SPECIAL NOTE: Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa tea or coffee, and come along for a little journey as I share snippets of the significant events and reflections from the past 12 months of my life. I encourage you to take the time to read through each month, as it builds to a satisfying close at the end. ~ Alison
JANUARY: It’s the season to “Dock the Ship.”
This was the beginning of a new season for me, where I was to “dock the ship” and take time away with the Lord, after 4 solid years of YWAM ministry. Mid January, I attended the “Call2All” gathering in Tauranga, which is a global event that draws together the missions and prayer movements from a vast array of organizations to see the Great Commission completed! We see the end goal in sight and believe that Jesus is coming soon! Our Beloved will return to us soon!
FEBRUARY: The Best Valentine’s Gift!
I mentioned that in January I “docked the ship” and it is amazing to see how the Lord leads perfectly… He led me to Tauranga which means “safe harbour”. It turned out to be the perfect resting spot for “Ali the Ship” to dock and find refuge in the Lord. I attended the 3-month Awaken Internship through the Tauranga House of Prayer and it was one of the best investments of time and money of my life. I came up by car and ferry on the weekend of Valentine’s Day. It truly was one of the most precious Valentine’s gifts that my Beloved has given me – a Valentine that lasted for 3-months. Time spent devoted to Him and Him alone, where He wooed me deeper into His vast heart. I recommend to all of you who need 3-months to get away with the Lord, to join the Awaken Internship this February 2011.
MARCH: Thriving in the Desert.
After taking the first few weeks to just pinch myself (over and over again) to have this season of rest, I went into a very intentional time of hiddenness and veiling myself away from people and public ministry. I mean, I was around people every day, but essentially, I was letting my HEART be veiled. I went into a time of solitude, silence and stillness within my heart where I had no titles, no ministry responsibilities, no reputation, no name. Just me and God. Some call this “the wilderness” or “the desert” and consider this time quite challenging, but I actually found it to be a beautiful place – what a refreshing place! I have learned a lot about “the garden of the Lord” in the middle of the desert, and that when all is stripped away, God has genuine room to deeply impact your inner world. I am forever grateful to have found a living reality in “the desert garden” by the grace of God.
APRIL: The Beauty found at the Cross.
A life message.Easter was so different for me this year. I went through a real process of dying, in many areas of my life. And at first, what seemed like the biggest risk of all, to hand over the most vulnerable areas of my heart to the Lord, soon became the most desirable thing to do! In flinging myself unabashedly upon the cross of Christ, I found an intimacy and communion with Christ that I did not know was possible!!! I can say with confidence, that there is joy in death. This will just be religious ‘talk’ until you do it yourself. Until you actually die to yourself in the areas you hold most dear, you will never experience the exhilaration of the resurrection. This is becoming a life message for me. The crucified life (Ours, not just Christ’s) is the doorway to ALL joy and peace and communion with Christ. There is NO other way…
MAY: Visit to Canada.
Heavenly visitation. Life as Auntie Ali.After 3 beautiful months at the House of Prayer, I visited Canada for 3 months for my first Canadian summer since 2006! This time, I got to be Auntie Ali in person for the first time! I’ve thought a lot about babies and new life this year with the birth of my niece, Hera Cecilia Lam. I call her our “Gift from Heaven”. You know when a family just needs a FRESH INFUSION OF SOMETHING HEAVENLY to get our minds off of ourselves and turn our gaze upward to the precious sanctity and beauty of human life? We needed beautiful little Hera to show up on the doorstep of our hearts, interrupting our messy lives, to say, “Here I am. I’m here to stay.” And with Hera’s arrival, our hearts have been captured and fascinated with her vivacious personality, exhilarating shrieks and all the joys that come with baby life!
JUNE: I went to “Greece” for 1 night!
Learning about loyalty in friendships.A couple childhood friends of mine back in Canada have a tradition of “going to a country” for a birthday. We don’t actually go to that country, but the birthday person picks the country, we all dress up according to the country’s customs, and decorate a home to look like the country, making gourmet food from that country. It makes for one fun party! So, I decided I wanted to go to Greece! So, for one night a bunch of my friends went to Greece with me! Reflecting on my childhood friends brings me to a place of such gratitude for the loyalty and faithfulness of these precious gals. There is something so comforting to know that there are people that have known me through most of my life and still love me! And better yet, actually think I’m pretty cool, despite some very annoying or hurtful things I have done in the past. To know that we’ve worked through the bumps and gotten closer through it, just astounds me. And even though many of these friends live on the other side of the world from me, I am thankful for these solid-rock friendships who are like sisters to me.
JULY: Don’t take family for granted.
I’ve had my ups and downs with my family. As we all do. I have come to a place of really thanking God for my family. We are special, unique, crazy, hilarious, deep, …and dearly loved by God. We’ve got quirks and it’s messy, but this is MY family. God really has done some cool miracles to bring me to such a soft place in my heart towards my family. It’s been like a fresh awakening to fall in love with the family I was born into. May we not take for granted our numbered days with our families. We never know how long we have with them…
AUGUST: Earthquakes and the epicentre of God’s Heart.
