Thursday, June 26, 2014

Where You Matter Most {and its NOT where you think}

I've learned this lesson over and over, and then thought I had it- only to have to go back and learn it again. 

and I get it, because I've been victim of it.

Thinking the only worth we have is where people can see it. I've instagramed my clean kitchen, I've posted happy news over real life, I've uploaded smiling images of my kids in clean clothes.

Why? Because I wanted you to see my insta-life. My life that was picture worthy. My status updates that were my best. I wanted acceptance.

This past year, I've really been on a journey and more lately, because I'm giving up what is the hardest thing- approval. It is not an over night thing. It's a daily thing. It's a Jesus thing. To finally see that when I clean my kitchen, I don't need an audience to see it.

God already does.

This post is really simple, and really point blank. You matter, and it's not to people. Man doesn't compare to the One who sees you- at your darkest and without those filters. Even when we don't clean our kitchens. Even on our worst days.

I talked to a family member and from there we realized how much, daily we look at our news feeds and see other people's insta life too- and we believe its reality.

That's dangerous. Really really scary. It's then we compare, we belittle, we cut ourselves down because we don't measure up. Then we go into our lives that aren't picture ready and we don't live- we just exist. I've been there, and I've done it- day after day. And I see other people doing it too.

I'm being real today. and from here on out. Here are some very truths about me- my kids fight like crazy, I never get to put on make up and very rarely get a break because my husband works as a truck driver and I am most of the time a single parent- which is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. The only reason I can make it everyday is because of Jesus and grace, and new mercies, forgiveness.

Where we matter? In our day to day real life. Where only Jesus sees. Where only Jesus can peek in the window of our hearts and see what we are dealing with. Our worth does not come from the internet, from people, from pictures.-- and I'm saying this as a die hard instagrammer.

It's the hardest work going from a distracted person to an intentional one. Some days I can't even believe I am doing it, and some days I fail. But I am ready for the next chapter in my life- and I am praying for yours.

When you show up for life, that's exactly where Jesus wants you.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

House of a Thousand Dreams

I never imagined this way of life until God moved us into it. 6 months ago, my husband and I both prayed so hard without abandon that something BIG would change us and literally- move us. Everything about us. Our faith, our marriage, our parenting, and finally, our living circumstances. I wrote about living in our apartment for 7 years which we out grew and we prayed for space- wide open space. For our hearts and our children.

But, its not easy. Actually, its placed in the most scariest and most vulnerable place- to leave everything up to Him and trust all.

God does not fail. He answered- and we fell into clay at let Him mold us and craft us. Into more. I cannot express into words how amazing God is- He just is, and the past month has radically changed the person I am. Not because we moved into a house. Not because my husband has a new job. It's because He is God alone and He loves us no matter what. No matter the sin. No matter the failures. No matter the mess ups. Let's face it, I've messed yesterday and today and I will tomorrow. But I stopped the lie of thinking God was mad at me and fell in love with what is written about His children. We are loved by the Almighty. I'm letting the fact sink in that he SENT a SAVIOR to die for us and asked for NOTHING in return.

So when I prayed a small little prayer, He answered in a BIG way- not because I deserve it but because He deserves the praise. 

I had to jump off of a cliff and TRUST that he would make me wings. That's exactly the way it feels.

My husband works away from us for the first time ever, and I've received some criticism about it. Things like- oh that's the worst job ever, that will never work, your marriage is in trouble, how can you deal with that... the list goes on.-- I've learned this in return- I know who is real in my life and what they say matters, and all they speak is love and support. The truth is, my husband working away has taught us the greatest lesson of all time- that time should not be taken for granted, love shouldn't, and people shouldn't. It's completely changed our marriage and our family for the better. We make every minute count. God has worked through us and for us to bring us to where we are now. I call our house a house of a thousand dreams, because I can't even explain to you how many nights I've stayed awake thinking of a yard for my kids to run in. A house that we could begin in. Be still my heart. Oh my.

I don't have much to say this time, but I feel my heart wanting to say to you tonight- keep praying fervently and seek His face for your dreams. He won't fail you, abandon you or pass you by. Speak life and send it up.

I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see
~ 2 Corinthians 5:7 

Until next time, my dear sweet friends.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Where God Moved Us.

A very deep prayer that I've been praying for has been answered, this last week- we moved. We have lived in an apartment for 6 years. Babies came, and the walls got smaller, but still, we loved through it and it became our house of a thousand dreams. We prayed, but we became content with our small little home that housed the best memories of my life. My babies were born and brought home there. We celebrated our first and 5th Anniversaries there. We didn't have a yard, but we made do. We didn't have a washer and dryer and had to take it to the complex's washing place, but we just did it. We worked hard. My husband worked over night shifts for 4 years. Weekends. There were hard times, but we prayed through them as hard as we could and kept strong together. One day, I told my husband, God will bless us with something else, but we need to be content RIGHT where we are.

