8/15/16

Chasing Waterfalls

One of my favorite places to be is in the mountains of north Georgia.  I have so many fond memories of camping trips with my entire family throughout my childhood.  When Scott and I retire, I'd love to be able to have a small cabin somewhere up there on a mountain stream.  Pure heaven on earth to me!


It's been a while since we took a trip to the mountains, but when I listed hiking waterfalls in north Georgia on my summer bucket list, we agreed on a date and it was on the calendar.



We decided to just hike a couple of trails for our day trip up there during the 4th of July weekend and chose two falls pretty close together - Desoto Falls and Helton Creek Falls near Blairesville

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We hiked Desoto Falls first since it was the longer of the two.



It's a beautiful hike that very much resembles parts of the Appalachian Trail to me.

Doesn't this look like a nice place to sit and ponder ?




There were two trails, leading to the upper and lower falls.













Hiking is an activity that we've grown to love, and I guess we can thank Dillan for that. That's what he wanted to do for his birthday a couple of years ago.  The study of the Appalachian Trail that prepared us for our first section hike actually opened up a whole new world for us.  There are so many trails to hike in the eastern part of the United States.  And there are numerous ones in Georgia alone, especially for day hikes.







Helton Creek Falls was a very quick hike and there were lots of people there due to the swimming spot at the base of the falls.








I love hiking so much!  You can take a leisurely stroll through the woods or challenge yourself with a more strenuous climb through the mountains.  Either way, you're improving your fitness with each step and making yourself stronger.  Not just physically, but mentally as well as you allow yourself time away from the world's distractions and just enjoy being in this beautiful world God gave us.




After our hike, we enjoyed lunch at Pappy's Place in nearby Blairesville.



Before heading back to the ATL, we drove through Nottley River Campground.



This is the campground where our entire extended family camped every year when I was growing up.  It's a very special place to us, filled with many memories of family vacations together.



I'd like to encourage those of you who lives in Georgia to check out some of the hiking trails available to us in our own great state.  You can't beat a walk in the woods!

8/11/16

Just keepin' it real


Unless you've known me since I graduated from high school, you may not know that I have had struggles with major depression through the years. I'm blessed to say that through the years, I've learned how to handle my depression before it gets out of hand completely.  The key is to first learn to recognize it.  If you don't see it coming as it first starts to sneak its way into your life, it can get out of hand quickly.

For the most part, I feel that I've been healed....and I can thank scripture for that. God's Word truly is powerful and I've hidden so many verses in my heart that quickly come to mind during difficult times.

But even though I know how to recognize and deal with depressive thoughts, it can still take its toll on my body at times. Spiritual warfare is serious business!

I blogged over a week ago about how God spoke to me recently during church worship.  My family and I have been going through so many difficult things and circumstances lately.  I shared the reason for my hope because I wanted to be obedient to what Christ was telling me to do. But I forgot about how much more we can come under attack when God is moving.

Long story, short....it's still been a rough couple of weeks. I could list everything that's happened in the last month, and at some point, it might get quite comical.  It's unreal how many things have gone wrong!

The most recent is that our plans to hike another section of the AT this weekend had to be cancelled - due to the expected weather conditions on the trail and Dillan still needing to replace his wrecked car because insurance company has drug their feet (don't even get me started on that....I hate bad customer service).  Having our hiking plans changed was the nail on the head for me.  I have so much looked forward to being back on the trail away from all of the distractions of the world - with just my two favorite guys.

Anyway, on my way home from visiting some clients Monday, I saw the most beautiful blue sky I've seen in quite a while.  But below the beautiful blue was dark clouds that seemed to hover over the entire earth...at least as far as I could see.  The picture in this post only shows the pretty blue....not the darker clouds below it and in the distance.

But as I looked at the beautiful blues of the sky where the sun was shining, and compared it to the rain clouds, I realized how I must have looked lately.  I literally felt like a dark cloud had been hanging over me and my family.

I pulled over on the side of the road and stared at the sky and for the 2nd time in a month or so, I again felt the peace of God come over me in a very real way. By last Sunday, I had literally made myself sick from all the stress and worry that I had been fighting.  I was feeling better by Monday and able to get my visits done, and I'm so glad.  Had I not been on the road at this time, I would not have seen this visual reminder that although I've felt like dark clouds were surrounding me, the sun was still shining overhead and preparing to burst through those dark clouds. And so it is with Jesus.

My family and I are still having some challenges with things beyond our control, but I'm dealing with the unknown much better.  That's one thing that's very difficult for me - the unknown. I like to be in control and know what lies ahead.

I know that's not practical, but that's the way I'm wired.  I'm a planner, worker, perfectionist personality and I like to get things done and to ward off all potential problems.

Secretly, I'm afraid of what I can't control. But in this life there are many things out of our control.  But I'm gonna keep doing what I know to do - trust in Christ and let him handle it for me.

