About Ali

Personal posts about Ali Cross, including personal insights, stories, family, etc.

Faithful Soldier

| About Ali

My father-in-law was my favorite. I loved him from the moment we met. He was funny and smart, compassionate and perceptive. He understood me. I felt he understood all of me–my heart, my mind, my potential and my struggles. He was beyond special to me. It’s been a few years since he passed away, and I miss him so much that even writing this brings tears to my eyes and tender memories to my heart.

On this Memorial Day, I want to share with you my father-in-law. My Dad.


Joseph K. Cross (1923 – 2010)

Private 1st Class
3rd Battalion 8th Air Corp
World War II

Joe Cross in the cockpit. His "office" as he called it.
Joe Cross in the cockpit. His “office” as he called it.

He was a mechanic, working to repair the B17s. They called him “Praying Joe” because he prayed, a lot, and his prayers seemed to work. Certainly they protected him when he was working on wreckage teardown and a German plane came over for a strafing run, destroying everything in its path.

Joe Cross ironing uniforms for a bit of extra money.
Joe Cross ironing uniforms for a bit of extra money.

Dad told how one soldier asked him to pray for him because he knew that if he did, he’d be safe.

He was a single dad to a little daughter at home, so he worked hard, even taking on extra jobs, like repairing and ironing uniforms.

He was a poet, an artist, and a teacher. He was a friend to many and he was loved. So loved.


Joe Cross, sharing memories about the planes he worked on during WWII.
Joe Cross, sharing memories about the planes he worked on during WWII.

As a girl without a real dad, “winning” Joseph K. Cross as my father-in-law was like suddenly finding out my father was a king. He was a great man, a truly good man, and spent his life in service from his time in the military, to serving in our church, to raising eleven children, and cherishing his dear wife eternally.

I love you Dad. I wish you’d had a chance to tell more of your stories to my boys. To be an example to them, as you were to me. They just don’t make ’em like you, anymore. 

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Master Your Fears

| About Ali

I think Master Your Fears needs to be my mantra for the next two months.

When I was a girl, I felt so set apart from my family that, rather than trying to belong, I worked to drive a greater wedge between us. I’m the youngest by eight years, with my siblings eight, ten, twelve and fifteen years older than me, so it was easy to let the chasm between us widen.

In June, I’ll be taking my sons to Toronto to visit meet their extended family.

And I am terrified.

"Don't give up when the pressure mounts. Face your doubts. Master your fears." Jeffrey R. Holland


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Stories of My Life: One

| About Ali

We all have life experiences that shape us. Some of our stories are funny, some sweet. Some plant deep, meaningful messages in our hearts and we’re made the better for them. I’ve wanted to share my stories for a long time, because this is my spot and I think knowing where I came from might be enlightening to people who read my stories. I wanted my memories to be funny and cute and fun for you to read, but … this is my life. It hasn’t been too funny.

I’ve been struggling with my spirituality lately. Not in a giant, huge way, just in the little things. Haven’t been saying my prayers regularly. Haven’t been thinking of Him much.

This is hard for me because I’ve always had a relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus. I’ve always felt them near, even before I knew who they were.

My dad left us when I was four. We had never gone to church, I hadn’t been baptized … yet somehow I knew about God and Jesus. My sister Heather, eight years older, doesn’t really know how, I knew about them either, because she doesn’t recall our family talking about them.

Yet, when I began talking to my imaginary friend, and Heather interrupted me, I told her, “Shh, I’m talking to Jesus.”

And when Heather came to sit with me out in the backyard, I chastised her because, “That’s where Jesus is sitting!”

Jesus was my friend, keeping me company for many hard years. When I first heard “The Little Girl” by John Michael Montgomery, I was painting the ceiling in my son’s room. I ended up just standing there, at the top of the ladder, with tears running down my face. As a child, I didn’t live in a home with a lot of screaming and fighting. No, in my home, it was quiet. It was cold. It was uninterested. But I still felt Jesus’ arms around me, warming me and comforting me many, many times.


I love Him. He’s been my friend, my very real friend, for as long as I can remember. It really is time for me to close the distance between us.



Play the Pauses: How Silence Can Serve You

| About Ali

Ever since I saw The Karate Kid (2010) I’ve had this thought tumbling around my head: “You have to play the pauses.” The violin teacher says it to his student when she’s rushing through the music in her preparation for a big recital/audition. She’s not to rush it, he says, but to embrace every moment, even the silent ones.

