Sunday, December 11, 2011

Let Me See...

When I was a kid and would hurt myself, I always hated it when my mom found out.  I would try and cover it up so she wouldn't see, but she would always take my hands away and say, "Let me see".  

I always wanted to hide my wounds from her because I knew what was coming next.

More pain.

In order to get better, I would have to let her wash it out and then spray it with what I affectionately refer to as liquid fire or Solarcaine for those out there that remember such torture devices.  

The more times my mom had to say, "Katie, move your hands and let me see," the more sprays of Solarcaine it was going to take to properly disinfect my wound.  Every time I saw that spray can I would start bargaining with my mom.  "No.  Not that.  Please.  Mom.  Please, no.  There has to be another way."  "Katie do you want your cut to get infected and your leg to fall off (dramatic, yet effective)?"  "YES!!  I would prefer loss of limb over getting sprayed with your devil fire (I didn't actually say this, because I was too young to be quite so witty; but, this is my story and I'll write it how I want to thankyouverymuch).  "Fine then, when your leg falls off we'll have to use a whole can of Solarcaine in order to make you all better.   You're going to have to face it, Kate, so you might as well do it now while the cut is little."  

Words of wisdom from my mom.  I didn't quite care for them back them, but I get it now.

We all have wounds.  Some small, some big.  In order to heal them, we are going to have to uncover them and let the healing balm come.  

This can be painful.

But it's much less painful than a festering, growing wound that immobilizes us.   The bigger the wound gets the longer it takes to heal.

If you're hurting.  Whether it's a fresh wound or one you've had for a long time, there is no better time than now to uncover it and let Jesus heal it.  

Let Him see what you're hiding. 

Trust Him with your bumps and bruises.

I've only been married for two months, but within this short time I have realized that there were hurts that I was covering and didn't know they were there until someone got close enough to me to see them.  Some of these hurts are things I thought I already dealt with.  But some wounds go so deep that you have to heal layer at a time.  I could have tried to hide these things, but I trust Jesus with my hurts now.  I don't fear His touch.  I understand how important it is for my marriage as well as my relationship with God to allow healing to come to me and not to cover up my wounds in shame or fear.  

At one time or another we have all been hurt and wounded.  It's God's will that we be healed, but it has to be our will as well or we will remain injured.  



Friday, November 25, 2011

I Can't Live...

One of the many reasons I love blogging is that you get to meet some of the best people in the whole world.  People that you would never have met had it not been for the interwebs.  Michael Perkins is one of those people.   I've been reading his blog for about 2 years now and what keeps me coming back again and again is his realness and honesty.  He loves Jesus with all that he is and you can see it in his writing; whether he writes paragraphs or just a few simple words.  He has been such an inspiration and support to Tony and me.  Even though we've never met in person, I feel like we have a true friend in Michael Perkins and his family.  If you've never read The Handwritten, I suggest you take a gander (Michael would appreciate that phrase because he's a Southern boy).   If for nothing else, I'm guest posting there today.  Check out my handwritten post over at Michael's place...

If you just can't get enough of Michael, follow him on Twitter.  



PS - I hope ya'll had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Time to Mourn...

Yesterday, a 15-year-old young man from my hometown of Buckhannon, WV shot and killed himself as a result of bullying.

I don't know any other details.  But really, how many more details do I need to feel overwhelmed with sadness for him and his family and my community. 

It doesn't matter why he was bullied.  What matters is that it happened.

It all goes back to the "why".

The reason why kids bully other kids is the same reason why there are some kids that let what the bullies say define or overcome them.

They don't know who they are and they don't feel protected or defended.

And you know, it's really not their fault.  They're kids.  It's our job as parents, friends, family, and community to pour truth into them as early and as consistantly as possible.

The kids that say and do hurtful, horrible things do so because they don't know that they are protected, safe, loved, and precious.  The kids that are on the recieving end of another person's pain get so tired of it that they would rather end their life than face more hurtful words that cut to that part of them that is already saying they aren't worth anything.

It's not enough to make rules against bullying.

That won't stop anything.

It's a heart issue, not a rule issue.

Our kids need to learn the power in their words.  They need to learn the value of other people.  And above all else they need to have a deep, soul knowledge of their worth and identity in God.  They need to know in the deepest part of themselves that they are protected, safe, seen, cared for, thought of, unique, precious, worthy, and LOVED by a God big enough to be everything they need no matter what.  Any one that knows that about themselves wouldn't be inclined to bully someone else or be effected by the words and actions of a bully.

Our kids are hurting.  They lash out in order to feel some sense of control.  They don't feel seen at home.  They don't feel like anyone is going to protect them so they puff themselves up to look big and mean, but on the inside they are desperately insecure.  When they see that their words can control someones feelings or reaction, they get a false sense of power and strength.

The kids that are on the receiving end of someone else's pain have two reactions 1) they blow it off because they know who they are, or 2) they let it sink in because they are already feeling insecure and fearful (like most teenagers who are trying to figure out who they are).

It's not enough to deflect the bullies until our kids get out of school.  Bullies never go away.  They follow you through college, and into the job world.  They are everywhere for the rest of our lives, even if they don't take on the form of the bully at the bus stop. 

Looking back I don't remember much about all the gifts I got at Christmas.  But I do remember us all being together and singing songs and laughing.  No matter how cool it was to have a dad that was a karate teacher; I ended up resenting it because I was jealous for his time and attention.  I knew my mom worked hard and helped people in the community all the time; and I'm proud of her and have learned a lot from her, but I resented her job for taking her away.

My best memories are of time spent talking with my parents.  Working with them.  Planting gardens.  Reading books. Watching movies.  Riding bikes.  Sleeping in bed together and cuddling.  Learning from them.  Having them notice my art, my stories, my creations, and just me....for being me.  There was nothing better than sitting on my Daddy's lap as he rocked me in his rocking chair.   Or laying my head on my mom's lap while she played with my hair (I still do this any chance I get).  Even the times that I got punished meant a lot to me  (in because it showed me that they were paying attention to me and cared about me.

I don't know all the answers or even some of them.  This bullying issue is a symptom of a much larger problem that is going to take everyone's involvement to change.  It's not just about punishing your kids when they say something mean, it's about them understanding who they are and how Jesus loves EVERYONE the same no matter their sex, religion, color, job, age, sexual orientation, income, etc .  

If our kids are getting bullied we can't tell them to fight fire with fire, or become bullies themselves.  We need to love them so much that love spills out of them and onto those around them no matter how they are treated. 

Jesus was bullied, called names, beat up, and murdered for being who He is.  He was an outsider.  Misunderstood. Different.  But He won the war against evil in the end.  Not because He picked up a sword. He didn't attack.  He LOVED.  His love and sacrifice disarmed the devil.  Let's teach our kids to love extravagantly.  The only way to do to walk it out in our own lives.

