One Year Later


I’ve been awake most of the night…remembering and thinking ahead.

It was at 4:16 a.m. on January 9, 2014, that I woke up with horrible pain in my legs and found myself unable to walk.  I’ve written about this in previous posts, so I don’t intend to revisit that moment and all that followed in the process of getting worse before I finally got better.  If you care to read about that experience, then go to:

So I will call this my “new year” celebration.  These days I am walking, hiking, running and weight training.  I do not need a wheelchair or a cane to get across a room.  At sunrise, I will head into the mountains as my way of giving thanks to God for the healing in my legs.  This new year finds me hopeful and forward looking.  In June, I will be heading to Colorado to compete in the “Train to Hunt” challenge in the Super Master’s Division.

train to hunt

The Super Master’s division is for men who are 50 years of age and older.  I’m already wondering if they will add another division for those who are 60 years old and beyond when I reach that age in 2017.  Perhaps they could call it the Senior Master’s division.  If you want to see what this is like, check out this video:

I am training hard for this event.  I am pushing myself like never before…and it is fun.

Having been immobilized one year ago today, I have no intention of slowing down or standing still.  I do not say this out of pride, but out of overwhelming gratitude.  It was only when I could not walk that I learned to take each step…each hike…with joy and thanksgiving.  One year ago I wondered if I would ever climb a mountain again or head out on a hunting trip.

Even though the odds of being drawn for big game hunting with my bow are stacked against me in New Mexico Department of Game and Fish annual quota system (, I am already excited about applying.  I will apply to hunt for elk, deer, ibex, oryx, pronghorn, bear and aoudad.  Even if I only succeed in being drawn for one of these hunts, then I will be thankful.  For if I am drawn, then I will be able to feel the sweat rolling down my back and the burn in my legs as I carry my pack through the mountains in pursuit my quarry…and it will be wonderful.


Several people have inspired me during this past year.  They keep me motivated to train hard and stay strong.  So I want to give a tip of my hat to the following people:

Zac Griffith:

Cameron Hanes:

Matthew Ament:

Kenton Clairmont:

Most of all, I thank the Lord for my wife, Kirsten. She supports me and cheers me on.  She never complains about my training for hunting or the time I spend away from her in the mountains.  In fact, she rejoices when I bring home venison for our family to enjoy.  So thanks, Kirsten.  Here’s to you!


A New Year?


Most of this was written for the members of my congregation in our January newsletter.  Several people suggested that I share it on my blog for a wider audience.  I have added a few additional thoughts.

I hope…and pray…this blesses you in some way:

What makes a year new? Once a new year has arrived, how long does it remain new before it becomes old?

So we are now in the year 2015. It is called a “New Year” even though 2014 was only one year old when we closed the books and moved on.

It is not my guess, but my experience, that for many of you this so-called “new year” already feels a lot like all the “old years” that have come and gone.  Based on what I’ve read in some of your Facebook posts and comments, the “new” year already feels tired, worn-out and just more of the same old, same old.

Thanks be to God, we do not depend on a new cycle of 365 days in order to be made new.  Praise the living Lord, we do not have to buy new calendars in order to have a fresh start.  Let us glorify the living God who makes all things new in Christ.

In Christ, you have already been made into a new creation. Through baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus the Savior, the old you has been put on the cross and the new you has been raised up with Him.

Whatever shame, regret, mistake or sin from your past is weighing you down, the God who loves you wants you to know that in Christ you are fully forgiven, fully restored and fully loved.  You no longer need to live each day tied down to your past.  You can live each day in the freedom of God’s saving love.

This is the promise of God’s Word:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  II Corinthians 5:17-21

The Lord has called a new you into being. You have been washed clean through the blood of Christ. You have been raised up to new life with Jesus. You are now an ambassador for Christ!

So even when 2015 feels tired and worn out…if it doesn’t already…remember that the gift of newness has been freely bestowed on you by your Father in heaven.


Training for a Purpose

I remember the hot summer days of baseball practice when I was a boy.  Between the heat and humidity, I would always come home soaking wet.  My first experience of organized baseball took place when I was in third grade.  We were the Skipwith Twins in Richmond, Virginia.


Our coaches were very serious about practice.  One was a grandfather of a teammate; another was the father of a boy on our team; the third was a young college man preparing to be a physical education teacher. There was no time for goofing off or not paying attention.  We ran the bases…a lot.

A few years later I was still playing ball, this time at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, with my father as the head coach.  We practiced hard, played harder and won the Little League Championship that summer.  I was the catcher and often played second base.  In the championship game, my dad told me that I would be pitching since our starter was out with an injured shoulder.  I had never pitched a game before, but with Dad’s encouragement and my teammates’ support, I took to the mound.  All I could throw were fastballs.  At the end of the ninth inning, we walked away with the league championship.


I thought baseball practice was tough until I started playing organized basketball.  Some call them line drills, others call them suicides, killers or wind sprints. If you’ve played basketball, then you know what I’m talking about.  We did them in junior high, high school and college.  Two of my three coaches used them as a form of punishment.  If we did something the coach disliked, then it was on the line for killers.  I remember several teammates vomiting after the coach had us doing them for over 30 minutes.  One played actually passed out.

At Patton Junior High School in Kansas, we practiced hard and still had great fun.  I was already 6’3″ tall in 9th grade, so I played center. We won more games than we lost, but didn’t take home any championship trophies as I recall.


At Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia, I played with some of the best athletes I ever knew.  Practices were intense and demanding.  Our coach hated to lose…and when we did, the next day’s practice would reflect his anger.  We were district champions one year.  Several teammates went on to play Division I basketball in college.


I played basketball at a small Lutheran college in Decorah, Iowa.  The Luther Norsemen were all guys who played for the love of the game as our college did not have athletic scholarships. I remember cold winter nights walking up the hill for supper after practice in the Field House…just in time before the cafeteria closed.


It’s been a long time since I played on any organized sports teams.  We did have flag football and pick-up games of basketball in seminary.  Some of my congregations had church league softball teams as well.  These days, I work-out for overall health and to stay in shape for the rigors of hunting elk and deer with my bow here in the mountains of New Mexico.  I hit the gym regularly for weight training and hike in the mountains behind my house at 5:30AM on most mornings.

Now I have a new goal.  I am going to compete in the 2015 Train to Hunt Challenge in Colorado this coming June. I have a serious conditioning program for the next five months so I can be ready.  It almost feels like I am a kid again preparing for baseball or basketball season.

That said, at 57 years of age I am anything but a kid. In fact, I will be in the “Super Masters” division for men over the age of 50.  That’s just a polite way for all the youngsters to refer to the old men.

I plan to train hard and give it my all. Perhaps I will bring home a medal for my age group…which is actually a painted cam of a compound bow.


Even if I come in dead last, it will be great training for fall hunting.  I don’t use an ATV or ride a horse like many big game hunters my age.  Call me stubborn. If I can’t get there using my legs, then I don’t want to go.


There won’t be any coaches yelling at me to run faster…and no teammates with whom to train.  Even so, I can still hear their  voices telling me to move quicker and jump higher.  They will be with me in spirit on the mountain as I push myself harder each day.  Maybe I’ll see you there.  If so, then feel free to shout out your encouragement…or tell me to get on the line for some killers.