My Birthday List

20120331-105506.jpgHave you ever had to brush your teeth using bottled water? Or make sure your mouth is sealed shut while showering so no water drips get in? I have. A few trips we have taken required our dependence on bottled water to avoid “travelers diarrhea” and other diseases, including Thailand, Mexico, and most of all Africa. Not only could we not drink the water (or ice), but we had to make sure not to eat any fruit or vegetables that we didn’t peel ourselves.

After a week climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, we ate lunch with our guides and porters and a “restaurant.” It didn’t look like any kind of restaurant we have in the states. We ate ribs from cows… But I saw the cows in Africa and they are so skinny you can see their bones. Along with the ribs were cucumbers, which I avoided because they would’ve been washed with unclean water. Jeff, however, had a brain lapse and began eating the cucumbers until I elbowed him and gave him a look. Not wanting to be rude, we didn’t make a big deal about it. He only consumed a couple small slices before realizing his mistake, and he was ok.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe recently returned from Cancun, Mexico where we also had to avoid tap water. However Cancun caters to tourists, so often the hotels and tour companies are equipped with purified water. But even the dependence on bottled water and making sure I had enough for the day and night, created a little anxiety in me. I am used to drinking 80-100 ounces of water a day! I’m constantly refilling my water bottle at home. Being in Mexico made me a little nervous… what if I can’t get enough water? What do I do?

The trip served as a reminder to me of the luxury I have living in America and having an abundance of clean water flowing from my faucets – every faucet. I shower in water clean enough to drink. I flush the toilet with water clean enough to drink. Meanwhile people all over the world walk miles to collect water which is unclean and causes disease.

According to, “Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses. 90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are in children under five years old.”

DSC_6896On Friday I turn 33 years old. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than helping meet actual needs for people, like clean water. Would you consider donating $33, or any amount, to Charity : Water and help me end the crisis of clean water? My goal is to raise $1,000 and right now every donation is matched by one of Charity : Water’s generous donors.

Clean water for all global citizens would cost $9 billion. Sound impossible? Annual US and European spending on perfume is $12 billion. Maybe if we realign our priorities we can make a real difference and save people’s lives. Join me by giving people a better life by giving them clean water. Donate today at Charity : Water.

Kilimanjaro or Bed Rest?

Climbing Kilimanjaro or bed rest, which one is harder, a friend asked me recently. Both take mental strength, but I didn’t have to run and lift weights for nine months to prepare for bed rest. I posted previously about how our vacations have prepared me for bed rest, but it’s always fun to talk about Kilimanjaro so lets dig in.

5.5 days to the summit (19,341 feet) and 1.5 days to get back down. Below 10,000 feet is a lush rainforest but beyond that Kilimanjaro has almost no vegetation. On day 1 we passed 10,000 feet, making us above the rainforest and above the cloud line. The ground had changed from green to dusty dry rocks. It reminds me of a story Jesus tells in Matthew 13:

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.

When people hear God’s Word, there are a few responses:
1. Hears it, receives it with joy, but has no root, and falls away when there are hardships
2. Hears it, but is too concerned about worldly things, and therefore bears no fruit for God
3. Hears the word, understands it, and is fruitful

When we were walking through the rainforest of Kilimanjaro it was hard, it was steep, but there was shade from the trees. There were animals to see. We were surrounded by beautiful green trees. Walking on the dusty rocks was difficult. It was dirty and hot and hard to balance on some of the boulders. There was no vegetation and no animals. The only scenery was the summit, which always seemed miles and miles away.

Looking at the list, I want to be number three. I want to hear and understand God’s word. I want to put into practice what I learn in the Bible. What do you want to be?