Island Life, the string, and a mountain top

April 7, 2010 at 7:21 am (Uncategorized)

This last weekend (I’m posting this a few weeks late), although God did not reveal some “new” ideas to me, He did give me clarity to the last two years. Moments where I can say, “God, I didn’t see the point”, strangely, right now I have very clear hindsight and I’m learning what the point actually was.

Last weekend, I attended a women’s retreat through my church. One of the pastors at our church asked if I would share a brief bit of my testimony or parts of my blog. She had been reading my blog and knew that my blog and my story aka God’s story would line up perfectly with our retreat theme based on 2 Corinthians 5:17..”You are a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come.”

I was so excited. I’m a weirdo and have more fear about sitting down talking 1:1 about issues and personal stories than I do about sharing them to a room of people. The preparer in me began to read and re-read my old blogs. I originally had planned on talking about the old part of me. I was zoning in on that. Me = sewage heart and leprous soul. Still broken. Yet, as I began to move through the order of these blogs, I realized, that that me isn’t me anymore. Somewhere in the last few years, God has made me new!

Here is some reflections about me:

1.  2 years ago, I was barely able to utter or share my story with a soul. I was a bottled up. Out of my own fears and failures, I had allowed my guilt to dictate my life and had become an island. I had let them rule me. I didn’t get to my island easily either. I should have known when I left the safety of the boat or my relationships and began treading water that it was too much work to make it there, but I was stubborn and so afraid. If anyone had thrown me a life preserver, I would of let it go. The guilt caused me to look back and see a boat of filled with relationships drift away. It was swim harder to the boat or let the current move me to the island. I chose the island. But instead of just camping on it. I inhabited it. And I did so well, I made curtains and drapes of depression, decorated walls with self-pity, and loathing, and my furniture of the island was believing that no one on the boat wanted me to come back. The island was mine. Oh, how it was mine. It began to feel like home. I believe that I was pretty comfortable on the island, til I realized there was no getting off, no one was joining me. My island became my prison. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I was completely alone here.

It was through that realization two years ago, that I began my blog. I know now that God called me to write to get off that island. I know it sounds so silly to say this out loud, but I in my head believed that no one on the boat was coming back for me. They had all left. Writing became my friend, better yet my life preserver. God used that little act of obedience on my part to get me to put my feet back in the water and to contemplate maybe heading back out to sea. I wrote in my first blog that I was tired of having my feet stuck in the mud, and it couldn’t be any truer. I was tired! The last two years have been so difficult building relationships with others. For the first time in a long time, I’m living life honestly though. Cole and I were just talking about how much more open I am with our new small group. God used my writing in the beginning to give me the practice for honest living and community with others. For heaven’s sakes, I just shared my sewage heart at a women’s retreat of women who I have had to see again and again!

I began crying while sharing it. For those who know me, Know that I am not a crier. I explained to my friend Jessica that I began crying not our of fear or overwhelming sadness, but out of knowing that I am standing here a new creation. Someone who had lived in hiding and in darkness and is for the first time living in the light. In that moment, I experienced some tears of pure joy! For this moment, I am so grateful!

2. . In Luke 8: 43-47, Luke talks about a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years had out of faith touched the hem of Jesus cloak and it had healed her. I believe I had a similar experience, although I had not experienced the same disease as this woman. I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and prognosis of how that would play out in my life didn’t look good for me. In this moment, Jesus made it perfectly clear: touch my garment out of faith or walk away. I felt like in that moment my struggle for me was to reach out and grab a thread. But, I was obedient to the simple prodding and wrapped the little thread around my baby finger. That was all the faith I had to hold onto, what I didn’t realize, was unlike that woman who surprised Jesus, He knew I needed his strength to keep me there and he had a hold of me the entire time. My diagnosis I would later find out was wrong, but it hadn’t changed the fact that I had reached out to hold a string. I’m not a big believer on the “healing movement” mantra because I do not believe necessarily that having an enormous faith guarantees you healing, I believe sometimes Jesus uses our infirmities for His glory. However, I do believe that if we have true faith in Jesus he’ll always heal our heart and our souls. He did just that for me, He healed my heart because of my faith. Then he healed my head of a brain tumor. The first healing is the one that stands out more for me.

That moment for me was a line that had been drawn in the sand. I now understand and know that Jesus is worth trusting. I know that for me being diagnosed with a brain tumor would’ve been the worst possible scenario, and yet there wasn’t a single moment that I felt alone. If there had a been a physical healing or not, this one second where I reached out defined for me a moment where I said, “Jesus, whatever happens, I’m yours. If this brain tumor is here to stay, then I’m still yours”. I had to have faith. I feel better prepared for life now. I know that Jesus has my back, I just have to reach out and He’ll carry me. A friend of mine recently posted a facebook status, “I wish these good moments were here to stay. I feel like my life finally made sense, but instead it just seems like the floor is caving out from under me” My comment was something like, “I find that there will always be a floor caving out, life is full of them, but Jesus will be with you in the hole”. I have learned this lesson well.

I wrote two years ago, that I was wanting to worship God on the Mountain top even in the middle of the desert places that I longed to say, ” I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because he will not abandon me to the grave, nor will your Holy One see decay.You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence”. Acts 2:25-28 I realized this weekend that God was giving me a mountain top moment. I have been in the desert for awhile, God brought me up to show me exactly what he has done in my life. I’m not saying these things out of pride, but out of pure wonder and admiration of who God is. I am for this moment so filled with joy just being in His presence.

I know these mountain top moments occur rarely in life. All but for a brief moment. As my father in law said once in a sermon (he’s a backpacker)(and I’m paraphrasing poorly), that mountain tops have a beautiful view. You can look out in any direction and see and admire the view, but if you look at the ground around you at the top it’s usually barren and nothing grows. I know I can’t stay here in this moment long, or my growth will be stopped, but for this brief moment I’m gonna enjoy the view and praise Jesus for who is making me become: His daughter, a new creation.

Colossians 1:20-22

20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation

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Breaking the Bowls

February 25, 2010 at 9:38 pm (Uncategorized)

A few weeks ago I wrote this blog, but am just now posting it. I’ve been asking myself lately for God to reveal Himself new to me each time we meet. I have grown accustomed to the same-old and am in need of new, God has been blowing my socks off!

