Answer: You don't. Aint no way on God's green earth that is going to happen.
So, I have a little confession to make. I have been ~just a little bit~ waiting for someone else to tell the rental car story because I actually do not really know all of the details. Perhaps no one has figured out how to tell the story in an edifying Christian fashion.....I will tell you what I know and then hope that someone else will pick up the details.
We finally got the Cali Chicas' luggage and hopped a shuttle to the rental car company who shall remain nameless because I don't remember it due to the pending lawsuit. We entered the line to await our turn to receive assistance from a representative of the rental car company, and as we are waiting, we begin the discussion of how best to handle the rental car gas tank. Pay ahead and risk over paying? Don't pay ahead and risk not having time to gas up, hence - over paying? Don't pay ahead and be sure to fill up the gas tank on the way into the airport? I, being the most reasonable of the group, gave my opinion; "I am not a driver on this trip AND I am in the group that leaves 2 hours before the other group. Therefore, I do not have to have an opinion on this subject." Thank you. As we are running through this discussion, I happen to spy the businessman in line behind us just looking at us all in awe. I smiled and laughed, he smiled and laughed and then asked, "Is it always like this??"
We all shared a good laugh, and then I had an epiphany. I am not a driver on this trip (you, being very observant, would have noticed this already) I don't have to stand in this silly line. I am going to enjoy one of the leather chairs in the corner and get out of peoples' ways. So, I excused myself from the ladies (still trying to decide what to do about the gasoline) and made a beeline for the chair.
This was a wonderful place to sit and watch weary travelers as they came and went, hoping for things to go smoothly so they could just peacefully continue on their ways. It did NOT, however, give me a good view, or auditory awareness of what was happening with my Chicas and OUR rental car.
As I sat and sat, pondered taking a nap, watched people, and sat some more, this couple came in.... I would say, older - maybe late 50's - early 60's - and the lady of the couple has bright red straw hair with the black/gray roots about 2 inches grown out. She is wearing black jeans, and some kind of black rock and roll tank top - and sportin' some tattoos on herself. She tells the man of the couple that she will wait here with the luggage whilst he secures their next mode of transportation. She then proceeds to show me the tear in her luggage and explain to me that the airline, rather than unzip the suitcase to inspect its contents, cut a 3 inch gash in it, in order to get at the 'powder' substance that showed up on the x-ray. When all the while, said 'powder' substance is just chili powder and she cannot fathom WHY they would destroy her luggage over packets of chili ingredients. She is just outraged. Outraged I tell you.
I, after expressing my condolences to her regarding her defamed luggage, and while watching her do her yoga poses in the rental car office, suggested to her that it looked like a tear that might have happened during transit. She could not accept this possibility, as it was clearly ridiculous and unfathomable.
"Why," you ask, "Do you have time for all of this? Shouldn't you have driven off like, hours ago??"
Refer to my confession above. Beg someone else to tell the story to you. I got nothin'.
I also saw a man come back in with the keys he had been given and complain that the car he had been assigned to was filthy and disgusting and that he was not accepting that.
There was also a man who came back in with the keys to the car he had been assigned to saying something about how it was a smaller car than what he had reserved and paid for and he would not accept that.
Me? I just sat and sat. I thought sure that I heard the voices of some of the Chicas here and there, but passed it off as them excitedly speaking to each other...
FINALLY they made for the door, and I made to follow them. We found our assigned car and worked to load the luggage, hook up the BEST TOOL EVER fondly named, "Madge", and pile us ladies in so that we could meet our date for dinner in King of Prussia. I don't really understand what was happening, but the girls were sort of randomly looking around and saying things like, "Oh! We don't have one of those??? Well what is THAT and THAT and THAT? Hmph and haw and fuss and hmph."
Me: "Uh... YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT! LOOK RIGHT THERE! HMPH."
We worked to tell Madge where we were wanting to go and waiting for her to direct us and had a wee bit of a glitch with that so, we called our date to clarify where, exactly it was that we were meeting her - and then we were on our way!! Yahooo!!
I'll put up a teensy post in a little while just to show you what I have been up to lately...
