Category Archives: recovery

Lessons from the Fire

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Lessons from the fire

What can we learn about life from rebuilding a fire that has nearly gone out? Do the steps to rebuild a fire sound similar to the steps you can take to rekindle passion for your spouse, your church, your job or an abandoned hobby?

I’ve spent many nights staring into the fire and thinking about life. I’ve studied the embers and asked God a lot of questions. The fire has many lessons to teach. Let’s explore one lesson together…with all the steps in how To Rebuild a Fire.

1. When the passion has nearly gone out, move evenly and with moderation in your thoughts and be slow to speak. Haste to speak and act are the enemy of rebuilding passion. It is so easy to make things worse by jumping to conclusions and flinging blame. So be thoughtful and move carefully just like you would with a dying fire.

2. Take a stand emotionally and physically if necessary against the things that are blowing out your passion. The winds of being too busy, too tired, too stressed and too distracted need to be blocked.

3. Carefully lift each piece of your schedule and position the things that excite passion toward the center of your life. Plan to do the things and say the words that brought warmth to your soul and to others when your passion was strong. Go back to what was working. Make many small adjustments like you would with a dying fire until the warmth begins to rise.

rekindle4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the warm pieces of wood. This step is suppling yourself with the tools that are oxygen to your passion. Dating is oxygen to a marriage. A class might be oxygen to a tired old job. Volunteering in a different way might breath life back into your church life. Blow away some of the ash that has covered up your true joy and give it fuel.

5. When your air is gone, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. When we get into life deep with all the doing, doing, doing, you will need to back away from the toxins of your day and draw healthy air in from time with God, reading His Word and listening to Him. Back away from too much doing and focus on being. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Keep at it! When you pick something in your life that needs to be reinvigorated, keep at it—don’t give up! Repeat till you get a flame. Be aware that it will often burst into flame just at the end of a long breath when your lungs are empty.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the flame begins to grow. Don’t try to change everything at once. Be choosy and be careful.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size of flame. Be a good manager of what you have rekindled. What ever heart desire you picked to rekindle is worth managing carefully.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind. Take steps to build in protection for what you have rescued and lay in more fuel for the future to prevent another slow decline.

My Honey is a master at knowing when to step back from the doing and focus on being. She has a connection with our Creator that is a blessing. She is a canary in the coal mine—her sensitivity to what can damage our passion for each other is an early alarm system that I trust. She loves that I do the steps to build a fire.

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What passion do you want to rekindle? I encourage you to write out the actions you will take and get started.

Hiking with Broken Lenses—6 Ways to See More Clearly

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Our backyard. Do you see a weed, an allergen, pretty flowers for a vase or picture? What do you lenses let you see?

Look at a beautiful mountain scene or a pretty flower and tell me what you see…  Do you see beauty, reality and imperfections? What are you focusing on? Are you seeing accurately—whats really there? I propose that we are all hiking with broken emotional lenses.

I’ve stayed in places where the mirror was cracked and my face didn’t look quite right looking back at me. I’ve worn glasses since the second grade and have had to see through real broken glass lenses. Many times on the trail I’ve had to stop and clean my glasses because of sweet, fog or rain. No matter what the condition I am only seeing what I’m seeing—it is altered by my lenses. These are some physical examples of the emotional reality I’m thinking about.

We don’t see what is real with exact accuracy when we look at the one we love. We see what we see—yes! But it comes through our culture, gender, personality, experiences, knowledge…and damage. We don’t really know what the other person is feeling or what they meant by what they said. We get better at it over time but much will always be lost because of our lenses. Here are 5 things I try to do to help me cope with my perception—what I think I see:

1.  First, I ask God to help me see her the way He does. She is His daughter first and His beautiful creation.

2. I try to remember that what I see is filtered. My Honey’s behavior is actually only my perception of her behavior.

3. I attempt to filter what I’m perceiving though who I know her to be. I try to make assumptions that give her the benefit of any doubt in the positive direction of my knowledge of her love.

4. Process any thing that hurts in a mixing bowl of all the times she has told me how positively she feels—loves and respects, trust and highly regards.

5. Ask for clarification when what I hear, see or think I experience doesn’t line up with what I know and believe about her. Then listen carefully.

