Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Well...

This whole blogging thing hasn't been working out so much for me lately. These have been three of the most tumultuous weeks. I could go into all the details, but I won't right now. Sometimes I just have to take a step back and focus on how God is moving in my life...how He is using my circumstances to refine my character...what path He wants me to follow...how He needs to correct my course.

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We spent last weekend in Gatlinburg, and as hard as it was to pack for a trip in the middle of all the chaos of late, I was so glad we went. We needed it more than air. It wasn't the most pleasant of days just getting out the door Friday, but once we got there, it seemed like the fog lifted. We had a lot of fun...a lot of laughs...a break from all the stress. Without planning to, we ended up on a rigorous outing on Saturday afternoon. What our oldest nephew and his wife described as "rock hopping" turned into more of a boulder-climbing, stream-fording, rock-HUGGING experience, wrought with probably more peril than we chose to acknowledge at the time. Instead, it seemed, we laughed in the face of danger. As we worked together to negotiate our way up the mountain stream, we frequently dissolved into fits of laughter. Numerous times, we nearly slipped and fell in the water. In places, we were forced to crawl on our hands and knees. At one point, I ditched my very inappropriate footwear and chuckled as one of my socks floated downstream, never to be seen again. It was an exhilirating adventure...a great memory for our family...and I have some really fun photos to help preserve that memory. Hopefully, I'll get around to sharing those sooner, rather than later.

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But as we drove home Monday, I had a lot of time to think, what with all the snoring in the backseat! And what I came to realize was that our adventure was not so coincidental. As we climbed boulder after boulder, we kept looking upstream for our objective...a pool of deep water at the bottom of a massive boulder...a venue of ultimate self-challenge. We'd reach an obstacle and spend considerable time weighing our options. Sometimes a route would work, and sometimes we would have to retrace our steps and start all over. It was physically exhausting and mentally challenging, but occasionally we would stop and take a real look at our surroundings. It was breathtakingly beautiful. I don't really feel that any of my pictures came close to capturing the view.

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Life is so much like that. My life is a veritable mirror image of that mountain stream right now. My heart yearns for what I know God is calling me to do. I didn't necessarily plan to take this journey again. At the very least, I planned on a lot more rock-hopping than boulder-climbing. And yet, somehow, without considering all the things that could go wrong, I've ended up on another great adventure. It's a different road this time around. It's a little more treacherous. The margin for error is more narrow. Just when I think the path is going to straighten out for a while, it bends once again, full of obstacles. But the view...OH, the view. It's amazing. A little scary at times, but amazing! And, ultimately, the destination will require me...us...to dive deep. To take a risk. To believe that God is greater than any obstacle. That He will sustain us. That there is JOY in the journey!

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I will also share that my sweet husband...an Army veteran like myself (we met in ROTC)...was, surprisingly, not all that into completing the journey. He was a bundle of nerves from the beginning, absolutely certain that I was going to bang my camera or drop it into the stream. Really, one of us was surely going to get hurt! And his mom was probably worried sick about us, you know. He wanted to turn around several times, and each time I convinced him to keep going. Quite frankly, I don't know what got into me. I just felt the urge to continue, despite the fact that two of the young men in our party turned back. It was as if I needed to prove to myself I could do it...that I could reach the finish line.


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We did finally reach our destination. We even convinced Jon to jump! And, no, I did not jump...again, I say, I have lived that kind of adventure in my Army days. I did walk barefoot without complaint the majority of the journey...and I never go barefoot. I hate being barefoot, unless I'm on a nice, sandy beach! I was wet, cold and covered in moss and dirt. I crawled under rotten logs, negotiated spider webs and prayed that no snakes would appear as I was forced to wedge my bare feet in between rocks. I even ended up slipping on a rock on the way back and smashing my kneecap. No, my mission this day was to be bold in the journey. To encourage. To work as part of a team. To laugh along the way. To keep record of the path taken. To celebrate at the end of the road.

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So, about the destination. Was it really the finish line? Well, no...not really. After all the hooting and hollering as each person took a dive into the deep and then quickly swam to the edge to escape the frigid mountain waters, we still had to turn around and go back the way we came. That meant renegotiating every painstaking obstacle. And this time, we were losing light, we were thirsty and hungry, we were completely filthy, wet and cold, it was drizzling on and off, and, to be honest, we were more than a little beat up. But we were still laughing! Despite the fact that I have excruciating pain in my knee a week later, I would do it all over again. And here's why.

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This was a physically and mentally challenging experience that God used to encourage me in this spiritual journey I am on. Just because my paperwork isn't on its way to China as we speak doesn't mean I'm still waiting to depart. My heart is long gone. It's already taking some bumps and bruises. Sometimes, I feel like it's not possible to really complete this particular journey. Too many earthly obstacles stand in my way. It's too painful. The cost is too great. But then I remember that these are the lies of the evil one. I remember that I'm not traveling on my own strength. My Father is walking alongside me, step by step. He's picking me up every single time I stumble. He's leaving His awesome words of encouragement along the path. While the view is sometimes a little scary, it's truly amazing. I wouldn't trade it for the world, or any thing in it. And, at the end of this particular odyssey, I will take that dive. I won't be scared. In doing so, I will boldly live this life a little more fully for the life yet to come. And I will hold in my arms a treasure far more precious than many can imagine.

8 comments:

Ally said...

Beautiful Pictures and even better story! I hope this week is a better one for you. Miss your blog post!

Denise said...

Loved the post. I am excited to see how this all plays out. You are in our prayers.

Our Journey said...

OH MY GOSH!! Mike and I just had this conversation!! I've been feeling the SAME way...your words are just put together soooo much better than mine. (Maybe I'll have Mike read this so he understands what I was trying to say to him the other day) Wow, I can't wait to follow your journey w/ you! The pictures are beautiful by the way!

Kristi said...

Okay now my dear friend, I feel a bit out of the loop! I know that you've had some rough times in the past few weeks, and I know your heart in regards to "the far East," but I didn't realize that things were beginning...
We so need to talk ~ I can hardly express how glad I am that this time next month we'll be on our way to DC and get to spend time together!
And I've been on one of those types of wet, cold, bruising walks with my sweet hubby and totally agree about being willing to do it again...
Miss you!

Jack said...

Who was that splashing in the water? Also, I think I took one of those pictures.

I love the look of the blog; you changed it didn't you?

See you later.

Judi said...

Thank you for sharing how God is working in your life. The pictures are beautiful! I love the Smoky Mountains! But I am NOT as adventurous as you! Give me a nice comfortable cabin with a view!

Jack said...

Ok, I read the whole post. Excellent...

We should talk sometime on a deeper level then who's going to pick up the kids and what's for dinner.

I enjoyed a little of that last night. Thanks for being there for me.

Jon

Tricia said...

Love the post. I didn't know you were headed to China again. That's very exciting. I was on a SN site the other day and saw 5 siblings...I asked Kristi to bring them home. :)

Kristi told me about Caroline. Hope she's doing ok. That sounded very traumatic.

Have a great weekend!

Tricia