speaker interview with tami heim


We are thrilled to introduce you to Tami Heim today.  She is as humble as they come and has an incredible passion to serve those called into leadership.  Her desire is to encourage front line leaders that are weary and need refreshing splashes of grace and mercy. She carries such grace and wisdom and it’s a privilege to have her join us to impart some of what the Lord has taught her over the years.

Tami Heim

1. What was your favorite food as a kid?

Home-made pie crust scraps (What mom had left over when she made a pie – she baked them and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar.

2. What chore do you despise the most?

I actually like them because I see progress! 

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


4. What sound do you love?

Toss up between ocean waves and rain. 

5. If you could paint a picture of a place you have been what would it be?

Santorini, Greece 

6. If you could only do one thing for a whole year what would you want it to be?

Create something. 

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


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

Jon Wallace – president of Azusa Pacific University 

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


10. What would the dream birthday present be?

Chocolate cake and ice cream 

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


12. What is something new you learned last week?

How to embed audio of me speaking into my PowerPoint presentations – who knew it was so easy?

13. What do you miss most about being a kid?

Having mom and dad with me. 

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


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

Right where I am – doing what I am doing. 

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

Something Italian. 

17. What’s in your purse?

Phone, small notebook, credit cards, cash, black comb, business cards, three pens, lipstick, blush, powder. 

18. What are your five favorite books?

The Message Bible – but it is in a zone all on its own.

  • Upended: How Following Jesus Remakes Your Words and World
  • The Cure: What if God isn’t who you think he is and neither are you?
  • One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
  • Cazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
  • Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream

Want to know more about our friend Tami?  Visit her on Twitter /// Facebook /// Pinterest /// Instagram

3 ways to use google+ to boost your platform

g+, google+, google plus

Google+ is probably one of the most mis-understood and underused of the social media platforms. However, when you recognize that Google+ is an extension of the dominant (by far) search tool, then it suddenly becomes more important. Not to mention that YouTube, the #2 search engine, is owned by Google (more on the relevance of this in a minute). The bottom line is that if you’re not paying attention to Google+, then you’re missing some big opportunities for your platform.

When it launched, the perception was that it was Google’s version of Facebook. And while there’s an element of truth there, it’s also not true at all. In order to understand the role of Google+ in your social media toolkit, it helps to know the role of each of the major platforms.

In his book, What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us, Guy Kawasaki identifies the roles of each platform as:

  • Twitter = Perceptions - Think news, events, trending topics.
  • Facebook = People - Friends and family, it’s where we connect.
  • Pinterest = Pictures - ‘Nuff said!
  • Google+ = Passions - Circles, communities, hashtags… all ways to connect on various topics.

Aside from the +1, which Google uses as a social signal to identify popular content for search results, there are a few features of Google+ you should be familiar with.

(1)  Set up Google Authorship with EVERYTHING you write

One way Google+ is working to gain acceptance is by targeting writers. With Google Authorship, you can link everything you write around the web to your Google+ profile. If everything is set up right, then it’ll even impact the search engine results page with a mention of your name in the description of the result.

google+, g+, google authorship

Setting it up is fairly simple, if you know what you’re looking for. Essentially, there are two elements to set up:

  1. A reference to your Google+ profile on post you’re writing (whether on your blog, or somewhere else). Some sites have plugins (like Jetpack) that manage this side of the connection, and you may see a place to link to your G+ profile in your profile on the blog. Otherwise, a simple link on your name in a bio at the end of the post pointing to your G+ profile will suffice (like this… Dan King). The key to linking your name is that it contains the addition of “?rel=author” at the end of it (see instructions).
  2. A reference to the site you are contributing to on your Google+ profile (in the “Contributor to” section of Links on your About page on G+). This will close the loop so that G+ knows which sites contain your writing (as opposed to someone just linking to your profile in a post).

If you want to make sure a post is set up right, then you can check the Google Structured Data Testing Tool with your link, and it’ll tell you if it’s set up right or not. It’ll report back a bunch of the code stuff, but what you’re looking for is the green or red bolded text telling you either everything is okay, or something isn’t set up right.

If you have questions, or want to keep up with the current conversations about Google Authorship, then you can also check out the G+ communities where people are talking about this subject. A couple I follow are:

Speaking of communities…

(2) Get involved in Communities

communitiesMy experience with this is anecdotal, but it seems to hold true to the idea that Google+ is about passions. Simply put, Google+ Communities seem to be where it’s at. There are two things that prompt me make a statement like this:

First, new followers seem to come at a faster rate when I’m active in communities. It’s like the difference between staying home and going to a party. You’ve got to go to where the people are. And the best part of it is that G+ makes it easy by listing all of the different parties going on so you can hang out in the right place.

