Monday, December 14, 2009

Déjà Vu

The names are different, but the agony is the same. Instead of Kelly, Brian and Nikko, the names are Katie, Luke and Anthony. One body recovered, two experienced climbers missing (as of 14 December 2009). The search & rescue effort is hampered by extreme weather conditions. The somber sheriff is surrounded with microphones from reporters and family members try to hold themselves together while their hearts are stuck in their throats. Three flawed followers of Jesus are lost on Mount Hood in a cold December. This tragedy is the last thing I wanted as I prepare myself to enter into the mouth of mourning for the third time.

All year, every day, my wounded heart bleeds with grief. The bleeding ebbs and flows but never stops entirely. I hide my wound behind my work and ministry and manage to do what I am supposed to. There even have been a few moments of joy in the last three years. When our large boisterous and fractious family gathers, there is always a subterranean consciousness that someone is missing. And now Mt. Hood is threatening to do the same to others.

What can I say to the families who are this very moment huddled together, grasping for every encouraging report, weary from sleepless nights and long days, fiercely holding out hope?

I have no magic wand or pious platitudes that will make it all go away. It is already too late for Luke’s family. But for the loved ones of Luke, Katie and Anthony, I can only say, you are not alone. Somehow God is present in the storm—for the climbers and their anxious families. That does not remove the fear, the anxiety and the struggle; it does remind us that God is there when we reach out into the darkness. It is no doubt foolish to think I might have anything helpful to say to the remaining families because they are so vulnerable just now—but perhaps they will listen because it comes from a broken heart. David reminds us all in Psalm 46 that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” David does not promise that our loved ones will be rescued from the mountain. Nikko, Brian, Kelly and now Luke, were not rescued. David does not promise there will be no trouble or any heartache in this life. He only promises that God is with us in the trouble.

I don’t exactly know what this will mean for each one. For me, it has meant that I can shout out loud my frustrations and even say things I don’t really mean; I can weep quietly in my bed in the middle of the night; I can look up into the sky, stretch out my arms and ask why? In all of this anguish, God was present even when I felt alone. I don’t understand this paradox: how I can feel so alone and yet sense in my bones that God is near? David describes much the same experience in Psalm 10. David cries out in verse 1: “Why, O Lord do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” But then David declares unequivocally in verse 17: “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.” It is a mystery—somehow both are true at the same time.

Mount Hood is a monster—a beautiful monster, but a monster none the less. Like the ancient sirens that seduced sailors in Greek mythology, Mt. Hood lures adventurers to its magnificent slopes and then freezes their lives away. God is not a monster. He is a mystery that pulls me toward Him even as I squirm and resist. And He is there in the dark places when I feel most alone.

On Thursday, 17 December (the day the rescuers found Kelly), I will go through my annual ritual of smoking a cigar, drinking a glass of wine while listening to foot-stomping honky-tonk music. I will shout out loud and says things I don’t really mean. I will lift my empty hands to the dark sky and ask why. And I will remember Luke, Katie and Anthony along with Nikko, Brian and my dear outrageous irrepressible brother—Jeffrey Kelly James.

Rock on little brother.



Jeedoo said...

Thanks, Frank. I knew you sharing in their grief and bringing them to God.

Anonymous said...

I lost my youngest brother 10 years ago this august. I will always miss him but the pain does dull with time... Take care..

Yankee Woman said...

been thinking of you as this story unfolds. miss you!

Anonymous said...

As a friend of Luke's, as a person searching the internet for updates on the two still out there, as a sister in Christ - I want to say thank you for sharing this. I know it was not by coincidence that I stumbled across this post. Beautifully written, a reminder that we are not alone in this grief and an encouragement of hope in our Lord Jesus. It sounds like perhaps your brother and Luke may very well be enjoying scaling God's most majestic masterpieces together. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I too, am a follower of Jesus. And went to college with Katie. I find it difficult to grasp that she is out there. On the mountain. But I know God is there with her, as He is here with me. Or, perhaps, she is with Him in heaven. I hope and pray for their safe return. I am not ready to accept anything else at this point. But I know His will is higher than mine and His love surrounds Katie and Anthony - wherever they are.

Mom Con said...

Dear Frank,
I lost my beautiful son to Mt Hood on December 27th, 2007.
You are eloquent in your description of the pain that winds in and out of the days and nights... and turns into cigar smoking "anniversaries". Yes, I do believe our loved ones are in heaven. I also believe that by us meeting each other, here on earth, love wins. I think, as we communicate...hugs are shared by Eric and Jeffrey and Nikko and Brian and Luke. I know that my boy - God's chosen - Eric Henry McConeghy - was born into eternal life. I know that God will never abandon us, but this morning when I heard about "the kids" I felt the "monsters' grip". I fell to my knees and prayed for them and their loved ones...I will include you in my constant reaching out to the omnipotent. It is all that works and it is all I have to give. Always, Mom Con!

