Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Revelation (attempt #536)


DH and I having fun at a Razorback Game-2009

Ssshhh...It's 4:30pm on Sunday afternoon and I am holed away in the office trying to write my position paper on Women in Leadership....instead, my mind *of course* is wandering to my weekend in AR. DH and I had a great time visiting with friends, family, and shopping (okay, I probably enjoyed that more than he did) and we are always thankful for the people God has placed in our lives, but it still surprised me, though, at a family gathering this weekend, when some cousins commented on how "fun and exciting" DH's and my life seems....Wait...our life seems fun?? I mean, we stay busy for sure..but all I could picture as they were complimenting us was the 12 loads of laundry, 3 loads of dishes and a litter box I had to get clean before we could even LEAVE for AR.....Yay!! fun!!

But as I sit here pondering the many events of the homework, I realize that having a fun and exciting life is EXACTLY what God wants!! I can't think of a single time that God ushered his warriors into heaven simply because of what a miserable time they were having of it here on earth! fact it was those who had found their "heaven on earth" and were living so much in the presence of God that it simply made more sense for them to be in Heaven that he finally ushered up. I am not a parent yet, but I look around me and objectively evaluate situations I see... Nowhere do I see loving Godly parents who want their children to be fact, it's quite the opposite. And God is the same way! He looks down on his children and says, "Look at how much fun my daughter is having", "Look at them playing" and he dances over us with joy. So why are we, instead, wallowing in our self-pity, crying out over the injustices in our lives, and living in such misery...instead of enjoying the life we have, thanking God for the abundance of love and peace and freedom we have, and loving our lives?? See, we (DH and I) don't have a lot of money, we DEFINITELY don't have any prestige or respect, we don't have any big toys, and yet we STILL have fun. We live our lives, giving thanks to God for all He has done and enjoying our time here together. And I think we should ALL be doing that. Start recognizing the things God IS doing for you instead of always noticing what you don't have, or what you "think" everyone else is getting in life that you're not...God LOVES you! And your story isn't finished yet, so give God the glory while it's still being written, because otherwise, you may look back on your life and shamefully say "Father, I am so sorry I didn't see you there. I am so sorry I didn't lean on you ALWAYS"...I don't know about the rest of you, but I would RATHER NOT have to say that!

We have too much to live for to stay miserable, and nasty all the time. Be thankful for the people around, be thankful for the life you have, and be thankful for a God who isn't done writing your story yet! I know I am!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trouble with blogger

I would really love to post my "Thanksgiving Revelation" post but for some reason blogger is wacko keeps putting half my post on the sidebar?!?! 

Any ideas what I can do?!?!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am thankful for laughter, until milk comes out of my nose...

I wasn't gonna do fact I truly avoid those cliche things that people do...including Farmville on Facebook...ahem, you all know who you are. That said, I just really wanted to take inventory and remind myself of all the amazing things I have to be thankful for. I would never be able to capture EVERYTHING, so let's just call this the "10 things Ashley is thankful for right now". These are in no such order, mainly because I am thinking as I write....

1. My amazing husband (I know, I know...totally cliche..but for real). We have been married a little over 4 years and I honestly love him more today than I did then. He is supportive, loving, thoughtful, and strong. He is constantly amazing me with the awesome things he does as worship leader (including restoring our prayer room complete with a prayer wall) and I am truly blessed to go through life with him.

2. My dog, Norman. I really love that dog. I can be in the worst of ways; tired, angry, stressed and Norman just loves completely. I wish I loved that way. I can be so mean to him, beating him (only when he does something wrong), and screaming at him...and the next time I come by, his tail is just wagging and he acts like I am the greatest person in the world.

3. My job. A few of you may know, I struggled in the last year and a half with loving what I do....but God is majorly faithful because around this time last year, I got my current position as a Corporate Education Liaison with St. Gregory's University and I have been SOOOO happy! I really love what I do. I am making a difference in people's lives, the team I work with is amazing, and the schedule isn't bad either! Truly something to be thankful for!

4. Free Grad School. Well almost free and I certainly pay with time and investment...but really, it's a chance of a lifetime to get my Masters with very little out of pocket costs!

5. Facebook. I have re-connected with so many friends in the past few years over facebook and I have to admit, I have a good time stalking all of your pictures on there too =)

6. Friends with healthy habits. I don't usually follow their advice but it's inspirational nonetheless =)

7. Festivals. Probably the best part of living in the Tulsa metro is all the festivals. Peach, BBQ, Tabbouleh, Chili, Wine, Art, and the list goes on and on!! We are kind of junkies, but it's just  a great way to spend a Saturday and I am thankful for all the festivals I get to go to! =)

8.  Front-loading, large-capacity washers and dryers. Actually I don't have this yet, but I imagine I WOULD be thankful if I had one...It feels that way looking in =)

9.  Friendships. Old and new. I am thankful for people who are courageous, strong, wise, forgiving, and who totally believe that God can do anything. That's important even if you don't struggle with it...Surrounding yourself with people who love and have faith strengthens your own love and faith!

