In my last writing I mentioned the responses of my two Daughters to my running results. After showing Isabella her comments, she said that she does not remember saying them. In her defence she was six years old at the time. What was interesting was her comment about Reid Coolsaet Canada`s best marathon runner. After seeing his picture on my blog, Isabella asked me "why did you put him in your writing? He did not do very well at the Olympics."
27th in the World is not good enough for Isabella for someone she does not know, and yet she overlooks her own Fathers results (which are much further down the pack).
During a training run as I thought about this contradiction I realized something. Isabella looks at my running results with grace filled eyes. Because of her Love for me she does tell me quite honestly after each and every race she is proud of me.
Her attitude mirrors how God looks at me and all of you. His Love for us has Him overlook all of our flaws and He looks upon us with pride through His grace filled eyes. Unfortunately many times instead of looking upon others as God does I look at others through the same eyes Isabella used on Reid. I end up judging and holding others to a high standard I could never hope to achieve myself.
My family was not able to support me Today as Gloria picked up the Flu on Friday and we decided waiting outside in the negative weather with the strong North winds would not be wise. Isabella hugged me and wished me well as I was leaving. To make sure not to let her down I told her "I am not going to win today." She replied "I know."
Katarina wished me well, (there was no cash prizes so this pressure was off me.) As I turned the first corner of the race I ran onto Isabella Street and thought my family is here with me today.
I just finished The Egg Nog Jog a race put on by the running club The Georgetown Runners. On it`s website this race is referred to as "the prettiest road race in Ontario with picturesque views through Terra Cotta." After running this event last year I thought of contacting my two Lawyer friends in The Toronto Core Group regarding the legality of such a statement. To make sure The Georgetown Runners cover themselves legally, in the fine print at the bottom of the same website are the words "North America`s toughest road race". If you look really closely it also mentions a link to elevation charts.
Here is the elevation chart
What I have learned in my Running career is that if you are a Race director and your course is relatively flat you do not have such a chart, for example Mississauga and Toronto Marathons, our own Ratanak 5km. The races I have run with crazy hills, such as Hamilton's Around the Bay, and The Boston Marathon both have this chart.
I met a runner from The Georgetown Runners club at The Toronto Marathon who actually got a glint in his eye and started smirking when he talked about the Egg Nog Jog. I can almost picture the registration committee laughing, and elbowing themselves as entries come in from runners from other Cities who do not know what awaits them. I was one of these runners last year.
This year at the start a fellow runner was complaining about the placement of the finish line. I asked a question I knew the answer to "Is this your first time here?" Another runner gave me the knowing look as we both thought to ourselves, when he gets to the hills he will not be concerned about the 10 seconds difference he loses at the finish line placement.
The Boston Marathon has a series of huge hills beginning at the 30 km mark. The person who created this course did their research and found that most runners have depleted their lactic acid in their bodies at this point, thus making it even harder to finish this race.
Whoever designed the Egg Nog Jog course put similar thought into it. The first 2km are straight downhill. Last year I remember thinking to myself, Isabella may finally have a race result of mine to be proud of as I was in about 10 th place of 700 at this point. I also remember thinking to myself "I think I should slow down as I do not know what is coming up next."
What comes next is a steady 3km hill, followed by a very steep 3km hill. Last year as I ran I remember seeing a sign with squiggly lines warning of the approaching steep hills. I thought to myself, great cars are being warned about the steepness of these hills and, now I am going to have run them. Next is 2km of flat ground where last year the man and I got into the speed race with his chanting "They are mine, They are mine" in reference to the girls in Cambodia.
To finish off approximately the last km is straight down another hill, which seems like good news, but running downhill is where most running injuries occur, and after finishing such a gruelling race it is very hard keeping your legs from going out beneath you.
Last year at the finish line another out of town runner asked me "if I knew that the course was like this? " I told him no, and he let loose with about thirty seconds of cursing. Morals aside I agreed and marvelled that he had the breath to even talk as I could not.
