Standing at the sea

My stomach is creaking and groaning like planks in an old wooden porch. I am restless fingers and a timid heart. They hover above the keyboard tentative. Backspace devours the words as fast as I get them down. Nothing comes out right.

I’ve imagined what my words would look like spread out a bit more. I keep a tiny corner of the internet with a readership I know mostly by name. But I dream in those quiet hours, when the clacking of my keyboard staves off the dark, that my words might find purpose in the wider world. I’ve wondered what they would sound like stretched wider across the internet and I’ll tell you, I’m a teeny bit terrified.

I’ve always known you never arrive. You never get to a point where you look around and think, “Yes, I’ve got this whole writing thing down. I’m set.” No, if anything, the further your story goes, the scarier it is.

Last week I had two complete strangers come up to congratulate me on being a new contributor here. Real people with real faces and real stories and real lives right here in my real-life town. I smiled and thanked them. We made chit chat.  Inside I felt like a total goober.

Because even though I’ve been here before, invited to the table, asked my story, prodded along and bolstered by this community of women who are for each other in ways you cannot imagine, I still spent most of the day staring at my cursor winking at me from the blank page, like some inside joke I wasn’t aware of.

I still think other people do it better, have more to say, and are so much farther along than me.

In joining a group of women who’ve been writing and sharing their lives and stories for years with sandy toed summers at the beach house and thousands of words passed between them, it’s easy to feel a bit lost. 

The truth is (in)courage has ministered to this girl who always felt outside and other. To this girl who stood on the outside of countless circles shuffling feet awkwardly, before the days of cell phones and the ability to cushion the lonely awkwardness with a backlit screen, pretending to text some illusive friend, because the ones around you never stepped back a bit to let that circle widen. I’ve stared at the backs of heads, their stiff shoulders like an impenetrable fortress for the elite and all I’ve ever seen is the way I don’t fit. I’ve grasped at conversations like crumbs falling from the table but each attempt made me look more like the beggar I knew myself to be and my voice trailing off into silence sounded hollow and ridiculous in my own ears.

A flock of women made me a sweaty palmed mess. I felt my belonging as tentative and brittle, like aged parchment and I am the greasy fingered soul mucking up the pages when we gather. I may laugh too loud and snort or spill my drink on the good carpet, I take up too much space. I tuck myself into couches and grab throw pillows to pull over my belly, clutching them like a shield.

We tell ourselves such good lies about what we’re worth and who we matter to. 

We tell ourselves such good fiction about how our lives don’t really count for much, not in the grand scheme of things.  We’re all just so unspectacularly ordinary. We talk such a good game to keep our tongues quiet and our voices stilted.

So it’s nothing but ridiculous grace for a girl who spent lifetimes telling herself tales of insignificance to have found her voice. And even more so to find her voice matters even when it trembles. Not because of a wider space or a larger platform but because in telling my story, I’ve found a chorus of brave women penning their own freedom songs.

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Sometimes we think to make room for someone else in our circles we have to reach out. But really, more often, we just need to step back. Isn’t that always how the kingdom gets things done? Backwards and upside down. Because when we all step back, the circle widens. The gaps become apparent and the silence in between begs for us to hear each other. When we’re not so busy pushing in to belong, we step back and behold. We find we’re beloved right here with wide spaces for God to work.

You might step back and find yourself listening with your whole spirit for the heart of God. The voice that says you have a story to tell. 

Do you ever feel like your voice doesn’t matter, your story isn’t essential, your self isn’t enough? I’d invite you to step back into grace and listen for God’s truth, you are only ever beloved. You belong.

What’s your story? Will you share it this weekend at (in)RL?
{It’s not too late to sign up, you know!}

{Photos by istockphoto and Dawn Camp}

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  • http://www.justfollowingjesus.com Elizabeth Stewart

    Great post, Alia! You are an amazing woman with a unique voice and perspective and story that we all need to hear.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you Elizabeth, you’ve always been a huge encouragement right from the very first time we met. I so appreciate you.

