Monday, December 24, 2012

With His Stripes, We are Healed.

I have been thinking a lot about life, freedom, and love over the last week. My heart sank as I heard about the horrific act done to those innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This week the talk has been about gun control, mental illness, and  video games/movies. While we do need to work on a solution to our issue of violence in our society, I don't think by banning guns, blaming mental illness, or stopping video games/movies is going to solve our real issue. I truly feel that we are a society of spoiled, over indulged creatures. The core issue is the lack of family values, and having parents who teach, love and guide their children.
Parents get divorced and the kids are the ones left holding the bag. I do want to clarify one thing. I think divorce is horrible, but there is a time when it is necessary. My oldest sister was in an emotional abusive marriage. Her then husband lied to her about his sexual orientation, was not faithful, and blamed her for his own faults/mistakes. He would not go to counseling or try to improve the relationship. Divorce was needed in this case, and like in so many other cases when one spouse does not want to work differences out. I do believe that if husbands and wives will find common ground, work together in love. They can stay together. It is hard work, but the benefits will pay off in the end.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints or better known as "Mormons". Some of our beliefs include that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father. We are here on earth to show to him that we can be obedient, and keeps his commandments. So we can return to Him and become like Him. He gave us agency and choice so we can chose good or evil. He knew that we would make mistakes, so he provided us with a Savior or Mediator. One would could take upon Himself our sins, so that we might become clean again through His blood if we come unto Him with a contrite spirit and broken heart.
Isaiah 53:2-6

 For he shall grow up before him as a tender aplant, and as abroot out of a cdry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no dbeauty that we should desire him.
 He is adespised and rejected of men; a man of bsorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we cesteemed him not.
 ¶Surely he hath aborne our bgriefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
 But he was awounded for our btransgressionshe was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his cstripes we are dhealed.
 All we like asheep have gone bastray; we have turned every one to his cown way; and the Lord hath laid on him the diniquity of us all.

Through Christ, we can be healed physically, spiritually, and mentally. Because of His atonement, He knows our pain, our grief, sorrow, lost, and our hearts.
I know that I have felt His love in times of loss, and in times or anguish. It is "with his stripes we are healed".
I pray for those who lost their lives on December 14, 2012 in Connecticut. I pray for their loved ones who are still here with us. I also pray for the one who did this horrible act of evil. I don't know why he did what he did. I certainly do not condone the horrific act he committed, but I know that Jesus Christ suffered for him, as well as for you an me.  
In this Christmas season, let us put aside our differences, our politics, and our agendas and focus on being kind to each other. Reach out to a friend or a foe that is in need. 
This is one of my favorite poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that sums up my feelings this Christmas Season.

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and mild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Holidays

With the upcoming Holidays, I have been thinking a lot about where we put our focus. This is the first part of a series of blog posts about the holidays. Over the last few months, I have started following more about what the company Patagonia has been doing in their conservation efforts. Patagonia's founder, is unique in his business model for a clothing company. He goes by the 4 R's.
The first is Reduce. What kind of company tells is customer base to reduce buying their product? Patagonia does. They believe in making high quality products so that you don't have to keep going out and buying the same product again, because it wore out too quickly.
The second is Repair. Things break, so instead of throwing it away, Patagonia believes in fixing the item and continuing to use it. For a small repair fee, you can send your item to them so they can fix it. The cost is much lower than buying a new item when yours is fixable.
Third is Reuse. Kids grow out of items, or you don't use the item anymore. Instead of throwing it away, Patagonia encourages owners to donate their used clothing so others can use it, or sell it on such sites as eBay. Patagonia has a program through eBay and a link on their site to the Common Threads Program. This is a site that allows Patagonia product users to sell their used or new clothing they don't use.
Forth is Recycle. Patagonia understands, that items will wear out and can not be repaired, or sold again. The best way aid in reducing waste is to recycle the product. Items can be dropped at Patagonia stores, or outlets so they can be recycled and worked into new items. Thus helping reduce waste in landfills, and not having to produce new items using raw materials.
The following is from the Patagonia website and Winter 2012 catalog. I copied the article directly here for convince. I found it enlightening in helping our wallets, peace of mind, and our earth.

