“Jesus, Thank you for this food and drink. Help it to nourish my body, in Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.”

Such a short prayer, simple, and to the point, and so easily forgotten. As with many young Christians, I grew up praying before each meal. I was taught to do this; while I don’t remember the reason that was presented, I knew it was important. I have fond memories surrounding that prayer in particular. While family gatherings are often a mixture of bitter and sweet, I have always loved them – for the most part at least. My grandfather always used to call on me to pray over the family meal because of how quickly I prayed. I sped through the prayer just as you would the ABC’s when you suddenly forget what comes after R, or some other alphabetical situation that befuddles you. Theoretically, I was happy to pray, it comforted my conscious. “Look at me Lord, I remembered You before partaking in a blessing.” I felt like a good Christian when praying for my meal, like I was somehow holier for speaking a few words before shoving morsels in my mouth. If I accidently skipped this prayer, I would always feel guilty, thinking that suddenly God would be disappointed in me.

As I grew older, I found ways to recite this prayer with discretion. My friends at the lunch table did not share this particular ritual, and I’ve never been one for pushing my thoughts on others. I kept it quiet, closed my eyes, thought the prayer, and then would move on to eating. There was even a time where I struggled being ashamed of this prayer. What if people thought it weird or unnecessary? Now, I’m not even sure if my friends noticed the silence. Over the years, I have been blessed with friends that respected this time, and would automatically quiet down until I finished and looked up. Somehow, this helped my fear subside. I realized it didn’t really matter what people thought. We all have our own ways of doing things.

While I am no longer ashamed, something new has begun to run over my mind lately. One day, I was sitting, relaxing, I don’t even remember what I was thinking about when a thought hit me. That day in particular, I had prayed several times for the different meals I had eaten. I realized that each time, I had said that prayer without even thinking about it. The words flowed over my mouth just as your muscle memory allows you to punch in the code on your phone. God showed me the intent of my heart that day and it hurt.

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Proverbs 16:2

My prayers that day were no more righteous than the person who doesn’t pray over their meal. In fact, I would go to say my prayer, because of the motive, was not righteous at all. It was not the incense unto the Lord that I want my prayers to be (Psalm 141:2). It was hypocritical. I prayed thanksgiving to the Lord just like the Pharisees did (Luke 18:9-14), so that people could hear me, so that I could hear me. I truly was not thankful for the food that Jesus had given to me. Scripture says that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17) I may be wrong, but I consider food to be a good gift. A gift that I ought to truly be thankful for. In everything, I should give thanks. It’s easy to give thanks in the great things. It’s easy to remember that I should give thanks in the hard times. Yet, those days that seem mundane, the average ones where nothing sticks out, those are the days that I often forget just how good I have it.

I choose to continue praying over my meals, not with a guilty heart, nor with a habitual heart, but with one that will grow into a thankful heart. Maybe praying over your meal is not necessary, maybe it is. I am not God. I look to our example and see that Jesus blessed the meals that He ate many times in scripture. However, while learning about the heart of my God, I want to say this. I do not believe that the prayer is what really matters to our Lord Jesus. He knows the motive behind the action, and someone with a thankful heart is what pleases Him.

I pray that the Lord will continue to soften our hearts to the motives behind our actions, that we may have a heart after His.


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.



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.



Endo can go Step on a Lego

I squirm as I sit in my bed, halfway sitting and halfway laying down, resting against a small pile of pillows. If only I could find a way to sit or lay without as much pain. I could sleep, I mean I should sleep, but sleep seems to run the opposite direction when the pain comes. I could take a couple of pain pills, the pills are within an arm’s reach, but I know from previous experience that the pain can become worse. I don’t take the pills so my body won’t build a resistance to them, that way, when the pain becomes unbearable, the pills can help me live a semi-normal life.

I have put off writing about this for a while now. I’m not exactly sure where to start. However, right now, at this very moment, when I want to cry and scream because I don’t understand the fairness of life, right now seems like the perfect moment to tell you what life with Endometriosis is like. I will warn you now that I am going to give a glimpse of the pains and struggles Endometriosis can cause, this will include talking about bodily functions. If the thought of that makes you queasy, please, go read another post on my blog instead.

When I was eleven years old my family doctor’s nurse practitioner started me on birth control pills due to a very irregular cycle; we had seen her multiple times and after three months of my body getting rid of uterine lining, she thought I had “gone through enough”. Life became relatively normal, minus the times mom or dad would have to bring me my medicine at school because I had forgotten to take it. I remember sneaking it into my purse and going to the bathroom; I didn’t want anyone to assume anything about me because I had to be on birth control pills. I had no idea that this was just the beginning.

Several years later, my dad walked into the living room early in the morning, where I was curled up in my mom’s lap crying in pain, and stated that we were going to the emergency room. I don’t remember how long I had been having pain up to that point. All I know is that I had skipped school too many times because I couldn’t get out of bed without the pain shooting me down internally, I had given up multiple meals to the toilet without a known cause, and I would become noticeably pale and light-headed on occasion. I honestly thought I was going to die. The night that we went to the E.R. for the first time, I couldn’t button my skirt because my stomach was bloated. After some examination and an ultrasound, the kind E.R. doctor told me I had a cyst on one of my ovaries that had burst. A little while later, if I remember right, a month or two of time had passed, I went back into the E.R. for the same issue. This time, after figuring out what happened the doctor looked at me and asked: “What do you want me to do?” I had no response for him, because at the time, I was hurting, scared, and annoyed. Please understand, I know some wonderful doctors. However, I have had many experiences where doctors didn’t do their job with their highest level of expertise. I was afraid if I said anything in response it would come out as sarcastic and disrespectful, so I kept my mouth shut.

