Spring Retreat 2018 Havasupai Falls Hike Part 6

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

Unlike a casual stroll in a local park, or an endorphin induced trail run, backpacking comes with a list of its own set of rules, especially in the extraordinary depths of an unsparing gorge and dry climate.  While most may come prepared by a set of rules, our rules were set after this adventure began, by the lessons learned through our experiences.

We were off to a great start as we descended the switchbacks of the canyon. We had already learned our first lesson, that the terrain was unpredictable, and our second lesson was vastly approaching.  Approximately two hours into the hike, we experienced a thunderous sound approaching that vibrated the ground we were standing on.  It sounded as if a dam had breached and we were about the get smothered by a rush of water.  We hurriedly stepped aside to the right against the mountain wall to make room for whatever extreme force was rapidly approaching.  A few seconds after stepping out of the way, to our astonishment, a sting of pack mules hastily swept by us literally leaving behind a cloud of dust in its path.  The sound of this force was urgently etched in our souls.  While the sound was incomparable, the sight was equally astonishing.  The lesson learned was to not hesitate in moving to the side after hearing this sound because the stampede, would not and could not, stop for anything in its path.

Lesson three was learned after about four hours into the descent of the ravine.  A couple of the girls continued stopping along the way for pictures and repositioning their packs, while me and the other member of our team continued the trail, causing our group to separate from one another.  My body was physically beginning to feel the stress from the intense path and by my steady gate I had picked up a pace that therapeutically encompassed my mind.  Before I knew it, my entire self (body, soul and spirit) were fully engaged and I began hearing from the Lord.  He said, “You need to lead this hike, you are not on a walk in the park.  I taught you how to backpack when you were hiking the Appalachian Train in the Smoky Mountains.”

The memory of that experience was brought to my conscious mind and I instantly knew what to do to lead my team.  This revelation from the Lord stopped me in my tracks.  I immediately knew that we were in danger by splitting up.  I was almost in a panic but stayed calm and found a boulder to hang out on while we waited for the other two team members to catch up to us.

We waited for twenty to thirty minutes before we were able to see Lisa and Maria approaching in the distance.  When we were all four together again, I relayed the message that was revealed to me.  I informed the group that we were not on a walk in the park, but that we were on a treacherous journey.  The unforeseen, hidden hazards and the dangerous, deceptive conditions called for our immediate attention with earnest intent. Our plan was to stay together and to pick up a stride that resembled one of an army.  We would keep a slow and steady pace, picking up our feet as if we were marching so that we did not waste energy tripping or stumbling.  I knew from experience that this type of stride would naturally engage our minds and our spirits which was necessary for our brains to function healthily.  If we were going to successfully complete the hike out and endure the adventure that lied ahead, we needed our entire beings engaged:  Our spirit hearing from the Holy Spirit, our soul thinking thoughts of truth, and our brain (body) firing off chemicals as the supply source to our bodily functions.

The looks on the faces of those we passed who were on their way out, spoke to me in a way that repeatedly caught my attention.  The ten miles that we hiked into the canyon were tough, but I could not imagine what it was going to be like the following day as we attempted to climb out of the gigantic, magnificent hole.

I knew that the Lord was the leader of this mission because He taught me to lead the group before reaching the state of exhaustion; He was paving our path.

Spring Retreat 2018 Havasupai Falls Hike Part 5

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

We knew we were getting close to the location that marks the start of the hike because there was a line of cars parked for miles along the side of the road. Some hikers spend the night in their vehicles, to get an early start without having to drive all morning at the crack of dawn. We hoped to find a parking spot in the lot, so we continued to drive closer to the rim of the canyon. We were successful.

