About the Author

Lisa Leonard is mom to two boys, David, 13 and Matthias, 12 and wife to Steve. In between school and work they spend their time playing outdoors on the central coast of California, eating chocolate chip pancakes, tapping tunes on the piano (David) and choreographing elaborate light saber duels (Matthias)....

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  1. I have a very real online support group of about 10 women who have all adopted from Ethiopia. We also share our faith. Aside from that we are all very different and unique. We come from all over the US. Two women have husbands who have been deployed, 3 women have adopted children with HIV, We have older kids, kids with down syndrome, kids with Hepatitis, kids who are deaf, who have severe emotional issues, there have been two disruptions in our group, miscarriages and births, and we just celebrated our first child getting married. All in 4 years. We are closer than most people I see regularly. Its a very real loving community of faith, support and love.

  2. I’m soooo excited because tomorrow I get the opportunity to turn online friends into real life friends! As much as I love staying up late tweeting with people and reading blogs nothing can replace looking someone in the eyes, hearing their voice and laughing together. But I’m scared too, because we are able to present ourselves online at our best. Photos, blog posts, even Tweets can all be edited and manipulated. As much as I try to be genuine online I know that it’s all done through a filter still.
    The thing that is the best about online community? I’m a sahm and when I feel lonely there are people there. When I have a crisis I can go online & find people who
    Will pray for me immediately. I have been introduced to people, cultures, stories that I never would have experienced in my little bubble. I love the people I’ve met online & I’m very addicted to them.

  3. Online community is no different than a prayer chain or pen-pals…well it’s different in that there is opportunity to be so much closer quickly and connect with more people who can specifically relate to where you are. I went through (and am still going through) some stuff that no one I regularly see seemed to understand…then I stumbled onto Sarah Mae’s blog. She understood. She also encouraged me more than anyone of my friends or family could at the time. I don’t have that many like minded women close by. But here (at(in)courage or other similar places) it’s kinda like people know my thoughts or have been reading my journal and make me know I’m not alone in any of this.

  4. I think what stands out is how online you can really be REAL about your struggles and joys without fear of what will spread around the area about you – you don’t need to worry about being judged in the same way. And, you can also find a group of like-minded people more easily – especially if you come from a relatively small (geographically) Christian community!

  5. I got on the blogging “wagon” a little later than many, but reading blogs, and writing my own have made me a better follower of God, a better wife, a better mother and a better friend . . . a better person all around. I feel a kinship and concern and love for my fellow bloggers. I think it’s fabulous . . . I also think it can take over your life and become an obsession, so you’ve got to be careful.
    thanks,
    Shana

  6. I don’t really have a blog but facebook, is a the first way my bestie and I get in touch with each other to have girls night. I do blog stalk people that I don’t know, mostly to pray for those that are hurting and for encouragment that others dont know they are sending to me. I think it is a great tool for reaching others.

  7. I have–I love the fact that I’m not isolated and I can get to know people via the web. I’ve “met” people through blogging and now call them real life friends.

  8. I’ve tried to write in a blog, but find I enjoy reading others more. I see the women who write good sound Christian blogs to be the older women (Titus 2:3-5) for me. I use FB and really like it.

  9. I have found real community online through blogging. I’ve “met” women who will laugh with you, share with you, and pray with you when you really need it. To meet them in person some day would be icing on the cake. But until then, reading and sharing in blogland is the perfect way to get to know others.

  10. I have a blog. I check email. I read other blogs. I get the online community but I have to say that we still need relationships where you can see the eyes of the other person. I know that it is difficult for some who live far away from loved ones and want to stay in touch or have illness or circumstances and just can’t get together for some reason. I still think we should get together and fellowship. That is where you get to see the other person’s facial expressions, their eyes, the tone in their voice. When you are behind a computer screen you can be
    anyone or anything you desire. Don’t get me wrong. I think that online communities are awesome! What a great way for women of God to communicate and chat. What a terrific way to use it for God’s glory. But..still get out there and have those face to face relationships. Just my two cents. I do love reading Incourage and pray that your ministry is blessed.

  11. I read several blogs and feel I have gotten to know these women like friends. I especially love reading Proverbs 31 blogs, (in)Courage,anyone writing about coffee 🙂 and sharing their love of family & God. Keep up the good work you are doing. Blessings, Karen

  12. When I started blogging, I had no idea of the magnitude of the community online! I’ve been blessed with sweet friends who really do pray for me, and care about how my day is going! I’ve been able to repay that by praying for them too!! Community does really happen online!

  13. The online community and the women I have found there have been my lifeline as I struggle through learning to trust and love God. While it can definitely be not easy to cultivate those kind of relationships in person (and believe me, I do try!) there is a sense of being able to instantly connect with so many that understand, will point you in the right direction biblically, and will pray you through.

  14. When I was pregnant with my 1st, I met a group of women online on a message board. From there, we’ve made our own group through email and we chat all day long. I would be LOST without them! They are my support network and words can’t express what they mean to me.
    No one gets my love of blogging (not that I’ve been at it the past few weeks), twitter or reading blogs. No one. I love it. I learn so much and meet so many people!