I was laying in bed in that part of sleep where you know you’re asleep, but are obviously awake enough to realize your sleeping. This point in my sleep cycle is when I know God talks to me. It’s probably because its the first time I am still enough to really listen or catch his point. The strangest thing is that the other night, He gave me a parable in my dream, but I knew it was Him. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything like this, and may not believe you if you said it happened to you, but here I am sharing it publicly because I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt it was from Him.

Let me give the precursor to my dream and share a little about what had happened earlier that day. My son Oren, now 2 1/2 yrs old, was on the war path or “destruction mode” as I call it. Before I could clean up one mess, he was jumping to the next one. He is finally starting to “figure” things out and how things work, so things that used to not be a problem are suddenly an issue. Unfortunately, we have no idea what things he’s going to figure out before he does so we just have to wait and see sometimes. He started off the morning, waking up before mom. This rarely happens, and if he does wake up, he hates to be alone, so he always comes to my bed to get me up for some “cerol” aka cereal. Well, this particular morning, he must’ve been up for awhile and very quietly had been into the cabinet, and had pulled food out, “cerol” was all over the floor. He had also gotten into the cookies, thus the part where I come into the story, and had brought me cookies for breakfast. I woke up to his little  hands and voice tapping me saying, “Momma, my bring you these. Good morning”. I thought, “ahhh, how sweet”. Then a moment of clarity hit and I realized, “wait, if he’s bringing me cookies how many did he eat?” and “What is that smell?” Oh yes, Oren had also been able to reach the vapo rub in the top cabinet and had about 3-5 inches of it in his hair. Throughout the day, I feel like we moved from cleaning up mess to mess. By 11 am, I was tired of this, I was frazzled, and if I cleaned up one more small piece of tissue paper that he had ripped up to shreds and placed EVERYWHERE  in his pre-mommy morning, I was going to scream! Then he began to push his matchbox cars into a small hole we have behind the door where the doorknob has pushed through the wall. I had been wondering where all his cars I bought at a garage sale were. 200 had dwindled down to about 15. VOILA! They were in the wall. This was it–the last straw! Time for a nap-if not for his tiredness it was for my sanity!

Bedtime with Oren has always been a struggle, we have developed a routine to make the transition easier. Well, today, out of my frustration and my anger, I wasn’t going to go through the routine! I took him to his bed, laid him there. Now, any of you who have met Oren, know that the kid is above average in height and size. He is 2 1/2, but most people guess 4. Well, with a body the size of a 4 yr old comes extreme superman like strength, and he began out of his frustration to fight me on bed. It began with the usual sitting up in bed, I would physically have to hold him there. By 10 min, my strength was gone, I spanked him (which only makes it worse), and yelled, “lay down right now!” My husband, works nights and sleeps during the day, had to be woken up to finally take care of the full blown fit and situation it had become. Of course, Cole offered some parenting advice, which was not well received and further exasperated my frustration, I just yelled, “you deal with it!”.

This was my day prior to my parable dream….and truthfully, by the time my head hit the pillow, I had completely forgotten about it and I nodded off….

In my conscientiousness God said, “Ashley! PAY ATTENTION” and the rest was as if a movie was playing out in my dream.

A man of lower middle class stature was approached in a diner, by an obviously wealthy man, they began to chat and the poorer man eventually learned that the wealthy man was an art dealer/curator and ran a store front to help sell the pieces he collected for sales. The two struck up an unusual friendship, and the art dealer expressed a need for someone to get his most priceless piece ready for a sale, but wasn’t sure he had time to do it.

The poor man excited about being able to see what an expensive gift it was going to be said in rush, “I’ll do it.” The wealthy man thought about the proposition for a moment and gave the poor man directions and time to enter the shop. He told him, “Tonight around 7pm, I need you to enter the front of the shop and carefully make your way to the back. The piece, is a 2,000 year old ornament vase, I need it dusted and wrapped very carefully. I’ll have to check the wrapping before it’s crated, so please be careful. The vase is worth more than you and I will ever make in a lifetime combined”.

The poor man was excited; he had never been given so much responsibility and he truly felt achieved. He began to call and tell all his friends and invite them to a party he was having at 5 to celebrate his accomplishments.

As 5 pm rolled up, people began bringing him gifts and wine and other drinks. The poor man began to enjoy his celebration and when 7pm rolled around he realized that he had had too many drinks to drive the distance to the shop and so he called a cab. The cab pulled up to the shop building precisely at 7pm. The man entered the security code to the building and quietly entered the front door. He was amazed at the beauty of all the pieces in the gallery. Works of splender, glass blown bowls, and the other ornate objects. The man very unintentionally began staggering through the gallery, knocking over these objects. He, at one point, had to catch his balance on a shelving unit and brought the whole thing down with a crash breaking at least 25 glass bowls with it. But, dead set on taking care of the vase of high value he made his way to the back where he began dusting and pouring his heart and soul into caring for it.

The art dealer, being notified, by a nearby neighbor of the commotion at the gallery, had decided to check on the poor man. He entered through the back and was very excited to see the man doing exactly what was asked of him. He then looked through the open area and noticed the damage. He ran over to it and broke down yelling, “What did you do?”

The poor man said, “I’m very sorry for the damage. I’m not sure how it happened, I think I may have had a little too much to drink and had to catch my balance on the shelf. I really didn’t mean to. I will repay you for whatever I have broken.”

Exhausted and overwhelmed, the art dealer said, “You don’t understand. The vase IS the most expensive item in the entire store and you did take very good care of it. But, these broken pieces combined were worth far more than the value of the vase. There is nothing you can do, the damage has been done. My own of a kind pieces are damaged and irreplaceable….” Then like a broken record the art dealer kept saying, “whatever you have done to the least of these you have done to me….”

I was really unsure of what the parable meant and asked for clarification. God began to show me that I am the drunken poor man. He is the art dealer. He has placed upon me the responsibility of taking care of and minding to the upkeep of his most valuable vase or relationship with Jesus. I have been excited, and invited people to celebrate. I have somewhat kept my word. But, along the say, I have been unintentionally getting drunk off of anger and damaging and hurting and breaking his other equally important pieces, his other children. I’ve been damaging his one of a kind creations. People that He loves just as much as Jesus.I hadn’t meant to and I really had tried to live by my relationship with Christ and treat others nicely and justly, but occasionally I would use them to catch my fall and would bring them down with me.

