I’ve known Trevor for several years, but we've seen each other a lot more since he moved to Oregon with his family last summer.  He moved here from Delaware, when his dad accepted a position as a chaplain in a local retirement community. Suffice to say, it can be challenging to move to a new place across the country when you are a 15-year-old boy. I have great respect for his parents’ efforts to raise him up to be a man of God, but even kids with good parents need a little extra support and encouragement sometimes.

What I had to offer was a favorable schedule, a little knowledge of archery, and a new recurve bow with a dozen arrows. The draw weight was only 26 pounds, but with lightweight carbon arrows, it’s fairly fast and lots of fun to shoot. Our goal was for Trevor to compete in an archery competition that was scheduled for Spring Break. I picked up a couple of straw bales, and we were set.

Trevor turned out to be a raw beginner in archery, but that gave him the opportunity to learn good habits from the start. Cock feather pointing away from the bow, one finger above the arrow, two fingers under the arrow, and always anchor in the same spot at the corner of your mouth. To his credit, he listened and learned pretty well. Some arrows hit the bales, and some hit the ground in front, beside, or behind the target, but I could see he was learning the fundamentals. He learned the lesson that, “Hold a little higher” doesn’t mean, “Launch one into the treetops.”

As we got closer to the competition, I made a regulation size target out of cardboard, and we started keeping score. He scored a 46 in his first attempt, then even slipped down to a 37 a few days later. There are 240 points possible in the competition format, but Trevor was shooting in the Instinctive category. Some of the shots are also at 50 yards, so all points were going to be hard-earned. The practice was paying off, however, and as we got closer to the competition, he shot several scores in the 70’s.

On the day of the competition, the weather wasn't exactly ideal as it turned out to be rainy and breezy. Add in the pressure of competition and spectators, and I had no idea what to expect from Trevor. I shouldn’t have worried. He stepped up to the line and started sticking arrows in the target. In the first round alone, he scored 42 points. Then in the second round he picked up 38 more points. He missed the target a few times at the longer ranges, but when he was finished, I started adding and got 100. From a previous best of 76 points in practice, he improved by 24 points! There were a couple other guys with a lot more experience than Trevor who shot much better scores, but the excitement of his third-place medal came from knowing that his score was the result of his hard work on the practice range. The only thing left was a celebratory trip to the 3D course at Kutch Archery to find out what it’s like to go from shooting bulls-eyes to shooting at animals. Still a lot of work to do there!

So I have to stop and wonder about the final result. A third-place medal? Some good memories? A lesson about the rewards of hard work and practice? A message to Trevor that he is important enough to spend time with him? I’m not sure. I know it takes both steel beams for structural support and 2x4’s for interior walls to build a skyscraper. This archery project was surely more like a 2x4 than a huge steel beam in the story of Trevor’s life, but I felt like building with a 2x4 was a lot better than doing nothing while waiting for someone else to come along with steel beams. The results from there are in God’s hands, I guess. Without a doubt, though, I came away with a feeling that God’s hand was on our efforts, and I felt rewarded for the time I put into the project.



Jared's Story


The author with some prized table fare

As I have battled cancer, finances, role-reversal, and flat out sin, the Lord has continued to walk along with me through my journey.  It makes me think back to the poem “Footprints in the Sand.”  The person in the poem learns how the Lord will carry us in the hardest of times.  Through my trials I have seen that the Lord will carry us any time we ask! 

My first bold experience with this I did not recognize until well after it was over.  I was working on a doctor’s home and the Lord began to lead and urge me to talk to this doctor about my brain tumor.  I did not want to bother this man, in his own home, about my medical situation.  I began to argue with the Lord, I already had a team of doctors who were forming a treatment plan.  When I finally gave in to the Lord’s urging and talked to this doctor, a whole new path of possibilities began to lay out in front of me.

The second time I experienced an opportunity, to succumb to the power of the Lord, was at the end of deer hunting season 2010.  My son was 12, and although he had hunted with me through the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, this was his first year to have his own tag.  We went through the entire season without seeing a buck, so we didn’t expect to see anything over the youth weekend.  However, after first light, there was a doe with a nice buck tailing her.  My son made the shot, which was into a deep, dark, hole.  We waited for the fog to roll over before heading down, and in that time the buck had ventured deeper into the hole.  It wasn’t until we got down into the hole that I realized the trouble we were in.  I was not prepared to quarter and pack this animal, and we were not strong enough to carry him.  Add to all this the fact that I was just coming off of a round of chemo, and boy did I feel weak.  We cleaned him out, rigged up a couple of ropes, and went to work.  After 2 or 3 hours of dragging uphill, we had made it only 100-150 yards.  I was weak and exhausted, for the first time in my life I knew I could not make it any farther.  Through much prayer, we marked the brush around the buck, covered him with my shirt, and hiked out.  At this point I was pretty discouraged and I searched for cell service to call friends for help.  As we were driving out, a vehicle full of college kids pulled up.  They had just been out shooting after church.  Then they decided to drive up a road they had never been on, and found us!  They offered to help, and we got that buck right up out of there with what felt like very little effort and energy.  This was a total wake up call for me, as a hunter, father, and Believer.

God has been driving this principal home in my mind and heart for over a year now, our need for Christ in our daily lives.  The Bible tells us to not sin, yet so many of us justify it by saying “We are all sinners, not much we can do.”  This excuse is not sufficient!  1 John 2:1 speaks so much to this, telling us not to sin, yet rely on Jesus when we are tempted. This temptation may be selfishness, rage, purity; the list goes on and on.  In the fall of 2010, I took an online Christian class that encouraged me to rely on Christ Jesus in our daily battles.  Mad at the car in front of you?  Talk to Christ, who is in the seat right next to you.  People at work just not understanding your frustration?  Ask Christ to show you things from their point of view.  I have a personal sin that I have struggled with for years and years, and, by purely relying on Christ, it has not even been a serious temptation in over 12 months.  I had tried to overcome this more than once on my own, and I had always stumbled.  It is so refreshing to see how God can block it out from my life!

The struggles have continued.  Dealing with disability and being the stay at home parent while my wife works hard to provide for the family?  God provides support.  Doctors telling me I would be on chemotherapy for years?  Crazy as it may be, the Lord has lead us through it.  Time spent in the gym, trying to bring my body back around to somewhat health?  When I hit the wall, out of energy, I truly rely on Jesus to carry me forward.  And just recently He unchained my wife from a job she loved, but had grown very weary in and planted her in a much better situation.  If we had not respected God’s wisdom and the goodness he wants for us, she would still be at her previous job getting burnt up.

Does this mean things with God are easy?  Of course not!  But we do experience a much greater and deeper level of peace, strength, and endurance when we are listening and following God daily.  It can be a battle for us to live a holy Godly life but God will reward and bless you abundantly through the process. Do not rely on your strength, your plans, or your power.  It is just not enough.  Accept Christ not only into your heart, but into your daily life!  Don’t allow yourself to be a “Sunday Christian,” this is just a taste of the wonderful glory God has to share with you.  So let us rely on Jesus daily, and let us lift each other up and encourage one another.  As Romans 1:12 says, “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.”

Chance Ottinger during the hunt where God sent help.