We hope you’ll see (in)courage as a bit like a beach house. You can put your sandy, dirty feet on the coffee table, laugh late into the night with friends, and also hear God’s voice clearer than perhaps anywhere else. Life just feels more vibrant and real, as if you’ve stumbled upon a glimpse of heaven and it’s nothing like you ever imagined but everything you’d always hoped.
When we wrote those words before (in)courage even launched, we knew one part of the beach house would be always having an open door. Yesterday we shared how Stephanie Bryant has discovered God is calling her to step through that door in a different way. And today we have some very exciting news about someone who’s serving up goodness at the beach house in a new way!
You probably know Lisa-Jo (aka The Gypsy Mama) for her encouraging heart, amazing writing, and fondness for food analogies on twitter. She’s been hanging out in the (in)courage kitchen for several months as a contributor and we’re thrilled to let you know we’re giving the girl a fabulously cute apron and turning up the heat. In other words, we’ve asked Lisa-Jo to be the Community Manager for (in)courage!
We’ll let her tell you more about what that means. (It’s good, ladies, like hot-fudge-brownie-sundae-whipped-cream-and-a-cherry-served-right-to-you-on-the-beach-house deck GOOD.)
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Three weeks ago I got to spend three days with Stephanie (left) and Holley (right).
It was some kind of deep fried Southern special. Do you have any idea how much these women just love you all? Something fierce! I think it was over mango sorbet (for me) and peanut butter soft serve (for Holley) that we got to talking about it. How God had brought us to this moment.
I’m South African and my husband is an all-American guy. We have two boys, one born in my home town of Pretoria, South Africa and one in the great state of Michigan. After years of living in the “in between” we have become convinced that no matter what the zip code, God is intimately interested in who we are and where we’re headed.
I’ve lived on three different continents in the last ten years. And I’m learning that home is much more than four walls and a familiar neighborhood. Home is the God who understands each of the unique languages, thoughts, hopes and dreams of our individual hearts. Nothing can separate us from His love. Not time zones or cultures or the things we wish we could change about ourselves.
Christ is the bridge.
He brings us back into the deep heart of God. No matter where we’re coming from. Out of emptiness or loss or disaster, Christ brings us back to His Father. And after working for the last nine years in international development/human rights I have become convinced more than ever that God’s heart beats just as passionately for the women of Springfield, Virginia as it does for those living in Soweto, South Africa. The stay-at-home mom, the working woman, the student – with all the modern comforts money can buy – can be just as lonely and quietly desperate as the Swazi basket weaver.
We all crave encouragement and understanding. That’s what (in) courage and my little part of it has meant to me this last year. It was like coming home. To discover your voices, your passions, your senses of humor, your stories – oh my, the joy that you all radiate! And how you connect your faith with your callings, whatever they might be – home, travel, kids, marriage, motherhood, human rights, art, teaching, cooking, photography…. I could gush till the cows come home!
We all need a safe place to decompress from our busyness, take a deep breath, and be heard by a community defined by its generous, welcoming love.
(In) Courage is that place and space. And I’m delighted to be the new Community Manager, so that I can cook up new ways to make you feel even more at home here.
We’ve said from the start the beach house isn’t ours. It belongs to God and we’re its caretakers. In the first year, we built it, started decorating, moved in, overcame obstacles, got settled, and invited people over.Now we have the opportunity to do some new things and really turn it into God’s dream house. Starting now!
Because it’s your house, we want to hear your suggestions for ways you would rearrange the furniture, remodel rooms, or repaint walls. Go ahead, get crazy; tell us your dream ideas for improving this space. We have some thoughts, but we really want to hear from you!
Leave us a comment with your suggestions by midnight on Sunday July 11 and we’ll be giving away two expressions of our gratitude for the last year to two randomly chosen commenters.
This community favorite – the Memo Board from DaySpring’s Ever Grateful tableware collection.
And this reminder that With God All Things Are Possible.
So go ahead, tell us what you love, what you’d change, and any other ideas for how you’d like to redecorate the place ~ we’re all ears!Leave a Comment
Erin M. says
Woot woot! LOVE me some Lisa-Jo AND incourage so this is VERY AMAZING news! Praying for a smooth transition and for this ministry to continue to grow and bless women in incredible ways!
