Anticipating God

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jerermiah 29:11

As believers, we strive every day to find God’s will for our life and to remain within it. Some days, we do better than others.

It’s easy to think, if we know God’s will for our life, we know where he’s taking us. But that’s not always the case.

When Jesus was in The Garden of Gethsemane, he knew where the Lord was leading him. And he knew that path led to the cross. But he’s one of the few examples we’re given in the Bible where the outcome was as expected.

When Abraham took Isaac to Mt. Moriah, he expected to sacrifice his son there. It seemed inevitable that it was where God’s will was leading. (Gen. 22)

When God told Gideon to tell all of his soldiers who were afraid to go home before the battle with Midian, I’m sure it seemed like God was setting Gideon up to lose. Yet when God told Gideon to test the men and only keep those who lapped water like a dog, Gideon obeyed. It was where God’s path was leading him, and it seemed that path led to certain destruction. (Judges 7) [Read more…]

Do the Holidays Get You Down?

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

This is a repost from my company’s website, Aleweb Social Marketing. In the interest of getting the word out to as many people as possible, I wanted to share this here as well.

Two years ago, I was sitting at the Thanksgiving table feeling resentful because no one else seemed to get how much pain I was in. I wasn’t thankful. I didn’t want to celebrate. Less than a month before, I’d found out that my fiancé was dead.

Yet, because I was always the hostess, the expectation was that I would be fine doing with everything this year too. I wasn’t! I was hurting. I’d lost someone I loved less than a month before, and was still waiting to be able to bury him.

But it wasn’t just Frank’s death that overwhelmed me. It was coming this close to my dream of having someone to share my life with after so long spent alone, and having it snatched away. I was dealing with grief, feelings of betrayal, hurt that loved ones just didn’t seem to understand, confusion, and so much more.

Maybe you know someone who is hurting over the loss of a loved one right now, or that is struggling with some other loss. Or perhaps you know someone who needs to escape the trap of shame, low self-esteem, abuse, poor health or other seemingly insurmountable challenges?

It’s a lonely and debilitating place to be.

And it’s why I created The Survivors Summit. Our speakers have been there. We’ve faced hard times and challenges that seemed insurmountable at the time. Yet, each one of us not only survived, but thrived afterward.

The Survivors Summit - speaker line-up

We want to use our stories to bring hope and inspiration to those who are hurting, especially at this time of year.

Here’s a special resources page that includes important information, sample tweets, as well as posts for Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

Would you be willing to help get the word out? You can share the website privately with people you know could use it, or you can grab what you like from the resources page and spread it all over your social networks. Whatever feels best for you!

If you have a mailing list, I’ll be adding a sample e-mail as well that you can alter as you’d like.

If you’re a blogger or podcaster and want to conduct an interview before The Summit, contact us and we’ll connect you with the right people.

There’s a special discount code that will work only for the first 50 registrations. When they order their tickets or replays, have them enter “first50” as the discount code, and they’ll save 20% of whatever it is that they bought.

It would mean a lot to me if you would support me in promoting The Survivors Summit.

Acts 12:37

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.

Acts 12:37

We read in many places in the Bible about people waiting.

Abraham spent decades waiting for the Lord’s promise to him to be fulfilled, that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars.

Simeon, an old man, had waited all of his life for the coming of the Messiah since God had promised him he would see him. (Acts 2:25).

Yet, Acts 12:37 reminds us that waiting isn’t about passively doing nothing. Waiting is an active verb. Sometimes, like Abraham, we become unclear as to what it is that God would have us to do during that time.

At other times, like Simeon, we hold fast to what we know, remaining righteous and devout, trusting that the presence of the Holy Spirit will be enough to make the way plain to us. [Read more…]

Genesis 19: 17, 26

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Genesis 19: 17, 26

Sometimes, major changes in our lives come without warning and without our willing participation. The results can leave us feeling shell-shocked and unclear as to what we’re supposed to be doing next.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Lot’s wife this week. When the angels of the Lord commanded Lot and his family to leave Sodom and flee for Zoar, they gave the strict instructions not to look back. They didn’t say “don’t look back or God will turn you into a pillar of salt.”

They simply said “Don’t look back!”

How often in our lives do we waste time looking back? Thinking on the destruction or devastation that’s just been foisted on us or is soon to come, and unwilling to let go and run? We can become our own worst enemies.

