beautiful places faith grateful heart monday Tennessee

The Long Way. (A Grateful Heart)

January 5, 2015

It was our first morning in our new state, our new city, our new home. I woke up early, just as the sun was beginning to rise. I looked over at Christian, still asleep, and quietly threw on my sweatshirt and shoes. I tiptoed downstairs and remembered there was no food, and more importantly- no coffee, in our still empty house. I grabbed my keys, jumped in the car, and typed “Starbucks” into my phone. The closest one gave me two route options: the first route would get me there in 10 minutes – a straight shot on the highway, and the other would get me there in 20. Clearly getting my coffee as soon as possible was my first thought – our movers would be here in 30 minutes and I wanted to be back to the house in time to give Christian his wake-up beverage and to help direct moving traffic. But I kept staring at the 2nd route… it was winding and jumpy, in certain places zig-zaggy, very different from the straight shot of the first route. So I clicked on the second, determined to see what the long way was like in my new city.

It wasn’t five minutes into the drive and my heart stopped as my jaw dropped onto my lap. I drove slowly as I breathed in the beauty, up and down hills, around corners, climbing higher and higher. It was 55 degrees out and I rolled my windows down. I wanted to feel the air on my cheeks, whipping through my fingers. The fog held onto the pavement, not ready to let go for the day, and I watched it roll slowly across the fields in the distance. I smiled as I envisioned what that field might look like in the summer – full of wildflowers. I climbed another hill and quickly glanced over the edge – no guard rail, just down, down, down to a valley that was still green – like something I’d find in one of my dreams. Was this real? The sun rose higher and I drove on, secretly wishing the drive could last a bit longer. It was then that I reached the very top of the hill and as the road flattened out, the sun and the fog met and it was like I could feel the quietness. I could not get over the beauty – it was like it covered me completely. Still with no one else around, I stopped the car to get out for just a minute- just long enough to snap a picture. I wanted to remember this moment, my first adventure in this new place.

Tears filled my eyes as I climbed back into my car to continue my coffee drive. This was most certainly a gift. It was God, welcoming me to my new home in a quiet yet spectacular way, whispering “good morning” with each ray of sunshine that shot through the trees, creating beautiful lines for me to drive through. He had met me when I’d said ‘yes’ to His direction, and that’s when it occurred to me… What if I’d taken the shorter route? The easier, straighter route? Sure, I would’ve made it back to the house on time but I most definitely would have missed the beauty of the long way.

Oh, how we might miss the beauty God gifts to us, simply because we want our own way. The way that appears to be better because it’s faster… shorter… easier. But that’s just it – life is not a straight shot. It’s winding and jumpy, in certain places zig-zaggy. There are even times we have to turn around and start back at the beginning. But He meets us there, He does. He meets us in the winding, in the messiness, and in the times we have to start completely over. And what’s more, He gifts to us beauty… detail… peace… adventure.

Why did He do it? A shack would have sufficed, but He gave us a mansion. Did He have to give the birds a song and the mountains a peak? Was He required to put stripes on the zebra and the hump on the camel? Why wrap creation in such splendor? Why go to such trouble to give such gifts? 

Why do you? You do the same. I’ve seen you searching for a gift. I’ve seen you stalking the malls and walking the aisles. I’m not talking about the obligatory gifts. I’m talking about that extra-special person and that extra special gift. Why do you do it? You do it so the heart will stop. You do it so the jaw will drop. You do it to hear those words of disbelief, “You did this for me?”

That’s why you do it. And that is why God did it. Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.”  – “God’s Great Gifts” from the Morning & Evening Devotional, Grace for the Moment, by Max Lucado

Thanks be to God for His gift that is too wonderful for words. – 2 Cor 9:15 
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What are you grateful for?

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Ember Grey: Grateful Heart


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  • Jae

    I love this, Em. I get the same overwhelming feeling when I get the chance to appreciate God's magnificent creations when you least expect it.

  • this is very beautiful. I was reading through thinking, yup, you just said yes to God's beautiful nudging words – and you were so rewarded! I love it even more when you just realise what is happening IN the moment. What a beautiful start to the day!!

  • Beautifully written….beautiful words, beautiful images….how lucky are you that you got to experience it, that you get to live there, but more importantly that you are grateful for it? Beautiful!

  • Liz

    This is absolutely incredibly written, Emily! I love this. I want to share this later this week sometime. Beautiful! I am glad that He gave you this as a "housewarming" gift!! Lovely!! xoxo

  • That sounds so beautiful! I can totally sympathize with the immediate need for Starbucks…I'm glad it led you down such a beautiful route!

  • Kristen: a mom seeking up

    Love love love this post. Max Lucado is one of my favorite spiritual writers, too!

  • Wow, this post, amazing Emily.

