Tagged ‘Antarctica‘

January Antarctica Update

McMurdo Station, Antarctica viewed from Observation Hill.

When I last wrote, I was healing from shin splints and the accident with my right foot while working at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. I am glad to report that my body has adjusted to the terrain, and the two toes have healed well. I feel stronger than ever. I am grateful. Currently, I am recovering from an upper respiratory virus that we call “The Crud.” I got it about a week ago. The virus moved into my eyes, and both eyes turned blood red like a zombie! Thankfully, I feel better than I look. I am almost completely healed. Unfortunately, viruses like this are common here. It is just part of the experience of living and working in a small, self-contained community.

Since I last wrote, we have celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Day. In true McMurdo fashion, we shifted the dates to accommodate our work schedules, but we celebrated nonetheless. We feasted on Lobster tail and Filet Mignon for Christmas dinner and celebrated with Ice Stock, an outdoor live music event for New Year’s Eve. Loads of frivolity ensued, and I am happy to say I was in the thick of it. It was memorable.

The saying around the base is that Antarctica is harsh, and then it gets worse. The summer has been mild and, at times, warmer than winter in Michigan. We are enjoying the highest temperatures of the year. For the most part, temps have hovered in the upper twenties and low thirties. The warm Antarctic sun has melted the snow that accumulated over the winter. Outdoor stairwells that used to be covered in ice are now clear. On the warmest days, you can sun yourself on the loading dock for the store. Just throw down a blanket, put on some sunglasses, and read a book as if you were on a beach somewhere.

Dust and dirt are everywhere. I call the base McDurto Station. The dust gets everywhere. It coats everything. It filters into every crevasse indoors and out. The fine dirt is the one aspect of life in McMurdo that is a constant irritation. It is like a pebble stuck in my shoe. When I clean a bathroom, I am not so much cleaning toothpaste from sinks or poop freckles from toilets. Primarily, I wipe down the dust on every surface. And most of the time, the surface was just wiped down twenty-four hours ago. The amount of dirt we sweep off the floors of the highways in building 155 every day is astounding. Worse, the dust grinds into the carpet wherever there is foot traffic. It is impossible to get it out completely. Eventually, carpeted areas look like the floor of a barn. It is impossible to clean thoroughly. No matter how often I vacuum, I can never get it all out.

What ends up happening is that people stop trying to keep it clean. The standard is just to make it livable, not necessarily clean. And that is depressing. The fight to survive Antarctica has less to do with the temperatures. It is a fight to reject the status quo, to not settle for what is easy instead of what is best, to keep your head in the game, and not let the culture of McMurdo overwhelm you.

I wrote last month about the importance of controlling your attitude when everything else in your world feels out of control. If I am not careful, I can get beaten down by the culture of chaos in the administration and the culture of clutter in the living quarters. So instead of becoming irritated, I choose happiness and enjoy each day. I choose to love others, to love folks who may be beaten down and tired, to share a smile of encouragement saying, “You’re going to make it. It will be okay.” Little did I know how much this would impact my journey here.

All those little moments when I was just trying to love on people had been noted. Each small moment built upon the last until a widening influence had been realized. When I came to McMurdo, I had grand ideas about what I wanted to do in ministry, ideas based on what I had done in the past. I thought I could plant a small prayer gathering that might become a house church. But the Father God had other plans. I began to understand that all he wanted me to do was to express his love for kids who may not know him yet. Just love them. At first, honestly, I felt like a failure because everything I wanted to do for God had failed. But the Father God clearly spoke to me one day and told me I was doing exactly what he wanted me to do. Just love people. It was a disassembling of what I think ministry is and embracing the idea of a simpler version of ministry, one that is an expression of the Father’s love for his kids.

