Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I AM a fighter...

I love this song.  I was longing to hear this song yesterday when I was needing to stay in a fighter mentality.

Let's review some of my fav. parts:

"A sea full of sharks and they all see blood
They start coming and I start rising
Must be surprising, I'm just summising
Win, thrive, soar, higher, higher, higher
More fire

I came to win, to fight, to conquer, to thrive
I came to win, to survive, to prosper, to rise
To fly

To fly

Get ready for it
Get ready for it
Get ready for it
I came to win
Get ready for it
Get ready for it
I came to win"

Good stuff.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


It's been a hard year...  

There is not much I like more than someone who's not afraid to say how they really feel, no matter how beautiful or ugly that may be. There are a few songs that  I just cannot stop listening to because of this.

Listen to this Will Smith song...

It's the whole song that I LOVE.  And I don't know if it's the rap genre that's doing if for me or what, but it's the following part that really makes me want to shout in celebration that someone is saying what many are thinking but don't want to say.   

"Mmmmm, souls are captured
Dreams are stolen, hearts are broken
Evil blatantly rewarded
Hate surrenders, Love exalted
Hope elated, negativity is shorted
Why is the bomb always getting the last word
& why did her uncle have to molest her
& why did all them cops have to be shootin' to kill
& why did all them priests have to act so ill
Tell me why did James Byrd Jr. have to be touched
Tell me why did Malcolm & Martin depart from us
Tell me why did that sniper make the little boy shoot
& why does human life always denied for loot
Tell me why did Mandela have to live in a cage
Why did my brother Sterling have to die at that age
Tell me why did Reginald Denny deserve his fate
& why the f*@k can't love seem to defeat hate
Tell me why is it so hard for all the children to eat
Why did Pac & Biggie Smalls have to fall in the street
Tell me why did Jam Master Jay have to go that way
Please what am I supposed to say to my kids when they say 'Why?' "

And I'm sure you could come up with a theologically sound argument for why this shouldn't be my focus, or why I should think this way or do this or that.  And quite honestly, there are times when I am simply not interested in being told that truth.  Sometimes, I just need to feel.  Sometimes I just need to be angry, to be questioning, to be pissed and frustrated that it seems things don't make any sense or that God isn't doing his part.  

Another of my favorites...The Fray's "You Found Me."

I can relate.  "I found God on the corner of 1st and Amastad.  All alone, smoking his last cigarette.  I said where have you been?  He said ask anything...All I needed was a call.  It never came...Where were You? Where were YOU?...Just a little late...I've been calling for years and years and years and years and you never left me no messages. You never sent me no letters. You've got some kind of nerve, taking all I want."
Time in prayer and bible study or really any independent time with God has been scarce the past 6 months.  There was a desire down in my gut to partake in all of that, but it rarely manifested itself in reality.

It's been 7 months (?) since Matt has passed away.  He was, I want to say, in his thirties.  He had cancer.  His wife and church body was a haven of hope and prayer and belief and faith.  I never even began to believe in that kind of healing faith until I met this group.  And amidst such a faith-filled body, I couldn't wrap my mind around his passing. 

I'd read facebook status updates from his wife.  She was taking it how any wife I'd imagine would take it.  It was tough.  It IS tough.  My heart ached for her.  My heart was heavy for her.  I'd cry out my feelings of sadness and distress hoping that somehow she'd feel lighter in the process.  It's not like him and I were super close, I supposed my pain was more me picking up on her pain, wanting to somehow ease a grieving wife's load. 

Anytime I did spent with my Father those months was either me lifting his wife up in prayer or me being angered.  Me not understanding this event and other similar events.  Me feeling abandoned and unloved.  Me not knowing how I could trust a God who "let this happen." I began building a wall.  And it's not as if I didn't know this was happening, I was fully aware.  I even said to God sometimes, "I know I'm building a wall.  I'm sorry.  I'm not ready to trust you yet.  And that's just going to have to be okay."  Yet all along something felt okay about my decision, something felt okay about my stubbornness.  It's as if God was like, "Ashley, it's okay for you to feel this way.  I understand this is hard.  Take all the time you need.  You go right ahead and feel, and I'll be here.  I'll be here soaking in this time we are spending together.  I just want to be with you even if all you have for me right now is negative thoughts."  I didn't feel I could trust God, yet at the same time, I was fully able to trust that He'd be there waiting on the other side of that wall as soon as I was ready to tear it down. 

