Blog, Ministry + Missions, News + Updates

My February USA Trip [UPDATE]
Silly Ali
“Gettin’ my silly stare on!”

So, as I finish out my sabbatical season, I am going on a road trip to the States! What started out as a one-week practical missions trip to Joplin, Missouri has now turned into a whole month in the States! The extension of my trip has all just recently transpired… I’m becoming quite the spontaneous go-with-the-flow gal, jumping into the river of God and following Him where He leads. I’m discovering that, as I give up control of my life, God has so much more room to blow my mind and surprise me with good gifts, one of these being this trip. For all of you who know me well, I have tended to be the queen of organized plans, so if I’ve learned anything during my unexpected sabbatical, it’s to hand the reigns over to God and let Him take the lead. He holds the vision. He holds the plans. I’m just to hold His hand, and stay in step with Him. I’m starting to relax into this gracious new rhythm of life, and not fight Him so much in the process. It’s much more enjoyable this way :)

ITINERARY-AT-A-GLANCE:

  • Feb 2-9 – Mennonite Disaster Service, Joplin, Missouri – building a home for tornado victims who lost their homes
  • Feb 10-19 – International House of Prayer, Kansas City, Missouri – visiting my cousin at IHOP, spending quality time with God in the prayer room (!!!), visiting YWAM and IHOP missionary friends and meeting up with ministry contacts
  • Feb 20-Mar 1 – Orlando and Tampa, Florida – visiting supporters of mine in Florida and visiting YWAM friends and road-tripping with them back up to Canada!
  • Mar 2-4 – Roadtrip back to Canada – with my YWAM Muskoka friends, the Jurgeneits!

JOPLIN, MISSOURI

The first week, I’ll be helping out with the organization, Mennonite Disaster Service, to help build a house for victims of the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri. The leaders of this team (Gwen and Glen Torrie) are mission-supporters and friends of mine from my childhood days in Orillia. They have been so wonderful in supporting my missions work with YWAM over the past few years, so when I returned to Canada, I knew it was the perfect time to join in with what they were doing in their missions work. I know that God loves diverse partnerships, so bring on the hammers and paintbrushes and let’s build a home together! Yee haw!

IHOP KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

After my time in Joplin, I’ll travel 3 hours north to Kansas City and spend a week or more with my cousin, Rachel, who is a university student at the music academy at the International House of Prayer. I can’t wait to see her in her university life and meet her community. I’m also super stoked to have some devoted, quality time with God in the IHOP prayer room! You can catch the prayer room’s live webstream where I’ll be hanging out here! I am so excited to spend some quality time with some of my dear IHOP and YWAM friends, and meet up with some new friends I have ministry connections with!

FLORIDA TRIP

I’ve never been to Florida, so this will be fun for me as I love exploring new places! One of my prayer-supporters has invited me down to stay with her and her husband where they live every winter. It also worked out divinely that I’ll be able to join up with my YWAM friends, Mark and Jerri Jurgeneit and their 2 amazing sons Aiden and Ethan, down in Florida. We just “happened” to find out that we will all be there at the same time in the same region! Can you say “God”?! It will be so good to get to know the Jurgeneits more, as they are the family that is pioneering the brand spankin’ new YWAM Muskoka base here in Ontario and I am helping them out with it! I’ll just road trip back up to Canada with them at the end of the month. Talk about divine connections!

CONTACTING ME WHILE I’M AWAY

I don’t have a cell phone, so you can reach me by email: hopejoyfaith AT gmail DOT com

PRAYER POINTS

  • Safe travels in vans and planes
  • Safety on the building site
  • Refreshing encounters with God!
  • Meaningful times with my cousin, friends, supporters, and ministry connections
  • Divine appointments, miracles and cool God stuff!
  • Grace to transition out of sabbatical into a new season
  • Clarity and vision for March and beyond!

If you take 30 seconds to read these prayer requests and then just say a prayer of agreement shot up to Heaven, that makes a difference!! Or if you want to labour in prayer for me for hours and hours, that’s cool too ;) Thanks!

