thankful hand

A Day in the Life, Part 2: Thankful for Organized Chaos & Many Hands


It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I sat in this very same spot, typing this blog, reflecting on how summer was starting… and here it is: Week 10 of our summer missions. Time certainly does fly by, doesn’t it?


One of my favorite TV shows growing up was SeaQuest and I remember one of the characters saying, “Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas.” I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in. It’s always stuck with me because time does have a way of passing us by.


I’m thankful for the time we’ve had in missions this summer. I’m grateful for the wonderful summer staff who have made it so enjoyable, certainly not without excitement. I’m thankful for the opportunity to get to know each of them, and to see them be a little stretched and how they’ve grown. It’s going to be (too) quiet here after they leave.


I’m thankful for the neighbors I’ve been able to meet, for this work that allows my path to cross with theirs.


I’m thankful for the work teams that have come through this place – around 750 folks in just 10 weeks. It’s amazing to see the gifts and talents that people bring, to see how they’re challenged to try new things, and to see some of the awesome work that they’ve accomplished.


I’m thankful for the other staff here at Hinton who have been working alongside us, making this whole summer a good one.


When I sat here earlier this summer, thinking about the weeks ahead, it seemed a little overwhelming. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I realize (yet again) how God brings people together to accomplish extraordinary things. The tasks aren’t so daunting when there are many hands at work. The days aren’t so draining when there are others there to lift us up, and offer encouragement and hope when it’s needed. When one of us struggles, we aren’t alone; there are others to nudge us along, helping carry the extra load when needed.


Even in the midst of busyness and sometimes “organized chaos,” we were able to rally together and make what needed to happen, happen.


This summer has reminded me of the scripture from Romans 12:4-5  —  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Has it been easy? Not really. But it has been grace-filled and I’ve seen God at work time and time again.


I hope that I can take to heart the things I’ve seen this summer and continue to live them out – regardless of what situation I’m in. And I hope it can spread like a ripple effect – that others who’ve encountered the holy will spread that out to those they meet… which then can continue to spread.



A Day In The Life: Just Breathe


A day in the life…


One thing I love about my job is that each day is a little different than any other. Sure, there are some things that are routine, but overall it’s constantly changing. This time of year, it’s even more exciting as we are in our busy summer season.


Busy might be an understatement. Scratch that. Busy IS an understatement.


Sunday we had nearly 50 folks arrive from North Carolina, South Carolina and Indiana, all eager to be here to serve God as they walk alongside and serve our neighbors. Along with having these three groups here, six different work teams in all, we also are preparing for next week, when nearly 130 people will join us.


My favorite phrases to describe summer include, but certainly are not limited to, organized chaos and craziness. But I mean these in a good way… really, I do (at least most days).


I’ve been blessed to work in this type of ministry setting for nearly 14 years now, and there’s definitely a flow of summer, regardless if there’s 10 people or 110. The organized chaos might be even more chaotic, but there’s still many of the same pieces.


Take Monday for example. Oh, was it a Monday! It started as I was walking across the parking lot very early in the morning (this was pre-first cup of coffee). Then, in the midst of handling Monday’s events, I was starting to figure out lodging for next week. Did I mention we have almost 130 people staying here next week? Much to my surprise I finally got it arranged… and then I realized one of the groups hadn’t sent in a roster sheet and I had inadvertently left them out of any rooms.




Big oops.


So back to the drawing board, or in this case, even more scribbles all over my lodging diagrams. We have more than enough beds for 130 people, but the tricky part is fitting all the numbers in the right places. It isn’t so easy when you’re considering males and females, youth and adults… that’s where the fun sets in!


In the midst of that, um, fun… our summer staff came up for a daily check-in. As I was (at this point) frantically working to make the numbers fit in the rooms we have available, which I will admit, included some “grrrs” and maybe even some talking to myself… one of the staff popped into my office and later I noticed she had written an encouraging little note on my whiteboard. “Breathe! Jesus loves you and so do I!” – complete with a smiley face.


I have a few thoughts about this. First, I’ll say it again–  I love my job!  I am so thankful to have caring staff… both year round and summer staff. Not only caring, but competent! It’s so nice to be able to turn things over to them and know that they’ll be done – and done right.


