Alpacas, Gerbils, and Community – Oh My!

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”

Matthew 18:20


Did you know that Alpacas spit?  Maybe you were already privy to that information, but I always thought they were far too cultured for that.  Apparently, while they won’t spit at you, they will indeed spit out into the great beyond to share their disdain for something that you might be trying to introduce them to. Like, say… a harness for the first time.

And, did you know that there are Gerbil Rescuers? Oh, yes. There. Are. You know how you can bring home “two male gerbils” and 2 weeks later you awake to miraculously find that there are approximately 23 more are in the cage now, too?  There are kind folks who will swoop right in and help you make that right.

I learned these things, and so much more, from these beautiful new friends that I made at the inRL Meetup that took place at my home this weekend.


I wrote here, back in March, that I had taken the leap and signed up for the (in)courage inRL (that’s in real life) meetups that were going to be taking place this past weekend, around the world. And not only did I sign up to attend, but also to host at my home. (‘Cuz I’m just extroverted like that).  I wrangled a sweet friend with Mad Decorating Skills to come help me in that area because God so clearly neglected to give me that particular skill set.  True story. (And that would be the beautiful lady on the far right up there!)

My friends, if you didn’t get a chance to make one of these this year?  Put it on your calendar for next year. NOW!  It was amazingly refreshing and uplifting and encouraging. And I have pictures to prove it, of course.

But first, I must show you how I started the morning.  I put on my brand spankin’ new white inRL t-shirt, and proceeded to get lipstick right on the front of it.  Lipstick that is, apparently, immune to any sort of stain stick. Trust me – we tried a few different ones.  I took it as a reminder, from the God that provided this opportunity for community, to Keep It Real.  Amen?


As each new woman walked in, I reminded myself to breathe and to just brightly say, “Welcome!”, instead of rushing to explain what was staining the front of my t-shirt.

And do you know what was amazing?  No one noticed.

Do you want to know what else was amazing?  These women!  Not a single one was at the same stage of life as me.  Not a single one had a child with Autism.  There were two without any children at all. (Although, we’re all counting the Alpacas as children after our conversation!) We were all at various places in our faith journeys, in our work lives, and relationships.

We may not have been a large group, but God brought five women together to learn about what community can feel like -with all the pain and joy it brings with it – in real life.

And it was so good.  So. Very. Good.

With the icebreaker over and the gabbing winding down, we gathered around the screen to watch the webcast on Staying in Community. There were so many heads nodding throughout, that I thought heads were going to fall right off of bodies! Such wisdom was conveyed during the telling of these genuine and heartfelt stories during the webcast.  A few of my favorites were the following:

  • “We all need to be told it isn’t too late to make it beautiful.” –Angie Smith
  • “…we walk around and pick up a few of each other’s shards to add to a few of our own. Because that is what good friends do.  Become safe places to break wide open and share the shards of our mess.” – Kristen Strong
  • “The thing that wounds us is often the thing that God will walk us through again to heal us.” – Mary DeMuth
  • “Sometimes when we stay, it’s because our testimony isn’t about us at all- it’s entirely about Him.” _-TeriLynne Underwood
  • “You need imperfect people in your life to perfect your practice of love.” –Ann Voskamp

These were just a few of the many many thoughts I tucked into my heart during this webcast!

The talk of mentors had my head spinning for the rest of the day. I didn’t write down who said, “Mentors are like anchors. They ground us when things get rough.”  I chewed on that for hours!  And Marina Bromley spoke of the importance of being real: “One of the best gifts you can give to a mentee is to not be perfect – but perfectly open.”  Oh. My. Soul! Don’t we all just crave someone to be real with us?  Someone who will let us be ourselves and not turn us away when we botch it up and good? Who will call us to the carpet when we’re turning away purposefully?  And love on us when we aren’t?

Are you feeling like you missed a great opportunity?  Don’t! If you missed it, I do believe it will be made available later on, in DVD format. I’m going to tell you straight up to run and get yourself a copy, when it does! You will be so thankful.  And encouraged.  Who doesn’t want that?  Who doesn’t need that?

This is one event that I plan to take part in forevermore.  It did my heart and soul good to know that I was part of a larger community of women who are trusting in God to see us through every stage of life. And that we’re better… together.

Yes, indeedy!





26 thoughts on “Alpacas, Gerbils, and Community – Oh My!

  1. Pingback: In Just Two Weeks | Missindeedy

  2. I am praying that this time next year, Opie’s stomach issues are under control and that I can make the trip to you. Seriously. And I LOVE the red lipstick stain. Only, I would have explained it the moment the first lady placed a foot in the door. That’d be my insecurity keeping it real! HA!!! You go girl! I love it all!

  3. Glad all went well. And I love the pictures, especially the lipstick on the T-shirt. You should have had everyone auto graph it when you were done… a testimony in itself.
    off to write… got sidetracked… been missing you!

    • Sue – what a brilliant idea the autographing would have been! A testimony, indeed. I’ve missed you around here, too. So glad you’re back!

    • Took my vacation and was back a week when you left… Started cranking stuff out from the trip though, just had to tame the laundry, etc..,

      Lipstick though, a mishap – so appropriate I guess

  4. A delightful recap of our day, Missy! I was truly refreshed to overflowing by you and the other new friends I met. And, no, I never noticed the lipstick! Isn’t it funny what we think others are going to notice? Like Lisa-Jo said, nothing can intimidate us quite like another woman. I was so grateful to not be intimidated, but be welcomed with open arms by other women who focused on our real selves. Thanks again for hosting! ❤

    • Girl, I got your card and book today and laughed and teared up at the same stinkin’ time! I’m so glad you were so brave and came. And that you didn’t even notice the lipstick. 😉

  5. How totally fun! I do feel like I missed out. I watched the tweets and posts from the sidelines and wished I were there too. Boo! I’ll be watching for the DVD, that’s for sure! Thanks for your awesome recap.

    • Are you kidding me?!? Yes! Yes! YES!!! Ok, it’s settled then. I would absolutely love to fly up and stay with you for it. Wow, you are so gracious and amazing! Can’t wait! Let the countdown begin. Whoop whoop!!!

  6. Your meetup sounds like it was so wonderful! And yes, all the little quotes collected from (in)RL left my mind churning for a while too. So many good things to take away…

  7. So, so glad you enjoyed yourself.
    I have a long story about why I didn’t get involved. It just never did work out for me, but I suspect that is because God knew I’d spend the weekend with a stomach bug. Not a great time to have women over. All’s well that ends well. There’s always next year.

    And now I’m beyond curious about the Gerbil thing.

    • I’d be glad to tell the tale of our two male guinea pigs and the subsequent 4 babies.
      True story… happy ending
      Sue @ The Unfinished Child

    • All of these tales. I’m slightly afeared. 😉 I hope that bug is way outta there by now, Fringe Girl, and that you can drive up here next year. I’ve got a bed for ya!

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