Stay Connected

 As he approached the cliff’s edge he was very shaky and nervous. He looked down and slightly tugged on his harness to make sure he was hooked in. He was. He visually inspected the carabiner and figure eight to ensure they were properly attached to his harness. He had gloves on. He bang to slowly inch backwards towards the edge of the cliff.

The closer he got the more nervous he became.

He got to the edge. He froze.

He called back from the edge and begged to be pulled up. He started to go again… stopped and once more begged to be pulled up. It was the point of no return. He was over the edge. He couldn’t go back up.

Back he couldn’t go down either.

He was frozen. Neither able to go up or down. Stuck.

He was going do stay on the cliff face until he died… which fortunately wasn’t going to be long!

Before he knew it he, was rappelling down the cliff. He was still afraid, but at least now he was moving… down.

As he unclipped from the rope, he realized he had conquered his fears. He was still afraid of heights, but they had not won this battle.

In September, I had an opportunity to take two young men from the Independent Living Program at Grace Landing on a camping trip as a culmination of a mentoring program we did with them this spring/summer. The first activity of this trip was a rock climbing trip. This portion of the trip was going to push their limits and challenge their fears. If you have never gone rock climbing or rappelling before, you must pay singular attention and your focus must be on the task at hand. One of the things you learn very quickly, is being connected to the rope is critical… lifesaving.

If you aren’t connected to the rope you will die.

Hands down. There is no way around it. Losing connection to the rope, while on the rock face will end tragically. Over the course of the weekend, one of the conversations I had with the guys was as a man the very real need to stay connected to a community… but more than that, the need to stay connected to God. We are not able to navigate this life on our own. We simply can’t do it. And too many times, we men view asking for help or relying on others as weakness. It isn’t weak to recognize where you need help and then ask for help. Being a part of a community, having a support network allows us to draw on a larger range of experiences and resources to navigate the rough waters of life. Having several other dudes who care deeply about you, allows you a built in accountability network as well as confidants and friends to carry you through the tough times.

But more important than all this, is of course the connection we have to have with God. Having a community of other men is highly beneficial, but we must be connected to the ultimate source. God should be the foundation for all we do and all we are. Relying on him in tough times. Turning to him in good times. Trusting him no matter what is swirling around us in life is essential to being successful. Other people will disappoint us. It’s a matter of when, not if they will. Being connected to God allows us to manage through the times other people let us down.

I encouraged our guys to stay connected to a community, but more importantly to stay connected to God.

Wisdom

  

It’s 8:30 on a Friday night and I’m on I-75 in the middle of South Georgia. Why?
I’m heading to north Georgia with two of my independent living youth. We are headed for the culmination of a mentoring program they started on the spring. It feels a little odd to be wrapping up the mentoring program I wasn’t really a part of. But tha s kind of how it goes. 

I have mixed feelings about being away from home this weekend. Without letting the cat out of the bag, there’s a lot going on back in Orlando. Ronda and I are in the midst of praying through a big situation for us. On one hand, I want to be there with her. One the other hand, I’m looking forward to the space and clarity that comes with spending a weekend in the woods. 

I suppose that means this weekend has a twofold purpose for me. To capstone the mentoring program and solidify my place in the lives of these youth as a mentor. And to allow God to speak to and mentor me this weekend. I have high hopes for this weekend. I’m trusting God won’t let me down. He doesn’t usually. 

The Celldweller song ‘The Last Firstborn’ is playing. That song always make me think of the Apostle Paul. He claimed his apostleship cake as one untimely born. I feel that way. Not that I’m an apostle, but that I often wonder about God’s choice to love me and use me to fulfill his purposes. But he does. And I believe this weekend he is going to teach me as much as he teaches these dudes with me. 

In some ways, I really need to hear God speak to me this weekend. I need it more than I have in quite some time. We started a new sermon series at church last week on the book of James. I’ve been reading it this week. In chapter 1, James says any who lacks wisdom should ask God in faith that he give generously to the obedient. That’s where j find myself. Asking for wisdom. Asking for God’s spirit of be upon me and inform my decision-making. I want to be a spirit-filled wise leader of the family and ministry God has trusted me with. 

This seems like a good place to close… God grant me your spirit of wisdom to be a wise leader of the people you have given to me. 

