Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays (although Easter competes). There is a deep innate craving within me that the peace, unity and reconciliation of the kingdom would be on earth. Thanksgiving can be a small picture of this as the whole family comes together to share a meal and give thanks. At least for the evening, people seem more likely to put aside differences and share a meal together. This bit of unity, joy, and peace has always brought me tremendous peace and joy.
Family and community are intrinsic to the kingdom of God. God exists as a three-part being in constant communion: a Father, a Son and the Holy Spirit. We are born into natural families, and then are called to live in spiritual family. Family was meant to be a place of love, acceptance and growth, but many of our students (and many of our staff) didn’t experience this type of family.
Broadly speaking, within family it is painfully obvious that the kingdom is not here “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). In America divorce has become pretty normal as we have lost the meaning of true covenant. In traditional thought in Zimbabwe, children are often seen as disposable and are last in the family to receive food or care, leading to malnourishment, disease and/or starvation. All over the world, this reality of family is not a place of warmth, belonging, love, or nurturing.
In John 17 Jesus incredibly says, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me (22-23).”
The Bible also reveals God’s desires for unity and peace in eternity: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4). This unity extends beyond natural family, local church family, and into an international body of Christ.
The idea that the entire planet could be in harmony is unimaginable in our world today and seems absurd. Nonetheless, I have to admit that deep down I desire this unity for those around me, and for the world. Even though I have been injured by people, even though I have witnessed families fail, even though I have seen communities fight, even though the news always seems bad…. despite all of these things, I can’t quash the deep longing I have for the kingdom to really come to earth.
Obviously I can’t single-handedly create world peace, but in this moment, there is plenty we can do to grow love, unity and thanksgiving. Through simple acts we literally bring light to those around us, and spread kingdom on the planet. I do the seemingly small, but monumental things that I can to protect love. This includes having those difficult conversations with co-workers and being honest with my husband about how I am feeling. This includes coming out of my shell, trusting those around me with myself, and truly participating.
SROM courses provide a fantastic opportunity to practice being the body of Christ–”being one” as Christ and the Father are one. [Mind=blown] While on course you get to practice loving, peace-making, and seeing the Christ in one-another. We get to practice being vulnerable and letting others love us in our weaknesses and failures. This authentic community is often a powerful picture of the body of Christ for our students and instructors, and is a key part of how the Father uses this ministry to transform lives.
Wherever you are, I hope and pray you have a community where you can practice being one as Jesus and the Father are one. I pray this experience increases your love for Jesus, the Father, and one-another. Even though we may never get to experience the kingdom fully on earth in this life, I am comforted knowing that it is God’s desire to fill one of my deepest desires and bring authentic peace like we’ve never known before.
In 1977, Drew Arnold received the original vision for SROM while he was studying for a Hebrew exam during seminary. He took a break, dropped to his knees and began to pray.
Drew had always been passionate about using the wilderness as a context for ministry. But graduating from seminary in the late 70’s typically led to becoming a pastor.
He asked God what to do with this longing in his heart to use the wilderness as a place for evangelism and discipleship. In the midst of his prayer, God gave him a vision of the globe with points of light encircling the world.
He asked what the lights were. The Holy Spirit spoke to his heart that these points of light would be both wilderness ministry bases and people who had been influenced and equipped through wilderness ministry to be points of light in their circles of influence.
That original vision is still the guiding direction for SROM.To that aim we’re sharing a vision for the future to equip and establish more points of light around the world.
We’re “casting the net” to those of you in our circle of influence to determine if there’s a desire and passion to facilitate and lead local Pocket Wilderness Weekends in your home area.
We recognize there are people who may never go on a SROM course in Wyoming, but who would benefit and enjoy a focused time in God’s creation.
If this is interesting – even exciting – please read on for more details about our vision for Pocket Wilderness Weekend experiences…
The vision of Pocket Wilderness Weekends is to encourage believers and seekers alike to draw away to a wilderness place for a time of rest, repentance, prayer and divine encounter.
It’s a simple, yet profound purpose. Jesus Christ Himself, while ministering on earth, modeled a pattern of withdrawing to the wilderness to pray to His Father. Biblical history has established wilderness as a medium for God’s transformational and renewing presence in the lives of His people.
Luke 5:16 “As often as possible, Jesus withdrew himself to the wilderness and prayed.”
Mark 6:3 “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest for a while.”
It’s our passion that “biblical wilderness” be revived in the lives of His people: A spiritual pilgrimage within a small intimate community seeking divine encounter with God.
We believe God is highlighting Pocket Wilderness Weekends, calling Wilderness Instructors and drawing participants into a time of “biblical wilderness.” He wants to refresh His people and kindle points of light around the nation and even the globe.
Pocket Wilderness Weekends will be designed to empower God’s people to build the disciplined rhythm of:
return to the pattern of abundant life.