~ Alison

Blog, Ministry + Missions, News + Updates

My Christmas Update [UPDATE]

Photo: Creative Commons, ibelieve.com
Photo: Creative Commons, ibelieve.com

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I hope this Christmas letter finds you well and full of hope. Think of this letter as a virtual Christmas hug. This is the season when we take time to reflect on the King of Heaven, Immanuel (God-with-us), becoming a man and wrapping His arms around the human race in the biggest GOD-HUG the world has ever seen. May this time be a reminder that no matter what we are going through in life, God is WITH US. We are not alone.

Becoming a “REAL” Canadian (again!)

This Christmas season finds me tucked away at my Aunt and Uncle’s cozy home in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada. So far, December has been a mix of rain and snow. The weather can’t make up its mind yet, but I reckon the new year will bring blizzards, slow driving conditions, soggy salt-stained pants, stomping around in clunky winter boots and shoveling a billion tonnes of snow every day (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point). I’ll be straight up and admit that New Zealand made me a bit of a winter-wimp! I’d gotten a little used to “Christmas Barbeques on the Beach” and relaxing camping trips at this time of year! Canadians, don’t stone me! Be gracious to me as I adjust back into being a “REAL” hardy Canadian again! Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m actually really excited for this Canadian winter. It’s like a homecoming for my heart. I feel like a little girl again, with aspirations to play outside, and not hibernate. I have all these ideas forming in my head such as having an epic snowfight with snowforts and killer snowballs… Yeahhhh :)

The Surprising Kindness of God

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back in Canada for 5 months already! Looking back over this time, what stands out the most is how God has been the KINDEST FATHER to me through this surprising journey home. He graciously encouraged me out of a difficult transitional time in the Summer and brought me into an amazing Autumn and Winter. God divinely connected me into a beautiful, humble community of Jesus-lovers. I arrived just as a new young adults church was being pioneered and planted. This new church plant has grown out of a group of hungry young adults who have met in a home for the past 7 or 8 years, seeking God’s Father heart, having Holy Spirit-saturated worship jams, growing in sonship, sharing meals together and becoming a family who loves one another well. It’s been a real joy to invest my heart into this community, an amazing answer to my prayers.

Another surprising development is that there is a YWAM base being pioneered just down the road from me, by a family that I’ve crossed paths with in YWAM circles in Kona and New Zealand! It is wonderful to get to know this family more and see what doors may open in the future for discipleship and missions. Even in this sabbatical season, God is giving me glimpses of missions and ministry possibilities for the future. Let’s just say I’m open, available and excited for what’s ahead.

You’ve Blown Me Away

I am so thankful to all of you who have been such a source of strength to me in this transitional, sabbatical season. You have prayed for me, encouraged me, written me, phoned me, sent me care packages and supported me financially. Some of you have even increased your donations in this sabbatical season, which has blown me away and totally encouraged me in ways you will only fully discover in Eternity. The Father has shown His kindness to me through the tangible love you have given to me. I somehow believed (wrongly) that support and prayers would decrease as I left New Zealand and went on sabbatical, but God has proven to me that He sustains me and provides for me in ALL seasons. So, thank YOU for being the hands and heart of God extended to me.

2013: Looking Ahead

I am still praying about what 2013 will look like in terms of missions and ministry and life on the home front and abroad. I’m learning to stay in step with God, and not rush ahead of Him, nor try to control things. If there’s anything I’ve learned in 2012, it’s that the best and wisest thing you could possibly do is to hand control of your life over to a Kind Father, even if it involves interruptions, unexpected changes and surprise detours. It’s usually because He’s “up to something GOOD”. A pastor I know recently reminded us that we are to trust God, which means we are to “REST EASY in the hands of a Sovereign God.” So, while future details are not completely clear to me yet, I’m “resting easy” in God, trusting Him to show me the way forward step by step. In the meantime, I welcome your support through prayers, financial gifts, words of encouragement, snail mail, phone calls and visits in person!

Catch me up on YOU!

