God, I’m still scared.

I’ve gone through things in my life that have made my faith grow in crazy ways. Situations that have shown me without a doubt God is so incredibly real and I have stacked my stones in a memorial of God’s greatness in my life. I study my bible and daily live intentionally so to never get over what God has done. I believe every single promise in His word, confident all scripture was God breathed. [2 Tim 3:16-17]

So… why am I still scared?

I’m completely coming clean and being extremely transparent with you – my friends. Which also is an extremely vulnerable place to be, so I hope you are reading with an ear of grace and a mind of mercy.  And maybe, just maybe, you are in the same place and together we can glean wisdom and step forward together.

What makes me fearful? I get scared when I can’t box things into a neat little package with perfect little answers.  Even when I don’t love the answers, when the answers are actually quite difficult, at least I KNOW the answers. When I know what I am dealing with, I can manage through. I’m an analytical, bullet-pointed steps, action item kinda chick. Give me an issue, and I’ll have a list of how to correct it. (Probably even document a standard operating procedure. ugh, feel free to roll your eyes – it’s annoying to me too.) My mind works that way and however much that has benefited me career wise, I fully believe that is not where God sees my strengths.

In fact, this is precisely the area God has chosen to work on me deeply. There are many places I have felt were healed and scars were beginning to fade, then the wounds were as fresh as yesterday’s blood. Just when I think I am making progress, the old fears jump up.

Just this week, it happened. The unknown scared me. Old wounds opened.

I would love to write about how incredibly spiritual I reacted and how I immediately went to God in prayer over my fears. I did go to God, though a brief time period of my own fleshy tantrum ensued first. I feel I let God down because I didn’t. Fortunately His love is unconditional.  Grace and mercies anew – hallelujah.

My tantrums aren’t as long as they once were. Yet, why live even a moment outside the covering of God???  How can I forget the days of my life when I had absolutely no control and God sustain me with inexplicable peace and comfort? Even for a moment, I tend to forget. Shame on me. The times I have crawled up in my Father God’s lap and let Him hold me, content only in His sovereignty – those are the best memories of my faith journey. Of no coincidence, those are the most challenging times of my earthly walk.  He did not fail me. He had it under control without my PowerPoint presentation or bullet points or actionable timelines.

Father, forgive me.

Like the father with the demonic son who cried out in Mark, “I believe; help my unbelief” [Mark 9:24], this is my prayer. I believe and need Him continually to battle my unbelief when I get caught up in myself. I ask for His patience. I weep sorrowful before Him. I imagine him patting my head saying “there,there… now you are back where you belong.” (oh such GRACE our Father has.)  Without God I am unable to do anything. I need to constantly and continually rely on Him and His ways and His promises.  My plan is nothing and His plan is everything.

Fear is not from God and not of God. We don’t need to be scared anymore, just lean into Him. Yet, He understands our struggle. He is ever-present in our time of need and unflappable as we seek His Holy Spirit power to overcome.

Pray with me:  Dear Father God,  Help me when I am scared to remember your sovereignty. Strengthen my human fallen person to focus constantly on you, the author and perfecter of my faith. Please sustain it, strengthen it and continually deepen it. Don’t let my faith fail.  May it be the power of my life, so that in everything I do you get the glory as the great Giver. Bless, cover, protect and strengthen all who struggle with any fear as well.  It is only in your son, Jesus’, name do we have any right to make these requests.  Amen 

In His Grip.  Ashlee

When enthusiasm appears to be panic.

Spoiler Alert – this is really just a funny story of me being “that” mom. (insert eye roll and hilarious laughy emoticons)

Back story… the oldest, Clay (aka Claybo – well, to me-ONLY known as Claybo), was traveling back from Daytona Beach where he had been competing with his college cheer team. This is the first year I haven’t gone – his third year of going. He’s all cool and a junior in college and even though he’s the closest kid in geographic proximity to home now, we see him not nearly enough.  He’s the first-born, the oldest boy and well… I get pretty googly-eyed over him.  Moms – back me up!