  15. I have found some real community. I have some blog friends that have been with me for 6 years or more. I haven’t met all of those in real life, but I feel we have a connection. 😀 I’m hoping in our trip in Oct/Nov that I get to meet some IRL. 😀

  16. I have been very “(in)courage”ed by this online community. I had a bout of depression during my last pregnancy, and I read the blogs daily. Now that I’m still suffering from the anxiety and depression, it still helps to know I’m not the only one out there like me. I try to remember I am still unique, but just like everyone else. 🙂

  17. I have found real community online. These relationships were formed by a common interest, because you’re only online on places you want to be- twitter, a blog, facebook pages, for example. So there’s a tie…and when a friendship forms naturally like that, it feels very genuine.

  18. Yes, for aeons. Way back when internet used to be called “bulletin boards,” I found a community and friends. One friend and I have traveled together along with her local friends.
    Another community has become a group of prayer warriors — there to encourage each other through thick and thin.

  19. i really enjoy online communitys. esp the ones that are centered around the word of God, we are put here on earth to encourge each other and keep each other lifted in prayer.

  20. Over the past year, I have gotten to know a lot of women via the internet. Even finding one that lives just 10 minutes from me. I enjoy the brief encounters of 140 characters with these women and getting to know them better.
    But over the past year there is one woman that has become my best friend. We hit it off from the beginning because of past similar experiences. But because of that experience our lives quickly wove together. Sharing cell numbers and texting or talking became a daily thing. This woman knows more about me than anyone. I am comfortable sharing with her and asking her things I would not ask anyone else. She has become my encourager, provided guidance when needed and someone I can go to with my prayer needs.
    I have been able to meet many of my internet friends in real life, but to meet my best friend in real life is one dream I still have.

  21. I haven’t had the courage to officially start a blog . . . well, I started it, but never wrote. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  22. My online/blogger friends are a different source of encouragement than my “real world” friends. My real world friends have access to my blog, but if they don’t blog I don’t think they “get” the importance of bearing your soul in print and getting feedback from a vast amount of diverse people. The entries of my online friends challenge me, make me think, make me laugh, make me cry – and as a SAHM I feel that I always have access to them, unlike the limited time I have these days with my real world friends, most of whom are working outside of the home.

  23. My first trip out of town by myself (my first year of college) was to meet some online friends. Since then, I’ve met some absolutely precious women who are mothers like me, believers like me, wives like me, listeners like me, students like me, homemakers like me, and yet…nothing like me at all. It’s refreshing to get to know someone who isn’t basing anything on looks or status or income. These women are just as dear to me now as friends I know IRL.

  24. Yep, I have a found a few new friends in the blogging world! I wish I had more time to comment and look through blogs! It’s amazing how you can get to know someone through the world wide web!!

  25. Most definitely! I still have friendships from back when I first got a computer, living at home as a young teenager. Some of my deepest, most genuine friendships started online, and eventually blossomed into face-to-face meetings and good ol’ fashioned heart-to-heart chats. God has intricately woven the pieces of our lives to include all kinds of means! I love that about Him.

  26. When we were adopting our first son from Guatemala, I found a chat room for other adoptive parents. This was very helpful to me to have access to other parents who were undergoing the same difficulties we were in bringing our children home. Some were Christians and we prayed for each other and our situations. It was a blessing for me at that time in my life.

  27. When your home all day, with lots of crumb grabbers at your ankles, in the east coast, during our harsh winters, it may somedays be my only outside connection! It started with FB, connecting faraway family and friends. But took a turn. with twitter and now blogging, it’s the neighborhood of 20 years ago. It’s standing over the fence at the end of a long day. It’s pulling up a chair, even through crumbs, dirty clothes and babies and getting to the heart of the matter. In my IRL neighboorhood, in a tiny town in northern NE, I am the only mom on the block that stays home, and my “block” is 6 miles long!!
    When I first moved to this area of the US, i reached out 10 years ago, wow, ten years now, to find someone else in the same boat. From that first connection, we’ve shared so much. WE did meet for the very time IRL, at a local park. MY hubbie thought I was nuts!! But from there, we started a playgroup, that I still chat with and adore, even though we’ved moved further north. I did the same thing here.
    As for the online conncections, it’s my “neighborhood” I can find at least one other person who knows exactly what I’m feeling, going through, etc and that’s pretty cool! In our big world, this brings it down to a small connection!

  28. And prayer! Wow! The prayer warriors are incredible! One single quick post, twit or staus update and I have hundreds praying, God is so good! To gather His people, in such a way that prayer requests are shared instantly and prayed upon instantly.
    As for my IRL friends who don’t get “it”, the life online, that’s ok, I need them to keep the balanace in my life! Sometimes a real hug is just what you need!

  29. Love this! Love it!
    I have been doing this for nearly eight years… and I have found community that goes far beyond memory making in real life experiences… I have people who just GET ME. From sharing about baby loss, to stale faith… to online book clubs and faith inspiring friendships…
    I know… without a shadow of a doubt… that God has his plan laced up and intertwined in this place where we bare our souls and connect with others in our shoes.

  30. This is going to sound funny, but I have found community on facebook. I connect with all my friends who have gotten married, moved away and had babies. It’s so fun to be able to get a glimpse of their life through pictures and status updates. I am also a first grade teacher and I set up a facebook page for my classroom. The parents of my students love it because I can post pictures, videos and status updates constantly and they feel more involved. It is also a great way for me to contact them after school hours. It has truly made us feel closer already, and IRS only the 2nd week of school. I love being “connected” through the Internet. You are so right-there’s just something cool about it.

