Monday, January 29, 2018
Thursday, January 25, 2018
For nearly 15 years, once a month I have gone into the mountains to practice the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude. I learned this first from my mentor, Bob, in 2001 and practised this monthly with him from 2001-2005.... and then it was reinforced by my friend Jay who did this with me for nearly a decade. My literary mentor, Brennan Manning once wrote:
I have found that once a month, if I practice stillness....I connect with Jesus in profound ways.…it takes time for me to be still, to come to that place of inner quiet. Stillness is more than silence and it is beyond solitude. Interior stillness is too deep for words. Unhampered by self-consciousness, our attention is focused entirely on God and His love.
Last month I took my son, Noah, to the mountains with me to learn this discipline. I wonder if one day he will will answer Jesus’ invitation to him to “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31). I'm trying to teach my kids this art in a world filled with busyness, media, marketing, and productivity.
My former professor Eugene Peterson once wrote,
Spirituality means, among other things, taking ourselves seriously. It means going against the cultural stream in which we are incessantly trivialized to the menial status of producers, and performers, constantly depersonalized behind the labels of our degrees or our salaries. But there is far more to us than our usefulness and our reputation, where we’ve been and who we know; there is the unique, irreproducible, eternal, image-of-God me. A vigorous assertion of personal dignity is foundation to spirituality.
I have discovered that silence and solitude are a means to discover my "made-in-God's-image-ness". So, the last Friday of every month I take a half-day to practice what Emily Dickinson calls "Renunciation–the piercing virtue"....rejecting my deep seeded compulsions for productivity, efficiency, self-promotion, and self-direction.
These are good days.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
One of the greatest joys in our life is to expose our friends and family to rock climbing outdoors. Many people automatically dismiss rock climbing as a daredevil pursuit...but that's not the way we pursue vertical terrain. We are cautious by nature and safety is always our first priority.
It's important to try new things. We remember what it was like to transition from hiking and backpacking to rock climbing all those years ago. Though, we remember our first day on the rock like it was yesterday. Jay Ewing took us to Alice Rock in Squamish, BC. It was there we began to learn from him about how to stay safe, climb with technique, and enjoy a new mode of transportation in mountain environments.
When we take people climbing our priorities are as follows:
Keep it achievable
Another practice of ours is to not make climbing the focus. There are LOTS of ways to enjoy mountain environments and part of helping people fall in love with a place is to help them experience that place in many different ways.
Over the years we have taken many many dozens of people climbing for the first-time....it's a great joy for us.
Thanks Jay for taking us out all those years ago....staying so patient, so safety conscious, and setting us up to climb in such a way that we could not only benefit from climbing but also pass it's joy onto others.
These are good days.
Saturday, January 6, 2018
Today is my 35th birthday. 5 years ago on my 30th birthday year we did an Ironman triathlon. It was really fun and we were really fit. But this year, my 35th year, I believe is going to be my healthiest year yet.
I am calling it my "year of health"....and it includes even more fitness than when I was 30. I want to experience more spiritual fitness -- specifically more silence and solitude for communion with the Lord. I want to experience more emotional fitness - more gratitude and more grace. I want to experience more physical fitness - I am training for two half-marathon trail races this year.
For years, Heidi wakes up early on my birthday to set out picture of my past which represent stories worth remembering. It was striking how many were pictures of me in the mountains, on dates, at church, and with friends - these are the things of health.
Please pray for me that this year is my healthiest year yet!
These are good days
Friday, December 29, 2017
The goal was to take our little nephews and nieces climbing. It didn't go well.
What do you do when life doesn't go the way it's supposed to? Are you the person who shuts down, gets in a funk, or starts blaming others? I've been that person.
If the mountains have taught me anything over the years it's that....the best adventures are on the other side of failed plans -- that's probably true of life as well.
We hoped to go climbing...and ended up throwing snowballs. Not a bad finish to the day.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
It's cliché to say, "it goes fast." But....it does. It goes fast.
