Monday, March 14, 2016

The Fragrance of Christ

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

I have many thoughts about these verses. I see a much bigger picture than what is shared in this short passage. It could read "Days before Jesus was crucified Jesus came to Bethany. " Or "While Jesus was visiting with the once dead now alive Lazarus..." Really, for those of us who have been Christians for any length of time it is so easy to quickly read familiar passages and not absorb the impact of what they say. For me the thing I keep coming back to it the fragrance. " and the house was filled with the fragrance".

I am a big user or essential oils, I use them for  nontoxic house cleaning. I use them in my shampoo and I diffuse the air. I use them to replace most commercial personal products. I use them in toothpaste and to ward off germs and bugs and to treat  sore muscles, head aches, head lice and sleeplessness. I have some oils of the more common variety that while still very beneficial such as lemon or lavender.   I have some that are much more valuable such as frankincense and myrrh.  Some have sweet aromas and some have very woody or even pungent fragrances. All of this oil come from the essential or life blood part of the plant. The oils I use are without any syntactic additives making them honest and real, a true representation of the plant from which they were harvested. (Hear me out. This is not a sales pitch.)

One thing is certain. People I encounter know I am an essential oil person. I do talk about oils for certain but even more it's the fragrances talk for themselves. Some people are attracted to the fragrances some are offended or  even repelled. Either way there is always some reaction. 
People at church will hug me and comment on the oil. Many times they will walk into a room for come down the hall and comment that they knew I was near by the fragrance. Because it is so part of my regular life I don't even notice the smell. Often, very often, people will come to me and ask questions about the oils and I am always happy to share with them. Some will tell me they hate patchouli or they love patchouli. Some will accept without reservation the benefits of the oils and some will utterly reject the concept as fad or irreverent.

Can you see where I am going with this?

When Mary anointed Jesus with oil the whole room was filled with the scent. Jesus Himself carried the scent on His body. When He walked through the streets people could smell the sweet aroma. Jesus Himself stated that this was the anointing of His body for burial. The fragrance of His anointing stayed with Him. He is referred to as "the anointed One". 
But here is what I am really 'chewing on': Mary. The sister of Lazarus. When she wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair she carried in her body his anointing. She carried with her the very precious fragrance of Jesus. When she walked through the crowds they could would know that she had been with Him. She would be a reminder to them of Him. 
So I'm thinking ever deeper here. Essential oils are very powerful and are actually rapidly absorbed into the blood stream. So also the anointing of Jesus is not a surface thing only. This anointing of Christ goes beyond our minds and intellect and becomes in essence the very life blood that keeps us alive and pumps our very hearts. 
Just as there are cheap oils that have synthetic additives so there are 'cheap' counterfeits in the holy anointing world. There are teachings that leave out the life blood that are void of the Holy and living Spirit of God. Teaching that may smell pleasant but have no power to heal. There are teachings that start our smelling sweet and turn rancid in time. Sunday, some days believers are not authentic.  The Word says "You will know them by their fruit." Without the life blood there is no life. There is no fruit.
If we are to carry the fragrance of Christ it must be the costly expensive fragrance. The fragrance of the arrest, the beating, the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus. To carry His anointing we must be willing to live as He did. As the oil was poured out so must we be poured out. 
It's expensive.
 Some people will reject it.
Some people will be repulsed by it.
Like Judas some will think the cost is too high.
It's not about smelling good.
It's about honoring Jesus. 
It's about carrying His fragrance. It's about others knowing as soon as they walk in the room they they are with someone who has been in the presence of Jesus.
I want to carry that fragrance. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Dance Teacher (and the Lesser)

