Thursday, May 28, 2015

Trail Report: Rainbow Falls to LeConte & Back via Bull Head

Yesterday I participated in Wordless Wednesday with a GIF of my experience at Mt. LeConte. My friend Gretchen and I took a hike on Memorial day to enjoy the climb (and the view, and the snacks that are mandatory).

My only other trip to the top via Rainbow Falls had been in the winter, and she had never been before. Once we got past the falls, the remaining 4 miles were a new adventure.

Instead of covered in snow, like my previous visit, the loose rocks affected the stability of our footing. The path seemed to be covered in many places, as if it were a dry creek bed.

With the air warm and humid, we stopped several times along the way up for snacks and water, but left the majority of our lunch for the picnic tables just outside of LeConte Lodge.

Snacks, a (non-flushing) toilet, and a quick post to Facebook (yes, she had service up there) then we were ready to finish the climb to some of the best views in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

We stopped to add our rocks to High Point. As the name suggests, its the highest point on LeConte. I'm sure the same rocks get added and fall off all the time, but its a fun way to commemorate each trip up to the top.

The path continues even further, now traveling at a slight decline to get to Myrtle Point. From the lodge and our chosen route to the top, the point about three quarters of a mile (one way) further and worth every step.

I'm not a photographer by any means, and its probably difficult to believe but the pictures just couldn't do the scenery justice. Jay always says just a couple of clouds on a clear day make for the best pictures. If that's the case we couldn't ask for a better day. Layers upon layers of mountains, puffy clouds, and sunshine made it perfect.

We took in the view, relaxed, then goofed around and got some pictures.

As always, this photo isn't what it seems. My legs were hidden, laying on a rock just below the rock which I am grasping. If it were truly dangerous, pictures like this wouldn't be entertaining, they'd be foolish.

I could have stayed up there all day, but we had another 7 miles to hike to get back to the car. Begrudgingly, we packed up and headed down the trail.

Safe to say, the rest of the afternoon was downhill from there. Tee hee. See what I did there? During the winter Bull Head is reported to have good views, and I could see slivers through the trees on Monday. However with the trees and bushes ready for summer, they were more "stop and look" views, rather than those which could be appreciate in passing.

We ended up covering 14 miles in just over 6 hours, making for an excellent holiday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

High on Life

Taken at Myrtle's Point on Mt. LeConte
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Friday, May 22, 2015

Paradise: Maintained

Earlier in the week, I blogged about our new neighbors. The more I've prayed about the situation the more I've heard the selfishness in my prayer.

My creek.
I need quiet.
My solitude is heavenly.

I've read two different authors (one a blogger, another a book I borrowed from the library) recount how their children were called down for being noisy. Hesitantly, I admit that I've been that person. Sure, the kids were trespassing at the time, but their laughter carrying into my home took me outside to politely (always) let them know they had crossed over the common area boundary.

You read that right.

I'm the crotchy old fart yelling:

The book I just finished is called The Nesting Place: It Doesn't have to be Perfect to be Beautiful, by Myquillyn Smith offers tips on making the most of the home you have now, not the home you desire. Only my perspective requires a bit of a shift.

I have the home I desire, but fear losing it. To foreclosure? To a cross-country move, ripping me from my family and friends? To a third-world country on the mission field. Thankfully, no. Not even close. 

Am I so pampered to think that 1.3 acres isn't enough for me? But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 1 Timothy 6:8 Verse after verse, story after story keep pointing me back to that difficult elusive word: contentment. Not only with what I already have, but whatever will come.

The other night, Jay and I were playing basketball in the common area parking lot. A truck passed the community pool and the playground and went past our private property sign (we share a driveway with the HOA common area.) I stopped playing and gave them the stink eye, but don't worry, they were far enough away not to see.

A bit later, Jay and I headed back toward our house and I made a comment about their dog. We exchanged pleasantries with them, which we hadn't previously done. "You live there?" the man asked. 