Jesus himself said two commandments mattered more than all the others. In fact, he said all the other commands hung on these two. First, I was supposed to love the Father God with abandon in such a way that it eclipses everything else in my world. To love him with such passion that nothing matters outside of that one relationship. Out of that relationship, he fills me with his love. Somehow, the Father God lives inside of me. When I am overwhelmed by his love and filled with his presence to the full, then he loves everyone around me through me. I find myself loving everyone despite how they look, what they do, what they say, how different from me they may be. I love them because they deserve to know the love of the Father. This fulfills the second command to love others as we love ourselves. I ache for them to find what I have discovered, this unfathomable relationship with the Father God that has transformed my life. And the Father loves them so much he sent his son Jesus to pay the penalty for their sin so that he could reconnect with them again. He loves them even when they turn away from him. Shouldn’t I do the same? If the Father God lives within me, is there another way?

And so, for the past few months, this is all I have done. I have cleaned toilets and loved people. And it has been the most amazing few months of my life. I have fallen in love with the people at McMurdo.

When I left home in early October, I could never imagine the events that would transpire. I was expecting to pay my dues in McMurdo for summer and winter, hoping that, possibly next year, I could get a position at the South Pole Station, the crown jewel of the USAP.

In December, I made an appointment with one of the hiring managers, asking for fifteen minutes to discuss a path forward to eventually working at the South Pole and Palmer Station. The fifteen-minute meeting lasted forty-five. I left the meeting encouraged that I might find a path to the Pole someday. About a week later, the hiring manager contacted me and asked me to stop by his office. Leadership had created a new position to winter over at the South Pole. It was not funded yet, so there was no guarantee, but if I was interested, I could sign an Alternate Contract for the position. It was a combo platter job description, both production cook and steward. While there was no guarantee the position would be funded, I eagerly signed on the dotted line. Just the possibility of going to the Pole kept me awake that night. And in a shocker moment, the next day, the position was funded! Never in my wildest imaginations could you have told me I would enter the United States Antarctica Program as a Freshman and a Janitor, and three months later, I would be transferring to the Pole, as a chef no less, but that is precisely what has happened.

I still had to have a four-person panel interview to gauge my ability to handle conflict. Wintering over at the Pole is not for that faint of heart. Forty-four people live and work at the base over ten months in some of the planet’s harshest, darkest, coldest climates. It is so severe that there are no flights in or out for eight of the ten months. Planes cannot land because their hydraulic systems would freeze. The station is entirely isolated. Even the international space station gets visits monthly. At the South Pole, you are stranded for eight dark months. One year, a mutiny broke out, and two rival gangs formed. People were afraid to walk the halls at night alone without an escort. One engineer locked himself in his room with several days’ food supply. It can get that bad. Thankfully, leadership has gotten better at weeding out potential problems in recent years. But the reality is none of us know what eight months of complete isolation can do to our mental state. So I had the interview. It went well. The Primary Contract to winter over at the Pole was extended and signed. I was going to the Pole! I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it.

Now here is where it gets interesting. While I have the chef experience necessary for the position from years of doing private catering, it wasn’t my experience that led them to offer me the position. It was my attitude. Two leadership team members stopped me in the hall to congratulate me on the job. Both of them separately said that it was my positive attitude and the influence I had on the life of McMurdo that led them to offer me the position at the Pole. They felt I could have a positive impact on the staff of the Pole over the harsh winter months. Isn’t that interesting? Who knew that just loving on people could make a difference like this? And on my last day of work at McMurdo, I was surprised with a special award from the station manager for employee of the week for the love I have shown and for boosting morale across the base. All I had been doing, just loving people, had been noticed. It was humbling.

So I think I am on to something with this focus of simply loving people and letting go of what I think ministry is. I’m beginning to see that it has a wide-ranging effect. The love of the Father God is a powerful force more deeply felt than if I had done what I thought I wanted to do in ministry here. I’m pretty sure I impacted far more lives than if I had done what I used to think ministry was. It is a lesson that is profoundly affecting me personally. It is a letting go of what I think ministry looks like and embracing what the Father thinks is best.

