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.

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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. 

Now what?

I assure you this is not a political post – rather a post political post. I have purposefully tried not to add to the drowning of political melodrama over the last 18 or so months. I would much rather look at puppy pictures or see your babies and learn about your kids’ latest accomplishments or celebrate another year of marriage with you.  I truly rejoice in the blessings and joys of your life. Your happy makes me happy! Does that make me shallow? Perhaps. And if that is your opinion – you are free to have it. I still love you, in Jesus name.

And I don’t have my head in the sand, I am aware the election is over and there is a winner. The question I have is this, “Now what?”  Because the debate isn’t over and the arguing hasn’t stopped. Whether I personally am happy, sad or indifferent, what is my responsibility today, as a Christian, in this place where I find myself. “Now what”?

I’m glad I asked (I know you wanted to)… I’ve turned to my bible, my Christian leaders, trusted sources I read and prayed a lot.

If you have read much of my writing, you already know I believe strongly in my circle – starting for change inside of my reach. If I can impact my circle, to impact their circle, to impact their circle, pretty soon everyone is prayerfully impacted positively in someone’s circle. Just like if we all held hands, we would eventually all be connected somehow. It’s a lovely picture that I agree is not everyone’s plausible reality, but allow this girl her dreams, ok?

So, what does that look like?

The Gospel. First and always. People are searching for some inkling of hope and answers that rise above politics. What better opportunity to proclaim a God who will overcome anything in their lives, even in Washington, than right now?  First and always is the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love the person who didn’t vote like you. Don’t assume they are anything less that someone else Jesus died for on the cross at Calvary. Their stance or motive for their vote may be different, but they are still His.

Acknowledge people are scared and worried. Lots with good cause. Their communities don’t know what to expect and are weary of what is coming. Their concerns are real and their hearts are hurting. Don’t disregard their pain.

Name calling doesn’t get us anywhere. Simple, but true. Unfortunately, a necessary reminder.

Be wary of saying things like “God spoke in this election”. Number one, who am I to speak for God? And see the third point – does this attitude win the hurting people for the kingdom or make them feel alienated by a God they should trust?

We are Christians first. One family in God’s kingdom.

There is much to be said of the total sanctity of life, but plainly with no fault, ALL lives matter. In the womb and out, regardless of skin color or side of the badge. ALL.

Pray. I continue to seek the face of God in my life’s direction as well as the wisdom of our leadership. I do not believe God is surprised and I am certain He wants to hear from His people. Just as certain as I am He can and will do a mighty work in our nation to glorify Him.

In His Grip, from my circle, loving and longing for change. Ashlee

Pray with me:  Dear Heavenly Father God, wow what a whirlwind of emotions we bring to you this week God.  Thank you for opening your arms and your big ole daddy lap for us to find comfort when things are so out of control. You never cease to love or protect us and for that, I am so incredible grateful. God, please bestow upon me, your daughter a supernatural strength to love in the unloveable junk of this world. Give me wisdom of when to speak and when to be quiet. Mold me and my attitude so that all would see your works in my life. We’ve come so far, with you working on me, and God I can’t wait to keep going. Always my prayer – help me impact the kingdom for you Lord. In Jesus precious holy name. Amen.

 

November… worshipful gratitude

Worship.  Being worshipful.  Worshiping.

I’ve been dwelling on this word for some time now. Such a high calling for the Christian. What does it mean to you? I’ve explored what it means to me and as we enter into November, the season of thanks, I’ve resolve even more than ever a heart that is truly grateful is worshipful.

There are many text in scripture I’ve studied in my attempt to fully understand an attitude of worship. I found myself resting in quiet times again and again on Hebrew 12:28-29, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

Do you see?  1) Be grateful for the gift of the kingdom.  2) The kingdom that can’t be shaken. 3) Therefore worship in reverence and awe 4) God is all-consuming.

Not only have we received an amazing gift, but the gift can’t be taken from us. And because of such an amazing gift, how can we help but be in total face down on the floor worship of a God that is all-consuming in our hearts and lives.

The season of November gets forgotten more and more in today’s fast pace rush to Christmas. I love the world is excited in anticipation of the Christmas season and yes – Jesus is the best gift ever (like -ever!) and Christmas is all about Jesus’s birthday. However, the whole reason for his birth, was to save us. God sent him because He loved us and wanted a way for us to be with Him forever. Jesus was born to die for my sins. And that feels like something to be grateful for and get worshipful over.

I am sinking my feet firmly this year in a full on celebration with a grateful heart ready to find my quiet moments of worship to the Lord who has given me so much. Every single day I am grateful for my salvation. I hope to find an infinite amount of moments to thank God in worship for what He has done for me.

