Wednesday, October 29, 2014

allume vignettes // the Lord is there

this was my fourth year attending the allume conference, so i should know by now that God is going to do some work on me there in ways i could never anticipate. i should know by now that the atmosphere at allume is rich fertile grounds for my personal spiritual growth. i packed my bags, kissed my family bye-bye, and headed to the airport with no expectations of the weekend ahead; only grateful for the opportunity to go to greenville, sc representing the seed company, and excited to see friends. 

"We create little moments. Small pauses. Little reminders of family, good times, vacations, faith, the simplicity of a few well placed, beautiful and useful items. Our mementos from life can be put together in a way to inspire beauty and to tell a quick little story–not the entire story, but just a little part… a vignette.-The Nester

the series focuses on creating meaningful vignettes in our homes - the physical sort with lamps and frames and branches in vases. yet, i can't help but think about vignettes in a virtual sort, meaningful moments in time, small pauses, little reminders, mementos put together to inspire beauty...Jehovah-Shammah. the Lord is there.

yall know God is so good. can i share some of the little moments from my allume trip when His presence was undeniable? can i tell you about these unexpected divine encounters and experiences? i want to remember these little vignettes i found at allume- the evidence of Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord was there.  

// the anxiety started before i even got on the plane. i flew out of dfw airport, recently famous for being the place where ebola first landed in america. it felt like such a risk to be at the airport and boarding a tiny plane with all the people and ALL THE GERMS. flu season and all. but i had my hand-sanitizer, my armor of God, and maintained a good 10 feet from every person who sneezed or coughed or looked feverish. in the security check line, the panic started to rise up in my chest as i watched people take off their shoes. i kicked myself for not putting hand-sanitizer on my feet. mercy. a couple filed in line behind me and i could hear their conversation: "did you hear about that nurse with ebola? they aren't even restricting flights! there was a pilot showing symptoms just yesterday. and i heard a passenger had to get off the plane because he had a fever..."  i tried to not hear them, focusing instead on the faint music i could hear in the background. the fear-filled conversation muffled and i soon realized the music wasn't coming from the overhead speakers; it wasn't piped-in airport musak. i looked around and discovered the song i heard off in the distance was coming from the ticketing area behind me, where an older woman was sitting alone, swaying side to side, wearing headphones and singing loud and proud: "How Great is Our God, sing with me How Great is Our God, and all will see How Great, How Great is Our God!" yes. name above all names. worthy of all praise. and my heart will sing, how great is our God. amen. and when i got to gate 31B, my boss was there with a handful of my favorite pens that he brought as a birthday gift for me. it was a vignette. Jehovah-Shammah.   

// i love greenville in october. the seed company team arrived a day before the conference started, so we had plenty of time to stroll around downtown and eat at my favorite restaurant in greenville: Tupelo Honey, not once but twice during the weekend. God knows how much i love good conversation, good friends, and good food. that smile right there? genuine joy. it was a vignette. Jehovah-Shammah.   

// on wednesday night, we worked on the prayer room. the seed company prayer room has been one of my favorite parts of allume since the first year i attended and first learned about the organization. i remember the room was quiet and candle-lit, i remember the ministry was involved with bible translation, and i remember the journal i got to take home after the conference. pages and pages of sweet notes and prayers from new friends and strangers...a precious memento from the seed company at allume. and isn't it funny? now i'm on the seed company team, inviting bloggers to help end bible poverty, helping set up the allume prayer room, personalizing journals and jotting prayers on their pages. we worked and the soundtrack was "You Make Me Brave," and i didn't feel brave but small and insecure. as i went down the list of allume attendees, personalizing bookmarks, i came across several familiar names. it was comforting and peace. i knew i would be seeing those friendly faces and meeting them with warm hugs soon. vignette. Jehovah-Shammah.    

// our table, where attendees came to learn about bible translation, was situated at the end of a hallway where we could see all the other sponsor tables down the hall. when i walked to our table, i passed another table topped with propped-up books, some of which i've read, others on my to-read list. one book caught my eye. i did a classic double-take and saw MY FRIEND'S DONKEY on the cover! (nevermind that i can recognize my friend's donkey) and HER NAME listed as the AUTHOR! oh my goodness it's RACHEL ANNE'S BOOK! i blinked back tears- so thrilled to see rachel anne's God-sized dream tangible right there on the table. vignette. across the hall, i saw an unfamiliar brand, a new sponsor i hadn't heard of, so i looked closer. shazzy fitness. hmmm... shape what the Father gave ya! join the groovement! Christian hip-hop dance workout! wait - hold up - WHAT?! oh, Lord, you know me so well. i met kristy and apollo, truly gifted dancers who love the Lord. we found common ground and we danced on it early saturday morning, praising God for His goodness. Jehovah-Shammah.

// in greenville, i had a dirty chai and deep laughs with deep friends at an underground coffee shop. i danced and ugly cried with crystal. i shared decadent chocolate cake with my fabulous roommate laura. i prayed with britta. my friend kristin gave me a gorgeous necklace and tasty cupcake for my birthday. i hugged wynter and karina and kristen and brooke and stacey and christin and erika. and then there was vern. something you may not know about me: vern is a nickname my sister lovingly gave me when i was about 8 years old. it doesn't make sense, but it's special and i love it. in my whole entire life i've never met another vern. until i got to allume last weekend and met this beautiful and sassy chick who was matching me in her cargo jacket. she introduced herself as veronica from san antonio. so we have similar tastes in fashion, we're both texans, and then she said "call me vern." i about fell over. what are the chances?! the next day we were both wearing black tops and funky pants- her camo, me leopard. Lord, thank you for sending me to allume to be with my sweet sisters in Christ. vignettes. Jehovah-Shammah. 

// my flight home was before sunrise. i sat next to kristen howerton nbd. heather was in the seat behind me keeping me company with delirium-driven giggles and conversation. i joked that i hoped to remember where my car was parked at the airport. i got my suitcase off of the the baggage claim and stepped outside into the 90-degree sunshine. i headed toward the parking garage, thankful to have recalled B7 level B from way down in my memory bank. i maybe prided myself a little bit for remembering this since i didn't write it down like i should have. but the closer i got to garage section B7, i started to have an awful feeling. there were chain-linked fences and bright orange barricades blocking off that section of the garage. that wasn't there 5 days ago. suddenly nothing seemed familiar and i was second-guessing my memory of B7 level B. i walked as far as i could go before the restricted area. that part of the garage was under renovation and from my view, looked vacant. my car wasn't in there. so i walked into the next section of the garage, thinking maybe i parked in B17 or B14 or some other version of B7. i walked all the way to the other end of the garage, to section B31. if you're tracking with me, that's 24 sections of dark dingy hot humid parking garage. with a 50-pound suitcase and a backpack loaded with books on 4 hours of sleep. fun times. i called my husband and tried not to panic. finally i succumbed to the fact that i forgot where i parked and the only thing to do at that point was to ask the airport parking garage assistant for help. did you know there's a service for this sort of thing? apparently people forget where they parked at the airport all the time. and that's how i met this kind soul. of course her name is charlotte (my daughter's best friend's name) and she told me that she got into the job of helping people find their vehicles after one time she lost her own vehicle in the airport parking lot. she helped me retrace my steps and helped me feel less like a numskull. she drove me back to the garage entrance, the one i remembered going into 5 days ago with the ebola fears rising up in my chest, and when we reached the fences and barricades of the restricted section, she called for a special access code so we could drive into that part of the garage that was being renovated. the renovations started on wednesday, said charlotte. when did you park here? wednesday morning. the garage looked vacant, abandoned, and i was starting to fear my car had been stolen. but she pulled her car around to section B7 level B and there was my car! all alone in this dark dingy garage! any cars still here by friday will be towed, charlotte told me. i nearly cried for the grace, relief, exhaustion, and joy that i would be home soon with my family. i gathered my bags, thanked charlotte and prayed for her, that God would bless her abundantly. she thanked me and told me it was her birthday. we smiled and hugged and took a picture together to commemorate the occasion. to mark the vignette. Jehovah-Shammah.   

looking back, they were everywhere. in hallways and sidewalks and elevators and dance floors and photo booths and minivans... 

vingettes reminding me the Lord is there. i'm so thankful. 

"blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places 
where other people see nothing" 
-camille pissarro

Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.
{ Hosea 6:3 }

here are the allume 2014 keynotes 
if you only have time to listen to one: sophie hudson spoke straight to my heart. like seriously.