modes

i feel a little behind these days and not where i should be with Jesus. distant.

my least favorite place in the whole world. and i guess that is a taste of hell. dramatic but not.

i feel like when i am fully in abide-mode, everything i read or sit in with Him flows and seems connected and simple and sits in clarity. doesn’t it seem like scripture and answers to big questions make most sense when you are in abide-mode more consistently?

well.

i feel like i am in catch-up mode.

coming home and being in Boone has been harder than i thought. so wonderful, yet so hard. i am a preparer and a thinker, and didn’t expect the ways that it has been hard.

after getting dinner with one of my closests from Thailand, i had a meltdown. (i love you, meltdowns. i really do. release and freedom comes).

i hate not being there anymore. i hate not loving in that way. i hate that they are in the bars when i am waking up in the morning. i hate when some of my best friends here don’t know what i am talking about because they never read my updates. i hate when my heart is missed. i hate the way girls dress walking around the mall not realizing that they look exactly like so many precious girls we met at night. i HATE not being near my closests. that we are literally at the four corners of the country.

i hate feeling like i never went.

there are ten billion ways to mess up and do life the wrong way. process the wrong way (how in the hell do you actively process… someone tell me what that looks like. reflection? not enough. asking jesus? yeah that actually could be it…) but of course i hit every wrong way instead of the one right way… i keep falling short. needing grace.

and i feel not as clear. not as “on the right path”. needing to catch up. to do it right. like something is missing or off.

that is not truth. i know it. but it is where i am at. needing to return and remember and sit in His love and Love-Know Him. but being enough where i sit.

someone wise and hopeless once said: life is hard. and then you die.

i could see that.

but in the middle there is Full Life. and Settledness. and Love-Knowing. and Presence. and Rest and Adventure Himself.

that is Who i will wait for. that is Where i will return to and remember. that is What i will ask for, knock, seek and find.

when i feel out of control in an area of life (last week the line-up: health and finances), that is a clear indication of what i can surrender.

and i want this year to be an offering. waking up, receiving His grace gift every morning. choosing Him back. healing and then healing again and then re-healing. remembering who i am, what i am worth, where i am headed,

and then going forth.

life laid down, surrendered, offering.

and yet receiving.

because that is who He is.

 


in other news:

-my favorite human got married. i cried from beginning to end then tore up the dance floor

-i have sat through 4 out of 6 classes and so far SO good

-i moved in to my most favorite house and ADORE it and my beautiful roommates

-i am overwhelmed yet wanting more. He is Good.

paradox and paradigm

its 4 am. awake since 2. jet lag was an unexpected pain in the booty.

somehow i thought i would just completely adjust, in the same way that i miraculously did two months ago when i arrived in Southeast Asia.

i cannot believe i went to Thailand.

after 62 delirious travel hours, upon kissing the ground in America and bursting in to tears when the poor man checking my passport in customs said “welcome home,” i could not believe that i was gone for two months in Thailand.

and i cannot believe i am home. what i could not wait for for such a long time. here.

it is easy for me to believe that i can handle and control and take care of this next season of life. seemingly easy and fun and exciting events coming up.

but then why do i have zero energy and feel like i am recovering from a stomach bug? why am i not able to control when i can sleep? why are anticipated moments not what i had planned? why did i wake up in anxiety the first morning upon being home? when i was finally safe. finally where i dreamed of. where i couldn’t wait to come back to.

because i cannot even do easy, simple, fun, everyday mundane life alone.

every moment home calls for dependency. calls me to remember where i just came from. what i saw. what i felt. who i felt. what i learned. and relearned. and relearned again.

i am still and will forever be child-like dependent. needing to abide. waiting for mana.

i cannot wait to abide in celebration of the next season of life. soaking in right where i am. remembering and hoping; paradox hand in hand. i cannot wait to sit and wait for my mana portion of abundant life and joy and love… paradox: portion of abundance. because i cannot muster it up. it is freely given and i have it and i abide in Him who gives and Is and i cannot wait for more of what i have.

