Grace, Tenacity, Humor (Meeting Tenley Albright)

On Friday, July 18, Tenley and I left for Tampa to fly up to Boston. In addition to Boston, the trip would take us to Connecticut to spend time with dear friends, then to New York City where we indulged our love of NYC and saw more friends. The reason for going to Boston deserves its own post, though.

The library was my sanctuary as a relatively bright yet awkward, athletically challenged, overweight elementary school kid at W.E. Cherry Elementary in Orange Park, Florida. Then (as now) I would pretty much read anything. I gravitated to a biography of champion figure skaters. I am not sure how many times I checked that book out over my elementary school years, but I have to have been one of its most frequent readers. That book was the first time I was introduced to the name “Tenley,” because it covered the career and eventual gold medal Olympic championship of Tenley Albright. I can’t say that at that moment I said “if I have a daughter someday I will name her Tenley” but the name was always on my short list.

My fascination with figure skating was a constant throughout my life. I got to attend the National Championships in Detroit in 1994 (yes, the year of “the Kerrigan/Harding incident) and in Providence, RI, in 1995.

1996 rolled around, with a due date in July for our daughter, and the naming process began in earnest. Wayne wanted to indulge his love of Russian history with “Anastasia.” Several options that would honor his recently deceased sister Ann Elizabeth were contenders: Eliza, Liza. I had a “J” category: Josie, Jocelyn. I wanted to honor my Aunt Grace, who was a favorite, but I have a superstition that naming a kid Grace dooms her to a lifetime of clutziness! The more we tossed around the “Tenley” idea, the more it stuck. That’s how Tenley Anastasia came to be.

And thus started 18 years of:

Is that a family name?

Tinsley, Tensley, Other Variations

And 18 years of me trying to convey to Tenley Albright, after whom our Tenley was named, how much her story had inspired me and that I wanted her to know how we had made the choice to name our daughter Tenley.

I wrote letters, sent emails, tried every way I possibly could to share this information with her. Selfishly, I felt like I was the only one with the brilliant idea to use this name but as it turns out I was most definitely not alone! In an October 2011 blog post, “get a response from Tenley Albright” was #1 on my list of “22 Things I Haven’t Done.”

Lo and behold, I eventually did get a response (her wonderful daughter Elee found my blog and communicated with me and facilitated a response) but that blog, and the power of social media, coalesced into this moment on July 19, 2014:

Tenley Albright

Meeting Tenley Albright at the Skating Club of Boston/”My Name is Tenley” Party

Eight days later, it is still difficult to talk about this evening without gushing. About how well organized the event was. About how gracious Tenley Albright and her daughters were (this picture was taken almost as soon as we walked in … she agreed to as many private pictures as we wanted to take, and a professional photographer took a picture of Tenley Albright with each of the 66 Tenleys present). About the relief for this prosopagnosic of everyone being named the same thing. About ice skating (yes these two Floridians laced up!).

ice skating

About the ice skating demonstration, including a young Tenley (Rutledge). About the video, the dinner, the testimonials almost every Tenley gave about living with the name (apparently I need to visit a certain well-named watering hole in DC next time I’m there!). About the utter classiness of the event (classy yet welcoming). (For the Boston Globe article about the event, click here.)

tenley photo session

(My shot from afar of the Albright/Kiger photo moment.)

Right before the picture of Tenley Albright and me was taken I tried to stumble through the “I read a book about you in 4th grade and that’s what inspired me to name my daughter after you” story. What my statement lacked in finesse, I know it made up for in sincere gratitude.

Tenley Albright is an individual with many accomplishments, including overcoming polio, winning an Olympic Silver Medal (1952), winning an Olympic Gold Medal (1956), becoming a physician, raising three daughters, and (currently) directing the MIT Collaborative Initiatives. All of those things are very, very big deals, and make me happy that I named my daughter after someone so successful.

But after spending an evening with her (and the 66 other Tenleys), there is something much more basic that speaks to me. As I wrote that evening before turning in for the night, she demonstrates grace, tenacity, and humor.

And she was real and kind.

Those are the kinds of attributes that blaze even brighter than the Olympic flame.

I am grateful.

Assembling all the Tenleys for a group photo (note each one has a flower in her hair!).

Assembling all the Tenleys for a group photo (note each one has a flower in her hair!).

