This particular trip, I took such as Francine Rivers' The Atonement Child, Bruce Wilkinson's You Were Born for This, and Sybil MacBeth's Praying in Color ... to name a few. I also had my new sketchbook and a host of magazines for journaling.
It's what I love doing. I also love eating. And so on my first day alone, off I went for lunch; but on this particular outing, I was in for a greater blessing than reading or eating. God was about to treat me with His own flesh and blood.
Meet Russell and Dorry. Russell is one of the first people I ever met -- literally -- when I went to New Bern, NC some 5 years ago. At the time, he was the bellman at the Sheraton (now Hilton) when we checked in. He's a retired accountant who never meets a stranger and can even be found walking the neighbor's dog at night on the grounds of the hotel. He's also the one who suggested I try Stanly Hall Cafe this particular trip and their chocolate grits. (I'm forever indebted for that one, Russell!)
He and Dorry own Bear Essentials down on Middle Street, which, yes, runs smack dab through the middle of downtown. I never miss the opportunity to visit the shop. One knows right away upon entering that it's a special place. Herbal teas and organic chocolates are just the beginning of this sensory experience as the smell of essential oils from the candles and natural bath products send the olfactory nerve into a heaven all its own. But it's Doree's calming countenance and soft voice that puts it over the edge and makes anyone's day slow down and cause them to experience the moment. And whether I leave empty handed or with a bag slung over my arm, I always leave feeling refreshed after having visited with this woman.
Carved into the building just behind Bear Essentials is Etched in Time Designs. Having just located to their new location downtown, this was my first visit with this vivacious lady and her joy-filled husband Joe. After looking at a few of their items, I commented, "Y'all must be Methodist!" It was then that Joe popped his head around the door from the back room and looked to see who would make such a brash statement. Sure enough, he's a retired United Methodist minister now serving the community at Bridgeton UMC just across the river.
What an absolute delight it was spending time with this precious couple and hearing their stories. No doubt, there was a kindred spirit an immediate bond that can come only from the indwelling Holy Spirit who binds us together. I just love that about the Body and I'm always so grateful for such opportunities to meet siblings in Christ -- and this was no exception. When I went back the following morning for a picture, Joe was unavailable. He was teaching Bible study. But Emily and I had a few more good laughs, and I'm already looking forward to my next trip back and throwing my arms around both of them.
Every time I've been to New Bern, I've wanted to check out The Next Chapter Bookstore, but always hit at an inopportune time -- until now. And what a treat it was. I was the only customer in this used bookstore for a period, and so I just pulled up a stool and made myself at home. But as much as I enjoyed looking through the mass assortment of books, the thrill was meeting this beautiful northern transplant and just chatting -- for an hour and a half! We determined quite quickly that the War of Northern Aggression was over and I was able to admit my gratitude that my side actually lost. Patti and I share a love for learning and for books. She told me about the ones she was reading right now and I told her of mine -- and we each wrote the other's down. I found a sweet spirit in this lady and am looking forward to more hours of communion.
Yes, it was a delightful day of new relationships founded and old ones renewed. It was an afternoon of restoration and joy. It was a day when the Lord brought His children across each others paths to nourish and sustain and, quite frankly, to bring healing to a weary traveler.
And so I bless each of you: Russell, Dorry, Joe, Emily and Patti. Each of you in your own right is an ambassador and you greeted well this stranger to your land. I pray that the Lord's favor would be upon you and that everything that you put your hand to He would establish and cause to succeed. May you know His great love for you and may you walk in a greater awareness of His presence with you, for each of you is the apple of His eye and His desire is for you. Thank you for welcoming this sojourner into your life on such a hot and muggy June afternoon and allowing the Lord to use you to bring restoration to this body, soul and spirit.
And to the rest of my readers, you, too, are ambassadors, and I exhort you to pay attention to the people who come across your path this week. After all, it just might be a God-thing. In fact, I have every suspicion it will be nothing less.
for which I am an ambassador...
Just an ordinary moment...