Cultivating a Creative Soul

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Legs curled on the desk chair beneath me, I sat in front of the computer screen staring blankly at the words that would appear and delete almost simultaneously.  “I guess this is what they call writer’s block,” I mused to myself. Nothing good would come.  And then, when I thought maybe the next few bits would be worth saving, I ended up throwing them all away.  Ugh. The creative well seemed to be dry, but the deadline for pages due was most certainly not a thirst quenched.

My mind lingered on conjured images of Shakespeare dipping quill to ink and scribbling words… “wherefore art thou…” time and time again until He knew it was just right.  I imagined Mozart slamming frustrated fists onto ivory keys when He couldn’t get the progressions to flow into melodic rhythm.  Picturing Michelangelo tapping tools against rough marble until hard stone seemed to turn to soft skin, I finally got up from the desk and sprawled on the floor, face pressed into the carpet. I crammed rubber buds into my ears and turned the music loud, allowing my mind to follow the highs and lows of the praises echoing into the cochlear chambers of my heart. Something began to resonate.

I crawled into the soft brown armchair and dipped a paintbrush into my water glass.  Diluting pigments on the plastic lid of a $5 set of paints, I watched water and color become one, then three, then dozens of hues mixed together before me.

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My brush swept across the paper as my mind considered all I’d meditated on earlier in the day.  I picked up a pencil and sketched the words in the center of the paper, and once they felt good, I gave them permanence in ink.  Something broke free and I forgot about the white screen that glowed blank just five feet from this new cozy seat.  I painted for an hour, music in my ears, a brush in my hand, until I felt satisfied.

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Stepping back from the 5×7 card that set my spirit free, I suddenly felt a newness move into my fingertips.  Switching from the cozy brown chair back to the stiff desk one, I faced the keyboard again with fresh perspective.  Before I knew it, I was five thousand comfortable words closer to reaching my deadline.

I learned something that day, that somehow I hadn’t realized before.  Just as water flows freely over paper, so does the Spirit of God flow freely in our creative souls.

How could we ever forget that the ultimate creative lives in us?  Or think that the creativity evident in the world around us, doesn’t extend into variety of creative spaces of our own souls?

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Maybe you’re more creative with numbers than with paints?  Or perhaps you express yourself more freely in creating solutions than stringing words together on a page?  Whatever your particular set of giftings, know that in His goodness, God made you to create.

And we celebrate that creativity with you!

This fall at Allume, we want to intentionally make some space just to create together.  We want to breathe life into the places you know God calls you to create individually, and to hold hands with one another to see what God will create in us as a community.  So this month, we encourage you to consider more of our Creative God and the ways in which He may speak to you, encourage you, and use you for His Kingdom.

When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. – Ps 104:30

*What do you feel called to create?  Have you ever been curious to create something outside of your comfort zone?  This month, I encourage you to try something new that sparks your creative interest. Write, paint, take a walk to explore creation itself. Don’t worry if your process is perfect, or if you mess it up, just get in there and create, and know that even Shakespeare himself crumpled paper a time or two.

When Building Bridges Isn’t Enough

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I cross it nearly ever day leaving my house.  It’s the fastest route to the interstate, and is a great cut-through to head towards the opposite side of town.  I avoid traffic when I cross over and then shortcut through the neighborhood that is adjacent to mine.  For sure, it’s the best way for me to get most anywhere.

The bridge is just 5 houses down from mine.  Crossing a lush green golf course that I can’t see very well for the tall fences on either side, passing over it takes me to a completely different space.

We just moved to a new house less than 2 months ago.  I hadn’t even been in this neighborhood before we found this house and am having to learn my way around this different part town.  Nevermind that Greenville has been my home for nearly 20 years, this move has exposed me to unfamiliar areas, and I learn new shortcuts (and sometimes long-cuts) several times per week.

The neighbors tell me that our street used to be a dead end until the builders doing work on the golf course created the bridge to provide easier access to the work they were doing.  Now two neighborhoods are connected, that to be honest, are really super different from one another.

It didn’t take us long to realize the massive economic disparity that separates our respective neighborhoods.  Friends would call on the way to visit for the first time, sounding a little nervous and saying, “um…I think we’re lost.  The GPS says we’re close, but it really doesn’t look like it.”

“Just cross the bridge and we’re just a few houses in,” I’d tell them.  “I promise, you’re in the right place.”

One one side of the bridge is a upper middle class suburban neighborhood, and on the other, much smaller old mill houses.  Honestly, it’s such a juxtaposition that the disparity is never far from my mind.  I cross the bridge nearly every single day.

On my way to somewhere else.

As we think about what we’re doing here, you should know that we don’t just want to be bridge builders here at Allume.  We don’t just want to be bridge crossers either. And as I’ve been thinking about bridges, and building them, truly, it’s a great thing to do.  We should do that.  We should build bridges.  And crossing bridges…well, that’s a good thing.  We should cross bridges too.  Definitely. But the thing that my daily drive has been ramming into my head the past 7 weeks is that unless we dig into what’s on the other side of the bridge, unless we lean in to build on the side opposite from where we began, a bridge becomes nothing more than a thoroughfare…a way to get from one place to another.

I don’t want to use bridges just to pass over on my way to somewhere else, I want it to be the thing that helps me experience the other side.

And when we talk about people and relationships and falling on differing sides of politics or theological issues or moral codes, we HAVE to build bridges to help us understand and have compassion on the other side better.  We can’t just drive over, look out the window and observe the different area.  At some point, we have to stop the car, make a friend, and endeavor to truly understand what life is like on the other side of the chasm that was there before the bridge.

If we want to be people who build bridges, then we need to be people who spend time getting to know what’s on the other side.  Bridges aren’t just for passing through, they are for connecting two separate spaces.

If we want to operate in the fullness of our giftings together as a body of Christ, we have to learn to be bridge builders, bridge crossers, and students of a Jesus who asks us to authentically engage with what’s on the other side.

What bridges do you see in your life that you are just passing over?  What opportunities might you be squandering to really make connection in a place that is different from you?  With a person who is different from you?  What do you need to do to engage with whatever is across the bridge?

bridge

BUILD.

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When my friends the Robinsons first bought the corner lot in a beautiful and well-established neighborhood to build their dream home, we all swooned at the level area, privacy providing tree line, and space to roam.  They had been working on plans for the house for years and the day they spray painted a golden shovel to break ground and pray over the lot, we all celebrated that in just 10 short months, this piece of property would be home to their growing family.

It didn’t take too much more than that golden shovel though to realize that what looked good on the surface was really an old trash heap spread around with grass seed thrown over the top.  The farther the building crew dug, the more trash and junk they found.  Kitchen sinks, tools, garbage, and I don’t remember if there actually was a full car or if it just got so bad that we all joked that there was one, were unearthed from that lot.  A plan that was supposed to be done in 10 months, couldn’t even start for over 2 years.  What looked good on the surface was just rotten below, and it wasn’t until they dug more than 50 feet down to find solid ground that the Robinsons could even begin to install footings for their home.  The hole that was excavated to  clear out all the junk below could more than fit and cover their now built 4-story home.

BUILD SQUARE

As this month we think about what it means to BUILD here at Allume, I’m reminded of that story.  Because whether we’re building houses, or blogs, platforms, or communities, at the end of the day, what we’re building on top of is what makes the thing we’re even building able to stand.  It matters that we build on solid ground.  It matters that the soil beneath the surface be stable and good.  Because if all we do is heap up trash and toss some grass and flowers to cover the top, we’re eventually gonna have a whole lot of excavating to do before we can even even begin to build that dream house….or blog…or book…or relationship.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matt 7:24-27

Maybe there is some digging to do before we can actually begin to build?  Perhaps the work needing to be done is excavation…or it could just be just that we need to do some light soil work to get things started?  Are our motives pure for what it is that we plan to develop?  Is what we’re building for God’s Kingdom or for our own?  And let’s not get caught in the trap of building our own kingdom FOR His Kingdom either.  The Kingdom of Heaven is perfectly solid and not looking for new rulers or land-owners.  What God is looking for though are servants willing to till the fields of the earth for His glory.  And as we’re tilling His fields, in building and sowing into His Kingdom, He also asks us to build and sow into one another.

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness…Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.  – 1 Thess 5:5, 11

Whatever I build up, should never tear you down.  In fact, if the ground where we lay a foundation is solid, then perhaps we should just hold hands and dig in together.  I keep thinking about the body being made of many parts, and how each part just builds into the capacity of what the body can do as a whole when it works together.

When I think about some of the most glorious cities I’ve ever visited in my life, New York, Edinburgh, London, Paris, and Barcelona, part of what I love most is the diversity found within the architecture of each place.  Each city was built embracing different periods and styles, colors, climates, and cultures, carrying its own unique DNA because of the differences that collect there together.  And oh how they shine! How magnificent to see the blending of ancient and modern, classical and contemporary.  The beauty lies within the differences.

Imagine friends, what we could build together?  When the site of our foundation is set deep in the One who’s resurrection we celebrated just yesterday?! Oh how that city would shine.  How beautifully diverse, and solid, and lovely that city will be!

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matt 5:14-16

One.

one regular final

The Mighty One , God the Lord,

speaks and summons the earth

from the rising of the sun to its setting.

– Psalm 50:1

My friend Christa wrote this amazing song a few years ago.  I’m pretty sure that you may have sung it before.  It’s called “One Thing Remains” and for the past couple of years it has been sweeping the nation, showing up in worship services all over the place.  I’ve liked the song since the first time I heard it.

But see, last year, Christa wrote the most heart wrenching blog post I may have ever read.  And right there at the top of the post were lyrics from this song she had written 4 years earlier.

“In death, in life, I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love.”

Twenty-four hours before she wrote the post, Christa gave birth to their first daughter who died 40 minutes later.

And then she wrote those words, and I know that she meant them.  The first time she said them and even when she put them at the top of a blog post about losing her daughter.

Because see, the thing is that no matter what happens before the sun rises, or sets, or during any of the hours in between, one thing does remain, and that is the love of a Father who came and lived and died to prove that love to us.

And for us here at Allume, it all comes down to that ONE thing.

Psalm 50-1 final

One God who is the beginning and the end and all the days in between.  He has spoken over the world and calls together all things.  He breathed time and space into being…called earth and water into existence. He names us His sons and daughters..and all together he calls us ONE body.

Whether you’re a wife, mom, sister, brother, father, stay-at-home, working person, blogger, non-blogger, author, speaker, whatever-you-want-to-call-yourself title, we believe in you.  We believe in the power of the One true God to unify us, to speak life in and through us, and to change a world that is desperately in need of love and of people who care.  You are an influencer, and the size of your influence doesn’t matter nearly so much as your desire to make that influence count for something bigger than yourself.

So as we begin a new year here with a lot of exciting things in store, we want to boil it all down to the ONE reason we are here and doing what we do in the first place.

Thankful

Allume 2014-Thanksgiving

Sitting at my sister’s kitchen table in New Jersey, I stare the French bulldog perched on the edge of the sofa straight in the face.

“One, two, three, four….. seventeen, nineteen, thirty-seven, TWENTY”

Sounds emanate from the adjoining room as a wild game of hide-and-go-seek fills my ears, and I find myself  both distracted from writing and simultaneously filled to the brim with a grateful heart.

“Henry is in the kitty litter!!!”

“What?!” I shout, jumping up from the table to find my 2 year old nephew in his hiding place in the closet…ankle deep in smelly grayish pebbles.

“You finded me!” a tiny voice squeals!

“Don’t do that!!! EWWWW!  Gross guys!  Let’s find a new hiding space! Oh Henry…we need to wash your feet!”

And so our Thanksgiving holiday begins…

*          *          *

While our hearts fill with reflections of blessing, and many of our homes fill with family and friends at this start of the holiday season, it is our desire here at Allume, that you know our thankfulness extends deep into this community.

We are grateful for you… our partners, our friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Grateful that we can open the doors of our homes and our hearts and receive the blessings of community in real life and in the online space.  We cheer for you, for your ministries, your callings, and the work that God is doing in and through you.

And for all of these things, we give thanks.  We record gifts, we bless one another, and we praise the Lord for his goodness to do abundantly more than we ever ask or imagine.

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

** I want to add in here that this post was originally written prior to the most recent events of the Ferguson decision and the resulting groanings in pain of entire communities.  In no way do we want to minimize the present pain by continuing to give thanks for the gifts we do have, but as we steward this space and our influence, we want to recognize that this life is simultaneously filled with pain and thanksgiving.  One does not minimize the other and in order to fully honor the Lord, we believe that we must learn how to hold these things together, to use our influence to expand the kingdom of God, and that the Kingdom is fully inclusive of ALL of God’s children.  As we hold pain and thanksgiving in tandem, we believe that a willingness to communicate, listen, and use our influence for the Lord can and will produce holy fruit.  

We have so much to be thankful for, but there is still so much still that my heart groans to see come to fruition. Jesus, let us see the days soon where we celebrate all of our differences and the only privilege we ever have is used to sow an increase in life and equality into the world. Thank you Lord for your creativity in creating us gloriously different, but remove the scales from our eyes that impede us from fuller living as a complete and diverse body of Christ. Today of all the things I’m thankful for, the thing I continue to be most thankful for is that Jesus died on the cross for ALL people and that my entire life should be lived out of that reality.

Today we are thankful for much, but there is still much that our hearts long to see change.  As we set a table for Allume this coming year, know that our hearts are to set it wide with thanksgiving and gratefulness for the beauty of difference that the Lord breathes into our world.

Saying Yes to What is Best.. (And a BIG Announcement)

The Best Yes

A couple of days ago, I was super excited to receive in the mail an advanced reader’s copy of my friend Lysa Terkeurst’s new book, “The Best Yes.”  And while I can’t wait to finish the whole book, the title struck me immediately and I put a sticker from the box that says “Is this my best yes?” directly onto the back of my phone.  Because let’s be honest….if one of my babes is tugging at my shirt needing snuggles and some time with me, I often need to put the phone down with all of its apps and emails and social media pulls.  It is just not my best yes.

But it’s not only our phones that beg that question of us either.  It’s our time, our relationships, and our commitments that can force us into not being able to give our best yesses to the people or things that deserve them.  In her book, Lysa says “The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep.  The schedule you keep determines the life you live.  And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul.”  Annie Dillard puts it this way, “How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.”

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live stressed and overwhelmed with an underwhelmed soul…and I don’t want the people I love to live like that either.  I want to spend my days in ways that testify to a life well lived.  But, if we can’t say the hard “no’s” sometimes, then we need to know that can also prevent us from the capacity to give our best yes.

So when my dear friend Ann Voskamp wrote me very recently and said that as much as she adores and cherishes Allume, for this time in their family, it just isn’t their best yes, I blessed her with all the blessings of our entire community and told her we need the examples of more women being willing to say the hard “No”, so that they can walk in the best “Yes”.  What this means for us is that we will sadly not have the pleasure of hosting sweet Ann for what would have been her 5th Allume.  But… what it means also is that we support one of our sisters in releasing her to being able to follow the Lord in obedience to say her best “Yes” in the place that needs it most.

And while no one would dare to say that any one of God’s children is replaceable (and certainly we all agree that Ann is one-of-a-kind), we do have the pleasure of bringing someone new into our community to keynote at Allume this fall.  Because don’t you know that the Lord loves to give his children good gifts, and those good gifts DO extend to the opportunities we have to hear his own speak and honor him?!

In one week I received separate messages from an old high school friend, Anna, who is a fabulously talented makeup artist in LA, and my dear friend and literary agent, Don Jacobson, both telling me that I just had to meet their friend Sarah Dubbeldam.  Don has known Sarah for years as a friend of his daughter, and Anna is the beauty editor for the stunningly gorgeous magazine that Sarah is the editor-in-chief of called Darling.  Sarah and I finally got to connect, and all the while I’ve continued praying that the Lord would make clear his plans for Allume this year.  After Sarah and I got off the phone, we both just knew that there was something special that the Lord was doing, but neither of us knew quite what it was.

So here we are now.  Our Ann gets to give her best yes to her family… paving the way for Sarah to give her best yes to us!

Friends, get super excited because you’re in for a treat this fall when we have the pleasure of presenting to you our friend, Sarah Dubbeldam.

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Sarah Dubbeldam is the founder and Editor in Chief of Darling Magazine, an artistic quarterly publication that seeks to broaden the “ideals” of beauty in media and speak real, time-tested wisdom to women. Now recognized across the nation in over 100 retailers such as Whole Foods, Nordstrom and Anthropologie, the magazine is broadening into a social media movement with it’s “no Photoshop” policy and call for women to know their true worth. Sarah and her team are most excited about Darling’s recent partnership with International Justice Mission to help eradicate sex trafficking in South America. Sarah lives with her husband Steve, the CEO of Darling, in Los Angeles, California.

Connect with Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and make sure too to check out Darling!  Get ready to swoon friends…it’s stunningly beautiful and fully encouraging!

*And while we’re talking about it, What do you need to say no to, in order to give your best yes? We’d love for you to share in the comments below.  (Make sure to check out Lysa’s book, “The Best Yes” available HERE! and enjoy “The Best Yes” blog tour coming soon too!)

Letter from Logan: The Marrow of Living

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“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” –  Henry David Thoreau

Last month I wrote about functioning with a lack of margin in our lives.  I had begun to feel like life was a whirring blender and I was getting chopped up in it.  Sufficed to say, that is not how I want to live.

I’ve always been of the opinion that if there are things in your life that aren’t working for you…CHANGE IT.

I realize that sounds very black and white and it’s not really always that simple, but the truth is that hard decisions are never simple.  Priorities need to get shifted and sometimes making space to breathe can even mean scheduling unplanned time.

A few days after the margin post I went to the lake with a handful of my closest friends.  We had great plans for jump starting summer’s bronze glow on our skin and sipping sweet tea on the edge of lounge chairs all day.

Turned out, it was cold.

We wore bathing suits on the porch that shortly thereafter got covered with fuzzy blankets.  Not long after the blanketing, in full resignation to the chill bumps covering our skin, we came back inside and put on pajamas and slippers.

Katie and Lindsey brought art supplies with them.  I didn’t feel like just sitting and so asked if I could have a piece of paper and use Katie’s watercolors.