  • http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God

    Alia,
    As a loyal, early bird, (in)courage reader, I’d like to say “Welcome”. I’m sure you were trembling as you attempted to choose which words with which to make your entrance. Let me just say, “Well done!” I truly enjoyed your first post and look forward to hearing more of your story. How true that when we step back the circle widens. I am doing some “stepping back” in my life and it is amazing to see what the Lord does to fill in the circle. Welcome friend!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thanks Bev. I do see you here commenting on posts and cheering everyone on and sharing bits of your story. We’re so thankful for you! And thank you so much for your warm welcome. You know how to make a girl feel welcome. Looking forward to getting to know you more.

  • http://www.fromhispresence.com Jamie Rohrbaugh

    Welcome! You’re going to be great! Thank you for working so hard to encourage us! Your sacrifice and labor are a beautiful thing.

    I think we’ve all felt like we don’t fit in. I sure did – and it was true, I didn’t fit in, for much of my life, until I finally figured out who I was and who God was and other stuff like that. So I totally identify! But isn’t it awesome that we have a Papa who loves us and we fit in with Him just fine–right into the palm of His hand! ;)

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Yes Jamie! Thankful for a God who never lets us down or leaves us out. And thankful for women who get that we shouldn’t either if we wanna be like Him. My heart’s desire is to be a space-maker. ;)

  • Sarah S

    “Sometimes we think to make room for someone else in our circles we have to reach out. But really, more often, we just need to step back.”

    I love this line. Thanks for sharing your struggle and story. It speaks to me.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you for sharing that, Sarah. There’s room for your story too.

  • http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com Linda@Creekside

    You’re gonna soar. Truly.

    Blessings as you do so …

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you so much, Linda.

  • http://www.robindance.me Robin Dance

    You’ve been such a consistent supporter, it feels like a natural transition, for you to join in an official capacity :). The way you string words together is something beautiful, and I know the Lord will speak to you and through you as you seek him with an eager heart.

    Welcome Miss Alia Joy!

    xo

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thanks for the always warm welcome, the gorgeous smile, and the crazy southern hugs. It must be a thing, right? I swear, no one gives hugs like a Southern woman. You were so warm at Allume and I am so glad to be part of this community.

  • http://www.jenniferdukeslee.com Jennifer Lee

    You’re a step-back kind of woman, with a “get-in-here” kind of personality. Which is why you’re a great fit for (in)courage. Oh. And that fact that you weave gold with words.

    I love you, Alia Joy. xo

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Love you too, friend.

  • ro elliott

    “When we all step back the circle widens”… I love this… and may we all step back…extending arms wider and be woman who are welcoming to all… When Jesus gives us warning of showing favoritism in James… vs 4 says… “doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?”…. we can call why we don’t reach out a lot of things… but Jesus calls it what it really is!!
    This is what I love about this space and the women here… this space shows the way to welcome all… to reach out and encourage woman to love God first and let that love reach out to others!!
    Your voice and heart will be a wonderful addition here, Alia Joy!!!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you for that, Ro.

  • http://onerebelheart.wordpress.com Kim

    Can you move to Virginia and be my next-door neighbor? I love that you are real and unflinchingly honest, and I want to sit next to you on the couch while we drink loads of coffee and hide behind throw pillows and share our stories. Sometimes when we’re standing on the outside of the circle and desperately wanting to be on the inside, we forget that the other people we want to be with are just as ordinary as we are. We are all just unspectacularly ordinary, with insecurities and failing confidence and little faith in our own worth. I’m so excited that there is another place to read your words and cannot wait to see how God uses your voice in this space!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Yes, I will. I just need to run that by my husband first. Neighbors would be FUN! We could have a longer lunch date next time. I think you’re so right. We get ideas in our heads about who is important and who is ordinary and really we’re all both. Thank you for all your encouragement, friend. Now, to find moving boxes.

  • http://graceformoms.com Jessica Wolstenholm

    So beautiful Alia!! It’s such a wonderful pleasure to know I will read your words in this space often. Cheering you on girl! You are gifted and he is using you!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thanks Jessica. Adriel and I were just talking about you the other day and how gracious you are. Thanks for your encouragement here. I appreciate you.

  • http://ashleymlarkin.com Ashley Larkin @ Draw Near

    This right here, dear friend. This is God’s beautiful work in you…taking your places of vulnerability and tenderness and old & real pain, holding it out to Jesus who makes new and continually remakes you by grace. And then? Allowing us to behold the goodness of God through your honesty and your space making…what gift! You are a glorious writer, a community builder, a truth teller, a circle opener, and I am so proud of you. So grateful to walk with you. (And Saturday….yes. I cannot wait to (in)RL it together!)

