Summer is almost over and this Summer was a time of slowing down, a time of reflection as well as a time of dealing with whatever life threw at my Family.
One area of my life I thought about was the use of music, in particular lyrics from songs that I have used in my previous writings.
K`naan Take a Minute
And any man who knows a thing knows
He knows not a damn, damn thing at all
And every time I feel their hurt
I feel that givin` getting me up off the wall
Sums up my thoughts on looking back on my experiences of this Summer, and also looking ahead to the future.
For people new to this blog I have run five full marathons and helped organize two 5km walkathons to raise funding and awareness to benefit sexually exploited children in Cambodia, through the Christian organization Ratanak International.
This Summer my family experienced Soccer, pool cover bugs, Floods, and more then our share of drama.
Soccer was fun, both girls played for a different league, at different fields at the same time on the same night. Gloria and I took turns watching each girl play. Monday became known as Soccer night for our family, although eating Dinner at about 9.30 p.m. may have added a few inches to my waistline, as one night I was told by my better half "I don`t think Hugh Jackman eats that." I remarked "I do not think Hugh Jackman can run a marathon". To which Isabella joined in the conversation "He doesn`t need to."
One night while watching Katarina play I looked up into the sky overhead and saw something very beautiful. I saw a field with all the flowers of the earth. I saw the Sun shining bright. I saw many children all at ease, all smiling, playing, singing. I saw the abuse, and the shame and the baggage forced upon these children left outside of this field. I saw the children looking to their admirer. I saw the abused children of this world, children who had lost their childhood to Men`s abuse, reclaiming it with Jesus in Heaven.
Jesus said "Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these."
This image reminded me of the Song by Mercy Me and their thoughts of Heaven
I Can Only Imagine
I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk by your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face is before me
"Thank you everyone for your love, support and donations which helped me build a brand new life. I want everyone to know I`m doing just fine. I may have been to hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high and my feet firmly on the ground." Michelle Knight`s words about how she is doing after her 10 years of captivity in Cleveland. I would like to imagine myself, that although you and I may never hear these words, that there are children in Cambodia who are thinking these thoughts as they continue to heal.
Pool cover bugs, the names are water strider, and water boatman.
For quite some time in the Spring Isabella had taken an interest in these two types of bugs on our pool cover. One day she asked me "what were we going to do with them when we drained the cover to open our pool?'' With her persistence I realized I would have to come up with a plan. For Isabella has a love for all of God`s creatures, even bugs on a pool cover. This is a beautiful thing that I do not want to snuff out. The plan I came up with was to put the bugs in separate containers and take them to a pond near where I run. It is about 2km from my house so we would have to take the van. The day of the event Isabella expressed surprise that she was to come as I told her I need you to hold the pails steady so the bugs do not spill out. I thought how Isabella`s attitude reflected mine earlier on in my life with some of the World`s unfairness, in that I noticed the problem`s and expected God to solve them (without me being involved) and even blamed Him when these problems continued. I have come to realize that God is involved in these problems in a very big way, BUT He expects us to do our part. In summary the water boatman bug`s survived our trip, but the water strider bug somehow was not in the pail as we arrived at the park, and we could not find it anywhere. Another lesson I learned is that I am not guaranteed 100% success. I advocate for the children in Cambodia as best as I can however many times circumstances far beyond my control may delay or even thwart the freeing of these children, however this does not give me the right to do nothing.
As the Summer started I was asked the question "How are you?' I responded "Today I am good, but I do not know what Tomorrow will bring." Tomorrow brought a power outage and a flooding in our basement (due to a record rainfall), a car break down, and trips to three Emergency departments. We dealt with a severe Migraine and a fractured Tibia. These events reminded me of how little control I have over many areas in my life. The Flood was a blessing in a way for we cleaned out our crawl space and the "treasures" I had been storing in the form of old things that I thought had value, ended up costing me $17 to throw out at the dump. I think of Jesus and how the Soldiers gambled for His only possession His robe and realized I should be more efficient with my belongings.
