For those looking for the rest of the St. Paul/Guy Penrod series...I'm taking a brief blog break this week, but will continue (and someday finish! :)) the series after the break. Please check back Saturday! Thanks!
Note: This is part 2 of a multi-part series on our trip to Minnesota to see Guy Penrod in concert last month. For part 1, please click here.
Back in March, Jodie posted this status on Facebook:
I just called John and said, "Did you know it is only 12 hours to St. Paul, MN?" He started laughing. Really? What's so funny about that? :)
It would take a book to tell all the backstory, from the concert in Lavaca in August 2011 until that status on March 20. Suffice it to say that Jodie had been to three other concerts in the interim, all around 6 hours away, and all totally on the spur of the moment. Her husband and daughters had gone to the last one, earlier in March, with her. Mr. John's comment on the trip was: "...I did find Mr. Penrod's singing and preaching worthy of a weekend." Those of us who went to concerts with her were realizing the truth in what she kept saying, that it wasn't just the voice, or the music, or even the hair...it was his genuineness and a seemingly very real and open heart for God. Guy left the Gaither Vocal Band in 2009 because there were things that he wanted to be able to share that he couldn't share in the setting of a Vocal Band concert. Those who come away from his concerts talk frequently about his "preaching" and how much it blesses them. (More on that later...) God had blessed Jodie greatly through Guy's ministry, and her heart was to pass that blessing on to others.
When I saw that status about St. Paul, I laughed, too...but with a tiny bit of "I can't wait to see what happens now..." added in. Jodie's "limit" for these road trips was 6 hours, she said often, but I knew her well enough to know that she was seriously tempted by this one. This concert was special...our new friend Heidi, who had discovered my blog through a Google search on Guy Penrod, was the promoter, and this concert was a huge answer to prayer for her. She had never "done" a concert before, and her story about how this one came to be is goosebump-inducing. (That will be another installment, so keep an eye out!)
On April 9, Heidi posted on Jodie's Facebook wall asking if she planned to come to the concert. I laughingly replied that I was trying to talk her in to expanding her limit, and that I might just stow away in her trunk. I knew that such a trip would never happen, but it was a fun thought.
One thing I should have learned over the years...never say never with Jodie around! I've called her the "Queen of Plans" for many years, but she outdid herself this time. After Bayley's birthday concert last year, Emlyn and Ammah Grace had become "Guy fans", too. Jodie decided that her early birthday present to all three girls...and their mom!...this year would be a Guy Penrod concert...but this time in St. Paul!
We decided not to tell the girls until a few days before, for two reasons. One, we've learned that life is nothing if not unpredictable, and we didn't want the girls to be disappointed if something happened and the trip fell through. And two, Jodie very thoughtfully didn't want me to have to deal with the daily and then hourly "How long is it till we go to Minnesota????" questions and over-excited girls for over a month. Not to mention the fact that Jodie was having way too much fun planning the "surprise reveal".
In the meantime, I was trying not to let myself get too excited, either. These last few months have been more than a little stressful, with one of our children being diagnosed with epilepsy and all that has come with that. The anticipation of this trip was such a huge "bright spot" during some dark days. I took to calling Jodie the "concert fairy". :) I was also excited about Billy and Peter having a fun "guys weekend", which would be a special treat for the non-Guy fans in the family.:) I was very aware that there were all kinds of things that could happen to cancel the trip; however, as much as I tried not to get too excited, I just couldn't help it. The closer we came to May 19...our departure date...the more intense my excitement...and Jodie's...became. (I was so excited I almost let the cat out of the bag to the girls more than once, but I managed some good saves. :))
Finally the day came for the "big reveal". Jodie had planned every detail to perfection. As often happens with the best-laid plans, though, there were a few glitches along the way. The girls were still incredibly surprised and excited, and that was the important thing. :)
|Reading their birthday cards with the concert tickets inside :)|
|The girls asked Guy to sign their cards. I think he got a kick out of being part of a card with Grover. :)|
|Emlyn is a little excited! (Not sure why this picture is distorted here...ugh!)|
|Ammah Grace is pretty excited, too!|
|Cool map table decorations...Mrs. Jodie thought of everything. :)|
|Yummy and adorable "road trip" cookies from Paul's Bakery.|
|"We're going to see Guy Penrod!!!!"|
|Bayley got to the party a little late.|
|Realization hits. :)|
|Wishing I had one of these right now! Although they were almost too cute to eat. :)|
Once the girls knew, it finally began to seem real. Well, more real, anyway. We still kept thinking it wouldn't really happen. Until we piled into the car Saturday morning....
