OK this is really long but I have a full heart that really needs to share!
Mike had a conference in Savannah this week and he was sweet enough to take us with him. I have a lot I want to share from this trip but first things first. The most touching and amazing moment to me the entire trip. Those of you that already heard are thinking it was meeting Paula Deen and her family. While that was very special and I will share that with ya'll that wasn't the most special.
If you take nothing else from this note I pray you see how God is still working in our lives. As I sit and think back over this past few days I am blown away by God's love for our family and how he prepared each step of each day.
When at home it's easy to focus on the seizures, medication and all medical stuff. This trip was much needed and way pass due. I realized this week it has been since Iowa that we have had time for just us to be away like that. It was such a blessing and time to regroup and refill.
I have always admired Mike as a business man because he carries himself the same no matter who he is around. He doesn't change his beliefs to get a job done quicker, easier or better. Each day he walks he allows God to shine through. I believe evidence of the type of person someone is is shown in the friends that they keep. This week I had the opportunity to meet two very special colleagues of Mike's who have gone far past being just colleagues. They are extremely unique men, strong in their walks with Christ and they also allow that to shine through. I have heard Mike speak of Mike Thomas from Henry County quite often. Most times are when Mike is sharing with me that Mike is praying for us. I was honored to get to meet Mike this week.
The other colleague I got to meet was David Battson. David sponsored us in the Ronald McDonald run last year in Iowa and also Relay For Life. He sends word by Mike to let us know we are in his prayers. We are also on their prayer chain at his church. David had planned to come by our room to meet us Tuesday night before he went home to Macon. We missed his call and were already going to Lady & Sons to eat when he got in touch with us. Not long after we were seated David walks up to our table. First off I am very touched that he took the time out of his schedule to come and meet us. After Mike introduces us to him David asked if he could pray for Abe. The tears are flowing now as they did that night as David knelt beside Abe's stroller, held his hand and prayed over his precious body. Is there any more wonderful, unselfish gesture than to put self aside, allow God to flow so beautifully through oneself in the middle of a very busy restaurant. I was so over taken by the moment as I touched David and Abe as David prayed that I have no idea what the rest of the restaurant did. My prayer is that someone was moved that night to question their salvation and their walk. I pray that as David was praying for my precious son that God not only cleansed and healed his precious body but anointed mine to be bolder and braver in my witness and my walk.
Thank you for letting me share that most wonderful moment and memory. Thank you David for your love and boldness for God!
Sunday I posted a question for suggestions for restaurants in Savannah. I had always wanted to eat at Lady & Sons but thought because of the usual wait time we wouldn't be able to go. I didn't want to make everyone wait a long time for me to eat there. Well my friend Rene' told me that if we went to Uncle Bubba's to eat, which we wanted to do any way, they would make us reservations at Lady & Sons. Thanks Rene'! Everyone gave us lots of great tips. Thanks!!!
Monday morning we got up and had a wonderful drive to Savannah. Some where along the way we passed, yes I said passed a perfectly easy accessible Starbucks. Mike thought he was getting away with something. With very little coxing I convinced him to turn in to get me a delicious coffee to enjoy on the way.
Before we knew it we were in Savannah. We checked and our room wasn't ready so we decided to go to Uncle Bubba's to eat. As we were driving along Marlee Anne said the people in Savannah are sure proud of it. I asked her why she said that. She said because look how clean it is. She said there is no trash any where. They really take good care of it.
We had a delicious meal at Uncle Bubba's. Fried shrimp, grits, fries, crab stew, pecan pie and chocolate crème brulee. All of it was yummy! They were very nice and made us reservations for the next night at Lady & Sons.
We called and our room still wasn't ready. We rode around downtown for a little while then decided to head on to the hotel any way. We checked in and he said the room on the river side was ready. We took that and were very excited to get in the room. I have to say that the service at the Westin Savannah Harbor was wonderful! We were very impressed. We always compare service to the perfect Disney service and this definitely held it's own.