the Kingdom is paradox. balance. mystery.

written on the envelope of a collection of letters from my team of sisters who loved me well for two months straight, were the words “paradigm shifter.”

upon looking up the meaning behind my new favorite identity name, a paradigm shift is “ a change from one way of thinking to another. It’s a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change.”

in my becoming journey, my butterfly metamorphosis, i will keep being an agent of change. living in the paradox and the balance and unbalance and mystery. and bringing my heart to everyday.

to be still and know, and rise to be undaunted. to let myself be loved, and offer love. look back to remember, and look ahead to hope. to believe then see.

it goes against natural.

its my new nature.

supernatural, paradoxical, paradigm shifter.


i cannot say thank you enough for reading this blog, praying with and for me, entering in and riding the ups and downs, loving me so well… i cannot express how vital it was to me and how it allowed me to not only survive, but at so many points, thrive on this trip. i am never not on a “mission trip,” but every supporter and reader and prayer and warrior made this unreal special one happen. the kingdom came. in thousands of ways. thank you again and again and again.

i could not be more ecstatic (i use the term “tweaking”) to be home. first of all, i do not know if i have said it enough, but i LOVE you, America. i cried in whole foods… i cannot express how much i missed my weird eating habits. (my best friend signed a letter: “i love you more than you love grilled zucchini and coffee combined.” that is an impossibly large amount.)

i am so delighted in and safe and celebrated. i really have amazing events and happenings on the horizon that i cannot wait to step into: concerts with home best friends, moving in to my new house in Boone, accompanied by one of my favorite sisters, being a beach bum at my favorite place in the world for a week with my favorite people, CRU leadership retreat (the small group bible study prayer has been ANSWERED! thank you Jesus! may look different than imagined but still THANKFUL!), wedding of the most amazing humans i know, Hannah and Taylor, and then school! (then a big birthday…. i LOVE birthdays!)

please continue to cover me. journeying with me. i have a strong feeling i love whoever is reading this :)

thank you again.

to becoming Love,

ash.


 

 

 

(citation: Kuhn, Thomas, S., “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, Second Edition, Enlarged, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970(1962)

guest speaker: Kirby Olson

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My favorite person in the whole world is the best story teller and eloquent writer, and depicts the end of our journey in the most amazing way.

 

an excerpt from Kirby Olson’s blog:

 

It’s been an incredible journey through Thailand over the past couple months, and honestly a bit surreal that it’s coming to a close. There’s been days that felt like minutes, and moments that completely stopped the hands of time. There were nights that I’ve never felt more alive, and nights that I’ve wished to be far from the cold darkness that engulfed these streets. At times, I believed I had never had a more life-giving community, and other times I felt like my heart had been lost in the masses, completely misunderstood. There was moments of pure joy and hysterical laughter, and moments of terrifying spiritual warfare. We were a group of 20 American girls, walking through our own crap, but coming together as the body of Christ to illuminate the darkness in Chiang Mai… and I truly believe we did that.

