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Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

The munchkins and I (along with my mom, my youngest sister and two friends) went on a five hour adventure through Cades Cove this past Sunday. The experience was fun, educational and breathtakingly beautiful. Here is a gallery of our time there. ¬†Happy viewing! ūüôā

Stay tuned for my next post, “Life Lessons: What I Learned from Our Adventure in Cades Cove”!

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I hear my alarm on the nightstand beside me and quickly push snooze. I groggily check to see what time it is. Five a.m. And still dark outside. I lie¬†in bed¬†and debate. I could snuggle into the soft sheets and warm blankets of this bed, cuddled up to¬†my sleeping husband¬†for the next two and¬†a half hours,¬†and start¬†the¬†long day ahead of me with a solid five hours of sleep…

Or I could drag my tired body out of bed and spend my last morning on the island watching the sunrise.

My exhaustion tells me to stay.

But my hunger for the experience that awaits me, for the memories I will take home with me, speaks louder.

I roll out of bed.

I slip on my black stretch pants, pull a blue shirt over my head and slide my feet into a pair of  flip-flops. I grab my phone and car keys off the nightstand and tip-toe out the bedroom door.

The house contains an unfamiliar quiet.

I make my way down the tiled staircase, careful to keep my flip-flops from flip-flopping too loudly, unlock the side door and step out onto a wooden landing. I take my first breath of the cool, salty air and descend a second set of stairs. I glance at my surroundings. Every color is muted, a landscape made up of varying shades of gray. Houses that have been painted every color of the rainbow, bushes and palm trees usually a deep shade of green, flowers in their array of pinks and reds and purples: all muted. All gray.

I¬†hop into my hubby’s xterra.

I drive three miles, passing a cluster of massive hotels, dozens of houses on stilts, one convenience store and acres and acres of sand, sidewalk and palm trees. I reach a giant sign. This sign marks the end of the developed stretch of the island and the beginning of paradise: the seven miles of uninterrupted sand and ocean that I found on my long run five days before.

One point four miles later I pull into a small parking lot, park the xterra facing east, and turn off the engine.

I roll down the windows. Immediately, my ears are filled with the sound of the ocean, the endless, soothing rhythm of the waves as they crash onto the sand. I inhale deeply. Close my eyes. Inhale again. Open my eyes and drink in my surroundings. Could there be a more magical place on earth? There is fifty feet of sand beside me, then ocean for as far as the eye can see. The gray water follows itself all the way to the horizon. For a while I get lost in its infiniteness. The rolling water is hypnotic and I find myself relaxing into this experience.

Eventually I turn my attention back to the scene that is unfolding in front of me. I sit facing east and watch as slowly, steadily, the coming light begins to touch the sky. The low-lying clouds hide the sun as it peeks out of the horizon.  I watch them evolve from their muted gray to a light pink, then to a deeper, reddish pink. The sky around them turns almost blue.

The landscape in my rearview mirror is still gray. The light has not yet reached the west.

The constantly changing colors filling the eastern sky keep me fascinated. Everything about this place, this moment, feels right. Contentedness runs through my veins.

An hour passes quickly.

Around six-thirty the sun’s rays burst through the low-lying cloud cover. The sight is glorious. They light up the entire sky, turn the water into a sea of blue diamonds, turn the sand into a radiant white. They color the eastern sky a deep gold, the western sky a deep blue.

And they leave me with three thoughts that I have taken home with me, that I am still thinking of today.

1) I serve a magnificent God. Who chose a grand creation. And when I take the time to stop and notice, His brilliant design always leaves me breathless.

2) It has never been more clear to me as it was that morning, as I witnessed the¬†power of the sun’s light, how appropriate it is that we call our God and His Son, the Light.¬†The earth was transformed that morning. Everything the light touched was changed. From a dark and colorless mass emerged¬†a distinct landscape bursting with brilliance and color. What a beautiful metaphor for the shape our hearts and our lives can take when they are touched by¬†the Light.

3) I need to experience a purer form of His creation more often. I want this. My spirit craves this. More often than every once in awhile, I must leave this busy city and get lost in His creation.

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As many of you know, I am a list maker. I make lists for everything. I like making lists. Making lists helps me put order into, what I feel is, an otherwise disorderly world.

I am also a journal keeper. I¬†keep journals for everything. I like keeping journals. I have a prayer/spiritual journal,¬†a journal about my son, a journal about my daughter, a journal to my husband, a food and exercise journal¬†and a misc. journal (just in case there are any other thoughts that don’t fit into the previous categories. Hah! Is that even possible?)

