Tips for Surviving the Heat


It's that time of year. The season of shiid (pronounced like sheet) dresses, sports bras, and top buns. In the US many people are starting to thaw out from the winter snow or if you are from my part of the US, you may be nearing the infamous tornado season. So many days spent hunkering down in closets, sleeping with an emergency bag next to bed and always making sure I had a pair of running shoes ready to slip on. You may find this a little much, but once you actually survive a tornado and see your entire house, belongings, neighborhood, and school blown away by nature, then it's really not that crazy.

So what is Spring in our part of Africa? Well first off, Spring is nonexistent, and so is winter and fall. It's Summer all year round here and we have three seasons: hot, humid-hot, and dry-dusty hot. Depending on your preference for humidity there is a debate on whether the humid-hot or dry-dusty hot is worse. I HATE humidity, so I will also choose those months as the worst. So here's  a breakdown of the year:

January - March - hot, but totally bearable without a/c
March - May/June - hot and humid (imagine yourself living in a sauna or a hot yoga room)
June-August - hot and windy and dryish (imagine yourself living in the exhaust of an airplane)
September - aaaaaand back to humid (again sauna)
October-December - the humidity begins to fade into the more comfortable heat

So needless to say the transition in April is always a rough one. You have to drink more water, watch your hours outside in the sun, and check your attitude because heat makes us all a little cray-cray!

So here are my tips for surviving the heat both physically and mentally:


1. Hibiscus Tea

Did you know that hibiscus tea actually cools your body? Crazy right, but whatever works! But if you are pregnant, DO NOT drink this. So I make a big 'ol pitcher of it and leave it in the fridge. When I'm super hot or just come in from outside I grab a glass and drink away. Plus I used Starbucks for a little inspiration and made my own version of the Pink Drink:

1. Hibiscus Tea (whatever form you have, I've been using leftover via packets, but you can get the tea in tea bags at the store)
2. Brew or mix with water
3. Add coconut milk
4. Add a sweetener (unless it's a via packet because it's already in there)
5. Chill and drink!


2. Invest in some quick dry underwear

Yeah, I know sounds weird, but seriously the best thing my husband and I ever did. Before, I was changing underwear like 3-4 times a day (because wet underwear is gross y'all). And my husband had these amazing quick dry briefs from Exofficio and was totally good. So that summer, I ordered as many as I could find in my size on amazon. Plus you save on laundry.


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3. Get you some anti-chaffing techniques

So maybe this quote doesn't resonate with you, and that's fine, just skip this point. But if it does, here is my favorite trick—Balmex. Yep, diaper cream. But specifically this one. I just rub it between my legs and it stays on even in the sweatiest of days. And if it does come off, I carry a little travel size one around and apply as needed. I tried using biker short type things under my skirts but they would either roll up or roll down or just make me more hot, so a friend suggested Balmex and it has been the best thing so far. 


4. Get that top bun down & a good pair of earrings

Sounds dumb, but perfecting a good top bun is key. When I'm sweating in all the places I want my hair off my neck, but I also don't want to scare people with wild hair, so I finally figured out how to make the top bun work. I added a pair of my favorite earrings and voila! Maybe that top bun isn't your thing, but having a go to hairstyle that you can transition for a nice event and yet still sweat to death has been very helpful in so many situations here. For example, I got invited to a really nice Olympic committee dinner last year. I had a nice dress on, make-up, hair down,  I was so proud of myself. Then I show up and the whole thing is May! Woof. So bam, switch that hair to a top bun and I still look somewhat presentable. I just felt bad for the rest of the attendees because this was their first time in country and they had no idea what hit them...

My earrings of choice
My top bun method


5. Carry a towel

Nothing worse than sweat running off your nose and into everything. The other day I was at the market looking for a shiid dress and sweat kept falling onto their pretty fabrics, can we say embarrassing? So I now carry a small little towel that attaches to my bag and it's perfect for wiping away that pesky face sweat.