Picture it: God's Guitar Girl and Sing 4 Joy sitting in a row of seats at PHL, relaxing and waiting for the 30 minutes to expected arrival to pass. Did you notice that we showed up ON TIME? Mmhm. That's right. All of a sudden, the clouds parted, the heavens started singing and all time and space warped; except for the part in my line of vision where the most gorgeous group of women I have ever seen ~ aside from myself and GGG that is ~ was walking toward us, the leader of the group, my BFF. It was like breathing a breath of fresh air seeing her again and she was more beautiful than I even remembered.
To tell you the honest truth, much of the trip is quite a blur, but this part my heart remembers. I was saying to a friend the other day that my favorite part of these trips is the planning..... second only to the moment when I get to see my Chicas. So true. After hugs all around voluntarily, introducing GGG to the new girl Jtothe2nd, and scolding them for coming in early, we determined the direction to baggage claim and off we went.GGG and I had been together for a couple of days now, not really sleeping, GGG popping pills to fight off that stinking migraine, and me to tame my urethra, and maybe we were still a little jacked up from the awful color that they claim was the 'original' color in the courtroom part of Independence Hall. I guess we'll never know. But whatever the cause, we just sort of stood back and cracked each other up, at one point all the way to the floor, while we were waiting for the others to spy their luggage and gain us our freedom from PHL. (This, we will find out later was just a pipe dream)
This trip sparked a couple of new picture series for me. One being, the Peep series which is basically like a Where's Waldo? but with real life and people. This started because GGG was telling me about one of her favorite pictures from her cruise and how she wanted to do more and of course I was all over that! Well, GGG has sparked a revolution. Another series, the Papparrazzi series, began at the airport - when someunwilling Chica got upset that I was taking pictures of her after her long day of travel and put her hand in front of my camera. Don't you know that you cannot stifle art? GGG and I were beside ourselves with laughter over how she was going to peep the other Chicas without them noticing. Sad to have to report we never managed it. Waiting waiting waiting. WHEN will the luggage come?? We have a DATE with Jenster in King of Prussia and we still have to glide in, pick up the rental car and glide out.......mmhm.
Oh my goodness, will you look at the time?? I have a photo shoot this morning and I am still not dressed. Back later!
Sounds crazy right? I think so too, but stick with me here....
Yesterday was my day at home. I have been forced to schedule one for every week because my schedule has become so crazy.(TOTAL blessing) I try to ask my husband what one thing he would like me to accomplish that day and use it to tie up one of the many projects we need to finish, clean house, do laundry, blog and whatever else I can fit in. Yesterday, this included sitting down with lunch in front of the TV. I came across this show on some cable network called, "The real housewives of Atlanta." The show is filled with exceptionally wealthy women, who aren't even necessarily married, but are living in a house in Atlanta. Anyway, there is this one wife who is married to an NBA player. They have just purchased the estate of their dreams and are in the process of hiring the staff. Personal chef, nanny AND governess (whatever that means), estate manager, personal assistant, gardener, blah blah blah... So this particular wife is saying how because of her husband's job, during the season he is away from home 6 out of 7 days of the week. And she keeps saying how it's like she's a single mom having to do it all herself. "I mean, if I didn't have this personal chef and I had to make breakfast AND get the kids up for school - they would be late. I just couldn't do it all myself." Golly gee, how DO you manage with your millions of dollars and all your staff and CHILDREN WHO ARE OLD ENOUGH TO DRESS THEMSELVES to do it all without just crumbling for lack of your man help? As I am sharing my shock and outrage over this ridiculousness with my children (something along the lines of - "Guys! I saw the most outrageous thing on TV today") I was called back to several moments in my recent past when people judged MY situation less important because they held it (and what they believed to be the truth of it) up to THEIR situation and found that their suffering was, "real" suffering and, therefore, mine was not and I should just crawl quietly into a hole where I would stop bothering people who have real problems. I do agree that there are, in fact, worse problems in this world than I have experienced in my life, and it is right and good to be thankful for what I have and how I have been blessed. But let me be clear about something - just because I laugh, or smile - or do not tell you the depth of the truth of my situation, does not mean that my suffering is not real. Just because the only time you see me is on Sunday morning when I am praising my Lord, does not mean that I must be able to do that because there is no pain in my life. Just because I don't choose to lay on the ground every minute of every day flogging myself and crying to every passer-by about the struggles I face, does not mean that I do not struggle.
