We recently returned from a four day vacation to St. Simons Island (off the southern coast of Georgia), and it was the trip of a lifetime. Not that we haven’t been to the beach before or visited a coastal region. There’s just something about St. Simons Island that haunts your soul in a good way — like a comforting friend or fond memory.
I have just written an article for Squidoo titled, “Goin’ Coastal: St. Simon’s Island, Georgia,” detailing some of our experiences, but for The Laughing Cabin readers, I’d like to share something a little more personal about the experience. [Note: I closed my Squidoo account in 2014, so this article no longer appears on their site.]
It has been many years since we took an honest-to-gosh vacation that was not part of a yearly business trip. We love our home, and any time that we take for vacation is usually spent here on our own property. However, this year, I had put my foot down and decided we were going to treat ourselves to a “real” vacation — a beach vacation! I began making the plans in May.
As the summer progressed, the vacation plans began to fall through for various reasons, and the deadline for locking in our hotel dates was nearing. It looked like our beach vacation was going to have to wait another year.
Instead of giving up, I decided to pray. I use a prayer journal and wrote the date of this particular prayer on June 25, 2013. The prayer that I wrote was something to the effect of, “Dear Jesus, You know that I have my heart set on going to the beach for a vacation this year. All of the plans that I have made have fallen through, so I now place my vacation into Your hands. I ask You to be my travel agent, travel host and travel guide, and I lay this vacation down at Your feet.” And then as a last thought, I spoke aloud — “And Lord, You know how [my husband] doesn’t like to go away for vacation. If I am ever to convince him to come, You’re going to have do something radical — like maybe a FREE vacation.”
I closed the prayer journal and never thought another thing about the prayer.
Lo and behold (my three favorite words in the Bible), we received a phone call on July 8 — less than two weeks later. A business associate who knew nothing of our desires for a beach vacation called and invited us to stay as his guests on St. Simons Island. FREE!
The best part? The days we reserved were on the weekend of my 51st birthday. Happy birthday to me, courtesy of Jesus and friends!
Well, you can imagine that Dear Hubby’s jaw dropped. Actually, he was quite speechless when trying to tell me all of this over the phone and was unable to give me any details until he got home later that evening. No, we have never had anyone hand us a free vacation before — ever. And the real irony is that we are barely acquainted with the man who offered this to us. Clearly, God spoke to his heart in answer to my prayers.
What excited me even MORE than receiving the vacation gift is that I remembered the rest of my prayer… not only did I ask for Jesus to be our travel agent, but I also asked Him to be our travel guide and host. This told me that there was more to come!
And boy, was I right. What an awesome God who clearly cares about every little, tiny detail of our lives!
When I told this story to a friend, he scoffed when I mentioned the details of my prayers. He did not believe that God cared about details and felt that I had been presumptuous to ask Him in the manner that I did. Oh, how God LOVES when we give Him the details! How better to know it was Him when the details are included in the answered prayer!
The peace, rest and relaxation we experienced during our four days on St. Simons Island is beyond anything I have ever experienced. The quality of sleep was so deep and restful that we became new people after just one night of sleep.
But there was more. I learned that John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley (some of my favorite heroes of faith) had started Christ Church in the late 1700s near Fort Frederica — located on the northern tip of St. Simons Island — and that John Wesley’s role and life here in America during that time was pivotal to the Great Awakening which is of historical and spiritual importance to our nation. I cannot help but think the peace that we felt on St. Simons Island was the lingering evidence of God’s blessing that was imparted to the island and its generations through John and Charles Wesley’s ministry more than 300 years before.
For us, the trip to St. Simons Island turned out to be an experience more so than a destination. This was not just an experience about the island itself, but an experience of knowing what it’s like to trust God completely with our plans. If God cares about the details of our vacation, how much more so does He care about the details of our everyday lives? We just have to pull out our vacation photographs any time we need to be reminded.
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:9-11 NIV
Be blessed! ~ Susan
New! Free E-Book Tutorial (See info at bottom of the post)
A couple of years ago, my husband and I took a drive down to Wrens, Georgia, for the purpose of visiting The Gourd Farm. I had tried my hand at gourd painting and caught the gourd bug, so to speak. Visiting The Gourd Farm was as good an excuse as any for a weekend trip into the countryside, and I came home with loads of gourds in different shapes and sizes.
After many years of painting gourds, I still had a few left that had not yet been turned into some form of gourd art. They sat and sat, waiting for me to make them into something interesting.
Then I came across a website that taught how to use different kinds of clays or paper mache to mold faces, appendages and interesting features onto gourds. I fell in love with the idea and finally ordered some Apoxie Sculpt 1 Lb. White— which was the most recommended type of clay to use with gourds.
My sister provided the first challenge. She wanted a chicken-shaped birdhouse to hang on a playhouse she had just built for her grandchildren. I took her idea and found a gourd in my stash that looked somewhat like the body of a chicken. And that’s how this project was birthed.
Here are some photos showing the gourd after the clay was molded onto it.
I did not use a pattern and have never worked with clay other than Play-Doh as a child, so this was my first attempt. I pretty much let the clay take me where it wanted and ended up with this “funky” chicken.
I’ll provide more photos of the legs and tail (with feathers) in the next post — I am still working on those.
The clay that I used requires kneading of two separate chemical substances to make the actual clay. It hardens after 2-3 hours, but I learned that it is best to work quickly because it starts to get tacky after only about 20 minutes. This makes it difficult to mold without sticking to your fingers. I would recommend using 50-Pack Disposable Food Preparation Gloves — you don’t need anything fancy — just something to protect your skin from the chemicals in the clay.
After the clay hardens, it can be sanded and drilled — and you can hammer a nail through it, if you so desire. I used some sand paper to lightly sand it so that any rough edges or fingerprint ridges were removed.
This has been a fun project, and I do indeed like working with clay and gourds. What next? I do believe there’s a gourd that looks like it wants to be sculpted into a pig! We shall see!
New! Free E-Book Tutorial!
UPDATE AUGUST 2016: This post has been the most viewed by our readers and has been pinned on Pinterest more than 300 times. Because of this level of interest on the topic, I have created an 11-page tutorial in a PDF format which includes instructions for selecting, cleaning, sculpting and painting a chicken gourd — along with a materials list and links to find resources and more information. This tutorial is being offered FREE to subscribers of The Laughing Cabin’s E-Newsletter. See the subscription form in the top right sidebar of this page or go to our SUBSCRIBE page for more information. Enjoy! ~ Susan