Sunday, December 19, 2010


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I rarely have the luxury of traveling alone. You may not deem it a luxury to be alone in a car doing all the driving into five different states in a four day trip, but that’s how I viewed last December’s road trip. It was a rare time when I stepped away from everyday duties, traveled new territory, and listened to my favorite music. If you want to know how Elvis, Christmas, and Graceland, added together to bring to mind a revival scripture then keep reading.

I left a day before my husband and son to visit my aunt in Arkansas, and then later the second day I was to meet Dave and Russell in Mississippi. I reached my aunt’s home on my first day of travel, and after visiting for awhile I drove more miles and spent the night at a Comfort Inn. The next morning, I started driving toward Mississippi on I-40.

About mid-day, I learned that hubby and son were at least six hours behind me. They were in a semi, pulling a load of antique tractors to the National Antique Tractor Pull. On a whim I took a side trip into Tennessee.

I can’t ever recall doing that before. All by myself. Without directions. Head into a busy metropolis and expect to find a whim-destination. Not many opportunities to explore on my own these days. I’m not a big Elvis fan, but once Graceland got on my mind. It just wouldn’t leave. I didn’t have a map of Memphis or GPS, so I called “information” from my cell phone. The operator connected me to Graceland Insurance Company. The receptionists said, “Oh this happens all the time. What do you need to know? I give out their information a lot.”

“I’m arriving into Memphis on Interstate 40. And I need good verbal directions to get to Graceland. I’m driving . . . can’t write anything down.” She told me five simple turns and merges, and I repeated them back to her. That Tennessean was better than Map Quest. An hour later, I drove directly to Elvis Presley’s home Graceland.

But when I was just entering Memphis, my phone rang and our son Russell said, “Mom, Dad and I wanted to check on you. Where are you?”

“I’m in Tennessee….Memphis….. I decided to take a little side trip and see Graceland.”

Laughing with abandon, I heard Russell tell his Dad, “Mom’s on her way to Elvis Presley’s Graceland.” Dave groaned loud enough that I could hear him through Russell’s phone. I knew he wasn’t aggravated with me. It was one of those glad-you’re-going and happy-I’m-not-along audible grunts. Who knows, Graceland might close to the public one day, and I’d live with regrets. After all, only a year ago on December 12, 2009, the Roy Roger’s museum closed its doors.

In Tennessee, worldwide visitors spent hefty parking fees and sums to tour everything. I opted to tour “the Mansion.” The mid-sized house shimmered with holiday decorations from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, including an aluminum Christmas tree. Remember those? Christmas carols played, sung in Elvis’ own velvety voice.

At the front entrance, a paved apron allowed visitors to get a panoramic shot with cameras after the tour. A man in his early twenties by me tried to take pictures but discovered his batteries were dead. I asked what size batteries his camera used. When he checked, they were the same size as mine. So, I loaned him my batteries, and he clicked his shutter and images of the Mansion went into his memory card.

This time of year may not offer much time for solitude, but watch for everyday things which have God’s gift tags on them -- from him to you: A flock of geese flying south in V-formation, a child in a Christmas pageant, or reminders of Jesus in yards, on T-shirts and in every “Merry Christmas” greeting. Or maybe, you just get a mini day-cation all by yourself.

Jesus joined us for a time on earth, and God reminds us, “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15). During this busy season a revival can be yours, just watch for those times God tags a gift with your name.

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