We survived ski season!

I must shout it from the top of some place very high: “I survived ski season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I don’t usually blog about my husband’s absences till after he’s home (that’s wise, dontcha think?) but now that ski season is officially over for us, I can tell you what the last 8 weekends have been like for our family (with pictures of one of them!)

My husband is ski school supervisor for an adaptive ski program at a ski mountain 1 1/2 hours from hour home. This means he helps children and adults enjoy the fun and freedom of the slopes, no matter what their disability. Isn’t that cool? I think he rocks. This also means he leaves at 6am Saturdays and Sundays for the duration of the program, and doesn’t get home till 6 or sometimes 8 that night.

In past years, we have made the effort to join him almost every weekend. This year, because the kids are no longer tiny babies who spend half the day napping in a porta crib in the corner of the ski lodge, and because we were still recovering from our mold problem, we only joined him once. The rest of the time, we cuddled up at home with movies and dad-less dinners (You have those, too, right?) breaking up the monotony by hauling ourselves to church with a challenging ratio of three toddlers to one parent. In the bitter cold.

Fridays lose all their charm as heralds of the weekend during this season, just sayin’.

And yet. And yet. I fully support and embrace what my husband does because:

A) I believe in sharing. Jeremy gives an inestimable gift to the people he give his time to each weekend. Why should I jealously hog his awesomeness to myself?

And,  B) I believe in supporting other’s passions. Jeremy has worked with this program for 14 years–twice as long as we’ve been married. I knew when I married him that our winters would look like this, and I was ok with that and continue to be ok with that because I’m addicted to the light in his eyes when he is embracing his passion. In fact, I began falling in love with him during ski season. (Was it that light in his eyes, or the fact that he would show up to Sunday evening church services still wearing his sexy ski gear? Hmmm. That is a question we will have to explore when I finally get around to writing the rest of our love story. ;))

But yesterday was the last day. The last day that I would watch the clock, serve dinner to the kids on paper plates, glance at the clock again, put on a movie or some wild dancing music for the kids to buy a little more sanity for myself, check my phone to calculate how long it’s been since his “on my way home” text, and finally see lights skim by the dining room windows and yell to myself, to the kids and to the world,

“Daddy’s HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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Sunday last week we go to join Daddy for a day on the slopes. This is what the lake looks like at 6:30 on a Sunday morning in February. Brrrr.

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It’s not terribly fun to get up at 5:30am (after only 5 hours sleep, mind you) so you have time to make a nourishing breakfast (chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal muffins, with soaking directions) and pack a family of 5 to leave by 6:30. Seeing the sunrise in this particular little lake-side town made it all worth it, because this is the town in which my man asked me to marry him 7 1/2 years go. ;)

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And this? This moment, watching Seth watch his sister ski? Totally worth it.

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Watching Claire ski down the BIG HILL for the first time? Totally worth it! (her and daddy are second from the bottom in the middle of the slope)

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And then this. Finally Seth gets his first ski lesson. His brother and sister were 18 months and 15 months respectively when they started skiing. Seth is 2 1/2 — it was high time! He asked all day, “I go ‘kiing now?”. At last it was time.

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Stepping into his skis

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“So this is what it feels like!…Now what?”

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We go up the hill so we can go down.

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And this is an even faster way to get up the hill! Already this is a blast for my little monkey.

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Then at last we are doing it…we are skiing!

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Jeremy is such a great teacher…I just fall in love with him all over again every time I watch him ski backward while teaching our kids how to ski.

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After 3 runs down the bunny hill, we only got Seth inside by bribing him with lunch. He just kept repeating “I ready go ‘kiing now!” After lunch a friend took him for 3 more runs. He was the shortest munchkin in the lift line. ;)

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Farewell, ski season. We survived you. We even made some good memories with you. Until next year!

Another Allume Miracle {Or, Two Angles and a Special Book}

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Meet my Allume Angel. Her name is Aurie, and two hours before this photo was taken, we were complete strangers. Now we are not.

Here’s what happened…I was just sitting down to dinner Friday night when I got a phonecall from my husband. He told me that my package–THE package that presented 1 1/2 years of our combined effort and was SUPPOSED to arrive at Allume on Thursday had gotten lost or delayed, or something, and if I wanted to get my hands on the box which contained the FIRST EVER copies of my book in PRINT (can you tell how exciting this is for me?) I would have to go to the UPS warehouse and pick it up myself.