2The sun was beginning to rise at this point; it felt surreal that the time had arrived. We unloaded our backpacks, got out our trekking poles, buttoned up our gear, and we headed to the starting point. There was no one around except for a native who was handing out maps. We approached him, and he assured us that if we follow the main path, we could not get lost.  He handed us a map and sincerely instructed us to be careful and to drink plenty of water. He and I made eye contact and I saw concern in his eyes. His words struck me. I thought, was he concerned because we were four women hiking alone? Could he tell we’d never backpacked before? Was it our age? Or, did he have this concern for everyone? It seemed like a non-event in the natural but in the spirit, he caught my attention. Once again, for a split second, the notion came over me wondering if we had properly prepared for what we were about to do. I shrugged it off, did not say anything out loud to the group, and marched excitedly to the rim for a peak into the canyon we were about to dive into.1

After one last bathroom break, we started down the switchbacks. The first mile of this hike is a 1000-foot descent. The terrain consisted of loose chalky gravel with large boulder rocks mixed in. On the right side of us was the canyon wall and on the left side was the hole. We had plenty of room to avoid getting too close to the edge of the canyon, so that was not a threat. Watching our footing was the most crucial part of the first mile since it was so steep, and the terrain was rough.

The four of us were in our glory. We were laughing, chatty, giddy, and unafraid as if we were hiking in a local park at home. After about fifteen minutes into the descent, I slid on the gravel. My backpack cushioned my fall which was a blessing, but my hand smashed a pile of mule manure. Luckily, I had on a glove but nonetheless, that creepy thought came over me again. Where are we headed?

Spring Retreat 2018 Havasupai Falls Hike Part 4

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

The hike was sold out for the entire year in just two hours. Last year it took two weeks. Obviously, the world is becoming aware of this unadvertised secret wonder of God’s creation.

Sedona-Shuttles

By the end of the day, I had finally heard back from everyone on the team that the dates I reserved worked with their schedules. I reserved a cabin in Sedona where we would stay for the first 4 nights of our retreat. I also booked a hotel closer to the rim, three hours from Sedona, where we would stay for one night prior and one night after our hike.

The retreat in Sedona was amazing. Our schedule was to wake up in the morning and study the book of James together then head out to view the sights between 12 and 2pm each day. After a nice afternoon enjoying Sedona, we cooked dinner then made memories through enjoyable conversation and laughter. The night before checking out, we practiced putting up our tents and packed our backpacks eliminating any extra weight so we were prepared for the hike.

The hotel that we stayed in near the rim was on an Indian Reservation. I had never been in such a remote area. We had no cell service and the only thing that was around was a small general store and a gas station. The restaurant in the hotel was the only restaurant on the entire reservation. Land, more land, then more land was all there was as far as the naked eye could see.  

It was still dark when we began to the drive to the rim. There was no sign of life for 90 miles as we drove for an hour and a half farther into desolation. How could there be so much land with no life on it? Words are hard to find to express the feelings I was experiencing; it felt frightening, thrilling, and uncertain all at the same time, as if I had gone to bed and awoken in the middle of the Land of the Lost.

Following were the thoughts that were going through my mind:  

My family has no idea where I am.

What if we get a flat tire?

How do we call for help if we are in need?

Did we plan well enough for this?

We hadn’t even started the hike but we had started the adventure and I could tell from the drive that we were headed for an exploration that was going to be life changing.

Spring Retreat 2018 Havasupai Falls Hike Part 3

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

Our team was set, there would be four of us going on our Spring Retreat.  We were thrilled for the adventure that lied ahead. It was like the unmovable, merciless, accessible crater was calling our name.  Like an invitation to come enter at our own risk to explore, scope, gaze, and wonder. It felt almost like a dare.

havasu-falls-havasupai-3

I knew this trip was going to be one of the most extreme things I’d ever done.  But first, we needed to get registered. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high until we had the space reserved for our stay in the Canyon.

By reading the posts on Facebook, I quickly found out that registration for 2018 opened on February 1st at 8:00am.  The posts were adamant about not waiting because 2017 sold for the entire year in only two weeks.  Our group had decided on a week in April for our trip. We were waiting until we were registered for the hike before purchasing our airline tickets and finding a place to stay in Sedona prior to the hike.  Waiting to plan for trip depending on the registration for the hike was one of the only well thought out decisions we’d make. How can you know what you don’t know, right?

