Why I Run: Refugees from Nineveh

The story of Jonah changed dramatically when I left Sunday school. The focus shifted from a quaint little story about running away from God to a social commentary on Jonah’s racism. For a while, I actually called him “Jonah the Jerk.” Probably not a wise move on my part.

But one author’s commentary on Jonah’s story has stuck with me for years. When Jonah decided to run away from Ninevah and away from God, the city he decided on was on the edge of the known world at the time. It was considered paradise by many.

Funny. In order to get away from God, Jonah ran to paradise.

God was in Ninevah. A place of filth. The home of Jonah’s enemies.

I always find this comforting when I have to look evil in the face. Unfortunately, if you’re awake, that’s pretty often. There are so many places that are living hell on earth. I think hell is real. I think we ignore it when we turn off the news.

For many, Burma is hell. Burma is also home. How can you make these things cooperate?

Prepare yourself. This is what is happening in our world. http://roadofresistance.com/the-road/

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Discover your soul?

Day one. Complete.

Venture’s tag line is “Benefit the World, Discover your Soul.”

As a girl that has studied marketing and public relations, I thought about this phrase through that framework. There is symmetry, flow, and inspiration communicated boldly and smoothly in six words. Whoever thought of it was on their A-game from a communications standpoint.

But, what I am realizing more than ever before, is that it’s way more than that. Discover. To find something in the course of searching. To become aware of. My soul?

Through prayer, conversations with the team, and reflection on scripture and our daily devotional, I am seeing this world and my place in it in such a new perspective. I understand that it is important to seek God to learn more about who He is and who He created you to be, but our devotional added another dimension:

We tend to think understanding ourselves and understanding God are enough. But if that understanding, or process of understanding, does not intersect today it is only philosophy or dead religion. Bringing the intersection of who you are and who God is into the present is the greatest gift you can give to the world.

I’m still processing that. Probably will take me a while.

Everything went well today, but please continue to keep the injustice happening in SE Asia and the team in prayer as we move forward tomorrow. I believe firmly in the power of prayer and I am so grateful for all your support thus far. Let’s continue to fight for the Kingdom of God together!

-danielle.

My Impossible Mountain: Base Camp

Friday, June 21, 2:00pm

I am sitting in a van with four other girls, Paul, and his dad Jim.

This is the eve of my first long-distance, endurance adventure. May the odds be ever in our favor.

Mountains don’t always cast overwhelming shadows. Sitting at their base, I usually study their sloped sides, mindlessly pondering the details of each perceived switchback. I’m not usually intimidated – I can’t comprehend enough to be intimidated. At least not at first. Continue reading

“What are We Doing?!”

I’m not even sure how to wrap my head around this, but tomorrow we leave for the border. I’m sitting in Dani’s apartment about to go to sleep after a long day of driving to Saint Cloud, picking up last minute things, and going for a run.

I don’t know how many times today Dani and I have said, “What are we doing?!” I thought that by now we would have come to terms with this, but it still seems as crazy as the day we signed up.

The last couple months I’ve had terrible shin splints. I’ve gone to the doctor, bought different things to try and help it, and had the pleasure to endure many ice baths. Because of this I haven’t been able to run long distance. There was a point where I honestly thought I wasn’t going to be able to run. But then I realized something.

God doesn’t want me to rely on anything other than Him for this run and that’s exactly what I have to do. Yes, the ice baths and stretches help, but the only way that I’m going to get through this is with His strength. I’ve never been so vulnerable and completely dependent on the Lord like I am right now. I desperately need Him for every single mile of this 200-mile journey. When I finish this run I will proudly say that it was because of the Lord’s strength alone that I was able to do this.

His power is made perfect in my weakness.

-Nicole

whirlwind of emotion.

I was in 8th grade and it was Valley Fair day, a day I looked forward to all year. Especially this year – it was Steel Venom’s debut season. The single twist, u-shaped roller coaster launches its passengers upwards at 68 miles per hour then back the 175 feet towards the ground at the same speed. Exhilarating.

I was stoked. I love thrill rides. The talk around the Jr. High the weeks leading up to the trip was all about who was brave enough to take on the new ride.

I was confident in my courage; of course I was going to ride it! And I knew I would love it. My confidence carried me to the parking lot and my excitement rose as I saw the new ride on the edge of the park.  Continue reading

This is just a dollar bill. But it is more than a dollar bill.

photoThis is a dollar bill.