***Lastly, this blog is about my experience. Ultimately this was intended to be for my Tenley. And although she shared with me many of her impressions, and the conversation she had with Tenley Albright during their private moment together, I can’t speak for her. Her story is hers to share if and when she wants to.

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Always Ripe (A #MandelaDay Post)

NMF-MandelaDay-Logo-INT-Colour-NEG

On Friday, July 18, people around the world shared their favorite Nelson Mandela quotes on the occasion of the sixth “Mandela Day” and the first since his death in December 2013. For more information about Mandela Day, please visit this link.

To see my quote, view the following brief video:

According to the Mandela Day website, Nelson Mandela followed three rules throughout his life:

  1. Free yourself.
  2. Free others.
  3. Serve every day.

July 18 is the “official” day. That leaves 364 others in which we can each “serve every day.” Is there a cause calling your name? Tapping at your conscience? Enticing you to contribute your energy?

The time is ripe to do right.  

2014-07-14 15.36.49

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“Pronouns Matter” and Other Favorite Quotes

Mama’s Losin’ It
Since I was undecided regarding what to blog about today, I checked my “drafts” folder and decided to tackle one of the 23 “posts-to-be” that had never seen the light of day. The oldest one is the list of Mama Kat prompts for the week of April 11, 2013. One of the prompts is “list 6 of your favorite quotes.” Seems like a timeless one to me, so here goes.

 Six Favorite Quotes

Pronouns Matter. ~ Me

I have been a user of the #bringbackourgirls hashtag, signifying my strong belief that the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls should be returned immediately to their families. What I am having trouble reconciling, though, is the thought in my head that if the reaction (of some) to the current influx of Central American children across our borders were to have its own hashtag, it would be #sendbacktheirgirls. I know these are two very different situations. Each one is complex and presents components that are extremely difficult for outside governments to intervene in. As I said in Cindy Levin’s post:

“Although I like the hashtag #bringbackourgirls (and use it daily), I have to honestly ask if we would consider these girls “our” girls when it was the basic matter of helping them get access to education (and health care, and parity, among other things) were it not for this crisis? We can all do better, not just when there is an immediate crisis but when there is a long term smoldering one as well. And for every girl, everywhere.” 

It seems that with these Central American children we have found ourselves dealing with the effects of a long term smoldering crisis. I suspect part of the difference is that the Nigerian girls are an ocean away and the Central American girls (and boys…) are on our territory. I just don’t understand how the Nigerian girls can be “ours” while the Central American girls are “theirs.”

2014-07-02 09.44.19

A day I ran for “Saraya,” one of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls.

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~ Epictetus

So many inspiring quotes flow through my social media stream every day. Many of them give me a momentary spark of “yeah!” “so true!” “you only get one shot!” I have struggled, however, with the truth of those sentiments in the face of the reality of my obligations and choices I made decades ago which made it harder to truly “follow my bliss.” I guess the part of this that sticks the most is “say to yourself what you would be.” Without clarity about the eventual goal (what you would be), it’s possible you’ll waste a lot of time along the way expending your energies for things that don’t matter.

Only 3% of people have written goals; the other 97% work for them (paraphrase) ~ Brian Tracy

Hmm…. the value of including this favorite quote was being honest with myself about the fact that I have not listed my goals for this year. Problem solved. The “sub 30 5K” goal is a perennial. I am not giving up.

2014 goals

2014 Goals

The map is not the territory. ~ Alfred Korzybski

I love this one, and it is in the same family of concepts (to me) as the Epictetus quote. This quote seemed relevant to my work as an administrator at a program subject to many different agency rule sets, some state, some federal. You may have a single-spaced 40-page technical guidance document holding you to what font size to use, what match rate to apply, what literacy level to write your materials to, but are you doing the task you set out to do? (which in our case was insuring uninsured children). It also applies in a more broad context to life; are we so busy ticking off mile markers that we don’t realize that the town we originally set out to visit is now deserted?

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. ~ Rumi

A wise therapist gave me an assignment once to “check out whatever instantly appeals to you at the library and go away for a weekend and immerse yourself.” The only books I remember checking out were a childbirth book and a family relationships book. I wonder what I would check out on a similar assignment now, decades later. I know I love social media, and I know people I trust in the industry have advised me not to do it for a living. The appeal of social media (and the beauty of it) is the ability to write and communicate visually, along with “connecting the dots” of people who would not otherwise come into each others’ lives.

