A Changed Life: What I took Home from #Allume

In addition to a large box of books, notepads, keepsakes and trinkets that I had to hike ten blocks in the hot, South Carolina sun and find a UPS office to ship home for $27, I boarded my 6 am flight home to Portland, Oregon with so much more. A head exploding with new information, thoughts and ideas to write about, a heart full of new contacts and friends and their warm stories. And a body weary from the hustle and bustle that only a cross-country trip for five days at a blogging conference with hundreds of other women can produce.

I got the chance to meet some of my favorite bloggers, authors and speakers, listen in on some amazing, life-changing sessions and keynote lectures. Nearly all day long for three days I was able to engage in deep and heart-wrenching conversations with new acquaintances from all over the world and in every sort of walk of life and circumstance. I made business connections and networked with big names in Christian literary agencies and publishing companies and spoke with several remarkable philanthropic organizations that aid and serve people in varying cultures living through a multitude of tragic events and conditions. And I shared a tiny room with three women I had never met before, who, by the end of the conference have become dear and hopefully, life-long friends.

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Of course I had my expectations and preconceived notions of what Allume was going to be like. Some were unrealistic or just wishful thinking that didn’t come true. Others were fears and apprehensions that for the most part were relieved and overcome. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone and work up the courage to talk with complete strangers about my writing and the Made to Mother Project, exchanged business cards and asked for social media follows. I pushed away the initial feelings of envy and competition to really listen to other writers, authors and “mommy bloggers,” and I ignored the “not good enough” thoughts that nagged at my soul as I listened to the wisdom of those who have gone before me and have twice (or six times) the platform or book deals that I have. I learned to encourage and cheer on others, practice TRUE hospitality in many different forms, and to change my default mindset from one of of categorizing and comparisons to blessing and reassuring others. Finally, I came away from Allume with the new mantra to trust Him with this calling I have received, to write the story that was assigned to me, work my own patch of land that He has allotted and to repeat, repeat, repeat.

Allume seriously changed my life last week. It reconnected and uplifted my faith in Christ and it gave me the motivation and help to adjust my self-talk and trust God more with my tiny little microphone IN HIS TIME. And, on a completely different note, it gave me a front-row, inside look at the SOUTH. And, wow, I fell in love with that part of our country! I drank gallons of sweet tea, consumed plates of grits; I adored the “y’alls” and drawls and simply cherished the downright, sweet southern hospitality of everyone I met there. And I will be back. Soon.

In the meantime, I have resolved to take a little time off from my crazy obsession of blogging, promotion and social media to rethink, reevaluate and refocus myself. Countless Allume speakers convicted me to spend more authentic time with my family and community, and realign my writing priorities and future so they fall UNDER my first priority as a wife, mom and friend. That being said, as November quickly approaches and with it a big month of sharing adoption stories here at M2M, you are going to see fewer personal posts and less participation in linkups and promotions. I want my family to know that they are the most important job I have; I want more of others and less of me, and I want God to receive ALL the glory through the continuing work of the Made to Mother Project. So, thank you, Allume, for an amazing week of self-reflection and transformation to live more intentionally, love bigger and embrace true hospitality!

what i took home from allume

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5 Things My #Allume Roomies Should Know About Me

This is getting real. I am going to #Allume this week…in 2 days, 6 hours and 23 minutes to be exact. I am leaving my three kids with my husband in the middle of the week to get on a plane and fly across the country to Greenville, SC for the Allume Conference for four whole days. I still can’t believe it. I am excited. I am nervous. I just might throw up.

Allume is this amazing community of Christian women who write, blog or aspire to. They hold a conference each fall to refresh, encourage and spur on women writers through inspirational speakers, fellowship gatherings and skills workshops. And this year, I GET TO GO! I first heard about Allume last winter when I began this crazy blogging journey. I knew it would be good for me to attend a blogging conference and there were three that I was mulling over. I finally settled on Allume mostly because of Sarah Mae, a blogging hero of mine.

I went shopping last week for new clothes, jewelry and a new purse so I can attempt to fit in with all the gorgeous, stylish and professional women that I know are coming. I’m packing my husband’s laptop (mine is being sent away for warranty repair), several notepads and pens, blog and book business cards and (gulp) a M2M book proposal that I have been working tirelessly on for an interview with a literary agent. Please cross your fingers, toes and whatever else you can that I don’t blow this!

So, now for the real question you are wondering about…why am I posting about this??? Well, in addition to gearing up for next week’s adoption month series and preparing for my trip, I have nothing else ready to post, nor do I have the time to promote it this week. Also, a couple weeks ago, one of my conference roommates that I haven’t yet met in person wrote a post on her blog about a few things we should know about her. She then challenged us to do the same and last week, Allume echoed that challenge, so here goes. To Aprille at Beautiful in His Time, Katie from Wonderfully Made and Jennifer from Jennifer’s Life Between:

1. Even though a test I took in high school said I am an extrovert, I can be really shy, awkward and self-depreciating at first. But get me talking and watch out, I might dominate the conversation. I am getting better at asking reciprocating and insightful questions, but if I’m a little hesitant, don’t give up on me. And if I talk too much, please feel free to tell me to shut up or take a breath and then talk about yourself.