The REI mini towel is apparently no longer available but here are a few other similar options:
REI Towels
Amazon Towels


6. A mini fan that plugs into your phone

So I've only needed this a few times, but there have been a couple close calls for both Ezra and myself. The heat gets to be too much or we are inside an stuffy airport with no a/c and I whip this thing out to cool us both off. I actually picked it up at the Texas State Fair, but don't worry I found it on Amazon. 


7. Makes trips to the pool/beach

I mean who doesn't love a day in the water! While it's hot enough to swim year round here, we really try to save our pool visits for the later months. Pools can be very expensive here and the beaches for swimming require some crazy road navigating. Needless to say it's not as convenient  as when I was a child growing up with a pool in the backyard, but it is possible. So on those weekends when life is just too hot and you don't want to have a $1,000 electricity bills, we just go to the pool and cool off in the water.





8. Invest in your mental state

I have so many people ask me how I do it in the heat. Honestly, I hate being hot. I love the cold and will take a rainy day over sun every time. (Unless I'm in Hawaii) But, it's about getting your mental state in order. For me, I just think of it as the easiest diet ever. I know that I'll detox and loose weight by letting my body sweat and get rid of some of those toxins. It's only a couple months out of the year so I tell myself it's for a season and then we are usually traveling during the summer months anyways, so I know I can enjoy a few months in unlimited a/c and cooler conditions.

If you aren't in the physical condition to where you need to loose weight, then this may not work for you. And if that is the case, you have to really take extra caution in watching your calorie intake and how much time you spend exercising. Stay safe, drink water, and if you want to keep up your work-out routine, just run the a/c for a bit or do it first thing in the morning when your room is still nice and cool from the night of a/c. 

One of the most common things I've seen with people experiencing their first humid heat season is they are determined to keep doing their same routine, and get frustrated when it just doesn't happen at the same pace. Life will slow down. You will get tired faster and if you don't drink enough water and eat right you will get sick. People have had migraines, vomiting, stomach issues, etc. It's a real thing, don't pretend your special and exempt from it, but instead lean into it and expect a season of self-care and a slower pace. Take from the locals who have lived here most of their lives. They are slowing down and so should you. 

Okay, so for those who live in hot climates (or Texas) what are your tips for staying cool?

Getting My Life in Order: Part 3, Rest is the New Hustle


I once saw this quote on a lock screen graphic and I instantly fell in love. We often equate success with a lack of rest and hustling with the only way to live. Instead it leaves us tired, burnt out, and cranky. What if we began to work smarter, not harder, and found a way to rest in between. 

Now you have to realize this may mean letting those dishes sit a little bit in the sink or having the laundry pile up for one more day, or even not getting your inbox cleaned out at the end of the day, but isn't our sanity worth it? 

Did you know that by resting our brains at night it allows our brain to properly store all the information we've absorbed throughout the day? That's right. So all those late nights you pulled in college cramming for an exam might have actually been better spent sleeping. That way your brain has a chance to file away the information and you are rested and ready to go. 

So what does rest have to do with organizing and getting things done? A lot. The more you rest the more joyful you feel and the more energy you have smarter, not harder! 

That said, below I've outlined how I choose to rest. While this schedule is VERY tailored to life in Africa you can still apply the principles in your life. 



Find a way to incorporate rest into your daily routine. This can happen a number of ways: exercise, quiet time, or naps (my favorite). The culture I currently live in is a nap culture. From 2-4 business close and people sleep, and I mean sleep. They sleep on the street, under a tree, in their car on the side of the road...wherever they are. And this has been a lifesaver for me. Because the weather is harsh here I find myself so tired from the simplest of tasks. Getting to have a couple hours where I can't do anything lets my body gain strength for the afternoon and evening activities. And it also is why I tend to stay up till midnight working...not sure if that's a good thing yet.


Every week you should find a day where you do nothing buy play. Maybe it's binge watching Netflix or cooking a gourmet meal at home. Maybe it's eating out and letting someone else cook the gourmet meal. Whatever it is, make it happen! And if it's not feasible to take a whole day for fun, then at least try and take a meal or an evening to do something. We usually do one of two things—stay in our pjs all day and cook really good meals or adventure to the mall and get some free a/c. Other things we might do on a weekend are catching up on movies and tv shows, cooking brunch, splurge and have a little sugar, or take a bath instead of a shower.


