one of the best gifts I ever received

I recently celebrated my birthday. And it was on my birthday years ago, that I was given one of the best gifts I have ever received. The gift was a Bible. The only other gift that compares is my beautiful custom-made rose gold diamond wedding ring. I still admire it daily as I’m proud to wear the title of a wifey and proud of my hunk of a husband. My ring is my symbol to show my daily choice in choosing him. I cherish these two items more than any other. If my home was on fire, these would be the two things I would grab on the way out.

I received this Bible from my brother for my 30th birthday. Little did I know that that would be my last birthday with him as he passed away the following year from cancer. I can’t give all the credit to my brother for buying this Bible for me as his wife was most likely the gift buyer haha just as I am in my household. But I will never forget what my brother said after I opened the gift. He said “the Bible isn’t something to just look at, it has power when put to use, so promise me you’ll use it?”  I hesitated, nodded with confusion, and then promised him I’d put it to use.

Power? A book of 66 chapters of stories that I’ve heard countless times in Sunday school is supposed to be full of power. Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the Whale, David and Goliath. This book of stories has power? It wouldn’t be for a couple years before I fulfilled my promise to my brother.

I was no stranger to the Bible. I’ve read it many times. I know a lot of Scripture from having to memorize it as I attended a private Christian school most of my life and it was required of me. Most of the Scripture had a few good takeaways and values I could add to my life, but I also didn’t understand a lot of it so I’d just skip over many of the passages. Where was this power that my brother was talking about? To me, the Bible was more of a history book with good stories we could all learn a little something from.

Over the next few years, I began to really dive into this ‘book of power’, and what I discovered was that the words started to jump off the pages and sink into my heart. I spent time trying to understand the passages that I seemingly passed over years before. It began to change my heart, change my mind and change my perspective. The Bible became my everyday guide to my everyday life, my everyday path, and my everyday steps.

The Bible was no longer a storybook or a history lesson with the occasional nuggets of wisdom. It now became my everyday book full of limitless power.

Allow me to highlight some of the continual and influential power the Bible has revealed to me and radically inspired in my life:

The Bible guides me: Just like when you are in a dark theater room, and you are looking for your seat and there are little foot lights to guide you to each row to eventually find your seat. God has provided footlights for your life in the Bible to guide us as we walk and to keep us from falling and tripping in this dark world. But just as this world is ever changing, we don’t just read the Bible once, and then boom, we have all the light and guidance we need for life. Even the light you received yesterday, is not enough light to guide you through today. That is why we need to read the Bible DAILY for daily light and daily guidance. Psalm 119:10 says “The Word (the Bible) is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”.

The Bible gives comfort: I can call my family and girlfriends to encourage me and uplift me. My husband is my best friend and would do anything for me. But when you still feel hopeless and all the wisdom given to you just isn’t enough, God’s Word will shed light on your situation and bring you comfort that no human being can. It will give you a kingdom perspective versus the worldly perspective we live in. The Bible will burn hopelessness out of your life and give you a “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). God’s word promises comfort as Jesus says “come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”. (Matthew 11:28)

The Bible is our greatest weapon: The Word of God is Truth. We live in a world full of lies. Whether its lies others tell you, or lies that you tell yourself. Lies keep us from living in freedom and keep us from pursuing our dreams using our God-given talents. They hurt ourselves and often hurt our loved ones. Do you know where those lies come from? The devil himself. In fact, “there is no truth in him…for he is a liar, and the father of lies”. (John 8:44)  And the only way to defend against the lies, is to know and combat them with the truth. God left us with the greatest offensive weapon of all to tackle the lies that keep you hostage in this life. That weapon is the Bible. For the Bible is the opposite of lies and is the “Truth.” (Psalm 33:4, 119: 142, 160) Knowing God’s word (aka the truth) in our mind, in our heart, and speaking it out of our lips will defeat the lies being thrown at us everyday.

I now hunger for God’s Word like food. I thirst for it like water. I soak in it. I lose myself in it. I put it on like it’s my favorite accessory. And I weave it into my soul so that it becomes part of the fabric in my life. I’ve seen it change my life, my marriage, and my perspective with everything I face in front of me for the day. It is wise, it is a counselor, it is satisfying. I strive to “meditate on it day and night” just as Joshua 1:8 encourages us to do so.

Along with my brother, Martin Luther experienced the power of the Word that later led him to write “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me, it has feet, it runs after me, it has hands, and it lays hold on me.”

Remember, when you are holding the Bible, you are holding the actual Word of God in your hands. It is a precious treasure that we all have access to. I challenge you to just dive in. And if it doesn’t make sense, keep on diving in. God will speak directly to you as he promises that “if you seek me, you will find me when you search for me with all your heart”. (Jeremiah 29:13) Seek Him in His Word and as He promises – you will FIND him. God’s purpose isn’t that we just get into His Word, but that His Word gets into us. That the words that are printed on the pages of His Word would become permanently written on our hearts. Go after it girl!

taking the first step

Taking the first step into something new can be terrifying. Especially when it’s something completely unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone. Its easy to doubt yourself during these times. But did you know that even heroes of the Bible doubted themselves before they stepped into something new? Allow me to share with you my own story of taking steps of faith as well as share a hero’s story from the Bible.

