Nine Ways to Reset Your Blog

Nine Ways to Reset Your Blog

The beginning of September is like hitting the reset button.

The pool is closed. School has been in session for a few weeks & we are settling into the rhythm of alarm clocks & school bus schedules & date nights & football games & car pools & homework & meal planning.

We need a season reset.

We can do the same thing for our blogs can’t we?

Here are a nine ways {because September is the 9th month} we can the hit reset buttons for our blogs:

1. Reevaluate the purpose statement of your blog & for your readers. Don’t have one? Read Why Your Blog Needs a Purpose Statement Now.

2. Refresh your About Page with fresh pictures & new links to current posts that you want to highlight.

3. If you are a shop owner, highlight a new product or have an amazing sale to get ready for new product for the fall.

4. Take a look at your sidebar. Is it crowded? Is it pretty or annoying? Take some time to evaluate it & rearrange accordingly.

5. Do you have a writing schedule for the fall? Look at the calendar and map out your posts.

6. Evaluate your social media pages. Consider making every profile picture the same so you’re recognizable across all social media pages. Put that picture on your about page too. Maybe your Facebook & Twitter cover photos need to be refreshed?

7.  Still working on that Media Kit? Set aside some time to tweak it & send it out or put it on your site. {Check out The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit for a ton of information}.

8. Are you attending Allume {I hope so & I can’t wait to meet you!} or another conference this fall? Get your business cards ready! Moo.com has some fun sizes. I just had some made from my Instagram pictures & the business cards are square too!

9. Streamline the apps on your mobile device to optimize your time when you use your mobile device to promote your blog. Have you heard of IFTTT? It stands for If This Then That. Use this app to create “Recipes” for a certain action. For instance, I want my Instagram picture to show up on my Twitter feed when I post a new picture. Doesn’t it already do that? Yes and no. Since Instagram & Twitter stopped being BFFs, the tweet wouldn’t show the picture, just a link to the picture. Browsing through IFTTT, I found a “recipe” that when I post a picture to Instagram it will tweet the picture AND it will show up in the twitter feed. No extra clicking. That’s just one of many ways that you can streamline your mobile device with this app!

I hope you have a great September! I’d love to hear how you have hit the reset button for your blog – share it in the comments below.

Being Big in Your Life – If Not Now, When?

Please give a warm welcome to Envision Possibilities.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that we suffer from the when/then syndrome…. you know the thought process “when my son is in kindergarten, then I’ll get started on my writing dream” ; “when we have our finances in order,  then I’ll start on that new project”; “when I have more time, then I’ll take time for my dreams”; “when I turn 40, then I can retire and really start enjoying my children”; “when we have an empty nest, then we’ll focus on our marriage”; “when I do ALL the laundry AND put it away, then I’ll take a little time for me”, and the list goes on……

What if the “then” never comes?

Picture a graveyard. Under the big oak tree in the far corner, there’s a granite headstone. Look closer. See the name engraved? Yep, it’s yours.

So you’re sitting here, looking at your own headstone. There’s your year of birth, and the year you—heaven forbid—pass. And between them, there’s a little, coy hyphen.

Now, here’s the good news: that hyphen is what God gives you to use for his glory.

ON BEING BIG

Let’s take a moment to think analytically about that hyphen. There are two things that anyone who aspires to be big must face. The first is knowing what you want to do. Or, in the words of poet Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (We’ll get to the second in a moment.)

Determining what you want out of life—your career, relationships and your free time—is a surprisingly hard process for many of us. It’s much easier to abide by the rules and plans of others than to look within ourselves and see clearly what we are meant to—and would really, really enjoy with the whole of our being—do.

Here are 4 starting points for discovering your brand of being big:

What are your threads? Everything you’ve done and loved up to this point is a thread running through your life. Those threads are always with you, and you can choose to pick them up again at any time. Adored math as a kid, but your parents pushed you into sales? Maybe it’s time to take some classes and explore.

Who makes you jealous?  While envy is not necessarily a good thing, envy can be a way to unearth some of our big, deep desires. Who have you been a little jealous of recently? Oprah? A Friend? A Colleague? Another Super Mom? Maybe it’s actually a clue to your being big.