At this point, I woke up fully. I was startled. I was aware that this was definetly the Holy Spirit convicting me and prodding me to change and repent of the anger I had gotten drunk off of earlier in the day and for the words that had caused my son and husband damage. I am resolved not to get drunk off it.

I am going to begin to take Matthew 25:45 literally and start treating people differently. I don’t want to live life unintentionally catching myself on people. By my sin, I’m tripping others up. And whats worse, is I just keep going, leaving the damage for someone else to clean up. I’m thankful that God opened my eyes to it. My goal from now on is to be more intentional with my words and my actions and to express peace, patience, kindness, and most importantly self-control.

Galatians 5:19-25 says, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, FITS OF RAGE, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; DRUNKENNESS, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, GENTLENESS, and SELF CONTROL. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep step with the Spirit.

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Remaking Baby Steps Part 2

February 12, 2010 at 9:46 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve been working on part 2 while I wrote, part 1. I’ve realized after re-reading both that my format is a little more like a research paper than a blog, but I guess after 5 years of research writing through college, it is my default. Sorry, I just need to share what I’ve been learning and I guess it’s just how it’s flowing out of my mind. So if you can, keep reading, don’t get bored, pay attention and enjoy!

Mark 10:13-16 discusses the idea of coming to Christ as children, and I know we’ve each heard about that. I’ve been researching the verse and really attempting to understand it and wrap my head around the entirety of its meaning and I don’t want to miss out on the 2nd half of its meaning.

It says, (in case you forgot), “And they kept bringing young children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples were reproving them [for it]. But when Jesus saw, He was indignant and pained and said to them, “Allow the children to come to Me–Do not forbid or prevent or hinder them–for to such belongs the Kingdom of God. Truly, I tell you, whoever does not receive and accept and welcome the kingdom of God like a little child positively shall not enter it at all. ” And He took them [the children up one on one] in His arms and [ferverently invoked a]blessing, placing His hands upon them.” (AMP).

He does point out that the disciples or us need to come to Christ as children, because we know and can assume they were not already. However, in the simple rebuke “Don’t ever get between them and me” or as the Amplified Bible says forbid, prevent or hinder for this pained Jesus. I have to wonder, why would this matter? Why would Jesus respond in a crowd,  to the disciples if He was already going to be enjoying the company of children?

I believe that Jesus provoked the disciples in verse 16 to help them realize that they to0 had come into the faith as children. They certainly hadn’t gotten in to His graces by good behavior or spiritual knowledge, but had come just as eagerly because they honestly believed that Christ would make them worthy. The disciples out of their own pride had forgotten who they had been, and had let their judgment about who should come, and in so doing were going to prevent others from entering.

Very quickly, for the sake of those who may not know or remember, Simon, Peter, James and John had forgotten they had come from a boat. Mark 1:14-20 points out that they had been lowly fishermen, commoners, like us. At the same starting line, having very little spiritual knowledge. Yet they chose to give it up for Christ, because they believed in Him. Matthew, another disciple, had been referred to as a “sinner” publicly by the Saduccees and Pharisees or Jewish religious leaders. He had been a tax collector for the Roman government, or a traitor to the Jewish people. Yet, Jesus used him and brought him from unworthiness to worthiness in his Kingdom. Jesus even changed Matthew’s name from Levi, so that he could start fresh in the faith or like a child.

The other disciples (there were twelve) had also come from various background and religious understanding, yet each entered Christ’s kingdom with the attitude of a child, that Christ was worth giving their failure card to, so that He could use them in new ways. Each of the disciples had a starting line, and each had to remake baby steps over and over. Peter did after failing to have faith to walk on water and in Christs last days denied and had opportunities to choose Christ 3x and failed. Thomas wasn’t sure that Jesus rose from the dead and had to see the scars to believe it. Each one of them forgot their own mistakes, and believed someone else wasn’t worthy. See the pride? Christ had to respond because they needed humbling. They were missing out on blessings by not allowing or remembering to let the Children enter.

I believe I’ve been guilty of this myself. I am easily frustrated by Christians who are not “new believers”, but act like they are. I often forget that others are in the same process as me. They, like me, are in need of plenty of do-overs and remaking of baby steps. It is easy for me, in my pride, to have high expectations of others. I’m expecting them to be running mile 10 and their still on the starting line of the marathon (actually so am I).

Jesus wants us and calls us in this verses to be able to be at the starting line and secure in knowing we are capable to run the race. Even more, He wants us to be okay with letting others who may need it more or maybe less than us to experience it too. It is crucial that as we “Age in the faith”, we not forget where we came from, nor that we will probalby have to re-enter the kingdom with Christ as children again and again, which puts us at the same starting line with everyone else.

Additionally, we very carefully must tread and not let others “childlike behaviors” cause us to trip up in the race. Our tripping has a ripple effect and we will end up in someone elses lane and in doing so may cause someone else to fall. We need to be able to encourage each other to have “childlike faith”. If we get caught up watching everyone else in the starting line and examine their failures we’ll totally miss the opportunity to run free and without a disability.

I am not saying we are not called to accountability or to hold each other up to sin, what I’m more or less talking about is the ability to see the differences between someones immaturity in the faith and their sin and our expectations towards the immature.

I believe that we should have expectations of Christians that are reasonable to where they are in their marathon. If there is a new believer,  be excited and treat them differently than we would a seasoned believer. Both the seasoned or mature believer and the new believer, need love and encouragement to move into deeper relationship with Christ. And, more importantly, they need patience and understanding from those who have failed many times and will still fail again and again to move back into the God-love. Accountability, does not mean “nit-picking”, it means helping with excitement, each other when injured, or fatigued back into the race, maybe that is the starting line, maybe its back to mile 10. The disciples missed that. They were too busy judging who would be worthy enough to take up Jesus time.

Jesus is reminding the disciples in verse 16, that being a child in the faith is a powerful tool and that there are many blessings to be enjoyed. We quickly learned that in the same breath that Christ rebuked He began blessing the Children. “He took the children into his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them” (NIV) or “fervently invoked a blessing” (AMP). You and I need to know when we come to Christ as children and when others do as well there are many beautiful blessings to be shared. I know that it doesn’t implicitly state what blessings Jesus invoked, but I can’t help but to conclude that a significant blessing would be unity. Colossians 3:12-14 states, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (NIV). This verse makes it perfectly clear, if we are hindering fellow Christians from remaking baby steps we are at fault for disunity in the race.

