|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 October 3, 2015 at 8:30 AM||comments (0)|
God is healing my heart. In the past couple months alone He has taken me through mounds of forgiveness (mainly of myself); revealed a mass of insecurities, teaching me to put my security in Him; and taken me from self hatred to self love. He’s poured out His love on me and taught me to love in return.
He’s fully and finally become my One, my Only.
I am not the same person I was at the beginning of this year; I’m not the same person I was two weeks ago. When God begins a work He sees it through to completion.
I am healthier, happier than I have ever been in my entire life. And that’s Jesus.
This all sounds generic, clique even, (and as I writer I HATE that) but what else can I say? I have fallen more deeply in love with Christ. Realised fully for the first time His faithfulness, His perfect friendship.
There is a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. I’ve loved Jesus for most of my life but only at the age of 24 have I finally fallen completely head-over-heals in love with my awesome Savior.
This doesn’t mean I suddenly have everything together; no. I still have my struggles. I still have to remind myself daily that He is always there, that He will never leave, that He is perfect, that He is good, that He’s a better writer than I could ever hope to be. Speaking His truth has such power to change our perspectives.
My God is mighty to save! Not only from the consequences of sin (eternity away from His presence) but from your past, your insecurities, your enemies lies, your hurts, your struggles, your broken hearts. He’s bigger than it all. He’s our Healer, our Mighty Saviour.
This may all sound familiar, you’ve heard it a million times. But do you believe it? Have you experienced the healing power of your Creator?
Or have you lived in disbelief of His faithfulness to come through for you as I had for over twenty years? Sure, I knew all the right answers; sung all the right songs. But what meaning does my mouth express if my heart is unwilling to let Him work? He lives there, yes, but I’d chained Him up, restricted His access to only that which I deemed He could handle.
He wanted to be allowed into my junk, into my mess. Here’s the difference between transparency and intimacy: transparency means you see me; intimacy means you see into me.
Intimacy is scary stuff! I don’t want anyone to see in there!
But as I learned to trust Him and He began to heal me He’s taken out the trash, cleaned up the mess. It’s not as ugly in there as it once was.
My God heals.
My God heals.
Do you believe it?
|Posted by Alyssa on December 19, 2014 at 10:40 PM||comments (2)|
I have an overwhelming amount to be thankful for this year. Ready?
Second trip to South Africa, God’s continual and ever-present teaching in trust, the end of months of migraines, a spring semester not completely lost, God’s grace through depression, first publication rejection, a manual car, a job close to home, the blessing of fundraising, time with family, renewed excitement for JAM year, the protection of my sister, a car for when I return from South Africa, spiritual vacation to Nehemiah House, the improvement of my health, my return to Cornerstone, strength through the struggle, a job near school, fantastic roommates and friends, an amazing flight itinerary to South Africa, speaking engagements, my parents trip to Cancun, the love of a God whom I often treat like dirt, passed my German class, didn’t have to make a trip to Chicago during finals week, stamina during finals week, my father’s help throughout this visa process, 97% of my support…
Yes, that was a bit exhaustive and, yet, not nearly exhaustive enough. God has been overwhelmingly good to me this past year. I am thankful to Him for all His goodness and I am also thankful to all of you for all your prayers and support. I can’t believe God has brought in almost 100% of my support with a month still left to go! I am so thankful to each of you for your obedience and faithfulness in prayer and financial support that has helped me reach this level of support. I have seen your prayers answered time after time this year. Please don’t stop! I will need them all the more once I am finally on the field.
I can’t believe I will be getting on a plane in thirty days. It just doesn’t seem real.
Not too long ago, the thought terrified me; literally. I was so focused on what I would be leaving behind, loosing, that I lost sight of my purpose for this coming year. But God is faithful. During a chapel service at my school the worship team asked us to take time to talk to God. I used my time to ask Him to renew my excitement for South Africa—to show me what I would be gaining. And He did. Of course He did. He holds nothing back from us that would be for our benefit. He is good.
This year has been hectic, painful, rewarding, a blessing, and a time of learning for me. I can’t honestly say that I am thankful for every minute but I can honestly say that I am thankful for the place each of those minutes has brought me to as I prepare to leave my home for a year working in my beloved South Africa.
There is always much to be thankful for, no matter how bad it gets.
|Posted by Alyssa on November 20, 2014 at 12:05 AM||comments (0)|
I’ve written a few posts centered around the word “overwhelmed”. This one is different. I’m overwhelmed by God in a way I’ve never experienced before.
He continually chooses to bless me, even when I act like He’s nothing.