My heart burns for our young people.  They truly are our future (thank you Whitney Houston). Jesus loves them, protects them, defends them, and adores them and I want them to know it with all that they are. 

Help me do that.


The Future (FUTURE!!) mother of extravagantly loved children

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hope for the Best....

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

We've all heard that phrase.  Some of us even live by it.

But I submit to you a worthy replacement to said phrase:

Hope for the best, prepare for the best.

Now, before you lambast me for being too Polly Anna/Osteenish, let me say that I'm not going to go on some diatribe about the power of positive thinking or speak out against planning and preparing.  I, myself, have a nice little stock pile of shampoo and conditioner in case of nuclear meltdown or locust attack.  So go ahead and continue building your bunkers.  I'm more referring to our prayer life and the position of our hearts.

When I pray to God and hope that He answers me, but prepare for Him not to answer me, I'm not praying in faith.  If I pray that God bless me with a new job and then I go sit on the couch and play Tekken 3 (that was the last time I played video games, don't judge) then I'm not really preparing myself for that new jobby job.  But, if I were to pray for God to bless me with a new job and I went out and got a nice suit and started searching for jobs and filling out applications, then I'm preparing for Him to bring the blessing I know in my heart He already wants to bring. 

I don't want to go through life preparing for the worst, because then when the worst happens, I'll say to myself, "Yep, just like I thought would happen."  My preparation for let-downs gives me a negative mind set.  I'm not trying to tout positive thinking as a cure all, but I am saying that the position of your heart and your faith in a God that loves you more than you can ever know, does make a difference in how you view the world and what happens in it. 

I would rather be surprised when things don't work out, than to be prepared for it.  When I pray for God to heal one of my patient's with cancer, I would rather believe He answers my prayers than to think it probably won't work because I hear of people dying with cancer every day.  I don't let what I see or hear around me effect my faith.  I chose to believe that no matter what the circumstance looks like, there is always hope.  Some may think it's naive, but it's not.  My heart is connected to the Creator of the Universe.  I believe what He says to me.  I believe He is Who He says He is, and I believe He is powerful and strong.  When I talk to Him about my worries or troubles, I believe that He cares and is taking care of them for me.  When I pray for others I believe that He moves.  I don't ever want to hear of a tragedy or a seemingly hopeless situation and approach it in fear by saying, "Well, that's just what's happening in the world today." "Bad things happen to good people."  "I knew he wouldn't make it."

I chose to hope for the best and prepare for the best.  Not because I've done something good to deserve God's blessings, but because God commands our faith.


Katie Alicea

(I love my new name!!)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Kick the Tires...

"Babe, let me do it"

I think Tony must have said this at least 3 times while we changed a flat tire together.

I don't know if you all know this, but I'm stubborn.  Okay, and prideful.  I believe I've mentioned this before, but it bares repeating.

I get home about an hour or so before Tony does.  He told me he would help me change my tire when he got home.  But, that flat tire needed fixin' so decided that I would just go ahead and fix it myself.   I figured that when Tony got home he would be so dazzled by my sweet tire changing skills that he would let me watch all the Twilight movies while he rubbed my feet and told me how skinny I looked.

That's not what happened, though.

No matter how hard I tugged and strained, I couldn't get the lug-nuts off.

After trying for over 40 minutes (<----stubborn) I ended up waiting for Tony to get home and he was able to change the tire without even breaking a sweat.  While he was changing the tire I kept trying to help him.  I would try and take the tire off the hub, or lift the spare tire, but I was just getting in his way.

Tony was trying to help me, but I didn't know how to let him.

I spent so much time praying for a partner in life that would be there to take care of things like this, but now that I have Tony and he is doing things for me, it's not easy to let him.

When you've done things yourself for awhile a couple of things happen. 

1) You start to take pride in all of the things you are able to do on your own.  Not that that is a bad thing.  It just makes it hard when someone else can do it for you better than you can do it for yourself. 

2) You start to feel like you are inconveniencing people when they help you, because you know that you could do it yourself if you had to. (Although, those lug nuts where pretty much glued on if you ask me).

3) You start to feel like you are weak if you let someone know you need help.

But I've realized just how important it is to learn to receive from others. 

I need help.

I need people.

I struggle sometimes.

When I am struggling with something, I don't have to exhaust myself trying to deal with it on my own.  It was so easy for Tony to change that tire and I almost gave myself an aneurysm trying to do it.  The same goes for times in my life where I feel overwhelmed, sad, depressed, exhausted, stretched too thin, etc. 

Even Jesus asked for help.

Jesus asked the disciples to pray with Him in the garden of Gethsemane.  He asked the disciples to feed the 5,000 hungry people.  He asked the woman at the well to give him some water. 

Even though He was fully capable of doing everything Himself (and I'm sure do a much better job at it than them), He still asked others to help Him.  It was never just for His benefit, but for the benefit of the person He was asking.

When we ask for help, we give people the opportunity to give and grow.  If I did everything and never let Tony do anything, then he would feel like I didn't need him or trust him.  The more I tell him my struggles and trust him with that information, the more real our relationship is and the closer we grow.

I'm not suggesting that anyone be less than they are so that someone else can feel good about themselves.  Heck no!  I will never be less than who I am.  Be you, baby!  I'm just saying that we all need to realize our needs and our limits and kick pride in the teeth instead of trying to "be strong" and not "bother" anyone.

The tire story does have a happy ending.  I may not have convinced him that a Twilight marathon would be fun, but he did look mighty fine getting some grease on his hands.  And as a bonus he did tell me how beautiful I am and then went and got me my favorite meal from La Granja. 

Kick the tires and light the fires!!



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Settling Down...

I've never been a big fan of the term  "settling down".  I'm even going to put it in quotes so the phrase doesn't touch the rest of the words in the sentence. 

I know it seems pretty benign.  Maybe you've even said it yourself. 

"I can't wait to settle down one day and get a house, a car, one of those little dogs that fit in your purse, and maybe even a Wii fit!"


"When is he just going to settle down and realize that I am the future mother of his adorable children and the future back seat driver of his super sweet F150 extended cab!?"

Whatever! Like you've never said that before!

I think when most people talk about settling down they just mean that they are going to stop dancing on bars, waking up next to strangers, and eating at Taco Bell every day for lunch.  They are ready to hang up their Studio-54ian  lifestyle and get married, have the 2.5 kids (I feel certain that .5 kid is going to be in years of therapy), care about drapes, tile versus laminate flooring, the best kindergartens and other such things.  And you know what, there's nothing wrong with that at all.  I'm a married lady now myself.  I quit eating Taco Bell for lunch every day a while ago*.  I thought I didn't care about melon ballers, 300 count sheets, and non-stick cookware until I started our Bed, Bath, and Beyond registry extravaganza.  God Bless Tony.  He even let me register for a shake weight just because the thought of getting one from my grandma made me almost pee my pants in the Beyond section (said shake weight has since been removed from the registry due to the fear of actually having to use it if someone bought it for us. #lazy).  My point is this, I'm all about people giving up any lifestyle that keeps them from the promises and purposes that God has for them.   Put down the beer bong and step away slowly.  That being said, I don't ever want the waves of routine to flow over me and ebb away carrying my spontaneity, sense of adventure, and my untamed Spirit. 

