|Posted by Alyssa on March 13, 2016 at 8:50 PM||comments (0)|
4 months ago my dreams were finally realized, prayers answered.
After almost 9 years living with a debilitating illness I can finally say it controls me no longer!
That part of my life is over.
The struggle is no longer a reality.
The micro-managing has ceased; the fear is gone.
I was skeptical that this day would ever come. I knew the possibilities, the statistics, the norm…but nothing about this is normal.
Some of you have no idea what this means but for those of you who’ve known me at all during the last 9 years—heard any bit of my story pertaining to this struggle, prayed your heart out for healing—you know.
You know that I’m still sitting here, four months later, hand covering my mouth, water in my eyes, heart contracting, asking my brain if this is really real.
I’ve had four months to come to terms with this news and I still feel as stifled and lost as the day I took the test. I mean…it’s been 9 years.
6 months without a clue—floating from doctor to doctor, missing volleyball practice after practice, explaining over and over and arriving at the same conclusion: confusion.
A year and a half operating under the wrong diagnosis—making incremental improvements, home schooling and online classes and going to school two hours a day (if I could).
7 years under the correct diagnosis—countless classes missed, countless events never attended, emotional ups and extreme downs, thoughts of suicide. (I mean, was I even really living?)
Relationships strained, ER visits, judgmental stares. Wrong assumptions, pills and doctor visits and heart monitors. Missing weeks of school and rushing every assignment, salt a major food group, diet restrictions.
Too nauseated to think, talk, move or breath. Too weak to walk, stand, sit up or roll over.
Keeping my emotions in check at all times. Choosing when to get excited, to laugh, to smile when any rise in my heart rate could be disastrous.
Feeling like I was alone but not wanting to be with people—being with people took energy, energy I didn’t possess.
Feeling like the downer of any party—I didn’t exactly light up a room.
Feeling sorry for myself.
Feeling like I could never be truly honest about how I was feeling—voicing it didn’t change anything, except for introducing a quiet awkwardness into the room.
The fear of passing out in front of people, of getting hurt, of being a spectacle.
The fear that I would look lazy, disinterested.
The fear that if I did too much today I would be unable to do anything tomorrow.
The fear it would never stop.
The fear that I would never do anything, be anyone.
The fear that my dreams were over before they were realized.
This was my life, my world, my reality.
But my reality has changed.
Even if it doesn’t feel real; it is real. It happened.
|Posted by Alyssa on March 11, 2015 at 6:50 AM||comments (0)|
God’s strength is up for grabs.
Not only is it available but He’s waiting for you to ask.
During this last week, the team and I facilitated a tabernacle for Reach (a group of teens interested in outreach and spiritual growth). The tabernacle was made up of various stations where the teens could encounter God.
We had just finished a crazy weekend camp and we were all exhausted. During the 45 minute drive from our base to the church, our buckie (vehicle) was filled with silence and bobbing heads. On the drive I kept saying to God, “I’m spent, I can’t do this; I don’t want to do this today.”
Once we arrived and were preparing to start, my conversation with God shifted from negativity to a cry for help, “I can’t do this; I don’t have the energy. God you have to fill me. Work through me. Take over. I can’t do this on my own; I need you.”
Two awesome things happened:
1) He said, “I always have to fill you. You can never do this on your own. You always need me.”
2) He supplied. The exhaustion faded and I was able to speak His truth.
Why does His provision always surprise me? He’s never failed me before and He won’t start now.
A couple days later the team and I were helping out in a pre-pre school, Little Lambs. It was our last day and we had all determined to give everything we had.
I awoke that morning feeling lightheaded, nauseous, and tired. For me it was love at first sight with these kids so I was frustrated at how I was feeling.
I know from past experience that when I don’t feel well it can come across as disinterest and annoyance and I wanted to be sure that these kids understood just how much I loved them.
So I started praying, “God, I don’t know why You allowed me to feel this way today but I need Your strength. I am going to give these kids everything that I’ve got (which isn’t much) and trust that You are going to supply the rest. I need You to come through for me.”
