Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Is "Relationship With God" a Biblical concept?

I just read a blog this morning about how the motive for a daily quiet times is not just about a relationship with God--that frequently, disciplers used this concept to explain why daily devotions are important.  I have used the same approach for teaching how to have a quiet time in encouraging new believers to develop this discipline and feed their souls from God's word themselves.  And although I agreed that the blogger's point that we need to go deeper than that, and she makes a good case for other motives for pursuing God in His word and prayer, but...the relationship is still important to me.

Because I am focusing on my relationship with God, I was touched by this beginning to a prayer letter that I receive from a staff member of Campus Crusade for Christ:

"Every now and then I pray this prayer aloud: 'Lord, you see what I know and you see what I don't know. As you look at me and see what I need and what you want me to know, please lead me into that truth.' I never know how the answer will come.  It could be a sermon, something in Scripture, an article, a book, the words of a person." Ney Bailey,  "From My Heart" newsletter; Volume 29, Number 1; June 2014

I got this newsletter a few days ago--it was so encouraging as Ney Bailey describes how God used a book to help her understand that He wants her to have life WITH Him, not just FOR Him, FROM Him, OVER Him and UNDER Him.  The book is by Skye Jenthani entitled WITH.

She quotes Jenthani:

"The Life WITH God posture is predicated on the view that relationship is at the core of the cosmos.  God the Father WITH God the Son WITH God the Holy Spirit. And so, we should not be surprised to discover that when God desired to restore His broken relationship with people, He sent His Son to dwell WITH us.  His plan to restore His creation was not to send a list of rules and rituals to follow (Life Under God), nor was it the implementation of useful principles (Life Over God).  He did not send a genie to grant us our desires (Life From God). Instead, God himself came to be WITH us--to walk with us once again as He had in Eden in the beginning, Jesus entered into our dark existence to share our broken world and illuminate a different way forward."

"Life WITH God is different because its goal is not to USE God, its goal IS God.  He ceases to be a device we employ or a commodity we consume.  Instead, God Himself becomes the focus of our desire.  God ceases to be how we acquire our treasure...He becomes our treasure.  Life WITH God means first treasuring Him above all else, and we are inspired to treasure Him when He is revealed to us in Jesus Christ."

She then ends her newsletter this way:

"The word with has for years been one of  my favorite words.  There's nothing like someone really being WITH you.  There is oneness, peace enjoyment.  There are so many promises in the Bible where He promises to be WITH us.  We don't have to fear because He is WITH us.  We can get through difficult times because He promises to be WITH us.  The last comforting words of Jesus were, "I will be WITH you ALWAYS, even to the end of the age" Matthew 28:20

"In fact, no matter where we are right now in life, and no matter what we face in the future, He promises to be WITH us always.  May we, too, be aware of His presence and choose to be WITH Him.  Wherever you are right now, this minute, whether you feel like it or not, He is with you.  Right now, right there, always and forever."

Thanks, Ney Bailey, for sharing what I needed to hear.  Thank You, Father, for using Ney so I can hear it.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Evolutions of a Heart Blossom

          This is not me in real life, just a photo downloaded off the internet about what I love to do.

"The more we pray--in the sense of living a prayerful life--the more we desire to pray.  If we live prayerful life, then there is a growing desire to spend more time with God and God alone.  It is always the opposite of what people think.  It is not, 'Oh, my life is prayer so I don't have to say prayers.' Rather, the desire to pray and to spend time with God and God alone is always growing.  It creates in us a desire to be with the Lord whom we have seen shining through people and events, to be with the Lord alone.  Then prayer becomes one of the greatest gifts that we can have, because to be with God whom we discover during the day, to be with God and God alone is a great desire. It is as though you have worked with your friends all day, but in the evening it is nice to be with them and them alone, just to be with these special people."
                                               ~~ Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing

I am reading Nouwen during the remainder of vacation--his writings help me focus on my relationship with God, especially prayer. I've been feeling prompted to dive deeper to develop this aspect of my communion with Him. It seems to be the weakest link in my devotions, God has been telling me to my surprise.

