Carey and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Allume.

carey and theI remember being absolutely terrified to attend my first Allume (it was called Relevant) in 2011. I knew no one. I had found my roommate via Twitter and was just crossing my fingers that she was legit. I had a blog but I wasn’t some super serious blogger. I was mostly attending because I was watching Christian woman connect via the interwebs and I liked what I saw. Sure, there were also selfishly motives. I wanted to learn how to get the word out about my daily devotional for moms, grow in my writing skills, be challenged by new view points and maybe (just maybe) create some new friendships with people who liked things I liked.

The shuttle ride from the hotel to the airport set the tone for weekend. It was filled with people “I knew” or had at least seen comment or guest post in cool places. In my head I had a zillion questions to ask and while I wanted to be chatty and connect that just wasn’t in my nature. I am shy. Plus I am an introvert. Not a great combination for an overcrowded van of women and their luggage.  It felt as if I was sitting on the outside of a glass enclosed room, watching all these woman be fully capable of diving right into diverse conversations, and I was unable to get it. It was lonely and I knew I was in for a long few days. I was totally wishing I was moving to Australia. Arriving at the hotel I watched as women hugged, squealed and did the happy dance all over the place for each other. It looked like such fun. Women gathered in groups and took silly pictures in the photo booths and sat in circles on the lounge floor having deep and meaningful conversations and while I longed to be a part I really wasn’t sure how to do that. I mean seriously, do you just walk up to a group of strangers and say “you sure look like you are having soooo much fun. Can I crash it?” I remember being thankful that the lounge was filled with lots of decor so I could walk around looking at the walls and not just seeming desperate and wishing someone would have asked if I wanted to join in their floor gathering. (I was having horrible flashbacks to the 1st day of 6th grade lunch room. Ug!)

I can remember standing in the stairwell of the hotel texting with my “in real life friends”, tears streaming down my face, and just wishing that someone there knew me so I didn’t seem so invisible. It was terrible, horrible, no good and I was definitely having a very bad Allume. I promise, I don’t mean to scare you! Hang with me.

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As we enter our new July series: Friendship I wanted us to take some time to examine friendship in the context of the conference. For some, attending Allume is a reunion of friendships that they look forward to all year. Girls stay up all night and have oooh so0000 much fun! Others meet their table mates at Thursday night dinner and have instant new buds that become lifelong friends and then there is the “me” type. Are you the “me” type? Are you coming alone, desiring to be brave, but needing a little kick in the cute jeans to get there? If that is you will you allow me to provide you some ideas so you don’t wind up in the fetal position?

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1. Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer!

After the 2011 conference I had zero plans to attend again. I mean why would I fly across the country to spend 4 days feeling insecure and crying in a stairwell? But as the 2012 tickets went on sale I found my heart wishing I had a “do over”. I wanted to try again. This time with my best foot forward. I bought a ticket. A few weeks before the conference I saw a tweet that said if we wanted to help volunteer with decorations we should email this gal named Logan. I sent her an email and told her that I was happy to help. In my mind it would give me something to do rather than sit around wishing someone was going to invite me into their awesome pow-wow circle. When I arrived someone pointed me towards Logan and it was clear that there was LOTS to get done. I could tell she had a plan but she wasn’t sure if she could trust me to execute it to her liking. Attending to details of decor was something I knew without a shadow of a doubt I could handle. So I grabbed the face of this woman I just met, looked her straight in the eyes, and said “I can do this! Just tell me what you need.” The rest is kinda history. After the 2012 conference Sarah Mae gave Logan ownership of the conference and Logan asked me to come along side her as the Creative Director. What a ride! If you have any fears about connecting at the conference please choose to volunteers. It gets you outside your own head and it is super helpful to us!

P.S. If there is ever a moment of loneliness for you at the conference will you make me a promise? Will you come to the registrations tables, ask someone to point you towards Carey Bailey and then grab me by the face and tell me you need a place to volunteer. I will 100% get it.

2. Create a Be Brave Moment. 

At the 2011 conference I can remember listening to Sara Sophia share during one of the writing panels. I was enamored. I connected with her style and wanted to know more. Despite the whirlwind of insecurities happening inside me that weekend I decided to send her a private message via twitter thanking her for all that she had shared during the session and I asked her if she might have any time to connect. To my surprise she replied back and said “sure!” We sat in the lounge and I got to have some one-on-one time (much more my comfort zone) to just explore more of what she had said during her session. We didn’t become new found BFF’s and she probably doesn’t even remember that but for me it was a brave moment in which I took a risk that I look back on fondly. What will your be brave moment be?

3. Do Unto Others as You Wish Others Would Do Unto You.  

Are you wishing someone would invite you to jump into their photo booth shots? Then invite someone else flying solo to jump into a shot with you. Are you wanting to dive deeper into some of the topics hit on?  Then ask some of your meal table mates to meet you at a certain time to keep the conversation going. Are you longing for a buddy to sit with at meals? Then ask the person next to you at Friday morning breakfast for their number, let them know you will save them a place for lunch and then text them where you are sitting. I have learned that no one is intentionally trying to leave anyone out and that the famous lounge floor circles are open to any and all but for those of us who don’t excel in the land of lots of people we either have to be willing to tap on a shoulder of someone we don’t know and ask to come in or be okay with alone time. Allume can feel like a terrible, horrible, no good , very bad weekend for those of us shy people coming alone or we can be willing walk forward in confidence trusting that God will put the right people in front of us at the just right time.

This will be my fifth Allume and that is coming from a girl who swore to never go back again after my 1st year. Every year I learn something new. Every year I grow.  And every year God pushes me way out of my comfort zone. And for that I am thankful.

Black Friday tickets y’all!

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Oh yes.. those Super Early Bird Tickets.. just 10 of those bad boys go on sale THIS FRIDAY, black Friday… at midnight, EST.

That means as the clocks roll from Thanksgiving night into the early morning of black Friday.. 10 awesome tickets will go on sale.  They’re $69.00 off of the regular priced tickets.

So, make sure you bookmark this site:  THIS ONE  and come back minutes before the sale.  They go in minutes.. so make sure you’ve got your refresh finger/button ready!

All tickets will officially go on sale March 2nd.  We’d love to have you join us.

Much love and hugs,

The Allume Team

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View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2014View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2014 Sweet friends, the Lord has done immeasurably more than even our sweet team could have comprehended in the last month. It’s been such a gift to pray and watch Him move, AGAIN.. not as a surprise but in the way He has moved.. such sheer delight, grace and kindness. With that being said, we are pleased as peach jam to tell you that

 

The 2015 Allume Conference will be held on October 15th – 17th, 2015 in Greenville, SC.

Are you squealing?  We certainly are!

10 (yes, only 10) Super Early Bird tickets will go on sale at midnight, EST November 27th (Black Friday). The rest of the tickets will be on sale March 1st at midnight, EST.

P.S. To read stories from those who attended Allume this year, click HERE.

P.S.S. To watch the keynote speakers at Allume, click HERE.  To order and download the audio sessions of the workshops, click HERE.

All photos are by the amazing Kim DeLoach.  See her blog HERE.

Allume Conference Link-Up!

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We want to read all about your time at Allume! If you’ve written a post about Allume, link it up here! LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

(Please make sure you link directly to your post, not just your blog. If you post something other than specifically about the Allume conference, or you link to just your blog/landing page, your link will be deleted.)

 



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

Measuring Sticks, Insecurity, and Some Conference Advice

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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. 

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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?

 

We want YOU!

The first year I attended Allume, I knew NO. ONE. I walked into the ballroom filled with a couple hundred women on Thursday night and sat at dinner with 7 complete strangers. I was quickly put at ease and enjoyed getting to know the women around me, but I felt really nervous at first.

Fast forward to the next year. I knew a few more attendees and made arrangements to meet-up with some of them, but also realized that there were women volunteering during the conference too. I thought it would be neat to participate if I was able to attend the conference again. Those women seemed to be having so much fun.