Every month we take a day to do something fun. While the weekends are for "fun" like Netflix chilling and brunch having, one day a month we do something out of the ordinary. We may visit the pool at the really nice hotel or drive 45 minutes out of town for the only nice playground in the country or even eat out at fancy restaurant. These are the things good for our souls, and we know our budget allows them to only happen once or twice a month so we do it! Other ideas (not applicable in my location) might be to visit a museum, drive to a nature center, or go to the movies. 


This one is your vacation people, or family trip. Whatever you call it. Find a place, save up, and go! It doesn't even have to be far. Maybe it's a staycation at hotel or maybe it's a trip with the extended fam in Colorado. But plan for it, save for it, and do whatever it takes to make it happen. I cannot tell you how many yearly vacations have refreshed me and given me the energy to keep going, especially in really hard seasons. And if money is tight, just remember you have a whole year to save. Try staying out of town at a friend's house or looking at an Air BnB so you can cook your own meals. There are always ways to travel cheap, you just have to be willing to plan ahead.

So that's my advice for finding ways to rest and recharge your soul. What are some of your ways or things that give you rest? Leave a comment below so we can add them to the list!

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Intentionality: My 2017 Plan

Goal Setting. I've always been someone who loves taking time sit down, dream, write, and make a plan to get things done. But there's always been one problem with all that, actually doing it. 

While it looks pretty on paper and I might stick with it for a month maybe even two, it eventually trails off. So this year, I wanted to try something different with goals. And by definition of "goals" these probably won't even qualify, so let's call them something else—my plan for living on purpose.

First off, I highly recommend Lara Casey's blog on goal setting. You may have seen her powersheets on Instagram or book, Making it Happen. I have wanted to do her powersheets for a couple years now, but they are always sold out once I get around to spending my Christmas money. But this year she did a 4 part blog series that helps you work through some of the things she discusses in her book and powersheets. 

So after working through her blog series there were a few things that stood out. The first is that I have one word that came to mind for 2017. I've heard of people choosing a word for the year before, but I never understood how that word actually changed anything. I think this is where Casey's blog series really puts it all together. Instead of just claiming a word I now see how that word needs to play out in certain areas of my life. And I'm laying it all out on the blog so that through my vulnerability I might have some accountability—even if it's only with myself!

So what's my word?


And I want to be intentional in these four areas:

1. Community

2. Health

3. Spirituality

4. Creativity

So what does that mean exactly? Yes, Jess, it looks great when you write out with numbers and have a pretty graphic, but how do you really go about making change? Glad you asked. :)

Let's look at each one of the areas and I'll break down my plan for you. 

1. Community - Since we live in Africa it's imperative that we form community among our team, nationals, and find ways to keep up with friendships back home. I have never been really good at keeping up with people who I don't see on a daily basis, and I hate this. Because I mean, these people have been with my as I stood at the altar promising to love my husband through it all. These are the friends who have witnessed good times and bad times, and when more good times and bad times come, I want to have them standing with again. But I also need a community of people to love in person, here in Africa. So that means being intentional about inviting people over, asking how they are doing, and getting out of my comfort zone and meeting new people with the intention to love. 

2. Health - After having a baby, I'm officially in the worst health of my life. Understand me, I don't just mean weight, though that plays a big part. I have no muscle tone, food allergies, thyroid problems, and too many cravings. I want to get back to the person who use to crave work-outs, eat healthy, and fit into something other than maternity pants. :) But for real, as I was working through this plan on paper, something occurred to me. And while this may seem like a no-brainer to others, it really hit home for me the first time. "I have to be intentional about my health, it's not something that will just happen."

I mean duh, right? But for some reason I have been living as if getting healthy will just happen! But it's more than just eating right and exercising, it's getting to the heart of the matter. So that's why I'm reading Made To Crave. I want to get to the heart of cravings, and not be defined by a number on the scale, but instead by how my heart reacts. Guys, if this is something that you struggle with or something you have down as a goal for 2017, please, please read this book! That's all.

