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Your Story Matters

December 18, 2015

AGLM

Here we are at another December, another Christmas, and another ending. Girls, I am the worst at change. If my mind is set on something we are planning to have for dinner, and then that plan changes, well, it takes me a bit to process the change. My husband has had to really learn this about me the past year because change is a REAL struggle for me, so I am there with you in processing what’s been happening with AGLM. A Girl Like Me has been through a lot of change even since the end of 2014, with Kelly leaving, more writers joining, Heather leaving, and then Kelsey and Steph, Ashton joining… it’s a LOT to process! And we get that! So thank you SO much for being patient and so gracious with us through it all.

I can honestly tell you that as we trust God and His lead through the change, whatever it is, does turn out for our good, and many times, WAY better than we could ever imagine. We are so excited about what’s to come in 2016 and hope you are too!

So, here we stand with you, Nina, Chelsea, Ashton and myself (Allison). We are with you and FOR you. We are so excited to get to know you all better, get in the trenches with you, and walk along side of you through this crazy life!

We have already been preparing for 2016, carefully writing, praying, and dreaming where A Girl Like Me is going, and we hope all of you are going to stick with us and even more so, dive in deep with us!

Starting January 6, 2016, we will be back and ready to share our stories with you. The good, the bad and the ugly. Our desire is for you to really know us and trust us, and we realize that in order for you to trust us, we need to let you into the depths of who we really are, a girl like YOU. Just like Heather, Kelly, and Kelsey did, we really want to give ourselves to you because this is what it really means to share life and be in community with you.

We are all excited and nervous, and very expectant of what God is going to do through this series we are calling, “Your Story Matters”.

And we are even going a step further with this… we want to hear YOUR story because we really do believe that your story matters! So just like Aubrey shared a post with us recently, we want to give more of you a chance to do so as well.

Here are the guidelines:

  • Share YOUR story with us. Keep it simple, on target, and real.
  • Do NOT exceed 1000 words.
  • Give us a title, a photo of just you, where you’re from, how old you are, and what school you go to if you’re in school.
  • Send it to us by January 1. agirlikemee@gmail.com
  • Be aware that we may edit your post.

We will continue with our normal Wednesday post schedule from the AGLM team, and if we choose to use your post, we will post it on a Friday.

I cannot wait to read your posts and get to know you all in a deeper way than just what we see on social media! And as always, we love to hear from you.

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, and we will “see” you January 6, 2016!

 

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Meet Ashton!

December 16, 2015

I am sorry the video quality isn’t clear!! But we are so excited to have Ashton with us starting in 2016!!!

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More Goodbye’s for 2015

December 9, 2015

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As you already know, there are lot of changes happening at A Girl Like Me. Change is hard but can also be really exciting and a time for so much growth!

We are sad to see Steph and Kelsey go, but really excited for the plans and dreams they are both pursuing. There are also GREAT additions to come, which you will hear about NEXT week, but for now, they wanted to say goodbye, so instead of explaining for them, I will let you hear from them directly…

 

From Steph:

When I woke up this morning, I did not expect to be writing this post.
In fact, just this weekend I was talking with someone about writing for A Girl Like Me, encouraging them to check it out.

I had lots of plans for this next year and the redemptive stories I would get to share with you… surely, after the chaos of this year redemption was on it’s way, and those will be the stories I write about.

Or so I thought.

I wrote briefly about this year and all of it’s turmoil in this post.
But for the most part, the words just haven’t come, even my journal has remained mostly untouched.  As a writer, this has been difficult.  As a blogger, this is not fair to you.

When the challenge came for me to decide if committing another year to AGLM was wise it hurt- the good kind of hurt.  It was the calling out of truth, you cannot do everything… and we notice.

Sweet girls,
I hope you surround yourself with people who notice when you are struggling.
And I pray they call you out on it.
And I pray you receive it well when they do.

This morning during the cool dawn of my workout, the instructor shared these words,

“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.

– unknown”

I laid on the mat and cried the big, silent, tears.

I am so thankful for AGLM.
For what I have learned, and how it has grown me.
For the women it has introduced me to.
For each of you,
You encourage me, challenge me, push me to do better writing and better living, and I’m thankful for that.

This next season will be different.
I will still write, when the words come, here.
But I won’t be writing for AGLM regularly.

Know that my heart for you girls is good….

my love for this ministry is huge…

and my desire to see Christ in this chaos is overwhelming.

Here’s to 2016 and all it will bring!

– Steph

 

 

From Kelsey:

My sweet friends,

What a journey this has been. From my very first guest post about mine and Matt’s relationship to posts about tattoos and childhood experiences…you have all given me a place to not just share my story, but process and grow in it as we have all walked alongside each other.  A Girl Like Me has been such a beautiful part of my journey and I have been overwhelmed watching so many of you take the passion and dreams Heather poured into this safe place and pass them on, using them in your own lives to reach out and walk alongside so many other girls in need of community.    My role with A Girl Like Me has been to be vulnerable and share with you ladies, offer up my experiences, failures, joys, and sorrows as a place for you to find encouragement, accountability, and challenge….but who am I kidding?  You all have been that for me.  You have shown nothing but grace and understanding when I’ve had to take breaks due to life’s obstacles, losing my mom, facing life as a new wife, and weaving through the mess of the everyday.  We came together right in a huge new season for me and writing here has often felt like writing out the words for you to read that God is wanting me to hear.

Thank you for being a safe place; for being such beautiful examples of authenticity and grace.

I know there are a lot of changes happening on here, but it’s the change that can bring fresh perspectives and fresh life.   I have spent the last 10+ years of my life working jobs that support everyone else in their dreams. I’ve served and supported and put so many of my own passions aside, buried in the guilt of wanting to meet other’s needs and AGLM was a wonderful outlet and place to let some of those passions gain new life.  I’m starting another new chapter as we end this year and Matt and I are not only trying to bring back to life so many life giving, creative parts of ourselves that have been buried, but we are also walking into the best adventure of becoming parents through adoption.   It’s one of those forks in the road that, while not always easy, is necessary to let go of some things in order to free up the time and energy God needs from us to pursue the next step.  So while there is a part of me that is sad to have to say “goodbye” to being consistently involved here, another part of me is so excited. Excited for you guys and excited for me. I’m excited to see what the fresh leadership and new voices have to offer you all in your seasons of life and I’m excited for me to start another adventure and take a season to breathe and find a part of me that I’ve lost. I’m so excited to take the time needed to prepare to go from just “wife” to “mom”.

Thank you for welcoming me with such big, open arms. I love all the girls on this AGLM team and am so excited for them to start dreaming up new, big things for you all.  I will definitely be keeping up with the community, but this time from the reader’s side.   Matt and I will also be sharing updates on our adoption journey over at my blog and would love to share that new season with you as well.

Much love to each and every one of you.  Thank you for being YOU!

– Kelsey

Faith, God, Spiritual Life, Uncategorized

Discipline of Faith

May 14, 2015

AGLM (99 of 1)

 

I got on this morning excited to see what was written on the blog and didn’t see a post and the thought that…”oh no, I hope I didn’t get my weeks mixed up” hit hard. Sure enough it was my week to write and I messed up.  The funny thing about it is that I want so badly to show you my best. It weighed on me all day. I felt terrible.  I hated being the one who slacked, who was’t as committed. The one who didn’t think to double check her dates.

Since I goofed and was not prepared I’m going to be really really honest with you guys…is that ok? Ok good.

