A newspaper article I read in The Toronto Star last September intrigued me. A chalkboard wall was set up with words in downtown Toronto. People were encouraged to fill in the blanks in the sentence "Before I die I want to..."
As you can imagine there
was a list of answers,
here are some.
Before I die I want to...
Buy a cute puppy
Have a swinger party
Take off the mask
Go to space
Make life count
Find my passion
After much thought, if I was given the power of one wish that I could write on this board I would write:
Before I die I want to see the day when the practise of
buying and selling children to be sexually exploited for profit in Cambodia ends forever!
One day while I was looking at something on my blog Isabella happened into the room. I showed her something I had written about her. Isabella noticed how many people had looked at my blog, and was very impressed with this number. I told her this was for all time not just today and a look I am used to from her (high hopes coming down) came over her face. She than asked me if I knew "how many views Justin Bieber has?" with complete honesty I told her "I had no idea."
Isabella as she so often does took our conversation in another direction as she asked me "Would you like Justin Bieber to know about, and then help out Ratanak?"
I answered yes, of course.
These numbers are one year old.
Justin Bieber had 14 million Facebook followers, including 2 million likes.
Justin Bieber has had over 2 billion YouTube views.
Justin Bieber was Google’s most popular name search, running a distant second was Jesus.
I thought about the possibilities. What if Justin Bieber encourages his Facebook followers to look up Ratanak`s website? What if Justin Bieber gives 10 cents of every ticket sold at his concerts in support of Ratanak`s programs? What if Justin Bieber gave one dollar of every cd he sells to Ratanak International? What if Justin Bieber uses his media spotlight to create awareness of the problem of Trafficking of young woman and children for sex? What if Justin Bieber used one of the meetings he has had with the World`s Leaders in Politics to challenge them to enforce some of the policies in place to protect the world`s most vulnerable people? Finally, what if Justin Bieber encourages his many fans to talk to the same Politicians about his concerns for the same people?
Last week I ran my longest run so far. The weather was -21C. Weather was going to make this a very tough run, but not for the reason of the cold.
Last year I complained about the mild winter and how I did not like the feeling of running in the mud. Possibly I should have kept quiet. This winter we have had many periods of heavy snow followed by mild temperatures, followed by very cold temperatures. I have found my path in the Ravine slushy many times, or even worse covered in black ice. When the path is slushy, my feet get wet and cold and I cannot run as far due to the extra effort. (I have thought of trying to simulate this motion on a machine and selling it on an late night infomercial as it is a great core workout.) When the path is full of ice for safety reasons I have to run through the deep snow beside the path, again not an ideal situation.
One day I noticed the snow beside the path beaten down a bit and I told Gloria "I think someone is pulling a toboggan down the ravine."
On the day of my longest run I saw what I mistakenly thought what was my toboggan, was none other than a young lady running full speed with snowshoes on.
She was running the opposite way that I was and for most of my run I was able to follow where she had been, avoiding the ice by following her tracks. For me she represents God`s role in my life, in that sometimes I see God has already been where I am being sent. I may never see Him, but every now and then I get a hint as I did that day with the lady that He has went before me.
This may take the form of people and events that come into my life at just the right time.
Some recent examples of this are; coming home from work dead tired and seeing Gloria had shovelled the freshly fallen snow.
Having a friend from work who is a website designer set up my blog and takes my ramblings and turns them into something beautiful. Having the two people who after every new writing of mine sending me words of encouragement including sharing a story of how words to a particular song helped one of them through a tough time in her life. Having my boss (who has no idea) I am training for a marathon give me an easier job on certain days. Having my children patiently endure an outburst on some trivial manner (due to my lack of sleep.) Having friends and small Business owners financially support not only my last years marathon, but without any prompting three weeks later supporting my children as well in the Ratanak 5km walkathon. Sending me Paul, the man who does all the work for the walkathon and gives me all the credit. Having other volunteers in The Toronto Core Group doing many other of the behind the scenes work for the upcoming walkathon. Having friends and family accept the fact that a lot of our social activities are going to become all but nonexistent for a few months. Receiving a 20 percent off coupon for running shoes exactly when I need to purchase new ones.
