Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 10, 2018

An Alaskan Adventure

I have a raging thirst for service and adventure.

There are few things, in my estimation, that are as satisfying to the soul as helping those in need — without expecting anything in return. I believe that the world would be a better place if more of the members of our human race would regard others as more important than themselves. The Bible certainly affirms as much, calling us to not merely look out for our own personal interests but for the interests of others as well.

As for adventure, it is the ultimate antidote to boredom and all of the dull blahs that come with living life in the safe zone. I am determined to seek adventure for as long as I am able — to embracing new challenges that stretch me. I want for my feet to take me to places that make my muscles hurt and that lead to vistas that take my breath away. Why settle for anything less?

I believe that God has placed within us the capacity to serve others and also some measure of curiosity about what lies beyond our comforts. We will, however, experience neither unless we are intentional — unless we are willing to move in the direction of people in need and toward distant horizons.

Our men’s ministry at Kingsland is about so much more than just spending time in shared study. We also challenge men to participate in shared mission (or service initiatives) and shared adventure. I was privileged to help lead a team of men to Alaska this past week to serve our ministry partner in Anchorage and to share an adventure.

For the second year, our men’s team traveled to Anchorage to service the ministry vehicles for GraceWorks Alaska. This ministry will host over one-thousand volunteers this summer, including a team of eighty tenth-grade students and sponsors from Kingsland. GraceWorks depends on their fleet of vehicles to transport these volunteers to ministry points in and around Anchorage.

In addition to our team of mechanics, we also took a team of men to take on the challenge of completely gutting and remodeling a bathroom in the parsonage of Calvary Baptist Church, in just four days. The 1950’s-era bathroom required a lot of work, a lot of runs to the building supply store, and some long hours. On our longest day we worked from morning to midnight.

We completed all of our assigned tasks and still had time for adventure. We hiked in the snow to Byron Glacier, took pics of wildlife near Portage Glacier, and took three bush planes to visit an Indian village along the shores of Cook Inlet where our hosts treated us to some delicious moose stew. Really good stuff.

In addition to all this, Gil Harris, our men’s ministry director, led us in a time of Bible study and discussion every morning. As men, we are committed to doing life in community because alone is dangerous. We all enjoyed a good week, made new friends, strengthened old friendships, helped our ministry partner, and blessed a faithful older pastor and his wife with a new bathroom.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 11, 2018

The Weight of Water

Among the things that are not on our list of things to worry about is the weight of water. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have never given a single or even a second thought to how much water actually weighs. And in case you are wondering, a gallon of water weighs approximately 8.35 pounds.

Eight-plus pounds is no big deal for those of us who never have to lift much more than a glass or perhaps a bottle of water that weighs in at a few mere manageable ounces. Because water flows into our homes in copious amounts, the weight of water is of no consequence. So, we use pounds and pounds of water every day to hydrate, bathe, wash our clothes, and water our lawns.

Not so for many in our world who concern themselves daily with both the potability and portability of the water they use. Those who live without the luxury of indoor plumbing must consider the quality of the water they consume and then how to transport it from the source to their homes. They often lose on both counts — poor water quality plus the burden of transporting sketchy water for daily use.

Our team is in El Salvador this week where we are drilling yet one more water well in cooperation with our friends at Living Water International. The sight of children and women spending hours a day fetching water for daily use still bothers me. Transporting water twenty to forty pounds at a time — sometimes several times a day — is beyond burdensome.

This week our team successfully drilled a water well for the 15 families that call Wisnay (pronounced W-is-nigh), a remote village in El Salvador, their home. Of the nineteen water wells we have drilled to date, this was by far the easiest. We drilled in the perfect spot and managed to avoid those layers of volcanic rock that have so often slowed us down in the past. We hit beautiful water at a depth of 106-feet.

So, what will this mean for the people here who understand all too well the weight of water?

First, having a source of water that is centrally located should buy back time for moms and kids. By not having to walk as far to get water, these saved hours can be reinvested in the home. Although families will still have to make several trips a day, they will not have to travel as far. The villagers will also have the option of later adding a pump and tubing to actually pump water to their homes.

Second, for the first time ever these families now have a source of water that is safe to drink. Because the well we drilled is several times deeper than hand-dug wells or streams that are polluted by agricultural chemical run-off, the families of Wisnay should enjoy better health. Bad water accounts for lots of sickness around the world and claims the lives of too many children every single minute of the day.

