Thursday, November 17, 2016

It Was A Tuesday; When Jesus Hugged Me.




Last Tuesday night,
with only a hug;
without even an exchange of words,
my soul came alive.

After coming home from DTS last August,
where God was made more real to me than ever,
naturally, I wondered what the "new normal" would be like.

In the meantime,
daily duty, and obligation
set its claws into my routine.
This "put your head down"
and keep pushing mentality
became my everyday.
And I've only recently realized that,
my soul has struggled to find rest.

Imagine breathing in short inhales of air,
until your lungs are completely full.
Then, only exhale enough air to breathe in a
very small amount of air, so that your lungs
remain at capacity after each inhale.

After a while, your body becomes tense;
your muscles unable to relax because you
haven't exhaled in a while.

And if you can translate that into
an emotional "breathing pattern,"
that is how my soul has been living
for the past few weeks.

It's like I was blindsided.
Taking on more and more obligations
at the expense of freedom.
I wasn't aware of my restlessness
until this moment,
on a Tuesday night
when I felt my soul finally exhale.

Jon and I walked into our sweet friends' home,
for our Tuesday night church group.
We hadn't been in a while because
of life.
--No, not because of life. Life is what you make it.
Because of routine.
And keeping my head down and unaware of how
my soul was really doing.

We walked in the door and I saw my friend
coming from the kitchen to greet us.
She immediately hugged me hello.
I quickly realized that this wasn't a traditional,
"Hi, i'm going to hug you because it's what
we do in American Culture" type hug,
my soul was being embraced.

She said, "how are you?"
I was surprised with how quickly my eyes filled with tears.
This wasn't the traditional, "I'm asking how are you
with the expectation of the answer being 'good,' so that
we can move on with the evening," type question either,

It was a question that said,
"I care for you, I see you,
it's good to see you, and I've missed you" all at once.

At first, I tried to fight the emotions naturally
happening inside of me;
but I knew better.

It was a hug that lasted all of 15 seconds,
and yet, Jesus met me in that moment.
He prompted my friend to care for me
in the simplest, yet deepest way because
He knew what I needed.
Even if I was completely oblivious.

The freedom that Christ extends is like no other.
Having not attended our Tuesday night church group for a few weeks,
I naturally experienced feelings of guilt,
and embarrassingly, almost to the point of not going at all,
in order to avoid feeling bad about our recent attendance.

But Jesus reminded me,
through my friend.
That tonight, "He's just glad I'm there."
In that moment, I was reminded that
He just wants my heart,
no matter how many times I forget,
and have to give it to Him all over again.

Afterwards, I sat in their living room,
listening to songs of worship,
letting the Love of Jesus gently wash over me.

May I never forget this.

And so I sit and ask myself.
What do I need to remain free?
What is it that keeps my soul out of the
confines of routine, obligation, and duty?
What is it that keeps my mind, heart, and soul
alive and aware of the freedom that Jesus Christ brings?

I think that in order to feel "at rest,"
I must create.

Writing.
Photography
Painting.
Music.

The desire is always there,
and I'm learning that it will become
cold and dormant if not continuously awakened.

What is it that helps you live in the freedom that Christ has given you?


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When God Says, "No."

For the past 8 months,
I've sat in a medical mystery.

A plethora of symptoms
have only managed to 
mature into seemingly
unrelated puzzle pieces.

Nothing that is life-threatening,
but potentially life-altering.

I don't have a
diagnosis or any helpful
findings to report yet,
but rather,
how God has gotten
a hold of my heart
and brought me out 
of the pit of hopelessness,
and into the light of His
greater purpose. 

A SHORT SEGMENT OF MEDICAL JARGON in PLAIN ENGLISH

To spare you the endless
details I could share with you,
here's a short, extremely
condensed version of
what's been going on:

-For nearly the past year,
I've had unexplained lower
abdomen pain/discomfort.

-I've had a few tests done,
eliminated certain foods,
explored essential oils,
educated myself on
natural medicine, tried alkalizing
my entire body, etc,
trying to put our finger
on the source, but have
come up with nothing
definitive.