I’m not entirely sure how to explain what happened in my soul in the hours following.  The space between us filled with conversation, and something apparently bottled up in my spirit began to release between brush strokes of colored water onto thick, textured cardstock.  And when I painted the word “breathe” as if prompted by heaven itself, the tears began to roll.

Sometimes we forget to….

breathe

For hours we found ourselves slowly gathering around the table…painting, releasing, sharing, dreaming, encouraging.  We made lots of art.  We remembered that God was the first creative, and that he put that creativity into each of us too.

But when creativity becomes a machine in us, and we begin to produce instead of create, something tenses up and we find ourselves trapped.

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So we make space, and walk in freedom again and create without thought of the end result… and something releases.

*           *           *

Last weekend my family went to the mountains.  And something in my spirit began to exhale again.  I didn’t even know I’d been holding my breath for so long.  Sometimes it’s like that.

Like Thoreau said, I want to suck the marrow out of life.  I want to sit by streams while my kids fish and color what I see.

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I want to strip trees of bark and make baskets and fill them with wildflowers and strawberries that scatter across hills.

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I want to “live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.”

And I want to encourage you to do that too.

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples 

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, 

of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 

 And he will swallow up on this mountain 

the covering that is cast over all peoples, 

the veil that is spread over all nations. 

 He will swallow up death forever; 

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, 

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the Lord has spoken. 

 It will be said on that day,

“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. 

This is the Lord; we have waited for him; 

let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” – Is 25:6-9

**What do you need to cast off, to cut away, or to make space for?  Let’s live full together.  Let’s suck the marrow out of living.

Letter from Logan: Margin

margin

 

I heard a sermon several years ago that was one of those that really stuck with me.  Maybe it’s that I feel it often pushed into my mind since I need to remember it.  Maybe, it was just one of those sticky sort of thoughts that resonated and keeps circling back around.  Perhaps I see a need for the word that was shared around me…perhaps I need to practice it more myself.

It was about margin.

Margin…that space between feeling like there is plenty of room to move around and being crammed against a wall.  The edge or border. It’s what keeps a book from feeling stressful when we read…the space between the end of one thought and the end of a page.  Imagine reading where words ran to the very side and into the very center binding.  It feels suffocating to imagine literature laid out in such disarray….no room to think, to ponder, or to breathe between paragraphs even.

Funny how people talk about margin of error too…that tiny space between doing something right and messing it up completely.  The amount by which a thing is won, or falls short.

And life without margin, well that seems absolutely suffocating.

But the truth is that most of us don’t leave enough of it.  Most of us run activities up to bedtime and then even from a propped pillow and outstretched legs, the work goes on.  We facebook or write blog posts or books or work on family budgets.

Our allotment of margin seems to be about as generous as our attitudes while waiting a blessed 10 full minutes in the line of a restaurant touting itself as “fast food.”

I’ve been running the past 2 weeks without margin.  And I kid you not, it feels like the breath has been kicked out of my lungs.

Now I’m not saying that I regret any of the things I’ve done.  Sarah Mae and I attended the Mom’s Night Out premiere in LA, I attended the funeral of Pure Charity’s founder Josh Copher, attended a K3 fieldtrip with one son, and threw my older son’s very first sleepover birthday party.  Individually, none of those things were impossible to do.  Even together would have made for a super full week…words run right up close to the binding of the book of my life.  But when my son came home from school a week ago with head lice, I thought I was going to blow my lid.

“I DO NOT HAVE MARGIN FOR THIS!!!” I yelled on the phone through tears to my husband.

And I didn’t.

So I panicked and stressed and missed out on things I’d tried to make time to do and couldn’t.  And then I felt like a failure.  I missed my son’s actual birthday, I missed a weekend of time with my family, my parents, and my sister’s family from NY.  Everything I did, needed to be done, but the balls I was trying to juggle in the air came crashing down and cracked open on the floor like eggs…fragile, messy, and broken.

Because I didn’t make space for the unexpected.  I didn’t preserve margin for life unplanned.

And so… busy moms and women out there reading this, let me put out this challenge to us as a community to make room for unexpected living.  Make room for afternoons of popsicles with our kids on the porch.  Make room to write the blog post that was due by midnight last night (ahem…yes, I’m nearly 24 hours late on this), make room for unexpected drop ins from friends, or the craft project that feeds your soul.  Make room for cooking a good dinner, and actually sitting down to enjoy it.

We can’t be a people of invitational living, if we operate beyond the margins and thereby force ourselves into rigid and stressful function.

Lets live full… to take in the content we’re living, because we leave enough room to savor it.

**If you’re great at this, please share a few tips that you employ to create margin in your life.  If you’re not, share below a couple of things that you can put into practice right now to help put more margin back into your living.

Hope for Our Friends at Pure Charity

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The thing about a community is that when one of its members is affected by something, all of the members feel it.

To be a people of living invitation, we must be a people of living investment as well…and today, along with our dear friends at Pure Charity, we mourn the loss of one who has lived a life full of investing and inviting others into the work that God is doing around the globe.

Pure Charity, an Allume partner for the past 3 years, and dear friends to many of us individually, announced today the passing of their founder and CEO, Josh Copher.

josh copher

A man full of life, vision, and love for the least of these, Josh leaves behind his precious wife Kristin (who spoke on the Impact Panel at Allume this past year) as well as a legacy of generosity and a life poured out for the blessing of others.

We deeply grieve the loss along with our friends and ask that you join us in praying for the family, Pure Charity, and the millions of lives that they touch as they navigate this difficult time.  And in the words of Pure Charity and on behalf of them in this loss, as the Allume community I ask that you join me to pray, support, and choose hope for Kristin and the PC family.

In the name of Jesus we speak blessing on the Copher family, on the entire Pure Charity team, and over the decisions that will need to be made about what it looks like to move forward without this passionate and visionary leader.  We ask the Lord for comfort that surpasses all understanding, for peace that calms, and for joy to arise from the ashes of tragedy.  Father we thank you for the life of Josh Copher and the ways you have used him for your Kingdom, and we thank you that he is with you now in perfect peace and health.  In Jesus name, Amen.

– Logan

 

Letter from Logan: Open Hearts

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Last month I shared some Allume vision with you… about becoming a people of living invitation.  And of course, as many of you know, oftentimes writing something becomes the catalyst for getting to live it more deeply.

I just returned from Uganda on a writing trip with Allume partner, Sole Hope.  Carey Bailey, our Allume Creative Director, and I joined them for over a week.  We were able to see the work that they are doing there, to participate, and to write about what we saw, and what we learned.

I started off by inviting readers to journey along with me on my own blog.

What began as a simple invitation to journey together, quickly turned into a wild ride as many of you were pouring out prayers and encouragements on my behalf.  From the moment that my team was forced to leave me alone in the airport, to the tears I shed upon finally getting to Uganda and investing in the work there,  so many of you came with me.

Comment threads can become lifelines to know that our words are in fact soaking into souls, and that the journeys we have the privileges of living are, in fact, being lived in community.  Your words and prayers were breathing hope and life to me there, and then I saw my words from Uganda being used to stir souls to movement back home in the States.

Isn’t that what we’re all doing here anyhow?  Figuring out how to do life together…to stir one another, to sharpen one another, to encourage one another?

I want to steward the moments of this life well.  It is my heart to see us, as the Allume community, steward our lives for the Kingdom of heaven.  We steward our time, our spaces, our voices, and our words all for the glory of the Lord.  I want to be a people who steward our hearts and the corner seats on our sofas with a cup of coffee in hand, for the benefit of a broken world.

We can’t invite online well, if we can’t invite in reality well.

Open doors begin with open hearts. 

In the past couple of weeks since I’ve been home, there has been a LOT of talk on the internet about the church and invitation… who is or isn’t presumed invited to the table of Jesus.

For myself, and for this community, I want to be the first to say, if we are only willing to share a meal with those who think the same as we do, then I think we’re missing the point.  If we can wash the feet of the poor, but not of our enemies (or of those we might even vehemently disagree with), then we’re part way there, but still not all-in.

To be a people of invitation, we have to ask what it looks like to be a people of big, Jesusy hearts.  Hearts that love far and deep and wide and to the ends of the earth.

Love doesn’t always mean agreeing, but it does mean patience, kindness, humility, rejoicing with truth, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things.

The thing about love is that it’s not conditional…and it never fails.

If we want to be a people of invitation, then first, we have to figure out what it looks like to be a people of love.

Letter from Logan: A People of Living Invitation

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WOW!  SO… it’s been awhile since any of us have written much on here huh?  Truly, we wanted to spend time evaluating and re-evaluating the Allume blog and our goals for it, and figured the best way to do that was to quit doing whatever we were doing to really focus on it all.  We did that for awhile, and now we’re back!

And we are excited!

Don’t you know though that Sarah Mae had to email me to remind me that today was my day?! Oh Mylanta ya’ll….it crept up on me! Even after these months!

You got a run down this past week to know a bit about what to expect from the blog, but today I just want to share a bit about what you can expect from Allume in general.  I guess that’s going to be sort of the point of you all hearing from me monthly as well…just to keep you up to speed on not just logistics and whatnot, but really our hearts behind Allume.

One day I’ll tell the longer version of the story, but for now what I want you to know is that about this time last year I was bawling my eyes out trying to plan a conference and had no clue what I was doing, only trying to follow what I was hearing from the Lord.  And about this time last year, while I was fully committed to walking out to completion what the Lord had told me to do, I was pretty sure that He was never going to ask me to do it again…or at least that’s what I was kinda begging of Him.

Last I checked though, God’s plans are usually not the same as my own.

And that’s also usually a good thing.

So, amidst the following and bawling, and bawling and following, I had a conversation with the Lord where I told him (oh yes…I told Him…like I had any real in-chargness at all) that unless He told me what He had planned for 2014, BEFORE, the 2013 Allume Conference, I wasn’t going to do it.

This stuff isn’t for the faint of heart…I’m not gonna lie.

And don’t you just know it, that the Lord actually told me….BEFORE the 2013 conference?!

So now I’m up a creek and just got handed the paddle I’d practically demanded.  But the thing is, it’s a paddle that I’m really excited about too.  I’m so excited about it in fact, that our whole team wants to invite you into this boat… to ride this creek all the way to the river, because we are pretty certain that it’s a river of life beyond what we can even see now!

I’m not much for theme-y things.  As in, too much planned or too matchy-matchy in a room even…but I am a fan of a thread, and that’s what I think we’re gonna get this year.  And as I’ve been praying and listening and making decisions with the team about where we think this thing is going, one thing I keep hearing is that we are to be a people of “living invitation.”

If I can be so bold as to share the very sentence that I have heard over and over for the Allume community, it’s this…

As bloggers we are often a people of windows…but as believers we are called to be a people of doors.

As writers and bloggers it seems that we often offer a view of the inside of our lives to a person standing on the lawn outside.  They see bits and pieces, but don’t know what happens between those windows, or amidst the hallways.  But as believers in Jesus Christ, I believe we are called to be a people of doors…of living invitation…of opening our hearts and our doors to others, whether online or in real life.  True Biblical hospitality is a posture of the heart towards others… of living invitation for the purpose of loving others the way that Jesus loved.  And that’s what we’re gonna journey together this year to figure out.

I don’t know what that’s gonna look like exactly, but I know that there is life and abundance when 2 or more gather and seek the face of God…and we’re gathering 450.  You couldn’t dare God not to show up with that many of us hungering after Him!

Content is king in my opinion only because Jesus is King.  And a life well lived, and lessons well learned, and wisdom gained and shared from full and intentional living in whatever area you’re called to share…that’s the kind of content we’re most interested in encouraging you to work out!

So yes…we want to be a space that encourages and equips you all well in this online space.  We desire to each steward the influence we have been given and to curate the spaces we manage with wisdom too.  But our heart here in this space is that we walk together into living well and full, and from that place we write and blog and make a difference in the world in which we live.

Heaps of Love to you all,

Logan

#livinginvitation

*Photo Credit: Esther Havens from a trip I took with Food for the Hungry to Bangladesh

Here Ye, Here Ye! Gettin’ British up in here! Or not. BUT TICKETS AND GIVEAWAYS! And the BEST kind of shopping spree.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume13

Once when I was a kid, the children’s ministry at my church performed the musical, “Fat Fat Jehoshaphat.”

My dear friend Laura Parker always got the leads in the plays because she could sing like a nightingale. I on the other hand….well….couldn’t.  So in “Fat Fat Jehoshaphat,” I was cast as the scribe.  Apparently discontented with being just a scribe, I decided to jazz things up a bit.  So… in my announcement of Fat Fat Jehoshaphat entering the room during the performance…in true-to-Biblical-time fashion…I shouted my “Here Ye, Here Ye” line with a decidedly 8 year old version of a Brittish accent.

And so, I made my stage debut….

I have no idea what Ann Voskamp and I were giddy over in this picture from Allume this past fall, but it really looks to me like I’m announcing her with a British “Here Ye, Here Ye.”

And since there’s something worth announcing…in the very best way that I know how, I say to you….

Here Ye, Here Ye!

Allume tickets go on sale tomorrow at midnight!

 We will be having a Twitter party beginning tomorrow (Friday 2/28) at 11pm and will run right up until tickets go on sale!  At 11:50 pm during the Twitter party, we’ll even be giving away a FREE Conference Ticket! The first 50 tickets sold get a special Early Bird price of $265 (regular price is $299) and the pass includes access to all general sessions, breakout sessions, parties, as well as including all meals from Thursday dinner through Saturday dinner! Go HERE to get your pass, and join us tomorrow night as we give away tons of prizes between 11pm and midnight under the #Allume hashtag!

Hope you’ll join us tomorrow night as well as at the conference this October 23-25th in Greenville, SC!  And in case you haven’t seen, make sure you check out our new website!  We freshened things up a bit on the ol world wide web slice that Allume.com occupies, and we’re pretty pleased with the way it turned out!  Really…we think it deserves a “Here Ye, Here Ye” for sure!

Giveaway!

Do you ever wish you could support a cause financially but you’re strapped for sparing the extra money? Well, today’s giveaway is awesome because it’s money to giveaway.

Let me back up a minute.

Have you heard of Pure Charity? They make it easy to crowdfund projects, non-profits, and causes you care about. For example, you could help fund a staff member in Asia who will help rescue minors who are slaves in sex-trafficking. Or you could support a new resident in Mercy House Kenya, an organization founded by Kristen Welch of We Are THAT Family. Or hey, why don’t you consider funding surgeries for children in Iraq, brought to you by the amazing folks at Preemptive Love Coalition.

These are just a few ideas that scratch the surface of what you can do with Pure Charity.

And if you love the idea, but could use some money to get you started, today’s giveaway is for you! Pure Charity is giving away a $50 gift card to use on the Pure Charity website!

This is THE BEST kind of shopping spree.

To enter, just fill out the form below! Tweet you tonight!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love, Logan and Sarah Mae

 

Announcing…Our 2014 Conference Speakers!

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One of the best parts of this job is praying and listening to the Lord about the people He wants to bring together for the conference each year.  I may not know all the names or have ever met some of these people at first at all, but as we read about them, pray over them, talk to them, and ask the Lord to assemble the message He wants delivered with the people that He has already given the messages to…honestly, it’s really fun.

So that’s kinda how we roll around these Allume parts.  The Lord drops names from nowhere sometimes, sometimes there is a message that a person exudes that somehow seems to fit, sometimes it’s a rabbit trail that ends up with a person on the other end…but however it comes together, we are all just as excited as you are to see what happens when we come together in the fall.

Our 2014 Speaker Roster is pretty diverse, we’ve got men and women, conservatives and liberals, creatives, writers, entrepreneurs, moms, dads, teachers, and friends.  Really to us, it looks to us a whole lot like the body of Christ.  It’s a group of God-chasers, big-dreamers, hard-workers, and people-lovers, and we are right excited to hear from them the stuff that God is placing on their hearts, the talents and experience they bring to share, and the encouragement they will pour out.

Don’t forget that tickets go on sale at midnight on March 1st!  First 50 to sell get the earlybird price and save $40!  Can’t wait to see you all this October 23-25th in Greenville, SC!

So without further ado… it is my pleasure to pop you over to our 2014 Allume Speaker Page!

Logan and the Allume Team

(and if you haven’t met our 2014 team, make sure you go HERE to get to know them as well!)

Time for a Moms Night Out

image1If you joined us at Allume this past October, then you got a chance to hear a little bit about this super fun new movie set to release on May 9th…Mother’s Day Weekend.  We have the privilege to share a bit more about it here with all of you now!

The kind people at Sony Pictures and Provident Films sent me a sneek peek of the movie (which was an exciting thing in itself to see a movie before it comes out) and I have to tell you that my girlfriends and I laughed til we cried!  I honestly don’t know when I’ve seen a movie that feels so true to life of how it feels to be a mother.  There were joys, chaos, those moments you think you’ll lose your mind, and the moments you just want to snuggle your little ones and keep them small forever.  My friends and I felt like finally, as mothers, we were understood by Hollywood and the movie industry.  If you’re a mom, you MUST go out and watch this movie.  If you’re not, please watch it and know that the emotions these women experience (as insane as they will seem) are totally legit!

Grab your girlfriends and head out Mother’s Day Weekend to treat yourselves to a girls night out with Moms Night Out.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

And if my endorsement isn’t enough to convince you that you are in need of a laugh this hard, check out the official movie trailer here now!

Having trouble viewing, click here to watch the trailer!

12 Days of Christmas!

Many of you this year at Allume had the privilege of learning more and engaging in the incredible work of Freeset to employ and offer job training to women who have been rescued from human trafficking.  Freeset has the most amazing heart to bring freedom and new life to women specifically in India, and we love that we can partner with them to encourage women on this side of the globe to make connections with women on the other side of it as well.  We all have stories to tell, and when we can intersect our stories…when we here can be a part of creating new stories there, we see power and movement channeling through us in the Kingdom of God.

We have the opportunity to share a special story with you today, as a part of the 12 Days of Christmas initiative, from Freeset’s Founder, Annie.

