Happy Go Stuckey


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Allume Moments (2014)

Allume. It’s a cross between a weekend retreat for your soul, blogging summer camp, and a crazy fun dinner party with 400 of your closest friends– all rolled into one. If there were an Allume Fan Club I would vote myself it’s #1 cheerleader. I simply LOVE Allume. Last year, my expectations were completely blown away and I came straight home at the end of October and immediately marked off 2014 on my calendar.

Last year was amazing, but this year I came with stuff. I was over the moon excited but more than anything I was expectant. I needed clarity. The direction I was asking God for– I needed my next steps illumined, or even just to be told that my next small step of obedience was to remain exactly where I was. I was in need of hearing from Him in the moments away from the everyday.

And somewhere between hugging familiar necks at registration and that very first keynote, the clarity began. It continued through every single message, breakout session and quiet moment alone– I was, and continue to be– overwhelmed.

Yes, this is the most beautiful conference I’ve ever been to. And it has spoiled and ruined me for all other conferences. But the biggest, most delightful part– is the evidence of God Himself in every detail. This year I loved being with “my writing people” but more than anything I LOVED being ministered to by my God who heard my questions, and lovingly, patiently guided me a few more steps in His direction for me.

The biggest, most wildly wonderful thing about Allume is that it is covered in heaps of prayer, and that prayer shows. Sure, we were loved on, welcomed and spoiled– but we were ushered to the foot of the cross to meet with God and remember just WHY we do all this writing anyway. And now I am completely humbled and full to bursting and ready to get back to it. Thank you, Allume team. You blessed us in such big ways.

Now– for a few photos and my favorite moments–

IMG_1868Every element of Allume pointed to Hospitality. Not a Pinterest-perfect view of Entertaining; but real, honest swing open your doors wide hospitality.

IMG_1834Ruth Simons of GraceLaced designed the artwork for the programs & name badges. She also created that print on the right especially for Allume! It, and all her other gorgeous prints are available here in her shop. (The photo does not do it justice!)

IMG_1870Hearing Shauna Niequist speak on True Hospitality was a definite highlight of Allume. Her most recent book, Bread and Wine has brought me so much direction and joy in the area of Life and the Table.

IMG_1836Another highlight– finally being able to meet this beauty, Kristen Steele! And yes, if you’re wondering, her hair looked that good the entire weekend. :)  I met Kristen through the B&H Publishing Blogger Program and meeting her gave me the added gift of finding her sweet sister Caroline who lives right here in Georgia with me!

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Books, Books and more books! Between the sponsors, our swag bag and some great conference deals, I am SET for reading material for well, all of 2015.

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Tea and Cookies with Sophie Hudson was memorable for sure. She encouraged us in her honest and sweet way and I wrote in big letters across my notes one of the last things she said to us. “Trust God with your Dream, with your Ministry. Trust Him and Go get after it!”  

And last but certainly not least, being able to spend some quality time with my good friend and Allume roomie, Jacqueline. She is a GIFT and a hilarious riot all rolled into one. So glad you allowed me to talk you into Allume, Jacqueline! It would not have been the same without you.

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Well, those aren’t all my favorite moments– but I don’t have any more photos. At one point early on in the weekend, my husband texted me to ask if my instagram was down because I wasn’t doing my usual over-gramming of every little detail! I only took 8 or 9 photos the entire weekend, but I soaked it all in and sometimes that is so very necessary.

One more thing, a quote from Logan Wolfram on Radical Hospitality–

“As Bloggers, we are often a people of windows– but as Believers, we are called to be a people of doors– a people of living invitation.”

Yes! May our homes and our blogs be open, welcoming places where those visiting are loved deeply!

Linking up with other attendees over here, feel free to hop over and read! 


