Hope, One Word

Where Hope Grows

January 27, 2016

My shovel cut through the plastic bag of top soil, I couldn’t lift the weight of that bag for all my trying. Obviously it wasn’t air-tight because the soil inside was so heavy, saturated from recent rains. The weight of all of that water–I couldn’t even get it up on it’s end. I cut in and ripped back the white sheath expecting to see just brown, just soil.

I hadn’t expected the life inside.

I hadn’t expected the shock of green against the black.

Of course I see the metaphor in this. I see the message bold and blazing–hope growing quietly in the dark. Hope biding it’s time, breathing, spreading roots in the quiet, unseen.

Moss

This year came in with her fists up, her shoulders squared, her feet in fighting stance. I’ve been stumbling alongside friends and family through trial after trial. We live through suffering seasons, that overwhelm us and snuff out our joy,  blinding us to beauty that lives just beneath the surface.

But just because we don’t easily see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Who are we to assume we know what lays beneath the thick blanket of struggle, that the seeds of hope aren’t already sprouting, taking root, in spite of the blows life deals us.

I have kicked at dried leaves in my path and scuffed my heels in low, muffled exasperation at life. I’ve poured out my heart in prayer and angst, shoving my hands deep into my pockets and feeling nothing but my own fingers, and wished there was something more to grab onto.

All the while He hovers above and around me, God, blowing through the trees and stirring up the seasons in transition. Meanwhile hope grows unassumingly, unexpectedly, always where I least expect to see it. Under wraps, in the dark, in what seems to be the least hospitable place for life, hope unfurls in the soft, bright colors of spring in the dead of winter.

As my friend Christie writes, “Gardens are born in winter”. (Roots & Sky)

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! (Psalm 43:5)

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In a garden where everything lies dead, ripped up by the roots, in a space laying rest for a later season of growth, right there among the scraps and cast off bits, that’s where hope lives. Hope thrives in corners unnoticed, in spaces deemed unfit for any proper use.

This isn’t an old, dying world. This is a world in the process of being made new. This is the truth that has always been hiding in plain sight. (Roots & Sky)

Those dark places that bog us down, that cause our feet to slip, it is along those muddy passages of life where hope grows wild, those are the spaces where we find Him, gloriously making a way .

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Hope

Prisoners Of Hope

January 20, 2016

I read this morning that they’ve stopped actively searching for any survivors of last week’s Marine helicopter crash off the coast of Hawaii.

My heart has been a mess of sorrow since last Friday morning when I first heard about it from a dear friend, whose brother-in-law is among the men missing. He was here, and now he isn’t. Just like that. Miles of ocean have been covered in the search, but nothing substantial has been recovered.

The discovery of 3 empty inflated life rafts feels like a particularly brutal find.

hope

As I’ve been praying and weeping over this horrible situation, my one word has come repeatedly to mind. I’ve hung my head muttering, asking, how does one have hope in a situation that seems hopeless? How do you pray for the best possible outcome when you can’t imagine there’s the potential for anything reminiscent of a silver lining?

lights_KC copy

Christie’s first book will be on bookshelves in a couple of weeks, and as I was reading it the other night, I came across this quote,

“God walks with them, always already in the darkest places. He is especially present in the very places we imagine he cannot be.” ~Christie Purifoy, Roots & Sky

Roots And Sky_KC

The silver lining I’m looking for isn’t the possibility of a positive circumstance, but the ever-present person of Jesus Christ. Even in the folds of despair His presence still shines. This morning, the words of Zechariah called we who believe, “prisoners of hope”.

 

Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope. (Zechariah 10:12)

These words arrest me. What is a prisoner, but someone confined or kept in the custody of another. God keeps us in His custody, we are confined by the Holy.

When the weight of hopelessness presses in, when fear and doubt and trepidation wrack our hearts, we are told to return to our place of strength, our place of refuge and protection–to be kept in the custody of the ONE who is Hope.

Return, O Prisoners of hope. 

We who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf… (Hebrews 6:18-20)

Return to your stronghold.

The stronghold is where we surrender, where the prisoners of hope receive a life sentence for eternity.

Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope.

Let your comfort be in your Keeper, your Stronghold who has gone before you, and goes with you into the darkness even now.

