Posted by: hikerdude | September 30, 2016

58 Reflections on Turning 58

vegas-three-amigos-189I was born in 1958, so that means I will be 58 years old tomorrow. In honor of this milestone I have reflected on a few important life lessons I’ve learned on this journey.  Maybe you will find a few of these useful.

  1. I’ve come a long way, but I’ve still got a ways to go yet.
  2. Up ain’t easy, but it sure is worth it. Exceptional moments come with a steep price most are unwilling to pay.
  3. We are called to the abundant life, not the redundant life. Change and risks are necessary – get used to it; embrace it and enjoy the adventure.
  4. Life is a series of sacrifices. You can make selfish, short-term sacrifices on the altars of idols and the gratification is almost immediate but short-lived; or you can make selfless, long-term sacrifices on the one true God’s altar and the payoff may be delayed, but it will echo throughout all eternity.
  5. A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it is the basic structure of a good story and a good life.
  6. All investments are costly on the front end, but bad investments are costly on the back end too.
  7. Prepare a good plan. Pray about it. Think about it. Bounce it off other people and get good counsel. Then work the plan. Do it in the right order, at the right time and with the right people.
  8. Every long journey and every difficult task is a matter of steps.
  9. 40 Year high school reunions aren’t just for old folks anymore, and thank goodness most of us have grown up since high school.
  10. Music is a time machine and the 70’s had the best music. But it’s too bad drugs killed most of the great musicians.
  11. “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” G.K. Chesterton
  12. As you get older, you have to make a lot of hard decisions and do difficult things. That is known as responsibility – that tough adult stuff.
  13. As your metabolism slows down the calendar speeds up.
  14. Get (self) out of the way, follow (Jesus) and (then) lead.
  15. People are listening and watching. Don’t do or say stupid stuff! They just might follow your example.
  16. Having children of your own will teach you more about God’s love for you than all the sermons you will hear in your lifetime.
  17. The older I get, the more wisdom and patience I recognize in how my parents raised me.
  18. Hindsight gives insight. Most of the gain in life does come at the price of pain and sacrifice.
  19. Lessons learned the hard way are remembered best.
  20. Marrying my wife is the most important decision I ever made, other than following Jesus.
  21. There are a lot of beautiful places in this world, and I’ve still got a lot I have not seen yet.
  22. Everyone has some expertise I don’t, and I can learn something from everyone if I will listen and pay attention.
  23. “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men” Proverbs 22:29
  24. An extraordinary life has never been lived in the comfort zone.
  25. Timing is critical. We often pray for the tasks, but rarely for the timing.
  26. My children have been such a joy in my life; it is hard to imagine what grandchildren will be like.
  27. Every day, I mediate my past with my future. My past has prepared me for my future. If I pay close attention, there are themes which will lead me to my dreams.
  28. God has a sense of humor. The things that used to scare me most are now areas where I find some of my greatest joy.
  29. “’He must increase, but I must decrease.’” John 3:30
  30. The great tension in life is to live fearlessly without dying foolishly.
  31. Our lives are telling a story, so we need to live a compelling one what will make the “readers” want to stay engaged in the story. Chapters will end and new ones will begin, with different characters and settings.
  32. There is a lot of truth in the butterfly principle: it is the struggle that strengthens us.
  33. BUSY – Burdened Under Satan’s Yoke. “If the Devil can’t make us really bad, then he’ll try to make us really busy.” Craig Groeschel
  34. Hiking is cheaper than therapy.
  35. The things that bother me most about other people are usually a mirror God uses to reveal something ugly about myself that needs to change.
  36. Spend more time with your parents. They won’t always be here, and you will miss them terribly when they are gone.
  37. Encourage people every chance you get. Life is hard and everyone is going through something difficult.
  38. When you think about telling someone you appreciate them, take the opportunity to do so. You may not have another chance in the future.
  39. You cannot be an overcomer without obstacles to overcome.
  40. There are lessons in life which are best taught in losses. If you can learn from your losses you gain wisdom never attained in wins.
  41. Don’t worry about little stuff. Most of it is little stuff.
  42. Every season is beautiful. Enjoy the unique beauty of each season and don’t waste time bemoaning the change.
  43. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
  44. One of the best ways to earn the respect of others is to show them respect.
  45. Our emotions greatly influence our decisions. It is said the major emotions are: sadness, anger, disgust, fear and joy. The negatives outnumber the positives 5-1. Do you think we need an objective opinion or two before making important decisions which are charged with emotions?
  46. Do the things on your bucket list before you are too old or sick to do them.
  47. If you want to be outstanding, you have to stand out. That means you will necessarily be different from the rest of the herd.
  48. Take action. Talk is cheap. God says “Well done,” not “Well spoken or well thought.”
  49. “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost;…” R.R. Tolkien
  50. Both courage and cowardice are contagious.
  51. “Most Christians are being crucified on a cross between two thieves: Yesterday’s regret and tomorrow’s worries.” Warren W. Wiersbe
  52. Set goals; then, begin and continue on toward those goals with the end in mind.
  53. Freely forgive, and that includes forgiveness for yourself.
  54. Find your calling, whatever it may be, and pursue excellence in it with a passion.
  55. If people would quit calling and hiring the lawyers with all the TV commercials and billboards we wouldn’t have to look at so many lawyers with TV commercials and billboards.
  56. Make your unique mark in this world. Make it hard to erase and impossible to forget.
  57. There is a mountain for every man
    Something just beyond “I know I can.”
    Adventure beckons – this special call
    Requiring man’s best, his all in all.
  58. Thank God for His love, grace, generosity and patience with me, and may I demonstrate each of these to others today.
Posted by: hikerdude | September 19, 2016