A lovely rendition of Chopin’s Nocturne, the same piece played in the movie.

This thought seems like a revelation there. Like a geode with beautiful crystals hidden inside, or the pearl inside the clam. But what does it mean in real life? How can we play the pauses?

A friend told me about India’s tradition of silence, so of course I had to look it up …

“Silence is more than pauses, hesitations, or mere absence of speech. In India, silence is viewed as a “state of being” which encompasses a wide range of indescribably phenomena such as God, truth, self being, freedom, bliss, nothingness, and nirvana.” – Molefi Kate Asante, The Global Intercultural Reader

It all came together to tell me what I had to pass on to you … Don’t be in a hurry to live, to do, to accomplish. Sometimes the living happens in that sweet moment when your head is cradled against the chest of the man you love. Sometimes the doing happens when you give your mind a moment to rest, to think and imagine and explore … empowering you to do so much more than you thought possible. Sometimes, the greatest accomplishment of your day might be that moment of peace before you’re swept away in busyness.

"What keeps my heart awake is colorful silence." ~ Claude Monet

I tend to listen to audiobooks or podcasts every possible moment. In the car, around the house … anytime I’m not writing, I’m listening to a book. The habit snuck up on me, and now I’m afraid I’m struggling to break it. But without the silence, without the time to be in my own head, to listen to my own thoughts—to listen to God—I’m suffering. I could be more, my writing could be more, happiness and peace could be more, if only I would embrace the “colorful silence.”

The last few days I’ve focused on the wind through the trees instead of the next chapter of an audiobook. I’ve explored my imagination while doing laundry, infusing my writing with new ideas of ways to enrich the story, the characters, the relationships.

“Playing the pauses” is peace and wisdom, imagination and creation. Embrace it.

Question: Do you give yourself time each day when you are alone with your thoughts and nothing else to intrude upon them?

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Words I’ll No Longer Say: “I Am Fat”

| About Ali

I am not fat. I am me.

This week I will not say “I am fat.”

If l can go without saying it for one week, I plan to never say it again.

I thought I was being self-aware. I thought I was being progressive and honest and accepting of myself. But deep down, I think I knew it was all a lie. Instead, I was using the words like a shield, a kind of “You can’t judge me because I’ve already judged myself.” That’s not acceptance, that’s deflection. 

Meanwhile, my husband still loves me, still tells me I’m beautiful, still wants to be with me. Why do I ruin it by saying “Sorry I’m so fat,” when we’re intimate? I’m sure he misses the slim, fit young body he married—but so what? I miss his young, fit body too. We’re getting older, we’re human, we’re imperfect … is it such a big deal?

Anyway, *I*, ali, am not fat. I am kind, optimistic, happy, hopeful, loving … I want people to see me for who I am, not the body I live in.

When I say “Sorry I am fat,” I take my husband out of the moment, I make him think about itthe fatinstead of mehis wife, his lover, his soulmate. When I say “I know I’m fat, but does this look okay?” I’m broadcasting my fears that I, ali, am not good enough to be loved or treasured, or befriended, or admired. If I am worthy, it doesn’t matter what size my body is. If I’m not worthy, well … I’ve got a lot bigger problem than the size of my body!

[bctt tweet=”If I am worthy of being your friend, your lover, your motherit doesn’t matter what size my body is.” username=”ali_cross”]

The habit of deflecting my feelings by saying I am fat is deeply entrenched though. I want to stop saying it, but I think it will be hard, so I’m giving myself a week. A week to practice. And then … I will not be fat anymore, so there won’t be any need to say it. Oh, my body will be the same, sure. But I am not fat. I am ME.

Question: Do you have any shields you use to deflect your fears?


What is Beauty?

| About Ali

What is beauty to you? Is it in the eyes? The lips? Is it in your smile? The way you wear your hair? Or is it your smooth, porcelain skin?

I think, like most women, I struggle with claiming my own beauty. Heck, I struggle with finding my own beauty. I can see it in others, no problem. I see it all around me. And it’s in all those places I mentioned above, and more. My favorite beauty is the kind that emanates from a person like an invisible bubble of goodness. These are the people you feel safe around, the people you want to spend time with. They’re authentic, kind and oh yes, beautiful.

