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.

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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

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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!

allume 2014 speakers

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.
freeset bags
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!

MaryMartha

Mug&Tray

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

logan and sarah mae

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.

 

incourage-byDS

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.

 

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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!

sole_hope-logoFTG Logo_color webHP_Logo_Wide_RGB

 

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.

 

FTG Logo_color web

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…

It_s_beginning_to_look_a_lot_like_fall_is_near__Can_t_wait_to_trade_in_my_summer_staple_rainbows_for_my_fallwinter_staple___bootlove

 

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….

freesetglobal

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!

freesetworker

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

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 2.00.24 PM

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!

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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