Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer in the Smokies

Yesterday was a beautiful summer day, so we spent it hiking and creek hopping in Elkmont with our friends, the Alves family. Here are a few pictures from our Smoky Mountain fun:

On our trek, we came across this vine hanging from the treetops. The kids had fun swinging from it. On top, you see Tim giving Maya a push; in the center, Reed is pictured mid-swing; on the bottom, you see that even the big kids couldn't resist, as Andre swings Tarzan-like through the trees: "Aaaaaaiaiaiaiaaaaahhh..."

First on Reed and Maya's agenda was dam-building. After they built a tidy little dam that would impress the local beavers, they followed their big brothers creek hopping downstream.

Creek hopping is not as easy as it looks, but the middle picture proves I gave it a try (however brief). The bottom picture shows the hoppers who perservered the frigid waters and slippery rocks to reach our destination.

The trek ended when the creek hoppers reached deeper waters where they could actually swim. The water was so cold no one did more than take a dip, but their shivers didn't deter the fun.

The day ended with an important discovery. Question: If a friend jumped off a cliff, would you jump too? Apparently, the answer is "yes," as Tim jumped off the rocks into the creek, followed by Andre (though it was really Andre's idea!). The top photo shows Andre's splash (you can see Tim holding on to the rocks on the right). The final photo shows Jenn and me, enjoying our shady spot and smiling because their jump is safely over.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Falling In Love

I've fallen in love with Henri, and I can't get enough. I'm spellbound, and I can't wait to see what he'll say next. Last Spring, it was Wendell. I fell for him in our first few minutes together as his words wooed me with their unbelievable beauty. Last year, it was Dan. Before him, John.

Authors ensnare me with their gift for expression. A beautifully-written story wakes something inside me and stirs me in a way unlike anything else. When the writer communicates the heart of a character or the weight of a choice, circumstance, or relationship in perfectly sculpted words, I am undone. Books invite me to think or rethink, to ache or to laugh, to consider their story and to write my own. I find myself reading and re-reading sentences for their sheer beauty (and then torturing Tim by reading them aloud to him).

Author Donald Miller writes, "...something important happened to me when I read Emily Dickinson. I fell in love with books. [For me, it was Kate Chopin.] Some people find beauty in music, some in painting, and some in landscape, but I find it in words. By beauty, I mean the feeling you have suddenly glimpsed another world, or looked into a portal that reveals a kind of magic or romance out of which the world has been constructed, a feeling there is something more than the mundane, and a reason for our plodding. The portal is different for everyone."

I share this affection with Miller, as books offer a powerful invitation - to see, to discover, to examine, to yearn, to admire, and to aspire. After Wendell and Henri, I know there will be others. I'm not fickle, however, for our love affair will continue. I will find myself at my favorite used bookstore, searching the shelves for titles I may have missed. And when I find that elusive, well-worn volume, my heart will race and I will be giddy like someone who has just received a love letter.

I invite you to fall in love with reading, and in particular with the authors I mentioned: Henri Nouwen, Wendell Berry, Dan Allender, John Eldredge, and Donald Miller. May their words offer you beauty and invite you into a new world.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Right On Time

Very recently I read two timely pieces about time. Shared below, the first was written by author Henri Nouwen; the second by my former employer and forever mentor Jesse Palmer. I read them upon my abrupt return from Haiti, when I was reeling from the whirlwind trip. It was a revelation that the number of hours I spent with the children wasn't what determined whether my trip had impact; instead, I was in Haiti "for such a time as this" - God's timing, His call, His purposes. I invite you to read these two passages and consider Jesse's question: "How do you keep time?"

Clock-time is the time we have in this world. That time can be measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Our clock-time, chronos in Greek, can become an obsession, especially when all that we are is connected with the clock that keeps ticking whether we are awake or asleep. ... All these concerns about our clock-time come from below. They are based upon the presupposition that our chronology is all we have to live. But looked upon from above, from God's perspective, our clock-time is embedded in the timeless embrace of God. Looked upon from above, our years on earth are not simply chronos but kairos - another greek word for time - which is the opportunity to claim for ourselves the love that God offers us from eternity to eternity. And so our short lives, instead of being that limited amount of years to which we must anxiously cling, become that saving opportunity to respond with all of our hearts, souls, and minds to God's love. ~ by Henri Nouwen

