Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Treasure

It amazes me that friends I have now who are incredibly dear are people that I didn't even know when I got home from Mozambique! God has really blessed me with treasure, and an awesome place to be involved in reaching out to the community. Here are some photos from a concert event tonight. Fun!!!

This is my sister-in-law, Sarah. She is the greatest!

With both of the Sarah's! Did you know that "Sarah" means "God's princess"?! Cool, huh.

Sam, Sarah, Justin, and I sporting our sweet t-shirts.

Lookin' good, Ross!

4 hours, 13 minutes, 24 seconds!!!

The marathon is over, and it was beyond fantastic. I was able to finish faster than my goal pace and had a delightful time. Some of my favorite moments were the heavyset tuba player at mile 7, who was simultaneously playing the tambourine. Talent! Another was the harpist at mile 8, the 62 year old 11-time marathon runner who I came across halfway through the race (I want to be like that!), the beyond beautiful trees exploding with autumn color, and crossing the finish line. What a feeling! I was pumping my arms and leaping for joy as my feet crossed. To my delight, the announcer said, "YOU DO THAT ALL YOU WANT, GIRL!" Haha, I did. To make matters even better, I had my mom, my sister, and my best friend there to cheer me on. They found me eight times! I think that's pretty outstanding. I posted pictures at and will post some videos up there very soon.


"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14

Most of you know that it has been a difficult 3 months for me, transitioning to life back at home. I never anticipated struggling so much, and have rarely had times in my life where I have felt really down. With that said, this deep agony has caught me by surprise. In 12 weeks I have had many periods of lows followed by short seasons of feeling like everything was going to be okay... only to find my heart breaking again. I've cried a lot, and asked God "WHY?" a lot. I've asked Him why He has put in my heart such a love for a place far away when He is not allowing me to go back. I end up letting my mind run races trying to discover what it was that captivated everything in me so completely. I wonder and worry about whether or not I could ever be as happy anywhere else doing anything else. But today I'm quite sure that I can and WILL be... since what God has is always above and beyond what I could ask for or imagine.

In the past 3 months I have often had a cynical and judgemental attitude towards God and the church. It's been a bumpy road. It has only been recently that it has been hitting me how much I just MISS Jesus... I miss pouring my love on Him and experiencing Him pour His love on me. I miss knowing with total confidence that no matter what life brings, He's got me and I've got Him. It's good to think things through. It's good to question, to process, to discover. But one must be careful not to let those things eat away at being madly in love with Christ. Sometimes I find it a chore to read my Bible and pray. Then I realize that there must be something seriously wrong in my heart and seriously lacking in my understanding of who God is. There are a handful of people in my life who I think are out of this world fantastic. If I could, I would spend every waking moment with those people. I want to be near them... to catch their life... to share their joy. In a similar way, if only I sought to get glimses of who this Jesus really is, there is NO WAY I would want to be anywhere but pressed right up against Him, as close as I could possibly nestle. That is the earnest prayer of my heart now: "Jesus, show me who you are!"

Monday, October 15, 2007

Poor and Needy

This morning I sat in the lounge of a large hospital, reading Psalm 40. "...He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD..." I could feel the tears coming, but pressed on to the end. "Yet I am poor and needy, may the LORD think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; oh my God, do not delay." I looked up to see the top of Sarah's very familiar curls bouncing in the door, and was glad for a familiar face. We went together to the new employee orientation day, and talked about Mozambique most of the way through it. All evening I have been unpacking box after box in my sweet little apartment. Freshly painted, new appliances, with many little projects to work on as I go. There are 3 other apartments in the house, one inhabited by my dear dear Rachel. My immediate neighbor in the upstairs of the house is a girl named Ryan, who works at a sewing shop in town. Rachy and I are positively thrilled about this, as both of us need to learn how to sew.

This evening Sarah's dad, Rich, came over to help me assemble my new bed. 100 pieces of wood, a bag of screws, and an instruction manuel are worthless to me. His assistance was an unbelievable blessing. There are people in the world who are so close to Jesus that His kindness just pours out of them. When we had finished the bed I was pulling it into the corner and caught it on my toe, which instantly started bleeding quite heavily. Rich dropped to his knees and began wiping up the blood, holding pressure on the toe while I reached for Band-Aids. He didn't need to do that and it cut deep. I felt the love of my Lord through a selfless act of servanthood extended to me.

I've never lived by myself before, so this is a first. Sometimes I think it will be fantastic, and other times I wonder if I will feel lonely. I imagine that would be of God with a purpose in mind. In the morning I will go to work, meet new people, learn new things. I will come home and continue unpacking. I will go for a run through Lindenwood park and soak up every minute. I will drive to Wahpeton to meet with my new friends on the university campus there. And I will dream... always dreaming. This is life now. It is so different I can't believe it sometimes, yet it's really not so different after all. God still asks the same of me here as He did in Africa. To draw closer to Him, to look outward, to pray, to love people, to love justice, to be stretched, to press on, to grow, to listen, to follow. I am learning to be content... learning, even, to love this very moment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

From the Weekend

Hittin' the road with our mascot, the cinnamon bear. We named him "Piguin", because he didn't look much like a bear but he did look a lot like a pig and a penguin.