If you have an interest, then there’s probably a community for it. But just like any party, you may show up and realize that all of the people there are whacked-out. If that happens, leave and find another one to participate in. And if you don’t like any of them, then start a new one. The bottom line is that being active in these places where people are talking about the same things you are will expose your stuff to a targeted audience with a like mind.

Second, +1′s, comments, and re-shares seem to happen more often when I post to communities. But that’s simple math. If I have 500 people in my circles (or who circle me), and I drop a link to a blog post, then some of those 500 will see my post. But If I share the link in a community with 5,000 people in it, then many more people will have the opportunity to see it.

However, keep an eye on the rules of engagement for each community. Some are more open with sharing links. Others can be a bit more strict. Many community managers do that in order to maintain a higher level of quality of content.

The secret here is simply to choose what feels right for you, and get engaged. You’ll find new readers, I promise.

(3) Three words: Hangouts On Air

Hangout-on-air-600x312Google+ Hangouts is a cool Skype-like tool that allows you to meet with multiple people in one online meeting room. Google+ Hangouts On Air is a way to broadcast those meetings so larger groups of people can watch live, and even catch a replay later via the (automatically) recorded YouTube video.

Believe it or not, the SEO impacts using a tools like this can be significant. Think about it, the videos you make are recorded onto YouTube (owned by Google, remember?). So if you have YouTube videos in your post, then it’s likely it’ll get a bit of a boost in the search engine value. Even more so if that video is loaded with keyword tags that align with the content in your blog post. Creating focused, relevant video content which gets posted on your blog is a good thing for your search engine value.

There are lots of ways you can use a tool like this, including, but not limited to:

  • Author interviews
  • Roundtable discussions
  • Video podcasts
  • Instructional videos
  • Conversation around a blog series

Hangouts On Air brings you another way to engage with your audience. If you’re not sure how to use this tool, then make a point to watch others to see how they’re using it. Then make plans to run one yourself and extend the conversations you covet in new ways.

Last thought…

The craft of blogging has changed substantially in several years. The tools are changing and offering new opportunity to reach new audience in new ways. If you are attempting to grow your platform, then you should give Google+ a serious look.

Want to Save Lives? Tell Better Stories.

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

Preemptive 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

preemptive 2

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

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

So how do stories save or cost lives?

1) They make us care because

2) They validate what we already believe or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

preemptive 3

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

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

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

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

-Jeremy Courtney, PreemptiveLove.org

speaker interview with darlene weir

Darlene Weir has been a member of the Allume community from the earliest days when Sarah Mae hosted the very first conference back in 2010.  She is an extraordinarily talented interior designer who sees the creativity of the Lord in every texture, color combination, and visually stunning display both inside the home and in the earth at large.  She brings an expert eye for design which translates into more than just how we arrange our furniture.  The same principles that apply to interior design, also apply to how we present ourselves and our online personas as we seek to create spaces that welcome.

Please meet Allume Speaker and friend, Darlene Weir

Darlene Weir

1. What chore do you despise the most?

Unloading the dishwasher. Because my favorite thing about cleaning is watching the clutter slowly but surely get hidden… and unloading the dishwasher feels like you are unearthing the already perfectly-hidden clutter!

2. What sound do you love?

 The sound of my loved ones laughing  - big belly laughs, of course. Currently, my daughter wins first place, because what is better than the giggles of a baby?

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

I want to learn how to knock down a full grown man with a wheel kick – defensively, of course ;) . Oh, and speak Italian fluently. Possibly both at the same time.

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

Design mentor? Katie Ridder, because she is brilliant and her designs sing of pattern and richness and beauty. Life mentor, Sally Clarkson, because her books keep me sane and give me hope, and I wish she would come over for tea, already.

5. What would the dream birthday present be? 

A villa of my own in Italy, with a full time garden staff and masseuse. Of course.

6. What is something new you learned last week?

That the flagellum of a cell is so complex, it cannot be explained by science, points to our Creator, and behaves like the most finely tuned motor to ever exist.

7. What do you miss most about being a kid?

 Running around outside with my sisters in Wonder Woman underoos, and catching butterflies in the meadow.

