Where My Heart Is

Isn’t it amazing how you can see a word your whole life and think you understand the meaning of it fully, only to find that your whole life you have been sadly mistaken?

Treasure.

As I stared at the word for what seems like an eternity today, I realized that right now, at the ripe ole age of ***gulp** 41 I finally realized what the true meaning of the word is.

See these boots? 

Be glad you can’t smell through the screen.  These boots have been through snow, rain, waded through creeks, tromped through horse poo and bear scat, climbed over rocks and mountains, and traveled over 300 miles in a short amount of time.

I know you are sitting there and saying to yourself..“What could these boots possibly have to do with the word treasure?”

While you may be right in questioning my sanity, I do have a point. See, the boots are not necessarily what I treasure. They are merely the vehicle that was used to help me realize what and where my treasure truly is. I had a warped sense of what mattered in life.

According to the world’s idea of success, I am a failure.

I am 41. Single. Walked away from a respectable and good paying job, live in a rented townhouse, and sometimes I pay for gas with the change I find from the floorboard of my car.

I have no children, no husband, no big savings, and have a tendency to be unreliable, uncaring, and standoffish.

Don’t I seem like a dream???????

I don’t have a lot of stuff, money, ambition, or looks. (Ok….that’s not correct… let’s face it…I am totally adorable, but I am trying to be humble here)

So that brings me back to those nasty, stinky, and tattered boots.

At the beginning of the year I made a choice to change my life. I was tired of being stuck. I wanted to live, to enjoy life, to have adventure.

I decided to hike.

Starting out I was fearful, anxious, and had ZERO idea of what I was doing. I just knew I wanted to hike 100 miles and get my cute little pin. Achieving that would make me happy right?

Little did I know that by lacing up these boots each and every Saturday, I was embarking on the most difficult, mind blowing, and rewarding journey of my life.

At the beginning, I SUCKED.  I would walk a few yards and stop. Immediately I would pull out my Little Debbie (I had to keep my strength up!) and tell myself all the reasons I needed to hightail it back to my car:

I wasn’t in shape.
I didn’t have enough snacks.
I might meet a crazy person.
I might meet a bear.
I might DIE!!!!!

Now these were all very valid and sound reasons…ok, maybe a few were a little sketchy, but they kept coming up. However, I was determined, so I just kept on walking……

And listening.

William Shakespeare once said, “The earth has music for those who will listen!” For the first time in my life I was listening. And for once,  it wasn’t to the voices inside my  head.

I was listening to the Creator. As I explored the vast beauty He had created, He started telling me things about myself. Things I had never believed before:

I am braver than I think.
I am stronger than I give myself credit for.
I AM capable of achieving great things.
I AM beautifully created by a loving God, who loves and uses me despite my many flaws.

On March 25 I made my first trip up to the Lodge on Mt. LeConte. The hiking was rough, and many a tear was shed along the way, but I persevered and I made it. As I entered  the office I noticed a pair of bronzed hiking boots.

13413774_10153547358682120_6024661696972832926_nUpon reading the name inscribed on the plaque beneath them, I learned they were the boots of Margaret Stevenson.  Once I arrived safely home, I immediately Googled her. I knew a little of her story, but didn’t realize just how similar her story was to mine.

Margaret had suffered from sickness most of her life, and finally at the age of 45 she decided enough was enough. Instead of sitting around waiting around for life to pass her by, she traded in her sorrows for hiking boots.  From the time she started hiking at the age of 45, until her death at the age of 94, Margaret hiked  the equivalent mileage of 5.5 times around the earth.  One year she hiked 3000 miles, while only driving her car 600 miles. She also hiked the crown jewel of the Smokies, Mt. LeConte, 718 times.

Thus…..the boots being bronzed at the lodge.

Margaret found that treasure did not include worldly things, but loving where you are in life, and meeting each and every day as a new adventure.  Her trusty boots brought her countless friends, and took her to the most beautiful and exotic places that only some could dream of going .

I don’t know if I will ever walk as much as Margaret Stevenson, but I do know that she and and I agree about what we treasure.

It is not the material things I have, or even my status in society. While the world may look at me and think…..“Poor Jessica. All alone, just scrapping by”, I look at myself and think….“How rich am I?”

I live in the most beautiful of places.  Everywhere I look I am surrounded by mountains and exotic beauty. I am free to set off adventures whenever I chose. I have family that embraces me, even when I know they would rather stab me. I have friends who inspire me and walk this journey with me, some even making that walk literally with me.  And I have a God who, despite me being unlovable and a lost cause, believes in me, showers me with Grace, and fills me with love and wonder each and every day.

Hidden within the bible is a plain verse. At first glance it appears unassuming, but in reality, it’s words are powerful.

“For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”∼ Luke 12:34

I never imagined that a pair of nasty ole hiking boots could show me that everything I love and hold dear, is right here in front of me.  My heart is full right here in the glorious mountains of East Tennessee. This is home. This is my treasure.

This is where my heart is.

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8 thoughts on “Where My Heart Is

  1. Sometimes all we have to do is listen to God, taking the first step is hard. I feel the joy of where he has taken you in your writing. Tennessee seems blessed as well to have you. I have fond memories of the state myself. I love this post as much as the last one you wrote!

    Liked by 1 person

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