On January 31st, the evening before registration day, I went to the website for a practice run.  I had to be sure the website address was accurate since I would be logging on first thing in the morning with no time to spare for trying to figure things out.  I woke up at 7:30am and turned on my computer and went directly to the Facebook feed to participate in the excitement with the others who were also waiting for registration to open.  I sat on the couch with my laptop, my cell phone, and my credit card. At 7:59am, I had my finger on the enter key as the last minute counted down per second because I was concerned that the week were had planned for may get taken.    

My phone read 8:00am – I pushed enter – I’m logged on.  On the cover page of the registration it read to ‘click here’ for a live calendar.  I ‘clicked here’ and I got an error response.  WHAT? Panicked, I fought with the tab for 10 minutes.  Then it dawned on me to check the Facebook page to see if anyone else was dealing with the same problem.  Everyone was experiencing the same problem. People were furious, they were using curse words and having fits. I was instantly on an intense mission to book this reservation.  I read some of the replies and found someone who gave a different link for the live calendar! I copy the link and pasted it in the URL and it worked! I got the live calendar!  

As I was scrolling through the calendar, I could not find any squares that were colored showing availability, everything appeared sold out!  How could this be? It was only 8:15am! I looked through April, Sold Out.  I looked through May, Sold Out, I looked through June, Sold Out.  I thought July and August would be too hot, so I back tracked to March.  There were a two-day hikes available in March, so I selected one of the dates.  A registration sheep populated on the screen where I saw a timer at the top counting down from 99 seconds, 98, 97, 96…Oh my word, I was going to be timed out in one minute and I didn’t even know if these dates were going to work for our team.  I frantically texted the group and before I got a response, I was timed out. Ughhh, back to the drawing board.

I was still on the March calendar and I started clicking the pair of dates that were showing available.  As I made my selection, I got the response, “no longer available”, this was seriously crazy! Finally, after several near misses, the registration screen populated again, and the one-minute count down began. It was like a race to the finish as I quickly filled out the information and added my credit card.  Then, without even checking with the team, I clicked submit and I got an ERROR response!  Are you kidding me?  So, I clicked submit again, and again , and again, and again, thinking I might be getting charged for each entry, and all of a sudden, the screen read, CONGRATUATIONS!  YOUR DATES ARE CONFIRMED!  Just like that, I all caps with exclaimation points.  The font was an indication to me that who ever constructed this site was aware of the mayhem that was going to be had.  Instantly I thought, what have I done? I wonder if everyone can go?

I ran upstairs to check my own calendar and noticed that the dates I had booked were on Easter weekend!  We would be hiking down on Thursday before Easter and hiking out on Good Friday. Oh my, could my team even go on Easter weekend?

To be continued…

 

Spring Retreat 2018 Havasupai Falls Hike Part 2

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

Havasupai-Falls-Havasupai-reservation-in-Grand-Canyon-e1329928783888

When I began researching the hike to Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon, I learned that the falls were on the Supai Indian Reservation, the only community in the entire canyon. This hike is so remote that the only way to get specific information about it is through a Facebook feed. People who have hiked the trail post pictures, videos, and swarm the site with incredible information based on individual experiences.

I learned that the Supai Tribe allows outsiders to come on their land to view their water falls but they do have restrictions. They do not allow folks to hike in and out the same day, everyone must backpack down, camp at least one night, then hike back out. They have random check points on the hike down and if you are caught without a registration, then they will make you turn around and leave. The campsite holds 250 people per night, so the space is limited and the cost to camp is $70 a night, per person. Hikes range from 2 days to 5 days.

Camping in a Canyon is way different than camping in a park. Usually when I think of camping, I think of a nice camp fire to grill food, lawn chairs to get comfortable around the fire at night after a nice swim, someone bringing their guitar and singing campfire songs, etc. Not here, here there are no fire pits because there are no first responders in case of an emergency. With the camping thing in mind and having to carry all of our necessities on our backs on the way down, our team decided that a one night stay was perfect for us. However, we were not even beginning to think about the hike itself, the temperatures, the terrane, the miles. Nor were we thinking about safety issues, what happens if we get hurt? What happens if we get dehydrated? What happens if we get robbed? What happens if we get lost?