Anonymous said...

As a friend of Luke, I truly appreciate your words and share in your heartache. God Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you... katie is one of my closest friends.. your words bring great comfort. for anyone on facebook... friends of kt's are posting updates on my facebook page. I have lowered the privacy settings so it is visible even if you do not know me on facebook. send a friend request to amy castro baker on facebook, and we will add you.

Anonymous said...

You wrote about God being present in the storm, and quoted Ps. 46 that he is a very present help IN trouble. I've been reading in Daniel lately, and this reminds me of the fiery furnace. The angel/heavenly being was not there to yank the three men out of the fire, but perhaps as evidence of God's presence, care, and working in their lives, no matter the outcome. May you and the families of these three be likewise seeing signs of God's presence and care.

A. Lucas said...

Finding this was truly a blessing. Thank you so much for sharing this! My nephew Anthony and his beautiful friend Katie are still on that mountain tonite. You know all too well the agony our families are going through. We are so grateful for the countless prayers that are going out on Anthony and Katie's behalf, for our families, and for Luke's family. Our faith is strong, and we are reminded constantly of God's grace and His presence as we continue to wait, and hope, and pray. Thank you again!

D. Kandt said...

Your eloquent post made me cry -- yet it is so full of faith and hope, I smile despite the tears pooling in my eyes. "That does not remove the fear, the anxiety and the struggle; it does remind us that God is there when we reach out into the darkness."

Thank you for your testimony to God's faithfulness, even in the darkest of hours.

Anonymous said...

Brad & Kelly are celebrating together.. God is very near.. t

Anonymous said...

Prayer: doing nothing thinking you're helping...

God is the Universe, the primordial indifferent Universe...thinking God is a Being that will protect and rescue you is inane.

Remember the last group of Jesus followers who were so sure the wreckless climbers would be rescued? Frozen disappointment.

It's sad to see how believers do things that get themselves in a life or death situation. A situation a rational person would not even consider..

Anonymous said...

In response to the last comment: No one ever said these Jesus followers got themselves into a life or death situation BECAUSE of their faith in God. Nor do they believe God has promised to rescue and deliver Katie and Anthony safely. What He HAS promised is to be with them. Whether in life or in death. He has also promised that His way is perfect. Even when we don't understand. If Katie and Anthony loose their lives here on earth (as we all will someday), they will be in a perfect home with God forever. They chose to climb because they enjoyed it. They knew they had as much risk as anyone else whether you believe in God or not. We all take risks every day. You can do it with God or without Him. I'd rather do it with Him. You can make your own choice, but don't make accusations that aren't true.

Anonymous said...

I am spending the day in prayer (along with my 4 year old son). We have the pictures of Katie and Anthony on our computer. They are not alone and those of us who grieve previous losses are not alone. God is on His throne in good times and in bad times.

Lark said...

My first thought when I heard about this new situation was you guys and how this must aggrevate your pain. I am praying for all of your families and all of these new families also. God be with us all as we go through this life. Lord haste the day!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your loving willingness to share from the deepest recesses of your heart and soul. I have been praying for these three wonderful people since I heard of the unfolding tragedy. I thank God that they are believers and that regardless of the circumstances that God is with them -- in every step and heartbeat and there when they cross over to spend eternity with Him whether that is now or 50 years from now. I will continue to pray for them and their families and you and your families. I lost my beautiful niece last year in a senseless act that robbed us of her presence in our lives. But He of course has been the anchor that always holds and as your said, has been present with us as we walk through this fog of loss and grief. I am not sure she knew the Lord and this only adds to my grief. Knowing that your family member knows Christ is a such a comfort. Thank you again and God bless you.

Anonymous said...

God wants us to share who he is with others, through our transformation in Jesus Christ playing out in our own lives. Kelly, Luke, Anthony and Katie have all done this.

But God’s plan for us doesn't stop at the end of our physical lives.

We know that our friends and loved ones who share with us the personal relationship we have with God, by the gift we choose to receive from Jesus, through His death, burial, and resurrection are still alive in heaven. But even upon facing physical death the LORD can still continue working through us.

You can see proof of this for yourself in a story written by KGW channel 8 after the 2006 Mt. Hood accident involving Kelly, Brian, and Nikko.

