After our cross country road trip this past summer, Bryan and I have no reservation about taking mini road trips to explore the area on our free days. This past weekend was a real treat! We decided to head west to visit Bryan’s Granny in the farmland hill country of Abingdon, VA.
Bryan’s Granny moved up to Virginia from Saint Cloud, Florida a few years back and could not be more at home in this historic little town nestled in the Shenandoah Valley area. Bryan and I were excited about being stationed within driving distance and ready to head to Granny’s the first chance we got. Her home was beautiful and landscaped with bright and cheery flowers as always. 🙂
After visiting over some yummy soup and sandwiches, Granny took us to some of her favorite places. Our first stop was the historical Abingdon Muster Grounds. Back during the Revolutionary War, citizen militia members gathered to begin a march that would lead to their attack on Patrick Ferguson, a British Major who had threatened these Scots-Irishmen that if they did not lay down their arms he would “march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay waste the country with fire and sword.” These words became the catalyst that brought hundreds of men from all over together to march and fight at the Battle of Kings Mountain, where Ferguson was killed by sharpshooting patriot riflemen, after which the remaining loyalists in the battle surrendered. This event played a major role in the outcome of the Revolutionary War by causing Cornwallis to abandon plans of invading North Carolina and instead fall back to Winnsboro, South Carolina. It was incredible hearing this history retold while standing on the ground where brave countrymen gathered to fight for independence.
Later, we drove around exploring…and found this cute restaurant and stream near the river.
We stopped by one of Granny’s favorite places – Heartwood : Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway – where you can admire and purchase art locally created by Virginia artists. I really liked this Native American carving (above) and carved chess set (below) since Granny is very skilled and talented at carving herself and has made some of her own beautiful carvings.
Another really cool thing we learned about Abingdon was that the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone came through and named the area Wolf Hills because his dogs were attacked by a wolf pack during a hunting expedition back in 1760. Because of this history, you can see painted or decorative wolf statues all around town.
Oh…and the views from Heartwood was just beautiful.
The little downtown area of Abingdon was quaint and beautifully rich with history. We ate dinner at a historic home that was converted into The Peppermill Restaurant that evening.
My favorite part about this visit was the time spent driving with Granny as she showed us her town. We had so many great conversations and I really enjoyed hearing a bunch of stories from her past and her family’s history. One of my favorite stories was the one of how Bryan’s great grandmother (Meemaw) and great grandfather (Peepaw) fell in love. They grew up in the small town of Livingston and always knew each other. He was 12 and she was about 15, when PeePaw found a moonstone ring in some mud, cleaned it off, and gave it to MeeMaw. Granny said MeeMaw always knew she’d marry PeePaw…that it was only a matter of when. The more I heard, the more I wondered what it would have been like back when they were growing up.
After an adventurous day in town, we got to enjoy visiting with Granny and relaxing at her house. As Bryan will tell you, she is the absolute best storyteller, and we enjoyed hearing about when she worked in Washington D.C., about when she was raising Bryan’s Mom and Aunt, and more intriguing stories from throughout her life.
The next morning, we visited Granny’s church. Aside from it being absolutely magnificently beautiful with gorgeous stained glass and hand carved doors, I loved the message and typed rapidly on my phone notes on the story of Job.
The pastor gave a really wonderful message that had me thinking a lot. One of my favorite things he mentioned that I had never thought about was that
“People often think the story of Job is about the question – Where is God when I am suffering?. But it is actually about Where is my faith when I am suffering.”
Another thing he spotlighted was that the friends that come to Job after the third wave of suffering hit were telling him that this suffering was brought on by something Job did. Job’s friends came from the East, where there is this idea called Karma, where good things happen to good people and visa versa (in this life or the next). The pastor talked about how we also misconstrue the Biblical phrase “as you sow, so you shall reap,” into thinking that this karma-like idea is biblical thinking. It’s not. That phrase is more about Paul explaining how things generally work. Hard work generally reaps rewards, and kind acts generally inspire people to return kind acts your way, etc. But this is general…it is not a promise from God. In fact, Jesus promises that following Him will lead to persecution. But this is just like Satan – if he can get Christ followers confused to believe that God promises something He did not, then eventually we will grow bitter when God breaks a promise He actually never made. He said that yes – many times we do not deserve suffering, but we also do not deserve the blessings in our life. He recalled the words of Gerald Sittser – a man who lost his wife, mother and 4 year old daughter in a car accident -who wrote in his book A Grace Disguised. How the Soul Grows Through Loss:
“Granted, I did not deserve to lose three members of my family. But then again, I am not sure I deserved them in the first place…perhaps I did not deserve their deaths, but I did not deserve their presence in my life either.”
But despite everything, the best news is that – unlike Karma, in the very end, we do not get what we deserve. Instead, with Jesus, we are given grace. I smiled ear-to-ear assured that Granny had found a gem of a church that seems like it shares a dang good word each Sunday.
Our time in Abingdon with Granny was short, but it was sweet and filled with more precious memories of time together. It blesses our heart that Granny has really enjoyed making new friends and being with her youngest daughter these years in Virginia. Her laugh is contagious and I admire her witty personality. I caught myself grinning just thinking of how Bryan obviously gets his adventurous heart, spunk, and boldness from both his Mom and his Granny. We plan to visit Granny again here in the near future, and can’t wait to catch up more soon!