So as part of my intention for health, I plan to work on my heart, eat less sugars and bread and eat more veggies and water, and exercise 5 times a week. While I'm still working on the right eating plan for my family and for living in Africa, we have already made some changes in our daily diets. And since I use to blog about my allergy-free diet I'm restarting the blog series, but tailoring it to life in Africa. I plan to share easy to make recipes that are both healthy and quick, because when you have a newborn and are cooking in a kitchen without a/c in one of the hottest places on earth, you better believe it's not going to take more than 30 minutes!

3. Spirituality - In short, I want to be intentional with my own daily devotional time, and I want to be intentional about teaching our baby boy to love Jesus well. On that note, if anyone has some good book recommendations for teaching your kids, please send them my way! As for what my daily quiet time looks like, I have found that 40 minutes of pumping breast milk in the morning is a great time to pull out my Jesus Calling Journal Book and Journaling Bible. I love working through one days' devotion by reading it and then answering the questions and writing out a prayer in the space provided. Afterwards, I look up the 2-3 verses provided and read them in the journal Bible and pick out a part of the passage that stands out to me and doodle it. Because I'm a kinetic learning, this has been one of the most successful ways for me to really hear and understand God's word. I just wish I had discovered 2o+ years ago!

4. Creativity - As most people know I am a photographer. I love photographing people, whether it's a newly engaged couple or a mom in Africa loving on her children. But these things don't happen every day, and I've come to learn that if I'm not picking up my camera more than when I just have the opportunity that I'm not really pushing myself creatively. So I'm doing something that I've done before, a 365 challenge. I'll be posting a photo everyday following along with the prompts from #thebethadillychallenge. When I did this in 2015 I could see a huge difference in my posts from January to December and how much I had grown in trying to capture a specific shot. I hope that it will also challenge me in thinking outside the box. 

My other way to intentionally nurture my creativity is by blogging. I mean, it may just be my fam reading these things (hi, mom) but I don't care. I've decided that blogging isn't really about who reads it, but that I get my thoughts down on paper. It allows me to "feel" like I have an audience for my writings and photography, therefore I put thought and effort into what I say. It's an accountability of sorts. So if you do happen to read the blog, you can look forward to see a few things habitually showing up on the blog this year: a monthly health post, a monthly refresh my soul post (like this one), updates on baby boy Ezra and life in Africa, and my most passionate blogs: stories of lives changed here in Africa

So there you have it, my plan of intent for 2017. I would LOVE to hear from each of you on what your goals, word, or hopes and dreams are for 2017. I think the best way we can actually try to work on these things is by telling others and not keeping it to ourselves. 

How to Stay Healthy When Traveling Overseas

If you've ever taken an international trip outside of western culture then you've probably experienced the fun of the little critters that rumble in the belly. And when you are only in said country for so long there's nothing worse than having to miss out on a few days by spending them near a bathroom. Sadly, I've been there way to many times. If Sarah, Steve, Andrew, and Roberto are reading this all I have to say is . . . remember Guatemala? There's nothing worse than sticking your head out of a car window and letting it go... #classy 

That said, I've learned quite a few tricks over the years on how to keep yourself healthy and thriving when in a new food culture. Not only that I've also learned the hard way things NOT to do that will keep you healthy when you return. So let's get started!

1. DRINK LOTS OF FILTERED WATER - I'm going to assume that most of you aren't first-timers to traveling overseas and so it goes without saying that you never drink the tap water, including when you brush your teeth. But what I constantly see is when people finally take a break and eat at a restaurant, it seems everyone always orders Coke. Now I totally get it. It's made with real cane sugar and is void of that nasty high fructose corn syrup, but that doesn't mean it's all good. And while you've had a long day and totally deserve that Coke, I encourage you to drink two waters for every soda. There's nothing worse to your gut than tons of sugar. Not only that but if your system is fighting off bugs then sugar only weakens your immune system. So if you feel yourself starting to rumble, go against all instincts in reaching for that Sprite, and instead opt for sparkling water with a lime or lemon quarter or plain 'ol bottled water. Speaking of lemon, that brings me to my next point.

