Archive for February 2013

Weekend Recap

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What an amazing weekend this has been!!

My weekend started off with a trip to High Point to spend Valentine's Day with my old roommate, Jessica Rose.  Neither of us had plans, so we decided to get dinner, see Safe Haven, and catch up.  I haven't seen her since October and have really missed hanging out with her every day!  I forget how long the two of us can sit and talk, without ever running out of things to talk about.  We sat on her bed for like three hours catching up.  It was SO nice to spend some time with her.  I couldn't have asked for a better valentine's day lol!

I also spent Friday and Saturday with Grey Stone's youth helping out at Metamorphosis.  A few weeks ago, I was asked to be a small group leader for our church's Metamorphosis Weekend.  I said yes immediately, because I have always LOVED Metamorphosis (formally known as D-Now).   When I was in the youth, this was an event I always looked forward to.  I loved having college aged group leaders come in and teach us, I loved the scavenger hunts, and how it always seemed to make our youth group grow closer together.  I still remember the small group leaders who taught me and how much of a difference they made in my walk with Christ.  I was SO excited to, again, get the opportunity to have that kind of impact on a young person's walk.

Our theme this past weekend was Upside Down.  We taught the students how Christ came and turned this world upside down.   How he changed our world forever, and how it was our job to continue that cycle.  We went through a study teaching students how they can turn our current world upside down and that the change must start with them.  It was so cool to watch God work in their lives!  This was the first D-Now event, that I've helped with, where the students genuinely seemed to want to know more about Christ.  Almost every student really wanted to be there, not to socialize with their friends (even though that was a perk), but to learn and grow in their own walk. 

I led the High School Girls with Sheena & Lauren.  The three of us leaders hit it off right away and really clicked on our teaching methods.  We met before each lesson to make sure we had a plan and were all on the same page.  I loved getting to hear their thoughts on how they interpreted the message and then getting to add my own thoughts into the mix.  What would have been a great bible lesson with just one of us teaching, turned into an AMAZING time for the girls to learn.

Our girls asked some very difficult questions, and pushed us leaders to not simply teach the lesson provided, but to truly teach them about every area of Christ.  I was genuinely blown away by their willingness and eagerness to learn.  I think we all made some great connections this weekend, and I truly hope and pray something we said will stick with these girls forever. 

We challenged each of our High School girls to find one thing that stuck out from the weekend, more than the rest, and to really take the time to explore it further and help it grow in their life.   I also loved that one of the lessons challenged us leaders to ask every student where they wanted their walk with Christ to go, and how they planned to get there.  Hearing these girls' dreams and steps they planned to take was so encouraging.  We have some GREAT leaders that are about to turn this world upside down!  I just ask that you would all join me in continuing to pray for the students who participated this weekend.  That they would no longer be comfortable living how they currently are, but that they would have the courage and boldness to turn this world, their world, upside down for Christ!

Today, and over the course of the weekend, God has truly blessed me by letting me see some of his plans for my life come together!  As you all know, I'll be moving to Haiti sometime in the next year.  When I told everyone that, I still had a lot of unanswered questions, and still do.  However, the opportunity to go to Haiti in April has opened up, where I'll get to meet Amber and really try to get some plans put into action.  She and I have been talking about living together, and will be looking into apartments/housing options during that week.  We are also going to work on getting that building, or at least getting an idea of how much money we'll need to raise for it.  I know God has HUGE plans for this trip, and I am so excited to meet Amber, work with her, and watch His plans unfold!

I posted a note on facebook last week, asking 5-10 small groups/Sunday School classes/churches/ businesses/etc if they would be willing to sponsor $100-$200 for this trip.  I've already got some people on board (a pampered chef party, a parent's night out event with camp, and some Sunday School classes donating) and have been so blessed to watch God take care of the financial needs.

God is absolutely amazing, and blows my mind away EVERY day with his love, guidance, provision, and grace!!  Please continue to keep this journey in your prayers!!

Haiti here I come (again)!!!!!!!!!

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My Journey to Haiti: Part Three

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

These last couple of months have been filled with the most eye-opening and amazing moments, all of which have been orchestrated by God!

Let me give you a little bit of background that I left out of part two.  Once I hit that moment of realizing that God wanted me in Haiti and I had to give him control and join the ride, fears/worries of different kinds started creeping in my mind.  You see, I graduated college last year in May, and I knew my loans would be entering into repayment VERY soon.  Most college graduates have 6 months after their graduation date before that repayment period begins.  Around the time all of this realization took place, I was about 3-4 months away from having to make large loan payments.  I went into the loans websites to get an idea of how much I would be looking at paying each month.  I have 3 loans, through 2 different organizations, and came to the understanding that I would be paying around $350/month starting December 2012.

