Hi, I’m Allana
I have spent my whole life trying to share as little as possible about myself with as few people as possible, but I guess it’s finally time that I bit that bullet. Once I realized that “my” story wasn’t simply “mine“— but God’s— I became much more proud to share it.
As cliche as it sounds, I really am a southern girl from a small town and have always had big dreams. I’m a google-taught entrepreneur, a pastry chef, a professional coffee sipper, a dog lover, a recovering control-freak. I also love hearing stories about how people find purpose and freedom — welcome to a condensed version of mine.
I battle quite a few health challenges. This isn’t something I broadcast because I don’t want it to become my identity, but if I don’t share that side of me, you will not be able to truly grasp the magnitude of God’s love and glory in my life.
Without going into each diagnoses (maybe in a future blog), basically, the conditions I have are all chronic. They are also recognized as “incurable” and can oftentimes be debilitating and dangerous. We all have our own issues to overcome— mountains, valleys, constant thorns in our side. These challenges are just my “thorn.”
As you can imagine, struggling with health has put a few kinks in the plans I had for my life.
After leaving high school at 14 (due to my health), beginning homeschooling, having surgeries, constant tests, endless procedures, and doctor appointments, I graduated at 17. After graduation, I went to Hospitality school and majored in Pastry Arts. I absolutely love baking, cooking, and culture! I dreamed of opening my own bakery! I had the plans for my life all figured out.
At college, I excelled in all of my culinary classes, but as graduation grew nearer, God seemed to be pointing me in a different direction. Every time I told someone about my plans to open a bakery, I heard God say, “No, you aren’t,” and it felt like a punch in the gut! Deep down, I knew He was leading me to ministry school. It was like pulling teeth, but after a year of hearing from God, I finally obeyed and enrolled into a local ministry college.
I did not want to go in to vocational ministry. I had no idea why God was telling me to do this! I knew that ministry school would be extremely physically challenging for me. To top it off, I didn’t feel particularly eloquent or articulate. I wasn’t super social either, and I didn’t fit the mold. And to be 100% honest, I knew all about the wolves in sheep’s clothing hiding in ministry, and I knew I’d have to battle those offenses. I was seriously terrified!
After all that, leaving behind my dream of a bakery and going to ministry school, I didn’t even make it three months. The schedule was grueling. (I’m not exaggerating.) The days were constant, and my body just couldn’t keep up. My health had declined so much during those three months that my doctors and family were practically begging me to quit. But I saw quitting as failing.
Once I decided to finally quit, I had that moment of, “What the heck, God?” (Except, I didn’t say “heck” to be completely real and transparent here!) Not only was I battling the “did I miss God?” complex, but I also began to feel as if life was going to always be this way. I began to feel like life was pointless, I was a burden, and I had no purpose or future. I know, dramatic! But it seemed my health was always going to get in the way of my dreams.
During this time of no school or job, I began pursuing every avenue possible for my health. I went out of state to try experimental treatments, nerve blocks, acupuncture, and even looked at spinal stimulator implants.
In desperation, I began to really seek God like never before, for not only healing, but also closeness and direction.
Over time, I became obsessed with the subject of “purpose.” I knew that what I was going through wasn’t absent of meaning. I knew that I was being prepared for something greater! Discovering this power of purpose and pairing it with my passion to fight against human trafficking, The Little Tree Project was born.
If you look back at the story of the Little Tree, you’ll see that my story relates to the Tree’s quite a bit. You’ll be able to tie parallels to the survivors of human trafficking, and I’m sure you can relate in some way to the Little Tree (if not yet, then someday when life throws you trials).
Just like the Tree, we all have unmet expectations for life, whether pain, tragedy, failures, or betrayal. Each one of us have felt some sort of heart-break. During the shock of tragedy, we often say, “It’s not supposed to be this way.” Yet, sometimes, “this way” has to painfully happen.
No, I am not saying that God wants me to have all of these physical problems or that a person has to be trapped in the horrific world of sex slavery is for good. I am not saying that at all!
What I am saying is,
He can take what the Enemy is using to try to hinder, stop, and render you hopeless, and transform it into the precursor to absolute magnificence! His power and strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. Often, what we see as an attack is actually a future advantage.
This life of mine was not living up to the expectations that I had set for it. This is, honestly, still an area in which I struggle. But here’s the thing, I don’t ignore the facts. I don’t ignore my emotions and feelings, but I can’t let them rule me. I can’t let myself interpret my purpose through my pain nor my future through my flaws and weaknesses. I try to look through the lens that the presence of God is in every situation.
I haven’t enjoyed “my thorns,” but I wouldn’t change them. Without them, I wouldn’t have the same heart for people’s pains, purpose, potential, and true freedom that I do now. I wouldn't have the perspective required to truly relate to the struggles of others.
I’m glad that I’m constantly being brought to the end of myself to fully trust in God. I’m glad that He has trusted me to go through this, while remaining faithful to Him.
All of these revelations I’ve learned along the way are continually renewed through testing! So don’t think for a moment that I have arrived. The thing is, I know I am going to be tested even further! On the contrary, the target on my back just became ten times larger. It even has blinking red lights on it now!
None of this was easy to say or write, especially unveiling my deepest pains and doubts.
But here’s the thing, it’s worth it. I’ve realized how powerful stories can be. And how the Author of these stories is always pointing back to Himself. My life is His. And because I know this now, I need to be okay to share mine with others.
My life isn’t just about me.
My purpose is purpose.
This story is still being written, and I have no idea what the future holds! But I do know that whatever we have planned will never compare to the glory that God is willing to display in our lives — If we just let Him.
Welcome to my journey,