That’s a wrap 2016

Did you set goals for 2016? Did you conquer the tasks you lay ahead of you or are you like me in some past years and barely remember what the goals you set were?

For 2016, I made a real intentional effort to set viable goals. I shared them with my closest people and placed them where I had to read the list often. In making my list, I tried to think of what failed in the past. Maybe before I was too worried about the results in a year, rather than the process of improvement to get to the goal? I meant to approached 2016 differently. I wanted to leave 2016 a better person than I was in 2015.

I find reviewing my list often, sets the tone for my day-to-day decisions. Do the actions in my day line up with my goals for the year?  When decisions have to be made and priorities set, am I taking to heart my goals I set with purpose?  Am I big picture minded in my small actions? Approaching my year in this way, I find real meaningful life change happens more often. And I pray, the root of my core values are obvious on the outside to the people I seek to love well.

As I begin to set my targets in 2017, in reviewing my 2016 goals I feel a solid sense of accomplishment. I did not win every day, but I won a lot! I did the tangible things I set out to do – started this blog and did not one, but two, 5Ks.

CrossFit DGA 12.31.16

Seems to me like little tiny changes are so much easier to accomplish. For example: “LOSE 50 LBS this year” is pretty dang daunting, but “Be Active #everyotherdayin2K16” is attainable. I probably didn’t 100% succeed, but I did get moving and my life is certainly more active now than a year ago!  No I didn’t lose 50 lbs (I lost some), but I didn’t set out to lose weight, I set out to be active and the rest is a positive byproduct of my new lifestyle.


I believe with the help of God, I have become a better friend, a better mom, a better wife, a better daughter and most of all a better child of God. Growing closer to God, seeking truth above all else, was the plan, the rest is an incredible byproduct of His work in my heart and life. His molding me to be discipled and disciple others. His hard lessons that have taught me more about living submissively than I ever wished to learn! Living second to Jesus and sharing the gospel in my word and deed – all have made me better than I was 365 days ago.

It has been said that writing down your goals makes you 72% more likely to succeed. Sharing them with someone increases that percentage by 10 more points.  Write them down, share with your people and place them where you are going to see them everyday. Then use those goals to live out 2017 being the best you possible!

I intend to and I’ll share the new goals with you as well – we can do this together!!

Most importantly, I remain In His Grip!  Ashlee

Pray with me: Dear Heavenly Father God… thank you for another year in the books. Even when that year was hard in ways and not everyday felt like a major win. Thank you for the strength to keep moving forward and the courage to face the trials in your protection. We have no idea what lies ahead, but we know you do and in that, we have confidence. Thank you for loving us and keeping us in your grip.  In your son’s name, Amen.

the JOY candle

The third Sunday of Advent we light the rose colored candle representing Joy. I am so enjoying my Sunday early morning devotional times with my advent wreath. Some waaaay earlier than I had intended, but I will thank my good buddy Insomnia for this one. And thank you, God, for meeting me in these restless moments with such clarity of your word.

On a sacred night over 2,000 years ago a tiny baby was born. The angels heralded, wise men came bearing gifts, shepherds hurried to the village – all in worship and wonder for a baby King. What a marvelous night when God sent His son to be born with the purpose of saving us from our sins and reuniting us with Him.

Today we still celebrate all the magnificent joy that comes with the birth of our Savior King, God in man’s form.  And we stand in wonder and awe that God would send his son to this fallen world corrupted by our sinful natures.  We rejoice knowing God is doing something new, and that nothing can stop His plan. There is such amazing comfort and great joy, even as we still live in a world wrecked with such sorrow and pain.

Jesus said to his disciples: ….I tell you the truth, a time is approaching when you will weep and mourn while the world is celebrating. You will grieve, but that grief will give birth to great joy. In the same way that a woman labors in great pain during childbirth only to forget the intensity of the pain when she holds her child, when I return, your labored grief will also change into a joy that cannot be stolen.

When all this transpires, you will finally have the answers you have been seeking. I tell you the truth, anything you ask of the Father in My name, He will give to you. Until this moment, you have not sought after anything in My name. Ask and you will receive so that you will be filled with joy. [John 16:20-24]

Jesus prepared us through His words to the disciples, we will feel pain and mourn. We will grieve and suffer in this life. And still, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all the people”, the angel says [Luke 2:11].  ALL the people – that’s us! Great joy for me and you.  Despite our circumstances. Amen?!