When the children start  back to school it seems to always be a time of reflection for me. For most people I think. We remember shopping for new shoes and buying a lunch box. We remember the boxes of 8 brand new crayola crayons and the three ring binders.(They were only blue then.) There was a little hint of autumn coming in as we packed away our lazy summer days. There was always the excitement about meeting your new teacher and the hope that she would like you. For me there was also the fear. The fear that came knowing that I was a 'Lesser'.
Today it was like the perfect storm. Everything lined up in my day in such a way that all at once I was back there. Earlier today, Shane, the owner of the local running store wrote a post about runners and how they perceive themselves and how they are perceived by others. This is in part his post (Shane Miles, Roanoke Island Running Company):
...Secondly! When you are proclaiming how much you don't look like a runner.. It's incredibly insulting to those who ARE your size and even bigger that have made a decision to get healthy and turn their life around. There are men and woman your exact size that beat the streets everyday and yes they ARE runners and to me they look like runners too! All you need to do is stand at the finish line of a marathon to realize just how much of a runner you DO look like as all shapes and sizes of athletes cross the finish line, without excuse of what they they Do or DO NOT look like, to accomplish something great! I've personally been passed, on more than one occasion, by women old enough to be my grandmother... at mile 23, okay! That's called "Dropping the excuses and going after goals" despite any weight, age or other self doubting self talk! So, I really do not care if you run or not, that's your choice.. But PLEASE.. Stop going around telling people you do not "look" like a runner!

It zapped me.I am that runner who doesn't feel they look (or run) like a runner.

The next event in my perfect storm was when my dear friend a public school teacher shared with me how she had to write up a child in school today because they were not wearing the proper shirt for dress code in her school.

My final 'blow' came in teaching the children in my Kidz Source class the 139th Psalm. 

These three things lined up on the same day when there was already nostalgia playing in messed with my emotions pretty badly.

When Shane wrote his post I thought of the many times I have criticized myself about my running. On one hand I am pretty excited that I can run. On the other hand I find myself daily comparing myself to 'real runners'. You know..the ones that look pretty even when they sweat. The ones that can run less than 10 minute miles who get up at 0 dark thirty and never miss a session. The ones who run 50 miles and run big hills. You know the 'real' runners. And they always have great legs.
As a child the most athletic thing I ever did was play tag in the backyard with my cousins. I was not even very good at jump rope. I was pigeon toed and somewhat knock keened. I had to wear special shoes.I was teased by the other children who got to wear saddle shoes with their school uniform while I wore big clunky orthopedic shoes. I was not a runner. I was always 'less' good at any type of physical activities than my peers. I was a I was less fast, less coordinated, less talented. I was "lesser" then and it carried over to today 50 years later when I still consider myself less of a runner than my peers. That in spite of the fact that I am nearly 60 and have run more than 10 miles in one session and run 3-7 miles three to four times a week.  Shane's words were encouraging and also challenging  to me. 

When my teacher friend spoke of her student instantly I was back in Catholic school wearing those orthopedic shoes. The principle of the school pulled me out of line on the way to a whole school assembly and in front of everyone pointed out my non-regulation, non-uniform shoes. Again I was 'the lesser'. She continued to have me turn around in front of her as she inspected the rest of me and found a small L shaped tear in the back of my green plaid hand-me-down uniform.I hung my head in shame. In knew I was different..and not quite as good as my peers.  I was the 'lesser' because I had less money than my peers who wore new uniforms with no rips or tears. Tonight  I had to wonder did my friend's student feel like a 'lesser'. It moved me to tears.

I lived my life knowing I was less. Honestly I did not expect more. I was less smart, less athletic, less rich, less educated, less pretty I knew my place and while I may have sometimes been embarrassed by it I accepted that I really couldn't expect any better. I still find that I make excuses for other people when they treat me like a 'lesser'. I don't generally get angry.I rather expect it.

The third event in my perfect storm  was the thing that wrecked me.I was  teaching the children Psalm 139. You know the one." I thank you Lord that  I am wonderfully and fearfully made."  "You knew me when you knitted me together in my mother's womb." So here I am telling these children about the amazing love that God has for them. I am telling them that God choose for each of them to be exactly as they are. I am telling them that God does not make junk and they need to never compare themselves in their strength or weakness to anyone else. And as I am telling them this God is speaking to me. God is telling me that I never was a 'lesser'. He is telling me that I always was enough. He is telling me that I am enough.He is telling me that I am wonderfully and fearfully made. And He reminded me of the ballet teacher.

