mountain living…

mountain living…

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to visit this place. Why? Because with each visit I make, it’s becoming more difficult for me to leave. From the moment I arrive within its boundaries, a gnawing ache begins its witness within my heart for my impending departure. Whether a weekend visit or a lengthier vacation, regardless of the allotted days, my stay never seems to be enough.
I love the mountains; not just any mountains… the Smoky Mountains; in particular, I have a strong affection for the Gatlinburg area. My parents first took me there as a child. Since that time, I imagine I’ve visited there at least a dozen times more. Truth be told, I’d move there tomorrow if money and health weren’t an issue.
It’s a good fit for me, mountain living. I like the people who come there, the eclectic gathering of vacationing souls who make pilgrimage to these hills throughout the year. Even more so, I like the people native to Gatlinburg—those who call it home and generously share its beauty with the rest of the world. In the past week I’ve met people from England, Canada, Alabama, Michigan, Ohio, New York—travelers, transplants, and locals. Like me, they’ve come to love the area and are more than willing to fork out a few dollars to purchase a little piece of some mountain peace.
Mountains may not be your thing; your heart might be more inclined to beach-living, desert living, prairie living, farm living. To each his own; we all need a peaceful place to relinquish our weariness. But as for me and my stress, I choose the mountains; not the curvy roads, icy winters, or growing bear population that coincides with mountain living, but the other part of it. The best part of it. The part that affords me the one thing that living in eastern North Carolina can never provide me—
a visual backdrop that moves my eyes and my heart upward.
The mountains supply a pinnacle or two for sacred focus. An ascending witness that punctuates a higher perspective—one that views life from the top rather than from below. There’s little room for flat living and horizontal visioning in the mountains. Instead, the mountains provide a gracious invitation for its inhabitants to look up… breathe up… think up… live up! Indeed, a perspective in keeping with eternal understanding.
Faith is a forward, upward ascent; perhaps the reason so many of us remain stuck in the valleys, the muck and mire of daily routine. When our eyes (our hearts and wills as well) stay focused at a horizontal level, we miss the breadth, width, and depth of the mountain’s witness. When life gets stuck on the parallel pavement of temporal understanding, our hearts do as well. Pebbles can easily become our irritation, not to mention the potholes that are more than willing to dismantle our forward progression. Whether or not we have a literal mountain to serve as the backdrop for our everyday living, keeping an upward focus is difficult if our hearts are easily troubled by earth’s impediments.
My heart can be… easily troubled by earth’s impediments. I suppose that’s one of the main reasons I love visiting the Smoky Mountains. When I am there, I see better; breathe better; think better; live better. It’s a welcome retreat for me, none more so than now. This has been a long season of stumbling along, friends. I am grateful for the reprieve.
I may never be able to call the Smokies “home,” at least not in the temporal; however, there is coming a day when God’s mountain will be my forever portion; I’ll pitch my tent alongside his and see life from his perspective. There will be no more gnawing aches regarding departures. No more worrying about money and health; no more pebbles or potholes to nail me down to earth’s perimeter. No more having to travel seven hours to get there.
No, when I get home to God’s mountain, I’ll join the thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly and claim a visual backdrop that will keep me living upward for all eternity. The loveliness in my rearview mirror will not reflect a joy once shortly lived. Rather, it will serve as a witness to the beauty that surrounds me, envelops me, enlivens me, and keeps me in constant awareness of the eternal bounty I’ve been given because of the temporal ascent I have chosen.
Today I make that choice again. To look up; to breathe up; to think up; to live up. Up is where God is. Up is where God lives. Up is where I, too, live as God intends for me to live. Mountain living is a good fit with my soul, whether in the “here and now” or in the “there and then.”
Even so, Lord Jesus, lift my eyes, elevate my heart, and raise my faith so that I might claim some of your mountain peace for the journey that lies ahead. I’ve got a few more miles to travel before arriving home to you; I want to walk them with the mountain in mind. Keep me to sacred ascent. Amen.
 {this one’s for you, Sassy}
PS: Answers to previous post’s questions: Gatlinburg, TN, my birthday, with Beth & Bill Endean, and the one answer no one guessed correctly… Kevin who makes earrings! He also has antiques in his store at the Smoky Mountain Bead Bar on Glades Rd. I loved seeing Kevin the most; his first words to me were, “What did you do to your hair?” I told him the story… both of us were moved with the telling. He holds a special place in our  hearts! So, for those of you who answered correctly, names were thrown into a hat, and the winners are Sita, Karen B., and Skoots1Mom. You’ll be receiving a pair of earrings I made; if you don’t wear earrings, let me know, and I’ll stick in another Gatlinburg treasure. Please send me your addresses, girls.