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On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…3 Bengali Hens… There is a village that we visit often.  A village with a dark secret – many of its daughters are sold into prostitution.  Priti, now working at Freeset in Calcutta, is just one of the many that end up in the brothels of Sonagacchi.  Knowing that we are looking at planting a freedom business in her village, Priti pleaded with us to visit her family home.  The next time she went home, we intentionally made the trip out to visit.

It was humbling, we were treated like royalty – and their prized hens sacrificed to feed us a delicious chicken curry.  As we left– I watched Priti – her arms linked with mine – she held her head high as she walked through the village beside me.  No more shame in her eyes – only pride and a quiet dignity.

We’ve been back many times now and I’ve even been allowed to sit on the mudfloor and help roll “roti”(Indian flat bread) and cook over the mud stove fuelled with sticks and cow dung.  I am part of the family now and their hospitality continues to humble me.     Priti’s village is called Valkundi and Freeset has been able to purchase a block of land nearby. Freeset Fabrics is now registered as a new business, plans are drawn up and we hope to start building soon – a  new weaving and sewing unit will be established there. Priti is the eldest daughter and she was sacrificed and sent to Kolkata, a source of income for her family.  Freeset Fabrics will ensure that there will be other choices for girls like Priti.     The gift of a delicious chicken curry – a symbol of acceptance and welcome into a new community.

The more Freeset bags and tees that sell, the more women Freeset is able to train to work in freedom. Support these amazing women and get Christmas gifts by buying a bag or tee at www.freesetusa.com.
Read yesterday’s 12 Days Freedom installment here.
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Thank you for using your voice of influence on behalf of the amazing women of Freeset and those who seek freedom.
{for freedom}
Kristi 
Join us here at Allume, to partner with Freeset and become a part of the freedom story. Watch the Freeset video, shop their gorgeous bags, change lives.
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Allume Worldwide Christmas Coffee…You’re Invited!!!

The Christmas Season is upon us, and if you’re as excited as we are to already be digging into Ann Voskamp’s book on Advent, “The Greatest Gift,” raise your hand?!  Really though, during this season as we gather around the manger to celebrate God’s greatest gift to each of us, we want to encourage you to gather around homes all over the world to celebrate the gift of friendship.

SO we’re trying something new here with Allume (which explains why we’re a little behind on getting you the information…figuring out the technical stuff always trips Logan up!)  We all enjoyed so much making friends through Allume both online and at the conference this past year, that we think once a year just doesn’t seem like enough chances to put faces and avatars together.  And because a conference takes a heap of time to put together and gets hard to travel to sometimes, we thought we’d begin to create reasons to gather with other women in your area throughout the year.

SO…we’re partnering with Mary & Martha to bring you the first ever

Allume Worldwide Christmas Coffee

on Thursday December 12th!

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This is your chance (if you were looking for a reason) to gather Allume friends together in your area! Grab friends new and old and let’s celebrate this Christmas season together on Thursday, December 12th!

Our 2013 conference sponsor, Mary & Martha, will send the first 25 hostesses to sign up a bag of their signature coffee, and each hostess participating will be entered to win the lovely tray with 6 coffee mugs pictured above (2 available)!  Feel free to vary the time if you prefer a morning, afternoon, or evening meetup, then just make sure you note it when you sign up to host a gathering in your area! Logan will be hosting at 8pm in Greenville, but you might prefer 9am…just do what feels right for you!  And if having people to your home freaks you out, but you want to get together, then pick a local coffee shop to host!  The point isn’t what it looks like when you do it…just that you gather!

So put some coffee on, bring a goody to share with you, and let’s celebrate the Christmas season together, Allume Style! So whether you’ve been to the conference, wanted to come, or just peeked around online, we want to invite you to join us as we celebrate friendships around the greatest gift born to us in a manger!

Sign up HERE to host an Allume Christmas Coffee in your area!

Love,

Logan and Sarah Mae

A Blessing Over You All

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Allume this weekend….

Can I just say, “WOW!”

There is a lot to decompress, but I wanted to share something with all of you that was spoken over the entire conference last night.  To seal things up and to encourage along the way home.  The vision that Sarah Mae began…and the one that the Lord is now revealing to me… that we will continue to implement together moving forward, is to call you all into a space and a place where we use our whole lives and the spaces we have online for the glory of our King.  So until we have slept and can piece together more cohesive thoughts, we speak again over ALL of you in this community (whether you were with us or not), what David Walker shared in worship on our last night:

May the blessings released through your hands cause the windows to open in darkened minds.

May the suffering your calling brings
Be but winter before the spring.

May the companionship of your doubt restore what your beliefs leave out.

May the secret hungers of your heart harvest from emptiness it’s sacred fruit.

May your solitude be a voyage into the wilderness and Wonder of God.

May your words have the prophetic edge to enable the heart to hear itself.

May the silence where your calling dwells foster your freedom in all you do and feel.

May you find words full of divine to find warmth to clothe the dying in the language of dawn.

May the slow light of Christ’s Communion be a sure shelter around your future.

Amen.

We love you all and are humbled to have shared this weekend with you!

Logan and Sarah Mae

Be Love… {Impact Opportunity Sign-ups!}

Today, we are sharing with you the final 3 Impact Opportunities with the following partners that will be taking place at the Allume Conference on Saturday afternoon, October 26th!

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You will have the chance to sign up for the ONE that peaks your interest most at the end of this post! (The sign-up link will also be added to the bottom of each previous Impact Opportunity post as well in the Conference/Super-Fun Sign-ups tab on the Allume navigation bar, and in a link on the sidebar!) Remember, there is limited space in each opportunity, so sign up quickly to make sure you reserve your spot!

The Impact Opportunity sign-ups are available to conference pass holders only and will take place from 2:30 – 4pm on Saturday afternoon of the conference!

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Using Your Influence for Good
Join Mike Rusch (Pure Charity) & Lindsey Nobles (Food for Hungry) as they work with you to help form and shape your strategy of rallying your community for good.  They will provide real world insights that result in tangible ways that your influence (large or small) can be used make an impact in the lives of others.
During this time you will have the opportunity to discover how your passions align with your ability to make a tangible impact in someone’s life, develop a customized communication and fundraising strategies for your community, and receive practical training on how to build online advocacy groups to maximize your communities impact.
Pure Charity is a community of people dedicated to inspiring and encouraging a movement of generosity.  Pure Charity empowers you to promote and support your favorite nonprofits, create personal fundraisers for adoptions, missions, and travel, and affect change for the vulnerable around the world.
Food for the Hungry (FH) is a Christian organization serving the poor globally since 1971. We reflect the love of Christ in short-term emergency relief and long-term development. After natural disasters, FH responds to help shelter, feed and clothe survivors. Over time FH begins working towards long-term sustainable development, transforming impoverished communities into healthy, productive places for children to grow.

 

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It’s time to channel your inner passion for snail mail and come and join (in)courage as we write love notes that will be traveling as far away as Kenya and as close as around the corner here in Greenville. DaySpring will be providing cards and small gifts of encouragement for you to personalize with messages of hope and encouragement to remind some of our sisters in Christ trapped in the worst kind of abuse that they are, indeed, beloved and not forgotten by their Father God.

Your love notes will be delivered to the teenage moms of Mercy House Kenya, a home providing care to young girls who’ve become pregnant after being forced into prostitution in the slums of Kenya. Because of the safe haven of Mercy House there are 12 babies growing up healthy and happy who would likely not have been with us otherwise. Other love notes will be delivered by local organization Switch 42:16 to women currently involved in or escaping the sex trade right here in Greenville.

Join us from 2:30 – 4pm on Saturday at Allume as we hear from the directors of both these ministries and write message of Truth reminding our sisters that in God’s heart they are Created (I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14), Chosen (The Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession.Deuteronomy 14:2), Celebrated (He will take great delight in you…He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17) and Cherished (I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3).

As bloggers we all understand first hand the power of words. Come and spend your time and your words capturing the heart of our God for His daughters. Your notes and gifts will be delivered by hand to women who’ve forgotten that love is a free gift by the God who first loved them. Come and be part of the reminder.

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Preemptive Love Coalition works to remake worlds through surgical healing.  Rather than the knee-jerk lifestyle of risk-management and safe discipleship, PLC jumps first into situations of conflict to create space for peace, reconciliation, and generosity. Rather than preemptive war, which strikes first to avoid harm to self, preemptive love strikes first to remake the world through love.

We do this by providing lifesaving heart surgeries to children in Iraq and training local doctors and nurses to perform these surgeries on their own. Iraq has a tremendous backlog of 30,000+ children in need of heart surgery.

During Allume’s Impact Opportunities, we hope you will join us to make therapeutic fleece heart pillows to help these precious children recover following their lifesaving heart surgeries. These pillows reduce the pain of breathing and coughing, which is central to the post-op healing process. And in addition to pain relief, they will also know they are loved and cared for by you, Christians halfway across the world with big hearts.

We will also be writing “get well soon” cards to accompany each pillow, to give you an opportunity to tell these children how much they’re loved, cared for and prayed for. We are looking forward to seeing you at Allume and hope you will join us!

And now….you can SIGN UP HERE for the opportunity that gets you most excited!  If that one is full, pick your next favorite…and so on and so forth!  The truth is, they’re all gonna be awesome!  Make sure to only choose ONE though as they will all be happening simultaneously!

 

Pray, Rescue, Give…{Impact Opportunities}

Today, we’re releasing to you the next 3 Impact Opportunities with these incredible Allume partners!!!

Impact Opp2

After we share the final 3 Impact Opportunity options tomorrow, you will have the chance to sign up for the ONE that peaks your interest most! (The sign-up link will be added to the bottom of each Impact Opportunity post as well as in the Conference/Super-Fun Sign-ups tab on the Allume navigation bar, and in a link on the sidebar!) Remember, there is limited space in each opportunity, so sign up quickly to make sure you reserve your spot!

The Impact Opportunity sign-ups are available to conference pass holders only and will take place from 2:30 – 4pm on Saturday afternoon of the conference!

 

ER and freeset

Use Your Voice for The Modern Day Slave

The Exodus Road is a nonprofit organization fighting sex trafficking by empowering undercover investigation and rescue. The organization has supported the rescue of nearly 200 victims in the course of one year. They help support the work of over 30 covert investigators and work with nearly 20 organizations active in rescue and restoration. They provide covert gear, operational funding, and training and support to the brave men and women who are literally kicking down the doors.

Freeset is a fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. They make quality jute bags and organic cotton t-shirts, but their business is freedom. Using an “upside down model” of business, they employ women with little or no marketable skills or education, and then pay those ladies above a fair wage. Together, they are changing not only the lives of the women they employ, but are impacting the entire community which is located in the middle of one of the largest red-light districts in the world.

Together, The Exodus Road and Freeset will be hosting an impact opportunity focused on using your voice for the voiceless–the modern-day slaves. We will be engaging in five unique activities:

  • Education about the issue of human trafficking and the importance of holistic, sustainable, strategic approaches to fighting it.
  • A 20-minute workshop on how to effectively tell the stories of trafficking victims with dignity and effectiveness.
  • Opportunity to learn about and join The Exodus Road’s #blog4rescue team of bloggers who commit to writing once a month about the issues of trafficking and freedom. We’ll explain the program and encourage bloggers to sign up online, gaining them accessibility to a private section of The Exodus Road site with archived prompts, stories, and images from the front lines.
  • Watch covert footage from a recent raid in India. After watching the film, participants will be individually reading a script which will tell the story of the footage. Bloggers will literally be the “voice for the voiceless.” The audio will then be used in the creation of an inspirational film sponsored by both Freeset and Exodus Road and will be made available within two weeks of the Allume Conference.
  • Provided space to write a post or participate in a social media blast about the realities of human trafficking. As time allows, we’ll provide you with stories, prompts, images and statistics to share with your online sphere of influence.

In an effort to say thank you for supporting the work, The Exodus Road will be partnering with Freeset to provide a coupon for a steep discount on a limited edition bag to all attendees!

Participation in the #blog4rescue team and the video is optional, but highly encouraged.

We’d like to ask all participants to do the following before they sign up for our Impact Opportunity:

  1. Follow Freeset on facebook and twitter (@Freeset).
  2. Follow The Exodus Road on facebook and twitter (@theexodusroad).
  3. Take some time before the conference to familiarize yourself with both organizations via video, social media, or web articles.

 

The-Seed-Company-Logo-300x180

Join @theseedcompany in the Allume Prayer Room to impact eternity NOW.  Come and interact with Bibleless people groups around the world, engage God’s heart in prayer, and get a free #EndBiblePoverty t-shirt!

Did you know nearly 200 million people don’t have a single verse of God’s Word? The Seed Company is partnering globally to end Bible poverty for nearly 1 billion people today, yet great need still remains.

A friend’s response to this staggering need for God’s Word is simple: “I have. They don’t. I will.”

What happens when God’s Word is made available?

Prakash Amdabad is a poor farmer from northern Bihar, India, who has suffered from epilepsy most of his life. More than 50 years ago, his family was forced into landless poverty when Prakash’s landlord stole their property.  In 2012, Prakash’s son urged him, “Go to the church. They have a radio telling about Jesus in our language—He will heal you.” Eventually Prakash went and heard Bible stories, songs, and Scriptures in his own language. Prakash experienced Jesus in a powerful way and was miraculously healed of his epilepsy. With a changed heart, he began to pray for his powerful landlord, Yadav, who had stolen his family’s property.

One morning, with great courage, Prakash went to the house of Yadav and gave him a listening device with God’s Word in their common language. For the next four days, Prakesh prayed for Yadav. On the fifth day, the landlord came to Prakash’s village with his hands on his head—“My Prakash, ever since I started listening to this, I have been restless and not at peace. Please pray for me. I have come today to give you back your land. Please forgive me!”

How does a sick and illiterate man in an unassuming village become an agent to demonstrate God’s power, annulling injustice and bringing 65 other villagers to faith in Christ?  The Word of God moved in and transformed them.

The Word of God changes everything. Yet millions don’t have access.  Will you join us in prayer and action to #endBiblepoverty?

“God shapes the world by prayer.” – EM Bounds

Your prayers will impact eternity.

  • 2:30– 3:15pm: Write Scripture and encouragements to send to Bible translation projects
  • 3:15 – 3:55pm: Interactive prayer for the Nations to End Bible Poverty
  • 3:55 – 4:00pm: Pass out free #EndBiblePoverty t-shirts!

To participate in an interactive prayer and impact experience, join us in the Prayer Room on Saturday, October 26th from 2:30-4pm at Allume!

 

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Operation Christmas Child is a project of the international relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse.  Since 1993, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.

Come join us from 2:30 to 4:00 on Saturday at Allume for Christmas in October—Christmas music, Christmas cookies, and of course Christmas shoeboxes! Grab a box, fill it with school supplies, toys, and hygiene items, and send it to a child across the globe. We will share some fun ways to participate this year and explain how you can be a part of reaching the next 100 million children. You can be one of the first to try our newly designed interactive platform that allows you to build your shoebox online. You can send a note, picture, and even challenge your friends!

We will have a Question & Answer session with Alex Nsengimana, who received a shoebox while he was living in an orphanage in Rwanda after the genocide. Hear this incredible man talk about his journey to find love and forgiveness – and how it all started with a simple shoebox.

“A shoe box becomes a key to a closed door, for children to hear the Good News that God has not forgotten them.” – OCC international volunteer

 

Impact Opportunities {Part 2}

Today we’re sharing with you the first three of our Allume Conference Impact Opportunities and Partners!

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Pay close attention and make sure to come back tomorrow and Friday to hear about the rest!  Then, don’t delay in signing up for the one you want to be a part of!  Spaces are limited in each opportunity!  (Sign-ups are only open to conference attendees.  If you aren’t coming to the conference, but are local, still pay attention because you may have a chance to get involved in other ways as well!)

So without further ado…. here’s how you can get involved during this year’s Allume Conference!

 

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Want to make a difference in a child’s life today? Come to the Shoe Cutting Party and hang out with the girls from Sole Hope! Asher Collie, the founder of Sole Hope, will be sharing stories about living in Uganda while fighting the chigoe flea epidemic which is effecting the life and livelihood of children in East Africa.  Did you know children are in pain, humiliated, and social outcasts because they are living with a very treatable problem?  Today you can repurpose some old jeans and make a lasting difference in a child’s life.  We will be cutting up jeans and preparing them to be made into shoes by the Sole Hope ShoeMakers who reside in Uganda.  Come empty handed- we will have everything ready for you.  All we ask is you to have fun, meet new friends and cut on the line!

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In 2009, a celebrity photographer, Jeremy Cowart, presented a simple idea called Help-Portrait to the photography community:

  1. Find someone in need (a single mom, your next door neighbor, the elderly, the homeless, children at a hospital)
  2. Take their portrait
  3. Print it
  4. Deliver it

No one could have anticipated the response.

On a Saturday in December that year, more than 8,000 photographers, makeup artists, hairstylists and volunteers in 47 countries joined to give back and discovered the incredible impact this idea could have.

By simply giving of who they were- their time, talents, love, passion, laughter, hearts… a movement of life, hope, and purpose began to take root in the hearts they were serving.  Tears streamed down the eyes of a woman as she confessed that she felt special and beautiful- something she had never felt before.  A 53-year old man was all smiles after getting his first-ever picture taken (with the exception of jail).  Laughter and joy replaced discouragement.  Hope was restored.  Light returned to lifeless eyes.  People were reminded of their value and beauty.  Not only did it change the lives of those being served, but those who were serving came away greatly impacted.

From small events to large, from the largest cities to smallest towns, in various languages, a movement awakened.

In the last four years, people in 67 different countries have rallied together to give over 282,000 portraits away.  Time and again we have witnessed the transformational power of these events, and we want to invite you to experience it first-hand.

At the Allume Conference, we will be hosting a Help-Portrait event, and we would love for you to be a part of it!

Here is what we are looking for:

  • Photographers who are able to bring their cameras and put them to good use.
  • Hair stylists and makeup artists who will use their gifts to makeover the guests and help them to feel camera-ready.
  • We also need volunteers who will make the guests feel welcome, loved, and cared for.

This is about using whatever gift you have to reach out, to love, to connect, and to invest in those around you.  It might seem small to you, but your gift is valuable and when offered might just have the power to change a life- maybe even your own too.