There is no better reward after a week of drilling than the smiles on the faces of the children and families whose prayers for clean water have been answered. To present others a cup of water in Jesus’ name is one of the best and most fulfilling experiences in the world for a Christ-follower. We are grateful to have had this opportunity to lighten the load for the beautiful people of Wisnay.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 27, 2018

A Tale of Two Cops

Our lives are, essentially, a series of moments that tell our respective stories. As we travel through time each of us leave history in our wake — one moment at a time. Each moment that we live is filled with the potential to do good, to do the right thing, to make a difference. The potential of each moment, however, is unlocked by our choices. And once a moment has come and gone it forever carries with it the imprint of those choices.

The most important and significant moments of our lives seldom present themselves at a convenient time. We rarely receive any warning that our lives are headed toward a moment that will be unlike any other moment we have ever faced — a moment that will present us with an unprecedented opportunity to make a difference beyond the ordinary.

Such a moment presented itself to Deputy Scot Peterson. On February 14, a young man named Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and went on a shooting rampage that claimed the lives of fourteen and injured many others. Peterson, the only armed sheriff’s deputy on the scene, heard the sound of the gunfire and was immediately presented with a moment filled with the potential to do good.

Sadly, for whatever reason, Peterson failed to seize the power of his moment. He failed to move in the direction of those in danger — something that is expected of those sworn to protect the public. Instead, Peterson made a choice to keep a safe distance away. And, because our choices have consequences, people died during those moments. Things might have turned out different had Peterson unlocked the potential of his moment by moving toward those in danger.

On March 23, a French police officer named Arnaud Beltrame was also presented with a moment in which to do good. His moment came when an Islamic gunman entered the Super U Market in the southern French town of Trebes and took hostages. The gunman killed four people and injured fifteen others. Beltrame made a decision to unlock the potential of his moment. He offered himself in exchange for one of the hostages, a store employee named Julie.

Beltrame surrendered his weapon and courageously walked into the store unarmed and gave himself in exchange for Julie. The experienced officer kept his cell phone on, allowing authorities to hear what was happening inside. When the attacker started firing, the authorities rushed in and killed him. Beltrame sustained injuries that led to his death the following day.

And so, we have a tale of two cops, of two men who were presented with an extraordinary moment in which to do good.

Peterson will live a lifetime trying to convince others, and himself, that he made the right choice. Sadly, because of the choice he made to remain a safe distance from those in danger, the world will never look upon him as a hero. That opportunity remains forever locked in the moment that had presented itself to Peterson and will never come again.

Beltrame, on the other hand, willingly moved in the direction of people in danger and lost his life as a result. He knew the risks and accepted them. The French people and the world have already acknowledged him as a hero. Because he unlocked the potential to do good in the moment that presented itself, he helped prevent what might have been an even greater loss of life.

Don’t expect God to check your calendar before presenting you with a moment packed with the potential to do good. Don’t get irritated or walk away and don’t allow fear to keep you from embracing your moment. Instead, be willing to do what needs to be done. After all, you are writing your own story, one moment at a time.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 21, 2018

A Certain Sadness

We live in a mad, mad world! Deadly acts of violence in our nation and around the globe are commonplace. Beheadings, suicide bombers, feticide, shootings in schools and public places, rape, infanticide, bullying — and, the latest act of violence in our own country, explosive devices concealed in innocent-looking packages.

A few years ago I spoke to a group in New Delhi about India’s disregard for the welfare of girls. I pointed to the multiple daily media reports about feticide, infant girls abandoned or disposed of in numbers that equal gendercide, the rape of even the youngest girls, and a multitude of other abuses.

Afterwards, a young man approached me and asked about all of the school shootings in America. He pointed out that the United States is just as deadly as India to all children, not just girls. “I would consider it irresponsible,” he said, “for any parent to send their child to a public school in America.” Point taken!

Because I don’t travel as a tourist but rather engage in the kinds of places where tourists fear to tread, I have seen more ugliness than I ever expected to see — things that I can never unsee. I live with a certain sadness. It’s as though my heart is bruised and every act of violence I hear about presses against that bruise and reignites the pain.

I have walked among victims of the Janjaweed in Darfur, served both Syrian and Iraqi refugees, cared for the dying in Mother Teresa’s homes, visited the poorest of the poor in too many slums to count, seen despair etched into the faces of the despised Rohingya in South Asia, listened to heartbreaking stories of young girls rescued from human traffickers, and more.