2. Sometimes I talk, shout and laugh in my sleep. Sorry. BUT, I’m super nervous and we probably will be going to sleep very late every night anyway, which hopefully will help me sleep so deeply…or restlessly because I am so nervous. Either way, hopefully I won’t have time to sleep-talk.

3. Next to all the scheduled events and my aforementioned interview with a literary agent, I have no plans and know no one there. As such, I’m extremely nervous about striking up conversations with complete strangers and terribly afraid of having no one to talk to and sit with, so please include me on anything that you can!

4. I’m not much of a dress-up, hair and make-up, fancy person like I used to be when I was younger. In fact, since I had children and became a SAHM, I am pretty sad to say that I have gotten frumpy and not super stylish. I am trying to fix this, though, perhaps a little too forcefully as I went shopping last week literally just for this conference. So, any styling tips and shameless compliments would be much appreciated!

5. If I could pick ONE post from M2M that is my all-time, must-read favorite it would have to be: When Good Enough Just Isn’t and Living a Simpler Life. Okay, yes, I know that’s two. I just couldn’t help myself. Enjoy!

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Your Story is Worth Sharing: Get Your FREE Pass to the 2014 {in}Real Life Conference

If you frequent this blog much, you probably know already how strongly I feel about sharing stories of mommyhood, womanhood and, well, basically, HUMANHOOD. Each person’s story is a powerful tool. So powerful, in fact, that I believe they can change the world. Not only are they heartwarming, encouraging and inspirational, but they evoke a sense of camaraderie, of community. They help us know that no matter what hardships or joy we experience, we are not alone. Someone, whether next door or across the globe has gone through something similar. But most importantly, our stories are visible proof that God is working through every situation in our lives.

I know how hard it is to be real like that. I mean, be really REAL. There is very little else that exposes your vulnerability like telling your story. And when we are real, raw and open like that, it is easy to be self-conscious and worry about being judged or even receiving backlash. Especially for those of us who have spent most of our lives worrying about what others think of us. I was just talking with someone last week who was hesitant about sharing her story on M2M and she put it so perfectly when she said, “It forces me to be vulnerable in a way that I try to avoid at all costs.”
For me writing is therapy. An outlet for the swirls and torrents of thoughts, feelings and emotions trapped in my brain. I can tell when days or weeks have gone by without writing because I get this panicky irritability and sense of chaos inside until I can get it all out of my head and onto paper or the computer screen. As the jumbles of words and emotions spew out of me through my pen or keypad, I am able to sort through and compartmentalize them, one by one. Gradually, a sense of peace, contentment and a plan for the future begins to emerge and I can feel like I am sane again.
It’s been like this all my life. I started a journal in 5th grade and now, decades (and VOLUMES of journals) later, I haven’t stopped. When I was in high school, I romantically imagined that some day when I am long gone, my granddaughter or great granddaughter would inherit them and read them like novels. That is, until I reread them myself for researching books and writing projects a couple years back. And I was AGHAST at what I put on paper during my young adult years. I don’t want ANYONE to read those, I thought. In those journals are the raw, emotional rantings of a rebellious young woman trying on the language and behaviors of an adult. And it is UGLY. But in its ugliness is also truth and real life. My life. And the lives of many other young women who have experienced similar things. I never realized that until I opened myself up to tell my own story, as raw and vulnerable as it is. And instead of being attacked with criticism and judgment (okay, there were a few of those), I have been met with so much grace, understanding and the open arms and tears of camaraderie. Telling my story has helped other women be able to sort through their pasts, make peace with their demons and eventually come to a place where they can share their stories as well. And when they tell their stories, they positively impact and encourage even more women to find healing and share their stories and on and on it goes!

That is why I do what I do. That is why I started Made to Mother. I am so passionate about hearing and telling real women’s REAL stories. Your story is worth sharing! In fact, we need it! They help us feel like we are not alone and they help us move past our painful pasts to heal and grow. Which is why I am so excited to invite you to be a part of the 2014 {in}Real Life conference, hosted April 25 and 26 by {in}courage that has also take on the theme of “Tell Your Story.”

(in)RL was born out of two years spent listening to women craving local, real life community. Derived from the social media acronym “IRL” or “in real    life,” (in)RL is an invitation to share what {in}courage has learned about community and encourage women with stories and suggestions for connecting deeper in real life.

It’s unique because instead of asking you to pay for plane tickets and hotel rooms to travel to a hugely expensive conference, they bring all the content to you. FOR FREE. There’s a webcast to tune into and a day of real life meet-ups with other local (in)courage readers.

In 2012, over 1,700 women participated and in 2013, there were over 6,000 women from more than 20 countries!

(in)RL is the combination of outstanding online content that encourages, moves and inspires women as they watch in the comfort of their own homes and local meet-ups where small becomes the new big and women connect, in person, beyond the comment box. Think of it as a girl’s weekend away that doesn’t require packing or plane tickets, where women can kick off any expectation of perfect, set aside their fears, their shyness, their worry that they’re not good enough, and find some of Jesus’ words of rest woven into every video shared here.

The (in)RL webcast kicks off on Friday, April 25 and (in)RL meetups follow on Saturday, April 26. They’ll provide video content on the importance of sharing our stories.

Ready to sign up? Register here. Then find your city location and join a Meetup! Or start one yourself.

Your story is worth sharing! Get ready to tell it and hear many others’. Step through the blog posts and into real lives – on April 25-26 and beyond. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of connecting (in)courage in real life!

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