Over the last 30 years, I've been attentive to my time in God's word.  Many bible studies and devotions have reinforced to me the importance of knowing Him through Scripture.  I desire and enjoy reading, meditating and memorizing the Bible as well as studying and hearing teaching from various pastors--especially from Kevin, Ben and Jason-- my own at home.  So, I thought I was going in the right direction. Not attaining what I pursued, but generally moving towards it.  But I was missing something.

When it comes to prayer, I pray for friends, co-workers, and family--I'm in the prayer chain email with my church, and I am regular in bringing requests to the Lord.  I'm doing well here but it isn't enough.  God doesn't want just to hear requests about how my loved ones are struggling. As good and needful as those prayers are, He wants more.  He wants my heart.

A Spiritual Problem

For the most part, I didn't think I was withholding from Him. But that is just my human self assessment. God was trying to tell me otherwise.  Six years ago, while meditating and praying during a counseling session with The Navigators, verses from the Book of Revelation came to my attention.  To the Ephesian church, Jesus told them that they had forsaken their first love, to remember the height from which they had fallen, to repent and do the things they did at first.  They were a persevering community, enduring hardships for Jesus' name as well as working hard to be discerning between truth and falsehoods.  They probably thought they were doing well. I thought about how shocked the receivers of this warning must have been when they first read this--how grieved they must have been.  And I was shocked and grieved, that maybe this is God's message for me too.

Then I remembered a quiet time I had in the 80's.  I was single and spent long sessions of pouring out my soul to God, many recorded in journals.  But this one was especially intense.  I remember a feeling of overwhelming comfort and peace.  God didn't want me to worry any more.  I was praying "to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" Ephesians 3:18-19.

At the time, I felt fullness of God.  Looking back much later after nearly 20 years of marriage, I felt it was one of those privileges of being younger and single--that God was using my singleness to focus only on Him, since marriage is so distracting.  1Corinthians 7: 32-25  But during that counseling session six years ago, it dawned on me that this was the height from which I fell.  Not that I always would have that fullness feeling, but the desire for God had waned.  Distractions of life had nothing to do with it and everything to do with it.  Married or unmarried, we need to be undivided in our devotion to God, it's just easier when we are not married.  It doesn't let married people off the hook.

And the desire came and went, the prayer sessions came and went, prayer partners came and went and I was trying to repent and return to the deeds of love for others and for God that I once did before.  I think that the struggle was good for me, but I didn't know if this was God wanted. It was six years of perseverance and endurance, yet still feeling my heart was not as soft as it once before.  I was still divided and trying to figure how out to get undivided. 

Dream a Little Dream

Two or so years ago, friends described their Mediterranean cruise and a stop in Ephesus in Turkey.  I knew that it wouldn't do to be envious, this kind of trip was out of reach for me and Dennis.  So, I enjoyed their stories and photos, pretty much resigned that it was all I would ever experience.  I thought that if I had desired anywhere to go, that would be it.  Ephesus was actually on my mind a lot. I don't know why.  I figured God had other priorities for me, and travel wasn't one of them. 

Last fall, my sister Fran called and she was retiring from the FAA as an air traffic controller.  Her application to work overseas in northern Iraq as a trainer for controllers was accepted.  I asked her when I could visit her.  She was a little surprised, but said that we can meet somewhere else because she wasn't sure there was anything to really see where she was going.  I mentioned Turkey was next door, we could visit each other in Istanbul. I didn't know where I would get the money, but I suspected that she would get lonely and it would be good to see her. And I knew Istanbul rocked. Visiting missionary friends in Sofia Bulgaria in the 90's, it was brought up we might have to go there for the sake of some complication with their visas.  It was cool with me, but the visa issue got resolved, and I was a little disappointed. 

A few months later, Fran got in touch with me and offered to pay for my expenses to a trip anywhere in the world--the terms of her contract reimbursed travel and were so generous she decided to invite us all in the family--parents, siblings and her kids--to trips anywhere they wanted with her.  She said that her friend at work had a villa in southern Turkey we could stay at and I asked how close it was to Ephesus.  She had never heard of this place, neither, she found out, did any of her ex-pat co-workers who had used the villa in the past. But it was a few hours drive, so it would be a good day trip.

