When God Uses Writer’s Block

Writers block

Lately, I’ve experienced a bit of a writing drought. I’ve been parched, searching and hungering for the right words to express. But the words themselves seem to stay stuck deep down within me, unable to quench my desire to share.

For months I hemmed and hawed about this, chalking it up to writer’s block. I wondered why I was unable to puncture this wall that stood between me and my keyboard, between me and my journal even.

And then recently, while I had my face on the floor before the Lord I heard a whisper. A whisper telling me, ‘this is why’. It was as if He had gently rested His arm on my shoulder and was pointing out a vast chasm within my heart. In the middle of the chasm stood a wall, a wall that blocked my view of the why; why my words had dried up. He then nudged that wall with the tip of His finger, that wall that stood between me and my words. It was at that moment that I realized that that very wall was also blocking my heart from Him. And as He nudged it, it began to crumble, but it didn’t come crashing down as I had hoped. It was as if He had an invitation for me, something waiting on the other side of that wall, but before He tore it down He wanted me to embark on a journey with Him. A journey of healing.

As writers who have been called to write for Him, we know that our words come from somewhere deep within us.  We understand that we do not write for accolades and prestige, but instead we realize that it’s woven into the very fabric of how He’s made us. It’s how we reflect Him, He uses it to heal us, and often it’s when we hear Him the most. But when walls spring up and we can’t hear the words He has written on our heart, that’s when we should pause. That’s when we should listen.

I walked around hungry for words for months, yet I remained in this fog; ignorant as to why this barrier remained in my life.  Meanwhile, the writer inside me was straining to get words out. And that’s when He met me on the floor.

You see, I have been struggling with forgiveness, and because of that my words and more notably my relationship with God turned stale.  I was wronged, greatly wronged by someone very close to me; and rather than take these wounds I received to the Cross as our Lord commands, I put on a bandaid of sorts and carried on. I fully expected my heart to continue to beat and the sun to rise each morning- for life to continue as normal. I downplayed my inability to write and refused to recognize it as a red flag of the sin in my heart. 

When our words dry up writing friends, it is a clue that we should step away from the screen {or the page} and go straight to His feet. It is only when we are pure and obedient before God that our words can have the eternal impact that we long for. Meaningful words are fleeting apart from Him.

And although I wish I could tell you that this drought has ended and that the rain has come, I still crawl to the Cross daily longing for Him to meet me. I fight each morning to truly understand forgiveness and I ask Him to infuse it deep into my core, into the marrow of my bones. I find I have to constantly remind myself that despite my wounded heart, I have inflicted just as great of wounds upon Him through my own sin. This daily wrestle is a journey, but it is one that I am grateful for. And it is with tears streaming down my cheeks that I can attest to the fact that He is faithful. This writer is slowly getting her writing-groove back and the words are bubbling back to the surface. I can honestly say, the words are only flowing because He is knocking that wall down, He is doing a work in me.

I’d love to challenge you, my sweet writing friend. Are you struggling to get your words out? Do you have sin standing between you and God? Ask Him to show you, and sit back and wait for Him to gently nudge you on the shoulder and point out what’s holding your words inside.

I pray that your written ministry is glorifying to Him, sanctifying for you, and a shining beacon for your readers.

By, Mandy Scarr

Photo Credit-  Mandy’s husband, J, took this picture.

You Are Now the Proud Owners of an Outreach House

Allume! Guess what?

You are now the proud owners of an Outreach House. Specifically, The Sole Hope Outreach House in Jinga, Uganda.

13march105

We (Logan & Carey) have spent the last week with Sole Hope experiencing the daily grind of what they do in remote villages when it comes to jigger (sand flea) removal and education. The ministry they provide is beyond amazing and we have been so encouraged by the light they bring to what plagues this community.

13march126

What our eyes have seen has been painful but nothing was more gut wrenching than what we experienced today. Sole Hope has a new emerging ministry in their Outreach Center but it needs someone to take ownership of it so it can thrive. And we are the perfect people to do that!