Every act of violence and injustice on the planet is driven by world view considerations. At the core of every oppressive and deadly act, in and out of the womb, is a blatant disregard for or an impoverished understanding of the sanctity of human life. When we do not value human life, then the distance that the unspeakable must travel toward becoming reality is shortened.

Jesus cautioned that the devil’s agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy. This clever enemy works tirelessly to numb any part of our heart to the value of human life because once this infection sets in then he knows it can destructively spread to other parts of our heart.

While many rightly decry acts of violence, they seem to do so selectively. We cry foul when a shooter walks into a school. But where is the outcry against the media and music whose messages unashamedly diminish the value of human life and desensitize those who choose to endanger the lives of others.

We quickly protest the availability of guns and the loopholes that make it possible for certain individuals to acquire them. There is no outcry, however, against the tools that an abortionist uses to dismember a child in the womb. Our culture is indeed selective when it comes to the matter of protecting life.

The reality is that the farther away we move from embracing the sanctity of human life the more we put ourselves in danger — and the more absurd we become in regard to affirming the value of human life.

For example, earlier this year the Swiss made it illegal to boil a live lobster because these crustaceans can sense pain. And yet, while the government has acted in response to the pain of lobsters, it has left its abortion laws intact. No consideration for the child in the womb that can feel pain as intensely, if not more so, than lobsters and adults.

Absurd, indeed!

If we are not careful, by denying the right to life to others, we may unwittingly contribute to building the gallows that may one day put our own lives in danger.

Again, the devil is clever. He is happy to give us what we want but always in exchange for what we have. If we demand the right to end life in the womb then one day we may be fighting against those who prefer to euthanize us when we are old and helpless and deemed to be of little use to society.

However an act of aggression against human life is carried out — whether by swords or guns or scalpels — we must look beyond the particular instrument used to end life. We must instead go deeper and consider the world view that leads individuals to use those instruments to cut off heads, shoot innocent bystanders, or dismember babies in the womb.

Life is precious both inside and outside of the womb and worth fighting for.

We must intentionally teach and model for our children what it means to value all human life — including their own. An individual who feels that their own life has little or no value is likely to have little or no regard for the welfare of their neighbor.

Our children must know that we unquestionably affirm their worth and that they are of inestimable importance to us. By so doing our children are more likely to affirm the worth of others, less likely to harm others, and more likely to champion the sanctity of human life.

Failure to do so will have far-reaching consequences that will usher our world into deeper darkness and cover it with a certain sadness. Failure cannot be an option. Too much is at stake!

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 4, 2018

Caring for Katy 2018

Our 11th Annual Caring for Katy is now history. As much time and energy as we put into planning our big day of community service, there is one variable we cannot control — the weather. And this year, the weather did not cooperate. No problem, however, for the people of Kingsland.

Serving others in spite of the weather is important.

I like NBA great Jerry West who played his entire professional career for the Los Angeles Lakers. His silhouette is featured in the NBA logo. West once said, “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” He was right. And, to turn West’s phrase, “You can’t get much done for the kingdom if you only serve others on days when the weather is pleasant.”

I made my mind up a long time ago that I do not want to walk into heaven with a clean uniform. Instead, I want to drag in all beat up with a filthy, tattered, and torn uniform — something that can happen only by being engaged in the game. I am not interested in standing on the sidelines.

I am grateful for the people of Kingsland — all generations — and how they served our community in spite of the weather. Our many service initiatives were like showers of blessings all over Katy. Thanks also to our media team for once again capturing so many special moments and putting together a great video.

Thank you, Kingsland family, for Caring for Katy.

Note: If you receive my blog by email, click this link to see the video:

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 27, 2018

In Harmony With Jesus

We are now two months into the new year, and I am two months into my new Bible reading plan. For years I have engaged in read through the Bible plans at the start of each new year. My read through the Bible plans have been just that — reading the Scriptures each morning and then reflecting on what I have read throughout the day.

This year I decided to try something new. Instead of reading through the Bible I decided to read through the Gospels. My goal is to saturate my head and my heart with the story of Jesus — to ask God to open my eyes to better understand the life and ministry of Jesus. What better way than to read the Gospels this year again and again.

Instead of simply reading through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, I am reading through chronologically integrated harmonies of these Gospels. And, as familiar as I am with these accounts, I feel as though I am reading about the life of Jesus in a refreshingly new and engaging way.