Obviously.

We’ve all seen one. We’ve all held one. We’ve all spent one.

They can’t really get you very much…a candy bar or a box of mac-n-cheese.

Sometimes, though, the idea of a dollar evokes a sentiment. For me, it reminds me of my dad, who promised me one as motivation to overcome my fear of “dunking” in the pool when I was little. Maybe it evokes a special memory for you, too.

It is still just a dollar bill though; a piece of tattered paper with green ink.

But, it’s more than a dollar. Continue reading

Spread the Word!

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The Run Free story is being shared with thousands in and around the St. Cloud area today!! A huge spread in the St. Cloud Times (online version) was devoted to sharing about the issue the Karen are facing on the Thailand/Burma border and how we are following God’s leading to run with Venture this summer.

Only Jesus. Would you pray that this huge opportunity would make an impact in the area. That our community would rally together to fight this injustice. Let an awareness of this issue stir our community in such a way that our hearts would be changed from saying , “good for you” to “how can I help?”

-Danielle.

PS If you want to support the cause financially, visit this donation page and select one of our names from the drop down participant list!

It doesn’t seem Real

I am way overdue for writing a blog post so I apologize. To update you on what’s been going on these past couple months, my life has consisted of homework, running, and more homework. I feel a lot like this guy right now:

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I laughed for about five minutes the first time I saw this picture. I promise I don’t look like that though.

Along with the busy school schedule, our venture journey has been keeping us busy as well. A couple of weeks ago we were interviewed by the Saint Cloud Times. We were able to talk about the cause and different things concerning the run. It was so cool to share with a complete stranger what God is doing in all of our lives.

Last week we met with the photographer for the paper and had a mini photo shoot. We’re getting close to the start of our tour across MN but like us girls were saying while we were taking pictures, “it doesn’t seem real“. You would think that with school ending, weather warming up, more events about the run happening, and all of our training that we’d feel the reality of this, but we don’t. Maybe that’s how you feel when you commit to something this crazy?

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Struggles. That word is unfortunately so familiar to all of us right now. But even as I think of what to write, I’m convicted thinking that anything we’re going through right now is even close to the struggles the people we’re fighting for in SE Asia are going through. I don’t have to fear for my life, fight deadly diseases without medical help, or wonder where my next meal is coming from. It makes these running injuries and financial “struggles” seem like nothing. If all it takes is for me to give some of my time and effort in order for others to simply live, I’m in.

I’m going to be speaking at my church in a couple weeks so prayers for that would be appreciated. Partly for my huge fear of public speaking but mostly for the people who are going to hear me speak. I want God to use me to change their hearts. I want people to hunger for justice and not just sit and listen but get up and do something about it. I want to become nothing through this experience so God can become everything and do some crazy work with and through the people in that audience. I really believe he will.

I begin round two of physical therapy next Monday- this time for my ankles/shins. I’ve concluded that after this journey is over, I will have spent enough time there to be considered a physical therapist myself. Who needs schooling when you have experience, right?

-Nicole

Woah – radio?

RadioWoah! I had an INCREDIBLE opportunity to share about Venture last week. After the Rotary meeting earlier this month, the General Manager of Leighton Broadcasting invited me to share on the radio. To be honest, I thought he was joking and that it would never actually happen. Seriously, who I am that I would have this opportunity to share about Jesus on a secular radio station for 45 minutes?

Then I got an email from Bob Hughes, an on-air personality at KNSI and remembered I serve a God of the impossible. It’s not about my qualifications and connections; it’s about obedience to God and allowing Him to work through me. Before I knew it I found myself in the studio with a giant mic right in front of me, telling the listening community a story of five college girls committing to an adventure bigger than themselves; an adventure to bring justice to an oppressed people group in SE Asia.

Not only did I get to share about RunFree and Just+Hope, I was able to share my personal story. I was pointedly asked why I was different from so many other 26-year olds  - you don’t really see many single, female college pastors doing something like this – my response: five years ago I realized I was unconditionally loved by God. When you experience that, how can you not be changed; how can you not be different?

This run is definitely about justice, but even more it’s about a response to the gospel. It’s a response to the sacrifice Jesus willingly endured for us. It’s about being willing to sacrifice daily in order for others to know the love, grace, and mercy of God.

-Danielle.

P.S. Keep an eye in the St. Cloud Times for an article on the run!