So thrilled for you and for all that is to come… 🙂
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
Oh Lisa Jo! A big hug to you and a high five, too! Praying God’s blessings on you and the entire team. Y’all are love and encouragement to the core. You are comfort and joy to me…like coming home!
How wonder for Lisa Jo and how blessed are the team at in(courage).
I think you all do an amazing job and have brought me a lot of strength, courage and closer to God. To find the confidence to search for who I really am and to live my life the way I choose with God in my heart.
All the blessings for the future. I would love to read more on being a Christian when the rest of your family aren’t. But to be honest that’s just personal for me. I just get slighty enviuos of the strength you all get from your extended family. Then again if I adopt you all I will have that to. Xxxx
so excited for you, LJ, and for the entire (in)courage family of women who are touched by you in so many ways. including me.
i’m most looking forward to increased community… more conversation and dialogue. you are great at that and know you’ll do an amazing job of integrating that over here.
love you, friend.
Tara McClenahan says
YAY for you, Lisa-Jo and for you, inCourage and for us, the readers/fans! So so great – I can barely express it! Praying for you Lisa-Jo! Big hugs!
Kristi D. says
Excited for the future of inCourage! I’ve just discovered you in the last month or two and have had my socks blessed off! This is really something I’ve needed.
I look forward to more true community involvement, perhaps in a ‘membership’ and discussion topics/pages where we can support each other and even perhaps network with one another. I myself am a newish blogger, mom and wife, and need a Christian network of support! Thanks for all you guys do for us…I love visiting this ‘house’ and I feel so welcome, and want to make my blog and even my own physical home a place like you’ve made here on inCourage. God Bless!
Anna B says
I love this site, and the only suggestion I have is – I love the ‘You might also like’ related stories at the bottom of a post. But, you can’t open them in a separate window! You have to leave the page (and other interesting suggestion links) to follow one. Can it be set up differently where the links are still there, but you can right-click and hit ‘open in new window’?
Thanks for a great site! I love it!
This community has been a huge blessing to me as I walk through a very dark season. To be continually pointed to Christ through your personal stories is exactly what I need. You are real women living out your faith through all kinds of circumstances. I am encouraged by (in)courage. Thank you.
Southern Gal says
This place is wonderful. An encouragement and a blessing to so many. I can’t think of anything that you should do differently. Can’t wait to see what you do with the place!
I started reading (in)courage the first day it launched and I am so glad I did!
I read it first thing in the morning as part of my devotions. I have loved every writing have also identified myself with alot. The website is just as its named. Very encouraging. I wouldn’t change a thing!
So happy or you Lisa and look forward to reading more!
So excited to see you here, Lisa-Jo!
The Nester says
LJ–totally jealous that you and Holley and Stephanie got to hang out! You are adorable. All of you!
Anna, I have a mac, if you do, all you have to do is hold down the “command” key while you click the link and it opens in a new tab.
or you could just click on it and when you are done reading hit the “back” button?
I haven’t been a follower for long, but love it all. All of it. Keep up the good work!
Great news for all of us!! I am so glad to have stumbled across this awesome website from Proverbs 31 just a few months ago. I just love it. It has been a tremendous encouragement to come here daily and just be connected to so many other people, to know that I am not alone in my struggles and to recieve such blessings and encouragement here just leaves me speechless. I would also love to see more on how to show my extended Family who are not believers the love of Jesus. It is something I have always struggled with and left me longing to have the security of knowing they will be with me in heaven some day. Thank you all for all you do and allowing God to do His work!!
What drew me to (in)courage was the beautiful page…what kept me coming back has been the hearts that hang out here. Hard to improve on that!
Lisa-Jo, I hope you find settling in a new adventure that takes you even further than you thought God would! He has His hand on you.
May you all keep dishing up the grace of the God to thirsty souls!
Joy Ellis says
I am truly excited for you. I just look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for you all. He will guide your words to us.
What fabulous news! I am inspired, challenged and brought closer to God every moment at (in)Courage. Thank you for all you do, this community is definitely home for so many of us.
Dawn Camp says
This is just a big win/win for everyone, isn’t it? Congratulations, Lisa-Jo!