Second, that I work in an environment that promotes Christian hospitality and we talk a lot about living like Jesus and we really do try to walk the talk… and it shows through simple acts of kindness, like notes on a whiteboard.


Finally, the word breathe. I have to spend a moment here. Back in the day, I had a good friend from college who would remind me of that… and she continues to once in a while remind me of that word. It’s significant in many ways, but it’s such an “easy” way to pause from the craziness and center myself in God.


This morning during staff devos, I shared from Ezekiel 37 – the valley of dry bones. I love this scripture! One of the things I love the most is about the breath – how God’s Spirit breathes life into “dry bones” – and I believe the Holy Spirit still does this today. I think of the times I’ve been dried out and I rely on God to see me through.


I think yesterday was one of those days. I got to the point where I just had to set aside the lodging and move on with my day. I had to work a bit on Thursday’s worship service and then I went down to have dinner with the groups (yum!). Then it was time for our Appalachian Culture Night. So much fun!


Yes, some days it’s more chaotic than others. Some days it’s stressful. Some days are a little lengthy, but what a joy it is to be able to help this community, to help individuals grow closer to Jesus, and to be able to come to work and have fun while doing so!


Good news for me – I did get the lodging figured out today (and, yes, this time everyone really DOES have a room)… and it’s been another interesting day, which included having lunch with some folks from one of the groups, sitting on the lodge porch, overlooking the lake. Talk about joy!


Not too bad if I say so myself. A day in the life is unlike any other.



10 Things To Do During your Visit to Hayesville, North Carolina

  1. Tiger’s/Chinquapin’s on the Square for ice cream

Chinquapin’s origins are as a pharmacy on the square in the 1940s that had its very own soda fountain! This soda fountain is still in operation today, along with an ice cream bar with yummy coffee. Tiger’s department store, attached to Chinquapin’s, has one-of-a-kind local gifts and fine clothing with a general store feel.

  1. Bell Mountain for breath-taking views

If you want incredible views without an exhausting hike, check out Bell Mountain! You can drive all the way to the top of the mountain, and appropriate graffiti is even welcomed.

  1. Cherokee Homestead Exhibit for a dose of local history

Explore the life of the Cherokee at this exhibit in downtown Hayesville. While you’re in the area, visit the Quanassee Path: A Cherokee History Trail celebrating five Cherokee-related sites in downtown Hayesville.

  1. Jackrabbit Mountain Trails for an active day of biking or hiking

Grab your mountain bike, or even your hiking shoes! This near-15 mile trail system is located off of Jackrabbit Road in Hayesville. Spend a day winding the trails around Lake Chatuge in beautiful Appalachia.

  1. Fires Creek Falls for waterfall fun

Actually, you should go chasing waterfalls. Fires Creek has a great picnic area right at the entrance, and also a few miles worth of hiking trails. See a beautiful rocky waterfall while you’re there, and bring an inner tube for some extra fun on the creek’s natural waterslide.

  1. Eagle Fork Vineyard and Crane Creek Vineyards for local wine tastings

These local wineries offer tastings and beautiful views. Check their web sites and social media for days/hours and special events, such as live music.

  1. Mountain Harbour Golf Club  for a hidden course in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Need to get your golf fix while you’re in town? Check out The Ridges. Their website boasts, “The 18-Hole Willard Byrd Golf Course is the focal point of our spectacular club. In addition to the golf course, is our practice facility with a driving range and putting green.”

  1. John C. Campbell Folk School for a new experience with skilled craftsmen

Spend some time at the Folk School learning a new craft or skill, and experience a 90-year history of song, art, nature, gardening, cooking, storytelling and writing. Visit on a Tuesday evening for a fun night of Contra dancing!

  1. Take a Farm Tour for some local flavors

Check out this list of farms and other agritourism hot spots in the area. Taste artisan goat cheese, hang out with some alpacas, and eat a burger made from all-natural grass-fed beef.

  1. Chunky Gal Stables for Western North Carolina’s best horseback riding experience

Open 7 days a week from 8am-5pm, Chunky Gal Stables offers trail riding, lessons, training, and boarding in a beautiful mountain setting.