I was maybe second grade. She taught ballet at the Watermill Community House. I think it was Saturday afternoons. She had us line up and one by one move the length of the shinny wooden floor to show off our beautiful ballet moves. It wasn't until many years later that I realized that she made up a move (and had the whole class do it) for my sake. Pointing my feet outward was difficult So she had all the other little girls point their toes inward (pigeon toed)  and walk the length of the floor. I did it the very best and she praised me highly For that one moment I was no longer a 'lesser'. For that one moment I was just as good if not a little better than my peers. That one moment has stuck with me for over fifty years. 

I write tonight to help me sort out some of this myself but also to encourage you to be that ballet teacher.To encourage me to be that ballet teacher. 'Lessers" are all around us.  They might look like runners (or not). They might look like students with the wrong color shirt. They might be that kid with the clunky shoes or the hand me down clothes.They might be that kid who acts out or that runner who can't call herself a runner.  (It might be you!) But each of us has the power to touch the heart of a child who needs to know that they are in fact "Wonderfully and fearfully made." Each of us need to be reminded that "God does not make junk." Jesus tells us "Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me." The least of these..the lessers.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

Resurrection Day

No doubt you have heard the story of the resurrection of Jesus countless times. In Sunday School, in Children's church, in Bible Study and from the countless pulpits that preach the sermon year after year as Christian's gather to celebrate what we have come in our culture to call Easter. This blog is not about that day. This is about the day when Jesus came alive to me. I felt prompted to write this to honor those who seemingly unknowingly but very naturally changed the course of my life as a child. I say seemingly unknowingly because we were not in a classroom or in a church but what they shared came during normal activities and they just shared what was part of who they were. 

I was raised in the Catholic church and attended a Catholic school. We went through all the classes and learned to parrot the correct answers to any given question. Then it was time for the sacraments. Of course we had all been baptized as infants. That was the first sacrament. The second was Holy Confession. The mystery of that small dimly lit confessional box caused awe and fear in this seven year old girl. I admit now that many (most) times that I visited that box and shared my 'sins' with the priest I made them up. The hard part was trying to get just the right mix of sins as to not appear to self righteous and not being so bad I would be called out. But it was in relation to my First Confession that a spark of resurrection life was quickened in me.

It was a typical Sunday afternoon. We were having dinner at Grandma Muller's house. Grandpa was in the living room with the rest of the family as Grandma and I finished cleaning up in the kitchen. She was washing the dishes and I was drying. She was talking about my upcoming confession and asked me if I could say the Act of Contrition. I said I could and she asked me to say it.
"Oh my God I am heartly sorry for having offended thee. And I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because they have offended thee my God who are all worthy and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to confess my sins do penance  and to amend my life. Amen" 
Grandma was very impressed and then asked something that no one had ever asked before. "Do you know what that means?". Sadly with all the instruction I had received I had no idea. So Grandma took that prayer and line by line explained what true confession meant. In that conversation was born in me the desire to please God with more than my words.

Fast forward. I am about ten. I am in the backseat of Aunt Bam's car. My mother's youngest sister often took me under her wing and included me in family activities while my mom worked. She was the scary aunt because she was strict but she was also the loving and fun aunt. (Actually....I think perhaps I am just like her in many ways :) . I think  my cousins Karen and Steven were in the car too. We were passing the Water Mill windmill headed east on Sunrise Highway. Like the death of JFK and the first man in orbit, the death of John Lennon and the attack on 9/11 this moment is forever etched in my memory. 
I am not sure how it came up but Aunt Bam said that Jesus would one day return to earth. This was mind blowing to me! I remember the excitement I felt in hearing this new thing! I hung on every word as she explained the rapture and the 1000 year reign of Christ. This was truly the day that Jesus came alive to me. 

Years would pass before I fully embraced Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But  both Grandma Muller and Aunt Bam were the first people who put flesh on Jesus for me in a way that I could carry Him with with for the rest of my life. 

