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april 1, 2009

yesterday, for whatever reason i decided to listen to some bebo norman… i haven’t listened to his music in a LONG time. and it was such a profound time with the Lord while i listened to the very music that helped get me through the hardest time of my life, thus far. it brought me to a place of realizing just what the Lord had done, and WOW, what an amazing work he has done!

I Will Life My Eyes (by Bebo Norman)

God, my God, I cry out
Your beloved needs You now
God, be near, calm my fear

And take my doubt
Your kindness is what pulls me up
Your love is all that draws me in

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can’t climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

God, my God, let Mercy sing
Her melody over me
God, right here all I bring
Is all of me

‘Cause You are and You were and You will be forever
The Lover I need to save me
‘Cause You fashioned the earth and You hold it together, God
So hold me now

this song in particular, i thought of mt. rainier and not making it to the top. not making it to the top of the mountain God created, the maker of the mountain i can’t climb. and that’s just it, the attempt to climb was the goal of God, while i thought the goal was to make it to the top; it was on the side of the mountain that the Lord showed me what i needed to know. that was His goal, for me to see that the God who created the mountains i can’t climb has plans for my life. and oh how i need Him so much right now and always! and i needed Him then too, but now i know and that it isn’t just on the side of the mountain or in the rough times, but in the good times and in the blessing, i need Him just as much! His presence is so necessary in EVERY SEASON. to be desperate for Him at all times is the only way for me to live.

oh Lord, how i love you! and i can’t help but smile, cry and laugh all at once, the maker of the mountains i can’t climb loves me! WOW! and THAT is all i need!

He was the same God when i was in despair, in a place of utter desperation as He is right now. He meets me in all stages and seasons of life, I AM BLESSED to know my God and be loved by Him. hallelujah!


Lord, may i never forget this time, where you have brought me from. may i always remember how great You are, how small i am, yet how You love me. help me to never keep this to myself, but profess Your love all the days of my life!

i serve a mighty God who hears His children and answers their prayers. and this experience reinforced that fact for me. i don’t really know where to start but what i do know is God showed up moment after moment through experience and people over the four day summit climb.

ephesians 3:20 says God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. i saw this on our climb. i didn’t make it to the summit of mt. rainier (this time) but God showed me how much this journey, 10 months in the making, was about so much more than just reaching the top of the mountain. He answered every prayer that was prayed and answered it beyond what i expected.

we started with orientation on wednesday and then thursday we hit a snow field for climbing school. it was a very fun day of learning all sorts of things that i never thought of, including how to “save” ourselves should we fall during the climb. the next day we would begin the two day summit attempt. orientation and the snow school were a huge answer to prayer as they truly calmed anxieties over how to pack properly and layer clothing properly as well. just the beginning of God showing up : )

(on our way back from snow school – thanks for the pic rick!)

friday morning we drove to paradise and hiked to camp muir. it was pretty crazy to start in pretty warm weather (pia and i had on our long underwear with shorts over them) and end up hiking through lots and lots of snow ending at camp muir, home for the night.

(that’s another team climbing up where we had just come from)

(pia and i on our way up to camp muir – lunch break, this was when i decided it was snickers and m&m’s time, pia had cold pizza, yum!)

(camp muir: we slept in that box)

once we got to camp muir our guides told us what to expect in the next few hours, how to deal with mild forms of altitude sickness and then told us we had to go to bed soon. i had the beginning of a pretty killer headache from the altitude but i did the pressure breathing that the guides recommended and prayed and prayed for it to go away, and it did!

we got to camp muir at 4/4:30 pm and were to be in bed by 6 pm for a wake-up sometime between midnight and 1 am. it wasn’t easy to sleep but i had my ipod and listened to the good old brooklyn tabernacle choir. pia woke up at one point and smacked me in the face (supposedly by accident – haha) because a mouse had run across her head. i told her she was crazy, but in fact, we’re pretty sure a mouse did run over her head!

(jen and i shortly after we were supposed to be in bed – that’s cloud cover below us!)

at about 12:30 am the guides came in and “woke us up.” it was time to eat, layer up and get all our gear on and ready. the wind was howling like crazy. personally, i had never experienced that kind of wind in my life. dirt was flying everywhere but we were getting ready to go. at this point, pia decided not to attempt the summit. she didn’t feel like her footing was totally secure on the way up to camp muir and felt that with the wind, she just wasn’t quite steady enough and comfortable with being roped in to other people (for fear of taking them down with her). so sven (one of the team members) and i walked down to the start of the glacier, got our crampons on and roped in to our guide pete. with ice axes in hand, we followed the rest of the group across the cowlitz glacier toward the summit (camp muir is at 10,000 feet and our first break was at 11,200-ish at the “flats”).

as we moved across the glacier the wind was sincerely wicked. everyone, including guides, was getting knocked around a bit. once we crossed the glacier we made our way onto cathedral gap (rocks and lots of rocks). the wind stopped us a few times, forcing the front of the team to take cover as to not get shoved off their feet. at one point pete yelled to sven and i to move towards him very quickly, we ran as best we could on the narrow (and i mean narrow) path to get to him. praise the Lord we made it in time as a rather large rock just missed sven. i was praying this entire time that God would protect us from the rocks that make up the mountain He created.

by the time we made it to the first break, through rock falls and wind, i was pretty freaked out. the way the wind was blowing made me feel like i was a mere 95 lbs. and i know i’m not a big girl, but i sure am not a small one either! when i heard that the wind might get worse, i knew i needed to really consider what i was doing. our guides were wonderful, absolutely incredible, and told me i was physically ready to make this summit. mentally, i knew i was not 100%. i was torn, should i contonue on or turn back with a team that was going back? at that moment, sven put his hand on my shoulder and told me it was ok. that simple gesture was just what i needed at that moment. he then reached into his pack, pulled out his camera and asked me if i had read the quote on the back of the door at camp muir. i hadn’t, so he showed it to me:

God used sven in that moment to show me, it was ok for me to turn around. it was ok for me to head back to what felt safe to me at that moment. i can’t explain how scared i was up there, and surprised that i was scared. i can tell you i’m still struggling with the disappointment that comes from not reaching the goal you have trained for for so long. but like i said in the begining of this post, there was much more to this summit attempt then reaching, or in my case, not reaching the summit. most of the team made it and man, i am so proud of each of them!! that was not an easy fete by any means!

for so long i thought the purpose of this journey was to summit a mountain, and while i struggle with not reaching that goal, i praise God for showing me the many other blessings and privileges that came out of this journey. i praise God that He has given me the privilege of seeing His hand move so vividly throughout these four days.

i praise God for our guides, we could not have asked for anyone better (not even our prayers were as good as these guys). each one of them, alex, pete and pat, is so well rounded, grounded and clearly understand what it means to be a visitor on the mountain. each one so humble and encouraging. alex was the same guide that took my friend cindy and her husband graham up mt. rainier three years ago – cindy is the friend pia and i met while training on the stairs. coincidence? heck no! that was God, all the way. pete was the same guide that took cindy and her husband graham to mt. baker and was his guide for a seminar course. again, totally God.

our team was incredible as well. we prayed for unity amongst the team members and i tell you, i don’t think you could find a more unified group of strangers anywhere. each person was willing to step out for the other, and each one brought something special to the team. there is no doubt in my mind that the Lord intended each of us to meet. sven, mark, eric, jen, josh, dave and rick, you guys rock! i don’t know why we had the privilege of journeying together, perhaps our paths were only meant to cross for those few days, or maybe these relationships will remain through time (i hope so), regardless, i know with all my heart, God intended for each of us to meet.

i went into this adventure 10 months ago as one woman (can i call myself a woman? perhaps girl is better?) and ended it a different one. i hope to one day reach the summit of mt. rainier, but until then, i will keep praising God for all the ways He answers prayers, makes divine appointments, and directs our paths even when we don’t see the turns coming.

the Summit for Someone team and our guides!

PS – when i got home, my roommate did the best thing ever! she had a snickers blizzard DQ icecream cake waiting for me! seriously, how awesome is she? and it is decorated with a mountain! she also knew i didn’t make it to the summit, but decided regardless of reaching the top or not, i made it : ) praise the Lord for amazing friends!

pia and i trecked up to wisonsin today to hike at kettle moraine state park. i must say, one of the coolest things about all this training is it’s forcing me to finally check out some of the great sate parks around the area.

this was a rather comical six hours on the trail and i thought i could describe it but, i think a bullet point list is the best way to go.

  • first encounter with the steroid enduced mosquitos, “my scalp! that punk bit my scalp! my scalp!”

