About the Author

Lisa-Jo is the best-selling author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood. Her newest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them.

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Comments

  1. Community that is up close and personal is vital because I tend to get caught up in things that are emotionally unhealthy; or like recently, sometimes I just can’t get to Jesus on my own. Community is there to pick me up, and carry me to him so that I might have an encounter with Jesus when I can’t do so on my own.

  2. I’ve just recently began a journey to offer friendship to my abusive father. I used to be happy with email . . . which is wonderful . . . but as some of the boundaries I need set in place to feel and remain safe, I realize more than ever that people we can hear, see, hug and smile at (real smiles not the ones we type in 🙂 is so vitally important.

    God gave us the gift of fellowship and in all forms it leaves me in awe of His purpose for it. To comfort, help, aid and support one another.

  3. Community is the place where, when I am feeling lost, I find myself, when I am in the dark, I see the light, when I am feeling confused, I find understanding and when I need a friend…community is always there.

  4. As you said, Lisa-Jo, friendship is so much more than pixels on a screen. While I’ve found so much encouragement from words I’ve read here, I can’t get my fill of friendship here. I need face-to-face relationships where I can receive feedback immediately, where I can give and receive a big hug if needed. I need laughter, I need smiles, I need girl time. And most importantly, I need to look in someone’s eyes and know that they understand where I’m coming from.

  5. This post rings so true!! I really only have thre friends right now, and two of them I am lucky if I see twice a week, so I try to rely on seeing pictures of people online and listening to old voicemail messages to hear voices of real people, but it never feels anywhere close to as good as being with a real person who I can interact with, or at least see “in motion”

  6. I travel a circle of blogs that feed my thinking and bless me, and I am thankful for them, but in recent months have a profound sense of LONELINESS and BEING LEFT OUT as I’ve read of trips to Guatemala, San Antonio, beach parties, Relevant.

    • Hi there – Thank you for sharing your heart with us and I can understand exactly what you mean! I’ve been in that same place myself at times and how I wish I could just make you feel better over a cup of hot tea and shared conversation. I write a lot about this very thing – how blogging can make us feel small and how God wants us to know we are, instead, vital. We are loved, we are costly to Him, and we are always, always included in His house. My prayer for you today is that the Spirit would whisper, “Welcome Home” and that you would feel His arms wrap tight around you and that you would know His is the only place truly worth being invited to. And that there you are a guest of honor!

      With the warmest of wishes,
      Lisa-Jo

    • Just to let Annalea & this sweet Reader know….

      Sometimes you can BE at conference and STILL feel lonely and left out.

      It seems to me nothin’ makes our enemy happier than our own misery or feelings of isolation. Why? Because it subtly takes our eyes of the Prize and fixes them on self. I’m not minimizing those emotional responses to circumstance at all! I’ve felt them! But admitting the grass isn’t always perfectly green on the other side might be a helpful perspective to share.

      That’s why I appreciate Lisa-Jo (and so many) reminding “us” that God KNOWS us and loves us; during those seasons of feeling inadequate I’m often most driven to God. I’ve even wondered if he allows those times so I WILL run to him :). You’d think I would learn by now!

      {{hugs}}

      • I appreciate the responses. Just needed to say it somewhere. I know that I am in a season of profound “left-outedness” due to caregiving, which I feel I am called to at this time and there is great comfort in the knowledge of being where I belong. Still I’ve grown apprehensive at times about opening posts in my reader and finding yet another travelog of happy, hugging people. You all do good work here and I don’t mean to take away from it.

    • I read this and my heart ached … for I know that BEING LEFT OUT. I stood in the beach party room at Relevant and I looked around at everyone else laughing and smiling and sharing moments with friends and I was acutely aware of my aloneness. I was overwhelmed and uncomfortable and felt very small. It hurt … it always does. So I applaud your bravery in sharing how you feel … and know this, even in those feelings of aloneness, you are not alone!!

      • Every time I’m in a group of women I fight those feeling. Every single time. And I’m slowly coming to see their true source. We’re Eve’s daughters and the one who said to her in the Garden, “Did God really say…?” still goes after our hearts.

        Did God really say you’re loved?
        Did God really say you belong here?
        Did God really say you fit in?

        Yes, sweet sisters, YES.

        We’ve got to remember that truth, and remember to pray for each other’s hearts because we all face the same battle, hear the same lies. It’s what makes us feel alone, different…and also what makes us so very much the same.

        I wish I could join Lisa-Jo in taking all of you out for coffee and a long chat today. Wherever you are, I’m praying these words will wrap around your heart and hoping you know how much very much we love you, how deeply we thank God that we get to share this place and our lives with you, how much we ache with your hurts and rejoice with your joys.

        You belong here, right here, with us–now and always.

        • I know this pain, too! You are so brave to share it! I’ve been the new kid on the block more times than I can count, so I know the ACHE of feeling left out. Lisa Jo’s post reminds me that it is important to have flesh-and-blood connections. We need consistent “elbow-to-elbow” moments of sharing with friends and loved ones. So, whether at blogging conferences or my own living room, I pray God sends me the faces He intends me to connect with and build relationships with. I pray this for you right now, too. And since our God has sent you to this (In)Courage community, I trust you are wholeheartedly meant to be a part of it! You are most welcomed (and loved!) here!

      • Teri Lynne,

        See? I WOULDA NEVER GUESSED THAT! But I bet you wouldn’t believe I feel like a fish floppin’ around on dry ground, either.

        Love you. Let’s hug. It does a body good :).

  7. Up close and personal community is vital (to me) because it is through that community where I am encouraged to continue on in Christ when I just want to give up! They are the ones that know me so that when I have a moment (and they can be often lol), they will listen and say, “I know you well enough to know that…” and can see right through to who I truly am – they see my Spirit through my flesh and soul! Up close and personal community is where I am refreshed.

  8. I would absolutely love to go to the conference. I was watching on MomTv and following tweets from Relevant. So glad everyone had a wonderful and refreshing time.

  9. Community that is face-to-face is vital because we as people have a need to be patted on the back, held when crying, roll into each other while laughing and best of all be loved. Technology has helped in so many ways, but in some ways hindered. There is nothing like the human touch.

  10. Jesus is all I need. But He has made Himself known to me many times through His Spirit dwelling in friends and moving them to meet needs in my life, speak words of comfort or conviction and to wrap arms around me that I can feel. I pray that I can, through Him, be all of that to my friends.

  11. Community is so vital because we’re broken without it. There is a pain when you have a burden and there is no one to share it with. Duh, there’s God, but sometimes you just need to pour out your heart to people. What if it seems if all you have is God? Remember. Jesus was a person too. He came down and endured more junk then we’ll ever go through. So whatever you’re going through, Jesus had that on his mind on the cross. Because He cares that much.

  12. I have lived a lot of life disconnected from people because of hurts that happened when I was a child. As an adult most of these feelings have traveled with me. But then I got married and entered into the community that is my church. We are not big or notorious but we are one…we know each other…we bear each others burdens…we support each other and in turn we are able to project His love out to others in our community. What would I have missed if God hadn’t put me in the midst of this community? I don’t even want to think about it…

  13. A fellow blogger (whom I’ve not met in real life–yet!) reminded me that we get to know and form friendships with a limited view of one another. We read each others’ words, but those words have been edited, deleted, well-chosen, intentional. Real life is unedited. The only do-overs we get in real relationships is in seeking forgiveness, extending grace. Living the gospel. We need one another, body and soul, flesh and blood, because that’s the way Jesus came and lived among us. His ministry was incarnational and His desire was for unity among believers. Community is the the messy context for working out that unity.

  14. I have lived most of my life connected, but disconnected. I knew people, had plenty of acquaintances, but didn’t feel anyone really knew me. When I left the Army and later left my running from God behind, instead of gaining a large group of friends, I lost those drinking and clubbing buddies. I thought it was ‘their’ problem. ‘They’ didn’t accept me. But, I think I was hiding behind guilt and sin from my past that kept me from reaching out. ‘They’ wouldn’t like me if they really knew me. ANYWAY, through reading blogs, I have become more open and willing to step out. It is a slow process, but I think it is essential.

  15. When I live a life absent of real community, I find myself weakened. I make more choices out of loniless or pain because I don’t feel that anyone else wants me. Even though I am around people all the time, I have a hard time believing that people could REALLY know me and still love me. I long for that connection of community and am trying to let down the walls and build new relationships.

  16. Community is important to share the word of Jesus. It is also important to have friends so that you are always surrounded with love. The community can bring people together and they can begin to share and care together.