Oh my. That was like telling me if I wanted my books I’d have to learn to scuba dive and fetch them from an undersea cave. Not only did I not have a car, but I’m so directionally challenged I wouldn’t have been able to find it if it was 3 miles away.

I looked around my table. I knew no one local to Harrisburg. In desperation, I turned to my left and said to the gal next to me, who I hardly knew, “I have a problem. My books are here–HERE in Harrisburg, but if I don’t pick them up tonight, I’ll never see them, ’cause UPS will close for the weekend, and I leave town before they open again on Monday! I don’t know what I”m gonna do!”

Oh, but I just happened to be sitting next to Kelly, who just happens to have a creative mind and a can-do attitude.

And Kelly just happened to know someone who was local to Harrisburg.

And that someone just happened to be sitting right over there…and Kelly was more than willing to introduce me, and assured me that this person was just the sort of person who would skip dinner and drive a stranger to pick up a box from UPS.

And she was, and we did.

Aurie grabbed her keys, led me out the parking garage, typed the address into her GPS, we both cheered when we saw we were only 3 miles away, and off we went.

We waited 25 agonizing minutes at the UPS for them to find the box which headquarters said was there, but no one knew quite where. We were hungry, and really hoping we wouldn’t miss Sally Clarksons key note! Phonecalls were exchanged, people went into the warehouse to hunt, I knit my brows and worried, but Aurie kept smiling and inspired me to have just a little more faith.

(I’ll say this for UPS–everyone we had contact with–from my husband on the phone with headquarters, to the ladies running the desk at the warehouse–were very helpful and courteous. Having the box go missing and miss the delivery truck that was to take it to the hotel was just one of those mishaps that happen once in a great while. And it taught me faith. Because, to me, the situation was bleak and impossible. But God)

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But God…Finally delivered this box into my arms, and I held it close on the drive back, and we got back to the ballroom to find that dinner had been delayed, meaning we had not missed the keynote yet, and friends had saved dinner for us–the waiters brought our plates of food out as soon as we got back to our seats–and the evening went on without a hitch.

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And I got my books to Allume in time to have them on the speaker book table. It was surreal, I tell you.

The moment you hold your own, self-published book in your hands is truly amazing. I liken it to holding a newborn baby for the first time. I carried my ebook in my ‘heart’ for a year and a half while it existed in its electronic state. But now I can hold it in my hands.

And I can share it with you. For all of you who have asked, and waited soooo patiently, the print version of Real {Fast} Food is now available on Createspace.  (note: you will not be ordering from me–the books in the story above were just for sale at the conference)

From me to you–My book, all dressed up with real pages and color photos and that pretty cover my man designed. Just in time for Christmas! You can order it HERE.

Merry Christmas!

Friday at Allume {In Which God Breaks Me, Uses Me, and Gets ALL the Glory}

Today was the day. Today I had a chance to share my passion for people-centered blogging and my heart for serving over seeking fame with my blog. If I could just get the words to come out straight, I’d survive.

Oh, plus there was that whole other issue I’d been dealing with all weekend. (If you get my personal newsletter, you know about this already, but here’s a recap for the rest of you…)

Bigger than my fear of messing up my talk, was my fear of totally rocking my talk. Yes, you heard that—I was afraid of success, because I was afraid of pride. Remember last year at Allume? How prideful I had been? And how the Lord had been kneading humility into me ever since? Well, I was plumb terrified that if I succeeded in sharing my message in a cohesive manner—if my talk was at all passable, it would feed that pride I’d been a slave to, and I’d be back where I started—a stuck up snob, thinking of myself more than others.

But God.

But God had a plan. He had hinted of that plan Thursday morning, in the quiet of early morning in my hotel room, chiding me oh-so-gently for my lack of faith, for thinking that I could get back into the pit {of pride} He’d delivered me from, for thinking that I had to manage my own sanctification, for not believing that He had a plan. Some reason, I didn’t trust Him yet, and continued to fear.

Then, Friday at 11 am, just 3 hours before I was supposed to speak, you’ll never guess what happened…

Aunt Flo arrived at Allume.

I saw her step off the elevator (not literally, I’m just trying to make as light of this TMI detail as possible, people!) and I thought,

“No! Not you! Again!” (she’d followed me to Allume last year, too, the annoying relative that she is)

Then I thought,

“Bummer. I really wanted to be pregnant this month.”

