Saturday, December 24, 2011


Perhaps it is my work as a therapist, hearing people's painful stories

Perhaps it is the crime filled streets that daily make our papers

Perhaps it is the sorrow threatening to overwhelm my heart knowing a friend is struggling deeply

Perhaps it is the glance into the eyes of a neighbor, who has been pretending to be okay for far too long

Perhaps it is the thought that no matter how much I know, I know there is suffering in every heart

Whatever it is, this world has pain, there is no denying this reality

My world, your world, our world is groaning in pain. 

Pain so deep that as much as we try to ignore it, we know we cannot fix ourselves.

Our marriages, our children, our relationships at work tell us we are broken.

We are imperfect and painfully aware we alone are not enough to heal our own pain.

Into this, our God chose to enter willingly, a baffling thought

He could have chosen to heal us from above, without getting dirty

He could have said this world is beyond repair and leave us on our own.

But instead our God, said I must comfort my people.

I must provide a remedy to the darkness in this world

A remedy that is a solution, not a band-aid. 

A remedy that brings joy to my people while the world around them is in decay

Sorrowfully but willingly, God, the Holy one of Israel sent His perfect solution

He sent his son, to be our Emmanuel, to be with us.

The powerful son, was humbled and dirtied to come as one of us, a child.

He knew his destiny, He knew He was to take on the suffering of this world. 

He knew He was to walk in our pain, to be with us.

He knew he would be rejected, spit upon and ridiculed

He knew he would be subjected to the torturous cross

Yet He came, Our Emmanuel came down to be with us.

The downward spiral of our world was forever altered

Our Emmanuel, changed history when he entered our world

Our Emmanuel,  intervened into our pain filled world and though a child, brought victory

Jesus, a child, was given to us as a remedy to our issue of suffering

All that is required of us is to believe that He loved us so much that he came to save

What joy our Emmanuel brings to a downcast world such as ours.

Rejoice, He came as a child to walk among us,He left a King capable of claiming us as His!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why do I keep standing on sand?

I was reading Matthew 7: 24-27 this morning as part of a bible study with which I am currently engaged. The idea in this passage is a metaphor used to get us to think about what we have as the foundation for our life. Does your foundation have the ability to weather storms, pounding waves and high winds? Or is your house precariously situated on a foundation that moves with the elements leaving you without security and safety in an ever changing climate called life?

What does the foundation of your life mean? I know that a foundation of a house is the base upon which you build the house. That means, what substance are you trusting to keep your house together, what type of material are you hoping keeps your house firmly standing when the weather changes, storms blow in or during the accumulation of many years of wear and tear on your house. The foundation for a person to stand must also provide stability, shelter and strength.

I want to live in a house that is firmly built on the strongest, most enduring substance ever, something like rock, but really, how do you tell what a person’s life is based upon, how do you recognize just what you have trusted as a foundation for your life?

Those are the questions that stuck with me this morning as I read the passage. I left the reading convinced that I not only wanted a firmer foundation but that I need a firmer foundation. But here is the kicker, I know I have that foundation but there are days and weeks when I am exhausted from standing on the sandy parts of life. So technically I have this foundation but I am somehow for some reason stepping off of it.

  As a Christian, I have a firm foundation for my life, I trust that God has a plan for my life and He is capable of seeing it through. Hence, I have a solid rock foundation. So why then are there days, many days when I live life worrying, fretting, striving without much success. If I have a solid foundation like God why are there days when I feel like I am crumbling, like I cannot keep going, when the uncertainty of life takes over and to continue the metaphor, threatens the very house in which I live? If I am so certain I have God as my rock and foundation why then do I feel like I am living on shifting sand?

I think the metaphor breaks down just a bit here. A house once built remains where it is built. The house cannot decide to move, it remains there firmly upon foundation of rock upon which it was built. Here is the break down, as a Christian there was a time in my life where I recognized that God was the foundation I needed, that the Rock was the only truly safe place upon which to live, and so I was moved from sand to the Rock and lived with joy and peace and found my place in the world.   Sadly, however I must have decided to move at some point and I kept finding myself slipping and sliding down sand dunes not sure if my house will stand?  How did I get from the rock back to the sand upon which I find myself discontented, stressed and ready to crumble? 

I know the rock is the place where I belong, it makes no sense to return to shifting foundations, no sense at all. But all too often I find myself weary from trying to stabilize my own life and finally when I start questioning  things I look down and yet again find my feet in sand trying to manage the weight of life in an ever shifting foundation.

