26.2 (barely)

Whew… Well I’m back in Raleigh after a crazy fun weekend in Ohio.  We saw lots of friends that I miss DEARLY and I absolutely loved getting to introduce the husband to “my Cedarville-world.” My years at Cedarville were so formative and I had such a wonderful “Cedarville experience,” so it was really important for him to meet the folks who had such an impact on my life! Loved every second of it. Definitely TOO short of a trip.

Race day was crazy. The weather at first was a little yucky, but it turned out to be decent running weather after about mile 8. Cool – not too hot or cold – and a little drizzle. Praise God for no thunderstorms!!!

Trashbags to keep us from getting soaked before the race…

Alicia and her husband Pat. Pat did the half and Alicia conquered her first full! WAY TO GO ALICIA!!!!!

This race was significantly more difficult for me in comparison to my first marathon in Raleigh. And if you think I’m just being modest, you can tell from my time alone. In raleigh, I finished in approx. 4 hrs. and 40 min. This time, I added an entire hour. Last time when I finished I was sore. This time, I’m in pain. Last time, I didn’t walk except through water stations. This time, I walked at least 2 full miles after mile 21 and then when I did start running again, I was being passed by fast walkers. 🙂 I even passed by a race medic and they asked if I wanted my leg wrapped (evidently I looked ridiculous while running/limping/gimping).

That’s right. I was in the back of the pack, finishing with the elderly, injured, and the walkers.

But I finished.

This fella was such a good man… texting me… making sure I was ok… having friends shoot me texts. It was really encouraging to have family and friends communicating encouragement/prayers/support during those difficult miles. Especially when I was so disappointed with my time and race performance.

I’m thrilled that I finished, but what I’m MOST excited about is the $2500 that will go directly to water projects in Uganda through Samaritan’s Purse. I loved being a part of Team Samaritan’s Purse and am so excited about the work that they do! So THANK YOU to many of you who helped bring water to the Kihuura community. Your generosity far outweighs the joys of finishing a marathon. You made it worth every mile.

Tonight… the sweet Mister got me a deep tissue massage for some post-race body therapy and I can’t wait!!!!!!!!! Seriously… I think I NEED it. And I’m fairly certain that if you saw me walking today you would agree. 🙂

Happy Monday!

Leaving on a jet plane…

Whew… well today is the day…We’re leaving for ohio! I’m pretty excited/nervous/excited/pumped/nervous. My bag is packed and I’m trying to get pumped for 26.2 miles.

It’s going to be a whirlwind. Tomorrow, we’re going up to my old college stomping grounds to introduce The Mister to all the folks at Cedarville that I love. Can’t wait!!! We’re staying with my sweet friend Alicia who is also running on Sunday! (She also has an awesome blog and card company that you should probably check out!). We’re also going to stay one night with a dear friend Kirsten, who shares my love of food like none other… yes she did have a food club in college… yes I did join it. She’s fantastic! 🙂 Then ALL DAY friday I’m visiting with friends and seeing people that were so formative during my college years. I can’t stinkin’ wait for the Mister to meet all of these dear, dear friends.

Saturday is going to be registration day where I go pick up my bib and running chip… EEK! So excited/nervous/excited/pumped/nervous. Then I’m taking the hubby to see meet the community of believers that I worshiped with when I was in college. I LOVE that church. Seriously, if you live in the Dayton area, Apex Community Church is a phenomenal church to check out! I can’t wait for my stud husband to see the church that significantly helped me make my faith “my own.”

THEN… (dum dum dum) SUNDAY… RACE DAY. I have a few things that I’m a little nervous/excited about.

1. I’m so excited that thus far we’ve raised over $2000 for water projects in Kihuura, Uganda. I’m so thankful for friends and family who have supported me and caught the vision of Samaritan’s Purse!! So thankful! I’m excited to see how God uses this money to transform a community for His glory. If you want to learn more about Samaritan’s Purse, click on the “Samaritan’s Purse” tab above. If you want to support the water projects, click HERE.

2. The last marathon I ran was in November 2009: City of Oaks Marathon… and it POURED and was REALLY cold. I picked a May marathon hoping for warmer weather and after looking at the Flying Pigs weather record, I was thrilled that most of the races were in good weather + sun. Please look at the weather forecast:

Yes, that is rain & thunderstorms listed. I think I cried 3 times in my last marathon, not because of the pain but because of the rain and cold. I’m a pansy when it comes to inclimate weather. I mean, at least it’s not COLD. But I would love it if you could pray for the rain to hold off until around 1pm.

