Wednesday, October 01, 2014


to look ahead with pleasure
to look forward to something

The thing I looked forward to the most when I was a child was going to school the day after getting new shoes or a new outfit.  Getting new shoes or a new outfit was a big deal back in  the 60's.  It is something that happened maybe two or three times a year, usually coinciding with a birthday, the start of school, or Christmas.  And occasionally, it happened when a neighbor delivered a bag of hand-me-downs.  I would actually go to bed early in hopes of getting to the tomorrow more quickly.   

Yes, I was even excited about this outfit, mainly because it was store bought.  
My mother made almost all of our clothing, so this outfit was very special.
Too bad you cannot see the flared purple mini skirt and the very wide plaid belt.  
I assure you that this was a 60's fashion statement. 
I cannot say the same about the hair.  My mother also was our beautician.
As a matter of fact, she was the family and neighborhood beautician.
Self-taught, I assure you.

Some things never change.  As an adult, when I worked full-time, having something new to wear actually had me look forward to getting up and out early instead of dreading it.  

I am participating in the Nester's 31 Days.  Check it out!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


a vehicle with two wheels in tandem, usually propelled by pedals connected to the rear wheel by a chain, and having handlebars for steering and a saddle-like seat

My brother Mike is two years older than me, and my sister Pat is one year younger, all born in April--the month of my parents' wedding anniversary--which has absolutely nothing to do with my topic, however interesting that tidbit is.  When children are born that closely together, there tends to be a lot of lumping.  You know--lumped together for birthday parties, privileges, and sometimes even, punishments.  

One for all, all for one, and all that jazz.  Whether things were fair or not never really came into question.  

I am going to guess that I was around four years old when my brother got his first bike.  I have no idea where it came from, but I assume my parents purchased it and had to make some sacrifices to do so.  I assume that because when my brother, being a typical six-year-old, forgot to put the bike away one day and someone stole it, my father handed down a sentence that, to this day, I think was cruel and unusual.

He would never buy another bike.  If we wanted a bike, we would have to buy one for ourselves.  

And he meant it.  He always meant it.

Guilty by reason of sibling association. We were little children, maybe ages three, four, and six.  

Cruel and unusual.

What's even more cruel and unusual is that my brother has no recollection of this unfortunate incident.  I was scarred for life by it, and he does not even remember it--which is probably because he was always in trouble for something.  I do not lie.

So, a few years later when Mike received money for his First Communion, he bought a bike.  Two years later, after my First Communion, I was not allowed to buy a bike.  In the spirit of fairness, I had to wait until the next year when my sister made her First Communion so we could both buy our bikes at the same time. That's how that lumping thing worked for the middle child.  

So Pat and I bought matching bikes--snazzy ones.  They were a really cool pinky purple color similar to the one below. 
And as was customary in our Catholic neck of the woods, a Saint Christopher medal was attached to the bike to protect us from having accidents.  Apparently, there was no patron saint to protect from theft; so being a quick learner--from others' mistakes, I put my beloved bike in the garage every single night--without fail.
I am participating in the Nester's 31 Days.  Check it out!

Sunday, September 21, 2014


The Challenge  

Each day, I will post on Facebook just one word, and the participant will recall a childhood memory that it evokes.  Because this project is more about awakening the memories than it is about writing, a participant has a few options about how to engage with the group.

The Options   

Facebook Only:  At the bare minimum, the participant should post a sentence or two or even twenty under the word on Facebook about his or her memory.   The Facebook page is private and will remain so.  Facebook participants have the option of including their writing and the project on their personal FB pages or blogs.

Participants are not required to share the memory, but I sure hope that they do!  Posting feelings about the memory is acceptable, also.

Facebook and Blog:  I will be posting my writing here on my blog each day.  If a participant is willing, I'd be thrilled if his or her memory could be added to the comments section on mine each day.  This can just be copied and pasted from FB.  I will include information pointing people to the comments section each day.  

The good thing about posting it on my blog is that since it is  a public forum, friends and family can follow the project if they want to.  I will be posting a link on my FB page each day which can be shared on the participants' pages.