Finally, I thought,

“Oh, my gosh, how embarrassing. I’ve been telling everyone I was pregnant. How in the world am I gonna save face after this snafu?”

(whoa, hold it—I didn’t even know that word was in my vocabulary—what’s a snafu??? Just a minute…OK, Merriam Webster says it’s “a situation marked by errors or confusion”. OK, yeah. Perfect word. Carry on…)

How do I describe the next three hours? I spent about half of it crying in my room, with my roomates gathered around me, comforting and praying for me, and the other hour and half trying to gather my wits and compose myself so I would be ready to speak at 2. I totally missed my friend Kristina’s session, managed about 4 bites of lunch, and finally made my way to the room assigned to my talk,  my prepared speech a crumpled wad in one sweaty, shaking fist.

The room was empty when I arrived, but slowly began to fill with the Gideon Band that God had gathered around me that weekend: Diane and Milan, September and Sarah, Jess, Mandy, and Kateri, all from my mastermind group and all with comforting hugs and promises to pray. Then Lisa-Jo arrived—Lisa-Jo, who had spoken such words of affirmation into me Thursday night, telling me how excited she was about the theme of my talk and giving me such a boost of confidence by assuring me she was going to attend. Kris was there, and Jodi, and Dana, and many of the other women I’d connected with already that weekend. I thought, ‘”Why should I be nervous, I’m just going to be speaking to a handful of friends!” But I still was. Because not only did I have a speech to deliver, I had a snafu to confess.

Yes, yes, I’m serious. There would be no attempt to save face. I felt the Lord telling me that my blunder was the perfect story to illustrate one of the key points in my speech—the call to embrace humility as a blogger. It was all there in my notes…

“Embracing humility means not shying away from those moments that show me and however is watching that I’m not the next mommy-blogger-superstar.

Embracing humility means thinking more of other’s needs and less of my own craving for attention and validation.

Embracing humility means seeing myself through God’s eyes—beautiful, worthy, a treasure, but ONLY because of grace.”

So, instead of figuring out a way to mask my blunder, and casually un-tell people about my mistaken pregnancy only if it happened to come up in conversation, I chose to take the grace the Lord heaps up for the humble, to go ahead and just be me, without the masks of having it all together. I could just be me and let Christ fill in the gaps with grace.

So I did. I shared with the women what had happened that morning, and I could tell from the gentle laughter in the room that I wasn’t the only one who’d ever done such a silly thing. I shared with them the choice I had to make: to fight a humiliating moment with more pride, or to embrace the grace to be humble. And I applied it to blogging—to the need to be humble and authentic with our stories, with our mistakes as we learn to navigate the land of tweets and statuses, and with every interaction with our readers and acquaintances. Humility is a key to having a Kingdom impact with your blog.

And some how the words came. It was just as Tricia and September and Jana told me—the Holy Spirit would give me words if I was just obedient to open my mouth.

And here was the mighty deliverance Gideon’s God worked for me that day:

He delivered me from pride, and the fear of pride, by gently bringing me to a place of utter brokenness and inadequacy, and then used me in that broken state to further His kingdom.

See, God totally rocked my talk, friends. And He did it all with a broken vessel who both felt ill-prepared and was an emotional wreck just hours before her talk so that when the words the He wanted said were shared, He got ALL the glory.

And I praise His name. 

It’s still unreal to me that I was a part of this awesome group of men and women–the speakers at Allume 2012. (I’m in the front, second from left–at the feet of Sally Clarkson, Ann Voskamp, and ProBlogger–great place to be!)

Recordings of all of the Allume sessions are at last available for purchase!(I know I told you they’d be free, but I was mistaken. Still, the content is gold, I tell you, pure gold!) I’m totally getting the package for myself for Christmas. Oh, yes. But watch this here blog for more of the content from my talk, which I’ll be making available for my readers in text form—soon!

Oh, and did you like this series of posts about my experiences at Allume? I hope so, because I have one more miracle to tell!

Bus Life in Alabama

Not only did I clean the bus, but I plucked my eyebrows, too. It was the perfect time to do a vlog…

Bus life is life simplified. As you can see, there’s not much room for stuff in the bus. The menu is simplified by the limits of a small fridge and the burns-nearly-everything oven. Days are simplified by the lack of the normal tasks, activities, and outings. Although I don’t feel called to live this simply all the time, it has its benefits and I do enjoy it for a season.

