In Case You’re Feeling Like a Fake

    Have you ever sat in church and felt like you shouldn’t be there? Do you ever feel so distant from God that you don’t see why or how you are going to fix things? Do you ever blatantly disobey the Lord and feel little remorse?

    Do you ever feel like a “Fake Christian”?

    Over the past month or so this is exactly how I have been feeling. I could blame not being in school and therefore not being in my routine for why I haven’t been reading the Bible. I could blame not being around my christian community for not having anyone to keep me accountable. I could blame my work schedule for leaving me busy and tired, but no. It is really my fault and there are no excuses. Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.24.52 PM

    The other week I met with the women who has been discipling me over the past year and she asked how my “Jesus life” was going. In efforts to be honest I just came out and said that I was feeling like a fraud. I went on to explain how far behind I am in my Bible reading plan, and how far away I have felt from God. She immediately reminded me that this is happens to everyone and that the devil is who is making me feel like I am a fake. In reality, God is trying to draw me back in, and I just need to cancel out one and focus on the other. In the moment I felt relieved and encouraged but the feeling didn’t last long.

    That conversation was at least two weeks ago, and I still have not given a real effort to spend time with the Lord, and I think I know why. I am hiding. When I sin, and I know I am sinning I feel as if I need to hide. Like who would I be to sin, then open my Bible later that night and stand directly in God’s spotlight?! Well guys, it turns out that God can see me no matter what. Obviously I know that but it doesn’t make things easier. I also tell myself that when I decide to stop sinning I can run back to the Lord, repent, then get back on track. I am right, I can do that, but that is taking advantage of God’s grace, that is not how it is suppose to work.

    So here I am feeling like a fake and feeling like it’s the wrong time to turn back to the Lord. But really, there is no better time then now. I am reminded of the story of the prodigal son. He turned his back on his family and did everything wrong, but when he decided to come back home, he was celebrated and welcomed with open arms despite his obvious mistakes! Beautiful right? 

    God knows what we have done, it is impossible to hide, and because we know we are wrong, and because we know we need Him it is time to come back home. Run back into the arms of the Father. Let him celebrate your homecoming, and realize that you were never a fake, you are a child of God and He will always celebrate your return. 

    Podcast Party

    It’s a Podcast Party!

    My mom’s house is about a 2.5 hour drive from where I go to school. At first I would get really excited to create playlist for the drive home, but after awhile I got tired of listening to the same songs, or constantly having to seek out new music, so I found another alternative: podcasts! Having an iPhone makes it very easy. There is a purple podcast app and from there you can scroll through the various categories. There are so many different types of podcast out there: Ted Talks, news, celebrity interviews, stand up comedy, sports talk, etc. Just find what you are interested in and get listening!

    Here is what I have been listening too lately!

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    If you haven’t heard about the Bethke family you need to go google them pronto! You might know Jeff from this youtube spoken word video.  They are such a good example of what a young, loving, Christian marriage looks like and I love learning from what they have to say. As a couple, they do podcasts together and it is just so entertaining to hear how their lives are going in Hawaii, funny stories about their baby girl, as well as their answers to questions sent in by listeners. I recommend 10/10!

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    After I got all caught up with the Bethke’s podcast I was in search for something new, and came across Serial by This American Life (always a solid place to find new things). Sarah Koenig, a journalist, tells the true-story of a murder case of a high school girl. Each week a new installment of the series comes out and you follow her as she uncovers information from the trial, old friends of the victim and alleged perpetrator, and police reports, all in hopes of figuring out if the ex-boyfriend currently in jail for her murder actually deserves to be there. I have two more episodes to finish, and I am so anxious to find out the truth!

    Podcast a great for long drives because episodes can range from 20 min to an hour and it makes the time pass really quickly. This past weekend I listened to 4 episodes of Serial on the way back to school!  Let me know if you tryout any of these, and share your own favorites if you have any!


    Chicken Divan Where is my Man?!

    Now that I am living on my own this summer, without a meal plan (tear tear), I’ve had to cook a lot more for myself. This weekend at my mom’s house we made Chicken Divan together and I’m excited to have another dish under my belt. Here is the recipe we followed!

     Side note: I used the title because it rhymes and I like how it sounds. I don’t feel the need to further my culinary skills solely for pleasing a man!  Continue reading


    What I’ve learned Playing Basketball with the Guys….