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      I love you so much, you know that right? And I know you’re taking a break online but you are so missed. So I’m so crazy excited to see you Saturday!!!!

  • http://charlottehammer.com Charlotte Hammer

    Oh yes. Me too. God spoke to me this morning through his word…”Do not despise small beginnings.” (Zech 4:10) And then your words. Such encouragement.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Small beginnings, and sometimes small middles and endings too, it seems. ;) God makes a big deal out of small. Thanks for sharing that Charlotte. Such a good reminder to be faithful right where we’re at and with what we have.

  • http://www.arearrangedlife.com Miriam

    Beautiful, Alia!!! YES!!! You do have a seat at the table, even when all of the accessible seating is taken! It’s something I’m learning too! :)

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Sometimes I think it’s so strange we have to learn belonging. That we all are born with the need to be loved and yet it can feel so illusive in life even as we are wholeheartedly loved. It’s an identity of being His we need to know. Learning right alongside you, Miriam.

  • http://www.meetyouinthemorning.blogspot.com Deanne Moore

    Love this vulnerability and this encourage to step back, and to also step in. It takes a lot of courage to do the latter when it’s tempting to stay on the couch hiding behind the pillow. So thankful to see your voice here. Beautiful and true.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thanks Deanne, I still sometimes hide in the couch with the pillow because… comfy! But yes, it’s so important to step beyond what we can do on our own. To step into God territory where we walk in faith and test out the realities of loving and making room and sharing life.

  • http://www.danalbutler.com Dana Butler

    Alia, I am so thankful that your heart and words will be a consistent find here in this place. You are an absolute treasure. Deeply blessed by you today and always.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Love you friend. Thank for being here with me. ;)

  • http://Www.winsomewoman.blogspot.com Kim Hyland

    So good, Alia. Your words took me back to my own “staring at the back of heads” days, and for a moment I could feel the once familiar hollow ache. With a full life and many dear friends, I forget that so many are still looking for someone to step back and welcome them in. Thank you for reminding us of the gift of our friendship and how it’s always available to share.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      So thankful for you, Kim. Yes the back of heads is no fun. I always have those memories etched in because the back of my own head isn’t so great to look at either. I want to make sure I’m not closing a circle that should be left wide. And in the process, I’ve been blessed with an amazing group of deep friendships and kindred souls.

  • http://gratefulamazement.wordpress.com Laura

    So so so happy for your new assignment here! And for the vulnerability and honesty and bravery you model through your tender, raw, honest words. Thank you for them…they are resonating in my Outsider Heart this morning. xoxo

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Oh that makes my morning, Laura. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how much that aches. How much I wish no one felt that kind of pain, wondering why you never seem to belong. But you do. You have a place. Right here, there’s so much room.

  • http://www.encouragingworkingmoms.com Amanda

    Welcome, Alia!! I’m so glad you are writing in this space. You have a beautiful way with words, and I feel my own longings in what you wrote. I’ve struggled with the same insecurities over the years, and over time God is bringing me grace and boldness to step back and let people in. I’m excited for what He will do at inRL this weekend!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      YAY! I’m excited for you to take that step back and see what He will do as you gather. SO fun! Thanks for the warm welcome and the glimpse of your story. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make room.

  • Danyalle

    Thank you for this. I love this community and all the bloggers here. So glad you have joined them.
    Your story here sounds like mine. I never really fit in to anyone’s circle… My sweet sister would squeeze me into hers when she could.
    But then Papa gave me a circle of friends, and we did just what you share. We made room for others. It is a cool thing when we can do that.
    Can’t wait to hear more of your story! :)

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      I love that you found a circle and the path to that was making room. It is so cool to make friendships and see God work in the spaces. Thanks for the warm welcome. I’m so glad to be part of this community sharing my story with you guys.