6. Act on what I believe is noble, chivalrous and of good character. Lead with gracious loving sacrifice.

Do I do this well? No. She may actually give me more credit than that but I know that I am still refining this process. Perfecting the process of seeing clearly is a life long pursuit. These are some of the things that help me deal with my broken lenses and the distortion that I see while I hike with my Honey.  She’s worth all the effort!

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Before you react or even gently respond to your Honey, could you check you lenses a little bit more? Could you be a bit off in your perception of her? It’s worth some thought…yes? She is certainly worth it:)

Why Do You Hike?

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Getting down to the roots of a thing

Why do I love to hike? I get this question a fair amount—sometimes in the form of “Are you crazy?” That usually happens when I sleep on the ground by the fire in the snow or when I stay for three days in a downpour and don’t go home. But the kind of hiking my Honey and I do draws out a more gentle version of that question. Here is part of the answer:

1. At the base of what my Honey and I do is a heritage of loving the outdoors. My Dad loved nature. We took long drives just to look at the mountains and then at night we would stand silently for long periods of time in the edge of a meadow waiting for the whippoorwill to call and echo.

2. Scripture—Dad would quote Psalm 121 verses 1 & 2 from the Bible: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” There is a renewal we experience when we go get in the hills and look at the beauty—God visits us there.

3. My love of Davy Crockett—King of the Wild Frontier and his coonskin hat, a bowie knife in a leather sheath and my childhood hero.

4. My love of Daniel Boone—leather clothes and a long rifle shot well…another childhood hero.

5. Wandering off by myself to follow a rabbit trail in the snow when I was 11 hoping for a shot with my BB gun. Finding that a Fox had beaten me to it—seeing a large circle of messed up snow with furry remains every where.

6. Being in the mountains of West Virginia and walking to my Aunt’s house through the woods. Getting to hear the sound of the wind in the pines and the rush of water in the brook I was following. The peace I felt there.

7. The book My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George about the boy named Sam that leaves New York City and lives in the Cat Skills on his own for a year.

These are some of the things that shaped my thoughts and cause me now almost daily to hear the call of the mountains. These influencers are powerful but I really believe it is just hard wired in me. Hiking wasn’t really part of my family culture growing up. Dad loved nature but not hiking… but yet I loved it and was shaped by those who loved it.

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A healed and happy life!

Getting an idea of why you are who you are is useful but is not always critical to me. I like to understand it but it’s not a consuming desire. I’m happy in my own boots and my Honey is happy beside me in her boots…so I can look back and see the thread through my life and I am thankful.

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If something is broken, I encourage you to look for the contributing things and pursue the solution. I went once a week for a year to a Christian counselor when I was truly broken, angry and suicidal. The truth of how much God really loves me changed me.

If things are working, I encourage you to look for the cause so you can be thankful for it. Then spread the good news about what works.

 

 

A Beautiful “Do Over” Moonlit Night

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“Our favorite time of light when the sun kisses the night”

“Fighting is terrible but at least you get to make up,” someone said to me once.  I’m not a big fan of this idea but when making up follows real resolution, I’m all about that.  Still seated in the coffee shop where we hashed out the 9 Ways to Decorate Your Camp Site…our skin was suffering from the hot air outside and the air inside was still warm from the fiery debate. But our hearts were aglow with the joy and satisfaction of having been heard and appreciated. Unsure what to do now with this hard earned vacation day, we just sat pondering over our useful solution to our ugly problem.

It was in the happy but tentative silence of that moment that my Honey quietly asked a question: “Is there any part of you that wants to try this again?” I immediately responded, “yes”.

Almost without words we committed to each other to do the same primitive night between the dunes and the waves of the Gulf that we had tried to do the night before. With the energy of excitement over certain success, we repacked all our gear and checked our supplies.

Back to Perdido Key we went. Our park pass that cost only $15 dollars for the week was still good so we whipped the car in behind the Ranger’s Station and filled out another primitive back country registration form.  We giggle as we drove in with that deja vu feeling…or maybe more like the movie Ground Hog Day where the main character got to repeat the same day over and over until he got it right.

We dove past all the public beaches, past the last legal parking spot and down to the end of the blacktop. We made a nest for Loral to soak up the sun and watch the waves and I drove the half mile back to park the car. I returned to kiss my Honey and help her into her backpack. We made silly puns and meandered along the shore looking for perfect sea shells.