    Playing pickup basketball after work has been one of my favorite ways to kill time this summer. As I type this, I am sitting on my bedroom floor recovering from the SEVEN games I ended up playing tonight (we just kept winning and I couldn’t say no). Here are a few things I have learned playing with the guys:

    You have to be assertive. If you’re new to the gym and the regular guys don’t know you, you have to be able to ask to be on people’s teams. Just walk up to them confidently and act like you know what you’re doing.

    Continue reading


    Decorating my New Room: Brainstorming Edition

    So in less than a month I will be moving into my new house aka I have a new room to decorate! I never put too much effort in my other two rooms because I knew I was only going to be there for a year, but this time I will be in this same room for the next two years so I really want to make it as special as possible. My room for next year has dark hardwood floors, white walls, and I have french doors (#love) Decorating wise here is what I am thinking:

    I bought this comforter before first year and it has really worked well for me. I bought it to fit a queen sized bed even though I have been in a twin for the past two year just in case I ever moved somewhere with a bigger bed, and that decision is paying off! The color is so fun, and I plan for the coral color of the bed to be my “pop color.”
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    If you follow me on tumblr, you will know that I have been stressing out about the bed situation. The house i’m living in is pretty old and the steps are super narrow. The people who lived there before warned us that it can be tough to bring big furniture up the stairs and that she had to build a bed platform in her room. For a while I thought I was going to have to go to Lowes, borrow some power tools, and use a lot of girl power to build something. Turns out that bed platforms can be bought from department stores and delivered to your home! Crazy huh?! It actually works out really well because I’m not sure what other furniture I can fit up the stairs so the fact that there are drawers underneath is huge!

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    I don’t have a headboard, so I’m thinking I might get a large tapestry to put behind my bed. That’s still up for debate. Here are the two I’m deciding between right now. ( Potentially to match my comforter, but i’m scared that it is way off?)

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    I’m trying to be as financially savvy as possible, but it is so hard to stay away from Anthropologie right now. I’m really going to stop buying clothes and completely focus on things for the room! Honestly, I just need to go into a Marshalls or Homegoods store and I’m sure I will find what I’m looking for. As of right now I think I still want a rug (something white and shaggy maybe) some type of shelving (maybe put it at the foot of my bed) some fun artsy lighting concept (hanging globes?) and some more wall art. In my head it will be something very clean and chic. My bed and the potential tapestry would be the focal point, and everything else would be black and white. In my head I can picture it, I just need to find the right things to make it come together perfectly!

    I have 19 days until I move in so I will definitely make an updated post as I get closer. Eventually I will show y’all the finished product. Let me know if you have any recommendations of what I should buy, and for sure share your opinions between the two tapestries!


    So you’re going to college?!

    Hey y’all, I know it’s been awhile, but my life has been pretty crazy lately. Over the past couple of weeks I have been working (a lot of weekends), babysitting, house sitting (aka taking care of two dogs and 10 chickens), and doing research assignments.  Things are starting to slow down now so I hope to be posting something at least once a week again. Anyways! I wanted to write out some advice for those who are getting ready for their first year of college. While the typical advice to read the syllabus, and try new things is all great, I want to share some advice that has helped me out a lot in my two years in school.

    Alright, so depending on where you are going off to school, it is very easy to get stuck in the bubble of your own campus. While all the actives, programs, and clubs your school has to offer are probably really convenient and really fun, I recommend expanding that bubble into the community the school is in. When I first got to UVA everyone talked about the “UVA bubble” and the disparity between those who actually attend the university and those who live in the city of the university. When I heard about this and started to understand what the bubble was, I quickly started to find ways to “infiltrate” the community and try to get a better picture where I was living. What I think we as college students forget is that we are only here for 4 years, but this is the permanent home to thousands of other people. So in my mind, we are their guest and we should try to serve them, and be as appreciative to them as possible.

    I first started getting involved in the greater Charlottesville community by tutoring in various middle schools. This allowed to me help out some kids, as well as get a greater understanding of the social economic diversity that is so apparent in this city.  Moving into my second year I finally decided on a church to call my home. This became a great place to meet people who are not associated with the university at all, which I think is huge. Side note: When looking for churches don’t be afraid to try out places that don’t have the largest student representation in their congregation. Basically I encourage you to develop relationships with people and organizations who are not associated with the school, they can be a nice escape from the hustle and bustle going on at school, and I guarantee they have a lot of restaurant recommendations that will rock your world.


    Today isn’t easy…

    I went into this weekend planning on ignoring today. Ignoring that it was Father’s Day. In case you haven’t noticed, in a world of social media and technology that is almost impossible. I woke to see fathers plastered on every social media platform, and I can’t help but be jealous. Today isn’t easy.

