Allume Prayer Challenge

rachel circle 2Hi my name is Rachel and I am so excited to be serving on the Allume conference team as the prayer coordinator this year. Over the past several years, my view of God, His sovereignty, and the power of prayer has grown so much in my heart and I am thrilled to be joining in this capacity. I see the prayer room as a place to take all you are hearing at the conference and drive it deeper into you heart and soul. The prayer room will be a place you can process, journal, and call out to God alone or with others. It is a quiet place to step away and allow God to change you and make you a world changer.

I am so excited about the prayer room! In fact I am so thrilled I want to get started now and that is exactly what we are going to do. The Allume team has some wonderful prayer activities lined up over the next two  months to prepare our hearts to be together. If you are not able to come to conference these prayers will be just as helpful, so please join us.

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Our first Prayer activity is on September 10 when we are hosting a day of prayer online. The theme of Allume 2015 is “Together” on this day we are going to praying for God to bring our hearts, minds and bodies together for his Kingdom work. The body of Christ is so often divided and the heart of this year’s conference is to break down the walls that create division. These prayers will be written to encourage unity in the body of Christ. The prayers and scriptures will be posted on the Allume blogInstagram,  and Facebook accounts. All you have to do to participate is simply check in once an hour on social media and take 2-3 minutes to stop and pray.  If you get busy in the day, pray half at lunch and half at bed time, the important thing is to be in prayer.We are so excited to host this day for our community and trust it will bless us and prepare our hearts for all God has at the conference.  Join us on September 10 starting at 9:00 am EST going through 9:00 pm to lift our hearts up to the Lord asking for Him to bring us together for His Kingdom.

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Our second activity will be a weekly prayer challenge, for the five weeks leading up to Conference.  These challenges will be on different topics, we are asking you to commit to prayer  through these topics throughout the week. The goal is to prepare the soil of your heart to yield wonderful growth come our time together in October! Check out the Allume Facebook and Instagram accounts on Mondays to receive your prayer challenge.

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Our last exciting activity is an opportunity which will allow us already begin to pray for one another. On Instagram each Thursday we will post a photo which says “Let’s pray together” this is a place for you to leave prayer request and for you to pray for the person who left a request before you.  This is a simple way to encourage one another , get to know each other and unite our hearts. The quickest way to unite with someone different than you is to get on your knees for one another.

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Last but not least we are looking for volunteers at different times to join us in the prayer room.  If you’d like to be on our conference prayer team, please end an email to me, Rachel, at prayer@allume.com

When You Create, You Shine

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“Gold, silver and bronze- blue and purple and scarlet yarns- hammered wood and gold overlay…”

They sound like the tools needed for a masterful work don’t they? Indeed they were! These were just a few of the items the Lord instructed the Israelites to gather as they crafted the Arc of the Covenant- the dwelling place for God himself to inhabit his people.

The Lord called upon “all those whose hearts moved them” to offer up these gifts of beauty for his home among them. Oh how I long to bring gifts of beauty before the Lord! As a writer, as an artist, what a joy to spin stories and encouragement and truth with words; to offer them at his feet. Many times, I must confess, my words are messy, muddled, even fumbling. I wonder if my attempts to create something beautiful for the Lord will ever compare to the skilled artisans of the Old Testament, who wielded tools of beauty with such great skill. Do you ever find yourself wondering too? Do you long to see your gifts transformed into something beautiful?

God says its all about the heart.

Those whose hearts moved in them brought gifts. They couldn’t help it. They longed to worship. They longed to give. And you? Sisters, artists, writers, entrepreneurs- you who have a heart stirring to bring beauty and light to the feet of Jesus and to the world that so desperately needs him- you have all the gifts of heaven ready to burst forth from you.

To create means that you shine the light of the One who created you.

You have all the gifts of God poured into your heart, all the creativity of the one who hung the stars into place, who cut the grooves into the earth, and who causes every shade of pink in the sunset to hang perfectly upon blue. That is the beauty that shines from you as you bring your gifts to bear for the benefit of his people.

As your hearts are moved toward God’s own as you create, as you worship, He promises to dwell with you. However messy, however feeble, he comes and breathes life into all you put your hands to. Create a space for him to dwell today, friends. Your offerings of beauty shine bright.

Kristen

www.hopewithfeathers.com

Thoughts on Finding Your Place in the Blogosphere

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I remember it with astounding clarity. The confusion swirling as I tried to find my place among all the cliques, clubs and activities that fill a high school campus to bursting was sending me into my own personal tailspin. I didn’t know if I wanted to be defined by choir or swim team, my role at the student newspaper or my meager attempts to be coordinated and hit my mark on the dance floor.  I just wanted to try them all on, like new clothes or a big crinoline gown. I wanted to twirl and spin for a while to see how they each one felt when I walked and sashayed. I wanted to know if they felt true not only in front of my bedroom mirror, but when I had to show my face to the world.

Some days I thought the kids in flannel shirts and mellow expressions had it figured out best: they didn’t choose, they just quit the game and stood in the corner smirking as the rest of us scrambled. I wanted to quit too. I even spent a year or two in mostly flannel trying to act like a didn’t care. But deep down I really did. I really cared about finding a place. Not the fitting in really, not the acceptance, but just the knowing that there was a spot where I fit, a place where my personality and gifts would collide with like minded hearts and we’d all be a part of something. 

I think many of us approach blogging like that too. We start out with jitters, excitement, a longing to connect or a calling to share, and we want to be a part of something that extends far beyond ourselves. We want to dive deep and live wild, but then we start to look around and wonder if our small offerings fit the landscape of the web….we start to wonder if we fit, and where. And so we try on a few flannel shirts and a few sets of choral robes and some cletes, wondering if they are going to fit just right and feel like us. We camp out on Facebook, then switch to Instagram, then hop on to twitter, wondering which place to connect fits best. We hang with the justice bloggers and chat design with the home decor crowd and we might even (for the love!) give cross fit a little whirl with our fitness blogger peeps. We take classes and head to conferences and try to learn how to grow and figure this whole thing out. All the while, we long to find our people and our place. 

But at the end of the day, we feel the push to find the perfect niche. We fear the freedom that coincides with choosing and wonder if we might choose wrong and be stuck in a groove that isn’t a fit at all. We cling to rules and social media schedules and our desire to get it all “right.” I think at some point we all wonder why we ever had to be just one thing and how its even possible to fit our whole selves into a perfectly square blog sized box.

When we begin to find our blogging groove, we learn that our longing for place and people and a sure fit is never going to come through activities or association.The only thing that is ever going to fill up your soul isn’t actually a place at all, but a person.

He is home and he is in you and he is waiting to let his light shine forth in your online space with all the glory and creativity that he has poured into you, uniquely and beautifully, for such a time as this. You can’t really know where you fit and who you are until he’s the one filling up every inch of your heart space and your computer screen.

You can’t really realize the wonder of your call and of this blogging life until he shows you all the lovely things he poured into your personality. All your gifts, all your affections, all the things that make your heart beat fast and make your mind buzz when you think of sharing them? He put those there! And they are vast and varied and as full of possibility and multiple angles as the breadth of creation.

And if you still aren’t sure about all the grace and loveliness he’s poured into you? Well, the very heart of beauty at the center of being God’s child is that he loves it when you ask questions. He loves to pour out the answers, and loves to equip you for every good work he has prepared in advance for you to do.

So sit with him awhile?

Pour out your ideas, your dreams, your passions and wild hopes. Share with him your fears, your insecurities, your blind spots. And then…listen. Don’t be afraid to spend time in stillness, in rest. Create white space that begs for his voice alone to fill it. Then run into what he reveals. Lean in to the gifts as well as limitations of how he has knit you together and enjoy the journey of finding your voice and your place where he leads you.

I’m so thankful we are waiting on him together,

Kristen

www.hopewithfeathers.com

crossing over

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I don’t like wobbly bridges. The ones that swing are just the worst. I prefer solid ground underneath my feet. But when I look across to the other side of a bridge, the anticipation of something unknown pushes me out, step by step.

A bridge is a narrow place … most are anyway. It’s in that place of confinement that we find ourselves able to walk where there was no way before. So why is it so easy to feel insecure on a bridge, when its entire purpose is to provide a safe means of crossing over?

Even if the bridge doesn’t wobble, there’s still a sense of uncertainty about the whole thing. After all, it is joining two places that weren’t even connected before, and there’s so much emptiness underneath.

I think it’s the crossing over part that’s tough—the time in between leaving what’s familiar and reaching the new, when you’re neither here nor there. All sorts of emotions rise to the surface in the in-between, and most of them are related to fear.

You know what I think is worse than all the fears? Regret. The kind you feel later in life when you realize you should have been braver in a particular moment. That you should have found the courage to step across into something different.

I believe most of us are standing at some sort of bridge. It looks different for each one of us. What’s yours?

The opportunity to love your neighbor, even when it’s hard?

The moment to walk out a dream you’ve nurtured for years?

Or maybe it’s the yearning in your heart to surrender more fully to God?

“But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.”

C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I want to choose courage. And I want you to choose it too.

You won’t really know what’s on the other side until you cross over.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Do You Want to Know What Literary Agents and Publishers Really Think About You?

The moment everything changed for me as an actress didn’t happen in front of a camera and it didn’t take place in an acting class.  I had walked three miles from my tiny apartment in North Hollywood to Ventura Blvd. for a Jamba Juice.  The day was hot, even for the valley, and I’d worked up a healthy sweat by the time I pulled open the front door and let the air-conditioned room carry my body temperature down a few degrees.

Standing in line to order my fresh squeezed juice I realized that the woman in front of me was a casting director I had auditioned for multiple times.  She ordered a shot of wheat grass and a dark green smoothie, paid, and found a seat outside under an umbrella.  I placed my own order and waited inside for my name to be called.  As I waited I wondered if I should say hello.  Should I invite her to the play I was currently in? Would it be uncomfortable if she said no?  Or worse…  what if she didn’t remember me at all?

Our names were called at the same time and we met there at the juice bar, linking eyes for just a moment.  “I know you, don’t I?” Her New York accent was aimed at me. I smiled and reminded her of my name and who my agent was.  She remembered.  “Come sit with me.”  It was more of a command than a request, and all 23 years of me followed.

I realized almost immediately that she was simply looking for conversation, so we talked about the weather and how nice it had been over the weekend.  We’d both been to Venice Beach the day before and saw the same man walking around in a yellow thong speedo. She used the term banana hammock and I spit some carrot juice out with a laugh. After throwing her shot of wheatgrass back she reached into her handbag for a cigarette.

Taking a deep drag she eyed me then, up and down, and asked me pointedly, “Do you know what casting directors think when you walk into the room for an audition?”

“No.”

She laughed then, harder than she’d laughed over the man in the yellow speedo.  “We want you to be it!” She practically yelled.

“I don’t understand.”

“No, most of you people don’t.  Most people go into an interview, an audition, thinking they’re about to be judged, chewed up and rejected.  So they come in cautious and careful.  What I’m saying is that casting directors and agents… we want you to be brilliant!  We pray to God, “Please, let this one be it!” Do you have any idea how much easier our job would be if you came into our office and blew us over? We are rooting for you!”

Her volume rose with each syllable, then crescendoed on that last resounding phrase.  “We are rooting for you!” I couldn’t help but believe her.

She stood then, and brashly said good-bye.

I booked the next audition I went on, and the next, and the next.  Only one thing had changed: I walked in believing that the person who called my name and sat back on the other side of the desk critiquing my performance, desperately wanted me to be brilliant.  So I gave them every ounce of brilliant I had and smiled with confidence, knowing that I had brought my best.  And the remarkable thing was… my best was good enough!

It’s been 15 years since I walked those three miles back to my apartment a changed actress.  And today I’m working to apply the same lesson to my life in the creative realm of Christian ministry.

 

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Today, when I reach out to women’s ministry directors about speaking at their spring luncheon, I do so knowing that I have something to offer that will make their job easier.  I’m not nervous or anxious, because I know that they want the right person for the job! And when I meet with literary agents and publishers about a book proposal that holds chunks of my soul on paper-thin matter, I walk into the room with my chin up and eyes eager to engage.  There is no shame, there is no fear, because I believe that those agents and publishers and women’s ministry directors and acquisition editors want me to be it!  They want me to make their job easier!

And they want the same from you!

Yeah, that’s it.  You want to know what literary agents and publishers really think about you when you walk into the room?  They are hoping beyond hope that you’ve got just what they need!

“They are rooting for you!”

And if, perhaps, the answer is no, over and over again no… that just means you haven’t come face to face with the right publisher or agent who needs what you have to offer. So keep working it out, refining the message, and believing that they are rooting for you.  And so am I!

Wendy Speake

When Building Bridges Isn’t Enough

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I cross it nearly ever day leaving my house.  It’s the fastest route to the interstate, and is a great cut-through to head towards the opposite side of town.  I avoid traffic when I cross over and then shortcut through the neighborhood that is adjacent to mine.  For sure, it’s the best way for me to get most anywhere.

The bridge is just 5 houses down from mine.  Crossing a lush green golf course that I can’t see very well for the tall fences on either side, passing over it takes me to a completely different space.

We just moved to a new house less than 2 months ago.  I hadn’t even been in this neighborhood before we found this house and am having to learn my way around this different part town.  Nevermind that Greenville has been my home for nearly 20 years, this move has exposed me to unfamiliar areas, and I learn new shortcuts (and sometimes long-cuts) several times per week.

The neighbors tell me that our street used to be a dead end until the builders doing work on the golf course created the bridge to provide easier access to the work they were doing.  Now two neighborhoods are connected, that to be honest, are really super different from one another.