“Every problem has a solution.”

This quote is from the movie Philadelphia. Besides the obvious truth of the quote (even though solutions often seem elusive), the movie holds special meaning for me. Wayne and I saw it shortly after his sister Ann died, and it seemed to tap into some deep emotional crevasse that had already been pried open.

Ultimately, “every problem has a solution” ties into my #1 (“pronouns matter”). Some problems in our world seem to only have solutions riddle with imperfections that take those solutions out of contention. I think, however, we must not give up trying, for “our” girls, “their” girls …. for all girls.

What is one of your favorite quotes?

 

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A Slurpee-Free #7QT

— 1 —

slurpee

I don’t even like slurpees that much (it would be one more thing to report on LoseIt) and face my coach’s nitpicking. I give her plenty of material about which to nitpick (case in point: a recent comment read “you could have had three cups of broccoli for the calories you spent on that rice pilaf”). But I do love the tie-in of today’s date (7/11) with the fact that 7-Eleven stores are giving out free slurpees today. There is no shortage of sadness in Tallahassee that the nearest 7/11 is in Jacksonville (2.5 hours away).

— 2 —

Control A good male friend is going through a tough time emotionally, following the breakup of a relationship. One of the topics we came around to when discussing root causes was the perception some women have had that he has a need to control things. And compassionately I say, as a platonic friend, they have a point. When I dipped my toe in the waters of bringing this up today, the logical next question was “how do I change it?” I guess the good news is that awareness is the first step. The bad news is that the second step isn’t clear nor is it easy. Maybe part of the truth lies in the fact that at 55 and not having been married, maybe he can choose to not change a thing. But to be in a marriage or long-term relationship, he needs to learn to see things as these woman have seen them. This is going to be a tough nut to crack. Walnuts

— 3 —

Four have become five. My father-in-law moved in with us in early June, after a hospitalization during which it became clear he was incapable of continuing to live on his own. This is one of those situations that, if I were not personally in the middle of it, I could see being fantastic blog material, full of observations ranging from the profound to the mundane, with a filament of love woven throughout. But I haven’t figured out how to discuss it without messing with his dignity and, frankly, I feel way too close to the situation to make any perspective-filled observations (yet).

— 4 —

Is it July 18 yet? My daughter and I will be traveling to Boston on July 18. She has been invited to a gathering of “the Tenleys, an event put together for people named Tenley (I think they’re all females) to meet the woman we all consider the original Tenley, Tenley Albright. I’d be lying if I didn’t say this is literally a dream come true.

— 5 —

Is it July 21 yet? I suppose the answer to this is “no,” since the answer to question #4 is “no,” but besides the excitement of the Boston trip, we will be heading to New York City after Boston (with a stop in Connecticut in between). We will be doing Tea at the Plaza, something neither of us has ever done, and I can’t wait!

plaza

— 6 —

More Than Miles. Tomorrow I will be running a 4.5 mile trail race. The trail is called the “Swamp Forest Trail” and it has rained a good bit today, so the “swamp” part will be assured! Tomorrow also marks the 1 year anniversary of my match with Gareth, a young man who has MCAD, a mitochondrial disorder. We were matched through I Run for Michael. Why does it matter that an almost-50-year-old back of the pack runner dedicates her miles to a child hundreds of miles away? For me, as a mom, it matters to support another mom (and dad) whose child faces such difficult challenges. It matters to support a young man who, despite the challenges of his MCAD, still gives back to others (he has coordinated a “Get Up and Go for Mito” walk the last two years. The group has many more runners than it does children to whom miles can be dedicated. If you know a child / individual who wants a runner, click here for more info.

IR 4 Gareth Cropped

— 7 —

Christopher has support! The last time I participated in #7QT, I wrote about Christopher, a little boy in El Salvador who I was asked to discuss in my blog as his family hoped to get a sponsor from Unbound for him. I just learned that he has been sponsored! I am so happy to hear this. Would also love your prayers as I will be volunteering at Good Shepherd Catholic Church here in Tallahassee this weekend as an Unbound priest discusses the program and shares information about sponsorship. It is always exciting to see people start their sponsorship journey (and to talk with people who have been sponsoring for a while already). Having the opportunity to go to El Salvador in June and see the program in action helps me visualize the program’s operations clearly and I am grateful for that trip.

