Thursday, September 5, 2013

Be Brave

There I was, hands sweating and legs shaky, I was stuck in the middle of one of my first times lead climbing. It was hot, my knee was hurting, and my mind was trying to get the best of me as I gripped the rock tightly. Cory was below me belaying me, and a man and woman stood off to the side watching me attempt this climb. I was frustrated and I was scared and I kept telling myself that I couldn't do this regardless of what Cory or the couple watching said. I was stuck. I couldn't seem to trust my feet enough to move from my sturdy stance, the next move was too far, it seemed out of reach, at least for me. As minutes passed, I stayed in the same place, unable to make any kind of movement. "Keep at it," the man said, "it is in these moments that you have your biggest break-throughs."

I wasn't moving forward and I wasn't climbing down, instead I was at a stand-still, allowing myself to be completely vulnerable in a place and moment of weakness. So I built up the guts, and found some trust and found myself at the top of my first 5.8 lead climb.

Growing up I wasn't involved in many sports, unless you count cheerleading, which most people don't. I hardly pushed myself to excel in physical activities, not because I couldn't, but because it was foreign to me. I stuck to what I knew I was good at, rather than trying something new and learning if I was good at anything else.

Climbing has been a challenge for me, its been a growing process, but most importantly it's been such a real example of what life is meant to be, and even an example of what our relationships with God are supposed to be like.

Vulnerability, "the state of being exposed."

Each time I find myself on the wall, I find the unfamiliar feeling of vulnerability. It's an uncomfortable feeling and most the time I find myself giving into those feelings and giving up. But when I take a look back at that day on my first lead climb, I remember what that man said, "It is in these moments that you have your biggest break-throughs." BOOM, it hit me so hard. In our weakest moments, perhaps our most painful, is when God can truly use us and work through us. Because we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, or exposed, we are able to present our true selves and our true feelings rather than the masks we try and wear.

When we give into the vulnerability, we lose. We lose sight of every ounce of trust and ability to move forward and instead focus so hard on what we cannot do rather than on what we can do. What happens if I slip? What if I can't make the move? What if I can't hold on? What happens is, you fall into the harness, it catches you. But let me ask you this: what happens when you don't slip, when you do make the move, when you do hold on, when you push through those doubts and vulnerability? It's when you make your biggest breakthroughs... You realize you are capable and that the vulnerability is a fleeting emotion and able to be conquered.

I encourage you, whether it be in physical activity, your relationship with God, your relationship with others, or even just with life to push through your doubts and instead of remaining stand-still in a moment of weakness, to push on. Because whether you find success, or you fall... We serve a God who catches us, who uses us, who uses the good and the bad, the success and the failure.

Do you remember the story of Peter, when Jesus asked him to walk out onto the water? He asked him to do the impossible. Most of the time, God isn't asking you to do the impossible... Most of the time, he is asking you to just be brave and make a step in any direction.

So be brave, take chances and live your life... because I promise you that whether you find success or you find failure, there will still be accomplishment in the fact that you tried and pushed yourself in moments of vulnerability. Because it is in those weak moments, that we have our biggest breakthroughs.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Proposal

It all began when Cory and I embarked on an adventure with two of our closest friends, Steven and Sheena. Wednesday night we (Steven) drove through the night to arrive in Yosemite Valley at 4:00AM. When we arrived, Cory whipped out his sleeping bag and waited in line for wilderness permits and if we were lucky we would be able to get permits for half dome as well. After a slight change of plans, we began our adventure that same day.
The first day of our backpacking trip was mostly switchbacks in high elevation, which was very difficult for me due to my breathing and forgetting my inhaler. But after a long trek, we finally made it to the second lake of Sunrise Lakes and it was more than worth it. We spent the afternoon setting up camp, jumping off rocks, and swimming to the island.