The metaphor of a house breaks down because it is I that moves, a house never moves, but I can and do.  I have the ability to decide what foundation I will stand upon.  I have the ability to make foolish decisions, and frequently I do. They do not always seem foolish at the time, they might actually seem good! But if overtime these decisions lead me away from the Rock, my true foundation, then they were indeed foolish. I think my ego, and pride often lead me away. I see a challenge, a new task and think yes I can do this, forgetting I get my strength from my rock foundation. I step, not purposefully, but step off without much thought. Off my secure foundation and onto the less secure. For a while I get a thrill out of using my strength to survive and manage in this less stable environment. This good feeling can last a while, but after a while I get tired, my stabilizing muscles fatigue and I start to break down, and in the end crumple with exhaustion. I am not always aware that I step off my rock, I wish there were motion detectors for this, but there is not.

The cool thing, the rock will always have a place for me. I will not be replaced when I step off. The Rock keeps my spot, the one I belong in just for me. So no matter how many foolish decisions I make, or how long I step off that rock, He is there waiting for me to step back and find rest in Him.

Despite the fact that I know, that I have tasted, that I have experienced the stability of standing on the rock there is something innate in me that wrongly tells me that I can stand on sand and be okay. While I am still here on this earth, it will be a daily conscious effort to pay attention to what foundation upon which I stand.  I want to remember daily that the Rock is good, that security in this ever shifting world is needed and that to stay with and on the Rock, requires a conscientious effort, every day, every hour every minute.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Joy comes in

This blog was inspired by my dog Bruno. Due to his extreme passion for hunting cats, Bruno has to live as a yard dog and is not allowed inside.  We made a dog house for him, okay we did not make it we tipped over an old water tank, cleaned it and put in a blanket. At first Bruno did not love his dog house, it was too far way from his people (us) so often he would choose to stay on the porch (even in the rain) in the hopes that his people would make their way out of the backdoor. We had however a very long rainy season and started to feel sorry for this foolish but loyal dog, so we moved his house to just off the porch. With his new vantage point he can see when his people come to the door and Bruno comes running! He finally takes shelter in the rain and I do belive he quite likes his shelter. I have included a picture of this house to show you how primitive it is, even just today when I took the picture there were grass clippings stuck to the inside walls of the house due to the humidity and a freshly cut lawn. It is not pretty, in fact it really ought to be called a shack, not a house.

I went outside last night to say hi, Bruno was not there.  He usually greets me at the door and then does a little dance with some awesome vocalizations, but this time, Bruno was no where to be seen.  I looked out into the dark and saw his curled up figure in his shack, I wondered why he was not coming to me. In the shadow I could see his little stump of a tail trying to wag, but nothing else. He has spotted me but still did not come running. It was then I decided to go to him, I made my way off and around the porch and to the opening of Bruno's shack. Grasping the tree in the doorway I crouched down and looked in. Bruno was lying comfortably but it was obvious he did not have the energy to get up. Bruno sufferers from arthritis  in his deformed hind legs. He was like this when we got him as a foster, and though he is  much healthier he is still feeling the effects of years of neglect and abuse in his first 7 years or so of life.

leaning in for a hug
 I was not shocked at his lack of energy, there was proof all around the gardens that he had been digging for lizards  all day, an activity I can imagine quickly catches up with his aged body. Seeing he needed some love and affection, I humbled myself, crouched even further, contorted my body and made my way next to Bruno. His stubby tailed wagged harder, yet he did not move. I reached over to stroke his back and he uttered a sigh of contentment. Soon after Bruno decided to move over so he could be even closer to me, it was a lovely moment during a the star filled evening. It was actually quite joyful.

Bruno is so happy to have a visitor

Here are two pictures we reenacted for the camera this morning as it was too dark for photos last night as it would have ruined the moment

As we we were just sitting there, I took a big breath and started to look around. I was sitting on a dirty blanket, leaning against a grassy, dirty wall and petting a dog that was still filthy from digging in the garden.  The more I thought about it, the more it was quite disgusting, but just then Bruno lifted his head and licked my hand. It was his way to say thank you and to show his appreciation for my visit to his domain. Any disgusting thought was vanquished and my heart filled with love and affection for this misshapen dirty dog whose only care in the world was to be shown love.

What struck me last night was this, If I were Bruno sore, dirty and in a shack I probably would not have desired any visitors, instead I would have shunned any offers and avoided any contact. I might have been ashamed that I did not have it all together, or that my house was out of order or too small, I would have been embarrassed at my appearance and I would have missed out on the joy that offered to come to me.

We do that with God. So often we think we need to have it all together to approach him, so often we avoid inviting him in because we are embarrassed with our current conditions. We think, when I get my family in order then I can talk to God, when I figure out my depression then I can talk to God, or when I know I can do more things for Him then I can talk to God. But that is not the case. God comes to u, He comes to sit with us dirt and all. Not only does he come to us, He humbles himself, gets dirty  and comes to see us in our current condition. no strings attached, joy comes to us.