We want to equip each participant with the confidence, skills and passion needed to establish the discipline of “biblical wilderness.”
In order to provide a quality, biblically-based wilderness program, we’ll need to equip and establish a unique core group of instructors to lead each Pocket Wilderness Weekend.
These instructors will excel in facilitating withdrawal to “biblical wilderness” and be established as trained Wilderness Instructors.
What is the end goal of the wilderness weekend?
Pocket Wilderness Weekends will infuse scriptural meditation, prayer, solitude and intimate community into each person during their time in the wilderness.These weekends will make it easy for participants to venture into “biblical wilderness” without having to think about the logistics themselves. They’ll be able to give the time, energy and focus to completely engage in their personal journey.
How can you be involved?
Are you interested in becoming a Wilderness Instructor for Pocket Wilderness Weekends?
Here’s what it’ll include:
Facilitating the physical journey: Instructing and facilitating weekend journeys into local or regional outdoor settings. Empowering each participant to return to the wilderness again and again.
Promoting active stillness: Teaching the Gospel of Christ for life application. Modeling Christian solitude, contemplation, fellowship and prayer.
Framing of spiritual solitude: Framing times of spiritual solitude and providing opportunities for divine encounter.
Establishing authentic community: Building a fellowship of authentic community through encouragement of intentional time with God, self and others.
Are you getting excited about this? Here are basic expectations and next steps:
Wilderness Instructors will be asked to acknowledge and agree with SROM’s statement of faith
Complete a specific Pocket Wilderness Weekend instructor training. This training will be 4 to 6 days long.
There will be a cost to complete the training, which is yet to be determined.
Upon completing the instructor training, Wilderness Instructors will be expected to be the primary point person for their area. This includes planning, logistics, programming, facilitating and closure of each Pocket Wilderness Weekend.
SROM instructor Jim Yancey will be the point person for those interested in becoming a Wilderness Instructor. Please email JIm at firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know of your interest.
“Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it….” Numbers 14:24
I love being a dad! The best part about being a dad is that I get to aim all my love at my children in creative ways that is meaningful to both them and me. I do this by playing “tickle monster,” chase (they run so I can catch them), hide and scream (I hide so they can find me, I scare them, they scream), and countless amounts of hugs, kisses and cuddle moments. Amy and I take them rock climbing, hiking, swimming, skiing, and sledding. We play dolls, have tea parties, sword fights, read books, etc. The Horak house is always full of love and adventure. Needless to say, my three daughters have their daddy’s love and favor that is endless and relentless every day. Yet, even with all the love and favor I extend to them, I have noticed something that blocks them from being able to receive my love and favor. There have been times when the gift was so good that it was surrounding them, and yet they were completely blind and unable to recognize and receive what I was giving them in that moment. The blockage is this—whining and complaining. There have been moments (many moments) when as a father I am bringing them into new experiences, taking them to amazing new places, showing them new things, but because of their whining or complaining, they are completely unable to receive what I have for them at that moment. On the other hand, when my daughters lose sight of the negative, let go of their whining or complaining, and embrace the experience with a joyful/grateful heart, the experience then becomes a gift of goodness and pleasure in their lives. My daughters’ entire lives will shrink or expand in proportion to their ability to receive my love and favor.
The grace of God is the love and favor of God. Just like my daughters, your life will shrink or expand in proportion to your willingness to receive the Father’s love and recognize His favor. Scripture tells us, “Do not set aside the grace of God (Galatians 2:21)”. My daughters never intentionally rebel towards my love and favor. Even as a three and five year old, they know that is a bad decision because they will miss out. However, they do set it aside unintentionally. They set it aside through negativity, whining and complaining. They focus on what is not rather than what is. They obsess over their fears rather than their giant daddy that is with them. They get overwhelmed with the inconveniences of the moment, thus forfeiting the gift I am giving them. In many ways, this is how we treat our heavenly Father. His love and favor is aimed at us! He is on a mission to expand our lives and our experience of Him. Yet, like my daughters, we get caught in negativity and fear and the inconveniences overwhelm us. When this happens, we miss the opportunity the Father is bestowing on us and we unintentionally “set aside the grace of God”.
