I am running because it only takes one person to make a difference in the life a child. I am running because I am a small part of a larger kingdom that God has designed to love and care for each other. I am running because of these 6 puzzle pieces that have helped transform my view of the world. I am running because I love kids, cultures, and missions. That's why I run for World Vision.

"The poor and needy search for water, but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst,
but I the LORD will answer them." Isaiah 41:17-18

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Brownies for Breakfast

"It smells good in here" I announced as I walked in the house; a pleasant revision on, "what's that smell and where is the darn dog? " which is the normal refrain when I enter.

"I made brownies" my 13 year old piped in. "We didn't have anything else to eat in the house". With mom, dad and the 16 year old out for the night, the 13er was in charge.

"You had brownies for dinner?"

"Yep. But we didn't have any milk so it wasn't really like dinner, it was more like a snack."

My American Dietetic Association membership card just spontaneously combusted.

Why we didn't make soup or eggs or mac and cheese I have no idea. I imagine the conversation went something like this. I'm's not home....nothing to eat.....let's have brownies. What else are you going to use these eggs for?

I was still contemplating this logic as I grabbed my meal replacement brownie for breakfast and strolled out to the car in the pre dawn hours. The chocolate goodness worked it's magic as I barely noticed the small tidal wave of water that rolled out my car door and landed on my shoe. The windows were left open and of course it rained most of the night. Apparently it is easier to escape your pursuer when you can go in and out of the windows while playing car tag. Perhaps if you camoflauged yourself as a wet beach towel you’d fair even better, no one would ever find you in the back seat.

I love my children. They are going to make me prematurely gray and wrinkled, but I love em.

And I love that I’ve been given a great country and a good home in which to raise my kids. I love that I can go out and run and come home to brownies for lunch and a game of tag.

My life is simple, difficult at times, but simple.

There are a lot of moms around the world who do not share this luxury, so this time, they are why I run.

Please join me and my running buddy Dawn as we train and raise funds to help the moms and kids in Africa. You know how it works, I have generous friends J Please click the link.

(oh, and secretly join me in hoping to venture to Africa in the near future to visit the kids we are helping-but that’s just between you and me)

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Little Crack--A Lesson in Perseverance

At the beginning of every school year, I tell this story:
Once upon a time there was a girl who desperately wanted to be liked and noticed by other people. When she was in junior high, she participated in several sports but she was a bit height and skill challenged so that was discouraging for her. So her dad encouraged her to try running. They began by running around the block and seemed to take forever. She didn't really like it. But after persevering a little longer, she started to enjoy it and began running longer distances. When she began high school, she tried out for the cross country team. It was a lot of fun even though practices were early in the morning. She ran her first meet--2 miles and it was great! One day she was running, stepped on a rock, and twisted her foot. It hurt, and continued to hurt the rest of the day. So she went to the doctor, and the doctor said, "You have a bruise on your foot. Rest for a few weeks." (I like to include different voices for each character in the story, much more entertaining). So she rested. Then she tried to run the next meet and it still hurt a LOT. So she went back to the doctor and he said, "I'm sorry, I missed a little crack on your bone on your first xray. You have been running on a broken foot." What? The girl was pretty bummed. You see, running and being a part of the team had become really important to her. But, she couldn't run the rest of the season. She had to wear a beautiful shoe that looked like the shoes you wear at the bowling alley. It was supposed to help it heal. Well, do you think she gave up on running? (No from the audience). No, in fact she was determined to run farther and faster the next year. The good thing was that her cheering voice got a lot of use as she still went to all the races with her team that season.

Well, the next summer she ran a lot, almost everyday. It became an obsession. She had to run. She ran a few races that season and then ..... She developed some pain in her leg. So she went to the doctor and the doctor said, "Um, you have a little crack (a demonstration of little is good here) in your bone. You have a stress fracture." Sigh, well actually it was more of an angry reaction this time. What? How could this be happening again? What is going on? Do I need a new pair of shoes again? Seriously. In fact, this girl started to become angry at God. She wanted to find her identity and love in being good at something (running) and being noticed, and her plan wasn't working very well. A good friend of hers was supportive an encouraging and suggested that she go to a retreat with her. So she did, and while she was there, she realized that God loved her and her identity was not in running, or being popular, or having a lot of friends, or getting good grades, but in the fact that she was a child of God. God created her, loved her, and had good plans for her life. God loved her so much that He had His Son die for her sins. It was a life changing weekend. Running was still important to her, but not in the same way.

