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Community, Faith, Relationships, Spiritual Life

You Belong HERE!

November 18, 2015

FullSizeRender-6Well, girls, somehow we made it. We are already at the end of our Community series and hello, Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK! Maybe it’s because I am getting older, but time is flying by so fast that I feel like I was just wearing shorts and soaking up the sun, but thank the Lord I don’t sweat every time I dry my hair… Count your blessings, right?! 😉

Ok, so I want to be really honest with you. This was a difficult series to write. A lot more difficult than I realized, and I think I can say this is true for all the writers. Some of us are trying to find our own community or are having constant change in community. And, we are still trying to navigate with you what community really is and means, what good and healthy community looks like.

I know we (AGLM writers) say this often, or at least we think this often, but we are not “the professionals”. We are not here to give you our wisdom as the master Jedi’s to you as our young padawans (sorry, I’ve been going through the Star Wars series, eeek #nerdstatus). But we are here because we have been exactly where you are now. We know life is hard, and we totally get it when you just want to say over and over again, “life’s not fair!”

Maybe you are at the loneliest point in life that you have ever been. Or you want to fit in with a certain group and are doing everything you can to make that happen, but it just isn’t working. Maybe you’ve been stabbed or hurt by those who you thought were your closest friends (Yeah, I’ve been in all those places). So you may be frustrated because you’re thinking, “I thought the community series would help me, give me answers or direction, but it didn’t and I am in the same place.”

I TOTALLY get that. But I also want to say again, the writers here also don’t have perfect community, we don’t have all the answers. So you may not find your answers here. But what you will find… women who truly care about you, who love you and pray for you. A Girl Like Me IS community!! It’s not the same as having community physically and presently around you in your day to day (which we still believe is super important to pray for and seek), but we are still a community. And we are here for YOU. No matter who you or where you have been. I promise if you stick with us and reach out to us, you will find that we are here for you.

Whether you’re a writer or a reader, God has placed us here, a part of A Girl Like Me. And we WANT to walk along side of you the best we can through our virtual avenues, or maybe WE get the pleasure of meeting you one day.

So many times I sit and think about A Girl Like Me and I ask God, what do I have to offer?! But then he reminds me of the women who take their time to reach out to me, and that speaks volumes, no matter what they have to say, as long as I know they’re there because they love me and are for me.

That’s my daily prayer for A Girl Like Me, and what I hope, whether you’re a brand new reader or a veteran reader, that you will find here. True, real community.

So stick with us! We will take a break next week as we enjoy Thanksgiving with our families, but be back in December to finish off the year and talk about what’s to come!

If you did learn from the community series, we would LOVE to hear from you! Leave us a comment and let us know.

Love, Allison


Community, Faith, God, Relationships

Let’s Talk About Boys

November 11, 2015



This might be the post that you have been waiting for all this time. What is a community series without talking about boys?!

This is not Top 10 Ways to Attract a Perfect Mate or How to Find a Godly Man or even How Nina Met Brendon (YET!). There are countless resources for believers on the topics of marriage and dating relationships, but what about plain ole’ male-female friendships?

Not only do I believe that it’s possible to be “just friends” with a guy, but I believe God designed that kind of friendship to grow us in a unique way. Aside from overgeneralized stereotypes, guys just operate differently than we do- in communication, in emotions, in probably more ways than we can understand.  Whether or not you are in a relationship, the only way that a friendship with a dude will work is mutual respect.

Talking about community with guys is simply just that… community with guys. Pretty sure half the planet is the male gender, so it will serve us well to learn how to be in healthy relationships with dudes.

Let’s leave out the romantic intentions, the let’s-just-be-friends-but-just-kidding-I-actually-want-you-to-like-me, because let’s be real, we’ve all been there. WHO’S WITH ME? Errrrrrrr, maybe I was the only high schooler who thought that?


How do we as women have appropriate, normal, awesome friendships with dudes?

How can we love them well?

How should I treat my “brothers in Christ”?


Although God has consistently blessed me with solid girlfriends and female mentors, I’ve always been surrounded by boys too. All of my mom’s best friends had sons, I grew up in a church where there were more guys than girls, played in a band in high school that was mostly guys, and now live on a bus with a bunch of dudes.

