An Invitation to Share

I sometimes feel as if I’m on the outside looking in. 

I can see a festive spot waiting for people who will sweep in and fill the chairs and space with chatter and smiles and laughter. 

They're busy with each other and don't have time or energy or grace to include someone else. I feel this way whenever I’m new to a group. 

Or invited to a party where I don’t know many of the guests. 

Or the last to arrive at a meeting and most of the seats are already taken. And when I’m looking in from the outer fringes, I’m not sure I belong or even why I’m there.

I remember feeling like this when I moved to Florida with my family. I was the new girl in town, without friends and without a job. 

But then I met Marissa. She was a social butterfly, vivacious and outgoing. She could assemble a gathering of friends at a moment’s notice. (A most impressive skill before the advent of texting.) 

She introduced me to the church singles group. She invited me to her aerobics class. Since both of us were just out of college, she drove us all over town as we applied for the same jobs. I was soon busy every night of the week as she included me in her busy social life. We spent several weeks as house-sitters and made plans to rent an apartment together. 

Then just as quickly as she entered my life, she was gone. She was offered a job in Nashville and moved away to start her career. 

I’ve come to realize that some friendships are meant to be lifelong, but others are in my life only for a season. 

But it’s the friends who seem to rush into my life and then flutter away who are the most miraculous. Almost as if they are sent on a divine sort of quest. 

As if God points them in my direction and gives them a little nudge with a whispered, “She needs some encouragement today.” When I think back to that time when I was new to the community, I'm so grateful Marissa offered me her friendship and connected me with others who turned out to play integral roles in my life.

If you've been thinking about the possibility of new friendships, an opportunity to connect is here. 

Because I was a guest blogger last year with (in)courage, they’ve invited me to join them today in a mass-blog to launch the registration of their event (in)RL 2013. On April 26-27, women in cities all over the world will meet up to connect with women in their area. Registration starts today over at More details are below!


  • About: (in)RL was born out of two years spent listening to women in the comments at (in)courage craving local, real life community. Derived from the social media acronym “IRL” or “in real life,” (in)RL is an invitation to share what we’ve learned about community and encourage women with stories and suggestions for connecting deeper in real life.
  • Think of it as a FREE girl’s weekend away that doesn’t require packing or plane tickets, where women can kick off any expectation of perfect, set aside their fears, their shyness, their worry that they’re not good enough, and find some of Jesus’ words of rest woven into every video shared here.
  • When: The (in)RL webcast kicks off on Friday, April 26 and (in)RL meetups follow on Saturday, April 27.
  • What: We're taking a closer look at what it takes to stay rooted in community when sometimes just walking away would be so much easier and tons more convenient. Women share stories of how they've chosen to stay through hard marriages, challenging parenting, worthwhile friendships. How choosing to stay has freed them more fully and unexpectedly than if they'd cut and run.
Hop on over to (in)courage's website to read more!


  1. Valerie - I have to tell you that I absolutely love reading your blog. I love how real and genuine you are. This conference looks very interested - I'm considering signing up. Did you do it last year? ~Shawna

    1. Hi Shawna,
      Thank you so much for the sweet words! No, I didn't get to go last year but I'm signed up this year. They are still firming up details for the Orlando meet-up and don't have a location yet. You can register at encourage (you have to register on Meetup, too to get the alerts/details) but I'm sure it's going to be interesting!

  2. You hit the nail on the head, Valerie. We've all been there. Thank God he puts people in our path to help us as we travel this journey of life.

    1. Yes, I love those he sends our way to intersect with our lives -- it's what makes this journey so interesting, surprising and remarkable!

  3. I love your new About Me picture, its very cute! I especially love your hair, the new purple/pink color scheme you have, the new picture of the books at the top left-hand corner of your banner, and of course I love your blog posts too. :-)

    1. Ahhh -- all with the help of a super-talented photographer! Thank you isn't enough kudos for all your help! :)

  4. This post made me think of many who have been a blessing in my life for a season, including the first person to ever invite me to church. It's a great reminder that sometimes a small connection makes a big impact.

    1. Yes! I need this reminder to be the one to do the reaching out . . . not always easy for me to do!


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