Tuesday, August 31, 2010

17-year-old relationships

While out for a run last fall, I realized that I had been "running" for nearly half of my life!  After getting through a brief moment of denial (how could I possibly be that old ?!?), I began to reflect on how I even came to run in the first place...

After an embarrassing softball season my sophomore year of high school, I decided that I would have to try a different spring sport the following year.  So I signed up for track and field.  There are so many track and field events...surely I would be good at something.  I decided to try distance running.  It was horrible at first.  It was really humbling watching other runners lap me during a 1-mile race.  I dreaded going to practice every day...it was just so hard...I felt like such a failure.

I'm really not sure why I kept at it, but I did, and I found myself running cross country during my senior year.  Around this same time, I began to get more serious about my Christian faith and to ask questions about whether my value was based on my cross country times or whether it was based on the truth that God loves me, regardless of my performance (still struggling with this one!).  I remember singing a song to myself as I struggled through each cross country meet.  The song was based on the Bible's Micah 6:8, which says He has told you, O people, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (New American Standard Bible).  I would sing this to remind myself that my course time didn't really matter...that doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly are the things that honor God and the things that I should be striving for.

I'm still learning so much about what it means to aim for justice, kindness, and humility.  The more I try to be about these things, the more that I see I have a long way to go.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Searching for Simon

Some disclaimers totally unrelated to this post...I don't view myself as being particularly tech-savvy.  I'm also not an expert on running marathons, the world's water crisis, or engineering related to developing wells.  And I don't think I've done any kind of creative writing since college (and I didn't do much of it there).

But, I am excited about each of these things and trusting that in sharing what I'm learning, I can inspire action and hopefulness.  Or at least remind myself of the reasons I have to be hopeful.

Now on to Simon.  Simon is the child we started sponsoring after I attended the World Vision experience at a local church nearly 3 years ago.  It was challenging to walk through that exhibit and to be confronted by the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa.  I wanted to be able to hide my eyes...to turn away, but I couldn't.  And I'm grateful.  I confess that I haven't been faithful in my communication with Simon, but it's been super encouraging to get pictures and letters and updates and just to be connected with someone in another part of the world.  Honestly, I knew nothing about Zambia before Simon.  Sounds horrible, but I didn't care about Zambia before Simon.

A few months ago, I was reading my Runner's World magazine when I came across an article about Ryan and Sara Hall, well-known U.S. distance runners, and their trip to Zambia with Team World Vision.  Oh, that's nice, I thought.  Then I noticed that they were in an area called Musele.  Isn't that where Simon is?  I pulled out my picture of Simon and started searching for him in the magazine pictures.  At some point, as I was studying the magazine photos, I realized that the Team World Vision runners were raising money for water projects that are directly impacting Simon.  I care about Simon, and so I care about Musele, Zambia.  I am thankful for the water projects that are granting this community access to a reliable source of water.  I am grateful for the donors who supported these projects.  I like to run.  That's nice.

When I was searching for Simon, I didn't have any idea that I would join Team World Vision.  It was just part of my story.  Isn't it crazy to look back and see how seemingly insignificant connections and circumstances can result in actions and stories that are big and purposeful?

Team World Vision's work in Musele, Zambia

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dishwashers, Dunkin Donuts, and Distance Running: reflections on 24 hours without water

So what does a dishwasher replacement have to do with me signing up to run a marathon?

Good question.

It all began this past May.  We wanted to replace our very old (like as old as us) dishwasher and found a good deal during an Earth Day sale.  Dave insisted on installing the new dishwasher by himself.  We estimated that it would involve some minor inconvenience and limitation on our use of the kitchen for one Saturday afternoon.  No big deal.  As Dave pulled our old dishwasher out from the wall, he discovered that there was no water shut off valve to the dishwasher.  We would have to turn off the water to the house for a couple of hours, tops.  OK...most house projects turn out this way...a little more inconvenient than we initially thought.  But we are flexible!  We can make this work!  Again no big deal.
As Dave delved into the project, he discovered more and more issues.  I was getting very anxious.  When could we turn the water back on?  I still hadn't showered after running in a race that morning.  I had a pile of dishes waiting for me in the sink from a post-race get together.  The kids would need baths before church.  We would need to figure out what to do about dinner. 

How could I get a shower and some drinking water?

I swallowed my pride, called some friends, and asked if I could use their shower.  They of course said yes and even sent me home with some water.  Awesome! 

But the next morning, I had another pressing question...where could I find a toilet that I could flush?  I drove across town and found an open Dunkin Donuts and was able to use their bathroom.

I am blessed.  While my mind was consumed with coming up with ways to gain access to water and its associated conveniences, which was uncomfortable, I had some options.  And my problem was short-term.  Others are not so privileged.  There are many places in the world where there is currently no access to running water.  Some walk miles and spend hours to gather water that is not clean, healthy, or life-giving.

I recently signed up to run the Philadelphia Marathon this November to raise money for Team World Vision.  This money will be used to finance clean water projects in Kenya and Ethiopia.  Please consider becoming a part of the Team by donating money toward the clean water projects.  Visit my fundraising website for more information.

Back to my dishwasher story, a couple of hours after my visit to Dunkin Donuts, Dave successfully installed a water shut off valve, and we were able to turn on the water to the rest of the house.  I arrived at church just in time to hear a couple talk about their water projects in Bolivia.  They began their message with a question: have you ever thought about what it would be like to go without water for 24 hours?

What about you?  Have you thought about what it would look like to have your water turned off for just 24 hours?  Maybe some of you have experienced this and have a story to tell.  I would love to hear from you!