Last year, in 2013, I DID get to attend Allume again. And this time, I volunteered to help stuff gift bags on Wednesday afternoon and with registration on Thursday. I. Had. A. Blast! It was so fun to be involved and get a chance to meet some new people. It’s amazing what being on a mission together can do for building relationships and setting people at ease.

And the truth is that we need your help. We have a fantastic Allume team, but with 450 in attendance at this conference, there is just no way that we can get everything done without some extra hands on deck.

So we are asking for your help. We need you, we want you, and we suspect you need each other too. It’s what being in a community is about…being on mission, loving, and serving together. And that’s what we are… a community of women on various missions all intersecting for the same ultimate purpose for a weekend.

So in case you need it, here are our top 4 reasons to volunteer at Allume this year:

  1. You get to meet people. Volunteering is a wonderful way to connect if you are attending the conference alone or if you’re just wanting to be a part of all the fun. And…if you are a bit of an introvert, it is a GREAT way to softly and carefully put “your toes in the water” without feeling like you are going to drown!
  1. There is a sense of ownership and belonging that comes with volunteering. You feel a “part” of the conference because you ARE! We may have a team putting things together throughout the year, but this is about all of us and what God can do through us, individually and together as a community.
  1. When we give of ourselves ,we are blessed…we are changed. We break down barriers and allow God’s grace to fill our lives.
  1. It’s really fun! For real…. We have a blast and know that you will too!

We need a lot of volunteers at Allume. Here are some of the spaces that we need your help:

  • Filling gift bags on Wednesday afternoon.
  • Unpack & set-up on Wednesday.
  • Welcome and Hospitality – the registration desk Thursday afternoon.
  • Assistance at the author book signing tables.
  • Merchandise tables (i.e. t-shirts, CDs, etc.) Also for our musical guests. (1 hour before and after the concert.)
  • Tear-down on Saturday.
  • Sponsor care and hospitality
  • Speaker & Sponsor registration.
  • Prayer Team and Encouragers. Be willing to pray with and encourage those that come to receive prayer in the Prayer Room.

If your schedule allows, consider arriving Wednesday evening or early on Thursday. It is an energized atmosphere as our space in the hotel is transformed to “our space!” And don’t forget that we have some special pre-conference workshops that you don’t want to miss either!

Would you consider volunteering at Allume this year? If so, please head over to this google form for me and register! It will only take a couple of minutes, I promise!

We hope that you will consider volunteering this year at Allume! Volunteers are early relationship builders for the conference and we think might even have the most fun! We are on a mission together to be ambassadors for “real light living!” Can’t wait to see you in October!

 

 

Announcing…Our 2014 Conference Speakers!

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

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

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

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

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

Logan and the Allume Team

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

This is Allume…

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The Allume 2014 Conference will be held on October 23-25th in Greenville, SC. 10 Super Early Bird tickets will go on sale at midnight, EST November 29th (Black Friday).

The rest of the tickets will be on sale March 1st at midnight, EST.

Hope to see you (and hug you for 6 seconds) there!

Sarah Mae

P.S. To read stories from those who attended Allume, click HERE.

P.P.S. To watch the keynote speakers at Allume, click HERE.

All photos are by the amazing Kim DeLoach.  See her blog HERE.

Allume 2013 Conference Link-Up!

We want to hear your experience at Allume!

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We want to hear your stories. We want to hear how Allume has changed you, equipped you, empowered you. Link up your specific post below.

Dear Allume, Can I Tell You Something?

Dear Allume,

I have been staring you down for 5 months.  Your stellar speakers, your sponsoring partners, your eager attendees, and an incredibly dedicated team have been on my computer monitor and in my heart daily.

Can I tell you something?  You are remarkable.

You host a community far larger than the conference, a vision much richer than any website could hold, and you are an exquisite storyteller.   You have done real life in the light of day, in the light of Him, and it moves people.

Keep moving and shaking.

Change the world, Allume.

You can.

You know why you can?

It’s because you believe.  You believe in the power of words and the presence of authentic living.  You know how to link arms with other kingdom workers to comb the fields and love strong.

You have knelt in prayer and charged the day with enthusiasm.  You have shared tears, years, and become mirrors.  You reflect each other’s strengths and the resplendence of friendship.

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You swoop underneath to become trusses of support during high waters and span the distance from seasons of sure footing to those over the raging river. You have become a bridge.  A bridge that carries the path to real light living.
And You do. You don’t do it without error and you don’t stand alone.  Other communities and conferences do it too.  The bride of Christ holds the banner in front and bids you to follow. Beckons you to bridge stories to the world around us.

All of you.

The quiet, sporadic blogger of 3 readers and the prolific wordsmith with thousands.  The writer, the author, the musician, and the artist.  You wrote for Him and I now write to you.  You are part of the reason why I write. You are a risk-taking, contentment-finding, hope-chasing people.

You are people, not a platform.

You are honing a craft and becoming empowered in the task.  You take the task to change the world seriously and as you become storytellers who also becoming do-ers, know I am cheering for each of you.

I am thrilled to be with the conference goers one week from today. I am also honored to be joining hands with the larger Allume community across this nation and overseas who lives well into the mission.

As you own your sacred stories, serve those near and far, and overcome time and time again– know we are so very glad you came to this space and know we release, with you, to the high calling of life we must mobilize to.

Real light living, Allume, you do it and you are remarkable.

With sincerity and zeal,

Nasreen Fynewever

Allume Production Manager

Nasreen

Nasreen is an educator by training and by passion.   Nasreen finds the stories of her students and the adults they become to be fascinating.

Adopted from Bangladesh, raised in Michigan, and living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Nasreen draws on each chapter as she speaks and writes of her life story. She raises 3 little boys with her husband of 10 years and they call their life an adventure.

Nasreen has recently shared the stage with David Kinnaman (President of Barna Group) in his You Lost Me LIVE tour, produced Jumping Tandem: The Retreat with host Deidra Riggs, and been an active part of Holley Gerth’s God-sized Dreams Team.

She falls hard for those who have stories to share, dreams to believe, and Kingdom work to do.  As one who chases hope, with you, she blogs at nasreenfynewever.com

Meet the rest of the Allume team here.

Ten Ways to Be a Blessing at Allume

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I attended the Allume Conference last year and discovered that a blogging conference takes the virtual out of virtual reality. We get to meet bloggers who are more than a “thumbnail picture” on a computer screen. Those comments at the bottom of a post are from real people! Imagine that.

At Allume, we get to have face-to-face conversations with the writers we’ve connected with via our blogs. Our online friendships transform into “real life” friendships. We also get to meet new blogging friends who understand this innate desire to put our thoughts into words. We get to meet bloggers who share a similar passion for serving others and lifting up the name of Christ. And we get to learn about the ways we can use our own blogs to serve others and have an impact around the world.

I’m so excited to return again this year. And I have to tell you: I haven’t done anything to prepare for the conference. I’ve not even had new business cards printed. (I think my old cards will be fine.) I’m just planning on coming and having a great time.

I do have one pre-conference ritual though. It begins on the plane. Since I fly out from Los Angeles, I have a few airborne hours to prepare my heart and mind. So I spend this time making a list and then praying.

On my list, I write down all things I’d love to do while I’m at the conference. I write the names of people I’d like to meet. I write the times of meet-ups I’d like to attend. I even write down all the technical aspects of blogging that I’d like to learn more about.

And for all my list-making, I know there’s always something more — something deep in my heart — that has yet to find its way onto my paper. So I ask God to show me those hidden hopes I dare not speak. Those secret desires I dare not write down.

Lord, reveal to me any hidden “expectations” I might have.

Inevitably, a few more words find their way onto my list.

Then I lay my list on my lap, and while 30,000 feet in the air, I surrender every hope to the foot of the cross.

