Today I am 48 years old.
See how I did that? I owned that one big time.
I remember the year I turned 40 (wasn’t that yesterday???). I had two brilliant and busy boys, starting a masters degree, teaching middle school full time, with a full class, in a full on frenzy. My mother-in-love (she is way too good to me to be my mother only by law) came to visit our little corner of chaos for a few days. After settling her in, she came downstairs and ask me in her gentle way, “Now dear, how can I help?”
I felt hot tears on the dish I was drying before the question mark settled at the end of her sentence.
Help? I thought.
Well– see those laundry mountains? Boys who were unfathomably hungry ALL THE TIME? Paper deadlines for classes? Tests to grade, oil to change, dust bunnies to chase, lessons to teach, sheets to wash, groceries, laundry, papers, grades, and never ever EVER enough sleep? Oh, and I had gained 10 pounds– I could use a gym membership IF I could ever get there!
But I never had to say any of that. She saw it in my eyes. And the look in hers was one of genuine understanding. I will never forget what she said next–
“Belinda, the 40’s are hard. They just are. You are going to have to learn to deal with it.”
No “tone”. No harshness. No hands on hips. Just one women telling another women the truth– in love. She wanted me to stop dodging it and just own it.
My life became better after that day.
The beauty of your 40’s is every year you get over it a little more. Over the fear. Over the need for elaborate rules and rituals. Over who I thought I would be by this or that age. Over, oh SO over, perfection.
The beauty of your 40’s is also that every year you own it a little more. Own the brilliant successes, and the spectacular failures. Own the changes in body. Own changing your mind. Own showing up…or not. Own your yes, and your no.
Own when you need a little help.
That’s a tough one for me. But my 40’s are slipping away– and I need to get some practice in on this one. So time like the present! Seems right–It’s my birthday– did I tell you?
I need your help.
In 30 days, I will be leading a group of 15 women (and one man!) of varying ages, stages, and professions from across America to converge at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania’s “mountain of light.” We will share in a daunting but exciting 5-day journey through 4 climate zones, over 38,000 steps, to summit at just over 19,430 ft on March 8, International Women’s Day.
You are either asking why or what the heck? Doesn’t matter which–both answers are the same.
Each one of us has a slightly different answer to this question, but all have come because of one woman’s plea to “tell the world” about the violence she and her sisters in war zones have experienced and continue to experience.
Three years ago, I met a woman who changed the direction of my life, though neither of us knew it at the time. Lynne Hybels and I had gathered together some of the most honorable women we knew and journeyed to one of the most dangerous places to be a woman on earth– the Democratic Republic of Congo. There we sat in the presence of several survivors of sexual violence.
Esperance, spoke softly but her voice thundered in my ears. She was from a small village in the Congo, watched her husband die at the hand of rebels. She was violently raped and would have died if her sisters hadn’t rescued her. Later on, cross a blank sheet of paper, Esperance, who cannot read or write, had her pastor write the words: “Tell the world.” Then she stamped her thumbprint underneath. Esperance’s thumbprint became my mandate: violence against her is violence against me.
One woman’s story, her petition, has since ignited a new movement of peacemakers.
One Million Thumbprints (1MT) is a grassroots campaign that is joining forces our awesome implementing partner World Relief and with the help of super generous organizations like The Justice Conference
, Allume, Today’s Christian Woman
, WE International
, Somebody’s Mama
, Bethany Global
, The Dailey Group, ONE.org
, Tyndale Momentum Publishing, Purpose Jewelry by International Sanctuary 1MT seeks to aid women who’ve been affected by sexual violence in war zones. About this, I care deeply.
We hope to do this in two specific ways:
1) Thumbprints: Advocating at the UN level and other governing bodies to follow through on resolutions and laws passed to protect women in conflict zones.
2) Funding partner programs: building the capacity of proven organizations already on the ground in the most dangerous countries in the world to be a woman. These programs meet practical needs (food, clothing, shelter,and trauma assistance), help stabilize communities (through training in negotiation and peacemaking), and provide sustainable long-term solutions (such as economic and educational development, micro-savings and micro-finance, farming co-ops, and refugee resettlement).
Lynne once wrote, “I realized that no matter where violent conflict occurs, it has the capacity to destroy everything, from the tiniest baby to the infrastructure of an entire society.” This matters to her so much, she is joining our serious and slightly crazy group of climbers on this upcoming… trip?
No. More than just a trip.
Way more than just a trip. First we will make our way over the Rwandan boarder into the DRC to spend some time with the very women we call our sisters, even in a war zone. We will learn from them and the staff of World Relief how to TELL THE WORLD. Then we will make our way to 1MT’s inaugural event, the Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb for Peace– a Herculean effort to raise awareness and funding for programs on the ground in Syria/Iraq, the DRC, and S. Sudan through our super capable program partner
, World Relief
So– HELP!! And wish me Happy Birthday:)
For my birthday would you help me get better at asking for HELP! I would literally do a flip (honestly– I’ll even take a picture) if you were to help me do two things. Both of them are CRAZY– but you don’t ask for help with things you KNOW your can do. You ask for help with things you have NO EARTHLY way of accomplishing without others–– without YOU to be specific!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY HELP #1. I need 48 people to donate their thumbprints TODAY online– it is the easiest thing you will do ALL DAY–promise! Click this thumbprint to add yours!
ADD YOUR THUMBPRINT
We will use your thumbprints (name and email as identifiers) as a form of a petition to TELL THE WORLD we care and we want women protected!! (Lookout UN, Capitol Hill, Parliament… 🙂
HAPPY BIRTHDAY HELP #2. I need $480.00 donated to my fundraising page! It’s just pain embarrassing– here I am organizing this thing and I only have $100 raised (from my amazing husband no less!!) Would you HELP me raise this to $580 for my birthday? Click on this $ sign to give a gift of whatever size!!
No need for flowers, or books, or dinners or Starbucks, or even cards! Your gift of $10 or $20 or $200 would make me cry! Promise– I’ll even take a picture to prove it! I’ll flip and cry at the same time!! You can clearly see this means a lot to me.
Remember the 40’s are just hard…but you can HELP!
So–in honor of the 40’s, in honor of DOING SOMETHING HARD for the sake of others, in honor of HELP– I want to stand together with my family, my friends, my students, my teams, my colleges, my church, my social media community and do what Esperance asked: Tell the world that violence against women in war zones must end.
Will you HELP make this the HAPPIEST BIRTHDAY EVER?
(See how I owned that?)
(Love ya mom!)