For Clay. Upon leaving for college.

AUGUST 2013 upon leaving Clay at his first year of college.

For my ClayBo.
Today’s the day. As you leave for your first year of college;

1. You have your priorities in order. Every day should reflect those priorities. Re-evaluate regularly to stay on track.
2. Sleep at night. Do not stay up until 5am and expect to be at full capacity.
3. Mom does not (knowingly) subsidize your social life. Budget accordingly.
4. When you’re uncertain on how to proceed, remember: now that you’re eighteen, you’ll always be tried as an adult. wink emoticon
5. If you’re having trouble academically, say something. Do NOT wait until I receive a letter in the mail informing me you’ve lost a scholarship.
6. Everything is cheaper at Wal-Mart than at the campus bookstore.
7. Don’t be embarrassed if I cry when saying good-bye. Most of the other mothers (and not a few fathers) will, too. I promise to try to wait until I get to the car.
8. Remember that there’s always someone smarter than you, dumber than you, more confused than you, less lost than you, more secure, less confident, more sensitive, less reserved, more dysfunctional, etc. Feel the blessings in meeting some, and show grace and mercy for the others; tomorrow the roles may be reversed.
9. Know that home is always waiting for you, regardless of how little time you may spend here.
10. Pray. Daily and diligently. Study God’s word. You can’t know God if you don’t spend time with Him. You can’t get His direction & blessings without knowing Him.

I love you.
Mama

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:6-8

 

Believe it or not – I didn’t cry. Not in front of Clay.  About a week after he left, I got word back that he told another mom, “My mom was fine, she didn’t even cry”.  I decided maybe he needed to hear a little more from his mama. 

When you don’t see me cry as you leave, please don’t think I don’t care. It has been my life’s work to get you to these days. The courage you have in this new adventure gives you excitement and in that excitement I find success. You are a wonderful young man and I am honored to have had a front row seat to your life. My baby boy, “my Claybo”, you will always be, but you are your own man for sure. Again, in that I find success. I save the tears for when you aren’t looking so that you don’t worry about me and so that you won’t be sad. Please understand that as my heart does break when I see you walk away, my pride in all you have become and my desire for you to continue growing wipes my tears. Good Luck this first week of class. Here goes nothing, right?? I love you, Mama

 

Arise… it IS good news!

Nothing gets me much more excited than hearing about saved souls. Because, honest, it is a BIG DEAL. When I hear someone accepted Christ as their savior, I know hope moved into their life and kicked out despair.  They have a new relationship with the one who saved them and no longer can the lover of lies keep a stronghold in their life.  The old person is gone and a new one has arrived. [2 Cor 5:17]  And their eternity is settled.  They will be in the presence of the Lord for ever and ever.  THAT is worth shouting about, crying a few tears and singing some praise songs! Can I get an AMEN?!

On the contrary little makes me more sad, or burdens my heart more, than a child of God living a life lacking the excitement of gospel message. Remember, gospel means “GOOD NEWS”.  And, last I checked good news was something to be excited about.

Before you get all “She sure is on the Jesus haughty train” on me, let me explain what I mean by sad.  It hurts my heart in a deep way to know that fellow believers aren’t feeling the full impact of the promises of our Savior.  It worries me that we have brothers and sisters in Christ who have been so beat down and worn out by this fallen world that they can barely hold their eyes open to the wonders of eternity.  Or they have reached a callousness by the rough edges of life that it allows them to look full face in the gospel without emotion.  I say this because I know the full weight of this place. I have been there.

I was 18 years old when I was saved. It was my first year at University of Alabama and a sorority sister (Adrienne-sweet soul winning girl!) invited me to a Campus Crusade for Christ event.  There is no doubt in my mind that is the moment I asked Christ to come into my heart and life and it is when my eternal location was settled. However, I spent many years since not living like I believed the promises. This translates to not just rebellion (which there was plenty of – like plenty), but years of lost hope and joy and peace.  Years and years of my life still living in doubt of what Christ has done for me. Years of thinking it was good for everyone else, but might not really apply to me. Years of sadness, depression and hopelessness.