And THAT, my friends, has brought us full circle. Whoops. The truth is, that whatever my beliefs about what can be done with money and wait-staff, I have no idea what this woman goes through and I have no right to say that my life is harder than hers so she should just get over it, strap on her big girl panties and deal. And here is what Paul tells me about that....
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Where were we? I laid down and went to sleep! Guitar strung and mostly tuned. Ahh. The next morning was super cool. The sound of rockin' guitar playing came from somewhere in the house. Not from me - no. Not from GGG - no. But who? Taylor! The boy of the host family was quietly playing his guitar in his room. What a way to start the day! I too, sat down and finished tuning my guitar. I tested it out by running through a couple of songs. BLESSED BE YOUR NAME and REVELATION SONG (This one I even played from memory! Who knew I could do that?) GGG had come down and here and there, when I wasn't being so loud that I could only hear myself, I could hear her dropping the harmony. Ahh - a life of worship....
Jenster gave us the tour of their basement, AKA Rock Out Central! A wall of guitars, a keyboard, some brass instruments, amplifiers, etc etc. And THEN adjacent to Rock Out Central was Mr. Jenster's workshop. "Who cares about man tools?" Well, my friends - this is not your ordinary workshop. No. This is the GUITAR workshop. He has a desk with a nice piece of carpet laid across it. Also on the desk, a Black and Decker cordless screwdriver with guitar machine turner attachment. I'm sure there is an actual technical name for this tool, I just don't know it. *Dear Todd, we did not touch your tools! Although, having spent at least a good 2 hours the night before restringing my 12-string, I really could have used that bad boy. Truly, if you had been home, I would have paid you to do it for me.*
So we got the tour of the best rooms ever and wiped the drool on our sleeves. Then it was time to admit that we had actually come east for tourism. We really loved this family. They were all so gracious and warm and we would have happily stayed with them. But GGG and I had flown in early so that we could go and meet Philadelphia.
So we arranged our luggage neatly downstairs; which we would retrieve later at dinner so we didn't have to figure out how to lug it all over Philadelphia. Then we loaded up into the car with Jenster and the kids and headed over to pick up Taylor's girlfriend - 'cause the Jenster family were visiting a pirate exhibit in Philly (not touring around with us. Whatever.) Taylor's girlfriend was as cute as Katie.
Jenster really is a GREAT person to be your tour guide! She drove us through Valley Forge on our way into Philadelphia. Guess what?? I finally pulled out my camera!
I am learning that there is just not enough time and I have to accept that I am not going to see it all in4/5 days.
So we get into Philadelphia and Jenster is telling us about where to find a Philly Cheese steak, where to do this and that and then all of a sudden - she pulls the car over and tells us to GET OUT! I am not even kidding. She kicked us to the curb! Literally! Some drivel about,"I realized this would be the best place for you to go visit the Liberty Bell." Psh. She just wanted to be rid of us. She did get me super close to the Liberty Bell though. My dream was to touch it (and then sanitize my hand after, of course.) They made it impossible for me to experience my dream without getting arrested. I considered it. At any rate I took lots of pictures of it.
We also toured Independence Hall, which originally was named the Pennsylvania State House. Interesting. I know. I am a history buff. Get rid of the jealousy and move on people. We have a lot of ground to cover.
Here is me AT Independence Hall.....
Here are just a couple of shots of the architecture...
Let me just share with you, that you can't have a better companion to experience historical stuff than God's Guitar Girl. I adore this lady. She is passionate, outrageously funny, intelligent, strong-willed, godly, beautiful, quirky and she loves me back. We just went together, imagining the scene as men met to iron out the details of their futures and the futures of their descendants. Being willing to meet in this way at the risk of their very lives. Amazing. Of course we ate the Philly Cheese steak from Sonny's (mine with no onions), and we also used the public transportation system - all the way down to the airport to pick up the other Chicas. GGG wrote an awesome, "get to know the '08 Chicas" post. You can read that here. (I am the Chica that you think is the cutest) Chicas of Faith 2008 was now officially about to begin.......
