Thursday, December 30, 2010

Grassroots in the DR

In the spring of 2009 I went on a trip with my church to the Dominican Republic.  For me the trip was impromptu and I was in somewhat of a daze.  I had just been laid off from my job that I had comfortably had for 6 years and was left with my minuscule private counseling practice to keep me working.  I had a lot of time on my hands and I was a bit lost, (as much of the workforce can empathize with in these recent times).

It is not in my nature to decide three weeks before a trip to just go and especially on a mission trip.  (I am typically pretty intense about purpose and intentionality when I am asking for prayer and especially financial support for an endeavor...more on this later).   Yet, I went at the suggestion of a dear friend, the nurturing of my loved ones, and practical support from friends and strangers.

What a healing and igniting time it was for our group of women in La Victoria: Dominican and North American alike.  Our friends Mercy and Angie had dreamed for years of connecting these women that live in the country side of La Victoria with their friends in Colorado.  The specific purpose/(s) was/(were) unclear, but the value of mutual respect and admiration, and relationship, were the driving force.  We visited with these women in their homes, and explored our value through conversation, teaching, and demonstration. 

And what a full circle time it was for me personally.  Since my undergrad work in International Public Health, I have had a dream of working on a grassroots project with women in a developing nation that was both holistic and practical.  And that was one solid outcome of this trip.  Since our last visit our group has been in contact with these Dominican women brainstorming micro-enterprise business ideas and praying about what our next steps will be.

Two years later, we are returning to get "for real" about these next steps, February 4 to February 11, 2011.  To be true to our Dominican sisters, there is a lot of our trip that is "unplanned", but some things we are planning (with open hands): go with these women to the market in Santa Domingo to explore further possibilities (most of them rarely leave their town), explore material supply options for their product ideas, cook and taste test some products :), make some craft products, provide them with feminine health care kits, investigate gardening options, possibly begin some business basics training and of course - take them to the beach (although it is only 20 minutes away, their daily life does not allow them this luxury).

If you are the praying type, we need lots of it!  Do we even know what we are doing?  Kind of, ...not really?  Pray that we will see what God had envisioned for all of us through this relationship.  And all the practical matters that go along with this.  Oh - and we don't have housing for our stay yet, so...

If you are compelled to give to this cause, we are raising money through our church and your gift would be tax-deductible.  Just make a check to Lookout Mountain Community Church with a sticky note that says "Women's DR Trip" and mail it to: 534 Commons Drive, Golden CO 80401.  As an FYI, I will paying for my travel expenses through my counseling business.  Soon after my trip to the DR in 2009, I committed to growing my private practice as my primary employment and decided to assign a percentage of my business to doing things such as this.  If you do give, it will go towards our team's collective expenses, and things such as supplies for the feminine kits and gardening, (which we will buy in the DR), and micro-loans in the future.

Email me with questions at and more blogging on this to come...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Full of Fear

Full of fear...fear of dogs that is.  There are some caveats: only dogs I don't know and dogs that are barking aggressively.  Ever since I took my jogging habit to the neighborhood streets shortly after college, I have realized this fear pretty regularly.  My gauntlet, (cue creepy theme music here), is a long straight stretch of fence lined path in a suburban Colorado area that is bound to have a medium to large sized dog in at least every other yard.  Holy moly - I feel the anxiety rising even as I type.     

Over the years, I have sought to confront the fear through a variety of tactics: flooding, systematic desensitisation, meditation, deep breathing, singing hymns, all with variable levels and lengths of success.  And yes - all while jogging.  But the truth remains - I am afraid of dogs I don't know.  (Okay - even those that don't bark aggressively). 

And have I even mentioned invisible fences that give this white girl a heart-a-stroke every time I encounter one.  Startle reflex does not even begin to describe it.

Enter my sister.  Meredith and I took a run last Saturday while visiting my parents home in Maryland.  I was enjoying the benefits of lesser altitude and she was hating the time/exercise constraints of being a mommy of two, full time employee, and MBA student.  Enter dog - snarling, woofing, foaming, hunting - Lizzy - FREAKING OUT!  ...on the inside ... or so I thought.  I swear, I didn't even flinch.  And my sister calmly gasps, "Liz - they have have an invisible fence.  See the way the dog is running along the perimeter...its fine."  It's fine.  It's fine.  It really is fine.  I could have cried.

Some fears linger, get stuck, return, no matter the effort, surrender, or softening.  But their power dissipates surprisingly quickly when someone sees the fear and the truth.  Especially when they know you and can detect it as you do...for you.   Especially when you know they would kick the bloodthirsty predator's booty if it even got close to you.  (Meredith is 5'2" and as feisty as they come).

BTW - I really do love dogs I know.  Maebe, Zeke, Bailey, Angel, Sakari, Radley, Charlie to name a few

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Wow - my life has been full recently!  Normally I would say I have been busy, (and my schedule has been that at points), but it is more than that - and better than that.  I am thankful. blogging.  But I am recommitting - once again.  And some of this fullness needs to be shared.  I am brimming over.  More to come.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hope and HIV

If you have a chance to read this short article:  When HIV babies become adults @

These young people are so inspirational to me.  They have had to deal with realities far too early and have been shaped by things outside of their control that most of us spend a lot of energy trying to avoid: illness, pain, death, loneliness.  Their snapshot stories carry grit and hope. 