So at Book Club on Saturday, when¬†my friend¬†pulled out a tall stack of journals and a pile of magazines, tape, scissors, and glue and told us that our art project for the day, if we chose to include ourselves, was to pick out a journal and decorate the cover with magazine clippings of our choosing, my first thought was, “What in the world am I gonna do with another journal?”

I loved the idea (one she got from the book we had just read, “Eat Pray Love”) and thought the decorating part sounded like fun, but I couldn’t think of a single thing to use it for (which¬†meant I couldn’t think of how I wanted to decorate it either). So I sat for many minutes, watching¬† my friends create their journals and listening to their thoughts and ideas before¬†having my own- the idea of¬†keeping a ¬†“Happiness Journal”.

Let me explain.

I believe the idea came to me because of what I have been struggling with off and on over the last month- just being happy. This has been a struggle of mine, off and on, my whole life (I believe because of my temperament, though that is another discussion for another time) but it has been particularly bad this past month. (Perhaps it is because of this dreary weather, perhaps because of a tragedy that occured in our family last month, perhaps because of hormones or my temperament or just my choices, I don’t know.) What I do know¬†is that I don’t like it. I have been too blessed in this life to be struggling¬†this much to have a peaceful and joyful spirit.

So this is¬†my plan: to use my “Happiness Journal” for happy thoughts (things I am thankful for, excited about, looking forward to, etc.); and to include in it¬†articles I find, quotes I hear, notes I receive, pictures I take and lists that¬†I make of things that I love and enjoy and find beautiful, things that inspire me and encourage me, things that lighten my spirit, things¬†that bring joy to my heart and peace to my soul. Things that¬†remind me to be…happy.

I also want to make it a series, in hopes that you all will be blessed by my “Happiness Journal” as well. Let me know if you make your own! I would love to hear about it! ūüôā

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It was several weeks ago that Meadow and I watched the movie “Secret Garden”, a movie (and book) that I enjoyed as a young girl. The movie is striking to me, for many reasons, but the one that has stayed with me these last few weeks is the absolutely breathtaking and almost unbelievable beauty of the secret garden, after which the movie is titled. As I experienced this movie, sitting on my couch, in the den of our house, in the middle of the big city that is Nashville, I got lost. Lost in the lush greenery covering¬†almost every inch of the garden’s grounds and spilling over the garden’s stone walls. Lost in the¬†stunning contrast of color between the gray of the stones and the green of the vines. ¬†Lost in the kaleidoscope¬†fashioned by the reds and pinks and purples and yellows and blues of each flower, thousands of them, growing so abundantly as to¬†leave a person¬†barely enough room to wander through¬†them or, as I did,¬†get lost in them. A thrill for the senses, even through a tv screen.

The movie ends with a shot of Mary’s hand, holding a flower as she says, “The spell was broken. My uncle learned to laugh and I learned to cry. The secret garden is always open now. Open…and awake…and alive. If you look the right way you can see that the whole world is a garden.”

Which got me thinking…

…about¬†where I find my own garden – those¬†little experiences, each day, when, even if only for a moment, I get lost in the beauty of this world.

And I realized…

…I find my garden when I¬†sit in the back yard, on a¬†beautiful day,¬†while my children are napping, and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, the freshness of the air in my lungs, and the quiet of an afternoon spent outdoors. I find it each time I see the bouquet of flowers sitting on my kitchen counter, the one my husband brought me, just because. I find it¬†when I read one chapter of a really good book before I go to sleep at night. I find it when I look through my wedding scrapbook (the one I worked really hard on and am very proud of, the only scrapbook I have ever finished! ūüôā ) and remember the moments of that amazing day, almost seven years ago.¬†I find it when I overhear the hilarious and often heartwarming conversations between my children, and between my children and their friends. I find it in the morning, when I sit at my dining room table, eating breakfast, reading my Bible, writing in my prayer journal, and feeling God’s spirit fill the room around me. I find it in a¬†favorite song, a¬†well-made movie, a thoughtful note written to me by my husband or a close friend. I find it while I am running on the trails at River Park, breathing heavy but¬†steady and thanking God for¬†the strong and healthy body that He has blessed me with. I find it in a kiss from my son, a smile from my daughter, and the peaceful faces of my sleeping children when I go in to check on them¬†late in the¬†night.¬†¬†I find it in the arms of my devoted and always forgiving husband and in the acceptance and loyalty of my precious friends and family. I find it in the sunset, in the sunrise, in the blooms of spring and the leaves of fall, in the sounds of a thunderstorm and in the colors of the rainbow that is soon to follow.

And I ask…where is your garden? Because…

…beauty is everywhere. We just have to find it…experience it…appreciate it…and maybe even get lost in it.

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