Mornings start with rolling up the bus curtains to let the bright, Alabama sunshine in. I feed the kiddos, make a smoothie for Jeremy (who likes a light breakfast) and then we begin our day.

Sometimes it’s school with the kids first, but this month there’s been more getting outside to enjoy as much of the warm weather as we can before we head south, than staying inside with books. There will be plenty of time for school when we’re all cozied up in our home in NY for the winter.

I have to run to the laundromat several times a week as well as the grocery store (because the bus fridge is so small), so I often run errands in the morning.

In the afternoon, Seth naps on one of the bunks in the back, allowing the rest of us to be in the front of the bus without waking him to easily. (He doesn’t like to fall asleep easily in mommy’s bed–he’d rather play, so I usually have to lay down with him for 15 min. till he passes out. This is nice down time for me). Afternoons are when mommy writes, or joins daddy down at the trailer they’re remodeling. He is putting in flooring, she scrubs and paints.

Jesse and Claire ride their bikes as much as a 6 and 4 year old could possibly want. They also make up all sorts of creative games with tape, sticks, cardboard, and crayons (since mommy, ehem, forgot to pack toys this time around). Their artwork plasters nearly all the available wall space in the bus.

Evenings are the most challenging, as it gets dark by 5pm, so we are all 5 in the bus for 3 hours before you can possibly call it bedtime. We get a little stir crazy sometimes, but an episode of Buck Denver can usually get us through mommy making dinner, and books from the library carry us till bedtime. After children pass out, finally mommy and daddy get a little time to think and relax, maybe watch a grown-up movie, or work on the blog together, or finally get the rest they deserve.

And then it starts all over again. That’s a glimpse into bus life...what part do you think you’d hate or love the most? And did you like my eyebrows???

Enter Wig, Stage Left {and discard that mask}

The first night at Allume, I roomed with my mentor and friend, September, and her fun and funky daughter, Sarah. (Have you noticed I have an appreciation for funkyness? It’s like the highest compliment I give people. “You’re funky. I like you!”)

Sarah brought a friend, as well. Her 3 foot wide afro wig.

I took one look and knew I was gonna be guilty of grand wig theft by the end of the week.

I’m kidding. Sarah promised to share.

The wig thrilled me. I have no idea why. It may take this whole series for me to explain to you—to myself–why the wig was such an important part of my weekend. Why I loved it so much. Why I let so many photographs be taken of me and the wig.

Tonight I loved it because it made me laugh. I was so stressed that my trapezius muscles were were one, taut hunk of burning muscle which literally kept me from getting more than 3 hours of sleep that night, but the wig let me laugh. About wearing it in the smile booth. About how much fun it was to be finally free from a life-long bondage to ‘what will people think?’ and to be able to do crazy things like wear a 3 ft. afro wig in public. I fell asleep Friday night giggling about the wig.

Thursday at Allume is like Christmas. Friends who feel like family start arriving, the halls and rooms are full of joyous reunion, and—you receive your swag bag!

(Gals, if you have ever dreamt of attending Allume, but weren’t sure if it was worth the cost, the swag bag is the final answer. It’s a gorgeous Dayspring tote chock. full. of. goodness. The latest books from the authors you and I love, plus gifts of chocolate, jewelry, even Christmas ornaments from the conference sponsors. The only problem? The women who fly have trouble getting it all back in their luggage. What a terrible problem!)

I actually don’t remember much about the next day-and-a-half leading up to my talk, except one thing: prayer. I know I took a walk with Janelle and another jaunt with Gretchen,Dawn, Hiedi, and Katey that ended with them vowing to never let Trina lead an expedition again (I do hope they eventually found a coffee shop…) Oh, and I remember that awesome pita shop where you created your custom pita and I put pesto on my gyro-style pita…

But I digress. What I was saying was that the highlights of the weekend were when people prayed for me. See, I could have put on the mask of ‘I’m ok, I’m gonna make it, somehow I’ll get through this weekend’ and not revealed to people how insecure, inadequate, and pretty much freaked out I was. But instead the Lord gave me grace to be completely open and utterly needy with everyone I met—and even the ones I hadn’t met yet! And each time I bared my heart, these women fortified me with words of encouragement, faith, and prayer.