The Heartbeat of Life


Day and night;

Sunshine and rain;

Peaks and valleys;

Joy and great pain;


Our lives are full of ups and downs:

Marital bliss and overwhelming grief;

The picture of health and the bad report;

Horns of plenty and empty cupboards;


Springtime blooms and the foliage of fall;

The warmth of summer and winter’s chill;

The energy of youth and wisdom of the aged;

Beginnings and endings are part of it all;


Purity and pollution;

Beauty and ugliness;

Work and play;

Running and resting;


Loving and hating;

Blessings and cursing;

Courage and cowardice;

Hope and despair;


Faith and fear;

Belief and doubt;

Feasting and famine;

Serving others and being served.


These seemingly polar extremes

And everything found in between

Are evidence that you have a heartbeat –

And that you are ALIVE!


Posted by: hikerdude | July 25, 2016

There’s Gold In Them Hills

Rocky Top 035Yesterday, Grant and I had what my dad used to call a “divine appointment.” At the beginning of our trip, Grant prayed that God would show us His glory, a prayer which had resulted in us seeing some amazing sites on our many “Dadventures” through the years.  But as we learned on this trip, God’s glory doesn’t always show up as a stunning vista in nature.

We were hiking to Rocky Top (yes, the UT fight song Rocky Top) from Cades Cove.  This is about a 13 mile round trip, with an elevation gain of approximately 3700 feet.  I came to the conclusion that a lot more Tennesseans had sung Rocky Top than had ever seen Rocky Top. In retrospect, this was the second hardest hike we have done, with Half Dome being the most difficult.

The iconic Smoky Mountain streams were both beautiful and peaceful as we began our climb into the mountains.  As we left the mountain streams, we met Lonnie.  We first encountered him taking a break on the way up around the intersection with the Bote Mountain Trail.  I don’t remember anything remarkable about our first meeting.  He was just another fellow hiker on his way up to Rocky Top.  I believe it was our second rest-break discussion where we got around to talking about our occupations.  He was a business man, who had owned several companies and had done a lot of work in Costa Rica.  I told him I was a lawyer and he asked if I was a personal injury lawyer.  I said “yes, but I also do workers compensation and social security disability.”  He then proceeded to share with us about his serious motor vehicle accident from several years ago in which he sustained several injuries, including a mild brain injury.  Then he said, “My neurologist says my short term memory problems are permanent, but I say they are not…in Jesus’ name.” Not much more was said during that time together, but Grant and I both felt pretty sure Lonnie was a believer, based on his comment.

