put yourself in HER shoes

In the past few years, I’ve written a bit about my evolving relationship with running. Running is a lot like writing for me: an outlet for energy and emotion, a challenging pursuit that inspires me to improve, an activity that stimulates creativity, and a fun diversion, and something I crave when I go too long without it. Also, “runner” and “writer” are two titles that I have been reluctant to claim, even though I avidly engage in and enjoy both things. But recognizing that I am, indeed, both a writer and runner, has been a significant part of my personal growth and my story.

Girls on the Run® is helping girls find this important perspective while in still in elementary school, inspiring 3rd-5th graders to be joyful, healthy, and confident. The positive youth development program creatively integrates running into a fun, experience-based curriculum that emphasizes competence, strength of character, compassion, and meaningful contribution to community. Girls discover their potential to be remarkable and learn that they can take charge of their own lives, develop the ability to think critically, and use their voice confidently.

Girls on the Run of Southern Oklahoma served 70 girls in Carter and Love Country last season, and is continuing to add teams each semester. The team meetings and lessons show pre-adolescent girls how to embrace their individual strengths, develop healthy relationships, successfully navigate life experiences, and positively connect with and shape the world.

Earlier this week, I wrote an article for their blog about what running means to me and how it has affected my life. Sharing my running story with pre-teen girls in my community made me realize what a powerful tool this simple sport can be to motivate, educate, inspire, and empower. I have experienced personally the effect on my physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being, and know that this influence could be even more beneficial for a young girl.

Right now the local chapter is participating in the “put yourself in HER shoes” campaign to generate support for the GOTR team activities and supplies. Your contribution could provide a program tee-shirt or 5k race entry for a participant, meeting snacks or finisher medals for a team, or scholarships for underprivileged girls. All of these things fuel a program that is guiding girls in developing skills that will serve them well for a lifetime.

Teach her she can fill any shoe she chooses.

Girls on the Run® of Southern Oklahoma is a 501(c)3

there is no such thing as trivial trauma

the session was over. everyone was moving toward the coffee machine or the bathrooms for the short break when she spoke up.

“can i just add one thing?” of course we all stopped and turned toward the voice.

“we’ve been talking about how to counsel women who have experienced traumatic things in life, and even how to prevent feeling traumatized ourselves through hearing the horribly disturbing stories, but i feel like i should mention another way being involved in this kind of work might threaten your emotional well-being.”

the group of women—leaders of amazing advocacy organizations—were all listening intently as she continued.

“a psychologist once told me that real emotional trauma can be caused by any experience outside of your own norm. i used to beat myself up for continuing to feel distraught over my divorce while i was face-to-face with real agony every day in the lives of these trafficked women. i felt so self-centered for feeling sad about my own circumstances when my troubles looked like nothing compared to what they go through.”

i lost it. it was like God was speaking straight to me. how many times have i scolded myself for my sorrow, frustration, or anger over losing my mom, when right in front of me so many are suffering from injustices far more overwhelming than my hurts? i tried to hide my tears as she offered a last word of encouragement.

“i just want you all to take to heart the truth that your hurts are not insignificant or unjustified. what you experience is real, and God cares about your trauma just as much as the woman who has lost her entire family while fleeing her country, or the girl who has been physically and emotionally tortured her entire life.”

those words, which almost didn’t get shared, impacted me just as much as anything said during the sessions over those three days. i know many of my friends care deeply about social justice and often find themselves facing heartache in the circumstances of the orphans, the poor, and the ignored and mistreated. please remember that your personal hurts are not to be disregarded or belittled. i know i needed the reminder.

love is layered

love is not simple, this much is obvious. it is multifaceted, multidimensional, layered. it is at once an involuntary emotion and a deliberate decision. it’s oh so natural, yet at the same time very hard work. it’s comfortable familiarity and giddy heart-flutters. it’s a steady security and fiery passion all in one.

genuine love is fulfilling and soul-warming, but also selflessly sacrificial.

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. — 1 John 3:17-18

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. — 1 Thessalonians 3:12, NIV

when we allow God’s love to reach through us to others, it’s layered nature manifests itself in many ways, as well. kindness. generosity. compassion.

for fourteen years i have been involved with compassion international as a sponsor, advocate, and volunteer. my first sponsored child graduated the program several years ago and i now have a new child to send support, letters, and love to. my husband also sponsors a child that he has supported since before we were married. i wish we could sponsor more.

i’ve never questioned this organization’s dedication to excellence, integrity, and stewardship in their work. their care is genuine and comprehensive—each child’s physical, intellectual, and spiritual well-being is considered. compassion‘s layered approach to showing God’s love acknowledges the multifaceted needs of children in poverty.

there are more than 2,000 references to children and poverty in the Bible. it is clear that these things are very close to God’s heart.

it’s valentine’s day, the day that represents demonstrations of love…won’t you open your heart to a child in need and make an eternal difference in his or her life?

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

figment friday – three deliveries

it’s figment friday again. this exercise in daily creative writing has truly been challenging. (and sharing it even more daunting.) but i’m determined to keep my promise. here is one of my responses from this week:

PROMPT: The song “ The Three Bells” tells the story of Little Jimmy Brown (read the lyrics here).  In each of the song’s three verses, a milestone in Jimmy’s life—his birth, wedding, death—is marked by the sounding of church bells (hence the song’s title). Choose a similar symbol that recurs three times in a character’s life and tell that character’s life story in three parts—could be chapters, stanzas, verses, paragraphs. 

she ranks “snail” mail
in a higher category than e-mail
so when the letter appeared in the mailbox
she eagerly opened the envelope.

the invitation to spend the summer abroad changed her perspective forever.

she loves “just because” gifts
more than birthdays or Christmas
so when the package appeared on the porch
she happily opened the box.

the portrait of her far-reaching impact transformed her ambitions forever.

she prefers “expected” guests
over unannounced visitors
so when the taxi appeared in the driveway
she anxiously opened the door.

the hand-delivered job offer altered her legacy forever.

A2A

there are many, many things i want to do in this life. in fact, just about everything. but running a marathon has never been one of my aspirations. i like being outside; i like being active. i’ve participated in a handful of 5ks and had fun. but something about hours and hours of pounding the pavement has never appealed to me.

26.2 miles is an impressive accomplishment, no doubt, but i’ve never run even half that far without getting completely bored or antsy to get back to my gazillion other projects. (although i once jogged a very slow 10 miles along the atlantic city boardwalk with the ocean breeze spurring me on – but that was a huge deviation from my occasional 2 to 3 mile jaunts. notice that i still brag about it, though. ;))

for those of you who do get that runner’s high and find your zen in the repetitive and disciplined endurance training, here is a race that should motivate you to get up and get going: the inaugural Arbuckles to Ardmore Race for Mercy.

http://www.a2amarathon.com/training/index.htmli may be a bit partial to my hometown, but i think that this race will be special because of the ambitious cause and the uniquely beautiful course. the arbuckle “mountains” may not look like much from I-35, but the view from the historic highway 77 – with its hair-pin turns and steep grade – is much more exciting. add to that the fun of running the trail out to city lake in ardmore regional park, and you have a route that might even keep me entertained.

my husband & i will be running the 5k circuit with my sister & her husband and our dad in honor of my mom & titu, our survivors. the short course terrain won’t be nearly as interesting, but how much can you do with a couple of miles, really? i’m looking forward to being a part of this inspiring inaugural event. there’s still time to register for the 5k, half-marathon, and full-marathon on march 28th. maybe i’ll see you there!