The thing about writing is that it’s hard. I get the same thrill from writing that I do from running because I use the same excuses- I don’t have time, it’s not top priority, and it will take too long. But with both I always feel so much better when I push through.
This week I’ve resolved to write at least one post or finish one draft. I am childless for 5 days on a trip with my hubby and friends to Yosemite. We have the couples perfect get-a-way cabin that screams “couples only, no toddlers” every where you turn and I’m currently sitting poolside watching the moon fade into the blue sky above the California hills as I type.
Friendships are a a beautiful thing. There are really only a handful of people I think I could vacation with and thankfully our friends are top on that list. We’ve marveled often that we’re actually “doing this” and we are having an incredible time. Our first day and night we spent driving, flying and driving. The boys ran a tight schedule in order to get us all to Yosemite at 7am to summit Half Dome. Side note: I’m told that many Minnesotans have never heard of Half Dome, so please take a moment to familiarize yourselves with what I’m referring to so you understand the prideful tone I’m speaking in 😉 .
When the possibility of climbing Half Dome was briefly mentioned last Sunday, our friend Aaron prefaced the climb with, something like, “If you have upper arm strength and aren’t stupid, you’ll be fine. The only people that die are being stupid.”
Up until that point, I had not considered death as a possible outcome. I quickly calculated the odds of the four of us surviving- Aaron, who is training for the iron man, Kendra who just completed her first marathon, John the Incredible Hulk (your welcome, sweetie), or Autumn, the mom. Hmm… who do you think will be the first to go?
I decided in that moment that whatever they were climbing, I would climb. I regretted that after I googled “summiting half dome” the night before and just a few minutes before I put on my gloves and grabbed on to the cables.
I repeated the following mantras over and over as I climbed:
“You can do this. You’re doing it. You got this.”
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“With my God I can scale a wall.”
“Oh my God, Oh God, Oh God, help me.”
….pretty much in that order. Oh me of little faith. After coming down the face of Half Dome, on the seven mile hike back down the mountain, Kendra and I shared these thoughts with each other. I did not share the last mantra, but she piped up and said, “I think there were a couple of ‘Oh Sh*#$ in there too.”
I replied, “Oh, you heard that?” only to find out that she was referring to herself. We laughed a lot about that and I resolved that I’m glad to be friends with someone who would probably call me out on that, but from whom I could take it because I know she’s human too. I said that again after I watched her try not to face plant next to the hot tub when we were exploring the rental cabin in the dark. I love that she laughs at herself. If she didn’t, I would have felt like a terrible person and questioned her sense of humor 😉 (By the way, she’s fine. I asked several times before I laughed really loud).
I also realized how much I appreciated Aaron’s complete honesty as he described the hike to us last Sunday. After we climbed down he said, “I didn’t want to scare you out of doing it last week, but I wanted you to know what it was like so that when you did, you would really be proud of the fact that you did it. It’s a big deal.” I think if Aaron was a coach this would be his style: “It’s going to suck. You’re going to feel like you’re going to die but then you won’t and you’ll be so glad.”
I really resonate with that kind of coaching because I KNOW what to expect and I am affirmed that I can and will do it.
So far, 2015 has not been the easiest year, but it’s been one of overcoming obstacles. I’ve seen my family (extended, church and immediate) struggle through storms. Half way through the year (last week), I am realizing that many of the mountains we’ve been summiting are starting to get a little bit less steep. We’re starting to realize we can do it- with God- and that we ARE doing it.
One of the drafts I’ve started in the last few months is about my sweet Grandpa B. Grandpa died at the beginning of June, just months after Grandma in January. We will be celebrating both of their lives in Door County this summer and missing them always for the rest of our lives and especially while at the lake.
Grandpa seemed, to me, to decline quickly. He never seemed old in spirit, just in stature to someone who didn’t know him. Even on his death bed, as I looked at him, his hands looked the same, young, strong, smart, even, though I can’t explain why they looked that way. Maybe his athletic watch and his wedding ring and grandma’s too. Holding his hands in those last hours was like watching a snapshot of his life up to then. All his great accomplishments, the tender moments where he cared for us with his hands, the moments I remember him holding grandma’s hands.
I was struck with the reality I’m always trying to avoid: Life is fleeting. Life is but a breath. Even his life- which to many was long- didn’t seem long in the truest sense of the word.
Upon being asked if he needed anything during those last days, he replied “A new body.” My dad smiled when he heard this and rejoiced because he had been sharing with him parts of the book called “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. Dad and Mom gave a copy to all of us when Grandma died.
It’s a big book folks. A really big book. I love to read, but that book intimidated me for two reasons:
1) I fear what I don’t understand or can’t see (which is why I googled the half dome and probably shouldn’t have), and 2) I don’t like the book of Revelation, because…it’s scary. There you have it. I went to bible college, graduated with a double major of Communications and BIBLE, but have yet to read the entire book of Revelation because “it’s scary.”
So here I am, reading this book on vacation because Grandpa was looking forward to a new body.
This brings me back to Aaron’s coaching: “It’s gonna suck,…but you’ll do it.”
Heaven is coming and so is the new earth. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around what heaven would like look, but based on this book (which is based on the Bible and specifically the book of Revelation), it will be similar to what we know and enjoy about earth now, but so much better because it will be without the long lasting effects of sin. God will restore the earth to what it was like in the beginning before sin entered the world. He will redeem, restore and reclaim his people. But, in the meantime, we wait and, we suffer because earth in the present is still marred by sin, pain and death.
This part is going to suck….
“18“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’John 15:18-25
…but we’ll get through it. And we’ll be glad we didn’t quit.
33“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
Climb on, beloved.