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…
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.
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)