Last Christmas, when I put away all my Christmas decorations, I decided to leave out one small vintage item from my past: a little Avon Christmas candle perfume bottle. The empty bottle still smells of Moonwind cologne. It was my mother’s and she gave it to me sometime early in my marriage, so around 1980. All year long, I’ve been opening the bottle, smelling the soft, lingering Moonwind scent, and remembering my mother. I then ordered another bottle I found on Etsy as Moonwind is no longer made by Avon. My aunt, one of my mother’s younger sisters, was and still is an Avon representative and she used to send a package of Avon products to our family each Christmas. I have such fond memories of the arrival of that box each year, and each of us children would get to have an Avon item of our own. In my somewhat deprived childhood (especially by today’s standards), it was quite significant. I wondered, what would make my Aunt, who was very young when my mother moved away from the Ohio area to the Portland, Oregon area, care enough to visit our family several times over my childhood and early adult life, and what would cause her to send that wonderful Avon package every year, across the miles from her home to my family so far away? A few other relatives also visited over the years and I had some fond memories of getting to go swimming with my cousins. My mother was the eldest of 15 children. She and my father moved away from Ohio to Oregon with their then six children when my mom was pregnant with me, so in 1957. I was born in 1958 and my four younger siblings after me. My mother always longed to return to Ohio for visits and wanted to bring our entire family, but that never happened. She sometimes sang a little song, “Why oh why oh why-oh did I ever leave Ohio?” My mother did get to visit “back home” alone a few times, usually for a funeral or significant event. I wondered, what was it like for my mother to be so far removed from her family? What was this close-knit devotion I saw in her family, striving to keep in touch by letters and visits when possible over all the years? The soft, resilient scent of Moonwind from a bottle from my past caused a growing desire to see the countryside where both my mother and father were raised, spent the first 12 years of their marriage, and to see as many of my mom’s relatives as possible before any more of them passed away. I really wanted to honor my mom in this way. I especially wanted to see my Aunt again and meet as many relatives as possible.
I decided to go. I knew my sister also wanted to visit “back in Ohio” and so I suggested the trip to her. She was in and also wanted to drive to Kentucky after visiting our relatives to see The Creation Museum and The Ark Encounter (at Florence, Kentucky near Cincinnati, Ohio, about a 6 hour drive southwest of the north Ohio area). I pridefully and unwisely wasn’t that excited about going to these two places as I am not much of a museum person. I told my sister I’d prefer to go see a national park or something, as being in nature inspires me to worship my Creator God more than anything. But I agreed. I trip planned. We considered other areas to visit while we were in the area. We also wanted to go to Branson, Missouri, but the logistics of that travel were too hard for me I felt and would make the trip too long. I have to include rest days into my travel plans because of my health issues and fatigue. I trip planned some more. I agonized about what to try to see in the vicinity against the time and energy I had available. We came up with a viable travel itinerary. God provided free hotels with my reward program points and affordable flights thanks to my sister’s reward program–there was no excuse for not going. I decided to try to overcome my doubts and committed to the trip.
Immediately upon finalizing and booking the trip, my anxiety flared. I have never traveled far without my husband who tends to baby me and help me with my health and structural body damage issues that make travel hard for me. For example, I’ve never had to lift my own heavy suitcase. I am not brave, certainly not “badass,” and have always relied on my husband for security. I doubted whether my elderly sister and a little less elderly but sicker (I believe) self could handle the trip together. I lost about eight pounds in a week due to the high anxiety that struck me which causes stomach upset, lack of sleep, pounding heart rates, etc. Thankfully the intense anxiety subsided after a week, but I very nearly cancelled the trip many times. I prayed and asked God to give me the strength to face my travel fears, and He helped me. All of the things I was afraid of never occurred– no ruptured ear drums or severe problems with my ears flying in and out of Seattle, with its steep descent and take off. No problems pumping our own gas (little things are hard for me). No tolls at turnpikes were encountered. No car wreck or difficulty navigating. I felt great on all the flights, never even needed to sleep on the planes at all, and handled the travel with ease. One flight attendant was rude about me not being able to lift my own carry on suitcase into the overhead bin, but most people were helpful and kind when I needed that help. I will spare you the details of all the other health related worries I had envisioned that did not cause me any more trouble than usual. I did have one bad health issue come up that I dealt with the entire trip, but it wasn’t one that I considered might happen. And God helped me through that. I had some rough mornings where I really didn’t feel well, which is quite common for me, and had to power through to get to the scheduled events, but God enabled me to do it, then provided the needed rest afterward. The few navigational hiccups we encountered were easily solved. God truly gave us travel mercies and strength for the trip.
