Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
February... start of Advanced Excel and first speeches...
And all of it is perfect.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
My arms are shaking. Every muscle, even the ones I didn’t know I had, quiver with the exertion of just holding on to the rock. My hands are bleeding from the sharpness of the handholds, and my palms sweat as they always do when I most need them not to.
Looking down probably isn’t the best idea in the world, but I do anyway. Is there any way of climbing down safely before I kill myself on this thing? Nope. Can’t go back now. That would probably ensure falling rather than prevent it. I will simply have to continue, there is no alternative.
Sometime later I reach my goal, the summit that I had been pursuing so tenaciously. I reach up with my right hand to grasp the last handhold and pull myself up to the ledge. With one last great expense of effort I haul myself onto the surface and lay down, breathing heavily.
Eyes closed, with the sun on my face and the cool rock against my back, I smile. I did it! I made it! I didn’t quit, give up, or fail. I open my eyes to let out a triumphant yell, but instead of a yell, I let out a groan.
I’m not done. Where I’m sitting, isn’t a summit at all. It’s just a ledge. The summit is much farther up; I just couldn’t see the actual summit until I had gotten past this one.
I begin to analyze the next part of this formation. It’s going to be much, much harder than the one I just finished.
Well this is just wonderful! I’m tired. I’m sore. My arms are still shaking. I just got past one challenge and now I have to conquer another one? Ugg.
I lean up against the rock and draw my knees to my chest, resting my arms on them.
“Really God?” I ask. “Really?”
“Yep.” Says the Voice beside me.
We sit in silence for a few minutes, and then I ask.
“So do I really have to keep going? This next part is going to be a lot harder you know.”
“I know.” He replies. “It will always get harder. As you get stronger, the climb gets harder. If there was no challenge, there would be no growth, Alaina. You can’t keep climbing the same twenty feet of rock once you’ve conquered it. You have to keep moving forward.”
“But I know this rock now. I could climb it faster and better. I know what I’m doing.”
He smiled. “I know. So we go to a new rock, so that you will have to keep looking to me to direct you. You get independent too fast, little one, if we stayed here, you would soon forget to ask me for guidance.”
Much as I’d have liked to, I couldn’t argue with that.
“So, is this the end? Will this one be the destination?”
He smiled again. “The only way for you to know that, is to climb it.”
I made a face. I’d have much preferred knowing exactly how far off the destination was, or even what it was for that matter.
“That which is required of you will never exceed the strength you’ve been given. I will never ask too much, Alaina.”
I looked at Him, saying nothing.
He smiled at me. “We’ve come too far to go back now, dearheart. You know that.”
I cocked my head and grinned. “Yep.”
“And I haven’t left you yet.”
“So,” He said “what are you going to do?”
I looked up the side of the cliff toward the sky and smiled.
“Keep moving forward.”
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Not to hold the baby while they’re sleeping…
Not to read Dr. Seuss to a little kiddo…
Not to put cream in your coffee…
Not to call someone, just because you were thinking about them…
Not to tell someone what they have meant to your life…
Not to cry at the happy ending of a movie…
Not to eat dark chocolate…
Not to splash in rain puddles…
Not to lay in the grass and enjoy the blue sky…
Not to fall asleep in the sunshine…
Not to dance under the stars…
Not to make time for people you care about…
Life is too short not to tell someone that you love them for no other reason than the fact that you do.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Last night I was ordered on a date… okay, not ordered, invited, but when the invitation is issued by someone other than your date, it feels more like an order. (I should know, I have definitely issued my fair share of similar orders.)
I was tired, really tired, and wanted a date with my pillow and bed. But, persistence prevailed and I went outside for my moonlit date (the other party insisted that God told them it had to be moonlight.)
I walked out into the backyard and looked at the sky. Nothing. No stars. No moon. Just clouds. I was really confused by this time, why would I be invited on a moonlit date by the Creator of the moon if He knew that the moon wasn’t even out? Didn’t make any sense at all…
Well I talked to Him for a few minutes and then went inside and crawled into bed.
As I was laying there, it hit me…
God: Alaina, did you see the moon?
Me: No, it was behind the clouds.
God: Does that mean that it wasn’t there?
Me: No, it was still there.
God: Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t right there. What could you see?
