November 30, 2010

A real fix

By nature, I'm a fixer. It's not something that I'm necessarily proud of. Just something I've come to realize. If I had it my way, everything would be right in the world and in the lives of the people that I know. It was only a few days ago when as part of an apology to a loved one I uttered the words "sometimes I just try to hard to fix things."

Problem solving as a life occupation
That is probably the understatement of the century. I've spent most of my life trying to help others with problems. It is part of what I do as a minister and a counselor. But there is a fine line between leading people to truth and trying to fix them.

November 23, 2010

The Power Belongs to God

“Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. He is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this; THAT POWER BELONGS TO GOD." Ps 62:1-2, 5-8, 11

November 22, 2010

Autumn reflections

We've had a very different kind of autumn this year in Tennessee. Some trees still have all of their leaves, others are completely bare. Many have already transformed into a rainbow of colors. A few are still green.

When I got a DSLR camera last winter one of my greatest anticipations was the changing of the seasons. Especially fond of the transformation that takes place between winter and spring, and summer and fall I couldn't wait to try to capture some of the beauty of God's magnificant handiwork.

In some ways I have succeeded. Not as evidenced by these pictures, obviously. There are a few very special snaps which to some extent reflect His creative skills. But I've come to the conclusion that much of what God does is not meant to be captured but rather to be experienced.

I am thankful that I serve a God Who I'll forever be in pursuit of. He cannot be captured or fully contained but He can be experienced. The only equipment required for that is an open mind and a ready heart! Through every season He desires to make Himself known to us. What an awesome God, He is!

 "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."- Albert Camus


“Autumn asks that we prepare for the future —that we be wise in the ways of garnering and keeping. But it also asks that we learn to let go—to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness.” ~Bonaro W. Overstreet





 "No Spring nor Summer Beauty hath such grace As I have seen in one Autumnal face." - John Donne



"Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance. What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?"- Hal Borland

November 17, 2010

Why I'm Thankful for Bullies

Bullies, I've met a few in my time. One of the interesting things that happens when people unmercifully pick on you is that their words often stick. As a result, years later, the jeers of the past are stuck in the buffer of an unconscious tape that replays in our minds.

I hate that tape.

Perhaps you have heard some of these more universal insults play back at the most inopportune moments. I certainly have. Things like:

Got fears? Got unfilled dreams? Get The Summit!

The book:
Few people have the opportunity, wherewithal, or skills that Eric Alexander possesses. A skier, climber, and mountaineer, who fell in love with the outdoors at a young age, Eric lives out his faith while helping others to achieve their dreams.

The Summit: Faith Beyond Everest's Death Zone chronicles the adventures of Alexander and his team(s), which often includes people with disabilities, as they travel and tackle some of the most perilous peaks in the world.

The author gives an awesome "behind the scenes" view of what it requires as a leader and team member on these expeditions. I learned a great deal geographically and culturally about: Ama Dablam, Mount Everest, Mount Elbrus, Pisco, Machu Pichu, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, & Denali. The glossary provided was very useful in understanding any of the terms related to climbing.

November 16, 2010

The Summit: An Interview With Eric Alexander

***NOTICE: Be sure to read to the bottom of this post to see how you can possibly win one of two Kindles!!!

I recently had the pleasure of reading Eric Alexander's book The Summit: Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone . It is a very engaging and encouraging read.

As a popular speaker, Eric Alexander highlights the importance of trust, courage, teamwork, and integrity. Eric inspires others to aspire to even greater summits in their own lives, relationships, careers, and spiritual journeys. He founded Higher Summits, and works to educate and encourage youth with disabilities. He also teaches disabled skiers in Vail, CO.

Tommorow, I will be posting my review of The Summit a book which allows the reader the unique opportunity to climb in the footsteps of Eric and his unique life journey of guiding people with disabilities to the most perilous places of the world, including Mount Everest’s first blind ascent, abject terror on Ama Dablam, blind ski descent of Russian’s Mount Elbrus, up Kilimanjaro in Africa with four blind teens, as well as other summits and beyond!