In His grip, Ashlee

Pray with me:  Dear Heavenly Father God, I love you and praise you. I am continually humbled to come into your presence in prayer. I bow my unworthy head as I thank you for all you gave for me and all you have brought me out of. I read today, God, “We all have chapters in our story we don’t read out loud”. Oh my, Father, how much we know that’s true of me. Yet you provided an unshakeable gift for me. A gift for us all. Thank you for all you have done and will do to bring peace in the crazy, joy in the sadness and love in the hatred of our lives. November is all about gratitude and worship as we prepare for a huge birthday celebration in December. In Jesus’ precious and holy name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Peaceful

There are moments, days, weeks where my anxiety reaches unmanageable levels. Despite my attempts to remain focused on today and leave tomorrow’s problems to deal with themselves (Matthew 6:34), I find myself focused on planning and obsessing on all the “what if” scenarios. I know what the scriptures tell me and I pray for the peace of God to fill me in these moments. My worry about one thing filters over and creates worry about areas God has already so richly blessed. Do you ever do the same?

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious in anything but in all things through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests made known to God and then peace of God which surpasses all understand will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I am shouting this reminder in my soul. My heart desire is to rest peacefully in the promises of Jesus. May this scripture bring inexplicable peace over my life and yours if you struggle in this same way.

When I focus on what I know is true, I am reminded even in the darkest days of my life, God has always been there. He has provided and brought peace in the toughest of circumstances. I say this not in any light manner, but from real experiences.

When my husband was laying in ICU after full cardiac arrest and we were uncertain he would survive, God was there. More than ever before, I felt the tangible arms of God wrapped solidly around and holding me firmly in a peace I could not understand.

I am more than thankful for everything my heavenly Father has done to bring peace and rest and security to my life. I long for that same “crisis comfort” in the day-to-day struggles. I wonder how we can feel less peace in the small things and rest so peacefully in the hardest times of life. Even in my wondering, I am completely confident God would not lead us in a direction that is not going to be glorious in his absolute sovereignty.

I seek his face and his comfort in my anxieties of today. I give all worries for tomorrow back over to Him trusting He has total control. I find a peace in the whirlwind of life remembering how he has never failed us. He is incapable of not keeping his promises! He loves us and expects our face to rest solidly upon Him for our path of peacefulness.

In His grip, Ashlee

Pray with me:  Dear Gracious heavenly Father God, Thank you for caring about even the smallest of anxieties when they trouble the hearts of your children.  Even when you are in complete control, you recognize our inability to find peace in this world.  Guide us continually back to you as we search for comfort and security in your ways. And when we do get stressed out in life, allow us to find grace for ourselves and not allow our worry to create more worry you don’t intend us to carry.  Lead us, Lord, along your path of peace.  In  your son’s name, we pray.  Amen.

Gone too soon

When we lose someone suddenly it feels so completely illogical and unnecessary.  I struggle aligning a good God with such pain. As I watch the aftermath of a life too soon departed, even knowing the hope of eternity, in my human heart I ache for the loss. I watch the heart-breaking pain and grieving asking God why so soon? Why now? Why not one more hug? One more chance to see children and grandchildren? One more I love you?

It’s just not fair and she (or he) didn’t deserve this.

I know technically, none of us deserve to live long lives, and God doesn’t owe us anything. Yet the reality remains, even when God is so fair and so just, His plans rarely make a lot of sense to us.  A young man dying before he graduates high school doesn’t make any sense. A friend watching her husband suffer and die from cancer makes no sense. A mother watching her child suffer and pass before her time does not make sense. A kind tender selfless soul leaving this earth suddenly at only 57 makes no sense. Not to me.

I find myself saying, “it’s just too soon”. And humanly, it is too soon. We are sad and grieve.  However, doesn’t that make it sound like the whole world is just really random and out of control? Wouldn’t that be totally meaningless?  There is good news in which, if I can find the strength, I can find comfort. The good news for all of us grieving – even when we are sad and deeply wish we hadn’t lost someone and beg for it to all be a bad dream – it is never random or meaningless.  The timing of our Lord and Savior is always right and He is always just in when He decides to take us home.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says  “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”  For those of us who know God and have faith in His complete sovereignty over all things, including the timing of our lives for that matter, we are able to claim this scripture with confidence “there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him” [Ecclesiastes 8:6] since “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” [Ecclesiastes 3:1].  We must depend on God’s timing to be perfect, even when we here on earth are not. Even when we don’t understand this side of eternity. Even when our hearts of so full of pain.

