A Tale of Two Mountains

A Mountain in Tibet

my mountain 1I had not trained to hike a mountain. Especially not in the foothills of the Himalayas. Certainly not for a three-day hike while carrying a backpack weighing at least forty pounds.

But sometimes we do things we never dreamed of doing. Sometimes we face trials that we never expected. That’s what happened in the summer of 2004 for me. That’s when I faced the greatest physical challenge of my life so far.

I was spending my summer in a small Tibetan town in Sichuan, China. I was working with a family who was there long-term and two other short-term workers like myself. We taught English in schools, we visited Buddhist temples, we came together with the community once a week in the evening for dancing in the town square, we studied Tibetan and Mandarin, we tasted all sorts of exotic foods, we read by candlelight in the evenings when the power went out town-wide to save energy, and we rode mules into the mountains to visit with villagers–it was the adventure of a lifetime. For the sake of others, I cannot divulge many details about my trip, but I can say that it was a spiritual adventure and mission even more than a physical one. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Mountains”

Can I Take a Sick Day?

I have an anxiety disorder. It might be temporary (here’s hoping), but for now I’m dealing with it. Though not a particularly serious one, it is a mental illness. That term, “mental illness,” is crucial to understanding what I’m going through and how I’m healing.

At first when my counselor categorized my anxiety and depression as “mental illness,” I balked. I did not want to admit that what I was dealing with was a mental illness because to me that term implied something much more serious. However, I began to see that just as there are different levels of physical illness (the common cold vs. cancer, for instance), there are different levels of mental illness as well. Continue reading “Can I Take a Sick Day?”

Joy and Appreciation

IMG_6656 - Version 2Last night was our Staff Appreciation Dinner at Morrison Academy Taichung. Every year the board graciously treats the entire staff (teachers, maintenance workers, principals, administrative assistants, tech guys, cleaning people, cooking staff, etc.) to a formal dinner party. It’s the one time of year that you’ll see all Morrison personnel dressed in their finest, and it’s a very festive event. After the meal, there is a time to recognize people who have served for 5, 10, 15, 20… years in the school system as well as a time to honor and say goodbye to those who are leaving at the end of the year. Continue reading “Joy and Appreciation”

I Will Yet Praise Him

Running on Empty

Anxiety. Depression. Brokenness. Hurt.

No one asks for these burdens. No one hopes for loneliness and pain. Depression often creeps up and surprises its victims in the worst possible way. It did for me.

I didn’t wake up one day and pray, “Lord God, I think I’d like some time off of work, so maybe a bout of serious depression is in order.” No, it happened slowly, a little at a time, and before I knew it, I was in a pit of despair. I didn’t see this coming. Continue reading “I Will Yet Praise Him”