Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Time for Everything

As I was reading the blog of an author that I have started to love, Shauna Niequist, I was basically hit by a large piece of wood on the side of the head!

Niequist wrote on her blog about how Dr. Henry Cloud, spoke at her church recently. Dr. Cloud just finished writing a book called Necessary Endings. I haven't read this book, nor has Niequist, but the statement on her blog that truly struck a chord with me was "What's present in your life today that's not in line with what you want for your tomorrow?"

Was there a relationship that I needed to end? Ummmmmmmmm....unfortunately I could scream YES!!! to this question. Thankfully this unhealthy "relationship" that I have basically been holding onto for a year has finally been thrown away (as healthy as it probably could have been).

So to continue on with this theme....the Forest Gump soundtrack has been fun to listen to in my car this week. I forgot I even had it in my disc changer! Anyway...the song that meant so much to me from this soundtrack was Turn! Turn! Turn! The song takes me back to elementary school music class where we listened to this song via a record player. I digress...the song is straight out of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3...and the most meaningful verse for me now is verse 6..."a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away".

I'm so ready for a new season! I'm excited about the future!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Make a Beautiful and Joyful Noise

Sounds and smells have always been a huge part of conjuring up certain special memories that I have of my life.

Today let's focus on the noises of my life...

My absolute favorite sound in the world is the shrill of two babies screaming "Aunt Ishy!!!" when I ring the doorbell to a house in Cedar Park, TX. I can watch through the side window to see these babies run to the front door to greet me. This shrill noise will always melt my heart, and it will probably kill me when I no longer hear this noise as I arrive at their house.

I got to hear two of my other favorite noises this weekend when my mom laughed loudly during the sermon at church and when my dad shouted his typical "Nice shot!" while sitting at the green of the first hole at the Colonial Golf Tournament.

Not to leave out the other two folks in my immediate family...I love to hear when Todd and Candace "Whoop!" during any Aggie event/TV broadcast that I get to watch with them.

I really wish that I had a recording of certain phrases that each of my grandparents said and recordings of each of their laughs. Although both of my grandmothers had Alzheimer's Disease at the end of their lives and didn't know my name or who I was, the few times I got to visit, I loved to tease them so that I could hear their laugh. They both seemed back to their normal selves when I heard their laugh.

Songs of course take me back to certain parts of my life. I probably have burned holes in certain CDs from listening to a particular song over and over and over and over might be my OCD!! I have recently looked at my iTunes song statistics, and I have listened to some songs like 80 times, and only other songs like 10 times. Those songs that I have listened to 80 times were probably listened to back to back to back for at least 15 times in a row at some point in my life.

There are too many to name here, but one song that particularly comes to mind when thinking about memories is Angel by Sarah McLachlan. That song will always take me back to when Bonfire collapsed during my sophomore year at A&M. I heard I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me this morning on the radio and it took me back to the car ride we had as we were going to my Grandma's viewing at the funeral home. I teared up as I thought of her dancing with Jesus or just sitting in awe as she entered Heaven.

Today I added some awesome new sound memories into my brain. Hari, the sweet mother of the Bhutanese family we volunteer with, read the story of Noah. I bought their kindergarten son a hardback children's book about Noah and the ark last year, and they usually bring that book out for us to read. Although my heart breaks that she doesn't know the God that brought the flood to kill all the wicked people but saved Noah, his family, and the animals, I had an opportunity to show her a glimpse of a Bible story. I continue to pray for this sweet family to come to know my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope that a future memory I have is hearing Hari pray to the Lord Jesus Christ because she has accepted Him as her personal savior.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dr. Awesome

I have been reading several books at one time, but I have truly been enjoying a biography written about a female missionary surgeon in India. This wonderful woman of God (she will be called Dr. Awesome on this blog in case someone would "Google" her name and it would link to my page) is so special to me because she actually goes to my church, and I have met her. She is working on starting a free health clinic at my church, and I pray that I get a chance to work with her and the people of Fort Worth. Dr. Awesome sat in front of my at church one Sunday and I went to reintroduce myself to her, and she remembered that I was a pharmacist. I felt extremely special!!

I have only read 3 chapters of the book, but Dr. Awesome gives me a lot of hope in doing great things even though I may be shy, introverted, and have a retiring personality. The author discusses how Dr. Awesome was more comfortable with adults than children and grew up a child in an adult world. I often felt the same way while growing up! Although I have come a long way from how shy I was while growing up, I find myself still struggling with being bold when I first meet people.

