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…

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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.

flowers250 Yellow flowers150

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.

josh copher

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.
freeset bags
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!

headshotallumecollage

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!!!

Impact Opp2

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…

It_s_beginning_to_look_a_lot_like_fall_is_near__Can_t_wait_to_trade_in_my_summer_staple_rainbows_for_my_fallwinter_staple___bootlove

 

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

 

nest

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.