What a wonderful testimony of Kelly and his family’s faithfulness. I now am witnessing Luke’s family sharing the same.

I know Katie and Anthony may leave behind a similar witness, but I'm still praying for a miracle that can only come from God Himself, but God’s will be done. I am confident these two, and Luke also, have already set in motion the sharing of their own influential testimonies that God will use no matter what His plan. is.

4everblessed said...

I love being a part of God's family of believers. Those who aren't can't possibly understand how it is that we can have faith in God, even as we are down on our knees crying out in anguish. I have been there and the Lord brought me through it, not unscathed, but still standing firm in my faith in Him. Thank you for sharing some of the most beautiful, inspiring words that I have heard in a long time. May God's peace and His presence be with all of the families involved.

Katie James said...

Amy Castro,

I looked for you on Facebook and couldnt find you. I need more info. You can find me on FB by Katie Lynne James. I have been keeping up with this and I am the Daughter of Kelly James who was killed on Hood 2006. I am so sad today for all who are involved with this tragedy. I want to be in touch with the family or at least send them a message from my family and the group who was with us. I tried calling the sheriffs station yesterday and left a voicemail.

Whoever wrote the message on the 15th at 12:03, You are irrational and I would like to know more about who you are and what you do in your life. Must be a sad story. I know I will regret these comments but right now I am so bothered by your comments and lack of respect. If you had the chance to know these people I bet you would bite your tongue. You're right though someone like you could never relate to the incredible character they all share.

Uncle Frank, What can we do to get you to Dallas so we can all be together drinking wine and smoking cigars listening to the Stones and Beatles and all the other great music during this sad time. Nanu will be here this week?

We will not stop thinking about the families and friends of these climbers during this time. I wish there was more I could do or say to make the situation better however I think you did a great job Uncle Frank so well leave it at that.

Our thought and prayers go out,
Katie James

Anonymous said...

From one christian climber to another, i thank you and pry with you. i know the taste of death in the mountains myself, and know your words are correct, God is in this somewhere. thank you for living your grief out loud so others may learn.

ford said...

I hope the Lord brings the 2 remaining climbers to safety. God watch over their families and help them stay strong during the whole ordeal. Our family is thinking about you non-stop and praying for the best.

We understand that God has the power to do whatever He wants and even though we pray and hope for the best, ultimately the Lord has plans of His own. We just hope his plans align with ours sometimes. I am hoping this is true in the situation of the last 2 climbers. God Bless both of you and as I told my dad the last time I talked to him "Stay Strong".

Even though the Lord took my dad, which was devastating to me, I was encouraged and happy to see that He used my dad in such a powerful way. What an honor. Isn't this the reason we are here on Glorify our Father in Heaven? I want to encourage the families and friends, no matter the outcome, to see how the Lord is using their loved ones to Glorify His name to thousands and probably millions. What an honor.

To the family of Luke: I am so sorry for your loss. I hope the best for all of you.

Ford James

Anonymous said...

1 Peter 1:3-9
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

There are believers praying for you in San Francisco! Thank you for sharing your faith amidst your pain.

K. Lucas said...

Thanks to every one that is praying. You know most people exist but these people from three years ago and my cousin Anthony, Katie, and Luke, they all LIVED. Again I want to say thank you and PLEASE don't stop praying that they are found.

Anonymous said...

Dear Frank,
It has been two days shy of three years that your family realized the loss of your treasured brother and his friends. Please know that as the searchers searched the mountain, the prayers prayed in the valleys of Mt. Hood. Countless of us waited with held breath to hope against hope that they would be found alive, and our hearts broke in the realization that this would not be the case. It has been three years but your brother and his friends are not forgotten by the people here. And now, as Luke's family rejoices in his arrival in heaven yet deeply mourns his departing here, and as Katie and Anthony's families hope against hope that they'll be found safe, we come alongside them and your families still so that you know that you are not alone. Grief is such a far-reaching, complex clutter of emotions, all tangled up at times. Perhaps there are not answers to the questions of, "Why?" for now. As you wait for the day of answers, know that your family's precious grace in the face of immeasurable tragedy left countless seeds scattered far and wide across the vallies in the shadow of Mt. Hood. I am so sorry for your loss and everytime I see the mountain, I will not cease to pray that the despairing hole that has been left in your heart from your brother's loss will be filled by Jesus Himself. We will be praying for you, for Kelly's wife and kids and friends' families, as well as Luke's now, as we pray for the hopeful safe return of Katie and Anthony. May Jesus meet you and comfort you in your grief.
Sincerely, alm

Anonymous said...