 

*A Meal Train has been started for the Campell family (Christie’s sister, and children). If you’d like a tangible way to show some love and hospitality to these hurting souls, CLICK HERE.

 

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Hope, One Word

On Fear And Hope

January 13, 2016

And here’s how desire becomes corrupt: wanting derails into selfishness, greed and demanding ingratitude when we’ve failed to reorganize and receive the good that God has already given. Trust is at the center of holy desire: trust that God is good and wills good for his people. We trust in asking; we trust in receiving. Holy trust believes that whatever God chooses to give is enough. (Jen Pollock Michele)

I was sure the sun was mocking me, the way it blazed so bold and bright all day. I felt as gray and bleak as most midwest winter days usually are, my heart, overcast, threatening to storm.

hope

My one word for the year, “Hope” flaps hard these days, like a flag in the winter wind, snapping and popping in sharp bursts, demanding my consideration. I’ve wrestled with resentment over its call to attention. The truth is I don’t feel all that hopeful, and by lunchtime yesterday, I felt near certain I would toss that word to the curb and choose another.

But it doesn’t work that way–not with me, anyway.

While reading in Ephesians I stumble across this prayer from Paul, master of the run-on sentence:

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, …

I write it in my journal as a question: What is the hope to which He has called me? I chase that one line down with 4 handwritten pages of sloppy confessions, dumping the whole heap of my frustrations and irritation out for God to read. By the third page my sin practically leaps off the page. My desires derailed into selfishness, as Jen so aptly wrote. It takes all that frustrated scribbling for me to see that ingratitude is at the root of my irritation, well, that and fear.

When I’m afraid I don’t trust God. Fear erects itself like a blockade between me and the Almighty. It sends me into hiding, ashamed, untrusting, like Eve in the garden. This word, Hope, is the very voice of God calling to me in the midst of the thicket–Where are you? What is the hope to which you have been called? 

dining room2

The greek word for hope in Paul’s passage means to anticipate, to have expectation or confidence–the confident expectation of good. I purse my lips when I read this, feeling a bit of mockery for how I feel the exact opposite of this. The ugly truth is that when life rocks me with uncertainty, fear swells like a wave and I forget how to swim. I toss and twist myself exhausted in the fear that what I can expect from such uncertainty is not good, but bad. I give uncertainty the power to derail the truth. Fear snatches the throne of my heart and reigns with hostility, anger and despair.

What is the hope to which he has called you?

Upstairs hall

After lunch I relent and let the kids play video games for a few minutes. I’m desperately tired but instead of sleep, I sit on the floor with my journal and continue my confessions. I’m certain I could confess for days without end. Tears brimming, I hear the answer to Paul’s question–What is the hope to which you have been called?

HopeStudy

Fear begins to recede. Of course I know this: my hope is in Jesus. The hope to which I have been called is IN the one who IS hope. Jesus, the hope of glory. Hope requires trust:“Holy trust believes that whatever God gives is enough”. 

Ingratitude opens the door for fear, and the unwelcome guest crushes gratitude. Fear plants seeds of doubt that God is enough, that Jesus is the hope of glory, and that God fulfills His purpose for me. (Ps. 138:8)

It seems the first hurdle I am learning to leap over in this new year is fear. This stands in direct opposition to embracing the hope to which I have been called.

fear

God does it. He fulfills HIS purpose. I can be grateful in this hope, thankful for this promise that does not fail. If I believe this, I can rest in the unknown, trusting that God will do (and is doing) what He has in mind. When I remember this, when I snatch back the pointed scepter from fear, and invite Jesus back to the throne in my life, hope becomes not something to bootstrap my way into believing, but something that I can embrace with joy and expectation.

God has already given. Jesus has come and died and was raised.

Hope lives.

May He teach me what it is to live in Him.

 

*Katie Orr has released 3 fantastic bible studies intended to help you dive deep into scripture in just 15 minutes a day. Check out her HOPE study HERE, and find the others HERE. Here’s how funny God is, I received my copy of Katie’s new studies after I had received my word “hope” for 2016, and low and behold, HOPE was among them. 

 

 

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Hope, One Word

Hope For The New Year

January 6, 2016

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since our dog died. Between my son’s birthday and Christmas, I didn’t write about it here, but mentioned it in my Christmas letter. Christmas eve, I took the kids to visit their great-grandmother, whose health had been slipping, and on New Year’s day, she too slipped through the veil.