The trip`s to the Emergency departments came as most things do, without a warning. We received great care with hopefully no future problems, and as we walked out of the Hospital each time I thought of all the Parents whose Children have serious medical conditions that may never go home. I thought of the saying on my favourite shirt that both my girl`s wore when they were younger. "Thank Heaven for little girls." I thought of the little ones in Cambodia and I thank Heaven for them, as well as having not so little girls that are Healthy, and a Country that looks after them with care when they are not well.
Music has played such a significant part of my writing which is interesting as I have no music talent, also interesting is the various types of music, and the timing.
After The 2013 Cleveland Marathon I wrote about hearing the Beatle`s song Let it be as I entered Brown`s Stadium and prepared myself for the run and how I changed the words to do not let it be in relation to the sexually exploited children in Cambodia. The 2012 Toronto Marathon ran out of cups at it`s later watering stations, causing me to be dehydrated, and have a very tough finish. At the 30 km mark a band by the side of the road played the song "Gloria" as I ran by them and for a brief moment I forgot about my pain, and thought of my most beautiful wife and actually smiled. At the finish line of the 2010 Mississauga Marathon I heard the song No woman no cry a song that friends of mine danced with some of the abused children of Cambodia on a short term Mission trip the previous year. In another run I heard the song I go blind by 54- 40, a song about looking at children suffering and being able to ignore it. What is interesting is that each time if I was even two minutes later, or earlier I would have missed the song.
At the gym I have heard No Doubt`s song Just a Girl, which speaks of a girl living in captivity. Taylor Swift Change was a recent addition in which I quoted from in my previous writing. I also have heard an older Bob Dylan song.
Blowin` in the wind
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they`re allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn`t see?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
His answer to all of these questions was to blow in the wind.
These questions still ring loud and clear today, and serve to challenge us. I always seem to have the wind against me in a Marathon, this along with heat and hills make finishing any race more of a challenge. Wind is a huge challenge. It is something out of my control, and it serves to keep me alert. My hardest training run of the past year was such a day. The wind on this day was 60km/hr and gusted to 85km/hr. Very early on I thought to myself Gloria could not run with me today as I do not think she is heavy enough to run into this wind. I was looking forward to the halfway point when I could turn around and run with the wind at my back.
Each time the wind gusted it hit me right in in my chest and took my breath away. For some reason I thought of a song from the movie The Apostle starring Robert Duvall where as a preacher he was leading his congregation in physically building a Church from the ground up. He would sing a line from The Bible about Satan`s work and in response his whole congregation would sing out "Satan get behind thee." For the rest of this training run each time a gust of wind would hit me I would think of something negative that should keep me from helping the children in Cambodia and I would sing out "Satan get behind me." One gust knocked me down as I ran up a hill, after checking that I was okay my loudest "Satan get behind me." Getting to the halfway point seemed to take forever, and when I turned around I went a short distance and realized the wind had just shifted so in fact this wind was going to be against me the whole run. I was able to finish, however the wind did take a toll on me as my time was 20 minutes slower then my average, yet as I have mentioned before in previous writings that these type of unexpected hardships though not pleasant, help you in dealing with other tests later on in life.
Running in my Ravine seems to be when the Music really comes to me. One day I thought of Bruce Cockburn`s song If a tree falls in a Forest and changed it to If a child screams in a brothel Does anybody hear? Does anybody care? Anybody hear the child scream?
I spoke once in a Church about these next two songs and how the lyrics challenged me. As a Rock group seemed to have more moral outrage and anger at Social injustices in the world then my twenty years in Church had taught me. The group is Rage Against The Machine. Just looking up these words again after such a long time really moved me. Maria is the song of a woman smuggled across a border into a life of slavery, eventually dying in her captivity at the hands of her captor. Born as ghosts to me refers to the fact it is much easier to never think about some of the suffering of the children that is going on in the World.
Tha Sun ablaze as Maria`s foot touches the surface of Sand
She knows the game she`s human contraband
Tha foreman approaches
Steps now pound in her brain
His presence it terrifies
And eclipses her days
And with a whisper
He whips her
Her soul chained to his will
Born as Ghosts
The hills find peace, locked armed guard`s post
Keeping us safe from the screams of the children born as ghosts
Born as ghosts, a warning, they suffer
They cannot speak a word
Born as ghosts, a warning, they suffer
They are the children born as ghosts
Born as ghosts
Viewing pictures of the recent Ratanak 5km Walkathon a song from Mumford and Sons came to mind.
