Meet our 2015 Speakers
Logan is the Executive Director and Host of Allume who most loves to write, connect, and encourage women. Daughter of a most extravagant and hospitable King, wife to Jeremy, and mother to 2 wild and inquisitive little boys, her days are filled with a combination of routine and plenty of the unexpected. No stranger to broken dreams, she has found that a curious following of the Ultimate Creative, Jesus, has led her into a faith that is fuller and a life that is more exciting. Stay-at-home-mom and interior decorator, turned writer and Allume CEO and host, Logan consistently finds that God doesn’t necessarily call the equipped, but he will always equip the called. Despite the attempts of her contract-eating, mail-intercepting, massive dog, Titan, Logan's first book is set to release Spring of 2016 with David C. Cook. She blogs at LoganWolfram.com.
Sara is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working for her. And out of the overflow of this perplexity, came her writing, both on her blog and in her book - Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, just released via Zondervan.
Austin Brown’s journey as a racial reconciler began in college with an experience called Sankofa–a three-day bus trip exploring Civil Rights sites throughout the South. Since then, she has earned a Masters in Social Justice and directed a short-term missions site on the west-side of Chicago, where she created interactive opportunities for young people to engage issues of poverty, injustice, and race. She also worked with two Willow Creek Community Church campuses, developing strategies and programming around multiculturalism. She currently serves as a Resident Director and Multicultural Liaison for Calvin College, and writes for Todays Christian Woman. Austin also writes on her personal blog at austinchanning.com.
Chrystal Hurst is writer, speaker, and worship leader in addition to serving as the chief executive operating officer in her home as a wife and mother of five. She is a self-proclaimed "geek" and bibliovore, who is actively seeking help for her addiction to Starbucks, sweet tea, and chocolate chip cookies. Techie substitute phrase: She is a self-proclaimed "geek" and bibliovore, who is actively seeking help for her addiction to Amazon Prime, shiny new smartphone apps, and all things Apple. Chrystal is co-author of, Kingdom Woman. She also blogs and podcasts regularly at Chrystal’s Chronicles where she poignantly reflects her thoughts about her faith and day-to-day experiences. Chrystal firmly believes God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans that I have for you…” and she desires to help others believe and apply that truth to their lives.
After serving the Home Mission Board (currently the North American Mission Board) for almost two decades in the areas of missions and evangelism Esther has continued to follow God’s calling to speak to women, traveling all over the country sharing her greatest treasures – that of her love for God and His word. Esther is the Director of Esther Burroughs Ministries: Treasures of the Heart, and has authored five books. Born in Canada, into the home of a Baptist minister and raised with four siblings, Esther has been married to her best friend and composer, Bob for over 56 years. They reside in Greer, SC and have 2 children and 5 grandchildren.
Melanie Dale is a geek on a God-ride, a minivan mama and total weirdo who stinks at small talk. Her laugh is a combination honk-snort, and it's so bad that people have moved away from her in the movie theater. She adores sci-fi and superheroes and is terrified of Pinterest. Author of Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends, she's also a contributor for Coffee+Crumbs and an advocate for Children's HopeChest. Living in the Atlanta area, she blogs at Unexpected.org about motherhood, orphan care, adoption, and sometimes poo.
Brian believes that you have a message to share and an audience to serve, but sometimes technology gets in the way. His team at The Dixon Agency helps authors and speakers build and launch online courses, membership sites, and paid webinars to help you increase your impact and your income online. You can download his online sales funnel PDF here. Brian believes that each of us are called to "Do Our Impossible" which he speaks about in his TedX talk. He has a doctoral degree in educational technology, is the author of Social Media for School Leaders, and is the founder of The Mentorship Academy. Follow Brian on Twitter here: @brianjdixon
Smothered and covered in Southern charm, Alisha L. Gordon is a well sought-after writer, teacher, and scholar activist. Earning her Masters in Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University with a focus in Religious Education, Alisha’s body of work looks to intersect faith and culture through intentional, grace-filled conversations about race, popular culture, and the Church. Alisha lives in Atlanta with her daughter, Ashli. Learn more about her work on her personal blog, Find the Pieces.