Last Friday was my last day at McMurdo Station. I turned in my work uniforms and cleaned out my room. I packed everything into two thirty-eight-pound duffle bags. I had already mailed a couple of boxes ahead to the Pole. I packed my ECW (Extreme Cold Weather gear) and met a shuttle to take me to building 140 for passenger pickup. At 140, I changed into my cold weather gear and left the building to load up the van that would take me to the airfield. There, outside, waiting in a line stretched out into the parking lot, people from across workstations and all walks of life were standing in line, waiting to see me off. I walked down the line receiving a hug from each one, trying to hold back tears. One friend was seriously ill, but she bundled up and covered her face with a mask so she would not miss the opportunity to say goodbye. These were some of the people I had had the privilege of loving for the past three months, people that I treasure. I struggled to keep my composure. Some will stay lifelong friends. Other friendships may fade, but warm memories will resurface when I least expect them. My Jano team was at the end of the line, and their silly chants lightened the mood. These were the people the Father loved through me. This is my McMurdo family, whom I dearly love. Finally, it was one last wave goodbye as I boarded the van for the airfield and the flight to the Pole.

Our plane sat alone on the ice at Willies field, engines warming up for the journey. It was an LC-130, one of only ten C-130s in the world equipped with skis to land and take off on the ice. It is a relatively small aircraft with two prop engines on each wing. Inside, webbed seats and seatbelts lined the sides, and cargo filled the center from front to back. Four researchers, a physician, and I sat down the sides, and six Air Force personnel crewed the flight.

The flight to Pole lasted about 3 hours, covering eight hundred and fifty miles inland from McMurdo Station, which sits on the coast. It was cloudy, and I couldn’t see anything out of the tiny port lights that lined the plane’s side. It wasn’t until I felt a bump and the snow’s drag against the skis that I realized we had landed. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was at the South Pole.

I gathered my bags, tightened the hood of my big red parka, and stepped out onto the blinding white surface of the snow. On my way to the station building, two teammates met me holding a cardboard sign with “Welcome to South Pole, Tim” written on it with a black marker. I almost cried again. I just could not believe this was happening.

All of us who arrive have to isolate ourselves for a total of ten days to help stop the spread of Covid. The base has already had cases of Covid, but they are working hard to keep it from spreading further. So I am writing this from my room, where I will rest for the next ten days. For five days, I have to stay in the room except to get water, meals, bathroom breaks, or to go outside for recreation. After that, I have five days to begin assimilating but still with a mask on and social distancing where possible. All personnel rooms at the Pole are single rooms. They are tiny, with barely enough room to turn around once you enter, but it is your own space to nest in. I am enjoying it immensely. It reminds me of my tiny space when I lived on the sailboat.

The days of rest and isolation help me adjust to the altitude. The base sits at 9301 feet of elevation, but it feels more like 11,000 feet because of atmospheric conditions. Because the air is so thin, there is 30% less oxygen available. High Altitude sickness is common in the first few days. I am taking medication to prevent it, and so far, I am feeling well. Sitting around for five days is the best way to acclimate, so I am taking full advantage of that. I had a rough night my first night with a headache and insomnia, but I feel great today.

Oh, and the best part about the Amundson-Scott South Pole Station? There is no dirt outside! Ha! There are only nine thousand feet of snow and ice beneath my feet. This means there is no dirt in the station hallways or carpets. None. I am overjoyed.

Because the hiring process is such a roller coaster, I hesitated to say anything publicly until I knew the new job would go through. In fact, I still need my final medical clearance, and until that is complete, there is no guarantee that I will stay here for the winter. I expect to get approval in the new few weeks as I live here and begin working. I met with the Dentist this morning. He cleaned my teeth, replaced three older fillings with new composite fillings, and cleared me for his part. Next, I have blood labs on Monday and a chest x-ray. I am not expecting any issues, but until medical clears me, it is not a done deal.

I will live here at the base until November, a little over ten months. I will work as part of a team of three chefs preparing meals for 44 people through the winter. I will have some duties as Steward in the galley as well. For now, we still have sunlight 24/7. But the sun is already getting low in the sky, and it will dip below the horizon in a few weeks, not to reappear for six months. For six months, darkness will settle upon the continent, but a night that reveals unspeakable beauty in the galaxies with waves of aurora australis, Southern Lights, like green curtains sweeping through the sky. (Think of it as Northern lights for the Southern hemisphere.) Temperatures will average around -60 F before wind chill with occasional dips below – 100 F. The base is like a lunar facility, self-contained in one sprawling building. I will work and play inside for the most part, but of course, I will explore outside occasionally.

