need

I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations.

Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty!

At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.

Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

– 2 Corinthians 12:7

12 months now, it is the anniversary of an unwanted revelation: i have a chronic illness.

parts of me hesitate to call it that, because it is fairly common, isnt (directly) fatal, and isnt cancer. i feel like i am being dramatic calling it what it is, even though that is how i experience it. chronic; long-lasting and difficult to eradicate, persisting for a long time or constantly recurring. constant. and 12 months ago, when i felt like i was barely scratching the surface of my own existence, blood tests were ran, and results came back.

something that makes my heart come alive is health and nutrition, exploring ways to live the fullest healthiest life, through food, movement, and lifestyle. but i have grown weary trying every possible remedy, researching endlessly to find something that will relieve, in hopes of energy again, of what feels to me like abundant life.

what is the balance of heaven on earth? of Jesus not wanting me to hurt or ache or wrestle with disease, how much do i pray against it, as warfare and command healing and restoration? how much is the fall (all of it i suppose)?

this needing to know, figure out, understand, treat, fight adds to my chronic exhaustion.

one of my favorite ways of hearing God speak to me is in the morning, when my thoughts and heart ponder something foreign, sometimes for a quick moment, sometimes longer, and then later in my time with Him, He confirms it, through His word, a song, a daily reading, a speaker… it is like He says, “yep, that was from Me, you heard Me right, this is what I am showing you right now.”

one morning it was this verse from Corinthians.

later that day, it was reinforced, and then again.

i hesitate to accept it. it feels like i would be admitting defeat, just allowing this thing that i have been loathing and fighting and running from for so long. “glad to let it happen… appreciating the gift… take limitations in stride, with good cheer…”

but another part of me was a little relieved; if this is true, if this is a gift from my Good Dad, will receiving it, keeping it, actually be the relief, the counter-healing, the understanding i have been so desperately searching for?

how often i spend my energies, thoughts, attention, desire… fearing any and all complications to my life, illness, weakness… and therefore preventing them. and when they happen, being taken out. despairing, spiraling, fighting to get back up on my feet.

My Grace is enough. you have tried to self-protect, hide, put on masks, be independent, be self-sufficient… and now you need. how close I can come if you let Me. how My Strength and Power and Light can flow through you, when you allow yours to yield.

maybe i have a chronic illness that keeps me crucified, cruciform, die little deaths, where my flesh wants to escape, find relief, live in the easy, but my true self meets His Strength, and Presence, and Grace, and teaches me how to break and give myself broken to a broken world. maybe it is to show me more of the upside down Kingdom; when i thought He makes me strong and blesses me with what i think i want and need, then i can do this life. maybe it is Him always knowing what i truly need, knowing what will restore and renew my soul, my eternal true self that will never waste away, grace coming down, my thanks going up, and healing, gentleness, patience, a tender heart, grace flows through me.

He will redeem. He will resurrect and meet me there. He will keep me close to Him and needing him where so often i run and do my own thing in my own strength. in ways i never thought i would be thankful for. in ways i never saw coming. in His wonderful Kingdom ways.

maybe i can soon come to the place of thankful defeat, not my will, but for your Glory. Glorify your name.

after all, the thyroid is the shape of a butterfly.

unraveling and unknown

i haven’t been writing because i feel like these have been months of unraveling. kind of like the more you know, the less you know? but that can’t be the case because i don’t even feel like i have been adding on more “knowing”, more like letting certain things fall away. but even these things don’t feel like concrete things on which i can stand and have my footing and take another step forward… its things like learning that i have been wearing a lot of masks that keep me from giving and receiving and feeling love, and how can Jesus and i take those off? what is the true me underneath? do i even know? have i ever known? it is things like learning that i do not know how to let Him have my life, submit my authority to His, yield to His power. what does that look like? how do i let myself be romanced by Him so that i can trust Him more, and believe in our relationship? it is learning that i am not ok with the mystery and the partial; i need to have everything figured out, i need to feel completely healed and healthy, i need to be 100% sure before i take a next step or jump. and if there isn’t certainty, then i at least need an exit strategy. i am learning (like pre-k level, maybe even day care, where people still aren’t sure that you know your own name) what i love doing, what i am good at, what i want to do, my passions so to speak (such a weighty pressure-filled word that carried a lot of shame when i felt “passion-less”. but paying attention to what i am drawn to, who i am drawn to and admire and am jealous of, the rare times i feel compassion or empathy, what i am good at, what people notice about me). i have been learning that i needed a serious time out and reset, and telling people what i am doing: living at home, pausing on the marriage, trying to heal up, not looking for a full time job… is daunting and i feel less worthy and small. aka i am learning i care a lot what people think of me. much much more than i thought. i am learning and wondering why i still feel like my thyroid dictates my day, and what i can do to help it (yoga, long walks, a lot of sleep, eating certain things and eliminating certain things), but also wondering why i still feel scared to make commitments and get work done, because i feel like my energy will be sucked out of me like a vacuum cleaner and i will go back to being barely alive. i am learning that my life is not in fact meant to be lived like i am on a cruise ship; when things go wrong or sideways or i get a skin issue or drop something and catastrophe sets in, i see that i have expectations of flawless ease, when in fact i am on a battleship in a war zone…

all of this has come up in my heart lately, and i wish so badly i knew the answers so that i could move on, whole and integrated, and save the world, and love my humans, and be strong and do it all. but i feel like all i have are questions and hands open, asking Jesus, “will you come? will you do this? will you heal me?” and i sense His smile, His picking me up and putting me on His lap, and His saying, “in ways you have no idea could be possible, through people you have never imagined or met, and over a long long long long long time.” and then i roll my eyes and want to climb down and pout but not really but then try to do it on my own and figure it out again and He says, “ok, i will be here when you get tired again and your crockpot brain hurts and you’re mad at me again and come back. i will be here waiting to walk and talk with you and give you the next right step. i love you, kiddo. you are one of my most crazy.”