Look at the children of Israel. The Father delivered them from being slaves to becoming His own children, He gave them his manifest presence 24/7 (in the form of a cloud by day and fire by night), He invited them all to be worshippers and priests, He gave them food, water, and parties in the middle of a dessert. His grace was all over them! In Numbers 13, the Father was ready to give the greatest gift yet, the Promise Land. God told Moses to send 12 of the very best leaders to scout the land and bring back a report. These men did and brought back a report that the land was far beyond anything they had seen. Joshua and Caleb were two of the spies that saw the Promise Land through the lens of God’s grace and favor and extended the invitation to the Israelites to cross over the Jordan and claim the inheritance their Father had promised. However, ten of the spies amplified the obstacles and the giants and, sadly, the people latched on to this report. They began to whine, complain and focus on the negative. In the end, their fear of the obstacles cost them their inheritance. God replied to their whining, complaining, and negativity with this, “how long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have done among them?” This passage grips me! Why? Because I can act like an adult version of my daughters and no different than the 10 spies. I can easily get wrapped up in the obstacles, start whining, complaining and forfeit the moment of grace the Father has for me. Why do I bring this up? I believe as the Body, we are one “moment” away from stepping into the greatest promise yet! Destiny awaits us–we are literally one crossing away. The Father’s Grace is all over us. Yet, only those born of a different spirit will step into it. It is time to live as new creations in Christ. That is what it means to be born of a different spirit. It is time to be a Joshua and Caleb that refuses to waiver from God’s best. May we as the Body have a resounding “yes” to the Father and cooperate with His Grace—even when the obstacles may seem large and the inconveniences are real. May we lock eyes with Him and receive the grace and love he is extending to us rather than be gripped by fear and unbelief. In so doing, we will be a people who cross the Jordan and live in the Promise Land realities He has for us in the here and now.
There are few things in the backcountry that can inspire as much loathing as a bad pair of boots. Perpetually wet and blistered feet can take much of the enjoyment out of an otherwise great experience but the right boot will solve many of those problems. Solid Rock Outdoor Ministry or SROM courses can place high demands on footwear and difficult conditions can exacerbate any problems. Selecting the right footwear for your SROM course can be a challenge but we are here to help you find the right boots. This is a bit technical but hang with me for a little boot education.
The SROM 40/40 Course highlights better than any other SROM course the importance of not only having a good boot but having the correct boot. Throughout the 40/40 we experience wet and muddy trails, large temperature swings, difficult terrain, and snow. Good boots will keep your feet dry and comfortable hiking long days in these conditions but, unlike boots for our other courses, they also need to be stiff and stable for mountaineering. An ideal backpacking boot is lightweight, waterproof, breathable, supportive, and feels natural to walk in. An ideal mountaineering boot has a stiff sole to facilitate kicking steps and crampon use. This requirement generally makes full on mountaineering boots heavier and less comfortable, even feeling a bit like walking in ski boots. In selecting boots there is a tradeoff between the need for security and stability while mountaineering and comfort and efficiency while backpacking.
Most of the 40/40 is spent backpacking so one may be inclined to choose a backpacking boot to maximize comfort on the trail, however, while mountaineering the security afforded by a proper mountaineering boot inspires confidence and mitigates some risks associated mountaineering. An inappropriate boot may lead to increased risk of falls on snow or ice. During the mountaineering portion of the course it may also become painful to kick steps in the snow day after day with improper boots that fail to protect your feet. This discomfort can lead to improper technique which, again, results in increased risk. These increased risks make a basic backpacking boot a poor choice for the 40/40. For other SROM courses these backpacking boots would be ideal.
Others, wanting to feel as secure as possible on snow and ice, may wish to use an all-out mountaineering boot. This too is a mistake. While the boot will perform wonderfully while mountaineering a heavy duty mountaineering boot will likely cause other issues. The extra weight will make the long days feel longer, the extra stiff boot is more likely to cause blisters, heavier construction will take longer to dry if they get wet, they are somewhat “clunky” to walk in, and some are too warm for summer use. These factors also lead to risks: blisters can be extremely uncomfortable, even debilitating in severe case, and “clunky” boots may increase the risk of tripping or spraining an ankle.
Having owned many boots I’ve discovered that it can be tricky to find a boot that performs while mountaineering yet are also comfortable for extended backpacking. In some circles, especially in Europe, boots are categorized as B0, B1, B2, or B3 and I find this nomenclature extremely helpful.
B3 boots are to be avoided unless your SROM CIP specifically requires B3 boots. As of this publication there are no SROM courses for which B3 boots are suitable. A B3 boot is designed for heavy duty mountaineering and can be identified by an extremely stiff sole (you will likely be unable to bend it at all) as well as crampon attachments at the front and rear of the boot.
Most B2 boots are a great choice for the 40/40 but are probably overkill for any other SROM course. Be sure they are comfortable to walk in. These boots are still great for mountaineering but are much more comfortable to walk in. The easiest way to identify a B2 boot is presence of a rear crampon attachment and the lack of a front crampon attachment. The sole will also be quite stiff but you may be able to bend it a little.