If you know me well, you know that I value one-on-one communication the most, so email me and let me know what’s new with you, or let’s talk on Skype: alison_lam or Phone: +1-705-646-9668 (EST)

You’ll also find me regularly blogging at: http://alisonlam.com or tweeting inspiration with 140 characters or less!

Lots of love,
Alison

Blog, News + Updates

[Photo Blog] Autumn Glory

Well, this is a rare occasion! A photo blog! I haven’t really photo blogged the past year or so…. to simplify my life…  BUT this is just TOO beautiful to pass up. I thought I’d show you some of the beautiful Autumn colours I have experienced the past couple weeks here in Muskoka and area (Ontario, Canada). Enjoy the visual delights!

Went for a drive with my Aunt and Uncle along Hwy 11 north of Bracebridge. Amazing colours!
On the drive near Utterson and Bracebridge. So serene and peaceful.
This is the view of my Aunt and Uncle’s home in Bracebridge on the Muskoka River. This is where I’m living now. It’s the light blue house. Our little dock is the one in the middle with the little old green canoe sitting on the side of the hill.
Muskoka River by our home. STOP. That’s the word for this season which God has so clearly spoken to me. Stop to rest and be with God.
On our walk through downtown Bracebridge, we got distracted by the Autumn colours. These red trees are amazing!!
God is the master artist! He can take a green leaf and then turn it THIS rich, deep red. Wow.
With Viola, my lovely German friend, enjoying the red colours in Bracebridge!
On the drive from Bracebridge to Port Carling and Bala
The lovely waterfront docks in Gravenhurst where the Segwun steampship is.
Segwun and Wenonah II steamships in Gravenhurst. We took a cruise on the Segwun on Lake Muskoka!
Had a nice cruise on the Segwun with my Aunt and Viola (and Bridget, not shown) on Lake Muskoka!
Good friends enjoying a nice afternoon out on Lake Muskoka on the Segwun steamship!
Viola, Steffy and I getting our hiking game face on before conquering Algonquin Park.
Dorset Tower in Muskoka
Vibrant colours from Dorset Tower
Muskoka views from Dorset Tower
Viola, Steffy and I climbing the stairs of the Dorset Tower, Muskoka. I may or may not have made a lot of freaky scared gibberish while climbing the cold, slippery stairs. I may or may not like heights…. ;)
Bridget, my Aunt Meg, my Uncle Jim at the top of Dorset Tower
Up high in the sky on Dorset Tower
Welcome to Algonquin Provincial Park! Steffy, Viola, Ali.
Tree Huggers in Algonquin Park. We just can’t help it! Trees are just so huggable :)
Hiking through Algonquin Park. The autumn colours blew my mind. These yellows are lovely.
Along the hike in Algonquin Park (Track & Tower 7.5 km loop)
Viola joyfully playing in the leaves
Groovin’
View from the lookout on the Track and Tower loop in Algonquin Park.
Lookout in Algonquin. I love wonderful views.
Falling off the cliff at the lookout in Algonquin Park (actually, I can’t lie… I’m just pretending… and aren’t you relieved!)
I took a bit of artistic licence to ramp up the colours on this shot :) Relaxing at the lookout point of the hike we went on in Algonquin Park.
A lovely little lake in Algonquin Park
A nice picnic beach area in Algonquin Park
We made an Inukshuk at Huckleberry Rock near Bracebridge. It’s an Inuit word for “someone was here” or “you’re on the right path”. This is a great prophetic word for me in this season. I’m HERE. And I’m on the RIGHT PATH. Yes!!
Overlooking Hwy 11 near Huckleberry Rock. The photo doesn’t do justice to the amazing pink hues in this rock formation.

Well, that’s all, folks! I hope you enjoyed this tour of the Autumn colours as much as I did! The colours are fleeting, the leaves fall quickly, as the season changes so fast. It makes you realize that you must take hold of life, and enjoy the here and now, and not waste a moment. Life is a gift. Live it! When you get the idea to go for a walk, go for it! When you see that road you want to drive down but never have time to do so, take that drive! When you want to say that kind word to someone, say it! If you love someone, tell them so! The moments pass so fast in this life. We must enjoy the day that God has given us. We never know how long we have on this earth.