We would love to have you on board.

 

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Cost of admission:  a least one gently used bra.  (YES, you read that correctly!!)

Ladies, dig those old bras out of the graveyard in the back of your “unmentionables” drawer and help change the life of a woman halfway around the world!

Kimba Langas, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Free The Girls, will be at Allume to give you the low-down on the lowest form of exploitation:  human trafficking.

What is Human Trafficking?  Human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the 2nd largest criminal industry behind illegal drugs.  Learn about why it’s a $32 billion dollar industry.  What does this mean to me?  Trafficking doesn’t just happen “over there”—it is rampant in the U.S. as well.  Learn the signs and how you can help.

Mozambique or Bust:  Watch a CNN Freedom Project documentary telling the story of Free The Girls and how a group of ordinary people set out to change the lives of trafficking survivors overseas.

Join the BRA BRIGADE:  Help receive, count, and box up bras dropped off at the hotel by the local community during the Impact Opportunity time frame.

About Free The Girls:

Free The Girls is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit corporation based in Colorado that has been working in Mozambique, Africa since August 2010 and is currently expanding into Kenya, Uganda and El Salvador. Free The Girls partners with established safe houses and after-care facilities to conduct business and job training for women rescued from sex trafficking.  We offer trafficking survivors an alternative to prostitution by providing them with the opportunity, training, and initial inventory to start micro-enterprises selling bras in second-hand clothing markets. These markets are a widespread, thriving industry in Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries.

 

Can’t decide already?!  Just wait!!!  We’ve got three more coming at you tomorrow!

Introducing…The Allume Impact Opportunities {Part 1}

I’m so excited ya’ll!  And to keep my excitement in a 2 minute video was super hard!  But the truth is that this excitement is really releasing all throughout the rest of this week!

Stay tuned for more information on what’s coming up with the Impact Opportunities at Allume throughout the rest of this week!  And don’t forget to sign up for the ONE that most peaks your interest beginning on Friday!  Spaces will be limited and will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis!  It’s going to be so, so neat to all be on mission together!

A Few Things My Allume Roommate Should Know…

It’s only fair really, that I go first you know.  So that the jitters any of you newbies might be feeling can quickly dispel when you realize things about me that are sort of… well… roommate access level information.  So here goes…my letter to my roommate, Sarah Mae.  Do me a favor and please don’t delay in linking up your “Things My Allume Roomie Should Know About Me” type posts below…just so I’m not left out here hanging alone in all of my oddities!

Logan and Sarah Smilebooth12

Dear Sarah Mae,

I should probably share a few things with you before we’re cuddled up all snug in our hotel room at Allume in October…just so that you have time to get over it all.

October in South Carolina is gloriously gorgeous with cool weather and the colors of fall foliage… which also means that my allergies will be in full force.  And by full force I mean, we could be at def-com level complete with breathe-right strips and still battle serious snoring.  Sawing logs my friend.  It happens.

So if you won’t hold that against me, I wont be weirded out when you rub your feet together incessantly in bed just to get comfortable….since I already know that bizarre fact about you beforehand too.  I don’t get it, but still ,that’s got to be a weirdness cancellation sort of thing happening here right?

And also, in strange places, I have been known to sleep talk…or walk…or suddenly yell out.  And by yell out, I don’t mean a minor shout…I mean more of say, a scream.  It’s freaky I know.  So just to avoid that, I might need to take a Tylenol PM.  Which leads to it’s own sort of “joys”…like drooling.  I’ve heard….not that I have experience with it, but I’ve heard that sleeping heavily can cause one to drool…alot.

You should also know that I really love late night talks with friends in my room.  Which will leave me exhausted, but thankfully, you’re wired the same way.  And the good news is that if you’re more energetic than I am, it’s ok…I have totally been known to fall fast asleep sitting upright in a room full of people.  It’s not exactly like narcolepsy, but more of a really fast-track way to peaceful slumber despite the presence of loads of guests.

When that peaceful slumber comes to an end too, and thank heavens we both operate in this same space, but please don’t speak to me until the sweet nectar of a cup of coffee has touched my lips.  I really won’t have anything nice to say until after that point.  I’m sorry to say, but this is probably also partially responsible for my propensity to walk around with a toothbrush in my mouth for lots of minutes.  I’m not vigorously brushing the entire time per say, but more of a “soak” in toothpaste scenario.  I think somewhere along the way, I have become convinced that if I soak my teeth in toothpaste while I brush for a long time, that top right incisor that is horribly stained from coffee consumption might magically whiten.  I’m still waiting on that glorious day.

You should also know that I prefer to shower at night, I wear Christmas pajama pants year round, and there is a strong possibility that I will not wash my hair but once during the entire 5 days that you and I will be together.  I will however use a gallon of dry shampoo, lots of deodorant, and a few spritzes of perfume.

I might wear these boots the entire time…

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But I haven’t decided yet for sure.  I might get crazy and throw in a pair of heals just once.  But let’s be honest, I haven’t thought much about what I’m wearing beyond those boots.  Because really, with boots like those, does anyone even notice if I rock a bathrobe the whole time?

But mostly Sarah Mae, I’m excited to be doing this thing with you.  And despite being grumpy before coffee or clad in bathrobes and boots, I’m excited to spend time with you my friend.  And because I’m a gifter, I’ll probably bring you a present…because that’s how I roll.  And I know you’ll bring the chocolate.

And one last thing you should know…which you already do…when I get nervous (and I WILL before I stand up in front of 450 women I deeply care about,) I am gonna need you to hold my hand in our room and pray with me.  If I mess something up, or say the wrong thing, or something doesn’t happen the way I’d hoped, I need you to grab my face and remind me that there is grace for that and that Allume is a place of love and community and grace….lots and lots of grace…even for those of us running it.

I’m excited, and nervous, and anticipating the things that the Lord is going to do during this time with us all!  I can’t wait to see you and to get knee-deep into the Kingdom of God with you and all of our sisters at Allume!

Love your guts,

Logan

 

Give Hope

There are times when things happen in life and we are left feeling paralyzed by loss.

Loss of life that can never be replaced, and we grieve together and we pray, and we do all that we can to help.

Last night I received an alarming email from one of our Allume partners (and now also one of my friends) Kristi Griem, with Freeset.   Here’s what it said….

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Local Non-Profit Affected By UPS Cargo Plane Crash in Birmingham, AL

Freeset USA, a non-profit business, lost over 13,000 bags, with a retail value of $150,000, in this morning’s plane crash in Birmingham, AL. Freeset USA represents Freeset Bags & Apparel, a fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Calcultta, India’s sex trade. The products were a complete loss and represented an entire fall inventory for online sales, fair trade stores, and conference events.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with the families of the pilots that passed away in this tragedy,” says Kristi Griem, President of Freeset USA. “We seek to honor them and their families in the face of this loss. We also are thinking about the women at Freeset, whose lives will be impacted from the loss of these bags, as it represents three months of work of our 200 staff and we have lost the bags sales that represent the wages we would have sent for them to be paid.”

Freeset is in business for freedom. Freedom from human trafficking. Freeset is a fair trade business and ministry that sells bags and t-shirts, made by women freed from human trafficking in Calcutta, India. The women are able to have a job with dignity, making products, instead of being the product. Every woman receives three times the wage they would receive in a regular job, learn to read and write, daycare for their children, have medical insurance and retirement benefits. Women were tricked, trapped, or traded and find themselves seemingly without a choice. Our goal is to change the economic scope of Sonagacchi, Calcutta’s largest red light district, to one of freedom, instead of the sex trade. Because Freeset is a fair trade business a simple ‘re order’ is not possible. The women are paid fair wages for their work and we are not a mass-producing, slave labor force.

First off, I stopped and prayed for the lives lost.  Then I emailed Kristi back and prayed over her and over Freeset in the email. And then I sat here for about 5 minutes and thought, well….let’s just rally the troops.

And who are the troops you might ask?

Everyone I know.  And everyone you know.  And everyone they know too.  And then probably those other people they know as well.

We have set up a Pure Charity account on behalf of Freeset so that we can “buy back” all of the lost bags.  The total loss in sales is $150,000.  And it’s not about bags lost, it’s about the 200 lives of people offered hope and freedom through Freeset who invested over 3 months to make them, it’s people who’s lives have been changed from making these bags.  It’s for rescue, and new life, and promise and hope. It’s a really big deal, and a big number to try and hit….but God is so much bigger.  And He cares about life and livlihood and companies like Freeset who rescue and offer new life!

Freeset has a bag amongst their awesome collection called the Hope Bag.

So won’t you join us to “Give Hope” to Freeset!

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But instead of popping over to actually buy a bag that will be sent to you in the mail, we’re gonna buy back the bags that were lost in the plane crash in Birmingham and ensure that the 200 workers’ families in India won’t feel the loss. Ever.

The Hope Bag retails for $25, so while the truth is that any donation is awesome, it’d be super swell if you’d really “buy a bag” (a whole bag instead of just say, a handle of a bag)  and donate a full $25 to replace a lost bag.  Or buy lots of lost bags in $25 increments.  Or buy a lost bag, and then hop over to Freeset’s site and buy a bag that will actually be sent to you in the mail too.

Really, I just think that we can use our voices for good…and when we all shout for Freedom and Justice and Hope at once…people hear, and I think they’ll even hear us shouting on their behalf all the way in India.

The Influence Network, The Declare Conference, and several of our Allume speakers and friends are joining us as we speak life over all of these families affected by the plane crash and do what we can to continue Freeset’s ability to continue operations and offer life-giving jobs to these women moving forward.  So join us? Let’s make a difference?  Let’s be abundance where there could be loss?!  Let’s show the world that the people of Jesus are full of love and full of world-changers.

Buy back a lost bag from Freeset, and give hope to families in India!

Can’t see the link? Hop over HERE to Pure Charity’s Give Hope site.

And please, PLEASE continue to pray for the families who lost loved ones, the pilots of the UPS cargo plane that crashed.  We can’t bring them back, but we can lift them up before Heaven and make a difference for the people still living who are affected by this tragedy.  If you would like to join Freeset who is also leading a charge to donate to the pilots’ families, you can go HERE to be a part of that effort as well.

 

Important Allume Hotel Information

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Hello lovely Allume friends!

We wanted to touch base with you to let you know a bit of news surrounding this year’s conference!

You know how sometimes at church (especially on Christmas and Easter), the pastor will ask everyone to slide to the middle to make room for people coming in?  Well, we’re kinda having a bit of one of those moments right now with Allume.  Don’t freak out, we have some alternatives set up, but if you’re maybe looking to cut down costs or make new friends this year, we’re gonna ask you to slide over to make some room as well….in your bed! :-)

Unbeknownst to us, US Cycling Team member, George Hincapie, is hosting a big ol cycling shindig in Greenville the same weekend as Allume.  And because I’m not a cycling enthusiast, honestly I had no idea that so many people in the world are so enthusiastic about cycling!  But let me tell you….there are ALOT of people excited about cycling, and apparently about George too!  And, because of this cycling excitement coming to Greenville, lots of enthusiasts are coming as well.

Which means for Allume… that our hotel block is sold out!  In fact, our entire hotel is now sold out.

But never fear….we have a rapidly created back-up plan!  2 doors down from the Hyatt (our official conference location) is a very lovely Holiday Inn Express which has opened up a block of rooms for our conference.  So if you’re not quite to the point of scooting over in your bed, or asking someone else to scoot over, you can book at the Holiday Inn.  I’m gonna be honest and say, there may be more enthusiasts descending on our lovely town, so don’t delay in figuring out where (or who) your’e bunking with for the conference in October!

If you want to find roommates, the pop on over to our Allume Facebook page, or ask around on Twitter using the #Allume hashtag!

To book with the Holiday Inn, use the code “ALL” when making reservations in order to receive the $159 rate and be included in our Allume block.  The number for the Holiday Inn Express is  864.678.8000. (**as of 8/2/13, the Holiday Inn is now sold out as well.**)

Can’t wait to see you all in October!  And if this hotel fills up too, then know we might really, REALLY, ask you to scoot over and make some room! And if it makes you feel any better, I’ll be snuggling up to Sarah Mae and crossing my fingers that she doesn’t snore!  We’re not asking you to do anything that we’re unwilling to do ourselves!  And just think of the fast friends you will make!

**So ladies… we’re to that point now. The SOS (Scoot Over Some) moment has arrived!  If you already have a room booked and are willing to share (pretty please?!) then please email our fabulous team member, Janelle Miller at QueenOfTheHouseOfBoys @ gmail dot com or tweet her at @jjxrmill to let her know how many extra ladies your room can accomodate.  If you’re looking for a room, then please let Janelle know that too so that we can find a room for you.  We are working hard to help everyone find a spot, but we need your help.  And honestly friends, we need your generosity and your grace.  Amongst the number of rooms we blocked, there is PLENTY of room for everyone, but we just need to snuggle up and take Allume from Exciting-Conference to Exciting-Conference-with-Massive-Slumber-Party status!

Looking forward to our time together!

Logan and the Allume Team

Sometimes We Will Say Crap

I’m about to go rogue here… writing on the Allume blog out of order, but here goes.

One of our dear Allume contributors messaged me the other day and said she’d written the word “crap” in her post and wondered if she’d be allowed to post it.  Of course, she said she could change the word with no real ill effect to her post, but she asked about it nonetheless.  It set off a few comments and emails with thoughts to either side of use or avoidance, and I’ve been left thinking about it all for 4 days now.

And here’s what I have to say about it.  Take it as a thought, or maybe even I’ll be so bold as to use the word manifesto.  But here’s where I stand, and here’s the place I’m going to ask the Allume community to accept.

Sometimes we will just say “crap” here.  And sometimes we won’t.  And I won’t judge any single person for whichever route they feel is the one for them, and I’m going to be so bold as to ask you not to judge on either side of the coin as well.

As a community, we are a melting pot of personalities.  And that is the beauty of this space.  This is who we are…and we are real.  We do life in real life just as we do it for the world to see on the Allume blog…and there is grace, and we accept people as they are…as they come….crap and all.  I want there to be freedom here to have people express themselves, their stories, and God in their stories, and to know that this is a place the gives grace and love and doesn’t hold up any sort of “holier than thou” standard.  We all fall short…and not a one of us is deserving of the grace we’ve been given.

No don’t go freaking out that we’re going to start having spouts of profanity all over the place here, but do know that this is a place of grace and truth and sisterhood.  And if you happen to be the saint who’s never even muttered an ugly thought or word under your breath, please volunteer to guest post or something, because we all need to know your secret to success in perfection!

The truth is though that sometimes life doles us what may feel like crap.  Or some days you may feel like crap.  And that’s just real life.  But here’s the thing…and even Paul said it in Philippians 3:8-10 that …

All the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

It’s all crap compared to the life and righteousness we have in Christ.  And the righteousness you have isn’t given to you because your speech is always flowery… or your life for that matter.  There is room in the Kingdom for people who say crap (or even worse)…and there’s room in the Kingdom for the people who’d never dare to even spell out the word on paper or in a blog post.  There was room at Jesus’ table for his disciples and tax collectors and prostitutes.  And there’s room at this Allume table for all of us too.  He is better than all of it.  He redeems all of it.  And He doesn’t exclude any of us, like it or not. Whatever it is that you’re coming here to get…know that it’s not changing.  But know that this place is a place for “Real Light Living”… and in order to be real, sometimes we just might say crap.

Allume Meet-Ups

Hello lovely Allume friends!

We’ve noticed over the past few years that Allume serves as a great place for online groups to be able to gather together in person, and this year, we’d like to help you guys schedule your meet-ups.   We also want to ask your groups to honor the fact that we’ve spent a year putting together a stellar agenda for you, and ask that you plan meet-ups during the free times within the conference.

This year, we have a couple of multi-use rooms reserved where we can help schedule larger meet-ups, and we will also reserve some meet-up space during select meals, but if you want space reserved for you, you MUST let us know by October 1, so that we can help you work through it all.  Below we have an online form for you to fill out so that we can appropriately place your groups.  For example, the MOB Society may have 40 of you gathering, and we want to make sure that you have ample space to meet, and can reserve a room.  If you’re a part of say, the Christian Vegan and Gluten-Free Daughters of the American Revolution group, we would probably have an easier time sitting you all together at a meal since there will only be perhaps 5 of you.  Get where we’re going with this?  We want to help you have your meet-up and make sense of the space you use as well.  So, figure out who is your main contact gal, and have her reserve the meet-up space for you. (We don’t need to have all 40 MOB Society gals reserving for the 1 group.)

There is plenty of later night free time each night from 10pm on that is a great time to schedule meetups as well .  (Let’s be honest here, we all know that sleep is something that you can try to get more of at home when you’re not gathering with friends from all over the country.)  Also, Saturday afternoon has a chunk of time where we will schedule meetups after the Impact Opportunities.  If your group prefers to hop down the street to a coffee shop or cafe for your meet-up (there are TONS within walking distance of the hotel), then we just want to ask you to please honor our agenda and not pull people away from sessions that have been planned for you.

So, to recap. If you want to have a meet-up at Allume,  please have your group leader fill out THIS FORM and submit to us by October 1.  Prime space will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. If you want to go off property for your meet-up, please just plan it during free time, and not during the official sessions.

We’re excited for this fall and all that God has in store for our community and the conference!  We look forward to seeing you all and helping to make this year’s Allume the best one yet!

Love,

Logan, Sarah Mae, and the Allume Team

If you have questions about this, and have already filled out the meet-up form, you can email our Production Manager, Nasreen at nfynewever at gmail dot com.

An Opportunity for Blessing

 

Dear Allume family,

Today’s post is really more of an announcement for you to know, and also an invitation for you to sow into one of our own. I’m writing primarily to let you know of an organizational change that has been made within Allume.  Because we want to honor you, our community, we felt that it was important to let you know rather than to just let you wonder or speculate. We also appreciate your prayers over our team and over the conference.

Jessica

We would like to honor Jessica Heights and the role that she has played within Allume over the past 3 years.  She is one of the 3 original co-founders of the conference, and as we all have come to know her more and love her over the years, it is widely recognized that she has been a smiling face and welcoming presence at each year’s conference.  Many even say she has been Allume’s very own Miss Congeniality.

