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Remember when we were kids, and the internet was just making it’s way into most people’s homes, and our parent’s were scared about us running away to meet strangers on the internet?
I did a thing.
I actually took this just before I got off the plane when I landed at my first stop. Don’t judge. I had a small fiasco the first part of the flight. I’m thankful for waterproof make up!
I “ran away” and met one of my best friends whom I have talked to via text and phone calls almost daily for the last year or so.
Let’s back up a minute (well, a few months).
This past January, I visited (met in person for the first time ever) a dear sweet friend from Facebook. I had met a handful of other friends previous but what made this one different was I drove 10 hours up to Kansas to meet her. With me was another Facebook friend (we are all in a Christian Bible Study group together), her son, my 4 children AND our 3 dogs (you can find my road trip essentials HERE). At the end of this trip my friend, “Kansas”, inspired me by saying that this year she wanted to actually do what she says she will do, and reach out to meet others in our group. She wanted to embrace others and love others. She wanted to make connections and live fully knowing she reached out to her brothers and sisters in Christ. I knew I needed to do the same. I had spent too long without friends to connect with. I promised too many empty promises that were broken before they ever left my lips. I was unreliable. I needed more “just do it” in my vocabulary to match my “let’s do life together.”
So, when my friend, and fellow blogger at Lil’ Olive Tree, said her birthday was coming up, I really wanted to go spend her birthday with her. It was honestly the next logical step. We had been talking on the phone nearly daily for almost a year. See, we started in a Christian Bible study group together. Eventually that group split into another group that grew pretty close. Comments turned into direct messages and direct messages turned into texts and then texts turned into calls. I’m not sure who called who first. It doesn’t really matter anyway. I just remember that our phone calls were filled with deep concern, genuine care, loud laughs and a LOT of prayers. Do you know someone who actually stops and prays for you right when they say they will pray for you? I do! I now know two people who will stop mid conversation to lift you up in prayer. Lauren inspires me daily to be a better daughter of YHWH, a better sister, a better wife and a better mama. I wanted to do something for her the way she always does for others. Hubby agreed. I should definitely go out there. I mentioned it to her since I thought I should probably not just show up at her door, suitcase in hand.
She mentioned that John Crist would be performing nearby a few weeks before her birhtday, and so it was decided that I’d come then. PERFECT!! He’s hilarious! After seeing this guy at Winter Jam 2018 with my local bestie and our teens for my oldest’s birthday, I couldn’t wait to share in the hilarity with my long distance bff! As soon as I booked tickets and sent her the screen shot, it was suddenly all so real. I finally get to meet Lauren!
Side note: if you do not know who he is, his Facebook link is here and you can watch a ton of his videos or you can find him on IG here.
Boarding on the plane to Philly, I felt much more comfortable on a plane next to the window.
So, I bought a hard case suitcase, packed my bags, and took off to New Jersey! My first trip to the east coast, my first trip to NJ, my first trip to meet Lauren, and my first “vacay” away from my babies and husband… There were a whole lotta firsts! The plane ride was rough, to be honest. You can find that post HERE . I couldn’t wait to get my feet on land. I walked out of the airport, and sat at a bench to wait impatiently.
‘What if she doesn’t like me?’ ‘What if her kids hate me?’ ‘What if her husband doesn’t like me??’
Who was the enemy kidding? They were going to love me, and I knew I already loved them! Meeting Lauren for the first time was like a breath of fresh air. She called when she was almost there. I saw her drive towards the pick up and I started walking towards her direction. She stopped the car, parked and stepped out. Y’all. I was finally going to meet her.
“Stay calm. Keep cool. Don’t freak out.”
‘ermagerd. ermagerd. ermagerd’
“Nope, calm down yo. Don’t freak out”
‘but she’s running’
“and now so are you.”
As soon as I saw her step out of her car, I could no longer pretend like I was cool, calm and collected. I squealed and I ran as fast as my jet-lagged chubby ankles could take me. I just couldn’t wait to wrap my arms around her neck. I turned around from the front seat to meet her girls and my heart melted when her sweet little boy said, “gack-ee! Plane!” Heart bursting and still squealing inside like a school girl, we took a picnic lunch to Fairmount Park to eat under the cherry blossoms. We had some time to kill since the airline sent my luggage to Chicago. It was gorgeous day and she made the BEST chicken salad (recipe blog post please!! ::wink wink::)
That night we had these fantastic AUTHENTIC Philly cheesesteak sandwiches for dinner from a local place called Nick’s Pizzaria. We went to church and AWANA, and then went back to her home. The next day we went to her girl’s homeschool co-op where I was able to volunteer and serve with her. I was so excited just to see her life! My life motto is, “Let’s do life together.” Since I don’t get to see her life on a daily or weekly basis, this was so awesome to see what her life was like.
