We’ll file this under things that only happen when your husband becomes a pastor. 5:52am. Dude ODing on meth shows up on our doorstep asking for help. He said he tried several other houses but no one else answered. Dan’s just happens to be up and sitting at the kitchen table reading the psalms.

We’ve lived here for 8 years, and nothing like this has ever happened.

It’s Hebrews 13:2. Or Matthew 25. Or Revelation 3:20. Jesus in disguise. Just God revealing himself to us, or something.

Dan talked to his mom on the phone (guy had written her name and number down on a sheet of paper). He’s struggled for years. She’s been praying for just as long.

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I decided to finally pull my bike out of the basement this morning. It’s time for me to start taking my cross-training more seriously. And since I committed to wearing my jersey everyday for the next 48 days, I decided to pull out my tri-top for the ride as well. It’s been tucked away in a plastic bin since last fall. I don’t think I’ve worn it since Ironman Wisconsin. As such, it has some hard memories and emotions attached to it – frustration, loss, failure.

But when I flipped it over, I couldn’t help but smile, and my heart felt free. On it were the names of my sponsors – the faithful people who gave so generously to clean water in support of my race efforts. Many of them have been with me since 2010 when I first joined the team and started running. They give me hope. They give me a reason to keep going. They inspire me to live and give freely, allowing faith to lead, because I know they are with me. This is the kingdom of God. This is the body of Christ.

And this is why I believe in child sponsorship. Because I know what it means to be sponsored. It means that those who are frustrated, down, or who could’ve lost hope might gain the strength get up and try again. To move forward, and never give up. And who knows? They might just change the world.

We go farther together.

http://www.worldvision.org/sineadbarry-lukas

Macrise’s Story

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I had to change shirts today. I HAD to.

For one, it had been 4 days.

Also, I ran 10 miles in my “Daniel” jersey this morning…

‘Nuf said.

Which means today I’m wearing my “Macrise” jersey. Macrise is our 7th sponsor child, the one we got by surprise.

Macrise is the one who snuck into a party he wasn’t officially invited to back in November of 2016. We were in his community of Buliisa, Uganda to meet some other sponsor children and to see the recent work that World Vision had been doing.

On that eagerly awaited day, we all lined up in a small room within the ADP (area development project) office  – us sponsors on one side,  children and their parents seated across from us on the other side. One by one, they called off our names and made the initial introductions. It was a nervous time for everyone, especially for the one tiny, little boy who’s name had not been called.

macrise3It took us all a few minutes to realize that a mistake had been made. Somehow, this little guy had wandered into the ADP office amidst all the commotion and eagerly joined in on the festivities. When he realized that everyone but him had someone to visit with, he sank in his chair and his big brown eyes started to well up with tears. The ADP manager carefully handed him off to one of the staff members, where he was gently ushered back outside to the yard.

Every one of us in the room cried some version of “NO! Let him stay!”

“One of us will sponsor him right now,” I proclaimed. There was no way that child was getting left out.

I later learned that Macrise was 8 years old and lives with his parents, 3 brothers, and 2 sisters. Like most families in Buliisa, his parents struggle to provide for their family. They live in a small mud hut with a thatched roof. Their typical diet consists of cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, beans, and vegetables.

Macrise is in primary school and he enjoys literature. He helps at home by carrying water. In his spare time, he likes to play ball games. Of course, he does.  Gosh, I wish I could’ve spent time with him that day.

I have since receive 3 letters from him and slowly, we are getting to know each other better.  I’ve learned that he likes going to church and school with his friends. Turns out he’s a pretty great artist too.

He says he’s happy to have a friend like me.  Precious angel.

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There are currently 90 children in Buliisa who are waiting for sponsors. This number is WAY down from when I was there 2 years ago, but it still means 90 children are being left out of the party.

How about YOU join the party and sponsor a child like Macrise?

Your commitment will not only help provide a child and their community with improved access to clean water, but also healthcare services, training in nutrition, hygiene, and disease prevention. Your support will also provide classrooms and desks for schools, and advocacy for children with disabilities, including wheelchairs and access to education. And through partnerships with local churches, children learn about the love of Jesus.

My words simply can’t do it justice.

To learn more about World Visions unique (and effective) community development model or to sponsor a child, please visit my website at www.worldvision.org/sineadbarry-lukas.

Dean & Jean do Riviera Maya

“Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun (do di-do do)
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right” – George Harrison

Little darling, it has been a loooooong, cold lonely winter.

So Daniel and I decided we needed a trip. I told him I want warm, sandy beaches and an oceanfront room – I want to wake up and have the roar of the waves greet me every morning. That’s all I want. The rest was up to him. I really didn’t care.


