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.

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Big Brick Weekend

When I woke up this morning, I didn’t think I had 18 in me. In fact, even when I was going to bed last night, I seriously doubted I would run this morning.

My long ride went really well yesterday. We biked the entire IMWI course (112 miles) and I felt great most of the day, despite getting off course 3 different times (might’ve had something to do with the 3 bottles of coke I drank during the ride).

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The 112 mile bike course. 5600 ft of elevation gain.

With about 12 miles to go, I missed a turn that lead us 7 miles in the wrong direction. When I finally got back to town for dinner, my blood sugar started to drop fast. I took 2 fast bites of dinner and started to shake. I thought I was going down. I didn’t, thank God, but I wasn’t able to eat more than a banana before I went to bed.

In addition to all of that, I got less than 5 hours of sleep. I’m allergic to something in lake water, which means every time I swim outside, I end up super congested. I couldn’t breathe through my nose at all last night.

Needless to say, when I woke up, I was sure I wasn’t gonna run. Maybe I’d walk some, or jog a few miles. But no way could I go 18. I skipped my normal pre-long run meal, and opted for decaf coffee, a creme dream donut and beef jerky. I planned to hang out with my buddy Tye and support our other teammates most of the day.

But IRONMAN Wisconsin is 4 weeks away, and if I didn’t get this long run in today, with my teammates, I’m not sure if or when I would. So I went. And just kept going.

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This is me at mile 13 running along the lakefront path in Madison. Feeling fine. Having a good run with great friends.

I made it 18 miles today. Makes no sense to me.

Glory to God. We are capable of SO MUCH MORE than we think.

Mary walks 18 miles A DAY to provide her family with water. You can read her story here.

https://www.teamworldvision.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.participant&participantID=64773

What’s wrong with me

I know what’s wrong with you.

It’s a phrase that usually makes me cringe. Nobody likes it when someone points out their flaws. Or worse yet, when your doctor tells you that there’s someone wrong with you.

That’s what happened to me last week.

For the last year and a half, I’ve been struggling with increasing levels of fatigue. I just haven’t been myself.

Right out of the gate…
No. This is not because I run marathons or even because I’m training for an Ironman. Obviously, that was something we considered, but all my doctors LOVE my level of activity. One said “I wish all my patients did what you do.”

So first I corrected my diet. I almost bought some of those expensive health shakes from a friend, but instead, opted to just try eating real food for a change. Dan and I did the Whole30 back in February of last year, which eliminated all potential allergens and irritants – dairy, gluten, sugar, etc. People claim that this diet gives them a level of energy they’ve never felt before. “Tiger blood” they say.  Didn’t do it for me.

So I started chasing down other potential causes. I tried other cleanses. My doctors ran every test humanly possible. Everything came back better than normal. Basically I am the epitome of health ;), but I feel like garbage all the time.

Finally, this spring my doctor suggested I have a sleep study done.

“Maybe you have sleep apnea.”

That’s ridiculous, I thought. Sleep apnea is for people who snore and struggle with their weight.  Plus, sleep studies are expensive. I think I’ll look into some other things.

But after undergoing a series of additional tests and second opinions and still coming up with nothing to explain my malaise, I decided to try it. I had exhausted just about every other option, and was literally tired of it.

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Turns out the doctor was right. I have sleep apnea, a condition in which people stop breathing while they sleep. According to my study, I stop breathing up to 16 times an hour while I’m asleep. It’s bad news and can cause a host of other serious issues. But it totally explains why I never wake up feeling refreshed or well rested. It explains my brain fog. It explains my lack of motivation or normal capacity to do the things I want to do.

As crazy as it sounds, I’m so happy about it. It’s so great to know what’s wrong with me! I’m so relieved. I’m relieved to finally have an answer and a way to fix it. I’ll have to start sleeping with a device called CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) that will keep my airways open and ensure I’m getting enough oxygen throughout the night. Definitely not the sexiest thing and it might not be super comfortable at first, but I’m ok with that. I just want to stop feeling this way and get back to living life to it’s fullest.

All that to say, God’s grace has been sufficient and in my opinion, it’s basically a miracle that I’ve been able to keep training at the level of intensity I do. It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Ironman Wisconsin is less than 5 weeks away, and my biggest training weekends are staring me straight in the face. This weekend, I head back out to Madison to tackle my first ever century ride (100 miles), a swim in Lake Monona, and an 18 mile run. This is getting REAL, folks.

Most days, I feel like doing ABSOLUTELY nothing. But kids in Africa need clean water. I care, and so I run. Relentless forward motion. We will end the water crisis in our lifetime. I’m not stopping, no matter how crappy I feel, until we do.

Please donate – especially this weekend. http://www.teamworldvision.org/participant/sineadtris

 

RIP Timothy

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On July 19, Daniel and I received the very hard news that one of our sponsor children in Bartabwa, Kenya passed away tragically in a flood. We are both heartbroken and without words. Please say a prayer for his family.

This is personal.

We are fortunate enough to have friends and colleagues in the area where our sponsor child Timothy lived and they have been able to help us piece together his story.

One of them was his teacher, Jan Kipsong, she too devastated by the loss of her favorite pupil. She told me that Timothy was a wonderful boy – he was joyful and had many friends. He used to look after his father’s livestock (cows, sheep and goats) and it was in the evening hours, as he was trying to cross a river to take the animals home from grazing, that he was caught up in the “hungry waters” of the flood. It is possible that their livestock did not make it across either, so on top of losing a child, they may have lost their financial security as well.

This is a recent news story from the area where he lives, very likely the same river.

Our kid’s job today was to take our pugs out to the yard and scoop food into their dishes.