  17. Up close and in person allows and invites eye contact, facial expression, and the chance to reach out and touch. We all know the utter comfort of just a glance between loved ones that speaks volumes. Those looks console us, hold us accountable, tell us we are loved. And hugs from someone who understands — they speak Jesus to me.

  18. I’m a new reader and twitter follower! Community for me is something that I’m just beginning to realize is important. For about a year now, my husband and I have been living in a new small town working with a church, and at first it seemed soooo far from home. As we’ve built relationships and a life here, I’ve realized that God has so many good things to give us by means of new friendships and learning how to adapt older ones that are now a bit further away. God brings us close!

  19. Having an emotional connection with someone (preferably lots of someones) is how your life gets changed! The old saying “you are who you hang out with” is so true because we are so heavily influenced by those around us. Surround yourself with encouraging people that care about you, and you will be encouraged and cared for! 🙂

  20. community that is up-close and person is so vital because sometimes….there just aren’t words…sometimes things need to just be felt and cried over and hugged through and you just need to BE together.

  21. Community is impotant because, as wives and mothers, we are sometimes isolated, focused on our homes, our families… and we need one another to be encouraged, inspired, accepted, loved.

  22. Reading this and other posts like it here, I feel like a kid staring out the closed window watching all the neighboring kids at play, longing to be there with them but for now unable. I at times used to feel the busy, dizziness of too much fellowship, not enough down time. Now I long for it and I miss it and I appreciate so much more and long for the day I can rejoin the dance!! It is life giving, life supporting – no wonder God meant us for community!

  23. I am a stay at home/homeschooling mom to 5 little boys. Community is so important for me… many times I feel isolated and “lose” how I am. community helps me remember! It helps remind me of who I am and that I am not alone in my walk and in my daily life. I have been struggling since our newset one was born and thanks to incourage I have felt like I can be who I am and admit to the struggles that I have without guilt.
    Thank you 🙂

  24. I have met some precious friends through blogs and ministry websites that live all over the world, but there is nothing like a hug, a smile you can experience for yourself in real time and the touch of a friend. There is much to be said for experiencing life together and in person.

    When you are down a virtual hug just doesn’t really help. When you have had the most wonderful experience in your life, but you can’t jump up and down together screaming…it’s just not the same. It’s hard to experience the same thing when you are not in the same place at the same time.
    Danette

  25. community up close and personal is beautiful because you can touch it – see it in it’s natural state – and just allow yourself to be saturated among it. You’re not pretending to read something that isn’t there – or pretending to feel something that isn’t meant for you.

    The bleeding woman didn’t want to watch from a window (or a monitor like me) – she knew just one TOUCH and she would be healed. I want to touch community like that!

    Thank you for even offering to do this.

  26. Community is definitely what we are made for…and I constantly crave it…I live far from my community and the people who know me the best…and while I won’t be here forever, I am longing to just have conversation over a cup of coffee, or lunch…and I would love a chance to go to Birmingham, too! I have friends there :o)
    I am a subscriber, and I follow on twitter and on facebook :o)

    Thank you for this website, because when I am not able to be with my community, I find it online…which is not quite like having people right here, right now, but it is comforting and I learn so much from all the women here :o)

  27. The internet has weaved us together in a way that our mothers could never have imagined. I know my own mother in law has often said “You know, blogs are so amazing. I would have felt so much better about my own motherhood and not nearly so lonely if we had had blogs.” And meeting in real life? Icing on the cake. Not just for those few hours…but the intimate connection you maintain when you get back home.

  28. Community fosters acceptance which says I know your strengths & your weaknesses, but love you just the same. When we see others grapple with the same issues we grapple with, we feel less strange, less alone. This stirs us to help our fellow-strugglers, & shift our focus off ourselves. We become better lovers of God & our neighbors ~ God’s goal for community all along.

  29. Having a community that is up close and in person, to me, allows me to grow and share in my walk and to be REAL. It provides and encourages accountability and shows/displays different perspectives. Having such a community is vital because they are willing to dive into the ugly parts of life with me, to stand shoulder to shoulder when someone is hurting, to share in joys, to plant seeds of faith & knowledge, and to lead by example with a common goal of faith. I would be lost without my community!

  30. Community, I prefer to call it family because as believers we lift each other up. I have new friends and family through the technology we have today, and God is faithful to bring us together; mostly he is faithful to remind us it is because of his grace and unfailing love for us that we are family. May he use and bless your ministry.

  31. Being up close and personal reminds us all, that in the hustle and bustle, that we are not alone. Often times, the madness of life, and the distractions it throws at us, leaves us feeling suffocated and abandoned. Physical interactions, rather than emails or tweets, allow for us to reconnect and ease the soul.

  32. Community is good for the soul. Satan tries to tell us differently – especially when we’ve been deeply hurt by others. However, isolation was never God’s intention and by doing so, our hearts can begin to harden and even die. We need each other – to encourage, to share joys and sorrows, and to just walk this journey of life together. We can do more good for God’s kingdom – together – in community. Yes, community is risky (people can hurt us), but so worth it!

  33. Girl, He hard wired me for community and there is nothing more exciting for me than to be neck and neck with a bunch of my girlfriends! I know that I know that I know that life change happens when we let down the masks and get real with each other. What a fantastic opportunity to see what God has in store next. This weekend I’m bringing 36 of my girlfriends with me to Women of Faith Ft. Lauderdale…woohoo…it’s going to be a great weekend! <3 ya girlie! Mel

  34. I adore my community family! They make me laugh, cry, think, and are so encouraging! How I would love to attend a conference with my sisters in Christ and get to hug and love on them in person!!

  35. I grew up overseas, have lived in many countries, and while I appreciate the vast breadth of friendships and experience the Lord has allowed, nothing fills my soul more than community. Hugs, sitting across the table looking into a friends eyes, hearing their story, nothing replaces as Cisco says “the Human” element and network.

    Thanks for giving tix away, I know the women that attend will be blessed beyond measure and grow even deeper still into a knowledge of Christ and how He longs to have community with us. I hope I’m one that gets to go!

  36. Oh, Lisa-Jo, it has been such a joy to know and love you–in person and across the country. You are such an amazing gift, incredible friend, beautiful fellow traveler on this journey. Thanking God for YOU this morning.

  37. this is for No. 7:

    I hear you, sister. You are not alone in feeling left out. Even though I’ve been to a blog conference, I still feel the sting of missing out. My family can’t afford to send me to all these wonderful events and to watch others get to participate on a regular basis is so hard – especially the Relevant Conference.

    Take heart. The Lord hasn’t forgotten you. You still matter to Him. In the end all this will be as dust ; blogosphere just as a dream.

    Be strong and courageous,

    Monica

  38. Community is SOOO important! I have moved so much in my life, that I too have that longing for other areas of the state and now country as my mom is in Vegas and my favorite Auntie is in Phoenix. I want to be near them so badly, it aches in my heart. I do have good girlfriends though but i must say, I had to stop reading the tweets this weekend while all of you were at relevant10 because I so longed to be there, it hurt. Maybe next time 🙂

  39. I honestly believe that God made us to live in community with each other as believers and when we are doing life alone we will always be miserable.

    I thrive on my time with others and would love the chance to attend this conference.

  40. I think “in person” relationships are so important because they keep you real and honest, they keep you tender, they keep you responding in the real world where you live rather in the “sterile” pretty world of words. Hugs are so much better in the “in person” relationships. When you can not have the “in person” moments, other forms of communication will do, but we can never give up the “in person” community.

    Blessings!

  41. I’ve been in Indiana for the last 10 years. Leaving behind friends and family (like you described in your post) is HARD! I’ve made new friends but that doesn’t mean you forget all the other people you love. Blogging & Facebook has opened a whole new world for me to stay connected. I’d love to meet up with the many sweet ladies I call my internet peeps (IN REAL LIFE!!)! Wow!
    It would put the real into an online relationship!

  42. I am part of an awesome ladies accoutability group at our tiny church. And though we DO hold each other accountable for the things in our life we desire God to change into His image and His purposes and plans….we love each other….so much….we laugh…we cry (LOTS of crying….but it’s “good” crying….we dig deeper into His Word. So when I read today’s message (and the fact that I’ve read Beth Moore and Kay Arther books)…I was so excited to post here (whether or not I win a ticket). I am SOOOOOOO thankful to the Lord for my whole little church…but am especially blessed by my sisters that God has placed in my life…and most definitely in my heart!