Our rooms were wonderful. The view was unreal. Within minutes one of the big container ships came by our window. It was huge. It was so unreal how it had no wake whatsoever. Really neat to see. We saw many of them throughout our stay.
As I unpacked and got us settled Mike and Marlee Anne walked to the convention center to get Mike registered. Mary Elizabeth, Abe and even Michala were loving the heavenly beds and resting well. When they got back Marlee Anne & I went down to the pool. I forgot Mike's swimsuit but not on purpose. I wasn't crazy about putting on a swimsuit and going to the pool. Note to self - buy new swimsuit!!! It only took about 5 minutes for Marlee Anne to make a friend. Camilla Anne (Millie) and her parents are from Gainesville, Florida. They are very nice. Millie is 6 so she and Marlee Anne hit it off right away. Before long I found out that Talmadge was a vendor at the conference. That was a big joke that I was already meeting people from the conference before Mike did.
Millie walked back to the room with us to play a game with Marlee Anne. Mike's friend Mike came by the room to meet us. We had a wonderful time talking and visiting with him. Again shocked and thankful that he took the time to come by.
Mike and Marlee Anne decided to give the ferry across the river a trial run. We wanted to make sure the wheelchairs would fit because the bellboy wasn't so sure. The rest of us finished getting settled in. I wish I had a picture of Marlee Anne's look on her face when she walked back into the room. PRICELESS!!! She was so excited and couldn't tell me stuff fast enough. As we looked across the river that night it was beautiful to see everything lit up.
That night I got a message from Mike's cousin Leslie that Paula and family were going to be at Uncle Bubba's on Wednesday. I sent a message back asking for more info cause I wasn't sure how to find out more.
Abe didn't have a good night. About 5 in the morning I decided to put him in the bed with me. He went right to sleep. Mike and I figured out he had gotten spoiled with the heavenly bed and didn't like the pack n play. The next two nights he slept just fine with me.
That morning bright and early Mike headed to his conference. We got a phone call from Millie's mom Holly asking how she could help us. WHAT? Are you kidding me? She was so very nice. This is a lady that had just met us the day before and was offering her help with whatever. I had already decided I was going to try to make it to the pool with everyone. Well she said she would be glad to come up and help us get down there. We parked ourselves under a cabana by the pool which we soon found out was $50 to rent. They never said a word though so Mary Elizabeth, Michala & Abe really enjoyed the cool breeze under there while I watched Marlee Anne & Millie in the pool and talked with Holly. Later that afternoon when we got ready to go back up to the room Talmadge, Millie's dad helped us back up. Millie was excited to help push someone upstairs for us. I was amazed by the love of God shown from this family.
We ready and waiting when dad got in from his conference. He had a good day but it was nice for him to be back with us. We got to Lady & Sons and had just enough time to walk through the store and take pictures with the cardboard Paula (cause I had no idea what was in store for me) before they called our name. We got seated and had plenty of room for the wheelchairs and Abe's stroller. They were all very nice and helpful here. Marlee Anne & I made it to the buffet first. Marlee Anne got a little of each and was really excited about it all. I fixed Michala's plate so Mike could be feeding her while I fixed my plate. Finally I got to enjoy it after taking pictures, posting them to facebook and texting them out on my phone. Mike got his plate and I don't think we said much of anything until David walked up. That was when once again I was reminded how blessed I am to have a wonderful Christian man that loves me and our children unconditionally. I was reminded of the important things in life.
Several times the waitresses walked past our table with this beautiful dish that had lattice pastry on top. I asked our waitress what it was. She told me chicken pot pie. WOW!!! Soon the table next to us got one served to them. I got up with my camera and asked the lady if she minded if I took a picture of it. The man sitting next to her laughed. She said of course not. As I thanked her and walked off she said bring me a plate and I will share. I laughed and so oh no I have embarrassed my husband enough. She wasn't taking no for an answer and was already cutting it for me. We laughed and she asked where I was from. Was it my accent that gave me away. I said Georgia and she said oh yes that's why you didn't mind coming over to me. I asked where she was from and she said California. They all worked for the Marines and were there for a meeting.