While I do not practice Catholicism I do embrace some of the early teaching at my grandmother's side. I want to daily confess to my Jesus that I am sorry for having offended Him. I now hold to the teaching that I do not have to dread hell for myself because Jesus has once for all paid the penalty for my sin. I do not go to a priest but to Jesus the High Priest. 

And more now than ever I look forward to the return of Jesus. That longing that was born in me through the words of my aunt has only intensified. I see how the world is changing. I read in The Word of God to expect these things. I expect the state of the world to continue to grow worse. I am not a 'dooms day' person. I am a 'second coming' day person. I know now that  when people try to remove the Christian faith from all public venues that this is part of it. Jesus told us this would happen. Our faith will grow because of this. We are not being persecuted (yet) in the United States for our faith. We are being shaken awake by those who do not yet know the real live Jesus. Our faith is being tested.Faith that cant be tested is faith that cant be trusted. (-Greg Laurie)  We must live for Him now and be prepared to die for Him later should it come to that. But unless we have those 'resurrection' moments in our live Jesus will only be words in a book and lessons we need to memorize. 

I am writing this to encourage you if you are a "Grandma Muller" or an "Aunt Bam". Live your life in a way that other around you will be able to look back and pin point the moment that Jesus came alive to them. Take captive every opportunity to stir into flame the moments you are given. 
If you need  a 'resurrection' moment in your life..I challenge  you to allow a simple childlike faith to be born in your heart that  you may truly, honestly, meekly say "God show me." He will. He will send you a "Grandma Muller" or perhaps a "Aunt Bam". He is faithful. He will do it. Don't try to grasp it with your mind. Embrace Him with your heart.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Rat House

I remember her so well. It is as thought part of me still lives within her walls. Her walls that are only a memory. In those days she not far off Hwy 27 just across from the old Hotel James. Behind her were the potato fields and the railroad tracks. Built in the late 1600 to early 1700's she held the memories of countless children. One of the proud Halsey Houses. As a large founding family they all worked together and built several identical homes scattered over the eastern tip of Long Island.
We were renters for a few short years. Maybe three? But she is my childhood home. We lived in I think 17 houses before my 18th birthday but the Rat House was 'home'.
This house with the thick walls and low ceiling was poorly insulated and we had to close off the stairway to the second floor and only occupy the first floor in the colder months.My mother occupied the 'borning room' complete with a antique cradle and a brass feather bed. The fireplaces at that point were non-functioning or maybe the landlord just didn't want us to use them. The house was cold. So cold that one winter we had to move out for a time when the pipes burst.
As alive as the house was with the memories of centuries of families and perhaps a visiting dignitary whose name may have been George Washington the walls were alive too. Rats who needed a warm place to winter found the thick walls and the close proximity to the potato fields to be the ideal place to weather the winter. At night their nocturnal adventures could be heard as they scampered just behind our heads separated only by the plaster walls. There was the one night that a rat feeling cold and bold made his way to my sister Janice's bed. As she pulled her blankets up in the night to warm herself she heard the tell-tale thud as the rat fell on the wide floor boards and scurried across the floor. I think Digger liked setting the traps and emptying them when they succeeded in their intended mission. When the traps were not enough the poison was worked. We spent many nights with the blankets held over our noses to buffer the putrid smell of the rats as they decomposed in the walls where they died.
While my mother worked my brother, sister and I found countless amusements. Digger unearthed a civil war cannon ball in the back yard when an old shed was torn down. An American Indian  witch doctor instrument covered with shark teeth and horse hair was unearthed in the old dumping ground behind the potato field. We would sneak into forbidden places in the house to check out the secret passage ways behind the chimney that we were told were used to hide from the Indians. When an old Elm tree was cut down in the front yard we found what was believed to be the remains of an American Indian dumping ground. We climbed trees and picked blackberries and wild grapes. We flattened pennies on the railroad track and played with the potato bugs from the fields and we made extravagant homes for the horse chestnut families.Sometimes we walked  to the Penny Candy Store and  sometimes we walked to my grandparents house. It was the happiest time of my childhood.
The Rat House gave me a curiosity about people and a desire to know history. The low ceilings and slanted floors, the exposed beans and beautiful fireplaces, the dutch oven and narrow half circular staircase gave me a love for antiques and a passion for charm. The hand hued nails gave me an appreciation for the hard work that went into building such a home.
Tonight I did an internet search on the Rat House. It has been more than 50 years since we last walked out her door.Sometimes I visit her in a dream. I am always excited to be there.
When I saw the pictures and read about her I almost cried.As I am writing this I am crying.


