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Getting to Hilton Head was stressful. I’m not what you’d call a sophisticated world traveler. I’m more what you’d call a sweaty, nauseous traveler.

But I got there. And oh! I am so glad I did. Not just because of the beach, either.

[Although, let’s be honest: The beach didn’t hurt. I mean, just look at it. Hilton Head could not be more gorgeous in September.]

But the best part of my trip wasn’t the beach or the time away from “Mommy! Mommy! Look at this, Mommy! Did you hear me, Mommy? Hey, Mommy!” It wasn’t the palm trees or the warm sand or the chocolate ridiculous cake.

[Although, again with the honesty, that cake was gooooood!]

The best part of the (in)courage writers trip to Hilton Head was . . . the (in)courage writers.

When Stephanie and Holley put together our [extremely diverse] group two years ago, I don’t think any of us had any idea of the community – no, the family – that would develop in a short time. These women, some so very different than me and all located several hours from me, have become true friends of the heart.

And though our bonds have grown stronger through emails and conference calls and comments and tweets, there’s just something so special – and so vital – about hugging each other in person, sitting together on the beach, laughing together on the couch, and taking turns with a table full of ridiculous desserts.

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Some of the women I’d only met once, and a few I’d never met at all. And yet, each of them – in their own ways – showed me (and each other) the most amazing grace those few days at the beach.

They showed me grace . . .

. . . when I really did get too close to the edge of the road (and the water . . . and possibly alligators) in the big white van.

. . . when they took one look at my sagging, tired face when we arrived that first night and simply said, “Girl, you look tired!”

. . . when they merely laughed at my “look of death” after a wake-up call gone awry. [What? I’m not a morning person!]

. . . when they asked me what my passion is – and then listened as I tried so hard to answer.

. . . when I didn’t even talk to her the first day and a half, because I was so intimidated.

. . . when I tripped all over my tongue, trying to compliment her book but somehow sputtering random, accidental half-insults instead.

. . . laughing hysterically at me tripping over my tongue and shouting, “Stop! Just stop, Mary!”

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Did you know that we’re planning to bring that kind of real-life friendship, that kind of beach house to you? Yep. Next April, (in)courage will be holding (in)RL, a weekend dedicated to connecting women in their own communities, all around the world. No packing, no flying, no road tripping in big white vans required. Check it out:

DaySpring and Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce hosted the (in)courage bloggers for a long weekend of dreaming, praying, and planning for the (in)courage community, along with relaxation and fun. Resort Rentals of Hilton Head Island generously provided beautiful beach front accommodations. DaySpring took care of all the incidentals and meals for each of the bloggers. If ever you’re looking for a family vacation destination, this is it! Special thanks to Jessica Gardo from the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce for helping coordinate our trip and being simply fabulous the entire weekend.

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