We have been wanting to get back to Virginia for a while now, to visit Justin's brother (Levi), cousins and his grandparents. We hadn't been there since Christmas 2009 - remember when I biffed it on the ice while "walking The Gauntlet"? Justin's family had mentioned a few times about their plans to head to VA, but we didn't really know what was up until about a week before the trip. Thankfully, Justin and I were able to get off work, but we had trouble finding dog-sitters.. So, the pups came along too! Unfortunately for me, I had thee worst sinus infection and I was so uncomfortably sick. Buh. Typical.
Pretty much every time we've made the drive, it's been roughly 6-7 hours. This time? Try 8-9. Nasty traffic and a nice little detour definitely added the exhaustion to the trip. Romeo & Coco did pretty well in the car too.. Of course, they were happiest when they were snuggled up on my lap.
We made it in a day before everyone else. Thanks to Levi, we were able to stay in his little apartment - Tiny little space, but of course it was entertaining with all of his siblings. Weather didn't get bad until later that afternoon.. Poor Caleb, Micah & Melissa! Once they arrived, we hung out for a little bit. Everyone adored Coco! That night, we had dinner over at his grandparents house. Justin's grandpa hasn't been doing so well - lot's of surgeries and some bad health. It was so good to see them and catch up!
The next morning, we headed to Levi's church. He had warned us that it was pretty charismatic, but the few times I have been to charismatic churches, I don't think I've exactly been "prepared". Our whole family + Melissa (10 total) filed into an entire row just as it was beginning. I have already experienced some crazy happenings at church -- Just a few..
- The time there was a couple groping each other 2 rows ahead of us, during worship/singing. They sang into each other's faces and wouldn't let go (Later, we found out they were newlyweds, but c'mon people, in church?!)
- The time a strange, 15ish year old boy and his mom (we think) were sitting directly in front of us. The kid tugged on his mom's earlobes the entire service. Aside from the tugging, he would poke her, touch her neck and giggle. I swear, the distraction that came with that one, was unreal. We honestly could not understand the dynamics occurring in whatever kind of family that was
- The few times we realized we were sitting right next to the handicapped girl (bless her heart!) who loves to screech/sing at the top of her lungs, no matter what it sounds like
- The time some obnoxious girl sitting behind me snapped her gum every 3 seconds, from beginning to end of the service. Are you kidding me right now?
So, knowing his church was on the "charismatic side", I did my best to prepare myself. My whole life, I was raised in a pretty conservative/contemporary church setting - no traditional repetition, pretty calm and easy-going. North Hills (where we go now) is not considered "charismatic" (Er..unless you go to Bob Jones!) but is pretty similar to the way I was raised. I love it. Understand me, people.. I definitely don't have anything against energetic worship - I definitely lack appreciation though, when it becomes people putting on a big show and are a complete distraction to others.
I think I realized it the moment we filed into our row. I could hear a girl standing directly behind me, and she was singing..and I mean, loud. Ehh.. annoying, but no worries. I did my best to tune her and all of her Christina-Aguilera-wannabe-voice-sliding, but she kept it coming. I tried to stay focused as my attention was drawn to the front, near the stage, where a very awkward - very uncoordinated - very sweaty Manboy was twirling and flailing about. The chest and pits of his t-shirt were soaked and aside from desperately needing a haircut, he was moving his body in ways I have never seen before. It was like a weird art show. If tie-dye was a person, it would be Manboy. In between verses and songs, he would skip-run down the aisle and (I'm assuming) water up before swiftly running back to the front to flail through the next one. Props to him for worshiping and praising God with no reservations, but holy canotes, seeing it all happen was just plain entertaining.
To our right - in front of the other half of the family - was a Bob-Saget-looking-man who continuously waved his arms all over the place. He was definitely into it, severely off-beat clapping and randomly shouting, "GRACE GRACE GRACE.. JESUS JESUS JESUS.." Huuuuh??? Again. Good for you man, letting it all out and praising God with excitement. In fact, Bob almost punted me in the face with his clap-happy hands as we arrived and were walking to our seats.. Thank goodness I was quick enough to duck, or that could have been awkward.
Aside from from Manboy getting his dance on up in the front and Bob Saget rocking out, the flag-lady took her place, as well as some emotional canvas-painting.
Before long, Loud Girl - who's speaking voice literally sounded like Hilary Duff in her days on the Disney Channel - began to chant and speak in tongues. Honestly, I'm not used to it, but didn't bother me. Yes, it was distracting, but oh well. It was once the speaker began talking, that things grew funky. Loud Girl stayed pretty engaged in service, as she was extremely responsive to everything the speaker was saying. Like any speaker in front of a room of people, he was speaking to the congregation. She was responding out loud, as if it was a one-on-one conversation. And not just loud, but in a cheesy-valley girl-voice. He began elaborating on some mission work/opportunities, and all we could hear was Loud Girl consistently responding, "Awwww!! Awesommmmme!" Not only was she responding SO loud, she was saying things in almost (no joke) a sexual way. He continued speaking about his mission-work, in which she said. "Ahhh!! Yeyah!!" and "Holla!" and "Sooooo gooooooood.." There were a few "A-MEN!"'s in there, along with "Mmmm.." and "YESSS!!" with another "Soo gooood.." and some cheesy laughter. I get the excitement, but I don't get why it has to be done in that way. It was quite uncomfortable, especially sitting between my husband and my father in law, and Justin's little sister just one seat over. We definitely enjoyed the rest of the weekend, quoting Loud Girl and occasionally saying, "Soooo goooood.. Holla!!" Pff.
After we arranged a sandwich buffet for ourselves, everyone literally passed out. Sunday naps are the best, huh? Levi and a few of us made some attempts at "creating a song" with all of his sound-mixing programs and 'big beats', which turned out pretty cool. Despite how tired and sick I was still feeling, I couldn't seem to share a couch with my tired hubby.. One of the most uncomfortable positions ever. Ha.
Later that evening, we hung out and had dinner with Justin's cousins. More time with his grandparents too.. including lots of old stories about when they were dating and first married. I so cherish those moments, and I can't begin to tell you how much I miss my grandparents who have passed away.
Alyssa kept telling me how she planned to "kidnap Coco".. They were attached the entire weekend!
The next morning, we packed up and hung out for our last little while before hitting the road again. Lukus has been contemplating a relocation to Virginia, to hopefully find some new job opportunities and try something new.. He had been back and forth about reasons why to just stay in VA or not to stay, so for fun, we helped him make a little Pro's & Con's List.. Ha!
Finally back on the road.. We made a little "fort" for Rome & Cokes in the back, but of course it wasn't good enough.. They loved sitting in the front!
Saw these trees at one of our stops.. One of my favorite trees during springtime!!