Hope Runs (a story and a giveaway)

Today I’m happy to host my friend Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@claire), author, speaker and Silicon Valley innovator who was an early employee at Twitter. Read on to hear her tell the lovely true story of her new book, Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption. I endorsed it with pleasure and highly recommend it. Here’s Claire:

This story does not end where it started. Because where it started was nowhere near the red dirt of Africa, or the tiny hands of little girls in party dresses running alongside me on those red dirt roads.

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This story started on a trip. A trip for an eager twenty-something that spanned the globe. A trip that spanned nineteen countries of buses and hiking and zoos (yes, zoos) and milky tea and hundreds of books read and hundreds of mosquito bites suffered and hundreds of miles run in far-flung locales.

The trip, as it were, was to end in Kenya, where a mountain climb proved to be the final capstone to a year well done, to a story well lived in the world at large. But before a mountain could be climbed, a night had to be slept, and that was where the story went awry.

Because when they suggested that very guest house – a cheap place to stay the night before the climb, it didn’t matter that an orphanage happened to own it – my best friend and I agreed.

And in those first hours at the place of green and blue in the Kenyan highlands, when the orphanage elders asked us for lunch before leading us to our quarters for the evening, it all changed.

Because God showed up. Or rather, showed His face where He had always been.

In the middle of the lunch, in the improbable moments of that bright, sunny, tired, hungry afternoon, when I asked Him a question – THE question – the biggest question I had ever before had, he was there.

And here is what I asked:

If you have put this place in my path to change my story, open my eyes so I can see.

And He opened my eyes.

We stayed a year at that orphanage. We started a running program, and then a nonprofit organization called Hope Runs, with a mission to help orphaned and vulnerable children through extracurricular programming and education.

We ran, and ran, and ran through red dirt as far as the eye can see.

"Hope Runs"  Nyeri, Kenya.  May 12 and 13, 2007.

image by J. Carrier

In a year, stories change.

In the first hours of that year, I met a small boy who was older (thirteen, to be exact) than he looked. He asked me about a Senator named Barack Obama and then about David and Goliath and then stuck by my side, never letting up, for the rest of that year.

And when it came time to leave Kenya and for my story to move on to other places, I knew he was meant to come as well. Come with me back to a land of cheddar cheese and smooth roads and hot showers: the United States. Because that, I saw, was the next part of the story.

Sammy, now 21, changed my life in a way I could have never imagined. And, in turn, I changed his. Our story, about our strange family of faults and love, is now here, in paper, in a book they say we wrote but I say we lived.

Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption is that story.

Each of us has a story inside – dozens, hundreds, thousands of them – and I believe in the power of sharing that story. To see our way through, and to live the next step.

To celebrate the launch of Hope Runs, I’m giving away a free ebook, Share Your Story, which I wrote to talk about the power of story in our lives. Download it here.

Hope Runs Cover

And, Win A Copy of Hope Runs:

To win one of three copy of Hope Runs, do one or more of the following things. Leave 1 comment on this post for every item you do.

  • Like this blog post on Facebook.
  • Tweet this blog post.
  • Post this blog post on Pinterest.

Remember, for each thing you do, leave one comment. (So, if you post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, that would be three comments.)

(Or, buy a copy of Hope Runs and get $150 in freebies.)

Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@claire) is an author, speaker and Silicon Valley innovator who was an early employee at Twitter. Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, she holds an MBA and other degrees from Stanford and Oxford and has been featured widely in print and broadcast media. She writes at ClaireDiazOrtiz.com.

Sammy Ikua Gachagua had lost his father to illness, his mother to abandonment, and his home to poverty. By age ten, he was living in a shack with seven other children and very little food. He entered an orphanage seeing it as a miracle with three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and clothes on his back.

Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption is the unlikely story of Claire, the American tourist and Sammy, the Kenyan orphan – a story you won’t soon forget.

Sharing the Right-Now Stories

Yesterday I told you about that time I was terrified of sickness. It was a fear-filled time in my life that I am now able to look back on in an almost puzzled kind of way, wondering how I could have gotten so worked up for so long.

sharing the right-now stories emily p freeman

It’s easy to say that seven years later. What isn’t so easy to consider are the places I’m walking through right now, the ones that maybe aren’t so easy to talk about because I’m still in the middle of them. It’s important to tell the stories we’ve lived and come through. It’s also important to tell the one’s we’re living right now. But these aren’t as easy to find words for.