I do hope to use some of these memories in the last chapter of my book.  If everyone completes the challenge, there will be over 900 memories shared.  That just makes me happy, happy, happy!

As a test, participants are asked to comment on this post.

I am participating in the Nester's 31 Days.  Check it out!

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Last October, I took part in Nester's 31-day writing challenge. I am so thankful that I did, even though it about pushed me over the edge at times.  I wrote about and photographed 31 things at the Little Cabin on the Trail that make me smile.  Apparently, they made a lot of other people smile, too! 

I only wish that after the 31 days, the habit of blogging daily had stuck.  Instead, I think it did me in for the whole year.  Well, that's okay.  I am committing  to do it again.  

There I wrote it, and I've said it at least a dozen times.  I will not back down now, because that is just how I am.  I will finish those 31 days or die trying.  

I don't know about you, but accountability and deadline are what I need to complete most projects.  

I took the past year off from working outside the home to write a book--maybe that is why I did not blog much.  And I have worked on it on and off--at the Little Cabin on the Trail.  Mostly off.  And the reason?  Because I was not given or did not set a hard deadline.   I had an idea in my head and a loose commitment to a year, but other things kept pulling me away from writing--and I let them.  Why?  Because writing a book is hard.  

I am so very relieved and happy to say that I am--thank the good Lord--very, very close to finishing my book, which has totally changed my outlook.  I now have something concrete to believe in instead of just a dream. The words are actually there for me to see.  And that has now--just now--given me the confidence to start speaking about it publicly.

I wrote about my call to write on my blog on January 5, 2013:  

On June 19, just 15 days before the accident, God confirmed that I had a book to write.  I listed what He told me not to do:

1.Research to see if it has been done before
2. Ask anyone's opinion
3. Give up before starting
4. Let somebody else's dream take precedence

And then I immediately received what I called the C's.  I think it is odd and sometimes corny when speakers/pastors speak from outlines where all the topics start with the same letter.  Well, that's what I got.

1. Call
2. Confirmation
3. Courage
4. Completion
I heard the Call loud and clear.  Then came the Confirmation through several people.  I assumed Courage was what it would take to act on the call, but I had no idea just how much courage it would take after the accident.  (When Kelly and Travis chose "Courageous" by Casing Crowns as one of the songs for the funeral, I just sobbed.)  

I felt strongly that there were five C's, so I just left number five blank.  It seemed weird, but so did the whole "C" thing.  And then in September, God gave me the last one: Confidence.

1. Call
2. Confirmation
3. Courage
4. Completion
5. Confidence

At the time, I thought that Confidence should have come before Completion, but I get it now.  Writing that book required me to plead with God for every single page--I could not rely on myself one bit.  And that is why I  could not talk  much about my book before now. I wanted to believe that the words would come, but I had to wait until they did.  I knew that I could never accomplish this task, and I did not want to accomplish this task, if the Lord was not directing my pen.

Many times along the way, I felt kind of silly when people asked me what my plans are for my book.  Mostly, I just answered, "I don't know."  I still do not know.  I am taking one step at a time--waiting on God's direction.  

Almost immediately upon posting that my book was near completion, I believe the Lord gave me the idea for the 31 words, 31 memories challenge.  I posted it on Facebook, hoping for 10 friends to join me.  Within minutes, I had 6.  Two days later, I have 30.  People think they are just taking part in a fun memory project, but they are part of God's confirmation to me that my book is worthy.  

I think that this project is the next step.  

So in ten days, I will start the Nester's writing challenge, and my friends will join me in the 31 words memory project.   

I can't wait to see what God does through it.  I am pretty sure that it will be the subject of my very last chapter.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


It was supposed to be chore day.  I told Kenzie that we would do a little laundry, shake out the rugs, sweep out the cabin, and then go into town for some groceries 

Well, the laundry got done and the rugs got dragged to the deck before those plans were dust in the wind. That is just the way some days are.  Someone says good morning with a British accent, and you are compelled by some unknown  force to just let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be.  

My new British friend, James, unlike the others, was coming down the trail, heading to Damascus from Atkins, Virginia.  It is about a 75-mile hike, so he had been at it for a while.  He had spent the last two cold nights in shelters with some AT hikers and appeared to be over it.