B1 boots can also be a good choice for the 40/40 and most other SROM courses. For the 40/40 you will want a model closer to the top of the range with a very stiff sole and great support. These boots are often designed with heavy backpacking as the primary design consideration and will have no crampon attachments. It may be helpful to compare B1 boots to B2 boots sold at the same store; if the stiffness of the sole is similar it will likely be a great choice for the 40/40. Another way to test is the boot should be stiff enough to stand on the first half inch of the toe and still provide support for the whole foot. If the toe bends up too far or you feel strain in your foot it is probably a B0 boot.
B0 boots are essentially any boot that does not meet the criteria for the above boots and they are great on many SROM backpacking courses, though a B1 boot may be better for very heavy loads. However, they are not allowed on the 40/40 due to the additional risk they present during mountaineering. They can also be very hard to distinguish from a B1 boot. They are also, by far, the most popular boots sold in the United States and it is highly likely this is what you own if you already have a pair of hiking boots. A B0 boot may look virtually identical to a B1 boot but lacks the stiff and stable platform needed for mountaineering. Virtually all boots retailing under $200 are B0 boots as well as many that cost much more.
So… what boot should I buy? In general terms for the 40/40 buy a solid B1 or B2 boot; for other SROM courses a B0 or B1 boot is going to be more suitable, just be sure it is sufficient to support the loads you will be carrying. Consult your Course Information Packet. Try on the boots before buying them if at all possible and plan time to break them in before the course, some of the heavy leather boots may have long break in periods, sometimes upwards of 100 miles with a heavy pack. Regardless of the type of boot fit is critical. Ask a salesman for help properly fitting your boots. If using the boots for mountaineering find a hard surface, like concrete or other solid object, to firmly kick and be sure the boot protects your toes. If your toes hit the end of your boot or otherwise feel pain try another boot.
Don’t assume a boot will be great for you because someone else loves it as some foot shapes work better with certain brands and models. If you plan to continue to use your boots after a long course like the 40/40 durability is a consideration. Boots designed for lightweight and high performance can frequently sacrifice durability in pursuit of greater performance. The lighter LaSportiva Trango models, B2 boots, are the only boots that have never given me blisters no matter what the conditions. It is perfect for many of the things I love to do. The durability, however, is disappointing if you spend significant time hiking in them. With my use, I am lucky to get 2 years out of a pair but they perform so well I keep buying them. This is something to consider as boots are expensive.
The health of your feet is very important as they are your mode of transportation. Therefore, your boots are one of your most important pieces of equipment. Your comfort, safety, and success will be influenced by your choice of footwear. SROM has a list of boots that have worked well for past students and instructors but the most important thing is to find a boot in the correct category that fits properly. Good luck, please contact us with any questions regarding selecting boots for your course.
And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit,
For apart from me you can do nothing.”
When we strive in our own efforts to be good, to do and say the right thing, we are living by our works. The true gospel is a gift through grace from God to us, we cannot earn it. The minute we believe and accept the payment Jesus made on the cross for us, we come to the yoke of the Lord. His yoke is light, and we are filled with delight to work with Him, yoked side by side, instead of for Him, alongside Him, instead of under Him. There is an old Hebrew saying that, “God is like a light, prosperity, (good works, our fruit), is like the shadow. If you face the light and walk towards the light, the shadow will follow you. If you turn your back upon the light and chase the shadow, you’ll never ever catch up with it.”
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
Compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,”
No one is better, or worse, than anyone else; God shows no favoritism, or discrimination, Galatians 3:26-28. We are called to spread the fragrance of God’s goodness, 2 Corinthians 2:14, and we are even called to do it with a smile, not just of the lips, but a smile of the heart, reread Colossians 3:12. It might just be me, but that seems like a tall order. However, if we remember that Jesus has promised us that His burden is light, then even if it would be impossible for us to accomplish this lofty ideal of spreading the love of God in the face of hate, lies and destruction, we can, because we know that in our weakness He is strong, and He is the one that makes the impossible possible. I would challenge you to try to see the world from God’s perspective; it is a profound, impossible and fascinating practice. One thing I have discovered when I do this is, if I have a very difficult task at hand that will be physically, mentally, and or spiritually draining, I might not even know where to begin, I simply can choose to see it from the Lord’s point of view. Suddenly anxiety, worry and fear get washed away, because if I believe God and what He says about Himself than I know that my situation is in fact a very simple matter for Him. He loves me and He will lead and guide me through it. I know it sounds fantastical, but is spelled out in scripture many times. He is in control!
For instance, when I professed my love to my, now wife Jamie, it was not a simple matter, or topic of discussion. Most of us can relate that when you expose the depth of your heart, you quickly find that there is a lot we do not know and a lot that is out of our control. If I had tried to approach Jamie by myself, without Jesus, I probably would not have, at least not with the confidence and security I had. I gave it to Him and when I did relinquish, my perceived control in that situation, I found that I knew whatever she told me, I would be the same and that He would still love me and everything would not only be ok, but would be great. He has plans to prosper me. Once I spoke my words to Jamie it was completely out of my hands and that fact no longer terrified me, I was still nervous, but that is because I loved her and I knew that her answer would be delightful to hear, or painful. Yes, it could have been painful, even with the presence of the Lord. He lets us live out our choices, because He respects our free will. It is not freedom to do anything without consequences, but freedom to experience the fall out. Remember though, that He turns what is meant for evil to good. In this way He gives us “Godfidence!” Not by our strength, wisdom, power or will, but by His, and it is for His glory!