What have you always wanted to do? Complete this sentence: “If money and time were no object, I would totally want to…” Work in Paris? Start a business? Start a blog? You could start today with a language tape, learning about entrepreneurship, or writing in a journal daily.

What are your forbidden fruits? Sometimes we tell ourselves that certain things are off limits, when really, it’s just a mirage created by our limiting beliefs. What seems off-limits to you but might be great fun if it weren’t “forbidden” in your mind? Maybe it’s a God whisper asking you to play a little bigger……  Speaking on Stage? Starting a blog? Writing a book?

THE SECOND THING

Once you are firmly pointed in the direction of your own bigness, you will undoubtedly meet the second thing about being big. As any hero will tell you, once you start heading in the direction of being big…once you take action toward your goals…the second thing undoubtedly shows up. And that thing is fear.

Here’s the secret about being big: you still get the socks scared off you on a regular basis. (Perhaps even more often!) But it no longer stops you. Spooks you, yes absolutely. Makes your knees go weak, without a doubt.  But when you’re living big, praying big and have faith, fear ceases to be a reason to quit.

Because you’ve got big things you want to do with that little hyphen of yours.

So I ask you are you living big? What does that even mean to you?

If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done…….Be sure to stay busy and plant a variety of crops, for you never know which will grow — perhaps they all will. Ecclesiastes 11: 4,6 (NLT)      Author’s content used under license, © 2011 Claire Communications

Giveaway

I’ve been working with some pretty amazing moms in a program called Light Your Fire and Faith and this is what’s happening for them; they are feeling a little less stuck on the gerbil wheel of life, they are doing things they enjoy, finding more time in a day, asking their bosses for things they have never been brave enough to ask for before, starting new jobs and companies and basically living the life they always dreamed of….I was wondering if you are feeling stressed or stuck right now? And if you might be looking for some guidance on how to do something a little bigger or enjoy your family more?

If that sounds like something you’ve been looking for, then I’m giving away a free hour long coaching session with me to someone who comments in the blog post below. We will randomly draw a name from the comments to see who our recipient will be and you will be well on your way to Light Your Fire and Faith!

Giveaway ends Monday, September 8th at 11:59 EST. Please be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win. :)

Visit Envision Possibilities’ Website.

Camera Shy – a note from Allume Photographer, Kim DeLoach

I returned home from our beach vacation this year without a single family photo.  Immediately, I brushed aside my own disappointment and jumped back into work to tackle the mounds of images of other families that awaited my return. Piles of images from mini-sessions, weddings, and other summer activities nearly knocked me over for weeks.

When I finally had time to revisit my personal images from our trip, I merely glanced at them and walked away repeatedly for more than a week. Why hadn’t we taken any pictures together?

In my time with the Lord one morning, I struggled to make peace with the nagging guilt and sadness I felt that among the selection of images of our kids playing and beach landscapes, there was not even one shot of my family together? With all of my own body image junk in tow, I had silently boycotted having photos taken of myself.

Nobody even knew or protested that my own insecurity was at the heart of the issue.

As I stilled my spirit on the porch that morning, I heard the Lord whisper “You don’t believe who I say that you are.” I allowed my concern about the world’s standard to rob me of a treasure that my photographer’s heart holds in high esteem.

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It was my pleasure to meet so many gorgeous women last year at Allume, and I know my own story resonates with many of you.   We have  accepted “camera shy” as a noble, lady-like characteristic. We shake our heads in bewilderment at the “selfie” generation we are parenting. We may even equate selfie activity to narcissism, because sometimes it’s easier to judge things that are unlike us than to attempt to understand a different generation.

But that morning sitting in the unusual cool breeze of July, my eyes were opened to my own sin.  By refusing to be photographed I was being “self-loathing” and “self- protecting”, both of which are close cousins to “self-importance.”

And in an effort to embrace who God created us to be, I’m asking you to consider being photographed this year at Allume. Lots of you are happy to pose in fun groups as long as I shoot from above and you can hide behind the gal beside you.  (You know what I’m talking about… I’m not making this up!)  But, if you haven’t had a recent  photograph of just you, please consider it.

