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Have you ever wanted to UNPLUG from the hectic busy pace of ministry life? That is the entire point of Yosemite Summit. It is a week where you are unplugged in every sense of the word. No computer, no e-mail, no phone calls, no work, no deadlines, no ‘emergencies’, no pressure. Better than a day off spent catching up on personal things – it is a complete break for the sake of complete rest and renewal.
I was once told by a very wise mentor, “Karl, you need to stop being a human doing, and learn to become a human being.”
That is what Yosemite Summit is all about. It is an annual cessation of activity. Too often we confuse busyness with what God is truly seeking from us. Not that we aren’t busy doing good things! But we get so busy doing these good things, that our relationship with God can grow distant, and soon God is wondering, why or who we are truly busy for?
Stopping, completely, once a year is an opportunity to recalibrate. It is a time for reflection and renewal. It is not a time of evaluating ministry goals and seeking a new “ministry vision” from God! It is a time of setting all that down and walking away from it.
Why? God did not save us to gain a worker. He can manage quite fine without us. (Something to consider when you are working so hard – God doesn’t need you!) He saved us that we might enter into a relationship with Him and get to know Him. If we are so busy working that we aren’t getting to know Him – than the working isn’t working. It is actually counter-productive to what God’s true aim is.
We are busy “making Him known,” but we forget the first half – “To know Christ, and to make Him known.” If we forget our relationship in the pursuit of the second half, we are then working to reproduce something that isn’t what God wants. No wonder many non-believers have no interest in becoming a Christian! They see a lot of busy-bodies, instead of disciples of Christ, men and women who walk with God.
To be in awe of God again…
So once a year I stop all the activity and simply walk with God for a week doing nothing else but enjoying Him. And I invite a small group to join me. It changes me and helps me continue that walk when I get back to my God-given work.
Will you join me this May? Only three spots remain.
Take some time and browse through the blog on YosemiteSummit.org – you’ll discover inspiration and the answers you have about this unique event.
I’m already praying for you… I just don’t know who you are yet.
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PS: If you need this Summit and can’t afford it, please let me know.
I am not one to toss around the words “favorite” or “best” lightly or often, so when I say that W. Bruce Cameron’s novel Emory’s Gift is my favorite novel, I mean it quite sincerely.
It is TRULY the best novel I have ever read. Never before have I laughed out loud reading a book, turned away from others lest they see my tears, or just cried boldly on a plane because I no longer cared if anyone saw my tears. I have read lines to strangers who had no idea what I was trying to express because they lacked the context, but I didn’t really care, because I just couldn’t keep that line or paragraph to myself. Cameron’s writing style and insight into the mind of a young boy is truly amazing, insightful, and downright hysterical at times.
Truly, I am Charlie Hall, the main character – a middle schooler, around whom the book revolves. And I miss him now like I lost a childhood friend I’ll never get to see again. So real did the author make him, and so vivid did he paint his memories, his experiences, his deep loves, such as Kate, a teacher he was convinced returned his love. (What boy hasn’t fallen head over heels for a teacher and pretended in his mind that it was mutual, even while he knew he was only kidding himself?) But eventually he found “true love” in Beth, a girl much closer to his age, who both befuddled and enchanted him with her spunk and charm.
Indeed, Cameron has written one of those rare novels where the greatest agony is not that the bear aspect of the story may or not be true, but rather the agony that Charlie Hall isn’t real. In the end, he hints at a conclusion the reader is perhaps to come to without directly telling it to him. It’s genius. I’ve never read a novel twice, but I will put this away only long enough to forget the details so that I can relive it. It might take several years, though, since I remember it as though I lived it. But when the time comes, I will journey with Charlie Hall again down memory lane.
Charlie is a boy who lost his mother to cancer and lives in a home with a nearly silent father who, while not a bad father, is withdrawn and dealing with his own grief while leaving Charlie to cope in his own way. An encounter with a wild grizzly bear in the woods that ends up becoming his best friend becomes central to the story – especially when the bear turns out to be perhaps more than just any bear. But I don’t want to include any spoilers, so I’ll leave the mystery of “Emory’s Gift” to those who are lucky enough to pick up a copy of the book.
Part of my connection to the book is that, like Charlie, I also lost my mother to cancer in 1996. It was also slow and painful. While I was a young adult at the time, my much younger brother was Charlie’s age, and he was still at home with an agonizing father. I saw a lot of my dad and brother in this story and in their journey toward moving on without the most loving mother this world has ever known. I am giving a copy of the book to my brother, an MLB reporter and writer who I think will greatly appreciate Cameron’s gift for storytelling. I believe it might bring some healing to his heart regarding the loss of his mom at that tender age and perhaps help him understand his dad a little better, who is now remarried and happy again. This book helped me heal some too.
