Changes…

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I’m finding it difficult to put into words exactly what I’m feeling. I’ve sat on this all day and I’ve even tried to write my heart out earlier and to no avail. I got halfway through the piece and realized it was not what I wanted to say. Sometimes I have to just stop myself and ask myself, “What are you trying to say? …Just say it.” Which seems silly. You’d think I’d just write whatever it is I’m trying to say at the moment, but it’s harder than that.

So I went to bed last night around 9pm and here I am up at 3am. Two Starbucks refrigerator frappuccino’s later, here I am sitting under the glow of my computer trying to craft again. This time I’m going to let it all out and say exactly what’s on my heart.

Have you ever felt completely mixed up? I’m talking about your entire life getting thrown upside down and shaken for all it’s got? What about lost in translation? Stick stuck? Disoriented? Sadly, these are all very real words to describe how I’m feeling and what I’m going through lately. I must admit I’m generally one of the strongest people I know. I don’t say that to boast whatsoever, but with everything I’ve endured I’m generally very resilient and capable. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and perhaps my worst quality is that I let my emotions get the best of me, but I’m still usually very durable & strong. However, sometimes in life you get thrown a curve ball and you don’t really know what to make of it or how to take it. I wish I could tell you everything that’s going on but I must spare some of the details for the sake of respecting those involved; besides this isn’t a diary. I think Adelle said it best when she talked about turning tables. It just feels like everything in my life is shifting and being shaken up. Six months ago, my life looked very different from what it looks like now. I never imagined my heart getting so wrenched by so many different things. It’s that feeling of being out of control of all of the change going on in my life that makes it so difficult. I’m one of those people that takes comfort in having a handle on things, and when I can no longer have my hand on a matter it makes things uneasy for me. For those of you who have followed my posts, I’ve talked a lot about trusting God and waiting for the next steps. Well it’s hard to do that when you start seeing shifts in everything around you. Everything, and I mean everything, in my life is undergoing huge maintenance and construction. I feel like I’m walking on shaky ground and that’s not a feeling any of us like. I feel like all the pieces of my life are moving in different directions simultaneously and I’m watching parts of my heart break away from my chest and walk away from me and this is the hardest thing to sit back and take in. Some of the nearest and dearest things in my life are transitioning out, and knowing this is about to occur is almost heart breaking. We can never be fully prepared for all of life’s changes an adjustments. Some of them we take better than others, and other times we just have to take them in stride, watching while our heart breaks and we are left in confusion and uncertainty. And some things just rip your heart right out of your chest. For me, those things are just reminders of things that never belonged in my life anyway. Let it burn. Let it remind me of how much better I deserve. Let it sting. I can take the pain. I’m stronger than that. But yet I’m still human, and I hurt. It’s hard to watch it unfold before my eyes, especially when you can sense it happening or beginning to happen. Can you tell I’m a grab bag of emotions? Well I am and that’s okay. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, and as if I’m not already strong enough. It’s these moments in life you have to maintain your sense of humor. You can’t reflect too deeply on the past, because it has already came and went. It will never be again. You have to keep your eyes steadily on the future and remain hopeful. Sometimes it’s hard in spite of difficult circumstances, I understand that. But what else can you do? Do you wallow in pity over things you can not control, only further contributing to your misery? No! You think about the great and glorious things that are yet to come. For me, he’s my knight in shining armor, you know the man on the white horse who will come and sweep me off my feet and adore me to pieces. It’s his smile and perfect teeth. It’s his height and bright eyes and huge tender heart. It’s the eyes of my future children. It’s the masses I will look out unto as I speak and preach. It’s the books that I will see lined on shelves with the NYTimes Best selling title attached to them. It’s my future home in the country with hardwood floors and beautiful trim. It’s getting on a plane and traveling to exciting new destinations. The best is yet to come, my friends. It’s important for you to not only dream of your future but to set your dreams to plans, setting goals to get you to these land marks. For me, I’m writing goals down and dreaming. I was talking to a friend who writes these boards (you know who you are 😉 ) And he writes down his visions and looks at them every day. He said he’s made almost every single one of his goals/visions but a few. Think of the power in that. Write the vision down, so that those may see it, may run with it. I want to run with visions and live a purposeful life. So things are changing. So things look bleak. So I feel stuck. I might feel stuck, but I’m not stuck. I’m still moving. This very post shows I’m still moving. I may be down, but I’m not out. These shiftings and shakings are only a sign of things that are to come. They are only a symptom of movement and change that will make a way for bigger, better and brighter things to come. So I am going to set my eyes on things unseen, until those things are seen. Tomorrow is one step closer to my destiny than I was the day before and for that I will take hope in. Let’s hang on for just a little while and see our dreams turn into realities. Never stop dreaming. Never give up hope. Tomorrow will be bigger, better & brighter.

