Friday, October 29, 2010

Water Walk Scheduled

For anyone who is interested and able, we're doing a water walk this Sunday (Oct. 31) in the afternoon.  We'll be walking about 1 mile to a nearby stream, collecting water, and walking back to my house.  I'm hoping that this will help us to get a better idea of the struggle that some face on a daily basis.  Be sure to check back later on in the weekend for a blog entry about the experience.  Please get in touch with me if you would like to participate and haven't already contacted me!  Thanks!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Long Embrace

Watch the long embrace on YouTube
Last Wednesday, while I was on a treadmill working through some hill repeats, I watched the rescue of Victor Zamora, the 14th of the Chilean mine workers to be pulled from the San Jose Mine.  This was great inspiration for a hard workout; the amazing story shown on live TV served as a very good distraction and motivator!

I had lots of thoughts running through my mind as I watched the above clip...Victor Zamora is a REAL person, with a family...and with hobbies, hopes for the future, and fears.  He is not an actor, or a person in a magazine, or a man easy to forget.  His life is valuable.  His life, along with the lives of another 32 mine workers, are so valuable that countless hours and expense and risk went into a plan to rescue them.

Do you believe that your life is that valuable?  Do I?

What about the lives of your parents or children or other family members?  Or your friends?  Or neighbors?  What about the acquaintance who landed himself in jail?  Or what about the Kenyan child who has no drinking water today?  Are these lives worth saving?  Are these REAL people to you?  To what lengths will you go to rescue these people?  At what cost would you participate in the rescue effort?

The liberation of the miners reminded me of some words found in the Bible's Psalm 40...

I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry.   He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

God spares nothing when it comes to rescuing us.  This is His promise to us.

I loved watching Victor and his wife Jessica embrace.  It was a long embrace.  Almost uncomfortably long.  God's love is like that.  It is long and tight and overwhelming.  He won't let us go.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


This morning, as soon as my son left for preschool, my daughter found his "hero" attire and dressed herself.  Eye mask and red cape on, swooping, galloping, flying across our house she went, back and forth, back and forth.  Never tiring, always smiling, she was searching for anyone who needed some saving.

True confessions...when I was little, I used to wear my Wonder Woman underoos and do my own swooping across our neighborhood.  I wore my red, white, blue, and gold proudly.  I didn't care that it was only underwear.  I felt powerful!  WW to the rescue!   

What's up with kids and their desire to be superheroes? 

A little later today, as we unpacked my son's backpack, we found the orange trick-or-treat unicef box.  Both kids were intrigued.  I explained that you may use the box to collect money when you are out soliciting candy on Halloween.  Then I read the back of the box: 

$0.07 provides 50 kids with safe water for a day

$2 buys 1 liter of therapeutic milk

$19 buys 3 mosquito nets to protect kids from malaria

$257 provides an emergency classroom kit for 40 kids

$500 buys a water pump for a whole community

Andrew wanted me to get his bank for him.  He emptied the contents and started to put the money in the unicef box.  Several times, I asked him if he was sure he wanted to part with his money.  All he wanted to know was whether his money could purchase the set of malaria nets.  "Yes, let's do it mommy."

What's up with kids and their desire to be superheroes?

And why is being a superhero less attractive to me now that I'm adult?  When encountered with an opportunity to give, I typically first think about all that I could lose, and not so much about all I could give...and what that giving could mean for someone else. 

Do they make underoos for grown-ups?

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Lesson From My Son

I went for a different kind of training run today.  Andrew wasn't up for the Y, but was excited when I asked him if he wanted to go for a bike ride.  So we went to a local park.  I ran with Natalie in the jogging stroller, and Andrew rode his bike (mostly) alongside us.  Initially, I thought that we were in the midst breakthrough moment; I would finally be able to complete all of my running with my kids!  But after 5 minutes on the bike, Andrew was starting to tire.

The park's paths weren't particularly hilly, but even so, there were several times where Andrew would stop at the bottom of a "hill" and ask for a push.  "Mommy, I can't do it," he would say.  He seemed to be intimidated by the grade and the length of the hills.  He's pretty new to bike riding, but experienced enough to know that he would need strong legs continually pedaling to keep the bike from moving backward, the default direction.  He wasn't sure that he was powerful enough to make it up the hill.

I'm having an I can't do it kind of day.  I feel like I'm marching upward on an escalator that's going downstairs.  The hills are working against me.  I'm looking for someone to push me so that I can achieve today's goals: a run long enough to match that on my training plan, a blog entry, a basket full of folded laundry, quality time with my husband and kids, some time in prayer for friends.