In order to focus more fully on personal matters outside of the conference, Jessica is moving away from her responsibilities and roles within Allume and the Conference.  The hole she leaves is great, and we ask that you would join us in honoring her, praying for her, and encouraging her.

Please know that we love Jessica, and are all in agreement that this is best for her and for the conference.  This is not something we expect the community to take lightly, and in order to honor Jessica, we would like to ask that as a community, we join together to speak blessing over her and not pry into her personal matters. Please be in prayer for us as we move forward as I’m sure you can know that she leaves quite a hole.

If you have been impacted by Jessica in any way over the years, we’d love to bless her with a slew of encouraging words and scriptures in the comments section below.  Thanks friends for your love and support of Allume and your kind words over our sweet friend.  We are so grateful for your contribution to this conference, the community, and most importantly to the Kingdom.

Loads of blessings on you each,
Logan and Sarah Mae

Drumroll….The 2013 Agenda!

 

Did you see it?!  The 2013 Allume Agenda?!

Ok…if not, you must immediately click HERE  to open the full 2013 Agenda in another window so that you can peruse it in just a minute!

But first, I just need you to know why I, for one, am doing the happy dance!

It’d take me 45 minutes talking fast to cast the whole vision (and you’ll get some of that at Allume in the flesh) but for now, just know that God has been working in a chill-bumps-inducing way over the past several months.

A few months ago, the Lord gave me a picture of an underground river.  It was bubbling and moving forward…yet, it was underground.  And then suddenly the river came into the open.  It broke through rock and earth and spilt forth…moving fast and branching off to cover all over the earth.  And then I saw a bright light…and it was a line that was just positioned at the cross-section where the river left the underground and came into the light of day…and the Lord said…”this space, this place where the bubbling bursts forth into the earth…this is Allume.

River Emerging from Underground

Every time I recount the picture and the words… I cry.  God is moving friends.  He’s moving in each of you now, and he’s moving in what he’s planning to accomplish at Allume.  And when we all collide together in the same time and space, the work that He is doing, and the work that He will release is like a mighty rushing river of Kingdom awesomeness.  It makes me excited.  It gives me chills.

I’m excited about the things you see in the agenda listed with times and dates and titles, but the thing I’m most excited to see is what God does in the in betweens too.  I’m excited to see the way he weaves the words of the keynotes, and teaches and inspires you with session speakers.  I’m elated to watch you all connect and love one another in that special way that it happens at Allume.  I’m blessed to have not just reached out to compile a list of speakers, but to have been building relationships with these Kingdom of Heaven World Changers, and I can tell you with every bone in my being, that the words the Lord gave to Sarah Mae, Jessica, and I back in November are coming to fruition.

 “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert…for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” –  Isaiah 43:19-21

Our dear friend, Ann Voskamp, will bring a fresh word, as only she can, and open our hearts on opening night.  Melanie Shankle will make us laugh til we cry, and cry til we laugh just before Jennie Allen moves us with truth and life and reminds us how ‘faith is the is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Bianca will arrest us with passion, and Jeff will move us to live bigger and more authentically than we’d ever dreamed.

Our incredible sponsors will pour into you and help show ways that you too can pour out.

Our hope and prayer is that your time at Allume will equip you, empower you, refresh and refuel you, so that you can leave and walk taller into the callings that God has for you (and for your blog.)

We invite you to come spend time with us for a weekend of life, and friendship, community, and awakening.  We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us all!

So now, if you haven’t yet looked at the whole incredible lineup yet, go….HERE!

And if you still need to snag your ticket, go HERE!

All our love,

Logan, Sarah Mae, and Jessica

Image Source

Fields of Faith

 ship in harbor

I’m in a season of some hard things right now.  Big things…hitting my closest group of friends.  We’re dealing with a lot of loss, a lot of tossing waves, a lot of hard questions.  It’s not an easy time in my personal close sphere.  But I am so thankful for this group of people that I do life with.  They are exactly who I’d choose to have around me to weather storms.

Thankfully also, I know God is a bigger picture kind of guy.  So I’m doing what I can to stay close to his heart …to hopefully, eventually, peer through the periscope that has a fuller view of the world above the waves.

I keep thinking on something that the Lord showed me when I was in Bangladesh via a word for a friend.

One day in a village with the Food for the Hungry staff, we did a devotion and read these verses in Matthew 8.

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” 

My friend, Daniel, and I talked afterwards and he said how he loved that in these verses this time, the Lord showed him that our faith will bring about peace and calm.

My response… “and the good news is that for us, it only takes a mustard seed of faith to even move mountains.”

“I want more faith,” he said.

“Yeah, so do I.”

And along a walk back from meeting my sponsored child with Food for the Hungry, we came across a field of green plants with beautiful yellow flowers.

mustard field

“What kinds of flowers are those?” I asked our translator.

“Oh those?  Those are just mustard plants.”

I ran over to a plant and broke off a pod.  I’ve never seen mustard growing before.  Surely these pods are where the seeds are?  Is this even the kind of mustard I’m thinking of?  The kind we grind into paste and eventually mix with vinegar to put on a hot dog at home?  The same kind that reminds us that just one tiny seed is all the faith we need to move entire mountains?  Or is Bangladeshi mustard something different?

mustard hand

I opened the pod to find probably 30 tiny seeds.  Just one pod with 30 seeds?!

If all it takes is 1 seed to move mountains, then here we stood with a pod of 30 seeds in our hands.  And before us spanned a field with tens of thousands of pods on thousands of mustard plants.

It wasn’t lost on me that we’d just asked the Lord for more faith just a few hours before.  And here we stood with fields full of faith stretched before us.

I emailed Daniel later and said, “All it takes is one mustard seed, but today God gave you a whole field.  I think that whatever mountains in your life you’re wanting to move, you’re going to be able to move them.”

And I find myself thinking on the same thing now as the seas of this life are rough, and I need the faith to see them calmed.

“Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20

Afterall, the Lord let me see that field too.

The truth is, he has fields of his faithfulness around the bend for all of us.  I wonder though, are we looking for them?  Are we recognizing them for what they are when we stumble across them?

Open our Eyes Father to see with your eyes.  Open our eyes to see above the storms, and through the waves, to the beauty that you have for us.  Give us greater faith, but let us not be discouraged that our grain of faith may seem small to us…afterall, you pack a lot of punch in one tiny grain.  We love you Jesus, and we want more of you.

**What storms has the Lord calmed for you lately?  When has he increased your faith to see them calmed?  And when was the last time you asked the Lord for something and instead of just giving you even the blessing of a double portion, he unveiled a whole field of his goodness before you?  Share with the community in the comments below?  We’d love to hear how he’s calming storms and moving mountains in your life.

Ship Printable Source, Photographs by Daniel C. White

 

Get Real….

Well friends, I’ve done it again…I’ve bitten off more than I should chew at once!  I mean, I’m chewing on all the life that I have stuffed in my mouth right now, but it’s one of those kind of bites where there’s too much meat, so you chew and chew and chew…like a cow regurgitating it’s cud because one time down just isn’t thorough enough.

Amidst planning Allume 2013, hosting over 100 people at my home this past Friday for a Christmas party, preparing to head to Bangladesh with Food for the Hungry in a month, and being wife and mommy (which alone are a mouthful to chew), we’ve just put our house on the market in hopes of moving just 2 doors down.  It’s a lot…and it’s all during this holiday season full of general hustle and bustle anyhow.

But you know what is interesting to me in the mess of all this craziness?….Somehow in all the chaos, I actually haven’t lost sight of my Jesus.  And the fact that he came as a teeny tiny baby and landed in the midst of a world full of more chaos, has brought me peace in the moments that I steal away.

I’ve been wondering what it is that has kept all of these distractions in my life from actually truly distracting me from the Lord lately.  And I think that I’ve realized that I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m just in such constant communication with my heavenly daddy, that I just haven’t lost sight of him.  He’s just here. He’s just real.  And, I remember Ann Voskamp said, in a wonderful illustration at Allume, that we’ll know we’ve gone too far when we can no longer hear his voice.  He’s the reason that all this stuff in my life is happening anyhow, so I guess I find myself talking it through with him on a regular basis.  His voice is right here beside me.  

And lately, I’ve found myself lingering on and enjoying the thoughts of my Jesus as that tiny baby in a manger, and the hard journey that his mom and dad had to make, on a donkey, to a far away land, just to be counted.  

Isn’t it true that we all often embark on journeys in life sometimes just to be counted?  But what if, like with Mary and Joseph, in the midst of heading on our way to make our mark in the world, the God of heaven shows up to us in the fullness of gentleness and purity…in an unexpected place?  What if, on our way to matter, on our way to count, the King of heaven and earth descends and is born to us in new ways?  What if in this time and place….he goes from being the God of heaven…to the in-the-flesh, prince of the earth in our own lives?  What if… on our journey to matter, instead of seeing a God who’s high up in the sky…we meet the real Jesus?

“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. 

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”― Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit

There’s beauty in what is real.  There’s beauty found in a dirty stable with smelly animals and a tiny soft baby in a manger.  There’s beauty there because it’s real.  Most of us can’t relate to the lavish life of a prince or princess.  But we can relate to the dirt and muck of real life.  And it’s that real life that our Savior chose to invade.  He entered this world in the harsh reality of a cave full of animals, and it’s STILL true of him that he intersects with us in the midst of our muck.  Once he’s real to us….He can’t become unreal again.  And once we’re real with him, we begin to see that we can’t be ugly to him because he understands.  And…it lasts for always.

“It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real”

What if friends, this Christmas season more than ever, we let Jesus become real to us?  And what if, we allow ourselves to become real  with him as well?

 *Image credit: The Velveteen Rabbit

Go Fish

So, Allume has passed, and I’m still finding myself pondering some of the same things that the Lord has had me pondering for months now. Much of it, I shared in my session at Allume on Blogging as Discipleship.  I’m going to share a few snippits from that session below, but if you want the full on thing (complete with Monty Python impersonation) then you can download my session, along with the whole bundle of almost 30 other incredible speaker sessions HERE!

*          *          *

I’ve always been a people person. I am an extrovert if there ever was one, but I think the proverbial “lights came on” in my mind when I realized something years ago about myself.

I love a good party. I love to plan them to the enth degree….to decorate…to create atmospheres and environments where people can just come and have a good time.

Christmas Decor

I’ve been decorating for Christmas, as I’m sure many of you have been as well.  We’ll host a Christmas party this year at my home again, and so the decorating gets amped up a notch.  It’s even more fun to go to great lengths when you get to share it with others.  But… as much as I love to create and prepare, in the end…none of that matters to me as much as the people who walk into my home. When the first person walks through my door, worrying about the environment is done…and the people are what’s important to me.

And my blog needs to be the same way….

The blog has to be about the people reading. And whether we have 50 followers of 500,000, we ALL have the opportunity to impact lives.

When we blog, most of us all have little buttons on the side somewhere for all the myriad ways that people can follow us. They can follow us on Pinterest and see what we think is beautiful or interesting. They can follow us on Twitter for little snippits or links to what is going on with us in 140 characters or less. They can follow on Facebook, or subscribe to receive our posts in their email. We welcome “followers,” and sometimes it can even be easy to get hung up on if we have enough of them or not.  A disciple is by definition “a follower…a pupil of a teacher.”  But my question to you, and to myself is, “What are we asking people to follow?”

Jesus said in Mark 1:17, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” So if we’re following Jesus, wouldn’t it be fair to assume that our blogs would reflect that somehow?

I’m not saying that means we should all write devotional or spiritual blogs all the time either. Some people are gifted to be able to do that all the time, but some of us are called to make disciples other ways too.  

They say that people are the happiest when they’re giving themselves away. So I want to encourage you to give of yourself from your areas of giftedness. Give of your talents, and your passions, your wisdom, and your struggle….give them all to the glory of the King. Invite people into your journey…into your creativity….into your elements. Chances are if you’re blogging, you’ve got a few followers….and whether you realize it or not, you are making disciples.  We have the privilege of sharing our journeys, our daily living, the funny, the mundane, the beautiful, and even the hard….all to the glory of our King.

Our lives tell our stories, and I believe that the world needs to see what authentic journeys with a loving God look like. The journey is the guts of a story and what makes the testimony in the end hold weight.  It’s following one story that starts in the hard of here and ends in the peace of there. And the thing I’ve realized is that what God does in one life…in one journey, he can do in thousands.

We write. And we have a voice that has the capacity to reach farther than voices have been able to travel in all of history.  And, there are hungry people out there. People are hungry for authenticity, but not just a boldness without a filter….people are hungry for what is real. People are hungry for a journey that leads them to peace and truth in the end.  

Jesus himself said “Follow me..and I will make you fishers of men.” People are following….so the question then is “Where are we leading them?”  And if somehow in the end, they don’t catch a glimpse of what it means to be discipled….to be led in love….then what are we doing?

My dear friend Kristen Schell said to me in a conversation before Allume when we were talking about fishing for men, that “the call is to be fishers…the Lord will provide the catch.” We are simply a conduit ya’ll. The glory is to the Lord and so is the haul.   The question is, will we drop our nets?  

Fishing boat

 

Image Sources: 1)My living room from www.LifeforDessert.com, 2) Fishing Boat on Flickr

Make Way…

A Lonely Walk to the Ocean
I was on a phone call the other day with a wise new friend.  Somehow in the conversation, my friend brought up the words from Psalm 77 about how the Lord makes a way where there was none.

I’ve been thinking about those words quite a bit since.  That day even, I knew I had more to chew on with those words…the reminder that God doesn’t need a way that makes sense or is obvious to get us where he wants us to go.

For some reason I ended up reading through some old devotions and came across this one, written just a few days after we lost our baby, Fisher, in March of this year.

Then, there it was…Psalm 77, staring back at me…not fully copied and pasted within the margins of that post.  Verses 1-15 shared.  A lament to the Lord.  Words like “weary, rejected, disturbed, faint, and forgotten” speckled throughout the psalm that spoke to my soul in such relatability.  I got it.  I felt that way.  And I found comfort too in remembering that Jesus had felt that way on the cross as well.

As I read back through though, I realized that the part I’d shared, through verse 15, was so applicable to me at that time, I managed to overlook the rest of the psalm somehow in my grief.  I saw the promise of the Lord in verses 11-15, the reminder that God is a redeemer, that he works wonders and is good, but I missed part….until just the other day.

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph.

Psalm 77:11-15

It wasn’t until my friend mentioned it, that I went back and spent some time with the rest of that psalm…

“Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
Psalm 77:19-20

Here I am now, 8 months later, realizing that God parted waters and made a way where it seemed that there wasn’t one.  I came to the edge of a vast ocean, hemmed in by the life chasing hard behind me…my own version of a vengeful Egypt hot on my trail…threatening to overtake me if I didn’t keep moving.  So I did….I kept moving….towards an ocean of impossibility.  Putting one foot in front of the other, worrying about just the next step I had to make…I crossed over.

Here’s what I wrote to my friend after the Lord revealed this all to me last week:

“I’m on the other side of that ocean now…and He’s closing those parted waters back over.  I see how I got here, but I can’t go back there to the other side again.  I see how his promises have made a way where there shouldn’t have logically been one, and now when I look back, I see that other side, but in between it’s filled in with his goodness.”

And I want to remind you my friends….that He makes a way.  He makes new ways.  He creates dry paths across vast oceans and rivers, walkways through deserts, and He forms rivers through droughtlands.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
-Isaiah 43:19

And those ways that he makes….they are better.  Because if I’d been Moses, I’d have hit the edge of that water and panicked.  I’d have looked around the dry desert and wondered how I’d fashion enough rafts for tens of thousands of people to cross an entire sea.  And I would have thought to myself that by all reason, sometimes there just isn’t a way.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
– Matt 10:27

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Psalm 16:11

But, there is friends….with God, there is always a way.  Sometimes, we just have to take the steps forward into the “impossible” to walk on dry land.  Then, at some point in our journey, we’ll look back and realized that we crossed over a place where there wasn’t a way that we could see, and God has covered that place back over with his goodness and mercy.

Photo Credit: A Lonely Walk to the Ocean

Allume Is About To Become A Force For Real LIGHT Living

Get Ready.

Storm clouds in Arches National Park

The #Allume Conference is about to become a force for real Light living.

#wearethunder #anewthing

 

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; 

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? 

I will make a way in the wilderness 

and rivers in the desert. “

Isaiah 43:19

.   .   .

Photo Credit: Storm Clouds In Arches National Park

Shalom at the Gates

I just have to share a really phenomenal thought that I recently heard.  It’s been rocking my world since I heard it…in a super-awesome-holy-spirit-infused sort of way.  I’m gonna make it short and sweet today, and let the word of God just do it’s thing.

In ancient cultures, the city gate was the place where pretty much anything of importance happened.  Most all cities had a wall around them that protected those within and kept the outsiders out.  So, the gate really became a hub of activity. Outside of the gates was where the sick were laid out.  Trials and stonings took place at the gates.  The elders of the city would meet at the gates. Commerce happened at the gates.  The gates were the heartbeat of the city.  Full of life, but also chaotic with so much going on all around.

The city gate is where the culture addressed the chaos of its people.*

The gate was a place that was anything but peaceful….anything but shalom.

The Hebrew word shalom (šālôm) is defined as a state of wholeness and security embracing both the physical and spiritual dimensions and relating not only to the individual, but also to entire communities and relationships among persons. **

The gates and culture were chaos, but then….then, friends, came Jesus.

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jn 10:9–10

If the gate is the place where the culture addressed the chaos of its people, and Jesus came as the gate….then where there was chaos, we now know peace. 

And not only that…but where there is chaos, He asks us to bring that peace in his name.  We represent the Kingdom of Heaven wherever we go.  And where we go, we bring Jesus.  We carry His perfect shalom and can bring that peace into any chaos around us.  Thy Kingdom come…thy will be done…ON EARTH as it is in heaven.

So bring it friends….bring that peace with you.  Let’s address the chaos of our culture with the shalom of a Savior.