Take Back the Holidays

Annie Leonard
Holiday 2012
It’s that special time of year: chestnuts roasting on an open fire, festive lights, family and friends ... plus shop-’til-you drop stress, billions in credit-card debt and 4 million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bags sent to the dump.
Ugh. How did the holiday season go from being a time of celebration and renewal to the nadir of frenzied commercialism and consumption? Between Black Friday – once simply known as the day after Thanksgiving – and Christmas, weekly updates of retail sales figures are reported as breathlessly as football scores and analyzed as the most important indicators of the health of the U.S. economy. In 2011, Americans spent $471 billion during the holiday season – one fifth of retail sales for the entire year. Christmas is the Super Bowl of Stuff. Christmas has been adopted by those of various faiths and the non-religious to be a time of family, friends and giving. But advertisers have adopted Christmas, too, as their holiday, but with more sinister results.
It’s a deplorable situation, but not that surprising. This is the end result of an entire economic system based on the making, branding, selling and trashing of consumer goods. Advertising has created such a strong association between brands and holiday symbols that we sometimes have trouble distinguishing between authentic traditions and commercial hype. (The Coca-Cola Company didn’t invent Santa Claus, but they have spent millions to commodify him.)
Eight in 10 Americans report that the holidays are a time of increased stress. That’s the bad news. The good news, according to the Center for a New American Dream, is more than 3 in 4 Americans wish that holidays were less materialistic. Nearly 9 in 10 believe that holidays should be more about family and caring for others, not giving and receiving gifts.
The even better news is that this is one change we can make on our own. We don’t have to write a letter, sign a petition or join a movement to Take Back the Holidays™. Nor do we have to search for the perfect organic, nontoxic, recyclable, cruelty-free, fair-trade gift to show our loved ones how committed we are to sustainability. Whether we are religious believers or secular citizens, we can just opt out of the madness and look for more meaningful ways to celebrate the season.
“Christmas should be something to enjoy rather than endure,” writes author and activist Bill McKibben. “Instead of an island of bustle, it should be an island of peace amid a busy life. We want so much more out of Christmas: more music, more companionship, more contemplation, more time outdoors, more love.” In Hundred Dollar Holiday, McKibben, a church-going Christian, describes what it’s like to set a $100 limit on holiday spending – gifts, decorations, even the holiday feast. Some of us might find that level of simplicity a challenge, at least to start, but surveys bear out that those are the things people want most.
Time – especially time with friends – is one of the most valuable gifts we can give. We have more and cooler stuff than our parents and grandparents could have ever imagined, but we pay dearly. We spend more time working and shopping than they did and we spend much less time in leisure, on vacation and with friends. Giving time together reduces the amount of stress-inducing, useless stuff in everyone’s life, builds community and creates a catalog of memories to look back on. Give your kids a day at the beach for all their friends. Exchange lunch-dates with a friend. Babysit your best friends’ kids – maybe even overnight! Share a talent: give surfing lessons, tax prep or bike repair.
My family opted out of the gift giving frenzy a decade ago, and nothing could inspire us to go back! On Thanksgiving, we put all family members’ names in a bowl and everyone pulls one. (Family members who aren’t there get their assignment later.) Then we each buy just one gift. No waiting in lengthy lines. No buying stuff that isn’t quite right to avoid showing up empty handed. This allows everyone to give and still receive, but without the stress, clutter or post-holiday credit card bills. An occasional new spouse in the family was skeptical at first, but once they taste the stress-free holidays, they want to spread it to their own relatives too.
If you celebrate Hanukkah, the Center for a New American Dream suggests you shift the focus to avoid giving gifts for eight consecutive evenings: “Consider having a theme for each night: hosting a family party, working on a charity project together, making homemade presents or baked goods for others, playing games, etc. – with gift-giving as only one night’s focus.”
And one final thought: cultivating new traditions and cultural norms takes time. And giving and receiving can be fun. I’m certainly not saying we should become Scrooge and ban all gifts overnight. Or repay gifts with lectures on impending ecological collapse or feelings of guilt. I’m suggesting we rethink how we celebrate the holidays to make sure that we’re living our values and thinking for ourselves – not just responding to marketing hype.
How you choose to take back the holidays is up to you – that’s what it’s all about, creating and nurturing your own raditions. As with any gift, it’s the thought that counts. So this year, think hard about what really matters to you and your family and put that at the top of your holiday gift list.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Looking for Zeus, Mount Olympus

On Saturday March 10, 2012 was my second accent of Mount Olympus. The first was back in February 1999, both were winter accents. The first one was up the north west face. The latest was up the Mount Olympus trail starting near Pete's Rock.
I was invited by my friend and home teacher, Dave Fowler.
The day did not start out well. I set my alarm on my phone to go off at 6:10am; the only problem was my phone died sometime in the middle of the night. I did wake up on my own at 6:36am. I threw my gear into my pack and rushed out the door to meet Dave.
We started out journey up the trail around 7:15am. There were several other groups climbing the mountain that morning. Some solo, others in groups of 2-3. Dave's friend Anthony was late, so we started without him, knowing he would catch up.
Dave and I were passed about half way by a gentleman in his 70-80's. No crampons, or trex, but waterproof trail running shoes.
Anthony soon caught up, took off ahead of us. This is when I started to struggle.
I have been climbing, backpacking, mountaineering my entire life. My father taught us from a young age how to enjoy the outdoors, leave it better than you found it, and to become efficient in doing outdoor activities. My father is a Green Beret. He served our country in the Vietnam War. While in the service he meet and became friends with Greg and Dave Lowe. Greg went on to start Lowe Alpine Systems.
About 3/4 of the way up the mountain, my right hip started to hurt. It has really has never bothered me before, but it was killing going up. I started to lag behind, but then I kicked it into gear and made it to the south saddle. Anthony was drinking a Perrier Sparking Water and Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. I pulled out my large fresh blackberries, carrots and Greek yogurt (I was on Mount Olympus).

I shared the blackberries, and Anthony shared the thin mints. We then made our summit push. It was a bit more technical than I had thought it was going to be, but not bad at all. We pushed up and summitted. It was a beautiful view. I was thinking of Paul Petzoldt as I was approaching the top. Just his will and love of climbing mountains.
We soon came down and I was once again last in the group. It would have helped if I had whole trex, but it was my fault for snapping the strap on one. It was a great experience though. I learned a lot about my abilities, and how to be a better guide in the future, even though I wasn't guiding this trip. I made to the bottom where it was a nice 52 degrees on the east bench in Salt Lake City. It truly was a grate time for me as I train for the Teton Crest Trail and maybe the Grand Teton this summer.