The only way to align this to our Good Good Father is to fully understand the world we live in is not the world He designed for us.  A world where accidents happen and cancer happens and sickness happens and people die young, just isn’t the world God designed.  We live in a fallen world.  We are left here to try to understand why the things that happen, happen.  But as we struggle, we hope in eternity spent with Christ. His shed blood is our promise when we believe in and rest on Jesus.

I know in heaven it will all make more sense and I know I will see Teresa there.

In His Grip, Ashlee

Pray with Me: Dear Heavenly Father God, our hearts are broken over such loss.  And we can’t make sense of the pain we feel here and now. We do believe in you and we do rest our hope in your complete sovereignty. We ask you bring peace and comfort during this time to all those who have lost loved ones and we ask you bring a blessed assurance to our own lives that we too will celebrate in heaven with all the saints who have gone before and spend our eternity in perfection. For any that do not know you, God, I pray they would come to meet you personally and find perfected freedom in the Cross.  In Jesus precious name, Amen.

In loving Memory of Teresa Elaine Vickers.  7/24/1959 – 10/10/2016

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Broken created beautiful

Do you ever feel just flat broken?  So many times I do.  I live in this space of not quite having myself pulled together. The outside might look pretty “with it”, but the personal images of my brokenness have tormented me for some years.  So yes, broken, what a perfect word to encompass the fullness of an emotional undertone of my personal image. I struggle living with self-doubt, guilt, shame, poor self-esteem and inadequacy. All these make me feel nothing more than “broken”.

I let the world’s image of broken taint my image of myself. How can something broken be of any good use?  There are landfills full of this world’s cast aside broken materials. A broken toy is no good for the child’s play anymore. A broken dish becomes trash. A broken necklace may require a trip to the jeweler for repair.

The enemy wants nothing more than for me to hide my broken from God.  Yet, God sees all the history of my sins and knows all the shattered pieces of my soul when I was trapped in sin. The times I allowed my faith to be shoved aside in the pursuit of worldly ambition and success, He knows.  He knows and waits patiently for me to give him the pieces.

Oh, my heart breaks for the times I have not respected who God created me to be.  Even still in these feelings of shame and brokenness, I rejoice in God who is my jeweler. I give all the pieces of my brokenness to my Savior and he makes something beautiful. He shapes my life for his glory and nothing could be more gorgeous in His eyes.

All that I am, all the pieces of me, I surrender to my Lord.  In this total surrender, God is able to cleanse every part of me and make something worthy of bringing him glory.  “For I am his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that I should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) A work of art. Created specifically by Him for the purpose of good works.  In eternity past, God prepared these good works that He will accomplish in and through each believer by the power of his indwelling spirit.  I beg Him for this reminder as I speak the affirmation of His work over me.  I seek His continued cleansing daily, asking He make revelations deep in my heart of how I may live for him and live full of the beauty he created me to be. A masterpiece.

I know my God does not see my sin, but sees the purity of my heart. He wants nothing more than to be able to quiet the reminders of the world through my obedience to his plans for my life. He wants me to know He sees me, and you, not broken but created beautiful.

In His Grip, Ashlee

Pray with me: Dear Heavenly Father God. Wow, thank you for such an insurmountable love that would take the mess I make of my life, including my disobedience, and see something worthy of creating beautiful for your purposes. My heart is overwhelmed when I imagine the way you see me through the lens of your son and my soul is crumbled by the weight of my sins on him so that you could actually see me that way despite myself but only because of him.  Amazing Grace.  Such grace upon grace.  Thank you Lord.  In Jesus name, and only through his blood, I pray. Amen

 

Building Bridges & Closing Gaps

Deep breath. Please read forward with an open mind and an attitude of grace.  This was a hard one.

Here I sit, a white female, sharing my heart and gut on the topic of racism. Some may say I write from a predestined air of having no idea what I’m talking about and you are, in some degree, probably right. I have never felt the mistreatment due to the color of my skin. Others would argue that I might have felt the discrimination of being a woman. I can’t honestly say that I have. Either I’ve chosen not to see it through my rose-colored glasses or I’ve truly not been a victim of such discrimination.  Bottom line, I can’t personally say someone has discriminated against me and therefore, I don’t claim to write from a victim’s vantage point.

I write from my heart. A heart which is broken in today’s world. A heart convinced Jesus is brokenhearted as well. I’ve been searching to align with Jesus’s perspective. To learn God’s direction in the one true book to follow – The Bible.

I was immediately drawn to the biblical reality there is really only one true race – the human race.  In Acts 17:26, Paul teaches we all came from the same source of creation, “from one blood every nation of men”. One blood. In other words, there are no superior or inferior races. We are all from the same race: the human race created in the image of God our Father. Superficial differences in skin color, hair color, hair texture, or eye shape may provide physiological differences between people groups. But the Bible doesn’t provide any justification for treating people differently simply because of these physical differences.

