freedom day

4th of July is one of my absolute favorites for many reasons. Summer, warmth, community, America, bbqs, lakes and boats, fireworks! But I am reminded every year that all of the celebrations rest on the foundation of a very core truth: we are free. And this freedom that we experience in our country even serves as a reminder of an even deeper reality: my forever freedom is bought with a price, and I am FREE.

We can tend to have a very immature sense of freedom when we define it as the ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want. I believe that this mentality has allowed us a lot of hurt and chaos in our country and culture.

True freedom is freedom FROM something, FOR something. We are free from death, from the law, from works, from self, from the enemy, from the world, from sin. But we are not set free for the sake of sitting in that freedom or doing whatever we want.

That is not kingdom.

We are set free for abundant life. To love recklessly. To grow into our true self. To converse intimately with Trinity. To abide in perfect union. To advance Kingdom on earth.

Anything less than this is not real freedom it is bondage. It leads to death.

And something that Jesus is showing me recently is that kingdom freedom very often requires a new dependency or responsibility. That I thought that I was my most free when I was fresh out of college, single, working 3 part time jobs, able to travel and leave whenever I well pleased. But that was not actually truest freedom. I’m experiencing the most freedom putting down roots. Getting married. Committing to things. Giving up “freedom” for Kingdom Freedom. It has made every difference. You see, in the kingdom, many things are backwards. Worldly systems are turned on their head. I believe the way freedom works is one of them. Jesus says, “risk this. Surrender. Trust me. Commit to this. And watch what I will do.” And you do, and somehow you gain. Somehow you become fuller. Somehow you are more free.

So this morning I am so thankful that we are a free nation. I am so thankful for the men and women who gave their lives and fought to purchase our life. There is always sacrifice and selflessness in true freedom. Thank you Jesus for being the ultimate. I want to give my life for your dear ones as well.

And somehow then I will find it, more free, along the way.

Happy freedom day, everyone.

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more joy than

I find more JOY in following what you tell me to do than in chasing after all the wealth of the world.

Psalm 119:14

meditating on that scripture… I so want to hear Trinity’s voice even more clearly… to KNOW what they are inviting me to do. I want to be so fully surrendered, not protecting my life, totally ready for whatever whenever. I believe and feel that I am and could be, I just want to KNOW that voice. know that it is Him clear as day. He is inviting me to see one of the biggest issues hindering my hearing – because He is always talking – is my attention span. listening to too much noise, other voices, distractions all come in to play… but my ability to ferociously push them aside to make the space. to sit in the silence as they vie. to wait in the nothing. patiently. until the still small voice cuts through the emptiness…

let there be Light.

amen

For all of God’s promises find their “yes” of fulfillment in him. And as his “yes” and our “amen” ascend to God, we bring him glory!

Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident.

2 Corinthians 1:20 TPT and MSG

amen. so be it. it is such a beautiful word.

its proper place is where one person confirms the words of another, and expresses a wish for the issue of his vows or predictions.

from the root word “to believe”, and “to support, confirm, be faithful, nourish as does a pillar or a foster mother and father. to be founded, firm and stable – of a place where a nail is driven in.

i can say amen because i believe in the one who is stable, the one with nails driven in his body.

Jesus introduces his teaching by saying amen, or “truly i say to you” in other words, you can lean on this as truth, you can build upon this, this will support you.”

i say amen, and i say that i agree with God. that i believe it to be true and to become reality. i desire and hope it to be so.

 

trust & enjoy

And so, dear brothers and sisters, you are now made holy, and each of you is invited to the feast of your heavenly calling. So fasten your thoughts fully onto Jesus, whom we embrace as our Apostle and King-Priest.