Today over at (in)courage I’m attempting to find the words where I am at present - hanging on to hope when the fog rolls in. You may read it and think well you still didn’t tell us much about where you are right now and to that, I will agree and simply say that is one reason why it’s hard to share the present, especially when the present involves fog. Because it’s not only hard to see where you’re going, it’s also hard to see where you are.

But writing helps. Hope*ologie helps. Routines and breath prayers and stillness helps. Spring break will help (starts tomorrow!) And hearing from others who are in similar places helps, too. Hope you’ll join me over at (in)courage.

That Time I Was a Hypochondriac a Little Bit

hope at chatting at the sky

Several years ago when our kids were still in preschool, I went through what you might call a terrified-of-my-family-getting-sick stage. If someone mentioned during a playdate that their kid threw up the night before, I would gather my children that very moment and straight up leave their house. If one of my kids complained of a tummy ache, I wouldn't be able to sleep that night. It got so bad that even if I read on Facebook that someone was sick, it would trigger the fear and obsessive … [Continue reading]

for your weekend

emily freeman - chatting at the sky

May I not despise small beginnings even if they lead only to small endings. When I seek to grasp for bigger and wider, may I remember how much I treasure smallness, simplicity, and soul space. If I begin to work hard to carve out a sense of myself, may I turn - again and again - toward the presence of God. And may I ever remember that no one gets to tell me who I am except my Father. Any commentaries about my identity, either out there or in here,  may I let them gently go. Enjoy your weekend, … [Continue reading]

For the Soul Who Feels Pulled in All Directions

emily freeman chatting at the sky

During the last several months, Annie's now-famous statement we will make art has been working its way deeper into me as I've been trying new things and struggling through the learning of them. For the past few months, I have spent a lot of time thinking, writing, staring, planning, and waiting. I haven't heard much in the silence and it's frustrated me, if you want to know the truth. As I listen the fog only gets thicker rather than more clear. I don't like walking in the dark but sometimes … [Continue reading]

Sharing a Secret and an Invitation (!!)

hopeologie

"Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. You need to remember that when you find yourself at a beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up." - Hope Floats This past fall when I first announced plans to host an event with my family, I heard from many of you from all over the country expressing interest in coming. We wanted to keep the gathering small and somewhat intimate to allow for conversation and connection so we limited the number of … [Continue reading]

for your weekend

for your weekend - chatting at the sky

This weekend, in the regular rhythms of home and play, of work and washing, of listening and slow conversation, may I see God even though I don't see God. May I not demand a spectacle, a miracle, or a sign. May I simply, quietly, be still and know. Enjoy your weekend, friends. Here are a few good reads for this Sunday afternoon: Season of Returning: Rain at Winter's End by Ruth Haley Barton The Daily Routines of Geniuses by Sarah Green for Harvard Business Review On Dancing, Fresh … [Continue reading]

This One’s for the Wanna-be Hopeful

I'm thankful for hope, the kind that doesn't expect always sunshine, but the kind that holds on no matter how things appear, the kind that reminds me how I feel about things isn't the ultimate truth. - emily p. freeman

This morning started out bright, sun coming up behind our house in confident pink and orange glory. And I, mood highly swayed by the weather, picked out a skirt from my closet to wear and hopped in the shower once the kids were off to school, ready to face the day with energy and focus. I got dressed in my skirt with a pair of green flats, even played with patterns a bit. But by the time I fixed my hair, the cul-de-sac was draped over with a gray cloudy blanket and I felt my soul sink a … [Continue reading]

Tuesdays Are For Living

light at chatting at the sky

It's dark in the sunroom this morning, hours before the sun comes up. The wall of windows reflects the light from my lamp, the end table, my own face. I come here in the early quiet, pour the coffee, let out the dog, sit with a blanket, and listen as the yard wakes up behind me. What stories will I tell today? Today is finally April but most of the trees don't know it yet. A long winter has kept them sleeping right on through March. The little ones wake up first,  shooting out flowers at the … [Continue reading]

for your weekend

chatting at the sky

This weekend may our minds be filled with peace from constant questioning, wondering, feeling our way in the dark. May the light of Christ spread out like gold, liquid from the hot light of truth. May he seep under our doorways and into our dark rooms, covering every inch. As we sit in our Christ-room, may we have the courage to see our reflection and remember the words of Barbara Brown Taylor, that "Jesus was not brought down by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied … [Continue reading]