As we waddled out the door we all took bets on who would get sick first from over eating. Thankfully none of us did. Oh did I forget to tell ya'll what we had to eat. Hoecake, biscuits, fried chicken (the kind my mommie and mom used to make, the kind Mike's granny used to make, the kind you used to stand in line for at the Porterdale hotel), pot roast, BBQ ribs, green beans, squash casserole, mashed potatoes, rice, candied yams, collard greens, mac & cheese, banana puddin, peach cobbler, gooey butter cake and sweet tea with a sprig of fresh mint. OH MY!!!
We got back to the room and all relaxed. The next day Mike headed out and we had a nice relaxing day in the room. Mary Elizabeth & Abe enjoyed stretching out while Michala roamed as much as she could. Marlee Anne & I played every game she brought at least once and some more than that.
When Mike got in we decided to head over to Tybee Island. On the way we stopped by Bubba's. Still at this time I didn't know why Paula's family was going to be there. When we got there this sweet girl asked if we were there for the book signing. OH!!!! I asked was that ok. She said well I have given out all the armbands so you aren't guaranteed to see her but you can try. We decided to go ahead and go to Tybee Island to eat. The whole time I am thinking I am really going to see Paula Deen.
Those of you that don't know she is in our home everyday. We have one of her shows on at least once a day. Mary Elizabeth and Michala love to hear her talk and laugh. They laugh with her. Marlee Anne always wants to make at least one thing we had seen her make that day. It's just a special time for us and it's Paula that brings us together.
We stop at The Crab Shack to eat. Mike had told Marlee Anne about the alligators and she wanted to see them. That's all we ended up doing there before trying to find another place. As we were riding around looking we found where Miley Cyrus was filming her new movie. We didn't see her though.
It started storming and Marlee Anne really wanted to get seashells for Mackenzie. She and I went running out to the beach during the storm and grabbed as many as we could. The storm was getting really bad so we decided to head back to Savannah. As we were riding we saw some dolphins. Mike circled back around for us to get another great view of them.
He dropped Marlee Anne and I off at Uncle Bubba's to see if we could get to see Paula. The girl there said to go on back and see. Once back there this young girl waiting said her sons and Michael just went in the restroom. She was waiting to get a picture with them. They were all very sweet to her. As I walked up to Jamie and Bobby I busted out crying. I wasn't in awe of them. I was touched by their love for their mama cause I know that love all too well. I was touched by their kind spirits that were obvious. They could easily be very snooty. Bobby put his arm around me and said what can I do for you. I held up my camera and through my tears said some mumbo jumbo. They got the message and I got a picture with them. As I turned around there was Michael. He immediately bear hugged me. You know those big real hugs. Not real big hugs but those big "real" hugs. I started crying more because I closed my eyes and I was in my daddy's arms again. He was the sweetest thing. My daddy was too but I am talking about Michael now. He bent down and talked to Marlee Anne. Told her how beautiful she is and was just precious to both of us.
Well the girl that told me they were in the restroom was standing there with her friend and mom. Her mom asked if I was ok and started wiping my make up from my eyes. She said we can't have that when you meet Paula. I told her I didn't know if I would get to because I didn't have an armband but they said I could wait and see. She handed me a yellow armband and I started crying once again. She said I had an extra one. They were the sweetest mom and daughter. They were there for the book signing and were eating at Uncle Bubba's that night. They were going to be at Lady & Son's at 8 in the morning to see if they could get in. I shared Rene's tip about asking them to make reservations for them when they had supper that night. They were all excited. I haven't heard if they got in or not. I am sure it all worked out though with them helping me like they did.