And He did. He always does.
In both of these instances, my feelings of sickness and exhaustion returned almost immediately after the task was finished, reminding me that God had done His part just as He had promised.
My first reaction typically isn’t to cry out to God for help. We haven’t always shared the best relationship but for the first time in my life I can honestly say that I love spending time with Him. I love talking to Him and I absolutely flip out when He responds.
God is growing me at an insane pace already and it’s only been one month. I can’t wait to see how He will change me in the next 10.
|Posted by Alyssa on February 11, 2015 at 3:40 AM||comments (0)|
I arrived in Cape Town on Thursday, met my awesome team who came to pick me up at the airport, placed my luggage in my room, ate lunch, and began straightaway with camp training.
As you can imagine, I was quite foggy and had trouble lifting my eye lids but God provided the concentration needed in order to absorb this pertinent information.
I was even able to stay up late enough to play a couple rounds of Outburst with my new family but as soon as my head touched my pillow I was gone.
Morning came incredibly too soon and promised more training before the campers arrived later that afternoon. Yes; day 2, first camp, 120 5th-7th graders.
It was long day after long day but God provided the strength even in my jet-lagged exhaustion.
God has blessed right from the start.
I was worried about how the team would get along and, honestly, when I saw them in that airport all I could think was, They are so young!
Awkwardness set in but it didn’t last for long.
They were all kind, helpful, funny from the very beginning and I felt more comfortable around them after just 10 minutes than I had felt in a long time.
God wasted no time correcting my ridiculous fears.
Today is just a quick update to get you all up-to-speed for my post on Thursday. (I’m really excited to share what God has been teaching me.) Lord willing, Thursdays will be my new posting days.
As always, you may gleam some prayer requests from my blog posts but I will always post specific prayer requests and praises to my twitter (which is linked to my prayer page under “Fuel”;).
Thank you for joining me on this crazy adventure and be sure to come back on Thursday for a lesson on the work of the Holy Spirit.
|Posted by Alyssa on February 3, 2015 at 12:05 AM||comments (2)|
Today my life will drastically change.
I’ve been waiting for this day for two years and now that it’s finally here I am stunned. This day of transition feels unreal; numb. I’m elated and yet completely out of my element.
I’m 24 years old and I still feel 18. But unlike when I was 18, now I’m sure of the world and my place in it.
Whenever I being to think, “What in the world have I gotten myself into?” I immediately remember January 18th, 2013—the day God revealed that South Africa was part of His plan for my life—and I know I couldn’t be doing anything else.
I accepted Christ when I was 6 and dedicated my life to the Lord on the mission field at 17. Every year I have given to Him but day to day distractions have too often come in the way.
I pray that this year will be different. I pray He takes a hold of my life in a way I’ve never experienced before.
I want this year to change me—completely.
Over the past two years God has shown me that there is a huge deficit in my trust of Him. He’s demonstrated His unconditional and faithful love and grace toward me. He’s proven His complete dominance and sovereignty again and again and again.
We’ve been working through quite a lot together and it has been downright painful more times than not but I’m so thankful for His patience and endurance.
When I think about how He will challenge me this year my stomach drops.
I don’t know if the past year was the hardest of my life or if it will be the next but, either way, this coming year is going to be monumental.
Just because this year is God’s will doesn’t mean it will be void of distractions or pain. I truly have no idea what I am getting myself into.
In the book, A Man Called Blessed, by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright, the character of Caleb equates faith and love to the action of jumping off a cliff.
“True love is found by stepping off the cliff…faith and love are bound together inseparably. If you don’t truly believe, you can’t truly love. If you don’t love, you can’t truly believe. Each is required for the other.”
“So if you don’t have belief, how are you expected to find love?”
“By doing the one thing man can do. By stepping off the cliff. When you step off the cliff, you learn very quickly to love the one who catches you.”
I absolutely love this analogy. It’s such a beautiful picture of what complete trust in God looks like in human terms. Stepping off a cliff goes against our basic survival instincts, it doesn’t come naturally.