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    I’m appreciative of the messages I’ve gotten from my “stand-in” fathers today. Messages to remind me of how proud my Dad would be of me, how wonderful a woman I have grown up to be etc. I’m appreciative, but today still isn’t easy.

    While I can personally relate to those who have lost a father. I am also reminded that not everyone has a good relationship with their father. I used to be someone to say: “Hey at least he is on this earth, you should make the best of it.”  But why? If someone has continually neglected you, wronged you, hurt you, why do they deserve your effort. Just because we have a holiday? I don’t think so. Just because someone is your “father” does not mean they deserve your attention today. There are bad father’s out there, and if you have one, you shouldn’t be forced to pretend that what they have done to you is okay. Despite your negative feelings toward your Dad, today might not be easy for you.

    Today, without my earthly father here, I am thankful for my heavenly Father. The everlasting Father who gave the ultimate sacrifice so I could one day spend eternity with him, as well as my earthly Father. Oh He’s a good good Father. 


    What I’m Reading!


    I finished a book!

    Pleasure reading in college can be a real challenge! I needed to carve out some designated me time, and after first semester, I knew it needed to be focused around Jesus. Before, quiet time just meant that I was reading a chapter or two in the Bible, maybe sorta kinda getting something out of it, and then saying a quick prayer before I went to sleep. One of the christian ministries I am apart of had a series on spiritual disciplines and it really helped me shape what my “quiet time” with the Lord currently looks like.
    Soooooooo, I started reading the book The Circle Maker. The basis of the book is about Honi, a man in history who drew a circle in the dirt, stood inside of it, and prayed to God to make it rain during a horrible drought. Not only did God send rain, but he sent it exactly how Honi asked for it. The entire book uses this miracle as a way to illustrate how prayer circles are created and how prayer can be the most powerful tool we have as Christians.
    Sometimes I think we forget how powerful prayer is. It is more than a few memorized lines said before dinner, it is direct communication to God! Just think about that. Referencing one of my past blog post, if you think of your relationship with God like you would with a significant other is helps create a picture of what your daily relationship should look like. You wouldn’t go multiple days without talking to your wife/husband, you wouldn’t only ask favors, you wouldn’t reach out in only the tough times. Right? Right,  because that would be a very unhealthy marriage. In our relationship with God, prayer is a way to grow close to Him, while simultaneously receiving unconditional love that is unlike anything you have ever experienced.
    The book is separated into small stories within multiple chapters.  I read a few “stories” along with some typical scripture reading. Incorporating this book into my quiet time gave me tangible things to pray about and also expanded the amount of time I was spending in the presence of the Lord. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to improve their prayer life, light a match in their walk with the Lord, or simply just need a new book to begin!
    The second book in the picture is what I am reading next, I’ll be sure to share how I like it!

    Timehop, Throwback Blogs, and Reflection

    We all know what Timehop is right? The handy little app that shows you what you posted on various social media outlets, 1 year before, 2 years before, 3 years before, etc. Well this morning I found a few gems I thought I would share!

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    I really decided to write this blog post because Timehop showed me a blog post I made on an older blog of mine that I thought I could reflect on. The post was titled: “…and it ended today” (clearly I’ve been doing that ellipses thing for a while.) Despite the really dramatic title, the post was about finishing my sophomore year of high school and because I just finished my second year of college it was kinda neat to come across this.

    I have two main points in my original post that really illustrated to me that while I have grown up as a person, I am still the same Alysse I was back in high school.
    1.  My motto for the year of 2011: “Just keep swimming”. I hadn’t realized that declaring a motto for myself was something I have been doing for a while now. If you remember my post about Grey’s Anatomy, you will remember that this year I clung to the phrase ” I am the Sun.” At the time the “just keep swimming” phrase had to do with pushing through and realizing that my hard work would pay off when I was applying to college (it did). This year’s motto was a lot deeper than that. I’m sure getting into college was one of the most stressful things on my mind at the time, but it doesn’t compare to the stress I faced this past year. Basically, my purpose for “mottos” has continued, but they have evolved greatly in meaning.
    2. In my second point, I claimed that I would have given anything to be a graduating senior that year. I recognized that on the other hand I might miss out on some quality high school experiences if I magically had the chance to skip ahead 2 years. Then I ended it by saying that I was already missing out on experiences because I was always studying or at some athletic practice. I knew I was missing out and I didn’t care. During a lunch with my Christian mentor this year, we ended up talking about my high school experience and how different I am in that regard. In high school everything was about getting in to college, I stressed about the numbers, and would turn down many “fun” opportunities because i needed to study,  Now that I am college I have found the happy medium. I do my work, and I do well in school, but I also create/allow time to spend doing things that make me happy. I allow myself to realize that in the long run my friends who need me at 1am, or a spontaneous trip to McDonalds is not going to make or break my academic career.  Actually, in 20 years it’s probably what I will remember most from college.
    Shine Theory