The good news is that these few days of isolation have given me the time and energy to bring you up to speed. There is so much more to write, and yes, I intend to write a travel memoir when this is all over. But for now, I hope this helps. Once I get back to work, there is little mental space to think about writing updates. So, again, thank you for understanding. I appreciate it.

Until next time, love the Father with abandon and selflessly love others.


The Journey to Antarctica

After a stop in Tampa for the night with dear friends, I boarded the flight to Houston. From there, I flew to Auckland and finally to Christchurch, New Zealand. It took twenty-four hours of flights and layovers to reach Christchurch. The next day I was in training all day, with Covid testing, zoom meetings, a stop at the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) to get fitted with all my extreme cold weather gear, and more meetings. I was scheduled to fly to McMurdo the next day. I was exhausted and still dealing with the stress carried over from the storm. I was going through the motions. I felt like I was still on high alert. When I learned the flight was postponed a day, I was so relieved. To have one day to rest was a gift.

Flight delays to McMurdo are common. As one supervisor said, “Antarctica is easy. Getting there is hard.” One veteran employee told me the shortest time he had spent in Christchurch waiting for the flight was twenty-one days!

The American Airforce C-17 we were scheduled to fly on had mechanical issues, so our flight was postponed day after day until finally, on October 10, we boarded a Royal New Zealand Air Force 757 and started our flight south. Three hours into the four-and-a-half-hour flight, the pilot announced we were turning around and returning to Christchurch due to a mechanical issue. This is known as a boomerang flight. So I laughed out loud when the flight attendant announced, “Welcome to Christchurch.”

I had more downtime to enjoy Christchurch. It was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. We continued to test for Covid every 72 hours. I got so much rest. It is Spring in Christchurch, and everything is in bloom. There is a beautiful botanical garden. I bought a New Zealand bird book and spent hours in the gardens watching birds, adding to my life list. I had a bit of seasonal allergies kick in, but nothing major. On other days, we went hiking on beautiful trails up and down seaside cliffs. My body ached a little from the hikes, so I took some ibuprofen and Tylenol. I felt like maybe I was getting a cold.

Finally, on October 17, I passed the fever scan at the airport and boarded an Australian Airbus A319 for McMurdo. Finally, after almost two years of planning and preparation, my flight landed at the Phoenix Airfield at McMurdo. I stepped onto the ice for the first time, smile beaming, eyes moist from the blistering -18 degree air and from pure joy pulsing through my veins. I was in Antarctica!

Once on base, I was immediately ushered into training, got my room keys and bags, and settled into my room. By 7:30 the next morning, I was clocked into work and met my teammates. I was in training all day. My cold was still bothering me, and I wanted to get some decongestants from medical. As it turns out, I did not have a cold. I had Covid and likely had it for a couple of days before I flew down. What I thought were seasonal allergies were probably the beginning symptoms. Since we were tested for Covid within 72 hours of our flight, somehow, I got it between my last test and my flight. And since I had taken Tylenol for my aches, the meds had likely hidden a fever when I was tested at the airport.

So, within 24 hours of landing in Antarctica, I landed in quarantine for eight days of isolation. I am enjoying a room with a fantastic view of the Ross Sea and the Royal Society Mountains in the distance. And for those wondering, yes, I was fully vaccinated and double-boosted with the multi-variant booster. I will not go down that rabbit hole, but you are welcome to draw your own conclusions. But yes, since this is a government position, we follow all the CDC guidance.

