Florida, here I come again!

The view at our hotel in Crystal River

One of the Indian Mounds at the State Park in Crystal River

First Presbyterian, Crystal River, FL

Naples Community Church

Some of the amazing, weird ficus trees at Edison's house

In Ford's garage - a 1917 model T and a 1929 model A

My mom and Nancy in the Royal Palms at Edison and Ford's estates

Another Triple D place - Keegan's

Well, another busy week, great times, and really hard times. Isn’t that always the way?

Last Friday I got up ridiculously early for me – 5 am. What is this I hear about people who actually get up at this time on purpose?! Craziness. So by 6:30 I had showered, dressed, packed, eaten, driven to the airport and dropped my car, taken the shuttle, checked my bags, gone through security and was waiting for my flight. Normally I wouldn’t have been awake yet. I felt heroic. And tired.

Took a flight to Nashville, changed planes and landed in Tampa. My mom (who had come down early to spend some time with her mom) picked me up and took me straight to a surprise lunch for my grandma’s 92nd birthday (surprise for Grandma, I actually knew about it, you know what I meant). My grandma’s so cute. We were too early, so I pretended that I had forgotten something and HAD to stop at the pharmacy (you know, it was like a hair gel emergency, grandma!) and she never suspected a thing. She was so shocked when she found out that I was so duplicitous and that I bought something I didn’t even NEED! Almost broke her heart, that $4.26 I spent in the name of her surprise.

After lunch, my mom and I drove up to Crystal River, Florida where I was doing a women’s retreat the next day. I had another serendipitous Hotwire experience. I usually try to get my hotels cheap to save the people bringing me in some money – I really don’t like spending other people’s money. Well, I got this on Hotwire where you don’t even see what you’re bidding on until you get it, and it was wonderful. We ended up at the Plantation Golf Resort which was right on the water, so we had a beautiful walk and even went up to one of the state parks and saw the Indian mounds before it got dark. Then we had dinner and I prepped the talks before turning in.

The church, First Presbyterian, was literally just down the street, and we had such a good time. It was a really nice group and we just did a day long retreat with some worship, talked about Peter, sang some songs, had great food. It was a wonderful time together, and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it! They asked for the theme “Make Me An Instrument” and had decorated all around that – it was beautifully done. Thanks, Sharon, for the coolest nametag I’ve ever gotten at a retreat!

After the retreat mom and I drove down to Bonita Springs which is about 5 hours south, and stayed with our friends there, Nancy and Ralph (the ones I shouted out to on Moody Radio last month). The next morning I drove even farther south to Naples and sang the morning worship services at Naples Community Church and then gave a concert there as well that afternoon. They are celebrating moving into their new space which is a re-purposed dress shop. Check out the pictures – even as I was taking them I thought, who made this look so perfect? It’s a real hardship to be down here when it’s snowing at home, let me tell you. 🙂 Had a wonderful time visiting there too, especially since we have another friend, Wendy, who’s there. Thanks for having me!

We went out that night with some more friends who live here half the year (yes, we know the entire state of Florida). Then back to Ralph and Nancy’s. The next day we were touristing a little and visited Edison and Ford’s winter estates which were just beautiful. Edison was trying to find a substitute for rubber during the war and had brought in all kinds of plants to experiment on so the grounds were amazing. Drove back up for our flight to Tampa and my uncle took us to another Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives place where he actually knows the owner – Keegan’s. It was really good.

We had some very sad news while we were down here, though. My grandma’s cousin, Nick, passed away which was not a surprise because he was over 100, but still sad. More shocking, though, was the news that a close family friend at home had died very unexpectedly in her sleep. She was only 57 and wasn’t even ill. It’s still hard to believe. I was supposed to do another event on Tuesday, but they graciously let me reschedule and we changed our flights to get home in time for the funeral. It was so hard to see the family suffering and in shock, and brought back so many memories for me of dad’s funeral and our own loss. I have been praying so hard for them – this is going to be a tough road.

It’s brought home to me again that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Don’t wait to tell people you love then and don’t wait to tell them about Jesus – they need to know, and you never know if you’ll have another chance.

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