Honduras. Day 3.

hey guys,

it’s super late, and i have to be up in a few hours, but wanted to leave something here.

in 4 years of doing shoe trips, today was the hardest day. EVER.

and oh, how i hate “mission trip speak” because it simply cannot capture the reality of something that can only be experienced.

we visited an orphanage today, and when i say “food, water, clothing (barely) & shelter”, i’m almost conveying to pretty of a picture.

i will share with you when I get home. this day was hard on the whole team. we’re still processing together, hence the late hour.

i’m emotionally depleted.  many of us are.  as family, would you pray for us as we begin the 2nd half of the week tomorrow? we would love to know folks are praying for us as we’re over here. and truthfully, i’m struggling even asking for that … because it’s the kids that need the prayers so desperately. But your prayers are needed, felt and appreciated.

have to go to bed. can’t hold eyes open anymore.

 

Honduras. Day 2.

I want you to meet my new friend Maria. Maria is here with her daughter, Valerie. Maria is actually Peruvian, but America is definitely her home! And has been for the last 27 or so years. Her husband is American, and they met after her sister was an exchange student and her (now) husband’s family was the host family years ago.  They have a pretty cool story and we’ve enjoyed talking about Lima & Macchu Picchu quite a bit the last couple of days.

I want to brag on Maria (and she probably will not like it when she reads this because she’s incredibly humble) but Maria brings a special gift to this trip.  Maria is “that” person God sends every year on our shoe trips. Here’s what I mean by that…..

Last year “that” person was Ivonne. Ivonne is part of our JOY FM family and traveled to Guatemala with us. Ivonne speaks Spanish fluently, and “was volunteered” for the job of telling the bible story at each orphanage. Ivonne captured the children’s attention. and hearts! We would watch her at each orphanage share the story, and each time we stood in awe of how she shared the gospel in her native language, in a way the children could understand.

This afternoon, we were at the boys orphanage, and Maria was sharing the story of Joseph. (not the husband of Mary, but the coat-of-many-colors-left-for-dead-by-his-brothers Joseph). About mid-way through the story, I realized Maria was our “Ivonne” of this trip. I smiled to myself and said, “God, you do it every year! You send just the right people, hand-chosen. by You.”  He actually created a “3-deep bench” this year. Darlene and her sister, Emy from Miami could step right in and bring it too!

This team is a true picture of the body of Christ. Each brings a different gift, and every part is needed.

Meet Maria….

My name is Maria Simpson.This trip has been so amazing from the beginning, the  preparation, the provision, the traveling. This morning has been very intense for me. My daughter Valerie is here with me and we visited a girl’s home, so I was very touched when this young lady broke down and responded to the Bible story I was sharing and the Bible verse John 3:16.

Everyone on the team did an amazing job. This morning during devotions we sang a song and this lyrics really summarized what I had been praying for …”Lord break my heart for what break yours.” And it happened. A piece of my heart will stay in Honduras.

The afternoon was a visit to the San Ramon Boy’s home and I don’t know where or how I got the energy in the afternoon, but God was good and again everyone work hard and faithfully to bring Jesus’ love to the boys.  We are on our way back and Carmen is so funny directing this game of questions and answers and the whole bus is laughing and having so much fun.

This team is amazing, we fit together like a beautiful mosaic, I believe that each of us was picked by God to fulfill His purpose. Thank you Buckner and The Joy FM for allowing me to be here. I can’t wait to see what God has prepared for us tomorrow!

maria sharing the story of joseph

maria sharing with the girls. no, nothing splashy, but the Gospel is life. and it touched one of the girl's very deeply today.

love.

maria's daughter, valerie with a baby girl from the orphanage yesterday.

Honduras. Day 1.

As soon as we landed today, we had a super quick lunch and then we were off to visit our first orphanage. Today was definitely a first for me; and I think it’s safe to say it was for most everyone here. Today we met the children at a private orphanage that cares for orphaned children living with AIDS.

At first glance, it looked like any other orphanage I’ve been to in the last 4 years. But when we entered the building, the first thing we saw was the mural (for lack of a better word) below:

painted on the wall at Casa Corazon de la Misericordia

The mural on the wall are the children’s hands with hearts painted inside them. If you look closely, the ones with crosses above their hands or painted next to the heart are the ones who have passed away….

