Lisa-Jo Baker
About the Author

Lisa-Jo is the best-selling author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood. Her newest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them.

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
Recent Posts

Reader Interactions


  1. I’m very interested in the ‘how to’ of building meaningful connections. There are many different people in my life from different areas but I don’t feel a community around me. I have meaningful individual relationships but not meaningful community.

    • Seeing how to reach out to those you dont usually come into contact with, for example those people who are stuck in hospital – how would you go along one afternoon a week and visit them, or people in prison, or people who are your neighbors who dont get out much, idea for how to reach out to them and be their friends that you might serve them and share the gospel with them.

  2. I would like to explore taking the first steps back into community. I know that this what I find hard.

  3. Small groups with missions in mind whether it be local, national or international

    • that’s the exact thing I was going to ask Kristin ~ I am in the middle of two houses ~ trying to figure how to get involved in my new community

  4. What I’d love to see explored and opened up is the role of, and the loneliness of, older (over 40-ish) single ladies in the community. Divorced, widowed, never-married.. there are SO may of us – all with giftings, ministries and motivation – and the longing to feel necessary to the Kingdom and others, and part of the whole Body. Especially those of us without children.
    As I’m in England I won’t be able to attend a gathering unless a miracle happens, but I would be the first to buy the DVD etc!

    • Jenny,

      One church I attended had a group “SWOG”-Single Women of Grace (church was Grace Fellowship). The women ranged in age from 35-70+ single, divorced, widowed, etc.

      We would meet at various times. One person would open their house for holidays like New Year’s eve, & we’d got spend the night, play games & have fun. They had various activites. Even had spontaneous get togethers like eating out after church.

      Try starting a small singles group of women who get together periodically. You can start by going out to eat after a church service.

      Just a thought for you today! May God bless you!

  5. How to foster community when you’re extremely shy…or to be more inclusive in the topic, how to foster community with extremely shy people.

  6. I’d like to see (and explore) further the role of community in terms of well-being, specifically how it affects people who are ailing or recovering.

  7. I’d like to see more ideas of exploring community in groups — what is everyone else doing in small groups in the church e.g. community meals, etc.!

  8. My hearts desire is to find a cure for Childhood Cancer Awareness. I would love for you to explore the area of those Mom’s out there who love & care for their precious kids & family while also caring for their child who is busy kicking cancers butt. These Mom’s have continued to INSPIRE my heart every single day <3 Feel free to check out my page on Facebook: Childhood Cancer Awareness <3. Tweeted on Twitter <3 Have A Blessed Day & Week <3

  9. I’d love to talk more about doing community outreach with our children. As a homeschooling mom, I’d like to teach our daughter more about the importance of helping people in need actively, but sometimes I’m not sure where to begin.

  10. I would like to discuss how to draw others out. Sometimes those who have been wounded just can’t open up and trust. What are some things we can do to assure them that our community is safe, and there is healing in Jesus if they are able to let go.

  11. I’d like to talk about creating community with those we don’t have much in common with –other than proximity. The only thing I have in common with my neighbors is that we live on the same street – it’s hard to build community when you spend most of your energy trying to connect with those you have a lot in common with. but we are called to love our Neighbor!

  12. I am interested in learning more about creating small group communities – whether they be all women, all men or couples groups. Thanks!

  13. Practical ways to have community while also being diligent about spurring each other toward godliness…. more than just friendship.

  14. What to do when the community you’ve built gets messy. Conflict in relationships. Sometimes not even with us but just leaving us stuck in the middle.

  15. I would love to explore how to build community with people of different cultures. Although I have lived internationally, and have tried to build community with women of various nationalities; I also long for community within the “sub-cultures” of my own native US of A. This can be more difficult for me than crossing the borders of another country.

  16. I would love to hear from women in leadership roles in the church…difficulties and joys of being a leader, etc. Thanks for all you do! Love this blog! 🙂

  17. Learning how to begin those conversations that will or can lead to deep connection. I know it can’t happen in a moment, but I feel like the women in my church are so disconnected. I think we need connection. I want to connect with the women in my small church at least on the same level as I can to several across the globe.