About a mile or so before the summit of Rocky Top, I was starting to have a lot of pain in my quadriceps and had to take a good many breaks on our final ascent.  Lonnie passed me and by the time I got to the summit, he was preparing to cook some lunch.  I think it was during this time I shared that Grant and I were doing this father and son adventure trip as one of our final outings before he went to the Middle East to do mission work for two years.  He asked what church Grant was going with and he told him IHOP (International House of Prayer).  Lonnie replied with something like, “Oh, no, not another one!” My initial reaction was that perhaps he had a bad experience with someone from IHOP, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Lonnie then shared about a young man he had recently hired for one of his companies who had been part of the IHOP Kansas City Church.  He then told us that his wife, had insisted that he take her on a birthday trip to IHOP Kansas City, where she had fasted and prayed in the prayer room most of the time.  He also told us he met his wife in Africa while he was helping dig fresh water wells.  She had been a missionary there for 16 years.  Now, I know this was very encouraging to Grant, because it was to me.  Grant had felt like God had shown him he would meet his future wife either on the mission field or during his mission training this fall.  This was one of those “God winks” which let us know we were where we were, when we were, for a reason.

After catching my breath for a while, I pulled out my shofar (which I had purchased on a mission trip to Israel several years earlier).  It had become a tradition to blow the shofar after conquering a summit of a challenging mountain.  So, I blew it a couple of times.  I was a little rusty, so I didn’t even try to belt out a rendition of “Glory, Glory to Ole Georgia,” but I did put on my UGA hat for a few pictures.  Lonnie told us that he had a friend in ministry, who had just dedicated his new church and had five shofar blown as a part of the service.  The shofar being blown seemed to be meaningful to him.

But that’s not all… Lonnie then shared how God had blessed him so in his business ventures and he not only went on mission trips himself, but he supported missionaries on a regular (and apparently very generous) basis.  He said he had friends who also used their business profits to support missionaries.  If that wasn’t enough, then Grant met another couple on the summit whose daughter and son-in-law were missionaries.  Now, what are the odds of meeting one person on such a difficult hike with a missionary connection, much less two different groups of folks?  It was like God was saying, “Grant, you are on the right path.  Continue on this journey I have planned for you.”

Lonnie shared about a conflict between two fellow church members, who were local businessmen.  When one of the businessmen failed to pay for some equipment he had purchased, the seller told Lonnie he thought he would have to sue him. Lonnie told him he should follow the biblical mandate of first taking another brother with him to discuss the matter.  I shared with him about Peacemaker Ministries, who teach biblical conflict resolution.  I told him he had given good counsel.  We had a great time of fellowship up on the summit of Rocky Top, but clouds were starting to roll in, and there was a 50% chance of rain beginning within the next hour, so we reluctantly began our descent.

Hiking up a mountain is tough on your legs, but descending can be particularly rough on someone who doesn’t have all the cartilage in their knees (I’ve had both “scoped” in years past).  So, it was a slow go – with frequent breaks.  Well, it turns out that wasn’t an accident either.  During one of our rest-breaks, Lonnie caught up with us and we continued our fellowship.  You could just tell this man had a real heart for God’s work, and he and Grant really connected. At some point, he shared that he knew a pastor of a large church in the Middle Eastern country Grant would be doing mission work, and he would share his contact information, so Grant would know another American in the country, in case he needed any help. Lonnie had some knee problems also, so his pace with right along with mine on the long way back to our vehicles.  The funny thing is, while I still had knee pain, after we connected with Lonnie on the way down it got better and we mostly just took regular water breaks.  But if I had not experienced the pace-slowing knee pain earlier, we would not likely have seen Lonnie again.

We finished the hike together and Lonnie said he wanted to give Grant his business card so he could keep up with his mission work.  I gave him one of mine and told him to let me know when he was back in the Atlanta area so I could take him to lunch.  Lonnie had me take a video of him and Grant, with Grant blowing the shofar by the trail signpost.  He said one of his friends and his wife were going to get a big kick out of the video.  They apparently did not understand why he was hiking to Rocky Top, but now they would see it was part of God’s plan.  By this time, I had to go sit down in my SUV before I fell down.  Grant continued his discussion with Lonnie.  After a few minutes, Grant got in and told me that Lonnie had given him several twenty dollar bills and said, “God told me to give these to you for your flight.  It may be for you to bless someone, or it may be to buy food on a layover.”  Wow!

