Sunday, December 30, 2012

I AM...Love's Bride

Ever hear a song that you just love and you can't get enough of it, so you proceed to play it again and again and again determined to suck it dry of all it's awesomeness?

Well, that happens to me a lot.  But the past few weeks it's been these words that I keep coming back to and reading just like one of those songs you can't get enough of:

Hosea 2-3
(Here are my FAVORITE highlights from The Message version.) 


And now, here's what I'm going to do.
I am going to start all over again.
I'm taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date.
And I'll court her.
I'll give her bouquets of roses.
I'll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She'll respond like she did as a young girl, those days when she was first out of Egypt.

At that time, you'll address me, 'Dear Husband!'
Never again will you address me, 'My Slave Master!'
And then I'll marry you for GOOD - FOREVER!
I'll marry you TRUE and PROPER.
Yes, I'll marry you and NEITHER LEAVE YOU NOR LET YOU GO.
You'll KNOW ME, God, for who I really am.

Then God ordered me, 'Start all over. Love your wife again.  Love here the way, I, God love the Israelite people.

I did it.  I paid GOOD MONEY to get her back.
It cost me the price of a slave.

Then I told her, 'From now on you're living with me.  You're living with me and I'm living with you.'

They'll come back chastened to reverence before God and his good gifts.  READY for the END OF THE STORY OF HIS LOVE!!


Though we have developed some distorted ideas of what Love is and what Love looks like, true Love comes ready to show us who he really is.  He is coming for his bride.  He HAS come for his bride.  I want to live in and with THAT Love. 

Love is not a Slave Master,
Love is a Husband,
and we are Love's Bride.

I am part of Love's Bride.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I AM...Lovable

I'm sorry, but reading this article just made me so...angry.

Here it is:
“We must remind ourselves that God loves us, not because we are lovable, but because we are in Christ, and the love which the Father has for him flows over to us because we are in him.” – Jerry Bridges, Who am I?

God doesn’t love us because we are lovable.

In fact, in and of ourselves we are very much unlovable.  But Mark, you ask, aren’t I good enough, smart enough and doggone it don’t people like me? Yes people may like you.  Yes, you may be smart enough.  But you’re not loveable enough to merit God’s blazing holy love that burns up all impurities in its presence.
The Bible gives us pretty rough assessment of our “lovableness”.
…as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Romans 3:10-18)
Observe how lovable we are: we’re unrighteous, have no interest in or understanding of God.  We’re worthless. Our throats are open graves – what a lovely stench! And the the venom of asps under our lips makes us doubly attractive to God, as well as our mouths full of curses and bitterness.
Can you imagine a husband saying to his wife, “I love you honey.  Your mouth reminds me of an open grave. And your lips  are like the venom dripping from a Gaboon Viper.”  Somehow I don’t think that wife would feel particularly lovable.
Though our sin renders us repellent to God, when he saves us he not only washes our sins away, but he plunges us into Christ. We become so organically and intimately one with Christ that when God looks on Jesus he sees us, and when he looks on us he sees Jesus. When God loves Jesus, he loves us in him and when God loves us he loves his Son in us.
The Father doesn’t love believers because we are lovable, but because Jesus is infinitely lovable and God has made us one with Jesus. And because we are one with him, when the Father pours out his love on  his Son, that love washes over us as well.
Let this truth fill you with joy today.  No matter what kinds of trials you’re facing, remember the Father loves you with the love he has for his own Son.  And nothing can separate you from that love.  Ever.

I used to be SO insecure.  See myself as SO stupid.  See myself as SO unworthy.  Someone who could NEVER measure up.  And as a result, I stayed in my shrunken back position believing that I had little to offer.  Little that should be offered in my condition.  I lived so small for so long because I believed this so strongly.  Yea, Jesus may have died for my sins and made me worthy in God's sight, but the fact of the matter was that I believed I myself was never worth it.

I am now significantly less insecure.  I am stepping away from that shrunken position.  I understand that I am called to be brought to the front where the action is.
I believe I was created worthy. Created lovable.  Did I become distorted by the world along the way?  Of course.  But that was not my original identity.  Do I need Jesus?  Of course.  I needed him to conquer sin and death, but should not the focus be that I need him to show me how to live fully, to live from my original state.  From that worthiness and from that lovableness.     

I'm concerned the focus that this message takes is allowing depression and anxiety and hopelessness to enter in.  That it is taking us away from what God always created us to be and what he always wanted us to see about ourselves and as a result see about him.

I'm sorry dear author, but I disagree.  I think your focus is off.

"Sin" does not make me's just the result of my stepping away from relationship with my response, my Father uses it as an opportunity to draw near and teach me about who I truly am.   

I am lovable.  Period.  The end.  And I am going to live from that place. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

I AM full

If you haven't listened to Bethany Dillon, you're missing out.  I keep coming back to her in various seasons of life.  I can't say that about many music artists.

"Heaven's battle-cry, RISE!
See the Son light what was hidden.
Heaven's heartbeat, see it moving, it's moving.
What was a whisper, is now...a voice calling out." 
(A Voice Calling Out)

"I want to be beautiful, make you stand in awe.
Look inside my heart, and be amazed.
I want to hear you say, who I am is quite enough.
Just want to be...beautiful.
You make me worthy of love and beautiful...
You make me beautiful."