-Blood tests show a raised reverse T3
hormone level, basically signaling
that my body knows it's
under stress from some
unknown abnormality.

-Plus the already stated
unexplained lower abdominal discomfort,
and constant lower back pain.

Given my symptoms,
and medical history,
the closest we've gotten,
is the potential for me to have
Interstitial Cystitis 
(yeah, it has a lot of letters that
make an "S" sound.)
We'll just call it "IC.")

Anyways, "IC" is:
"Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder. Its cause is unknown."

**Note: I decided to keep the "its cause is unknown" part because especially if I have IC, and with the risk of sounding crass, I'm refusing to believe that it just came from no where and nothing can be done. Also I will probably be writing another blog about this exact thing later.

ANYWAYS
Until I have the IC test done
to confirm or deny this
in the next month or so,
I will remain a mystery,
with more tests coming up
next week, to rule out other possibilities.

NOW, JUST TO BE CLEAR...
I won't, for a minute, pretend to
be on the same playing field
as those with debilitating
illnesses, that affect every aspect
of their lives.
I won't even pretend to understand
what life is like for someone
with something like chronic headaches.

Let alone those who face
diseases like,
cancer, ALS, heart conditions,
lyme disease, autoimmune diseases,
the list goes on.
Those people are STRONG,
and I've heard amazing stories from each.

But I will say,
when you haven't felt
"healthy" for nearly a year,
it does begin to take a toll on you.
And it does begin to affect
different aspects of your life.

It affects my energy.
It affects my diet.
It affects my marriage.
It affects my sanity.
It affects my thoughts about myself.
It affects my confidence.
It affects my self-esteem.
It affects my relationship with God.
It affects my comfort.
It affects my life.

THE "WHY ME" MONSTER...
When I first realized
that something really was wrong,
and my symptoms weren't just "going away,"
I was mad at God.
I was mad that He has complete ability
to heal me from this condition,
but no matter how many times
and how faithfully I asked Him,
He says, "No."

"But God," I'd say,
"don't you remember that Jonathan
and I are leaving for YWAM in April
for 6 months? Don't you want us to be
full-time missionaries one day?!
How am I going to EAT,
when the MAJORITY of food
I'll eat while across the world
could send my bladder into
a fit of feeling like a fire-breathing
dragon is occupying it's space!?"

Then my every thought
became infested with the
"why me" monster
followed by the self-pity disease
rearing its ugly face.

I found myself depressed about
my unknown condition.
And angry at the mystery case
I was and remain to be.

BUT GOD...
Then, one morning, God
got a hold of me.
He said,
"I made all the delicate, inner parts of your body, and knit you together in your mother's womb."
-Psalm 139:13

And with those words,
came these thoughts,

"He knows."
and 
"He sees me."
"Whatever is going on in my body
that He won't take away,
He knew of the exact day it
would present itself,
in my life,
before I was ever born.

And because He sees me,
it means He sees
my frustration,
my fear,
my hurt,
my anger,
my hopelessness.
And yet,
still chooses not to heal me.

And if a God who knows and sees me
refuses to heal me,
then there must be some greater purpose
for allowing this trial in my life.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." -James 1:2-4

"Consider it pure joy..."
JOY
Joy is waking up every morning,
hungry to sit in God's presence,
desperately needing His
comfort and peace,
and watching as He lovingly
uses my weakness to draw me
into His strength.
To help teach me how to need
Him more, and in turn,
how to love Him more.

Ironically, knowing that I will
look back later in life, and
"miss" those trying times
with God that "tested my faith"
but were such sweet moments
because I'd never felt closer to Him.

"...the testing of your faith produces perseverance..."
PERSEVERANCE
Perseverance is with every new morning,
choosing to believe that:
1. God is good.
2. God loves me.
3. God has a good plan for me.
4. Therefore, God can be trusted.

And, oh, I have my moments,
and I'm fully aware that the moments
will continue,
when I whine and complain
and allow the "why me"
monster to pay a visit.

