My Dreams

I was driving in my car the other day, on my way to work, and I decided to spend that time in prayer. I asked God, if He had anything He wanted me to work on or that He wanted to work on within me, to please show me and to start the work… I don’t think I was prepared for when He answered that prayer.

My Saturday morning devotions are some of my favorites because I’m not rushed. I spend as much time as I want reading, journaling, praying, singing, it doesn’t matter how long I spend. But one particular Saturday morning, here recently, God asked something of me and immediately I felt my heart start hurting.

You know those dreams we all have? The ones that we play over in our minds when we can’t fall asleep… The dreams that we perfect over the years of our young lives… I had/have a list of them and it goes a little something like this:

  1. Go to college ✓
  2. Begin my career ✓
  3. Teach in a major poverty area ✓
  4. Travel the world
  5. Write a story
  6. Pay off debt
  7. Have a house of my own
  8. Get my Master’s degree in something
  9. Get married
  10. Adopt a handful or more of children
  11. Live a long life, do well in my career surrounded by my family
  12. Have a great church family ✓
  13. Serve where I am planted ✓
  14. Love well
  15. See the Aurora Borealis
  16. Watch a Meteor Shower late at night
  17. Missions
  18. Become a well-practiced archer

Those are all beautiful things. They are things that I was told I should dream for. Things that they said God would give to me along the way as long as I waited patiently.  

God asked me to change my list of dreams. The things I hope for, the dreams that I have had in my heart since I was young. The dreams I played out with my Barbies… You know, because if it can work in Barbie land then it can 100% work great in my world too (the mind of an 8 year old). He asked me to change my dream to this:

  1. God

He asked to be my dream. He asked me to long to be with Him for eternity, for that to be my one longing. He has asked that all of these earthly dreams be put in their place and that He would be put first. And in all honesty, my heart hurt, because I knew what this meant.

For God to be my dream, I have to lay aside the dreams that lull me to sleep at night. The dreams I journal about, the dreams I pray about, the dreams that have become my idols, they all have to be put away. They’re not wrong, it’s not a sin to dream, but the shelf in my life that they’ve been sitting on isn’t a shelf like I thought it was. Those dreams have taken the throne in my life that only God should sit upon and He has been placed on the shelf meant for my earthly dreams. He is asking to take His rightful place.

For God to be my dream, I have to be content with not having a house of my own. I have to be content with singleness being my life for more than a “season”. I have to be content with not furthering my education or adopting children. I have to be content with serving Him and only Him in whatever way that looks like. When God is my dream, those earthly dreams become ways that I can serve God, instead of ways that God can serve me since I do “good” things.  

I’m finding out what it looks like to have God as my dream. Where my prayers go from “God show me how to live this life, here are my dreams, fulfill them please” to “God show me how to live a life that is honoring to You, guide me in the ways that honor You, where do You want me to serve You today Lord”…

You see, dreams aren’t the problem. Where they sit in your priority list is the problem. Often times, we can find God’s direction in certain dreams we have. When your heart longs to do something, to serve a certain people group, to go somewhere, through prayer and fasting, you may find that those certain dream were God-given. However, there are many times that we put all of our dreams on a pedestal and become entitled. We think that if we do our devotions, serve at church, and place God in a proverbial “center” of our lives, then He MUST give us our dreams. We make a checks-and-balance with God. I serve at church, You give me a husband. I pay my tithes, You provide me the house I want. God is not a Coke machine.

My heart hurts less as God becomes the center of my life. I realize that the dreams I must let go of are not the glorious things I put them up to be. They would have disappointed me. Compared to a relationship with God where I am all in, those dreams are so small. In light of eternity, those dreams mean nothing. When you delight yourself in the Lord, He becomes your desire.


Insomnia, a Blessing in Disguise

12:00 AM is not the time I usually plan to be productive. I’d rather be asleep in a room that feels like an ice-cube, listening to a fan, wrapped in multiple blankets, dreaming of the beach. Alas, my plans, or should I say my plans being unused and thrown away, seem to be the prime time for God’s lessons. While I do not believe God causes all of my plans to be thrown down the drain, I know He uses each detour for my growth. The smallest things seem to impact the biggest areas in my life.

There have been several times, too many to count to be quite honest, over the last two years of my teaching career that I have fallen asleep on the couch before 8 o’clock. By the time I wake up and walk to my bed, my brain sometimes decides that sleep is not on the agenda. For most of my life, when I could not sleep, I would get on Facebook or Instagram, and lay for hours watching videos mindlessly; filling my mind with things that was not helpful in life and complaining continually about how I could not sleep. I don’t know how many hours I have wasted doing just that. Then, one day I had a different idea. Instead of just laying in bed for hours, I decided to get up and make some use of the time. I cleaned, reorganized things, spent time with God, and blogged. It’s funny how such a little change can impact your life.

