Imagine Dragons Road Trip

Holy.Cow.

First let me tell you…I totally bought tickets for me and my daughters (my daughter and me…geez I suck at grammar) back in May to go to this concert.  I even left a track meet to get home and purchase tickets online.  That is how much I REALLY wanted to get tickets for us.  Sad…this is what my life has come to.

So, I went on to booking.com and got a hotel room.  Can I tell you how much I love booking.com?  Now, I don’t get anything from them (though if booking.com wants to come knocking…here I am!)  I was able to get a really nice hotel room at the Best Western in Oakdale, Mn which was only a little bit away from where the concert was going to be at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium.  Booking.com had the best prices AND the best thing…totally the selling point for my family of 6, I only needed to have a credit card on file but they DON’T put a hold on your card.  For a woman who doesn’t have credit cards and only debit, this is huge.  It can cause such an issue when you are booking in advance and there is $200 missing from your checking account.  And when you are on a tight budget, then this can also be a hindrance.  Not anymore.  Super excited that they offer this service.  I booked three weeks in advance.  Score!  Okay, enough loving on booking.com.

My daughters and I got on the road…late.  Sigh.  Story of my life.  We meant to leave at 9 a.m. but 3 hours later we headed out-of-town.  The trip was not too bad.  Where we live to the cities is about a 6 hour drive.  Yes, I live in Mn but we live right under Canada so the Cities are quite a drive away.  The trip was gorgeous.  There is nothing like Minnesota in the fall…no matter how short it is.  And sometimes it can be painfully short.  There is a beautiful ombre that happens with the trees.  Shifts of red, orange, yellow and green…just fabulous.  Pumpkins lining the highway for sale…and the farmer (God made a farmer) plowing and harvesting his fields.

The hotel was super nice.  Loved the interior.  I was kind of disappointed it didn’t have a pool, but it did have a large spa and workout room.  I am sure if I look I will see the they never mentioned a pool and I just assumed it did.  The rooms at Best Western were nice.  We chose a Junior Suite with a king sized bed and a pull out couch.  Plenty of room for me and my two girls.

My oldest had to do her live lessons so my other daughter and I inadvertently got lost.  Seriously.  My GPS on my phone hates me.  No joke.  I wanted to go to Target and so I put that into my phone.  Gentle reader, I AM NOT FROM MINNESOTA!  I have been to the Cities once by myself…and THAT was Minneapolis.  I don’t know the Cities at all.   Oh my word…let the madness ensue.  So…we get on the road.  My 11-year-old is my navigator.  And we’re driving and have no CLUE where we are going.  Because we keep passing these Targets on the way.  What-in-the-hell is going on?  Where are we going???  The cuss words start flying.  I suck.  Literally, I wound up driving in circles in some neighborhood in St. Paul.

So, then I realized that I originally put in the address for St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Note:  I stopped that destination…and put in the Target destination.  Ahahahaha…stupid technology.  Stupid woman for trusting stupid technology.   So needless to say, we found our way to the cathedral but never did make it to Target.  So we turned around and went to pick up my oldest.  Hahahaha!

St. Paul’s Cathedral is Free…the parking ticket not so much:

Can I just say I hate the parking situation in St. Paul.  There are so many dang signs of where you can park, where you cannot park…when you can park and when you cannot.  OH.MY.WORD.  I read the sign…well, I thought I read the sign.  The $36 dollar parking ticket tells me no, no I did not read the sign properly.  I parked like 20 feet from where I was supposed to.  Literally I was just inches from where I supposed to be.  Isn’t that the way it goes?

St. Paul’s Cathedral is wonderful.  Absolutely beautiful.  Stunning.  Sad.  It literally broke my heart…and Gentle Reader if you knew me, you would know I am Catholic.  I am also a believer in Jesus Christ.  I am not nor have I ever been a believer in the Church.  Any Church.  GASP! Sacrilege!   To me St. Paul’s was more about the power and majesty of the church than it was about the mighty love of Jesus Christ.   I was also struck by the influence of the Roman culture in our churches.  Statues to the 4 writers of the Gospel.  Statues to the Patron Saints of the Nations.  Lots of pomp and circumstance.  Lots of GIANT polished stone and gilt and cold…oh so cold.  Please do not get me wrong Gentle Reader.  I was awed.  My girls were awed.  But I don’t ever want them to think that the Church is more important than what Christ did for us on the Cross.  What GOD did for us by sending His Son.  Okay, enough preaching from me.

