It's been y e a r s since I've attended a blog conference - that whole Germany-for-a-year thing and Life-does-its-thing thing - and I've never attended a Christian blog conference. Never wanted to. I'm an admitted prideful jerk about Christian sub-culture, so when I sniff anything that smells like that, I hold my breath til I turn blue and pass out.
Until I get a holy kick in the tail otherwise, like this year when I felt like I was "supposed" to go to Allume. Now, I've never been one to drop words like "the Lord told me" but this was one of those times I sensed a Divine prompting. The conference was sold out. The conference (and surrounding) hotels were sold out.
And yet a ticket and a room made themselves available.
I didn't force my way in, I didn't barrel through (my past response to going after what I wanted), but as doors opened, I took a step.
Funny how s l o w and d i m I am sometimes; though I believed attending Allume was prompted by God, I had no idea I'd actually see him there. Three days of --
- INCREDIBLE music artists leading us into meaningful worship. My favorites because their contenance was blazing: Anthony Evans, Jr. and Tyrus Morgan. Check 'em out.)
- INCREDIBLE speakers and workshop leaders. Every session I attended was inspirational, challenging and stirred something good within me. A few friends spoke to me directly:
- Lisa Whittle. Lisa and I bonded over Survivor on Twitter; go figure. But for whatever reason she and I had opportunity to spend real time together, and I'm convinced though you might not yet know her, you need to. She was kind enough to post her workshop notes, so go. Read. Learn. Grow. You're going to miss her personal, powerful delivery, but the content will stand. Plus, she's good people.
- Bianca Juarez Olthoff. Can I confess something as ugly as the day is long? Bianca was one of the original incourage writers alongside me, and subconsciously I thought she was too pretty and full of herself to get to know. I'M AN IDIOT! She simply understood who she was in Christ and she can't help her parents' genes :). Not looking beneath the surface has robbed me of getting to know a dynamic, substantive, spirit-filled woman and I'm ashamed of MY superficiality. Years later, lesson learned. I would loved to have connected with Bianca face-to-face, but seat to stage, I'm smitten (I want to be her BFF). I wish I could MAKE you watch her keynote--I saw a little of Bianca but mostly wanted to know Jesus better after listening. Watch her keynote. Twice.
- Laura Parker. Turns out, Laura was one of my sister-in-law's college roommates--j'adore It's a small world afterall connections! I've followed Laura on the internets for years, and the path of obedience she and husband have taken is phenomenal. The Exodus Road is a ministry they've founded to rescue children from child trafficking. Their stories they've uncovered are heartbreaking but ultimately redemptive, and they understand the power of small numbers. My interpretaion of one remark by Laura during her workshop session is one of my greatest conference takeaways: Love well the person right in front of me. She modeled this in our conversations, and I realize I have room for improvement in this area.
- Ann Voskamp. Ann...reluctant leader but so clearly gifted by God, it's impossible not to see Jesus when you're with her. To witness her pursuit of intimacy with the Almighty leads the way for others to follow him. Not her. Though Ann has been a real-life friend for a few years (born of incourage), this is the first time I've heard her speak in person. I tried to take a few notes on my phone, but I'm all thumbs and didn't do a great job. Here are a few gems I WAS able to record from Ann's Allume keynote, Stars (her keynote = must-watch)--
- "Your hunger to be known is a good God-given appetite for more of God."
- "The greatest tragedy is being wildly known by people and not known by God."
- "Until you are intimately known you are ultimately nomadic."
- "Our God is infinite. Do not ever be seduced by the myth of scarcity."
- "Hold up Christ through your gratefulness; hold out his word as greatness."
- "This is Christian success: that your name is signed on the palm of His hands."
- INCREDIBLE Allume Leadership Team. All flat reeked of Jesus, and while everyone did their jobs well (I could tell), a few words about the most visible.
I told Logan this wasn't a blogging conference; it was a spiritual retreat for bloggers.
I'm still processing the weekend, not even touching on the friendships begun, rekindled and deepened, or how so many amazing God Things occurred. Maybe some future posts? We'll see.
For now the truth of Philippians 1:6 is burning in my heart, that this mighty God who began a work in me...is faithfully at work to complete it.
As a sometimes faithless wanderer, I'm acutely aware that is no small thing.