“For we are his workmanship,
Created in Christ Jesus for good works,
Which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Another simple way I have found very helpful when I look for God’s viewpoint is a way we can interact with the world to spread His fragrance: Speak The Truth in love, instead of speaking what is true in judgment. Let me explain. We often find ourselves judging others, even in seemingly small ways. For example, when I see a homeless person on the street, I might think, “They must not be clean, they must have had a hard go at life, they may be an alcoholic, or drug addict.” Or, if I have been wronged by someone I am often tempted to go and tell them all the things that they have done wrong and the many ways they are messing up. I might even think that I am helping them see what they are doing, so that they can change. However, it is not my place nor even remotely within my power to make them change for their benefit. It is an unwarranted arrogance to think that I can make someone change to be more like Christ. Do you like it when others point out all your failures and areas of weakness with an attitude of superiority? No, that is self-righteousness and not constructive. All it does is arouse pride, or self-pity in them and frustration and judgment within myself. The change we most likely will see is a jaded, wounded and offended heart. So, while those things I declared to them might have been true, they are not the “truth” of who they are, as God the Father sees them. God sees us as His beloved sons and daughters, who have been set free from sin and death by the work of Christ on the cross. That is truth. This is the value that we need to see in people and in ourselves. When we talk to others we should use language that communicates how we feel and what we saw, or perceived, avoiding the urge to assign motivation. We need to take ownership of our thoughts and feelings, but throw away the language of accusation and shame. Just remember, if you answer them from God’s perspective and they respond poorly to you, it is not you they are rejecting, but Christ in you. You can trust Jesus to take the entire negative interaction and turn it for our good and His glory. Have you ever seen someone show love and kindness in the face of anger and injustice? This is what it means to walk in Truth.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do!”
We are freed to live with Christ in us, knowing that the Father does not see us as sinners, but as His Son, Jesus. Once we are free of the negative traps of this world, we can focus on Love, Joy, Hope, Peace, and above all Glorifying God! We can choose to walk in the fruit of His Spirit as we undergo transformation of our mind and how we see each other and ourselves. Speak what is positive, what brings life, and trust the Holy Spirit to do the hard work on the heart.
Do you love Cheesy Goodness, but you’re tired of messy backcountry cleanups? Are you a pro-tips collector and connoisseur? Does the thought of a squeaky clean pot bring joy to your heart?
Well then, let me introduce you to [pause for dramatic effect] “Mac-in-a-bag”!!!
Those of us who enjoy a hearty Mac and Cheese dinner in the backcountry know how this delightful meal can turn into a laborious clean-up, involving scraping dried cheese and noodle remnants out of the pot. Despite my best cleaning efforts, I always seem to encounter little cheese-floaty remanence in my hot drink afterwards.
A student of mine showed me the Mac-in-a-Bag technique last summer in Rocky Mountain National Park during our Leave No Trace Master Educator Course. I thought, how appropriate, not only does this method save time but it also allows for a clean-up that minimizes grey water.
Without further ado, the “recipe” if you will…
Knife to slice butter and cheese
Stove and fuel
Pot with lid
Spoon or fork
Mug and favorite drink fixings for celebratory hot drinks!
Fresh wilderness water. If you’re in an area with silty water, try filtering it a bit with a bandanna or another method to remove some grit.
Cheese, thinly sliced or shredded. (Smoked Gouda and Pepper Jack are personal faves)
Favorite Pasta repackaged into a reusable plastic bag like a U-Line or Ziplock. The bag is key. Without it you cannot make Mac-in-a-Bag. Do check the bag for holes. Pin pricks are okay but bigger ones may cause problems. *Note: Thin ziplocks could melt. You want to use a thick U-line or Freezer style ziplock for this technique.*
Butter cut into small cubes
Spices (I go for salt, pepper and garlic as my base; and may add cilantro and basil)
Step 1) Bring your water to a rolling boil. It’s very important that it has come to a full boil to sterilize it, making it safe to drink and cook with. Water boils faster with the lid on.
Step 2) Pour in the pasta and give it a stir to break up any clumps. Stirring occasionally.
Step 3) Now that the pasta bag is empty you can toss your cheese, butter, spices and any extras into it.