10. Jesus. Even if he never did anything else for me, it's already enough to be worth my whole life and then some! I am so thankful for my salvation. his renewing mercies, and never ending grace. God is always good!

So there it is, the top 10 things I am thankful for right now (bottle caps ALMOST made the list). Of course I am always thankful for my family, my health, and my stability. Let this be a reminder for everyone, don't wait until a holiday to take stock of what you have to be thankful for in life...It may surprise you, that you have more to be thankful for than you ever even realized!

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Re-Post for a GOOD Cause!

This is a post from an adoptive family I follow. They have adopted several older "waiting" children from Ethiopia, and with that comes a lot of adjustments that you rarely face with babies. Most of these children remember their homeland, and even members of their family. What a great opportunity, if you can, to be a part of helping a little girl trust in God's ability to make the impossible, possible! If you want to donate or buy raffle tickets for the beautiful quilt, just follow this link to

The Desire of Honeybee's Heart

(dimensions: 69" x 55")

Honeybee has a dream. She wants to travel to Ethiopia to visit her grandmother and help bring one of her special friends home from AHOPE. She has been talking about this for the past few weeks, and despite the fact that we don't have the means to purchase a plane ticket for her, she believes that God does. Her faith and hope are so great and I want to believe with her.

Last week I spoke with a friend who just brought two daughters home from AHOPE. These two girls arrived at AHOPE shortly after Honeybee did and they grew up together. When I told their mother about Honeybee's desire to travel to Ethiopia with my friend, Signe, she immediately offered to send me a quilt her sister designed and made, and suggested I raffle it off on my blog. So here I am...a little hesitant, but Honeybee is full of faith that this quilt will help her make her way to Ethiopia.

I had hoped to travel with Honeybee and Signe, but after discussing it with Dimples' and Eby's therapist, I have come to the sad realization that I cannot go. For now, Deborah feels that I should not be gone for more than three days at a time. This is very hard for me, but one of my best friends, Michele, is going to go in my place and be Honeybee's special companion.

You can win this beautiful quilt and help fulfill Honeybee's dream:

~Entering is easy! Just make a donation via the "Chip-In" button on the top right of my blog. You are automatically entered for the drawing. I will track your entries via the email address provided at the time of your donation.

~Every $5 donation earns one entry. Every $20 earns 5 entries!

~The winner will be randomly drawn on December 18, 2009 and announced here.

~The Winner must contact me within 10 days and provide a mailing address. I will ship the quilt after Christmas, unless the winner requests that it be shipped on Dec. 19th.

~If you blog, FaceBook, or Twitter, about this event, leave me a comment at any time during the event and I will give you an extra entry.

~Please leave a comment or email me if you have any questions or problems donating.

~This is a simple raffle to support my daughter in her desire to travel to Ethiopia. If we do not raise enough for her to go, the money will be donated to From HIV to Home. To be ultra-careful, I reserve the right to make any changes necessary to this raffle!

~Today, November 19, is Early Bird Extra Entry Day!! To thank you for your help in kicking this event off, I am doubling entries for anyone who donates today!

Below is a photo showing some detail of the quilt.


The Day (s) I Met Jesus

 I remember asking the Lord into my heart at age 7. I didn't have any great epiphany or anything significant like that..I have just always been a logical person..It made sense to me that if my two options were Heaven, where angels sang and we danced, feasted, and worshiped God all day and night for eternity, or--well, the "Other" just seemed like a no-brainier. My parents made a big deal about it, even getting our pastor (who was a friend) come to the house to walk me through the sinner's prayer (I actually probably did have a laundry list of sins by that time...I am the oldest child after all) 

But I? Just wanted to go to sleep that night knowing that if a fire came and burned everything up (I also had a severe fear of fire at that age- Thank you Back Draft) that I would get to go to the place with all the gold, and the singing, and the happiness...instead of more fire.... 

