To say I wish I were a mountain girl would be an understatement. Growing up in the flat cornfields of Indiana has never entirely "done it" for me. Indiana has its perks, but what I love the most is the winding mountain roads, the sound of water almost at every turn, and trickling waterfalls over smooth rocks. The sound of trees is about as loud as it gets, and the smell! Oh goodness, the smell of evergreen, mist, and GREEN…yes just the scent of being outdoors.
What happens when that smell is taken over by smoke and ash? I was heartbroken when in 2016, the wildfires took place in the Smokey Mountains National Park. The treasures I once held so dear and close to my heart were up in flames. Hearing words like "Chimney Tops 2 Fire”, "Gatlinburg is wrapped in the fire," "Roaring Fork Motor Trail Closed," "The Alamo Steakhouse is gone!" Report after report, I was picturing the places I once loved and knew so well, gone up in flames. I cried for the people trapped and lost. It just hurt, and I didn’t know if I would be able to go back to see all of the fire scars after something like that. It just wouldn’t be the same.
Fast forward to 2020, where we got to take a trip with some great friends of ours! We stayed in the Chalet Village area on Ski Mountain Road. I had watched video footage of this area ravaged with fire. I was shocked to see how much growth had taken place in just a few short years. On this trip, not only did I get to see all of the beauty I once had seen before in the Smokey's, but I got to see something else beautiful as well. Beauty out of ashes.
New baby pine trees making their way up to the sky. Only ash-covered trees were slowly bowing down to the new growth taking place around it—beauty from Ashes. As we looked out the Roaring Fork Motor Trail overlooks, I remembered how God has a purpose and reason for everything. Even when things seem broken or burned or damaged beyond repair, God can make all things new. He can bring dead things to life. He is the great redeemer.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
How often have I felt that my circumstances were irredeemable? How often have I felt like things wouldn't be the same again? I think that is the point. At times, for new life to take place, things have to die off. I know I have seen this in my own experience over the years. Old fears have burned away to spring me forward in the directions I needed to go. Where I would have said "no" years ago, I can say "yes" with confidence because God is with me. Fear wasn't completely gone, but my courage has taken a step forward because I don't walk in my strength.
My journey through infertility has felt so dark at times. It's like a wildfire with a miscarriage, and out of control within foster care. The dreams of having a family seemed to slowly burn away like a campfire at the end of the night, with the hot embers still glowing.
It is one of the most beautiful parts of a campfire; you know where you see the heat jumping around amongst the embers holding onto what wood is left to keep going. The deep reds and yellows are glowing brightly. The quiet cracking as embers flies up towards the sky like little fireflies. This writing home was born out of those embers. Where I have seen God over and over again take what I thought was burning out and how God made something new and beautiful with it.
Hope is the restarting after the disappointment I couldn't do on my own.
I hope that this writing space becomes a fire to inspire others to aspire to more, dream new dreams, grieve what is lost and move towards newness, and watch beauty come out of the ashes.
I’m excited you are here for this journey we are going to take together. I wish I could pull up a chair with you at a coffee house and swap war stories of what you have been through in your own life. I'm excited to hear what God will do with this space, and I hope it inspires you as well that you are not alone, no matter what season you are currently living out.