Hope Runs: The Power of Letting Our Stories Shine

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Guest post by Claire Diaz-Ortiz

I never meant to share this story. Of course, I never meant to live this story at all.

It started on a trip unlike the others. A trip around a small-big-tiny world with a twenty-something best friend in tow. A year-long trip through nineteen countries, and hundreds of books and one pair of running shoes that took me to the finish line of a Spanish marathon and to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest.

A trip that ended in a country where I had long wanted to be, at the base of a mountain I had long wanted to climb.

But when the base of the mountain towered above, and God spoke, it wasn’t the mountain that needed to be climbed at all.

Because in this story, in my story, God told me the mountain wasn’t where I was supposed to be. It was at the base, He said, with my two feet on the ground, in the orphanage with the cheap guest house that happened to house us for the night before the climb, where we were meant to stay.

And stay we did. For a year, living alongside 170 children, panting throughout our practices in our makeshift running program, and eventually starting a nonprofit called Hope Runs, aimed to help orphaned and vulnerable children through extracurricular programming and education.

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

Image by J. Carrier

There are different ways to tell the story of what happened next. What brought one of those runners into my heart in a way I couldn’t shake, and what force pulled him with me to the United States when so many of the odds were against us all the time.

What happened when a Kenyan boy who had never tasted pizza made it his American life’s work to eat it every day, and what happened when a boy who thought he was an orphan heard from his mother again.

And then, of course, there is the story of what happens now. What happens when a Kenyan teen with four languages on his tongue and a mother-sister-aunt of a white woman just a dozen years his senior perched on his shoulder tries to navigate this big-tiny-small world.

Hope Runs: An American Tourist, A Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption is the beginning of this story.

There are stories that are meant to be told, and this is mine.

I believe we each have dozens of them inside of us, and only rarely do we realize in life the power of letting them shine.

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

Hope Runs Cover

And, win A Copy of Hope Runs:

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

  • Get one entry by leaving a comment on this post and if you want, answering the question “Do you have stories inside of you that you feel are meant to be told?”
  • Like this blog post on Facebook.
  • Tweet this blog post.
  • Pin 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.)

Giveaway ends Friday, April 25th. 2014.

About Hope Runs:

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.

When Claire Diaz-Ortiz arrived in Kenya at the end of an around-the-world journey, she decided to stay the night, climb Mt. Kenya, then head back home. She entered an orphanage seeing it as little more than a free place to spend the night before her mountain trek. God had other plans.

Hope Runs is the emotional story of an American tourist, a Kenyan orphan, and the day that would change the course of both of their lives forever. It’s about what it means to live in the now when the world is falling down around you. It’s about what it means to hope for the things you cannot see. Most of all, it’s about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye.

claire diaz ortize

About Claire Diaz-Ortiz:

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 a popular blog at ClaireDiazOrtiz.com and is the author of the new book, Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption. (Stephanie’s note: And, a brand new mama! Her first baby born and the launch of her book, all in one wonderful, eventful week. Congratulations, Claire and Jose!)

Do you have stories inside of you that you feel are meant to be told?


  1. At this point in life, I don’t feel like I have a story to share. But I long for one. Every major life decision my husband and I make, we ask “Who are we doing this for? Will this have an effect on the kingdom of God?” I so desperate want to be used by God. As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of four, it doesn’t always feel like a glamorous story worth telling…but I do believe our first mission field is in our own homes.

  2. I definitely have stories inside me that need to be told…and I’m in the middle of writing about one of the biggies!
    Sarah M

  3. Very interested in this story–memoirs and real life stories are my favorite genre to read!

  4. I work with children with special needs and their families, and every day, I think that, if it weren’t for privacy concerns, these families stories should be told. They would make people laugh, cry, and be in wonderment. =)

  5. We all have stories to tell, and i believe our stories help teach our children.

  6. I have a lot of stories that need to be told. I stay awake at night until I finally get up and type them out.

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