That day came, and the house we are blessed with was beyond anything I could have imagined. I wanted a yard for my kids to catch fireflies in and smell the southern air. I wanted only what God wanted us to have, and we patiently waited. We waited through tough times, storms, trials, struggles. We waited and we desperately prayed through a season of perseverance. We stopped working it out in our own flesh and I do mean it when I say we completely gave ourselves over to God and trusted in Him alone. Move us Lord. Not only into another house, but move us in our faith.

Our new house scares me to death. I've gotten on my knees and face EVERY single night in thankfulness. I walk around speaking life and praising Him. I don't even understand how an undeserving girl could be rescued, loved and redeemed by someone I could never repay. I don't know how to say the words, so I just live them for Jesus.

My girls are running around a yard, laughing. That to me is worth every single hard thing I've ever done and will do. Are hard times over? No. But I will pray through them because I put away the insecurities I had that I wasn't worthy of God's love. I lived a really good chunk of my life believing people instead of reading exactly what is written about me. In a book that is all over the world in ink- we are loved. That beats out any opinions over my life any day. Ink trumps words. God trumps man.

It took a long time to get to that point of blocking out the world and focusing, TRULY focusing on the plans of the Lord. To stop my need to control my life because I was exhausting myself. I was too tired to pray. To tired to turn to the Lord because I was so famished in doing my own 'work'.

When I stopped, God began. I'm living proof. God is real and He loves you and I and He will bring us out of the black pit and set us on that mountain.

I finally put on that armor of God it shows us in the Bible. Put it on sisters, and wage the war. Break through and break free.

God will move you.

For the first time in so long I can't remember, I can breathe again. Because I know His mercies are new every morning and I can look out my window and know that is the highest truth.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Shout it from the Rooftops.

My story? 

I always felt it was never good enough and that nobody wanted to listen. Because I felt like telling it would become a broken record that people would eventually get tired of.

I never felt good enough to even be in my own skin. I walk around thinking "Am I doing this right?" "Will people notice I did this?".

When people didn't like me, it crushed me. Everyday. For years. I wanted to know why and how I could make it better. I wanted the answer. The proven fact of WHY I didn't measure up. I felt invisible. I felt so unseen to the human eye that I just wanted to disappear.

Then I became a wife and mother. And then, a Christian. Love that I didn't ask for or even felt I deserved overflowed into my life and through the dark cracks and scars of my heart- and suddenly- things healed that I didn't even expect. My babies reach out for ME. My husband loves ME. Me- the little person who thought she was too small and overlooked, too unliked and flawed. Suddenly, the gifts I always wondered if I had started coming to the surface and broke free. It wasn't me, it was Jesus.

I live a small life. I have lived a hard life. I have sacrificed myself for the world and that is something I never want to do again. I let the world dig into my heart and eat away at my soul. I have laid in bed at night physically hurting thinking I wasn't enough.

I don't need the approval and I don't need the go ahead. I don't need people to be okay with me. I needed to be okay with me. I needed to look in the Bible and read what is written about me, and you, and everyone. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. I recite this daily, because I never want what people have said about me to define who I am. To follow me for years and never let up. I always know I can grab my bible whether its beside me on the night stand or in my phone while I need a quick look- Ashley, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God chose you and you are no accident. You have things in your heart you haven't even begun to unleash for the Kingdom.

I wear my scars and my story on my outside now. I don't repress it inside. There are people that need to hear our imperfect champion stories of how God rescued us out of the pit. People need to hear how Jesus loves them. People need to hear that someone knows how it feels, because they have been there before. Don't stay quiet about your truth. Unleash it, break chains, and run forward. Shout it from the rooftops- you are a new creation in Christ.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Here Lately.

Hello sweet friends. Wow, haven't been here in about a month. But, I can tell you- I am still around. Reading your sweet blogs, or over at your instagram- or anywhere we connect! I just don't engage like I used to because I am engaged at home. The last few months have really been a turning point in our lives. I made a cup of coffee and and traded a little nap to steal a few moments so I could tell you.

{One} I'm learning to slowly get away from the internet. I LOVE the friendships and the connections- but there is a underlining and subconscious trick the devil is trying to use- that everyone else has it all together and you don't measure up. I was realizing it was the source where most of my hurt feelings were coming from. Someone would say a short comment that I didn't know the meaning of, the list goes on. Even if you aren't a jealous person, even if you hardly ever have those envious feelings. It doesn't matter. The enemy still has tricks, ploys and weapons to use against us. I now just stick with the people I know are real and leave the rest.

{Two} I only read what uplifts me. I really had a BAD habit of reading everything. I thought I had to. Now, I only read from the blogs, magazines, instagram feeds and books that inspire me. Just because a popular book is coming out or a title post looks interesting- I don't have to read it.

{Three} Small is ok. I love discovering and encouraging new people, new bloggers that need it- like myself. We small bloggers really make up a lot of the writing community. I love that they have BIG hearts and a blessing to share.

{Four} I grew up. I am more ok to say NO and not right now, and that can't wait. To the things that weren't important that I thought were. God really laid this one on me. I thought I had to say yes to everything- really long story made short- I don't have to. My family comes first. Saying no has made me a better person.