 

For now,

xoxo Alicia Barkley

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Walk The Line

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Psalm 119:1-5 You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right–you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; 

There are so many choices in life and time is an ever faithful reminder–it is always ticking. Life is like a quick moving train, rolling on and stopping for no one and under no circumstance. There are so many things I want to do, yet I don’t know how to make them happen for myself. I want to be an author, speaker, world traveler. I’d love to learn the craft of make-up & hair, become a stylist, and become a certified life coach. I want to finish my 4 year degree. I’d love to find the love of my life and raise an amazing family. I’d love to author several books and make the New York Times Best Sellers list. Where do I begin? Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly setting out on rabbit trails that all lead me back to the same path to where I am now, living the same life I lead right now. I’m still single. Still broke. Still in debt. Still without my degree. Still left figuring out where I am headed. Still trying to figure out what I want out of life. Still deciding what I want to be when I grow up. I know I should guard my confession and break old, ill-fitting mindsets–but for the sake of being honest and transparent I am telling the TRUTH. So many questions left exposed and unanswered. Here I am, yet again, writing about the unknown future. It’s a road block I keep bumping into. As I hit it I feel myself slump down in defeat. I sit with my back against the fence of the unknown future, unsure of what my next steps are.

Then I am reminded that there is a plan. There’s a P-L-A-N for my life and as long as I link up with and follow God, I won’t miss it. I just want to get there now. I want to start living that fascinating, amazing future now. I don’t want to sit with my back against the post wondering and wishing for all of eternity. Yet, the Word says to walk the line, to walk steadily the road revealed by God. Steadily is a pace that is slow and steady, yet sure. Surely I will arrive to the destination, but I am commanded to enjoy the road to the destination. Walk it out, Alicia, walk it out. So what do I do with the now? If I forever am longing for the future, I am missing out on the here and now. My life is quiet right now. I have few things that consume my time and attention. Shouldn’t I be enjoying this restful season while it is here? There will come a day where my life becomes far more busy and complicated and I am willing to bet I will miss these days–the days of resting in the pasture of wide open spaces of grace. One foot before the other, one step, two step, three step moving forward. My scenery may not be changing quickly enough for my liking, but it’s the path I’m on right now. So for right now, I’m walking on and keeping my head held high with dreams tucked in my heart. Big dreams, dreams I could never accomplish on my own. That’s how God meant for it to be. If we had all of our dreams come true the minute we believed them, there would be no need for God’s direction or help in our lives. We were meant to seek Him out and watch as our Father puts together the pieces of our lives as we walk along. Just as a woman is pregnant for nine months before giving birth to her child, so are we pregnant with dreams that must fully develop and mature before they come to pass. What are you pregnant with? What dreams do you carry in your heart? I’ve heard it said if you could accomplish them on your own, they are not dreams. Dreams are meant to be God-sized. They are meant to push you to just beyond your limits, which is where God steps in and helps you launch further out into the deep. Dream those dreams, the kind that are so big they scare you. You were meant for GREAT things. Don’t play it safe, don’t dream safe dreams. You were meant to live an extraordinary life, not a life of mediocrity. What’s the thrill in that? Make a list of things you dream to do and lay them before your Heavenly Father. It says in the Word that 

Romans 8:32 If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don’t you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him?