I am so grateful for Bruno's example last night of just being himself. He reminded me that God is always with me, not just when I have it together. God  is particularly present  when I am particularly out of sorts. God brings me Joy when I need it the most, in the midst of life's messes.

thanks Bruno for showing me how to accept the Joy that is offered even when life is not perfect.

shine on my friends

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Swagga!! Do you have it?

I had an incredible opportunity to attend a women of faith event this weekend  with a group of some of the best women that God has ever made. I have so much to blog about and promise to continue my joy blog series in the near future but due to popular demand from the ladies surrounding me this past weekend here is my blog about our favorite teaching, swagga. The word  came from the amazing group Mary Mary (pictured below)  and stayed in our hearts  during the rest of the weekend.

 Swagga, what a strange word, most of us do not know what it is. It is derived from the word swag, which to most, including me, still requires some definition. Is it something you find in your home?  There is an architectural element that is called a swag but that is not what I learned about this weekend.   Is swag what celebrities get when they present for award shows?  S.w.a.g, also know as "stuff we all get",  are promotional items like diamond encrusted cell phones for Oscar presenters or free pens for signing up for a new credit card, that is Swag not swagga. Perhaps swagga is some different kind of language? Perhaps, but let me explain. Swag, according to the urban dictionary is: The way in which you carry yourself. Swag is made up of your overall confidence, style and demeanor. So yes, I guess that swagga is a type of language as it sends a message to others announcing what you know and believe about who you are.

Ever been alone in a crowded room and some one yells your name in recognition? That feeling, the  instant you feel included or appreciated, is swagga. Ever been in a restaurant and get noticed or talked to by the highly esteemed owner who treated you like a long lost friend? Remember the smile, the walk, the way you held your head high after that..that is a type of swagga. You were recognized out loud by someone of high esteem, that felt great. So how does this translate to a Christian women's conference? Are we not supposed to be all meek and mild? As Christian women we are to be a lot of things but being shy about who we are, no way. We are supposed to have swagga.

You can have swagga anytime anywhere. All you have to do is be proud of your status as daughter of the King, and you can show some swag. It is easy to show swag when you feel like you look good or have done something awesome, but that is not what I am talking about. The swagga in reference from this weekend  is the swag that comes from knowing you belong, knowing you have a place in this world and knowing who is your daddy! The world can so quickly strip away the swag we make ourselves, through criticism, unkind words or indifference. We can dive from head held high to nose on the ground hunched over posture in seconds when our homemade swagga fails. But the swagga that comes from knowing who we are in God cannot be taken. 

This weekend, we were reminded that we are known and loved by the very one who created us. The  people who cherish their relationship with God above all else have a swagga, the way the carry themselves is unexplained without God. Peace in the midst of a family turmoil? That is swagga, Joy in the midst of tears, Swagga! And you know that it is only swagga from knowing God that keeps people in their ability to face the unknown. People will notice and should notice a difference.  There is not audible voice causing others to turn their heads towards you, but others do recognize a difference when  joy and peace shines clearly in your life no matter what the circumstances.

I remember way back in high school, Jason, one of my guy friends asked me, Allie why are you always so happy? I believe he was not noticing my happiness but my joy. I did not correct him, I was kinda shy around boys, even those who were my friends but I knew the answer. I was exhibiting swagga from my relatively new faith in the Lord. To this day I still wish I was bold enough to say Jason, what you are seeing is God shining through me, thanks for noticing!

Time has flown by, but I still remember that day clearly. The world and time has done some damage on my swagga, I have let it get muddled with the temporary swagga from the world. I know my God given swagga can still shine brightly for it never loses light, but I am afraid that as the years have gone by  I have not let my swag out in public all that often. This women of faith conference challenged me to live boldly with the swagga confidence that can only come from the Lord. 

Isaiah 43:4 tells us what God thinks about His children:  
"you are precious and honored in my sight, I love you." 

Can it get any better than that, really can it? I think not. Everyone no matter who they are longs for acceptance and love, God generously gives this to all His children and in abundance. So hold your head high and walk with swagga 'cause you are loved and you are His!

Want to get swagga? true swag that cannot be tainted or taken by the world? Well just contemplate how if feels to hear God say, "hey..that 's my girl. I made her to make a difference, now taken notice!" Then walk with intention, head held high, knowing you have a place in this world. 

shine on and live with swagga!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Manufactured Joy does not last.

Since my last blog, quite a few people have privately expressed their concern, Allie are you okay? Rest assured I am good, but this whole fighting joy thing has made me realize that I could be better. I could be living more fully, more joyfully more purposely. Let me explain.

I think a big part of this is that I have a tendency to want to create my own joy, my own happiness. I get joy through my hobbies, my relationships and my work. Nothing is wrong with that, in fact I am glad I can find happiness in so many things, it is a great gift. But here is the kicker, because I can so often find happy I fail to look for true joy.  I get so busy manufacturing my own happiness  that I fail to lean on God for his Joy.