To be continued…

Spring Retreat: Havasupai Falls Hike Part 1

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

One morning while sitting with my coffee, I saw that Maria had shared a picture on my Facebook page of a spectacular waterfall. I was captivated by the tranquility of the water in this photo. The turquoise colors looked as if the picture had been edited to enhance its beauty. I gazed at this picture for a while wondering where in the world this fall was located.

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Last year on our spring retreat we took a field trip to the Grand Canyon.  Since we only had one day, we scheduled a Pink Jeep tour to be sure to see the most majestic look out points.  Maria and I fell in love with the mysterious beauty of God’s creation and decided that soon, we were going to train and plan a hike to explore this monstrous cavity.  

When I saw the stunning picture of the waterfall that Maria shared with me on Facebook, I asked her where the picture was taken. Maria responded by saying the waterfall was in the Grand Canyon. I thought, in the Grand Canyon? How in the world is this waterfall in the Grand Canyon? I had heard of people hiking in the Canyon but I had never heard of this in the Canyon before.

That was the moment it clicked, on our next Spring Retreat, we were going to hike the Canyon to see one of the worlds greatest kept secrets, the Havasupai Falls.

To be continued…

 

This is Me, Who Are You?

Sanctification is growing in knowing who we are

By knowing who God is

By receiving His love for us

 

After two years of playing tennis, I have realized who I am on the court and what my role is.

The Lord showed me that who I am on the court, is who I am on the mission field.

I am a player who stays focused on each point and is not distracted by the score.

I am a teacher who loves one person at a time and is not distracted by the number of people who believe.

 

I am a player on the court who sees others like Jesus sees them regardless of their behavior.

I am a teacher in the kingdom who can get to an issue of the heart undistracted by others’ life choices.

 

I am a player who is consistent with the return.

I am a teacher who is consistent with the delivery of the truth.

 

I am a player who does not make many unforced errors.  

I am a teacher who does not make many diversions off the paved path.

 

I am a player who can put away a lob shot.  

I am a teacher who can close the door to evil by speaking truth.

 

I am a player who can set up my partner with a flashy kill at the net.

I am a teacher who can lead others to Jesus so they’re victorious in the battle, one lie at a time.

 

I am a helper on the court.

I am a helper in the kingdom.

 

I am a player who is working the base line, not upfront and noticed.

I am a teacher who is discipling one on one teaching leaders so that they can be seen and heard.

 

I am not flashy with the hard angle, put away shot.

I am the teacher who will remain unnoticed by many.

 

I am a player who makes mistakes and learns from them.

I am a teacher who makes mistakes and learns from them.

 

I am a player who will not be recognized as the one who wins the point.

I am a teacher who gives all the glory to God.  He is worthy of it all.

 

When I agreed with who I am as a tennis player, I started winning matches.

When I agreed with who I am as a kingdom builder, I became satisfied in life.

Think About What You’re Thinking About

Sanctification is growing in knowing who we are

By knowing who God is

By receiving His love for us

 

When we are not performing well on the court or field, it’s no different than if we are losing in our marriage, our finances, our job, because Satan uses the same lies to attack.  Therefore, I know what people are thinking when they start out the match losing and cannot seem to get their game back on. They are believing things like, I’m no good, I shouldn’t be playing at this level, I’m causing my partner to lose, I should just go home, I should quit tennis etc. and sometimes, the lies can even resort to how they are struggling in other areas of their lives, my husband was right, I’m not good at anything, my dad was right, I’ll never measure up.  

 

Simply not performing well one day, is all it takes to open a door to a cycle of depression.

I know this sounds crazy but it’s true; lies in the spirit are daily spoken over every human being.  People will not even notice what they’re thinking until they intentionally pay attention to it. When we begin to practice paying attention to what we are thinking about and then intentionally doing something about it, we will begin to respond differently.  Bad things will happen to us in this life but how we respond to those things is what sets us apart.  

 

The only way we will respond with power, is if we hear the still small voice of the Lord, and are obedient to His voice.  

 

The Put Away Shot

Sanctification is growing in knowing who we are

By knowing who God is

By receiving His love for us

 

Do you know Who or what defines us?  

Things that happen to us do not define us, but did you know that the way we respond to the things that happen to us doesn’t define us either?  

