Sunday, November 9, 2008

Update # 2 from Crazy Busy Land: The Blog Party Report

This is the GREAT group of folks I spent several quality hours with last night!! Since I made all the nametags for the group, I could go through the picture and name everyone, but I won't. There were at least 40 of us, and at times the decibel level in the room so high it was difficult to hear!

If you're wondering how we got organized, let me explain. This was a gathering of people who have blogs and who all read 2 blogs--Ragamuffin soul by Carlos Whittaker and Whittakerwoman by Heather, his wife. Heather put the idea of a meetup out there a few months ago, and the response was much bigger than she expected! One thing I found interesting was that most of us couldn't remember how we found these blogs. One of the happy hazards of blurfing (blog+surfing=blurfing), I guess.

There were attendees from FL, SC, NC, and GA, with a contingent of friends of the Whittakers coming from CA. Two special twentysomethings who drove in from IN claimed the prize for coming the farthest by car. A little more about them later...

As soon as I arrived, I was sure this wasn't going to be like any other gathering I'd been to. You know what happens when a group of people who don't really know each other get together--say a work function. People are "fashionably late" so that they don't have to make small talk before things really get underway. Well, the parking lot was FULL when we arrived 10 minutes early (because I had the nametags). Nobody was shy; everyone just started introducing themselves and talking. Cyber relationships that had formed from reading the blogs of those who read Carlos and Heather's blogs were initiated in real life, and it was a cool thing to observe and be part of. Although it was a bit surreal, I also liked that the interactions didn't have any pretense. We weren't sharing "how's the weather" surface talk; we were asking questions about things that these writers had shared from their hearts on their blogs. It was so refreshing.

This is some of the people I ate dinner with. From the left is Ruth, Robin, Kayla, Maren, Kyle, Allison and me. Now a little more about the twentysomethings from IN.

Kyle and Allison were profiled at the blog party website where our profiles and blog addresses were shared in the weeks leading up to the event. Through this, I learned that they are fellow native Hoosiers, although they were hardly born before I moved out of the state in 1989! I felt an immediate connection with them because they live about 30 min. from where I went to college. I left a comment on each of their blogs and initiated contact. Then I got a little whispering in my head that prompted me to invite them to come stay at our house.

When Bob shared with a colleague that I had invited two total strangers to come stay at our house, his friend jokingly said, "I hope they're not axe murderers!" I knew they weren't--Kyle volunteers with a church startup and Allison lets her love of Jesus shine through her words on her blog. How could extending an invitation to let them stay be remotely dangerous?!

Turns out, they had family in the area, but the offer of 2 full sized beds and not imposing on his cousins' bedrooms made them decide to risk sleeping at the Hotel Nahrstadt for 2 nights. We had such a nice visit, and part of my heart is now on its way back to IN as I type this.

Evidently I wasn't the only one with motherly instincts when it came to these two. Shortly after things got underway last night, Cookie came up to me and told me how relieved she and her gal pals who came from SC were to hear that I'd invited Kyle and Allison to stay at our house. When I asked her how she knew that, and she said that she'd read about it on Kyle's blog earlier that day! Of course!

I know I've commented here in the past that I wasn't sure how "real" online community is. The party tonight showed me that it is very real...and a fabulous thing that really does bring people together and bond them to each other. I may never see many of these people again this side of Heaven, but the world is a little smaller, warmer place because of the time we shared together, and will continue to share via the world of blogs. I'm good with that...


Cookie Cawthon said...

So fun, wasn't it? Looking forward to continuing the conversation online...

Great to meet you!

Vanessa said...

It was so great to meet you this weekend! Thank you for making the name tags - they were lovely. Look forward to keeping up through blogland.

robinrane said...

Jenn there really is something to the online community thing isn't there!?
You are so talented and thank you again for the name tags!
Looking forward to keeping up online :)

vagabondrunn said...

Thanks so much for the hospitality that you offered Allison and I.
We appreciate it beyond words description.

Let Michael know that I know it was him that left a comment on my blog, and that no, I did not cheat. He also has plenty of practice time until our next meeting. Give him my email/AIM, and tell him to drop me a line sometime;

aim: vagabondrun

Again, it was great to meet you and your family. You are great people and Allison and I definitely look forward to Part II.

See ya!!

mybeautifullove said...

Jenn, I can't tell you how glad I am that you heard the Lord and took a risk on inviting us into your home!! :)

We had such a wonderful trip, and spending time at your house with your family is definitely a huge part of why it was so great. Everything from a good, chicken dinner and brownies to Guitar Hero to awesome discussions in the car, it was truly a blessing to have met you guys.

Thank you again for everything. We will definitely keep you updated on life, and are excited for you to do the same! Tell the guys I said hello :)

whittakerwoman said...

I am so far behind in life... Loved the update and I had no idea about Kyle. so fun! I will keep you posted when I get that stuff for you. Maybe we can do lunch. H