Amber C. Haines, author of Wild in the Hollow, is mother to 4 sons and wife to guitar-playing author and attorney Seth Haines. She writes regularly at her blog, theRunaMuck.com and is a regular contributor to incourage.me and formerly to A Deeper Story. She loves the narrative of the dirty South and finds community among the broken. Her desire is to love the church and to be a bridge for unity.
Jamie Ivey is passionate about following wherever Jesus takes her, loving her husband, and trying to be the best mom she can be to the four cutest kids in the world. She loves reading great books, vacationing at the beach, speaking to women, date nights, and could easily eat TexMex three times a day. She lives in Austin Texas with her husband Aaron (worship pastor at The Austin Stone) and their crazy kids. You can find her blogging about parenting, marriage, adoption & faith at her website JamieIvey.com. Jamie also hosts a weekly podcast, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, where she chats with a new guest each week about the big and the small things in life. You will leave encouraged after each episode. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Shannan Martin is a writer who found her voice in the country and her story in the city. She and her jail chaplain husband, Cory, have four funny children who came to them across oceans and rivers. Having sold their dream farmhouse and walked away from the American Dream, they now live entrenched in community on the wrong side of the tracks. Shannan was rescued from the life she thought she wanted and is surprised every day by God’s goodness. She blogs at flowerpatchfarmgirl.com You can also follower her on Instagram at @flowerpatchfarmgirl.
Deidra Riggs, writer and speaker, claims an undying devotion to disco music, the Motor City, and long bike rides under a big, blue sky. She is managing editor at The High Calling, and a monthly contributor to (in)courage. As founder of JumpingTandem Deidra inspires individuals to join God in the adventure he has uniquely designed for them. Deidra and her husband live in Lincoln, Nebraska. They are the proud parents of two adult children, and happy inhabitants of an empty nest. Deidra’s first book, Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are (Baker Books) releases in the Fall of 2015.
Ruth Chou Simons is an unlikely mom to six young boys and wife to a very patient man, Online, she's an artist, writer, entrepreneur, mentor, and speaker who shares her journey and how God's grace intersects daily life at her blog + shoppe at GraceLaced.com. In her everyday life, she washes 8 loads of laundry a week, cooks for large crowds, and educates her children from home part-time through the classical Christian school she and her husband, Troy, founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Get a glimpse + behind the scenes of her heart, art, and home on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Jessica is wife, mom, marketing professional, and founder of the lifestyle blog The Mom Creative. There she documents her pursuit of cultivating a life well-crafted, through posts mostly on parenting, memory keeping and frugal living. Additionally, Jessica is an (in)courage writer, co-host of the Bloom Book Club, a blogger for World Vision and a Big Picture Classes teacher. She speaks at conferences nationwide about generating blog revenue through affiliate links, content development and cultivating online community. Her first book will release in January 2015 (Revell). She and her husband Matthew live in Nashville, Tenn. with their three young children, Elias, Adeline and Ezra.
Nothing captures Tim like the quiet words of his wife, Christine, and the epiphanies of his three pixie daughters, Lyric, Brielle and Zion. He feels like a farmer most days, plying the writing trade in the fields of imagination. He co-authored Home Behind the Sun: Connect With God in the Brilliance of the Everyday (2014) and Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (2011). His first devotional, Longing For More, released in the fall of 2014 with Bethany House. He also serves as the Spiritual Director for Praxis. Tim, Christine and the pixies live in Oxford, England while he studies under Alister McGrath for the PhD in Theology. His topic isn’t boring: Beauty and imagination as apologetic in the works of C.S. Lewis. And yes, he does believe in faeries.
Rob Eagar is the founder of Wildfire Marketing, a consulting practice that helps authors, publishers, and non-profits spread their message like wildfire. He has trained over 400 authors and worked with numerous New York Times bestsellers, including Dr. Gary Chapman, Lysa TerKeurst, and Wanda Brunstetter. In addition, Rob is the author of Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, which is considered the bible of book marketing. For more information about Rob, visit www.startawildfire.com.