2. ADD LEMON TO YOUR WATER. In fact, don't just add lemon, but carry with you a 100% pure-grade essential oil (Young Living) and put in one drop of lemon oil in your water. Take note that lemon oil will eat through plastic so be sure to invest in a glass bottle before leaving. I love this one! Plus it comes in several different sizes and tops. I'm a straw gal myself. Why lemon you ask, well, it not only has antioxidant properties but it aids in cleaning out the nasty stuff, keeping your ph balanced, and making sure you rid your colon and liver of all the crap we put in it. Plus if you get a sore throat just add a drop to hot water along with local honey, it works wonders!

3. TAKE A DAILY PROBIOTIC. All day, every day I will preach against antibiotics, but if you have to take them then make sure you are also consuming a probiotic. And it's probably a good idea to just go ahead and take that little guy whether you have antibiotic or not. It's amazing at regulating gut health and will help keep you strong. If you are looking for a good probiotic that you don't have to refrigerate then I suggest Young Living's PB Assist.

4. ANTIBIOTIC ALTERNATIVES. Anytime I had a stomach ache I use to down an antibiotic. I knew it was a little critter and it had to die. I've had my fair share of parasites and giardia, so I got pretty good at recognizing the symptoms. The problem was I didn't replenish my gut flora with probiotics and I took way too many antibiotics. If you are in a place that has malaria and are prescribed medication, make sure you understand what it is. I was taking Doxycycline for malaria prevention as well as cippro when I felt icky and then a stronger antibiotic when I would show positive signs of parasites. But no one ever told me to be careful and use probiotics or that I had an alternative. And now I'm paying for it. I took so many antibiotics that I soon developed candida in the gut. This led to IBS, weight gain, food allergies, unbelievable sugar cravings, thyroid imbalance, tiredness, and more. Now I'm not saying that you will get this from one dose of antibiotics, but if you are a frequent traveler and find yourself taking them more than once in a year then you might want to be careful. Okay so what can you do instead.

I am a HUGE fan of essential oils. Here are a few of my favorites for traveling abroad:

- For tummy troubles like pain, loose bowels, vomiting, etc use Di-Gize oil. If you can't do pills then invest in the oil. While the oil is great, I've found more relief with the pill as it's going straight to the problem area. Another good option to help with pain is Peppermint Essential Oil. This stuff is also good for headaches, adding to tea or hot water, and a ton of other things.

- To kill parasites and other bugaboos use the ParaFree Softgels. This stuff is gold. Seriously. I used it for helping me get over my Candida and it worked better than the anti-fungals my doctor subscribed. (shhh, don't tell) That said, it's packed with essential oils like Oregano, Peppermint, Melaleuca (Tee Tree), Thyme, Lemongrass, and Lemon. And it's that Oregano that will kill all things! You take one to three pill for ten days. If you start out taking three pills you will notice some cramping, that's your body detoxing what's inside it. So I recommend building up. Start with one and see if you can handle more. 

- Now some of you may just be blessed with the opposite of loose bowels. I say blessed because I've never been on this end and things are always greener on the other side. ;) But if you are looking for something to help balance you out as well as detox some of the crap living inside you (crap as in not quite parasites, but still needs to go) then I highly recommend Detoxzyme

Okay those are my tips for keeping your gut in check while abroad. I'd love to hear what things you guys use to keep healthy? 

To purchase any of the Young Living items shop here & enter this number: 2301525

EDIT: So Lily from Balance Me Beautiful reached out to me to tell me about her great website full of amazing information on essential oils. If you are interested in oils I highly recommend reading her post:

It's a great intro into 9 popular oils. If you check it out, be sure and leave her some love! 

2015: Let's Do This


Last year the hubs and I tried to be all organized and fill out some crazy detailed New Year's Resolution Worksheet. I'm sure you see where this is going... let's just say anything with the words worksheet in it just has all kinds of room for failure. So to make it more simple and to be able to actually achieve something this year I'm going to strive for three simple, tangible things:

1. Complete a 365 Project. In an effort to improve on my photography and creativity I'm committing to taking one a photo a day for a whole year. I'm hoping it will stretch me on days when I boredom is reigning and give me a digital scrapbook for 2015, because in my heart of hearts this is the year of change, y'all!

