ABOUT or FOR?

Have you ever considered the words ABOUT and FOR?  Before you say, “who cares!?”, stick with me – I’m going somewhere.  To really explore, let’s look at the difference the words mean when used in context.  If I say, “Tell me something about yourself” or “Tell me something for yourself”, would you answer the same way?  I tend to think not because they are pretty much different questions.

Look at it this way –

ABOUT yourself means with regard to yourself.

FOR yourself means for your benefit.

Now that  we have gone to English class, “so what” right?

Let’s take a step on over in our prayer life. Have you ever considered the difference in praying ABOUT someone and praying FOR them? Pretend for a minute you have not and I just enlightened you as much as I have personally seen light bulbs go off in my spiritual world lately.

I have spent many hours in my prayer life praying about relationships. I mean to tell you good long desperate hours seeking the face on my savior regarding people so near and dear to me.  I’ve gone face down prostrate to my master in request. I’ve wondered when God was going to act and felt long-term heart ache as I wait for reconciliation. To me, to God, to each other.

As I wait for their demons to become chained in the blood of Jesus.

As I wait for them to come to peace with God.

As I wait for their hurting to stop.

As I wait for their running to stop as they fall safe in the arms of God.

Remember the light bulbs?  It occurred to me while I was laying my face on the ground in front of my Father God…..I may have also been pounding my feet and fists in something of a two-year old tantrum.  Maybe, just maybe, many of my prayers sounded a lot like “God – change them!”, “Fix them!”, “Teach them a lesson”, “Oh, if only they knew you Lord” “…. spent more time with you God”, “…. were more obedient”.  You get the idea. Lots and lots of praying ABOUT.

I believe God has been waiting patiently for me. Listening, looking over to the right side of the throne and chuckling with Jesus. Probably saying, “this one, always going back to the same mistakes, is a little dense, ya think son?”  I think Jesus in all his redeeming glory might say “She means well Dad”.  I mean I’m sure they talk about us… aren’t you?

Fortunately, somewhere someone is praying FOR me as well as Jesus himself is personally interceding on my behalf with our Father. Hence – light bulbs!   This particular light was sparked from a conversation with a dear friend (Rachel – LOVE her).  Through her gently suggesting, I had some real revelation with God in my quiet time. I’m pretty sure she was His instrument in this timing.

Now, my heart is turned soft in my prayers FOR my people.

As I pray Jesus protect them from the demons they struggle against.

As I pray the peace of God to overcome their heart in troubled times.

As I pray their hurts will disappear.

As I pray God’s arms safely catch them when they feel His great grace.

Coming in line with God’s perfect will and desires for all of His children creates a love in my heart for others rather than my personal rant session I was having with God about them.

Maybe you too?  Maybe it was just me… either way, Good stuff God!!

In His Grip,  Ashlee

Pray with me:  Dear Heavenly Father God, thank you for sending us messages through your children you very deliberately put in our lives. This message I personally so needed to hear and maybe others too Lord.  I surely needed to get over myself. Give me the heart to pray for others rather than about others. I want to pray in their benefit not just describing them or their current struggles.  I pray for myself, God, that I would have a softened heart always remembering I will never look someone in the eye your son did not die for.  We are all your children and I am honored to come into your presence with prayer. Continue to correct me when I need it God.  Help us all remember.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

King of the World

I have to know – have you heard this song by Natalie Grant?

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world.
How could I make you so small when you’re the one who holds it all?
When did I forget you’ve always been the king of the world?
You will always be the king of the world.

Oh my heart…. this has so spoken to and touched me in a deep deep way bringing clarity to my weary mind.

It has been a long 18 months around my world. I have worked really hard at seeing the good in all things and being positive. Although a solid attribute to have, I inadvertently have convinced myself talking about the hard times would somehow be a weakness of faith or cause someone else to not be as faithful in their hard.  Or even that somehow saying “this is hard” negates how honestly blessed I feel.  Actually, the “hard” for me is a portion of where this blog was born.  Birthed through growth when I hurt, growth in God speaking to my broken and tired soul. Strength grown, even through the struggles, knowing God has time and time again been faithful in the hardest of my days.