The #BlogUnbound Team

The #BlogUnbound Team

 For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

(I am also pleased to link this post up to Faith Along The Way’s Saturday Soiree.)

photo by:
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Ashley Judd: Choosing To Make A Difference

All That is Bitter and Sweet by Ashley Judd (with Maryanne Vollers) really could be two different books: one about Ashley Judd’s work with Population Services International (PSI) and another about her personal journey to recovery.

bitter sweet

It is the fact that one book intersperses both things, the volunteer work and the recovery, though, that gives it its depths.

In summarizing the takeaways of the book, I feel led to talk about Ashley’s work with PSI rather than focus on the personal history that is infused throughout. Ashley recounts a volatile upbringing, one that would threaten any girl’s sense of stability and disrupt the path to a healthy adulthood. Ultimately, Ashley concludes that people can change and grow; people can overcome difficult upbringings (especially with the pursuit of professional therapy); families are messy. Aside from birth families, embracing families “of choice” can give us the nurturing we need.

Ashley in India. Courtesy: www.psi.org

Ashley in India.
Courtesy: www.psi.org

As someone who loves dabbling in the acting world (in a very very minor way), I enjoyed hearing about Ashley’s acting experiences and I have tremendous respect for her accomplishments in the performance world. It is the fact that she has utilized that success as a platform for her humanitarian causes as a celebrity ambassador for PSI that most engenders my respect.

Ashley Works With Orphans Source: www.ashleyjudd.com

Ashley Works With Orphans
Source: www.ashleyjudd.com

Ashley says early on, in reference to her beloved pets, “my animal companions give me the gift of needing my love–and I have love in abundance.” She struggles the first time she goes on an ambassador trip with PSI (to Phnom Penh to address the AIDS epidemic). She struggles in the sense that she becomes profoundly physically ill, having absorbed so much poverty, tragedy, inequity, and pain.

Ashley Meets Desmond Tutu

Ashley Meets Desmond Tutu

Ashley’s progress from the curled-up, sick-with-the-agony-of-it-all woman on a bathroom floor in Cambodia through a woman in recovery with the ability to find some equilibrium was touched throughout by the power of yoga. I have been a Seane Corn fan for a few years now, so Seane’s role in Ashley’s life intrigued me (and did not at all surprise me).

While in India for a YouthAIDS trip with actress Ashley Judd, Seane Corn poses in the Eka Pada Koundiyanasana position in front of the Taj Mahal. (photo: courtesy of Seane Corn)

While in India for a YouthAIDS trip with actress Ashley Judd, Seane Corn poses in the Eka Pada Koundiyanasana position in front of the Taj Mahal. (photo: courtesy of Seane Corn)

As moved as I was by the stories I read of Ashley’s work in Thailand, Cambodia, Republic of the Congo, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, and South Africa, I saw in her writing the faces I have seen in Guatemala. (Ashley traveled to Guatemala to represent PSI in a campaign for condom usage and AIDS prevention; it is very hard to crack certain long held beliefs in this country and therefore keep people, especially women and unborn babies, protected from AIDS.) I took a screenshot of the page where she talks about her conversation with Melchor, a Guatemalan man who had contracted HIV. Ashley asked Melchor what she should tell the Guatemalan president in the next day’s meeting. Ashley said Melchor “spoke with vigor about the urgent need for sex education at home and in schools.” She want on to say, “His spiel was as articulate as any printed NGO material I’d ever seen.” That’s the thing. These people are so articulate in their own right. It mystifies me that our world still makes it more powerful for a movie actress to advocate than for a poor man. Don’t get me wrong; I am grateful that Ashley spends her time this way. I just wish marginalized people did not have to fight so very hard to simply subsist, much less to thrive.

Ashley has clawed her way out of some dismally dark emotional places in order to strengthen herself to visit some of the world’s physically darkest places. By doing so she brings light to the devastation wrought by the triad of poverty, illness, and gender inequality. The light emanates from a God who goes by many different names and manifests him/herself in our words and actions.

Ashley Judd discusses women's health issues at George Washington University.

Ashley Judd discusses women’s health issues at George Washington University.

I put this book down inspired by Ashley’s choices and confident that PSI’s work is making a difference. I am confident you will find the same if you choose to read it.

For more information about PSI:

Visit this site: www.psi.org

Visit them on Facebook by clicking here.

