Book Club Begins Next Week!

I just want to send out a quick reminder that the Book Club with Sophie Hudson’s book, Home is Where My People Are, begins next week.

To avoid any confusion, ANYONE is welcome to join the book club, whether you received a free book or not. We invite you to join us! I am so excited to dive into this book with you.

You can purchase a physical copy here (there’s still time!) or the e-version here.

Also, don’t forget to check out Tyndale Rewards and sign up for FREE books & Bibles!

Home is Where My People Are

If you’re planning to join us, drop us a line in the comments below!

Sign Up for Tyndale Rewards

Home is Where My People Are

So, last week I shared our schedule for the upcoming book club being hosted here on the Allume site. I am so excited to see how many of you are hosting your own clubs with Sophie’s latest book, Home is Where My People Are. Y’all cleaned us out of books before the morning was over! I love that you’re on fire for some fellowship and community!

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I also want to give you a quick reminder to check out Tyndale Rewards and sign up so you can start receiving some free goodies! We’re talking free books and free Bibles. You can keep them for yourself or give them as gifts. So simple and so fun!! Come sign up here!!

Oh! One more thing! Allume tickets go on sale Sunday, March 1st at 8am!! The first 50 people get early bird pricing so set your alarm! (We’re getting too old to burn the midnight oil)!

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{Official} Book Club Announcement and Schedule

Home is Where My People Are
I am so excited to announce, officially, the launch of the Allume book club, starring Sophie Hudson’s, “Home is Where My People Are”!

 

I have been reading this and, seriously, you do NOT want to miss out on this opportunity to gather with some friends for some laughs, and some serious, southern comforting words.

 

Now, I admit, I am not from the south, but I feel like I could be. If it weren’t for my Michigan drawl, that is. But seriously, I love a lot of things deemed southern and when I read Sophie’s book, I nod in agreement and wish that things were more like that here in the Midwest!

 

I’m excited for the coming weeks and want to invite YOU to form a book club of your own. You can do it on your blog or within your church or local community.

 

We are giving away 200 books to the first 200 people who sign up for one HERE. 

WE ARE ALL OUT!

{Please note, only the first 200 people who sign up will receive a book, so don’t wait!}

 

And if you have never heard of Tyndale Rewards, you just have. They give you free books and Bibles — yes FREE! So be sure to go check them out and sign up for some free goodies!

 

Here’s the schedule for the Allume Book Club, hosted right here:

March
11th: Week 1 – Ch 1-3
18th: Week 2 – Ch 4-6
25th: Week 3 – Ch 7-9

 

April
1st – Week 4 – Ch 10-12
8th  – Week 5 – 13-15
15th – Week 6 – 16-18
22nd – Week 7 – 19-20
29th –  Close – Logan and Sophie Web Chat

 

Will you join us or host your own book club?
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Sneak Peek: allume Book Club

We are excited to give you a little sneak peek of what’s ahead in the coming weeks. Here’s a hint:

Coming Soon!

Want word when the news starts trickling? Sign up here to receive our posts in your email.  I promise, you won’t want to miss this!

Also…are you following us on Instagram? Yep, we just launched ourselves there and we’re giving away some pretty fun prizes! Follow us here.

Meet-Up’s and Roommate Link Up!

Another year of hard work, and in just a few days, the fruit of our labor comes alive in all of the faces gathered together for the 2014 Allume Conference. Frozen names and avatars will erupt into lively squeals and hugs.  Online relationships come alive, and our opportunity to impact the world for the Kingdom of Heaven increases.  Instead of dots haphazardly scattered across a map, we become a line of linked arms with the power to sweep a nation for Jesus.  We are better together…better in community.

SO let’s get ready to gather!

We love our informal meetups!  They give you a little more intimate look into some of the communities that feed into and out of Allume.  We are hoping you make the time to join at least one:

Friday – 5:30 – 6:30pm

  • Food4theHungry – Think Tank: Come and learn more more about the ministry of Food for the Hungry at their fhblogger meet up (www.fhbloggers.org). How they provide more than Food to the world’s most vulnerable. How they provide hope to those in need and how you can be there voice as a person of influence online and in your community. Join many other bloggers such as Kristen Howerton, Alli Worthington, Logan Wolfram, and many more amazing women that have visited Food for the Hungry communities all over the world and learn more of how you too can be a part of helping be a voice of the voiceless. We hope to see you there!
  • Seed Company Blogger Meetup – Prayer Room:  Come learn more about the work of the Seed Company and hear from their team of Bloggers.

Saturday – 5:00 – 6:00pm

  • Compassion – Think Tank:  Come hear more about Compassion Bloggers from Shaun Groves and Bri McKoy. This is also a time to meet some of the trip bloggers and get to know other people in the Compassion Bloggers Network!
    God Sized Dream: Crepe Myrtle: God-Sized Dreams, an on-line community of encouragement and inspiration for dreamers, is excited to host its first Allume meet up to welcome contributing writers, guest posters, and members of the God-Sized Dreams community.  Please stop by to visit with fellow dreamers and share how we can pray with you as your dream changes and grows.
  • hope*ologie: H: Whether you’re a member or just a Hope*ologist at heart, come join sisters Emily P. Freeman, Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) and their parents, Gary and Brenda, for some laughs, a high-five and some hope-filled conversation. There may or may not be a ukelele.
  • Over 50**Teal : Many women think approaching the big 5-0 means their best days are behind them. At The Consilium, we prove that our best days are ahead! We laugh, cry and pray together, and encourage one another through the challenges that come with being the “sandwich generation”. We invite you to celebrate this season of life as we walk in community, knowing God will use us to increase His Kingdom.

And as a community, we want you to have the opportunity to get to know one another.  Life happens in relationships, and we want to help you build them even before you arrive.  In the past we have done a link-up for attendees to get to know their roommates, so if you want to post a “10 Things My Allume Roomie Should Know About Me” then we welcome it.  If you’re like us and up to your eyeballs getting ready for the conference, then link up your “About Me” page from your blog.  The point is, we want to get to know you…and other attendees do too.

Photo Credit: Kim Deloach

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Veil of Tears: Hope is on the Way

A warm welcome to Gospel for Asia.

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Did you know that the women of Asia are one of the most unreached people groups in the world today?

The heart-breaking reality is that millions of these women who are precious, valued, treasured by Jesus, just like you and me, are downtrodden, oppressed, and worthless in the eyes of their society.

A woman in South Asia faces a life cycle of suffering. A burden of oppression threatens her very existence, following her from birth — and even before birth — to her death.

But despair isn’t the end of the story for the women of Asia. In the midst of these hopeless situations, there is glorious hope!

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A Widow’s Story

The story of Netramini shows the plight of more than 40 million widows in South Asia. After her husband died, Netramini didn’t receive the love and support that are common for widows here in North America. Instead, she was seen as a “bad omen”, rejected, and kicked out of her son’s house. With nowhere else to go, she began working, but Netramini’s health got worse to the point where she could no longer work. Her only option left for survival? Begging.

“I was completely alone. … No one would give me work so I had to beg. … I had nothing to eat, nothing to wear. I was completely senseless and didn’t know anything. . .” Netramini said.

She was forsaken, abandoned, and had no one to care for her. Netramini continued to get sicker, and for two days she lay abandoned in her house. Perhaps Netramini would have died there, but several woman missionaries, specially trained to reach out to the hurting and downtrodden, brought help and hope to this precious woman. Now Netramini has a home. She has people who love and care for her, and she knows that she is valued in the sight of Jesus.

Watch a short clip from “Veil of Tears: Hope Is on the Way” that shares Netramini’s story.