Dr. Awesome lived in India from 1974-2002. During 1991-1996 she was the only residential missionary in her part of India. She was able to treat patients very much like we treat them in the United States. Dr. Awesome discusses though about how she had to familiarize herself with the medications available in India and spent a whole day hanging out in the hospital pharmacy when she first arrived in India.

She talks about saving a man in 1976 who was biten by a cobra on the hand after trying to catch the cobra to sew its mouth shut. Dr. Awesome really had little confidence that the man would make it, but after 12 vials of anti-venom, the man was on the path to recovery. The book talks about how she prayed with every patient before each surgery and had such a gentleness with teaching the nurses at the Indian hospital....simply amazing!

When probably the most risky thing I did today was stick a Q-tip in my ear (yeah...I know better!), her story of constantly being at risk of getting her Indian medical license denied and revoked makes my life seem pretty boring. I continue to pray for India as I feel that my heart has been touched by two dear Indian friends that God has placed in my life. I also continue to pray that the Lord will provide a chance for me to minister to people here in the Fort Worth area and when He wants me to go to India, the path will me clear.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cardboard Testimony

What would be my cardboard testimony in the Kingdom of Heaven?

Wow...this You Tube video is from a local church in Amarillo that has a pretty amazing pastor and congregation. I have watched this video several times since I received an email about it 3 years ago and it always brings tears to my eyes.

I especially tear up with the cardboard testimonies that state:

Front: Diagnosed with MS May 2007
Back: Worth it

Front: Donna's Neurologist Unchurched
Back: Baptized Easter 2008

Front: Loss of son to suicide
Back: Found God's amazing grace!

Lately I have truly needed a change in heart. I really have been convicted about how I try to portray a perfect Christian on the outside but my heart is hardened and bitter on the inside. I'm not good at sharing my brokenness and being authentic very often, so here you have it.

What would be my cardboard testimony?

Front: People pleaser, Annoying Apologizer, "Self-righteous, Good Christian Girl" trying to earn salvation

Definitely not there yet, but hope for it to say:

Back: God pleaser, Apologies said in true humility, "On fire for God Girl"

Thank you dear Heavenly Father for your abundant love and grace!!

In my heart and my soul
Lord I give You control
Consume me from the inside out
Lord let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love you from the inside out

Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Not Settling For Less Than the Best

I recently had an epiphany when dealing with a broken Chi blow dryer. Look at the picture above: there is my newest shiny red Chi blow dryer that even came with a diffuser, my slightly less fabulous blue Chi blow dryer that I travel with, and finally my beat up Chi dryer that has been held together by mailing tape for the past year.

A few weekends ago, I was drying my hair with my ghetto fabulous taped Chi when all of a sudden I smelled a gross burning smell and then the Chi just died. I was slightly bummed, but excited to get the opportunity to open the new box with my red Chi that my parents had bought me two Christmases ago. Yes...for some reason I had guilt about opening the new Chi because I felt that I needed to wait for my ghetto one to die. miraculously took a full year and a half for it to bite the dust after I was forced to put mailing tape on it to keep it together.

It was a total eye opening experience to use that new red Chi!! It dried my hair faster and straighter, and I have been receiving many more compliments about my hair recently. I give all credit to the little red Chi!

This blow dryer scenario made me think about how much I had been missing out on during the year and a half of using my tattered, taped up Chi.

I began thinking about how there are other areas of my life that I have been settling for a mediocre, less than the best quality.

Let's begin with how often I settle for less than the best by watching TV instead of going to exercise. Is it healthier for me to watch Oprah and know how many sex partners Shirley MacLaine has had in her lifetime or get out and run on the Trinity Trail?!? (Don't judge too much for me watching that Oprah show...I'm a sucker for Shirley since she was Ouiser on my favorite movie Steel Magnolias...but Shirley in real life is not one of my people!) My jiggly arms that wave back at me would tell me to get my act together and MOVE IT!!

Or how I settle by often wasting so many hours each week on Facebook or surfing the internet instead of spending time in God's Word or in prayer. How stupid that I think it is more important reading what a girl that was mean to me in middle school had for dinner (I have seen this on Facebook!) instead of reading my Bible or in prayer!!!

Or how I settle by grabbing the first junk food that is available when I am starving. I get so frustrated at myself that I will scarf down Fritos that were left over after my small group because I am ravenous RIGHT NOW instead of making and eating a healthy, well-balanced meal. jiggly arms would tell me not to settle for less than the best.

