“I’m not sure how to tell her story. She spoke, I listened. Periods of silence, followed by tears. Memories unpacked and peeled back. An open unhealed wound exposed. It had been just fifteen days since $23,500 was exchanged for her and her 4-year-old daughter. After two years and six months, they walked away from their ISIS captors for the last time. She heard we had come to provide food for her Yazidi community. She wanted to meet us. She wanted us to know about her captivity. She said it was important for us to hear. She said the world needed to know. She wanted to tell it for all the Yazidi women and young girls who couldn’t. She invited us inside where a kerosene heater warmed us from the bitter wind and snow outside. For the next several hours, over hot tea turned cold, I listened completely paralyzed for words as she spoke of rape and unspeakable abuse. This brave 32-year-old mother recounted with resolute determination the events which forever tore her life apart in ways none of us could possibly imagine.” – Partners Relief Team – February 2017.
For the children and their families who have been living under the almost indescribable desolation and despair of ISIS captivity (also known as Daesh), stories like this are sadly all too common. As cities and villages are liberated from ISIS control, thousands upon thousands of Iraqi and Yadzidi families require urgent help for food, warmth and help to get back on their feet after years of oppression. An estimated 750,000 Iraqis remain trapped inside Mosul City alone and are on the brink of starvation. Half of these are children. Already the UN has suggested that 4,000 people are fleeing Mosul each day and we expect this number to significantly increase this month as ISIS continues to lose its foothold. To respond to these escalating needs, a Partners relief team is on the ground in Mosul and the surrounding area to provide food, care and hope to these displaced families.
While we sip coffee and scroll through the internet, families in Iraq are walking through the desert with nothing but what they can carry. Families are walking away from their homes and tables they have gathered around and their cozy beds and everything their children have ever known; walking away from all that toward no heat and scarce food and not enough water.
Partners Relief & Development is urgently seeking $200,000 for critical food and essential supplies to be delivered in March 2017 to children and families in Iraq who have fled their homes to escape ISIS. We are embarking on our largest project to date in an effort to help them in providing aid on the front lines.
Our goal, through our non-profit, Love Runners, is to raise $10,000 by March 31st and we believe this is totally achievable with your help. We are seeking 100 donations of $100. We understand that this may be prohibitive for some people so our challenge to you is this, do you have 3 friends who could join you in donating $25 each or what about 9 other people who would be willing to donate $10?Can you imagine, turning your $10 into $10,000?! If you can’t donate but your heart is moved by the desperate conditions in Mosul, please help us by sharing the need, spreading the word, and praying for the people and volunteers on the ground in this war zone.
“There are still tens of thousands of people in the liberated areas and hundreds of thousands of people under ISIS control right now who are still living in their homes, and they are calling for us as the aid community to reach into the conflict so that we can serve them where they are,” Jeremy Courtney, CEO of the Preemptive Love Coalition, told ABC News in a voice recording.
The group delivered food to about 12,000 people in western Mosul on Wednesday.
Residents told the organization that Wednesday’s delivery was the first aid they had received. Some children cheered and said “We got it! We got it!” when they saw their father receive a package of food, the group said..
“We’ve got airstrikes and gunshots and helicopters overhead,” Courtney said in a video clip from inside west Mosul during the aid distribution as gunfire and explosions could be heard in the background.
Courtney described the aid distribution as “chaotic” and “representative of the chaos of the neighborhood and the difficulty of reaching people in those places.” People had to haggle with their neighbors to make sure that everyone got the food that they needed, he said.
“No aid has reached any of these people,” he said in the video, adding that thousands of people were fleeing, but that thousands were also choosing to stay in their homes.
The residents who received aid on Wednesday had been living under ISIS control for years until just a few days ago, Courtney said. Some had not had food for about a month while water has been shut off for three months, he said.
We want to start more than a conversation, we want to start a movement. We want to shout to the world that we will not ignore the hurt, that Jesus through us, in love and mercy, will prevail. Ann VosKamp said it best, I have saved and gone back to these words many, many times…
“We aren’t where we are, to just peripherally care about the people on the margins as some superfluous gesture or token nicety. The exact reason why you are where you are — is to risk everything for those being oppressed out there.
You are where you are — to help others where they are. The reason your hands are where they are in this world — is to give other people in this world a hand.
Caring isn’t a Christian’s sideline hobby. Caring is a Christian’s complete career. We don’t just care about people — caring about people is our job — the job every single one of us get up to do every single day. That’s it. Caring is our job, our point, our purpose. We’re here to care like a boss.
The world needs people who defy cynical indifference by making a critical difference — and that could be us.
Every single one of us can start changing headlines when we start reaching out our hands.”
Please consider partnering with us as we #StandWithThem.
Today, I get a gold star for bravery. Two nights ago there was a shriek from my daughter’s bedroom and she came flying out the door proclaiming a GIANT spider had just run across her floor. She declared that until it was found and killed she was vacating the premises. Since Dad has been out of town she has been sharing my bed at night and she has been taking her phone calls in her brothers room due to the hazardous conditions of her own. GIANT spiders are serious business. Today (only because laundry needed done I didn’t really want to find it!) I went on a hunting expedition through the discarded blankets and dirty clothes on the floor. I picked each piece up gingerly and shook out away from my body so as not to die if touched by the GIANT spider unknowingly. As I neared the closet I found the GIANT spider at the same time as I knocked into closet door, knocking it off the track and sending it clattering to the wood floor. Let’s just say I might have jumped and let out a bit of a startled yell…maybe…just a little bit…before slowly backing away, finding a large wooden sign and smashing the GIANT spider. The room has now been declared clear and safe for re-entry and as I said, I get the gold star for bravery.
Seriously though, brave is a really hard thing to be some days (even when spiders aren’t involved.) Following God in obedience is not for the faint of heart. BUT, I am seeing first hand that this is the place where the “Infinitely More” of Ephesians 3:20 lies.
“We aren’t having a store. A store doesn’t make sense. We just can’t do it.” I can’t tell you how many times in the short span of the life of Do Good Studio that I said these words to my sister. Man plans…God laughs.
Guess what is opening in less than two weeks? Yes. The Do Good Studio in their very own storefront and God could not be more in this. I just simply said “Yes” and moved out of the way for Him to work. I didn’t make a spreadsheet and calculate the risk and hedge my bets. I prayed, “God if you are in this work this out.” Since then, I have discovered the Infinitely More and it doesn’t look anything like I thought it would. In just the last week alone He has used the store to answer the prayers of two different families. Each with the same thread of obedience behind their prayers of wanting to use their gifts of furniture making for His glory, each seeking Him for an outlet for their inventory, and us, needing help to fill an entire store. He had woven us together long before we even knew what was happening and man, do we have some really amazing pieces to compliment the rest of the Do Good inventory.
Today, on the day I signed the lease for the store, my phone rang and I said “Yes!” to speaking to a group of 250 high school students from around the state at a Teen Leadership conference the same week that the store will open. They wanted me to share our story of turning “What if?” into “We can.” and “We have.” They want us to tell our story and show these kids how service can just look like loving on people. This group wants to know how THEY can come along side us and help US with volunteers, with collecting items for donation, with the potential for a Love Runners/teen mission trip on the horizon. I just can’t even…INFINITELY MORE.
I am humbled by a God who is so good and so big. A God who cares so much for our hearts and our dreams. A God who, when we get brave and follow His call, introduces us to the Infinitely More.
What is God asking you to do? What have you said “No. Never.” to? What would happen if you said yes? Can I encourage you to pray about it and if God continues to stir your heart over it put your Grown-Up-Spider-Crushing-Bravery-Pants and go for it! It’s scary but…
“All glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20
He just needs you to say Yes.
If you want to come visit us please do! I would love to have a cup of coffee and introduce you to the Studio. Get all the details at our website or like us on facebook to keep up to date on all of the happenings.
First a special invite to spend an evening together and share a meal with myself and my family. We have joined forces with Captain Montague’s Bed and Breakfast and Love Runners for a great meal and a great cause! Join us for a traditional low country boil (that means crab legs, boiled shrimp, redskin potatoes, and corn on the cob-YUM!) live music, and lots of fun. I would love to have some of the Run and Be Still family there to celebrate with! There are a limited number of tickets available. Get the details or purchase tickets for $30 at the Do Good Studio.
