Lessons On A Hike

Merry Christmas friends,

I know for many of you today will be hard. I thought instead of talking about someone else’s problem, I would share with you something God taught me this weekend that might be helpful to you as you enter this New Year and New Decade of life.

I’ve always wanted to hike. I walk but it’s not the same as hiking. I did a little bit a few years ago when speaking in Colorado and last year in Tennessee when visiting a friend. I loved it and I know there are great hiking trails here in Arizona, but I just never got around to going.

A new friend of mine invited me on a hike a few weeks ago, and I made the time. It was pretty easy and lots of fun. Last week we went on an early morning sunrise hike. The Arizona sky is one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen, both AM with sunrise and PM with sunset. The colors are spectacular and it’s worth getting up early just to witness it.

But this weekend I went on the hike of my life. I and two women from my Conquer group decided to hike Camelback Mountain. Now if you don’t know anything about this mountain in Scottsdale, AZ you can learn more here.

Camelback Mountain has two sides and both are not for the faint of heart. Honestly, I didn’t know if I could physically or mentally do it. I’m scared of heights. I’m not an athlete. I’m out of shape. I’m not that strong. I’m getting older. 

My son hiked it several years ago and told me it was the hardest physical thing he ever did and he’s strong. The other two women were much younger than I am and I didn’t want to hold them back if I got scared and backed out halfway up. And I didn’t want to freak out in front of them. Yes, I too have a lot of negative stories in my head that limit what I think I can do.  

But I did it. We hiked up the Echo canon trailside and hiked down the Cholla Trailside. At the top, we met Camelback Santa and basked in our newfound strength. A few years back I ran a half marathon, but I had months to train for it. The run was hard but not scary hard like this challenge was. And during the hike, God taught me three profound lessons about life that I’m carrying into this New Year and I’d like to share them with you.   

1. If you were able to see the whole picture of what’s ahead in life you surely would tell yourself you couldn't do it. That’s why God doesn’t show us. Camelback Mountain is one of the hardest hikes. “Most difficult,” the sign says, and they aren't kidding. But I didn’t read that until I got to the bottom. Had I seen how difficult it was, how high, how much rock scrambling would be required, I would have lost my nerve and stayed home. It was scary hard both climbing up and getting down. But I learned to push through my fear and keep going. I learned that my fear doesn’t decide, I do. I learned that my body can do so much more than my mind thinks it can do.  

2. I learned I had to do my own work – climb up and climb down. No one rescued me. No one carried me. But I would not nor could not have done it without the support of my two CONQUER sisters who were with me. Together we were stronger. It was helpful for me to walk behind someone more experienced. I saw where she put her foot and I put my foot there next. I saw how she grabbed hold of the rock to pull up when the climb got steep. Alone I would have given up. With my sisters, I was motivated and inspired to keep going because they kept going. And I accepted the kind hands of a few strangers, especially on the steep way down. No shame in that and it saved my energy when it was teetering on exhaustion.  

Many of you are walking a path you never dreamed you would walk.  Separation, divorce and having to figure out what to do. It’s scary and the support from women who have gone before you is critical. You can watch what steps they took and follow them. Click To Tweet

I will be doing a FB LIVE this Friday, December 27th with my friend and colleague Georgia Shaffer. She will be talking about five steps you need to rebuild your life after divorce. She has walked this path and knows where to put her foot for the next step. If you feel wobbly, weak or just plain terrified, please join us on Friday at 1 PM ET to learn how to take those steps.

3. I learned on that mountain how important it was to stay attuned to my body and the next step. On a hike, you always have to watch your step, your feet, and stay present. You can't think too far ahead of time, just the next step, the next step, the next step. In the past, I have freaked out when I've felt too close to the edge of things. This hike was very edgy. I didn't look over the edge. I didn’t look around or down. I knew that would play with my mental game and rob me of my courage.

Camelback is a high hike, with real cliffs and falling off points if you aren't mindful. This picture is a metaphor for life. If you think too far ahead or look too much all around you, you get scared, intimated, and overwhelmed. Stay present. Watch your feet. Ground yourself in the present moment and take the next step, the next step, and the next step. Sometimes on the way down, I had to slide down the rock on my rear end. My stomach cramped. My legs shook. I had to breathe and take the next step. But I got up the mountain, and I got down the mountain and had no bruises. Sore muscles for sure, but I made it, and the two other CONQUER sisters made it too.

Hiking Camelback was an amazing life lesson. Three women – all different ages, at different places in our life journey, taking a hike together and we all helped each other get through it. Whatever journey this New Year and New Decade have for you, practice these three lessons and you will get through it stronger and more resilient than before.

Friends, what lessons is God teaching you about life, getting to and through the next step of your journey?


  1. V on December 25, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    God bless you Leslie. You are an amazing inspiration and speak such truth and loving guidance. You are going to be known as St. Leslie ! Such a beautiful gift you give of yourself in your ministry!

