Monday, May 4, 2015

My Latest Appalachian Trail Posts

Day 31: Good News  

This will be very brief because I'm back up at Crooked Creek to help with women's retreat and I'm scrambling to fit everything in.

I wanted to tell you both how much I loved the video you posted of the first 2 weeks of your hike! (See: It was great to see you out there on the trail...and a sober reminder of the weather you two have had to deal with on this trip: rain...rain...and more rain. I was also struck by the lack of foliage and greenery. In my head, whenever I envisioned you hiking, it was all green and lush (like Ben and I experienced when we hiked the Georgia portion). But I just wasn't thinking about how early in the year it is...and how you're hiking BEFORE the peak of Spring. Still, you both seem SO happy on your video…in your text messages…on the phone…and whenever we get to FaceTime you. You're both in such great spirits! It always lifts mine. Which brings me to today's Bible verse from Proverbs 15:30:

"The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones."

That is how Mom and I feel when we see you happy and filled with you continue on your journey. The "light of your eyes" makes us rejoice...and the good news you're giving us (in all the stories you share) warms us to the core ("refreshes the bones") to know you're both so happy.

Every parent wants their kids to be happy...and while you two were already happy...there's a joy in you now that is evident in everything we see and hear. That's good news that refreshes our bones.


Day 32: Trail Family  

After FaceTiming you the other night, and hearing some of the stories you both shared, I've been thinking a lot about your friends Old Drum and Yvonne Sherpa (I'd love to know the story behind those trail names). It's always fun to hear about all the interesting people you're meeting…and all the "trail magic" you're experiencing. I know that this is a major part of what this hike to Maine is all about, but I have to tell you, hearing about Old Drum and Yvonne Sherpa helps settle some of my unrest.

I knew from the beginning that you'd be out there on your own with no real family support...other than us writing you or talking on the phone or texting or the occasional supply box mailing. It's nice to know that God has placed people like Old Drum and Yvonne Sherpa along your path. I know that when you first met them, early on in your hike, they were intriguing--having thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail together at age 60...and the fact that they took such an interest in both of you was great. It sounds like they are like a lot of other couples who (after years of marriage) settle into that lovable teasing and bickering stage of their relationship...where their love for each other is usually shown through well-worn jabs and playful gigging. Hearing that Yvonne Sherpa constantly chastises Old Drum when he launches into another story by saying, "Here we go down memory lane!" makes me laugh...and think about my own grandparents and what their relationship used to be like. But when you told us how--after losing track of Old Drum and Yvonne Sherpa on the hike for a couple of weeks--you walked into that Hot Springs, NC diner and there they were…waiting for you! It made me so grateful. 

I mean, here is this couple...who you've only met a couple of times on the trail...holding a spot for you at that breakfast diner Yvonne said, "We knew this is where you'd show up" is amazing and wonderful. Amazing to me, but I guess not that big of a surprise to you. You two have stepped into another world where strangers treat each other as family and where simple acts of kindness seem to be the norm. Jesus put it this way:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." 
Knowing that you have people like Old Drum and Yvonne Sherpa out there...loving and caring for you two as if you were their a great comfort. They call you part of their "trail family" and I know it has already had a profound effect on you...and makes me wonder what kind of effect it will have on you in the future.

I wonder...years from now...will there be another young couple, thru-hiking the AT...who will be telling the story of Sunshine and Breeze...and the trail magic they received from them? 

It's good to know you've got family out there with you.


Day 33: The Space Between 

I just read Nick's first blog entry on

I smiled a lot reading the "30 Things We've Learned in our First 30 Days on the Appalachian Trail", but I couldn't get # 1 out of my mind….and I probably won't for a while. Nick, you wrote:

"There is always a gap between Sunshine (Katie) and I. 

Sometimes it is very short as I’m kicking her heels or bumping into her pack when she comes to a stop. Sometimes we hike 100 yards apart. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we listen to music and sometimes we go in silence. Sometimes we get along, sometimes we argue. Sometimes we’re happy and energetic and other times we’re cranky and hungry or need to poop. 
There is always a gap between us. I am always aware of this gap. I always know where she is. No one gets between us. We always hike together and stop together. It’s an interesting thing to ponder on, the space between us."

The Space Between Us 

Nick, I can't express enough how grateful I am that you are Katie's husband…that you care for her the way you do…and that you two are out there in the woods of North Carolina right now fulfilling this dream. I love your words about "the space between us." Again, I go back to the way God made us for relationship…to seek out another…and how "the two will become one" (Mark 10:8). But even in our oneness…there is a space between. The truth is, there's always going to be space between a couple…and that space will be whatever we make of it, right? It can be the common distance that unifies us and keeps us safe and makes us feel loved…or it can become a gaping chasm that leads to destruction. The choice is always ours, isn't it? 1 Peter 4:8 reads:

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."    
I have no doubts whatsoever that you love each other deeply. And I know that as you continue on this journey north you will keep that space between each other safe and protected. It is a space that will expand and contract, literally and figuratively, throughout this hike…and throughout your marriage. I only ask that you continue to invite Jesus into that space each day--the only bridge for any break…any gap…or any division. 

Oh, and stay away from the moonshine!  


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