The time with relatives was more precious than I can describe. The countryside in the areas we visited was so beautiful. The grass is a prettier shade of green there and the fall foliage was so incredibly gorgeous. Since the area does not have very many evergreen trees, the fall foliage is more pronounced and striking than here in Oregon. And the way the ground gently rolls with very slight hills, and no mountains breaking things up — it was such a beautiful, peaceful place to be. We were told we might have encountered snow by October 10th in North Ohio, but we had never even considered that wrinkle. Instead, we experienced the loveliest fall, sunny weather one could ask for. My aunt’s old farmhouse on 30 acres, filled to the brim with a significant lifetime of nick-knacks, a barn full of cats, hospitality and genuine love for her family and people was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever had the privilege to visit. It was a greater experience to me than peering into the Grand Canyon. I really, really did not want to leave, and I wanted to just move in with my aunt for a good long while. I believe I will have to visit again soon. I will probably journal and write more about the visit with my relatives later on. The two days we spent there were significantly beautiful and well worth the trip.
Then–The Creation Museum. I had no idea what the Answers in Genesis ministry was all about. I mean I knew it was about creation science, but I never grasped the importance before. I was profoundly moved to worship God and was given renewed resolve to NEVER ever again question my God about anything I don’t understand. The very first program we attended, the Cosmos program at the Planetarium, was so great. I mean it is okay to ask God honest questions, but it is always wrong to question His authority and goodness, something I have struggled with over the years due to losses and suffering, etc. The God who created the universe and beyond, making planet earth the only place with just the right conditions for life — this Creator God should never be quibbled with, wrongly questioned or disbelieved. Oh, if only I could learn to trust Him better and love Him more.
Next was the Ark Encounter. This was less meaningful for me personally than The Creation Museum, but still worthwhile and significant. It helped me realize all the details Noah and his family had to work through in all the years of preparation for survival on the Ark during the worldwide flood. I hope to write more about how these two museums/places impacted me, but that will have to be for another time.
A person never knows how a simple kind gesture might impact another person. We never know how God might use a simple kindness many years later to inspire someone. In my case to take a trip and to discover spiritual insights, inspiration and renewal like I never thought possible. And to value and love family and my ancestors even more. My Aunt never knew how significant that simple gesture of sending an Avon package was to our family and to me. I gave my Aunt the full bottle of Moonwind cologne in the Christmas candle bottle that I found on Etsy as a gift, and explained to her how it inspired the trip. She said sending the Avon packages was just a little insignificant gesture. Little gestures matter. Little kindnesses matter. God will not waste one loving, kind thing we do for others, and when we do them, it is just the same as if we are serving Jesus Christ. Oh may God make us all faithful to keep persevering to believe in Jesus, and to do little acts of kindnesses that God helps us to do for Him. What a privilege.
I thank God for my sister, who is also a dear friend, to travel with. We made this trip possible for each other. Family is such a gift. Friendship is such a gift. Unity in Jesus Christ is such a gift. Oh how I pray for anyone reading this to discover Biblical truth. Please consider checking out Answers in Genesis ministry online. All the information at the museums is also readily available at the website and many excellent books are available explaining the truth of Creation Science. Real science. And oh how I pray for those of us who do believe in Jesus already, to really persevere, pursue our personal holiness as we trust God to do the work in us as He has promised, and to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ by His grace and mercy. We true Christ followers must answer our call to be bold to answer for our faith, to study to be approved, to meditate on and memorize scripture, and to stand for Christ and The Bible no matter the cost. I pray God will help me follow through with my renewed passion.
Thanks for reading. Feedback helps me know if I should bother to keep writing. Please pray for me to have more energy and consistency with writing the things God puts on my heart to share.