So, today’s my birthday. I am a couple of years into my thirties and these have been the best years yet! I’ve learned the most, grown a lot, matured by leaps and bounds (hopefully) and have grown in love in areas I never would have foreseen. In honour of my birthday, allow me to share a couple of my passions with you!
On Becoming a Runner
Almost exactly 2 years ago I began my journey to becoming a runner. Me, the girl who could barely run a block without shin splints, knee pain, heavy breathing and cramps. I don’t know what I was thinking other than when I set my sights and mind on something with a solid goal, I can be pretty steadfast and determined. And maybe a little crazy.
With the help of a friend I began training to run a 5k – from the spring to the fall of 2013 I learned how to run properly and adopted a barefoot running approach. (You can read more about my experience and the training program I used with my How I Became a Runner posts part 1 and part 2 on One Fun Mom.) I found that I wasn’t experiencing any pain when I ran this way, and the adrenaline rush after was addictive. Not to mention I was probably in the best shape of my life!
The 5k was cold, rainy, but exhilarating! And I was hooked. Since the winters here in Ontario are long, hard and very cold we didn’t do too much outdoor training, but signed up for a spring 10k. We enjoyed many early spring outdoor, soggy, and a little chilly but invigorating runs in preparation for this next big hurdle.
Flash forward to today – I’ve run a couple of 10k races since that first year and am now training for a half marathon – something I NEVER EVER would have thought I would do. But it’s amazing what happens when you find something you love, set a goal for yourself, and have accountability (and perhaps a little bit of craziness in your blood). Truly amazing!
I’m not sure exactly where I’ll be going from here (yes, I’ll say it – I am never going to run a full marathon! :D), but since this may very well be my first and last half marathon (for we never know what life holds for us in the future!), I am dedicating it to one of my other passions, The Lulu Tree.
When I began my 31 Days of writing about purchases that make a difference, I had no idea how God was going to use that series to break my heart for what breaks his. I’ve have learned more than I could have ever thought or previously wanted to know about fair trade, ethical manufacturing, sex trafficking, and the dire plight of his beloved children all over the world in various situations and circumstances. But through this knowledge he has produced in me a heart that is becoming softened, compassionate toward helping others not just in far off lands, but also in looking for those near to me who need help, comfort and love.
They exist to not only end the cycle of poverty for widowed and HIV-infected families in Katwe, one of the worst slums in Uganda, but to bring faith and healing through Jesus Christ to the slum’s future generations. They do so by providing a training and education program (run by Ugandan locals), shelter, food, community, and discipleship to the single mothers, daughters and families in their program.
Since writing about The Lulu Tree, their founder, Emily, asked me if I would consider helping with their organization in some way. I told her I would pray about it, and I did a few times, but didn’t really feel any urgency or pull. A few months later, she asked me again, and this time I prayed more about it and talked with The Man, and we agreed that I would / could join with the Lulu Tree as a volunteer in the area of social media and marketing.
A week or so in and I found myself heading up the marketing division! I’m still shocked and in awe at the journey God has taken me on through the hours spent researching, writing, sharing, growing my heart for the purpose of using me to further his kingdom.
I am so passionate about these women and broken by the depth of pain and sorrow so many of them have experienced in too few years. Yet they are precious and valued in God’s eyes and little by little, The Lulu Tree is working toward helping these women learn to make much of what little they may have.
“Lulu” in Swahili means “pearl”. Uganda is the pearl of Africa, and pearl also stems from a parable in Matthew where Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a pearl that a merchant sells everything he has to buy. The kingdom of God is also compared to a tree which birds come to rest in.
Also, The Lulu Tree is an actual tree in southern Africa – a variety of shea nut tree. Because the tree’s rich bounty of nutritious lulu nuts yields at the exact time of the seasonal hunger, the lulu tree is greatly celebrated in Southern Sudan as a vital natural resource. The economic value of lulu nuts is also extremely high, providing women guardians with income and household food security.
Our goal through this organization–similar to the tree, and to the parables–is to bring the kingdom of God to earth by providing sustenance during Africa’s exact time of seasonal hunger.
I am asking you to consider partnering with me as I run this half marathon on May 3rd – these women are running a different kind of race, a daily race against desperation, hopelessness, disease and poverty, and we can help equip them to run it well.
Please go to my You Caring Lulu Tree Run for Mothers and Daughters Fundraiser Page to make a donation. My goal is to raise $400 – all of the money raised will go toward providing a room or rooms for the mothers and their children to live in while they are in the program (about 1 year). Providing a safe place for them to live is of the utmost importance for their physical protection and also to use the mosquito nets properly to avoid disease.
If you feel a desire or urgency to do more, you can also sponsor a single mother or daughter in the program – there are sponsorship options ranging from $15 – $100 per month, as well as one time gifts.
This month, any purchases you make through our Lulu Tree artisans will go toward the building fund. Be sure to check out the Lulu Tree Etsy boutique as well, our products are handmade, amazing quality and beautiful!
If you’re on Instagram, I’m running a giveaway for a credit to the Etsy shop, so head on over and check out my Instagram profile for details on how to enter.
May God use your passions for His purposes and good! You are loved!