So how do I know this? Well I think I have alluded to my inability to do nothing. I cannot sit still and "just be" without great effort. So when I have days that I would count as "less productive" I can guarantee that I will not be as joyful. In fact, on some of those days I get downright irritable, quite the opposite of joyful. It has been my experience with these days, where I am so caught off guard with my irritability that has forced me to look deeper into my beliefs about joy. As far as I can tell through my moments of introspection, I lack contentment on those days, I lack the security that would allow me to feel valuable even when not "contributing" to the lives of those around me or my own household. Crazy huh! Here however I think I am not alone, and while I would not OUT anyone on this, I think a lot of women are just like me, (and lots of guys too)  We can  all be comfortable when contributing in some way, or producing something of value in some manner but the minute our contributions stop or our productivity is halted, wham, we are hit with feelings or thoughts of inadequacy and mediocrity.

If all of this is true, and I know it is for me, then the only deduction I can find is that manufactured joy does not last. If it did, the less productive of my days would be able to feed off the leftovers from the day before. Sadly that is not as true as I would like and often live in a joy deficit day.

My friend Jen, (who is seriously one of the most amazing women I know) had Psalm 28:7 as a favorite verse for years, it begins like this, "the joy of the Lord is my strength.." I have always looked up to Jen as a spiritual mentor and this verse has rambled about in my brain for a few years now, and just now I think I am getting the implications.  The strength gained from knowing God's joy is immeasurable, it brings contentment even when chaos is knocking at your door, it brings security when the world around you changes, and it allows peace to speak loudly when everyone else seems to be at war. Knowing God's joy removes from me the absolute need felt by every human to make their own contentment for it shows me who I am and where I belong, even during my non productive days. Seeking God's joy is refreshing and not tiring for it is freely given and not earned by what I can do. Relying on God's joy is counter intuitive for someone wired like me, I want to be able to point and say look what I did, or to be able to take the accolades for a job well done. But what I have realized, that if I want joy, true joy, lasting joy, unspeakable joy, then I must look to God first. His joy allows me to humbly bow and point and give the accolades to the One, the only One who is able to sustain Joy.

I am loving this path that I am on to better understand Joy, I am not done yet. I so look forward to sharing more about this journey with you!

shine on my friends, in great joy.. shine on

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fighting Joy

It all started one summer afternoon at my cottage in Ontario. Admittedly I was having an off day so I took some time to spend alone with God and His word and filled my journal with thoughts. This question came to me; "Allie, why are you fighting My joy?". Sure I was having a bit of an off day that day, sure I was not as patient as I needed to be with my child, and not as kind as I could have been with my husband, but fighting joy? really who fights joy? The question was more of a statement but seriously I was shocked, who does not want joy in their life? Why would anyone fight joy. Don't most of us in this world pursue joy over most anything? Whether they are looking for joy in a bottle or joy in a sunset, is there not something deep within all of us that seeks joy?  But once I remembered the statement I needed to reevaluate my shock, God did not say Allie why are you fighting joy,  he said why are you fighting MY joy. Perhaps, thought I, I do fight His joy. Perhaps God is onto something and perhaps I need examine the truth of this statement in my life. So off to my journal and God's word I went to try to figure out what this all meant.

Now here is the humbling part, this statement was realized in July of 2011, it is now October 2011 and I am still in the  process of figuring this out. I quickly realized that this was not just a yes or no question, that the idea of fighting joy is a huge concept that will require  months if not years to figure out.  This was the very thing that created some of my previously mentioned writers block.

 My first instinct was that I was not "normal" a word I highly discourage but used nonetheless. That perhaps I was the only one in the history of the world that has ever fought God's joy. But as I carried around these thoughts and watch the rest of humanity around me, I realized I might not be alone in my nonsensical battle against the truest joy ever offered. So here I am letting you to in on my quest and asking you to join me if you so desire.

This topic requires vulnerability, more than I care to share on a blog, but I am willing. This topic requires humility, more than I possess,but faking that I know all the answers does not work. All of that should scare me away from writing this, but, this is a journey that  is imperative for me to follow in order to live the life I want to live, one of Joy. So here I am opening my heart in a public  forum and stating that I am willing to share some of my findings with you. I have no idea where it will end but I trust it will bring me closer to the God I love and live for.

 I would love feedback or comments at any time as this is a process. Feel free to email me at if you do not care to leave a comment below.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A momentary lapse of pain.

Today was awesome. I  was the swim portion of a relay team for a triathlon. We were raising awareness and funds for Baark! Bahamas, an organization that has become dear to my heart here in Nassau. If by the way you would like to contribute to our cause my fundraising site is accepting donations up until the end of the week. Please click here to find out how easy it is to donate. see Baark! swim, bike and run.  Being a part of a team was truly incredible and I will be sure to blog about that at some point soon but right now I want to reflect on something else I noticed today.