  18. I would like to find more ways of involving people not only within the church community but helping them get involved in serving the needs out in our community.

  19. I would like to see suggestions for getting others involved in community that don’t often get involved. Any tips and suggestions would be wonderful! Also…how to step into community when you’ve not ever had a desire to be a part of a community.

  20. I would like to see more about how to start a community and then come together for one big conference and then how to begin teaching on how a meaningful committment will built meaningful conversation that will in turn lead to meaningful relationships that will encourage other women of all ethnicities. I’m so tired of being separated when we all have REAL issues that will lead to REAL deliverance once we all come together and talk about them.

  21. Getting involved can be difficult for many because we are not all social… small community enables few people to get together to work for a great cause… Would love to see something regarding being single and the “waiting for Mr. Right” issues and how not to get discouraged for there are others who are experimenting the same issues…

  22. My pastor has been preaching on a series called i3 – it stands for identify, initiate and invite. We are looking at ways we can reach within the communities we are already in… say at work or in our neighborhood and reach people for Jesus. It seems like the longer we are Christians, the fewer non-Christian friends we have… which doesn’t make it easy to follow God’s command to go and share the Good News with those who do not know. I’ve been on lots of mission trips and yes, those fields are ripe for the harvest, but we’ve got a HUGE mission field right here in our own backyard. We just need to take that next step… walk across the room and say hi… be willing to be vulnerable and open up with those around us. I’d love to see something on this topic addressed. Thanks!

  23. I would love an opportunity like this to share with my kids in daily devotionals and family projects. This will help further strengthen the family, as well as provide guidelines to get “into” our community and share the love of Jesus. Eventually, joining families with other families to share what they are doing and where they are headed, to allow it all to grow organically. Thank you for asking!! Will also Tweet to share 🙂

  24. I’d love to read a series either on how to be “un-fine” or a “fake extrovert”…or tips on creating community when you’re burnt out from always being the planner.

    • Yes! I agree. I have pulled away from “community” because I feel like my women friends tend to wait for me to plan things. If I don’t plan a girl’s night out, get-togethers don’t happen. I know we’re all busy in our lives, but it makes me question the closeness of my friendships. I like meaningful friendships – not the kind that seem satisfied to meet a couple times per year — when I plan something. I’m burnt out on “leading” and planning for others. I am becoming “un-fine” with this. 🙂 I don’t want to be a party pooper, but I feel myself slipping into preferring to spend time alone and/or with my family, rather than deal with flaky friends who can’t make/keep plans, show up on time to plans we’ve made, or sometimes not show at all. I understand things happen sometimes that interfere with plans (I try to be gracious…), but it’s happened so consistently that I’m extremely frustrated with dealing with the messiness of community with flaky Christian women. I would love to know how you leaders deal with this?

  25. I would love to see some focus on older Mums – or maybe widows. The lonely. There are so many ways older women would benefit from taking a leap into the internet world. And the real life side may be a way to get them started. And the young ones?? Maybe you could also gain from the older ones!

  26. I would love to see suggestions on how to get involved in family ministry within the community.

  27. Area of community…hmmm….this is gonna be abstract, but….knowing when to be there and how to be there. Being open to the Lord leading you to someone’s door just when they need the encouragement. Not being afraid to step out if faith.

  28. I loved (in)RL and can NOT wait for more! I second what several people have said for next year – how to build relationships in community and how to overcome hurt in community and how community can help you heal too.

  29. I would love to see you discuss “Children/tweens and how to raise a Christ-like child in today’s society with good morals and character”. Children today have so many obsticales, that did not exist years ago. With technology, single parented children(either divoreced or never married), children that aren’t raised with manners, children that aren’t raised in church, or children that do go to church but aren’t living Christ-like at home. All these factors make it so difficult, when you’re children go to school or extra curricular activities. My husband and I try our best in today’s society to raise our sons and daughters with good christian morals and character; with all the factors in play.