So, I have not had time today to write a great story (including a blurb about how I stink for not visiting old friends in airport cities) because I have been working! I had a photo session with a super fun couple and have been given permission to give you all a sneak preview. I took 639 pictures today and somehow managed to weed it down to 148. Some of those are just quirky, fun ones from our session and really for the eyes of the Mr. and Mrs. only. Feast your eyes upon this gorgeous and fun couple; A Chaplain home on R&R from Iraq and his lovely wife....
Our plane got in a little before 8:30pm and as we are walking through the airport discussing where it is we are going to find our ride/tour guide/hotel hostess, we hear our names being called by a tiny voice in the distance. We turn and see a petite lady with a giant smile coming toward us. Do you know, Jen (as I am now allowed to call her) is nothing like I thought she would be and just like I thought she would be all at the same time. She is a softer, sweeter version InRealLife of the she of my imagination. Here is a summary of Jen gathered from our entire trip of knowing her.
J - Joyful E - Eloquent N - Nutty S - Sweet T - Triumphant E - Encouraging R - Radical
It was as though we had grown up in the same family. We fell right into conversation as we made our way to her prime parking space and loaded up our luggage. (Guitars made it safe and sound in case you were wondering)
GGG rode shotgun and she and Jen spent the ride back to Jensterville chatting about history, trivia and theology and all things interesting yet way too above me to participate, except for the ridiculous crack here and there. Jen pointed out to us that in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many of the skyscrapers in Philadelphia were lit up in pink lights. That was so neat. Sorry - still haven't taken any pictures yet. I can't remember all the talky talk that went on on the way to Jensterville (otherwise known as home). I just remember smiling the entire time and thinking how wonderful it is that my two friends were hitting it off and that I got to sit in on it. We made it to the house and unloaded our luggage. Jen showed us to our room. There were chocolates set out for us on our bed! And also, we got to room with Arwyn! Arwyn is Jenster's husband's Martin made guitar. *Dear Todd, although we lusted mightily after Arwyn, we did never one time touch her in any way, shape or form. Also, we lusted mightily after your Black and Decker tool with the guitar string twister attachment thingy, and restrained from fondling her as well.* So anyway, here is where you can go over and give sympathy to Jenster for she had to endure the euphoric part of the cycle of my current medication. I am pretty sure that I told her my entire life story. All.night.long. I could not stop talking. I kept thinking to myself and then saying out loud, "Oh my gosh! I HAVE to stop!" Then I would say, "I am SO SORRY. You do not have to endure this! You can go to bed." She was so gracious and kind and funny. She finally told me that I was going to have to stop apologizing. What she probably wanted to say was, "NO, I didn't need to know about that bunny you had when you were 2 that was later used to make a pregnancy test for the neighbor who lived on the farm next door because they had already eaten their bunnies the winter before." Okay, I didn't tell her all that. Mostly because she finally ran away at 1:30am and maybe a little because that never happened. I was just trying to give you a fictional, yet dramatically accurate indication of what she had to endure. I was about 1/4 through the process of re-stringing my guitar at that point and nowhere close to ready to sleep. GGG had given up shortly after we had arrived at the house because she was fighting hard against a migraine. This was to be her fate the entire trip the poor dear. She was such a trooper though.
Sidebar: I know you are all wondering why I would re-string my guitar on vacation. Let me explain. I am a novice at tuning my guitar. When the strings(all 12) are de-tuned, or loosened, it is an equal amount of work for me to re-tune it, or replace the strings all together. When you fly with a guitar, it is possible if you do not loosen the strings, that it could actually snap into pieces. As I am not willing to take that chance with my beloved, the strings must be loosened. SO, because it is so much work for me to re-tune anyway, I try to make it a habit to put on new strings when I travel with my guitar. I forgot to mention that Jen's children arrived home while we were chatting and I got the pleasure of meeting them. They also were not what I imagined, but they were just as they should be.
