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The Mountains are Calling and I must Go

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Hallet Peak - Dream Lake

My wife, Kristy (5 months pregnant with Abby) at Dream Lake, below Hallet Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

“The Mountains are Calling and I must Go”, the quote is from famous naturalist and mountaineer John Muir. It’s a beautiful quote that adequately proclaims my love and enjoyment of the mountains. My love for the outdoors was instilled in my by my father, who from a very early age took me fishing, hunting, and camping in Colorado. Although we never took backpacking or climbing trips, my love for mountains eventually took me there, and now it has taken me from road running to trail running.

On a trip last Summer to Estes Park with my wife, we passed a placed called Hermit Junction, a place I was destined for had I not gotten married two years earlier. At times I envy the free spirt dirt bags that do nothing but climb rocks hike and sleep under the stars, but then I remember nature was often times medicine for when I felt lonely, confused, or frustrated with life. But now, we have a beautiful daughter and one more child on the way. I can’t wait to share the outdoors with them.

Abby has already survived numerous camping trips with us, and she is not even one year old yet (she turns one next week). There is just something about being outdoors, especially in the mountains that soothes the soul. There is something about being in nature that I feel draws one closer to God. I can’t say that everybody that enjoys the outdoors experiences the same thing, but for me it’s an undeniable experience. I have yet to take a trip to the mountains and not return refreshed with new perspective.

The outdoors provides something you don’t normally get while living in the city….silence! The opportunity to dialogue with yourself, to talk to God, to enjoy the beauty of creation. It gives you the opportunity to slow down (even when you are running). Trail running has become a way of escape for me, as opposed to road running where I would just plug in my headphones and jam out for 4-13 miles. Now, I’m running 6-25+ miles on the trails, sans headphones. Granted a lot of my focus and attention is on the run, but at times I’m able to just zone out, let the worries of the week fade away and enjoy nature. This is especially true on mountain runs, as I’m more focused on taking in the scenery than on how fast I am going.

Experiencing the outdoors is something I would encourage everybody to do. Even if it’s a short two mile hike from the trail head, you can see and experience things that most of the world never will. It changes your perspective, it makes you realized how small you really are, it helps clear the mind, it refreshes the spirit, and renews the mind. So, get outdoors, enjoy nature, let loose of the hustle and bustle.

Being a father rocks, 7 reasons why fatherhood is so amazing

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Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Abby and I at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas. Photo Credit: Brandon Hall

When I first got married I thought I wanted kids almost right away, but soon after Kristy and I were wed, fear hit me over the head and I saw what I thought would be a life that took away rather than give life. But the truth is that being a father is one of the most rewarding, life-giving things on this side of eternity. Here are my top seven reasons for why being a father is so amazing.

Selflessness by force

Are you selfish? Chances are, YES. Well, being a father will help you die to yourself and start living for another human being. If getting married didn’t help you with that enough, having a child will totally change your perspective on life.

A child will help you stop living for yourself and start investing in another. You spent the first 20 something years of your life living for yourself. Children allow you to grow beyond that and start investing/mentoring, just like your parents (hopefully) did with you.

Waking up to a smiling face

Waking up to your child smiling and bouncing around is pure joy. In the middle of writing this paragraph I actually got up just to see my daughter whom I heard spouting baby babble in the other room. She was excited to start the day and was ready to see her parents. It was a joy to take a break from writing to see her standing up in her crib smiling.

Teaching values

Just as your parents and mentors throughout life taught you the values that shaped who you are, parenthood gives you that opportunity to shape the life of another human being. As scary as it sound, it’s a huge privilege and should be taken seriously. And don’t be afraid of teaching YOUR values to your child. Just because you teach them what you believe to be right doesn’t mean they will go up accepting every single bit of it. Though I hold to many of the values my dad taught me through the years, there are some issues we don’t agree on.

Sharing your passions

When I grew up my dad would always take me camping, fishing, and hunting. I loved the outdoors. I always looked forward to our family trips to places like Colorado and Yellowstone National Park. I no longer fish or hunt, but my involvement in the outdoors lead to my love for camping, backcountry hiking, and rock climbing.

It’s these passions that I have already started sharing with my daughter. She is only eight months old and we have already taken her camping three times, and another trip already on the calendar.

Watching a human life grow

There is something amazing about watching a human life develop. From the moment my daughter emerged from the womb she has been learning, growing and observing life. It seems like every single day she develops a new skill or awareness. I’m in awe of how much a simple child can know. It’s an amazing reflection of God’s sovereign design and work in creation. The mountains, trees and streams have always blown my mind, but nothing is more mind-blowing and inspiring than watching a child grow.

Your worldview changes

Having a child helps you understand love in a whole new way. Scripture says God loves people like a father loves his child and it becomes clear just how deep that love is when you have a child. Depending on the household you grew up in, you might have experienced a great amount of love from your father, but you can’t truly know the extent of that love until you become a father.

Having a daughter of my own has helped me to value life in ways I never have before. I felt like I began to know her even when she was in the womb. Our relationship began before she even emerged to see the light of the world. Her activity in the womb gave us a pretty good indication of how she would be; active and happy, and that is just how she is today.

Joy in so many little things

There are countless little things that bring you joy. Seeing my daughter laugh and smile from getting tossed into the air, hearing her let out shrieks of excitement for no apparent reason, watching her pull up and stand for the first time, seeing her climb up the sides of the couch before she can even walk (hoping this is an indicator she will be a climber), and many other things are a simple delight.

When I first found out we were pregnant I was hesitant to accept the roll of fatherhood, and it was mostly for selfish reasons. But now that I have a child I wouldn’t trade her for the world, or any other experience. I love my daughter and am extremely thankful for her. I look forward to sharing many great and exciting experiences with her.