Yikes!! That's all I could think.

At this point, I had no job, no prospect of a job, was contemplating moving to a fifth-world Country, and honestly had no clue how those payments were going to take place.  Honestly, I panicked.  I thought there was no way I could ask people to support me each month to live in Haiti AND ask them to send enough to make those payments.  I just didn't feel right asking people to do that, nor did I think there was any way people could do that.  I reached a point where I figured my only option would be to find a job, work for a year or so, and save up enough money to make those payments before I could move to Haiti.

To say I was bummed and feeling discouraged was an understatement.  The job search had yielded absolutely NOTHING, I didn't have a peace about working in design any longer, and truthfully felt like I had run into a brick wall that I couldn't find a way around.  I kept praying and asking God to show me a solution to this problem.  I know God is bigger than any financial hurdle, and I simply had to trust that he would take care of it.  Until then,  I had to keep looking for jobs and going about life.

During this whole ordeal, our team was preparing for our upcoming (my fourth) trip to Haiti (Dec. 2012).  We were raising the funds, gathering supplies, planning our week, and getting really excited for the upcoming adventure.  I prayed constantly that the Lord would use our team in ways we hadn't even thought of.  That He would go ahead of us and prepare the hearts of those we were going to see, as well as prepare us for the journey.  I prayed that He would use this trip to make my calling clearer, and give me a better understanding of his plans for me in Haiti.  I prayed every way possible over our trip.  I knew God had big plans and I was so anxious to see how they would all unfold.

About a month before our trip, I attended the Missions Committee meeting at Grey Stone.  I spoke with Randall that night, and he really pushed me to make the move, step out in faith, and wanted to know when I was going.  I jokingly laughed and brushed it off, knowing that I was still afraid and genuinely had no idea when or even if things would ever get to that point.  It wasn't until I was on the way home that it hit me...

God had taken care of my financial hurdle.

A week prior, I received a letter in the mail letting me know my first loan payment was due.  That payment was through CFNC, on one loan, and was a $50 payment.  When I went online to make the payment, I realized I hadn't heard anything from my other loan company.  I went on their website and realized that they had my loan listed as not going into repayment until 2015.


I didn't realize it at first, but on the car ride home that night I broke into tears over the realization that God had just cleared the path.  He had given me a 2 year window where I could go to Haiti and not have to worry about paying the  $300/month.  This may seem so silly to some of you, but in that moment I felt more blessed than ever before.  I've heard of this kind of thing happening to people who are faithful with their giving, but I had never experienced anything this big before. 

So let me recap:
I have no full-time job holding me back.
I no longer have to worry about a $300/month payment.
I am single and don't have a family that needs me here.

There was no longer any reason that I couldn't go to Haiti.  Nothing at all was standing in my path.  I had to go!!  I had to; and this was the absolute perfect time!!

I loaded that plane with our team on December 28, 2012 knowing deep in my heart that this was not a trip where I was just visiting.  I was no longer going simply to love on the people of Haiti and visit old friends.  For the first time, I was going to make plans for a full-time move down there!  The best part, was that we were staying with Jim & Debbie Hambrick, who took me on my first trip to Haiti.  It was so fitting that the people who helped me fall in love with Haiti would be the ones who helped me move there full-time.

If you read my blog posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) after we got back, then you know how incredible the trip turned out to be.  God worked in my heart in ways I hadn't even imagined.  He opened up some doors, reaffirmed once again that Haiti would be my home very soon, and created some lasting friendships.  After talking with Jim, Debbie, and Donna that night, there was no longer any question or fear in my mind.  Even though some hard questions were asked, and I knew the journey would not be easy, I finally felt 1000% at peace about everything.  My heart was fully in love with Haiti, and I finally announced to my family and everyone else that I was moving to Haiti!!!!

Through this whole process I have come to realize just how amazing God is.  He orchestrated all of this from the time I was born, and will continue to work in my life until my time on earth is finished.  I have come to appreciate my relationship with the Lord so much more than ever before over the last few years.  Even though so many thoughts, decisions, and actions deemed me unworthy of this relationship, I am so grateful to serve the Lord who forgives ALL sins and loves us anyways.  I am so thankful that He never gave up on me and has loved me unconditionally through every stage of life. 