My friend Lauri is one of those people. The interesting thing is, this Facebook post of hers implies she hasn’t just always felt so awesome about herself. No matter what those around her thought, inside, Lauri struggled just like I do. And maybe, like you do.


I haven’t been making a conscious effort to love myself, but it has been on my mind. I try to correct myself when I start saying bad, cutting things in my head. I try to remember that I love other friends who are chubby, or have stringy hair, or lots of pimples … so people probably love me, too. That’s good … but it could be better. Lauri inspires me to be better. To love myself FOR REALZ. Inside and out.

My thoughts began coalescing around this subject a year or more ago when I saw a video shared on Facebook about a woman who posted pictures of herself without makeup. The comments on her photos were disturbingly cruel. The thing is? I’m sure most of us have said things just as cruel to ourselves.

Beauty is in each of us. It belongs to us, it’s our birthright. I want to claim it and own it, like Lauri does. I want to show my “face”, my SOUL, and not listen to the ugly voices in my head that want to tear me down. What is beauty? It’s you. And it’s me.


When Rebellion is Part of Your Nature

| About Ali

What in the world are you supposed to do? I am so darn rebellious about the stupidest things. Seriously. I’d love your advice.

Mainly, I rebel against “have to’s.”

It’s time to say my prayers … Nope, not gonna do it.

I should write my blog post … Nope, not gonna do it.

I should go for a walk … Eat healthy … Clean my house … nope, NoPe, NOPE.

It’s a great weakness and frustration to myself. The big shortcoming of my life. I don’t know if it’s rebellion or pride—a reaction to being “told” what to do, or expectations? I don’t know. But it makes me less of a person, I think. Less of the strong, capable woman that I want to be.

I am a grown up. Mostly I shoulder through and do what I need to do, whether I want to or not, but it’s always an exercise in self-control. A constant mantra of “you gotta do what you gotta do.” Most of us struggle with things we don’t want to do but we have to do—it’s called going to work, paying bills, cleaning toilets. But what about when it’s stuff you do like to do—like praying, writing, and taking care of yourself? That’s what I don’t get about myself. If there were no expectations attached, I would do these things without question. But as soon as you tell me I should or I have to … NOPE.

So I apologize for not blogging this past month. I was rebelling against what *I* myself wanted. I’m a nut-job, I guess. Go figure.

Have any of you ever struggled with rebellion like this? What lasting, meaningful things have you done to overcome it? I’d love to discover the magic! <3

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Are You Taking Someone For Granted?

| About Ali, blog

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we take the people that matter for granted. Whole lives can be wasted while we let busyness and pride and even laziness rob us of the relationships that make life worthwhile.

I did that.

Sheri was my best friend. The best person I knew. But I moved a long ways away, and our lifestyles were different, and … meaningless excuses. I let her go.

Regret is a pointless emotion. It’s insidious and eats away at you, but it’s completely avoidable.

I decided I didn’t want to live with that regret anymore, so I sucked it up and wrote Sheri a letter. And because she’s the person she is, she forgave me, and welcomed me back into her heart and her life.

There’s room in our lives for all kinds of relationships. It was wrong of me to give up a friendship because it was no longer the same. Because I still need Sheri—she is special and unique and I am a better person when she’s in my life.

Everything is made better by the good people in our lives. Whether we see them every day or once a year, every relationship has value and should be treasured. Regret degrades you, but forgiveness can free you. I really encourage you to take stock of your relationships and make sure you aren’t missing anyone who should be there.

And if you are? Forgive them, or yourself, for what came before and welcome them back into your life.

Because it’s the people we share our lives with that make it worth living.


As the Leaves Are Changing, So Am I

| About Ali, blog

It’s been so long since I posted—and longer still since I posted a “proper”, personal, post. I’d like to change that—starting today!

There have been a lot of changes in my life recently, and while most of these changes were originally bad, they’ve led to a rennaissance of sorts, a realignment of my priorities, and my dreams.

Since mid-October, my husband had a cardiac “event” (not a heart attack, but fibrolation that caused his heart to stop pumping blood for thirty seconds … he’s okay now), my job with David Farland ended unexpectedly (I didn’t get fired, just laid off, but it still hurt, particularly financially), my son got sick again (probably a revival of the tick-caused illness that kept him out of school for almost four months last year) which has required many doctor visits and for him to withdraw from traditional school and be schooled at home, and my car stopped working suddenly (like, I was pulling out of my garage today and it just … died! Thank goodness it didn’t happen on the road, or somewhere far from home!).

