One of the greatest evidences of the Lord’s blessing on our family vacation was the way he timed each stop. In North Carolina, the day of our arrival providentially coincided with the day our cousin needed help packing for a move; in Savannah, Georgia, the one day we passed through was the day after school had finished for a friend we hadn’t seen in seven years; in Florida we found that winter was the right time to find the famous Florida manatees; our day in Lakeland was the only day open in our hosts’ busy schedule there; and now, in Tennessee, at the home of Gil and Kelly Bates we landed on the day of a birthday celebration! (I guess the chances of that happening are higher when you have 19 in your family!)
Being my first visit, I was impressed right away with the joyfulness displayed by everyone. At the same time, it was easy to tell that Mr. and Mrs. Bates had unquestioned but loving authority over all. Mr. Bates welcomed us in to the front room where a glowing wood stove added to their warm greetings. Mrs. Bates gave us a grand tour of their house-in-progress which is now completely enclosed and beginning to acquire the look of home. The children were good story-tellers.
That evening flew by. After a wonderful dinner with brownies and ice cream for dessert, everyone (except Nathan and I) sat down to listen as Nathan gave an exhortation from the Bible about walking in the light. The Lord helped me to come up with a brightly-colored accompanying chalk talk thanks to the easel that Mr. Bates had on hand. Then a caving trip was arranged. Even though we tried to go early, it was after 1:00am by the time we returned. Games followed and finally a good night’s rest.
By the way though I must admit that not much time had expired after our arrival before I ended up, along with a couple others, in the “jail”. It was a perfect hideout, made for the children, designed to utilize the space above a staircase. Perfectly remarkable.
The next morning we did manage to get away for the final trip home around 11:00. It had been a wonderful time. The Bates Bed and Breakfast was more than another wonderful stop. It was a reminder that when the important things, such as Scripture and family harmony, are put first, our joy will be full. Thank you again Bates family.