This past month, I had the opportunity to attend the She Speaks Christian Women’s Writing Conference right here in my backyard in Charlotte. It was 3-day writing, speaking, and leading conference full of 750+ other like- minded gals all pursuing their passion. Like me, most were new and unfamiliar to this.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts about how I left my VP corporate career in finance 2 years ago to pursue a passion on my heart for women. A passion that’s been on my heart since I was a little girl. That day two years ago, I was full of excitement, yet even more full of fear, because I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I had NO IDEA where to start. But mostly I thought WHO AM I to step out of everything I’ve ever known and influence women?

It was roller coaster of emotions. Some of the questions I wrestled with myself:

  • who is going to listen to me?
  • what exactly do I have to give that is unique enough to share with other women?
  • where do I even start?

I have always been blessed with a lot of amazing girlfriends, as I am without a doubt, a girl’s girl. I’ve always had girlfriends confide in me with issues they were going through. And I’ve been able to create a space of no judgement able to give sound advice. But yet I still wrestled with wondering what business did I have speaking to them about LIFE and encouraging them with my not so perfect decisions I’ve made in my past? I didn’t feel I had the qualifications to step into this new calling.

I felt unequipped, unqualified, and inadequate.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past 2 years, I said myself “this new chapter in my life was too unknown and too unfamiliar, so I was just going to go back into the finance industry and pick up my career where I left off.” But then every time this happened, God divinely and intentionally pulled my heart back in. I KNEW without a doubt I was to pursue this passion of working with women. Not to mention, I had a husband that gave me a wide open canvas of freedom to do whatever my heart wanted. And I’m not just talking about him working hard and providing for me financially in order to do so…which I’m forever grateful for. But bless his heart, he has listened for countless hours about all the new ideas fresh on my mind and then me changing my ideas week after week. And every attempt to take a small baby step usually involved tears like a baby too. And my sweet husband was along for the ride. (I love you bubba)

My first actual step was posting my first blog post. I know this may seem simple for some of you. But ladies – it took me 18 months to do that. 18 MONTHS! I remember my hand was shaking when I hit the publish button. And I’m pretty sure only 3 people read that first post. My husband, mom and dad. HA!

That first step of obedience into what God was calling me into, was an important step because I realized God was with me even in the small baby step of posting my first blog post. Sometimes we wait and wait for a sign or hope that God will roll out a red carpet from Heaven to tell us what to do next. That He’ll lay it all out in an organized way. But what if God is just waiting for us to take the first step? And then the next step, and every step after that with Him by our side? And the areas you feel weak or scared, what if He gave you ALL that you would need to accomplish the work for Him?

An example in the Bible of one who doubted taking the first step was Moses. Moses didn’t feel adequate enough either. Yes, the hero Moses.  He felt insecure and didn’t think He was the person for the task God had called him to. When we think of the life of Moses, we think of the parting of the Red Sea. Leading the Israelites through the wilderness. Receiving the 10 commandments. Just to name some of the few significant things he did for God. 

But before Moses started his ministry, he questioned his own ability. He had no idea the Red Sea was going to part or that he was going to be one of the pillars of faith in the Bible. He didn’t know that for generations and centuries after him, that we would know his name.

When God met Moses at the burning bush and told him He had called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, do you know what Moses responses was? Exodus 4:10 says that Moses pleaded with the Lord saying “Oh Lord, I am not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

Moses was doubting his own ability. God replied to him in Verses 11-12 “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see, or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord?” Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”

WOW! The Moses we all know as a hero of the Bible doubted himself too asking God the same questions I wrestled with, “why me?” He didn’t feel qualified. He even goes a step further in Verse 13 and says “Lord, please send anyone else.”

It’s so easy for us to think these characters of the Bible just went out with courage and confidence easily and never had any doubt in their mind because we know the end of the story. If we look at this scenario from the eyes of Moses, we realize that he didn’t know all those things were going to happen. Just like myself, all Moses knew is that God was calling him to do something. He didn’t know how it was going to end up.

Where in your life do you feel God is calling you? Where do you feel inadequate? Maybe you are a new wife and a new mom and feel like you don’t know what you are doing? Maybe you don’t feel like seeking that promotion at work or switching careers because you don’t feel like you’re qualified. Or perhaps you are settling in a relationship where you know God has called you elsewhere, but you’re too scared to take the step to get out.

