A big reason to run

Fourteen years ago I ran my one and only marathon. My husband, Dave, ran his first that day as well. It was November, and we were living in Okinawa, Japan. The course was incredibly hilly, and the weather was unnaturally hot for that time of year. With the constant high humidity, the effects were brutal. More people dropped out of that race than finished it, and several were rushed off in ambulances due to heat stroke.

I finished well beyond my expected time and thought, “That’s it. I’m done.”

I’ve never run another since.

Dave however, ran several in the next few years.

Then he had an eight-year gap.

This summer, he decided to try it again. But he needed a really good reason, one bigger than his desire to drop a few pounds and increase his endurance.

So he decided to run for World Vision.

I offered to do some of his training runs with him. One weekend, I even ran a 14-miler (he says it was only 13, but I’m adding the distance between the end of the trail and the parking lot–and padding it a bit.)

School started then, with all its weekend activities, so the next weekend, when he ran 16, I ran only 8 of it with him. The next week, only 6. The last couple weekends, a friend of his ran the first half or so with him.

But after his friend or I called it quits, Dave would grab his iPod and head back to the trail, slogging out more miles.

 

He tells me that when his hips ache, when his knees burn, he remembers two little girls from our last trip to Uganda. The first is little Comfort, abandoned in the Katanga Slum by her mother and father, placed in Dave’s arms by neighbors who didn’t want to watch her die of starvation. In recent pictures we’ve seen of her, her eyes are still somber, but her cheeks are full, and her arms have the plump roundness they should have at 10 months of age. In every picture, she’s cuddled in the arms of the nurse at Mercy Children’s Home, who looks pretty darn proud of her progress.

The second little girl is Scovia. She’s six but about the size of a four year old. She was born with damaged legs; her mother died; and her father left her locked in their shack for days at a time while he looked for work. When she was rescued by Mercy Children’s Home, she had pressure sores, malnutrition, and severe developmental delays. Now she walks pushing a wheeled contraption, she babbles happily, and she has unending, overflowing JOY.

Comfort and Scovia are healthy today because of child sponsorship, because people who are not worried where their next meal is coming from have concerned themselves with those who do have to worry about such basic needs.

Mercy Children’s Home and hundreds of other orphanages around the world benefit from child sponsorship. Two of the largest sponsoring agencies are Compassion International and World Vision.

So even though Dave is running the Chicago Marathon this Sunday specifically for World Vision, in a way he’s running it for all the orphanages in the world, for all the children who need a safe place and someone to love them. He’s ultimately running it for Jesus, who welcomes children and holds them in His arms.

If you would like to sponsor Dave, please visit this link:

http://team.worldvision.org/site/TR/TeamWorldVision/TeamWorldVision?px=1375760&pg=personal&fr_id=2120

All proceeds go directly to World Vision.

Thanks,
Jen

 

 

Remember, remember, remember

Another guest photo! Since Judy is taking a media arts class, she’s been using the camera to take some very fun shots, like this one of our kids plus a couple extra enjoying the trampoline.

The entire Old Testament can be summed up as a recurring cycle of creation, fall, redemption. It starts with the capital-C Creation: the first, tragic fall, and then the redemption promised by God in chapter 3. The cycle is repeated on big levels—the creation of the nation Israel, its refusal to enter the Promised Land, God’s raising up Joshua as a triumphant leader—and on individual levels–Abraham receives the promise of a son, he lacks trust and has Ishmael by Hagar, Isaac is miraculously conceived and born.

When you read large chunks of the OT at a time, you get the feel that God is constantly having to remind His people of His faithfulness. He recounts their history to them time and time again, through songs, through the speeches of prophets, through annual celebrations and feasts, through rituals and sacrifices. Over and over they are reminded that they failed, God disciplined, they cried out, and God redeemed. The message is this: trust Him so the cycle does not repeat.

Things change in the New Testament, as the biggest redemption story of all is told. Through Christ’s work on the cross, those trusting Him are redeemed for all time. No further sacrifice is needed.

Yet, on a smale scale, I still see the OT cycle in my own life. God creates new work in me, yet I become complacent or proud or angry or distant, and God must draw me near again.

Just like the Old Testament Israelites, I need constant reminders of God’s faithfulness so I don’t continue to repeat this cycle. Recently I read Psalm 78, one of those lo-o-o-ng reminder Psalms that reviews Israel’s history from Jacob to David, and it gave me the idea of reviewing my own history with God. I don’t have as much to look back on as the Israelites—or as much as the 70 and 80-something saints I’ve been interviewing lately for Wheaton Academy publications—but at age 42 I’ve had a good 25-plus years of walking with God, and He’s revealed Himself to me again and again.

So here’s the beginning of my own Psalm 78, starting when I was 16:

-When I was 16 I led a kids’ Sunday School class in a downtown federal housing project. One of the older kids from the project—his name was Peanut—was my guide, taking me safely through the project, telling me which sections not to enter as I gathered children each week. I remember praying as I walked, for my own safety and for the wellbeing of the kids who lived there. I knew the presence of God as I walked there.

-I was 17 when I first experienced a time when the Lord gave direct leading. I just knew I was supposed to go to Grace College, 11 hours from home, sight unseen, without knowing a single other person going there.

-Near the end of my junior year in college, Dave and I, engaged at the time, broke up after dating for 2 ½ years. I set my ring aside, spent a lot of time alone (he did, too), and came to a point at which I could truly say, “Lord, I love You first. To marry this guy or stay single—I’m waiting to hear from You.” Though that was a difficult time, it was truly a sweet time—maybe the first time I can remember losing a sense of time and place with the joy of fellowshipping with God.

-My first teaching job at a public middle school in Warsaw, Indiana, the tiny, misfit youth group Dave and I started during those years, the mission trip we took together to Argentina—there are so many ways I remember God leading and directing and teaching me during these years.

-In 1998 we knew we were supposed to go—somewhere. I remember filling out the application for overseas teaching and looking at this question: Are you willing to go anywhere God wants you to go? Well, what do you say to that? I originally wanted to go to a Spanish-speaking country, but God made it very clear we were supposed to go to Okinawa, Japan.

-When I went to the doctor in Okinawa to confirm my first pregnancy, he looked at the ultrasound and counseled Dave and I to expect a miscarriage. Separately we were both given the same verse to hold onto—“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you”—and we went back to the next doctor visit sure that, no matter what the outcome of the visit, God would give us peace and comfort. Emily is the result of that pregnancy!

-We returned in 2000 and went through a difficult time of doubting that we were supposed to be back in the States. God reassured me so abundantly of His love during that time that I began to rethink how I viewed God, comparing my thoughts of Him with the way He is revealed throughout Scripture and in the person of Christ, learning to think “rightly” of Him.

I’ll pause here so the blog entry doesn’t run too long—maybe part two will be my next entry. Writing this has been a wonderful reminder to me that God has revealed Himself to me over and over—and these are just the “big” ways; there are too many small things to include in between all the “big.” Maybe you want to write your own Psalm 78—or if you don’t feel that you can, ask God to help you see the ways He is working in your life.

Thanks for reading—hope it was helpful.

Jen