Friday, July 30, 2010


VBS was successful.

Camp is over (also very successful).

Ethics is over (with the exception of the final).

Home study is...nope...not done yet.

My existence is disheveled, but not destroyed.

Tired doesn't begin to describe it...

Wake me in the fall,
*Ashley Lou*

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Restore: To Put Back into It's Former State

Lately, I have been more and more intrigued and drawn to antique furniture..or even just OLD furniture that, by all normal standards, wouldn't qualify as an "antique". There is character in these pieces. There are stories in them. Stories of pain. Stories of love, Stories of a life well-lived. Much like our human bodies age and change, so do these furniture pieces. They don't quite look the same at the end of life as they did at the beginning. I don't expect that, I will look the same at the end of my life, and I hope that my face? tells the story of a life well-lived.

But--back to the furniture--so many times we try to "restore" old furniture back to it's former beauty. If you look at the steps required in "restoring" furniture, it's painstakingly detailed. But, honestly? It's all a facade. Because you simply CAN'T turn back the hands of time. You can't untell it's story. You can unlive it's life. And that's okay, with all it's dings and scratches. With all it's worn-down exterior. Was a story. Was a life.

And yet, restoration, is a beautiful thing. Restoring something gives it an opportunity to live another life. To tell another story. And while that doesn't necessarily remove the old stories, the new ones may have more love and less hurt. More beauty and less pain. And the truth is? Some furniture won't ever be restored. Sometimes, it's just not important enough to restore. But sometimes? It is. And in those times, restoration is the opportunity to start a new story. Restoration in our own relationships give us that chance, too.

There have been a few times in my life where I was immensely hurt. No one intended to hurt me, I believe. It just happens sometimes. In one particular case, I remember feeling cast aside. I felt like I no longer held any value. I no longer felt any love. And it hurt. And it angered me. And, finally, as it always does (when not handled the right way), it made me bitter. Oh-so-bitter. I couldn't look at these people. I couldn't talk about these people. I didn't even want to remember these people. I was hurt. And I was letting the enemy bind me in that hurt. But, there came a day when I realized that....If I were being honest? I owed these people a lot. I might even have owed them my very life. And the hurt of that one incident didn't discount all the others. They were just ALL part of the story. OUR story.

But, you see? You can't simply just put a new coat of paint on relationships to restore them, the way you do furniture...And there are a lot of things that can get in the way of restoration (like pride, time, listening to the wrong voices, and an unwillingness to mend the relationship). But, for every obstacle keeping us from restoration, there's a step on the ladder that leads us to it (like forgiveness FIRST, humility, patience, open hearts, and trust in God)

So, I forgave. Daily. Every time I wanted to cry. Every time I felt alone. Every time I felt angry again. I know, I know...some of you out there are probably much better at forgiveness than I am. You can probably do it once and be done with it...but for me? It was definitely a process.

Then I practiced a little humility. I was not so perfect myself...and I am always thankful when people don't require me to gravel at their feet. So I knew, that when the time came for restoration. When the opportunity presented itself..I wanted to exude the very forgiveness I had already extended with love and grace. I wanted to make sure no one felt worse after speaking to me than they did before. I wanted to be humble. Because I? Am no saint.

Then I tried my hand at patience. You might remember from HERE how well I do with patience. But I HAD to trust , that God didn't leave things broken..and that, while He was working things in me, He was also working things in the other people involved. Patience is really hard. Giving up is a lot easier. That's why so many people just give up on relationships instead of being patient for restoration.... Because practicing true patience that something will eventually come to pass? sometimes feels impossible.

And finally, I trusted God. I trusted Him to walk me through the journey. I trusted Him to give me the things to speak that would bring life and not death to situations. I trusted Him to be the restorer of relationships.

Because, much like an old piece of can't untell a story....but, when there's restoration? You have the chance to tell a new one. Maybe even a better one.

I know that we all can look at our lives and see relationships that need restoration. That need new stories. Hurts that we have held onto SO long, we have truly convinced ourselves it doesn't matter to us anymore...but, deep down? it does. So, I encourage you, to examine your own heart's position. To start removing the calluses that tell you you are in the right (even if you ARE). To start letting God do what He's wanted to do all along. Much like furniture can't restore itself without the Restorer's hand, you won't truly be able to restore relationships in your life with Him leading you. And He? Really wants to lead you. He wants your relationships to have another story. He desires to see healing and restoration in your life. He LOVES you. You know, when you look at it like that, it's obvious that we can learn a lot from Him....

"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that."   Eph. 5:1-2 (Msg.)

