As a child, I would often go on road trips and vacations with my great-grandparents. They were amazing people and I don’t believe I appreciated them well enough while they were living (I certainly tried but kids are sometimes narrow minded). I never would have had the opportunity to even take a “vacation” growing up, if not for them. My great-grandmother was half native American, Cherokee, and for several years as a child we would travel down to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and camp at the campground at the very end of Wears Valley Road, just before the entrance to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
I can tell you for certain what else I did not appreciate enough as a child, above my great-grandparents: these mountains. I don’t recall being nearly as taken with them in my youth as I am now. Fast forward 30+ years, and God has supplanted me within a stone’s throw from His majestic mountains. I don’t say that lightly either. These are God’s mountains and you won’t find many people around these parts, or among regular visitors, who would say otherwise.
If I raise my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?
My help comes from Adonai, the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip —your guardian is not asleep.
No, the guardian of Isra’el never slumbers or sleeps.
Adonai is your guardian; at your right hand
Adonai provides you with shade —the sun can’t strike you during the day or even the moon at night.
Adonai will guard you against all harm; he will guard your life.
Adonai will guard your coming and going from now on and forever.” (Psalm 121, CJB)
I shared back in April (2019) the way God moved in my spirit when I first relocated to East Tennessee. I am humbled and blessed to live where I do, simply because all I have to do is drive a half a mile to enjoy the most spectacular view of these mountains! There is nothing in the world more rejuvenating after a long day than going to run errands and getting to see the vastness of the range the entire drive. It always lifts my spirits, no matter if they are shining all green and glorious in the sunshine or overshadowed by the low clouds that give the Smoky’s their name…they are simply a sight to behold.
Living literally a 20 – 30 minute drive from the Townsend entrance, and having the opportunity to explore the GSMNP more deeply on foot, has shifted something in my soul. It has elevated my senses, restored my ability to be at one with God, and given me a taste of heaven on earth. These mountains – which I have been hiking solo for a few months now – and the beauty contained beneath the peaks, beneath the shadow of the forests, cannot be described only experienced. He speaks to some place very deep within me, every single time.
God has also shown me His sense of humor as I began “getting lost” in this place. He has shown, no reminded, me what I am made of. I say this because I have been put through what has seemed like (unplanned and unexpected) endurance tests most of the times I’ve ventured out to hike. The first time ended up being an 11 mile trek that I will never forget (but would like to)…crazy bear fanatics and all! Each time, it is as though He knew I needed to be “tested” to see if I would give up due to physical limitations that had kept me bound and uncomfortable (reoccurring injuries mostly) sometimes until I got out on the trail. Then it seemed my heavenly Father lifted from my being, every thing that had me bound, and released it.
I feel incredible freedom – physically, emotionally and mentally – while deep in these forests. I can release the world and think of Him, the abounding beauty, my ancestors, and my footsteps (a must with all the tree roots). Oh, and this time of year – bears! I can breathe so freely in there, when most days I find it difficult due to the stress of this life on earth.
This move He had me make, from Ohio to Tennessee, has been quite the unexpected journey thus far….and it has only just begun. I invite you to come and experience it with me, here, from time to time – as I share it via word and image.
Be blessed to be a blessing friends!