Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Part of Something Larger


Rain: loud enough to force our voices to shout in order to be heard above the noise.

Wind: strong enough I fear my body will become airborne and swept away with the clouds.

I, a human, am out of my element in the midst of these elements.

Life stories. Questions asked. “In a hypothetical cage fight who are you fighting and who do you want to impress?”

I think this mountain overheard our private McKinley Fly conversation and said, “challenge accepted.”

To the mountain nothing is private. To the mountain nothing is left as personal. My feet are no longer my own. My toes are so cold that I almost feel the mountain might’ve taken them, and will keep them for good.

Then why am I here? Is it to feel small? Perhaps, but not quite.

Not to feel small, but to realize that I am not my own. I am not personal or private, but a part of something much larger. Something that I’m not at the center of. Something more powerful than myself.

And in that realization, once I embrace it, there is peace and rest. An end to striving and the beginning of watching (in awe) as the power moves, and joining with the power in its movement. Allowing myself to be moved. Realizing that I’m not the primary mover. That there is a primary mover greater than the mountains themselves, who even controls their movement. 

-Skye Cornell, Mountain Guide 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Our Table

This summer I find myself in the midst of a beautifully intimate community. There are quite a few things that make this community what it is. With the shared purpose of facilitating encounters with Christ, we have found ourselves knit together. Some of the threads which tie us together are glorious, but others, not so much.  One variable seems to foster the most growth, laughter, and conversation for us: The Table.

Each day during breakfast, lunch, and dinner you will find the members of our community seated around a cedar picnic table sharing a meal lovingly created with our own hands. There is a profound spirituality that revolves around the entity which is this table. To find it, you need not look further than the life of Jesus. As margarine is spread on our homemade bread, so are the examples of Jesus inviting people to His and to their tables spread throughout the Gospels.

So, what is the substance behind the spiritual purpose of the table? Surely it’s more than apples, oranges, bananas, and spoonful upon spoonful of peanut butter (though these are definitely staples). In my opinion, the purpose of the table is multi-faceted:

  • ·         The table is a space for restoration; John 21:1-19, where Jesus restores Peter over breakfast.
  • ·         The table is a space to serve and be served; John 13:1-17, where Jesus washes the disciple’s feet.
  • ·         The table is a space to praise; Mark 14:26, where Jesus and the disciples sing hymns at the Lord’s Supper.
  • ·         The table is a space with an open invitation; Luke 14:23, “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and invite them to come in, that my house may be filled’”.


These are just a few of the many purposes of the table, and I love how I see them played out over our very own cedar picnic table. As a place to serve and be served, we make meals for one another and offer what we have. Our souls are restored as we meet together, and quarrels evaporate like the steam from a hot soup. The table is filled with praise as we thank the Lord for his provision and worship Him over fruit, oatmeal, and cinnamon rolls.

Perhaps most importantly, the table is an open invitation. To those who stop by, we invite you to sit and be nourished. To those with whom we are frustrated, let us fill your cup with a hot bevy. To those who we love, let us share a seat and a smile. To those who do not yet know the body or the blood of Jesus, we invite you to come and taste at our table. There is room for you here, and yes, you are invited.


-John Wayne Seitzler, Sea Kayaking Guide 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

From Daredevil to Courage-Taker

To illustrate the difference between my twin sister, Kaitlin, and me, I love to tell a simple story that encapsulates my adventurous spirit and her cautious desire to protect me. One day, Kaitlin, my dad and I were hiking in a neighborhood park, and as I climbed onto a fallen tree to cross the creek, my sister, Kaitlin, anxiously yelled after me to stop. I boldly turned and replied, “I’m a daredevil. You’ll just have to get used to it.” Whether she has liked it or not, that’s exactly what has happened as she’s watched me adventure from one opportunity to the next since our adventures in the park. The most recent “daredevil” move- coming to Beyond Malibu to guide mountain trips- has taken me far from home, but has brought me close to kindred spirits who have willingly embarked on this latest adventure too.

Despite her apprehension at times, to my delight, my sister has grown to accept and support me as I travel. However, if Kaitlin were to reach out to stop me now, I think the insight I’ve gained during my time here would elicit a much different response than that of my childhood self. You see, over the past several weeks, I’ve come to view what it means to be a daredevil in a very different way.

To my eight-year-old self, being a daredevil meant doing things that might be scary to others but weren’t scary to me. After seven weeks of trips with participants and two training trips with guides across two summers, I’ve witnessed plenty of people doing things that scared them; things like crossing glaciers, climbing over ridges, scaling up root ladders, and walking for hours with a heavy pack on. My question about these participants, guides, and at times, myself, is this:  are all of us excluded from the title of daredevil while doing these epic things on trail just because we’ve experienced fear? If we are excluded, is the loss of such a title really something to stress over?