When I was an intern at my church in high school, there were pretty helpful expectations for the kind of time and space guys and girls spent together. To protect each other out of love, the staff and interns all abided by the standard of not being alone in a room with a person of the opposite sex with the door closed. A lot of the staff was married and there were a few of us that were single at the time, me included. This took away any potential awkwardness or weird situations between us. I honestly can’t remember any drama. Being a youth leader for middle school girls, I remember our youth pastor asking me to join when one of the girls needed prayer from him. When my band traveled to play a show while I was the only girl, our worship leader’s fiance would come so we could share a room. We functioned so well as a team and it was all deeply rooted in respect, not fear. I had Godly men as a healthy, secure part of my life. We could encourage each other openly.


I’m probably asking more questions than I am giving answers. This post is not a list of things that are allowed and not allowed between guys and girls. The church culture that I grew up around was helpful for my heart in understanding healthy guy/girl relationships and it made being on the road with a bunch of guys feel pretty normal. Throughout the course of our lives, different levels of intimacy with guys will change. When I had really close friendships with guys in high school, I didn’t have Brendon. Now that I have complete intimacy in marriage, I don’t have the same depth of relationship with other guys. It’s a natural ebb and flow in the river of time. Praying for wisdom on how to handle friendships with guys no matter what season we are in is the most mature thing we can do.

I am happily married to my forever guy. I am SO conscious of my friendships with guys- of intentionally never being in a situation emotionally, physically, and mentally that would compromise the integrity of my relationship with my husband. This will be important for our whole lives together. I also never want to unknowingly threaten another girls relationship with her guy. That would be weird/bad/ew.


We can honor the guys in our lives.

We can honestly encourage them.

We can celebrate the men we are in community with.

We can respect them.

Younger. Older. Whoever.


To wrap up our community series, it’s worth noting that as humans, as women, we want to know and be known by God and people. God intended to deeply satisfy our desire for community in Him because He IS community in the trinity. We are made in His image. Community on earth, with our best friends and those who are hard to love, community face-to-face and with the help of technology, community in the church and through transitions, is purely a gift. It’s dang hard sometimes, but it’s worth it. Here’s a tidbit from a book by Tim Keller that sums it up pretty well:

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.

We love you girls! Thank you for sticking with us through this series as we navigated some unknown waters. As always, keep an eye out for what is next!

Community, Faith, God, Identity, Relationships, Spiritual Life

I’m the Only One

October 28, 2015

kels (134 of 165)

I was in high school. I just got my heart broken by the guy I “thought” I was in love with. My mom was going through intensive chemotherapy to fight breast cancer. If I did go to anyone to talk about my problems, it would be her…but there’s something that doesn’t quite feel right when you’re venting about your little problems to a loved one who is fighting for her life. (I know now, though, that my mom would never want me to think that way). I was on a traveling team for volleyball and gone almost every weekend. Naturally that meant I missed church, small group, and hanging out with any friends I had at school quite often. And lastly, I would straight up tell you that I wanted to live in any other country than America. Since I was a little girl I wanted to be a missionary and my heart always seemed to be somewhere else…in a hut or tribe that I had never even been to. I felt depressed because, well, I was stuck in high school doing “worthless high school things” and thought there was no one else like me.

Flash forward to a conversation with a pastor who had always been like a father to me: I was glad to finally be talking to someone, and as I wept I spilled out these words: ”I’m the only one…

That day I learned that those four words are among the most dangerous that can come out of our mouths, let alone enter into our minds. Those four words are what Satan, our enemy, wants you to believe, and not AT ALL what Christ promises or wants for us.

Yes, there are incredibly hard circumstances that we all go through in our lives, but the exact thing that the enemy wants us to feel in those downcast, burdened times is that:


1. You are the only one who has ever on the face of the earth gone through this and felt these emotions.

2. You are alone in your struggle.

3. There is no hope.


The only thing to do in addressing this state of mind of self-centeredness (yes, it took me a while to admit to and call it what it was) that we are so prone to wander into, is to be washed over and cleansed by TRUTH. We have to learn how to address the enemy’s lies about being lonely and outcasts, and proclaim God’s truth over them. I have laid out a few for you below and challenge you to ask God to help set your mind on HIS words rather than the enemy’s.

We may be tempted to say “I’m the only one…” but God says, “I AM THE ONE” that you need. God knows us and loves us. We are never alone because God is ALWAYS with us. He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.

