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Off the Beaten Path!

Recently my husband and I decided to make a quick pit stop at an Oklahoma rest area a mile or so from the Texas border. Normally we would have pushed through to Tulsa but it was a lovely day and you never know what you may discover when leaving the beaten path. And as you can see, the accommodations were quite impressive! In fact, I needed help in climbing into what is quite likely the largest outdoor chair in Oklahoma!

With legs dangling in the air, I had a brief larger than life moment and John and I shared a few good laughs! Thankfully, I was able to disembark without serious injury and we meandered around a bit undeterred by our preset arrival schedule. And although there were no roses to smell, we managed to relax and idle our engines on a bright sunny Okie afternoon. The short departure from the norm left us feeling refreshed and the ride home a bit more pleasant.

Earlier this month, we took another long road trip to the East Coast to see my in-laws along with a ministry engagement. On the rebound, we decided to revise our normal travel plan to include stops in Virginia and Tennessee. And just for the record, America is a stunningly beautiful land and Virginia's Shenandoah Valley is a must see sight. After a great evening with my niece and her boyfriend in Lynchburg, Virginia we headed towards the Grand Ole Opry and a special stay at the quaint Daisy Hill Bed and Breakfast [B&B] in Nashville.

After a good night's rest, we shared a breakfast table with a lovely couple from Paducah, Kentucky. They were flying out that day to Florida to recover from a week-long visit with their two-year old granddaughter! It's every grandparent's duty to replenish their batteries after extended stays with the grandkids! I think that's why Florida is experiencing record number of visitors this year!

Okay, I know that the B&B experience may not be for everyone. Most inns are older homes--some even listed on the National Registry of Historical Places and typically filled with antique furniture, frilly curtains, and bedspreads we gals seem to like. My husband really doesn’t care about these features but he does the B&B thing for me--and because he likes meeting people we would otherwise not have met. Whereas most inquire about the breakfast menu, my guy is usually more interested in the folks sitting across the breakfast table.

That morning we took our seats and exchanged brief introductions while sipping on our first cups of coffee. Shortly thereafter, we went off script from the normal pleasantries shared by strangers to tales about Ireland and the Czech Republic. Somehow my husband had injected our often repeated story of an amazing God who still leads people to unexpected outcomes and destinations. He threw out the bait and a couple of strangers drew near to hear more about non-linear paths and adventure.

When it was time to leave, we all recognized that something special had taken place. Bonds were forged and our new friends from Paducah left encouraged with a pledged copy of my husband’s first book, Who Moved the Cloud. In return, we were given an open invitation to stay in a fine western Kentucky home. Even more remarkable was the orchestration needed to arrange for two couples traveling in opposite directions to be in the right place, at the right time, to hear the right story in a B&B tucked away in Music City!

Only God can pull off such improbable "off the beaten path" meetings and it is always exciting to be part of such encounters. However, we have choices and much hinges on our willingness to master our schedules and make unexpected stops along the way. This could include a word of encouragement with that Salvation Army bell ringer or harried retail worker. Maybe it’s a short trip across the street to offer a great cheerful greeting to a new neighbor or expressing your appreciation to an old friend, teacher, or family member; thank a police officer, fireman, or military person for their service.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and do your best to step away and enjoy an unplanned moment!

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