When I'm in a pit of despair,
and listen to those lies of,
"you'll never be pain-free again."
or
"this will ruin your marriage."

Then, God will laugh,
scoop me up in His arms the way He does,
and say, "I'm the same yesterday,
today, and tomorrow." -Hebrews 13:8

And I realized the only thing that's changed
is my perspective.

And by the way,
IMPROV PRAISE JESUS MOMENT...
God has blessed me with such a supportive husband.
Jonathan is so loving, gentle, patient, and understanding
about whatever chaos is going on inside of my body.
What a teammate.

And lastly,
"Let perseverance finish the work, so that you may be complete..."
COMPLETE
Being complete is
the finish line.
This won't truly happen until I get to heaven,
but, speaking solely about this circumstance,
"Completeness" will come when I'm
truly able to stand in front of someone
going through what I've gone through,
look them in the eyes,
and say, "I understand. I've been there."
And mean it.

You see,
even the most devoted Christ followers
in the Bible had circumstances that God
refused to take away, like Paul and
the "thorn in his side."
He asks the Lord to take it away
THREE times in his life.
And this is a thorn that he 100% believes
will KEEP him from doing what the Lord
has asked him to do.
And God says, "no."

And Paul refuses to give up.
And chooses to keep believing in a good God.
And had a greater faith
and a closer relationship with God,
than I've ever seen before.

And so by the grace of God,
with this circumstance,
He's brought me peace.
Peace by knowing that
a GOOD God,
Who deeply LOVES me,
KNOWS me,
and SEES me,
is choosing to teach me something
greater,
than if He were to simply bring
immediate healing.


Friday, June 26, 2015

The Gain of the Battle.

We live in fear of the battle.
Like a child treading water,
desperately trying to keep his head above the surface.
Or an airplane, struggling to stay above the clouds.

As if sinking below the clouds
or being pulled beneath the water's surface
will be the end of us.

We pray for safety, success, and ease.
and dread the days of pain, failure, and struggle.

And when those days come,
because they do come,
we yearn to get back above the clouds
and our heads above the water's surface again.

We live for safety.

We fear the battle.

But what if the battle is where we come alive?

Where we learn the end of ourselves
And see the true glory of Jesus?

Where our vulnerability comes out,
and we realize that who we really are
is already loved and is accepted,
and not just the parts of us that felt "safe" to be and share.

Where we learn to truly fight
for what matters most,
to come out on the other side,
equipped and fully prepared to
love in a new amazing way.

...What if where we come alive is
at the bedside of a loved one in the ICU?

...What if where we come alive is
at the dinner table of a marriage that is ending
and desperately needs to be fought for?

...What if where we come alive is
hitting rock bottom after having failed?

...What if where we come alive is
standing in front of a room and
proclaiming what is true?
...What if where we come alive is
in the arena,
with bloodied hands and blackened eyes,
and a spirit full of joy,
after having fought the fight,
and claimed the victory?

...What if where we come alive is
sacrificing our lives for the freedom
of a people who don't know Christ?

...What if where we come alive is
what we fear the most?

Dive into the battle.
The "safety" of the world is fleeting,
but the safety the Lord promises is wherever He resides.

For where the Lord is present,
there is victory.

He doesn't promise freedom from struggle
and oppression,
but victory in the presence of danger.

Dive into the battle.
And breathe for the first time.




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Come As You Are.

This blog post was inspired while listening to the song "Come As You Are" by David Crowder.

We live in a broken world.
One where there is much tragedy.
It would seem that there is a debilitating
presence of hurt amongst the loved ones
around me.

Maybe you're a mother who's just lost her son,
a man who's just lost his brother.

Maybe you're a missionary who's
finding that their once broken hearts
for the people they are serving,
are instead becoming hearts of anger,
bitterness, and hopelessness.

Maybe you're a woman anxiously
waiting for her sister to wake up from a coma,
just so you can talk with her again.