The point is not to have another person who you can perfectly relate to. The point is that God did not intend for us to do life alone. You have to be intentional about reaching out not only for the sake of yourself but also for the goal to glorify God in whatever you’re going through. His strength is made perfect in us, sharing in our weaknesses.  God is bigger than your present problems and if we are open to it, He WILL teach and transform us into more mature, godly women.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30


“You have searched me, Lord,

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,

and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!

How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand—

when I awake, I am still with you.”

Psalm 139



FullSizeRender-1-1Ashton lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband, Hank Murphy. They work and serve at the Summit Church in Durham, NC. Ashton is originally from northern California and moved here 2 years ago. She loves traveling the world on mission for the gospel, getting coffee with Allison, painting and creating beauty in spaces, cooking delicious food, nannying a lot of cute kids, and spending time with Hank.

P.S. Allison wrote this on behalf of Ashton as they were once roommates before they married their husbands :-)

Community, Faith, Forgiveness, Identity, Redemption, Relationships


October 14, 2015


It may come as a shocker to you, but I am a hard friend to love. I’ll let you all take a moment to gasp a little at that thought. 😉 But seriously, I’m not always the easy friend in a group of people.

Naturally a little stand-offish and pretty opinionated, oftentimes I can come across as rude and unapproachable. My filter isn’t always very strong and sometimes even my most loving and gracious “encouragement” can come across as more of a lecture than a pep-talk. Know the type? Yeah, that’s me.

We’ve all got someone in our lives who’s “that friend.” The exhausting one. The Debbie-downer. The one who it feels more like work than a joy to to be around. The one who if you didn’t think it would be a total jerk move to do, you’d totally unfriend and unfollow them on social media. We all have them, and in truth, we might even be that friend ourselves.

What do we do when someone is difficult to love? Is every friendship worth the work? I know we don’t have to be friends with everyone, but how do we handle relationships with people who God has put in our path? Are some people just a lost cause?

About three years ago I would’ve said that some people just aren’t worth the work. Phrases like, “This is about as close as we’ll ever get” and “They just don’t want to know me or be friends with me” or “Forget them, I have other friends anyway” were common coming out of my mouth. I was very quick to dismiss anyone who wasn’t willing to put forth the effort I was and wrote it off as them just being stand offish and not friend material. Then I came out of the “I’ve been sexually abused” closet and everything changed.

For the first time in my life, I hungered for people to know me. I wanted people to see my pain and not only stand with me in it, but walk with me to see beyond it and find a new way of living. At the same time I was dealing with my crap, one of my dear friends was walking through the loss of a child. Her pain was far worse than my own, but her desire of being known was the same. Together we discovered something amazing.

To love well and to be loved well in return means to pursue the heart of another.

You see, I wanted so bad for people to see how I was hurting on the inside, but I was never going to show it on the outside. I needed to know that they were safe enough to entrust my fragile heart to. I needed to know that they cared for me not just when it was easy, but when I was at my most difficult to love. The only way I could know that was by them seeking out to know me and meet me where I was at.

Friends, we all carry secrets that create fortresses in our hearts. Wounds that build steel doors, keeping anyone at bay who may come too close. Yet it’s those very places that we want people most. Because those places of weakness, the places we hurt most, those are the places we need others. We just need someone willing to fight through.

That friend, the difficult one, she’s fighting a battle too. Her pain may run so deep that she has no idea just how fortified her heart has really become, and sadly, no one has ever tried to get in. So she keeps herself guarded, mean, and unapproachable not because she doesn’t want you as a friend, but because she doesn’t know how.

To be like Jesus to those around us means to press in, push harder, and love stronger even when there is never any return of the affection.

I’ve had a friend I’ve known for several years. She’s quiet and guarded. She’s so private with her emotions that I’ve only seen her cry once in the entire time I’ve known her. For many years I thought we’d never be more than casual friends, only discussing things like our kids and marriage. She was impenetrable and the only way we’d become closer was for her to change, or so I thought.

Last year I began to implement this idea of pursuing the hearts of my friends. She was my particular goal. I started slowly, just a simple text here and there letting her know I was thinking of her and praying for her. When we were together in groups, I’d make sure to invite her places and then let her know she was missed when she didn’t come. All the while on my own I kept asking God for an opportunity to let her know I loved her and wanted to love her well. He granted that prayer six months later over a cup of coffee.

