Tag Archives: inrl


a great hair dayAfter my literal 15 minutes of fame last Thursday, I calmly walked off the stage (without falling) and took my seat. I was overwhelmed with relief and absolute elation afterwards… so much kindness, so much encouragement. An oasis of a night in a desert of a year… or two. Look. Even my hair was totally behaving. It was incredible. Thank you, Kelly.

Friday brought the realization of a HUGE work project for Curt at Camp Roger– his whole company came out and raised a new rope swing out over Little Bostwick by hand. It had been in the works for so long! The goal was to give to the camp, of course, but also have a huge team-building day for the folks at Wolverine Building Group… so we prayed long and hard for good weather, strong steel, and no ice.  Curt lost more sleep over those 2 telephone poles than any other construction project I’ve seen in the past year. And Friday? 65 degrees. Sunny. Smooth sailing perfection couldn’t have gone better. SO LOVELY.

Check TWO crazy things off the list.

And then, I was up to bat again.

[It was a ridiculous week. I’m still sleeping it off.]

I had volunteered to host the Grand Rapids/Holland chapter of the (in)RL 2013 meet up. There’s this fabulous free webcast for women each year… this year it focused on staying in community when community is hard. Appropriate, no? Friday night was a watch-at-home session and then Saturday, all over the world, women met up in-person to watch the other sessions and have some conversation.

So, ok. I can do this, right? I’m a hermit, but I’m making great strides. I even gave a speech early this week!

Cue my co-host emailing me 2 days before and saying she had to bail for family reasons.

Still ok. She dropped off snacks ahead of time, I loaded up decorations, I bought name tags, my hair was still looking good. I’m in. I’m in because this year they’re talking about staying in community when it’s hard and awkward and this is not lost on me. I’m in because I don’t mind the hour drive there and the hour drive home in gorgeous weather… ALONE. I didn’t even turn on the radio, People. It was glorious.

And I arrived and I decorated and I set out all the handouts and the gifts and the snacks and I waited… I waited for the other 25 brave RSVPs to walk through the doors. Twenty-five strangers who would spend the afternoon together and stretch their community arms a little bit. Twenty-five people who wanted to meet-up beyond the regular (in)courage blog posts we read every day.

And five of us showed up.


And I thought, I honestly thought- at 10:35am when it was obvious this was IT, time to fish or cut bait- what in the world is even possible here?  I was so ready! I had tried so hard! I had driven so far! I was scared, too! Totally not fair.

That’s what I thought.

And then I thought, screw it. We’re doing this thing. Roll tape. Pass the chocolate.

What followed was 4 hours of fresh conversation, honest questions, and Godly effort from 5 women who stuck it out.  We left with books and cute mugs and leftovers for our family table. We left with questions about what steps God was asking us to take (and, no, He is not asking me to wake up at 5am) to better our families, we left encouraged by the women we watched on-line and their stories… which sounded remarkably like our own.

I didn’t think it would work.

God, apparently, does not work through RSVPs… he works through willing hearts. And He blesses effort. Even tiny, hesitant, nervous effort. He does not care about numbers or decorations or gluten-free or tamed hair. He cares about community. Community with each other that leads to community with Him.

Will I do it again? You bet. Next year- I’m hosting. But on different, calmer, gentler terms. It will be here… at my house… with my dirty floors and my great food. It will be here… with friends I want to share the day with and strangers who need a welcome mat. It will be here… and I will not count RSVPs. I will not count RSVPs or left overs or miles or extra pens.

I will simply open the door and welcome willing hearts in.

Amen and may it be so.


Y’all gonna make me lose mah mind.

Abby was the last of our family to go through the Fever and the Stomach Bug. It was ugly. One day just after Christmas, she took an exceptionally long afternoon nap… you know, the kind you take when you feel like death. After that day, she did not take a morning or afternoon nap again until yesterday.So, not since 2012, People, has that child slept any kind of normal.  Yesterday was the first day- THE FIRST DAY, she has taken a nap and slept through the night. I feel like I am 47 years older.

Rylie learned how to say the word ‘tomorrow.’ It sounds like Two-Mah-Woh, and it’s gorgeous. Seeing my window of opportunity, I put Annie in the dvd player and cued up the song. She was shocked and thrilled… and I cried. Her re-entry into school has been ROUGH since the holiday break. We needed some happy tears around here.

Gus put Abby in the dishwasher and closed the door yesterday. “Mom. Abby wash.”  There is 2 week old clean laundry piled up on my couch and I never gave Ry’s teacher her Christmas gift. Y’all. 

What in the world.

What I need is some time away… to myself. Perhaps with other woman who know me. OR perhaps with other women who DON’T. I need to go on a retreat, be fed, hear some good words, learn, be taught. Spring Bible study started this week at church, but I need baby steps. It’s been a long time since I’ve been untethered from this house and a deep commitment absolutely terrifies me right now. I simply don’t have the right jeans.

Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Some of you don’t, and that’s ok… we just can’t be friends today.

So, let’s start small.

Let’s start with a couple hours spread out over 2 days in April.

I can do that, right? You can do that.

It’s (in)RL hosted by (in)courage.

I love it. What is it? 

(said every mother everywhere every day)

Simply, (in)RealLife is a webcast on Friday followed by a local get-together Saturday.  It’s a chance to anchor those beautiful online relationships you’ve made by meeting TOGETHER and in person.  (in)RL was born out of two years spent listening to women in the comments at (in)courage craving local, real life community. Derived from the social media acronym “IRL” or “in real life,” (in)RL is an invitation to share what we’ve learned about community and encourage women with stories and suggestions for connecting deeper in real life.

Think of it as a FREE girl’s weekend away that doesn’t require packing or plane tickets, where women can kick off any expectation of perfect, set aside their fears, their shyness, their worry that they’re not good enough, and find some of Jesus’ words of rest woven into every video shared here.

The (in)RL webcast kicks off on Friday, April 26 and (in)RL meet-ups follow on Saturday, April 27.

(So, Friday is you at home in your jammies with some hot cocoa watching the conference online. Saturday is you heading out into the city and meeting up with other Ladies in your area to meet and hang out and… be awesome.)

This year we’re taking a closer look at what it takes to stay rooted in community when sometimes just walking away would be so much easier and tons more convenient. Women share stories of how they’ve chosen to stay through hard marriages, challenging parenting, worthwhile friendships. How choosing to stay has freed them more fully and unexpectedly than if they’d cut and run.

Relevant, yes?

So, let’s sign up. Let’s put ourselves out there and see what happens. Let’s see what God does when we step out from behind the computer and walk through an open door. I’m scared to death, really. I mean, leaving the farm and putting myself out there is not number 1 or number 2 (or number 12) on my list of awesome. But I’m gonna do it. Even if it’s just me and some Beautifuls I know but never get to see.  Even if it’s 5 women on Saturday that I’ve never met before in my life.  I’m doing it.

And don’t think I don’t hear you laughing at the awesomeness that is the topic for this year: commitment in difficult community. It’s like it was made for me at this point of my life, yes? I know, I know.

Sign up to attend or host a gathering in your town HERE.