(175 of 180)

The Outreach Center now known as the Allume Wellness Center takes in the kids with the extreme cases of jiggers in hidden villages and cares for them beyond what a day clinic can cover. At the Wellness Center they are cared for by an on-site nurse and given much needed medical attention. They receive continuing education about jiggers, given new pairs of shoes made from your jeans, and returned to their village with a new sense of hope.

13march085 This is a ministry that was thrust upon Sole Hope and they took it on graciously but they need resources to make it happen. These kids need beds, they need a joy-filled place to stay, and they need our support Allume. Through Pure Charity you can give to the Allume Wellness Center and make an impact in the lives of children seeking relief from the pain of jigger removal. So get busy Allume! Start sharing, getting creative, and do what you can to make an impact in these little lives.

13march019

When We Are Searching For Something

If you search hard enough or long enough or earnestly enough, then you will find something.  It might be what you are looking for…or it might not. 

Searching for Something

 

By the time this blog post is published, I expect that I will have buried my 92 year old father.  He and my 91 year old mother celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on February 13, 2014.  As I write this, my dad has suffered a stroke and is lying in a hospital bed, in the living room of the home he and my mother have shared for many years.  He isn’t doing well at all.  And we didn’t expect him to survive the last few days, but he is still hanging on.  I am certain the end is near.

As I have waited for the phone call saying he has passed away and I should begin to make arrangements to return Arkansas for the funeral, I have searched for some things.

I have searched for answers.

I have searched for peace.

I have searched for comfort.

I haven’t found any answers, but I have found some peace and comfort.  One of my favorite verses is 1 Peter 5:7 “casting all you care upon him, because he cares for you.”

I can do that.  I can give all my cares and troubles and worry to Him…he has big, strong shoulders that can carry the weight of my troubles and the sorrow associated with losing a parent. 

His shoulders are big and strong enough to carry your troubles too.

As I walk this path of waiting and sorrow, I am reminded that I can give my troubles to him.  He will carry the burden and I can just walk the path, with him holding my hand.  Or maybe he will carry me.

The search for comfort and peace ends with Him.  In the end, I know that I will see my dad again. 

And my searching for answers?  Well, that search may continue.  We don’t always get an answer from God when we ask for one, like Logan did before Allume 2013.  But I take comfort in the promise of life after death.  And the fact that I don’t have to carry the burden alone. 

And maybe, just maybe that is the answer.

Are you searching for something?  Is it right under your nose?  If you found it, was it what you were looking for or was it something else?

Join the Allume Facebook Community

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

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

Logan in Uganda with Sole Hope

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

Logan and Carey with Sole Hope

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

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

Community Begins with Your Unique Voice

Community Begins With Your Unique Voice

Since this is our inaugural post for the Allume Community Writers, we would like to introduce ourselves first.

community_unique2Hi! I’m Caroline.  And this is my friend Karrie.

We met each other almost 11 years ago in Akron, Ohio.  Karrie was in high school & I was a sleep-deprived mother of 2 toddlers at the time.  Karrie quickly became a necessity in my life as a babysitter & sanity saver.  2 more kids later & 16 moves between the two of us, Karrie is no longer our babysitter, but she’s still my sanity saver!

Karrie & the TeSelle kids circa 2009

Karrie & the TeSelle kids circa 2009

From the very beginning, we have done life together & built community – sharing the good, the bad & the ugly.  We have not let geography or our 15-year age difference hinder that.

It was because of our friendship & life built around community & our desire to help others that led us to start working together as virtual assistants.

What does all of this have to do with being a part of the Allume community?

Community begins with your unique voice.

We recognize that you have a unique voice in this world.  Your life and your experiences are uniquely you. You’re here because you have recognized the opportunity to share that with the world through the avenue of blogging.

What is our unique voice?

Our unique voice is to help & encourage others.  Right now, we’re doing that in a virtual way.  We are here as a part of the Allume community to HELP YOU.

We see this as an opportunity to get to know you {build community}, hear your dream {encourage your unique voice}, then point you in a direction of figuring out how to achieve that dream {grow your influence}.

