Archive for September, 2011

The Rope

// September 21st, 2011 // No Comments » // Climbing, Getting biblical

The other day when I took the 6th grade class from the Vail Academy climbing, along with local experts Tim Nottingham and Travis Colbert, I couldnt help noticing a common thread. Sixty feet high above the ground the rope was anchored to solid rock. The kids knew this, they just couldnt see this. Inevitably then a number of them, though tied to a rope, climbed in fear. It made me think of how those of us who profess a faith in God live out our lives in this same fear. The rope is like our faith that is anchored to the rock on high which we can not see, however we know is there. If we truly have confidence in things not seen, we should excitedly and expectantly tie into the rope knowing that holds and steps will appear as we climb onward and upward leading me to the rock that is higher than I as it says in Psalm 61:2
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Stepping Out of the Boat

// September 14th, 2011 // No Comments » // Getting biblical, Leadership, Reflections

check out:

Every once in a while I call the church secretary to schedule some time with my pastor.  When I do this I don’t let her or the pastor know what the activity of that particular day will be, but leave just enough information to make them both a bit anxious like “bring a helmet, borrow an avalanche beacon, grab a life vest.”  Having taken him on backcountry ski outings, rock climbing adventures (true faith building experiences) we have had the opportunity to see first hand what it means to trust the rock that is “higher than I.”  Talking through tears about fears and faith yesterday’s adventure was no different.  With an injured back the outing needed to be tame but sitting in a coffee shop doesn’t really make for a memorable time and is too often disrupted by all the people we both know in this community.  We met at the coffee shop and then pulled up to a nearby lake.  I told my pastor to read some passages from the Bible on casting nets, calming storms, and even walking on water.  With hot java in hand I then revealed the plan, the boat, and the fishing rod.  The time was rewarding for both of us even though we didn’t catch anything.  We talked about life, the call on our lives, and what it meant to walk by faith.  I love how Peter illustrated this when he saw Jesus walking on rough water.  He didn’t wait to be invited as we often think, he said hey I want to do that – can I come out there too?  Jesus replied with a come on out here then.  Peter had enough experience to know that through Jesus it would be possible.  I would have been inclined to stay in the boat and when Jesus got to it I would have asked “how did you do that?”

The lesson from the day to me was that we need to be intentional and deliberate with each other, but also in our faith.  We often wait around in the boat for something big to happen instead of actin on faith and stepping out when something big is already happening right there in front of us.

(This blog was ready to be posted yesterday.  All was complete, and I finished by saying how the WordPress app on my iPad made it very easy.  Then at the touch of one more button I lost everything.  Today it is coming from my computer.)

I’m Here, Just Can’t Hear.

// September 8th, 2011 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Riding without sound

The closest I have come to participating in sports without my hearing is to have biked or skied with my headphones in, and the volume too high.  I don’t use music all the time because most often I want to escape the noise of life and disappear into my thoughts or the sounds of nature.  I find that when I do have those headphones in, however, I am limited to a certain degree.  There are no “hi, how ya doin’ ” conversations, there is no hearing faster riders coming up on me, and if on the road it can become dangerous when I can’t hear traffic and especially large trucks coming full speed from behind.  Riding with headphones has shown me how much I rely on my ears socially as well as to add a margin of safety.

My friend, expert mountain biker Travis Colbert, told me a story of a race he competed in that took him up a steep dirt road into a headwind.  Looking back over his shoulder he saw another rider behind him benefiting in the form of a draft.  Further down the trail he noticed that this rider was still there in spite of his multiple comments and shouts to ask this rider to share the work load.  As Travis’s frustration grew he finally heard the words from behind – “I’m Deaf!” turning him from a feeling of frustration to one of forgiveness.  It was as though the other rider had said “I’m here to help, I just can’t hear what you’re asking me to do.”

This morning I had the opportunity to meet this rider (pictured at left) named John Klish, who has been deaf since birth.  John can read lips, sign, and with his rather large hearing aids even hear some, but maybe not all of a conversation.  John and I met to talk about some of the ins and outs of speaking professionally, authoring books, and participating in sports that take us to the top of our respective games.  I have no doubt that John, who will be turning pro soon in Mountain, Road and Cylclocross cycling, will also be successful as a professional triathlete.  While it is inspiring to see his passion, skill, and dedication to sports, I was more impressed with his desire to serve others who also wrestle with the challenges of hearing loss.  Keep an eye on John as he will certainly be a force on the circuit, but also look out for the good that he will be doing and passing on by way of his cycling and fitness camps for others who are deaf and hearing impaired.

To be honest I had not given much thought to how life might be, let alone on a bike, for someone who can’t hear.  My meeting today with John opened my ears and mind to others who live quite differently than I do.  I imagine that a life like that might mean that because one can’t hear, that person may be treated as if he or she is not here. I am looking forward to learning more, maybe even some signs.

A Chat with Norm Nelson

// September 6th, 2011 // No Comments » // Interviews

September 6th, 2011

The radio chat I had with Norm Nelson airs today on Compassion Radio and can also be downloaded as an mp3.  Either click on this link or go to and click on “Today’s Broadcast.” 9-6-2011

The show is entitled  “What does it mean to ‘reach the top?’” Norm’s guest, Eric Alexander, has an interesting – and powerful – take on the subject.
We  had a nice talk about my book The Summit and it’s subtitle – Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone – and what exactly that means.  We covered such topics as Everest, blindness, faith and adventure.

I hope you enjoy the broadcast.  I sure enjoyed meeting Norm and look forward to hearing more of the interviews he has recently conducted, including one with my friend Philip Yancey (archives January 27, 2011.)



Expedition Impossible

// September 2nd, 2011 // No Comments » // Events, Leadership

What do teamwork, tenacity, physicality, and toughness have in common?  These are words I would use to describe a team of my friends competing on ABC’s summer series Expedition Impossible.  If you didn’t watch (I understand reality TV gets harder and harder to tune in to) I recommend you watch perhaps the last couple of episodes of this series (free on ) as my friends encounter challenges that would force many to quit.  As if it wasn’t enough to have one team mate who was blind, these guys had to compensate for an injury to another team mate – War veteran Aaron Isaacson, when he damaged his ankle and was put in a cast.  The three members of No Limits hobbled on through desert, river, and bustling Moroccan cities to come in as runners up in this multi-week challenge.  I know the editors of these programs can make or break public opinion of teams with their edits, but even so I know these guys well enough to know that they kept their focus on the main objective of the task at hand, and continually striving towards the finish line.  The infighting was kept to a minimum, they helped each other past each person’s difficulties, and they kept pressing forward.  They didn’t let the other teams and other issues get to them, they just stayed focused on what they needed to do.  This formula works.  It works in life and it works on reality TV.  When you couple this kind of team effort with skill and training, it becomes hard not to break down self imposed barriers and limits as well as those put on us by others.  For this reason the guys Erik, Aaron and Jeff certainly earned their name team No Limits.  Congratulations and thanks for the inspiration!

Erik Blindly Ziplines over a raging river.

Aaron, Erik, and Jeff face a challenge in the Moroccan Desert.