I have connected with many of you this year, and I am amazed by your blogs. The Lord ministers to your audience through the way you pen the depths of the stories He is writing in your life. You share your hearts and  break into strong-holds of isolation as your readers discover someone who understands.  You minister to them, and they want to see you.My favorite part of Allume last year was quieting the lies you brought to the front of my camera when you looked at the back of my camera.  “I AM beautiful!”  I heard it over and over.  And sisters, Yes we are! We are images bearers of a beautiful God.

This year at Allume, I am offering 10 minute headshot sessions throughout the conference. Please sign up HERE. The session fee is $40. You will receive 3-4 edited images a few weeks after the conference. (Additional editing will be available with an added fee. All images are copyrighted to  Kim DeLoach Photography and should not be edited by another party.)

I can’t wait to see YOU this year and to celebrate that we are who God says we are!

With love,

Kim

speaker interview with emily wierenga

The gentle voice and soft eyes of Emily Weirenga immediately reveal her to be a person of authenticity who loves far and wide.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and holds it out as an offering to the Lord and to those who also need a shoulder to cry on or a friend to understand that this life can be a brutal place to live and grow.  Her writing is transporting and gifted, and her words are bold and brave.  Emily is a dear soul with a captivating mastery of the written word, and it is our pleasure to have her join us this year at Allume!  Please enjoy getting to know, Emily Weirenga!

Emily Wierenga - Allume 2014

What chore do you despise the most?

I despise folding (and putting away) laundry. It piles up, nine loads high, on my dryer, and often my husband ends up folding it.​ Laundry and I do not get along.

What sound do you love?

I love the sound of the dishwasher humming, because it makes me feel like I’m being productive. :) I also love the sound of my little boys’ feet on the floor, or of my husband parking his bike after a long day of work.

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

I would paint a picture of the hills beyond Kampala, Uganda, filled with beautiful children who’ve been rescued from the slum and are now being nourished through Destiny Villages of Hope. It would be a picture filled with just that–hope.

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

​I would learn how to make sushi.

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

I would like to be mentored by the late George Muehler, who started an orphanage in Germany and didn’t advertise or ask anyone for funds, but just prayed for everything he needed–and the funds poured in. Him, or Brother Lawrence. I wouldn’t mind washing dishes alongside Brother Lawrence, or serving the poor with Amy Carmichael. It’s very difficult to pick just one :)​

What do you do with 30 minutes of free time?

I do way too much–check social media, begin to write a blog post, answer a few emails about The Lulu Tree (www.thelulutree.com), make sure my kids keep eating their lunch while they watch Super Y (which is when I get 30 minutes to myself), and work on something related to my books.​

What would the dream birthday present be?

A trip around the world. But mostly to New Zealand, Ireland, Brazil and east Africa.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be wise. I also want to be a fun mother, and to have the kind of marriage that makes my kids want to get married.​

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

We would have baby potatoes from our garden, a lettuce salad using lettuce, tomatoes and onions from our garden, and some barbecued steak from a local farmer, topped with a glass of red wine made by my husband.

What are your 5 favorite books?

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill, and White Oleander by Janet Fitch.

 

Emily’s new book  Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I thought to Look, was released this year.

Head on over to her place and find out more about Atlas Girl and of course, our sweet friend, Emily :: Website /// Twitter /// Facebook /// Pinterest

Digital Photography Workshop with Allume Photographer Kim DeLoach

“My oven doesn’t make good cakes, my guitars don’t play good music, and my camera doesn’t take good photos…and neither does yours. It’s a pet peeve of all photographers only because it simply isn’t true…

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“Your camera takes really good photos” consistently only when the one holding it knows how to use it.

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YOU can take really good photos!

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So join me pre-conference for the Digital Photography Workshop and let’s take that camera off Program so you can begin to master the art of photography! We will study components of the camera, composition and lighting so that you can create eye catching photography that compliments your words to tell your story best!

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We will begin with an overview of camera settings, composition, and lighting then we’ll move into the streets of Greenville for hands on practice and personal instruction. Please bring your DSLR camera and its manual to class.

Instructor Information: Hi! I’m Kim DeLoach, SC Portrait and Wedding Photographer for more than a decade.

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I love light! I think every subject can become an object of sheer beauty when just the right light hits it and I love capturing that beauty for my clients. I’m so excited to be heading up the photography team for Allume for the second year. I can’t wait to see all of you!