I have just lost a wonderful friend and mentor, Georgina Bennett Williams. She died yesterday in New Zealand, from a quick 2 month battle with cancer. She inspired me the past 6 years to go forward boldly in obedience to Jesus, in my weakness. She inspired me to love Jesus with all my heart, soul and mind. She was radiant and vibrant and full of the beauty of God. She taught me what it looked like to be romanced by Jesus, to enjoy life with a smile and to love people deeply, from the heart. She would have loved these Autumn colours. Here’s to you, Georgina! Enjoy the splendour of heaven now!

Blog, Ministry + Missions, News + Updates

Transition: Pain and Peace [UPDATE]

 

“In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.”

— Proverbs 16:9

I’ve been back in Canada for two months now, and what a rollercoaster ride it has been… I have enjoyed the lovely summer weather here in Ontario, and all the wonderful things that come with living in Muskoka (AKA “cottage country”), with access to fresh water lakes, rivers, forests and parks galore. This has been therapeutic for me — a calm reprieve amid all the goodbyes and changes and unknowns in my life. It is only NOW that I am finally unpacking my bags and starting to hang my clothes up in a closet, and able to call ONE room and ONE bed my own, after moving around from town to town, bed to bed, and people to people since I said goodbye to New Zealand in early July. To say that the continual movement of the past two months has been difficult is the UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY!!!! I’m a planter and a nester, so to constantly be moving around and not certain about anything for an extended block of time, has pressed every button inside of me. I’m starting to see that God really doesn’t mind having all our buttons pressed. He has purpose in it. It certainly brings us face to face with the reality of what’s really going on inside us, and forces us to either run away from the vulnerability, or come to God in vulnerable trust and total dependence on Him.

Right now, I’m totally out of my comfort-zone, and out of my control-zone. All my well-laid plans have been stopped. I am not moving to the M-i-d-d-l-e E-a-s-t. Many of you already know this, but I wanted to share the news “officially”. Back in March, I shared in detail about my plans to move to T-u-r-k-e-y. Let’s just say that pretty soon after I sent out that update, I could not shake this deep sense that something wasn’t right. I went to book my flight to T-u-r-k-e-y, determined to keep going forward with my plans, but I had no peace about it. Now that’s a recipe for torment! I tried to reason it away. I told myself that it was just fear, and that I just had to do what I’ve always done when going into a new season: step forward and “do it afraid”. But I just couldn’t shake this unsettledness in my spirit that God was trying to get my attention. Well, to make a long story slightly shorter, I didn’t book the ticket to T-u-r-k-e-y. I booked a ticket to Canada instead, and the peace of God returned to my heart. The all-consuming peace to head in this direction shocked me; floored me, to be honest. Canada was not in my plans at all! In many ways, I’d closed my heart to my “home and native land” long ago. It seems, though, that God has a way of opening up our hearts again, in unexpected ways and with unexpected timing.

Recently, I wrote this quote below on Twitter, which describes my life right now:

“Often it takes more courage and more faith to go back home, than it takes to go somewhere foreign and new.”

So, here I am in Canada, in the corner of the globe I was born and raised in.

I am here.

I am finally stopping.

I am unpacking my bags. (Finally! Yay!)

And I have peace with God.

If I had been allowed to write the plot, this chapter would certainly NOT have been a part of the book! But I guess that’s what makes a good story: mystery, intrigue, suspense and twists in the story. And even though I’m walking through some really painful things right now, I can’t emphasize enough how much the PEACE OF GOD has become the very FOOD my heart, soul, mind, body and spirit feed upon. The peace of God is the only thing that makes walking through the painful stuff WORTH IT.

Earlier this year, someone came up to me and asked me point-blank, “Alison, how long can you live outside of the peace of God? How long can you live in that torment?” That question has stuck with me ever since.

This man went on to say, “Alison, let the peace of God RULE and GOVERN your heart. The peace of God must be the ruler and governor of your life.” (paraphrase of Colossians 3:15). This hits home as a plumb line for what this season is about: learning to allow God’s peace to rule my life, and not be ruled by anything else.