  31. I’ve been on the internet since ’96 so a lot of the positive feeling I get from it has waned. At first I was on several “bulletin boards” for pregnancy, cross-stitch, Bible study, etc., which were good for me at the time because I had just moved across the country and didn’t know anyone in real life. But internet friends can’t change your tire or visit you in the hospital. Anyway nowadays I do have a blog and Facebook but it honestly makes me feel self-absorbed. Who cares what I did today, LOL. But I learn an amazing amount of things from other people’s blogs, and I really enjoy reading them.

  32. When I was diagnosed with ACM I found a community of people dealing with the same thing as me. I never met them but over the course of a year we became close. They encouraged me, gave me advice and prayed for me. To know that you have hundreds of people praying for you on the day of your surgery is amazing. I have one friend that I still keep in contact with. We’ve talked on the phone a bit and keep in touch on FB. It’s great! It’s just like having a pen pal! 🙂

  33. I love how, in online community, we so easily get to the heart of the matter. That’s why people are drawn to great posts and people.
    They don’t dance around truth. They speak it.
    Sometimes it’s painful, but it’s always powerful.
    I feel like the past few years have been a reformation for me, and it all began with a blog and friends I’ve yet to meet.

  34. I have found a great community of friends through blogging and social networking. Writing has always been my preferred method of communication, as I get shy and tongue-tied around people. I think our relationships are all the richer for the daily snippets of life that we reveal to each other online.

  35. I have a friend who has been sharing her struggle with getting pregnant on her blog. She and her husband have now announced that she’s pregnant! Praise God! They’ve been trying for 4 years! I love reading about her feelings of awe at the little one growing inside of her.

  36. I don’t have many online friendships but there are a few women who I chat with on occasion. The one thing that I have found extremely special about blogging is that my in real life friends read it and ask me questions about God and my faith which they have never asked me about before.

  37. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been guilted and belittled for my investment in an online community.
    I have met, connected and grown with multiple girls and women online over the past year, that have become one of the greatest support systems I could have ever imagined. My friendships here, on the world wide web, are marked by overwhelming mutual interest in all aspects of one another’s lives and interests – we are brought together by much more rawness and honesty than the majority of my relationships at home.
    Thank you, again.

  38. The thing that I like about online communities is that it is easier to be yourself sometimes and talk about things that you may not feel comfortable talking about in person. I also like that I am able to connect with friends that have moved away…

  39. Oh my goodness, yes, yes, yes!!! I have found some truly remarkable ladies who have become friends and some even like sisters to me.
    Community is what you put into it and just like any friendship it takes time, but it absolutely can happen online!
    Great post!
    Melissa 🙂

  40. I love finding friends that have like-minded goals as me. Often times when I have a problem, someone who isn’t here in flesh will encourage me from somewhere else in bloggy land.
    It’s nice to have connections with people all over the world….who love Christ and serve Him.
    I can always find a sister who understands…thanks to blogging!

  41. Without the “online” community, the first few months of motherhood may have been more than I could handle. Sometime my real life community isn’t quite in the same season of life I find myself in, but past friend who have moved away are walking almost the same path as me. It is nice to know someone out there understands.

  42. While face time is never replaceable, being in community “online” has it’s advantages. I am able to read those needs and respond with encouragement and send up the prayers right away.

  43. The instant connection I have felt with a few of my online friends is really no different than the connection I feel with certain friends I have met in person.
    I met my husband on eHarmony years ago and since then I have always known if God could use the internet to bring us together he could use it to bring friends together too.

  44. This is a great reflection of (In) Courage! It also reminds me of a very special online community that’s been a near-daily part of my life since 1996!!! Hannah’s Prayer Ministries offers Christian support for married, Christian women facing fertility challenges including infertility, the death of a baby at any time from conception through early infancy, adoption journeys, and motherhood after infertility/loss. Here I have found “friends closer than sisters” and learned that best friends can share a common heartbeat in Christ though a computer screen even if we never meet, face-to-face, this side of Heaven. http://www.Hannah.org

  45. It’s nice to have people that I can take with me when I move, who I can reach out that have shared the same experiences, but there are limitations. There are things that friends who live close by can do in community that you can’t get online or by phone. Some of those things that really bond friends, like being physically in a pinch, not that on;one friends, never do this for one another, but the miles between can get in the way. I am thankful for the friendships I’ve formed online, though.

  46. Slowly but surely I am becoming a part of an online community. It’s scary and great at the same time! What stands out is how much are lives are the same yet we have never met and we can still encourage each other!!!

  47. I’ve had the privilege of continuing relationships online with individuals who have once been close geographically and are now scattered all over the world and with new ones I’ve met online. I still keep nearby personal relationships precious as there is nothing that replaces true life hugs.
    Blessings, Girls!

  48. I have met some if my closest friends online, especially womenwho have walked through infertility with me, the support is amazing.

