Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It Takes a Team

Last week I wrote about my experience on Black Peak and how it was a symbol of living strong and choosing life. A person can only live strong if he or she has a team supporting them.

I am blessed to have a team who each in their own way helps me to live life in it's fullest.

My wife is extraordinary in her support of my life. She is patient and kind when I don't feel well. She lends a listening ear and is constantly supportive. Her support is concrete and tangible. She does all the housework so that I am free to sleep longer, train, work and be available to the kids. Her support allows me to be a better father and my kids have little understanding of my disease. She allows me to pursue those hobbies which are interesting and life giving even though they are varied and more often than not expensive.

My parents often do the gopher work for me like pick up my meds and send them out. They go to the natural health doctor and pick up supplements which are key to my health and wellness. All the while never complaining about it or sending me a bill. This is hidden work and doesn't get much glory but it is essential and I am deeply thankful for it. They are also ready to do what is asked and their love for me is certain.

My extended family is ready to listen and be patient with me while I am tired and not always in a good mood or available to participate in a family activity. They make me feel loved and important no matter how I feel or how well I perform. They are gracious people who extend grace to me and therefore teach me graciousness. My climbing partners are in my family and they go with me even though I am not the wilderness athlete I once was and yet that is never an issue.

My supervisor here allows me the time to train and is supportive of me, my training and my ministry. This is a wonderful gift that I am thankful for.

My friends are partners in prayer with me and for me. This is a special gift and one that nobody can quantify the value. It is priceless..Thank you...

God in Christ is on my team. It is clear on the cross that God is radically for me and all who trust Him. There is such peace in experiencing the love and peace of Christ.

Thanks team! Live strong, love Christ!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Black Peak

I have loved being in the mountains since I was in my late teens. I started rock climbing after my freshman year in college and have loved it ever since. I have had my ups and downs with my ability to go climbing depending on where we were in life and available time but I have always kept the mountains in my heart. One of the most challenging things for me is when I first started to deal my neurological issues was the ability to go climbing and be in the mountains. Mountaineering is inherently physical and takes a certain stamina and ability.

As I started dealing with chronic pain I got out of shape, put on weight and generally felt lousy. The thoughts of pushing myself in an endurance activity like climbing seem unrealistic. That always pained me and when I would go climbing it would be so hard that I really ceased to have fun. At the same time I hated that because I felt like the disease was winning and that I was losing, and I have hated losing my whole life; just ask my folks or my wife. On second thought don’t ask them because they would tell you lots of embarrassing stories.

When I came to Kwaj I began to have more time since I wasn’t commuting and I started to use this time to increase my exercising. I had read that exercise was essential for people with my issues and so even though it hurt and really didn’t feel that great I began. When my enthusiasm would wane I remembered one of the members of my former congregation who suffered from Parkinson’s disease. He was such a fighter. He would be bed ridden and still fight by doing his finger exercises so he could use his hands. His determination to live fully and fight until the very end still inspires me to choose life and live strong.

So I began again to exercise and change my diet. I did it slowly and while it didn’t take away my pain it allowed me to feel more alive and stronger in the midst of my trials and issues. I got it into my head that if I really worked hard that my body could get strong enough to climb a peak again and actually enjoy myself. More exercise and better eating lead to weight loss of 20 pounds and 3 inches off my waist. The mountains seemed to become more of a reality in my life.

As it got closer to me going to the States I contacted my favorite climbing partner of 14 years and told him we were going to make a trip this year. He was thrilled and we decided that we should get another one of our favorite partners (his brother and my brother-in-law) to join us. After much discussion we settled on Black Peak in the North Cascades of Washington State. It had been over 10 years since I had been up the peak and being nearly 9000 feet made it a good objective.

Finally the day came and even though it was cloudy we made the drive and started off for the lake we would camp at. The approach went well, I only fell three times in the soft snow (having little or no feeling in one’s feet makes balance more difficult) and we made our campsite with little or no trouble. The climb itself wasn’t too eventful other than a rogue and aggressive mountain goat incident (which is a totally different issue) and we arrived on the summit before lunch. We were high enough to be above the clouds and to see only the highest peaks in the surrounding area.

It was so emotional for me to be on the summit. I tried to communicate to the guys that I was so happy I wanted to cry and while they listened lovingly they really couldn’t understand the power of that moment for me. I really thought my disease had taken the mountains from me and therefore taken part of me I didn’t want to give. It felt like such a defeat. To have been on that summit was to say yes to life and to prove to myself that I can live strong. It was an answer to so many prayers by so many people who asked our Lord to heal me. While I am not healed I am living healthier and stronger and therefore, I am filled with more hope and life than ever before. I wish I could be free of my pain and other symptoms but I am not, it is a thorn in my flesh. I am resonating with the Apostle Paul who said that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him. The summit of Black Peak was God’s gift to me. That day serves as a symbol of the renewed hope I have through my Lord. It motivates me to keep choosing life and to push hard this year to see what next summer’s summits might be. My stronger body and stronger heath give me the ability to endure my symptoms and to be a better husband and father in the coming year.

Choose life, live strong, praise Christ Jesus.

Monday, August 22, 2011


As a pastor who went to seminary I enjoyed this article and thought I would share it.

Why Seminary Matters

Thursday, August 18, 2011

back on Kwaj

We made it back yesterday morning after two long days of travel with the kids. They did well, yet it is still hard waking children out of a deep sleep to get dressed, get on a shuttle, check in, go through security and wait at the gate and then get on a plane and fly for 5.5 hours and then wait for bags and then get on a shuttle to go the airport only to have to do it again the next day. Wow, I am tired again just thinking about the process.

We left the PNW saying goodbye to friends and family and that was hard and we came to Kwaj to say hi to friends we have made here. We feel blessed and thankful for the people we get to share our lives with and we are thankful that we are loved.

I had a chance to spend one Sunday at the congregation I used to serve and I am reminded of how loving and supportive the people at MLC are to their pastors. I don't know if it is rare that a congregation would be so supportive and yet I know how thankful I am for the years I spent there and how positive people respond to ministry. While in the States I talked often with my father in law who serves as their visitation pastor how supportive the people are of preachers. It is a great place to preach and the people listen well to the gospel and are supportive to those who preach it in their midst. I count myself privileged to have been a preacher in that place. Thank you to those of you who are reading this from that place.

Now are about the work of settling back into a routine and continuing the work that is set before us in this place.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Vacation has been hectic and fun, so it has been hard to blog lately. I have had so many experiences that have been interesting and my perspective has definitely shifted after having lived on Kwaj. I find that there are things that I really appreciate about Kwaj that maybe I didn't before and there are things here in the States that aren't what I might have expected.

For example paying for the Starbucks wasn't as great as I thought, no offense to the shareholders who are liking their current earnings with the rebounding company. I have however really liked the beauty of the mountains. We have been in Central Oregon for the last few days and the South Cascades are so gorgeous. I appreciate them so much more now that I have spent time away from them. I have some photos I'll try to get online in a few days.

When I have a little more time I'll organize my thoughts and share in a more ordered way what I am learning and what I am thankful for in this experience. The one thing I continue to learn is to be thankful to the Lord for what he is giving now and that there is always so much to be grateful for.