I spent far too long feeling this way. Letting the lies of the enemy dictate me not taking steps. I let fear hold me from taking the small first step. It’s about taking each day and giving it to God, and taking each step with him. I realized as I began taking each step. God met me right there leading me and guiding me through every small step, every fear, every wall, every doubt, every lie, every moment on this journey.

I know that the conference I attended was God’s preparation to have me step out into my calling. I was nervous, but also felt like God equipped me for it the past 6 months as I’ve been taking baby steps leading up to the conference. Yes, God knew my brokenness, my imperfect life, my bad choices, my hurts, and all my weaknesses.

God kept saying to me, ‘Alisha, I’m going to use every single aspect of your life and use it to help others. What the enemy meant for evil to hurt you, I am going to turn it around and use it for the greater good and for my glory. “For I have plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  Scripture promises us in 2 Peter 1:3 that “by His divine power, God has give us everything we need.” Isaiah 41:10 says “don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Ladies, do you hear what God says in His word to us? We are called to His purpose. It might not be without trials and a fight along the way, but He has big plans for us, He has equipped us, giving us everything we need, and will strengthen us and be with us, and we WILL be victorious. These are God’s PROMISES to us! It’s time we STEP into these promises.

I stepped out in faith last month to attend a conference I’d never been to, in an industry I’ve never been a part of, with a group of women I’ve never met. I was welcomed with an overflowing amount of open arms. I met amazing influencers, authors, speakers, publishers, editors, agents and Bible teachers. I gained so much knowledge and new friendships that I’ll keep in my pocket for a lifetime. Through the conference, I was given the opportunity to  became a freelance writer for three large Christian sites (www.iBelieve.com, www.Christianity.com, www.Crosswalk.com). And my very first published article as a writer went live this past week. (click on this link to view published article)

If I never took the step, this opportunity would have never opened up for me.

God knows the plan, even though I don’t. He knew the plan for Moses, even though Moses didn’t. Our job is to just follow Him in obedience ONE STEP AT A TIME. I can’t wait to see God continue to move in my life and part the sea for me as I continue to take one step at a time into what He has called me to do. And although I have NO IDEA what I’m doing, I’m just going to do the next thing. Because thankfully, our God sure knows what to do!

Be encouraged if you are struggling with the feeling that you are called but unequipped, unqualified, inadequate, that you would let God meet you exactly where you are and that He will make a way for you. Trust him in the next step girl. You got this!

XoXo

(below are a few pictures from the conference including some of my favorite authors who were speakers at the event: www.lysaterkeurst.com, www.jamieivey.com, www.wendyblight.com, www.biancaolthoff.com)

Lysa TerKeurst
Jamie Ivey
Wendy Blight
Bianca Olthoff

there is purpose in the pain

Grief. I hate that word. But grief is something we have all experienced or if you haven’t yet, you will someday. Afterall, death is the only guarantee in life.

Grief comes in many forms. From saying goodbye to an old friendship or relationship, to closing a chapter in an old career and pursuing a new one. We grieve many things through out our lives. Webster’s dictionary describes grief as: sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, suffering, heartache. It’s a heaviness in heart and most of us have felt it in some way.

Pain is pain, and all pain hurts. But the worst kind of pain was the pain and loss I felt when I lost my older brother Benji. He was the young age of 33 when he died.

His story is definitely that story you hear or read about. A story about how a good person is gone way too soon. He lived a great life.  He married his high school sweetheart and was always madly in love with her. He had two beautiful healthy boys. He helped start and build a tech company that was just months away from going public before he died. Not to mention, he was just an amazing guy. They say ‘only the good die young’, and I can say from the bottom of my heart, Benji was one of them.

Cancer got a hold of him. He was not feeling well and after a couple months, was diagnosed with a rare form of lung stem cell cancer found in his stomach. He was gone 7 months later. Did we know he was going to die? No. He did the chemo treatments and we came together like a family and all had the high hope that he would come through healed on the other side.

It was this same week in July of 2013, the week of his birthday, that he was forced to have an emergency surgery to get his colon removed. However, removing his colon would mean he had to quit chemo and therefore there was no cure for his cancer. The doctors told him they were sending him home, and there was nothing else we could do for him. They were sending him home to die.

I’ll never forgot the call I received from him. He called me to tell me the news. All I could do was cry. And the crazy part about it, all he did was listen and tell me that he’s here for me and I could talk to him about anything I was feeling. He was asking me if I was ok, and how I was handling it all. He was the one dying, the one who had to say goodbye to his wife of 13 years and his sons, yet he was so worried about how I was doing? Somehow, he was all our strong rocks when he was the one suffering and physically weak in pain.

How do you prepare to say goodbye to someone you love for the very last time? I was living in California at the time so I came home every weekend to be with him. We all watched him slowly deteriorate in a short 6 weeks. We spent his last birthday with him in the hospital after he had his surgery. We had nights where we would stay up and talk all night about life, and how much we loved each other. We laughed, we cried. At one point,  we even got into an argument where I was the dramatic little sister that felt bullied by my older brother and so I did what any mature woman about to turn 30 does, I deleted him as my friend on Facebook. HA! But that only lasted a few hours.