 

We serve a giving and gracious God who longs to give us more than what we could ever hope or imagine. Think on this thought: The future He has prepared for you is BEYOND your wildest dreams, your greatest expectations, and far beyond your imagination. WOW, think about that for a second. Think of something that would blow your mind. Can you imagine that God would like to come along and lead you to a life adventure, a fulfilled dream that TRUMPS every expectation or idea you could ever imagine? That’s the God we serve! So when you hit the roadblock of your unknown future, you don’t need to slump down in defeat and sit against the post of hope that’s been deferred. Your heart need not be sick. Dream with God. Write down your dreams. Write down your expectations. Allow God to take that list and demolish it with goodness and excellencies that far exceed your wildest dreams. The heart maker can take those desires in your heart of hearts and blow them up bigger than you could ever fathom. What is it you need? You’re Liberating King can meet every one of your needs. Nothing is impossible for God. Nothing is too far, too deep, too wide, beyond His reach. Lay it before Him and give Him rule and reign in that area. Watch what He will do with the pieces of your life.

Psalm 18:24

The Message (MSG)

20-24 God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
    he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;
    I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
    I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
    and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
    when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

 

Wait, watch, and SEE what God will do.

xoxo Alicia Barkley

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If you’re anything like me, you are completely human. I don’t know about you, but I can be anxious about the future. I’m sitting here spinning my wheels, yet again, in anxiety about the future and this potential move to Seattle. Thoughts run through my head a little something like this… “How am I going to get my furniture half way across the country? I can’t afford to rent a UHaul!!” “How am I going to find NORMAL roommates in Seattle?! How am I ever going to find the perfect living situation/house while living in Illinois?!” “What if that dream job never opens up, should I be looking for a job right now?” “How am I ever going to afford a place in Seattle, one of THE most expensive areas in the Nation?!” You get the idea.

As soon as God began speaking about Seattle my heart has been a bundle of nerves, fluttering at all the seeming impossibilities. You want me to move there, from here? It’s like I’m looking for a needle in a haystack with 2,200+ miles in between me and my future. This future is so far off, yet so close I can taste it. I want to just curl up in a ball and huddle up under my covers until the monsters are out of my closet, if you know what I mean! How am I going to live without my family at the comfort of my backyard? How am I going to find a better paying job to afford the price of living over there? What about my finances? How will I ever get past this season of frustration? The thoughts spiral endlessly. Have you been there? It’s painful and almost unbearable. The brink of transition is quite possibly the most uncomfortable place to be. Yet, through it all, I hear the Lord speaking…

I was reading in my Bible today and stumbled across this passage

2 Corinthians 2:12ish MSG

“When I arrived in Troas to proclaim the Message of the Messiah, I found the place wide open. God had opened the door, all I had to do was walk through it.

Could it really be that simple? Could the path for my future really be that easy? It’s funny how our circumstances can scare us into silence and stun us to stand still. I want to follow the path that God has for me, but I’m completely afraid. What if I fail? What if I fall down? Who will catch me? I’m reminded again of Rebekah Lyons book title “Freefall to Fly.” Maybe God is calling me out like He called out Abraham.

Genesis 12:1-3 One day, the Eternal One called out to Abram.