IMG_8012We left our house at 4am on Monday the 21st and I literally had no idea where we were going. Daniel planned it all and had been teasing “Michigan” for weeks. It wasn’t until we reached our layover in Denver that I learned we’d be flying to Cancun. Great. Again, I’m good, as long as I had my beach.

Plus, that’s totally fun, right? I love surprises.
Then this happened.

 

GROUP ONE?!?! What?!?!? We’re going FIRST CLASS?!?! WHAT?!??!?

THAT never happens. I travel A LOT but not like this. Apparently our original flight was cancelled due to weather and we got an upgrade. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!! Let the FUN BE-GIN! We’re going to ME-HI-CO (say it right)!! I’ve never been to the Caribbean!

 

When we landed, this happened, which was just fun. I mean, come on. Every detail.

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This guy took us to the Valentin Imperial Riveria Maya Hotel. If you’ve been there, let’s gush about it right now. Seriously. It’s perfect. Add to that that I’ve never done an all-inclusive resort, so HHHHEEEYYYY!

Once we arrived, they immediately served us appetizers and champagne – we didn’t even have to ask – I still don’t think I realized what goodness we were in for.

 

(I started writing this blog over a week ago, and life just…. you know…. doesn’t provide the 37 hours I need in a DAY. I give up. No more writing. Here’s the rest of the story in pictures)

First of all, the FOOD (ok, and a little more writing). Unbelievable. Buffets for breakfast and lunch. 7 different restaurants to choose from for dinner.

  • The tomatoes were SO SWEET. I usually emptied the salad bar tray – shamelessly – every day and ate so. much. bruschetta.
  • There was a dress code enforced at most of the restaurants, which required the men to wear long pants. Dan didn’t pack any. So we purchased a pair from the gift shop that were far above our normal price range for pants. AND it was completely worth it.
  • I think our favorite was the Japanese, but the Mexican and Italian also blew us away. Oh man.
  • YUM. Just yum.

 

Our backyard.

 

La playa.

 

Poolside.

 

Resort.

 

A+ trip Deaner. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

PS: Date your spouse.

PPS: You know the honeymoon dress collection made a comeback, with a few new additions, but this is the only picture Daniel got. :/

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How and why I started cooking

When Daniel and I got married, we made a deal:
Sinead will do all the cleaning and Daniel will do all the cooking and grocery shopping.  I hate (and am terrible at) cooking and he hates (and is terrible about) cleaning.  Match made in heaven.

Last fall, Daniel and I happened to be in Hanover (or somewhere like that way up north) for a cross-country meet. If you’ve ever been to one, you know you drive, you watch your kid start, you see your kid run by once, maybe twice, during they’re race, and you see them finish. It’s all over in about 20 minutes. Then you drive home. Well Hanover is far, and I didn’t feel like driving back and forth like that. So we stopped over at our friends, John & Amber’s house – which happens to be in Hanover –  and found them doing their late afternoon thing – one child at the dining room table doing homework, one child in the basement practicing for band, Amber cooking up something that smelled delicious, and John walking in the door from a day at work. It was just so charming.

I was inspired. I decided I wanted to cook for my family.

Beyond that, Daniel and I have this point of tension that goes something like this…
D: What do you want for dinner?
S: I don’t care. Food.

I hate being asked that question, and he hates my answer.

Plus, our lives had changed a lot since we got married, and with new jobs and working situations, one person doing all of one or the other just wasn’t working for us any more.

So, how about this… a meal plan. A 3-week rotation of meals that are easy enough for either one of us to prepare. I found amazing recipes, most of which were from Tasty – you know those instructional videos on Facebook that looks so simple and sooooo good – and most of them are one-pot or crock pot, so they’re easy and don’t take a ton of time.  I dropped them into a google calendar that we share.

It’s been an awesome change for us.
Plus, I’ve found that I actually do like cooking AND I’m pretty good at it.

I’m happy to share the link to our calendar if you wanna do the same.

And we all lived happily ever after. The end.

 

 

2017…

Sigh.

This year was not my favorite. Not even close.

Aside from the fact that it paled in comparison to the last few…
it was just hard.

So. Hard.

Painful.

Rip my freakin’ heart out ‘cuz I HATE YOU 2017!! <<< temper tantrum

I will say this…
One day, one year…
I will look back on 2017 and be entirely thankful for it. It will be one of those years where I will say “I would’ve never asked for it, but I’m so glad it happened.”

But as of right now… I’m glad it’s over. I am hopeful for tomorrow.

I have a sinful tendency to dwell on the dark and miss the light.

In reality, 2017 hasn’t been all bad. There’s been SO MUCH good.
And since, I’ve made it a practice every year on New Year’s Eve to recall the highlights, I’m going to try to expand on what is normally just a bulleted list of one-liners tucked away in my journal, and give it the credit it’s due.

Here are my Top Nine of 2017:

#9
We finished our basement. We now have so much more usable space for hanging and entertaining. Unfortunately, I don’t have a great picture of the finished product, but it’s awesome and I love it.