To the one discordant note in this beautiful harmony of love posts: Sir/Madam They say ignorance is bliss but in your case I would say that your ignorance(: the state or fact of being ignorant : lack of knowledge, education, or awareness) is tragic. What you ignore is the power of prayer, which you can only come to know through practice. Believers do not BLINDLY believe in prayer, they believe because they have experienced its power in their lives and the lives of others through practice and experience. If you have not experienced the power of prayer then you are "ignorant" about it.
You write: "Remember the last group of Jesus followers who were so sure the wreckless climbers would be rescued? Frozen disappointment." I HAVE TO assume that you are ignorant of the fact that this blog belongs to the brother and is read by the children of one of those climbers. Because the other alternative would be to believe that you are extremely hateful to post such a comment here. Lastly, Sir or Madam, I would ask you to take a long look at what you posted and ponder it. It is so full of hate for "believers", whereas all of the other posts here from believers are so positive and loving. So I would ask you to look inside yourself and ask yourself: why are you so full of hate? My guess is that the answer is that it's because you are ignorant of the existence of a loving God who loves and cares for you, and are jealous of the peace that that knowledge gives to us "believers" as you call us. Tonie

Anonymous said...

In 1976, Randy Knapp survived on Mt Hood for 13 days before being rescued! There is STILL HOPE!! KEEP PRAYING. We don't know God's will in this, but we DO know HE is able.

Anonymous said...

As a friend of Katie's I just want to say thank you for your transparency and kind words. May God give you and your family palpable comfort during this time of year.

Anonymous said...

In December of 2004 my oldest sister was killed in an accident. December has become for me and my family a month of pain and anguish twisted with the hope that Advent and the celebration of Christ's coming brings. Thank you for your words and for your honest assessment of what grief is - even for a Christian.

I hadn't heard the names of the hikers until yesterday, when I realized that I knew one of them. I used to work at a Bible camp with Anthony and his two brothers here in Oregon. I didn't know him well, but I knew he was crazy on the drums, he loved the outdoors, and he loved God.

Last week my family recognized the fifth anniversary of my sister's death. Blessings on your family tomorrow. I pray that two more families will not be joining us in December anniversaries.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all for your support in this tragedy. We are updating on the current hood situation at

Anonymous said...

4 years ago i lost my only sibling/brother to hypothermia after being missing in the mountains of Montana for 36+ hours. (I lost 2 other siblings as a young child.) I really appreciated Frank's description of the pain of grief and the journey those of us who have lost find ourselves on. I have found God to be my Rock, my Deliverer and He reached down and brought me out of a dark lonely place....and set me in a spacious place . Psalm 18 became my psalm and i have lived in the Psalms for the past 4 years. My prayer is that you will continue to find His strength as you journey. My prayer is the same for Katie and the other's families. My son was Katie's pastor in Philly - I have met her. My heart grieves for my son, his church and her family.
thank you for sharing your honest journey . Carol Hiestand

Anonymous said...

The mountain is no monster. The climbers were foolhardy and reckless to hike in December, and your god was characteristically deaf to their cries for help. Please spare us the fake sentimentality.

Anonymous said...

Father, I cannot think of a better thing than to pray that You would come boldly into the lives of the two people here who are so obviously filled with hatred, unkindness, and evil. I pray that You would intercede and reveal Yourself to them in a way that totally revolutionizes their world. Break them if You have to, open their eyes to the incredible lack of decency and basic respect that they are exhibiting to the families so tender from grief. Forgive them, Father, they know not what they are doing. I pray for their silence. Place Your hand of protection between them and the families. What man means for evil, You can use for good. I pray that You would not cease to pursue them and that they would not be able to deny Your love for them in spite of themselves. Use their folly unto their own salvation in spite of their current intention for harm. Lord, I love that You desire to be present in our lives, to weave into the most desperate of situations hope, love, and grace. I pray comfort tonight for those who are mourning. Send Your comforter to come alongside and be present. Oh Lord, we don't understand. Please, please may the reality of peace that passes understanding inhabit the questions of "Why?" Lord, comfort Frank and the climbers' families in a way that only You know how. Thank you that You have borne our grief and carried our sorrows, that You know and can identify with the suffering of these families as they mourn. Be present in the details and darkness, Lord. Please. Amen.

ThirstyJon said...

I have friends that know one of the climbers that is out there right now. I cannot imagine what it is like.

Thank you for your thoughts and may God comfort you in this season, as well as the folks who are suffering newly this year.

