Playdates with God: Allume

a good conversation

Jen and emily

Shelly and me

free the girls

I raced the birds south this week, leaving behind all that testosterone in my home and a sick dog. The mountains leaned over me as I drove, all beveled with the glow of dripping pigment. There were friends waiting for me at Allume, and worship, and opportunities to learn and grow but it felt like those mountains were folding in on me. And I wondered, is the running toward God always encumbered by the millstone of the things we leave behind? 
The beautiful thing—the hard thing—is that the Allume conference reminds us that we am not alone…that in this broken world we are all connected by the invisible string of the Creator’s love. I felt that shining in the faces of all the beautiful women I encountered in the hallways, at the dinner table, in the sessions. But, too, I felt it in the dedication of this gathering to social justice. I brought a clutch of old bras to donate to Free the Girls, an organization that helps women who have been freed from human trafficking. Jennifer and I went in on a shoe-making kit from Sole Hope, a group of passionate, committed people who are putting closed toed shoes on African children, one pair at a time. Freesetwas there, and Food for the Hungry, and Pure Charity. I bought beaded bracelets made by East African artisans to help support the children of their communities. There were so many opportunities to give, so many different charities, that the table area felt like a bee hive with all those worker bees. It hummed and thrummed and there was so much sweetness being made.
There was a lot of praying. Emily and Shelly and so many others gave themselves to the prayer room, to holding on to hands and hearts and lifting them in unison before God. I sat with friends and prayed with friends and leaned into good conversations and I felt God whispering, I want all of you. And I understood that I am more than this moment, more than the now, that I have a life and a place in eternity and all the things I left behind are the place-holders for my special place in this world.
So I brought all of me. And I gave it to my sisters this weekend. It was nothing profound, nothing earth-shattering. Just real and broken and quivering with love.  In her keynote, Melanie Shankle gave us Zechariah 4: 10: Do not despise the day of small beginnings…I think of the birds, how they fly in the heavens, moving toward God with the whole of them. And the millstone slips from my neck with a clatter as I open my hands and offer it all.
They fly the straight line above,

but I earthbound—
weave in and out of these mountains  
dipped in God’s palette, 
  among leaf chaff and  
milkweed seeds. The wind 
  bends the road beneath  
me as I drive into 
  a doorway of blue sky.

How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

The Playdates button:



  1. Mia says

    Dear Laura
    Oh, how my heart yearned to be with you all at Allume this weekend. I think next year If our Pappa allows and provides, I want to fly over from South Africa to join you all. I read a post of Allison Hector last week about human trafficking and I was shocked speechless. I had no idea that is is so incredibly bad and flourishing.
    Blessings XX

  2. says

    This is beautiful, Laura. Your heart of faith inspires me, imperfect as I am. One of these years, I’m going to make it to that Allume conference, and I hope I’ll have the blessing of meeting you in person. You are a word weaver – beautiful.

  3. Kim Adams Morgan says

    I didn’t know you were @ Allume. I would have loved to say hi. It was such a wonderful time and I’ve returned to NC inspired to reach for the sky. I cannot get Sole Hope out of my mind. What a great organization – one of the many that weekend.

  4. says

    all the things I left behind are the place-holders for my special place in this world . . I love that line Laura, so much wise insight in it. It was such a delight to spend the weekend with you. I feel like we’ve been friends forever. I slept like a rock last night and woke up missing our morning conversations. Love you, glad you made it home safely and know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. amyscanderson says

    This all makes me smile. What lovely words and faces and flight of the human and beyond kind. Do you want to know something funny? I was in SC! We spent a week at Hilton Head as a family, and made the drive home Friday and Saturday. If I’d connected all the dots, I would have waved as we passed through the area:) Love to you, Laura. Saying a prayer for your sweet pup.

  6. says

    We didn’t meet at Allume, but I’m pretty sure we passed in the halls many times me being nervous to say hi. 🙂 Lovely lovely post as always. Love those ladies you posted pictures of.

  7. says

    Look at that picture full of beautiful faces! This makes me happy. So glad you got to go and relish in the girl time. Thanks for sharing the links. I am off to explore. 🙂

  8. soulstops says


    I love this “Just real and
    broken and quivering with love.” and “a doorway of blue sky” and seeing all of your lovely faces 🙂 What a blessing 🙂

  9. kingfisher says

    I’m so happy for you that you got to go to Allume, Laura. And your writing is precious, as always. May God continually give you the spirit of contentment, and the ability to find him in — well, everything!