It didn’t take us long to realize the massive economic disparity that separates our respective neighborhoods.  Friends would call on the way to visit for the first time, sounding a little nervous and saying, “um…I think we’re lost.  The GPS says we’re close, but it really doesn’t look like it.”

“Just cross the bridge and we’re just a few houses in,” I’d tell them.  “I promise, you’re in the right place.”

One one side of the bridge is a upper middle class suburban neighborhood, and on the other, much smaller old mill houses.  Honestly, it’s such a juxtaposition that the disparity is never far from my mind.  I cross the bridge nearly every single day.

On my way to somewhere else.

As we think about what we’re doing here, you should know that we don’t just want to be bridge builders here at Allume.  We don’t just want to be bridge crossers either. And as I’ve been thinking about bridges, and building them, truly, it’s a great thing to do.  We should do that.  We should build bridges.  And crossing bridges…well, that’s a good thing.  We should cross bridges too.  Definitely. But the thing that my daily drive has been ramming into my head the past 7 weeks is that unless we dig into what’s on the other side of the bridge, unless we lean in to build on the side opposite from where we began, a bridge becomes nothing more than a thoroughfare…a way to get from one place to another.

I don’t want to use bridges just to pass over on my way to somewhere else, I want it to be the thing that helps me experience the other side.

And when we talk about people and relationships and falling on differing sides of politics or theological issues or moral codes, we HAVE to build bridges to help us understand and have compassion on the other side better.  We can’t just drive over, look out the window and observe the different area.  At some point, we have to stop the car, make a friend, and endeavor to truly understand what life is like on the other side of the chasm that was there before the bridge.

If we want to be people who build bridges, then we need to be people who spend time getting to know what’s on the other side.  Bridges aren’t just for passing through, they are for connecting two separate spaces.

If we want to operate in the fullness of our giftings together as a body of Christ, we have to learn to be bridge builders, bridge crossers, and students of a Jesus who asks us to authentically engage with what’s on the other side.

What bridges do you see in your life that you are just passing over?  What opportunities might you be squandering to really make connection in a place that is different from you?  With a person who is different from you?  What do you need to do to engage with whatever is across the bridge?

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BUILD.

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When my friends the Robinsons first bought the corner lot in a beautiful and well-established neighborhood to build their dream home, we all swooned at the level area, privacy providing tree line, and space to roam.  They had been working on plans for the house for years and the day they spray painted a golden shovel to break ground and pray over the lot, we all celebrated that in just 10 short months, this piece of property would be home to their growing family.

It didn’t take too much more than that golden shovel though to realize that what looked good on the surface was really an old trash heap spread around with grass seed thrown over the top.  The farther the building crew dug, the more trash and junk they found.  Kitchen sinks, tools, garbage, and I don’t remember if there actually was a full car or if it just got so bad that we all joked that there was one, were unearthed from that lot.  A plan that was supposed to be done in 10 months, couldn’t even start for over 2 years.  What looked good on the surface was just rotten below, and it wasn’t until they dug more than 50 feet down to find solid ground that the Robinsons could even begin to install footings for their home.  The hole that was excavated to  clear out all the junk below could more than fit and cover their now built 4-story home.

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As this month we think about what it means to BUILD here at Allume, I’m reminded of that story.  Because whether we’re building houses, or blogs, platforms, or communities, at the end of the day, what we’re building on top of is what makes the thing we’re even building able to stand.  It matters that we build on solid ground.  It matters that the soil beneath the surface be stable and good.  Because if all we do is heap up trash and toss some grass and flowers to cover the top, we’re eventually gonna have a whole lot of excavating to do before we can even even begin to build that dream house….or blog…or book…or relationship.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matt 7:24-27

Maybe there is some digging to do before we can actually begin to build?  Perhaps the work needing to be done is excavation…or it could just be just that we need to do some light soil work to get things started?  Are our motives pure for what it is that we plan to develop?  Is what we’re building for God’s Kingdom or for our own?  And let’s not get caught in the trap of building our own kingdom FOR His Kingdom either.  The Kingdom of Heaven is perfectly solid and not looking for new rulers or land-owners.  What God is looking for though are servants willing to till the fields of the earth for His glory.  And as we’re tilling His fields, in building and sowing into His Kingdom, He also asks us to build and sow into one another.

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness…Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.  – 1 Thess 5:5, 11

Whatever I build up, should never tear you down.  In fact, if the ground where we lay a foundation is solid, then perhaps we should just hold hands and dig in together.  I keep thinking about the body being made of many parts, and how each part just builds into the capacity of what the body can do as a whole when it works together.

When I think about some of the most glorious cities I’ve ever visited in my life, New York, Edinburgh, London, Paris, and Barcelona, part of what I love most is the diversity found within the architecture of each place.  Each city was built embracing different periods and styles, colors, climates, and cultures, carrying its own unique DNA because of the differences that collect there together.  And oh how they shine! How magnificent to see the blending of ancient and modern, classical and contemporary.  The beauty lies within the differences.

Imagine friends, what we could build together?  When the site of our foundation is set deep in the One who’s resurrection we celebrated just yesterday?! Oh how that city would shine.  How beautifully diverse, and solid, and lovely that city will be!

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matt 5:14-16

Thankful

Allume 2014-Thanksgiving

Sitting at my sister’s kitchen table in New Jersey, I stare the French bulldog perched on the edge of the sofa straight in the face.

“One, two, three, four….. seventeen, nineteen, thirty-seven, TWENTY”

Sounds emanate from the adjoining room as a wild game of hide-and-go-seek fills my ears, and I find myself  both distracted from writing and simultaneously filled to the brim with a grateful heart.

“Henry is in the kitty litter!!!”

“What?!” I shout, jumping up from the table to find my 2 year old nephew in his hiding place in the closet…ankle deep in smelly grayish pebbles.

“You finded me!” a tiny voice squeals!

“Don’t do that!!! EWWWW!  Gross guys!  Let’s find a new hiding space! Oh Henry…we need to wash your feet!”

And so our Thanksgiving holiday begins…

*          *          *

While our hearts fill with reflections of blessing, and many of our homes fill with family and friends at this start of the holiday season, it is our desire here at Allume, that you know our thankfulness extends deep into this community.

We are grateful for you… our partners, our friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Grateful that we can open the doors of our homes and our hearts and receive the blessings of community in real life and in the online space.  We cheer for you, for your ministries, your callings, and the work that God is doing in and through you.

And for all of these things, we give thanks.  We record gifts, we bless one another, and we praise the Lord for his goodness to do abundantly more than we ever ask or imagine.

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

** I want to add in here that this post was originally written prior to the most recent events of the Ferguson decision and the resulting groanings in pain of entire communities.  In no way do we want to minimize the present pain by continuing to give thanks for the gifts we do have, but as we steward this space and our influence, we want to recognize that this life is simultaneously filled with pain and thanksgiving.  One does not minimize the other and in order to fully honor the Lord, we believe that we must learn how to hold these things together, to use our influence to expand the kingdom of God, and that the Kingdom is fully inclusive of ALL of God’s children.  As we hold pain and thanksgiving in tandem, we believe that a willingness to communicate, listen, and use our influence for the Lord can and will produce holy fruit.  

We have so much to be thankful for, but there is still so much still that my heart groans to see come to fruition. Jesus, let us see the days soon where we celebrate all of our differences and the only privilege we ever have is used to sow an increase in life and equality into the world. Thank you Lord for your creativity in creating us gloriously different, but remove the scales from our eyes that impede us from fuller living as a complete and diverse body of Christ. Today of all the things I’m thankful for, the thing I continue to be most thankful for is that Jesus died on the cross for ALL people and that my entire life should be lived out of that reality.

Today we are thankful for much, but there is still much that our hearts long to see change.  As we set a table for Allume this coming year, know that our hearts are to set it wide with thanksgiving and gratefulness for the beauty of difference that the Lord breathes into our world.

speaker interview with jeremy courtney

Jeremy Courtney is a person you notice first in a room because he is a sharp dresser.  And when I (Logan) first met him at a BBQ a year ago, I wondered why on God’s green earth he was wearing a blazer in the Texas summer heat.  After talking to Jeremy and learning his God-sized story of challenge and hope and loving people, I didn’t care what he wore in the Texas heat.  All I could see was a big ol heart with a passion for loving a group of people that the world often calls “dangerous”.  Jeremy has a contagious smile, and a story that makes you evaluate your own to live braver and love bigger.  It is our absolute pleasure to welcome Jeremy Courtney to our Allume conference this year and know you will have as much fun getting to know him as we have!

Jeremy Courtney - Allume

What was your favorite food as a kid?

Mom’s spaghetti!

What chore do you despise the most?

Paying bills, which requires me to stand in line in offices across our city in Iraq

When was the last time you chatted with your neighbor?

Ha! Right after the city police here in Iraq broke into our house and stole our truck on a falsified
claim from an employee I’d fired that I had stolen the car from him. It was an inside job, so the
disgruntled employee was effective in stealing my truck. Now we walk everywhere we go and my neighbors
think I’m a car thief!

What sound do you love?

My kids giggling uncontrollably when I give them whisker kisses. A mom and dad doting on their child after heart surgery in Iraq

 

Jeremy’s book, Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time, tells the harrowing, highly-acclaimed story of the only love big enough to change a nation—a love that strikes first.  Jeremy’s love for the people of Iraq is captivating. Please go learn more about Preemptive Love and Jeremy :: Website /// Twitter /// Facebook

speaker interview with Kristen Howerton

The first time I (Logan) ever read Kristen Howerton’s blog, Rage Against the Minivan, she was writing about one of her kids riding a bike through a pile of poop and it slinging backwards off of the wheel and onto her.  I laughed til I cried.  And over the years, Kristen has had me vascillating between laughing and crying whenever I read.  She has a gifted way of asking hard questions and cultivating conversation.  And whether we always agree or disagree doesn’t matter so much as the fact that we can always have honest, open, and thoughtful conversations that respect one another.  She is funny, real, wise, and a gifted communicator.  We are blessed to have both Kristen and her husband Mark (both licensed marriage and family therapists) joining us at Allume this year to talk about Blogging and Marriage.  So please welcome, our friend, Kristen Howerton!

Kristen Howerton
What chore do you despise the most?
I don’t mind loading the dishwasher but I HATE unloading it!

What sound do you love?
My kids making up their own songs

If you could paint a picture of a place you have been what would it be?
Cinque Terre, Italy

If you could learn to do anything what would it be?
I would love to play guitar

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

What do you do with 30 minutes of free time?
What’s free time? I don’t understand the question. :)

What would the dream birthday present be?
A trip to a beach somewhere warm.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Not having to take care of anyone or anything

If gifted an all expenses paid vacation to anywhere where would you pick?
Capetown South Africa

If everything in your life aligned exactly as in your dreams, what would your life look like? Where would you live, what would you do?
Honestly, it looks pretty close to how it looks right now . . . being a writer and living near the beach in Southern California. If I could see that beach from my backyard, that’d be cool.

If I was coming to your house for dinner, what would we have?
Chicken with roasted poblano pepper cream

What’s in your purse?
About 3 burts bees lip balms, an ipod cord, some stray receipts, a kids’ necklace, my wallet, my sunglasses, and my phone.

 

Love to know more about Kristen? You can find her here: Website /// Twitter /// Facebook

speaker interview with ashley & jamin mills

He’s tall and thoughtful, she’s short and spunky, and together they are just quite honestly a super cute couple!  Ashley and Jamin Mills have always loved creating things together, and so after years of working on their home and sharing projects on Ashley’s blog, The Handmade Home, it’s became clear that this blogging thing wasn’t just for Ashley, but for their whole family.  So Jamin quit his day job and now they are living, working, and creating together full time!  They are the family we’d all love to have next door and we are thrilled to pieces to have them join us to share more about their journey into full-time blogging this fall at Allume.  You’re going to love them if you don’t already…we most certainly do!  Please enjoy getting to know Ashley and Jamin Mills!

Jamin & Ashley MIlls

When was the last time you chatted with your neighbor?

When we both rolled our other neighbor’s house.

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

Dance like an octopus.

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

Michael Jackson’s Thriller. We tried to learn it on a cruise and failed miserably.

What do you do with 30 minutes of free time?

Wrestle an alligator.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Wait. What? We have to grow up?

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

Ashley: Italy. The shoes. The art. The food. How can you lose?
Jamin: Tahiti. The diving. The ocean. The hammocks. Catch ya on the flip side.

What’s in your purse?

Ashley: My wallet, a bunch of misplaced receipts, and half eaten snacks from our kids. Maybe a couple of ants. Jamin’s purse is more organized than mine.

 

Head on over to get to know this hilarious and delightful couple a little better :: Website /// Twitter /// Facebook

Digital Photography Workshop with Allume Photographer Kim DeLoach

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

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

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YOU can take really good photos!

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

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

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

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

On Being An Instrument

writers prayer

Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for your story.   Flannery O’Connor

This summer I picked up a copy of Flannery O’Connor’s, A Prayer Journal to add to my ever-expanding personal library. I’d read a mix of reviews regarding the contents of her short journal and even now, after reading it myself, I am happy to have purchased it. It amazed me, how many of her prayers echoed my own mutterings and pleas to God. I can’t write apart from God and so my journals bulge with petitions and confessions on behalf of this gift He has given me.

Recently, I shared a few email exchanges with a couple of writer friends, in which both of them expounded on their feelings of frustration, doubt and sense of purpose and worth as it relates to writing. So many of their own thoughts reminded me of the words in O’Connor’s journal, and in my own. I’m grateful for their honesty and willingness to wrestle with the gift, and how it is to be used.

After sitting with their words for a while, I feel compelled to pray for us writers, because though our stories are different, when you know God has trusted you with this particular gift, the struggle to steward it well, is universal.

