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.

string-lights

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.

About Amanda

Hi! I'm Amanda. I love Jesus, good friends, good books, good food, and Texas. I am married to the handsome Daniel Espinoza. I homeschool my 3 young children. Follow me on Twitter: @AmandaEspi or on Google+

38 Responses to Going Into The Highways for Hospitality: My Allume Experience

  1. LeeAnn Taylor {The Mosaic Life} October 27, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    I love that you shared this story! Allume indeed was wonderful with many God-appointed moments! 🙂

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

      Thank you, LeeAnn! I agree, so many cool moments happened at Allume. And how did we not run into each other? Or maybe we did? So many people! I kept reading twitter handles instead of names. 🙂

      • LeeAnn Taylor {The Mosaic Life} October 27, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

        I know – so many people! I was working registration but was on the M-Z side, so I probably missed you there. At least we have the shared experiences though!

  2. Barefoot Hippie Girl October 27, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I am so privileged to be blessed with such a brave and generous friend. It took courage to do every step of what you did. The original planning, all the inviting, the compelling. God rewarded your hospitality initiative by bringing the people had in mind to your table. I am so inspired by your example. Thanks for letting me be your partner in crime.

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      Bernadette, I can’t thank you enough for your help and encouragement this weekend! Thank you!

  3. Kristin Smith October 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Amanda – I LOVE this. How brave you are! 🙂

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

      Thank you for reading my story, Kristin! ☺️

  4. Shelly Miller October 27, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    You are a living illustration of listening to a message and then putting your faith into action. What an inspiring story. And an after party is something I’ve never thought about doing. Great idea for future conferences. Sorry our paths didn’t cross at Allume.

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

      Shelly, I got the idea from our friend, Chris Lema, who is always quick to pick up a restaurant check and is very intentional about who he invites to dinner at a conference. He is pro at conferences and connecting with people. Thank you for reading my story!

  5. Shelly R October 27, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Faith in action. I so love your brave! God always shows up and blows away anything we could have planned. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Tiffany October 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    This is awesome! I love how your little after party worked out. I know exactly how it feels to plan something and have no one show up. It’s so discouraging, so I’m really glad God provided people for your table and fellowship for your heart!

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

      Tiffany, thank YOU for welcoming me to Allume. I showed up and you helped me with the gift bags. It was nice to be able to chat with someone right then. Thank you for reading my story today.

  7. Tonya Salomons October 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    I love this story!!! I met up with one of the 4 you invited in and she told me all about it! What a beautiful way to end a conference.

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

      Tonya, thank you for all you did this weekend to help all the newbies and to welcome everyone. You have such an important job! Thank you for stopping by and reading the whole story. I really should have introduced myself. I follow all your studies through Twitter and people who live up north fascinate me. 🙂

  8. Logan Wolfram October 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    Amanda,
    I just love this so much! I met one of the ladies you invited in on an elevator and she shared the story with me and I just absolutely adore that you took the messages to heart right then and stepped out in faith! So so good! Cheers to you girl and I hope that this is just the beginning of opening doors to streets of strangers for you! Heaps of blessing on you!
    Logan

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

      Logan, thank you so much for reading my story. It means a lot to me. When I made the reservation on Thursday I didn’t know the theme was hospitality. Spending time with people always makes sense to me. 🙂 THANK YOU for all that you did seen and unseen this weekend. I know the Lord sees your heart and every detail you poured into this conference. So many people are grateful for your leadership. I’m praying for you a deep time of refreshment. Thank you!

  9. Arielle clay October 27, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    I love this! God’s plans are always way bigger and better than our own! It was great chatting with you the other day after so long.

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

      Arielle! Yes, it was so good to hear everything you are doing and see your beautiful kiddos. Thanks for reading my story. Yeah, I’ve seen God provide in many way, but I’ve never seen him provide people. I am encouraged in my faith once again.

  10. Michelle C October 27, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

    Wow, great story – I would have felt very vulnerable doing what you did. Sometimes we just need to step out in faith.