5 Tips for Living in the Moment

5 Tips for Living in the Moment

Warm welcome to Matt Knisely on behalf of Thomas Nelson!

I never use to be concerned with time. I never cared about it, nor did I care how I would spend my day; I let it passively slip away—until now. Maybe it has something to do with age or the intensity of life and how it’s winding down, like the grandfather clock that stood in the corner of my grandparents’ home.

Regardless, I’m consumed with it now.

Time is precious. But even more valuable to me are the liminal spaces that link one instance of time to another and how they are strung together, not haphazardly, but carefully woven into the tapestry of life. They are the moments of life itself, and they have me captivated. However, fully living in these moments, when our world seems organized against it is just . . . hard!

My camera helps me focus on what’s in front of me and not let the moment slip away. Most people are looking for these big, magical moments that grab your attention like something you see on America’s Funniest Home Videos or read about online. But our lives are made up of intimate moments . . . of memories big and small . . . like meeting the love of your life for the first time . . . or when you say goodbye to someone you love for the last time . . . or the time your child grasps your face with her chubby fingers and says, “You’re my best daddy”. . . or the moment you finally choose forgiveness over hate.

Time, while it’s fleeting, holds wonderful things that only change with its passage . . . the delicate features of a newborn, the wobbly steps of a toddler, the pure innocence of childhood, the special moments between you and your spouse, and the remarkable bonds in a family. Photography has allowed me to see life with a whole new lens: to capture time in an instant and relive that moment’s story forever. It’s allowed me to live a fuller life and to see the beauty of every second of the day.

Here are five ideas to help you live in the moment and see the extraordinary:

  1. Right Here, Right Now

It’s more than the title of a song from the ‘90s. It’s a state of awareness and about being present, getting rid of the distractions, booting down, turning off the TV, setting down your phone and forcing yourself to slow down, do less and live slowly.

  1. Pay Attention To The Little Things

It’s the subtle moments that make life grand. If we spend time being conscious observers and conscious listeners, we capture the simplest details. Those details are the juice, the essence of our life’s story; what moves each of us and stirs our souls.

  1. Get Lost

Lose Control. Have Fun. Play. Be Curious. Replenish. When’s the last time you stopped to watch the wind sway through the majestic trees around you? Or sat down in the middle of a lush green park and enjoyed the laughter of children playing? Give a gift to yourself and just enjoy the world around you.

  1. Move Forward

It’s the only direction we are given. When the intensity of life is breathing down our back, don’t worry about it, leave all worry in the rearview mirror, because you cannot go back. Be positive and you will find a sense of peace and calm in the middle of a stressful and chaotic world.

  1. Be Thankful

Take a moment to be thankful for the things you have been given. Every morning we have a brief moment to sip a hot cup of coffee. Every morning we squint at the bright rays of the sun hitting our eyes. Every day the cool water splashes our sleepy face. Every time someone greets us, “Good morning!” Every time we see that sweet smile on our loved one’s face. Every time we decide to help someone who asked us for a favor. These are just some of the many brief moments we forget to be thankful for.

We live life at an alarming rate and the moments that hold it together are lost if we are not focused on them. The most precious and defining moments in your life are the ones you are present for. They are the ones you seize. They are the one’s you are awake to experience. They are the moments worth waiting for.

Matt Knisely,
MattKnise.ly

Visit Thomas Nelson and check out Matt’s book, Framing Faith.

Photo: DollarPhotoClub.com

Measuring Sticks, Insecurity, and Some Conference Advice

Size Platform Measure Worth 2

I begin in the west and fly halfway across the country before I finally arrive for the conference. The driver picks me up at the airport and I’m reunited with my online friend who started her journey this morning in the east.

We chat a mile a minute and look forward to seeing our “smaller” blogger friends and many of our “bigger” blogger friends too.

During the conference I meander through sessions with my “smaller” blogger friends, all the while casually noticing who’s interacting with whom. I watch the “bigger” bloggers interact with their own circles of friends, while I engage with mine—looking them in the eye, listening, and relating.

But I deceive myself, because while I think I’m fully present in each conversation, in reality I’m partly absent. And as the conference presses on, I realize I’m disappointed when my “bigger” blogger friends have not initiated a fuller connection with me.