(BTW, I recently got that memo board and am *loving* it!)
Renovate what? Everything looks fine by me. I know it’s definitely a blessing to my day and thank Him for helping you pen (In)Courage.
Wow, who knew?! This is exciting stuff and I can’t wait to follow along. I am fresh out of ideas, but haven’t grown bored of this crazy beach house yet!
Suzann G. says
I am so blessed by this ministry. I love the look of the blog, it makes my heart happy when I visit.
I am excited for the future:)
(In)courage was one of the first connections I made on Twitter… and Lisa-Jo soon made me feel like a welcome friend. So happy for Lisa-Jo and for all of us who love this gathering place! Delighted to watch you grow, reach out, discover God more deeply, and laugh often!
SO excited for you all!!!
YAY for you, Lisa Jo!!! LOVE this site…I’ve been here since the get-go! 🙂 I would LOVE to see a “reading corner”, for lack of a better phrase where we can go to get recommendations for reading materials that pertain to Christian motherhood, parenting, spiritual practices, etc. along with an area for discussion! 🙂
Keep up the GREAT work, ladies!!
This is truly a wonderful ministry!
Laura L L says
I was thinking that having a thought and then asking all the readers to complete the thought might be really neat. Thanks for all the beautiful encouragement and hope you share with us everyday. You’re a blessing!
I think guys do a great job!
Redecorate? I would vote to not change a thing! I love your ministry, the web site designs, the topics you write about, the encouragement, … everything!!! Keep up the great work!
~ melscoffeebreak.blogspot.com ~
Love what you’re doing, and so excited for the new opportunities you’ll have!
Keep bringing us the Word- we girls need a safe place to be refreshed!
I love everything and wouldnt change a thing! <3
I haven’t been following (in)courage very long but I can say that I truly enjoy reading it & feel blessed by it. I appreciate the time & effort that goes into creating the posts…as well as the emotion & faith. I don’t have any suggestions bc I truly enjoy it the way it is but will embrace any changes!
I love this blog and read every single post. My only suggestion would be to post an article per day, instead of a whole bunch on Monday. That way, we can have a devotional everyday. I don’t want to miss anything but sometimes, I will go all day and then realize I missed several other articles because they are all posted the same day. I think it would also bring more folks to all the articles the authors write, not just the ones at the top of the FB list 🙂
Love this post. I’d love to see more interactive posts, i.e. suggestions/assignments or questions to muse over in the comments.
Hmmmm, improvements? Not hardly! This site is so great all by itself! Sometimes, though, I look at the wall of contributors & want to click on their blog. What we get is the “about them” page, and I’d like to be able to click directly to their own blog. Minor point, though.
Also, along with Jenbc (7-8 at 8:51 am), I am older (52 & proud of it!), and sometimes feel too old for some of these posts. If I could tell you some of the things I’ve had to learn the hard way, maybe it would save you younglings a LOT of grief! That’s all I’ve got!
I had considered Jenbc’s thoughts. There are times when I feel this is fabulous for younger women. I am flexible and teachable in that I will look for the heart of the message and attempt to apply the truths to my own life. I think I crave challenging topics and Scriptural depths. Something that speaks to my age/stage of life. (This does not mean it doesn’t happen here in what I’ve read.) Someone who is 10 years down the road from me helping me through where I am would be great. I am hoping to serve others as a Titus 2 woman to the younger women, but I love to hear from Titus 2 women who are turning my direction with their experience/wisdom/grace.
Julie Young says
I do love your daily emails!! They are the best encouragement. Im always emailing them to my friends. Thanks for all you do:)
Lori Williams says
I really love this site! I do have to agree with the Jenbc, in that I, too, am 48 years young, and most of the time feel that the site is for the “younger” women. I have been saved by the grace of God since I was 36, and would love to share with the younger women all that God has taught me. He has brought me through so much, including raising and homeschooling 3 wonderful children. The oldest is married and serving our country in the armed forces. My twins are attending the Word of Life Bible Institute and will be graduating in August!! It has and continues to be an amazing journey with many valleys and hill tops. And through it all, I am so very thankful that God has and always will be the same God. I know that His Word tells us that we are to teach and enoucourage the younger women in the body of Christ, and I I have been so blessed to be able to do that within my church and community. I asked Him daily to “increase my territory” and I look forward to the day He does!! Thanks for all you do. Your site is an encouragement to me!