As Lot and his family fled to Zoar, they were promised safe passage. The Lord was with them. No harm would come to them. All they had to do was trust and obey. [Read more…]

Philippians 4:19

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

There’s a cartoonist that I follow on Facebook named Jim Hunt. Last night, he posted a drawing of a woman sitting at her computer with a hot mug of coffee nearby, looking a bit hum-drum. The caption read: Some days, I’m reminded that my problems are quite small in the big picture… This is one of those days.

Between the bombings in Boston, the plant explosion in West, Texas, ever-mounting tension with North Korea, and the manhunt in Boston all in just this week, not to mention the rising increase in earthquakes and other natural disasters around the world, it’s been easier this week to slow down, enjoy the company of those we love, and remember that our To Do list is only useful if God’s the One writing it. [Read more…]

Matthew 26:39

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:39

As Christians we all strive to be more like Jesus. After all isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?

One of the things that I often find hardest, is when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. He’s there, it’s nighttime, and he is alone, afraid of the pain and torment that’s to come.

He stepped apart from others in order to spend time with his Father. He poured out his heart to the Father, acknowledging the fact that he was afraid and didn’t want to take the path that was set before him.

He knew what was needed, and that it had been part of God’s plan all along, and yet the idea of what lay ahead was so overwhelming to Jesus that he asked “Father, if there’s any way to take this cup from me then let it pass.”

Yet he finished that prayer with the following statement: Thy will be done. [Read more…]

1 John 4:10

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10

Being the month of Valentine’s Day, it’s only natural that our thoughts should turn to love.

It’s one of those awkward words in the English language has holds such significance and meaning, and yet is so imprecise that it creates great confusion and sometimes heartache as well.

In the Greek, they have many different words for “love” to connote the different motivators behind it. Brotherly love, romantic love, familial love, charitable love, etc.

But what, really, is love? No matter who our love interest is, this is love… Caring enough for another person to sacrifice our wants and needs for them.

Parents do this every day, putting their hopes and dreams on hold as they learn to live vicariously through the dreams and accomplishments of their children.

Spouses do this as they recognize that someone else’s happiness completes their own. [Read more…]

Getting Swept Away by Holiday Madness?

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

This post originally appeared on one of my other blogs, but was used as well as a Word Weavers’ devotional.

I wrote the following note to my best friend recently, but I wanted to share it with you too, especially at this time of year. I don’t know about you, but I’m personally guilty of trying to cram too much into too little time and space. What’s really important to me though, and what I’m trying to convey through this flurry of activity and spending, is my love for the people I hold dearest. So, why do I make it so complicated?

Hmm… I’m sitting on the plane, trying to work on my intro presentation for Thursday. I’m pulling together some material that I think is pretty good. If nothing else, it’ll be entertaining while giving them a sense of who I am and what I do…

When I got to the airport and checked in, my ticket said “seat requested.” I later learned that meant that I didn’t actually have a seat on the plane, although I was confirmed to be on it. I reminded the nice lady at the gate of my request for an aisle seat, and she said she’d see what she could do. Then she cheerily handed me my new boarding pass and sent me on my way. When I saw seat 21A, I thought to myself, “that’s not an aisle seat!” But, since she hadn’t said anything, I thought maybe, somehow, it possibly could be?

As I boarded the plane, it became quickly apparent that I had a window seat. (Ugh!) The two seats next to me stayed empty for quite awhile, even as the flight crew did their best to herd everyone on the plane like cattle and get them situated as quickly as possible. I began to hope that maybe the seats were free, or at the very least that when the people did come, perhaps one of them preferred the window.

When they did finally arrive, I said absolutely nothing, grateful that I had a seat and could move freely about as I chose. The wife in the couple is ill. I don’t know if it’s MS or ALS or what, but she’s having a tough time of things, and she needs the ability to get to the lavatory as quickly as she’s able when needed. Her meds are rough on her, but her husband takes very good care of her.

Then, he decided to do the same for me, saying it makes him feel useful. :-) When I opened the tray to put my computer on it, it had the remnants of someone else’s meal on it. So, he cleaned it for me while I held the laptop, which I’d already gotten out and had nowhere to go with. He was also watching over my shoulder as I worked on my presentation, commenting on what he likes. When drinks were served, he situated mine on his tray since mine was occupied with the laptop.

Rich Is Not How Much You HaveThey both settled in for a nap about 45 minutes ago. Hands tightly clasped together, arms looped. Her head on his shoulder. She periodically wakes up and runs her hand over his, feeling his chest, his heart beat, his cheek, his forearm and back to reach for his hand. Such tenderness and love. I’m ashamed of having pitied her. She is richly blessed…

As much as I’m crammed in between the window and his elbow with no room to move (and pitying sardines), I’m touched by the scene unfolding next to me and, admittedly, envious. I’m reminded of a sign I have in my office at home. It says “Rich isn’t how much you have, or where you are going, or even what you are. Rich is who you have beside you.” 

