Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Five

Last Sunday morning, we celebrated the Holy Trinity at St. John Wheaton. We didn’t say the Athanasian Creed, but we did get to have donuts after the service!

Following church, we hurried back to Combo Breaker. I had to take a picture in what I’m calling a “Sailor Moon Bound” Pinup Girl Clothing outfit with my Sailor Jupiter lanyard that Ryan bought for me before the trip:

And, as always, we had to get a family picture with the big Combo Breaker screen in the background:

We went for one last swim:

And then returned to Combo Breaker, to see the Guilty Gear final, which Bunny was very excited about:

We celebrated my 1st 39th birthday a few weeks early with my mom at the Schnitzel Platz, where I got to hear “Happy Birthday” played on cowbells after dinner!

Back at Pheasant Run, we visited the arcade one last time:

While we were doing that, Ryan received a medal for the third year running…this one was very special!

We saw some of the Dragon Ball top eight, but it was getting late, so we headed back to our room before the final. Turkey watched it on my phone while the rest of his siblings fell asleep watching…more Food Network!

That was (sadly) our last night at Pheasant Run, but we still had a few fun activities planned before we headed home on Monday!

Markel Family Winter Weekend Getaway–Day Three

Did I mention why we were in Chicagoland in the first place? Ryan was working at/playing in the Frosty Faustings fighting game tournament. We couldn’t get free spectator passes like we have in the past at Combo Breaker, so we didn’t get to see much of the event, but we did peek in on Saturday morning:

We had more plans for Saturday, starting with a visit to Wheaton College’s campus to see the Perry mastodon and the Billy Graham Center Museum, which included a walk through “heaven:”

We also enjoyed a lunch featuring some of Chicago’s best foods at Flip’s in Glen Ellyn:

It occurred to me last year that I had been remiss in not taking the Fab Five to the Popcorn Store in downtown Wheaton, so we visited what is probably Chicagoland’s narrowest store, and picked out about $10 worth of candy to share:

Then we went back to the hotel for a little more cable TV, and a nice picture of the Fab Five:

We went to church at St. John Wheaton for the third time, but this was the first time we were there in the evening:

After church, we enjoyed a German dinner at Schnitzel Platz:

Once we were back at the hotel, we stayed awake watching Worst Cooks in America for as long as we could since it was our last night in the hotel!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Three

We were up pretty early yet again (we really don’t sleep in on vacations) to attend the early service at St. John Wheaton. It felt a little more familiar than it did last year, but part of me is still shocked that they’re in a different building!

When we arrived back at Pheasant Run, we hurried over to the Mega Center to watch Ryan play in the Mystery Tournament top eight. He didn’t win his match, but he came home with a medal for the second year in a row!

After he was done running his bracket, Ryan took us to lunch at Portillo’s. I think we’ve decided that enjoying one meal there while we’re in Chicago is a must…fortunately, it’s not too expensive! I ordered the Italian beef dipped (of course!), and some of my children were adventurous enough to order a Chicago-style hot dog. It was a delicious meal!

After yet another swim, we checked back in with Combo Breaker. The farther you get into Sunday, the bigger the crowds are!

Another swim, another walk around the resort. There was a small art show in the normally blocked-off upstairs of Bourbon Street, so we took a walk though there, and enjoyed both the art and the unique view. We also stopped by the bonfire after it had been lit, which was especially nice because it was a fairly cool weekend up north.

One final visit to the Combo Breaker floor, to see a round of the Street Fighter top eight, which is the highlight of the weekend for many:

Of course we watched a little more cable TV back in our room (after I discovered that for some reason, I couldn’t get a signal for WGN and couldn’t watch the News at Nine). And we left the curtains open so we could enjoy a last evening look from our room, on the clearest night we experienced while we were there. The glow coming from downtown Chicago is unmistakable, and we even realized that we could see a few other unidentified skyscrapers by the Sears Tower!

Just one last day of family fun to go before we returned home!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Four

On day four of our weekend getaway, we started the day with church at St. John Wheaton. This is the church where I was baptized, confirmed, and married, but I had yet to see their new building. It was beautiful!



After church, we went back to the hotel to watch the end of Ryan’s Tekken Ball tournament, where he finished fifth. Not bad for his first tournament! And, because I’m me, I had to wear a Pinup Girl Jenny skirt while I was there!

We had time for one last swim in the pool, and another walk around Pheasant Run to again admire how beautiful it was. I’d love to go back someday…it was a great place to stay!


We went to dinner at Portillo’s, where, even though I enjoy a good Chicago-style hot dog, I had the Italian beef, and it was just as good as I remembered. We then went back to the hotel to enjoy a little more cable TV (including HGTV this time), while Ryan finished up at Combo Breaker.


Looking Forward, Looking Back

Today is a bittersweet day at the church in which I grew up, for this morning they are celebrating one last Divine Service in their current building, before observing the disposition of the Sanctuary, and then consecrating the Sanctuary in a new building later in the week.

Logically, I know this is a good thing. The larger worship space will allow the church to cut back on the number of services offered each Sunday, allowing more of the congregation to gather for worship at the same time. And while the building is changing, the congregation remains the same. The gathered faithful, the pastors and staff, they are still intact. Yes, there has been fluidity over the years–members, pastors, and staff alike have gone to their glory, or moved, or moved on, but the heart of the congregation, the commitment to the Gospel, remains the same.

Aesthetically, it’s also a good thing, a nice blending of the old, (in keeping and moving the stained glass from the old building), and the new, (such as a beautiful new font to remind members of their own baptisms, as well as for baptizing new believers). Practically, too, the change is beneficial–the church will now be able to hold pews with kneelers, which is a nice return to tradition, and kneeling will hopefully be seen as a meaningful addition to the worship service.

Most importantly, however, the Word and Sacrament will remain unchanged, regardless of where the worship is being held, (or even who the worshippers are!). The Word will be faithfully preached, albeit from a new pulpit, and the Sacraments will still be faithfully administered–again, from a new font and altar, but the Word needed remains the same, and the water and bread and wine will still be present, regardless of the location or the vessels.

My heart, on the other hand, struggles with this change. I was baptized in the old church; I was also confirmed and married there. I don’t think that many people can say that about one church anymore. So many memories from my childhood are tied up in that old building, as that is also where I attended school from grades pre-k through 8. Regular and holiday worship services, school opening and closing services, Christmas programs, weekly chapel services, my first Communion, Confirmation, 8th grade Graduation–these are all memories I cherish. I will always remember singing in the choir, playing handbells, and acolyting up in the front of that Sanctuary–my first introductions to serving in the church, even as a child.

Other memories, as I became an adult, are also intertwined with that church. VBS openings and closings, where I was finally a teacher. My father’s funeral service. The first Easter Vigil service I ever attended. More holidays and special services. My wedding rehearsal, and the next day, the wedding itself. Bringing my firstborn child to worship there for the very first time. These are also memories I hold close to my heart, and for which I thank God.

I am happy for the congregation that they are able to move forward into this new phase of the life of the church. I am thankful for the many members that gave of their time and money so generously, in order to glorify God and further fulfill the Great Commission. At the same time, I’m a little sad that I’ll never again worship in the church of my youth, that my children will never again have a chance to go back there and worship in the same pews as I did when I was their age, that the Word will no longer be preached from that old pulpit, and that the Sacraments will never again be administered from that font and altar.