In Which I Tell the Truth about Women and Community: (in)RL 2013

 I fingered the insert in the church bulletin with disdain. Seriously? A teddy bear tea party? I was 20 years old!

Why was women’s ministry so antiquated?

The men’s ministry was off to shoot clay pigeons for their gathering and we had to scrounge up teddy bears and doilies and nibble on soggy triangles of cucumber and miracle whip smooshed into crustless Wonderbread?

I envisioned the small church drenched in floral tablecloths and copious amounts of pink. I pictured a woman with coiffed hair, a below the knee-length skirt and lipstick in a bright berry hue who would give a cursory overview of Proverbs 31, the Book of Ruth or Esther, and women’s role as homemakers and baby ovens.

Needless to say, I never went. In fact, community with women had been conspicuously absent in my life for years. 

I had mountains of hurt that stemmed from gatherings of girls and eventually women.

Now a teddy bear tea party still isn’t my cup of tea, no pun intended, but I have come to realize that in my judgments of other women, I’ve done a great disservice to the fabric of community.

After 14 years, I’ve realized that there are so many ways God made women and we are always stronger together than alone. 

There is something to be said for a woman who can knit doilies or crochet or make cowls which fasten loosely around your neck and feel like a hug from a friend.

There is something magnificent in a woman who goes out to run when it’s 7 degrees outside and the air chills her lungs and short puffs of cottony white trail her as her legs pump.

There is something glorious about a bleary-eyed woman who tucks her nursing baby into her and gives her life away in the wee hours of morning.

There is something brilliant in a woman whose brows knit together in concentration when she tackles problems at work, considers how to best fix the hack job her three-year old did to her hair when no one was looking, and as she’s writing down her grocery list.

There is something majestic about the older woman who has served until her weathered hands grip the pages of her battle worn Bible, spidery veins snaking across parchments skin.

There is something pristine about the fresh-faced college girl who reaches out for wisdom and finds it not only in the peers who walk with her, but from the grandmother who walked before her.

There is something to be said for women in all their unique glory and splendor and there is something so very beautiful about the gift and sisterhood of friends.

We are the world changers, ladies. We carry communities and speak into each others lives. We raise babies into men and women. We teach souls and feed minds. We nourish each other with words of encouragement. We mourn and rejoice and give our lives away in casseroles, and hugs, coffee dates, and carpools.

We are the laborers birthing new life as we speak gospel into emptiness and heal each other.

We do the work of God’s heart as we tend to each other and love one another and lean hard into Christ’s side. 

And if you have experienced that then you know what a great opportunity (in)RL will be this year.It’s a chance for women to gather, share each others lives, some chocolate, a lot of laughs and maybe even some tears.  Not only is it free, but those who sign up today (Monday, January 14th) will get the (in)courage 365 Daybrightener, while supplies last. And everyone who signs up with get their ebook “Best of the Beach House 2012.” 

But what happens when you don’t feel glorious? What happens when you don’t feel loved or included? What happens when you feel alone? What happens when the women you go to for community have hurt you? What happens when it seems no one gets you or even wants to?

I know this isn’t the answer you want to hear but here it is: you love with all the glorious vulnerability of Jesus.

You press in. You risk it again. You trust God. You become what you wish others would be to  you. You forgive.You obey. You commit. You embrace the mess and trust in the redeemer.

Community costs something.  Last year, it cost me sleep, stress, and even a bit of disappointment when it was all said and done. I even cleaned and vacuumed y’all!

Would I do it again? Yes, and I am.  Because I gained grace. I gained insight into what God wants from me. I gained friendships and maybe even a few pounds as I prepared all the yummy food for our gathering. I gained confidence that God will do great things when we pursue Him.

When we love the things He loves, we see Him in it. I know that He wants our hearts knit together in fellowship with each other and this is one way we can share in His grace and truth as women. Won’t you risk it? Won’t you join in?



    • says

      Love all you do Lisa Jo. This year of blogging has been exponentially blessed by the community you have created for us to be a part of. Love ya, girl.