Jay, assuming the guy was asking if the play-set was on our property responded "That's our house, but this is common area. You're allowed to play here." 

"But that's your house? You live there? That's really nice." 
Then his wife spoke up "yeah we thought that was an extra parking area." Turns out, they didn't want to park where we were playing basketball and interrupt our game. As I was giving them the stink eye, they were trying to be considerate of us. 

I learned a couple of things from this exchange.: People who don't know us think we have a sweet house. AND A lot of them don't suck as badly as I think.

While I envy those I read about on exotic mission fields, I know that's not God's call for my life. At least not now. What if I'm called to be a witness here? To love my neighbor, even though its a different person every week. How many people could I reach out to in Jesus's name, when the cabin next door sleeps 28, and could rent up to 250 nights per year (divided by 4 night stays = 60 renter groups.)

What if He's bringing the mission field to me?
God-forbid I respond by putting up a No Trespassing sign.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Paradise: Upset

Last week, I referenced big changes coming to Camp FTW. My intention was not to be coy or mysterious, but rather keeping the focus on the subject at hand (in this particular case, gratitude to God for my blessings). Since focus is a daily struggle, I thought I would compose a separate blog post regarding the changes.

This post could also be titled Don't Know What You've Got Until Its {Almost} Gone. Jay and I found out last weekend that the home directly in front of ours has changed hands.

 Cinderella's Castle (as the HOA refers to it) existed as a vacation home.  Since the day we moved in, we've never met the owners. We've never even seen them at the place.

A couple of weeks ago, the property began to show signs of life. People stopped by to inspect the pond and surrounding property. Then, work began on the house.

Jay went over on Sunday to introduce himself and be nosey. As of June, the house is available for nightly rental. The peace and quiet I now enjoy, sitting on my front porch listening to the creek, will most likely disappear.

A fresh crop of renters will appear most every week. More than likely they will splash in the creek just feet from my home. As with Sunday, their chatter will penetrate my bedroom door, and I'll hear them whilst trying to enjoy a peaceful afternoon nap. The peace and tranquility I find in my hammock will be no more.

PS - Yes, I am in that picture - my head is to the right.

Tragic? Hardly
First World Problem? Without a doubt
Something God cares about? Absolutely

I don't mean to imply that my Abba will fix it for me. I don't expect a miracle to happen and all-of-a-sudden the creek noises will drown out the sounds of children playing. HOWEVER He has all the hairs on my head numbered. Not one falls to the ground without him knowing. (Ask Jay - not even I can keep up with all the stray fallen hairs around the house).

If you would be so kind as to say a prayer for me, I seek God's wisdom. Should we stay and strive to love my transient neighbor as Jesus commanded? Should we move, considering this a prompting to turn the cabin into an investment opportunity? 

Somehow (gee thanks Holy Spirit), I doubt my personal urge to get 10+ acres and build a home surrounded by nature and isolation is the direction He wants us to go. Whatever the case, I know He will go with me. Somehow, with each move (this would make 4 in less than 7 years) I'm learning His truth more and more.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Stream Implies Something Is Flowing

I sat down, started my timer, and began blogging. I've been doing poorly getting my stuffs together on the weekend to link up with Jaime. The plan was to pre-schedule the post, only nothing interesting is on my mind.

A headache has been stalking me this past month or so, coming and going as it pleases. At its worst, I have difficulty concentrating. This doesn't make for interesting blog fodder.

I decided, since today is the day I committed to my latest scripture memory verse, I'd blog about that. Only after I got the boring thoughts typed up, I realized I'd already posted practically the exact same blog a couple weeks ago.

Fun times.

I probably wasted 5 minutes setting this post up. But you're still getting some bullet points out of me.

