Sunday, July 5, 2015

Overnight Mt. LeConte fun

I'm spending the summer hiking my way through East Tennessee. My mission this season: tackle all new trails. It's been a sweet blessing as I'm discovering more and more of my beloved adopted state on foot.

I deviated from my mission last weekend when I hiked up to Mt. LeConte with two friends. I've done LeConte before via the Alum Cave trail. But there was a new experience to this hike: I spent the night at the lodge on top of the mountain for the first time ever. Pretty awesome!

My friend Megan did a great job capturing our pilgrimage in this hilarious piece.
Check it out.

In the meantime, some of my favorite photos from the hike:

Megan, Sharon and moi in front of the dining room

At Cliff Tops. What can you do if you can't goof off, eh? :)

A beautiful view on the descent

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday -- rainy day edition

Black Belt Conference, May 2013, Ft. Lauderdale
James Rich, third from right
I'm missing a certain Taekwondo instructor today.
Thankful for the gift of life and friends.
Today, let's choose to model courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit.
Live well.
Practice forgiveness.
Eat chocolate.
Make it count.

Friday, June 5, 2015

New beginnings

Tonight was wonderful as it was bittersweet.
I tested for my second degree senior black belt in Taekwondo. (The short sausage-making explanation: it's the last level of second degree and the final phase before I can test for third degree black belt.)

I passed, which was great. I also cried many tears. It was a hard test in several ways: it was my first one in six years without my master instructor James Rich. I miss him sorely and I felt his absence so much tonight. This test also is my last one locally at my school. From here on, all my tests will be before a national board of examiners.

Change is hard. But it is good. Tonight, I had a taste of my new normal. I had the privilege of testing before David Church -- the new master instructor at my school and one of James Rich's former students. I'm excited that I'll be training under him, Shea Church, his wife and another Taekwondo instructor, and Julius Agh, one of my favorite instructors, as I prepare for the journey to third degree black belt.

James Rich, tonight was for you, sir. It was far from perfect but I got it done. Thank you for all you poured into me these last six years. I'm grateful for new beginnings and the road ahead with Mr and Mrs. Church and Mr. Agh.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1

Onward. Warrior mode, always.

My new A-Team: Mrs. Church, Mr. Church and Mr. Agh :)
I wouldn't have made it through tonight without the encouragement, support and prayers of precious friends. You know who you are. Thank you. You mean so much to me.

It was so awesome having a handful of friends come watch my test tonight and cheer me on. Megan, Julie, David, Elizabeth, Michael, Juhee and Patrick: You rock my world!!!

Julie and a very sweaty Lola
With the awesome Juhee.
David, Elizabeth and Michael -- some of my surrogate
siblings. Love you guys SO MUCH!!!
When it was all said and done, I went to have ice cream and cake with some of the coolest people on earth.
Sam and Mary Ann. Oh, we also showed off our muscles.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A kiss from heaven

I saw this magnificent full rainbow over my Taekwondo school after class this evening.
Right before this moment, my friend Chandra texted me a photo of a double rainbow she had seen in another corner of Knoxville with these sweet words: "Just saw God's majesty in a double rainbow and prayed His amazing and abundant grace over you."

God's majesty, indeed. What a (double) kiss from heaven!

Chandra's double rainbow
God, thank you for this beautiful reminder that your promises are true: you are trustworthy; you are with us in the hard places of life; you will not forsake us or abandon us; you are good; you smile upon us. Help us to believe who you say you are in spite of the doubts and pressures that are pressing in. Help us to believe who you say we are: beloved; held; yours.

"The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."
--Numbers 6:24-26

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tippy Top of Tennessee

I stood on top of Tennessee today!
My friend Seth and I took a trip up to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the state.
We then followed it with a 10-mile round trip hike to Silers Bald along the Appalachian Trail. Great preparation for my Peru adventure.

View from Clingmans Dome

With Seth
The last of the wild flowers in the Smoky Mountains were still in bloom and we met some animal friends along the way.

We walked through pine groves, mossy forests and across ridges. Here's a view from a ridge on the Appalachian Trail. I'm standing between Tennessee and North Carolina. I've always wanted to be in two places at once. I finally got my chance. :)

We stopped for lunch at a shelter for thru hikers of the Appalachian Trail. Our exploration of the shelter revealed a hiker registry. We found this inside:

I couldn't get enough of the views!

Check out the river in the distance
We arrived at Silers Bald after a steep climb the last quarter mile. There was not much to see but the rock marker was nice. The white arrows indicate the directions of the Appalachian Trail.

US Geologic Survey marker at Siler's Bald
On way back, Seth decided to check out the climbing potential of this rock. Brave soul!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Warrior Mode. Always.

One of the greatest men I've ever known slipped into eternity this afternoon at 1:17 p.m.
Gosh, my heart is breaking.

James Rich was my master instructor in Taekwondo, my encourager and most importantly, my friend.

I'm so grateful for the six years I trained under him, the gift of his wisdom, his fierce protective love of me and other students and his sweet care.

Mr. Rich fought to the end. Warrior mode. Always. What an incredible role model. Cancer, you did not get the last word.

I am going to miss this man terribly. I miss him now. He taught me so many life lessons on and off the mat. Courtesy. Integrity. Perseverance. Self Control. Indomitable Spirit.

I have so much to say but this writer is having a difficult time putting all of it into words at the moment. This is one of those times when life is hard. And when God is still good.

I love you, Mr. Rich. I'll miss you. Thank you for the way you blessed my life and helped make me the woman I am today.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Inaugural hike of the season

View from Lookout Tower, Frozen Head State Park
East Tennessee is pretty glorious in the spring.
I kicked off my hiking season today in Frozen Head State Park in the southern Cumberland Mountains. There were so many gorgeous wildflowers everywhere and the woods were so lush.

My friend Brandy and I had planned on a 6.9-mile hike. But through a series of (mis)adventures, we covered 12.8 miles and several trails including the interpretive loop judge branch trail, south old mac trail, lookout tower trail and north old mac trail.

Lessons learned today? All of them. :)

Some highlights:

My friend Brandy and me
For more photos from the hike, visit my Flickr account.