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From Test to Testimony

By Joel Bates

“Is it possible to accomplish the task I have given you?”  I asked this question midway through a recent group initiative. I paused the initiative to find out if the members of the group really believed they could succeed.  Responses were mixed.  Two members felt that it was impossible while the others believed it was possible.  Seizing a teachable moment in this timely dilemma, I launched into a discussion about faith and belief, even asking if it is okay to doubt.  Each student agreed that the encouragement of another’s optimism was a key to a hopeful outcome, but that the doubt of some hurt their progress.  They saw the need to uphold each other in the challenge.

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Posted on October 17, 2017
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The Discomfort of Surrender

By Leah Fuller

Instructors spend a lot of time standing at the bottom of rock climbs with their necks craned upward and eyes squinting into the sun as they coach teens and adults in climbing techniques.  The goal is always to help the climber get a little farther than he thought was possible in order to show him he can do hard things.  Conquering a rock face is a real life example of what it means to persevere, trust God, and overcome.  It is rewarding as an instructor to see a participant make the connection and begin a transformation that can only come from God.

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Posted on September 14, 2017
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Injury or Invitation?

By Leah Fuller

Leading a trip late last year, my co-instructor and I decided to enjoy a quick dip in the river.  We floated around the bend of a gravel bar, taunting the travelers on shore and encouraging them to join us in the delightfully refreshing, cool water.  As we neared the end of the bend, we began to swim to shore, and that’s when it happened.  I rolled over, and my knee slammed into a rock protruding from the river bottom.  As pain radiated through my leg, I dragged myself to shore, trying not to draw attention to the injury.  My co-leader cast a worried glance my way as I stood and gingerly walked toward the canoes.  I whispered a prayer to God that whatever had happened internally to my knee would not interfere with the trip.  A great deal of prayer and the Lord’s grace made it possible for me to complete that trip.

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Posted on August 15, 2017
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Are We There Yet?

By Leah Fuller

As a child, I eagerly looked forward to our family vacations each summer.  After packing all supplies needed for two weeks into our Coleman pop-up camper and Chevy station wagon, the six of us would drive off to some of the most beautiful places one can go.  Usually our destinations were west in the mountains of Colorado or a national park such as Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. We would drive for hours across the flatlands of Kansas and eastern Colorado, eagerly anticipating even a glimpse of the mountains on the horizon.  As all parents of young children know too well, the four of us would take turns singing a chorus of questions. “Are we there yet? How much longer? When are we going to get there?” Most of the time, we received a promise to stop soon, but some of the time, our questions were met with silence.  Dads, moms, youth ministers, teachers, and wilderness instructors have discovered the value of leaving some questions unanswered. 

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Posted on July 14, 2017
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Nothing Beats A Good Fire!

By Joel Bates

Nothing beats a good fire!  I love to sit beside a campfire on a cool, early spring evening, listening to it crackle and hiss as I breathe in the waft of wood smoke.  I have found myself lingering near its warmth until I absolutely have to move away to give my hot skin respite.   I always sense a deep, mystifying satisfaction of being connected to something age old, relishing something man has enjoyed from creation, and knowing I, too, can create this marvel with three basic ingredients: fuel, oxygen, and ignition. 

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Posted on June 15, 2017
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Stronger Than Each Storm 

By Leah Fuller

As I donned my rain jacket and stepped out of the car, my eyes anxiously searched the darkening clouds.  Pregnant with moisture, they rolled menacingly toward my hilltop, and fear creased my brow.  Weathering a severe storm was not in my plan for the 24 hours I was intending to spend isolated in a hidden valley.  But the invitation was clear, and I had been craving solitude and eagerly anticipating this wilderness venture.  I felt compelled to step away from the safety of my little Chevrolet and answer the invitation.

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Posted on May 15, 2017
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