As I look back over these little hours of insomnia, I cannot explain how much it has actually helped me. Insomnia, for me, happens when I am busy beyond all compare and I have no time for the little things like cleaning and organizing. More often than not, insomnia happens when I have been so busy that my priorities get all out of whack and I am desperately needing time with God. Now I cannot say whether the insomnia is something God has caused or just something He allows, but what grace He has shown me through it. Grace to catch up on things, to spend time with Him, to breathe and relax.

I am becoming thankful for the insomniac nights. It’s not that 10:00-11:30 or 1:00 in the night hours is my favorite time of day, nor is it my ideal time for any of the said activities above. However, it is a quiet time of the day, it’s a time when it can be just me and God. It’s a time when I can be really productive and get a lot done in a short amount of time. It’s not ideal, but God has shown me a way to be thankful for it. God truly can use anything for the good.

Dear First Year Teacher

First Year Teacher,

I know you’re excited and scared. That’s okay. Many people have made it through this first year, and you will too! Here are a few tips I have learned over this last year, I hope it helps.

  1. Don’t let anyone quench that hunger to make a difference.
  2. Keep the enthusiasm. You’ll need it to push through the hard days.
  3. Never forget that the children know a great deal more than the world gives them credit for. Learn from them each and every day.
  4. Take the time to know them. They can turn your world upside down.
  5. On the days they say they hate you, or their actions tell you so, it’s going to be okay. I promise you that. Your mistake today will NOT make them failures. It does not make you a failure either.
  6. You have wonderful ideas. Yes, some of them will fail miserably; others will blossom into something you’ve never dreamed.
  7. Listen to the wisdom of others; the veteran teachers have some wonderful stories to tell.
  8. There are some things you will have to learn on your own and that’s okay.
  9. It’s just your first year honey, breathe.
  10. Take a day for yourself when you need it. Your mental, physical, and emotional health are all more important than turning in grades, or having perfect lesson plans. No, this doesn’t mean to call in sick all of the time, but it does mean that sometimes you miss a deadline, or the lesson is the bare minimum. You CANNOT give those kiddos what they need when you starve yourself all of the time.
  11. With that said… give those kids all of the love you have. I promise you they will give it back one-hundred times over.
  12. Be silly with your class. If you teach younger grades, take a recess time and play with them, or walk with them. Let them see you as a person (within the professional boundaries needed).
  13. If you don’t already have a de-stressing hobby, get one. You need something you can do that will distract your mind from teaching and help your body relax. Some great ideas are as follows: exercising, painting, blogging, writing, reading, coloring, or sewing. There are lots of great ideas out there, just find something. Finding something that you can throw yourself into, other than teaching, will help keep you from burning out.
  14. For goodness’ sake, shut your door and teach!



A Second Year Teacher that is still learning too!

Missions – Not What I Expected

I felt the call to be a missionary when I was 11 years old. I didn’t know that one way God would have me fulfill that call would be through teaching until about four years ago. Maybe one day I’ll travel around the world teaching the Good News. But right now, this is where I’m planted, to be the light to my kiddos in this broken system.

I remember it clear as day. I was eleven years old, sitting in my room at my desk. I know that year I received the Holy Ghost, but I don’t recall whether this moment happened before or after that time. Anyway… I was sitting at my desk looking at the corkboard hanging on the wall. I had pictures of friends and family, a few pictures of artists I loved listening to, you know, the typical pre-teen room display. Also on that corkboard was pinned a picture of a world map. It was there to remind me to pray for our missionaries. That day though, I just sat there, staring at the map. I felt something in me shift. I didn’t know the details; I had no idea what it meant. All I knew was that I was going to be a missionary. It was my calling to work on the mission field.

Fast forward to college; since that time when I knew my calling, sometimes it was placed on the forefront. It was all I looked at. However, other times I placed it in the background, basically forgetting it existed. I didn’t know how it would all play out and it scared me (still does sometimes). Almost every time I heard a missionary speak, or someone speak about missions, I would cry. I would listen to their stories and plead with God, asking, “WHEN IS IT MY TURN?” Then I would look at my life and feel like it didn’t measure up to the calling of a missionary. Do I really have what it takes? Does my life show Jesus to those around me? Am I doing this right?