I've learned that no hurdle is too big for God.  If it's His will, He will see that it comes to pass.  I've learned to relinquish my fears, worries, and concerns and trust that God is bigger than anything I could ever come across. I've learned that God uses our weak moments in life to shine just how big his Glory is.

If he can use me: a 22 year old girl with a messed up past, then he can use you too!  I never in a million years would have guessed this is where my life would take me, but I am so glad this is where I'm going.  I know this story is still being written, and that it's still in its early chapters, but if God has done this much already, I can't wait to see how the rest unfolds!!

Please keep me in your prayers as I take each step in Faith.  Please keep this journey, wherever it may take me, in your prayers.

I say this a lot, but we genuinely serve an AMAZING God yall!!  If you are reading this and have never given your life to Christ, or are on the fence, take it from me:  jump in with all you've got!!  You will never, EVER, regret it!!  If you have questions, or would like to know how to give your life to Christ, please ask!! I would be honored to share that with you!

So here we go!  Part four is just beginning.  I can't wait to see what God is going to do!

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My Journey to Haiti: Part Two

Sunday, February 10, 2013

It was the summer of my Freshman year (2009), when I took my first trip to Haiti.  Looking back, I took that trip for all the wrong reasons.   I went because my boyfriend at the time was going, I thought it would be fun, my youth pastor convinced me to go, and I enjoyed the positive reaction I got from my family when they heard about the trip.   I went to Haiti thinking I would go for a week, enjoy another mission trip, and come home to live life like normal.

Boy was I wrong!

I may not have gone for the right reasons, my heart and motives may have been completely wrong, but let me tell you:  God used that trip to change my life forever.  He knew exactly what he was doing.  There was a reason he pushed my youth pastor to stay on me about going, and there was a reason He provided the funds for the trip.  His reason wasn't to satisfy my poor motives, it was to make His name, power, love, and Glory shine through me: a life that seemed unusable at the time.  God is pretty incredible like that!  Just look at how he turned Paul's life around!

While on that first trip to Haiti, I had a real slap in the face, knock you to the ground, you've gotta shape up encounter with God.  I was humbled dramatically by the people I met, the circumstances they lived in, and everything we experienced that week.  In Port au Prince, Haiti 2009, standing in the Faith Hope Love Infant Rescue, I understood for the first time, what true unselfish Godly love was supposed to look like.  Listening to Dorothy's testimony I finally understood what undeniable faith looked like. Through that trip, and the weeks following, I realized how messed up my life was.  I realized that I had strayed so far off course from what a Christian should be, and I knew things had to change.

I took small steps at that point, trying to get my life back on track.  The process was not easy, as I was still in that unhealthy relationship and not ready to give it up.  I knew, deep in my heart, my relationship was the biggest barrier standing between me and God.  I tried to "fix" the relationship, and justify those steps, but again, God knew better.  I was so afraid to walk away, paralyzed by the fear of loneliness, that I wouldn't give it up.

So, God intervened.

He gave my boyfriend at the time, enough courage to walk away and end things.  I was so hurt.  Lost.  Dying of sadness inside.  I thought my life had ended.  Little did I know, God would use that time to shape me into the woman I am today.

He knew I needed to be stripped bare of all of my comforts so that the only place left to run was to Him, and that's exactly what I did.   I dug my face into the Bible every night that first year.  I begged, pleaded, and cried to the Lord every night to take the heartache away, and every night he'd put my heart at rest.  God taught me through that painful situation to rely on Him, and Him alone for my needs.  He reminded me of the commitment I had made to him 13 years back.  God got my life, relationships, and journey back on track.  Most importantly, however, through His compassion, forgiveness, and persistence in my life I learned to put my Faith, hope, love, and trust in Him, and Him alone.  If I didn't understand what a relationship with Christ looked like at 6 years old, I most definitely learned in that moment!  I have never doubted my relationship with Christ. I knew I was a believer and that I had been saved, but it wasn't until after that trip to Haiti that I truly, wholeheartedly, 100% gave my life to Christ.  I decided that I couldn't, and wouldn't, ever go back to that place of loneliness, hurt, and insecurity.  I understood just how much I needed Christ, and from that moment on I have tried my very best to maintain a great relationship with Him and follow His calling.

