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(in)courage is a virtual living room where we build community, celebrate diversity, and become women of courage.

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  1. “Step back and behold.”
    These are words that make me think more about the woman who is standing behind me than the ones nearby, and rather than focusing on my own awkwardness, your words invite me to be mindful and outward.
    I also spend days looking at the screen, writing and un-writing then rewriting, sending words out into the world using minutes that might be better spent scaling the heights of Mt. Laundry or vacuuming up dog hair. Something keeps me doing it — I hope it’s the Spirit of God and a call to teach and to encourage women and not my hard-headed hubris. But I do know that your place in this fellowship of writers and thinkers is important — an encouragement — to me.

    • Michele, EVERYBODY needs encouragement. I especially need it with some things I deal with. I tell myself to move forword and follow the path into your destination, remember to enjoy, embrace, and trust the process. A friend posted a comment similar to this and it really stuck in my heart. Thank you for the encouraging words – you too Alia Joy

  2. Alia Joy,
    I think your words resonate with all of us because we all, at some point, compare ourselves to others and deem ourselves somehow less than, unworthy, as an outsider. Deep down inside, I think, we all want to be part of the “in” crowd, the cool and interesting people, the popular group. I’m not really sure who comprises that group, but a pretty long lifetime of living has told me that often the really interesting, deep thinking, compassionate, soulful people sometimes stand outside the circle of the “in” crowd. In fact, that’s where most of us dwell. Your words give this insecure girl, who was afraid to express her opinion about anything, the room to express my thoughts and share my soul. I would share my thoughts secretly in diaries, but never once thought anyone would care about what I might think or have to say. You give each of us courage that, we too, have a voice and that we matter. I love your heart, Alia Joy, and the realness you bring to the circle. You are honest and express some of the thoughts and feelings that the rest of us are too afraid to share. You are a pioneer, a front-line soldier in this quest to take off the masks that we wear. I love your writing and I’m so glad that, here at (in)courage, we clumsily take a step backward all the time so that the circle can widen and others can feel as part of the group. Thank you and God bless you….
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • I agree with what you both have said, Alia Joy and Bev… thank you and many blessings to all of us as we widen the circle and love others as ourselves. We are all in this together! God’s joy and peace to us today.

  3. So encouraging. Thank you. I can relate. So much easier to put pen to paper, or click the keys on the keyboard, than to voice with my voice. Most times. Some settings are easier than others.

  4. So inspiring! My life feels similar to what you describe. Courage, girl! You are a magnificent masterpiece of God. He made you to withstand awkward. Who am I kidding, I’m speaking to my own heart. 🙂 Thank you for being willing to take the chance of rejection and be vulnerable with us. For every critic there are twenty others blessed.

  5. Thank you so much for your willingness to be honest. I live that life of never fitting in yet longing to. Feeling like God wants me to share how He has lead, been faithful, keeps me when the pieces of life don’t make sense. Yet still I struggle so much to find my voice. Thank again for finding yours and encouraging me to find mine.

  6. Alia Joy,
    Thank you for sharing we have all felt the way you describe at one point or many points in our lives. An outsider or not fitting in but God is with us and For us and one of the best friends a person could have. He really provides the comfort in either his word or in the form of a friend or family. You are so blessed to be writing for incourage, you are good enough, talented enough, you are enough just as you are. Thanks for the reminder of Gods love and that we belong xx

  7. “We tell ourselves such good fiction about how our lives don’t really count for much, not in the grand scheme of things.”

    Thank you for the reminder that God gives us worth and purpose.

    I love the image of stepping back to make the circle wider. So simple and so important, whether I’m part of the circle or looking on. Because of your words, I’ll remember this.

  8. As a newbie starting this journey as a writer this resonates with me. After a year and a half of writing I attended one conference which resulted in contest awards, an agent and two publishing offers within three month. I’m amazed when God says YES but I shrink back because I feel so unworthy and unequipped. Oh, sister, your beautiful words have breathed such encouragement over me. “My voice matters even when it trembles. I proudly join the chorus of brave women penning my freedom song.” Thank you so much for sharing this.

  9. You know exactly how we feel–those of us who write in the margins of the web. We add our quiet voice on the side of the page hoping someone will see and terrified they will. You paint a delicate word picture, a kaleidoscope view into your heart. Thank you for showing us the hidden places. I plan to share this in my writing circles so that others will find a fresh breath, a releasing grace for the words bound up in their hopes and fears.

  10. I love this so much, friend. And I love your kindred heart that’s stepped back to make room for mine. Gosh. Yeah. I just love you.

  11. Precious sister. I hope you know how crazy I am about you. You are amazing in your ability to give authentic, personal truth that women can immediately raise their hand and say, me too.

    Thank you for being you, and putting in print, the hearts of so many.

  12. Alia Joy,
    You set off an explosion of thoughts in my head that are hard to marshall, but have blessed my heart. I, also, often feel like an outlier wanting to be part of the larger circle, especially when that circle is a group of women. Nothing for me is scarier or more sought after. It’s taken years of time with the Lord in scripture to see that with or without that entré, I am worthy, even extraordinary, just because He made me. But, there’s a specific purpose in His creation for me and my particular set of abilities. I sing with a large, women’s acapella chorus. My voice isn’t very loud, but stacked behind the right singer, together our sound has more resonance and volume than if we were separated – the physics of sound – something else God planned. So, I look for outliers to stand behind in my daily life, because they make good friends. And together we bring to the group so much more than we could… alone. Thanks for underlining this so effectively.