I cherish those final moments with him. But throughout those final weeks, it wasn’t sitting well with me. I couldn’t make sense of it all. Why would God take him away? Why wouldn’t God heal him right then and there? Afterall, he was God. And Benji was a devout Christian. How cruel of God to do this to our family. Benji was intuitive and a man full of wisdom. He knew I wasn’t ok and I’ll never forgot one of the last conversations we had. I was telling him my hurt and confusion. My confusion around this God that he spoke so highly of. At this time of my life, I knew who God was, I knew Scripture. But I didn’t walk with the Lord or have any personal relationship with Him.

After voicing my confusion, Benji answered me saying “Alisha, it wasn’t God that gave me this cancer. Cancer, as well as sin and many other diseases, entered the world during the fall of Adam and Eve. In fact, God cries with me every night. He tells me He’s so sorry I have to go through this and sorry I have to say goodbye to everyone I love. He’s sitting right here with me through this all and he loves me”. WOW! at the time, I didn’t understand the whole Adam and Eve comment. My brother is dying and he’s talking about an old school story in the Bible? Whatever. But this is what started my journey to studying the Bible and turning my heart to the loving God my brother was talking about. This is where I found hope in in this pain.

Why does God allow pain? Why does God heal some cancer and doesn’t heal others? I don’t have that answer. But I do know there is purpose and promise in the pain. And its ok that we don’t have the reason as to why. God knows the bigger picture. And although losing my brother was one of the hardest things I had to walk through, I do know we have a God that has a plan. and taking my brother early was part of the plan.

Allow me to summarize the main story of the Bible in a few short paragraphs. It helps paint the picture my brother was describing that night. The world was perfection in the beginning. Adam and Eve sinned and brought the evil and death into the world. However, God promises perfection in the end. It starts with perfection in Genesis, and ends with perfection in Revelation. God sent his son, his very OWN son to die on the cross for us to alleviate us from living in a sinful world forever. I’m not sure I could give up my favorite outfit or favorite pair of shoes, let alone a child haha. Oh, how I love my clothes. But God loved us so much, that he gave us His own son to die to save us from living a life in this perishable world. Now that’s love. In fact, the whole Bible is just one whole love story for God fighting for us back, fighting for the perfection that the enemy stole from us in the beginning. John 3:16 says “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life”.

We are not stuck in this cancer-filled, brokenheart-filled, sadness-filled, sin-filled world forever. We have perfection waiting for us on the other side. WOW. Let that sink in. God promises in Revelation 21:4 that He will “wipe away every tear from your eyes…there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain.”

I miss my brother so much. And today, he would be 39 years old if he was here. But God called my brother home because He has a different job for him, fighting a war. As Ephesians 6:12 tells us “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rules and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” I think about my brother daily. I often think about what he’s doing. I know he’s got a job. He finished his life here on earth to completion and is helping God and His army finish a job in the Heavenly realm too. I know he’s with the same God I pray to every day and I find that pretty cool. The last thing Benji told me is that he’ll be busy and that time flies by and he’ll see me soon.

God still has me here on earth fulfilling a purpose, just like my brother fulfilled his purpose here too. Remember – God sees the bigger picture. He knows how this story ends and is using you as a character with a purpose. I’m not sure what sort of disappointment you are facing today, but just remember to TRUST the Author. To trust our God who sees the bigger picture. Trust the Author because he wrote he story. And He knows the beginning to the end, so we can rest assured, we are in good hands.

To everyone who is reading this, I hope this helps whenever you go through are faced with anything painful. And don’t forget to raise a glass for my brother at some point today. To Benji, Happy Birthday from the other side. Your little sister misses you.

XoXo,

Alisha Headley

the perks of being single

Yes, you read the title correctly. I am writing about the PERKS of being single. All the benefits and joys of living that single life. This picture above was taken the weekend my husband and I officially became boyfriend and girlfriend. It was three years ago on 4th of July weekend. The title boyfriend and girlfriend lasted all of 94 days before he proposed to me and became my fiancé. But It was the last weekend we were both “single”.

Let me start of by saying that I love my husband and I love being married. I am so grateful I found my teammate who always has my back. And as cliché as it sounds, it came when I least expected it. I am grateful that I get to have a sleepover with my best friend every night. I am grateful that I have someone that asks how my day is and that I get to share all my crazy ideas and dreams with. I’m grateful that I get to build a life with someone and not to mention that someone is a good looking fella that I get to look at daily. There are many perks of being married as I just listed a few.

But what about that single life leading up to dating?

