guest speaker: Kirby Olson

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.

 

 

so long world

just kidding. I need a little comic relief after this week.

but really. no communication for a few days because of where i am headed…

first, an update:

its been a roller coaster.

beginning with a lot of hard feelings and darkness surfacing; much was bottled up within our team. i believe we are in a much better place going forward. but i was very very angry. very frustrated. with how things were handled and false spirits coming against our team. i had been specifically praying against 7 distinct spirits: performance, jealousy, comparison, competition, strife, dishonesty/inauthenticity, and judgments… and sure enough they ALL waltzed right in and took root. thankfully light was shone. darkness was exposed. but i was dealing with a lot of anger after a team meeting monday. then exhaustion. i wrote about in my last post, ironically, how valuable authenticity is. how vital for the Kingdom. for community. finally wisdom was found after talking to my amazing dad, and my heart was heard. and a game plan for moving forward was forged. please pray for my heart and my team: gentleness. honesty. authenticity. vulnerability. and against those 7 unwelcome spirits. i am now quick to turn to judgments and bitterness and put up walls. there is no time or room for that and i am not at all letting the enemy near my heart in those ways.

and then my body turned on me. i had the stomach flu but am recovering well. claiming that today is my last day feeling weak and woozy. i don’t know if Jesus allowed a day of sickness as a day to remove me from the chaos of the week, and to allow me a day of sleep… who knows. but that took me out for a day and a half. i missed my first night of relational bar ministry and that was hard for my heart. prayers that no sickness come against our team the days and weeks ahead. please continue to pray protection over my body and physical health.

being sick and being exhausted from anger and issues lead to the first time wanting to come home. missing comfort. missing the land of the free. the known. the familiar. i was tired and felt very alone. to the point that i questioned my influence here. my ministry. my mission. again with the whirlwinds. still not feeling settled in. or in a routine. or effective.

so i asked Jesus. my Home. my Comforter. to please love me where I am.

and i slept. i got rest. my friends came to me and helped and loved and brought gluten-free toast and bagels and my favorite smoothies with no syrup and ginger ale and gatorade. Jesus in them loves me well.

so far Jesus has been showing me and mostly reminding me of much (why is it that i always want to know more, but actually need to be reminded…. #humbling):
– i worship change. growth. learning and knowledge. i don’t need to. simple.
– let Jesus love me first. then i love Him. then i love others. and that will heal me. the Kingdom order is not like i thought it was.
– believe first, then see.
– pray from my new nature, for His glory.
– praying for a heart of emotion from a place of enough-ness
– how to lead in gentle authenticity and cultivate that environment
– choosing to not be lazy in my freedom.
– asking for help/learning/remembering the best way to pray in certain situations here.

and now for the looking ahead:

my team is heading in to a part of our ministry called X-Life. please read more about what we will be doing and more ways to pray here. but long story short: so many girls are sold into the bars directly from their parents living in very poor villages in the mountains of Thailand. manipulated and ignorant to the horrors, families sell their daughters in hopes of being provided for down the road. our team is going to live in these villages for about a week. we bring the Light-Love of Jesus to the root of the issue. please please read more on the website.

i am going to be using a squatty potty and a bucket shower. i believe this will be a good week for me. i am daunted by discomfort. pray that my heart will break. please do not pray for comfort. i have all the Comfort i could possibly need. maybe pray for a reminder though ;)

in other news:
-america. i miss it. there is nothing like it. just want everyone to kiss the ground real quick reading this at home.
-i still am so happy here. not ready to leave. there is so much more here. i feel it.
-i played with tigers.
-don’t get your hair colored on a mission trip
-i went to a butterfly garden

thank you to all praying and emailing me. it means more than you know. i love you.

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shopping at the night market!

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my adora besties. alex, kirby, and jess.

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drinking a coconut at the butterfly gardens! it made me gag.