3. I’m so excited about running with this sweet friend!!!

We lived in the same dorm unit our freshman year, lived in a hotel together for a summer during an internship in Orlando, and lived together our senior year in a house full of girls. I cannot wait to see her and her husband again and to get to run with her! It’s going to be so fun to catch up and then bust a move on Sunday!

4. I’m pumped to see & meet the rest of Team Samaritan’s Purse! Can’t wait to get to know other like-minded runners who are running for more than just the thrill of a race.

5. I’m really excited about the goodie bag and expo afterwards! Seriously, I love going booth to booth getting free sports stuff that I won’t really be able to carry back on the plane with me. 🙂 Speaking of goodie bags, I received a virtual goodie bag link from the Flying Pig race organization this morning. Clicked on it, scrolled down, and look who you see!!!!!

You can see the Mister and Me!!! See us? In the Join Team Samaritan’s Purse grey box?! See the blurry handsome fella holding a red and white State umbrella in the background??? Yes, that was the mister staying free from the rain during the November 2009 City of Oaks race. Yes, I’m smiling here, but don’t let that fool you. I think this was around mile 15… just prior to the first cry.

Alright… those are the things I’m excited/nervous about. But first I must get my tush to work, sit on a panel, organize a lunch, and then I can hop on a plane and get to Cincy.

See you on the flip side! Much love – B

Dr. Catherine Hamlin: the “Mother Teresa of our Day”

The contents of this entry were completely written by Elissa Cooper, writer for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics. This article and photo is from Her.meneutics and both were originally featured here. I just read it, loved it, and HAD to share it. Dr. Catherine Hamlin is AMAZING. Read this, fall in love with an amazing woman, and be encouraged by her faith in our good God.

Dr. Catherine Hamlin, 87, has saved countless Ethiopian women’s lives through her work repairing fistulas. Most don’t know that she labors out of love for Jesus.

Vesicovaginal fistulas (VVFs) and the people who champion their eradication are fascinating. For Dr. L. Lewis Wall’s Christianity Today piece “Jesus and the Unclean Woman,” I spent a lot of time learning about VVFs for the accompanying news article, and enjoyed a refresher course for documentary review of A Walk to Beautiful for Her.meneutics. But I finally got to the heart of the story when I met Dr. Catherine Hamlin last month.

The world knows Hamlin’s name. The Australian obstetrician-gynecologist has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof dubbed her “the Mother Teresa of our age,” and Oprah has featured her story. However, Hamlin’s most striking quality is her Christian faith. It has driven her life’s work in healing women with VVFs in Ethiopia and her goal to end VVF worldwide by the end of the century. During her trip to launch Hamlin Fistula USA — the newest member of Hamlin Fistula International — 87-year-old Hamlin sat down with me to talk.

Hamlin and her late husband, Reginald, also an obstetrician-gynecologist, were initially hired to work at an Ethiopian government hospital in 1959. “I believe God put us there. We came across these patients soon after we got there. They touched our hearts so much we stayed working with them.”

However, they soon found themselves overwhelmed by VVF patients. VVFs are holes or tears that occur during labor where the baby cannot be delivered without intervention, such as a cesarean section. The child usually dies, and the women are incontinent and become outcasts because of their condition. It is unknown how many women suffer from VVF as it usually strikes those in poor, rural areas, but one estimate puts the figure at 3 million women worldwide.

Fortunately, VVFs can be repaired with a simple surgery, and over the decades, the Hamlins have cured thousands of women. In 1974, the Hamlins founded Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia with the sole aim to treat VVF. Catherine still lives and works there as she performs surgeries one day a week, helps manage the hospital, and visits with patients. “I’m usually occupied all day with something,” Hamlin says. “I lie down after lunch for a bit of a rest, since I’ve gotten old.”

Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital is not a mission hospital or affiliated with a particular denomination, but the Hamlins’ faith defines it. The staff begins the day with a prayer meeting, and recordings of Scripture readings and messages are available in at least 25 languages for the women to listen to on headphones as they recover. Many patients have become Christians.

As the second fistula hospital in the world (the first ran in New York from 1855 to 1928 when VVFs became obsolete in the U.S.), Addis Ababa depends on donations to provide free surgery and care for these women. Organizations give financial support to run the hospital and provide each woman with a new dress, a bus ticket home, and, if they would like one, a Bible. Hamlin Fistula International also raised money to launch five regional hospitals in Ethiopia that serve 3,000 patients a year and hopes to treat 4,000 annually. In order to prevent VVFs, another project involves training midwives to serve in rural areas and supporting them in their work.

“Most of the midwives in Ethiopia are congregated in the big city, Addis Ababa,” Hamlin says. “But our midwives are committed to work in the countryside, and they’re happy to work back in their own areas.” One of their first trained midwives returned home to find her sister was in labor, and she was able to deliver the child.

