Thoughts on Tennessee


There's a really cool phenomenon that comes with being a well-traveled family. You find yourself attached to so many people and places across the country, and the quirkier they are, the stronger the connection. We laugh hysterically at encounters we had years ago -- the waitress at the Waffle House, the nasty back-woods convenience store bathroom adventures, and on and on.

The last two years, we added Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains to our family itinerary, as the front end of our annual family trip down south. As the first stop on our trip, Gatlinburg was where we began to shed our stress, stretched our winter-weary legs on mountain hikes, and started to build connections to new quirky people and places.

We're not normally "into" touristy -- and Gatlinburg has that in spades, but the authenticity and warmth of the people there, its quirkiness, and the easy access to incredible natural places has made me fond of the place and missing it sometimes.

Which is why I've been sharing personally in the heartbreak from what's happening there this week. Bad things have happened to places and people we've "met along the way" -- tornadoes, hurricanes, and so on -- and the wildfires in the Smoky Mountains are among the worst.

The place I was standing when I took the photo above is gone, as is much of what's in the picture. Lots of people from there to far away are dealing with a lot of "gone". Homes, jobs, their vacation getaways, favorite scenery, and worst of all, people.

Whether you believe in prayer or not, there's a positive energy that comes from a lot of people channeling good, supportive thoughts in one direction.. I'll be praying for the people of the Smoky Mountains, especially the people dealing with tremendous loss, and hoping they feel an extra hand at their back as they move forward.

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