Lord, I lay my expectations down.
I give these next few days to You.
May I learn from them what You would have me to learn.
Please open my eyes to see those around me who need a friend.
Open my heart to hear their stories and to truly listen
with the same love and grace You so lavishly give.
Lord, help to see these next few days as an opportunity
to be a blessing to others more than an opportunity
to check off items from my list.

By the time my plane lands on the East Coast, my vision for the conference has been renewed, and I’m reminded of Jesus’ words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Then I review another list — one I made a long time ago: Ten Ways to Be a Blessing. And I customize it for the specific upcoming conference.

Allume Friends

Ten Ways to Be a Blessing at Allume

1. Keep an eye out for lone conference guests.

Invite someone to join you at your table for dinner or to sit next to you at a session.

2. Offer to help a mom with an infant.

Ask her if you can help carry her bag for her. Offer her your chair if there’s nowhere else to sit. Offer to help her through the buffet line. Sometimes a mom simply needs a third hand.

3. Pray for the speakers.

They’ve worked hard to prepare their talks, and they’ve likely given up time with family to be with us.

4. Visit with the sponsors at their tables.

Ask them about their work and the different ways that bloggers can get involved. Pray about possibly partnering with one of them.

5. Learn the name of the person who makes your bed and brings you clean towels.

Pray for her. Perhaps leave a thank you note for her at the hotel’s front desk. Share with the hotel concierge how much you appreciate her.

6. Learn the name of the person who refills the glasses at your table — or the name of the person who stands behind the buffet line to refill the trays of food.

Smile. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a huge difference in a person’s day.

Concerned about something with your meal? Find the designated Allume staff to share your concern. They’re there to assist you.

Let’s be a Light to everyone who works at the hotel. Let’s refrain from lodging complaints directly with the hotel staff. They work hard all day, mostly behind the scenes, and I think it would be awesome if they went home to their families saying, “Wow. The guests with the Allume Conference are the kindest guests ever.”

7. Pray for Logan.

If you see her in the hallway, ask if there’s something you can do to help. Tell her how much you appreciate all the hard work she has put into making this conference happen.

8. Make arrangements ahead of time to connect with someone you want to spend time with.

Are you hoping to sit with a friend at a meal? Instead of saving a seat at a table, perhaps make arrangements to meet in the lobby or by the buffet line. That way no one has to approach a table with empty chairs only to be told that those seats “aren’t for you.” Ouch.

9. Devote some time to the Prayer Room.

It’s a beautiful room especially designed to provide a quiet sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of a busy conference. It’s a place of solace. It also has a table with rows of small books; there’s one for every attendee. You can write encouraging notes in them. It’s one of my favorite parts of the Allume Conference.

10. Bring your jeans and bras that are in good condition.

The bras will be given to women freed from human trafficking, and the jeans will be cut up and used to make shoes for kids in Africa.

Whether this is your first or fourth Allume experience, you are among friends. And if you ever need someone to sit with or someone to talk to, you can send me a note, and I’d be happy to meet up with you.

What are some other ways we can
be a blessing to others while we’re at the conference?

 

I haven’t done anything to prepare for Allume. It’s okay. I’m coming to have fun. <Tweet that!>

At Allume, we learn about ways we can use our blogs to have an impact around the world. <Tweet that!>

At Allume, our online friendships transform into real life friendships. <Tweet that!>

 

 

When Your Voice is an Idol

We spend more time analyzing ourselves than ever before. With the rapid expansion of social media and technology, we live in a world constantly bombarded with self.

Which profile picture will I use for my avatar? What do my liked pages say about me? What interests do I showcase that make me look good?

We live in a culture that capitalizes on more than our personal tastes, it capitalizes on our persona, our brand. 

Whether it’s the TV shows we like, the books we read, the stores we frequent, or the places we go, there is a growing desire to share bits of who we are with others. You can tweet during your favorite shows, share excerpts of the books you read, capture your pumpkin spice latte and map your location down to your favorite neighborhood Starbucks.

Some would argue that this narcissistic bent is why connection is often difficult, why comparison and insecurity arise when everyone else’s Instagrams are so much cooler than yours, because you never eat watermelon in cowboy boots and a floral dress whilst leaning over a vintage table with the perfect yesteryear wash bathing the photo in golden hues. You just stand at the counter in your faded yoga pants and spit seeds into the garbage pail next to the pile of dirty dishes you have yet to get to.

And maybe you’re doing it wrong. Maybe the life you live is less than. Or maybe you are the girl with the cute boots and impeccable taste Instagramming away your seamless life? Even you know there’s more to your story than the pictures you share.

default of the heart

But social media or not, I think the human heart always seeks to compare. Our default is to be concerned and consumed by our own glory. If ever there were an idol of our times in the blog world, I believe it is our voice. Our need to always be heard saying something.

There are the shock value bloggers capitalizing on every current event, every controversial divisive line needing to be parsed and severed and inspected with scathing sarcasm and open letter rants.

There is the desire for our words to reach further, to impact more, to challenge or encourage or matter. But there is a grace-less way about always needing to have our voice heard. And there is the quiet despair for those who faithfully share their voice and stories to the humble reception of silence and wonder if they matter at all.

We gather at conferences and wonder about the elevator speeches we’re supposed to prepare summarizing who we are and what we offer. And sometimes I think we’re too practiced at saying all the right things that we never stop to listen.

Because at the heart of it all, we tie our performance with words and platform and branding to our worth. If our story doesn’t matter, maybe we don’t either?

And I know I’m not the only one, but I’m tired of it.  I’ve felt the sticky fingered lure of candy coating what is, at it’s core, pride. The syrupy tongued words that pave the way to a bigger audience have sent me writhing back to silence, like a child found in bloated emptiness amid a flurry of candy wrappers the day after Halloween.

I’m an advocate for story because I believe the word of God’s people, the testimony of His beloved brings glory to Him, connection to the body, and light in the darkness but there will always be the temptation to focus so much on ourselves, our story, our path, our contribution to this writing world, that we forget that to live a good story, we’d be wise to listen and slow to speak.

Because grace happens in the pauses, when we stop to soak in words that are not our own. We live better questions when we stop reciting what we have to offer and start to champion other people’s voices. Start to believe in the storyteller who’s writing our moments with a master’s precision. When we find our humanity not just in the words we craft but also in the words we cultivate. When we worry less about our own voices being heard and allow God to speak.

crafting words

 I will always champion God’s people using their voice, but let us also learn to hold our tongues and listen with bold ears and hearts wide open, and maybe then, God will speak and our words will be tinged with grace, soothing to our souls, and full of life.

Allume Attendee Link Up!

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This year, rather then making an attendee page, we want you to link up your ABOUT page. Then we can come and visit you in your space!

If you don’t have a blog, link up your Facebook, Twitter, or other social profile. Let’s see the faces of Allume!

So, if you’re coming to Allume, link up below!

{If you’re reading this in a reader or in your email, you can click through here to link up}

for when we long to be accepted

Hi. I’m the one person on the planet not going to Allume this year. Blah. Which is sad to me because I love my bloggin’ sistas. I love the late nights of talking and the sessions full of Divine wisdom and the photo booth thingy and the make-me-hyper coffee!

So I prayed about what I could possibly say to all of you amazing bloggers who do get to go to the conference, as well as to those who don’t get to go. And the word that came to me was “acceptance”. Acceptance.

 
Accepted
 

We all so desperately want to be accepted. That’s partly why I’m disappointed that I don’t get to go this year. I don’t want to miss anything. It’s also partly why I’m guessing some of you are nervous about going. You don’t want to feel left out.

I know that I know that some of you are spending sweet time worrying about what cutie outfits you will wear, because I’ve done that. Or worrying about what you will say, because I’ve done that too. Or worrying about what people will think of your wanna-be-rapping skills, maybe that one’s just me. When at the root of all that time and energy is a longing to be accepted.

But we get it sooooooo twisted. SO twisted. Because here it is. You ready? You and I will never ever find our ultimate acceptance in other humans. It isn’t possible. People are too volatile, short-sighted, and self-focused, just like us. And if we spend our energies looking to other humans for our acceptance and our identity, we will never truly embrace the woman that God created us to be. What a travesty.