Eventually, I was recommended to a gynecologist. While he definitely crossed some professional boundaries, he did fix one of the issues I had been fighting with. The week before my homecoming one year, I had surgery. After the surgery, he told my mom that he was surprised my response to the pain had been just crying. One of my fallopian tubes had decided to dance around and twist itself up. They still don’t know if the twisting was caused by a cyst or if it caused the cysts. I felt terrible, I had to skip homecoming and one of my best guy friends and I had planned on going together. However, the result in my health was nice for the time being.

I eventually switched to a better gynecologist. Because of the unprofessional actions of the previous doctor, I was terrified of gynecologist visits. Thankfully I hadn’t really had any more big issues. December 30, 2013 changed that lovely pattern of health. That night I woke up, giving the contents of my stomach to a trash can and then the toilet. Come February, my body had produced enough uterine lining to cause a 2 ½ weeks process of saying good-bye. I went back to my new gynecologist and he told me it sounded like Endometriosis. When I got home, Google did a good share of work for me finding out what exactly the “long e word I couldn’t pronounce” was. The last 8 ½ – 9 years of a randomly bloating stomach, extremely painful cramps, being sensitive to certain foods, and of course the random E.R. visits came flooding back to my memory. This all made perfect sense. I have to tell you it was a slight relief. I wasn’t crazy, I wasn’t making any of this stuff up. It was real.

I spent my spring break that year in recovery from a laparoscopy; the only way to diagnose Endometriosis is through surgery. A few weeks later, my doctor confirmed I had Endometriosis. Can I be open here? Living life with Endometriosis really stinks! It’s been a little over a year since I was diagnosed and I’m still looking for a therapy that works for me. There is no cure. Technically having a hysterectomy can cure it. However, not only can that cause problems within itself, if the doctor doesn’t remove all of the Endo in your body, it can still reproduce and cause you the same problems as before. For those of you who don’t know, Endo causes problems because it attaches onto organs in the body and acts like glue. It causes problems with the organ’s function and major pain. Like I said before, life with Endometriosis really stinks sometimes. There are times when I have to cancel plans with friends because I’m in too much pain or because I’m too tired due to the Endometriosis lowering the efficiency of my immune system. There have been times I have had to skip class because I’m in bed, dealing with too much pain to even think about moving. The best part about those skip days is that I don’t have a doctor’s note saying it is excused. When you have Endometriosis, as with many other diseases, you get tired of seeing doctors that look at you with sympathy because they can’t do anything. I know that in the bigger picture, God has this great plan that will bring Him glory. It is going to be worth every tear I shed and every ounce of pain I have endured. However, on days like today, I want to tell Endo to go suck a lemon and step on a Lego.

A side note or two:

One in ten women have Endometriosis… And we still cannot find a cure.

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and Yellow is our color.

Traditional Tuesday – Spring

It’s officially spring! I love this time of year. It has to be my favorite season, along with winter, fall, and summer. I love each season for a different reason. Did you catch the rhyme there? Spring, though, has always been extra special to me. Even though I know January 1st is the official New Year, my year doesn’t seem to start until spring. It’s a time of renewal and birth. When I see the buds on the trees and the birds’ eggs in the nests and the grass becoming green again, it reminds me of all the wonderful things in this world.

I’ve thought for days about what kind of traditions I keep in spring. Writing these posts has made me realize that I don’t have a lot of traditions for certain times of the year. That being said, I have figured out one thing that I do consistently each spring. This beautiful tradition involves windows, a blanket, and a good book or my favorite movie. Each year around this time, when it is beginning to warm up a little outside, I open up the windows, curl up in a nice blanket, and either read a book or watch a favorite movie of mine. I love the feel of the slightly too chilly wind. I love the sound of the neighbor kids laughing as they race each other down the street. Sometimes, I love standing by an open window watching the squirrels run across the trees’ branches and the birds building their nests.

I would like to add a few more traditions for this time of year. With my love for spring and since it’s a time of renewal and birth, it only makes sense to enjoy this time of year with a new tradition or two. Do you have any suggestions? I would love to learn about your spring traditions! What do you like to do around this time of year? Do your spring traditions include cleaning? Fishing? Gardening? Or maybe baseball?

Running into the Darkness

I’m not sure the percentage but I’d be willing to bet that many of you had a fear of darkness at one time or another. No one had to plant the idea in our heads; we didn’t have to watch a scary movie. The fear of not being able to see what might be there in the shadows is a scary thing. I cannot count the number of times the little boy I babysit will call out in his young speech: ” Awi come turn on the wights pwease! It scawy….” Remembering the fear I struggled with for years, I often reply: “Honey, nothing is there that will hurt you, you can do it. I know you can, you’re a strong boy.” Sometimes he’ll get the courage and race into the darkness towards the light switch, and other times he chooses to go somewhere else. My heart soars with hope every time he chooses to be courageous. I am often reminded by my little friend how life looks from the big picture. How many times I have asked God in my young understanding: “God, will you show me where this is going? Will you show me what I need to do when I get done with this so I can plan things? Will you shed some light on the subject, I don’t understand and it’s scary?” How many times has He asked me to charge into the unknown?