Chase Fireflies


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How it All Started (Marathon Relay 2012) Part I

It all started.  And I am embarrassed to say it went this way. 

No part of me wanted to run this year.  I was scared to aggravate a knee injury.  I didn’t want to organize anything.  I had so little compassion, drive, or care.  There was deadness in me. 

But there were friends who said we were running, like it wasn’t an option (ahem – Michelle).  And there were students who asked if we were, pleadingly.  And there was this dream.

And I am a practical kinda girl, hesitant to believe in weird stuff like dreams.  And I don’t dream much, but when I do – I am usually some covert military officer on a submarine fighting the North Koreans and feeding my children macaroni and cheese.  Suffice to say, I don’t really put much stock in dreams. 

But there was this other dream.  And in the dream there were children.  Laughing, like my own;  giggling because they looked beautiful.  They were wearing white and they laughed and laughed.  They were so happy.  And then this door opened and their expressions changed.  It was dark beyond the door. 

In my heart I knew I had to do something.  But I was paralyzed with shock and terror and I couldn’t speak up.  And noone heard me because I never raised my voice.  And before I knew it, the children were gone.  

And with them went the laughter. 

I woke up in tears to silence.  Their silence and mine.  I couldn’t hear them laughing.  It was dark outside.  I couldn’t hear my own voice doing anything about it.  We shared the silence of those who had died. 

God met me that early morning in this black of night.  In the death, He brought life again and He covered my shame.  He has always covered my every shame. 

There are these words of God that I love in Psalm 34:15.  “Those who look to Him are radiant;  their faces are never covered with shame.”  I can think of so many who fit this description.  I see their faces now as I type and I am better for having known each of these sisters, brothers, parents, friends. 

But there are children, for whom this radiance is being withheld.  It is my prayer that these children would also one day be able to look to God. 

That they would be rescued from a present darkness, that they would be found by the One who heals, that the radiance of childhood would return, and that they would receive ALL freedom from the shame that others have imposed.   

UNICEF estimates that there are over 2 million children trafficked into this darkness.  Would you pray with me for their rescue, healing, and care?  That these children who look to Him will be radiant;  that their faces will no longer be covered with shame. 

This is how 2012’s run started – Part I of the story that God is writing.  My team of five registered for our relay in the Pittsburgh Marathon two days after the dream.  And within two months, fifteen other runners had registered as well. 

Wait till I tell you about Part II.  (It’s about this girl who jumps off cliffs and sprints towards life and who is very much a hero to me and I am proud to call her my friend:) 

Till then, please check out this page to learn more about our run. 

Thank you friends.  Because of Jesus,
Kristin


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Hodgepodge Love

 

“An authentic life is the most personal form of worship.”  -Sarah Ban Breathnach

There are no real accomplishments apart from relationship:  Ann Voskamp 

“I don’t want to know about trafficking, but I do know about it and as a Christian, I feel like I have to respond to that” :  The New Christian Abolition Movement

Stare up at the sky and let yourself be:  Making the Most of Creative Time

Paul is going to LOVE these:  Frosted Cookie Cups

Life giving Words:  Why I Tell My Girls They are Beautiful Often…


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IJM Global Prayer Gathering

 

Anyone interested in attending this?  I am on the wait list and am really hoping to make it off.  We have heard incredible things about this conference.  It’s a weekend of worship, prayer, and stories of redemption and rescue.

IJM field staff will be sharing about God’s intervention on the frontlines of this fight against trafficking.  In addition, urgent international challenges and needs will be addressed.  If you are the slightest bit interested, please email me and get your name on their wait list right away.  Thanks, friends.


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The Cards in the Tree (A Christmas Gift Idea)

Every Christmas morning, there are two envelopes hidden somewhere in our tree.  One for Paul and one for me.  But neither are really for us, which is the cool part. 

They are gifts given somewhere around the world, on behalf of the other. 

The hurt is there.  The hunger is there.  The injustice is there. 

But greater is He in us than he who is in the world.

The opportunity is 0urs.  To heal, to feed, to love in His name.  Because He first loved us. 

Maybe the person receiving the envelope is an educator.  Give books on their behalf.  If a pastor, give a Bible.  If a counselor, give aftercare counseling.  If a cook, give food.  Extend their heart and passion around the world. 

So here are some ideas, ya’ll.  Give and love much. 

Gifts of Freedom:  IJM Holiday Gift Catalog

Equip Churches to Seek Justice $25
Urgent Aftercare Package for a Trafficking Survivor  $40
Legal Representation $65 
Bicycle for a Former Slave $72
Transform a Life with a Scholarship $330

Gifts of Compassion:  Compassion International Gift Catalog

Soccer Ball for $13
Art Supplies for $20
Clean Water $25
5 Ducks for $30
Dental Care $38

These two organizations are just ones we have worked with in the past.  I love them and wholeheartedly believe in their work.  But there are countless like them.  If you know of other worthy organizations, I would love to hear of them here.  Thanks!


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Operation Christmas Child: Collection Week 2011

It’s that time of year! 

