On my first visit to NYC fifteen years ago, my family stayed at a darling little brownstone on the Upper West Side. In the days before hotels.com or any other travel website, Mumsy had learned of the unique lodging from a woman in her Sunday School class. You might ask, why unique? The hotel’s purpose is to provide lodging to Christians who are either on a mission trip or ministering in the city. For our visit, Mumsy used a loophole that if extra rooms are available, they will open their doors to “regular” Christian lodgers.

Once we got over the shared bathrooms and lack of elevators, we grew to quite like our quirky, yet huge (we had the whole top floor to ourselves!), bed-sit in the city. The location couldn’t be beat and the brownstone and its furnishings were full of character.

Cut to today. On a day trip to NYC a few years ago during the holiday season, we discovered the Bryant Park Holiday Shops and vowed to do our best to revisit each year. Because all of my Saturday nights are booked between now and Christmas, the three of us began discussions today about an overnight trip after Christmas to celebrate the season and visit the market.

Naturally, our previous trip and our lodgings came to mind. The trip would also be a great time for my sister to visit an old friend from college and as soon as the name of the hotel slipped Mumsy’s lips, she practically ran to the computer to begin inquiries.

Note: Since moving to DC, my family and I have yet to find a new church to call home and have thus lost some of our “Bible Belt” cred.

Note 2: I was not present for this conversation but I can assure you this is an accurate representation.

“Hello, this is X.” (Names have been removed to protect the innocent.)

“Hi, I am inquiring about room availability.”

“What’s your ministry?”

“I’m a Christian.”

“OK but what’s your ministry?”

“I’m a Methodist.”

“I need to know your ministry or mission.”

“Umm. . . I’m a Christian.” (As in not Jewish, Muslim, Hindu… In case I wasn’t clear before.)

In a voice full of innocence and naivete plus a subtle trace of desperation, my sister continued this banter for a few more rounds. She even admits to coming thisclose to saying she doesn’t attend church anymore. (Because that TOTALLY would help her cause.)

Needless to say, that is one walk down memory lane we will not be taking this year.

Tess, the Lioness