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.

 

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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.

dependence & freedom

today i am so thankful for freedom.

i am so thankful for this country. i am thankful for the hard-fought freedom that was worth dying over. i can never fully imagine what was sacrificed and what it cost to buy this freedom that we are celebrating today.

and i am thankful for a much larger freedom: an independence from the law, a freedom from death, a liberation from separation. thank you, Jesus. it cost you everything.

i also know what my flesh likes to do with freedom: become independent. i long to call my own shots. to be in control. to desire comfort and independence from authority, independence from needing others, independence from inconveniences.

i long to be constantly aware of my need to be dependent. steadily dependent on Him. letting myself be dependent on others, not in a needy way, but to let them love me without a love-hindering mask. to let myself be depended on, meeting needs, others having my yes. dependent on the posture of abiding, continual connection and intimacy.

we were never meant to be alone. never meant to be independent. free, yes. forever free. but never autonomous.

all of this reveals my authority issues. i dont want to be told what to do. i dont want to submit and sacrifice and risk my hopes and dreams. but i have tasted and seen what independence leads to: the death of my true self at the hands of my flesh. and what dependence leads to: more and more Life and freedom and love-knowing.

i long for more of this freedom: freedom from my flesh, freedom from past wounding and agreements to feel every emotion, freedom from fears that hinder me from love, freedom to move towards others from my wildly alive heart.

true freedom is dependence on the True Life.

happy freedom day.

hunger and freedom

Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.

              -Psalm 34:10

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

                          -Galatians 5

i know you’re not supposed to tell people this, but i recently completed a season of fasting. heart and motives check out as ok so we will continue.

i’ve done this fast the past two years to consecrate the year, setting it apart and giving it to Jesus and inviting Him to speak new life and words into it, so my heart has some navigation and orientation on which directions to sail towards and what to expect. i pay attention to what i want and need, what i am hopeful for, what i believe is to come. it also becomes a physical cleanse, and my body is reset. incredible incredible things are revealed during this time of intense discipline, habits, and self-control, which i am going to start calling flesh-control.

one of the things that i became abundantly aware of is this:

hunger drives me.

my hunger for deep abundant overflowing life. my hunger for love and passion. my hunger for sensations and tastes. my hunger for beauty and pleasure.

these are all found in Jesus, but how often do i try to satisfy these apart from Him? when i’m not chasing less-wild lovers – things that i think can fulfill me and things that i am trying to get life from apart from Jesus – i am distracting from my true hunger.

for me, these distractions look like looking up food blogs and recipes. pinterest planning for “one day”. day dreaming about my future. none of these are inherently bad, but my use of them is not from where i want it to be.

as i thought to myself a few days after the fast had ended (aka after a few days of eating everything in sight and shopping and looking up millions of things to pin, and feeling incredibly burnt out on consumption) i felt that discipline and habit and living under strict rules was feeling much easier than full freedom. i felt out of control, i felt that my fallen-hunger was running me again, i felt that i was taking steps backward and in the cockpit controlling my steps instead of dependence, surrender, and awareness. i wanted to go back. i wanted to go back to the rules and the restrictions. the weight of freedom felt too heavy and that i was abusing it.

but i know that i am not meant to live there. it is for freedom that i have been set free.

my sister and i share a brain in a million ways. one of them being that we want to figure out, analyze, and walk in the right way, the way of truth. this is extremely hard to do under faith, mystery, and walking with Jesus. so many paradoxes arise. we are constantly asking each other or ourselves “we see these two things are opposites, yet we are called to both, what the heck and what is the balance?”

walking with Jesus.

walking with Him and leaning into discernment and dependence for the honor and weight of freedom is always the balance.

so i was struggling with: what is the balance between flesh-control/habit/discipline and freedom? what is the balance between things we have to do that are good for us, and freedom to choose and not be penalized and live under grace

i am learning a new definition of freedom that encompasses the paradox:

i am only as free as i am dependent on Jesus.

i am only as free as i choose to take my deep hunger to Him to satisfy, instead of less-wild lovers or distractions.

i am only as free as i choose to live in seasons of flesh-control, habit, and discipline.

i am only as free as i choose to surrender what i think are my rights to come under the will of another.

because now with no guard rails i need dependence, a guide, a relationship, and outside wisdom to let me know what is ok and what leads to death. freedom is no longer doing whatever i want whenever i want for myself without hindrance or restraint, because i am now under grace and no law and a new covenant, freed from the penalty of sin… when i use my freedom on and for myself i feel death because it was never intended to be used in that way.

but if i choose to trust that i have everything i need, i have enough, and if i choose holiness and flesh-control freedom, keeping my hunger alive, i am walking in how i was made to live: awake and alive and full of intimacy and connectedness and dependence on God and others

Galatians 5 has to be one of the most powerful and life-giving scriptures ever to have been written. my favorite part is when Paul says to choose to be led by The Spirit, the Life of The Spirit. i am learning that that looks like abiding. it looks like relationship. it looks like getting to Love-Know and learn His voice and try out and exercise this new life as i trust it to be true. abiding, settled quiet trust and time set apart, just showing up. any relationship requires sacrifice of self-freedom. i think it was beautifully designed to do so: making room for another in your space, choosing someone and giving time, love, resources to them. and this choosing of relationship, that’s what transforms. that is where true freedom comes from.

even though living in habits and disciplines is easier, it’s not how i was meant to live. that’s not the new covenant. going back to old covenant feels easier and better because there is no mystery or trust needed in bondage, only control, self-sufficiency, rules, and structure, familiar.

true freedom is scary because there is always a chance i will wind back up in bondage, fear of doing it wrong, because my hunger is wild and alive because i was made for constantly more, more of Him satisfying and fulfilling me at all times, walking in the garden, not in the fallen partial, the “already and not yet” of the present time. i was created for fullness and constant satisfaction. like the Brooks from the movie Shawshank Redemption, if i don’t know how to live in true freedom i will sabotage in order to return to some form of incarceration. it is harder to trust the wonderful unknown and no longer a life of self-protection and self-reliance.

choosing holiness and flesh control. this is part of exercising my new life and trying it on and out. it’s not rules and bondage. it’s habit that leads to freedom. it’s choosing to live in the awareness that this is not my home, this is not how things were intended. so stay hungry. do what i have to, habits and discipline and flesh control, to keep my hunger alive and not try to satisfy it with distractions and less wild lovers.

so i can choose some of my personal flesh-controls and disciplines, unique to me: waking up early for abundant time with Jesus in the morning, not eating foods that my body rejects, choosing others instead of isolating, reading the word every day, praying the daily prayer every single morning even when i falsely think i don’t need it, fasting every once and a while, trying to sit still and clear out all my thoughts to listen to His Voice and not run the show, keeping my eyes open to opportunities to choose someone else’s needs over my own. these are what lead to the true experiences of freedom and abundant life in my life.

and when i am walking this way, i will always mess up and come up short, there is so much Grace that says “don’t be afraid, Ash, you didn’t take two steps back. you’re not behind. don’t start striving. don’t try to get it together. you have unlimited chances. just keep doing this WITH Me”

this is my motive. this love is what allows me to overflow and come under the One Who Loves.  it allows me to want to serve others. it allows me to ask how can i meet needs and limit my rights, tastes, perfection, sensational pleasures for the sake of love and giving my life away. it allows me to keep my hunger alive and keep walking. it allows me to experience true freedom.

to becoming Love and becoming Free,

ashley