Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Weekend to Remember- part 4-- the ride home

After the concert we made our way back to the hotel and a hoped for night's rest. It was going to be a long ride home, hopefully though it wouldn't be in the rain. We didn't stop anywhere for a meal, thinking that there had to be a snack machine in the hotel and crackers would be fine. (Hubby's idea not mine, but I wasn't arguing). Parking the car we grabbed everything we had taken with us and carted it all in to the room. I then went off in search of...something. I did find a snack machine across from the front desk. I bought a candy bar, and a pack of chocolate covered cake like things. I had also rescued a cinnamon/ raisin biscuit from earlier that morning from the glove box of the car. Please all you dieticians get up from the floor, it was a one night thing. My husband had already showered and had coffee ready by the time I got back. After our highly non - nutritious meal, we called it a night. I showered, remembering his warning that it didn't take much cold water to cool down the hot- and he was right-and made my way toward the bed. I had slipped around when hubby wasn't looking and turned the ac over to fan. He wasn't freezing me no matter how hot he thought it was. I set the alarm on my watch since the clock on the clock radio in the room  wouldn't set and called it a night.
 Watch alarms are strange, at least mine is. That thing was so excited about being set, that instead of waiting until the 6:30am at which I had set it, the thing went off several times during the night. It would only beep once, but that was enough to bring me out of a deep sleep into a confused state of  "What now?"

 I actually beat my husband up, (got up before him to be precise)  I wanted to be up early to get my contacts in without having to listen to and respond to a conversation that would be more rant that chat. It wasn't easy. I'm accustomed to this little routine here, I place this huge white towel over my desk, I have a cute pink teddy that holds my mirror and I place my contacts case, solution and paper towel next to that. I'm close to and looking down into the mirror. Oh, and I have a lamp beside.. behind me. Here I was, hand towel over the sink, all my gear beside me, and me trying to lean in close and see in this huge mirror where I was not looking down but almost up. I did however finally mange to get everything in place and went to wake up hubby. We needed to get everything in the car, breakfast out of the way, checked out and on the road. We would soon be burning daylight and I wanted to get home. According to hubby, we had things to do there.

 For once we actually had not taken much so it didn't take long to get it stacked into the back seat of the car. Carrying my camera bag, purse and the room keys we returned to the hotel and made our way to breakfast. It was simple, eggs and biscuits and gravy. They also had cereal and toast and muffins. The waffle thing was either out of order or out of batter, either way, there were no waffles to be had that morning.  As we checked out I asked and was given permission to take a few photos of the inside. We chatted a while before I signed the paperwork and we made our way back to the car. One thing I will carry with me is just how nice everyone was there. From the moment we checked in, to my wandering around bored out of my skull while hubby napped, to waiting for concert time, to every moment, everyone we met was incredibly nice. We asked for two more pillows, boom, two more pillows. We, hubby, managed to lock us out of the room, boom, another room key..If we wanted to chat, they were available.  If only it was that way everywhere. They were this friendly, and still got their work done.

  Climbing into the car, we headed toward home. The lady at the desk made the comment that she hoped we had a safe drive back and that the sun would be at our back. I didn't bother to respond that we would be headed east and that the sun rose in the east, just to see the sun would be a joy compared to the rain we had left on Friday. My husband said that he knew the way, just to turn left and head out, we would hit a certain road and that would take us to another one that would be our main ride home. He did not tell me how far I would have to drive to find the first road. We kept passing signs for it, just didn't seem to ever be going to reach it. Finally it appeared over the horizon. We pulled onto it and started only for him to tell me that up ahead was a truck stop and we could get a thermos of coffee there. That taken care of we were off and running again. This was going to be a lot of down hill driving. This was going to be a lot of down hill driving with people who rode their brakes, who raced the trucks, Truck driver who paid no mind to those great big letters painted on the highway that read no trucks this lane. Usually stuff such as this makes me nervous, but today, I was fine. Even when the energy truck from Kentucky rode right up on the tailpipe of my explorer and stayed there.