I’m not sure I’ve processed any of it.

dog

A wise man once said that there is a season for everything. In my head I hear the Byrd’s singing, there is a season, turn turn turn. While life turns over, this slow-coming winter season begins to blow its arctic breath over us. We’re turning over new dreams preparing to put our house on the market. Change comes whether we are ready for it or not.  All the while I’m rolling paint on the walls, my “One Word” for 2016 keeps rolling around in my head.

It’s funny to me, the ways God always, always gives us what we don’t seem to know we need.

painting

Six years ago, when I prayed about trading an armful of flimsy resolutions for a single word, I didn’t have the imagination for what that could look like. For years, I’d made hopeful promises to myself, and to God about how I’d make every effort to better myself when the calendar rolled over.

We all know how these things go. Try, struggle, fail, quit. Resolve to make more resolutions, the next revolution around the sun.
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The idea of choosing “one word” for the year, rather than making resolutions intrigued me. The first year I decided to try it, God clearly gave me the word, “obedience” and the year after that, it was “trust”. For two years, God took me at my word, and so He would teach me to take Him at His.

After trust, came the words, “heal” (2013), “release” (2014) and “spend” (2015). None of those words were words I would have chosen for myself, but each of them were the exact words I didn’t know I needed.
KrisNow, all these years in, opting for a word that means something, rather than a bunch of resolutions that mean nothing, I have have made peace with the fact that I usually don’t like my word–not at first anyway. This year, is no different. I wasn’t excited about the word God held out to me when I asked Him for it.

Isn’t this what we do? We ask for meat with want dripping off of our tongues, but then sigh with disappointment when God answers with manna–what is it, we ask. He doesn’t tell us, except to say the it is enough.

 He surprises us while we shrug and ask, is that really it? So it was with me, when I prayed for my word for this year.

I heard the word, but I didn’t want it. (Truth be told, I am just arrogant enough to think I didn’t need it.)

hope2

Hope. It’s a word so overused and abused by our society. Hope, a tagline for politicians. Hope, empty promises packaged and sold for mass consumption. I’m not going to lie, my first reaction was ugly. The word feels tired and trite to me. Besides that, I’m a perpetual optimist–aren’t I always full of some measure of hope already?

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But for me, choosing a word for the year, really isn’t my choice. It’s really a matter of accepting a word, rather than choosing it.

The process mostly looks like this: I pray, asking God for a word. Then I wait rather impatiently, daily poking and prodding Him for an answer, (because can’t He SEE that New year’s Eve is rapidly approaching?) The answer comes, and inevitably, settles in my heart like a stone. I question God. I double and triple check for confirmation. All the while the Spirit presses it into me like a brand.

I feel it deep in my bones.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you…(Romans 8:9)

God has marked me with each one of the words He has handed down. Every year since I walked away from resolutions, God has carried on a revolution in my soul.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,..(Romans 12:2)

For the last several weeks, I’ve come face to face with the frailty of this world. None of this is permanent. Everything eventually returns to dust. Darkness presses in on every side.

But hope does not disappoint us. 

Already, I can see I will need this word much more than I care to confess.

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While I do live with a healthy measure of hope most days, I know God has much more to teach me about what hope looks like.  I hear the Spirit asking me questions, peeling back layers I’d smoothed down, planted a flag in and claimed victory over. In the coming weeks, I hope to share a bit of the journey with you.

The new year is off to a difficult start here. The painful reality of life and death is leaving it’s footprint on our hearts.We’re grieving a variety of losses, wrestling with change, making peace with transition.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Take heart.

Have hope.

It’s going to be quite a year. 

 

Do you have a word for the year? What is it?

 

 

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Advent, Christmas

Making Room

December 21, 2015

“Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace. By reflection and prayer, by reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide and where the birth of the Prince of Peace might take place.

Edward Hays, A Pilgrims Almanac

The house is a mess right now. It looks like someone picked it up, shook it like a snow globe and set it back down again. I am spun right dizzy and wondering if the dust will ever settle.

I spent three good hours in the middle of the day trying to dig through to the other side of my crafting corner. The mess in that space, a little nook created with love by my husband, several Christmas eve’s ago, is an apt reflection of my insides. I’ve been stuffing life in for months, pushing against deadlines, appointments, school work, house work, and on and on…I’ve pushed it all to the back, stacked dangerously high and now, it threatens to collapse at any  moment.

