On Mountains, Toilet Paper, and Framily: When Life Feels a Little Lackluster

July 15, 2015

This morning I’m sweating as I vacuum out the truck. Too many kids trampling through and too many weeks left to fend for itself have found our vehicle in a sad state. As I wipe old milk stains off the leather seats and suck up broken glass (?!?) that mysteriously appeared from under our side console, I think about the purpose for our upcoming trip to Colorado, an endeavor to once again support Katie's Club, a fund set up in memory of my sister Katrina.
The hikers ready to climb the first year!

10 years ago, Kyle and I were packing for our first trip to Colorado. With no kids in tow, our lives looked quite different as we packed two bags for the both of us (can you even imagine?!?) and jumped in the back of my brother-in-laws truck, naively ready to climb a mountain. A feat we’d never accomplished, all in memory of a sister who’d passed away not even a year earlier. The pain still raw to the touch, tears just barely removed from the surface.

I remember how hard that first year had been for me, moving into the toy room at my brother-in-law’s house, struggling to pay bills and find work, trying to finish grad school, all while navigating the grief of losing one of the most influential people in my life. I remember how the grief would wash over me in waves—sometimes awakening me at night, as I’d writhe in pain on the floor— not realizing until much later that my physical symptoms were simply a manifestation of the grief I was walking through.

But as I look back now, I see how God used so many things, so many people, to show me his goodness during those days. And climbing a mountain was a huge part of what eventually began a healing in me I didn’t even realize I needed.

All leading up to this past Sunday, sitting in a dimly lit downtown restaurant—sipping wine and sampling cheeses--with a group of friends who’ve walked with us over the course of these past ten years. All who’ve supported Katie’s club and hiked with us and loved us well.

Our conversation turns to Colorado as these dear friends have agreed to join us for the 10th anniversary of Hope Hike, one last climb for Katrina, as we return to the mountain we hiked that first year, Holy Cross.

At the top of Holy Cross.
We talk about gear we’ll need, camping supplies, how early we’ll need to wake the night before, toilet paper you may just need, and food that you can eat (completely guilt-free!) on the hike.

We leave that night and I feel a little lackluster, like something wasn’t said that needed to be. It’s a feeling I hadn’t been able to shake the past several weeks: Why do I feel like going this year is going to be a chore? Where’s my enthusiasm? Needing a little perspective for myself, I sat down later the next night and typed out this email to our friends:

Hello Friends,  
Christa, who puts up with my grunting.
After we left last night and I thought more about our conversation regarding mountain climbing, I had some thoughts I just wanted to share. 
First, it’s hard. Really hard. I get it. For anyone who’s gone with me before you know that I can resort to grunting instead of using words (Christa) and usually for at least the first (okay, several) miles I hate it. I hate the hiking. And the mountain. And you. Especially if you smile at me. 

What I feel like we may have missed, or at least I missed, in saying last night is that amidst all the talk of toilet paper (eww), boots, hiking sticks and knee braces, was just how truly amazing the whole thing is too. 
Jenny, who listens to all our crazy mountain stories.
Climbing a mountain for me is spiritual. I see God again and his creation with fresh eyes. It renews me and my spirit. It reminds me that there is GOOD in this world. That God is good. And as we come up above the tree line, as we start climbing over rocks and the cool breeze brushes past you, as you stop and close your eyes, breathing deeply of this fresh air, you will almost believe that it is the very breath of God that is rushing past you. 
As you look out at the expanse of his creation, you are reminded at how truly GREAT he is. And it is awesome to behold, at least it is for me. Just like the shores of Lake Superior are a balm for my weary soul, the mountains are a salve to a weary heart.

The second thing I wanted to say, and I thought better to send it so you all don’t see me cry, is how blessed I am to see you all coming with us. This has been a ten year journey and you were there all along the way. You are friends. And you are family. You are framily :) And I tell my kids all the time, find friends like this, people who will walk with you, who journey with you. Who see your shortcomings, you’re annoyances and love you anyway. People who laugh with you. And cry with you. And dream with you. People who support things because they matter to you. People who are willing to pack toilet paper, and get sweaty and risk injury because this is what we do. We do things together. This is the life and you guys are the peeps I’ve always wanted and dreamed would be a part of my (and our) lives.

So thank you for that.

We love you.
Kendra (and Kyle)

Sending it, I felt my enthusiasm restored. This was the reminder that I needed for why we were going. And my friends? They sent me the sweetest little notes back. And now, as I look at the never ending list of things to remember with four kids along for the ride, I find strength I thought was gone, motivation to accomplish (joyfully!) everything on the list.

And I just wonder who needs a little perspective on their day? Maybe you’ve been walking through life a little lackluster. Maybe it’s time to let God or some good friends remind you of what is really important. Can I encourage you today friend, get honest with someone you trust? Letting others in can be hard, but it may just be the boost you’ve been needing.

OR send us a note, we’d love to pray for you!

Today we are linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Holley Gerth.


  1. What a beautiful story! I have climbed two mountains and it is an exhausting and exhilarating journey ask at the same time! Thanks for sharing these words with us! (Your neighbor at #TellHisStory

    1. Thanks Rachel! How exciting that you've climbed a mountain too, not many people have :) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Love the power of healing in your story. Beautiful