Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Review: Hold Fast ... to God!

The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy, Holding Fast, encompasses many issues beyond sharing the background and events surrounding the loss of three mountain climbers during a major storm that was worse than had been seen in a decade. Written by Karen James, wife of mountain climber, Kelly James, it is both a tribute to her husband Kelly, as well as a significant documentary of actual events, which includes pictures that were taken by James during their climb.

For those who participate in mountain climbing activities, the pictures are beautiful illustrations of why someone chooses to climb. For Kelly James, he quickly would highlight that, for him, climbing onto mountain summits brought him closer to God than any other place. Karen shares how early in their relationship, she did go on a climbing trip. Indeed Kelly proposed marriage to Karen while they were high on a mountain! But after that, Karen normally chose to stay home while Kelly would travel with other climbers who had become close friends.

Holding Fast is also a fascinating tale of the search and rescue process. One telling point was after Karen and the family were already home. Karen called to wish the Sheriff who had led the rescue activities a merry Christmas. He had been feeling like he had failed the families because none of the climbers were rescued; however, Karen and everybody else were quite willing to gratefully compliment and thank all of those who worked long and hard, trying to find the three men.

But most of all, Holding Fast shares God's love and attendance before, during, and after the "Mount Hood Tragedy." Kelly James had been a guy's guy, but he had no problem sharing his love and faith in God. During the rescue activities, his brother, who is a minister, was the spokesman for the families and was constantly leading everyone in prayer, including placing hands of prayer on the helicopters and praying for men who were doing the search.

Kelly had been Karen's best friend. When he was gone, she found that instead of talking to Kelly about God, she started talking directly to Him and began a much more closer relationship than she had ever experienced before. Small heartwarming "incidents" occurred that would be little miracles of everlasting love and worked to heal Karen's pain.

Karen also shares several poems and emails from Kelly to her and shares intimate thoughts and feelings as she reread these over and over and faced and worked through her personal grief as well as that of the family.

Holding Fast is a personal testimony of families who place their faith in God. There is still the pain of loss that all of us must go through. But when confronted with fear and frustration and the potential loss of loved ones, there was no question in anybody's mind: God was a part of their daily lives and present as they waited and, finally, felt the pain of losing their loved ones...for a time.

Turn to this book when you need to see courage and faith in action. It will help you...hold fast... too! Thank you, Karen James, for giving us Holding Fast!

G. A. Bixler
For Thomas Nelson