Normal, Illinois


Usually, we're the ones holding the signs and welcoming people,

but Scott and Carol surprised us by running out to the driveway holding these signs.  We felt so loved!  (And, yes, we made many puns about being "normal" since we were staying in the city of Normal, Illinois, especially since SITAG is made up of unique individuals.)

Friday, morning, we drove down to New Salem State Historic Site, where Abraham Lincoln lived as a young man.  Our visit with this sweet couple was officially to talk about SITAG's upcoming conference in February, but we got treated like royalty during our time with them.

The day was cool and the rebuilt village was full of autumn leaves and wood smoke.
In the cooper's shop

Living history, good company, and a gorgeous day made my heart sing, sing, SING!

This huge wheel was powered by the oxen that walked around and around on the upper track.

The wheel powered a carding mill for wool, bringing the Industrial Revolution to life!

Interpreters in several buildings help teach us about the 1830's and what life was like in New Salem. 

This lady was rendering lard to make into soap.

Our family especially loved the wood fires that gave off a little bit of heat and made the air smell wonderfully "autumn-ish".

This fire happened to be doing more than giving off heat for people or making the room smell good, it was melting the lard, too!  This particular interpreter was passing her skills on to these two young ladies. 

Turning the handle on an old well

The day was perfect.  Life-giving, heart filling.  And we weren't finished.

We drove a short way over to Lincoln's Tomb, to finish our lovely day with Scott and Carol.

While I was driving, Carol's phone rang.  She put the phone on speaker, and I got to hear the voice of her thoughtful son calling to wish her a happy birthday.

Not only had our stay with Scott and Carol allowed us to rest and refuel, but they had given us Carol's special day without saying one word.

That's just the kind of thoughtful, humble, generous, Jesus-loving people they are.

Visiting Lincoln's tomb touched each of us.

His wife and three of his sons are buried in the monument, too.

Some of Lincoln's famous quotes were interspersed with sculptures of Lincoln throughout the beautiful monument, too.

When we went back outside, the kids soon spied a tree that was good for climbing...
and photo-ops, too.  We've trained them well.  I often hear, "Mama, this is a great spot for a picture!"  Which is exactly what happened with this tree.
We had just enough time to run (really - see Benjamin in motion) down the steps to see the temporary vault 
which originally held Lincoln's body while the bigger monument was being constructed.

Then we had to hug necks and say our goodbyes to this precious couple we've grown to love so much over the eight years.

And we were off to Peoria...


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