This was actually going to happen.  My mind was blowing for months.  My boss said that my brain was vacationing for weeks before I left.  I had many aspirations for this trip--including people to see, maybe more day trips and more adventures-- my imagination was running away as I thought about all the possibilities. Ephesus became one more stop on the itinerary instead of a cherished dream. 

                                        Turkey rocks.  This is worth getting on a plane for.

Reality Bites

We went to Turkey during the beginning of the tourist season and during the hottest times of the year.  My contacts in Istanbul were falling through (some were in Michigan!), and my sister wisely halted talk of Mt. Ararat and the fairy chimneys and caves of Cappadocia.  She also wisely planned lots of rest and relaxation at the villa with visits to good restaurants and little physical exertion as possible.  I was in jet lag mode worse than I thought.  And a civil war in neighboring Iraq with the help of nearby Syria just began. Fran needed a restful vacation and sunshine. And we were going to be really busy in Istanbul.

The night before our car trip to Ephesus, I was up all night, so excited about the trip, I felt like a kid waiting for Santa Claus. I was wired next morning, and Fran was still tired herself, even though she was ready to drive a 10 hour round trip in an unfamiliar countryside on twisty roads powered by Starbucks Italian Roast Via coffee.  Yeah, it was a longer and twistier trip than we thought after we consulted Google maps.  We postponed it for the next day and relaxed some more.  How could I say no to more time by the pool?  With my SPF 70 sunblock and the big umbrella over my lounge chair. 

 Not a photo of Ephesus I took. I'm still trying to figure out how to download my phone pics. Check out Facebook.  I put nearly everything there.

Poolside Revelation

I soaked (reflected?) up a little sun, fantastic views and re-read Bible passages about Ephesus--and thought about God expanding the church in this very country at the beginning of the apostles ministry.  Things had changed during the Ottoman Empire when it came to power in the 1400's, but for hundreds of years the Christian church multiplied in Turkey.  And the seven lamp stands of the Revelation churches, where are they now?  I was looking at the results firsthand, I thought. Did the church at Ephesus heed the warning?  What would happen to me if I didn't heed the warning?  In the middle of these meditations, Fran was sitting right next to me. 

It was good to be with Fran.  We had not had time like this together since high school, I think.  Since then, I was in some kind of  isolating bubble from my family, and Fran candidly brought that out with our poolside talks.  Another moment of shock and grief to hear this coming so frankly from her, but not terribly surprising. The turning point came very quickly for me with the realization that even if  the trip Ephesus also  fell through, that I wouldn't have been disappointed because I had this precious time with my sister.  Relationships, I decided, were more important than itinerary or adventures.

And that decision was the beginning of the repentance that God was looking for, I believe.  I was in an isolating bubble from not just my family but also friends, church,  and husband and God.  And by God's grace, He delivered the diagnosis of my heart via my sister, Fran.  Fran came away from our trip thinking that I was a really emotional and dramatic person, but actually, she just saw a part of me that I usually kept to myself most of the time.  I'm truly not that weird.  Well, maybe I will be weird more often.

      Another photo I didn't take, but this time a place I didn't go in Ephesus.  This is new, really new--the Terraced Houses, recent excavations.  Wish I saw it.

Ephesus, For Real

Fran is a pretty competent driver and I think the only woman driver we saw for miles until we got half way to Ephesus and saw a young lady with a headscarf  driving alone with just as much assertiveness and fearlessness as Fran.  Most women I saw were sitting on tractors and holding onto the male drivers of motorcycles and scooters throughout the countryside and through the mountain passes.  What Google said would take five hours actually took Fran only three hours.

We decided to forgo tour guides and all, and essentially, go by the guidebook I brought along.  Which meant, we basically didn't know what we were doing.  We parked at the lower gate of the historical site and were approached by a guy who told us that we should take the horse and buggy ride to the top and walk down the main hill.  So we did that, and stopped at a cave of Seven Sleepers for five minutes to take pictures of the crypt.  Creepy crypt.

Despite the maps of the area on signs and in my Lonely planet guide, it was hard to get a grasp of what was what at first.  Ruins are pretty much, ruins.  Changes in the port because of the silting of the harbor and earthquakes contributed to Ephesus' slow decline.  But certain landmarks were unmistakable, and walking down marble paved Curetes Way was breathtaking.  I had several "pinch me, is this real" moments.  Especially when I fell and heard my knee crack loudly behind me.