Heather said...

Don't let the angry comments upset you. God told us that the gospel is foolishness to those who don't believe. They speak from a place apart from God, how can they understand? But we hold to the truth and trust a God who NEVER turns a deaf ear. Like a parent with a hurting child, He comforts us even as He tells us we can't have what we want. There is a bigger picture here. One that we see like looking through a glass darkly, as Paul said. But one day we will see "face to face." In the meantime, we trust in a God who is Love.

Anonymous said...

I always follow the climbers' stories, they're an amazing breed of people. God is with you in your sorrow, as well as your triumph.

Anonymous said...

I am just now sitting in the dark, smoking a cigar and sipping a glass of vino. The country music Kelly and I shared is tickling my ears and evoking bitter sweet memories. As I thought about Kelly I re-read the comments on the blog. I am most grateful for the heatfelt words of so many kindred spirits.

I am also glad for the responses of a couple of folks who offerred a strong dose of criticism but actually raised the really important issues this blog was intended to address. The brutal honesty they bring to the blog is actually helpful. We follwers of Jesus have no need to be defensive in the face of serious direct questions. We believe in honesty and are willing to engage in respectful discourse.

I would argue that the big pressing question is not whether God existes, but whether He is goood? It seems to me that is the more powerful and poignant question. And if He is good, why does he remain silent when His chilren suffer? Amazingly, the Bible does not avoid this question. Indeed David directly poses precisely this question throughout the Psalms--10 and 13 come to mind. Perhaps even more astonishing is that God made these Psalms part of the worship of His people year after year for a millennia. I think God intends his peopls to walk into these hard places. So, it seems to me thoe who would say that God is "characteristically silent" are asking a fair question.

I am a follower of Jesus, but I am also quite perplexed and confused at the ways of God. What I find remarkable is that these hard questions have only driven me to Jesus not away from Him. I am not sure this is entirely rational. But something, I think it is the Holy Spirit, keeps pulling me toward God, even as I struggle to understand Him. I suspect many Christians are aqquainted with this strange and powerfrul work of God. He somehow transcends our rationalism, and draws us toward Him.

I would be interested in how my blog detractors would resoond to this. I don't think it can be called "fake sentimentality." Please feel free to weigh in this.


mella's messages said...

as others have mentioned, i stumbled across this page when looking for more information on the climbers. I am a believer as well, and trust in the almighty power of God. I believe He is able to do far more than we can ever ask or think. i believe in praying that His will be done. I don't know what God's plan is regarding Anthony and Katie, but I know that He must have thought it was time to take Luke home to be with Himself. I know God to work in impossible situations. I want all the family and friends and relatives to know that you are in my prayers. If I was close by, I would give you a hug, and try to ease the pain, but I know the best relief can only come from the arms of God, as He Himself surrounds you with the power of His love.
I heard of the three climbers on the news from the state of WI where I live, and later found out that I work with someone who is a close friend of all three of these. that made it seem to become more personal to me real fast. I will continue to follow the story, and remain in prayer for all those involved.
To the person above that last commented, I agree that some of God's ways are confusing and perplexing! And also, that yes it is true that to one seeking Him, he draws us nearer in situations like this. He shows that He is closer than ever before in our hour of need. God's word says that no man can come to Christ, unless the Father, who has sent Christ, draws him. It is God Himself that draws you to Himself! He wants fellowship with His children. He wants you to know that there is never a moment when you are out of His eyesight. His hearing is always perfect-so He will always hear you when you cry.
God loves you-He really loves you.

Anonymous said...

It's December heart and prayers go out to you FAJ, Katie James, and the families of Luke, Katie and Anthony. I will carry those prayers and dreams with me as I continue to climb. You are an inspiration. May you rest in peace in the loving arms of Jesus Christ...Amen.

lilmorse said...

I think it's the unanswerable question. Why does He allow us to suffer's an easy in for unbelievers, that's where they always get us. All I know is He is God, I am not. I'll have all of those answers when I get to the other side. For now, we must decide, despite suffering, to believe or not. That is a gift He gives us, we'd be no better off if He created us as believers, instead he created us with the ability to choose. I'm still praying for those two climbers on the mountain. I'm not ready to let them go yet.

natahle said...

