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I first heard about Allume last fall.
I had recently started working on transferring my blog from Yola to WordPress, a move that was bringing me a lot of traffic. I started getting more serious about blogging regularly, getting established on social media networks like Twitter and Facebook, and defining my purpose and mission statement.
It was through spending time trying to figure out Twitter that I started seeing this #allume thing popping up everywhere. I checked out the website and thought, “Huh, neat!”
I was slightly jealous when I saw all these awesome people getting to go to a blogging conference. But as I was fairly new to that circle of the blogosphere, and as I was getting to go to a conference for military wives the week AFTER Allume, I was able to just be excited for them and pick up little bits of the conference by seeing all the #allume Twitter love.
That next week at the PWOC International Conference, my life was radically changed. I would only come to realize the extent of those changes long after I returned from PWOCI, but even in the first days back I knew that what had happened there was special and God-ordained.
Even though Allume and PWOC are totally separate organizations, the fact that both conferences happened within a week of each other was no accident. Knowing that it would be my first and last time to ever have the opportunity to attend PWOCI (as my husband was exiting the military and PWOCI shortly after disbanded their international level leadership), I determined that I would try to attend Allume.
A conference is such an awesome experience and I wanted to have it happen all over again.
That, in a nutshell, was my main reason for buying a ticket to Allume.
(I will be coming back to that thought in this post and a future post, so just remember it.)
In my former conference-planning “neurosis” days, I downloaded a 6-page PDF file from Eliza Pulliam called “Boost My Conference Checklist.” (Conference-planning neurosis aside, I highly recommend it!) It’s a document that you can fill in and personalize: with space for your hotel and flight information, sessions information, what you will wear each day, goals, schedule, contacts, elevator speech, packing list, post-conference goals and follow-up.
I was like “WOW, she’s thought of everything I hadn’t even begun to thought of!”
I printed it off and started filling it out like a neurotic crazy person. (PS. That whole “conference neurosis” is a term I stole shamelessly from Logan, one of our leaders and encouragers in the Allume Newbies Facebook Group.)
Back to the document.
I got really stuck when I hit the section subtitled “Set Conference Goals.”
Beyond stuck. I got panicky. Because it hit me:
WHY THE HECK AM I EVEN GOING TO THIS CONFERENCE?!?!
And I didn’t really have a good answer, other than the “a-conference-is-such-an-awesome-experience-and-I-want-to-have-it-happen-all-over-again” answer.
(Which I realized in that moment was pretty lame.)
I took a long time to think. To pray. To really seek God about it. Because the last thing I want to do is do something without good reason and intention, for lame reasons or just because everyone else is doing it.
I also took time to really evaluate my blogging so far. What’s happened in almost-five years of blogging? What vision do I have for the future of this blog. What are my spiritual goals personally and how does my blog fit into that? And what goals do I have for Allume in relation to all that?
So, finally, I was able to fill in that section over the course of a few weeks, in at least two different colors of ink. These goals are written in scribbles and snippets and not ornately worded, but I wanted to share them anyway (because I said I would).
(The italicized subheadings are as they appear in the conference checklist and are not my wording.)
“Personally – I would like to walk away with this experience…”
- Connection – with God, with other women
- Encourage at least one person
- Mentoring – to be mentored and possibly to be a mentor
- Confirmation from God as to if, when, and about what I should write a book or ebook
“Professionally – I would like to learn how to… or I would like to connect with…”
- Balance kids and blogging
- Be more intentional about mothering and more focused while blogging
- Compile blog posts more quickly
- Get some advice on my writing style
- Writing a book – possible ideas/guidance/connections
- Get information about the writing/authoring/publishing process
“Physically – I would like to rest…or I would like to make time to work out…”
- Have fun
- Girl time
- Take care of myself and don’t cheat on my dietary restrictions
“Spiritually – I would like to grow in this way…”
- (This part is still blank)
Now, if you are reading this and you are attending Allume and you are thinking, “Wow, I have no idea about goals and plans and all that…um….” and you are starting to panic because you are realizing you just got infected with yet another strain of contagious conference neurosis, please take a deep breath for me.
(Yes, right now…breathe in, breathe out.)
This is simply the path that **I** have walked personally and with God. You don’t have to have a list like this (either written out or even in your head). This is what I chose to do. Go read Logan’s post again. In fact, read it like 50 times. Because she says it so much better than I can. God knows why you are going to Allume even if you don’t have a nice tidy list of reasons and goals for Him to work in your life while you are there.
I was originally going to also include a lengthly list or explanation of what dreams I have for the conference and my Allume experience. But, I’ve pretty much given all of that up and daily focus on leaving those dreams in God’s hands. That’s where they belong anyway.
What He can do can transcend any of my tidy list of intentional goals or even my wildest, most fantastical dreams. The catch is in remembering that, believing that.
Shortly after I wrote my post about ripping up my list of people to meet at Allume, I heard this song on the radio. And it really captured a lot of the emotions I feel about the upcoming conference, God, and my constant struggle to leave things in His hands. It has become my “Allume song” in a way.
You brought me this far
So why would I question You now
You have provided
So why would I start to doubt
I’ve never been stranded, abandoned
Or left here to fight alone
So I’m giving You control
I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord, I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up
Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me
Take my life and let it be all for You
It’s good to plan. And it’s been good for me to plan. I’m a planner. That’s part of my personality that I will never be able to shed. So I am glad for the lists, the binder, the checklists, and all of the planning that I have put into this conference. I think that some of that was necessary (for me) to be able to get to the point where I am now, where I can set it all aside and simply lift my hands to Him and ask Him to fill them.
There’s a time to plan intentionally and a time to surrender those plans to God willingly.