Last year, I don't really recall what I did for Derby. I most likely did what I do when I'm in this type of memory mood and stayed at home, watching the festivities and thinking about the good memories of Derby pasts. My Granny lived within blocks of Churchill Downs, so most Derby days I spent at her house sitting on the back porch listening to the races being called...and enjoying her cooking!
This year, I have started a new tradition with a sweet friend from church, Martha. Martha has known me since before I was born and was a good friend of my Mom. It's like having a piece of my Mom still here. Each month on the first Saturday, we have a lunch date. We lamented how we needed to get together last year and after our planned lunch on the first Saturday in January, we decided to make it official. I couldn't have been more excited to have one of our dates fall on Derby Day.
To celebrate, we went to a place in Shelbyville, Kentucky, called Science Hill Inn. This was the home of a girls' preparatory school, opened in 1825, and has now been converted into a gallery and restaurant. It was the perfect place to spend Derby Day with Martha enjoying their buffet. Stepping into the restaurant was like walking on to the set of Gone With the Wind. I expected to see Scarlett stroll down the steps in her hoop skirt and greet us. We were seated by a window overlooking their gardens and the serving staff was simply lovely. It was a great way to spend a day that brings back some sad memories.
The day got even better when a young teenage girl walked up to our table and said, "Would you mind if I prayed for you both? The Lord just laid on my heart that His Hand is upon you and urged me to come pray for you." You could have knocked both of us out of our chair. We, of course, agreed and it was a beautiful prayer of blessing. After she left with her parents, our server told us that her family comes in a lot and are really great people. Her Dad is a pastor of a church in a neighboring county and they have done of lot for the staff there. Our server confirmed she was a high school student. Wow.
On days when I feel melancholy or wonder what God is up to in my life, it's moments like these that make me feel His embrace in a way I could never explain. Wonderful memories with a sweet friend. The unexpected blessing of the prayer of a stranger. The sweet knowledge of knowing I'm safe in the arms of God.