I lost my brother 12 years ago and still miss him every day... the pain and hurt never goes away, but it does get easier to take a breath without remembering the pain and hurt as the days, months, and years go by... my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as well as the families of the climbers of the recent Mt. Hood tragedy. I'll hug you in my heart on December 17th every year, you can keep me in your prayers on October 16th every year.

mella's messages said...

i want to add another note, in agreement with the post from today at 8:27am. i too am still praying for good news from Mt.Hood. God loves to show up when all of man's hope is gone, and all of His wisdom has been exhausted. He wants people to see that He is real, and He is God, and not a man.
I would say also, that I am glad that God has created us with a free will to choose or not to choose Him. He wants people to WILL to love Him and follow Him, not a bunch of robots.
Again-still praying. praying for closure in this situation, and only God knows what that will mean.

casey pons said...

I just wanted to express both my sincere condolences to you as well my appreciation for your heartfelt words of encouragement to the current families and friends of the other climbers who Mt. Hood feels so strongly towards she has chosen to keep them close to her breast and inner most soul.
I also wanted to leave you a link to a beautiful video by a beautiful person which I hope you find some comfort after these days of reflection.

Peace & Skateable River's
Casey Pons
Portland, OR

PS Rock on little sister...

Anonymous said...

From CRM:
Remembering with you, FAJ and CCJ. And praying for you today. Missing you both and appreciating your vulnerability. Many at rtso remembered your heartbreak when they heard the news of the other climbers. Keep writing and sharing! Rock on, brother and sister!

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to the families of the climbers who were lost on Mount Hood. I can't imagine the anguish, fear and despair that they must feel at this terrible time, and my prayers are with them. I also want to say that I do not think that the mountain is a monster... it is a great and beautiful expression of God's creativity and part of His masterpiece of Creation. Even though it can be dangerous and deadly, especially at this time of year, it reflects the glory of its Creator and the majesty of His Great Work. Please do not demonize Mount Hood for the tragedies that occur there. Surely climbers who believe in God see Him in its beauty and are drawn to it because of that. The mountain is a silent witness to the joy and sorrow of the men and women who love it, climb it, and experience exhilaration and joy or injury and death on its slopes. It is not a luring monster.

Todd said...

I am so sorry for your loss and my heart goes out to you, and from sharing your thoughts I feel you are indeed a very strong person.

I am not what you would call a Christian, and I have many doubts about me joining any particular religion. But from reading the many comments on God and love, and the support you provide in a time of pain, I just want to say I sincerely respect what you believe, and it is beautiful to hear what you all have to say (minus the negative comments). I wish more people were like you. From a friend of the mountains

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure anyone reads this anymore, but I need a voice right now. I am Anthony's Mom. Our beloved son is living more now than when he walked the earth, he is climbing mtns again, just in heaven, he is ministering to his Lord and Savior, just in heaven. Heaven is a REAL place. Our hearts still ache and will with every breath for the rest of our lives. But it's our loss, and Anthony's gain. And the Lords' gain, He can enjoy Anthony, Katie and Luke and their lively enthusiasm for life forever more. We'll be together again, and I just can't wait!!! Love you so very much son! M

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure anyone reads this anymore, but I need a voice right now. I am Anthony's Mom. Our beloved son is living more now than when he walked the earth, he is climbing mtns again, just in heaven, he is ministering to his Lord and Savior, just in heaven. Heaven is a REAL place. Our hearts still ache and will with every breath for the rest of our lives. But it's our loss, and Anthony's gain. And the Lords' gain, He can enjoy Anthony, Katie and Luke and their lively enthusiasm for life forever more. We'll be together again, and I just can't wait!!! Love you so very much son! M

Cheryl said...

Anthony's dear Mom,

I just happened upon this blog, and was very pleased to see you here... It was put on my heart today, to do some more searching in regards to Anthony, Luke and Katie. I do not know them, but have been touched by their story, as so many have. I am a volunteer SAR in NM, and also a Chaplain for my small mountain community, as well as a mountaineer and climber.

In mid december my spouse and I were praying about how we could help, when he was turned on to a book called "Sometimes Mountains Move", by Everett Koop, about the families' loss of their son in a climbing accident, and their faith in God that saw them through.

In a chain of miraculous events, copies of this book which was out of print, was offered to Lance by Koop's son. I attempted to contact the Chaplain there to see if he could forward them to you, but am sure he was burdoned with so much at the time. Things are in God's time-line, not our own, so, I had waited until today to try again, and though have had a difficult time finding the Chaplain's information, found this blog and your posting. We have three copies and would love to get one to you, as well as the family of Luke and Katie.

Please contact me, at and I will give you my other contact information, so you can verify who I am. It is my word that we would respect your privacy. We in no way, are looking for anything in return, except to pass this beautiful book on, which we feel
was placed in our hands to share God's love and pray that it may help the healing process.

