Resiliency: A Story About My Brother

Hello friends. Haley here. I am writing today with what I hope will be inspirational to you in some way. Maybe that’s what you’re in need of. A little something to help you over the hump. Some nugget of wisdom or ray of sunshine that will help you press on through a present difficulty or trial. Or maybe you just need some affirmation to help you pursue something that you long to do, but question if you’re able. So today, I want to use my brother, Tripp Hipple, as the source of said inspiration. He will deny that he is such, but beauty [and inspiration] are in the eye of the beholder, I assure you!

Tripp is 27 years old. He lives in Denver, CO. He has a full-time job, as well as a full-time training schedule as a triathlete. He departs tomorrow for Kona, HI where he will compete in the Ironman World Championship next Saturday. As an older sister, this is a profoundly proud moment. To Tripp, he never feels he has “arrived” or that he is as strong of a contender as he wants to be. But when I see where he is today, I think he’s an inspirational hero. I think he is doing something that is far beyond what we ever thought possible even 4 years ago, and I’ll tell you why…

Tripp flew into Oakland, CA in August of 2010 to help me move back to Denver. I stood down by baggage claim and watched as Tripp stepped onto the escalator from the floor above. I instantly choked back my own tears. He was gaunt, pale, sickly, and he walked with total discomfort and stiffness. His feet and legs were inflexible and rigid. His body was under serious duress, which had been increasing for some time. But no answers yet. I had to pull myself together and greet him without letting on to the fact that I was in some sort of shock. Who was this guy? Where was my brother?

Tripp walking CA

  Painful to walk at times

Rewind a bit to Tulsa. Towards the end of Tripp’s college years, he began running frequently, and doing an occasional race in town. He worked up to running marathons for fun, and in that, he found a new hobby. He was seemingly healthy and fit. And for those who know Tripp, they know he’s been an athlete his entire life. Competitive gymnast and diver, skateboarder, snowboarder.

Fast forward back to 2010, and Tripp’s body was attacking itself. It took him ages to walk up or down a flight of stairs. The pain was intense, but yet his doctors kept telling him to stay active, to walk, to ride a stationary bike, to do whatever he could to maintain the amount of flexibility and movement he did have.

Always handsome, but definitely wasn't feeling the best during this time

                     Always handsome, but he definitely wasn’t feeling the best during this time

I’ll never forget our drive back from California to Colorado. As we crossed the desert, we talked and brainstormed about what might be causing all of these issues. Clearly not medical professionals ourselves, but just two siblings hoping to arrive at some significant insight or answer. “Is it food related?” I asked. “No, the doctors say it isn’t.” “Is this some sort of severe allergic reaction?” “No, they don’t think so.” On and on we went.

Tripp had been diagnosed with a form of arthritis that is quite rare and only presents itself in young males. He began treatment for it but other issues had already surfaced. Ulcers from taking too many Advil for the pain. Anemia. Something still wasn’t right. Finally, after 2+ years of searching for answers, they arrived at a conclusion. Celiac Disease.

Tripp had lost almost all of his muscle definition. He wasn’t able to run and exercise like he had before. He was a muted version of himself. He was angry at times, and frustrated with the situation and pain. He wondered why it was happening. We all did.

Fast forward to 2014. Tripp won his age group at the Texas Ironman in May. He is not only running again (and is faster than he ever has been), but he is swimming and cycling to boot! He is the fittest and healthiest I have ever seen him. He is inspirational. Yes, I am biased sibling. But I am encouraged and inspired nonetheless! His journey has been intense, and the payoff is exceedingly joyful!

Tripp is a living picture of RESILIENCY. defines resilience/resiliency as “1) the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched. 2) The ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like. Merriam-Webster online defines resilience as “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.”

Tripp not only bounced back after pressing adversity, but he is stronger, faster, healthier, wiser, and more determined than ever before. If you know Tripp, you know that he is outrageously disciplined with his training schedule. He is committed. He is invested. He is in the sport 200%. This is the mark of someone who went through the fire and came out refined, stronger, and solid.

“Endurance builds character.” These are words coined by Tripp Hipple. It’s the motto of his life, and it’s true of him.

Ironman TX 2014

                                                                            Ironman TX 2014

Ironman TX 2014

                                                                    Ironman TX 2014

Today, I celebrate as I see the power of resiliency! I celebrate the impact of my brother’s story and the way it has and will continue to strengthen many others who find themselves in the dark and difficult places of life. Be encouraged today!

Resilience If you’d like to follow Tripp’s athletic career, feel free to check out his website and to follow his page on Facebook.

Dear, Uniquely You…

Today, I (Sandy) would like to celebrate YOU!

Why? Because you are unique. You may say, “What is so unique about me?”… Well, that’s a great question!

In Scripture, the Psalmist writes, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139:14).” The Living Bible Translation translates this verse, saying, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.”

The context of this verse discusses the incredible nature of our physical bodies. The human being is the most complex organism in the world, and that complexity speaks volumes about the mind of its Creator, the Creator of the Universe. Every aspect of the body, down to the tiniest microscopic cell, reveals that each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made!

So you were created as a one-of-a-kind! Completely unique. And when something is unique, it is the only one. No one has ever existed exactly like you before, and no one will ever be exactly like you again.