Looking back, I see a shift in our ministry about half way through our time here. From the beginning, the bar moms, girls, men and pimps could immediately tell we were different. We walked into empty bars, ordered a couple sprites, and asked a few girls to play pool with us. They would ask us what we were doing in Chiang Mai and we would tell them we were here on vacation and were teaching English at a local college. Then we would come back with small talk questions, “what’s your name?” “where are you from?” “how long have you been here?” in hopes to build some sort of foundation for a new friendship. Many of these conversations did turn into friendships! and my friends spent much of their two months investing in specific girls, teaching them English, taking them to lunch, singing karaoke, exploring waterfalls and ultimately sharing their own stories with them.In the beginning, my heart was hard toward the men we found there… the sex industry is supply and demand at it’s finest… these men were the very ones who were fueling the industry. If there wasn’t a demand, maybe these girls would be in school. But whatever animosity once stood between me and those men, soon became a burning desire for them to be set free from their own captivity.We no longer only looked for quiet bars with a few lonely girls… instead we entered booming bars with loud men and rampant personality. At this point, the bar moms, the men and our new friends knew us. The girls would see us walk in, and immediately get up from the men they were entertaining to greet us with open arms. The bar moms would ask if we wanted a couple sprites, and the men told us we were “brave” for coming to such a place. This time, we no longer told them about our vacation or the schools we were teaching at… we told them about our heart for these girls, and our desire to see them set free from those bars. We told them that those girls were our friends, and we loved them so we came to visit them. We looked at the men as if they were something special as well… as if they were worth knowing, because they are. Because for whatever reason, they believed the lie that they could escape their sorrow and misery back home and find fulfillment from the alcohol and women in the red light district. But when they met us, they encountered something different. We no longer had a passive mindset toward these men, rather I was desperate to tell them who they could be.Each night our team split into two groups. Nine of us would hit the streets, while the other 11 of us would stay back and intercede. We prayed for opportunities to speak the name of Jesus, we asked for men to get up and walk out of the bars, we prayed for vision and peace to overwhelm our teammates so they could have meaningful conversations without fear of anything seen or unseen. We prayed that the men would notice we were different and approach us to find out why…. I’ll never forget the night I met my friend Peter from Ireland. He was around my dad’s age… and I immediately noticed him when we walked in. I was at the pool table playing a game with my friends Da and Gale and suddenly Peter walks past me toward the bathroom. We made eye contact and I smiled, and then kept playing pool with my friends. A few minutes later, Peter comes walking out the bathroom and this time he stops to talk to me. First, he asked me where I was from and then proceeded to compliment how beautiful my expression was… he said he had never seen anything like it. He told me that I wasn’t just pretty…. but radiant. I didn’t feel
uncomfortable or violated, because it honestly seemed pure – like he was truly in awe, and this was the opportunity I had been praying for… He said, “you must be blessed by Buddha or the gods or something…” but I told him it was Jesus. He looked at me for a couple seconds in silence, and then added a few more compliments and told me he was going back to his friends at the bar, but that it was nice to meet me and that he hopes I enjoy my time in Thailand…. I’m not sure what happened in his mind for those few seconds of silence, and perhaps I will never see Peter again… but he encountered something different that night, and that is why I came to Thailand.

I came for those men just as much as I came for those women. My heart aches for my girls in there, because I’ve seen their suffering and I’ve heard their pleas for help. They don’t want to be there. They don’t want to strip down to barely nothing, and expose themselves for the pleasure of a man. There’s no safety, or purity or dignity in that. They dream of a man who will pursue them and love them and cultivate them, just the same way I do. They want to learn English so they can get a good job, and support their families. They want to believe that tomorrow will be better…. but first they need us to stand up on their behalf. They need Godly men to set the example… these women are being manipulated and abused because we are standing by and indulging in our own desires.

Men, the porn industry fuels the supply and demand… when you think that a couple clicks aren’t going to hurt anyone, there are women who are forced to engage against their will, and instead of rescuing them, we are tightening their chains. This is a desperate call for you to wake up. Millions of young women are exploited day in and day out and we need men, along with women, to rise up and call for justice. Get educated on the subject. Ask questions. Find someone to hold you accountable, because the truth is that she’s worth so much more than a half-hearted habit. That same habit that requires nothing of you, requires every fiber of her being and every ounce of her heart. She is a human being. She was perfectly created for a purpose. She was made in God’s image and she was bought with the blood of Jesus. She’s a daughter of the Most High King… and she’s waiting for us to go get her; to do something about this.

Rise up. She’s worth more. 