My last year and a half at Beyond has taught me many things, but one lesson that has most recently taken root is centered around the topic of fear. When I was younger, I viewed fear as this negative feeling to be avoided at all costs. Even in scripture we are commanded not to fear. However, there’s a difference I was missing. Scripture doesn’t tell us not to fear because we should never experience fear. Rather, scripture assures us that we do not need to let fear rule over us, because our God is near and will lift us up despite our fears. During two of my trips this summer, some participants encountered new terrain that scared them- lots of snow, icy slopes, root ladders, etc., but upon each encounter a unique opportunity was presented: remain immobilized by fear or press on with God’s peace in view. Fear would have us believe that moving forward is not an option, whereas truth beckons us forward. The choice is this: allow the hand of fear to be your master or force fear to submit to the hand of God by reaching out to Him for the strength and willingness to press on. In choosing the latter, we create a space to allow God to care for us and to protect us. In my old way of thinking, fear was limiting and weak. In my new way of thought, fear is just another place for the Lord to step in and pull me forward by the strength of his hand.

“I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped 
me.” Psalm 118:13

The reality of these words, and the sincere comfort they bring, takes on a deep importance when it can be translated literally to the mountains. But the truth is, we were not made for the mountains. We were made for the valleys where the truths learned in the mountains may take root.

The once cherished daredevil title, held dearly by my childhood self for its sense of adventure and excitement, has now been rewritten to a much stronger, worthwhile title: courage-taker. During the next step into post-graduate life, I may now proceed with confidence. Though I feel fear, I may turn my eyes to the Lord,

“In God, I trust and am not afraid… for you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the light of life.” Psalm 56:11,13


With the same confidence, participants may walk forward in courage and truth as they encounter new terrain and as they transition home following their mountain-top experiences. Now the question is, what about you? Are you striving for the daredevil title too, clinging to the idea that you have something to prove as you force away fear on your own accord, or are you embracing a new identity, courage-taker, by the grace of God’s hand outstretched to you?

-Lauren Bonney 


Monday, June 26, 2017

A Base Camp Prayer


“Have I mentioned how much I love this place?

I love this place. It is magical.

Your peace rests over it, coddles it like a fresh-out-of-the-dryer blanket.

Your grace settles like the rain: unobtrusive, subtle, gentle. Here you are at work. Everywhere you are, but here I am less blind to it.

I feel your peace in my soul. I feel tangible renewal. I feel the hot coffee slipping down my throat, warming my body. I feel the cool breeze tiptoeing over my skin.

It is euphoric.

It demands my attention.

I am aware because all the things I cram on my plate, heaping and ugly and messy, are wiped clean. All I have before me is to serve you, this community, and campers on trips.”

-Madi Krueger 



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Paying Attention

Ali Savage is a second-year mountain guide who will graduate
 in the fall from Western Washington University.
She studies education & political science,
and is passionate about freedom, the mountains,
and Jesus. 
I see two types of people in this world: movie-talkers and everyone else. For better or worse, my mom is the former. I grew up with her elbow perpetually jabbed into my side, always accompanied with the question, “Who is that?” or, “What did she just say?” Utterly committed to understanding a plot line, she’s never been afraid to ask questions, even in a very crowded movie theater. She is, in one word, engaged. I’ve found that this same binary exists in every other arena of my life as well. The breakdown I see is as follows: there are those who pay attention, and everyone else. The Gospel demands that I pay attention; to others, to the movings of the Holy Spirit, and to myself.

Jesus paid attention to the ones most vulnerable to being ignored. Jesus paid attention to the voice of the Father compelling him to listen to and love the broken and the cast-off. Jesus was, and is, unyielding in his desire to pay attention. In order to emulate Jesus, I must pay attention.



As I prepare to finish my second summer of guiding, and thus my time commitment to Beyond Malibu, I believe that this is one of the greatest things God has taught me during my time here. I live in a world where my brain is addled by stimuli, everything vying for my attention. As a Christian, particularly a Christian who does ministry with high school kids, I often believe falsities. Sometimes to my peril, I believe that if I just yell the Gospel louder I will be heard. I believe that if I listen to more sermons, read more books, and have more or louder or better worship, then I will hear the voice of God. In reality, what I actually need is to be stripped of excess so that there are fewer things distracting me from paying attention to the voice of God. Beyond Malibu is a place thick with that presence. I am given the time and the space to be engaged with others, with the movings of the Holy Spirit, and with myself.



Because of this space given to me to pay attention, here are some things I’ve come to know:
I know the soft and powerful movement of air overhead, heron’s wings beating a divine rhythm.
I know more shades of green and blue and grey than language can put form to.
I know the slow breathing of the Inlet, tides rising and falling like the chest of some sleeping aquatic giant.
I know bare feet on green floors and 5:30 AM belly laughs.
I know the sight of hot, holy tears in the eyes of a participant as the clouds open up and they get their first view of the mountain that they’ve spent the last three days climbing.
I know what it means to love, because He first loved us.