25 Responses to mountain living…

  1. I love mountains too. Colorado holds a special place for me.

    Have a blessed week as you return home refreshed.

  2. Your post immediately made me think of one of my favorite verses from the Psalms: "I lift up my eyes to the mountains— were does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD,the Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1-2). Looking up is the very best direction! I pray that you have a wonderful respite in the Smokies!

    Living for Him, Joan

  3. Oh, the mountains are definitely where I love to be. That is why I call the North Ga mountains home. Girl, you should come visit me and see my mountains.

    Glad to see you and that sweet Beth E looking so good in that big rocking chair!!!

  4. I feel the same way about the mountains, Elaine. They feed my spirit as they point me to their Creator and mine. We're planning to go to Colorado with our kids this summer, and I can't wait for a taste of the mountains again.

    By the way, loved the pic of you and Beth in the chair. So fun 🙂

  5. Jesus planted significant seeds in the valleys of my heart in the Smokie Mountains in 1980. I attended a Young Life Camp there. Nine years later I got Him (or rather He got me!)! I will always remember it as a perfect place. I was in AWE that we slept at night with no screens on the windows because there were no mosquitoes. It was a very close neighbor to heaven!

  6. Always keeping my eyes on the mountain of God.

    P.S. So happy for you that "hair" is back! Keeping you in my prayers!

  7. Elaine, you swept me away through your beautiful expression of your heart…your words moved me to tears!
    Weather mountains, or oceans, or fields of every fresh scented flower imaginable, I'm in awe of God's amazing creativity in the wonder of his nature; seeing Him in it all.
    Pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
    Yes, "mountain peace"!
    Thanks for this moment of refreshment. Peace to you sister!
    Love seeing your fun pictures and your joyful b'day! 🙂

  8. Your post immediately grabbed my attention (but, then, they all do) as I had posted a note on FB about a dream I just had about being on a mountain. I think I have had two dreams about this same thing in the past week or so.

    These mountains hold a special place in our heart as well. We honeymooned there and have made countless trips over the years. It is indeed a place of peace. A place that just feels different to the soul.

  9. A beautiful, heartfelt post, Elaine… a tribute to the coming heavenly mountain that will soon be our eternal dwelling place.

    Never to leave. Ours to enjoy and discover forever.

    It was such a delight to read your words.

  10. Elaine
    I read that a storm cut across six states and caused lots of devastation. One tornado was said to have touched down near fayetteville… I hope you are safe.


  11. My brother lives on the OTHER side of that mountain (N.C. side). An entrance to the National Park lies just outside their little town. When vacation time rolls around for us, we head for those hills!

    Besides all the beauty and imagery you describe, it's the RETURN to it,the FAMILIARITY of it, and so many other yet-unnamed emotions that rise within us as we ascend southward that make it our "default setting" for vacation location…

    I (at least partially) understand your sentiments here…

  12. The mountains are very dear to me, of course. We live in the mountains. The Smoky Mountains, though, are where Bill and I spent our honeymoon, and where we return year after year in celebration of our marriage.

    That being said, we always look forward to our special time together with you and Billy…the mountains hold precious memories of our time with you two, sweet friend.