100% of the proceeds are being used to fill the needs of the children at Casa Bernabé orphanage in Guatemala. Casa Bernabé Ministries is changing the way vulnerable children are handled in Guatemala. Most children have come from broken homes, and are victims of abandonment, neglect or abuse. Casa Bernabé has the ability to provide care for up to 150 children. We are hoping to supply each child with a backpack, school supplies, and a pair of school shoes.
Learn more about Casa Bernabé, their mission, our involvement, and how you can help at Love Runners.
Secondly, I have been reading a phenomenal, and timely, new book, Doing Good Is Simple by Chris Marlow, founder of Help One Now. My copy is all marked up and colored in; there are so many ideas, quote-ables, and amen moments throughout it!
Here’s the party line for the book…We all want to do good, but often, we can be overwhelmed by our busy schedules, family commitments, and the feeling that we might not be making much of an impact anyway.
In Doing Good Is Simple, Chris Marlow gently challenges us with grace and humor to realize that we are both called and equipped to make a difference in the world and reminds us that doing good can be simple!
Here’s my take…This isn’t about religion, it’s about being a disciple. It’s about how the Good News can look like clean water, a hot meal, or a warm blanket. It’s about how we can live on mission right where we are. It’s about how ordinary is becoming the new radical. It’s about how Christians should be know for what we stand for, love, compassion, and justice, not what we stand against. Hope matters. People matter. Simple doesn’t mean easy. Simple means we remove distractions and focus on making an impact. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be complicated. We just need to begin taking steps in compassion, filled with grace, offering dignity. Loving our neighbor will always cost us something. However, it will always give us something far better in return: a deep sense of worth.
As part of the launch team for the book I have some special things to offer to my tribe. The book launches August 2 and if you pre-order through the following link you will get treated to all of these goodies! No matter where you are in your journey, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book! I say that, not because I have to, I wouldn’t recommend a book I didn’t like and no one has time in their busy schedules to read a bad book. I recommend dedicating some time to this book because its message is a huge catalyst for change in a world that so needs it right now.
Finally, we are just days away from Christmas in July, and I am feeling a little festive . My gift to all of you is free shipping on everything over at The Do Good Studio. Let’s spread a little July-Christmas cheer with some gifts we can feel good about! There are some great new items available. Use the code RUNANDBESTILL and get free shipping on everything you order through 7/26/2016! Happy Holidays!!
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” Please, if you are in the area, August 12, let’s get together, share life, enjoy a meal and do some good.
Together, with one small act, we can make a huge impact!
Very quietly last week Run and Be Still celebrated it’s 3rd birthday. It’s amazing how fast time flies and how much can change in the span of a year.
Life is fluid. Like the waters constantly meeting the shoreline, shaping and molding, so are our days. Sometimes they pass gently and lazily. Sometimes with such ferocity they steal bits of us as they go, washing them away, reshaping who we are.
This has been a majorly reshaping year for us. So many changes, forcing us out of our comfortable routine and into this grand new adventure.
Isn’t it ironic how the future and the passing of time makes us desperate for our memories? At least that’s where it finds me. Milestone markers open the archive of memory banks and old photo albums and I try to hold on just a little longer, remind myself so I’ll never forget, the way things used to be. I don’t want to go back, I really like the “me” I am becoming, I just want to remember. And it would only be fair to admit that the memories I cling to are most certainly revisionist, glorified, and edited. Even (probably especially) the bad days. The passing of time has dulled their sharp edges. Their bitter taste comes part and parcel with the sweet ones.
This past year has found me trying to answer the question, “What am I going to do with myself?” I suddenly found myself with extended blocks of time on my hands. (No more kid shuttle bus duty. It’s all very bittersweet and as you know I am working though it.) Then there came a deep desire to really make a difference. Someway, somehow. I needed to do something. There was a hole that needed filled. I don’t think this is some mid-life crisis. (Although you may be reading this thinking, “Sister you are kidding yourself. That’s exactly what this is.” I’ll just keep pretending, thank you.)
