To explain how absolutely incredible this anniversary was for Mark and me, I must first mention the fact that last year, on the morning of our 9th anniversary, Mark turned in his resignation at his job. We had not received his last two paychecks and honestly had no hope of ever recovering those paychecks and no idea where to find a job for Mark. We had absolutely no idea what the future might hold for us. We managed to have a nice dinner out thanks to gift cards we had saved up, but were feeling quite overwhelmed and unsure of our future at that time. We knew God would provide for our family, but we couldn't see how at that moment. So last year's anniversary, while incredibly precious in our heartfelt commitment and devotion to each other through such hardship, was obviously not the joyful celebration of years past.
Soon after, I decided to start saving up for a special get-a-way for our tenth anniversary. I knew it wouldn't happen if we didn't save up in advance because the money just would not be there. Susanna should be done nursing (or so I thought-ha!) and we could take a nice long trip together for the first time ever (I had been either pregnant with morning sickness or nursing a baby for the past 8 anniversaries!) So I put a big mason jar on the counter, decorated it with hearts, and declared that every extra dollar would go in there. I also decided that no matter how tight things got, I would not redeem the points on our credit card (which we do pay off every month) and instead save them for our 10th anniversary trip.
Almost a year later, I am happy to tell you that my money jar and our credit card points pretty much completely paid for our anniversary trip! We got an incredible deal on our rooms because we waited til the last moment to make reservations. And by waiting til the last moment, I do mean that we showed up at the beautiful Homestead Resort in Hot Springs without any reservations, just hoping they would give us a deal! And they did!
Many people have asked us why we chose the Homestead Resort and honestly, it was simply because it was the only place nearby that looked really neat. Susanna is still addicted to nursing and although she takes a sippy cup, I was afraid to go too far away in case she decided to flip out on the grandparents. And the grandparents couldn't take too many days off work so we only had a long weekend get-away. But it was still absolutely wonderful!!! Such a beautiful place!
I also have to share about another amazing provision from God: The Homestead is a beautiful resort with tons of fun things to do. However, pretty much every activity (other than the lovely tea time) costs a good bit of money. It took just about all of our money to pay for the rooms and delicious but expensive resort food, so we really didn't think we were actually going to enjoy the spa or other activities in the resort. We were a little bummed about that, but it was so wonderful to just get away and eat good food and enjoy being together that we were fine with that plan. The first evening, Mark asked me to walk away for a minute and he chatted with the concierge for a bit. Then he came over to me with a big smile on his face, saying, " I have a little surprise for you!" He proceeded to tell me that I had been given a $400 gift certificate to the Spa at the Homestead! We were both utterly astounded and so excited!!! He had gone to the front desk and simply asked if they did anything special for anniversaries. When the lady heard that it was our 10th anniversary and that we don't drink alcohol, she smiled and told Mark she had something else she thought I would enjoy. And then wrote the gift certificate. Absolutely amazing! At first I thought I would just enjoy all the little fun spa pamperings myself, but when I found out that booking a couple's massage would give us both day passes to the spa garden, it was an easy decision. We were able to enjoy the refreshing mineral pool together as well as a wonderful massage. And we would never have been able to afford it without the blessing of that gift certificate!
Right before getting in the car to go on our trip:
The indoor pool:
We are not used to taking selfies but did it to send to the girls:
Talking to a horse to get a picture for the girls:
I always end up with a bigger order than my husband :)
The view from our window the 2nd night:
Every afternoon they had a lovely tea time where they served 2 kinds of teas and several sandwiches and cookies. Mark taught me to play chess every while we enjoyed our snack:
Another lovely dinner!
The waitress tried to take our picture but it turned out fuzzy:
Gorgeous outdoor pool:
We played mini-bowling at night:
The famous Jefferson pools!