If there’s anything I hope we each prepare before jumping into new things or jumping onto flights to new places, I pray we prepare our hearts. Let’s spend time looking at our Maker. Spend time meditating on the things He says about us. Spend time reveling in the beauty He whispers.

When we truly embrace who we are in Christ, we’re empowered to walk confident into a room of hundreds of other women that we’ve never personally met. Not because we have some haughty view of self. We can walk confident because we know WHOSE we are. And when we know WHOSE we are, we can know who we are — accepted and beloved, regardless of whether we’re wearing the trendiest pair of boots.

I don’t get to go to Allume this year — unless crazy, unexpected things happen. But I’m fighting those “missing out” feelings with truths that my God declares over me. The same truths He declares over you.

 
How have you wrestled against that nervous feeling of wanting to “fit in”?
What does our God say about us as His daughters?

 

When You’re Afraid to Leave

When You're Afraid to Leave

She could barely get the words out. Her tears soaked my hair as her little face rested against mine.

Bedtime started as ordinarily as ever last night, but as I turned out the light, fear spilled out of my little girl’s heart. These were big things — sickness and death and goodbyes. Cares a five-year old shouldn’t be carrying.

Worry oozed and fear gripped my girl.

I could see myself in her. Fear has always been a stronghold in my life. Even as a child, I couldn’t last the night at a friend’s house without being so ravaged by fear, I’d have to call home.

Homesickness, they called it.

The only way I could make it a night away was to open the Word and cling to Peace.

So last night, I did with her, what I learned to do so very many years ago. We leaned on Truth.

I looked forward to bedtime yesterday.

I had been eager to get writing. The deadline of this post loomed, but I knew that no naps and lots of fresh, fall air promised an easy, early bedtime for the kids.

But bedtime wasn’t what I expected, and as I sit here now, searching for words to fan the flame of excitement about Allume, all I can think of is how scared I am.

I am so excited about Allume — about seeing friends and meeting you and growing and learning and being challenged and encouraged. But I am afraid to leave.

I’m afraid to be so far away. I’m afraid of what could happen and the million what ifs that are traipsing through my mind.

These four people are my whole world.

The idea of leaving them behind as I fly across the country petrifies me. The thought that something could happen to one of them makes me so scared, I have honestly considered selling my ticket and not attending the conference.

Friends, call me weak, but I am afraid to leave home.

I know this post won’t be for everyone. I might even seem a little crazy to some of you, but in case there are a few others who are afraid to leave behind everything that makes this world seem right, may I just remind you, as I remind myself, what my daughter and I remembered last night?

I need to hear these words again and some of you do, too.

God knows each of our days. He numbered them. He wrote the story. He planned each day before even one came to be. And our God is a good God, who loves us and chose us and cares for each of our needs.

Everything that we experience, He has already filtered through His loving, sovereign hands, and He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

Yes, in this world, we will have trials. We will experience pain, but God has overcome this world. In Him, we have a new and living hope, a hope that will not disappoint!

Dear Sister, if you, like me, are facing fear today, may we saturate our minds and our hearts in the Word of God. He will keep in perfect peace, she whose mind is steadfast because she trusts in God!

While we are away, when we are scared, can we strengthen one another with these words?

I will need you to remind me of God’s truth and of His character, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

What an opportunity we will have to encourage one another to hold fast to our God who holds us all!

May it not be said that we never feared. May it be said of us that when we were afraid, we trusted God.

Praying that each of us, by God’s will, will come with joy and be refreshed by each others’ company. May the God of peace be with us all!

-erika

erikadawson.com

 

Question for You: In thinking about the upcoming conference, what are some of the fears you are facing? How can I pray for you?

 

*I referenced quite a few Scripture passages in this post. These are a few I come back to again and again —  Psalm 139:16, Psalm 100:5, John 15:16, Ephesians 1:4, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:25-34, Psalm 103, Romans 8:28, John 16:33, 1 Peter 1:3, Romans 5:5, Isaiah 26:3, Psalm 56:3-4, Romans 15:32-33

 

Flickr Photo Credit: Angelo DeSantis

Head Shot Sign Ups!

If you have been to a past Allume, you know we set aside some time to snap a shot of some beautiful faces! Now is the time to sign up for that. Here are some examples from last year.

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Head shots are $20 and you will pay the lovely Kim Deloach at the time of the sitting. Kim took Logan and Laura’s latest head shots. She is amazing and you all will LOVE her!

laurahoustonLogan

However, spots are limited so you  must reserve your spot by signing up here. Pay close attention to the time and date you are signing up and mark it down somewhere in your Allume schedule so you do not forget to show up! :) Make sure you sign up for a slot when you KNOW you will be available and not risk a late flight in, etc.

First come, first served. Once they are filled, there are no more. Ready? GO!

SIGN UP HERE

Skyscrapers are Moved When Dominoes Fall

Skyscrapers are moved when dominoes fall

Sometimes in life, we exist as one domino in a row of many, poised and positioned to fall in the most glorious ways … changing one another’s lives forever.

She emails to tell me of the farm lady with the blog. But I know nothing of blogs in January of 2011. And it’s not until I’m standing in line at the Ft. Lauderdale airport I pay attention. It’s her text this time, “You HAVE to get this book for your flight home….”

I download the book before I board the plane, and the five-hour flight seems only five minutes long as I pour over her profound and poetic words.

I scour her site and read every word, and it’s at the bottom I see it: a link to a place called (in)courage. I click on it, and am ushered into a world of writing I’ve never known before…

One which will change so much for me.

One  in which He’ll use even me, to give hope to other broken hearts.

“Because God intends to use each one of us to change the world.” ~@RichStearns [Tweet that]

I discover blogs. Countless blogs. With words, link-ups, and communities of real people.

But it’s not until September when I learn of The Relevant Conference (now called Allume). A conference for bloggers who long to be used in real and relevant ways, to bring the light of Christ to the world through their writing.

And the conference is already sold out.

But little did I know, even God can use Twitter to accomplish His plans.

collage1

I stalk the Twitter stream and gain enough courage to send a tweet: “If you’re needing to sell your ticket, I’d love to buy one…”

And it’s a stranger named Denise in Bloom who responds. She doesn’t know me at all, but sweetly offers to watch for a ticket. And it’s through her help, a way is opened for me to go.

Less than two days later, with a last-minute conference ticket in hand, I quietly tweet to ask if anyone needs a roommate.

And this time it’s Annie at Home from New York who replies. She’d been on the waiting list and obtained a last-minute conference ticket too. We chat on the phone and it doesn’t take long to feel like we’ve always been friends.

But since Annie is driving to the conference, she won’t be there the first night I arrive.

So I meander onto Twitter again, to ask if anyone has room for me to stay with them for one night.

And it’s Erin from Home with the Boys who tweets back, generously offering me to stay with her and Brooketwo close friends offering to open up their room to welcome me, a complete stranger! Their kindness overwhelms.

Airplane Flying Over the Clouds

Before I know it I’m on a plane to Pennsylvania for my first blogging conference ever. I know no one and have only read a couple of blogs. And as the plane lands, I have no idea I’m about to encounter some of the most generous and kind women on the planet. Women whose dominoes are about to fall into mine.

“God creates elaborate plans with spiritual dominoes, and the chain reaction begins with one domino at a time.” ~@RichStearns [Tweet that]

We stand at baggage claim and watch the suitcases circle around. She tells me her name is Kat, and that she’s from Texas. And standing with her weight on one foot, she leans against her suitcase and asks about me. I tell her I’ve been blogging only 3 months about mercy and grace. And she fills my heart with encouraging words. Welcoming me to the blogging world and inspiring me to write as God leads.