Needless to say, most of us were a little shell shocked. I looked at the wall and then spotted Mary, crocodile tears streaming down her face. As I turned around, Mike was standing to my right in pretty much the same condition. All he could mouth was “Emma.” Emma is his niece and could have easily been any of these children. Because at first glance, they don’t look sick. Most don’t know they are sick!  And they don’t understand why they feel badly sometimes.  We actually had to be done and headed out exactly by 4:30, because that’s when dinner is served, and the medicine is administered. They cannot deviate from this schedule.

On days like today, I simply remember that we serve a sovereign Lord.  I can’t answer the “whys”. And I’m too tired tonight to even try. But I believe Him. I trust Him. and I praise Him. Because there is coming a day….every tear He’ll wipe away. There’ll be no more sickness. And no more pain.

This was the only orphanage that we visited today. We were there for several hours, and had fun playing with the kids. We played lots of “hot potato” … balloon style. Many bubbles were blown and chased, as well. We also all passed around little Denzel (yes, as in Washington) as if he were a newborn at a family reunion.  He was absolutely adorable!

denzel & nate playing with a very large orange balloon!

we colored & drew outlines of his hands. tho, he wouldn't sit still for long!

Here are a few more pics from the day below! It’s 12:30 here, so that means it’s 2:30 at home. I’m super tired. But definitely wanted to share our first few hours with you.

mary with a cute lil guy after he got his new pair of shoes!

but take heart!

We’ve spent a good bit of the week remembering the events that occurred that September morning in 2001.  It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years.  I remember so vividly sitting in the studio in Tampa (I was working for another station, Q105, at the time.) and literally being mid-sentence, glancing up to see the New York City skyline billowing with black smoke.  I asked, “What’s going on in New York?”  My partners turned their attention to the TV and together, LIVE on-air, we were trying to make sense of what we were seeing.  (I actually have the aircheck. It’s eerie to listen to).  We went to a break, and rushed to the neighboring studio just in time to see the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower.  Like you, I was in shock, feeling numb, afraid, sad, and every other fill-in-the-blank emotion.  Our (perceived) safety and security had been threatened.  We were vulnerable. We weren’t in control.

But the truth is, we never were.

Nor are we today.

The reality is towers, pentagons and worlds shatter around us every day.  Of course, I’m talking figuratively, but every day a single mom is losing her job, a dad is given a terminal diagnosis, a husband is serving divorce papers, or a mom and dad are burying their child. Their “towers” have been hit and are crumbling.

But there is HOPE!

We have an anchor.

And His name is Jesus.

Even when things feel most disastrous, God is ever-present.  One of the most reassuring scriptures (that I read frequently, oh by the way!) is John 16:33:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Brandon Heath says it best in his song, “It’s Alright”…“no promise of an easy road / just a destination.”  Oh, what truth! No, God never promised it’d be easy – and it won’t – but He is with us, lots of time carrying us.  Even if you’re hanging on, white-knuckled, I encourage you to lift your eyes up! Where does our help come from?

Our help comes from the Lord.

And He has promised to never leave you. Cry out to Him. And if you’re too angry, too sad, or still unsure, tell Him. He already knows.

He is our Defender. Our Healer. Our Restorer.

So TAKE HEART!

He has overcome this world.

Believe it.

It’s True.

Journeying with you,
carmen

Big Brown Eyes

Free. To. Run.

It’s happening. It’s really happening! February 26, 2012. At Disney! And even though I did the Princess Half this past year, I am nervous all over again. Seriously. My palms are sweaty.  But….. I’m doing it! And so is Natalie! And a bunch of our friends. Will you join us?

Last year, I ran for my 40th. To prove to myself that I could do it. This year, I am running for FREEDOM. And in my opinion, a much better reason to run! I want to help fight against sex slavery and human exploitation around the world.

I want to:
RUN for the millions enslaved around the world, including our own backyard.
RUN for those without a voice.
RUN for those who aren’t free to…YET!

All of the information is here.

Exclusive benefits for Team FREEDOM:

● A special goodie bag that includes a Tiara and Team FREEDOM T-shirt.

● Admission to the VIP Princess Pasta Party that includes:

    • A pasta dinner fit for a princess
    • An intimate acoustic performance by Natalie Grant
    • An individual photo with Natalie Grant
    • Pasta party location TBD, but will be in the Tampa area on Friday, February 24, 2012 at 7 p.m.