It’s exhausting, digging through this mess, I’m tempted to put it off again.

Four bulging trash bags later, and you can walk into the space without tripping. I breathe relief, as I can at last see the floor. I am embarrassed at how bad it has gotten– how I have neglected to care for this special room, gifted to me for my own creative purposes. I cringe at the similarities between the condition of my heart and this messy space.

candle

I have so much and still, I fill the tiny cracks with more of everything else. Too many yes’s. Too many appointments. Too much doing, not enough being. I am overwhelmed by the need to make room. 

I am good at expending my energy, good at ticking things off of the to-do list that never dwindles down, no matter how hard I work at it. I am good at shutting the doors and refusing to allow His occupancy.

I do it a little every day.

Too often do I relegate Jesus to the messy storage corner of my heart, the “barn” out back, the manure-stinking hay, when I ought to honor Him with more than the dirty corner, stuffed there between my wants, dreams and expectations. I stuff and stack and stash away things, ideas, dreams, hopes–they sit collecting dust and rusting, forgotten, unused.

Yet He provides me space and beauty, he gives me what I have asked for. I’m ashamed of how often I push it aside and pile more in front of it, until I don’t even remember what it looks like–or that it’s even there at all.

I spent an hour filling out a handful of Christmas cards by hand. I kept writing the same thing, ” I pray your hope is renewed in Jesus…” I think I was writing it over and over for myself. I need my hope to be renewed. I need peace amid the shaking.

advent candle

When my world threatens to shake me down, I cling to the one who will not be shaken. I am leaning in, over the trash and clutter and begging God to renew my hope in Jesus, who stands at the door of my messy heart asking if there is room–will I make room for Him?

God, yes. Yes.

I’m cleaning out my heart, making room for the king. I’m sifting through the clutter and reclaiming what he created for me out of love, washed in his life’s blood. I’ve a little time left to prepare.

There’s only a little more time. 

How are you making room for the coming Christ this season?

 

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Christmas

God Is A Midwife

December 16, 2015

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Psalm 22:7-9

Birth

God Is A Midwife

We’re  waiting.

Murmuring, shifting, whispering–anxious for this babe to be born.

We feel the swelling grip of the contractions of this world, and we wait some impatient, uncertain hours for Him to crown–to be crowned.

We breath s l o w–concentrated efforts to carry ourselves from one pulsing moment to the next. We fix our eyes on just one point–the invisible promise of His imminent coming, and with that, the promise of our own becoming.

God is a midwife to His laboring world.

He holds us, reminding us to breathe, He props us up and leans in. He steadies us, keeps us from sinking, from dissolving in the pain. We bare down, push too hard and He whispers quiet, but firm, “s l o w–breathe--wait”

We sweat and bleed. We struggle and pant. The whole earth groans with us.

We live weary.

He knows how life comes. He’s spun it around and around in His hands, shaping majestic mountains, filling oceans that teem with life unseen. He calls the flowers up from the soil, the cedars and the oaks raise their arms to Him.

He has never missed one quaking moment, ever-present, and all-seeing.  Every moment leading up to this, and what will come after, what has already been–none of this comes unexpected to Him.

He knows the burn of labor, the crushing pain of the gift that both splits and fills us.

We await His coming.

We wait and in the long stillness of night, in the filth of a stable, ripe with droppings, the King drops in. He fills the whole stinking space with His glory–

Heaven sings over this babe.

Birth2

The world rocks and groans with the afterpains.

Christ, a miracle landing smack in the middle of a mess.

We re-labor over this impossible birth, year after year, each shadowed Advent and the seasons still coming.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

(The Lorica, St. Patrick)

Immanuel–God with us.

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Advent, Food

A Bakers Advent Devotional

December 1, 2015

When my new friend Rachel asked me if I had a special recipe to share for her new Devotional, I immediately thought of My Granny’s Portuguese sweet bread. I don’t know how many Christmases I sat around her dining table savoring the tender, warm sweet bread that we always paired with her Portuguese sausage. These are Christmas “must haves” around my own table now, and my children are learning to love them as I did.

sweet bread2

Every year, I pull out the old stained index card my Grandpa copied the recipe onto for me, some unknown years ago. My oldest keeps reminding me to laminate it before it is destroyed forever–and he’s right, I need to. Every year the recipe card takes on a new stain, and softens a bit more from the handling.