He leads me Home

Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows.
James 1:17

Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?
John 11:40

today we pack up the bus to leave ChiangMai. our home for two months in the rear-view mirror of our double-decker bus, shuttling us to debrief at the beach for two more days united, until we return and scatter across the land of the Free.

i have been pondering a concept for the past few months with Jesus, a question that could change everything: when i see something that thrills my heart, what is coincidence and just a happening of this world, and when can i claim a happening to be something from Jesus. a gift. a kiss for my heart. something that i can see and believe, “that is from my Beloved” and then truly see again.

i do not want to over-spiritualize everything and slap the name of Jesus on just anything… but then when can i claim that it is really Him loving me and delighting over me and celebrating my life?

this morning i listened to John Lynch’s wisdom, believing that Big-God would say these words over me:

“Ash, I watch how hard you try to draw near to me, even when I allow things in your life that utterly exasperate you… you believe that I am fully for you and care more about you than you do. it hurts Me when you’re hurting, and I am delighted when your heart is thrilled. I am fully in control of your life. nothing passes through My Hands to touch you that I do not allow. there is no coincidence happening in your life. EVERY good thing that gets to you, that catches your eye, that ravishes your heart, it is from Me. I take whatever your race has brought on and I redeem, refashion, and rework it. all for beauty beyond what you could imagine. for your good and My Glory. I decide what is allowed by what it will accomplish, but mostly I stand in the arena when you cannot stand, and I defend and protect and do not lecture nor mock. all I do is love you. I will do this until you’re Home. did I not say to you, that if you trust Me, you will see My Glory.”

i believe now that if it is good, it is Him. nothing good can come from this world unless its from Him. choosing to have eyes that see it is Him loving me all along.

He has given me countless gifts this summer. every where i turn is a kiss from Him. something awaiting me to step in to and believe and see. it has been the fullest most amazing summer. i stand in awe that i actually lived this season. words fail the surreal feeling and how it is coming to an amazing end.

my team has been given questions to prepare us for the entering-back-in-season. questions preparing us for the worst scenarios. but i am expecting nothing but good. and good does not mean easy. i am so excited to come home. not because of anything wrong that has happened here. but because i cannot wait to be delighted in. i cannot wait to get back to my incredible friends and Boone and family and school and events coming up. i cannot wait to never turn the heart of missions light switch off. i know that hard moments will come. i already have panic attacks when i think about leaving my truly forever best friends. but with new eyes, operating more in my New Nature and New Heart, i cannot wait to celebrate the upcoming season and everything it holds, all the while never forgetting where i have just come from.

this balance is always so hard for me to find in my finite mind and limited strength, but then i remember. Jesus is always the perfect middle balance point. Love is who i am becoming and in the mean time i am covered by amazing grace.

until He leads me Home.

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to becoming Love,

ash

Love-Knowing

My love responded and said to me,
“Arise, my dearest, my beauty,
 and come away with me.
 Don’t you see? The winter is done.
 The rains and clouds have come and gone.
 The flowers are unfolding in the fields;
 the birds are warming up their songs,
 The cooing of the turtledove
 is heard throughout the land.
 The fig trees are bringing forth their first fruit,
 and the vines are in blossom, filling the air with their fragrance. So arise my dearest, my beauty,
 and come away with me.”
-Song of Solomon 2:10-13 (VOICE)

if it was me in those bars, of course Jesus would have sent hundreds of people from across the world to come get me… that’s who He is.

and He did. He himself walked into hell. walked into my personal darkness. and He walks into the red light district when we do. in the disguise of missionary girls. He has walked into the despair and agony and pain. so that i, we, his sweet Thai girls could walk out.

four girls walked out.

last night, after being in the bars, our team reconvened to share the tales of the evening. we almost missed the astonishing report that four girls are leaving the bars to pursue other jobs. because it was not in the way that we expected – them experiencing and accepting Jesus, then choosing to leave and find a job – we almost missed it. but upon realizing, we could not stop saying thank You. thank You for sending hundreds of your beloveds to go after the one. and the other one. and all the other ones. thank You for who You are. there were literally fireworks in the sky last night. we watched them from the roof. worshipping while all of Heaven sounded in celebration.

