Ruins to Historic Landmark

The ruins pictured here is what remains of the Dungeness, home of Thomas and Lucy Carnegie.  This home, mansion actually, was built on Cumberland Island off the eastern coast of Georgia and Florida in 1884.  What was certainly a handsome island home burned in 1950, not to be rebuilt, but left for tourists to wander and wonder!

Ruins @ Cumberland Island

Certainly the Carnegie’s never intended or imagined their opulent home would one day exist as a burned out shell.  Surely it was a tragic loss.  Not just the building, but all of the furnishings, the tapestries, photographs, hunting trophies, knickknacks, and such.  All the things that would have made Dungeness a home for family and memories.

This photo of Dungeness is one of my favorite pictures from the day we (Randy and I) spent on Cumberland Island.  First of all, it recalls to my mind the adventurous and fun-filled day we enjoyed celebrating our anniversary.  ferry-boat Cumberland

As one might guess, the only way to arrive on the island is by boat.  Accordingly, we were advised to arrive plenty early (a personal challenge) for the ferry at the beginning of the day.  The greater consequence for lacking timeliness was at the end of our tour.  Missing the ferry-boat would require us to make an extremely expensive (for us) overnight reservation at the Greyfield Inn.

Once we arrived on the island, we walked shaded pathways along mossy oaks until we arrived at the front porch of the Greyfield Inn.  The inn would be our base camp for the day.  There was a debriefing in the library, a tour of the inn, a box lunch (beware men – no meat), maps, and bicycles to ride anywhere on the island.  Oh, but remember, there are no paved roads, no road signs, and you must be back in time to catch the ferry-boat!


Oh, my goodness, it was a day to fulfill the deepest longings of my adventurous heart! Equally, it was a stretch for my dear husband.  What a day.  What a day, indeed!

mossy oaks cumberland

We rode bicycles to the Dungeness ruins.  After resting a bit, we explored our way to the unmarked path to the beach.  Leave the bikes behind and follow the previous footprints through the sand.  There it was… the great Atlantic Ocean, shells galore, and not another human being in sight.  No wonder Cumberland Island carries the nickname of “Skinny Dip Island”.   (That was a bonus idea Randy felt made up for the veggie lunch!)

After running for the gigantic front porch during a sudden downpour and lightning show, we took a break with a wonderfully hot cup of coffee watching the show from rocking chairs.  Once the rain let up and the sun popped out again, we walked the pathways around the inn looking for a wild horse.  Suddenly, right in front of us, there were two beautiful horses. Spectacular!

two wild horses cumberland


Now before you feel this is a paid advertisement (which it is not) for the Greyfield Inn or Cumberland Island National Seashore, let me move along to the other reason I love the picture of the Dungeness ruins.  It reminds me of this passage in Isaiah.

And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.     (Isaiah 58:11-12 esv)

Greyfield Inn Cumberland

At the time of our visit to Cumberland Island, Randy and I were celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary.  It was a glorious time and we threw our whole selves into honoring our silver+ mile marker!

You see, we had (since the day we spoke our vows to one another) fully intended and anticipated reaching our silver, and our gold (and whatever comes after that) anniversaries.  We set out from the beginning to build a remarkably handsome home called family in which to raise children and collect photographs, trophies and knickknacks representing a lifetime of successful and happy – don’t forget God-honoring – memories.


And we did.  Yes, thanks to God, and nothing of ourselves that we ever accomplished a beautiful home into which He added our two precious seeds – our sons – blessings from God.

However, it is not an exaggeration to report this; raising sons to men with a Christian world view in the 21st century is not for the faint of heart!  The storms came and the winds blew hard against our beautiful home.  Lightning flashed and thunder cracked over our precious family until one day we looked up, Randy and I, and I said to him amidst the emotional rubble, “How did we get here?”


Much like the Dungeness scenario, no one lost their life in the fire.  We are grateful for all that was left in tact.  However, the casualties were pretty significant and no one walked away from the scene unharmed.  Wiser though.  Less judgmental.  More hopeful.  Grace infused – forgiving more often than not.  And (unlike the Carnegie family) we’ve been rebuilding.  I must say I have found Father God true to His Word, and far more generous than our mere mortal expectations.

And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.     (Isaiah 58:12esv)

Oh yes, Lord, You are doing it.  Oh yes, Lord, You are doing this redemption work in me…in my marriage… and in our seeds.  You promise is here, and I receive it for the raising up of many generations yet to come.  Thank You, Father.  Thank You!

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