  43. After some very hurtful and actually heart-crushing experiences with friends several years ago, I have made it so I have no friends…no chance to get hurt. I have been working on this over the last six to eight months at church, opening up little by little, but still have not taken the step of being “girlfriends” who talk on the phone or do things outside of church. On the internet, I feel invisible most of the time, but really want to reach out to more “sisters”. But no matter what I “tweet” or “blog post”; if noone responds, I take it personally, which I am working on too. I read your posts every day and am so (in)couraged by them in my walk with Christ. So, community is something I long for, especailly with other Christian women. I would love to win this ticket so I could meet all of you whose words help me feel less lonely.

  44. Its so vital because Life falls away, apart, broken and shattered and TOGETHER you have another that knows which pieces go where when putting your thoughts and heart back in place. Being the physical presence of a dear friend allows them to not only whisper the Jesus words of life over you but also to share His hands and touch and wrap you close.

  45. Just last night I spent a couple hours with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. We met at a fast food place, let the kids run around with each other and got to catch up, laugh and encourage one another. As I drove home, I thanked God for friendships, I felt full and reenergized just in simple contact. God created us to thrive off relationships, a relationship with Him and others, He created us knowing we needed connection and I am thankful for the people He has placed to do life with far and near to me.

  46. why community, in person is so vital? hmm… the energy and life of eyes lit up in conversation; how tears can form on the edges barely held back; how face-to-face interaction involves the entire body — you smell one another’s perfume, feel warm bodies close by, that reassuring feeling of hands on your back, arms, and shoulders, the sound of laughter trilling together in pitch and melody.

    When I think of friends in person, I think of warmth, belly-laughs, and the pure joy of memorizing someone else’s face. It’s cozy and imperfect. There is a certain thrill to being close to a person when they’re expressing themselves. This involves all of one’s body, instead of calculated words on a screen (which can be warm and caring in different ways). We experience each other as God made us, which is the best way to experience anything, after all!

    God created us for one another. We were never meant to live in isolation. Intimacy in person is scary, but it is the best kind. We have the unique power to feed and nourish one another from the inside out.

  47. I have been keeping myself isolated from Community lately and I ache for it, but after some events like my divorce, after being torn two that are one to ONE, and with the dramatic, unexpected way my divorce happened, my Community was at a loss for words for me and I for them, so instead of awkwardly muddling through it, I hid from it and I miss it.

  48. I believe community that is up close and in person is vital because it forces us to be more real with each other…there’s a level of accountability there. With online friendships, I can pretend to be whatever or whoever I want you to think I am. I can stay behind a computer screen and write all kinds of clever and encouraging comments on people’s blogs, but if that is ALL I have as far as community, well, I just think it encourages me to “hide”. While we can still “pretend” when we are face to face with others, I think being in community with friends IN PERSON allows us to really look into each other’s eyes and see more of what’s going really on. And when we can do that, we are better able to love on and minister to each other.

  49. A friend the other day shared that her 40th b-day was coming up. After I asked what she was planning to do, she teared up and said, “I don’t know; I don’t have any friends.” I kind of brushed it off and said, “Yes, you do” and then she repeated, “No, I really don’t have any friends.” She started to really choke up. As he lower lip quivered, I immediately wrapped my arms around her and started planning a surprise party for her at her favorite restaurant! She was just expecting me, but a dozen friends showed up with balloons, presents, hugs, smiles, etc. SHE WAS BLOWN AWAY and so blessed!! We all laughed so hard that night and also made some new friends. We were ALL blessed by coming together with our sisters in Christ. There’s something about eating together that creates a family-like atmosphere. We can’t wait to do it again!

  50. I need women to share my laughs and my tears with, someone who can give a hug when needed or someone whose hand I can hold in their time of joy or sorrow.

  51. I have been so blessed by community! We have a very active and close-knit church family, and I have been blown away by how much difference it makes in our lives to be connected to so many people. It helps us grow in all sorts of ways to be with others and to get to know them…I can’t imagine what I’d do without it!

  52. Oh, my, word! It’s gonna be a PARTY! How much do I LOVE that (in)courage is offering this giveaway? A LOT!!

    Off to “like” it in Facebook & tweet it on Twitter.

    (Of course, I’m going, so this isn’t so I can win….it’s to help ten other sistahs!!)

  53. as one who has ALWAYS felt like I am on the outside looking in, community gives me a place to belong, a place to stand shoulder to shoulder with others facing the same day to day trials….to know that there is a safe place to be me (the good, bad and ugly) and that i will be loved, heard and directed to Jesus….with grace. I am not there yet, with community, but it is coming–I feel it 🙂

  54. Community is so important because it’s real. Nothing can replace the time spent, the touch felt and the words shared between friends and family.

  55. Oh YEAH! I’ve had my tickets to Deeper Still for MONTHS now (its within driving distance)…but I am so excited to hear there may be a side informal “bloggers meet and greet”…I’ll be the one with the **BIG** Cup of COFFEE! 😉

  56. I rededicated my life to Christ in August after 12 long years of walking away from His love. Right now most of my friends are still from that 12 year period, and are bitterly agnostic or atheists. I am currently separated from my husband and I cannot tell you the longing I have for a positive community of Christian women to surround me… I have been making a few friends from church but you know those friendships develop slowly. So the (in)courage daily emails are literally one of the things that lift me up every day and help me to keep going, and a weekend with 12,000 other women sounds like the ideal weekend, better than any beach or spa vacation, a vacation for my soul, to love and minister, to be loved and to be ministered to, and to continue to grow in Christ!

  57. I love that we can exist in two communites….here online and in person…and that sometimes the community of online and in person can collide. I have been so thankful for my online community because of the love and support they offer…through emails, skype, blog comments and lots of prayers…. all the wonderfulness of the computer comes down to that community. And my people in real life…They have helped carry my burdens, loved me, hugged me, and just sat with me holding my hand. I am so glad God made us to be relational and the beautiful people he has brought into my life!

  58. Community – a group of god loving, god fearing women who seek accountability from their true friends, who know each others secrets, fears and dreams. When to encourage, when to strengthen, when to listen, when to cry, when to intercede and when to pray. These women are a “gift” God has given me.

  59. Thank you for your words, Lisa-Jo.

    Community is important because it refreshes a weary soul. I know I need that time away with others who can love on me while I give love back. I need others who understand needing a break from the kids whom I love so much…who understand the guilt I feel sometimes for acknowledging that I need the break.

    I would’ve loved to attended Relevant10–maybe next year–but would be thrilled at the opportunity to meet other kindred spirits at the Deeper Still Conference. Yea for driving distance! I currently follow (in)courage on twitter.

  60. If not for my Christian Community lifting me up I’d be still stuck in the mire, lost in despair. I know personally how important it is to be surrounded by people who know the Lord, and have the gift of encouragement, and who actually actively, purposely seek to reach out and be the hands, feet, and voice of Christ. I was married 30 years when divorce devastated my world. It’s been 2 years now, and I am walking, , breathing proof that Love heals and holds us dear. I’d love to attend this conference. Financial issues prevent my attending the grocery store these days, and much less am I able to pay to attend such a wonderful event. I love Holly Gerth and know her work from Blessings Unlimited, and inCourage certainly encourages me from my inbox on a consistent basis! This is a beautiful ministry that has blessed me and raised me up!! Thank you ladies!

  61. That personal community tends to be more of an encouragement than folks give credit for. Building online relationships is fun, but not necessarily natural for all of us. To know people face to face lends a deeper intensity to a friendship, and brings about a more personal way of relating. We often walk into a conference with a multitude of acquaintances, and it stands to reason we will make more casual acquaintances, but if we are blessed, we get that face time with just a person or two, and the seed of acquaintance blossoms into the bloom of friendship.

  62. Community that is up close and personal doesn’t allow for “How are you?” “I’m fine” conversations. It requires us to open our hearts and lives to one another – it is too easy in our busy, techno lives to become isolated from others. We need each other. We need relationships. I need others. I need relationships.

  63. Being a military wife who is constantly moving and trying to make new friends, the on-line world gives me “friends” that move with me wherever we go. I need the encouragement of other moms who are making the difficult choices to do whatever it is that God has called them to do. We each have our own calling, but knowing others are doing hard things makes it easier to remember that God will never leave me nor forsake me – even when He asks me to do something no one else I know is being asked to do. Sometimes a hug would be great, but sometimes words of encouragment have to do and they can do very well!

  64. It is so true that no man is an island no one lives unto themselves. God created us with this need of community. God saw the need in community when He created Eve. It is not good for man to be alone.
    As an island touches water and water also touches other land so our lives lap up against many others. We are forever changed by the process of others lapping up against our shores. We become eroded with the love and care of others and the words and actions they convey to us forever change the persons we are or will become. Unlike a beach though that erosion washes away and it becomes useless we become a better more useful person to the community of believers when we have been washed by the waters of God’s love shown most commonly by the tide of love by the community of believers in Christs sacrificial love for us.