The Rat House is gone.
The people who bought the property last year had no desire to live in this 300+ year old home.It did not suit the needs of their family. They offered it for free to anyone who wanted to remove it but it had to be done quickly. When that didn't happen quick enough the Historical Society striped what they could before she was.....destroyed. It is even hard to type that.
With the complicated childhood that my brother, sister and I shared there was this one time in our lives when we had a home that suited us perfectly.We had room to run and we were home.
 I want to think that she remembered us too. I want to think that had we gone back she would have somehow found a way to greet us the long lost children that she had grieved for as much as we grieved for her. I want to think that as the walls came down that a worker found a long lost marble or a baseball card or penny candy wrapper wedged behind the dutch oven. I want to believe that they thought about the kids who lost it more than 50 years ago.
I want to go back just one time.
I want my mansion in heaven that Jesus promised is waiting to look just like The Rat House.No... I don't want it to look like it. I want it to be it. But the rats are not invited.
 Until then goodbye my childhood friend.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

For the man I married. All of them.

Today I went for a run with my 13 year old granddaughter Katie. I mentioned that tomorrow was my anniversary and that her granddad and I will celebrate 41 years of marriage. This started me thinking...
Katie is five years and one month younger than I was on my wedding day. How could this even be possible?  But it's true. As an eighteen year old I had no doubt that I was old enough. Steve was twenty. In 1974 in New York as a male he still had to have his mother sign for him. When we told my mom we wanted to get married she immediately thought I was pregnant.
My life at that time was in flux. When my mother remarried she moved away and I went to live in another town. I hated it and my sister and her husband were gracious enough to let me move in with them and share a room with baby Jesse. For $10 a week I could eat all the Kraft mac'n' cheese my little vegetarian body could handle. My sister was less than three years older than me and she already was married with two children so I really didn't think myself young. My brother got married when he was eighteen and his bride was only sixteen!
Funny thing.. with all the divorces in our country...there are none in my family. Digger has been married to Kathy for 47 years. Janice to Gene for I think 45 years and I have been married to Steve for 41 years. I am proud of us. Of all of us.
We grew up as children of divorce. We knew the pain of  being fatherless children. It was hard for Mom and hard for us. We were fiercely protective of each other and of our family as a unit.
All of us have had our hard times in our marriages.   But  all of us always knew that family was still worth protecting and fighting for.
I am not married to the boy I said " I do." to on that cold January afternoon. He is not  married to that same girl. That girl who wore a $25 antique dress that her mother found in a country store display case. A dress she really didn't much like but she was too timid to hurt her mother's feelings. A girl who really wanted the whole white veil thing but since her mother told her it would not look right did  not say she really wanted it. That girl was someone I used to know. And someone that visits me sometimes when I am not feeling confident  to speak words that I am feeling. But she is mostly gone. Mostly.
The boy with the shoulder length mass of blond hair who rode his motorcycle through the driveway of my high school and popped wheelies as I watched from my earth science class..well I haven't seen him in a while either. Maybe once in a while when entertaining grandchildren that boyish daredevil will show his face.
But the truth is the last 41 years we have each been married to many different versions of ourselves.
The year before Gretchen was born we were the kids living in a basement apartment with two old twin beds pushed together. We had an old box spring that we used for a sofa and a china closet witth no china. Steve bounced his motor cycle down the concrete steps so he could work on it in the comfort of our sparsely furnished living room. We drank cheap wine out of the bottle and entertained in the back yard with a bedspread laid out on the lawn for guests to sit on.