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Claybo’s 21st Birthday – March 2016

To get home they have to travel right around our area on the bypass.  When he texted me they had gotten off the interstate on the bypass exit, naturally I got the bright idea to drive as fast as I could from where I was to sit on the side of the bypass and wave.  I mean, of course who wouldn’t do this?  Making a straight scene of myself for my kids has never been an issue, so I immediately thought I had a grand idea!!  (My husband was in tow however unenthusiastic. He’s probably learned balking these ideas is futile.)  It could have only been a better idea had I been prepared with life-sized posters of Claybo’s face in a total uber fan cheer fashion.  (I’ll have to consider being prepared for any next time that opportunity just might “pop up”.)

I got there just in time!! The bus came by and I waved like a ridiculous groupie on the side of the road and the eldest boy child found it funny and sweet and cute. Yes, he was cut from the same mold as his silly mom and a self-proclaimed “mama’s boy”.  All was excellently perfect in the world on a Sunday afternoon. My favorite day of the week was complete with a glimpse of my man-child and his friends.

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Look at these beautiful young people – the whole road should have stopped in reverence honestly. 

THEN — (This is where ‘funny because I’m a goober for my kids’ turns into just plain ole, can’t argue with it, that junk is FUNNY.)

I get in my car, all happy with myself and my glimpse of the baby and I notice a car pulled over in front of me about 50 yards.  And next emerges two young men from said car. Then they are are SPRINTING toward me!!  In a matter of as long as it took me to look at my husband who was shaking his head, I processed “OH MY – these guys think I need help!”

I started creeping toward them in a car that obviously required no help. I asked my husband to get out and tell them I was fine to which he replied “nope – you tell them.” I am sure in his mind he was thinking “You explain you had to wave at your baby.” He was laughing, but that laughing at you not with you kind of laugh.

As my car started moving and they slowed their sprint, I imagine they might have been wondering “whatha?!”  They got within 15 feet and I stopped, opened the door and through near hysterical laughter (because I found the whole thing pretty stinkin hilarious) I said, “Do y’all think I need help?”  Then replied, “Yes ma’am, you were waving someone down.” (translate – you were waving like a crazy women who needed help.)  The rest of the conversation went like this… “Oh my gosh, THANK YOU! #1 – you are precious and your mama raised you right! #2 – I was just waving at the GCSU bus that just drove past because my son was on it with his team.”  (they were laughing politely)  I continued, “But again y’all are simply adorable and I can’t thank you enough. You are good boys!! Really thank you.  Precious. Seriously just precious y’all.”

They shrugged, probably knowing their dear mama would stop on the side of the road and wave like a mad woman too, and jogged back to their dark colored Pathfinder with Fulton County plates.  As they left, I noticed a Theta Chi frat shirt, probably from GCSU or UGA – the bypass leads to both schools.   So, to the Fulton county mama’s and the men of Theta Chi.  I thank you – you are doing something right. Those young men were doing their best to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this crazy mama.  God Bless you and them!

Y’all, My kids wreck me. All four of them. I love them with a stupid crazy love and I pray daily they know there is no level of comic calamity I wouldn’t do for them.  They are forever my babies.

And I will stand on the side of a highway and wave with all levels of enthusiasm appearing frantic screaming “THAT’s MY BABY!!!” again and again as long as the Lord blesses my life with babies to wave at and scream about.

Yep – real story. It was yesterday.  🙂

In His grip – Ashlee

When God has you wait.

Just like we have to wait all winter for the newness of spring colors show of life peaking through, our lives have seasons of winter too.  These seasons of waiting take on many forms and create various levels of emotions in our lives.

Maybe you are waiting for God to show you the career he intends you to follow.

Maybe you are waiting for the man God intends you to spend you life with.

Maybe you are waiting for a wayward child to find their way back to the Lord.

Maybe you are waiting for an illness to cure, a friend to forgive, a freedom from addiction…   You wait. Sometimes patiently, sometimes not. You wait.