So, now I was faced with being completely dressed but ready to go to bed while my suitcases were in the dark in the room with the lady fighting the migraine. It took me about 20 minutes to decide whether I should just lay on the couch fully dressed across the room from Sookie in her crate and possibly disturb my host family like some crazy vagrant OR awake the poor dear with the goingtoruinhertrip headache. I decided that I would go quietly as I could upstairs and just get in the bed fully dressed. I know how to compromise and reason.
Thankfully, when I cracked open the door, GGG was sort of lucid. She said that she needed to take another pain pill. So she needed just enough light for me to be able to find my jammies. There you have it. Off to dreamland I went thinking, "I heart Jenster."
GGG and I had had the BRILLIANT idea that we would road trip all the way to Philadelphia seeing as how we could not find reasonably priced plane tickets and we needed some catching up time. What's 25 hours in the car?? Somehow that morphed into ME driving 6 hours to HER house 2 days before Chicas and us jumping a plane together the day before Chicas. All well and good. I attended PWOC on Tuesday the 7th and then headed off to her house. I had a lovely trip. Stopped twice. Once to visit Walmart's facilities, and once to purchase petrol. Once I got there, I met the new children she adopted. In between the time that she moved away from me a couple of years ago, and the day that I arrived back at her house - she had sold HER children and replaced them with ones that were grown up! They used words and drew pictures and ATE WITH FORKS. What on EARTH? I'm still reeling from the betrayal of it all. These new children hugged me as though they knew me. Must've been pre-conditioning from GGG. No other explanation. THEN - they all treated me to the OG. That's right! Olive Garden. Never-ending-pasta-bowl baby! Thank you God's Guitar Girl and impostor babies. During dinner we fell right into a groove of chatting and laughing and just being together. Plus the boy of the adopted pair kept asking me funny 3 year old questions. And Lil' G was just a charming young lady. We stayed up way too late talking and musing and dreaming. The morning of the 8th was so nice and leisurely! Our plane did not leave out of Austin until after 1pm so we (we being me) slept in until we (we being I) felt like it. And made our way to the Austin area where we ran an errand and headed for the airport. We were SO stinking excited to get to meet Jenster InRealLife, as she was picking us up and putting us up. Or, maybe putting up with us is a better description. Because we were so distracty we did not pay attention to what we were reading on our boarding passes. So, here I am, using the airport facilities and I hear GGG yelling, "S4J(name changed to protect the lame)! GET OFF THE TOILET! THEY ARE CALLING US TO BOARD THE PLANE!!" People, we nearly missed our plane to certain adventure because we had to potty! We were flying Southwest airlines, and if you don't know what that means, it means that you don't have assigned seats. You get what you get. And because we were the last people on the plane, what we got was a whole lot of middle seats that were taken by purses. We went all the way to the back of the plane and all the way to the front of the plane before braving up and asking one of the purses to move over. I got to sit between the two polar ice caps, and you'll have to read GGG's description to hear about who she sat next to. You can be sure it wasn't me. I tell you, the lady who the purse belonged to was T-I-C-K-E-D that her purse had to give up its seat to someone who breathed and paid. I started praying! Lord, let me be Your light. All I want to do is be mean right back. Take over HS...get to it Man! I pasted a huge smile on my face, and started passing notes back to GGG. At some point I wrote something about how I was not going to hide my light under a bushel, NO - I was going to let it shine!! So, I asked random questions to the lady, "Are you visiting Philadelphia?" She replied, "NO. We are going to PROVIDENCE." And looked quickly out the window. Me, "Oh! How nice!