So, writer friends, join me in praying (or scroll down to hear the prayer, as I pray it over us both)–

Father God, you are the greatest storyteller the world will ever know. You speak and life is formed. You breathe and the wind and waves obey you. Your power is beyond understanding, beyond compare. God you believe in the power of words. You gave us language and voices with which to share your majesty among the nations. You invite us into your story, and grant us the grace to work alongside you, as word weavers, and storytellers. We would not know how, if you had not first shown us in your perfect and holy Word, the very Word who walked among us as a man, as God, as savior. Lord teach us to use our words for kingdom purposes. Part our lips to speak of your glory, of your redemption, of your unfathomable mercy. Jesus shape our craft to reflect all that is good and right and true, that we might draw people into the shelter of your wings. Give us the wisdom to speak honestly, and with love. Keep us from becoming clanging cymbals of self-promotion and idolatry. Lord, your story in us is the only one worth telling. Give us the heart to tell it well. Keep us humble Lord, in a world that determines worth by way of numbers and scales and dollar signs. Lord Jesus, teach us to build altars instead of platforms. Remind us of why it is we have a voice, and what it is you have asked us to do. Unite us in Christ, while defining the beauty of our individual creativity, generously given by your inspired, intentional design. Don’t let us ever think, dear God, that we are anything but the instrument for your story. In your holy and perfect name, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

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

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

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

Well, folks, you do!

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

The Love Dare

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When did love become so hard?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because He first loved us,

The Love Dare team

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


 

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

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

When Someone has Lost a Child Some Things to Do … or Not Do

Grief Quote - CS Lewis

 

Twenty-two years ago today, I buried my daughter, Amy. Amy had a genetic disorder and lived 4 days. She was born on June 9, 1992, died on the 12th buried on the 16th grave. She is buried in another state and I will not be able to visit her. She isn’t there and I know that, but I still wish I were there to put flowers on her grave. To brush the dirt and grass off of her headstone. To sit quietly for a few minutes in the cemetery with the birds singing and a maybe a lawnmower running in the background.

As I reflect on that time 22 years ago, I know that the experience of losing a child played a large part in making me the person I am today. It was also the hardest thing I have ever endured. Yet, I learned much about myself and others during that time.

One of the things I learned was what is helpful and what is not during a situation such as this. I want to share some things TO do and say or NOT to do and say when ministering to someone who has lost a child.

A disclaimer: I do not profess to know other parent’s feelings. I am only sharing what I know from my own experience; what I have learned from talking with other parents who have lost children – children of various ages, infant to young adults.

  1. DO tell them you are sorry for their loss and you are praying for them and their family.
  2. DO take a meal. We had so much food brought to our home that family members packaged it up and put it in the freezer. After things calmed down and all the out of town family left, it was weeks before we had to cook. We could just pull a meal from the freezer. One less thing to worry about in the days and weeks after she died.
  3. DO be specific when offering to help. Instead of saying, “call me if you need anything.” Say “I’ll come by on Tuesday and clean your bathrooms. Or is there another day that is better?” or “I’ll be by on Monday to cut your grass.” It is rare for people to call and ASK someone to clean their bathroom, but it is even rarer for those grieving to turn down an offer such as this!
  4. DO say the name of the child. Days, weeks and months down the road parents want to know that other people have not forgotten their child. I have a sister-in-law whose birthday is near Amy’s. She usually remembers to send me a text, e-mail or phone call letting me know she remembers.
  5. DO send a card or hand written note. Your note doesn’t have to be fancy, long or eloquently written. Just a note letting the family know you care. I was shocked at the number of sympathy cards we received when Amy died. I went back and read every single card multiple times. Currently, they are bound together and in my closet. They are precious. You may think sending a card is not a big deal. It is. And better yet, send the card or note a week or two or even three weeks after the burial. By that time, out of town family has returned home, the parents may have gone back to work and for those on the outside, things look normal. But, I assure you, in most cases, normal has taken on a new image and receiving a card and knowing someone remembers is comforting.
  6. DO offer to babysit, if appropriate. The parents may be overwhelmed with all the details and having someone help with the other children will, most likely, be well received.
  7. DO remember the grandparents. Not only are the grandparents grieving the loss of a grandchild, they are grieving for their children and the pain they (their grown children) are experiencing.
  8. DO remember the siblings. Two years after Amy died, my oldest brother’s son died and two years later his only daughter died, leaving two young children and leaving my brother with only one son, at that time a young adult in his mid-twenties. A few years after Kathy’s death, my brother’s  only living child got married. It was a joyous occasion. The young lady the son married was the only person that had sent my nephew a sympathy card. The only person to acknowledge HIS grief.
  9. If the child is an infant or young child, do NOT tell the parents they can have another one. The child is not a pair of sunglasses or a vase. One does  not just “replace” a child. Even though Amy only lived 4 days, I carried her for 9 months. I HAVE memories and I HAD dreams. Dreams that died with her. Dreams that slowly slipped away the afternoon she died in my arms.
  10. Do NOT tell the parents they are lucky their child died young. Yes, I had someone tell me this when Amy died. I was lucky that she died young and I hadn’t had time to get attached. Please see number 9 above. I assure you, when you bury your child there is no feeling of good luck involved.
  11. Do NOT tell them that it was part of God’s plan. While I knew that to be true, it was not comforting to me at the time. It took months, a couple of years even, for me to embrace that truth. Parents in the early stages of grief are not ready to hear this. It is Ok to say “we don’t understand God’s ways” or simply, “we don’t understand.”

In closing, one of the things I found to be very helpful for me while I processed my grief and walked that long road with ever-changing landscape was listening to Christian music. There are many songs that are fitting, here is just one: God and Time by Newsong

Have you lost a child or someone close to you? How did you process the loss and deal with your grief?

Letter from Logan: The Marrow of Living

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“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” –  Henry David Thoreau

Last month I wrote about functioning with a lack of margin in our lives.  I had begun to feel like life was a whirring blender and I was getting chopped up in it.  Sufficed to say, that is not how I want to live.

I’ve always been of the opinion that if there are things in your life that aren’t working for you…CHANGE IT.

I realize that sounds very black and white and it’s not really always that simple, but the truth is that hard decisions are never simple.  Priorities need to get shifted and sometimes making space to breathe can even mean scheduling unplanned time.

A few days after the margin post I went to the lake with a handful of my closest friends.  We had great plans for jump starting summer’s bronze glow on our skin and sipping sweet tea on the edge of lounge chairs all day.

Turned out, it was cold.

We wore bathing suits on the porch that shortly thereafter got covered with fuzzy blankets.  Not long after the blanketing, in full resignation to the chill bumps covering our skin, we came back inside and put on pajamas and slippers.

Katie and Lindsey brought art supplies with them.  I didn’t feel like just sitting and so asked if I could have a piece of paper and use Katie’s watercolors.

I’m not entirely sure how to explain what happened in my soul in the hours following.  The space between us filled with conversation, and something apparently bottled up in my spirit began to release between brush strokes of colored water onto thick, textured cardstock.  And when I painted the word “breathe” as if prompted by heaven itself, the tears began to roll.

Sometimes we forget to….

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For hours we found ourselves slowly gathering around the table…painting, releasing, sharing, dreaming, encouraging.  We made lots of art.  We remembered that God was the first creative, and that he put that creativity into each of us too.

But when creativity becomes a machine in us, and we begin to produce instead of create, something tenses up and we find ourselves trapped.

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So we make space, and walk in freedom again and create without thought of the end result… and something releases.

*           *           *

Last weekend my family went to the mountains.  And something in my spirit began to exhale again.  I didn’t even know I’d been holding my breath for so long.  Sometimes it’s like that.

Like Thoreau said, I want to suck the marrow out of life.  I want to sit by streams while my kids fish and color what I see.

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I want to strip trees of bark and make baskets and fill them with wildflowers and strawberries that scatter across hills.

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I want to “live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.”

And I want to encourage you to do that too.

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples 

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, 

of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 

 And he will swallow up on this mountain 

the covering that is cast over all peoples, 

the veil that is spread over all nations. 

 He will swallow up death forever; 

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, 

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the Lord has spoken. 

 It will be said on that day,

“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. 

This is the Lord; we have waited for him; 

let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” – Is 25:6-9

**What do you need to cast off, to cut away, or to make space for?  Let’s live full together.  Let’s suck the marrow out of living.

When the Rejection of a “NO” Feels Like the End

AllumeMayThe email came on a Friday afternoon–an email I’d been waiting on for over a month…

The email that would hold the answer to a dream I’d been nurturing for some time, and the answer would be a simple yes or no.

When I saw it arrive in my phone’s inbox, I halted mid-stride in front of the light-filled window. And plopping myself onto the couch in the middle of the room, I took a long deep breath and clicked it open.

And it didn’t take long for me to read the answer.

This time, the answer was no.

I’d been talking with God about the possible answer for over a month. We’d been hashing things out, Him and I. And I thought I’d reached a conclusion which had me settled and stable:

He was in control, and the answer I’d get would be from Him, not from them.

I’d purposed my heart to surrender to whatever it was He’d give, whether it be a yes, or a no.

The email was full of grace, insulated with words of affirmation and cushioned with kindness. But no matter the graciousness of the no, the fact remained that the yes I’d dreamed of, would not become reality. And insulated or not, the dream-spaces of my heart felt the sting.

We’ve all had hard no’s…

Relationship no’s.

Financial no’s.

New endeavor no’s.

No’s are strangers to no one.

And neither are the real and deep feelings of rejection that come with them. Even when a “no” may be best.

The rejection of a “no” often feels like the end. [Tweet that]

And receiving a “no” ignites a grieving of sorts–a letting go of what could have been, with an acceptance of what will never be. At least not how we’d dreamed.

Grieving is hard work.

And grieving is a valley experience, the exact opposite of a mountaintop.

Earlier in May, we went miniature golfing for my son’s tenth birthday. I was last getting out of the car. And as I approached the entrance I couldn’t miss the beautiful tree ahead of me.

It was full of yellow spring blossoms contrasted against the bluest sky.

I stopped.

And I stared.

The yellow on blue was stunning.

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Later I learned why the view stopped me in my tracks: yellow and blue are complements on the color wheel, opposites.

And opposites contain a tension that holds our eyes–a tension that makes us stop and pay attention. If blended together, they make gray–a neutral, uninteresting, and lifeless color. But side by side, in their brightest form, they create a tension our eyes can’t help but notice–a tension we’re drawn to, stunned by, and crave again and again.

Mountaintops and valleys are opposites, and one can’t exist without the other.

Without a valley, a mountaintop would simply be flat, like a plain. And while that plain would have less pain and adversity than a valley, there’d also be no invigorating view either.

Sometimes a “no” is not the end, but the beginning of a yes from God. [Tweet that]

It’s an invitation to start in the valley, and begin the climb TO the mountaintop, with Him.

That “no”, which plummets us to our valley beginning, grabs our attention because of the tension–a tension that stuns us and holds us. Making us take notice, and driving us toward God.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)

May we be a people who surrender to our no’s, embracing with joy the beginnings they bring.

Because sometimes a “no” really is a yes from Him–a yes to begin the climb.

And you know what, friend?

He promises to be with us every step of the way.

 

What “no” have you experienced?

In what way was it actually a beginning?

 

Letter from Logan: Margin

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I heard a sermon several years ago that was one of those that really stuck with me.  Maybe it’s that I feel it often pushed into my mind since I need to remember it.  Maybe, it was just one of those sticky sort of thoughts that resonated and keeps circling back around.  Perhaps I see a need for the word that was shared around me…perhaps I need to practice it more myself.

It was about margin.

Margin…that space between feeling like there is plenty of room to move around and being crammed against a wall.  The edge or border. It’s what keeps a book from feeling stressful when we read…the space between the end of one thought and the end of a page.  Imagine reading where words ran to the very side and into the very center binding.  It feels suffocating to imagine literature laid out in such disarray….no room to think, to ponder, or to breathe between paragraphs even.

Funny how people talk about margin of error too…that tiny space between doing something right and messing it up completely.  The amount by which a thing is won, or falls short.

And life without margin, well that seems absolutely suffocating.

But the truth is that most of us don’t leave enough of it.  Most of us run activities up to bedtime and then even from a propped pillow and outstretched legs, the work goes on.  We facebook or write blog posts or books or work on family budgets.

Our allotment of margin seems to be about as generous as our attitudes while waiting a blessed 10 full minutes in the line of a restaurant touting itself as “fast food.”

I’ve been running the past 2 weeks without margin.  And I kid you not, it feels like the breath has been kicked out of my lungs.

Now I’m not saying that I regret any of the things I’ve done.  Sarah Mae and I attended the Mom’s Night Out premiere in LA, I attended the funeral of Pure Charity’s founder Josh Copher, attended a K3 fieldtrip with one son, and threw my older son’s very first sleepover birthday party.  Individually, none of those things were impossible to do.  Even together would have made for a super full week…words run right up close to the binding of the book of my life.  But when my son came home from school a week ago with head lice, I thought I was going to blow my lid.

“I DO NOT HAVE MARGIN FOR THIS!!!” I yelled on the phone through tears to my husband.

And I didn’t.

So I panicked and stressed and missed out on things I’d tried to make time to do and couldn’t.  And then I felt like a failure.  I missed my son’s actual birthday, I missed a weekend of time with my family, my parents, and my sister’s family from NY.  Everything I did, needed to be done, but the balls I was trying to juggle in the air came crashing down and cracked open on the floor like eggs…fragile, messy, and broken.

Because I didn’t make space for the unexpected.  I didn’t preserve margin for life unplanned.

And so… busy moms and women out there reading this, let me put out this challenge to us as a community to make room for unexpected living.  Make room for afternoons of popsicles with our kids on the porch.  Make room to write the blog post that was due by midnight last night (ahem…yes, I’m nearly 24 hours late on this), make room for unexpected drop ins from friends, or the craft project that feeds your soul.  Make room for cooking a good dinner, and actually sitting down to enjoy it.