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

      Michelle, I did a lot of stepping out in faith at the conference. I tried to go with every impulse that I had. Now that I am home I have no regrets. I hope I continue to be impulsive and you are encouraged to step out too. 😉

  11. Heather October 27, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    well stink. I am so mad that I scheduled a flight which required a 4 am wake-up call. Because it forced me to be all “responsible” and go to my room early Saturday night instead of saying “yes” to your invitation. what an absolute honor it was to have been asked. for you to boldly approach me and say, “I’m having this thing. I like you. Wanna come?” was so flattering. Isn’t that what we all want? To be seen. To be valued. And to be included. Thank you for doing that for me. I’m sorry I couldn’t return the favor. you are a gem. keep inviting people. . .especially the ones on the street. 😉

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

      Ha ha, thank you so much Heather! It’s true, that is exactly what we all want especially at a large conference. A 4 a.m. wake up call is awful and should be outlawed. Planes shouldn’t be allowed to have 6:00 a.m. boarding times. Well, maybe there are a few morning people that like that sort of thing. 😉

  12. Anna Rendell October 27, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    I was one of the lucky ladies blessed to have been invited in from the street! Amanda, sometimes I forget how plain fun God is. You were my reminder this weekend. As one who does a lot of inviting (and you know my people don’t always show up), I can’t tell you how grateful and humbled and plain old happy I was to be invited in. Thank you for making us all feel so welcome and special. You made a memory I’ll treasure!

    • Amanda October 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

      Anna, thank you for coming in and being so kind and sharing your story. It’s funny how it all worked out. It was super fun getting to know you better and having a good time after a long weekend. Thank you again!

  13. Betsy October 28, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    Amanda, you are one brave girl! What a great story. God had other plans for your after party than you did. (Other guests, I mean.) I love the connection with scripture. So glad to read a bit about Allume, maybe I’ll go next year…

    • Amanda October 30, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Betsy, you should definitely go to Allume! It’s a conference unlike any other one. The focus is more than just the mechanics of blogging. It’s about the relationship of living the life you are made to live and then how to share to your story and other people’s stories. I love that it’s a middle place between a Bible study and blogger conference.

  14. Jess Wolstenholm October 28, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Amanda, this experience pretty much sums up the entire weekend. Thank you for being obedient and brave and answering the call to invite people in. Such an inspiration to me!

    • Amanda October 30, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      It does sum it up, doesn’t it? I hope we all get brave and invite people in. Allume was so much fun.

  15. Dawn Camp October 29, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    Amanda, I’m one of those lucky ladies who received your invitation on the street and I’m actually in the middle of writing about this, too!

    • Amanda October 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

      Ha! I’m just glad you didn’t think I was too crazy. Ha ha. Thank you for writing about it. You absolutely did not have to do that. I just love a fun night out on the town. 🙂

  16. Dianne October 29, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    Fabulous story!! I love it. I’m here from Dawn Camp’s blog, having just read her take on it. What a cool story on both sides. God is just amazing!! <3

    • Amanda October 30, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

      God IS amazing! Thank you for reading my story and Dawn’s! 🙂

  17. Marla Taviano October 30, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

    I love this, friend. You are so brave. And I love what it turned out to be. xoxoxo

  18. Alia Joy October 30, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    I love this so much, Amanda. I worried about the invite because the time was approaching and I thought I’d be there because it was a beautiful invitation and I had so much fun getting to know you the year before and I’ve always thought Bernadette was so kind and thoughtful from the first time I met her at Influence and the other Allumes, but I was in a conversation with someone and I knew that being all there one on one was where I needed to be. And I did like Myquillin said and let it go and stayed present and trusted God to do what He does best with my yes and my no. And then later I got to hear from all of my friends what a huge blessing they had getting to know this girl named Amanda who round them all up and blessed their socks off. This made me so happy! I cherish that invite and I love that you didn’t let anything stop you from reaching out. And I’ll be honest I was a little jealous my night didn’t include truffle fries.

  19. Denise November 1, 2014 at 6:17 am #

    I adore this! I didn’t get to go to Allume this year (heavy sigh) but I would have loved to been someone at your table. The beauty of this story is welcoming of those not “invited” but yet wanted. Beautiful!

  20. Kristin November 3, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    I love that you stepped out in faith, not knowing what might happen (it’s something that’s easy to talk about, but harder to put into practice, at least for me). I love the faith and generosity you illustrated, and I’m sorry we didn’t meet at Allume — maybe next year!

  21. Christa Sterken November 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    What a fantastic story! I love it, so sorry we didn’t meet at Allume. That is my kind of night…maybe next year 🙂

  22. Christa Sterken November 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    What a fantastic story! I love it, so sorry we didn’t meet at Allume. That is my kind of night…maybe next year 🙂