I LOVE being married to Tony.  The reasons are too  many to list.  Marriage is so amazing.  Tony is so amazing. Contrary to what most people think, marriage doesn't equal "settling down". Marriage is something you need to be ready for, and isn't to be taken lightly, but it doesn't mean that you have to get a place in your life where you are ready for all the fun to end. Do people ever feel ready for that?  I think that's what a lot of people think though.  And because that's what they think they are supposed to do...that's how they act once they get married.  They put on their big girl britches and try to play the part of married adult.  Inevidablely they end up getting tired of acting their assigned role.  They have all of this pent up angst because they still want to party hardy, but they think they're supposed to be "grown ups" (another horrible phrase that shant touch my other beautiful words) so they suppress it until one day when they are about to turn 45 they explode and build a man-cave in their basement with a full bar and a secure lock on the door (it's the adult version of the "boys only" sign on treehouses).  They blame marriage.  They make fun of it.  They degrade it.  Sometimes they give up on it all-together.  But it's not marriage's fault you're so unsatisfied.

It's not's you.

Tony and I will  never be satisfied with living a "settled" life.  The Jesus we follow is good, but He's not safe.  In order to follow Him we're going to have to fight to stay on an untamed path that has twists, turns, and dropoffs.  Maybe even giant rats like in Princess Bride.  The life we've both chosen to lead by laying everything down for our God means that we will have joy, peace, and love, but we were never promised that we would ever be "settled".  We were actually promised some trouble.  It may seem that a life lived dancing on bars and waking up next to someone you barely know is adventurous because you're not "tied down" (I don't want that phrase touching anything either).  But you are.  You are tied to yourself. 

It's through intimate, meaningful relationships with others that we become untied from ourselves and open our heart to others.  It's only through intimacy with God and with others that we can escape ourselves. Relationships offer the opportunity to live the greatest love others as we love ourselves. 

The big issue here is that many of us don't love ourselves.  Back in my dancing on bars days I didn't love myself.  I didn't know who I was or Whose I was.  I was in a spiral of selfish living where everyone came second, third, or 54th to me so I know all about thinking that marriage means the end of all things fun and happy.  This may not sound like it makes sense but in order to love yourself, you have to let yourself go.  In other words, get over yourself.  Give yourself up for something greater than you.  It is when you find yourself on the path of God that you are finally able to love yourself and then love others.

Marriage isn't about sucking it up, never having fun again, joining the rest of the unhappily ever after brigade, and hoping for an awesome car and sweet career as your parting gift.  You don't have to get "tied down" or "settle down".  (There's lots of phrases associated with marriage with the word "down" in them.  Me no likey.)  Tony and I are making it our life's purpose to change people's mind about marriage.  We want our relationship to show the world that when you both chase after Jesus hand-in-hand, it is possible to have a joy-filled, adventurous, passionate, peaceful, FUN, and LOVING marriage.  We're going to have some battles to fight to be sure, but they won't be with each other...they will be with the powers and principalities that try and keep the message and love of God from His people.  Marriage isn't about obligations to societies rules and trying to keep up with the Joneses.  I don't like to do what I'm told any dag-on way; sorry society. And who are these Jones folks and why are we chasing after them instead of Jesus? <--- Jesus Juke!

In conclusion I want to say that I don't think there is anything at all wrong with routine.  Routines can be very good and necessary.  It's good to feel settled in your soul.  It's what we've done with the phrase "settle down" that I have beef with.  Feeling settled is good.  All I am saying is that we need to stay awake in life and not let our routines dictate us and strip all the feeling away from our every day lives.  When I roll over in the morning and I see Tony sleeping beside me, my heart leaps and I have to reach out and touch him just so that I can see his eyes slowly slide open and a faint smile spread across his perfect lips.  I don't want that feeling to ever be numbed by the routine of it all.  I'll be waking up next to him as long as we both shall live, but each day offers a new adventure.  The only thing that makes each day like the next is my mindset.  Tony makes my soul feel settled and at peace no matter what is going on in my life.  That's the only kind of settled I want to be.


Katie Alicea

*2 weeks after I started dating Tony.  It's a hard habit to break.  I miss you Nachos Bell Grande.  I like to think you miss me too.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Tony and I are getting married in 3 days!!!

Are you jumping up and down with excitement too!!??

I've waited a long time for Tony, and I can't tell you how excited I am to be his wife.  As I am preparing for my walk down the aisle, I have read back through our emails and blogs and I just can't believe what God has done.  He has paved the way for us the whole way.  He has opened doors and closed doors just so we could be where we are right now.  Our journey is only just beginning, and I can't wait to share with you all along the way. 

Today I am guest posting over on Tony's blog.  I am honored to post for him because I am his biggest fan.  He's kindof a big deal.  So click right here and see what I have to say about changing my last name.



Monday, October 3, 2011

Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression...


I never know when it’s going to happen.  Sometimes it will hit me when I am in the middle of laughing at a joke.  All-of-a-sudden, I’ll feel a million miles away even though I am, physically, still in the same location.  I feel totally alone even though I am surrounded by people.   I look at the people I know and I feel like I don’t know them anymore.   The feeling of panic starts like a wave.  It grows in momentum until it finally comes crashing down on me.  I break out into a cold sweat.  My fight or flight response has been activated for no real reason.  I want to run, but I don’t want to freak everyone out or look like a crazy person.  It takes every drop of energy I have to not run.  The world seems to close in on me; wrap itself around me and squeeze so hard I can barely breathe.  I wish I could just unzip my skin and run out of the body that has me trapped inside.  The inability to calm myself down or talk myself out of this makes me feel like I am on a runaway train.  My stomach starts cramping and I get hot.  More sweating...

If you would like to read more of my story then I invite you to hop on over here to grab yourself a copy of Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression.   My friend, Alise Write, has published this amazing book that compiles the stories of people that are dealing with depression.  Even if you've never struggled with depression or anxiety in your own life, this book can give you a better understanding of the people in your life that do or did.  No one story is the same.  There isn't a simple answer to the question, "How do I make it better?".  But there is comfort found in the fact that you or the one's you love are not alone in how they feel.  This book breaks the chains of depression by bringing the truth of the struggle into the light.  