Step 4) Once the noodles are cooked to your desired softness, carefully strain the water into another container (e.g. your bowl, mug or another pot) to be used again later. Then dump the noodles into the prepared bag as ASAP. For this step it is very helpful to have a buddy helping hold the bag open as you pour the noodles in.
Step 5) Twist or seal the top of the bag then massage the cheese and noodles until everything is mixed together. Remember, these noodles are HOT! Use something (gloves, bandana, jacket) to protect your fingers and hands as you mix the bag contents.
Step 6) Serve and enjoy all that Cheesy Goodness of protein, fat and carbs!
Since your pot’s already clean you might as well fire up the stove and reheat that water for some after dinner hot drinks!
Always pack out the cheesy plastic bag along with any leftover food to keep the backcountry clean and wild. Thank you!
Note: Please do not pour your noodle water straight onto the ground. If you don’t want to drink it please strain out all food particles and allow to cool before widely broadcasting away from camp and water sources. This will minimize damage to plants and avoid feeding wildlife. If you’re in bear country you should just drink the water to avoid spreading food smells around your camp.
The dreaded, shame filled, guilt ridden words that a person doesn’t actually think they will admit in their lifetime, let alone out loud. It’s like a scene from one of those Lifetime movies where you are in a stark room with fluorescent lights, brown folding chairs, Folgers coffee in Styrofoam cups and you slowly and nervously stand up in the circle of other broken people and admit out loud that you are broken. It’s terrifying and yet incredibly freeing in the sense that no one in the room is trying to tell you who you are and who you aren’t. Because they too are like you: broken and they know it.
I never intended to become an alcoholic. I don’t know anyone who does. It’s not one of those things that when you are 8 years old and talking about careers and life goals, that you stand up and say, “I want to abuse alcohol when I grow up.” No one does it on purpose. No, we use substances like alcohol to escape reality and/or self medicate for the pain in our lives.
Me & my younger sister (1988)
I grew up where beer, brats and cheese are an essential part of your life. But mostly, we midwesterners like to celebrate life events and with a party. And being of german-irish descent, it’s not a party without alcohol.
Looking back, gives me a perspective that at the time I didn’t have. I didn’t know then that I have a family history working against me. Sneakily hidden within the strains of my DNA are little holes that made it easier to get this illness we call addiction. And no matter what anyone says, it is an illness that is far more insidious than cancer. Because addiction doesn’t just destroy one life, it has the power to destroy all it touches.
I was 17 and on my first big ski trip with family to Winter Park, Colorado. It was awesome! Until while teaching my mom to downhill ski, we crashed and I tore my ACL. After surgery, the surgeon prescribed a morphine drip and a painkiller narcotic to help with recovery. I was addicted to the substances within 36 hours and after 6 hours of withdrawal symptoms, my dad had to rush me to the hospital for fluids.
I came to with IV’s in my hands, completely in pain head to toe, delirious, and had no clue how I had gotten there. At the time, no one even related the symptoms I had to a possible addiction reaction. How could they? I was a 17 year old with no previous history of ever having such strong medications.
I never partied with the other kids in high school, but college was another story. Even though I became a Christian in college, I can’t honestly say I knew what it really meant to walk in righteousness. I became a snowboard instructor and every week all the staff would go out to happy hour after work. And I drove the 1 hour long trek back from the slopes many times following tail lights back into Minneapolis where I lived and went to school. There were nights I had no clue how I got from the bar after work to my apartment.
When I tried to talk about my behavior to others, they didn’t associate my issue with an addiction. I’d get comments like, “Oh, you just go a little too far once in a while,” or “No, you just need to eat more food when you drink,” or my favorite, “You’re not an addict, you just need to learn moderation.”
I’d like to say that it was right away that I turned my life around and got help. But it wasn’t until much, much later. I started guiding for a wildernessaddiction therapy place in the Pacific Northwest doing backpacking along the Olympic Coast, winter camping in the Cascades, and sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands in 2014. On these 2 week treks, we would have what’s called group. It’s like AA, but in the wilderness and actually so much better. It wasn’t until I started hearing their stories that the rose colored glasses I’d been wearing shattered.
“I am an addict,” I thought.
It was a sudden and piercing moment for me. I tried to ignore it for a little bit, but I couldn’t anymore. I had been running from adding that label to my identity for so long that I was frightened to add it now. But after one night in October 2014 and driving the mile home and not recalling how I gotten home, I literally fell on my face weeping. I spoke to God and said I didn’t want to do it anymore and thanked Him for not only protecting me, but others in my foolish choices that could have cost lives. Driving drunk as many times as I had, there could have been much more fatal consequences.
I repented right then and there. I dumped all that I had in my house that night. Even the cooking wine down the drain. I called friends and family and shared my heart and my struggles. I went to my director at the therapy place and came clean with him. He was awesome and slapped me on the back and said, “Welcome to the club sister.” And I did. I felt welcome, broken, but free. And I went to AA. It was hard, but so worth it.
