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.

A Birthday Wish

Today I turned 12 years old, and I am marveling at all the things I have done between age 11 and 12. The playground was put up at the school. I was interviewed many times for my work in Haiti. I went to Haiti. I started a blog to speak about my life and passion, and others’ as well.

But what I’m looking forward to is not presents or cards or celebrations. I love all these things, but there is one thing I have been asking and asking for, and finally, it is going to happen.

We are going back to Haiti!

I am so blessed to be able to go yet again this year and I couldn’t be happier to be going back to my most favorite place in the world. We are leaving next week, and will be staying for a whole week!

More to come next week as we leave. As for now, please pray for safe travels. So stay tuned…


Eyes on the Prize

I can’t sleep. I toss and turn in my unbelievably comfortable, queen-size bed. I roll off my bed and walk up my nice, carpeted floors to the kitchen. I grab a glass out of my cupboard, fill it with water, and sit down at the table. My mind is wandering as I go back downstairs and eventually fall asleep.

This is what most of my nights are like. Because lately, there have been some things on my heart that are troubling me. They are things that are difficult to explain, but I’m going to try:

1.) The hurt of this world.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m only seeing the hurt of this world, instead of the joyful and amazing things going on, too. The thing about this world is: we never know how long we will be on it. That’s why we need to make each day count. Bad things happen, and nobody knows why. But trust God that there is a reason. This verse from Romans 5 has always comforted me about the hurt of this world:

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.    

2.) Our numerous blessings.

When I was in Haiti, I saw the poorest of the poor. They live in tin huts the size of my bed. Sometimes they get so hungry, they resort to eating dirt. They sleep on the muddy, worm-infested ground at night. I live in a nice, large house with running water and a fully-stocked pantry. Whatever I want is right at my fingertips. But spiritually, people like the Haitians are rich beyond their wildest dreams. They live each day completely and wholly for God. From that outlook, I’m the one living in a tin hut eating mud pies.

3.) Distractions.

iPads. Playstations. Flatscreen TVs. Wherever we look, we are bombarded with more and more distractions from God. We all know the story of Peter walking on the water towards Jesus. He jumps out of the boat and continues to walk, keeping his eyes on Jesus. But sometimes he looks down and gets distracted. He loses Jesus and starts to drown. It’s the same with us and our life. We need to keep looking up and finding God everyday, living Out of the Ordinary.