Me: The light. I could see what was around me, because of the light.
God: Just because the moon was behind clouds, did it stop reflecting the sun?
God: Alaina, when you haven’t been able to see me. When you weren’t sure that I was there. When I was behind the clouds, did that make Me any less there?
God: In the situations that were hard and painful and scary that “covered” me up so that you couldn’t see how I could possibly be in the situation, was I still there?
Me: Yes… you were.
God: Alaina, when the darkness tries to hide the Light, and when the fear tries to push out the love, and when the situations don’t look like they could possibly be good… am I any less in them, then I am in the Light?
God: Alaina, am I big enough to shine my light through the situations that are immersed in the darkness?
God: Just like the moon still reflected the sun when it was covered, My plan never stops reflecting my love. I am in all of them. Not one single situation is ever out of my hands.
Never underestimate the power of your God. Never underestimate the power of His love. Never underestimate how far His light can reach.
Never, never, NEVER give in to the darkness!!!
"Now, God be praised, that to believing souls gives light in darkness, comfort in despair."
~ William Shakespeare
Non Nobis Domine!
Monday, August 24, 2009
Yet, yesterday as I looked at pictures, I was flooded with an emotion that I wish I could say I was a stranger to, regret. Unfortunately, I can’t say that as my life has been full of “I wishes” and “if onlys.”
They had variations, “I wish I hadn’t fought so hard” “I wish I learned faster so that God doesn’t see second degree burns and weeks of being sick as the only way to get my attention” “I wish I didn’t stress out so much over not doing well, that instead I actually took the time to enjoy the amazing and tiny moments of life” “I wish I had been more encouraging to those around me” “I wish that I had looked outside of my own issues to help others” “I wish I’d been a better teammate”
But they all come back to one subject… me. They come back to something that I did or did not do. It comes back to Alaina. It comes back to her personal failures, some big, others not so.
And I guess, that is the whole problem. I cannot fix me. I cannot fix the past. I cannot fix the present. I cannot even guarantee that I will not make some of the same mistakes in the future. Truthfully, I really cannot do anything.
I suppose that is where God wants me to be. Realizing the mistakes I’ve made when I tried so hard to live my life on my own. It doesn’t work. Really. In fact, it’s failure in big red blinking neon lights! Because, I did try to be a good friend. I did try to be willing to let people in. I did try to not stress out over perfection. I did try to encourage and help and support. I think that sometimes I succeeded in my goals, sometimes I did surrender and let God work through me, but not always. Because I cannot succeed without God’s help, to be blunt, anything without Him is a failure.
In the Disney movie, Meet the Robinsons, their family philosophy is that failure is actually the greatest success, not because of any achievement that one reaches, but rather because you learn far more from a failure than you do from a success.
I think that over the last year I have had plenty of failures to learn from, hopefully I have indeed learned from them. Yet, if the only thing that I have accomplished is the knowledge that I cannot achieve anything without God, then all has not been in vain. Sure, there are still things that I would like to have done differently, but wishing won’t make it so and all that it serves is to keep me in a place that is gone forever.
In the midst of my regret, I remember that my God is bigger than my failures. He is bigger than my weakness. He is even bigger than me trying to do the right things and say the right things and completely forgetting my Source. He is big enough to work in them, through them, and to still use me after them.
Kinda cool, isn’t it? ;)
And so, I have decided to live without regrets. I do very much wish that I could stand, and declare to all of cyberspace that I will maximize the rest of my days to never have the slightest chance of regret again. But I cannot. I would be kidding myself and lying to you. Rather, I will learn from every failure, and seek God’s will through it, knowing that my God is big enough to create a success out of my failure.
In short, I will…
Keep Moving Forward!
“I understand why regrets are in vain – they keep your mind and heart in a place that is no more and prevent you from living the life you have.”
Kofi- The Captive by Joyce Hansen
Monday, July 27, 2009
Normally, dark chocolate is a sure way to cheer me up. It’s especially effective if it’s accompanied by some of my favorite music and knitting or a good book, depending on my mood. I also happen to get a kick out of reading the little sayings on the inside of the wrapper (there is a reason for this, but I’m not telling that story today). So, wondering what little smiles lie inside, I open the wrapper.
“Believe in those you love.”