                       That Curetes road is treacherous. I don't know how the original Ephesians managed, except walking really slow everywhere. 

Jesus Calling

 My tennis shoes were supportive but not helpful as the tread wore out from work and useless on the marble slabs that make up Curetes Way.  I knew it might be slippery but I wasn't watching where I was going because, well, of everything all around me.  I got up and didn't need an ambulance, which was pretty merciful. It hurt to walk and I realized I wasn't going to see everything I wanted to, even though there was no swelling on my knee.  The thunder clouds on the horizon were alarming me, and getting caught in the rain with slippery shoes on smooth marble was tantamount to a personal disaster. Fran coached me along to step on cracks and avoid the slabs, all of a sudden I was looking down instead of looking up around me. Getting hurt meant that I was all about protecting myself and not absorbing the blessing of being in Ephesus. 

And that is, basically, the story of my heart and soul.

In the middle of these worries, I remembered that it was no accident that I was in Ephesus and really, no accident that I fell.  God in His providence and sovereignty, wanted me to hear what He had to say to me. And He ordained everything necessary to get me to hear Him.

So, I started to slow down and to pray that I wouldn't worry anymore about the impending storm and just trust Him.  I prayed for both my sister and myself as well as the tourists all around me, that we would be aware that God was at work in this formerly great city once and He is still at work in the rest of the world including Iraq.  Cities and civilizations and people come and go, but God and His Word lasts forever.  I wasn't going to let pain and then fear rule the day. My mind needed to be in the heavenly and spiritual places and only prayer directs my head there.

  I limped around this, it was awesome and on a hot day, it was a furnace.  Wondered how those Ephesians managed this, too.

The Not So Incredible Shrinking Woman

So, I came away with more awareness of how I respond to pain and how it affects me emotionally, relationally and spiritually, not just physically.  We experience pain everyday, it's a part of life in a fallen world. But it can be used to grow in my faith instead of shrinking and deadening in my soul. And I also came away with a better way to deal with it.

In the Bible, Jesus is my model.   He knew pain throughout daily life as a human being up to His time on the cross.  He understands what and how I feel, I need never to withdraw from Him when I hurt. I can acknowledge it and even express it if possible. It isn't weakness. My strength comes from His promise that we will no longer suffer pain in eternity is the hope I hold on to, but  in my earthly life, pain does not define me.  Instead of shrinking, I am told, I can rise. 

Hebrews 10:38-39

38And, “But my righteousg one will live by faith.And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”h
39But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

 In case you all don't know, this is an Althea blossom.  My Hawaiian name is also "Blossom of the Heart", given to me when I was born by my Hawaiian granny.  How did she know?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Winter Reading

Winter weather is good reading weather, so the season's extra long hold on Michigan has been actually a boon for me.  I don't usually do this, but I'm going to give a kind of list of what I've been reading these long dark days.

The Gift of Prophecy The Gift of Prophecy by Wayne Grudem I've been wondering about the meaning of this spiritual gift, whether it is a miraculous gift no longer "in action" in the church today or one of the gifts that is is still around, like serving and mercy.  The distinction that New Testament prophecy and Old Testament prophecy are different is a new one for me.  Grudem clearly explains why we shouldn't be afraid of prophecy, and how it is actually happening without us even knowing it.  If it wasn't Dr. Grudem explaining it, I would shy away from the subject.  But his reputation as a theologian is pretty sound, so I felt safe exploring a subject that most people avoid or aren't very knowledgeable about.


A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman.  This book is pretty basic and focused on those who are just considering opening their home and figuring out how.  I was reading it in hopes that I have found a book that would encourage a younger woman I am meeting with to develop in this endeavor.  I like how Ehman is clear about what Christian hospitality is and isn't.  She takes the pressure off by sharing that we don't have to have perfect homes, families and lives, but it is about a focus on warmly serving and loving people by making our home theirs. It isn't about impressing others. I was also challenged to consider options I never thought about before--like it doesn't have to be dinner all the time.  A simple snack of popcorn will do.  Or having things available to make children feel at home. The suggestions are creative and simple, and it was fun thinking of ways to apply the possibilities.  Another thing, this is a newer book taking into consideration the use of smart phones and social media.  It feels and reads like a contemporary book, not stuck in the 1980's.  A nice book for a wedding shower gift.