At the park today, when we approached the steepest of the hills, I told Andrew that he should try pedaling the bike up the hill, on his own, without a push.  I was confident of his abilities.  I wanted him to see that he could do it.

"Keep on going!  Use your momentum!"

"What's momentum mommy?"

 "You can do it!"

He was frustrated.  He wanted his push.  He was a little mad at me.  I was challenging him to think differently about himself and his obstacle, and that can be hard to accept.  But as he approached the crest of the hill, a huge smile grew across his face.  He had indeed done it.  He pedaled the bike up the hill, on his own, without a physical push.

I want to be like Andrew today.  I want to step up to the challenge to think differently about myself and my obstacles and my goals.  I want to listen to encouragement, even when it's different from the thoughts swirling around my head.  I want to keep pedaling when my muscles are screaming for me to stop.  I want to be pleased with my efforts and grow in confidence.  Thanks Andrew!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Note to self

Today, Dave and I celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary!  Sometimes, I wish I could go back in time and give some advice to my younger self; I want to tell her how it really is.

One of the things I would tell younger Lori is that marriage is a lot like running a marathon. 

Surrounded by a crowd of friends and family, you make promises, celebrate the new thing that is about to happen, and then you're pronounced husband and wife.  And you're off.  The race has begun.  You have lots of people happy for you and cheering you on, at least in the beginning.  Everything feels new and fresh.  Your feet don't hurt, and you're not impacted by the weather.  You're ready to take on whatever hill or cramp or hardship may come your way.  You're in the honeymoon phase.  There's no fighting.  Nothing can get you down.

After you've been at it for a while, some old injuries and hurts begin to resurface, affecting your attitude and running and relating.  You plow through the pain and discouragement.  But then you feel thirsty and hungry, at least until you reach the next water stop, where you are blessed and refreshed for a time with gatorade and power bars.  Next come obstacles with names Loneliness, Boredom, and Distraction.  And then you hit the wall, where you are tested to see how much you want this race or this marriage.

You almost always start a marathon expecting to make it to the finish line, but sometimes, things don't go as planned, and the race ends in an unexpected way.  You choose to give up, or the race ends early due to a medical condition, or a betrayal, or death.

But there are blessings along the way.  An unexpected conversation...a new friendship forms as the miles tick by.  A friend cheers or speaks words of honesty or prays for you at just the right time.  Or you're having an "on" running day...the miles fly by and you're feeling great...things seem effortless for a time.  You're feeling strong and that you have what you need to keep at it.  And you see the finish line in this distance and remember that all of the hard work and difficult choices impact more than just you; it's worth it for your kids and sometimes even for people you've never met.  Your choices and relationships can affect people in a different time and place.

When I think of marriage, one of the things that I remember is some wise advice that the mother of a very dear friend of mine gave to my friend as she was making some decisions about dating and marriage.  She encouraged my friend to "run" as quickly as she could toward Jesus and then look to see who was running with her to determine who would make a good husband.  Today, I'm feeling so very grateful to be running this race with Dave.  I hope we're running an ultra-marathon.  Happy anniversary David!  I love you!

(The photo is me in my wedding gown running down the steps of the church where we were married.  I even had running shoes on!  The photo was not taken on our wedding day;  Dave shot this in May 2009 for a school project.  We got some interesting and confused looks from neighbors that day!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Future Generations Will Praise Us...And Think We're a Little Crazy!

Growing up, I loved going to my Nana and Pop Pop's house.  It served as a safe haven of sorts.  My cousins were often there, so it was guaranteed that I would have someone to play with other than my sisters.  It was also a given that there would be food...lots of food...usually too much food to eat.  There was a big backyard and basement to explore...plenty of places for me to escape.  But also places for me to engage, especially if I was willing to watch sports or Jeopardy, which is often what the adults would be doing.

I loved my Nana so much because she was always showing her love for me.  Forever in her kitchen or sewing room, she was making me or my sisters or cousins some new clothes or our favorite desserts.  But I also thought some of her practices were strange.  She was always saving things like foil or plastic food storage bags.  I used to joke with her and with my sisters and cousins about the rinsed out and hanging up to dry plastic bags.  Why doesn't she just go to the store and get more plastic bags?  It reminded me of my Dad and his installation of a special shower head in our bathroom.  Why would we need to be able to easily shut off the water in the middle of our showers?  After all, we have all of the water we want (this thinking wasn't exactly true, as I learned when our private well was pumped dry by a neighboring construction project).