Eternal One: Abram, get up and go! Leave your country. Leave your relatives and your father’s home, and travel to the land I will show you.[a] Don’t worryI will guide you thereI have plans to make a great people from your descendants. And I am going to put a special blessing on you and cause your reputation to grow so that you will become a blessing and example to othersI will also bless those who bless you and further you in your journey, and I’ll trip up those who try to trip you along the way.Through your descendants, all of the families of the earth will find their blessing in you.[b]

Hebrews 11:8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t know where I’m going or why. It just doesn’t make sense right now. Could it be that God is leading me out for a special purpose? Honestly, I have felt as if this last season I have been in has been a wilderness season, a dry season. It’s been a testing and trying time that’s broken me down and built me up– yet, as painful as it has been, I’d do it over again for the purpose it’s served in my life. Lately, I have felt the tension of transition as my life is being pulled back, preparing to be launched forward. I can sense the anticipation of take-off as I’m being taxied down the runway, but how long before the engine is revved in final preparation? It’s that waiting and wondering that trips me up. I’m sitting in the plane, ticket tucked neatly away, buckled and waiting. I’m wondering what step of the journey I am in as I listen to each sound of the engine. Are we getting closer? Is it time yet? It’s certainly the dawning of a new season which is always frightening yet thrilling. Yet transition is the period where you find yourself in a season that is ending,  but are still in the midst of watching the new season unfold. Why is change so unsettling? It’s really the only thing that is unchanging. Never the less, as you have no control once the plane doors are closed, so is life and the changing of seasons beyond our control. So what do you do when you find yourself in this situation? You have a few options. You can panic and fight against the forces that be–or you can sit back and enjoy the flight. Sometimes you just need to trust the process. There is always a reason for whatever it is you are going through. We may not always see it right away, but one day it will all make sense.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:12-13

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Trusting in God doesn’t mean taking control. It’s honestly the opposite. Giving control over to God doesn’t mean we sit down on our hands in defeat. It isn’t walking ahead either. As I was reading today, God reminded me that my journey is like one perpetual parade. Let me explain. In 2 Corinthians 2:14 it says:

“In the Messiah, In Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.”

I started to think about a parade. The members in a parade have their assigned places. They stand there in procession, waiting for room to move. The only direction they proceed is forward. A parade doesn’t have many twists and turns and everyone is headed in the same forward moving direction. If the parade moves to the left, everyone in the parade moves left. I thought about that for a moment and how that might possibly apply to my life. If only I move forward as He leads, as He speaks, how simple it would be. I’m realizing more and more that it’s OKAY for me not to be in complete control of every next step, but that it’s only my responsibility to move forward at His command. It really makes things simple if I keep two things in mind. ONE– If God wills it, He will open the door, make the way plain, and all I have to do is walk through the door. TWO–Allow God to lead and follow. It’s so simple when I put it into that perspective. So the anxious concerns and questions in my mind can be reduced to a few simple truths. IF God wills for me to move to Seattle, He is going to open a wide door, meet and answer every concern with a solution, and will just ask that I walk through the door in full faith that His plan is GOOD. He will meet every one of my needs, because God is my provider. Through it all, He will lead me from place to place in one PERPETUAL (ongoing, non-stop, fluid) parade.

Ahhhhhh, I can breathe again… I can rest assured that He has it all under control. And I don’t have to move until He speaks. So for right now, I will just enjoy the ride.

xoxo Alicia Barkley

Trusting The Process…

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Learning To Rest In His Unforced Rhythms Of Grace…

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Resting and surrendering takes discipline. It’s so easy for us to get up and go. It’s even easier to take the reigns of our life and drive us forward. Yet how often does our Good God, our Heavenly Father, the Lover of our Soul require and inquire of us to wait for Him? We are always in such a rush to get onto the next place… the next destination… the next level. Sometimes it’s in the in between that God wants to whisper into our hearts the plans and purposes He has for us, next. We struggle and strive and force our way through life, when the Father just wants you to sit and wait, resting and being still in the presence of the King. Recently when I was seeking God, I was restlessly asking Him what my next steps were, almost in fear of missing the boat. I have felt Him tugging at my heart about Seattle and making it clearer and clearer that His plan is for me to make a BIG move soon. But when? How? Where? Why? When???!! As I was immersed in worship I began to feel Him quiet my heart. He reminded me…

Matthew 6:33 But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides.