We asked her what she wanted to do on her birthday,
she said, "I want to wake up and open presents, eat breakfast, go on a hike, pick up my cousin to play at our house, and sleep in a tent tonight."
lol. OK, that works.
Let's do it!
Here is a picture journey from this morning:
...and tonight it's tent life.
It goes fast and we are loving every moment of it!
These are good days
Saturday, December 23, 2017
The Christmas season is crazy for our family.
3 birthdays in December
2 birthdays in January
....that's 5 birthdays in 32 days.
Heidi's birthday was earlier this month...and to celebrate, she wanted to go rock climbing.
We climbed a very fun climb at Tollhouse Rock named the Tollhouse Traverse with a few variations mixed in.
We have been climbing together for over a third of our lives. We have climbed all over the world on many different types of rock....but California's granite has to be some of the best out there!
Something I love about Heidi is that she has never been "scared" of climbing. For her, the antidote to fear is curiosity. She is a learner and has a insatiable appetite to acquire new skills. This has made climbing a life-long pursuit for for the both of us.
Tollhouse Traverse follows a beautiful sweeping crack in the Sierra foothills high above California's central valley below.
That evening we changed clothes and went on a date. Climbers by day, dinner dates by night! ...and no, we didn't shower...we aint' got time for all that!
These are good days!
Saturday, December 16, 2017
We think it's important to have daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms of rest. These are habits designed to create space for you to exhale. We think you need that. You need to exhale! Sometimes when I rock climb I notice that I'm holding my breath during hard moves. This is true of life. When you're striving and struggling and trying to achieve, it's easy to stop focusing on what restores you. Rhythms of rest help you re-focus and renew your strength — they help you exhale.
Once a day, when the kids go to bed, we have made a habit of stopping important work. We stop cleaning, and preparing, working, and the endless other set of tasks that never seem to get done. Once a week we take a Sabbath day. If you've followed our blog for any length of time you have heard us talk about this. Then once a month we take a two day Sabbath. We string together a Saturday and a part of Sunday to be at the beach. Then, once a year we take four weeks to rest outside of the town in which we live. That's it! That's our rhythm of rest.
It's time to exhale, friends.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Recently we did a family 5k just for the fun of it. But we got SURPRISED. Our 5 year old, Josiah, ran a 10ish minute mile for 5km without stopping. How is that possible ?????
Sometimes in the evening after dinner and before bed, Josiah will ask if he can go on a run with either Heidi or I. A couple times a week we take him running in the dark through downtown Fresno. Recently we went 6 miles with him and he only stopped a couple times. Amazing!
Elizabeth on the other hand says she doesn't like running. Though, we're not sure if that's true...because in the mountains she LOVES to trail run and hike uphill. Running on the road she says is, "boring."
Do Noah and Joel like running, you ask? They are totally useless and are more interested in beating each other with twigs then running. ...although, just last night Noah asked if he could go for a run with me. Maybe the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Saturday, December 9, 2017
The key to having a great time in any setting is adding variety to the experience. When you're at Disneyland....don't just ride the rides....eat and see a live show. When you're at a party...don't just talk to the same person all night....find the loneliest person and strike up a conversation. Variety. It makes any experience better.
The same is true in the mountains. The best experiences in the mountains are the ones that have lots of variety. On one occasion with my friend Jay, we backed off a climb because we got scared. There's never shame in that....backing off adds variety to an experience!
We found another climb that made more sense for us on the day -- a beautiful slab with a beautiful view of a lake from the summit. Variety.
Back at camp....more variety: Food & Fire & Friends. My three essential "F's".
There's actually another "F" that is deeply important to me.
Alpine sunsets always bring me to faith.
Variety: Food, Fire, Family, Faith.
....oh wait...there's another "F" I forgot! Fun! Swimming in a cold alpine lake is fun!!
We also found a climb that we knew our kids would have loads of fun on. It was easy and wonderful! They loved every second!
...they also loved hiking around on a beautiful granite slab. Fun!
....oh wait. More variety. We forgot another essential "F". Family.
Food Fire Friends Faith Fun Family
These are good daysFollow @joeandheidi