* Quote by Rich Butler, **reference, The Eerdmans Bible dictionary, Photo Credit: Bogle Photography

Lose the Fork…and Be The Part You Were Created To Be!

Friends,

Allume is done!  And oh my words was it fun!!!  I am truly humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve all of you, to laugh with you, to eat and fellowship with you, and to encourage the things that the Lord is doing within this community!  Oh MY WORDS….I am beyond blessed to be a part of this incredible event and group of women.

I totally meant to have this post up last night or first, first thing this morning, but let’s be honest….I was so stinking tired and I’m just kinda banking on a little bit of grace from you all!

I don’t have a single picture from the entire weekend either….so our lovely picture above is from a completely impromptu word the Lord gave me during my breakout session.  Don’t ever underestimate the power of God to use even Monty Python for his glory!  And for those of you who missed the reference (and thankfully for me….the live impersonation of it), here’s what I want to say to each of you:

We are all parts of one body, and if we don’t operate out of the giftings that the Lord has given to each of us….then we become a useless trunk of a body….paralyzed by ineffectiveness at the job we’ve been called to do as a whole.  This is a community chocked full of phenomenal giftedness in different areas, and I couldn’t be more proud or excited to see how our Father will use our time together this past weekend to impact the world!

So a few fun takeaways that really stuck with me….

Grow your passions, and that will grow your blog.

Live your real life, not just your virtual online one…

You’re not just generating followers….you’re making disciples.

Get low and let your brokenness heal you.

And always….ALWAYS….eat your mudcake without a fork!

Love you all!

You can link-up your Allume posts here!

The Power of Hospitality

Friends, Allume is less than a week away, and I am SO looking forward to seeing so many of you!  Please…run up and tackle me with hugs!  I promise I won’t think it’s weird!

Sarah Mae very generously dubbed me the Allume “hospitality artist” months ago.  As we’ve all been working on various parts of the conference, and my job is particularly hospitality oriented, I thought I would share with you all what hospitality means to me…and more importantly, what I believe it means to Jesus.

I could honestly go on and on about biblical hospitality, and in fact have enough notes and research to lead an entire study on it.  I’ll spare you the months worth of info for now though and tell you this:

Hospitality isn’t just a spiritual gift given to some.  It’s more than being able to throw a fabulous party too.  True biblical hospitality is a demonstration of love for others.  And before you say you aren’t good at it…you should probably note that it’s pretty much a requirement for all believers.  We “practice” hospitality because we can always improve upon loving others well.

In case you were wondering, the word hospitality comes from the Greek word philoxenia which means, “Love of strangers.”

I love the verses in Hebrews 13:1-2 that say “Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  Perhaps as exciting to me as the idea of literally entertaining angels is the phrase, “let brotherly love continue.”  Part of the way we show hospitality is just to continue to love one another!

All throughout the gospels we see examples of Jesus and the disciples coming into a city and being “received” into the homes of the believers there.  And then there’s the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10…one woman all heart, and one hyper-disciplined…exemplifying that our hospitality should be a combination of service, loving, and giving of ourselves to one another.

Romans 12:10-13 says, ” Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

One of my most favorite passages regarding what it means to be hospitable is in Acts 28.  Paul lands at Malta when he is blown off course in one of his missionary journeys.  The natives welcome him, and a man named Publius entertains him for 3 days in his home.  It even says that the natives showed “unusual kindness.”  It just so happened that Publius’ father was sick with dysentery and so while he was there, Paul visited him and prayed for his healing.  The Lord healed him, and then the rest of the people on the entire island who were sick came and were also healed.  When Paul left Malta, they supplied everything he could possibly need for the rest of his journey.

Did you get that?!  Random unexpected guests get welcomed in…and for THREE days at that?!  Before Paul’s time there is done, an entire island’s worth of sick are healed.  And… the biggest thing that the Lord has continued to impress upon me, is that when we usher in an atmosphere of hospitality, the Lord is pleased and we suddenly see Him show up in power.  We honor the Father when we honor one another, and as a result, he breaks out unexpected blessing right back onto us!

So here’s what I want to say about all of this hospitality in regards to Allume.  We’ve all been working our little tookis’ off to make sure that the upcoming conference is fantastic.  We’ve crafted, and dreamed, and created things to make the environment lovely.  The meals have been carefully selected to be delish (and will actually include some green vegetables this year)!  The space is well thought through, the gift bags delightful, and the i’s have been dotted and the t’s crossed.  But once we’re all there….let me say that those preparations and details will take a back seat to the fact that all of your lovely faces will be filing through the doors.  Because loving people is what true hospitality is about.

So don’t be surprised when the presence of the Lord descends in a mighty way as you are ushered into the conference.  Expect to be loved on, and expect to be blessed.  And just as Paul was refreshed from his time spent receiving the hospitality of Philemon (in Philemon 4-7), so we pray that you will be refreshed from your time at Allume.  And so friends, it is our desire that our time together at Allume will be marked by true biblical hospitality….of loving well both strangers and friends.

See you soon!

Photo Credit

Food Facts and Dietary Info Needed!

Oh my word!  It’s a month away!  Allume is a month away!  Also known as get-your-butt-in-high-gear time!

This year, I’m excited to announce that among all things wonderfully, fabulously Allume, the food is going to be great!  Or at least, the menus are thus far!  We’ve received some questions regarding food allergies and preferences and I wanted to take a sec to address those questions and concerns.

We will be doing our best to accomodate food allergies and preferences.  Now, if you’re just plain picky, I’m gonna say…you should be able to find things you will like, but if you don’t eat meat or fruit or veggies or rice or grains….I have no clue what to ask the hotel what to fix for you.  Should you find yourself though among those who may be gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, or nut allergic, we need to know who you are to make sure we take good care of you.  If you have other food issues that we need to address, please let us know those as well.

Because we need to give the hotel advance notice for menu planning (as well as keeping track of it ourselves), we’re going to give you until midnight on Friday October 5th to inform us of your food needs.  Send an email to Christin at allume dot com detailing your dietary restrictions.  Please include clear language if you are dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, or vegetarian so that we can easily put you into some categories and serve you well.  If you do not get us the information by midnight on the 5th, I make no guarantees regarding your food situation.  Basically, in the words of Jerry McGuire….”Help me, help you!”  Get us the info we need, and we’ll work hard to get you the food that you need!

If you think you may be hungry outside of mealtimes and have dietary restrictions, I’d suggest bringing a few snacks to keep around as well. 

And once we’re all happily congregating and hanging out at Allume, if you have food questions, concerns, complaints, whatever….I’m your girl.  So….problems about food…talk to Logan.  Concerns with food….talk to Logan.  Questions about the food….talk to Logan.  Raves about the fact that there will be plenty of green vegetables and no ginormous piles of dry shaved beef…you can bring those to me too!

So remember, dietary info to Christin at allume dot com by midnight on Friday, Oct 5th!  Look forward to seeing you all at Allume!

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Timeless

I just spent an entire week in Colorado for some counseling.  After a few hard losses, my husband and I realized that it could only do us good to spend some time and money investing more deeply into ourselves and our relationship.  It was phenomenal.  And that word, I’ll tell you, is an understatement.

While we were there, we were reacquainted with a concept that I’ve understood before, but the Lord really impressed upon me the importance of both employing more in my own life and also to share with you all as well.

It’s called “heart prayer” and it is the most healing and gentle way of seeking the Lord for things we may need to see or understand better.

The fact of the matter is that we all experience hurts in our lives.  And if we’re honest, most of the time, a person who hurt us isn’t the one who can fix what’s been broken either.  Sure people can apologize, and that may help…but really, there are times when we know we’ll never likely see an apology.  There are times too where it’s not a person, but a circumstance that brings pain.  Our Father is the one who wants to heal those places….he’s the only one who really can.

But Lord, where were you when______________?!  How could you leave me when I was _______________?! 

It’s so easy for us to think that maybe the Lord was some distant bystander to our lives sometimes….you know, those times when he seemed so far away.  When you lose a baby, or a spouse, or maybe you were abandoned as a child…perhaps you were abused, or neglected?  WHERE ARE YOU GOD?!  Where are you Papa?  Lord….are you there?

Time has passed though, so we have to move on.  We can’t change the past.  We accept it and we trudge along.  Right?

Maybe not friends.  Maybe not….

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus… – (Acts 3:19)

Our circumstances won’t change, but we can certainly find peace.  It’s not what happens to us that will ultimately make the difference in our lives, but rather what we BELIEVE about what happens to us.  If we can ask the Lord to get our history straight for us…to sanctify our past and bring truth to the lies we’ve believed, we can walk in a place of victory where we’ve believed ourselves to have suffered defeat.

But, where was God when….?!

What if I suggest to you that He’s there now?  That place we’ve been asking about….the hurt we felt, the pain we’ve experienced, the confusion we’ve endured.  What if I told you that whether it was 20 minutes ago, or 20 years ago….our limitless, timeless God is there NOW?

 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. – (1 Ti 1:17)

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. – (2 Pe 3:8)

    For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. – (Ps 90:4)

So go to that place in your mind.   That place that left you broken, shattered, and confused.  Go on…I dare you.  Go there in your mind.  But this time, instead of just going through the motions of what happened…stop, look around, and ask Jesus where he was right then.  Jesus….where are you now, in this place?

“I am with you always.” – Matt 28:20

Where are you standing Jesus?  What are you saying to me?  What lies have I believed?  Who do you say that I am?  Will you come Lord to this wounded place of mine?  Will you hold my hand?  Will you tell me the truth?

      The LORD your God is in your midst,
      a mighty one who will save;
                  he will rejoice over you with gladness;
      he will quiet you by his love;
                  he will exult over you with loud singing. – (Zep 3:17)

He’s there now friends.  He’s in that place.  And I can tell you…he’s not across the room either.  He’s holding you.  He’s walking beside you.  He wants us to know the truth about who he says we are, and he wants us to walk in the present with the truth of Him defining our pasts.

           “And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
                 I’m going to start all over again.
                 I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
                 where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
                 I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
                 I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.

– The Message (Hosea 2:14–15)

“The object of my greatest pain, can become the source of my greatest blessing.” – Corrie TenBoom

He wants us to invite Him to walk through those wounded places with us….again.  He was there the first time, but somehow we’ve lived rather believing a lie.  Time travel with Jesus in your mind friends….He is limitless.  He is timeless.  And, he will show us the truth about who He says we are and bring us healing.

It’s not what happens to us that will ultimately make the difference in our lives, but rather what we BELIEVE about what happens to us.

**I want to give credit for the references, ideas, and depth of insight into this concept to Crossroads Counseling of the Rockies in Buena Vista, CO.  Thanks to them, I’m seeing the Lord turn my own Heartbreak Valleys into Acres of Hope too.

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Go Climb A Mountain

“Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.” — Richard M. Nixon

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol’ way
And who shall wear the robe and crown?
Good Lord show me the way

O sisters, let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O sisters, let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

I don’t know what it is for me about old, old gospel songs, but I love them. They’ve been on my brain lately for some reason too.  A link to the past perhaps…of faiths that ran deep in times that skewed hard.  Maybe it’s the obvious trust of a good Papa that covered doubt in the dark places, and confidence of old in the goodness of our Father to provide….to be who He says he is.  Whatever it is that lures me to these old songs….I do hope in our current times of thumping drums and electric guitars that we don’t forget entirely the faith or songs of old.

Some very special friends of mine threw a love feast for me last week to celebrate my birthday.  I can honestly say it was my most favorite birthday celebration ever.  They each brought gifts for me that meant something to them.  They weren’t allowed to buy anything, but rather, the gift had to be something that the Lord impressed upon each of them for me from their own homes.  They shared words of knowledge and of encouragement that the Lord had given them as they shared the gifts.  Ya’ll….it was incredible.  Words about who I am and who they see me becoming.  Boy….it was so unbelievably special!

One of my friends gave me a pin that was new, but fashioned to look vintage.  It had been given as a gift to her some time ago, and she said that when she was asking the Lord what to give me, it seemed to jump out at her.  She talked about how just as I wear a vintage piece, she sees that I wear the testimonies of the past as precious jewels to share as well.  That I value the past, and the things of old.  Funny enough, I’d just responded with similar words the day before to a comment on last week’s devotional that I wrote.  The idea had been shared to “learn it, log it, and leave it” with regards to moving forward in faith.  While I understand the original intent of that particular statement, I’m not so sure that I agree.

Here’s some of what I’d said in response…“As far as learning, logging, and leaving, I get that…but I think we have to make sure to take with us the nuggets of wisdom gained from each experience … It’s remembering the blessings now and calling them back into existence….the knowing and recalling the goodness of the Lord…it’s the power of the testimony to remind us that what has been done before can be done again.”

I went back a couple of days ago ya’ll to a post I wrote on my own blog in March of this year, the day we lost Fisher.  Can I tell you that 6 months later, it felt almost foreign to read the very words that I penned?!  They’re my words alright, but where I sit now is so much different from where I sat then.  Sure there’s still pain, but from this place, I see tremendous growth too.  I can’t just log it and leave it….I have to take from it too.  We leave the past, but what is a testimony of the present without the guts of our past?  I don’t think we’re supposed to live looking backwards, but I believe that with the knowledge of what’s behind, our moving forward becomes that much more powerful.  Our testimonies become that much richer with a clear picture of what preceeded our growth.  When we reach the top of a mountain, our success is greater when we can see the path from whence we came.

I started looking for thoughts people have had about climbing mountains.  I’ve done some decent hikes in my life and enjoyed the benefit of views from the top after grueling climbs to get there, but I wanted to see what experienced mountaineers think about the process.  There’s often wisdom to be gained from people who are experts at something in the natural that we can apply to our relationships with the Lord.  I just love this quote that I found.  (Just fyi, the guy who said this was not a believer in Christ. Just goes to show that the Lord can and will use all things for his glory!)

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”  — Rene Daumal

There is power in testimony….the power in the knowing that from whence the Lord has brought us, he can do again!  That we move forward and remember what was behind, but we also remember the goodness of the Lord along these places in our past.  We treasure the past to make greater the fruits of the future.

            You make known to me the path of life;
      in your presence there is fullness of joy;
      at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  ~ Ps 16:11

 

            He leads me beside still waters.
            He restores my soul.
                  He leads me in paths of righteousness
      for his name’s sake.
            Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
      I will fear no evil,
                  for you are with me;
      your rod and your staff,
      they comfort me.  ~ Ps 23:2–4

 

            All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
      for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.  ~ Ps 25:10

And just for fun….close your eyes and listen to this song.  What way do you need Him to show you today?

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A Bird’s Eye View

 

I have heard this verse a million times.  “Walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7)  But I can honestly tell you that until recently, I don’t know that I’ve grabbed onto it very fully.  I guess maybe I always think about life like a hike…that we trust where we’re walking without always having to know what lies around each bend.  Oddly enough, I’m sort of ok with that.  But recently, the Lord has been teaching me something different about this verse that I wanted to share.

As you all know, the past several months in my life have been a struggle to recover and move forward from my 4th miscarriage.  This past Friday was my scheduled delivery date.  It has definitely been a forward-moving crawl of progress, but I keep running into this place, this question… where I haven’t trusted what’s around each bend as easily as I have in the past.  And the root question that I know is at the heart of it all is the Lord asking me, “Do you trust me?”  I find myself honestly saying….”I’m not sure Lord….because look at all of this behind me.”

For the first time after 6 pregnancies, I’ve been afraid to go forward, not because of just what might lie ahead, but because of what I know has lined the path on my way to this place.  Loss…heartache…doubt.  And somehow, until this most recent loss, I’ve managed to outrun all of that stuff.  Like, when it finally caught up…it all came crashing down on me in one lump sum that has left me feeling afraid and confused.

In a counseling session last week (yes….I have been going to a counselor,) my friend and counselor reminded me of this verse from 2 Cor. And for the first time maybe ever, I realized that I had to stop listening to the eyes in the back of my head and still walk by faith.  I can’t be afraid to move forward just because of what’s behind.  I can’t stop trusting God because of some fear that he’s not good.  He IS good and I can trust him.

Then the Lord reminded me “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.  You are with me.”  Walking through the valley isn’t just about what lies ahead of us, it’s knowledge of what lies behind as well….and still choosing….CHOOSING to trust the Lord.

Yesterday, I found out that the baby for months we’d thought was a boy (because of an intelligender test I took) was, in fact, a girl.  At an ob appointment to just check in with my doctor and to talk about the future, I learned that our lost baby Fisher was an XX….girl chromosones through and through.  I have 2 boys, so this was pretty exciting news for me.  One, because now I know we’re not a boy factory, and two because in that realization, I saw how the Lord had answered some prayers for us.  From the start of the pregnancy and before, my oldest son had been praying for a sister.  And while I love my boys, my heart’s desire would be to have a girl in our family as well.  Had I known that even back in March, I think that I would have been angrier at the frustration of feeling robbed almost.  But….the Lord, in his kindness, saved that little nugget of information for me to see his provision….his answer to prayers.  And something about that knowledge made me feel loved…and empowered…and unafraid.  He’s been listening all along.

Every time I looked out the back side of our house yesterday, there was a red-tailed hawk perched on our children’s playground equipment.  Once on the playhouse, then on the climbing dome, and then the last time it was staring straight at me from the post of a half-built zipline platform.  I was talking to a dear friend at the time and was exclaiming at how close this giant bird was to our home…and how I felt like it was staring a hole into me.  She suggested that I look up information on hawks because sometimes the Lord speaks to us in different ways.  She asked how it made me feel, and my response….”somehow powerful.”

I did some random digging around on the WWW and came across this interesting thought:

One thing that all hawks have in common is the skill to move between the seen and unseen realms gracefully connecting both worlds together. Their acute vision compliments this ability and their discriminating nature keeps them out of harms way. The broader vision of the hawk allows them to see what lies ahead.

They move amongst the seen and unseen in grace and power. 

Suddenly, I felt the Lord telling me that I am powerful and that my broader vision of the knowledge of his goodness is enough to trust what lies ahead.  That walking by faith and not by sight is walking in that valley…and not fearing.  That walking in faith in full knowledge of what’s behind, but choosing to press ahead….that’s glorifying to our maker.  And ya’ll….that’s just downright empowering to me too.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  – Phil 3:12–14

**How about you….do you need to stop looking backwards in order to move forward in power and grace?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Out Of The Way

I went running last night with some girlfriends.  This is a feat in itself because we’re totally a rag-tag bunch of wannabe runners.  As in, we’ve signed up for a 5K and none of us currently run.  So really, I should say that I did a walk/run if I’m being honest.