I offered James some tea--because I assumed that is what any good Brit would drink in the morning--but he surprised me by requesting a cup of coffee.  Coffee?  I had not made a cup of coffee in a very long time, but I somehow managed to serve up something that did not resemble sludge--which is more important than you may think since I poured it through a cobweb on the top.  When will I learn that cabin living means you check the cup before you pour?

From my vast experience of getting to know hikers on the Creeper Trail, I can tell you that it takes time to uncover the fascinating in a person.  James is a very fascinating fellow.   If he had stayed ten minutes, it would not have been enough time to find that out.  Even one hour would not have been enough time to find that out.  It took a couple of hours to peel back the layers of this young man.

He is in the United States because something popped up on his Yahoo news page one day about a program called Workaway.  

From the Workaway website: is a site set up to promote fair exchange between budget travelers, language learners or culture seekers and families, individuals or organizations who are looking for help with a range of varied and interesting activities. A few hours honest help per day in exchange for food and accommodation and an opportunity to learn about the local lifestyle and community, with friendly hosts in varying situations and surroundings.

James made connections with people in many different states before leaving the UK and has been "working" his way around the country.  He has lived with all kinds of people and has done all kinds of work.  I met him today because he took a week off to take a long walk--I mean, a hike.

He started his trek in Boston, and from what I remember, he has traveled to Manhattan, the Catskills, somewhere in Pennsylvania, somewhere in West Virginia, and will finish in New Orleans after a few more stops.  

He just completed his university studies in illustration, and will be going to London for some more schooling when he completes this trip.  He is an amazing artist.  I mean amazing.  This kind of amazing:

You don't learn these things about a person in a ten-minute visit.  It took time for him to realize that I cared to know about his art.  It took time for him to become comfortable talking about his experiences.  So I took the time, for him and for me.

It's a win-win situation when opportunities like these present themselves.  I am able to validate these amazing sojourners and encourage them to keep going--if only through my interest in their stories and enthusiasm for their adventures.   In exchange, I am validated and encouraged to keep going, to keep showing myself friendly.  Proverbs 18:24

I am getting better and better at weaving His story into the conversations.  Hikers have a lot of time to think, so I try to give each of them something to contemplate when they leave the Little Cabin on the Trail.  I try to plant a seed or water a seed, trusting that there will be harvesters up ahead.

James left me with a lot to think about as well.  We discussed the impact social media has had on this generation.  We discussed the growing desire by many for simplicity and how this hike and his entire trip has confirmed the beauty in the uncomplicated.  He shared his concern about returning to his "other" life. He recommended some books for me to read. 

I enjoyed getting to know a young man from across the sea on a day I planned to do chores, a day ordained by God that our paths should cross. 

In my guest book, James wrote, "People like you restore my faith in humanity."

People like James restore my faith in a God who is intimately involved in our lives, a God who knows our coming and our going.

May his journey be blessed.

You can read about AT hiker, Chef John Wayne, here.

You can read about AT hiker, Spectrum, here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


The day after our visit with Appalachian Trail hiker, Spectrum, we planned to visit a local attraction, Backbone Rock, on our way home.  So we tidied up the cabin, loaded our things into the car, and headed out.  

We did not get 50 feet before I noticed a hiker coming up the trail.  I turned to Tessa and said, "I have to stop and ask him if he's walking the AT, and if so, what his trail name is.   I promise, it will only take a minute."  Imagine my surprise when he told us that his name was Chef John Wayne.  Tessa knew then and there that it was not going to take a minute.

I could hardly contain my excitement.  "The Chef John Wayne?" (Really? As if someone else had hijacked his identity on the trail.)  "We know all about you." 

He, momentarily, looked skeptical, which quickly turned to what I believe was somewhat impressed that his fame had spread all the way to Hoot Owl Holler. (That really is what the locals call our little neck of the woods, by the way.) I may or may not have read a bit into his expression.  It all happened so fast.  

