TGIF: ‘Cause I Gotta Have Faith-a-Faith-a-Faith …

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On small faith, mind-bending miracles, weepy bear hugs and an epic summer.

“How much have you raised so far?*” he said resting his coffee cup on my cubicle wall and peering down on me.

[*Context: On June 24th 2011, I announced a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG): 50 women in Vancouver + Half-Marathon = Raising $50,000 for Our Sisters in Uganda. Read more.]

Glasses, sweater vest, baby blue shirt tucked into beige pants … What’s-his-name-What’s-his-name-What’s-his-name, I thought frantically. Bryan … Kevin … Jared? My desperate attempt at recollecting his name was interrupted by the loud slurp of coffee. What’s-his-name swallowed and said, “You know, your half-marathon goal of raising $50,000?”

Ugh.

Luckily, I’d learned a thing or two from years of watching the question round of the Miss Universe pageant. So I repeated his question back to him as slowly as humanly possible, stalling for time. “How … far … away … am … I … from … the … half-marathon … goal?” deliberately leaving out the little detail of $50,000.

“Yeah, how far along are you in relation to the $50,000 goal,” he responded.

What’s-his-name was relentless.

I took a deep breath and with my best (fake) calm voice I said, “You know, it’s really exciting! A lot of girls have signed up for the run. Most of them are not runners, so they want to train a little bit before they ask friends and family for money. At the moment we are at $840.”

His eyes widened, “But it’s the second week of August already! You have to make over $49,000 in a month and a half!”

I smiled, “I know! It will somehow come together. I have faith.

Here’s the thing, I lied.
I didn’t have faith.
Well, I had faith.
I had small faith.

What is small faith you ask?

Small faith is …

– When you’re a “rah-rah” cheerleader on the outside, but secretly want to curl up in a fetal position and cry.
– When you quote Martin Luther King on your Facebook status and then take three nervous OCD showers to calm down.
– When you dream about raising $50,000 for your sisters in Uganda, but start convincing yourself that finishing the race without injuries would be a victory. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Guilty as charged.
I had small faith.

Real life doesn’t end with “happily ever after.” So, I typically dream safe dreams. “I hope there is parking close to the entrance of the mall.” Or: “I hope this new shampoo helps with my dandruff.” You know? That sorta thing. Dreams that don’t have the potential to embarrass me. Safe and realistic dreams that required small faith.

Unfortunately in the case of the half-marathon, I had opened my big fat mouth and put my BHAG out there, and now the whole world was going to know that I was a big fat failure/lunatic/loser.

Confession: When we made a You Tube video for creating awareness about the half-marathon, I asked my friend Dave who was editing the piece to remove the section where I talk about the $50,000 goal. Gulp. I know. We were days away from the run and nowhere near our goal, so I had started preparing my heart for a smaller dream.

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“Not failure, but low aim, is a crime.” – James Russell Lowell

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Earlier this week I was thumbing through Charles Swindoll’s book “Can One Person Make a Difference?” In the last chapter entitled “This is no time for wimps,” Swindoll talks about how God always gave big instructions.

He told Noah to “Build an ark.”
He told Joseph, “Return good for evil. Forgive your brothers”.
He told Moses, “Lead my people out of Egypt.”
He told David, “Kill the giant.”
He told Peter, “Feed my sheep.”

Woah.

God never aims low.

So yes, $50,000 was an obscenely high number, but it was what I felt God wanted us to work towards.

You know the guy who peered over my cubicle? Yeah, he checked in every two weeks. He asked the same question, “So how away are you from your $50,000 goal?” After every conversation, I felt my heart sink and I set my sights lower. I said things like, “If we just make about $___, it would be okay. It would be decent. At least, we created awareness, right?”

I have to admit, I harboured some not-so-nice-thoughts …

 Money Money Money 

Over the next couple of weeks, this is what our fundraising progress looked like:

August 23rd – $4,460

God, $10,000 would be a respectable number.

September 6th – $6,248

God, seriously, if we could just get to $10,000, I won’t ask for anything else this year.  

September 21st $11,516

Haha. Okay God. You’re amazing. Maybe, $15,000?

September 22nd $14,816

Eek!!! God, would it be crazy to aim for $20,000? P.S. $25,000 would be epic/mega/amazing/miraculous.

September 25th Race Day!

You are my rock, God. With you by my side, I can do anything.

**____After the Half-Marathon____**

October 5th $27,817

GOD?!! WOW! WOW! WOW! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!

November 17th $43,607

… * tears * … I’m a fool for ever doubting you, Father. I’m sorry I had small faith. 

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A Letter to my Girls …

Dear half-marathon girls + Josh,

WE DID IT!!! We finished strong. We wrote a beautiful story together. We witnessed a miracle. We helped. Even though there is so much more work to be done, we did something. We didn’t just sigh and turn the other way, we put our words into action!

Thank you for leaping with me. I couldn’t have done it without each and everyone of you. Thank you for the mystic bond of sisterhood. I will always cherish the laughter, tears, prayers and hugs we shared on this journey. I will never forget that familiarization run with Dan: running in the dark, sharing Gatorade, peeing in bushes, squealing in laughter and disarming crazy car alarms. What a night. Thank you for reminding me what we were fighting for when I was overwhelmed. Thank you for grace in moments of (administrative) chaos. Thank you for your tender, juicy, beautiful, thumping-aching-bursting hearts. Thank you for carrying me when I had small faith.

My sweet and strong sisters, this is only the beginning …

I love you all.

