Monday, October 28, 2013

My Allume Takeaway

I am back from my weekend away at Allume, the blogging conference. My heart is full, my body is exhausted and my brain is on information overload.

There were big name speakers of the Christian world. People I have heard of, but really have never heard or read. Ann Voskamp, Jenni Allen, Melanie Shankle. They all had great things to say.

Since I love lists, here is my takeaway in a nutshell.

1) There are women on the internet who are the real deal. In real life they are as wonderful as their edited and proof read online persona.

Btw, I loved when people told me that they recognize me from my pictures/avatar. It made me feel like I am not only putting my best face forward on the internet. I look the same in flesh and blood.

I made IRL friendships this weekend. Friendships that I am excited to continue to build on.

I can't say enough what a blessing it was to meet Amanda. We met online this spring, but...we really clicked this weekend. She wanted to hang out with me. I wanted to hang out with her. We wanted to delve deep into each other's stories. We laughed. We talked. We had fun.

Amanda was one of my roomies. From the moment we met in the lobby it was a perfect relationship.=)

2) God is in the details. Amanda and I decided to room together way back in May. It was just going to be the two of us. But, with GranFondo and other things being in Greenville last weekend, the hotel got booked solid, and Allume girls had no rooms. We decided to squeeze together-literally-double beds are not for the faint of heart, and welcomed Kit and Elizabeth into our room.

The only one who could have orchestrated the perfectness of this match up was God. He knew where each of us are in our journey and He put us together-to challenge and encourage each other.

3) Greenville had an amazing downtown. Reedy River Park is gorgeous, with a suspension bridge, waterfall, and nice trails for walking or running. I got to hoof it with Lisa both Friday and Saturday morning. She is a wonderful "older" woman that I met at my other blogging conference last year. She encourages my heart as only an older woman can.

During breaks or occasionally playing hooky from sessions-I was able to explore the shops and restaurants of the scenic area. It was fun to chat around bread and dip and wine and ice cream and quesadillas and pitas. (did I mention I ate way too much this weekend?)

4) Allume was truly not about blogs and statistics. It was about community and not competition. There was no junior high-ish competition and shallowness. There were obviously well known and not so well known bloggers, but I felt welcomed and loved and even recognized for who I am. When Sarah Mae (the conference founder) gave me a hug minutes after I walked in and told me she was so glad I was here, I knew this conference was going to be different. She was not remote, she was there. I was more than a stat for her conference. I was a person.

5) When they say at Allume to leave room in your luggage for swag-they were not exaggerating. I came home with over a dozen books-some hot off the presses. They gave away mugs and jewelry and ornaments and.... Craziness.

6) Conferences aren't for sleeping. I am on a serious sleep deficit. Wednesday night I had 5 hours, Thursdays-8, Friday-6, Saturday-5. This girl functions and only functions, on a average of 7 or 8 hours.

These late nights were due to heart to hearts with the roomies and open mike night and general conference enthusiasm.

7) I am mulling over many thoughts and truths...

Confidence in who I am as a person overflows into my writing.
Give generously and without strings. Accept generosity with grace.
Untrue Christian cliche...God never gives us more than we can handle. Truth...God gives us more than we can handle in order to force us to depend on Him.
Legalism is not longer about what we aren't to do (drinking, dancing), but what we have to do.

And so many more, though they are alluding my mind right now. There are posts in here that are waiting to be stewed over. Waiting to overflow from my full heart.

8) It is not just the big happenings but the little moments. The short encounters in the fro-yo line or at the airport. The people. The coffee. The one liners from each speaker that change you. The smile booth. The snorts of laughter over random. The times of worship after most meals, where the words and tunes filter down into your soul.

These are the moments that set the tone of the conference.

9) Sometimes it is better to skip a session for the sake of connection and/or quiet. Allume allows you room and freedom to choose what is best for you. There was a prayer room where the attendees could go for quiet and for someone to pray with them. It was a peaceful spot. A spot to let God really talk to your heart.

In the prayer room were prayer journals for every attendee. You could write words in other people's journals. Words that breathe life and blessing. I am still soaking up the blessing of that.

10) Allume promoted the idea of joining forces for good. Good beyond just our readers. Good that spreads out globally. There were sponsors and booths lining the foyer of many organizations that work with needy people. Allume has a missional focus. I did appreciate that.

My brain in petering out here. Signing off until tomorrow...