This song posted below completely describes my feelings toward God right now. Please take five minutes to watch this video and rest from all the craziness of life as you revel in the overwhelming goodness of our God.
|Posted by Alyssa on September 28, 2014 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
I placed the order for t-shirts this week! Thank you to all who purchased one to help fund my year in South Africa. My plan was to be done with selling t-shirts but, as always, God seems to have a different plan. The Cornerstone University paper, The Herald, will be writing an article about my selling t-shirts to raise money to go to South Africa so I guess I better keep selling them! I'm excited for this opportunity to share my passion for South Africa with my fellow students. I pray it will incite interest in purchasing a t-shirt of their own but, more importantly, I pray God will use this article to increase JAM's staff in South Africa! Wouldn't that be amazing? So, if you realized you made a terrible mistake by not ordering a t-shirt, don't worry. They're still for sale.
On October 12th I will officially be a full-fledged missionary. No, I'm not going to South Africa early, I'm speaking at First Baptist Church of Vestaburg in Vestaburg, MI. This will be my first time ever speaking about South Africa like this and I'm excited for this new phase of support raising. By now, hopefully, you all know that I am a writer. You may have inferred from this fact that since I am a writer--a person who records thoughts, edits them and re-edits them--speaking is a bit terrifying for me. There are time constraints to worry about, preparations, travel plans to be made, and dress to be determined. Not to mention that ever difficult question: What do I talk about? I can't possibly tell them everything in 30 minutes so what do I leave out? This is the first church my dad ever pastored so many of these people have known me my entire life, they are like family. This gives me great comfort as I prepare my presentation and I’m sure they will be merciful to me as I stand before them and stumble over my words.
In other news, my support has risen to around 50%! (I don’t have an exact number at the moment as I don’t currently have a firm number on the amount raised from the first shipment of t-shirt orders.) My support raising journey began like a rushing faucet and has since diminished to a slow and steady drip but I am ever so thankful for those little drops. It seems that every time I begin to get discouraged God drips another little drop in the bucket. He has been faithful. Now we’re nearing the end and it’s time to test my trust in God’s plan. I believe He wants me in South Africa in January of 2015 and so I believe them second half of the money will come in. God is always faithful and He always provides, in His time.
|Posted by Alyssa on September 8, 2014 at 1:35 PM||comments (0)|
On Friday, July 15th my world endured a small tremor.
My sister and I were having a garage sale. She called me at 8:50am to tell me she was going to be late but that she was on her way. She lives a mere twenty-five minutes away so when she had still not arrived by 9:35am I called her again. No answer. She’s probably on her way, I thought uneasily.
I opened the garage sale and when a customer had an inquiry about one of her items I called her again. 9:53am. Still no answer. “She should be here by now. I don’t know why she’s not answering her phone.” As I began calling her again my mom came out into the garage and said, “I need to talk to you about something.”
Surprisingly, I didn’t start to panic. Not because my mind always seems to start with the worst possible scenario but because my mom often starts out conversations this way thinking that it will prepare me for whatever news she has to tell that she thinks I won’t take well. Usually it turns out to be nothing of real importance so I’ve trained myself to disregard this statement.
This was not one of those times.
She said, “I just got a call from a state trooper.” Now I could see that she was shaking and trying to hold back tears. “Angie’s been in an accident. She’s conscious and talking but they don’t know the extent of her injuries because they haven’t been able to get her out of the car. I’m going to the hospital. If you want to come you need to come now.” Then she ran back into the house.
She said it all so fast. I focused on the first half of what she had said and told myself, she’s fine, does she really need all of us there in ER? But the situation quickly began to sink in as my mind kept repeating, we don’t know the extent of her injuries as she’s still trapped in the car. I quickly closed down the garage sale and my mother and I headed to the hospital.
It takes quite a while for things to really hit me. In some ways this is good. I was able to be strong for my mom and drive her to the hospital as she struggled to think of anything other than my sister.
The state trooper told us not to take the highway as it was backed up and blocked off due to my sister’s accident. There is an alternative route in full view of the highway. As we got closer to the accident we could see about a hundred cars in bumper to bumper traffic. My mom squeezed my hand tight. My stomach dropped. That was because of my sister.
Then we saw the accident.
All I remember seeing is the car. It was smashed, the windows shattered, and I was pretty sure she was still in the vehicle. Then we hit the traffic coming off the highway. I wanted to scream out the window, “THAT WAS MY SISTER! LET US THROUGH!”
It was a very long drive to the hospital.
Once we were finally there we met up with her husband and my father who told us that she was getting a CAT scan and they had been able to see her before she went back. And we waited, jumping every time someone came through the doors, hoping they would tell us we could go see her.
It was hard to see her in a neck brace, all covered with blankets, but my first though was, wow, she looks great compared to what I was expecting. She had blood all over her face and in her hair but because of the blankets I couldn’t see the rest of her body. I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or bad.
