here i am; send me

if you’re involved in the ministry at all – specifically foreign missions – you know that some days can be harder than others. some days the weight can be a little too heavy. some days the heartache can sting a little too much. for me, today was…you know…one of those days.

today we were able to go to pachimulin and visit silvia. oh silvia – our sweet little miracle child. a few weeks ago death came knocking on her door. she couldn’t even muster the strength to smile or lift up her arms. nobody knew if she was going to make it.

today, silvia sat outside her little house in the village, in a chair in the sun. smiling. and we were thankful and joyful and overwhelmed with gratitude for her life – of course we were. however, the sickness and heartbreak did not end there. sadly, for many of these families, a situation like silvia’s is just the beginning.

before we arrived at her house, we were introduced to cesar. “you can tell he works by his hands”, my mom commented. cesar is 10 years old and does not go to school. instead, he works to provide for his family. his dad was tragically lost in a hurricane. never having been to school, cesar speaks no spanish – only his native tongue of kaqchikel. he sat in a desk, curiously looking up at us, as we discussed how we were going to make a way for him to be able to attend school and study like other kids his age.

and then, we came to silvia. like i mentioned, she looked so much better, considering just days ago she was at the point of death. seeing her smile was the most beautiful sight in the world. her mom came outside, holding her one month old baby – “three more are sick inside. they’ve been out of school for weeks.” we tentatively walked inside only to find three more sweet little angels laying on a bed – fevered. tired. coughing. dirty from head to toe. it was a sour sight to swallow. i stepped outside and sat down on the dirt next to silvia. i took a breath and struggled to hold in tears. you cannot cry in front of her. you have to be strong for her.

what would happen then? well, i’ll tell you exactly what happened. i got in the car with my family and drove home. i took a shower and laid in my nice bed in my nice house in the city. i sat down and had a full dinner and left the table with a full stomach.

all the while, cesar is still out of school, silvia is still recovering from sickness, and three littles are still sick in bed on dirt floors. those are few stories amongst many.

there’s not a lot to say about it, really. i could beg you to come visit. i could plead with you to sponsor a child. however, i’ve come to find that unless you truly encounter Jesus on your own, my words are empty. nothing but another post on facebook that you’ll scroll by without a second thought; or, if i’m lucky, you’ll share.

but what i will tell you is this – my God is the God of the sewer, not the shiny stainless steel kitchen (thanks for those words, natalie). and while we can try all we want to fit Him into our comforting box of trendy, easy, comfort-zone Christianity, He will still be the God of the sewer. He will still be Jesus, friend of sinners. Jesus, caretaker of widows. Jesus, lover of orphans and prostitutes and sick children that our clouded minds too often forget about.

we are supposed to be like Him. we are supposed to mirror Him. we are supposed to reflect His life. what are you doing today to be like Jesus? what are you surrendering today to love on His Kingdom?

don’t waste your life. please. the ears of those who have never heard His sweet name need you – and by the way, that’s about 3.11 billion people.

so…what are we going to do about it?

 

 

 

isaiah 6:8 also i heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

then said i, here am i; send me.

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this is me

i am not a stranger to the dark. “hide away,” they say, “cause we don’t want your broken parts”. i’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars – “run away,” they say, “no one will love you as you are.” 

these lyrics hit me at a really huge time in my life…which is right now. without going into too much detail, i’ve been going through a weird kind of identity crisis. for the entirety of my life – or at least for as long as i can remember – i have never been ashamed of who i am. i have always prided myself in being a little different. a little outside of the box.

for some reason i gradually decided that who i am was too much for people to handle. i was a little embarrassed by my strong personality and was afraid that it came off as too forceful. i put away the parts of me that seemed a little too commanding, and the parts that spoke up a little too loudly, and the parts that shone a little too brightly. i’m sure no guy would ever want a girl like that, i thought to myself. it seemed like a pretty rational thing to do. without realizing it, i was hiding the parts of myself that i loved and treasured the most. the parts that made me, me.

things happened. people changed. i changed. and at the end of the day, when i was alone at night in bed, the allison that i knew and loved wasn’t there anymore. i remember one night specifically when tears dripped onto my pillow and i prayed “God, i can’t remember who i am anymore”. and in the stillness, in the silence, memories flooded my brain. memories of a girl who was never ashamed of who she was and who wasn’t afraid to be herself – authentically and unapologetically. i recalled 1 peter 2:9, which i had just read in my devotion that morning:

“but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”

and then i remembered who i was – who i am.