For me – a significant waiting seasons was spent praying for my husband’s salvation. I’d like to tell you I was completely submitted to God’s will for my life when I met my man, but I was not. I knew early on we were not equally yoked. (“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14)

I was blinded by his adorable smile (he’s still a cutie!!) and the pure goodness he was as a person. He is that one-in-a-million type of good guy. There is not a person he wouldn’t help, giving anything he had for someone else.  He has a heart of gold and deeply desires to care for his family and has always put a priority on making me happy.  However, good people do not guarantee salvation, ok?  And knowing good doesn’t equal Godly, I stayed. (Who wouldn’t – he was a great catch!)   In retrospect, I know this was biblically disobedient. I would warn my daughters and friends against the path of a non-Christian partner today.  Yet, this is our story and it is our history.  I do not think God was surprised.

All the lessons learned, the joys and the pains along the way could fill this blog for years, but this specific season of waiting example came when my prayers became so focused on my husband’s salvation.  I knew he would not be in eternity with me.  There were early years, I did not let this weigh daily on my soul. Then, about ten years ago, the heart-break for his soul seemingly became unbearable.  My yearning for him to know Jesus became a constant desire of my heart.

Believing this was a pure prayer, a God honoring prayer, surely God would draw my sweet husband to him, right?  I mean, saved souls is God’s plan too right?  I finally decided to fight the fight WITH God, no doubt He would quickly comply??   (insert sarcasm) God’s plans are infinitely better than mine and He surely did not need me to align for Him to work.

My prayers did not cease and my husband drew further from the Lord. (Do what? Right?) Months became years. Years became nearly a decade.  I won’t lie telling you I faithfully never doubted. My heart became exasperated, but I kept praying. I wonder if days I prayed with the right heart attitude. In fact, I know I didn’t. I gave up sometimes too.  Not giving up on God, but giving up on my dreams. Complacent even some days. So thankful for a Lord who knew me so well, He knew my struggle and was so completely full of grace in those moments.  Grace upon grace upon grace, y’all.

Early 2015, brokenhearted, my prayers seeking a shared faith with my husband became submissive to the will of God. “Give me peace in this Lord.”  When you don’t know what to do anymore, do what you know to do. WISE WORDS!  I stopped trying to force my agenda (however holy I thought it was) and released complete control to God. “Do what you will God, I am yours. As is he.”

Soon, also in 2015, the Lord saw fit to get my husband’s attention. Drastically.

I wouldn’t change a thing about the journey.  The dark season brought forth God’s bright flowers.  My husband has given his life to the Lord and lives daily walking with Jesus.  Praise God. “When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” [Isaiah 60:22]  AMEN!

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March 29, 2015

Nearly a decade, the Lord had me wait. The truth is, what God does IN us while we wait is as important as what we are waiting for. I am better for the time God had me wait, the years He was molding me. Oh, the testimony now to share.

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Whatever you are praying for and however the Lord has you waiting, please don’t give up. Then when you are frustrated, tell God. There is nothing His shoulders can’t hold and I promise you will not surprise Him. He knows our thoughts before we do. And He loves us anyway – hallelujah!

Pray with me:  Heavenly Father, thank you for the seasons that you would have us wait.  Your plan for our lives is so much better than we would ever know of our paths. Thank you for taking whatever mess we have in our lives and making it a message in whatever time you see fit.  Give courage and strength to keep going for those in the middle of the waiting season. Renew their faith in the glorious spring flowers of your plan. We love you Lord and desire deeply to walk in accordance with your will always.  In your son’s name we pray.  Amen. 

In his grip, Ashlee.

