And now for the rest of the story…
I’m not by nature an adventurous person. I rarely fly by myself. Flight times and layovers in big airports make my stomach twist up in knots. I’m never sure which arm rest belongs to me, and I always feel very self conscience eating food when people are sitting close enough to me to hear me chew. So you can imagine it would take a lot to entice me into flying across the country, by myself, and leave my family for 6 days and nights.
Over the years, through blogging on Xanga, I have had the pleasure to get to know the most amazing group of women. They have each become so dear to me. I have watched their families grow and change, laughed at their stories, mourned for their losses, been inspired by their creativity, encouraged by their kindness… I knew so much about them but I had never seen them face to face or heard the sound of their voices. So when I got an email inviting me to meet up with these amazing women and spend a weekend with them, well I jumped at the chance.
My sweet friend Thelma kindly offered to pick me up at the airport. I couldn’t wait to get off the plane and see her. I wish I would have taken a picture of her as she came towards that night in the baggage claim. She looked darling in her sweater, her converse tennis shoes and a big grin on her face. We hugged like old friends. The plan was to drive to our friend Cindy’s house, stay the night, and leave the next morning to drive into Ohio where we were all meeting up for the weekend.
It had been a long day by the time I arrived at Cindy’s that night. The moment I walked into the door I was greeted by a smiling Cindy who grabbed me and hugged me. Her home was warm, inviting and immediately made me feel welcome and at ease. She has a way of making people feel at ease, when you are with her you find yourself smiling a lot.
We laughed a little when we realized we would be sharing a bed that night. Thelma joked that that we were going to get to know each other real well, real fast!
We both slept well and woke up the the most beautiful breakfast. Cindy had prepared egg casserole, fruit salad, coffee cake and a bowl full of perfect red raspberries.
And just when I thought that the morning couldn’t get any better, more friends began to arrive. Our friends Rachel and Gloria were coming along for the road trip too!
Here we are all set to head for Ohio (we were leaving from Pennsylvania). That is Cindy in the driver seat, Gloria in the passenger seat, Rachel is sitting behind Cindy and Thelma is sitting behind Gloria.
This is the picture of Cindy’s beautiful home. The history behind this house is just amazing. When I got home I told the boys “I slept in a house that has been around since the civil war! Union soldiers stayed in that house as they were traveling through the area.” They were impressed!
We arrived that evening at Katie’s Guest House. Ladies began pouring in, everyone was laughing, hugging, and talking. Woman came from all over the states and even as far as Canada. We stayed up so late every night talking and woke up each morning to the sound of woman’s voices and delicious breakfast.
After we left we stopped off at a local store to by some late night snacks. I had Thelma take a picture of me in the snow. I can count on one hand the number of times I have stood in falling snow. It was a real treat for this California girls
One of the days we had a fun fashion competition. We were all split up into groups and in each group there was one model. Each group had one afternoon to go shopping and pick out an outfit for the model to wear. Later that night we would take turns modeling our outfits for the whole group and then everyone would vote for a winner. There were cash prizes involved so the competition got a little heated. Just kidding, it was all in good fun.
The following pictures were all taken by my friend Thelma which is why they all look so good.
Another picture of my friend Cindy (that’s her on the right). I wish I had the words to express how much she blessed my heart. She has the gift of encouragement, when she listens she really hears your heart, and I have carried her words with me ever since.
And here I am modeling my outfit with my amazing group of fashion consultants. I had so much fum with them! We started our shopping trip off right with at trip to Chipotle for burritos and rootbeer. From L to R it’s Clarita and Thelma (the two adorable pregnant ladies), me, Beth and Beth. Both Beth’s have last names that begin with G, so I will call them Short Beth and Tall Beth. Short Beth has a sense of humor that will have you laughing until your sides ache! She is smart, capable, down-to-earth and did I mention funny? And Tall Beth is lovely in every single way. She is so very smart, capable and kind. She also has a wonderful dry sense of humor,… I just couldn’t get enough of her
Thelma snapped this picture of me goofing off in my new “too-cool-for-school” aviator glasses.
I could write pages and pages about everyone of the women I had the privilege to spend time with. Each one of them beautiful, inspiring, strong, full of wisdom and strength. I felt like I was full to the brim. All of them sharing their hopes and fears, each of us looking into our each others’ faces and seeing ourselves. I kept thinking I needed more time, I wanted to know them all better. But the weekend was coming to and end and we were all headed off in our different directions.
Fortunately I had extra time with my traveling companions. We drove back to Pennsylvania on Sunday and I stayed the night at Thelma’s house. I loved being able to see her darling house, met her husband and her sweet daughter Abbi. I slept in their comfy quest bedroom and awoke to the most amazing doughnuts! Afterwards we drove to Rachel’s house to spend the morning with her.
This is my dear friend Rachel! Rachel was one of the first people I met on Xanga (other than people I knew in real life). I came across her blog and instantly fell in love with her. At first I loved looking at her dreamy photography, and I was always inspired by her decorating style and creativity, but it was her words and spirit that kept me coming back for more. I’m sure I will embarrass her terribly by saying this, but she truly has the heart of a woman who seeks God. She is not perfect but she is running a good race, and she is running it with her whole heart and soul and she inspires me to do the same. For so long I have wanted to meet her face to face, it really was a dream come true. And I got a tour of her charming house!
And this is the one-and-only Thelma! Man I love this girl. She has a great smile and an amazing laugh (although she claims it’s very ordinary, I would beg to differ). She has a face that lights up a room. Under that sweet, happy exterior is the heart of a strong woman. I love her spunk and creativity. I love her sarcastic sense of humor, and it kills me that we live hundreds of miles away from each other. But at least I got to spend 6 glorious days with her, and I will forever remember her as the person who first introduced me to tomato pie!
As I am sitting here typing I am thinking of all the other woman who blessed me throughout this trip, Amber who has a way of making each and every person feel welcome and special, who is the picture of grace and ease. Elizabeth who is so full of life and fun. Audrey with her smoking hot style and has such a genuine heart for people; who sees people as God see them. Clarita with her warm smile; who always has a kind word to say… the list is endless and my eyes and fingers are getting tired.
And there you have it, the rest of the story…
Have a wonderful weekend! ~April