2. Journey to Health. After fighting for the past couple years with tummy troubles and beyond, I've finally reached a point where I can make a change. I want to continue sticking to my allergy-free diet and supplements, but also begin to add back in my exercise regime. 

3. Love God. I want to look back next Dec. 31st and be able say I love God more than I did today. I want to hold my dreams in open hands so that I can be ready at anytime to follow God's dreams. The Lord has already been so gracious to us to show us where he wants us for the next however many years. I can't wait to continue walking on this journey but I must prepare for the fight. The fight agains the enemy whose goal is to distract us, weaken us, and make us lose sight of the ultimate goal. So here's to gearing up this year and getting in the fight.

Small Goals for 2015:

1. Read more books than movies I watch.
2. Travel someplace new.
3. Retreat in the mountains at least once this year.
4. Visit the beach at least once this year.
5. Try something new and scary.
6. Make a new friend.
7. Blog more.
8. Begin writing down my life.
9. Give myself more grace.
10. Press into Joy.

Happy New Year!

The Labor of Rest

As most of you may know the hubby and I work for a humanitarian organization. As humanitarians we’ve had the privilege of traveling a lot and seeing a lot…both good and bad.

So it’s easy for us to understand our company’s new mission: to reach the toughest places on earth. Because we’ve been to these toughest places—back roads in Africa, treacherous mountains in Central America, and far away villages in Central America.

But for people like Reed and I sometimes our “toughest” places look different. You see, when Reed and I are stuck in a mudslide, flying a small plane to a remote village, or just experiencing a new culture for the first time we are in our element—we come alive! We get that feeling that overtakes you when you think to yourself, “This is what God created me for!” It’s us at our best…

But what most people don’t know is that we only spend about 10% of our time on the field or “at our best.” The other 90% of the time we must work diligently from behind a cubicle, tracking shipments, designing banners, answering emails, writing reports and so on. And as I think about what the majority of our time as a humanitarian worker looks like I realize that sitting behind the cubicle is our “toughest place.”

And for now that’s okay, because it’s the path God has us on. But there is something you must watch out for when you sit inside the cube world—schedules. As Americans we are taught to obey schedules and of course if you can get ahead of the schedule, well, you’re a better man than most.

Seem ironic, because if you’ve ever visited another country you know that there are very few places that hold schedules to such a high standard as us Americans. Living in South America for a couple years taught me the Latino Time Table, which I’m a big fan of since I was no longer late to anything!

So what do we do with our entrapment to schedules? Well if you’re me, you forget about it and make it happen. You stay late at work, sacrifice your social life, and ultimately your health.

Lately I’ve realized just how much pressure I’ve been putting on myself to stick to my schedule and deadlines. But this week it came to a head.


I’ve been battling stomach problems my whole life, but in the past 6 month they’ve finally irritated me enough to see a doctor. So while I continue to fight the daily routine of pain and fatigue and figuring out the 5 things I can eat that won’t hurt me, I somehow started to come down with sore throat. “No big deal,” I thought. “It will go away,” I said...Ugh, 12 hours later and I’m still pining away for my hot water and lemon essential oils.


Then I realized something. If I won’t stop my schedule God will.

No, I don’t have cancer or need brain surgery as some of my friends are actually facing today, but I do need rest. And not just the kind I get at night. I need time away from work, a chance for my body to heal, and an opportunity to sit still and hear from the Lord.

But it’s hard. When I know I have friends facing more significant health battles than me, I don’t want to acknowledge that I’m weak or need prayer. I don’t want to tell people about my struggles after hearing about co-workers who may not be with us in a couple of months. But that’s selfish. If we do not share our burdens with others then we are depriving them of their chance to intercede on our behalf. And we are also telling God that we can handle this without him.

So I stand convicted and ask for forgiveness. The Lord has my attention as I’m forced to lay on the couch and stop working. So let’s share in each other burdens no matter how big or small. Feel free to email me or leave a comment in ways we can encourage and pray for each other.

