We drove almost halfway Friday night, then got back on the road Saturday morning, arriving in South Carolina around mid-day. Fortunately, we were able to check into our hotel early and get ready for the wedding (which happened to be located on Brennan's campus!) That meant we were able to hug that child's neck and spend a few moments with him before guests began arriving.☺ He was a part of the chorale singing for various portions of the ceremony and he was also privileged to read from 1 Corinthians 13.
This was truly the most beautiful and meaningful wedding we have ever seen. It took place in the campus theater (which has special significance to the bride’s family). As a gift to Noah and Nicole, the college students along with a dear family friend, built an incredible set including large trees and old Celtic ruins. The ceremony, from beginning to end, was so beautiful and God-honoring.
The fathers of the both Noah and Nicole are pastors who presided over much of this tender ceremony, which brought tears to many on more the one occassion. There was a beautiful emphasis on the covenant of marriage, and such joy on the part of these families that God has joined these two. He was undoubtedly glorified in every aspect of this touching service.
After the ceremony, the college students changed into costumes made for this occassion and served at the reception, again as their gift to Noah and Nicole. Their love for this couple is certainly evident (that's Brennan in the back row, middle).
Such a sweet moment - the newlyweds admiring their new wedding rings.
The precious couple with their beautiful cake.
Brennan's sweetheart, Brianna was in the wedding which meant she and her Mom had been in SC since last Thursday. As you can imagine, he was thrilled.
Later that night, we returned to our hotel with Brennan and I have to tell you, we could not stop smiling! How we’ve missed that boy! We shared some sweet "catch-up" time and then he went to say goodnight to Brianna and her Mom (also at our hotel).
The next morning, we began the long ride home. Brianna rode along with us (much to Brennan's delight!) After a few hours on the road, Tom suggested a we take a break in Pigeon Forge, TN. We all knew what that meant…stopping at one of our favorite restaurants of all time…The Apple Barn.
What a treat! We had such an incredible meal and such a great time together. (If you’ve never been to the Apple Barn…and you plan to be in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, TN anytime soon, this is something you don't want to miss!)
When you are seated, they serve you warm apple fritters with homemade apple butter, then wonderful vegetable soup and salad as you await your delicious meal. (After more than two months on Weight Watchers, Tom and I completely splurged and ate probably a week’s worth of points, but oh, was it worth it!) Between the four of us, we ordered country fried steak, southern fried chicken and barbeque chicken. Then, we learned from our server all Sunday meals include desert (at which point I'm sure I heard angels singing). We were given of a choice of apple cobbler, peach cobbler, caramel pie, and chocolate fudge cake. (I had obviously already blown any points counting for that day so I thought...why not? After all, I had resisted that beautiful and no doubt delicious wedding cake the night before!) Brianna and I savored what was possibly the most heavenly piece of chocolate fudge cake either of us had ever had. Tom and Brennan said the apple cobbler was outstanding. I cannot remember the last time I felt so miserably yet blissfully full.
Surrounding the restaurant is a working farm. You can have all sorts of goodies…fresh apple cider, fried apple pies, etc. Our favorite is always their Christmas shop. The weather was so nice -- sunny and mild. We walked and shopped for about an hour, sat in the rocking chairs on the front porch and then loaded in the car. We had one more stop to make at our favorite Christmas shop…"The Christmas Place" before getting back on the road. What an amazing place. We've never been able to visit so close to Christmas, so it seemed particularly special. As we left, it was just beginning to get dark, so all the Christmas lights along the main entrance into Pigeon Forge were begining to glow. Postively beautiful.
We arrived back home late Sunday night, feeling travel-weary yet unmistakably blessed. Having Brennan home this week is something Tom and I are most grateful for. We have joyful hearts, indeed.
I pray that your hearts, too are overflowing with Thanksgiving, not just this week…but especially this week.