Getting Lost.  Again.:

So, we got lost again.  And i paid $5 for a parking spot we did not even stay in.  St. Paul had some work going on downtown and my STUPID GPS kept taking us in circles, so I decide, in my inherent wisdom to just pick a parking and go for it.  I mean, how far could it be, right?  Anyway, we walk…and walk…and walk…

Finally, we go into the Crown Plaza and look at this huge interactive map they have.  This really nice concierge named Neal, gave us a map and we were back on our way…to get our car so we could get closer to where we wanted to be.  I don’t think we wanted to walk 13 blocks back to our vehicle at night, in a city where we are unfamiliar!   ACK!

Following a real map, we found our location…even if we had to go in circles a few times (Yes, we did!)…and even more amusing…we ended up so close to the cathedral, it was almost comical…if I hadn’t been cussing like a trucker who has been on the road for 36 hours straight.

$80 Dollars later:

Do you ever feel like that dude in the Geico commercial who is riding the motorcycle with Dolla-dolla bills just flying off of him?  That was me.  I felt like that dude after the ticket, paying for parking twice AND buying shirts at the concert for $35 a piece.  Sigh.  But my girls were happy.  The shirts I purchased for them from Maurice’s ($42) went straight off in the bathroom and on came the new shirts.  Double sigh.  Cha-ching!

We came, We sang, We bounced:

Imagine Dragons are good.  And I mean, like…so amazingly good it’s unreal!  If you like them…you will love their live performance.  Their percussion and guitars and vocals and VIOLIN playing is just unreal.  It was so worth it!  Loved every single minute of it.  And the lead singer of the band is so humble…just unreal.  Super amazing.  You should catch them if you get a chance!

The funniest thing happened after the concert.  My girls danced and sang and rocked out so hard.  I bounced in my seat (I am a MOM after all…some decorum is warranted) and sang and loved watching my girls have the time of their lives.  What really struck me is how diverse the crowd was.  There were a lot of college students, but there were a lot of 40 to even 50 year olds and then ‘tweens and kids in the venue.  This older guy tapped my girl on the shoulder and said, “Best night of your life?”  And she had this biggest smile on her face and said, “Oh yeah!”  He then smiled at me and I smiled back at him.  He nodded his head in my girls’ direction and said, “You’re doing it right.”  I laughed and felt good about that.  Yeah, I am doing it right.

This is an experience that my girls and I will always remember.  There  were moments of frustration…but there were also moments of sheer fun.  Funny little inside jokes that my husband and my other kids won’t get because they just were not there.  Did it cost more than I expected…oh yeah.  Were the rewards more than I expected…oh yeah.  Would I do it all again…oh yeah!  But next time…I will have a map on hand, and use my map skills the old fashioned way.

Stupid phone GPS.  😉

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Rebellious Teen Me

God was speaking to me all those years ago.  Sigh, gentle reader, sigh.  I wish I had listened back then.  It has come upon me, this dawning realization, that He sent people in my path when I was a teen because He wanted a relationship with me.  I was too proud, too different, too selfish in my own way to listen.  I see that now.   How my elder years have shed light on how I was then.

I am not proud of the teen me.  I would have told my own daughter to stay away from the teen me.  Oh, I was a hard working 4pointO G.P.A type student.  I started working at 15.  But I drank.  I smoked.  I lied to my parents about what I did…but I was always at home on time for my curfew.  As long as I could walk through the door soberly…I was a “good” kid.  I seriously don’t think my parents even knew what a shyster I really was.  My mom may have had an inkling, but she never would be able to grasp the whole truth of it.

God was trying to reach me through a friend named Nina.  Nina was a good Christian girl and invited me to youth group at her Church.  I am Catholic and never went to youth group.  I am sure there was a youth group at my church but I wasn’t part of “that group” at school.  Surprisingly, a lot of the Catholic kids were extremely popular, very cliquey and were worse behaved than me.  If I had gone to the Catholic youth group I would have been ostracized.

I went pretty regularly with Nina to her church’s youth group.  But I never listened to the message.  I had a crush on Nina’s older brother’s best friend.  I was more interested in appearing interesting to him and trying to say something witty when he spoke to me.  Funny, now gentle reader…I cannot even remember his name.  Ah youth…how you fade with time.  Eventually, Nina and I went our separate ways.  She became too “faith filled” (read gentle reader: I thought she was a goody two shoes and she thought I was a tart) for rebellious teen me and I hated everything.