While talking about a recent mission trip she had been on, I felt God give me a nudge to say something. I began by telling her how much I valued her as a friend. How I really was wanting God to use me to love my friends well and she was one of those. I told her how each of my friends needed love differently and so I asked her how I could love her better. What happened next was amazing.

We began to talk, I mean really talk, for the first time. She told me how I could love her better and what ways of approaching her or helping her would embarrass or make her uncomfortable and which ways would help. Then she said something that floored me. She said, “Heather, I really want to be known by people, I’m just not good at it. I need someone to help me.”

Ladies, that girl you find so frustrating, she wants to be known. That girl who you feel sucks the life out of you or never returns your kindness, she aches for friendship too. But maybe, like my friend, these girls aren’t good at it and they need someone who is willing to walk with them and help them break down those barriers to let someone in.

If Jesus Christ was willing to walk right into the depths of hell to claim our hearts, don’t you think we should be willing to do a fraction of the same for another?

Loving the unlovable is hard. It means loving simply because and not out of our desire to be loved back. It’s remembering that sometimes love means fighting for the heart of another, even if it doesn’t look like they want you to. It means drawing close when your instincts tell you to walk away. It means laying down your life, your needs, your wants, and loving simply because we are called to. I can say with full honesty that what comes out of that kind of love is something so wonderful and pure and holy that it is mind blowing. But you have to be willing to change yourself first.

How about today you put on those boxing gloves and go fight for the hearts of the unlovable. In time, you’ll set both your hearts free and discover the beauty of redeeming love.

Community, Faith, Forgiveness, Redemption, Relationships

Why the Church Is Messed Up

October 6, 2015

While you get ready in the morning, in the car, cooking, or in your waiting today, I hope you will listen.

I pray you will listen with an open mind as I know that some of you have been really hurt by the church and some have misconceptions about the church.

My desire is that you will understand what God intended the church to be, that it is FILLED with sinners, and that it is a beautiful gift that God has given us to understand more of forgiveness, love, and encouragement with one another.

Community, Faith, Family, God

As we face transitions

September 30, 2015
fair traveler with vintage suitcase at the station

fair traveler with vintage suitcase at the station

I want to take a second before this post to say, I have missed you ladies! 

This summer held All. The. Things.  The first week of June my older sister had her third baby, making me the happiest aunt to three you ever did see.  Immediately after, I was forehead deep in sports camp and vacation bible school and sleep-away camp and “water olympics”… all the joys of working in full-time Children’s Ministry. 

Then, in August, my sister and brother-in- law filed for divorce.  There have been so many tears and late nights as my family figures out what comes next.  We are living in the “just take the next right step” season, and if I’m being honest… it’s not my favorite.  

I haven’t written about it, in fact, I haven’t written about anything lately.  So while I am so excited to get back into this blog, I am also nervous.  Sharing about community hits close to home.  Community has both kept me near the cross and discouraged me tremendously the past few months.  

I hope you will find grace in these words, and if you’re going through a season of hardship I pray you are surrounded by a community of believers who keep you near the cross.  


The number of times I’ve moved in my life. Two were byproducts of my dad changing jobs and transferring locations.  The others were my choice, like going to college or moving to Nashville, or leaving for the World Race.  You might remember from this post, I love change and newness.  No one signs up for a mission trip to eleven countries in eleven months if you cringe at the word change.

Life is full of ending and beginnings and community is no different.

Some are planned and calculated, some are abrupt, and some are the natural progression of life.

Each move and transition brings with it incredible opportunities for community.

Each season also boasts the incredibly difficult tasks of re-defining community and the frightening reality of being honest, vulnerable and transparent with yet another group.

I will be the first to admit that at times I am paralyzed by the thought of new community.

In fact, I actually had a conversation with a teammate month three of The World Race, that went something like this::

ME: I’m not really here for “community” I have my community back home in Nashville.

TEAMMATE:  Are you kidding??! why would you come on something like this if you didn’t want to build community?

ME:  I’m just good, I’ve got “my people” already, I’m not on this thing to make friends, I’m here to help people.


It is nearly impossible, and guaranteed destructive, to travel the world with a group of amazing people and insist on not creating community with them.

Obviously, my stance on community changed.
Lovelies- God did a work in my heart, allowing for community.

