What a difference a Year makes

Declare- what a difference a year makes!

When I attended Mamas Write last year, I stumbled upon it via someones comment on FB,  I had no idea what to expect, nor did i know anyone who was there. I must admit I felt a little on the margins- I was one of the very few(count ’em on one hand) older ladies who attended. 
Whew, that took a lot to admit!  I have attended many other conferences for my profession and I’m used to many voices at one time all speaking the same language. But, not then- I was the foreigner in a foreign land. New to blogging, only at it not quite a year.  Not like some of those other “girls” whose voice had been out there for 5, 8, 10 years.  I was the outsider looking in and I was overwhelmed. TMI and a lot of it didn’t apply- not because I knew it all, but because I was in a different season than most of those precious young ones. 
Fast forward a couple of months and I went to Allume- I was called there- and I knew it. But, even though I met in RL many of the sweet girls I had become friends with online through the Better Writer group on FB, there was still something off kilter. TMI  again and so much that it was still flowing out my ears six months later. I did love meeting my girls tho- those ladies are so precious to me, to  have met, hugged, talked with, ate with, sat in sessions with and ate chocolate with; not to mention the incredible photo booth which was an experience in itself (yes, Trina, I mean you).  Still, I must admit that I’ve been off-kilter a lot since then.  A lingering minor illness that sapped my strength the rest of the fall, winter and into the spring made even thinking about blogging a challenge. 
Now, fast forward from spring to now- I declare! What an amazing difference a year makes. I was torn this year between going to every conference I could to not attending any. Financial concerns were looming. I held off until the week of the conference- ok, that was last week y’all! And, just like last year- It was a God thing that I go. 
I could tell you of meeting in RL two of my fellow Better Writer bloggers (like meeting long-separated family). I could tell you of the little jewels that stood out in Mary DeMuth’s talk; but I wrote a page and a half on that! I could tell you of all the sweet ladies that I met at the table at meal times. I could tell you of Kat Lee’s Ninja talk  (another 3 pages of notes). I could tell you of Amy Lynn Andrews’  fast and furious paced answers to those blogging FAQs (but she gave us the link to her cheat sheet). I could tell you of Holly Homer’s introduction to the world of Google + (whew, more notes!!). 
I could tell you of all the wonderful vendors I talked with whose hearts for the truly disenfranchised and for the least of these was evident in every conversation. I could tell you of Jill Monaco’s wonderful roller coaster talk and her absolute trust in God and His timing. I could tell you of David Molnar’s great photography tips and his fun sense of humor (great tips, thanks!). I could tell you of Jeff Goins and his most sincere talk regarding the in-between (not to mention-his impersonation of Ron Weasley). I could tell you of the worship band, Undignified and their wonderful leadership into the heart of worship for us all.  But, what stuck most in my heart was Shaun Groves.
Shaun’s heart is so far out in front of him it’s flashing with neon lights! His music was a joy to my ears, but when he talked about his precious little man, and the fact that if only someone had been compassionate and had sponsored this sweet boy, he would now be home in India in his own home with his own parents, with his own father telling him that he loved him in his native language. There were tears in Shaun’s eyes as he related the story of tucking in this little man and telling him that he loved him and this sweet boy, not understanding the language, asked what love meant. He told us that he used the words the boy did understand: “I big, big, big like you!” And that sweet boy told him: “Daddy, I love you, too.”  (big cry)
Shaun then related to us how much it would mean for this little boy to hear that from his birth parent and how he wished that it was so. That it was not him, the adoptive daddy, but the real daddy telling this little boy about love. It didn’t matter to him that he loved this one with all his heart, he only knew that there are many boys and girls out there who do not hear those words every night. There are so many more who are orphaned and given away or abandoned by parents who have no means to feed, clothe, educate, or anything else. These parents, destitute, fade away. The lucky ones are scooped up by missions and organizations like Compassion. Their bodies are fed, they are clothed and educated and their souls and spirits are fed the food they need to soar and to grow into the Body of Christ.  
That is what I want to tell you. It’s not about blogging. It’s about community. It’s about loving our fellow man, caring for those who are helpless to care for themselves, in whatever way we can. For those who blog- it’s telling our story to anyone who will listen because we all matter.  It’s loving until it hurts and then loving some more; and if we have the means it’s sharing what we have with those who have nothing.
Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the crowds. He will multiply your words to reach the ones who need to be told “I love You”.
Trust Him. He will feed you and give you words so that you can feed others. 
That’s what I gleaned between the lines last weekend at Declare!
I’m linking up with other attendees over on Declare’s site– go out and read what knocked their socks off this weekend? I know they’d appreciate it and any comment you give them will spur them on as they write!