And not everyone saw what I did inside of me, and tried to tell me that nothing was wrong. As much as those people love me and I love them, I knew that they were the ones who were incorrect. Because I came to find out that it takes great humility and great courage to admit when you are broken and need help. That there is great freedom to be had in facing adversity and overcoming it.
I have been sober for 3 years, 5 months, and 5 days at the time of this writing. And I haven’t looked back. Have I been tempted? Absolutely! And I ran so fast from that temptation I don’t know if anyone really knew how close to disaster I was. These days, I still go to AA. I have an incredible faith community around me who love and support me in my daily walk in being alcohol free. But I am still young in my sober life and I look forward to celebrating my 30 year anniversary in sobriety someday.
Now, I wear this identity as a badge of honor. I can say “Hi my name is Laura, and I’m an addict,” and not feel terrified, but full of hope. I share my story of addiction because I do not feel shame or guilt. I share openly how my struggles are mine, and I overcame them sometimes at great cost to myself. And I am thankful every day for the chance to have broken free when I did.
Now, every breath I get to breathe is a gift. Every paddle stroke moving me through the water is a blessing. Every snow covered slope I rip down on my snowboard is healing. Every agonizing step higher on a trail with a full backpack is full of hope. Because a miracle happened in me, and I was able to break the chains of addiction to make my Great Escape into living life abundantly through a lot of humility, hard work, my repentance and complete surrender to Christ Jesus. And as the song says, “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back! No turning back!”
What is cumulative impact? In the outdoor world, the phrase is a bit of a buzzword describing the effects of many individual actions upon a given environment. For example, if one person takes a different path around a muddy area in a trail, you can’t see any impact initially. However, if 20 people take the same alternate path around the mud, multiple trails form.
Most people emphasize the negative consequences of cumulative impact—“If everyone left their trash around, this place would be a disaster; if everyone picked the Columbine flower, there wouldn’t be any left to reproduce for the next season.” However, cumulative impact can also be seen in a positive light, which is a much more encouraging way to think about the process. It might not feel like my responsible actions are doing much, but my contribution is significant. If no one believed that their actions mattered, or thought only of themselves—well the result is a “tragedy of the commons.” If you aren’t familiar with the concept, tragedy of the commons describes a trend of diminishing shared resources when the individual good is valued over the communal good. Fisheries is an example often given. If each fisherman/boat/company takes as much fish as was profitable with no regard to how much everyone else was fishing, there often results a collapse of fish populations. (Another frequent example is the shared office refrigerator. Ew!) A tragedy of the commons is clearly a negative cumulative impact.
It might be obvious, but the concept of cumulative impact relates to more areas of life than just environmentalethics. Eating extra dessert one day may not significantly affect your health; however, eating extra dessert every day can make you gain weight (among other effects). When teaching Leave No Trace on SROM courses, I often apply the concept of cumulative impact to our spiritual lives and walk of faith. The choices that we make every day affect who we become. As a part of the body of Christ we can each choose to contribute to beneficial or positive cumulative impacts in our own lives and the lives of others. By seemingly small decisions we join the beneficial cumulative work for God’s kingdom. Think of snow; a small amount of snow creates muddy puddles and brings water. On a larger scale snow brings moisture to vast watersheds, creates avalanches, builds glaciers, and carves the earth. Snow is made up of individual snowflakes, each uniquely made. The body of Christ is meant to change to the world through God’s love, which begins with each individual. As Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
2 Corinthians 13:14 says: “The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
As the Apostle Paul closes out his second letter to followers of Jesus at Corinth he writes these final words. I have always read these words as a concluding prayer of Paul over the Corinthian church.
These words come at the end of a letter where Paul is often frustrated and harsh with the believers in Corinth. Yet, it is one of the fullest concluding benedictions or blessings of all Paul’s letters. It is almost as though the entire letter he wrote in the preceding chapters is summed up in this one sentence.
Paul is encouraging, declaring, praying over the people that they would experience and enjoy the grace, love and fellowship of the Trinity.
Through the years, I have prayed this verse over my life, family, spiritual family and those in my sphere of influence. For me this short verse captures the heart and purposes of God for His children.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all
This is the heart of the gospel. The grace of Jesus empowers us to be like Him. Without the grace of Jesus we have nothing. We are poor in every way without the grace of Jesus, and yet because of His grace we have all things!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9
The response is to freely receive! My prayer becomes: I receive Your supernatural, all sufficient grace right now that empower me in all things!
It is the grace of Jesus that makes a way to receive the love of God.
May the love of God be with you all
It is the love of Abba that leads us to repentance and life. It is the love of God that sustains all things. I need God’s love on a daily basis. I need to continually experience and more fully enjoy the love of Abba in an ongoing way.
