It’s been a while since my last post. I started this blog a decade ago as a way to communicate with families in our church (before social media was a thing) and to journal the journey of our family. Lately I’ve neglected it for other forms of media like Facebook & Instagram. Yesterday my memory on Facebook was from seven years ago when we built our treehouse in Spartanburg. In some ways it seems like yesterday, but in other ways it seems like a lifetime ago. The video reminded me of how I chronicled the entire building process on this blog.
The world seems to have hit fast forward since those days. From 2006 when this blog was birthed to today seems like the years are flying by. Rather than sending letters, voicemails and emails we post birthday greeting on walls, send crazy emoticons and Snapchats that disappear seconds later. As a society we live second by second and then wonder why we can’t remember what happened yesterday. Yesterday was hundreds of text messages back on our phones and instant message feeds.
How did it get this way? Why is life in fast forward? Have we lost the art of conversation, thinking deeply, human relationships and solitude? Are we so interested in being seen, noticed and loved that we’re more worried about posting about our lives than living our lives? Do we worry more about a great selfie than experiencing the adventure of our day?
I’m guilty of living this way.
This weekend our family took a day away from the light-speed life of a family of five in ministry to retreat. We left Florence and headed to the mountains. We went to ruck the summit of Table Rock. Rucking isn’t a misprint. It’s a real word. It is simply walking with weight on your back. The word ruck is taken from the old word – rucksack. A rucksack is a term used for military backpacks that our troops have carried for generations on their backs into battle. Soldiers have been “rucking” not for excercise, but for survival. They carry the heavy loads of medical supplies, gear and ammunition to defend our freedom. It’s a normal day for an American soldier to carry a 40-70lb rucksack for double-digit miles.
In recent years, former military personnel have helped average “joes” in the US learn to train physically by using rucking as a form of exercise. Rucking is catching on across the country and becoming a great cross training form of fitness. I got into rucking through a men’s fitness group called F3. I’ve never been a runner, so I saw rucking as a way to get a great workout through walking/hiking. Studies show that walking with even 10-15lbs added can burn three times the calories as regular walking. So, if I could walk off weight…give me that ruck. About a year ago I purchased my first ruck from GO RUCK. I’ve been hooked ever since. But honestly…the walking, the ruck, the weight loss are just gravy. The best part of rucking is the conversations with friends. Unless you’re an avid runner, it’s difficult to talk and run. But rucking helps combine fitness and fellowship. Taking time to go ruck also helps to disconnect from the world for a few hours. Rucking is a wonderful way to disconnect from social media, see the world from a new perspective and plug into a conversation with friends.
I’ve enjoyed rucking so much that Ashley and the boys are getting into it now too. Ashley and I will go rucking a few afternoons a week to unplug from the craziness of life, parenting, and full time ministry. It’s very therapeutic. It helps recharge our souls (but does wear out our soles…lol). Sorry. That wasn’t even funny.
This weekend as we headed to Table Rock our goal was to complete an 8 mile mountain ruck challenge as part of the Pathfinder Class we’re taking to train. Since July I’ve probably rucked over 300 miles, but I’ve never rucked to the top of a mountain. And I have never even hiked up a mountain with my children. Especially not a 5 year old. We packed up our lunches, our water, and our weight plates in our rucks. Ashley and I each carried about 40 lbs on our backs. We held Luke’s hand and constantly told the boys to be carful as we rounded high mountain corners where the trail was narrow and the chance of falling over the side was high. We struggled. I won’t lie. I had to stop about every 100 yards just to breath. It was literally like climbing up a wall. We climbed over 2000 feet in elevation and there were so many times when we felt like turning back. SO MANY. I can remember one time I actually said that I wanted Jesus to return at that very moment. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Our teenager was bit disengaged because…he’s a teenager (yet never looked winded). Our 10 year old was all in and trying hard, but struggling to breath too. The one we worried about most was our little guy. Our five year old is a ball of energy and is always running wild. He’s totally a boy and he’s always into something. We assumed that he would complain the whole way and test our patience. To our surprise he never complained and totally loved the hike. Those little velcro shoes carried him for seven hours and over eight miles.
One of the best conversations I had on Saturday was with one of the boys. He was struggling to see the goal of finishing the ruck. Truthfully, so was I. We were both out of breath and sitting on a rock on the side of the trail. I told him that this hike was a lot like our lives as a family. Sometimes life is very hard. Sometime we don’t think we can go on. Sometimes we want to give up. We slip and fall. But then there are also moments of fun. Moments when we reach the top and experience the glory of creation and the majesty of God. This weekend’s trip wasn’t just a ruck for me, it was much more. Reaching the top of Table Rock and sitting there with the most important four people in my world was indescribable. It reminded me of God’s presence, God’s greatness and his provision for my family.
I pray that I remember this day on the mountain for years to come. I want to remember the moments we spent on the top of the rock when life speeds up, we have our heads down in our devices and find ourselves living again on social media. I pray that we will look up more often, experience life together more fully and walk humbly as a family in the presence of the One who made us. The Creator of the mountains (and valleys). The one who is there with us every step of the journey.
The next time you see our family out walking along the side of the road carrying a ruck on our backs… we aren’t looking for a ride. But we would love for you to join us. Let’s GO RUCK.