  • http://www.beyondborders.me Shelly R

    Your inaugural post spelled out my life watching heads from behind. With two special needs kids and chronic illness there are no circles here that are willing to widen to let me in., but gid has given me two special friends who leave on opposite side of the country from me. And I’m good with that. But I long for the in real life standing right in front if me kind if friend. Thank you for your story today. So encouraging.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Oh Shelly, I’m so sorry that those real life things have kept you isolated. I had struggled with chronic illness when I was first married and those years were so lonely. I just never knew when or if I would be able to do things. Friendships were so hard to manage. I’m thankful there are ways to connect online and that God has provided friendships for you but I totally get that it doesn’t feel the same as face to face sharing life. Praying you would feel God’s presence powerfully today and that in His perfect timing, provide space and friendships that would be such huge blessings to you.

  • http://inspiredrd.com Alysa

    I love your heart and your writing. I have felt this way many times before, most recently in Austin (at IF).

    “I still think other people do it better, have more to say, and are so much farther along than me.”

    Tell your story, girl. We need to hear it.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thanks Alysa. We tell ourselves such good lies, don’t we? We all do it. But with each telling, I’m finding that my voice gets stronger. The lies come less often. Sometimes we just need to shake it off and do it anyway. Thanks for your encouragement. I appreciate it so much.

  • http://www.lisajobaker.com Lisa-Jo

    You step back for SO many of us Alia. Your blog might be the most generous, inclusive place on the Internet. How you share, how you champion, how you never tire of telling the stories of your friends. I am humbled by you and I’ve learned from you and I’m insanely grateful to know you.

    LJ

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      That means the world to me, Lisa Jo. I want it to always be a safe space for women and I’m so glad you feel that it is. God really has given me the best friends. Totally blown me away kind of community. Who knew this never belonging girl would find a home online and in turn that would translate to being brave in real life? God is good.

  • http://hopehearthome.com Susan Shipe

    Causes me to step back and join…

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Yes!!!

  • http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com Liz Curtis Higgs

    So appreciate your honest and generous heart, Alia. The Lord goes before you and behind you. You are in very good hands, dear sister. And this? “When we all step back, the circle widens.” Serious wisdom.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you so much, Liz. Can’t wait to get to know you more. I love that image of the Lord surrounding and holding me in the palm of His hand. It makes me brave.

  • Jennifer Ross

    Choked up and challenged! When will I ever learn that mornings are not the best time to read Alia posts! There goes my day! Love you! Love your writing! Love what God is doing in your life (and now mine)!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      So sorry. Love you too, friend. I was so glad we got to sit in the car until all hours of morning talking like old times but it was seriously not long enough. Miss you, already.

      • Jennifer Ross

        Ditto..a million times…ditto!

  • http://marinaskitchentable.blogspot.com Marina Bromley

    ((hug))
    You’re doing just great!! :)

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Oh, you give the best hugs, Marina. Thank you.

  • http://www.brigettaschwaiger.com Brigetta

    Life giving words- when we all step back, the circle widens. Huge application for that one as one who has been both inside and outside the circle. xo

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Yes, and sometimes I think God lets us taste both so we always remember what it feels like and so we know we have a choice to make in how we humble ourselves and make room.

  • Kim J

    Welcome. I so enjoyed your writing today and the part that said” I don’t fit”. Amazing how we as women feel that way. I have several chronic illnesses and feel that way often. When friends will ask to do things and once again I have to say no. After saying no so many times, the invites become less and less, and yes it hurts to not fit. Thankfully Jesus is the perfect fit and his invitation is one that I can accept. I can sit with him and talk and he understands what others have a hard time understanding. Thank you for your words today!!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thanks for sharing some of your story, Kim. That is such a beautiful place to be. Resting in God’s presence knowing full well you belong to Him. It is so hard to be chronically ill and unable to join in the way others can so freely. But it also gives you so much understanding for those who aren’t able to join because they weren’t invited and those who are afraid to because they’ve been wounded. You are able to have a unique perspective because you’re walking close to God and leaning on Him to fill those empty spaces. And really, when it’s all said and done, we love community and friendships are a gift but no amount of girl nights and invitations and being one of the circle will ever fill the hole we have for God to be our all in all. His love never fails.

  • Joanne Peterson

    Wonderful Alia. Inclusiveness in belonging, in being seen, heard, accepted, loved. Allowed to have a voice and affirmation. Then we all become richer. Thank you!

    Joanne

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      So much richer, yes. Thanks Joanne.