I think God delights in this.  Does he want us to stay down and upset and discouraged?  No, absolutely not.  His intention for the Israelites was never for them to be in the state they were in the desert for that long.  At the same time, I think he delights in the relationship that is cultivated even through the hard conversations...and even if they are one-sided.  He doesn't have to speak words to us to reveal his character.
And sometimes we need a revelation of character more than we do a reminder of what we're doing wrong or how we need to shape up.

God can tell me he loves me as much as he wants, in words.  But until I can feel it, and know it with my heart, it really means nothing to me.  My plea with God was that he'd quit telling me.  Because I'd hear him say it.  And my response, "I hear you.  But honestly, I just don't feel it.  And I know that's not everything, but it's something."

I can't really describe to you what happened the other Sunday when Randy and Steve came to WHO, but I know my heart was softened somehow.  I feel like they got my message from God, that I wasn't feeling loved.  And they relayed it to me.  Not with words, but some other way.  Their words later only confirmed what God showed me.  I am free to feel.  There is no condemnation, only love.  God doesn't have expectations for me, but he is expectant and excited and joyed at where I'm going.

I want to feel.  I don't want to stay there, but I want to have a revelation of God's character from my time there.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

You are beautiful...


I've heard these words before. But the first time I heard them not audibly, but from God...was, I don't know, about a year ago.  It was during a difficult situation when I got caught up inside my head.  And when I get caught up inside my head, the direction tends to go something like this:  I'm down on myself, whining, complaining, feeling pity on little ol' me, and then God speaks truth to those lies that were taking over.  And then the lies try to get another run, and then God speaks again.  The number of back and forths vary, but eventually truth wins.

But when I first heard these words, I was upset thinking, "How does that have anything to do with this situation?  Yea, sure, I may be beautiful, but I don't see how that is supposed to help.  And I already know that I'm beautiful."  Negative feelings about my outward appearance has never really been issue for me.  So I shrugged the words off.  I was able to get past the lies, but those words didn't seem to be part of that solution.

But situations in the future resulted in this same phrase.  YOU.  ARE.  BEAUTIFUL.  I started to get pretty frustrated.  Help is great but it should actually be...well, helpful. And this didn't seem to have anything to do with the situation. 

Probably a good half a year later, it dawned on me.  God wasn't speaking to my outward appearance.  Sure I might be pretty high on the good-looking scale ;-) but that was not what He was talking about.  He was speaking to me, my core, who I am.  Something I hadn't been quite as confident about for some time.  It wasn't the things I did, it wasn't something I had to try to be, I just was.  I just am.  Beautiful. 


I believe someone else needs to hear that.  You don't have to try to be the beautiful you already are.  That you always were.  When you remember and dwell in that place of truth, your response to situations and lies that creep up on you won't last.  They can't last.


"There is none like you.  No one else can touch my heart like you do. And I would search for all eternity...and find, there is none like you." 

I know this song is meant to be one where us the children are speaking to the Father, but recently I heard it the other way around.  I heard God speaking this over me.  I was a little unsure if thinking of it this way was a bit conceited or not, but I think it's okay.  And I think it is true.  I believe our Father thinks about each of us this way.  He says to me, "Ashley, there is NONE like you. NO ONE else can touch My heart like YOU do..."

He says the same to each of us.
"There is NONE like you.  NO ONE else can touch My heart like YOU do.  And I would search for ALL ETERNITY...and find, there is NONE like you."

You need to know that YOU.  ARE.  BEAUTIFUL.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Disclaimer:  I end many of my sentences in prepositions.  From my understanding, this is not the proper way of doing things.  That being said, I have no intention of addressing this issue, so...that's just something you English Lovers are just going to have to deal with.  (haha, I did that one on purpose.)

Multiplying fractions. Factoring. Adding complex numbers.  Simplifying radicals.  You know, stuff people use everyday ;)   This is what my days consist of.  I enjoy it...thoroughly.  Do the students?  Well, seeing that I have 1 out of about 20 students coming to see me (those students that are REQUIRED to come see), I'd say the answer is no.  Why?  Am I not charming enough?  Do I smell?  I don't want to toot my own horn, but *toot toot*...I am delightfully charming, good smelling AND MORE.

No, but seriously, I've interacted with these students, I know many of their backgrounds, I see their attitudes...they just. don't. care.  Math doesn't matter to them.  And can you blame them?  When was the last time you needed to factor?

