For the forgotten, on Mother’s Day.

A lousy excuse for an auditorium full of the least, lost and leftover. As the hundred-plus women crossed the threshold usually bound shut by a steel gate, I immediately grew heavier. You would too if an otherwise empty room suddenly filled with stories of loose-fisted boyfriends, botched abortions, rape covered up as prostitution because ‘bitch, you said you needed smack,’ and babies who never made it home from school because children services met them at dismissal.

The women filed in for lunch, carrying with them broken cigarettes shoved down dollar store brassieres, second-hand purses filled with empty wallets and near-empty liquor bottles, plastic bags for closets, and shame the size of Texas.

I mustered up all the Jesus joy I could and met them with open arms.

In return, they met me with the pungent odor of stale urine, little eye contact and hesitant smiles.

Every year my mom, sister and I serve at a local ministry’s Mother’s Day Brunch, serving, pampering and loving over 100 women, most of whom know the streets better than they know the inside of any four-walls.

And every year God takes all my white-collar rich-girl privileged-theology BS and shows me what he really meant when he said, I have come to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, to set the oppressed free. (Luke 4:18)

As I carried fruit punch, hot coffee, and full plates to my table of women, I watched the love of God overwhelm in spite of my looming judgment.

“I want one with a bigger strawberry,” she confronted me as she pushed her plate back into my hand. “Everyone else got big strawberries and my strawberry is small.”

{Is this really happening? I thought you were homeless.}

“Well, I can try and get you a plate with a different strawberry but I’m going to have to wait in that long line of servers who are also waiting to get plates for their tables.”

She stared at me, her way of saying, I don’t care – that’s your problem.

The one seated to her left came to my rescue, “Take your damn plate and stop giving this woman a hard time.”

I set the plate back down and moved on, internally shaking my head and wondering how close I had come to my first street fight. All because of a piece of fruit.

I nearly fell over when five minutes later, after all the plates had been served, one of the chefs was stopping by the tables handing out heaps of leftover strawberries. With my chin to the floor, I watched as my strawberry diva was served a mound of the delectable red fruit.

No freaking way did God just do that!

I met the fierce wave of humility as God reminded me just how much he adores these women – his intimate provision for them putting my pride and entitlement in its place. All I could do was laugh.

I found a seat next to another woman, likely my age, wearing three sweaters, a scarf and a head wrap. It was 70 degrees outside but I guess it only makes sense that the easiest way to carry all you have is to carry it on your back.

I tried to make conversation, “How many kids do you have?”

“Three. Two boys and a girl. But they all grown now.”


“I got nine. The oldest is 21. My daughter gave me him when she was eleven. We ain’t never got along – me and my daughter. She so bad. They tried to get me for her and that baby but I wouldn’t let them take him, he my grandbaby and it wasn’t my fault that damn girl couldn’t keep her legs shut.”

She was chatty now, “The daddy never in the picture. Prison. Serial killer. I fought my daughter for bringing us all into that mess.”

I stopped trying to process. I wasn’t sure if I needed to cry or vomit. I sat frozen. I swallowed the bitter disbelief that this was her actual life that she was sharing with me.

“I’m so sorry,” I muttered.

I sat unacknowledged. She began making a bed for herself on the bench we shared as she mumbled something about needing to rest her arm. She had spent lunch spiking her fruit punch with a clear liquid she pulled from her purse; it seemed that its effects were taking their toll.

That afternoon I returned to the comforts and safety of my home, the love and confidence of my family, unable to imagine where or by what means the women I had just hugged goodbye would find shelter for the night.

And God, in His wisdom, drew me to His Word. The verses that first gave us life and purpose as women.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 

Scripture continues, giving equal power and purpose to this perfect and fresh creation. And it was good. (Genesis 1:27-31)

I read and weep. The original plan – his perfect intention – for us to be equal, divinely imprinted with the likeness of our majestic creator. We were never created for oppression, to be stifled and belittled, domineered and shoved aside.

What happened, God? What happened to your creation? We were created with strength, equality, and loving purpose. However did we get here?

I wept and screamed and breathed and grieved and prayed, that we don’t know a better world for our daughters because the darkness that set in with the serpent’s tease destroyed the glorious beauty of that first Eve.

What I wouldn’t give to go back among those women, squeezing fierce their cheeks in my hands, demanding their eyes meet mine, with the words of a Father who wouldn’t stand for the story of a broken creation.

I can’t make this right, and I can’t find the sense in it, but I can promise you, with all my might, I can promise you that there is a plan for you, oh beautiful one, there is a mighty plan, and it starts with Jesus. 

Just find him, find him in this hell on earth, and hold on, don’t let go for one second, just clamp down on his hand, precious one. I don’t know the first thing about this life you’ve lived or those steps you’ve walked, but I know that there is more than enough love and grace and mercy to hold you up, my darling sister. 

Oh how I begged with God. I want abundantly more for my sisters – abundantly more restoration, redemption, healing, wholeness. Lord, please. Please hear our cries.

I close my eyes, and I begin to let go of my dreams, allowing my heart to fill vivid with the faces of those who have forgotten how to dream, and I pray a prayer that only One can answer.


My Easter Prayer

Friends –

We are a week from Easter and my heart is stirred. Truth be told, the stirring began weeks ago – something about the intentionality of Lent that always leads my heart to softening.