  49. It hasn’t even been a year of blogging for me yet. But, God is teaching me so much about myself and others. He is beginning to open up some great community through blogging, etc.
    What stands out?? The fact that online, people go straight to what matters (in a good way) and it’s intentional.
    Nicole

  50. YES! most definitely I have found real community online. Four years ago the Lord brought a friend into my life from Eugene, Oregon. As complete strangers, we were able to finish each other’s sentences and have a wonderful bond!
    What stands out about my online relationships is the fact that the Lord is our common thread. I appreciate hearing the truth from blogs… people not afraid to open up and be honest. That’s what I most appreciate. And that’s why I also appreciate (in)courage. Thank you’s go to your contributors who help me grow.
    ~Michelle Found
    Picton, Ontario, Canada
    http://www.fiddlersfound.blogspot.com

  51. Some of my dearest friends are ones I have never seen face to face, yet our friendship has grown over time and space due to online communities. We share, we laugh, we cry, we encourage, we hold up. Yes, I get it! Wonderful post!

  52. Online community for me is more than just blogging or reading blogs. Being a stay at home Mom makes it VERY hard to find time for friends and getting to hang out. Alot of my friends work and when I’m available to talk, they’re at their jobs. Community is a big deal for me and online community is just as important as having close friends. It’s great sharing with other about my walk with Christ and hearing that others are going through the same things I am. And others are going through things I am not, that help me to see my life a little more clearly. I’m so thankful for (In)Courage and the women that are a part of it!

  53. I have a very real community of supportive friends online, and they are sometimes more accepting than my face-to-face friends. I can be truly real and not fear judgement or worry about who will find out that I’m far less than perfect. I look forward to sharing my life with them online, as much as I look forward to spending time with my girlfriends face-to-face.

  54. I have definitely found real community online. Some of my best and closest friends are ones that I have never met in person.
    I have a chronic illness, and I am mostly homebound. The internet is my connection to the outside world. Through the internet I have been able to become friends with people who struggle with the same illness as me. We understand each other in a way healthy people can’t.
    Some of these friends I have been able to meet in person, others I haven’t met in person yet. But with those who are believers, I look forward to the friendship we will be able to share in Heaven. For those who are not, I pray that God will draw them to Himself, and I look for opportunities to share the Gospel with them.

  55. What stands out?!?!
    O dear, SO Much stands out……
    What stands out is the friendship itself that is hard to explain. The way I can feel so deeply connected to someone I have never met. How I can have sisters standing beside me and I can stand beside others and we join hands and raise them high and we are connected.
    Sharing life together, across oceans, states, colors, shapes and sizes, we are one in Him and that is lovely…

  56. I’m working on building an online-community through my blog and Twitter. I have a facebook acct too, but these are people I already know and love. It is fun to see the same people over and over again on my blog and read their blogs. As time goes by, I hope my online-community is stronger and friendlier. I just wish this was available when I had my first child and was isolated from the rest of the world. It would’ve helped a lot!

  57. I love my online community. I have met real, life-long friends who have supported me through some of the most difficult times in my life. It’s so good. I love it.

  58. One of the key things with online relationships is that we bond with people who share our interests. My real life friends don’t share my passions for photography, web design, or blogging. It’s nice to connect with people who speak your “language.”

  59. I just wrote about this very thing this week! I found “true belonging” in a group of women who have become sisters of my heart. Amazing, strong, multicultural women who have accepted me just as I am (as the old song goes) and who love me because of my quirks rather than in spite of them. My online Community has helped me find belonging and family…friends are the family you choose, but it doesn’t make them any less a part of that family or your heart. And no, some people just don’t get it. It’s really their loss.

  60. I have found real community online and have been blessed to meet many of these women in real life as well… my online friends have been a huge blessing to me in the last year. I am so thankful that we have a way to breach distance so easily with the web.

  61. I don’t personally talk or email with people online very much, but I follow lots of blogs and feel encouraged and sharpened from those fellow saints.

  62. I have found an online support group through Hannah’s Prayer, a forum for women dealing with infertility. These women help me feel normal and help me find joy in challenging circumstances.

  63. Wow, this so so true! I have met amazing and wonderful people through my blog. I have found those that are hurting and just need a friend. I have had opportunity to share the Lord. It’s a wonderful thing and I’m so thankful for each and every blogging friend! I’d like to link to this post on my blog. Hope you don’t mind.

  64. Yep, I’m in a couple of online communities, both of which keep me connected and encouraged. Online friendships have been a way to connect with the moms I’ve met at Mothers of Preschoolers (www.mops.org) through our church. Another online community is a free diet and exercise site I found which provides space for commenting, blogging, and most definitely connecting. Here I’m meeting people I’ve never seen, who are decades younger than I or about the same age as me, some from my home state of TN, some from OR where I live now, and some from places I’ll never see. It has amazed me how through it all there seem to be no barriers. I speak freely of my faith and connect with faith friends, and those who don’t believe encourage me to write more. Maybe I’m reaching someone. I may never know. I find both experiences enriching.

  65. I find it amazing how I can feel so connected to women I’ve never even met {in real life}. That they will take time to pray for me, read my little blog, chat on Twitter/through email…as a girl with few friends, that means so much to me!

  66. Many times, people don’t get it. But they don’t have to get it for communities such as these to grow. I thank God everyday for blogs that enhance my growth and potentially guide me in fulfilling my God-given purpose.