Could you please stand with me in prayer as I embrace this new, unexpected season in Canada? Thank you so much!

Alison

Blog, God + Spirituality, News + Updates, Personal Growth + Wholeness

Anxiety No Longer: The Overpowering Revelation of Rest and Comfort

I just returned from one-week away at a Father Heart “A” School in Taupo led by James and Denise Jordan and their team of other lovely mothers and fathers. I feel born again, again. I want to invite you into the transformation…

Sometimes we don’t know that we’ve had a cloud hanging over us all our lives, until that cloud is removed and we come into the full blown beams of the burning sun. Until the sun is revealed, we think that life is cloudy. Who knew?! The cloud is the vapourous veil to the true reality. The sun is the true reality.

Who knew?!

Who knew that life was sunny?! I thought that clouds were like cement — a cold, hard reality. Who knew that clouds are actually a misty vapour, that dissipate when the atmosphere and climate changes. Atmosphere change. Poof. Clouds gone. But the sun never changes. It just shines and shines — continually. Do you know that the sun has never stopped shining? WE just come under a cloud, so we think the sun is gone. WE just move away from it as we move with the revolving globe, so we think the sun is gone. But the sun never moves. The sun never changes. It just shines and shines and shines and shines. The SUN is the true reality; clouds are not. Who knew that clouds are so flimsy that they are blown away by invisible air that we call wind. They are OVERPOWERED BY AIR!

Who knew?!

Who knew what SUBSTANTIAL SUBSTANCE was really contained in the rays of the sun? Who knew that the PEACE of God was supposed to actually FEEL GOOD and that the HOPE that comes from His Spirit, who is OUR COMFORTER, was supposed to actually FEEL COMFORTING!

I feel like I’ve been dooped for most of my life, under this dark cloud, but thank God, I’ve been brought into His glorious light!

I have run from comfort, shunning it as evil, not knowing that our GOOD GOD is called the GOD OF ALL COMFORT, and that ALL COMFORT comes from HIM. Comfort is not evil. It is good!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor 1:3-4)

To be comfortable is the ability to be comforted. Comfort-able.

For some reason, I had thought that I was supposed to feel perpetually restless. I thought I was supposed to always feel like I was in danger, as if it somehow made me more radical. ‘Woo, look at HER. She lives such a dangerous, radical life for God. And whoa, she’s single, going around solo all the time. She’s so radical.’ No, I was no radical. I was a lonely, isolated, cloudy loner, living under the deception of Satan, the most restless wanderer on this earth!

I had thought I was supposed to feel like a solo sojourner through this wild and dangerous world. I had NO IDEA that I was supposed to actually FEEL the COMFORT of the Father’s love filling my HEART, which permeates my MIND, embraces my EMOTIONS, and seeps out into my BODY. I thought I was supposed to feel like a stranger and an outsider in this world. I had no idea that I was supposed to feel AT HOME and AT REST in this world because this is my Father’s HOME. His RESTING PLACE. His DWELLING PLACE. I didn’t know that my internal world was supposed to FEEL RESTFUL. I didn’t know that my heart could abide in rest, like a soft pillow to lay my weary head upon and receive comfort. I thought my heart was supposed to feel so strong and resilient and driven. I never knew….

I had no idea that I was allowed to REST, that I was supposed to REST. I have spoken to countless groups about how God gives rest and God created a day of rest to bless us, but I didn’t know that you could actually experience that rest, and FEEL rested.

I didn’t know that rest could actually be a FEELING.

I knew I was supposed to stop my outward activity, but I could never escape that inner frantic rush and restless drivenness, always under this debilitating PRESSURE inside me. Paralyzing burdens that got heavier and heavier with each passing year. Every year not accomplishing all the lists of “shoulds” and “musts”. Always falling short. Always missing out. Always behind. Always disappointing myself. All my failed expectations of myself heaping up endless condemnation upon my heart.

Whoa. I’m allowed to rest.

I had no idea!

I had no idea!

I had no idea!