But today was the first day that I allowed the pace of my days to slow long enough to hear God’s voice in what otherwise felt like a bubbling up from within.

I confess, I was surprised at what God had in store for me not because of God but because of me. Too often, when I sense God is speaking to me, I assume He wants to say something to me about me when in reality He wants to uncover something more to me about HIM.

As was the case today. As I allowed myself to be still, I began to better find HIM and HIS heart.

And in His mighty glory and grace, I was reminded that He is preciously and mercilessly longing to be restored with those who are far from Him. (Ezekiel 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9) God is heartbroken for those who do not know Him. And in His grace, He began to break my heart for those as well.

God’s timing is ever so sweet – bringing me to this place at the start of this week. It’s as if God is saying – Ali! Most of the world knows about Easter Sunday but they still don’t know me! 

It’s a fascinating reality. That every store in America (and beyond) are full of joyous reminders of the new life we find in Jesus and yet we are surrounded by so very many who don’t really know Jesus. I can’t help but ask, Will we celebrate in vain? I can’t help but pray wholeheartedly for those who do not know our precious Savior and King.

And so, as we move through this holy week, I encourage you to pray for those who are lost, those who are broken, those who are least.

Maybe God is leading you to invite someone to join you at church on Sunday morning. Maybe God is leading you to serve your church knowing we find many more guests in her seats. Maybe God is leading you to simply fall to your knees, empty and open, allowing Him to fill you up in such a way that you better know His everlasting love.

May God lead you this week, to Him and to His heart. And may you find yourself living in faith as you step out for the sake of more joining His Kingdom for eternity.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.

Luke 24: 1-8

The prayer I soon regretted.

Just as soon as I prayed it, I wanted to take it back.

Jesus, humble me.

Here’s what happens when you pray that prayer:

  • You will have to run your shoeless daughter across your lawn so that she catches the bus she almost missed (your fault). You will still be in your pajamas, the ones with a huge tear in the butt, while every single one of your neighbors is now running late to work because they are having to wait for the bus that is waiting for your shoeless daughter and you in your ripped butt pjs.
  • You will run into a blind person at the store because you were not looking where you were going. He will be using his cane to guide him closely along the side of the aisle however you, though not blind, are too half-brained to pay attention.
  • You will overbook and overlook your schedule so that you miss meetings that you reschdeduled because you previously missed them.
  • Your clothes will tighten.
  • Your budget will tighten.
  • You will drop things and they will shatter.
  • You’ll excitedly discover idiotproof recipes such as 7 can soup (you don’t even have to drain the cans!) and you’ll manage to use the wrong 7 cans and your husband will politely eat the soup in silence while kindly and awkwardly smiling at you when you look to see if he’s eating it.
  • You will take your son on a bike ride and you will lose him and you will have to call the park ranger and tell him that you lost him and you will find your son playing on the playground never even phased by the fact that the entire park was looking for him.

Look, humility is a gift. It is such a wonderful gift. True pure humility – the real deal, it gives room for so much Jesus and there really is nothing better than Jesus except so much Jesus.

But praying for humility is like praying for hard. Praying for humility will produce moments of sheer suckiness. It will involve tears. It will involve swallowing pride that you didn’t even know existed – big fat ugly hard-to-swallow pride.

As I maneuver through some challenging spaces in my life, I have been heavy hearted by this prayer – the prayer for humility. I know deep down that it’s exactly where I need be focused in my dialogue with God. But I wasn’t prepared for humility’s teacher – humiliation. In my twisted self-focus, I was imagining that a prayer for humility would lead to a day when I’d wake up soft-spirited, gentler and less sassy. In my lack of humility, I expected I’d come out of this prayer and everyone would be all, “That Ali, she’s so humble.” Instead I’m literally face-to-face with my ego staring back at me, and lemme tell ya, she’s a jerk who can’t even cook 7 can soup.

In love, God’s allowed me to stumble about these last couple of weeks. Though it hasn’t been fun, it has been good. And here’s why: Joy.

Whereas normally I would encounter an embarrassing moment and feel shame, I have passed through these moments quite hysterically.

Legit – I can’t stop laughing at myself.

It’s as if God has allowed me to experience a greater sense of who I really am (not God) while simultaneously experiencing His delight in me.

I am literally falling flat on my face and while the horror of knowing the whole world just watched me make an ass of myself is only a few short inches from my nose, I manage to roll over and bust a gut because there I am, facedown before a God who loves me.


Crazy, wonderful, stupid-great joy.

Jesus has swooped in and filled otherwise shame inducing situations with the covering of his abundant love and grace – and I am reveling in that. I am walking around running into blind people with my too-tight underwear showing at the bus stop, and can’t you see? It’s a total riot.

Look, this is only the beginning. This prayer is heavy because I’ve taken stock of my greatness and realized I think I’m a bit too great. I don’t know how to rid myself of that other than to ask God to humble me.

For now, it looks a bit I Love Lucy tragic. I am grateful to be in the slapstick comedy portion of the journey though I might not be laughing at myself much longer. I suspect this journey is going to take me into the depths of my heart, exposing the areas that have been rotting for too long.

Until then, enjoy a few laughs at my expense and if you have a good soup recipe, make it yourself and give it to my husband. Heaven knows I’d only screw it up.