Category Archives: Change

Hike to the Cross

Last week, I attended my third Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I usually write a recap post telling you about attending writing classes, talking to publishers, meeting new friends, and so on. I had all of those experiences again this year, but I wanted to share another story from the conference with you this year:

Hike to the Cross

The Cross at Mount Hermon

My alarm blares at 5:30 a.m. on Palm Sunday morning. Warm and cozy in the little cabin, I can’t imagine why I would get up so early when breakfast isn’t served until 8 a.m. Before I pull the covers back over my head, I glimpse my hiking clothes stacked neatly on the other bed. I recall the annual hike to the cross that I have managed to skip every year at the conference. For a non-morning person, a 6 a.m. hike sounds great the night before but feels like torture when actually getting out of bed. It’s dark and 42 degrees outside. Perfect. While getting dressed, I change my mind three different times about going. Finally, I stumble out the door to meet the group. Still grumpy, I avoid eye contact with anyone who might strike up conversation. I hike up the paved trail, staying in the middle of the pack and slowly losing my bad attitude as the exercise warms up my body.

The hike gets more intense as we get closer to the top. We are hiking to the summit of Mount Hermon where a wooden cross sits atop the Santa Cruz Sandhills. Our guide tells us these sandhills in California are unique, the only ones in the world. The temperature drops as we climb higher. At sunrise, we reach the summit and the large cross, which is as impressive as the view.

After looking around at the sights, I notice a bag that looks like a heavy computer briefcase sitting at the foot of the cross. I wonder who hiked up here carrying it. How ridiculous, I think. What could possibly be so important that it couldn’t be left in the room during a short hike? As our guide gathers us for prayer, a lovely woman with an accent tells the group she carried the heavy briefcase up the mountain. It represents the burden she’s been carrying regarding her dreams of writing and having a book published. She realizes she’s been carrying this heavy load on her own and needs to turn her dreams over to God. So, she packed this bag and hiked up the mountain to set it at the foot of the cross.

She’s not overly emotional, yet the impact of her words is staggering. I recall my cynicism when first seeing the bag. I hadn’t even noticed this woman lugging a heavy case up the mountain. I grumpily hiked up that trail thinking about the critiques of my writing, publishing contracts, and my scheduled meeting with an agent later that day. In a single act of obedience, she gave each of us a beautiful picture of surrender, more meaningful than any sermon on the topic.

Early on that Palm Sunday morning, a time I would normally be sleeping soundly, I hiked back down the trail a little lighter. My new friend wasn’t the only one who left behind a few things at the foot of the cross.

Content and Photograph Copyright 2012. Allison @ Anointed With Grace.

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Filed under Change, Faith, Travel, Writing

His Gentle Pursuit

This past weekend, I attended the She Speaks conference in North Carolina. There were 600 women all in one place worshiping God and learning about speaking, writing, blogging and women’s ministry. The Proverbs 31 Ministries team did an amazing job preparing and hosting the conference.

I could write an entire post about any of the following:

  • Attending the fabulous writing courses which re-energized me;
  • Meeting tons of women who are passionate about serving Jesus;
  • Feeling special because the Proverbs 31 staff members prayed for each of the attendees by name leading up to the conference and made it such a special experience;allison annie
  • Seeing some familiar faces from Mount Hermon—including my Nash-friend Annie. Annie is the one who told me about the conference and has been such a great inspiration with all of the writing business;
  • Meeting a couple of my favorite bloggers in person and acting a little starstruck like a fool! Sophie and Melanie were both so sweet and gracious; it was such a pleasure to meet them after reading their blogs for the past year;
  • Learning about exciting new ministries that are planning to serve young women (incourage and She Seeks).

Instead, I want to tell you about Saturday night. After 12 hours of amazing sessions learning more about writing and blogging and ministry, I began to reflect on Jesus’ gentle pursuit of me during the past year. Although I never felt bullied or bossed, he gently tugged my heart into making some really big decisions. He lined up my path with his (much better) one.

I became so full of gratitude as I contemplated the past year . . . how he guided me to quit a job that I hated, pursue dreams I didn’t even know were so deep and real, start a blog, begin to write a book (yikes!), and become the kind of person who cannot settle for living a mediocre life full of busyness and to-do lists.

Most importantly, I am more in love with my Jesus than I was a year ago. I now understand that it’s not about being able to visualize your dreams and do things to make them come true. It’s about taking the first step of faith, learning how be an authentic person, and letting Jesus work out the details. Thank goodness he didn’t let me choose my own path; I would have settled for something far less than the amazing path he chose.

P.S. I feel the need to add something here. This doesn’t just apply to me. Yes, I am special and God is pursuing me. But you are special and God is pursuing you too. He is not going to force you into anything. In my experience, he has been extremely patient and waited a long time for me to turn and seek his purpose. Also, when I made mistakes, he didn’t stand there and judge me like a disapproving father. He stood there filled with compassion because he knew there was a more fulfilling path for me. He doesn’t want us to settle for less than him!

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Filed under Change, Faith, God, Travel, Writing

Welcome to Anointed With Grace

Welcome to my new blog! I recently moved over from Blogger (i.e. blogspot). Let me know how you like the new site; I am still working on updating some links, but it has been a fairly seamless transition. All of my historical posts are located here, and I will be posting some new ones very soon.

A few details about the new digs:

I took the header photograph in Venice, Italy from the top of the bell tower located in St. Mark’s Square. It is one of my favorite city scenes.

Also, in case you are curious, the blog title comes from Psalm 45:

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
as I recite my verses for the king;
my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
You are the most excellent of men
and your lips have been anointed with grace,
since God has blessed you forever.
Psalm 45:1-2

I pray that each of you enjoyed a wonderful celebration of our Risen King this past Easter weekend. I spent a lot of time with my family and my precious 12-week-old niece. God is so good!

Look for new posts later this week. . .and remember to update your Google Reader and Links with the new url.

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Filed under Beginnings and Endings, Change, Holidays

Circumstantial Happiness

I have struggled throughout most of my 33 years with what I will label circumstantial happiness. Sure, I have been happy a lot of the time. But things have gone well a lot of the time, too. And when circumstances came along that weren’t so great, I became anxious, discontent, grumpy, etc. For the most part, I think this is our sinful human nature (or maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better). When I became a Christian, however, I didn’t suddenly become someone who could look past dire circumstances and have a rosy outlook because I was resting in Christ. I wanted to be that way. I sang the hymn He Leadeth Me and desperately wanted to be “content, whatever lot I see,” as the lyrics say. Alas, I’ve always been more of a “murmur and repine” gal.

So recently, I find myself a bit amazed. I have noticed a basic level of happiness and contentment that is present in my life, even when circumstances aren’t particularly going my way. It feels much better when I do not allow circumstances to give me mood whiplash. And I hope that this is a positive trend that remains. I realize that there will be discouraging times in the future and that God doesn’t promise us a life without painful circumstances. However, God does promise to lead us through the difficult times (Deuteronomy 31:8, Isaiah 43:2, John 14:15-17). And I believe it’s possible to have an inner contentment during these times – a peace that resides in me regardless of circumstances.

I see God’s fingerprints all over this gradual change in my attitude. I’ve done some really hard work over the past two years to deal with my “stuff” – with the help of a Christian counselor who is truly one of God’s greatest miracles in my life. We have done a lot of work together to improve my self worth, to heal some pretty deep wounds, and to deal with my fears and anxieties. This healing has opened up room for a deeper relationship with my heavenly Father…one where I can be centered on God and can truly appreciate how Joseph H. Gilmore wrote such beautiful words:

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

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Filed under Change, God