Have you ever wished for a space where you could be real, where you could laugh and cry and talk about the hard things and the sweet things? Have you longed for a place to take off your mask, put up your feet and open your heart? (in)courage is that place. Almost five years ago, God began building this place in the hearts of three women: Stephanie, Lainie and Holley. Stephanie was a marketing maven in the publishing business looking for new ways to bring meaningful experiences to women. Not the kind you ordinarily find in Christian clichés but those that transform you from the inside out.
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. Last year nearly 2,000 women from 24 countries participated. Think of it as a girls' getaway 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. This year's (in)RL webcast kicks off on Friday, April 26 and (in)RL meetups follow on Saturday, April 27.
Lainie was a woman passionate about products and bringing beauty into everyday life. She still sees faith woven into everything — the beautiful golden thread that ties it all together.
And Holley was a writer committed to bring hope and encouragement to the hearts of women through words. Facing personal storms and being a counselor gave her an even deeper desire to do so. Holley God connected these three women at DaySpring, the Christian subsidiary of Hallmark. Over coffee, lunches, and conversations in the hall they realized they carried the same dream inside. And this vision was to create a new home for the hearts of women. When they asked themselves what kind of place they were building, Stephanie, Lainie and Holley finally came to see it as a beach house. It’s that place where you can put your sandy, dirty feet on the coffee table, laugh late into the night with girlfriends, and hear God’s voice through shared, broken, beautifully redeemed everyday stories. It’s the place where you’re always welcome, just the way you are. Over time, a team of more than 20 amazing women joined the (in)courage team as writers. And Lisa-Jo, an incredible writer with an encouraging heart and fondness for food analogies and Twitter, answered God's call to spend more time in this beach house as the Community Manager of (in)courage.
Women around the world will tune in for an hour on Friday for the community keynotes, and connect via Twitter using the hashtag #inRL with everyone else who’s also watching. Then on Saturday they'll meet up with old friends and new to spend a few hours in real-life community. All day long, in every time zone and every kind of space homes, coffee shops, restaurants, or churches - women will gather together to connect in real life. (in)courage will provide video content to each meet up host that participants can watch together, exploring the challenge to stay connected to our beautiful, messy, real-life communities. Registration is free, and everyone who registers will receive a free copy of the eBook, “Best of the Beach House 2012: A Collection of Your Favorite Posts from the Writers of (in)courage.” (in)courage has certainly met its goal of building a beach house for women, and it is a place full of inspiration and encouragement. But a comment box can only go so far. (in)RL is an opportunity for women everywhere to step through the blog posts and into each others' real lives - on April 26-27 and beyond. More information about (in)RL can be found at www.inrl.us.
Since launching in August 2009, (in)courage has grown from a simple website to a home for thousands of women that features daily encouragement and inspiration from regular contributors, guest posts from the community, a book club, special product offers and a worldwide virtual conference called (in)RL. (in)RL was born out of two years spent listening to women in the comments here at (in)courage craving local, real-life community.
Praise and Coffee | Spring 2013