Or how I'm guilty of having unhealthy rationalizations about certain dating situations. Do I continue to talk to the guy who is nice enough and stable but the zip just isn't there?! Or do I continue to dream of what could possibly be with the guy who I had such a spark with (someone call the fire department...just kidding!) but he was irresponsible with my emotions and doesn't really know if he should be dating?!

Now don't get me wrong...I don't deny myself the finer things and settle for less than the best in everything...just settling for less than the best in many areas of my life that are VERY important. Everyone knows that I don't skimp on appliances...I have a Kitchen Aid mixer and blender, Cuisinart coffee maker that grinds my beans, Dyson vacuum cleaner, Shark steam mop, Rowenta iron, and Chi hair blow dryer and flat iron. My car has more bells and whistles than I need. I must use Tide for my whites, Cheer for my colors, and Downy as my fabric softener. I routinely get pedicures. I have an iPhone. I have become addicted to Dior foundation and I really like their mascara (but only buy it every now and then!). Boy I sound high maintenance all of a sudden...

Ok...back on track. I am just beginning to realize how important it is to not miss out on God's absolute best for me in these areas of my life that I struggle with. My life is flying by...and time's wasting. Lord, please help me realize the blessings that come from your absolute best.

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Tea Party Birthday!!

My friends were so sweet to throw a birthday tea in my honor at the Ashton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth. We even had to valet our cars...high class!

The waiter was a little stuffy, but we drank some good tea and ate some amazing treats! My friends then gave me precious and amazingly delicious sugar cookies in the shape of cupcakes with my name on them!

It truly reminded me of some of the wonderful friendships that the Lord has blessed me with. I was ok turning a year older thanks to my thoughtful friends!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Deep Thoughts in March

So I will be another year older tomorrow...woohoo (can you sense my sarcasm?!?)! I really do kid though...the 30s have been good to me. I can say that a lot of things have happened during my 30th year of life including buying Polident for the first time, getting told by my hairdresser that my hair is changing colors, and getting a vacuum cleaner for my birthday and being excited about it!!

It seems like I do a lot of reflecting on my life during the month of March since it involves my birthday. For some reason there aren't many "reflective" songs written about the month of March...maybe because it doesn't rhyme with something very deep and thought provoking. I'm not feeling a song that uses the words: larch, parch, starch, or arch!!! The fall months get all the song due to their multiples syllable names and ability to rhyme with "remember"....just saying!

For example:

"September" by Daughtry

In the middle of September we'd still play out in the rain
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Reflecting now on how things could've been
It was worth it in the end

"Back to December" by Taylor Swift

So this is me swallowing my pride
Standing in front of you, saying I'm sorry for that night
And I go back to December all the time

It turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you
Wishing I'd realized what I had when you were mine
I go back to December, turn around and make it alright
I go back to December all the time

Alright...enough deep thoughts by Alisia (still 30 for the moment)!!! Here's to a wonderful 31st year of life!!! I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for me!

Here is a picture of my beautiful cake from last year that my sweet friends got me!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Where are my Training Wheels?!?

So I hope that all my readers watched this sweet video of my nephew, Brennan, and listened very closely. The first thing I want you to notice that my super brave and cute nephew said was "I just can't turn." He successfully keeps riding without training wheels and catches the eye of my super observant and cute niece who states, "Here comes bwother." Brennan then gives himself a pep talk by saying, "Steady....steady." Oh and please notice my brother (Brennan's daddy) closely following the brave little boy. I think that is all the background you need for my post!

After watching this video, I began to think about how there are some large overall themes occurring that are issues in my life.

1. The minute that I heard Brennan say "Steady...steady" on the video, I began to think about the analogy I have in my life where I like to verbally state that I have it all together, but I am an internal disaster. My pea sized brain often tricks me into thinking that if I verbalize that I have it all under control...then I WILL have it all under control. These are horrible lies that set me up to tip my "bike" over because God is the ONLY one in control of my life.

2. Family and friends are wonderful at cheering me on in my life (note Ella's encouraging words to Brennan in the video), but ultimately God is the one who matters. Ella couldn't have saved Brennan from falling off the bike. Only Brennan's daddy (playing God's role in this video) was right there for Brennan to lean on if he needed to fall. God ALWAYS knows the balance I am maintaining in my life.