Having set up my path, and encouraging me perhaps God was going to encourage and lay a path for a young woman helping in the fight against child soldiers, or the person involved with the people in a Homeless shelter, or the Grandma who is involved in the fight against AIDS in Africa, or someone who is helping our First Nation people.
Although seeing the lady in snowshoes was a great encouragement and made my running a little easier on this particular day; it still was by no means an easy run. Problems as deep rooted as the sexual exploitation of children for profit in Countries such as Cambodia will not be changed overnight by well-wishing and kind thoughts. Cambodia as a Country has experienced tremendous trauma in the time of the "Killing Fields"; similar to the trauma that these children face. Much as Cambodia was ignored by the outside world during this time, for too long the world has ignored these children. This problem will be overcome by hard work over a long period of time and most importantly by God himself.
1 Corinthians 1:27
27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
If God can make an ordinary person like myself become involved in these children`s lives, surely God could incline Justin Bieber`s heart towards these children. Because of my short comings any little success in my life I have to give God the credit and ultimately The Glory. If Justin Bieber became involved quite possibly many of us who are involved would probably not be needed. My involvement is this cause has been a great gift. It is an honour to try to change the lives of young children who are currently suffering for the better.
I only have to look in the mirror and see the eyes of the older, plodding Marathon runner to see the hand of God at work.
On the website for the very aptly named Chilly Half Marathon it mentions "setting your p.b. (personal best time on this day.) Another Race Director with a sense of humour, as p.b.`s are usually set in the Spring with ideal weather conditions, not in the dead of winter.
My training leading up to this race until this week had me thinking of a four letter word that I forbid myself to say out loud within Isabella`s hearing, the word is fast, as in Boston Marathon fast. My normal routine the week before a race is to slow down and do enough exercise to stay sharp, but to try not to over train, to try and eliminate all stress, and to try and get a little more sleep.
This was a tough week! I had one Daughter home from School with a nasty cold, two snowstorms to deal with, a hectic week at work, and a whole week of little nuisances that wore me out. This all came to a head on Thursday, as I had four different issues to deal with before work that if not completed would have a negative financial impact on me.
I was not thinking very positive as I stepped onto the treadmill for a easy 40 minute run. Within a few minutes it was like a dark cloud had enclosed me as I thought about what I still had to do, how tired I was etc, etc. I was rapidly approaching self-pity when a saying I came across a few years ago came to mind.
It is an African Proverb: "A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor."
I know my demanding schedule and the struggle to train for a marathon help me in the many times that I feel like quitting in a marathon. Sometimes in life it is the day to day battles that you face head on and refuse to give into, are what gives you the experience and confidence to take on and win the War`s that come your way later on in your life.
The next thing that happened to me was a thought that came to me in the form of two questions. "Why are you running?"
I am running for girls in two different situations. I run for the awareness I hope to bring for the girls physically held as sexual slaves in Cambodia. I run for the funding that is necessary to help girls rescued from such a life throw off their emotional chains and to see the day when their scars are dulled and diminished in contrast to the beautiful woman they become.
The second question: "How does your current life compare to either sets of these girl`s lives?" I do not know a proper word to explain my feelings at that time, to say the very least self-pity was long gone and the negative thoughts left me alone as I was again grateful for all I have and for all I have not had to experience in my life.
I remember reading a quote from a Christian Professional Athlete "excuses are for losers." I will try to keep that in mind as I give the results from today’s race.
First a family perspective:
Katarina told me after the race "everyone else had on such nice outfits, but you looked like a homeless person." True, but by now everyone knows where my heart and my resources are going to. Poor Isabella, in the parking lot I noticed the winner of The Mississauga Marathon warming up. Isabella asked me if he "was going to win?" This race had prize money so it attracted very fast runners, so I told her no I think he would come in about fifth. Isabella than asked me "Do you think you will win?" "No way!" I answered and marvelled at this young girl’s eternal optimism.
The Cleveland Marathon is 77 days away. I ran about a one hour and forty minute half marathon, indeed a Boston Marathon qualifying time.