A God Who Loves Me

Throughout my life my testimony has gone through all different phases.  I have gone through periods of complete faith and others of complete doubt.

I think all of us do this to some extent, and the height of our peaks and depth of our valleys just differs.  There is no use in comparing because it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is finding a way to pick ourselves back up when we are feeling down.  It is equally important to work to maintain the peaks so that we have the “religious capital” known as faith to get us through those harder times.

As I look back on the struggles I have had in my life, as well as the good times, there is one thing that I have never lost any faith in.  That is that I know that God loves me.  Not just in a quaint affectionate way, but as a father loves his child, individually and without end.

There have been times I felt like no one loved me, including myself, and other times when I felt incredibly loved.  I have been worthy of that love at times, and other times not so much.

But, no matter how good or bad my life has been, there has always been that one undeniable truth, and that is why tonight I am grateful for a God that loves me.

What are you grateful for?

The Princess Bride

I know it is an old, somewhat cheesy movie, but it will always be one of my favorites.  Just like the grandpa says, it is full of sports, so what’s not to love?

Sure the acting is not very good, the editing is terrible in some sections, and the writing leaves plenty to be desired, but it is still just wonderful.  

I mean Westley goes from being a farmer to becoming a bad A pirate that can hand over hand a rope all the way up thousand foot cliffs.  He can take poison no problem. He can fight off a giant and a master swordsman.  He can even have 50 years of his life sucked away, and be riding a horse a few hours later.  All for the love of a woman.  Take that Chuck Norris.

I didn’t even mention the classic dialogue.  We all know the rhyming scene well.  Then there are my two favorite lines, “I do not envy you the headache you will have when you awake, but in the meantime, rest well, and dream of large women.” and of course, “There’s a shortage of perfect breasts in the world, it would be a pity to damage yours.”

I think the real reason I still latch onto this movie so much is because it is a fond memory of my childhood.  It reminds me of the simple joys in life.  It doesn’t matter if other people like it, because I still enjoy it.

I can always go for a little more humor and adventure in my life, and that’s why tonight I am grateful for The Princess Bride.

What are you thankful for?

The Love of a Child

I miss my kids terribly.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology I still get to talk to them essentially every day, and I usually get to see them through video chat.  I’m not sure if this actually makes the whole thing easier or harder, but I enjoy it either way.

On my way to church this morning I called to talk to them as they would be in bed before I got home from church.  I was only really able to talk to my wife and one daughter as the reception was pretty crappy.  

About a half an hour after getting to church my wife messaged me saying that my oldest really wanted to talk to me.  Once they were in better cell coverage she called and I was able to talk to her.

She told me about the fun they had had at Lake Tahoe that day, and the good time she had with a friend the night before at a show for her birthday.  She also told me she missed me and she loved me.

It was a simple conversation that lasted barely five minutes, but I know it meant a lot to both of us.  It is important to connect, even if only briefly, with those we love on a regular basis.

She has such a tender heart and I am always in awe of the love she is able to express to me in so many different ways.  It is totally pure and unfettered by any of the cares of the world.  She has no ulterior motive other than wanting to share some time with someone she loves.

I am not around nearly as much as I would like thanks to work and these long absences, but I am eternally grateful for the love of a child that gets me through these challenging times.

What are you grateful for?

Chicken and Waffles

In keeping with not going more than a few days without mentioning food, I present to you chicken and waffles.

At first glance, this is an unlikely pairing, but once you have had it, it just makes so much sense.  I will not insult your intelligence as it truly is as simple as it sounds.  A yummy waffle with syrup, and some delicious fried chicken.  In this case they include some buffalo chicken sauce which I find to be a delicious accent to the meal. 

I know it isn’t very healthy, but it is delicious, and it put a smile on my face this morning.  That’s why today I am grateful for chicken and waffles.

What are you grateful for?

Climbing Mt Fuji

I know I have already expressed gratitude for this majestic mountain of Japan, but it is a whole different type of gratitude to have summitted her.  As one might imagine, this is no small feat and was the reason I was so exhausted yesterday.

The Japanese say that a wise man climbs Mt. Fuji once, and only a foolish man does it twice.

I guess that makes me a foolish man.