One of the most radical things that was prayed over me last week was this:
“Father, would you give Alison the courage to relax”. What?!?! Courage to relax?!?! What about courage to forge on into dangerous territory with might and power, to labour for the Lord and win the battle against the enemy?!?! What?!?! Courage to RELAX?!?!

Everything in me resisted the whole idea of RELAXING! (like it was somehow blasphemous and demonic!) I was freaking out inside and in protest! Duh… everyone else could see it — this girl is wound up in anxiety and needs to relax!

Then it hit me – like a soft pillow. Wow, I really do need courage to relax. I am terrified of relaxing. I need more courage to relax, than I need to be all strong and radical.

Like a pillow, the Spirit of God came to lay my weary head down. I had permission from God to relax. I was allowed to rest. No wait, I was commanded to rest. One of the first commands God gave to mankind, was to rest. How did I miss this all my life?!

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

This is the good news! This is the gospel! There is a rest for the people of God.

To describe what happened this past week, simply put, I’d call it ONE WEEK-LONG SIGH OF RELIEF. Sometimes we have no idea that we’ve been holding our breath all our lives, until we let our breath out and SIGH. Sometimes we just have no idea how heavy a burden we’ve been carrying on our shoulders, until it is lifted off of us.

We have no idea… until our eyes are opened.

They say that “Love does not transform until it is felt.” This is so true. Someone can TELL you truth all your life, and it doesn’t change a thing in your life, until it finally bypasses your mind, and dives into the deep crevices of your heart, so much so that it is FELT. Then, the lightbulb goes on in your heart, and you are changed.

All my life I have lived in anxiety and worry, like an obsessive mental racehorse running the never-ending marathon race of anxiety. A loop that never stops. I was never diagnosed as abnormal because I was just following the example of my family, the example of all the people I’ve lived around, and the example of the whole world. All my life I have lived with a fear of the future, a fear of getting old, a fear of dying, a fear of the bad guy just around the corner, a fear of the unknown. I have been crippled by dread. And then crippled by regret, thinking that everything I’d done or not done in the past, was somehow contributing to the impending DOOM that was just around the corner. The future, to me, was bleak, dark, horrible, hard and hopeless. I believed that everything gets worse and worse, and life gets harder and harder. It’s like I had been wincing my whole life, just waiting for the smack down. You could have named me Dismal Forebodings. I was Anxiety Girl to the max. The superhero of mental and emotional torture.

Well, no longer. I’ve been renamed.

All I can say is that God has delivered me from these dismal forebodings of the future. And He has renamed me Joyful Anticipations. I am so excited about the future! I am giggling randomly throughout the day, and as I lay there in my bed before I go to sleep. Giggling and chuckling. I have this felt hope and this felt anticipation like a little kid who can’t wait for the next day to come.

God has filled my heart with bright hope for tomorrow. I am filled with hope for the future.

I have been born again into excitement for what’s ahead.

God has been playing the biggest joke on me, and I can’t stop laughing! Jehovah Sneaky, thou hast tricked me!

I thought it was all supposed to be so horrible! I thought that hope was the biggest risk in the world. I didn’t know that hope is the most safe, secure and certain reality. Hope is like the burning sun that just shines and shines and shines. It’s not like a cloud that blows away the moment the climate changes.

It’s like I had laid my life down at His feet, willing to die for Him, certain that the sword of pain would slice me to the core, as I bore the cross for the rest of my life. And suddenly, my Heavenly Father gathers me in His arms, lifts my downturned face and beckons me to look out the window. He opens the shades, and reveals to me this wide and spacious field, a glorious and splendid garden of delight. And He looks back to me and locks His gaze with mine and says, “You will laugh at the days to come.” (Prov 31:25).

Oh how funny and kind the Lord is! He is so hilariously kind. So excessively kind and indulgent in His love. He is over-the-top in His GOODNESS.

“Those who sow in tears, will reap with songs of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy!” (Psalm 126:5-6a)

So there, you have it! My week, in a nut-shell. And that was just ONE of a beautiful ABUNDANCE of revelations that I received from my Heavenly Father last week. As I said, He was over-the-top in His goodness. He gives good gifts.

With joyful anticipations,
Alison