I’m not suggesting there isn’t an issue. Oh, completely the contrary. The issue of racism or ethnic prejudices are running rampant in a terribly fallen world.  I’m only suggesting, above, racism is not biblical at the root of creation.  I think we can agree.

However sadly, the first scene of the prejudice plague on our fallen humanity can be found biblically in the Old Testament. God divided humanity into two groups: Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were an ethnic group of people descending from Jacob. A Gentile was, well plainly, everyone else. God desired for the Jews to lovingly minister to the Gentiles in a way that honored and glorified Him. However, the Jewish people mostly became prideful of the status from God and ended up hating the Gentiles. Thankfully, Jesus Christ put an end to this, breaking down the dividing wall of hatred between the two ethnicities. In Ephesians 2:14, we learn of Christ our peace, who made both one, and broke down the wall of separation.

If we all lived in accordance to the teachings of Jesus without fail, we’d already be in heaven, not still here on earth in our fleshly sinful nature. Therefore, we have issues and race has become a big issue either due to pride or fear or insecurities. That which is different from us, scares us in one way or another. We shy away from discussions about our differences because they tend to become uncomfortable or awkward or feelings get hurt.

So, in my deep heart’s desire, I ask; “what can I do, as a Christian, to build bridges and close gaps?”

  • I must accept my own responsibility in the problem. I have to accept where I have an unaddressed preconceived inappropriate mindset and take it to the foot of the cross. Repent and seek correction.  Over and over again.
  • I must not pretend prejudices don’t exist just because they don’t negatively impact me personally.
  • I must not become offended by things like “Black Lives Matter”.  Yes, all lives matter, but do all lives currently feel a personal persecution?  Does saying “Black Lives Matter” necessarily mean all lives don’t? No.
  • I must be compassionate and culturally sensitive.
  • I must tolerate, in the biblical sense of the word, taking the time to listen and understand other people. Build bridges. Break down the isolation between races and cultures.
  • I must not think myself superior. Paul tell us in Romans 12:3 that a man should not “think more highly of himself than he ought to think.”
  • I must treat all others kindly and lovingly. Friendly, open communication is important, as well as is flexibility and keeping an open-mind.  “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” 1 John 4:7
  • I must focus on how to enhance my ability to bridge a racial and cultural gap.
  • I must be willing to have the conversation.
  • I must, in any way possible, point to Jesus. He is the ultimate answer and cure.

I do  not have all the answers, nor do I believe my tiny corner of the world will make global change. My prayer always remains, my circle be blessed because of what Jesus has done in me.  In Him, I seek obedience and rest my hope.

In Christ, I hope in this glorious conclusion. Despite how bad we as humans mess things up on the topic of race, with Christ, there is no favoritism on account of birth, beauty, or blood.  ALL at the foot of the cross are sinners and ALL at the communion table are saved by the same amazing grace.  Praise God.

In His Grip, Ashlee

Pray with me:  Heavenly Father God, I love you. Thank you for pressing this topic deep into my heart and giving me the courage to share it. I pray, we can find healing in a world wrecked with hurt over issues of our differences and hatred. Give us all a spirit of peace, love and understanding. Help us to live a life focused first on Jesus, empathizing openly with each other.  Mold our hearts toward you God. Until you draw us to heaven where we will live in complete peace, remind us we are all your children here and your son died to save us all.  In His precious name I pray. Amen.

I helped write it….

Y’ALL!  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!!!

I can’t remember the last time I was this excited and shocked.  Several weeks ago, I stepped out on a limb and submitted an entry for possible inclusion in a published devotional for this advent season.  I have just learned today, I was accepted!!

Y’all – I HELPED WRITE THE AMEN PAPER ADVENT DEVOTIONAL!!!

Thank you for your kind words to my writing here. You encouraged me to get really crazy uncomfortable, trust God all the more fully and take a chance on this amazing opportunity. Never ever did I really believe I would be selected, but God knew! He’s so stinkin’ cool like that!!!!

(Exclamation marks should be read with crazy enthusiam. The more the better! yay!!!)

Pre-sales start tomorrow, Thursday, September 15. More information to follow!!

In His Grip, Ashlee

Pray with me:  Thank you Lord for exciting days. Thank you for all the times you show up and surprise us in the middle of the mundane of life. Your love for us never stops amazing me and humbling me. God, through this, remind me how much obedience to your call matters more than fear of failure. Encourage others to step out in all the more faith with you knowing your plans in our obedience are better than anything we can imagine alone.  In Jesus Name! AMEN.