  2. Barbara B on December 25, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    Awesome story! Great job, ladies!

    God keeps telling me, “Just keep moving.” I don’t think He means that I’m never supposed to stop and rest. I think He’s telling me don’t give up; don’t curl up in a ball and quit on life. I think the hiking analogy is so good. If you just keep moving, you will eventually get to the end. It doesn’t have to look pretty, either. The main thing like Leslie said is keep taking one more step.

    • Janice D on December 26, 2019 at 6:50 am

      Yes,Yes,Yes! “ An object in motion tends to stay in motion…” Moving forward no matter how slowly is key to our growth,I believe.As we depend on our loving Heavenly Father,He will gently direct our paths.Having just experienced my second Christmas post separation,I can see God’s gracious hand providing for me each step of the way.I never wanted or expected to be on my own at 65 while my husband is alive and yet I am trusting the Lord.I have received numerous confirmations that my decision to leave was for my safety and sanity and I am honoring the Lord when I model healthy self care. As much as I love my son,I would fully support my daughter in law in leaving if she was living in my circumstances.I want to encourage them in their relationship without idolizing their marriage above truth telling. It is sad when a person rejects truth,yet God in his great love for us,allows each of us that choice.It is only as we,by the power of the Holy Spirit,embrace Truth( Jesus),that we are indeed released from bondage and set free.I continue to pray for my husband as he continues to make his family of origin his highest priority.God is healing me and restoring my dignity as His precious daughter.One of my favorite sayings that is in my apartment ( I have scripture and inspirational decor all over to help me remember Gods truth!) is “ He calls me his own”. Whenever I look at that I smile.A very Happy New Year to all the brave sisters( and a few brothers) here on this life giving and truth telling blog site.May 2020 be another year of growth and movement as we indeed continue to walk and speak the truth in love!

      • JoAnn on December 26, 2019 at 10:39 am

        Janis D, your experience is such an inspiration. May the Lord continue to supply and guide you and all the others who follow this blog. One step at a time, and the grace is there. Have a blessed new year.

        • Free on January 1, 2020 at 1:10 am

          Yes, JoAnn, yet surprisingly non Christian friends can also give a good reality check. Sometimes are immediate peer group is drinking the same “coolaide” of false teaching and don’t sound the alarms they should when we disclose abuse. So, I say, give it a try, talk to a non Christian, and let there shock and quick response be a wake up call.

          When I needed it help it was my local domestic violence shelter that helped me. They gave be practical and physical protection. My Christian community said our problem was too dangerous for the church to be involved and that their insurance could not have my husband on campus. Yet, it was fine for me to go home and sleep with him more to fix things. Ha.

          2020 now, with 20/20 insight! Feels great. The Lord is close to the broken hearted and comfort’s the soul!

          • JoAnn on January 2, 2020 at 2:01 pm

            Free, I’m so glad that now your are really enjoying your freedom. Isn’t it sad that there is even a need for domestic violence shelters? Of course, dv is not new; it’s even in the Bible. But I am thankful that there is help available in most communities.
            Have a blessed new year.

  3. Jenny on December 27, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you, Leslie for your example and encouragement to us! You continually bless me. May God bless you and give you strength as you serve Him !

  4. Free on December 31, 2019 at 12:28 am

    One of the things I have learned on this journey is the power of denial. Initially it protects us from the horror of our destructive relationships. It is helpful for survival. Yet, what I have learned in that denial can linger and linger.

    Yes, it is as bad as you say, in fact much worse than anyone can comprehend to live in a destructive relationship. Years out and free from abuse, unless you do your work, the damage of denial persists. It is like when the prisoners were free after the Nazis left, but they didn’t leave the death camps. They didn’t believe they were free. They had a victim mindset, the trauma had frozen them and altered their mind.

    We too, the abused, have had our mind altered. That is not to be minimized. To answer the question, one can not get to or thru anything until they get out of denial. At some point, the seriousness of the situation and the probability of a very bleak future needs to shake us up and motivate us to action.

    Make 2020 a year of living in reality, institute consequences and take wise and informed action! There is not time to waste. Your life has value and so do you.

    • JoAnn on January 1, 2020 at 12:35 am

      One thing that definitely helps us get past denial is a validating word from someone else; maybe someone else who has been in a similar situation or a therapist. The sharing we do here on this site is helpful, and like Nancy says below, being a part of a healthy circle of supportive christian friends. In this new year, may we all move forward with the Lord and with each other.

  5. Nancy on December 31, 2019 at 4:39 am

    The Lord is impressing on my heart that the Christian walk is not individual. There is a place for individual work, but don’t listen to the lie that that is the only place healing happens. We are healed as we enter into healthy relationships with believing brothers and sisters. Entering into these relationships is an act of faith. Scary but as with any other part of our faith walk- when we trust Him, He does infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

  6. vi on January 7, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Congratulations! your picture says it all–what Success, what JOY. 🙂

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