Logical, right? 
I am just being honest with you guys...That truly is what it boiled down to for me =)

So, life goes on, and I progressively become more and more of a perfectionist as it does, and due to that ailment, never REALLY got into trouble. I went to church (a Methodist Church in B-ville--Shout out to all my MCJammers out there), even went through confirmation and was an acolyte on just wasn't personal. I was a perfectionist, and simply out of my desire to be perfect...I knew what to do. Say your prayers every night (Typically the Lord's Prayer- John Wesley would have been proud); Go to church twice a week (Three times if there was a special Sunday evening service); NEVER miss Communion Sunday (5th Sunday special); and do everything the Bible said (I specifically remember "no cussing" and "say no to drugs" being preached in Sunday school)..but looking back I have to say that I was a "good girl" for all the wrong reasons. God was a good concept, I liked the idea of this eternal being who would answer my prayers to make  &$%*#!  my boyfriend, help me pass the test I barely studied for (If we are being completely honest, I still did this even after my second conversion...I think it's just human nature to bargain with God) and keep me happy and well-liked at school. But anything deeper? Nah...not yet anyways.

The year was 1996. I was in 8th grade (Sorry is what it is). That's the first time I really remember having an epiphany. I had spent the night with my BFF Courtney, and her church was in a revival, with none other than Ap. Jack Richey (the Ap. part wasn't identified yet, but the guy was the same). I actually remember how it felt to walk into the church. I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know if it was different than my other "church", if the people were crazy (yep), or anything besides Courtney telling me they spoke in tongues right before we got there. I didn't know what that was, so it was kind of a non-issue for me. So, as I walked in the door, I felt the presence of God so strong that I literally stopped in my tracks, right there in the foyer/hallway.  I looked around...nobody else had just been hit in the face by a freight fact, nobody else seemed to realize what was in the room at all...I mean, didn't they know?!?! This was HUGE...I had to tell someone...

"Courtney, God is actually HERE, I mean, like, I can really feel him!" ...

"Of course God is here. Where else would he be?"...

"You mean, this is NORMAL?"....

Yeah, Ashley. This is normal..."  

Well that was it. I was sold. I jumped in (literally, another story though) and never looked back....and one thing about me that has never changed. I give 150% all the time....I had a real reason to live "good", now...I had had an actual encounter with God, and I was going to do everything I could to have that experience all the time. I was a Jesus junkie, from that moment on. And that wasn't the last time I encountered him either. He continued to show himself to me in new (and unusual) ways throughout my high school career. I went to college...and God was, thankfully, still there (whew... would have been bad news if I had had to stay at GFCC for the rest of my life just to hang around God)...and through all the different seasons in my walk with him, after each new thing I learn about him, I realize I still know nothing about him, and I still long to know "nothing" more and more every day. I WANT to be known as a lunatic.... 

So when people ask me when I was saved I am torn between two dates. The day I was saved(you remember, the one that kept me out of Hell)- Or the day I was Soul-ed out (Never looking back, zealously seeking the Lord, --first one in the river, even if I have to knock you down to get there--throw back to the good ol' Brownsville days). At this point, it really doesn't matter. All that matters is that I go after him as hard TODAY as I did on that day in 1996. 

That day, that church...truly changed my life. Who knows, maybe I wouldn't be using my powers for good without them =) Thanks Court for being courageous enough to invite me to a totally crazy church, forsaking all "coolness" to go after God. We can be crazy, together! 

For now, my motto (and someday hopefully my legacy) is to be one who runs her race with the convictions of Paul and the heart of David.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To love God is to love a child

Some of you may know that DH and I are in the beginning steps of an international adoption. There is a long story that brought us to the decision to adopt internationally and BEFORE even attempting biological children. But lately, while answering the questions in their applications I begin to have the fears that, I am sure, many adoptive parents have. I have read discussion threads by APs for over two years, even following their blogs...I have addressed all the heritage issues (actually our agency of choice has done that for me), all the cost issues, found all the necessary parenting classes (especially the transracial ones) but I still wonder... What if 15 years from now, my child wishes he/she was adopted by a brown-skinned family (In Africa, this is what they call themselves).You see, for's an issue.. in fact, I think it's naive for any prospective APs  to say it's a "non-issue"..but not in the negative way. Because we are so thankful that our family might be a glimpse of the beautiful canvas God created...We are honored to raise God's amazing creations, and we would never suggest that their beauty: black, white, or brown is something to be ignored completely...I just worry that we won't meet their needs (even as much as we are trying to) about their beautiful ethnicities, and someday have a child who wishes their life had been different. Heartbreaking.
Don't worry, no one is embracing my fears. I have an amazing friend who told me that I was pretty much crazy, that this child would know that they had been loved and that we had listened to God, that He had made him/her for our family...but the fears are still there. It's crazy. When you know you are listening to God, there is a peace...but sometime our soul (mind, will, emotions) don't line up to our spirit.

Don't worry, we aren't looking to have a baby in arm for a WHILE now. Its just a LooOOoong process.... so we have a lot of time to think. Thank you for listening to me vent. I suppose if I can't vent on my own blog, where can I? =)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Question for all...