Visit them on Twitter by clicking here.

PSI

*I received a complimentary copy of All That is Bitter and Sweet for review purposes. The opinions here are my own.

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#RunChatHunt – I Need A Gnome!

Besides the great prizes*, why should you do a running scavenger hunt? The RunChat scavenger hunt, sponsored by Energy Bits, is a prompt to look a little differently (and more thoroughly) at the world around us as we run. That was certainly the case for me with the original hunt as well as the 2013 Holiday Hunt.

Here’s the list for this hunt (ends July 5, 2014). You earn one entry an image from each of the ten categories (must be tweeted with the hashtag #runchathunt):

Trail path (or evidence of running on a trail). Here’s mine:

The Plantation at St. George Island

The Plantation at St. George Island

Funny road/store/church sign. Mine isn’t that funny, I know, but it puts my mind on “beach mode” which makes me happy so we’ll go with it!

Parrotdise? Yeah, I'll run for that!

Parrotdise? Yeah, I’ll run for that!

Dog (yours or someone else running with one). I encountered this guy when the hunt had first started:

Canine Company on an early run...

Canine Company on an early run…

Someone fishing. This is actually not the one I originally submitted to RunChat but I love this pic of my brother-in-law fishing so here it is!

2014-06-20 18.42.32

St. George Island, June 2014

Sunrise or sunset. Here’s mine!

Sunrises make these morning runs worth the effort.

Sunrises make these morning runs worth the effort.

Farm equipment. I’m sure a lot of people found farm equipment, but I wonder if anyone else got a farm equipment mailbox. Thank you, North Florida!

runchathunt farm equipment

Road kill.

I think I may be on the RunChat “exclude” list after lobbying so hard for this one. But honestly, aren’t we runners candid with each other about every part of running, from bloody nipples to other issues that would normally be private? Thanks RunChat (and voters!) for including this. I’m done.

(In case you’re squeamish, I am not showing the image directly. If you have a tough constitution, here’s the link to the image.)

A great local dive bar. Another souvenir of our week at St. George Island:

A perfect place to hydrate after a run!

A perfect place to hydrate after a run!

Pay phone. Definitely the next-to-hardest thing to find! I finally located one:

1-800-FOR-ARUN

1-800-FOR-ARUN

Gnome.

Ah, the elusive gnome. I have a friend who owns a gnome so I may have to schedule a run on her side of town but I keep hoping to find one by chance. If you’re in Tallahassee and have any suggestions, send ‘em my way!

I probably won’t be lucky enough to find one this entertaining but check it out:

Source: Artistic-garden.com

Source: Artistic-garden.com

You can also get an entry by submitting a Vine or Instagram video incorporating two of the #RunChatHunt items. I shot one yesterday but I’m not happy with it so tick tock I have to get on it!

Lastly, you can get an entry for a blog post (like this!).

The contest lasts through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on July 5, 2014. That’s plenty of time to hunt down a pay phone, take in a sunrise, or track down some farm equipment. Might as well … you’ll be running anyhow, right?

runchat logo

*Prizes include an Energy Bits prize pack, Altra shoes, Hylands Leg Cramps Products, a HeadSweats gift card, a 4-pack of KT Tape, a pair of socks or sleeves from Pro Compression, and a Road ID gift card.

 

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7 Quick Takes – My World for a Wheelchair and Other Observations

I don’t usually blog on Fridays, but when I saw the “7 Quick Takes” format on Filling My Prayer Closet, I thought I’d give it a try!

1 – My World for a Wheelchair

Twice this week, I have had the responsibility for taking my father-in-law to the hospital for diagnostics followed by a neurosurgeon appointment. Our hospital has an awesome (and affordable!) valet service, but the “valet service unit” and the “wheelchair unit” are completely disconnected from one another. Wednesday, after the valet said it usually takes 30 minutes to get a wheelchair, I was trying to walk my father in law in when it became clear that he could not continue; fortunately another patient got me a wheelchair. Today, the valet staff said they would call one for me. It “only” took 14 minutes this time but, honestly why is it so difficult?

2 – I Am The Parent of an Adult

My daughter, Tenley, turned 18 yesterday. EIGHTEEN! With all the emotion that brings up, I have to admit I kind of love it that one of the touches she liked the most about the day was the “Frozen” balloon I had put in her car to surprise her when she left for work.