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Living Free. (#Write31Days)

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In 4th grade, I came home breathless and excited, clutching a blank permission slip and desperately hoping my parents would go for the tennis lessons I wanted. It was the very first time I remember wanting to do something. My mom was hoping I would take piano, like my best friend Heidi, but she agreed to talk it over with my dad. I sat across from both of them feeling nervous and a little giddy that they might just say yes.

Finally my dad said, “Ok– but you can’t quit. Once you start, you have to finish out the year.”

I nodded vigorously and started to picture myself as the next Jennifer Capriati. (Minus the hours of community service she “earned.”)

My mom tried gently one more time, “Are you sure you don’t want piano lessons? Because we really can’t do both..” 

I shook my head no and a smile crept across my hopeful face.

“Okay.” Dad said. “You can do it.” And that was that, I jumped up, gave quick hugs, and excited “thank you’s” and ran off to locate my favorite scrunci and slouchy socks just in time for practice the next day.

****

If you’re wondering why I’ve never mentioned my tennis career, there is a very good explanation. It was terribly short lived. About 6 months later, the school had to plow up the tennis courts to make room for more parking and they never were re-built. So that was that.

So here I am, a non-tennis playing Minister’s wife– who consequently doesn’t know how to play the piano, either. HA!

At one point I asked my mom why she let me take tennis lessons on my own little whim, and I’ve not forgotten what she said, “Because we really didn’t know who you would become– and we wanted you to be free to decide. 

Free. That freedom means a lot more to me now that I’m 32 and a mother myself.

At the time, I was the 5th in a long line of sport-playing, tuition-check needing kiddos– and somehow they sacrificed yet again to allow me the FREEDOM to begin to figure it all out with a Jr. Tennis racket and a pair of shiny white keds.

And by the time those tennis courts were nothing but a parking lot– I had gotten it well out of my system, and they didn’t care one bit.

They let me stretch my wings a little, and it taught me a lot about freedom — and being who you are.

****

Fast Forward to a couple of years ago when our little family blog was the exact spot where I wanted to spend more time. I wrote as often as I could, and it made my heart beat fast to edit, edit, edit and then finally press– publish. The more I wrote, the more I loved writing.

And when I sat down with Lance and told him how I longed to be… an actual writer– he said this, “Go for it. I think you should.” 

And I felt it all over again, that exhilarating breath of air that comes when the people we love the most create the space for us to thrive. The space for us to continue growing, all throughout adulthood to change and become more of who God made us to be.

He is continually doing a new work in us, giving us fresh life and fresh opportunities to grow and serve Him better. That fresh bit of life brings great Freedom as the seasons of our lives change bit by bit.

I hope that our children grow up with the same space around them that I did. The same space I live in today– the space to become– whatever God has created them to be. 

So naturally, when Dayspring asked a few of us what “word” would be special to us as a family, I chose Free. Namely, Free Indeed.

FreeIndeed Letterpress blocks

Because, if the Son has set us Free–(and He has!) than we are Free indeed. Free from the chains of our sin and self– and Free to grow in Him and in this life He has blessed us with.

The gorgeous letterpress blocks can be completely customized to whatever word, phrase or verse is special to you and your family. The fun part is, you can go to their website and play around with the tool to see exactly what your blocks would look like!

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“The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8: 35, 36

 

**Dayspring is sending me a $25.00 credit in exchange for my honest and heart-felt opinion of these letterpress blocks. I actually won my words, Free Indeed during a Twitter party for #Allume, and the blocks are just as beautiful in person as they are on the site!!


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Chicken & Rice and Post-Partum Depression (#Write31Days)

Day 26/31

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I sat on my couch in my trusty yoga pants and held the five-day old answer to so many prayers, She was perfect and pink and I loved her so. That’s when I felt the cold fingers of post-partum depression grip my happy fairytale.

A spindly weed in my garden of happy and it seemed to have very deep roots.

Every afternoon the clouds came and brought with them the unexplained tears. I explained away my feelings as normal and hormonal. My limited knowledge of Post-partum depression involved angry mothers doing unspeakable things in their pain. I was not that sad. I was happy to be a Mom. But the sinking softball in my stomach remained.

I had been told everything from the best diaper cream hands-down, to the proper football hold, but no one told me this could happen. No one told me I could have a perfect daughter and a husband I loved and all my dreams coming true.. and feel grief. Unexplained grief, sure— grief with no path, but grief all the same, with its hollow stomached, heavy-chest inducing nausea.

I never heard a single word about how good, Jesus-loving Mamas can be miserable for no good reason, except that they just are for a time.

So naturally I felt like I must have failed somewhere along the way. And I blamed my lack of faith and gratefulness. Because unfortunately, that’s what we do sometimes. Instead of dealing with our pain and maybe getting help, we hang it all up on our guilt and suffer in silence. We assume we are alone, and keep ourselves that way. 

Then a knock came at the door. Lance covered the steps of that little apartment in a second and opened the door to reveal my other best friend—

For a moment I considered taking my pity wagon upstairs. Sparing us both, from all my crazy.

But there she stood, all true compassion and brightly bearing Chicken & Rice. She quickly set down her trademark items of perfect Iced Tea and chocolate chip cookies, and I cried again. Though these tears came from that place which holds our deepest happiness— that of being deeply known.

We shared our plates cross-legged on the comfy couch. She looked straight in my weepy brown eyes and said “You are not crazy.”  We sat there in the quiet and marveled at the soft snoring noises coming from the Moses basket.

With every bite, life felt a little more normal. A little more survivable. More bright. And every deep breath brought me closer to being able to laugh.

And — 5 years later, I simply cannot eat chicken and rice without remembering that night.
She showed up at my lowest, my poorest of spirit— and offered me a plate of warm comfort and acceptance with a side of hope— And I took a small step towards healing and wholeness. Though my friend had never walked down that particular road, she left her own path to come walk alongside me for awhile, and it made all the difference.

Yes, food is one of our most basic needs, but the need to feed our soul with the table comfort of those we love—- is every bit as vital for life and life abundant.

Because rarely, if ever— is it just food. Especially when it is served with a long warm hug and a glass of “You’re going to be ok.”


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Enjoy (#Write31Days)

Day 25/31

So…. I am not here today.

Because I am completely enjoying being  HERE!!!!! 

Ya’ll. Ever since last year, I’ve been looking forward to Allume and I’m SO very grateful to be able to attend again. Thankful that my sweet guy is so supportive and doesn’t mind me leaving for a few days. Thankful for my dear mother in law who steps in to help out. Thankful that things just worked out again this year.

If you are a blogger or writer and you have ever wondered what it would be like to go, please look into it for next year.

It’s kind of a cross between the best summer camp ever and a weekend full of super-fun dinner parties with people you love. I’m gushing. I know. But if you have ever been, then you know I’m not exaggerating.

So– I promise I’ll be back soon with a fun Allume recap post and tons of photos! In the mean time, if you want to keep up with the hashtag through Instagram and Twitter, join us at #Allume. (Disclaimer, you may also see lots of photos of cigars, people smoking cigars, people making duck faces with cigars– because evidently, Allume which means light– is used for a plethora of cigar smoking and fancy lighter photos… I’m sure they all just love all the photos of all these deliriously happy bloggers in cute outfits smiling at the camera and drinking coffee. )

Thank you for sticking with me this month, October is almost over I promise. <3

A fun photo from the smile booth  last year– IMG_2350


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Dear Kate- (#Write31Days)

24/31

**Note- normally today would be a fun Five Minute Friday post– but since my laptop-less self is at Allume right now, and my chances of posting while there- are next to nothing–I decided to use my space to thank Kate Motaung– our fearless leader of Five Minute Fridays– so Kate, this one is for you!**

Dear Kate,

Several months ago Lisa Jo Baker lovingly handed you the baton for Five Minute Fridays, and you took it willingly.

You took us all, willingly into your heart and welcomed us into your bright little space on the internet, every week at the same time.

We come bearing our varied interpretations of the week’s prompt and you create a space for us all to write our hearts out and then encourage us all to visit one another and share the comment love.

What I love about this space is that you are not merely moderating it, but you join us in it– sharing the space with us, visiting our blogs, reading our posts and cheering us on. This community has meant the world to this writer this past year. The weeks that I feel I have nothing to say, nothing to write– those weeks I spend a few minutes with our super-fun #FMFparty crew and usually the words start flowing again.

So thank you for being here in this space and being our cheerleader and fellow writer-friend.

We are so grateful for you and your hospitality in carrying this on.

2-31DAYSMEDIUM

 


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Look Out! (#Write31Days)

23/31

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I normally steer clear of any soapbox-y natured posts, but today I’m stepping up on the soapbox of looking out for yourself.

As wives, mothers, daughters, friends and just women in general– we often take care of everyone else before we consider ourselves. Though we should be more concerned with others and less concerned with self, (Phil. 2:4) we tend to take it to an unhealthy degree of self-neglect. As moms especially, or caregivers in general– it is more likely that our own health is the last thing we consider.

Personally, it’s not easy to schedule my own doctors appointments– and I do not enjoy going– but it NEEDS to be DONE.

The other day, I shared about my friend with cancer and it has been quite the wake up call, mainly because I’ma few months overdue on my annual physical. (Don’t worry, Mom. I scheduled it today.)

She is my age. She has three children. And with teaching Spin 5 times a week and working out on her own, she is the most active and healthy person I know.

But cancer doesn’t care.

And had she missed her yearly exam this last month, and waited 6 months or even longer– her prognosis might not be as good as it is today.

But Praise God she went and they caught this stuff when they did.

So what is it for you? Dentist? Need new glasses? YOUR yearly exam complete with a smashing paper gown and poking and prodding? DO IT.

If you have to, get a babysitter or take a personal day and pair it with lunch with a friend or a pedicure to make it fun.

But please, for the love of all those people who are looking up to you and who need you– your family needs a healthy you.

And whether it is physical or mental or spiritual or emotional– take some time to look out for your lovely self. 

It is definitely NOT selfish to be the healthiest version of you for yourself and your family.


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One Second. (#Write31Days)

2-31DAYSMEDIUM

Day 21/31 (only 10 days left in October!)

“Okay sweetie, just give me a second and I’ll be right there.”

I say that a lot.

Somedays it feels like it’s ALL I say. Or the many varied versions that put off the given request to a more convenient time.

Let’s be clear, I struggle in this area. 

Most days it is because I am outnumbered. And the requests pile up a little bit faster than I can fulfill them.

And it’s me– trying to be there when they need me and not be stretched in too many directions of my little taffy-pulling sweethearts.

Yes. I struggle to not say it all the time whenever asked “Mommy? Will you…?”

I also struggle with the struggling, because although I REALLY want my children to know I’m there for them, always there for them–

I do not want to raise self-absorbed, demanding little humans.

And there is a definite balance.

And some days I think I might have a hint of what the secret is–

and other days I absolutely do not have a clue.

But this I do know.

This time– this time of parenting very small ones who need some kind of help with just about every.thing. It won’t last.

It’s Oh so temporary.

It is the season of all seasons that will quickly morph into, “I got it mom.” “No, really Mom– I got it.. Can I have the keys and 20 bucks please?”

And to be truthful, that feeling is slightly encouraging some days–

But most days it just makes me want to do nothing but spend all my seconds coloring with them, while having tea parties and dressing up.

They won’t be these little sparkly- tu-tu’ed fairies forever.

And when they no longer need help every other second of the day– it is exactly these days right here, I’ll be reflecting on.

Sitting with my morning coffee– and remembering how sweet this time really was.

 

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