So, Why should we be united?

Ephesians 4:13-16 says that unity creates maturity. We will become more mature and no longer “childlike”. Our childlike attitude will flourish into childlike faith that is mature. We will be able to move beyond baby steps and move into the walking or running phase of the race. We will learn to stand.

Our first and foremost step is to enter in as children, to give it all up and to believe with reckless abandon, then we must not watch everyone else waiting for them to fail, fall or we’ll find ourselves there again as well. SO, enter the race, on your marks, get ready, set, GO……RUN THE RACE!

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Remaking Baby Steps part 1

January 9, 2010 at 7:15 pm (Uncategorized)

Mark 10:13-16 The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. the disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it. “Don’t push these chilren aay. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in Gods Kingdom. Mark this : Unless you accept God’s Kingdom with the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.

Jesus states clearly that we must be like the children to find reconciliation with His Kingdom.Children are at their very core: honest, blatant, pure unhindered, and easily read. They are sinners, yes; but, children have an uncanny ability not to hold grudges or allow their mistakes to rule their life. They will after having said sorry to one another forget all about the offense.

I have witnessed this recently with my two year old son, Oren. He is now talking up a storm and as his vocabulary and understanding of his actions increases we have begun to ask him to apologize for his bad choices. the other day, while at my parents house. Unlike most parents, or in Oren’s case grandparents, my mom and dad still have young children at home. They have adopted a little girl, Abby, age 4, and have a foster daughter, Kayla, age 3 1/2, my son loves having built in auntie playmates. He loves going to grammy and papa’s house to “play with the kids”. The three of them were playing upstairs in between Abby and Kayla’s rooms, while the adults were downstairs talking. All of a sudden, we heard screaming, not the type of hurt screaming, but screaming out of anger and frustration. I ran up the stairs and called out all three children to the landing. They all sheepishly came out, knowing they were most likely getting in trouble.

I asked them simply, “What’s going on?”

Oren as innocently as possible says, “Mama, Oren hit Kayla”.

Abby, who may be 4, but is really going on 16 added, “Oren hit Kayla. Kayla hit him back. I told them they could NOT touch my toys, so I gave them one I didn’t want to share.”

I love that each of the two kids basically without meaning to tattled on themselves! They each had to apologize to each other, Abby for not sharing, Kayla and Oren for hitting. Know what happened next? They hugged each other and moved on to spend the rest of the day enjoying each others company.

I think we forget to move on as we age. We become cynical and our accountability andlack of honesty come into fruition. We hold grudges, make excuses, and are unable to make amends all to “save face”.

This is especially true with God. However, these actions as we age are an attempt to continue to keep track of our “frequent failure” miles (see frequent flier or failure blog)  and we begin to have utter disregard for God’s grace. At this point, we take back the failure card that we previously had given to Jesus to use our failures for his glory and we put it back into our own pocket. When we do this we may as well throw all of our past failures and put it back on the card. We’ve basically told Christ we don’t care what he did for us on the cross. We make light of His sacrifice.
Coming as children to Jesus, isn’t about being immature or believing without intellect, rather it is an act of denying our “adult” actions of insincerity, denial and cover-ups and saying, “Lord, I made a mistake. I’m sorry”. And most importantly, it’s about moving on. It’s about continuing to get up and being determined to start fresh and not letting the guilt and corruption of our souls eat away at us. It’s about experiencing LIFE with Christ and deciding to continue experiencing Life so He can make us pure.

I believe this is one of the first steps that we made in our faith. We accepted our sin nature asked for forgiveness and we moved forward in our walk with Christ because we had hope. This determination to come as a child to God with an attitude of repentence and willingness to move forward is NOT a one time thing. I’m not saying that you need to re-get your salvation, or that you lost it.Rather, I’m saying that we need to re-approach and re-make our baby steps towards the Kingdom. We need to let by-gones be by-gones and let God use the failures we have as his. As we saw Oren, Abby and Kayla do we need to apologize for our misdeeds and move on so that we can enjoy the company of Jesus. We need to move on in the hope that we are not finished that we are and can be complete.

The Holy Spirit is showing me that I need a lot of do-overs and a lot of patience. But, I have to choose to do them. I seem to be led astray by distractions, then guilt, followed by sin, followed by more guilt, followed by more sin. I’m deciding to stop that cycle when I first notice the symptoms of guilt and re-submit my attitude, mind, heart and soul to follow Him. I’m determined to not let Christ’s sacrifice on the cross be a waste because I choose to not let him have my failures. I want my frequent failure card to be His it’s too heavy for me to carry.

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Frequent Flier or Failure?

December 7, 2009 at 11:30 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Dear Lord, Here we are again. FAILURE. Lost. Broken. On the same dead-end routine. I’m tired of it. HELP ME. Make me motivated. Make me ready. Make me desire. I ask this not because I don’t want work, but because I forget to include you. I am selfish and I loose track of my time with or without you. I’m tired of letting days and weeks go by. I’m tired of my selfishness and my inability to get out of spiritual slumber because of it. Ignite and burn in me. Please, it’s what I am asking for and needing. Help me Lord to downsize my selfish life and increase your spiritual one. Amen

Lately, I’ve been making an attempt to be in the Word of God. As you can see, my attempts are futile. My existence in the God-story of life has been on detour. I have been cheating God out of a chapter or two and have been writing them myself. As you can see by my poignant prayer, I’m not a very good writer at least of my own life. I wonder how many people struggle with the same problem. Is it just me? Is it the human condition or do we sometimes get it right and sometimes not? I know its not me, these are more rhetorical questions, as I do realize the Bible is made up of people who were instead of “frequent fliers” in the God-story were “frequent failures”. Yet, God still used them for his purpose.

I can imagine Thomas saying similar things after doubting Jesus, or maybe Peter after denying Christ. The truth is, we all have a “frequent failure” card hidden in our back pocket. Sometimes, we might take it out show it, brag about how few miles we’ve racked up, or maybe we don’t even want to discuss it because we know our card has too many miles and we feel worthless. I am more like the hider than the bragger, but nonetheless, I am wrong.