Sunrise Lakes at Sunrise
Swimming in Sunrise Lakes!
The next morning when we rose, Cory and I sat out on a rock near the lake for about 20 minutes just soaking up the beauty that our God placed before us. Before we knew it, we were back on the trail and heading to Cloud’s Rest. The hike up Cloud’s Rest was probably one of the most nerve-racking things I have ever done. With a drop on both sides of thousands of feet, it’s safe to say that I was shaking in my boots, literally. But just like most things in life that challenge us, the growth and the outcome are so much greater than the fear that keeps us from even trying. When I made it to the top, the view was breathtaking and I felt so accomplished after facing my fear of heights. However, my true fear was not Cloud’s Rest, but the hike we would be attempting on our last day… Half Dome.
Hike up to Cloud's Rest

That night at camp we talked a lot about Half Dome, mostly about my nerves and how it wasn’t an option: I was getting to the top. When I talked out loud, I tried to sound as confident as I could. But inside my heart raced at the thought of how high I would be and the risks of falling or slipping. We celebrated our last night in the back country with a freeze-dried food fest and hot chocolate. When the rest of us headed to bed, Cory was able to finally fulfill his dreams of seeing and scaring off a bear. The rest of us may not have seen the bear, but were definitely entertained by the sounds of Cory scaring it off.
We rose at 5:30AM to clean up camp and head to the Sub Dome to begin our hike up Half Dome. Not too long after we began our hike Sheena and Steven forgot something and turned back which left Cory and I getting a head start on our hike. I knew this was part of God’s plan because it allowed for a lot of time of prayer and focus during this quiet time. After a while of incline, we finally reached the base of Sub Dome where Cory realized he forgot his permit and any form of identification. Luckily, the park ranger asked him a few questions and went ahead and let us through.

Stair after stair, we finally made it to the top of the Sub Dome and took a seat as the infamous Half Dome stared me straight in the eye. From where I was standing, it looked completely vertical and unattainable. I didn’t allow myself to stare too long, because I knew that in my mind it would only look bigger and bigger the longer I looked at it. So I tightened my boots, pinned back my hair, and we walked toward the cables. 

After praying with our group and a few others, we didn’t hesitate starting up the cables. Steven went first, who was followed by Sheena, then myself and Cory. I gripped both sides of the cables and with each step I planted my feet firmly on the rock. My motto in life is to always “Take Pride in Little Victories” and I followed this with this challenge. Every 10 feet there was a piece of wood to stand on and each of those were my “little” victories ultimately leading me to one of my biggest accomplishments yet.
With my head down, I went up the cables quietly mostly because in my head I was praying and asking God to do it with me. In front I had encouragement from both Steven and Sheena, and behind me Cory was cheering me on the whole time. Before I knew it, I hear Steven yelling “This is really happening!” and I knew we were nearing the top. A rush of emotions, including excitement and adrenaline, flooded me as I made it to the top.
I still cannot explain the way I felt at that very moment because it was such a foreign feeling. I had never challenged myself in any way like that and the reward was so pure. And I know looking back why God placed Cory in my life. He not only prays and helps me through my fears, but he also challenges me to face my fears, to conquer them. In every aspect of my life, he teaches me not to put limits on myself mentally, physically, and spiritually because ultimately our God is limitless. At the top of Half Dome, it was the first time I truly challenged myself in all aspects, leaving me feeling simply limitless.
As if that epiphany wasn’t enough, more emotion was headed my way. After taking some pictures of Steven and Sheena out on the diving board, Cory and I headed out to do the same. After waiting for one of the two Brazilian couples for about five minutes, I heard the other couple yell something in Portuguese to the couple on the diving board, and they quickly hopped off. Then it was our turn, we walked out to the edge of the diving board and quickly posed for a few photos because I was anxious to get off of the ledge. When we finished, I went to turn around and walk away when Cory says, “Wait a minute. You just accomplished probably one of the scariest things you’ve ever done. With that, I have a question for you.” “No you don’t!” I spitted out of my mouth without hesitating as I am thinking, what could he possibly have to ask me on a ledge 3000 feet off the ground? He continued“You are my best friend, and I love you more than anyone in this life. I don’t want to spend my life with anyone else.” Then before I could blink, he reached in his back pocket and got on his knee while tears ran down my face. “Julia Callahan, will you marry me?”
There I stood, thousands of feet off the ground after conquering my fears, the man I’ve prayed for since I was a little girl was on his knee asking to keep me forever. With cheering and screaming from people who were watching, I said yes to forever and yes to always with this incredible man God blessed me with.
I had dreamt about that moment for my whole life, and it is so beyond anything anyone can imagine or can explain. Just like my rush of emotions when I conquered Half Dome, I couldn’t quite explain how I felt other than feeling limitless. For lack of a better word or explanation, it actually was the perfect word or way to explain us.
Our marriage and relationship with each other will be limitless and we will both encourage one another than our relationships with our Heavenly Father are that way as well. I could say that Half Dome changed my life, but Half Dome is just one of the locations God used to provide that change. It’s the people and the challenge and accomplishments that truly change our lives.
I once read a quote that stated, “I found my heart upon a mountain I did not know I could climb, and I wonder how many other pieces of myself are secreted away in places I judge I cannot go.” Life is about learning and true learning is about experiencing life and the challenges it offers. Find someone who makes you live life limitlessly, I certainly found that person for me and he’s not just my best friend, he is the man I get to share forever with and every mountain and rock in between.
Cheers to Adventure and Cheers to Forever.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Mortal Man

