The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle: A Speech

So this is my speech! It is from the same program as last year. (You can see my speech from last year here.) So I moved on from the first round, and today I said my speech again for round two, and was chosen out of the top two in my class to say it again to the rest of the school on Thursday! The topic this year is “The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle.”

And because I literally find a way to sneak Haiti into everything, it is about the Touch of Hope school in Simonette, Haiti, and how they changed the lifestyle of the kids in the community.

There are a few paragraphs on healthy eating, and exercising and stuff, so if you want, you can ignore those.

So here is my speech:

When I think about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, I think about a boy named Romario. He’s my age. He likes soccer, math, and playing with little kids. He sounds a lot like someone who might be my neighbor, or the kid who sits next to me at school.

But there’s a big difference. Romario lives in a tent in Haiti and for years, has struggled with hunger and a very unhealthy lifestyle.

I have seen it firsthand. I have stood on the dirt roads of his village. I have seen how it looks like there’s no hope for a kid like Romario.

When we talk about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, I think it’s important that we have a clear picture of what an unhealthy lifestyle looks like. Every year, more than 5 million children around the globe die of poor nutrition.

Poor nutrition is at the root of an unhealthy lifestyle. According to, poor nutrition intensifies the effect of every disease, including measles, malaria, and pneumonia

So this is where a healthy lifestyle truly begins: With good nutrition, not only here in America, but around the world.

Eating healthy is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. It provides nutrients that your body needs to create new cells, clean toxins, and to function daily. It prevents future diseases like diabetes and cancer.

Now, all of us here have access to nourishing food and clean water – a privilege that many in other parts of the world don’t have. We also have access to education about our health. We know things like: breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we shouldn’t overeat or consume many sweets.

We also understand that it is important to eat a balanced, varied diet of all 5 food groups.

There’s more. Exercising regularly is a huge part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It increases longevity, and helps you sleep well and maintain your weight. Kids should exercise 60 minutes or more daily.

Also, getting enough sleep is very important for having enough energy. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t think clearly. Most kids need 10 or more hours of sleep every night.

So, to me, a healthy lifestyle is composed of healthy eating, physical activity, and getting enough sleep.

Now, I am fortunate to live in a country, a community, and a home where I have access to everything I need to live a healthy lifestyle: nutritious food, clean water, ways to exercise, and a comfortable bed to sleep in.

But remember Romario? And the millions of children around the world like him? They don’t have these same advantages.

So I want to issue a challenge to you. Because we can’t live a healthy lifestyle here, and keep it to ourselves. We are so blessed to live where we do, and we owe it to our neighbors to give back our good fortune. We can help them live a healthy lifestyle, too. Here’s how:

Support programs like UNICEF, an organization working in more than 190 countries to help children by providing immunizations, nutrition, education and clean water.

Sponsor a child for as little as $35 a month through places like Touch of Hope. These programs help send children to school, where they have access to education and food for a healthy lifestyle.

I am a girl living a healthy lifestyle in Inwood, Iowa. And I am not keeping it to myself. I have committed to helping others live healthy too.

I pay $35 a month to sponsor two kids in Haiti, including Romario.

Before Romario’s community opened up a sponsorship program, starvation was a part of their daily lives. Many people in his village resorted to eating mud pies, a concoction of mud, water, and sugar. The mud pies taste awful and have zero nutritional value, but they keep hunger at bay.

But his community took a stand and changed the lifestyle of over 900 kids, who now get peanut-butter sandwiches for breakfast and rice and beans for lunch, along with an education.

My sister and I are partnering with the school on the exercise portion of the health of these Haitian children. I raised $6,000 to build a playground at the school. And my sister raised $2,000 to build a basketball court. We saw the playground and basketball court during our trip to Haiti over Thanksgiving.

We have more plans to help Haitian children live a healthy lifestyle. But those plans are top-secret. Maybe I’ll come back and tell you another time.

Until then, my question for you is: what are you going to do with your healthy lifestyle?