    Shontell in the City

    Hi guys! My name is Shontell White and I am one of the women who is blessed enough to call Alysse Dowdy my best friend. She is such an empowering woman and she inspires me to reach new heights daily. I’m grateful that she has given me the opportunity to post as a guest contributor today! Last week I visited a close friend of Alysse and I in New York and on the train ride home I ceased the opportunity to log my entire journey. I hope you enjoy this quick glimpse into my life. Hopefully, this won’t be the last that you hear from me! I plan to drop some love on this blog regularly!

    2:41 PM                                                                                                                                          5/23/15

    Penn Station, New York City

    On Wednesday morning, May 20, 2015, I awakened around 3:30 am to catch the 4:30 am train to Penn Station, New York City. Being that this was my first trip traveling more than a couple of hours alone – my emotions were a blend of pure excitement and utter fear and nervousness. A few months back, one of my closest friends, Aubree Surrency invited me to visit her home during the summer. Although I eagerly agreed and ensured her that our plans would one day come to fruition, I must admit that I was a bit skeptical myself. I didn’t believe I could pull this one off. Not only is traveling extremely expensive (I’m a broke college student that seeks financial support from her parents), but I didn’t think that I could sell my parents on the idea that I was finally mature enough to make such a big journey alone. Somehow, someway and by the grace of God, I was on that 4:30 train from Danville, Virginia to New York City on Wednesday morning. The trip from the south to the north was definitely a long journey, but I rode in complete awe and amazement that I was able to journey through six states in the matter of about 9 hours. Not to mention, the sight was absolutely beautiful! About three hours into the journey, I was able to slide over to occupy the window seat on the train. The East coast is absolutely breathtaking! I sat beside a black middle-aged woman who de-boarded in Culpepper, Virginia and in Manassas, Virginia a middle-aged white woman headed for New York took over her seat. I snacked on banana chips, granola, barely read the books that I intended to read, strolled through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, prayed a little, chatted with the women beside me and partook in an occasional nap until I arrived at Penn Station at about 1:30 pm on Wednesday afternoon.

    Upon arriving to the station, I thought to myself, “Wow, I really made it. I did what I thought was impossible and by the grace of God I successfully completed my first “big girl” journey. I made it to the big city!”. I squeezed through crowds of people from diverse ethnicities and unique backgrounds and I followed the masses up a cramped escalator to the Amtrak station. Through all of the hustling and bustling excitement, I managed to get a hold of myself to call up the reason why I had been blessed enough to make this journey in the second place. Before I could say 1,2,3… I spotted Aubree at the top of the escalator patiently awaiting my arrival – talk about southern hospitality in the north! Little did I know, this would not be the last time the Surrency family would express such authentic and passionate acts of love, selflessness, and grace to their southern guest. Luckily, the night before journeying to NYC, Aubree texted me suggesting that it might be a good idea to pack my belongings in a suitcase with wheels because we would be spending the entire afternoon and evening in the city. That evening we tallied over 20,000 steps and we managed to walk about 10 miles around the city! We visited Times Square, Central Park, Columbus Circle and other popular tourists attractions. For lunch, we ate at a Greek food truck near Central Park called Tony Dragon’s Grille. I proceeded to reach inside my purse to grab my wallet, but Aubree quickly stopped me and informed me that I was not allowed to spend a penny of my money on activities and food (second piece of evidence that these people are angels!). I stood there in complete disbelief because my parents had generously calculated the cost of food into the money they had given me for the trip. As our stomachs growled in hunger, we journeyed the extra mile and a half to Central Park to devour our lunches amongst the trees, birds and all of the beautiful people. After lunch, Aubree and I climbed to the top of a rock in the park and I decided to practice a few yoga poses! Never in my life have a felt so free! After an evening of sightseeing and walking that resulted in sore and tired feet, we took the Long Island transit back to West Babylon where Aubree resides. Although I was excited about the entire experience, I was most eager to learn more about Long Island and about the area that Aubree was raised in. We ate at a local diner called The Post Office and at about 11:30 pm, Aubree’s mother, Stacey and brother, Jaylin, greeted us. Though sleepy eyed, we somehow managed to shower before calling it a night.