i am a strong woman who has no time or space to be silent. i am a strong woman who is not afraid to boldly approach her calling in Christ and who is not afraid to boldly proclaim the praises of the One who called her into marvelous light. i am a strong woman who will protect the widow and the orphan with every breath she has. i am a strong woman who will refuse to let the world silence her.

i read this quote today that i absolutely loved: “and one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong, and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.”

i don’t know who’s reading this, or if anyone will. but if you do, i hope you are reminded that you do not have to be ashamed of who you are. i hope you can understand that you do not have time to let this grey world try to drain the color out of you. i hope you can go out and shine so much that even the brightest of suns has to shield its eyes.

oh & by the way, the right person will come along and they will absolutely adore all of the fire inside of you. and if they don’t, they are missing out on the best parts of you. don’t let that stop you. keep on marching forward and shine on.

be you. bravely.

when the sharpest words wanna cut me down, i’m gonna send a flood, i’m gonna drown them out. i am brave, i am bruised, i am who i’m meant to be – this is me. look out cause here i come, and i’m marching on to the beat i drum. i’m not scared to be seen, i make no apologies – T H I S  I S  M E.

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a life of love

tonight was like most nights. sitting here with my computer, pinteresting, watching videos – you know how it is. but something changed when my phone made it’s all-too-familiar ping noise.

i got a message from a girl in guatemala. we, as a family, are lucky enough to give a lot because we have received a lot. this month, mom and dad were able to fly down to guatemala and give out some gifts to people who, before us, had never received anything on Christmas. we were able to give this particular family cell phones so that we can keep in contact with them while we’re away. i can’t explain how thankful i am for that on nights like tonight, when my phone goes off and i pick it up to find messages like this one:

“sister, can you send me a photo of yourself? my brother and i were thinking of you tonight. we miss you.”

that message made me think. this is pretty much the norm for me; it’s been the norm my whole life. being a part of a family that expands across nations, cultures, and tongues.

it made me think about being an eight-year-old girl in costa rica, wandering around the city dump with other little eight-year-old girls. our only difference was i was from america, and they were nicaraguan refugees. it was the day when i crossed an old swinging bridge over a rushing river. when my knees shook but the little girl in front of me held my hand, and we were okay.

it made me think about the first day of eighth grade. i was not just the only american girl in my class, but in my whole school. i didn’t speak spanish very well, and all the kids in my class brought in a project one day except for me. i didn’t understand what the teacher said. he gave me a zero. i cried myself to sleep that night and begged mom to take me out of school.

it made me think about showing up to a neighborhood party to watch the usa play mexico in soccer. when all of my friends expected me to have on a usa jersey, but no – i wore my mexico jersey. i thought they were about to cry when they looked at me. it was the first time i felt like one of them. the first time i felt like maybe, somewhere in the world, i belonged.

it made me think about singing carlitos to sleep as i held him during his seizures. about meeting yesinia for the first time. about making tortillas with josefina. about playing soccer on an island with kids in southeast asia. about praying over countless sick people, about staying the night with witch doctors in unreached villages, about chasing little bare feet down dirt roads. i never knew where those dirt roads led. it never mattered.

and now, here i am. a college student. stressing over student loans, and homework, and friendship drama. but at the end of the day, i am lucky enough to sit down and remember all of the people Jesus has given me to love. all of the broken hearts i have held in my hands, all of the hopeless prayers i have cried out, all of the hungry souls i have watched the Savior feed.

i will never cease to live a life of love. it is the end and beginning and middle of all things.  i will forever love because He loved me. and since He loves His people, so will i. until my dying breath. does anything matter more than that? i cannot think of a single thing.

this holiday season, i pray that we can remember what matters most – to love. even when loving hurts. even when we get nothing in return. even when we are tired. even when it is difficult.

thanks for reminding me of that tonight, sweet little one. and baby girl, of course i will send you a picture of me.