  • My community pool opened this week. I'm excited to get out there and relax.
  • I need to work on my runner's tan. I'm wearing a strapless dress for the vow renewal ceremony next month and my racer-back tanks have done a number on my skin color
  • Allergies are still in beast-mode here. I've grown weary of seeking refuge inside.
  • My cousin, who I remember as a baby, graduates high school tonight. How can I be that old?
  • Heavy weights and HIIT are my new workout plan. I hope to do a real chin-up by the end of the summer. 
  • I just finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. These books aren't going as I'd hoped.
Having said all that - whatcha up to this weekend? Any new must-read books? Fun races on the schedule? Cool vacations coming up?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thank You, Part 2

Thank you Jesus. My life is so incredibly blessed, the stressers I face are almost laughable. Almost, because while they seem small in comparison to the struggle of others, they sure press down hard upon me.

Yesterday, I entered gift #6000 into my journal. That, itself, is a gift - to still be recognizing, recording those glimmers of heaven. Another day, month, year has been presented to me. I can appreciate it, if only I allow myself the time to meditate on that which surrounds me.

With the changes coming, both actual and anticipated, the temptation to become a malcontent will be great. The paradise I enjoy now isn't staying the same, and may well be ruined.

This doesn't give me license to complain or even become annoyed.  The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.
Praise the name of Yahweh.
Job 1:21

5959) Opportunity to help random lady at the grocery store
5960) Pre-mother's day dinner with Mama & Mamaw
5974) Nature walk + talk with the girls
5989) Words of grace to share with the hurting on Mother's day
5995) Watching new TV shows with Jay
6000) The Princess's 11th birthday
6006) Enthusiasm over new training plan

Do you look at changes with dread or excitement?
What this past week have you been thankful for?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Thank You

If I don't say thank you...

Its not because I am rude.
Its not because I am conceited.

If I don't say thank you chances are I think you are telling me a friendly lie.

You did a great job with today's Bible study lesson.
Thanks for your help on this project, I really appreciate it.
Love your outfit!

Do you mean the praise you offer? There is no way to be sure. But if I say thank you I give the impression that I believe you. That I am a stellar teacher, excellent coworker, and fashionista with an eye for pairing.

So instead I force a smile, and look quickly away.

I've spent the past couple years working to express gratitude to my Abba for the gifts in my life. Perhaps its time to teach myself to accept a compliment graciously and show others I appreciate their feedback.

How do you respond when someone offers you a compliment?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Refocus: Thankful Thursday

A case of the Mondays

A fat day

Murphy has come to visit

Whatever you want to call it, today has been one of those days. Without going too deep into pop-psychology, I feel very fragmented right now. I don't have any major decisions or obstacles ahead of me (that I know of at least), but for some reason I'm feeling overwhelmed.

My darling jumped to my rescue last night, helping me get jump-started cleaning the house for our weekend guests. At work, the one-bite-at-a-time strategy seems to be working as well. My brain just doesn't want to auto-lock on any one task.

In times like this, I find reviewing my thankful list to be helpful. Its been a while since I've done that for the blog, so I'll pick a random number to start with.

5555) Dishes to put away, my material blessings 
5600) Purse found, nothing missing
5665) Chatting with Jess before the Shamrock Marathon

5700) Biscuits and gravy
5775) Asheville dinner - watching the train
5800) S.H.I.E.L.D. watching
5885) Free date ideas
5900) Bible study teaching materials, knowledge

Honorable mention
5952) Dino nuggets
5954) Clean toilets

As I posted on Facebook last week, the fact these two made my list is a good indicator that I've gotten busyness get the better of me. 

What do you have to be thankful for this past week?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Weekend to Assemble


Have you had a chance to go see the new Avengers movie? If not, go. Now. I'll wait. Okay so maybe I'll carry on without you. But still its good. GO! Then hit me up on Twitter to chat about it!!!

Since Jay is comic-book stupid, I headed north to see the movie with my sister, BIL, and her kiddos.