 I did fine the entire ride, the car handled nicely, it was doing fairly well on fuel consumption,  there were no problems. Right up until we reached the town of Shelby. I pulled up to a traffic light and stopped, and the car died. Dead. Completely. Won't crank, nope, ain't going to. I found the emergency flashers and kept trying. Cars were going by us, trucks were passing us on the right. Finally it caught and I pulled it into gear and pulled away. We made it to the next gas station where I pulled in, hands trembling horribly and drove up to the pumps. Pumps that held no regular gas. We topped it off (I still had half a tank) hoping the higher grade octane would clean out anything that might be blocking the fuel filter. I can't help but believe that I pushed my baby too hard even though it was down hill.
 Pulling into the driveway I happily turned the key to the done position and opened the door. Home, we were home. I began carrying stuff in just to get that out of the way. Of course the furthest most of it got was to the chair in the living room, but at least it was inside. I called and spoke briefly with my mother, my parents live next door and help keep an eye on the place, and let her know we were home. Our son was at the race and I had no idea when he would get back and I wasn't calling as that would be a waste of time. One simply cannot hear a conversation over the roar of engines. 

 There were a few hours of daylight left, I went out with mom. James got back from the race. My husband and I made a run to Sam's Club. I cooked dinner and made to call the day done. The next morning, full realization hit. The weekend was over, I had fallen back through the looking glass from fun and excitement to the ordinary. It was back to work for both me and my husband. Even as the sounds of the music and singing along with the screams from the crowd still sounded in my ears. Even as my heart still raced and the excitement flowed within, the ordinary was back. Responsibility was back. But the joys, the good times, the special things that made this past weekend one to remember, will not ever fade. I only hope, that it won't take another six years before we can do it all again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Weekend to Remember, Part three- Back Stage and Show Time Baby!

  I watched as our guide walked past us, I heard him giving instructions to the person at the door as he turned and walked back making sure everyone was following his instructions to us. My husband was ahead of me and we entered a room where we were told to form a semi-circle.  The room wasn't all that large, but it was plenty big enough for what was about to happen. It was filled with backstage stuff and even though I was curious, my attention was elsewhere. It had been almost seven years since I had spoken directly with most of the members, I wondered if they would remember this face. I knew they did last time, even though even more time had passed, but they had to have seen an ocean of faces over the years, was mine memorable?
                         (Photographer is Renee Smith, this is her photo of Shayne Hill)

 As we waited, I looked around the room and noticed several familiar faces. I wanted to speak with them, but I didn't want to upset the person who had shown us in, even though he was one I did not see at the moment. He, was all business and by all appearances, would take no insubordination such as getting out of line. I crossed my fingers and hoped for a moment afterwards to say hello.
                   (Not my photo, Renee Smith, took this photographing Mark, she just accidentally got us as well)

 It was only a few moments before the members of Sawyer Brown entered the room one at a time. Each making their way around the room, speaking and taking time with each individual. Autographs were signed, photos were taken, and a few words were shared, then they were gone, moving on to the next person waiting. Time was after all short and the concert was set to begin soon. They had to finish getting ready to go on stage and strut their stuff for the room full of people waiting. I won't lie in that it did make my night when I saw the recognition dawn in the face of one of them. He actually smiled and made me feel very welcome, not that the others did not. Then there was the one who He and his wife are friends on facebook and who I have regular conversations with. His kind words about my photography really set off the moment. It also made me want to get out there before winter sets in and kills off everything.

As quickly as they appeared, they were gone. A dear friend walked out with my husband and me and walked all the way to the doorway into the seating area. Telling me that they were taking off afterwards she mentioned that we would do it again soon. I hope so, I was impressed with this person before, their attitude, their heart and their smile always a moment of calm in a hectic, crazy place called social media.
My husband and I made our way to our seats. Not far from the doorway was a table covered in bottled water. My husband asked if I wanted one, with a quick response of yes please, he fetched the water for us both and through the door we went. The first time we had been here there was no one to cross over, this time there was but it wasn't a problem. Everyone was polite and helped us get past and to our places. Sitting there I glanced around. I had feared finding out seats before we arrived. I feared how they would be. this venue was nice though. It was not all that large and the way the seating was arranged, there wasn't a bad seat in the house. I had brought my cameras, and the cameras weren't a problem, until they announced that no flash photography was allowed. That wouldn't have been a problem either, but with these contacts, I can't see up close without my glasses, and then it helps if it isn't too dark. I did try to take a few photos, preventing the flash from firing, or putting the camera in a setting where I knew the flash wouldn't fire. unfortunately, distance and incorrect settings left for some bad shots.