  30. Ohhhh another topic – (you don’t have to count me twice) is how to bridge cultural differences. How to approach and invite those with a different ethnicity than yours.

  31. I’d love to see the role of the community in terms of adoption /orphan care/fostering.

  32. As other’s have mentioned, the first steps to “community” are often the hardest. It is especially challenging (DAUNTING) if you are single. I think often children open many of those doors.
    Thanks for all you do!

  33. I shared on Facebook (Keri Slinde Ritenour) and Tweeted (@KeriRitenour)!

  34. Giving women (me!) the strength to know that “ministry” can be right in their home,neighborhood,or town as well as across the world. I know for myself I used to feel that if I wasn’t participating in global outreach of some kind I wasn’t serving God. It starts in my heart and radiates out…first stop….my family!

  35. I believe you are doing a wonderful job encouraging women! Life is hard, keeping our cups filled with The love of Christ so we can pour that love back out into our family is so important!

  36. I would love to hear about how women in all stages of life get together in community. They can be single, widowed, divorced, married. They just get together and share ideas & basically have fun together.

  37. I have a hard time connecting with women in more than just a superficial way. I would like to be able to make deeper connections with in community.

  38. I think it would be great to visit the blessing of older women/younger women relationships – “breaking out of your peer group.”

    When I was a young mom, with a traveling man husband, it was the pre-teens next door (and their moms) that bloomed beautifully into help! Oh, it wasn’t coffee out, but it was my community! Since then I’ve come to look for community outside my age bracket!
    Older women have time, wisdom, and life experience, and younger women (or girls) have a need for a “mentor” to learn from. It’s Biblical too!! 🙂

  39. I am feeling lead to start a small group study for women who are struggling in their everyday walk with God. I am not even sure where to start. I just know that I am supposed to be doing more than I am and that I am praying for God to lead me where I go from here. I would love more on small group studies and even journaling. So that I could share it with the other beautiful ladies in my life. Thanks!

  40. How to go deeper with the community you already have without fear of pushing people away.

  41. Something that’s been on my heart is ministry to single ladies above the childbearing years. There’s little if anything for us on the Internet. You all at (in)courage do a really good job of loving everyone. But to have something included next year about us single girls would be nice. Certainly not the whole theme but a part of the program. Thanks. Love you all…<3

  42. I would love to go deeper in groups of parents of teens. This is a diffucult time for teens and their partents. The teens are half way between babies and “all grown up” (or at least they think). My passion I would like to explore involves getting these parents together to learn from their experiences. I would like to expand further into a ministry where parents of older children mentor the parents of younger teens (they will be closest to it and be able to speak into the “Life Stages” of this group). This woudl be a community of education, mentoring and support for these all important life stages. I would love to call it “Parenting in Stages – the gift of knowledge that somes through experience”. Deanna Roach

  43. I would love to see the idea of intergenerational community explored. What does it look like to be the family of God? What does it look like to foster friendships and mentoring relationships with women outside of your age group? The Bible promises significant blessing when this type of community exists (and destruction if it doesn’t – Malachi 4:6). The Church is a family, more important than even our blood relatives, so how can we faithfully and intentionally live out our various roles as spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, etc.?
    How can the old reach out to the young and the young to the old? We so desperately need to bridge the gaps that divide us and keep us disconnected from one another. We can then begin to break out of our communities of similarity and have small groups with young single women, middle-aged mothers, widows, grandmothers…all across the spectrum. Learning how to love, support, encourage, strengthen, and teach one another without always needing to have a small group for mothers or singles or young adults exclusively (which are good and I love) but to also foster communities of diversity, to be the Church together unified in love and intentionally involving ourselves in each others lives.

  44. I would love to learn about creating community between older and younger women. Titus 2 says that the older women are to teach the younger women. What does that look like? How can we go about beginning these mentoring relationships?