(Check back tomorrow to follow our adventures on Day 1 of our trip...:))
|Guy Penrod Concert, St. Paul, MN, May 20, 2012|
Three weeks ago exactly, as I begin this post, I was sitting in a hailstorm in Burnsville, Minnesota, with my friend Jodie and my three girls. Somehow in the 1200 photos I took on our almost-66 hour whirlwind trip, I neglected to get a photo of the monsoon-type rain we encountered as we entered the Twin Cities Metro area, or of the hail that pelted us as we sat less than an hour away from our hotel. Never, we thought, had the expression "so close, and yet so far" been so true.
|Entering the Twin Cities area on a rainy Saturday night...not sure if this was before or after the downpour/hailstorm.|
It's hard to believe it's been three weeks. In some ways, it seems like just yesterday, and in others, it seems like it's been years! And in still yet others, it seems like a dream...as Jodie and I occasionally still say, "Do you believe we really did that??"
All the way home that Monday, I anticipated the blog series I was going to post. I couldn't WAIT to get home and start uploading and editing photos, and typing the story of our amazing weekend. But the emotional and physical intensity of the trip hit hard, and between trying to catch up from three days away and the rest my body demanded at that point, there was little time or energy left for blogging. It took over a week to even get all 1200 photos uploaded to my hard drive, convert from RAW to jpg, and get the best of the bunch edited. During that time, VBS and camp preparations also began to take over all of life, as they seem to do this time every year.
So it's been three weeks, we are on the verge of camp and VBS, and I still haven't posted about our amazingly marvelous weekend. I am determined to at least get started this weekend, so without further ado...
"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start..."
(in the words sung by Maria in The Sound of Music. :))
I think that has been part of the difficulty in posting as well. There is SO much to tell from that full-to-the-brim three-day weekend that I had a hard time knowing where to begin. But I suppose that I need to go back to last August to really tell the story right...or perhaps even the preceding winter...
That winter, my friend Jodie was unexpectedly given tickets to see a southern gospel concert in a nearby town. One of the singers was Guy Penrod, a singer my friend was somewhat familiar with due to his time with the Gaither Vocal Band, and the fact that her mother would mention him to her every so often, telling her, "he has 8 children, and he homeschools!" More of the story of that concert, and what came after, can be found here.
Guy's message, in word and in song, ministered to my friend in a special way during an extremely difficult season in her life...the years in which she was the primary caretaker for her mother-in-law, who suffered from dementia. After watching Mrs. Jodie's "The Best of Guy Penrod" dvd, Bayley became a "fan" as well. When Jodie discovered that Guy was going to be in concert at FBC, Lavaca, on the weekend of Bayley's birthday last year, she decided that would be an excellent birthday present! Bayley was thrilled with her big surprise, and we all had a wonderful time at the concert, which was like a worship service and concert rolled into one.
|Bayley discovering her birthday surprise last August|
After the concert, I blogged here about Bayley's wonderful birthday surprise and what a huge blessing the concert was to those of us who went. Despite the fact that concert photography is extremely challenging, and I had neither the equipment nor the skill to do it well, I took a ton of photos.
|Guy Penrod Concert, Lavaca, AR, August 2011|
According to my blog stats, that post gets more hits than almost any other on my blog. One day, however, I noticed it was getting LOTS of hits, from the same two referring URLs. I called Jodie and said, "I'm getting a whole lot of hits on that Guy Penrod post from the Guy Penrod Facebook page and this other website." "This other website" ended up being a group of Guy Penrod fans. We began exploring the site and discovered that the group's head, Heidi, had run across my blog in a Google search and posted the link to the birthday/concert post on both sites. Little did we know....
(Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 to hear how a "random" blog hit from a Google search morphed into a 15-hour trip across four states for Jodie and the girls and me...:))