A fellow ScrapShare member (Tiffany) invited me to come to the 2nd annual Michigan scrapbooking retreat, all expenses paid. At first, I said no way. I just couldn't accept a gift like that, especially from someone I barely knew. But she really preached to me that day about allowing her to share a recent windfall, and how if I declined, I'd be denying her the opportunity to bless others. She said that she wanted to bless me, and that she wanted to bless the other retreaters by surprising them with an unexpected visitor. I finally accepted her offer, but felt so weird about it. I am totally unworthy of such a gift, and for 3 months, I worried that when I arrived, people would say, "Uh, ok. Big whoop."
The only caveat was that I had to keep it a secret, OR ELSE! I wasn't allowed to tell any fellow retreaters that I was coming, and I wasn't allowed to tell anyone who might slip and tell any fellow retreaters, either. I told Ginger, Elaine, Denise (and of course, my local friends) ('cause a girl has to have SOMEONE to share her joy with!!). They kept the secret. (Thanks, friends!) It was so hard at my annual ScrapShare Texas retreat in November, saying goodbye to the ones I knew I'd be seeing again in Michigan, and not being able to tell them. And when I got Sue's Christmas card, where she'd written "I hope your 2008 is the best and most blessed ever - and it will be if we meet up again!", I wanted to call her and say, "HEY! We are! We are!"
So I went. All expenses paid. All I did in return was create a mini-album make-n-take for everyone, and give a brief hand-lettering demonstration/lesson.
I'd wanted to meet Weezie for YEARS. She's one of the first friends I made online 9 years ago, and I've loved her forever. When I realized that I'd only be a couple of hours from her, I called Tiffany and said, "I know this is a secret. But you have to understand. Weezie and I have tried to meet up, and it didn't work out. I can't be that close to her and have her not be here. And I know she'll be devestated, too, if we miss each other." So Tiffany filled Weezie in, and she was there. So she knew the secret too, and didn't tell anyone.
My fears about the group being underwhelmed were unfounded. Tiffany had dreamed up this elaborate entrance where I'd come dancing my way into the room. (I'm sorta known for my booty-dancin' ways at ScrapShare retreats. GAH. I have no shame!) She told me to wear my pink wig and to be ready to make my grand entrance when I heard Pink's "Get This Party Started" song start playing.
I was sweating bullets out in the hallway, fearful of a less-than-enthusiastic reaction, and worried that people would think, "Uh. Who does she think SHE is, making a big entrance like that?" But no. They made me feel like a ROCK STAR! I simply can't explain how it felt to be recognized immediately by people who'd never met me and had no idea I was coming. And to see the shock on the faces of the people who DID know me - oh, THAT was classic! Wanna see the big intro? Weezie filmed it, unbeknownst to me. That's her you hear giggling all the way through the video. She's quite embarrassed now, and keeps saying, "I broke the number one rule of videography: don't let yourself be heard." LOL!! I love Weezie. SO SO SO glad we've finally met face to face!
Hey Mom, turn up your volume and click VIDEO HERE.
Several of the retreaters hadn't yet arrived when I came dancing in, so I got to surprise people over and over. My favorite reaction was Michelle's. She gasped, walked over to me, and began to cry! I've always pictured her as a really tender-hearted, sweet sweet person. And she is. :)
Meeting so many women that I've only known online and never thought I'd GET the chance to meet - oh, what a gift. I feel so rejuventated. So completely blessed. So incredibly lucky to be a part of this family. So overwhelmingly grateful to Tiffany for her generosity, her genuine servant heart, and her crazy antics that rocked the weekend. The Michigan and Ontario gals are an AMAZING group of talented, fun, crazy, loving women. I can't imagine a better way to have kicked off the new year. In them, I've found a whole new crop of real-life friends. It was an amazing weekend, and they made me feel so completely loved and welcomed.
And Tiffany. Word to the Mommas! As Lee would say, "We're like sistahs from anothah mothah!" And as Lee's daughter would say, "No, they're like sisters from another mister!" Whatever the case, we're like sisters. We had lots of opportunity to talk in the car between Detroit and East Lansing, and deeeeeep into the night in our hotel room. Tiffany is just like me in that she's a little wild and crazy, a lot crass, really loud when she's having fun, up for anything, not afraid of much, and still totally and completely in love with God. LOVE LOVE LOVE that about her! And guess what?? She's coming to Fort Worth in May! For a WEEK!! WHEEEEEEE!!
Here we are. I love you, Tiff! Thanks for the gift of a lifetime. I can't wait until I have the opportunity to pay it forward. :D