Browsing Tag

Written by: Allison

Faith, God, Spiritual Life

God is the visionary

April 6, 2016

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You know when you plan something in your life to go a certain way, but then God takes it and says, “Nope, I’m taking you somewhere different”…

That’s happened to me many times. And it’s happening to me now.

I know that God is for me. Even if life doesn’t seem good at the moment, He is using it for my good.

I know that God has a very specific and amazing plan for my life.

And I know that His plans are always better than my plans.

I have had so many times in my life that I’ve learned these things about God, like:

  • In high school I wanted and planned to go to a magnet school so badly that my best friends were going to, but I didn’t get in.
  • I tried out for the volleyball team in high school (I had already been playing volleyball at my previous school), but didn’t make the team.
  • I enrolled at my dream school in NYC the end of my senior year of high school but ended up not receiving the scholarship money I thought I would receive, so I had to go to a university in my home town.
  • One summer in college, I planned to go on a mission trip to Venezuela, but ended up breaking my leg so I couldn’t go.
  • In college I had at least 5 break-ups, and I obviously didn’t begin those relationships planning to break-up.
  • After I graduated from college, I applied to a job that I was 90% sure I was going to be offered, but they decided to hire someone else.
  • I wanted to move out of my home town and tried to find a way, but it was always clear that God wanted me to stay here.
  • I broke up with a guy right after college because I knew it wasn’t who God had for me after we both talked about getting engaged.

Those are just some of the major times I have learned that I may try to plan what’s best for my life, but ultimately, God is in control, and knows the best plan for my life.

He is the greatest visionary.

His plans for you are greater than yours could ever be, no matter how hard or how long you plan.

And out of all  8 of those major plans I had for my life, I don’t wish any of those to have gone the way I had originally planned. I am so glad I let go (or was forced to let go) and allowed God to establish my steps for me.

Since I graduated from seminary in December, I have been on a journey of figuring out what’s next for me. I am planning my steps, but again, God is the visionary for my life. He establishes my ways.

I’m learning to go after what I’m excited about doing and trying not to overthink it. If God wants me to continue in whatever that is, He will make a way. And if He doesn’t, He will make that obvious too. God doesn’t reveal His plan for you in the sky or spell it out for you in your cereal. It’s not always direct at first. That’s why He calls us to live by faith, not by sight.

Sometimes when God reveals his vision for us, it means letting go of something you love. Following God’s plan is an act of sacrifice and walking by faith is usually not easy.

The more that we trust Him and just step out and DO what’s in front of us, following desires and the steps He gives us, the more evident His plans become. Sometimes it’s hard to explain. And sometimes others won’t understand what you’re doing, but I promise that following God is worth it. Trusting and surrendering to God’s plan for you is the most fulfilling way to live. And even if you don’t understand  what He’s doing, that is the beauty of TRUSTING Him and not your own plans. You’ll look back on your life and see the beauty that God was weaving together for you all along.

Family, God

God is rich

March 9, 2016

 
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I grew up in an out-of-the-ordinary home. My parents are missionaries. We didn’t live overseas, but they have been on mission full-time mainly in Raleigh, NC with a ministry called Cru. Obviously my parents weren’t in it for the money, nor did we ever have an excess amount to spend where we wanted.

When I was little, I didn’t understand totally how this all worked.  I didn’t understand why we had to order water every time or split meals, why our house was smaller than most of my friends, and why we were always in money-saving mode. I was never stressed about my needs being met, but I didn’t understand how much my parents were living by faith to what God had called them to do.

I didn’t understand that everything we have is the total provision from God till I got older and had to pay for things myself. God not only met our needs because my parents trusted Him, but He also blessed us more than we could have ever imagined. He blessed us Christmas presents and vacations, but he also blessed us with an amazing childhood and community through Cru that I would NEVER trade for any amount of money. It has shaped me and made me who I am today, and I am so thankful for that.

My parents taught me one of the greatest truths about God which so many people are blind too because of our materialistic culture, and that is God is the provider. Everything we have is from God and ultimately belongs to God, not us. You will never know Him as provider without looking to Him only for your provision.

It is so freeing to realize that everything we have, money, friends, a home, food, gifts, education, etc., is from God and there’s nothing we could do to deserve it. And the more thankful you are for God’s provision, the more joyful and generous you will be. It helps you break free from comparison, worry, jealousy, and discontentment because you realize it doesn’t belong to you anyways.

When I was living on my own in college and graduate school, I could only work part-time to pay for rent, food, bills, gas, etc.  There were times that I would panic wondering how would I save and pay for rent the following months. And honestly, sometimes I was really really ticked. I wanted to buy my own car so I didn’t have to use my family’s. I wanted to go out to dinner with friends without having to choose the cheapest thing on the menu. I wanted to go to that concert that everyone else was going to but knew it wasn’t wise to spend money on it at the time.

But I would then always remind myself of two things, God has always provided for me, and everything I have is from Him. And that would always lead my heart to thankfulness instead of bitterness.

His word is true and still brings tears to my eyes when I read Matthew 6:25-33 because I can remember God telling me over and over to look how He constantly provides for the birds and the flower, so how much more will he provide for me, his daughter made in the image of God worth so much more than all the birds and the flowers!?

Girls, you are God’s precious creation, his daughter with whom he wants a deep relationship with… how much more do you think God will provide for you if he provides already for the birds and grass?!

And you know what’s crazy? The more you realize how much you have been given, the more you will want to give to others… even if you don’t have excess money, you still want to give anyways. That’s the result of God working in you. And no amount of money can buy the joy that He gives.

I want to encourage all of you today who may be worrying or anxious about money or finances… look to Him! He promises to provide for you. Aren’t you worth more than the lilies and birds of the fields? Yes, you are.

God

God Is

March 2, 2016

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Now that we have all shared some of the major stories in our lives, we hope that you feel more connected to us and a part of our community here at A Girl Like Me. We are also so thankful  for the girls that sent their stories in for us to share on the blog. We read every story even if it wasn’t posted, and we are so grateful that you took the time to share that with us! Nina, Chelsea, Ashton and I did NOT have an easy time writing out our story and posting on the blog, so we totally understand how hard it is to share! We are glad to let you in our lives more and also ready to move on as I am sure you are too! :)

This leads me to announcing our next series with you… GOD IS.

We just spent two months sharing our stories and talking about us… It gets draining!! The purpose of sharing about us is so you get to know us more and trust us more. Even though those were stories about us, God is the one who writes our stories. He is reason we even have a story and can share our story. So, we want to help you all know God more and trust Him more.

Each week, we will share with you a specific characteristic of God and how we have specifically seen this part of God in our lives. Our hope is that you will be encouraged and excited to know God more, but also that we will help you learn to see specific parts of who God is in your own life.

Sometimes I go through seasons of life that I can’t feel God and it’s really hard to hear from Him and read His word. I just don’t have a desire to, and that is normal and totally okay!!!! But then I hear someone share how God is working in their life and it reminds me that God IS real. He IS active and working at all times. Sometimes He just shows me that in others’ lives instead of my own at the time.

This is our hope and prayer for you girls as we enter this next series. We know that some of you are doubting that God is good or even real. We have been there too, and we are excited to start this journey together. And as always, we are always here for YOU! Reach out to us on the posts, Facebook or Instagram, or email! We would love to hear from you.

Let us know, What words would you use to describe God?

 

For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.

 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.

-2 Samuel 22:32-34

 

 

 

Body Image, Identity, Relationships, Sex, Your Story

The Serial Dater

January 13, 2016

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Allison’s Story

I really can’t remember a time that I didn’t like a boy.

In elementary school, I had a HUGE crush on this boy in church all the way up to middle school. He was clearly not interested in girls at the time (more like interested in making fun of girls), so I just dealt with the warm fuzzy feelings for him. Then I went to middle school, and again, I was interested in a few different guys all through middle school, but no boyfriend really because no one liked me back. But these years for me were not in my favor in physical appearance. At all…thanks to the big round glasses, super short hair with big bangs, and braces.

Once high school came, I improved a bit physically. I basically went on a rampage of having “things” with boys, which is when you aren’t officially boyfriend/girlfriend but still have this understood relationship without a real commitment. I was really good at having “things”.

I made a pact that I wasn’t going to have a boyfriend in high school because I thought dating should be meant for the purpose of finding your spouse. Obviously, I wasn’t ready for that, so instead of dating guys, I’d just lead them on. I thought this was okay at the time because it seemed harmless. Since I wanted to be a good girl, these “things” for me included hanging out alone together, kissing, and never really wanting a commitment. I was essentially playing with fire.

No serious damage was done sexually, but definitely some damage emotionally. These guys would say really crude and sexual things to me and try to get me to do sexual things with them. These relationships were solely based off attraction. I ended up feeling like a physical object for their enjoyment because I liked being desired.

I wish I had treated these guys in a way by showing them who Jesus is and how much He loves us. But I didn’t. I thought myself as a victim then, but now I see in so many ways that so much of what I experienced then was also my fault. I chose to be around guys that didn’t love Jesus, and I chose to lead them on.

As soon as I got into college, I got involved in a bible study with Cru in my dorm. One week they talked to us about boys and encouraged us to make a list of all the qualities/characteristics we want in our future husbands.

When I wrote my own list freshman year of college, I had almost 70 things listed. I was SO excited to pray that God gives me the kind of husband that would match my list. I thought this would help me stay away from the kind of guys I liked in high school.

I wanted to focus on finding the perfect guy who really loved God and would be a great husband. I used my list as my standard and to justify dating certain guys that were obviously not right for me. Some of the guys I dated said the right things as Christians should, but then our relationship went sour.

My initial instinct is to do whatever makes me feel good, just like my downfall with guys in high school. And honestly, it felt good and it was easy to keep going further physically. It seemed okay because I believed the lie that everyone messed up physically in a relationship, and as long as he was sorry and admitted he didn’t want to keep going that far physically, then we could stay together. I put more value in the good feeling rather than how it would affect me later.  Thankfully I didn’t have sex. But still the temptation was strong and this led to broken relationships. Instead of wallowing in these broken relationships though, I decided to remember God’s GRACE and how he loves me just the same. This motivated me to continue to follow Him alone. And there is SO much joy there!

I also dated some really great guys in college that I really thought I could marry. One in particular, my friends and family really liked. He truly loved God and it was evident in the way he lived. But I was still so confused and sad because deep down I knew that he wasn’t the one. By this point I was so frustrated because I felt like a serial dater, but all I wanted was to find my husband. I hated the long line of broken relationships I was causing though.

After years of dating, when I started hanging out with Jim, my now husband(!), I freaked out. I started liking Jim less than a month after I broke up with someone else. I was so nervous this one wasn’t going to work out either.

I was so tired and frustrated of dating, giving my heart to a guy that ended up not even being my friend, I knew that I could not do this on my own or figure it out on my own. I felt a HUGE need for God’s guidance and I was finally okay with letting go of control.

The pact that I made to not date and the list that I had to find the perfect guy, though these were not bad things themselves, still distracted me from where my focus should have been… I was focused on things that didn’t matter and that distracted me from following Jesus. HE is the giver of all good gifts. HE gives us peace, joy, safety, and security if we follow Him.

Jim and I both had a lot of doubts at the beginning of our relationships since we both had dated and it never worked out. But we also took a step of faith, each in our own way, and even though we didn’t necessarily feel like it, we decided to just focus on following God and being who He wanted us to be instead of worrying about the other person and what he/she was thinking.

I can honestly say being with Jim is better than anything I ever imagined. It all makes sense now and Jim and I both attest that the reason we are together is because God put us together, it was nothing we did on our own. And I am so glad that I can give all the credit to God for my marriage and not take any credit myself! He is the Giver of all good gifts.

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

Save me from myself

January 6, 2016

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Allison’s Story…

I first want to give you sort of an overview of my life from my earliest memory to the present. I really wish I could do this sitting across from you, face to face, probably with a latte in my hand, and with smiles in thankfulness and some tears in heartache. I definitely would laugh or smile even in sharing some of the hard parts because it’s difficult for me to share my insecurities and probably because I feel overwhelmed. So here it goes anyways.

By the world’s standards, I am the definition of a “good girl”. And that is a huge part of my story because even now I am anxious to share it with you because thoughts like, “my story is boring”, “I have nothing important to share”, and “I probably can’t explain it clearly,” are running through my mind. I keep telling myself that though my story isn’t super dramatic or juicy nor is there a point of radical change, I know that many of you can relate to it.

The core of me starts with my family. My family is awesome. I know God has really gifted me with an amazing family who knows and loves God deeply. My two younger brothers love and follow Jesus. My grandparents and parents have been in full-time ministry as a pastor and missionary my entire life. They all have raised me and poured so much love, wisdom, and truth in me. I am so much a product of their obedience and faithfulness to God.

I decided to be a follower of Jesus when I was 6 years old. Girls, I am STILL trying to understand why God gave me this story. Why He chose to save me at such a young age, save me from so much turmoil in my life because I genuinely wanted to follow Jesus from the very beginning.

I know in my head that this is a HUGE gift that I don’t deserve and I am eternally thankful for, but my ENTIRE life I have struggled with this. I know this sounds strange, but I secretly wished I had a more “radical” story to share with others.

It’s difficult for me to share my story about how God has saved me and changed me because I really never had the experience of being delivered from a life without Christ. And then I questioned in my head if I was ever really “saved” because I was so young.

As I was growing up, I loved going to every church event. I hosted bible studies for my neighbors when I was 9 years old. I shared the gospel with others around me. I wanted to read my bible, my devotional books, and pray. I wanted to live the life God called me to live.

Does this make me sounds perfect?? It probably does. And there’s the problem I experienced.

I was such a GOOD person… what did God actually save me from?!

In high school, I tried to stay out of trouble. I liked boys. A lot (more to come in part 2). I had the phases of being sassy and rude to my family, trying to fit in with the popular kids while still being “good”, and being flat-out ticked at God and others that I didn’t get my way. In other words, when I was tired of being the good girl, I was good at being a brat.

I had an internal battle between keeping up the good girl status because I wanted to please God since I loved Him, BUT I also thought at times that I could easily keep being a good girl on my own because that’s really all I knew.

I was totally missing a very important truth though.

It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to be good on my own. I could keep up the good girl status around others and keep checking off the major things God wanted me to do, but when I start to let the little sins creep in, it was very difficult for me to stop because I was trying to be good and not sin on my own.

I just hadn’t learned on my own the truth that there is NOTHING in me that is good. The “little” sins really mean sins that no one saw, so I didn’t think they were that big of a deal at first since no one but God knew about it. Some of these included lying, cheating, lusting, jealousy, selfishness, pride, anxiety, and arrogance. Just to name a few. And these were present in my life every day.

When I went to college, I didn’t have my family to hide behind, my youth group or my small private school. It was like God didn’t give me safety zones to hide in anymore. He took away any constraints or boundaries I had and let me figure out on my own who He created me to be and how I should view myself. And you know what is so amazing is that God never let me go. He never let me turn from Him.

God called me and has kept me since I was 6 years old. And once I understood this, it revolutionized the way I understood God and myself. It gave me so much freedom because I realized it wasn’t by my own doing that I was a good Christian, but totally God’s power. He gave me Jesus’ identity when I became a Christian. He already sees me as perfect. And He is the one who gives me the strength I need to turn from my sin and live in freedom. I learned how to let go of the bonds of perfectionism and the good girl identity.

Girls, I am not near perfect. I struggle every day. I struggle to love my husband unconditionally, to love God more than anything else this world has to offer, to be a selfless friend, daughter, and sister, to my keep my eyes, mind, and heart pure, and to not compare myself to others. I struggle with this and more every single day. But I also know that with every day and every struggle, Jesus is my perfection, Jesus is my salvation, Jesus is my identity. So I can stop trying to earn my goodness. I can find strength to overcome temptation, and I can find freedom even when I mess up.

I don’t have any “prodigal son” type times in my life. I don’t have a radical before and after Christ story.

But I am truly miracle. I am a miracle from God because for some reason He chose me and kept me since my beginning memories of life. And that is truly not anything I did on my own to deserve.

 

Uncategorized

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!

 

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, 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.

Faith, God, Relationships, Spiritual Life

Preparation

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

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