She Came Alive…a post from my husband

So, I head to the Allume Conference tomorrow, this will be my 3rd year attending, my first year as a speaker!  My sweet husband graciously supports me in this and always has, I could never do this without him.  When I saw that one of the husbands of us gals attending Allume will win an iPad, I mentioned it to him and laughed thinking there was no way he would want to “hack my blog” and write a post.  To my great surprise, he did.  He has NO clue how to write on my blog, so of course I have to post it for him, as the tears of gratitude fall.  I do not deserve this man and the amazing support he gives me.

From the mouth of my man…image

The blogging community I believe was made for my wife Carisa. When I met her she was a kindergarten teacher and while we were dating I remember just hanging out with her as she created and prepared for how she was going teach and challenge the students that God had given to her.

Little did we know that five years later we would be in a missionary role at an inner city church, with our own kids pursuing the adventure of homeschooling. I particularly was fearful of it but knew without a shadow of a doubt that she would be amazing. My wife is this amazing creative person and the first little while of homeschooling, though she loved it, I saw some wear.  With our life schedule, she was at home all the time with very little interaction with the outside world.  The moment blogging came into the picture she came alive again.  It seemed to give her the interaction with other moms in similar situations and she was no longer alone with the task of this very important role that God had put her in.  This opened up the floodgates of her creative juices. Carisa has always been one who will find a way to get this out whether it’s through photography, children’s church programs, or organizational ideas.  The blogging world was her niche!  It has been so incredibly beneficial for her, my kids and for myself.  I have spent hours of hearing all about new ideas and friends she has heard and met, which I so gladly love to hear about, ha ha.  Seriously though I don’t mind hearing about it because she has made this a ministry and I have heard so many ways that other moms have ministered to her. 

When she started going to conferences I was in huge support.  It got her out of her fuzzy Mickey Mouse pants, that she loves so dearly and gave her a chance to get dressed and be out with other moms having fun but most of all being spiritually fed. She comes home seeming refreshed ready to tackle the daunting task of being a homeschool mom.

I am honored to be married to such a woman who not only takes this on, but does it with excellence.  If anyone else is reading this I applaud you for taking on the role of wives, moms, and teachers. Thank you for being committed in this and for pursuing the Lord in guidance as He leads you through. As for my wife, I am so thankful for you and all that you do for our kids, for me and for our Lord.  I am truly a blessed man.

So, as I am wiping my tears away as I am posting this, he walks in and says, “you know, I started writing it for the contest, but my words are not about winning an iPad, they are words I needed to say.”

God is Good.  I am a blessed woman. 

Allume ~ The New Relevant

Many of you have heard me speak about my experience attending The Relevant Conference both in 2010, and again in 2011.  I am beyond humbled and honored to share that I have been asked to speak at the conference in 2012! To see my face amidst the faces surrounding mine, wow!


My focus will be Blogging through Homeschooling, I am nervous and very excited to see how God will use me.

Changes have been going on behind the scenes and I am excited to share something brand new with you…image is the new community that offers "Allume Social" (formerly Relevant) all year-round via the sharing of unique stories, blogging, podcasts, videos, and more.

You can read tons more about the changes and everything surrounding Allume on the new website!  Have fun browsing around and I hope to meet even more blogging pals in real life in 2012!

I am currently offline this week, this post was auto published, please forgive any errors there may be!

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Relevant 2011

imageAs many of you know, I was blessed again this year and attended The Relevant Conference.  I was able to go last year also and this year was even BETTER!  Why better you ask?  I was able to meet more of my “friends” in real life.  Women I have known online for years and finally got to hug!

Of course I went again with my long time friend {who I originally met years ago online…Jolanthe {Yo-Lawn-tha}.  6303984725_c4e2cfc2eb_b

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we are a mess, and an even bigger mess together.


This year I had a pretty big crew that I hung around with mostly.  I knew all of these ladies were coming, what I didn’t realize is how amazing they all are.  Seriously, amazing.  I cannot begin to put into words my gratefulness for these new and very REAL friendships.

The ladies you may not recognize {by face} are:


Ever wondered what the 2 Teaching Mommies are like in real life?  They ROCK!  I am so honored to call them friends.  Behind the scenes online and now in real life!6296816021_1e1ced921d_b


Current Totally Tots writers: me, Jolanthe, Jodi and Maureen6300654688_74a195fbef_b


I stole this photo from the Frugal Flamingo’s blog, 2 other ladies I was honored to meet and hang with a lot!  Stacie {Motherhood on a Dime, The Amazing Mess}, and  The Frugal Flamingo {here’s her Relevant 11 post}   image

I don’t have photos with everyone I was able to get to know and I am super bummed about that.  But I was able to spend some real fun quality time {even if just for one simple conversation that I wish would have been more ~ Joy} with these wonderful ladies too:

The conference itself was amazing, just like last year.  I describe it to my husband more like a Christian women’s retreat.  It is uplifting, encouraging, uniting, and full of Jesus!  The theme this year seemed to really scream unity, which is one of the most important things in my online life.  Developing unity, not division-especially amongst the mom bloggers online.  Being a light online is just so very important and I pray I can always live out what I believe in my heart.

Here is the Relevant 2011 Flickr photo stream in case you want to peek! Yes, I am planning to go again next year.  Last year the tickets went on sale on Black Friday and I had one of the first 10 tickets!  That’s my plan again this year, I hope many more of you make it so I can meet you in real life too!

Final Thoughts from Relevant 2010

So, do you think I love my roommate? You can read her thoughts about the conference here and here.jncgiggle


I loved meeting Crystal {Money Saving Mom} and getting to know her better.  Small world to find out we all read each other’s blogs and didn’t know it!j-c-frugal


These 2 ladies rock, I am so honored to have met them IRL and for the time we spent together.  Sara and Tara ~ I look forward to the future ;-).

IMG_8590Sara ~ Happy Brown House,Tara ~ Mommy Missions


My good friend Jill lives close to the conference center so was able to drive in and visit for a few hours on Saturday!  It was awesome to see her and talk for awhile!  She posted about her visit here on her blog!me-c-j


I met Jen within an hour of arriving last Thursday and it was a blast getting to know her!  She is hilarious!j-c-friend


I also loved getting to know Kris {Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers} and although I didn’t get a photo with her, I did take this one!IMG_8606[3]


I was honored to sit in on small group sessions with many of these beautiful ladies below.    IMG_8600


Relevant changed me and I have spent days praying, processing, and talking with my husband {as many attendees have done}.  Ann Voskamp was the final speaker on the last night and God used her in a mighty way.  She said many wonderful things that struck my heart, but I must highlight the one that has stuck with me the most.

She spoke of how a mother duck plucks the feathers from her chest to line her nest.  She doesn’t use discarded feathers, she doesn’t use the worst, she uses the best-and this requires sacrifice.  It is my prayer that I will remember to line my home nest with the best of me, not the leftovers.

I have pages of notes from God’s words spoken through Ann, but that is the one thing that has stuck with me in the most powerful way, I have been in prayer daily over this.

I WILL be going to Relevant 2011 ~ God wiling, and am already excited about it.  It was a weekend filled with Jesus, in a way I never imagined possible at a blogging conference.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I had and pray God will allow me the opportunity again.  I hope to meet a few of you next year! 😉

If you missed my other post about Relevant 2010, you can find it here!

Wisdom from Relevant…

When I signed up to come to The Relevant Conference, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew all along I would come, from the moment I even knew my blogging pal Sarah Mae was thinking about developing the conference, I knew I was “in.” When pre-registration went up last Feb, I immediately signed up along with my friend Jolanthe. We got our tickets and booked our room and counted the months until it would be a reality. All the while having little clue what to expect or why God wanted us there.

There is now here. I am here.

IMG_8582 {Laura from 10 Million Miles-who also used to write for Totally Tots, Jolanthe and me}

I am at Relevant, along with over 200 other like-minded, Christ following bloggers. It is so much more than I ever thought it could be. God is HERE in a BIG way. I am so honored to be a part of this and so honored that He had a plan for me to be here.

We still have another day ahead of us, but I am so filled already I could leave with a full heart filled with gratitude for what he has already given me. There is no way I could adequately put into words what it feels like to be here, to hear the words of wisdom being spoken from such humble and amazing women. I am not one to ooh and ahh over “famous” people, but I am an ooher and ahher over wise people. When I meet someone who I can see God shining through I am in awe and incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to be around that person. That has happened here several times already. I will do my best to share a tidbit of what has filled my hear tin these past 2 days.

Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom, was the keynote speaker on the first night. I had no clue what to expect, but she is someone I have been reading for years as I used to be a CVSer! 😉 She is absolutely wonderful, very real, humble and adorable! Bits of wisdom I have taken away from the wisdom God brought through Crystal…

“If you don’t have time for God, you don’t have time to blog.”

Not even Jesus healed everyone {in reference to not being able to help everyone who comments, emails, etc}

“If you talk yourself out of ministering to someone in your own community {because you use blogging or online commitments as an excuse} your priorities are out of whack.”

“Don’t put guilt on yourself that is not from God.”

Today, Courtney from Women Living Well gave the morning devotion which was awesome, I simply adore her energy. Nuggets of wisdom God brought through Courtney…

Jeremiah 45:5 {a verse Elisabeth Elliot shared with Courtney when she was in college} “Seek great things for thyself, seek them NOT.”

Give your blog to God instead of trying to manipulate it yourself.” {It’s never about ME…that’s what I took from that and am so thankful}

This morning I got to spend breakfast in a room just oozing with God’s wisdom and love, Sally Clarkson at the head of it all. I am blessed to have received 4 of her books which I am excited to read {2 are actually written by her children}. I love being in the company of woman who are further along in their faith journey than I am and soaking up knowledge. A bit of what I soaked up from Sally…

“The older you get the more you realize how sinful you are and how gracious you need to be.”

“Don’t allow someone else’s law to put you under guilt.”

“I love passion but I adore compassion.”

God loves to take normal people to accomplish supernatural things.”

P…urpose {know God’s purpose for YOU}

E…xecpt criticism {be teachable but don’t take criticism to heart}

A…ccept your limitations {there is a cost to every commitment you make}

C…ultivate a heart to God’s message

E…nd well {rest in the Lord}

This morning’s session we got to sit in with a panel of 4 wise women and learned a lot about balancing it all from the 4 {Crystal, Bonita, Kimba and Jen}…

We can’t be anybody else’s Holy Spirit {Jen}

“Know the heart of your individual children as you figure out your balance.” {Jen}

“Always choose real life first“. {Kimba}

Tonight I was blessed beyond words to hear Angie Smith speak. I have cried many tears while reading her story on her blog, her loss is something I cannot even imagine. God is using her in a mighty way and to hear her was awesome. She was funny, humble, and very authentic. She shared many great things but this sums it up and makes me want to ask this to myself and to other blog readers as we evaluate our online lives {while reading other blogs specifically}…

“When you leave a blog, where do you want to run?” {Meaning, how does it make you feel, how does it pull at your heart? Does it leave you feeling horrible or inspired?}

There is SO much more, I could literally go on and on, but I won’t ;-). I still have another day ahead of me! In addition to the wonderful Relevant things going on, Jolanthe and I have had many wonderful hours tucked away quietly in our hotel room working on the 2011 plan for Totally Tots. We are so blessed to be going into our 3rd year with Totally Tots. God is so cool!!!!