8. What’s in your purse?

A lot of lipliner. And a lot of lipstick. An eyelash curler and mascara, for emergencies. And any other emergency item one might need. My phone. My crazy, obsessed collection of essential oils. My sunglasses. Ten pairs of earrings I can’t find anywhere.

Join me in finding out alot more about Darlene by running over to every site and following her madly! Website /// Twitter /// Facebook /// Pinterest /// Instagram

Finding Why You Write

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is begin. And the next hardest thing to do is begin again. I took three months off of blogging, and I had a lot of time to ponder reasons why I should start again or not.

Life makes it harder.

We get weary.
We get busy.
We get distracted.
We get discouraged.
We compare.
We believe lies.
We doubt ourselves.

I came up with a million excuses why I cannot, should not, or will not. Yet, I knew I was not supposed to quit. God made it clear, and it really was not open for discussion. I had to begin again.

Beginning again is hard when you think you have failed. It is hard when you do not think it is worth it, because you are not seeing the results you expected. It is hard when the results you get are not in proportion to the effort applied.

It costs too much to mean nothing.


Beginning again is hard when you do not really know why you are doing it to begin with. The reasons we begin are not always the same reasons we keep going. Sometimes our “why” gets redefined along the way.

It changes. We change.

We learn. We experience. We grow

What motivates us changes.

I became clouded with self ambition. My desires had to be refined, yet my purpose remained the same. The purpose is the same for those who call themselves followers of Christ

If we strip the “why” down to the simplest form, its simplest is its most powerful…

“He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 19-20 NIV)

God has a message He wants to get to those who are His, and those who are yet to be. He has put His message inside of you, and how you bring it as unique as every fingerprint.

We are all different, yet we have a common thread in all our tapestries.

“We are stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 NKJV

How might you be found faithful? Obey.

How might those mysteries be revealed through your words? Many ways.

They may come from you in a way that makes us laugh, or be contemplative and introspective. They may help us organize our lives, or help find our purpose. Your words may causes us to think or expand our thinking. Or they may challenges us, and aid us in being better selves — to love well, to serve more, to be who we were created to be.

Your stories and imagery may stir our imagination, and help us see grace and beauty in places we might not have looked. Or perhaps break our hearts open wide in conviction for our sin or compassion for those in need. You may write truth that brings freedom, opens blind eyes, and helps us live our lives as praise to God.

No matter what form it comes, the reason we write is the same — to make God’s love known.

“His love has the first and last word in everything we do…Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in His death so that everyone could also be included in His life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 MSG)

It is why we write. It is why Christ died. It is why we live.


Marketing Your Message Like Wildfire – Rob Eagar and Allume Partner Up For YOU!

You’re a writer,  and you have a story to tell.  And chances are that you’re reading here because you either resonate with the messages we share, or you are hoping to learn how to share your message more effectively.  Maybe it’s both. Whether your reach is large and wide, or small and deep, you have something to say. You’re passionate and you have a calling; to share your heart and story.

What if you had the opportunity to learn how to market that message, to spread it like wildfire?

Well, folks, you do!

This year at the Allume Conference we’ll be partnering with Rob Eagar to bring you a special offering workshop (You  absolutely must squeal because this is a B-I-G deal!).




You see, Rob is a pretty cool guy with some solid knowledge that can help take you and your message to the next level.  He’s the founder of Wildfire Marketing, a consulting firm that helps authors and publishers sell books like wildfire. He’s worked with New York Times bestsellers like Dr. Gary Chapman, Lysa Tyrkurst and Wanda Brunstetter. Rob has trained over 400 authors in the ways of marketing, and he’s also the author of Sell Your Books Like Wildfire, which is considered the bible of marketing.  Basically, he’s a marketing guru…and we have managed to snag him for a few days to share with you!

And  guess what?…Allume attendees have the opportunity of a lifetime to learn from Rob! This year at Allume, Rob will be hosting a special seminar geared to help authors and bloggers market their message like wildfire.

For only $99 (which you should know is a ridiculous steal), you can attend a 3 part seminar by Rob.

The workshop fee includes the following 3 sessions (which will take place in addition to the Allume conference agenda):


Session 1 – Marketing for the Promotionally-Challenged Author/Blogger on Thursday, October 23rd from 2-4pm (pre-conference)

Session 2 – How to Use the Power of Email to Grow Your Product Sales on Friday, October 24th from 4-5pm

Session 3 – How to Create an Effective Author/Blogger Marketing Plan, Saturday, October 25th from 4:30-5:30pm


And y’all, we cannot emphasize how awesome of a deal you’re getting here! Like… a really, really big deal! SO…you don’t want to miss this!