You, your son Anthony, your family, as well as those of Luke and Katie, are lifted up in our prayers still.

With love in Christ,
Cheryl Ridlon

Anonymous said...

Dear Anthony's Mom,
Katie was one of my dearest friends. I miss her so much, sometimes I feel like I cannot stand it. That being said, what you wrote is so beautiful and true. I take so much comfort and joy in the three of them enjoying Jesus and being whole. The day they called off the search, my 5 yr old said to me,"mom don't cry, I know you are sad, but Katie is the happiest she has ever been because she is with Jesus." I am praying for your family, by all accounts your son was a remarkable man.
Much Love,
Amy Castro Baker

Anonymous said...

To FAJ regarding your question:
I lost my only brother to a drunk driver. By the Grace of the Holy Spirit, after the shock, and reality had begun to set in, the first words I said to my mother were: we ought to go to a church, kneel and thank God. She thought the grief had made me go bonkers and looked at me incredulously. I continued: how many of your friends are so close to God, go to church daily and pray unceasingly and yet they all wished their sons were like Doug. Doug was such a special soul and we were so blessed to have him as a son and brother when people much more deserving than us have such miserable children. Doug was the greatest blessing in our lives, given freely by God, and we ought to go and give Him thanks for the time we had with him. She agreed.
Of course this doesn't mean I haven't cried rivers over our loss. But some things have helped my understanding. One of those things is a beautiful little book called "Without Thorns, It's Not A Rose." There's an answer for you already just with the title. And inside the book, one of the stories talks about the eastern view of suffering. Someone explains that to them suffering is like boiling water and people who go through suffering are either eggs or potatoes. People who go through suffering (boiling water) come out of the suffering (boiling water) either hardened like the egg, or softened like the potato. I was blessed to come out like the potato, as were you. It has made me much more patient and compassionate and like you, brought me much closer to my Creator. Suffering is for sure an agent for change. It is also a beckoning from God to focus more on Him and others and the truly important things in life. It (suffering) is an awakening,if you will; shock treatment for the my humble opinion. Many other things have helped and I will leave you with one more:
God's Lent Child - Unknown
"I'll lend you for a little while
A child of mine" God said -
For you to love the while he lives
and mourn for when he's dead.
It may be six or seven years
or forty two or three
but will you, till I call him back,
take care of him for me?

He'll bring his charms to gladden you
and, should his stay be brief,
you'll have his nicest memories
as solace for his grief.
I cannot promise he will stay,
since all from earth return
but, there are lessons taught below,
I want this child to learn.

I've looked the whole world over,
in my search for teachers true,
and from the things that crowd life's lane
I have chosen you.
Now will you give him all your love,
nor think the labour vain,
nor hate me when I come to take
this lent child back again?

I fancied that I heard them say,
"Dear Lord Thy Will Be Done"
for all the joys thy child will bring
the risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness,
we'll love him while we may,
and for the happiness we've known
forever grateful stay.
But, should thy Angels call for him
much sooner than we planned,
we'll brave the grief that comes
and try to understand.

dmichaels said...

God said "No".

Faith can move mountains, but not get you off them.

dmichaels said...

Anonymous said...

"In 1976, Randy Knapp survived on Mt Hood for 13 days before being rescued! There is STILL HOPE!! KEEP PRAYING. We don't know God's will in this, but we DO know HE is able."

After reading so many of the comments I noticed that early on, the hope and prayers were all directed towards finding these people alive.

When this didn't happen, the comments involved the people "being in a better place", with "Jesus in heaven", etc, etc.

Here's my question, and this is one that has confused me all my life:

If you believe that these three people, upon their death, would be with God/Jesus in heaven, then why would your initial prayers even express a preference? Why did your initial prayers not simply involve saying "Thy will be done"? And why are so many people mourning if you know these people are now in a state of heavenly bliss? Why does acceptance of God's will begin only AFTER learning that God has not granted your preference?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous on 2/16/10 9:25:00 PM
I would like to try and answer your questions from my personal experience and limited understanding. "Why does acceptance of God's will begin only AFTER learning that God has not granted your preference?" Perhaps because hope is a virtue and until the outcome is made known, we don't know what God's will is. So is it too much to hope? I don't think so, because even Jesus states His preference (as you call it) in Gethsemane. He prays: Father, if Thou art willing, LET THIS CUP PASS FROM ME, nevertheless, let Thy will be done and not mine. Then an angel descended from Heaven coming to give him strength. (the answer is no) In his anguish he prayed all the more earnestly. (continues to plead) And his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.(acceptance) Lk 22:42-44
Especially in the Old Testament we have examples of God "changing his mind" after being implored by Moses and other prophets. But even in the New Testament, Jesus is moved by his mother's intercession in Cana, turning the water into wine when it was not his initial intention. So prayer is not a futile exercise, even when God's final answer is No. Because until that final answer comes we don't know what His will is. Once we know then comes acceptance of His will.
You also ask: "And why are so many people mourning if you know these people are now in a state of heavenly bliss?" Separation is painful, no matter what. I studied in Europe for two years long before it was common. It was a great thing and my mother was excited for me but she was also sad at the separation. Even Jesus CRIED at Lazarus'tomb and he knew that he would raise him from the dead and see him alive in a few minutes. "Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted." That's one of the beatitudes from Jesus' sermon on the Mount. So Jesus accepts that mourning is a natural state of our human nature and is even desirable as one of the beatitudes.
In my humble opinion.