Then we became the new parents..I was still only 19 . But with the birth of our first child we entered a new season. We evolved and started to grow up. We even got some furniture. It was never new. We got what we could and made due with what we had.
Once at the NJ state fair I saw a very expensive table set. I don't know how we did it but we bought it. It was $500! My grandchildren now are growing up around that same table that their mama grew up at.
And so the years passed and who we were changed and changed over and over again. But what did not change was our belief that marriage and family are worth investing in and worth fighting for.
What also changed was not only who we are but 'whose' we are.
It was three years after we got married that my sister Janice started to talk to me about Jesus. The same timid girl who could not tell her mother she wanted a veil could not tell her husband she was turning to Jesus. I would go to the library and borrow a bible and then hide it so Steve would not know. Somehow..I thought that he would think I was very 'uncool'. One year later he would also come to faith in Christ.
At this point we started to become who we are today. Everything else in our past was to bring us to that point. Any confidence I have now that I lacked before is a direct result of God and my husband loving me through all my weakness and all my failures and being there to tell me I am still loved. I can love others because I have been loved when I was at my most unlovable places.
The man Steve has become is direct result of the decision he made in 1978 to be a Christ follower and to love me as Jesus loved the Church.
When we have been married 51 years..well I guess we will be a different man and woman than we are today. Life will happen. We will truly  be that much closer to becoming the perfected 'us'. Finally when we done changing with the seasons of life the whole 'til death do we part' thing will only be a pause until we become who we were always created to be.
I am thankful tonight to have been on this life journey with Steve. I am thankful for who we were and for who we are becoming. "Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be."  
Steve, this is your anniversary card..since I lost the one I bought for you :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015


All day I have had waves of emotions. Five years ago...a half a decade ago everything changed. January 12, 2010. About 5:12 PM. 45 seconds. Nearly two million dead. My family alive. GOD WHAT AM I SUPPOSE TO DO?????
Unable to put two thoughts together in my head without the thought 'earthquake' slipping it's sting into my heart. I remember thinking "How can these people just continue with their day?" I felt like I was bleeding out and no one noticed. After the first week came and went CNN had other disasters to cover. But I was stuck. Because it wasn't over for the millions of people who were left injured, homeless, hungry and thirsty. 
Now I can still feel the ache but it seems almost like a dream or  a book I read or a movie I saw. 
This grief drives me back to her. I long to again see the beauty that Haiti was and is and is becoming. 
The rubble is mostly gone. The tent cities replaced by semi-permanent tent neighborhoods with small gardens planted beside the concrete floor and canvas walls and  tin or canvas roofs. Beautiful ceramic tile mosaics replace broken down walls. An entire water front street is paved with mosaics.

I am proud of Haiti. In some ways, maybe many ways she is better than she was before the earthquake.
 I was not in Haiti on that fateful day in 2010. But I was. On my first trip there I often said that
"It would not fit in my carry on so I left half of my heart in Haiti."I don't ever want to be the person who shows up and does a few good deeds and goes home. I want to be a grandmother to twelve children who call me "Nana". 
But tonight I can not think of Haiti without crying. The grief is still very close. The fear of  knowing that we have no promises that it wont happen again. But there is peace in knowing  in that 45 seconds God was there. God is still there.  But time will always be measured in "before earthquake" and "after earthquake". 
Today my heart and prayers go out to all the people of Haiti.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Long Run and What does that have to do with me?

Today is Nick Mangine's birthday. He is 35 and he is preparing for his first marathon in Jacmel Haiti on January 4th. While Nick has spent months preparing for this event he has really been in training for years. He has always chosen to step up to the hard challenges. He has never been content to be on the sidelines when there has been a race to run.

