Gaining Strength Through Vulnerability

A few Sundays ago I was really struggling. The week before had been awful with long days at work, unpleasant drama in some close relationships, and unforeseen and unbudgeted expenses. Think of all the things that drain your energy, and they were probably a part of my week. The weekend hadn’t brought any more rest with it either, so by Sunday morning I pulled into the church parking lot with my emotional tank on E.

I sat through the sermon, and I tried not to cry.

I didn’t tell anyone how down I felt. How hard things were. How in need of prayer I was.

Because I didn’t want anyone to know that I was a hot mess. Continue reading “Gaining Strength Through Vulnerability”

Maybe Heaven Won’t Be That Crowded!

Overcrowded

Being the analytical sort, I have always figured that Heaven will surely be way overcrowded!! I mean, think of the world population today and then throw in all the previous generations! Even if Christians are the only ones going there—based on John 14:6 which says “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’”—there are still loads of folks called Christians who have died over the centuries! So I always thought it sounded like standing room only in Heaven! Continue reading “Maybe Heaven Won’t Be That Crowded!”

Satisfaction

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“The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are
dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered
garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” Isaiah 58:11


One dirty sock, one beaded cross keychain, and a few coins. These were the items that my stepson carefully placed next to each other in a straight, neat row. He looked at me with a smile and said, “Now Ash, which one of these things should you never throw away?”

I looked at the items, puzzled by what his little mind was trying to accomplish. I took a second and thought about all the topics we had discussed on prayer and Jesus, and I chose the cross with a question in my voice.

“You’re exactly right!” was his response.

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That scene played over and over in my head. Mostly because I thought it was cute. But then one morning, as I was preparing for a run before the rest of the members of my house woke up, it hit me. I was going through all that I needed to do, bills that needed to be paid, and pondering the future as I laced up my shoes. The thought stopped me dead in my tracks and I knew instantly that it was from the Lord.

“What is most important?”
Continue reading “Satisfaction”

Threadbare

Threadbare2

I avoid hard times and tough choices at almost any cost. If being allergic to hard times was a thing, I would definitely be allergic. Like highly allergic. There is something buried deep inside us all that tells us we were not meant for pain and hardships, that these things are results of the Fall not of the Creation.

While it is natural to be resistant towards difficulties, it is completely unnatural to expect that difficulties will never arise. And yet, for some odd reason, Christ-followers tend to believe, either consciously or subconsciously, that when we dedicate our lives to following the way of Jesus our lives will be void of hardship. It is almost as if we think God owes us something for deciding that we want to live life the right way instead of the wrong way. But that is not the way life goes. Continue reading “Threadbare”

Orlando: June 2016

Orlando_shooting_dc_160612_4x3_992ORLANDO, FL – JUNE 12: Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

In the aftermath of the shooting in Orlando, my heart grieved for the men and women who in their final moments of life experienced the kind of terror that is of nightmares. I cried looking at the faces of every person who won’t be home for the holidays, the voices that won’t ever again wish a “happy Mother’s Day” or “happy birthday.”

It made me wonder if I was ever to find myself in a situation where a shooter was on the hunt for me and for my friends, if I could hear him coming, if I knew my life was moments away from ending, whose voice would I want to hear? What would I say? What would my parting words be?

In asking the questions, the humanity of each face came into focus. The people who died in the shooting in Orlando were sons and daughters. They had inside jokes with their friends and insurance payments to make. They liked spaghetti and sunsets and going on fast rollercoasters. They had favorite colors and bad days. They wanted to be loved and to grow old. Continue reading “Orlando: June 2016”

Time with God; Check.

6971254-morning-sunrise-pictures-20839During a time of prayer, someone described a beautiful place and said that was where me and God meet, just the two of us. Then came the knife. The person said they felt God say He wished I’d come there more often.

My time is valuable. Rest is not easy for me, and I still struggle to ever truly rest. It has left me a lot of days feeling like an exhausted race horse. I did a lot of running but never felt like I got any where. It was never enough. So for God to want more of my time just seemed like adding more to the list. I remember coming to God with a rushed attitude. He had five minutes to tell me what He had to say, and then here was my list of requests. Time with God; check.
Continue reading “Time with God; Check.”

Marriage Challenge

“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is
because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful
at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves
than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more
loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us.”
Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage


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Marriage. It always seems like a walk in the park when you’re about to say the vows with your love for the rest of your life. You think, “Our love will carry us through any difficulty we might face.” But to be honest, that is a Hallmark phrase and life is not a Hallmark movie.

Continue reading “Marriage Challenge”

Spiritual Gift Exchange

Just like that Christmas sweater I got, I want to exchange my spiritual gift! Yes, I know the 1 Corinthians 12 analogy about the body. Sure, the toe is just as important as the hand and the eye cannot say to the feet “I don’t need you” and therefore all parts of the body are equal and important. So yes, I get that all the spiritual gifts are needed and are a vital part of the church.

But come on! Administration? Really? It’s like the most common of all the gifts. Sort of like having A+ blood. It’s good to donate it and sick people need it, but no one gets all that excited about it when you go into the blood donation center. Why couldn’t I get something a bit flashier? Continue reading “Spiritual Gift Exchange”

White Noise


WhiteNoise

Do you ever have those seasons of life where you wake up one day and realize that it has been far too long since you spent quality time with God? I just recently got out of one of those seasons. It was one of those moments where I had grown weary and frustrated not only with those around me, but with myself as well. And as I arrived at my last straw, feeling so out of place and lost as to who I really was, I realized that it had been a scarily long time since I had been in the presence of God. Once I came to this realization, I took time to abide in God’s presence and it was as though the sun had broken through the cloudiness of my thoughts and feelings. As though my life had found its center once more.

It was not the first, and unfortunately I can only assume that it will not be the last, time I go through one of those seasons. The reality is that we are messed up human beings who allow ourselves to get crowded, overwhelmed and distracted by far lesser things than the God we serve. Though we know we desperately need the presence of God to sustain us in our very lives it is often the first thing we spurn and set aside when life gets too “busy.” Continue reading “White Noise”