It did not take long for me to get to the part about Spectrum's visit the day before.  And before we knew it, I was turning the car around to open the cabin back up so that Chef John Wayne could take a shower, wash his clothes, eat some food, and share a few tales of his own.

Chef John Wayne's visit was much different than Spectrum's  though (and for the record, I enjoyed both immensely).  Of course, since they both were hiking the trail, many of their stories shared similarities. His were just a lot more contemplative and philosophical in nature. Chef JW is an observer of all things and very much in tune with the finer details and nuances of his experiences on the trail.  He has the spirit and eye of an artist.

Even now I am having a hard time writing a list of facts  about him, even though I know I asked him a lot of the same questions that I had asked Spectrum.  It seems more appropriate to tell his story with broad strokes as I feel he has chosen to live his life.  

He did not just tell us about his experiences, he attempted to share them with us in a tangible way through his photos--his art.   And we took the time to fully glean from the experience by pulling out our field guide in hopes of identifying a moth he had photographed.  

source:  chef john wayne

And in a comfortable exchange, he asked about Tessa's poetry hanging on the wall and her photographs.  He requested that we play the song, "Live Like That," after noticing the autographed picture of the Sidewalk Prophets. He asked and he listened, and then he asked some more and he listened some more. 

And we did the same.

source:  chef john wayne

Broad strokes.

He struggled to call Florida his home, as if in doing so, he was limiting his options.  I understood that.  He is a free spirit refusing to land--just yet.

source:  chef john wayne

He prepared for this hike by hiking the coast of Florida:  wise.

He was attempting to learn how to play guitar while on the hike.  Fellow hiker, Bach--who gave him his trail name--was teaching him:  willing. 

His brother is a missionary in China:  prayed for.

His family was following his travels:  loved.

He got his boots at a thrift store, already broken in:  blessed.

Someone gave him his walking sticks:  provided for.

He did, in fact, carry spices in his pack:  interesting.

It was he who sprayed his fellow hikers with bear mace--totally on accident:  forgiven.

source:  chef john wayne

Chef JW also took us up on the offer to drive him to the next Appalachian Trail entrance. Certain that at least one of his friends was now ahead of him, he had some catching up to do.  I made sandwiches for him--and for Spectrum, just in case, and loaded him up with the few provisions we had left.  And then we took a few photos.

The ride to the trail provided us even more time to get to know one another.  Tessa and Kenzie agreed that they were not disappointed at all that we missed our trip to Backbone Bridge.  Meeting Chef John Wayne was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  

So he checked his map, and we marveled at how little one needs to hike in the wilderness.  

And we took a few more photos.  And then we prayed.

For protection.

For revelation.

For God to speak through His creation.

And then we said good bye to our new friend. 

But it was not final.  A week later when I returned to the cabin, I opened our guest book; and it was just like Chef John Wayne had come back for a visit.

Monday, July 28, 2014


We will have owned the cabin two years this coming October.   I can hardly believe it. Two years.  

Almost the entire first year was spent renovating, so I was up there pretty sporadically. Since the almost completion of the renovations about a year ago (Are renovations ever complete?), I have visited our home away from home quite regularly.  This summer I practically lived there full time.

I am still amazed at how each and every time I go to the Little Cabin on the Trail, I have the opportunity to meet the most interesting people.  I don't know why I am so amazed since I specifically prayed that God would send us people with whom to share His love.  

Two weeks ago, Tessa, Kenzie, Jett, and I had just returned from creek glass hunting and were having some lunch when a hiker passed by on her way up the trail.  Jett, who is just three, has gotten quite friendly with the folks going up and coming down.  He mimics us and yells, "One more mile, just one more mile to the cafe."  Quite often--and I am not exaggerating--people just open the door to our screen porch and enter, thinking that our little cabin is the Creeper Trail Cafe--which is famous for its chocolate cake ever since Southern Living did a story about them years ago.  So Jett feels it is his job to keep everyone straight and moving in the right direction--toward the cake.  

On this particular day, Jett shouted a greeting to the hiker, and she offered him a friendly salutation.  I turned to see who he was talking to, and I asked her if she was hiking to the top of the mountain, about 11 miles.  When she told me that she was actually hiking the Appalachain Trail, I was shocked, intrigued, a little concerned for her, and instantly willing to become invested in her hiking journey.  

