We’re back from a week off the blog, and I’m back from four days spent with nine of my best buds — my fellow bloggers, my brothers, my heroes. We gathered in the Midwest for our second annual summer retreat, and I daresay this year’s gathering was even better than the last.

Last year, most of us met in person for the first time after only “knowing” each other online; to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure we would hit it off. After all, just because we all struggle with the same thing doesn’t mean we’re gonna fit together like peanut butter and Fluffernutter.

We’re ten different personalities — introverts and extroverts and everything in between.

We diverge on all sorts of interests — music tastes and fashion styles and affinities (or lack thereof) for sports.

We’re ten different people. Ten different guys of all ages and races and faith backgrounds. All attracted to the same sex.

Turns out the ten of us would get along last year. We shared laughs and games and meals and organized/spontaneous discussions alike. By the end of that weekend, we knew we’d be doing it again the following year.

And so last weekend, at long last, we did it again.

We now had a full year of knowing each other — really knowing each other — beyond “just the Internet,” and it was especially rewarding for me to sit back and watch our bizarre little brotherhood evolve quicker and funnier and deeper this year.

We hugged each other one-by-one as each brother arrived at our AirBNB mansion. What a simple, profound thing. How often does that happen in real life? Instant hugs at the door?

We cooked feasts in our magnificent kitchen and ate jovial meals around a long dining room table.

We went on a hike for water that never existed — though we did catch some Pokémon along the way.

We embarked into the city and walked over 8 miles exploring the streets together, stopping often for epic photo opps.

We sat in circles and ovals and amoebas and talked in large groups and small groups about pornography and friendships back home and the current state of our spiritual health.

Some of us are doing great; several are not-so-great. We were real with each other. No holds barred.

It’s been rare that I can feel real and belong with anyone — let alone a group of men. And so this retreat refreshed me in untold ways after a trying year of moving to a new city, starting a new job, and struggling to slide communal pieces in place.

At last year’s retreat, we talked about recreating our old blogs; this summer, we marveled over all God has done in the last year of this storytelling community.

It was a surreal looking glass moment.

We discussed some of our favorite moments, posts, and comments of the last year. And we even recorded some of that conversation.

That recording will be coming soon to an Internet near you.

Last year, we talked about building a simple blog; this year, we talked about better building our community.

And so, I’m excited to announce we’re launching our very own podcast!

We’ve already recorded several podcast episodes, and we’re in the final stages of editing and submitting this first batch to iTunes! We’re stoked to breathe this new voice into our stories.

Expect 45-minute episodes of nitty-gritty, under-the-communion-table topics with plenty of laughs along the way. Expect real people and real stories, just like you. Just like yours.

Our aim for Your Other Brothers Podcast is the same as our blog: authentic accounts that don’t sugarcoat or wallow but tell both sides of the story. Additionally, we hope you discover greater depths to our individual and collective personalities that a blog can’t fully translate.

We hope our new podcast helps you better see us.

We hope you see a better picture of our brotherhood, and we hope you feel welcome at our table — wherever you are.

Our official launch date is not yet determined, but once we’re up and running we’ll need your help! Subscribes and downloads and ratings and reviews will be pivotal. If you wish to preserve your anonymity, you can always use an alias for your rating/review. Your 120 seconds of contributing will help us in monumental ways.

If we attract enough activity, our podcast will launch onto iTunes’ “New & Notable” podcast page. And if we make it onto the front page, there’s no telling the scope of our reach — not just for the podcast, but also for this blog.

This community.

Soon these two communities will merge into one — one storytelling brotherhood seeking to give God all the credit for our topsy-turvy journey.

We hope you’ll join us then as you’ve joined us now. If you’re not already a “podcast person,” give us a listen and maybe get converted. I used to not “get” podcasts myself, but they’re perfect for long drives and workouts and cooking in the kitchen.

I’ve fallen in love with the podcasting medium. I love the feeling of listening in on a bunch of friends razzing each other and getting real together, like you’re quietly rocking in a chair also in the room.

Because I’m just too excited for this, here’s a small taste of what’s to come on Your Other Brothers Podcast:

It’s unpredictable when iTunes will officially approve our show once submitted, so keep watch on our blog and via social media to stay in the loop about our first batch of episodes!

We’re all so grateful for this community, our readers. We feel blessed to take up residence in some corner of your lives — a corner that’s feeling less digital and realer by the month.

And so. The story continues . . .

Will you support our new podcast with subscribes, ratings, and reviews? What are some other podcasts you listen to? What does “brotherhood” presently mean to you in your life?

Enjoy our content? Consider supporting YOB!