Grant and I both agreed the “sweat equity” we invested in getting to Rocky Top would have seemed like a poor return on investment if we had just seen the view, but the chance meeting/divine appointment with Lonnie made this a most memorable adventure.  Whether he invests another penny in Grant’s mission work, this connection, the networking with another American in the country where Grant will be, and just the encouragement which came from our networking God doing His thing, let us know this was much more than just a hike!

What a blessing – and it would likely not have happened if I had not been experiencing the knee pain on the way back down.  Sometimes, our suffering may slow us down enough to enable a blessing to catch up with us. “If we’d only open our eyes, we’d see the blessings in disguise.” – There’s Gold In Them Hills.



Posted by: hikerdude | January 4, 2016

Another Trip Around the Sun

Hilton Head 2013 161The first book I started reading in 2016 is called, A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life Into the Adventure of a Lifetime.  It is co-written by Mark Batterson and his mentor, Richard Foth.  Just as I started reading the book, I had a thought. It seems to me, an all-powerful God could have simply suspended the earth as a stationary sphere in the universe.  Why does the earth need to spin?  For that matter, why does it need to make an annual journey around the sun?  What is up with all this motion anyway?

Maybe God knew how we would like to have things stay the same – you know…unchanging.  Maybe God knew we needed a nudge to remind us that the only way things get better is for there to be change.  How boring would life become if it was unchanging, unmoving, and utterly predictable?

Things were different for us this Christmas season.  My son, Grant, was not home with us.  He was in Africa on a mission trip.  We had our family Christmas with him right after Thanksgiving.  We missed having him home for Christmas morning.  But maybe that was just to prepare us for the day when he will have his own family and celebrate Christmas morning at his own home.  My Grandmother Pope was not with us this Christmas either.  She died, just a few short months after celebrating her 100th trip around the sun.  She lived a full life.  Maybe that was a reminder to us to savor each moment with our aging parents and to appreciate every opportunity we have to spend time with them this side of eternity.

We are in that awkward transition period in life when our children are becoming young adults, who are more independent and doing things on their own.  At the same time, our parents begin to rely on us more to do the things they once did on their own.  And we will be there one day ourselves.

This brings me to another thought.  While we are on this spinning earth, traveling around the sun with all this motion and change, there are still patterns from which we can learn.  There are days and nights.  There are seasons.  These recurring patterns do give us some predictability.  Yes, we all knew that it would not stay in the 70’s all winter.  It gets cold in the winter –generally.  And in a few, short months we will once again have a spring.

There are certain patterns in life and we need to take note of those patterns.  A wise man will learn from these patterns and apply them to their life.  I was a History major in college and a quote which has served me well in life and in the law (think precedents) is, “Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.”  But with that said, I think there is also a lot of truth in Mark Twain’s quote, “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”  Seeing the patterns and similarities which tend to recur in our lives help us on this long journey of uncertain duration into the unknown called the future.  It does sound a bit like an adventure, doesn’t it?

This trip around the sun in 2016, will be similar in many respects to the other past 57 times I’ve made this journey.  But, little by little, things are changing and so must I.  It has taken many years to learn the lesson, but aside from God and His love for us, the only true constant in our lives is change.  If I refuse to change, my timing will be off all year long and I will find myself trying to live in the past, frustrated by all the change.

I read a book near the end of 2015 called, One Word Which Will Change Your Life.  The premise of the book was that we should all try to find a one-word theme for each year.  It is a matter of preparing our hearts to hear from God what it is that we should focus on and then filtering our life experiences through that theme for the year.  My word is “prepare.”  There are many things for which I know I will need to prepare in 2016.  If things never changed there wouldn’t be as much need to prepare, but things are constantly changing, so I will prepare in the six spheres of my life: spiritual, physical, mental, relational, emotional and financial.

So, as we begin this next trip around the sun, what will be different in your life?  If you are unchanging, you will be at odds with all the change around you which God has ordained.  Don’t let the numbers on the calendar be the only thing that you change in 2016.  Happy New Year!  Enjoy another trip around the sun.