In the coming months, we will cover topics ranging from writing a great purpose statement for your blog, interviews with the experts, working with affiliates, widgets we love & much more.

…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. Logan Wolfram

Most importantly, we’re here for the community, sharing the good, the bad & the ugly. Walking together, living well & full – that’s community.  Building upon those relationships will help grow your influence & make a difference in this world.

We’ve introduced ourselves, now it’s your turn. We want to get to know you better.

Take that first step of walking together in this community.

What is your unique voice?  Share it with us in the comments below.

Blogging with Kids: A How-To Guide

bloggingwithkids1

Ahhh yes. Blogging with Kids. It is kind of like Married with Children except there are no side ponytails and reckless cursing (hopefully!) and you are not married to your blog. But even in this season with young children, you CAN find the time to write and write effectively. Here are a few tips to get you off the ground (or that pile of matchbox cars you just fell in):

1.) Seize the Moment

One of my favorite quotes from Kat Lee, mom blog encourager extraordinaire from blogs such as Inspired to Action and How They Blog, is this: “Steal the hours in the day that no one in your family wants“. In other words, write when they are sleeping. Or napping. Or at grandmas. Take the hours in the day that are devoted to you and your children and do just that: SPEND TIME WITH THEM. But when it is 5am and it is quiet in the house? Steal those hours and seize the moments. Write with that warm cup of coffee and watch the sunrise. Write in carpool lines or  a few minutes on your lunch break. Take advantage of that time right after you give those good night kisses and close the door. Maybe you are a nursing mama? Write in your head. If you are anything like me, I carry around stories in my mind all the time.  Even if your child is an early riser, simply taking advantage of the snippets of time we are given can produce beautiful works of art!

bloggingwithkids4

2.) Write Fast

One of the many fantastic sessions from Allume 2012 was Tricia Goyer’s Balancing Blogging and Children. Having children does limit that writing time (hence seizing the moment above!) but she suggests learning to WRITE FAST. Sit down, produce the work. Sometimes I have to mull over exactly how to say what needs to be said, but when I have a focused time and sit down to write? Many times that helps me to write something. Just something. Just being able to get my heart on paper helps. I tend to carry a pack of 3×5 index cards with me, just to scribble down notes in case I forget them. This works well when we are out at the park, mall play area, even a museum. I don’t want to be hooked to a device when I am around my children. A simple pencil and paper approach gets the thoughts saved in an old-school manner, and you have a mini-outline when you are in “write fast” mode. Or take a simple picture for inspiration!

bloggingwithkids3

3.) Involve Them!

I wrote a post for Allume last year entitled “Let Them See You Write” . Sometimes we get nervous that our passions and our interests will take away or negate our season of caring for children. I say involve them! Let them see that writing is a tool to share God’s love with the world. Ask them for writing ideas. Use their funny sayings and sweet sentiments as inspiration. Even if you are a blogger who chooses not to include pictures of your children or their real names, you can still share your works with them, show their tiny hands playing in the mud, whatever inspires you! Involving my children in my writing, just as my grandfather involved me as a little girl, has been a blessing and a practice I will continue well into their teenage and adult years.

 

bloggingwithkids2

 Blogging with kids can be an adventure–but you are recording memories that generations upon generations can read, and being your very own family’s historian. Also of note? As soon as I finished this post, my youngest had a major “potty accident”. Got these 600 words in, just in the nick of time!

How to Write Your Story

How to Write Your Story - Allume
Many bloggers venture into this online space because they have a story to tell.

So if you’re interested in blogging your story, here are some tips on how to write your story.

First you’ll want to determine your borders. Then you’ll want to use the three-pronged approach to story-crafting.

Determine Your Borders

For most writers, getting started is the hardest part. Beginning a new writing project is like trying to hold a blob of JELL-O in our hands. It’s shapeless and messy. And we can easily become overwhelmed at trying to figure out how to contain it. So our first order of business is to determine our content and give it some borders.

To get started, think of the individual “scenes” from your story that you might want to include. Sketch a short list of these scenes. Then select one scene. In other words, select a part of your story that happened in one location on the same day.