Pushing your body to the limit hurts, whether you are swimming, running or biking your body and quite often your mind tries to put an end to the pain and tells you to quit. It hurts to push hard but that is what is required in races like triathlons, they are build to test your limits and bring you to exhaustion. Most of the athletes in the triathlon had some serious "I hurt" faces going on.  You can see this on people's faces, in their grimaces, furrowed brows and their intense stare towards the finish line.

Here is the cool part, no hurting face was able to  remain the same as they rounded a corner where crowds were waiting to cheer them towards the finish line.  As the swimmer emerges from the ocean and runs to the transition, they cannot help put smile when they hear someone in the crowd sandwich their name between the two words of Go, Go! No biker could remain stoically serious while the hands of those cheering applauded louder and louder as they rode near. No runner could keep the grimace on their face as they saw the line up of spectators wildly waving them on towards towards the finish line.

Hurt, no matter how intense softens when met head on with encouragement, love and support of those around them. For a moment, the runners, swimmers and bikers experienced a lapse of pain, they momentarily did not let the pain dominate. For a moment they forgot the hurt. Athletes need a break in the pain to mentally get through the course, they need to stop focusing on the hurt and focus on the job at hand, the spectators can have a huge role in helping create this momentary lapse of pain.

In my real life, I work as a marriage and family therapist, where I am faced head on with many real hurting faces. These faces are real, as  is the the hurt but unlike a triathlon it is not something they entered into purposely or usually willingly.  My job is far more than a cheer-leading job but if I failed to bring encouragement, and hope I would fail as a therapist and even worse fail at supporting those who are hurting. Sometimes my job involves helping my client find that momentary lapse of pain, so they might breath more deeply and refocus on the task at hand.

In my daily life,when I am not running around posing as a super athlete, I am a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, and colleague I am also faced at times with hurting faces. This world is imperfect and people get hurt. I am not so superficial to believe that just encouraging people on will fix the hurt. But I am keenly aware that calling out to someone with kind words, and encouraging actions means a lot more to that hurting person than we could ever realize. I have been that hurting person before and it was through encouragement of the people around that I was able to breathe through the hurt and refocus on the task at hand.
Life hurts, we need momentary lapses of pain. People are often conduits for these moments and I want to thank all those who have ever cheered me on, encouraged me or allowed me to breathe.

A note for those who know I have even deeper beliefs than just in the human race. God, the one who created you, is the One who can truly give you that much needed lapse in pain. He does not always choose to fix it, but He will always choose (whether you are aware or not) to swim, bike or run beside you. He has you, He can and will encourage you  far more than any super-fan can. God is bigger than the pain you are experiencing, let Him speak into your life so you can continue the path He has created for you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Purpose of Writers Block

I always said I would never force a blog.  I want my blog to be real, and to be written only when I get those internal urges to see words come together that were previously swirling in my brain. Well .. today it is different. I am forcing a blog. Why? I fear at present I have a bit of a writers block. Usually I just take a few days off of writing and the block clears but after a few days off I believe the only way for me to push through this is to actually push through this and struggle with sentences.

I have many different writing projects I am working on, I write for Baark!, I am writing a novel (yet to be disclosed) and I am working on a few projects like children's books and a talk that will hopefully be impacting the young girls in high school on this island. Rarely do I lack something to work on, but my blog is different it is far more personal and requires a certain attitude of vulnerability to approach and publish.

Today, or the past few weeks to be more exact I fear I have avoided the attitude of vulnerability because I fear what you will think if I were more transparent. There as been a theme that has been circulating in my heart for about a month or so, it is something that came from my quiet times with God during my vacation at my cottage. Something that often bothers me and affects my ability to be in God presence. I am beginning to think that God wants me to blog about this but I am  hesitant .. I am still in process, I do not have completed thoughts about this theme with which I have been struggling. I do not even know if the process is something that anyone else goes through or if it would be of benefit to a blog community?  So I guess I am saying you may or may not get a glimpse into this process of mine.

 I think this writers blog as it has affected my blogging is more about forcing me in to a process of learning. I prefer insight that comes quickly and answers my queries in a sure manner. I prefer the  sound of that aha moment after a time of wondering. I prefer the feeling of knowing rather than questioning. But this process I think might take some time, might lack those aha moments right away but I do think this process has been God ordained and if I listen and sit still for a bit I might just be able to hear Him speak to this theme.

So I am about to sign off for the day, pleased to have pushed through this blog entry. I am glad to have sat in contemplation for the reasons of my writers block. I am I now excited about the process of better understanding this theme presented to me.