We can’t be a people of invitational living, if we operate beyond the margins and thereby force ourselves into rigid and stressful function.

Lets live full… to take in the content we’re living, because we leave enough room to savor it.

**If you’re great at this, please share a few tips that you employ to create margin in your life.  If you’re not, share below a couple of things that you can put into practice right now to help put more margin back into your living.

Hope for Our Friends at Pure Charity

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The thing about a community is that when one of its members is affected by something, all of the members feel it.

To be a people of living invitation, we must be a people of living investment as well…and today, along with our dear friends at Pure Charity, we mourn the loss of one who has lived a life full of investing and inviting others into the work that God is doing around the globe.

Pure Charity, an Allume partner for the past 3 years, and dear friends to many of us individually, announced today the passing of their founder and CEO, Josh Copher.

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A man full of life, vision, and love for the least of these, Josh leaves behind his precious wife Kristin (who spoke on the Impact Panel at Allume this past year) as well as a legacy of generosity and a life poured out for the blessing of others.

We deeply grieve the loss along with our friends and ask that you join us in praying for the family, Pure Charity, and the millions of lives that they touch as they navigate this difficult time.  And in the words of Pure Charity and on behalf of them in this loss, as the Allume community I ask that you join me to pray, support, and choose hope for Kristin and the PC family.

In the name of Jesus we speak blessing on the Copher family, on the entire Pure Charity team, and over the decisions that will need to be made about what it looks like to move forward without this passionate and visionary leader.  We ask the Lord for comfort that surpasses all understanding, for peace that calms, and for joy to arise from the ashes of tragedy.  Father we thank you for the life of Josh Copher and the ways you have used him for your Kingdom, and we thank you that he is with you now in perfect peace and health.  In Jesus name, Amen.

– Logan

 

Time for a Moms Night Out

image1If you joined us at Allume this past October, then you got a chance to hear a little bit about this super fun new movie set to release on May 9th…Mother’s Day Weekend.  We have the privilege to share a bit more about it here with all of you now!

The kind people at Sony Pictures and Provident Films sent me a sneek peek of the movie (which was an exciting thing in itself to see a movie before it comes out) and I have to tell you that my girlfriends and I laughed til we cried!  I honestly don’t know when I’ve seen a movie that feels so true to life of how it feels to be a mother.  There were joys, chaos, those moments you think you’ll lose your mind, and the moments you just want to snuggle your little ones and keep them small forever.  My friends and I felt like finally, as mothers, we were understood by Hollywood and the movie industry.  If you’re a mom, you MUST go out and watch this movie.  If you’re not, please watch it and know that the emotions these women experience (as insane as they will seem) are totally legit!

Grab your girlfriends and head out Mother’s Day Weekend to treat yourselves to a girls night out with Moms Night Out.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

And if my endorsement isn’t enough to convince you that you are in need of a laugh this hard, check out the official movie trailer here now!

Having trouble viewing, click here to watch the trailer!

We Need YOUR Thoughts on the Allume Blog

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Hey everyone, Sarah Mae here!

Just a quick update to let you know that we haven’t abandoned the blog, we’re simply cooking up some goodness behind the scenes that will make the blog more focused, and overall, better.

And speaking of focus, would you take two minutes and share what you most want from the blog? How can Allume best serve you in the online space?

We really appreciate your feedback – thank you so much!

Love to you all,

SM

12 Days of Christmas!

Many of you this year at Allume had the privilege of learning more and engaging in the incredible work of Freeset to employ and offer job training to women who have been rescued from human trafficking.  Freeset has the most amazing heart to bring freedom and new life to women specifically in India, and we love that we can partner with them to encourage women on this side of the globe to make connections with women on the other side of it as well.  We all have stories to tell, and when we can intersect our stories…when we here can be a part of creating new stories there, we see power and movement channeling through us in the Kingdom of God.

We have the opportunity to share a special story with you today, as a part of the 12 Days of Christmas initiative, from Freeset’s Founder, Annie.

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On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…3 Bengali Hens… There is a village that we visit often.  A village with a dark secret – many of its daughters are sold into prostitution.  Priti, now working at Freeset in Calcutta, is just one of the many that end up in the brothels of Sonagacchi.  Knowing that we are looking at planting a freedom business in her village, Priti pleaded with us to visit her family home.  The next time she went home, we intentionally made the trip out to visit.

It was humbling, we were treated like royalty – and their prized hens sacrificed to feed us a delicious chicken curry.  As we left– I watched Priti – her arms linked with mine – she held her head high as she walked through the village beside me.  No more shame in her eyes – only pride and a quiet dignity.

We’ve been back many times now and I’ve even been allowed to sit on the mudfloor and help roll “roti”(Indian flat bread) and cook over the mud stove fuelled with sticks and cow dung.  I am part of the family now and their hospitality continues to humble me.     Priti’s village is called Valkundi and Freeset has been able to purchase a block of land nearby. Freeset Fabrics is now registered as a new business, plans are drawn up and we hope to start building soon – a  new weaving and sewing unit will be established there. Priti is the eldest daughter and she was sacrificed and sent to Kolkata, a source of income for her family.  Freeset Fabrics will ensure that there will be other choices for girls like Priti.     The gift of a delicious chicken curry – a symbol of acceptance and welcome into a new community.

The more Freeset bags and tees that sell, the more women Freeset is able to train to work in freedom. Support these amazing women and get Christmas gifts by buying a bag or tee at www.freesetusa.com.
Read yesterday’s 12 Days Freedom installment here.
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Thank you for using your voice of influence on behalf of the amazing women of Freeset and those who seek freedom.
{for freedom}
Kristi 
Join us here at Allume, to partner with Freeset and become a part of the freedom story. Watch the Freeset video, shop their gorgeous bags, change lives.
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Allume Worldwide Christmas Coffee…You’re Invited!!!

The Christmas Season is upon us, and if you’re as excited as we are to already be digging into Ann Voskamp’s book on Advent, “The Greatest Gift,” raise your hand?!  Really though, during this season as we gather around the manger to celebrate God’s greatest gift to each of us, we want to encourage you to gather around homes all over the world to celebrate the gift of friendship.

SO we’re trying something new here with Allume (which explains why we’re a little behind on getting you the information…figuring out the technical stuff always trips Logan up!)  We all enjoyed so much making friends through Allume both online and at the conference this past year, that we think once a year just doesn’t seem like enough chances to put faces and avatars together.  And because a conference takes a heap of time to put together and gets hard to travel to sometimes, we thought we’d begin to create reasons to gather with other women in your area throughout the year.

SO…we’re partnering with Mary & Martha to bring you the first ever

Allume Worldwide Christmas Coffee

on Thursday December 12th!

MaryMartha

Mug&Tray

This is your chance (if you were looking for a reason) to gather Allume friends together in your area! Grab friends new and old and let’s celebrate this Christmas season together on Thursday, December 12th!

Our 2013 conference sponsor, Mary & Martha, will send the first 25 hostesses to sign up a bag of their signature coffee, and each hostess participating will be entered to win the lovely tray with 6 coffee mugs pictured above (2 available)!  Feel free to vary the time if you prefer a morning, afternoon, or evening meetup, then just make sure you note it when you sign up to host a gathering in your area! Logan will be hosting at 8pm in Greenville, but you might prefer 9am…just do what feels right for you!  And if having people to your home freaks you out, but you want to get together, then pick a local coffee shop to host!  The point isn’t what it looks like when you do it…just that you gather!

So put some coffee on, bring a goody to share with you, and let’s celebrate the Christmas season together, Allume Style! So whether you’ve been to the conference, wanted to come, or just peeked around online, we want to invite you to join us as we celebrate friendships around the greatest gift born to us in a manger!

Sign up HERE to host an Allume Christmas Coffee in your area!

Love,

Logan and Sarah Mae

Black Friday Tickets, Art, and a Christmas Coffee Get Together!

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Happy Monday!

Just a few things to share with you all…

First, mark your calendars for Thursday, December 12th, because Allume is partnering with Mary & Martha to encourage Christmas Coffee gatherings all over the world, and we want YOU to be a part of it. Stay tuned, details are forthcoming!

Next up, many of you have asked where you could get a copy of the “Behold!” scripture print we had at Allume. You can get one at Red Letter Words by heading HERE. Different colors, styles, and sizes available!

And last, SUPER EARLY BIRD TICKETS GO ON SALE THIS FRIDAY!!!!!! WOOT! They’ll be on sale at midnight, EST, and there are only 10 at a discounted price! Head here and bookmark the Eventbrite page so you don’t miss it!

That’s all, folks! Have a lovely day!

Sarah Mae on behalf of the Allume Team

Your Head Shots Are Available to Download! WOOT!

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allumeheadshots

Kim is AMAZING.

Ya’ll.

YA’LL! She did an incredible job with headshots. Just look at you beautiful people!

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Lovely. And Kim had a wonderful time shooting you. Here’s what she has to say:

“I enjoyed meeting each of you beautiful women! If you need further edits on one of your headshot images please don’t hesitate to email me your request. kimdeloachphoto@gmail.com.”

Find Kim, and even hire her, by heading over to her blog!

Now what are you waiting for?! Go get your headshots HERE. And yep, they are free to download and do with as you wish! Enjoy!

Love, Sarah Mae :)

A Blessing Over You All

logan and sarah mae

Allume this weekend….

Can I just say, “WOW!”

There is a lot to decompress, but I wanted to share something with all of you that was spoken over the entire conference last night.  To seal things up and to encourage along the way home.  The vision that Sarah Mae began…and the one that the Lord is now revealing to me… that we will continue to implement together moving forward, is to call you all into a space and a place where we use our whole lives and the spaces we have online for the glory of our King.  So until we have slept and can piece together more cohesive thoughts, we speak again over ALL of you in this community (whether you were with us or not), what David Walker shared in worship on our last night:

May the blessings released through your hands cause the windows to open in darkened minds.

May the suffering your calling brings
Be but winter before the spring.

May the companionship of your doubt restore what your beliefs leave out.

May the secret hungers of your heart harvest from emptiness it’s sacred fruit.

May your solitude be a voyage into the wilderness and Wonder of God.

May your words have the prophetic edge to enable the heart to hear itself.

May the silence where your calling dwells foster your freedom in all you do and feel.

May you find words full of divine to find warmth to clothe the dying in the language of dawn.

May the slow light of Christ’s Communion be a sure shelter around your future.

Amen.

We love you all and are humbled to have shared this weekend with you!

Logan and Sarah Mae

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?

 

Pray, Rescue, Give…{Impact Opportunities}

Today, we’re releasing to you the next 3 Impact Opportunities with these incredible Allume partners!!!

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After we share the final 3 Impact Opportunity options tomorrow, you will have the chance to sign up for the ONE that peaks your interest most! (The sign-up link will be added to the bottom of each Impact Opportunity post as well as in the Conference/Super-Fun Sign-ups tab on the Allume navigation bar, and in a link on the sidebar!) Remember, there is limited space in each opportunity, so sign up quickly to make sure you reserve your spot!

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

 

ER and freeset

Use Your Voice for The Modern Day Slave

The Exodus Road is a nonprofit organization fighting sex trafficking by empowering undercover investigation and rescue. The organization has supported the rescue of nearly 200 victims in the course of one year. They help support the work of over 30 covert investigators and work with nearly 20 organizations active in rescue and restoration. They provide covert gear, operational funding, and training and support to the brave men and women who are literally kicking down the doors.

Freeset is a fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. They make quality jute bags and organic cotton t-shirts, but their business is freedom. Using an “upside down model” of business, they employ women with little or no marketable skills or education, and then pay those ladies above a fair wage. Together, they are changing not only the lives of the women they employ, but are impacting the entire community which is located in the middle of one of the largest red-light districts in the world.

Together, The Exodus Road and Freeset will be hosting an impact opportunity focused on using your voice for the voiceless–the modern-day slaves. We will be engaging in five unique activities:

  • Education about the issue of human trafficking and the importance of holistic, sustainable, strategic approaches to fighting it.
  • A 20-minute workshop on how to effectively tell the stories of trafficking victims with dignity and effectiveness.
  • Opportunity to learn about and join The Exodus Road’s #blog4rescue team of bloggers who commit to writing once a month about the issues of trafficking and freedom. We’ll explain the program and encourage bloggers to sign up online, gaining them accessibility to a private section of The Exodus Road site with archived prompts, stories, and images from the front lines.
  • Watch covert footage from a recent raid in India. After watching the film, participants will be individually reading a script which will tell the story of the footage. Bloggers will literally be the “voice for the voiceless.” The audio will then be used in the creation of an inspirational film sponsored by both Freeset and Exodus Road and will be made available within two weeks of the Allume Conference.
  • Provided space to write a post or participate in a social media blast about the realities of human trafficking. As time allows, we’ll provide you with stories, prompts, images and statistics to share with your online sphere of influence.

In an effort to say thank you for supporting the work, The Exodus Road will be partnering with Freeset to provide a coupon for a steep discount on a limited edition bag to all attendees!

Participation in the #blog4rescue team and the video is optional, but highly encouraged.

We’d like to ask all participants to do the following before they sign up for our Impact Opportunity:

  1. Follow Freeset on facebook and twitter (@Freeset).
  2. Follow The Exodus Road on facebook and twitter (@theexodusroad).
  3. Take some time before the conference to familiarize yourself with both organizations via video, social media, or web articles.

 

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Join @theseedcompany in the Allume Prayer Room to impact eternity NOW.  Come and interact with Bibleless people groups around the world, engage God’s heart in prayer, and get a free #EndBiblePoverty t-shirt!

