Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Closer Walk With Thee...

It's been amazing chronicling my path on this blog over the last few years.  What a beautiful story I have!  The great mystery of how God can guide me and yet give me choices has been played out time and again throughout the last few years.  He has such unique ways of speaking to me; such as through the life of a duck named Thelma.  I love sharing my story with you, not because I am trying to give you a bullet point list of the best way to live your life, but because I want to show you the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus.

I believe that our Daddy loves us and trusts us so much that He gives us choices that are all one way or another in His will.  There are times that He grabs our hands and leads us.  Others that He snatches us from the snares and drop offs.  And then there are the times that He turns around and watches us stand at the crossroads that all lead to Him and He lets us decide which way we desire to go.  

The closer we are to Him, the more confidence we have to take the road less traveled.

Although God told me to quit my job in faith a few times, it most certainly hasn't been how He's guided me every time I've felt unhappy with my job or anything else in life.  There have been times that I have felt dissatisfied and wanted to quit or give up only to hear from Him that it wasn't time.  He knows me better than I know myself.  He knows that I need to build my perseverance through tough situations.  It's more important to Him that I be refined and made more Christlike than it is how happy I feel in the moment.  There aren't many people out there who don't kick at the goads a bit when they know they are going to have to change.  We are quick to run away from any situation that seems too big or too scary.  God knows that about us.  We always look for the easiest way; the path of least resistance.  And even though He knows that about us, He doesn't give up.  He continues to give us situations that grow our character.  

There are times we are to persevere and then there are times where He does want us to get out; and move quickly.  There isn't time to doubt and worry.  There is only time to move forward in faith.  So many times I've stayed way longer in places or situations than I should have and I paid the consequences for it. 
We may have choices as to which way we go, but every choice has a consequence.

It's hard to know which is the right way sometimes.  God doesn't tend to make things black and white.  The closer I get to God the more comfortable I get with living in the gray areas of life.  Not having a list of right and wrong answers draws us closer to the Holy Spirit to guide us.  I may not always know that what I am doing is the right thing, but I do know that even if I am wrong and I fail, my Daddy never leaves me and never stops loving me.  If you are stuck in indecision, sometimes the best thing you can do is just decide on something and go for it with all you got.  You might be wrong, but either way you'll have grown in your relationship with God.  You will learn His voice of confirmation, or you will learn His voice of correction. Both of them are healing and life changing.

Learning His voice and growing closer to Him is worth the risk of failing and falling.  And when you learn that you hear His voice and you can trust Him, your faith will flourish and mature.

People have written me and asked me if they should quit their jobs or they've already quit their jobs and are wondering if they should wait for the perfect job even if it takes years to find.  The truth is....I don't have any idea what you should do.   I would love to tell you what to do because that is one of my top five favorite things ever, but the truth is that you need to ask your Daddy and let Him guide you.

Whether you stay where you are in faith, or you head out into the wild blue yonder in faith, see that no matter what...He is good.


Katie "Trailblazer" Alicea

Friday, May 25, 2012

Duck Tales...

Duck butts!

Hello friends!  It's well past time for an update!

Today I'm going to tell a story about a duck named Thelma and how God spoke to me through her.  (Hey, He can speak through a donkey, why not a duck?!....or a dog?)

Tony and I live in a beautiful little community in Pompano Beach, FL.  Although it is full of condos, this is still considered a nature preserve and so there are all kinds of ducks, cranes, birds, turtles, lizards, and apparently somewhere out there lurks an alligator.  

One day as I was getting out of my car, I saw something move in the bushes that line the curb beside my parking space.  I peered through the branches to see it was a beautiful duck, and she was sitting on a nest.  I'm sure it's no surprise to you at all that I talked to her and named her.  

She looks like a Thelma.  Trust me.  

I ran inside the apartment and excitedly exclaimed, "Tony!!  Guess what!?"

"Um, you won the lottery?  You met Ryan Gosling?  Whitney is off the air?, " he guessed as a smile spread across his face.

"No!! BETTER!!!  There's a duck in the bush beside my car!"

Okay, so maybe I'm a bit prone to overexcitement.

Before I tell you more about Thelma, let me switch gears and tell you what was going on in my heart around this time.  After a few months at my job, I realized this was not what I wanted to do forever.  I couldn't quite understand at the time why I was feeling this way.  Clearly God had lined this job up for me.  If that was true, then why was I feeling like it didn't quite fit? 

God had begun stirring something in my heart before I left my job in DC, and I haven't been able shake it.  He hasn't been specific about what this thing will look like.  He hasn't told me where I will be and what I will be doing.  I've just known that I will know when I know...ya know!?

So when I met Thelma, I was at a place of knowing that this job wasn't for me, but not knowing what to do about it.  I had just gone through a few pretty huge transitions.  I had moved away from my family and friends.  I had just gotten married.  Tony had just started a new job that was part time.  We are in need of a new car (sadly, my Jeep is in the death throws).  It didn't seem like  good time to tell my husband I wasn't happy at my job.  

