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Friday, February 15, 2013

This week in the Appalachian Mountains..and some other cool stuff

I just got back from a two week vacation.
All I can say is that every moment of every day was full. Dave took me to see Zero Dark Thirty. It was good, but depressing.
I saw one of my best friends get married. I had the chance to laugh with old friends.  I took the boys to play Putt Putt. Little Bear made a hole in one. My sweet Cade made at least 5. He was so proud that he won some sort of chicken sandwich coupon from a fried chicken eatery.

I attempted the batting cages and realized  how desperately out of shape I am.

On Saturday, the boys and I rented a car  ( mine is still in the shop and the insurance is covering most of my rental fees :) !! ) , and headed out west.. actually we were planning on heading somewhere in the northwest (possibly Utah) when my sister called me. We changed course right past the Texas border and headed to North Carolina.   I am still so happy that she called because I know that I would have been scratching my head in Utah wondering what on earth I was doing there by myself with two young boys.

So, we drove the 15 hour drive to North Carolina. I fell in love with the heated seats of the rental car, and we listened to the Les Miserables soundtrack at least 10 ten times.

We stopped in Atlanta for Starbucks. It is worth noting that a random stranger paid for my coffee. His kindness set something in motion, so I paid it forward and I'm hoping that the next person paid it forward and a good portion of the city of Atlanta got free coffee for the day.
I started thinking about how kindness and love are the one language that we can all understand regardless of whatever religion we practice or rituals we feel we must heed.  I started thinking about how the aim of the darkness is to take away the joy that kindness brings. I thought about how it all too often succeeds in doing just that and how beautiful the world would be if we all truly understood that in Christ there is power of darkness. I thought about how kindness inspires others to think about God, even if for a brief moment. It's like people see something Higher, Something Bigger, and Something Beautiful in small and simple acts of love.

We arrived at my sisters house on Sunday afternoon. On Monday we ventured out to try a restaurant called The Pelican. It was one of those restauraunts from the televison show, Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. I have always wanted to eat at one of the places featured on the show. On Monday, my dream turned reality as I bit into one of the most amazing bleu cheese burgers that I have ever tasted.
Apparently, the restaurant  was also featured on the show, Man Versus Food. Cade, a major foodie, felt that his life would'nt be complete without ordering a burger that boasted of an entire pound of meat. Even  though I am no fan of gluttony, I obliged him and secretly laughed as he made a feeble attempt to eat a burger half the size of his head. I wanted to say, "you only live once"... but, I don't believe that. Anyone, who reads my blog knows that I know that life doesn't end when we die and life is not measured in experience but is a measure of all that we can be for and in Christ Jesus.

But I have found that it is good to live life as if today will be our last, and if that meant indulging Cade with a massive hunk of meat to make him happy, then so be it. Guilty as charged.

On Tuesday, we boarded the youngsters in my sister's minivan and headed north to the Appalachian Mountains. We rode on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a few miles, but it was closed. Toward the middle of the afternoon, we rode to a place that boasted of a waterfall. In order to get to the waterfall, however, we would have to trek a mile and way..then, we would have to walk back. For some reason, my sister thought this was a good idea even though the sign said the trail was "Strenuous"

So, even though I was hesitant, we set out toward the falls. Keep in mind that we had no cell phone, dusk was less than two hours away, and we were toting a total of five children and one on the way..(oops, Sarah, I hope you aren't mad at me :)
Anyway, by the time we made it to falls, I was trying to supress my anger at my lovely sis. I quickly came to realize how grossly out of shape I really am and began to rue every burger and fries that I had eaten in the past month and a half.   The way back up was even worse. Little Bren needed to be carried for part of the way back and it was an uphill climb. I kept finding myself needing to stop and rest every five minutes and realized that the meaning of the word, "strenous" really means that thirty somethings who haven't worked out in the last decade are going to get really winded, as no one else was having any problems making the climb back to the car.

Anyhow, we made it, and a few days later, I was actually glad that I let my sister talk me into the hike. It reminded me of my need to at least attempt to live a healthier lifestyle.