2014-06-25 19.53.07

3 – SUP Boarding Rocks

I read in Jennifer’s post that she is going to have an opportunity to do SUP Boarding soon. I had an opportunity to do it while I was at the beach last week and it was so much fun (and, surprisingly, quite the upper body and stability workout!).

All in the family ... staying afloat (mostly!)

All in the family … staying afloat (mostly!)

4 – Cycling Sure Would Be Fun

Even though my bicycle on vacation was a basic non-descript getting-around-the-beach bicycle, I was reminded of how much fun cycling is. I have always said I’ll wait and add on another sport once I reach my running goal of breaking 30:00 in a 5K but that’s taking quite a while, so I may need to sneak some cycling into my life pretty soon, not just when on vacation.

5 – My Heart Had Left My Job Long Before My Body Did

I left my job on May 2, 2014. When I had to return to the office earlier this week to drop off some paperwork, it was difficult to walk into the building. But not difficult in a sentimental way. Difficult in a “how did I simultaneously separate my mind and heart from this place while I kept coming day after day?” Now on to pursue that legacy I want to leave my kids.

6 – What Else Can I Do For Silvia and Christopher?

After my Unbound Blogger Trip to El Salvador in early June, I was asked to share details about Silvia, an adult with special needs including epilepsy, and Christopher, an adorable 3 year old, two individuals who would benefit from sponsorship through Unbound. I am searching for ways to expand the reach of my blog post. Does anyone have feedback about other methods I could employ to get the word out? (And even if you don’t have feedback, prayers would be mighty appreciated!)

Silvia, Age 21

Silvia, Age 21

Christopher, Age 4

Christopher, Age 4

***UPDATE*** Silvia has been sponsored (as of 7/2/14). I am so happy to hear this and grateful to whoever sponsored her!  ******

7 – Give As Much Praise As Complaint

After reading Laura Petrolino’s blog post about customer service the other day, I shared it on Facebook along with the suggestion that people should make sure and commend the good at least as often as they condemn the bad. Even in the midst of the wheelchair-challenged day (see #1), I encountered moments of professionalism and compassion, such as the other patient who found a wheelchair for me and the staff member (Delvin) who stayed with my father in law until I could bring the car around. Literally, each one was a godsend!

St. George Island, FL June 2014

St. George Island, FL
June 2014

 

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Unbound Sponsorship: Lifting The Pebbles

When I saw this Hopi proverb on Twitter recently, it immediately evoked memories of the time I spent earlier this month in El Salvador on the Unbound Blogger Trip.  Of mothers and fathers who, because of Unbound sponsorship, knew that their child could go to school. Of mothers who held one another accountable in “solidarity groups,” where women learned skills that would help them support their children. Of aging people such as blogger Ali Ebright’s sponsored individual, Josefa, who can now be assured of sufficient food, adequate shelter, and community support.

Christopher and Silvia both live in El Salvador, and need to be lifted up by the support of Unbound sponsorship.

unbound three

Christopher, Age 4

Christopher has been waiting for Unbound sponsorship since June 2013. His mother and father both work very hard to provide for him, but their incomes are not consistent enough to ensure that he receives the benefits sponsorship can give, such as nutrition, health, clothing, and (when he is old enough) education.

Silvia, Age 21

Silvia, Age 22

Silvia is a 22 year old woman with special needs (she has had epilepsy since birth). She was sponsored for three years but her sponsor left the program. [Note: she has continued to receive her benefits through a contingency fund but she would thrive off of a relationship with a sponsor.] She lives in a 7-person home; this family subsists on $60.00 a month. She loves to play with toy cars. I would love to know she can get the most basic needs of food, health, and shelter met.

Sponsorship demonstrates Christ’s presence.

I recently read an article written by Rev. Kyle Smith, who is preparing to be a priest. He talked about how, when he elevates the chalice, “My thought and prayer … is … ‘Wow, who am I to be this close to Christ present in the Eucharist?’” He goes on to look forward to his priesthood, and “how more powerful an experience it will be to say the words that call down the Holy Spirit and make Christ present.” In my experience as a sponsor, and in every interaction I had during the Unbound Blogger trip, Christ was made present in tangible, daily ways even though we were not in a formal place of worship.