After five years, I graduated college with a degree in early childhood education. I earned my certificate to teach the littlest of littles. I had no idea that this would be my first mission field. You see, I had these ideas in my head, ideas that kept that missionary calling fire in my heart going. But I don’t know if those ideals really meet where I’m going. Then again, maybe they do. I listened to life stories of missionaries; I studied their lives, I heard them preach at church. They all came from foreign lands, places where they had to give up everything and move off; they preach the gospel on the streets, some hide, preaching quietly to a group hoping the government won’t catch them, they live life with different people groups, loving, serving, teaching, sacrificing, feeding the hungry. And while my heart longs to travel, I haven’t heard the call to go live in another country just yet. I have heard the call though, offering me a job at a local school; where within the last five years free-and-reduced lunch has went from 5% to 75%; a place where children come in, in defense mode, because they stayed up all night to their parents fighting; a place where children come in, nearly starved for food just as much as for attention; their needs unmet to the point of desperation. I did not see this as a mission field. It did not even click until I read a blog post about teachers being missionaries.

Because my ideals were so focused on living in a small hut in another country with barefoot children running around, I neglected to see the children in front of me. I didn’t hear their cries, their pleas to be fed spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Whatever your calling may be, missions, preaching, teaching, mentoring, singing, translating, etc., please realize that the foundation of that ministry may look nothing like you think. You may be called to be a pastor, and right now all you are doing is scrubbing toilets. You may be called to lead the worship team and right now you are only singing in the shower. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay. I know it may seem like God took you on a detour and left you; I promise you He will never leave you, nor will He forsake you. This road that appears to be destitute, it’s part of your journey. A beautiful part. This is part of your calling. I would be willing to bet, if you are following God with all your heart, compare your calling to what you are doing now, they’re connected somehow.

If you still don’t know your calling, don’t lose hope. Live life as it is right now. Don’t rush it. Let God do His work; in His timing everything will fall into place.

Right now, small town USA is my mission field. In a broken world, every country needs missionaries.


More than Love

You know, there are some days that I feel like I’m doing pretty good. I had a good day at the job; I had time with Jesus; I went to the gym; I witnessed to someone; I did not rush around trying to get things done; I am all caught up on laundry and the house is cleaned; when someone made me angry, I calmly responded in a loving manner. I prayed before I acted.

We all have a list like that, don’t we? A list we check off of our conscious to make sure we are staying within our “good people” guidelines. The problem with this list is that even though all those things are good, when they are our checklist, we lose sight of our goal: “Well done, good and faithful servant…” We should be living every day, every moment with that goal in mind. When we forget that our goal is “Well done,” we forget what we are called to. We forget that our goodness is measured against God’s goodness. We forget to compare ourselves to God’s goodness, and we start comparing ourselves to others and our own past days of achievement.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. For perspective, I changed the word love to God, because we know Scripture says God is love.


1 John 4:8

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”


1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (Ali’s version)

God is patient.

God is kind.

God does not envy (unnecessary jealousy).

God does not boast of Himself excessively.

God is not puffed up.

God does not behave rudely.

God does not seek His own.

God thinks no evil.

God does not rejoice in iniquity.

God rejoices in truth.

God bears all things.

God believes all things.

God hopes all things.

God endures all things.

God never fails.

When I looked at this, I saw my sin. I saw how much I still need to grow. I then took my name, to see if I actually could check any of these things off a list:

Ali is patient… (eh mostly, when I’m not tired)

Ali is kind. (I mean, yeah, I think I have this one mostly)

Ali does not become jealous. (um, well, I like to think I’m not)

Ali does not boast of herself excessively. (YEAH! I never boast, I’m so good at not boasting… Wait, am I boasting now?)

I could continue, but I think you may understand where I am going. When I use this as a checklist, it reminds me how much I need God. This checklist keeps me humble, because Oh my word, do I ever need help in these areas. Sure, I don’t lie, I pay my tithes, I go to church, and I spend time with God. But does the fruit of my life really show it? You see, all of those good things that were on my checklist earlier: being healthy and exercising (taking care of God’s temple), going to church (not forsaking the gathering of saints), paying tithes, doing good at work, and etc. are all necessary to live good. However, if you put them on a conscious checklist as your “I’m fine list” they become just a checklist. You rush through devotions to check it off. You pay just the 10% of tithes God requires of us so your conscious will be okay. You go to the gym and run a mile to check it off the list. And somehow all this checking makes you miss the big picture. You miss the nourishment of God’s Spirit during devotions. You miss the blessing of giving till it hurts. You miss the rush of endorphins when you work out. You miss the fruit of all the work you’re putting in because the attitude behind what you’re doing is wrong! You can easily become like the Pharisees, lookin’ good on the outside, and completely dead on the inside. They lacked the Fruit of the Spirit a.k.a. the Fruit of God’s LOVE dwelling inside them, and because of this, Jesus was not pleased with them (John 15:8).