Thanks for being in my life. It certainly feels much richer because of you… Your friendship enlivens my world. Thanks for stimulating conversations, a listening ear, the freedom to be silly and all of your support. It’s special to me.

Don’t let the busyness of the season sweep you away, when what’s really important is those who stand beside you.

How are you taking time to slow down?

1 Corinthians 14:1

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

1 Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth.

I recently attended a high school talent show. My daughter was in it, and I was eager to hear her sing in front of a live audience. Watching her, I knew she was in her element.

The neat thing was, so many of the other performers were too. Whether their acts were intended to entertain, inspire, mystify or move you, each of them were in their element, using their God-given talents to make a difference in the world.

The final performance was a teenage girl dancing with a friend to Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” a tired and worn-out song if ever there was one. Yet, what made this performance so exceptional, one worthy of the standing ovation it received, was that the girl who choreographed the dance was leading her friend in the movements. This friend has Down Syndrome. But in those moments on stage, she was free to embrace who she was and flaunt it for the world to see. The joy and excitement she felt shone on her face and was palpable to the audience.

How often do we find ourselves in the midst of our passion, abandoning ourselves to the joy of the gifts God has given us? No self-consciousness. No recrimination. Just living in the eye of God’s purpose for us?

I don’t know about you, but I hate to admit, it’s not as often as it could be or should be. I’m so busy living my life that I forget to spend time reveling in the gifts and talents God has given me, and using them to proclaim His truth and glorify His name.

Watching these kids share their various talents reminded me that I need to be more mindful about not just sharing mine, but enjoying mine.

How about you? What gifts or talents did God given you that are gathering dust on the shelf of your psyche?

God’s gifts aren’t intended to be received and then packed away for another day, put some place and long-forgotten. They’re intended to bring us joy, make us feel connected to Him, and through that to give us opportunities to share Him with others.

I know we’re all here because writing is one of the gifts we share. But if that were our only gift, we’d all be the same. We’re not. So, what makes you unique? What gift did God give you? And when will you make some time to spend with it, to enjoy it?

The gifts He’s given us don’t have to be front-and-center all the time. But the feeling they leave us with, feelings of fulfillment and contentment, carried into the world, set us apart from others in this hurried and discontented world, and give us opportunities to speak of His love for us.

1 John 4:18

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

What do you fear most? As a business owner, speaker and a human being, there are times when I’m tempted to let my fears, insecurities and weakness stop me from doing big things. I think to myself, What?! Are you crazy? You can’t do that!

Like the first time I chose to call myself an author and a speaker… Who would believe that?

Or the first time I stood in front of an audience, hoping I could keep their attention for the next 45 minutes. What could I possibly have to say that they’d want to hear?

Or when I took a huge leap of faith to follow God’s prompting, even though it seemed like a ridiculously huge step to take. What if I fall flat on my face?

Or the first time I allowed myself to be vulnerable with a new friend or ask for help when I’m stuck with something. What if they won’t like me afterward?

We can always find something to be afraid of, if we allow ourselves to. Our limiting beliefs don’t come from our Heavenly Father though. He assures us that through Christ, all things are possible because of the strength He gives us.

So, where do these fears and limiting beliefs come from? They come from the One who fears our being made perfect in love; the One who knows he truly has no power over us. He can only manipulate us.

Our Heavenly Father is love perfected. When we step out in faith, trusting in the words of Phil. 4:13, He will drive away our fears. But we have to let Him.

If we cling to our fears because they are familiar and comfortable, we shortchange ourselves, and we fall short of the plan that God has for our lives.

Take that first step, not around your fears, but through them. Let Christ pour through your words, your actions and your everyday life, driving out fear and replacing it with perfect love.

It’s a choice, pure and simple. But one that’s hard to make, and life-changing once made.

I once heard someone talk about having to embrace your fears in order to get through them. I wasn’t certain at the time if I believed it or not. But having recently walked through multiple fear-filled choices, I can see now that the only way around fear is through it. Embrace it, consume it, acknowledge it, and then let it go. It will lose its hold on you as you pass through it.

It is only in this way that we can be made perfect, and our words will have the value God intended them to all along. Remember, God loves words. After all, His Son is The Word.