    Waving to you,
    Charlotte

  13. Blessed be the Name of the Lord who was & is & always will be! My thought was that it was so hard stepping out but now I am challenged to “step back” & watch what God will do when I give Him the space to do things His way! Be blessed even as you are a blessing!

  14. I admire the courage you ladies exhibit in sharing your lives. There is nothing better than reading something that is real and makes us realize that we are not alone and as awkward and outcast as we feel. I love your honesty and ability to pull us all into the circle of sisters.

  15. Alia Joy,
    It shouldn’t matter if your voice reaches ten or tens of thousands. What should matter is the remarkable courage it took for you to try. I thank-you for sharing your gifted voice, and appreciate the courage it took for you to do so.

    Have a blessed day all,

    Penny

  16. Alia, your story matters. I spent the weekend with mothers who have children who all come from hard places, beginnings, and while we didn’t write, we told our stories. We had “me too” moments, and tears. We felt the feelings of inadequacy, fear, not being enough, and how hard we all try with our kids to have them receive love, heal, learn to love, and in the midst of caring for our children, we be accepted by people instead of judged, etc. In telling our story, and listening to each other with no condemnation, and understanding, we came to breathe, laugh, play again, cry with relief, and compassion. It brought a balm and a healing from telling our stories and having other people listen. It is vital we tell our stories. The barbs hurt, but the telling is necessary for our souls.

    I’m so glad you tell your story, I understand you and the people you represent by your courage and vulnerability writing of your thoughts, feelings and experiences I wouldn’t otherwise understand. Keep telling your story.

  17. Thank you so much for these words. This is where I’m at in my life. This past October my husband and I retired from doing foster care. We did it for 14 years. The blessing of those years were 3 bio brothers we adopted. That chapter of our lives is over and I wonder where do I fit in now. What do you have for us now Lord? There are many times I feel so alone and that I don’t fit in with anyone person or group. I know God loves me and I have to stand on that and just rest in Him. He will see me through this and there will be victory.

  18. I know the feeling, but that’s all it is. I have lots to say. It’s not the cursor that mocks me. I know venturing has blessed me if no one else, and I hear differently. I get lots of good comments and try to return them. That feeling of being inept, is just another attemp t ostop the God given flow of expressive words, words that (in)courage and heal.

  19. I always always love your transparency and courage. Thank you for it again, Alia:
    “… it’s nothing but ridiculous grace for a girl who spent lifetimes telling herself tales of insignificance to have found her voice. And even more so to find her voice matters even when it trembles… When we’re not so busy pushing in to belong, we step back and behold. We find we’re beloved right here with wide spaces for God to work.”

  20. once again reminded I’m not the only one who feels and thinks and struggles with all these things. seems like you touched on EVERYTHING that goes on in my heart and my head. so wonderfully overwhelmed with encouragement, no words seem adequate to convey all the ways you just helped me. thank you for sharing the right words at the right time in His Name. Reaffirmed and Ready to Write On, Sister!

  21. Wow, its amazing how what you wrote felt like words coming from my heart. Thank you Alia Joy for sharing this, it is such an encouragement to my heart this day. Thank you for reminding me to keep on keeping on. Indeed as you say :”When we’re not so busy pushing in to belong, we step back and behold. We find we’re beloved right here with wide spaces for God to work.” May we always remember to step back and behold at the work that God works through us.

  22. Thank you for this reminder. We all go through life or a season of feeling not good enough or not part of the “in” crowd. Sad that adults still behave this way. From my experiences, God uses this time of loneliness as a reminder to us of how we feel. We can step back in the circle and be mindful of others who are not apart of the “in” crowd. Welcoming others into our circle. I felt this full strength and took action at the soccer field. Seeing women I knew from different crowds, I invited each one to walk with me around the soccer field as our children practiced. Knowing how they felt sitting there alone I took the first step. It was a great thing to see each of us walking together and feeling apart of a group for once. Thank you Lord for loving us. Thank you Alia Joy for your thoughts, encouragement and honesty with your feelings. We are all apart of the same circle. May God bless each one of us today and always. Hugs

  23. Alia Joy…….it seems as though you got in my head and took the very words I have been so afraid to say out loud or write down. You see, for months now God has been putting signs out there to “Write My Story”! FEAR….why is it we allow this 4 letter word to take over? Fear that the very ones that put me down and said all the hurtful things will attack even more. I have been silent causing them to be silent so if I step out of the darkness will they? The more I spend in God’s word, the longing to speak out is growing stronger. Thank you for writing this….so glad I saw it today!

  24. Alia Joy,

    I totally agree with Bev. I, too, tend to compare myself to others. The lies come & I tend to believe them. All women want to belong to a group-especially the “in crowd”. Often times the more interesting people are on the outside-standing on the sidelines. Your words give encouragement to women everywhere to take off our masks, un-fine ourselves and tell our stories. We should pray away the anxiety and fear and open up-even if in small groups and share our story. We may find we are not alone in our struggles.

    Blessings 🙂