Meanwhile, we live in a world where 10-year-olds walk alone for many miles and across dangerous waters to help their family’s survive. Ironically, Timothy lived in an area that lately has been ravaged by drought and famine – one far worse than what we witnessed in the 80’s – but when the rain finally came, it came too fast. A flash flood that should’ve produced hope and replenishment, instead wreaked havoc and stole an innocent life – from ALL of us.

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In these situations, it is easy to wonder how a good and loving God could allow such suffering and tragedy.

I believe he doesn’t allow it. We do. People allow it.

Dan and I will be sending a financial gift to help the family and are working to shift the sponsorship to one of Timothy’s siblings. We want to walk as closely as we can with them in their grief, knowing that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted” and we want to be close to Him.

You can help by sponsoring a child in Timothy’s community. There are currently 273 children in Bartabwa who are waiting to be sponsored. Child sponsorship is an opportunity for you to build a relationship with one special child and help their whole community have access to vital resources like clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, education, economic opportunities, and more. Let me know if you’re interested.

You can also make a one-time donation in honor of Timothy to provide clean, safe water his community. Development begins with clean water. Follow the link here to make a donation. https://www.teamworldvision.org/index.cfm…

We love you Timothy and we will continue to fight for you.

 

When Grief Gets Complicated

Written by my new friend, Amy.  I’m thankful for her.

As much as I want to “write” this into the story of my life, I don’t. Not yet.

But I can relate.

Grace In The Dark

My grandfather died three days ago. The news crushed me. Questions like, “I’m sorry for your loss.” and, “Do you need anything?” came from a handful of precious friends but, mostly, there was silence. An echo of the loneliness I often feel in response to all things family. At first, I’d wished I had more support. Then came the question that made me want to transition back into the realm of near-invisible: “Were you and your grandfather close?”

Yes…and…no. It’s complicated.

It wasn’t so much the question itself that bothered me; I was thankful someone was thoughtful enough to take interest. It was knowing that my answer would stop the conversation in its tracks that made my chest ache. It would result in awkward silence, and I just didn’t have the emotional energy for that.

My biological family is dysfunctional. Extremely dysfunctional. Generation after generation of verbally abusive motherhood stopped…

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19512533_10155540584737835_1220521423_nOh yeah! 72 miles DONE!
  • 69.1 miles on the bike – not sure where or how I lost that .9. I did make one wrong turn, but I accidentally added a mile on at the beginning when I forgot my sunglasses/bug guards and had to return home. So who knows what happened, but for the first time EVER I did not feel compelled to ride around the block a few more times just to get to seventy even. 69.1 is GOOD for today. 🙂

  • 2101 ft of elevation gain. The Madison course will have more than this during the first 70 miles of Ironman, but this is good practice.
  • + a 30 minute brick run (right after the ride)
 
The wind was reckless – 18+ mph – which for whatever reason, I wasn’t expecting this morning. It seemed like it was hitting me from every direction, but those 10 miles through Lake Elmo were especially harrowing. I never got much of a break and it really slowed me down. Whatevs – One more epic bike ride closer to 2017 IRONMAN Wisconsin.
 
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how good running feels after these long rides. At first, it’s weird – my legs feel all wobbly and my knees are stiff, but usually within the first mile everything falls back into place and I’m able to find a comfortable pace. It’s been awesome to have Dan join me for those few miles, after being alone on the bike for so long. It’s very welcomed company.
 
All in all, it was a GREAT day because a gift of $140 came in from a very generous friend around mile 20 and it was just the encouragement I needed. I’d ride long every day if I knew 3 kids would receive a life free from long, dangerous walks and sickness from dirty water.
 
For now… I’m at a 3,300 calorie deficit, and I’ve got a 15 mile run scheduled tomorrow. Time to eat everything.
 

Take me deeper

I suppose it’s time for an update. There’s no big news. Just subtleties in the story that might be worth noting.

First of all, my feet are fine. Thank you. That’s still the #1 question I get these days.

Training is… going.
After returning from my weekend in Madison… when I was finally done with my pity party… I came back resolved. I knew what I needed to do, so I did it. I had my hardest training week yet in front of me – 13 hours and 50 minutes of training required. I’m proud to say I completed 13:55. I gave myself an A.

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Thankfully, this past week was a recovery week – only 10 hours required – though that got cut way short due to a stomach bug I woke with in the middle of the night on Tuesday. That forced me down to a complete rest for two days – which I don’t feel bad about. Not. One. Bit.

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I really hate the red though.


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This day was funny.

I did a couple more open water swims. I really love being outdoors  – I mean, look at this! This is 2 miles from my house. Just gorgeous. MN summers are the BEST.

I’m still terrified of the dark depths of the lake. I will acknowledge that it’s a bit of an irrational fear, but it’s real for me and I have to overcome it. I told a friend earlier this week that it’s like God took me at my word when I sang the song “Oceans”…

~ Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander ~

Now the question is, will I take God at his?

~ And my faith will be made stronger
in the presence of my Savior ~ 


I do know this. There is a massive work being done on my heart. So big that I can’t even wrap my head around it yet. I mean, there’s a faith vs. fear/testing/dependence element to this, for sure. I expected that. But this other stuff… Dang.

It sucks. It’s like I’m in a furnace, undergoing a refining process – a burning away of some pretty nasty impurities and junk that’s rising to the surface. I didn’t sign up for this part.

I’m struggling.

Good thing I have this live-in pastor who pointed me to Jesus. That was so smart of him.

The Parable of The Vineyard Workers
-and-
The Parable of The Lost Son

So I’ve got some soul searching ahead of me.

Maybe I’ll read up on the refining process – iron ore, in particular?

And Leviathan… I’m guessing there might be something there for me too. 😉


God is at work.
In me.
And in kids in Africa.

Will you let him work in you too?
http://www.teamworldvision.org/participant/sineadtris