● We will meet at a designated location TBD for a photo op after the race with Team FREEDOM. Keep in mind we’ll all be running at different paces, so we will not finish at the same time. We’ll meet at specified area at the conclusion of the overall event.

We talked to Natalie the other day on the show. She told us about visiting India a few years ago. She was walking down a street with brothels on either side of the road. She happened to glance up and saw a young girl. And when I say young, Natalie said she couldn’t have been older than 6 or 7. She saw this little girl literally in a cage. Natalie said she “locked eyes with these big brown eyes….”  Her life has never been the same.

While I didn’t lock eyes with the same set of big brown eyes as Natalie, I have seen many myself in the last 4 years in Peru, Guatemala, and sadly, right here in Florida.  I’ll never forget the first time I talked with a 15 year old girl who’d recently had a baby. She didn’t know who the father was. She was hollow and said with no emotion: “my daddy makes me work. But he got mad at me because I got pregnant and couldn’t work no more. I don’t want to do that work no more. I want to do something else.”  It was clear. Her “work” = prostitution. I wanted to throw up.

We live in one of the worst areas for human trafficking and slavery right here at home. I want to bring a voice to this despicable reality. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening because it’s too hard, too disgusting, and too uncomfortable to talk about.  I know I can’t solve the problem. But I know I can’t turn and look the other way either.

Running 13.1 miles will not be easy. But I will be running for those big brown eyes. They are princesses too.

 

my new discovery!

I made the guys a little nervous today with my “Girlfriend Public Service Announcement.” In my defense, I did ask the men in the audience to turn their radios down.  Of course, Dave & Bill didn’t have that option.  But, I’ve found a new bra that I absolutely love!! Layering is in, and I’m always wearing camis, pretty much under everything, everyday.  I love wearing camis! But in the summertime it’s hot!

Back at the Doves in April, my girlfriend Tammi was showing me this new cami bra – I’m talking actual bra! underwire, adjustable straps, the whole deal! (as opposed to camis that typically have the shelf-reinforcement thingy with elastic. Boo!) No support at all as far as I’m concerned.  

So, I was shopping the other day with my mom and Haley, and we wandered into Dillards. While there, I remembered this bra and bought a couple. I’ve worn them constantly since! They give the appearance of layering, and they’re fashionable, yet modest. I love them!! I bought a couple for my daughters, too.  They’re perfect.

The brand is Modern Movement. They’re on sale right now. And here’s the link.

Whenever I find something I think other women will love, I simply HAVE to share!! Yes, you’ll thank me later.

Thursday. re-visted.

August 23.

Today is a very special day! It’s what we call “Release Day” in the industry. MIKESCHAIR released their sophomore CD today, A Beautiful Life! They’re actually on their way down right now to celebrate with us over the next several days. It’s not a coincidence that the CD Release and the shoe wrap are both happening this week. The boys were in the studio late last year, and the earlier part of this year, recording their new record.  We knew A Beautiful Life would be finished sometime this year, and we intentionally planned for them to be here this week, releasing their new record, celebrating with our community, while collecting shoes for Honduras.

We leave for Honduras next month, hand-delivering lots of hugs, laughter, smiles, socks and shoes that are so generously given by our JOY family.  Thinking about the boys being here tomorrow, preparing for the shoe wrap over the next few days, and praying about our upcoming trip…. I took a few minutes to go and re-live a day that happened last September in Guatemala. After re-reading, I can’t NOT share with you. If you read this post last year when I wrote it, I hope you’ll read it again and join me in crying out for these kids! How wonderful if there were many of us praying specifically for them, at the same time, this very night! If you’ve never read it before, I hope you’ll take a peek at the heart of our shoe trips and see how God wants these kids to know they are not forgotten.  We pray every year, “God, be BIG!” And He makes that prayer look small. I originally told you about this Thursday in 2 posts (last year), but I’m going to combine them below. This is a day I will never forget as long as I live. I feel all the same emotions sitting here at my kitchen table re-reading these entries tonight, as I did almost one year ago….

September ’10. Guatemala.

I wish there was a universal language that adequately articulated what is felt and experienced on mission trips. But sadly, there isn’t. I want so desperately to share what happened on Thursday in Guatemala, but I know I won’t be able to capture it totally for you. But I’m gonna try….

