April 28, 2014

Your Story Matters... (ALL of it! Like, for real!) - an (in)RL recap

I am still processing the highs and lows(ish) of this weekend. This is the second year that I have hosted a local (in)RL Women's Conference meet-up in my home... opening doors and arms and inviting women to come on in, to make themselves at home, and create Community beyond the screen.  I wrote about my experience last year here... it was my first time and I fell for some crazy high expectations and forgot to give myself some grace... 

Yeah. That.  I didn't let that happen this time around!

I spent weeks preparing... little touches, crafts, gifts purchased (thank you Dayspring!) along the way - and lots of praying.  I'm not so sure if this is a laid back PNW thing, or just a 2014 thing, but I was having myself a TIME getting my ladies to RSVP and/or Register.  I had a brief moment last week teetering on Freak Out Ledge but I talked myself down quickly because, well - I learned from last year.  

As Lisa Jo says, Scared is the New Brave and Small is the New Big and what I kept hearing the Lord whisper softly to my heart is this: "I will bring who I will bring... this is for you as much as it is for them..." 

Because for all of us, He want us to know:

"Your Story Matters..."  Not just the pretty (or prettied up) parts, but the whole! Not just the part where everyone came and it was awesome, but the truth of how some didn't come, couldn't come, wouldn't come - but He was there anyway!

So because this was for me as much as it was for 'them' - I stepped up into my element! My how I love to host and create community and pay attention to details! I flung wide the doors, and welcomed ladies in... one by one by one, myself included.

The heart behind this conference is to build Community, to strengthen and create friendships, to open up real conversation and to be a bench... to offer time and space and hearts wide open to listen and to HEAR each others' stories.  It is a time to invest.  

Oh yes... and eat... for what is (in)RL without chocolate and coffee... and cuppy cakes?

So we filled our plates and our cups and we got comfy and cozy and let the stories begin to be told out loud... conversations face to face in real life as well as braveness and beauty being shared freely across the screen. (Thank you, Incourage women - for being real and sharing openly... for the Brutiful Truth of God being right in the mess of things, as much or more so than when everything is Bright and Shiny Happy!)

Our Group Selfie - because, it's 2014 ya'll!                                             

 We listened to the women on screen share their stories and it gave us grace to ponder our own stories, and boldness to feel like it was ok to say everything is not fine... life is not always Pinterest perfect... sometimes anger arises, and we fight with God... sometimes we are confused and fear creeps in... sometimes we doubt that our story - that we - matter at all.  I think overall for my (in)RL meet-up, it was the encouragement to share the pretty and the messy of our stories, it was the bench we all huddled on together, and mostly - it was the power of feeling really heard that gathered our hearts in closer! The realization that ALL of our story matters... like, for real! All of it is being woven together to bring Him glory!  We realized that those little signs are TRUE and they are Truth... 

"just be yourself"  
"you are enough"
"Oh, the places you'll go"

Together... together, we are letting this sink in deep and saturate our souls!

(in)RL 2014

So here we are, Monday morning... and we have already connected in a private Facebook Group... we have plans to go see Mom's Night Out together in a few weeks, and we are continuing to huddle on that bench, online and in real life, together as we watch God build Community right where we are!

So because it's Monday, and I am still processing, and I love to count my gifts one by one... here is a random short gift list from my (in)RL gathering, done Ann Voskamp style:

Counting On...

#2036 - Vintage Books made into gifts... Bird Page Ornaments, Bookmarks, and Book Boxes galore...

#2037 - My Girlie helping prep... cutting up all the fruit and veggies for me on Friday and leaving me a note on Saturday morning before she left for work!

#2038 - A relaxed atmosphere... (despite all - and I do mean ALL - the technical difficulites on our part!)

#2039 - A friend who brought not only fresh flowers - gorgeous! - but also saved the day by bringing her laptop (as both of mine crashed... on Saturday morning... see what I mean by ALL the technical difficulties?)