Posted by: hikerdude | August 4, 2015

Now You Know How I Feel

BHS Bleachers

The Creator of the universe spoke to me recently, so it was a really good day. It wasn’t during a time of private prayer or while I was in a worship service. It was while I was running stadium steps as a part of a training program I had begun a few weeks earlier. It was shortly after I had taken a phone call on my cell phone and accepted an apology from the spouse of a client. It was at the top of the new home-side bleachers at the Bremen High School football field during my 17th time up the stadium steps. I had gone to do some sweat therapy and conditioning for my body, but God used the time to get my soul in better shape. Let me explain.

I had “settled” a personal injury case at a mediation the day before. It was a long, hard day of mediation, but we had reached a tentative resolution of the case, with only one little detail to be dealt with before it was finalized. The case had some of the typical problems: very little visible property damage and extensive pre-existing conditions. However, the client was a very credible person. So, with the help of a very skilled mediator, we were able to convince the two insurance companies involved to pay 1/3 more than our bottom line settlement figure. Additionally, I had decided to bless the client by taking a substantial reduction of my attorney fees.

The next day I was feeling pretty good about the resolution of the case. So, when I saw the client with their spouse I went over to shake the hand of the spouse, expecting a grateful “thank you.” But I was really surprised when the spouse told me I needed to hurry up the insurance companies to conclude the settlement. I explained that I expected them to tie up the one remaining loose end and conclude the case the next week. The spouse then proceeded to tell me I should call them and constantly harass them until they would send their checks, just to get some relief. I calmly told them I would send a follow-up email reminding them I needed their portion of the pre-trial, if the settlement did not go through. I then excused myself and walked away thinking, “That’s sure not what I was expecting.”

I tried to not let it bother me, but at the end of the day, as I began running the stadium bleachers to get ready for a hike up Mt. Evans, a 14er in Colorado (one of the 53 mountain summits in that state over 14,000 feet above sea level), I began to reflect on my earlier encounter with the client and their spouse. I guess the “hurry it up” admonition would have been OK, but that probably should have come after three other comments: (1) Thank you for settling the case; (2) Thank you for getting the client 1/3 more than they were willing to accept; and (3) Thank you for discounting your fee. I wasn’t mad, but I certainly was more than a little frustrated, because I had just earlier in the year recommitted to try to blow my clients away with excellent customer service. I felt I had really gone the extra mile on this one, but it didn’t seem to be appreciated.

These were the thoughts running through my head as my Yuri the Trainer playlist was interrupted by a phone call from a number I did not recognize. I was getting a little winded by rep number 17, so I took a short break and answered the call. It was the spouse. They apologized for our earlier encounter and thanked me for settling the case. The spouse explained they had experienced a really tough week at work and they were afraid they took it out on me. I was very familiar with the “kick the dog when you get home” concept. I accepted the apology, assured the spouse it was OK and that I totally understood about how a bad week, or even a bad day, could negatively affect your interaction with others. I ended the call, and started my training playlist back up on my I Phone.

I think I was about half-way up rep number 18 when that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to me, saying, “Now you know how I feel.” Wow! Yes, I did. How many times had God blessed my socks off and my response was not “Thank you soooo much”? How many times had He given me more than I had dared to expect, without me showing appropriate appreciation? How many times had He extended His unearned, unexpected grace to me, and I just acted like I was entitled to it anyway? How many times had a reacted to blessings with bellyaching about how long it was taking? I had gone to run the stadium steps that day to get in better physical shape, but God used the time to help get me in better spiritual shape.

It was not the first time I had heard God’s voice. It was not an audible voice those around me could have heard, but it was unmistakably His voice. I heard it loud and clear in the depths of my spirit. I don’t take those times I hear from Him for granted. I wondered if I would have heard His voice if I had decided to hold a grudge instead of accepting the apology. I thought about another individual with whom I had a conflict about a year earlier who withheld acceptance of my heartfelt apology and wondered if He heard anything from God. I contemplated whether God spoke to me much more often than I recognized, but I didn’t hear Him because of all the other noise and distraction in my life. I thought about these things as I finished my 45 reps at the football stadium that day in preparation for the 14er in about two weeks.

And as I write the words, I wonder if this event was a part of my spiritual training I will need in order to deal with some massive 14,000 foot conflict I will encounter later in my life. Who knows, it may be my own personal conflict, or it may be a conflict in which I represent a client, or it could even be a conflict in which I am serving as a mediator? I don’t know how or when I will use it, but I know I will. That’s the way training works, isn’t it?