Friday night we got to go see John Crist. It was just me, Lauren and my letter board. Squealing again (I have no idea who this squeally person even is or where she came out of) and skipping through the parking lot like little kids, we got through the doors and to a seat. The lights dimmed and out trotted John Crist. He was every bit as funny as I remembered. At intermission (well, I thought the show was over) I unsuccessfully tried to convince her to go find his bus. I was reeeeeeeally hoping for an autograph to add to my Building 429 and KB autograph “collection”. So, instead I went to the souvenir booth and bought a shirt and showed the employee my letter board. She laughed when I said I came from Texas to meet my bff and go this concert with her.
Then she called over his sister. Whose sister you ask? John Crist’s sister!
Y’all. I just about died. Then she said that after the show she would take us to meet him.
I’m pretty sure I actually died.
Due some hiccups with my ultra lame LG phone, the pics that were taken were horrible. Luckily for us, the gal behind us and her mom took some and sent them to us. The best one they got was of me with my eyes closed. Y’all, we fan-girled. HARD.
The best pic we got
Goofing off with John Crist
Oh! And, we got our autographs:
Saturday, the day before I left, we took a day to ourselves, no kids, and went to Ocean City, NJ. First we bought gas (helllooooo full service gas stations! Where you been all my life?!) and then headed out. We caraoke’d (and by “we” I mean “she”). We car danced (I was back up). I operated my letterboard. If you are vacationing in the area with your children, I highly recommend going to the Boardwalk. Ocean City is a dry town, so it is incredibly family friendly.
First we ate lunch, next we both got reflexology foot massages at Still Water Stress Center (not an affiliate link) and then head over to the Boardwalk. Let me tell you how AMAZING it felt to stand on the strange shore of a familiar ocean.
Deep in my heart, I’m still a California girl (born and raised) and I have not seen the ocean in 5 years. Smelling the salt filled air, feeling the slight ocean spray on my face carried by the wind, the sound of each wave fizzling as it crossed each grain of sand towards me. It was all so therapeutic to whisper to the ocean my worries and sadness I’ve held inside for too long. I collected some shells to bring home to my children, and made my way to the boardwalk to shop.
We stopped for delicious coffee at the Ocean City Coffee Company (I can do all things with Christ and coffee who strengthen me. It’s Scripture, y’all):
Then last we ate at Lauren’s favorite (and my now my favorite) pizza place on the Boardwalk. Now let me tell you about #TheBestPizzaOnTheBoardwalk!!
Prep’s Pizza wins this award hands down!!! This place is the best not only for their huge slices of pizza pie, but their customer service is unbeatable.
Waffle ice cream is soooooooo perfectly delectable ! I got the vanilla peanut butter ice cream with fudge topping, hold the jimmies (Jersey talk for sprinkles).
Oh! Have you heard of “water ice”?? It’s a thing and these Jersians are protective of their water ice! (Don’t you dare call it a “slushie” or a “soft serve sorbet.” Cue: maniacal laughter)
When we got home (well, her home) we got to sit with some wine and talk about our day with her husband. We sorted through some rockin’ planner stuff I brought for her made by Simple Stories and I showed her a bit how to use it. I reminisced over the previous few days that felt like a lifetime and only spoke briefly of the inevitable departure to happen in just a few hours. How was I supposed to leave when the bonds that were forged over this trip were so deep? I missed my babies and my husband and family back home, but now I had an anchor here in New Jersey too.
The next morning (as in a few hours later) I had an early flight home. I sat in my chair at the airport with Daniel Tiger singing in my head “some-times you feel two feelings at the same time, and that’s okaaaay”. I thought about her sweet little boy in my lap as we watched Daniel Tiger two nights before. How was I going to leave NJ and go home as if I wasn’t leaving behind a piece of my newly growing amazing family?
I know we should all be incredibly cautious when meeting people from online, and I urge you to seek wise counsel before embarking on a trip like this yourself, but she and her family feel like FAMILY to me. Sometimes, family consists of the people you CHOOSE to be in your life. Sometimes, you have to take chances and leaps. I’m not a risk taker, but this is an adventure I am so grateful I took. I have a bosom friend, a sister in Christ, an instant connection and an unbreakable bond. Her family has woven new, brightly colored threads in my life tapestry, and for this I am a better human.
When I landed, Texas comforted me with the widest, most gorgeous sapphire sky with cotton-like clouds! They were almost as comforting as my daughter’s arms around my neck and my husbands kisses on my lips.
My vacation was over. I couldn’t wait to snuggle all my babies and show them all the presents I had for them! Chattering like a chipmunk, I couldn’t wait to fill my husband in on all the excitement I had. My husband promised we would go back to visit next year as a whole family.
I. Can’t. Wait.
Until the next visit, I will talk to you tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow, Lauren!
You have read my side, now check out Lauren’s side over at Lil’ Olive Tree!
Hey friends! Do you have a bosom buddy? Have you met a kindred spirit? How did you and your bosom buddy meet? Tell me your story in the comments!