The Sun Also Rises

I’ve gone twice to a little church now called The Grove.  Today reminded me why I go to church each Sunday…because it grounds me and puts me right back on track.  When we dropped Boo off at Sunday school the director told us that the pastor was out of town and that the youth pastor was going to be preaching for the first time.  We seem to always be a part of people’s firsts….the tornado in Kansas it was the clerk’s first day of work, yesterday our tour guide at Tuckaleechee Caverns was giving his first tour ever, and today a first time sermon.

The theme at church today was Leap of Faith. The pastor talked about how not long ago he was working 4 jobs and still couldn’t seem to make things work out financially….but eventually he realized that it was God’s way of telling him he couldn’t just rely on himself. Long story super short: he took a leap of faith into mission work and everything worked out. I wrote so much of what he said down:

“we sink when we take our eyes off him”

“choosing to trust God saves us”

“give up your fears in prayer and let God know you are ready for him to catch you”

I even noticed Brett taking down notes and we kept glancing at each other during the sermon….because we took a leap of faith.  And sometimes, because we are human, we question that leap. Our lives have changed in almost every detail: We live in such a small space we are practically tripping over one another.  If we try to brush your teeth while someone else is taking a shower we’ll hear a scream as the water turns frigid. We have a “pet” mouse family that lives in the wall of our cottage that I’m too chicken to do something about. I walked over a small snake last night on our front walk (it wasn’t the first). Wasps and spiders seem to like our area of the property way too much.  We don’t have central air conditioning.  Our roof leaks and rusty nails are popping through the ceiling.  I have nightmares about trees falling on the house. Brett isn’t working this summer so he’s home all the time.  I don’t have one little ounce of space that I can call my own….. Oh and I bought a lemon of a truck that needs a brand new engine and just about everything else (but at least she’s pretty!). Plus, a rock went through Brett’s windshield a few days ago.  We spent $3,000 on a new septic tank the first few days we moved in.  A mole dug up all the landscaping Brett put in (but then it mysteriously died and I felt so bad about wishing death on him…):


This morning a woman at breakfast told me that she’d signed up for my weekly letter and I remembered that I actually HAD a weekly newsletter…..and that I hadn’t written one in 4 weeks. Then I realized I’d only written a handful of blog posts too in the last month.

Before our move this might have felt like things were falling apart.

Now it feels like we are participating in life.

Plus…..the Smokies have cast a spell on us.

I’m learning that nature is so much more powerful than I ever realized.  I can feel my heart constantly responding to the mountains and scenery. I’ve forgotten about TV and Target and so many other things that ran my day before.

And the rain. It rains all the time.  Someone told me that it’s nature’s blessing. I can’t think of anything more reassuring than clean water and fresh air…and random encounters with wildlife and running across things like wild fruit (blackberries!).

Yesterday morning we woke up and drove up into the park to get to Cades Cove. On the way we saw a bunch of camera tripods set up on an overlook to photograph the sunrise. I decided I’d join them:

As we drove away I thought: all of these people had driven up to this spot above the valley where they were certain that the sun would rise. And it rose. From the east. Exactly where they expected it to rise from.  How convenient. And miraculous. And completely breathtaking.

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly our whole life would change. -Buddha


Then we biked 11 miles around Cades Cove before the cars were let in at 10am.  (I haven’t ridden a bike in like 20 years.) We saw deer, a bobcat, a wild pig and beautiful scenery.


I’m learning that the only true adventure in this life is faith.



  1. Jo says

    What an incredible adventure you are on!!! Most of us would be scared silly to do what you are doing, but I so admire your decision. If you only stay a year (and that’s a big IF!!) I bet you will consider it the best of your life. Good for you.

  2. Kim says

    Wow…I am dealing with a lack of faith right now. About to move myself and to be honest – Im scared. Reading this post…I am choking back the tears. I seriously needed to read your words.

    Thank you Ashley!

  3. Gina says

    I so enjoy reading your posts!! It makes me want to visit the Smokys which I haven’t been to in a few years. “Forgetting about TV and Target” love this so much!! Now, that is living!! :)

  4. Beatrice says

    Bit too coincidental! Sent wee pkgs to lilblueboo-for rainy day adj. to move. Teased mice my nemesis-not fibbing! Heart stood still @ your title. Quoted to me TODAY via brother. What my children;s beloved father told him in 1970 during a “dark” time. Tho’ sundown on the island, you brighten it w/ such amazing style.

  5. bettyann says

    you are such an amazing lady..thanks you for sharing your adventures with your readers….you rock Ashley

  6. Vivian says

    I love your posts on the Hemlock Inn…..they are beautiful and honest and brave and alot of other adjectives I could use…. in 2012 I left a comment on your blog that when you got better to bring Brett and Boo to Gatlinburg and we would show you the crafty….outdoor goodness… that is the Smoky Mountains…. l cried when I realized you were moving here! It was just like a friend was coming home! I have started reading your post over starting with the first one in 2009 and going forward…. I have to tell you this but so much of what you wrote in those early days so far just makes how you ended up at the Hemlock make sense…. not so much of the why but the how… of where you are today….. even boos art that you had interpreted by Dan Consiglio could have been a prediction for what was to come…”The flippant lines follow no ordained plans here , flowing wild as a tumbleweed in an open plain….the part where he says it takes teeth and hard work to come to terms with who you really are”….. anyways…that was some deep stuff! you and brett and boo are as free and wild as a tumbleweed for sure! wonder how long it will take me? its like rereading a favorite book and remembering all the reasons you loved it…

  7. Shivaun says

    Dear Ashley,
    We miss your entire family.

    How is Perry?

    Thank you for these beautiful photos (I can see why you are
    falling back in love with Hemlock Inn & nature).

    Congrats on the young pastor’s first sermon.