Awake my Soul
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life.
Awake my soul
Awake my soul
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker.
Jessika from my core group summed this up to me best as every picture I saw from the walkathon she was in she was just radiant. A book I read this Summer speaks of the belief that the verse from The Bible saying that The Kingdom of God being close at hand is a statement that God has a Kingdom on Earth, as I looked at Jessika on this day I cannot help but feel for her investment of time and of her life for the children in Cambodia she experienced something very special on this day.
I received a clean bill of health from my Doctor. Now I am asked what is next?
I feel like I am to continue on the journey I have begun. It is journey of heart break and pain, a journey of sorrow and distress, a journey almost too much for me at times, a journey that takes me places I do not always want to go, but it also is a journey of incredible blessings. A rough plan has been formatted starting this fall (I have Family approval.) I have a few smaller races starting in October and ending with a full Marathon run in Ottawa next Spring. The Ratanak 5km will have it`s third installment, hopefully with even more success.
I have been told by more then one person that they felt my preparing for and running an actual marathon allows me to carry girls in Cambodia closer to their spiritual freedom. Last Monday my oldest Daughter Katarina broke her tibia in a Soccer game. Katarina has many excellent qualities, one I found out that night is that she is "tough as nails" as she walked off the field on her broken leg under her own power. Going to her team`s bench I saw her obvious pain and wondered what to do? Instinctively I put her over my shoulder; very slowly and carefully I carried her to the waiting car. Was it fun? No. Was it easy? No. Was it necessary? Yes. Did I resent or regret the physical sacrifice I was making? Of course not! What it also was, was an incredible honor in being the person who was trying to help bring someone I love closer to ending their pain. This is a picture of what I hope I can do for the girls in Cambodia.
Carrying Katarina carefully allowed her no further pain. The girls in Cambodia need to be physically taken out of the areas where they are being harmed, as it is only when trauma is stopped that healing can begin . Carrying Katarina to the car allowed me to take her to the people best suited to deal with her injury, X-ray technicians, and Doctors. The girls in Cambodia need to be taken to counsellors and therapists, one day possibly to Jesus to help them deal with the abuse they have lived through. One day soon Katarina will walk again without crutches, it is my hope that one day the girls in Cambodia will walk freely without any of their past clinging to them.
This is a picture of Centennial Hill where I run past now, later on this is the hill I will run in training that has allowed me to finish some very tough races with hills, this picture was taken in the fall of 2011.
These are my original thoughts after viewing this hill. " Look closely some trees have bright tags or ribbons on them; other trees have a white plastic guard around them. These fresh planted trees are the children of Cambodia; some yet to be born. The future of Cambodia is like these trees. The ribbons represent beauty and a marking or recognition that they have been chosen by God. The white guard protects the young vulnerable trees from wild animals, the colour white shows their purity in the eyes of God, not man. For the children it represents the Spirit that will guard and protect them. It will strike and chase away the evil that would seek to reclaim its land. The soil is love, not hate. Peace, not fear. Acceptance, not rejection. Hope, not despair. The children will grow straight and tall on this hill."
This is the same hill less then two years later, although seeing the difference in a Forest`s growth is obvious to the eye, it is my belief that some of the girls in Cambodia are healing on the inside, hopefully as fast as this Forest`s growth. What I found interesting is the beginning of Centennial hill. More than 30 years ago it was used as a transfer station for waste. Centennial hill where I run, and the beautiful park that surrounds it, used to be an enormous garbage dump. The children being used sexually in Cambodia are considered disposable; they are looked upon as garbage themselves. When they are no longer useful they are thrown out and another takes their place. God is in the process of building His own beautiful hill in Cambodia on the frail bodies of the children in Cambodia.
I started with a line from a K`naan song, later on in the same song he gives thanks to Africa for what it taught him, I changed it to Cambodia.
Dear Cambodia, you helped me write this
By showing me to give is priceless