Last night, during an "impromptu" meeting, I was addressing some concerns and observations. In my conclusions about what was happening in life and what my place would be...I decided that "I would rather not". Those are interesting and difficult words for me to say. Trust me, I walk NOT in false humility. I truly have been humbled...and it wasn't fun. I have felt I earned and, even deserved things in life (and typically got them) and I have had important things washed away like sand castles during high tide. I have felt rejected, lost, hurting, and soaking wet at times in the middle of storms and I have carefully tried to remember those feelings and remain humble. I know, my personality is 'matter of fact', and I rarely put up with foolishness for very long, but don't make the mistake of wrongly associating those traits with pride or self-elevation...These things I tread lightly around...I say all this to say that in the end of the meeting, my conclusion was no longer simply "I'd rather not" but became, instead, "I will, but I'd rather not"... See, there are a lot of things I would do for the people I care about...I think about giving organs to loved ones, even giving my life to protect my family...I sometimes give my lunch to the guy standing at the stoplight, I would give money, clothes, shelter to friends...all out of love for them..and I think MOST of us would say the same thing, that doesn't separate me from the masses...but in this case, there was only ONE reason why I agreed. I was compelled by the One that has given his life for me, and in return, I have given back the life I owe, to serve him.

Weeks ago, God began impressing on my heart 2 Cor. 5:14-15 " For the love of Christ compels us, because we are convinced of this, that One died for all, and therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again." 
I love that verse, my spirit jumps every time I read it...but I didn't really understand the "Why" of it all...Sometimes, as a minister, I feel led to research scriptures, to dig to the depths of a thought or verse..but in this case..I just kept reading it, over and over... Until last night.

Then, I needed to know the depths of Paul's words because I quickly recognized that they were no longer Paul's words alone, but now they were my words also. I was compelled by my love for his love for do something that, in all honesty, I would be fine without. You see, the idea is that Christ's love so completely controlled and dominated Paul's life that he had NO CHOICE but to preach. He wasn't forced in the negative sense of the word, by way of a gun to his head or a threat looming over...He had just come to the careful conclusion, by thorough examination and analysis, that Christ HAD died for all...and that by reaping the benefits of having him on that cross, representative of our sinful nature, all had died with him... So, to Paul (and me) there is no other option but to live fully, 100% for Christ...even to the point of doing things I would rather NOT do, to serve Him...No one here on earth can force, sway, or influence my decisions anywhere remotely close to the way Christ can, simply through his love for me...How could I say no??? How can ANY of us say him....???

I have been reading some amazing commentaries on these few verses and may make a series of posts digging deeper into what Paul was REALLY saying here...but, do we even need that? Isn't this enough for today, or any day for that matter? I mean, what else do you need to know to start living your life for God? Because to live your life for "yourself" as "the master of your own destiny" is to truly serve sin....Freedom (in the manner we choose to use it) is an illusion. Your life has already been purchased. Your only choice now, is to serve the one who loves you, or to serve the one who wants to destroy you. One has already given you all His love...isn't that compelling enough?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I like roller coasters, but I wouldn't want to live on one...

DH and I at the Hogs Homecoming Game

I should be ashamed of my blogger self. I really have not fallen into a deep crevice in the wilderness somewhere outside of civilization...In fact, there have been so many happenings in my life in the past few weeks that I am not even sure where to start....or where that might lead. I have decided, however, through the course of these past weeks...that I like roller coasters...but I don't want to live on one...See DH and I live a pretty even-keel life...Where drama ensues, we typically withdraw. We just don't like it. Emotions and feelings are part of who we are as humans. We all have them...we all express them... But it's that extra dramatic flair that makes us know, the point when you're on a roller coaster and it looks as though you are going to slam right into something, only to drop enough to barely avoid catastrophe?? Yah...that.  But, hence, these human bodies we have here on earth do tend to make it virtually impossible to live one's life without some roller coaster aspects...I just hope they are as temporary as the ones we ride....or as painless as the kiddie rides (wouldn't that be nice?)

Synopsis of the past two weeks: I have finished another class (Graduate Research, to be exact), said goodbye to a friend too soon and watched my grandma take too long, it seemed....I have changed goals significantly at work (God is my strength and peace), enjoyed birthday parties/football games/concerts, and struggled with physical health (God is my healer)... And, I believe that through the course of all these emotional trips, I have had to deal with emotions that I typically would ignore (just through lack of energy to suppress them)..loneliness, hurt, rejection, worry... It's times like this that I just want to say....No thank you, I will not be riding today. Unfortunately...THAT we don't get a choice instead, I hang on for dear life and try to move past the emotions as quickly as I get know, like being on a roller coaster.

Until next time, whenever that might be....I praise my God for who he is, regardless of how I feel.

The Lord is my strength and my shield, in him my heart trusts and I am helped.
My heart exults with praise and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalms 28:7