/ we love because He first loved / 1 john 4:19 /

 

instagram vs. reality

the other day, i uploaded a picture of myself on instagram. it got plenty of likes. several people commented “you are so pretty!”. yeah. all the things. honestly, i felt pretty good about myself. it feels good to be told that you’re pretty. i’m ashamed to say that sometimes my validation comes from my instagram and snapchat way more often than it does my Maker. i completely eat it up when i get lots of likes or comments on my posts.

social media can be insanely hurtful to our self-esteem. how many times have you opened instagram on your phone and immediately been hurt because of a super pretty girl that you see? the negative thoughts often come in before we can stop them. she is way prettier than me. how does she get her hair to look like that? geez, i need to lose weight, look how skinny that girl is! i wish i looked like her.

um…guilty as charged. the comparison game is no fun, yet it’s one of the easiest to get caught up in. social media is really good at making us jealous of each other’s “perfect” lives. it’s also really good at allowing us to hide behind a screen and make our lives into something they’re not. because who knows, maybe if we act like we have it all together online, people will think that of us in real life.

comparison is a never-ending web of hurt that no one escapes from unscathed. it will eat you up and tear you apart time and time again. it will leave you feeling bitter, worthless, and alone. and where do most of these feelings come from? oh, yeah. from seeing that super pretty girl’s selfie. from seeing that cute relationship post.

instead of getting lost in a game that i cannot win, i have been repeating 1 peter 3:3-4 over and over in my head. i memorized it for those times when i’m feeling not-so-pretty because of a picture that i see online.

Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. (hcsb)

my focus should be on what is inside the heart. my focus should be on loving others – on having a gentle and quiet spirit. because that – not how i look, or how that other girl looks – is very valuable in God’s eyes. let me say that again: your heart, not your looks, is very valuable in God’s eyes.

so in honor of this, i want to show you guys something. here is that picture i posted on instagram…and also a picture of me with all of my makeup off. the real me. how I normally look. the me who hasn’t done her hair or put on her makeup or filtered her picture. the cool thing is that God doesn’t care which one of these I look like. He cares about my heart. He cares about the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit. He values that.

i pray that this encourages you to not play the comparison game. forget that post. forget that “perfect” picture.  i promise that you are beautiful – not because of what’s on the outside, but because of what’s on the inside. you are beautiful because you are kind, gentle, and caring. you are beautiful because of your heart.

oh, and the outside is pretty awesome, too.

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little wonders

today i sat down in math class – my final class of the day – with a big sigh. because it had been a busy day, a long day, a stressful day, and to be honest, i just wasn’t in the mood to think about algebra. i wasn’t in the mood to strain my eyes looking at the whiteboard and attempting to understand the gigantic mental puzzle that is math.

the girl in front of me turned around and smiled. she made a joke. soon the whole class had me so bent over in laughter that I could barely catch my breath. you know – that kind of laugh where your cheeks hurt from smiling and your stomach hurts from giggling so much. the best kind of pain.

and i slowly began to loosen up. the jokes were hilarious. the company was precious. and i started to think hey, this day isn’t so bad after all!

today was a long day. isn’t it always? but it was a happy day. it was a happy day because, as always, God worked everything in out in His perfect timing. and finally my small, finite mind realized oh! God’s plan is way better and way bigger and wayyyy more perfect than mine. He is  c o n s t a n t l y  placing little situations and little laughs and little things in my path that are just when i need. just when i need them.

i want to bask in those moments forever. those little wonders that God gives me throughout the day, even on the worst of them. i always have a reason to smile and be joyful because He gives me an infinite amount of reasons to do so.

find the little moments. love them – they’re the best in the world. and know that He really, truly, relentlessly cares for you.

oh…and He loves to see you smile.

this one’s for the girls

me again. it’s 11:21pm and my mind is wide awake. late nights are my prime time for thinking. last night i closed my eyes at 10:45, thinking i would actually fall asleep. ha! my heart was beating out of my chest and my head was pounding – that’s how fast my mind was racing. eventually i just sat up and began to research on my computer, because i knew it’d be a while before i went to sleep. tonight is very similar, so i’ve decided to make use of my time and write a blog that i’ve been thinking about for a while.

the start of this semester – as usual – was a struggle. sigh. things just never seem to go how i plan them or how i want them to (thankfully). i felt overwhelmed with everything that was suddenly crashing down on me in such a short amount of time. it seemed like i was doing everything i could to keep my head above the water, yet the waves kept on coming. and coming. and coming. and lemme tell ya, little 5 foot tall allison was struggling to stay afloat.

one of these “waves” came in the form of words. ah, yes…sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, right? wrong. so wrong. who in the world even came up with that in the first place?! that’s the biggest lie ever for me, because i seriously care about what people say. and i take it to heart – sometimes too much. i started noticing a pattern in what some guys were saying. some of it went like this:

“the best girls are the kinds of girls that…” or “guys really don’t like girls who…” or “girls who are real wife material do this…” and so on and so forth.

hearing those things brought me to tears. seriously. real tears. why? because NONE of the above phrases included me. i was the opposite of what supposedly “every guy” wants in a girl. i didn’t make the wife material list. i started becoming slightly obsessed with it. i was borderline paranoid. i so desperately wanted to be the girl everyone else wanted me to be. the girl that “all guys want”. the girl that everyone loves.