I read two biographies about A.W. Tozer.  When I was a college student, an older woman mentoring me had me read The Knowledge of the Holy.  It was both easy to read and a challenge.  I also read a few of his other books and they also helped think deeply about God and the Christian life than I was used to.  Both The Life of A.W. Tozer by James L. Snyder and A Passion for God by Lyle Dorsett show how complicated a man Tozer was.

He died relatively young, at least in my estimation, and admitted to a fellow pastor that he led a lonely life.  Few came close to him, even this wife, Ada and seven children. I found in these books a warning to me to not shut people out of my life. Tozer had a marriage that was convenient for him, but empty for his wife.  He traveled a lot for his speaking engagements, especially as he became popular through the 1950's.  But those trips made him a stranger to his six sons, who hungered for more time with him.  His family suffered silently, but didn't rebel or complain.  So, no one in the church that Tozer pastored knew their pain. And despite Tozer's negligence, his kids grew up firmly grounded in their faith, mostly due to Ada's parenting and love.  Tozer died relatively young, in his mid-60's, which left Ada free to remarry and have a more loving relationship.

I am now conflicted about most of his books and writings now.  How is it that someone as deep as Tozer miss the mark so badly in his personal life? What does it mean that the biggest lesson I learned from him is not from his books but how not to be with people?   Relationships are a challenge, and it is safer to retreat to superficiality rather than trust God with the scary parts of conflict and forgiveness.  Right now, I am hard on Aiden and rather disappointed that he wasn't the man I had expected him to be.  But then again, it is reassuring that God uses us imperfect, short sighted and wimpy people to serve and lead His kingdom.  But that thought rests uneasily on my heart and makes me restless.  Which means, there's something God wants me to know about myself.

A devotional that has a hold on me is Comforts From Romans by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.  Thirty-two days with 32 meditations from passages from the Book of Romans.  As Fitzpatrick hoped, the devotional created a hunger for more of Romans in me and for deeper biblical conviction about my need for the Gospel.  One example is her thought that "He (Christ) frees us from the incessant nagging of our inner slave driver and frees us to love others without being slavishly driven by them either.  He ruins our pride in our accomplishments, thereby freeing us from the demand that others live up to our expectations."

 Fitzpatrick's books are a sweet consoling but jolting experience at the same time.  Consider this paragraph:  "Does your servant identity rest primarily on the work you hope to accomplish today?  Or does it rest on the service and righteousness of Another? Are you free to love others who do not live up to your standards? Can you say, 'Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling?". can I not think about that all day?

I am in a book club at work and we are currently reading Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.  It was suggested by Hannah, a college student who works mostly weekends.  The book is lyrical, suspenseful, funny and insightful mostly from the point of view of Douglas, a twelve year old boy who lives in a small town in Illinois during the mid-1920's.  He's an imaginative kid sensitive to the natural world around him.

The first chapter is about his reactions to his dad and younger brother while his dad mentors them about picking wild strawberries and fox grapes, Most of the scenes take place outdoors, while he is exploring and discovering with an independent mobility that would shock most parents these days.  He and his buddies are more connected to what really is happening in his hometown than all the adults. As Douglas encounters situations that are frightening, it is his mother who comes to the rescue--and he is acutely aware what a big and intimidating lonely world we live in. He is in awe.

It reminds me of how important it was that I grew up the way that I did--it was risky sometimes, sure.  But it was the way that I learned how things work, without adult supervision and in the company of a pack of kids, some older and some younger. I'm profoundly amazed at how much freedom my parents gave me.  The burdens I shared with them as I learned in cause and effect lessons are miniscule to the secrets I kept from them.  In a world that is rapidly changing, this kind of childhood is extinct.  Our existence lacks the imagination, the wonder and the pleasure that Doug experiences because we are always firmly planted in front of a screen from our phones to our televisions. So, Dandelion Wine is making me look forward to summer and all its attributes, as well as curious as if that beverage really does contain "all these in a glass."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What I Can Remember

It's been about 14 years since I've been to eastern Washington, where the town I regard as home exists.  No one from my family remains there, we've all taken off from the rocky and dusty nest we once inhabited.  It's as though none of us expected to live past high school in Ephrata, Washington.  It didn't feel temporary.  It felt eternal.  And I never think of it or miss it.  The six years I actually lived there, apart from summers while in college, were long enough.