And if that doesn't make you want to buy a one because my name's in it.  And that's super awesome.



Saturday, September 24, 2011

He is worth it...

Today's post is part of a community response to Tamara's "What's a Girl Worth" blog post.  The response has been more than amazing, so please go and check out the other blog posts.  As I am getting ready to get married, I have once again come face-to-face with my past hurts.  The things I thought were dead and buried were really just in a coma.  I've had to take these hurts back to Jesus and face things again, forgive again, and heal again.  Tony has been so amazing throughout all this.  I know I say that all the time.  But that's because it's true.  I haven't wanted to share much details about my past via my blog, not out of shame or because I can't talk about it, but for two reasons: 1) I don't like to victimize myself, 2) I have completely forgiven the people involved and want nothing more than blessings, grace, and love in their lives.  

But, sometimes in order to bring healing we have to let the darkness out into the light.  

Today I am going to share some of past with you.  I pray that this bring healing to myself and to anyone that reads it.  

I was a pretty naive kid much of my life.  I didn't learn about the birds and the bees until my fifth grade sex ed class.  My mom and dad (forced by my mom)  talked with me when I got home from school to make sure I didn't have any questions.  Not surprisingly I had lots of questions.  I guess passing tampons and condoms around the classroom and showing a B level music video left a little too much to the imagination.  When I found out the mechanics of it all I promised my mom and dad that I would never EVER do that.  I cried thinking about it.  I even hand wrote a contract with drawing paper and pen that stated my aforementioned intentions of never engaging in such a seemingly violating act.  Why on Earth a woman would ever put something inside her body, made no sense to me.  I made my mom and my dad (whilst blushing, yet, I'm sure, relieved) sign my no-sex for life contract.  

Oh, how things change.

I was never the cool kid growing up and by the time 7th grade rolled around I had gotten tired of not being noticed.  I wanted guys to like me.  While all my girlfriends were playing 7 minutes in Heaven and Spin the Bottle, I was at home with my parents reading R.L. Stine books, watching Caroline's Comedy Hour on A&E,  and putting wax on my braces.  

Being a nerd already, I was really great at learning and observing.  I observed that guys liked girls that were cheerleaders, or wore shirts that showed their tummies (hello 1995!), or had long hair, and more importantly....didn't have big glasses (stuck behind a book), baggy clothes, and Hermoine-like hair.

After my recon mission I finally realized what I needed to do.  I told my mom that I wanted to go shopping for all new clothes.  I wanted to get contacts.  I wanted to wear makeup.  I wanted to try out for cheerleading.  I wanted to get my hair straightened and highlighted.  I wanted to be someone that would turn heads.

I had taken note of all the things that guys seemed to like and I became that girl.  The nerdy Katie with a heart for saving the world, reading, writing, drawing, making people laugh, and playing in the dirt faded into oblivion, while the newer, blonder Katie took over.  

Boy, did my plan work.  I made the cheerleading squad.  I got into the clique of cool girls.  Reapplied my red lipstick in the hall after every class.  I even got over my fear of sticking my finger in my eye so I could wear contacts.  I had long since stopped eating so that I could be skinny. And, I had a boyfriend on the football team.  

One that had roaming hands and a foul mouth.

All the innocence I had slowly started to fade away.  In a short time, I had gone from innocent nerd to becoming the cheerleader that let her football player boyfriend crawl under the bus seats and do things to her in the dark.

I was 14.

My boyfriend after that was a super great guy.  He actually restored a little of my dignity.   He was the first person to bring me to church and youth group.  Too bad I was so concerned about being noticed by him that I didn't spend a second listening about the Man that was already pursuing me.  

Then he and I made a bad decision.  I gave myself away to him at the age of 15.  Everyone in the whole school knew about it by Monday morning.  I got looks from the older guys.  Those looks that asked "Can I be next?" The girls would smile at me and then turn and whisper.  Some of the braver ones asked me what it was like.  They were all doing the same thing according to rumors.  However, I felt horrible about myself.  Eventually it ruined our relationship and before I knew it the guy I thought I would marry one day was gone and replaced by someone else.

Things started to look up when, my freshman year, at the age of 16 a guy that had just graduated and was super popular started to call me.  I was shy at first.  He asked me on a date.  I had never been on a date before.  That date to the movies ended with us parked at the City Park in the darkness.  Expectation hanging in the air thick like molasses.  "Come on.  Why so shy?"  I gave in to the pressure.  Our next "date" was in the basement of a friend's house where there was supposed to be a party.  I gave myself away again that night on the cold, wet basement floor thinking that I would walk into the light of day with a boyfriend.  A beautiful, popular one.

Instead of a boyfriend, I got rejection.  I didn't hear from him for weeks.  I called. I pursued.  I cried.  I waited.  Finally, a call back.  A conversation that ended with "Oh, did you think we were dating?  No.  We were just having some fun, ya know."  

That day turned a corner for me.  I had never drank before. I had never gone to parties before.  Sure, I had given away my body, but I took solace in the fact that at least I wasn't one of those drunk ridiculous girls.  

Until I saw that guys paid attention to the drunk ridiculous girls.

So I started going to parties.

That's where I met him.  The guy that I would date off and on for the next ten years of my life.  The guy that ripped what little bit of innocence and hope their was left in me and drug me with him into the darkness.

I don't really want to go into detail here, but suffice it to say these were years filled with pain.

I wish he was the only guy that ripped me apart.  There were others.

Guys that were supposed to be my friends.  Guys that took my innocence.  Guys that ripped my clothes from my body.  Guys from church that misrepresented Jesus to me.  Guys that said lovely things to me and encouraged me to like them only to have them introduce me to their girlfriends.  Guys that weren't right for me, but for their own selfish reasons said and did anything they could to obtain and keep me.  Guys that reinforced the lie that I am only worth what's between my legs and in my bra.  Guys that touched wasn't theirs.   Guys that looked at me like a piece of meat and made me feel ashamed.  Guys that didn't care who I was, and just wanted me to fit into their mold.  Guys that demanded I shrink back.  Guys that didn't protect me.  Guys that didn't cherish me.  Guys that didn't respect me.

I forgive them all.  I take back what they stole.  I give back whatever darkness they gave me.

You see, Jesus is my protector.

He is that Daddy at the front door with a shot gun that says, "You aren't going to TOUCH my daughter."  My Daddy gets really upset when I'm hurt.  He and I have done lots and lots of hard work on my precious heart and He defends it to the death.  

Over the last 4 years, Jesus has walked with me back through the hurt.  He showed me where He was and how He felt as I was being screamed at and called horrible names.  For so many years I didn't believe in God because I felt like if He were real then I wouldn't laying on this bed in my room wanting once again to die just to get away from the pain.  The God I knew was some far off man with a beard floating somewhere above the clouds....far away from me and my mess.  Jesus was some guy that smiled at me all Mona-Lisa-like from stained glass windows.  The Holy Spirit was just one of those church words that people said all the time to sound holy.  