This year is one of my cliffs. I’m afraid of the terror of the fall but confident in the One who has promised to catch me.
Today I step off this cliff by stepping on that plane.
Here goes nothing.
|Posted by Alyssa on January 28, 2015 at 4:25 PM||comments (0)|
This picture of a JAM camp in Cape Town came into my newsfeed last Sunday and made quite an impact.
Let me back up a bit.
My mind often processes big events at tortoise pace. When I went on my first missions trip my mind didn’t catch up to the fact that, after years of hoping, it was actually happening until after I had returned home.
We were there for three weeks. Yeah, slow.
For the past couple months I have been attempting to bring my mind up to speed with the coming life change. I would repeat over and over in my mind, I’m going. I’m going. I’m going. I would picture myself on the base, with my friends, surrounded by campers. Nothing worked.
My mind just wouldn’t believe.
I’ve been worried that I’ll have a meltdown down in the airport if I can’t convince my mind. (And I really hate to make a scene.)
But what can I do? It just doesn’t understand.
Here’s where that picture comes in. I don’t know what had previously been going through my mind but when I saw it…well, here’s how it went.
Yay, a picture! I love pictures. Aww, look at all of them. Are they in Cape Town? Yes, I remember that coast. That’s where I’ll be. Thant’s where I’ll be. I can’t wait.
I looked up from my laptop to my packed suitcases. I’m ready to go.
And just like that, my mind believed.
It amazes me how the smallest of things can have the biggest impact. For the first time I felt ready; not just because I was packed or excited or could finally see myself there but confident in God’s preparation of me. I could finally say, I can do this; let’s go.
God is good.
(Add any more words to that sentence and it either becomes redundant or cheap.)
He always knows exactly what I need and doesn’t hold back. I’m sent into awe every time He demonstrates this promise.
As I was thinking through this blog post I came across the words of Paul from Ephesians 3 and oh my—are they applicable to my life.
8 Just think! Though I did nothing to deserve it, and though I am the most useless Christian there is, yet I was the one chosen for this special joy of telling the Gentiles the Glad News of the endless treasures available to them in Christ; 9 and to explain to everyone that God is the Savior of the Gentiles too, just as he who made all things had secretly planned from the very beginning.
14-15 When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God—some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth— 16 that out of his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit. 17 And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; 18-19 and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself.
20 Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. 21 May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the Church through Jesus Christ.
I took this translation from The Living Bible because I love the flow of the language but I can’t help but notice its name: The “Living” Bible. Yes, His Word is alive! It is as applicable to our daily lives as it was to the early church thousands of years ago.
I don’t deserve this amazing opportunity. I am messed up, I face real struggles but He chose me to explain. When I think of all He orchestrated to get me to this place in my life I am overwhelmed. He has been (painfully) teaching me to trust in Him; showing me His love all along the way. I don’t understand it. He supplies all my needs, not just physical and spiritual but emotional as well. He takes care of me.
God has emotionally prepared me for this transition with His revelation through that photo but went a step even further the following day and settled my anxious heart by providing my visa 9 days before my departure date.
God blesses the undeserving.
God is good.
|Posted by Alyssa on February 6, 2014 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
To be honest, I wasn’t 100% confident of my decision until we landed in South Africa. And by that point, it didn’t matter.
Walking off the plane into the Johannesburg airport, I was immediately stuck with the sense that time had lapsed—that the previous year had simply been an airplane movie watched between bouts of unconsciousness. Git and Mignon were beautiful, even through sleepless eyes.
We spent one night at a B&B in Joburg where we soaked up the sun by the pool, napped on glorious beds, ate our fill of a fantastic South African Braai, learned a little about each other, watched a South African Soap, washed the travel from our bodies, and, finally, slept. The next morning we ate breakfast, packed up our things, and headed for the Apartheid Museum.
This being my second trip to the museum, I worried I would be bored with the same information. I discovered a second half to the museum I had not noticed the first time around. What’s even better is that much of it depicted the school systems during Apartheid (the subject of my impending thesis).