As I have been in the Word off and on lately, I have felt God pointing out some things to me. I am convinced that Christ continues to show me these things so that I can move on from where I’ve been and move towards where He wants me to go. He wants me to as Philipians says, “press on towards the goal”. I know that God’s plan is bigger for me. I just need to get out of my own way, as I am my biggest obstacle, and stop dwelling on my failures. Through Bible readings in the gospel of Mark lately, I’ve discovered a pattern. I claim to be no Bible scholar, but I’m researching and I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus through the gospel of Mark, more specifically Mark 10:13-12:12 showed me some ways to reconcile my stubborn selfish heart and my small dry faith to continue to be a part of the God-story whether we are “frequent fliers” or “frequent failures”. I am learning to understand that Jesus never asked anyone to turn in their “frequent failure” card and become perfect, rather He has asked each person to let him be the carrier of it.

He calls us to give him the card, so that we can say, “Yes, I’m a failure, but Christ carries my failures and uses it for His glory.” We must hand over the card so that we can learn more about becoming faithful, God’s faithfulness and be given more responsibilites in Christs Kingdom. Dallas Willard, author of Divine Conspiracy states, “If we are faithful to Him here, we learn his cooperative faithfulness to us in turn. We discover the effectiveness of his rule I with us precisely in the details of day to day existence”. More simply put, if we are faithful to God we learn more about God’s faithfulness. By understanding God’s faithfulness, Willard suggests that we will feel a sense of God’s work beside us.He then goes on to say that according to the parable of the talents (Matthew 25), “our Master says, ‘Well done! You were faithful with a few things and I will put you in charge of many things…for God is unlimited created will and invites us, even now, into an even larger share in what he is doing'”.

If I stay where I am and never trust Jesus with my card, I’m gonna miss out on experiencing God and His kingdom, here, right now. Why would I choose to do that? For me, sometimes the problem is not giving my card up, but rather how to keep being there and moving forward. God is showing me through Mark how to move forward and how to go from there. These verses will most likely invoke a blog series because they are weighty, and I have a lot to learn from them. It is more than I could possibly write in one sitting, and more than any readers of my blog would be willing to read. So stick with me and keep checking in for more………

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My 11th Birthday

June 8, 2009 at 5:36 pm (Uncategorized)

Just recently, I celebrated my eleventh birthday as a Christian. Yes, it was eleven years ago that one of my best friends died, and eleven years ago, I realized that without a doubt, death is inevitable unless we experience God’s grace through salvation. Pretty exciting stuff. I’ve been reading and re-reading my blogs lately and have realized that most of my blogs look at my sin nature. I don’t want to seem like I am hard on myself, but the reality is–I like my sin, I love sin a lot, and I write because I have to. I need to write down the things God teaches me as a way to move forward–to quit the sin and move into God’s presence. Writing is my evidence and reminders of where I’ve come from and the woman God is forming me to be. I never realized it before, but I’ve been a writer my entire Christian life.

I remember when Patricia died, her journals were left out on the table for mourning friends and family to look through. Although we each knew Tricia was an amazing person, her journals (her ideas expressed honestly and never expecting them to be made public) gave insight into the person she was that no one would’ve known. Truth be told, she was just as amazing inside and out. In 7th grade, shortly after Tricia died and becoming a believer, I began to journal. It became important to me.It wasn’t an intentional thing, more of a way I suppose to express myself and to write down who I was inside despite what was going on outside. I told my best friends and my sisters that if I ever died–please burn them! Do not let anyone read them! I haven’t decided whether people reading them is still an issue. I would be embarrassed, but they are honest that’s for sure! Read with caution.

Seriously, though, I literally have more than 25 full journals (I counted recently). My journals are not just a snapshot of my life, they are expressions of my faith. Shortly after beginning the daily journaling of my mundane life, I began to write down my prayers, answered prayers, and it became a journal to God and about God. I think God always knew I was meant to write His lessons for me.

As I look back through these journals, I am proud, horrified, and sometimes amazed at the mighty things God did for such a young teenager. I have written evidence of my “undying love for Cole” at our first meeting in 9th grade. The struggles with my parents during my teen years and the ups and downs of friendships are all there. There are several moments of spiritual clarity.

My best friend Jayme (Cole’s cousin) and I had planned a youth night at our church and invited another youth group to join us. We believed God would move in a way that most teenagers and even adults believe impossible. We met at the retreat, gave up precious time with friends, and prayed every hour for 10 min that God would stir. HE did! As we prayed, God poured in. Soon, we were finding other teens to pray with and before we knew it. A spiritual revival had occured and 30 or more teens were on there knees worshipping and praying out to God for change. It’s amazing the things I have forgotten. I am thankful that I remembered to write it down.

Unfortunately, there is a 5 year gap, where I have stagnantly journaled. Over a 5 year period, there is one journal with dates that disappear over several months or even years. I am disappointed to say that this one journal shows a direct reflection on my sin and my unwillingness to repent and learn from my mistakes. But, truth be told, God was faithful during those five years. Even though I didn’t journal, looking back, I can see the places where God was actively pursuing me and seeking me and directing my life to be in the place I am now. He blessed me despite my unwillingness. He made my cup run over-He didn’t need me, but He will use me and will use this time of unbelief for His will. I don’t know why or what for, but I am confident in Him for this.

Although, I am disappointed in myself for these 5 years of spiritual desert, I am now in the wilderness, and it feels good. I am in a state of fruition (thanks Esther for reminding me of this word).


1. attainment of anything desired; realization; accomplishment: After years of hard work she finally brought her idea to full fruition.
2. enjoyment, as of something attained or realized.
3. state of bearing fruit.

I know that at anytime I can choose to go back to the desert. It would be detrimental, but I am not above it. I am also not below moving into the promised land. But, humbly,  I am moving forward–learning to be in the wilderness with God.

Phil 3:12-14  says, “ 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I am learning to keep Christ the focus. I’m praying for single-mindedness on him and focus to as my dad says, “keep on-keepin on”.

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Lite Faith Diet

May 8, 2009 at 3:59 pm (darkness/ligh, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I’ve been on this diet for sometime. I’ve been loosing pounds. It’s really easy here’s the diet: be lazy, eat little, meditate little, and lo and behold you loose pounds. Unfortunately, the diet I’ve been on hasn’t really lost me any physical pounds, just spiritual pounds.