Praise the Lord, through personally maturing in God’s word, the strong mentoring by some amazing Godly women and sitting under the preaching of Bible believing pastors, I’ve learned to seek out God’s full promises for my life. Promises in which I build my foundation of joy.  Now the weight of the world still tries to creep back in.  I am human and do live in a fallen world, as do you.  Yet, I have a whole book of promises to stand on. When I have a bad day, there is a new day to come!  Every single day is new and His mercies are new every single morning. [Lamentations 3:22-23].  And when the world tries to remind me of what was, I know I now have no condemnation in Christ Jesus. [Romans 8:1]

And you don’t either my precious friend. If you are that sister in Christ that has lost her joy and the good news just doesn’t feel so good anymore, please know I pray for you daily. I am saddened with you and deeply desire you to find your hope in Christ again.  I want for the fire that burns for Jesus to illuminate you. He gave the most so you didn’t have to live in despair or worse in calloused nothingness. No life isn’t always easy, but it is ALWAYS hopeful! Focus your frail spirit back to the one who died for you, lay your cares at his feet. He bottles every tear [Psalm 56:8] and counts every hair on your head [Luke 12:7]. He is mourning now for your sad or maybe lukewarm spirit and is calling you back to Him.

Pray with me:  Father God, we love you. Thank you for everything you have given us. As we celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of your son, may we approach it with a renewed joy and excitement over the truly good news it is.  Father I pray especially right now for the heart of my sisters who are hurting and far from your joy. May they find their way back to you and sense a new fresh provoking of their souls.  Give them inner peace and real refreshing of emotion as they stand on your promises.  In Jesus’ perfect name, we pray.  Amen. 

As we approach this Easter weekend, I am humbly broken as I remember the suffering my Savior went through to cleanse me. Yet I am gloriously praising and celebrating an empty tomb knowing I can claim complete security in the promises of His perfect resurrection story.

Resting In His grip,  Ashlee

If you have never made a decision to ask Jesus into your heart and your eternal salvation has not been settled, please message me.  I’d love to tell you more about this.

God, but…

Have you ever considered how HUGE a difference between;

“…, but God.”      and      “God, but…”

How similar are the words, yet how incredible different are the phrases?

If you have been following my blog, you know I wrote a post in February titled “…, but God”. (if interested: https://ashleegvickers.com/2016/02/08/but-god-2/)   In that previous post, I explored how even in the middle of very trying times, God is still on the throne and working in a sovereign way on our behalf. Complete rest and comfort can be found in Him. Even in the middle of the worst of the world, but God!

Fast forward.  As I have been dealing with some less life altering events in my own personal world this past week, I admittedly pouted a bit and was not mentally honoring God with my thoughts.  I sincerely feel I have been wronged, a tremendous amount of heart and soul was overlooked and the full face slap of “life’s not fair” hit me. (Because didn’t we all get the “Life is going to be fair card”?)  I know you can all find that one thing or circumstance – think about that one for you and go with me here. I promise we won’t camp here long.  It is not a happy place (or healthy or God honoring).  If you can’t find that thing or that memory that made you stamp your feet in a full on “God, but…” temper tantrum, please be my friend. I  need you and your spiritual maturity in my life. I honestly desire to be more like you.

Unfortunately, I find myself being a spiritual baby and it is with full confession I come openly putting the raw dirtiness of my flesh on the table. The same person that wrote the February blog post about how an awesome God showed up in the middle of my heartache, was pouting in March. I switched from “… but, God.” to “God, but…” pretty quickly. 

I know you said we would have troubles God [John 16:33], but I don’t want to face any more trials. I’m just tired.

Nothing is too hard for you God [Jeremiah 32:27], but it’s hard for me.  

You say Love them as I love myself God [Mark 12:31], but they aren’t being lovable to me.

I know I have seriously TONs to be thankful for God, but I wanted THIS.  (oh really!?)

Think about what your “God, but…” might look like?

I know you are calling me to ministry God, but I am comfortable here.

I’d love to do ___ for you God, but I’m scared I’ll be embarrassed. 

I want to serve you God, but I am so busy with my life. 

I know I haven’t surrendered my life to you God, but I have plenty of time to settle that eternity issue. (do you?)

As I allow myself to review these “God, but…” statements, I am able to see just how much they are balking the promises of our Lord. Not to mention how selfish and “me” centered they sound.  

As I process through my tantrum and allow myself to rest in the magnitude of the “…, but God.” and “God, but…” juxtaposition, it becomes such a clear picture of our battle to walk in submission to our heavenly Father.  God asks for obedience and we get scared to let go of our control. We forget that whole faith thing and that He really can do what He says He can do – “God, but…”. (tense!)  And in stark contrast when we completely surrender, we see how beautifully comfortable it is resting in His power – “…, but God.”(ahhhh-relax.)