Crazy, right? Fingers crossed this is the END of drama in my life for a while!

So where’s the good in all this?

I’m writing again. 29,000 words into a brand new story that’s new and different and MAN it feels good to be writing!

I’ve found an illustrator to join me in producing a wonderful little picture book story I wrote. I can’t wait to share it with you!

I’m re-committing myself to my author services business, Novel Ninjutsu. I’ve been formatting books for years under this biz, but haven’t done much else with it. Now, I’m gonna kick some butt!

And I’m taking the time to rededicate myself to my publishing career—through writing and promotion, and marketing and and and. You know. The business of being an author.

Oh, and here’s a little funny you might appreciate—I took Rocky in to be groomed on Monday. His hair had gotten really long and usually we think he’s so fat, and then when he gets groomed we discover he’s really so tiny. Um, not this time! This time we discovered that, uh, he’d gotten really tubby! For some reason, seeing my little doggy with his plump belly (and, knowing he has little cartilage in his knees and imagining that it’s probably harder on him to carry around extra weight), got ME moving. Rocky needs exercise so he can be a healthy weight and be healthier. ALI needs to needs to be a healthier, too! It’s only been a couple days so yeah, yeah I know that doesn’t mean a whole ton, but … we are walking. And let me tell you, this is a big deal for me! I’ve been so burdened by my chronic fatigue the past few months that even going for a fifteen-minute walk was a real challenge. Now, I’m just doing it, no matter what. So far: so good. So here’s to Rocky and I getting a little less tubby!

I’ve neglected myself and my own business/writing for so long … but that’s changing. And even though one of my sons said I was a “rage monster” last week because I was soooo overwhelmed by all the stuff, now I feel like I see true happiness and peace blooming in my life. Like the falling leaves, all the changes are leaving me a clearer view of a bright, blue sky.

I feel like anything is possible.


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How to Make Mistakes

| About Ali

I’m the “Primary Chorister” at my church. That means I teach music to all the children under 12 at church each Sunday. Once a year, the Primary children put on a program for the congregation in which they show what they’ve learned throughout the year–including eight songs that I’ve taught them.

I am not a conductor, a choral leader or teacher.

I’m basically an idiot savant when it comes to music. I am a really good opera singer but I can barely comprehend music. No, really. I failed music theory at university. I’ve been teaching these same eight songs for nine months to the Primary kids and I still don’t remember whether this song or that is in three-fourths time or common time. I am an idiot.

So here’s the thing … I make a lot of mistakes. Like, a LOT.

It’s typical for me to hold up a picture or a sign of some sort here and there during the songs to remind the kids what song we’re doing or what the words are. During the Mother’s Day song this year I couldn’t figure out why the kids were singing quietly or why they were making funny faces at me. Turns out I had all the song prompts out of order AND upside down AND I kept forgetting the words so they couldn’t even read my lips for a clue as to what the heck was happening.

So I’ve decided my job isn’t really about teaching them to sing beautifully or to memorize all the words to the children’s hymns. My job is to teach them how to make a mistake and keep on going.

In high school I remember my band teacher telling us that the most important note in a concert is the last one. No matter how badly you’ve screwed up during the performance, it’s that last note that’ll stay with the audience, so make it a good one.

As a performer, my coach would tell me to keep on smiling. Whether I forgot words or hit a sour note, my audience would be more likely to forgive me if I kept on going and kept on smiling.

I figure these little music tricks are good life lessons and my goal is to teach them to my Primary kids.

I asked them recently, “Who here makes the most mistakes?”

They answered loudly and proudly, “YOU!”

“But do I look upset about it?” I asked.

“No!” they responded.

“No, because no matter how many mistakes I make, I am still AWESOME.”

And ya know? I believe that more now that I’ve spent the last few years teaching music (badly) to these kids. I guess I’m not just teaching them how to handle mistake-making in life, I’m learning it myself.

Mistakes happen. To some of us more than others. But hey, they don’t have to be the end of the world. They only spell disaster if you let them. Most of the time, if you just keep on going, keep on smiling, and do your best to end on a good note, you can still rock that black belt in awesome. That’s my motto, anyway.

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