So for awhile I didn't say anything.  I thought that it was just me struggling with the transition.

Every morning on my way to my car and every evening on my way in from work I would stop and look in on Thelma and say hello.  I felt a kinship with this little duck.  I felt like I understood what it was like to sacrifice yourself for what was to come later.  I understood how it feels to protect a delicate, precious future promise.  I have laid down my dreams, covered them, and waited for the day that my waiting and wanting would end.  

As the other mama ducks waddled around the property with their baby ducks in toe, I would see Thelma patiently sitting on her nest.  Time kept passing.  The other baby ducks were getting older, but no babies for Thelma.  Not yet.

I finally told Tony how I was feeling about my job.  He was totally understanding and supportive and told me that it was time to move on.  The one question he asked me was, "what do you want to do?".  I felt weird at the time telling him that I didn't know, but that I would know it when I saw it.

The very next day, after we had decided it was time to look for something new, Tony talked to some of his friends to see if they knew of anything.  One of Tony's friends told him about a job opening where he works and would be happy to talk to me about it if I was interested.  As Tony told me a vague description of the job, I knew already in my heart that this was it.

The very next day after our decision that I needed to look for a new opportunity, I knew I had found my new job.

I don't think Tony would mind if I tell you that he thought I was jumping the gun a bit.  I didn't even really know much about the job or even the organization.  He thought I might just be anxious to leave and was putting all my eggs in the first basket I found.

I talked with Tony's friend, sent him my resume, and waited.

A few days later I get an email inviting me for an interview.  I was SO excited!  I couldn't believe how quickly things were moving and working out!

The only issue was that I couldn't leave my job yet.  My office was short staffed and there was no way I could leave until the office manager came back, and she wouldn't be back for at least another month and a half.  

I replied that I was interested in setting up the interview (it couldn't hurt to interview, right!?), but only got a reply a week later that interviews were on hold and they would contact me later to set up an interview time.  At first I was disappointed.  Tony advised me to start looking for other jobs in the area, but I told him that I knew I wasn't supposed to.  I knew that even if this job didn't work out, God was going to open the door Himself and all I had to do was wait.  I think that made Tony a little nervous, but I assured him that this is how God and I roll.  I stopped striving a while ago and I wasn't going to pick it back up no matter how unsure the future looked.

What do ducks think about while they sit on their eggs all day and wait?

That is one of the many questions I had for Thelma, but she didn't answer me.  Time kept ticking on.  More baby ducklings hatched by other ducky mamas, but Thelma was still waiting.  If ducks could make expressions I would say she was getting a little impatient.  The rainy season had begun a few weeks back and it pained me to think of Thelma sitting in the rain while lightening streaked the sky above her.  As if the waiting wasn't bad enough.  Now she's stuck in the rain.

Work was becoming more and more stressful for me.  I felt like I was stuck in the rain too.  I didn't know what was going to happen next, but I knew it was time to go.  Tony and I had decided that I was going to leave whether I got this job or not.  This was a huge leap of faith, but for some reason we weren't worried about it. 

A few days before my office manager returned to work, I got an email to set up my interview.  Isn't God's timing perfect!? I scheduled the interview and waited on God to tell me what to do next.

This may sound a bit crazy, but I knew that it would be time to quit my job as soon as Thelma's eggs hatched.  

A week after my office manager got back to the office after being gone for a few months, Thelma's eggs hatched.  

I gave my notice the next day.

I don't know which one I was more excited about...giving my notice or seeing Thelma's 21 ducklings.  That's right...twenty one!!! I counted them myself.  The average hatching is around 9 to 14 duckings.   

One evening when I came home from work, I saw Thelma and her clan waddling through the front yard of our building.  There was a lady standing there watching them and I struck up a conversation with her.   She told me that she had lived in the community for about 10 years and had loved watching the ducks and their hatchlings.  She told me she couldn't believe that this duck had so many ducklings; she had never seen one have that many.  I know it sounds so strange, but I felt so proud of Thelma and her sacrifice.  She may have been the one to wait the longest for her promise, but she got more babies duckies for her troubles.  I know she's a duck and she was just doing what ducks do, but it was miraculous to me none-the-less.  

Everyone at my job was so super supportive and understanding.  I left there knowing that God had done something very important in me and through me with this position.  

I also left not knowing whether or not I was going to have a job.

After a couple of awesome interviews, I was offered the job!!  

You're now looking at (or more accurately: reading the words of) the Relationship Manager/Assistant to the President of OneHope (check out their website to find out what they are all about)!!  

Another leap of faith and another opportunity to see that God is faithful.  

Thelma and her ducklings have moved on from my building, but sometimes I get the opportunity to see them.  Some mornings as I look out my window that over looks the water, I see her and her little ones walking along the waters edge.   I miss seeing her in the bushes by my car, but you can't sit and wait forever.  She can't stay at the nest while her babies run about.  When the promise comes, it's time to leave the nest and experience the gift of all that waiting. 