In March of 1982, some friends gave me a copy of A.T. Robertson’s “A Harmony of the Gospels.” This was the first volume of its kind in my personal library. It was the first book I read that helped me to see the Gospels and the story of Jesus in a new light. While helpful, it is a bit tedious to read because it presents the four New Testament Gospels in parallel columns. I also have a 1917 copy of “A Harmony of the Synoptic Gospels” by Burton and Goodspeed that also presents the story in parallel columns.

In anticipation of my new reading plan, I purchased a copy of “The Four In One Gospel of Jesus” by Nikola Dimitrov. This volume, based on the King James text, weaves the events recorded in the four Gospels into a single chronological narrative that enables the reader to see Jesus in a dynamic light. I told a friend that it felt like I was reading the Gospels for the first time.

This month I purchased a copy of “A Simplified Harmony of the Gospels” by George W. Knight. Like Dimitrov’s book, this volume also chronologically weaves the story of Jesus into one flowing text. Based on the text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, this book also integrates helpful exegetical notes. I like this book so much that I also purchased the Kindle version so that I can have it with me at all times.

While I enjoy reading books about Jesus, there is something different about reading the Gospels and allowing the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to the beauty of Jesus sans any commentary from others. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the greatest orators of the 19th century, observed that it is God’s Word, not man’s comments on God’s Word, that is made powerful with souls. He was right.

The older I get the more I want to read about and to focus on the life of Jesus. I am more determined than ever to guard against the things that can distract me from Him. I want to become even more familiar with all that made His life absolutely distinctive, beautiful, and worthy of imitation. I want to live my life in harmony with Jesus.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 21, 2018

On Billy Graham

For the past eight decades, Billy Graham has been one of the most prominent figures on the world’s spiritual landscape. His televised crusades gave him a platform to share the good news of Jesus Christ with millions. Graham’s distinctive voice, clear speaking style, and personal integrity attracted untold numbers of people to listen to what he had to say.

Personal integrity mattered to Graham. In the late 1940s, Billy Graham, Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea, and Grady Wilson met at a farm outside Modesto, California. These men prayed together and pledged themselves to a high level of moral accountability in a document that became known as the Modesto Manifesto.

The commitment of Graham and his team to financial and moral integrity as well as remaining honest and positive served them well. When other evangelists got themselves tangled up in sexual or financial scandals, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association continued to demonstrate the highest levels of integrity. The association was never marked by scandal.

It’s no wonder that God used Graham and his team to share the gospel with upwards of 210 million people in more than 185 countries — more than any other person in the history of Christianity. His life added credibility to his words. Graham’s messages always focused on Jesus and the transforming power of the gospel.

When I look back and connect the dots of my own spiritual journey, Billy Graham is a part of my own story of coming to faith in Christ. He piqued my interest in the gospel and my curiosity about heaven and how to know that you are going to heaven. But what about Graham’s own spiritual journey?

In 1879, Evangelist D.L. Moody preached in England and awakened the evangelistic zeal in the heart of Frederick B. Meyer, pastor of a small church. F.B. Meyer preached on an American campus and a student named J. Wilbur Chapman gave his life to Christ.

Chapman was engaged in YMCA work and employed Billy Sunday, a former baseball player, to do evangelistic work. Billy Sunday held a revival in Charlotte, North Carolina. Afterward, a group of local men were so enthusiastic that they planned another evangelistic campaign and invited Mordecai Hamm to preach.

In the revival led by Hamm, a young man named William Graham heard the gospel and gave his life to Christ. The rest is history. Millions in the world today can trace their respective spiritual lineages back to Billy Graham, myself included.

Today, Billy Graham died of natural causes at his home in Montreat, North Carolina at the age of ninety-nine. I can only imagine what it must have been like for Dr. Graham to see Jesus face to face — and for him to have been met by the millions who embraced Jesus and are now in heaven as a result of his ministry. I will be forever grateful for Billy Graham and how God used him to impact my life and spiritual journey.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 1, 2018

Pick Up The Stick

Over the past several years, I have written much about the injustices suffered by women and young girls in India. While traveling to India in 2013, I read a fascinating story about the Gulabi Gang — a coalition of women who were fed up with the abuse of women on the subcontinent. Now more than 20,000 strong, these pink clad village women hold abusive men accountable for their violent behavior against women.

My friend Vinita Shaw is a strong advocate of women’s rights in India. She has become a powerful voice against everything from the feticide of preborn girls to the rape of very young girls and women and more. She has written several books addressing these issues, spoken around the globe and at the United Nations, and speaks on a weekly radio program that we underwrite that reaches a huge national audience.