Christopher and Silvia are like the Hopi’s pebble … it is going to take more than one “finger” to lift them. They need their families; they need (and have) a God who loves them. Ultimately, they need someone to help lift them through the support of sponsorship.

For more information on sponsoring Christopher or Silvia (a $30 a month commitment), please visit this link. If you are not prepared to sponsor right now, please know that your prayers are powerful, as is your willingness to share information about the work of Unbound among people you know.

***UPDATE*** Silvia has been sponsored (as of 7/2/14). I am so happy to hear this and grateful to whoever sponsored her! If you are interested in sponsoring someone else, please follow this link. ***

It is not just Christopher or Silvia who will be lifted by Unbound sponsorship. Whoever sponsors them will also discover their heart soaring to new heights.

One of our sponsored children, Stanley, who lives in El Salvador.

One of our sponsored children, Stanley, who lives in El Salvador.

unbound one

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Milaap: Self Reliance Through Entrepreneurship

“Poverty-stricken” is a term many of us use to describe people who do not have enough resources to survive. Milaap helps poverty-stricken people in India increase self reliance through a microloan program. I am especially fond of the “Hope Project,” which helps former devadasis (the devadasi system started as female dancers and courtesans in Hindu temples but in modern times has resulted in women being stuck in a cycle of prostitution). This is where I would argue that poverty hasn’t struck but rather it has pervaded generations of society and entrapped these women within subterranean roots of illiteracy, maltreatment, and single parenthood (in many cases) that will not release their grip and allow their self reliance to flourish.

Milaap’s microloan system is explained very thoroughly here.

Milaap gives hope to women like Kasturi.

Kasturi Avale

Kasturi Avale

One of my first Milaap loans of $25 was to Kasturi Avale and two other former devadasi women who obtained a loan of Rs.60,000 (about $1,000) to expand their buffalo rearing businesses. The efforts of Kasturi and her peers will give more women the opportunity to break free of a system that has been unjust to women for centuries.

You can help Milaap give hope.

For four years, Milaap has been doing this life-changing work. In addition to wishing them a happy birthday, I want to share with you how you can get involved and invite you to share this effective, transparent, reliable model with others.

For you more visual learners, here’s the Milaap story in a quick infographic:

 photo milaapinfographic_zps34fc176a.jpg

For information on Milaap in general, visit this link.  For information about the project that is targeted to former Devadasis (the Hope Project), visit this link.

If my explanation was so crystal clear and compelling that you feel ready to give, visit my personal link here. (I have a goal of $250; loans of any amount, starting at $25, are gratefully accepted and will be directed to the Hope project and former devadasis!).

Before agreeing to be a Milaap “Champion of Hope,” I asked myself if I was diluting my commitments to other organizations who do similar microloan projects. Ultimately, I decided that people have differing and very personal reasons for choosing the causes to which they commit, and Milaap deserves an opportunity to share space on my blog and in my heart. Rest assured if you hear about a cause from me in this space, it is one I endorse wholeheartedly.

For women like this ...

For women like this …

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Fathers Who “Didn’t Go” And Why I Am Grateful

June 15, 2014. Today is Father’s Day. Among my friends and family, there are many fathers. Three (my father-in-law, my dad, and my husband) are particularly central to my life.

In addition to Father’s Day, it is also the 85th birthday of my father-in-law, Wayne W. Kiger. Happy Birthday, Dad!

With Wayne Kevin after his football game (October 2010)

With Wayne Kevin after his football game (October 2010)

Happy Father’s Day to my dad, Seabie Rucker:

My dad, Seabie Rucker, with Wayne Kevin, My Mom (Letha), and Tenley. July 2013

My dad, Seabie Rucker, with Wayne Kevin, My Mom (Letha), and Tenley. July 2013

And last but not least, to my husband, Wayne:

Tenley, Me, Wayne, Wayne Kevin June 2013

Tenley, Me, Wayne, Wayne Kevin June 2013
Photo Credit: Royce Rolstad Photography

None of these three fathers would be typically described as “overtly demonstrative” or “wordy.” But the older I grow and the more life experience I acquire, I am increasingly growing to believe that unconditional love manifests itself in many ways, some of which are quieter and more subtle. It especially manifests itself by staying around and being, as did the dad in this reading (it’s quick and good – read it!), the kind of dad about whom a child can say “you didn’t go.”

Thank you, each one, for not going.

15 june fathers day 2014 date

 

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