AND to sweeten the pot even more, the first 2o people to sign up will receive the most amazing opportunity ever–to work with Rob in a one-on-one session for 2o minutes! In other words…you get help from him on YOUR message in a brainstorming session 1 on 1! AMAZING!

So how do you get access to this amazing seminar with Rob Eagar? First, you must have a conference pass. SO… get that here if you haven’t already.

And second, sign up for the seminar with Rob, here.

Any questions? Leave a comment below or e-mail us at info@allume.com.

When You Feel Overwhelmed

When You Feel Overwhelmed JPEG

Two weeks ago, we welcomed our brand-new baby girl into our family.

By the grace of God (and in answer to many prayers from this heart!), our sweet Eleanor has been a great sleeper and a great eater. She has really been a dream-like baby, so far, and I am so incredibly grateful.

But I have to be honest. Today my husband goes back to working long hours, and it is my first day home alone with all four kids. To say that I haven’t experienced a good bit of anxiety thinking about this day, would be a lie. I have felt overwhelmed at the responsibilities before me  and the thought of jumping back into a day-to-day rhythm on very little sleep and a newborn!

I know we’ll get through it, but I want to do so much more than just get through the day!

I’m trusting God to be my strength, and I’m leaning hard into the Spirit of God to bear fruit even in the midst of my exhaustion, but those feelings of being overwhelmed continue to creep up.

As I’ve thought about the anxiety I’ve felt, I began wondering: are any of you experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed?

You may not have a new baby in your home, but maybe it’s too many commitments or a new responsibility you’ve accepted. It might be the struggles of juggling homemaking and pursuing a God-given dream at the same time. Maybe for you, the daily urgencies of life are crowding out what you know is most important.

Whatever it may be, if you have been feeling overwhelmed, I want to encourage you to surrender those feelings to the Lord.

The moment I feel the anxiety begin to creep in, I pour out my heart to God, admitting how I feel and confessing my lack of trust in Christ’s sufficiency. For me, this time of prayer is a time of  yielding, falling at the feet of Jesus, letting go of my plans, my fears, me, me, me, and grabbing hold of Jesus.

After this time of confession and submission, I grab hold of the Word of God and replace those overwhelmed feelings with the truth of God.

The Bible tells us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  If I don’t control my thoughts, my thoughts will control me. 

Instead of dwelling on those things that are making me feel overwhelmed, I meditate on the truth of God’s Word and hold fast to His promises.

These are a handful of the verses I turn to over and over when I am feeling overwhelmed. I’m praying they are an encouragement to you, too.

  • “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3 ESV)
  • “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7 NLT)
  • “O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge…” (Psalm 61:1-3 NLT)
  • “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” (Psalm 28:7 ESV)
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)
  • “When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” (Psalm 94:18-19 ESV)
  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling…Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:1-3, 10)
  • “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)
  • “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

Question for You: What helps calm you when you are feeling overwhelmed?


Original Photo without words {Flickr Photo Credit}:  Sara V.

speaker interview with kristin schell

Kristin Schell doesn’t meet strangers.  She meets friends.  Her smile is contagious and her life is warm and welcoming.

Allume Family, please meet our friend and speaker, Kristin Schell.

Kristin Schell - Allume 2014


1. What was your favorite food as a kid?

Chips & salsa. I’m Texan, what can I say?

2. What chore do you despise the most?

Loading and unloading the dishwasher.

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

About 20 minutes ago.

4. What sound do you love?

The dinner bell. We have this big bell outside that I ring during the summer. When it rings I know everyone will come running and soon be at the table.

5. If you could paint a picture of a place you have been what would it be?

Oh my gosh! It would have to be a ginormous mural to capture all the places of my heart. Green grass in my grandparents backyard in Kansas, the view from the apartment where I lived in Paris, Lily Lake where I first learned to fly fish with my husband, the snow capped mountains in the summer from our cabin deck in Colorado. That would be the first part of the mural. ;)

6. If you could only do one things for a whole year what would you want it to be?

You mean like star on Broadway and sing my heart out every night?

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

Write like a boss. I want to learn to story so vividly and with such transparency it skips the mind, bypasses the heart, and goes straight to the soul.