1 Corinthians 13:1-2

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing.”

John 15:8

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

The next time you realize you’re rushing through your “good person” checklist, pull this one out. Compare yourself to God. When I compare my goodness to God, I am always put into check, He is good, without Him, I am nothing.


_______ is patient.

_______ is kind.

_______ does not envy (unnecessary jealousy).

_______ does not boast of Himself excessively.

_______ is not puffed up.

_______ does not behave rudely.

_______ does not seek His own.

_______ thinks no evil.

_______ does not rejoice in iniquity.

_______ rejoices in truth.

_______ bears all things.

_______ believes all things.

_______ hopes all things.

_______ endures all things.

_______ never fails.



Oh Church! Where is Your Suffering?

1 Peter 4: 12-16

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory is revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, be happy; for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Not long ago, I was sitting in a church service that made me uneasy at first. I knew that it was planned for a certain minister to be preaching. He has a great ministry from everything I have seen. However, knowing the topic of what he was to be preaching about worried me. When one comes to discuss Revelations and such with a group of people, you really don’t know what you’re going to get. A lot of people are depressed thinking about the “end of the world”. At that time, I really couldn’t take any more depressing thoughts. Aren’t we as Christians supposed to be excited for Jesus’s return?


I was worried. Yet, as he started and continued his sermon he did a great job expressing hope in Jesus’s return and how we as the Church, the Bride of Christ should approach the end time with a readiness to preach His Gospel, to be the Army of Christ. It was refreshing.

Then, he went on to reassure us that there are certain scriptures in the Bible that scholars believe point to our nation being the protection of Israel. If that is the case, he reasoned, we will not have to worry about being under the rule of the Antichrist. We will not be persecuted in this country because we are to protect the Children of God. The whole church cheered, I included. What a great thought! We will be the strong ones! We will somehow escape the Antichrist’s reach! We will not be deceived!

Lord, forgive me.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but REJOICE, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4 12-13

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I rejoiced with a church about the idea that I would not have to suffer during these end times. How pathetic is that? My brothers and sisters in Christ are being beaten, brutally mutilated, starved, deprived of the “glories” of this life, killed all over the world for Christ’s sake. And I’m over here, in this easy life I complain about, rejoicing in the fact I don’t have to suffer. No wonder God said that He would spew those lukewarm out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). I lack the Holiness of God and I still find this apathy disgusting. How can I claim to love Christ when I so willingly flee persecution? The persecution for preaching the gospel, the persecution for showing Christ’s love and grace to others.

Many would claim we are persecuted. “Oh, the church is being hit left and right in this country!” Really? Are you being beaten? Forced into slavery? Mutilated? Forced to watch your family die in front of you by the hands of the enemy?

Or are you just being told to sit down and shut up? You call that persecution? Really? That’s the cross you’re calling too heavy? You sit down just as the enemy has demanded. You have no strength to even stand up and say: “NO! I will not sit down and remain quiet! I will declare that Jesus is Lord!” You sit on the bench of life just watching as a world of people are walking by, mocking God, the One you claim to love. You sit with a burger and shake of contentment at a diner right outside of hell as the creations of God are marching straight in there and you are doing nothing!

How God’s Plan for Us can be Found in Our Childhood Dreams

Looking back to my childhood, I don’t really remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up a lot. At least not until upper elementary. But even when I wasn’t asked to, I was a dreamer. I had goals and plans for my life.

I spent the majority of my free time in early elementary playing F.B.I with my best friend. We would run through the fields with a bag of the “essentials” close at hand – walkie talkies, papers with the criminal’s information (scribbles), and of course snack – searching for the bad guy. We had close encounters with danger and had to hide a lot. We’d jump over logs and make narrow escapes from death. Those times were all in play, if you look at it from the adult perspective. Yet, from my perspective, I was practicing for the life I wanted to live. I wanted to fight evil and bring them to justice. I wanted to go on adventures.

As I grew older, playing F.B.I. became a thing of the past; maybe F.B.I. had become childish to me, or it could have been because we moved hours away from my best friend. Either way, I put it away as a childhood memory and moved on. As I entered middle school I had decided to become the CEO of a company, any company really. Now to be quite honest, I had no idea what that actually meant. All I knew is that being a CEO meant several things: you were in charge, you were important, and you could live comfortably. It all sounded good. I could rock a business skirt and jacket. I could tell people what to do. That was the life I wanted. I wanted to travel the world helping people do the right thing, and make money doing it. About the same time, I felt God call me to become a missionary. The burden was laid on my heart. I had no idea how being a CEO and a missionary could work. However, I knew God gave me dreams for a reason, so He must have a plan. And boy, did He ever.