Psalms 56:3-4 says, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”
I’ve always had this belief about scripture and really anything you read that you hear or translate things differently based on your circumstances or current time of life. This verse, which I have on a post-it note on my monitor at work, is one that I read on a daily basis as a reminder to trust in the Lord regardless of life’s circumstances. But over the past week or so, this verse has revealed so much more emotion.
Last week, a dear friend of mine Paige Nair, lost her husband in a motorcycle accident. As if that isn’t traumatic enough, she is due any moment for her first baby, Liam. As my prayers have been constantly for her, I’ve been putting myself in her shoes and each time it so difficult to find understanding, trust, and comfort…

What can mortal man do to me?” How strong are these words?

As humans, I strongly believe that we live life as though we are almost invincible, as if there will always be a tomorrow. I find myself believing without a doubt that I’m guaranteed to get married, have kids, and grow old because that’s what is suppose to happen…right? Well, I am learning these past few months that life is so incredibly fleeting. When we are here on earth, we become attached to our lives although the Bible clearly tells us not to. We become attached to people, lifestyles, relationships, or even just the plans that we have. Then, being caught off guard, these people, lifestyles, relationships, or plans that we had are ripped from our fingertips without any understanding, which most always leads to anger, hurt, pain, confusion, bitterness, or depression because those things we held dearly we believed belonged to us. But if we are never guaranteed tomorrow, how can we claim anything to be ours? I am so troubled by this idea of not holding onto the things of the world but I am finding comfort in one incredible fact: I may not have the power to guarantee my life or the lives of the ones I hold dear to me, but I can guarantee that if they share the same belief in the Father as I, HE does have the power to protect them here on earth and a plan for their arrival into our true home in Heaven. I’ll tell you what mortal man can do to me, he can cause me hurt, anger, depression, unhappiness, and make me forget that GOD is never surprised by the happenings of our life; He is NEVER caught off guard by our circumstances.

There are so many things in life that we are unable and completely incapable of understanding, one of these things is death, especially when it is sudden. I cannot begin to understand the feelings of those who have lost loved ones too soon without the chance to say goodbye. But I do understand the God I serve and He is GOOD, He is POWERFUL, He is LOVING, and He is our FATHER who guarantees His children an eternity after this life. So although we won’t ever be able to find understanding of the terrible happenings in this life, we can have peace that God knew it was going to happen and He has it all under control and holds us all so dearly and closely to His heart. It’s okay to be afraid, God calls us to be fearful, but we obey what we fear and we are called to trust and have faith.“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lock and Key

