One thing people may not think of when they think of Japan is hiking, but the country is chalk full of great hiking trails. Most of the country is rugged volcanic mountains, so there is no shortage of places to explore. A trickier challenge may be to find places where the whole family can enjoy — and places close enough to home that can be done in one day. Fortunately, we became aware of Mt Takao, a mountain (big hill, really) less than an hour away. It turned out to be such a great trip that the girls are already asking when our next one will be!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is a day we celebrate love, and we are most thankful for it. Love is the atmosphere in which we as humans thrive and grow. Love is a commitment to help one another in thick and thin, through hormones and emotional swings (and I’m not talking just about females here). Love is not just an emotional high, but it is a force that determines our destinies. In our newest video we celebrate love — it is the reason we can enjoy such a rich life here in the greater Tokyo area. This love has propelled us here to Japan and changes the freeze of winter into the warmth of spring.
Everyone has problems and issues that they face on a daily basis. That’s just part of life. For kids it might be the bully at school, or the test coming up. For adults it might be broken relationships and difficult work environments. Your health just threw you a curve ball, or money may be a major issue always weighing you down. You may feel like your life is cramped and you’re not free to really grow into your full potential. What if there was a solution to the daily problems you face — would you want to know about it?
Perhaps the biggest adjustment and problem we faced when to moving to Japan was not the language, food or even culture. It was the space! We went from big home rural living to compact major-city living all while our family grew. It was a night and day difference. Feeling cramped is not a fun feeling, it feels like you’re being shackled down.
Not all of Japan is cramped though, because when you move away from the major cities, things become much more spacious. While the thought of moving outside of the city does appeal to us, we are living and working in the city and need to be here. So we are constantly improving our home to maximize our space, and that’s all about what this video is about.
How about the problems you face? Have you found solutions for them? Chances are someone else has also faced the same problems, and there may be hundreds or even thousands of others facing the same issue right now. Some of the biggest breakthroughs in business, ministries and medicine came because there was a big problem, and instead of bowing to that problem or accepting it for what it was, someone persevered and found a solution and started sharing it with others.
Finding a solution for your space concerns is one thing — finding truly abundant living full of love, joy and peace is another. We were designed to experience a life full of these things, but instead we often dwell in the gutter of life instead of on the mountains. The solution is to maximize your space by getting a new perspective.
Get a New Perspective
Get outside of your normal worldview and experiences. Get another option. Look at another angle. And no other perspective is as accurate or life-changing as the Bible. The Bible is God’s perspective on life — its’ purpose, its’ design and its’ destiny. From the Bible we learn about who we are — the problems of sin and death that face all of us and the solution for mankind who is Jesus Christ.
There’s a reason that the Bible is the number one selling book of all time. No other book is like the Bible. It has the power to give solutions to every day problems. If you haven’t ever tried it, you can download it for free and start this life-changing experience. It has changed my life and daily gives me strength. It can do the same for you.
Here are two apps I highly recommend. The first has the Bible in hundreds of language and translations (including Japanese). You can find reading plans that help you start reading for the first time.
The second is a great a great Japanese Dramatic Bible and I use it for studying Japanese. If you’re going to read or listen to the Bible in Japanese, this is perhaps the best place to go. The highlight of this app is not just the wonderful, easy to understand Japanese translation, but also the professional voice acting of the dramatic reading. It’s great.
I grew up in the heartland of America, in the northern regions of the country not far from Chicago. We certainly had hot summers, but when the winter came, we got to experience all the frigid temperates one could handle. I remember one time in college when it was -40 degrees windchill! At that temperature you just cover up any exposed skin that you don’t want to lose! Try throwing some boiling water in the air at that temperature, and watch it crystalize almost instantly!
That’s Illinois. Some of my fondest memories were of wintery storms where the snow would come pouring down and pile up outside so much that everything shut down. There was nothing to do but to go out in the snow and enjoy it!
We were fortunate enough to live in a place with great sledding hills. There was a reservoir but 10 minutes away with a massive hill that was really quite intimidating. You would really, REALLY fly down that thing! You had to be careful if you were heading towards any trees or steep drop offs — always ready to bail out if you had to. There was a very real sense that you were taking your life into your hands, and always a level of danger to it that made it extra intense. We would build jumps and see who could get the most air and go the farthest without killing themselves.
We would stay out for hours — until we were so soaked, cold and exhausted we just had to go in. Then we trod back in the snow and escaped to the warm confines of the house, the entryway becoming a mess of wet boots and ski clothes pilling up under our feet. Heading upstairs, we could sit down and sip on some of mom’s hot cocoa, which always had a layer of scalded milk on top scorched by the hot stove. Those were good memories.
Around us in Tokyo, snow rarely accumulates, which means we have to go up into the mountains at the right time if we want to enjoy snow sports. Fortunately for us, there is a fun ski hill about an hour away — Fujiten, situated near the base of Mt Fuji. It even has a little hill where you can sled.
My kids don’t have many experiences in the snow, so it was fun for them to get to go sledding. Even though it was completely different than the death-defying sledding I knew as a kid, the Ski Patrol took it very seriously. It was still a blast and I’m sure they’re already looking forward to the next big snow so they can ask “Can we go out and play in the snow?!”
If I say Paris, what do you think of? The Eiffel Tower? If I say New York, then what do you picture in your mind? The Statue of Liberty with Manhattan in the background? If I mention Chicago, what do you imagine? In most cases, you probably imagined a landmark or the downtown skyline of each place. To heart of each city is often captured by an image of its skyline. To those who have actually visited those places, a picture of that place evokes all the feelings, sights and sounds that are associated with it.
What do you think of when you think of Tokyo? For me, I often think of Rainbow Bridge spanning the bay at night, or Tokyo Tower rising up in the middle of the urban sprawl or towering Skytree with Mt Fuji in the background. But at the very heart of the city, hidden in a protected garden, is the Imperial Palace of the Emperor of Japan. Perhaps nowhere else in Japan captures the essence of Japan quite like this unique area in downtown Tokyo. The modern skyline is abruptly halted by an ancient castle. This is where old and new meet. A nod to the past with an eye on the future. This is at the heart of Tokyo.
But what truly defines a society is not its’ buildings, skylines or cities. Modern cities do their best to support business, government, education, entertainment, housing and more. But all of these things support the people that live in the city, because a city it ultimately defined by its people. Without people, a city would be nothing.
Just as downtown Tokyo is at the heart of the city, family is at the heart of society. Where there are strong families, there are strong societies. We celebrate our kids’ birthdays because each and every one of them is special.
No matter your background, birth order, ability, gender, race or age, you’re special. No matter what school you went to or what job you hold, you’re one-of-a-kind. No matter what others say about you or what you’ve accomplished, you are special to God. He made you in His image and he delights in you just as a parent delights in their children.
To know God is to know His love for you, and that love permeates his design for the family. He has a purpose for the family — that it be a place of nurture, care and love where each and every person can discover and pursue the purpose for which God made them.