the winter is done. storms are over. flowers, pre-fruit, fruit itself is being seen. its a season of singing and celebration. His four sweet girls are entering in to so much more freedom.

it would be ignorant to say that every nightmare will cease. that the pull of the known will continually beckon. pray for Love and Life to fill the void. that they will not return to bondage because it is known and agonizingly comfortable.

i am not ready to leave here. another week is left to be lived, but i am finally feeling at home and cannot imagine not being with these girls. both my friends from America that are more like new sisters, as well as my friends and sisters when i step into the bars. i have been wishing there was more time for ministry, especially after this news. bar ministry was started later into this trip than expected. it is hard. there have been a few heavy and confusing and discouraging nights. it is easy to feel defeated and that there is not enough time to make an impact or leave our mark.

but i have an all new perspective: Jesus does not leave when we do. He will continue this work. if it were me in those bars, He would continue to move Heaven and earth to rescue me.

and that is my motivation. Him in me. His love for me is the motive for my love for those girls. He loves them so the same, and yet so uniquely specially different. i want to live my life in that constant knowing. Love-Knowing. experiencing my Good Father. not just knowing about Him. but Love-Knowing. to arise in Love-Knowing and come away with Him every day. as His dearest. His beauty.

thank You. You did send hundreds of your beloveds throughout my life to rescue me. i see it now. now all i want to do is experience You. Love-Know You. sit at Your feet. drink from the cup in your hand. lay back against You and breathe. feel your heart beat. and then move. dance wildly and ferociously free where others cannot help but notice. move and go out and live Love-Knowing.

move to be His one of a hundred for another dearest beauty to come away and Love-Know.

[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him.

-Ephesians 1:17 (AMP)

 

 

scattered happenings

“God’s presence is not the same as the feeling of God’s presence and He may be doing most for us when we think He is doing least.”
-C.S. Lewis

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” — John Piper

“So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.” John 13:34

“worth spending time with and getting to know” was what i heard for girls in the bars as well as myself.

i will love them to the extent that i understand Love.

i had two very different outings recently.

last week, with two girls on my team, it was my first night of relational bar ministry where we go out desiring to meet girls with the hopes of hanging out and getting to know down the road. i didn’t really talk to Jesus about it before… it felt more like a test run (still trying to look for the wisdom in that one). i felt incredibly directionless and useless. not hopeless, but i didn’t know where to go or where to begin. i would begin talking to a very intoxicated girl whose focus was everywhere but on me, and the second a man approached, i lost her. that happened a few times to the point that we decided we were just going to play pool in Love-Light. occupy a table. shine Presence. we stepped in to a bar with around 15 men…. a huge amount for a tiny bar. i remember praying, “Jesus, clear them out” and began the game. by the time we were finished, the bar was completely empty and all five bar-girls were still there. i didn’t even notice until someone told me once we got back. i was that self-focused.

i keep picking up the same question that is so subtly dropped in a pretty package by an enemy: believing that others who are feeling the pain and brokenness of this area have an advantage, what is my driving force to be here if not feeling the emotional drive?
wait….
it’s not MY.
its His. its Him. His Spirit love force at work within me. not seen or felt. Love himself is not a feeling. but i believe it. and then sometimes i see it.

my comparison flesh response is to be passionate and to “feel” the brokenness. but what if instead, God in His grace has allowed me to know brokenness and go join in what He is doing. with the end goal not being feeling despair but getting to join alongside Him in the hope and Life that He is bringing.

in a time of huge revivals and where senses are worshipped both in and out of the Church, i am ready to stop trying to get things to happen in self-power that looks like God. i am ready to pursue Intimacy, not comparing to other people’s stories and happenings. culture tells me to feel, You tell me to be still.

