On Roller Coasters, Tidal Waves and Letting Go: A guest post by Abby Alleman


I'm honored to introduce Abby Alleman to you today. I've been reading Abby online for a while now, and was delighted to meet her recently at the Relevant conference, where it was obvious to me that her heart for God is just as wonderful and true in person as it is online! Abby and her husband and two young children will be leaving for Hungrary soon, where they will live out the Gospels as missionaries. Please spend some time over at her blog, Fan the Flame -- I guarantee you will leave inspired and empowered to live in God's love! And please, will you keep them in your prayers as they make this life-changing commitment?


As we were preparing to go overseas to Hungary for the summer of 2010, I remember sharing with some friends how I felt like I was about to get on a very tall, very fast, and very scary roller coaster.

It must have been a bit prophetic.

I felt that way anticipating taking our family of four, which included one not quite three year-old son and one not quite one year-old daughter and thankfully, one very hands-on father, across the ocean for five weeks.

I came home after those five weeks with the full weight of a long-term call, which, although it included much joy and excitement, had the undeniable mark of a great upheaval for our little family.

Fast forward fifteen months and I am still on that roller coaster. The ride has felt too much like the clink, clink, clink up to the summit and my nerves on overdrive with anticipation of the high speed fall to come.

Filled with logistics that have included the massive overhaul of all of our belongings, the leaving of a life and friendships we love, travelling most of the way across the country and back, five moves in four months {yes, you read that right} and the pending leaving of our families and dear friends at home, it has certainly felt like a life-sized quadruple loop thriller.

The anticipation is always what gets me. I give into fear. I try to picture this completely new life where we take our little family with one-way tickets to a place that we know a bit, but never as the long-term, raise-our-family home we now choose it to be. I feel my stomach tie into knots as every sure look at my weak little self shows how I don’t have what it takes to do this even nearly well.

And that is where I am both right and so very wrong. Just like a roller coaster, this can be fun, exhilarating even, when I let go. When I fix my gaze on the One who moves me along, inching up to heights and flying free down the other side.

But, I am liking another analogy better right now. It is that of a tidal wave. I stand on the shore and this wave is massive and intimidating and I know I am a lousy swimmer. I am sure I will be drowned.

And yet, in an instant I can change my perspective on what that wave really is. Instead of an overwhelming set of circumstances and changes, I can choose to see it as the fullness of my God. His grace, love, joy, peace, hope, goodness, as they rise up high and command the focus of my heart of hearts. And the crashing in of this wave holds not the possibility of death, only life.

In letting go and breathing deep that salt air, drinking in that salt water, I am preserved and sustained. And the fullness of God becomes my own. So when language foibles brand me witless, when I get lost on obscure European roads, when I can’t understand my children’s teachers, when all I want to do is come home but that must wait a long time, I can crumble into that wave and rise in a strength where my God is All the Glory.

That sounds like a pretty amazing way to live, do you agree?

When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse
everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,
including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos,
to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers
crash and crush me.
Then GOD promises to love me all day,
sing songs all through the night!
My life is God's prayer.

~Psalm 42: 6-8
{The Message}

How is your life a roller coaster? A tidal wave? Are you embracing it as an opportunity to know Him as the One who overwhelms in the best of ways? Let’s walk this journey together.

smoothstones –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:09 AM)  

Beautiful thoughts and writing. God bless, Abby, as you plunge...and surf! Thanks for sharing Abby's words with us, Michelle.

Shawn Smucker  – (November 9, 2011 at 8:55 AM)  

Amazing story. You will experience God as you never have before. Blessings to you and your family.

mamaabby –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:57 AM)  

Thank you and yes, this really is what it's all about:}

mamaabby –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:59 AM)  

Thank you.  I appreciate your encouragement.  And yes, learning to surf surely sounds exhilarating:}

Deidra  – (November 9, 2011 at 9:09 AM)  

Abby-
What a joy to have met you in person! I have that photo of your family on my refrigerator, and I pray for you when I'm cooking. You have such a beautiful heart, and that smile of yours? Wow! It lights up a room!

Bless you as you let go...