Everything was run just great. There was a very nice lady that worked for Paula that had been standing there talking to us. She was in charge of all the people trying to make it run smooth. Someone asked what she did for Paula and she said publicist and production. Well before we left Kendra told me about an idea she had for Paula to write a cookbook for patients with cystic fibrosis. Patients with CF like Torianna have to have lots of fat in their diet to help keep them well. Kendra said make sure when you see Paula you tell her about that. When Theresa said what she did I thought that's perfect I need to talk to her. I told her about Torianna and about Kendra's idea. She said have her email me. She pulled me to the side and gave me her email address. After hugging her and thanking her we were off to the next area.
Before long there were about 20 of us in the room with Paula and her family. We could take pictures with our own cameras up until we got up there then the professional photographer took them. We stopped to talk to Bobby & Jamie first who were very nice and lots of fun. Before I knew it Marlee Anne was already over with Paula giving hugs and just chatting away. Well it was my turn and of course I wanted a hug too but before I could make it to that I started crying. I couldn't compose myself long enough to tell her what a blessing she is to us. She hugged me even tighter. You know how you do when someone is crying. You hug em and let em get those tears out. Well when I got done I told her about Mary Elizabeth, Michala & Abe and how all of us watch her everyday. By this time Jamie, Bobby, Michael and Uncle Bubba are leaning in listening. Paula is tearing up as is Michael. I compose myself so that I can share with her about Torianna & Kendra. As I share that the mom's of CF patients often use her recipes for the good butter, cream and fat content she brightens up. I am so excited about the possibility of her doing that for this precious families. As I was talking to Paula, Marlee Anne is hamming it up with Michael & Uncle Bubba. I get great hugs from both of them and we are out of there.
By this time it is storming really really bad. I had been texting my pictures and trying to get the word out that I was meeting all of them. So my phone is ringing and I am getting text messages back. It was really funny. I get Mike on the phone and they are heading back in that directions. We didn't think everyone could handle the wait in their wheelchairs. Total time was only about 2 hours and that was waiting 30 minutes on our to go order.
As we are waiting for our order and for Mike and them to get back Marlee Anne wishes she had gotten everyone to sign her shirt. Right them Bobby walks out. She asked him to sign and he smiles that cute little smile and says sure I will. He says come on with me and we will get the rest of them to sign. He takes her right back in there.
Well as we are waiting again I think of a cookbook that I really really need to get signed. All of this happened so fast which is a good thing because if I had prepared I would have been trouble with all the money I spent on stuff to be autographed. Thankfully I purchased 2 cookbooks and that was it. Well I asked ??? I can't think of his name if he would PLEEEEAAASSEEEE take it in and get it signed. He said absolutely not. Paula was trying to finish up and catch a plane. Once again I smiled and asked very nicely please. He said oh ok give it to me. SUPER nice people!!! I thanked him and told him it was my fault for being so flighty with all this.
I have had this dream before. My friend Connie says if there is something you want you visualize it, you believe it and know it's gonna happen and it will. Well Connie I believed it and it did. I was shocked. Thank you so much Leslie for letting me know they were there. I would have gotten home, found out and been so sick. To top off our supper from there we got the key lime pie everyone suggested. Very very good!
Well if that wasn't enough excitement for the trip when we got back to the room I saw a message that my Disney friend from Virginia had 2 more states before being in Vero Beach. OK one of those had to be GA. I sent her a message and at 1:30 this morning they were stopping 15 miles from us. I told her I would check with Mike to see if we could stop by to meet her. For 8 years we have been emailing, texting, posting on our Disney scrapaddicts board, calling each other and supporting each other. This morning I finally got to meet her. I tell you that's right up there with meeting Paula and family. It was great! I have to say thanks to Mike and my sweet children to have the patience to let me do this. Without Mike taking me I would not have gotten to meet Paula & family or Maggie. Thank you Mike!!!
The ride home was good. I have to agree with Marlee Anne it seemed really quick. Thanks Mike for a great trip! Thanks again to David for taking the time to bless us so much! Thanks to everyone for all your prayers for a safe trip. Thanks to God for preparing the way for such a wonderful time. If you made it this far through our trip thanks! I am sure I left out important details but this was a start.