    • I love this topic, too. I am mentoring 2 younger women, and I am also the
      “mentor Mom” for our MOPS group that meets 2 times a month. It is just so wonderful to share with them what God has done in my life, and hear their hearts and desires to grow in him. We just talk, pray and encourage each other. It works for us. They tell me where God has been working in their lives, and I do the same. They tell me their struggles, and I tell them mine. And we pray with and for each other. Both my girls and myself have grown so much, and the most important thing is that we are growing in relationship. It has been so good for me and I them.

  45. I would love to see more on getting past shy (being shy personally, but also when the other person is shy). Another topic of interest, what can we do together once we have come together in community, such as community service/volunteerism. Thank you so much for all you have done with this conference, looking forward to next year wholeheartedly!

  46. I would love more on connecting with younger women and helping create a community of high school and college age beloved young women that struggle with those confidence and courage issues that face all of us, just on a different level for their age.

    I am beginning a program for the high school girls’ basketball team this year in our community. Through Christ, we will be praying together and developing a support system of character coaching and mentoring for these beautiful young women. Right now, I am in prayer and conversation with Jesus about finding the right words and balance that will touch these precious lives!

    Thank you for being beautiful examples of spreading the word of God and leading through love. I appreciate you, dear ones.

    Nicole Delaney

  47. I agree with Lana, Deanna and Nicole…we need to focus on guiding our tween and teen daughters. As a Christian mom, I feel overwhelmed trying to protect my daughter’s innocense from the world we live in…the media, television, music and school exposure are just off the charts right now with inappropriate messages and over the top violence and sexuality. I focus on trying to guide and shelter her..but it has become increasingly hard as these influences are EVERYWHERE! I would love to share in what Lana suggested above as even though I am highly focused on having a Christ centered home..the outside influences of our world right now are bombarding our tween and teens with images & messages on a constant basis and the media seems to be pushing the limits of “acceptable behavior” to the extremes. I would love to have more tools and perhaps create a nationwide “community” where we all could join together to help each other..Thank you for all you do!!!

  48. I would love to hear more about bridging the age gap between the older women and younger to build a stronger community. Thanks for this!!

  49. “What area of community would you like us to explore for (in)RL 2013?”

    More stories how social networking has been effective in real life. :o)

  50. I am going to echo what Kris said for it is heavy on my heart. Building community of women with all ages, focusing on Titus 2 and the desire of the Lord for older women to instruct, teach, disciple younger women.

  51. Creating a new community guide for the introvert — I’m not a natural ‘connector’ of people but I’d like to start an (in)RL community of women where I live.

  52. I’d like for you to explore not just the philosophy and Biblical call of community, but how tos in both real life and online. In the same way you thought out of the box with inRL, I’d love to see more of that trickling down into life weekly.

  53. In today’s cyber world where people often lack community in real life, your timing for reaching women and getting them to connect could not be more needed or appreciated!! thank you!! For the next in(RL) perhaps you could explore better or more creative ways to get an interest in women meeting up in real life to form friendships and point each other back to the Lord!!

  54. I would love to explore ways to establish more connections and relationships with multiple generations of women. I am a mom with two young children and really long to have more community with moms a few steps ahead of me. I would also love to be more connected with women who are just becoming moms. I just think it is such a gift and blessing to encourage each other as moms at all stages of our journey in motherhood, but I am having a hard time figuring out how to facilitate these relationships! Thanks. 🙂

  55. I would love to learn how to heal and unite broken community. I have been in a small church that has gone through over three years of hurt. I miss the closeness we all once had and the unity not only in our frinedships, but in Christ.

  56. Yea, DVD’s!!! I’m planning another get-together next month, and we’ll get to watch the videos we missed due to talking too much last time! For next year, maybe a bit about finding/making community when you have young children? My youngest is now nine, but I remember the days when they were little and how I needed community so much.

  57. I would love to learn about how to connect with my neighbors. I’ve been living in my new house for a year and have only met a handful. I’m wanting to find ways to connect with them and build relationships.

