"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."
- Job 8:21 (NIV)
Well, it's time to share with you the incredible weekend we had with family and friends celebrating the vow renewal of our son Terry and his wife Jill (They have been married since January of 2015 but this was the first opportunity they've had to have a wedding celebration). It was a full weekend of activities and was a total blast. We had a lot of our family join us in Asheville which made the event even sweeter. In attendance were: my sister Lois, her daughter Andrea and Andrea's daughter Avery, and Lo's son Trevor. My sister Carolyn brought her boyfriend Ken and my dad (who hasn't traveled since before my mom died in 2006). Last but not least, our daughter Jill and her two daughters, Paige and Kendra, and our daughter-in-law Aime (who is about to give birth, but was a total trooper).
The fun began on Thursday night at Jill and Terry's house. This was a very informal "meet and greet" for those who arrived early. It was a riot watching Sofia and Avery get to know each other. I think Sofia was a bit surprised that she wasn't the smallest person in the room. The two were playing together and Sofia kept patting Avery on the head - - I guess to say to herself "Hey, you're shorter than me!" Terry, Jill and their friends stayed out until 3:00 a.m. having a great time, which they paid for the next morning.
Friday morning we went on a group hike at the Frying Pan Mountain lookout tower. This is a 2.12 mile round trip hike, the first part of the journey being straight up. As you can see from the pictures, it was quite a gain in elevation even before we got to the tower. Once up top, however, the effort of the journey gave us a great reward. The views are incredible from here - - just looking out over the vastness of the mountainscape was breathtaking. God creates some really incredible things for us to enjoy and it should be cherished and appreciated every day. What was especially fun for me was hanging with some of Terry's friends again. Some of them I haven't seen since he did his undergrad at the University of Michigan (which has been nearly 20 years ago). Others were people Steve and I met when Terry first hiked the Appalachian Trail back in 2007. So much fun to reconnect with them. Later in the evening, about 60-70 people met for a little party at the Burial Brewery in downtown Asheville. This is a craft beer house that is owned by Terry and Jill's friends. That was a great party and one which our little Sofia was the star of the show.
The next day was the wedding itself. The venue for this event was Jill's parent's house in Asheville which is quite lovely. They have 3.5 acres of flat land with beautiful landscaping and a nice little gazebo which acted as the stage for the vow renewal. There were around 100 people there for the ceremony and Jill and Terry had lawn games for people to play and a volleyball net as well. People were all over the place enjoying the incredible setting. Then came the ceremony. The officiant was Terry and Jill's friend Brian who they met on the trail in 2012 (along with Brian's wife, Kelly). He talked about Terry's love of life and his ability to find joy in all things. He spoke about Jill's support of Terry and her loyalty and the beauty of her character and her spirit. I guess that's why I chose the Scripture above - - it really describes these two so well. Kelly read a poem by e.e. cummings called "i carry your heart with me". I am sharing it with you because it is just so fitting for Jill and Terry and may be for you and your beloved as well:
i carry your heart with me
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
Our darling Sofia was part of the ceremony and watched as her parents shared their vows. They wrote their own vows which spoke of love, of course, but also mentioned how important it was that they were able to "ask each other for help when they needed it" and their promises to always support each other's dreams. The whole thing was just so beautiful and it made not only me cry, but my dad got very emotional as well. So sweet! After the ceremony came dinner which was all vegetarian fare and delicious. Everyone partied into the night and then Terry, Jill and their friends headed downtown to continue partying well into the morning hours.
On Sunday, Steve and I took my dad on a drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was so much fun to spend this time with him and share with him the beauty of God's creation. He was taken aback at the awesomeness of the views we were seeing. We stopped at the Pisgah Inn for lunch which is a restaurant that sits on a cliff overlooking the mountains. He was blown away by it. We then parked ourselves on some rockers outside the restaurant and just chilled. Later that day we had dinner with Jill and Terry and my sister Carolyn and her friend Ken. My dad got to spend some time with Sofia as well as check out Terry's awesome garden.
Whew! It was a whirlwind but an incredible time. Steve and I have so many wonderful memories to keep from this weekend. It will be hard to leave Asheville after being here almost 5 weeks. Next week's blog will be about our hikes and the fun things we've done in addition to the wedding.
Talk to ya later guys!!
Lauren (and Steve too)
"I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today."
- William Allen White
Good morning everyone. Sorry I have been remiss in updating the blog - - Geez, three weeks into our journey and I am already a week behind! I have an excuse - - we've been busy. Check out our last couple of weeks:
Let me begin by saying that Steve and I have become vegetarians. After spending 6 weeks on a strict diet that rid us of our carbohydrate and processed sugar addictions, we wanted to embrace total health by incorporating exercise into our day (6 out of 7 days) and eating a whole-food, plant based diet. I did a ton of research on animal vs. plant protein, soluble vs. insoluble fiber, the importance of polyphenols, catechins, and Omega 3s (vs. Omega 6s), etc. Additionally, we watched a video called "Forks Over Knives" (available at the public library) and learned how the foods that we eat affect not only our bodies but also our environment. Together we came to the conclusion that we wanted to embark on the lifestyle that would be best for us (physically and mentally) at this time in our lives. In order to make this happen, however, we spent a good portion of our first week in Asheville learning how to shop for the right foods (thanks to our son Terry who is a nutrition expert), cleaning out our pantry, and poring over books for new recipes to try that don't include meat. I am happy to report that we are doing great and feel so much better physically and are continuing to lose weight. Our goal is to get Steve off his cholesterol meds and for me to run a 5K by March 2017.