continually remembering to take my eyes off of myself and the waves and all that needs to be done, and reflect only on Jesus. He thinks about me enough for the both of us. He is the changer. my way only leads to pride, self-hatred, self-awareness and exhaustion. His Way leads to Life and Healing. i choose the Way.

my friend and i laugh at the picture of “the grass is always greener on the other side”, but we see Jesus standing in one yard of green lushness, and then two types of people running back and forth in a yard of dead patchy grass. yep. I’m a runner.

but the next night i went out was a marvelously different encounter. not that there is a formula, but in a little more wisdom, i spent parts of my day asking Jesus for guidance, wisdom, words, etc. i was grouped with my best friends, and we walked the streets in prayer, preparing. i walked past a bar playing One Direction… enough confirmation to return at night if you ask me. i love you, One Direction. but then on a little more focused note, i heard the word “prism” and was ready to keep it to myself, wanting to see before i believed. but coming back into the safety of home, i shared with Jess and Kirby. Jess’s immediate thought: “oh, thats Katy Perry’s album!” and that became the guidance. believing first, hoping to see later.

after being prayed over, we set out. but this time the heading out was different and noted. i was so comfortable with Jess and Kirbs that it felt like we were just being girls, hanging out and having fun and walking in Light like always (well, striving for always). it was so fun and exciting to believe that Good was going before us, and Light was behind, and Presence was surrounding.

long story long, we met and played games with, and are Facebook friends with, and have plans to hangout with about 6 girls, all because we walked into bars playing One Direction and Katy Perry and thats just stupid awesome. “Seriousness isn’t a fruit of the Spirit, but JOY is!” says my friends from Rend-Collective. how fun to see Jesus through my fave songs. that probably means He jams to “Best Song Ever” too. right.

please pray for next steps and next encounters with our new friends. again, much more is going on that i feel like i am only scratching the surface with…

many men are wondering who we are and are asking questions and seeing Light and don’t know what to do with it… pray pray pray over that.

here is my actual journaled prayer list:
-Jesus, i need your love first. i can only love because you first loved me. keep coming for me Jesus, with your Healing Love-Light. i know that everything flows from this.
-continue Phil. 1:6, uncovering and wooing my new nature, leading to full playful Life with you and Kingdom fruit.
-wisdom
-my sleep+rest, health+energy+strength
-team unity (awesome answers to this prayer… keep covering)
-protection above safety.
-that my entire tuition will be covered // scholarships
-for $500 to pay for a parking spot for the year….
-bible study wisdom

i am praying huge, believing it is coming, and rejoicing + celebrating every little victory gift along the way.

also learning to continue to abide in Love. while He convinces my heart of His wild ferocious love that i am still dipping my toes in to experiencing, the more and more that i do experience, i become more clear sighted to see others. more softhearted. more thirsty for More. more beautiful and playful in the process. a heart naturally obeying and pleasing and delightful. its my new self. i love my new self. i will always celebrate that self and this Life.

my spirits of control want to figure out how to let Him love me. how to do this life right. how to rest right. how to live more alive. stop. He will give me rest.

i want to keep resting in the urgency. living every day like i am on the most fun and relaxing retreat, while at the exact time living in a constant mission trip. resting in the urgency.

i so appreciate the encouraging emails and comments and notifications… they encourage my heart and spirit and keep me going.

in other news:
-we played mafia as a team and i get so into it i almost lost friendships
-i saw Begin Again again… it was that good.
-Kirby led us in the dream campaign… check out Go International for the coolest campaigns ever
-i finished the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy.. woah.

our new friend who i will call A. flowers have been a reoccurring theme recently, symbolizing the season before fruit is produced... but also just bringing reviving beauty into death darkness.

our new friend who i will call A. flowers have been a reoccurring theme recently, symbolizing the season before fruit is produced… but also just bringing reviving beauty into death darkness.