I go to dinner that night with my new friend Annie, and we inconspicuously sit at a table in the back. But they’ve seated speakers at each table who rotate tables to meet us. And at our table I’m introduced to the down-to-earth and inviting Emily Freeman, the good girl full of grace, who interacts with us just like a close friend.

After dinner a woman with a smile as wide as Colorado tells me her name is Kristen. I tell her I’m new, and she tells me not to worry about that. Not one. little. bit. And throughout the conference, she tracks me down, and hugs me tight, time and time again. As if it’s her personal mission to make me feel like I matter and know I really belong.

Allume friends

At lunch the next day, I sit by a quiet girl with long flowing hair, who subtly leans over to say hi, and tells me our names rhyme: Myquillyn and Jacqueline. And we commiserate over the spelling challenges of our names and chuckle about the ways people get them wrong most every time. We chat about everyday down-to-earth things over salad and chicken, and I leave feeling better for having crossed her path.

With such an unusual name, I wonder if she blogs. And it’s then someone tells me that the Myquillyn I met, whose name rhymed with mine, is none other than The Nester. Who is also the sister of Emily Freeman. I had no. idea. And neither did she find the need to tell me. What humility and grace.

I work up my courage to approach Lisa Jo Baker, the host of Five Minute Friday. As a new blogger I’ve been learning to write with her community, and I blurt out my confession as soon as we meet face to face, as if to alleviate the secret guilt I’ve been carrying all three months of my blogging life.

“I have to admit to you I cheat on FMF posts,” I confess. “…I set the timer for five minutes, pause it every so often to think, and turn it back on to furiously type.”

She throws her head back in laughter, and hugs me tight like we’ve been friends for a decade, melting my anxiety into a puddle on the floor.

And across the room I recognize Christin in the lounge. Hers is one of the few blogs I’ve read. And I rush over to thank her for her words at Joyful Mothering. We eat cupcakes and talk into the evening.

Ann and Jacque 2011And it’s the next day, I meet the farm girl. Ann, full of grace. I wait at the end of the line, and when we talk, I cry the entire time. Eyes-pufffy, tears-pouring cry. And she locks her eyes on mine, as if I’m the only one in the room. And she tells me I am loved … that God wants to use me too.

Oh the grace and kindness of each heart I encounter.

Rich Stearns, president of World Vision, U.S. describes how God has big plans for us all … how He always uses ordinary people to change the world.

Yet in God’s story, we are dependent on one another. Because together we can do things we could never accomplish alone.

Did you know it’s been shown that if you create a chain of dominoes, each one 1 1/2 times the size of the previous one, the cumulative effect of their fall is exponential. So much so, that if the first domino in the chain is a mere 5mm high and 1mm thick, the 29th domino to fall would be the height of the Empire State Building?

One tiny domino falling with the tiniest force, has the potential to effect the kind of change that could fall a domino the size of the Empire State Building!

“Only God can multiply seemingly insignificant things to knock over skyscrapers.” ~@RichStearns

In His plan, God places us in the right place, perched and ready to fall at the right time, by His Divine providence alone.

And as He sends us opportunities, He whispers:

Lean in. And fall.

And when we do, He magnifies the results to accomplish things we never dreamed were possible.

Introductions and smiles, and conversations at meals … all of them connections.

One domino leaning over to fall the next, as God orchestrates it all in His time.

I become friends with Denise in Bloom, and in time become a contributing writer at Sisters in Bloom. I find sweet friends among the writing team there. And it is Amy Bayliss, one of those Sisters in Bloom, who gives me the life-changing advice and push I need to share my story of how Mercy Found Me.

“You are a domino precious in His sight. Be willing and say yes … be available to be used.” @RichStearns [Tweet that]

Through the random kindness of Erin and Brooke, we become friends. And in time I begin to write for The MOB Society, and later for Team Hope, the team of women who encourage weary mama-hearts at Brooke and Stacey’s place, Hope for the Weary Mom.

In time I figure out who Kat is and find the Hello Mornings community.

And I continue to receive Skype calls and cheerleading from the sweet and generous Kristen Strong.

Because of Lisa Jo, I become connected with (in)courage, leading an (in)couragers group. And I’m honored to participate in the video footage for (in)RL 2013, sharing my passion for community. And in more time, Christin emails me and invites me to write for the Allume blog.

Certainly when I arrived at the conference in 2011, I never anticipated how it would change my life. I never imagined how I’d encounter such gracious and humble women–women and writers without pretense, who display such a pure love for Christ.

His love compelled them to reach out in kindness to even me–a newcomer and nurse who never imagined she’d be a writer at all.

We are dominoes falling into one another, with skyscraper moments ahead.

“Because skyscrapers are moved when dominoes fall.” @RichStearns [Tweet that]

Are you ready for Allume?

Are you standing tall in your domino spot?

Are you ready to lean in and fall, that your life may change another?

As you prepare for Allume, poised and positioned in the exact place God intends, get ready sweet sisters.

Get ready for the divine appointments He has waiting for you.

May you expect them,

Watch for them,

And find them.

And as you do, may we one day see the skyscraper-size impact He accomplishes through each and every one of us.

One smile, one hug, and one conversation at a time.

I can’t wait to see you there!

 

How have you been changed by Allume?

What are you most looking forward to?

 

Photo Credit 

Connecting at Conferences

connecting at conferences

I remember my very first conference. It was a writer’s conference in Northern California, and I’d gone with a friend. My dream was to be a novelist, and the very first lunch I sat next to an editor. My knees started shaking. My heart started pounding. I couldn’t swallow a bite. I could barely answer a questions. {So much for making a good impression!}

Last year I attended the Allume conference for the first time as a speaker. I knew a few other people, but 99.9% of the other attendees were new to me. I had a blog, but my main focus at the time had been book writing. Yet after penning thirty-three published books, I felt God calling me to be more intentional about my online outreach. I went to learn . . . and to connect.

4 Ways to Connect

Start with an introduction. Meeting people at conferences is easier than you think. Even if you are shy, there are natural places to connect with people, such as in line for registration, sitting in workshops, or at meals. Every great friendship starts with an introduction. “Hi, I’m Tricia. What’s your name?”

Listen first. When I go to conference my goal is not to tell everyone all about me. Instead, I like to hear what others are up to. A few questions I like to ask:
What do you like to write about?
Tell me about your blog.
How’s your family at home surviving?

These are simple questions, but the answers help you get to know a person. The answers can highlight simpler interests. And you’ll never know where those relationships will lead!

Last year, I met Courtney and Angela {great women!} from GoodMorningGirls.org, and later I offered to support their amazing ministry in any way I could. I was blessed to be able to write parenting blogs for them when my book Lead Your Family Like Jesus came out. Through that friendship, I connected with thousands of God-seeking women. “Tell me about yourself” goes a long way.

Pray for divine appointments. It’s only natural to want to connect with the “important people” at conferences—those with well-known blogs, book authors, publishers, or others who can help you. The thing is, everyone wants to connect with those people, and it’s easy for them to get overwhelmed! (As a veteran speaker, I know.)

Instead, pray for divine appointments. Ask God to connect you with others for your mutual benefit. Many times it is the person sitting next to you in that workshop . . . not the speaker on the stage. God knows how to connect hearts for the benefit of His kingdom!

Build on relationships through prayer. In 1994, at my very first writer’s conference, I met some sweet women. Most of us were new to writing and unpublished. When I got home I felt God asking me to coordinate a way for us to form an email prayer group. For years and years and years those women would email their prayer requests to me, and I’d compile them and send them back out. (This was long before Facebook private pages or Yahoo groups!) We prayed through marriages, births, deaths, divorces, book contracts, publishing disappointments, and everything else you can think of. We’re still praying almost twenty years later! Most of us are multi-published authors now, and our journey has been enriched because of prayer. Prayer changes things . . .  especially women’s hearts.

How about you? How do you like to connect at conferences?

