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Location: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A TRIP TO REMEMBER

As most of you know, I recently returned to New Jersey representing my family at a wedding of a dear friend. During my two and a half week stay I was also able to visit many old friends and spend time with some much-beloved, extended family. Many thanks to my aunt and uncle, great-grandparents, and the Thompson and Bruce families for allowing me to stay at their respective homes during my trip.

In order to best relate my experiences, I decided to write several short posts focusing on some special parts of my trip rather than one, long piece. Hopefully this format will best capture the joyous, fun, and bitter-sweet moments of my visit to the Garden State.

THE WEDDING

Saturday morning dawned bright and early as I hurriedly prepared for the wedding. By mid-morning I was on the road traveling to pick up one of the flower girls in order to curl and fix her hair at the church. While driving the familiar back roads of South Jersey my mind whirled with excitement, a day I had hoped and prayed for years would come had at last arrived: one of my friends was getting married!

Rachel’s wedding was truly beautiful. All of the traditions such as the father walking his daughter down the aisle and giving her hand to the groom, and the white dress worn by the bride, actually stood for what they symbolized. Radiant and glowing with a peaceful joy, the bride gazed up at the man she loves while pledging her heart and life to him in a voice full of tenderness and firm conviction. What an unforgettable moment.

Throughout the entire wedding God was glorified by this young couple as they sought to exemplify not only their love for each other, but complete adoration for their Savior as well. What a blessing it was to attend an unabashedly Christian wedding where my heart sang with gladness at the forming of this most precious union.

MY WEEK IN WILLIAMSTOWN

My first Sunday in New Jersey found me transporting my array of luggage to the home of my great-grandparents who live in the town where I grew up. Since we spent every Friday afternoon at their home for as long as I can remember, my great-grandparents hold an especially dear place in my heart. Nestled in an acre and a half of rich, green grass and towering, old trees the white farmhouse looked so warm and inviting as I pulled into the driveway. At long last, I was back.

Visiting old family friends, former neighbors, and extended family filled my days for the most part during my stay in Williamstown. One day found me walking around the block where our former home stands, just as I used to. Dropping by my favorite haunt, the town library, I greeted all the "library ladies," some of whom I’ve known since possessing my first library card at the ripe old age of five. A visit to our next-door neighbor saw me sipping tea and chatting about neighborhood happenings. Geets Diner, a "famous" landmark in town still looks the same I noticed while enjoying an evening snack there with a friend. The only time I felt like an out-of-towner was when requesting the non-smoking section of the diner only to be informed that, according to New Jersey law, all of the restaurants were now completely non-smoking. Oh well, one can’t keep up with every new, New Jersey law.

During my Williamstown stay, I reveled in the hours spent with my great-grandparents. One day, MomMom patiently shared about our family history as far back as she could remember while I jotted down names and little tidbits of information about the men and women who comprised the two generations before her. What a privilege it was to sit and listen to stories about her parents and grandparents, all born in the 19th Century, while curled upon her couch in the 21st Century.

Encouraged by the admonition in "The League of Grateful Sons," I asked my great-grandfather about some of his experiences serving on the U.S.S. Boise during World War II. He told of his job hoisting 120 lb shells up to be loaded into the big guns during battle, and how in one fight, two of their turrets were hit by the enemy killing all inside those compartments. Although the events occurred over sixty years ago he told the stories as if they happened just yesterday. I suppose after one has been in the heat of a deadly battle they never forget the horror of those moments.

Saying goodbye once again to my great-grandparents proved very challenging especially as they are in the process of selling their home. I walked around the property and snapped pictures of my favorite tree, the horses next door, and the grounds we used to run and play in as children. Goodbyes don’t seem to get any easier, even with practice.

"COFFEE OWAH"

(That's "hour" with a NYC accent :))

PHILADELPHIA FUN

Even though I grew up only 20 miles outside Philadelphia, and have visited the historic section on several occasions, I was delighted to accompany a few friends on a day trip to the City of Brotherly Love. Taking the Speedline train, we traveled into the city crossing the Delaware River on the side of the Ben Franklin Bridge. I have always loved the feeling of being suspended in mid-air over the water while watching cars speed across the bridge only yards away from our seats.

During our visit we saw the Betsy Ross House, Elfreth’s Alley, Franklin Square, Carpenter’s Hall, The Liberty Bell, The Quaker Meeting House, Independence Hall, Christ Church and Washington Square Park. Not bad for one day’s worth of sightseeing. Lunch, of course, consisted of true Philly cheesesteaks, and we managed a "historic" trip to Starbucks as well.

Standing in Independence Hall, my heart went out in gratitude to the men who occupied the chairs placed before me. God worked through those intelligent and gifted men to found this unique country, even in the face of personal danger and ruin. Like the British who owed so much to the brave pilots protecting their country from German forces, we Americans owe a great deal of gratitude to the men now called the "Founding Fathers." What an inspiration it is to stand in the same room where the likes of John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson once lifted their voices in debate.

HEADIN' DOWN TO THE SHORE

A visit to New Jersey in incomplete without a trip to the shore. Ocean City, New Jersey was the destination of choice on the last day of my vacation while staying at the Bruce home. Danielle, Mrs. Bruce and I spent hours strolling the lengths of the boardwalk, sampling delicious food, walking barefoot in the sand, and gazing out at the choppy, frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Memories flooded my mind as the ocean wind whipped my hair into a hopelessly tangled state. I recalled riding waves with Dad and Tim, building sand castles as a small child, the smell of the sea mixed with layers of sun screen; all are precious sights and smells of hours spent at the Jersey shore. Many thanks to Mrs. Bruce and Danielle for a wonderful visit to a dearly loved place.

~Cara

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

WHERE WOULD YOU RATHER BE TOMORROW?

New Jersey - High of 74 degrees

San Antonio - High of 92 degrees

I pick New Jersey . . . and that’s where I’ll be. :)

~Cara