I'm ready to leave the nest as well.  I've learned so much in the waiting, but it's time to get excited about stepping into my next adventure!

Don't give up on your dreams or desires.  Sometimes there will be a detour.  Sometimes you will have to lay them down and wait.  But know that God is faithful to fulfill His promises.  He is a good Daddy. When I look back at my older blog posts where I write about leaving DC and what has transpired since then I am totally in awe.  If God Himself would have told me that I would meet my future husband, move to Florida, and meet so many amazing new people I don't think I would have believed Him.  This transition hasn't been easy, but I wouldn't take a moment of it back.  If you want to really live you have to be willing to step out into the unknown and risk failing, falling, and being wrong.  Looking back over my life, it's within my scariest, most unsure moments that I have grown the most.  I draw closest to Jesus in that place.  And the closer to Him the better.

It's good to be writing again.

I missed you all.


Katie Alicea

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Funny Valentine...

A pic from the first time we met in 2011

One year ago today I saw my future husband's face for the first time. Even though we had only talked a few times on the phone, he asked me to be his Valentine. So forward! I loved it.

When his face appeared on my computer screen I knew I was in trouble. Oh....that smile.

It's been a whirl wind since then. Skype, emails, phone calls, flying to and from for only a few days in the same location, moving to FL, getting engaged, getting married 3 months later, moving into our own place. It's been fast and it's been AMAZING.

We've been married for 4 short months now and I feel like it was years ago that our romance began.

I love lists, so I thought I would write a list of the things that I've learned and loved over this short amount of time that I've been with my man:

1. I love that Tony does the dishes, picks up around our place and gets it all tidy, and makes the bed every day. I don't even have to ask him to do it. It's just done. When I was single I didn't know I would love something like this so much, but now that I have someone else sharing a living space with me and I don't have to do it all by myself, I notice it and I love it!

2. Tony thinks I'm cute and funny. He laughs at me when I pretend to be a small animal and burrow into his chest. He looks at me like I'm crazy when I start doing my Liz Lemon/Elaine dance to the music in my head. He thinks it's adorable that all of my impersonations sound like Ray Ramono or Kermit the Frog. Sometimes we just sit and make faces at each other. Something we started doing over Skype when we got to hour 4 and were too tired to talk anymore. If there is something funny to be found in something. We will find it. We're goofy. We play. We laugh. I love this about us. My prayer is that we laugh forever. God is Joy!

3. This man has the listening power of a voice recorder. Not a peep, ya'll. He listens. Even when I wish he didn't. He does. He remembers everything that is important to me. He remembers all of the things that hurt or upset me. He listens to me talk and talk for hours and doesn't get annoyed. I don't know how he does it. I tell him everything. Every. Thing. Maybe it's not supposed to be that way. Maybe there are convos best left to my girlfiriends or strangers in line at Target, but I can't help but tell him my thoughts. It's a combination of knowing that he cares and also wanting him to know me better. One day when we have a house full of little people we may not have all the time to talk like we do now; so I'm taking advantage.

4. I love listening to him. I know, it's hard to believe that with all my talking that I would find time to listen, but I do. I LOVE his thoughts, ideas, dreams, feelings, jokes, and puns...I even love it when he makes fart noises with his mouth. It's in our talking with each other that we see more and more what God is doing in our lives or wants to do in our lives. Tony and I may come from different angles and in different ways, but..we have the same goal...God's glory. The more I hear him talk about what he's learned or what excites and fires him up, the more I love him.

5. He is so warm all the time. Jacob Black ain't got nothin' on Tony Alicea. Every time I hug him, I say, "You're waaaarm!" It's just awesome.

6. He is an amazing cook! When we first got married, both of us were like, um, we don't know how to cook. And then there was Pinterest and Food Network.com. We have been cooking up a storm for each other over these last couple of months. We have two different cooking styles. Tony follows the cooking directions to a tee; including using fresh ingredients. I can't follow a recipe exactly to save my life. I have to change it in some way. Interesting, huh!? :)

7. He loves me. When I hurt, he hurts. When I'm happy, he's happy. He longs to please me and make me smile. He listens to my needs and is careful with my heart. When I mess up or act like a 5 year old, he forgives me. He loves my attention and affection. He misses me when I'm not around. He says awesome things about me all the time. His love makes me want to be a better person. Isn't that exactly what it should do? He is patient, he is kind, he doesn't brag when he's right and I'm wrong, he doesn't get jealous, he doesn't act arrogantly, he nevers dishonors me, he isn't quick to anger, he doesn't keep a record of all the wrongs I've done, he always protects me, always trusts me, always has hope in me, and always perseveres through the rough places. He is my husband and I am so proud to be his wife.

There are so many more reasons I love my husband, but some of those would be inappropriate to list, so we'll leave it at that. :)

Happy Valentine's Day to my amazingly awesome husband, Tony! May the rest of our days be filled with love, light, joy, and unicorn farts*!

*He knows what that means. And he thinks it's adorable.


Katie Alicea