DSCN0776Me at my playground!


Me and Romario


This is Romario’s house.

Love Idol

Something BIG is happening today. Something amazing and something very close to my heart.

My mom, Jennifer Lee, is releasing her very first book, Love Idol!

I am so proud of her and excited for what is going to happen next!

Her book is about seeking approval from others, even though we are already approved by God. We think we are not enough- we aren’t smart enough, we aren’t pretty enough, we aren’t witty enough- but we are enough, even though we make mistakes!


You can also read more about her book at her blog here.

Life is a Balancing Act

Life is a balancing act. As I balance schoolwork, tests, volleyball, piano, clarinet, percussion, 4H, and most importantly, reading the Bible and focusing on God, this phrase makes much more sense than it did when I was younger. And I only get busier as I get older.

So I’ve got to find a way to balance school with extracurricular activities with God. I have already written a blog post about it (see Get Rid of Your Worries in 3 Easy Steps!), so of course I can use that, and I can also pray for help.

The most important thing I NEED to make time for is, of course, God. Praying, reading the Bible, and reading devotions are the things I do on a regular basis to strengthen my faith.

So I ask you this: Are YOU making time for God in your everyday balancing-act-of-a-life?

One really interesting thing I learned yesterday in Sunday school is how prayers should go.

This is taken straight from the Bible, Matthew 6:9-13.

Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

So prayers go in this format:

Praise God/Glorify God/ Thank Him

Ask for what you need

Praise God/Glorify God/ Thank Him again

That is just as it is in the Lord’s prayer.

So no matter how busy you are, ALWAYS make time for God.

One Year!

One year. One whole year. A year of love, of joy, of hope. A year that brought us all together. A year that will forever live in my heart.

One year ago, today, I started a blog. When I started it, I had no idea of what journey I was embarking on. I had no idea of how many lives I would touch.

I am so blessed to say that this blog has been a place for sharing, a place for love, a place for me to share my thoughts with many.

So thank you. For such a wonderful year.


A Resolution for You

As the New Year rolls around, most people make New Years resolutions, like working out more or eating healthier. While these are great resolutions, I feel there is one resolution we are leaving behind as society: Getting closer to God.

God tells us firsthand that we NEED to have that resolution at the top of our lists. Last night, I found this in my devotions:

Being near each other and spending time together draws us closer to people. It’s like that with God, too.

God loves you with his whole heart, and he wants you to love him back with your whole heart.

He is eager to talk and listen, to guide and comfort, and even to have fun with you! But it’s hard to share an experience with someone you’re far away from.

The Bible tells us that when we come close to God, he comes close to us. Just like a magnet, he’ll pull you right in.

When you turn toward God, he draws closer, ready to walk with you through each day of your life, morning till night. No matter what happens, you can enjoy his company, feel safe with him, and go through the good and the bad together.

(Taken from “The One Year” Between You and God: Devotions for Girls. )

I also found this Bible verse that pretty much sums up the entire post:

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”-James 4:8

So Happy New Year! I hope this post has added one more resolution to your list.

The Joy is Unfathomable

She captured my heart the moment I first saw her.

We were driving through Simonette on day 1, after a day of school, bringing the Tytoo Orphanage kids home because Tytoo has 2 special-needs kids that cannot walk. (We stayed at the orphanage all week.)

The first one is Dashcar. She is 13 years old and has a mild case of cerebral palsy. She recently had surgery to fix her clubbed feet, and can only get around on a wheelchair for a few weeks, as her feet are in casts.

The second girl is Amalisa, the one I fell in love with. She is eight years old and has brittle bone disease.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, brittle bone disease causes bones to fracture easily. People born with the disease cannot make a certain type of body tissue for growing.

Anyway, we stopped at the ViBella Jewelry building for a minute, and I decided to jump into the truck instead of riding in back with the rest of the kids. (Mostly because Guitambert was hitting me with his belt.) I just swung the door open and leaped in, right next to Ms. Amalisa.

