Category Archives: Travel

The Month That Was October

October has always been “my” month. It’s my birthday month and my favorite time of the year because of the gorgeous weather, autumn leaves, and excitement about the upcoming holiday season.

Thus, I always get a little selfish during October. I only do the things I really want to do. This year, that did not involve writing. At all. Not a single blog post or article or devotional. Looking back, I think I needed a break from the pressure I often put on myself. I love to write–until it becomes something on my task list instead of something that flows natural from experiencing life.

So, what did I do during October?

* Turned 34 years old; how is that possible? Most days, I feel younger/better now that I did when I was 25.

* Finished my consulting project and gained some much needed downtime.

* Went on a relaxing vacation with my family to Gulf Shores; it was my niece’s first trip to the beach!
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* Chaired an event for Preston Taylor Ministries that turned out beautifully (if I do say so myself!); it was the annual fall dinner banquet to honor PTM volunteers and celebrate joy-filled friendships.

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* Spent time repenting and extracting myself from some commitments that I placed on myself but that God wasn’t calling me to do/continue. There are so many good things that I can do, but I find myself filling up my schedule with these things and ignoring God nudging me in another direction.

* Starting jogging/running. I will pause here to let that sink in (for those of you who know me and wonder who just hijacked this blog post). I have always wanted to run, but never really believed I could do it. I would start a program and give up every time it became difficult (which was always in the first half mile). But someone special in my life convinced me that I could do it. And for some reason, his unwavering belief in me carried me through the tough start. I am now up to 4 miles (and loving it) and I plan to run the Boulevard Bolt on Thanksgiving morning!

Now you are caught up on me, for the most part. How was your October?

Hoping that November brings with it a renewed zeal for writing in my life and lots of time to reflect on our sovereign God.

allisonsign

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Filed under Family, My Crazy Life, Photos, Travel

Road Warrior

I know, I know. Two weeks without a blog post?

I have logged a lot of miles since my last post. In the past 10 days, I have only spent one night at my home. Here are some photos from my recent travels–from the Windy City to the Home of the Blues.

Fun weekend in Chicago sightseeing, eating, meeting up with friends, shopping, EATING, drinking homemade hot chocolate . . .

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Business trip to Memphis at the famous Peabody Hotel (with some fun thrown in on Beale Street) . . .
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I plan to start blogging regularly again—once I catch up on sleep, bills, laundry, work, and emails.

In the meantime, have you been anywhere fun recently? Blog about it and put a link in the comments for us!

allisonsign

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Filed under My Crazy Life, Photos, Travel

Jehovah Shammah

In Christian circles, we sometimes talk about how God “speaks to us” or “reveals something to us”. I often wonder whether this sounds like something from a sci-fi movie script to those who are not accustomed to such Christian jargon.

At times, I yearn to hear something from God. I am unsure how to listen for it, to hear the specific answer to my question or need. I now realize that sometimes God speaks most clearly when I am not straining to hear him; in these times, he makes himself known in a quiet moment of reflection or a passing thought that can only be from him.

This past weekend at She Speaks, I experienced some of these moments where God spoke directly to me to meet a certain need. Each time, he surprised me by answering a question that was not at the forefront of my thoughts—but a lingering question for him nonetheless.

Here is one of those moments (stay tuned for the other one in a future post):

I move from session to session, oblivious to the entrance of the prayer room that I walk by at least a dozen times on that busy Saturday. Instead, I earnestly look around for familiar faces among the attendees filling the hallway as I search for the next conversation.

Later that evening during the general session, the worship leader describes the time that she spent in the prayer room, mentioning something about the different names of God posted there. My mind wanders. I vaguely recall the P31 team mentioning a special room, a place for prayer specially set up for conference attendees. Oh yeah, I need to find that room and check it out.

After a particularly meaningful time of worship, I strike out in search of the infamous prayer room. It is a short search since I am standing right across the hall from the entrance. As I enter, I realize that many others had the same idea. The mood of the darkened room quickly takes over. Listening to the soft worship music playing, I notice pillows strategically placed on the floor and armchairs waiting to be claimed. Although the room is busy, I hear no voices other than whispered prayers.

Curious about these names of God, I move towards the tables at the end of the room. There are hundreds of personalized slips of paper—each printed with the name of a conference attendee, each attached to a larger piece of paper that proclaims a name of God from the Old Testament. I scan hundreds of names looking for my own, hopeful that the P31 team prayerfully linked up my name to just the right one.

They did. I stop and hold my breath as I read:

Jehovah Shammah
The Lord is There
The Lord My Companion

My heart has been searching for an answer. I am lonely, God. Even with all of the great friends you have provided me, even being in the midst of 600 sisters in Christ this weekend. I still want a companion. And could you please make him in the form of a hunky husband? 🙂

I think of God as my rock, my father, my hiding place, my provider and many other wonderful things. But as my companion? I never considered God in exactly that way. But he knows exactly what I need to understand.

Psalm 46 was one of the scripture references noted on that same piece of paper below the name of God. I love the whole chapter, but especially this verse:

God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day. Psalm 46:5

Recently, I have been saying that God knows and understands my needs in a much deeper way that even I do. He does. And now he wants me to understand that he is the only companion that will never fail, the one who is there within me, the one who will love me without ceasing. Jehovah Shammah.

allisonsign

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Filed under Faith, God, 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!

allisonsign

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Filed under Change, Faith, God, Travel, Writing