Maybe you're a wife desperately
wishing your husband would pursue
you, or a husband desperately wishing
your wife would encourage and
acknowledge what you can do,
rather than what you can't.

Maybe you're parents,
watching your little girl go through
an illness that you so wish
you could take away.

Maybe you're a teenage girl,
frantically running away from
all of the things you know hurt you
but unsure of what is safe anymore.

Maybe you're just angry and have
a hundred misconceptions about God.
Maybe you blame Him for everything
that is wrong in your life.

Maybe you're a grown man,
torn up for your family or your friend
who doesn't know Jesus,
wanting so badly for them
to meet Him and be healed by Him.

Maybe you're a grown woman,
who's harboring anger and unforgiveness,
but can't find the strength to just let it go
and choose to forgive.

"Earth has no sorrow 
      that Heaven can't heal."


Come as you are.
Come as you are.
Come exactly as broken, helpless,
shameful, burdensome as you are.
And find rest.

God is a God who heals.
He heals broken hearts,
broken lives,
broken relationships,
broken minds,
and broken bodies.

Not even death itself
can over take us if we are in Christ Jesus,
for He has overcome even death itself.
There is no thing on this Earth
that can keep us in darkness.
If we choose Jesus,
then He is the light.
For the darkness has NOT overcome it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Year of Fear.

Well, it happened.
Since I've been able
to hand write my ABC's,
I've been familiar with
the term "writer's block,"
but I never really understood it,
until now.

Looking at my most recent blog post,
dated July 11th, 2013,
gave birth to a great understanding
and to a great mystery all at once.

I can honestly say that I really haven't
given much thought as to why I haven't written
in nearly a year,
I've only missed it.

I've missed it like
a distant friend you can always count on
for a good time each time you're together,
even with wide lengths of time in
between each visit.
But my friend just wouldn't show up.
"Oh well," I would say.

Could it be that since most
of my writings have come from a place
of great passion, curiosity, and courage,
overflowing with the desire to share with others,
that my lack of writing begets
a state of misunderstanding,
paired with a void of curiosity,
courage, and a lack of passion?

Well, this past week,
I figured out where I've been
for the past year.
I now understand why I've stopped writing.

I stopped leaping.

The last blog I posted was
3 months before my wedding.
As you can imagine,
my focus easily changed from
curiosity and discovery,
to wedding and perfection.
I had to fight to keep my thoughts
fixed on the Lord and on the joy
of marriage, rather than the wedding.

Then, I got married.
I was given the incredible gift
of a husband.
A man to do life with each day.
To struggle with,
to laugh with,
to worship Jesus with,
to go to battle with,
to love with.

And I got scared.
So I stopped leaping.
I stopped stepping to the cliff edge
every morning,
with God's arms stretched out wide
on the other side,
gently coercing me to "jump."

I stopped taking the leap that said,
"whatever happens, I'm not afraid.
The Lord loves me and His
plans for me are good.  Therefore,
I could free falls off this cliff backwards,
and know I'll be okay.
I was fearless.
I was so afraid of messing up
this amazing gift that was just
given to me,
bound with my own expectations
of perfection and drowning in
my own fear of failure and abandonment.

So I backed off from the cliff edge.
And decided to "protect"myself
from the dangers on the other side.

I haven't been writing,
because I haven't felt I had anything
uplifting to share.

I've been drowning in fear
of what might happen,
how my marriage might fail,
and how I could screw it all up.
I've allowed the evil one to come in
and strip me of my joy.
And instead,
bind me in anxiety and worry.

The feeling of drowning,
in my opinion,
is the worst feeling on this Earth.
It's an enormous chain,
that won't move by our own strength,
pulling us deeper and deeper under the
surface of the water,
telling us we'll never be free,
so we might as well stop trying.

But the part that's even worse,
is amidst all of my worrying,
all of my "what if's,"
I've missed out on something precious.
I've missed out on part of today.
And of yesterday.
And of the day before.
And of everyday since July 11th, 2013
that I've decided to worry instead of rejoice.