For a shopping spree.  For wheeling around a cart whoohoo-ing and loading it up.  With cars and footballs and princess crowns and lip gloss.  With toothbrushes and soap and playing and prayer and squeezing into shoe boxes. 

I hope I never forget her giggling and dancing in the aisles and her heart so big it may just burst.  And the four year old hiking the ball for the boy so much like him. 

And it’s the lunch of fish and bread all over again.  Meager offerings to be multiplied by broken hands Who heal.  And with the small giving up, we are the more blessed than tiny hands receiving. 

We are the more blessed.

Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week is November 14-21, 2011


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20 Things You Can Do with Excess Halloween Candy

 My favorite Halloween quotes from Selah:

1.  “Mom, I’ve got this.” 
2.  “Do you guys know there’s another side of the road?” 
3.  “My fingers are freezing off.  Can we do just a few more houses?” 
4.  “A princess can wear sneakers, right?  Cause my feet hurt in high heels.”
 

Needless to say, Rapunzel and the unidentified Race Car Driver stocked up.  Here is our plan for the excess

1.  Give it away. 

a.  Donate to a homeless shelter, women’s shelter, nursing home, church ministry, etc. 
b.  Donate to Operation Gratitude, to be used in care packages for military personnel. 
c.  Donate to a Dentist office buy back program. 
d.  Include in an Operation Christmas Child package.  (Add a toothbrush/toothpaste also.)

2.  Save it for Christmas:

a.  Use it in a Countdown to Christmas calendar.
b.  Make Christmas ornaments or Christmas garland out of it.
c.  Use it for Christmas cookie baking.
d.  Use it to decorate Christmas presents.
e.  Save it for a gingerbread house decoration. 
f.  Make cards out of it to distribute to classmates.  (Poinsettias can be adapted from here.)

3.  Use it as a teaching tool:

a.  Organize by colors, shapes, ingredients, etc.  Put it in ABC order. 
b.  Use for addition and subtraction. 
c.  Make a Venn diagram with it (my favorites, your favorites, our favorites)
d.  Talk about the importance of good nutrition and exercise.  Classify it on the Food Pyramid.
e.  Melt it down for science.  Discuss solids and liquids. 

4.  Use it for art:a.  Paint with it.  (Dip a piece in water and paint – works with skittles, gumballs, fireballs, etc.) 
b.  Create a mosaic.  (Glue small pieces onto a heavy surface – cardboard, foam, canvas, etc.)
c.  Create a sculpture with it.  (Use toothpicks, straws, popsicle sticks, etc.)
d.  Make a wreath for Halloween next year. 

5.  Tell Your Kids You Ate All of It: 

a.  Just kidding.  Have you seen this?  Those poor traumatized kids! 

What do you do with all of your candy?  Any suggestions?


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Love Small.

Her hands are worn and weathered with the soil. 

If you walk into the little white country church, she sits in the back pew, to the left; sometimes alone or with children; most often with her grandson.  I don’t know where he would be without her. 

One time I sat in her home with our baby, sunken deep into her living room couch.  I asked questions because I needed to learn.  About so many children and an only love buried and how they first made it work to get by.  She told me simple stories of love.  Loving with basketball games, loving with nachos and cheese, loving with pies. 

More recently and most ridiculous, is this story of butternut squash.  For two weeks, I scoured grocery stores for butternut squash, when there was none to be found.  But why would she know that.  Then out of nowhere, she has bags of squash so heavy that the bags are breaking.  She gives them to my in-laws who give them to me.  And I can’t keep from laughing at God’s goodness. 

When you plant seeds deep within the soil, you have no idea what will become of them.  You work hard with your hands and no one sees.  You don’t work for approval.  You have no idea what will become of these plants.   You cannot see the end from the beginning.  You work anyway.  You love anyway. 

Maybe extravagant love is just this.  It’s the ordinary kind, worn and weathered.  My Lord dried feet with a towel.  My Lord taught others using seeds and a lamp and salt.  My Lord told stories.  My Lord cried.  My Lord sat with children and ate bread with friends. 

Maybe it’s not that we love much, it’s that we love small.  Love in the ordinary.  Love in the nondescript.  And maybe then the Gardener will take what is meager and multiply it till bags are breaking.

For those whom we love and for recipients unknown. 

With Love (the small kind),
Kristin


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Pittsburgh Marathon Relay Team Update

We had put miles on our shoes.  Wore our treads.  Pounded bike trails and tracks and rolling roads.  We had pleaded awkwardly for support.  We got injured.  We lost runners.  Runners stepped up.   People gave generously;  encouraged richly.  For everything we were ever grateful. 

All for this one day.  Race day.

On a rainy Sunday morning in May, we tear ourselves out of bed and groggily hit the road.  My brother Dan has just gotten in hours before.  The guy is fresh off a root canal and giddy to run.  It is an honor to have a brother who loves so much;  who lives so well. 