I just remembered it while describing to a friend from China how we passed cars on the two lane  backroads where I grew up.  Memories of checking for oncoming cars, then going to the left and gunning the engine until safely past the slower car and then moving back to the right lane.  I wasn't the most confident driver, but doing a safe lane pass was something I had to do often and learned to do well.  I also learned to look out for oncoming cars in my lane and move onto the shoulder of the road if they miscalculated the time, distance and speed needed to safely pass.  When I think about it, it's amazing I lived long enough to leave Washington.

Along with that memory, more of wide open skies, dry heat and cool evenings came to me.  The smell of sagebrush, grit in my eyes and the sound of the howling wind.  A particular mauve sunset.  A brilliant glorious sunrise. Wet grass from the dew, and long runs on the canal. Irrigation circles. Alfalfa and cow manure. Smells from the onion fields. The view of the patchwork farmland vista from the top of Mount Beezley.  Burrs on my socks while crossing a grassy field.  Trains shaking the house.  Because of the barren landscape, I never took a tree for granted.   We had a lot of unique features of our region I never understood or appreciated while I lived there.  The coulees, the canyons and the scab lands.  The Potholes--not in the road but around Moses Lake.  The alkaline waters. 

It is interesting what I used to find boring and ugly, I started to appreciate as I got older.  When I was sixteen, I was startled on the way to school by beauty of the land and the snow.  It was as though I was blind, and then I was able to see.  The familiarity of desolate places started to be interesting and I saw a majesty in them.  I realized the unspoiled purity of places that were hidden from most people's eyes. I recognized even that the rugged "scab lands" had a depth and power, which would amaze when I thought about how they must have been created by forces unimaginable to me.  It wasn't long after seeing creation had a Creator, that I began to believe in a Savior.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

About Winter

About Winter

I like a cozy home.  Afghans, candlelight, baked apples and hot tea.  Feeling warm while everything outside is frosted.  Shawls, woolen socks, scarves and down comforters.  Roasting vegetables slowly in the oven.  A cup of coffee in a travel tumbler while driving to work.  Oatmeal.  A warm cat purring at my side.  A good book by the blazing fireplace. Cuddling on the sofa with my husband.  Pizza tastes better when it snows. This season has its romance and comforts.

But I grew up in North Dakota, hearing about blizzards, power outages and people dying within a few feet of their back doors during a whiteout.   Hypothermia, slide-offs, frostbite and  dead batteries.  Then, cabin fever.  The flu.  These are the hazards of winter, and I was raised not to take risks when the temperature dips below zero.  The odds are in Winter's favor, not yours.

We put our mittens in the oven before playing outside.  Bread bags in our snow boots.   Mom tied our scarves around our heads so they kept our hoods up over our hats, and our noses covered.  All for a little fresh air for us.  And a little peace in the house for Mom.  Kids get spun up without exercise.  After we came in and stripped all the winter gear off to our normal selves, there was hot chocolate and maybe freshly baked cookies.  We never complained.

But that was when someone else got chains on the tires, paid the heating bills and shoveled the snow.  Stocked the extra candles and knitted the mittens, hats and scarves.  Let the drips of water from the faucet all night so the pipes didn't freeze.  Cleaned snow off windshields. Plugged in the car battery to keep them warm all night since we didn't have a garage to protect our car from the elements.  And worry about carbon monoxide.  And carried me to the door of the school when I was afraid of falling on the ice.

So, I learned to endure the cold from my stoic non-complaining and hard working parents.  When we moved to eastern Washington state, I loved winter.  It could be bad, but never as bad as North Dakota. I didn't need five layers of clothing, just two or three.  There was nothing to whine about--which my parents never listened to, anyway.

But no one appreciated Spring more than we did.  And as it turns out, most of my family lives in California nowadays.  I'm the crazy one in Michigan.  I think I'm going to figure out how to cross country ski.