As we were panting running down the road, we were talking about how there are times in life when we want to keep helping, but sometimes feel like helping may even mean moving out of the way.

I don’t know about ya’ll, but I want to help people.  I want to fix when there are issues.  I want to give where there is need.  I want to encourage where there is doubt.  I want to make things right when they seem wrong.  But the truth is that there are things that I can’t fix, and needs I can’t meet, and doubts I can’t silence, and wrongs I can’t right no matter how much I want to.

Sometimes, just sometimes….maybe when I’ve exhausted what I know the Lord has called me to do…I just need to move out of the way.

One of my friends said, “Something we’ve realized over the past few years, is that we should never stand in the way of a wrestle that someone needs to have with the Lord.”

Remember awhile back when I wrote about the wrestle?  I had to go back myself and read it, and the Lord reminded me of something when I did. 

He reminded me that there is blessing in the wrestle.

And I started thinking that despite our best efforts to want to help others sometimes, we just might be getting in the way of the wrestle that the Lord needs to have with them in order to give the blessings he has in store.

I so often think back to Jeremiah 29:11….He knows the plans he has for us to bring us a hope and a future.  But the thing is, he said that to his people when they were in the middle of a wrestle with Him!  It’s when we have to lay flat on our face before the Lord and need him in ways we’ve never needed him before that we find him! 

We find him!

Sometimes…oftentimes…probably even most of the time, in the lives of others (and in our own lives if we can be that honest with ourselves,) we need to quit trying to fix and control, and realize that there are just gonna be some things we need to work through with the Lord.

Certainly, the body of Christ is meant for the encouragement, support, and edification of one another.  So please don’t hear me say “live and let live” here.  I think what I’m trying to communicate is that if we’re not careful, we can either come to a place where we can’t walk without a crutch, or we become a crutch to someone else, and then are in the way of a necessary wrestle with God.

Perhaps we find ourselves in financial distress and need to wrestle to discover Jehovah Jireh, God the Provider.  Or maybe we find ourselves amidst inexplicable chaos, and He wants to introduce us to Jehovah Shalom, God is Peace.  Maybe it’s a season of sickness and we need to encounter Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who Heals.  It could just be that whatever it may be, He wants us to surrender it all to Him as Adonai, El Shaddai, and El Elyon…our Master, Lord God Almighty, and Most High God.  Because he knows just where we are, and just what we need.

And he is kind.  He is good.  He is gentle…and faithful.  He is generous….extravagant even.

Another of my friends said at lunch the other day, “He is seldom early, but never late.”  He shows up.  He always shows up.

We do not have a God who will stand us up.  Who will humiliate us or torture us.  He is kind…and good….and gentle…and faithful.  He allows us to co-labor with him here on this earth….but we all know, that not much gets done when there are too many cooks in the kitchen.  I’d rather have a meal from a master chef, than a bunch of first week culinary students.  Wouldn’t you?

**Are there circumstances in your life where you may need to move out of the way in order to allow someone else to have their wrestle with the Lord to find Him him/herself?  Have you allowed yourself to become a crutch in an effort to prevent hardship for another person?  Have you inadvertently created a crutch for yourself of someone else?  I’d love to hear from you who you need the Lord to be (what you need from Him) in order for you to move out of the way for someone else, or to let someone move out of the way for you.

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Bless Her Heart

So, I’m from the South.  The land of sweet tea, grits, and Southern drawls… sticky summer nights, and minding your manners.  And when I say “minding your manners,” I’m not just talking about putting your napkin in your lap at dinner.  It’s a different culture down here.  Here in the Bible belt, it’s easy to sense people minding their manners even in a prayer session.  Around these parts, the joke is that, as long as you say “Bless his/her heart” with a phrase…it gets to count as a sympathetic word.

But get this…. “Lord, help Betty Lou…That woman is mean as a snake….bless her heart.  And Jesus, we submit Billy Bob to you…That poor man just can’t get control over his addictions…bless his heart.”

Yeah….it’s rude.  It’s a cover.  A big, fat, fake excuse for gossip.  And it does nothing for a person but tear them down.

Now, it may not be that obvious as my exaggerated version above, but we’ve all done the same thing whether we want to admit it or not.  A “Lord help my husband be a better _____________.”  Or, “Jesus, my sister is making me crazy….give me patience to deal with her.”  You know what I’m talking about.  Prayers out of exasperation.  How about this, “Father….my children are out of control….help me handle them well.”

Last week I wrote about calling out the greatness in others.  As I read through the comments, I really loved what a gal named Barbie said about it all.

“I’ve always been taught to call out the greatness in others, calling forth those things which aren’t as though they are.

And I’ve been wondering if that idea is something that Christianity today has really taught us to do?  I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s a relatively new concept.  It’s only been for about 4 years that I’ve even realized that we have the authority, given to us by Christ Jesus, to do this.  To speak something into existence….or out of existence for that matter.

So if you’ll be so kind as to let me speak really candidly today, there’s just something that I wanted to share that has revolutionized my life and my capacity to pray for people.  It’s simple really, but before I learned this, I think I often felt myself struggling to pray well or to even know what I was praying for sometimes.  Today I want to share with you something I learned, that around my circle, we call “praying in the opposite spirit.”

I wish it was easier to pray for people well sometimes.  Especially those situations with the “hard-to-loves” in life, it can be a struggle.  Our flesh can so easily rattle off all the things that tick us off or get under our skin, but to really pray for someone, we should be releasing blessing over them.  If all we’re doing when we pray sometimes is having a complain-fest to the Lord, then we’re missing the point and allowing the enemy to stick his big ugly foot smack in our sight-line of Jesus.

So let’s just say that Betty Lou really is as mean as a snake.  She’s unkind, and her words are full of venom.  She walks into a room and because of poor self esteem, she picks someone out to focus on tearing down.  And boy does she rip into that poor soul.  Oh she disguises it well though.  She’s arrogant and proud…but of what you don’t know.  Every word out of her mouth is a lie.  But, smooth words and a big smile pretend to hide the meanness she’s fully intending to sting…but sting she does…over and over and over.  Betty Lou gets under your skin.  She makes you angry.  You just don’t like Betty Lou.

So when we pray…we might be tempted to focus on all of those things I just listed above and basically after rattling them all off, we essentially just ask God to change her heart in a quick summation at the end.

But friends, we are daughters of the King.  And so is Betty Lou.  As citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, we are entitled to it’s benefits.  Benefits that Jesus paid for on the cross, and fruits that come from the Spirit of the Living God.  Things like love, joy, peace, patience and so on.

So this whole praying in the opposite spirit thing….it’s kinda like the concept of binding and loosing found in Matt 16:18-19.

“on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

I’ve often noticed that this verse is used to just bind something away from us…to remove away things that are bad….depression, anger, pride, etc.  But if all we do is bind, we’re on the defensive against the enemy.  We’re reacting…not being proactive on the offensive.  When we loose though, that’s when we ask heaven and all it’s benefits to come down here to the earth.  As Kingdom citizens, we’re binding away the works of the enemy and then releasing the benefits of heaven to invade the earth.

So Betty Lou….when we pray for her, it’s so easy to think of the things we don’t like. So, so easy.  But what if when we pray for her, we name the things we don’t like, but only to bind them away….and then we go one step further to release the blessings of heaven onto her as well.

Father, I lift Betty Lou before you.  In Jesus precious name, I bind unkindness from her lips.  Father, I ask that you release the kindness of Jesus over her.  I pray Father that she begins to understand your kindness towards her and as a result, she desires to share that kindness with others. Father, though Betty Lou may struggle with self worth, we declare that she is valuable to the God of all Creation.  You sent your son to die for her, and I pray Father that she can slip into the righteous garments that you have made for her.  You call her beloved child, and I declare that she will begin to understand that her true identity lies in you and who you say she is.  We declare that the lies of the enemy to cause her to question her value must cease, in Jesus name.  Father, I ask that in your kindness, you release a spirit of humility over Betty Lou.  I pray that her lips will speak truth, and where lies have come forth before, we declare that the attempts of the enemy on her speech must stop now, in the name of Jesus.  Father, you love Betty Lou.  You sent your son to die for her just as you sent him to die for me.  We are all sinners in need of a Savior, and I pray Father that Betty Lou is drawn into communion with you through your kindness over her.  I pray Father that she feels your gentleness over her and that her spirit is softened because of your goodness poured out upon her.  She is your beloved child.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Now tell me that you don’t like Betty Lou better now after that kind of prayer for her?  For real….when we can find the things we don’t like and come up with the opposite to pray for someone, it’s amazing the blessing we suddenly find ourselves able to release over someone.  Talk about calling out the greatness?!

Instead of just praying for an end to selfishness….let’s release selflessness, compassion, sympathy.  Instead of words about pride, let’s speak out humility and a tender spirit.  Instead of addressing harshness, let’s ask for gentleness, mercy, love.  You get where I’m going here?  And if you’re having trouble, get on Thesaurus.com and go to town with some antonyms.  If you think Betty Lou is mean, put that in the search box, and then you pray the antonyms for her…generosity, kindness, unselfishness.  Once you start, you’ll be amazed how much easier it is…and how much differently you’ll feel then too about Betty Lou.

Anyhow, I know this is a bit different from the normal devotionals that you’ve come to expect from me, but it’s something I’ve just been wanting to share with you all for a long time.  Because the truth is, that when we learn to pray for one another well, we learn how to love one another better too.

So let’s get out there and start praying in the opposite spirit!  Let us be marked by the blessings we release, and the benefits of heaven that we call into existence!

*What do you think?  Have you been doing this all along, or is this a new concept for you too?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, and revelations in the comments below.

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Call Out The Greatness

Three times over the past month I have heard the phrase “call out the greatness” used with regards to building others up.  Once it was in the context of marriage, once in reference to training our children, and once regarding other churches within the body of Christ.

Third time is a charm… but being the obtuse individual that I sometimes am, I have finally caught on that there’s something the Lord has for us with this idea.

Calling out the greatness in others

Marriage is hard.  Anyone who’d tell you otherwise either still has on the rose-colored glasses of early marital bliss, or is lying.  One of many places where we are challenged and learn to die to selfishness in our lives, marriage puts pressure on ourselves and on our spouses.  We all bring a suitcase or two of baggage into it, and sin and flesh whisper deficiencies into our ears….shortcomings of our own and of our beloved’s.

And child rearing…training…raising…  The only people who seem to know all the ins and outs of raising perfect children are those who’ve never actually raised any.  It’s hard.  It’s a blessing.  But again….selfishness creeping around every corner, expectations of behaviors and attitudes that should be….it can be a sticky place.

Let’s talk too about the church itself…ourselves.  The judgements we all hold deep in our hearts, if we’re being honest, about even other believers.  That church is so showy, that one is too rigid, those people have too much freedom, some put God in a box, and others don’t seem to have any boundaries.  You know what I’m talking about….we’ve all thought it.  Self righteousness telling us that the way we know church to be is the only right way.  We nit pick other denominations, and choose sides, and in doing so, we weaken the whole body.

But what if in marriage, and in raising kids, and in living truly as one body of Christ, we call out the greatness in one another instead of focusing on the deficiencies and differences?

What if, instead of nagging our spouse about being such-and-such kind of leader in our marriage, we begin to call out the things he does well?  What if instead of complaining that he never cleans up the dishes, we randomly speak life into him about how proud it makes us to see him work diligently on the yard?  And, instead of moaning about lack in some area, we make efforts to promote him for the places where he excels?  What if he’s impatient, so we begin to speak patience into his life…and pray patience over him?  What if we call out the fruits of the spirit in our spouse….call them into increase and greater existence?

With our kids…it’s the same thing?!  Instead of chastising my son for antagonizing his little brother, how might things change if I heap praise upon him for his gift of making others feeling important and included?  Instead of calling a child bossy, what if we instead recognize and cultivate the hearts of young leaders who learn to take charge with Godly purpose?  Instead of pushing the shy into uncomfortable places, let’s honor the humility and meekness.  Let’s speak into our children the life-giving virtues we pray so diligently for them to posess.

And the church…let’s definitely not be remiss on this one.  Instead of comparing the virtues of expository teaching versus spirit-led storytelling to choose the greater, let’s honor each place and person for the giftings each posesses.  Instead of thinking that one place has it figured out better than another, or getting caught up in minor rib issues, let’s applaud what each different body does well.  Let’s be thankful that those who need deep expository teaching have the option to get it…and not to be forced into a sound and lights production on Sunday mornings.  But by the same token, let’s honor those places that may be more “seeker-friendly” for their ability to draw people in and create an environment of comfort as they ease newcomers into understanding of life in Christ. 

Shakespeare was right…”Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

As believers, we cannot be afraid of greatness.  According to Christ, we are born great….we are the workmanship of the God of creation.  We achieve greatness the closer we get to Jesus.  And, greatness has been given to us through faith in Christ, so let’s walk that out as we thrust it onto others.

Let us be a people who love…and in love, we speak life, we give life, and we change lives. 

Let’s call out the greatness. 

 

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:1–4

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. … May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.  – Romans 15:2, 5–7

 

Journey To The Top

“Ever wonder where you’d end up if you took your dog for a walk and never once pulled back on the leash?” ~Robert Brault

My family went to the mountains for a couple of days this weekend. The weather was a glorious 20 degrees cooler than at home, and the sounds of crickets and tree frogs lulling me to sleep was just the peaceful respite this soul needed.

On Friday morning, we decided to take a short hike up to a rock face that overlooked the lovely mountain town of Highlands, NC down below. We started off with the end in mind. We weren’t 100ft into the 3/4 mile hike when my 2 year old stopped to pick up a “cool rock.” To me it looked like a piece of gravel, because it was, but to him, it was something valuable. Another 100 ft and we were stopping again…this time for a curled up dead leaf…wildly valuable goods indeed. Our pace continued like this…starting, stopping, starting, stopping. I could feel the tensions rising from both my husband and myself as we exchanged glances that said, “This is going to take FOREVER!”

We tried picking up the pace, we tried making up games to get our kids to “race” up the trail, we even tried pointing out things that would seem more interesting farther ahead of us to create a sense of rush.  Nothing worked.  So, we started and stopped and started and stopped.

About halfway up the trail, the thought occurred to me that I’m awfully glad God isn’t so impatient with me as we walk along this road of life.  He lets me stop and mill around…smelling the proverbial roses, if you will, along the way.  He lets me pick up a nugget here and there, and if I find value in it, he lets me keep it.  He doesn’t rush, or push, or try to trick me into going at a pace that makes me lose sight of all that’s around me.  He stays in step, encourages me that there’s so much more ahead, but then allows me to make the pace.  He knows what amazing things are in store, but he’s not going to try to force me to want it either.

Somewhere in our walk, I felt my throat loosen and the tension ease.  I held out my hands to collect the treasures my kids found along the way…rocks, and ferns, feathers and flowers, and even a snail shell.  And when we reached the top, we had more to enjoy than just the view…we had the collection that had been made from the things we gathered along the way, the items that told the story of where we’d been on the way to the top.

And suddenly, I realized that the journey was just as important as the destination….that the journey holds so many gifts for us too.

      You make known to me the path of life;
      in your presence there is fullness of joy;
      at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

~ Psalm 16:11

 

       Lead me in the path of your commandments,
      for I delight in it.
     Incline my heart to your testimonies,
      and not to selfish gain!
      Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
      and give me life in your ways.
~ Psalm 119:35–37

 

      And I will lead the blind
      in a way that they do not know,
      in paths that they have not known
      I will guide them.
      I will turn the darkness before them into light,
      the rough places into level ground.
      These are the things I do,
      and I do not forsake them.
~ Isaiah 42:16

 

We too often forget that I think….that the journey sometimes holds as much wealth for us to collect along the way.  That the destination in itself is only part of the gift.  We want to rush and get to the end. We want a fast-food life…where we get what we want, how we want it, and immediate delivery too. But that’s not really what we want is it? I mean, a meal from a lovely restaurant where we wait and delight in the passing of time will almost always surpass the stuff in a paper bag from a drive-thru…in both flavor and experience. 

That’s the life that I want.  The one with the amazing view from the top, coupled with the treasures from the journey.

And sometimes we even have to be reminded of our own inspirations…

 that “This life is our only dessert….too brief, too sweet, and too delectable to hurry through.”

– Ann Voskamp

Feast or Spoil?

Our freezer stopped working yesterday.  Our deep freezer.  You know, the one chocked full of meats bought in bulk, extra spaghetti sauce, the casseroles I doubled for a “rainy day”, a handful of Kashi and Healthy Choice frozen meals for when my Hubs is gone, giant bags of fruit for smoothies, veggies, and more.  Yeah….that freezer.  The one that was packed to the gills.  It seems to have died, or decided to take a break from cooling for awhile in this sticky, South Carolina, summer heat.

All of the meat thawed.  It was amply cool, but completely thawed. 

So, after a few moments of panic over the thought of losing a few hundred dollars worth of food, we decided to make lemonade out of lemons.

We sent an email to a boatload of friends this morning, and tonight… we had an emergency feast.

And a feast it was too.  I roasted pheasants, grilled pork tenderloin and chicken breasts, made fruit cobblers, and yellow rice.  Our friends brought more amazing sides and desserts…Tomato Panzanella salad, fresh fruit, green salads, pasta salad, banana cream pie, and more.  We probably had 30 people over…on a whim…an emergency whim.  And it was fun!

And as we cleaned out the freezer, I got to thinking how this process today reminds me of life so often.

First, there’s some sort of upset.  An emergency, or things break, and all the goodness contained within is threatened by looming spoil.  And we have a choice.  Do we cry and throw it all away, or do we allow the Lord to use it to create something entirely better out of the contents?  Do we take the mess and invite others in to make a feast out of what could have gone wrong?  Do we engage community and opportunity to serve out of our mess?  Or, do we chuck it all out and sulk about the massive waste?  Do we allow lemonade to be made from the lemons?  Or better yet, do we look for ways to make the lemonade?