Reflections of Allume

Now that I’m home I have been able to digest things I wrote while I was at the conference and here’s some of what came to me:

This blank page cries out to witness to the fact that it is here waiting for the words to be etched upon it.

Words that bring hope, love, freedom, charity, community, joy, healing, consolation, encouragement, commiseration, appreciation.

Words that banish shame, pain, wounding, bleeding, breaking, pride, arrogance. Words that express facts over the emotions of the moment.

Words that say balance, seek first the Kingdom, and write to your reader. 

Words that remind us to be generous, to walk with that sister out in the dry and lonely places, and to lift another up in prayer.

These words were also spoken without a sound- the look exchanged when a word made the connection, a hug, a squeeze of a shoulder, a casual arm around the waist, a fleeting smile, the deep down belly laughs waiting for the next pic to snap, the tears flowing.

And then, the words in metered rhyme across the page spoken out bravely and the stories told. The true expression of community’s meaning in the midst of the living, breathing community- we are here for you, we want you to give out your words, we want to hear them and breathe them in as you breathe them out, and  breathe them out again when we go back home. You have touched us in our inmost parts with the words The Word has given you to speak over us.

We left with clarity, joy, fulfillment, purpose, vision, new friends in real life, and so much more that He has graciously given from His Hand- and knowing we are better for it.

I realize this is fragmented, but those days were fragmented- I took the bits that were offered and they were indeed as nourishing as those cupcakes and cookies were- sweet to the taste!

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103



Allume: Lit Up and Shining

This past week I experienced a very large dose of sisterhood. 400 women in the same space, of the same mind, in the same spirit, of similar humor all talking at once. I have learned from past experiences that all of that fun and joy spilling out can be a bit much for my spirit to be immersed in- so I escape, and sit back and observe until I can re-enter the fray so to speak. However, there is joy in observing, too!

The fun was watching those beautiful ladies laugh, love, hug, hold onto, and pray with each other and for each other.  We came not knowing what, if anything, to expect other than to hope to recognize the real person from their FB and twitter pics.  The joy was seeing that it was Real Love in action, authentic, transparent, see Jesus shining through them {Love}.

Our hearts resonated with the words balance, pride, bigger, smaller, community, Blog schedules, RSS, SEO and a multitude of other terms that I now have to refer to in my notes.

Our hearts bled and broke with the stories we heard, especially from that sweet grown up baby girl of a father in prison who experienced love through Angel Tree of Prison Ministries. All because of a promise and a present at Christmas time over the years.

I’ve been blogging for about a year and whenever I meet other bloggers for the first time they always say: “So, what’s your blog about?” I hem and haw, searching for the appropriate tag for it, but failing miserably, I mumble “I just don’t know how to describe it.” 

I think people have been asking me that question all my life- “So, who are you anyway?” is how it usually is thrust into my face. Haven’t been able to answer that question either – except with surface answers. You know the ones: wife, mother, nurse, Sunday school teacher, bible study attender, etc.

But something has been happening over the past year in my life- God has started showing me about me- and since the conference I do believe that I’ve been able to put words to who I am-

I am the encourager, I am the one who sees God in every situation, I am the mama-surrogate hugger, I am the one who “gets it” when I look in your eyes.

And Why?

Girls, I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, that dark side, the side where if only someone would really look in my eyes and understand, the side where I’m the exhausted mommy and can’t put three words together in a sentence, the side where my heart is breaking because of family, the side where I’m the only stay at home on the street, that feels left behind when the “girls” go to lunch during work and I have the kiddos so that won’t work, the side- well, you know, all of you know.

I was blessed by God immeasurably by those few, those Godly women who came along side at the critical moments in my life. And I’m here to tell you- I will be that woman if you need someone in 3D or over the phone for a phone hug and need to know that someone is out there praying for you. I’m in your corner. You can all do great things – that is after all what you were called to do- YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. 


Your Encourager