I may have read somewhere that this is a book for children; however, I certainly would not recommend it for kids.* I do recommend it for the child in each of us, especially for grown men who remember the struggles of transitioning from childhood to manhood and the awkward inner (and literal!) battles they caused. Charlie’s former best friend Dan becomes a bit of an ‘enemy,’ even culminating in a classic school fight that is described both with heart and humor. It is certain to bring back many memories for men who faced the same coming of age battles in their younger years.
But it was the story of the bear that drew me to the book initially, for I encountered a bear at the age of ten, as well.
My First Yosemite Black Bear as an Adult, 2008
I was camping in Yosemite National Park at the time. I love to sleep outside, and since my nylon sleeping bag kept slipping off the plastic folding cot in the night and I’d awake in the dirt, one night my dad devised a plan to bungee cord my sleeping bag to the cot. I awoke in the middle of the night to gentle nudging in my side. Thinking someone was trying to awaken me, I peeked and discovered a large black bear sniffing me! Terrified, I only stared at my “Emory,” wondering if I was a midnight snack. Unable to speak or move, I just froze and watched (and felt) as he continued to sniff me, gently nudging into me. I remembered Forest Ranger Nina (my Kate of the week) telling us that bears never attacked campers, but that they had mauled people just trying to get food. With that thought came the realization that I had some jolly ranchers in my pocket.
The bear’s nose went under my cot, and as its massive head vanished, so did my hope of survival. I figured my final memory would be the shadow of its body without the head, when suddenly the bear lurched up, flipping my cot. At that point I figured it was “flip and slash” so I broke my silence and screamed like a girl. No offense to girls, I mean it actually as a compliment! (Did I mention I was bungee corded to the cot?) As I landed face down in the dirt, the cot on my back, my dad came out of the Winnebago Camper to save some screaming girl and saw the bear lumbering back into the woods, jolly-rancher-less, and discovered the screaming girl was actually his ten-year-old son.
Like a grown Charlie Hall, I have become a bear hunter in Yosemite ever since. You can read of my first bear discovery here: A Prayer BEARly Answered (Bear pictured above.)
The Black Bear I spotted last year, 2011
There are only 400 bears in Yosemite and over 5 million visitors annually, and every year God has blessed me with a bear sighting and the opportunity to photograph them. I have a series of photos now. I wonder, like grown Charlie Hall, if one of them is “my bear.” Of course, thirty years later, they can’t be…but its fun to wonder.
The Black Bear I spotted in 2010
So you can imagine the special connection I had to Charlie Hall reading Cameron’s novel.
Yosemite Black Bear from 2009
I hope Emory’s Gift causes many to pause and consider ‘mystery’ (for the book allows for mystery) and that the message that the book delivers (that I’m keeping from you to not spoil it) will open hearts to God. For parents, I hope that it will help them to connect better with their kids in difficult times, and for others, that it will encourage them to seize life and not allow hurt and pain to hold them back from enjoying what is next in life, to not let their Beth get away, because there may not be a second chance for everyone. (slight spoiler, but it ends well!)
WANT A FREE COPY?
The author mailed me a stack of hard cover copies to sponsor my podcast where I talk about the book, and I’ll be giving several copies away there, but I’ll give away a THREE FREE COPIES here on my blog as well! All you have to do is COMMENT ON THIS REVIEW and tell me a story about YOU and an ANIMAL. I will choose three people at random and contact you for your address!
It doesn’t have to be as dangerous or exciting as mine – you fed your cat this morning is fine! Just tell me a true animal story and you will be entered to win!
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you pick up a copy of Emory’s Gift as a gift for someone you love, especially men, for birthdays, Christmas and this upcoming Father’s Day! They will thoroughly enjoy it!
*Why don’t I recommend the book for children? While I found nothing offensive in the book at all, as an adult, it is a book that reflects on life as a young boy becoming a man. Therefore, there are a few references to girls and women in that context from the perspective of a grown man reflecting back on his discovery of girls, their development, the beauty of women, and relating to both. There is one mild reference to sex that while a child might miss it, is there nonetheless. It is a reference to his dad having sex with a woman that he didn’t figure out until ‘years later’ but the reader puts it together because the reader is assumed to also now be older than Charlie and also reflecting on the situation. (The whispering and giggling in the other room when the women spends the night. They eventually marry.) I’m curious how a child reading a few of these passages would process them, being in the middle of those life changes and discoveries. It was delightful and fun, never really offensive, but read like a book for adults reminiscing over those difficult years of discovery.
Wondering how to deleting all photos and videos from your iPhone?
In Summary: If you’re running low on space, use this technique to clean out your iPhone quick
If you are like me (and I know I am!) I am shooting pics and video on my iPhone daily. People are often shocked when they spot that I have 4000+ photos on my iPhone in the Camera Roll, not counting the ones in albums.