from left to right: sassiest little guy who sells us flowers every night... he cannot go to bed until he sells them all. we buy every single rose. next is our favorite bar mom... she is going to ROAR one day. kirby. some babe. jess. our two sweet beautiful new friends.

from left to right: sassiest little guy who sells us flowers every night… he cannot go to bed until he sells them all. we buy every single rose. next is our favorite bar mom… she is going to ROAR one day. kirby. some babe. jess. our two sweet beautiful new friends.

to becoming Love,

ash

 

 

 

LIFE in Freedom Fullness

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i am currently writing this post in a bed with a white down comforter, air conditioning blowing on me, a warm indoor shower in sight, and wifi.

heavenly.

we are being treated to a weekend get-away lake trip for mid-debrief.

actually more than mid-way. with three weeks left to live here in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we are headed in to crunch time. so before things got even more stacked up, its time for an update!

this post is harder to write. there are so many tangible events to remember and write about, and there are also subtle changes and movements in my heart that i am overwhelmed with what to offer and how to portray it… perhaps a part two or coffee in the states when i return is in order. but for now, my best account of happenings and heart:

so the last update was preceding my journey into the Karen village of Thailand. i do not know if i will be able to portray how incredible that time was through a post that won’t make you nod off after scrolling the page for 30 minutes.

but what i can say is that God loves living in the mountains. His presence was surely there.

the drive up in and of itself was life-giving. refreshing. full. pulling away and unplugging from the matrix for a while. escaping the darkness and heaviness of the city. i felt like i could again breathe. physically and spiritually. excitement returned that i didn’t know left. excitement for life. MY LIFE! full abundant outflowing glorifying joy-filled Life. the immensity of it. the Artists fingerprints all over it. memories and flashbacks of amazing seasons or moments from being little, all the way up to my past year. replaying and replaying in my mind until all i could do was thank Him. for the wonder and amazement that came over my own life. i never want to come down from that feeling.

from then on i felt like my heart felt a new softness. i don’t know when it turned so hard. i was aware of it. my negative thoughts that would come out as venting. or my judgments of the systems and people around me. toxic. life-killing. but the life around me was beginning to allow my hardness to release. more and more let go, without me forcing it to happen. just little joys and realizations and happenings. amazing. because it was only half of our usual 20 girl group, the authenticity and honesty levels that i have been praying for and desiring were able to grow. questions were asked in wonder and authenticity, outside of the system and planned meeting times, that got our hearts racing a little faster for Jesus and His plan.

when we weren’t having sweet time with Jesus or the team, we were spending time with the kids of the safe house that we were staying at. teaching them one-on-one english. it was amazing. who knew i could teach?! well, then we went to the elementary school to teach… thats when i remembered why i knew i wouldn’t teach. :) it was so difficult. the language barrier was terribly discouraging. but we showed up. shined Love-Light the best we knew how. even if at one point i told a little kid to get off of me, knowing they wouldn’t understand in english. i prayed for forgiveness already.

we also taught in the high schools. lets just say many girls on our team are getting a hearty handful of Facebook friend requests. in the form of suiters and friends. it was sweet time. i loved and thrived teaching english to these kids. truly loved it. didn’t want the time to end.

and then the rice fields.

hilariously terrible. fish that i believe were leaches. allergic reactions and rashes. frogs. bugs and wasps. it was awful. but truly an experience. i will never take rice for granted ever again. thank you, rice field workers.

more about the village itself: it is one of four villages on a mountain about 4 hours away from the city of Chiang Mai. it was predominantly and surprisingly christian. and it was felt. life was in the eyes of the people. peace and settledness and good. a complete and drastic difference compared to the city around us typically.