 

 

Steps of faith

Every year I set goals. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I tend to have high hopes and poor follow through. I love dreaming and planning big… what can I say? This year I prayerfully considered what goals God would have me set. Then I documented and shared my goals with my accountability people… my discipleship group, my husband and of course #iveyleague mom (she’s a given!) Having God’s partnership in your goals, writing them down and telling people suddenly ups the ante of responsbility. 2016 Goals - Ashlee_1

Here we are – the start of April 2016 and I am not doing too terribly bad  (SHOCK!). The fact that I still have the list is significantly better than history says! So I will count that more than marginally better compared to years past. The reality is, I didn’t set a laboriously long list of tangible goals. However I must sit in the weight of intangibles. This is where I am deeply motivated and have opened myself up for the accountability people in my life to let me know when my attitude, behavior and habits aren’t aligned to my 2016 purpose. This stuff matters y’all. And in the tangible goals – whoa Nellie!! I did not go easy on myself. Goals that might not seem large to others, yet are all about starting a journey of faith for myself. A journey to take care of what God has given me and prepare myself for the better service of my intangibles goals. Lazy and lethargic – time for you two bums to check out of this here little life.

So, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?  Stick with me – I’m going somewhere.

Last weekend, I did my first ever 5K! (See that was on the goal list?? CHECK!!)  Now, it was only a fun run 5K – no times and no racing.  The perfect first event thanks to advice and encouragement from my sweet friend, Rachel and my brand new friend Ginger!   And “run” is a loose term, as I would call what I do more “wogging” – somewhere between walking, jogging and wondering if I am going to die. I’m serious.

I saw people wearing shirts that said “I run for ____.” Thank you strangers for making it clear to me I had to declare some reason for this current insanity I was about to embark. Thank you for forcing me to wonder why in the world was I doing this?!?  What was I running (ok-wogging) for? I mean near total panic set in at one point while we were waiting that sounded very much like someone screaming in my ear – “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?” Then of course “You’ve never run a mile in your life! This is 3.2 miles!” Never mind the reminders, “You haven’t even trained properly for this!” Oh yeah, “God, are you sure this is what you meant?!?” (Don’t we love to let fear cause us to question God?)

I will not lie – I prayed my way through this.  Specifically, “I thank you Jesus, you strengthen me, because you consider me faithful, put me into service” [1 Timothy 1:12 paraphrase mine]. I settled on my answers in this prayer. In my quest to be in better health – I seek to be equipped to live out the commands of my Lord. I wish to meet His goals for me. Through His direction I set a purpose and through His strength, I have already taken many steps of courage. (You are reading the blog that was one HUGE step). I’ve stepped right out of the boat in the middle of the storm walking toward Jesus in total faith that surely He knows why he’s holding His hand out there waiting on me. Baby steps or huge leaps, Jesus is calling and I pray to always keep stepping out to Him.

I step for obedience.

I step to grow my faith.

I step to serve Him.

What does stepping out look like for you and why do you step?  Have you talked to God about what goals He desires you to set for yourself?  I encourage you to do so. I won’t say you won’t be scared, but I will say you will be rewarded in your obedience. (and your calves will be super sore.)

Pray with me:  Dear God, thank you for your ever faithful presence. Thank you for caring about all the details. No matter is too small for you and your direction always leads us to righteousness. May we always seek you daily in order to stay inside your peace and your will for our lives. Give us the courage to do the things we’ve never done before in order so that you would receive the glory. As we step toward Jesus with the world expecting us to fall, make it so clear to the world that you alone are how we make it.  To you be all glory and praise forever. In your son’s precious Holy name, Amen. 

In His grip – Ashlee

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Top Left – Ginger, Rachel and I after color. Bottom Left – Rachel & I before color.   **I flat love these women!**

 

 

 

 

 

Why bother to pray?

Recently some very compelling conversations with some super trusted girlfriends found me stumbling across the question “Why does it matter for us to pray when God is sovereign over all things?”  I sincerely hope I am not the only one who has been stumped by this one and if so, please indulge me as I work through my research and findings here.

But before we dive in – let me say, asking these questions and digging deeper into our bibles for answers is precisely what we are to be doing.  And I am forever grateful for my “biblical grade friendships” (thanks Jessica for coining that term for us!) that bring me to this exact spot of yearning to seek refuge in my confusion solely on words of my Heavenly Father.  I love my girls – they challenge me to want to know God more and seek out my heart’s desire for Him through truth. His truth!  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.[2 Timothy 3:16]

Now – if God really knows how everything single thing is going to turn out, why bother to pray?  I believe, there are some fundamental scriptural reasons why.