Yes, it's more than that.  Learning algebra isn't just for those times in life (that may be far and few between) when you need to actually use it.  It produces a valuable way of thinking and can be a building block to something you actually do care about, it can help with the practical aspects of math such as finances and bla bla bla.  I get that.  I preach that.  I LOVE that.  But for most students, that's not cutting it.  How do I make math matter?  Does it matter?  Is it good for the average person to know how to factor?

I've been in college.  It's awfully hard to see past that 4 (hopefully only 4) year time period and into the future where your current decisions affect what you will do, who you will be, and the obstacles and time it takes to get there.  I understand that it is hard for students to connect this current math class to the larger picture.

...So what am I getting at?  Well I'm reading "The Element" by Ken Robinson.  I was introduced to a little video clip of him months ago where he talked about how schools are killing creativity.  If you haven't seen it take some time to go watch it.  He has a lovely accent so you'll be easily captivated for a full 20 min.

Ken Robinson "Do Schools Kill Creativity?"

I was intrigued.  I wanted more.  Reading this book, I've seen so many different examples of people who have been viewed as the kid who was lazy, a slacker, didn't care, and would probably never succeed in life.  In all of these examples, once the kid (or later adult) understood what it was that was their "element," the thing that they were good at and thrived at and had passion for, once they understood what that was and pushed passed whatever opinions said they'd never make it, they thrived.  They excelled.  And in these examples, they are powerful, influential, and famous.  Many children are pressured to be something they are not.  Pressured to be a lawyer when all they want to do is write.  Pressured to choose a stable path for their future, when all they want to do is express themselves in the way that makes the most sense to them.  Once free to be themselves, they became what most of us only dream of. Ken puts it this way:

"And the fact is the average office worker probably does have more financial security than the average jazz trumpeter.  But it is difficult to feel accomplished when you're not accomplishing something that matters to you.  Doing something 'for your own good' is rarely for your own good if it causes you to be less than who you really are."

I often think about my students.  I ask them their first day of class what their passion is.  What would they do if they could do anything.  I want them to know that I care about who they really are, not just about teaching them math (especially when for most of them, math is the last thing they want to think about). I want to know this so I can encourage them in that thing that is truly them, in what they are truly interested in.  But many students don't know really know what they're passionate about.

I keep thinking about one student in particular, we'll call him "Brandon."  The first thing I remember about Brandon is how when I asked him what he would do if he could do anything, he said he'd be a secret agent. First thoughts through my mind:  Ok jokester. I'm not saying people can't truly want to be secret agents, but to keep this in perspective: when I was trying to remember his name, he told me a fake name instead.  Also, I later found out that he is known for lying straight to your face (at least about academic things anyways).  But I didn't know, that could have been that boy's life long dream and I wasn't about to be a dream crusher so feeling kind of dumb at believing a perhaps obvious lie I said, "That's awesome!  Like with the FBI?  Any particular location?"  And on and on I went.  This was my first encounter with Brandon.  My later encounters?  Well, not too many encounters to be honest.  He came to my workshops a bit in the beginning but haven't seen him for the past 8 or so weeks.  And even when he did come, he was physically present but mentally absent.  Failing class, I am confident Brandon is perfectly capable of an A.  No lie.  And I wouldn't say that for all students.  And sadly this is not just a math class dilemma.  Why does he not care?  Why does this not matter to him?  I've come to see him as "the slacker."  I've actually been concerned about his future and what's going to happen to him.  I've been concerned, because he's not been motivated academically.  But Ken's got me thinking...Should I be concerned that he's not coming to class and that he's not trying and that he's failing?  Or should I be concerned that perhaps Brandon is yet another student that's heart is elsewhere and his creativity is being squandered?

And I've tried to connect with not only Brandon but other students in an area besides math.  This was why I had goal setting workshops.  Goal setting workshops in my mind were just an excuse to get students excited and motivated about life and who they are, not about getting them to figure out  how they could better plan for success in college and in their math class.  But for Brandon, this activity was not something of interest.  More of a joke.

So I wonder, what does he really want to do?  Does he really want to be secret agent?  What is he really good at?  Are there other things going on at home?  Is he expected to be one thing when he knows he's another?  Is there something holding him back from freedom to be who he really is?  I am deeply saddened to know that students are passing by me every day headed for a future that was never truly their heart, but the heart of another or rather an obligation placed on them by the way society operates.