The other day I was at Walt Disney World shooting family memories like I normally do, when my iPhone suddenly alerted me to the fact that I was out of space. I was shocked considering that I have the iPhone 4S with 32GB of space! So that I could finish recording what I wanted, I did some emergency deleting of large apps I hardly use, (the iPhone kindly gives you a quick button the place to remove files and apps to get space fast).
I know the culprit of my space problem is photos and videos. Nearly half my space is taken up with all these pictures and videos! The problem is, when you import pics/vids to your iPhoto, while it gives you the opportunity after import to “keep or delete” if you opt to keep them (as I do) you are then stuck with them. I’ve tried going back and deleting bad or unwanted pictures, but what to do NOW that I have over 4000 pictures? That would take a VERY LONG TIME!
I have found the solution!
If you’re not familiar with the process (I wasn’t), you use the application Image Capture on your Mac. The nice thing about this process is that it uses a program that ships on your Mac from the start–in other words, FREE!
Here’s what you do:
Plug your iPhone into your computer
Open Image Capture
Created a new folder for the photos to go into
Check the box “Delete after import”
Click “Import All”
You will have a copy on your harddrive of ALL your pics/vids and your iPhone will be empty. You can then import that folder into iPhoto to make sure you aren’t missing any (checking “ignore any duplicates”) and then burn that folder to a CD for a backup and then delete it. (They are all in iPhoto after all!)
It’s good to have a fresh start after all.
If there are pics you want to have on your iPhone, simply put them in albums and sync those albums on your iPhone, and you’ll have them with you. No need to carry all of them with you all the time.
I plan to do this again about every six months now.
This is part of a series called 24 Days of Thankfulness. These posts are in RANDOM order, NOT priority order. Each is something I am thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving.
DAY #4: Photography
I am thankful for the gift of photography. Anyone who follows my blog knows that I love worshiping through my lens and post pictures all the time on this site. (often wallpapers and videos) I can’t imagine a world where we could not capture life and memories to look at later. Imagine all that we would forget if we didn’t have pictures to look to bring back the buried memories?
I am so thankful that we can now carry camera on our phones (even video cameras!) so that in a mere moment we can capture memories, beauty and fun moments to treasure for the rest of our life and then pass down to our family’s future generations. While it can be a lot to manage – it is a treasure.
If you are not on a Mac, it’s a lot harder to manage all your pictures!
If you are on a Mac and iPhoto is getting a little overstuffed with photos, did you know you can have multiple libraries? This is often not known! And it makes organizing your pictures even easier, as you can have separate libraries for different categories of life, and albums within those libraries and switch between them to keep it manageable.
On older OS, you just hold down ‘option’ while clicking iPhoto until it stops bouncing, let go of option, and then click iPhoto icon again, a pop up will appear asking you if you want to create a new library, or asking you which library you want to open. Yes, you can have libraries on external drives. Once you have multiple libraries, Lion will even allow you to switch between libraries.
Why would you want multiple libraries? For example, when I go to Yosemite, I might have over 5000 pictures from 8 guys! I don’t want my own iPhoto clogged up with all those pics, so I make a library named iPhoto Yosemite Summit 2011 and it is just those pictures, and have one each trip, and another for all the years combined. (There is an app for combining libraries too! But I don’t want to get too detailed here.)
Just wanted to pass on something practical in this post!
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Today I launched a little Thanksgiving Project over on Kidology.org called “24 Days of Thanks-Giving” – basically I am providing a simple Word doc you can download and every day from Nov. 1 until Thanksgiving add ONE thing you are thankful for.
It’s really just something I need to DO MYSELF – but I thought maybe others might want to join me, and I’d enjoy reading/seeing what others are thankful for. So you are welcome to use the Word doc, or just post in the forum what YOU are thankful for! So let me begin today, with my first post. These are NOT going to be in priority order, otherwise I’d have to go God, Family, etc. and then later on, people might judge me for putting one thing “above” or “before” another – so right out of the gate let me say, these posts will be in RANDOM ORDER of things I am THANKFUL FOR!
DAY 2 – God’s Word
DAY 3 – My Mom
DAY 4 – Photography
DAY 5 – Pandora
DAY 6 – George Lucas
DAY 7 – Breckenridge
DAY 8 – Barq’s
DAY 9 – Mercy & Grace
DAY 10 – Steves
DAY 11 – Freedom
DAY 12 – Luke
DAY 13 – Sara
DAY 14 – My Bookkeeper
DAY 15 – Science
DAY 16 – Da Cloud
DAY 17 – Awana & Sunday School
DAY 18 – My Dad
DAY 19 – True Friends
DAY 20 – Scottevest
DAY 21 – My Customers
DAY 22 – Tennis Balls
DAY 23 – Flight
DAY 24 – Jesus