    On Thursday morning, we had breakfast with two of Aubree’s friend, Meagan and Jamarie at a locally owned diner called Brownstone Coffee and Tea. There most be something contagious in the Long Island water because Aubree’s friend decided to buy both her and my food. More importantly, they were genuine and welcomed me to the island with their arms wide open. Later we rode past Aubree’s high school, dance school, current job, and even her favorite place to have her eyebrow’s waxed. I definitely feel like I know a lot more about Aubree’s upbringing and what better way to do that then to be totally immersed into her environment. Such a blessing! We also visited one of my favorite shopping malls, Tanger Outlets. I had the opportunity to meet one of Aubree’s oldest friends of 16 years, Ashley, who worked at the outlet. Afterwards, we headed home to rest before our evening festivities began. That evening Aubree arranged for me to attend a zumba class held in the gym of a local church. The workout was intense and the instructor was a vibrant, middle-aged black woman with the body of a 25-year-old and the spunky attitude of a teenager. I learned that she is also a professor at Stony Brook University. I also met one of Aubree’s mom’s long-term friends, Ms. Carol. She was extremely excited to finally be able to meet me. Needless to say, I was showered with love during this entire trip. After zumba class, Aubree’s mother continued to stand by her motto that “what is mines is yours” and she treated us all to dinner at a local diner. After dinner, we commenced a night full of fun, laughter and bowling! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many happy and smiling faces. Ms. Stacey, Jaylin, Aubree and Caiya – the entire family wore authentic smiles as we witnessed the underdog, Aubree, as she rose to the occasion and dominated the first game. In the beginning, Aubree claimed that she was a bad bowler. I don’t know if I believe her! Jaylin was not impressed by Aubree’s skills and he managed to steal the show during the second game. There’s no need to discuss my scores! What a full and fun evening!

    I don’t think anything could’ve prepared me for what was to come on Friday morning. I woke up to the smell of giant New York bagels and authentic cream cheese. Jaylin is such a young gentleman and he prepared our bagels while his mother drove Caiya to a friend’s home. Jaylin met me at the top of the stairs with a big, bright smile and said, “The food is ready downstairs whenever you are”. There is no doubt in my mind that he will make his wife a very happy woman someday! While eating my bagel and fresh fruit, Ms. Stacey arrived with freshly brewed coffee in hand. Let’s keep in mind that I only mentioned to her once that I liked coffee in the morning. I didn’t expect for her to go out of her way each morning to ensure that I had a fresh cup. After breakfast, we piled into the van to travel to what would be one of the most beautiful places that I have ever traveled to, the Montauk Point Lighthouse. Man, have you ever been so blown away in a moment by God’s beautiful creations that you simply could not fathom what was occurring right before your eyes? The lighthouse, the beach, and the endless rock formations were all simply breathtaking. I have plans on traveling back there in the near future. After the lighthouse adventure, we dropped Aubree off at work and I spent sometime with Ms. Stacey and Jaylin. We ate at a Mexican restaurant in Babylon Village called Del Fuego. I ordered one of the best burritos that I have ever eaten in my life! I spent the rest of the evening playing board games and watching a scary movie with the family and Caiya’s best friend Kaitlyn. At around 10: 30, I rode with Ms. Stacey to pick Aubree up from work. Before heading to bed, Aubree and I celebrated my last night in Babylon by watching the movie “Enough” staring Jennifer Lopez until three in the morning!

    This morning, I rose to the smell of fresh blueberry muffins. Ms. Stacey had done it again, she prepared a full breakfast for the family, Kaitlyn and I complete with fresh fruit, muffins, turkey bacon, sausage, eggs, and of course a special cup of coffee for me. Before my departure, we all sat at the table laughing at baby photos of Aubree, Jaylin and Caiya. I truly felt like I was a part of their family. Never in my life have I ever experienced the sincere warmth of love, protection and affection by a family that were complete strangers to me only a year and a half ago. I am still completely overwhelmed by their selfless acts and there is absolutely no way to articulate my appreciation to them or to even begin to thank them enough for what they have done for me. God’s love is literally ricocheting off the walls of their home and I count it as a blessing that I was able to spend merely three days with that family of angels. One thing is for sure — home is definitely where the heart is.