As I’ve been learning more about the origin and meaning of advent, this hymn has touched a more tender spot in my heart this year.

O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appears
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save and give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to thee, O Israel.

So, on this third Sunday of advent, we light the rose colored joy candle with hearts full. Full of Christ. Full of peace rooted in knowledge of all that He has done, is doing and will continue to do. We are ransomed, we are free, dark shadows in flight. Now and forever more.

In His Grip,  Ashlee

Pray with me: Dear Heavenly Father God, I love you and praise you Lord. Thank you for the opportunity to come into your presence whenever and whereever and however many times we need.  For the times, we don’t have the words, thank you for just taking our heart as we lay them open to you. You know I’ve found comfort in these words represented this advent season, God. When all my heart can say is “Yes Lord, please HOPE, please PEACE, please JOY…” you have known the full weight of my burdens and troubles all while I rejoice in you. There is such peace at your feet. When my heart breaks-you hold the pieces together. What an amazing God you are.  Thank you for advent and thank you for Jesus.  It is in His Name I pray, Amen. 

Faking Faithful

No, I don’t think my faith is fake. I know it is very real and sustains me through the solid rocks as well as the muck and the mire of life. I more than realize without God, I’d be rocking in a corner somewhere repeating ineligible words to myself. Or worse.

Even still, I find myself right smack in the middle of my own crisis regarding my faith. I spend a lot of time questioning my depth.  Am I really rooted in the word of Christ? Rooted firmly such that the storms of life can’t blow me down? I would say yes…. yet, my heart still feels unsettled. Something short of peaceful. Lacking a certain element of joy. Wouldn’t a truly faithful person have peace that passes all understanding?  A joy in the middle of sorrow that only Christ is the explanation of?  I’ve been there before – even when things seemed they couldn’t get harder, I was peaceful. Where does that peace go? And what do you do to find it again?

In the middle of these personal battles, I push myself to remember the truth of the word of God. The truth about exactly where that doubt and confusion comes from. And well really, where it does not come from.  In John 10:10, Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” My struggles delight the enemy and break the heart of my Lord. The Good Shepherd protects his flock and would lay his life down for them, how can I believe he would have left me or forgotten  me? Although, I do. Forget.

For those of us who believe in the word of God, this is relatively easy concept intellectually to grasp… God loves me and will protect me and wants to bring the best for those who love him and are called according to his purposes (Rom 8:28). I guess just due to the amazing complexity in which we are created, our hearts struggle to grasp what our mind understands and times our mind can’t grasp what our heart feels. At least that’s true for me. It’s hard to believe the goodness of the Lord is meant even for me with all my many faults and times I have let him down. Then, on top of my own self persecution, add in all the outside forces of a fallen world pressing hard into our fears and insecurities reminding us daily we couldn’t really be that loved. If you really understand grace and mercy, you are full aware none of us deserve God’s love – but that’s a different subject. Don’t get hung up there – grace and mercy are to be celebrated, not more cause for fear.  Remember, fear is not of God!

Like me, if you have times of such deep heart struggle you convince yourself you’ve just been faking faithful all along… don’t fake being okay. You only hurt yourself and potentially, your relationship with Christ more. Be real with what you are going through, feeling and thinking. God’s shoulders are plenty big enough for our frustrations and discontent. Only at the foot of the cross will we find the peace we so long for.

Find a trusted source of Godly wisdom to remind you the things your heart is currently forgetting. Whatever you do – just don’t let it stop you from seeking Him. Don’t give up. I won’t.

Remind me? I’ll remind you too….

In His Grip, Ashlee

Pray with me: Dear Heavenly Father God, thank you so much for never loosening the grip you have on me. My soul grows weary and I question so many things in myself, yet you hold on. I even find myself questioning you, Lord, and even still you hold on totally understanding my personality enough to know where my weaknesses are. Where I am weak, God make me strong allowing YOUR power to work in my failings. God, may my struggles allow someone else to face their struggle stronger as well. May we all continue seeking peace in you.  In Jesus name, Amen.