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together!" Psalm 133:1

"Now, all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation."  2 Cor. 5:18

And, finally,

"Beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Col. 3:14 (ASB)

Because without love? forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration? Are impossible to accomplish.

Til I learn to love the way HE loves,
*Ashley Lou*

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Leave a message at the sound of the beep...

I have so many people that I need to catch up with..and SO many things to catch up on, too!

But I need ya'll to bear with me for a couple of weeks!

My current schedule is such:
Monday night: Class
Tuesday-Thursday night: Vacation Bible School
Friday: Traveling out-of-town for work
Saturday: Pack for camp
Sunday: Head to camp
Monday-Thursday: camp
Friday: Major meetings day and TAHEC elections (I am
            currently Pres. of this organization)
Saturday: Start homework for first class in Strategic HR

Anyways, now that you have the play-by-play, I hope your sympathy and *ahem* patience at least have increased some....I will catch everyone up..Once I rest =)

*I promise*

Til I learn to boycott July,
*Ashley Lou*

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The irony of patience

Irony: ˈī(-ə)r-nē\  : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result

This? Is the story of my life. The truth is...that I don't "feel" very patient. In fact, I "feel" very frustrated. I "feel" very overwhelmed. And I "feel" very helpless. We had an expectation that there were variables we had no control over as we began this amazing pursuit of adoption. As we sat in the conference room both being interviewed by..and interviewing the agency program director, we were told that. When dealing with another country's government? There are just unknowns. We accepted that. And we expected that.

What we didn't expect? Was delay after delay. before our stuff even GOT to the other country's government. In fact? Our information...hasn't even gotten to OUR country's government. These delays? Are all in the homestudy.

We waited 4 weeks after approval to proceed before we even got a CALL about scheduling the homestudy.

We've now waited 7 weeks (7/20/10) waiting on an approved homestudy.

And, we? Don't even have a draft finished. My frustrations and this sense of overwhelmed hopelessness? Are beyond anything I have ever felt before. My heart aches. My mind is frustrated. And yet? There is nothing I can do...But, wait.

It's all very ironic.

And how does this relate to patience? Well, you see, patience isn't even necessary until you aren't getting what you expected. Until you're waiting for what you want.

Patience:  \ˈpā-shən(t)s\ : bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint;
manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain;
not hasty or impetuous;
steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.

Patience? Is the art of handling adversity with a steadfast and righteous heart. The art of NOT getting angry, bitter, and self-righteous. Patience? Is pretty dang important.

And I am pretty bad at it...But, alas, I am also? Getting LOTS of good practice.

One guy put it this way:

"Irony is the hard crust on the bread of adversity. Irony can try both our faith and our patience. Irony can be a particularly bitter form of such chastening because it involves disturbing incongruity. It involves outcomes in violation of our expectations. We see the best laid plans laid waste... Amid life’s varied ironies, you and I may begin to wonder, did not God notice this torturous turn of events? And if He noticed, why did He permit it? Am I not valued? Irony may involve not only unexpected suffering but also undeserved suffering. We feel we deserved better, and yet we fared worse. We had other plans, even commendable plans. Did they not count?... In coping with irony, as in all things, we have an Exemplary Teacher in Jesus. Dramatic irony assaulted Jesus’ divinity almost constantly"

So, we may not understand why these unfair things happen...and I am well-aware that my unfair things are far better than others'....but in all cases of "unfairness"? 

We simply stand steadfast. 

We manifest forbearance. 

And we love. Always. I think there is probably a reason why the chapter on Love? Started with patience. (1 Corinthians 13)

I may not understand why my best-laid plans to have Baby Smith here before next summer seem thwarted. I may never know why, it seems like the people who should carry this urgency with us, don't?

But I know that God loves his children.

I am confident that He has set our feet on this path.

And I am certain that He only paints beautiful life-murals..and in the end? Mine will be beautiful, too!

Til I have patience (or can at least pretend better),

*Ashley Lou*

Monday, July 12, 2010

Answers to Questions

Catchy title, no? Can't help but wonder:

"What questions?" and even more importantly "What answers?"

Last week, I posted about some struggles I had been having being posted as a "Question of the week" on a blog I follow! I was thrilled at the prospect of getting a wealth of wisdom from those who had gone before me!

And, boy oh boy...They did NOT disappoint. No.They did not.

I encourage EVERYONE to take some time and read this week's Answers to Tuesday Topic Question because the hearts of these mommas will not leave you wishing for more!

So, if you love me at all....

Or, if you simply have a few questions of your own about adoption....

Or, you don't know much about it whatsoever...