When I asked Him where the hell He was while I was dying inside.....He showed me.  I didn't believe Him at first, but He showed me.  I may not understand why some of it had to happen.  But, I do understand that God Himself led me out of the wilderness.  

Now I know my way, and can lead other people through.

What am I worth?  

I am worth a battle.  Jesus fought for and continues to fight for my heart.   He raised His sword of Truth against all the lies I've believed.  He's not like the little boys on the play ground that eventually get tired of chasing me.   He never gets tired of rescuing me. 

I am priceless.  My Man has a place for the kingdom of Earth as well as in Heaven.  My purpose for being born is one that no one else can provide.  My life matters.  All my scars are beautiful battle wounds to a God that has redeemed and restored me.

I am worth the blood, tears, sweat, pain, and LIFE of the God who died so that I wouldn't have to live my life in the darkness. 

And now I give up my whole life for Him.  For my Jesus.  For the man that saved my life.  For the man that looks at me like I am pure and white as snow.  I almost wish there was such a thing as reincarnation so that I could give my life to Him again and again.  

Because....HE is worth it.  




Sunday, September 18, 2011

My man...

Let me tell you about my man...

I want to tell you about the man I've fallen totally, completely, head over heels in love with.  I want to tell you about him because I want you to understand why I am willing to move to Florida for him.  I want you to know what makes him different than any other man I've ever met.  

In the big scheme of things, I haven't know him very long.  When I first met him I wasn't sure what to think.  I've been through a lot in my life and I didn't want to trust him.  So many people said great things about him and when I read his words I wanted to believe he was who he seemed to be.  But no matter how much I wanted to believe all the wonderful things, it all seemed too good to be true.  I've had especially...say lots of great things, be nice to me, say they'll never leave me or hurt me...and then they do.  Why should I trust him?  What if he let me down too?  What then!?  What if he wasn't for real and I just banked everything on him?

I was cautious at first, to be sure.  I didn't want to tell anyone I was talking to him because I didn't want them to think I was crazy.  I took my time and got to know him.   It wasn't until I was sure how I felt about him that I could tell people about our relationship. 

Each time he would get close to me, I would push him away because I was afraid.  

But he didn't give up on me.

He pursued me.

He would tell me how amazing I am, how beautiful I am, and how happy he is to just get to spend time with me.  He let me take my time and made sure I didn't feel that there were any expectations on me.  
When he told me he loved me, I couldn't understand how he could.  He is so good, and I....well, I've made lots of mistakes.  When he would say he loved me, I knew I loved him too, but I didn't really understand how I could since I really didn't know him that well yet.

He's just so easy to love.

Even though it's only been a short time, our relationship has grown so fast.  He is my best friend.  I can tell him anything and he still loves me and accepts me.  I can be mad at him, or grumpy, or tell him I don't like his decision...and he still loves me.  He has stood by me and held me up while I faced some really hard things.  For a while I kept thinking that he was going to leave or go away because it (or more accurately I) was just too much.  But time and again he has proven himself stronger than I ever thought he could be.  I know this might sound crazy, but I think he loves me even more when I tell him about my brokenness and my mistakes.  

My man is one of a kind.

I share myself and he shares himself.  He tells me his dreams.  I tell him mine.  He tells me about the people that he loves and how he wants to bring healing, love, grace, mercy, justice, and compassion to a hurting world.  The more he tells me about his heart, the more I fall desperately in love with him.  The more he shows me how much I melt his heart, the more I feel comfortable crawling into his arms and finding rest, peace, and a safe place.  The way he looks at me and thinks about makes me blush.  Sometimes I feel unworthy of all his love, but most of the time I see the Katie that he sees and I understand why he's so....into me. :)

He makes me feel beautiful, cherished, honored, and respected.  He shows me that I am an irreplaceable partner in what he dreams of doing.

The closer I get to my man, the more "me" I feel.   I see myself the way he sees me.  The more I trust my man and let him love me, the more I am able to open my scarred heart and let love flow out to those around me.  

He gives me confidence.

My man and I make a perfect couple.  Together we will change the whole world.  Together we are unstoppable.   

I can barely remember what it felt like to live life without him, even though I haven't known him long.  It may make me vulnerable to put so much trust in someone that I would leave my plans behind just to follow him to Florida.  But if you know him, you understand why I would follow him wherever he goes.  

I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with him.  Each day with him is full of adventure and surprises.  Some days I don't appreciate him.  Some days I ignore him.  But he is patient with me.  He waits.

He just....loves me.

Are you jealous yet?  

Don't be.

My man is available to you too.

His name is Jesus.

Did you think I was talking about Tony?

Don't get me wrong.  Tony is so freakin' awesome that I can't even begin to tell you how thankful I am for him. But it's because of my man Jesus that I am able to love Tony and that Tony is able to love me.  Tony loves me in many of the same ways that I described above, but that is only because he loved Jesus first.  

I've known Jesus for only about 5 of the 30 years I've been alive, but Jesus has always known me.  


Like before time began he knew I was going to almost get caught stealing eyeshadow from Dollar General when I was 15.

He is still so proud of me even when I'm not proud of myself.

He has stood by me, held me, and protected me even when I was living a life far from him....denying him...mocking him and his believers.   When I first met Jesus and heard about him I was an atheist that wanted nothing to do with God.  But...there was just something about this man...Jesus.  The more tough questions I asked, the more God was faithful to reveal Himself to me.  He's not afraid of our questions, friends.  He's not afraid of our sin. He doesn't look at us and say, "Whoa there....that's just too far!  You're disqualified until you get it right."  His love is so full of grace and mercy that many of us run from it simply because the truth of it is so overwhelming.  We would rather be cynical than venture towards that painful, yet beautiful light.  

If you've never met Jesus...let me tell you something. He's not who you think He is.  

You judge Him based on His imperfect church.  You say that you don't want anything to do with him because your neighbor goes to church and yet lets his dog crap on your lawn every day and leaves it there for you to step in.  You ignore his pursuit of you because some people that call themselves Christians told you that you shouldn't cuss, or drink, or wear certain clothes and that pissed you off.   You shut Him down because His followers offend you.

But let me tell you about my man...

He is worth a look.  He is worth a few seconds out of your life to say "Hey Jesus...I don't know if you're real, but I've heard that you're kinda awesome. If that's true, I want to find out.  Let's meet up."  I promise you...if you seek the truth about will find it.  You can read about Him and research Him, but He'll finally reveal Himself to you in the one place where no one else can go but Him...your heart.  

I love my man.  And my man loves me.  Wherever He is...that's where I'll be.  


His woman

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What Dreams May Come...