3. I realized that I am a total "training wheels" kind of girl. Like most Christians, learning to trust in the Lord has ALWAYS been a challenge to me. Poor Brennan states first thing in the video, "I just can't turn." How often in my life am I uncomfortable for God to call me to a new place to turn and ride?!? I pray that the Lord will give me the courage to learn to walk in faith to new places He is calling me to, and that I can learn to ride to these places confidently without training wheels. I want to rid myself of often just giving up, putting my feet down, and refusing to ride any farther. I must trust the Lord to help me master a new skill or new location that He wants me to pursue.

4. Although thankfully Brennan did not fall down in this video, I am going to fall down in all areas of my life. I just pray that I am honorable when I tip over while riding the "bike" of my life. I know that I will fall down when I act in a manner unlike Christ. Whether these "falls" happen to be pride, harsh words, jealousy, apathy, failing to forgive, laziness, or other horrible sins that permeate my life, I pray that I can dust myself off and learn from the scrapes and bruises from these falls.

Matt Redman's song lyrics of "You Never Let Go" came to my mind with the training wheels that I sometimes put on areas of my life.

"And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life

I won't turn back

I know You are near

Oh no, You never let go

Through the calm and through the storm

Oh no, You never let go

In every high and every low

Oh no, You never let go

Lord, You never let go of me"

Philippians 1:16
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

OPERATION COTTON: Mission Accomplished!!!

So I really did it...I ran my first 5K on 10/21/10!! I had a wonderful time running in the Friends of the River race that started at Montgomery Plaza. I am sorry that I got a little busy and am just now posting about my fun adventure.

Here is the shirt from the run! Isn't it cute?! Some great cotton!!

For proof that I actually completed the 5K, you can view my run results at:
I am listed under "Ali Baker" which I have decided will be my running name...kinda like how actors and actresses sometimes change their names!

Group pic at the end of the race (I jacked it from the photographer's website!): Leland, Deva, Ali (aka me), Melanie, Mark, Julie

So I felt the need to write something like an Oscar speech about completing this run.

I definitely could not have accomplished this without the Lord. I never would have thought that I could go from couch potato to actually start running. Throughout the process I often was a weakling, whined, and would stop to walk. I have to be honest that sometimes I would stop and just focus on my pity party of how tired I was and how I could never accomplish anything that involved any shred of athletic ability. I was often reminded of the song, "You Are my All in All" when I was running and I was then motivated!

I need to thank my co-worker and friend, Deva, who got it in my head that I could actually complete a 5K...who knew?!? She is such a running speed demon now, and I am so proud of her!

I am also eternally grateful to my co-worker and friend, Mark, who encouraged me all along the way. If you had asked me a year ago today if I would ever run with Mark on a weekly basis ...I would have laughed hysterically at you! I was intimidated by his speed and ability to run long distances, but he was always patient and encouraging every step of the way. Mark is the only reason I kept pushing myself and didn't give up like I so often do. He ran at my snail pace and kept me going!

I would like to thank another co-worker and friend, Melanie, who went from couch to 5K in a day and blew me away on the day of the race by always being by my side. She kept encouraging me to kick it up a notch when we got to the end, and I wanted to throw up!

Oh, and I must not forget to thank Kung-Fu man who was always nice to look at on the Trinity River running trail. Also, I cannot forget to thank all of the ropes and sticks on the trail that always had me believing that they were snakes, so I ran a little faster!

I could not have completed the race without music, so I must give it up for my iPod.
Here is a list of what I listened to during the race:

  • All of Creation by Mercy Me (hey if it works for Josh Hamilton when he gets up to can work for me!)
  • Better is One Day by Kutless
  • Collide by Howie Day
  • Cowboy Take Me Away by the Dixie Chicks (aka Corps Boy Take Me Away when I was at A&M)
  • Don't Stop Believin' (no need to expand on this awesome song!)
  • Friday I'm In Love by The Cure
  • I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas (my nephew loves and know this song!)
  • Just Dance by I'm not is The Biggest Loser jazzed up edition
  • Let's Hear It For the Boy by I'm not sure...also The Biggest Loser edition
  • Party in the U.S.A by Miley Cyrus
  • Today Was a Fairytale by Taylor Swift
  • Time After Time...also The Biggest Loser edition
  • Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell (I ended with this mellow song probably because I didn't have enough energy to reach up to my iPod to change the song. I'm not sure how this got on my running list, but I downloaded this song after watching the opening ceremony at the Vancouver Winter I guess it has some athletic qualities!)
What a fun memory to say that I ran my first 5K during my 30th year of life! I definitely want to beat my slow time this year, and I may (Lord willing) try to go for a 10K. I have been a slacker over the last month, so I need to hit it hard!