On Thursday, we visited Hogar Solardario. This is a new facility that has been open for about 9 months. The Guatemalan government shut down 2 of it’s orphanages, and moved them to the same property as San Gabriel. So now there are 3 orphanages all on one property that is referred to as “City of Children”. There are 800 kids here. Boys, girls, all ages. The existing San Gabriel facility (former prison) has a new coat of paint, and does look nicer than when I was here 2 years ago. The newer, adjacent part (where the 2 other orphanages, Manchen & Eliza Martinez are now) is nicer, but nice is a relative term. It has the look and feel of a prison. Metal doors, barbed wire fences, armed guards, and the like. The living conditions are sterile at best. There are no parents, only government workers doing the best they can, I suppose, to give these children their basic needs. Food, water, and shelter.

The day will best be described in two parts. And this scripture will set the stage:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, powers, and world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness and evil in the heavenly places. -Ephesians 6:12

Part 1: Morning.

We arrived at the City of Children, and after passing through the gate, we were greeted by 2 cute little boys who rushed the bus as soon as we opened the doors. I just happened to be sitting near the door and  I was the lucky one that got the big hug as the 1st one ran up on the bus and straight into my arms. He melted our hearts.

We began to unload our supplies. Shoes, crafts, guitars, Nate’s drum thingy, a cajon, I believe it’s called, soccer ball for our now world-famous game! etc. We hung around in the parking lot longer than normal. Brynn, our leader, was talking with the orphanage staff about how we should divide up and get started. The team didn’t realize it at first, but the challenges of the day had begun. The workers were telling Brynn that we couldn’t do shoes, that we could drop them off and the workers would give them out to the kids. I still don’t know all of the specifics (and at this point it doesn’t matter), but there was certainly opposition that she had to overcome. Once Brynn got back to the team, she told us that instead of splitting into 4 teams (as we typically would), we’d need to split into 2 teams … one going to San Gabriel, the other going to Eliza Martinez. Both orphanages housed boys. But, it’d be shoes only. No story, no bible verse, no music, no craft, no games. We were disappointed, but knew we had to do as they had said. There was a heaviness about the place and once we entered San Gabriel, the heaviness in the air continued. As I mentioned earlier, I noticed that there was a new coat of paint on the walls, but for the most part the living conditions had not improved since the last time I was there. We were told to organize the shoes this way, then that way, do them here, do this, and don’t do that, etc. etc. We were frustrated because by now we had been at the orphanage well over an hour, and had yet to have any face to face contact with the boys. Many of us on the team were already asking God to step in quickly and turn this thing around! The government workers thought they were in charge. But, of course, we knew differently.

We were eventually allowed to give the boys a new pair of shoes. Once we were done with shoes, we had some time left. The atmosphere had started to relax a little and we were hanging out and talking with the boys. The man that was in charge began to smile and engaged us in conversation. I believe he was truly grateful that we had brought shoes. We asked permission to share a story with the boys and maybe sing a couple of songs. He said, “YES!” Mike & Sam ran to the bus and grabbed their guitars. They came back to the boys waiting patiently, sitting in a circle. They started singing “Open the Eyes of My Heart”, followed by “Keep Changing the World”. They especially like the rapping part towards the end of the song!  Of course, LeCrae wasn’t with us. But Sam’s got it down! After the music, Ivonne, (another AMAZING listener who, by the way, fluently speaks Spanish) got up and began to talk to them about Jesus. After Ivonne shared what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus, she asked Tyra to come and lead the boys, that wanted to, in a prayer that would begin the relationship with Jesus, she’d just spoken about.

I was leaning against a tree in tears. In 3 hours, we went from “absolutely no shoes! to singing Open the Eyes to Tyra leading them in the prayer of salvation.” WOW! Only God. God, we asked you to be BIG. And YOU were.

We left for lunch, emotionally spent. It had definitely felt like a spiritual battle (and I hesitate using that phrase because, in my opinion, it’s over used). But the oppression in this place was, and is very real, no doubt. But, if God is FOR us, who can be against us? We were absolutely poured out, overwhelmed, and humbled at the transformation in 3 short hours.

However, God was only beginning to write the story for Thursday. His command performance was yet to come.

pulling up to the orphanage

the boys waiting to get back in after we were told we could sing. Note the shirt that Sam's wearing! I love it.

singing with the boys...

praying the with boys....

