This past week when Nick was preaching a revival in Montpelier, Mississippi, we had to drive on the Natchez Trace each night to get to the church. It was about a 40 minute drive from where we were staying but we looked forward to it each time. You see, a lot has changed since the last time Nick and I drove on the Trace. It brought back a flood of memories and gave us a heart of gratitude for all God has done.
You see the last time we were on it was 25 years ago.
Nick was about to leave for boot camp and he was taking me to stay with his mom in Tennessee while he was gone. We were flat broke but wanted to do something special together before he left.
So instead of taking the interstate, we took our time and drove the Natchez Trace the entire way all the way.
In fact, this trip made it into our scrapbook as our very first "vacation". Bless us.
We stopped at every little bridge, picnic area, and scenic trail there was from Natchez to Tennessee. We even drove slower than the speed limit trying to make it last as long as we could and prolong the inevitable....the 2 months of being apart. (Boy, if we only knew what the Navy had in store for us. Two months being separated was like a walk in the park compared to what was coming with back to back six month Med cruises)
We were young and foolish and I'm pretty sure this was illegal but Nickie pulled over and picked me some cotton. (And remember...this was waaaay pre-instagram. I was taking pics of every single little thing even back then. Hashtag crazy camera lady. Back in the day when we still developed film.)
It was fun to reminisce and think of all the Lord has done in our lives since the last time we were here on this very road. He has since favored us with actual vacations. And I don't mean trips home to visit family....I mean the kind of vacations where you actually stay in hotels and eat out in restaurants. Seriously a big deal for us every time we do because we were 11 years into our marriage before this first happened. (Unless you count the time we lived in Virginia and we had a free night's hotel stay so we took the kids to Washington D.C. and splurged at Pizza Hut)
So much life and loss has happened during those 25 years.
Our family grew. We lost loved ones we miss dearly. We came to know the Lord.
We surrendered our lives to ministry. We watched our girls fall in love and fly our nest one by one.
We've experienced the joy of grandchildren. And over the years we've been blessed with friends who we consider our family.
Taking this route all week to church made me think back to when I was a little girl. My daddy liked to take the Trace instead of the interstate whenever we went on trips. It didn't matter that the interstate would get us there faster. The journey was as important to him as the destination. We would stop at every little interesting thing that grabbed his attention. It was a great way to travel. Sometimes along the way, in the midst of life, I forget the lesson my daddy had lived out before me. That there is so much joy in slowing down and enjoying the journey. We miss out on a lot of people and their stories when we are in a hurry. We miss out on the good stuff.
In the midst of all that goes on during a week of revival services, I also had a full week of preparing for a conference I'm speaking at on Saturday. I had a list of things to do, but I tried my best to slow down and enjoy the journey. So we got out and explored the area where we were staying. We lingered longer over breakfast and had extended conversations with new friends. And we made time to cultivate old friends, relationships that the Lord has blessed us with in the ministry who understands the ins and outs of the journey.
I was feeling a little frantic that I should have studied more. I should have gone over my notes more... and then I get home and get a text from a friend who simply said "How can I pray for you right now?" And after I sat there stunned for a minute at just how faithful God is to provide every little thing, I proceed to tell her how I was feeling a little frazzled about the conference. She then said, "I'm going face down over all of this before the Lord right now."
Wow. You see, He knew all that was on my plate. He knew what my days would consist leading up to this conference. He knew Nick would be preaching a revival and how tiring it can be with late nights and full days and traveling .
And He had gone before me and had already put me on the heart of a friend to pray for me.
To meet the needs of the areas I felt lacking.
He's got it all under control y'all.
So I'm gonna try to continue every chance I can get to take the scenic route.
To slow down and pay attention to those divine appointments He's provided for His glory.
I hope you take the scenic route this weekend.
I know you won't regret it.