I’ve been baking this recipe since my first year as a married woman, some 16 plus years ago. It is definitely a long-lasting tradition that I pray my own children will adopt in their own time.

What makes this bread special is not just the magnificent aroma of lemon and nutmeg, or the sweetness of the dough, but it is the connection I feel to my own roots when I knead the sticky mix with my bare hands. With every fold, press and turn of the dough, I recall the memories of my childhood, and always, the anticipation of Christmas coming.

Press, fold, turn. Repeat. 

Last year I mentioned this recipe during a radio interview with Jeff, of  The Catholic Foodie, but never did follow up and share it (oops!). This is a delightfully different breakfast bread and when it dries out in a couple of days (if it lasts that long) it makes an amazing French toast.

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In October, at Allume, Rachel Britz approached me and graciously introduced herself to me, and handed me the most perfect homemade cookie I have had the pleasure of enjoying.

Rachel shared with me her ministry of “Kookies” and how God has used Rachel’s art of creative Kookie making, to  open doors, and invite people into conversation. Immediately, I was overjoyed with Rachel, and her heart for both people, and baking. The hospitality of cookies?–yes, please.

I am grateful to Rachel for the opportunity to share the family recipe for my Granny’s Portuguese Sweet Bread in her Bakers Devotional. I often talk about how I meet God most often in my kitchen, and so I LOVE the idea of a Baker’s Devotional.

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You can snag a copy of my Granny’s Portuguese Sweet bread recipe and Rachel’s Baker’s Devotional by subscribing to her blog.  (There are several other tasty recipes included here as well.)

krisCamealy_PortugueseSweetBread copy

If you decide to bake it, would you let me know how it goes? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! This year, I am going to test adapting it to gluten free. Stay tuned…

What family recipe do you make this time of year?

 

 

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Giveaways, Love

A Safe Place To Wrestle

November 21, 2015

All week, I’ve watched lines being drawn in the sand, friends standing toe-to-toe on opposite sides of the arguments. I’ve watch professing Christians, with differing viewpoints, cut each other down with profanity and name calling on Facebook.

With every stabbing word, my heart twists into knots. This is not the way.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another ( 1 John 4:11)

Lines being drawn, more posturing. More pride, more hatred fueling hatred. Division, discouragement, disappointment.

And noise. So much noise.

Where is the love? I wonder.

Giveaway

The other day, I told one of my children that sometimes, (all of the time?) it’s more important to be loving than to be right.

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:5-7)

This week, I’ve read numerous articles regarding the treatment of refugees, and proclamations about how we are to respond to those who stand at our gates and knock–as a nation, as Christians, as fellow humans.

And if I can be honest, I’m weary from the conversations…

 

Join me at GraceTable for a safe place to wrestle and a Giveaway.

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Growth, Guest posting, Motherhood

Thoughts On Struggling Well

November 10, 2015

I don’t know how many times I have thought of sitting down here to write, over the last several weeks. I’ve been trying to get caught up after a whirlwind trip to Allume. I was home for a week and then hopped a plane to Colorado for another super-fast trip.

Life here is full, and it’s “birthday season” at my house, from now until January, which means that about every 3 weeks, someone celebrates a birthday in this house. (Think: lots of baking, balloon blowing-up, thank you notes to write, etc.)

I vacillate between feeling on top of my game, and then just as quickly plunge into the depths of deep overwhelm, where I begin to believe that I can’t do one. more. thing. Do you do that too?

GRACETABLECOOKBOOK IMAGE

Amid the birthday excitement at my house, GraceTable celebrates it’s first year online this mont too.  To celebrate we released a FREE cookbook.(Grab a copy, please!) Meanwhile, I am behind on my grading for my co-op writing classes, and up to my eyeballs in working on my book.

Intermixed with the crazy, goodness abounds, here. This is a full season, a tiring season, and yet there is a richness here not to be overlooked amid the chaos. I am s l o w l y working my way through the bible, reading chronologically, and my eyes continue to be opened to the bigger story within the pages. Hope sings in even the hardest chapters.