Restorative Living says
I love the variety you guys always offer, and the joy and fun with which you present it all. Great job! Any changes??…Well, I guess it would be fun to invite new voices to join in through some freelance articles? Just a thought. Maybe you already do.
I just love these posts. I have read many that have put words to my feelings. Shared stories show a realness and a sense of God’s presence in the good and bad of the poster’s lives that I often need to hear. I read my bible regularly but to see how others are putting their faith in action “spurs me on to love” in the faith too. I also appreciate those times of praying for readers. I don’t know how it could be any better.
I’m new to (in)courage. I like the idea of discussion topics and being given a place to share. This site is such a blessing. I just want to thank you for sharing such a positive uplifting place for us to come to and rejuvinate our souls.
I have loved this site from the moment I got the email from Dayspring announcing it! It really does just what it says and “incourages” me everyday! I love reading the posts on here and seeing the different walks of life that all these women come from! God is at work everywhere and I love seeing and hearing about that on here! Keep on doing wht you’re doing! It’s even inspired me to start blogging which has been a great release for me! God bless all you gals!!!!!
darcy @ my3boybarians says
WTG Lisa-Jo! What a great fit for her talent.
One thing I hope doesn’t change is the awesome contributors here at incourage. You have collected some of the most amazing hearts in the blogosphere to write here.
Because they are beacons as individuals, this site shines. Any aesthetic or organizational change would only be an accessory to the words of the team. THEY are the reason people keep coming back.
darcy @ my3boybarians says
Oh! I did think of something from my (in)courage wish list:
Nested comments. Would love to see responses in comments fall under the relevant original comment. I think it would encourage dialog and set a more conversational tone in the feedback.
Sara Sophia says
Oh. (said softly in a whisper)
I feel like I just got a giant hug.
You are my very special best one and if I could tell you how much I love you without ever having met you–I would.
(words sort of fail me on this one)
I can’t think of a more perfect heart the help shepherd our community here as we step heavenward.
Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side says
Hmmm, kind of like Jenbc, I’m a little “older” than most bloggers (47) and sometimes feel a little out-of-the-loop. I’d love to share sometimes, but don’t have the outlet. Any way to have regular guest posts? I love each and every contributor here, but I’d also love to hear from others and to have the opportunity to share here too. Thanks!
I don’t come to this page often because it is too hard for me to find things. My suggestions for your re-decorating: I would like to see more organization. Cleaner and less clutter or maybe I should say less “busyness” on one page.
Wow, Lisa-Jo, congratulations! If there’s anyone who knows how to build community in order to encourage other women, it’s you. 🙂 You’ve built such a great community of women (and men) on your own blog, it’s an honor to be a part of it. God bless you in this new step! 🙂
Congratulations Lisa-Jo! You are going to do an amazing job. How fun that you, Stephanie and Holley got together for 3 days!! 🙂 I’m sure the awesome ideas were flowing. Great photo of the 3 of you!
I love your transparency….and if you want to do something different with the beach house….paint each door inside and out a different color!
Yay, Lisa-Jo! And yay for all of us who hang out at this wonderful, virtual beach house!
as a fairly new follower I am excited about your willingness to grow and change–quite refreshing!
How do you improve something that is making such a positive impact on so many lives?
I come here every day and leave here so (in)couraged! Just what you set out to do, right?
Yay! It’s working!
Congrats Lisa Jo!
I do wish there was a retreat or something where we could meet those who have ministerd to us here at (in)courage!
All I can say is, thank you for this place. 🙂
Whoo-hoo!! So happy for you Lisa Jo!
i love the site as is…but…what I would love to find in real life, and if you guys could do this online would be great, is a mentor mom. I would love insight from a mom that has been there, done that…Someone who has juggled working and raising kids, someone who has already (sucessfully) raised kids and can say “I wish I had done this” or “this is one thing I think I did right”. etc,,,,
Mrs. Rachel says
Yay! Congratulations! I love the site the way it is, really, and look forward to the posts each day. I really like the different perspectives and viewpoints, which are all pointing me towards Christ.
