Keep Running

It was 11:00 on a Saturday afternoon, and it was pouring. We were in my mom’s hometown of Marathon, Iowa and today was the day of the famous “Marathon to Marathon.” As the name suggests, it is a harsh race of 26.2 miles from the city of Storm Lake to the sweet little town of Marathon.

We were there with some family friends to see the race and maybe sell a few copies of my mom’s book, Love Idol. It was a little over midway through the race when it started sprinkling. And then that little sprinkle turned into a downpour like nothing else, with horrible lightning and a bit of hail. I could hardly walk around out there, much less fathom how someone could run a marathon in that weather. We headed inside as a car went out to optionally pick up the forty-something people still running out there.

The car came back empty.

Not a single person wanted to quit, even in the worst conditions.

I guess they had worked too hard and trained too much to give up now.

Not to mention, my grandpa who I love so much, who broke his foot while we were in Mexico, stood right by the finish line with a boot on his foot under a little tarp getting soaked and refused to leave until every person crossed the line.

He feels it is important that the person hears their name when they cross the line. Even if he is the only one there, and all the crowds have long since left, he wants to tell them, “Well done!”

There is a chapter in my mom’s book about this topic. About how he wants them to hear their name. She compares it to when we cross the finish line of our life, and how God is there to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (And though she wrote it much more eloquently than I could have, it is still an amazing thing to think about.)

But that’s not all. Just the fact that these runners kept running inspires me also. Sometimes, in our life, things get tough. Real tough. But it is the strength to keep running that makes us who we are.

I just wish I could have the courage to say I would have kept running. And I’m still pondering what my response would have been. Because I don’t really know what it’s like for things to be real tough for me. I live in a home full of love and pantries stocked with all I can eat. I live in a sheltered community where 99% of the residents are Christian. I’ve been to Haiti and seen the poverty, but have I ever experienced the true pain of a 4-day empty stomach- of watching my family die and leave me- of sleeping and living in the dirt and on the streets? No.

But I hope and pray to God that he will give me the strength to keep running in the times where it gets tough.

The 10 Dollar Bill

As a 12-year-old girl, it’s pretty obvious I don’t make a lot of money. There’s only so many things I can do. I babysit my sister and neighbors. I clean the house. I help my dad with pig chores. I work in my grandma’s candle shop.

So when I pay for Romario and Amalisa (my sponsor kids) every month, I spend a lot of that money. Often I spend more than I make. I can’t buy things for myself very often. So what do I do?

This morning I wrote a check for Romario and Amalisa for the months of March, April, and May. The total amounted to $210. I have been feeling very overwhelmed lately about this issue. I try to make a few extra dollars every chance I get.

As I told my mom about my struggles, she told me this: ” God will find a way to provide always, if it is for his glory.” I tried to believe her, but I couldn’t help doubting.

During church, my friend’s young daughter was getting restless. She was getting frustrated because her daughter was being obnoxious while she wanted to pay attention to the service. So I brought her daughter to the playroom in back and babysat her for the rest of service. (And no, I wasn’t skipping church because we were over halfway through the service and I had gone to a different church with my friend the past night.)

After church, my grandma walked up to me, and handed me a 10-dollar bill. She told me she saw me go in back to babysit the girl and thought it was very nice of me.

God will provide. And God did provide. 

That $10 meant more to me than just a 10-dollar bill, though. It reminded me that God always keeps his promises. It reminded me that God will always provide.

And just earlier that service, I stood up on a step-stool to peek over the top of a podium and spoke into a microphone these words from John 20:

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

I am like Thomas. I doubted because I did not see. I did not see any signs that God would provide. I doubted that God would not come through. But God is unchanging, and like I said, he ALWAYS keeps his promises.

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(I am linking up with Kristen Welch’s #yesinmymess community. Kristen and my mom are friends. She wrote a book called Rhinestone Jesus, which encourages people to say yes to God even when it’s feeling scary.)  

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 WorldHunger.org, 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!

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Me and Romario

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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.

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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.