Sometimes you sign up for a conference not knowing exactly what you are signing up for. You sign up because a good friend who has been before tells you "Trust me, I want you to come with me and you are going to love it." That's how I ended up at the Allume 2014 Conference this year… and how I drug Jenny along with me. My mind is still spinning with ideas born from this conference. Ideas for our blog, for future posts, for areas to serve and ways to live more fully for God. And most exciting of all, ideas for how to cultivate new God-given friendships. I didn't know exactly why I was going to Allume, but I know exactly what I found there.
Friendship. God-given friendship.
The only thing more exciting than making new friends is when God shows up and visits with you in those introductions.
God-given friendships start out in the most beautiful ways. They begin by having a conversation with a complete stranger only to realize that this beautiful woman standing in front of you is the one you've been praying to meet for months. She's the story you want to hear, and she wants to tell her story. And she is such a precious, precious person that you just cannot wait to get to know.
God-given friendship begins by buying a necklace from The Sparrow Project and hearing how the proceeds go to support Project 143, only to learn that both the jewelry maker and the ministry supported by the jewelry sale are perfectly in line with the passions of your own heart. They are born when those conversations shift from the current passions and areas of serving into the personal struggles taking place behind the beautiful smiles. The friendships grow when you walk away only to feel a divine tug to go back and find this newly familiar face and ask to pray together over a common struggle.
God-given friendships that have been established for years have the chance to grow leaps and bounds when you are in the same place for the same reasons with the same hearts and desires. Sure we get along great, laugh a lot, have a lot in common... you know, all the foundations for a regular friendship. But a God-given friendship has that Spirit connection that just resonates when you finally have a chance to visit. To sit and talk together, pray together, cry and laugh together and eat way too many cupcakes together. (Because we all know nothing feeds your spiritual life like a good cupcake!)
These precious friendships are born out of genuine excitement for what God is doing through each of us and a desire to encourage each other to grow in our own areas as we grow together in our faith. And they are born out of shared tears and an awful lot of belly-aching laughter.
Yes Allume was a blessing just for the incredible chance to hear and be inspired by so many amazing speakers, authors, and artists. It is a blessing to be coming home with a mind spinning with ideas and direction. But the biggest blessing of all is coming home with new friendships and plans to study and grow together. Relationships change lives, not ideas, and my life is already better because of the chance to get to know some truly incredible women. Because God so cleverly prearranged these friendships, I look forward with anticipation to see how they grow, and I know the best visits are yet to come.