Monday, July 6, 2015

Alabama Adventures

Heading to New Jersey to pick up Greg

I despise driving through New York but at 3pm the traffic was managable. 

Crosby hung out with his friends for a week.

A rare dystopian read for us.  

Lunch in Roanoke, VA

I never imagined that some of our closest friends would be so far away.  In distance that is.  Not in heart.  Over the years our family has had a rocky ride with friendships.  The result is we are a little distrustful of them.   We are blessed to call Karen and Keilee our friends.  

Last year we met for the very first time after having blogged, texted and talked on the phone for years and years.  Alabama is a “short” four hour car ride from Greg’s parents in Tennessee.  Last year we planned our crazy road trip so that it would swing through Nashville and then through Decatur on the way to Knoxville. We had no crazy road trip component to our southern adventure this year, so the girls and I left Greg at his parents and we had our own road trip to Alabama and packed it with as much goodness as you can squeeze into 48 hours.  

48 hours is not much time to see someone you only see once a year so you have to make the most of each moment.  I feel like we were not tourists to their hometown but people who were just stopping by and sharing some time.  Visitors.  

Karen has been talking about this ah-mazing community of artists that gather at Lowe’s Mill in Huntsville for a long time.  She wanted to take us there since the love of art is something that all five of us have in common.  

On the way to Lowe’s Mill we picked out our favorite houses in the historical town of Mooresville, Alabama.  It’s only 64 acres with a population of under 100! 

If I lived close by, Lowe’s Mill would be one of my most favorite spots.  This is not a “come by my products” kind of place, like so many of the art of the green events that are held in our area are, where artists sell their work for hundreds and thousands of dollars and barely say hello to you when you stop to look.  Nope, this is the south y’all and people here could not be nicer.  They are not just selling their wares, they are inviting you to visit, stay a while, and learn their craft.  

We closed day one with dinner at Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ and a drive in movie!  I have not been to a drive in since I was a kid and the girls have never been.  How fortunate we were that one of their favorite movies, Home, was playing and that Keilee had not seen it.  We popped open the hatch on my Highlander, enjoyed some popcorn and candy and watched the lightning bugs illuminate the Alabama sky.  It was magical.  

We were lucky to have a hotel room since a large girls lacrosse tournament was taking place and our favorite spot, The Hampton Inn was sold out.  Our room at The Marriott did not quite fit our needs, with just a king size bed, but the three of us piled in and woke up bright and early Sunday morning to go to church!  

I have listened to Karen talk about Epic church for six years.  She and Keilee have grown with this church from when it first began with just a few dozen people, to what it is now, a church that serves thousands every weekend.  When my own church was going through a turbulent time, there were weekends when I would log on and listen to their band praise Jesus and their minister speak the words I so needed to hear.  I recall the times Keilee and Karen have volunteering their time and their talent, serving meals to the homeless, or participating in a giant tag sale where the goal is not to make money, but to simply give things away to those in need and I have longed to be a part of it, just once, if possible.  

In planning this trip, Grace said to me, “Mom, try to make it happen so we are in Alabama on Sunday and we can go to church at Epic.”  And so we did.  My thoughts and feeling about the service could fill up an entire post so I will save them for another day, but just know, it was wonderful.  Simply wonderful.  

Also wonderful was our trip to Keilee’s favorite store where Lilah picked out a headband that matches Keilee’s and our yummy breakfast at Cracker Barrel.  We had to refuel to gear up for a visit to Ava Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama.   This whole day was a celebration of friends who feel like family, and faith.  A perfect Sunday!

The problem with packing so much in, is that the time goes by so quickly and before we knew it it was time for us to head back to Tennessee.  There may have been some tears after the car doors were shut and we were on our way.  Not tears of sadness for I tell the girls all the time not to be sad because it is over, but revel in the fact that it happened.  We just were not quite ready to say see you later because later feels so very far away.  


Phyllis said...

It is really beautiful to see two of the blogs you follow become friends.

Diane Knecht said...

This is such a sweet, inspiring post. Two wonderful people/families that have come together and close friends is a beautiful thing.

Karen said...

Oh Jess. This is such a beautiful post. It made me so happy and sad and happy. We had the most amazing time. I would give almost anything if we were closer. We always have the very best of times with you and your girls. You feel like family. The very best kind of family, ones that you like and love so dearly ❤️

karisma said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful girls. How wonderful to see you all together with such happy smiles. <3

Chris Tilley said...

Reading about your visit with Karen and Keilee over on HomeschoolGirls made me come over and read your post on the visit. I really like the photos of the Ava Maria Grotto. Such amazing detail.

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