  • Kristina, instead of letting me stay up late to practice Wed. night, instead told me everything would be fine, get some rest.
  • September, instead of letting my practice my speech before going to sleep, assured me that the Holy Spirit would give me the words when it was time to speak, and that I should trust.
  • Tricia Goyer (yes, THE Tricia Goyer!), my new roomate who arrived on Thursday, told me the same thing. Both these women do a lot of speaking, so I took great hope from their encouragement.
  • I met Jana who had ‘speaker’ in her list of gifts on her card, and detained her long enough to ask her best speaking tip, and if it was ok to feel so inadequate. You know what she said? Same thing. The Holy Spirit would take over if I was simply willing to be a mouth piece.

Could all these women be wrong? I think not. I dared to hope. But I was still a wreck.

Until I met Emily. Thursday night, in line for dinner, I caught site of a familiar face—Elisa! I had had the privilege over the summer of encouraging her to start her own mastermind group and relaunch her awesome ebook Impact My Life: Biblical Mentoring Simplified (which is on sale right now!), but we’d only ever spoken over the phone. Now here she was in person, and when I finished hugging her, she introduced me to her friend Emily.

There was just something about Emily. She looked familiar to me, though I had never met her before. She just had the look of a friend. And when she found out that I was a wreck (remember, I wore no mask) she asked if she could pray for me.

(I want to be a person who goes to prayer within a minute of meeting a stranger, don’t you?)

And then she asked, “Can I put my hand on you?”

My dear girl. You have no idea how OK I am with you putting your hand on me. Yes, yes—I’m totally OK with the ‘laying on of hands’!

And then sweet Emily from Maine prayed for me in the middle of the bustle and hustle of opening night at Allume, and I testify that I felt a peace surge through me deeper and stronger than anything I’d felt since saying a shaky ‘yes’ to Sarah Mae asking me to speak 8 months before.

I have told everyone who will listen to me in the past month that God grew for me at Allume—that He is way bigger than we think He is. And I believe the reason He was able to increase in my life—to expand outside of the box I had viewed Him in, was because of the prayers of His people on my behalf.

So, I’m just gonna say thanks, right here, to all who prayed for me, and to God, who answers prayer.

Are you ready? The next installment contains the miracle. Friday God pulled a Gideon, and took me along for the ride.

In Which I Crash a Newbie Party {and feel right at home}

The swag packing party continued but it was now nearing dinner time. It had been a long time since this crew had stopped at Taco Bell on the drive down…

{September and her daughter Sarah, Diane and her daughter Milan–and me!}

I had the feeling if I didn’t get something substantial to eat soon, my blood sugar would plummet beyond the point of no return.

Problem.

I knew as soon as I had climbed out of September’s van into the Hotel’s parking area that I was officially, fully, and completely outside of my comfort zone. We were in downtown Harrisburg. Skyscrapers dominated my view of the sky, and I knew if I was going to step outside of the hotel at any time during the weekend, it would only be if I was holding a grown-up’s hand.

But dinner was out there…somewhere. I looked around for someone’s hand to hold. There was Shannon, and a few other friendly faces, talking about going to an Italian place around the corner. Great, I’d hitch a ride with them.

Little did I know that in piggy backing on their dinner plans I was actually presuming to be included in their reservations at a two-fork, upscale Italian eatery with a menu I couldn’t pronounce. They just happened to have a cancellation which made room for little me, and they were so gracious about me joining them, I didn’t even realize till we were all sitting down that this whole dinner had been planned in advance, and that I was crashing a well-planned, pre-allume, newbie get-together!

Funny thing was, despite the fact that I wasn’t technically a newbie anymore, I felt right at home. I well remembered my first Allume, and how much courage it took to be the new girl in a conference full of women who all seemed to know each other and have it all together already. I was carrying my own bundle of nerves this year due to my speaking commitment, and the newness of being at a different hotel. It felt so good to settle my nerves with laughter in the welcoming circle of these sweet women.

And dinner was lovely, too. Shannon even helped me order. Have I mentioned that I love her?

We shared Beef and Cheese Calzone with–get this–Red Onion Marmalade. Oh, and the salad? Had butternut squash in it. I have never had winter squash in a salad. The food was amazing, but the company was even better…

I sat across from Jennifer, which was so fun ’cause I had just watched her husband’s hilariously creative hack on her blog the day before. I felt like I was meeting a celebrity.