DRupert –   – (November 9, 2011 at 9:10 AM)  

"The clink clink clink" of going up is very descriptive!  You hooked me with this post.  Going to other places and experiencing the same Lord in a different setting changes you forever, doesnt it?

Cherry  – (November 9, 2011 at 9:22 AM)  

Abby, so good to read your thoughts here! I especially liked this, "Instead of an overwhelming set of circumstances and changes, I can choose to see it as the fullness of my God. His grace, love, joy, peace, hope, goodness, as they rise up high and command the focus of my heart of hearts." These words were encouraging to me this morning with a set of circumstances I am faced with. And continuing to pray for you, dear friend, as you anticipate the changes ahead.

JosephPote –   – (November 9, 2011 at 11:30 AM)  

Love the very poetic multisensory analogy!

Thank you for sharing, Abby!

May God richly bless you and your family in this new venture, and may He brightly shine the light of His glory through your lives!

Diane Bailey  – (November 9, 2011 at 11:46 AM)  

It's funny how God weaves these blog into the exact day that so many need to hear that message!  I was feeling overwhelmed this morning watching the massive wave coming in.  After reading your blog today, I've decided to get out a surf board and ride it with a big smile!  Thank you for the words of encouragement!

Theresa  – (November 9, 2011 at 3:40 PM)  

Choosing to see the fullness of your God rather than the overwhelming circumstances...beautiful.  I can't claim to know your circumstances personally, yet I believe that when we drink that cup placed before us, we experience true living. Hugs and blessings!

briantmiller –   – (November 9, 2011 at 6:40 PM)  

having once faced similar calls that shook everything about my family...i appreciate this...nice analogy on the tidal wave and perspective..s.o true...

mamaabby –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:19 PM)  

Thank you Deidra!  You are a blessing and to know you are praying for us, well, that's pretty amazing! xo

mamaabby –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:20 PM)  

Amen, it does.  He's bigger than everything and when you live somewhere else and know Him there, you are forever changed.

mamaabby –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:21 PM)  

Thanks for stopping by and for your ever encouragement:} I am humbled that I could speak something good into where you are at...always the reminders of Him, is there ever anything else?

mamaabby –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:22 PM)  

Thank you Joseph!  Thanks for coming and reading:}

mamaabby –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:23 PM)  

Oh, thank you Diane.  It encourages me so to know that what I need to speak continually to myself would bless you too!  Trusting that He will continue to give you more of Himself as you walk through this time:}

mamaabby –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:26 PM)  

Amen, you are right.  I just keep remembering that I am made to be free and to really live and whenever I am bound or just not really living vibrantly that I am settling for so much less.  Thanks for your encouragement and bless you too!

mamaabby –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:27 PM)  

thanks for finding me here brian! and yes to answering calls and to letting the journey be all that it can be!

Joanne Norton –   – (November 9, 2011 at 8:30 PM)  

My main issue for years is being willing to adjust, change, come and go, " missionary"  both here and anywhere else, and be ready, ready, ready.  I suppose that would be a roller coaster in the spirit, although in the natural I ain't gonna be on one forever or ever.   Not bored, though, and that's really good!!   Loved your picturesque descriptions.  Easy to "see" in my active brain.

Mary Bonner  – (November 10, 2011 at 7:41 AM)  

Abby, you have been in my thoughts and prayers since returning home from Relevant.  I am grateful for the opportunity to have met you and the privilege of praying for you and your family.

Emily Wierenga  – (November 10, 2011 at 1:33 PM)  

i love how you live, dear abby... how you battle it all and surrender it all. thank you michelle, for hosting abby today. so jealous you two got to meet! xo

mamaabby –   – (November 10, 2011 at 11:13 PM)  

Thank you, so much, Mary.  It was truly a blessing to be with you!

mamaabby –   – (November 10, 2011 at 11:14 PM)  

Yes, not any of this forever and great to encourage one another as we all are certainly to live like this world is not our home and with singular purpose while we reside in the here and now.  Blessings to you!

mamaabby –   – (November 10, 2011 at 11:15 PM)  

Oh, we SO VERY MUCH would have loved to have YOU in our midst!

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