(pointing out the enormous welts on my face)

  • who knew you had to put bug spray on your face!
  • mosquitos dive-bombing my neck
  • a carcass with its spine exposed in the middle of the trail (did not take a picture of that, ew!)

  • more worms than i ever care to see in one place at one time

(we walked through that and my feet were perfectly dry!)

  • learning that my boots really are water proof!

  • sneakers on the other hand are not
  • getting in the car at the end of the day, asking pia if she’d like AC. pia’s response as she roles up the car window, “goodbye nature!” we laughed : )

today pia and hiked up and down the stairs at palos for three hours with 35 lbs. in our packs. the best part of the day, overhearing someone doing the same thing tell his friend, “unless i am in your will, you better slow down!” classic!

it was super hot and humid today and by the time we were done, you would have thought we had jumped in the pool (sorry for the gross picture). needless to say, the glacier on top of rainier sounds mighty alluring right now!

holy stairs batman! pia and i went for our hike today (our adventurous friend ashley joined us as well) and stumbled upon an absolute gem of a spot – a forest preserve in palos park, il with a set of stairs that ran us into the ground. we trekked up and down these stairs in intervals of three and then went and hiked the trails for a little bit and came back to the stairs. we did this for 2.5 hours with 20 lbs in our packs. it was really, really tough (especially since i ran a 5k earlier that morning, probably not the brightest idea).

the stairs from the top (forgot my camera so i had to use my camera phone)

view from the bottom

this was taken earlier in our hiking escapade. by the time we were done, my shirt was a few shades darker!

one of the trails and some horseback riders – who knew this place was only 40 minutes from the city!

today was a LONG day. pia and i met-up at 6:00 a.m. and drove out to starved rock for our three hour, 20 lb. hike.

see our matching packs

prior to hiking, pia had to cover the nasty cuts she got from her boots during last weekend’s hike.

it helped, but only slightly as she had to adjust them a couple times during the hike and eventually finished it in her crocs, sockless i might add!

after our hike we headed back to the city, showered and headed to church for our women’s ministry concert of praise worship service. it was an incredible service and perfect ending to a great day! might i mention, a tiring day as well!

to learn more about pia, check out her blog:

well, the day came where we were faced with a decision, brave the weather and hope the floodgates don’t open and completely soak us, or wait until the next day when it’s guaranteed to be sunny? you guessed it, we decided to wait and take a hike the next day. this then put us into sunday, which just isn’t a good idea… after church in the morning (an incredible service i might add) pia and i took our friend amanda out to lunch for her b-day. needless to say, by the time we were done eating there really wasn’t time to go anywhere for our hike.

hence the term, urbaneering. we walked for two hours with 30 lbs. of beans and/or bird seed (pia’s weight of choice) on the lake path in the lovely city we call home. i wish i had taken pictures of people’s faces when they saw us coming. it was pure comedy! one guy knew exactly what we were doing and in fact wished us luck. that was nice.

so, here’s a pic of pia in a bus stop vestibule tying here mountaineering boots. i really feel like this picture portrays the term urbaneering properly.

today was a wonderful day! the folks at REI suggested i use bags of beans to weigh down my pack vs. books or something less flexible. so the other night i bought 25 lbs. of beans for the hike i had to do today, totally forgetting to take into account the pack weighs a couple pounds. . . so needless to say, after loading it with all the beans and my water bottles, it was definitely more like 35 lbs. after removing some beans and making sure it was no more than 25 lbs. shelly and i hopped in my car and drove two hours west to starved rock state park. it was a beautiful day and the perfect time of year to head out there as the water falls were flowing through the canyons. here are some pics from the hike:

shelly in french canyon

that’s me with my pack! it was great to hike with it, but man, this thing is going to be at least 15 lbs heavier when it comes time to summit. . . i have A LOT of training to do to prepare for that!

God bless adventurous roommates!

after starved rock we hit VE and went climbing for a few hours before we headed back in the city. it was a tiring but really fun day!

after a full day of climbing at VE, shelly and i went to REI and picked up my pack!!! woohoo!!! my first piece of gear (thanks to mom for the REI gift card). i’m so excited, makes the fact that my forearms are totally shot from climbing, not really matter – haha!

the REI sales guy measured me to confirm i ordered the right size pack

and it fits!

totally cheesin’ – thanks for taking the pics shell! this is probably the last time i’ll be smiling this big with this pack on for a LONG time!

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