Jess Connolly is a gal who wants to leave the world more in awe of God than she found it. She’s a passionate entrepreneur, author and speaker and loves talking to women about Jesus on the internet or over coffee. She and her husband Nick have recently planted Gospel Community Church in Charleston, SC. Jess is the cofounder of The Influence Network and the lead designer + owner of Naptime Diaries Shop. Her first book, Wild and Free, co-written with Hayley Morgan, will be out in spring 2016 with Zondervan. She blogs at jessconnolly.com.
Kristen Kill adores her role mentoring writers as the Editor of The Better Mom and For the Family. She has partnered and consulted on countless national campaigns with corporations and media outlets, is a community leader at Allume, and is the co-host of the MomHeart podcast with Sally Clarkson. Kristen writes about finding home and making a life that is marked by grace, gratitude, beauty, art, and homeschooling all squeezed into a tiny apartment at her blog, Hope With Feathers. She lives with her hunky husband, four children, one dog, two guinea pigs (and let's be real, probably a few cockroaches) on the Upper West side of New York City.
Gwen Smith is a volleyball enthusiast who lives in sunny North Carolina and has been married to her hunky college honey, Brad, for 22 years. They are tired parents to three competitive-sport-playing teens who keep them on their toes and on their knees. Her online friends meet at GwenSmith.net to connect and be encouraged, and her ministry goal is to help women think big thoughts about God and be inspired to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. Gwen’s next book, I Want It All, Exchanging Your Average Life for Deeper Faith, Greater Power, and More Impact (David C. Cook) releases in March, 2016. Gwen speaks, leads worship, and eats potato chips at women’s events everywhere, and she is a co-founder of the conference and devotional ministry Girlfriends in God.
Stephanie Smith is committed to partnering with authors to bring fresh, forward-thinking ideas to life to serve the church today. Previously an editor at RELEVANT magazine and the Barna Group, Stephanie now serves as an acquisitions editor at Zondervan in Grand Rapids, MI, where she lives with her husband. She has written for RELEVANT, Her.meneutics, Q Ideas, The High Calling, and more—often about the Incarnation and embodied faith. Also, she is an avid practitioner of lipstick, liturgy, and goat cheese. Find her tweeting at @heystephsmith.
Colleen Mitchell is a wife, mother to five sons, missionary and writer living in the high mountains of Costa Rica. She serves alongside her family bringing faith, hope and love to communities around the world, and she works out what it means to live the Gospel as an adventure at Blessedarethefeet.com.
Julie Hulstein is the Founder and CEO of VI Bella Jewelry. Vi Bella means “beautiful life” and that is Julie’s vision for Vi Bella artisans, their families, and their communities. Today God is redeeming and restoring lives through her leadership by providing life-changing employment and a framework to share the gospel daily in supportive work centers. What began as one small center in Simonette, has since expanded to three international centers: 2 in Haiti and one in Mexico. A home office in her hometown of Sioux Center, Iowa also employs women who need of employment and a path out of poverty.
iBloom equips women to build a successful business and live a life they love! iBloom offers a step-by-step, A to Z plan that equips women in business throughout each phase of the business building journey. So, whether you have ideas for a potential business or you’ve had an established business for years, iBloom is the place for you. iBloom’s customized approach to business building assesses where you are right now and then helps you lay the foundation for moving up.
Kim believes when just the right light falls on any subject, there is glimpse of God’s beauty. Kim began her photography business as a stay at home mom when Lizzie and Walker were babies. Now, more than a decade later, she continues to love her work as a family portrait and wedding photographer in Greenville SC. “It is a blessing to get to work doing what I love, but it’s even more exciting to be able to use my gifts for God’s Kingdom work. I am honored to be leading the Allume photography team for the third year. Not only is it a highlight of my year, it fuels my desire to serve!”
