This Journey Our Life

When you meet online community (in)RL

(in)courage, (in)RL, community, friendshipRachel
I’ve enjoyed writing on a regular basis and sharing thoughts through my blog, but I’ve also enjoyed consistently reading numerous other blogs.  I’ve been blessed and encouraged in reading what each blogger chooses to  share from their heart, and I’m amazed at how often it is applicable to something I’m currently facing.
I’ve also been surprised.
Surprised, because I didn’t expect friendship through the blogs I’ve been following along in reading.
Getting to know one another in the online community happens through a variety of ways: the blog authors’ response to a comment left, readers or fellow bloggers who’ve commented on a written post, or fellow commenters who remark on comments made on someone else’s blog. {Did you follow that?!} Regardless of the exact way , often each “meeting” sparks an online conversation, and as a result friendships are born.
But what’s even better than on online friendship?

Friendship in person, friendship (in)RL {in Real Life}.

That was the idea (in)courage had for this past weekend’s (in)RL meet ups.  Connecting women—friends who are each a part of this online community—in real life. Face to face. In person.
Their ingenious idea—or God-Sized dream, as they referred to it—was to go beyond the traditional one-location conference and make it accessible to every one across the country, across the world! It was to be an “un-conference conference” as Lisa-Jo said.
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Over 1,700 women—from Singapore to Northern Ireland, from Northern Virginia to California—were able to attend and connect through numerous meet ups that had been organized locally.  The size, location, and venue of each meet up spanned a wide range of style, painting a beautiful picture of the diversity of women in attendance.

I attended my local meet up and had it not been for one of my real life friends, I might have missed out on the opportunity.  Jen knew I participated in the Gypsy Mama’s Five-Minute Fridays each week {who, unbeknown to me at that time, is the official Community Manager and part of the (in)courage team, host of (in)RL } so she tagged me in a Facebook post inviting me to join her for the event.
And I’m so glad I did.
There were 40 ladies at our local meet up and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and make several new friends. Each table seated four, and I was blessed to be seated with three special ladies: Jen, Amy and Lisa-Jo (whom you might have heard me refer to in previous posts as The Gypsy Mama)! 
                                            {Pictured from L to R: Amy, Jen, Myself, and Lisa-Jo}
And do you know what?
Lisa-Jo is just as kind and down-to-earth in person as she comes across in her writings.  She took the time to share from her heart, and she listened as each of us shared from ours.
It was so neat to see how the Lord brought all of us together, allowing us the opportunity to establish our online friendships in real life, and I’m excited to see each friendship continue to grow.
The highlight of the day?
When our table enjoyed the privilege of praying together: sharing praises, burdens, heartaches, and concerns that we each brought before the Lord on one another’s behalf.
I must say, (in)courage succeeded in bringing the conference to each of us, in promoting community online, and in nurturing that community (in)RL.
What about you? Have you established friendships in the online community? If so, what have you learned as a result?