  • http://praylivecreate.com Kim

    Alia – Thanks for sharing this and being so open and vulnerable. I’ve loved following along with your writing even though I’m not able to comment as often as I’d like. I was so happy to see you as a new contributor!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you Kim. I totally get it. I often read on my phone in the margins of my day and my fingers are way too clumsy to comment without accidentally offending people with typos and random spelling so yeah, no worries. But thank you so much for reading and following along anyhow. I love that.

  • http://whimsywords.blogspot.com Julie Wilson

    Alia,

    so delighted to see your face and and looking forward to reading your words here regularly! Your writing is such a blessing and encouragment to me. My blog has been sitting stagnent for a bit now, but I am praying that the words will come and I so needed the reminder to step back and look for God’s grace. I have done that some this month, and I will continue to do so.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Yes, step back into that grace, friend. I took over two months off when I came back from Africa. This is the only post I’ve written all week. Often, I can’t write every week and do the other things God’s called me to do. Sometimes we need margin and to let things go and rest in God’s timing and sometimes we need to step up and work hard and use our voice and there’s a wisdom in knowing which is which. That takes sitting with Jesus and letting Him fill us. Praying you find the words and the timing to do what He’s made you to do. Thankful for you, friend.

  • http://www.myhearthiswords.com Satin

    Wow Alia, I certainly can relate! Loved your post & look forward to reading more from you! Welcome to (IN)Courage!! ♥

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you, Satin. I’m glad it spoke to you.

  • http://abidingloveaboundinggrace.blogspot.com/ ~Karrilee~

    I love you and how you step back and make room and wrap arms and words and warmth around shoulders and hearts… plus, JUNE! (Insert the rest of Gushy comment here!)

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      You always make me laugh. If SMH stood for so many hugs, like I thought it did, I’d use that here. But since it in fact, does not, I will just say, yes JUNE!

  • http://www.jacquewatkins.com Jacque Watkins

    Oh Alia..THIS—>”when we all step back, the circle widens…with wide spaces for God to work…” SO much yes to that. You are brave and heart-beautiful, leading us on to step back and look lower as we open ourselves to be used by Him. I am SO happy for the beauty and depth of your writing within the community here. And may we all be inspired to step back right where we are today, making room for the God-things He has in store. Love you so.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Stepping back with you, friend. We could make a dance out of it. Praying for an ever widening Kingdom circle where we all find our place and our voice and purpose and we all see the glory that comes from going lower. Always lower and further out to gather the loved in and let them know they always had a place. You know I love you madly, friend, in the squishiest hugs kind of way.

  • http://threebeesinabluebonnet.blogspot.com/ Rebekah

    And I’m finally able to read this and it is lovely. There is so much here that is familiar to me. So much that I know deep down in my bones. The outside. The other. The clutching of cushions and standing awkward on the outside and seeing the backs of those who are in the circle. Your reminder of grace: grace from Him, grace for self, grace from others – is so welcome. That message is often like water through my fingers. I cannot hold it no matter how much I need to drink. I’m so happy to see you part of this place. I will love (love!) seeing your words here, as well as in your own space where you know your people by name.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Ugggh, I knew at some point today one of these comments was going to bring on the ugly cry. You are the winner of that fine prize. This means so much to me, friend. So much. Praying you no longer need to grasp for that grace in hands that fail but will instead be flooded with an outpouring you cannot contain. Doused, my friend, in the love He has for you. You are my people, Rebekah.

  • http://tanyamarlow.com Tanya Marlow

    Not reaching out, but stepping back – that’s fully profound. I shall chew on that. Lovely to see you in this space, Alia. Xx

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you Tanya. I’ve been chewing on this one for a bit. When I sat to write this post nothing came out… for a long time and then all of this and so much more. I edited it to fit a blog because who wants to read a 3000 word post, but I cut them up into a few more posts I’m working on, as there was so much more I wanted to say. We’ll see what comes.

  • http://freedtofly.wordpress.com Trudy

    Welcome, Alia. Thank you for being transparent. You already have encouraged me today with the reminder that our voice matters even if it trembles. A voice that has a story to tell. And to step back into grace and listen with our whole spirits for God’s heart. So beautiful. Thank you for this hope-filled message!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you Trudy, so glad to hear that.