Thank you, God. I really am grateful to You for taking time out of your busy day to help me better understand what it feels like to be underappreciated. I am also grateful for You helping me understand how it blesses You when we ask for forgiveness. Please forgive me for all the times I have not apologized for my lack of appreciation for all the things You have done for me. Now I know how You feel.


I have watched the movie, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, many times before. However, on this occasion as I watched this great guy-movie with Grant on this rainy morning in the mountains, I took particular notice of the leadership lessons depicted. Perhaps this was due to Michael Hyatt’s blog post earlier that morning discussing what to do when there wasn’t any wind in your sails/sales in your business

Or maybe that was just one of the reasons I picked that movie for us to watch, since that is one of the problems Captain “Lucky” Jack encounters in this epic sea adventure. Regardless, here are my 13 leadership takeaways from a good ship’s captain:

1. Expect and engage your enemies (be prepared for battles);
2. Escape your enemies when you cannot win the current battle (and live to fight again another day);
3. Encourage your crew (especially those who are wounded or ill);
4. Evaluate your damage from battles and storms;
5. Equip and repair your ship;
6. Educate your leadership team (mentor them);
7. Explore your boundaries (you’ll never know how far you can go until you’ve almost gone too far);
8. Evaluate your options (and always choose the lesser of two [we]evils – leaders MUST make hard choices);
9. Equilibrium must be maintained in the storms of life (imbalance sinks ships and leads to lost lives);
10. Earn the respect of your crew through decisiveness, consistency, fairness, a mind open to learn from others and hear other’s opinions;
11. Enable future leaders by sharing responsibility and allowing them to gain experience;
12. Employ the element of surprise to win victories in life (do things differently than others to get different results);
13. Everything is subject to the requirements of the service (remember your priorities and why you are here).

Leadership is not easy. Few are willing to lead, and even fewer do it well. However, it is important to remember a superior ship’s captain will distinguish himself in the storms and against seemingly better equipped ships. Overcoming obstacles – that’s what leadership is all about.

If you’ve never watched the movie, watch it sometime and try to spot these leadership lessons. If you have watched it before, watch it again – this time with new eyes. But most importantly, apply these leadership lessons in your life. We are all leaders – even if we are only leading ourselves. And if you lead yourself well – surprise – you will soon find yourself leading others. (To be continued)

Follow me on Twitter @Trail_Lawyer

Posted by: hikerdude | April 16, 2015

HMS Surprise

IMG_1161 Grant and I watched one of our favorite movies together recently. It was Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe in the role of Captain “Lucky” Jack Aubrey. I have watched the movie many times, but this time the ship’s name really struck me – HMS Surprise. I asked Grant if he knew what HMS stood for and he knew the “His Majesty’s” part, but wasn’t sure about the “S.” HMS stands for His Majesty’s Ship. HMS Surprise was an appropriate name for much of what we experienced on this father-son spring break trip to the Smoky Mountains. It began earlier that morning, before Grant and gotten up. I sat at the kitchen table contemplating an approaching storm. It was not the adventure I would have chosen, but nonetheless I chose to see the impending storm as an adventure. I saw the storm clouds rolling in over the mountains. I saw the accompanying occasional flash of lightning. I also saw the forecast on the internet predicting 100% chance of rain for most of the day. What I did not see, at least not at that time, was how God was going to make this a different kind of adventure for Grant and me as we rode out this storm in our cozy mountain cabin. We had brought a collection of some of our favorite guy movies to watch during our rain day. I’ve seen snow and rain and sunshine on past trips to the Smokies with Grant. Now I was ready to see what a thunderstorm looked like, felt like, and sounded like. It was strange, but I did not feel like this was unfair or a washout of my planned father-son adventure trip for Grant’s spring break. Ever since I had seen the forecast days earlier I had begun to anticipate a different kind of adventure – a different kind of experience, something filled with surprise and the mystery of the “unexpected.” That’s the definition of an adventure anyway, isn’t it? If everything goes as planned it’s not really an adventure. God loves surprising us, and I chose to view this as God having something better in store for us than just another mountain hike. Just as I penned words to that effect in my journal and took a picture of the storm clouds as they seemed to summit the mountains in the distance – I heard it. Rain began to fall on our tin roof. What a sweet sound. What a nice surprise. What prescription for peace early in the morning. It was the sound of revival rain! The Holy Spirit reminded me there wasn’t growth in nature without life-giving rain and there isn’t growth in our lives without rain. Just at that moment, I heard David Crowder begin to sing in my earbuds, “Oh how He loves us.” I begin a big grin as I think, Yes, He does. As the rain began to come down harder, there was a strange peace flooding my soul – the kind that can only come from the sound of rain on the tin roof of a mountain cabin on a “free day” when you are looking for the lessons you can learn in a storm. Yes, we were going on a voyage of discovery on His Majesty’s Ship Surprise. It was going to be a different kind of adventure, for sure. And the only thing I was certain of was that the Master and Commander of this vessel loved us, wanted the best for us, and would teach us important lessons about life as we weathered this storm in the Smokies. (To be continued)