But, the reality is, some days really are the hardest. In the last 18 months I have had four immediate family members spend a collective 35 days in the hospital through 8 surgeries/procedures, countless doctor appointments and an ever-changing medicine regime to manage on top of the regular ups and downs of life and work and home and empty nests and not-so-empty nests… and… We all have our own “and…”.  As a wife/mom/daughter, there truly is nothing more I want to do than nurture and care for my family, yet there are hard days. Days I am tired physically and emotionally.

The more tired I become, the less energy I have had and in full disclosure my time with God has been suffering. For a while. This is reality friends.  As I began to realize the slump of ‘going through the motions’ I had to pull myself out of, I realized “Why when we know what we need the most to get through the hardest of days, do we feel it’s the first thing we can let go of?”  It is as silly as saying, “Here is the medicine that will make you well, but leave it on the shelf and don’t take it. ”  Makes lots of sense huh? Not too deep to have taken me a few months to realize. (I am smarter than I behave, I promise.)

When I first heard this song by Natalie Grant, I was so convicted I literally broke into tears. I had been feeling so weak on my own. In that weakness, I was overwhelmed with the weight of our life’s circumstances. I have been completely sure my tiredness meant I was a failure at the harder times in life. When I don’t feel joyful in my tough moments, I wonder what is wrong with me. Through Natalie’s precious voice, I realized – these are the days when I have taken life back out of His hands and have tried to do it all on my own.  Through such clear words, this song reminds me He never intended me to handle anything in my own strength.

I have said before, I write about what I struggle with in hopes someone else will grow with me. If you are struggling to handle your “hard” in life on your own, learn and grow and be reminded along with me.  Let’s give it back to God and our successes will be that much more kingdom glorifying when we say “I could never have done it on my own. God carried me!”

And rest in this truth with confidence – My struggle doesn’t mean I don’t love God or trust Him or that I am failing at living faithfully. It just means I need Him that much more. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus tells us, Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  I pray for you today, and please do the same for me, that you make quiet time for God. Let Him speak life into your tired and strength into your weary. Give your circumstances back to God and let Him be King of the World – His track record is way better than ours.

In His Grip, Ashlee

Pray with me: Dear Heavenly Father, We love you and we praise your amazing love for us. I stand in awe at how patient you are with me Father. Right now, God, remind us that you are in control. Remind us of your sovereignty in a very tangible way. May there be a peace come over our lives that we cannot explain any other way than through praises and glorifying of you as the provider of all strength, rest and provision.  Father remind us when we grow weary, you are the place of rest and the energy source we most need.  When we are tempted to take things back over into our own control, remind us that you are the King of the World and we can trust you as our refuge and fortress. Help us to be confident even when we feel weak and like we are failing.  We are already conquerors through your son Jesus and it is in his name we pray, Amen.

Get in the Circle

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted and more than a couple of my dear friends have asked if I was planning on posting soon or if I would post on certain topics.  So, it is time to tangibly process through the events of the last month(s). Welcome to my stream of consciousness one topic at a time.

My heart hurts.  Like really hurts over the pain of this world. There is so much ugly with a constant reminder of such a fallen world. People fighting over which lives matters more and politicians shooting arrows of deceit across party lines. Well meaning sweet people throwing condescending opinions toward anyone who doesn’t rest their backside solidly on their well-meant sweet bandwagon. All of it makes me sad. I think God is sad too. (or at least disappointed.)

I keep going over in my head how to do something, anything, to make things better. I flip-flop between feeling so insignificantly capable of making a change in the huge world of struggle to feeling a burning desire larger than my body can handle to just DO SOMETHING.  But what?  What can I do? What can you do?

