Monday, August 25, 2014

The Sweet End of August.





Instead of coming to the computer daily, I come about once or twice monthly. I love to write, but I really don't consider myself a blogger anymore. Just come here to share, and love this community- and encouraging others. I do a mass ton of reading and writing on my own, back up in the woods in Tennessee. Country life is really growing on me- everyday I feel closer and nestled into finding that this is right where I am supposed to raise my babes, and reach Jesus.

Out here I've learned how much I don't need, what doesn't serve my family and I anymore, and what I needed more of. There is a lot of quiet out here, which has been medicinal to my heart. Long years searching and finally, the HOME found us.

Heres a look into this month, as it comes to a sweet ending.

{My sweet baby girl, started Kindergarten. This one was so tough but she is so bright and brilliant. Shes flourishes in her new little school!}



{Made a wonderful new friend, Carrie, and had us a canning party along with my sister. Carrie taught us! Shes like a real life Pioneer Woman- and thankful for her friendship.}


(Which leads us to her taking us to our first little roadside Farmers Market, which I ADORED! A whole box of tomatoes for $5!? Oh yes!}


{And the very last and sweetest- my littlest turned 3- and we celebrated with a FROZEN party! Which everyone loved and she was so happy! I can't believe she grew up on us. She is such a blessing!}





What an amazing month. I don't have much words, just a heart bursting with thankfulness. I'll be back soon with more to talk about, but right now I am just listening to Jesus about being still in this season. He is sharpening me. I love all you precious friends and can't wait to go read your blogs! Watch for me!

Love,

Ash







Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tell {Five Minute Friday}








Ive never opened my heart or my home to other women. Coming from the past 10 years of so much hurt and anger, I closed up and off. 

I wasn't going to try anymore. The meaning of friendship was a facade, as far as I was concerned. 

This past year, I changed a lot of things. Drastic and simple, but most of all I did a lot of crazy things I thought I could never do. For so long I was stuck and mad, angry and quiet.

So this year I have told my testimony out loud, taught a women's class at church, and just this week- opened my door to my home and let 11 women come in and completely break open my hard heart and extend grace, love and acceptance. 11 women sat in this living room and told their stories, their fears, their hearts and their testimonies.

After all this time believing my heart was permanently shredded, the gospel was lived out right in my living room- a bunch of us broken women- serving, praying, loving, reaching out over coffee mugs and tears.

God can take broken hearts and hardened souls like mine and remake them, if we hand Him the broken pieces and trust that he will make a masterpiece where we could make only a catastrophe.

We need to declare our hurts and give them over to the one that can fix, heal, and birth us into something more. And one day, we find ourselves exactly that.


We just need to tell the Lord, without saying a word to the world.












Sunday, August 03, 2014

Life: Around the Table








My beautiful friend Liv sent me the most lovely book- Bread and Wine, almost a year ago- and ever since then I have read and re read it, and am about to crack it open and read again. 

Our kitchen tables are for serving. And this morning, I was so intimidated when my beautiful little one asked for pancakes. I froze- 'Like, the kind you make? Or the freezer kind?' I asked her. Of course- she wanted homemade. To make a long story short- I was never taught how to cook, but oh how I longed for it. When I got married, I set out to prove my unnatural skills wrong and bit the bullet. I learned the basics, and I cook lunch and dinner but for as long as I can remember, breakfast always scared me. What if I mess it up? What if they come out wrong? What if she doesn't like them?

For years, breakfast in our house is usually something fast and skill free- pop tarts, cereal, oatmeal. And as many times as I've served a fast breakfast- I always felt deep down it was time to give up, stop being intimidated and actually cook from love, not expertise. 

I want my girls to run in and know mama made it from her heart, whatever it may be, even if it's not perfect or exactly right.

This morning I broke my fear of ruining it, and just made a mess. And out of that mess came these imperfect, uneven pancakes and my kids LOVED them. Inhaled them. And something new happened in my heart- your attempt at unlevel, bumpy pancakes, to them, is better than store bought.

Life around the table here, in my house, I want to be about serving. Hospitality and love. Not excellence or ideal. That gathering is holy. The point is to get people we love around the table and bring light and life to what is important. Who really cares if it doesn't come out like you thought- your heart for your family is what makes it even better than perfect. Nourishing bellies and souls is a labor of love straight to Jesus.






Sunday, July 27, 2014

I am Giving up Distracted for Examined.






I asked the Lord to be examined. Not just for the moment or the day- but everyday. I ask to be shown the hard places, the dark places I needed to be healed from in my heart.

The things I really needed to be set free from. Those scary things I was a slave to. I was chained to. Those very things that  felt scary comfortable while the Bible felt foreign. I don't want to be one of those Sunday Christians {and like the world Monday-Saturday} I don't want to be a person that says I will help someone in need and never do it. I don't want to be shackled to the world and not to Jesus. I don't want clean hands- I want look down and see wore, hard worked hands from giving, helping, serving. Christianity doesn't wear lipstick and a dress to church, it bleeds the gospel out loud every single day throughout the week.

So lately here, life has been altered. I don't do things I used to do. I even gave up some things I thought I loved and desperately needed to hold on to. Everyday a little voice says- Make today matter, our time here is short. It sounds cliche, but its very true. A couple months ago- I read something that shattered my heart and put a perspective in me that changed the way I mother and I live- Jaqui from Baby Boy Bakery- lost her 4 year old son the day they went to Disney World and had a beautiful time- and then he was gone. I follow her instagram and she reminds me everyday that life is so precious and to fill it- no matter how hard- with love and Jesus.

So that friend that doesn't speak to me anymore? That lady that isn't nice to me at church? That person that just gave me a judgmental look? I am letting it roll off. My back. For good. God has placed the ones in your life for a reason and they will stay permanently. Life is so precious. I've learned to not worry, wonder, think back or dwell on what didn't turn out or go my way. My scars and my mistakes are my testimony. My failures turned out to be my greatest victories.

I keep asking God to remind me daily- even in the toughest moments- Ashley, if you were not going to be here tomorrow- would this matter? I am giving up distracted for examined. That's exactly where I am beginning.
















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.



~~Ashley




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