The trauma PA came in and told us that she had a small brain bleed. My sister started to cry. The PA said, “We are giving you an IV to stop the brain bleed. There is a minuscule chance it will keep bleeding and cause other complications. Minuscule. Okay? We are going to keep an eye on it so you’ll be here until at least Sunday or Monday.” She then told us what symptoms to look for that could mean the situation was getting worse.
After she left, my sister asked if we could wipe off all the blood. My mom started wiping down her face and my sister pulled out her left hand for me to clean. Her hand was covered in blood. She had a few abrasions to her thumb and a couple pieces of loose skin. It was hard to see her hurt. I groaned and looked away for a moment. She said, “I’m sorry.” I turned back around. Really?! “You have nothing to be sorry about.” At least I think that’s what I said.
They put a staple in her head and then we were off to the Neuro ICU on the 10th floor.
I love those times that I get to witness, first hand, God’s amazing sovereignty.
There were so many little details that kept her safe. If any one of those had gone differently that little tremor could have turned into an 8.0 earthquake, destroying my family and everyone in its wake.
Despite the raw emotions and constant fear this time has been such an awesome time of praise. Yes, we are extremely sad she had to go through this traumatic event and all the after effects but God protected her every step of the way. He deserves some major recognition.
She didn’t hit the semi right next to her. No cars hit her when she flipped into oncoming traffic. Many people stopped to help keep her clam and call 911. She rolled several times and barely has a scratch. She didn’t lose consciousness. She didn’t lose her sense of humor. She’s not in a body cast. She’s not paralyzed.
So many people have said that my sister is lucky. No. Luck does not exist. This wasn’t random.
One tiny brain bleed, one barely broken thumb, one staple, and some intense PTSD.
She isn’t lucky, she has been extremely blessed.
|Posted by Alyssa on October 30, 2013 at 10:35 PM||comments (0)|
Yes, I am still alive! God has been teaching me a lot about trusting Him lately. In praying about the trip in January to South Africa He interrupted me and started yelling, "Stop it! Stop it. Stop it. I've already told you you are going. Stop and listen to Me. Trust what I am saying to you." I was shocked. God's never yelled at me before. (It wasn't an angry or scary yell, just something to get my attention.) So I've been working on my trust issues. It's still hard for me to say this but...I'm going to South Africa this January.
There, I said it.
Moving on, I sent my application to Christian World Outreach today. Wow, that was bizarre to type. The reality of what this step will bring definitely has not even begun to sink in to my mind. Please pray that the process would go smoothly and quickly. I really need to start raising money for my JAM year. I know God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants but I don't want to down play or dismiss the role He's given me in all of this and I want to do my best to start raising money as soon as possible.
I've begun to realize recently how much God is/has changed my life already this year: definite direction in vocation, place/call to missions, culmination of my entire life and being...He has been working! Thank you so much for all your love, prayers, and support. I cannot tell you how incredible it feels when you get excited with me.
|Posted by Alyssa on May 23, 2013 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
Finally finished the video's and page for my bracelets; Fuel. (< Check it out!) It's been a lot of hard work but so exciting to actually be raising money to return to South Africa! I sold the first of the bracelets at my garage sale this past weekend. It was such a blessing to be able to share a bit of my passion for South Africa with strangers and then also to have them support me by buying a bracelet. God used that garage sale to bless me in so many ways. He's fantastic.
|Posted by Alyssa on March 14, 2013 at 10:35 PM||comments (0)|
When I was young I was obsessed with secret agents. I thought they lived the coolest lives and I desperately wanted to be one when I grew up. As I'm searching for a sending agency it occurs to me, if I work through an agency...does that make me an agent? Childhood dream fulfilled.
Shortly after I posted yesterday's blog entry I stumbled across a website with a rather extensive list of missionary sending agencies. I was excited and relieved! I thought I had reached the limit and there was no one left to accept me. I ended up contacting about six agencies. There was an agency, in particular, that I was super excited about. They send exclusively to Africa and I thought I had found "the one". This morning, when I checked my email, I found a message from them. My excitement was quickly thwarted when I opened the message and it informed me that they do not currently, nor do they plan to, send missionaries to South Africa. I felt defeated. I was sure this was the one. We had the same passions but it just wasn't going to work.
Later in the day I received an email from yet another agency I had contacted. I figured it was a basic "copy/paste" email they send out to inform me they received my email. I was surprised and elated to read that this guy wanted to help me get to South Africa! This agency is not currently in South Africa. They say their focus is to send missionaries where God can use us. Their passion, like mine, is discipleship! Wow. The guy that contacted me will be in Grand Rapids the week of April 15th and wants to meet with me.
I don't know what's going to happen; obviously, only God knows. But THIS one could actually be the one. I could have found my sending agency today...that blows my mind. I'm so stoked to get started on this long process and it actually might be starting soon! I'm overwhelmed.