Well, we are home!
And all I want to say is "Ya'll!"
"Ya'll want breakfast? Ya'll want to help me take these suitcases upstairs? Ya'll want to go on a walk later?"
This California girl wants to be a Southern girl!
And as soon as I'm done blogging, I'm going on Netflix and ordering the movie “Steel Magnolias” for Rachel to watch. Because for the last seven days, I've felt as if we've been in it!
The cast of characters include Sandy and Cheryl (Donna’s funny and sweet Southern sisters), “Nanny” (Donnna’s momma who I can barely understand as she’s as original as they come!) and all their Southern girlfriends who say, “Y’all,” “Fixin’” and
“Kee-yute!” (Californian for “cute.”)
Our days were spent shopping, shopping and shopping. Poor Rachel, I’m sure, wanted to pull out her eyeballs and throw them in a tree. But between the antique stores and the boutiques, we were treated to a good ol’ hometown Friday night football game (go North Hall Trojans!) and met so many of their dear friends. One in particular, a beautiful woman named Jane, lived in a 10,000 square foot to-die-for Southern home. It was filled with everything we buy at antique stores, but every item actually belonged to her family. She had her "Gran-Gran's" childhood books, tables and reading glasses. Jane was the quintessential Southern lady who I just fell in love with.
We also spent our time getting to know Sandy’s three handsome boys. They have been beautifully raised as the perfect Southern gentlemen. And yes, they're all available ladies! (Well, Matt is only 15 so I'm hoping he and Rachel may have a future one day!) And I just l-o-v-e-d hearing their deep-voiced Southern drawl when they said, “Yes, Ma’am.” I ate that up I tell ya! Is it too late to teach my kids to say that to me? Or to teach Ed? :)
At night, I found myself in a sweatshirt walking around Sandy’s neighborhood. Picture Sherwood, but affordable! As soon as I would be alone, the tears would just sting my eyes as I was just so grateful to be on this trip. My body feels great, I’ve had no side effects from this new chemo regimen and my feet have always wanted to walk on Georgia soil. To put it simply, it was seven days of pure joy.
However, on the fifth day of our trip, I experienced joy times a trillion! Yes, I said a trillion! For that is the day we drove to Dunwoody, Georgia to the First Baptist Church of Atlanta to hear my boy Dr. Charles Stanley preach. Can I just tell you that I was freaking out! With a capital F! When I heard him preaching in the 9:00 service (we had arrived early for the 10:30 service), I could not believe that he was actually there. Or that I was actually there! Hearing his voice. In person. Not through a car radio. Not on my bathroom radio. Unreal. And when we sat down in the sixth row, front and center, and he came out to sit down while the choir sang, I just about died. I could not wipe that giddy smile off my face. And his sermon was on “Your Constant Companion” (the Holy Spirit) and the Gifts of the Spirit. I ate up every single word of it.
Had I had a chance to speak with Dr. Stanley, I would have told him that his words have impacted my life greatly since my cancer diagnosis. “Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him” you know is my favorite. I also love, “Fight all your battles on your knees, and you’ll win every time.” We all agreed that from the moment he spoke, we all felt such comfort. And by the way, he said “Now watch this” seven times -- I made tally marks on my church bulletin. I will frame that.
And want to hear a great story? At the beginning of summer, I wrote an article to submit to the Guideposts writing contest. Twelve winners were going to be selected to win an all expense-paid trip to Washington over October 15th through the 19th. I had finally condensed my cancer journey into a 1,500-word article that I actually thought had a chance of winning. I printed it out, addressed the envelope, put a lot of postage on that big envelope and then let it sit on my desk. “Lord, is this where you want me to be on October 15th?” I asked. Never having peace with sending it, I missed the deadline and tucked it away. Notice the dates I’ve been in Georgia? I think there’s something to this thing called obedience! :)
On our way back to the airport, we spent a few hours in downtown Atlanta. We walked through Olympic Park, saw the CNN and American Cancer Society buildings, and had a great time at the Georgia Aquarium. And no shopping -- it was a good day for Rachel!
So these past seven days have just been a dream come true. We were surrounded by Southern hospitality, gorgeous scenery and great food. I didn’t pass out any cancer necklaces, but I did leave one for a Georgia artist who is known by the locals as “cap man” as he nails an old bottle cap on to every piece of art work he completes. He also has nailed over 100,000 old bottle caps onto his truck. If anyone deserves the name “cap man,” I think this guy does.
So here are just a few of the highlights from our trip...
Our first night in North Carolina making s’mores and wearing matching pjs to celebrate Rachel’s 11th birthday.
One of many steeple churches. My favorite thing to see!
A country club in North Carolina. I don’t golf, but I would certainly learn to play here!
One of the charming homes in Sandy’s neighborhood.
It's so not a cottage, but I'll take it!
A sweet ol’ boy named Bucky Jones who greets people in a furniture store. I needed to love on this boy ‘cus I missed my own!
One of the cute bathrooms in the Southern Living Idea House...
My favorite photo of Rachel and I outside the cute stores in North Carolina. They're all decorated with mums and pumpkins...
An amazing old Southern home on Green Street...
And leaving the best for last...
Us girls standing in front of Charles Stanley’s church.
We made it!!!
Thank you, Lord, for a very special trip. And thank you to Donna’s family for welcoming Rachel and I with open, lovin' Southern arms!