Going to Church with President 39

My boyfriend and I have a list. This list is referred to as simply “The List”. The List is comprised of things we want to do together at one point or another; including lofty goals such as a coffee and bagel date in NYC and more obtainable goals for broke college kids, like a Goodwill date. We began the list before we even started officially dating, meaning that before I knew his middle name or the vehicle he drives, we were planning on going skydiving together. In about four months, we’ve managed to cross off 7 things (and add about 12).


This past weekend we tackled one of our most remarkable goals: a visit to Jimmy Carter’s church in Plains, GA. (For those who don’t know, Jimmy Carter teaches a Sunday school lesson on select dates at Maranatha Baptist Church and you can locate his schedule here!) On a Saturday afternoon, we packed up our church clothes and headed south of Mountain City, TN on our longest road trip together to date.

Now of course, no road trip is complete without a few random stops along the way. Roadside advertisement led us to fried green tomatoes at Whistle Stop Cafe (!!!!!), the best peach ice cream in Georgia at Dickey Farms General Store, and a scenic overlook that showcased the calm before the storm at the Carolina border. Also, an excellent TripAdvisor review led us to Sunshine Sammies after I started whining about wanting ice cream in Asheville. (Side note: I travel like a four year old.)

Lucky for me, Isaiah was patient enough to make every stop I asked him to, even on the interstate in Atlanta as it rained. And when I say it rained… I’m not kiddin’, folks. It rained. It rained a Forrest Gump rain. Little bitty stingin’ rain, big ol’ fat rain, rain that flew in sideways, and sometimes rain seemed to come up straight from underneath.

It rained from Asheville to Plains and then some. This made the hour and a half that we waited in the parking lot of Maranatha Baptist a little tougher than we expected. Of course I have to mention that we were luckily lined up with some of Georgia’s nicest folks. We chatted about family and traveling, and we got along so well that we exchanged contact info so that we can stay in touch! (Shoutout to Patty & Jack! 😊)

After being checked by security, we walked into the sanctuary only to see there was no room left in the pews. Matter of fact, there was no room left for the 100+ people who had arrived after 3 a.m. Sunday morning. So, after two hours of waiting, we were placed in a makeshift overflow room with about 20 chairs and a TV. The TV displayed the sanctuary that had been filled to the brim with folks from Alaska, Germany, Spain, Hawaii, and more. Because of the storms, however, the power went out. Once. Twice. Thrice. Eventually the TV came back on, but their air conditioning did not.

At this point, I was wet. I was hot. I was tired. And on top of all that, I’m a complainer. Things were not looking good for the home team.

But then I had a God moment.

We went back and forth on if staying to get a picture with President 39 was worth it. I mean, yeah, it’s worth it, but we also had eight hours of traveling down and eight more to go. The AC was out, we were in an overflow room, and we had proof that we had been in the same room as him, picture or no picture. Nevertheless, we stayed. And I’m so glad we did.

Sometimes you go to church and everything goes over your head and you fall half asleep during the prayer and you keep checking to see if it’s time to go yet. Other times you go and you know God sent the words to that pastor that were made for you to hear. This was one of those times. The message was about the heart. On my blog I have tried to be candid about my emotions within the last year — times I’ve felt my highest highs and lowest lows. Yet, through it all, I have been reminded to keep heart. God is so faithful. He will lead you to where you’re supposed to be. In my case, it was a Sunday morning at a church 8 hours away from my own so that I could hear a message that reminded me of the everlasting love of Christ.

We left Maranatha Baptist with full hearts (and a picture with Jimmy Carter). We made a quick stop by the smiling peanut statue in Plains and purchased the first ornament of our new collection. Oh, and on the way out of town, Google Maps took us down a dirt road called Slappy Jack. I can’t make this stuff up. This is small town Georgia, folks.

The road home was lengthy and rainy and exhausting, but we made it back safely. As for now, we don’t know what our next thing off the list will be. But I do know that I leave for a month in Amsterdam on Sunday, so it’ll be awhile before we get anything done.

Speaking of Amsterdam, I’ll try to update my blog more frequently than I have been doing while I am there! Click the follow button on my page to sign up for email updates as I post!