I’ve been on the “Lite Faith” Diet. This diet as stated above is really lazy. It involves “religiousity” but really no movement towards God, eating very little of God’s word, virtually no meditation and what should I expect? Moving mountains? The truth is I expected God to keep all the promises he promised when he stated in Matthew 17: 20 And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”

I’ll be honest, I knew I had little faith, but little faith provides the impossible to be possible. It can move mountains right? God’s been showing me some different answers with better results to these mustard seed “Lite faith” diet questions. And, he’s been showing me that although little faith produces great rewards, large faith produces greater rewards.

It started a few weeks ago, I attended a Beth Moore conference. (By the way, never ever go to these unless you need change and to be challenged.) I was attending the conference on the heels of miraculous healing. (see There is a Season blog). Recently, I was diagnosed with having a prolactinoma brain tumor. Whether it was bad medical advice or Christ healing, I didn’t have a brain tumor! Praise God. God showed me through that experience that He is worthy to be trusted in. In that situation, I didn’t really have any control. I HAD to trust Him. Next, Cole and I had to trust in God and have faith that God would provide financial provisi0ns toward the extreme medical bills. And, He has. The hospital has forgiven the debts 100%, we’ve had a portion forgiven by 50%, and we’ve received over a thousand dollars from friends and family serving God by graciously giving. You’d think that after all this God faithfulness, that I would be ecstatic and I was, but it didn’t push me deeper than my mustard seed faith or really my “lite faith” diet.

At this conference, Beth Moore talked about Galatians 1:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. She challenged us to crucify our ego. To not just humble ourselves to God and move away from pride, but to get out of our own way. To stop saying we can’t or shouldn’t because of this. She reapplied the concept of the Old Testament righteous men and women who couldn’t do it on their own, and who honestly shouldn’t have been able to do it, but did because of God. Christ lives in us! In the Greek, this Christ living is the same word for morph. So the verse actually says Christ morphed in me. This idea of Christ being morphed in me is a new concept. If Christ is morphed into me, then I am Him. At least  I should be. As you can see, once you understand that  your ego is your biggest enemy, you can allow Christ to be morphed in you.

At this point, I knew my ego was a big part of my “lite faith” diet. My pride was not my issue (for once) rather the things that God was moving me towards that I let me talk myself out of. Once I laid that down, a strange thing happened. I ask God to show me what next? What do I do know without my ego in my way?

I believe God answered me, almost as clear as day He told me, “Get on your knees, I will do incredible things with you”.

What does that mean? I have no idea, I don’t know exactly what things God has in store, but I know they are going to be incredible. He’s called me to start a women’s bible study despite the fact that I am only 24 and feel that I am not a great “spiritual” giant, I don’t have it together, and really it probably won’t go well (see the ego problem)….truth is, He’ll use me regardless. It’s not really me, it’s him through me.

Additionally, he’s already proving that it is not enough for me to believe in God, I must move out on believing God. What I didn’t realize about Matthew 17:20, is there is a promise that a “lite faith” diet will produce some miraculous results, but in Matthew 17:21 it says, “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting”. In order to move mountains, we better be praying and fasting.

I’m learning that faith is more than having a “lite faith” diet. It is constantly seeking God’s will. Crucifying our ego. Letting Christ morph into us. Faith is complete trust. It’s understanding that although we don’t know the answer or know the next step we do it out of obedience. Faith is never complacent it is always moving. Faith is to stop the laziness, stop the “prettiness” and move into the muck. It is not a pretty thought, it takes action. Faith requires prayer.We better be on our knees, so that God will do incredible things with us. He promised he would move more than the mountains!

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There is a season…

March 4, 2009 at 5:38 pm (Uncategorized)

My next blog was going to be about living in the light as a follow up to my darkness falls, but alas (that’s a funny word), God is teaching me something new this week, and I want to share it as an encouragement.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 (The Message)

1 There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

This last week has been a very trying time for my family, as most who read this blog series I’m sure have heard. For those who haven’t, I went to the emergency room a week ago due to some strange symptoms. I honestly thought I was pregnant, but had taken roughly 5 pregnancy tests over a 3 week period (and yes I wanted to be sure it wasn’t a false negative). I don’t have insurance like millions of other americans, and knew that hopefully by going to the hospital instead of to a dr. they are more willing to be forgiving on the bill when you have no money. What I was diagnosed with initially is called Prolactinoma, a small benign tumor growing on the pituitary gland in my brain which can have some awful side effects including infertility and with yucky hormone treatments would most likely go away, but if and only if we were to try to conceive later there would be 95% chance that the tumor would return. To put it plain and simple–I walked in for a pregnancy test and walked out with a brain tumor.

As you can tell, this little bit of news was devastating to Cole and I. Not only was the idea of a brain tumor and treatments a horrific thought, but for those who know us best, know that family is extremely important to us, and at age 23 this prognosis didn’t seem so great for adding to our family. This was our time to lament, to cry, to rip out. And we did. For the first few days (sun, mon, tues), we really struggled with giving this internal battle to God and trusting in His timing and purposes. We were attempting to control the situation ourselves and be in control.

By Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling hopeless. I had called 100’s of doctors for a follow up and to read results and all of which either wouldn’t take state medical (which we are in the process of getting now), no insurance, or if they took both they couldn’t get us in til June (a big problem for a growing tumor). At this point, I lost it, I just began to sob and cry out to God out of anger, resentment. This was my time to grieve, to yell, to breathe out.

God is faithful when we are honest and began stirring my heart to trust in Him. To allow Him to work it out. During this waiting period on test results, doctors, and my stubborn heart to finally seek God, God was quietly and slowly speaking to me. My heart began to soften, and finally I gave in, I gave him control of the situation.

This initiated the time to heal, to listen, and to cling to God. God told me to look at what he’s given me. A loving husband, a beautiful boy, and an ability to love both wholeheartedly and honestly. I’ve always known that Oren was the best thing for Cole and I, he grew us up and made us re-evaluate our lifestyle and our life with Christ, he initiated the moment for us to decide to stop living our parents faith and start accepting responsibilty for our own. I’ve always given credit to God for blessing us so early in our marriage with a baby for the internal changes in each one of us, even though we would’ve waited if given the chance. Through God’s prodding, He made me realize that maybe growing us up wasn’t the only lesson about God’s timing, Oren would give us. Now, would be the time Cole and I would’ve preferred to begin the family planning process. If God hadn’t given Oren to us so early in our marriage, I am certain that right now I would’ve been extremely angry not just sad with God for taking away my ability to have children and would’ve most likely stepped away from my faith.  Thank goodness God’s timing is best and not our own!

