Follow our journey

Our five-year dream: Create a Carolina mountain retreat center

Join our VIP list to stay updated.

September 2019

It’s challenging to move from one city to another, but moving three states away…well, that’s a whole different animal. Especially when you have a special needs adult and you’re sending your first child to college in the state you left behind.


Since he aged out of public school in July, Tristan and I are adapting to being with each other full-time. Weeks after we arrived, he needed to get two molars extracted. It took some major insurance acrobatics to get everything covered, but we (God) did it. To keep this 6’4″, 230-pound young man active, three days a week, he and I visit Russ’ gym so he can get his $1 per mile on the treadmill while I resuscitate the Zumba class I taught for eight years.

While adapting to having Tristan as my daily companion, I also launched Tirzah, our eldest daughter, by returning her to Orlando for her freshman year of college. Yes, weeping ensued, but I’m getting my Tirzah-fix daily through the Marco Polo app.

Building a Dream

Slow and steady is the way you build a dream. And that’s how we plan to build our retreat center, fully anticipating God to continue aiding in the process. To that end, Russ and I created a calendar with the goal of completing our first tiny house by April 2020.

In the meantime, we are working on zoning, pricing trailers (the foundation for the tiny house), and researching designs. To get us warmed up for the construction process, we are revamping a canning room in our detached garage and creating an office/AV studio for me. Yay!

Our first investment, though—especially before winter—is a four-wheel drive truck. With how challenging these mountain roads are to traverse in the fall, I can only imagine the difficulty with a foot of snow on the ground!

While it’s still warm, Russ is also carving out trails through the woods from our backyard into the Natahala National Forest. He’s already created a one-mile trail, and he took a five-mile trail-bike ride through state lands. The views are amazing! So far we’ve seen foxes, deer, raccoons, chipmunks, wild rabbits, dozens of hummingbirds, and yes, even fresh bear scat!

We know autumn is approaching as the trees surrounding our house rain down acorns on our roof every few minutes, and we’re looking forward to our first North Carolina leaf-changing season!

See you next month!

August 2019

My opportunity to become flexible for yoga is nothing compared to my need to become flexible and adaptable to this new life in the mountains. They have something up here called “mountain time” and for “A” type personalities like me, it takes you to a whole new world of patience. I’m learning that EVERYTHING takes longer up here: Longer to get anywhere, longer to get financial things done, and definitely longer latency for internet (that means I often feel like I’m using dial-up).

I keep reminding myself that this is good for my character, and that God is trying to transform me. Or as Russ keeps reminding me, “just get done what you can get done and save the rest for tomorrow.”

There are some bright spots: We DID get internet (finally), we unpacked most of the boxes from the house, and I’m actually finding my way around Sylva and Franklin, NC without Google Maps. Also, here’s a few videos while we were enjoying our property:

July 2019

After some serious obstacles three days before our Orlando home closing (and then a few more after we closed on our Sylva home), we finally made it to our mountaintop in an area locally known as Pumpkintown.

The ride has been full of joys, challenges, surprises, and friends. Our biggest challenge has been securing consistent internet and cell phone service. And with three young adults in the family and a mom who relies on the internet for work, that’s a big deal! We gave in and got a landline (haven’t had one of those in YEARS), and should have our internet in place soon.

Meanwhile, Russ started his job at Franklin Health & Fitness Center and is getting used to working 8-5 after being a subcontractor for many years. We also connected with our spiritual family in Asheville, and are rekindling old relationships and building new ones.

June 2019

We found it. Our dream home (and future retreat center) is on 15 acres in southern Jackson County, NC, at an elevation of almost 4000 feet. The property backs up against 3000 acres of the Natahala National Forest so there is unlimited access to nature quite literally in our (future) backyard. Our offer on the house has been accepted and we are currently in the due diligence phase of the contract. What’s more, Russ secured a full-time position at a hopping local NC gym.

In the meantime, we have also accepted an offer on our Orlando home. Our tentative closing date is July 18th.

God has cleared our path in more ways than I can recount here, but it’s surely to be recorded as legend in the future annals of the Carolina Mountain Retreat center. Continuing to pray to our God who has already done immeasurably more than we asked or imagined. 

May 2019

It’s official. We put our Orlando home up for sale May 15, 2019 (are you looking for a 4/2?). We’ll be heading to Jackson County, North Carolina this summer. It’s exciting because God has been working in so many ways, clearing our path.

We’re excited to be part of the Asheville Church and connect with friends and “family”. Our son, Tristan, and our youngest, Tia, will be going with us, but our daughter, Tirzah, will be remaining in Central Florida to attend Valencia College.

It’s almost time to embark on our long awaited adventure! 


October 2018 Trip Gallery

January 2017 Trip Gallery

Dockside Mountain
Russ Snoozing by Lake
Kim Resting on Bench
Dockside Mountain
Morning Mountain Mist
Little Choga Community Church
Little Choga Rd, NC
Soco Falls, NC
River through the Trees
Road to Moutaintop
The Family at Soco Falls