When I was single, every book on the shelf about this topic was all one-in-the-same. There were countless books on how to get over an ex, or how to get that perfect guy. One classic book that was passed through the hands of most of my girlfriends was “why men marry bitches” by Sherry Argov. The book talks about how being extra nice doesn’t necessarily mean the guy you are with will be more devoted. The book teaches you how being a “bitch” will  get a guy to propose to you. That was just many of the books that I came across teaching you to be a certain way in order to land a guy. Oddly enough, my husband said one of the things he was looking for in a future wife was a gal that was sweet as he said those are hard to come by. Sweet AKA nice AKA not mean/bitchy like that book describes. Although I read that book along with countless other women, my husband ended up choosing me for the complete opposite. I know all men are different and to each their own, but there are so many books and advice out there on how to either win the next guy in the future or how to overcome a breakup from the past.

But where was all the advice on just being in the present moment of being single? And why does all the advice need to focus on what you had or what you don’t have yet?

For all my single ladies out there, what would life look like if you EMBRACED being single? Rather than feel left out, lonely, or behind all your friends who are engaged and getting married?

Every journey is different. But one thing I did when I was single was I viewed my single years as a once-in- a-lifetime experience. Trust me, a wedding is a once in a lifetime experience too and I loved every detail about my wedding. But if your goal is to be married for the rest of your life, then that means you only have this small window to be single. So why wouldn’t you EMBRACE it to the fullest?

What does that look like? Lets discuss both practically and Biblically speaking.

It’s going to look different for everyone, but for me, one of the many most basic perks was I only had myself to focus on. A relationship or marriage takes a lot of selfless action. Being single, it’s all about one person…me. I could eat whatever I wanted for dinner without asking what the other person wanted. I could go on vacations wherever and spend all the time in the world with my girlfriends and family because I had nowhere else to be. No one else’s feelings and desires to worry about. I could work on any venture and in any career not worrying about how it would affect another person or a family at home. I could spend all my money on clothes, and I did just that. All of it! Ha, oops. I could move to any state I wanted to without caring about anyone else’s feelings, and I did just that. I truly focused on ME, and not what anyone else was doing. And that time was priceless.

Remember, one can still be happy, and a husband is not a prerequisite to that. My husband compliments my life in ways I didn’t know possible, and I wouldn’t trade him, nor our love story for anything in the world. But he (and all husbands) are not the key that makes one happy.

If you are in a season of not loving the single life, I encourage you to rethink the way you are looking at being single. Being single is a season one should embrace as it’s a season you are able to live “without distraction” as stated in 1 Corinthians 7:35. Earlier in the chapter, it highlights that “the unmarried woman cares about things of the Lord and her aim is to be holy in her body and her spirit…but a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities caring about the things of the world –  and how she may please her husband.” I still have a beautiful relationship with God, but now I have a family (my hubby and pup) that need my attention and dedication as well. Being single, your sole focus is God and living for Him and Him only.

For most of us, this is the ONE time you can live a life solely for God and yourself without any distractions. Be encouraged that it’s not permanent. Thank God for this season as it’s a gift with no distraction. So make the most of it for as long as you have it.  Ask God what it is He wants to do with you during your season of singleness. Create a list of all the things you want in a husband and then hand it over to God. “Keep your eyes fixed on God” (Hebrews 12:2) until the day you meet your husband. And don’t forget to pray for your future husband as God hears every prayer. 1 John 5:14 says “ Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”.

In addition, focus on what makes you happy, learn new things, try new passions, spend time doing the things that make you happy and make you ‘you’. There are the times to be selfish with your time and energy. Focus your time on what makes you happy in this present moment because until you can experience happiness by yourself, how can you experience it with another person?

Both being single and married has it perks. Both challenge you. Both strengthen you. Both discipline you. Both grow you. Both teach you. And both change you. Being single and being married do all of that. However, the one perk of being single that sets this time apart, is it’s typically just a short season in the grand scheme of life. So embrace it TODAY. You have a forever fairy tale for the rest of your life ahead of you, but only this moment in your life to be single. EMBRACE it to the fullest.

XoXo,

Alisha Headley

how to stop comparing yourself

“I didn’t ask you to be HER, I asked you to be YOU. – God. ”

I love this quote. I love the special feeling it gives me of feeling secure, loved and unique. It’s easy to read a beautiful quote, but living it out in real life is an entirely different story.

We live in a culture where we can’t help but compare ourselves. A culture of over-stimulation. With social media its all about how many ‘followers and likes’ we receive. And based on how many we receive, that is the key ingredient to making one feel accepted and loved. For some, social media is used for business, but for a vast majority of us, it makes us feel valued the more attention we receive from those that love us as well as those that don’t even know us.

On the other side of this, as we are feeling valued (or not valued) depending on the response of the world, we are also admiring, feeling jealous, and comparing ourselves to others. I believe there are two ways you can compare yourself to others. 1. You feel superior to them. OR 2. You feel inferior to them. And this all depends on each individual’s reason behind the comparison, but both are equally damaging to your joy and peace.