Follow me on Twitter @Trail_Lawyer


My Dad is 83 years old today. He has taught me so many important life lessons. With each passing year, I come to appreciate the quality of his character and the value of the good name he has given me more and more. I want to share a few of the things he has shown me about life.

Adventure – Life is a glorious adventure awaiting those who will respond to the invitation.

Attitude – You are given the option of being an optimist or a pessimist. Be an optimist. Pessimists are an unhappy lot.

Blessings – God blesses us to be a blessing to others.

Divine Appointments – Keep your eyes open for the divine appointments God sends your way. Your interaction with them may change your life, or theirs, in amazing ways.

Education – Encourage education in your family. It will open many doors of opportunity, but you’ve still got to walk through the door and get to work.

Effort – Do your best, both your earthly & heavenly fathers expect no less. Unfulfilled potential is a regret that will haunt you.

Excellence – Autograph your every undertaking with excellence. Make your mark. Make it hard to erase and impossible to forget.

Faith – Truly put God first and everything else will fall into its proper place.

Family – This is your first and greatest ministry. Leave a worthy legacy to, and through, your family.

Hard work – Don’t let anyone outwork you, whether it’s in the hayfield, the ball field, or the courtroom.

Investing – Invest early, regularly and diversely over the long haul. This applies to people too. They are your very best investments.

Marriage – Pray with your spouse daily. It is hard to stay in conflict with your prayer partner.

Memories – Make memories with your friends & family (& be sure to take lots of pictures).

Ministry – We are all in full-time ministry, regardless of our vocation. Ministry is something we can all do daily. Your family is a ministry. Your job is a ministry, but your ministry is not a job – it should be a joy.

Opportunity – You’ve got to make hay while the sun is shining.

Outlook – Focus on the good and think on these things. Positive thinking adds value. Negative thinking subtracts value. Phil.4:8 It’s just basic math.

Prayer – The persistent prayers of a righteous man will change things.

Purpose – Find God’s purpose for your life and pursue it like your life depends on it…because it does.

Wealth – A million dollars is not worth the match it takes to light it if you are unable to enjoy time with your family.

Wife – Find a good wife and keep her. She will make a good man better than he could have ever been on his own.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12) Happy birthday, Dad!

Love, Stephen

Posted by: hikerdude | March 7, 2015

Why Wilderness?

Cheaha 3.15 037

“The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a Wilderness.” – Henry Ellis

What is it about the wilderness which draws some men and repels others? The wilderness cannot be controlled. If 7Up was the “Un-cola,” the wilderness is the “Un-afraid place.” It is the place of the unknown, untamed, uncivilized, unplugged and the unpredictable, where the unafraid go to gain understanding. It is wild – wilder than the world in which we spend most of our lives – hence, the name “wilder-ness.” The wilderness affords you the opportunity to be a time-traveler without the need of technology.

Step off the pavement and step onto a rugged, uneven, winding path which will quickly lead you to a time far away from the 21st Century. There is a strange satisfaction found in the next step you take forward on a trail after having just lost service on your cell phone. In the wilderness you can become a pioneer or pilgrim, in search of solitude, scenery, or that elusive simplicity which is sustenance for your soul. The wilderness affords a rare opportunity for fellowship, contemplation, and reflection – things which civilization seems to try to squeeze out of our schedules.