  67. You know, just the other day a gal tweeted that her son was sick on his mission trip. People were able to pray right then and there! How can you NOT think that’s awesome!
    You can literally mobilize thousands of people with Twitter!
    As with anything, moderation is key.
    I love Twitter. I didn’t get it until I started really using it back in February and now I enjoy it. I don’t see the same people on there all the time, but it’s fun getting to know others in 140 characters.
    You can find me at twitter.com/bigguysmama

  68. I have found community online, and I have found it to be an extension of my RL community, where I’ve been able to get back in touch with friends who were distant, geographically, but can stay close this way. And I have been endlessly encouraged and challenged by this new community of faith I have found here @(in)courage. You have given me the courage to think about what it means to be a beloved of God, woman, wife and mother, according to His Master plan!
    Thank you! (and Thank You!)

  69. yes!! online community is so real. connections and friendships are formed over common interests. i love how encouragement comes from my little online community in such a tangible, yet different way. plus, it adds another connection point for those who are in both of my communities. i am so thankful for it also because of all the ways to connect even when you’re far away from each other.

  70. I think online communities are wonderful! If, nothing else, it makes the world a little smaller. I’ve been able to keep in touch with students I taught when I lived overseas, who now live in Korea, or England, or Germany. I’ve also found friends through art and scrapbook communities, and have had the privilege of getting to meet them in real life!

  71. I love my online community! Old aqaintances that in years past would have been long forgotten, have become true friends because of the web! We’ve reconnected through Fb and the blog world, and have found that we have more in common now then before. I’ve found a core group of friends who are also on the homeschooling journey, fellow lovers of photography, and I’ve been offered support and prayer on those tough days. It always amazes me that I feel I know these ladies better now then I did in younger years!

  72. I have found it, and I think what makes it special is getting that extra word of encouragement from a wonderful woman you may have never met in person. It means a lot when you hear those words from friends & family that you have known for years, but when a “stranger” lifts you up, it feels like a good Word..you know?

  73. I do like that part about the sharing authentically in the present rather than a shared history in the past.
    I’m a bit troubled by the follower part, where a whole lot of people are reading and learning from a blog but then the blogger doesn’t know all her followers. How do followers become friends?

  74. I blog, though not as regularly as I would like. I Twitter, pretty much… a LOT. Through Twitter and Facebook I have met and been allowed to join a fabulous Bible Study group. Thursday nights end with my Band of Sisters from across the nation — a group of women who share the same passion: knowing Christ better and better.
    This group of women keep me real and hold me accountable in ways that my “real world” friends don’t. (Maybe I’m just that scary in real life…)

  75. I have found new friends in the blogging world. They have been an encouragement to me and I am so thankful for each of them. I enjoy meeting new people and seeing what their lives are like.

  76. I have a wonderful group on online friends. We have been together for 3 years (a little more). Based on that our babies were all born in the same month and year. I love going on there and knowing that at least one more person is going through something that i am. I have also meet several friends on there and one in particular has become a very close friend. Our little girls have become great friends too!

  77. i definitely have found a lot of people that i feel like i know just through their posts. i am just jumping into blogging a little more myself (but need to do it a little more regularly!), and am hoping to feel even more community as a part of that.

  78. God builds community wherever we are paying attention! That most certainly can be online, in our homes, neighborhoods or churches!
    He has promised.
    Love it!

  79. YES! And the thing that stands out to me is how clearly God has orchestrated each and every group and relationship I’ve had online – from meeting with and connecting with friends who share similar health struggles, finding a few wonderful Christian friends to pray with in the midst of my art groups, connecting with and ministering to people I’d never have the opportunity to connect with offline, to finding great Christian encouragement like here!
    It’s all real – it’s all God – working to bring meaning and relationships to my life – even on my housebound days.

  80. I enjoy blogging with my “sisters.” It’s very encouraging to have Christian friends to laugh with and pray with too!
    Stephanie

  81. Yes, have found online community of people – just getting to know people as my life is getting -hmm how do you say, trying to start over. Right now I have the computer as my safe area and found some people who do not judge and are there online for me.

  82. For me, my online community is simply an extension of my real world community. The online aspect is simply a means of enhancing it. With all of our varying schedules and demands online has enabled us to stay in touch and current in lives in a way that our daily conflicting schedules would not allow. I can shot an email, or publish a post at my convenience, and my community will read and and respond at theirs.
    I have found that the online component can enhance our relationships, but will never replace the awesome power of face to face conversation, the passing of a Kleenex, squeeze of a hand, hug, and shared simultaneous laugh.

  83. I “met” one of my best friends online almost 10 years ago. My oldest son was in the process of being dx’d with Aspergers and I joined a forum to learn more from other moms going through the same thing. Sally seemed to write the exact things that I was thinking and her son was so much like mine. We live across the country from each other and have never met, but our friendship has been very real, lifesaving at times for both me and my son. I am so thankful for Sally!

  84. Yes, *exactly*. When I started godlygals.com back in the day, people though it was weird. With culture changing and shifting to accept more things online I’ve experienced a lot more understanding in the past few years.
    Joining together with 800+ women is not something that I’ve ever been able to experience “in real life.” But online I have found a large group of women, committed to Christ, who want to join together to pray for and encourage each other.
    What a blessing!

  85. The thing is, I have had an instant connection with many of my online friends just like I do with many friends I have met in person.
    I met my husband on eHarmony several years ago and ever since I have just realized if God can bring me an amazing man via the internet he can bring good friends too!