Tips for Managing Mommy Guilt While at the Conference

Going to Allume last year was good for me in a hundred thousand ways. It was my third year to attend this amazing conference where so many of my precious online friends have become the kind of in-the-flesh friends whose numbers I dial without thinking when something exciting happens or when I desperately need prayer.

I love what happens when women who share one heart for the Lord and one desire to make Him known gather together … the energy is palpable. I always think it’s a glimpse of what heaven will be.  Lingering conversations and deep connections rooted in a shared love for the Lord.

tips for dealing with mommy guilt || teri lynne underwood for allume.com

But last year was also the year I realized my season of attending multiple conferences per year was over. My  girl is in her last year of middle school.  She is a cheerleader and she’s enjoying her second year in her school’s Show Choir. She’s taking Pre-Algebra {hold me} and her social life continues to blossom. All that added to my fervent desire to be intentional about her spiritual growth and a real awareness her days in our home are getting fewer quickly led me to the decision not to attend any conferences this year that required me to be away from home more than one night.

Many who will be attending Allume {and other conferences} will be in the same boat I was last year.  I missed one of my girl’s Show Choir productions.  In fact, I wrote about it during the live Five Minute Friday party and even shared my post with the group there.

How do we deal with being away from home when we know we’re missing moments with our families?

Here are a few ideas for managing the mommy guilt that can accompany our time away from home.

Stay connected.

Thank the Lord for phones and Skype and Facetime! You can still read bedtime stories and make sure the outfit for the dance look cute. Decide with your husband and your children how much interaction you will have while you’re gone … and then do what you’ve agreed! Set an alarm and be willing to leave even the best session at the event in order to listen to your first grader tell you about the spelling test. :)

Leave a piece of you behind.

Leave little notes for your family or make their favorite snacks for them to have while you are gone.  Let the kids pick out one of your shirts to sleep in while you’re gone.  Make a countdown for them to mark how many days you’ll be gone. Don’t leave out your older kids in this … they may be cool teenagers but they still love to know their momma is missing them.

Bring them a surprise from your trip.

Even just a postcard from the airport to show where you were will help your kids be sure you were thinking of them while you were gone.

Enjoy your time away!

Don’t let your joy be robbed by unnecessary feelings of guilt for being away.  The time of connecting and growing and worshiping is absolutely okay! And the refreshing time you experience will be a blessing to your family as you come back home.

Here’s the bottom line: God is doing an amazing work through the Allume conference and community.  And where God is working, the enemy is working harder.  Go and be encouraged and challenged!  And then come home to your family refreshed, inspired, and ready to love on them.

How do you deal with mommy guilt when you’re away from home?

Wishing I could give you all a hug in Greenville,

Teri Lynne

Allume is Better When We Work Together (Volunteer Sign-Ups)

If you’re like me, the idea of 400+ women in one place can be a little nerve-wracking.  I know I always feel better when my hands are busy and when I’m given a task to accomplish.  Some of my most memorable conversations at Allume happened while I was working alongside other bloggers to help set-up for the conference.  The next day there were faces that I had never previously met that I now counted among friends.  It was a blessing to serve in many ways.

allume needs you

This year is shaping up to be the best Allume yet, and in the spirit of service, we’re giving attendees a chance to plug-in and serve each other.  So that’s what this post is about…it’s a call to sign-up to serve your fellow sisters and we have a place for you even if you can’t attend.

Below is a list of all the needs we have followed by a short survey.  Please read the descriptions and then fill out the survey.  You will be hearing back from your team leader (the person you report to) shortly.  Please know we are so thankful for each and every one of you!  It’s YOU who helps make Allume possible.  We ask that you do sign up that way we can better utilize your gifts and callings to make Allume the best ever and allow our management teams not to go crazy.

Super Awesome Service Opportunites

Prayer Team — We need your prayers.  Period.  Even if you can’t attend, this is the perfect way to get involved.  The prayer team will be taking a three-prong approach.  First of all, we need prayer warriors storming the gates of heaven leading up to the conference.  We trust that God is going to work mightily through Allume this year, which means the devil will be working overtime to throw a wrench wherever he can.  Please be praying as the days tick down.  Secondly, we would like prayer warriors praying at home during the conference covering our attendees and speakers with prayers.  Lastly, we are in need of prayer warriors to help staff the prayer room.  If you would like to serve your sisters in this way, we would love to have you.  And like I said, if you can’t attend the conference, this is the perfect way for you to stay involved.  Allume doesn’t happen without the women of God interceding on its behalf.

Time Keepers — Know how to tell time?  We need you!  These individuals are vital to keeping the conference on schedule by keeping time for the main sessions and letting our speakers know when they need to wrap it up.

Session/Room Needs — Ensuring speakers and sponsors have what they need in their rooms in regards to AV needs.  These individuals will work in tandem with the hotel and will also be helping to distribute books at the Thursday’s keynote.

Allume Breakdown — These individuals will help clean up on Sunday morning following the end of the conference.

Musician Sales Table Help — These individuals will help run the musicians’ sales tables after both concerts.

Registration — Love to meet and greet?  We would love to have your smiling face at our registration table to help welcome conference attendees and hand out name tags and hook attendees up with some awesome swag bags.

Sales Table Help — One of the most exciting parts of Allume is not only meeting and greeting our speakers, but purchasing their books and getting a signed copy as well as possibly taking that treasured picture with them.  These individuals will help us at the sales table during the meet and greet/book purchasing/book signing session on Saturday afternoon.

Help Staff — I love all the volunteers, but these are some of my favorites because they help man the help desk, give directions, move crowds, and are all around helpers.  And most importantly, these ladies will be able to tell you where the closest restroom is.  Like I said, these volunteers are important.

Miscellaneous — Are you the kind of gal that can go with the flow?  You’d be perfect for the miscellaneous category because these lovely ladies float wherever we need them to…would you consider it?

**Gift Bag Stuffers** — If you would like to help stuff the swag bags we will be stuffing them on Wednesday afternoon beginning at 3pm.  This is always a super fun time!!!!

Now it’s time for the survey.

Click here to take survey

Thank you so much for your time and your willingness to serve!

Allume Babies

Allume Babies

Are you considering bringing your little bundle of joy to Allume? If so…you have an advantage in the area of conversation starters! Nothing breaks the ice quicker than a little snuggler on your hip. We understand that not everyone will have the opportunity to take this adventure solo, and bringing baby is just a matter of fact. For that reason, Allume has partnered with brightpeak financial to sponsor the baby/momma nursery. This room is for ladies and babies only, and will have everything you need to keep your little one happy! Boppy’s, swings, pack-n-plays, changing table, rocking chairs, exersaucer, and more will adorn the mommy & baby room! There will even be a live audio feed for you so you do not miss the keynote speakers, should you have to step out of the main fellowship hall.

I have been on both sides of this story of bringing a baby verses coming solo. At the first conference I attended February 2012, I brought my 9 month old along. When I came to Allume last October it was my first opportunity to travel baby free in 17 months! Par-tay! When I attended the first conference with my little Harrison I also brought my amazing mother with me. She watched him day and night. We would communicate via txt when he was ready to be nursed and I would either run to my room or she would meet me somewhere. At that conference the hotel was beyond huge, and there were no special accommodations for the little babes. This didn’t stop many people from toting their babies in strollers and baby-carriers throughout the conference sessions.

The only time I had Harrison with me was during the very first newbie meet-up on the day of registration…and a couple times in between rummaging through the sponsor booths. My conference/baby experience didn’t end well. My little boy spiked a high fever, double ear infection, and croup by the last day…topped off with 2nd degree burns on the inside of his entire hand after grabbing my curling iron…ironically while I was busy coordinating a fellow blogger nurse to come to the room and check him out.

Now we all know that babies will do what babies do best…no matter how well you prepare yourself there is always the unexpected. Your normally perfect little angel can turn into a screaming little human being who even you don’t recognize in a split second! Between the traveling, new environment, interrupted schedules, and over-stimulation of 450 doting women is enough to put an adult over the edge let alone a baby.

