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

a million ways and eight

A calm and peaceful and tranquil heart is life and health to the body.

-Proverbs 14:30

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil.

It will be health to your body [your marrow, your nerves, your sinews, your muscles—all your inner parts]
And refreshment (physical well-being) to your bones.

-Proverbs 3

my last post was about the fact that i have accepted my chronic thyroid disease.

i have a new story.

a few weeks ago i was driving around and asked Jesus, “why why why am i still exhausted and in this place, when i eat well and exercise and sleep and take care… what is going on?”

and my heart heard “stale energy.”

and i had no idea what that meant. probably wouldve been a good idea to follow up on that, but i pictured this dark little sphere ball in my tummy that was stale energy. i thought it meant that i needed to use the energy that i do have and get going on things i love and things that are partnering with Him. i was really shooting in the dark.

well fast forward to Thursday, when i went to a naturopath doctor to see if there was anything else possibly going on that could be contributing to my chronic fatigue. she tested all of my organs to see if there were any that were abnormally stressed. nothing major signaled concern. i asked her if we could test food allergies too, because why not.

after finding out all this cool info, she turned to me and said, “you know, i have a recommendation for you that i dont suggest to most patients. but i know you know Jesus. i do something with Him that you might be interested in. i have come to know that when the human body experiences deep emotions or trauma, at times these energies can form physical blockages in our bodies, hindering the ability to function well. i have found that asking the Holy Trinity to come, then ask what is going on here, ask Him to remove them, and at a cellular level, these blockages leave. would you be interested in that?”

i sat there and blinked. “HELL yes.”

now, i believe in this stuff. i pray along these lines every morning. but i will always take someone up on this kind of thing.

i sat in a chair and we asked the Holy Spirit to come and guide and direct our time. then she asked Him, “is there any energy in ashley that is contributing to her fatigue?”

there were 8 different things.

EIGHT. she couldnt believe it. eight blockages that had been lodged into my system post-trauma.

they all left. she knew they left. she would say something like “ok, there is confusion when you were 21.” ummmm yes. “blaming when you were 20. deep sadness at 19” and on and on SPOT ON.

when i got home, after thanking Jesus and honestly asking what the heck just happened, i heard Jesus say, “you still need me. dont go doing this on your own. abide. abide. abide.”

yes. deal. “help me abide.”

by this point you are reading this and either going WOOOOOOO JESUS! YOU ARE GOOD I LOVE IT WHEN YOU DO THAT! or you are going what the h, this is wack and cray and i am concerned about this.

i totally understand. and that is ok. right now i am not trying to go all preacher and tell you why healing and the voice of God and spiritual warfare are so alive and active. i am just telling a story and giving God glory. because i tested these spirits, “you know them by their fruit,” and this is solid good revolution radical stuff. it is in different language (more medical) but none-the-less true.

i will say this: we are image bearers. i think that is an agreed upon truth to hold up in many christian circles. but taking this a step further, we are little trinities. we are body, soul, and spirit, and like the Holy Trinity, we are meant to be deeply, intimately integrated and connected; body to spirit, spirit to soul, soul to body. for many reasons, we compartmentalize. we experience immense heartache and sadness and at a cellular level our bodies are deeply affected. we experience stress and dont rest and we break out, cant sleep, the list is long. we experience joy and love and our brain chemistry is literally rewired. immense trauma will shut down organ systems. we meet with Jesus and walk with Him and there is restoration of body and soul.

this is not metaphorical, this is how we are designed.

i couldnt believe that my soul heard from my Spiritual Dad that my physical body energy was messed up because of hits on my soul… i mean that is just wild.

yes there is brokenness, sometimes people do not get healed, sometimes there is incomplete and partial and mystery and suffering. i do not get it or understand. i just want to share proof of integration; of how we are meant to live whole and holy, checking in to our emotional well being, bringing trauma in to the light, taking care of our bodies, asking Spirit to guide, comfort, heal, restore, nurture, speak.

i hesitated to write this, but this morning when i was thanking Him again, i heard “write about it.” so right now i want to proclaim God’s goodness. God’s power. His faithfulness and love in this form. because even if there isnt healing, He is still good. but i want to say this specific way He is good. He can do stuff like this. He is alive and working and moving in the craziest forms. He binds up the broken hearted and releases the captives,

in a million different ways.

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