There is no doubt in my mind or heart God is SOOOO not surprised by me and laughs (at my childishness) as He has been purposing particular struggles in me for kingdom lessons. Through pressure carbon becomes a diamond right? God, in his infinite wisdom, knows my heart so well and knows what I need to learn and just how I need to learn it. AND even more, having joy in spite of this thing, shows God’s power working in His child.  Glory to God.

In the middle of my everyday junk and discouragement, God speaks again. CLEARLY and LOUDLY, he speaks to His child. He doesn’t love me less, but calls me closer to Him for clarity and focus on His promises. I am daily in awe at how much He loves me and doesn’t let me run my own life anymore.  Even when things are hard and I lose my focus, throwing tantrums and such, He draws me near to Him. PRAISE HIM for shepherding even this one disobedient baby sheep!

I pray today you have already beaten this battle of saying “God, but…”.  If you (like me this week) are not yet there, I pray right now for you to turn your “God, but…”s into “…, but God.“s. I know He is waiting anxiously to hold you close, comfortably in his embrace of peace.  I urge you to find your bible, or a good friend with their bible or a spiritual mentor and let them speak encouragement in the middle of your tantrum. Allow them to lead you face down to the Father for wisdom, guidance and hope.  When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. [Psalm 34:17]

In Him, we have all hope.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. [1 Peter 1:3]

Humbly and thankfully In His Grip, Ashlee.

Fanning Flames

This morning I had the pleasure of having breakfast with some super women.  They are part of the group I prayed so hard God would send me.  There was a season of my life I did not have girlfriends and surely wasn’t surrounded by the Godly influences of women like He has brought into my life this last few years.  They are my #tribe and I love them well. Love with all I have. As do they. Which makes it all the more perfectly God sent.

The question came up “What stirs your emotions for Jesus?” WOW… that one is powerful. I just flat LOVE how this was stated.  (Thank you Jessica for bringing this to our table and directly to my heart!)

Then, “If all the obstacles were gone, what would you do for Jesus?” Followed only by “How is it going to feel to stand in front of Him and tell Him why you didn’t do just that thing?”  (None other than #iveyleague Mom slapped us with this one. POWERFUL.)

These questions have weighed on my heart all day.  What stirs me? What would I do with all obstacles removed?

As I went about my day working in the yard with Hubs, we eventually got around to some burning of leaves and sticks and such. That’s what you do in the our parts of the country… burn stuff. (I think all men have a secret pyromaniac inside.)  As the fire is burning, Hubs starts to blow leaves into the fire and then blows the fire itself.  This resulted in a much larger flame (which happens with fire and added oxygen, but no need for a science lesson – BORING!). As I watched the air increase the flames, it hit me.  My flame for Jesus is burning bright and it is in part because of the air of these women given to me by God himself.  They inspire me and come alongside me.  They declare and affirm how God intended us to love other women. In strength and aid. In word and deed. In act and prayer.

Just this morning we spent our breakfast time in sincere discussion about our love for Jesus, what he would have us to do and dreaming about how He is going to do it.  There were many laughs and probably some snorting, then tears even from trying to behave in a public restaurant.  (I mean we are representing Jesus LADIES, act like we graduated from middle school sometime sooner than last week, ok?)  I would give anything for these ladies, this time and their relationships.  They challenge me to look at my heart, my life, my choices, my relationships and then hold me accountable to line all up against the bible. They encourage when it’s necessary and re-direct when I begin to get off track.  These are the Barnabus relationships in my life.

Many praises and thanksgiving for them each and every one.  May we all keep “FANNING THE FLAME” of Jesus for one another.

Pray with me:  Dear Heavenly Father God.  Great is your faithfulness.  You care so much for us and know our hearts so well.  You created us women and knew we would have special needs to have other women in our lives.  You want us to have friends to walk beside us in this journey through a fallen world.   Thank you, Lord, for a love so evidenced in the people you put around us.  And God, I pray for the women who have not yet found their tribe.  Keep them close to you while you lead their path to the right women.  Your plan is perfect and we know these women will come for them too.   Thank you for another day, for salvation through your son and for hope eternal.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

In His Grip,  Ashlee

 

 

Day Three Hair – because it is a thing.