Move. Touch. Share. Love. It’s my new mantra. Love in action has become my cure. Love Runners and do Good have become the vehicle. They are my “Just Do It.” I have a tendency to become intense and obsessive when I am passionate about something. One of the biggest lessons that I have learned in trying to get this off the ground is that this isn’t everyone’s dream. This isn’t everyone’s cause. But oh my, the opportunity to be God’s hand and feet in this endeavor makes my heart beat faster and I am not going to give up on that! And so it was with great anticipation that I launched the online studio last weekend. We are officially Open online! Will you please check it out and pass the word? It would mean so very much to me! Love Runners and The do Good Studio.
Launching Love Runners and The do Good Studio reminds me of the days when Run and Be Still was brand new. Stalking the analytics and statistics, wondering if anyone has visited and if anyone even cares. And then here we are in the blink of an eye, 3 years later, and you’re here and I’m still here. When I started out I didn’t know what I was going to write about, how long I could keep this up, or if anyone would even read it. To date, there have been 237 posts, 17,525 views, and 9,188 different visitors from across the globe! It’s amazing to me. Humbling. We’ve shared a lot of life together and over the course of those years the continuous lapping of the water has reshaped me and the course I thought I was on.
In Love Does, Bob Goff says, “Accepting the invitation to show up in life is about moving from the bleachers to the field. It’s moving from developing opinions to developing options. It’s about having things matter to us enough that we stop just thinking about those things and actually do something about them Simply put, Jesus is looking for us to accept the invitation to participate. Each of us gets to decide every time whether to lean in or step back – to say yes, ignore it, or tell God why He has the wrong person.”
That, has been in a nutshell, what the last year has looked like. From opinions to options. From mere thoughts to real actions. Big family milestones. New house. New mission. New adventure. I guess you could say year 3 was the “Year of the Yes.”
Please help! The Do Good Studio and Good Coffee (actually it’s fabulous) have two different single origin coffees (I may have mentioned them 😉) that we are excited to introduce but before we do they need a snappy new name. (I was just going to go with their “scientific” names, Caranavi and Muungano, but decided to do something a little more fun and easy to pronounce.) The problem is my creativity is overdrawn right now, there just isn’t anything left to draw from. What’s in it for you? FREE COFFEE! All you have to do is hop on over to the Love Runners Facebook page, like us (please) and add your suggested name(s) in the comments on the We Need Your Help Post. If we choose your suggested name for one of the blends, a freshly roasted, newly named, bag of unbelievable goodness will be on it’s way to you. You have until Monday to submit your ideas. On your mark. Get set. GO!
If you want to stay up to date with everything that is happening with Do Good and Love Runners please join the Do Good community or like Love Runners on Facebook. All of our product information (including a members only sneak peak at the product line-up) will be transitioning over there.
We slipped away for a few days, taking a much needed breather from house projects and Wally, (he is still around making his presence known every night -unfortunately), work, school, and real life in general. We traded in the hustle and bustle for the life of a beach bum. This is a trade I will make any day of the week! But, it couldn’t last, and Monday rolled around and brought with it everything we had been working hard to forget – and SNOW! Seriously, insult to injury! There was one thing I was looking forward to getting home to though…my new favorite coffee.
This was one box I couldn’t wait to open when it arrived a few weeks ago. It was full of coffee samples from all over the world and we’ve been drinking pot after pot of unbelievably wonderful coffee, all in the name of research, of course.
After all of our sampling, our two favorites are single source origins from Bolivia and the Congo. You can see the super scientific rating system that we used on the sample bags. These will soon be available for you to try at The Do Good Studio.
In our continuing effort to Do Good in both our support of Love Runners as well as our product offering we are excited to announce our partnership with Higher Grounds to offer these exceptional coffees from around the world. Higher Grounds is building lasting partnerships with small-scale growers, working directly with them to ensure a top-quality product. Through those close relationships and ongoing community projects both in our local area and globally, we are able to provide coffee drinkers with an excellent product and the opportunity to engage in a cycle that begins at, and returns to, our partners in coffee-growing regions. Bottom line, your morning cup of coffee (or afternoon or evening or all of the above) really will make ripple effects and Do Good, locally and internationally.
Now, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the farmers who grow these fabulously, magical beans.