Mark Bennett, CEO of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, adds, “The challenge is to make sure that we instill the same kind of ethos and environment in five new locations as well as our college to train midwives. We’re trying to capture what it is that’s made the hospital special, which is really centered on Dr. Hamlin’s faith that has empowered her and given her the love and desire to do this work.”

The problem may seem relentless, but Hamlin remains optimistic. When asked if her faith had ever been shaken by her work, she firmly says, “No. I never had a doubt about my faith. I’ve had many answers to prayer, and I know that God is behind us. He loves these women far more than I do.”

Hamlin relies heavily on prayer to keep her and others going, but most of all, she asks people to pray that VVF will be over by the end of the century. “Surely we can have something in this 21st century where there’s so much done for medical conditions throughout the world, and yet nothing is done for women in labor. The most important moment in their lives, bringing a baby into the world, nobody cares about them. Or they can’t do anything if anything goes wrong.”

With VVF, the first goal is to treat the physical body, but Hamlin and her staff also find themselves administering emotional and spiritual healing. “They think that God has cursed them. They’re so terribly ashamed of this condition,” Hamlin says. Women are thrown out by their husbands. One unknown statistic is how many women with VVF commit suicide. Hamlin remembers one story of a girl who was brought in by her uncle after he saved her from hanging herself.

“Once they get through the gate, their attitude changes,” Hamlin says. “They come with downcast eyes and ashamed to look up, and then they see somebody with the same condition. They think they were the only ones.”

After the surgery, if the woman is able to have children again, Hamlin and others encourage her to marry because “without a baby, there’s no life for a woman in the countryside.”

“We don’t know what happens to them, but some of them remarry and come back pregnant to us,” Hamlin says. The women stay there until labor begins, and they are moved to a hospital for a cesarean section. After the hospital discharges them, the women return to the fistula hospital. “We teach them how to breastfeed, how to look after a newborn baby, and give them a set of clothes for the baby. This ward is usually a place of joy.”

For someone who has worked tirelessly for others and keeps expanding her vision, I couldn’t help asking if Hamlin thought about retiring. “I’ve got a grave there waiting for me,” Hamlin laughs. “I hope to be here a little bit longer.”

For more information about Dr. Hamlin, Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, or fistulas, read The Hospital By the River and Catherine’s Gift: Stories of Hope from the Hospital by the River, or see the 2009 Emmy-winning documentary A Walk to Beautiful.

Your Destitute Brother – Part II

If you remember, a few months ago I introduced you to a man named Sayed Mossa and asked you to pray for our brother facing serious persecution in Iraq. It seems as though your voices have been heard not only by our God, but through your writing our government officials, God has moved on Sayed’s behalf and it appears as though he’s received a public acknowledgement: hello NY Times.

This by no means ensures his release or safety, but it is a positive step.

Please continue to pray for Mr. Mossa, his family, and for our other brothers and sisters in Iraq who are facing serious religious persecution.

Want to take action? Here are some things I listed in November that you can do for our brothers and sisters.

(1) Pray for the persecuted church. A few great resources areInternational Christian Concern: http://www.Persecution.org and theInternational Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: http://www.idop.org

(2) Pray specifically for Sayed. Pray that he will stand strong in the face of persecution and that the Lord will free him from his captives.

(3) Pray for the salvation of those who are torturing Sayed. I love the story of Paul in Acts 16 when Paul’s jailer came to know Christ. I pray that the same scenario will be said of Sayed and his persecutors.

(4) Write your Congressman and the White House!!!!!!! Seriously folks, it’s way too easy to be lazy. Go to this websiteWrite Your Representative and this one to Write the White House.It takes just a few seconds to make a request. Less than five minutes and you don’t even need a stamp.

Psalm 10:17-18: “You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,  defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.”

Much love yall – Brit

Hope for Sudan

I’m a little behind on this… My apologies! But I wanted to encourage you to pray for Sudan. On January 9th, Sudan is said to declare independence. This is a huge mark in light of decades of civil war and genocide.

Samaritan’s Purse is hosting 7 days of prayer which started on Jan. 3rd. Since I’m a little behind, I wanted to list out the first four days but please check their website each day as they post the new daily prayer focus. Also for more information on the work that Samaritan’s Purse is doing in Sudan, read here.