This story hit me hard on several levels:
1.  Hope.  Over the last handful of decades the stigma, cruelty, and judgment of HIV/AIDS patients is being chipped away at.  At least to the point where our newspapers run stories about these brave young people. And there is money and time being invested in treatment and cures, and in turn babies born with HIV worldwide.
2.  Awareness.  Public Health Education makes a difference.  I mean - is this me validating my undergrad degree or what? , but seriously - awareness works on our fears and can change behavior.
3. Resilience.  Can you imagine developing as a human with your identity already wrapped around something like HIV/AIDS?  I mean, not just being sick, but people being overtly afraid of the sickness you have?  As a preschooler?  a teenager?  ... your peers; their parents?  And taking experimental drugs that have life-altering side-effects?  And doing this while bouncing from home to home because your parent/s died of the same thing?  These young pioneers, (not due to their choice, but because of their willingness), are a picture of resilience.

Friday, November 5, 2010


In the last year I have been struck by my ways of thinking around personal responsibility.  Before this last year or so, I would have said I thought it was important, but I was not as aware of how deeply this is ingrained into my fiber.

I am not sure I decided to value responsibility from the get go; to me it feels like it has always been there as a guiding principle.  Probably thanks to some combination of my family, culture, genetic predisposition and a multitude of other factors, "I came by it honestly."  It has had its upsides like never not turning in an assignment, (like - for real) and it has had its brutal sides like the gut punch of shame I have felt too many times when I do something human, but feels so very sub-human, (like - well - you name it).

So, I have been in this process of observing my "shoulds" and "oughts" around my own and other's responsibility.  And while I am still processing where that fits in my philosophical and theological paradigm, (which is probably somewhere in the existentialismish realm), I am happy to say that I am feeling much more responsible in my thinking and relating around personal responsiblity.  Sigh.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Triumph Redefined

One sure fire way to make me cry is to show me someone doing something that is hard for them and succeeding.  Automatically, I will well up and have to contain myself from spilling over.  I think I would call the emotion triumph, but that doesn't seem to do it justice.  (I guess any emotion that is deeply personal is hard to label). 

So, no wonder that I was on the brink of tears most the day this past Sunday.  I ran in a marathon...well...sort of.  A team marathon!, and I ran the shortest leg - the 5K.  Gooooooo me! But no matter the details, it felt triumphant for me.  I have had pretty tough couple of months physically and emotionally, so my goal of a mere 5K felt like a mile marker of a new beginning and was just about right for pushing myself without being a lunatic.

Mind you, there were lunatics there: as in everyone that ran the full marathon and they made me cry too.  But I felt the undefinable feeling when my husband finished his 10K in a time he wanted to, (he swears he had run more than a mile before I knew him, but I don't think so), and my friend who ran with us literally at the last minute  because one of our teammates had to drop out and ran her little booty off, and the father that I saw carrying his teenage daughter on his back so that they could finish the 1/2 marathon together.  Triumph can be huge and it can be small; it can be public and it can be private; loud and quiet; and somewhere in between it all. 

Next year, I hope I can run the long leg of the relay, like I planned to this year.  Or the half-marathon...(but not the full - that is for lunatics and we have already established that I am not THAT type of lunatic).  Even so, or regardless, I pray to be thankful for whatever triumph I have the privilege to experience.  Race or no race.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Five Fs

For about six years now I have been in a group called the Five Fs: Female Foreign Food and Film Festival.  It was an idea a friend/co-worker of mine and I had at work one day; within that same day we had planned and invited our first crew.  The idea was simple: gather women together to celebrate another culture through food and film. 

Over the years the group has grown, shrunk, moved, and morphed, but the essentials have been consistent and my love for these nights has only increased.  It combines my passions and life's simple pleasures so wonderfully.  ...even when the rosehip soup tastes like really bad baby food or I'm soaking my friends hands in milk to try to stop the stinging from the peppers she seeded without gloves.  (Note: wear gloves when dealing with chili peppers).

Here is the formula for those that are interested:
1.  Host picks country/culture/people group along with a film to watch and recipes to assign...not always in that order.  The possibilities are endless...suggestions are welcome.  Last night we did Sweden with the popular movie, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  
2.  After host selects recipes, (most of the time via the internet - obscure sites encouraged), host sends out recipes to party goers the week before.  A week's lead time is suggested.  Ingredients are sometimes challenging to find, which is part of the fun.  Our group email's them there really any other way?
3.  People bring their prepared foods to the party.  Eat and watch the movie in no particular order.  

Our little group tries to meet bi-monthly.  It is a highlight in my life.

Friday, October 8, 2010


I'm kind of one of those classic third culture kids in this way...  I am pretty good at adapting to whatever life throws at me.  To my benefit and to my detriment.  A strength, but with another side of the coin.  Then Lizzy Said is my attempt at a voice in process.  I will adapt as I always have; and/but now, I will respond...verbally.  I feel a little like a teenager; I'm 31.  I'm convinced I will embarrass myself.  But I am okay enough with that now to give it a go.