  58. I would love to see you guys address community living that bridges the gaps between varying seasons (Single, Motherhood, Married, Career, Young, Old).

  59. How amazing would it be to see a community of Grandmother’s inspiring the younger women of today… The simple things in life matter most…. The older women can teach us so much if we only took the time out of our days to include them.. they have so much to say… sure things have become so modern today but the true thing about life is connecting personally, not always thru email, txting, and non personal ways.. I personally have instilled in my 14 year old daughter that closeness with people comes from reaching out and being willing to meet for lunch or to help when someone is struggling… and for her to see what being a wife and a mother and a friend is all about… I was taught all these things by my mother and grandmother which are now both in Heaven… Can’ t wait until 2013 webcast…

  60. I agree with the person who said getting back into community. For me that’s huge because I’m shy or introverted or whatever. My husband says just do it but it isn’t that easy for me. We moved to Montana in 2008 and I still don’t have a group of friends to call on when I need community…

  61. Someone else commented “Getting involved in a new community….how to find the courage to jump out there and be yourself.” That’s me TOTALLY!! ♥

  62. I’d like to learn more how to build a community of women. Our church is filled with lots of older women and young mothers. I’m not very outgoing and having a tough time “fitting in” (I’m an older mom).

  63. Maybe about ideas of groups we could form, how to do that… especially if you are shy…

  64. Greetings… I was born in and live in New York City. (A Nuyorican). Even though Puerto Rico is in someways related to the US (all Puerto Ricans are US citizens), my heart cries for the poverty and the horrible state of things there. Some of my family still live there and tell me that it is a dangerous place to live. While trying to see how my church family here is connected to the church in PR, I see much disconnection. Churches not wanting to work with ours because of what I have to call judgement of minor things (looking down upon congregatations here). Only one congregation would look forward to my family members walking through their doors. The others will accept them if they look, speak and live a certain way. What happened to “Come just as you are??” That acceptance and family love is just what attracted me to my church in NYC back in 1978. The church in PR that I speak of is far from where my family lives. Please pray for unity and that the heart of Christ reign with us all. Thank you.

  65. i would love the opportunity for areas to be opened up for grandparents. how to keep the lines of communication open, and the closeness with the grandkids when they live far away… as well, as dealing with adult children who are estranged from the family group.

  66. So many good ideas already listed for 2013!

    I would love to learn ways to develop and MAINTAIN community with those who are often fledglings-they come and go. I want them to STAY, but it’s hard to get them to stay when they don’t show up or don’t return calls/messages. Does that mean I give up?

  67. The best way to find a good growing encouraging community for Christian women!

  68. I would love more information about how to connect with the over 40 and single women and maintain community with them!

  69. I would really love to see an area of community for women, moms, who struggle with depression and anxiety…..and might be hesitant to get involved as self esteem, sadness, and anxiety are overwhelming, and even in an “anonymous” place where it usually can make one feel safer to open up and talk, it is still scary, and readers sit back with their loneliness, and sadness, when they could be getting so very much out of community!

  70. I would love to see ways to keep your community interactive and engaged. For instance, meeting themes or ideas for meetings, giving everyone the opportunity to participate, even those wallflowers.

  71. I’m not sure if this is what you meant, but since you focused predominantly on online community this year, I’d like to see something re: community among those you meet at church (specifically women). I find that I meet people – maybe in a class or serving – and enjoy their company and hope to stay in touch with them, but then life happens and we lose touch. I go to a large church so I may go weeks or months without seeing them again.

  72. I would love to see something discussed about how to get our teens more involved in their community, helping them find the motiviation…

  73. I just loved the idea of doing a family eating out night…I wonder though who you invite…without leaving people out…do you just invite and and all and whoever shows up?

    • Barbie I am right there with you. I read Emily P Freeman’s book “Grace For The Good Girl” and Angie Smith’s “What Women Fear” and it has helped me open up to new ladies. We are all beautiful in God’s eyes and we all matter. I will pray for you to be able to open up to new ladies.
      God Bless You.