  • God has invited us to pray for what we need. There are many verses that command us to call on God.  For one Jesus specifically said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” [Matthew 7:7-8]  James wrote that we don’t have because we don’t ask. [James 4:2]  If the Bible is God’s word to us and the Bible tells us to ask for what we need, then it seems a solid reason to pray.
  • Despite any amount of thinking we do, the reality is we don’t know what we need. Partly we do, but mostly we don’t.  We are very limited by our own experiences, perspective and desires. Have you ever struggled to pray? Didn’t know what to say? Felt exhausted and exasperated?  God knows our human constraints in prayer which is why “the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” [Romans 8:26-27]  I am sure the sweetest prayer our Heavenly Father could hear is the offering of our souls in “Thy will be done”… so sincere, so pure, such surrender and obedience.
  • God is all-knowing and all-powerful and almighty.  Our prayers do not surprise him in any way. He expects before we reflect. He has the way before we know we need a way. He knows our prayers before they ever come to our mind. [Matthew 6:8]. Big words and fancy phrases are not necessary. He simply wants us to call on Him. He does truly know what we are saying even if we get our words jumbled up. (I do this a lot).
  • God already knows it all.  Praying doesn’t give God any new information.  Job tells us that God “…looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” [Job 28:24]  The psalmist writes, “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.” [Psalm 139:2-3]  Isn’t that such crystal clear proof that God doesn’t need me to tell him anything?  He knows I don’t feel fulfilled in my job. He knows my family need more patience from me. He knows I desperately struggle to be accepted. He knows it all – already. Before we say a word, he knows our heart, our secret pains and our silent big dreams.  (And I can’t help but wonder about those running, supposedly “hiding” from God … that’s one to explore huh?)
  • You might be asking, “Then why do we need to pray if he knows already?” Well, I promise you it is not for God.  It is for us. God doesn’t need our prayers, but we need Him.  Nothing we pray adds to the complete perfectness of God. What it does is submits our total dependence to Him which allows us to lean in closer and hear His will.  I can imagine (in my human way-not capable to fully understand the mysteries of sovereignty) God is pleased by our dependence as we would be when our children need us. We don’t want to cram life down our kids’ proverbial throats, rather have them understand they need our wisdom. (‘wisdom’ used lightly in my case! lol)
  • Prayer is an avenue for us to learn the will of God. In those conversations with God and through quiet time studying His word, we are more keenly able to discern God’s voice.  Our listening doesn’t change His voice or His plans, but our listening makes His plan more clear.
  • Pray because prayer is the means God has ordained for some things to happen. Prayer, for instance, helps others know the love of Jesus. Prayer can clear all the people junk out of the way so that God can work. I mean he can surely work without our prayers, but He has established prayer as part of His plan for us to be a part of accomplishing His will in this world.  I, for one, am tickled He wants me involved!!
  • We need the spiritual training to resist temptations. “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” [1 Timothy 4:8]  So how do you obtain this ‘godliness’? – pray.  It’s kinda simple. You want a relationship with me? Talk to me. You want to know God and learn God’s ways?  It starts with talking to God.
  •  Jesus prayed. Want to be Christlike? Pray. “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.'” [Matthew 26:36]  Being a Christ follower, a doer of things Christ did, makes me a prayer too.
  • Prayer is an obedient act. Pray because he said to. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” [Romans 12:12]  There are so many scriptural references and commands to pray.  It is impossible to believe the Bible, desire deeply to follow the Bible’s teachings and then at the same time not actively be in a prayer relationship with God who wrote the Bible.

Pray to worship. To be obedient. To hear His voice. To share your heart openly and freely with the God of the Universe who created you and loves you to the very bellowing bottom of your soul – junk and all.  Pray to love Him back. Yes He already knows what is going to happen and I love Him dearly for promising and reassuring me His plans are to make all things good for me as I seek Him and submit to His will for my life.

Thy Will Be Done, Lord.

Lovingly in His Grip,  Ashlee

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.”