  • Lynn Morrissey

    Alia, what a gloriously shimmering voice you have . . . that trembles both with truth and vulnerability. I so appreciate this juxtaposition, that when we step back the circle widens to permit more women to step in. I keep thinking that as you throw your pebble of purpose into this writing-and-community pond, truth and grace are going to ripple out into ever-widening circle of beauty and reaching souls for Christ. This truly *is* such a beautiful post. I might also add that while we step back, we must also step up and share our truth, no matter how much we tremble in our boots, platforms, or sandals. Until truth is shared, it can’t fully be experienced.

    Congratulations on your maiden post and all God’s best as you continue to widen heart circles!
    Lynn Morrissey

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Yes! Such a great point Lynn. It does take both. We have to be humble and open and yet also fierce and brave. Love that!

  • http://www.msmoozysopenhouse.com Debra @ Msmoozys Open House

    I will say “YOU GOT THIS”….. :-) You are an awesome writer and congrats.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Ha! I guess it’s not so bad when someone else says it for you. It’s the best kind of cheerleading. Thank you for that, Debra.

  • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

    Oh Alia! I want to jump up (and backwards!) after reading this. You speak truth beautifully because you live it even more so.

    And this line here? “When we’re not so busy pushing in to belong, we step back and behold.” Gah, I pray I never forget it.

    Much love to you, dear friend. I love you like crazy. xoxo

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      You are so doing those cheerleader moves for me when we see each other in person next time. I was talking with Tsh the other night and we were both saying that you make everyone feel like a rockstar, like you are the most important person in the room. I love that about you. You’ve never looked over my shoulder for someone more important to go talk to or closed a circle. I have no idea what the back of your head looks like. I just love you.

  • http://threewaylight.blogspot.com/ Jody Lee Collins

    “When we all step back the circle widens.” You speak such truths, Alia….and confirm what I’ve also found to be true here in this world of online blogging and real life friendships. My worldview has been stretched in such a good way about what it looks like to worship Jesus and follow Him as other people have welcomed me along the way. I’m thankful your voice is a part of that online and in(rl) world and I’m convinced we are made well and whole as we offer our writing gifts up to Him.
    SO glad you’re here!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      I love (and sometimes hate) the stretch of grace. We see God clearer when we’re pulled and motivated by His heart. Being online has been such a catalyst for growing in grace because there are so many voices and some of them are mean. I’m glad to have gotten to meet you in real life. It makes the online experience so much richer.

  • Veronica

    Alia, well done on an amazing first post! I discovered your blog a few months back and you are the real deal. It takes such courage and strength of spirit to discuss your vulnerabilities and fears. You widen the circle for all of us, and I am so happy you are a new contributor to InCourage. :)

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you. Yes, you commented on my daughter’s birthday post. I’m so glad you visited. I was a proud mama indeed. Thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate it. My readers tend to be a safe place. I have a great circle most of the time. Every once in a while someone is really mean, but that’s the exception. Those times just require more grace from God and a little bit of deep breathing. ;)

  • http://www.adelightfulglow.com/2014/01/the-heroes-close-to-us-five-minute-friday/ deborah

    I relate to the words and the feelings so well. I think many, many people do. Maybe that’s why sometimes we don’t want to widen the circle, because we struggle and when we find a place that we are comfortable with, we like the way it feels and we don’t want to move too much.

    Beautiful words and post!

    Blessings to you, Alia!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Yes! Deborah so much yes! This post was written as a long ranty free write where I just wrote and then went back and chopped it up and edited it but there are several more parts to it and that was one of the others. The reasons we close in. There are so many. I’m working on getting those parts edited for my blog for later but you’re so right. It’s hard to move when we finally find a place, we don’t want to lose it. Thanks for sharing that Deborah. I think that’s way more common a feeling than we’d like to admit.

  • http://alyssadelossantos@wordpress.com Alyssa

    I MORE than relate to your words…thanks for sharing! I sometimes wrestle w/ God about being “enough.” Ever the gracious Father, He receives me just as I am–then sets my feet upon His firm foundation-with Calvary within sight & says “you ARE enough! Look how much I love you!”
    Thanks for your courage–it translates to our encouragement!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      I’m so glad Alyssa. You ARE enough. Yes, now we live it out in His grace and love. Keeping fixed eyes and firm feet. Thank you for that encouragement as well.

