It was a long day of driving yesterday but so totally worth it to have Erin with me this past week. We got an earlier start than planned and that was quite fortuitous for us because I 40 is completely closed down in Knoxville. We went around on the loop but wow, so much traffic and sitting and waiting. We also encountered a bridge that was down to only one usable lane and as we came into Nashville, I noticed traveling east on I 40 that there was quite a bit of lane closures, so I made the decision to take the long way home. Longer but much more scenic and less crowded. We only had to make one stop going to Nashville, so that always helps time wise. At her home I made a quick turn around, lunch prepared for the road, caffeine and a potty stop. We were like NASCAR the stop took less than ten minutes and I was on the road again. I took I 24 toward Chattanooga. About halfway there I stopped at Cracker Barrel to pick up snacks for the road and evening and then filled Sequisha up. The scenic route is by Cleveland TN, and once I turned off onto those quiet roads, the peace and tranquility revived me. I put on the recording of Houston's First Baptist Orchestra and enjoyed the vistas. It seems like every rise and turn the music accompanied the scenery perfectly. I filled up the car in Bryson City because as you get closer to Asheville the gas prices rise dramatically. I was rather happy to be away yesterday because Saturdays are not my favorite here at the Inn. Lot more dressy due to weddings and the like. I schlepted into the lobby, bought a Diet Coke and me and my Cracker Barrel bag hightailed it up to the room.
When I drove onto the estate I still had the CD playing and since the speed limit is 20 miles an hour, I felt safe recording a part of the drive to Appalachian Carol. Checked on Mother Goose sitting on her nest...still sitting there...no bingo on babies yet.
I wrote this earlier today. The housekeeper kept coming in so I decided to leave earlier than planned to go to church. Besides I wasn't too sure of how long it would take. I went to Biltmore Baptist this morning. I had watched sermons online and had visited their website several times, so I was pretty pumped about attending. The service was really good and the pastor, Bruce Frank is a great speaker and teacher of the Word. But, having been on staff at church I remember how important it is to make guests feel welcome. Granted I didn't want full on attention but I felt like an idiot turning on my flashers to notify the parking lot crew I was a first time visitor because there was no one there to direct me to a parking place or greet me. OK, I am early and in between services but there are those like me today who didn't quite know where I was going. On the outside of the church the entrance was marked guest entrance. I came in and not one person looked up from their conversations or from making coffee or polishing the floor. I even did the deer in the headlights look...nothing. I went to the directory to see where the bookstore was located and I made my way down the hall. Came into the bookstore and the two ladies working behind the counter didn't say hello or can I help you. They continued in their conversation as if I hadn't even entered. I returned to the lobby went over to the Welcome Center and picked up pieces of material and read, not one person with a badge said a word to me. A woman who had a staff badge just looked at me like I was violating their neatly arranged table. After the service the Pastor is available to meet with visitors and guests. He seemed genuinely gracious and caring. I looked around to see if there was security or A Team around him. Yes, but at a distance. His staff members continued to gather behind him as the meet and greet continued. I visited with him just a few moments because I am not a "real" guest that might be looking at Biltmore to be my church home. The whole thing made me so thankful for the Welcome Team at First and the great job they do. If I was looking for a church home here in Asheville, I don't know that I would go back there. It would be so easy to watch the sermon online at my connivence. I also know that several have suggested I should write and tell them of my experience but yes, I remember well how much church staff likes to be given suggestions by lay people. I think that if I had initiated conversation, they would have been happy to talk to me but I would have had to interrupt conversations. The sermon was out of Jeremiah 20 and I have never heard anyone preach out of that passage and it was very good. Oh and only two amazings said. And lest I forget a woman staff member did a few announcements and did the offertory prayer. One more thing...there were prayer people who assisted in praying with individuals at a certain point in the service and there were women being used in that capacity. How refreshing.
After church I explored South Asheville. Really nice and easy to navigate. I returned back to the Inn around 3:00. Unloaded everything and then headed to the Veranda for a late lunch. She crab soup and southern cobb salad. Delicious!
Turndown service has come by and I have my laundry ready for pick up. The sun is setting and I just finished reading the paper. Now to grab my book and relax because tomorrow will start early.