Today, I am featuring an interview with the author:

1. Tell us about yourself and how your occupation is considerably different from most people?

Eric: I am married to Amy, have twin daughters Karis and Aralyn, serve in my local church, lead climbs and treks all over the world and make a living speaking to audiences around the globe by sharing a message of inspiration that challenges people to take on their own “Everest’s.”

2. What are some of the mountain summits you’ve conquered in the world?

Eric:  I have summited the highest peaks on six of the seven continents including taking my blind friend Erik Weihenmayer to the summit of Everest. Beyond this I have climbed hundreds of other peaks in numerous countries.

3. How do these relate to summits other people face in their lives?

Eric: I believe that a mountain climb is a perfect metaphor for life. We need goals, desire, strength, motivation, trust, teamwork, courage, and the list could be a mile long to face a challenging climb. The same that is true for a physical mountain is true for any obstacle whether that be cancer, relationships, finances, business and the more we can rely on faith and core values, the better equipped we are to face life’s challenges.

4. In what way does your book help others connect more deeply to God in each chapter with the Crux, the Hold, and the Anchor?

Eric: What I have laid out here at the end of each chapter is a challenge that we may all face and I call this the crux. A solution I offer is termed the hold, and most importantly the anchor is a scriptural answer from the Bible that will hopefully invite the reader to connect with God for the best answer.

5. Was there anything you faced that nearly stopped your dream of climbing Mount Everest?

Eric: Just the year before on a training climb of Ama Dablam (a more technical climb near Everest), I had a near fatal fall of 150’. This ended with me getting a life-threatening illness High Altitude Pulmonary Edema and later viral pneumonia. After this I lost my best friend in a back-country snow boarding accident and it was the fear and doubt that were almost insurmountable for me to again face my Everest.


6. What was it that kept you going, and still motivates your work and faith today?

Eric: Knowing that I serve a loving God that has his best in mind for me.

7. Tell us about that record-setting team ascent of Mount Everest in May of 2001?

Eric: This team put a blind man on the summit, the largest team to summit on same day, first American father and son, largest camera – HD video, and oldest summiteer Sherman Bull at 64.

8. In what ways is this highlighted in your new book, The Summit?

Eric: The Summit is about the hard work and the journey that climbing is. The book culminates the journey on the summit of Everest in celebratory style.

9. How do you now help others overcome obstacles in their lives in order to achieve their own dreams as well?

Eric: One of the great things about this climb on Everest was that it was not about me, not about the individuals, it was about serving someone else. The things I have learned from this experience I try to pass on to others I meet who have disabilities and encourage them on towards striving for their goals and dreams.

10. What is the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn in your life of adventure?

Eric: Sometimes eggs are the only food on the table. Eat them or go hungry.

If you would like to get to know Eric Alexander even better please feel free to visit his website.

CONTEST: To celebrate the publication of The Summit New Leaf Publishing Group is giving away 2 Kindles, both with The Summit already loaded on them.

To enter the contest all you need to do is post the video book trailer below on your favorite social media sites. You must complete this form to officially enter the contest. Post as often in as many places as you like. Each post will count as an individual entry.

Here is the video:


My thanks to New Leaf Press, an imprint of New Leaf Publishing Group, for providing a review copy of The Summit.

November 3, 2010

Rain

"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion." Psalm 84:5-7



Our heavenly bamboo tree is living up to it's name before our very eyes. In the past few days it has begun to turn beautiful colors, along with so many other trees, throughout middle Tennessee. Some trees are still fully green. Others stand bare surrounded by their fallen leaves. This has been an unusual autumn with record high temperatures, very little frost, and drought-like conditions.

Yes, drought-like conditions. Perhaps it has rained in some parts of the state but in the area we live in there has been very little rain since the devestating floods of 2010. Our once lush lawn is the light golden shade of a harvested hay field.

It crunches underfoot. I find it downright creepy.

Today, for the first time since May, showers fell steadily throughout most of the day. I stopped to thank God, more than once, for the much needed autumn rains.  

And I continue to pray for rain--naturally and spiritually speaking!

November 2, 2010

The Word

As I prepare to setup an office, after four years of using a tray table on our bed, I've been doing some surveying. I can't help myself. By nature I'm a planner.