As I learned to rest in his faithfulness and timing, I picked up my medical records on thursday from the hospital and didn’t open them until Friday night. Cole and I were sitting on the couch and decided to open them and read results (or make an attempt to). All the lab results, the way we were reading them, CT scan report–No noted masses, follow up with MRI and blood work. Blood work report–prolactin hormone normal, MRI report–No masses noted.  The doctor’s most likely misdiagnosed! We didn’t want to get our hopes up, but we were elated and relieved!!

Monday, the date of our follow up with the doctor, proved to be more exciting. He confirmed that the results were negative for Prolactinoma–hallelujah. This was our time to heal, to rejoice and to cheer. I still may have thyroid problems so we are still waiting on results, and that is a little nerve racking. But, I’m content. God showed me that my life is good, my family is good. Although I’d like more, right where he has me is best. God just showed me how much he is in control. When I gave it to him, he comforted my heart about it and said to me, “This isn’t the end” I knew that I would be okay and that there would be kids in my future whether my own or someone elses would become mine to cherish and love as my own. It seems that once I finally gave it to him, the tests and everything came back negative. Like he was saying, Trust me and I will make you well. I love that!!

I feel like this last week was a test (a very expensive one). Not God’s but mine. I say that I really love and trust God, but do I? God this week showed me I can and when I will he will prove faithful. I love how Ecclesiates 3 ends, it shows my new atttitude towards God.

9-13 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.

14 I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.
15 Whatever was, is.
Whatever will be, is.
That’s how it always is with God

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Darkness Falls

February 21, 2009 at 5:35 am (darkness/ligh) (, , , , )

Darkness Falls

Ephesians 5:8-13 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. for it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: Awake you who sleep, Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I’ve always believed the “light” to be a good thing, until it was my sludge and grim that was to be exposed.

This last year has been a very trying one, God began with me writing some things he was teaching me. As I began to write, journal, and have some silence with God memories and the things I didn’t know began to surface. Unfortunately, like many of us, I began to move those things deeper inside me. The things began to eat and me and I couldn’t stand who I had become. But, the unveiling didn’t stop there. It’s funny how one layer of the onion opens up to a deeper layer then a deeper one. God basically cut my onion in half and the juice just began to run and it hurt something fierce. It seemed the more God revealed the more I felt I had to hide the darkness. As I’ve stated in some earlier blogs, the darkness made me fearful to be me and fearful to express myself honestly. But, God thankfully doesn’t leave us laid open and bare to be inwardly wounded and alone with our sin and isolation. We’ve been talking about this “sin-isolation” in church recently through a Rated R series on sexual sin. It wasn’t through this study that I moved out of isolation, but the study helped me to reconcile my understanding in the sin process. The series asked me a few questions that I hadn’t really thought about

  • When we allow sin to move us to isolation, what does that say about our view of God? For me, if I honestly admit it, during this phase of isolation (that is not a one time thing, but will occur time and time again during sin) I mis-believed that God was predictable, he loved me, but couldn’t love me through it. By putting it in Hands, the drama would be there with everyone else, He’d want me to confess and I wouldn’t be able to take it. God could love other people, but somehow I was unloveable and by admitting it to God it made it real, I had to admit I did it and I didn’t want to.
  • When we allow sin to move us to isolation, what does that say about our view of ourselves? Isolation moves me to believe that I was different. My struggles are my own and I couldn’t handle the reprocussions of the sin if it was exposed. My misbelief about myself is that I wasn’t strong enough to endure, but strong enough to carry the burden silly isn’t it?
  • When we allow sin to move us to isolation, what does that say about our view of our family, children, and friends (mostly the people we’ve chosen to surround ourselves with)? This part strikes me the hardest, I guess I didn’t really think about it in these terms in the midst of my sin, but looking back I can see that my misbelief was that once I moved past my misbelief about God and myself, I believed that those around me were so unpredictable and would offer no forgiveness or it would be broadcast to the world which is unforgiving in its very nature. Oh, the things we make ourselves believe….

In the 2003 movie, “Darkness Falls”, which in my opinion is a little ridiculous and unrealistic of a movie, there was a woman, back in the 1800’s that little children would take their old teeth (ones they had recently lost) to in exchange for a gold coin. A few years later, tragedy struck her, first a fire in her house which caused her to not be able to go into any type of light, and then she was hanged. The modern day town uses this original story as a sort of folk lore to explain the “tooth fairy”. The folkloric story goes that she can’t go in the light, and if you wake up and see her, she’ll kill you. A young boy who’s heard the story wakes up the night the tooth fairy comes and sees her, but is able to turn on a flashlight which pushes her back into darkness. The young boy grows up and becomes obsessed about staying in the light and if any darkness comes the “tooth fairy” comes out to kill him.

This somewhat ridiculous movie makes me wonder if it wouldn’t be more healthier to view darkness in the same way. Ephesians makes it clear that the darkness kills us it says, “Arise from the dead and Christ will give you light.” When we put our faith in Him, he’ll move us out of the darkness and into the light, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It took me a long time to get past my misbelief about God, myself, and those around me. I’ve learned that the darkness lasts as long as we let it. We can be free from it, and yes the light is a little blinding at first, but if we stay in it and we will live. LIFE, plain and simple, if it were for nothing else isn’t that worth it?

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Confessions on Barbie, God, me and my messy spirituality

November 5, 2008 at 12:01 am (Uncategorized)

For the past few years, I’ve struggled greatly with how to express my faith and I’ve struggled to keep a relationship at all with Christ because of it. I’ve continuously blamed outside circumstances like school, job, work, family, busyness, etc or internal ones like pride, rebellion, God’s asking me to do what I don’t want to, etc. All of these reasons/excuses are all a part of the problem in the great struggle of living out my relationship, but I’ve come to realize lately that my biggest cause for this rift between expression of faith, relationship with Christ, and allowing the excuses to control my life is because I have been looking at my expression or relationship with Christ through Religious goggles.