But… just because you are “uniquely you,” the “only one,” does not mean that you have to be alone! In fact, some current research on friendship suggests that 72% of women can increase their endorphin levels just by chatting with a pal for 15 minutes each day. Friendly communication stimulates the brain and ramps up endorphin production in much the same way that exercise does (University of Rochester, New York). It is also interesting to note that studies have shown that even watching others do acts of kindness towards others can benefit the health of the person witnessing those acts!

So what does this mean? That we are healthier when we are connecting and nourishing our relationships! 

Walt Whitman captured this truth in his iconic quote…

 Walt Whitman quote

So what do we see in Scripture about being both unique on our own and unique within the larger community of Christ? The simple way that the Apostle Paul penned the letters of the New Testament will shed some light on this…

In Ephesians 1:1 he writes, “To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus…” Paul is addressing the larger community of the church. A community composed of many unique individuals. And in Ephesians 6:10-11 he states, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…” (NIV). It is interesting to note that the “you” addressed is always in the plural and not the singular.

So, while speaking about celebrating your uniqueness, I am also speaking about celebrating our identity as who we are in Christ together. All of “You’s” are made to be unique individuals set within the greater community of God. You, as “the only one,” fit together in the church that you attend (and within the church worldwide) to create a totally unique community made up of unique gifts or charisms which God gives. And these gifts are intended to enrich and expand the kingdom of God!

So, who are YOU anyway? And who are WE together?

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that, “…we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (NIV). God has great things in store for you, Uniquely You.

Gallery display - vintage gold frames on an old timber wall




Nixing the naysayers


Naysayers. Those cynical individuals who immediately tell you why something will not work or why you are incapable of doing that which you’ve set your mind to. And of course, these downer folks are always quick to comment, offer their negative feedback, and leave you reeling, thinking “Why did I ever choose to share that with them?” If confronted on their negative-Nelly tendencies, they will defensively retort and claim that they only have your best interest in mind. They don’t want you to fail or hurt yourself. But in all reality, there is a lot more going on behind their negativity and their recurring desire to tear down any positive progress in your life. Let’s unpack this a bit…

  • They feel threatened. Though you went to them, trustingly, and shared about your new ideas, ambitions, goals, dreams, and achievements, simply for support, they heard you saying “I am better than you.” “I am on the brink of something exciting and you aren’t.” “I am competent and you are not,” and other such demeaning self-talk. Notice how I bolded the you in these examples. These individuals feel that everything you say to them is really about them. You may have a stellar idea to share, but all they feel, while listening, is that their ideas aren’t as great. So in turn, they self identify as failures.
  • What does this lead to?…… NAYSAYING. One of the quickest ways for insecure, threatened people to feel okay with themselves is to bash whatever it is that they perceive will set you above them. But be aware…career naysayers are skilled in being subtle. Passive-agressiviness is often their most handy tool. So instead of degrading your new concept and excitement over it outright, they will come through the back door with slights and snubs. Little comments and facial expressions that give you that odd twinge of tension and self-doubt. You’ll leave the conversation wondering what role that person fills in your life. Friend or foe? Support or wrecking ball? Or sometimes you’ll leave just plain confused. “What just happened back there?! They smiled at me, yet ate my dreams for lunch!”

So what do we do about these friendly foes? And how do we keep pressing forward in spite of the negativity?

  • Choose wisely. Be selective about WHO you share with, WHAT you share with them, and WHEN you share. Not everyone should be privy to the deep desires and passions of your heart. I am a classic over sharer. I was deemed the “social butterfly” on way too many school report cards and I know how to keep a conversation going. Sometimes this leads me to over share about things that are sacred to me. Ideas, concepts, plans, etc., that are still in seedling form, and are, in turn, fragile. The same might apply to you? The last thing you need to do is share on a whim with someone who is ready, hoe-in-hand, to uproot what you have been praying about and planning for. Not everyone is a trusty confidant… even those you may assume you could safely share with. So pray for wisdom, discernment, and the ability to know who is FOR you, and what you should share when the right time comes.
  • Work your drawbridge. I pulled this imagery from an amazing devotional excerpt by Henri Nouwen. He spoke of the drawbridge as a metaphor for healthy boundaries. It takes time and wisdom to learn when we need to let our drawbridge down, to open our gates and become accessible. Then there are the times when we need to crank it closed and keep people/things from coming in or going out when they don’t need to! The drawbridge is meant as a protective measure. Your fresh, God-inspired ideas are like the crown jewels of your heart. Not everyone should be allowed over your drawbridge, because then, anyone and everyone has access to the valuables. They are open, exposed, and vulnerable. BUT…there are the times when the drawbridge should be lowered. When there is safety and trust to let certain people close; those whom are deserving and able to handle the crown jewels with the utmost care, love, and respect.
  • Surround yourself with YAYSAYERS! It’s amazing how many naysayers there are in comparison to yaysayers. The yaysayers are definitely a smaller minority, and so, you may only have a couple that are worthy to stay close to you, within your inner circle. These people are the ones who will actually listen and rejoice with you! They will provide valuable feedback, insights, and encouragement. They have the security and self-assuredness to celebrate your accomplishments without feeling that it’s damaging their own self worth. Your gain is not their loss. And your loss is not their gain.