  10. Dawn Paoletta says

    one of my fave verses. The first time I heard it spoken was by Elisabeth Elliot…powerful. I love the pictures. So glad you felt the blessing, even in the simple gathering of souls…I am on Fitness all month so will link up next time…

  11. JViola79 says

    I have so loved reading the tweets about the conference. Grateful that you all were able to be there. Grateful that you all come home & bless and encourage those who were not able to be there. Thank you for splashing it out on us!

  12. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    Oh Dawnl I wish you and my two “Kellys” had been able to come. This was an extraordinary event. I keep hesitating for a word to define it….not event, not conference, not retreat…….maybe metamorphosis. I hope you will be able to attend this and/or the Jumping Tandem Retreat. It’s in April, 2015, I believe.

  13. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    Shelly, i’m so touched by your introducing me to your special friend, Laura. She’s beautiful and gifted, just like you! And btw, i’m still sleeping like a rock on Day 2! =]
    Love you so,

  14. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    This is so beautifully written, Laura, and expresses the beauty, intimacy, and generosity of the weekend. Most conferences are about absorbing, taking……this was about giving and releasing. Shelly has spoken so lovingly about you; I can see why! You are as beautiful as the words you write. I surely hope that our paths cross again soon. I loved meeting you!

  15. Dawn Paoletta says

    OH, Lynn- I was thinking of you this morning- during quite time you came to my mind! That is so funny to find your comment now! Funny is a God Smile kind of way! I am hoping I can- would really love to go to JT- but only God knows…if and when. We are in a very difficult trial (and long) with my 13 year old daughter. It is a consuming situation and not sure what is ahead…like these kinds of retreats and things. Love to you, Lynn- you are a blessing!

  16. says

    Jaimie! I wish you would have grabbed me! I’m a little shy about approaching people too, though, so I get that. Maybe we’ll have another chance? I hope so 🙂 in the meantime, we’ll just have to visit online! I’m sending a big cyber-hug to you!

  17. Kathy Schwanke says

    Your words are like a song Laura, and you are a beautiful display of God’s peace. So thankful to have met you at Allume. I’ve been keeping you in prayer. God brings you to mind often as you wrap up your project. Love you!

  18. Nancy Sturm says

    So happy for you and this wonderful experience. I especially loved, “It was nothing profound, nothing earth-shattering. Just real and broken and quivering with love.” So exquisite–I would love to approach every simple moment that way. Lovely concluding poem–I can almost see the sights. Thanks!

  19. says

    So sorry about Lucy Mae! May God heal her little sweet body again.

    “All beveled with the glow of dripping pigment”. . . wow. How did you do that?

    I’m thankful God gave you that opportunity. May the experience continue to bear His good fruit in your life and relationships. Grace and peace to you, lovely friend.

  20. says

    What a great experience, Laura. I have longed to be amidst that love and sharing. So wonderful that the Lord’s call was to give Him your all~in that place and every place your food lands in life.

    Beautiful imagery in your story as well.

  21. says

    Isn’t it cute? They had us bring in our old bras to gift to women who had been freed from human trafficking. And the name of the organization? Free the Girls. Not kidding. I love it.

  22. says

    Oh! Were you there too? I would have loved to say hello to you as well, Kim. There were so many beautiful women there. Yes, I was inspired too, but broken a little also. Sole Hope is sticking with me too. Jennifer Lee and I bought a kit to take to Laity Lodge with us in a few weeks. We hope to get a shoe-cutting party up there!

  23. says

    I can’t believe you were in SC! It was a 6.5 hour drive for me, but well worth it. And I enjoyed the quiet. Yes, keep praying for Lucy Mae. It’s just a matter of time and we are all broken-hearted here.

  24. Elizabeth Anne May says

    I am not sure which is lovelier — your beautiful faces in the photos, these sweet women I’ve read online, but never met in person — or the strands of your words woven, poetry and prose alike. I am so hoping to attend next year — perhaps we can find a spot to meet and make the drive together 🙂


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