Part 2. Afternoon.

We arrived back from lunch emotionally drained. We all knew it’d be the Holy Spirit that would have to energize us for the afternoon. The workers directed us to an amphitheather type building where we could sort & organize the shoes for about 250 girls from Manchen. But first a little about Manchen.

The last time I was in Guatemala, I visited Manchen in Antigua. Of all the orphanages we visited in 2008, I didn’t like this one. I remember wanting to leave as soon as we got there. That’s a terrible thing to say and feel, and I’m so sorry for it now. But it being my first time visiting a government run teen girls home, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m way over-using the term “heaviness”, but I don’t know any other word to use. In this home were the toughest of the tough. The toughest girls, coming from the toughest situations, acting tough with one another. There were distinct social classes and you could tell who was running the place and who wasn’t. I saw a lot of dominance and intimidation. It was also the first time I had come face to face with so many 12, 13, & 14 year old girls who were pregnant by their dads, brothers, uncles, or some other close relative. As ridiculous as it sounds, it was almost better when their assailant had been a stranger. At least their wounding wasn’t inflicted by someone they trusted. Yes, how horrible when you start looking for silver linings with girls whose innocence had been ripped from them. I know these words are hard to read. Imagine standing in the middle of it. My skin was literally crawling. The Holy Spirit, living in me, was grieved. I was grieved.

I do however, remember meeting a girl named Iris. Iris was 17 and had just given birth to her daughter Jocelin. I’m not positive, but based on what the Buckner staff person told us that day, Iris was one of the girls who had not known her attacker. When I met Iris, I just kept hugging and loving on her. Because of her brokeness and fraility of just having had a baby, I think it was a safe place for me, as well. I didn’t feel like I was fighting the spiritual war with her the way I was with some of the tough girls. Hear me say clearly, these girls act the only way they know to act. They’ve been dealt an unspeakable hand, and I remember being so angry with God and crying out to Him, pleading with Him to take their pain away. He reminded me that He is the Ancient of Days, He sees everything. And there is coming a day…. And of course, who was I? My sins deserve(d) the same punishment.

Here’s a picture of me with Iris and Jocelin from two years ago.

iris & jocelin

Last week, at the amphitheater in the City of Children, the new location for Manchen, we started passing out shoes. The first couple of girls that I put shoes on were incredibly angry. They didn’t want to be there, they didn’t want the shoes, and they certainly didn’t want some chick acting like a pair of shoes would make everything OK. A new pair of shoes doesn’t -and would never – heal their wounds; if anything, it was almost insulting. Again, I couldn’t wait to leave. I told myself that this particular group was not my gifting; God had called me to love another age group/set of orphans.

After a few minutes, I heard Brynn, our leader, call out my name. Brynn was sitting with a young girl and I went over and knelt down in front of them. Immediately I recognized Iris! Brynn told me that Iris had recognized me. I looked at Iris and said, “Really? you remember me?! Oh my goodness!! I totally remember you Iris.” Iris told me, through Brynn that I was the second group that had come through after she had arrived at Manchen. She told me that she remembered me because “I had given her lots and lots of hugs after she’d had her baby.”

Tears. I stopped dead in my tracks. Ashamed, I asked God once again to forgive me.

I sat with Iris for the remainder of the time allotted for shoes. She told me that Jocelin was two and that she was in the toddler part of the orphanage. Sadly, she only gets to see her daughter twice a week. She went on to tell me that the next day was her 19th birthday, and that she didn’t know what she’d do next. Girls “age out” of the orphanage at 18, but the judge had allowed her to stay an extra year. She asked Brynn and me for one thing for her birthday. She asked us to kiss her baby for her. Jocelin, her baby who was only one wall over from where we were sitting in the amphitheather. We promised her we would.

iris 2010

With a heavy heart, we finished up shoes and walked over to portion of the City of Children that belongs to Manchen. Through two metal doors, guards at each one, we entered their living space. The boys from MIKESCHAIR pulled out their guitars, violin, cajon, and shakers. They began singing the songs that had become the “standards” of the week. After they were done with a few of the songs, the girls started chanting “Otra, Otra, Otra” which means “another” in Spanish. Now if I was a girl their age, I’d want to hear more too! Actually, the team was right there with the girls… we wanted more!! It doesn’t hurt that these guys are incredibly gifted, crazy talented, have huge hearts, and are being obedient to the call God has on their lives. And it ain’t always glamorous, I can tell you that for sure. And one additional sidenote: I canNOT imagine getting on a plane and taking this trip with anybody else next year. That will be hard. (editor’s note: I’m not gonna have too!! They’re coming to Honduras with me! yay. yay. YAY!)