Thing is........I really enjoyed watching and participating in the show by not seeing it through a viewfinder.
And what a show it was. From the very first chords, to the final waves good-bye, those guys rocked the house. At times it was a bit difficult to hear the music over the screams, hollering and whistles. People were clapping and singing along. We laughed, we swayed, we enjoyed every moment. They played old songs, new songs, rock songs and ballads. They goofed around  and took not themselves seriously, enjoying themselves as much as the audience was enjoying watching. By the end of the show, the house was on its feet and about as into what was going on as anyone could be.
I wondered how on earth I could have gone this long. I felt the years fade away as I, myself sang, shouted and clapped along. I had so missed this. By the time it was over, I was exhausted, but still wishing for more.
The room emptied fairly quickly, even as small as the walking area was, and as crowded as the room had been. As we left we helped ourselves to two more bottles of water, I needed it, and we moved on toward the doors to the outside. I glanced over at the merchandise table, but I didn't bother to wander over and purchase anything. I was tired, worn out from the work out and ready to head back to the hotel room. I didn't know if we were going to stop for anything to eat or not. I didn't know how heavy the traffic was, but I was glad we were parked close by. How quickly our time was coming to an end...

Monday, October 10, 2016

A weekend to remember.. part two---I know people

I know people.. that is what I was told. Its true you know? I know people. I know people who give it all in the face of danger. They  don the uniform of their choice of service branch. They don the uniform of the police department they chose to serve with. They don the uniform of paramedic, fire fighter, doctor, nurse humanity at its best. They go out into the world, whether distant or local and they risk everything and only hope to make a difference and go home at the end of the shift. I know some of these people, and I will support them, and appreciate them with all I have in me.
I know people. I know people of different backgrounds, races, ages, faiths, education levels, financial levels and any other level. I know them, I don't classify them. I don't put them in a certain space and only visit when I feel they are worthy of attention. They are human, they have feelings, they have heart. I watch them as they reach out to others and seek to make and be a difference. I am happy and proud to know these people.
I know people. I know people who have become wealthy through various means. I know people who struggle from paycheck to paycheck. I know people who are working and managing to make it with a few dollars left over. I know people who travel in big suv's, small toy cars or even scooter or bicycle. I know people who live in giant houses, those who live in the more scaled down variety, mobile homes or tents. Each and every one bleed the same color. More dollars or more square feet, does not make them better, less does not make them less.
People are people to me, as long as they are respectful of others, don't stir the pot of drama too often and are honest and respectful toward me, I will do the same for you and call you friend. I will call you one of the people I know.
I meet some really cool people. I cannot stand to stay in a closed hotel room. I tend to get claustrophobic, so I wander the halls, go outside, go back inside, go toward the front desk, just wandering. On one of my wanderings, I ran into, not literally, an interesting gentleman whose name escapes me. He had all of the appearances of and the needed rides, to be a biker. His wife's name is Robin. We stood and talked for the longest just outside of the sliding hotel doors. They were supposed to be headed for various parts of Florida, the various parts which were all in the paths of the hurricane. They had no current news and were not sure of the conditions of the area so they were taking it a day at a time and living the adventure. While we talked, and I do tend to talk with my hands, I managed to keep opening the sliding doors due to waving my had too close to the sensors. I ended up moving part way around the corner of the building to keep from wearing them out. I received a call from my husband, he hoped that I had a key- nope- well we were locked out of the room as the door had slammed closed behind him.  Saying good-bye to and wishing my new people a safe trip I hurried through the sliding doors and to the front desk to get another key.
