Hello friends! Did you miss me as much as I missed you?
I can’t believe I went this long without posting, but I was out of town (Santa, please bring me a laptop!) and dealing with other pressing issues so I hope you have forgiven my absence. I missed sitting down every day and sharing heart and especially the feedback from my dear readers but was thrilled when I opened my inbox to discover that you have been reading and leaving me little notes and comments even while I’ve been gone. I love hearing from you.
My sister and I went on a road trip. Our decision spur of the moment and we left our children with our very capable husbands. We hit the highway last Wednesday and headed due north to visit the town of our misspent youth. We could hardly remember the last time we went as far as the grocery store alone together, so this trip was definitely way overdue. We debated a real early morning start for about a minute an a half, until we concluded we are not early morning start kind of people, so at 6:30 we stumbled away with our thermos of coffee and Kathy’s homemade banana chip muffins.
This is Kathy saying, “Really, you’re taking a picture of me in the car now? This isn’t going in your blog is it?” And I’m saying to her. “No. I’ll take a better picture of you later.” But I never did, because I was too relaxed and not blogging and having a good time, so I didn’t take lots of pictures. Here is my sister. She looks cute all the time anyway.
This is the beginning of our trip, driving through LA, where we expected to hit tons of commuter traffic because we were too lazy to leave earlier, but God smiled down upon us (or everyone else decided to stay home that day) and we sailed through The City of Angels and over the Grapevine, where we stopped at Starbucks (the first of many on this trip), before we headed up the Central Valley.
It was a balmy 102 degrees that first day and hovered around that mark for the next couple of days. There’s nothing like September in California!
Our family moved to the Golden State when I was 14, Kathy was 12 and our brother Karl was 16. Our dad was pastoring a church in Modesto, right in the heart of the Central Valley. It has been over 25 years since we lived in the Central Valley but it still holds a special place in my heart. The people who live there, live off the land – ranchers, farmers and cattlemen. They are straightforward people. If they like you, you’re family. If they don’t like you, God help you.
As you come over the Grapevine, the whole Central Valley spreads out before you, stretching in the distance as far as the eye can see. I love the beauty of the California landscape as rolling hills give way to the flat valley covered with endless varieties of vineyards, rows of corn, tall stalks of artichokes, fields of strawberries and garlic, orchards of apricots, almonds and pistachios and pastures of grazing cattle. These people make food for the world to eat.
As we drove through the valley, we were scanning through the radio stations and at one time we found no less than eight Christian radio stations in one location. They don’t call this the Bible belt for nothin’!
We finally arrived in Modesto and checked into our hotel room, where they gave us our warm chocolate chip cookies to welcome us. We put our feet up on the beds and now I’m going to tell on my sister. I saw it with my own two eyes. She ate that chocolate chip cookie. She got chocolate on her fingers and she wiped those dirty fingers on those clean, white sheets. Next time you are in a hotel room, think about that. My usually fastidious sister, who would have a fit if her own children did such a thing, was too lazy to get up and go to the sink to wash her hands, so she just dragged her greasy chocolatey fingers right across those crisp sheets and thought, “I’ll just sleep on the other side of the bed and let somebody else clean up my mess!”
Our trip to Modesto wasn’t all fun and games. Our parents were already there, working hard cleaning out the contents of a house and we had arrived to give them a hand. Let me tell you, our parents are in their seventies and they work harder and have more energy than most people half their age. I don’t know how they do it. Their daughters have a hard time keeping up with them. Between the working, we enjoyed eating out and reminiscing, thinking back on earlier years and some of the great friends we made way back when.
We were able to connect with a few old friends, some that we hadn’t seen since we were in our late teens. I don’t think any of us have aged a bit (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it!). We had a great time catching up, chatting about our families, our kids and life in general. Where have the years gone? Here we are with Stephanie and Lance Lemings and Cyndi Sordo McDaniel after a delicious Mexican meal.
The highlight of this trip was reconnecting with my sister. We have not spent a concentrated amount of time together like this since…I don’t remember when we last spent time together like this. When we were kids, I tormented her (yes – I have apologized – repeatedly!). When we were teenagers, we hung out together occasionally, but I was seventeen when I left home to go to college and nineteen (gulp!) when I left home for good and got married. Family, children, husbands, households and life, have kept us pretty busy and when we have been together there has usually been someone else along for the ride.
This time it was just the two of us, alone in the car, driving through the beautiful California landscape with all the time in the world to talk, to laugh and to just be together. We watched a lame movie in the hotel room, ate beef at Harris Ranch,
stopped to pick “fresh from the farm” produce on the way home and had a real “Jesus Take the Wheel” moment that kept us laughing for a good 45 minutes – actually, we’re still laughing about it.
I knew this before but I discovered it all over again. There is nothing like a sister – someone who has known you forever – who knows the good, the bad and the ugly and loves you in spite of, or because of it. Someone who you can call in the middle of the day or the middle of the night, who will recognize your voice even when you are a sobbing, blubbering mess. Someone who thinks of the same stupid 70’s songs at the same time you do. Someone who your kids can go to when they don’t want to talk to mom.
I have been blessed with an incredible sister and even thought I missed writing my little posts, I wouldn’t trade my time away for anything! I did learn one more important lesson. Kathy is really bossy and thinks she knows everything, but I can love her enough to nod and agree.
I must be the best sister ever!