It all started my junior year of highschool, I was a pastor’s kid (not that that is an excuse), and I was fast learning that adults and children in the church’s expectations of me far exceeded that in which I could ever achieve. I would receive comments from congregation members, “Ashley, I wish my girls would grow up and be as perfect as you are and follow the Lord just as you do.” What do you say to that? “Excuse me lady, but if you knew my heart you would know that it is far from perfect…please don’t ever say that again.” No, instead we are taught, nod your head, say thank you for the compliment and move on.  Instead of clarifying the situation, I sat in silence. This wasn’t the only time silence became an escape, as a PK (pastor’s kid), comments like this became the norm. Even though I would cringe internally everytime I heard one, silence was easier than the truth. That comment proved to me that people expected perfection–perfection equals sprituality, and Christians are to be perfect. So, for much of the next 5-6 years, I sat in silence, too afraid to allow others to believe anything different, and too ashamed to admit that my heart and life weren’t perfect and that I would somehow ruin my reputation or my parent’s reputation if I said anything to the contrary.

Soon after highschool, I moved away to a “Christian” university. I was so excited to be moving away from living in silence. Allowing others to really know me without having to ruin anyone’s ideas of who or what I was quickly became an exciting aspect of beginning a life outside of a perfect fish bowl. What I discovered was even more devastating. Instead of people telling me I was perfect, they kept telling me I wasn’t good enough. It was like the perfection fish bowl contorted to a Christian bubble one in which there was no oxygen, no room for sin or anything that may seem a little different. There was a perfection mold and I didn’t fit. It felt like everyone kept saying, “Your a spritual giant when you’ve spoken in tongues, can afford the expensive clothes, feel blessed beyond measure, your life is under control, you never have a bad day, see God inside every moment, never stumble, never sin, _______________________ (you fill in the blank). Frankly, the way I see it–you’ll never fit”. As you can see, this wore on my soul. No matter what I did, I didn’t fit the mold and probably couldn’t so why try. At that point, I gave up, spiritually speaking. Soon after that I became a pew warmer. Well no–I wasn’t that, I more than that I was a dedicated and wholesome plastic religious woman of God. Hallelujah. My soul was corrupt, my life exuded Godliness.

I was a HYPOCRITE. A word I’ve always despised, and still do, but couldn’t admit that I had become one. My need to be Barbie, the ultimate woman model of perfection, caused me to have countless pointless relationships with friends, family, and others. My barbie-ism forced me to push others away, prevented confessions of sins to others, and ultimately living a life of complete and utter loneliness. Yes, you can have others around and still experience loneliness. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel loved unconditionally by others, I just felt I couldn’t share my inner-most with them for fear that I wouldn’t be.  I’ve never wanted to be this, never thought I would and yet couldn’t be honest enough with myself to admit that I was. Without reasoning, I think that I thought everyone else was too. Church for me became a bunch of plastics exuding godliness with soul-corruption….and I think in most ways I didn’t see it wrong.

As a previous barbie woman of God, I’ve read James several times. I’ve always taken the wonderful verses of perserverence through times of trials, counting them pure joy, as a tool to endure whatever life throws at me, but I’ve never heartfully read the entirety of James, nor have I let them soak through my being and meditated on them. These few versus are actually only found in the beginning of James. The rest of James, unfortunately for me speaks about being true followers of Christ and to quit persuing religiousity.  God has moved my heart in reading them…listen to this…(these are random versus found throughout James)

“Anyone who sets himself up as ‘religiousby talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world….my dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith….Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?…Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that , but what good does it do them? …Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faithful works? ….Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom–its animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever your trying to look better than others or get the better of others things fall apart and everyone ends up at each others throats.

In the book, Messy Spirituality, Michael Yaconelli (a book Cole and I are reading to become life group facilitators) says some pretty profound things, things that have altered my view of my faith, my expressions of faith and who I am to others…

“Spiritual people also admit their unfinishedness. Unfinished means incomplete, imperfect, in process, in progress, under construction. Spiritual describes someone who is incomplete , imperfectly living thier life for God. The construction-site of our souls exposes our flaws, the rough-hewn not-finished, faith clearly visible in our hearts”

“[having] messy spirituality not only reminds us we will always be a work in progress; it also reminds us that the unfinished life is a lot more spiritual than we imagined”

“the church has communicated that competence is one of the fruits of the spirit and that therefore, spirtual people are supposed to live faith compentently. Jesus cares more about desire than competency.”

“No one can follow God and be comforable for long. Seek the spiritual life, admit your messiness, follow Christ wherever he leads you, and discomfort is right around the corner. ”

I wish I would’ve read this book 5 years ago. It would have taught me then, that living for Christ is messy. ‘It’s far from perfect and as James makes clear

“Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down and out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God.”

Thankfully, God is a romancer who continually seeks us despite our failings and prods us to return to him.Through the book of James, I’m finally understanding what it means to be a true Christian . My prayers are becoming more honest. My life is becoming more honest. My friends are becoming more true. I am learning to speak to deny the things that are not true about myself and be silent when listening to God. I’m learning that I am a woman who wants a messy spirituality life…a true life with Christ…I’m shedding the plastic barbie and being Ashley.

I love the song from Derek Webb (one in which he has received a lot of flack from mainstream Christianity) for its honesty in his relationship with Christ…

If you could love me as a wife
and for my wedding gift, your life
Should that be all I?d ever need
or is there more I?m looking for

and should I read between the lines
and look for blessings in disguise
To make me handsome, rich, and wise
Is that really what you want

I am a whore I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
and I run down the aisle
and I run down the aisle
I?m a prodigal with no way home
but I put you on just like a ring of gold
and I run down the aisle to you

So could you love this bastard child
Though I don?t trust you to provide
With one hand in a pot of gold
and with the other in your side

I am so easily satisfied
by the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take a little cash
Over your very flesh and blood

Because money cannot buy
a husband?s jealous eye
When you have knowingly deceived his wife

……………..I hope to be just as honest. I’m done being plastic. I hope my life to you begins to look messy fully unfinished, a work in progress as my friend, colleague, family, spiritual ally, etc…hold me to a messy life, a messy spiritual life. Help me to air out my dirty laundry with you, maybe I’ll start to smell a little cleaner despite my messiness.

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