As they sang one song after another, you could see the outer layer of ice begin to melt with these girls. That’s what music does. It reaches deep within the soul that words sometimes can’t. It prepares the heart. Yes, there were still some very un-godly things happening 20 feet from me. But for the most part, the girls were engaging the music. We started singing “Open the Eyes of My Heart” (there’s that song again!) and they sang it out in their language.

When the boys finished, Ivonne came up and began to talk to them about Jesus. She truly was a huge gift on this trip!! She spoke with such authority, and could talk to them flawlessly without an interpreter. Powerful. After speaking for a few minutes, Ivonne invited Tyra to come up and lead the girls – again those who wanted to – in the prayer of salvation. Many bowed their heads and seemed to be taking seriously what Tyra was praying, and were praying right along with her. She did a beautiful job explaining what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus.

From the time we stepped foot behind the walls of the City of Children, and specifically Manchen this afternoon, many of us on the team had been praying. With everything I had in me, I was pleading: “Lord, we invite You here to this place. God, come. Be Big. Be Mighty! Show up! Show off!! Pour out your Spirit, Lord. God, we give you this god-less place. You worked miraculously this morning. Do it again, Lord! Do it again!” All this, while 20 feet from me, girls were displaying their brokeness. Clearly, the spiritual battle was continuing. Jesse from MIKESCHAIR, sitting near me, was witnessing the same thing…..

Ivonne asked Jesse to come and teach the girls John 3:16. That had been 1 of Jesse’s “jobs” this trip, so he got up and walked to the front. He began to speak to the girls, but his words were a bit jumbled. He looked like he was having trouble focusing. He looked at Ivonne and said, “I have no words.” Ivonne translated to the girls: “He has no words for you. He’s overwhelmed.”

And that’s when it happened.

There are few times in my life I feel I’ve witnessed someone speaking as if they were hearing straight from the throne room of Grace. But that’s EXACTLY what I was seeing before my very eyes. Jesse paused, and then let it roll. I don’t remember the exact words he said, or in the order he said them, but this is pretty close:

“We know you have been hurt. We know you are wounded. We know people that you love are the ones who have hurt you. We know that terrible things have happend to you. We love you. We want you to know that you have a Heavenly Father that has seen every single thing that has ever happened to you. He doesn’t like it. He loves you. He wants you to know that one day your pain will be wiped away. One day He will heal you. He wants to heal you now. One day He will make all things right. You are beautiful to Him. Your life is worth something. You are the apple of His eye. He knows everything about you. And He loves you so very much.”

Jesse continued on, and it was as if he was asking God, “what do you want me to say next?” while Ivonne was translating to the girls what he’d just said. It was beautiful. Jesse started crying and could barely get the rest of his words out. The girls were visibly moved, and the spirit of the Lord was in this place! And we all know that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! There is no doubt about it, some chains were broken that day. I believe it with all that I am. After Jesse spoke, our time with the girls was coming to an end. The girls were crying. We were crying. Jesse walked to the side and they ALL swarmed him. They were hugging him, telling him they loved him. He had done something I don’t think many others have done. He ACKNOWLEDGED their pain. He didn’t sugar coat it. He didn’t give them cliche Christian answers. He told them what they already knew….they were wounded.

But their wounding didn’t make them worthless. God was in this place. And on this day just outside Guatemala City, inside their prison-like orphanage, even if only for a moment, they felt Hope.

jesse telling the girls that God see their wounds. And because of Jesus' wounds, they are - and will be - healed.

I will forever treasure this picture below. If I had been able to take it earlier, you would’ve seen dozens and dozens of girls surrounding him. But because we were praying with girls and “weeping with those who weep,” I was only able to take this one at the very end. Jesse was a vessel for Jesus this day. Ironically, he had shared Matthew 11:25 with us that morning: “when we try to be wise, we see nothing.” But … Jesse was very wise last Thursday. He said “yes” and then listened as God spoke.