  65. I think it’s so sad that things aren’t the same as they were years ago. Years ago, even though I grew up in Philly, which is an extremely dangerous city esp. now, we used to be outside hanging wash and we’d be able to talk to each other over the small fence that separated our yards. We used to spend time at night sitting out on our front porch and fellowshipping with one another. Now, no one cares about anyone anymore. The fences are so high that you can’t even see over them. If someone sees someone being hurt, no one wants to get involved. People just don’t care about others like they used to. Everything is computerized and totally non personal anymore. Text messages, e-mails all have their place, but we need to see each other face to face sometimes and hear what’s really in each others hearts and how each other are hurting. We need to turn off the gadgets and spend quality time listening to one another, crying with each other, praying with each other, laughing with each other. Getting more personally involved with each other the way God meant for it to be in the first place. Having contact with a few of the women in my church has helped me a lot. Even though it’s mostly been over the phone. Some of them spent personal time coming over to help me clean up my house when children and youth threatened to take away my daughter because of the condition of my house from medicine I was taking that made me so I couldn’t take care of things myself. Some have helped in other ways through the years. I needed that personal connection with women since I didn’t get it from my own mother growing up. Every woman needs other healthy female relationships in order to grow into a proper woman esp from godly women.

  66. Just wanted to make one more comment and I’ll try to make this one shorter than the last I promise. The Bible says that the younger are to learn from the older. How can we do this when no one pays attention anymore. Kids are in public school for 8 hrs a day. The come home and spend all their time on video games. Families don’t pray together anymore or have devotions together. Kids are shoved off and when they come home many times there is no one there to greet them because one or both of the parents (if it is actually a 2 parent home anymore which is rare) are out working and no one pays any attention to what the kids are getting in to. At church, we are so good at lying about how we are actually doing because we have been raised to believe that you don’t need to air your dirty laundry so to speak. So when someone asks us, “How are you today?” We put on a fake smile and say “fine”. When in fact, we are really hurting inside crying out for someone to care but everyone is too busy with their lives and the day to day routine to have time to care. Even if you wanted to tell them, would they have the time to truly listen without cell phones going off or other things happening. If then would they truly listen or would their minds be elsewhere while you are talking? So sad what the world has come to. Technology was supposed to make our lives easier but it has taken away from the personaialzation of everything. Things are actually more complicated and people are running just as fast if not faster than before. There is no one who truly listens to the teens who are crying out for attention form their parent (s) and then we wonder why they get involved with gangs etc. The gang members listen to each other and take a personal interest in each other that’s why they are gaining in popularity. Anyway, I guess I’ve said enough now. Hope I’ll be entered to win. Thanks for listening.

  67. Hi I am a new reader of incourage. My husband and I recently have left the congregation we have been with since its birth. We are heartbroken to leave the community that our children knew so well and we spent so much energy investing in. Because of circumstance beyond our control we felt God calling us out… but now we are starting over and we feel the loss of the community we had come to depend on. We have found that community through other friendships. We are so grateful for these. We sense the need for a stable community for our children and are eagerly anticipating God bringing something even greater then we could imagine. I am thankful for the ways God continues to provide for us as we follow his lead! Community is essential for growth. People who encourage, speak into, give, hug, lean on, laugh with, pray for, and know deeply, are the core of sister/brotherhood that God wants for all his children.

  68. As a person who is by nature, independent, I can say that community is vital. i tend to be a loner. In doing so, it is easy to become self centered and enjoy my isolation. I need good friends to hold me accountable and encourage me in my walk. I have found that I invest in a few people but I invest deeply. It is necessary to me that I make time for my friends. It stretches me and helps me see how I can reach out and serve others.

  69. Upclose & personal community is Jesus…it is how He did life, it is how he called us to live life. Without it, life feels empty & incomplete. With it, you sense Jesus right in the middle – life is full and vibrant, blessed by the women who walk closely with you, who know you in and out, who challenge and encourage you. I have recently moved and miss this upclose & personal community…I am thankful for in recent days God has blessed me with a new friendship who really cares and wants to be apart of my life! I love that Jesus was all about relationships…it is brilliant!

  70. Community that is up close and in person is so vital to me because where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His Name (Jesus) He is in the midst. I can feel His presences and see His power move, bless , and deliver my sista’s and myself . Being able to physically touch a person and share in their pain and triump is awesome. That is something i have not experience just reading encouraging words. And yes some do leave out the same way they came in unfortunately but the opportunity is there for miricles, signs and wonders for us to receive. Let us b open to receive.

  71. This post really resonated with me. As a part of my church’s women’s leadership team God has really been stirring my heart to see the women of our church truly connect more and build meaningful relationships. As women we carry so much of a burden for our husbands, our children, our work, our ministries, our friends, and extended family; and that is why it is so crucial that we find ways to really get connected with other women who can share our burdens in prayer, encourage each other, and be a shoulder to cry on. I would so love to attend this conference! I am so blessed by incourage and a few other Christian women websites that allow us the opportunity to lift one another up as women! Thank you incourage for all that you do to build up and encourage women, because we need it!
    God bless 🙂

  72. I’m relatively new to blogging, but it has been such an amazing process. I never would have thought that I would intensely feel and desire relationships with people that I have only met in Blogland. It amazes me (although it shouldn’t) that God has the power to knit people together in His name and for His glory no matter how far flung apart they are.

  73. I {honestly} feel like a got a glimpse of what heaven will be like at Relevant this weekend. The genuine camraderie, the palpable presence of our God…it was amazing and I believe that is what God intended authentic community to feel like!

    • I couldn’t agree with you more, my precious roomie and friend! The Relevant community was so much more than just a list of attendees – we were all FAMILY when we showed up there – no strangers, just true friends and sisters in Christ! <3

  74. This weekend at #Relevant10 (i just can’t give up the hashtag) I was so excited to not be the only one in a room who knew what the word ‘blog’ meant. Instead of getting weird looks when I said “I blog at…” it was just an understood…equal to “I’m a girl, or I have three kids.” It was just informative.

    I love that.

    Jesus is the thread that ties us together and blogging is how he is weaving our tapestry.
    Love it!
    and I would *heart* going to Birmingham…um yeah.. *double heart*

  75. We woman need to have a community of women to support us, encourage us, lift us up when we’ve fallen. That sometimes need to happen face to face. Consider this a large front-porch, dropping by for a glass of sweet tea conference!

  76. I’ve found that face to face discussions are so much more meaningful than any other type of communication. When I make relationships a priority, God often teaches me new things I couldn’t have learned on my own. I’ve learned some of my spiritual gifts while talking to new friends, like exhortation and encouragement. It is definitely vital to our spiritual growth to have honest, soul bearing conversations with people. Thank you incourage ladies for connecting the online world with the real world and giving us the opportunity to make new lasting relationships. As the blog post mentions, “loneliness is an aching, breaking part of our hearts”. Thank you for giving your readers a chance to live “inside, not alongside” each others lives.

  77. I need in-peron, up-close community because sometimes there aren’t words that can express but just the “being” there or a look or a touch can say “I understand” or “I know something is off but you don’t have to be able to say it because I’m here and I get it anyway”

  78. Though we can be heart-to-heart friends for a long time before we become face-to-face friends, it is in that moment that arms encircle and hearts beat close together that the joy of connectedness explodes. And so, while I treasure the community and depth of encouragement and grace and challenge and inspiration I have found online, I know now – after experiencing those same things with these URL friends IRL – that the living community around me is infinitely more beautiful and deep and rich and powerful … and I so I come home from Relevant reminded to live fully with these people here in my home, in my church, and in my community so that I never lose sight of what a precious gift they are. As much as I love ((hugs)), it is those friends who are HERE who drop by with chicken soup when I am sick, who pray with me at church, who cheer with me on the sidelines of the soccer field … those are precious friendships indeed. Community online is wonderful and a precious gift … but it must not, can not, dare not, take the place of the community we have around us each and every day.

  79. living in sunny california, i wear sunglasses. a lot. when my husband talks to me he always says, “take off your glasses so i can see you.” and i think this is how it is with community. having someone see you for who you are, encourage you, validate you and sometimes even say things that you don’t want to hear but are needed for the moment are vital.

    while we share pieces of who we are online, we are not our blogs.