but that’s not me. it never has been and it never will be. it took me a hot minute (and by that i mean a few weeks) to stop and realize, HOLD UP. why am i trying to be someone i’m not for the sake of other people? galatians 1:10 says for am i now trying to win the favor of people, or God? or am i striving to please people? if i were still trying to please people, i would not be a slave of Christ.

i’m not here to please people or to get anyone’s approval. i’m here to be the ME that God created me to be. i’m here to shine His light and to live like Him.

that “me” is a forest fire. that me loves to wear converse high tops and prides herself in being different. i’m small but i have a whole lot of energy. i’m not afraid to stand up for what i believe in. i’m not afraid to speak up when i see injustice. i am strong. i am brave. i am an original.

and someday, someone is going to look at me and love me for the crazy, flawed, extroverted human being that i am. someone is going to see endless beauty in the way that my big personality radiates through my small build. but until that day comes, i don’t need to try to be like anyone else. i don’t even need to think about being “wife material” (that shouldn’t even be a thing). because the girl that God created me to be is perfect in His eyes. and if i stay in the sweet hands of my Father and set my sights on Him, the right man will come and love the person that i am unconditionally.

this is my new favorite shirt. it says, “actually i can”. you don’t have to be like everyone tells you that you need to be. you CAN. you CAN be authentically you; the girl that Your Maker created you to be. you CAN love yourself. you CAN be strong. you CAN be brave. you can be you. don’t worry about other people loving who you are…learn to love yourself first. i’m right there with you.

“i will not be another flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. i will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget.” -erin van vuren

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An Open Letter to the Tired Heart

i can’t do this anymore is a thought that creeps into my mind so often.

i can’t take this class anymore. i can’t even be in college anymore. i can’t get out of bed this morning. this project is too big. i’m too tired of failing. i can’t pay these bills. this mountain is too tall. this burden is too heavy. i can’t. i can’t anymore.

and i kept thinking how can i get over this? how can i get this lie out of my head? i asked and wondered over and over, yet an answer never seemed to come. but for some reason as i prayed on my walk to class today, it hit me. i’d like to think Jesus was walking with me, and this was His reply:

“because today might be your day”. this thought turned my day – maybe even my life – around completely. today might be my day.

maybe today is the day i finally understand that hard math problem. maybe today is the day God provides the money i’ve been praying for. maybe today is the day i round the corner and run into one of my future bridesmaids that i haven’t even met yet. maybe today i can get through the whole day without shedding a tear over a past wound.

and that thought comforted me like no other. today might be it. so i can and will rise every day thinking “today might be the day my life changes. today might be the day this seemingly impossible situation turns around”.

and these answers to prayer come so often – even if they’re small ones. on my first day of school last week, it was “my day” because an answer to prayer finally came in a girl sitting next to me in new testament class. i’m always nervous about first days. the thought of sitting in a big room full of strangers horrifies me. on that particular day, i sat down and kept my head down for the first few minutes of class. i heard my professor ask the girl beside me where she’s from. “mexico?” he inquired. i could feel her smile. “no,” she replied, “guatemala”. my head shot up immediately. i looked at her and in spanish said, “my parents are in guatemala right now too, with my little brother! i lived there!” i was nearly tearing up. and her eyes looked as if i was the person she’d been waiting to meet all day. i was exactly what she needed, and she was exactly what i needed. and we didn’t even know it. how could i have ever known that in that moment, an answer to prayer was sitting right beside me?

my day of freedom is on the horizon. it always is. the sun will rise on a new day. i can dance and sing and laugh with joy because even on the days when i feel like i can’t do it anymore, God is still working. God is always working. He’s up to something big. and today might be the day i finally see it. because when i’m at my worst, God is consistently at His best. His plans are consistently beyond my realm of understanding.

maybe this is you, too. maybe every day seems harder than the last. maybe you feel like you just can’t do it anymore. but take heart – the best is yet to come. take heart – you are on your way to see Jesus and you’re closer every day. take heart – your Maker goes before you and the battle is already won. take heart – today might be your day.

but if today isn’t the day your prayer is answered, then maybe it will be tomorrow. and if not tomorrow, then the next day or the day after that. i promise that He’s up to something. something so special and just for you. it’s something big. and it’s coming your way.

xoxo alli tay

galatians 6:9  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (kjv).