Stopping in Sartell to make a surprise delivery of peanut butter bonbons to Joel's high school. The beautiful blonde in the picture is my cousin, Charlotte.

It was a STUNNING drive. We couldn't have picked a better time to drive through Wisconsin!!

Every trip to Wisconsin involves a stop for cheese... more specifically as far as we are concerned... cheese curds.

Rachel and Carina can't even wait until we get inside to start munching on cheese!!

Char-baby taking advantage of the free samples.

Finally in Chicago! Here is Rachel with her sister, Hannah Banana.

At the marathon expo!! Oh my, this is serious.

Carina playing "drinko".

My Grand Am is just as nice and has loads more character:).

It would only be a simple matter of breaking the world record to drive away in this lovely automobile.





The countdown clock

This police officer was too funny. I love Chicago:)!!!

Our World Vision pasta party. Talk about a carbo-load!

Rachel bought Colby Jack a polo shirt!


Waking up at 4am to a living room decked out with toilet paper streamers!!! Thanks, Stephen and Joy!!!

Chearing us on.


We'll be fine.

The Secret...

I would say that as a general rule, a marathon is not portrayed as a "fun" time. Most would probably think about 26.2 miles and groan. But over the past 8 months I have often wondered why, if running this distance is so horrific, there are people who have run copious amounts of marathons. Why put yourself through one miserable experience after another? I am about to tell you the secret. Running a marathon is, in fact, FUN!!! So fantastic in fact, that I am going to run another one in a week and a half:). The reason for this possible insanity is that I didn't get to finish the Chicago marathon. For the first time in history, the marathon was canceled due to heat. I was nearing mile 21 feeling not too shabby and excited about the finish line. No news could have been more disappointing at that moment, and I was devastated. But now knowing what was going on I understand why it needed to be done.

It truly was wicked hot, with the actual temp in the upper 80s to low 90s, but the temp on the road due to 35,000 runners on pavement soaring over 100 degrees. Evidentally people were dropping like flies, and in spite of increasing ambulance and medical staff before the race and adding more water to aid stations, there was simply no way to keep up. At one aid station we didn't get any water or Gatorade, and as we ran through a park about a mile later, many people were jumping into a large fountain and cupping their hands to drink from it. That was a scary (and thirsty!) point. But after that I didn't experience much trouble staying hydrated. However, people were passing out all over the course and eventually there were no more medics to care for them. One man from Michigan died on the course, and several others remain in critical condition.

For the most part I was in blissful ignorance to these happenings, and had fun running through every hose offered by spectators (which was MANY hoses). By staying soaking wet the heat didn't seem to bother very much, although I did get annoyed with having wet, squishy socks! The crowds were unbelievable, and the city of Chicago a delight to run through. Everywhere we turned there were more people lining the streets cheering us on by name (we wrote our names on our shirts). It didn't matter who you were or where you were from. There was a unity among the throngs of people that I have rarely experienced. My fellow runners were fabulous, and I felt a constant sense of comradery with them even as we fought our own personal battles to press on. Everyone had their own running strategy, which I found fascinating and learned valuable information just by watching other, more seasoned, runners.

It seemed that just when I was starting to feel tired, I would hear my name being screamed with more gusto than the spectators who were just reading the name on my shirt. I would turn to see the familiar face of a friend or one of my cousins and then have the delight of running with them for a couple of minutes before they sent me off. These moments were priceless! I scanned both sides of the crowds while running, often experiencing the weird sense of expecting to see faces that I knew wouldn't be there but wished they could be and somehow expecting to see them cheering, with cold drink in hand. It was the most surreal day.

When the marathon was canceled, my first reactions were anger and resentment. How could God allow something to be taken from me that I had worked so hard to accomplsh?! But that quickly changed as I realized how much more exciting it will be to finish the next one. Once again God is teaching me patience, and to trust Him when things don't make sense and don't happen according to MY plan. While running I sensed God's pleasure. Even though the race got canceled early, I felt that I had done my best and can't wait for the next one. Now my struggle is this... it has only taken me one experience to discover that I love running marathons. I would love to KEEP running marathons, but not if I run them only selfishly. Can I bring great glory to God, serve Him and love my neighbor by running?! I hope so, and I am asking Him to show me how. This is how you can be praying for me at the moment.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


23 more hours and we will be running! It appears that the whole world has descended on Chicago this weekend:). We went to the marathon expo yesterday and picked up all of our gear, got a healthy dose of inspiration, met some of our World Vision teammates, and scored a bunch of free stuff. AFter a nice, Italian dinner we came back on the train to watch Blood Diamond. Oh my, I don't even have words to describe how much my heart broke during that movie.

The weather is unexpected... it is HOT here!!! The high for tomorrow is 88 degrees and partly to mostly sunny. Yikes!!! We had not prepared for this as an option. Cold, yes. Wind, sure. Rain, definitely. But HEAT?!?

Please pray for endurance... there are 1.5 million people coming out to watch so we will be cheered every step. I can't quite imagine what it will be like yet, but I'm excited!!

It is easy to sign up to receive text messages from the marathon telling you exactly where we are on the course throughout the morning. Go to if you want to get those messages! The race starts at 8am but it might take us 30 minutes just to get to the starting line. There will be a chip in our shoes that activates when we cross the starting line... our time starts then.

23 more hours!!!