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One Week

One week from now we’ll be on our way to the airport.  From there we’ll fly to Amsterdam, then to Nairobi, then to Entebbe, and I’ll finally be back in my beloved Uganda.
This is all happening so fast.
When life gets as crazy as it’s been for me lately, it’s hard to savour.  Because time flies by without my noticing, and then it’s gone.  I think I should learn from my Ugandan friends’ example and just slow down.  They don’t rush around all stressed out over every little thing.  Heck, they don’t even have wristwatches.  They sit in church for hours and hours, because they want to be there, because they recognise its importance, because they don’t have anywhere else to be.  They sit together and share food.  They cook and clean side by side, enjoying life, living in today and not stressing over tomorrow.
Couldn’t we all stand to learn from them?  Wouldn’t life be nice if we’d slow down every once in a while?

So this week it’s a goal of mine not to rush things.  Sure, I’m itching to get on that plane and get back to Uganda, but the time leading up to the trip is a time of excitement and anticipation, and that’s a feeling that I certainly don’t want to rush.
I’m going to spend time praying, writing, and resting.  I’m going to spend time enjoying friends and family.
I’m going to relax and not worry about how crazy life will become the second I get back to the USA. Because it will.  I’m getting home, diving straight into an 18-credit school semester, getting back to work, and planning for my next big trip, this one being my biggest and scariest yet.  But for now I’m not going to worry about those things.  For now I’m going to focus my time and attention on what matters now.  And what comes afterward can wait.

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Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Uganda January 2012

 

Hosea

I remember the first time I read the book of Hosea.  It was quite recent, actually.  In July.  We were in Costa Rica, and Jules showed it to me.  And it very quickly became my favourite book of the Bible.

Hosea changed everything for me.  It changed the way I view myself–the prostitute, Gomer.  It changed the way I view God–the faithful lover, the redeemer, Hosea.  It changed the way I view the world, the way I love the world.  It gave me just a tiny glimpse into the beauty of God’s love, the way it hurts him to watch us ignoring it.  It allowed me to feel that love, that pain–at least as much as my human heart can.

Hosea is a book of beauty.  It’s poetic and thought-provoking, a real work of art.  It’s laden with striking metaphors and tender imagery.  It’s utterly breathtaking, overwhelming, exhilarating.  Incomprehensible.  Just like God’s love for us.  Mind-blowing.

 When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called,
the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.

Oh, how he loves us.  And yet we continue to prostitute ourselves.  “I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt…in their misery they will earnestly seek me,” God says.  “I long to redeem them, but…they do not cry out to me from their hearts.”

He’s waiting.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Bible Study/thoughts

 

Blue and Gray Half Marathon

You know, if you’d have told me a year ago that I’d be running a half marathon, I wouldn’t have believed you.  All my life I’ve been slightly on the pudgy side, hated running and pretty much anything else active, and had no desire to strive to become a better person–especially not when it hurts.
But look what I did today.  I ran 13.1 miles.  And loved it.
I am not who I was a year ago.