This year I took it relatively easy and finished 20 seconds behind last years time, but ended up closer to the leaders (probably because of the wind.)
Friday I thought about last year and thought to myself why did I choose to go back, there was another race on a far easier course that I could have went to on the previous weekend.
Hills have become symbolic to me in terms of victims of sexual abuse, I feel each victim must start each day of the rest of their lives at the bottom of a steep hill. Even being a victim once is one times too many and the abused person faces a steep climb each and every day of their lives.
The girls in Cambodia have been victimized sexually thousands of times and face a hill the equivalent of Mount Everest. I can never, ever relate to this abuse, but in my small way by willingly picking a challenging race with over 6 of the 10.8km up steep hills, for a brief moment I hope to enter into a small portion of their lives.
I still have never stopped running on a hill in training or a race. Also faced with such a daunting task of trying to help give these precious children a new life I cannot be afraid to do things that may seem difficult and as I have learned involving myself in these girls lives, there will be no easy way.
Driving to the last Toronto Core meeting I had such a sense of excitement, almost joy as I was on my way. I stopped myself for a minute and thought to myself we are probably going to hear of some very disturbing stories at the very least of despair and unfairness. This will include young girls and boys. They may include graphic stories of sexual abuse, and yet you are looking forward to this I thought to myself?
A definition I found for the word blessed states bringing happiness, pleasure, or contentment.
Many of our Churches preach on prosperity and being blessed. Most people associate being blessed with wealth, health, and possibly fame. During my prayer before the Ratanak 5km walkathon it was pointed out to me that three times I asked for God to bless the participants.
In the Beatitudes Jesus said
Blessed are the poor in spirit
Blessed are those who mourn
Blessed are the meek
Blessed are the hungry
Blessed are the merciful
Blessed are the pure in heart
Blessed are the peacemakers
Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness
These are a few comments I have received from people who read my blog.
- The Lord has blessed you with a very sensitive heart.
- Thanks for including me in your journey with Ratanak. It is such a blessing and you have definitely inspired me.
- May God bless you immensely as you effectively serve as His hands, feet, and voice for the downtrodden.
- You are fortunate to have found this area of your life to become involved in.
- God has gifted and blessed you with His compassion. I love how you are choosing to allow Him to work beautifully in your heart and tears.
Again I ask myself the question am I blessed?
I have been involved with Ratanak International for over 6 years. I have two daughters, they were ages 6 and 4 when I started. I have heard more stories than I can remember about the sexual abuse of young girls in Cambodia who are the same age as my daughters. I now know of terms such as "Pink rooms", "international pedophiles", and "sex tourists."
I have became aware of the highly, organized network of Evil that shares information on how most effectively abuse these children and evade Law enforcement agencies.
I now look upon most Men I meet with some suspicion.
My oldest daughter Katarina has three Vietnamese friends, two are twins. Walking home from school with them many times my mind wanders to Cambodia and the treatment of girls their size, girls their age, and girls with very similar features.
Last year at my youngest daughter Isabella's birthday party a girl came who really brought this close to home. She is a girl from Vietnam, a girl who does not speak at all. The parallel between the girls in Cambodia who are voiceless to their abuse struck me very hard at a day of celebration in my House.
Psalm 34 18
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
To answer the earlier question. I am blessed to have the freedom to pursue true freedom for the exploited children in Cambodia. Involving myself in the exploited children of Cambodia has brought me joy, happiness, and contentment. I think in part because as the verse above mentions, Jesus is with these girls and the tiny fraction of my life that I give in trying to help these girls brings me closer to them which in turn brings me closer to Him.
To conclude as Christmas fast approaches I would like to bless you. I may live like this blessing some of the time, but I have met four people who live like this all the time and I would like to mention them in appreciation for the example they set for me and many others.
Brian McConaghy founder and director of Ratanak International, Lisa Cheong Country Director for Cambodia Ratanak International, Jessika Mak Toronto Representative Ratanak International, and my Father who has given his life to people who mirror the people Jesus spent his whole time on Earth with.
May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor