mom. i miss you already.
You were the strongest and most passionate woman i knew and you taught me to be the same. You showed me that if you fight for what you believe in you can make a difference. You showed me that the choice to always believe in people and for people was well worth the risk and that being a hopeless romantic was always the right choice. You encouraged me to dream and be creative and that there was nothing I couldn't learn how to do. You did your best to give me everything and you made sacrifices for me I'm sure i never knew about. I told you once that you'd know my husband before I did and today, austin reminded me of the first night you met him two weeks after we started dating. Remember how in the middle of the meal you asked me to step outside of the restaurant with you, where you then told me he was "the one"! You were crazy and fun in the best way and you drove me crazy sometimes, as every mom does to their kid. But you were mine and i loved you.
Thinking of you now, did you know that it was you that taught me the most valuable lesson of all: to love without condition.
I knew that with you mom, no matter what i did or did not do in life that you would receive me and love me just the same. I knew that with you mom, that your arms were forever and always outstretched towards me. I knew that with you mom, I was loved and wanted.
mom, you showed me the most important thing in life and you put it on display. You pointed me to the one in which true unconditional love comes from and now you get to live with Him in eternity! I'm so grateful that i got 30 years with you and i'm gonna miss you so much but i'm so happy that you get to dance and sing forevermore surrounded by unconditional love Himself. love you mom, here's to your new forever.
with all my love,
Here in this run-down building in Knoxville, Tennessee lays a sacred place.
With it's tattered walls and run-down exterior you wouldn't think much of it as you drove past. In fact it's more likely you'd miss it than to point it out. It's just an old building, easily forgettable.
On Tuesday night I stood in this old building and watched something amazing happen.
The glass doors opened to this old brick and mortar, ushering in a few hundred people. People from all walks of life: young and old, grandfathers and babies, homeless and well off. All races, from all places, all came together for one thing... a united pursuit of Him. Jesus.
There was no stage nor anything flashy, just a simple grouping of instruments waiting for the songs of hungry hearts to play.
As the band played, the people sang, even if they didn't know the words. I know because I heard the passionate sounds of voices eager to sing along. There was no hyping or coaxing to get people involved, in fact I think the group who came was louder than the band themselves.
I stood in awe of the beauty. The unity on display was more breathtaking than the music or the words being sung. The unity was the thing to marvel and bask in this night. I've learned that seeking God is beautiful, but to seek Him in His people is something even deeper, more mysterious, and ultimately harder. But God on display through His people unified is a sacred thing. Like when you see someone helping an older person across the street, or when people go out of their way for one another, or when people just hug you like they mean it. It's something that stops us in our tracks, something that makes us wonder a little. God's people are what Jesus came for and when we unify it looks a little more like heaven here on earth. It looks a little more like life abundant, doesn't it?
There was a verse of a song this night that I haven't been able to shake, as it stirs inside me.
"I know God has not forgotten all that's lost and broken.
So come and see the turning of the tides, come and see the sons and daughters rise.
For how could He who did not spare His own son not freely give us victory against the darkest of night."
There's hope in these words, there was hope in that normal Tuesday night, and there was hope in a room full of people united in pursuit. And I'm resting in these words, resting in hope, and resting in the fact that God has not forgotten all that's lost and broken. So, we will see the turning of the tides, we will see the sons and daughters rise!
I have a list journal where each section begins with a prompt, inspiring you as you create your lists. Today the prompt read:
“List the ways you can cleanse your life for spring.”
a simple prompt, that stirred deep within me.
i stared at the words on the page, readying my pen as thoughts about decluttering my closet or getting more organized ran the race to be written first, all of the sudden a completely different idea jumped in front… the words came out on the paper before i could even comprehend them.
Negativity. break up with it.
it's hard to say when this crept it's way in a made a home in my heart, but I was very aware that the words I had written rang true in my spirit. when rough patches happen it's easy to open the door to the negativity as it seems to always be a ready companion, and if we aren't paying attention it will ever so subtly sneak in and tint the way you see life. you begin saying things you don't really mean, or even using it as a safe guard against getting into certain conversations. sometimes, I've even found myself mistaking negativity for "being real" about something... but without a doubt my heart always knows the difference no matter how I've tried to justify it.
our Creator is always finding new ways to pull back the curtain so we may see the deeper things at work within ourselves.
the truth is that negativity is not a part of the person I am, nor a reflection of my personhood or character.
the truth is that things like negativity are just a symptom, and clue that catch our attention to highlight something deeper going on within.
the truth is that negativity can be redeemed just like everything else God created and God's not afraid of the job.
the truth is that He loves us so much that he will wait on us to realize we don't need negativity or the like to serve as false safety anymore, and with open arms He will exchange it for His perfect and original design for our hearts.
the truth is that God is not white knuckling it wondering when I'm going to "get it right." He is not afraid of my humanity or weakness. He has never stopped reaching His arms out to us and He never will.
I pray that the surrender of this negativity will spring forth new life as it is redeemed into hope that can not be quenched and joy that can not be diminished.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.””
"When I say artist I mean the one who is building things … some with a brush – some with a shovel – some choose a pen.” -Jackson Pollock
as long as we've been on this earth we've been created for a purpose. we've even been created in the image of the Master Artist to continue being artists. in fact, even the first assignment given to Adam was to create, by naming the animals. the very etymology of the word create means: 'to make something out of nothing.'
so it would seem, that it just may be our birthright to be makers of things and creators of art.
what I love about this is that it's not limited to a certain type of creating. it's not mutually exclusive to musicians and painters. even accountants and doctors have the ability to make something out of nothing. the fact simply is, we all do.
there's something innately magical about the idea that we all have that piece of our Heavenly Father and whether that piece looks like baking, weaving, calculating, woodworking, jewelry making, solving equations, or simply making dinner... there is a powerful piece of all of us at work echoing the call of creation through our very minds, soul, and hands.
by Him we were created, by which we create.
mothers, dancers, lawyers, children, painters, singers, and C.P.A's alike.
a lot has changed in the past few months. a lot.
some changes I can make sense of, and others I can't even find a speck of understanding with. I suppose that just may be the nature of change though isn't it?
I've never been one to shy away from change, I've always been one who's embraced, even enjoyed change. however, this particular season of switch around, has not just been spiritual, or ethereal... it's been down right visceral. and that's down right hard.
it's easy when you can gear up for certain shifts. you can position your heart, posture your mind, you can come to terms with things before they actually take place.
then there are certain changes we never saw coming, we call those changes... unexpected.
those ones, are one of two things and rarely anything else. they are either the greatest thing on earth, or they freaking suck so hard. various portions of my last year were the latter. really sucky.
am I the only one who was hoping 2015 would fade into a faint memory and 2016 would restore everything lost by the wiles of 2015? no? I didn't think so.
the truth is good or bad we all go through different shades of the same problems, changes and, transitions. we all have great changes and down right sucky ones. we all wish things could get better, or that they could just stay the same at times. we are human.
the hard thing I've learned is that there's something to be gained, a truth if you will, about who we are created to be in every single, change, season, and transition. there's an inner depth in a visceral experience that begs to be explored and sought out in each of us, for ourselves and for other people. it's like a lottery system that hurts like hell but the reward is a little bit more of heaven. we uncover in every trench we encounter that who we are is always stronger than we once thought, always smarter then we gave ourselves credit for, and always capable of more than we dreamed possible
The amount of time I've recently found myself mindlessly scrolling through the inter-webs has become extremely startling to me, and more or less has freaked me out.
This isn't a knock on social media, or an inspired piece of writing on how we dont experience life like we use to in the "olden days", and this isn' my vow to never engage in social media again.
This is just me, in process.
This is just me learning.
I'll start by saying that i have a supernatural gift. I mean like superhuman status. My gift is my unbelievable talent of jam-packing-till-the-seems-are-bursting my schedule.
and now being married, my husband's schedule.
Sincerely, i'm curious if there's some sort of competition i could enter because i'd bet a pretty large dollar sum on my ability to win that thing!
My old roommate before i was married would ask me often if i ever slept...... if that's saying anything.
Going into our marriage Austin and I decided that streamlining our commitments and schedules would be the best thing for us. To ensure that we had space and time for just simply being married, hanging out, making out, and learning to live life as one.
That sounded like this amazing idea at first, but the thing about being married to Austin.... is that I literally feel like I can run through walls, or fly, or climb everest, like there's nothing i couldn't conquer in this world. So, with the "time" we so intentionally created for just "living" and "breathing"..... I so very quickly filled it with all the things.
I'm amazing at going and doing, not amazing at stopping and being. (Things i'm learning about myself.)
After a few months of GO GO GO, a jam packed schedule, and lots of life shifting events... two weeks ago, i sat in silence for the first time in what felt like ages.
I was texting with a friend of mine and i simply texted "I wish I had an Ali hug right now", thinking about that and looking at the words I began to cry. I started to realize that in the midst of all the "going" and "doing", i hadn't stopped to check in on the condition of my heart. My heart was completely offline, totally neglected, and months of processing through life events, and feelings... had never happened. Instead, I made the choice in my overwhelmed state to stay offline emotionally, but online, scrolling my quiet times away through Instagram and Facebook, Pinterest, and funny videos on youtube, also, some mindless Netflix television shows.
I completely love the whole community aspect of platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and even Pinterest has a level of that community essence.
I love being inspired by visuals. (I'm super visual, so I get pumped on pictures.)
I love to see photos of friends, their kiddos, revelations and inspirations, delicious paleo food, and various other pretties that I see when i'm scrolling about.
But the questions looming over me were:
your online, but are you really online?
how engaged in real life, and relationships are you?
the tricky complexity about seeing pictures of your friends and community every day is that subconsciously you feel a connection to them.
But my personal hard truth, is that:
liking a photo isn't the same as having a conversation, and just seeing what your friends are up to isn't actually being a friend.
Reading about Jesus and things inspired by Him, isn't the same as being in relationship with Him.
granted, it's a lovely form of connection, but i have learned the hard way is that connection is not communion. And good is the enemy of best.
the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.
Communing is actually the part of connection i believe we as humans most often times miss. The intimate exchange of who we actually are, and how we are really feeling.
It's the very exchange of our true hearts condition, to hear anothers.... these are the elements that make up true community. These are the elements that books, songs, and history are written about.
The most understood depiction of Communion is in the Bible. The scene is set in the book of Matthew where Jesus is celebrating Passover with the twelve disciples.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
In this passage of scripture, Jesus, in an intimate community of friends, gave of Himself to them.
He shared with them what was present in His heart through the symbolism of bread, then He also shares on what lies ahead for Him as He communicates the symbolism of the cup and the new covenant.
Jesus lived out in perfection what the art of communing with one another looks like.
And just like that, even my complete understanding of community hungs in the balances of processing this revelation. Because in this depiction, it's not just that they're doing life together. But in this passage, He was sharing so much more than just a meal with them, He was sharing time, space, and the true condition of His heart. This is true intimacy. True communing builds the human capacity for love and life through the vulnerability of self in safety.
This includes first communing with our own heart. Taking those moments before the Lord to just look on the condition we are in. Being intentional about the time and space where we commune with Jesus. Time and space He longs to have with us so we can walk with Him in His capacity through processes, emotions, and life.
Communing with Jesus shines a light on the true interworkings of the heart, and creates a safe haven for process, and in turn brings us into pure freedom through Him.
Here's to the process.
and truly learning to commune with Jesus through the exchange of heart.
+ shout out to my husband, a man who knows what it looks like to truly commune, and ask the heart/hard questions. i'm learning to take our lead here.
the ‘to-do’ list, the laundry, unpacking our suitcases, cleaning, and working on some logo’s today, then getting ready to leave again this weekend... at this point, it just might be easier to wrap some caution tape around our front door, but then I assume people would think we were just decorating for Halloween.
I have a friend who's really good at thankfulness. she's brilliant at capitalizing the simple things and letting them shine in glorious gratitude.
today, in the midst of my piles of darks and whites, i thought of her and i thought of that light of gratitude that seems to be beaming out from her life. There is a power in being grateful, a gentle surge of joy that radiates through it, a subtle yet constant building of soul when we live it. a beautiful humility that weaves itself into our very nature, that looks so much like Him.
surrounded by these piles of clothes and and cleaning products, i choose to posture my heart and thoughts towards gratefulness.
grateful that I have a home that i can wash my clothes in, sit down in, and sleep in.
i’m grateful for my husband and his radiant love.
I'm grateful for fall, and that it means my husband will soon be wearing my absolute favorite fall sweater i’ll be packing today, the sweater that always reminds me of our honeymoon. grateful for what it means to be a witness to another’s life, and how it so sweetly pushes us to become the best versions of ourselves.
after three years of silence in terms of songwriting, I'm thrilled to say I've got a new song to sing!
I used to be easily frustrated by the attempt at songwriting. it felt like every time I sat down to release something, the opposite would happen. I'd lock up. Over the past few years, I've had countless words about my "songwriting" and the irony... was that I wasn't writing at all. I would pull out my guitar and play and play and play....nothing. not just a few times of perceived failure, it was a few years. I was getting so frustrated and I kept asking God why He would release so much over me about songwriting when I clearly wasn't a songwriter.
then I started to just resent it, and I didn't even try anymore.
but what I didn't understand until now, was that I was doing two things. 1. I was being a my own obstacle (or a brat). I was not pressing in for breakthrough and I was expecting it to be easy. I was expecting the songs to write themselves and to just happen without my pursuit of Him in this kind of creativity. I was expecting to just arrive..... when will I learn.... this model that we never "arrive". that only teaches us to be non-relational and that just simply isn't God.
2. I was and am learning, and acquiring subject matter, and having to break myself from the system of how I am "used" to doing things.
God was after the relational part of me in creativity. He was prepping a path that called for the key of communication and relationship in order for me to unlock the door. in order for me to see the other side. God is so good that He wants to partner with us in all aspects of our lives and when we stop seeing roadblocks as problems and star seeing them as opportunities to get a new heavenly perspective, I believe it's then we will get the breakthrough we are after.
God's word is true, and when He tell us who we are, that is always more true than the present circumstances. it wasn't that I wasn't a songwriter... it was that I needed to press in to see the word come to pass. I needed to see the wall and ask Him where to draw the door to get on the other side.