Today has been hard. Right now is hard. I went into my evening ready to sit down and write to you some sort of well thought through wisdom and my internet decided to stop working again. My husband and I somehow got into a big fight. I then cried in public at dinner because the exhaustion just couldn’t be held in anymore. Then I had that sickening moment…you know the one…where your face is red and puffy, your nose is stuffy from crying, you can’t seem to shake your emotions or clear your thoughts and you have to go sit…in front of people….in a loud crowded restaurant because that is all that is open with free WiFi. That embarrassing feeling that everyone must know you just bawled your eyes out (even though no one probably is staring at you enough to know). I sat staring at the blank screen fighting the tears that keep threatening to flow solely from exhaustion and defeat. What can I share with you?  That marriage is not always a walk in the park? That I lost my temper just an hour earlier? That I don’t always double check my schedule? That I’ve found myself ungrateful today for all the things I DO have and instead was beat down by the things I didn’t?   That while God has promised us something huge I find myself weary and my Faith growing thin?     Well that is what I am sharing. It’s all true. I am so reminded of my need for a savior in these humbling moments. These moments when I think I have something to offer that will be oh so special and it’s clear that all I have to offer you right now is real. Real tough, ugly, tear stained me.  In hopes that you, dear girl, would know that we have all been there…(I assume I am not alone)…we’ve all had those mascara running, want to hide in a hole moments in life.  As I re-read Steph’s post from last week and then read through the list of prayer requests you girls posted on Facebook I wanted to cry more. (Gosh what is wrong with me, someone bring me a tissue, lots of ugly crying going on here).  I read as you all shared in vulnerability your anxieties, fears, illnesses, hopes, new transitions, and longing for clarity in the unknown.

 

We are all walking a story of faith. It may look different for each person. Maybe the faith is yet to come, maybe it is there, but you are waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. I often find myself impatient, weak, grasping hold of the promise, but fighting that doubt that maybe He isn’t going to follow through, because the days keep passing me by.     As my husband and I read our Daily Streams devotion last night, we were reminded of a great detail to faith that we so often forget and miss when in the middle of the waiting. And I felt led to share it with you all:

“All things are possible to him that believeth” Mark 9:23″

“The ‘all things’ do not always come simply for the asking, for the reason that God is ever seeking to teach us the way of faith, and in our training in the faith life there must be room for the trial of faith, the discipline of faith, the patience of faith, the courage of faith, and often many stages are passed before we really realize what is the end of faith, namely, the victory of faith. Real moral fibre is developed through discipline of faith. You have made your request of God, but the answer does not come. What are you to do?  Keep on believing God’s Word; never be moved away from it by what you see or feel, and thus you stand steady, enlarged power and experience is being developed. The fact of looking at the apparent contradiction as to God’s Word and being moved from your position of faith make you stronger on every other line. Often God delays purposely, and the delay is just as much an answer to your prayer as is the fulfillment when it comes. In the lives of all the Bible characters, God worked thus. Abraham, Moses, and Elijah were not great in the beginning, but were made great through the discipline of their faith, and only thus were they fitted for the positions to which God had called them.

For example, in the case of Joseph home the Lord was training for the throne of Egypt, we read in the Psalms;

‘The word of the Lord tried him.’ It was not the prison life with its hard beds or poor food that tried him, but it was the word  God had spoken into his heart in the early years concerning elevation and honor which were greater than his brethren were to receive; it was this which was ever before him, when every step in his career made it seem more and more impossible of fulfillment, until he was there imprisoned, and all in innocency, while others who were perhaps justly incarcerated, were released, and he was left to languish alone.

These were the hours that tried his soul, but hours of spiritual growth and development that, ‘when his word came’ (the word release), found him fitted for the delicate task of dealing with his wayward brethren, with a love and patience only surpassed by God Himself.

No amount of persecution tries like such experiences as these. When God has spoken of His purpose to do, and yet the days go on and He does not do, that is truly hard; but it is a discipline of faith that will bring us into a knowledge of God which would otherwise be impossible.”   ~Streams in the Desert May 12

 

Oh how we so often want to hide those things that make us less than perfect, tuck those “flaws”  away to be felt alone in the dark car, behind closed doors, away from faces. We want to put our best foot forward, we want everyone on social media to see the happy, faithful, strong women that we are…or we go the opposite and run to our phones and complain about how terrible our life is and how God just isn’t meeting you where you need to be met. Lets all get to the point where we can look at each other and see each other’s hearts. acknowledge that we all have our moments of defeat, discouragement, fear, and just the need for a good cry….but then let’s wrap our arms up under their shoulders, stand up straight and challenge each other to keep putting one foot in front of another…to not sit in the weight of one bad day, to not sit in the complaining that the days are going by and God made a promise…so where is our immediate gratification? Lets challenge each other to walk through the discipline of faith. Together.  Today was not a great day. But I’m going to choose to get up and face tomorrow as an opportunity to grow in that discipline, so that I may be used to my fullest when the victory of Faith comes. Would you join me?

Identity, Uncategorized

I am a Memory Maker

April 15, 2015

aglmblog3 (7 of 1)I am a photographer, journaler, doodler, sentimental keepsake keeper.

I have a box of journals dating back to my childhood, the pages filled with all the little and big life moments I deemed important. I kept notes and letters from friends and family, I have loads of photos and each one has a story I could tell to go with it. My childhood best friend and I went on a little getaway while I was in Colorado and spent the evening reminiscing over old notes to each other (written with gel pens of course), giggling over our KidPix obsession, and going through old photos. They were all filled with stories and memories that were evidence of a God breathed friendship that even 10 years apart couldn’t sever. I’m just sentimental to the point of probably keeping way more than I should, but I love stories. My stories and other’s stories.  I love remembering. Not dwelling on things but remembering how important this story is that God is writing.

I love to capture moments.

I am a reminiscer.

Oftentimes I wonder if my passions and love for these things is bad. I hang out with my minimalist friends and fight the panic in the back of my mind that I need to go throw all of my keepsake boxes away right now, because I have too much. I find myself wondering what they will think if they see my non-minimalsit house someday filled with walls of photos and bookshelves of memories. I read all these blogs and articles about how we should put down our cameras and I fight the guilt of knowing I constantly have either my camera or my phone camera in hand. I question if I am missing out on life because I am trying so hard to capture it. I wonder if what my natural desire is is wrong because society is telling me so.  I try to stop and remind myself that neither is right or wrong. I can learn a lot from my less sentimental friends, my more minimalist friends, but God has created me to love stories. It overflows to how I relate with people, how I desire to serve people and how I experience life fully.  I do understand that we need to be present in the here and now, we need to set aside distractions, however…when something is a natural passion and desire, the thing that makes you come alive, pursue it.  Capturing memories is a natural part of me. Even in those crazy times when things don’t go as planned I love to make a memory of it, to laugh through it and capture it, so it can be reminisced about later.  I love instagram not because it is social media but because in this season of my life I have been just too tired to journal (which is so sad), but it allows me to capture snippets and memories of everyday. I can capture those silly moments when things don’t go as planned, travel gets crazy and laughter takes over.  It allows me to look back and read through the short captions and remember where we were a year ago, a month ago, a week ago. Matt and I love looking through and being reminded of just how blessed we are, how God has brought us through so many ups and downs. Plus I love scrolling through other people’s stories.

Taking my camera out to capture nature, architecture and people on the street is a form of worship for me. It requires me to slow down and often stop to take time to look at what is in front me and capture the moment. It forces me to take everything in and acknowledge that I serve a great God.  Plus, most of the moments end up becoming fun memories. When we were wandering Paris my sweet husband was so patient, we would set up the tripod at night to capture the City of Lights and since each photo takes several seconds to shoot we could end up sitting there for an hour or more. Those moments forced us to slow down from our usual rushing to each site and just sit and really soak in where we were. Be present with each other and take in with wide eyes what an amazing setting God had brought us to.

Maybe for you it’s not capturing photos or journaling memories. Maybe it’s cooking. Mixing the ingredients together to create something that smells and tastes incredible. Maybe it’s building something, creating something, playing an instrument, organizing, etc. Sometimes God gives us gifts for us to enjoy and to use to give back worship to Him. He created us unique and individual to offer service and gifts to the world around us. So if you cook…take the time to do so, enjoy it fully, cook simply because it brings you joy, do it for yourself and do it to serve others. If you are gifted at playing an instrument, play. Play for yourself in a quiet room, enjoy it, do it as worship, serve other people with your gift. Whatever your gift may be instead of feeling like you should adjust to be more like so and so or fit into such and such group….use those gifts. Don’t allow them to become idols or distractions…instead use them as worship to the One who blessed you with them, use them to serve and bring joy to others. Those gifts and things that make you feel alive are part of you. They play a part in your identity.

Be you.

Faith, Forgiveness, God, Redemption, Uncategorized

A Bear Introduced Me to Jesus

February 11, 2015

Young woman waiting for the train

I began my relationship with Jesus via a bear…not a real one but one that was a man dressed up like a bear. Now that is not the way most people start their journey with Christ, but what I know is that when I was 6 during a show at church for kids, God drew me to Himself. That’s where it began but certainly not where it ended.

We all have struggles that we just can’t seem to get past, sins that we pray would go away but are still lurking in our minds every day, and the guilt of that specific time when we really messed up. Or maybe it’s something that happened to you that wasn’t necessarily your responsibility, but you feel like you’re still tainted, scarred, and you just want it to be erased.
I grew up being the church girl, and I really did love God! I wanted to to grow in my relationship with Him and tell my friends about Him. But, probably just like you, I still remember the countless times in high school and college when I thought to myself, “Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I stop? If others only knew how bad I really am for what I do and think…”

I wanted to obey God because I knew he saved my life when I was 6 years old. But still I would have selfish, lustful, straight-up-mean girl thoughts about others. I knew it was wrong because it wasn’t “Christian”, but I didn’t know how to stop.
I would fight myself to get rid of these “dirty” thoughts. I hid my sin because I knew it was not honoring to God, but it was just making me feel worse and worse.

I wanted a way to restart. I wanted a way to go back when I first decided to follow Jesus, to be able to STOP doing what I didn’t want to do, and to erase all the sins I kept committing. I wanted to be the girl that God wanted me to be. I knew that I would find joy and freedom there, but I didn’t know how to get there.

I began to really search what it meant to be a follower of Jesus despite my sin and the struggles I faced. I read a lot of books on what the gospel really means. I went to a church that explained the gospel so clearly in a way that I had never understood it before even though I grew up being a “church girl.”

Something began to click and I felt like I had been given a restart every single day and even every single moment. Even on my worst of days, God revealed to me how I could have a clean slate, a do-over. I knew I would still struggle with sin, but I realized that even in the midst of my struggle, Jesus gave me a gift when I first received him when I was 6 that trumps any gift I could ever receive.

One of my favorite Christian authors explained the gospel in a way that made total sense to me…

When you make the decision to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord, he not only forgives you by wiping your “slate” clean, but then he takes your clean “slate” and writes on it “RIGHTEOUS”. So not only have your sins been completely forgiven, meaning God chose to completely remove your sin, but then he chose to mark you as PERFECT!

Stop for a second and just think about that paragraph above as deeply as you can. If you understand it, it should revolutionize your entire LIFE!

He doesn’t just forgive and forget. He literally makes you a perfect daughter in His sight, and he wants you to believe this even more so on your worst of days when you feel like a complete mess up because those days will still come.

It’s ok if you don’t have it all together. It’s ok if you mess up and just don’t understand why you still struggle even though you pray every day. God knows your struggle. He knows your pain. And he is with you the entire way. It’s a journey, and it’s all for your good.

The difference is that you no longer have to feel guilty because you aren’t!

You no longer are damned or screwed because God sent Jesus to die in your place so that you could receive Jesus’ perfect life AS YOUR OWN! There is nothing you can do to screw it up once you are His. The gospel is a mystery and entirely beautiful because through the gospel, Jesus gives us a new life, a do-over, a restart forever.

I want to end with what the Bible says about this since it actually has power compared to my mere words :-)

Here is what Romans 8:22-25 says about this with my added comments in parenthesis,
“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction

(no matter how bad you think your sin may be or how good you think you are):

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified

(or made “right”)

by his grace as a gift

(nothing we could have ever done on our own to earn this),

through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation

(which means Jesus bore all God’s wrath IN YOUR PLACE)

by his blood, to be received by faith.”

 

This amazing news will change your life the more you begin to understand it and give God the praise and glory for it.

Will you let it change your life?

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Introducing Stephanie!

December 18, 2014

***ATENTION!!! Due to our lack of tech savvy…and the stupidity of the internets, this video is the same interview posted back to back. So once you get to the end of the first interview, stop watching!!! Man…we promise to get smarter in 2015 😉 ***