What I didn't understand then was that my Nana and my Dad had grown up during a different time, a time when material goods and necessary resources weren't as plentiful and weren't taken for granted.

A few days ago I read this article titled What Will Future Generations Condemn Us For? by Kwame Anthony Appiah.  Appiah lists practices such as our poor treatment of animals and the elderly and suggests that if people have already heard the arguments against a practice, if the defenders of the practice do not provide moral counterarguments but invoke tradition or necessity, and if supporters of the practice engage in strategic ignorance, then a practice is destined for future condemnation.  It reminded me of a conversation that Dave and I had recently about slavery in the US.  Of course it's easy for us to condemn that practice now, but if we were living in that time, would we have spoken out against slavery?  Or would we have justified it by telling ourselves that our actions couldn't possibly make a difference and that life as we knew it wouldn't be possible without slaves?

Lately, I've been feeling convicted about my greed and materialism.  I have to admit that I don't like to see how my habits directly or indirectly impact other people or our environment in negative ways, because that means I'll have to change.  And really, it's just easier and less time consuming to be wasteful.  I don't want to have to think about how my purchases and other practices enable injustice systems to continue.

Thank you Nana and thank you Dad for compelling me to think.  I used to be convinced that you were crazy, but now I appreciate that you are wise and thoughtful and sacrificing.  I hope that I can be those things for my children and grandchildren.  I want their praise, not their condemnation, even if it means that they think I'm crazy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I recall my college years with super fond memories.  I am so grateful for all of the opportunities that I had to learn and grow.  Recently though, I've noticed that I feel entitled to certain things, and that sense of entitlement has made life difficult because I don't have many of those things.  I've been trying to figure out where this thinking comes from, and lately, at least, I've concluded that my college experience is partially to blame.

I wasn't especially aware of them at the time, but the messages (some direct and some not-so-direct) were clear.  I was attending a premier educational institution.  Consequently, if I could manage to get good grades, I'd be assured an outstanding job... one with prestige and, of course, a good paycheck; I would be successful and have everything that I need and want; I could live a secure, comfortable, and socially acceptable life; I will, in fact, have "made it".

These are, of course, empty promises.  Education does not ensure security, comfort, or acceptance (I recognize there is room for argument is a privilege and does seem to guarantee some level of payoff).  Life happens, and I made some choices.  For me, not every employer, potential or actual, was so impressed by my good grades and college name.  And I've had my own doubts, fearing that perhaps I chose the wrong major in college.  Then came kids, further complicating things.  For others, it's unexpected crises, such as illness, divorce, or unemployment, which destroy the promise of the picture-perfect life.  Regardless of the cause, unmet expectations are hard to deal with.  I bought into the empty promises, and to the degree that I believed the promises, I'm left to deal with my disappointment.  I'm not living the life that my college education promised to deliver, and I struggle with that sometimes, despite the fact that I made some choices that led me here.

In his book titled Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller writes the following:  Everyone tends to live in a particular socioeconomic bracket.  Once you are able to afford to live in a particular neighborhood, send your children to its schools, and participate in its social life, you will find yourself surrounded by quite a number of people who have more money than you.  You don't compare yourself to the rest of the world, you compare yourself to those in your bracket.  The human heart always wants to justify itself and this is one of the easiest ways.  You say, "I don't live as well as him or her or them.  My means are modest compared to theirs."  You can reason and think like that no matter how lavishly you are living.  (page 52)

I confess that I spend a lot of time comparing myself to others in my "bracket", which makes me feel like I am entitled to more...more money, a nicer house, plentiful job options.  Sometimes, I've found it helpful to take a step back and put things in perspective.  Last fall, I received a giving catalog, which pictured various items like animals, school supplies, and farming equipment that I could purchase to give at Christmas-time as an alternative to traditional Christmas gifts.  Among the potential gifts included in the catalog was a home that I could purchase for $1,200.  I kept that giving catalog in our magazine rack for a long time, so that when I was feeling tempted to complain about my house, I could take a look at the $1,200 shelter that someone in some other part of the world would feel very grateful to receive and feel grateful myself.  It served as a reminder that I AM living the good life.  I have "made it".  I have so much to be thankful for.

I don't have this figured out.  I struggle with several questions:

What exactly are we entitled to in this life?

How does our sense of entitlement impact how we use our money?

Should everyone around the world be entitled to a clean and reliable water source?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!