I am not perfect.  I have never been perfect.  I've made some terrible, TERRIBLE, mistakes throughout my life.  Many mistakes I wish I could take back and erase from my past, but I can't.  They shaped me into who I am today.  While I hope 16 year old Allyson, never returns, I have to thank God for using that awful time in my life to shape me into a better person.  God could have left me, but He never gave up, not once!  

Fast forward to 2011.  At this point, I had finally healed from the breakup, mended all of the broken relationships, and had gotten life pretty well back on course.  Obviously,  I wasn't perfect those two years and made mistakes, but I had finally found peace and meaning in my life.  Over the course of those two years, two BIG years in the life of a young person, I had to make a lot of decisions about who I wanted to be, where I wanted to be, and how I was going to continue this chapter of my life into adulthood.  I spent countless hours praying and asking God to guide my path.  I asked Him to show me where He'd like me to be.  I prayed that He would use me and my life for His glory, whatever that looked like (that's a big prayer yall!!).  Every time I went searching for God's guidance my mind would turn to Haiti.  My heart longed to go back so badly.  There wasn't a single day that Haiti didn't cross my mind in one way or another.  I knew I had to go back, but had no idea how or when.  I also didn't put it together at first that God was answering my prayer.  He was saying I want you in Haiti; screaming it really.  I honestly thought he would give me a response regarding interior design, and for awhile the thought of any other path in life seemed out of question.  

It wasn't until the summer of 2011, that things really came together.  A mission trip to Ethiopia had fallen through, and Cassie (my best friend) encouraged me to go back to Haiti.  She knew how much I missed it, and how much I had longed to be back.  So, I contacted Dorothy, worked out the details, and Cassie and I headed to Haiti in December of 2011.

I had no clue when I got on the plane December 27, 2011 that my life was about to take a dramatic U-turn and finally fall into place how God planned.  We stayed with and worked at Dorothy's for two weeks during that trip.   My heart fell in love all over again with the people, culture, and Country. So much so, that I knew after our trip that I had to pursue missions in Haiti.  I didn't know what that would look like, or how it would happen, but I knew this beautiful and wonderful place would become a part of my life forever.

I spent the next few months in deep prayer, and time in the Word, looking for answers.  After a few weeks at home, I knew the calling was undeniable.  I knew 100% that I was supposed to move to Haiti and work as a missionary.  I knew, that I knew, that I knew.  But I was terrified.

In March of 2012, Cassie and I were both terribly missing Haiti.  So much, that I could barely make it an hour through a day without thinking about Dorothy, the kids, or Haiti.  We jokingly mentioned going back, and then decided that we really had to go, and started planning.  My roommates, at the time, mentioned an interest in joining me for a trip to Haiti so we opened up the trip to them as well.  Meredith immediately jumped on board, Jodi was having nothing to do with it, and shortly after, Jessica decided to join us!  I was so excited to share this place I had fallen in love with, with three of my best friends.  Even more so, I was super-giddily-excited to board that plane in May.  I couldn't wait to get back, discuss doing missions down there with Dorothy, and see how God was going to use that trip.

To my surprise, I left that trip in May feeling unsure of God's calling, and really questioning if I had heard him right.  Dorothy asked some hard questions and I really had to step back and examine, in great detail, whether God was calling me to Haiti; and if so, what was He calling me to do, and where specifically?

Did I mention I was absolutely, paralyzing-ly, terrified.  I spent many days crying at the thought of moving to Haiti.  There was just no way God would be calling me:  A 21 year old, with a terribly messed up past, to be a missionary.  There was just no way.  I didn't think I could do it.  There was just no way I could move to another Country alone.  I was too scared.


A crippling, yet completely irrational, fear, that I let consume me.  In that short time I stepped away from pursuing the move, and decided I was unfit and incapable.  I immersed myself in school work, graduation, and applying for jobs.  I told myself that I had misunderstood God, and that this is where He wanted me, not in Haiti.  

Guess what?  I was wrong --- AGAIN!

For months I applied, applied, and applied some more, for jobs.  I took interview after interview thinking for sure I'd get a position, start working, get my own place, blah, blah blah.  God had other plans though.  He knew exactly where He wanted me, and that was not here in Durham, NC.  He wanted me in Haiti!! After multiple declined positions, and conversations with close friends, I realized that God was telling me this was not my path.  He knew if I got offered a job, that I would take it and get off track again.  God knew that I'd eventually come around, and realize that once again I'd stepped off course and needed to get back on track.

And, that's what I did.