  80. I am trying to find a way to have more community in my life so it works with-out quilt! Why do I feel guilty for having something for myself? I so need me time. I am currently taking care of my parents and a son with autism. I am trying to connect with God more deeply and I do not know how. I need to have things in my life that are mine. Maybe mine to share, but when I want. To laugh with the girls when I want and not have to explain to people when and where I am. To splash my feet in the water and dig my toes in the sand. To tell God I am happy and mean it. I don’t want for big things. Simple pleasures is all I ask. Just peace with out the quilt. I want this for my friends too who are dealing with balance and family now also. Why is it so hard?
    Thank you for a chance at something so special. I love your blog and come here for inspiration! ((hugs))

  81. A text, phone call, or email just won’t do it! I need to be able to see their faces. Especially because body language is like 80% of what we do not say. I want to see my friend’s smile, hold their hand to pray, split a dessert, or wipe a tear away. Hanging with my girlfriends or another family to me is like putting gas in your car…we need it!

  82. One of the few times that I have felt completely at home away from home was at Bible College. I felt a sort of kin with all of those other peers that wanted to be missionaries and pastors in a way that I never had before. This is what I imagine when I think of a conference full of women who love the Lord. xo

  83. I believe it is important to get in touch with my community because God constantly brings me people. People I can share His love with. People I can reach out and touch. People I can connect with. People I realize are put there to specifically answer my prayers to serve Him. People that help me learn God’s plan through boldly joining their hands with His.

    I feel God has chosen me to be an ambassador for my community as I am constantly being given the opportunity to make new friends and lead searching souls to Christ. At the request of my friends and neighbors, I am currently in the process of beginning my first Bible Study ministry. Once word gets out, I have a feeling God is going to bring me so many more people it will soon outgrow my humble abode 🙂 What an exciting feeling it is to be chosen for such a meaningful and fulfilling purpose.

    About 2 years ago I left my home after several years of domestic violence. I stayed in shelters and bounced around on friend’s couches for a while and eventually ended up in a new community with my own beautiful place. When I got here I knew no one, had no money, no job, no cable, no internet, no phone. I was surrounded with boxes and silence.

    For about a minute I was sad and lonely and had a really weird feeling. I had asked for this and through His grace and ineffable mercy, God had answered my prayers. So why did I feel disjointed? Why did I feel like a stranger in a strange land? Why didn’t I feel peaceful? No one would bother me here. I could breath here. I had privacy and anonymity here. But what was my purpose here? Why did I feel as though someone had picked me up and placed me down in the middle of nowhere?

    So I asked God, and He chuckled and said…”Because somebody did, my precious child. I put you here. Rest. Heal. Breath. Sit with me for a while and I will show you even more things you never imagined possible. Let’s get to know each other better. Just you and I”.

    A smile spread over my face and my entire being was filled with joy. I belonged here. God did this. He rescued me from the pits of hell and put me in this beautiful place to heal. Without distraction. Without conflict. With nothing I didn’t need and everything I did. All I needed was Him. Throughout this entire process I was studying the book of Exodus in my BSF class and had felt much like the Israelites during their Exodus from Egypt. I felt like I was walking hand in hand with God through the whole thing and getting to experience first hand what it must have been like for the Israelites. It kept me going because I knew God’s plan for them. I knew he would not fail me or abandon me. I trusted him wholeheartedly and refused to fear, doubt or worry. My spirit was broken and I had given up everything to God. So I asked God to give me the opportunity to serve Him by teaching others what I have learned from a horrible experience and turn it into something Good. Good News.

    I know He’s right here with me always. He prepared this perfect place for me (Psalm 23) and presented me with all of the new opportunities I had been praying for. He brought me people. Lots of people. A whole new diverse community of people. And not just any kind of people. People who are in pain and searching. People who feel like I used to feel. Lost, hopeless and alone. Desperate for love and affection. Thirsting for living water and the bread of life. Seeking hearts await! And now I can share His love through my experiences. I can truly feel I am his humble servant. Doing His will and following His plan for my life. A plan He continues to reveal to me through my community.

  84. Honestly? Sometimes my “IRL” friends let me down so much that I turn to my on-line friends for support more often. I am conflicted about that. But I’d sure love a chance to hang out with those bloggy friends for a weekend!

  85. Busyness. I am learning that being busy is our excuse for not connecting with others. I am learning that we chose to absorb our world into our immediate family and not look to others (except to look down upon them, of course). Making the choice to open yourself is hard, opening your home even when those that come are not the nicest is hard. But, I choose to do so. The conference is in my backyard, what a wonderful opportunity to attend. Thanks for your obedience.

  86. Face to face time is critical! I’m a touchy feely hands on person. It’s so hard to engage with someone when you can’t see their expressions and touch their shoulder and laugh together while breathing the same air. The internet is a wonderful way to interact, but it can never replace face time!

  87. I love getting to meet my bloggy friends up close and personal because they have always been there for me and never seem to judge me and just getting to meet them in real life has always been a blessing. I’ve never been let down when meeting them-never……..

  88. We can chat online, tweet back and forth, and follow each other’s lives on facebook, and through all of those things, we can truly get to know each other and love each other. But being able to wrap my arms around some precious soul who has invested in me, and I in her, is absolutely priceless! Face to face, heart to heart. Priceless indeed.

    How sweet it was to love on many of you beautiful ladies this past weekend as well! 😉

  89. Beth Moore brought two of my now closest girlfriends together. They know just about everything there is to know about me and I bet, me of them also. We share all of our ‘ugly’ with each other and then pray it out of us! We have seen so much mess turn out beautifully and so much shame turn out gracefully! We’re still working on it, but I’d love for us to be able to attend this conference together to learn more together! To learn to be better wives and mothers!

  90. What can I say….. the women on here being vulnerable have helped me to be more gracious towards myself and others. Its so easy to close off from the world and close your heart so you don’t get hurt. Community is so important to me because it helps me to grow.I need their grace when I’m a stinker because it gives me a picture of Gods grace. My friends with rough edges sharpen me. I need to drink tea and laugh with them. Im learning they need me too. I don’t always need to be the encourager but sometimes need to be encouraged.
    Why would I want to go to the conference?….Im learning to love that Im a woman and celebrating that with the girls would be alot of fun.
    In his GRACE,
    Shellbell

  91. Being in a season of isolation due to a disabling condition and becoming an empty nesting mom of a son, I have come to experience the depths of despair and loneliness that I could never have imagined in my previously hard, rewarding full of life seasons. What I am learning is that Jesus is here too, a husband who is able to bring contentment, joy, hope and purpose. In this culture where we tend to disconnect or discard those who aren’t active participants in our circles of activities, this community has become a place where my heart is fed with beauty, wonder, and encouragement from the hearts of women, like me. Being a part of up close and personal community, Jesus with skin on, has always been the experience of love in my life.

  92. Oh Community, I am who I am because of deep, abiding, loving community. First found in Louisville, Kentucky at Sojourn Church. They have ingrained that WE are the BODY, and we HELP each other out. Now, it’s like breathing. I need all kinds of organs to do it, and live. I am SO THANKFUL for my community, that even now, states away from this place, I was able to incubate there, and create COMMUNITY here. Thank you Lord for the rough edges that have been rubbed away by community. Thank you friends for being the community that mirrors Christ. And I am thankful that I am part of community.

  93. Technology has stolen that community, and we’ve all allowed it. I too LOVE that one-on-one, hang out, get personal time with others. God made us that way; He made us to crave relationships. I have to work to protect that personal time.

  94. I moved to our current city 17 months ago after living no more than 1 hour from the place I had lived my entire life. We are now 13 hours from all our family and all the friends we had made over our 35 years of life. The first social gathering I attended here was a MOPS meeting, because I needed desperately to bond with women who understood my need for a moment of clarity away from my then one-year old twin daughters.
    The weeks before our move, I had started to pray fervently for God to surround me with friends who knew and loved Him. As always, he exceeds any pitiful request I ask of Him. The day of the MOPS meeting, stumbling in with two sweet babies and all my “equipment” , I met Nickie. She graciously offered to lead the way to mommy time and invited me to sit at her table. This was the first act of God’s great agape love I have learned that comes through relationship with our friends. The weeks and months after, I came to know a group of the most godly women who have continually poured out love and friendship at a time and place that could have been very desolate for me.
    As I continually keep in touch with old friends and family via technology, there is NOTHING, that replaces the compassion and mercy shown through the touch and actions of people who do so sacrificially. I cannot express to these ladies in human words of how blessed and honored I am that God placed each one in exactly the right place at the right time. God provides what we need for every season in our life, and I’m amazed beyond belief at His provision of my new sisters who will walk with me through this season in mine!