Enter in Johanna.  We sang together in choir.  Again, I am sure God prompted her to ask me to go with her to her Christian church where everyone spoke Spanish and I was the only Hispanic there who did not.  I only went a few times because I did not fit.  I couldn’t speak the language and I didn’t understand in my heart what was being shown to me.  Oh Lord, how I wish I could back and enjoy worship with her now.  It would have been amazing!  I am pretty sure me and some of the other girls in our choir were pretty bad for Johanna since we were “bad” kids who drank, smoke and partyied with one another.  We were definitely a bad influence on her for a time being.  God pulled her back into his fold and we were left on the curb.  She stayed in choir and I left because I didn’t like the choir teacher.  He gave me the heeby-jeebies.  Gross man.

A few days ago it occurred to me that God had been trying to woo me into his fold too.  He was showing me a different way to worship.  He was trying to tell me I was loved and beautiful.  But I believed the lies of the deciever that I was ugly and unworthy of love.  I had the mentality that I was going to do it to the other person before they had the chance to do it to me!  So, there!  HA!

I am so glad for the saving Grace of our Savior.  And I know now, that I have grown in my faith and can allow my Lord and Savior to love me as I am, as broken and imperfect as I am, that He was trying to reach me even then.  I was too blind to see and too wrapped up in my adolescent self to actually pay attention.

I pray my own daughters will see God’s love.  That they learn, through my own faith walk, that God knows them…the very heart of them…and finds it oh-so-lovely…warts and all.  He loved me even then.  And He loves me now.  He will love me in the future.

THAT is so something to look forward to.

A Mother’s Disappointment and Love

I wish I could say I should have seen this coming…but honestly, I thought my daughter would be more responsible.

I have a 12 year old daughter.  She is beautiful.  She is talented.  She is smart…and maybe not so smart after all.

Her school allowed her (without my permission) to have an email address.  I found out about this after she blurted out that she had to email her teacher a report for her keyboarding class.  I was not comfortable with her having an email address that I did not know anything about.  I checked up on her regularly…but nothing seemed amiss…

Flash forward a few months.  She and a neighbor boy are getting chummy.  She is 12 and we have strict rules!  I found emails between her and the boy where they are professing their love for one another.  Now…she is 12.  What does she know of love?  Not a damn thing.  And there in lies one of the main issues.  This is more than likely just a crush for her.  She’s known this boy for 2 years and they have been involved in many of the same activities.  Not an issue.  We know his parents…and we basically have the same values…  What happens when she no longer has a crush on him?

The second issue…is that she hid her emails between the two of them.  After I had already gone through her emails.  She moved them into another folder.  Well…the girl failed to realize when she left her iPod (which she is supposed to do) that when he emailed her at school that I would see it.  I was shocked.  I was upset.  I wanted to rage.

Then calm took over.  This is a very tricky walk for both me and my husband.  We can’t tell her NOT to hang out with this boy…he is her friend.  BUT…we can limit what kind of contact they have when they are around us.  No hand holding, no hugging, no kissing.  They are NOT boyfriend and girlfriend.  They cannot sit on the couch together unless they have two of our other kids in between them!  They are very good friends…and that is where it will stay until we say (or they grow out of it) otherwise.

I then flash back to my 12 year old self.  Did I hide things from my parents?  Heck yeah, I did!  I had already smoked my first cigarettes and got drunk for the first time by the time I was 12.  I was not a very good kid even though I got good grades and listened to my parents.  I had horrible influences from my brother and sister who were older than me…which is no excuse.  I failed them and me and God when I was that age.  Heck, I continued to fail them and God and me until I was in my 20’s.  I guess my child is so much better off than I was.

I do not want my daughter to be stuck in a “relationship” with a boy in the future because she said things she should not have said because she felt she had to say them so she wouldn’t make him “feel” bad.  What a horrible precedent to set!  Can you imagine all the relationships after that???  This sends a big message to me and her father that we really need to discuss with her what healthy relationships are…and what are not.

I will be looking for a co-dependency book for teens for my daughter so she can realize and recognize both good and bad relationship behaviors.  Ephesians 5:3,6-7 says:

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

“Let no one decieve you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (7) Therefore do not be partners with them.”

We want our daughter to stay as innocent as possible without being naive. How entirely impossible is that request?  We don’t want her hurt…nor do we want her to hurt others through her youth…because she does not know any better.  In these times of change and challenge, we cling tighter to the Lord our God and to one another so we can be each other’s fortress in the storm.

My daughter knew she had done wrong.  By keeping the relationship secret…and by hiding her emails.  So…not only is her email gone but her iPod is also gone.  She is not allowed to go on the internet without our knowledge…and to say my trust in her is a little shaky…well, that would be true.  She’s 12.  And she’s young…and she’s stupid.

I pray we can continue to talk with her about these things so she can grow and have healthy relationships through her life…

I thank my Father God for showing me patience and giving me peace.  Through Him ALL things ARE possible.