One of the most fun things among many fun things about The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference was meeting up with bloggers I'd previously only known via their teeny tiny avatars (and their words, of course). Here's a quick run down of the fun MIRL's I enjoyed...
(and, if you were wondering, MIRL is "meet in real life" in blogspeak)
I was so very excited about meeting my longtime blog friend Elle. I've known her and her blog for so long that I can't even remember how our blogging paths crossed! She is outgoing and exuberant and lots of fun, just as I thought she'd be. We chatted and laughed together several times over the weekend and she was even gracious enough to share her notes from Nancy Guthrie's breakout session when I had left my laptop behind in the room. I have great admiration for Elle, for her writing, and most especially for her unwavering faith in the goodness of our sovereign God and my esteem of her has only soared after meeting her for reals.
I was also eager to meet Sandra Peoples. We've been blog friends and Twitter buddies for some time but it wasn't until we were able to talk face to face that I realized just what kindred spirits we are! We sat together at the writing focus group whispering back and forth about the medium and our place in it and I'm pretty sure if we lived a wee bit closer we would be BFF's.
Speaking of the writing focus group, I was glad to meet Gloria Furman of Domestic Kingdom who played hostess to the group along with Collin Hansen and Lydia Brownback. Gloria is as earnest and as passionate about the gospel as you might think if you read either of her blogs. And so young, too! I think I am probably old enough to be her mother but I try not to think of such things. After our Twitter and email and blog conversations, it was great fun to finally meet.
At the same writing focus group I introduced myself to Jenn Wilkin whose Bible study I am working through this summer. When I told her I too was a Bible teacher she encouraged me to "Fight on!", a worthy and timely exhortation for the humble Bible teacher like myself.
At the very early impromptu blogger's breakfast (6:30 am Eastern time which was, you know, 5:30 to us Central timers) I met Aimee Byrd of Housewife Theologian (who recognized me immediately which is crazy). We had a great time discussing our blogs and our ministry therein in addition to Bible study and more specifically the book of Hebrews. She is as fervent and thoughtful and charming as I would have guessed from her blog. And tall.
Speaking of the breakfast, I also had opportunity to meet Trillia Newbell and she was genuinely gracious and kind and, like Gloria, young. I made some new blog friends as well: Kristi Stephens, Sarah at Martha-Martha and Lindsey at By Faith the Carlsons, just to name a few. I enjoyed drinking copious amounts of coffee while chatting about our writing lives and our real lives.
I knew Rachael Starke would be in Orlando and thanks to the wonder that is Twitter we arranged to meet at the workshop led by Nancy Guthrie. When we finally realized we were sitting one row from each other, she exclaimed how much thinner I look in real life versus my Twitter profile pic! And I will certainly take her comment in the most flattering way possible even as I look for a new avatar sooner rather than later! Ha! Kidding aside, we hadn't chatted but for a few seconds before we were discussing complementarianism and the role of women in the church and other similar theological issues. In other words, Rachael is intense but in the best kind of way! And did you know she's Australian?
On my way to another workshop I ran into fellow blogger Melissa of Mel's World. We had opportunity to resume our chat for a few minutes after Saturday's final session. She is just as warm hearted and ebullient as I expected.
Maybe it was the TGCW12 tee shirt I was wearing that tipped her off to our conference attendee status but Monday morning while we were hanging out in the hotel lobby waiting for the airport shuttle, Nancy Leigh Demoss approached and asked how we'd enjoyed the conference. Actually she first asked my friend if they knew each other but after deciding they did not she stayed and chatted with us for nearly ten minutes or so. How fun is that? She is as humble as she seems on stage, with no pretense whatsoever. I was glad for the opportunity to tell her in person how meaningful her books Brokenness, Surrender and Holiness had been to our small study group and I thanked her for her faithful ministry to the Lord. She was very kind and gracious and seemed genuinely glad to meet us.
I told you beforehand of my introverted unease with social interaction. Meeting new people can be intimidating for someone like me and crowds, large or small, often make me want to run and hide somewhere. Somewhere alone. At the same time, I've also freely expressed many times here on the blog my gratitude to the Lord for using blogging to bring into my life many likeminded women from around the globe. What fun for the virtual to become the actual this weekend as I was able to meet some of these godly women I respect so much!
All of this joy in meeting and greeting made me think of heaven, of our soul's true and final homecoming and the joy we will know as we rejoice together before the throne of our Savior King, the Lion-Lamb who by His death ransomed a people for Himself. Together as His people we will sing of His worthiness in worship and wonder. The blood of Christ binds us together not just as friends and bloggers but as sisters and fellow heirs to the coming kingdom that will never end.