  95. We need other women to lift us up. To know we are not alone in our struggles, worries, convictions, etc. I would love to go to this conference. So exciting this will be in my town!

  96. I need an upclose and personal community of women to encourage me, inspire me, keep me accountable and laugh with me. Community helps me to grow. We are called to do what the early church did – live together in biblical community, sharing what we have. Sharing our hearts. Thanks for this lovely post!

  97. After reading some heartfelt comments, I think it’s ever more apparent the need for community like we’re talking about. We need to come along each other to let us know we’re not alone; to speak courage to each other; to point us back to Jesus and His Truth. We need each other to remind us to stand firm, resisting the enemy, to share in our struggles and to rejoice together. He’s given us so much in the Body of Christ. Bless you, sweet sisters. You are not alone. And I’m telling that to myself as much as to the rest of you.

  98. Putting names and faces together allows me to hear online friends’ voices when I read their postings. The hugs from a short face to face meeting last until the next meeting. The face to face visits give a relationship a strong foundation and roots. We can grow from a distance but when we are face to face it allows us to ensure that we are growing together in a positive and healthy direction.

  99. Nobody is meant to live in isolation. We were created, from the beginning of time, to live in relationship (e.g. Adam and Eve). I think the entrance of sin in the world only furthers our need for relationships.

    In Scripture, we are compared to salt and light … one grain of salt won’t do much, nor will one small light in a world of darkness. We are weak alone, but together, we are strong. Together, we can accomplish the great tasks God has called us to do.

    I know that when I lack relationships, I am (even more) prone to selfishness and sinfulness. When I have a community with which to be vulnerable and accountable, it is much harder to sink into sin. True community works together to build and restore, to sharpen, to bear the burdens of this life.

    I’d be lost without it.

  100. God designed us for relationships. Relationships with him and with eachother. Our marriages, families, and friendships are pictures of His relationship with the Son and the Holy Spirit. Internet community is nice, it’s an easy way to stay connected, but it can also make you feel isolated. You can’t see eachother cry, give eachother a hug, or see the beam of a smile through the computer screen, words or pictures. Relationships also need to be hands on, God’s love touching us on earth.

  101. Hugs. plain and simple. Women were made to touch. Our bodies respond to the touches of our friends, families, our children, different than men do. When I married I moved from OH to AK. My family is big and social. I didn’t know how much I would miss that. When I first came here the friends I made were already friends of my husband, no one that was really a “girlfriend”. I kept in touch with may family and my best friend (who lives in TN) through phone and e-mail. Thank God for that lovely invention, Facebook. It was almost 5 yrs, the passing of my mom and my father-in-law, 2 children, a change in churches, the death of my husband’s grandparents (whom I loved like my own), and nearly a nervous breakdown that I made my own girlfriends. It has made the world of difference. Girls that I laugh with, love with. We found out that other moms were having the same experiences of doubt and wonder. We became community. And the hugs. Hugs that say “I love you”, “I understand”, “Thank you”, reaffirming our belief in God and each other.

  102. Sometimes I struggle getting involved with others, because of this I know exactly how important it is to surround yourself with a community of believers. They are there for you when you feel like you cannot stand alone for one more minute.
    I live about 30 minutes from Birmingham and have never been to a conference like this, I would love the opportunity!! I’m so excited to get the chance to win!

  103. There are so many things I love about this site…it reminds me so much of the Moms’ group I am blessed to be part of…we are all so different, but united in the sisterhood of Christ…sometimes motherhood…sometimes marriage…sometimes womanhood… Our stories are often different meals with the same spice sprinkled on. There is enough to share, new things to munch on, leftover to ponder later. Hmm. I really do like food, which leads me to another point… incourage is so very welcoming and friendly and relational.. and tasty?. What a blessing and a service!

  104. Lisa-Jo, your words stir me! I said an ethusiastic internal “Amen” after every sentence. This is SO what I long for, exactly what my heart desperately needs. Up-close community allows you to be seen and heard in a way that social media tools, albeit fantastic, just can’t do. It’s more about a new profile pic and even, heartfelt eloquent words on the screen. It’s looking into someone’s eyes, holding their hand, laughing out loud together. It’s that look in a friend’s eye that makes you ask, “How are you REALLY doing?” and your in-real-life arms to fall into when that friend just needs to be held and cried. I pray that I’m one of the lucky ten that get to join you at this conference! But whomever gets to go I know they will be eternally blessed.

  105. Community that is up close and personal is important and vital to me because of the fast paced world we live in. Sure you can “talk” to your family and friends via Twitter, Facebook, email, and cell phones. That is just not the the same as hugging their necks, wiping their tears, laughing with them, celebrating a wedding, and a hundred other things. My friends and close family get me through a life that most would say is difficult. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness when I was 24, then when I was 47 I was in an accident and suffered a permant & disabling closed head injury. I have learned to adjust, I go to lunch, I volunteer, I travel. I help those I love and they help me. Amazingly I add more people to that list of those I love each year. I am a blessed person in many ways. I would love to add the blessing of attending the Deeper Still Conference to my blessing book for 2010.

  106. Up close and personal you can experience eachother’s joy and sadness in warm embraces and excited high-fives… it’s just not quite the same through words on a screen.

  107. I am so thankful for the “communites” I have in my life. Each brings its own joys and support systems, and each serves vitally important roles in keeping me sane, happy, inspired, loved, loving, and always laughing. I think, in the end, it really is community that makes us who we are. It is the people we have beside us (literally and figuratively) that enrich this life and help us live it to the full.

    It truly matters to have people around us that “KNOW us know us” – and knowing we’re known is invaluable – you know? 🙂

    Community is irreplaceable and my thankfulness to the Lord for the friendships He has given me in this life could never be adequately described in words. Community can really only be described in moments shared. Standing as a bridesmaid with 3 of my old college roommates as we watch our 4th housemate get married. Helping lead a college Bible study with a group of girls who inspire me WAY more than I could ever hope to inspire them. Emailing back and forth with a sweet friend whose neck I’ve only hugged once, but who – through the amazingness that is this crazy blogging/twitter world – knows me better than almost anyone in this currrent season of life. The comprehensive list definitely could not be contained to 140 characters.

    Community definitely looks different today than it did for our mothers and grandmothers….I am pretty sure my grandmother and her little bridge club friends aren’t sending one another @ replies. 🙂 But I’m pretty sure if you had them write down what community has meant to them throughout the years, their answers would be strikingly similar to those expressed here.

    Up close and in person communty is the common tie that binds us. It’s important beyond belief. It’s a gift and a priviledge, and in the end it’s the hugs and emails and minute-eating cell phone chats…the long, loud talks on couches and rocking chairs…. the random funny texts about everything and/or nothing…the tears and laughs and all the rest that are truly the fuel that takes us through all the many ups and downs of this crazy, amazing life.

  108. Community that is up close and person keeps you from hiding in your sin and the denial this hiding can bring. God has used community around me to give my the strength and courage to break off an engagement with a wedding less than a month away. It is only through community that were are able to be real with our struggles, dreams, fears and deepest needs. We are able to be broken and despaired yet carried on a stretcher to the feet of the Savior.

  109. I think that community is so important because when everyone else and everything in your life changes, community is all you have left. A community of believers that will hold you up when you cant stand on your own, when you cant breath because life is so difficult, and when you cant see where God is when all you see in front of you is the brokeness of your life, through a separation, a divorce, or a death. Community is all i have left in the world and i could not stand without those gathering me up in there arms and lending me there strength to keep going when my world as i knew it fell to pieces! That is why community is so important to me!

  110. Community. Sometimes I wish I lived 200 years ago when community was automatically those you lived nearest. Not currently living near family, it’s become more and more important to me that you must work – hard! – to create/make time/foster connections. God created us for community–God himself exists in community! It’s an essential piece of our humanity. Community helps keep me upbeat, as well as getting my mind of my petty issues.

  111. Community is best face-to-face, arm-in-arm, shoulder-to-shoulder, eye-to-eye! I don’t even like to use the telephone. I wish I could have the kind of “let’s have coffee in my kitchen” time that my mother had so frequently. Life is just not the same as it was then. But hearing someone’s voice just doesn’t do it for me. I want to see what is in my friend’s eyes, be they shining with tears of sorrow or tears of joy. I want to see her expressions, her body language. I want to be able to hold, hug or just touch her hand if she needs me to. I want to be physically THERE with every fiber of my being, with every bit of my attention focused only on her, and me, and us. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could do that on a regular basis? But it’s just not always possible. And so we settle for the phone, or for email, or facebook, or a quick text ~ until the next time we can be really together in the same physical space, which is all the sweeter because of the wait.

