What you see from Mountain Tops

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A week ago, our family hiked to the Highest Point East of the Mississippi – Mt. Mitchell – just a couple of hours from our home in North Carolina. It is amazing what you can and can’t see from a mountaintop.

Obviously, on a clear day from the top of a mountain you can see grand vistas and miles and miles of land laying out before you. When we were at Mt. Mitchell, we could see for probably a hundred miles to the West. On the other hand, you can literally have your view “clouded” at that height. Despite the fact that it was a beautiful fall day, our view to the East was only a mile or two as that side of the mountain was foggy and cloudy.

The other thing that struck me that day was that your perspective changes on the mountaintop. You sort of feel in a power position until you start to try to focus on specific things in the valley below you and recognize that the details are hard to make out from up there. You can gain a broader understanding of the terrain around you, but the exact twists and turns, rivers and rocks that you might encounter are difficult to discern.

The mountaintops of our lives can be the same – it feels great to be soaring high and seemingly in control of things. But when you look out on the horizon of your life from those high moments of life, it is sometimes a clear view and other times a bit cloudy. I’ve been experiencing this feeling a lot lately. Things are going great – a healthy, loving family, fantastic new house, professional successes, financial stability. But when I look out across the landscape, it is difficult to see the details of what might be ahead. Things are a little hazy and cloudy. So here’s what we did when we were on the physical mountaintop…

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We found the trail and started to walk down. And you know what we found out? There were things on that trail that were WAY cooler than what we could see from the mountaintop. There were interesting plants, rocks to climb on, side trails to explore, warm sunshine, and cool shady areas. It was rocky and steep in places and smooth and easy to walk in other places. But the journey along that trail was may more fun than just standing on the mountaintop.

I think that’s the plan for me in life today too – time to head down the trail and see what else is down there. I’m sure there will be some surprises, the trail may get tough again. But the walk is the adventure and life can only really be experienced if you get off your mountaintops and keep on going. Here’s to a good walk down life’s next trail.

Eat an Elephant One Bite at a Time

This year I’ve been training for a marathon and this Saturday – December 14, 2013 – I’m going to finally run it! Training for a marathon has really illuminated the saying we’re all familiar with: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It would be very difficult to decide to run a marathon one week before the race or even 6 weeks before the race and expect to be mentally and physically prepared. It is a large task and it requires you to consistently train and prepare over a long period of time. Many days it seems like you are making very little progress towards the goal, but each run builds a cumulative effect on your body to be up for the task.

Similarly, this lesson has been going on in my life in 2013 as well. During the first half of the year I was in a very difficult work situation. I continued to try to ‘bite off’ the whole problem at once and it seemed to get worse every time I tried to do that. Finally, not out of enlightenment but frustration, I just threw up my hands and stopped trying to ‘fix’ the problems all at once. I turned the situation completely over to God and just asked that HE give me bites that I could handle when I could handle them. The job situation didn’t get better, but I did feel a sense of calm and confidence that I could handle each day’s bite. It wasn’t long until a door opened for a new opportunity that has led to a new career that is the most rewarding and satisfying I’ve ever had professionally. I have brought the ‘one bite at a time’ mentality along with me to the new job and I have seen tangible results from this approach.

What I’ve learned from all of this and have seen results with over the last 6 months is that you need to just focus on eating what is in front of you each day. There is no need to try to take a bigger portion because you feel great today and there is no need to worry about how big the problems or opportunities are going to be tomorrow and shy away from what is on your plate today. All I can do is focus on the moment, eat what the good Lord puts in front of me each day, and remember that life is marathon training and can’t be done all at once.

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