Gospel for Asia’s heart is share the love of Jesus with the most unreached in South Asia. One facet of our ministry is reaching out to the women of Asia with the rescue and hope of Christ! Gospel for Asia is impacting the lives of these beautiful women by teaching them how to provide for themselves with sewing machines, placing their children in schools, and sharing with them that Jesus loves and cherishes them.

The documentary film “Veil of Tears: Hope Is on the Way”, narrated by Natalie Grant and released in March 2014, reveals the plight of women in Asia and the hope that is on the way for them. Filmed on location in India in some of the most remote tribal villages in the world today, “Veil of Tears” takes you on a journey where few outsiders have gone before. The women of Asia tell their incredibly real stories of tragedy and hope, like the widow Netramini, young Maloti, and many others. Be inspired by the light of Christ shining through and changing lives.

Let’s learn, pray, give — and Be Her Advocate.

http://veiloftearsmovie.com

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Noonday Collection {Giveaway!}

A big, hearty welcome to Noonday Collection!

Noonday Collection is so excited to be sponsoring the Allume Conference again this year! This inspiring gathering of women so clearly highlights the values and dreams that are in Noonday’s DNA as a company. We love what happens when women come together in the spirit of uplifting and encouraging one another. At Noonday, we use fashion and design to bring economic opportunity to the vulnerable, and are passionate about bringing women together through our deeply interconnected network of Ambassadors, customers, and artisans around the world.

Sofiya

Artisan empowerment is at the heart of what we do, and we are honored to share in the stories of so many talented individuals in countries spanning from Rwanda to Guatemala. We especially have a heart for the female artisans around the world who are experiencing economic empowerment and freedom, many for the first time in their lives, because of sustainable jobs. In India, it is often considered inappropriate for women to work outside the home, but one of our artisans, Sofiya, dreamed of a life of independence and opportunity. She jumped at the chance to become a jewelry-maker, and became the primary supporter for her family after her father passed away. Through the artisan group, she has learned about her rights as an Indian woman and has even purchased her own motorbike—a rare symbol on independence in India.

Tigiest

Another of Noonday’s missions is to provide the tools women need to keep their families together. In Ethiopia, people diagnosed with HIV are often stigmatized because of the disease and forced to leave their communities, despite the fact that HIV is now as treatable as Type 2 Diabetes and cannot be transmitted by casual contact. When Tigiest found out she was HIV positive, she was forced out of her home and traveled to Mount Entoto to seek the healing waters that are believed to flow there. She was forced to leave two of her five children behind because she could not afford to care for all of them, a tragedy that left her desperate to reunite her family. On the mountain, she found a new community and a new hope. She began working as a jewelry-maker for Noonday’s partner group and with her earnings were enough to allow her to bring her other two children to live with her. She now provides a home, food, and an education for all five of her children, who are her pride and joy.

Ambassador Group Photo

We love that we get to connect women across continents, whether they live in Jaipur or Cleveland. Our network of 650 Ambassadors (and growing!) serve as the voice and face of Noonday in their communities. This powerful group of women are advocates, storytellers, and stylists and they create marketplace for our artisans at trunk shows across the country. For these unstoppable women, the community they have found in one another is a testament to what can happen when women fix their eyes on the same horizon. They come from all over the country and from all different backgrounds—they are homemakers, nurses, and computer programmers. Their lives may look different, but they all have one thing in common: a passion for seeing justice done for the poor. And that one thing is enough to unite them into a team of women willing to break out of their comfort zones, be vulnerable enough to ask for help, and celebrate each others’ successes.

Ambassadors

We are thrilled to be a part of the Allume Conference and to see firsthand the power of women gathering for the express purpose of growing, changing, and inspiring others. Our work across the globe has showed us that women everywhere have the potential to create big changes in their communities. And when women gather together, their combined influence has the power to change the whole world.

Giveaway

We want to give away $100 of Noonday Goodies to one lovely winner. Come on over and follow us on Instagram and then leave a comment below. Be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win.

Giveaway ends Friday at 11:59 EST.

Breaking the Cycle of Oppression Through Education

Please welcome Shining Light International.

There are 62 million girls around the world that are not in school.

Pakistan has the world’s second highest population of girls not attending school. Parents often can’t afford school or if they could, they send a son, and the tradition of early child marriages remained a frightening reality. Imagine attending a school where half the room is empty and there are virtually no females present to add their voices or participate in class discussions.  This is the scene in most schools in rural villages of Northern Pakistan.  

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Oppression and religious extremism create incredible hurdles for girls and entire communities to thrive spiritually, physically, and economically.  Not only are families struggling to provide food and protection from the violence that is prevalent in their nation, the lack of education severely stunts their economic opportunities.  When most Pakistanis are asked what they dream of most:  It’s education.  A hope for their future.  

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At Shining Light International we decided to join with our friends in Pakistan and say YES, there is a hope for the future. Through strong partnerships with local leaders, our goal is to empower and equip them to improve their own economic situation and create opportunities for their sons and daughters. Village committees are established to identify community needs and work with SLI to access urgently needed resources, materials, training and support.   

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Working hand in hand with the Pakistani people, Shining Light is aspiring to meet practical needs and resource sustainable programs. We do this through:

Education: 
Together we have established a private academy in which we provide high quality and affordable education to 375 children from troubled regions of Northern Pakistan.

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In addition, we have established schools in 4 rural Gujjar villages and provide school in tents with traveling teachers to allow nomadic families to keep their children in school as they travel to the high pastures. While the Gujjars have previously been 98% illiterate, there are now over 500 children, 150 of them are girls, in school for the first time in the history of their people.

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Women’s Vocational Training:
Women from all religious backgrounds; Sunni, Shia, and Christian are coming together under one roof for our year long Women’s Vocational Training Program in which they learn how to learn how to sew, knit, and embroider. Upon graduation, women receive a sewing machine to start their own business, provide a valuable skill to their families, or obtain employment.  In the mornings, the Center is transformed into a manufacturing space where graduates from the training program are employed in a safe, secure and supportive environment to design and manufacture products for sale to local and international merchants and organizations. We have been blessed to be a part of seeing nearly 300 women graduate from the program and gain an elevated status in their growing communities.  

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We believe that the only way to break the cycles of extremism and oppression in this region of the world is to equip men AND women to stand against them, and that when ALL children are educated, including the girls, entire communities are transformed.  We envision a world where light dispels darkness, hope overcomes despair, help empowers the helpless and prosperity replaces poverty making a much brighter future for many.

Join Us…We’ll be at Allume!

We could not be more excited to be joining such a powerful group of women who are using their voices and platforms as bloggers to change the world.  We recognize that to make a significant and sustainable impact in places like Pakistan, we need to gather an army.  An army of people who will stand with us and say:

YES…your little girls deserve an education.

Women are worth training and are crucial to a thriving society.

There is a hope and a future for the hurting communities of Northern Pakistan.

And we believe in you, so we will invest in you. 

We can’t wait to chat with you, hear your stories, and partner together to conquer the great justice issues of our day.  We’ll have scarves created by the women at our Life Stitch Manufacturing Center, Home Party kits to help you get started on raising awareness about girl’s education, and opportunities for you to use your blog get more girls in school in Northern Pakistan.  

Get to know us before Allume:
Hear more of our story: http://shininglight-intl.com

Connect with us on: 
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Google+

Speak

Giving a hearty welcome to Zondervan today!

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I wanted to quit the internet again today.

