What happened next

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 were shown to our room where Cindy had left a box of goodies for Thelma and I.  It had every good thing you can imagine in it!
 

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.

One morning we were treated to facials and spa treatments. 

In the evenings we would head out to eat dinner at local restaurants.  The second night we ate at a little charming bistro.   As we arrived large fluffy snowflakes began to fall.

My camera didn’t like the indoor lighting so most of these are blurry but I wanted you to get a glimpse of the atmosphere inside.  The food was so very good!

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.


A picture of Beth and I in the snow.  This is one of my favorite pictures from the weekend.


A picture of the whole group.  When I arrived the first day I really only knew half of the women but by the end of the weekend I felt like I had know all of them my whole life.  I love this picture. 


A picture of Clarita and Gloria looking so fetching in their yellow clothes.  These two girls right here, they are the sweetest most encouraging woman you will ever meet!


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.


Linda and Jenny… love these two!!  Love their style and sense of humor.  My one regret of the weekend was not being able to spend more time with them.


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

22 thoughts on “What happened next

  1. pettybunch

    How fun it was to read of your trip and the face to face meeting of these already good friends!  One day, I hope to meet the many wonderful people who have helped me through so many different things in my life!  So glad you got to do this!!

    Reply
  2. aSeriesofFortunateEvents

    April it was so fun to meet you! I had the best time and I’m so glad we weren’t killed by internet predators! :D

    I loved reading about your weekend and I’m so glad you posted that picture of Cindy’s house because she’s been holding out and now I can picture it. ha.

    I hope that didn’t sound too internet predator-ish of me.

    Reply
  3. madisonsmom2

    Loved loved reading this. April, you blessed so many people that weekend too. You are a picture of grace and courage, strength and wisdom! I loved sitting and listening to you, hearing you laugh and getting to know you! So blessed to have met you! 

    Reply
  4. appalolly

    It was so much fun to read about your trip! I agree about wishing there was more time to spend with everyone!! I love meeting you and I am so glad you chose to come. And you totally rocked it out at the fashion show! It was so fun to watch you!

    Reply
  5. mytoesareblue

    i squealed when i saw this on facebook and had to come over here immediately and read about your journey with the FFE girls. oh so much awesomeness. it makes me sooo happy…i read about all those dear women, many who i know and love and it makes my heart sooo happy that you ladies were able to have these beautiful moments together! love love love. and thank you for sharing your moments with us April. I’m so proud of you for facing your flying fear…and making the journey, for your time spent with such dear, dear hearts and for sharing your pictures of the time spent together. i’m sooo happy you were able to go! May your heart continue to overflow with the goodness of the time spent there, the words that were shared, the hearts that were opened and the moments of kindness that went deep into your heart and mind and spirit. Love you

    janel

    Reply
  6. ABAHM

    A wonderful account of your time away April.  Such great descriptions of all the wonderful ladies, fun to hear more about some of my friends here online.  Though spread out all over the map, it is a blessing that we can have a sweet community here online and encourage one another.  Living here in Cali I figure we will one day get to meet…I hope so!

    Reply
  7. baileyandme

    what a fun post! love your commentary along with. :) when we said bye- you mentioned that you might bring your family to ohio to vacation. i am still fully expecting you to do that. we’d love to host you someday! :) our husbands could debate something…
    it TRULY was a PLEASURE to meetcha…. :)
    later alligator. <3

    Reply
  8. singingrachel

    so fun to read about it from your perspective. LOVED seeing Cindy’s house and it makes me want to go myself in a big way.
    and if an ohio trip becomes a reality for you sometime… well jenny girl better not be hoggin’….  just sayin’  :) ♥♥

    Reply
  9. fruitloops115

    this is the post I’ve been waiting for! I love it whenever I get to read someone’s commentary on that weekend   I don’t even know where to begin commenting, so I will just say what an honor it was to have you here, and to meet you IRL, thanks for all the sweet things you said about your stay.
    and yes, why is Calfornina, like, on the other side of the planet?? that’s just not even fair. I’m seeing a fam vacation to California one day in our future, that’s for sure.

    Reply
  10. quiet_hearts

    You did a great job of describing your wonderful weekend.  And I love Cindy’s house and all the other pictures too.  So many wonderful people in so small a space.  How could it contain you all?  Thanks so much for sharing the fun.

    Reply
  11. down_onthefarm

    this sweet post felt like a great big group hug celebrating adventure, friends…and the good things yet to come too. and since i like hugs…tight squeezes right back at you. :)   learning to know you here on xanga, having you in my life, calling you Friend, and then meeting you—what a privilege. love you april.

    Reply
  12. lifeisadance

    Oh, April, this was all just too lovely. I’m not sure when you even wrote it, but I’m just now getting a chance to read… It was so fun to relive that weekend through your post! I love your description of some of the women… Rachel, check yes on everything you said. Thelma, check yes too. And meeting so many more wonderful women ~ it was such a privilege! I have to say too, meeting YOU was one of the highlights of my time there. You are sunshine itself, and the Spirit of Jesus about you and in you was charming and so drawing. I liked you instantly, and I’m smiling as I write this because of what a DEAR you are. I’m so glad you were able to go that weekend! And I’m so glad for the chance to make an internet friendship a real one now. ;) xoxo

    Reply

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