Then there was Janelle who I found shares my entrepreneurial interests (she’s just opened a boutique in her town) and my goal to rid my life of perfectionism. She shared with me this quote:

“Perfectionism fosters loneliness and isolation.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Then there was Lindsey, who I knew I would love from the description on her business card, “Christian. Wife. Mom. Weirdness Magnet.”

On my other side was Amanda and Jennifer, two beautiful women with whom I felt an immediate connection, and then around the end of the table, too far for me to talk to, but sharing laughs and business cards with nonetheless, were Katie and Nancy and Rachel, and Jami, and–and, I think I may be forgetting someone, but I’m pleading my fatigue and low blood sugar from having any clearer memories of the group!

Anyway, it was a lovely dinner and really just another way the Lord provided for me and met me in my weakness that weekend. These sweet women reached out to me, the one who should have been relaxed and savvy but wasn’t, and spoke encouragement and affirmation and blessing into my life when I was feeling desperately inadequate.

Gideon’s band was growing. (which, technically, is not what Gideon’s band was supposed to do. I realize I’m stretching the metaphor here folks, but bear with me! lol)

 

Of Pitchers and Torches and Swag

At last. Packing was done. Friends had arrived, connections had been made, and a van of 5 woman were headed down the highway to the Allume conference.

I was giddy. The hardest part was over. Well, the second hardest part. I still had my talk to give on Friday, but the packing and getting on the road had been accomplished. Someone else was driving (thank heavens!) and I could just sit back and start enjoying this weekend I’d anticipated for an entire year.

Me, Shannon, and Teresa in the Smilebooth

The cherry on top? The Allume conference was an opportunity to connect with some of my closest friends from across the country, giving me the opportunity to share my little secret in person.

Yes, friends, I was gonna be really stupid and start telling people I was preggo.

First I told my friends in the van (squeals! cheers! congratulations!). Then I proceeded to tell every. single. person I met at Allume as soon as I got off the elevator.

Oh, my, my, my.

You are getting a glimpse of The IRL Trina that may or may not show up on the blog very often. I’m impulsive. Extreme. And can be very, very silly.

We got to Allume a day early so we could help with the bag stuffing. One of the (million) awesome things about Allume is the Swag Bags. Beautiful DaySpring totes stuffed to the gills with gifts from conference sponsors. Books, chocolate, books, jewelry, books, and more books. What more could a woman ask for? It’s crazy. And it’s also a lot of work. Allume Early Birds arrive on Wednesday and spend hours and hours unpacking the loot, setting it out on tables, then forming an assembly line to fill each of the 400+ bags with the 30+ individual swag items.

It’s really a whole lot of fun.

But I was really struggling. Now I know it was dehydration (I’d lost my water bottle in the van) and fatigue and stress. But at the time, I blamed it on Baby Brain. I couldn’t focus, kept forgetting items for my bag and having to go back through the line to re-stuff, and though I was here, at last, in a room full of people, several of which I knew well and had been so looking forward to being with, I felt overwhelmed. Me! The Extrovert! Felt overwhelmed?

I couldn’t figure me out. I did something I rarely do. OK, never. I retreated. I left the beauty and fun and fellowship of the Packing Party and went back to my room. Alone.

People. I’m still wigging out about this. I never do this. Never retreat from people, or choose to be alone when I’m with friends. People give me energy, friends fill up my soul, God speaks me often most loudly in fellowship.

But I went back to my room and tried the whole introvert thing. *wink* I embraced the quiet, settled in to our room, took a shower, snacked, and still didn’t feel like myself. So, I did what, um, you and I both know I should have done days ago, and pulled out my Bible to actually read the story of Gideon.

Because that was me, people. This was my Gideon moment (OK, one of them). I knew it was alright to not feel myself today. Today didn’t matter. But what about Friday? What if I felt like this on Friday? Completely Brainless and unable to form complete sentences? I had a job to do and I could already sense a complete and utter fail on my part. I felt like Gideon must have, and I decided to see if God had been speaking the story of Gideon to me because He had a gem of truth to plant in me from that story.

It was good. It was right. To finally sit down and obey the nudge to read the story of Gideon all the way through. (Hello—I’d blogged about it and still hadn’t read it) It’s a good story, peoples. I read it and my heart settled down a little bit. I still felt brainless, but I blamed that on Baby Brain. My heart, at least, had a modicum of peace, having had my perspective adjusted a bit closer to God’s view of the battle weekend.

I went back out and jumped into the bag stuffing again, and had a chance to confide in my friend Shannon how ‘off’ I felt, and inadequate, and shared how I feel like the whole weekend I’m ‘pulling a Gideon’ and she said, “That’s great. Break the Pitcher and we’ll see the light, Trina. Don’t worry-all you have to do is break the pitcher and we’ll see the light.”

With those words, Shannon added to my little stockpile of peace, built up my faith in God’s ability to, um, be God, and became the first official recruit of the little band of soldiers God was going to surround me with that weekend, part of His plan for victory. Gideon’s Band.

This is NOT an Announcement {As much as it sounds like one}

I was stressed, people.

My life is full of things that I love, that give me energy, that excite me. But sometimes they all converge to get me really stressed out.

I love travel.

I love our crazy, gypsy, life this year, splitting our time between our home in the Fingerlakes of Upstate NY and a bus parked in a trailer park in Alabama.

I love writing.

I love my blog, and the relationships that have come from this space, and the opportunities it’s opened for ministry and beauty in my life.

I love people.

I didn’t yet know if I liked public speaking, but I did know I was looking forward to all the other hours at Allume, connecting at heart level with old and new friends, celebrating God and the adventure of the writing life.

But October nearly did me in.

Because while I was preparing to attend Allume (making business cards, shopping for a few more outfits to complete my no-brainer wardrobe, gathering little gifts for my roomies and besties)…

…I was also preparing to speak at Allume (writing over 4,000 words on my laptop in stolen moments, rendezvousing with Kristina to practice our talks, reading books on public speaking, watching TED talks for inspiration)…

…And I was also packing our family up to head to Alabama straight from Allume (Making meals for while I was gone, doing laundry, sorting clothes, packing everything I could before I left and leaving comprehensive lists for my husband)

And, because I hadn’t yet learned to trust and rest that God has my back and really does care about the littlest details (I mean, I said I did, but I wasn’t living it), all this stress built and built until my body reacted physically.

What I mean to say is, Aunt Flo delayed her visit, and I missed her note and thought I was pregnant.

Yeah, so on top of everything else on my plate, my raging hormones convinced me that I was also preggo.

Add to the list: make high protein snacks for hotel room. Pack clothes for Alabama in multiple sizes. Try to travel, attend conference, speak, and function with the half-a-brain I always feel like I have when I’m preggo.

Don’t get me wrong. I was really excited to think I was pregnant. But it was all a bit much. I was like, “Really, God? You’ve called me to this conference, and to speak to people, and then You want me to do it with half a brain?”

That’s when God started to speak to me the story of Gideon.

I saw the analogy right away—God called Gideon to do a job, Gideon felt inadequate, but that was OK because God was gonna fight the battle. God chose an inadequate vessel so that in the end, He would get the glory.

I got it. I tried to trust. And went back to my packing.

(Spoiler alert: Sorry to break the suspense of the story, but I do just have to say, for the record, This is not an announcement. I am NOT currently pregnant, nor was I at the time of this story. It was all a miss-understanding between me and Flo. Got it?)

There and Back Again, and a Soul Update

We’re back in Alabama again, folks!

My rockstar husband packed the kids and the suburban Sunday morning and was on the road by 5:30am EST, picked me up from Allume in Harrisburg, PA by 9:30, and we arrived at our second home, our beloved bus, in the trailer park in Alabama around 11:30 CST.

I calculate I got a total of 12 hours of sleep during my 5 days away at the Allume conference, so the first thing I did when I got here was start catching up on sleep.

(I was staying up late in the Smile Booth every night…)

Then I started stocking up the fridge and pantry–a challenge with Walmart being the only place to shop. I’m sharing my adventures in meeting the challenge of finding and preparing real food down here in Alabama with photos and updates on the Real {Fast} Food Facebook page.

Also, I’ve been sharing about the amazing Healthy Living eBook Bundle my book is being featured in this week (have you checked it out yet?)