I do believe I will share at least part of my journey with you all, and I thank you in advance for reading and encouraging me in this. God has you all in my life for a reason. Thank you for shining so brightly my friends.


p.s for those of you inclined to worry, please do not.. this is not a worry type theme that has been presented to me,  it is a personal growth theme and one that I am now about to embark into with the willingness to be patient and wait upon the Lord.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Playing Church

The other day at work when I was talking with a 5 year old girl and  she mentioned she and her cousin had been playing church. She continued in the conversation to detail other games she played but my mind got stuck on the Playing church game.I had never heard of such a game and it caught my attention.  I had to diverge and take the 30 seconds to ask just what playing church meant. The little girl, so bright and sweet looked at me like I had asked the most ridiculous question. With her head tilted to inform me that I ought to know she said, "Playing church is when I hit my cousin in the forehead and he falls down." They she went on to describe another unrelated game like I should have just known what playing church meant. I chuckled at the answer and the image of these two children playing church. Later that day I started to wonder more about the meaning of this game. 

I started thinking, what would the game of playing church look like if the child was at another church? Perhaps the child would sit as still as she could, hands folded in her lap and not move a muscle. Maybe she would shush her playmate to be quiet. Possibly she would be waving her hands shouting  hallelujah. Perhaps she would stand up and sing slowly an old hymn.  Perhaps she would be rocking out to a contemporary chorus. Maybe she would be the methodical almost monotone preacher, talking eloquent words into a microphone. Quite possibly she would be the sweaty jumping around yelling at people preacher. I guess the point is that  each church will be differently acted dependent upon what catches her attention during the service.

 It is bad enough that we pigeonhole our denominations into actions and attitudes but What if the child's game was not "playing church" but "playing Christians"? I cringe of some of the ways that game would be played.  I need to be more aware that others are watching how I live and through that interpret what it is to be a Christian. Ideally people gain their knowledge of Christ through the Bible.  Realistically the Bible is not being read, and moreover our living example  is a  powerful tool exceedingly effective at helping others interpret what it means to be a Christian, good or bad.

 I am grateful for this darling little girl who in not so many words, reminded me that I was being watched by all who know I am a Christian. I try to live an honest and transparent life but I know that if someone played the game "Allie as a  Christian" I would be embarrassed and humbled by some of the scenes. If i were to write the script of that game I would choose to show Allie loving, caring, praying, and giving. Instead I need to realize that part of the script (perhaps one of the most important parts) is Allie in need of grace, Allie relying on God's strength and Allie the forgiven and I do not show those very much. Perhaps I ought to start.
This  is quite the challenge stemming from such an innocent game, but one that is so important if others are to see past the Allie and straight onto God. 

Shine on my friends, the good and the bad, God will shine through you!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

stop faking it!

I was coming home today from a great swim. I was tired but high on endorphins and noticing the world in an enthusiastic manner. My honda fit crested the hill just before I got home and on this hill was a runner. He was killing that hill but his running was laboured as was his breathing. His face was contorted and he wanted to stop, but as he saw my car approach he kicked it up a notch and gave it his all towards the top of the hill. While I was impressed I was also concerned, the movement of his limbs and the expression on his face indicated to me he needed to stop or slow down for a break. I wondered if my car had not approached would he have pushed so hard? 

I know myself as a runner and I would have done the same thing. I admit I run faster when there are cars and people to watch but if I am alone on the road with not a soul to see what I am doing I know I do not push as hard. I know this technique of mine has nothing to do with the actual training for a sport and everything to do with my ego and pride but I am not ashamed to admit it. I want to look like I am a good runner. I pretty much kill myself on a hill, increase my pace or do an extra loop on a run if  I am aware someone is looking. Once I turn the corner or the car disappears out of sight only  then do I crash to a stop sucking in oxygen from the like a newly rescued drowning victim. I fake it and I am no longer ashamed to tell you that.

I might be the only one who does that when they run, but I cannot imagine that I am alone in this "faking it to look good technique in life". I am sure if we stop to analyse ourselves we will all find a place where we so badly want to be better than we are that we fake it.

One of the the benefits of faking it, it does force you to go farther, harder or faster than you would otherwise, that has to be good right? I am sure sometimes that can further your ability as a runner, but what I have found as a very very mediocre runner that the best thing for me is a slow steady consistent pace, to run honestly with my abilities. It is mentally taxing and seems so very difficult but after time your body learns to run and finish well.

I love the analogy used in the Bible as the Christian life is compared to running.

 1 Corinthians 9:24
 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? 
Run in such a way as to get the prize.

I sometimes try to fake it in front of God too. Silly, I know as He knows and sees all things but still my pride says I need to fake it sometimes. Faking it can look like holding back tears, not admitting frustrations, saying yes to everything when no was a better answer, always thinking you have the answers when deep down your very core has doubts.. I could go on. Faking it in front of God looks like many things, take a minute to see where you tend to fake it. 