Hebrews 3:1 (The Passion Translation)

i so so so so easily get weighed down with focusing on my broken, my not enoughness, my unfinished. and it’s heavy and i feel stuck and less than and behind. but this morning as i ask for freedom and lightness i hear Jesus say:

it comes through trust and enjoying. trust i am doing it in you, that i’ll take you back to the unfinished broken unhealed in MY time, not by you staying in that place making it happen and trying to find it all on your own. trust your new nature, who i say you are. live out of that place. it’s true despite what you feel. and when you start trusting and enjoying me and yourself, you are free to trust and enjoy others. you’ve learned the hard way from the critical route of others. trust that i have them and i am telling you your story, not theirs. enjoy where they are. it is good. enjoy where you are. it’s great. and that’s the only place you can find me. let me have and handle your broken and unfinished. that’s it’s only rightful place, in my arms. right now is a time to enjoy and try out your true self. trying it out makes it feel more true. i have so much in store for you, but only when you trust and enjoy, instead of heavy analytical fixing. lay it down and go out and dance and run and eat and drink and enjoy and trust and fully live.

i love you, kid.

to becoming love,

ashley

ravenous

lately Jesus has been stirring up more questions and grey and mystery than any one thing i am learning. i think in part because i always read 12 books at a time and dont give myself the space to dive deep into one area of new. but He is bringing me back to a place i have been before; ambiguity and the question of “what is the balance?”

what is the balance between rest, enjoyment, soul care, and battle, hard work, giving my life away? what is the balance between getting away and healthy time vs. isolation?

for one thing, this reveals my curious tendency to figure out, perfect, get it right. Jesus, show me the balance of grace and growth.

right now the balance that i am struggling to understand the most is between being made for MORE and the desire of that more in every area and being content in all circumstances, at peace with what i have, present.

i have been created ravenous: always desiring the next thing. always wanting more. hoping the next adventure, season, thing, situation, person will be the thing that leads to my contentment. nothing is enough. never satisfied. “yeah that was great, but these are the ways it could be better, i would improve on this this and this.” always wanting myself to grow.

in many ways, i love this about myself and think it is a gift. we were made for more. our hearts were created for endless and abounding beauty, life, relationship, depth, perfection, glory… i dont want to settle for anything less. i always want to be growing into that space of more.

but i have impossibly high standards.

so judgment and discontentment are forever at my doorstep, just waiting for me to choose cynicism instead of hope. discouragement instead of encouragement. words and thoughts of despair instead of speaking life and keeping my hoping heart alive.

Jesus, show me the narrow way.

right now i cant think of anything more glorious or more toxic to my relationships.

on one hand my discernment is through the roof and i have eyes to see the not yet, the potential, the broken, the glory, the dreams, the wounds within a human. if i choose grace, and to see the good, and bless the right now, words and streams of life flow from heaven through me to them. but unless i stand in that unlearned foreign grace and patience and love and blessing the journey, i want to fix and change and control or isolate, go on to the next, do me.

Jesus, redeem my way. show me how to love well.

how do i keep hope alive and always dream big and never want to settle, always be excited for what is coming, always desire growth and maturity and the more that i was made for… while also blessing and appreciating where i am right now? how do i want more while simultaneously being completely settled in the present, blessing and giving grace to the unfinished and the not yet and the journey?

Jesus, be the balance, teach me how to walk well. show me the balance.

i am made for more, yet i am made for right here and right now.

this ravenous mess doesnt know.

to becoming Love,

ashley

life updates:

– anders and i are MARRIED and living in atlanta, ga. it has been great and so hard not being close to my family, my people. hard opening myself to new people and places. i love him, i love being married to him, and it is showing me a lot a lot.

– i am still working part-time with Zoweh and now entering into the real estate arena. i dont know why other than i know that is what Jesus said is the next right thing. i am completely overwhelmed and if i suddenly get hundreds of bottles of wine in the mail i would never ever hate that.

– Jesus and i are meeting with a group of girls every thursday morning to talk about Him. this has been amazing even in the few weeks we have met because i have to re-teach my own heart and remind myself that i have never outgrown the “basics” (i hated that sentence but dont know what else to say about that).