So, as you can see, these past few weeks have been very, very full. I started my own YouTube Channel, but I haven't posted to facebook as of yet. I also got approved to be a blogger for Gospel for Asia. :)

I watched the movie, Into the Wild and fell in love with true life story of Christopher McCanless. He was a young man who had been deeply affected by the materialism and rocky relationship of his parents.  He graduated college, but realized that his goal was not the pursuit of wealth, but the pursuit of Truth. So, abandoned his car and gave away his entire life savings to charity. He found beauty in nature, lived the life of a vagabond, and made many friends along the way. At the end of his life, he found forgiveness for his family and gave God the credit for his happy life. 
I don't want this to be one of those neverending blogs, but I would like to share what I learned while watching this movie.. I'm actually working on a separate blog post dedicated solely to talking about the movie.

As I watched, I couldn't help but contrast Chris' life to what is being taught in our churches today. I found it ironic that a man with seemingly everything and the world at his fingertips, realized that truth and beauty don't lie in our things.. I saw him, essentially being content with the very few things he owned. I couldn't help but contrast the act of his generosity to the greedy doctrine of the prosperity gospel that tells us that God wants us to have more and more stuff.  I found it beautiful that Chris lived a full life and it wasn't in a way that is considered a "societal" norm. He broke the mold and simply sought out the beauty of experience..and through it all he found God.  One the last things written in his journal before he died was that happiness is only real when it is shared.

I know this is getting to be really long, but I want to share the few things that I have learned this week. Keep in mind I had a really long drive and lots of time for thinking.

1. This week I had it in mind to collect magnets from every state I visited. Something told me not to do it. God spoke to me and reminded me that life is not a collection of things. We shouldn't define ourselves by how many places we visit, nor should we define ourselves by how much money we have or the things we possess. If we are to collect anything, it should simply be ..a collection of people to love. They should come in all shapes and sizes and the more diverse they are, the greater our abilty to see through nonsense.

2. This week I started thinking about I wanted to see many different states..but, states are huge chunks of land that have borders. In Heaven, there will be no borders. So even though I didn't get to see the state of Virginia this week, it is really no big deal..

3. Always have a full battery when going to see a waterfall. I missed the perfect picture of Bear perched in front of a waterfall. But, I suppose that it doesn't really matter. It is an image that will be ingrained in my mind for the rest of my life.

4. Let the boy eat the huge may be gluttonous, but do it because you love him so much. It's ok to bend a little sometimes when it is done in the spirit of love.

5. For number five, I want to share a verse that has been on my heart lately.. "We fulfull the Law of Christ when we Bear One Another's Burden's." So often, we think we have to do cartwheels and jump through hoops, but when we take care of one another, it greatly pleases Christ. It fulfills the law, so it must be pretty important.

6. If you get the chance, pay it forward.

7. If you happen to rent a nice car and you see a button that looks like "ON*) That is the Onstar symbol, and even though that is a luxury that I will probably never have on my own, it is a wonderful tool for finding Starbucks in the middle of Mississippi.

8. Plan better. The whole time we were driving, I wished I had more time in the places I drove through. I drove through Jackson at 1 something in the morning and Atlanta at a really odd hour. I have family who live in both places. I wanted to call them up so badly but I was on a tight schedule, so next time I will plan better

9. Friends and family are priceless.

10. The other day I started thinking about the subject of marriage. I have actually heard a lot of interesting things on the subject. One is that there is no marriage in Heaven. I actually like that idea. I started thinking that it makes sense because in Heaven, we are all family. In life, wouldn't do us good to treat everyone around us like a long lost brother or sister? 

Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mts.

Wild Turkeys along the Blue Ridge Parkway

I love tunnels

My lovely sis and Ms. Ruth playing shy

My baby's first trip to the mountains. I love his sweet face!

My niece, Jadah

Mr. Bear, pretending that he doesn't like his picture taken.

Cade's massive "man vs. food" burger!


Our diners, drive-ins, and dives experience..

Ice along the mountain..brrr

Could it really be snow? Yes, it's snow!

I love this boy!

 I love my Cade!

My free Starbucks, courtesy of a nice random stranger. I think he was from India.

A japanese Cherry Blossom :) Beautiful

My first trip ever to World Market

The Brisish Aisle. This brings back good memories

Goofin' off

a little nook called The Shepherd's Place in northern NC

Sleepy Bear woke up in a hotel and didn't know where he was.

This is the season of laughter.

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