It was none other than Theodore Roosevelt who stated “comparison is the thief of joy”. Ain’t that the truth. Comparison consumes us. Comparison is exhausting. Think about it. Trying to become someone that you are not and that you will NEVER be…that’s exhausting. Trying to run and catch up with someone in their lane when in reality, you will never actually catch up to someone else’s lane because it’s THEIR lane, not yours…that’s exhausting. Or if you’re not catching up but rather feeling you are superior, how exhausting is that to keep telling yourself or others about all the reasons why you are better, and then the negative state that puts your mind in. The pride that involves takes work. Regardless of however you compare yourself, it’s exhausting.

The Bible talks to this subject reminding to you stay in your lane. Galatians 6:4 says: “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” If we are always focused on what other’s are doing, how can we put all our attention to our unique calling and work? If you focus on you and what God has set before you, then there will be no need to compare yourself to others.

What if you have yet to walk into your own calling because you are so focused on walking in someone else’s calling?

Jeremiah 29:11 –  “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.

God has a specific plan for YOU and you won’t accomplish that plan by looking at others. He has a specific plan for you as well as a specific plan for that gal you compare yourself to at the gym, or that gal in your office, and the gal that seems to have the perfect relationship. Their plan is different from your plan.

Mine and yours goal should be to look at ourselves and only ourseles to become better at the calling we are currently placed in. Our goal should be to look more like the person we are called to be everyday. The perfect example of who we should aspire to be like is Jesus. Jesus who was a living human in the flesh and the perfect example to compare ourselves to. 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul (the apostle) says to “be intimators of me, as I am of Christ”. He is the ultimate one we should compare ourselves to and try to intimate.

Perhaps you feel lost right now as you are in the middle of a career change, or going through a breakup, or just graduated college and not sure what to do. EMBRACE this season of your life exactly where you are rather than looking at what others are doing. When I decided to leave the financial industry and become a stay at home wifey, I embraced every second of being the best wifey I could be. When I was single, I embraced every second of it. Afterall, I would eat an entire pizza by myself on a Friday night with NO ONE around me and I embraced that fully with no shame haha. Stop comparing yourself to the girlfriend who just got engaged while you are sitting at home alone on a Friday night. EMBRACE it. You are ONLY you, and you are ONLY going to be you and everybody is on a different path. Right now, I have the outside pressure of having kids. I get told I am getting older and told that I am far behind the rest of the world. Well, says who? God knows the plans he has for ME, for ALISHA. My plan is going to look different than YOUR plan. Trust God for YOUR life, don’t trust in someone else’s life.

Here are some practical tips that have helped me on this journey to compare myself less.

1. Take inventory of what is in your life. One of the best words of wisdom I ever received that truly resonated with me was the first month my husband and I started dating. We hired a nutritionist coach for 6 weeks. She told us that whatever it is that we are eating that “if it doesn’t nurture you or nourish you, then get rid of it”. And you can take that an apply that to any area of your life.

  • what in your life isn’t nurturing or nourishing you and causing you to compare yourself?
  • Is the reality show you are watching you nourishing or nurturing you or allowing room for you to compare yourself to others?
  • Is social media nurturing you and making you feel good or bad about yourself causing you to compare yourself?
  • Is that friendship nurturing or nourishing you or are you comparing yourself to her?

2. Know who YOU are. Not what the world says about you. The world will tell you that you should weigh this much, or look like the models in the magazines, or you should dress that way, or have this career or that career. Perhaps some of the closest people to you have belittled you in the past and compared you which could be THEIR truth and although hurtful, it’s not God’s truth. Remember God created you, not men. I encourage you to seek the Bible for the truth about you. Psalm 139:14 says that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that you are a “masterpiece” (Ephesians 2:10). The God who created the earth we live in, created YOU as a masterpiece. Let that sink in.

3. Control your thoughts before they control you. Philippians 4:8 says ‘’fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” If you are like most gals and look at your body or appearance and beat yourself up, it’s time you take control of your thought life and “take those thoughts captive”. (2 Corinthians 10:5) This is a very hard habit to apply. Gratitude is such a big factor in your thoughts. Finding the things in your life to be grateful instead of comparing your life to others is a great habit I try to implement daily. In order for these thoughts to not consume you, you need to take captive the thought first before it enters your heart and becomes a part of you. “As a man thinks, so is he”. (Proverbs 23:7)

Remember, there is only one you. And it takes up so much exhausting energy to be someone you were never intended to be. You cannot pursue your path when you are trying to be on someone else’s path that wasn’t designed for you. You have a custom designed path that God created that only YOU get to walk on. EMBRACE IT!

love is more than a good feeling

It’s wedding season. I feel like everyone around us is getting married. I LOVE weddings. I love dressing up, dancing, and paying attention to every detail at a wedding. I found my best friend and married him 18 months ago and I planned our entire wedding from beginning to end, down to the minor details like the color of the forks. I didn’t want any help from friends or family as I took on the project solo wanting to own it from beginning to end, and I can truly say I loved every minute of it. I had never planned an event before but it turned out exactly how I envisioned it.