Many of you first learned who Nick was shortly after the Haiti earthquake nearly five years ago. (January 12, 2010) That was when people got really interested in the 'race' that Nick and Gwenn were running.But the race began miles before the public interest.Nick sold everything and gave up a good career in 2009 and moved his wife and family to Haiti. Even that took over a year to prepare for. This truly has been a race of more than seven years at this point.
 It was just that during those hard miles after the quake we all had a good view from the spectators stand. We watched the endless videos on CNN and saw the tragic photos. Our hearts bled with all of Haiti during the months that unfolded and much needed giving was drastically increased.
Over the last five years Haiti has been and still is in recovery. Cameras have turned to other tragic stories.The race continues.
Other challenging hard miles have come and gone since those early days. As a family they have dealt with more in these years than most can image.A middle of the night home invasion and gunpoint robbery, robbed at gun point on the way to the airport and more serious illnesses than I can list.They have seen death and life up close and personal.Poverty tries to suck the life out of everyone in Haiti and Nick and Gwenn are not strangers to going without.
 Nick  sometimes has become  fatigued and weary from the run  and has hit a  wall and felt too tired to continue. He has experienced all all the highs and lows that a long distance runner learns to expect. He has had times when getting to the next 'water station' for refreshment could not come soon enough. He has felt the loneliness of the long miles when it seems that he is the only one on a stretch of road. He has felt the elation that comes when least expected a friend or family member shows up miraculously on the side of the road waving and yelling and holding up a sign  that says "You're almost there!" or "Stay Strong!" or maybe even a funny sign like "Run faster or the kids will catch up!". Those encouragements in the form of kind words, prayers, fellowship and financial giving have been the thing that keeps Nick on track. That and the sheer love he has for his wife and the twelve children in Haiti who call him PaPa Nick. Twelve children who are being trained to run their own races. Because of PaPa Nick they will be trained and ready to sign up for this marathon we call life. They will be equipped with courage, integrity and strength. They are learning that if sometimes the good things are the hard things. But the good things are worth the effort.

So on January 4th Nick will run 26.2 miles. In the heat. In Haiti. I have no doubt he will finish. Just as I have no doubt that when this life race is over he will cross over the finish line and be greeted with "Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter now into my rest."

Months ago when I heard that Nick had signed up for this marathon an idea started to run around in my head. (run around ...get it?)
In January a lot of people start new fitness plans  or recommit to an  old one. Now as Nick is about to run this race lets commit to run with him. Here is how  you can join his race:
Decide on a goal for your year. (When I was 58 I started running. Honestly... if I can you can.) Maybe you will run, maybe walk, maybe palates, yoga or chair aerobics. It's good for you. Do it.Then in the spirit of 'running with Nick' for the long haul commit to this: each time you complete your chosen activity put one dollar in a jar. At the end of 2015 send that collected money in to Joy in Hope. Because giving is about the long haul. Running with Nick and cheering him on takes effort.


In addition to the joy of giving you can get your very own running shirt!!!! I am going make running shirts available to everyone who commits to Run for Joy! Shirts will cost $25 with all of the profits going to kick start the giving! These will not be the cheap cotton shirts you get from your average 5K but will be made of 100% polyester so you can actually exercise in them.


Submit your shirt design to me and when we decide on the best design and the artist will receive a free shirt!!!
The design will be on a white or light colored shirt. It should contain the slogan " Kouri pou Lajwa" which means "Run for Joy" in creole. It can contain the Joy in Hope logo.
All entries must be received by midnight Jan 2nd to be considered. Once shirt design is selected we will be ready to take orders!
BUT don't wait for your shirt to get in the race! Let's run with Nick and  " Kouri pou Lajwa" ! Please share this post liberally. If one person takes on this challenge and works out 3X a week at the end of the year that would be $156.00! Do the math. This could be an awesome way to say Happy Birthday to Nick and cheer him on to the finish~!
Design submissions can be sent to me at put Run for Joy in subject line.

Nick's facebook :!/ng.mangine?fref=ts
Gwenn's facebook:!/mangine?fref=ts
Let's go Haiti (marathon) on facebook:!/LghMarathon
Closed group on Facebook for those who want to join the run : Kouri pou Lajwa- Run for Joy