Oh brother! Didn’t I get that one last time? Really? Is everything in my life coming back to this? This seems to be an intricate part of my current lesson from God. It also seems that I am a very slow learner and am still not getting whatever it is that I am supposed to be getting. Stupid candy wrapper… what does it know anyway?
I guess by now you’re wondering if I’ve completely lost it, or if something really weird was in the dark chocolate. The answer is neither… really, I promise!
Back to the stupid quote… Believe in those you love. What the dickens is that supposed to mean anyway? Does it mean that you believe in them after they’ve lied to you? After they’ve hurt you? Believe in them although they very well might hurt you? Believe in their profound and terrifying ability to make you the happiest person that you know or the most miserable? What?
Again… stupid quote.
Now that I've stopped calling it names.. I think what it comes down to is this, it isn’t necessarily the people that we love that we are supposed to believe it. It isn’t their goodness or kindness. It isn’t believing that they will never hurt us, or walk away when we need them. What it is, is belief that the Author and Finisher of our faith wrote them into our life story for a perfect and beautiful reason. (Even the horrid people. I know! I know… even them.)
Even more than that, it is the belief, no, it is the knowledge, that they are a child of the Most High God and they are fulfilling a perfect role in His Kingdom. It is getting past how they make you feel (or terrify you… or annoy the daylights out of you… or make you want to punch them in the nose… you get the idea), and instead seeing them as God sees them, and allowing Him to give you His unconditional love for them.
It is not, and never has been about you, but rather God’s perfect plan, which also happens to include loving people that are being rather unlovable. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If God can love you before you even acknowledged His existence, can you be willing to lay your heart on the line when He asks you to, and to love people that are no longer “safe” to love?
I’m not going to lie, someday it will most likely get you hurt. But if you can take that hurt and pain and turn it over to God, who wants more than anything to see absolutely full of love and joy, then it will be okay, because nothing is for nothing, and every last word of God’s stories are always perfect… you can count on it!
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.”
(By the way, I did enjoy the chocolate.)
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
As I sit here and write my very last blog post for an assignment, I think about how far I have come. The things that I have lost, and the things that have been won. I can honestly say, that the final outcome of these five months has been worth it. Worth the hard moments; the moments when I didn’t want to go on; and the moments when all I could do was cry.
Because, you see, these have not only been the hardest five months of my entire life, they have also been the most amazing. I have seen God work, not just in the blinding flashes of the obvious, but also in the moments of silence. I have seen victories won, in the lives of those around me, and in my own. I have traded a religion of God, for a relationship with Him.
I would not go back, not even if I could. I know that the days ahead will be hard. That the hopeless moments will come again and that the lies and fears are not going to relinquish me this easily. But I also know this: it will be worth it, and He will be there, and therefore, it will be good, and I cannot wait to see what is next.
“Non nobis, Domine, Domine, non nobis, Domine
Sed nomini tuo da gloriam.”
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to your Name give glory."
Know He is there…
Know He will never let you go…
Know you are loved…
~Alaina Christine… soon to be graduate of Advanced Excel 17, not because of who she is or what she has done, but because of Who her God is… Non Nobis, Domine!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Refections: On the past and present; what we have lost, and what we have won.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Aspect one: take action. You will never become a leader by sitting on the sidelines. A truly great leader is out there, with his or her followers, encouraging, supporting, and going through everything that they have asked those under them to go through. Leadership is about walking the road with your people, not about handing them a map and saying ‘Have fun!’
Aspect two: have a vision. Proverbs 29:18a says “Where there is no vision, the people perish:” A leader, taking into account what they are passionate about, what they have learned, what the needs of those around them are, what the bigger picture is, what God has planned for them, and what their resources are, then can have a life-altering message to share with the world. Once they have the perspective of who they are and what God has brought them through, they can go out and influence the lives of those around them. Once they have a vision that is bigger than them, they can be a leader worth following.
Aspect three: self-sacrifice. Once you surrender your own security, your own comfort, or your own desires, and place the needs and safety of those under you before your own, then you can be a great leader. Leadership is not about what you can gain, but about what you have to give.
Aspect four: take risks. The important thing in this quality is the difference between risk and recklessness. Recklessness is carelessness and lack of responsibility; risk is to lay out your life or your safety for the benefit and protection of others. Value others more than you value your own comfort and security. A wise leader will take only calculated risks that have been thoroughly evaluated.