and then i come back a little quicker, full of curiosity, exhaustion, pissed-ness, excitement, and a little more emotion, and ask again.

recommendations

every here and then (a sweet saying my family likes to use😉 i like to give some suggestions. things that have been beautifully and hugely helpful for my heart and journey over the years and recently.

books:

  • Listening to Love – Jan Meyers
  • It’s Your Call – Gary Barkalow
  • The Cure – John Lynch
  • Moving Mountains – John Eldridge (really all of Ransomed Heart’s books and message)
  • Carry On, Warrior – Glennon Doyle Melton
  • Love Wins & How To Be Here – Rob Bell
  • every single Shauna Niequist book. thank you very much.
  • For The Love – Jen Hatmaker
  • 1,000 Gifts – Anne Voskamp
  • Heart of a Warrior – Michael Thompson

podcasts:

  • odfchurch.org and John Lynch’s sermons… seriously every single one.
  • Robcast
  • Ransomed Heart
  • Gary Barkalow’s campfire conversations on youtube
  • Wednesday Morning Rescue – Michael Thompson and Zoweh Ministries

music (recently):

  • Needtobreathe’s new album
  • Katie and Bryan Torwalt – Champion (album)
  • Jesus Culture – Let It Echo (album)
  • Resurrecting by Elevation (song)
  • United Pursuit – Simple Gospel (album)
  • Lauren Daigle (artist)
  • Steffany Gretzinger – The Undoing (album)

these are a few of many that lead to more and deeper life. please let me know if you are hoping for more. and PLEASE always send things you think i will love!! i am on spotify and have quite a few playlists if you want to check them out🙂

 

to becoming love,

ashley

Tarzan & Jesus

i saw the movie The Legend of Tarzan the other day, and i cant get it out of my head. the reason is because that very morning i was asking Jesus to romance me, i was asking Him to help me see His Love for me and that it would breakthrough a little deeper to become more and more of a reality, no longer merely head knowledge.

backing up a bit… my parents do conferences to take men and women deeper into the Love-Knowing of Jesus. movie clips are something that they use to open eyes. movies tell stories that are true about us. they symbolize the larger story. they capture us and captivate us because they so often tell our stories. and oftentimes there is a Jesus character within a film. many times i have heard people say that Daniel Day Lewis in the Last of the Mohicans was their favorite picture of Jesus. or Richard Gere in Shall We Dance.

Tarzan quickly became mine.

a little more than half way through the movie i realized it. i found myself drawn to the mystery, the strength, the allure, the wildness, the paradox of safety and unsafety of Tarzan. as was his wife in the movie: Jane. there is passion and electricity between them. their intimacy is like off the charts, something you feel weird watching beside your dad in the 6th row seat in a movie theater. but as risqué as it sounds, i truly believe more and more that that is where we are headed with Jesus. if we are His BRIDE, if He wants all of us, all of our love, affection, devotion, if He is WILD with everything in Him, his pursuit, love for us, His very being…. then i really think this is the picture of what is to come.

now im not there yet. i am almost embarrassed to think of it this way. something in me is hesitant to surrender to this reckless abandon. but i know in my heart that it is true, and i can’t wait for the day that i love him this much.

i wont give away much, but this movie and story is one of Romance, set in a battle of a larger drama, and an epic rescue must take place. Jane needs rescuing. lives are at risk. but what was so mesmerizing was that Jane was SO POWERFULLY settled and confident in her trust of her husband. she knew that she knew that she knew he would come for her. that he was doing whatever it took to rescue her and free her and bring her back to him. that was another huge thing that struck me, he didn’t just want her to be free, he wanted her back to him.

bad guys knew of their love. she was his “weakness.” get the girl, and you got Tarzan, because she is his heart. the bad guy says “He is Tarzan, you are jane, He will come for you.” hello…. Jesus.

at another point Tarzan says to his comrade who sort of saved his life: “Do you think I care about my life? They have HER.”

he was so wild. never to be tamed. he protected her fiercely. he summoned nature to aid him in his rescue. he fought the beasts and was always victorious. he was only capable of good and justice and love.

in a scene where the bad guy and jane discourse, he says: Your husband’s wildness disturbs me more than I can easily express.

Jane: A normal man can do the impossible to save the woman he loves. My husband is no normal man.

i mean crap. what this did to my heart was so stirring, so disruptive. so Jesus.

to live like Jane, to trust my Jesus that much, it would free me to live completely untethered and wild and without restraint. to spit in the face of evil, knowing no lasting harm could come to me. to dance and laugh at whatever my future holds. to live without armor or masks because I have absolutely no need to defend myself or perform. to rest in His love and strength. that he is coming for me. he came for me. and we will be reunited and live in love. forever.

i want that.

to becoming love,

ash

NEW YORK CITY BABY HEADS WOOOOOO!

Anders and I got to go to NYC this past week and nearly sobbed leaving. it was perfect and despite me bugging him a lot, we agreed it was the best trip of our lives. 

here are some snap shots 😊 a lot need some story telling behind them so ask and I’ll tell ALL!!!

thank you Jesus for this insane experience on earth. it was a taste of what’s to come, we know it.

to becoming love,
ash