Did you know nearly 200 million people don’t have a single verse of God’s Word? The Seed Company is partnering globally to end Bible poverty for nearly 1 billion people today, yet great need still remains.

A friend’s response to this staggering need for God’s Word is simple: “I have. They don’t. I will.”

What happens when God’s Word is made available?

Prakash Amdabad is a poor farmer from northern Bihar, India, who has suffered from epilepsy most of his life. More than 50 years ago, his family was forced into landless poverty when Prakash’s landlord stole their property.  In 2012, Prakash’s son urged him, “Go to the church. They have a radio telling about Jesus in our language—He will heal you.” Eventually Prakash went and heard Bible stories, songs, and Scriptures in his own language. Prakash experienced Jesus in a powerful way and was miraculously healed of his epilepsy. With a changed heart, he began to pray for his powerful landlord, Yadav, who had stolen his family’s property.

One morning, with great courage, Prakash went to the house of Yadav and gave him a listening device with God’s Word in their common language. For the next four days, Prakesh prayed for Yadav. On the fifth day, the landlord came to Prakash’s village with his hands on his head—“My Prakash, ever since I started listening to this, I have been restless and not at peace. Please pray for me. I have come today to give you back your land. Please forgive me!”

How does a sick and illiterate man in an unassuming village become an agent to demonstrate God’s power, annulling injustice and bringing 65 other villagers to faith in Christ?  The Word of God moved in and transformed them.

The Word of God changes everything. Yet millions don’t have access.  Will you join us in prayer and action to #endBiblepoverty?

“God shapes the world by prayer.” – EM Bounds

Your prayers will impact eternity.

  • 2:30– 3:15pm: Write Scripture and encouragements to send to Bible translation projects
  • 3:15 – 3:55pm: Interactive prayer for the Nations to End Bible Poverty
  • 3:55 – 4:00pm: Pass out free #EndBiblePoverty t-shirts!

To participate in an interactive prayer and impact experience, join us in the Prayer Room on Saturday, October 26th from 2:30-4pm at Allume!

 

OCC_logo

 

Operation Christmas Child is a project of the international relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse.  Since 1993, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.

Come join us from 2:30 to 4:00 on Saturday at Allume for Christmas in October—Christmas music, Christmas cookies, and of course Christmas shoeboxes! Grab a box, fill it with school supplies, toys, and hygiene items, and send it to a child across the globe. We will share some fun ways to participate this year and explain how you can be a part of reaching the next 100 million children. You can be one of the first to try our newly designed interactive platform that allows you to build your shoebox online. You can send a note, picture, and even challenge your friends!

We will have a Question & Answer session with Alex Nsengimana, who received a shoebox while he was living in an orphanage in Rwanda after the genocide. Hear this incredible man talk about his journey to find love and forgiveness – and how it all started with a simple shoebox.

“A shoe box becomes a key to a closed door, for children to hear the Good News that God has not forgotten them.” – OCC international volunteer

 

Introducing…The Allume Impact Opportunities {Part 1}

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

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

A Few Things My Allume Roommate Should Know…

It’s only fair really, that I go first you know.  So that the jitters any of you newbies might be feeling can quickly dispel when you realize things about me that are sort of… well… roommate access level information.  So here goes…my letter to my roommate, Sarah Mae.  Do me a favor and please don’t delay in linking up your “Things My Allume Roomie Should Know About Me” type posts below…just so I’m not left out here hanging alone in all of my oddities!

Logan and Sarah Smilebooth12

Dear Sarah Mae,

I should probably share a few things with you before we’re cuddled up all snug in our hotel room at Allume in October…just so that you have time to get over it all.

October in South Carolina is gloriously gorgeous with cool weather and the colors of fall foliage… which also means that my allergies will be in full force.  And by full force I mean, we could be at def-com level complete with breathe-right strips and still battle serious snoring.  Sawing logs my friend.  It happens.

So if you won’t hold that against me, I wont be weirded out when you rub your feet together incessantly in bed just to get comfortable….since I already know that bizarre fact about you beforehand too.  I don’t get it, but still ,that’s got to be a weirdness cancellation sort of thing happening here right?

And also, in strange places, I have been known to sleep talk…or walk…or suddenly yell out.  And by yell out, I don’t mean a minor shout…I mean more of say, a scream.  It’s freaky I know.  So just to avoid that, I might need to take a Tylenol PM.  Which leads to it’s own sort of “joys”…like drooling.  I’ve heard….not that I have experience with it, but I’ve heard that sleeping heavily can cause one to drool…alot.

You should also know that I really love late night talks with friends in my room.  Which will leave me exhausted, but thankfully, you’re wired the same way.  And the good news is that if you’re more energetic than I am, it’s ok…I have totally been known to fall fast asleep sitting upright in a room full of people.  It’s not exactly like narcolepsy, but more of a really fast-track way to peaceful slumber despite the presence of loads of guests.

When that peaceful slumber comes to an end too, and thank heavens we both operate in this same space, but please don’t speak to me until the sweet nectar of a cup of coffee has touched my lips.  I really won’t have anything nice to say until after that point.  I’m sorry to say, but this is probably also partially responsible for my propensity to walk around with a toothbrush in my mouth for lots of minutes.  I’m not vigorously brushing the entire time per say, but more of a “soak” in toothpaste scenario.  I think somewhere along the way, I have become convinced that if I soak my teeth in toothpaste while I brush for a long time, that top right incisor that is horribly stained from coffee consumption might magically whiten.  I’m still waiting on that glorious day.

You should also know that I prefer to shower at night, I wear Christmas pajama pants year round, and there is a strong possibility that I will not wash my hair but once during the entire 5 days that you and I will be together.  I will however use a gallon of dry shampoo, lots of deodorant, and a few spritzes of perfume.

I might wear these boots the entire time…

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But I haven’t decided yet for sure.  I might get crazy and throw in a pair of heals just once.  But let’s be honest, I haven’t thought much about what I’m wearing beyond those boots.  Because really, with boots like those, does anyone even notice if I rock a bathrobe the whole time?

But mostly Sarah Mae, I’m excited to be doing this thing with you.  And despite being grumpy before coffee or clad in bathrobes and boots, I’m excited to spend time with you my friend.  And because I’m a gifter, I’ll probably bring you a present…because that’s how I roll.  And I know you’ll bring the chocolate.

And one last thing you should know…which you already do…when I get nervous (and I WILL before I stand up in front of 450 women I deeply care about,) I am gonna need you to hold my hand in our room and pray with me.  If I mess something up, or say the wrong thing, or something doesn’t happen the way I’d hoped, I need you to grab my face and remind me that there is grace for that and that Allume is a place of love and community and grace….lots and lots of grace…even for those of us running it.

I’m excited, and nervous, and anticipating the things that the Lord is going to do during this time with us all!  I can’t wait to see you and to get knee-deep into the Kingdom of God with you and all of our sisters at Allume!

Love your guts,

Logan

 

Get Naked

Get Naked for Allume

I’ve been hiding, although I don’t like to admit it. I believe it is a beautiful thing to be vulnerable, to trust another with my story, to let myself be real. But at what cost?

Will she still like me?

Will she still want to be my friend after she hears what I’ve done, what I do?

My husband shared how, in a conversation with a dear friend, he learned the power and beauty of true confession–the kind of confession that is the truth, the nitty-gritty truth.  The truth that when you tell it, it stings.

True friendship, true community, means being honest. We lay sin out on the table. And Jesus, in His mercy, in His grace, picks it up and covers us with His blood.  Trying to cover ourselves through hiding, through telling half-truth confessions, but not the naked story, is not believing in what Jesus did for us.

I know how difficult–how scary and risky–it can feel to trust. But if there is an opportunity, in a safe place, to share the truth, the naked truth, with a friend, what else can you do? Might it still, possibly, despite the sting, be worth the risk?

By trying to cover ourselves, in our pride, and hiding our sin from friends, we are forgetting (and thus rejecting) how Jesus was stripped bare: First, when He was born as a man, and then, again, in His sacrifice on the cross–His taking on all our sin.

If we love Jesus, don’t we need to be naked, too?  Don’t we need to trust a little more, let Him cleanse us and abolish pride and worship of our self-image by confessing, truly confessing, to whom He brings?

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed (James 5:16).

In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes,

Confession in the presence of another believer is the most profound kind of humiliation. It hurts, makes one feel small; it deals a terrible blow to one’s pride . . . but we cannot find the cross of Jesus if we are afraid of going to the place where Jesus can be found, to the public death of the sinner.

So this time, when I confess, I must not hide behind platitudes, generalities.

Rather than saying, “Oh, I confess I have issues with control”, I must confess: When my boys were supposed to be getting ready for football but were goofing off and running back and forth from the front porch into the living room with their cleats on, I yelled and told them they were driving me crazy and locked them out of the house.

Rather than saying, “I get angry at my kids sometimes,” I must confess that I resent chaos, loudness, the kids not listening to me, and the love I show them is often conditional. I resent the tough stuff of parenting.  I want them to listen, and I get mad when they don’t.

Rather than saying, “My husband is pushing me towards the Father and it is good, but I’m having a hard time with it”, I must confess that we argued in the kitchen and I resent that he loves me so much that he fights for my heart, wanting me to trust the Father more, surrender more, die to these sins that hurt our kids and our marriage. I can be bitter towards him because ‘yes’, I want to change, but I don’t want to do the hard work of it all.

Ouch.  

Saying these words aloud, face to face, in community–and here, friends, as I share these words with you–convicts me: Being anything but naked about my sin is not what Jesus plans for me. It is not what He plans for you.

Those who merely hate tribulation, renunciation, distress, defamation, imprisonment in their own lives, no mater how grandiosely they may otherwise speak about the cross, these people in reality hate the cross of Jesus and have not found peace with God.  But those who love the cross of Jesus Christ, those who have genuinely found peace in it, now begin to love even the tribulations in their lives, and ultimately will be able to say with scripture, ‘We also boast in our sufferings’ (Bonhoeffer, “Discipleship and the Cross,” Bread and Wine).

I must go where I don’t want to go. I must be real, my heart stripped naked, completely open before my God. And when I hide the truth of my heart to my friends but say I love community, I am a hypocrite.  I care more about my image, how my friends perceive me, than Jesus coming and releasing me from these sins of my heart.

I want breakthrough to new life.  I want to hate my sin, not hold onto it.  I want “everything to become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and so I must trust Him with my sin and I must confess.  And when I confess to another person, I am letting go of the pride that wants to hide the sin.  I am humbling myself before Him, saying I can’t do this on my own.  I’ve messed up.  I need you.  Please forgive me and make me new.

There is so much hope here, girls.  I try to be real with friends now, after years of speaking in generalities and hiding.  There is freedom and beauty in saying I don’t have it all together–and this is what it looks like–but my Father does.  And I trust Him. I choose Him.

In being naked, I say ‘yes’ to needing Him, and the community He brings, around me.

Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the LORD does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD.
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin (Psalm 32:1-5)

How do you feel about this sting of confession?  What is now stirring your heart?

Also, here is a link to the sermon, “Nakedness”, by Kevin Kim. Kevin’s words helped me be willing to finally be open to leaning on community and trusting them with the stuff that is happening in my heart right now. I would love to know what you think.

Important Allume Hotel Information

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Hello lovely Allume friends!

We wanted to touch base with you to let you know a bit of news surrounding this year’s conference!

You know how sometimes at church (especially on Christmas and Easter), the pastor will ask everyone to slide to the middle to make room for people coming in?  Well, we’re kinda having a bit of one of those moments right now with Allume.  Don’t freak out, we have some alternatives set up, but if you’re maybe looking to cut down costs or make new friends this year, we’re gonna ask you to slide over to make some room as well….in your bed! :-)

Unbeknownst to us, US Cycling Team member, George Hincapie, is hosting a big ol cycling shindig in Greenville the same weekend as Allume.  And because I’m not a cycling enthusiast, honestly I had no idea that so many people in the world are so enthusiastic about cycling!  But let me tell you….there are ALOT of people excited about cycling, and apparently about George too!  And, because of this cycling excitement coming to Greenville, lots of enthusiasts are coming as well.

Which means for Allume… that our hotel block is sold out!  In fact, our entire hotel is now sold out.

But never fear….we have a rapidly created back-up plan!  2 doors down from the Hyatt (our official conference location) is a very lovely Holiday Inn Express which has opened up a block of rooms for our conference.  So if you’re not quite to the point of scooting over in your bed, or asking someone else to scoot over, you can book at the Holiday Inn.  I’m gonna be honest and say, there may be more enthusiasts descending on our lovely town, so don’t delay in figuring out where (or who) your’e bunking with for the conference in October!

If you want to find roommates, the pop on over to our Allume Facebook page, or ask around on Twitter using the #Allume hashtag!

To book with the Holiday Inn, use the code “ALL” when making reservations in order to receive the $159 rate and be included in our Allume block.  The number for the Holiday Inn Express is  864.678.8000. (**as of 8/2/13, the Holiday Inn is now sold out as well.**)

Can’t wait to see you all in October!  And if this hotel fills up too, then know we might really, REALLY, ask you to scoot over and make some room! And if it makes you feel any better, I’ll be snuggling up to Sarah Mae and crossing my fingers that she doesn’t snore!  We’re not asking you to do anything that we’re unwilling to do ourselves!  And just think of the fast friends you will make!

**So ladies… we’re to that point now. The SOS (Scoot Over Some) moment has arrived!  If you already have a room booked and are willing to share (pretty please?!) then please email our fabulous team member, Janelle Miller at QueenOfTheHouseOfBoys @ gmail dot com or tweet her at @jjxrmill to let her know how many extra ladies your room can accomodate.  If you’re looking for a room, then please let Janelle know that too so that we can find a room for you.  We are working hard to help everyone find a spot, but we need your help.  And honestly friends, we need your generosity and your grace.  Amongst the number of rooms we blocked, there is PLENTY of room for everyone, but we just need to snuggle up and take Allume from Exciting-Conference to Exciting-Conference-with-Massive-Slumber-Party status!