  • http://www.redeemingthetable.com Kamille @ Redeeming the Table

    Alia–you know exactly what to say, what needs to be said and to deliver it with a gracious knowing. I appreciate this about you and I’m excited to see you being a part of this corner of the interwebs; because, Deidra was right to encourage you to apply. You belong here. You make women feel normal and at ease to share their story. I so love this about you:) Love you much!

    Kamille

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thanks Kamille. I don’t always know what to say, in fact I usually don’t and I think that may be what most women feel. We’re just not sure. So we start with our own stories and experiences and are shocked when we get the me too’s and the yes’s. I think it just means going first and making room for those around you. And that’s going to look different for everyone. You’re a room maker too, friend. Loved talking with you yesterday and hearing your dreams. Love you.

  • http://seetheshinebetheshine.com Kristin at See the Shine Be the Shine

    Your heart, your words, just lovely! And, stepping back to make the circle wider….beautiful! It reminds me of being in an al-anon meeting and more people come, newcomers, and we just widen the circle as second nature, grateful he/she had tje courage to come through tjat door…..

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      I read this comment earlier today and have been thinking about it all day since. I love that image. We need to better at this in church. We need to be so glad when people come through the doors we make space and step back and allow that to be our first response. Thank you for sharing that. It really spoke to me.

  • http://www.kellyanngreer.blogspot.com Kelly Greer

    Alia…so glad to have fellowship with you and even here in the larger circle. Happy for you!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you Kelly. I was so glad to meet you in March and get to hang out a little bit.

  • http://reneweddaily.com Shelly Hendricks (@Renewed_Daily)

    Alia, are you sure you’re not writing about ME?! ;) You have me down pat, right down to the throw pillow to shield the belly. I’m so glad you’ll be a regular contributor here, and can’t wait to read your words. They touch my heart.

    Heart Hugs, Shelly <3

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      I know right? Always scoping out the couch spot with the throw pillow. You can sit on one side and I’ll save you a spot on the other. Deal.

  • http://middleofthemess.com Amy Lanham

    Welcome and congratulations! I’ve been leading as study of the book Gods at War. We were just talking about how elusive success truly is, because once you accomplish something, the question is always, “What’s next?” And very few feel adequate or capable to fill the role they are called to. May you find a peace that your job is simply to bring glory to One.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      So true, the bar always moves in comparison to others. There is no there that’s good enough. Success is only as good as obedience to God.

  • Diana Bennett

    These words spoke to my heart. Thank you. I am 54 and still feel like I am begging for crumbs, just waiting to be seen but so afraid of being seen. I will be a part of the gathering but jyst me, myself and I because I am too afraid. What if my biggest fear comes true? That nobody will ever see me. What then?

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Diana, I’ve been sitting with your comment all day. I read it earlier and then the site went down and I couldn’t get here to reply. My heart aches for you. I wish it were as simple as promising you that if you step out you will be seen and cherished and gathered in. I wish I could, but I can’t. I know, because community has hurt me in horrible ways. But it’s also been a thing God’s used to work in my life and it hasn’t been easy. Friend, I still feel outside and other so often. But I cling to truth. I am seen. I am known. I am loved. And Diana, you are too. God sees you in those places of fear and loneliness. He sees and knows you. And I know it might sound empty, but that’s where the fear gets flooded with light and truth. In that place, God’s perfect love casts it out. In that place, we get a little braver. I am saying prayers for you tonight, Diana. That you will know the Father’s love for you and be set free.

  • Mary Geisen

    Beautiful Alia! You feel tentative but your words truly flow across the page. When you speak from the heart, others are drawn in by your story and that is what you have done for me. You have widened your own circle to include the next awkward, shy writer – ME! Thank you so much for doing this for me! Blessings on your new writing journey with (in)RL.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Yes! Awkward shy writers unite! I was so blessed to serve such an amazing group of writers as you learn to steward your own voices. We are penning freedom songs, friend. It sounds like beauty.