Surely, you’ve had these days, too. Right? Where the dialogue over the controversy du jour has reached fever pitch and everyone is screaming at everyone in 140 characters or less? You know what I’m talking about. And it’s REALLY easy to get sucked in. I did for about five minutes, but then I closed the lid on my laptop and walked away slowly. As soon as the laptop shut, it felt like the muscles in my chest released, I took a deep breath and could pull my shoulders back. Even my posture when observing internet battles is defeating.

This week, it was a Supreme Court ruling. Tomorrow, it could be a careless tweet or blog post from a famous pastor. Or maybe an off-color remark from a celebrity. It’s always something, it’s always loud, and it’s always exhausting.

I don’t want to suggest that productive dialogue can’t happen in social media. Surely not. I think some of the best and most thoughtful conversations and commentary are happening online these days. But for some reason, our screens provide us with a false sense of anonymity and security, both of which seems to give the illusion that we have carte blanche to say whatever we want, however we want. We forget that behind the screens, there are real people with real emotions and most importantly, real stories that inform those closely-held opinions.

None of us are immune to our own experience. We all have rose-colored glasses on, and when it comes to any host of issues, none of us are truly “objective.” Our stories – everything that we’ve been through in our lives – directly informs our opinions, politics and theology. The problem with the sound-bite culture of the internet is that there’s very little space to explain and understand each other’s stories in their full context.

This is where blogging, along with events like Allume, come in.

Blogging is sort of a funky platform. It’s got all the draws of the fast-paced culture of the internet (nobody likes to read 1500 word blog posts, am I right?), but it provides space for more nuance and dialogue, in a way that Twitter and Facebook can’t. Rather than 140 characters, you’ve got around 1,000 words to paint a picture, give context and most importantly, be vulnerable with people around the world in an instant. The blog can be on of the most powerful & effective places for you and others to tell and listen to each others’ stories.

Because really, that’s what it all boils down to. Our stories. It’s the stuff we’re all made of, the thread that runs through each of us. We all have a story. We’ve heard a lot about Story lately, it’s a pretty big buzzword in Christian culture these days. But I think it’s become popular because it’s actually really important. When we start being vulnerable and honest with the people around us (yes, even on the internet!) with the things we’ve been through, the ways we fail, the way Jesus has shaped us, it simply opens up the door for someone else to say, “Hey, me too!”

The culture of the internet has worked like a vacuum, violently sucking the life and humanness out of our cultural issues, out of our politics and out of our theology. They’ve become empty, hollow, full of cliché and void of empathy. By sharing and listening to each others stories, it injects the person back into the conversation. All of a sudden, we’re not just talking about a Supreme Court decision anymore, we’re talking about an actual person that was affected. It changes the game entirely.

I think it’s time for us to start changing the game in a big way. As you start to prepare for your time at Allume, I pray that you would be given a new sense of bravery and vulnerability. I pray that you would begin to write with a little more gusto, a little more power, a little more courage.

I pray that bravery gives you the courage to share pieces of yourself that could open the door for someone else to walk through and say, “Hey, me too!” And during your time at Allume, I pray that you are equipped to tell your stories in prophetic new ways.

Utah wedding and portrait photography

Nish Weiseth is an author, storyteller, speaker, advocate, and trouble maker with a serious Dr. Pepper addiction and affinity for Texas barbecue. She’s amazing at talking about herself in the third person. It makes her feel important. Her first book, “Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World” is being published by Zondervan and will be released in August of 2014. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and two kids.

 

Let’s Be Friends: 3 Ways to Connect with a Christian Publisher {Giveaway!}

 

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I’ve fallen in love in Ireland. I’ve rocked orphans in South Africa. I’ve felt the earth quake beneath my feet in Haiti. It’s amazing where books can take you and so far this year Ambassador International titles have transported me to some amazing places, opening my eyes to God’s story around the world.

Our company’s story starts nearly 35 years ago, in the dream of a young father in Northern Ireland who imagined magnifying Christ and promoting His gospel by publishing books. At its core, Samuel Lowry’s vision for Ambassador International was always to create products that would strengthen believers in their walk with Him and direct the lost to the way of salvation. Now we have offices in the US and Northern Ireland, distribution partners on four continents and our books are in the hands of readers around the world.

Ambassador International is excited to take part in the upcoming Allume conference, held right in our beautiful community of Greenville, South Carolina. Just as the goal of Allume is to help kindred spirits connect, learn and grow, Ambassador International is always looking for new partners who share our mission of using God-given talents to further the Great Commission. Here are three ways you may be interested in getting involved with us:

1. Apply for the Ambassador Blogger Review Team: Our blogger review team has grown to include hundreds of bloggers and we’re always looking for more people to join. Whether you’re interested in discovering the next great Christian novel or reviewing our latest cookbook, we’re searching for people who love to read and who love to tell others about what they’re reading. It’s a great way to score free books just for sharing your honest opinion. You can apply at http://ambassador-international.com/about/blogger-sign-up/.

2. Submit Your Manuscript. Do you have a dream of becoming a published author? Ambassador makes it easy for writers to submit manuscripts by visiting http://ambassador-international.com/getwepublished/submission-guidelines/. We work directly with new authors regularly and welcome the opportunity to discuss your project.

3. Stay Connected. We’d love to keep you posted about our weekly $.99 ebook sales, promotions and giveaways. We’ll even give you a free ebook just for signing up for our email list. Visit our website to get a free copy of Treasure of Daily Devotions.

Speaking of giveaways, to celebrate our first experience sponsoring the amazing Allume conference, we’re giving away a selection of brand new Ambassador books. One random winner will receive a library of Ambassador titles including:

 

  • Hot Chocolate in June, the true story of an accountant-turned-adventurer who finds faith and love in South Africa.
  • Declutter Now Study Guide, an 8-week journey for clearing clutter in all areas of life, from closets to careers, finances to feelings.
  • To Comfort a King, an unforgettable fictional story of the little-known woman in the Bible called to comfort King David.
  • Beauty From Ashes, the heart-wrenching eyewitness account of the 2010 Haiti earthquake from an orphanage worker and the 152 children in her care.
  • A Memory Worth Dying For, a nail-biting thriller that follows Marti Rushing’s attempt to stay a step ahead of her stalker.

To enter, leave a comment telling us which of those books sounds most intriguing to you! And win or lose, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with you online or at the Allume Conference.

Fine Print:

Please be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win.

Giveaway will end Friday at 11:59 EST.

Creating Vi Bella: a Beautiful Life

Today I want to introduce you to Allume Sponsor, Vi Bella.

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Vi Bella is more than just a jewelry company—it’s a transformative life cycle.

 

Vi Bella grew out of a trip to Haiti in June 2010. A severe earthquake had devastated Port-au-Prince just five months earlier. Vi Bella founder, Julie Hulstein, was overwhelmed by the desperate living conditions that thousands of Haitians were and are living in. The foreign aid Haiti received after the quake helped save some lives, but it did not address the causes underlying this heart-wrenching poverty. Haitians needed good jobs to empower them. To release themselves from the cycle of poverty.

 

As Julie and the mission team spent more time with their new Haitian brothers and sisters, they realized many Haitians had been living in extreme poverty for decades. Jobs were and still are scarce. Many Haitians could barely afford to feed their families let alone pay for school, clothing or housing.

 

Julie prayed God would provide a better life for her new friends through employment. In April 2011, God answered these prayers with Vi Bella. Vi Bella means Beautiful Life, and our team is helping to create beautiful lives by providing life-changing jobs for people in need.

 

Julie spent time researching and learning essential jewelry making skills to help make this business a reality. Through this research, we noticed that beautiful places like Haiti were littered with trash. By taking this trash and upcycling it into unique handmade jewelry, we can create beautiful lives for our artisans and beautiful environments for them to live in. Today, we have many skilled artisans in Haiti, Mexico and the US making beautiful jewelry for you.

