If you didn't see that original post about the contest, I wanted to say again that I am giving away one copy of Finding Grace and one copy of Erin's Ring, two Catholic novels with appeal for readers young and old (I hope!), to be mailed out in time for Christmas gift-giving. If you want more information on these books, you can click on their cover images, over there on the sidebar, and it will take you to their Amazon pages. I will be choosing a winner at midnight on the 15th, so leave me a comment if you're interested in having your name thrown into the hat. Let me know which title interests you more, and you'll be entered to win it.
I've been at this blogging business a long time now, since March of 2011. I was already four years into writing Finding Grace when my first daughter-in-law Regina (wife of son number one) mentioned that I might enjoy being a blogger. I hardly knew what a blog even was back then; I had only read Pioneer Woman's--and I'd only found hers because I'd seen a link to it at the end of an article in Redbook or Good Housekeeping or some such women's magazine. (Does anyone even get subscriptions to those anymore, or is online reading the only way to go?) Apparently, though, there was already a thriving Catholic blogging community out there--who knew? So I tentatively dipped my toes into the blogging pool, and bam! It was pretty much love at first sight. Or first word. Or whatever. During those first few years, there was a new post up here at String of Pearls pretty much daily. A day without blogging was like a day without sunshine. (Or coffee!)
Little did I know how much starting a blog would change my life. It's hard to even describe how many blessings blogging has given me over the years. I have come in contact with so many wonderful people, most of whom I may never meet in person, but who feel like true friends nonetheless. It's like having a whole list of endearingly familiar pen pals: people you come to really care about; people who pray for you and your family when they know you're in need, and you pray for them right back. It's the most amazing thing.
One of these special people I'd met through blogging is a young girl named Sarah who was still a student back when we first started corresponding via the comboxes on each other's sites. I was impressed by what a sweet person she seemed to be: a hard-working, deep-thinking, devout Catholic pre-school teacher, writer, and maker of cord Rosaries. In fact, I have ordered numerous Rosaries from her, for my grandkids and for my husband and myself. He always carries his Notre Dame blue-and-gold one with him in his pocket, and I carry my Irish-green one in my purse. (We had them with us on Sunday, and I think Sarah was touched to see that her Rosary-making ministry has had a big impact on the Pearl family. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.)
Sarah very generously read and reviewed Finding Grace about five years ago (you can read that review here). In the years since, this young woman graduated from college, embarked on her teaching career, and got so busy with other projects that she gave up blogging. But we still keep in touch sporadically. I'm old enough to be her mother (she is actually about the same age as the youngest of my five sons), but I consider her a friend.
I knew Sarah lived somewhere in Northern VA, and she knew that we'd made the move to the area not too long ago. Well, out of the blue she emailed me a couple of weeks ago to let me know that she was playing the violin in a community theater production of A Christmas Carol, opening on Dec. 7, and she wondered if now that I'm a local, I might like to come to one of the shows. It was playing in a community center just a little over an hour from where we live, and this past Sunday my husband and I had the opportunity to attend a matinee of the performance.
What a delight it was! (If you live in NOVA, you might want to check out this creative take on the Dickens classic: set in the Depression era with accompanying Bluegrass music, it's a play within a play--and the cast is terrific! The show will be playing again this weekend, Dec. 15 and 16--get your tickets now!)
|My sweet and talented young friend, with the playwright who wrote this particular adaptation of A Christmas Carol.|
The thing that was so cute and sweet was that when the cast had taken their bows at the end of the show and started to come out to talk to audience members, Sarah made a bee-line right over to us. After all those years of blog friendship, she had no trouble finding me.
See those fingers of mine on the left? I kept patting her shoulder in a motherly (grandmotherly?) fashion while my husband snapped our photo. And I was nervous and excited, so I might have babbled a bit...
But the most wonderful thing about meeting Sarah IRL (as they say) is that I truly did feel like she was just the person I already "knew" through her writing. We were not strangers at all.
I can only speak for myself, though. I hope she got the same feeling when she met me.
I'm considering having the opportunity to meet Sarah a minor Christmas miracle; not as big a miracle as Scrooge's conversion in the play, of course--and surely not of the magnitude of the miracle that is the Reason for the Season!! All right, maybe it wasn't quite a miracle; but it was certainly a gift.
God bless us, everyone!