"I pour over pages, desperate to find out why,
The cripple at your table has what I'm longing to find.
Teach me how to hum it, because I don't know the words yet.
Help me see the light, I'm reaching through the fight.
Yahweh, show me the Kingdom.
Arms open wide, death swallowed up by life.
Yahweh, show me the Kingdom."
(The Kingdom)

Friday, September 7, 2012

I AM... strong and courageous

Moses is dead.

Why do you keep focusing on that part?

Joshua, it's time to go.  Be strong and courageous.

About a year ago, God impressed on my heart that there was a move coming.  I believed it was a physical move. A physical move of our life to a different state, a different location.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't anxious about it.  All I could think was, "We're not ready."  "We need the people here." "Would God move us before we're ready?" "Did I not adequately prepare for this?" Anxious questions turned into pleas to not move us before we were ready, before we were prepared.  

God asked me, "When did the Israelites move?" 

The Israelites moved twice.  They moved out of Egypt into the Wilderness.  And they moved out of the Wilderness and into the Promised Land.

God said, "When did they move into the Promised Land?"

I studied it out, and the first thing I read about the move to the Promised Land was, "Moses is dead."

Hmm.  Moses is dead.  Not gonna lie, I didn't see what this had to do with anything.  Eventually, some clarity rolled in.  Moses is dead.  Joshua's on board.  An old season is over.  A new season is ahead.

Regardless of seasons ending or beginning, this "move" was still not sitting well with me.


Now a year later, God speaks these same words to me.

I believe my first words to God in the current conversation were,  "I know you like to 'come in a whisper,' but you're going to have to shout as loud as a hurricane for me to hear you on this one, cause I can't hear you."

God:  You can hear me, you're just not listening.

Me:  *moment of intentional listening*

God starts to speak. Without divulging all of the details, he eventually says, "That's what courage is.  You can't have courage with something that is easy.  Be strong and courageous."

Me:  hmm.

God:  Moses is dead.

FLASHBACK.  We already had this conversation.

Me:  Moses is dead.  Moses is dead.  Why does this phrase have such a connection to my heart.  Why can't I let go of it?  Moses is dead.

God: Why do you keep focusing on that part?  "Moses is dead." Joshua, it's time to go.  Be strong and courageous.

You see, I think there has been a plan for a move all along, but not a physical one.  The Israelites move was a physical one (and a spiritual, emotional, etc. one).  But my move isn't a physical move.  I need to stop focusing on what's dead and instead, step into my "Joshua" role and have the strength and courage to take us to this next place.  To lead with God into the Promised Land.

"Do not be afraid.  Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go...only be strong and courageous."  An unclaimed inheritance is awaiting me.  I must go.  I must be strong and courageous.

I am...strong and courageous.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We are...LOVED

I read this article today:

"I'm Christian, unless you're gay."

I don't necessarily know what I think about a lot of things, but there is one thing I do know...

God loves all of his creation.  And I want all of his creation to KNOW it and FEEL it.

"We must show love where love right now doesn’t exist."

...We are LOVED.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I AM....interested in being interesting.

I wanted to title this, "I AM...interesting."  Because, well, I am.  But then, the reason I am writing today is to discuss a list of things I am interested in pursuing, but I'm not yet.  So, when I look at the list at who I think I am truly to be, I think to myself, "wow I'm pretty interesting."  And I am, but at present I am more interested in being interesting.  Not for the sake of being interesting, but for the sake of wanting to pursue this list despite my many failed attempts.  Confused yet? 

Well, here's my list.'s my heart.  Allow me to spill it out for you:

learn spanish.
learn chinese.
get children's book published.
learn sign language.
have a tea party.
learn to play the violin.
be more active.
do orienteering competitions.
try out for a play.
drink lots of water.
write more neatly.
read more.  for fun.
try letterboxing.
complete small tasks right away.
paint a big wall painting (if even on large butcher paper instead of an actual wall.)
decorate an awesome cake for someone who'd super want it.
create a math worksheet website.
play twister.
learn how to do math super fast in myhead.
take a graphic design class.
learn to swing dance.
keep my clothes cleaned up.
more regular intimacy with god.
clean house more regularly.
pursue husband more intentionally.

I have another list of things I "want to want" but, I figured this list was currently closer to my reach.  What can I say, I'm currently more motivated by not as challenging goals.  I'll cross that mountain or small hill when I'm ready.  (This is me, not yet ready.  Heck I don't even know if I'm truly ready to tackle this list.)

Some of these I have been tackling (and by some I mean like one or two.)  But most have been either left untouched or left tried a few times and then my lack of motivation and discipline left them in a corner somewhere collecting dust.  Does that mean I'm not truly interested in these things?  Or am I going about it the wrong way?  I feel rather elementary being stuck on those questions.  As if that's something I should have figured out years ago.  Hello.  My name is Ashley and I'm trying this new thing where I'm being real with myself about where I'm currently at.  And this is where I'm at.  

I'm thinking I could be more motivated to complete certain tasks if I had someone going with me at the same time.  Pursuing the same thing.  So, if anyone is interested in being interesting in any of the areas above, let me know.  We can walk together.