 

to the ends of the earth

i’m currently sitting on the floor of my room, surrounded by half-packed suitcases and backpacks. because tomorrow, i fly to orlando, and friday, i fly to indonesia.

yes, you read it right! indonesiai’ll be amongst the islands on the southeastern peninsula – i’d love to be more specific, but for safety purposes i have/need to keep it to that general area. i’d also appreciate if you read this post but didn’t share it unless you’re immediate family. we are trying to be as safe as possible!

in december, one of my dearest friends and joyful sound team leader passed me in the student center. she said, “by the way, i’m taking a trip to southeast asia this summer. you need to come. i’ll text you the info!” i didn’t think anything of it. i never even dreamed that it would become a reality. i was knee-deep in planning a trip to africa, a country that i really thought God wanted me to go to.

however, the africa trip slowly started falling apart. i didn’t know the organization that the trip was being organized by and i couldn’t get all of the details in the time i needed them. i was getting very discouraged because, oh my word, i’ve been dreaming of this trip for years. then i remembered bethany telling me about the trip to southeast asia. i texted her and ended up e-mailing the leader of the trip. long story short…here i am! less than 2 days away from the trip of a lifetime. i feel like i still have so much to get done! a lot of people have asked what they can pray for, so here are some quick prayer requests that i can think of off the top of my head:

  1. safety! we are traveling a long, long way to a people that aren’t generally open to the gospel.
  2. health! we will mostly be eating the food from the villages. also, traveling for that long and being in a climate we’re not accustomed to has the possibility of being hard on our stomachs.
  3. our hearts! we need to be ready to show our utmost love and compassion to these people. we also need to be able to find people of peace whose hearts are ready to hear the gospel.

i’m sure there are plenty more requests, but those are the big ones that i can think of right now. i am extremely nervous but also extremely excited to be going on this amazing trip. i know it’s surely of God that this opportunity became available to me! i want to thank all of you that have helped me get here. i could not have done it without your emotional, financial, and spiritual support. it has been incredible for me to see so  many different people come together to help make this trip possible. you are all so special to me, and i love and thank you more than my words can express.

this will be my last blog post until i come back. i will be back in country on august 1st, and return home to ohio on august 3rd. i can’t wait to see the GREAT things that our GREAT God is going to do through this trip. over and out!

-alli tay

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bethany and i!

Abba, Father – i belong to You

hi guys! this is alli tay here, writing my very first blog post. what? weird, for sure.

i have many thoughts about many things – life, Jesus, love, theatre, friendships – that i figured are way too long to do through facebook posts. so i decided to start a blog (yay!) and put all of my thoughts here. even if nobody reads this, it’ll be great for me to have a little space to express myself and pour out whatever’s going on in my head and heart. so, here it goes!

i’ve been doing this pray, read, memorize method for my daily devotions – by the way, if you don’t have a devotional plan, FIND ONE! it’s so important to stay in the Word every day. i promise that it has so much good news for you! if you need any suggestions of how to go about reading your Bible, please let me know and i’d be happy to help.

anyway, my passage to memorize for the week is romans 8:15-17. it says this: for you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out “Abba, Father!”. the Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children. and if children, also heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ – seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

for me, it’s so easy to fall back into a spirit of slavery and fear. it’s so easy for me to let satan whisper little lies in my ear, and let myself believe them. the lies that i’m not good enough, or pretty enough. that following Jesus isn’t worth it. that it’s just. too. hard. and that i have everything to be scared of.

but that wasn’t the spirit i received. the Bible tells me that i didn’t just receive a spirit, i received the Spirit. i received the spirit of adoption. so what does that mean?! that means i received a forever Father and a holy family. so i can get on my knees and joyfully cry out “Abba Father, i belong to You!” and embrace my identity as His daughter. because only i, a child of the King, an heir of God and co-heir with Christ, have the ability to call Him dad. i can call the One who holds the heavens up my Abba Father. my dad. forever.

so i don’t have to buy into the lies of the world that i have to fit a certain mold or standard or anything else, because that is NOT who i am. no – i am a co-heir with Christ. i am eternally adopted into His family and an infinite citizen of His kingdom. i can have peace knowing that there is an incomparable weight of glory waiting for me at the end of this road. i can have peace knowing that the only real truth is the Truth found in His Word: and the things in His Word are so good! it’s rich with promises of faithful love and grace that multiplies even more than my sin. it’s full of joy and peace and compassion.

and that, guys? that’s good news. don’t forget who you are today – and most importantly, don’t forget who you belong to.

-alli tay