  112. Community reminds me that my salvation is not about me. God’s grace and mercy are made to flow through me and on to those around me. It reminds me that I am to serve others with joy and gratitude. It reminds me that I am never alone.

  113. I feel: Skin-lived community touched by face-to-face relationships was most importantly exhibited by One who came down from on high in His skin-wrapped Son. No longer just a prophetic scripture but an Adam in flesh. In the same way I feel, our person needs to be with others in person and to grow deeply in community. Computer screens, social media, phone calls, don’t replace these live-in-flesh bodies meant to connect. If we’re made in His image and He desires to walk among us, then our desire for community is Divinely inspired. And no wonder the depth of it touches our hearts, the very touch of Him.

  114. Up close and personal community is vital because it requires us to be authentic. COMPLETELY AUTHENTIC. This includes morning breath, burnt toast and maybe even an occasional opps-forgot-to-buy-the-milk moment, This vulnerable community is valuable because it reminds us of Jesus’ love- because people are able to show us his forgiveness, grace and mercy.

  115. Sometimes it’s an ugent need other times it’s an ache. I need to talk to my girlfriends. They will understand. People pulling at me all day, babies screaming, frustration with other relationships, confusion, whatever it is. My friends always understand. They may not tell me what I want to hear, but I know they understand. They have been there and have lived to tell about it. And that is what community is for me. An understanding ear.

  116. You expressed so well how a real community feels. 🙂

    It’s fun and sometimes necessary to interact virtually, but virtual doesn’t ever take the place of real, live, breathing, laughing, sighing friends and family. There is no way to truly know one another unless we walk through life together; it’s easy to hide behind typed words, and it’s easy to know if someone isn’t really OK when you’re standing beside her, because you’ve stood beside her often enough to recognize the difference between OK and Not Quite OK.
    And besides, computers can’t hug.

  117. There is an unseen transaction that takes place in community in person. It’s deeply spiritual. Its an encounter of the soul. A moving of the heart. When two people exchange voice and vision, bonds are formed and memories are crafted. Embedded in our lives with feelings that run deep, distinct with a myriad of details forever marking that encounter with subtleties that our brains intelligently store away for a rainy day. A smell, a certain breeze, a particular color, a star-blanketed midnight sky, a specialty drink order called out by the barista at Starbucks – each one beckoning us back to a time or a place where we encountered it: our beloved. Community. Pixels and characters satisfy our momentary hunger for it, but they cannot replace a shoulder to cry on, a soul-gazing stare, a compassionate hug or the delightful fragrance of a best friends new perfume. Cooking together, laughing together, crying together, life – together, is by far enriched by our communication and our community, in person.

    I’m Jenn Hudson, new reader to the (in)courge blog, but friend to (in)courage tweets. I live in Montgomery, Alabama – just an hour and a half from Birmingham and have been longing for a women’s conference this year, and would love to take a van load of my besties to this awesome community experience! *pick me* =)

  118. I believe it is vital to get in touch with my community up close and personal because God constantly brings me people. People I can share His love with. People I can reach out and touch. People I can connect with. People I realize are put there to specifically answer my prayers to serve Him. People that help me learn God’s plan through boldly joining their hands with His.

    I feel God has chosen me to be an ambassador for my community as I am constantly being given the opportunity to make new friends and lead searching souls to Christ. At the request of my friends and neighbors, I am currently in the process of beginning my first Bible Study ministry. Once word gets out, I have a feeling God is going to bring me so many more people it will soon outgrow my humble abode 🙂 What an exciting feeling it is to be chosen for such a meaningful and fulfilling purpose.

    Here’s a little back story on how I arrived in my new community. About 2 years ago I left my home after enduring several years of domestic violence. I stayed in shelters and bounced around on friend’s couches for a while and eventually ended up in a new community far away with my own beautiful place. When I got here I knew no one, had no money, no job, no cable, no internet, no phone, no mail. I was surrounded with boxes and silence.

    For about a minute I was sad and lonely and had a really weird feeling. I had asked for this and through His grace and ineffable mercy, God had answered my prayers. So why did I feel disjointed? Why did I feel like a stranger in a strange land? Why didn’t I feel peaceful? No one would bother me here. I could breath here. I had privacy and anonymity here. But what was my purpose here? Why did I feel as though someone had picked me up and placed me down in the middle of nowhere?

    So I asked God. He chuckled and said…”Because somebody did, my precious child. I put you here. Rest. Heal. Breath. Sit with me for a while and I will show you even more things you never imagined possible. Let’s get to know each other better. Just you and I”.

    A smile spread over my face and my entire being was filled with joy. I belonged here. God did this. He rescued me from the pits of hell and put me in this beautiful place to heal. Without distraction. Without conflict. With nothing I didn’t need and everything I did. All I needed was Him and His direction. Throughout the entire process of leaving my home and finding a new one, I was studying the book of Exodus in my BSF class and had felt much like the Israelites during their Exodus from Egypt. I felt like I was walking hand in hand with God through the whole thing and getting to experience first hand what it must have been like for them. It kept me going because I knew God’s plan for them. I knew He would never break His promises to me and that He would protect me. I knew I had to be patient and I realized that He brought me close to feel His pain so I could truly understand where He was coming from. So I could understand how He could understand me…us…everyone. If He could endure the cross, I could endure anything. And if a little bit of pain and suffering brought me to this new place of understanding and unconditional love, I would welcome the pain next time something stung or hurt or someone tried to crush me. I would laugh and wink at my new best friend because I know together we are unstoppable. (Proverbs 31:25)

    I knew he would not fail me or abandon me. I trusted him wholeheartedly and refused to fear, doubt or worry. My spirit was broken and I had given up everything to God. So I asked God to give me the opportunity to serve Him by teaching others what I have learned from a horrible experience and turn it into something Good. Good News.

    Well, once again God answered my prayers. Turns out even though I can’t find a good job to save my life, God is looking for a few good men and women to work for Him. I realized He prepared this perfect place for me (Psalm 23) and gave me plenty of time to work on all of the new opportunities He had in store for me. Oh, He brought me people. Lots of people. A whole new diverse community of people. And not just any kind of people. People who are in pain and searching for relief. Not people that are rocky soil that I have to crack open – people who feel like I used to feel. Lost, hopeless and alone. Desperate for love and affection. Thirsting for living water and the bread of life. Seeking hearts await! And now I can share my heart and God’s love through my experiences. I can truly feel I am his humble servant. Doing His will and following His plan for my life. A plan He continues to reveal to me – up close and personal – through my community.

  119. Community. It is biblical. rich. messy. God honoring. God glorifying. \”bear one another\’s burdens\” , \”forgive each other and Chris has forgiven you\”, \”confess your sins to one another\”- how do these things happens when confined to over seas emails and comments limited to 200 characters on FB? they do not. Authentic church bodies are hard to find overseas in the military. We move every two and half to three years. The military chapel is a military service funded my a federal government- it is not a church. There is a rest found in biblical community that is not found outside of it. It is this life changing, world reaching, spirit feeding community that I miss and love. the kind that neighbors watch in my home and wonder \”Why?\” The kind that allows me to be me- messy, sinful, not always together BUT a sinner saved by the same grace that everyone else in this world wide community is saved by- the grace of God who has transferred us into His world wide community- His Kingdom.

  120. Community is special to me because I have often lived far away from my family and I’m raising 6 children. I need other Godly women in my life to encourage and be encouraged. I need to laugh because it’s such good medicine!

  121. I thrive in a community up close and personal. Moving to a new home 1000 miles away from where I was born and raise was a challenge and a blessing. It took me a year to find the community of godly women and men whom I now call “family”. I wandered a lonely path until they welcomed me into their embrace and now I strive to welcome others to our community. They introduced me to Beth Moore. They have changed my life, my daughter’s life, my niece’s life, and my mom’s life for the better. Praise God for bringing me to them!

  122. There are so many things that community has brought into my life through the years. In different seasons, God has generously used it to provide me with different gifts that fulfilled certain longings of my heart. When it was loneliness, it provided a friend. When it was fear, it provided comfort. When it was confusion or doubt, it provided truth. Community has come along side me and held my hand at times, and at others, given me that strong (yet encouraging and loving) push to stay the course. It sets me straight in my life, to focus on the bigger picture, and through God’s beautiful workmanship, changes me.

  123. We need friendship like the earth needs rain – without it, we eventually wither, grow hard, are easily broken and overlooked for what could be beautiful terrain. Not always smooth or without its thorns but beautiful.