The love of God is not static or something of the past. It is dynamic and ever present. My heart and spirit can interact and commune with the love of God or grow hard and cold and push away God’s love. I want to be aware of God’s love and open-hearted to receive His love.
In my own life, I am father of three amazing children. Our relationship, interaction and communion is reciprocal. If I come into the living room or sit down at the table to be with them and spend time together they have a choice to reciprocate my initiative.
They can choose to listen, respond, ask questions, laugh, cry, love and play with me. I have created a space to be with them but it is still their choice to be with me.
In the same way, the Father has created access and an intimate space to be with Him, through the grace of His Son Jesus. However, it is still my choice to receive that grace and step toward the Father’s arms and heart to receive His love and attention.
Yet, in choosing to receive grace and experience love the deepest longings and desires of my heart are met in Him. So my prayer is that I would move toward the Father’s presence to freely receive and enjoy His love.
May the fellowship and intimacy of the Holy Spirit be with you all
Fellowship is a powerful word. Paul uses the Greek word koinónia. It is a word that denotes intimacy, communion, shared life, joint participation and community.
Paul is praying that God’s people would enjoy a deep and life changing fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit. Similar to the love of God, the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit is not static nor historical.
The influence and presence of the Holy Spirit is dynamic, ever present and empowering.
Paul’s prayer is that God’s people would enjoy a close intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit. So my prayer also is that I experience the communion, shared life, joint participation and intimacy of the Holy Spirit.
It is transformative when I live in deep connection with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Father and Son’s gift to us while we still live on this earth. I want to enjoy the gift while I’m here!
Today and in the coming days, weeks and months I want to encourage you to pray this verse over your life, family and sphere of influence.
As you pray, personalize the words and allow the Trinity to strengthen and empower you with Their grace, love and fellowship.
As the Apostle Paul closes out his second letter to followers of Jesus at Corinth he writes these final words. I have always read these words as a concluding prayer of Paul over the Corinthian church. These words come at the end of a letter where Paul is often frustrated and harsh with the believers in Corinth. Yet, it is one of the fullest concluding benedictions or blessings of all Paul’s letters. It is almost as though the entire letter he wrote in the preceding chapters is summed up in this one sentence. Paul is encouraging, declaring, praying over the people that they would experience and enjoy the grace, love and fellowship of the Trinity. Through the years, I have prayed this verse over my life, family, spiritual family and those in my sphere of influence. For me this short verse captures the heart and purposes of God for His children.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. This is the heart of the gospel. The grace of Jesus empowers us to be like Him. Without the grace of Jesus we have nothing. We are poor in every way without the grace of Jesus and yet because of His grace we have all things! “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9 The response is to freely receive! My prayer becomes, I receive your supernatural, all sufficient grace right now that empower me in all things! It is the grace of Jesus that makes a way to receive the love of God.
May the love of God be with you all. It is the love of Abba that leads us to repentance and life. It is the love of God that sustains all things. I need God’s love on a daily basis. I need to continually experience and more fully enjoy the love of Abba in an ongoing way. The love of God is not static or something of the past. It is dynamic and ever present. My heart and spirit can interact and commune with the love of God or grow hard and cold and push away God’s love. I want to be aware of God’s love and open-hearted to receive His love. In my own life, I am father of three amazing children. Our relationship, interaction and communion is reciprocal. If I come into the living room or sit down at the table to be with them and spend time together they have a choice to reciprocate my initiative. They can choose to listen, respond, ask questions, laugh, cry, love and play with me. I have created a space to be with them but it is still their choice to be with me. In the same way, the Father has created access and an intimate space to be with Him, through the grace of His Son Jesus. However, it is still my choice to receive that grace and step toward the Father’s arms and heart to receive His love and attention. Yet, in choosing to receive grace and experience love the deepest longings and desires of my heart are met in Him. So my prayer is that I would move toward the Father’s presence to freely receive and enjoy His love. May the fellowship and intimacy of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Fellowship is a powerful word. Paul uses the Greek word, koinónia. It is a word that denotes intimacy, communion, shared life, joint participation and community. Paul is praying that God’s people would enjoy a deep and life changing fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit. Similar to the love of God, the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit is not static nor historical. The influence and presence of the Holy Spirit is dynamic, ever present and empowering. Paul’s prayer is that God’s people would enjoy a close intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit. So my prayer also is that I experience the communion, shared life, joint participation and intimacy of the Holy Spirit. It is transformative when I live in deep connection with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Father and Son’s gift to us while we still live on this earth. I want to enjoy the gift while I’m here!
Today and in the coming days, weeks and months I want to encourage you to pray this verse over your life, family and sphere of influence. As you pray, personalize the words and allow the Trinity to strengthen and empower you with Their grace, love and fellowship.