Its hard to come up with an opening line after taking so much time off from writing.  It needs to be great.  It needs to be so amazing that you'll forgive and forget that I ever left you for a moment.

Here are some of the ones I've erased:

"Man, have I missed you guys!" - True...but not good enough.
"What's up with all this crazy weather!?" - Seriously!?  I'm not going to be one of those people that talks about the weather because I don't now what to say.  Next!
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." - Also true, but I decided not to plagiarize. 
"A horse, a priest, and a one-legged cowboy with a lisp walk into a bar...." - I know it sounds like it's going somewhere super hilarious, but trust me, it's only going downhill from here.

The big question is, where do I begin?  Should I tell you about my new job?  Should I tell you about all the changes that have been taking place in my life?  Should I tell you a clever, entertaining story that will change your life forever!?

Instead of deciding, I'm just going to tell a life-changing story about my new job and how it's brought changes into my life.  Sound good?

In order to tell this story properly, I'm going to have to do a little rewind.  This story starts back in April when I came to Florida to visit Tony.   

We had only really known each other for a few months and had only seen each other in person one time before that.  I came down with the intention of just getting to know Tony better, and somehow left feeling like I am supposed to move to Florida to be with him.  It seemed crazy, sure, but I just....knew.  When I got back to WV several of my Facebook friends had commented on my status about my trip to FL telling me to have fun, asking me where I was going, etc.   One of those people was Dr. David Bogue.  My current employer.  

Dr. Bogue and I met years ago when he was a Plastic Surgery resident at Georgetown University Hospital and I worked for his program director, Dr. Stephen Baker.   Dr. Bogue and I became Facebook friends and kept in touch here and there over the years.   I forgot he started his private practice in South Florida until he commented on my status.  

I wrote him back to tell him that I was in his neck of the woods visiting my boyfriend.  The conversation that followed ended with a job interview.  When I told him that I was considering moving to South FL, I jokingly added, "just in case you need someone to work in your office, " I never imagined that he would write back and tell me that he, in fact, did need someone.

I learned that Dr. Daniel O'Hara shares his practice office space with Dr. Bogue and that although they are two separate practices they share the space and they share staff.   They had been looking for someone to hire for months and didn't find anyone.  A week after our initial conversation I had a phone interview with Dr. O'Hara and their office manager, Jessie.  They told me they were interested and were going to get my offer together and call me in a few days.  

I was all sold out for this job.  I didn't have to try or strain.  This fell right into my lap.  I felt like this was a confirmation from God that I am supposed to move to FL. God was opening a door for me and all I had to do was walk through it.

This is where my story takes a turn.

About a week later I was presented an opportunity to stay in WV and work with Young Life.

If you've read my blog much, or if you know me in real life, then you know that God has given me a desire to work with teens and young adults.  A burning desire.  He also has given me heart for my homestate of WV.  Every time I think of WV I get misty-eyed.  I dream of it at night.  To me there is nothing more beautiful than WV and the people that live there.  This opportunity that was presented to me basically sounded like everything I had been waiting for and preparing for all these years.  I would get to stay in my homestate and make it better by helping the youth.  I would get to work in full-time ministry.  It was also just landing right in my lap without me even trying.   

But what about Tony!?  What about moving to FL to be with him?  What about the job with Dr. Bogue?

If I would have asked people for their opinions I am sure I would have gotten all kinds.  But I knew that this decision I was to make would have to be made by me alone.  Well-meaning people could possibly guide me in the wrong direction.  So, I took it up with God.

This is going to make me look like a selfish, ungrateful brat...probably because that was what I being, but I was mad that God had given me two super amazing opportunities at the exact same time.  What was He thinking?!!  I kept begging Him to tell me what to do.  Begging for a sign; wonder; miracle; billboard; anything!!  But He did no such thing.

At first I didn't understand why God wasn't telling me what to do, but as time went on without a peep from Him... I realized why.

He trusts me.

I could make whatever decision I felt was best and even if every person around me was upset or thought I was stupid or making mistake, it wouldn't matter because my Daddy trusts me.

Tony was so amazing throughout this process.  Never once did he try and push anything on me.  All he did was listen. He didn't let fear cause him to try and sway me to come to FL.  You know why!?  Because Tony trusts me.  He trusts that I hear from God and that whatever I decide it will be what's right.

I thought I knew what I was supposed to do at one point.  Tony was getting ready to come to WV for the first time and I was going to tell him at the end of his visit that I had decided to take the job with Young Life and stay.  But before I told him I wanted him to see why.  I wanted him to see the beauty of my homestate. I wanted him to go to Young Life with me and see the need for himself.  I wanted, when I told him I was staying, for him to look at me and say, "I totally understand".  When he got there I had all kinds of things planned.  He and I took a day-long road trip through the mountains. We went on four-wheeler rides with my family.  We had food and drinks with my friends and family.  

But then something happened.

A few days into his visit, despite my goals, efforts, and plans, I finally knew what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to lay all of this down, move to Florida, work for Dr. Bogue (despite the fact that weeks had gone by without any word from them) and marry Tony.

Yep.  Just like that.

It wasn't because God finally showed me that billboard I had been waiting on. was me.  It was my heart.  It was Tony's heart.  It was our destiny together.  It was what God wants to do through us.  The bigger picture is SO much bigger than I can even imagine.  Even though I hadn't heard back from Dr. Bogue's office, I knew that God would make a way for me to find a job in Florida.  Laying down my dreams in order to go where I know I'm supposed to go doesn't mean my dreams are dead and gone.  Oh no, friends....quite to the contrary.   My dreams ARE God's dreams.  My dream is to do God's will even if I don't understand.  My dreams and God's desires for me aren't two competing things.  My heart IS His heart.  Whatever I lay down in faith to follow God where He asks me to go (even when I don't understand), will be raised up again.  Our dreams don't die when we sacrifice them to do God's will.  They lay comfortably at the feet of God where we left them; awaiting their timely resurrection.  

After I had made my decision, I told the folks at Young Life, told Tony, and then everyone else.  That was on a Monday.  On Tuesday morning, weeks after that promised phone call, I got the job offer from Dr. Bogue's office to be their Patient Treatment Coordinator.

Here I am now, starting my second month working with Dr. Bogue and Dr. O'Hara and I can clearly see why.  Dr. Bogue's speciality is breast reconstruction after breast cancer.  He is one of the best reconstructive breast surgeons in Southern Florida and he is only a few years out of his residency.  He gives women back their womanhood.  I've never worked with cancer patients before, so this has been such an amazing experience for me.  I am in the exam rooms with them, I hear their stories, I see their fear and pain, I hear the good news and the bad news, I see the scars, I see their scars disappear.  I get to hold their hands, I get to pray for them even though they may not know it.  I carry them in my heart and think about and pray for them often.  When I tell them I am praying for them, I don't just say it....I do it.  I don't have to beg God to heal them, touch them, comfort them, and carry them.  He WANTS to. He LONGS to.  He just needs someone to release His power through prayer.  That's why I'm there.  God has blessed me with the opportunity to pray for his beautiful, hurting angels.  He has broken my heart for their broken bodies.  How blessed I am.  How very very blessed I am. 