Now, what was that all about? One of the many people, had told me that they would see we got backstage. People are not infallible, things happen, communication is sometimes broken...or almost.
 We left the hotel two hours early for the venue. When we had made the mandatory run to wally world, we drove by the venue first, just to be sure we knew where we were going. There were lots of signs for event parking so we thought we had it all figured out. Now here we were, headed for the place. I'm not comfortable driving where I'm not familiar with the area, but I'm getting better. We drove down and when my husband said, 'pull in there' (at the first venue parking sign) I saw that it was VIP parking. There were several people, aka police officers and event staff, standing there so I rolled down my window and asked about parking. I was politely instructed on how to drive around behind the school and then I could park anywhere in the school lots. After driving around the building I managed to find a place very close to the entrance. (My husband is not a big walker)
We get to the door and there was security, my bags had to be checked, which I knew they would. I placed them on the table, pulled my purse from the camera bag and opened them both. They were briefly searched, there was no food or weapons so we were allowed in the door. We found a comfortable place to sit near the front windows to wait as the doors into the seating area were not open yet.
As we sat and chatted I watched the guy at the merchandise booth. I knew that was where the backstage passes would be. Finally when he wasn't busy I walked over and politely inquired about the passes. He checked the list he had and told me no, my name wasn't there sorry. Not friendly, not rude, just very businesslike. It was his job, and he did it well.  Not a problem. People get busy. I tried to make a call, no answer, but I expected that. I would hope for a call back.
I returned to sit beside my husband and people watch. He kept telling me he was sorry, but I told him it was fine. We were getting to see the show, that was enough. Funny thing is, I meant it.
Then, more people I knew came in. Friends I haven't seen in ages, well, since the last show we had been to which was nearly seven years ago. After hellos and hugs we were standing chatting, catching up on news and events when yet another special person walked in. I was told that yes, that was who I thought it was. Mark Miller's mother. Bless her beautiful heart, it had been the same seven years since I had seen her, would she remember me? (Some people, never forget the people they know) Oh yes, trust and believe when you know people. For a china doll sized lady, she gives a wonderful bear hug and has a heart bigger than all of Tennessee. Our conversation was brief and actually cut short when the lady walked up to take her back to Mark, but my night had just been made. Even if I didn't hear back, I was happy. I had seen several special, treasured and loved friends/ people in the span of a few moments and my heart was full.
 It was not long before this chime sounded and the announcement was made that the doors were opened and we could take our seats. My husband and I waited until the worst of the crush was past and then we made our way to our seats. My backside hadn't settled in good when my phone buzzed. I was getting that call back. Quick instructions to go back to see the guy at the booth, he had our passes. I told this to my husband and he rose as I did and we made our way back. He was watching for us and met me part way. He had the passes in his hand and when I said I was told he knew I was coming  he told me, this time. Still all business as he gave me the same instructions I had heard him giving everyone else. He knows his job, and he knows the importance of doing it right. I held no ill will toward him before, or ever. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I know that he knows that his job is to keep his people safe. No one can take offense to that.
Passes in hand, we took our places where he had instructed and waited. As we waited I watched as Mark's mother followed by a friend appeared once again. Someone called her a rock star in her own right.. and she is.
Then the word was given, we were to follow the leader back.....
We were going back stage baby! To see people ya know?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A weekend to remember-- part one

