This weekend, I went to a virtual beach house with nearly 30 other women. We savored chocolate cupcakes and drank hot coffee. We put our feet up, scooted together on couches,
shared blankets, laughed and cried.
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Every day, posts from (in)courage make their way to my inbox, and every day I read them. For over three years, (in)courage has make their site a virtual beach house, a ‘home for the hearts of women’. We gather in that online space to reflect, share, learn, pray, and encourage one another. Last September, they announced their ‘un’conference called (in)RL {RL = real life}. (in)courage would provide the content via webcasts, and we were to gather in our communities and just be together in real life.

Before I could think about it, I bought a ticket and created a local meet-up immediately.

See, getting together with girlfriends isn’t easy for me. First of all, it seems that whenever a group makes plans, someone has to drop out at the last minute. Something always comes up that gets deemed more important than girlfriend time. And how many times have you dragged yourself out of the house to get together with someone when actually, you really didn’t want to?

Let’s be honest… staying at home in our sweats is easy. Saying ‘I’m fine’ is easy. Letting a friend leave a voicemail is easy.

goodies loaded in my trunk, on our way to inRL…

Not risking our hearts for friendships sake is easy. But gathering with women that we’ve never met before, dropping the ‘fine’, really being present with other one another… that’s where the beauty lives. And the funny thing is, I adore hosting. Baking and decorating and remembering little details and greeting at the door and fluttering around… bring it. I love it. But letting my guard down and being real… that’s where the trouble lies.

Thanks to (in)courage (and to the Lord, for putting the prompt on my own heart and Allison‘s, who graciously offered to co-host the gathering at her inlaws beautiful home), nearly 30 women gathered just north of the Twin Cities. We drove from all over the state, wearing jeans and waterproof mascara, just to be together for a few hours. The chocolate was rich, the coffee deep, the conversation sweet.

mmm cupcakes… did i tell you, i cut my hair? i did =)
and look close – I’m wearing the necklace.

It was so good that I don’t even have any pictures – we were so busy being together that we even forgot to take a group shot! Gah.

the only picture i have from the whole day – most of our group as we watch the webcasts

Mason jars filled with shells and sand and candles were placed around the home, as well as a few lovely products from DaySpring. We prayed and wept as women spoke to us about community, something that we deeply crave and manage to all too easily evade. But on this rainy Saturday, we didn’t shy away. We bravely left our homes and families and drove and found each others hearts in a basement room. 1300 other women did the same thing, in 20 different countries. Impressive, isn’t it?

And I do believe that heaven resounded and satan trembled and our hearts glowed softly as we gathered in real life to praise the One who created us for real life. I believe that in our being in community, in our choosing to hug beyond the screen, in our being brave, we made Him proud.

I can’t wait to do it again.
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You are able to purchase the webcasts and study guides  and the super cute (in)RL tshirt. Tell me, who will you gather with in real life? Who are your girlfriends?
-anna
{girlwithblog}

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anna
{girl with blog}
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