Day 1: Pray …
• for stability and peace during an unpredictable time in Sudan
• for pressure on the central government to keep the vote free, fair, and transparent
• for the Sudan Council of Churches to have wisdom and godly leadership

Day 2: Pray …
• for protection for pastors who are determined to preach the Gospel
• for the spiritual education of Christian children in the churches
• for Christian families that are moving south in anticipation of southern independence

Day 3: Pray …
• that pastors will meet regularly for prayer and fasting
• that churches will grow, even under challenging circumstances
• that all Sudanese will respect the outcome of the vote

Day 4: Pray …
• for protection of minority rights and respect for all people groups
• for support from the international community during this very sensitive time
• for protection for church buildings and property

Samaritan’s Purse has also posted a brief history of Sudan on their website that I thought might be useful as well when praying:

A History of Conflict
Sudan has been embroiled in political turmoil since it gained independence from colonial rule in 1956. The central government in Khartoum, which was largely under the control of Arab Muslims, was constantly at odds with the mostly Christian and animist people groups in the south.

A major civil war erupted in 1983 when Khartoum tried to impose Islamic Sharia law and other controls on the nation. Bloody battles between northern and southern armies continued for more than 20 years, until the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was reached in 2005.

Under the 2005 agreement, southern Sudan was granted autonomous rule for six years. In April of 2010, the first democratic parliamentary and presidential elections in 24 years were held. The peaceful elections set the stage for the upcoming referendum on independence for southern Sudan, set for January 9.

“…Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:16-18

Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Sudan.

University of Kentucky vs. Evangelical

In a recent article in the New York Times, it is noted that Dr. Martin Gaskell is suing the University of Kentucky for discriminating against his evangelical worldview.

The article states his faith was examined during his interview with chairman, Dr. Michael Cavagnero, and it was expressed to him by the chairman that his religious beliefs and his “expression of them would be a matter of concern.”

According to the article, a department staff person wrote in an email regarding Gaskell’s hiring, “Clearly this man is complex and likely fascinating to talk with, but potentially evangelical. If we hire him, we should expect similar content to be posted on or directly linked from the department Web site.”

According to UK’s own faculty and administration, they feared bad publicity. UK’s Moshe Elitzur stated this in his deposition, “There’s no way you can avoid the headline in The Herald-Leader saying ‘U.K. hires a creationist for public outreach.'” Dr. Gaskell’s lawyer has a brilliant rebuttal in reference to Elitzur’s statement, “I couldn’t have made up a better quote. ‘We like this guy, but he is potentially Jewish’? ‘Potentially Muslim’?”

You can read the rest of the details here, but I just found it very interesting.

Persecution comes in all shapes and sizes, but usually it is not as drastic in the Western world.  It is know as “discrimination” here and it usually comes in mild forms that don’t include crosses, burning people alive, wrongful imprisonment, etc. This by no means compares to the physical persecution that many of our brothers and sisters face in different parts of the world, but it is still a serious form of persecution none the less. If Dr. Gaskell’s claims are true and the court does not rectify this situation, this has the potential to be the beginning of a new wave of religious discrimination in the West. A wave that will greatly impact me and my family.

Food for thought on this fine Thursday. 🙂

Much love.

I heart Endorphins.

A few weeks ago I posted that I was benched from running for the next few weeks… WELL good news folks: I’m back at it.This morning I jumped on a treadmill and busted a move (yes… indoor running, don’t judge me… it’s FREEZING outside & I’m a wimp). I cannot tell you how amazing it felt to be moving again. I’m sure it’s all in my head, but zero training for a few weeks really affected me! I missed those endorphins!  Anyways, it feels good to be back in the race and running (cheesy pun intended).

During my run today I sipped on my water bottle a couple of times and thought nothing about it until on my way home. It hit me as I was finishing the remainder of my drink how frivolous I am with water. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think it’s a good thing to drink lots of water. It’s just that I take it for granted, even while raising money for water projects!

At this time of year, there is much to be thankful for regardless of your current circumstances. Even the worst scenarios in the US have some sort of access to clean water. Living in the West makes it almost impossible to fathom a life without water even though millions do so everyday. So next time you take a drink, a shower, water plants, pour a half full glass of water down the drain, wash your dishes, make coffee, etc., be thankful for water because there are millions who won’t only miss out on receiving gifts at Christmas, but they won’t even get a sip of clean water this year.

Being thankful is hard, I know. I forget all the time and I’m the one raising money for the WASH project in Uganda. I’m trying to train myself to remember the real reason of why I’m running this year. It’s because I want the people of  sub-county of Kihuura, Uganda to have a self-sustaining water system. I run because every day 6,000 people die from dirty water.

I’d love for you to help me in THIS PROJECT.  It doesn’t take much… $1.00, $5.00, $10.00, $20.00, etc. By myself, I can’t do much. I’m just running a marathon… that doesn’t amount to anything, but together we can impact this community.

Much love – B

(This pic is from Samaritan’s Purse’s Turn on the Tap Website)