I called my supervisor and told her the news. I volunteered to clean the bathrooms in the quarantine dorm since I am a jano (janitor), and I feel fine. The only thing that was missing was the mop and mop bucket. My supervisor said she would bring one over at 11:00 am. At 11, there was a knock on the exterior door, so I masked up and headed down the hall. The door opened. There, to my surprise, was my supervisor and four of my co-workers in masks bringing in a gift bucket! It was the mop and bucket I had requested. But it was wrapped in a clean bag, filled to overflowing with bags of cookies, a pot of artificial grass (my favorite item!), coffee beans, food bars, drink mixes, and a pair of jano coveralls. Then they presented me with a huge handmade card signed by everyone on the team, wishing me a quick recovery. It was awesome. I was overwhelmed. It was such a nice gesture. It almost made me cry. It is going to be an incredible experience to work with these folks.

Here is the location of the building where my dorm is. The quarantine building I am currently in is the next building over to the left. Pro tip: the blue tank on the right with the NSF logo is an easy reference point when looking at McMurdo images.

McMurdo photo

You can view this image of McMurdo and see real-time weather conditions on the USAP live webcam. Go to The image defaults to the Arrival Heights cam. Click on the tab at the bottom of the image for the Observation Hill cam, and you will see the image I used above. Below the picture is the weather report for the day.

Fun fact: I did laundry here in the quarantine dorm. I split my washer load into two half loads to separate colors and whites. I put the first load into the dryer to hold until the second half of the load was finished. When I put the second half of the clothes into the dryer, the first half was frozen stiff. In the dryer. Welcome to Antarctica.

There is so much more to tell. But this should get us caught up for now. In the end, I see the Father at work in so many details. His care is astounding. I am grateful. I am so grateful for how I see the Father taking care of me. He is so kind.


The other day, I put my bed back together after laundering the sheets. It was a routine task. But as I pulled the top sheet tight, tucking the bottom edge under the mattress, suddenly I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I was grateful to have a bed. I was grateful to have sheets. I was grateful to have a washer and dryer so I could wash the sheets at my convenience. I stood there in silence with the bed half-made. The Father’s kindness swept over me. It was so odd. I stood there thinking about his love, his care for me, worshiping the Father. Making the bed had become an act of worship. Imagine!

Most of the conversations I have with the Father revolve around his kindness to me. I am aware of his blessings in my life, his presence clearly felt, even in the mundane moments. The Bible says that in his presence, there is fulness of joy. I experience this. I hope you do as well, for it changes the way we see the little things in our lives.

Gratitude is the gift we give back to the Father for his gifts to us. He showers us with kindness. We give gratitude back. Back and forth, the giving continues.

And so this month, as the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, I wonder if we are grateful? Are we aware of the small things we often take for granted? Are we aware of how blessed we are?

I am grateful for the years of ministry behind me, for the hope of many years of ministry before me, for freedom in my schedule, for the privilege of sharing with so many my life and relationship with the Father.

I am grateful for the opportunity to join the team supporting the work of the National Science Foundation in Antarctica, whether that day comes this year or next, for the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows during the process of pursuing this adventure.

I am grateful for close friends, for short gaps between long conversations, for the cherished gift of their time and presence, the moments together more valuable than any trinket I could buy.

I am grateful for a home, for a place to retreat from the pressures of ministry and life. I am grateful for air conditioning in the sweltering days of summer and for heat when the occasional cold front passes through in winter.

I am grateful for the scent of French roast coffee first thing in the morning while the house is still dark, for silence, for contemplation, for an easing into the day with expectation and joy.

I am grateful for the tropical gardens that encircle my home, for the bromeliads, the Coconut palms, the yellow Allamanda blossoms smiling at me as I survey the grounds in the soft light after sunrise, coffee in hand.

I am grateful for flocks of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Snowy Egrets, and Glossy Ibises, for their piercing greetings as they circle and descend while morning mists awake and rise from the lake.

I am grateful for a growing understanding of the love of the Father God and his presence with me, for time spent in silence on his lap, for his embrace, for his listening ear, for his patience, for his grace and the countless times I have received it.

And I am grateful for folks like you who encourage me to keep keeping on, who support me in my crazy adventures, who pray, who write, who share. Thank you. I am grateful.