Like most coffee-producing countries, Bolivia has long been heavily impoverished. In order to successfully produce quality coffee and support their own economic and environmental sustainability, farmers need infrastructure and technology. Thankfully, the fair trade and organic coffee movement has provided support and opportunities to these farmers.
A vast majority of Bolivia’s coffee is grown in the rural Yungas areas, where organic Arabica varietals thrive on small plots that have been redistributed from larger landholdings back to farming families. The rugged terrain often presents a challenge, but the Bolivian farmers who grow our coffee are working hard to produce a very high quality product.
For my coffee geeks, the Bolivian Caranavi typically presents a clean cup with a rich body, notes of semi-sweet chocolate and cranberry, and a smooth, creamy finish. Along with notes of toasty hazelnut, the discerning palate will pick up hints of mango, lemon, and honey in this dynamic brew.
Democratic Republic of the Congo Our favorite, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is from the Muungano cooperative, located in Kalihi, South Kivu, on the shores of the expansive, volcanic Lake Kivu. “Muungano” means “togetherness” in Swahili, a perfect description of this emerging group of farmers who have joined together across communities after decades of conflict.
DR Congo is home to many of the economic slaves of the world, both historically and today. A country the size of Western Europe, it has a population of 70 million, an average life expectancy of just 51 years, and an average income of only $200.
Coffee represents a sliver of hope for the DR Congo, and we jumped at the opportunity to engage in a movement for peace through economic development not based on conflict or exploitation. Through coffee, it is hoped by many, local Congolese can begin to rebuild their communities.
For my coffee geeks, the DR Congo Muungano demonstrates a lively, balanced cup with nuances of Meyer lemon and sweet almond.
I am hoping you will love these brews too! Meanwhile, in my hopped-up-on-caffeine state, the To Dos are getting done and we are growing closer to opening our virtual doors. If you haven’t yet checked out the new website, please do. Also, we are still looking for some local partners to “love on.” You can nominate your cause here.
I want to begin introducing you to The Goods that will soon be for sale in The Studio and I am starting in a most humble way with basic Red Thread…a simple friendship bracelet whose roots have really gotten to me. I have made many, many of these in my younger years and once again I have one adorning my wrist. But let me weave you a story and you will hopefully understand why.
In some villages in Nepal, the climate and soil conditions are so difficult that families can only grow enough food for two months of the year. Men from the villages go to India to find work while many women are left at home with their children, unable to support themselves because they lack skills and education.
The girls and young women in these villages are especially vulnerable to sex traffickers who deceive them into believing they will help them get a legitimate job. Eternal Threads is providing vocational training in tailoring to “at risk” girls in villages giving them the skills to earn an income that will protect them from exploitation and give them hope for a better life.
The statistics on trafficking are somewhat conflicting due to the covert nature of the crime, the invisibility of victims and are often simply unavailable due to under-reporting.
I am not an expert on the subject but I can tell you this hit home with me as I looked at my beautiful young daughter who fits precisely within the demographic of what traffickers are looking for. It is physically sickening. If she were taken she would have 1% chance of being rescued and a 7 year life expectancy once she entered the trade. This criminal enterprise is second only to drugs bringing in an estimated $32 billion a year, $88 million a day. In the U.S. there are as many as 300,000 underage girls being sold.
In cooperation with our partners, Eternal Threads and the Red Thread Movement are able to help save over 2,000 girls a year from traffickers. Rescued girls, who live in the safe houses from six months to a year, are not only given counseling, but also receive vocational tailoring and beautician training.
These hand woven bracelets from Nepal are made by rescued girls in the safe houses. Your purchase of their goods gives them lifesaving income that they can save to start their business when they leave the safe house.
This is something that only cost a few dollars but hasn’t left my wrist since I got it. I can’t help but think of the very real person on the other end of this story when I look at my wrist and Thank God that she was rescued while at the same time offering a prayer for those who we have yet to save.
Visit The Do Good Studio and be the first to know when these bracelets will be available. Please join me in the Red Thread Movement.