It's tempting to sell everything I own and just live on the AT but running away from hard times solves nothing, right?  I'm certain that my family and I will see God's hand in all of this if we keep looking to Him and trusting in Him - no matter how hard it may be at times.

Sorry for rambling on so long about all this, but I just wanted to encourage anybody else out there that deals with depression.  You are not alone. Even if you know no one else who struggles with depression, you can know that Jesus sees you and everything you are going through. He loves you and cares for you.  Dig deep in His Word and hang on to those promises that are there.  They will help you during the most difficult of times.  

8/1/16

It is Well



Throughout the life of this blog, I've gone through spells of blogging frequently about anything from my faith in God to my latest project or family adventure.  Then there are periods of time when I feel more like just living life and not trying to capture it in words.  But one thing is consistent....when God puts something on my heart he wants me to share, I try to do it.

I do it for me.....because putting words to my thoughts brings clarity and peace of mind for me.  But I also do it because I have learned over the years that often my words have helped someone else in some way in their time of need.  More importantly than anything, when God moves my heart, I want to be obedient to share what He's showing me or teaching me.

Yesterday was one of those days.

It's been a rough few weeks for me and my family.  Our troubles have been nothing compared to so many others, but nevertheless, we found ourselves tempted to worry, asking lots of questions, and feeling somewhat overwhelmed.

For me, it's been a stressful few weeks with my work.  Thankfully, it's not always that way, but coupled with some other events, I found myself giving in to anxiety and fear.

Scott works for the railroad and we were dealt a blow there last week as well.  As a result of our struggling economy, there have been changes in the company that have required alot of layoffs over the last year or so.  Scott has been blessed to survive all of that, but they have now made some changes with his position that affects his work schedule as well as the extra money he was making from an expense job.

Thankfully that extra money was not included in our regular budget, but it will affect us in other ways.  But what's worse to me is that he will no longer work only four days per week.  I don't work on Fridays and for so long now, we have loved having our Fridays off together to enjoy around the house or on long weekend trips out of town.  I don't mean to whine or sound ungrateful, because we truly are thankful for his job and know that we will make the adjustment.....it's just a downer right now.

Over the last few weeks, we are also seeing so many people we love hurt and suffer.  I won't get into those details, but I'm sure you can relate.  And it seems like this whole world has gone crazy.  We turn on the news every day and hear of more terrorists attacks or shootings...even right here in America.  It's so heart breaking and it seems like all hope is lost.

To top it all off, I got a call from Dillan Tuesday around 1:30 pm.  He had been in a wreck in Marietta.  Needless to say, I made the long trip up there to make sure he was really ok and to help with everything involved with that.  We're so grateful to God for protecting Dillan.  His car may have been totaled, but he only suffered a little whip lash from the impact.

I'm going to be honest here and tell you that I suggested to Scott Saturday night that we stay home from church Sunday.  He originally was supposed to work anyway, but plans changed at the last minute.  It was partly because I was tired, but also because I just wanted to stay home and avoid the world.  I wanted to keep him all to myself and relish our last long weekend at home together before his new work schedule this week.

I wanted to piddle around the house and finish some little projects. I wanted to feather my nest....my haven....my safe place from the world.

But we didn't stay home. We went to church as we should and I am so thankful!  I would have missed out on such a huge blessing and hearing God speak to me if we had not gone.  The message was right on point for me and so relevant for my family during this time.  And as we worshiped, my heart was filled with so much thankfulness for what Christ has done for me.....through the years and through the last few weeks.

As we sang the lyrics to "It is Well" (Bethel Music), the tears started flowing......

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name 

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul

You can here it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uGXeJMB9Go 


Just reading these lyrics may not touch your heart, but as I sang those words, God reminded me that He is there through it all.  He protected my son from physical harm.  He has protected Scott on the job site.  He sees everything that has concerned me, confused me, and frightened me over the last few weeks.  But He also sees what is ahead.  I know I can trust in Him for He has proven to me over and over again through the years that He is faithful.

Perhaps these storms are a reminder that we were getting too comfortable, depending on ourselves and not Him.  Perhaps these storms are about to provide the refreshing rain we need to restore our souls. This world can leave us battered and bruised and weary from the journey, but on the other side of the storm is a calm and peace.  The waves and wind still know His name and He is in complete control.  Not me.  Not my family.  

I have a calm resolve now that we will look ahead and find Him in the most intimate of ways on the other side of these trials.  I know that it's always darkest before the dawn, but He is there in the darkness to light the way.  "And this mountain that's in front of me, will be thrown into the midst of the sea".


7/25/16

Part 2: From the Big Easy to Rosemary Beach


So we left New Orleans on that Tuesday morning and headed to our next destination for the remainder of our vacation/anniversary week. And I have to say, Rosemary Beach did not disappoint!