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

I have one… Jan, my Bible study teacher at Lamplighters who has raised me up in Christ. She’s the most Christ-like person I’ve ever met, can tell a story like I can only dream of (see question #7) and points me to Jesus when I get off the path or forget who I am. Most of all we just do life together.

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

This overwhelms me, next.

10. What would the dream birthday present be?

A long, like really long, family dinner where no one is in a rush or complains about eating green stuff. Where we talk for hours about matters of the heart and share our big God dreams. And then someone else does the clean up.

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

The person my family wants to come home to.

12. What is something new you learned last week?

This is so dumb. And embarrassing. I thought the phrase was “Fair to Midland” I’m from Texas and Midland is way out in west Texas so I thought the expression meaning average or neither good nor bad made sense. Just last week I learned the proper term is “Fair to Middling”. You don’t even want to know how I mess up song lyrics.

13. What do you miss most about being a kid?

Having someone else load and unload the dishwasher. (See #2)

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

Is this it? Is this like an Oprah moment when I share my dream vacay and y’all bust out and surprise me with the vacation and all my family comes out of nowhere and I jump on a chair and you say, “hurry, your plane leaves in an hour!” Cause I’m all over that. But really, I’d go visit an 85 year old widow named Ludmilla in Prague. Her life inspires me and she defines what discipleship can look like if you just open your life and allow God to work. I’ll share more of her story and how it’s impacted me and life at the Turquoise Table in my session.

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

I would do exactly what I’m doing now. I would just be a little more focused and a lot more disciplined with the gifts God has given me to use in His story.

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

If you were coming in the next 5 minutes we’d be having a Summer Squash Frittata I made this afternoon. Three kinds of organic squash from our local CSA, fresh basil, green onions, garlic, and farm fresh eggs all whooped up together and topped with pecorino romano for a light summer supper. I also have leftover peach cobbler with BlueBell vanilla ice cream.

17. What’s in your purse?

My glasses, keys, wallet, an iphone charger, several old grocery lists (I know I’m a dinosaur, who still makes lists?!!) and a bag of essential oils I never leave home without.

18. What are your 5 favorite books?

Seriously? That’s like asking which child is my favorite. Whatever… here are some “all time favs” But like my children, when it comes to books I love them all. Miriam’s Kitchen by Elizabeth Ehrlich, Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, A Meal with Jesus by Tm Chester, and Wonder by R. J. Palacio.


Learn more about Kristin :: Website /// Twitter

declutter (your blog, not your house)

declutter your blog - allumeFor quite a while now, I’ve noticed a trend among bloggers, especially those who have been blogging for a few years. And though I don’t really blog regularly, I feel it too. It’s a desire to simplify, to get rid of the clutter. The online world can get pretty noisy after a while.

This expresses itself in different ways. For some, it means decluttering their home or cutting out particular social media outlets or setting aside a day of the week for an internet sabbath. There are many personal changes we can (and often need to) make in our own lives to create a more peaceful environment.

But today, let’s talk about your online home … your blog or website.  Take off your “blogger” hat for a few minutes, and pretend it isn’t your blog at all. It’s someone else’s, and you just stopped by for the first time.

Clutter is the enemy.

In real life, I’m not a very neat and tidy person. I wish I was, believe me. But truthfully, I pile all sorts of papers on my desk … on the desk itself, on top of the printer (yes, this makes it harder to make copies, but if you lift the lid just right while holding onto the papers on the top, you can slide the paper in and make it work) …  the list goes on. Sometimes the situation on my desk get so out of control that the stack of papers avalanche right off the desk and into the trash can. Just being transparent here. If you don’t believe me, just ask @philulrich. The poor guy has to share an office with me.

It happens gradually though. My desk doesn’t go from being neat and clean to piles of paper horror in an instant. The same is usually true of blogs. You start out with only the necessities, and end up with much, much more. It’s the nature of the beast. Platforms like WordPress (and others) have made it so easy for us to add items to a sidebar, a navigation menu, and the area below each post. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

But don’t forget, clutter is the enemy.

If left unchecked, the very tools that make blogging today more rich and effective can overrun your site. What happens then? Your content gets lost in the shuffle.

How sad is that? Someone arrives at your site for the first time, and she really can’t find what she is looking for. Or maybe she isn’t looking for anything in particular. She just wants to know what your site has to offer. After a few seconds … yes, that’s about all you have to capture her attention … or maybe a few minutes (if she’s incredibly persistent and her baby doesn’t start crying), she clicks away, because there was so much “stuff” on the site that she felt overwhelmed.