*smile smile* I've never been to Rhode Island!" She, *yelling across me* "Tommy! Do you want a SNACK?" He, *shakes head no, looking embarrassed* She, *yelling across me* "Tommy! Do you want me to tell you when it is time to shoot up??" He, *shakes head no, looking more embarrassed* I'm passing notes with GGG ~ something like, "I think this is going well. I think the polar ice caps are starting to melt." Anyway, the lady ~ Vera I think her name was ~ saw the little notebook I had taken my notepaper out of and asked, "Are you a member of PWOC?" Me, "Why, yes!" She, "I also am a member of PWOC." Me, "No way!! Oh my goodness!!" *thinks to God, "Lord you are KA-RAYZEE" Anyway ~ Me, Vera and Tommy chatted it up the rest of the flight. Chatted about serving on the board of PWOC, retirees and their place in PWOC, life in the military.... That's right! Turns out Tommy over there (who shoots up insulin and by the end of the flight had TWO women harassing him about snacking and testing his blood sugars and properly taking his injection) retired after 26 years in the Air Force. What do you know? Then he retired from another company, and then if I remember correctly - another one. We talked about different places we have lived, their collection of over 300 Christmas village buildings of which Vera and Tommy disagree about the placement of such so Vera has solved the problem by inviting her local friends over for tea and decorating. Tommy will have to be satisfied to cut the tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden. Vera's favorite assignment was Spain. We landed in Philadelphia and started discussing how we would recognize Jenster seeing as how we had never actually met her InRealLife, yet we were accepting her invitation to sleep over. Judge away. I can't care. We realized that we had no idea who we were looking for. (The only picture I remembered seeing of her, she had no hair)......
Okay. I want to tell you all about Chicas of Faith 2008, but I keep getting stuck on where to start.
"Start from the beginning," you say.
All righty.... Once upon a time in July of 2007, on a plane on my way home from Chicas of Faith 2007, I started praying and musing over where I would be going for our Chica adventure in 2008.....
"Ummm.....that's a little TOO far back," you say.
"Start from when you actually KNEW where you were going," you say.
All righty.... Once upon a time in I don't remember what month of 2007, after much prayer, we knew that we would be going to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for our Chica adventure 2008. It would be months of planning, decision making, praying, searching, re-searching, saving, praying....
"Meh. Still too early in the timeline," you say.
See my drama?
"Start the day you left for your trip," you say.
All righty.... Once upon a time, on the sweltering Louisiana 8th day of October, I attended PWOC; then skeedaddled out of there, dropped my friend at her home on my way out of town and hit the road for GGG's house in Texas.
"Och, that's really boring too! How about some pictures?" you say.
Yeah, about that... I didn't actually take any pictures until I got into downtown Philadelphia on the 9th.
"Hmm. Okay, well tell us more about your pre-retreat with GGG. There's GOT to be something good in there," you say.
I think you may be right. Let me think on that for a bit and I'll get back to you. Thanks for helping me work this out.
I made it home from GGG's house a couple of hours ago and am working to get caught up and settled in. I will try to post about my trip, but it may be a little sporadic as my calendar is looking insane! The trip was so so good from beginning to ending. Well, the ending was a bit dramatic 'cause, of course, I got lost. A lot lost. Added like 2 hours to my trip home. I also stopped a couple of times to take pictures, eat and get gas. (that didn't come out right - but notice I am leaving it anyway) I took approximately 1250 pictures during the trip. I have to edit and weed and googly-eye over them, so that will take a bit of time too. I'll try to build some collages so you don't have to see the 80 pictures I took of the Liberty Bell, but just a well organized, graphically designed smattering of them. Okay - now that we have the fine print out of the way, I will work to get you all the details I can remember in a refreshingly funny and gripping way to keep you interested and coming back for more.
Oh my beloved internet! How I have missed you so! The Amish, they just do not understand me and you and our relationship. My dear, sweet lovely internet. I now know that I could never marry Jacob Yoder and have his Amish babies. Poor poor Rebecca Lapp, how does she live without the wonders of web browsing? I'll never know. I will try to fill you in on all my adventures since we have been separated from each other, but for now, I will leave you with a picture postcard....
The Declaration of Independence (c) Sing4joyphotography
In Christ alone my hope is found He is my light, my strength, my song This Cornerstone, this solid ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm What heights of love, what depths of peace When fears are stilled, when strivings cease My Comforter, my All in All Here in the love of Christ I stand