     How the skies looked
             rains and clouds..the entire drive

This past weekend, (Oct. 8/9 2016) will be a weekend that will live forever within my heart and memory. I doubt that the passing of years, advancing age, and a thousand other memories made will ever hide or erase it. This was a wonderful weekend. Even though, it had a rough beginning.
 We had been planning this weekend for months. Immediately after finding out that our favorite country band of all times, Sawyer Brown was going to be in concert close enough for us to travel to, and with tickets within our range, I had to go. My husband, bless his generous heart, agreed. Our first difficulty was that the time of the day the tickets went on sale, I was going to be at work, with no access to a computer or phone to try and call in. I enlisted the help of my mother who began calling the minute the clock struck the starting hour. The first time she got through, she was 27th in line, when they got to 26, she heard, sorry, no more room.. and was disconnected. Trying again she was caller, 23. When they got to her number, the call disconnected. She started to give up, but tried one more time and was able to score us seats on row K. I'll take it. So, now we had seats, I had to find a hotel room. I began by searching to see where the closest hotels were, one by one was knocked out as they had nothing available that day. I finally found a room and quickly booked it. Now we had tickets purchased and a room booked. All we had to do, was wait. The show, was weeks away yet, but I was getting excited. It had been a little over six years since I had seen a show, much longer than that for my husband. I contacted a friend to ask about if there would be a meet and greet and if that was done through the fan club, I wanted to see the guys again yes, but I wanted my husband to have that chance as well since it had been so long.....finding out what I needed to know about that I settled in.
 Then, finally, the week of the show arrived. I reminded my manager that I would not be able to work Saturday due to the planned trip. She was fine with that as I rarely miss work.
 Then on Thursday night, the rains came in. All day Friday it rained thanks to Hurricane Matthew. The skies never lost that odd shade of grey and the rain seemed to be destined to fall forever. Saturday morning, it was still raining. My son had to work, then had plans for the Charlotte race, it was called. Still, I was sitting here, trying to wake up and prepare for the trip when I noticed the lights flicker. Once, twice, then out. Our power was out for thirty to forty-five minutes before gloriously returning. My husband and I quickly packed and loaded the car. Our first stop was for a quick breakfast and then onward. We were now, officially, headed for Greeneville, Tennessee.
 As we went through Stanley, NC, I managed to get behind a truck that had a driver that must have feared the rain. They went no less than ten miles and hour below the speed limit. My husband ranted and raged the entire time, when the truck turned down the road toward our home church I said on look, its the pastor. (No, it wasn't but still...) My husband stopped, he stumbled, he stuttered, he offered apologies, he demanded to know if it really was, he said he had no way of knowing, he said surely he didn't really drive that slow. It was humorous listening to all the excuses rather than the ranting.
 My husband had to stop at a truck stop to send off some paperwork so he would get paid. While there he got us more coffee. The whole time we had been driving, we had been going in and out of the rain. The rain, it seemed, was determined to fall continually, all of the way. At one point crossing the mountains the rain was falling so hard and the fog was so bad that I could barely see beyond the hood of my explorer. While I fought the weather, my husband fought with his GPS. Being a long haul driver, he had it obviously set for trucks, and it liked that setting and flat out refused to change to auto, no matter how much he fought with it.
 At one point, in the midst of his arguing with an electronic device that wouldn't have cared even if it could, I saw a road sign that said Greeneville. Whipping off the interstate I headed into the unknown...brave? Brilliant? Fool hearty? Only time would tell. At the end of the exit ramp, the sign pointed toward the left, so I went left. A couple of miles up, there was another sign with the information that Greeneville was 19 miles ahead. Forward we drove.
 The further we went, the more my husband was determined that we were going the wrong way. Finally I saw a welcoming sign, the name of the road I was familiar with. I remembered it was the street name for the location of the concert hall.  Not long afterwards I came to the road our hotel was on. My husband asked me over the course of the drive about the hotel. I honestly couldn't answer any of his questions because my own information was severely limited. 

 When the hotel finally came into sight we had to figure out how to get there as it was on the opposite side of the road and we were blocked by a nice large traffic island that went all the way up almost to the traffic light and there was a nice sign with no u turns. At the next light there was a turn arrow and I was able to make that u-turn and go back to the hotel. It was 1:30 in the afternoon, the paper said that check in was at 3. As we entered the building I was amazed, across from an impressive alcove area to the desk there ran a long arboretum type hallway. There were several trees that reached upward, tables, chairs and potted plants were expertly placed. It was beautiful.

