When I began my freshman year of college, I didn’t instantly become best friends with my roommates.
As a matter of fact, though they’d eventually become some of my very best friends, we didn’t like each other a whole lot at first.

As a result, I spent a lot of time in the lounge of my dorm.

I wasn’t the only one who hung out in the dorm lounge. Over those first few weeks of college, I realized not clicking with your roommate was a fairly common experience. That’s how I found my first college friends – bonding with a group of misfits over our uncomfortable dorm rooms. As the semester progressed, several of us became friends with (or at least learned to get along with) the people our university had paired us with – but by then, we’d formed a community we didn’t want to give up right away: The Lounge Rats.

Looking back, I’m not sure why I wanted to hang out with those particular people, and I certainly don’t remember why I allowed myself to be included in a group that identified with rodents. In hindsight the only thing I had in common with my friends was our discomfort in our assigned rooms. We didn’t share beliefs or backgrounds, majors or minors, hobbies or habits. And yet, for that time in our lives, we formed a tight community.

Sometimes, community is found in the most unexpected places.

When I heard my friend Michelle mention, in passing as if it weren’t a big deal, that she had a blog, I had no idea the journey I was about to begin. And I never in a million years would have guessed that I would find the most amazing community and some of my closest friends online.

But I did. You just never know where you’re going to meet your new best friends.

The thing about finding your friends online, though, is that they’re kind of hard to hug . . . and invite over for dinner . . . and meet at Starbucks. As amazing as online friends are, real-life friends are the must-have of every season.

Enter (in)RL.

Last year, (in)courage answered the cry of hundreds of comments left on the site, wishing and praying for true friends to connect with in person, in real life. (in)RL is basically a girlfriends’ getaway without the travel, the cost, the stress or the hassle. More than a cheesy ladies luncheon by about a million percent, (in)RL is the chance to meet your new best friend – or that community you’ve been craving. Here’s a video about it:

(in)RL will take place on April 26-27, and registration is open TODAY. And did I mention that it’s FREE? Because it is. Even better, every woman who registers will receive The Best of (in)courage, an ebook compilation of (in)courage posts from last year. And everyone who registers TODAY will receive an (in)courage daybrightener! Woohoo!

(in)RL meetups will happen all over the globe (no meetup in your neck of the woods? Why not host one yourself?!), and they will be a place 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.

Last year at (in)RL, we explored the nitty gritty of community. This year 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.

So, what are you waiting for? Register for (in)RL now and then find a meetup close to you!

And tell us: What’s the most surprising place you’ve found community?

What should you watch next?


Every month, we are bombarded with new TV series and movies—and it can be overwhelming to figure out what to watch! (I know, I know, what a problem to have!) I'm here to help. My monthly Watch Guides list out all the returning series, new series, and new movies, along with premiere dates and where to watch them. Plus, I tell you my personal picks for the month to help you narrow it all down.

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