The bottom line is, there is no need to fake it, God does not expect us to be more than what he made us to be, he knows our very thoughts and sees all our emotions. Faking it in front of God only tricks ourselves and maybe those around us. Like running, finding the pace you are meant to take at this stage in your life is important. If you have recently experienced a loss, are realizing some of your powerful doubts, are struggling with a depression or other illness your pace will need to change for a while. 

A race can never be won by one concerned about how he looks to others, it will be run by a runner who knows his pace and can push himself within that range. The Christian life can only be lived in joy when we are living within the honest knowledge of where we are at today and thanking God that He has us, no matter what. God has us in all of it.

So my thoughts for today, stop faking it! run, walk or limp with honesty towards God, He has you.

Shine on my friends

Monday, August 1, 2011

the new black.

My Canadian friend Jen, gave me an fantastic gift this summer. It was a running shirt, made specifically for ultra hot environments, it had an SPF of 50, the ability to wick the sweat away and it was light so light. But I had doubts, see this shirt was  Black fabrics attract the heat and make you hotter and yet this black shirt, was made specifically for running in hot environments? 

All my life I knew black attracts heat. My premise for doubting this shirt was valid. I had a lifetime of wearing black shirts as proof. I had my doubts but the label in the shirt informed me that this technical fabric was called cold black, and somehow it actually made you cooler when you wore it in the sun. I wondered if Jen might have gotten caught by a marketing ploy, I had my doubts, many of them but I put my new "cold black" shirt into my suitcase to wait for a Bahamian test "run". 

Fast forward to the present, I return to the Bahamas and eagerly await the first day I could run in my new shirt. The day arrives, the temperatures were in the mid 90s with an even higher humidex. Perfect I thought, I will put this shirt to the test and either it will impress me or kill me. Either way, I find out. Now I have to be honest, I took a short route for the test, I was a bit fearful that if it did what I thought it would do and attract the heat I would be risking heat stroke and wanted to stay closer to home. Doubt had me in its grasp but I did not want to stay there, so off I went on my test run.

Guess what, that cold black shirt did work. It actually felt cooler than any other running shirt I had used before. I have now used it twice and am seriously thinking about buy stock in the company and then having all clothes fashioned out of this seemingly magical technical "cold black" material.

 If I had run with a shirt that actually attracts the heat in such weather it would have been at best uncomfortable and at most very hazardous. So what was the benefit of my doubt?  The benefit of my doubt was that had I fully believed in something I had never before experienced I would have failed to noticed the benefit of this new fabric. I would have given credit for my increased comfort to my hydration level, rested legs or super ability to run. Doubt had a place, it showed me the truth by letting me experience it. Doubt forced me to make a decision, stay with what I believed and never try the shirt or to admit that perhaps I do not have the market on truth about black fabric and to try something new. 

 Doubts are natural and important to acknowledge. If a person has never doubted their faith, or beliefs I have to wonder if they have investigated it on their own terms. In order to full grasp or experience something you need to test it out like I did with my cold black shirt. 

Most of us are afraid of doubts, thinking they are the first sign of a downward slip of their faith. I tend to see doubts as the first sign of a potential growth in your faith. Doubting hurts, it is uncomfortable and most people will rarely admit they are in doubt. But doubting also forces you to confront and experience what truth is, and my friends, truth will always come forward, and it is beautiful. Asking tough questions and facing tough realities forces us to come face to face with our doubt and then if we push further and allow truth to speak to it you will experience hope and faith like we have never experienced before. 

The bible tells us to taste and see that the Lord is good. Many of us have doubts that God is good but few of us  have given truth a chance to inform us any differently. My experience with the cold black shirt reminded me that I get stuck in my own learned ideas of what reality is and rarely give truth a chance to speak differently into my life. Tasting to see is a position of vulnerability we must assume. We cannot assume we have the market on truth about God, He is far to vast for anyone to claim they entirely know Him. Tasting to see makes us lay down what we have claimed as our own truth and give truth back its own voice and speak in to our lives. Today, my friends, recognize your doubts, do not be afraid of them but instead allow them to challenge you to taste and see what truth is wanting to tell you. 

shine on my friends!

the truth will set you free John 8:32 
taste and see the Lord is good Psalm 34:8

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reflected Thankfulness: Moments Captured by the Pen of Allie MacPhail

During my holidays in Canada, I was "forced" to use paper and pen to capture my thoughts. I say forced as I do prefer a computer but if I am honest, using a paper and ink to explore my thoughts was kind of romantic in a 18th century kind of way. I had ample of opportunity to write while at the cottage, some of which I will share as I translate my inky words to the computer screen. Below is the second last entry in my journal written on the second last day at the cottage, I wanted to make a list cherished moments and things at the cottage as a way to express my thankfulness to God for giving us such a refreshing time during our holidays.