We are defined by the One who created us, Jesus.  (Lesson 4 in my curriculum explains this in full detail.)  

Our personality is an outward expression of the inward us, our soul.  When we grow in knowing who we are, our soul (the inward part of us) is sanctified/changed.  As our soul changes, so does our personality which is how others see the work the Lord has begun in us.  Some parts of our personality never change. Some of the parts of our personality that never change make up our spirit.  This is the part of us who we refer to when we say things like, “I can’t find myself.”  The only person who can get a hold of this part of us is Jesus and the day He does, we are able to receive from Him our identity, who He created us to be.  

There are some parts of us that we don’t see in ourselves, called blind spots.  Others can be quick to see blind spots in us and be more than happy to tell us about them. This usually occurs without our asking so most of the time, our knee jerk reaction is quick to disagree.  

I think it’s interesting how some of these blind spots in our personality can be revealed to us by paying attention to how we respond as an athlete on the field or court.  I’ve realized that when I play tennis, and someone hits the ball hard to me, I can return the ball hard back to them. I noticed that my shot is not very hard unless the power is coming from my opponent first.  After realizing this, I felt like I needed to learn how to hit the ball harder to improve my game. I began striving to hit the ball hard which led to many unforced errors and lost points. I began focusing on where to hit the ball and tried to hit it out in front of me which I thought would give me more power.  I also tried following through with a full swing which I thought would also help.

While all these things were helping improve the power of my forehand, I still found myself thinking that I wasn’t that good because I didn’t have a hard put away shot.  When I started to entertain the thought that, I wasn’t that good, I heard the Lord say, “You do have a put away shot, it’s your left corner lob.”  I thought, oh, wow, I didn’t realize a lob could be a put away shot.  

When I agreed with the Lord that the lob was my put away shot, I found that I had much more success in my game. The back-corner lob began to come easy to me and I started hitting that mark nearly every time, like muscle memory.  

The Lord was beginning to show me something about myself that I wasn’t aware of, but at this point I hadn’t yet put 2 and 2 together.  I was just happy to see that my put away shot was working.

 

Love Loves What Others Love

Sanctification is growing in knowing who you are

By knowing who God is

By receiving His love for you

 Jesus cares about tennis because He cares about me and I care about tennis.

 I get a burst of excitement in my gut on Monday evening because I get to wake up on Tuesday morning and play tennis.  Tennis is good for my soul; I call this activity a mind eraser because every time I leave the club after a match, I need to purposefully recall what day of the week it is and what I have on my agenda for the day.

 The first day of playing tennis was stressful so I called on Jesus to go first and pave the path for me.  I could see through the eyes of my heart, Him sitting on the side lines by the net cheering me on with a smile on His face.  This brought me comfort. From that first day on, I’ve chosen to invite Jesus on the court with me.

 One time, after noticing who my opponents were, I realized a thought crossed my mind that spoke, “You are the weakest link on the court.” I felt defeated before the match even began and thought, dang, I’m going to lose.  Then, I heard another thought cross my mind that spoke, “Who said you were the weakest link?”  I was taken back. I immediately knew the second thought was from Jesus and instantly my mind went to the vision of Him sitting by the net.  I knew the Lord was revealing to me how important it was in that moment, to choose which thought I was going to take captive, (1Cor. 10:3-5) because what I choose to think is how I will respond, and who I will become. (Pro.23:7)

 I ended up winning that match, no lie.  I was in complete awe of what the Lord just taught me.  It wasn’t about winning the match that brought more freedom to my soul, it was about what I learned through the process.

By playing tennis, I’ve realized that sports are a parallel to life in many ways. My tennis game means more to me than the victory or defeat of each match; It’s the learning and experience of each game that builds my character.  Just like my life is more than the victory or defeat of each circumstance; It’s the journey, each individual choice that I make, beginning with what thought I take captive, that builds my character. (Rom.5:3-4)

 There is no wonder then, that Jesus cares about tennis, right?  When I take delight in the Lord, He gives me the desires of my heart and leads me in a way that is beyond my own knowledge. (Psalm 37:4)