The beginning of high school came and a natural disaster changed my perspective. Those of you who know me can probably remember the years I spent planning to be a doctor. I lived and breathed all things medical. I read books about the anatomy and physiology of the body. I planned out the schooling it would take. The image of being a missionary made more sense now. Missionary and doctor, man I could really change the world! I could tell people about Jesus, and help them live healthier lives. I could do what physical part needed to be done, and God could do the Spiritual. I could travel the world, and go on adventures. It was like the pieces of the puzzle of my life were slowly starting to come together. Somewhere in these dreams, I had decided I was also going to live on a ranch, out in the country, surrounded my nature and the people I loved.

Fast forward to college, my freshman year. God had said “NO”. I was frustrated and in a deep depression. However, when I followed the plan God had for me I felt a peace that passed all of my understanding. God changed my mind. In a very short amount of time, I went from being in the Pre-Med program at a private university to being a part of the Early Childhood Education program at a public university. The time at the public university was a time of huge growth for me, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. The missionary thing was still in my mind. Even though it didn’t seem as awe-inspiring to some people, teaching little children the basics of human knowledge and loving them like Jesus made sense too. I could travel the world and love on who is considered “the least of these”. I could spread the gospel and help people better their lives. It’s not what my plans had been. But it made sense.

Now, college is over. I’ve graduated. I’m sitting here on the couch, windows opened, drinking a cup of hot tea. This week has had its ups and downs; trying to teach and love 19 six year olds every day for eight hours does make one tired. I’m thankful for my day of rest. I couldn’t make it through each week without relaxing. Sometimes the papers, lesson plans, intervention paperwork, RTI planning, and trying to find ways to engage all of my kiddos has to be set aside just to breathe. I never dreamed this would be my life. I didn’t think I would get a job teaching first grade at a phenomenal school in a small town in the U.S. right out of college. I didn’t think I would spend days loving on kiddos that were not my own with every ounce of my being and then go home in the evenings to cook dinner, do laundry, and clean the house. To be quite honest, if you would have asked me any time before now in my life if I would enjoy a life like this, I would have shrugged and said “Not likely. It sounds too mundane.” I have spent up to and beyond 60 hours of working each week just to keep from drowning in this new adventure. It is everything but mundane. As I look back at my childhood dreams and ambitions, I can see where God was leading me. I can see the root of my dreams and really, it does make sense.

You see, childhood dreams are important. The Bible says in Matthew 18:3: “And he said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter in the kingdom of heaven.” When we are young, our minds our pliable. They can be taught, molded, and changed with ease, compared to doing the same when we are older. All of my childhood dreams pointed to deeper longings God had set in my heart. I wanted to be an F.B.I. agent, but really, I wanted to go on an adventure. Oh, the adventure that my life has already taken me on. No, I’m not fighting physical crimes and bringing people to justice. But I am fighting for God’s army. I’m fighting a Spiritual war every day. I wanted to be a CEO, but really, I wanted to be important. And you know what? I am important. I’m important in the eyes of my God, my Savior, my friend, Jesus. He placed that dream in me so that I would always seek Him first. I wanted to be a doctor; I wanted to help people lead healthier lives; I wanted to fix their problems as much as I could. God has called each of us to reach the dying world, the sick, the hungry. That’s what He called His church to do! I wanted to live on a ranch. But really, I wanted to be at peace. Being out in the country, to me, brings peace. I can hear God; I can see His handiwork. The clutter goes away from my mind and I can see things clearly. That’s what I really wanted. That’s what God wanted for me. I wanted to be a missionary. To preach His gospel, the Good News of His saving grace. He placed that dream in my heart so that I may passionately live out His love every day. It doesn’t mean I will travel the world and see different cultures, even though I want to. But it does mean that every day, every moment, I am surrounded by people that need His love; I see the need in their lives for my Savior, and I can be the vessel He uses to show them His love.

Your childhood dreams weren’t silly. God uses what we can understand (the physical) to show us what we cannot always understand (the spiritual). Your dreams, hopes, and desires, all point to one thing. They all direct us to our deep need for our God. The longings we have openly display the holes in our lives that He is supposed to fill. Your childhood dreams point to God’s plan for your life. His plan for each of our lives can be said in this: to Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, mind, body, and soul, and to love your neighbor. If you do those two things, you will go on an adventure; you will help those in need; you will be at peace; you will you know you are important, not because of who you are, but because of WHOSE you are, because of Who lives in you.