Oh, and Jocelin? Promised fulfilled….

jocelin 2010

making it beyond my mailbox….

Hey Guys,

Welp, you’ve been burning up my email/FB/twitter/and blog. Wow! Wow! Wow!  If you’d told me 2 years ago that people would be asking me about running – much less how to train for a half marathon! – I would’ve laughed in your face! SERIOUSLY! You simply have NO idea….

But because so many of you have asked, I thought I’d share with you what caused me to finally make it beyond my mailbox.

Preface:

I’ve hated running my whole life! Only recently has it moved to a love/hate relationship. Of course, the only “love” part comes when I’m done!  Kidding. Sorta. But, I’ve always wanted to BE a runner.  I would buy new shoes, cute new shorts, new sports bra, new anything – to help motivate myself to run. I’d lace up, and barely make it from the front door to the driveway!! I’d immediately ask myself why I was doing something that I hated so much. I’d end up walking, telling myself that walking was better for me anyway (and from what I hear, it is).  I’d make it back after several miles, disappointed that I wasn’t one of “those” people who could run.  I’d put the tennis shoes away for another 6-9 months or sometimes more than a year.

BUT….last October, I turned a corner.

Earlier in January, I had made a decision that before I turned 40, I was going to run a 5K (3.1 miles).

C25K || $2.99 at the app store

I had mentioned it on air as a new year’s resolution when a listener called and said, “You have to try a program called Couch to 5K!”  I immediately downloaded the app to my iPhone. And OH MY WORD!! I can’t say enough great things about this program. I credit it 100% for being able to run.  I highly, highly, highly recommend this app.

I started running in October and ran my first 5K on December 8th.  When I started, I couldn’t run half a mile. C25K (that’s how they spell it) is a 9 week/3x’s per week, guided program that has you running/walking in intervals. It starts out with a 5 minute walking warm-up. You then hear a bell sound (ding, ding, ding – RUN) and you run for 1 minute. After the 1 minute is up, the bell sounds again (ding, ding, ding – WALK) and you walk for a minute and a half. Each week is a measured increase. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to increase!  And I didn’t think about miles at first; I was concentrating on listening for the ding.  Another great thing about C25K is that you can pull in your favorite music too. I absolutely, positively CANNOT run without music.

I had only completed 6 weeks of the program, when I ran my first 5K.  Sidenote: I had the 5K built up so much in my head you would’ve thought I was running cross-country! I actually took a personal day from work (the race was on a Wednesday night). Pete still laughs at me for calling him the day before the race, asking him if I should be carbo-loading that night.  He was gracious, and bought me eggplant parmesan for dinner. Haha!

After I ran the Jingle Bell Jog, I had an adrenaline rush from crossing the finish line and definitely knew I wanted to do it again. My friend, Marci (who did it with me) and I were looking for another 5K to do in December. She jokingly said, “there’s the Disney Princess Half Marathon on February 27th.”  Well…. February 27th WAS my 40th birthday! It was CRAZY, but I said “what the heck, it’s my 40th, let’s do it!”

Did I mention we had exactly 1o weeks to train?  3.1 to 13.1…MILES. Yes, we were ARE crazy!

After I recruited my BFF, Kellie, to do the half marathon with me, we immediately called her husband, Chris. (I’ll never forget the long pause, followed by the forced, “Sure you can do this…what’s the date again?” Hilarious!)  Chris is an Iron Man. Self-titled “Chief Wellness Instigator,” he has an organization called 10:10 Wellness. He’s in amazing shape! Fitness and overall wellness are his passions. Because of the short time we had to train, he introduced us to the Jeff Galloway method and issued our Princess Training Schedule. He had us starting at 4 miles and increasing 1 mile each week until the race. We were running 3 times a week for 30 minutes, with our long slow run on Saturdays.

The Jeff Galloway method is interval running. You can choose whatever intervals work for you, but we did 2:1, meaning we’d run for 2 minutes and walk for 1 minute. I strongly objected to this way of training because I was convinced since I’d worked up to 4-5 miles, I was digressing by putting a minute of walking in after each 2 minutes running. For the first couple of weeks, I ran while the others walked. But then week 3 came and we had to run 7 miles. It kicked my BOO-TAY!  I finally “got” why Chris had us training this way. He was training us for endurance. If I was going to run 13.1 miles, I had to do it this way. Otherwise, I would’ve absolutely petered out halfway through the run.