 

Making jewelry is a job our artisans can be proud of. Vi Bella artisans have a safe, encouraging work environment to develop their skill sets and to provide for their families. “I love Vi Bella! It has given me importance and skills I never knew I had,” says Maguy, one of our talented Haitian artisans.

 

Each day, in addition to making jewelry, artisans can choose to participate in a Bible study to support their spiritual needs. This positive environment has drawn the women closer together. Marie Therese, another Haitian artisan, shares, “At Vi Bella we live as sisters and share all things, including each others’ joys and burdens.”

 

Through their hard work, the artisans have put roofs over their heads, put food on their tables and have sent their children to school. They have restored their dignity and released themselves from poverty through their employment at Vi Bella.

 

We said “Yes!” to the inspiration, the dream, the mission of Vi Bella. You can join the cycle of transformation, too! Purchase Vi Bella jewelry, host a Beautiful Life Gathering, become a Beautiful Life Ambassador, share our story. Join us on this journey to create Vi Bella: Beautiful Life for people all over the world.

 

Today, we’d like to give away two sets from our new line of jewelry. The Reagan Necklace is a stunning statement piece featuring paper beads handmade by artisans in Mexico. Sarai (left), the Bible study leader in Mexico, is modeling the Reagan and the Crimson Earrings. The Sienna Necklace and Earrings, modeled by Maguy (right) from Haiti, are fun, trendy pieces for fall.

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Enter to win free Vi Bella Jewelry by leaving a comment sharing WHO or WHAT has made your life beautiful. One winner will be selected at random to receive both the Sienna Necklace/Earrings set and the Reagan Necklace/Crimson Earrings set.

Fine Print

Please be sure to leave your email address so we have a way of contacting you if you win.

Giveaway ends Saturday at 11:59 EST.

Want to Save Lives? Tell Better Stories.

With tensions rising in the Middle East, Preemptive Love needs our help now, more than ever. The violence across the country has made their work much more crucial. Below is a guest post by Preemptive Love founder, Jeremy Courtney (@jcourt). Please, please take a few minutes to read his words. 

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When I moved to Iraq in the middle of the war, I spent all my energy and time thinking about “doing great things” for people in need. Changing the world had mostly to do with changing others.

But it didn’t take long to learn that the most significant changes often occur in the helpers and not just in the lives of those we seek to help.

Today, there is one task whose impact on the world surprises me as much as anything: storytelling.

At Preemptive Love Coalition, we live in Iraq eradicating a backlog of children who are waiting in line for lifesaving heart surgery. And so, I am constantly asked if I am a heart surgeon. It’s funny to see the disappointment in people’s faces as I let them down gently. Their expressions say what I believed going in to this whole thing: “Man! That would have been so cool to meet a heart surgeon living in Iraq… But this guy?!”

“Oh! That’s great! Yeah, you look a little young to be a heart surgeon!”

I get it. I wish I were a heart surgeon, too! But here’s what I’ve learned: the stories we tell are not neutral. They either cost lives or save lives.

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The last 5-10 years brought a huge resurgence in talk about “telling our stories”. But I want to explore how the stories we tell around the table, read in the headlines, and share across our blogs shape the way we think about others and, therefore, choose to respond.

There is a reason why #BringBackOurGirls and Nigeria trend on Twitter and similar kidnappings in the Middle East do not. It has to do with the stories we’ve been told about the people involved.

So how do stories save or cost lives?

1) They make us care because

2) They validate what we already believe or

3) They introduce us to a new way of seeing things.

We will get into this more deeply at Allume in October. But for now, suffice it to say that we’ve all been reared on a certain set of stories that influence (even determine) what we believe about the root causes of poverty, violence, and other social ills. Our beliefs about root causes determine what we imagine the solutions to be.

We love stories because they give us heroes on whom we hang our hopes and villains on whom we can cast our sins. While we do have stories that promote “complex” characters, we often prefer the stories with white hats and black hats—not because we are simpletons, but because simple moral frameworks actually help us work out the moral dilemmas in our all-too-complex lives.

The trouble comes when we transfer the black/white storytelling model into our technicolor world. There is very little good vs. evil in the real world. Everyone is a little bit grey. Sometimes the bad guys have legitimate grievances and the good guys are driven by something other than the code of honor.

My wife and I spend our lives trying to tell better stories better. Many of the stories being passed around (or avoided altogether) about Islam, Muslims, the Middle East, poverty, and violence—not to mention Christianity, the Bible, and politics—reflect our tribal tendency to stick together and never question our leaders.

For better or worse, my wife, Jessica, and I ask questions. Is this all there is to the story? Is there something behind the behavior that we’ve never explored? Is there money, power, or politics at play here? Could I respond any differently if I was in their shoes?

We sometimes find it necessary to challenge the party line when everyone else is cheering; or we defend the underdogs when others are calling them terrorists. We poke the dragon; but we also want to know the dragon’s history.

There are real monsters in the world, but all who are vilified are not vile. In short, we don’t only seek to “tell better stories”, but to tell stories better, with more nuance, more backstory, and more space for people to draw their own conclusions.

In America, we have certain stories about Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda; about the “war on the family” and the “war on Christians;” about Islam, terrorism, the intractable political problems of the Middle East. In fact, our stories have often led us to believe that political engagement itself is dirty and that the best we can hope for is the conversion of individual hearts.

I’m suggesting that we should not take these assumptions or the stories that shaped them for granted. There are still more stories out there that we need to hear; that we need to tell. And we need more braveheart bloggers who will dare to challenge systems and call us to more than individual action alone.

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The longer we assume that our stories are inerrant, the longer they undermine the very change we desire. But the better we become at drinking deeply from a wide array of stories,the more we will increase our capacity to love our neighbor—and yes, even our enemies—as ourselves and actually save lives.

If you want to change the world, taking action might be the last thing you should do. Start with better stories.

So what dragons could you be poking? What monsters might warrant a second look or a listening ear? There could be more to the story! Look for the bald-headed guy at Allume—I’d love to hear about it!!

Click here to learn more about how you can be part of this very important story.

-Jeremy Courtney, PreemptiveLove.org

Adoption: A Partnering Opportunity

Slade Adoption Travel

I have been so incredibly blessed by our surrounding family, online and church community. Many of you may know that we are adopting two girls from Ghana, West Africa. We started the process two years ago. I can’t believe it has been that long already! There was one particular part of the process that kept us stuck for 13 months without movement. It was a very long and hard time.

There was much uncertainty looming on whether we would even be able to bring our girls home. Two weeks ago we finally were granted approval in order to move on to the next step, the final step before we fly out and bring them home. God has taught me a few things during our long wait. I learned the meaning of the verse Proverbs 13:12,

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

I was heart sick. Literally, my heart ached. I didn’t even know that was possible until this season of waiting and longing for our family to be together. My husband and I have struggled through the most difficult season in our marriage.

And each week we talk to the girls, their hope has waned as we have continuously put off when we will be back, because we simply did not know. Now we are just weeks away from bringing our family together but we need your help! We are in the final phase of fundraising so we can travel back and bring them home.

We need just $1,317 to complete our fundraising which will pay for the total of $7,500 for all of our plane tickets. Pure Charity has been such a wonderful partner in this. Once the funds are ready, they go directly to our travel agency. All donations made through Pure Charity are tax deductible.

When you give, you aren’t just giving money. You’re investing in the future of two precious girls who long to be with their family. You’re investing in a brand new life for them, with a hope and a future.