{Five} God made us all unique and all our gifts are different. What works for someone else- doesn't work for me. This was a big Ah-a moment for me. The moment I stopped thinking I had to be this and that to make it. To be seen. To be heard. God will give you the exact talents and gifts you need to further His kingdom. Not your neighbor or the girl at church. YOUR GIFT.

...and lastly {Six} My babies are growing up! I took all the time that I worried about blogging everyday and getting into this group conversation or whatever it may be- I gave it up. All of it. I write when I feel led and it doesn't even bother me. What is most important is being the mama and wife I need to be. That is my season right now.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Race We Were Never Meant For

"Jesus has a race marked out for you. He will run along side you until the last of your light of your life fades. You can never outrun Jesus and His love will never run out. It might take the whole rest of your life before you know the truth in all its magnificent fullness. The good Lord might well have to remind you right up until that last moment when you step over the finish line because the world will continue to make a grab for you. You will face headwinds and steep inclines. You might feel like a nobody, the last one on the track, long forgotten. But YOU WILL FINISH. Jesus will be there waiting."  ~Jennifer Dukes Lee {Love Idol}


I don't write here much like I used to. That used to bother me so bad- thinking I would miss out or be forgotten about. 4 years of blogging, writing, and pouring into this page I have grown up- and evolved into my skin as a woman. So, the choice to give it up for a season or however long- was perfectly okay. I used to and still do have such a pull to the world. It's taken me upside down and inside out to discover that the only voice and the only approval I needed is the Lord's. Ever since I jumped in with a full heart- no matter how hard and how strenuous- I threw myself into a mission to give up the world. I was buried in and up to my knees in what people thought of me and how I could be better.

I read every book on women and their faith and thought it was helping me. When all along, some books were actually hurting my walk with Christ. God quickly smacked me right in the soul saying- you cannot idolize or seek anyone but ME. Oh the humiliation I felt for doing that. It's exactly what I needed. I thought their books were necessary to be the woman of the Lord I was supposed to be. One pre-ordered book came to my mailbox and after a couple chapters- I refunded it. Things that used to pull me in don't anymore. Other people's journey's aren't mine and I can't ride their coat tails or live up to where they are at. These days I am very careful about what I am reading, seeing, and believing. That is why I completely recommend Love Idol. One of the best books I've ever read. Jennifer Lee is an encourager.

She has taught me that the only APPROVAL is Christ's. It's the only validation that matters. Seriously. I needed the saving grace and the freedom of giving up some of the things I've carried around for a decade. Things that I can see when I look in the mirror are still visible scars. So I gave up writing, and people pleasing and letting the devil steal, kill and destroy.  I speak life on the dark days. I pray on my knees. I bought a journal and I write there. I leave scriptures to remind myself who Jesus thinks I am. The single handed most scariest thing I have done is let people define me. It twisted my soul into knots that I couldn't seem to unravel. 

So Pre-approved is a movement that I exampling infront of my girls. That imperfections are beautiful and that perfect is illusion. That serving and running towards the feet of Jesus is the only answer.  

There is no more pretending or running the race I was never meant to run. I can't tell you how many hours and days I've worried that I wasn't going to measure up. There is freedom in just being small. There is no approval in fame or popularity. It's really- a race we were never meant to run. We are just sent here to encourage and support and guide towards our maker.

I can physically feel a power in my heart from throwing up my hands to the world. I am overcoming but not because of what I am doing. But because of what He is doing. What I was missing out on? Was my own life. Was my own contentment. Was my own faith. Was my own voice.

 “He must become greater,
I must become less.”
~ John 3:30

Friday, March 21, 2014

Joy {Five Minute Friday}

There is a delight in me that dawned on me last night. I don't have to keep seeking approval.

Do you ever feel like sometimes, before you know it- you are chasing after idols and running their race. Hoping they will throw you a bone.

Yeah, that's me. Right smack in the middle of desperately seeking their okay and desperately seeking the face of Jesus. Part of me hangs on so hard to wait around to be liked. I can't stand that scary dark part of my heart.

Here is something that doesn't work- working hard towards their okay and not God's. I had to give up and give in to letting go. I did it last night. I took a good, HARD look at who I was hoping would notice me and I broke those chains. I did a very BRAVE thing for myself. I took out the hard part for myself and shook it out of my system. 

There is joy in really stepping out and not caring who sees. And forgetting who thinks your invisible. We need to do that for ourselves. We can wrap ourselves up and so tightly we can't break free from other people's thoughts of us. Scary, so very scary to be trapped in that.

We have to give up the scary thought that we won't measure up if they don't see our gifts. If they don't see our light. If they don't see our hard work.

There is someone who always sees and someone who thinks you are fearfully and wonderfully made. There is someone who carried the cross and died on it because you are worth it. Before you look down on yourself and think those people are higher up. Before you wait for them to notice- break those chains and break free.

Your worth, your merit, your beauty doesn't get defined by man. They can't see into your soul like He can. There is joy. Joy comes in the morning.