I found myself on more than one occasion saying, “If more Christians would love like Jesus, things would get better.”  It is a grand plan. I can easily say, “If all Christians would just be true Christ followers and behave like Jesus, loving like Jesus, the world would get better.”  This is such a great idea and so solid a statement.  However it is a lot to say, and even more to expect, the whole population of Christians to change on a statement made by someone who maybe hasn’t even taken their own advice.

You see times I said this statement with an air of smugness and judgement.  I have to confess, I thought if this or that super Godly person would just act super Godly, there would be one less ounce of harm in the world.  Do you see anything wrong with that? Notice any smidge of hypocrisy coming from me there?  {Geeez, why didn’t you point it out before I had to be hit in the face with it….. 😉  What is “super Godly” anyway – did someone wake up less human and less flawed?

Once I decided to quit being so super un-God honoring with my own attitude, I reflected on a strong point I had heard months before.  While doing a ladies group study on Gideon by Priscilla Shirer, she was talking about creating a circle of revival right where we are. It is all about drawing a circle around yourself and beginning that impact where you are. You see – change begins inside the circle, with me.

Not sure who Priscilla Shirer is? You must immediately check her out here http://www.goingbeyond.com/blog/

During all the grossness that has become our culture, I’ve come to realize the only way I can impact and the best way I can honor God is exactly as Priscilla said, to start with me. As I work on me, I should pour that into the people in my circle. Then ask them to create their circle and pour into their people. Create revival, which is after all an improvement in the condition or strength of something. Couldn’t we use some improvement in the condition and strength of our world?

We need revival and we need it to start in us. Christian women loving Jesus, loving like Jesus and loving our circle.

My circle is drawn and my commitment has been made. Join me.

In His Grip, Ashlee.

Pray with me: Dear Heavenly Father God, We love you so much and are so in awe of all you have given us. Your love never fails even as we tear your world apart and hurt your children. Thank you for loving us so much.  God, give us the power to generate real revival on earth starting inside each of our circles of influence. Hold our tongues and have us speak edifying truth into each other and allow us to learn to really love like Jesus loves us.  We are asking you now God to show up in our circles, impact us so that we may impact for your glory.  In Jesus name we pray. Amen

 

Comparing ourselves contradicts God

First – I hope you haven’t thought I’ve fallen off the face of the earth! Summer has been so busy thus far. Forgive my lack of communication in my writing.

Secondly, I really want to share with you about my cheer girls!!  I had the privilege and honor to speak a couple of weeks ago at our WLHS Football Cheer camp.  Let me just tell you that working with these young women flat out never gets old. Over the past years of this opportunity, a place in my heart is reserved for these young women. I’ve had so many moments with God talking about these women, asking for protection and prudence in their lives. Begging for a safe place for them to land and that they would have the courage to ask for help when they need it. I remember my life at their age so well and it wasn’t the rose-covered garden I portrayed on the outside. I’ve prayed many times, “let me be the person I needed when I was younger.”  Pray with me, “God work! In Jesus Name. Amen.”

My cheer friends and I talked this time about a topic God specifically laid on my heart at pretty much the last-minute. Perhaps God whispered a sweet reminder for myself as much as for them, so I figured you (all three of you who read this blog 😉 ) might also need the Godly reminders we covered.

When God made you, He made you right!  We must stop comparing ourselves to others. All the skills we need to be exactly what God created us to be are already innately woven into the fabric of our being. He created us specifically for our purpose and gave us exactly what we need to do that purpose. We are His workmanship. Ephesians 2:10 tell us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Workmanship-A work of art put together well. We were put together well just like we are by God our creator.  Such a comfort in that, right?

Lay down your own plans and dreams.  Basically the key word is “own”.  Not that we shouldn’t have dreams, but that we should seek God’s plan over our own. We can’t do it all alone in our own power. In Romans 12:1, we are urged by Paul “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Living for God is not only our spiritual but our physical act of worship to our Lord. In that, we must view all things we do, even the most mundane, as worshiping right where we are in the very day that God placed us.

