I've lost track of how many times I've started this post. I feel like I need to share something profound from my time at Allume (because it was deep and rejuvenating and big) but I can't narrow it all down to one post. There is just too much good stuff to process.
So I'm going to start here and let you know that (as predicted) my mood remained less group-party and more one-on-one conversations. I skipped the late night jam sessions, but totally thrived when I sat down at a table full of strangers and introduced myself. I met women from all over with blogs about everything from design to essential oils. There were times when I wished I had a group of friends to hop in the photo booth with, but I only felt that way for a moment. Mostly I enjoyed the person-by-person approach, and I feel pretty confident that if I come next year, I'll have a photo booth gang.
For now, I'm in of a season of quiet. It's good.
But even quiet involves pictures. Here are some of my adventures:
On Thursday night I fortified myself with familiarity. My friend and neighbor, Leigh, was not able to get a ticket to Allume, but she came with me to do some research and other business for her blog in Greenville. After my first intense night of mixing and mingling, it was nice to meet back up with her. Even better, I got to introduce her to my lifelong friend, CT.
It's so fun when you get to introduce a new friend to an old one. That was a treat.
I met Elizabeth and Libby at lunch on Friday, and we clicked right away. They were funny and real and they liked my jacket. What more do women need to bond about? I loved them.
I went to Phil Vischer's session on narrative that afternoon and totally bought what he was selling. He talked about modernism and the implications of WWI and WWII on our societal narrative and our consumer culture and I got all kinds of geeky. He made me want to check big books out of the library. I pretty much stalked him after the session, and gathered courage after someone else asked for a photo first.
Instead of saying something intellectually stimulating, I told him that my son was once Lyle the Kindly Viking for Halloween. Cause he created Veggie Tales and I'm smooth like that.
On Friday night, I retreated with Leigh to dinner, and we talked about blogging and lifestyle to infinity. It was awesome.
I felt a smidge of guilt for skipping the group activities until we walked into Coffee Underground and saw all the keynote speakers leaving. (Lesson: Everyone needs down time.)
I was moved to tears on Saturday morning by this man from Rwanda talking about how a shoebox full of Christmas gifts from Operation Christmas Child changed his life. He never knew his father, and his mother died when he was four. His grandmother and uncle raised him, until they were murdered in front of him during the genocide that swept through that country. At the age of seven he was placed in an orphanage. He received his first shoebox that Christmas, and realized, with wonder, that someone "out there" cared. (Tears!) He struggled with anger and bitterness for years, but eventually came to the States as part of a boys choir and long-story-short now lives in Minnesota and works for Samaritan's Purse. (Tissue!)
As part of his job, and to fulfill a dream, he returned to his orphanage in Rwanda to deliver shoeboxes to children there last year. (More tears!) But hold your tissue - Do you see that man in the orange shirt in the photo on the screen behind him? That's the man who killed his uncle. In front of him. When he was seven. When he went back to Rwanda he found him. In prison. So he could hug him and extend forgiveness. Because that is what he learned from Christ.
Pretty much a gusher at that point.
So I guess there's one drop in the profound bucket. The whole weekend was full of stories and lessons and things-to-consider on large and small scales like that. It's gonna take a while to process.
Meanwhile, I finally met Michelle DeRusha in real life. We've been bloggy friends for years. It was nice to solidify my knowledge of her with a hug and face-to-face words. She is a gem.
Then the highlight: Ann Voskamp. She was there all weekend and gave the keynote Thursday night. (Which was pretty much the most powerful thing I've ever heard, so no way I'm going to summarize it here and now.) I've met her before, and she is the real deal. She looks right into your eyes and makes you feel like she is honored to talk to you. Jim said, "Is she the Peyton Manning of your fantasy blogging team?"
Uhm, yes. So I was pretty tickled when the timing worked out that the boys were with me for her new book signing. She greeted them with love and made them feel special.
Totally secured her position on my fantasy blogging team.
So, there you have it. My first blogging conference was a great experience. Mostly quiet, a little "Woot! Woot!" and completely full of evidence of the way God is working. I can't wait to see what comes next.
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