Nordic Skiing

“You will keep in perfect peace she whose mind is steadfast, because she trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.”  Isiah 26:3-4 (NIV)

My husband and I decided to take up a new winter activity.  I say “new” but in reality we don’t have a winter activity outside of our boys’ winter sports because we’re sunshine and warm weather people and we live in Northern Minnesota.  We bought ourselves cross country skis for Christmas.  My husband is a natural athlete, a downhill skier, and very coordinated.  I am not.  I’m a scaredy-cat when it comes to doing anything that involves speed and going downhill…long story, but the bottom line is that I always end up in awkward positions with injuries.  So as you read this, please be kind and picture me as a “snow bunny” in all the right attire, looking great (as long as I’m standing still).

Friends took us out for our first venture.  I immediately fell and started to cry.  Just being real here.  My girlfriend told me in her stern Mom voice, “You can do this.  Get up and try again!”  So I did.  It wasn’t a carefree, enjoyable time, but I did it.  If you know nothing about Nordic (aka Cross Country) skiing, there are groomed trails through the woods with a set or two of “tracks” so your skis have a place to go and you simply (haha) follow in the tracks.  It sounds so simple! Yes, there is some freestyle kind too, but we won’t even go there.  We went 4 miles the first time…and yes, I was so sore the next week I thought I would never walk normally again!

Let me back track (no pun intended) for a moment… I’m not going to go into all the struggles that my family has had over the last few years, but let me just say that I never would have imagined when my four boys were little that they would make the choices they have, that God would have allowed all that He has, that my heart could be broken so many times by people that I love more than life itself, or that we would be facing the challenges that we are now.  So this New Year I decided to do a “One Word” resolution.  My “one word” is TRUST, and so I’ve been going through the Bible, reading all the scripture that include the word “trust”.  It has been mind-altering, heart-wrenching, and healing in so many ways.   Now you might be wondering what my One Word focus has to do with Nordic skiing…

My husband and I have been attempting to make it to the trails at least once a week.  This last time we were alone on the trails, and I encouraged Rex to go on ahead since he moves a lot faster than I do.  I didn’t want him to feel burdened by me, but I also like to be alone in nature.  I feel the closest to the Lord at those times and with all our family has been going through I needed a little alone time with Jesus.  So I’m alone on the trail, sun shining, snow sparkling, with only the sound of my breathing and the cracking of ice as I glided along the tracks.  My girlfriend had told me to “trust the tracks.”  So I tried to trust the tracks and look around, but I faltered.  I looked back down at the tracks and got myself steadied.  I glanced ahead and I was okay.  Keeping my eyes on the tracks up ahead, trusting the tracks, I glided along and was able to stay stable.  I saw something out of the corner of my eye and looked to the side…immediately I stumbled and had to steady myself (I am getting better at not actually falling, just sayin’).  That went on for a mile or so…looking ahead, trusting the tracks that had been made for me, I was able to take in the beauty of the wild northern Minnesota countryside.  I came to an incline, and started on the balls of my feet to keep traction going up.  But that day was a little warm and the tracks were icy.  I started sliding backwards and fell.  My husband was far ahead, I’m spread eagle on the ground and I had to laugh at myself.  How do I get up?  It didn’t even occur to me to take my skis off and just stand up…so I struggled for quite a while, but eventually righted myself.  Then I faced the hill again.  This time I dug in to the tracks a little deeper and made it.  I was so proud of myself!  But if there’s an uphill, there’s got to be a downhill.  I had pretty much gotten the hang of downhill, as long as it was straight at the bottom and I could glide to the flat area.  But this one had a curve at the bottom.  I knew I was going to fall, but I had to try.   I focused so hard on those tracks!  It was all I could do to stay upright… I even giggled a little, enjoying the wind in my face and the speed I had on that hill…I trusted the tracks and leaned into the curve…and I made it!

As I continued on the tracks through the woods, I realized that walking with Jesus is a lot like Nordic skiing.  He has a trail for us to follow, a plan and a purpose for each individual’s life.  He has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit, the “tracks,” we need to trust.  When we choose to look to the left or the right, we falter; we might even stumble and fall.  We need to keep our eyes on the tracks ahead and on Christ.  We are going to face hills, maybe even mountains, but digging deep into those tracks we can make it to the top.  It’s hard work; believe me, but when we face those mountains with Christ, “all things are possible!” (Phil. 4:13).  And we can enjoy the easy downhills…they do happen…we can laugh and enjoy the ride! Sometimes there’s a curve we see and can prepare for, but oftentimes we’re not even aware there’s a danger up ahead.  Its then that we need to lean into the Lord, hold on to those tracks so we don’t fall, so we can make it to the straightaway.  But even if we fall, He is there to help us up if we let Him.  Skiing with Jesus is a lifelong endeavor, a process, but eventually we get to the end of the trail where He will welcome us home!

Father, thank you for the “tracks” you have made for us.  We need never be afraid, because you have made the way through these trails we journey in this life.  We can trust you completely because you are a good, good Father and you always have our best in mind, no matter what mountains we face.  The curves in the track allow us to lean into You, and help us to trust you even more.  Thank you for being right beside us on this hard journey of life Jesus.  Without you nothing is possible, but with you, we can do everything!

Stacey Ray

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband.  Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development.  With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram:  “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband. Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development. With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram: “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”

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