This morning I am being fueled by a new blend of fresh-roasted coffee and decorated in red thread and sparkly beads. All in the name of research and development…
I have been back and forth on the best way and time to share All The Plans that have been uncontrollably overtaking my thoughts the last couple of weeks. Today I couldn’t keep it to myself anymore. I am hoping that you, my Run and Be Still family, will help be my Launch Team for this great big dream and Good idea. So, ready or not, here it is.
Love Runners and Do Good…
Here’s the thing. I have been working on these great, inspiring, succinct (this is my biggest struggle – I like words so much) mission statements that have lots of buzz words in them and wrap up my whole idea in a tidy little package but let me just lay it out like this for you today. The world sucks and my heart is breaking over the children who are caught in the crossfire of the myriad of ways that we’ve failed them. Kids sleeping on the streets, little ones digging through the trash for food, babies having babies, children forced into adulthood by the very fact that there is no adult there to take care of them. The kids on the fringes, outside our circle of our playdates and overnights and quiet neighborhood safety. But as my heart breaks over these things it is spilling out Mom Love. It is getting all over my nice, comfortable, unmessy existence and really mucking things up. Enter the heart change and the move and all of the “adventures” we have lately found ourselves in. Love in action has become the driving force in my day. I don’t want to continue living in apathy and indifference because we are not here to make an impression but instead to make a difference. I want to make a difference to these hurting, neglected, abused, sometimes prickly or troubled, often unnoticed kids. I just want them to know how much they are loved.
Here is the Reader’s digest version of my dream.
It began with this picture…
And from this Love Runners was born. The idea is to become a community resource dedicated to meeting the needs of others both locally and internationally.
We have been moved by compassion, to touch the lives of the marginalized and broken, giving what we can, in an effort to share The Love that has been poured out in our own lives.Wherever love is needed we seek to deliver it in whatever form we can.
This past Christmas it took the form of shoe boxes full of toothbrushes and pencils (and socks and toys and balls and dolls) shipped overseas through Operation Christmas Child. On the heels of that, we were informed of a need for blankets at an orphanage in Guatemala. (Babies were sleeping in their coats to keep them warm them at night!) Off the boxes went filled with blankets and Love in action…
We know the need is great, not only internationally but here in our own backyards as well! My pockets are not as deep as my heart is big though so the problem became how to fund this noble, often changing, cause…
Enter Do Good, the ever-evolving product of a sisterly brainstorming session. In a nutshell, Do Good is a not-for-profit store…shopping for a cause. The proceeds from all of Do Good’s sales are funneled back into Love Runners to fund whatever the current project/cause might be and in this way, one small act or purchase can be combined into something much greater.
We have Big Plans for Do Good (because the world is full of Big Hurt) but before we can grow to Big we have to start small and from here, with your help and God’s blessing this will explode beyond anything we can imagine.
Step 1: Plans for today...we are preparing to launch Do Good’s online studio soon. (You can check it out here and be sure to visit us, like us, and share us on Facebook or sign up to get our emails and be one of the first to know when we officially open our “doors” for business.) We are currently scouring the globe, near and far, for fair-trade, up-cycled and unique Goods that we hope will become your new favorite things, perfect for gifting, or keeping for yourself! Thus, the new blend of coffee, the red thread and the sparkly beads…We have been shopping, tasting, trying, wearing, creating for a cause.
I am so excited to begin introducing you to our product line, and some of the artisan’s stories that make the Goods even greater!
Step 2: Dreams for tomorrow… What if? This is a great big question…What if? We have so many ideas but it all comes back to this… We dream about seeing tons of Good Done and having innumerable Love Stories to share.
Today, I am just so excited to finally be able to share this idea with you! Please check out Do Good and share our big news so we can begin to get some momentum going, and tell me, do you have a favorite blend of coffee, piece of jewelry, local artisan?
Is there a cause that is near and dear to your heart that has a need? We are going to begin the vetting process, building our portfolio of Love Runner partners.
And finally, as my launch team, would you consider praying for this mighty endeavor, that God’s hand would continue to guide and direct as we move forward?
All my Love Launch Team – let’s do this!
Cease Striving…Be still…Know God (Ps 46:10) Sounds peaceful, right? Peace-filled is more accurate. "Still" has little to do with activity and everything to do with state of mind. Welcome to my crazy life!