Valerie’s Chicago Trip
September 12-15, 2003
(Lots of photos...apologies to those of you with dial-up!)

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Once upon a time, Brad and Shannon lived in Baltimore. Brad was a pastoral intern at Valerie's church. Shannon worked there, too, as a bookkeeper. They also led the covenant group of which Valerie was a member. Then a sad day came, and Brad and Shannon moved to Chicago.

Shannon, Brad and the moving truck.

But all things work together for good, and this gave Valerie an excuse to go visit Chicago...and people and places along the way!

After spending an hour and a half...and a bunch o' Jiffy Lube on the morning of the 12th, Valerie headed westward at about 11 a.m. The trip was relatively uneventful except for my car getting backed into at a rest stop parking lot. It wasn't an impact so much as a squish as the Jeep Grand Cherokee crept from its spot into my front passenger-side fender. I pulled into a parking spot and the fender offender started to drive off. I suppose she wasn't even aware that she'd hit me. That got my adrenaline pumping, and I confess my speech upon chasing her down could have excelled in the graciousness department. By the time we'd swapped info, I realized that the damage to my vehicle, which was hardly pristine to begin with, was not worth the hassle it would be to this lady to report it, and even so, this was something regarding which I could easily show a little grace since so much has been shown me. I still need to call her to say fuggeddaboudit.

Eight hours after leaving Baltimore, I arrived at Barb's house, where I feasted with Scarecrow, HRH da Queen and ladydusk. Mr. ladydusk declined to attend, as he had learned of the all-female nature of the event and was, understandably, terrified. Mr. Scarecrow also looked upon the occasion as an opportunity to flee his home for safer venues. He did, however, return in time to play photographer.

and Barb

(For those in need of a key, Dawn=ladydusk, Jennifer=DA Queen and Barb=Scarecrow.)

An excellent time was had by all (well, as far as I least I can say for sure that an excellent time was had by me), even though (or perhaps especially because) they got me drunk. [note]

Da Queen brought flowers.

Parakeets were not on the menu.

Pippin and

The next morning, I managed to turn the camera on Mrs. Scarecrow and her hubby before hitting the road again.

Barb and

My next stop, six hours later, was the home of Mary and Dave and their chilluns.

Dave, Mary
and two

Upon entering their driveway, I managed promptly to lock my keys in my car. This was at least a much better place, amongst much better company, than the last occasion I chose to perform this particular favored trick. I am one customer Triple A loses money on! Dave was kind enough to wait for the tow truck while Mary and I went to fetch Steve at the train station. Upon returning to the house, I was able to retrieve my things from the car and deposit them in the bedroom of the girl-chillun, who had graciously abdicated it for the evening. And what, pray tell did I find there to greet me? [Pay attention, PBC—this is where you get in trouble!]

After Steve misbehaved...

Two chilluns,
Mary, Valerie
and Steve

...I tried out the axe on him, but it wasn't very sharp...his head's still attached. Good thing, I suppose. What with photos and all and "Phillip made me do it!" hardly being a plea that would hold up in court.

and Steve

We enjoyed a meal of burgers and salad and whatnot (including the chips being enjoyed by younger-boy-chillun in the photos above) prepared by our hosts. An excellent time was, once again, had by me and, I'd dare to guess, by others as well. Steve had to catch his return train at 8:40. When this was announced, I said, "Well, we'd better get out of here, because it's almost 8:20!" Um...wanna guess who had absolutely no idea that she'd crossed into another time zone?

The next morning I was able to catch a shot of the whole family, including older-boy-chillun, who had deserted us the night before. By the way, I do remember the chilluns' names, but thought it best not to post them in a public place.

Mary, Dave
and three

Soon after that photo, I, too, headed out for church. There are too many little toll roads around Chicago! After tossing the last bit of my change into the basket at an unattended toll, I was worried that more such creatures would appear. But the next was attended, so I'm not stuck with some exorbitant fine for passing a toll unpaid. I was ten minutes late, but I don't think I missed too much of the worship service, in which Brad preached on humility. After the service, the congregation gathered downstairs for lunch, as they do every Sunday, which I think is too cool for words. We then hung around until the ordination service at 1:30. Note to self: pack tissues when attending such events! You'd think it would have been Shannon or Brad's mom or even Brad who cried, but it was Valerie blubbering and sniffling to see how God bestows His bounty on His people.

After the ordination service, we again headed downstairs for a reception. A passel of young females, who had been tended elsewhere during the service, had made a banner, which they presented to Pastor Brad.

Since folks were milling about, I decided to snap some casual shots before we got into anything posed. Shannon had other ideas and decided to stick her head into the photo.

Brad's grandmothers and parents had flown up from Louisiana for the ordination. Since Brad's father is a ruling elder, he participated in the ordination. This had made me blubber all the more.

Maternal Grandma,
Paternal Grandma,
Shannon, Brad,
Mater and Pater

Of course I wanted a picture with Brad and Shannon, too. We waylaid an innocent bystander and pressed him into photographic service. There was a serious shot...

and Brad

and a not-so-serious shot. Smoking carrots...what will these whippersnappers think of next?

Pastor Brad's all official now, with a new office and everything. "Tell Joan how clean it is!" said Shannon. Well, for now, at least. [By the way, Shannon, I delivered your other message, too! ]

And here they are with the senior pastor and his wife.

Seesun, Renee,
Shannon and Brad

Alas, I finally had to say farewell and head back to Barb's, and then onto Baltimore, but I got this parting shot outside the church. Are they an adorable couple, or what?

I am very, very grateful to all who prayed for my journey...and to God the Father who answered those prayers through Jesus His Son. Besides the minor inconveniences noted above, my car continued to act up (it now doesn't start without first stalling three times), but I did not get lost once in all the 1,700 miles I drove! It was probably the best road trip I've ever taken by myself -- both the traveling and the joyous events along the way. I can't remember when I was filled with such gladness as I was all day Sunday. The Lord is gracious, indeed!

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[note] Now, now, don't get your knickers in a was only half a glass of wine (no, not boxed Merlot). But with a day's weary travel behind me, that was enough to make for a very sleepy girl. Oh who am I would have been just as effective had I just risen afresh from a good night's sleep! Back to text.