    Already looking forward to seeing y'all again…

    Love you
    P.S. Thanks for posting the pics! The first one cracked me up when I saw it on here! lol

  13. I too LOVE the mountains…when I was growing up we had a cabin in the mountains and so went there often. The beauty of it all is sooo overwhelming at times, but the peace is undescriable. A very different way of life. Or maybe it just was for us when we went there. NO tv…no phones (not even cell's in those days) and our large family sat around the huge kitchen table and played games or curled up in chairs and read books….long hikes…fishing in the lake…soo refreshing. Sooo glad you are getting this time at your favorite place. ENJOY…HUGS, Debbie

  14. Beautiful, as always!
    We will be visiting the mountains in June…the Rockies. The last time, we took a gondola ride up, and it was amazing, and I do enjoy visiting the mountains….but homebody that I am, I'm still a prairie girl. I love the wide open space, and the sky that goes on forever….watching the clouds in the day, and the stars at night.(I should add though….I have to have trees on my piece of prairie!!)
    Isn't it great that no matter where we are, we can enjoy God's creation!
    Btw….I emailed you some lyrics…let me know if you didn't get them, and I'll resend.

  15. We took a vacation in that area about two summers ago. BEAUTIFUL.

    Glad you are having some time in a place you love.

  16. Hi Elaine,

    Pray you enjoyed your Birthday and I'm sure you enjoyed your trip. I became a mountain girl when I attended the Black Mountain Retreat a year ago. Blessed me tremendously.

    I loved the photos of all of you! Continuing to pray for your FULL restoration in every way!

    Blessings and love this Holy week!

  17. We enjoy running over to that neck of the woods every once in a while.
    Our childhood vacations were to these mountains too. I have always loved these moutains…last night while walking Juliet I had to remind myself that I actually live here now. 🙂
    Life still clouds that reality sometimes…but as spring and new growth returns…I am once again breathing the richness in.
    These mountains continue to remind me of the wonderful things of our Lord. His creation is a constant witness of who He is and why I serve Him.
    Life has not been easy here…but I would not have wanted to go through this neck of the journey any where else.
    So glad you had a great time here. Next time you are in the area you will have to come visit us on the mountain.

  18. Mel loves the mountains like you do, Elaine. They hold a special place in his heart and remind him of God's creative power.

    Can you believe that I let him talk me into camping in Galinburg?

    In a tent.

    The tent leaked.

    It rained.

    Not fun.

    But definately unforgettable!

    So glad that you weren't sleeping in an old tent.

    Sweet dreams.

  19. wifeforthejourney:

    What a wonderfully timed event for us to get away (without the kids) to the mountains. It was a beautiful retreat and, in my mind, another important milestone in this road-to-recovery we are now on. Peace in the mountains is easy to appreciate.

    Thanks be to God for the all the blessings great and small we can share!

    Love you,


  20. My hubby and I spent our honeymoon close to Gatlinburg.

    I lived in Colorado so mountains are a favorite of me.

    I've been missing your blog. So busy with work and life I haven't been able to read. So glad to be back reading.


  21. I loved the Smokies when we visited them. Great post. I look forward to what lies UP ahead for us all too. Thanks!

  22. thinking of you.

    'Even so, Lord Jesus, lift my eyes, elevate my heart, and raise my faith so that I might claim some of your mountain peace for the journey that lies ahead.' — my prayer for you and me as well.

  23. Happy belated birthday, sweet friend! So glad you were able to rest on the mountaintops of Tennessee and have your soul rejuvenated. God has many mountaintops for your resting.

    Your words, as always are inspiring, and your new head of hair….beautiful, along with your vibrant smile.

    Much love to you, my friend,

  24. This is breathtaking, Faith Elaine! And I don't know how I missed your birthday! Facebook has failed me. Perhaps I should revert to the old fashioned calendar! But anyway…i'm so glad to see you celebrating in such a special way. Birthday and Easter hugs to you and a big hallelujah that you were born and Christ is risen!

  25. What a wonderful place! Even in my imagination! So glad you and Beth have made such a wonderful connection. Love you!

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