Looking forward to our time together!

Logan and the Allume Team

5 Ways You Know You’re Doing Too Much

 

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I am a “go-go-go” person. I seem to somehow involve myself in everything. If I see a need, I usually volunteer. This isn’t a practice I’m encouraging you to emulate-but instead it’s something I’ve lately realized is quite a problem. After years of overcommitting myself, I now see a pattern. It’s a cycle of “go-go-go” followed by a swift crash and burn. When I fill my calendar to the max, my body eventually becomes physically spent and my motivation to be involved in anything outside of sleep waivers.

As writers, mom’s working inside or outside the home, wives, friends, daughters, disciples, and countless other roles, we tend to get involved everywhere, don’t we? We see a need, and we jump in.

And I wonder, have you stopped to look at how this lifestyle is affecting you and those around you? Do you burn-out? Do you recognize when a burn-out is around the corner? Do you recognize when you’ve overcommitted yourself? Only recently have I begun to slow down and truly seek His agenda for my time and energy. With that said:

Here are 5 Ways you know you’ve committed to too much….

  1. You feel like you’re just ‘going through the motions’
  2. You neglect other responsibilities {family, home, job, etc.}
  3. You start to dread the things you normally love
  4. Your body tells you so {‘Can I just get a nap, please?’}
  5. You neglect your time with Jesus

A few years ago I had a very wise friend tell me (and I’m paraphrasing), “a need doesn’t constitute a calling“. This phrase runs through my head often. I now realize that I must sift very carefully through the needs and opportunities laid before me. Just because a ministry volunteer position opened up or someone needs a leader for VBS, doesn’t mean it is my duty, or my calling to step into those roles {even if it is a passion of mine!}. We must go to the Lord over each opportunity presented to us.

Sometimes us ‘go-getter’ types can get caught filling our calendars with what others think we’re supposed to be doing, rather than with what we really should be doing. Sometimes we neglect to pray about who He may want leading a particular ministry, or contributing to specific blog. Maybe He has that role reserved for someone else, and it’s our responsibility to turn down the opportunity on their behalf. Not only will this bless this intended participant, but it could also bless your life in ways not immediately apparent. Perhaps He wants to give you some much needed time to breathe and focus on your family. Maybe He wants you to focus more on your personal blog. Have you thought about that? Sometimes it is our job to pass on opportunities in favor of other women, women who may need the encouragement of another to step up and lead.

If you understand your purpose, it is easier to set boundaries.

-Hula Hoop Girl, by September McCarthy

Each season of life brings new opportunities and new limitations. Because He is the ultimate Ruler in our lives, He deserves to control our schedule, honing in on what we’re called to do for Him in each season. We must ask Him to show us when and how we can step back, give another an opportunity, and determine when He has truly opened a door He wants us to walk through.  We must properly sift through what’s on our respective plates, for if we do, He will not neglect to lead us exactly to where He wants us!

Happy sifting, sisters!

By,  Mandy Scarr

 

It’s not too late for a tune-up…

sunset for allume

“When our kids are grown gone, we want to be just like you and Mary.”

That is what a friend said to my husband sometime back.  He was referring to the fact that John and I travel a lot, but we didn’t just start that when we had an empty nest.

AND…it isn’t the travelling that is the key.

It is about learning to do this thing called life together, even when things are not so great.

Let me start at the beginning…

John and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in May of this year.  Life didn’t turn out exactly like I thought it would.  I don’t have 2-4 children.  I don’t live where I thought I would.  I am not doing the work I thought I would be doing. But life is good and my marriage is even better!  I am married to my best friend, yet life has not always been roses.  Some of you may know that we have buried a daughter, we left our home of 25 years and moved across the country, we’ve endured sickness, and we have had periods of no income.  While these things help shape who we are, they do not define who we are or what our marriage will be like.  Marriage takes work, everyday.  Every year.  And then some.

There are a few things that I believe are key when it comes to having a good marriage.  Here are a few ideas:

  • have date night.  Take the time to be a couple at least once a month.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  Buy a bag of $2.00 popcorn and rent a movie for $1.25.
  • talk.  Seriously.  I mean this.  A friend with several children and a husband that travels regularly told me that once he started travelling, she thought it had been good for their relationship.  How you ask?  She said it was because since they were talking on the phone after the kids had Skyped or talked they were talking with each other about life.  About them.  About things…not just about the kids. I think, at times, it is easy to fall into the trap where our conversations with our spouse revolve around the kids, the house or the bills.  We forget to connect on other levels and we start to lose something.
  • don’t put your kids before your marriage. You were a couple before you were parents! God created the couple BEFORE he created the family with kids or the church! I knew a couple that did so much with and for their kids that when they got older and their kids were gone, they really had nothing in common.  He did his thing.  She did hers.  It is OK to tell your kids, no you can’t do this or that.  I know another couple that chose not to have their children participate in an activity in which they had previously been very active.  Why?  Because the volunteer commitment required by families was more than this family could do, so the family made a different choice.
  • have s*x. Enough said.  If that is a problem and it is a medical issue, then discuss it with your doctor.  If there is another problem, then discuss it with someone whom you trust. Make this a priority.
  • pray for your spouse. At Allume last year I received a copy of Kathi Lipp’s book, Praying God’s Word for your Husband.  I had always prayed for John, but this changed the WAY I prayed.  In a good way.  You might consider buying the book.

It is easy to stand at the altar and say “I do.”  Maybe we looked at our spouse with dreamy eyes and imagined how perfect our life would be.  Ten weeks, months or years later things didn’t look so perfect.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be good.  It just might need a little tune-up!

Does your marriage need a tune-up?  What can you do to make a difference?

Blessings~

Mary

 

 

 

Sometimes We Will Say Crap

I’m about to go rogue here… writing on the Allume blog out of order, but here goes.

One of our dear Allume contributors messaged me the other day and said she’d written the word “crap” in her post and wondered if she’d be allowed to post it.  Of course, she said she could change the word with no real ill effect to her post, but she asked about it nonetheless.  It set off a few comments and emails with thoughts to either side of use or avoidance, and I’ve been left thinking about it all for 4 days now.

And here’s what I have to say about it.  Take it as a thought, or maybe even I’ll be so bold as to use the word manifesto.  But here’s where I stand, and here’s the place I’m going to ask the Allume community to accept.

Sometimes we will just say “crap” here.  And sometimes we won’t.  And I won’t judge any single person for whichever route they feel is the one for them, and I’m going to be so bold as to ask you not to judge on either side of the coin as well.

As a community, we are a melting pot of personalities.  And that is the beauty of this space.  This is who we are…and we are real.  We do life in real life just as we do it for the world to see on the Allume blog…and there is grace, and we accept people as they are…as they come….crap and all.  I want there to be freedom here to have people express themselves, their stories, and God in their stories, and to know that this is a place the gives grace and love and doesn’t hold up any sort of “holier than thou” standard.  We all fall short…and not a one of us is deserving of the grace we’ve been given.

No don’t go freaking out that we’re going to start having spouts of profanity all over the place here, but do know that this is a place of grace and truth and sisterhood.  And if you happen to be the saint who’s never even muttered an ugly thought or word under your breath, please volunteer to guest post or something, because we all need to know your secret to success in perfection!

The truth is though that sometimes life doles us what may feel like crap.  Or some days you may feel like crap.  And that’s just real life.  But here’s the thing…and even Paul said it in Philippians 3:8-10 that …

All the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

It’s all crap compared to the life and righteousness we have in Christ.  And the righteousness you have isn’t given to you because your speech is always flowery… or your life for that matter.  There is room in the Kingdom for people who say crap (or even worse)…and there’s room in the Kingdom for the people who’d never dare to even spell out the word on paper or in a blog post.  There was room at Jesus’ table for his disciples and tax collectors and prostitutes.  And there’s room at this Allume table for all of us too.  He is better than all of it.  He redeems all of it.  And He doesn’t exclude any of us, like it or not. Whatever it is that you’re coming here to get…know that it’s not changing.  But know that this place is a place for “Real Light Living”… and in order to be real, sometimes we just might say crap.

here’s one way we affect the world

 
My middle boy has tested my sanity lately. Sweet thing. He’s completely precious and tender-hearted. He can take anything apart and (almost) put it back together. He hurts when people hurt. And he prays to Jesus. But, like all of us, he has weaknesses. And his weaknesses colliding with my weaknesses have made for some ug-lay moments.

One of our biggest struggles as of late is with our words (his and mine), specifically when anger or frustration arise. My favorite was when he said I was meaner than satan. Nice. I followed with an equally winning comment, “Oh, I can show you mean if that’s what you want.” Not my grandest moment.

But this struggle with words has challenged me to think about the power of words. Because whoever coined that ridiculous statement about “sticks and stones” must have been smokin’ somethin’ because words absolutely affect us.

 

Words are power.

 

Words can humiliate and degrade. They can evoke fear and shame. They can make people run away or hide for cover. But. They can also pour life into another’s soul.

Words can squash fear and make us feel like we could fly. They can empower us to take the next step in a dark valley. They can minister grace and mercy when judgment seems more logical. They can encourage and bless, lift and even transform our today. Words are power.

 

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18:21

 

Then there’s us in our areas of cyberspace that we call our writing home.

Those words we type onto the page can change the people on the other side of the screen. Our words can cause chains of religiosity to fall off. They can stir hope in places of utter hopelessness. They can serve up grace to those who feel like outcasts. They can show Jesus to someone who may have never looked into His face.

Oh yes. You and I — we can affect the world, beginning within the four walls of our homes and then spreading across time zones and continents.

Words are power — for better or for worse.

 

Father, put a guard on my mouth today. Use me to pour out life on those around me with words that are grounded in Your truth. And then thank You, thank You for Your grace when I fail.

 

Running this faith race beside you,
Lara

 
Tell of a time when you experienced the power of words — for better or worse.
 

Why You Should Share The Stories That Scare You

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Ann Lamott says that “we write to expose the unexposed”.  For some writers, this may not be all that difficult. Some people are naturally good at sharing the sensitive underbelly of life, without getting tangled up in fear and apprehension about how these delicate subjects will be received. I’m not really talking to those writers today.

These words here, are for those of us who are afraid to tell the stories that rattle around inside of us. Consider this your pep-talk, I’m going to tell you why it’s okay tell the stories that scare you.

I think it’s fair to say that we are all living with stories we haven’t told yet, most of us, are not as transparent as we want to think we are, and to some extent, this is good. Not every story can or should be shared in the public arena, and discernment makes a wise and responsible writer. Unfortunately, determining which stories we can (or should) share is not black and white. I have seen writers catch all maner of flack for telling stories, others didn’t believe they had the right to tell–and the plain and simple truth is, we are responsible for the words we share, and how we share them.

But what about the stories we can share, but we’re afraid to? Does it matter if we keep them to ourselves?

Yes. It does.

God cares more about our stories than we might think. This recently came to my attention as I was looking back over the landscape of my life. There are stories in my past that scare me. They remind me of a time when I was less spiritually healthy, when I was fumbling through dark rooms, hiding in corners and suffering in shame. These are moments I’d prefer not to recount. Why would I tell these stories? What good could come of it?

These are the questions I asked God, as I felt Him nudging me to tell these stories. I begged Him not to make me, but through His gentle, yet persistent prodding, He led me to open up.

And almost immediately, He revealed the purpose behind sharing the scary truths–healing. 

In her book, Bird By Bird, Ann Lamott says this:

If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. Otherwise you’ll just be rearranging furniture in rooms you’ve already been in. Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writers job is to see what’s behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words–not just any words but if we can, into rhythm and blues.

That’s exactly what I’d been doing. I’ve spent years of my life, shuffling the uncomfortable stories of my life around, covering them with table cloths and fake flowers, keeping the curtains drawn tight, so that I wouldn’t have to examine them in full light.

But God is light, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5 NIV). God wanted to heal me and in order to do so, I had to be willing to push back the curtains–to share the scary stories. What the enemy intends for harm, the Lord uses for good. (Genesis 50:20)

Our scary stories lose their power to torment us once we allow God to redeem them. <–Click to tweet

As writers, our willingness to expose the uglier experiences of our lives opens the doors for healing, not just our own, but often for our readers as well. 

The next time that scary memory re-surfaces, don’t be so quick to shove it back into the corner of your mind. Perhaps the Lord is prompting you, cracking the door a bit to let some light in.

Hold your story out to Him, ask Him for wisdom–He will tell you what to do.

 

 

You Will Never Be For Want

wisdom allume

“I am done.  I will be saying goodbye to Facebook, social media, my blog, and my conference.”  The computer lid closes more firmly than necessary.  The books and papers holding the new manuscript are pushed into the pile of things to ignore and never look back upon.

Silence. I finally met his eyes, hoping for a word of encouragement and the words to set my feet back into motion.  My husband was my sounding board.  He usually is.  He never flinched or seemed concerned.  I have never done this before.  It is usually a slow climb to overwhelmed and this was not it.  He let me close the chapter on confusion and didn’t give the words to press on.

“You need to search for the answers…like gold.”

The continual call of laundry, meals, homeschooling and precious children was becoming a low humming in my background.  The call to write and the ministry I knew God had called me to was sitting on the other side of a dried up pond.  And there was no way to reach it.  A thick fog had rolled in and I was unwilling to go there any more.

I was not going to be bound to a world behind the glass on my screen, where the mission would “carry on,” with or without me.

I kept my social media world on a short leash.  I put away my words, my goals, and my on-line responsibilities.