This year, I plan on running 4:1 intervals. Again, 4 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking. I’m going to do C25K through mid October, and then I will transition to this method. I will be running twice a week for 30 minutes, plus one additional type of exercise (i.e. biking, rollerblading, pure barre) and I will do my long, slow runs on the weekends.  I will start at 4 miles in mid-October and increase 1 mile every 2 weeks. For example, I will run 4 miles, doing the 4:1 ratio for 2 weeks in a row, and then increase to 5 miles, doing the 4:1 ratio for 2 weeks, and so on.

A couple of things I want you to know:

  1. You CAN do this!
  2. The first 3 miles are the hardest!! I’ve learned most people (myself included!) don’t get past 3 miles to get into a rhythm to be able to run longer distances. I actually enjoyed my longer runs on the weekend more than I did my short 3 & 4 milers during the week.
  3. When you want to quit, ask yourself, “am I really dying or do I just hate this?” Sometimes, it’ll be that you’re really dying!  But, try and refocus your thoughts. Tell yourself: “I can make it to the next tree/mailbox/stop sign!!”
  4. Get a good pair of tennis shoes! It makes all of the difference in the world. I have Asics. I love love love them! I also have a pair of running socks.
  5. Find a friend to train with and hold you accountable!

I’m posting below Phase 1 of my training. I’ll post Phase 2 on October 1.

If you really are thinking about doing this, post your name and where you live in the comments section, and perhaps this could be a connecting place for y’all to meet and train with one another.

Cheering for you!

carmen

you can be a princess too!

Disney Princess Half Marathon || February 26, 2012

Training SchedulePart 1    
  AUGUST
Week 1 7-13 Couch to 5K  Week 1 – Day 1, 2 & 3
Week 2 14-20 C25K  Week 2  – Day 1, 2 & 3
Week 3 21-27 C25K  Week 3 – Day 1, 2 & 3
Week 4 28-Sept 3 C25K   Week 4 – Day 1, 2 & 3
 
  SEPTEMBER
Week 5 4-10 C25K  Week 5 – Day 1, 2 & 3
Week 6 11-17 C25K  Week 6 – Day 1, 2 & 3
Week 7 18-24 C25K  Week 7 – Day 1, 2 & 3
Week 8 25-Oct 1 C25K  Week 8 – Day 1, 2 & 3
 
  OCTOBER
Week 9 2-8 C25K  Week 9 – Day 1, 2 & 3
Week 10 9-15 30 Min Run & 45 Min Run

“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

 

a note about the Disney Princess Half Marathon

Dear Princesses (and a few Princes!)

Thank you for your interest in running for FREEDOM!  I’ve been blown away, again!, by how quickly our community says “yes, God! I will do that!”

We will provide a way for you to join us for the Disney Princess Half Marathon posted on our JOY site by September 1. Natalie Grant’s organization, Abolition International, is finalizing details and paperwork with Disney. We want to be able to register as a Team. Natalie and I have been planning this for the last several weeks and have been so eager to tell you!! AND, we wanted you to have plenty of time to start training! 13.1 miles is not easy to run, but if you begin your training now, you can do it! The Princess Half Marathon is Sunday, February 26, 2012 at Walt Disney World.

So, lace up! And let’s run for the ones who aren’t free to …. YET!

carmen

Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless. -Isaiah 1.17  MSG

a pic of me & my girlfriends after we ran it last year!  this was one of the BEST moments of my life….a feeling I can’t describe.

February 27, 2011

Running Mix

Many of you have asked me for my running mix. I’ve posted it below! What songs do you like to run to? I’d love to add some new ones to my mix.

1. Start Somewhere –  tobyMac
2. Your Grace is Enough –  Chris Tomlin
3. Made for You – Building 429
4. One Foot – Building 429
5. It’s No Good to be Alone – Brandon Heath
6. Foreverandever – David Crowder
7. Funky Jesus Music – tobyMac
8. Keep Changing the World – MIKESCHAIR/Lecrae version
9. Make Your Move – Third Day
10. Strong Enough – Matthew West
11. Good Morning –  Mandisa
12. Don’t Quit on Love – MIKESCHAIR (available 8.23)
13. Let Us Love – Needtobreathe
14. Something Beautiful – Needtobreathe
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