So many times we go through our normal daily life without ever taking the time to evaluate it or giving the details a second thought. We are surrounded by blessings and things we take for granted because our eyes tend to always be focused on the future--the next "major" thing.
Our family had a wake-up call almost three years ago when we lost someone we loved--without a second's warning. And in the beginning, each week that passed marked an anniversary that jolted us again into our new reality--into the details of our lives. Then it was each month. And now it is measured by the years. Three years.
This is not a post about grief, although for us, a line was drawn on July 4, 2012, that we can never ignore. We were forced that day to view and chronicle all of our life experiences through the lens of before the accident or through the lens of after the accident.
Our after-the-accident lens allows us to make choices, even more than before, that add meaningful memories and experiences to our stories. And every now and then, even we have to be reminded to be present in the present and to really take notice of the blessings of family, faith, and opportunity that God has provided for us.
Tessa and I have seen a lot of God's beautiful creation over the last few weeks. It has rendered us, at times, speechless. What I've realized is that what makes it so beautiful is the time we have taken to simply observe it.
When you travel with the specific intent to take notice, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. I am not saying that what we have seen has not been magnificent, but that it, too, can be taken for granted. Several of the locals we have spoken to have not visited some of the places that we crossed the country to see--places right in their own backyards so to speak.
Being intentional about noticing the details of where God has placed us is so important.
We live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains, and I am sorry to say that have not visited them in a very long time. I have been intending to visit Max Patch on the North Carolina-Tennessee border for years. There is also a beautiful state park in our town with a view of the lake and hiking trails that I never seem to have time to enjoy.
I am hoping that this trip has taught me to take better notice of my own little world--the world that God has placed me in for such a time as this.
When you’re away from home, you start to find little (and big) things missing in your day to day life that always used to be there. The one that’s really affected me on this trip would be GPS. At home there is a 98% that you will have cell service to use Waze or Maps to find your way to just about anywhere. Since I’ve been out West, there’s been a 50% chance of that being true. You go up a hill? No cell service. You are down in a valley? No cell service. You’re in a town? No cell service. And you know what? I had to learn how to read a map. I know, bizarre right? Now, before you all start saying “Oh my goodness how do you not know that?” I have three reasons for you.
- We almost always have cell service or a GPS with us.
- I’ve never been the navigator on a big trip where no one had any idea where we’re going.
- Until now, we’ve been traveling the East Coast, which we know fairly well since we’ve traversed it so many times. Also, the East Coast’s signage is ten times better than the West Coast's. Don’t even try to argue with me on that one, because it’s the truth.
Now, if you’ve been reading my mom’s Facebook or my Instagram, you’ve seen us talk about the time (ahem, times) I accidentally steered us into New Mexico because of said trust in GPS. They are rather funny stories, I must say, and ones I’ll be ragged on for for the rest of my life. On our second detour through New Mexico a very nice man on a motorcycle gave us his New Mexico map since we couldn’t seem to get out of the silly state, and BAM, I had to learn to read a map and make decisions on which routes we would take. Now, I’m no expert by any means, and I still love it when Wazey does all the work for me, but I do not take it for granted that she will.
I love to live in the place between spur of the moment and weeks of planning, and on this trip I’ve been reminded that sometimes planning ahead is truly the better plan. Making sure you end up in the right state at the right time can make for a less stressful trip. Yes, sometimes you just gotta fly by the seat of your pants and get lost for the sake of the story, but it is a good idea to always have a map in your back pocket.
Honestly, I think I’ll go find a bunch of maps as soon as I get home and put them in my car on the off chance this happens to me in college--‘cause there’s no such thing as being over-prepared, right?
What about you? Have you taken something for granted lately? People? Home-cooked meals? Your neighborhood? Your community? Your GPS?