He allowed for honesty and vulnerability to tether us together.

The women I traveled with were His provision and portion.
They were my sounding boards and accountability and advocates.

They were my strength some days and pains in the neck others.

I would not trade them for anything!

Today, we live forever away from one another.

We will most likely never all be in the same room again.

But every memory, and prayer, and tear, and joke from that season, intricately holds the seven of us together.

You have women in your life who will be there forever.

Sisters, mothers, cousins, BFFs…

and you have women in your life who will be there for a season.

Community will look different as you go to school, and travel, and date, and get married.

Teams and clubs and groups are fluid and it takes a whole lot of grace to navigate community well.

My prayer for us this morning is that we will look at the community in our life as daily bread.  I pray we will be the body of Christ to those in our life TODAY.  I pray for the courage to be vulnerable one more time, with one more person.

And I pray especially, for those of us in the middle of turmoil, help us to ponder in our hearts the many ways you show your love in our lives. Open our eyes and our hearts to the community keeping us near the cross during this time.

Community, Faith, God, Identity, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Theology

Community In Us

September 23, 2015


This morning, the sunrise was radical.

The way the clouds stretched across the dark sky felt like the red velvet curtain in a theater was about to bust open.

The surface waters of the Atlantic reflected every speck of light that began to break over the horizon.


I could see it all.

The land stirring with dawn’s creatures under my feet.

The waters full of life only feet away.

The sky full of stars that seemed to be so close.


Dolphins searching, birds in formation, my family close, track of turles that had come up the beach where their mother’s had laid their eggs decades earlier- community was all around.


God created community.

God loves community.

God is community.


When we are unsure of what community looks like for ourselves, we have the perfect example in God Himself- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.


God is the perfect image of community, and you may have heard the radical grace in Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image…” Right from the start, we see that we are created BY community FOR community.


So we can’t talk about being in relationship with other people without being clear of the relationship within us. We can’t try and figure out community between us and other people without knowing how we are wired.


The need for community around us is fed by the Community within us.


Dear believer in Jesus, dear girl who has admitted your need for a Savior, the Holy Spirit is inside you. The Holy Spirit, God in community, lives in all believers of Jesus.


“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14


At the end of Jesus’ life and ministry, he gifts us with the Holy Spirit to guide and counsel us. He even says that for now, we are “better off without Jesus”.


So how are we to be in community with God the Holy Spirit? Maybe I should have written a disclaimer at the top that said that this is not a Buzzfeed ‘Top 5’ list of ways to be closer to God or to know the Holy Spirit. I like simple and let’s be real—it’s Wednesday morning and you’re probably either reading this at work or on your phone under your desk at school (girrrllll I do it too!). There are a lot of other things that need your attention right now. So one thing to know better who the Holy Spirit is in us:


The holy, perfect, relevant, comprehensive word of God, the Bible, is the premier way of being in community with God. We can study Scripture. Meditate on it. Pray it. Read it out loud alone. Read it with other people. Check out Acts 2 for the picture of the Holy Spirit coming to Earth after Jesus ascended to heaven.


Ask God to help you understand how to engage in the community that He has already put around you. After all, God has community in Himself and we have community with God. The only way we can have true community and deep relationship with other people is because of the Holy Spirit living in us.


The Fellowship of the Believers

Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Community, Faith, Relationships

Real vs. Virtual Community

September 16, 2015

aglmvirtual (1 of 1)-2

When I was a kid the most “virtual” of a community you could have was to have a pen pal from another city that your mom probably set up or some school project paired you up with. You would write hand written letters back and forth, maybe add some crayon coloring or if you were real high tech like I was…you got on KidPix and added stamps, the original “emoticons”, to really get your emotion behind the letter across. I was part of the generation (which makes me feel old) that first experienced “virtual community”.   I was just hitting my preteen years when you could start signing up for a Hotmail email account and email your friends you met at camp instead of sending post cards through snail mail. I was in the generation that began chatting online using our very creatively made up AIM screen-names. I was in the generation that began texting…although none of us were allowed to because it cost our parents ten cents a text.

My generation was the beginning of something that on one hand held great advances in society, but on the hand other brought on some challenges and stumbling blocks that have hinder our ability to create real community. We’ve been given the ability to create false or masked identities to look better than we are or better than we think we are to those on the other side of the screen. We’ve been given a place to hide.