His dreams are my dreams, even when they look differently than I expected.

Man, I missed you guys!



Monday, July 18, 2011

Do Not Be Surprised...

I'm happy!

If I were a superstitious person, which I'm not,  I would be afraid to say anything about how happy I am for fear of jinxing myself.  But I'm happy and I know it and I want to smile a surely show it!!!  I may or may not also be clapping my hands.

When I was getting ready to move to Florida, I was nervous about all the unknowns.  Literally every aspect of my life was getting ready to change (again!) and I had no idea what to expect.  I would be starting a new job after not working a "real job" for the last 5 months.  I would be living in the same town as Tony after only having seen him in person a grand total of about two and a half weeks over these last five months.  I would be living in a place that has a totally different climate than I have ever lived in.  I would be around a totally different people.  I would be far away from all of my friends and family.  I would be attending a new church.  I would have to make all new friends.

It was a lot to think about.

But you know what, my transition has actually been...dare I say...easy!  The first few days were the hardest simply because it had finally hit me that everything was changing and would never be the same.  I missed my family and friends.  But after the second day, (and a good cry) I felt this overwhelming peace come over me.  When Tony asked me to marry him I said yes with peace and joy in my heart.  Before I said yes to Tony, I had said YES! to God's plan for my life and the peace that transcends all understanding fell on me like a warm, fuzzy blanket right out of the dryer.  

I started my new job last Monday and I love it (I'll tell you all more about that in another post)!  Tony's friends have made me feel welcome and loved.  His church family is amazing and I am so excited to be a part of it now.  Tony's parent's and sisters are treating me like one of the family even though, technically, I won't be an Alicea for another few months.  Tony and I are loving that we are finally in the same town and are having an awesome time learning about each other and spending time together.  

Life is GREAT!  Like, seriously super great!

This morning in church as I was worshipping, God gave me this verse:

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." 1 Peter 4:12-13
At first I thought I had heard Him wrong because right now my life is anything but a fiery ordeal (unless you count the Florida heat).  But directly after giving me that verse, He said to me...."Do not be surprised at the blessings, favor, peace, joy, and grace you are experiencing as though something strange were happening to you."


That's when I realized that in the joy I am feeling right now, I am having a really hard time expecting more awesomeness.  It's not like I'm biting my nails expecting something horrible to happen, but I do find that I am reminding myself that this joy is only temporary; so don't get too comfy.  It's when life is tough and I'm barely hanging on that I expect more joy, blessings, grace, and peace.

When life is really awesome, like it is right now, why not believe for even more?

We can get so afraid of sounding like we are preaching the Prosperity Gospel that sometimes we hold back just how much God blesses us.  God doesn't bless me exceedingly abundantly so that I can keep all the goodies for myself.  He blesses me so that I can give it away.  He wants me to give away love, joy, peace, understanding, compassion, mercy, grace, and comfort.  I can't give away what I don't have.

In John 16:33, Jesus tells us that in this life there will be troubles.  We all know that to be true.  Life is going to have it's hard times, but that shouldn't take away from the joyful times we are graced by God to experience.  If all I do is think about impending doom when life is good, then I will have nothing to give to others and I will have no joy for myself.

Do not be surprised when God blesses you.  Do not be surprised by God's power and reach.  Do not be surprised by God's love.

Expect abundant blessings and persevere through the inevitable hardships.  When life is chalked full of awesome...stop worrying about the future and be thankful for right now.

Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.


A very blessed woman

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Snapping Turtles...

I proudly snapped a few photos as the Difference Makers Church middle school/high school F.U.S.E. summer camp 2011 kicked off on June 27th, 2011 at Summit Lake Camp.  We had 112 campers this year.  56 girls and 56 boys.  Each cabin held a max of 14 kids and had at least 2 counselors.  (Shout out to Cabin 10!!!!)

As the counselors and leadership prayed in preparation for camp, we came to God with a realization that the majority of the campers this year weren't "church goin' kids".  Some of them had never been to church before and certainly had never been to a camp such as this. 

I wasn't sure what to pray at first.  A few different prayers crossed my mind.  The first one was along the lines of asking Jesus to take it easy on the newbies so they don't freak out when He shows up and take off running down the country roads of Emmitsburg, MD.  But I went ahead with my second prayer and pleaded for the Holy Spirit to waste no time crashing down into our camp like a sonic boom and laying us all out in His wake. 

He kindly obliged.

I could type for days about all the amazing touches of God I witnessed; not only in the kids lives, but in my own.  It's amazing what God will do when you invite Him in.

I think one story sorta sums things up pretty well.  It's a story about snapping turtles.

Summit Lake

We weren't allowed to swim in the lake because it was full of snakes and snapping turtles.  That didn't stop a few brave souls from throwing caution to the wind and hopping in anyway.  Instead of swimming, we could fish off the peer or ride around in paddle boats.  At the beginning of camp it became a goal of few of the guys to catch a snapping turtle.  Just when they would almost get him....he would get away.  The desire to catch a snapping turtle spread and more kids were headed to the paddle boats to see if they could get a chance to catch one.  They wanted so badly to catch one that they would even get together and pray before heading out.   The more illusive the turtles became, the harder they would chase.  One day, a few of the kids almost had one and then just as they were about to grab it, someone in their boat scared it away by opening a slim jim.  Classic mistake.  

As the last hours of camp winded down, Kirk told the kids to go out and walk around the camp grounds one last time and spend some quiet time with God.  Pastor Clark's son, Caleb, decided to head back down to the lake one last time and skip a few rocks.  He picked up a good sized rock and just as he was about to toss it across the top of the water, he felt something scratch his skin.  He looked in his hand and discovered a baby snapping turtle.  When all the campers heard about what Caleb had found they were absolutely stunned.  Of all the crazy things that happened to them that week, they were totally floored that someone actually got a snapping turtle.

It may seem like a little thing at first...catching a snapping turtle.  After all the miracles that week, why would catching a baby snapping turtle make these kids go slack jawed?  It's because they got to see that God cares about every prayer and desire of your heart.  These kids prayed some serious prayers that week.  They prayed for healings from cancer and addiction; they prayed for new hearts and minds; they prayed for broken families and past wounds.  They prayed these prayers with tears of desperation falling down their cheeks.  They risked trusting God with their most private fears, struggles, and desires.  When they saw that He is able to hear and answer even the smallest of the prayers that they sent up to Heaven, their seed of faith got watered with a little more hope.  