  86. I used to think it was embarrassing to share my life with people online, but a couple years ago I got really sick and didn’t know where else to turn. I found so many people online who were experiencing the same thing as me and who could encourage me, support me through it, and give me tips to make the whole experience so much less scary and lonely. Now I love sharing my life and even intimate details of my health with people online because the people who shared those details with me meant so much to me and made all the difference. And the best part is when you actually get to meet some of the other bloggers in person! One of my fave bloggers came to visit me from across the country recently. Even though we just met for the first time, it felt like we knew each other forever.
    I’ve definitely experienced first hand how God reaches out and shows us His love even through the internet and I do really feel like He’s built communities online and led me to find so many of the blogs I read and love.
    Thanks for the great food for thought!

  87. Actually, I was one of those who “just didn’t get it”. Than I started reading here at [in]courage and than finally started my own blog in January.
    I love blog land! And over the last seven months have connected with a few others. Not a “community” yet, but it’s a start.

  88. This online communtity idea is still new to me. I’m such a face to face person. I can imagine how great it could be though, to have a group with shared interestes and beliefs. Sometimes we can be limited in the people we come in contact with so this could be a branching out, a reaching out, letting someone reach in…. God is creative and therefore we are too. He can use any outlet to lead us to Him in communtity including online friends.

  89. When I first starting blogging (way back in the day of xanga) I met two young women who really made an impact on my life. One from Kansas, and one from Australia! These women are still a HUGE part of my life today. Though online friendships certainly shouldn’t replace the face-to-face ones, they can certainly be just as valid, and just as amazing!

  90. I love my online community that I’ve gotten to know through my blog, others’ blogs, twittering and tweeting, and email correspondence. It has connected my little world to other women’s little worlds, making it one big universe that’s easily accessible now.
    The most amazing thing that has happened to me via online connection is the chance to co-author a children’s picture book with a lovely Jewish gal from New Jersey, and that manuscript is now sitting on an publisher’s desk at Putnam in New York City. My co-author, Corey, and I have never met in person. We met online, wrote online, and submitted our manuscript online. And right now we’re keeping our cyberfingers crossed hoping for that contract….

  91. It’s a means to sharing life as long as we are honest! And we don’t have to be available all at the same time 🙂 which is good with some of our crazy schedules.

  92. Well, a group of six of us girls get to share our hearts, and I believe have grown so much closer. Praise the Lord! I have learned so much from each of these ladies. They are always so supportive. God has used them to teach me the meaning of transparency. It was hard for me to open up, but these ladies make it so much easier. We all try to pull together and go to the Lord for our strength and guidance. I am so extremely thankful for them.

  93. I am new to this world, but I truly enjoy the encouragement of reading inspiration from others. Even on my most difficult mornings, and they do fight for first place often with each other…I find that opening this posting in the morning is so very encouraging to me. I spend most of my life dealing with one level of pain or another and have had some people ask me “why are you still working full time?” My theory on that is I can either be at home by myself in pain, or I can be doing something in pain. Inspiring blogs like this help keep my mind off pain and on better things. Keep up the good medicine for us all!!

  94. I am still trying to find a support group type thing through my blogs but am rather at a stand still..It seems friendships come and go so easily online and I’d been hopeful for them to last.. I must be doing things wrong and have also tried joining activities such as Blue Monday and Pink Saturday.. I LOVE to speak of God and I soooo respect those Awesome women who do share of Him so much.. So I figure it must be me and I must be doing things wrong for others to want continue visiting my blog??? I have over 100 followers is the word they use but I’d say only about 5 fo them return.. I have not been blogging for quite a yr yet and I do find ooooodles of JOY in Christ and from those wonderful ladies He has brought into my life by blogging. It would just be super if they would remain.. Am I making sense???I am soooo Thankful to my Sweet Lord for being the One and Only constant in my world when all else seems sooo down for sooo many.
    I’m thankful too that I have found this post and sorry if I have over stepped the questions asked.. What stands out the most for me is just how Awesomely God works through these women by His Power and for His glory,,,it truly amazes me…
    Thanks MUCH for reading this…
    Blessings and Hugs Dena

  95. Amen. Loved: “But, for the record, real community happens online. Just like real community happens in life.
    And God is there, right in the middle of it, with a big smile. But don’t take my word for it…
    “Remember this: if two or three of you come together as a community and discern clearly about anything, My Father in heaven will bless that discernment. For when two or three gather in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
    Matthew 18:19-20, The Voice.”
    I’ve made beautiful friendships online and have been so uplifted by certain women during times when I didn’t have anyone physically here to take me to the throne. I hope to meet some of these girls someday, but if not, we’ll meet in heaven for sure!

  96. I have found it interesting that when I thought that having 1 of those social networks accounts was bad news for me due to my non discipline on time spent online turned out to be a blessing to others. I had on many occasions decided to cancel my account and then decide to give it another opportunity to live. Later on as I spoke to people they would bless me by saying that they looked forward to reading my status on that one account everyday. One even told me, “When I read it I think to myself how does she know I’m going through that? She’s speaking to me!”
    To tell you the truth it had nothing to do with me but the God in me whom inspired the words I “penned” down that day.
    There are others that I’ve know for many yrs and due to military moves we’ve been separated yet remain or have reconnected through these social networks.
    The networks itself are not evil it’s how it is used & the information others put out & share for the world to see.
    God bless you & keep on writing!