Rib-crushing, weepy bear hugs,
Teen
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  If you haven’t donated to our cause yet and would still like to give, we are accepting donations until November 30th.
– Donate: HERE
– How it all got started? Read the story: HERE
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Here are  5 things that made me smile this week:

 Poetry Jam + Marcel “The Shell with Shoes On” + Murmurations + Seasame Street + Kina Granis = TGIF

1. Joshua Bennett’s spoken word tribute to his sister triggers a sharp pain in my chest. Powerful + Beautiful + Tender.

2. I found this little gem while randomly surfing on Vimeo. Meet Marcel “The shell with shoes on.” Jenny Slate is the brilliant (untreated and unenhanced) voice behind the protagonist Marcel. Jenny Slate, you are adorbs.

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON from Dean Fleischer-Camp on Vimeo.

3. So, you know my long standing fear of birds? This video is so beautiful-breathtaking-awe-inspiring, I may have to reconsider my position on birds. Two girls in a canoe stumble upon one of nature’s greatest phenomenons; a murmuration of starlings. I’ve watched the video at least 10 times and I still get chills. Prepare to be enchanted. (P.S. If I had to pick my favourite out of this week’s list of 5 things, this would be it.)

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

4. My friend Brandi-Lee (or B.Diddy‎ as I like to call her) was watching Sesame Street with her son, Finn, when she heard this catchy tune. “She’s gonna change the world, she’s gonna make the world a better place!” Yeah she is! I don’t know why but I love the massive pearl earrings on the puppet. I keep imagining someone looking at the puppet and saying, “There is something missing here. Ah yes, pearl earrings!” Haha. Yes, I’m easily amused.

5. I’ve been following Youtube star Kina Granis  for years now. She was on The Ellen show this week after the release of her new music video “In your arms”. 22 months, 1,357 hours, 30 people, 2 ladders, 1 still camera and 288,000 jelly beans. Dedication or insanity? You decide.

Watch the making of the video:

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So, dear friends…

1. Have you ever experienced a miracle in spite of having small faith? I would love to hear about it!

2. What keeps you from dreaming big? Failure, past disappointments, responsibilities, etc.?

Love you more than Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars, (<- Recipe)

xoxo,
Teen

To read more TGIFs from Tina: Click here.

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Tina Francis
My name is Tina. Loved ones call me: Teen. Words are my chocolate. Music, my caramel. Photography, my bread. Girlfriends, my butter. Confession: Some girls dream about Manolo Blahniks or their next Hermes bag. Not me. I dream of freshly baked bread, perfectly barbecued meat & steaming bowls of Pho. My dream lover *cue Mariah Carey song* is someone who would read out a menu to me in Barry White’s baritone voice. I celebrate food, ask for help, interrupt conversations, laugh and cry hard, acknowledge the elephant in most rooms, fight for the underdog and believe in the power of storytelling. I was born and raised in Dubai and currently live in the beautiful city of Vancouver, known for some of the best sushi in the world.
Tina Francis
Tina Francis
  • Big BIG congratulations, and even BIGGER bear hugs! Way to go, marathoners!!

    • Thanks lovely!!! I still can’t believe it. So so amazing. #triplecartwheel

  • Musu Taylor-Lewis

    Thanks for the honesty Tina. I love it! “When you dream about raising $50,000 for your sisters in Uganda, but start convincing yourself that finishing the race without injuries would be a victory. It’s the thought that counts…” That says it all. Ouch!

    • Hi beautiful Musu! We haven’t met in person but I love your articles on SheLoves. I heard you speak briefly at a ‘Life Women’ evening. Mercy Ministries has a HUGE fundraising goal for this year too, so I’m sure you relate to the dance between panic and faith! You’ll have to forgive me for not remembering the specifics, but I remember the impact a story you told made on me that night. It was how you needed money for something urgent (rent or a bill of some kind) for Mercy Ministries and how there was a cheque in the mail that very morning for the amount you needed!

      Miracle stories make my heart sing!

      xox,
      Teen

  • Agh! My heart is full again, so long after this run. I love that I got to run (literally) alongside you and all the girls (and Josh). God is amazing! I can’t wait for the next BHAG! 🙂

    • PS: I love your definition of small faith: Dreams that don’t have the potential to embarrass me. Ouch, in a good way.

      • You know what’s strange? I didn’t even catch the definition of small faith until you pointed it out. Huh. Nice to know that I’m inadvertently smart on occasion. Ha! Who knew? 🙂

        • I think it happens much more than you think it does. 🙂

    • Stomach in knots n’ butterflies over the next BHAG. I don’t know what it is but oh… it’s coming and it’s gonna be a doozy!

      This one is going to be scarier and hairier than the last one.

      xoxo,
      Teen

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  • Daniela

    Oh it was an epic summer. So many fond memories of dragging, pushing, nudging, cheering you through the fort to fort. Ice bags, heating pads, tensor bandages, 5 hour energy drinks with coffee. Bear scat (that’s poop) and praying when you fell behind that you would not be eaten by a bear. Smoothies, Michael Jackson, pocket knifes and car alarms. Tears and medals. Thanks Teenie for dreaming big enough for all of us. xoxo

    • Oh Danny … I love that list. It makes me emotional (in a good way). In a ‘I want to write in my journal way’. Not in a ‘Pass me the ice cream way’. Every one of those things, even bear scat makes me misty-eyed.

      I can’t tell you *how* much I loved getting to know you and Trinity as sisters , along with my sister this summer.

      We wrote a pretty sweet chapter into our stories.

      And, this whole card initiative for the East Africa famine? Blown away by you. Talk about taking a teachable moment to a whole other level. Owen has an amazing Mom.

      Love and respect you so much,
      Teen

  • Amanda Gregory

    Yay ALL of you well done!!!!!!! Praise God and may he bless all of you for helping and creating awareness!

    • What about you Miss Thang?!!! So proud of you for raising awareness and funds for ‘A Girl Called Hope’. Mama Bear proud moment. 🙂

      Tight hugs,
      Teen

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