There are no gimmicks here. Money is simply a tool we need to use sometimes to make dreams a reality. This is one of those times. Please partner with us and help us bring them home. Click here to make a donation if you’re reading in email and cannot see the donation widget below.

Writing What’s Needed, But Not Popular

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There is a lot of content tailored to the wants of our audiences. We want to offer what people want, right? But what about what people need, too?

Sometimes, we don’t always take what we need. We don’t necessarily go looking for it because we may not want it or realize how much we need it.

When God spoke to me about writing to moms to challenge them to get in the Word daily, I resisted.

“God, no one is going to want to hear about that, let alone share it. It’s not a popular topic. Furthermore, people don’t like to be uncomfortable.”

Who likes to be uncomfortable? I don’t.

The first time God laid this on my heart, I thought I was to create a whole new website and have contributors. So I bought a domain and began a Facebook group for contributors. As the whole thing was unfolding, I got stuck. The vision got clouded and I couldn’t see what God wanted me to do next. Contributors began to back out as I was in the interim process of just waiting on Him and eventually the whole idea was shut down.

God didn’t want me to build a new website, He wanted me to build a relationship with Him and encourage others to do the same. Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make us know God or have a deep rooted relationship with Him. That really requires intentional effort.

So, a year later, this same idea tugs at my heart. It’s birthed out of a desperation in my own life and I knew I couldn’t be alone.

That’s it.

I am not alone in struggling to read the Bible everyday, and who out there really wants other people to know that? Moms are some of the most susceptible people for neglecting the word. Why? Too busy and/or too tired.

For myself, any excuse is unacceptable.

So, I started a community on my blog to encourage moms to get in the Word daily, and it’s a bit of accountability for me.

It’s called “Moms in the Word” and it’s meant not only to encourage moms to be in the word, but to challenge them in the Word. It also includes a link up that is a sad story, let me tell you. This week I broke the all time record of getting THREE people to link up. But you know what? Those three people matter.

Moms-in-the-Word-Tuesdays

We work through a study and each Tuesday I post something to challenge us all to walk out something we read throughout the week. This week, we talked about striving and pressing on in our faith.

Why is any of this relevant here on Allume? Because as Bloggers, you have influence. You are a leader. You are a teacher. All of these positions require a higher standard of living. I’m not talking perfection. But when you are in a position of influence, people are following your lead. It’s a sobering place to be.

Sometimes we need to make the decision to write about things that are not popular. Crazy as it sounds, Bible teachings aren’t as popular as some of the juicy news stories out there or as comforting as learning a new home decor technique.

But it’s something that’s needed the most. And I’m not saying that everyone is called to write on Biblical truth straight up…this is just one example. God may be calling you to write your hard story for others to read. Someone out there may desperately need to hear they are not alone and your story may be the means they hear from God.

Jesus never sought out what was popular. He always gave what was needed, and He gave in various ways. That’s where the body of Christ is unique in it’s functions. It’s also where our blogs can offer various functions. Are we willing to write what’s unpopular in order to reach the one who needs to hear from God?

What is God nudging you to write about?

 

Speaker Interview with Sophie Hudson

Sophie Hudson is as delightful as sweet tea on a hot Southern day, enjoyed from a front porch rocking chair beside a treasured friend.  And she is funny enough to make you consider adult diapers necessary as you read her blog or book.  Her charm and wit accompany her thoughtful and genuine personality into every conversation.  She’s the friend that will dish up truth with a smile and make you feel normal in your crazy.  She is the lady behind the popular blog, Boo Mama, and we are absolutely thrilled to pieces to have her join us this fall at Allume!

Sophie Hudson

1. What was your favorite food as a kid?

Two words: creamed potatoes. Oh, wait! Two more words: fried okra. I couldn’t possibly choose between them.

2. What chore do you despise the most?

The list is long, I’m afraid. I definitely have a mental block about unloading the dishwasher. In fact, I’m actually avoiding it right now by answering these questions. It’s ridiculous. And putting away laundry is a close second.

3. When was the last time you chatted with your neighbor?

Ummm – probably this morning. We work at the same place, so we get to chat a lot.

4. What sound do you love?

Oh my goodness. I have so many. I love pretty much any sound that leaves make, and if there happens to be rain hitting those leaves, then forget it. I am asleep in minutes. Besides that…well, I have never heard a baby’s laugh that didn’t immediately make me teary-eyed. And I love the sound of a good Southern accent. A friend of mine recently said that there are few things as charming as the sound of an older Southern lady saying, “azaleas,” and I have to agree.

7. If you could learn to do anything what would it be?

I wish I could learn to sing. I mean, technically I *can* sing, but if I were to, say, stand up in church and sing a solo, I am fairly certain that people would get up and leave (and not because the Holy Spirit was telling them to put Matthew 28:19 into practice; it would be because they WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO STAND THE BELLOWING). So I guess what I’m saying is that I would like to learn to sing well – and in a way that is somewhat pleasing to others. It might require a miracle.

9. What do you do with 30 minutes of free time?

It depends on my mood. If I’m feeling reflective, I love to read and  journal and stare off into space and think (HAVE MERCY the thinking feels like such a luxury sometimes). But if I’m tired, I pretty much just want to nap and watch Bravo and then nap a little more. I’m fancy like that.

15. If everything in your life aligned exactly as in your dreams, what would your life look like?

Where would you live, what would you do? Listen. It sounds like such a cliche’, I know, but life really is so much fuller and richer than I ever expected. I am so grateful that God’s “immeasurably more” (Ephesians 3:20) sometimes happens in the most ordinary ways. We have such a sweet, simple life in Birmingham – full of places to serve and people to love – and I am so grateful that the Lord led us here. As crazy as it sounds, home is my dream come true, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

16. If I was coming to your house for dinner, what would we have?

I’d probably make what I like to call the big ole Southern supper: country fried steak, rice and gravy, butterbeans, rolls, and some fresh tomatoes if they’re in season. I’d also fix my grandmother’s homemade chocolate pie recipe for dessert, and I can promise you that after a couple of slices of that pie – well, you might just decide to live with us forever. 

17. What’s in your purse?

Way too many of my favorite pens (Pentel Sign Pens) (I have a bit of a pen problem). Then there’s my wallet, my phone, my sunglasses, a little zippered pouch full of lipstick, my earbuds, and a trusty container of Metholatum ointment. I’ve used it for chapped lips since I was a child, and I cannot – CANNOT – leave home without it. 

18. What are your 5 favorite books?

To Kill A Mockingbird, Peace Like A River, Bird by Bird, The Furious Longing of God, and Ellen Foster.

Learn more about Sophie Hudson by visiting her website. And definitely check out her book, A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet.

Speaker Interview: Preston Yancey

Preston Yancey

Preston Yancey is a author, painter, baker, and sometimes scholar particularly interested in the dialogue between Christian theology and the arts. He also gets to speak at Allume this fall. Woot! Today Preston is sharing some fun facts with you about himself.

 

1. What chore do you despise the most?

Folding laundry. I have an inexplicable, psychological aversion to the process of successfully transferring clothes from the dryer to my closet or dresser or even, let’s be honest, the middle of the bedroom floor. My fiancée informs me this will be an untenable position to maintain in our future. We’ll see.

2. If you could learn to do anything what would it be?

I would learn how to actually use Evernote. I’m not kidding. “I will learn how to use Evernote” is my version of the “I will read my Bible all the way through every day this year” New Year’s resolution. Every time I open the app on my computer or my phone I end up just staring at it in bewilderment and panic and then shut it down. I am convinced that I won’t be awriter, italicized and everything, until I learn how to use it.