I finally surrendered (again), and said "Ok God, I give up trying to maintain control of my life.  I know this is not where you want me, so please take the reigns and steer me in the right path."  I prayed,  "I'm ready Lord.  Help me to overcome my fears so that I can do the great work you have planned.  I'll go wherever you send me."

And well, you guessed it...He sent me back to Haiti!

During the summer of 2012, The opportunity for a third trip opened up.  I jumped at the opportunity, knowing this would be the trip to change everything.  This would be the trip where I finally took steps to overcome my fears, and truly follow God's calling for me to move to Haiti.

I had no idea just how BIG this trip would be!! I had no clue that God was going to bless my life in ways I never saw coming, before I even stepped foot back onto Haitian soil.  I knew God wanted me in Haiti, but the things he has done over the last few months have blown my mind while reassuring me, and my family, that this is most definitely the path I'm supposed to take.

Stay tuned, the best part is coming!

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My Journey to Haiti: Part One

I've started, stopped, re-started, and deleted this post multiple times.  I can't seem to find the right words to do justice to this story.  To give enough praise and honor to God, who has orchestrated it all.  It's such a large story that I feel too small to write.

However, it is my story.  It's the story God has taken me through and continues to write.  It is my job to follow God's call, and share all of the spectacular things He has done in my life.  The whole point of this blog was to encourage, challenge, and inspire others through my story, and I know if I don't share the most important story of my life with you I would do more harm than good.  While I am not proud of all the steps that it took to get me to this point, they were all crucial and equally important.  God uses those hard, painful, and even shameful moments in our lives to shape and mold us into the people He wants us to be.  While I don't enjoy sharing my sinful moments, I know that God can use my story to mold other people, so I must be faithful in sharing the good, bad, and all the in between moments up to this point.

So here goes...Let me give you a little background of how I came to know the Lord, because lets be honest:  I wouldn't be here today, sharing my story, if that had never happened :)

When I was six years old, a close friend of mine shared the ABC's to becoming a Christian with me.  (A- Admit that you're a sinner and acknowledge that you need Christ to forgive you,  B- Believe that Jesus is God's son and he came to Earth to pay the penalty for your sins by dying on the cross, and C- Confess that Jesus is Lord and commit your life to Him.)  My friend had just finished VBS at her church, and was so excited to share this with me.

Now, I grew up in a loving Christian family who always took me to church.  Our family was there, no questions asked, every Sunday Morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.  I was no stranger to the ABC's, but in that moment I finally got excited about it.  I remember jumping off the swings in our backyard, and running inside to tell my mom about my decision.  We met with our Pastor, and I got baptized shortly after. I remember how excited my family and friends were. I remember another close friend of mine getting saved around the same time, and the thought of being baptized together was so exciting for me.

Needless to say, I had a 6 year-old's mentality of what it meant to be a follower of Christ.  It's honestly hard for me to say if in that moment I truly understood how huge the commitment, I was making, really was.  I know my family and pastor would not have let me get baptized if they didn't believe I truly understood, but I genuinely don't remember what I knew at that age.

I do, however, know that from that moment on I looked at myself as a Christian.  I remember always making it a point to tell my friends about my beliefs.  I loved being "the Christian girl" in my group of friends.  It was something I took pride in.

And then, high school came.  Oh high school....the four years of my life I regret the most.

High School is when I truly lost myself.  I got in a very unhealthy relationship (which I was completely blind to at the time),  I pushed my parents, family, and friends away in every unthinkable way.  All I cared about then, was myself, and that relationship.  Anything that got in the way was simply unacceptable, and I did whatever possible to remove the hurdle.  I get knots in my stomach just thinking back at all of the horrible things I did and said, to so many people back then, that I truly loved and cared about.  If I could redo anytime in my life, it would be that time.

I am not proud of those years.  I ruined so many relationships, hurt so many people, lost track of all things good and Godly, and totally lost myself along the way.  I had fallen so off course with where I wanted my life to be, that it honestly, felt impossible to repair.

I still claimed to be a Christian during that time, and always made it a point to tell my friends.  I tried to justify my sinful actions, and make excuses to hide them.  I had gotten so far off course from what it meant to be a Christian, that it's a wonder my friends ever believed me when I said I was a Christian.

Luckily, we serve a great God.  One who NEVER gives up on his children, no matter how hard we try to push Him away, and no matter how many times we sin.

It wasn't until college that I finally stepped back and realized how far my life had gotten off course...

Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3.  This story was too big, and too long, for one post :)

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