         Windows, doors, cars, safes, lockers, and suitcases… what do these things all have in common? They all have locks on them. We have grown up in a world that has made us feel insecure with leaving our possessions unlocked or unprotected of some sorts. Haven’t we done the same with our very own hearts? We get hurt once or twice causing us to lose trust in someone or something and we lock away our hearts for safe keeping, separating them from a world of hurt and pain. When really, our hearts are never really safe or secure in our own hands or even the hands of anyone of worldly matter. Instead, they remain safe and secure in the hands of the Lord who although remains unseen in heaven, is never truly separated from us. It’s easy to say out loud and possibly even to believe that our hearts remain safe somewhere, somehow, but is it easy to do?
         As a child, we are told about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and many other unseen characters. So when we are young we are taught and we learn to trust what is unseen. Although we later grow and learn that these are all fictional characters, we learn that there is one that remains constant: Our Father in Heaven. We look back and see where he was, how he worked and tested us, and when he kept our hearts in safekeeping. I was reminded yesterday by my dear friend Meredith that we need to believe in our Lord the way we believed in Santa Claus, not just by saying it, but by believing it and being filled with the spirit of Christ. When you ask a young child about Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, they believe in it with their whole heart, without a doubt. If only we could capture that and truly understand why we are called the children of the Lord, to not only have faith and innocence, but also the absence of doubt.  We need to believe in our Lord without a doubt and that once our hearts remain in him, how safe and secure we are and that nothing can prevent us from reaching our eternal destination.  We live in a world where everything is locked up and stored away, whether it be our possessions or our hearts. What we do not realize is that there are so many locks and not enough keys and that the true key lies within the Lord when we choose to believe in Him.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” {1 Corinthians 13:12}
But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, ‘Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole’" {Luke 8:50}
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” {Psalm 73:26}
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows" {Proverbs 4:23}
“But I was sure of something, too: it's a lot easier to be lost than found. It's the reason we're always searching, and rarely discovered--so many locks, not enough keys” {Sarah Dessen}

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Path Less Traveled

"You are on the path of My choosing. There is no randomness about your life. Here and now comprise the coordinates of your daily life. Most people let their moments slip through their fingers, half-lived. They avoid the present by worrying about the future or longing for a better time and place. They forget that they are creatures who are subject to the limitations of time and space. They forget their Creator, who walks with them only in the present. Every moment is alive with My glorious Presence, to those whose hearts are intimately connected with Mine. As you give yourself more and more to a life of constant communion with Me, you will find that you simply have no time to worry. Thus, you are freed to let My Spirit direct your steps, enabling you to walk along the path of Peace." 
-Jesus Calling {05.01.13}

There is just something about knowing that there is no randomness about my life. That no matter how much free will I have, there is a kind of order and plan the Lord has for me. All too often, I find myself with my own plan, allowing moments to simply slip through my fingers like thousands of grains of sands. And those moments are precious because time is the one thing we cannot get a hold on or get back. We are always worrying about what has happened in the past or what will happen in our future, whether it is a few minutes in the past or a few years in the future, thoughts stream through our minds consuming our time and our feelings in the present. Let me ask you a question, how often does your mind focus on what you have to do, or simply worry about what has just happened in your life? Our mind is trained to this, because of the fast paced world we live in there is simply too much going on to focus on the present. We think about how our past decisions will impact our future ones, when in reality it's what we do NOW that matters. Why are we so quick to forget that we are imprisoned by time? There's nothing we can do to get back the past or obtain what lies ahead of us in the future. Instead we are limited to 24 hours a day because plainly, we cannot handle any more than that. 
There is no peace found in this world, simply temporary fractions of it. But we do have eternal peace on the path we walk with our Lord. "A life of constant communion..." what does that even look like? Its constant surrender, ongoing recognition of the blood that was shed for this very time we call the present that we all too often take advantage of. The exceedingly undeserving act that freed us and allowed us to walk a path that leads to eternal life with our Lord and Creator. Take a look back at your life; do you see any evidence of God's workings in your past? I guarantee you that His hands molded worrisome situations you felt were out of your control. Now what would it look like if we recognized that He is always present, always beautifully molding our lives and moments as we walk with him? Of course seeing the final product puts things into perspective and pieces it all together, but do we have enough faith in Him to let Him do His work as we simply enjoy and recognize his presence?  That's what the path of Peace looks like to me... because how could I worry about life and the distractions it presents, when I know the Creator of the very life I am living walks beside me for encouragement, communication, guidance, love, and grace. In that kind of life, there is no time for worry and no time to focus on anything besides the present. Take the path of Peace less traveled by.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cloudy days, Cloudy daze.

