Escape to Reality

We need to process. We need to strategize. Today is not that day. Yesterday we celebrated the gift of a child. Today we celebrate the gift of the marriage we have been graced with for 30 years. We go to our happy place: the mountains. If you’ve never been hiking in the Smoky Mountains, put your toes in a mountain stream, or taken a drive through Cade’s Cove, there’s nothing like it for escaping TO reality. Our goal for the day was to celebrate our anniversary properly and clear our minds. We realized partway through our day that this IS our reality check. We have always hoped to be in Tennessee one day: check. The mountains we love are now in our backyard: check. The marriage we have worked to build is proving our vows of “in good times and bad” to be true: check. For today, we put the bad aside as we hike a new trail, climb out onto the rock in the stream with our wine and cheese picnic, dip our toes in the refreshing water, and focus on our gratitude. Then we drive the familiar loop of Cade’s Cove as we make our way home to Knoxville to process and strategize. God’s got this. p.s. The practice of “offering it up” is simple. It’s not magic, and it’s not always easy. The idea is to try to think of others more than we think of ourselves. (Philippians 2:3-4) In times of difficulty, it is so hard to get our eyes off of ourselves. When we offer it up, we use our time of discomfort to remind us to pray for and serve others. It’s not about us having to suffer so that in some strange way God would choose to ease someone else’s pain. God doesn’t work that way. It’s not about guilt and what we do or don’t deserve. None of us deserve any of it. It’s all gift. That’s what grace is: a gift we don’t deserve. That’s why fasting works so well. It’s not about punishing ourselves: the hunger that comes with delaying a meal is a reminder to think of the people we have promised to pray for. Like a little alarm on a phone. I don’t know about you, but the alarm in my belly is harder to ignore than the one on my phone. We choose to use our present circumstances as a reminder to think of others. Simple, huh?

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