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My Honey – so happy to be barefoot in the sand!

My honey was barefooted, clad in her one piece bathing suit and 40 pound pack. She walked on the packed wet sand and let the waves tickle her toes. I have a bit of bad background with direct sunlight so I was in my hat, long sleeves, pants, boots and 60 pound pack.  I walked along in the loose sand and occasionally on the packed sand when I could dodge the waves.

We stopped and talked to fisherman and other campers while we covered almost a mile more of beach to get to a secluded spot. With all that we learned we discussed how we would set up camp satisfying all our practical concerns and her nesting decorating concerns. Camp was perfect and our meandering trip through the dunes carefully stepping around the protected vegetation was peaceful.

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The dunes washed in pastel light

We set up our tiny chairs on the other side of the key, got out our snacks and water and settled in to wait for the most glorious sunset we have seen to date.  The fish jumped from the water and the birds flittered all around as if celebrating our restored joy. As the sun melted into our Favorite Time of Light we held hands and gushed on and on about the beauty of what God had made.

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Wow!

We slipped back to our camp – which looked awesome as we approached – and throughly enjoyed our evening and night under the biggest full moon I have ever seen. We slept with the flaps open on the tent letting the gulf breeze blow through and carry away the heat and cares of the day.

The next morning we spent in our beach cabana reading our Bible and talking to the Creator. We watched the hermit crabs surface tentatively from their holes and scurry back at the least sign of danger. We watched the fish jump and the birds float on the air currents and then reluctantly left that happy time to pack up and break camp.

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Camp is ready and we are off to the sunset

Loral jumped in the water to prepare for the hot hike back and once again I covered up from head to toe to lead the way to the car. This chance to repeat what had been so badly damaged was such a special treat. Thank God we get the chance sometimes for a “do over.”

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Is there something you need to hash out with your Honey to get resolved and move on? Is there any way to get a “do over” to reclaim what was lost?

9 Ways to Decorate Your Camp Site

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Decorating Diva 🙂

What? Decorate? Who knew? Come on guys – tell me the truth. How many of you knew that pitching a tent was considered decorating? Or maybe I’m just the only guy that didn’t get this. My Honey and I used to fight or at least be at odds over setting up camp almost every time.  The tension was thick and when we camped with friends they would notice it too. We loved the whole of the outdoor adventure so much that we would smooth it over each time and move on to happier things.

One particularly awful fight over the campsite arrangements resulted in nearly ruining a perfect full moon night. We managed to still enjoy some parts of the evening but the next day, we packed up and hiked back to the car. We were almost ready to give up on the whole camping component of hiking. It was bad.

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Happy moment preserved! Warming by a fire built deep in the sand.

We drove to the nearest town, found a place to cool off from the heat and sort out our angry feelings. How can two people who love each other so much and love these adventures fight so heatedly over setting up camp?  What was wrong with us?

An idea occurred to my Honey about how to explain to me what she was feeling. It must have been a Divine whisper in her ear because it was so good. And I’m happy to give her big kudos for how she laid out this concept.  In a nut shell – she explained that she needs to nest – she needs to decorate. She went on to explain that she believes that since she is the artsy creative woman that it is her responsibility to make it pretty for me.  I tried not to let my mouth fall open as I listened to her as she carefully and respectfully fleshed out her point of view.

I am very practical when it comes to basic shelter and I value speed only second to staying dry. However, I wanted peace and fun in setting up camp more than I wanted to set new speed records for making camp. I want things done fast so we can move on to more fun but all fun was at risk with my current method…so I was very interested in her discourse.

She on the other hand is like a cat trying to get settled in a small card board box. You’ve seen it I’m sure. You can read about ours in Clivethecat.com my Honey’s blog. The cat circles and circles passing up many perfectly good comfortable positions until the magic one is reached. No one watching the cat can tell why or when the cat will settle down (I’ll tell you in a little bit just how very good her criteria actually is).

This difference between our views gets the infamous credit for why we are so often at odds when it’s time to set up camp! It was a moment of great relief as I began to understand what is going on in her magnificent mind.

