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.
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' money...at 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.
(For those in need of a key, Dawn=ladydusk, Jennifer=DA Queen and
An excellent time
was had by all (well, as far as I know...at 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.
were not on the menu.
The next morning, I managed to turn the camera on Mrs. Scarecrow and
her hubby before hitting the road again.
My next stop, six hours later, was the home of Mary and Dave and their
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,
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, PBCthis is where
you get in trouble!]
After Steve misbehaved...
...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.
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
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.
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 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.
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 knot...it was only half a glass of wine (no,
Merlot). But with a day's weary travel behind me, that was enough
to make for a very sleepy girl. Oh who am I kidding...it would have been
just as effective had I just risen afresh from a good night's sleep! Back