Most of the time, cloudy days bring happiness and contentment and the excitement of sipping on something warm and snuggling up close to my favorite person under a warm blanket. Today, was a cloudy day and although it was the same weather that usually brings me those warm feelings, today was a little different than normal. Today, I was feeling distracted.

There has been this feeling I've had lately that has been wearing down my happy, joyful, normal persona and I have struggled lately to figure out exactly what that feeling is. And then today, when the clouds covered the sky I also realized that it too was my mind that has been clouded. I've struggled lately with worrying and stressing about small details in my life, not knowing I was giving Satan an open door into the most dangerous place he could enter into: my mind. I'm learning as time goes on that life is all about the mindset and when we trap our thoughts in our minds, we imprison them, allowing Satan to work between the lines of our thoughts. And my thoughts as of late, have begun affecting me and bringing me down to a mindset that is completely negative and worrisome, keeping me from sharing my feelings. 

I've never been the best at communication. I can sit down and talk for a hours, giving advice, but a lot of the time, I'm trapping my deepest thoughts and worries in my mind, giving Satan something to work with to bring me down. How did I make it so easy for him? Well, that's just how he works, like a lion waiting to catch his prey. Before I knew it, my mind was clouded and so was my judgement, causing me to be distracted and my feelings to be altered. And then I remembered...

When the sky is covered with dark and gloomy clouds for a long period of time, we start to forget what clear skies look like. We bundle up in our coats and scarves and conform to the weather and it isn't until the smallest of light that shines through those clouds that we truly remember what sunshine feels like. And one day, we wake up to clear skies and the warm sun which always makes us feel refreshed and renewed. 

We don't get to control what days are sunny and what days are cloudy, but we do get to control the mindset we have on those days. I won't allow my mind to be clouded any longer, because I see the sun shining through the smallest of places to remind me that those clouds simply cover, not erase what lies behind them and sometimes, all it takes is a little faith that the sunshine will come streaming though. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013


George Mallory, who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest once said, "People ask me, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?' and my answer must at once be, 'It is of no use.' There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron... If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.” Today, I got to experience a bit of an adventure myself and that was my first outdoor climb. Growing up, I've always done what is right and good in the eyes of others. I always obeyed the rules and tried to learn from others' mistakes. It was rare that I did the unordinary, that I stepped out of 
my comfort zone and really lived. And today, I did just that. 


Words cannot really explain the feelings that flow through your mind and soul when you truly accomplish something you were afraid of and so hesitant about. But I did it. I put faith in myself and set my mind to doing something out of the box, out of my comfort zone, something challenging. The greatest part about the entire climb was reaching the top... not because it was over but because I accomplished something that I thought was out of reach. And in that very moment I realized what God wants for my life. He wants me to experience and live in his creation instead of worrying about what could happen. Matthew 6:27, "Can any one of you by worrying, add a single hour to your life?" Worry does nothing but allow ache and stress into the mind that God created to be free and passionate about his gift of creation and life. I am learning each & every day what it is like to truly be alive and most of the time it's doing something new and scary. With the right amount of caution and a good head on my shoulders I am learning that I can achieve what I put my mind to & today that is 
what I learned. Many people may think it's reckless or perhaps irresponsible... but it's so much more than what meets the eye.
A Symbol of God's Promise
Life is all about learning how to dance in the rain, its all about weathering the storm & taking what life throws at you... because most of the time, it's what God has placed directly in your path for you to overcome. What mountain did God place in your path to conquer? You are a conqueror & so am I. 
He sees the adventurer in me & so much more.