Because of Jesus’ example, and because of this tiny corner of the map named Beyond Malibu that so many have called home, I know what it means to pay attention to the presence of God; not because I have more of what matters, but because I have less of what doesn’t.

With love,
Ali


“What does it mean to pay attention?
And by this, I mean, what does it mean to be alive?”
- Mary Oliver

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Purpose-Filled Life

Xavier Salazar is a student at Grand Canyon University 
in Arizona, where he is earning a degree in Biblical Studies.
 He is on the maintenance team at base camp this summer.
 In his free time, Xavier loves slack-lining, playing
 Frisbee, and hanging out with friends.
I will never forget watching the movie “Kung Fu Panda” for the first time. My cousin and I laughed in unison as my mouth began to hurt from smiling for so long. There are a few memorable moments from the movie, but one specific quote constantly flows through my mind: “there are no accidents”.

For three years I have been hearing about this Young Life camp called Beyond Malibu. From 2013 to 2015 many of my friends have been involved with Beyond, either as participants or as staff. I missed out each year because I either heard about the opportunity too late or other summer plans interfered. However, the more I heard of my friends’ experiences, the more I desired to have some part in this place. This summer though, everything came together, and here I find myself on maintenance at base camp.

Now that I’m here, I’ve begun to ask why? Why now? Why didn’t I go on a trip with my high school friends? Why didn’t I go in college with my friend’s school trip? Why didn’t I apply for maintenance any other year? There have been so many other opportunities and options. In the midst of asking these questions, I remember that quote from Kung Fu Panda, “There are no accidents.” If I took any of those past opportunities, I might not be here right now. I would never have met Skylar, Chase, John Wayne, T.J., or Isaiah, my base camp co-workers who have become like family. I would never have met Cody, my direct boss, who has been like an older brother to me. I would have missed out on growing in relationship with my long-time friend Rick Wilson. I never would have sat next to unique, lovely, and beautiful people while worshiping Jesus around a roaring fire. I would not have learned valuable lessons that will shape me for the rest of my life. Old passions that God placed in my heart would not have been reawakened, and this summer full of life and adventure wouldn’t have existed. God’s perfect planning led to me coming here and experiencing everything that I have. It is clear that I am supposed to be here right here and right now. If you take time to look at specific moments of your life you can see the Lord using them in his plan.
Xavier (left) and part of the maintenance team at base camp

God brings purpose to every moment and decision in our lives. There is purpose in the mere fact that you were created. There is purpose in your community. There is purpose in your job. There is purpose in this very moment as you read these very words.

What exactly is that purpose? Ask God and trust. God has a purpose and a plan for your life.

-Xavier Salazar. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Freedom from Struggle

Peyton (middle) works in the kitchen at base camp. In her free time, she enjoys swimming in the inlet and playing monopoly deal. She is currently attending SDSU in California for biology. Peyton is passionate about Jesus, In-N-Out Burger, and the ocean. 


Sometimes it is important to be in a place not shaped by the hands of humans, somewhere where it doesn’t matter if you’re barefoot because your shoes hurt too much, and a place that doesn’t respond to the command of a light switch. It is important to be humbled and to realize how human we are. I am grateful for Beyond because it makes me celebrate simple things like hot coffee in the morning, loud singing during dish duty, community, worship, and pure silliness. Base camp has become home, but my week in the mountains climbing JJ taught me a whole new meaning of trusting God and truly relying on His strength. 

During the majority of our time ascending, we were in a whiteout. We were cold, wet, and anxious. As difficult as the weather was, I felt that it was very fitting for our group. Although we could not see the beauty beyond the clouds, we all knew that it was there. The same concept works in regards to our walks with Jesus; we may not be able to see him, but we know he is always there. All we have to do is invite Him in.

On our summit day, the clouds opened up and the sun came out for the first time. I have never witnessed anything so beautiful. That moment of sun on the summit made me realize that God had a plan for our group. His plan was for us to realize that it is okay to struggle, it is okay for things not to be perfect, and it is okay not to have any idea where you are at or where you are going.

The whole JJ group before leaving for the trail
Before going on this trip, I had a lot of fear. I am a “lupie”, meaning I have lupus along with my autoimmune disease; mixed connective tissue disorder, and arthritis. I am told I can’t do things pretty often, and I let a lot of those negative comments pull me down. Even in the midst of these physical struggles, I felt God tugging at my heart telling me this was something I needed to do.


The strength God gave me throughout this trip made me reevaluate how I place my identity in Him. The feeling of conquering that mountain with the Lord was far more empowering than nursing my wounds and clinging to my pain all the time. There is something about the outdoors that fuels my soul, my spirit, and my overall well-being. I was forced to lean on the Lord when I was uncomfortable in the whiteout, and the way He met me was with this beautiful mountain experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

-Peyton Cook