Don't get me wrong, there is value in stability and planning for a career that will provide for you as a result of you doing your part and God doing his.  But since when did our dreams have to leave the picture?  Since when did we have to throw what makes us excited out the window in order to make sure that we are going to be able to eat and live and make it in the future?  Are the two mutually exclusive?

I love my job.  I don't see myself leaving anytime soon.  I didn't know what I was looking for, but as soon as I arrived here, I knew this was where I wanted to be.  There is only one small thing wrong with my job, and that's that I feel like it is killing creativity (not for all, but for some).  It is reinforcing what education has been telling students for far too long:  If you are not smart in these subjects (math included), then you'll never succeed and you won't be as good as you need to be.  If you go after your dreams and not math and these more "stable" subjects, you won't get a job.  And though there are seeds of truth in those statements, there are (in my opinion) far bigger lies.  So though I dislike this part of my job where I squander their creativity, I think it important that someone who enjoys math and does do math everyday, encourage students in the thing THEY enjoy.  Encourage students in what's in THEIR heart.  I feel like that's all I can do, but I want to believe that's what I can do.  (You tracking?)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Every once in a while I discover a new song and spend about several hours straight listening to that song over and over.  Well, it's almost 8pm, I sat down at 7pm, and I don't intend switching songs until at least 9pm.  You do that math.  Ok, I'll do the math...that would be 2 hrs.  (I don't want to discourage any of you nonmath-type from the get-go.)

Tonight's selection...Miss Selena Gomez with "Who Says."  It's songs like this that makes me wish I had an 8 year old daughter.  Don't worry future daughter, I will most certainly force you to listen to this.  It's one of those songs where you're like, YES, that's SO true.  It's one of those songs where you can see seeds of the Kingdom.  Now before you go listening to this song and pointing out every line that you disagree with and wondering what in the world I was thinking, know that I haven't considered EVERY aspect of this song.  I am just saying the heart of this song has some really good stuff.  Check it out...I recommend listening to the song while you read the lyrics.  She puts some little "nana's" in there that are a fun little musical addition =)

 Listen to Song Here...


I wouldn't want to be anybody else.

You made me insecure.
Told me I wasn't good enough.

But who are you to judge,
When you're a diamond in the rough.
I'm sure you got some things,
You'd like to change about yourself.
But when it comes to me,
I wouldn't want to be anybody else.

I'm no beauty queen,
I'm just beautiful me.

[You've got every right,
To a beautiful life.]

WHO SAYS you're not perfect?
WHO SAYS you're not worth it?
WHO SAYS you're the only one that's hurting?
Trust me,
That's the price of beauty.

WHO SAYS you're not pretty?
WHO SAYS you're not beautiful?

It's such a funny thing,
How nothing's funny when it's you.
You tell 'em what you mean,
But they keep whiting out the truth.

[It's like a work of art,
That never gets to see the light .
Keep you beneath the stars,
Won't let you touch the sky.]

I'm no beauty queen,
I'm just beautiful me. 

[You've got every right,
To a beautiful life.]

WHO SAYS you're not perfect?
WHO SAYS you're not worth it?
WHO SAYS you're the only one that's hurting?
Trust me,
That's the price of beauty.

WHO SAYS you're not pretty?
WHO SAYS you're not beautiful?

WHO SAYS you're not star potential?
WHO SAYS you're not presidential?
WHO SAYS you can't be in movies?
Listen to me, listen to me...
WHO SAYS you don't pass the test?
WHO SAYS you can't be the best?
Won't you tell me WHO SAID that?

If I'm honest...there are certainly days when I don't feel good enough.  When I don't feel worth it.  But I'm glad to know that feelings are not always truth.  Praise God.  How many times are we the ones saying these things to ourselves?  Telling ourselves we aren't worth it.  Telling ourselves we're not good enough.  Telling ourselves we're not beautiful (whether inside or out).  "WHO SAID?"...certainly wasn't the Father.  We need to listen to the Truth.  

I love the emphasis on who we are in this song.  I hope to daily reinforce the heart of this message in the life of the young ladies I encounter.  You too future daughter.  I'd say more, but I think Selena and the text modifications speak for themselves. 

So Miss Selena, thanks for downloading some Kingdom today.  
Lesson learned.  
I am just beautiful me.