We now need to be a generation that fights for real community.

Now I am not saying that virtual community is all bad…I think AGLM is an example of what good virtual community can be…but only if it pushes you to go live away from your computer screen and seek real face to face interaction with people. Virtual community has value when it is supporting and encouraging you to go make a difference, it has value when it gives you a safe place of support for illness/adoption/causes/etc. and then encourages you to go create awareness and support for those in your own city and town.

But virtual community should never, ever take the place of face-to-face community. It’s the whole, “use in supplement to ________ not in replace of _______” theory. We as an AGLM community should always be encouraging each other to reach out in our schools, neighborhoods, churches, towns…we should be a support for each other not a replacement.   There is nothing more beautiful than gathering together to share a meal, being forced to sit across the table from someone for an extended period of time, savoring a home cooked meal (or just some really great Mexican take-out) and diving into each other’s lives.

What makes you hurt right now? What makes you come alive? What are your passions? What are your fears?   What makes you…you?  

Think about how “seen” you feel when someone takes the time to ask you these questions and really want to sit and hear the answers. Being seen though takes vulnerability, and lets face it…sometimes it’s just easier to sit behind the computer screen and type an email or comment on a blog post than it is to open your mouth and speak about where your heart is at, what your dreams really are, and what your fears may be to someone who can look you in the eyes and answer back.

Community is not easy. It can be messy and uncomfortable. It can be frustrating and hurtful. But it can also be healing, full of joy, and have the ability to bring relief to your heart’s desire to be known.   I think Jesus gave us such beautiful examples of how to create community with the way He lived his life and often in the simplest of ways. So often it simply included going into a home and breaking bread together. Meeting someone where they were; even at times walking into the home of people mourning a loss, shutting the door behind him, and allowing that small room of people to experience a vulnerable and amazing moment when he performs a miracle…only for their eyes. Community was always shown to go hand in hand with intimacy. It was in intimate settings with small groups of people.

Jesus wasn’t trying to be the popular guy at the large party and titling that “community”. No. Instead he was teaching people and meeting their needs in the comfort of their homes, at dinner tables, in boats, and in upper rooms. Yes, He taught on mountaintops and to crowds…but it was always him teaching a crowd…followed by him leaving the crowd to fellowship with a smaller, more intimate group. By us creating community in small settings it allows us to step into pain together, grieve with those who are grieving, get in the uncomfortable, sucky places in life and offer a place of safety. It allows us to laugh and find joy when the healing comes and feel a part of that healing even if it was for an individual, because it has been walked as a group.

This past year my husband and I have lost three homes that we had been under contract for at the last minute. It’s been a painful, frustrating process of getting excited, dreaming, finally feeling like we would have a space to call our own…only to be crushed, disappointed and left starting over at the end.   We have had a few key people walk the journey with us and while it hasn’t been them losing a house…them getting frustrated in our frustration, them getting passionate with us, crying with us, and rejoicing with us when the next good news comes…has given us the strength to keep going, it’s left us feeling less alone. It’s felt like a group effort and at the end a group celebration and victory. And while there are always seasons in life where community is scarce and we depend solely on Christ…we are created for community, we are created to not be alone.

A simple, sympathetic, moment of being frustrated with someone, a simple hug, a simple understanding nod…can mean the world to someone who feels alone and defeated. We should celebrate our friends. We should be cheerleaders through each other’s journeys in real life.

I would challenge you to sit with a group of friends this week or even just one individual in your life and really hear where they’re at. Push into it and dig a little. Offer a safe place for vulnerability, whether it’s for something exciting in their life or something that is hard…challenge yourself to meet them there. Not to just stand by and listen and just tell them how to fix it, but to really hear and walk next to them. Go sit face to face with someone and be the one to cultivate community.

Challenge your virtual community (AGLMers or others) to do the same and hold each other accountable.

Faith, God, Relationships, Spiritual Life


August 26, 2015

Good morning, girls!

I hope you are, like me, no longer mourning that summer is over because I know it’s a hard reality to accept after summer! But good news! September is almost here. That means football, fall, scarves, everything pumpkin, beautiful trees, and also AGLM new series begins! We have been planning, praying, and really preparing for our series on Community this fall. Next week we will officially begin, but I wanted to give you a week to prepare your hearts as well for what you will be hearing from us as we lean on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

I am challenging you during your #AGLMmorning to read the passage below over and over. Highlight, look it up in commentaries and different translations, ask God to enlighten these words to you in a deeper way than ever before, and pray that he will speak to you personally in our series on Community!