I was able to climb Mt. Fuji last year but was unfortunate enough to have terrible weather at the top and really was not able to enjoy the experience.  I was still proud of myself for accomplishing the feat, but it left me with a desire to do it again.  So when the opportunity arose to go with some friends, I had to take it.
It was not looking promising in the days leading up to our climb with a typhoon coming through and rain forecast for the entire week.  With the way schedules aligned, yesterday was the only chance we had so we decided to just go for it.

When climbing Mt. Fuji almost everyone starts at the fifth station, which is around 7,000 feet in elevation.  As we started up the mountain we were essentially at the same level as the clouds, but they were also climbing the mountain.  

It is actually a pretty cool sight to see as the wind pushes the clouds up the mountain and you go from blue sky to overcast in a manner of minutes.
Fortunately, as we proceeded up the mountain, we were able to outpace the clouds and broke out into blue skies for most of the way up the mountain.  It was actually fascinating watching the clouds climb up after us wondering if we would make it to the top before they did.  Which we did.

The climb itself is only about 4.1 miles to the summit, but as it is also about 5,000 feet of vertical elevation, it is not a quick jaunt up the hill.  It took me just over six hours to reach the summit but I am glad we took a little bit of a slower pace because we got to enjoy the beauty of the mountain more, and we were not dying when we got to the top.

Beauty is an interesting word to describe the terrain you climb through because it is mostly volcanic rock everywhere with no vegetation or life of any kind once you get above about 8,000 feet.  And yet, it is truly beautiful.  

The sheer magnitude of its size, the dramatic pitch of the climb to the summit, and the feeling of comeplete remoteness of the mountain provide an incredibly peaceful feeling as you climb.
It is no wonder that this incredible mountain has such spiritual and religious meaning to the Japanese people.  

As I summitted the mountain for the second time, I was able to really take in the magnitude of the sight I have admired these last two years from down below.  With bluebird skies overhead, and only a light breeze.  I was able to walk to the edge and admire the crater of what is still an active volcano.

It is another one of those things that you truly must witness for yourself to fully appreciate it.  I was with great people witnessing a great sight, and there is not much else I could have done to better enjoy the day.

The one thing that would have made the day truly perfect would have been having my Queenie there with me.  She wasn’t able to climb the mountain while she was here due to a bum knee and then leaving before climbing season started, and it just breaks my heart because I know she would have loved it as much as I did.

As I sit here on the eve of my Japanniversary I can’t help but be grateful for the experiences this amazing country has given me.  I have met people that have changed my outlook on life, I have been to some of the most historically significant sites in the world, and I have witnessed some of the most beautiful and majestic sites one could ask for.

After climbing the mountain last year I was certainly left wanting, and having now witnessed her, in all of her glory, I better understand what I was missing.  Having now been witness to it, I feel fulfilled and enriched.

Life is full of incredible opportunities that change us in ways we don’t fully appreciate until later, and after waiting a full year to get the complete Fuji experience, I can honestly say with all my heart that I am grateful for climbing Mt. Fuji.

What are you thankful for?

Being Utterly Exhausted

As you may have guessed by the title, I am totally beat tonight so this will be short.  I really wanted to write about why I am exhausted but I don’t have the time or energy to do it justice at the moment.

What I love about being completely worn out, is that it is generally because you have been incredibly busy with work or playing, but whatever it is, you put a whole lot of energy into it, and that is generally a good thing.

That’s why tonight I am grateful for being utterly exhausted.

What are you thankful for?

Saying Goodbye

I realize this is usually something people absolutely dread.  I even know a few people that refuse to say those words.  While those situations where these words are applicable are never fun, there is something to be grateful for.  

The way I see it, if you dread saying goodbye, that means you care about the person.  It means you made a connection and you valued their presence.

It may mean that they were a great worker or simply a great friend, but whatever the case may be, their leaving is going to leave a void in your life.

I have had times where I really wasn’t too sad about leaving, and as I look back that is actually a much sadder situation.  To have spent any significant amount of time somewhere and not be sad about leaving means that there were no great connections.  

People are the best part of life so what a shame if we missed out on an opportunity to connect with people in a new area.

As a military member saying goodbye is a regular occurrence, though it doesn’t make it any easier.  But what it does is make you grateful for all of the amazing people you get to meet.  That’s why tonight I am grateful for saying goodbye.

What are you grateful for?