I can’t help but smile

I just don’t get it.

I don’t understand how in the world I even got to this point. Even as I’m sitting here writing this, I’m having a hard time formulating what exactly it is I’m trying to say so bear with me as I wing it.

Today I decided to log back on and read through my last few blog post written a little over three months ago and even through some old journals I came across that I wrote in YEARS ago. As I read through each one of them, I couldn’t help but smile. They aren’t funny posts at all or journal entries– quite the opposite actually. They were posts written from such a raw and real sense of desperation and pain. Journal entries of the struggle with addictions and with depression, and anger that consumed me. They were posts that expressed sorrow, confusion, but they were also posts and entries that worked as checkpoints.

My thought as I wrote each one was that hopefully one day, I would look back and say,

“It all makes sense.”

Now, months later, and even years later, I can’t help but smile. And I smile because it doesn’t make a single bit of sense.

My journey has been quite interesting. Not just these last few months, but ever since I made the decision recommit my life to Christ at the end of my senior year of high school. Only few know the dirty details of all that occurred, but lets just say, I am in awe of how all of my mistakes, and my tears, and my heartache have all played out. I never expected to have a fraction of opportunities and blessings that the Lord has crafted before me.

My life has taken an 180-degree turn. Actually, it more like a constant molding– like clay in the hands of a potter– constantly being shaped into any shape He wishes. It’s obviously not of my own doing because shoot, I can barely even make sense out of it all. If I try to make sense of it, I end up even more confused than I was to begin with.

That’s how God works. He makes beautiful things out of dust, which seems a bit silly but hey, it’s just how he do (lol).

The one thing I did do is possibly the simplest yet most difficult thing I ever chose to do. I chose to FEARLESSLY surrender. Not just surrender what was easy but to surrender all of it. My dreams, my passions, my hope, my life, my everything.

And through this process, I’ve learned that surrendering is not a “one and done” kinda thing. Its a daily, conscious, decision to let go of my tight, stubborn grip and let Jesus do his thing.

There so much more I could say, but for now I think I will leave it at that.  Someday I will share and further details what exactly the Lord has done in my life through his grace and transformative love.

There are also some extremely cool adventures I will be embarking on in the next few months that I will be sharing with all of you soon.

Thank you all who have kept me in your prayers throughout this last season and thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it brought even the slightest bit of encouragement to you.

Remember that even in the darkest seasons that seem impossible  and irredeemable, God’s grace and redemption can reach any depth of pain and brokenness.

And please know, whoever you are, if you ever need any thing by anyone to talk to, I am always willing to take time to sit and listen.  I mean this with 100%  complete sincerity.

 

 

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Walking in Faith

Reality.

How often does the reality of our circumstances, doubt, or fear distract you from keeping faith?

Peter said, “Lord, if that’s really you, call me out onto the water.” Jesus replied, “Come.”

And with what seemed like complete trust and confidence, he hopped right out of the boat into the water. Shortly after he began to sink. He must’ve realized that what he was doing was completely impossible. Doubt must’ve clouded his mind. The distraction of reality and fear abolished faith in the matter of seconds.

Realistically speaking, the dreams and desires the Lord has placed in my heart are so incredibly impossible. I evaluate how “rational” my dreams are and if they fall in the category of “impossible” I tend to stick them on the back burner and ignore them. Those dreams scare me. They scare me because I am weak, and I know that in order to get to point “B”, I’ll need to work hard and trust in Jesus to guide my every step. The thing is, I want to trust in MY strength. I want to be sure that I won’t get caught up in something that includes risk or failing. I want to be sure that if I’m going to step out of the boat and into the water, that I won’t sink.

But how incredible would it be to look back at the life I lived and be able to declare that my faith was strong enough to withstand the waves that tried to knock me down. I want to be able to look back and replay all of the impossibilities that were made possible not by my own strength, but because I placed all of my bets on the cross. I want to look back at my weaknesses and faults but only see God’s goodness. 

Peter embodies our struggle with faith. We crave the supernatural works of our Lord yet we are so terrified of leaving our comfort of reality. In reality, there is no hope for miracles, in reality, there’s no chance of getting more disappointed than you already are. Faith requires us to look only to the Father for a miracle, for guidance, and for strength to do the impossible. The minute we take our eyes off of Him, we begin to sink and as we sink, we drown in our own faults and imperfections. But if we were to choose to keep our eyes set on Jesus, if we were to choose to have faith that says “ I trust you Lord!”, we have the privilege of walking in the grace and authority of a miracle working God.

And who knows, with faith that grand, what may seem like walking on water to you, just might become possible.