Make a list of what you are good at or comes naturally to you.  “Maximum efficiency and minimum weariness” is exactly where God wants us. Our gifts given by God are not to be difficult. Meaning, we may need to practice and perfect our talents, but the God given talents are what comes more naturally to us.  This is where we should focus our work and worship. Romans 12:2-8, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith (think of this as talents given to us) that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us (again talents assigned), let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”  Basically, friends, run in our own lane. Find where God wants us and work there.

Whatever your gifts, use them now.   Begin to use where we see God leading us right now. Don’t wait for the big thing or the big break or the best idea. The everyday things are never ordinary to God. The person who happens to cross our path may just be a God given “glory moment” for us to make a major impact in that person’s life. When we feel the urge of the Lord pushing you forward, we must act on it.  Just yesterday I failed on this. 😦 Someone was sharing a tough time in their life and I felt God saying to me “Pray with her right now” and I did not because of where we were and worried it would make her uncomfortable. SHAME ON ME PEOPLE! I need to go to her and make this right, pray with her now. I promise to do this today. Hold me accountable.

Focus on what is right in front of us.  Right now, right here, TODAY. These people and this time. If we have huge dreams and God expands those dreams to enormous impact – WONDERFUL!  However, if God choses to deepen our impact on the smaller scale of where we are right this minute, we need to find great comfort where we are and doing what He has given us today. We can’t be handicapped to the good things of today because we are dreaming of the largest things of tomorrow.  I like to put it this way, “Don’t be some thing crippled because you are everything minded.”   Example – I’d love to write a book. I dream about it. But should I quit writing a blog because I don’t have a publishing contract? Uhm – NO. (Besides, my dream is not ready to be more than a dream. I’m not convinced it’s God’s dream for me. see point two. 🙂 )

We have to stop trying to be what God didn’t make us to be.   Here we have to quit looking left and right at all we wish we were and embrace the way we are as the best way God saw us to be.  WORKMANSHIP -remember?  No matter how much I want to be taller, God saw best for me to be short. All the wanting and wishing will bring me a sadness God does not intend for me to carry.

Lastly, let’s celebrate what God made us to be and allow ourselves to love who we are in Christ. 

The reality is God made us in His image and we are in that regard #patternedinperfection.

In His grip, Ashlee

Pray with me:  Oh Heavening Father God, thank you for all that you have created in the world including us. Allow us to see ourselves as you do and love ourselves as you love us. Give us complete comfort in your workmanship of our lives as well as give us a desire to seek your plans and work our days in worship of you physically and spiritually with our hearts, minds and bodies. When we fail to see the beauty you see in us, bring along beside us a sister in Christ to lift us and remind us how precious we are to you and  your master plan.  Give us joy in the day to day things we can to do serve you right now and a vision for how we can impact your kindgom with our lives.  We love you and praise you, Father.  In your son’s we pray, Amen. 

 

#45 – let’s do this

Not such a big secret, but a confession of sorts – I truly deeply dread my birthday. Please don’t assume this has anything to do with age because it honestly does not. I’ve spent many years (25+) contemplating and curious on the day that celebrates my arrival’s anniversary. Did I do enough? Have I accomplished enough? Made a big enough impact? Am I memorable enough? Why am I NOT memorable enough to a certain someone?  enough enough enough……. ENOUGH!

Declaring 45 the year to stop beating myself up for what I perceive as didn’t happen.

45,  I will conquer you, slaying daily the things God puts in front of me. And the days my “slay” looks a lot like naps and accomplishing nothing more than puppy cuddles, I promise myself to be confident this is exactly where I am intended to be. I won’t call those days wasted. I will rejoice in the required rest to refuel for the mission.

45, I won’t over think you too much. Being totally honest with myself, I know I will over think, but I promise not to do it as much. I will continue seeking wisdom through my own personal crazy trusting the truth filled promises of Jesus.

