First, I’m going to break one of the rules I remember from a particularly helpful workshop at Blissdom (taught by Tsh Oxenrider) by writing several multi-sentence paragraphs in a row, unbroken by any pictures (okay, maybe I’ll add some pictures in between paragraphs after all.) I reserve the right to break the rules! (I feel better knowing that you know that I know what I’m doing is statistically wrong in blogland. I’m at peace.)

Blissdom has been something “on my radar” since the year it was launched. A certain internet pal of mine has pretty much been prodding me to go since the first year. I could never afford the trip and just knew it was beyond my reach. I have never had grand plans for my blog other than it just being my home on the web, my place for expressing myself whether in word or in pictures, my whatever it was, is and is becoming. I didn’t feel that my Whatever-It-Is deserved a special trip that I couldn’t really afford.

I started blogging back in 2006, three years after my husband told me about these “blog things,” at which time I declared them to be obnoxious and only for people who like to hear themselves talk. I’ve backtracked on the obnoxious part but deep down… yeah…. sorta kinda still think we bloggers do like the sounds of our own “voices” in a way (not on the answering machine, mind you. BARF! Hate hearing myself on the answering machine! I sound like a 4 year old mullet-headed boy with a head cold.)

However, I don’t think we all just write to hear ourselves…. We write to meet people, to relate to others, to discover ourselves. I seem to know myself better as I write. I also find that as I write about what God is teaching me through His word and through the world, that I know Him better and hopefully, make Him known.

This year Miss Alli prevailed upon me. Not only did she invite me to be part of an amazing project called Picha Global, she asked if I would join the team of official photographers at Blissdom. There are not a lot of things that will get me to jump on a plane but those two things put together worked!

Picha Global, in short, will be awesome. I can’t wait until it’s all rolled out. You will definitely be hearing more from me about it! I’m beyond excited that I get to be the Online Community Manager for this new venture and that I have gotten to and get to work with some truly amazing individuals (you know who you are!)

My awesome roommie, Carrie.

Blissdom was a whirlwind. And if I’m being honest, I’ll tell you… I came home feeling physically battered. But that has more to do with a rigorous schedule between Picha and Photography and this little thing called Gastroenteritis (yeah. Not fun.) Even with those considerations in mind, I can honestly say that Blissdom’s cup runneth over.

Love. Inspiration. Kindness. Awesome. Genius. Wisdom. Grace. 1000 other good things.

Just a few things that runneth over.

I learned so much. More than I can possibly quantify here. I met so many wonderful people… some whom I’ve known online for years and years! Some whom it seems I have known forever (and who also happen to be awesome roommates!!) Some whose blogs I’ve read off and on for years. And many, many, many, many more. (I wish I could list them all!) I went feeling like I’d probably disappear into the crowd and I left feeling more confident and more uplifted in what God is calling me to do… not disappearing at all.

And now for the pictures. Hold on to your hats people, because I’m not gonna hold back. I’m gonna let you have it!

The last night, someone sweet handed this to me (and one to my awesome roommate) and said, “Y’all are the Queens!” (or something like that. I had gastroenteritis. I can’t remember exact words.) I’ve never been “coronated” before so it was kinda cool, even though I was wearing yoga pants and a green fuzzy sweater.

The lovely Dedra.

My darling friend, Alli.

It was at this moment (in the throes of gastroenteritis) when I thought, “Hmm… is anyone taking pictures of Famous Footwear announcing the winner of this Shoe Crazy shoe spree? I’d better go take a picture.” Aaaand, you guessed it. They called my name. I should be receiving the 5 pairs of shoes in the mail very soon. I ran and retrieved (and came very close to puking on) shoes like a crazy woman.

As I posed for my picture afterwards, holding up 5 magnificent pairs of shoes (keep your eyes opened for a giveaway of some hot pink wedges, by the way) I had to clutch my belly and pray that I did not vomit. That wouldn’t have been a very nice thing to do to the awesome sponsors.

Earlier that day (I’m going backwards. Can you tell?) we were treated to a great performance by Chris Mann. The dude can sing. And I like purple stage lights. I like stage lighting.

I like light.

Oh. I like taking pictures also.

Dedra and the wonderful Sue Duffield who saved my day and brought me Advil in my hour of need, rescuing me from a wrenching headache and the beginnings of a fever. THANK YOU SUE! (Isn’t Sue a genius with the floral arrangements in the urinals? Made you go check out her blog, didn’t I?)