Vinita recently wrote to tell me about an encounter she had with a little girl — and what turned into a preschool version of the Gulabi Gang. She is right to point out that families in India must change their attitude toward and tolerance of the abuse of girls lest they continue to contribute to a climate that is unhealthy and dangerous for girls and women. Here is what Vinita wrote:

As I soaked in the winter sun in New Delhi, sitting in my back yard, enjoying my favorite winter fruit, a big juicy orange, I thanked God for some peace. Away from the noise of a bustling city, the basking felt good on my bones. I closed my eyes to enjoy the juice and allowed the sun’s rays to fall on my face.

My reverie was short-lived as I heard a little girl’s cry. I turned to find the gardener’s 3 year-old granddaughter come running out of the humble dwelling crying loudly and her 3 year-old cousin chasing her to hit her more as he chuckled.

This was nothing new. Often I would hear her cry and sometimes scream and each time I looked out, the little rascal would hit her and give a wicked, victorious smile as their respective mothers looked the other way.

I decided that day to personally tutor the little girl.

I beckoned to her. She looked sulkily as large tear drops moistened her small face. She came when I offered her my orange.

I asked her why she was crying. ”He hit me,” she said as she pointed at the boy. I stared at the little rascal and he stuck his tongue out at me.

I looked around and saw a stick lying on the grass. They had been playing with it. “Pick it up and chase him away,” I said to her. She looked at me, not quite grasping. I said to her again, slowly, “Pick. Up. The. Stick. Do not sit crying and letting him hit you.”She looked at me, smiled and ran toward him with the stick.

The little boy could not believe what happened next. With gay abandon, she aimed the stick on his head and victoriously looked and smiled at me. Then he ran as she chased him away.

I yelled out to the mothers, ”If you do not stop him hitting her now, when he grows up, he will hit his wife and when you are old, he will hit you too. He has to be taught now, not to hit a girl.”

The young mothers, village-bred, look at me and then stared hard at the grass on which they sat soaking the sun. They had nothing to say. I wonder if they even understood what I was attempting to communicate, even as I with my little team advocate gender equality and encouragement and empowerment of women through our multiple radio broadcasts through All India Radio’s multiple channels and innumerable conferences.

Is anyone understanding as we communicate the truth, I wonder. I belong to a country where recent surveys show that women are neglected, victimized, and, in many cases, forced to commit suicide. Being an Indian woman is a very hard life because for millennia women have been made to believe that they are the second sex — and all this teaching begins at home where they are tutored to believe that man is god and a cow is safer than a woman.

Some listen to us and respond and mend their ways. Others continue with their centuries old beliefs. We continue our uphill task and pray that the our people will understand and embrace the truth that all human life is precious to God. We pray that God will open their minds to His truth and that boys and girls would receive equal love in their family units and be allowed to dream and fly.

Come join us in prayer.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 19, 2018

On Entertaining Angels

It has only happened to me twice before — occasions where I am certain that by extending hospitality to another I unwittingly entertained angels without knowing it.

The first occasion came soon after I became a Christ-follower and provided the impetus I needed to pursue Christ more passionately. I can provide no reasonable explanation for the individual who knocked on my door, encouraged me, and then stepped out my front door and then was nowhere to be seen.

The second occasion happened just a few years later and involved extending hospitality to a complete stranger. After encouraging my friends that we needed to help the old gentleman, the old man blessed us, walked out the door, and — well, the same thing happened again. When we followed him out the door he was gone. I mean, gone!

This past week, it happened yet again. A young man in need stopped by the church. It would take pages to outline all of the details, so suffice it to say that when I took him out to get a burger he started asking me questions that made me feel as though he knew a whole lot about me. Questions about my travel, specific parks where I have had some great adventures, and more.

While sitting in my car, he asked me about the Texas State Parks guide that I keep crammed into the passenger side door bin along with all of my maps. There is no possible way anyone would know that I had a state parks guide in that jumble of maps. Without even looking, he reached over and pulled out the guide as though he had always known exactly where I kept it.

He asked me about a certain park and then turned to that page in the guide without flipping through pages. He did that a couple more times. None of this struck me as odd until I suddenly awoke at three in the morning. “Whaaaaat!” I said to myself as I opened my eyes and realized that he could not have known I had the park guide in my truck. And how is it possible that, without even looking, he turned to the exact pages of the specific parks where I have camped and hiked?

And then I started to replay in my mind every word and every question he had asked me in the two hours we had spent together. I have assisted more homeless guys and people in need over the past forty years of ministry than I can count. No one has ever asked me the questions he asked me about God’s love, my travels, my adventures, my life.