As I asked questions and we talked more and more we fleshed out many criteria for nesting – decorating the campsite, if you will. There are more but here are 9 of them:

1. Is the location for the tent level? Sliding down into a crumpled fetal position over and over will really ruin a good nights sleep.

2. If it is just a very slight incline, which way should the foot box point so that our feet are just slightly down hill and not our heads.

3. Is the site free of roots, rocks and sticks?

4. Is the site free of poison ivy and holes that might be homes in the ground?

5. What is the view out of the tent door? Can we see the moon? the campfire?

6. Which way will the wind blow better through the tent in the heat and blow around us in the cold.

7. How does the site look and feel over all as one approaches it from a distance (this one is the one that sound most like decorating and almost completely escapes my comprehension). How does it feel when we are in it? Does it feel like home to her?

8. Will the heat and smoke from the fire cause any damage to our equipment?

9. Which way will the shade travel? How will that effect the temperature inside the tent and should we put up a shade tarp to protect from the afternoon sun?

This is all part of decorating to my Honey.  I suggest that you ask Your Honey what she is thinking because she might know more about this than you think. My camp site architect sure has ideas that make it better!

So happy together!
So happy together!

We used to fight and now we plan.  The fight method: I’d start to set up and she would ask a question. The answer could possibly lead to a slightly different angle or location of the tent or cooking area. It might really be a good idea or she might just be asking for a concession. We would try to process this conversation while tired most of the time and sometimes in the dark.  This would go from frustrating to maddening inside me until we would just fight over every detail. The plan method: Now we spend 10-20 minutes discussing all the influencing elements and then we build the camp. If we are exceptionally tired and/or it is dark, we have concluded that I whip up a camp quickly and we make adjustment in the morning.

So, there you have it…making camp IS decorating?

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What are some more things that you can share that are good decorating tips?

Three Keys to Recovering Your Energy

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Meet me at the edge of the world – where the dirt road ends

On the flip side of all that productivity talk I shared yesterday is the need for recovery.  My rope gets tied in knots so to speak and my ends get burnt and frayed. There’s all kinds of stuff we can talk about for physical recovery but this time I’m talking about your innards, your heart, your soul, your phycy – that thing that makes you be you that gets totally worn out and crabby. My Honey and I have found that we need time to chill. It prevents the total crash and burn if we do it soon enough and it provides needed repair when we go too hard for too long.  How do we chill and get the real benefit for genuine recovery? We do it by making time to connect with friends, by just having talk time with each other and most importantly by being totally honest when talking to God.

Time with Friends – Recovery comes in part by spending time with people like Robert and Ruth. Those people in your life that are genuine listeners and have qualities that you want. We learn from how they treat each other. We listen to their stories of struggle and blessings. It makes us better people when we give an ear to listen and apply what we learn.

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My Honey recovering by the creek

Time Alone Together – Recharging includes carving out time when we aren’t pushing for a goal or destination. When we can just talk about what is on our minds and hearts. Sitting quietly and watching a sun set or listening to the laughing water in a stoney creek. We just let it roll – no agenda – just getting real and remembering why we fell in love with each other.

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Yes, that’s me, sitting in the creek, journaling

Time Alone with God – Rest is the best word I can think of to describe what journalling with God feels like. That almost sounded girly…but it’s true – I have learned to journal and love it. The girls probably know what journaling is but I may need to explain it to the guys. You get a book full of blank paper that no one reads but you and you write down your thoughts, your prayers to God, what you believe He is saying to you or about you. You stick this book in your backpack to pull out in all kinds of ruggedly beautiful places. I have discovered as I relax and just go for it, that He – God – gives me insight on what to do or how to handle a situation. So, often, we sit and listen and write.

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Me and my Honey, Loral. Robert and his Honey, Ruth

This place in these pictures that our friends share with us feels like the edge of the world. You go from highway to one lane blacktop to gravel to dirt…and then…it’s were the dirt road ends. Not only is it a place of hard work but it is a place of laughter and quiet hikes spent sharing what God is doing in our lives. It is a place where no one has to perform to feel loved. Even a Sherman Tank has delicate equipment on the inside that needs to be cared for carefully.

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What have you done to recharge your batteries? When can you carve out some time today to work on a relationship with a friend, your Honey and God?