Ok, now on to the fun. As mentioned above, Steve and I have taken to exercising regularly and, being in the mountains, what better way to exercise than to climb something, right???? Near us in North Carolina is a place called Chimney Rock State Park and it looked pretty interesting, so we headed over. There are a number of great hikes in this park but we decided to tackle the tough one first - - the climb to the top of Chimney Rock. According to my Fitbit, this climb was equal to 72 flights of stairs and challenged Steve and I quite a bit. We had to stop and rest periodically to catch our breath (this is what living at 12 feet above sea level will do for you) but we made it to the top. We were high-fiving each other and feeling pretty good about ourselves. Then we turned around and saw an elderly woman who clearly just had a hip or knee replacement coming up behind us. Oh well. So much for being proud of our accomplishment! Nonetheless, we soldiered on and undertook the hike to the waterfall and then had lunch just enjoying the view and the sounds of nature. Awesome day.
We also spent some time traveling around on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is such a beautiful drive with so many overlooks that provide vistas that will take your breath away. One day we decided to hike through Craggy Gardens, so we headed over to the Visitor Center (the location of the trailhead) and hiked up the mountain. We got to the top but we (along with about 20 other people) could not find the trail that would take us to the "stunning vistas of the Blue Ridge Parkway". So, we headed down the trail that we were told would take us back to the Visitor Center (and the BAT). As we traveled down the mountain, however, we didn't recognize much of the scenery but were certain we were on the right path and would end up where we started. WRONG! We went all the way down the opposite side of the mountain and ended up in the picnic area which is a 10-minute DRIVE (not walk or hike) from our truck. Holy Cow! Lucky me was suffering from a right calf strain from the climb at Chimney Rock so the thought of going back up and over that mountain was not the least bit appealing. As we stood there trying to figure out if we take the road (and the 5 mile walk) or attempt to go over the mountain, the Lord sent us a lifeline. We met a very nice couple (Steve and Marcie from Minneapolis) who were looking for an overlook and were lost. Thankfully, their desired location was up the road just past where our truck was parked so they gave us a lift and we avoided what most assuredly would be a long walk filled with expletives that my First Alliance friends would be shocked to hear come out of my mouth.
Earlier this week we visited Maggie Valley and a museum that has been featured on the History Channel - Wheels Through Time. This museum houses the best collection of motorcycles (1900-present day) along with a ton of great posters and artwork from WWI, WWII, and various other historic periods in our country's history. Steve was really enjoying himself, took numerous pictures. I was impressed to learn how much he knew about motorcycles and their manufacturers. He engaged in in-depth conversations with the museum staff which they both enjoyed very much. When we left the museum we had a most enjoyable brunch at an off-the-beaten-path restaurant that made the best blueberry pancakes that I have ever had!
The rest of the time was spent with Terry, Jill, and Sofia and Jill's parents. Both Jill and her dad celebrated birthdays in this past couple of weeks so we had birthday parties for both. We also helped Jill and Terry with some house projects in preparation for receiving guests this coming week for their wedding.
We also got to spend a fair amount of time with our granddaughter so we could get up to speed on babysitting and her routine. Terry and Jill will be going on a honeymoon soon and leaving us and Jill's parents with the responsibility of Sofia for a few days, so it was important to get our parental hats back on, if you know what I mean. Part of her daily routine is to get out to various locations around the city every morning. Terry, Sofia and I went to two libraries where they have story and play time for kids her age and slightly older. What a blast watching her socialize with the other kids! She's too cute.
Some of the other places we visited were the WNC Nature Center and the Arboretum with Sofia and Terry and had a great time at both places. The Nature Center has been instrumental in re-establishing the red wolf population in this part of the country and houses so many animals that it's like a small zoo. The Arboretum was probably the best I have ever been to and we've visited many all over this country. Sofia enjoyed a sprinkler and some of the Lego sculptures they had. I can do neither location justice in this blog post so I have included their websites so you can check out their coolness for yourselves.
Lastly, we had the pleasure of joining other Cleveland Browns fans at the local Browns Backers hangout to watch the Browns perform in the third preseason game where the starters would play at least the first half of the game. As is the case every preseason, the typical Browns fan starts with anxious anticipation of the new team (because, quite frankly, the team is pretty much new every year - - or at least the quarterback is) and the coming season. They exchange comments about the new coach, RG3 being the starter and his future in the organization, the new receivers and the upcoming draft picks for next year. All so upbeat and merry until the game starts and the team performs with its usual aplomb (meant facetiously) - - Ahhh, there's always next year because, hey, we have a ton of draft picks!!!!
Steve's prediction is they'll go 2-14 which means they'll probably win the first pick in next years draft... alas
OK that's it for now. Next week's post will involve lots of wedding pictures and pictures of our family and children as they are all coming into town for the big shindig. Got a "Mother of the Groom" dress that is a full size smaller than I have been in quite some time. TOTALLY LOVING THAT!!!!
Love you guys muchly,
Lauren (and Steve too)