The sound of the leaves rustling in the wind applauding their creator with every wind.
The sparkle  of the lake at sunset reminds me to shine for God always.
The constant buzz of the mosquitoes to remind me that as idyllic as this cottage life feels it is not perfect.
The scurry of the chipmunks at work and play reminding me to make a joyous sound to the Lord in all I do.
The heat of the rocks long after the campfire has gone down, reminding me that like the rocks I am to radiate what I have been given.
The rest I was able to find when my body finally stood still.
The peace when my mind stopped working in overdrive.
The haunting call of the loon, claiming the lake as his own telling the world where he belongs.
The Joy of my pen gliding over my journal  knowing God is at work in me.
The power of God's word as I daily look to Him for strength and joy.
The heat of my tears flowing down my face knowing it will be a while before I see this place again.
The joy of my heart knowing the goodness I have found is from the Lord of all creation, therefore I do not need to leave behind what I have rediscovered at my cottage.

All of this was during a spectacular hour at the cottage when I felt so utterly connected with God, it was a gift from Him to me and I wanted to share that with you.

Shine on my friends, it is great to be back!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Morning Reminders

Last night was the second night at my cottage; this morning was the second morning. I love mornings at the cottage but today was exceptional.  5:30 this morning was a huge thunderstorm, it woke everyone up. As is thunderstorm protocol in the MacPhail house, Anya came running into my room with the second huge boom of thunder and without words I got up out of bed and crawled into hers where we could cuddle and listen to the storm. Anya soon drifted back to sleep as the storm passed, but I was still buzzing with the excitement of the storm.
As I lay there trying to fall asleep again, knowing full well that I would not, God reminded me of all I have learned this year. It was amazing to hear scripture in my mind, scripture that I am sure I could not quote if pressed but scripture which held truth God wanted to remind me of. I knew there was no point in trying to remember what God was sharing with me so downstairs I went to start writing what it was I was being told.  Here is a bit of it.
Jeremiah 29:13
“You will seek me and find me, When you seek with all your heart.”

This verse follows directly after God tell us He has plans for our lives (Jeremiah 26:11).  He wants us to seek Him not His plans.  When we seek the plans we miss out on the one who made the plans. When we look for the directions we miss the ultimate destination, the knowledge and undeniable claim that we are His. So often I find myself seeking definitive plans for my life. What am I to do? Where am I to go? Plans are important but if all I seek is for the plans I will miss out on my purpose. To be honest carrying out plans while forgetting your purpose is meaningless.

 I just wanted to tell you that when you listen, there is undeniable proof that God is with you. When you stop and look, there is undeniable evidence you are loved.  I was awoken today by a powerful and beautiful storm so God could remind me of His even more powerful and beautiful mercy in my life. I am grateful for the amazing wake up today as my cottage shook in the thunder, I am more grateful for the reminder of my purpose here on earth. 
Shine on my friends


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


There is a buzz in the air these past few days.  See, there is an upcoming trip happening soon, a trip that has been a year in the planning. A trip that a certain family is buzzing about. Suitcases are almost packed, goodbyes and well wishes for the month have been said to those staying on the Rock. Anxious emails and messages are being traded with those who are anticipating the month long arrival for a certain family.

The family is buzzing with excited anticipation of reuniting with a homeland they left just over a year ago.
This trip is more than a reunion however, it is a joyful celebration of where God had brought this family of three. The last time they were in their homeland, their hearts were heavy with goodbyes and their eyes were filled with tears of leaving. Tomorrow they start a visit that will allow them to celebrate God's goodness with their family and friends. A goodness that has crossed countries, broken hearts and has created such joy in this families heart. This family of three now has two homelands; Their beloved Canada and the Beautiful Bahamas where they have found  a new place to belong.

Thank you to all to have helped keep Canada our homeland and thank you to all who have helped make Bahamas a beautiful place to belong.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Undeniably Human

How cool it is to begin a new blog. My previous blog Uprooted to Paradise was formed out of a need, a need to better understand myself and the transition I was undergoing throughout our big move to Nassau. This blog is born from my love of writing.  This blog will give you my vantage point as I see the world through a set of  undeniably human eyes  that seek the perspective from a God who is undeniably real.

 Undeniable will have many similarities to my Uprooted to Paradise blog, after all it is crafted by the same author. You will be able to see my passion for people and animals as the main muse to my writings continue. I would hope, that through my observation of the world as I see it that my eyes and heart are opened to the lessons that God has for me through even the mundane events of life.

Why the title undeniably human? Well, that is exactly what I am. As much as I might try to deny it, I am human through and through. I am a clumsy, fidgety, imperfect, error filled human that finds her self apologizing far more than she had ever anticipated to those around her. I am flawed, I am in process, I am human. BUT.. this human is also aware I am undeniably loved by the one who made her. God is amazing in his grace and mercy in my life. This blog will be used to write about the moments when my undeniable human existence meets the undeniable love of God and all that happens because of it.
shine on my friends and welcome to undeniable.