– i want a dog.

thats all for now.

ashley

eulogy

i am sitting in my white chair in my little room at home, my parents’ house, with my peony candle, my coffee, my sister in the next room, my parents downstairs… i could never be safer. i have been here for a while. i needed this for a while. and now this season is ending. this beautiful soul-refreshing body-healing time at home, a year after graduation, is coming to an end with a move and a marriage.

my picture of this season has been of a ship in the harbor. before coming into port, i felt like i was tossed in the waves, taking beatings, trying to stay afloat and continue on, but i needed care and rest and pause and tending to and reconstruction. this year has been beauty. it has been healing and learning. it has been rest and refuge. it has been ceasing. it has been grieving and loss. walking alongside and being walked with.

but i know a ship wasnt meant to stay in the harbor.

i know it is time. the next right step is a big one and there is so much promise and beauty and Life ahead.

and yet to only focus on what is to come, is to miss putting to death, celebrating, and saying goodbye to so much so dear. this chapter. this version of me.

this ending is a new beginning, but it’s also an ending. i’m sad and daunted. yes, hopeful and excited too. but right now i am feeling an ending. giving it the weight it deserves, because so often i barrel through on to the next thing and then wonder where this random heaviness and sadness and tired and melancholy came from… because i didn’t feel what i needed to, back then, and right now. i usually hang on and say “this isn’t really over, it won’t be that different, nothing will really change, i can always go back”. that is just denial. and i probably still have a bit of that even though i am aware of it and trying to go through it all the right way, just to cushion the blow. just to make the change and transformation easier. just to make it a little less scary.

i am hopeful for all things good in this next season. there is joy and excitement. but these heart-words arent about that. this is about recognizing a loss.

after every season ending in the past, i would panic and want to just stop time, feeling like my life and self was slipping away, growing up too fast, leaving behind this tender little girl who needed to be taken care of, who was becoming smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror as i pedalled-to-the-metal, on to the next season. when really all i wanted was to be her. full of longing. awake to need and hunger and limitations. not controlling or numbing desire… shauna niequist says that she feels like her true self are russian dolls, every season you add another layer, but that core little girl true you is the center, cared for and protected. and when i told anders all of this he said, “you are not leaving her behind. she is in the backseat with you. you are going together. this is all part of you.”

so there is a leaving behind and a taking with, simultaneously. and i grieve it and celebrate it.

grieving is a carving out gift, so that i can be tender and filled with new life that i will need.

just because something feels like death doesn’t mean it’s not right. because this is hard for me, i am tempted to stay where i am and not change. just because it is a loss, does not mean that it is not right. sometimes it’s exactly right. not comfortable or safe or easy, but right and good. sometimes you’re entirely unprepared and ill-equipped. and sometimes that’s what makes it absolutely perfect. there are days that i cannot wait two more seconds for the next chapter, and there are other days that i try my hardest to soak up every sight, smell, room, date with my dad, errand with my mom, snuggle with my abs, and it all breaks my heart in two.

but the true death would be to never take the next right step. to never change. to never risk. i know there is good and strength and life and maturity in the leaving, not to mention wonder and joy and beauty.

for now, i bless this season. i bless this version of me. i bless this harbor. it has been so good and right and needed and love. so orchestrated by The One Who Sees me and knows what i need. i bless the future too. i care for the vulnerable little me, helping her into the boat, gently and slowly pushing off the dock,

into more.

invade

You are the air i breathe. You are all around me. Awaking to the morning and declaring “God is here.” 

Why do you feel light years away. My heart is at rest in the quiet, in our intimate place, i love-know you as much as i can. I trust our connection, i know we have a direct line. But it feels like i talk to the sky. It feels like i talk to myself. Maybe i am talking to you in me? Maybe i am talking to you in creation, the magnitude of your space. But you feel far and removed. Not distant like you were once close, and moved away. Just forever far.

Perhaps i cant shake the teachings “God is up in heaven, in the sky, watching everything, knowing everything.” 

I hear from you. I know you speak to me. I know you show me yourself. Like a gift from a far-away friend, or a letter, or a voicemail. Received but separate.

I long to know you in the present space. I long to sense your presence right in front of me. I long to speak and to be interrupted by your love words. I desire the veil to be completely lifted, to be in awe, wonder, of You.

Wouldn’t that solve everything? Isn’t that the remedy to everything that poisons me? All unbelief, all doubt, all pride and fear…

Perhaps the veil is of apathy. Perhaps of emotions unfelt. Perhaps of analyzing or unbelief. Rip it. Tear it. Destroy it. Remove it. You did it when the words “it is finished” were proclaimed. Do it again. Speak “it is finished” with this way of knowing you.

Invade.