  97. Yes, I have. Two, in fact. One at Women @ Home, a group of women finding a home online together (wahministry.com) and one at Wives of Faith, an online community of military wives (wivesoffaith.org). I’m blessed, truly blessed, to have both.

  98. Yes! I am part of a 30 member message board about faith and motherhood. Over the past seven years, I have met many of them in real life. They have been a wonderful blessing to me.

  99. Yes. I love hearing how God has used the good and the bad in other women’s lives for His glory.

  100. I definitely have found online community friendships with facebook. I have reconnected with people from high school who I had close relationships with and who have moved a distance away. It’s as time hasn’t passed and I love it

  101. Yes, I’ve found real community and friendships on-line and look forward to eternity when I will meet these women face-to-face. I’ve gone through the deaths of two of my 12 children – a stillborn daughter in 1998 (http://inmemoryangelahope.blogspot.com) & the death of my 16 year old son to a “game” that killed him. (http://matthewsstory.com/) To be able to share with other women who have understood the depths of my pain and then later to be able to reach out to newly grieving moms has been definitely a life link.

  102. I blog, Facebook,and Twitter and love the opportunity to connect with friends from other places as well as keep in touch with people right in my own town and church. I’ve watched as one gal will post a need or a question on FB or Twitter and have a community of others ready to give an answer. We have considered a women’s ministry blog to facilitate some menotring relationships at our church. As great as it is, the online community is just one of the many ways women can connect with each other and encourage each other but it should not be the only way. I agree with a previous comment, sometimes you need the flesh and blood person to hold a hand, to look you in the eye, or to give a hug.

  103. I am 2000 miles away from my home church and family. We are missionaries in MT. My online friends are made up of my church and family friends on FB and my blog. It is the easiest way to stay connected and close.

  104. I’m finding I have more in common with my online “community” at certain times, over my real life friends. Sure, there is a balance between both worlds, but let me tell you, sometimes the online friends nourish me more. I’m so thankful.

  105. I was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease earlier this year and found a great online support group to join. I’ve met so many amazing people through this forum. We’ve become sort of a small family. What I love about the forum is that everyone supports each other unconditionally and is non-judgmental. It’s great knowing there are others out there who know exactly what I’m going through because they’ve been there themselves. They offer something some of my real-life friends can’t because they’ve lived through it. I can always count on this group of people to lift me up, give great advice and encouragement, laugh with me, and if need be listen to me while I cry and vent. They truly are a blessing!

  106. I’m fairly new to the (in)courage community, but it has become one of my favorite daily places to “visit”. I’m always so surprised to see that so many other women, mom’s, and wives are going through some of the same “challenges” as me. This is truly an encouraging and uplifting site!

  107. It seems amazing to me how when online there are no barriers to connecting with other women who are believers in Christ. This community of believers from around the world are ready to pray for women they’ve never met. The passion to interact and to pray for one another is what I love about being a part of the fellowship of believers in Christ via in person or via a blog cite.

  108. I have found community with some people online. And this is very much a blessing from God!! You see I’m not really one of those people that usually participates in online discussions or leaves comments. Over the last year and a half life has changed a lot. My sister-in-law sent me an encouraging forward that I needed a few months back and so I checked out the website. I have since been on three and have corresponsed with ladies on these Christian sites. I have found community among these wonderful ladies and have even befriended a young lady who I have become very good friends with who lives in the Philippines. She has been a blessing. She is so encouraging and I really hope I have an opportunity to meet her in person some day. There are wonderful people who are seeking love, acceptance, and appreciation and they often find it right here!! That is what community is. Thanks for that!!!

  109. I have learned that it is so easy and wonderful to stay in touch with friends who are far away, make new connections deeper in less time and just “keep up” in this crazy world where with so many demands on our time, too often people and relationships get overlooked. The web, internet, email etc keep me in touch!

  110. I enjoy the people in my online community. Some are close by, and I can see them often if I care to. Some are faraway, and I can only read and be inspired by their posts. Some tell me truths I don’t want to face, and some tell me beautiful stories that feed my spiritual appetite. Yay for online
    friends everywhere!

  111. Hi Lindsey, Just wanted to pop in and say hi here! 🙂 … Love how you share your heart and your faith online… and make it your “living room”. I love the kindness of strangers who become friends as we swap our stories, traveling by faith.

  112. there is totally “real community” on line.
    but, ideally…this should only be a suppliment to the kind with skin on.
    It is weird to have people I have never met, read my words and know me better than some of the friends I hang out with.
    but i need both. some to get coffee with, some who read my words, and occasionally even a few who do both.

  113. The past few months I have been taking some religion courses online – one on scripture and the other on prayer. I had been frustrated that with young children it was difficult to participate in what was offered at my church. I would have needed to arrange for childcare. Online I can do the readings and participate in the discussion boards whenever I can fit it in. The discussions we have had have been quite educational and inspiring. Everyone is there to learn more about their faith and encourage others to do the same. It has been a great solution for me.

  114. I have a few friends that have never blogged or facebook, and also think its a little strange. But, i love being able to connect with other women across the country. We are all in this together!