Today Jake and Noah and I woke up at five in the morning, threw on our running clothes, and headed out.  We arrived at the starting line with plenty of time to spare, so we picked up our race packets and wandered about for a bit before deciding to run across the street to WalMart to buy gloves and use a bathroom with no line.
Running to and from WalMart was a great warm up, and we arrived back at the starting line just in time to head out.  We took it slow at first, finding our pace.  Noah went up ahead, because he’s super legit and fast and stuff, and Jake and I hung back and stayed pretty chill.  Jake is super legit and fast too, but he stuck with me for the majority of the race just because it was more fun that way.
We weren’t even through the second mile yet when I got a killer side stitch.  The worst one I’ve ever had.  I’m quite prone to side stitches, but usually they’re mild and short.  But this one was awful–I couldn’t breathe, could barely walk, and it lasted for probably 20 minutes.  Usually digging my fingers up under my ribcage helps, but even that didn’t work.  So we lost a good bit of time there.
But finally the side stitch faded and I was able to get back into a steady pace.  There was this guy in front of us wearing a blue shirt and blue Vibram shoes, and Jake said to me, “We’re going to beat that guy, right?”  So we picked up the pace a bit to overtake him, and kept up that pace until we’d put some distance between us and him.  And for most of the race, he kept up pretty well.  We stayed ahead of him the whole time, but he was always in view.  At least, until about mile 8 or so.  Then we lost him.  By the time I could see the finish line, he was nowhere to be seen.
The course was beautiful.  We ran a little ways through the shopping centre, then along a main road for two miles or so before veering off onto a footpath past a river, which was really pretty, albeit somewhat swampish.  Then we ran up through quite a bit of residential area with quaint, old-fashioned houses and such, and then around a track before heading back the way we came.
For the entire race I was saving up my energy.  I had decided right from the beginning that I was going to have a strong finish.  No matter how hard the rest of the race was, I was going to sprint the last bit and go all out across the finish line.  That’s what I do for all my races.  No matter how much it hurts, walking across the finish line is unacceptable.  Anything short of all I’ve got is unacceptable.
So my goal had been to finish in under three hours.  And for most of the race, it was looking like that would happen.  But somewhere in the last couple of miles I hit a wall and slowed way down.  I had to decide which was more important to me: meeting my time goal, or finishing strong.  There was no way I’d be able to do both.
So I decided to scrap my time goal.  I was bummed, but that’s just the way it had to be.
So I jogged the last two miles, walked a bit, and as soon as the finish line was in view I broke into a mad sprint.  I was giving it all I had, and it hurt so badly, but the feeling of sprinting across that line was one of the best feelings in the world.  Even though by that point I was so tired that sprinting was barely faster than a casual jog.  But it felt like sprinting, so that was good enough for me.  That was the strong finish I’d been looking forward to the whole time.
I received my finisher’s coin, had a nice drink of some healthy organic gatorade-wannabe that I got for free from work a few days ago, then headed to lunch where I stuffed my face with fish and vegetables.
All in all, a good day.
Now I hurt.  A lot.  Mainly my hips, ankles, and the bottoms of my feet.  Apparently pounding 13 miles of pavement in next-to-barefoot shoes is not the best for your soles.  But whatever.  And my right ankle…oh my gosh, it’s killing me.  But it’s the good kind of pain.  It’s the “I did something awesome” kind of pain.
Tonight it’s my joints.  Tomorrow it’ll be my muscles.  But I sure love this feeling.
Thirteen miles and change.  Three hours, ten minutes.  Two very sore feet.  One awesome day.
And what’s awesome is that today’s thirteen miles makes for a total of 100 miles on this pair of running shoes.  They’ve been through a lot with me.  Favourite running shoes ever!

So what’s next, you ask?
Well, obviously now that I’ve done the half, the whole will have to follow.  You can’t just stop at a half.  Or, at least, I can’t.  So…I’m moving out of the country in June, and the full marathon will come sometime before that.  Not sure when.  Not sure how.  But it’s going to happen.  Training will start ASAP…but in the meantime, I sleep.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2011 in Running

 

“Adventure…

…is a path. Real adventure…forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Travelling/Missions

 

Things I’m Thankful For: 151-175

151. Days when everything is chilly and damp and grey.
152. Stickers
153. The sweet voices of my Swazi kids singing to Jesus.
154. Feet that can walk
155. The internet.
156. Writing about hiking.
157. Salt.
158. Napoleon Dynamite
159. Ibuprofen
160. Off the Map
161. The great encouragement I get from writing music alongside people from all over the world each February
162. Grammie and Papap
163. Lime Green
164. Toe socks.
165. Coldplay.
166. Mocrosoft Word.
167. The ability to balance
168. Having the windows open on a nice day
169. A glass of water.
170. Coloured pencils
171. Pianos
172. Going barefoot
173. Jumping in rain puddles
174. The smell of grass
175. The month of March

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2011 in 1,000 Things I'm Thankful For

 

You’re not officially a runner until

you run a double-digit run.

I can’t remember who said that…maybe it was a running blog I read, or maybe it was one of my friends on DailyMile.  I don’t know.  But anyway, I read that back when I still considered 3 miles a ‘long run.’  And I said to myself, ‘It would be so cool if I were able to run double digits! Too bad I’ll never be able to.”

