If I never write another word, Allume was worth it.
That’s a pretty crazy thing to say about a blogging conference, right? And yet I know the truth of it deep in my bones.
I went to Allume as a brand-new blogger, unsure what to expect, unsure if I would have a place in this community. But the hearts of the leaders drew me from the very beginning. Their endless prayers for us, their passion for community, their desire to make Jesus welcome beckoned me in. I assumed I would learn technical skills to help me manage my blog (I did). I hoped I would be stretched and challenged as a writer (I was). I did not expect for God to use this weekend to break through the fears and doubts that have entangled me for years. I did not expect to meet Him face-to-face on the holy ground of a hotel ballroom.
When Jennie asked us to speak aloud those sins that entangled us and held us captive, it was a frightening and freeing and transforming moment. I told these women, near strangers, the dark place of my heart that I had not told anyone but my husband. I tried to hide behind my vague response but this dear sister next to me (I don’t even know your name!) dug deeper. And God broke through. In that moment I beheld my sovereign God who is more that enough to meet all my needs, calm all my fears, and carry me when I cannot stand. Like Isaiah and Ezekiel and John I fell before God, undone by who He is and what He has done for me.
I did not meet many women. My stack of collected business cards is woefully small. But honestly? For this shy girl 450 women, however welcoming and beautiful, are incredibly overwhelming. Yet I know that I am part of this community. I felt at home with these ladies who love Jesus passionately and serve Him in the hard places and squeal over new books left on our tables like it’s Christmas morning. Over and over we were reminded to be a host of stars, pointing the way to Jesus instead of trying to outshine our neighbor. I was challenged to encourage the dreams of others while pursing my own, to celebrate the gifts and victories of my sisters rather than letting the bitterness of jealousy divide. I was encouraged to throw myself with abandon into the community of influence I have whether it is 4 or 4,000. This is upside-down thinking in the blogging world. But it felt like home.
I know that I cannot build a tent on this mountaintop, but I want to move forward transformed. I am desperate not to slip into the same patterns of thinking and self-protecting behaviors – which only shield me from the very Life I long for. How do I live transformed when I am knee-deep in diapers and bottles and the laundry that never seems to end? How do I find adventure in the everyday? How do I share my story when I’m just now accepting the reality that I have a story? I want all the answers and a five-step plan tied in a pretty package before I begin. God has a different way for this fear-choked girl. Come with me, He whispers. Lean into me, rely on my sufficiency and I will show you things above and beyond all you could ever hope or imagine.