I also love LOVE. Hopeless romantic? Sure. This past weekend, we attended a wedding for my husband’s college roommate in the Washington DC area (as seen in the picture above)  and I cried during the entire ceremony. I love being loved and I love to love others with all that I am.  

I just love LOVE.

But what does love look like AFTER the beautiful ceremony and honeymoon? How does it look during everyday life?

There are many examples of love in some of my favorite movies I’ve made my husband dreadfully watch with me haha. My top three love stories are easily the Titanic, the Notebook, and Aladdin. All stories of relentless love. I experienced a similar love story with my husband. He courted me, he pursued me relentlessly, and proposed to me after 94 days of being my boyfriend. My husband has loved me in a way that I didn’t think was possible except for the love I saw in the movies. He loved me for who I was, accepted all my past and current inadequacies. He sees my flaws and scars as beauty in his eyes. He loves me for the things that I wasn’t even sure I loved about me. He loves me through all my crazy moments even though I denied ever having a crazy side to me haha. He not only loves me at my best, but loves me at my worst. He loved me every time I broke up with him on a weekly basis because I was scared that our love story was too good to be true. Through his actions, he has shown me that his love for me is greater than his own selfish desires as he puts me first in all his decisions.

I am grateful I have a partner in life who loves me through it all.

Perhaps, you have not yet found your partner. Or you have a partner, but don’t feel loved. Or perhaps you don’t love yourself, so therefore it’s hard for you to accept that anyone truly loves you.

It is not until you feel the love of God, that you can truly love others with an unconditional type of love. There is a love that surpasses any earthly love and this love is from God himself. The maker of you. The maker of this earth, heaven, and skies.

Do you know the Bible is just one huge love story of God pursuing the lives of His people? If you don’t read the Bible or understand Scripture, I encourage you to dust off the dusty pages of your Bible and read a love story that is unlike any other.

God himself loved his people, both you and I, SO MUCH that He sent his very own son, Jesus, to die for us. I would have a hard time parting from my favorite pair of heels, let alone a child? He sent His son to not just die for us, but to be humiliated, tormented, beaten down, rejected by his own disciples, and hated on by thousands. Only so that he could be hung on a cross to die. To die for OUR salvation. The Bible isn’t just a history book, it is a LOVE story. It is prophesied of what has happened and is to come in the future. It’s the guide that we have at our fingertips to light up our path as we live our life here on earth and prepare to be reunited with our maker.

John 3:16 says “ for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes I Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

I used to think God was scary. It’s true. I used to believe that God was a God to fear that if I messed up, I would be condemned. I spent a lot of my life actively running away  from God. I was ashamed of my life everytime I messed up and afraid to pray thinking I was always in trouble. Do you ever feel that way?

All my life I was running away from God, yet all my life He was chasing after me.

It wasn’t until I realized through reading God’s word of the Bible that God is SO NOT that God that I once feared. He loves us so much that even when you think no one knows WHO you really are behind closed doors, that God knows and he STILL LOVES YOU. Girls – he STILL loves you. NO MATTER WHAT. He still loves you even though you’ve chased after fleeting attention from men in a pursuit to feel loved. He still loves you even though you had that abortion and can never forgive yourself. He still loves you when you mess up everyday by being impatient with your kids or lying to your loved ones. He still loves you when you idolize things above Him. He still loves you even though your ex boyfriend never did. He still loves you if you have cheated on your husband and feel so much shame. He still loves you even if the world doesn’t love you or the man you are with doesn’t prioritize you. God LOVES YOU. No matter what you’ve done, what you are currently doing or hiding, and what you are going to do in the future. His love never fails. I Corinthians 13 is all about the characteristics of love and it starts with God’s love toward us: “God’s love – suffers long and is kind. It doesn’t envy or behave rudely. God’s love doesn’t think evil towards us and is not looking out for Himself. God’s love bears all things, hopes for all things, and endures all things. God’s love never fails.”

It NEVER FAILS. No matter what you do or don’t do in this life.

Our God is the most loving and forgiving and gracious God. ALL HE WANTS IS YOU. He has been pursuing you your entire life even while you were pursing your own worldly desires. And ladies – people will fail you all your life. Your family and even your very own husband. But just as God loves us, we are to also love those He has placed in our lives. We are commanded to “love others, because He first loved us.” I John 4:19.

It’s extremely easy to love those that are easy to love, but after the wedding and honeymoon are over and life hits you in the everyday life, it is in those moments that you are to continue to love even when you don’t think that person who loved you is loveable. God loved us first and is the perfect example of love and forgiveness. And because He loved us first, we should love others with the same type of love.