It’s never too late.

When it comes to clutter, there are four “problem areas” on most blogs. So let’s spend a few minutes talking about those and what you can do to clean them up.

navigation menus

It’s easy to start adding items to your menu. Maybe your theme or template even does it automatically when you create a new page. Take a look at what’s there. The goal here is to get rid of all but the essentials. What those essentials are will be different for each site. Here’s a couple that are a must, in my opinion:

  • about
  • contact

In addition to those two, you may want to feature a couple of key blog post categories, or your store, or a page about speaking. It’s up to you. Just make sure what you have in the menu is important enough to be there. Unnecessary menu items just make it harder for the reader to find what they need.


Your sidebar is likely the biggest contributor to blog clutter. Add a widget for this, a widget for that, and you end up with a great big mess. Again, the question is, what really needs to be here? It might include:

  • social media icons
  • your photo and a very short blurb linking to your about page
  • search
  • email subscription option
  • ads
  • recent posts
  • post categories
  • recent tweets
  • Facebook or Google+ widget
  • Pinterest widget

That’s a pretty long list, so you really need to consider what is vital for your particular blog.

A few years ago, it was very popular to have all your friends’ blog buttons in the sidebar. These days, not so much. If you still have a large number of buttons in the sidebar, consider removing almost all of them. There may be a couple that really serve a purpose, but odds are, most (if not all) of them really need to go.

after post area

There are really only three things I would recommend putting at the bottom of your posts:

  • social sharing buttons
  • one call to action (this might be an option to subscribe to your blog or an ad for your latest ebook)
  • author  bio box (if you’re the only person who writes on your blog, this probably isn’t even necessary)


The footer area can kind of become the catch all for items you don’t want in your sidebar. Don’t let this happen! Jennifer at Bourn Creative has written an excellent article on ways to use your footer area most effectively. I highly recommend you taking a few minutes to read it.

It’s time.

Cleaning up those four areas of your site will make a huge difference in a reader’s experience. Remember, your blog is your online home, and you want them to feel comfortable.

Hop over to your blog now and take a fresh look. While you’re doing that, I’ll be here cleaning off my desk.

The Love Dare

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When did love become so hard?

For Jeff and Brittany, loving became hard as soon as they said, “I do” and continued that way for a solid six years of marriage. One day they picked up The Love Dare, and day by day, dare by dare, they began to understand what it meant to truly love each other the way God intended.

(Check out their story at the bottom of this post)

Showing Christ’s love to a spouse, a child, a friend, a neighbor, an acquaintance, a stranger, is not always easy. More often than not, it’s hard. Our flawed human nature defaults to selfishness and contentedness, often resulting in a lack of effort to love, or even a failure to acknowledge someone else’s need for love.

Yet, Jesus calls us to love. And the purpose in loving is not just to be nice, but so that others will know that we are His.

I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
                                                                                                                                                                -John 13:34-35

In preparation for an Allume focusing on hospitality (can you really have hospitality without love?), we’re daring you to love big. This doesn’t have to be about marriage or parenting—it can be, but it can also be about loving your neighbors, your enemies, your coworkers, your in-laws, etc.

We want you to dare to love big between now and Allume, and then we want you to share your experience with us and the Allume community at Open Mic Night!

To get your wheels turning, we’re giving away copies of The Love Dare OR The Love Dare for Parents to 10 lucky winners. Just comment below with which title you’d like a copy of, and if you’re a winner we’ll get yours in the mail.

And if you don’t win, you have the chance to pick up a book at the conference!

Come visit us at The Love Dare booth to nab a spot for Open Mic Night. We can’t wait to see you lovely ladies at Allume and to hear your stories of loving BIG!

Because He first loved us,

The Love Dare team

To watch this video on Youtube, click here: The Love Dare


The Love Dare, a #1 New York Times bestseller from B&H Publishing that has sold five million copies, is a 40-day challenge for husbands and wives to understand and practice unconditional love. In 2013, the authors of The Love Dare penned The Love Dare for Parents, a 40-day journey of “dares” challenging one or both parents to understand, practice and communicate Christ-like love to their children. The Love Dare books challenge you to think differently—they’re about learning and daring to live a life filled with loving relationships.

Come join the Love Dare movement on Facebook and Twitter (@lovedarebook)!