I invited her in to visit, and she said, "Really?  Are you sure?"  Of course, I was sure. I needed to know why in the world a young girl would want to walk from Georgia to Maine, apparently by herself!  I needed to know how long she had been walking, what kind of shoes she was wearing, what she was eating, and what her mother thought of her adventure.


I grilled her, and she didn't seem to mind one little bit.  

She had been walking for about five and a half weeks.  She was from Louisiana.

She is 24 and had never hiked before.

She had started with a friend who quit after a few days. Her friend left the hike, apparently not a fan of sweating and climbing, so took a beach vacation instead.  

She had just loaded up on ten days worth of food.  She had been eating a lot of Ramen noodles.  

Her pack weighed about 40 pounds.

She ditched her tent and all but two outfits.  

She found out that cotton clothing took too long to dry.

She should have bought her shoes just one size too big instead of one and a half.

She slept in the shelters along the trail.

She had been chased by a bear.

She had been sprayed with bear mace by another hiker (completely on accident).

She had mice crawl all over her while she slept--or attempted to sleep--in the shelters.

She was going as far as her money would take her.  It cost her about $1.25 a day, and she had enough to get to West Virginia at that point.

Her family did not seem to have much of an opinion about what she was doing.

Her trail name is Spectrum, given to her by another hiker, as is customary.  It means colorful, which she is.

She had been traveling with friends she met on the trail:  Chef John Wayne, Bach, Nails, Wounded Knee, and Crazy . . . something or other.  I forget his last name. 

Chef John Wayne traveled with spices and cooked using green peppers and wore an awesome hat.  

Bach played classical music on his guitarlele and was writing a book about a blind man and his dog on the Appalachian Trail.

I don't know about the rest.  Well, I think Crazy . . . was . .  . well, crazy.

Spectrum's real name is Amanda.

She had veered off of the AT onto the Creeper Trail to make up some time after taking a break in hopes of catching up with her friends.

I asked her what she needed, what we could do to help her on her amazing journey.  I wanted needed to help her achieve her goal, if just her goal of the day.  I felt such admiration for her.  She was determined, confident, polite, and somewhat fearless.  Spectrum was who God sent that day for us to serve.

She asked for a safety pin.  A safety pin?  Surely, we could do more that give her a safety pin.  I was feeling generous.  Take a shower, have a popsicle, eat a nectarine, load up on some granola bars.  Please, let us serve you.
And after some convincing, she did.  

We traded all of the above, including a safety pin to break her blisters and some cash to enable her a few more weeks on the trail, for her priceless stories.  I think we ended up with the better end of the deal.  I really do.

The neat thing about Appalachian Trail hikers is that they are as fascinated by and as interested in the people  they meet along the way as the people are about them.  When they start the hike, they are well aware of the part that others will play in their journey.  People serve hikers all along the trail.  They are called trail angels.  

So when I was done asking her a gazillion questions, she asked us a few.  And as we gave her a ride up the mountain to the next entrance to the AT, we shared about God's love for our family and His provision for healing through the Little Cabin on the Trail.  And when I asked her if we could pray for her, she said, "Yes."  

After we prayed together, we said goodbye to Spectrum and watched as she walked past  the 2"x6" painted white blaze marking the entrance to the trail and disappeared under the canopy of trees.

 Coming Soon


Sunday, May 18, 2014


At the cabin a few weeks ago, I took some updated photos of the camper at her new semi-permanent home.  We now use her as our guest quarters when we run out of room in the spacious cabin. It is quite possible that she may never travel the highways and the by-ways again.

You may remember what she looked like when we found her a few years ago.  You can click on the Vintage Camper tab above to read all about the renovation.
vintage camper
Originally, I hung the curtains with twine, but that did not work so well.  
I am so much happier with real curtain rods.  They look a lot neater.

Out the door, there is a nice view of the trail and the creek and grandson Jett riding by.
This is how close it is to the cabin. 
So if you come to visit, you may get to spend the night in the Little Camper on the Trail. Wouldn't that be grand?