I feel so much better about myself, and FYI I did indeed reward myself with something from the Coach store!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Quit Complaining!!

During my quiet time today, I got slammed with the following questions in the book Called and Accountable: "Would you (or someone close to you) be able to describe your life as a life that abides in love? Have recent actions and attitudes toward those you relate to daily (your family, your neighbors, your co-workers, and your church family) been expressed in love?"

I began to think about how jaded, flippant, and harsh my attitude has recently become. It seems that I have turned into a person who takes anything and makes it into a sarcastic joke.

Right before New Year's Eve, I was talking to several of my co-workers about their resolutions for 2011. I was being silly as usual, and I just shot off the statement that I was "not going to be rude to another nurse again on the phone." Everyone kind of laughed at me because pharmacists are notorious for being rude to nurses, and a co-worker started to encourage me to read a secular book called "A Complaint Free World." She even brought me a bracelet that is to be used to remind me to quit complaining. Now I am not going to read this book and I may try my best to wear the bracelet at work, but it got me thinking that I am missing out on so many opportunities to enable God's love to be expressed in my relationships because I am too busy griping or being sarcastic.

I must admit that I initially was a little perturbed that she handed me a "Complaint Free" bracelet. I know that I do my fair share of whining at work, but I could name many other folks who beat me on the "complaint ladder"....oops...there I go whining again!

My pastor told the following story today that convicted me about this recent conversation in my life and my serious need to quit my yammering. John Hyde was as missionary who left for India in the 1800s. When he was on the ship headed to India, Hyde opened a letter from a friend who wrote that he would pray until John was filled with the Holy Spirit. He crumpled up the letter because he was so angry that his friend would dare say he lacked the Holy Spirit. He had yielded his heart to the Lord and agreed to go clear across the world for his life's work. But when he settled down, he realized that his friend was right and prayed for the power of the Holy Spirit.

I know that I will continue to stumble with my complaining while I am here on this earth, but I pray that the Lord continues to convict me and teach me that by getting rid of the grumbling, I will fulfill the call and plans that God has placed on my life.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It's Cookie Time!!

I just returned from Tom Thumb where the Girl Scouts have taken's cookie time!! I saw a cute little Girl Scout who was rolling her eyes at her mother because she was being pressured to be a good salesperson, and you could tell her heart wasn't in it!

I quickly identified with this cute little girl and wanted to tell her my heartwarming Girl Scout story where I looked at my mom, threw down all of my Girl Scout calendars in my neighbor's yard when no one would buy one, and kept on walking. My mom was SO proud!! I thought her mom might frown at me though for my story...her mom looked like one of those people who could sell ice to an Eskimo!

It just got me thinking about how some of us just aren't salespeople! I definitely would fail selling ice water to people in the desert! Thankfully selling Girl Scout cookies was kind of like selling ice water to people in the desert, but the Girl Scout calendars were always unfortunate! No one wants to look at little girls in beanies for an entire month...that is unless you are related to one! point really to my post...just buy some cookies to help certain poor little Girl Scouts who stink at selling things!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Woohoo for 2011 !!!!

It blows my mind that 2011 is upon us! I have been a very bad blogger lately, so I thought I would start off with some housekeeping thoughts for my blog!

I am not calling these resolutions but more like a list of what I would like to accomplish or continue to accomplish in 2011!

  • Have a consistent quiet time with the Lord (I had an epiphany over the Christmas break about a theory I have about my walk with the Lord and Brennan and Ella's stretched out for a later blog post on this!)
  • Run another 5K and beat my time
  • Run a 10K (most likely late in 2011!!)
  • Continue with my weight loss (when hasn't this been on my New Year's resolution list or accomplishments?!?) Maybe I should quantify a number and say be 20 lbs lighter by 12/31/11
  • Blog more often. 2010 was a bad blog year for me. I apologize to all friends and family who got cheated out of a birthday post. I just got overwhelmed and those folks who had a birthday from January-July got the short end of the stick!
  • Become more adventurous. It wouldn't take much adventure for me to be more adventurous! I want to rid myself of the comments I have received previously in my life such as "I picture you driving a mini-van" or "I don't really see you doing much on New Year's Eve".
  • Cook more. Make at least two meals a week...I am aiming low!
That's it for now! I hope that everyone is having a great start to 2011!!