Renee Kahler – Rapid City, SD

Renee KahlerAnyone who knows me, knows I LOVE rock climbing. My husband often says, “She lives to climb.” What many people do not know, is the reason I find so much joy in climbing. Even more than climbing itself, why I love to bring women that have never climbed out to the local crag for a new experience.

I spent most of my childhood with very few friends, bullied, and extremely lonely. As I hit high school, I found that drugs and unhealthy relationships made me feel accepted. That desperate need for acceptance morphed into one bad relationship after another, and more drug use than I care to say. While I was in total rebellion to God, I had a sense I was protected, and nothing “permanently” bad was going to happen to me.

Then one day, I woke up broke, alone, and pregnant. When the reality of my situation set in, I remember looking up at God and saying, “You never let bad things happen to me. I know this isn’t really going to happen.” As any parent does, with an extremely rebellious child headed down a path of destruction, He kicked me out of the house, and forced me to grow up and accept responsibility.

My son Joshua turned out to be the best thing that had ever happened to me. Even though there were many difficulties, and lots of loneliness, I was always thankful that God walked with me through the journey of raising my son. Through the entire journey, God proved himself faithful as a husband, father to my son, and provider.

We have all heard about the 40 years of wandering in the desert for Israel, as they worked out their rebellion and stubbornness, before entering into the Promised Land. Anyone who has gone through trauma knows that healing, and coming to the point of recovery can be a type of desert experience. God cannot use you, or see His plan for you fulfilled, until you walk though that desert and allow Him to complete His work in your life. Many times, in the midst of my pain, I remember looking up at God saying, “I am shaped and molded already! I cannot take anymore.” God would lovingly show me there were more issues to address, more healing to happen, and more relationship with Him that needed nurturing.

I walked through the desert for 22 years, celebrating victories, making mistakes, taking giant steps forward, and falling backwards. Through it all, God walked beside me, remaining ever faithful, leading the way, and drawing me closer to Him.

Renee Kahler, Maryland Heights

My son and I lived with my parents in West Virginia until he was three. This is where the dream of rock climbing began. We would walk down the canal in Harper’s Ferry, and see the rock climbers climb Maryland Heights. We would always stop to watch as they climbed up the amazing black rock, as trains traveled through the tunnel below them. I remember starring in wonder, and saying, “I want to do that someday.”

Sixteen years later, my son left for Marine Corps boot camp, and I was suddenly an empty nester. Around that time I found out there was a climbing gym near my house, and convinced my best friend Janice to come try it out with me.

I was 40 years old, almost 180 lbs, and extremely unhealthy the day I walked into that gym. For years I had suffered from chronic pain, and inflammation over my entire body. Aside finding out I had celiac disease, I had no diagnosis. After thousands of dollars for physical therapy and pain management, I had no diagnosis, and no answers. The only thing that gave me any kind of relief was exercise. Motivation for exercise is difficult to do when your body is screaming at you to lay down and rest.

Get to the Rock Climbing

I will get into my climbing journey another time, and get to the point. Why does climbing bring me such joy, and why do I love to share, what I consider a precious gift, with other women? Simply put, God used climbing to transform my life physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He utilized climbing to walk me through the final steps of my desert experience, and prepared me for the new life that was to follow.

Chick Climber, Dave & ReneeThrough climbing, God showed me how often I relied on my own strength, rather than relying on Him to carry me through the cruxes in life. He showed me I can concur my fears, be healthy again, and take on any challenge. He used climbing to prepare me to meet my husband, and to take on the challenge of moving to a new place, and live an entirely different life. Most importantly, God used climbing to show me how much He loved me, and accepted me. Though climbing, I found healing from the hurts, the heartache, and the burdens I had carried for so many years. The Rock used a rock, to teach me how to live again.

Why do I love climbing so much? God used climbing to bring me back to life. Once I was able to live again, He took me out of the desert and brought me love, marriage, a new home, and a new amazing journey. What a precious gift!

How could I not want to share that gift with others? My hope is that I can use climbing to share the love of Christ with others, while helping them find healing from past hurts, fears, or something as simple as low self-confidence. Through Christ we can do all things. I cannot think of a better way to learn that truth than on the rock.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20