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Posts Tagged ‘the great outdoors’

my travel companions

The trip was a last minute one. And a first for me and the kids, seeing as we had never before left town with just the three (ok, technically four) of us in the van. But my hard working hubby needed to stay in Nashville and work and my mom, dad, youngest sister, two friends and grandmother (the crew we would be spending the weekend with) all left town on Thursday (a day before we were able to get away). And even though packing and cleaning and loading by myself was a bit overwhelming (mostly because my very pregnant body makes everything overwhelming these days), the six year old was a huge help and the four hour drive went so smoothly I would actually describe the time as enjoyable! I did miss my hubby those three days (and the kids missed their daddy!) but I am so thankful we decided to go! The time away was worth every ounce of extra energy it took to get out of town.

The three days were quiet, peaceful (other than some major struggles with my three year old. another post for another time.) and relaxing and took place surrounded by breathtaking views of The Great Smoky Mountains. And as it always does, getting out of the city gave me the time, the distance and the space to reflect and calibrate…

So, here are a few of my thoughts and reflections in no particular order:

1) You don’t have to fly to Hawaii or Europe to see spectacular sights, sights you may never have had the privilege of seeing before. There are more of them than you think, closer than you think and they are worth looking for!

2) My boy is, well, just that- a boy. And he needs time out of this house. Time to explore and get dirty and burn off his surplus of energy. Just because one of us is carrying around an extra 30 pounds and would prefer to lay on the couch all day, doesn’t mean we all feel that way…

3) It’s a whole lot easier for me to believe that all of this was created by a Creator than that it all began by chance or coincidence or a meteor.

4) I may have been born in the wrong century. We spent our three days in a cabin in the woods with no internet or television and, somewhat surprisingly, I did not miss either in the slightest. (Yes, I am aware of the irony of posting that statement on my blog. Technology does have it’s advantages.)

5) I packed less than I’ve ever packed for a trip and we still didn’t use everything I brought. Maybe someday I will get this whole simplifying/minimalism thing figured out…

6) My enormous belly gets me way more attention than I am comfortable with. I cannot remember the last time I showed up somewhere and didn’t have a stranger ask me if I was about to go into labor. I suppose that could have something to do with the fact that that portion of my torso now enters a room a good ten inches before the rest of me does…but does it have to get comments everywhere I go?

7) I love, love, love to walk and run and hike and I am so excited to be able to do those things to my heart’s content again in the very near future!!!

8 ) God blessed me with an incredibly loving and supportive family, something for which I am constantly and eternally grateful!

(This post would more appropriately be titled, “Life Lessons: What I Learned and What I Was Reminded of During Our Three Days in Gatlinburg and from Our Adventure in Cades Cove”. But that seemed a bit wordy for a blog post title…)

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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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