When we were cleaning out the freezer, I’m sorry to say, that stuffed at the very back, my husband found something from 2007.  Ok, ok…I’ll be fair….he found a few things that were way too old to eat.  Years too old.  So, we threw them out once they’d been examined and we determined them useless and spoiled.

And that got me to thinking too about how often life throws us a thawed freezer, and we’re forced into a call for an emergency feast.  But, before we can even feast, we have to remove all the contents, and determine what’s worth keeping and what isn’t.  What food is good to eat, and what had no business being in there still anyways.  Old baggage that just got shoved behind newer stuff and needs to go.  Old wounds that we’d forgotten we even had…but still need to be dealt with.  Sometimes, we unearth things in the midst of one crisis that lead to an overall cleansing which wouldn’t have ever happened if the freezer hadn’t died. 

Sometimes, the mess is the very thing that brings community.  The mess is the thing that brings a feast.  The mess is the thing that allows us to start fresher again.  Sometimes….maybe sometimes….we need a mess to spur us into those places.

And I don’t know what mess you may be dealing with in your own life, but I do know that if we allow it to spur us into deeper community, and feasting on His word, and cleaning out old baggage….it’ll yield a cleaner heart, joy in the mourning, and life where spoil could have ruled.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Pe 5:6–11

      I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up
      and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
      O LORD my God, I cried to you for help,
      and you have healed me.
      O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
      you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

       Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints,
      and give thanks to his holy name.
       For his anger is but for a moment,
      and his favor is for a lifetime.
      Weeping may tarry for the night,
      but joy comes with the morning.

      As for me, I said in my prosperity,
      “I shall never be moved.”
      By your favor, O LORD,
      you made my mountain stand strong; 

Psalm 30:1–7

I love the way the Lord showed me this illustration, as I have so needed to understand some of the mess of my life over the past few hard months after our baby died in March.  I love that in our mess we can seek him and find deep blessing and cleansing. 

* How about you?  When was the last time the Lord thawed the freezer of your life?  What did you learn?  How did it go?  What do you need to clean out to start fresh?

Nothing Never Happens….

 

Marlon – “It’s not ok!  I promised that I would never let anything happen to him!!!”

Dory – “Hmmm….that’s a funny thing to promise.”

“What do you mean?”

 “You can’t never let anything happen to him, because then nothing would ever happen to him.”

We drove home from vacation today and were in the car for 11 hours.  For about four of those hours, we allowed our kids to watch movies.  “Finding Nemo” was the first choice, and from time to time, I’d catch a few silly one liners.  Then I heard the above exchange and it made me stop and think.

And if you really want to pause about it, the conversation between these two little fish happened from inside the belly of a whale.

Hmmm….that seems kinda familiar huh?

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish,  saying,

                  “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
      and he answered me;
                  out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
      and you heard my voice.
                  For you cast me into the deep,
      into the heart of the seas,
      and the flood surrounded me;
                  all your waves and your billows
      passed over me.
                  Then I said, ‘I am driven away
      from your sight;
                  yet I shall again look
      upon your holy temple.’
                  The waters closed in over me to take my life;
      the deep surrounded me;
                  weeds were wrapped about my head
                  at the roots of the mountains.
                  I went down to the land
      whose bars closed upon me forever;
                  yet you brought up my life from the pit,
      O LORD my God.
                  When my life was fainting away,
      I remembered the LORD,
                  and my prayer came to you,
      into your holy temple.
                  Those who pay regard to vain idols
      forsake their hope of steadfast love.
                  But I with the voice of thanksgiving
      will sacrifice to you;
                  what I have vowed I will pay.
      Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

 And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”  So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.  (Jonah 2:1–3:3)

 

“You can’t never let anything happen to him, because then nothing would ever happen to him.”

Sometimes I wonder if we’re so consumed with never having anything bad happen in our lives, that we blame God when bad things happen, or get mad, or just go about our own plans to try and rectify things ourselves… and in the end, we miss the point of the whole shebang, or worse, we miss jumping into opportunities for greater redemption. 

Now, I don’t believe that God does bad things to people to teach them a lesson.  It’s not in his character to do so.  You may disagree with that theology, but I don’t believe he inflicts suffering on his people to “teach us a lesson” or to “make us stronger.”  I do believe that he allows things to happen, but that’s different than doing it.  Anyhow…massive theological sidebar that I won’t get into now….but no matter where you stand on that, it’s hard to deny that if nothing ever happened to us, then often times, nothing would ever happen to us.

Oftentimes, ministries are birthed from pains.  Crusades are born from a desire to see change.  Revolutions endeavor to make life different.  Revivals happen when people recognize their own need. 

Things happen when things happen.

Not that to consider what God might do with our struggles or joys necessarily changes our perspective on them entirely….but really….What might God do with us when “things happen” in our lives?  Think of the possibilities?!

Jonah went to Ninevah….AFTER he spent time in the belly of a whale.  And while I’m sure Jonah probably wouldn’t choose to have a re-do of that experience, his second chance at Ninevah saved the entire land.  The people repented and God relented.

Things happen….when things happen.

Doesn’t it make you wonder what our great God will do with each of our “things?”

      But they do not know
      the thoughts of the LORD;
      they do not understand his plan,
      that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor.
      Arise and thresh,
      O daughter of Zion,
      for I will make your horn iron,
      and I will make your hoofs bronze;
      you shall beat in pieces many peoples;
      and shall devote their gain to the LORD,
      their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth. (Mic 4:12–13)

I love what this commentary had to say about this…

“And thus it is here; the nations are gathered against Zion, as soldiers into the field, but God gathers them as sheaves into the floor, to be beaten to pieces; and they could not have been so easily, so effectually, destroyed, if they had not gathered together against Zion. Note, The designs of enemies for the ruin of the church often prove ruining to themselves; and thereby they prepare themselves for destruction and put themselves in the way of it; they are snared in the work of their own hands.” **

*Would love to hear your thoughts on that below!  I love that the Lord gathers for good, what the enemy intends to gather for evil.  How do you feel about the idea that if nothing ever happened, then nothing would ever happen?  Whatcha thinking?  Do tell….

Photo Credit – from Disney’s Finding Nemo

** Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume (Mic 4:8–13). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Sandy Feet

sandy foot

God is so big.

We all know he’s big, and all-knowing, and powerful, omniscient, omnipotent, and probably a few other omni-prefixed words too.  Lately though, I’ve been reminded that even in his bigness, he cares about the little things too…the teensy tiny things even.  Things like ants, and dew, and mustard seeds, and hairs on our head, and grains of sand.

      “Four things on earth are small,
      but they are exceedingly wise:
      the ants are a people not strong,
      yet they provide their food in the summer” – Prov 30:24–25

      “I will be like the dew to Israel;
      he shall blossom like the lily;
      he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon” – Hosea 14:5

And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. – Luke 17:6

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. – Luke 12:6–7

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.  – Ps 139:17–18

I’m at the beach with my family this week.  Today my 2 year old was playing in the surf, and as I sat there watching him, I found myself noticing the thin layer of sand which was stuck to the bottom of his feet.  The thought occurred to me that no matter how hard I’d try, there was absolutely no way that I’d be able to count those grains of sand.  No Way.

But God knows the number of sands on a beach.  He’s the only one who knows…and the only one who can fathom it.  He knows the numbers of hairs on my head, and on my children’s heads, and on your head too.  And I’ve found myself just sitting and ruminating on this Biblical concept that I’ve known since I was a kid, and thinking how unforgotten our details are to the King of Kings.

Our details are not forgotten….

In fact, our details super matter to the Lord.

It’s not a new thought….just one worth remembering.  One I need to remember; that when even my tiny details are important to the Almighty…I am assured that the bigger things are sure not going to be left untended either.

Photo Credit

The Wrestle

I gotta be honest with ya’ll.  I feel like I’ve got nothing to offer by way of great spiritual perspective right now.  I should…oh I should.  I’ve fasted, I’ve feasted, I’ve focused, I’ve cried, and I’ve tried….and still….I wrestle.

A friend said to me the other day, “Logan, I bless you in your wrestle.”

And I’ve been thinking about that.  What it looks like to wrestle well with God?  Not turning away, or running away, but just an all out roll-on the-ground-because-I-can’t-seem-to-figure-it-out-but-have-to-get-back-close-to-Him wrestle.

It’s not a piddly thumb wrestle.  And it’s not a looks-fancy-but-is-really-fake-blood WWF-style wrestle either.  This is like a little boy wrestling with his dad….learning how to really fight, but truth is that you never learn how to fight well if you don’t learn how to wrestle well first.  You never learn how to overcome if you don’t hang in til the end.

My boys love to wrestle with their dad.  As soon as my husband walks in the door, both of my little guys are nagging him for “a wrestle.”  Tossing on the ground, rolling around, pinning, squishing, squeezing, and sometimes even not-so-comfortable wrestling.  In our house, we call it “Domination.”  And daddy always wins.  But my boys still love to play.  The more they play it, the better they get at in, and some day….they’ll dominate my husband.  They’ll come out on top in a wrestle because they will have learned how to do it well.

It’s ok to wrestle, my friends.

I’ve been reminded lately that even Jacob, the father of a nation, wrestled with God.

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.  Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”  Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” – (Ge 32:24–28)

After his wrestle, God gave him Jacob new name even, Israel.  He redefined him and set him on a new course…a Father of a nation that is still called by the same name today.  God BLESSED Jacob because of his wrestle…because he didn’t give up….because he hung in the fight all night long, and he wouldn’t let go until he saw the blessing at the end of it.

And later….somehow it seems that even Jacob, when met with another rough time, had forgotten who he was.  So God piped up again to remind him.  He reminded him of his new name, Israel….and reminded him of the destiny and blessings on him because of that wrestle.

God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him.  And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel.  And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.  The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” – (Ge 35:9–12)

So while in my own life, I’m still asking questions….still crying out in the middle of the dark night even 3 months later…still tearful in my inability to understand or feel like I’m moving far enough past the hard place where I started, onto the higher ground where I want to be….I have to know, that when I hang in there, when I continue to pursue God….there IS blessing in the wrestle.

There is blessing in the wrestle.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,  and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,  for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. – (Eph 6:12–20)

**When was the last time you found yourself in a wrestle?  What did you learn?  Did you hang in until you saw the blessing?

Original Image Source unknown

Riding Tandem

So, the 21 day Allume fast drew to an end this past week.  I was forced to finish a day early because I went out of town to a conference, but felt that the Lord had released me, so it was fine.

And this week, I really just have a few things to say about the fast…but what I’m really wanting is to hear what you all have to say about it in the comment section at the end.

I never did get a clear cut answer to the question I was asking of the Lord.  I’m a black and white person most of the time, and I do love a hard cut answer…for better or worse…and that’s just not what I got this time.  In a lot of ways what I was asking was gray I suppose, and it’s pretty much stayed that way.

It’s not like the Lord left me high and dry though, by any stretch of the imagination.  He restored some little hurts in my marriage.  He’s given me more grace and patience with my kids.  I’ve gotten my creative drive back too.  And I heard some good things from Him during that time.  His voice was everywhere, and it was good.

Parts of it were hard though….like some kind of soul detox.  And maybe that’s what I needed…Purging my junk and allowing room for Him to begin to rework in those places.  One day I’ll know, but for now, I’m more at peace in the knowing and not knowing…which is definitely a step in the right direction from where I was before.

.  .  .

My son just learned to ride a bike without training wheels.  We’ve tried other times to teach him, and it never went well.  He’d end up in tears screaming “I can’t do it,” and my husband or I would be angry and frustrated.  It was the pits.  But today….today, something different happened.

A couple of weeks ago, we went on a family biking trip for the day.  We decided to rent a child’s tandem bike attachment for my 6 year old because the terrain of the trail was too gravely to ride with training wheels.  During the early part of the ride behind my husband, my son’s inability to balance nearly wrecked them both several times and threatened to ruin our entire adventure.  But after a little while, he learned to trust his daddy.  His body and arms straightened up, his pace of pedaling steadied, and he was able to enjoy the ride.  The problem of trust that at first threatened to rob our entire family of a day of fun, eventually gave way to more fun for all of us.

So today, that balance he’d found from relying on his dad before was there.  The confidence that he could ride without the trainers remained.  And the first time he pedaled, he went all the way down the street without any help.  My husband had to run just to keep up.

And all of this biking reminded me of a poem I found in a book that I read my junior year in high school.  It’s not super profound, but sometimes I just like to be reminded that pedaling is all it takes to keep going.  That we can trust, because our Daddy knows how to lead…and teach us balance…and sometimes we can really sit back and just enjoy the ride.

The Road of Life

At first, I saw God as my observer,
my judge,
keeping track of the things I did wrong,
so as to know whether I merited heaven
or hell when I die.
He was out there sort of like a president.
I recognized His picture when I saw it,
but I really didn’t know Him.

But later on
when I met Christ,
it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride,
but it was a tandem bike,
and I noticed that Christ
was in the back helping me pedal.

I don’t know just when it was
that He suggested we change places,
but life has not been the same since.

When I had control,
I knew the way.
It was rather boring,
but predictable . . .
It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead,
He knew delightful long cuts,
up mountains,
and through rocky places
at breakneck speeds,
it was all I could do to hang on!
Even though it looked like madness,
He said, “Pedal!”

I worried and was anxious
and asked,
“Where are you taking me?”
He laughed and didn’t answer,
and I started to learn to trust.

I forgot my boring life
and entered into the adventure.
And when I’d say, “I’m scared,”
He’d lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed,
gifts of healing,
acceptance
and joy.
They gave me gifts to take on my journey,
my Lord’s and mine.

And we were off again.
He said, “Give the gifts away;
they’re extra baggage, too much weight.”
So I did,
to the people we met,
and I found that in giving I received,
and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him,
at first,
in control of my life.
I thought He’d wreck it;
but He knows bike secrets,
knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners,
knows how to jump to clear high rocks,
knows how to fly to shorten scary passages.

And I am learning to shut up
and pedal
in the strangest places,
and I’m beginning to enjoy the view
and the cool breeze on my face
with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore,
He just smiles and says . . . “Pedal.”

— author unknown

*Copied from Holy Sweat by Tim Hansel

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will standThe fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm. – Proverbs 19:21, 23

**Your turn now.  What did the Lord teach you or do with you during the fast?  Please share your struggles, answers to prayers, greatest lessons learned, or any additional thoughts you’d like to add in the comments below!  I’m really excited to hear what the Lord has been doing within our Allume community!

Photo Sources: couple riding bike, child’s tandem bike attachment

Change of Plans….

Sometimes we set out to write (or do) one thing, only to realize that the Lord has different plans.

I’d been feeling like the Lord was calling me to write about legalism and not getting so caught up in law that we forget to pay attention to what the Lord is saying within our actual relationship with Him.  I started studying and pulling verses, and I kept coming across the same word…the same name.

Melchizedek

Melchiza-who?!  For real, I wish I could tell you that with the reading of his name came a whole flood of historical information and biblical data that I have stored in my little ol’ brain…but that wouldn’t be true.  I had to look the guy up and do some serious digging…and once I dug around, I realized that what the Lord wanted to say to us now has a whole lot more to do with Melchizedek than talking about being bound up in legalism.

Turns out that Melchizedek was the last of the priest kings.  He was a contemporary of Abraham, and up until his time, rulership was synonymous with priesthood. After Melchizedek’s reign, the throne was transferred to the descendants of Abraham.  The new kings were royal, but the priesthood aspect of a royal reign pretty much just ended with Melchizedek.  Abraham’s descendant kings eventually led to King David and then ultimately to Jesus, the long awaited reinstatement of the true Priest King.

The LORD sends forth from Zion
      your mighty scepter.
      Rule in the midst of your enemies!
            Your people will offer themselves freely
      on the day of your power,
      in holy garments;
             from the womb of the morning,
      the dew of your youth will be yours.
           The LORD has sworn
      and will not change his mind,
             “You are a priest forever
            after the order of Melchizedek.” – Ps 110:2–4

This explanation of Psalm 110 from a commentary I read knocked my socks off….

  • “Not only was there nothing in the position or character, personal or official, of David or any other descendant, to justify a reference to either, but utter severance from the royal office of all priestly functions (so clearly assigned the subject of this Psalm) positively forbids such a reference. The Psalm celebrates the exaltation of Christ to the throne of an eternal and increasing kingdom, and a perpetual priesthood (Zec 6:13), involving the subjugation of His enemies and the multiplication of His subjects, and rendered infallibly certain by the word and oath of Almighty God. – *1

Did you catch that?  The implications of all that came with Jesus begin restored as priest king and what that means for us?  As I was thinking on this whole priest king phenomenon, the Lord reminded me of this verse in 1 Peter (interestingly enough, the very book that Katie Orr is leading us in a study of here on the Allume blog!)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God” – 1 Pet 2:9

Priests weren’t historically just the people set in place to keep religious laws…they were the ones appointed to set and maintain the spiritual tone of the land… To turn the people towards God and help restore them to a right relationship with God.  And, the kings, and queens, princes, and princesses….they ruled the lands.  They brought peace and waged war against evils.  Theoretically, their job was literally managing the state of the lands to bring about prosperity and order in the kingdom.

Do you get what that means when He calls us priestly royalty?!  All that it means?!

OH. MY. WORDS!

And in case you’ve ever questioned what your role here on the earth is…well, there you have it!  Our job is now.  Our role to play is now.  We start NOW.  We’re not just to bide our time here on the earth until His glorious coming.  We have a huge role to play, and not only that, but we have been invited into the most high order of royalty.  Priestly royalty.  Chosen by God, with the privileges and responsibilities of priests and kings.

So that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…

How’s that for an identity descriptor?!

***Have you ever wondered about what your role is on this earth until Jesus’ coming?  Have you considered that you are, in fact, part of THE royal priesthood? What does that identity mean to you?  What does that mean to us as a community?  What does that mean for the world?  Join in the conversation in the comment section below!

**You can read more about Melchizedek in Gen 14:18, Psalm 110, and Hebrews 5, 6, and 7

* Photo Source
*1 – Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.