Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Life and Death on the Mountain

It is less than 4 hours till I leave with my 15-year-old daughter on one of the most important trips, to date, of our life. We will spend seven days in the mountains hunting bear and elk with just what we can carry on our backs.

Now I know many adults will think I have lost my mind. The idea of being in the wilds for nine days (we have to be there before hunting season starts to set up and get ready) without running water, electricity, email, cell phones or anything else, well to some that is just nuts. I tell you on some levels I think it may be.

Seems there are more than a few of my daughter’s friends who think she is crazy. Not only all the outside elements she will be faced with but what about being with just your dad for that long. They question the idea of the long drive up with just me, no hair care products to speak of, no texting.

But as I look at the gear I believe we have what we need. A Katadyn Vario water purification system, Jetboil cooking system, Coleman tent and sleeping bags, Mountain House dehydrated meals, Bushnell Backtrack GPS and an Icon Rogue flashlight. Some of the finest gear available. We have trained over the last months at the gym and running. There is really no way in the flat lands to prepare completely for the altitude and the weather. This summer in a test run we did really well at 7 & 10,000 feet, acclimating pretty fast, this is crucial.

I know the area pretty well and my oldest brother knows it real well in case we don’t report in on time. He has property just a half day horse ride below and he taught me the way of the elk and how to hunt them. He is a great elk hunter. He completed the “holy grail” of elk hunting several years ago when he packed back into the national forest on horseback and killed a monster bull elk with his bow.

I have put on a nice layer of fat to keep me warm. The temperature this time of year in the mountains where we are going averages about 20. It can get up to the 50’s during the day but for us, in the dark hunting the timber, it will remain cold. The snow has come in plenty of times on me there and can slow you down but it helps a lot when your tracking so there is some give and take.

The real test here, the real motivator for me is the time with my daughter. She can be tough and has proven herself worthy of this trip with high grades, no discipline problems, hard work and she is a great hunter as well.

I have a lot going on right now – lots of emails I can send out or reply to, lots of phone calls I can make, lots of things to get done. The problem is that will always be there. I have never had a day when I did not have something I could do. I have a few moments in my life where I heard God speak to me and tell me to invest time into something, go somewhere, talk to someone, do something and this is one of them.

I have plenty of times already in my life I regret. I have times I have laid on the couch and ignored what I knew I should be doing, went hunting when I needed to be home or shopping, or drinking or getting into trouble. Life is full of regrets and so many of them are ones we elect to bestow upon ourselves.

Today I will embark on an adventure with my daughter. It may fail, we may get run off the mountain by weather, not see any big game or worse. But God is going to lead us and bless us in this time together. William Wallace (Braveheart)once said something like, “ Will you not fight for your country’s freedom? Will you leave and return to the comforts of your home as your neighbors and countrymen die here today? Will you wake up one day, living a life of regret, regret you did not fight the fight and die with honor? Today I choose to fight, I choose freedom.”

God’s Speed –

Monday, October 5, 2009

Old Man River and the Rain

I love the flowing waters of a river or mountain stream. My spirit is calmed by the sounds of the water flowing over the rocks and across the gravel banks. Just the thought of a clear mountain stream in Colorado can take me there. Then there is the warm red waters pushing lazily by in a mighty river in Texas. They are both moving waters consoling to my soul.

The vast reservoirs of water in central and south Texas have also earned a place in my heart. Some are huge and serve as water supplies for drinking, farming, household and industrial uses. Many times I have explored these reservoirs and they are reticent chapters in the memories of my life.

Water is said to be the great reliever and for me when I feel out of sorts a shower can be one of the things that brings me back to center. I have taken several showers in a day on bad days when nothing seems to be going right or I don’t feel well physically. Water, in so many ways, seems to bring me back to start and I can begin again.

I have long been one who has tried to please others and God by doing all the right things. For years when anyone asked me to help set-up at church, help with a Sunday school class, visit with a wounded member I was first in line. I preached a calling to everyone who went to our church to take on as much as I had, I challenged them.

The whole thing really carried the stench of pride and ego. The need is there and the acts were good and thoughtful so how could that be wrong? If you know of a need, do it. Don’t come to the table with a complaint or problem unless you are willing to be a part of the solution. Pull yourself up by your boot straps. Pray this way and study this scripture, do it like me.

Then it hit, a wall I could not overcome, I was drained. God’s loving compassion for this egotistical shell of a man took me out of it all. He removed all the comforts of my routine; He removed the confines I had built that kept me comfortable in my world. I took a job out of town and was away from my family most days for 11 months.

God placed me in a quiet place for almost a year. Over that period I began to detox. The things I thought so important faded and my heart began to heal. I began to seek a feeling, something I longed for that I had filled with busy Christian works. I could not figure out what it was exactly but the hole in my heart was emptied of all my good works and deeds and readied it for His love.

OK, so if you’re a regular guy like me, I guess some of this stuff sounds pretty soft and fluffy. I don’t know where a lot of it comes from, it just comes – but I am learning that the word love is a big deal and that God’s love is what I am seeking. It is hard to explain how deep and profound the feeling is even in the smallest bits and pieces. I was looking for a lightning bolt, it was a small pat on the back, a hand on my shoulder. The deal is when I finally found out what it is, how it feels, I am hungry for it. It is like trying to match a great shot at the golf course or a big fish on the line, for ladies maybe finding a great pair of shoes on sale or a good hair day. You spend large time trying to get that feeling again, you think about it, all the nuances that surrounded it, it makes you smile and feel warm and good. That is what finding the love of God does. You don’t get it every shot, not every cast, not every shopping trip, but you strive for it anyway, you want it.

John Eldredge talks about how a river can flow constantly but a reservoir need to fill up before it can spill over. He talks about how good it is to be so full of God’s love in us that it spills over into the lives of those around us. There are a lot of references to the flowing river throughout scripture – but for me – the auto pilot mechanical Christian, water in - water out was not working. Now I am asking for God’s rain to fill my reservoir.

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain
(Mercy Me)

TJ Greaney

PS: I liked this line but could not figure out how to fit it in…
– another great cast down the fairway catching a really nice shoe on sale right after a good haircut.…perfect…..