 There was an old type popcorn machine there as well. I was in love. The lady at the desk went ahead and looked up our room, her questioning look gave me pause for concern. For some reason, the outfit I used to book this room, put us in a handicap room. ? My husband glanced at me, I assured him that no, I did not book a handicapped room. It was however, we were informed, the only room they had available and therefore ours. I watched as my husband in a confused manner, attempted to find if there was anything else, after listening for several minutes, I finally told him, that no, she had told him there was nothing else, if he wanted somewhere to sleep, it was that room, otherwise it was nothing. Fine, it was that room. I really think he was worried about keeping a room from someone who would need it, but, that was our room. We were given our keys and told how to get to the room. I drove around and parked. We grabbed our bags and headed for the sliding doors as instructed. Immediately turning left we made our way to our room, all the way at the far end of the hall. A hallway that was on one side, the rooms, on the other a privacy type plexiglass, fronted with chairs, tables and more potted plants.

 Going in to our room, it was as any other room only the bath had more rails and a chair to sit in the bath. The queen size bed was clean and comfortable. The television worked even though the channel selection was limited. We didn't plan on spending all of our time there anyway. 

Now that we were in and all our belongings in, we had to do what all redneck tourists do, we went to walmart. We picked up a few things we had forgotten, I bought some makeup because one look in that bathroom mirror showed that I had a look that the grim reeper would  be envious of. Leaving there we hit the local chicken establishment, sorry, but ours here is better. Then it was back to the room and rest up for the show later at 7:30.
 I did make one phone call once we arrived, hoping to hear from someone I knew was there. I was already anticipating what was to come.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bless God? Why?

1Peter 1:3-9

Have you ever been caught between two bears? What on earth, you ask..Today, our pastor shared this story about two hunters. They were going out hunting bear. Suddenly a bear appeared and in a panic they ran. One climbed a tree, the other ran in a cave. The bear not being too hungry decided to sit and wait them out. It watched the guy in the tree and then toward the cave. Suddenly the man in the cave ran out, stood there for a moment and then ran back into the cave. This happened several times before the man in the tree shouted down, "What are you doing? Stay int he cave the bear is still out here!" The other man shouted back, "There's a bear in the cave!!" Caught, between two bears. Some times, as Christians we feel as if we are caught between two bears. We must deal with the stresses of life, whether its from work or home, there is always something it seems tearing at us. Then there are those who are seeking to persecute  you for your faith. The best thing to do for that, is to live in a way that proves everything derogatory being said is proven untrue.
Why, should we bless God? Why should we feel joyful and praise Him?
1) We have a living hope (v3)
  *Motivated by His mercy. There is nothing we can do, to earn His mercy, it is given in His grace. (If we think we can earn it in some fashion, then we also think we can lose if if we fail to do what earned it) Once we experience God's gace and mercy, we can never lose it. We are held protected.
  *Delivered through His resurrection. Because Christ Jesus rose again, we will rise again. We need not fear death, it is a done deal that we will rise again, death is not the end, through death, we will be with Christ. Because He conquered death, we have that message of hope.
2) We have a permanent inheritance (v4-6) When we know Christ as Lord and Savior and have been born again into His kingdom.
  *Imperishable; the Prodigal Son squandered his inheritance. Our inheritance, that is our hope in Christ, can not be lost.
  *undefiled; the world is tarnished and defiled by sin. The inheritance of God's hope, is free of defilement of sin or even the possibility of there to be any sin.
  *unfading; earthly treasures decay, fade with time, losing their luster.  God's hope does not fade because it is kept for us in Heaven. ( Matthew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.)

3) We have a tested faith (v7-9) 
  Gold is a precious metal. To be cleansed of impurities it must be melted, where the impurities come to the top to be removed. Once cooled it is melted again and again, the impurities removed each time. Once all of the impurities are removed the reflection of the metal worker can be seen.
 The Christian faith is one where we are tested time and again to purify and strengthen our faith. Once purified, with all of the impurities removed we see the reflection and the revelation of Christ in us.
  *valuable; more precious than gold is what we have in Christ.
  *Revealing, our faith when pure, reveals the reflection of Christ in us.
  * Productive, brings us salvation, even when life is hard, we have  faith. When we totally surrender to Him, When we give in to His Lordship, totally surrendering to Him, giving Him everything.. we have, the living hope. We have the joy nothing else can give.
Thank you Pastor Sandy for this powerful message of truth..