And ladies – please start with loving yourself first. We have all made mistakes, but if you can’t learn to love and forgive yourself, how are you going to love the Lord and love others? You are so loveable. God knows every detailed yet tangled part about you from the inside to the outside appearance. Your heart and your body. Jesus was once questioned and tested by a lawyer when asked what was the greatest commandment of all time. Jesus replied saying in Matthew 22:37 that the greatest commandment was to “ love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.

How do you love someone you have just met or perhaps you haven’t encountered God yet. In order to love someone with your whole heart, you need to spent time with that person. Every day, every morning, throughout the day. Spend time in the Bible learning about WHO God is and His character and just how much He loved us from the very beginning. God is already with you, RIGHT where you are RIGHT now just WAITING to hear from you, his daughter. James 4:8 says “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” He’s waiting, and is so excited to hear from you, because he LOVES YOU with a love unlike any other. Open your heart, and let the maker pursue you and experience His love.

is anyone truly happy?

Is anyone TRULY happy? I don’t ask that question to be a pessimist. Anybody that knows me knows I’m happy go lucky and miss positive pants as I try to see the positive in every situation. Due to the fact that I’m always smiling, I once had someone ask me if people from Utah (where I’m from) smile a lot. Sure, this person who asked me was from the cold city of NYC where no one smiles and most people look miserable. But yes, I’m happy. Sometimes it’s annoying to those around me because even on a bad day, I try to find the good in it. Am I always happy? Of course not. Am I a relatively positive happy person? Yes.

But does one ever attain pure happiness?

I don’t believe anyone truly reaches a state of “happiness”.  Nowhere in the Bible does it state we are going to live a life of happiness. In fact, the Bible says we find JOY when we are in suffering. James 1:2 says “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” Another version says “consider it PURE joy when trials come your way”. It doesn’t say when all is going well you will find joy. No, it says you can find joy when sufferings come. WHAT? That totally contradicts what the average person is striving for in this life…happiness. Most of us equate happiness to a life of NO problems and NO suffering of any kind. A few synonyms of happy are untroubled, satisfied, overjoyed, and euphoric. It is completely opposite of what scripture tells us.

People are always striving for that one “thing” to be happy.

  • If I can just find a husband, then I’ll be happy.
  • If I can just get that ring, then I’ll feel secure.
  • If I can get a certain dollar amount in savings, then I’ll feel better.
  • If I can lose 20 pounds, then I’ll feel confident.
  • If I can have a baby, then I’ll feel complete.
  • If I make this amount of money, then I’ll reach success.
  • If I can just get that job, then I’ll be happier.

Are you ever TRULY satisfied once you obtain that one thing? For most of us, we obtain that one thing, and live in the happiness in that moment, but then what? It only satisfies you for a moment, temporarily. We live in a world where we are never satisfied. Why? Because none of it truly satisfies you. It may satisfy you in the moment, but it’s not enduring.

John 4:13-14 tells the story of the Samaritan women who looked to be fulfilled and happy in all the wrong places. She was with man after man, and living with another man currently that was not her husband. Jesus told her “whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.” This world will leave you unsatisfied and it will all die and fade away. God is freely offering for you to drink from the cup of living water, that is everlasting. Not only is it everlasting, it offers us forgiveness for our past, redemption, and a new life where we will still undoubtedly be living in this world, but we will “not be of this world.” (John 17:16) We no longer have to be striving for the same empty unsatisfied things that leave us thirsty for more.

What is happiness to you? Take a look inside and ask yourself if what you are striving for, is it lasting? Or will it leave you thirsting for more?

Was I on a complete euphoric high when my husband proposed to me? Absolutely. Was I content and at peace on my wedding day when I married my best friend? 100%. Am I happy when I eat a slice of pizza? Without a doubt haha.

I believe we experience many moments of happiness in our life.  And we can all be happy as we look at what’s ahead. Right before Jesus in his human flesh was about to be hung on a cross, he “for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross”. (Hebrews 12:2) He knew the pain he was about to experience (the pain of dying on the cross after getting beaten down physically, ridiculed publicly, and having one of his very own disciples betray him) was surpassed with the JOY that was ahead for him sitting at the right hand of the throne of God.

What a joy that I can sit in confidently knowing that one day I will be in Heaven where there is nothing but perfection…PURE HAPPINESS. No more tears of any kind. No more feelings of emptiness. In fact, it’s a promise. A promise that one day, we will reach perfection when God and his army comes back for us. Revelation 21:4-6 says “God will wipe away every tear from your eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away….”I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts”.

Talk about HAPPINESS! No more tears, no more pain…no more what ifs, no more acceptance or lack thereof, no more worry, no more anxiety, no more sadness…rather JOY! And it’s what lies ahead for all of us gals. It’s PROMISED. (and hopefully pizza too…mmmm pizza)