As a poet, speaker, author, and event host Amena Brown Owen’s was named one of Rejuvenate Magazine’sTop 40 under 40 Changemakers. She is the author of two spoken word CDs and non-fiction book Breaking Old Rhythms. Amena and her husband, Matt “DJ Opdiggy” Owen, perform a presentation of poetry, monologue and deejaying and host an open mic in Atlanta every fifth Thursday at Urban Grind Coffee. She also facilitates workshops on creativity, writing, artistic community and becoming an artist-entrepreneur. Amena lends her voice to finding inspiration, truth, and purpose while encouraging others to do the same.
Caroline Simas is an artist, wife and mother of four in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her licensed brand, Multiple Blessings, partners with top manufacturers who place her designs and patterns on a variety of products for the gift and home décor industries which are sold worldwide. Caroline’s art, often matched with scripture and messages of inspiration, resonates with many bringing joy and faith into homes. Her colorful palette is easily recognized in watercolor, gouache, mixed media, abstract and pen & ink. Caroline designs from her home studio, gathering inspiration from her faith and family who provide unending love and support. www.multipleblessings.com
Rachel is a certified special education teacher and New York Times bestselling author of Hands Free Mama. Through truthful storytelling and simple strategies, Rachel helps people overcome distraction and perfection to live better and love more at handsfreemama.com. Rachel’s second book, Hands Free Life, debuts this fall. Rachel’s work has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Global News, TIME.com, and The Huffington Post. Rachel loves being outdoors, baking, and doing acts of kindness for those in need with her husband and two daughters who inspire her daily.
Reeve is a singer-songwriter from the Charlotte, NC area. She began crafting songs over 15 years ago. Her voice is “stop you in your tracks” good and her songs will linger in your head and your heart. She is one artist not to be missed! She toured with the all-gal band, The Near Misses for 4 years and is currently the vocal director for The Tosco Music Party in Charlotte. In late 2013 Reeve released her first solo record, What Love is All About. She spends her days writing, performing, or teaching music along with taking care of her puppy, Mr. Gus Gus.
Carey Bailey is a woman who loves to dance around the living room with her husband to Michael Jackson, loves playing with art supplies, loves reading to her 2 little people in a tree house and loves having Jesus as her BFF! She is self professed candy junkie but sugar will never match her deep desire for helping women satisfy their cravings for abundant life. She does this through life coaching, speaking, and by co-hosting With Joy Retreats. You can connect with Carey through her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.
Rachel is a creative,messy, laid back extrovert who is always up for an adventure. She loves to gather people toward Jesus and the things He loves. On her blog/instablog she writes about the messy mama she is and the good God who is making beauty out of her mess. She is the founder of an online ministry called Twelve Prayers. Twelve prayers was created to help women to be joyful in hope, patient in trial and faithful in prayer. They host monthly day of prayers on various topics near to God's heart. Rachel is thrilled and honored to come alongside the women of Allume through prayer as the prayer coordinator. Rachel calls Matthews, NC home and lives with her incredibly good looking pastor and five beautiful, wild and gracious children. You can often find her avoiding house work by taking an adventure with her gaggle of kids or planning them an overly elaborate birthday party.
As a sequin-wearing, homeschooling mother of four, Kris is passionate about Jesus, people and words. Her heart beats to share the hard, but glorious truth about life in Christ. She’s been known to take gratuitous pictures of her culinary creations, causing mouths to water all across Instagram. Once upon a time, she ran 10 miles for Compassion International, a ministry for which she serves as an advocate. Kris is the author of, Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement, and the follow up, Companion Workbook. She spends her free time managing GraceTable and occasionally writing at kriscamealy.com.
As a trained Actress and heartfelt Bible Teacher, Wendy ministers to Women’s hearts through storytelling and Biblical life applications. She utilizes drama, comedy, poetry, and the study of God’s Word. During her career in Hollywood, on shows such as JAG, Melrose Place, Star Trek Voyager, and Roswell, Wendy found herself longing to tell stories that edify and encourage women! She now writes and performs Dramatic Bible Studies that move her audiences closer to Jesus. Wendy resides in Southern California with her husband and their 3 ruddy boys. You can connect with Wendy at wwww.wendyspeake.com, Facebook and Instagram. And keep an eye open for her debut book, co-authored with Kelli Stuart and published by Kregel Publications - set to hit stores fall 2016.