Patricia Ann Ledford INKS !!
This website represents me as a writer.
Every morning I sat in my rocking chair facing the Lord's extraordinary work of nature. I read the Bible, then I tried to be still. After all, that's one reason the Lord sent me here.
One morning as I looked across the mountain ranges, I heard "Your grandfather was born right over there". I began my search for his birthplace in the next few days. And in my search, trekking one graveyard after another, I found my story: "Strings-The Story of Hope". It is loosely inspired by what the writer in me imagined during my ventures -- the story of a 15-year-old girl who escapes her burning home only to encounter traumatizing events that bind inescapable strings around her soul.
DRAW ME TO THE QUIET STRENGTH I CAN FIND IN YOUR PRESENCE
When I was asked to move to Chattanooga in 2012, I knew Jesus was in the room, answering my prayers about where He wanted me to be. My daughter Ali married just 6 months after I moved and I thoroughly enjoyed living downtown. "Thy will be done" dominates my every prayer. And, I especially enjoyed all the time I had with them.
Beginning in February of 2016, I worked from my condo, garnering construction projects and landing over 15 projects that year. On Monday, August 22, 2016 I was due in Kingsport to support treating concrete on new sidewalks. In the past many years, I hadn't spent much time in the mountains, so I decided I would rent a cabin near Hot Springs, NC and commute to Kingsport for the project. Ali and her husband, Jeff, had moved into my condo as they were in the process of buying their first home. We all needed a well-deserved break; so, they joined me for a week-end getaway.
That Monday, they returned to Chattanooga and I went to Kingsport. I returned to the cabin late Monday, poured a glass of wine, and basked in the solace of nature. "Draw me to the quiet strength I can find in Your presence". I realized I didn’t have to rush back to Chattanooga and went to sleep without plans for the next day.
On Tuesday morning, I sat with a map and a prayer, and realized I was just a few hours away from Moses Cone National Park, a place where I had felt closest to God in my younger years. I headed that way. Arriving at the park, I immediately felt peace, climbing to my perch on a fence overlooking the mountains and a beautiful lake. I began to pray "Dear God, please guide me in my future path. Where shall I live… Should I continue seeking a beach getaway or a place in the mountains… Should I stay in downtown Chattanooga… Should I start writing my books… Please guide me, according to Thy will."
I then tried to be still and listen. [As you can imagine, being still is a major effort for me]. But I made the effort. And then I heard, "You know-Nat's cabin is nearby and there's that 100' waterfall. Go there."
Nat ran for Governor in 1974. I was his campaign coordinator and as we traveled across Tennessee for almost two years, I heard many stories of Carey's Flat, the Coffey family, and the mountain folk. I realized I was near his Grandfather Mountain retreat and recalled the beauty of the waterfall. That was 1973-1974, 43 years ago.
That evening, I checked into the Boone, NC Fairfield Inn and immediately called my daughter, who was at the Chattanooga condo. I asked her to look in my filing cabinet for a file labeled "Nat Winston" to see if she could find a map to the cabin. She found it and sent me a photo of the map.
Nat had drawn the map over 50 years ago. There were no street names, other than The Blue Ridge Parkway. But I knew to head toward Grandfather Mountain. Exiting off the Blue Ridge Parkway, I came to Highway 221. I could turn right to Grandfather Mountain or left toward Blowing Rock. I turned left. A few miles down the road, I saw a sign: "Baptist Church-5 miles". There was a church on the map so I took the sharp turn to the right and found myself on a dirt-gravel road going deep into the forest. I just kept going. There were no street signs – only the tightly wound road to follow. I had no idea if I was on the right road, but after what seemed like an eternity, I came across the church. A country store indicated on the map was no more. I turned left and continued for another eternity. I recalled my two trips to the cabin and seemed to remember it was on the left. After 20 minutes driving on the sharply twisted dusty gravel road, I saw the cabin and the waterfall. Wow! It was unbelievable! I had found it after over 40 years!! [Note: Nat passed away in December, 2013, and left the cabin to his son, but it will always be known as Nat's cabin].
I crossed the closed gate and hiked up to the cabin, then to the waterfall. It was a beautiful day and I waded across the creek and climbed up on a rock. I sat and prayed. I reclined and relished sun, the sounds of rushing water, and scenery surrounding the waterfall. I prayed continuously, "Lord, what shall I do. Shall I continue to work in Chattanooga ... Should I start writing my books … Should I be in the mountains or at the beach …" I spent about 30 minutes praying at the waterfall, then walked down the hill, crossing Nat's gate to my car, feeling grateful for the quiet time I had spent with God [and perhaps with a watchful angel Nat].