(I just realized upon editing this that the earthquake was actually on September 4th, but since August was an uneventful month, Ali is taking sovereign charge over reality and putting the earthquake blurb in August!!!)Upon arriving back to New Zealand at the end of August, I drove 15 hours south by car, to get 15 minutes away from the epicenter of the 7.1 earthquake near Christchurch. Talk about timing and location! Yet, it was like God was drawing me, like a magnet, to the centre of His presence, as I felt safer than I’ve ever felt before in the midst of the severe shaking and groaning of the earth. I felt so close to God as I experienced His powerful hand shaking this little ball we call earth. God is doing something. Something powerful. It’s time to wake up. We cannot sleep through the shakings of God on this earth any longer. God is sounding an alarm. I am learning to listen to Him, REALLY LISTEN TO HIM, because He is not dumb or mute. He is speaking, and as was the case during the earthquake, he spoke very loudly. God is alive and He wants you to acknowledge Him!
SEPTEMBER: Making a home in Tauranga.
After speaking on the Ski + Snowboard DTS’ final week of lectures before they left to go out into the nations, I drove back up north to plant myself in Tauranga, as I minister in the Tauranga House of Prayer over the next while. As previous updates shared, I was blessed with a lovely little apartment that I call “Bethlehem Stable”. I have enjoyed decorating and making a little home for myself… the first place of my own in years…. It’s time to DWELL.
OCTOBER: Finish well.
Dive in deep and don’t come up for air.Funny how immediately after we excitedly plant ourselves in a new place, we get restless feet, and restless hearts. Yup. I’m not immune! God had to speak to me, in the mundane routine of life, to finish this year well. “Dive in deep and don’t come up for air, Ali, til the end of the year.” What does that look like? I didn’t quite know, but I knew I had to go deeper. God started to show me that there are NO LIMITS to how deep I can go in God. I can go as deep and as far as I want to go!! It’s sad how in this world, and even the Christian world, many can discourage you from going really deep in God. They may look at you like you’re a bit of an alien for having this holy discontentment with the status quo. And they may glare at you as you continue to give up more stuff so you can devote more of yourself to the Lord, and even step away from “good” distractions that block you from experiencing the depths of God. Sometimes, it is the “good” stuff that actually blocks you from getting the “best”. And I’m learning that the best stuff is usually in the depths…
NOVEMBER: The Bible Coming to Life!
…and what I’ve had a huge revelation on, is that I’ve got to go mine the depths for myself, if I’m to experience the reality of the depths of God’s Heart and God’s Word. I cannot survive off the bread others have gotten. I want my own rich history in God! A friend of mine who is one of our key leaders at the House of Prayer spoke some awesome stuff on Bible Study recently. Seriously, it is like God has wooed me into the most exciting thing of my life: Cultivating a lifestyle of spending ONE WHOLE YEAR IN ONE BOOK OF THE BIBLE, and going really deep in it. This is a call to deeper focus. I can’t explain it, but quite possibly this is THE MOST excited I’ve been for something in my Christian walk: this awakening into long term Bible Study! It’s so hard to explain what has come alive in my heart in this area! So, I’ve decided to study Isaiah. I’m calling it “One Year with Isaiah”. I feel like Isaiah and I will have a rich friendship after this next year. I encourage all of you to take the leap into a similar journey!
DECEMBER: The end of an amazing year!
Ending with thoughts on Christmas!I’ve been in Tauranga for 3 months now, and have settled into ministry life at the House of Prayer and community life in this city. I’m thankful for the forming of new bonds and new friendships. It is like God has made this place a MAGNET for hungry believers, who want to build an organic community centred on prayer and worship and fellowship. I’ve gotten involved in a small group bible study, a rockin’ house worship gathering, and times of feasting with friends and so on. It’s now the 1 year mark since completing my leadership commitments at YWAM Oxford. It’s the 1 year mark of hiding myself away from any titles and roles and public ministry. Which brings me to the present day… the Christmas season, and how fitting it is that I am writing this in the suburb of Bethlehem. It brings me back 2000 years ago to the other little, humble town of Bethlehem, which became the “star” of the show, when the King of the Universe came down to earth, being born in an unsanitary sheep-dung-filled cave. I can’t shake the reality of Philippians 2, where Christ came in hiddenness and humiliation as the lowest of all servants, essentially, as our slave, loving not His life unto death… and now He has been lifted up into the limelight of Heaven and given the seat of honour. The Throne over ALL. What a Man. What a God. How can I not bow my knee to this One, to whom I owe my WHOLE life and my death? This is where my heart sits in reflection as the year of 2010 comes to a close, here at the “ends of the earth.” On that note, I will close with a sincere prayer of BLESSING to you in my heart as you turn your own eyes and heart to the One who laid down His life for you, because He loves you dearly.
P.S. Enjoy taking a look below at my “Creative-Approach-To-Summer-Christmas-Tree-Decorating-On-A-Budget” below!