Thailand is known as the land of smiles. i would call it the land of masks. masks covering an emptiness. attempted to be filled through the senses. movie theaters are dramatically louder. everywhere you look someone is trying to get you to see and buy something. prostitutes to be felt and experienced when something so much deeper cries out.

but here the cry was no more. it was met.

i loved living so simply. it was an amazing trip.

then returned to some hard news. a door fully closed. hoping that it is the final closure longed for for so long. fighting memories and interpretations. but proverbs ain’t lying when it says unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick. i have tried and tried to heal for 6 months, and at the end of some days disappointment is a major understatement. but it goes on to say that a sudden good break can turn your life around. i am hoping this is the last knife-in-my-heart feeling. that this is the sudden good break. Jesus is holding. picking me up always. healing the same wound a million different ways and over and over again.

the past few days have only gone up from there. i put on some lipstick and felt like a bombshell with the rest of my abundant life ahead of me. we packed up and headed to our hotel. celebrated the 4th of July aka the best day of the year with mexican fajitas and flower crowns. we set off paper lanterns from a bridge and crashed an exclusive dance party. made smores and took a regularly pressured shower. days of Abundance. no other way to describe them.

i am seeing how the more alive i choose to live, choosing to show up and be present and soft and love in every moment, those are the moments that Abundance and Fullness and Presence awaits. and then in return, He is glorified, and i am alive. His economy is backwards and beautiful.

so now we are stepping in to full blown bar ministry. going in to the bars about 5 nights a week. because of many events in June, this area of our ministry was almost nonexistent. please pray for every part of this mission, as well as my heart towards stepping back in to routine and systems and plans that i don’t tend to thrive in.

i am trusting that Jesus is up to good behind the scenes. feelings that we have been very ineffective in ministry and not doing much at all are very much trying to get a foothold. but Big God promises that the prayers of the righteous are effective and so i choose to believe that He is on the move.

i feel like i am only scratching the surface of what has truly been at work and going on. there is so so much that i need prayer for and that is being done to my heart and around our team and throughout Chiang Mai and beyond. i ask that you just say, “Jesus, you know. and i pray in your will for Ashley and partner with the work that you’re up to already all around and within her.”

more prayers: bible study leading… i feel like Jesus is exciting my heart for the idea of leading a bible study next year. i don’t know if that would be through CRU, but if so, it goes against a rule of only having one leadership position. Kirby is teaching me to pray big and this is something i want. for me and the Kingdom.

also for my team: there are some lingering false spirits on our team. i am so over religious spirits of strife and doing and working. finding the balance on our own is impossible. but the balance is always found in Jesus. sitting at His feet. the same way a train can’t go where the tracks are laid out, same with our life with prayer and life giving words and speak good. so i will start talking about whats new and alive and ready… so to gently call out greatness, to woo new hearts and natures, to model authenticity and free Life. prayers for that please.

in other news:
-I will never take a washer and drier for granted again or any appliance for that matter or a shower or a toilet. squatty potties and bucket showers are hard.

-my skin here hates me.

-sparklers are my new favorite hobby.

-Begin Again is a must see. i wake up with the soundtrack playing in my head every morning and don’t hate it one bit.

-i cannot wait to come home and am so excited for the rest of my life. and i can’t not be here and be amazed that i am here and so so so happy.

-this is an all over the place long post. you’re a trooper for making it to the bottom.

 

 

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our safe house babies. we taught them english and played so many games. i could go the rest of my life without hearing “little sally walker” again.

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setting off paper lanterns from the iron bridge. best. day. ever. my dream of being in Disney’s Tangled has been fulfilled.

one of two rooms in our sweet village house. our other room was our princess mosquito net tents!

one of two rooms in our sweet village house. our other room was our princess mosquito net tents!

this is a squatty potty and bucket shower. i dont want to talk about it anymore.

this is a squatty potty and bucket shower. i dont want to talk about it anymore.

we made rice grow

we made rice grow

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i LOVE my gerlies. they love life and love jesus and love me.

i LOVE my gerlies. they love life and love jesus and love me.

i love Thailand and i LOVE america!!

i love Thailand and i LOVE america!!

 

 

to becoming Love,

ash.