What is this “call of the wild” which some hear? Perhaps it is the haunting, ever-so-faint echo from Eden reverberating in the deepest recesses of our souls. Could it be the call of our Creator inquiring, “’Where are you,’” as we insist on hiding behind our positions, our possessions and the pride of our busyness? Could it be a needed reminder that there is still a world of wonder, a world where unbroken fellowship with our God is still possible, a world where we can walk and talk daily with the Artist and Architect of all we see? Could it be?

In the wilderness, you can take a trip to the center of your soul. The wilderness is a much-needed reminder that there is much more to this life than goals to be attained, business models to be sustained, and traffic to be fought. It is about the joy to be found in the course of the journey. Wilderness allows us to experience an extravagant free gift from God in His grand cathedral called creation.

The wilderness requires something of you. Passivity will get you nowhere. Initiative will take you to a place you will share stories about long afterwards.

The wilderness requires decisiveness. Which way will you go? What will be your pace? How long will you rest? Do you take a path less traveled? Do you linger a little longer at the scenic overlook?

It is a life-lesson of the essential interconnected unity of the universe, which by no means equates with uniformity.

The mania of our modern day materialism and the cravings of our consumerism are driving us all crazy. A day in the wilderness helps us refocus, revives us, and helps us to regain our bearings.

I believe it is a place which equips you better for your everyday life, because it requires that you prepare before entering into this environment. You learn to expect, and respect, the unexpected.

And yet for all our preparation, any trek into the wilderness will yield a story of some unexpected encounter – something new. It may be pleasant, or it may be unpleasant. But, in the end, you have a new experience, and somehow you are changed by it. The forces of nature will humble you. The ferocity of wild animals, and the dangers they pose will keep you ever vigilant. The sheer size of the outdoors and the diversity of all that is there will give you different perspective as to your impact on this planet. And the unending delight found around a new bend will beckon you to explore and experience the “there is more” of life.

In the wilderness, we must face our fears: wild animals, wilder weather, the peril of heights, the potential for avalanches, steep, narrow trails, and perhaps the thing men fear most – the “where are we now and which way do we go?” Snakes, mountain lions, bears, lightning, falling from heights, being buried beneath boulders, being swept into raging rivers, and getting lost will keep many men safe at home… where they are bored. And in their boredom their souls shrivel up from the redundancy of their comfortable, climate-controlled, all-risks-calculated and minimized lives.

The wilderness was where Jesus went immediately after His baptism and being filled with the Holy Spirit. “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him” (Mark 1:12-13). It is a place of preparation, testing, and ministry. The wilderness was a place Jesus would go on a “retreat,” withdrawing from the demands of the daily crowds to revive Himself in prayer. “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 4:16).

Why do men avoid the wilderness? It cannot be controlled. It is often not comfortable. And, perhaps the most threatening thing is in the quietness of silence and solitude, they just might hear something which would dramatically alter the course they have charted for their lives.

It seems the wilderness is a place where men are able to hear that “still small voice.” I just don’t see much evidence of men hearing God speak to them while they are in big, busy, bustling cities. Most of the time men are in the wilderness experiencing the wonder of what God has made, as opposed to man-made things, when man can hear what God is saying to him.

The wilderness was a place of preparation for the future leaders of our Christian faith: Moses, David, and Paul. And while we may primarily remember it as a place of wandering for the children of Israel, it was also a place where they witnessed God’s guidance, protection, and provision. The wilderness was Elijah’s hiding place and where he heard God’s “still small voice.” It was Job’s schoolroom to learn about the wonders of this world and God’s sovereignty. It was John the Baptist’s pulpit. It was Jesus’ prayer closet. And it was John the beloved’s place of revelation. What is the wilderness to you?

Posted by: hikerdude | December 11, 2014

Follow the Leader

Hiker Dude's Adventure Weblog



The disciples followed the Leader, Jesus Christ, and we are to do so as well.  He will sometimes tell us to do things which seem to make no sense.  But just like our river guide, He will test our obedience while we are on the shore to make sure that it will be safe for us to try the more risky things that He may call us to do while paddling through the white-waters of life in the future.  With apologies in advance to the on-line auction company, whenever God asks you to do something, obey – whatever it is!

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