Out of Category

I climbed a mountain on my bike yesterday. It was a birthday present to myself. Mt Diablo rises to an elevation of 3848 ft just seventeen road miles from Kristi’s parents’ house. Once you enter the park proper, the road climbs over 3000 ft in 12.5 miles. In the cycling world, climbs are rated from Category 4 (lowest) to Category 1 (Highest). Climbs harder than 1 earn the HC rating. That’s an abbreviation for the French term Hor’s Categorie. Simply Beyond Category. Mt Diablo falls in the HC group.

It wasn’t an easy climb, but I did it. I didn’t race to the top; I simply kept moving, willing my legs to keep pumping up the final 14% grade on the last pitch to reach the summit. And then it was over. The end of the pain, 360 degree view, the breeze and the endorphin rush were a great reward.

Today we reach another HC summit. But instead of 90 minutes of pedaling, this has been two and half years of life lived Beyond Category. From the shock of diagnosis to the immediate intensity of the fight, from the elation of “remission” to the wrenching reality of the ICU and finally to the surreal celebration of Kristi’s life well lived and then somehow, someway waking up and moving forward each day this past year. Some days I’ve had to simply will the legs to keep pumping as the pitch seemed too steep and the summit insurmountable.

My climb yesterday was alone. Just me and the mountain and a handful of other bikers. Thankfully we have been surrounded by friends and family during this entire HC ordeal. And you’ve been praying. And the Father has carried us. Thank you! When my head was ringing from the pain, or my heart rent from loss, you were there for us. You helped us conquer this year of firsts.

And here we are on top. All our birthdays have now been celebrated one time. The wedding anniversary, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving and more have come and gone. They’ll come again and with new challenges each year, but we’ve made it around the sun one time. And as I reminded the children on our last morning at Mount Hermon, not only did we make it, we’re in pretty good shape too!

Today is the last first. Thanks for continuing to walk this road with us. You have loved our children, loved me and been a visual and personal reminder that the Father is working together with those who love Him, with those called according to His purpose to bring about every good thing. What the enemy meant for evil, we are turning into good. What was intended for harm will be used to bless. It is only possible through Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, as we follow the trail he blazed into the Father’s heart.

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