45, I will spend you getting healthier so that I will have the energy to do what I’m called to complete. This commitment is to being healthy, not skinny. Because, really, skinny is probably not in my genetic pattern. But healthy most certainly can be. Earlier in 2016 I read a quote that changed my outlook in this subject. (inserted below)  All credit to spiritual leadership and intelligence of Christine Caine. If we are lucky, 45, we will see her in person together! (check her out – http://www.christinecaine.com/)

FullSizeRender (32)

45, Let’s deliberately and intentionally love people. The kind of love that shows Jesus, building and encouraging more Jesus. I will start at home with the people God entrusted most to me. Even when we don’t feel like it – because let’s be honest, sometimes it is hardest at home. May my true colors reflect Jesus to my people.

45, Let’s stop allowing other’s perception about my worth shape my world any longer. I will focus on the acceptance of my God who created me and wrote my beautiful story in complete perfection. I will embrace every moment as part of His sovereign plan and excitedly await the next steps He has for me.

Plans like naps and puppy cuddles. Accepting my personal flavor of crazy and my physical self. Loving my people and most of all loving my God.

Remind me when I forget – okay? Deal.

45, we are In His Grip,  Ashlee.

Pray with me: Heavenly Father God, I love you so very much and remain continually thankful for all you have blessed me with.  God I ask now that someone somewhere who needs to be reminded in there “45” or “35” or “18” or “65”- whatever age Father – they are beautiful and perfect and so very much enough in you. Give them eyes to see how you created them and a heart to seek your perfection for their lives. Allow us to give ourselves the grace you intended us to have. Keep our focus not on what we get done, but focus our hearts on seeking you. May we rest peacefully in our imperfections knowing we are enough in the saving perfection of your son.  In His name we pray, Amen.

Yes or No?

WOW – so much has been going on the last couple of weeks, months (maybe years!)…..

College kids home… warm weather bringing family trips… business travel coming… some not entirely minor medical things going on in our family… new work out routines (because being healthy matters)… not to mention another fairly milestony-ish birthday coming … intentional time for family and friends… stuff…. lots and lots of stuff.

See, I love to be busy. I love time with people I love. Serving and loving my people is deep in the core of my soul’s desires. Conquering plans and objectives keeps my clock ticking. I don’t know exactly what I would do if I wasn’t so actively doing stuff that I fell exhausted into bed every night.  Yet.  Ahhh, yet, I know my spirit needs to be alone.  I am learning that so much of me loves to be outside myself in action to others, while an equally large part of me needs desperately to be alone, refueling. And finding that balance is very very hard for me.  What about you?

Learning to say no to others can be so painfully difficult – I don’t know how really. My close people continually tell me I need to learn to say “No”.  But so often I wonder am I saying “yes” to the wrong things? Or “no” to the right things?  Everything matters in some way, yes I do believe this.  Even still, in the perspective of the kingdom purpose, how much does everything little thing matter?  When does God want me to say “no” or “yes”?  In this lies my true balance issue.

Our church is having a long awaiting new campus grand opening tomorrow, June 5th. And there has been a myriad of things to do by so many to prepare for what God has coming. I see my closest people working tirelessly and wishing there was something, however minor, I could do to lighten their load. To be their “yes” when God has so clearly told them it is not time to say “no”. I know the Lord of all things guides them, carries and sustains them.  I yearn to stand beside them holding their tired arms like Aaron and Hur did for Moses. [Exodus 17:12]

I know for sure this is not just stuff. This is kingdom driven. This is the Holy Spirit calling on His people to stand up. To fight for exactly such a time as this. This is most certainly not my “No”. Everything else, regardless of my “yes” or “no” will work itself out, when my “yes” to serving my Lord and Savior comes first. Here I will find my peace.

So the chaos is exciting and a noisy kind of busy and sometimes a little suffocating too. I pray for contentment in the storm of activity, refreshing deep breaths when I feel I can’t breathe and an ever-present still quiet voice resounding through the stuffyness of the stuff.  Wishing only to keep my eyes on Jesus, I will seek His direction for my “yeses” and my “noes”. Won’t you do the same with me?