And it’s the last day of the conference when God convicts me of a cold hard truth.

My disappointment is a symptom of my illness—the virus of insecurity—hovering like a flu.

It has infected me. And I ache with its uncertainty while questions linger…

Do I matter?

Do I fit in?

Do “they” notice me or even want to be my real friend?

That last afternoon I leave the lunch table with my friend Alia, and make my way across the room toward our other roommate Amy—my in-real-life friend and newbie blogger—who has come with me to the conference.

And as we approach, she immediately turns to us, as if our timing is perfect.

“Hey guys! There’s someone I want you to meet.
This is Jennifer, another newbie.
And at lunch I asked her which of the “bigger” bloggers she most wanted to meet here.
And you know who she said?
Jacque Watkins and Alia Joy.
So I told her I could probably hook her up, since you guys are my roommates.”

I startle, like a deer caught in headlights.

Did she actually just say my name with the phrase “bigger” blogger?

Shocked on the inside, I greet Jennifer with a smile, flattered and completely stunned anyone would consider me a “bigger” blogger. She is sweet and gracious—a tea-drinking mama of four. And after our delightful interaction, I’m better for having met her.

As I fly home, reflecting on the conference, the Holy Spirit woos and convicts me again.

During the conference I wasted so much mental time, and internal dialogue, wondering if I’d get to build deeper relationships with  “bigger” bloggers.

While probably there were others there, who would’ve loved to build a deeper relationship with me.

And the recognition of this truth is like medicine for my ill and insecure heart.

Could it be possible everyone thinks of themselves as a “smaller blogger” and is waiting for that “bigger blogger” to initiate a connection?

Could it be that no matter who we are, there will always be someone “bigger”  to look to? That the one we see as a “bigger” blogger has an even “bigger-blogger” person they’d love to be pursued by too?

And could it be, that to someone, somewhere in the world, YOU are the “bigger blogger”?

That there is one someone scanning the room–looking for you—wishing they could meet YOU?

Hoping YOU’D go out of your way to pursue a connection with THEM?

No matter the size of our platform, we are all asking the same questions at our core:

Do I matter?

Do I fit in?

Would they really want to be my friend?

And the real truth is, our worth and purpose and significance is not dependent on whether a “bigger” blogger knows our name or pursues a friendship with us.

And we need the real truth to sink deep into the crevices of our hearts:

We all matter and fit in because we are His.

He chose us.

And He has great things planned for each of us to do.

So what if, instead of finding our validation from the “bigger bloggers” in our lives, we find our soul’s validation in our time spent with Jesus?

Allowing His Word to inform our starving souls of who He is,

And the truth of who we are because of Him…

Chosen.

Beloved.

Redeemed.

The child of God.

We are eternally valuable regardless of the size of our platform. 

And the size of our platform does not measure the worth of our soul. 

[Tweet that]

So when we set foot inside the walls of the Allume conference this October…

What if we become the initiators of connection because our security in Christ compels us to do so with whomever God places in our path?

What if we say hi first? Flash a smile first? Begin the conversation first, as a people who love in His name?

What if we stay fully present with whomever we’re with—refusing to allow our minds to be “noticing” the room?

And what if we make an effort, to not only hang out with our “people,” but to branch out to new circles of beautiful people? So that no one leaves feeling small and alone.

May we remember we are in this together…

Cheering for each other,

Fighting to believe who He says we are,

And really knowing we ARE already enough because of Him.

I can’t wait to see you at Allume!

Will you be there?

 

speaker interview with denise hughes

Friends,

She is a talented writer and teacher of the art of the written word… as in, for real, she actually teaches composition to students at Azusa Pacific University in the greater Los Angeles Area.  Denise is a gentle spirit who brings an understanding of how our words have the power to transform, and her expertise brings great wisdom to empower us all to use our words well.  Please enjoy getting to know a bit more about Allume Speaker and friend, Denise Hughes.

Denise Hughes SQ

1. What sound do you love?

The quiet. I gravitate toward quiet corners and quiet hearts. I also love the sound of water. Pattering raindrops. Trickling brooks. Hushing streams. Swooshing waves.