Antarctica Update

At this time, I am still in a holding pattern to deploy to Antarctica. However, I am in regular communication with my supervisor. She is currently on base in McMurdo overseeing the Lodging Department. We spoke recently, and there may be an opening to join the team in January. I am optimistic for more news to share in the next few weeks. I am hopeful to be part of the team this season, but if not, then I will look forward to next year with great anticipation.

Book Update

My editor has finished the primary edit of my new book, Sitting on the Lap of God. We are moving forward with various reviews for grammar and theology. A designer in Toronto is currently working on the cover artwork and interior design. At this time, everything looks like it is on schedule for a launch in June of next year.

In all, I am grateful.

Waiting Well

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14, ESV

Book Update

I have finished the first draft of the book “Sitting on the Lap of God.” I celebrate this important milestone. Currently, I am going back through the chapters with a light grammar edit, and then I will turn it over to my editor for the first of several editing stages. Over the next few months, we will produce a finished manuscript. I expect to have Advanced Reader Copies ready in March. I plan to launch the book for sale at the beginning of June in 2022, in time for Father Day weekend. So we are still nine months away from launch. In between, I am developing an extensive marketing campaign to raise awareness of the book. In all, I am excited to see the process moving forward.

I am far more excited about this project than I am about the prospect of going to Antarctica. I believe the book will help many to find the love of the Father in their own lives.

Antarctica Update

At this time, there are no new updates to share regarding my job at the McMurdo research base in Antarctica. I am waiting for an assignment. If you missed the last update, the National Science Foundation decided to scale back operations at McMurdo due to the most recent surge in the pandemic. As a result, they cut my position. I keep in touch with my boss regularly. The first of three Mainbody groups began deploying on September 11. Over the next several weeks, two more groups will transition through the quarantine process in New Zealand. With my alternate status, I am available to replace anyone who may not be able to go. So, for now, I have to wait and see what will happen. I may be called up to replace someone this season. If that does not happen, then I am first in line for a position next year.

I think I confused some by writing that I hope to work in Antarctica for the next several years. But the work in Antarctica I am pursuing is seasonal. It is only for the four months of Austral Summer – October through February. So if I get this job, I would be gone from October through February only. So, to clarify, I am hoping to work in Antarctica seasonally from October through February for the next several years.

There are three main United States research bases in Antarctica. I hope to experience each one.

McMurdo is the largest and the main jumping-off point for most of the research on the continent. I am currently under contract to work here in the lodging department. When fully operational during the Austral Summer, the base houses around 900 people with approximately 600 researchers and 300 support staff. The average temperature in the summer is around 30 degrees Fahrenheit. To see an image of the base and to read more information, click here:

The South Pole station, nearer the continent’s center, is smaller, with around 125 people during summer. It is the harshest environment of the three, with average high temperatures around -18 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Click here to learn more about the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station:

Finally, the Palmer Station, on the opposite end of the continent from McMurdo, is the smallest of the three bases, with up to 44 people in the summer. Palmer is the warmest of the three bases, with average temperatures in the summer around 36 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the most picturesque, in my opinion, with abundant wildlife. Here is a link to the webcam at the Palmer Station:

In the Waiting

And so I am in waiting mode again. Again! Oh, there must be a lesson in all this. As I wrote in the last update, I remain guarded by the peace of God through this process. If you missed that update, click here to read it.

I know of no one who enjoys waiting. But when you think about it, waiting is a natural part of our lives. We wait for an end to the pandemic. We wait for a new school season to begin, then we wait for summer vacation to start. We wait for a new friend to return a text. We wait to hear back from a job interview. We wait for a vegetable garden to grow, then we wait for the tomato to ripen. We wait in waiting rooms for appointments to finally begin.

I wait for the book to be complete. And I wait for a position to open in Antarctica.

Waiting is natural. Waiting well is the trick.

The Bible says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

In this passage, the original language for the word “wait” has the connotation of a rope under tension. It is the tension of enduring, like a tie-down strap holding an object in place during a storm. Waiting in this context infers a sense of tension.