(I suppose I was supposed to say something like “to speak Spanish” or “to parallel park” or “to not always have to have the last word” but, this is raw honesty.)

3. If you could pick anyone as a mentor who would you pick?

Madeleine L’Engle. She’s one of my patron saints, at least I think of her as a prayer of my prayers with me when I ask God big questions about vocation and work and whether or not to click publish on my latest blog post. Her journals taught me how to tell truth and her fiction taught me how to discern the difference between truth and fact.

4. What do you do with 30 minutes of free time?

Complain about how little free time I have, then watch the latest episode of Veep, Modern Family, or Parks and Rec while menu planning or catching up on all my Voxer messages.

5. What do you want to be when you grow up?

A keeper of my children’s confidences.

6. If gifted an all expenses paid vacation to anywhere where would you pick?

Bali. I’ve had the opportunity to spend a summer in the East before and it was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. I’m aching to go back to that side of the world and sit in the stillness of the beauty there. And the food. Good Lord, the food.

7. If I was coming to your house for dinner, what would we have?

There’s a lot of sun out these days, so let’s pick things up and go sit out on the roof of the apartment building and listen to Juliette Gréco on a record player and drink Greek wine—too white and too bright but light and free.

We’ll have an appetizer of grilled eggplant sliced thin and stuffed with manouri, mint, and baby heirloom tomatoes; salt and bay leaf crusted grilled lamb chops, a salad of watermelon, feta, and black olive, piles of salty roast lemon potatoes, and some homemade pita. For desert, a glass of Campari — or strong Greek coffee, if you’d prefer — and some almond baklava with rose water and orange blossom and honey from the local farm, cut into small bites to savor.

Basically: come over. There’s always something in the works and always room in the apartment or on the roof or in the park or wherever.

8. What are your 5 favorite books?

Right now? Let’s go with right now:

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-1992 by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Check out Preston’s blog here.

Join the Allume Facebook Community

We know that many of you are looking to connect with the Allume community through Facebook and we want you to know we have an Allume page where the entire community can connect with each other.

We are going to be livening it up with connection points and questions to encourage you to interact with one another. We will continue to update the page with conference news, announcements, sponsor opportunities, blog posts from Allume, 2014 speakers and community writers. The best way for you to connect is by interacting on these posts. Feel free to come to the page any time, ask a question, look for a room mate, look for other newbies or alumni–we’ll connect you!

Logan in Uganda with Sole Hope

This week we’ve had the incredible privilege of sharing Logan and Carey’s journey to Uganda with Sole Hope.

Logan and Carey with Sole Hope

Sole Hope was one of our 2013 sponsors and is coming back for 2014 and, not even having been to Uganda, I cannot tell you what a blessing Sole Hope is to the children there. This is one of the many things you will see coming from our Allume Facebook page. So, if you haven’t already, go here and “Like” us so you can be and see community in action!

Finally, I encourage you to follow Logan and Carey through their blogs as they work with Sole Hope through the weekend and into next week.

You’re Invited to (in)RL!

You're Invited

Wait, what’s (in)RL?  (in)RL stands for “in real life” and it’s coordinated by the wonderful women of (in)courage, but hosted by YOU.

It’s the gathering of women in community, in real life. Check out this video, and you may want to grab some tissues. {Click here to view on the blog}.

As I watched this video, I saw so many women pop on the screen that I have had the privilege of hugging and connecting with face to face. The online world is a great place — but in real life deepens those connections even further. And let me tell you, these women have some a-mazing stories.

We want to encourage you to share your words; to share your stories. Someone or many someones out there needs to hear them.

Today, (in)RL registration is OPEN and you can register for FREE. This conference is local and online. You can either sign up to host a gathering or you can look for a gathering in your area to join. Anyone who registers today, January 15th, will be entered  to win an Allume 2014 pass. Woot!

Here are some details of (in)RL, and I encourage you to pop over to their site to get even more acquainted with this amazing community.

  • Registration is FREE, but there is an opportunity to give to one of their 6 awesome projects through their Giv(in)g Projects. {This is such a gift to be a part of and watch unfold. Trust me.}
  • (in)RL Online Webcasts kick off on Friday, April 25th followed by meet ups, Saturday, April 26th.
  • Everyone who registers gets a free backstage pass to all (in)RL content from 2012 & 2013! {access expires April 24, 2014}

On behalf of Allume, we invite you to enter into (in)RL community.

 (in)RL - We need your stories

 

Allume 2013 Conference Link-Up!

We want to hear your experience at Allume!

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We want to hear your stories. We want to hear how Allume has changed you, equipped you, empowered you. Link up your specific post below.

Allume Attendee Link Up!

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This year, rather then making an attendee page, we want you to link up your ABOUT page. Then we can come and visit you in your space!

If you don’t have a blog, link up your Facebook, Twitter, or other social profile. Let’s see the faces of Allume!

So, if you’re coming to Allume, link up below!

{If you’re reading this in a reader or in your email, you can click through here to link up}

Head Shot Sign Ups!

If you have been to a past Allume, you know we set aside some time to snap a shot of some beautiful faces! Now is the time to sign up for that. Here are some examples from last year.

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Head shots are $20 and you will pay the lovely Kim Deloach at the time of the sitting. Kim took Logan and Laura’s latest head shots. She is amazing and you all will LOVE her!

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However, spots are limited so you  must reserve your spot by signing up here. Pay close attention to the time and date you are signing up and mark it down somewhere in your Allume schedule so you do not forget to show up! :) Make sure you sign up for a slot when you KNOW you will be available and not risk a late flight in, etc.

First come, first served. Once they are filled, there are no more. Ready? GO!

SIGN UP HERE

Sign Up to Receive the Allume 2013 Conference Newsletter!

The Allume Conference is approaching quickly!! We are working hard behind the scenes to make this year spectacular!

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will need to get information TO you and get information FROM you. But in order to best communicate with attendees, we send out any conference news through a special newsletter set up specifically for that purpose. Because we have new attendees every year, we create a new newsletter every year.

Conference Newsletter

So, even if you attended last year, you will need to sign up for THIS YEAR’S conference newsletter. This newsletter will only be sent when we need to share conference news with you, so you don’t want to miss out on signing up for this!

SIGN UP BELOW

The Writing Life

Writing and life. The two are not mutually exclusive. If you are a writer–one who enjoys writing–writing is a part of your life. Not something that exists outside of it. Many things you do, see, feel, and experience will shape your writing. Furthermore, many things we write will shape our lives.

Writing is Who I Am

For me, personally, writing helps me organize my thoughts. It helps me process life. It allows me to savor moments and share reality with people who think they are alone in motherhood. Writing teaches me lessons just as other activities in life do. Writing keeps my mind working just as life keeps my hands working.

Writing is part of life for me.

It’s as much a part of me as using my hands to do laundry and make meals. It’s as in ingrained in me as talking (just not as often). Writing is a way of life.

I loved Tricia’s post yesterday about the myth of balance. Balance isn’t exactly what we think it is. It’s not about spending so much time on this, and the same amount of time on that. Like anything else in life, every thing has it’s place. Meals have their place. Routines have their place. Entertainment and fun have their place.

So it is with writing.  Writing has its place. Writing happens as life happens. It begins with some scribbled out notes scratched on paper throughout the day. It includes a pause in the day to make those notes into ideas and expressions. After dinner those ideas may need a bit of editing and tweaking. Maybe something sparked further inspiration to reword or add more description.