  115. I have a blog, though I’m new to the world of blogging. I love e-mail. And, I struggle with whether I really need any of it. But, I’m positive I need face-to-face, sit-down-and-have-a-cup-of-coffee friends. What I love about the online community is the different kind of friendship it offers–putting yourself out there in a whole different way and seeing if someone you might not ever meet actually understands.

  116. The thing that is the best about online community? I feel I can be ME…without any judgement. No worrying about what others are thinking or how they will respond when I have something to share, or a “shocker” of some sort. When I have a crisis I can go online & find people who will pray for me immediately. I have been introduced to people, cultures, stories that I never would have experienced in my small hometown. I love the friends I’ve “met” over the years. The encouragement, prayers, and love have blessed me in so many ways. I truly feel loved by christian women and am appreciative of others.

  117. Most definitely! And it came as a beautiful blessing for me. After losing my daughter, I became a part of Project Sweet Peas, a group of moms who donate care packages to parents who have a baby in intensive care units. PSP is made of 14 projects all over the US and Canada and its headquarters is pretty much online. I have never met any of these women in person,but we communicate daily through email and Facebook. They have become one of my strongest sources of support for dealing with my grief as many of them have lost their children and understand me and my situation more than others around me in person.

  118. Oh yes, ma’am, I have definitely found community here!
    What is extraordinary about my online community is the grace, love, and I’ve-been-there kind of support I find from these gal pals. It’s just awesome. Like totally. 🙂

  119. I think that what makes online community different from real life (and therefore stand out) is that these relationships are built (usually) without visual judgement.
    In real life, we look at those around us and visually make up our minds – her kids aren’t dressed in gymboree with matching bows, how old is that car?, he was in jail! I could never be friends with that kind of person.
    Online, there is anonymity, a security in not being ‘out there’ while at the same time being free to be ‘out there’.
    Nothing can take the place, imo, of face to face relationships. Being able to meet up for coffee or lunch, going to the park with the kids or the ball game with a buddy.
    The online community brings people together from all walks of life, areas of the world, circumstances and experiences and allows a friendship to be forged that most likely would never have come together.
    I am blessed! I have community where I live and around the world (and thanks to skype – I can meet my online friends a lot cheaper than flying around the world).

  120. I don’t really find community online. I use lots of the online tools to keep in touch with real life family and friends who are far away, but I intentionally focus more on building community among the local church.

  121. I have found a lot of encouragement and inspiration through the online world and it started here at (in)courage!

  122. I’m a writer when it comes to my thoughts, feelings and fears. It’s hard for me to say it all in a conversation. Expressing myself comes more naturally through writing and getting it out, sifting through my words rather than just spilling it all. That is what I have come to love and value about online friendships – time.
    And that no matter what time of day or wherever we are someone is always reading or writing or commenting and it feels like they are right there, just when I needed it.

  123. I have found a few people to pray for & encourage me, and I do the same for them. I have also connected with real life friends in a deeper way that I am very thankful for!

  124. I love the blogging world because it connects me to others I probably would not talk to in “real life”. I have found that it also keeps me honest & I have been able to be more real.

  125. I have blogged for 4+ years now – have met 10 of my blogging friends IRL. Blogging friends have prayed my preemie twin grandbabies into a healthy birth. I know many don’t get it, but my blog friends are as real to me as those I see every day – some much more so!

  126. I have a daughter with sensory processing disorder. For 3-4 years I endured pathetic or disgusted looks, condescneding remarks about parenting, and even lost “friends” over my daughter acting out due to sensory over-stimulation in public. (No, acting out isn’t OK, but meeting her sensory needs comes first, then discipline for choosing the wrong behaviors.) It was online communities of other parents with similar kids that brought me back to a point where I didn’t feel so alone. There were suggestions shared, frustrations and joys discussed, and ideas for how to use her disorder in her growth rather than it holding her back. Those online communities were lifesavers for me. I was at the end of my rope and frustrated with my daughter.
    But I realized we could embrace her challenges and gently guide her through them rather than try to force her through them. I realized that all those other people are not my audience, but my daughter and Christ are. How would Jesus respond to my daughter’s challenges, when God himself made her? He would love her and embrace her and guide her through good behavior choices, but he would not ever alientate her.

  127. I love being able to bounce things off the brains of my online “friends”. I’ve encountered some very godly, wise individuals and have learned a ton from interactions with them on Twitter and on our respective blogs.
    And next month, I’ll be making an online relationship into a real-life relationship for the first time when I will finally get to meet one of my “Tweeps” in person. I love this!
    http://daughtersheart.wordpress.com

  128. Wow. Great post, Lindsey.
    And you know I’ve found community waiting for me online.
    I will always maintain that it’s no substitution for Real Life relationships, but there’s something about the connection of a person faithfully reading my daily thoughts (via the blog world) that really helps them know me. And vice versa. Maybe if I could just get a daily dose of my IRL friends, then all would feel balanced.

  129. The Matthew 18 passage is referring to Church Discipline. But I still agree with the post.

  130. Hello,
    Yes I have found a community online and am looking for more!! I have been in and out of so many groups, but those that I have been a part of have been a blessing!!
    Currently I am looking for a community of women for friendship and support and to share life with.
    I am thankful for InCourage and what you offer…What a blessing!!