*He pays so little attention, he commented on my love of Wolverine. Not understanding that the X-men movies and the Avenger movies are totally different. My sis tried to take up for him, citing Wolverine's role in Super Hero Squad** with the other avengers, but his knowledge is limited to what he's encountered via me. And up until this weekend I'd never watched SHS.

**Did you know there is a SHS member who's super power is turning into a dinosaur? My nephew knew I would love Reptil, and he was right. Best of both worlds!!

All 5 of us wore our Marvel gear (you can see the reflection of my shirt in the car window). My BIL has an Iron Man shirt, my nephew a Captain American tee, and the 3 girls had shirts with pictures of several of the heroes.


My niece had a sleepover at school after the movie, so we headed out early to go pick her up. Apparently 5th graders don't eat a lot, because I made out with some waffles, pizza, and a leftover cookie cake which the parents didn't want to take back home with them.

We had some time to kill before my nephew's soccer game, so we hit the playground of the park. Unlike runners who taper and rest up before a big race, apparently energy is limitless for children  and its no bigs to run around like a crazy person.

Despite the 5-12 age sticker on the playground equipment, I followed him around trying to keep up. Unfortunately, there were some places that 12-in-spirit just didn't count. Dangerous is fun! he proclaimed walking on top of the monkey bars.

After all our fun on the playground, my nephew went on to score 8 goals at his game. Technically they don't keep score at kinder-soccer, but he knew. We all knew.

Aren't his cleats just the coolest? I wish they made running shoes with skullz on them. They would totally be mine. I have the swimsuit with skullz for tri-training. Now to lose 10 pounds so I don't look like a stuffed sausage.

My sister, niece, and I went fabric shopping after the game. The Princess is now a fashion designer - complete with her own Etsy shop. Creative just isn't my thing (my sister says the same) so how she got the eye for pairing fabrics amazes me. I hand picked my own material and will be blogging about her store again in the future. Perhaps a giveaway??

Back at the house, my nephew and I played army outside. He has an electric car (hand-me-down from his big sis, which he transformed from purple to camo), so I borrowed a bike to have wheels for myself. I'd heard tales from my mother of how exhausting running after the car could be.


Yesterday wasn't really blog worthy, but I feel like I must include it to be able to title this "weekend." Church and Bible study yesterday morning, then I went home and took a long afternoon nap. When Jay and I woke up, he went out to do yard work while I cleaned toilets. Exciting stuff huh?

We ended the evening with more relaxation - this time in the form of a Netflix movie and TV shows in our DVR.

What was your favorite part of the weekend? Any recommendations on must-watch shows to catch up on during the summer hiatus?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

SOCS - Travel

I referenced my upcoming cruise a couple of posts ago. I suppose I haven't talked about it much because it seemed so far away. One of those too-good-to-be-true kinda things. Its been in the works for months, so its hard for me to realize its about 6 weeks away.

Last summer, my friend Holly mentioned wanting to renew her wedding vows to her hubby for their 20th anniversary, because they didn't have a wedding. She invited Jay and I (along with some other friends) to join them, and asked me to be the matron of honor at her ceremony.

When I visited in March, she and I went dress shopping. She'd already picked out and ordered her dress, and we were able to find one complimentary for me. I'm excited to share pictures of it after the big event (you'll get no photo spoilers here!) because after trying on at least a dozen choices, we found one that looks great for my body type.

She & her husband, along with the other friends on the cruise, are all seasoned travelers. Jay and I are the only 2 going who haven't been on a trip like this before. I've been picking her brain these past few months for random tips. (I'm always open for more if you've cruised and have sage advice for this newbie!)

I'm sharing this post over at Jaime's today as part of her Stream of Consciousness weekend series. The only rules are as follows: set a timer for 5 minutes and write whatever is on your mind.
Are you linking up? I try to catch everyone who posts on Jaime's page, but also please let me know in the comments. Of course the crazier the post, the more I love it. Don't leave me hanging! Please and thank you.