Category Archives: Team World Vision

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.


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.


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.


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.


I really hate the red though.


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
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?

Madison Training Weekend #1 in 10 Tweets

Here’s a recap of my weekend in 10 tweets.

  1. Traveling to Madison for two days of #Ironman training requires a full-sized suitcase to carry all your swim, bike and running gear.
  2. When facing into your toughest challenges, you NEED a friend like @JohnCrosland who sticks with you and can handle your dark side. #gofarthertogether
  3. The hills on Friday’s 22-mile course were unrelenting! I hate them. Thankful for @Kali & @Tye’s kindness & encouragement. #ironcouple

    The before pic. There is no after. 

  4. After the ride, I’m pretty beat up, mentally and physically. I’m drowning in doubt. I breakdown in my hotel room and want to give up. #whydidIsignupforthispost
  5. @JulieBierschenk & @LauraTalento show up at the hotel at 10:30 and by 11pm, we’re crying with laughter. SO glad they came when they did.  #smileyface17757089_10155292392173933_363619257264319610_n
  6. First time in a wetsuit. First open water swim. 40° temps. You can tell by the look on my face I am terrified. But I got in there & did it. #proud
  7. Saturday morning brought wind, rain, and bike problems on the #Ironman course and forced us to call it early. Feeling super #defeated.
  8. I LOVE my #family. They are my heart.

  9. Friends showed their love from afar and 7 more kids got clean water! #worthit
  10. My 3 biggest takeaways – relationship, humility, and resolve. “I’ll do better. I promise you, I’ll do better. I must do better.” @janekipsang  #teamworldvision


16 weeks to go.
Every child deserves clean water. That’s why I tri. Please give generously.


Drought: A prolonged absence of something. An extended shortage. Water related.

Last week was a recovery week for Ironman training – a prescribed period of reduced training intensity and volume to rest and replenish. Only 9 hours and 15 minutes of training was prescribed on the plan. Only 9 hours… I know, right?

I was thankful. It was going to be an extremely busy week at work. I hosted an event for 250 people on Thursday night to celebrate the beginning of the Twin Cities Marathon training season, and then flew out to Detroit on Friday morning to help with the Global 6K, where over 900 people were in attendance. So, with everything going on, I fully expected to miss some workouts and I was OK with that  – to this point, I’ve been super consistent, not missing a single workout for 3 weeks in a row.

What I didn’t factor into the equation was a) how exhausting event prep and execution is and b) how much even short trips wear me down. While my IM training was significantly reduced, I really didn’t rest much and sleep was at a minimum. My recovery week did not provide me with much replenishment.

So it’s Sunday night, and I’m staring down a new week of training, back to the full-on grind.


This is what I have to look forward to this week. 12 hours & 45 mins.

I feel
and alone.

It’s drought season.

I’m looking at the week ahead of me and questioning everything. To be honest, I don’t want to do it. The motivation is just not there. I haven’t received an ounce of financial support in 3 weeks, so what’s the point? I’m not doing this because I have a dream of finishing an Ironman. If people in Africa aren’t receiving clean water, why bother?

But I committed to doing this, and people have already given very generously. For that, I am so thankful. That is not lost on me. Not at all. But in these moments of radio-silence, when I’m not receiving those blessed emails or texts that scream “SOMEONE DONATED!!” … I feel alone. And the negative voices takeover. They say…

“Nobody cares anymore.”
“Nobody cares about your training anymore.”
“Nobody cares about YOU anymore.”
“Nobody cares about kids in Africa.”

“Give up.”
“It’s not worth it.”

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

So I look to Jesus.
Because apparently he knows something about abandonment.
In the midst of unimaginable physical pain, abandoned by all but a few of his friends and followers, and facing his imminent death, when it would be almost impossible for anyone to think clearly, he called out to God, “Why have you forsaken me?”

And yet, through all of this, he endured out of deep love and devotion for you and for me. Strangely, he had hope. He knew that God was going to do something amazing. That, although he couldn’t see it and he certainly wasn’t feeling it, there was joy coming. He knew that because of God’s promise, there was resurrection and LIFE on the other side – for him and for all of us.

Mother Teresa saw these lonely experiences as invitations to unite herself more closely with Jesus in his abandonment on the cross and with the poor, who also feel abandoned.

Drought in KenyaIMG_5638

Speaking of the poor, there’s a severe drought in Kenya currently and it is affecting the community where my sponsor child, Daniel, and his family live. In Baringo County, household distances to water is now three times longer than usual (the usual is 6 kilometers, or 3-4 miles). What does this mean for Daniel? Is he missing school because he has to walk farther? How is this affecting their food supply? Are they being forced to drink dirty water again? Have they been sick?


Does Daniel’s mama, Egla feel abandoned? To have seen so much progress in her community since 2007 when World Vision began their work there, wide-spread development and growth, clean water flowing and her children thriving, feeling blessed and hopeful, and then this happens? The water goes away. Is she wondering where God is now?

There’s a lot I don’t know, but I do know this – if my family didn’t have clean water, I would do whatever it takes to get it for them, and I would be on my knees everyday, praying that God would provide somehow.

This drought has been declared a national disaster in Kenya, and yet, we don’t hear about it in the news. It’s a silent killer that’s easy for the rest of the world to ignore. But it’s taking the lives of nearly 1,000 children under the age of 5 every day. That’s more than all the war and all the violence we see in the news today.