Right away, I noticed her tiny legs, arms and body. Then I looked up and saw her smiling face, so warm and friendly. That’s when she captured my heart. I grabbed her hand and asked her: “Komon ou rele? (What is your name?) She answered: “Amalisa.”


I loved her and she loved me since then. Every morning before she went to school I would sit with her while she ate, talking to her and playing games. It wouldn’t take a genius to find out who my favorite was.

DSC_0554(ABOVE: Playing games with Amalisa and Dashcar.)

She was just so sweet and lovable. She spoke slow Creole to me and understood if I had no idea what she was saying. She was always holding my hands, and that smile never left her face.

The day I left was horrible, to put it simply. I was walking over to say goodbye. I told myself I wouldn’t cry, I wouldn’t cry, I wouldn’t cry.

So you can assume what happened next.

I started bawling, but pulled myself together enough to tell her that I would miss her and I loved her.

I cried the whole way home. This was WAY worse than last time.

But I will get to keep in touch with Amalisa, because on the way to the airport, I asked Kayla Grooters if I could sponsor Amalisa. We got a few things worked out, and now my sister and I are sponsoring Amalisa together!

I can’t wait to send her my first letter, with some little gifts as well, and I knew she would be ecstatic when she found out who her new sponsors were!

You wouldn’t believe how much these kids LOVE their sponsors. They treat them like best friends, like the most amazing person on the planet. Just being able to hand out sponsor kid gifts during my trip there proved so. Just getting a toothbrush, a T-shirt, and some toy cars mean more to these kids than you can imagine.

I highly suggest you pray about possibly sponsoring a child. It is for such little money a month that even a 12-year-old child can pay for 2 kids a month! The amount of joy you are giving them is unfathomable to you. I guarantee you, with the little amount you bless them, they bless you back, ten times over.

You can go to the Touch of Hope site right now, and find a child just for you. Trust me, the joy you give them… only for $35 a month.


Complaints or Blessings?

The showers are ice cold and can shut off at random.

The children are dirty and always have a runny nose.

Geckos live in the ceiling, and beetles live in the bathroom. (FYI- I have an extreme bug-phobia)

I am poked at and prodded at and pinched all over by curious toddlers.

The roads are a mess, and just driving through town is an adventure.

Even though it is only in the 90′s, I came from 0 degree weather, and never can completely cool off in the day.

Mosquito bites cover my legs and arms, and provide itchiness 24/7.

On windy days, it is practically a sandstorm. I get sand all over in my eyes, clothes, and hair.

Now, this list above may sound like a bunch of petty complaints, but really I believe we can make the best of everything that God throws our way, big or small.

Because, you know what?

I’m lucky to have a shower for me to rinse off in after a long, hard day. The water, though cold, is refreshing and definitely cools you down!

I love the children, with their beautiful smiles and friendly hugs. It’s not like I’m Ms. Clean anyway.

The geckos eat bugs, and though they slightly freak me out, they aren’t bad roommates, and I’m getting used to them. The beetles… Well, they remind me I’m not home, and this is an adventure.

Being played with and touched frequently is something I’m not used to. These kids have probably never seen a white kid before. Maybe it’s their way of getting to know me and becoming my friend.

I love the thrill I get riding through town. Haitian drivers are very skilled (they have to be!) and it’s an adventure every minute.

Ok. The heat. This is a hard one. I suppose it isn’t too bad when you want to swim, and though it’s stifling, you get used to it eventually. It’s a new environment- an adventure! (And those are good, right?)

The bug bites will keep Haiti in my mind long after I return home, right? Those bites won’t be going anywhere anytime soon if I keep scratching them like I am now!

The sand reminds me of the blessings I have here- a shower to wash the sand out and a sink and clothesline for the laundry- a treasure many don’t have.

Now you see? I am rejoicing in all that I have and all that I do- every day, every minute, every second for the one and only God.

Just see: