I love nothing more than to cheer on my people when they are doing big things, and there are three women in my life who have done some big things lately. Friends, meet Colleen, Joy Beth, and Melanie. These are their precious babies—this is the part where we all stare and ooh and aah and then ask to hold their bundles of joy.
Colleen and I met online first and in real life at the Allume Conference several months later. She and her husband run the St. Francis Emmaus Center at St. Bryce Mission in Costa Rica, a pregnancy hostel for women from the Cabecar reservation. Colleen was featured as a Mama of the Month at Somebody’s Mama, and we partnered with her on a project a few years ago. Colleen wrote Who Does He Say You Are?, a beautiful book that weaves together the stories of women from the Bible with her personal testimony about motherhood, loss, and missions work. I am not Catholic, so it was fascinating to read Colleen’s perspective through the lens of her Catholic faith. While reading, I found myself doing that mmmmmmm noise a lot that means, “Yes, all of this. So much this.” You can purchase her book online and follow everything Colleen writes at Blessed Are the Feet.
I met Joy Beth at the Allume Conference, where she was womanning the One Million Thumbprints table. She would tell me later that she thought I was little scary (who, little ol’ me?). Five months later, we were standing on top of Mount Kilimanjaro together. This woman is as sugary as South Carolina sweet tea but as fierce and brave as just about any other person I’ve ever met. Recently, she wrote an article called “Fat. Single. Christian.” at Boundless, where she works as editor. The article got picked up by the Washington Post and received a lot of feedback online, prompting her to start a podcast about her ongoing struggles with weight, dating, and faith. My husband and I have been listening, and we’ve learned so much. If you’re a podcasty person, check out Stop, No, Weight. You can also follow Joy Beth’s work for Christian singles at Boundless.
I followed Melanie Dale online for awhile and then met her in real life at the Allume Conference, as well. We shared an awkward hug and an awkward conversation about her book Women Are Scary, and then I spent the rest of the conference wondering if she thought I was weird. Kidding. Kind of. But then, she came out with her new book It’s Not Fair: Learning to Love the Life You Didn't Choose, and YOU GUYS, I read it in like five minutes—partially because Melanie put in a lot of fun drawrings (said in my best Simon voice), but also because the truth in this book will set you free. I have walked a similar theme (different plot points) when it comes to catching life’s curveballs, and exactly one day after finishing the book, I delivered chicken noodle soup, a fuzzy blanket, a card, popsicles, and my already worn out copy of It’s Not Fair directly to the porch of one of my favorite friends who is having a terrible time of it right now. I’m going to order a few more copies for several other people who need this book and to keep on hand for any other friends who are doing hard things. You can also follow all of Melanie's musings at Unexpected.
Okay, I just realized that I met all of these women in real life for the first time at the Allume Conference. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure that out. I talked about how (not) excited I was about Allume in my e-book, Lectio, (still available for download for any donation to Somebody’s Mama). You guys, I did not want to go to this pretty conference with precious women, but I ended up connecting with all three of these bright lights, so I stand corrected. I hope you’ll check out what these women are doing with their art—we can learn so much from listening to other people’s stories!