Somebody once said, "there's no room
for worry when we're busy rejoicing."
It's like running a marathon and eating
an ice cream cone at the same time.

So what to do?
Surely not continue to back away from the cliff edge.

Shall I sit and become overwhelmed
with regret of missing out on the
moments I chose to worry rather
than be joyful in the present moment?

Or shall I just jump?
And be fearless?
"A real risk is the evidence
of a belief."
Therefore, if I truly
believe that God is good,
His plans for me are good,
and I trust Him,
why and how could I not live
my life in a way that makes
my belief evident?

So,
there it is.
it's time to be fearless again.
To stop worrying about what might happen.
And start rejoicing in what is happening.

There's just more joy that way.









Thursday, July 11, 2013

Brain Yak.

A thousand thoughts
swim through my mind
each awaiting the attention
of something to give it meaning.

Like the way we so easily
forget who we are.
And whose we are.

How hard it is to grow up,
and make long-term decisions,
no matter how much or well
people try to prepare us for it.

The way we forget to stop
and look at our lives to be thankful.
And the frustration that comes 
with seeing and having knowledge
of joy that should be there, 
but feeling unable to indulge in it.

How easy it is to become
complacent.
Apathetic.
and unmotivated.

How the little things
that happened to us in 
our pasts seemed to only 
hurt then,
but as we age,
the memories subconsciously
take control of our thoughts,
and in turn control our responses.
And the frustration
that comes with the overwhelming
realization of how much
you truly have to uncover,
process,
and heal from.

The relieving way
God's truth stands 
firm no matter how
firm I'm standing.
Praise God that the
authenticity of His truth
does not rely solely on my faith.

How His truth is available for belief
all of the time.
It never stops being true.
It does not depend on whether or
not it has my belief at the moment.

How His promises are always there,
even if I've seemingly checked out.

Praise God for grace.
That He refrains
from giving us what we deserve,
but chooses to continually give us 
what we absolutely don't deserve.



Monday, May 6, 2013

ali's Corner. [We Battle. And Then, We Rest.]

"Friends!
Do not be surprised at the fiery
trials you are going through,
as if something strange
were happening to you."
-1 Peter 4:12

The moment we pick up our cross
and decide to follow Jesus,
we become aware of an ongoing
battle and an incredible spiritual realm.

The enemy's den is disturbed
and his hunger to steal,
kill, and destroy is amplified.

His ears, eyes, and evil schemes
become fixated on stealing our joy,
killing our ministry, and destroying our hope.

BUT!  This is also the realm where Jesus
resides and conquers.

MercyMe's song, "You Are I Am"
says it this way,

"You're the one who conquers giants.
You're the one who calls out kings.
You shut the mouths of lions.
You tell the dead to breathe.
You're the one who walks through fire.
You take the orphan's hand.
You are the one Messiah.
You are I am."


And the song "The Great I am,"  
says,
"The mountains shake before Him
The demons run and flee 
At the mention of the name
King of Majesty
There is no power in hell 
Or any who can stand 
Before the power and the presence of the 

Great I am."

This is who God is.
He proves His faithfulness
over and over in the
Old Testament,
the New Testament,
and presently in our lives.

He is for us,
not against us.
And since He is on our side,
there isn't a spiritual battle
that we cannot fight.
And there isn't a spiritual battle,
that He leaves us to fight on our own.

He is always willing,
ever faithful,
never changing,
and always good.

"...take heart! 
I have overcome the world."
-John 16:33

So if you are fighting some spiritual battles
right now, take your battles to the
one true King.
And take heart!
In fact, rejoice!!

The battles get stronger,
the more we fix our eyes on Jesus.
When our feet are pointed to the cross.
And our hearts are pointed upward in adoration.

But our Heavenly Father has a power
that overcomes all evil.
And cannot be diminished.

He always has a tenderness that
allows us to breathe easy
and rest in the shadow of His wing.

So...
Rejoice!
Be Thankful!
And may your joy increase abundantly
as you boast in the Lord!