I live in Southwest Florida in an area prone to hurricanes. Years ago, my sailboat was out of the water in the work yard of a marina. As Hurricane Irma approached, staff at the marina secured the vessel with strong tie-down straps. They attached one end of the six-inch-wide straps to the vessel and the other end to screw anchors they drilled into the ground. The vessel rode out ninety miles an hour winds without tipping over. The winds put the tie-downs under great stress. In essence, the tie-down straps waited out the storm. As the winds increased, the tension also increased. But, the straps waited well and saved the boat from harm.

Waiting well means navigating this tension. How do we do this? How do we wait well?

When I am in the waiting mode, I make extra time to pull back into my relationship with God. I call this time “Sitting on the Lap of God.” It is the primary way I view my relationship with the Father. So I wait on his lap, held in his embrace, while the storm rages around me. He is responsible for managing the tension accompanying the storm. My responsibility is to sit in stillness on his lap.

Occasionally, I find myself wandering about, momentarily forgetting my relationship with the Father, and I feel the tension building within. I try to fix it. I work to make the situation better. I take responsibility for the tension instead of letting the Father take care of it. When I take responsibility for the wait, I bear the entire load of the pressure. When I let the Father take responsibility, I am at rest.

I have enjoyed an extraordinary peace since learning my job in Antarctica had been cut. The peace of God has guarded me well. Then one day, I checked in on the Facebook group for employees of the United States Antarctica Program. A pang of sadness started to creep in as I read through the posts of employees who were preparing to deploy. I started feeling melancholy. It was the equivalent of checking in on an old girlfriend, only to discover she has moved on and is happy without you! The peace I had enjoyed started fraying. As soon as I realized what was happening, I closed the website and crawled back on the lap of the Father God. I had wandered off the lap of the Father, and tension was settling in where peace had reigned. The solution was to get back on the lap of God.

As we wait, we wait for the Lord. We wait for him to decide the next move. We spend more time with him. We focus our eyes on him. We look up from his knee and gaze at his face. The storm does not faze him. He feels no tension. He is at rest. He strengthens us. We are encouraged. We are secure on his lap. And we wait well.

My friend, are you in a season of waiting? Are you waiting well? Or are you feeling the tension building as you wait out the storm? If so, join me in learning to be still on the lap of God. Wait for him to move.

Be strong. Take courage. Wait for the Lord!





The Lord is at hand

As a reminder, I will not have access to Facebook or any other social media site when I am in Antarctica. The only updates I expect to make will be through the email mailing list. If you are reading this on the website or from a forwarded email and are not currently a member, you can join the list here:

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5b-7, ESV.)

The clock is ticking, and the day of departure for Antarctica is only a few weeks away. Recently, I reviewed my journal of this journey over the past few months, and I noticed a disturbing trend. Again and again, I wrote about the anxiety I was feeling through the process of getting the job and preparing to leave. A sense of anxiety seems to be on repeat play. Throughout this season, there have been many moments when I felt anxious. The dream is so big and challenging to attain. It is a rare handful of people who get the opportunity I have sought. Now, feeling so close to the finish line, I feel stressed instead of at peace.

For several years, I have felt overwhelmed by my responsibilities with the ministry, work outside of the ministry, owning a home, owning a vehicle, and sailboat, all of which need attention and focus. Now, with deploying to Antarctica on the horizon, I feel like I am driving a car 100 miles per hour, trying to bring it to a complete stop before I leave. I am standing on the brake as hard as I can, but it feels like I am locked up and in a slide out of control. The perception has filled me with anxiety over and over again.

I can give many logical reasons why I should not feel anxious. But anxiety doesn’t respond to logic. Instead, anxiety glares at me, demanding my attention. When I lay down to sleep, it awakens, prodding me, imposing itself, stealing slumber and rest. Instead of shutting off, my brain turns on, trying to settle anxious thoughts that have rested in the background all day. The only way to break the cycle is to get up and read a book or watch TV until I finally feel able to go to sleep. This cycle happened to me in the process of getting the Primary position at McMurdo. And I find it happening to me again as the days tick down to deploying in September.