In His Grip, Ashlee.

Pray with me:   Dear Heavenly Father God, We love you so much and are humbled to come before you.  Thank you for all you have done for us and will do for us. God, we ask for clear direction in the chaos of this life.  Help us keep perspective focused on you. May we clearly have peace in all that we are to do and the things we are to lay aside.  Make us soldiers for your eternal purposes.  In Jesus name, Amen. 

Talents

I’m sure most all of us know the parable of the talents, but for fun let’s review.

In this parable [Matthew 25:14-30] Jesus talks about stewardship of the gifts God has given all believers. In the story, the master was leaving on a journey and to one of his servants he gave 5 talents, to another 2 talents, and to another 1 talent according to their ability. A talent equaled about 75 pounds of coinage and was approximately 15 years of normal wages for one person. This was a crazy huge responsibility for each of the servants to bear.  When the master came back to settle accounts: The first two servants had put the money to good use doubling their amounts and were able to present the master with his principal and the additional profits. Yet the servant with one talent was afraid to use it and hid his master’s money.  The master then took this one talent and gave it to the servant who had ten talents.

What we learn through this story is simply this – Christ wants us to use the gifts He has provided to us, not to bury them. Spiritual gifts should be valued as gifts of God’s grace toward us. We are called to “bear much fruit” [John 15:8] that lasts, and our spiritual gifts play a significant role in doing that. The character in this story I personally tend to relate to and perhaps at times understand the most is the servant who hid their talent.

Can we pause a second – let’s just talk about how cool that the word ‘talent’ meaning a unit of measure in this parable means a gift or skill to us in our modern-day vernacular … God’s so smart!

So, about my friend who hid his (I’ll say her) talent. Before we get all holier than thou thinking, “yep, she should have done something with that talent”, how many have done, or are doing, the same thing?

Think about her looking at that talent and remembering what she read the night before one of the other tribe members posted on their instagram or facebook page about a new venture they were headed toward. She felt insecure and knew she could never measure up with her little talent and forgot all about the fact that the talent she had was just that – HER talent – given specifically in trust by her master. The talent was meant for her to use in a God preordained way. She got caught up in wondering how she would ever be as much or as successful or have as great an idea as the others. In the middle of her comparison, she was too lost to see how uniquely amazing she was and how beautifully her life already perfectly complimented her talent.

Any of this sound familiar?

Does to me. I’ve spent entirely too much time living in comparison convinced I could never be half as this or that as someone else. I could never do that job. I could never draw that well. Or paint like that. Or speak so eloquently. Or communicate so clearly. Or sing like her (really I can’t – singing: whooo, uhm NO!). I have spent so much time living in paralyzing fear of failing if I would even try to use the very things God gave me to use. In reality, that doesn’t even make sense. That sentence doesn’t compute when lined up with the biblical truths of how God created us.

We can’t even get out of the very first book of the bible without solid basis for believing God created us to be who we are. In Genesis 1:27, we are told: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” In HIS image – that’s pretty much saying your pattern was perfection. NICE!

Then flip a whole bunch of books over to the New Testament and see where Peter lays out exactly how God blessed each of us with our gift (talent). He says, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” [1 Peter 4:10]

God created us, blessed us with the specific, unique, quirky, silly, beautiful things he determined we would be. We need look no further than His word to find our worth and a relationship with Him to have our purpose. Seek Him for direction if you aren’t sure about your talent and then trust Him as you use that talent to further His kingdom. Your gift/talent may be the one thing that encourages the people around you most. And when you are scared (which, still, you will be), lean in to Him – a child of God fully reliant, surrendered and submitted to her creator brings nothing but all honor and glory to His name.

So, sweet friend, take your talent and do not be afraid. Do not hide it and remind me the same. Let us together wildly pour ourselves in the direction God leads. May we live confidently in the promise of serving Him always always yielding a high return.