dmichaels said...

So since we don't know God's will, and God is prone to change his mind, then we should pray and hope it helps him change his mind, but if he doesn't and still does what we don't like then we should accept it as his will?

Well, why not just "leave it up to God" to begin with since he knows what's best for us?

I think the comparison with Jesus is not really appropriate. After all, he knew that he was going to rise from the dead and ascend into heaven. Plus, being Jesus he had the power to do anything he willed. I mean, he could raise the dead, cure blindness, and walk on water. By comparison, raising his threshold of pain for a few hours then sleeping it off for a day doesn't seem like such a tall order.

I'm aware of that we all feel pain at the separation from loved ones, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that your mom's pain at knowing you were going away to Europe would pale in comparison to the anxiety she would feel had she been attending your funeral. So again, assuming that one is a devout Christian who believes their deceased loved one is now in eternal bliss with God in heaven, why the extreme heaviness of the mourning? You know you'll see them again and when you do, it'll be an awesome time. So yeah, you could be bummed that you'll miss them until then (like when you went to Europe), but to be so messed up over just doesn't seem to make sense if you know they are in heaven and all is well.

Anonymous said...

To dmichaels: Sorry, I just now noticed your name, duh!
Just to get it out of the way: re: trip versus death: that was my point exactly that if we can understand sadness at separation and extrapolate and multiply that pain when we're talking about a defined short while of seperation versus an unknown time of separation, then you should be able to understand the grieving.

But anyway it seems that your main point and concern is why not accept God's will from the get go?
And my opinion is that you are dead on. If you can do that perfectly, moment by moment, in all circumstances in your life, then in my opinion you are sure to have peace in your heart at all times and are well on your way to joining the brotherhood of saints. It would make you Christlike in one of the most important senses of His being, in that He was so united to His Father's Will, which is the ideal for all Christ followers.
A lot (if not most of us) Christ followers fall short of that ideal. In our defense however, I have to say that I can accept many things as God's will, such as financial losses, ill-will, ridicule, and mocking and condemnation from others. This demands 2 things: a certain detachment and a trust in God. In my examples it demands detachment from money, and self importance.
The kicker is this though: that I have to add that there is that ubiquitous command from God to love. How can you love and remain detached at the same time? I don't think it's possible. I think grieving is a form of weaning (To detach from that to which one is strongly habituated or devoted)ourselves from our loved ones.

If you have deeply loved someone and lost them to death and were able to shake it off with a simple: That was God's will and go on with your life as if nothing happened and you do it because you are truly united to God's will, then I tip my hat to you and say: You're a better man, and a better Christ follower than me and you are right to condemn me for my weakness. Yet even so, I don't think that for God who knows my human nature, that it's a make or break deal. I really don't think He will judge me as harshly as you for grieving.
P.S. if you wish to continue this conversation I suggest you email me as I feel as if I'm intruding on someone else's space with my opinions which may not be theirs.

Cheryl said...

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.

These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep, loving concern.

Beautiful people do not just happen.

--Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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Anonymous said...

We have not forgotten Brian or Nikko, nor have we forgot Anthony and Katie, or Fred Frauens, Ken Budlong, or any other person who has disappeared on Mt. Hood.

Hopefully we will recover Anthony and Katie soon. We think we have an idea of where they may be and are optimistc they'll be recovered this year.

As for Brian and Nikko, I don't think any of our rescuers travel on the mountain (especially the North Face) without thinking of them and keeping an eye out for clues.

None of these fine people have been forgotten, and their families are still in our hearts.

May they rest in peace.

- Anonymous Rescuer with Portland Mountain Rescue (

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