Rod and me at Dino’s Christmas show Tuesday night

There is something about us and Branson. We’ve been there three times this year – and three times total in our lives. The first time was to smooth the way for the convention we’d planned that had almost been sabotaged. The second time was to hold the actual convention, which was a mind-blowing, life-changing experience. The third time was delayed due to our baby being in the hospital, and now that it’s occurring, has been to start paving the way for the next convention, and apparently, also for God to show us for the third time that He has called us to fulfill our dreams and His plans in this town.

This is the list of people* we met with this week: (in 2.5 days)

–          The operators of the sweetest, smallest 90-room inn we have ever seen

–          The co-owners of a refurbished local bakery and deli, which donates 40% of their baked goods – at the beginning of the day – to local shelters

–          One of the most amazing and celebrated piano players alive, his wife, and his staff

–          A publicist who previously photographed Johnny Cash and Mel Torme

–          A radio DJ who hosts a show at a Branson Café.. where Rod was asked to sing live on her show!

–          A hotel manager of three local properties

–          The pastor of a 12,000 member church

–          A singing family consisting of 10 beautiful children adopted from 3 different countries

–          A celebrated songwriter and her husband, both Branson entertainers and total warriors in God’s army, who have been given materials to build a chapel

–          A pastor and his wife who work with Branson shows, Morningside, and publishing, and wish to minister specifically to us

–          A magazine marketer who also attends the 12,000 member church

–          Executives at the hotel that hosts the convention

–          The general manager of Branson’s #1 tourist center

–          Tonight, we are apparently meeting Neil McCoy, and 2 nights ago, we (inadvertently) stood up Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys
*Almost all of these people are Christians!

My mind is shot. This morning our flight was cancelled because of the nationwide aviation computer problems. We scrambled all day to get home tonight.. tomorrow I have Moms and More, and we had front row tickets to see my friend Rick star in The Producers, and I have a castle cake to figure out how to bake for a certain girl who is turning 3 on Sunday.

It just wasn’t meant to be. We could fly home from Springfield directly.. for $600 per ticket. We could drive our rental car home for $1 per mile, for almost 600 miles. Or we can take our original flight, 20 hours later at the same fare.

Since our front yard tree does not grow money, and since my parents are amazing and awesome and taking care of the kids, we opted for the last option.

I want to be home tonight and keep our plans tomorrow. But now I believe we are supposed to be here. Who am I to argue with God?

~.~

We have heard some amazing stories this week from the people we have met. There is such synergy surrounding us in the skill set, dreams, and attitudes of the people we’ve encountered.

One that blares to me is from my new friend Julia. I met here during the convention in July, and she had, unbelievably, just relocated to Branson with her husband and three teenagers from Orland Park – 20 minutes from our home.

What I didn’t know then, I found out today. Julia had a very successful international gourmet food business (cheese, sausage, butter) and stable life in the Chicago south suburbs when she came to visit her mom in the Ozarks and felt a call to move there. To make a long story short, Julia’s house was sold in record time and she and her husband were making plans to relocate even before they knew where they were going to work or live once in Branson. Julia was obedient but very distressed, and went a week without sleeping as she worried about what their family’s place was in Branson. One night she decided she needed to tune out all the distractions in her life and drive to Branson. She took the battery from her cell phone, left her computer at home, kept the radio off, and even wore shabby clothes and no make-up so she wouldn’t decide she had to stop in this or that place (She, like me, does not ‘do’ the public without make-up!). She had her husband and kids follow her so that she could be alone in the car. They stopped at pre-determined destinations to touch base. In St. Louis, her husband told her he had just gotten a phone call, and she wouldn’t listen to what it was about. She wanted to be totally tuned in to God’s voice.

At their next stop, she picked out a gas station and walked sans make-up, in paint-splattered cut-offs and flip flops toward the bathroom. There she ran into previously mentioned world-renowned piano player and his wife, who operate a Christmas show and a bakery/café in Branson. They began to talk, and he started to tell Julia that he was going to be blessing people with free bread. She felt strongly that this man was the connection, the answer that she was looking for. So she kept the conversation going about what her business entailed, and he said he could sure use some gourmet butter to compliment his bread the following day.. did she happen to have any?

Of course, the only thing Julia had in her car was her battery-less cell phone, but then her husband chimed in. He said, “I have 600 cups of butter in the trunk.” Turned out the call he had gotten was from a distributer, there was a shipping error, blahblahblah. There were 600 cups of butter sitting on dry ice in his trunk at that moment, and the connection was made.

Their family moved to Branson, managed operations in the café, met hundreds of people – including us – and have now moved on to their own businesses.. catering, a deli/bakery, event planning, and promotions. They attend the 12,000 member church. They have made a home and a life here they could not have mapped out or imagined.

~.~

That was just one of such stories I’ve heard in all these encounters this week.

Earlier today, in my aggravation over changed plans, I tweeted, “I don’t know what it is with us and Branson.” There is always, always an obstacle to our being here.

The truth is, I do know what it is. Whether we ever live here or not, we’re called to this place for a purpose. And no matter what is thrown in our path to distract, discourage, or destroy, God has our 600 cups of butter waiting in the trunk, for He never starts a work in us that He will not see through.

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