Aspect five: have determination. Again, leadership is about being in the thick of what you have asked your people to do, so why on earth should they keep going if you have a history of quitting when the road gets rough? Nothing great was ever done by someone that did not possess the fortitude and resolve to keep on when the odds were stacked against them and it looked like a lost cause. Take the story of the Shackleton expedition for instance; the situation was literally hopeless, they should have all been lost to the sea or the brutal elements. Yet, through the courage and tenacious determination of their captain, not a single man was lost.
Aspect six: service to others. Humility, an indispensible quality for a great leader, is simply realizing that you are where you are today because of the investment of others in your life. Leadership is serving others with this humility, empowering them to go on and become great leaders as well. It is necessary to lay down your own desires, comfort, and time in order to best equip those under you.
Aspect seven: possess integrity. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” A leader is nothing without their character honorable and intact. No one will follow someone whom cannot be trusted to make decisions or looked to in times of struggle.
Leadership is not a job; it is a way of life. It is not something that you do when others are there; it is what you do when you know that you are alone. Leadership is not something that comes in moments of glory, but in moments of struggle and heartache. The road of leadership is not an easy one to travel, but it is a worthwhile road. You possess the influence to change your world. Are you willing to give what it takes to be a great and noble leader?
Monday, April 20, 2009
The feelings of being abandoned and alone return in the isolation...
the Fears become stronger...
and I do not want to face them...
I do not want to remember how much it hurt.
Tired of the painful reminders of having been left so many times before...
Tired of feeling worthless again and again...
Why God? I ask...
Why does it still hurt?
Why am I still afraid of what could happen?
Why cannot I be strong?
Why does it have to matter so very much?
Then, instead of looking around....
Instead of looking within...
I look up....
Up toward the vast sky and the new leaves after a long and barren winter.
I listen in the calm, and find that birds are singing...
it really was not as desolate as it first seemed.
You see, because even in the fear and alone...
He was there.
In the pain...
He was there.
Never once, was I out of His sight, or out of His hand.
He wants to heal your wounds...
to trade His peace for your fear...
Stop looking within, and start looking to Him.
The only purpose of pain is to receive comfort; and the only purpose of receiving comfort is to comfort others. But you cannot receive the comfort, until you acknowledge the pain.
"O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee; I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not in vain that morn shall tearless be."
~ O Love that Wilt not let me Go ~
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The foe before you is unrelenting. It simply will not give up. You have been fighting it for so long, and your strength is about to give out, yet it seems to be as strong as when you started. It is hard, so hard to keep waging the war.
The biggest problem with your foe is this… Your foe is yourself. You have been fighting her for years and you are worn out with the war. Now, when you cannot fight any longer, you stop, you lay down your weapon, and you listen. That is when you hear Him…
“The day is yours.” He says in a quiet voice. “The victory has been won for you. You need not have fought so long; all that you had to do was to accept the triumph.”
God has chosen you to play this role. He has created you for this unique destiny. No one else in history or eternity can or could ever do what He has placed in you to do. But you cannot do what He has for you as long as you are still operating under the bondage of hopelessness in your own inadequacy.
Will you this day, forsake the lies? Forsake the fight that you do not have to be fighting? Once you do, He can show you what He sees. He can show you that you are now perfect, complete and entire, wanting nothing.
The gauntlet has been thrown. The challenge has been read. The victory won! The invitation is open; will you choose to believe that you are already perfect? Will you choose to believe that God has created you as you are and that He adores what He has made?
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
"Not all who wander are lost." - J. R. R. Tolkien
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I will not retreat, surrender, or run.
I will not live in fear of the darkness, because I will remember what I have seen in the Light.
I will not waste today, but live it to the fullest, not lamenting the past or fretting about the future.
I will hold nothing back, but give everything that I have for my King.
I will live for an audience of One.
I will recognize that God has created me for an irreplaceable role in His greatest adventure.
I will remember perspective. The fact that it's not just about a war being waged, it's about a Victory being Won.
And when I meet a challenge that looks too deep or too high or too wide, I will not look at it as personal failure. Instead, I will look at it as an opportunity for