I caught up with Git and Mignon and we headed out to go pick up lunch for the group. This was the first chance I had to talk with them one-on-one about JAM and ministry. We encountered some difficulty with the GPS so while Git ventured to find food, Mignon and I sat down and talked more in-depth about the JAM year and my future with the ministry.
She then posted a question I had not expected.
With a grin she asked, “What do you think about living in Mavhusa?”
Almost exactly a year before, I found myself walking through the village of Mavhusa—little hands in each of mine, admiring the beauty of the mountains, the style of the huts, the contrast of the red dirt beneath my feet—thinking, “I could live here.”
The remainder of that trip was spent trying to discern whether or not God was calling me to South Africa. Likewise, the remainder of this most recent trip was spent praying about life in Mavhusa. This gave me the opportunity to ask Lifter, Mavhusa’s JAM missionary, specific questions about life and ministry in Mavhusa and really begin to imagine what that would look like.
I don’t have an answer yet (it is most likely a few years down the road) but the possibility is on my mind and in my prayers. I absolutely love the people and JAM team in Mavhusa and would be ecstatic if God placed me there. I know it would be challenging, without a doubt, but they have an incredible need for workers and it would be amazing to be a part of the great things God is accomplishing in Mavhusa.
|Posted by Alyssa on November 20, 2013 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
I've begun the fundraising process! I created a fundraising page at GoFundMe.com and launched it today. Check it out, start praying, and share the link with everyone you know. http://www.gofundme.com/5cqfac
This all seems unreal. This time last year I had no idea what I would be doing after graduation much less had any inkling I would end up in missions. This year has been insaine. Not to mention, I'll be in South Africa in a little over a month!!
|Posted by Alyssa on November 8, 2013 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
Today I paid the deposit for the South Africa J-term trip this January! I'm still in a daze. It's getting real and I'm getting excited. I emailed a few of the JAM missionaries a few days ago asking if there is anything we could bring with us that would be useful for the ministry. They responded that paper, crayons, paint and brushes, clothes, blankets and any other fun little things would be appreciated. Currently there are six students and two adults going on this trip so we have multiple bags we can add to. If you have any of these things that you would like to donate comment below.
|Posted by Alyssa on September 12, 2013 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
Since being back on campus, life has seemed to accelerate to warp speed. I've been spending my time on homework, in class, filling out my JAM Year and CWO applications, catching up with old friends and making new; it's been hectic and emotional. So many changes, so many new opportunities and I'm still waiting for God to show me when He's sending me back to South Africa.
A couple days ago, I saw the professor that led the trip to South Africa.
He asked, "Are you going back with us?"
My heart leapt. "You mean this J-term?"
"Can I do that?" I asked as I consciously told my heart to calm down.
Yesterday I began to search out the answer to this question, "Can I go back to South Africa this J-term?" I've talked to the registrar and again with the professor and it's beginning to look like a viable possibility. I continually have to keep myself in check. If I freak out now and it doesn't end up working out I'll be crushed. But I have allowed myself to get excited at the possibility.
Maybe this is why God hasn't given me an exact time frame for my return, maybe Satan is trying to torture me; I don't know. All I know is I might be back in my beloved country sooner than I could have ever imagined. Either way, God is good.
|Posted by Alyssa on June 4, 2013 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
Last Sunday I got a chance to skype Lisa, one of the JAM missionaries, while she is in Mavhusa. It was soooo good to get a chance to talk to her and hear how things are going in Mavhusa. They just did they're first camp and she said it was fantastic! So excited to hear that things are going well.
We talked a lot about this time of preparation I have and I'm so thankful to have her to continually shift my focus back to Him. I'm excited about this time of preparation that I've been given, and the understanding that I need to spend time with friends and family while still here in America, but it's been hard the last couple days to keep my focus on the now. I know God has it all figured out. I know His plans are absolute best. I know that He has placed me here, in this time, for a specific purpose. I know His timing is impeccable. But sometimes (quite often actually), my passion for South Africa overrules and I'm sad as I stupidly feel as though my ministry hasn't started yet. Struggling to get the right perspective today.