I leave you with a segment from The Balanced Wife blog:

“I'm afraid of what will happen if I take my foot off the gas or stop trying to squeeze the most productivity out of the day- it already feels like I'm always behind, and that feels heavy. But He is our respite. Spending time with him will teach me to live freely and lightly. What I know and hold to today is that when my labor on earth is done, I want to have spent more time worshipping my Father than my schedule.”


How Running is Changing the World


I remember in middle school when my feet first hit the pavement of the track. Sweat rolled down my chubby cheeks as I choked back tears, “who would ever do this for fun?!” As the years went on I learned to appreciate the sport of running. Spending 8+ years on a track team will kind of do that to you.

I mean have you ever had a bad day and just feel the need to clear your head? I don’t know if I’ve ever found anything more motivating me to run than for that very thing. I seem to always think better after a good run. But what if running was used for something more than clearing your head, losing weight, or even a friendly competition?

I knew before we left for East Africa that we would get to spend some time with a local girl’s running club. I have been part in partnering with a local organization over there in helping provide nutritious food, running shoes, uniforms, and vitamins to the girls on the team, but for the first time I was going to meet the girls and hear the stories behind it all.

Our second day in country we rode a taxi through the make shift roads and pulled up to a gated house. Inside we sat under a fan and listened as the coaches began to tell us stories—stories of triumph, stories of heartache, and stories of change.

Stories like Medina who is still in her early teens. She has spent most of her life working as a shepherd, watching over the goats and tending to their needs. One day she saw her cousin coming back from school and she decided she wanted to be educated as well. She went to her mom to ask for permission but she said no, “You have to look after the goats.” Disappointed, Medina went back to the field and decided she didn’t care what her mom said, she would attend school anyways.

But her rebellious spirit didn’t end there. After spending time in school and still tending to the goats she was in the field when she saw a few girls running by. She decided she wanted to run too. Again, she went to her mother and asked for permission. Of course, she said no, “You must watch after the goats, the school is enough.” Disappointed, but not discouraged, Medina decided to run anyways. It just so happened that they were holding a race in her town so she entered…and won!

The neighbors ran up to her mom telling her how well her daughter did and that she must let her run; she could be a star! Frustrated and tired her mother reluctantlylet her start running. Now Medina has a chance at qualify for the junior Olympics…if she stays in school.

You see, for the coaches the running club isn’t just about becoming good runners or learning sportsmanship, it’s about developing a life worth living. The girls are required to stay in school and work hard. And if they do not pass their exams to continue on to secondary school (high school) then they require them to go to classes that teach skills like baking and sewing.

You see, because it’s about teaching empowerment, education, and giving dignity to those who need it most. One of the coaches told us that most of the girls involved in the running club are what society would call the “trouble makers”. There have been many times when locals will come up telling them that they can’t believe the change they have seen in these girls because they were all known to be girls who get into trouble.

As one of the coaches said in another interview, "As part of this team, they are empowered. Empowered to say, out loud, 'I want to be the first in my family to graduate from high school.' Empowered to dream of being a pilot in the air force, even in a country with no air force. Empowered to say, 'I want to place second in this race, higher than the team thinks possible, higher than I have ever placed before.' Empowered to run through menstrual cramps bordering on childbirth pains because of female genital circumcision. Empowered to value hygiene and clean clothes. Empowered to stop, pull the thorn from the toe, and keep running. Empowered to aim at the Junior Olympics and to believe that racing there is truly possible. Empowered to believe in one's inherent honor, value, and dignity even after an attempted rape."

So next time you go out for run, think of these girls. Remember their triumphs, remember their hardships, but more importantly remember that they are strong. They are strong women who will one day change their country and hopefully the world.

Weights made from cans and cement...genius!

The workout room. 

Love the fun they were having with the camera!

Girls will be girls. :)

Gettin' Healthy: The Color Run

If you haven't been around us lately then you might know that we are on a mission to get healthy. After lots of research and a little experimenting we've decided that it's time to get rid of refined flours and sugars. But we've also made a commitment to increase our exercise regimen. We were both athletes in high school and college so this is something that should be that hard...ha. Anyways, I decided to sign up for The Color Run with a few friends from work. And thanks to the LifeProof case for iPhone I was able to document the fun!