I had a conversation with my friend Emily a few weeks ago, about how it’s possible to struggle well. Sometimes, I confess, I think I just struggle. Most of the time, if I am really truthful, I feel like I struggle poorly, ever-tempted to let my frustration and irritation get the better of me.

We talked about fear and parenting, about dreams realized, the impact of others in our lives and how to listen for God.

Maybe there’s something in this conversation for you too?

MomStrugglingWell_KrisCamealy

Click HERE to listen.

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Allume, writing

The One Thing That’s Not On Your Packing Checklist (How To Prepare For A Christian Conference)

October 5, 2015

To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue. Proverbs 16:1

Prepare_For_Conference_KC

Soon I’ll be preparing to attend the Allume conference. I haven’t been able to attend the last 2 years and it’s starting to feel a bit like getting ready for a family reunion. As hard as it will be leave behind my four favorite people and my main squeeze, my excitement is growing when I think about meeting up with some of my favorite people that I almost never get to see. I’ve been thinking a lot about what this trip means for me this year, and while I don’t know what God has in store, I feel confident that I am supposed to be there.

I have two previous Allume experiences under my belt, and several other conferences, so I know better this year about what to bring, and what not to bother with. I know about saving room for swag, and organizing the business cards I will receive. I know about making sure to stay hydrated and wear comfortable shoes. I know better than to plan on catching up on missed sleep.

Allume Conference Smilebooth 0671-L

I know it’s ok to drink 3 cups of coffee and eat cupcakes at midnight with girlfriends, even though I never do that sort of craziness here at home.

My detail oriented Husband has an incredibly organized packing checklist that he always prints off for me before I travel, which saves me from forgetting many a key item. I would likely leave the most obvious necessities at home, if it weren’t for this piece of paper that acts as my brain when the suitcases come out.

There is one thing though, that is not on the packing checklist. 

Lessons learned

I  have a bit of a history with this conference, and though it’s been several years, I still carry the marks that initial trip left on my heart.  That first year I attended, I spent the whole plane ride there asking God to help me to receive whatever the message was He wanted me to take away. The opportunity had been so clearly an act of Divine Intervention, I prayed less out of obedience and more out of sheer awe. God used that first Allume to usher me into a new season.

Now, between scheduling a haircut, planning activities for the kids in my absence, stocking the fridge, making sure everyone here will have clean clothes, and scanning the closet for my own suitable conference attire, I am reminded of the importance of this one key thing that I could easily forget:

Prepare your heart.

Blogging conferences are no longer “new” to me. I attend this year as a well seasoned veteran.  Though there will still be “firsts” for me to experience, I am confident of a few things–what I wear at the conference is mostly irrelevant. God’s got bigger plans than whether of not those knee-high brown boots will work with that skirt, or if that turquios bobble necklace is too 2012. (That said, if you are getting head shots taken, or meeting with agents and Editors, then do bring something other than your yoga pants to wear).

You’re going to meet people you’ve never met at Allume. You’re going to have dinner conversations with people that will break down the dam in your heart and your going to find a community of women who love and encourage you. They may be your roommates. They might be your table mates one night at dinner. Maybe you’ll meet them in the prayer room, as they pray over you. You may not know yet, but God does, and He has already appointed these special moments in your trip. You may be a shoulder for your new friend to lean on, and you might even find you need a shoulder too. Be open to this.

Prepare your heart.

Someone might say something to you that changes the entire course of your blogging, or even more, your life. This may sound dramatic, but it’s true. I continue to experience the ripples from the very first Allume (Relevant) conference I attended 6 years ago. God wastes nothing.

God’s going to show up and remind you that He’s in control, and that you can (and should) stockpile all the brilliant advice you want in that social media session but ultimately, it’s going to come down to one thing–Jesus.

Prepare your heart.

Yes, get your hair done, get a manicure, try on twenty-five outfits–fine, yes, I get it. Do all of those things if you want to. But add this one thing to your list–

Prepare your heart. Spend some time in prayer, and ask God to open your eyes, ears and heart to the people and conversations you will have.

God knows why you are going to Allume this year, even if you’re like me, and aren’t entirely sure what He has for you there.

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground;

for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12

Are you going to Allume? How are you preparing for the conference? Are you attending my Creative Session: Make It Pop: The Art Of Creating Beautiful Images? Let me know in the comments so I can be looking for you!

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