Once the children are in bed, writing continues. While some choose to spend their time watching their favorite television shows (which is perfectly fine!), I choose to write. I don’t have any favorite television shows because I’m not a big fan of television. I have favorite movies that I enjoy with my family. But daily TV watching just isn’t something we do. Not because of some “super spiritual” reason. Simply because we have interests in other areas. I choose to spend my time writing. When I’m not writing, I’m reading.

I have made writing a part of my life because it’s in part how God designed me. That doesn’t mean it won’t have the potential to consume. Anything has that potential. God designed us to eat, but food can still consume us. God designed us to rest, but we can rest too much and become lazy.

It’s not necessarily about balance, but about prioritizing. Some days laundry and cleaning out your kids’ room takes priority while other days a writing deadline might be looming and you order Chinese take-out. Just as some days I need a break from life; from routines and demands and cleaning. Some days, I need a break from writing; from thinking and creating and editing. It’s the ebb and flow of life.

Writing isn’t just something I do; it’s who I am. 

I’m a child of God; I’m a wife, and mother, and keeper of my home. I’m a writer.

 

Focus Your Efforts and Set Limits Online

Allume Post May

There are so many things pulling at our attentions online. We aren’t sure what to spend time doing online that will be most effective for our ministry or business. It seems everyone has a different answer and many successful bloggers share their experiences. Before I go any further I do want to clarify–there is no “one size, fits all” for blogging. Some people have broken the “rules” of blogging and been very successful. Some have followed all the rules and have struggled to reach out further.

It’s important we each listen to the heartbeat and pulse of our own communities and follow their needs. They will be different, requiring that we tweak some of these said rules to fit within our communities.

It is very important to know your goals for your blog. This will be vital in knowing how to best spend your time online. Many of us don’t have a lot of time to spend online. So it’s helpful to know where to invest it.

Where to Focus Your Efforts

There is a lot of information telling us how we should be utilizing every social media outlet out there in order to be effective. I find that is not always the case.

Some say you have to spend lots of time reading and commenting on other blogs. But how many? How much is enough?

What about networking and blog work and maintenance and writing? All of this stuff takes time. How can we fit it all in? What is most important?

Here are the elements I have found to be most effective as a writer, blogger, and encourager to my online community.

Writing

I can’t get a message out if I don’t spend time writing it. Writing is the backbone of my entire ministry. If I don’t write, I don’t have anything for my community to grab a hold of when I’m not actively online. Nor will anyone have anything to share if they want to encourage someone with my writing. Writing posts and eBooks helps the message I have publish publicly, even when I’m not around.

However, my writing cannot stand alone, either. Somehow I have to get the message out there for others to see–and share.

Engaging

If I’m not engaging with people in an authentic and casual way, sharing my writing will only look like spam to most. I need to spend time connecting with people through social media.

How much time should I spend on social media and where should I focus my engagement? 

We actually do not need to spend our entire day engaging on social media. Choose one or two (at most) avenues that you enjoy, and focus your engagement there. That doesn’t mean you cannot utilize other social media avenues if you choose. But unless you’re working as a full time blogger, being present and active at the top 5 social media platforms is going to burn you out and zap time away from other important things you need to be focusing on.

I spend my most active times engaging on Twitter and Facebook. I still utilize Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+, but I do not invest in much time in them as I do my main two.

You could easily get away with spending 30 minutes a day, on your top two social media picks and still be effective–pending your engagement is focused, not random, and not all promotions. Then spend 5-10 minutes a day on the remaining social media sites to maintain a presence.

Reading

Another important and very personal way to engage with people is to visit their blogs and comment. This is simple and straight-forward. But many people wonder how much time should be spent doing this each day. It’s easy to get sucked into reading blogs and link-hopping.

If you consistently read and comment (daily), you really don’t need to comment more then a couple of blogs per day. That’s 10-14 per week; and 40-56 per month. They add up! And that consistency will follow you.

Research and Educating Yourself

It is very important for a writer/blogger to continuously educate themselves on what’s current in blogging and social media. If you want to publish a book one day, it’s also important to stay up to date with the latest publishing news.  We need to read to improve our skills as writers and bloggers. There will always be room for improvement and part of growing a ministry or business requires that we, ourselves, grow.

If you’re looking for answers, spend a little time researching.

Know Your Limits

There is only so much we can do in a day. It’s so easy (so easy!) to get sucked in to social media. We must know our limits and stand by them. We are wives, mothers, daughters, and friends outside of the online community as well. The internet is an awesome tool for making connections and creating ministry to reach places we wouldn’t otherwise be able to. But we cannot completely disconnect from life to advance our endeavors online.

It’s like anything else that we indulge too much of — it isn’t good for us or anyone around us. Know your limits.

How do I set limits?

Create a schedule. This helps to focus on the most important tasks, knowing you have to fit them in a time slot on your schedule.

Set a timer. This is especially helpful when you get on social media. It requires you to stay on task because you know you only have so much time to make the most of it.

Unplug regularly. This is such a refreshing way to refocus and actually gain new ideas. Stepping away once a week, once a month helps keep things in the right perspective.

What area listed above could you use more information in? I’d be glad to help answer any questions you have–just leave them in the comments.

Joy in Christ,

Christin Slade

 

Write For Your Children

Use Your Writing

Writing is such a gift. It is a gift to the writer, and it’s a gift to the reader. I love to offer up my writing to others. I enjoy being able to encourage other moms and other bloggers. I firmly believe, and I have been told, God has given me the gift of encouragement.

The one thing that I noticed, however, that I have lacked, is using this great gift right inside my own home, amongst my own family. I tend to be a better writer then speaker. I convey things better on paper (virtual or otherwise), then I do with my mouth, typically. Writing also helps me stay focused, which is why I keep a prayer journal.

But, in what ways could we use our writing to bless our children?

Prayer Journal

I have written before on how I keep a prayer journal for each child, that I try to write in each one weekly. The purpose of this is to show our children the power and glory of God in their own lives as they were growing up. Most likely, this would be a gift for them once they are older—how about a wedding gift? This would be a priceless keepsake and legacy indeed.

Letters Journal

Why not have a journal for each child that mother and child write back and forth in? Did you ever do that in high school? You know, you keep a notebook between just two or three friends that you would pass around throughout the school day, writing letters in it to each other? OK, well, maybe I’m the only strange one who did that! But it’s also a nice keep sake and a way to consistently encourage your child at the end of the day or week.

Personal Journal

Keep a personal journal on the life of your child. Now, if you have a lot of children, this would be quite a commitment of time. Obviously that’s not a bad thing! But you can certainly consider other options if you have a lot of children. But if you have one or two children, keeping a journal that records major milestones and beautiful moments in their life would be a prized gift for them as adults.

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Encouraging Cards

Leave encouraging cards for your children spontaneously, in different places. Their pajama drawer. Their lunch bag. At their place on the breakfast table so they find it in the morning. It doesn’t have to be super long, but a few encouraging words can go a long way. Get some cute, blank cards and put them to use!

Special Occasion Letters

Use special occasions like birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to write specific letters to your children.

Write a birthday letter about how much they’ve grown over the last year, in their spiritual walk, in maturity, maybe draw out some key moments that you can touch on. On Mother’s Day you can write a letter about how happy you are to be their mother and what you have learned growing as a mom, something specific your child has taught you over the last year.

Even Father’s Day can be used to write to your child and completely brag on their daddy–what a wonderful father he is and simply talk him up as a daddy. What a gift to your children to see you loving their daddy in this way.

Be intentional about setting time aside to write for you children. You don’t need to do all of these ideas!! Start with one and branch out from there if you feel lead. But do share your writing with your children.

