“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.
Jesus has given me the greatest human beings to surround myself with, be encouraged by, fight in my corner, call me out, and pick me up when I fall! There is nothing but thanks in my heart for the people that love me every day. More importantly thanksgiving to Jesus for knowing me so well and giving me people that hold such purpose in my walk. It blows my mind how intricately involved the Lord is in the details of our hearts and lives.
I say all that to steer the joy of this post! As I woke up in Evanston, the realization that my brother Erik and my sister Ashley were on their way for a quick day trip to see me, lit up my heart. These are the moments that you don’t have words for, where love runs deeper than the separation between the natural togetherness. When reunions happen, there can sometimes be a pressure to make the outburst of excitement be more than it actual is! I am here to tell you that the deep sense of love that I have for seeing my brother cannot be faked. Every moment was cherished. Every word savored. Thanks Jesus!
We packed up our things and proceeded to the original Pancake House. Here, Ashley and Erik joined the party. Having grown up working in the breakfast industry, I wasn’t thrilled by my meal. It was delicious, but nothing overwhelming. After paying, we headed to Millennium Park to see the Bean, walked to H&M, where I realized for the umpteenth time in my life that nothing about me is “department store” size, and shortly thereafter, ventured north to enjoy the musical Million Dollar Quartet. For the record, wow! What a show! It is so enjoyable. Not to mention that seeing a matinee with the generation that claimed the songs of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash as their own, took us right into the origins of some of the best music America has ever produced. What a treat!
Following the show, we parted ways with Erik and Ashley, which was an easier goodbye than normal, knowing that I would be in their wedding in just two months. It is a huge blessing to share them with the Oklahoma Crew. There is importance in meeting the people that shape you and sharing your life’s testimony. The people that shape you can do a great job helping to explain your battle scars and seasons. I love my friends.
After scarfing down some Chicago Dogs, we packed up and headed to St. Louis. The Illinois highway is one of the most frequently traveled routes for me, over the past five years, since moving to Oklahoma City. It was here that the revelation hit me-in the midst of nostalgia and departures, processing things in your mind isn’t the same as receiving the belief in your heart. It was something I was feeling, and then Ryan turned on a sermon by Matt Chandler that gave the language. My heart was finally believing that there are huge things coming to my home in Oklahoma City. I am invested there.
First thing we did in St. Louis? Got some Ted Drewes. Ice cream is so good. Food is so good. Thank the Lord for delicious food, the ease of receiving it, and the freedom to pick what we do in America. We are blessed! Then through a series of events, we found ourselves enjoying two hotel rooms at the Drury Inn. The Lord provides in wild ways!
The hotel beds couldn’t have come in a more timely fashion. Much more rest than expected, and a great way to wake up in St. Louis for the first time! Better than that, we enjoyed breakfast at Cracker Barrel, which was delicious. The fuel needed for the adventure we were about to embark on next!
The City Museum. Imagine, you are living in a post apocalyptic society where one recycles everything, like in Mad Max, then combine it with the lost boys camp in the movie Hook, and the caves in which the Goonies ventured, and THAT is the City Museum. A living monument of St. Louis, that is continually being built. Multiple stories of jungle gyms, keepsakes from generations past, slides, and a huge ball pit! If I were president, I would run my campaign on the necessity of something similar to this amusement wonderland in every major city! It was cool to recognize that everything we were climbing on, into and around, was all imagined and designed to bring bewilderment and joy to people of all ages. My child’s heart was happy, but my adult body was not. Being 6’ 5” tall and 350 lbs of man doesn't translate well to tiny holes, but I did what I could. The only real battle wounds that accrued were from banging my knees on ten stories of slide. Growing older isn’t my favorite activity.
We followed up our play time with more pizza time! Imo’s pizza. Delicious! And we headed out to Lebanon, Missouri, to say hello to Ryan’s mom! When we arrived in Lebanon, only a couple of hours from St. Louis and our lunch at Imo’s, mom already had dinner ready! Food, as one of my love languages, is never something to pass up. So I dove in, head first, into some homemade goodness.
The group scattered for a little while. We gave each other space to decompress from our day and to do nothing important. It was needed. There is no doubt in our love for one another, but hours of van time can test that!
Coming back together, we decided to go rent a movie and enjoy it. The first and only movie time of the entire trip. Normally, our time together is going to enjoy movies! It was radical to see a shift of intentionality on this trip where we didn’t need to lean on movies to spend time together. We rented The Imitation Game. There was a deep stir in my heart while watching the film. If you haven’t seen it, I would highly suggest it. “Sometimes, it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” A portrayal of war torn England, overcoming adversity, and falling victim to a harsh earthly judgement. There are a lot of themes that stir compassionate hearts to prayer.
Following the film, we slept, knowing that the following day was the trip’s end.