This week I chatted with someone preparing to climb Mt. Everest.
This wasn't a metaphor for challenges she is facing or obstacles to be overcome; she intends to summit the mountain.
As we discussed her recent training trip in Nepal, she talked about preparation for combating high altitude sickness. I asked what she could do to prevent it and she named a medication, but quickly added, "the most important piece is addressing my fear."
I needed her to connect the dots. What does fear have to do with avoiding cerebral edema?
When we feel afraid our brains kick into survival and self-preservation mode. Adrenaline courses through the body causing the heart to race as it pumps blood faster and harder to large muscles, preparing them for the "getaway."
And while the heart is beating wildly, our lungs kick into a rapid, shallow pattern taking in oxygen quickly in case we need to defend ourselves or make a speedy escape. In and out goes the air, with less and less oxygen saturation.
The penny dropped.
Fear leads to the brain not being properly oxygenated. I knew that, but somehow it struck me differently in this context. And what amazed me more was how this woman has prepared herself to combat fear from genuine risk.
"One wrong step and I'd be falling thousands of feet into Tibet." Yikes.
Over the course of this last year, this adventurer has spent two hours a day quietly reflecting on her inner world, identifying issues that scare her and breathing through them. Over time she has come to associate one word with the relaxed, deep breathing that oxygenates her brain and saves her life.
So, on a Nepalese mountain, when crossing a raging waterfall, she thought of her word and immediately felt her body respond: muscles relaxed, lungs filled, thinking cleared.
I came away from our chat struck by the significance of these insights. Don't get me wrong, I don't intend to take up mountaineering. However, I feel like the principles she employs are brilliant for everyday living as well.
Today I am pondering my fears and how I might come back to truth, or a promise. What could be a redeeming trigger to bring me to peace when stressed?
With love and gratitude,
I'm in the final stages of labor.
It's an overused analogy but the similarities are striking. Writing a book is a lot like giving birth.
This week I am down to final edits on my second tome. I am working with the designer doing the layout and cover, and we're close to sending it to the publisher. But not yet.
These days are some of the most challenging for me in the writing process. Going back over the same material again and again requires detailed patience and perseverance. It's tempting to say, "Looks great. Let's be done and move on." (Not ideal if I desire a quality product!) I am thankful for people around me who are gifted in editing, repeatedly.
The hours spent capturing the story of my journey in pain from my broken-down jaw felt like the gestation period. Ideas came, stories unfolded and the project matured into what I believe God intends it to be. I loved writing of and remembering God's precious care and provision throughout. Growing the story was the easy part.
And then came labor.
Checking for grammar and spelling mistakes. Catching the 87 times I put the period outside the quotation marks instead of inside. (Thank goodness for "find and replace!")
This is the hard work, where my commitment to the task is challenged. This is when I can think of a hundred other things I'd rather do than edit my words one. more. time.
And this is where doubt seeps in. Will anyone read it? Will people be encouraged? Is it worth buying?
But a still small voice reminds me that those questions are not mine to answer, and I return to a well-worn lesson. My job is to be faithful to the call to write and publish this story. The result and growth of the "baby" is up to God.
So, let me be the first to introduce you to the next member of our Strom literary family:
But Pain Crept In: In the midst of suffering,
when loss burns to the soul, I give thanks
It is my hope that the book will be available for purchase before Christmas. Please message me if you would like to pre-order a copy and watch for further information in the coming weeks.
With love and gratitude,
This week our Abbotsford community lost a much-loved police officer in a senseless act of violence.
We are grieving the death of Constable John Davidson, who “lived his life to the fullest...John was a selfless individual who was always looking to better the lives of those around the community.”*
He continues to do so even now.
Yesterday I got on the #1 highway and headed west for a client meeting 30 minutes away in Langley. There seemed to be extra vehicle volume so I turned on traffic radio to determine my route.
I soon learned that a police motorcade had formed at Vancouver General Hospital and was beginning to escort Constable Davidson's body back to Abbotsford. Deep emotion rose as I considered his family in the line of cars slowly making their way out of the city.
I wasn't prepared for what I witnessed.
Along my route, on every overpass, stood hundreds of first-responders and civilians surrounded by police cars and fire trucks, lights flashing. And I saw accounts of thick crowds lining the streets of Vancouver and Abbotsford.
Such respect. Such honor.
I am deeply moved by the outpouring of support, love, and respect for this officer. And, I am deeply challenged.
I want to be part of a community where we hold an everyday attitude of respect, honor, and regard for people who serve and protect us, not just in face of tragedy.
May we all choose to love well.
With love and gratitude,
*from Abbotsford Police Union statement
It was mutual transformation at its best.
I have been to Cambodia twice in 18 months - the second time just last week. My first adventure came three short months after I joined the staff of Food for the Hungry (FH). Most recently I led a team of three other women on a vision trip to see first-hand the work God is doing through FH.
Trips with FH are unique. We don’t “do” anything for the people we visit. It’s a difficult concept for us North Americans to wrap our minds around but the impact of the time is profound.
One of my team members said, “Something was revealed on this trip that I find difficult to fully comprehend and yet I must continue to wrestle with the truth of it. I heard repeatedly, and from various sources, the deep significance of me, a woman and a foreigner, coming to visit the people of Cambodia. The impact of my visit there does not come from any tangible thing I bring to them. It comes simply from my presence among them.”
I, too, was moved by the importance Cambodian villagers and FH staff placed on us four women making the trek from Canada. Showing up spoke into their value – they are worth being visited. They felt encouraged to press on with their endeavors to provide for their families. We heard appreciation for how we took delight in their successes as they move from poverty to thriving. They felt supported.
Because of our presence.
I am privileged to be able to travel with my work and see hope-filled eyes of the most vulnerable. They are being changed by the power of God’s redeeming love and the sacrificial work of the Cambodian FH staff who daily walk alongside, teaching and mentoring.
And I am changed as well, because of their presence.
As I said to a friend in an email from Cambodia: “I love being here...feel like I'm picking up the piece of my heart I left here a year ago.”
Guess I’ll have to go back soon and get the piece I left there this time.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst