I just heard someone in Minnesota yell, "Charleston, SC?!" You're Right! You win the unidentified prize for today. (Please be sure to leave your name in the comment section and we'll cheer your astute geographic ascertaining.) :-)
Frank and I were to leave last Thursday for a visit to his mom in NC. We were then to go on to Ocean Isle to preach on Sunday. On the Wednesday before, we learned that a hurricane would be crossing our path so we had to make a quick adjustment to our plans. We obviously couldn't drive through the hurricane so we would need to stop overnight.
Kristin and Cody got busy and found a hotel for us in SC. Imagine my delight when they told us it was in Charleston, SC. I've wanted to visit that city for many years. They topped off our joy by blessing us with the room. Kids are the Best!
It did rain pretty badly just as we were arriving in Charleston. So we decided to check in and call it a night. Frank took on the role of "hunter/gatherer" in order to find a bit of dinner. He hit it out of the park when we brought back fish and chips from a delightful English pub he discovered a couple of blocks from our hotel. He took me by there the next day so I could take a peak at their unusual wallpaper.
Yes, those are dollar bills - literally thousands of real dollar bills stapled to every square inch of exposed drywall. Years ago, some tourist came up with the idea of signing their name to a dollar bill then stapling it to the wall. Soon others followed their lead. Eventually, thousands of bills were layered all around the restaurant.
I know it's thousands because the owner told Frank they used part of the money to pay their servers during the shutdown earlier this year. He and the co-owner spent hours carefully removing staples from each bill in order to retreive it from the wall. They cleared only one section and were able to give their employees over $12,000!!
That's a LOT of souvenir dollar bills.
We took the next morning to play tourists ourselves. After checking out of our hotel, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at another historic spot. The decision was made to get the official tour of Charleston by way of a carriage ride. Tickets were purchased and we waited patiently on a bench in the sunshine for our assigned time.
When they loaded us onto the carriage with the other patrons, Frank and I were sitting seperately. Now usually, I'm a pretty co-operative tourist. But did I mention I had wanted to visit Charleston for many years? And that I had long imagined us touring the city by horse and buggy? In none of my imagining did I see us sitting on seperate benches with me looking at the back of Frank's head.
So, I boldly asked the attendant if we could wait for the next carriage. He obliged. And although it meant a delay, I was much happier snuggled next to my favorite travel buddy listening to the tour guide and whispering to each other about the lovely sights. Sometimes, it's better to speak up.
Next stop - North Carolina. . . by car, not carriage.
Frank did get an entire day with Mom. They enjoyed lunch at her favorite barbeque spot. They ran a few errands, helping Mom stock up. They rode around town, just the two of them revisiting all the homes they had lived in together. They laughed together and swiped at a few tears. What a team they've been all these years.
We're so thankful for Frank's two younger brothers and their families who do such a great job of taking care of Mom. We all say she's a 16 year old girl trapped in an 86 year old body! She still loves life and is totally independent. We're proud of her for staying young in her thinking.
We preached on Sunday and (as usual) met new friends. Barry and Chris moved to Ocean Isle two years ago. They invited us to join them for a lovely pre-Thanksgiving turkey dinner at their home. Their little dog, Gabriel, was there and announced our arrival. (Comical play on the name totally intended by Barry.) We laughed and talked and prayed together going long past our intended time. What a delight.
Of course, we also checked in with old friends who live there, as well. But most of this trip was given to quiet times of prayer and reflection. Long walks on the beach. (Bundled up, of course. We're totally Floridians now.) Lots of reading and even a bit of writing. Being early risers allowed us to enjoy both the sunrise and sunset each day. This sunrise was particularly brilliant; it looked like the sky was on fire.
But no matter how far we roam, there's no place like home. This smile, along with eight others just as precious were here to greet us when we returned.
I have stories and pictures about our Thanksgiving to share but I'll save them for the next post. I don't know whether your Thanksgiving was quiet or loud; many or few; bountiful or slim. I'm not sure if you ate togheter in old places or if perhaps you were joined by some new faces. HOwever you celebrated, my prayer for you today is that you may approach this season filled with peace and a quiet assurance that God is with us in it all.
A heart of Gratitude will Always be Filled!