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

 I’d learn to play the drums. (Did I just say I love the quiet?) My older brother is a professional drummer, and when we were kids, I used to watch my brother play his drum set while blasting songs by Journey and Toto on our family stereo. It always amazed me how all four limbs could maintain a different syncopated rhythm at the same time. It still amazes me.

 3. What chore do you despise the most? 

Cooking. I’d much rather spend my time reading or writing than spending two-plus hours in the kitchen trying to prepare a meal that likely won’t turn out right anyway.

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

I’d order take-out from Olive Garden. Having company is a great excuse not to cook.

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

I grew up in a small farm town, and I rode my bike over to Grandma’s house every day. Grandma always greeted me with a smile and a chocolaty treat. We would play Chinese Checkers all afternoon. She would show me stuff in her Almanac too — crazy facts about the world that she wished she could have explored. So someday (in the far, far future) I want to be a grandma like my grandma when I grow up.

 6. What was your favorite food as a kid?

Whatever Grandma was making. (It usually involved a box of Pop-Tarts and a toaster oven.)

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

Other than my grandma, I’ve never had a mentor — at least not in any official capacity. But my books have mentored me. The Bible, first and foremost, has re-trained my thinking. Authors like C.S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, A.W. Tozer, and Mark Buchanan have mentored me through their writing as well. If I could pick anyone as a mentor, I’d have to say Beth Moore. I own every Bible study she’s written. And when my church takes a summer or Christmas break from women’s Bible studies, I go through a study by Beth Moore on my own. I am deeply indebted to her and her ministry.

8. If gifted an all-expenses-paid vacation to anywhere, where would you pick?

 My dream weekend getaway would be to Green Bay, Wisconsin to see the Packers play at Lambeau Field.

 9. What’s in your purse?

More library cards than credit cards. A notebook. Several pens. And a small purse-sized game schedule for every NFL team. (A girl’s gotta keep track of the win/loss records and the pending playoff picture.)

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

 This morning. Every morning really. Our next-door neighbor is an empty-nester in her mid-fifties; she’s also a widow who lives with Multiple Sclerosis. She walks with a cane, and she moves through her day with a quiet grace. It’s our son’s job to bring her garbage cans to the curb and back on Tuesdays. And we check on her frequently, especially if we haven’t seen her outside in a day or so. She has our numbers too, so she can call us whenever she needs anything. But I can’t take any credit for our relationship with our neighbor. The truth is, my husband lost both of his parents at a young age, so he has a huge heart for widows and orphans. He’s the one who first reached out to our neighbor. My husband has taught me much about real faith.

11. 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 used to dream of being a teacher. When I was little, I would line up my stuffed animals along the edge of my bed, and I would teach them lessons on my small chalkboard. When I graduated from high school, I started working full-time during the day, so it took me ten years of night classes to finish my bachelor’s degree. It took me another couple of years to finish my teaching credential. And three more years of night classes to finish my master’s degree. Today, I teach composition and literature. And I love it. I wouldn’t change a thing. It was an arduous road that took a very long time, but by God’s grace, I am living my dream every day. I never take it for granted.

12. What are your 5 favorite books?

 The Bible

 The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

 That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

 The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

 The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

 

Want to know more about Denise?   Website /// Twitter /// Facebook /// Pinterest

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Normal People. Doing Good. Changing the World.

HelpOneNow

Have you ever been scared to do something? Something outside of your comfort zone? Something that may change…everything?

Deep in our hearts, we battle with this notion that we were born for a reason, for something bigger, but, we are also scared. We fear that maybe, just maybe, our lives will be flipped upside down, that we will take “living on mission” a bit too far, and once we cross the proverbial line, can we go back to normal, comfort, excess?

So we became paralyzed.

And, speaking of normal – what does that even mean?  Who’s normal and who’s not?

I was living a very “normal” life in Austin, TX; everything was going good. I had a great marriage, two amazing daughters, a new house, and even a new puppy. I was planting a church with some of the best people in the world, and my wife’s business was thriving. Plus, I had never ending access to amazing Texas BBQ and Tex-Mex. Could life get any better?

All of these things are good and beautiful, as long as they don’t become idols.

 

A Life Interrupted Is A Life Inspired

 

The beauty of the gospel is simple–God’s ways are better than our ways. The path that God leads us down is the best path. I had to learn that the hard way.

