Wednesday, June 25, 2014

that time I rode on a train...

Through an interesting turn of events, my family ended up not being able to drive down to South Carolina to pick me I rode the train. I was a little....apprehensive at the prospect, but intrigued by the adventure, and therefore felt rather strange as the day of my departure approached. 

We ate supper at five, and left shortly after that to do a Whole Foods run in Greenville before dropping me off. The boys also went to explore the recently-opened Cabela's (outdoor gear and sports  - hunting, fishing, hiking, etc.) which was just around the corner. 

Somehow, in our timing, none of thought of the fact that the station itself doesn't even open till 9:30pm (remember this, all of y'all who might be getting on an Amtrak in Greenville in future!). So, in short, we were an hour early.

The doors were locked. Oh, well. As we stood there, Emily had a flashback to when she and her brother went to NYC by train years ago (same station, same departure time) and they also got there early and had to wait. History repeats itself! *grin*

We tossed up ideas on what to do in the hour we had to kill - Mike suggested asking for a tour of the engine...all of us children vetoed that immediately, not really being in the mood for a homeschool field trip *chuckle* Other options were suggested, nothing passed, so we just ended up taking pictures and talking and watching animated train videos on Mike's phone. In other words, we made memories :)

Finally the doors were unlocked, we prayed and said goodbye, the boys got my bags brought in, Carrie and Harmony and I shuffled things around so all my luggage was under the weight limit (traveling by train + train limits + three months of school stuff = not easy to pack right) and just like that, I was by myself - missing them greatly already, and wondering what in the world the next few hours held for me. Oh, did I mention my 10:58pm train was delayed till 12:15am? It was rather long night. *chuckle*

After what seemed like a whole day in itself, the train finally arrived, and we were off. The ride itself was quite the experience - I'd been getting texts from my parents and older brother and sister while at the station saying they were all up and praying for me. Dad sent me Psalm 91, which I read as a text message as if it was straight from my Heavenly Father...did wonders to calm my soul! Evidently, my siblings and mother were praying that I would be safe, and my wonderful Dad (if you know him, this will make perfect sense) was praying someone would sit down next to me. Yup.

And guess what happened?


Someone did.

But it was such a God-thing that I wasn't annoyed or freaked out. It was a precious lady, a free-lance author on her way from LA to North Carolina to visit her train. We talked for hours, and the more I learned her story, the more my heart sang at how God had brought her here. I kept falling asleep from time to time as we traveled, but she said she couldn't sleep well on trains. Once, when I was awake, she asked, "How do you fall asleep so easily?" "I don't know, but I've come to see it as a blessing and a gift, since I can sleep almost anywhere." "Well, if you figure it out, you could sell your trick and make a lot of money." It was quiet for a minute, then she said, "Actually, I think I know what it is." "Really?" "You have peace." "You're right. It hasn't always been that way, but I've learned that when Jesus says, 'Do not worry about tomorrow'....He actually meant it. So I don't worry about anything." She smiled, a little sadly, and said, "I wish I had the faith you have." Turns out, she's a believer (we both had our Bibles out at one point), but really struggling with grasping a hold on the promises - those beautiful, glorious promises that are all "yes" and "amen!".

Annoyingly so, in the middle of the night, my sleep kept me from saying goodbye to her - when I woke up, she had already gotten off the train. Through the window of the train, I saw her and her sister walking away and I prayed, "Lord, keep pursuing her!" I know her name, but that's it. She has the His Little Feet website and I told to come see us if we're near her. Lord willing, I'll see her again, but if not, I know God has her covered and He'll bring someone else into her life to encourage and bless her again.

I woke up when it was light outside and looked out my window to see a vaguely familiar sight. I sat there, staring at the college campus passing by me and thought, "If I didn't know better, I'd think this was Liberty...." And lo and behold, it was! Never have I been so glad to see that school - home was just around the corner! Not exaggerating, I was super excited and grinning ear to ear, and probably would've hugged the person next to me if there'd been anyone there. *hugs to LU for being awesome* Anyway. We stopped at the Lynchburg station, and I tried to stay awake all the way to Charlottesville, but you know when your eye lids feel so heavy and you can barely keep just one of them open? Yeah, that was me. I woke up again about fifteen minutes from town, and watched the gloriously familiar sights of my home town fly by, and before I knew it I was on the platform, scanning the group at the station and seeing my big sister and brother waving and waiting for me. Dad and Joshua came a few minutes later, and I was on my way home!

Side note: while at the station, and then during the middle of the night, this old Raffi song kept coming into my head. You know, that "all bound for Morning Town, many miles away" song? Precious childhood memories, and I always wondered what it would be like to travel on that train from Nighttime till Morning Town...and I kinda did. Dreams do come true!

In summary: I traveled solo for eight hours via Amtrak. It was interesting. God is good and faithful. It's not high on my list of favorite ways to travel, but it's no longer the Great Unknown. Maybe next time I can travel with someone else...I don't do the whole By Myself thing super great. But overall, it was an Adventure and I'm a different person because of it.

Just because, I looked up that it is. :)

Morningtown Ride 
by Raffi
Train whistle blowing, makes a sleepy noise,
Underneath their blankets, go all the girls and boys.
Heading from the station, out along the bay,
All bound for Morningtown, many miles away.

Sarah's at the engine, Tony rings the bell,
John swings a lantern, to show that all is well.
Rock-n-roll and riding, out along the bay, (<--- forever and ever my favorite line of this song!)
All bound for Morningtown, many miles away.

Maybe it is raining, where our train will ride,
But all the little travelers, are snug and warm inside.
Somewhere there is sunshine, somewhere there is day,
Somewhere there is Morningtown, many miles away.


  1. We took a train from Philly to NYC and then on to Boston many years ago, and I remember loving the experience. (We were traveling as a family, though: traveling alone would be a different story. :P) It was inspiring to read your story about how God used your solitude to witness to a fellow believer. You are beautiful, dear, and all the more so because of the One who shines in and through you. <3

  2. Having traveled on a train to Florida for 12 hours, I would describe trains the same way: Interesting :-P

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful story about your conversations with the lady on the train. It really challenged me to be more outgoing. If I had been in that situation, I don't know if I would have been confident enough to make conversation...but because you showed God's love in being friendly and open, you were able to watch God work.


  3. You've got a cute little space here. :) I've enjoyed reading about your adventures and view on life, but you've got me curious now. Who is this family that has suddenly popped up on here? Long-lost cousins, perhaps? Hope you don't mind my curiosity… I'm just trying to put the pieces of this puzzle together. :)

    1. Oh, just friends I met out at Ellerslie last summer and have been blessed to have become close to over the past year. :) They don't live all that far from us, either, so that's nice. Not related, but we look like it *grin*