#2040 - Women who love... who notice all the little touches and appreciate the overall experience. Friends who pour back in when they see you've poured out!

#2041 - The BEST Sugar Cookies ever... custom made by Lily's Sweet Treats and gorgeously packaged for each guest!

#2042 - Pinterest Recipes that are a win... easy and delicious!

#2043 - Laughter and friendships beginning and growing as the day went on!

#2044 - Seeing so many women onscreen this year that I am blessed to call friends both online and #inrl! To see and hear faces and voices that I have experience live and in person... such a blessing!

#2045 - Cuppy Cakes... because, of course!

#2046 - My Twitter feed Friday and Saturday... so fun!

#2047 - "Don't start with a program. Start with a plate!" ~AnnVoskamp

#2048 - "God has added the Extra into my Ordinary and made it Extraordinary!" ~Kristen Welch

#2049 - "When I got into community, I realized that people were very messy and difficult...that I am very messy and difficult." ~Alia Joy

#2050 - "Your words can bring healing. Your words can bring life. Let your pain have a purpose. Don’t hide your story." ~Bianca Olthoff

#2051 - Sharing the real gritty parts of where our stories are right now... and not feeling like anyone was trying to fix it... but that everyone was leaning in to lift up and hold close truths spoken through tears, prayers released silently and under breath... vision and hope being restored!

#2052 - A Honey who knows that once an event is over... it's not really 'over' for me until I have played with the pictures for awhile!

#2053 - Already having people who came and people who missed it saying that they want to come again next year! (Mark your calendars, people!)

#2054 - Tripods (and my neighbor - aka my Mama - for when the timer won't work on your camera!)

#2055 - Leftover Cuppy Cakes - because, of course!

Linking up with Ann Voskamp in Counting (beyond) one thousand gifts...

What Gifts did YOU discover last week?  Did you watch or attend an (in)RL meet up over the weekend? If so - what stood out to you the most? I'd love to hear!


  1. SO beautiful. You put your heart into all the little touches and it shows...and the signs! Girl! Love it all. Isn't it cool that we were together in this while miles away from each other? Love how God does that. <3

    1. Are those signs not perfect? I had to have them for inrl and now I have them still and must find a place for them somewhere! Oh - and I'm super excited for our virtual coffee date with Amy Tilson too! :) Let's plan that for reals!

  2. I just love that you're already making more in real life plans with your girls! That's what it's all about :) (and your decor was just gorgeous!)

    1. Crystal - we all loved hearing/seeing you share your story! Thanks so much for braving real and pressing through!

  3. First, PNW! Woot! Me, too. :)

    Second, crazy high expectations and giving yourself grace. I so needed to hear that today.

    1. Marie... so - where in the PNW are you, friend? (I'm in the middle of WA State!)

      Crazy High Expectations and Giving ourselves Grace... yes... I think we all need to be reminded of this! So glad you stopped by!

  4. You know what I wish? I wish that we didn't live on other sides of the country, that we could actually sit down for a nice long CHAT, because Karrilee? I love you! I love your heart, I love your real, I love your intentionality, your creativity, your faithfulness, the way you love others well. Thank you for being YOU!!!!

    1. Oh Becky... I am with you on that wish, my friend! How amazing would that be to sit down, unrushed, for hours over coffee and just chat? (Do you Voxer? I gave in and somehow - even though I am not a phone person - I love to Vox!) I love you right back! You bless me so!

  5. I just want to sit around and say the words cuppy cakes over and over because how fun are those words! ; ) Great post!

    1. Paula... LOL... I know, right? So how can you NOT say Cuppy Cakes now?


  6. Anonymous10:41 AM

    How much I would love to join you sitting on that red couch and sharing our stories.

  7. I love joining you on that red couch, listening to the stories and seeing your beautiful face. Thank you.

    1. Chris... I am so glad you 'stopped by'! I hope you enjoyed #inrl! It's pretty amazing, every time!


Thanks so much for stopping by! I always love to hear your thoughts! Remember to: Speak Life - Be Love - Shine On!

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