Our children will one day see the time we devoted our love for writing to bless them. It will be come a tradition that maybe they will pass down to their own children. It will become a memory as they grow old, how their mommy loved them through her writing. It will become a treasured keepsake.

Writing is a gift that keeps on giving. It really is. It’s one of the best ways to capture life in the moment so it is not lost. Capture pieces of your children’s childhood through your writing for them.

Joy in Christ,

Christin Slade

The Smaller Bloggers Series is Returning

Embrace the Influence

I am so excited because we’re bringing the “Smaller Bloggers” series back. Woot!

For those of you who are new to the Allume blog, the Smaller Bloggers series is a series dedicated to those who consider themselves a smaller blogger. Being a smaller blogger is not a bad thing. Not at all.

The point of this series is to cheer you on and encourage you that the world needs smaller bloggers.

This series will offer you tips on how to build content, comment etiquette, the right kind of growth and more!

And this is your opportunity to share what you would like to know about blogging or express your frustrations with us so we can address issues and encourage you on your journey! We have a beautiful group of writers here who have a heart for women, community, blogging, writing, and Jesus!

So, leave a comment and let us know what you want to learn!

Joy in Christ,

Christin, Joyful Mothering

When Inspiration is Overrated

If I were to wait for inspiration to strike before I wrote anything, I would rarely write. No doubt inspiration can play a role in writing, but it shouldn’t be the only time we write.

Writing has many facets–it’s freeing, yet it requires a bit of discipline. It can also be painful, depending on what you feel the need to release. Sometimes our lives feel less than inspiring. Sometimes they may feel murky, messy, and even mechanical. But someone out there needs to hear that story for encouragement in their own lives. 

In order for us to become better at writing and teach the words to flow, we must practice. It’s like a muscle–if you exercise it, you will strengthen it. 

On the other hand, good writing requires that we step away from writing and live, so our words will ring true for us and others who might read them. We cannot fully express the beauty and reality of our words if we do not first experience the reality of living. Nothing can convey through the written word truth of feeling and expression quite like authentic living.

In addition, good writing begs us to read others with excellent writing. It entices us to read books like On Writing Well, to learn the best mechanics and writing practices. It calls us to inspiring reads such as A Circle of Quiet, where we enter into the minds of great writers as they walk us through quiet inspirations. 

Writing is a life long journey. Publishing a book doesn’t mean you “arrive” and not publishing doesn’t mean you are not established. Our writing may never get passed our own blogs, but it is out there, published for all to see. It is right where God wants it, for His purpose.

Your story might be one of pain, rather than inspiration. Allow God to redeem that pain and use it for His glory. What is He whispering to you today, friend? Is He asking you to step out in faith and trust Him with your words? 

 Is He calling you to embrace the writer in you without guilt or fear? 

Joy in Christ,

Christin

Making Disciples Where You Are

We are about four weeks out of the Allume conference and many of you have gotten back to your normal routines and normal life, while some of you are still picking up the pieces of the disaster hurricane Sandy left behind. I pray that wherever you are, God is using the words of the speakers you heard to spur you on, challenge you, and encourage you in your everyday life.

These past few years, each Allume conference has carried with it a running theme throughout the speakers messages. Although these themes weren’t preconceived by conference planning, God was very much a part of putting these themes into place to reach the hearts of us.

The first year, speakers spoke mainly on not neglecting your family for the sake of your blog. Crystal Paine spoke of having boundaries and not neglecting your husband–especially in the bedroom. “If you don’t have time to have sex with your husband, you don’t have time to blog.” Oh yes, she went there–because it’s something we need to be reminded of! Sally Clarkson spoke passionately and encouragingly of blogging with integrity. If you’re neglecting your family for blogging, you’re not blogging with integrity.

The second year, speakers spoke of not seeking fame in blogging. They said it over and over again: ignore the stats, don’t seek your worth through your numbers. Ann Voskamp really hit it home in her key note as she spoke about letting go of the fame-seeking because Jesus never sought fame. He had just 12 followers! She encouraged us, though, to rumble the web with thunder and watch as God brought the lightening. God would light up the Internet if we would bring the offering–our stories. Our brokenness. Not sermons, or preaching.

This year? The theme was to reach the people who are right in front of you. While it is similar in nature to not chasing after fame, it still has a more narrow focus. The message was that if we are ignoring those people who need ministering to right in front of us to go out and chase numbers, we are failing to recognize the ministry God has placed before us.

Something that’s also very important that we need to be aware of is this: people may not comment on your writing, but they are still reading. You may not even realize that there is a broken woman reading your words on the other side of the screen; a woman who doesn’t know the love of Christ but finds hope through the words you share because they illuminate Christ. They draw her in, yet we have no idea because she has never commented.

All of these themes speak to one central message: discipleship. We are called to make disciples. All of us. Not just certain people. It begins in our home but it doesn’t end there.

We reach the people right in front of us.

Through missions you can help reach those across the globe as well, by being a sender.

But let’s focus for now on your blog, if you have one. Minister to those already coming to your blog. Don’t ignore them to chase after more people. Reach the heart and pour into the few.

In Luke 16:10, Jesus says “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…”

Let us be good stewards of who is right in front of us. Let us minister to the one person. Let us tell our stories for the one who needs to hear them. Because that one matters.

Joy in Christ,

Christin, Joyful Mothering

Vintage Remedies

As a homeschooling mother of four, author of over a dozen books, and the founder of both Vintage Remedies and J&M Botanicals, I definitely have my hands full.  As many of you know, running a business, writing a blog, and mothering are not walks in the park. There are days when I’d rather do nothing but stay in my bed and hide from the world. Those are the times when I am so grateful to know my purpose and the vision I’ve been given, and to be surrounded by friends and family that support that vision. That’s why I consider events like The Allume Social Media Conference to be so important and valuable.  It’s a chance for us at Vintage Remedies to reach out, encourage, and support other women on their journeys, both personally and professionally. As big fans of Allume and their mission, we are excited to show you what we have to offer at Vintage Remedies and J&M Botanicals this weekend. Stop by our booth to learn more about the various ways you can make money on your blog through some of our amazing programs, and just for stopping by, you can enter to win a free Kindle Fire HD and will receive a luxurious treat to pamper yourself throughout the conference! See you soon! 


Stop by our booth to win a free Kindle Fire HD


preloaded with Handbook of Vintage Remedies, The Vintage Remedies Guide to Real Food, and The Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread.

 

All who enter our giveaway will also receive a free pampering gift just for entering!


Jessie Hawkins and Caroline Andrews will be there to help you learn about opportunities to host giveaways for your readers and to make money on your blog during this holiday season through some special partnerships we have available.

Vintage Remedies was founded in 2005 by health professional and author, Jessie Hawkins.  Our mission is to fill the gap in natural wellness education options. By providing distance learning education in natural wellness, we stand squarely in the middle of the medicine wars, believing that prevention is the key to health and that natural options are usually the best first steps to regain wellness. We seek to empower mothers, wives and parents across the globe that strive for excellence in their calling. Our basic programs are designed to enable individuals everywhere to relearn the basic techniques and skills that were so commonplace decades ago.

Our school is distinctively Christian based; we welcome students of all religious backgrounds and have a very diverse student body. Our staff comes from a variety of denominational backgrounds, and we do not participate in divisive debates, rather we enjoy sharing what we have in common and our programs are written from that perspective.

Visit us online:

www.VintageRemedies.com

www.Facebook.com/VintageRemedies

Child Training Bible {InfoGraphic}


Be sure you’re checking your gift bags thoroughly ladies!!!