When bringing a baby to a conference, you always need realistic expectations. It is possible that you will not be able to attend all of the sessions. It is possible that you will have to leave the room when your favorite speaker is up to bat. I hate to miss anything. I always want to squeeze every ounce of goodness out of my conference experience. This is why I brought someone to help me so that I could attend all of the sessions freely. We realize that not everybody will have the opportunity to bring a helper. Which means you will have to be flexible with your schedule.

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To put it into perspective…all of the people attending this conference have a lot of time and made a substantial financial commitment to attend. You have to look at it from the reverse role; Would you want your favorite speaker…the one you waited all weekend to hear…to be drowned out by anything? We simply ask to keep in mind your baby’s limits, and to respond out of respect for your fellow Allume family, if the need arises for you to leave a room during a session.

Fellow friend and blogger, Alison Olfelt of O My Family Blog,(who would be attending if her 3rd little bundle wasn’t due the week of Allume!) has written a great series on how to successfully attend a conference with baby in tow. Her writing goes into more detail with ideas and what has worked well for her. Read part 1 where she talks about the parties and nightlife, and part 2 talks about the sessions.

Babies and Daddy’s: If you bring your husband to be the care-giver for your baby, there are a few things to note. 1: How blessed you are to have him! 2: There is a man-cave for them. This room is awesome! It is all things manly. This room is also sponsored by Bright Peak Financial. This area is designated men only and we ask that the women honor this and not enter the room at any time. Out of respect for our awesome man cave sponsor and the work they have invested in making this a great experience for the men, we also ask that no children enter this room as well. So, the baby/momma room is only for women and babies…and the man cave is only for men. This means if your husband is the care-giver during the conference, he will have to make arrangements to care for baby outside of these two areas.

Just who is this wonderful sponsor who is providing these much needed oases for the men and the momma’s? “Bright Peak Financial is a company that is built for people, not for profit. What is that big financial hurdle you’d love to get over? Paying off student loans, saving for your kids’ education, buying a house or just saving enough for your next vacation? These financial realities can often turn into anxiety and fear. Fear that you’ll never have enough money. Fear that you’ll never get out from under your debt or fear that you can’t reach your goals.

Bright Peak Financial wants to help you escape financial fear. Together, we will move you to a place of hope and resiliency by seeking transparency, faith and wisdom with money. Your mountain can be climbed with confidence!”

Be Love… {Impact Opportunity Sign-ups!}

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Impact Opportunities {Part 2}

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

No one could have anticipated the response.

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what we are looking for:

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

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

We would love to have you on board.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Free The Girls:

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

 

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

Introducing…The Allume Impact Opportunities {Part 1}

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

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

5 Sanity Saving Essentials for Blogging Conferences

Essentials for Blogging Conferences

Remember God is guiding your steps.

  • That moment when you see swirling crowds and wonder what the heck you’re doing at a conference with hundreds of women, remember God has a specific purpose for you. It’s not the same as your roommates, the speakers, or your blogging buddies. Let your agenda be dictated by God’s leading and you’ll never falter.

You’re the boss of you.

  • If you need to find a corner to sit and stare at the wall to recharge, do it. If you need to turn in early because your eyelids are dragging so heavy you might trip on them, tuck yourself in. If you want to wake up early and jog before breakfast, I don’t understand you at all, but hey, go for it.
  • Believe that the opportunities God has for you are not going to be “missed” because you aren’t on every second.
  • Trust that the capacity God’s given you isn’t a mistake. The Allume organizers are an amazing group of godly women who pray for you and have designed the content to leave room for God to work. Trust in that.

Think deep not wide.

  • At my first blogging conference I had only been blogging for 6 weeks. I traded tons of business cards, gave my awkward elevator speech a zillion times, and tried to jam in all the information I could. Everyone told me I had to network. It was exhausting.  Turns out the long lasting relationships maintained from that conference came in the slow moments. Lingering over coffee, sitting down to a long dinner, following up after the conference and investing in their blogs.
  • In many ways, the idea of networking makes my stomach sour. I don’t want to connect so I can climb on your shoulders and have a larger platform. I want to connect because you have something to offer that is unique: YOU. I want to know you.
  • Think of it as a chance to connect with God breathed people, joined in spirit, not just an opportunity to guest post or get retweeted.  I know now that meeting ALL the people is much less important than connecting with a few. Take your time and really value the people God brings across your path.

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Think of ways to invest in people you meet and encourage those where you are or even mentor those coming up behind you.

  • I had someone tell me recently that they saw me at Allume and were too nervous to introduce themselves. I snort laughed at the craziness of that. Although flattered, I am not a rock star contrary to the tens of people who think so.  Ok, the ones of people, but still. Come say hi.
  • We’re all sisters here. But please, don’t be offended if I don’t recognize you right away even though we’ve tweeted back and forth every week. You are much taller than your avatar, and I am much, ummm, fluffier. So yeah, it might take me a minute. Again, grace.

 Don’t listen to the lie that you aren’t important. That your story and words don’t matter as much as the famous blogger. That no one is interested in you. That’s pure crap.

  • Each of you has a gift. A story of redemption, a story of a God who loves you, a story of life.
  • You may have a style blog and have an eye for beauty in a perfectly mismatched teal bag with platform sandals and a flowy maxi dress. You may have a food blog and share the glory in the crisp snap of fresh greens, laid like an offering, scattered with toasted goat cheese, raspberries, and roasted hazelnuts, a sweet mustard vinaigrette drizzled like the swirl of a painter’s brush. You may have an organization blog where you help women like me put labels on pretty baskets and get rid of the stack of sweaters I’m planning to felt someday. You may share stories, your life in words, your tears and triumphs and soul words.
  • Whatever God has given you, you have a gift to share. Go confidently knowing that you are called.

Is this your first conference or are you a veteran? What do you feel God is leading you towards as you prepare for Allume?  

 

Have you got your Allume ticket yet?

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The Allume conference is just 78 days away. Do you have your ticket yet? If not, you will have to stalk the twitter stream because they are all sold out!! Sorry! Don’t wait so long next year. :-)

 

Maybe you’ve never been to a conference like this before and you are a bit afraid you won’t fit in. I promise – you WILL fit in. AND…you won’t be the only person feeling that way. You will find that the community is very welcoming.

So breath deeply and RELAX.

 

The first time I attended Allume was in 2011 when it was known as the Relevant Conference. I knew NO. ONE. I made the drive to Harrisburg which is less than 3 hours from my home, checked into the hotel and went to my room.

 

And I wondered WHAT. HAVE. I. DONE?

 

I didn’t know anyone.

 

I hadn’t been blogging long.

 

I certainly didn’t have a tribe or a following or a platform or anything else that many people talked about in the online community. I still don’t have these things. Well, if I do, then I don’t know it. But I know that attending Allume was incredibly beneficial to my writing, my blogging, and my relationship with the Lord.

 

I want to share with you a few of the things I did BEFORE the conference that helped me.

 

· I studied the Allume website. I perused the website often, checking for updates, changes, etc. I learned about the speakers. I checked out their websites and blogs.

· I printed the agenda and decided which sessions most interested me and which ones I thought would be most beneficial. See the 2013 agenda here.

· I prayed. Seriously I did. I was nervous. Even though I am a confident person, I was really nervous.

 

Now for some DOs and a DON’T…

 

· Do wear comfortable clothes. And be prepared to layer your clothing. Conference rooms are often cool because the speakers are warm. So have a jacket, sweater or shawl that you can throw on just in case.

· Don’t over pack. The first year I was away from home three nights and took enough clothes for more than one outfit a day. My thought was I would change for the evening. I didn’t. I was too busy learning, socializing and connecting. Last year I took one outfit for each day, with an extra couple of shirts. This year I am flying and I can’t afford to over pack!

· Do leave room in your suitcase to take home your swag bag goodies. And if this year is like the last two years, then there will be LOTS of goodies. There will be lots of books and books are heavy. So keep that in mind when you pack. If you are flying, then the airline will charge you for an overweight bag.