Disclaimer: This post has no deep value other than sharing my love of not washing my hair and the journey to being okay with it (and me).  And as much as I’d like to claim it has a lot to do with saving the natural proteins and blah blah blah in my precious hair follicles – honestly I’m just a little lazy in that area.  And three days, for non-oily hair person, isn’t really dirty hair.  (just saying)

I don’t wear short hair for a few reasons. One: it’s not too cute on me. I don’t have the perfectly shaped face (or body) to pull off the imbalance of less hair to the region starting at…well, my eyebrows- let’s be honest.  Two: I have crazy thin baby fine hair with a bizarro frizzy spot and an interesting cowlick of forty-seven baby cows.  (I dreamed about puppies last night. Totally unrelated. You are not confused – It’s me!) Three: Most importantly, you can put longer hair up. This is a huge help in my hair washings per week regimen goals.

So once upon a time, I would have never walked out of my house without being totally dressed with hair and makeup completely fixed.  This goes back to years when I was much younger and much more capable of pulling off the effortless “throw on a t-shirt and shorts/jeans” look.  I have never felt confident in my own skin and surely not enough to be okay with exactly who I was/am without some serious effort.

Fortunately, the more mature (older) I’ve gotten I have realized trying to be perfectly put together is exhausting. The reality, our outside doesn’t matter nearly as much as our insides and you can look pretty ugly in that perspective despite good hair and clothes.  Not a new concept, I know.  However despite the times we as women are told these truths, we continue to believe the lies of the world. We must keep reminding each other.

More so, I’ve grown spiritually and allowed God to work on my junk (striving for outward perfection being only SOME of my junk-hot mess wreck right here). I have come to cherish that God created me and made me in His image. And you. We are beautiful ladies.  That is so stinkin’ freeing!!!!

If we treat His image cultivated inside and outside ourselves with modesty, dignity and character (I mean don’t go out with your parts uncovered that should be covered), then we let His image that is engraved on our heart show to the world.  The world so desperately looking at our outside and trying to figure out what is different. With Jesus shining through us, suddenly the clothes, hair and face glow with Him!

So embrace day three hair with me for the pure time saving effort of getting ready to go. Then confidently walk in a precious “God-confidence” knowing He trusts, and expects, us to show the world Jesus. Almost dirty hair and all.

In His grip,  Ashlee

Additional disclaimer: Selfies make you look nothing like yourself according to a wise maternal figure very much like a mom (ok my mom-but I didn’t want to call her out 😉), so these selfies were purely in the interest of hair science research.  😂

Stacking Stones

One of my nearest and dearest and some of our closest girls, took part in IF:Gathering live stream event this year early in February.  At the end of the event we were all challenged to write on a domino a step we would be willing to take to lay our lives down in obedience to God’s call.

In discussions with this “near and dear” (aka only one of the best friends on the planet. She’s the fearless female leader of the world renowned #iveyleague. Totally love her, her entire family and mostly that God trusted her with me – I can be quite the handful!)…. ANYWAY, discussing our baby steps of obedience, she mentioned how cool it would be to have a jar of dominoes with all the steps of obedience we have taken in following God’s direction for our lives.  And since I love her more than Reese’s (which is a lot) and pretty much want to be her when I grow up, I immediately went to work on making my jar. I loved this visual, tangible way to be reminded of God in my life.

As I thought about my own family and how awesome God has been to us, I decided to make it a family jar.  I put our jar right smack in the middle of our kitchen table.  We are using it for not only God’s blessings in obedience but also reminders of all moments God has blessed.  It sits where we eat, where we pass daily to the laundry room and where we set things when we walk in.  It sits basically in the middle of our lives.  We can’t miss it and rarely does it not get asked about in the short time it has been there.  This is literally our real life modern day Joshua 4 stacking of stones!

Some days we will put our domino in together and some days we are surprised by new reminders added while the other(s) weren’t looking.  And some days I am sure we will pull them out as we so desperately need to be reminded of what God has already done.

I certainly don’t look forward to bad days, but I have hope in knowing when the storms come, we have a jar of amazing God memories. In the storm, we will remember each as a specific point of faith, blessing and goodness.  And we can confidently trust God for greater and greater works in the future, because we have seen and experienced His past faithfulness.

In His Grip, Ashlee

Joshua 4:6-7…”In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”