 

-Ali

 

 

 

Mile Marker One

I feel like I’m drowning under the weight of this pain that seems greater than anything else at the moment. I fought, I endured, I pushed through, I loved with all of my being and yet all my efforts were not good enough. Now I realize that the fight was never mine to begin with. No matter how much I desired for victory, it wasn’t my victory. If I love this much, and hurt this much, and my love comes nowhere near the fathers love for us, I cannot imagine how much he loves me and ever single one of us. The father’s love has never been more present in my life. If it was not for his incredible grace, I may have given up, sat down, and stayed and dwelled in the defeat I feel, but the enemy has not won. This in itself is victory, this mess in itself is healing, it’s redemption. My perspective is so limited, I am blinded by my circumstances, my human flesh can only comprehend so much-almost nothing at all. Faith is believing in what we cannot see, and right now I cannot see a thing. Trust, hope, and faith are what I choose to cling to even while I walk and stumble in the dark, I know He is guiding my every step. No one ever expects painful situations to occur. They seem to come in the least expected moments. But nothing surprises God. This was not foreign to him. His perspective is infinite, greater yet than what expect, and still my mind attempts to put a lid on His plan. He knows me, he knows us. He sees us. He holds us. Oh great is our God! He is so worthy of praise! He takes my pain, brokenness, and disaster and makes the beauty beyond our limited sight.

Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Breaking Point

Recently, I’d been reading through the book of Job and came across a something Job said that hit home.
“We take the good things from God, why not the difficult?”
Up to this point, I felt that for the most part, I was exactly where God wanted me. I could easily say “God is good” and my “proof” for His goodness was that my plans were kinda going the right direction and I had all I possibly wanted. I had no reason to really trust God because my path seemed relatively clear. But I failed to how dangerous that was. I was living according to my wants instead of what God willed and desired. Because of this, my life took a complete turn and things changed and I am walking through a season in which I am fully having to choose to rely on the Lord for my comfort and strength.
I could choose to let changes destroy me, leave me crippled. I know there will be days that will be much harder than others, but I am moving forward. I choose to rejoice in the fact that the Lord is working for the better part of an incredible miracle that I fully trust will come to be.
Not when I want the miracle, but when God wants.
Not when it seems to benefit me, but when it pleases the Lord.
This is no longer about me as much as want it to be.
I woke up this morning completely terrified at the thought of having to walk through this season. The enemy has a way of making us feel like we are walking alone in the midst of our darkest hour, but that is such a lie. He has placed people in our lives to push us, help us grow, encourage us, when we need it most. It takes effort on our part, though. It’s up to me to choose to rejoice when we feel like I can’t, it’s up to us to praise Him when we feel like we can’t. And the reality is, we can’t do this on my own. It will take supernatural strength provided by our heavenly Father.
Even as I write this, I’m having to convince myself that this is the truth. I guess you could say that this is a declaration that I am choosing to proclaim over my life even I don’t want to. Choosing in joy in pain is extremely uncomfortable. And I know I am not the only one going through painful situations. If you are going through a season of difficulty, please know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE, reach out to others for help, but most importantly, seek God for comfort and strength.
It took a breaking point to realize how much work the Lord still needs to do in me. I am selfish, impatient, easily angered, and so many other things (excuse me as I air out my dirty laundry) and all of these things not only harm me, but they’re characteristics that do not go in accordance with who God has called me to be. I have been called to serve, to love and place others before me: anger has no room, impatience has no say, and selfishness cannot and will not prevail.
I have hope, and healing will come with time and with prayer. God is good. I have chosen to take the good and I am choosing to take the difficult from the Lord. God will have victory and through Him I am victorious.
Today my prayer is out of Psalm 28. I won’t post the whole chapter, but this verse is the one that stuck to me:
The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

The Honest Truth About Honesty

Throughout the course of my life, I have come to the realization that honesty is not the kindhearted, gentle, and heartwarming, easy, virtue we often want it to be.
I’m referring to the kind of honesty that has no room for what is fabricated, with depth that shines a light into the darkest areas of our lives that we often try to hide at all costs.
For you it may be an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or pornography, an eating disorder, past sin that you’ve tried repressing for years, an affair, depression, suicidal thoughts, fear, etc. I know I definitely have hidden junk—viruses— that corrupt and spread altering my effectiveness as a child of God. I’m the champion at hiding and putting on a facade hoping to trick everyone into thinking that I’m just as normal as the next person.
I get it: Its just not glamorous to tell people about our pain, addictions, and weaknesses so our efforts are focused on finding simple “solutions” or “masks” to hold us over until we are alone with our brokenness for no one else to see. The hiding, the avoiding of our the issues does absolutely nothing but fuel shame and guilt creating a separation between us and our heavenly father. Failing to be transparent and honest is like putting a blindfold over our own eye that keeps us from seeing and receiving the freedom that Jesus has graciously given to us through his death and resurrection.
Choosing honesty is willingness to be transparent with those you love even if the reality of whatever it is your hiding causes heartache. Through the act of transparency, we  have the assurance that we must face temporary pain to avoid future suffering. Yes, I am aware that showing the most horrible aspects of our being leaves us naked and uncomfortable but transparency is taking a crucial step freedom from bondage. Choosing honesty or transparency or vulnerability is an acknowledgment of our own human weakness. It’s an act of surrender: accepting that whatever junk pollutes us is wrong and dark and needs to be dealt with with the help of Jesus.
I encourage you to find someone who you can trust with your transparency. Someone who will listen and love you through whatever you are hiding.