Well, today I ran 10 miles.

I woke up at 7:00 on a Saturday morning (now that’s dedication) and bundled up in layer after layer of running clothes to shield me from the 20-degree, windy morning air.
Then I headed out.
The frustrating thing about running is that I am only allowed to run in my neighbourhood.  So I ran the big loop six times and the little loop once.  It was tedious to say the lease, and I don’t do well with tedium.  But Awolnation made a nice soundtrack and kept me somewhat entertained.
So it took me a bit to warm up on the first lap, and I was really slow and had a somewhat old-person-ish stride at first.  But by the time I finished the first 1.5-mile lap, complete with all the killer hills, I’d warmed up enough to shed my outer layer of clothes, and my stride was a little smoother.
Of course, by the end of the run I had reverted back to the old-person stride again.  Actually, to call it old-person-ish is being a little too generous…it was more of a waddle.  I was in so much pain.
But it felt so good!  Why do I so love to torture myself like this?

The longest I’d ever run before today was 6 miles.  So 10 was really pushing it.  It took everything out of me.  By the middle of the tenth mile I was seriously beginning to wonder if my legs were physically capable of carrying me the rest of the way.
They were, of course.  The body is capable of so much more than we give it credit for.
I hadn’t really, truly pushed myself in quite a while.  So it felt good to do it today.  On a perceived effort scale of 1 to 5, I’d rate it at about a million.  But it was awesome.

My tendinitis is coming back.  At least, I think that’s what it is…It sure feels like it, a dull, achy pain and tenderness on my Achilles tendon right above my heel.  I’d had this same problem a couple of months ago, but then it cleared up…until today.
So I don’t know what it is or what to do about it.  It might just be fatigue from running such a distance.  I really hope that’s all it is.  But it hurts.

So anyway, I’m officially a real runner now.  I’m pretty happy about this.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2011 in Running

 

This Weekend

Has been one of the best ever. So I was at the Global Missions Health Conference in Kentucky this weekend, and I learned so much.  Everything from the practical treatment of things like malnutrition and malaria, to how to get into restricted nations, to what makes Christian medical missions Christian.  Like, this conference covered nearly everything I wanted to know about missions; spiritual, physical, social, and everything in between.  Good stuff.

Also, this weekend my youth group fasted.  Can I just say…how many youth groups really do stuff like that?  And of those groups who do it, how many are for real?  How many realise why they do what they do?  How many care?
My youth group, I think, is one of the select few that do. They blow my mind.
I wasn’t able to be at the actual fasting event because I was at the conference, but even though I couldn’t physically be there, I fasted alongside them and prayed for them.  And, much to my delighted surprise, I made it back from Kentucky just in time to break the fast alongside my youth group.  We had communion together, which I love, and then we pigged out on a grand feast, stuffing our faces until we were about to puke.  But that food was so good after having nothing for thirty hours!
Then we danced.
Yeah, we just turned on some background music to chill to, and within like a minute we spontaneously broke out into a dance rave.  It was fairly hilarious.  We danced until we were dizzy and laughed until we couldn’t breathe. That’s another thing I love about my youth group.  We know how to be serious, how to pray and how to serve and how to care…but we also know how to have a heck of a good time. I’m so blessed to be a part of this. I’m so proud of them.  I just want to brag and brag.  They are the most God-fearing, genuine, passionate, hard-working, and fun group of people I know.
Anyway, bragging over.

It’s been plaguing my mind, though, that as I went without food, feeling utterly sick with hunger, my head aching and my stomach empty and my vision swimming when I tried to stand up too fast, I was able to make it through because I knew there was an end in sight.
But what about all the people for whom there is no end in sight?  What about those people who can’t say “only 12 more hours until I can eat.”  They don’t know when, or even if, their fast will end.
So I almost felt guilty breaking the fast with a feast.  I almost felt bad for eating until I was full again.
But then I realised that this is only the beginning.  The fast is over, but it doesn’t stop there.  Fasting allowed me and my youth group to feel what it’s like to go to bed hungry.  But feeling it is only the first step in fixing it.
Now, it’s time for action.  It’s time to use what we learned this weekend and make a difference.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in Travelling/Missions

 
 
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