Or, if like me, you would give your right arm for some Buttered Popcorn flavored Jelly Belly candies right now... (I'm left-handed, by the way)

Then take a few minutes and read through some of these Mommas thoughts on addressing a pretty touchy topic! Soak it all in, because whether you are adopting, or you know someone who is..These are good tips for all of us to remember.

I will leave you with this little nugget that especially touched my heart:

"“We really feel that this is the path that God has us on, to build our family, and that even biological children are not our “own”…all children are God’s and we are just His steward’s of them for the time we have them… so no child is truly mine…!, Since God is the one who gives us the capacity to love anyone….He is able to work within us the same love for an adopted child as He is for a biological child!"
Well ,there you have it...
Til the sun shines again and the rain stops destroying my attempts at straight hair,
*Ashley Lou*

Friday, July 9, 2010

Can I Just Say...

Can I just say that--as Mondays go-- I am more excited than I think I have EVER been about Monday?

Is there an approved homestudy coming in? No.

Am I going to be able to splurge form this ridiculously restrictive diet and eat ice cream again? Unfortunately No.

Am I FINALLY getting my kitchen and dining room tiled? Double-Unfortunately No.



I AM going to get a wealth of wisdom that I only hope I can carry with me for the next lifetime.

You see, I have been dealing with a heart issue lately, and finally, FINALLY, I broke down and asked for help. Asked for wisdom from those who have gone before me...And my question was posted to a really LARGE community of adoptive parents! And MONDAY?

Well, Monday, the responses-- you know, from all those wise AP's who have gone before me?--will be posted! You can read my question (about adoption) HERE! And, don't you worry, I will post the responses when they come out Monday!!

Until then, remember this:

"Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come."
-Jeffrey R. Holland

I'm still expecting mine,

*Ashley Lou*

Disclaimer: I just want to make sure ya'll know (especially if you read my posted question) that I have NEVER doubted anyone's heart or intentions...I just know how it makes me feel and that I really have no idea how to address it! But for those of you with questions about our adoption journey?? Bring 'em on! =)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The World Needs To Know...

I decided today that the world needed to hear some of the things I have heard in my tenure as a youth pastor...Teenagers are rotten...I mean, not YOURS....other peoples probably know one......

1. "I bet David Crowder was a real hippie back in his day"
(David Crowder is in his early 30's, ya'll)

2. "Why can't we take our cell phones to church camp?!"
              "Because Jesus couldn't take HIS cell phone to church camp."
    "Yeaahh....but Jesus? Didn't have facebook!"

3.  "Are you the same age as Jesus was when he was preaching?"
               "No, Jesus was just a few years older than me."
     "But...then he died. Right?"

(Not of natural causes, though, you rotten punk!)

4.  "We think you should start thinking about kids, Ash, because your biological clock is probably ticking by now."
(Why don't you go ahead and run me over, while your at it)

5.  "Why can't we do XYZ again this summer?!?!"
               "Because last year you didn't have "ANY" fun at all"
     "I NNEEEVVEERR said that!"
               "Really? Let's go ask your mother?"
     "Well, maybe I said it THEENN..But I don't mean it NOW-ah!"
6.  "What does W.W.J.D. mean and why do you always say it? It's annoying."

(No, seriously, go ahead and run me over..Oh wait? You can't drive)

Things I no longer allow:
Prayers that go "Thank you Jesus for this day and this time together. Amen"
Answers including: "Pray", "Read my Bible", and "Go to church"

Teens are professional cop-outs. They give answers like that ALL. THE. TIME. Even when it doesn't which I respond? 

"What would Jesus do, ya'll?"

The End.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I can't make up my mind!

I have some birthday money left and decided to grab one of these awesome t-shirts from Adoption Bug but I can ONLY get one *right now*...

Problem is?

I love them both equally....So I am putting it up for a vote both here and on fbook! 

The one that wins? Is the one I will get! 

Thanks for voting and saving the few precious brain cells I have left!! ;-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Start your engines...

This morning?

This FRIDAY morning?

This best-day-of-the-week morning?

I found a spider, who had created  a home/web in the space between the arms of my hair straightener....

That is NOT cool.

My choices?

1. Slam the sides of the straightener together and live forever with the knowledge that every time I straighten my hair, I am spreading spider guts everywhere.

2. Move the straightener away from said-spider with a heavy shoe handy and risk it running for refuge into the piles of dirty clothes all over the bathroom floor er...having to clean its guts up....well, someday, anyways.

3. Crawl back into bed and pretend the whole thing was a terrible. terrible. dream.

See you all tomorrow.