    My oldest brother committed suicide this past February (the month with Valentine decorations pressuring us to demonstrate love in all kinds of obnoxious ways – I mean does anyone really like a red teddy bear, he looks creepy to me). The friends that carried me through this unforeseen tragedy spoke love to me in ways that could never be placed in a heart shaped box ( I adore the chocolate though). This sense of belonging and being cared for kept me afloat and still does. They are the ones who still check in when the world goes on as usual. These are the few that call regularly to surprise me with a fun outing or take me to lunch. They send notes, make me laugh, and cry with me. This retreat sounds like a perfect finale to an awful tragedy. I’m a sucker for hugging a room full of strangers just knowing we “get it” and are in this thing called life together! This is the biggest thing community has taught me – love, just fling it out their like seeds. Let God watch over the ones that take root and grow.

    • Oh Amy – I am hugging you so tight, tight through the computer screen right this moment. So thankful for friends who aren’t afraid to wrap arms and prayers around you. Praying peace and comfort for you today.

      ~Lisa-Jo

  124. Community. I’ve missed it so much in the area I live in now. I’ve been in “community groups” at church, but rarely felt really connected, loved, and understood. My soul felt drier during those times than almost any other. Praise God He’s brought me into a real God-formed group of believers this year. We are **totally** different, these couples. But each have a heart to know and love Jesus and to see disenfranchised, discarded souls in this area love Him too. Experiencing real community again is like the rain we just got after months of drought. Everything seems fresher, cleaner and more abundant.

  125. I’m sure it’s all already been said, but community is vital to nudge each other closer to the heart of God. We all need accountability, encouragement, inspiration, sanctification. The enemy will do everything he can to isolate us, because he knows how God uses community of His children! I’m blessed daily by online friends, text messages and in-person friends. I would be lost without it! Oh, and I desperately want to go to Deeper Still!!!

  126. What so many of these women have commented I love and can’t say anything more profoundly. I just know I need my sister friends to remind who I am, to walk beside me and for us to hold each other up and remain living with courage!

  127. Wow this is fun.
    Well – I recently had an AHA moment – I don’t need tons of friends – A few good friends that are THERE- in various seasons – is one of the best gifts I could have – consistency – people to pray and witness you grow – and grow alongside you. Honestly it has helped my healing over the past three years. Thank you Lord.
    Thanks for this post – I hope I win 🙂 The retreat would be much appreciated & enjoyed!

  128. Up close and personal community is crucial for accountability and support, and quite frankly, so much fun. I also have a lot of listening and love and joy and service to offer, and I get the ability to do that to those in my close community. Life is just better when lived in community, the way we were created to do.

  129. Personal, close-up community is very important to me because I’m single. The body of. Christ IS my family. I believe the church to be a vital part of our relationship with the Lord. Through closeknit community within the body, a person learns how to use the gifts that the Spirit has instilled. We are able to minister to others just as Jesus ministers to us. And through dealing with the hurtful experiences of sinful people serving together, we begin to understand the love, grace, and mercy in which God deals with us! He set it up as a picture for our sake!

  130. OH this weekend at Relevant was unspeakably stunning! To give hugs and smiles to cyberspace friends in real life was such a sweet joy! I am so thankful that 10 ladies will have a chance to taste this sweetness through these 10 tickets you are giving away! Blessings to you and your ministry!!! And Keep walking with the King!!
    Much Love,
    Courtney

  131. Community matters to me because the sweet encouragement and challenges I get from my girlfriends and church body remind me that self-reliance – which is my default setting – isn’t the healthy, Gospel-loving place to live. Or, in moments like now when health issues and daily life are threatening to bog me down, community also steers me from self-pity and drives me to – in the words of Paul – be content in every circumstance. When I am weak and broken, two things happen: (1) God is strong and sufficient, and I am finally willing to rest in Him. and (2) My community shows love in real ways – hugs and babysitting, FB comments and meals, jokes and tears.

    And that makes the place of weakness and brokenness a sweet place indeed.

  132. Community, in person is so vital for one, that things are not misunderstood. Texts,
    emails and even phone calls can cause our message to be taken the wrong way without the help of facial expressions. Without knowing what the other person’s face looks like, I can’t be sure my message was taken as I intended it to be. I am unable to console with love and unable to rejoice with joy if I am not with that person. That is not to say that you can’t, it is just more precious when shared together. I live 350 miles from best friend, and while hearing her voice is sweet, I treasure the moments when I can look at her face and be able to know if something is bothering her or if she is just full of joy. Face to face contact is how God intended our relationships to be.

  133. community in person is very vital to our happiness because we truly need each other for encouragement, love, hand holding, and so many other things. there is something so comforting about being able to hug a friend, cry on a shoulder. i don’t know what i would do without my best, best girl friends!

  134. My face to face community is vital to me because I so easily get caught up in the busyness of life. Taking the time out to be with my friends to laugh, share and love each other is like a mini vacation for my soul.

  135. The word commune can be defined: To be in a state of intimate, heightened sensitivity and receptivity, as with one’s surroundings.
    To me community is true connection with ones around you. To have understanding and sensitivity to thoughts and feelings. I lead a Tuesday morning Mom’s group at our church. I look forward to each week because we have all connected in some way. We are comfortable with each other, we know each other well. But at the same time, I feel we are sensitive to new comers and have worked hard to make others feel welcome. I have seen our group grow and connect in ways I never could have imagined. I am thankful for each lady. We are all different, but we are all the same in so many ways. Our goal is to edifiy each other and glorify the One who brought us together. Praise God!!

  136. I love to read blogs. I am a stay at home mom with kids gone to school all day. I get so lonely for interaction. I find myself unable to get stuff done I need to do for being stuck to the computer. I finally realized that it was not just laziness that makes me this way, it is loneliness. I miss interaction with real people. Even these great blogs don’t provide that connection as I would like. That said, thanks to all of you who share your lives in this community!

  137. Community is so important because physical interaction is imperative to our soul’s wellbeing. Community reminds us we’re not alone on this sometimes challenging journey and reminds us to be encouraged with each step we take. Spiritual isolation isn’t the purpose of the body of Christ. Col. 2: 2-3 “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
    And the laughter adds one more delightful element to it all!!

  138. To me, community up close and personal, in the flesh, is vitally important because we’ve been designed to need it. In the beginning of creation, in the garden, it was not good that man was alone…
    We can communicate in a virtual world, true enough, but the two-way street just isn’t the same. It’s all too easy to turn away from words on a computer screen, but it’s not nearly so easy to walk away from a face looking into your eyes.

  139. I need community that is upclose and personal because it is something I frankly struggle with. Online is so much easier for me and that is why this online community has been a life line for me. But I have felt God nudging me that I was made for the up close and personal kind as well so I am praying he reveals to me what that should be. Scary….but good.

  140. I love this entry, Lisa-Jo. It’s such a good reminder of what’s important in this techno age, when we all have a faces in our computers or cell phones. I’m homesick for real-life connection with long-time friends who live far away. Anyway, this note is just to thank you for your entry, not to enter the contest. (And if I could write in pink to celebrate your news, I would. 🙂

  141. Community is so vital to us all, I am almost speechless to think about how abundantly God blessed us with it’s treasures! So thankful for this very InCourage community!

  142. When God created Eve, He created community. He said it wasn’t good to be alone. He designed us to equip & encourage each other through life, discipling and loving in the context of community, as we live out the example of grace He set before us.

    I would love to attend this conference!

  143. It’s like coming home.
    Walking in the door to open arms.
    Opening your heart and being welcomed with warmness.
    Embracing the grace, humility, simplicity.
    Knowing that you belong.

    (Subscriber)

  144. As much as I love reading people’s blogs and being ‘involved’ in people’s lives that I have never met, it’s so much more special to have those people that know by the sound of your voice if you’re upset or hiding something or can’t wait to share something. The people that you can share a look with and know that they get exactly what you’re thinking. Those real-life people that love you no matter WHO you are online. That’s why i love real-life community. Don’t get me wrong, I love on-line community as well and feel it’s a major blessing to me, but you can’t just live online. That’s not where our world actually is! 🙂

    Thanks for the opportunity to win Deeper Still tickets! And in Birmingham, which is pretty much the closest they come to my neck of the woods! 😀

    Blessings to you Lisa-Jo!

  145. coming late to the party…I just found twitter and blogs…and have so loved enlarging my ‘friendship’ border. But nothing beats hugging a real neck! Laughing out loud with someone and seeing someone’s mouth quiver as they share a difficult journey with you is the real deal. Buliding memories doing life together is so important. That’s why I make it a priority to “be” with and meet women at my church as often as I can….