By drawing these parameters and working with one scene at a time, we can avoid becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the entire writing project.

Use the Three-Pronged Approach to Story-Crafting

In the literary world, every written work can be categorized as either fiction or nonfiction — except personal narratives. They’re a literary breed of their own, and they employ the techniques of both fiction and nonfiction.

A personal narrative must read like a novel with an overarching theme. It has all the elements of fiction — characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution — except that it’s a true story. Since personal narratives tell a true story, they should follow the same three-pronged approach to story-crafting.

The three ways to present a story are 1) description, 2) dialogue, and 3) narration.

The difference between description and narration lies in the advancement of the plot. When we describe, we stop to notice what the setting or a character looks like. When we narrate, we move the storyline along by showing what happens next.

1. Description

When describing, include the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Who is in this scene?
Where does this scene take place?
When does this scene take place?
What is happening in the scene?

To craft a well-written story, we want to follow the advice: Show. Don’t tell.

The “sin of telling” is least probable in dialogue.
The “sin of telling” occurs most often in description and narration.

If a sentence begins with one of the following constructions, then it’s likely a “telling” statement. Scan your writing for any sentences that begin with these phrases. Then try to rewrite them.

It is/was . . .
It has . . .
There is/was . . .
There are/were . . .
There has/have . . .
I remember when . . .
I remember that . . .
She is/was . . .
He is/was . . .

2. Dialogue

When writing dialogue, aim for a conversational sound. People don’t usually speak in complete sentences. Most people talk in fragments, so our dialogue should reflect the way people actually talk.

Let your characters speak. Allow your readers to follow your story by listening to the conversations that take place.

3. Narration

To write your personal narrative, choose the following two things:

  • your point of view
  • the tense you will use

For point of view, some narrators have the ability to know the thoughts of other characters in the story, but since you’re a character in your own story, it’s more realistic if you present your story from your own perspective. So be careful not to “head hop” and portray other characters from their perspective.

For tense, you need to decide if you will write your story in the present tense or past tense. Obviously your story took place in the past, so you might automatically begin writing in the past tense. But remember that your reader is experiencing your story for the first time. It might help your reader feel like she is “in the moment with you” if you write your story in the present tense.

For the Blogger

If you’re a blogger who writes DIY kinds of posts, many of these same tips apply.

It’s important for all bloggers to determine the borders of each post. Containing a post to one singular focus helps our readers to follow a consistent train of thought. It’s also helpful when bloggers include descriptive words regarding sight and sound and touch. This helps our readers visualize what we’re saying.

And if you’re a blogger who wishes to write your story, I want to encourage you. Your story matters. Try some of these tips. See what works for you. And no matter what, don’t give up.

What are some of your favorite writing tips?

Tips on How to Write Your Story @Allume <Tweet this!>

Letter from Logan: A People of Living Invitation

130129_FH_024_web

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

 

Mary & Martha Coffee Set Giveaway!

marko6390

WOOT WOOT!

It is day three of our little launch week celebration! Only two more days now until tickets go on sale!

Today we get to giveaway some coffee goodness, thanks to Allume sponsor Mary & Martha!

“Mary & Martha is a way of living life, to live in the “&” of loving God and Loving Others. Realizing people are the point, not the perfect home. We invite you to let go of the illusion of perfection and join us in just being real about our hectic lives.” 

We love not just the beautiful products that Mary & Martha offer, but the heart behind the company so aligns with our hearts of true Biblical hospitality… which is a state of the heart towards others.  Mary & Martha encourage and teach women that hosting people can be simple and a life lived in community is a full one!  We are thrilled to parther with them again this year at Allume and are excited to share some of the fun items they offer!

So, what’s up for grabs today?

This Coffee Carafe, Creamer & Sugar set:

marko3021

And their new Burundi Coffee:

marko6391

Oh. Coffee. I love you.

To enter, just fill out the form below!

Heaps of Love,

Logan and Sarah Mae

a Rafflecopter giveaway