And as always, we would love to hear from you!

All our love,

Allison, Heather, Kelsey, Steph, Nina, and Chelsea

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11


Faith, Identity, Redemption, Spiritual Life, Suffering

He Picked The Wrong House

August 19, 2015


Ever since I was a little girl I always fantasized about one day living in a red brick house with a fireplace and a staircase. Coming from Arizona where every house was brown and stucco and the seventy degree winters made fireplaces seem irrelevant, my little heart longed for the cozy homes I saw on TV.

The day I saw the house is one I’ll never forget it. We pulled up into the driveway, a beautiful summer day, and there it was. Strong, proud, and a brilliant shade of red brick. My heart was already racing at what we would find once we opened the door and looked inside. I was overjoyed as I walked through this beauty to see a perfect staircase and a glistening fireplace. It was my dream home. It was perfect. It was mine.

After we bought the house and moved in, we were rifling through a bunch of paperwork the previous owners had left behind when we found them. Pictures.

You see, our house was built in 1938 and we were only the fourth people to ever live there. The people who we bought it from had purchased the house from a woman who had called it home for over twenty years. But when they bought it, the house was, well, let’s say, in need of a facelift.

We flipped through the pictures, seeing the house as it once was, and were overcome. We couldn’t believe that the beautiful home we were standing in had once been so hideous….so hopeless looking. But here it was today, remade and so stunning.

As I sat in my counselor Al’s office last year, tears spilling out of my eyes, I kept telling him how I felt so hopeless…so broken. I couldn’t see how the abuse I had suffered and all the horrible life events that came from that could make me anything less than a mess of a lost cause. Sure, maybe I’d find a way to cope with the pain. Maybe I’d even find a way to forgive and heal a little. But I’d always be broken. I’d always be the girl who was molested.

He told me of a book called The Prince Of Tides. The book was the story of a man who had suffered terrible abuse in his youth and how as a man he was finally able to start dealing with the pain. In one particularly graphic part of the book there is a scene where the main character is getting raped by his abusers inside of his home. As it’s happening, he looks out the window to see his older brother standing outside with their pet tiger. He goes on to say, “In that moment, I knew that they had picked the wrong house.” The older brother then proceeds to bust into the house with tiger and kill all the abusers. End scene.

Maybe like I did, you’re feeling a little bit like an old, broke-down house. Time and pain has worn you down, and you feel like merely a shell of the person you once knew. You want so badly to be remade. To feel beautiful, hope-filled, loved, and even useful again. But the scars are too deep and you cant imagine how you’d ever arrive at that place.

When heartache comes to us, the enemy, he thinks he’s won. He thinks he’s finally found the thing that beat you. But listen in real close sweet friends because I have something to tell you:

He picked the wrong house.

Hearing those words, for me, was like taking breath for the first time in forever. He picked the wrong house. I was not the defeated one, he was.

Ladies, I know the days can seem dark. I know and have felt the consuming feeling that our sin and shame and hurt can have over us. I know how it clouds everything we see, making day seem impossible and night our constant. But I also know this: you and I, we are not lost causes.

Much like my house, we are empty and broken shells in need of someone to come in, clean us up and make us beautiful again. Yes, there will be work to be done. Walls will be knocked down, things will be cut and removed, but there will also be rebuilding. Because we have Christ, and if He is with us then no amount of chaos or harm or abuse the enemy could ever throw our way will knock us down. We are a house on a firm foundation.

My lovely friends, you are not hopeless. Do you hear me? That weight you’re carrying that seems so heavy will not take you down. That light at the end of the tunnel that feels dimmer and dimmer….it WILL come. Because you, yes YOU, are a daughter of God and that means no abuser or mistake or death or break up or self-harm or addiction can ever defeat you.


“Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s…You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of theLord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:16-17

My house, much like myself, was once a lost cause. A place of desolation. But today, we both stand tall, stronger than we were before. The scars of the past still remain, but only as faded remnants against a colorful canvas. Do not give up dear sister. The Lord is with you and you will overcome.