 

#8
Traveling with the girls. I travel a lot for work, and for the most part, my family hates it when I do. This year, I got to take the girls with me a few times – California in March, Chicago in June, DC & Miami in November. They also got to visit NYC w/ my sister in June.

 

#7
Christmas was really fun. First Annual Barry-Lukas Christmas cup. Girls crushed the boys.

 

#6
Over $15K raised for clean water in Africa. I know really incredible and generous people.
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#5
Chick-Fil-A Day with Shawn. 24 hours straight with my 22 year old son, in a tent, with free food and unlimited sweet tea, and then you win 52 free #1 meals from Chick-Fil-A.

 

#4
Work. I still love my job. More than anything I love the people I get to work with. I remain amazed by the way they love.

 

#3
I swam 2.4 miles in a freakin’ lake! Do you remember how scared I used to be to swim in open water? I do.

#2
Hamilton: An American Musical. Silly but such a HUGE part of this year. Saw it, sort of by surprise, in March. I won what should’ve been a $$$ ticket by making a donation to clean water.  I probably listened to the soundtrack 3,405,857 times since (and in so doing, managed to really piss Daniel off a few times).
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#1
Awaken East was born. I’m so unbelievably proud of Daniel Lukas. The man blows my mind every Sunday in all the ways. After a long time away, and a lot of healing, I have a church home and I have my husband (and Jesus) to thank for that.

 


Awesomeness of honorable mention:

Uncle Brian visits in June.

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My girls saran wrap Josh’s desk.

Hotel rooms with Julie, Laura & Alex.

Beyonce sing/dance offs in the living room (Yes, there is video. No, you can’t see it.)

Late night facetimes with the Croslands.

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The pugs and my dogchild finally meet (and we laughed and laughed and laughed).

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Races/Events

Amaya getting her license and her car. Game changer.

Daniel, Egla & Shadrack visit the US.
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Speaking at NLG.

Paid off the car. Student loans and house is all the debt we carry. Boom!

Twin Cities Marathon – it poured rain, but we had SO MUCH FUN.

I watched all sorts of people around me take on HUGE challenges. I’m so proud of them.

Finally saw the Phantom of the Opera.


See?
2017 had a lot of good. Even more that isn’t even pictured here.
So. Much. Good.


To those of you who got me through,
you know who you are…
THANK YOU.

 

 

Sponsored by Love

I pulled out all my letters last night. I was sharing with some teammates about how awesome these kids are and how absolutely amazing it is that we can call them “friends” – that we can have any sort of relationship with them. I am moved to tears every time I read their letters, and this morning is no different.

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Alice from Zambia

14 year old Alice recently wrote “I am very happy to hear that your husband Dan is a pastor. May Almighty God be with him.” – –  This is a 14 year old!

Then, I found my most recent letter from 11 year old Daniel, who will be here two weeks from today (!!!), and among meeting my whole family and visiting my home, he mentioned wanting to see a horse – and it messes me up because it’s so simple.

His mama Egla often writes to me too, which is just so special, because she’s a mama and I’m a mama, and we have that bond. She’s got the brightest smile in the universe. She begins her last letter with “We love you and your family so much.”

At World Vision, we talk about how sponsoring a child is a personal way to show God’s love to a child in need. And IT IS! The deep roots of generations of poverty are torn up when we share our abundant resources with children and their communities, and the future comes alive with hope for them when share our love and encouragement.

But as much as it is a personal way for us to show God’s love to them, God uses it as a way for Him to personally show His love to this American adult, who has all her physical needs met and way more “stuff” than I know what to do with. My poverty is spiritual and relational, and I need Jesus desperately.

He said whatever you did for the least of these my brothers and sisters – whatever you did for those who were hungry or thirsty or naked or homeless or orphaned or widowed – whatever you did for them, you did for me. Whatever we do to meet the needs of those who have less than us, we actually do it for Jesus. They represent Him.

And they write me letters and tell me they love me.

Do you get it?

We could all use a few more regular reminders that we are so very loved by the Almighty God. Imagine if we all knew and experienced that love just a little bit more, and if we would actually let it sink into our hearts and let it change us.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we have to do anything for God to love us. God’s love is not earned – it is free and unconditional. We don’t have to run races, give money or some sort of perfect life. He loves us no matter what. We know this.

But when does this knowledge move from our head to our heart?  When do we feel or experience it? How do we receive it? Are our eyes open to see it? Are our ears open to hear when he says “I love you”? Can we ever feel, see and hear that too much?

He communicates his love for us in so many profound ways.

Maybe the real question is, do we even want to receive it? Do we even care?

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Look into the eyes of a child. Hold their hand. Learn their story. Be their friend.

I’d be happy to introduce you.