  74. I would be interested in learning ways for introverts and those lacking trust to build relationships with people.

  75. Enter me in! I would be interested in learning more about community beyond your front door. Finding friends in the lost. Serving the needy. Meeting with the sick. Helping the struggling mother.

  76. I would love to hear how I can encourage those who NEED community to join in….those I want to build community with, but they don’t seem to have the time. How do I get them interested and active in building community? I would also love to hear how we can build community around family (getting my husband and kids involved). I have a few ideas, but I’m sure there are SO many more ideas out there! I have LOVED inRL and I’m so excited to keep moving forward through the opened doors God is bring because of this community. 🙂

  77. I tweeted it!!!!
    I would like to explore the community of single mother’s and women who have been abused by their husbands. I was a single mother for 6 years and God brought me back together with my ex-husband and father of my 2 boys. He found Jesus and changed and Jesus opened my heart up to forgive him and I still loved him. It is so hard to trust after you have been hurt but God brought us back together. I wish I would have had a community of God fearing women to lean on during that time.
    You guys rock!!! I really enjoy (in)RL and I am looking forward to next year.


  78. I would love more on how to get out of our comfort zone. Building connections outside our normal circle of friends.

  79. oohh I too like the bridging gaps idea. Being a mom of teens, I want to relate to older women and younger!

  80. In 2013 explore inter-generational community. Sometimes we tend to stick to connections with those we have lots in common with and exclude those not in the same life stage as we are. There is much to be gained from mixing up the generations. We can learn from each other but how to make it work.

  81. a 50’s girl (empty nester) starting over in a new community in a small town ~ knowing how to step out there…..

  82. I would like to see more on the importance of mentoring. How start a mentoring relationship, and how you grow in maturity as you seek him together; As you walk toward Christ and encourage one another to grow more like him.

  83. I’d like you to explore the idea of women’s ministry when I don’t really like women’s ministry as I have known it.

  84. what about supprorting each other in our femininity (sp) and to encourae each other

  85. For me personally, I need to work on connecting in community and stepping out of my comfort zone to meet people and make meaningful connections. Also information on how to really carve out time to establish and maintain community during the hectic years of parenting would be helpful.

  86. Love all of these, as I read through the comments! So many good ones! Something God’s been putting on my heart lately is just how to serve one another and support one another as women of God, regardless of marital status, what phase of life we’re in, etc. I think the Biblical example of womenhood is so important, but so not celebrated in society today…how awesome to come together, encourage one another, and show the world what a positive (and not outdated) that Biblical example of a woman can be!

  87. I love to experience “community” with women of all different ages and stages of life. At 26 I treasure the relationships I have with “older and wiser” Christian women I know. I am blessed to work with some amazing older Christian women…just this morning I rejoiced with a sister over an answered prayer. We both cried and hugged.. it was so wonderful. And she is 30 something years older than me!!! Age knows no boundaries when Christ is the center. It is wonderful to have these types of relationships.

  88. I have a daughter that is ten and I would love to reach out to her age group! I’m just not sure how to begin. I would love some input!

    • You should really check out the Balcony Girls lessons by Sandy Coughlin at the Reluctant Entertainer blog. It’s a great way to get a group of young girls together and help them grow in Christ. =)

  89. Discipleship….one-on-one discipleship. God has used this to transform our ministry and my life. I am so incredibly thankful that God brought the need for and power of one-on-one discipleship into our ministry lives! I am so excited about it I want EVERYONE to know about it.

  90. hmmm, I guess the idea of dealing with being lonely in your season of life. We are homeschoolers and it’s been a very lonely winter this year. I sometimes feel cooped up in our home and not sure how to build community with others who are always busy and on the run.

    ~Kathy K

  91. I’d love to see how to build community when it’s messy: you’ve let people down, they’re past the pretty exterior and realizing you’re human and make mistakes, and you’re rebuilding friendships, etc.