The next running season she tried again. She trained less, got different shoes again, and didn't go to practice everyday. She ran a few races and then something happened... She went to the doctor and the doctor said, (At this point, the kids notice the pattern...) "You have a little crack in your bone, you have a stress fracture." Ugh, again. But, this time she knew that the Lord was watching over her and had good plans for her even with another injury. The doctor suggested that something might be wrong with her growth or bones because she had so many stress fractures. So she traveled to Mayo Clinic to have some tests done. It was a little bit scary, but she trusted the Lord. At Mayo, she saw lots of doctors and at the end of the day, the doctors said, "Well, we found a little crack in your bone...." No just kidding, they found absolutely nothing! Praise God--it could have been something very serious, but they just thought it was a crazy coincidence that she had three stress fractures three years in a row.
Well then comes senior year of high school--wow time flies! She ran cross country that year, and she ran the whole season. So what do you think this girl learned? Who do you think this girl is? (By this time, they have figured it out..)
"It's you, Miss W!"

Several times throughout the school year kids have come to me at recess said, "Miss W, I think I have a little crack in my bone..." I tell this story because those injuries and trials helped me understand that my identity rests in the Lord. At the retreat, I gave me life to the Lord. Before then, I had the head knowledge but not the heart knowledge of what it means to have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. I tell this story because every single person wants to be noticed, to be someone, to be loved, but every single person out there will not be satisfied or content until he or she understands that identity and true love come from the Lord.

Those little cracks in life are lessons of perseverance. Perhaps they will help you or someone else come closer to the Lord.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Life Means So Much

Chris Rice has a song that is called Life Means So Much. This song and the phrase Seize the Day have been the running through my head for the last few months. Perhaps I am thinking about life more reflectively and intentionally because I turned 30 this year. Or perhaps it was the discussions my 5th grade class had about making each day count. My roommate likes to say, "Life is short." It is. 3 years ago my childhood friend Bonnie passed away after a year battle with cancer. She was 27. She had a tumor removed in October, got married in December, and passed away the following October. Bonnie was very passionate and very ambitious. Every single time I talked to her she challenged me with something. She taught me to ask questions, to dig deeper, to search the Scriptures to find the truth for myself, and to take God out a box and believe He can do much more than I could ever ask or imagine. She taught me to believe, to pray believing that He would answer prayers and to believe who He says He is. Bonnie was goal oriented. She and her husband had plans to earn enough money to be financially stable so that they could travel around the world and educate people about the Lord. In fact, I remember one conversation we had about life goals. She told me she had written 50 life goals and challenged me to do the same. So I did--some are little things like learn to make my grandma's pie, make a quilt, have my own garden, learn to play the guitar, write more music, and others are larger goals such as getting my master's degree in education, adopt kids, be a prayer warrior, take counseling classes, minister to inner city kids, own a home that is open to guests and visitors all the time, and have a large family. All those goals are of course subject to the Lord's plans, however it has been good for me to take several of these goals and pursue them. Two of these goals have to do with running. The first was to run a half-marathon. I ran my first half marathon a week after Bonnie died. The entire race I kept thinking about Bonnie and her rock solid faith during her battle with cancer, and that helped me run that 'race' with perseverance as she had done. The second goal was to run a marathon. Despite my history of plaguing injuries, I decided to sign up for the Twin Cities Marathon in October and am excited to run for a cause--World Vision. Kari has been a great friend and running buddy the last three years. I have watched her run 3 marathons and can't wait to run one with her! As Chris Rice says,

Every day is a journal page
Every man holds a quill and ink
And there's plenty of room for writing in
All we do is believe and think
So will you compose a curse
Or will today bring the blessing
Fill the page with rhyming verse
Or some random sketching

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much

Every day is a bank account

And time is our currency

So nobody's rich, nobody's poor
We get 24 hours each
So how are you gonna spend
Will you invest, or squander
Try to get ahead
Or help someone who's under

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much

Has anybody ever lived who knew the value of a life
And don't you think giving is all
What proves the worth of yours and mine

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much

Every day is a gift you've been given
Make the most of the time every minute you're living