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butterfly :)

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selfies

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T(iger)hailand (thanks for that clever little thang, Abbles).

to becoming Love,

ash

radiant authenticity

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“You are radiant authenticity, Ashley.”

the most encouraging edifying text message of Truth i have gotten in a long time. thank you Rebecca Burnett.

i am really struggling and fighting for honesty and authenticity. its a good fight. i am learning and trying to model and live uncovered. false teaching and religious spirits are a b*****. sorry. i call em as i see em.

two amazing things that have been life giving to my heart…

i went to my leader when we were told that the over 21 age limit to go out to the bars was lifted, and that i should ask Jesus if it was time for me to enter in. i told her about my experience that i wrote about in healing in the Light. that i believed that it was time, but that i wasn’t feeling an overwhelming yes. she helped me see this:

1.    the enemy wants me to doubt my glory. my glory is to shine Truth. to live authentic. to fight for Wisdom. i love seeing Jesus in learning and studying… and with that Truth comes responsibility to share it. but satan keeps whispering. in tones that feel so valid: what are you really doing here. you don’t even feel for these girls. how can you really love them. you are selfish. you don’t really know love.

yes i do. i know and am learning the Heart of God. Agape. selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. and i shine Him. love is not a feeling. i fight with truth. my only offense is the Word of God. the Truth Himself.

2.    i am not driven by emotion. i never have been. i believe that God needs to do some healing in parts of my heart, over and over again. but i also am wired as a thinker. i love that about myself. i am enough in that. i am equipped with everything i need. His Presence and His Fullness says that it is finished and i am Fullness and Presence equipped. that being said. i will pray for the Heart of Jesus. moved my compassion. weeping at death and injustice. feeling the weight and heaviness. Man of sorrows. but. i pray from a place of enoughness. not from a place of lack. need. incomplete. guilt. inadequate. but asking for empathy and compassion and emotion as a bonus to further His Kingdom work.

i love how well i am doing here. i am not homesick, but so looking forward to coming home and starting a new season and moving in to my new house with my best friends. going to bald head island. going to a wedding. starting school. and my birthday. everything august holds. but i am also daunted with how little time i have here, and how much i want Jesus to do, in me, and around me.

right now my biggest fear is leaving here unchanged.

good thing the Author of time is wild about me.

i just wish it was immediate change. i get so caught up in everything that needs to be done in me that i forget to just look at Him, love and enjoy my walk and dance with Him, and love others, and He will do the work in me.

i think i write that in every post. someone staple this to my forehead.

ministry update:

i hear prostitutes calling out to men as i shower on our roof.

this is everywhere.

i wrote earlier about how my team and i take turns prayer walking: talking to Jesus making a huge square around Chiang Mai. through the bars and the red light district.
last night i did my first prayer walk at night.

i cannot express the incomparable difference. not overwhelmed, but over stimulated. the loudest music. the brightest lights. hundreds of girls. men in their fifties and sixties… i felt like i was in a movie or a dream. it was so surreal. everyone trying to draw you in. hold senses and attention. offer what they know is life. so empty of Life. still processing it all.

please pray with me: Jesus. you are such a good friend. you are always communicating with me. through others offering encouragement, through amazing gifts here, from sermons and churchy things. thank you. you love me. i love you. please give me more and more wisdom and discernment. for what you are doing here and how i can partner with you. every day. i miss it so often. please give me eyes and ears to see and hear what you have for me, for my own heart and to give away. please cloak me in your protection. i give you my safety. i am spiriutally hidden in you. you are Light, and in you there is no darkness at all. i am in you and you are in me. please show me where darkness is. where i can bring your light in your way and your timing. please unify my team in your love. i dont know the deeper understanding of what is going on, but you are sovereign, and i trust you. reveal in your time. i pray over my sleep and rest and strength. i feel like there is more, so Spirit, intercede on my behalf. you know my heart. i love you. amen.

also. i don’t know how to say this gently; there is darkness that has come to our team. if you want details on how to pray, please email me… it is serious, and prayers of deliverance are NEEDED. please pray for wisdom and discernment in how to handle this. i want it gone. i am not thinking of this lightly. please please pray for protection over the rest of my time and myself; our sleep and rest, our health, our ministry, our lives. thank you. 

in other news:

-my coffee and treat fund is running low. :( #lifeofanaddict #lifeofafoodie

-I’m leading worship here. for my team and at a new church. my favorite thing in the world.

-mango sticky rice is my second favorite food

-I’m really annoyed with false spirits… fighting it in myself by remembering Jesus is my friend, and talking to Him like it. simple. not really simple. but should be. #civilwar.

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i don’t think “strainghtning” is a word. but close.

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“exclusive ladies and gentlemen”… so what is being excluded? dogs? oh ok that makes sense.

“open dairy” thai’s mix up l’s and r’s. love this.

i love laughing.

to becoming Love,

ash.