Although I wanted to do more to help the young man, he told me that he was going to step out of the truck and talk with some day-laborers who were waiting for work nearby. He was totally kind, displayed an unusual meekness and respect, and asked questions that caused me to reflect on my life, not his. Now, at three in the morning, I wanted to know more about this stranger who had caused me to look inward and who had left me wanting to do more for him.

I have no explanation other than to consider the words of Hebrews 13:2, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Was this young man an angel on some divine mission? I can’t say. However, my über-conservative theological gut tells me that it is likely he was indeed much more than a traveler in need of a meal.

Once again, God has reminded me of the importance of allowing Him to interrupt my life whenever He wants by putting whomever He wants in my path. And, as I learned from my years of serving at Mother Teresa’s homes in India, I need to keep my eyes open for Jesus and look for Him in the distressing disguise of those in need.

Maybe I am making too much out of my encounter with the young man and maybe not. What I know for certain is that this encounter has caused me to reflect deeply about the value of loving and showing hospitality to strangers. Angel or not — this encounter touched me deeply. And, that’s a good thing!

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 4, 2018

My Adventure Resolutions

Over the past several years, my blog posts at the start of each new year have addressed my determination to strengthen the core spiritual disciplines that are vital to a healthy and meaningful walk with God. As I begin the new year, I remain committed to continuing to do the things that will help me to love God, grow in my relationship with Him, advance His interests, and serve others.

However, I want to add something new to my list of new year’s resolutions that address my heart for adventure. I do so without apology because I believe that God created us to enjoy adventure, especially in the context of His magnificent gift of the outdoors. I believe that the outdoors is really good medicine for improving our spiritual, physical, and emotional health.

So, this year, I am adding the following items to my list of resolutions.

Push Your Limits

This resolution is consistent with the title of my blog. I want to go beyond — to take another step beyond the line that delineates the farthest I have ever been in terms of adventuring.

To date I have stood on the summit of four of the seven highest points in Texas. One of my goals for this new year is to reach the summits of Shumard Peak and Bartlett Peak, two more of the 8,000-plus foot peaks in the Lone Star State. Reaching both of these peaks will require bushwhacking, improving my map and compass skills, and doing some primitive camping.

How will you push your limits this year?

Get Stronger
I know that in order to successfully accomplish this year’s adventure resolutions, I need to get stronger. I don’t mind telling you that at 61-years of age I have to work harder than ever before to burn off extra calories and to maintain muscle strength.

This year I am especially determined to strengthen my core. That means that every day I have to hit the gym in my garage and embrace the pain of exercise. No excuses! No waiting until later or putting it off until I feel better or the weather improves or whatever. I can’t afford to make excuses or to kill time because time is killing me.

What will you do this year to improve your health?

Explore New Trails

Conservationist John Muir loved to hike and explore new trails. His countless miles of meanderings inspired him to write what has become a favorite quote: “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” That’s really good advice! I never get tired of hiking or biking a new trail that leads me to a view that takes my breath away.

Whether hiking or biking, I can’t wait to hit the trails this year. Some friends and I participated in the First Day Ride at Brazos Bend State Park on January 1. With temps in the mid-thirties, it was a cold and invigorating ride. We will head out again this weekend to explore the trails in another state park. With ninety-five state parks in the Lone Star State, there is no excuse for not exploring new trails.

Where will you venture this year to explore new trails?

Try Something New
A little over a year ago I added heavy bag training to my workout routine. A modest investment is all it took to get started — along with advice from a kick-boxing friend and a lot of YouTube videos. This cardio-intensive workout is now part of my exercise routine.

Last year I added a series of new cardio exercises to my interval training routine, including battle rope and kettle bells. I started this new year off by adding some new exercises to my daily workout routine that will help me to strengthen my core. I also have a couple of new adventures in queue that I will write about later.

What new things will you try this year that will stretch and challenge you?

Opt Outside

Whatever else you do this year, make it a point to opt outside. Go beyond watching Bear Grylls or those Alaska guys on TV doing adventurous stuff. Have your own adventures in whatever way works best for you. Walk one mile or a hundred. Breathe fresh air. Sleep under the stars. Prepare a meal over a campfire. Photograph landscapes or wildlife or flowers or clouds. Learn about the flora and fauna in your neck of the woods. Engage in and enjoy the outdoors. After all, the outdoors is one huge magnificent gift from God to you.

Will you opt outside this year?

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