I thank God so much for that snapping turtle.  He said so much with such a small gesture.  

As much as those kids chased after the snapping turtles that week, God gave one to them when they weren't even trying.  I love that.  The more we chase things in our own strength, the further away they seem to get.  God delights in giving us the desires of our hearts, but sometimes they don't come in the time and in the way we thought they's always better when He brings it to us.

My deepest prayer is that the kids grab onto what happened last week like it's the last life preserver on a sinking boat.  I pray that when life is hard and they feel like God isn't there, they turn to those moments of truth they experienced at Summit Lake.  I pray the same for myself.  

I feel blessed and honored to have shared the week with so many amazing leaders and campers.  I am forever changed.  The burden that I have for the lives of our young people grew even heavier last week. I thank God for that burden.  I will carry it until Jesus sees fit to bring me Home.

I'll leave you with a few pics of our week:

Nell and me dressing up like Ke$sha (Nell)  and Katy Perry (me)

More like Katy Scary instead of Perry

Ah, the beloved bullhorn.  Coveted by all leaders.

The Sharks!

Some of my Cabin 10 ladies!

Rock Star night!

Yep, that's my Pastor.  Yep, he took rock star night really seriously.



What are some things you've chased, that God brought to you when you stopped chasing them and started seeking Him?  Did you go to summer camp?  Talk to me...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My True Bollywood Story: Part III...

Tony and me about to set out on our 18 hour road trip adventure!! :)

Today, I'm writing to you from Sunny (okay it's a little rainy today) Florida!  

I'm here!!  I'm here!

I have so much to tell you.  F.U.S.E camp was kick AWESOME in every way.  I can't wait to tell you all about it.   The 18 hour UHaul drive from WV to Florida with Tony was also surprisingly awesome.

But today, I'm going to tell a different story.  

Today we're going to turn to another chapter in My True Bollywood Story.

My True Bollywood Story: Part III

I can't tell you how many conversations I've had with my girlfriends regarding boys and relationships over the course of a lifetime.  If there are world records for such things, I think at one time, we probably broke all of them without batting an eye.  We would laugh, cry, and struggle together through each heartache and painful moment; each rejection and cringeworthy date.  (One day I think we'll write a book compiling all of our favorite dating horror stories.)

After 4 years of a boyfriendless existence, my parents worried aloud to me as I told them that I refuse to just "get out there" so that I can meet my soul mate.  I told them what I had to tell myself over and over again....He'll find me while I'm living my life for Jesus.  The End.

I would tell people what I wanted and what I was waiting for and they would tell me over and over again that that guy doesn't exist.  

They meant well.  I know they did.  

But I'm stubborn.

So I waited.

I hoped.

I had faith....even though it truly was the size of a mustard seed.

And in God's timing, Tony found me!!!  That guy DOES exist!!!!  

Or more accurately...Tony found my blog.  

It's been 7 months since he first wrote a comment on my blog.  

It's been 5.5 months since we started our whirlwind long distance relationship.

It's been 3 months since he told me he loved me for the first time while we were standing in the waves at Deerfield Beach, FL.

And....It's been 2 days since he asked me to marry him...

He liked it so he put a ring on it....

I hate to ruin the end of the proposal story, but....I said YES!!!

I knew we were getting engaged when I decided to move to Florida, but Tony somehow managed to totally surprise me with his proposal.

I know you're just dying to know how he did it, and I'm dying to tell you, so here goes:

Sometime during our loooong drive down, Tony mentioned to me that his best friend, Andy, was having a 4th of July party at the beach in front of his place on Monday evening.  

Even though I was still totally exhausted, and I am sure Tony was as well, I couldn't wait to see the ocean and stick my feet in the sand!

When we got to the beach, Tony and I walked around looking for Andy's party and couldn't seem to find them.

We walked down closer to the water  where the sand was harder and easier to walk on.  

We kept walking for a minute but couldn't seem to find them.

I wondered aloud where they might be as Tony scanned the beach for them.

After a few minutes of joking about throwing me in the water, Tony finally said, "If I'm being completely honest....they're not here."

"Really!?  Why?" I said with a confused look on my face.

"Well, I really just wanted to bring you to the beach."

I didn't say anything, but my first thought when he said that was, "Well, why didn't you just tell me you wanted to go to the beach with me instead of making up a story about Andy's party...?"  But before I could form that thought into an audible sentence, Tony said, "I just know how much you love the beach.  It's the first place I told you that I loved you, so I figure it's the perfect place to propose to you."

I jumped back, threw my hands up over my smiling mouth, and said, "NO WAY!!!! Oh my gosh...NO WAY!!!!"

Tony reached into his pocket, pulled out a little, shiny wood box, got down on one knee, opened the box to reveal the most beautiful ring in all creation, and......proposed to me!!!

I said YES and he stood up and kissed me.  Well, he actually kissed my teeth because I couldn't quit smiling!  

It ended up that there actually was a party at Andy's so we were met with tons of hugs and congratulations when we finally arrived.  That night we all sat out on the beach and watched the 4th of July fireworks explode over the warm waters of the Atlantic.  

As the sand around us lit up blue, green, and red, I looked over at Tony and thought to myself, "Look what God can do for you when you only believe enough to put one foot in front of the other!  Look how good and faithful He is to give us what He promises us!  How can God really love me so much that He would give me a partner in life that is custom made for me, and me for Him!?  How can His power and reach in my life be so much bigger than my fears and worries!?  This God I love and follow is truly beyond my understanding, but yet, with my permission, wants more than anything to live in me, guide me, counsel me, comfort me, hold me, discipline me, reveal truth to me, strengthen me, and fill me with love so abundant that it overflows into the lives of those around me.  His lavish love is enough to make me blush."

The ring that Tony picked out for me is completely perfect in every way.  Every where you look there is a tiny detail that makes it all the more special.  It's as if he has known me all my life and not just a few short months.   

When we let God write our story, He doesn't just give us the big desires of our heart...He gives us things we hid away deep in our hearts.  He gives us the details.  

The moral of this story is...

Following Jesus no matter where He goes or how long He takes to get there isn't always easy, fun, and is most certainly not painless, but believe's worth it.  If you are tempted to give up because you feel like God isn't answering your prayers, or you've experienced too much pain, or you're just plain tired of waiting....I encourage you to keep pressing in toward Him.  Claw, crawl, and bawl....but don't stop.  

Don't give up.  

He's there.

He is always there.

He hears every prayer, He knows your hurts, He collects every tear,......He loves you.

Please keep Tony and I in your prayers and we set down the narrow path together.  We know that marriage isn't easy, but we aren't looking for easy....we're looking for Jesus.  

Thank you for your encouragement, thoughts, and prayers!


The Future Mrs. Alicea!