· Do have business cards. At a minimum have your name, blog name and web address and your e-mail on the card. I have my picture on my card because I think it helps people remember me. Some people choose to put their telephone number and address on their card. That is a personal preference. You can find deals all over the internet for business cards or make them yourself. Just have some.

· Do have a notebook or some method for taking notes.

· Do exchange cell numbers (before the conference) with bloggers you want to connect with in person. It can be a bit overwhelming with the number of people attending and if you don’t have a method to connect, then you might miss them.

· DO…and this is a BIG DO…make use of the prayer room. It is a quiet refuge in the midst of the noise and goodness known as Allume. It is a quiet place where you can meet the Lord. Or pray with a friend. I have found it to be a sacred and holy place.

· DO…check out this post by my friend, Trina. I repeat a couple of her do’s and don’t’s, but she has some other great ideas and thoughts!

 

The biggest and probably the most important…open your heart and mind.

Be prepared to be blessed by the speakers, by the connections and by the Lord.

 

A story and a blogger’s prayer…

A Blogger's Prayer via @Allume

I was nervous when I attended Allume last year. In preparing myself to go, imagining meeting blogging friends included fighting feelings of being in middle school again, petrified at the thought of seeing everyone in real life and them not liking what they see, when they see me, and fearing being left on the outside of the circle — echoes from junior-high taunting still haunting

Yet, as real as those paralyzing fears may be, they weren’t my greatest concern. The condition of my heart was. Would I leave Allume wanting to make a name for myself? Would I leave feeling small and shameful about it, with the only way to rectify it being — pursue becoming big?

My fears weren’t realized, in no accounts, especially with the matters of my heart. The people I met were people. Just people, and beautiful ones, too. Realizing that dispelled most of my insecurities. And, I left Allume last year with new friendships made, and a greater desire to serve God, my family, and the readers I already had.

I don’t know how they did it. Every keynote speaker, and breakout session speaker, big bloggers and smaller ones alike, had woven into each of their talks the same message — your relationship with God and people, especially the ones in your own household, are the most important things to focus on. Period. Only the Holy Spirit could have orchestrated such unity.

 

At the end, my heart’s cry wasn’t for greater numbers, it was for a greater passion to seek and please God.

 

Yet, I’m human and broken. In the seasons between, I let go of what I knew to be true. Somewhere along the way I gave my blog away. In my effort to do what I thought I was supposed to do as a blogger, I began to sacrifice too many of the wrong things.

I lost control of my yes and no. I was saying yes for all the wrong reasons and saying no to all the wrong things, with people-pleasing all mixed in to create a toxic mess. I sacrificed things I was never meant to; my walk with God, my health, my children, my husband, my home, my true self. This summer, my one week blog break turned into two months, and I’ve slowly come back to blogging. Though, I am not the same.

Blogging has a different purpose for us individually, and collectively the same for all of us who call ourselves Jesus followers. Everything we do should be motivated by a desire to bring God glory. We live our purpose to represent Him on this earth, so others would know that Jesus was sent by the Father. It’s our holy privilege, even in blogging. We differ in how we go about it, and that depends on how we were designed by our Creator. But that’s another post, entirely.

Today, I surrender, again. I surrender it all. My prayer has become more fervent, “Let Your will be done in this place, and not mine, Lord.”

 

And maybe you can make it a blogger’s prayer for you, too?

 

May my blog be where others may find the Way, the Truth and the Life. 

May my blog never deplete my relationship with You, God, nor my family.

May it only ever point the way to the cross, and be a beacon of light for those who have lost their way to You.

May I be a faithful servant to the precious readers you have entrusted, no matter if they read quiet, and no matter how long they may stay. And as they grace these pages may it be Your grace they find.

And no matter where You may take me from here, no matter what I may find along the way, and I know there will be many distractions vying for my turn to the left or the right, may my most passionate pursuit always be of You.

And to the Father, I echo Your words, Jesus. “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me. And to finish His work.” John 4:34 

“May I glorify You on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What You assigned me to do.”

John 17:4 MSG

In Jesus Name. Amen.


Still living a life surrendered,

Michele-Lyn

5 Mom Tips for Leaving on a Trip

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This is my first year to attend an additional conference besides Allume. In two days I will hop on a plane and fly across the country to join in community, experience incredible speakers and teachers, stay up way too late (since I am bunking with Logan), and walk away with more knowledge than I can even imagine.

I AM EXCITED!!!

But, I have also learned from going to Allume that preparing my family for “mommy being gone” is valuable. Here are my top 5 tips as you prepare for any time away

1. Decide What You Need.

How are you going to communicate with your family while you are away?

Personally, I prefer not to talk to my kids while I am away. I get emotional and miss them too much so it is just easier for me and them if we say “good-bye” when I leave and “hello” when I get back rather than feeling like a yo-yo. But I know many mamas want to say “good morning” and “good night” while they are away.

If that is valuable for you, then I recommend looking at the conference schedule ahead of time and making plans for when you will talk. There is nothing worse than disappointing your kids by not calling when you said you would plus you also don’t want your phone to be ringing in the middle of a riveting session you have been waiting for all year.

I would also encourage getting an external battery for your phone. Between taking notes, taking pictures, updating Twitter and Facebook, your phone juice goes fast. Having an external battery can help you out so your phone doesn’t poop out in the midst of talking with your family.

2. Plan Ahead.

Allume may not be till October but I would encourage you start making plans now for your kids while you are gone.

  • Create sample schedules. What does a typical day look like? What do they enjoy doing? What would be a special to them? What helps if they are having a melt down? What is the pre bedtime ritual?

What comes natural to you will need to be learned by those caring for your kids.

  • Print out some ideas for fun adventures. Are there unique things happening in your town the weekend of Allume? Could the kids go on a” Fall things” scavenger hunt? What about leaving an envelope of money for everyone to go buy a pumpkin to carve or paint?

Special things can help distract kids who are missing mom by day two.

  • Put clothes for each day in a labeled baggie.

When I am gone, I bag up my kids clothes for each day in a baggies labeled “Thursday”, “Friday”, “Saturday”, and “Sunday”. It may not be necessary but can be helpful and one less thing for others to think about.

  • Create a favorite foods list.

Leave behind a suggested meals and snacks list and make it a goal to have your fridge and pantry stocked before leaving.

4. Create Memory Makers.

While I am away I leave behind a “mail box” for each child and my husband. In it there are short love notes, things that I admire in them, words of encouragement, and prayers. They can read one a day or they could read them all every day. The choice is theirs. I also leave behind a treasure box of $1.00 goodies and every day I am gone the kids can pick one at the end of the night. The day I come home there is a “bigger” gift to open.

Honestly, I build up so much excitement while I am gone I think my kids probably think it is fun when I take a few days away.

The notes are something I place in an envelope with the date on it and stick them their baby book when I get home. Lasting memory makers!

5. Enjoy.

I know there are moms who wrestle with guilt while they are away. But I am a firm believer in following Christ’s example of taking time for self.

Refilling and refreshing my tank makes me a better wife and mom when I get home.

I relish everything about the time from the alone time on the plane, buying gossipy magazines, the layover time, eating meals without needing to get up 12 times to get something for someone, and getting ready slowly or at least in my time are all joys I find. But most of all I simply soak in the ability to hear God in the stillness and the change of scenery. I know and trust He is present always but I am never disappointed in how He shows up in special ways when I will take time to honor the act of creativity and rest.

My prayer is that each of you will find joy in Christ and your family while you are at Allume this year. How about you? Any tips and tricks to being gone? Anything you are most anxious about?

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The Allume Conference is approaching quickly!! We are working hard behind the scenes to make this year spectacular!

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will need to get information TO you and get information FROM you. But in order to best communicate with attendees, we send out any conference news through a special newsletter set up specifically for that purpose. Because we have new attendees every year, we create a new newsletter every year.

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