I'd always had a close relationship with God growing up but felt that as I got older and the demands of work and family life increased, it became harder and harder to hear His voice. That's how my WayForward story begins. I grew up in Dallas and have lived here all my life and married my high school sweetheart. We have 5, soon-to-be 6, children. Two boys (11 and 6) and three girls (8, 4, and 2). My wife and I always wanted a large family and remain open to God's will for the number of children we will have (Psalm 127:3-5).
Todd and I met at CrossFit Richardson several years ago and have known each other mainly just through seeing each other at the gym. He had invited me for at least 2 or 3 years to go on a WayForward trip with other guys from the gym and the timing was just never right. My wife was either pregnant and close to her due date or we had a newborn that was waking up many times a night. I told Todd that having a large family and being open to more doesn't necessarily mix well with weeklong backpacking trips in the mountains without any means of communication. And leaving my wife at home with all the kids while I went on a "guys trip" wasn't exactly a conversation I was eager to have with her. Todd understood, but he kept inviting me. And as time went by and guys I knew came back from these trips changed and told me how incredible they were and Todd kept asking, eventually I became convinced I needed to go. The only question was when and how.
Finally, the Spring of 2016 rolled around and I ran into Todd again at the gym and he asked me again if I would go on a WayForward trip that Summer. My wife wasn't pregnant. We didn't have a newborn (our youngest had just turned 1). So, I jumped at the chance and signed up on the spot (he literally signed me up on his cell phone right then and there). I remember telling him that if I had to cancel for some reason to consider it a donation and give my spot to another guy. My wife and I discussed the trip, made the plans for her mom and sisters to help out during the week I was gone. The WayForward staff also reassured me and alleviated my wife's concerns that I would be reachable in the event of an emergency through the guide's GPS radios. The rest is history. I didn't cancel, I made the trip in the Summer of 2016, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
My motivation for going on a WayForward trip wasn't just to get Todd off my back, or to simply go on a cool backpacking trip in the mountains with a bunch of buddies, or to get away from the responsibilities of work and family life. I had read John Eldredge's book "Wild at Heart" many years ago and was convinced I needed to reconnect with God through His creation and that in order to do so, I needed to disconnect from this world, at least temporarily, to make that happen. I work in technology and my livelihood requires me to be constantly plugged-in. But with the constant stream of input from being "connected" it's very hard to hear His voice amidst the noise, not the mention the constant demands of family life with 5 young children. I had initially thought that deciding to go on a WayForward trip would be a selfish decision in putting me first. But I came to realize that I was actually rightly re-ordering my priorities and putting God first by going on this trip.
The WayForward trip wasn't some "guys trip" to get away from our wives and families just to go have fun. This was a spiritual journey, awakening and rebuilding blended with the physical demands and challenges that only His creation could provide. I realized anew what it meant to be a child of God, a man created in His image and a brother in Christ. I realized that I was surrounded by other men, husbands and fathers, that shared similar stories, challenges, struggles and daily crosses. I realized that I was not alone as a man in this world, nor was I meant to be alone. I realized that iron truly sharpens iron and made some incredible friendships and deepened others - something that would not have happened without this trip. I realized that I can call on my WayForward brothers for their prayers and support anytime. And I realized above all else that I learned that without my guides I am lost on the trail and that I must follow to survive. I realized that in life I am lost without God as my guide and I must follow Him to survive and reach His summit.
It was an incredible experience that taught me so much, rejuvenated my soul and my spiritual life and brought me back a better man, a better husband and a better father. I would encourage any man who wants to deepen his relationship with Christ, to build lifelong friendships through an incredible brotherhood, and to reconnect with His creator through His creation to say yes to the invitation to go on a WayForward trip. We're currently expecting our 6th child due in the spring of 2017, but I'm already eager to go on another WayForward trip, but not until my wife hits the trail first! To anyone considering a WayForward trip, say YES to the invitation. You won't regret it!
Sincerely in Christ,