 

He stilled my heart, slowed it down to an even reassuring beat, while reminding me of His unforced rhythms of grace that He longs for me to walk in. He arrested my soul, quieted my spirit. He caused me to quiet the storm around me, slowing me to walk in step with His. He reminded me that He has everything taken care of. He assured me that everything was being worked out, everything being worked on behind the scenes. He pointed me back to the simple truth that it’s ALL about Him. It’s ALL about HIM. He gently pointed out to me that I was worrying unnecessarily and that my only job was to worship and focus on HIM. He is setting and settling everything together, into place, like a well planned gathering. All the decorations are being set up, the table is being prepared… just trust, just trust, just trust Me, Alicia.

It’s interesting how when we feel the need to make difficult life altering decisions we are so inclined to just decide. I think God secretly wishes we would slow down enough to allow Him to hold us in those decisions. He truly wants us to be ushered right into His very calming presence, only for Him to show us exactly where we need to be. Right now, I am practicing this art of slowing down and allowing Him to lead, guide and direct. Whenever circumstances are moving faster than your ability to hear God that should be an indicator that you need to slow down, and get in step with the King. No decision must be made in haste. You shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace. God’s will and provision are always abundantly clear, and effortlessly available. You need only to open your eyes, ears & heart to hear and see what He has to show you. I feel myself writing as if the Lord is just speaking directly through my heart, leaping upon this page. You will not miss the will of God, IF you wait for Him. Key word is wait. I don’t have a statistic of how many times the word “wait” is in the Bible, but as I perused the Word today, it was every where. He blesses those who waits. He works on behalf of those who wait. Wait upon the Lord. He renews those who wait upon the Lord. He honors, gives grace & promotes those who wait before the Lord, humbling themselves. There is a grace principle here. There is a fountain of special provision and favor that flows when we truly slow down to wait upon the Lord. We don’t need to move a single step until He speaks, opens the door, closes the door, shows us a hallway or opens a window. We truly have an expert tour guide, driver, and leader that goes before us. He will level the way for us, and all we need to do is take a step upon the path and begin walking. He will truly lay down the road before us and all we must do is take the first step. He will be faithful and just to show us the way we should walk. And how do we know that we are walking upon the correct path? Well He lights the way for us through His word! It shall be a as a light and a lamp unto our pathway, lighting up the road in which we are to travel. No decision is too big or too detailed for God. I am preaching to myself! It’s so easy to get caught up in the details and in what is right before your face. Sometimes our circumstances scream at us, vying desperately for our attention. Never let the circumstances lead you as they are never to dictate you. Pour out your heart to the Lord, laying yourself and all your dreams before Him. Don’t move. Don’t rush. Don’t force. Don’t strive. You just don’t need to! He is too good to fail you. He is too good NOT to speak to your decision, your situation. He will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it. He will show you the way in which you are to go. He is our faithful Father! He will give us every good and perfect gift, withholding no good thing from those who walk uprightly. This is our promise!

So what are you worried about? What decision is screaming at you to make? Just take a deep breathe and press pause. Everything can wait. Everything can fall to the wayside while you seek out the Lord and His plan and purpose for you in your next step. Trust and rely on the Lord, let Him lead you. If you find yourself leading the way, maybe it’s time to put the reigns back in the Kings hands. He is a better guide for your life than you ever could be. I know it’s counterintuitive as we all want to KNOW and have a say in what’s next, but believe me…He doesn’t want to lead for the sake of TAKING AWAY control from you. It’s because His destination is such a blessing for you, that only He knows the way in which you should go. He wants to bless you and give you favor and honor in life. Don’t take that gift away from Him. You are only robbing yourself. Allow the Redeeming King to take you on a journey you will never forget, and could never get to on your own. Let Him lead you to the place of exceedingly and abundantly ABOVE all you could ever ask or think or imagine!

 

xoxo Alicia Barkley

 

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