On What Allume Was This Year For Me

Last year, I went to a conference called Allume for the first time.  It’s a weekend full of over 400 women who love God and also happen to blog.  I was scared to death.  I knew some women from the wild and wooly Internet, but I’d never met anyone in person.  And I was going to share a room with two of these random bloggers (women whom my husband may or may not have wondered aloud might kill me).

This year was different.  This year not only did I know several people from in real life, but a number of them had actually stayed at my home in April for the God-Sized Dream planning retreat.

This year also felt different because last year at this time God was about to kick off one of the craziest and most wonderful (but also busiest) years of my life, while this year God has been calling me to step back.  So I had no agenda other than to hang out with some girlfriends.

But I picked up some things over the weekend, some of which I’ll blog more about later because I’m only just now touching the surface of what I might do with these ideas:

1.  From our very first keynote Thursday night, Logan Wolfram set the tone that we are called to love neighbors and literally open the doors to our homes to welcome people.  I met two women who inspired me to buy a picnic table for our front yard and start monthly entertaining people who live on my street because up to this point I’ve been a pretty invisible neighbor and that’s just no way to live.

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2.  From the incredibly hospitable Shauna Niequist, we were charged to have people leave feeling better about themselves than they do about you.

3.  I received several confirmations that I am being called to a season of quiet, including from The Nester who reminded us that rest is not a reward for finishing.

4. The vivacious and hysterical Annie Downs had me captivated.  Despite my hesitation of how I can help the generation, Annie was adamant, The women behind you deserve you now!

5.  The author of the beautiful new book, Breathing Room, Leeana Tankersley, connected to all of us who hover on the brink of crashing during hard times.  She warns, If we’re not offering ourselves hospitality, then it’s difficult to authentically offer it to others. 

Most of all, Allume was about my girlfriends.  The people I love.  The people who get this crazy blogging thing and develop deep relationships over the vast ocean of the Internet.  My friend Delonna calls our pack her tribe, and I couldn’t put it any better.  This weekend was about uninterrupted time with these amazing women.

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Yes Means Less – The Best Yes Book Study

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I introduced you to the first little snippet of The Best Yes when I was having a hard time deciding between a yes or no response this summer.

As I’ve decided to pull back from the swirling requests for commitments and dug even further into The Best Yes, it struck me that this would be a perfect book for us to study for leadership Tuesdays for the remainder of the year.  Sometimes it’s hard to see how saying no positions you to become a more effective leader, but strategic nos position you to have room for spectacular opportunity yeses.

We have TEN Tuesdays left between today and the end of 2014.  What if, instead of waiting until January 1st, we outlined a plan now to tackle 2015?  What if we took the next ten Tuesdays to connect with one another and decide what we have room for in our life, what needs eliminating, and how to prioritize what we will say yes to in 2015?

I have always struggled with no.  No, to me, felt like I was missing out on a potential opportunity or adventure.  “No, I can’t attend your party,” meant I would miss out on the fun of being with friends even if it took me away from something more important.  “No, I can’t lead that committee,” meant that I might forego an experience that would be valuable later on.  I failed to realize that saying yes to an invitation or adventure did mean I was saying no to something else – my family, my job, my health, my priorities.

Well Lysa TerKeurst, who wrote The Best Yes, understands:

I struggle with decisions too.  I don’t want to miss out on opportunities, mess up relationships by disappointing people, or misstep out of God’s will.  I struggle with keeping some sense of balance in my life. I struggle with worrying about what others think of my decisions. I struggle with feeling like I can’t quite figure out how other women seem to do it all…  Chapter 1

I invite you to walk with me for the remaining Tuesdays in 2014 as we read and discuss two chapters each week.  Chapter 1 is just a five page introduction, so next Tuesday we’ll cover Chapters 2 – 3, and the following week 4-5, and so forth.  I’d love for you to comment each Tuesday on what you’re learning so we can share how we are learning to “make wise decisions in the midst of endless demands.”

And today I’m giving away a copy of The Best Yes!  If you don’t have a copy, just leave a comment on the blog and one reader will be picked (with Amazon Prime – you’ll have it in time to get ready for next Tuesday!).

I quoted this when I read the first chapter this summer, but it rings so true I don’t want you to miss it:  “In this great day when most women wave banners of authenticity about our pasts, we crouch back from honesty about our presents.  We’ll tell you about our broken places of yesterday but don’t dare admit the limitations of our today.  All the while the acid of overactivity eats holes in our souls.”

Let’s be brave enough to admit the limitations of our today so that we don’t mistake counterfeit yeses for The Best Yes. {===>Click to Tweet}

When You Run Away Only To Miss Him

He loves to talk on the telephone.  Sort of endlessly he’ll talk.  So you slip out of the conference to say hello to him, all of them, before bedtime.