  1. says

    Oh yes, I get this. I yearn for authentic community. I love that you are doing this again. And I registered and will be blessed to “meet up” with Jennifer of “My Girls”. Can’t wait!

    • says

      Have you met Jennifer before? I can’t remember now who knows who. She is awesome! Just as warm and genuine as she is in her writing. So glad you are going to be a part of this. Did you do inRL last year?

    • says

      Thanks Kathi. I actually didn’t sign up to host since this is the week after I get back from Jumping Tandem and I will be crazy traveling this year in pursuit of some goals etc. So I’ll just see if someone else steps up to host (hint hint Bend ladies) and if not then maybe I’ll do a super informal get together. But hey, you can come over and eat chocolate and vacuum my floor anytime, since I know you’re not busy at all. 😉

  2. says

    Oh my heart, Alia. Your words are beautiful and gracious laced with so much truth. Your courage is a blessing to me and will be to so many others. They seriously don’t know what they are missing not having you as a friend YET! You should know you brought years to my eyes again with the line about hands griping a Bible with spidery veins in parchment skin! Beautiful!!

    • says

      Oh thank you Amy. I do wish we could all get together inRL again coast to coast, but I had a huge smile seeing all of you gals on the trailers over at Incourage. Makes me really miss Allume and the Five Minute Friday gang. Twitter is no substitute for those real life hugs and chocolate. 😉

  3. Carrie K says

    Im in….wishing i was closer to your REAL LIFE gathering :)

    and…yes…i am still forming a response to your really sweet email. :)

    • says

      Thanks Carrie. I know, I find that while I love the price (free) and not having to travel, pack bags, and arrange for child care, I would love to meet with so many of you in real life. Are you going to one anyway?

  4. says

    Ummm… I love you and your words! They are like coming home, coming home to rest in all that gloriousness (not sure if that’s a word but it is now) that is woman! And I signed up for (in)RL even found a MeetUp in a teeny tiny town in Ontario, Canada – and I signed up with so much bravado this morning during the wee hours (oh the things we don’t let our brains think too much about before we caffeinate them) and I gotta tell you I’m a little scared – just a wee bit scared to enter to community with complete and utter strangers… but Oh so excited to see what God has in store… :-)

    • says

      You should totally come to Bend! It’s only 2,258 miles! ROADTRIP! Well maybe not this year… but I am still trying to think of a way to meet over on the East Coast sometime. Excited to see what God has in store as well. I’ve never been to Canada. So maybe someday. 😉

  5. says

    I’m on the fence about this. I have to admit, I’m not very good when it comes to groups of Christan women. But when I go to the site, there’s no one listed as hosting and no location registered. This is Milwaukee and there’s no one?! Not sure where to go from here. I can not, could not, and should not be the organizer. Not with my manic-depression. No way. Bad idea.

    • Alia Joy says

      I see where you’re coming from, Cynthia. When I used to think about groups of Christian women, I’d feel like I was going to break out in hives. And I can’t promise that you won’t feel that way at all because it’s an area that a lot of us need to allow God into, to calm our insecurities and awkwardness. As for hosting, I get that too. I’m not hosting this year because I will be traveling a ton in April and I don’t do well when I take too much on either. My suggestion would be to sign up as attending, but don’t host. There will still be more people signing up between now and then and maybe someone from Milwaukee is getting that tug on her heart to host right now. Let’s leave that part in God’s hands and maybe you can sign up so at the very least, you can participate from home, and if the door opens to join a meetup, you can commit to trying it out. I do hope and pray you find a community to embrace you and that if this is the door God has for you, you will have the confidence to pursue real relationships with other Christian women. Thanks for sharing you dilemma, I will be in prayer for your situation.


  1. […] (in)courage: In Which I Tell the Truth About Women inRL 2013- This post was featured on the inRL 2013 video as a voiceover. I sat on my bed for an hour recording myself on my iPhone to send to inRL and silently cursed myself for saying yes to Lisa Jo. In the end, (in)courage did a beautiful job and it was so cool to see my words there.  […]

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