Tyler Merrick, founder of Project 7, was one of the most inspirational speakers I heard at Blissdom. Granted, there were a lot that I didn’t get the opportunity to hear, but I was truly inspired and humbled by what God has called him to and what He is doing through him, Lindsey Nobles and Project 7.

Justin McCullough (talking to Tyler in above photo) is also an incredibly neat guy who I’d been introduced to on Twitter before Blissdom, whose talk, sadly, I was unable to attend because I had a crazy schedule that kept me hopping like a crazed bunny with a camera. I plan to watch it on video as soon as possible.

Karen Hammons is a new friend that I met on Twitter before going to Blissdom and then I met her in person about 5 seconds after taking this photo. About 3 minutes later I sat down to hear Tyler speak and suddenly my phone buzzed and I saw that Karen had already tweeted that it was great to meet me. Now that’s just pure sweetness.

And then… you know…. A little group called Rascal Flatts. Meh. Happens every. day. ((yawn))

(yeah right)

This was very cool even though I am not what you might consider a country music fan. This was undeniably awesome. (click any of these pictures to get to my photostream if you want to see anymore pictures.)

They put on a very good show. Great senses of humor, those guys.

Super sweet ladies of Studio Jewel who are not only abundantly kind but also incredibly talented. Go and see Lisa’s gorgeous work and buy some of it on Etsy.

Joe Jonas opened for Rascal Flatts. I have to say, he did a great job. I think I was having my fourth baby when he graduated 8th grade possibly. This doesn’t make me feel old at all. No. Not at all.

I met Tania in between Joe Jonas and Rascal Flatts. We sat on the floor and talked about photography and music and what else? I can’t remember. I just remember that she is a darling, sweet girl whom I wish I could talk to in person more! And look at this picture of her! Hello. I love it.


and more Joe…

Yes, I was that close. No zoom involved.

Carrie and Maggie. Maggie is a sweetheart. I was so amazed by the teenagers that I met at Blissdom.

Exceptional young ladies. And FUN!

One of the many great speakers I was blessed to hear. As you can tell, we were learning about likeability. It’s really important online. You gotta be likeable.

Speaking of likeable…. Alli Worthington is all that and a bag of chips. And Me Ra Koh is amazing, beautiful, down to earth, funny, wise and full of heart (not to mention insanely talented.)

Moosh. I adore her. She’s kind, fun, warm and genuine. I wish I could have actually gotten to know her more. I did succeed in pestering her at 7 a.m. and at all other ungodly hours for a card-reader and other camera related items. Thanks to her and Alli I was able to shoot with the setup to which I am accustomed. Again… another incredibly talented woman as well.

Alli introduces Picha Global…..

And her wonderful friends support her. I loved the looks on their faces as they watched Picha being unveiled.

John Acuff gave the opening keynote presentation. He is hilarious. And manages to be incredibly convicting at the same time. Also kind and generous as he gave us each a copy of his new book, Quitter.

Meghan, of Velveteen Mind, is obviously a woman who has vision and heart and a beautiful gift of writing. I tell you, Blissdom is overflowing with women of both heart and talent.

Danielle Smith daily makes me smile with her desire to hear the good that people are experiencing in their lives. And it’s clear to me that she knows that good shines forth through the shadows… I love it that she draws it out daily through her voice on Twitter.

Nathan Pacheco. Yet another talented individual who shared the gift of music with us at Blissdom. This man can sing. Oh my goodness.

The acoustics of the Opryland Hotel only magnified the clarity and strength of his voice. It was so nice, as a Mom who spends most of the time at home with a bunch of rowdy boys, to be able to experience things like this… I know this may sound so silly but… it felt so grown-up. When you are with kids all the time, that is really important now and then.

STUFF!! There were so many sponsors and SO many goodies, I literally could not take them all home. I am hoping that Samsonite will sponsor next year and give us all an extra suitcase to bring all of the goodies home!

Small world goodness. This is Alece of Grit & Glory and Daniel C. White who works for Food for the Hungry. Let’s just call this connection a “God thing” and leave it at that. I’m so glad I was able to meet both of these people in person even if just for a few moments. Next time – longer… more talking!

And that is just the beginning….


4 thoughts on “Blissdom Beginnings…

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