Paul is our fearless organizer;  command central, with maps and knowledge of road closures and a time frame for each leg and a plan.  I don’t know what we would do without him.  Every runner finds their starting place with hours to spare.

Kathleen and I find our leg;  the last one, with probably too much time on our hands.  We make two trips to the fancy hotel bathrooms down the road.  We drink water and eat bananas.  We run warm-up laps.  We cheer on the real marathoners.  We stretch and laugh like kids and talk about everything and nothing at the same time.   

I am as nervous as I’ve ever been in my life.  I am falling under the weight of doubts… You can’t do this.  You shouldn’t be here.  You aren’t a runner.  Your knees aren’t going to make it.  Kathleen remains calm and collected;  a more seasoned competitor.  She keeps me focused.  It’s only a few miles. 

I sync my Ipod and wait for Aaron.  I get a text that he will be there soon.  I hope to not disappoint my team.  I see him in the distance and take my place.  I give him a medal, grab the baton, and run.  He yells at me to go.  Aaron never yells.   The team has made great time. 

And I run.  It’s really happening.  This race.  This now.  My eyes fill with tears because God has brought me here.  I could not be more grateful.  My legs run and there is no hint of pain.  I lengthen my stride in joy and in hope.  That a Savior, my Savior, will fulfill His purpose through legs that are not steel.  One strike at a time. 

The miles go quickly, one to another.  I am in Bloomfield, in the Strip, in the city, on the Clemente Bridge.  There is a Yankee fan heckling me about my Red Sox hat.  Bands are playing loudly.  Crowds five people deep are cheering runners on.  I am almost there. 

The last stretch is the hardest.  I can see the finish line, but I want to walk.  Everything in me wants to give out.  I can’t stop.  Full marathoners are searing on ahead of me.  They are amazing.  I don’t run any faster, but I can’t give up now.  Finally, I finish.  I finish.

I finish because God is gracious.  Because He has given me health and strength in weakness and because He is good. 

I finish because Paul has cheered me on each day of every training week;  because Selah and Adden need to see finish lines crossed;  because friends and family have sacrificed for this cause of justice;  because our runners have given up a lot to be here.  I finish because Jesus came to restore what has been lost. 

Here’s to praying that He does.  All in all, $1,300 was raised for International Justice Mission, to go towards the fight against human trafficking.  As a team, we couldn’t be more thankful.


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52 miles and why

Hey Guys.

In just over six weeks, ten of us will be running the Pittsburgh Marathon.  Now before you think we’re rockstars for running 26 crazy miles each, let me dispel that.  We’re running the race with two teams of five.  The legs run from 4.8 miles to 6.2 miles.  Collectively, we’ll run 52. 

Still, we’re training hard.  I’m running more than I’ve ever run.  My knees hurt more than they’ve ever hurt.  I look more ridiculous than I’ve ever looked finagling the weights in the gym and running with Paul’s wireless headphones like an orthodontic apparatus under my chin.  (It rests on the back of your neck, in case you’re confused too.  I knew something didn’t seem quite right.)  Ridiculous, I tell you. 

Anyway, I am thrilled about this race.  I am thrilled about our teams.  My brother is driving from Rhode Island to run in it.  (This means the world to me.) 

My sister in law Ashley is also running in it.  (She is the real runner in our family.  We train together on Sundays and that girl doesn’t fool around.  Sometimes she scares me.)  I’ve also coerced my good friend Kathleen to run.  (The second ask was the charm.)  Somehow, Kathleen will run faster than all of us without breaking a sweat, on no sleep, and with three kids in tow.  She makes me smile.

Rounding out the teams are friends from church – high school and college age students.   Admittedly, we’re a diverse collection of runners.  However, in six weeks and even now as we train, we’re running for one purpose. 

We’re running to raise money for International Justice Mission (IJM).  All of the proceeds from our run will go to meet the needs of IJM, a human rights organization that serves as a voice to those who have been silenced by modern day slavery. I’ve talked a lot about IJM on this blog.  Among many things, their work prevents the trafficking of men, women, and children, provides after care services for victims, and prosecutes offenders. 

I know this sounds crazy, but we’re hoping to raise a collective $2,600 towards this cause.  We figure that’s $100 a mile.  We would really love if you would support us, in whatever way you can.  You can visit here to support us financially.  You can feed us carbs, make big signs, throw water at us, or cheer along the way.  You can also pray.  We would be grateful for anything and everything.

Whenever I think about this run, I get giddy like our son catapulting off our bed into his beanbag chair.  I get all tangled up like spaghetti with fears that my knees just aren’t going to make it.  But mostly, there are these words that come to the forefront of every training session:

Jesus came. 

To give good news to the poor.
To bind up the brokenhearted.
To proclaim freedom for the captives. 

To release prisoners from their darkness.
To provide justice.
To comfort all who mourn.
To provide for those who grieve.

To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes;
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61)

Jesus came for that purpose.  To restore what has been lost. 
And like a newborn puppy awkwardly finding its feet, I’m scampering along. 

Would love for you to run along with me. 
Much Love (and Thanks),

Kristin