17 Years

eli climbing

On Saturday (8/1), Ronda and I celebrated 17 years of marriage. I am not 100% sure if she knew what she was getting into when she married me… but I am glad she did. We have had our ups and downs and rough roads, but despite it all we love each other and have committed to work through whatever comes our way.

We celebrated this year by doing some activities that only strange, warped married couples would enjoy doing to celebrate…

We started the day off with an 8 mile run at 6:45am. Yes, we went running to celebrate.

Then I did yardwork. Then we cleaned the house.

After this, we went to a rock climbing gym.

We capped off the night with Greek food.

As you can see, we spent the day punishing ourselves by physically… this doesn’t seem right, but it’s what we did. They may seem like strange activities, but they are activities that are special to us. They are activities that speak to the core of our relationship. The first date I took Ronda on was to Mt. Currahee in north Georgia to go climbing and rappelling. We had a blast. We have continued to participate in outdoor, adventure type activities throughout our relationship. I believe it assists us in remaining together. We like the same things. We enjoy the same activities.

Mind you, this is the only ingredients in the recipe to last 17 years, but they are critical pieces. Since you asked, I will share three thoughts which I am sure have been essential in our success.

  1. She is my best friend. This may seem a little silly, but it’s true. I don’t use that term frequently… at all. Ronda is my only best friend (other than Jesus). She is the one person I would spend time with hands down everytime given the opportunity. She is the one person I would want with me no matter where I am going or what I am doing. She is my best friend.
  2. Our commitment is bigger than just us. We committed to more than just each other when we got married. We made a commitment to God. I know for a fact, it is this commitment that has saved our relationship. If the commitment was just to each other, there is always room to wiggle out of it and to allow our own sinfulness to torpedo the relationship. Bringing God into our relationship has without a doubt been the glue that has kept us together.
  3. Stubbornness. Yep, you read that right. I am certain there is some piece of Ronda (and myself) that will forever stay married to the other just so we can pridefully say we weren’t the one that gave up. I have often told Ronda, most mules have nothing on her. She will not yield her position on almost anything, just so she can win. And so will I. Of course, this is all in healthy humor. Which is the real thing, fun. We just plain have fun together. While we may frustrate and annoy each other, no one can make us laugh like we do.

Over the course of my relationship with Ronda, I have noticed she embodies and typifies Christ in ways I can only wish I do for her. She has an unwavering commitment to me that goes beyond love and devotion. It is purely supernatural in its origin. More times than not, when I see her I see Christ. In her love, I see the way Christ loves me.

We have had an incredible 17 years together and I can’t wait for 17 more.

Cooper’s Rock State Forest

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We have finally made it! We left Orlando yesterday with the intention of making it to visit my grandparents as the first leg of our family vacation. Today we Made it to their house.

Not before we made a few stops along the way. We stopped and had a picnic lunch at the New Rover Gorge Bridge, the longest arch span bridge in the western hemisphere.

I enjoy sharing with my boys experiences that I had growing up. This is the best part of being a dad, sharing my life with them.

We also stopped by Cooper’s Rock State Forest. My dad, brother and I used to camp here yearly. It was a blast. We would also climb on the hundreds of rock in the park… even the ones you weren’t supposed to climb on. Today was no different. Ronda, the boys and I climbed on a few rocks… even ones we weren’t supposed to.

Some of my fondest memories of growing up were with my dad and brother traveling. Today I was able to share two of this destinations with my boys.

I love them more than I can say. I live sharing my life with them.

Cooper's Rock State Forest

20120616-235933.jpg

We have finally made it! We left Orlando yesterday with the intention of making it to visit my grandparents as the first leg of our family vacation. Today we Made it to their house.

Not before we made a few stops along the way. We stopped and had a picnic lunch at the New Rover Gorge Bridge, the longest arch span bridge in the western hemisphere.

I enjoy sharing with my boys experiences that I had growing up. This is the best part of being a dad, sharing my life with them.

We also stopped by Cooper’s Rock State Forest. My dad, brother and I used to camp here yearly. It was a blast. We would also climb on the hundreds of rock in the park… even the ones you weren’t supposed to climb on. Today was no different. Ronda, the boys and I climbed on a few rocks… even ones we weren’t supposed to.

Some of my fondest memories of growing up were with my dad and brother traveling. Today I was able to share two of this destinations with my boys.

I love them more than I can say. I live sharing my life with them.