THE JOURNEY. 2\5\2014.
Good Morning. It is 2.28 on Tuesday morning and I have been cajoled out of bed because my head is just so busy!! I have a story and a journey I have to share with you all. It is not short and far from simple, so you may want to grab a coffee before you start.
I arrived at Activate with a very special friend. Caroline treated me to this weekend and right there is the first part of Gods plan. I felt a bit like a toddler on the first day of playgroup clinging to her carers leg with her face a bit hidden, wary of new experiences and new people, but most of all with my emotional fortress manned on all sides.
There was something very special about the atmosphere that greeted me, and soon I felt safe enough to unwind. I had a lovely room, the beginnings of some headspace and I had already met some lovely people. I was smiling and feeling excited, but my stomach was still churning. Quite frankly, underneath I was fairly broken and exhausted. I am fighting ME after a diagnosis just before Christmas. I was also dealing with a number of difficult issues.
In the car on the way to Activate I had said to Caroline “that I wanted God to tell me in a big booming voice what direction to go in, so it would sooth the battle that was raging in my head and would give me the permission to be able to give more energy to my family!”
So then I joined the seminar “Waiting for God”. I sat there and listened to Michelle speak and as I did, I felt God start to break down the fortress and strip my defences away and I was terrified, I felt like I was getting changed on a beach packed with people and my towel had begun to slip!! I had spoken quite firmly to God before the weekend, and although I wanted him to speak to me I was not going to sign up for anything too emotional.
I guess God had other plans! I cried afterwards and was cared for and soothed by women I had met hours before. I did not want to ‘Get back in the Boat’ I wanted to ‘jump ship’! Was God telling me to go back into a difficult situation? The thought of that suddenly made me feel physically sick! But then God has my back doesn’t he? He will equip me won’t he? After all, I am where he wants me, aren’t I? ” It isn’t meant to be this hard!” I talked a lot about my worries and concerns for the future and received some prayer. Sleep came blissfully and surprisingly easily.
I awoke on Saturday morning head spinning, body aching, and aware that God had not come and whispered “get out of the boat” in my dreams, but there was still time and I was excited for the day ahead.
Wow! Breadcrumbs and fishbones heh? I can do that I thought and God will be delighted, and he was speaking to me! I rested a lot on Saturday. Caroline introduced me to the amazing Kate and we talked artist to artist about her “ChristArt.” I was very touched and inspired. I showed her some pictures of my stained glass mosaics and she saw things in them that had never occurred to me. She told me about sitting with God in prayer and asking him to speak through her art. I thought that was fantastic and made a note to ‘try it sometime’. I also had some very precious prayer time with Mary and left to get ready for the Gala dinner feeling cuddled by God.
I hardly slept! that same battle was raging around and inside my head and I was running out of time for that answer! There was no doubt that God was right there but why was he being so quiet? I had really strained to listen too! I felt awful, exhausted and aching all over, ME was winning today, and to top it off I really needed to listen this morning and my hearing was very muffled as if someone had their hands over my ears. My wonderful Caroline who was doing an amazing job of loving and looking after me. She bought me breakfast and we went into the service. My brain was constantly reminding me that this time tomorrow, I would be back in the real world with no idea how to deal with it all. Although desperate to see my family, I was devastated that my time at Activate was at an end and I was being forced into the cold reality of the outside world.
I stood in that worship time feeling raw, we sang my favourite song ‘In Christ Alone’ and the words lifted me up towards Jesus as they always do. All of a sudden I could no longer raise my arms and my knees buckled and legs gave in. Caroline managed to drag me into the prayer tent and there in her and my Saviours arms I sobbed harder than I ever have before and I was emptied! I lay down, my teeth were chattering and I had nothing left not even the energy to call out in prayer. But my wonderful Lord right at that moment was more than content with breadcrumbs and fishbones!
After lying there for a while Caroline brought me two presents – a glass of water and Fiona Castle. Fiona and Caroline prayed over me there and someone bought in some oil for anointing and in that peaceful place I had a reunion with Jesus. Fiona said she felt God wanted me to lay down and rest and I did. I was still aware of Michelle’s voice and every time I heard words to do with Jesus love, a beautiful shiver of peace and abandonment went through my body and I was being held by my awesome Father.
After some time I sat up and Gods soft gentle voice spoke to me and he simply said, “Alison I want you to put your energy into your Art for me!! and I believe God is going to use me to touch others through my art, and to think I had made a note to just ‘try that sometime’!
Wow – what he can accomplish in 48 hours, all in Gods time but never too late. I arrived broken and went home beautiful, with a calling to an arts ministry. I said yes to Jesus with energy and unblocked ears and right there in that quiet calm moment, and although I did not know it at the time, ‘Making Broken Beautiful’ was anointed and affirmed.
I stayed there for a while at the feet of my saviour and with women praising God outside I really felt God move and inspire me. I picked up a pad of post-it notes and let the spirit move my hand over the paper. That is the moment ‘Soar’ was created and over the coming weeks God translated it for me, taught me it was my story and that he yearned for me to share it, and then sat by me as I transformed pencil on paper to a piece of art.
There is that feeling that when you are cocooned in the warmth of acceptance and love you find at an Activate weekend, that stepping back into life outside is going to be cold and relentless, but God comes with you. In the weeks that followed I handed in my resignation. I didn’t know where I was going next, but instead of fighting and struggling and worrying I was not good or talented enough to take up this responsibility, I honoured my body with rest and listened once more for that still small voice of calm.
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I wrote that 4 years ago and this morning, after reading it again, I have had time to reflect on the past and what has happened since. I wish I could say that everything has been a dream, but I don’t have to tell you that is not how life works. Our family has been through some desperately dark times, some of which we thought we would never emerge from, but I learnt that God is ferocious in his love for us and as well as speaking in a quiet calm voice as he did in that prayer tent, he can come as a hurricane if that is what is needed by his children.
So much has happened since the birth of Making Broken Beautiful, and my story to this point is one of moving forward, healing and above all God’s grace, and it is a story I am meant to share and maybe for such a time as Activate Authentic!
There is so much to look forward to, I am persevering with my business, running workshops, creating and planning collaborations and things are moving in the right direction.
So just for now, I will give myself a break from the hundreds of questions invading my head and concentrate on the truth, I will sit in his presence and honour my arms, hands and fingers and the awesome one who created them and say with joy, ‘ I am a daughter of Christ, I am beloved, I am authentic, ‘I Ali, am an artist’!
Meet Ali at AUTHENTIC 2018