But underneath all that, and in between the naps and to do’s and catching up on cuddles with my kiddos, my heart is singing, singing about all God did during the Christian Women’s Blogging Conference, Allume, that I attended and spoke at over the weekend. I’ve only just begun to process it all, and it may take a while to be able to blog about it, but I will just share this little bit with you so you can rejoice with me and be encouraged…

The day before I left I left for Allume, my husband’s smart phone received a update. Then at Allume I heard a lot of women talking about the same update. Everyone was saying the same thing–the update was great! Things looked better, worked smoother, and it was an all around upgrade.

That’s what I feel like happened to my soul last weekend: My soul got an update. Colors are more vibrant. My spirit is strengthened, the signal from the Satellite is stronger, and everything looks more beautiful. This update is pretty much the Bomb.

Here’s a little secret I learned, friends...God is WAY bigger than we think He is.

More to come….

Running and Praying in Circles

Sunday night I was pretty much in panic mode. With 10 days until I head to PA for a blogging conference and from there straight to Alabama with my family for another month, I saw the next week as a blur of urgent to-do’s and me running around like a chicken with her head cut off, with no certainty that I’d get even the most important things done.

Thankfully, I’ve been reading Circle Maker, so it was fresh in my mind that I should commit everything to God by praying specific, faith-filled prayers over each of the things that were stressing me.

Lying exhausted in bed with my husband, we held hands and prayed…

  1. For his back to quit spasming and that we’d both be able to catch up on the sleep we’d lost the night before when his back started going berserk.
  2. For my Allume speech–that it would come together, that I’d have sufficient time to practice, that my words would be a blessing next weekend at Allume.
  3. For the coming trip to Alabama–that I’d quit stressing about the challenge of packing my family days before they leave because I’m leaving ahead of them.
  4. For the coming week–so many things to do (cook, clean, pack, write, clean, love on my kids, pack, take up the slack for my husband’s sore back, clean, cook, pack, shop, and try to leave the house clean, maybe?). I needed direction on what to say ‘no’ to, because there was no way I’d get it all done.

Within 24 hours every one of our requests was answered.

  1. By bedtime last night, Jeremy was walking without using the crutches that had got him around the house and to work and back yesterday. I tried to be all cute and witty by using a Fezzik accent from Princess Bride: “You are moving your legs! That is wonderful!” Of course, you are more than welcome to continue to pray that Jeremy’s back would hold up for the many long hours he has to spend in the service truck for the coal business this time of year. We’re just grateful he’s able to sleep again.
  2. The Lord reminded me of Gideon. How he faced a challenge with less resources than he thought he needed, and this was so God got the glory. Oh, yes. It’s ok to feel inadequate. That’s where God has room to shine. Yesterday afternoon I had an hour during nap time in which I hammered out the rest of my speech and I feel in my spirit I’ve finally go the words I’m supposed to bring to my sisters at Allume. Praise God. Also, a friend from my Mastermind Group offered to let me try it out on her via Skype tonight. Speech done and time to practice!
  3. The Lord reminded me that Alabama is a place of rest for me. I don’t need to stress about packing projects to make the most of my time down there (even if Christmas is on the horizon and I haven’t done a THING to prepare yet!). I need to embrace the season of rest He has prepared for me, and trust the holidays (and everything else) to Him. I’m also not going to stress about bringing down half my pantry with me, despite the difficulty of finding whole foods in that area. It’s just not that big of a deal. I’m sure the Lord can take care of our health on fare from WalMart for a month. With my packing list slashed in half, I’m breathing easy again.
  4. With a few phonecalls and schedule changes (even saying no to a few things that were important but not priority) , my week, which had been overwhelming with to-do’s and to-go’s was blissfully clear, leaving me free to focus on my family before leaving for the conference.

I share all this so you can praise God with me for how He met us in our time of need, and to remind you that He really does care about the details of our daily lives. You really should try praying about that thing that’s stressing you.

Oh, and I wanted to let you know I don’t see myself posting again until after Allume. Although I have some delicious posts in the cue, I just can’t put them up when I know I won’t have time to meet you in the comments. So unless something really random and not-to-be missed comes along, expect a little quiet around here for the next two weeks. I shall miss you!

P.S. Here’s a picture of me before my first 5K last week (with my running buddy, Kim). I ran, and ran, and ran, and ran and (wait for it…) finished the race and it was exhilarating and exhausting and I’m so glad it’s over. Thanks for cheering me on!

P.S.S. Oh, and one more thing–pray for Julia?