October 19, 2012

Blanket Count 2012

Writing a title like that makes me feel like a sportscaster.

Today, I loaded my van to the top with 40 blankets that have bounced through several homes before they arrived in my living room.  I'm mailing them to Italy tomorrow.

This year, I feel like I am sitting back and watching miracles.  Last year, I think I was chasing miracles.  Which is more like running in circles, when you think about it.  I am guarding against worry, though it's creeping in as I tape these boxes up.

I suppose...if boxes do explode blankets all over the tarmac in Addis, and they don't make it back into our hands, then we can trust that the person who took them really must have needed them.  And that's the worst thing I can think of.  Besides the blankets being made and just sitting in my living room all year.  That would probably be worse.  All done up and nowhere to go.

I'm trying not to run in circles this year, since I hope I learned from last year that God provides for the needs of these children and just uses us as a delivery service.  I'm happy to turn the planning, providing, and worry over to God and just deliver the lovely packages to the beautiful children.

The astounding news is that the monstrous spreadsheet says we have 267 blankets 'pledged'!  Now, we just watch and pray that they will all make it out of the basements and living rooms and into the plane headed for Ethiopia.

October 16, 2012

Our Warriors

Our children are...

I could put many words here depending on the circumstances of the particular day, but lately they have been...warriors.

Hauling them here and there for one reason or another.  Making blankets at one unfamiliar church.  Sitting for a few hours in a pew of another unfamiliar church during a fundraiser.  Organizing for a blanket party at our church.  Tying and cutting and helping with Josiah.  Josiah takes the fleece scraps and ties ankles together while unsuspecting blanket makers are busy.  He favors me by choosing to tie me up most often.  Everett kept him busy by making an entire set of 'Lord of the Rings' rock characters at our church this weekend.

This business wears him out.

They help me fold and roll the blankets then pack them into boxes.  We work together to haul the heavy boxes to the post office.  It usually takes all 6 of us.  One for the door, one to watch Josiah, and the other three carrying boxes.

While we do these things we talk about the kids or the trip.  They are eager to be the ones making the plans and boarding the plane.  I pray one day that each one of them will go to Ethiopia and meet these friends they have heard so much about.

October 15, 2012

More Blankets

The email came from Karen a few months ago.


This year we will be visiting a new CarePoint in the village of Korah.

There are 210 children who attend and they have asked for blankets.  I put out the word, just a little trickle of a word, and waited.  My fear was that by asking for loads of help, I would detract from the fundraising for Kind Heart's new building.

As November is drawing closer, blankets are beginning to pile up in my house again. It is a wonderful sight.

The most amazing activity, to me, is watching people from all walks of life come together to make blankets for children.  It is so much more than simply writing a check. Each piece of fleece was chosen for a reason, then trimmed and cut.  Some blankets were tied in the living room of an elderly woman as she watched Wheel of Fortune.  Some were tied by children in a church fellowship hall.  Some were tied by several ladies as they chatted around a dining room table.  So many different blankets put together by so many different people.

This is an incredibly short video I put together for the times I wanted to share a little of the story from last year and introduce the project for this year. 

October 5, 2012

The Half

Race day.

Dark and cold.  Nervously, I am standing in the middle of a city street.  Seth is pressed to my side as we wait for the start.  The crowd is crushing in on us eagerly, but the start is still minutes away.

I am anxious.  The peanut butter sandwich I ate at 5am sits in my throat.  Seth looks down at me and whispers, "Good luck!"  With a kiss on the cheek, he quickly disappears ahead of me.

Even more anxious now, I stand alone in a crowd of 10,000 runners.  The countdown begins.  The crowd lunges forward as fireworks light up the sky.  We won't begin running for a few minutes.  As a shuffling mass of humanity, we push toward the start.

Still nervous.  Still can't believe I will attempt to run 13 miles today.  No pat responses have squelched my worry about finishing this race.

Finally, the crowd surges forward and there is space to run.  We run through the dark streets with thousands watching.  Soon, we cross the bridge and I feel good.  My legs are moving and I begin to relax.  It clicks that I have been working towards this all summer.  Just another run.

It's fun now.  Fireworks still cracking in the distance.  Cheers from the sidewalk and fellow runners.

Looking around, I notice myriad of running shirts around me.  Relay teams, local businesses, funny quips--I wonder if any of the 20,000 people expected here today will notice my shirt.  Written down my back:  "Sponsor a child.  Give food, water, education, and hope. "  "Running for hope" across my chest, I know people will be stuck behind me or seeing my back as they pass me.  Bystanders will see my front--a slow moving billboard.

I relax and begin to enjoy the sound of thousands of feet hitting pavement.  Cheers and signs--volunteers yelling.  The cadence of my own feet allows me to delight.  I look above the street and see faces peering from the apartment building ahead.  Five little heads, noses pressed to the glass, watching the river of runners stream past.  I smile and reach my arm high, waving my hand as I pass below their window.  They light up and wave furiously.  It makes me wonder who else we might be disturbing.

Six miles pass in a blur.

Soon enough my legs begin to tire and I realize that I still have five more miles to run.  A new song comes through my headphones and the burning in my legs is forgotten as I listen.  I'm in the car loudly singing with the kids.  They love this one and I smile thinking of them.  They were so excited for this race.  They have been my biggest champions.  In the afternoons, when I didn't feel like running, Eli would lace up his shoes and run a few miles.  We'd pass the house and Sally would trade places with him for a quick mile.  My last lap would be with our eldest.  Always starting off too fast and burning out, but finishing since he doesn't want to be beat by his mother.  Running with our children is a sweet time.  We chat and run and enjoy being together. 

Sally took this picture when we got home.

The song ends and it brings me into my ninth mile.  We are back downtown, crossing the bridge again.  My phone beeps and shows that Seth has already finished his race.  I hear my name as I near the stadium and see him cheering from the side, wearing an ecstatic but goofy grin. I cross the finish minutes under my goal time, thrilled to be done.  My first half, a celebration of my 35 birthday, a summer of working towards a goal I never thought I could meet.

I think I might just try it again.