In Greek there are two words for time - chronos and kairos. Humans are consumed by the former. For us it's "real" time. It's the way we measure the length of life and schedule our the spending of heartbeats and breaths. For God, on the other hand, a thousand years being a day and a day a thousand years has a divinely different tick on time. We're all about time. He's all about timing. We're chronic about chronos while God really cares more about kairos. The mother of Gospel music Mahalia Jackson had a great saying, "God doesn't always come when you call, but He's always right on time." He's never too early or too late, always right on time ... the right time. His time! How do you keep time? ~ by Jesse Palmer

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Day at Doe River

Soon Seth will have his first summer camp experience, so today our family checked it out as we enjoyed DayQuest at Doe River Gorge in Elizabethton. The lake, the zipline, "The Blob," the train ... they were all part of a great time. Here are pictures from our fun day:

The manmade lake has clear water, a sandy beach, inflatables, and other fun amusements.

One of the first "musts" on our day of fun was the zipline. Unfortunately Reed was a year too young to zip, but Seth and Tim went for it. On top, you can see them all rigged up for the ride. Next, you can spot their green and blue shirts whirring through the trees. Splash down happened too fast for me to catch it on film, but they enjoyed a calm swim to the end. In the last photo, you can see where their ride started from on the platform up in the trees.

Next, Seth and Tim tackled "The Blob." From the wooden platform, you jump onto this inflatable. Then, you scoot to the end and wait. The next jumper propels you into the air when he lands on the inflatable. On top you can see Seth in the green as he's launched into the air. In the second photo you actually see Seth's first "Blob" experience - quite a shock! The third photo shows Tim launched into the air. And the last photo shows what happened when Seth tried to launch his dad ... not much. He didn't weigh enough.

Here's another lake amusement: brave souls tried to walk across this spinning tube without getting tossed into the water. Reed scampered across it time and again like a crab. Maybe he had an easier time because of his smaller size, but Tim and Seth repeatedly took a dive.

After lunch we enjoyed a few "dry" minutes on Doe River's train ride. The 30-minute trip took us through two tunnels into the Gorge.

DayQuest was a great way to spend a summer day. We enjoyed a little rest ...

... And a LOT of fun!!! Seth is really looking forward to his upcoming week here.

Fast Dash

If you've travelled on I-40 through Knoxville during the past two years, then you know that a stretch of road has been closed. Before it re-opened to traffic on Friday, the Knoxville Track Club hosted a 1.2-mile foot race on Thursday evening. Since one doesn't often get to run down the middle of the interstate, Tim, the boys, and I joined in the fun with 1,600 other runners. Below are pictures of our "fast dash."

Tim and Seth start running the 1.2-mile race.

The boys and I make our way UP the road to the turn-around point (thankfully it was downhill the .6 miles to the finish line).

The boys finish the "Fast Dash I-40."

This wasn't planned, but apparently I'm number one and Tim is number two. ;-)

Here we are after finishing our first family race.

The bus sums it up nicely: "Special."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Family Affair

This past Sunday, Tim's brother Charles (or Tuck as we call him) and Kristy were married. It was a wonderful weekend in Chattanooga, with a fun picnic on Saturday evening and the beautiful wedding on Sunday afternoon. Here are some pictures of the festivities:

Here are the bride and groom-to-be with Tim and Tuck's 95-year-old grandfather, Rev. James Horton. "Big Dad," as we call him, performed the marriage ceremony (as he has for five of his other grandchildren, including us).

My three handsome guys: Reed, Tim and Seth.

Tim's sister Camie with three of her four children: Landon, Brennan, and Madison.

Kristy with her soon-t0-be sisters-in-law and niece.

Seth with his new cousin Blake.

Wedding day at Camp Dixie: brothers Tuck and Tim.

Tim with his mom, brother, and sister.

Our family. (Looks like from now on we'll have to stand Seth in front of Tim. He's getting too tall to stand in front of his mom.)

The cousins: Madison, Blake, Preston, Seth, Reed, Landon, Mario, and Brennan.

The beautiful bride and groom during the lakeside ceremony.

The day was beautiful; the flowers lovely; the food delicious; the cakes yummy, but what everyone will remember was THE DANCE. Tuck and Kristy brought the house down with their first dance as husband-and-wife. (The picture is blurry because they were moving too fast!) We were surprised by their exceptional skill on the dance floor. Well done and congratulations!