We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat


“We’re going to need a bigger boat.”


One of my favorite movies, that I would consider a bit of a classic, is Jaws. Compared to today’s standards, it probably wouldn’t be that awe-inspiring, but for its time it was pretty amazing.


If you’re like me, when you hear or think of the well-known theme song from the movie it almost makes the hair on your neck rise. Go ahead, call it to mind. I’ll give you a moment… … … … … … …


It’s that feeling that something is coming, just around the corner, and it’s that anticipation that gets you. Right?


That’s where I am right now with summer missions. It’s not an eerie anticipation, per se, but it’s that feeling that something B I G is coming. And I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, eagerly awaiting its arrival.


That something started last week, or at least the precursor to that something. Our summer staff arrived mid-week for a pretty intense, comprehensive training. While we covered lots of things, my hope and goal is that it was also a time of excitement and fun as we look ahead to the coming weeks of having church groups here at Hinton who will go out in the community to work on home repairs.


We have over 750 folks coming in about 10 weeks. That’s a lot of people. Some weeks we have 20-50 folks, but there are others where we have 125-150.  *gulp*


Friends, we’re going to need a bigger boat.


We’re going to need to immerse ourselves in lots of prayer, self-care practices, and trusting in God.


First and foremost, prayer: lifting up the neighbors we’re helping, the communities in which we serve, the folks who are coming here to do missions, and those of us who are equipping others to go out and do the work – to be the hands, feet, and smile of Jesus. Prayer that the weather cooperates and that everyone stays safe and healthy. Prayer that we are doing more than “just” home repairs – that we are also building community – being in relationship with our neighbors, getting to know folks who might be a little different than us. Prayer that we make an impact – not only through improving homes, but by showing the love of Christ. Prayer that those who come to Hinton leave here changed – transformed – as well.


There’s a lot of planning and preparation that goes into a summer of missions. It’s also a lot of long days and hard work. Self-care becomes such an important piece, because you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else. We know this… but how often do we really live like we know it? How often do we continue to pour out for others without pausing to take care of ourselves?


While there’s lots of anticipation and excitement building for this wonderful thing we call summer missions, and we’ve been preparing for some time, at one point we have to just face the fact: We need to just jump in, trusting that God’s got this.


Are you ready to jump with me?


poison ivy

Summer Tips: Identifying Poison Ivy


Warm weather is here (FINALLY) and that means outdoor adventures! Whether you’re planning a trip to your nearest downtown pocket park or headed to the Smokies, environment awareness is key.

So let’s talk about those pesky little three-leaf plants that seem to rub us all the wrong way (literally). Poison ivy, also known as Toxicodendron radicans, is a common threat to hikers, cyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts. But if you know how to properly ID the plant, you can avoid an itchy situation, an “itch-uation” as I like to call it.

Identifying Poison Ivy:

“Leaves of three, let it be.” Yes, this is true. The poison ivy plant comes with three leaves. But so do many other harmless plants! Learn more distinctive poison ivy traits so you don’t have to avoid the entire forest.

  • longer middle stem
  • pointy tip on each leaf
  • the outer leaves will have a mitten shape (like tiny little green hands with thumbs on the outside)
  • hairy vines (when the plant loses leaves and climbs trees, the hairs are used to adhere to tree trunks)
  • poison ivy plants are a reddish-brown and glossy in the fall (and when they’re new), and green in spring and summer
  • most grown plants still have a hint of reddish brown on the stem and leaf outline
  • some plants have berries. These will be white or cream and slightly fuzzy.

If You Come in Contact With Poison Ivy:

You won’t break out right away, unless you have a serious reaction to the plant’s oils. But take a few precautions to avoid a nasty rash:

  • wash the exposed area with soap and water ASAP, preferably within a couple hours
  • wash clothes in warm water
  • wash anything else that may have been exposed to the plant’s oils (wipe your phone with a cleansing wipe, your water bottle, etc.)
  • don’t scratch! This spreads the oils and causes serious agitation

Take your knowledge to the next level! Take this Poison Ivy Quiz.



Stay safe out there! Nature is such a blessing, and we hope you have only the best time experiencing it.