I’ve worked hard to check things off my list as I close down my life here for the time being. I’ve purchased all the items required, and my bags are still a few pounds under the allowed weight. But one essential thing remains unresolved – what to do with my sailboat.

In Florida, the winter months are the best months for sailing and living aboard the vessel. Most sailboat owners put their boats into safe storage for the summer hurricane season. It does not make sense to keep the sailboat since I will likely be working in Antarctica for the next few winters (i.e., the best time to live aboard and sail). So, I decided to sell it.

During this time, writing the book has been my primary focus. After that, I focused on preparing for a week of meetings at the end of last month. Now, with just five weeks away from the expected departure, I am finally getting around to listing the boat for sale. Once again, a sense of panic settled in. I began to feel anxious about it. Logically, I know I can just put it in storage and manage it next year. But again, my anxiety does not respond to logic.

Anxiety gnawed at my gut. At the height of my concern, the Father reminded me of a verse I learned as a child. It says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:-7, ESV.)

I looked up the verses on my laptop. I noticed an odd thing. In the English Standard Version, the phrase, “do not be anxious about anything…” begins in the lower case, implying it is in the middle of a thought or sentence. Curious, I looked up the whole passage to consider the context. There it was. The preceding phrase says, “The Lord is at hand;” Read together it says this: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything….”

I looked into the original language for the phrase “The Lord is at hand.” For the word “Lord,” Strong’s Concordance describes it this way: he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has the power of deciding; master, Lord or the possessor and disposer of a thing.

I was taken aback. The answer to my anxiety appeared in a straightforward phrase. “He to whom a person or thing belongs.” Those words exposed the heart of my fear. The glaring truth is that I was attempting to play God. But God alone is Lord. I belong to him.

Further, everything in my care belongs to him. I am merely the steward. I take care of his things the best I can. Even my body is his. I cannot change myself. I cannot control whether or not I get Covid before I depart for McMurdo. I cannot change my circumstances. I can only surrender, yielding my rights of ownership, yielding control, giving up the right of deciding what is best for me or my possessions. I belong to him. My home belongs to him. My car belongs to him. My sailboat belongs to him. It all belongs to him, and he alone has the power of deciding how to use it or even dispose of it. I say again. He alone has the power of deciding how to use it or even dispose of it.

For days I had tried to discipline myself not to be anxious. But trying harder to overcome my anxiety did not work. Surrender did. Appalled, I confessed to the Father how I have attempted to control my situation with getting the job in Antarctica. Same with taking care of the sailboat before I leave. I have tried to figure it out on my own instead of resting in the knowledge that my Father is the only owner of the vessel. He alone has the power of deciding what is best and how to dispose of it if necessary. If he doesn’t want to sell it, it won’t sell. If he wants to store it, he will store it. It is not my decision to make. So I wait for him to tell me what he wants me to do with his things.

Further, the Bible says, “The Lord is at hand.” He is not some faraway God, unconcerned with our day-to-day lives. He is near. He is with us. The one who owns all things and has the authority to decide what is best is close. He is aware. It is not as if he is somehow preoccupied somewhere far away in the universe. He is here! With us!

According to this passage, my sole responsibility is to bring all my requests to the Father, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving. I spent an hour talking with the Father, surrendering anew and afresh, letting go of my desire to control, yielding fully, finally resting in his embrace. My prayer had little to do with going to Antarctica and even less to do with a sailboat. It had everything to do with emptying my heart. The one thing that actually matters to my Father. My heart.

For me, the key to overcoming anxiety is not trying harder. It is surrender. And so I do not ask for relief; I ask for conformity. The Father pulls, stretches, slowly conforms me to the image of Jesus. Jesus, the son who trusted his Father fully even to the point of laying down his life. When we are aware of the presence of the Lord with us, we do not need to be anxious about anything. He is at hand. He is near. He is with us. Because of that, we let go of our anxious thoughts.

At that moment, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. When I surrendered control to my Father, I found a fresh perspective and peace. Options for storing the boat became clear, negating the pressure to make a quick sale before departure. Peace settled in where anxiety had ruled. And most importantly, my Father realigned my heart with his.