I put away my lack of focus and sought hard after something secret.  I was craving it, searching for it, and then it happened.  He spoke loudly and clearly.

The words slipped slowly from my lips, “Imagine a cup tied to a string and the careful and timely precision it takes to lower it into a narrow well to draw water for your lips.  Thirsty, dry lips.  You would want to be careful to not spill or tip the cup, for your thirst would never be quenched.”   … the cup is your life and the well is the Word, and we will learn to fill it with wisdom – for it is life giving.”   You will never be for want.

My own advice and lessons for this summer as I walk my daughters through another step in learning to study His Word.

WISDOM.

Understanding, happiness, pleasantness, peace.  Tree of Life, knowledge, discretion, focus, peace.

God has been speaking this word into my every breath and I hear Him speaking it into the night.  

The voices or pulls for our attention in this world are only distractions from a well-pool of rich rewards.  The lens we see the on-line world through may become distorted, demanding or oppressive.

When the heart cries:

  • Confusion
  • Lack of Focus
  • Comparison
  • Seeking gain
  • Doubt
  • Envy
  • Inability to learn from others
  • Striving and not thriving

Kingdom work remains focused and keeps a straight path.  Eyes never looking to the right or to the left. 

Put your distractions aside, and chase after WISDOM.

I am chasing hard.   The computer is not demanding my time, my vision for my home is coming back into focus, and my in real life relationships are more valuable than a keyboard or a book that I may again some day write.

People – This isn’t about time and balance and priorities.  … It is about silver and gold.  About pond water and rich well water.   Start searching for wisdom and all the things you canst desire are not to be compared to wisdom.

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding. Her ways are of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.”  Proverbs 3:13, 17-18

5 Ways to Honor your Husband with your Writing

allumephoto with logo

When J and I got married (4 years ago today!), God gave us a story. Yes, He gave us the story of how we met {totally ordained by Him}, but He also gave us a story from our honeymoon. I knew this testimony was not something I was to keep inside and knew God wanted me to share it. I knew He was supposed to gain glory from His redemptive work. But how would J feel about me airing our ‘dirty laundry’?

For a few years after our honeymoon, I prayed and I waited. J fully agreed that I was supposed to share this story, he just needed some time to process it. After a time of prayer one day, God gave me the go-ahead to ask J for permission. I wasn’t a blogger at that point, but I was and always have been a writer. I knew God wanted me to write about it, I knew He wanted me to share, but would J be on board with it? After a discussion, J gave me permission to begin sharing our story with the world, but I knew I needed to set some boundaries for my writing that would honor him.

My man is a quiet man. He’s personable, and does enjoy being around people, but he certainly isn’t an open book like his extroverted wife. I knew he was ok with me sharing this particular story, but beyond that I needed to be careful how deeply I allowed others to enter into our marriage. So here are some writing boundaries that I came up with and now follow:

 

5 ways I work to honor my husband with my writing:

1. Pray. If I feel called to share something about our marriage, or about my man, I pray about it first. Sometimes God gives my heart a peace about it, but other times God gives me a restless feeling which causes me to realize He’s closing the door on that topic {at least for now}. Going to the Lord first makes #2 a whole lot easier.

2. Talk to your man. If I feel called to share about an aspect of our marriage, I ask J if it’s ok. Being the analyzer that he is, he usually asks me a few questions {and sometimes requests to read the rough draft before I hit publish}, but ultimately he’s grown to trust my words. I believe that trust has been built because I have never posted about him without his permission.

3. Beware of social media. My man isn’t a huge fan of me posting his picture all over the social media sites I utilize. I try not to post too much about him on social media in general. Occasionally I post a picture of him on Facebook, but I try to ask him before I do that.

4. Don’t embarrass him online. My man can say some pretty funny stuff. He’s actually quite the comedian, but his introverted self can keep it bottled up when we’re outside the walls of our own home. There are times I would LOVE to share the funny things that J says. Occasionally he’s ok with it, but usually he gives me the, “are you sure you really need to share that?” look when I request permission to share it with my online friends. Despite my desperate desire to share with ya’ll how funny he really is, I realize that honoring him is more important than sharing a good laugh.

5. Don’t make him look like prince charming. I believe that by being honest about our marriage I am honoring God and honoring J. I don’t try to paint a picture of the perfect marriage, because Lord knows, we’ve had our trials. It doesn’t honor J if I paint him as perfect. He sees himself as a sinner saved by the glorious grace of God. He doesn’t want me to make him seem perfect, because if I did, that wouldn’t honor his Savior. In the process of portraying the real J, however, I must be respectful and invite him into the process so the trust we’ve built can continue.

I find that when I honor my man and respect who he is, the intimacy in our marriage increases. I have been known to slip up and break these boundaries from time-to-time, but I find that when I invite him into my writing, J is honored and God is glorified–it’s a win-win situation!

What boundaries have you set for yourself in this online world? How do you protect your husband and your marriage in your blog posts?

by, Mandy Scarr

 

 

An Opportunity for Blessing

 

Dear Allume family,

Today’s post is really more of an announcement for you to know, and also an invitation for you to sow into one of our own. I’m writing primarily to let you know of an organizational change that has been made within Allume.  Because we want to honor you, our community, we felt that it was important to let you know rather than to just let you wonder or speculate. We also appreciate your prayers over our team and over the conference.

Jessica

We would like to honor Jessica Heights and the role that she has played within Allume over the past 3 years.  She is one of the 3 original co-founders of the conference, and as we all have come to know her more and love her over the years, it is widely recognized that she has been a smiling face and welcoming presence at each year’s conference.  Many even say she has been Allume’s very own Miss Congeniality.

In order to focus more fully on personal matters outside of the conference, Jessica is moving away from her responsibilities and roles within Allume and the Conference.  The hole she leaves is great, and we ask that you would join us in honoring her, praying for her, and encouraging her.

Please know that we love Jessica, and are all in agreement that this is best for her and for the conference.  This is not something we expect the community to take lightly, and in order to honor Jessica, we would like to ask that as a community, we join together to speak blessing over her and not pry into her personal matters. Please be in prayer for us as we move forward as I’m sure you can know that she leaves quite a hole.

If you have been impacted by Jessica in any way over the years, we’d love to bless her with a slew of encouraging words and scriptures in the comments section below.  Thanks friends for your love and support of Allume and your kind words over our sweet friend.  We are so grateful for your contribution to this conference, the community, and most importantly to the Kingdom.

Loads of blessings on you each,
Logan and Sarah Mae

on getting right again

Lanternphoto credit

I like to look good.  Not in a fashionable sense, per se, but in an “I’m a good person sort of way.”  My children have taught me that no matter how hard I try I will never have it all together, but that doesn’t keep me from trying.  I’ve struggled with this for years and more recently found myself lying to cover up bad decisions I was making.  Even though it was the furthest thing from my conscious mind I had allowed myself to become like the Pharisees in Matthew 23.  I looked great on the outside, but inside, I was dying.

The choice to follow Jesus is not just the initial choice to admit, believe, and confess–it is also the daily, momentary choice to choose rightly.  Not choose easy.  Not choose convenience.  Choose right.  Choose truth.  Choose life.  No matter how many bad/wrong choices you’ve made you can always choose in this very moment to do what’s right.

From one girl who desperately needs Jesus to help her choose right in THIS moment to another here are a few things that help me forgo the easy and choose Jesus.

1) Wise Counsel – It is so important to have wise and Godly counsel on your side.  These are the people with whom you can be completely honest and who you know will be completely honest back with you.  In my life, I had gotten to a point where I was avoiding these people/didn’t want to tell them all the nitty gritty details because I knew they would call me out on it.  If you find yourself isolating from the wise counsel in your life, I urge you to instead run to them.  Share with them.

2) Make scripture easily accessible – this can be done by not only reading the Bible regularly, but also putting scripture where you will see it.  For some of us that may mean sticking post-it notes throughout our houses.  For others it may mean writing in a journal.  I typed some pertinent scriptures out in the “notes” section of my iPhone, took a screenshot, and set it as my lock screen on my iPhone so every time I turn on the phone I see scripture.

3) Come clean – be honest.  There was some nitty gritty truth I had to face.  I had to tell close friends that yes, I had lied.  I was a hypocrite.  I put looking good above being honest and in doing so I brought shame, but you know what?  The minute I said I was sorry, the moment I turned the other direction…forgiveness was there.

That’s the same for you, friend.  This Allume community, we’re about real light living.  That means that we forgive, we embrace, and most of all, we stay.  We are here.  However public or private your issues we are here and we are cheering you on in your deliverance.

Here is one of my all time favorite quotes via the wonderfully insightful, C. S. Lewis:

“I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists of being put back on the right road.  A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.  Evil can be undone, but it can not ‘develop’ into good.  Time does not heal it.” –p. VIII, The Great Divorce

When you’ve had to say you’re sorry and turn around from a bad decision, what helped you?  What steps did you take to get right again?

Drumroll….The 2013 Agenda!

 

Did you see it?!  The 2013 Allume Agenda?!

Ok…if not, you must immediately click HERE  to open the full 2013 Agenda in another window so that you can peruse it in just a minute!

But first, I just need you to know why I, for one, am doing the happy dance!

It’d take me 45 minutes talking fast to cast the whole vision (and you’ll get some of that at Allume in the flesh) but for now, just know that God has been working in a chill-bumps-inducing way over the past several months.

A few months ago, the Lord gave me a picture of an underground river.  It was bubbling and moving forward…yet, it was underground.  And then suddenly the river came into the open.  It broke through rock and earth and spilt forth…moving fast and branching off to cover all over the earth.  And then I saw a bright light…and it was a line that was just positioned at the cross-section where the river left the underground and came into the light of day…and the Lord said…”this space, this place where the bubbling bursts forth into the earth…this is Allume.

River Emerging from Underground

Every time I recount the picture and the words… I cry.  God is moving friends.  He’s moving in each of you now, and he’s moving in what he’s planning to accomplish at Allume.  And when we all collide together in the same time and space, the work that He is doing, and the work that He will release is like a mighty rushing river of Kingdom awesomeness.  It makes me excited.  It gives me chills.

I’m excited about the things you see in the agenda listed with times and dates and titles, but the thing I’m most excited to see is what God does in the in betweens too.  I’m excited to see the way he weaves the words of the keynotes, and teaches and inspires you with session speakers.  I’m elated to watch you all connect and love one another in that special way that it happens at Allume.  I’m blessed to have not just reached out to compile a list of speakers, but to have been building relationships with these Kingdom of Heaven World Changers, and I can tell you with every bone in my being, that the words the Lord gave to Sarah Mae, Jessica, and I back in November are coming to fruition.

 “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert…for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” –  Isaiah 43:19-21

Our dear friend, Ann Voskamp, will bring a fresh word, as only she can, and open our hearts on opening night.  Melanie Shankle will make us laugh til we cry, and cry til we laugh just before Jennie Allen moves us with truth and life and reminds us how ‘faith is the is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Bianca will arrest us with passion, and Jeff will move us to live bigger and more authentically than we’d ever dreamed.

Our incredible sponsors will pour into you and help show ways that you too can pour out.

Our hope and prayer is that your time at Allume will equip you, empower you, refresh and refuel you, so that you can leave and walk taller into the callings that God has for you (and for your blog.)

We invite you to come spend time with us for a weekend of life, and friendship, community, and awakening.  We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us all!

So now, if you haven’t yet looked at the whole incredible lineup yet, go….HERE!

And if you still need to snag your ticket, go HERE!

All our love,

Logan, Sarah Mae, and Jessica

Image Source

The Benefit of a Blogging Mentor

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Do you have a life mentor? Do you have someone who pours their heart, wisdom, prayers, and love into your life?

Mentors have played a tremendous role in my life as a Christian. Over the course of my new life in Christ I’ve had a couple of different mentors. Each of these mentors has breathed life into my soul, showered me with their wisdom and loved me in a way I never could have expected.

After I began blogging I began to see that, just as in life, I had a lot to learn. I not only needed a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of blogs, but my writing required greater depth and insight. I wanted feedback and I craved constructive criticism that would help me progress toward my writing goals.

At first I started to “stalk” some of my favorite bloggers. I would look at the format of their blogs, watch how they hosted guests, ran giveaways, and shared their heart. Closely following these amazing bloggers taught me a lot, but I was unable to receive the personal one-on-one help I was craving.  

And that’s when I decided to step out.

I am blessed that I have an in-real-life friend who is already several steps ahead of me in the blogging world. I admire her writing, her passion, and her professionalism. I wanted to learn everything I could from her, and so I took a chance and asked her to be my blogging mentor. Although she is a close friend, I was nervous about asking her. She has numerous kiddos, multiple writing projects on her plate, and many professional business projects in the works. I was worried she would see me as another addition to her already highly committed schedule.

But after a few days of praying about it, she agreed to be my mentor.

This new phase of our relationship has been a huge support to me. Although we don’t talk about blogging on a weekly or sometimes even monthly schedule, I am grateful to her for the time and feedback she gives me. I have learned a tremendous amount from my seasoned blogging mentor, and I know I wouldn’t have grown as much as I have over the last year without her.

It was easy in the begining to “stalk” different bloggers, trying to learn what they were doing and why they were making the writing/blogging decisions that they were. As my blog grew, and as my dreams came into greater focus, I realized the importance of running my blogging/professional world just as I run my life – with intentionality.

Having a mentor who is willing to pour their wisdom and insight into me has allowed for me to become more intentional in all aspects of my life, and so I am grateful to have found a blogging mentor to help me find that same focus and intentionality in my writing and professional pursuits.

And so I wonder, sweet blogging friend, do you have a blogging mentor?