  • Oh Em, what a beautiful start to Grateful Heart 2015..gorgeous imagery and so beautifully written. You really put me in awe with your writing, friend!!! What a wonderful experience to have on your first day there. Surely God celebrating your willingness to listen to His call 🙂 XO

  • So beautiful, felt like I was right there in the car with you reading this! Great writing!

  • How amazing is it that in the midst of the busyness of moving, He slowed you down so you could just "be". I prefer the windy, zig-zag roads to the straight and narrow–they always give me that sense of adventure!

  • Oh man, I'm sitting here at work trying not to ugly cry. This is beautiful, perfectly said, and it really spoke to me. Thank you.

  • I. Love. This. It always amazes when chooses to show himself, it's such a deep and spiritual moment! Thank you for sharing this friend!

  • Vivian

    Wow! This is beautiful!

  • Thanks, Jae. His surprises are the absolute best 🙂

  • Exactly! 🙂 Most of the time I realize it hours or even days later, looking back. It was so special to understand it right in the moment. Thanks for your sweet note, Finley 🙂

  • Thanks, friend 🙂 It was the perfect welcome!!

  • That means so much, Liz, thank you for these sweet words! 🙂 "Housewarming gift" – I love that 😉 XO!

  • Thank you, Kristen! I read and then re-read Max Lucado's books 🙂 So good.

  • haha! Coffee was the first thing we bought for our new house 😉 Thanks for reading, Kira!!

  • <3 Thanks, Kerri 🙂

  • Thank you for these sweet words!! 🙂 It's been very gray and rainy the past 4 days here, which makes that first beautiful morning all the more special. Something I'll always remember 🙂 xo!

  • Thank you, Whitney! 🙂 It was a perfect morning!

  • Lady, you always know how to bring a smile to my face. XO thank you- I feel the same 🙂

  • 🙂 I love you.

  • awww! 🙂 Thanks, Julia. xo

  • I KNOW!! He is so, SO good. And it's funny how I'm always surprised by that, you know? And yet, I think that's His favorite part 😉

  • I know it, lady. Me too. It's like a reset button to the soul! XO

  • Ash, you are the sweetest. I know what you mean- it's always such a perfect surprise 🙂 God is good!

  • Thank you, Vivian! 🙂

  • Em, you are wonderful. And I love this story! You are such a great writer, and it made me feel like I was in the passenger seat with you!

  • I have just come from my mountain trip where the weather is also in the 50's. Fog, mountain, trees. All beautiful, all reminders of a beautiful Creator.

    I'm sure glad you took the long way 🙂

  • Emily. This was written so beautifully. I felt like I was right there with you. Our God is so good.

  • Taking the long way is so worth it. Love this, friend. So excited for you and your new adventures!

  • This is beautiful Emily. I am always one for backroads. Im happy you found this glory. Gods gifts are beautiful. To make you feel at home by showing you this beauty is such a warm and cozy feeling. Hope you have a fantastic week!

  • I just love your heart. And I love how God showed up like that. He always reminds us in the most beautiful ways how He is for us…even in the little things. I need to come visit your new town!

  • I think this is my very favorite post yet! So beautiful and so true….finding the gift along the way can often be missed but if we truly open our eyes His beauty is all around us. Thanks so much for these words!

  • Hey Emily. My trip to the mountain did not involve camping or any activity of that sort, but I went to my fiancé's seminary (where I'll be studying in June!) The campus is gorgeous and the students represent many nations from around the world. Needless to say I'm thrilled to move there, making sure to bring a lot of antihistamines till I get acclimated.

  • How exciting! June will be here before you know it 🙂 2015 sounds like it will be quite the year for you!

  • I'm so glad you read this in just the right moment 🙂 His reminders always come at the perfect time… and I feel so grateful when I'm present enough to hear and see them. XO

  • Whenever my mom and I would go on road trips with the family, she and I always begged my dad and brother to take the more scenic route (it never worked… highway every time). I love knowing I got that sense of adventure from her. xo

  • Thank you, Kenji 🙂 I felt the same… I'm excited to take my family on that early morning drive when they come to visit… I feel like it's the best way to welcome anyone to this place!

  • XO 🙂 I sometimes forget that God loves the details as much as I do (okay, more). I can't wait for you to visit, Amy! We will have to take that drive to Starbucks together!!

  • Thanks, Vicky 🙂 Slowly but surely we are settling in!

  • This made me smile, Shelly 🙂 Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave this sweet note.

  • The simple things are the most spectacular things, and my favorite things of all. XO

  • I really do believe that some of the most beautiful bits of our lives are the ones we sometimes forget about or don't even know exist until we stumble upon them. This is yet another heartwarming post! Thank you, Emily. 🙂

    I've been slacking with my Grateful Heart posts but I'll get back to it soon!