For four years now, we have struggled. We struggled financially after 9/11. We struggled emotionally until we were able to sell The Village Inn. We thought things would be easier at that point. We were able to clearly see God’s Hand in our lives. He would orchestrate things that were impossible unless He was the Conductor. Many times, everything would seem as though it was going to fall apart – and at the very last second, God would bring it all togeter as only He can. We moved to California and were ready to get the inn opened and do what we love – serve others through hospitality.
But for over a year, the delays dragged on and the bills stacked up. We went from being confident and comfortable, to second guessing everything we did and wondering where all the money would come from. We wondered WHY God would allow us to get here and then face this? If it was His Will that we come here – as was so clearly demonstrated prior to the move – WHY would He then allow us to be brought so low? We went from having a lot of cash on hand – to being in major debt. And then we opened for our first guests.
In the South, we had wonderful guests. Yes, there were those who we prayed would never darken our door again – but on the whole, they were friendly and kind and appreciative of everything we did. They would go out for the day and bring us little gifts. They sent cards and pictures and came back again and again. We made wonderful friends and when we left, I mourned not only leaving my friends, but I mourned leaving the business that we had poured so much of ourselves into – that somehow personified US. I suppose we expected the same here. But we somehow forgot that people are different from one region to another and Californians are not as apt to invite you into their lives as people in other areas of the country. (Although I grew up in Central California, there is a huge difference between the people there and here.) We miss the warmth and acceptance that we felt from our Southern guests. Granted, we have enjoyed fabulous guests here, but even with them we do not have the level of guest interaction that we had previously. We no longer serve breakfast at a long table and chat with the guests about how dinner was or what they’ve enjoyed during their stays. We feel like something is missing and we sometimes don’t get the appreciation that we think we should.
Needless to say, it has not taken long for us to become completely disillusioned. Aside from questioning whether or not to sell, we have questioned whether or not we should continue with innkeeping. This is not something I ever anticipated questioning. I have loved innkeeping. I believe I was born to do this. God gave Earl and I the gift of knowing how to provide just what people need in an environment that soothes and comforts them. It is a gift that even many innkeepers are lacking.
Earlier this week, I took a reservation and the conversation touched me. The woman asked about availability and then said that she selected our inn because we are Christians. We ended up chatting for a bit and when she learned that our previous inn was in Georgia, she commented on the difference between Southerners and Californians. I agreed with her and told her how we just haven’t found our “niche” here. She asked if we were going to be going back to the South. I told her that we are indeed entertaining the idea. But then I said “We were just so sure God wanted us to come here.” I don’t remember what exactly she said next, but it was along the same lines of where my mind suddenly headed.
God did want us to come here. He made it very clear. But the lessons have been in the COMING here. It does not mean we are required to STAY here. If God wanted us to stay here, He would be showing us that. We’ve prayed that if we are supposed to put down roots here, that we would feel at home and be able to do so. But we continue to feel like foreigners after almost three years. God is teaching us and stretching us through this experience. He’s teaching us patience and endurance – and they are never learned without pain and testing.
Before our conversation ended, she asked if she could pray for us. Her prayer was sincere and heartfelt and left me teared up. If only all of our guests could be like that…
Earl and I now find ourselves discussing what the appropriate asking price will be. We’re making a list of things we need to take care of as far as maintenance and looking at other inns for sale to see how we compare.
I know one thing – God will bring us a buyer when His time is just right. I may beg and plead and cry – but He sees what His GRAND PLAN is and I can only pray for clarity, as I research a new location for our next inn…