It remains the #1 preventable cause of death.
The #1 preventable cause of mothers and fathers suffering through the loss of a child.

Today, I’m writing to Daniel and Egla, and I’m praying this prayer from Psalm 63 with and for them.

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.

And our faith – their faith being far greater than my own – will remind us that God is good and there is a joy coming, so we must endure.

Oh God, pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; Pour out your Spirit on your offspring, and your blessing on your descendants.

$250 will provide clean water for a family of 5 in Africa.


I always struggle to find the right words in the days after these big events. One, because I’m so exhausted in every possible way, and two because how can I reduce these moments to words when there’s so much emotion and so much meaning. It’s hard to explain until you experience it.

So this is a start, but I’m nowhere near done.

There were several times yesterday while swimming, riding or running where doubt consumed my thoughts – I’ve worked so hard over the last 4 months just to get to where I was yesterday. How will ever be able swim nearly 3x what I swam yesterday – 4x what I biked – nearly 3x what I ran??

This is how.
By being surrounded.
People. Community. Friends. Support. Love.

I’m still scared out of my mind, but people step through fear with me.

I am being emptied, only to be refilled.

To every person who showed up so far THANK YOU. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve needed you, and you being there has sustained me. A hundred million thank yous.

I have a LONG way to go to reach my goal of bringing 500 people clean water this year. I didn’t hit my short goal yesterday, which only means I need to get better and bolder about advocating for the women and children I run for. And I will. I promise I will. I will do more. I will do better. I will do better. For all of you, and for all of them.

For all of us.
Join me.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

A look back…

Last night, right before bedtime, I received a text message informing me that someone had made a donation that provided clean water for 5 children (AMAZING!) The gift was from a family who has given every single year I’ve been with Team World Vision, starting back in 2010 when I ran my first half marathon.

textI sent them a text right away to say thank you. I said, “You’ve been with me since day 1.”

He replied, “It’s our pleasure. Pretty crazy where God has taken you on this journey. Grateful to be a part of it.”

It got me to thinking how thankful I am for those people who were with me in the beginning. For the people who gave; whether their gifts were large or small, these were the people who, without their encouragement and support, I might not be here today, and I would’ve missed all that God has done.

Friends who have given at any point in the past – I need you to see and understand all that your gifts have done. So let’s take a look back…

  • My first race ever – I mean EVER – was the Minneapolis Rock ‘n Roll 13.1 in August 2010. I wasn’t a runner when I started, and when I finished, I swore I’d never do it again. But today, I couldn’t tell you how many half marathons I’ve done. Too many to count.
  • Every time I finished a half marathon, I would say “I will never double that distance. People who run marathons are nuts.” I have since completed 4 marathons, and twice, ran the Twin Cities Marathon course, not on the day of the race, just because.
  • For the past 2 years, I’ve had the best birthdays of my life, running my age in miles, from Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater where I was born, to somewhere in Minneapolis, 37 and 38 miles west, respectively, surrounded by friends and family.
  • Last fall, I had the hair-brained idea to run a 50K race. I finished, but it wasn’t pretty.  Regardless, I have challenged my body in ways I never imagined possible, and I have achieved my goals.
  • I swore I’d never attempt a triathlon. I just wasn’t interested. I wasn’t a swimmer and cycling terrifies me. Yet, here I am, taking on Ironman, because I’ve learned that with God, anything is possible. I know I can’t do it on my own, but I know I’m not alone. That gives me just enough confidence to step out of the boat and try.
  • I was hired by World Vision in 2014, carrying a fire that I believe God gave me (in 2013) to grow the Twin Cities team to 500 runners.
  • In my first two years on staff, God did exactly what he said he was going to do. In 2015, my first year, the team’s total impact grew by 212% over the year before. Last year, our impact increased again by 147%, and we became the first city outside of Chicago to raise over $1M.
  • I’ve traveled around the country and around the world – 2 trips to Africa w/ 16 teammates to witness the work that is being done because of your generosity.  One of those teammates was my husband, Dan.11221604_1030437937000888_5489625573777140422_o (1)
  • Our marriage has changed for the better because of this ministry. We’re both healthier – physically, mentally and emotionally. But beyond that, this ministry has given us a shared experience through the ups and downs of training, through pain and exhaustion. Having him with me in this is a priceless gift.
  • Together, we’ve went from doubting that we could give $39 dollars a month to sponsor a child in need, to now sponsoring 7 children in 4 countries. We’ve met 3 of them in person… and one may be coming to visit us here in the US next year. Generosity begets generosity.
  • The ways in which this ministry has personally blessed and changed me are innumerable. I won’t bore you with all of them, but they are real. I am not the same person I was 7 years ago. Not. At. All.

Best of all, and this has been the primary goal all along… because of the generosity, faithfulness, and compassion in your heart … because the Spirit of Jesus is alive and well, living through you, my friends and family, 1069 people have access to clean water. Over $53,000 raised since 2010.

Your gifts have had a ripple effect.
They’ve created a tidal wave of love, changing the lives of countless individuals, making the world a better place in every way imaginable.

I am in absolute awe, and so, so grateful.

I urge you, with all that I am, to continue in your generosity. You are making an incredible difference. As long as I know you’re with me, I will continue to run. Let’s see end an to the water crisis, together.

Thank you so very much.

To give towards my goal to bring clean water to 500 children this year alone, visit my website: