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Allume, My Favorite Weekend of the Year

Well, “my favorite weekend of the year” has come and gone.  This year’s Allume conference was as fantastic as ever, so I want to tell you a little about that, plus do a big ginormous giveaway because it’s almost my birthday and I totes luurrve celebrating myself.

It was a weekend of meeting new friends and connecting with old ones.  I kept trying to make myself Periscope some of the fun but chickening out with my finger on the start button because Live!  Video Feed!  On the Internet!  I’m not sure the world is ready for me uncensored.  It makes me sweaty.

There are a few key points I feel like I need to tell you about.

One Tiny Fraction of All the Awesome People

First, my roommates were perfection, as always.  Here’s my annual Smile Booth pic with Chantel:


I look like I want to eat her, which is a little bit true.  This is what fierce fourth-base love looks like, where I’m smiling but it’s like a GRRR smile, like I’m so overcome with joy to be around you and I will rip things apart with my bare hands in my unbridled enthusiasm.  (Chantel and our other roommate, Ginny, own that doll company, Forever We, that I told you about.)

Our friend Robin brought a disco ball, and all hotel rooms should have disco balls.  (I edited this photo here in WordPress and it doesn’t want to post the edited version, so maybe for some reason Mr. Disco wants to be uncropped.  Just whatever.  This is my level of professionalism.  I just attended a blogging conference at which I was a speaker.  This is me very expertly blogging.)


I finally met Laila in real life.  She and I have been Twitter buds for awhile and she’s guest posted here.  So fun to actually hug.


I was really looking forward to hearing Austin Channing speak because she’s leading us so well in racial justice and reconciliation.  She did not disappoint, and I tried to write down everything she said.


Here are some of the things:

“You will constantly come back to your own brokenness and the brokenness of the world if you commit to racial justice.”

“God’s reflection is carried in my black femaleness.”

“Generations of Christianity & white supremacy have been melded together & it’s our job to break it apart.”

“If you want to enter into this, you have to start following marginalized women.”

“Incredibly important to the work of justice: to be able to follow the most marginalized.”

“Racial justice and reconciliation come with a sacrifice. It’s coming.”

“Reconciliation cannot be done alone. It must be done in community.”

And Amena Brown Owen makes me finally understand poetry.  I read it on a page and I just. don’t. get. it.  But when I hear her do spoken word, my soul lights up and I FEEL IT DOWN DEEP.


Dancing My Face Off

Friday night we had a dance party with DJ Opdiggy, and there is nothing more fun than a group of women in their 30s and 40s shaking their booties together on the dance floor.


I don’t know what to say about my Enthusiastic Selfie Face.  I am extremely scary.  Robin and I laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe and the guy in the elevator asked what was in our cups and we guffawed “WATER!” as we died laughing.  Hashtag Under the Influence of House of Pain.  I called home to thank the girls for teaching me the Whip Nae Nae so Mommy could be cool with her friends.

I had fun leading my breakout, My Mix Tape: Make Your Faith, Life, and Passion for the Globe Work Together.  I was talking about how we fit everything in and live authentic lives and so I thought I’d better wear my favorite jammie pants if I was going to be as authentic as possible talking about authenticity. (WordPress hates me and has decided that this photo should also be uncropped no matter what I do to convince it otherwise.  Just whatever.  I am a fierce blogging expert who knows stuff.  Clearly.  Please enjoy the wide expanse of uncropped ceiling and subtle hotel ballroom carpeting.)


Here I look like I’m doing the time step and am about to shuffle off to Buffalo.  Speaking of which, my friend Amy introduced me using jazz hands, which made me feel so loved.


In Which I Attended a Grownup Sleepover, Ugly Cried, and Made a Craft Project

After Allume, I went with Courtney DeFeo to her fam’s house for a big sleepover.  I know.  I’m twelve.  So fun.  She made these scripture cards that teach kids Bible verses using the ABC’s.  You guys, we are Awana dropouts this year and she may singlehandedly save us from giving up altogether on learning stuff.  We put these on our kitchen table and I see cheesy jingles with hand motions in my kids’ future.  As you can imagine, they will be thrilled.


Here’s me with the beautiful Allison Hendrix (I lurrve her so hard.) on the dock, right before I erupted in this laugh-cry emotional explosion.


You know you’ve hit fourth base when you’re at a writers’ sleepover and feel safe enough to enjoy your biannual ugly cry.  As you can see, I’m wearing my sitting shirt, which is the perfect clothing choice for said ugly cry.  Its excellent sweat-wicking qualities come in handy when you’re rocking yourself and sobbing uncontrollably.

After this, they took advantage of my emotional vulnerability and got me to do a craft.  Look how scared I am in this photo.  I’m gripping my beads and wire and staring with unnerving concentration at Annie Pajcic, my fearless leader.


I made a wooden cross with my own hands and gave it to Elliott, who was very excited when I told him the ocean made the driftwood.  Ana looked at me with a mixture of wonder and suspicion and asked, “YOU made this with your hands?”  I know.  Mama’s going through something and lost her mind.

Melanie’s Big Birthday Blowout


I know.  As moms when we hear “blowout” it means something else and requires an entire container of baby wipes.  But in this case, it means it’s my birthday and I’m giving away a bunch of stuff!  I’m turning 38 and for my birthday, I bought you some stuff.  Also, since I just got back from Allume conference, I want to share some of the awesome swag with you, so enter to win the following:

-big JOYN purse made in India by the beautiful hands of Hukum, Guddy, and Dina!  

-my very favorite Mitscoots socks

-a “together” Lisa Leonard necklace

-set of ornaments from Ever Thine Home

-framed watercolor from Life Passionately

-Deep V T-shirt from Museum of the Bible (This museum is completely geeking me out. Whether or not you engage with the Bible spiritually, it’s certainly incredible historically, and they’re partnering with Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic scholars to create a museum filled with ancient manuscripts and all kinds of artifacts. My inner book nerd can’t wait for 2017 when it opens in D.C. I’m thinking road trip for sure.)

5 Minutes with Jesus devotional

He Knows My Name Bible study with art projects for girls (I met the author Annie Pajcic and lurrrve her. My daughter Ana and I are excited to walk through this together and the art projects are easy enough that I think maybe I can even help.  Or let’s be honest, she can help me.)

Wild in the Hollow, by Amber Haines (You guys, have I made myself clear about how much I love this book? I read it in one sitting without getting up to pee and Alex had to make dinner because I just couldn’t put it down.)

Okay, get after it, girl.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER.  I hope you win!