In His Grip, Ashlee.

Pray with me: Dear Heavenly Father God, We love and we thank you for creating us exactly as we are. Thank you for embedding a special gift or gifts in each of us that you predestined us to use for your kingdom. Give us the fortitude to seek those gifts out and the courage to pour them into furthering your mission. May we live with our eyes focused on you only looking side to side to encourage and build up our family in Christ.  We pray in Jesus name.  Amen

Refuge

07022dfa95ebf9516c0d1e832eb9d6eeI love this photo of the baby bird nuzzled in close to the mama bird.  The visual imagery of how God defends and shelters us settles my weary heart when most nothing else will. I can so see myself poking my little nose out of God’s covering and then quickly tucking myself back into safety telling God I’m not ready yet. Can’t face the day, can’t face the problem, can’t face them, can’t face myself, I just can’t…. cover me back up God.

Psalm 91 says, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” [verse 4-5]

WOW – terrors of the night. Little secret about me: I have terrible dreams. Nearly every night I dream and I mean I dream vividly. I remember all of my dreams and they are in full color with total detail like street names and full narrative scripts. At times the dreams are just silly, however the worst dreams will leave me yelling out in my sleep and waking in tears. These dreams are so real to me that the emotions linger on me for days and I find myself unable to shake the terror of the night. (I am sure some therapist would have a field day with that, but I’m just going to leave it right there.)

And arrows that fly by day…. Don’t we all have those? Waking up saying “Today is going to be better” and then of course life happens and we have to deal with adulting.  The fiery arrows just shower with no real sign of relief.  And yes, there is perspective and we have to look for things to be thankful and count our blessings – life truly is all about perspective. I truly deeply believe this in the core of my being. Even still, these arrows (in spite of our blessings) require attention and the “dealing with” part isn’t always what I would call a blessing.  (Can I get an Amen?)

Yet, in my weariness, inside the terrors of the night and the arrows that fly by day, I will cling to the promise of where my refuge lies.  I know who is my shield and rampart (defensive wall). And in the night terrors and arrows of the day – I will not fear. Well….I will try really hard not to fear or doubt or question my own ability to “just deal”. IMG_4055
I will write His promise on my hand and look at it a million times until the fear leaves. Until my strength in Him feels as real to me as it has always been to Him. In His confidence and strength, I will poke my head out of His wing and allow Him to blow wind under my wings in order that I may fly. As is His full intention for us all.

 

In His grip,  Ashlee.

Pray with me:  Dear Heavenly Father God, you know our hearts and you are not surprised by our weariness and fears and insecurities. You know the days we need to rest tucked close under your wing for fear of facing the day.  You welcome our times with you like this while you build back strength. Infuse us with your word giving us courage to face the day and may we never lose sight of your desires for our lives. Remind us there is no fear in your calling and we never walk the road alone.  Keep us strong in the mission and wise with your guidance.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Rest here.

Overwhelmed.

The pure weight of life can easily become a heavy load. I don’t believe that is a bad thing to admit. Schedules, family events, work, bills, church, ministry work, house chores… all of it adds up. No matter how much individually one or the other may fulfill and over joy you, when you put them all together it is very easy to end the day to be left wondering if you really got anything accomplished. Let alone accomplish something great for God.

The easiest thing to do on these days is feel like a failure and convince yourself you simply aren’t capable of doing it – whatever “it” is. I’ve been here, listening to the voices in my head that ask me “why bother” or tell me to just go back to bed. When I get into this state, everything becomes super hyper sensitive and I could without any effort turn into a total recluse. I over analyze everything, get my feelings hurt too easily and forget the true heart of those dearest to me. Does this sound familiar? Sure it does and, honestly, sometimes in life we just need someone to say, “me too”.

HOWEVER, this is not reality and not where we get to camp out.  Absolutely, I’m glad to know others have moments they feel this way and I promise to be the first one to empathize when you are feeling total buried under the duties of life. I will set a timer and let you rant about all the things on your plate. But when the timer goes off (like mine really needs to) I will encourage you (and me) back to the promises of God.