As a new reader of (in)courage, I have found the articles to be a blessing. Sometimes the main page feels really “cluttered” with all of the links and advertisements and comments. I love the color schemes–very fresh and inviting.
I love this site and I can’t begin to tell you how all of you, commenters included, have improved my life and brought me closer to my Heavenly Father. Would it be possible to have a forum (of course, we would have to register for it) for all of us readers to connect with one another and share stories, tips, advice, etc.? That’s the only thing I wish were our “beach house” had.
Anna B says
Welcome, I have never written on this blog before but have been reading for a few months and have been touched by some of the posts.
While I love reading the posts, I would like to read a few responses to them without having to scroll through tones of them I’m sure if that’s possible but I would like it. 🙂
Anna B says
oops gave you the wrong email address it is email@example.com not yahoo. Sorry.
I love this site….it will be exciting to see what else you can do to improve it!!! Blessings!!!!
Christina Burrell says
I am so excited about this new venture for inCourage. Your site has blessed me in more ways than I could list. I would love a weekly discussion for moms of boys-how to raise our boys to be men who love, honor and respect God and Women.
I have been so blessed by the (In)Courage site and am a firm believer that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
Don’t change a thing! Keep the blessings coming to us via this ministry tool and your wonderful group of of women facing the issues we face each day!
This is one of my favourite places where I come every day. I love to read about the faith journeys of my ‘soul sisters’. I love that in this place it’s such a blessing to speak about the things of the Lord, our roles as women and (for many of you) your roles as mums.
I seem to remember that early on at (in)courage there were two posts per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. I really loved that b/c that meant that every time I sat down with my laptop that I went to (in)courage to get another blessing from the Lord.
I don’t think you need to really change anything as this site is easy to read, encouraging, focussed on the Lord, relevant, modern, etc.. and adding Lisa-Jo just makes it that much more brilliant! As a global girl I too would like to see more posts from global girls. I too write a blog but at this stage have made it an invitation only blog but maybe I need to change that so that I could be included in this global sharing.
Please keep up all the great and blessed work at (in)courage!
Stephie in Scotland
I love everything about this website! I get encouragement from your articles on a daily basis. As far as the look is concerned, I love your current header image, but I would consider adding some of its colors to the rest of your design. Maybe punch up the background color, etc.
Tania S. says
I like how the place looks now, very comfortable. If anything is changed, maybe a splash of color. Thanks for everything.
Mary B says
You pick some amazing women with stories to tell for this sight. Love it and its “incouragement” 🙂
Faran Hearyman says
I have enjoyed this site from the first week. While I don’t visit every day, it’s a rare week that I don’t visit 3-4 times and catch up. I have found Ann Voskamp’s fabulous Holy Experience blog through this site and so appreciate her perspective and beautiful writing.
At Incourage I occasionally wish for more articles geared to those of us in a season with kids AND a full-time job. I struggle with wanting to be a SAHM and do wonderful crafty things and volunteer my time and lead/participate in Bible studies and …
You probably have had these and I’ve missed them 🙂 So maybe there’s been a room in the beach house for us that I haven’t seen yet; if so, let me know!
Thanks for being used by God to bless so many of girls!
Congratulations! Wonderful news!
I absolutely love incourage!
I also love stories, hearing from different women, but most of all I love God’s Word. I would love to see more devotional studies/lessons here along with the stories that are shared. It’s priceless to hear the Word speak for itself.
Keep up the good work!
How exciting! I love the website and all the wonderful ladies that contribute! Yeah!
I am loving everything about this site! It is so wonderful to come and get great advice and inspiration from so many fabulous people!
LOVE it all!!
Well there’s so many GREAT things happening here at (in)courage, I’d almost be scared to touch it! =)
But perhaps you could consider…
Highlighting more great blogs/women who share their love for Christ and encouraging others
Recommended resources for families, personal growth, parenting, etc.
A Online Bible Study
A Future Blogging Conference
A Prayer Request Message Board (Think Batcave for Prayer Warriors)
Coffee, Pancakes, and Chocolate Door to Door Delivery????