Now that I had arrived safely in Elba, Alabama, the next stop: Florala for a Friday night event, and then a Saturday drive to Panama City Beach. I had no clue of the distance between Elba, Florala and Panama City Beach, nor did I have hotel reservations in Florala when my mother said that’s too much driving.
At 4 p.m., we set off to reach our destination before nightfall sans a place to rest our head. Additionally, we waited for my cousin in Florala to call us back with directions and an address.
In the parking lot of Subways, I checked my telephone for hotels. One night stays, pricey. Finally my cousin called with directions. I asked her about hotels and she paused.
“I didn’t know you had planned to stay,” cousin Hazel said. “I would invite you to sleep at my house, but I haven’t cleaned and I’m leaving early in the morning or Pensacola.“
I heard the trepidation in her voice. As the event planner, she needed to arrive at six, two hours before her guests. She said, “Come on, I’ll arrange a place for you to stay.”
“She’ll arrange a place at friend’s house,” my mother predicted.
“Maybe, she’ll let us sleep on the floor,” I said.
“It’s an adventure,” my mother said. “God’s in control.”
“I did fly first class, unexpectedly,” I said.
We set off standing on God’s promise.
I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country. I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch. These are the things I’ll be doing for them— sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute” (Isaiah 24:16, The Message).
Five minutes across the Florala city line, my cellphone rang. Hazel asked our location, afterwards she instructed me to pull over. She parked next to us. After family hugs, she said, “Check-in is at 6:30 p.m.”
We followed Hazel to her home. A beautiful home with room enough to house us. Again we sat and chatted about distance relatives. As a writer, Hazel and my mother told stories about family members that were characters in novel, a family saga. This reminded me of words of a famous author, “A good writer has a storyteller in the family.”
What a blessing to sit with two wise women with family stories, that I could fictionalize in a novel sequel.
At 6:20p.m., we headed to Lake House Bed & Breakfast. The owner welcomed
and escorted us to one king size bedroom and one queen on the first floor.
“The house is empty tonight,” he said. “Check out is 11 a.m. And what time would you like breakfast?”
I met Hazel in the hallway and asked if we should pay now or in the morning. She simply replied, “All has been taken care of. Just enjoy.”
My second God-sized gift in less than 48 hours.
Two hours after lounging in the sitting room, sipping tea, Hazel returned to the Lake House and gave us a tour of Florala. Then pulled into the driveway of another cousin whom we hadn’t seen in a year.
I knocked on her door. She opened it and screamed, “My cousin from New York.” She slammed the door.
An impromptu family reunion; plans only God could have ordained.