I've blogged about my friendship with Angela in the past on my old blog. But, since she is the oldest friend in this post, I'll start with her and refresh your memories.
Angela and I met in the 7th grade at church camp. We discovered that we both had a crush on a boy named Ben. It bonded us pretty quickly. Our friendship began, and the next year, I began to get involved with the youth group at her church, so we saw one another more frequently, and we shared a friend, Tricia. So, there were numerous hanging out opportunities (and chances to talk about Ben).
Ninth grade came, and Angela came to my school. We were in class together and maintained our friendship. We then shared another friend, Allison. We still went to church camp every summer and hung out. She home-schooled after that, but we still saw one another at church functions and sporting events. We talked on the phone from time to time, and I went swimming at her house several times. It was a typical high school friendship.
Then at the end of high school, she moved far away to Washington D.C. and started the adventure of life on her own. We lost touch. And then, about three years ago, our friend, Allison, told me Angela had a blog. I had a blog too, and so we caught up.
Angela is (and always has been) a very encouraging person. She was not a fan of strife in relationships. I can't remember ever getting into a fight with her. She's a peacemaker--and now this plays out in her professional life as a photojournalist. She is giving a voice to the voiceless through her photographs. It's incredible the many places she's gone and the things she's experienced. I am so honored to know her, and I was even more honored to attend her wedding to Craig (not Ben! :). Check out her blog if you want to be inspired to love people because that's what will happen!
Of course, Angela and Tricia introduced me to Allison. Allison is funny. Very funny. But she doesn't mean to be. That's what is so great about her! Alli and I became very good friends very quickly. We both shared a heart to know God. Our times at church camp together were so very special and holy. Alli was one of the few people in high school who spurred me on to love and good deeds. She was a constant source of encouragement and friendship. She was very good at accepting me, warts and all. I have so many wonderful memories from high school with Alli.
One of my favorite memories is riding around in her purple convertible singing Fleetwood Mac tribute songs at the top of our lungs. We studied God's word together, we watched a lot of "Dawson's Creek" together, and we spent entirely too much time arguing about how I didn't wear enough makeup and why Alli would only eat Snackwell's cookies instead of Oreos. I wore her down on the Oreos eventually.
We lost touch briefly after college, but we soon reconnected. I am so glad I know Allison. I'm also so proud of her as a wife and mommy. I was so glad we got to spend an entire evening hanging out before the wedding. It was so good to be with her again. She married a funny man, and she has an adorable, wide-awake daughter. I'm so proud to call her my friend.
I had to put a pic of Lucy in here. She was such a good little traveler. She rolled with the punches, slept when she could, and had an overall sunny disposition. But then again, that's my girl. Isn't she pretty in her party gown?
Joanna. Sweet Joanna. I met Joanna through my friend, Carrie, who just said, "You have got to look at her blog. Her pictures are awesome, and she's a believer!" That's what I did. I went to her blog, began commenting on her thoughtful and beautiful posts. I can recall many days when I would read one of her posts, and it would edify me to no end!
We began messaging back and forth, and I knew she was a kindred spirit, a bosom buddy, a soul sister, whatever you want to call it. I so wanted to go to Angela's wedding, and what an added perk when I found out that she had asked Joanna to be her photographer (they met through my blog)! We were going to meet!
It was arranged. We talked on the phone for the first time, and even though I was at a baby shower, I was so excited to talk to her, that I hated to get off the phone. One night, we chatted on the phone for a couple of hours. It was awesome. It was like we had known one another forever. And it felt so special, because I know how she hates talking on the phone (ahem...I LOVE to talk on the phone).
When the time came for me to finally meet her, I got nervous. I had wondered if she would like me as much in person as she did through the blog or on the phone. I worried it wouldn't be the same. And it wasn't. It was better.
We hugged instantly, and it was like two sisters who hadn't seen one another in a long time. She had warned me that she might be kind of funky because her mind was on the wedding. She was delightful. I totally and completely loved her even more.
She sweetly carved out time to hang out with me the morning of the wedding. We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and chatted about our families, our lives, and God. She photographed Lucy and me for a little while in the hotel lobby (pics--and a humbling and incredibly kind post about me--can be seen on her blog). She set me so at ease in front of the camera. I have NEVER liked pictures taken of my profile, but the one she took is so good! She says I'm photogenic, and I say she's an amazing photographer!
Joanna was not the only internet friend I had the pleasure of meeting while I was on my trip. I also got to meet Katie. Katie and I met through xanga (though I'm not sure I remember how). As I read her blog, I realized we were cut from the same cloth. Here are the things we have in common:
We were both English teachers.
We both have stair-step children (though she has four and I have three--for now).
We both had our kids in this order: boy, girl, girl (and then she has another boy--which I'm hoping for us!)
Our third child is a girl and they share the name Lucy along with lots of hair and a sunny disposition.
We're both anal.
We are both opinionated.
We're both a little clumsy (sorry Katie, but it is true).
I know the list could be longer. Katie lives outside of Baltimore. When I booked my flight, I realized I had a layover in Baltimore on my way home. So, I gave her a call, and we set up a meeting at the Baltimore airport. She had to cancel because her son was scheduled to be baptized that Sunday. I was so sad, but I couldn't really expect her to miss that to meet me!!! :)
Then, due to the heavy rain, they had to reschedule his baptism (they baptize in a creek) for another week. I was thrilled! So, when we met, it too was like old friends coming back together. We had a nice chat at Starbucks for a couple of hours. We talked about books, schooling, our kids. It wasn't awkward or weird (at least for me!). It was wonderful to meet Katie and see her face to face. She's everything I knew she would be, and I hope we get to meet again.
Friends are a gift from God. I have a brother, but no sisters. I am so blessed to have so many wonderful friends who are like sisters to me. Our Father knows what we need, and I'm grateful for the many women He has supplied me with in my journey.
Hebrews 10:24, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--all the more as you see the Day approaching."
Thank you, friends, for a lovely weekend I will never forget.