Sure, maybe you “stalk” other blogs like so many of us do, but do you have someone who you can boldly ask for their guidance? Maybe this person doesn’t yet know you exist, and that’s ok. Take some time to pray about whether or not this person is worth pursuing as a blogging mentor, and if the Lord is fine with it, I encourage you to humbly reach out to them about it.

You may not be able to find someone who can commit to mentoring you right away, but don’t get discouraged! Just continue to pray that the Lord may reveal someone who would fill that role. If you’re anything like me, this relationship is sure to help you grow.

By, Mandy Scarr

 

 

 

5 ways to cultivate friendships

 
Girlfriend. We weren’t meant to do this life thing alone. We weren’t meant to wear a cape and shout with confidence, “I. need. no. one.” Oh it’s tempting to isolate. It’s tempting to believe the lie that no one else struggles like we struggle or fails like we fail. But that’s not reality. We need community.

 

Sisterhood

 

My dad used to say, “If I have five real, good, loyal friends, then I’m a very wealthy man.” He was right. True friends are priceless.

True friends. The friends that know your weaknesses but love you regardless. The friends that walk with you through dark valleys, even if you put yourself there. The friends that hold you accountable but don’t judge you for your inconsistencies. True friends.

But true friendships don’t just happen when we check the “yes” box on some Will-You-Be-My-Friend survey. Real friendships take time and effort. So here are five things we can do to cultivate real relationships with sister-friends.

Pray for the friendship.

Some of you may not have anyone that you would call a true friend. So it may be that you begin by just asking God to bring a sister-friend into your life. It’s His will that we have community.

Others of us may have someone (or a few someones) that we consider to be a true friend. We can cultivate those friendships by praying for one another.

Send an encouraging word.

I love getting texts from friends that say things like, “I just prayed for you!” Praying for a friend often leaves us with an encouraging word to share. Telling them could be what lifts their spirit today.

Make time for the friendship.

This is where I can fail as a friend. Life gets busy and before I know it weeks have passed since I’ve spent any quality time with certain friends. We have to make time to get together or even just talk on the phone. Because if we don’t spend time together, the friendship won’t deepen.

Be real.

We all struggle. And most of us struggle with the same basic things. When we open ourselves up and become vulnerable with a friend, it encourages them to be vulnerable. And that’s when friendships deepen. So the challenge? Be authentic. Let someone in. Let someone see our heart.

Study God’s Word together.

One way to spur on authenticity is to study the Word together. God’s Word is meant to encourage us as well as reveal places that need His touch. Studying His Word with a friend can lead us into honest conversation and heart transformation.

We need true friendships. And they don’t just happen. You and I can do something today to help cultivate a relationship with that sister-friend.

So tell me, how else do you cultivate friendships?
 

I Don’t Do Change Well

 

seasons pictureThe mud sticks to my shoes and I’m at a loss whether to wear my dress shoes or my Toms.  Frankly, the shockingly high temperature of 37 degrees Fahrenheit (please oh please read my sarcasm there) made me question whether or not to replace my winter boots with rain boots.  The weather’s constant state of flux testifies that the seasons are indeed changing.  With every pregnant wax and minimizing wane of the moon I’m reminded of the seasons and how they are all managed by the One who created them.  The same One who created me.

I don’t do change well.  Routine is like a large, fluffy, heirloom quilt and I snuggle in with relish and enjoy life from my perch.  I like to know the big picture instead of the next illumined step–the subsequent days and months and years planned in advance.  To know that last year looked like this year and that next year will look the same is so very comforting to me–except that life does not follow my desires nor my pre-planned design.

Life is a conglomeration of seasons marked by the passing of diapers to undies, five-point-harnesses to booster seats, and sippy cups to spilling milk all over the table because everyone is using “big kid cups” and someone just got excited and in reaching to steal a chip/dessert/cookie from a sibling’s plate upturned their cup.  Paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning solution are purchased in bulk.  Children are undressed, bathed, and re-dressed in an assembly line.  The only predictable aspect of our days is that they will be full of crazy and full of love with a large dose of mischief to keep things interesting.

I struggle with the seasonal-ness of life.  Struggle to the point that I fought it for a long time…okay, honestly I still fight it.  The first few weeks of a new season are the roughest for me.  I complain (mostly to God and sometimes out loud) about the ills of the new routine.  Really, it’s just the groaning of growing pains.  My will molding to His will.  My desires changing to fit His.  My children protest when we go to the park instead of the bounce house or when pb&j is our lunchtime delicacy instead of pizza.  I wonder, do I sometimes resemble them with my lip forced downward and my eyes narrowed, stomping my foot in protest?

Seasons are meant to change.  That’s the whole point.  They are a time through which to walk, to grow, to learn, and to finally put behind us.  So many of us say “this too shall pass” and yes, this season shall too pass.  I’m trying to not become so disillusioned with the difficult parts that I miss the blessing, because all too soon, the moon will appear to grow again, waxing gibbous and beyond to a new season…a different season.  And this different season will have challenges and blessings all its own.  So snuggle down, wrap the quilt around and know that this season is special in and of itself and it won’t last forever.

What season of life do you find yourself in presently?  Do you find yourself eagerly awaiting the conclusion or hoping life could stay this way forever?

xo

Kristina

@kjtanner

Sometimes We Stumble

road

Her eyes would not connect with mine, and I knew it was serious.  This place of struggle was not foreign to me.

Life’s demands had caused me to sacrifice my testimony and justify my attitudes of frustration and anger at many moments in my life…more so as a wife and mother.   My precious daughter was now caught in the crevice of worry and frustration over her own choices.  When will I get this right mom?

I knew that this would be the pivotal moment of truth in her life.  When she can see deep within her soul, the need to hold onto the secret to the Christian life.  To yield our emotions, our lives and our thoughts – to Him.

A supernatural response – where the invisible faith we build on each day, becomes visible and tangent.  Real.

Because, sometimes we stumble, but He keeps us moving. And that is the gift of the invisible.

We cannot live this life in our own strength.  There are so many moments as a Christian, a light-bearer, a mother, wife, writer and friend, that I feel my light being snuffed out dim by a weariness of the little things in life that too much time is spent on worrying about.  Trivial discussions about matters that aren’t important to Jesus, negative relationships, or a competitive spirit within the on-line world.  It is a waste and it causes me to sometimes stumble in my thoughts and time.

And now, I rub her back, and speak His words into her, proclaiming the truth that life will give us demands, and our reactions will reflect how our faith has been doing a great work in us.  An active and living faith, that will change our lives and our perspectives.

Now the pools of tears in her green eyes are overflowing and asking me, “Mom, when will I stop stumbling?”  Oh, my dearest child – When you see Jesus face to face.  In His fullness are we made complete.  Until that day we abide in Him, and know that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.

And this is how the stumble makes our feet more straight and our paths more clear.  By faith.

Every trial and every day that we live in our own strength will reap an empty faith tank. No source to draw on down the road.

For God had a beautiful gift wrapped in an ugly package for me this week.  Only He would orchestrate such a finite happening.

A conflict.  At the end of a long weekend, and a time-consuming conversation with another person, I was left bewildered at my lack of frustration, anger, dismay and found myself in awe at what God had just given me.  While laying in bed, talking to God, I saw it – the well of faith, the praying through the years at the sound or site of conflict – had brought me peace this very night.  I felt as if I had picked it up, and gently ( not forcefully) handed it back to God.  Able to sleep, not anxious about what someone thought of me,  or what the outcome might be.  Where did this supernatural reaction come from?

Many years of stumbling through this area in my life and continually giving it back to God, begging Him to make it right, with worry and fretting and frustration.  And now the gift of reaping – not reacting, or feeling the need to “be right.”  It was a habit of trust, and control of the spirit.  And now, I knew peace.

Whether I am in a trial, tired and weary, or stumbling through this sinful nature each day, I know when I walk by the spirit, I will not carry out the works of my flesh. Galatians 5:16

Sometimes we will stumble – our faith will be shaken and tested.  What will you cling to?
 The Vine or the branches?

Written by September @ One September Day

Five Thoughts from a Blog Designer

As a designer, I have a myriad of blogs that come across my desk every day. Design blogs, blogs I’m building, friends, writers, ideas, concepts, you name it. Over the course of a year, I talk to lots and lots of fellow bloggers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, moms, sisters, friends who want to talk dreams. Plans. Goals.

So here’s my 5 thoughts for you, fellow bloggers, writers, seekers of truth and beauty, and miners of the diamonds amidst all the coal. These are what I would tell you if I could over coffee or peanut butter on toast with blueberries, which is my absolute favorite, but I digress…

photo (38)

 

1. Your blog is an extension of you, but does not, and should not run your life. It’s really easy in this blogging world to get swallowed whole by the screen that you sit at every day. I’ve found myself taking out my iPhone, snapping a photo only to think, “I should blog about this later.” I’m sure you all know this feeling. Your readers, your friends, your family, don’t want your blog to run your life. TRUST ME. The best and most authentic posts and content come from people who are living rich lives, learning from mistakes and getting into the grit of the world they live in. This might mean you take some time off and that’s ok. I’m sure I’m going against all “How to get one million followers in one day” suggestions, but you don’t need to keep constant content. Keep GOOD content.

blog

2. Uncluttered design is better for your reader. I come across a lot of designs that are full. Busy. Links and arrows, directions, options, ads and you name it. I love seeing so many exciting things going on for so many bloggers. But if people are coming to your site to read, make it easy to read. When it comes to the design, remember that there are three main areas your readers are looking — who you are, where to connect with you and what you’re offering. Keep it simple and cohesive. Too many colors, images, fonts, etc, will make it harder for your community to engage completely in what YOU are saying. Try to imagine your blog and website as another room in your home. Declutter it. Dust it. Refresh it. Give people beautiful things to look at, but not too much to distract them from why they’re really there — to see YOU. Whether you’re writing about parenting, home decor, organizing, the Gospel, whatever it might be… keep the main thing the main thing.

3. Don’t try to be someone else. We all know that there are some amazing writers and creators out there. So. much. good. stuff. But if we all tried to be like them, this world would implode really fast. As Dr. Seuss said: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Own who that person is. Maybe it takes some introspection. Don’t be afraid to routinely ask yourself — Why am I writing? What is my story? What do I have to give? What is my voice?

4. Smaller can be better. Your audience is not a direct reflection on your content. In the business realm, it might be beneficial to keep an eye on stats, but sometimes it can destroy a personal passion. If you are PASSIONATE about something, then don’t let small numbers deter you. Your passion should not fly or fall based on the attention of others. We wouldn’t tell our children that they are less beautiful or handsome based on how many people tell them this, would we? And if you are trying to grow numbers, remember to stay authentic and press on. Hard growth doesn’t mean it’s bad. It could mean that you are just growing deeper roots.

moods

5. Moodboard your life. With all the designs I do, I start with a moodboard. This is a collection of images, colors, typefaces, concepts to help myself and the client work from the same idea. We are both looking at the same collection of items regularly to make sure we’re not splitting too far from the concept. You can do this on your own for your own life and blog, and you should. Start collecting images, photos, prints, clips of things that inspire you. Maybe it’s a magazine ad. Maybe an old photo. Maybe it’s a quote in a book or a blogger who said something that went to your heart. Collect all of these things and put them somewhere where you’ll see them every time you write. Remember who you are and why you’re there.

(If you create one of these or already have one, link up here and share!)

I am thankful for all of your stories, voices, tips, bravery and passion.

Shine bright. :)

Twitter Hang-Out TONIGHT for All the Late Night Troopers! Fun Giveaways!

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Between 11 and 11:50 (or so) we’ll be hanging out while we wait for the Allume tickets to go on sale. We thought it would be fun to have some prizes this year for all of you who push back sleep in order to snag a ticket. We just love you and think you are some serious awesome. Here is what is up for grabs tonight for all you late night troopers:

A Desperate and Everyday Joy Mug Gift Set

A One Thousand Gifts Book Set (includes book, gift book, and calendar)

Winner’s choice Canvas

Winner’s choice from Urban Soul

All the above gifts are donated by DaySpring – give them some love! @DaySpring

We also have…

Two sets (3 in a set) of bangles donated by FreeSet   @freesetUSA (give them some love!)

An OCC travel mug donated by Operation Christmas Child  @OCC_shoeboxes (love to them too!)

A sweatshirt and pottery mug donated by Food for the Hungry  @food4thehungry (and of course, more love!)

Two 2012 audio speaker bundles

Books!

Sparkly Green Earrings by @bigmama

You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream by @holleygerth

100 Pound Loser by @jessicaheights

Hope for the Weary Mom (Kindle edition) plus a $10 Starbucks gift card by @brookewrites and @stacey29lincoln

And finally…

A ticket to Allume! HOLLA!

So come out and join us tonight at 11pm EST! It’s not formal, we’re just hanging out and eating cake, but Sarah Mae and Jessica will be there to answer any questions you might have.

Tweet you tonight!

#Allume

@sarahmae

@jessicaheights

@allume

@loganwolfram (who may or may not be around this evening – you can read a little bit about what’s going with her here. Pray for our sweet Logan and all that’s going on. Thank you, sisters!)

Allume Tickets Go on Sale This Thursday Night!!!!!!!!!!!

allumetix

Okay, technically they go on sale Friday at midnight, EST, but every year people get confused and ask me, “Friday at midnight, or Thursday night?” It all feels confusing, I know, so have your fingers ready to pounce at 11:59pm Thursday night, because there are only 50 early bird tickets and those babies go FAST. Like, gone in 2 seconds fast. At least that’s what’s happened the last three years.

So

Drink your coffee, have your crab dip or chocolate cake ready, and have some fun on Twitter with us allume gals as we hangout and have some fun during the ticket launch. There may even be prizes. 😉

See you there! #allume

SM

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Meet the Speakers!