I had to learn after years of ignoring that “still small voice” that was gnawing at my soul, that voice that was trying to bring to light the plight of the orphan, widow, and slave.

But, I was too comfortable to obey, to lean in, to care. It took me five years to say YES!

I finally relented and took a trip to Zimbabwe. On that trip, I had a moment that changed everything for me. I met a starving orphan at an abandoned gas station. He was hungry, thirsty, and desperate. He asked me if he could work for me to earn money, as he did not want to beg for food.

He was eight years old.

And he wanted a job.

I looked this desperate orphan in the eye, and I told him I could not help.  As we drove away, I was broken. Five years later, I’m still broken. But, it was that moment that helped me realize that God uses normal people to change the world.

A Radical Normal

I started Help One Now to catalyze everyday, normal people to engage extreme poverty by partnering with local leaders (nationals) who are already caring for orphan kids and working to see their communities transformed through spiritual development, education, job creation, and healthcare.

When I returned from my trip in Zimbabwe, I began to have conversations with friends who wanted to help, but they did not know how to do it. So, we began to create simple tools, like our Garage Sale for Orphans initiative.

Over the last few years, we raised close to $500,000 to help fight poverty. We used these funds to bring clean water to desperate communities, create jobs through micro-lending, build houses for those who lost homes in the Haiti earthquake, and in the last year, we’ve rescued over 40 kids from trafficking in Haiti.

Our excess is being used to crush poverty and see communities thrive!

Join the Movement

We did all of this, and much more, by normal, everyday people saying “yes” to throwing a garage sale party, picking a project that they’re passionate about, and donating the funds of the garage sale to that project. These people are the new radical–a crazy tribe of doers who refuse to make excuses, but choose to engage in issues that God is passionate about.

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Yet, we all know that life is busy and stressful and sometimes overwhelming, and we all need to find pathways to help us engage and make a difference. That’s what Garage Sale for Orphans is all about.

We’re on a mission to raise $1,000,000 in the next two years to fight global extreme poverty.

I’m asking you, the Allume Community, to be part of this movement;

Sign Up Here H1N

Rally some friends and family, throw a garage sale party, pick a project, and make a difference.

To Trust

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“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
-Helen Keller

At 5, I battled death. In 24 hours my father and brother descended from a village in the mountains where the clouds gathered around ankles cresting along the Himalayas. My mother had given them my diagnosis, the one we got when my body wilted and my fever spiked and the doctors shook their heads and recommended Western medical care.

They  packed  things at a frantic pace and lifted off with their sick child sprawled across their laps. Nepal is no place to fight leukemia, especially in the early 80′s.

We flew to Holland. Prayer circled and swirled around me for those weeks I lay dwarfed by the hospital bed.

But they prayed the fervent prayer only mothers of sick kids know. Knees bent to the ground, hands held, and voices lifted with petitions for me, a child who knew only that the needles hurt, the room was cold, and the Dutch nurses lack bedside manner.

I lived. Healed, really. And it became a part of my story. Why we left Nepal and eventually went back to Hawaii. This is why we had to leave third world missions. This is why my parents had to seek out God’s will in a country they never felt truly a part of, America. But as a child, I never really questioned the trust that was required.

As a mother myself, I can’t fathom the confusion and despair that would surround me if my child was threatened and their life was asked for. Would I be able to trust?

My mother came to a place in her heart during those hospital nights grasping my tiny hand where she was able to say “Yes Lord, if this is your will. I will trust you.” My mother who worries and frets about the funniest little things. Who we joke has a forever furrowed brow and always methodically thinks through things. And yet, she is a woman of amazing faith.

Going to Nepal with two small children and a promise of $75/month in support. Trusting that God would see them through.

It is such an odd dichotomy. That one could have faith to do the enormous, but  fear enough to hinder the modest.

But I think I may know why. Sometimes faith is easier in the crisis. What other option do you really have? You can trust or you can… flail against the inevitable? But when it is drawn out, it  becomes harder. To have faith in the small things when there are other routes you could take and avoid having to trust completely. To still be willing to walk the called even if you could take a different path.

Trust is hard, but are we still willing to walk the called because it is His voice that is calling?

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