One of the decisions that I must make is what will remain a part of the guest bedroom and what will go into my office. I'm finding it difficult, since I have not had a dedicated room for work before. My office has always been a part of another space. For some reason that made planning easier--or so it seemed.

Decisions, decisions.

Several years ago we purchased a beautiful lead-glass bookcase. It's small and holds a mixture of books and CDs. All of my most prized books and music are held within it. Because it's been upstairs, tucked away, I've rarely seen it in recent days. I am an avid reader and currently have piles of books in our walk-in closet. (I really need to do something about that, as well, but for now they will have to wait.)

November 1, 2010

Life

Last night my friend, Debbie Petras, shared a post about the Giving Thanks Challenge 2010 another friend is currently hosting.

I went over to her blog to get the details but, because I had been taking care of my Mom for several days, was too tired to write my introductory post before going to bed. I decided to sleep on it and write it first thing this morning.

For some reason I didn't sleep well. My mind was racing with thoughts of things that I need to accomplish before the end of the year. It's a fairly long list and I seem to be growing further behind with each passing day. My rest was fitful and disturbed and my head hurt.

This morning I woke up early with the same nasty migraine that I went to bed with. Usually migraine medications help when I take them. I didn't. Mostly because on Saturday I'd jumped out of bed to race over and feed my Mom's cat (who eats like a pig) and was hit by a wave of dizziness much like you'd experience while riding a merry-go-round. My blood pressure was low--again.

Nothing about my routine had changed aside from taking Imitrex before going to bed. The first pill had not worked and because it seemed a possible culprit I bypassed a second dose, despite the constant pounding sensation in my head throughout the entire day. Anything to avoid another drop in my vitals during the night.

This morning I woke up early and quietly moved out of bed with lightening speed, thinking I'd grab my netbook and post my intro before going next door. Unfortunately I couldn't take a step due to the spinning. Feeling for the edge of the bed, in our still dark room, I sat down quickly.

The longer I sat the louder the roaring noise in my ears got. I've stood by passing trains that were quieter. There wasn't any point in trying to fight it. My blood pressure was even lower than yesterday and my head felt like it might explode. I laid back down feeling discouraged.

When my husband began to stir I asked for a large glass of water. Despite the desire to retrace all of my steps in an effort to determine why this problem was surfacing again the headache wouldn't let me think. As soon as I was steady enough to stand I went next door to take care of the lifting and bending so my Mom's back can heal. She was worried I'd faint. She has cause to worry. I've done it dozens of times. Blacked my eyes. Bloodied my nose. But thankfully not today. Today my body gave warning signs. And kept breathing.

I quickly finished up my chores and, instead of staying to visit, returned to our side of the condo to get rid of the migraine. It's been a few hours and most of the pain is gone. My thinking is not clear but it's much better than earlier. While resting I thought about abandoning the challenge. Things are getting off to a rocky start. I also thought about all of the blessings that surround me. My life is full of them. Including having the luxury to rest.

Then I began to think back to a time, a few years ago, when my life nearly came to an end. My body crumbled to the floor without warning. Paramedics came to our home, tended to me in our kitchen floor, and told my husband that they were unable to find a pulse or blood pressure--or any signs of life. I wrote a short account of it recently here.

The longer I rested the more it dawned on me that, despite having frustrating blood pressure issues, I am thankful for LIFE. Without LIFE I would not be able to enjoy any of it's blessings. I thank God for giving me LIFE (see Psalm 139) and sustaining my LIFE in difficult times.

I. Am. Grateful.

"In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." Job 12:10

Thanksgiving or thanks living?

Last night, as I made my way across the driveway and into the house, ghoulish sounds penetrated an otherwise peaceful night. Somewhere in the neighborhood behind us a haunted house was entertaining or terrifying trick-or-treaters as they made the trek around the city in hopes of collecting some treats.

This morning, while watching the news, I was suprised to see Christmas commercials. What? There's hardly been time to take off the costumes or rake away leaves that are still falling and already “Christmas is in the air.” I find it a little disturbing and it appears I am not alone.
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