A few thoughts to battle the overwhelmed blahs;

#1) We give the devil an inch and he will take a mile. As soon as we begin to believe the half-truths and down right lies of the enemy inside our own minds, we give him room to grow seeds of dissension. God is a good good father. He does not condemn or destroy, but builds up, encourages and directs toward righteousness.

#2) To hear God’s voice we have to stay in His word. I know for me when I start to feel these overwhelmed times in my life, I’ve struggled to remember the Bible was written as an instruction book and a place of encouragement for me. This is precisely where I need to hear from my Father God. Overwhelmed lives look for things to shed the pressure.  We can never let our time alone with God be the thing we shed.  But sadly, if we admit it, many of us have.  Then we lose the one place we can rest well and revive our souls.

#3) The way of the Lord is not to be a hard heavy road. Yes, in this world we will have trouble, not saying there won’t be days we have to dig in deep and persevere in our faith. What I mean is that when we walk with Christ, the perseverance gets easier.  Jesus tells us in Matthew, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” [Matthew 11:29-30]

So when we feel like life is too much and forget for a moment where our focus should be, three quick steps; 1) the devil lies, 2) God’s word holds truth and 3) it really is easier with Jesus.

This is a reminder message to myself more than anyone. I run a pretty constant pep rally in my head in an effort to stay focused. My prayer is someone else would gain some encouragement from the things I need encouragement in.  Someone out there needs to hear, “me too” right now.

In His Grip, Ashlee.

Pray with Me: Heavenly Father God, please bless every person this message touches. If their life is feeling the overwhelmed nature that I so often struggle with, I know you wish nothing more than to rest their soul. Give them, and me, the gentle reminders of who you are and where the lies come from. Your way has never intended to be laced with defeat, but victory in your son, Christ Jesus. When the anxiety raises and the weight of the world feels heavy on our chests, give us strength to remember in the moment exactly where we can rest – your word.  Thank you for loving us so much and shepherding us in the fold of peace. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

Wild and Free

My girl #iveyleaguemom (aka Tiffany) invited me to tag along for this weekend launch party for the book “Wild and Free”.  I was definitely excited, because of course I love all things Tiffany and Charleston is a cool town and what I knew of the book was pretty spot on – so, why not? I’D LOVE TO GO! (translated: eeeek – I’m so excited!)

What is Wild and Free?  Simply, it is a book. However that is like saying the ocean is just water.

Wild and Free is an anthem for women.  It is a challenge to live wildly in exactly who God created you to be while also living freely in all Christ has done.

Wild and Free is a disposition.  It’s a place all women should live from the inside out. Total freedom in Jesus and total confidence in what God has created and planned.

Wild and Free is a friendship. The diversity of women brought together by being commonly grounded in Jesus, encouraging one another to be the best us God orchestrated us to be.

Wild and Free is a soul’s refreshing. When you thirst deep within, needing desperately the water of life, living Wild and Free reminds you to focus on the good good father, Elohim – He created you and He loves you and He knows you intimately.  Rest and drink Him in.

The launch party weekend was full of events celebrating women, laughing and enjoying our time together. We made new friends, learned so many new things (my makeup skills require their own post all alone!) and shared what God is doing in our area of influence.  I know for sure, Tiffany and I dreamed, cried and shared exactly how “God is messing with us” right now. The freedom of this trip to be completely as Wild in God and Free in Jesus was exactly what my soul needed.

“If you have ever felt both too much and never enough” – get this book. Give it to your mom, daughters, sisters and friends.  Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan have not held back any truth, nor have they been shied away from the transparency required for this message.

In His Grip,  Ashlee

you can buy it here–> http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Free-Hope-Filled-Anthem-Enough-ebook/dp/B010R2U5ZU

you can visit their site here–> http://www.wearewildandfree.com/

FullSizeRender (26)