You know it’s hard.  Those rushed calls with background noises on either end of the line that prevents you from catching anything but snatches of sentences and garbled words.  You “uh-huh” and “Ohhhh” as best you can until the call passes the ten minute mark.  Then you start to get a little impatient and stop replying with the same enthusiasm of a momma missing her babes and move into the tones of a rushed businessperson.

So by the time the kids are off and your husband finally has the line, you barely remember to ask him about that important meeting he had that morning and how he managed to hike to the farm with three preschoolers in varying stages of having colds.

You wrap up the conversation to hurry back inside only to sit in a room full of mostly strangers and your heart cracks a little that you didn’t spend longer on the telephone with the four people in the world who matter more to you than anyone else.  Nearly instantaneously you miss those jumbled, beautiful, competing voices.  Miss them hard.

It’s like rushed is your default now.  Life is caught in snatches with background noises threatening to drown it out.  Everywhere you go you catch yourself running in one direction only to miss the direction you came from.

Rushed has to stop being default.

And you have to stop running to anything taking you away from your true love.

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This weekend I went to a unique conference that is very precious to me because some of my dearest friends in all of the world are there.  I’ll write about some insight I picked up along the way.  But more than anything, what I received at this conference was a further confirmation that I’m needing to take some time for quiet.  My call to step away, from all the things that so easily entangle me, for a season.  A break from the leading and the speaking and any external commitments that don’t involve my four people or my job.  Because in all the busyness of this year, I didn’t just lose an urgency to serve my family with a passion, but I also lost the urgency of seeking God so regularly as to be certain of what He would have me do in any given day.

So I called them back.  And the next night I sat in the quiet of my room away from all the frenzy and talked as long as they wanted.  And I’m calling God back for a longer conversation too.

That’s all you have to do.  You call back.  You make time.  You stop rushing.

 

** As a part of my endeavor to rush less, say  no, and set fresh boundaries, I’ve decided to spend the remaining leadership Tuesdays this year doing a study of The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.  You’ll have a chance this week to win a copy if you’d like to join and gain some insight on finding room for your best yes.

Fashion Fridays: What To Do When In Transition Sizes

So my amazing college sorority sister and I were going back and forth on Facebook and I said, “I need some fresh ideas for Fashion Fridays!”  So she sent me some great ideas!

Drumroll please…she has lost FORTY FIVE pounds!  Y’all, how inspiring is that?  But she is working on the rest of her goal, about 20 pounds, so she doesn’t want to invest in an all new wardrobe just yet.  As you can imagine, her current wardrobe is not fitting.  Hence today’s Fashion Friday: What To Do When In Transition Sizes

You do have to buy a few pieces.  Since you know you won’t camp out at that size, you can find lower cost items, second hand retail, as well as purchase a few key pieces to get you through the remaining weight loss process.

I’ve gone through this myself before when I lost a fair amount of weight in 2011, and I had a transition size between my original size and my ultimate weight loss size (which I’m working to get back into now!).  So what’s a girl to do to look snappy but still keep from throwing money away?  Here are a few tips:

1.      Consider tailoring a handful of items.  My friend bought some clothes when she lost 30 pounds, and now those are too big.  However, those are likely just one size up from the clothes she needs now and something like a skirt or a dress may be easily tailored by pulling in an inseam to take it down one size.

Get recommendations for a local, reasonable, tailor.  You need a good tailor even after arriving at your final size just in case a must-have item you purchased needs a nip or tuck.  Ten dollars to shrink a waistband is far more reasonable than $80 for a new pair of pants.

2.     Buy a couple of quality basic pieces that can be the foundation for your work wardrobe.  She works in a fairly conservative environment, so buying two pair of pants or skirts in a black or camel that fit beautifully now (and might be tailored in 10 more pounds) will help you feel better about how you look.  Consider a simple shift dress that you can change up with a cardigan, blazer, or scarf.

This simple A-line dress can work across sizes and is on sale for $75 at Macy’s:

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3.     Buy a couple of fun trendy pieces.  Since this isn’t your permanent size you can go nuts with trends, but buy them at low cost places.  I recommend second hand like on ThredUp, a great online second hand store where you can return what doesn’t work, or consider Target, Kohl’s, Marshall’s, or even AnnTaylor Loft with coupons (always search on line for coupons before buying).

This gorgeous snow leopard jacket was 50% of at Ann Taylor Loft yesterday which moved it from the too pricey to the just right category:

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4.  Accessorize!  The greatest way to make your handful of items work for this interim period without looking repetitive is to mix up your accessories.  Bold scarfs or fun necklaces or interesting wedges.  You can invest in some quality pieces too because these will fit regardless of your size.

If you want to splurge, this gorgeous multi-blue strand necklace via Stella & Dot would go with any ensemble:

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Or for less than $10 (WHAT?!?!?) you can add this lovely fall cranberry scarf to an otherwise simple outfit:

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And keep up the good work.  Hang in there – you are almost there.  Keep to the basics until then and just mix it up with a few additions that fit your size now!

Wordless Wednesdays

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