“Do we need to be here?”I posed that question at TheHighCalling.org (THC) today. It originated with Simple Country Girl, actually. She was kind of thinking out loud in the comments last week, wondering if she “needs” to be in cyberspace, or if flesh-and-blood relationships are the ones we really need to invest in.But we read an amazing story by Brock Henning, describing how he met one of my THC colleagues (and friends) David Rupert. We included it in the THC post or you can read it at Brock’s blog.Online or offline, people’s lives intertwine.And amazing things can happen.For example, I’ve already told the story of how I met Charity through THC but then met her in person, as well. Now we connect in all kinds of ways! Our family had the privilege of attending her church to hear her read an Advent devotional and light the first candle during the service.But I’ve also followed along with her Advent journey at her blog, where I enjoy her reflections and stories.Do I need to be at her blog? I guess not, but I believe my life is richer—and I think I know her better—for joining her there. She and I deepen our friendship both on- and off-line.This evening, our family sat around the table after dinner and lit the Advent candles. As we chatted, we discussed several topics. Then we quietly watched the flames sway.I kept thinking of Jennifer Dukes Lee’s THC post this morning that chronicled her Christmas mishaps. And then there are Michelle DeRusha’s Advent posts.Finally, I couldn’t contain myself. I summarized Jennifer’s snow-tumble and credit-card-flush and then described Michelle’s son’s unexpected reference to dead raccoons.Then I told them how different everyone’s lives are, and how fun it is to hear about it. The Voskamp children, for example, while normal and energetic kids, seem to make unusually thoughtful, meaningful—even holy—observations.My daughter pointed to Caleb’s wreath. “They are holy,” she joked, poking her finger into one of the holes drilled into the wood. “Get it? They’re hole-y.”My son started giggling, repeating “dead raccoons!” over and over and marveling at his sister’s play on words.Then he leaned forward and said, “I think we’re somewhere in the middle. Sometimes we say silly stuff, sometimes we say, you know, interesting stuff.”“That’s probably about right,” I said.I continued, “I’m telling you about these friends because it’s been so fun to read and share their stories online. Now I’m sitting here sharing them with you in person. I love that everything connects and overlaps.”We finished up by going around the table, each taking a turn praying. My 15-year-old daughter thanked the Lord that we have both times of laughter and times when we are more thoughtful.This evening, I felt deeply connected to my family, pleased that my kids felt comfortable just being themselves, “in the middle.”But I also felt connected to everyone who is practicing Christmas and observing Advent this week.During Advent—and all year long—we need to share our stories and encourage one another in this walk of faith. We need to laugh and learn and spur one another on toward love and good deeds.We need to be here, because we need each other.