Going Into The Highways for Hospitality: My Allume Experience

I didn’t know if anyone was going to show. I was standing at the hostess stand with my friend Bernadette waiting for the hostess to prepare a large table for 12, but no one else was there.

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This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to attend Allume, a Christian women’s blogger conference in Greenville, South Carolina. I was a lot less nervous on this second trip to Allume. I didn’t feel the need to promote my blogs or to shove my business card into as many hands as possible. My goal was to learn, absorb, and meet other bloggers. I reminded myself that other people are more interesting than me and I need to ask more about them, rather than constantly talking about myself.

Making plans for a night out

One of the ways I wanted to get to know people better was to host my own after party when the conference was over on Saturday night. I had a hard time meeting people at the after parties last year, so I decided to host my own. My friend, Bernadette, and I walked up and down Main Street on Thursday reading menus and asking about closing times. We settled on a restaurant and made a reservation for 12 people on Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. All we had to do now was invite people to come.

Over the next two days of the conference whenever I met someone I wanted to know better I invited them to my table. I told a few ladies how I was hosting my own drinks and appetizers and I would love for them to come if they wanted a break from being inside the hotel. One of my favorite parts of being at a conference is being able to go out without my kids. I really wanted to share that joy of being untethered and being out on the town. As I invited people no one gave me a definite yes that they would come.

Saturday afternoon the restaurant called to confirm my reservation for the evening. I was tempted to call the whole thing off, but I stayed the course and nervously said, “Yes, we will be there!” I kept invited more people and I had no idea who was coming.

It’s time for the party and no one is there

The conference ended and soon the clock struck 9:00 p.m. Bernadette and I left the hotel just in case someone remembered and was already at the restaurant waiting. We arrived at the restaurant and no one was there. We hadn’t seen anyone we invited leaving the hotel either. I asked the hostess if she could turn the table for 12 into a table for 8.

As Bernadette and I were waiting for the hostess to change the table seating I saw four ladies from Allume standing outside looking up at the restaurant sign. One I recognized as someone I had tweeted with during the week prior. I recognized another as someone I follow on Twitter. None of these ladies knew me. I looked at Bernadette and said, “Should I go ask them?” Of course, my supportive friend said, “Yes!”

God provides people

I burst out the door and said to them, “I know this may sound crazy. I was planning my own after party and no one is here. I’d love to buy you some appetizers and drinks. Would you like to come in?” As they stepped towards the door they said with big smiles, “How could we say no?”

I was thinking of Sophie Hudson’s talk from earlier in the afternoon about Elizabeth and Mary. They could have rejected each other when Mary found out she was pregnant, but they didn’t. I knew these ladies could have said, “No thank you, we were looking for ice cream” and be on their way. I would have accepted this response and thought nothing of it. Instead, they took a chance and came in to break bread with this crazy lady they didn’t know.

As they sat down one lady saw the huge table and asked me, “We were planning on a few more joining us, is it okay if they come?” My heart sang when I replied, “Of course!” Another lady told me, “We just left the hotel walking to see what would happen.” I told her that I left the hotel hoping people would show up. I think both of us knew something special had just happened.

Soon a few more ladies and a husband showed up and slid into their seats. Only one of the ladies I had personally invited came. Thankfully the table ended up holding a lot more than 8 people even though the hostess had already decreased the table size. I had so much fun ordering a bunch of appetizers, watching as everyone ordered their beverage, and discussed television and movies.

We even continued discussing the hospitality theme from the conference and talked about what happens when you host something, but no one shows up. These ladies were very gracious to me and never once made feel like a loser for planning something that barely anyone attended.

Instead of feeling like a failure or feeling rejected I was amazed at God’s provision. He brought people to my little party at the last moment. I was praying all along and kept going in faith even though I was nervous. Of course, the worst case scenario was enjoying an evening with my friend and roommate, Bernadette, at a rather large table for two. That wouldn’t have been bad at all! The worst case scenario didn’t happen and I was blown away by the gift God had given me that night. He gave me the gift of fellowshipping with some really cool ladies and a fun night out at a restaurant.

Sometimes hospitality means inviting people from the street

After everyone left to go back to the hotel Bernadette reminded me of a parable in the Bible. She reminded me of the man who was holding a wedding feast and ended up going into the highways to fill his table (Matthew 22: 1-14).

Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding. So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. – Matt. 22:9-10, NKJV

Bernadette and I giggled over the fact that I literally went out into the street to invite people to come to the prepared table inside the restaurant. I was so glad they came and I think everyone had a good time.

The theme of the conference was hospitality in your home, in your heart for yourself, in your blog, and in the world. At Allume I learned that hospitality is risky, but God is faithful to show up when you take a chance.

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