We technically stayed at Seacrest Beach, but it's all in the same area along Highway 30A. Alys Beach is also in that same area and we explored it all!

                                    



                



You can't beat beaches along the Gulf Coast.....so pretty!

                

We stayed at The Village at Searcrest and it was huge!  It took us a while to find our way around, but we finally figured out where everything was.


                   


After we found our way around The Village, we walked a couple of blocks to where Rosemary Beach actually is and explored.  You can't really see it from the main road, but when you head in the direction of the beach, you see this quaint little village area full of shops and restaurants.


                        

I had heard about Rosemary Beach a long time ago from another blogger.  She talked about how family friendly it is with all of the green areas for the kids to run around and  play. If you think about it, that's very uncommon when you're at the beach.
                      

When you go to Rosemary or Seacrest Beach, you can park your car and walk or ride a bike everywhere you go.  There are lots of places to eat and shop and scheduled activities for the kids as well.            

             


Magic show for the kids one night
                                 


All the families waiting for the show to start
                                 

At The Village where we stayed, there was an area out front where every one would gather late in the evening.  They had live music every night and the little shops out front were open late for your convenience. There was a pub, a doughnut shop, a Chicken Salad Chick, a pizza to go place, and several others.




There are also larger stores to shop and a really good Mexican restaurant as well that we hit up our first night.

                    


                


                

Our second day there, we still had plenty of places to explore.  We found this ice cream shop for an afternoon snack.

                    

                    

                    

This store front was already decked out and ready to celebrate the 4th.

                   

Later that evening, we did decide to jump in the car and ride down 30A to eat at a local favorite, The Red Bar.

                    

When you walk in, it looks like a living room area where the jazz band is playing.  The light bulbs are red and there's couches for you to sit and have a drink while waiting for your table.  There's a huge area rug to define the space and the walls and ceiling are covered with memorabilia.

The menu is very slim and they bring it out for you to see on a chalk board  Scott enjoyed his meal, but I have to be honest and say I didn't.  I got chicken because I really didn't want the other choices, but it was a breaded type of chicken....yuk!

                                 

When we're at the beach, we usually always take a walk in the evening. That's really my favorite time of the day at the beach....and you can't beat the sunsets!  Of course, this is a nice view as well (the Mister).........

                  

It's hard to believe that we've been married for 15 years!  We're in our empty nest years now and enjoying it more than ever.  Can't wait to see what the next 15 have in store!


As we were driving by Alys Beach on the way back to our condo that night, we noticed this place and stopped by to check it out  The littles were having a blast playing in the water while the parents relaxed in the grassy area listening to the band playing.

                                

We got back to the village and joined the others to listen to our own local entertainment.




There's even a fire pit in the middle for when the weather is cooler.  I'm sure there's alot of marshmallow roasting that goes on then.




Since this community is set up to keep traffic down in the area, there are side walks and trails connecting the entire area.  I had read that they also had a 2.3 mile fitness trail with paths and board walks that wind through the native landscape and join all of the communities.  They even have fitness stations on the trail with exercise apparatuses for strength training and stretching.

Although we had been walking almost everywhere we went, I wanted to check out the trail, so that's what we did first thing that Thursday morning.




This is what the trails look like........
                    

                    

Then we headed back along the main walk to where we were staying. The landscaping in the entire place is beautiful and so well kept.
                     

                      

This is a picture of the front of The Village I was showing you earlier where everyone gathers at night to visit with other families and friends.



We stopped at the doughnut shop and treated ourselves before heading back to our place.
                     
                    

Instead of the beach, we decided to spend time at the pool that day It's a huge pool and I enjoyed it alot!

                    

Such a pretty view.....I could have laid there all day.



This area will eventually be an ampitheatre for The Village.......




That Thursday night was our actual anniversary, so we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner.  We did a little research and I had my heart set on dining at The Pearl.

                                  

We made reservations but also wanted to go to the rooftop lounge and relax and check out the view before dinner.

                   


                    


An adult only pool
                   


                     


The view from the rooftop lounge
                 


Menu
                   
                     


                    





salads
                               


Main Course
                               


Anniversary Dessert compliments of The Pearl


                     

I'm not joking when I say my meal at The Pearl is the best food that I have EVER had in my life!  Perfect portions, first class service, and great atmosphere!
                        

                       

                     

                    

Best anniversary date this first 15 years!

                     
                    

                      


                     

That Friday night we drove into Panama City and met my sister, Suzanne and her family. They were in town for a few days, so we enjoyed having dinner with them at Margaritaville followed by a little shopping at Pier Park. 

It was so hard coming back to reality after spending an entire week alone with my husband.  We had the best week of our lives and are so thankful for the blessing to be able to do this.  I propose we go back for the big 25 as well!