  • Jodi Michaelides

    Welcome Alia! What an exceptional job you did on your 1st blog post. I’m sure countless women identified with your topic and appreciate being reminded of the TRUTH’ perspective. It is so easy to forget when you are going through a challenging season or have been stuck in a ‘pit.’ I look forward to reading more of your blog posts.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you Jodi, I’m so glad to be here sharing my story.

  • http://www.faithbarista.com Bonnie Gray | Faith Barista

    beautiful alia! you are beloved. you are beautiful. and your voice is heard. and voices are echoing in return.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you so much, Bonnie. I loved seeing your trailer for Whitespace. It was stunning! I felt the exact same way. Your voice is heard. I can’t wait to read it.

  • http://www.reneeswope.com Renee Swope

    Alia Joy!! I have been pushing through the crowds today to get here so I can read your post!! You my new friend are an amazingly gifted writer. As I read your post, I had writer’s envy but not really envy because it gave me so much joy to see His gift in you. I just kept thinking, “How did she come up with the perfect words to describe how I feel in such a creative way?” Thank you for being brave, for giving voice to our secret thoughts and insecurities, vivid images to our emotions. I just want to soak it all in, letting the truth you’ve shared paint pictures on my soul so I won’t forget what you’ve taught us today. Im so honored to be a newbie with {{you}}!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Oh I’m so glad to share this newbie spot with you guys. You are so kind. I’m kind of awed today by God’s faithfulness and goodness. Really, I couldn’t have asked for more beautiful friendships both new and old. And it’s so funny really, because it’s easy to look at someone and think they obviously know what they’re doing and I so DO NOT. But I love how we’re in this together. Making room, storytelling, and sharing life. I’m so blessed by you, my lovely new friend.

  • http://www.lishaepperson.com Lisha Epperson

    I’m delighted by your presence here Alia Joy! Your voice…your words..were made for this space in the kingdom. Never worry that the circle might not widen for you my friend, Gods got a space with your name on it. Love you so beautiful lady!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Oh Lisha, I love you so. thank you thank you thank you for being such a beautiful voice for women to hear in their hearts. Your words, friend, they inspire. God’s going to do big things with you. I’m just gonna sit back and watch it happen.

  • http://myfreshlybrewedlife.com Barbie

    Oh girl, you write my heart, all the time. You have a such a unique voice and perspective. You will no doubt change lives and bring healing on this journey.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you Barbie. So glad to be in your circle, friend.

  • http://www.darlenecollazo.com Darlene Collazo @ {In Pursuit}

    Stepping back… what a simple and revolutionary thought! Loved reading this today…

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thanks Darlene. I think we make things harder than they need to be. But really, it’s simple. Jesus made room for people, we should too.

  • Beth Williams

    Alia,

    Welcome! It’s always nice to have newbies writing here. Wonderfully written post! You can certainly write beautifully and poetically. I could feel the sweaty palms, worry, would they like me?, etc.

    We all need to “get off our porches”, move out into the world and step back to open our circles to more people. Just love on each other and share life together!

    Blessings :)

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Yes, I loved what Jessica shared about “getting off our porches!” Such good thoughts.

  • http://www.kathrynshirey.com Kathryn Shirey

    Beautiful words and so encouraging for someone just starting out on my writing dream, wondering if anyone wants to read my words, if my story matters. Thanks! Glad I saw this link on The Friday Five.

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Oh goodness, so true of my writing journey too. There’s so much doubt involved in releasing words into the world. There’s so much insecurity when we don’t identify with the loved. But we are. And we write because we have a story to tell. Thanks for stepping out and sharing your words and story.

  • http://motheringfromscratch.com Mothering From Scratch

    {Melinda} I can relate to so much of what you said. With every new assignment and new opportunity, I feel more butterflies and less confidence. I’ve decided that’s a good thing. It keeps me humbly dependent on God and more and more aware that I can do nothing on my own. Nothing. I know He’s going to use your words in a powerful way here, Alia. I look forward to reading more of your story!

    • http://narrowpathstohigherplaces.com Alia Joy

      Thank you Melinda. I think writing scared and grace dependent makes for the best kind of truth telling.

  • http://www.amylearns.com Amy Tilson

    Cross-country high fives and head nodding here. The part about grasping at conversations trying to make it on the inside – been there, done that a million times. So glad to have a circle with you in it!! :)