PART 1 Tennessee Into the heartland on our own dime.


As many of you know, just slightly over a year ago Jeanne’s mother Sylvia Brown passed here in Charlotte and after a memorial service her remains were sent back to Wichita, Kansas to be buried next to her deceased husband, Noble. This meant that Jeanne had no real closure as she was unable to attend the internment.

With this in mind, we decided to take a road tour through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, then take the fast way back on the way home. Along the way out we would stop by and see “Our People.” I have family in Caney, Kansas along the Oklahoma border and this is where my mother is buried.  Jeanne has aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews in pretty much everywhere else we would be going except Tennessee. Yet Tennessee held out for us an amazing divine appointment and pleasant surprise.


On the first night we had to get a place to stay near Nashville. The first place we called was filled up but they recommended a sister hotel about ten miles further down the road in Mount Juliet. Well, we called, got a room, got settled and then went out for something to eat. We thought we’d search for local fare,  a non-chain, interstate-exit related restaurant. Just below our hotel was a fairly large mall and after a drive up through Mount Juliet and seeing nothing that appealed – nothing that seemed to have personality of its own – we felt hungry enough to eat at Arby’s if necessary.

We didn’t need much and here’s why…WORTHY OF NOTE

(For lunch we stopped off at Newport, Tennessee and upon the hill we found The Rustic Barn. Apparently, the overweight locals have known about it for a long time. Though I do not suggest stopping by every two days, it was an amazing meal of (ME) two large pieces of fried catfish, cole slaw, bar-b-que beans and baked spring potatoes at $5.00, JEANNE ordered a big piece of grilled salmon, salad, cole slaw at $7.00. It was insane value for the price. The salmon if bought in the store would have been $7.00. )


James McNair and Talitha

So we decide to make a swing through the mall to see if anything other than Ruby Tuesdays and Panera might seem more interesting. All we noticed was a small Greek souvlaki shop and it was at this place where we decided to take our chances. It wasn’t encouraging to see the place empty except for one couple at a table outside on the patio. It was then that I recognized the guy. What were the chances of this. I don’t know anyone in the state of Tennessee except Kerry Underwood. He hadn’t seen me yet so I was excited to surprise a former student, James McNair.

About four years  ago James sat through a few of my classes at Bethany College of Missions in Minneapolis. Since then he has moved on to Virginia Beach, Virginia and when I last spoke to him he was working for Apple. We had talked quite often about ministry in Europe and how he might fit. I admit to doing something I don’t often attempt. I was trying to recruit him. Anyhow, we hadn’t talked in about three months and here we both show up in the same restaurant at the same time in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. When he came through the door and saw me, he almost dropped his plate on the floor. We embraced, I introduced him to Jeanne, who was just as surprised as James was when I kissed him on the cheek. We sat down for about an hour with him and his friend Talitha, re-invigorated our ongoing Skype conversations and upon parting company promised to talk more frequently, which we have done.

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