But when getting into my car, I saw a sign located at another gravel road just 20 feet away. "For Sale: D Boone". I felt compelled to see what was for sale so close to Nat's cabin. I drove on another winding gravel road for yet another eternal 10 minutes until I came to a dead end – and the most picturesque property I had seen in a long time. The view was unbelievable. I walked around the yard and beautiful landscaping. This cabin was for sale, but not knowing whether the owners were home, I quickly got back in my car.
These few days were the first time in almost fifty years, where I did not have a plan. I had always gone to sleep with an agenda for the next day, even the next 30 days, feeling driven to make the most of every second and use the time God gave me wisely. I was a driven soul.
However, in the past two days, I had not had a plan. I just followed God's voice.
I headed to Cherokee, NC to see where the first Americans had lived. Disappointed, I saw the town was now casino-town and nothing like I expected. That night I again prayed "Thy will be done" and slept well. Thursday morning I decided to head to Fontana Dam on my way back to Chattanooga. I took a wrong turn and found myself driving on remote roads with only the occasional bikers along the way. I had no phone signal and no food from the time I hit the road until around 3 o'clock that afternoon.
Along the way, I thought about the past two days. God had definitely taken me on an adventure. What did it mean? I liked the cabin, but having had my condo on the market a year ago, I was not in any way whatsoever ready to put it back on the market, go through multiple showings and interruptions, with a remote chance of selling it. After driving in absolute silence (except for the voice in my head) for six hours, I finally found a restaurant (and a cell phone signal) in Vonore, TN. I was starving and ordered my "brunch". As soon as the server left my table, my phone rang. It was the concierge/property manager for my condo complex. She said, "Pat, you know how you said you didn't want to put your condo on the market again, but if I had someone interested in a property like yours I could show it?"
In shock, I replied, "Yes". She said, "Well, I showed some folks a condo like yours and they would really like to see yours. Would you be willing to let me show it at noon tomorrow?" I agreed.
I got back to the condo around six that evening. Ali and Jeff were there. It was clear that a lot had to be done to get the condo ready to show – but my wonderful kids helped, and the condo was ready to show at noon on Friday. That evening [just about 48 hours after I had left Nat's cabin], I had a contract on my condo for MUCH+ more than I had paid for it.
There was no doubt. God had sent me a very clear message. I debated with Him. I asked myself "What else could He do – send me a registered letter?"
This was a tough decision – with a clear answer. In 30 days, I would have no place to live unless I hustled. I looked at options in Chattanooga, but everything I looked at would cost me over $1,000 more monthly than the cabin. God couldn't have spoken more clearly. He had answered my mountain prayers, though in a way I could never have imagined.
The next week-end, Ali and I drove to Boone, NC and then spent about two hours at the cabin. It was not perfect. It was a 900 sq. ft. tiny house. (Interestingly, I had spent the last year watching "Tiny House Nation" and imagining whether I could downsize that extensively.)
From cabin to the paved Highway 221, it is a 20-minute drive on an extremely crooked dusty dirt and gravel road. As I navigated the unexpected twists and turns, Ali said, "Mom, this cabin feels like you." We continued to talk all the way back, discussing the pros and cons.
But there was no question. I had prayed "Thy will be done". This was God's will.
In the next few days, we learned Ali and Jeff's loan was approved and they would be closing to move into their new 3-bedroom home on September 15. I sent an email to the North Carolina realtor and made an offer on the cabin. We agreed to a price $15,000 less than the asking price and, after I made another trip to the cabin for six hours of multiple inspections, the sellers consented to my requests for removing furniture, fixing several issues, and we set to close on October 6.
Ever since I became a mother, I had designated many of my mother's collectibles and furnishings for Ali. I had done my best to organize my files and notes to ease passing my possessions along to Ali once I had passed. The timing of their moving to a new home throughout this entire adventure is another of God's blessings. I was able to give nearly all my furniture and collectibles to Ali and Jeff. Their new home is completely furnished. And yes, I even parted with my baby grand piano, knowing I can enjoy it whenever I visit them. Once I am gone, I no longer have to worry about their managing the process of sorting through my stuff (except the two legal filing cabinets I brought to the cabin). And, the cabin may become a family retreat for future generations.
It was a very tough, exhausting six weeks journey, but here I am sitting at my computer and writing. I now have an office with windows.
I moved in the day before Hurricane Matthew hit. The winds were high here – but it was clear the beach would have been difficult. A beachfront home would have cost 3-4 times as much as my cabin.
And, I must say, the sunsets here are breathtaking, as are the stars that surround my home at night. God's artwork is one of our greatest blessings. I am learning to be still and listen. I have learned to let days go by without plans. I only have to look out my office window to see God's work to remind me I am here at His will and I will follow as He leadeth me.
And every day as I sat down to my computer, I reflected and prayed according to the Lord's word: "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." Proverbs 10:3.
Amazingly, the Lord established my thoughts clearly. Two years after He brought me to the cabin to write, I completed my first novel, "Strings - The Story of Hope".
"Time with You can replenish my life and renew my work."