Change // I Will Follow

Change is hard.

I know, you’re probably like, Hey Ashley, way to state the obvious there.

There’s good change, of course, and there’s also bad changes. There’s also change that you’re just not quite sure how to feel about.

I find myself in that camp more often than not.


When it comes to spiritual change, also known as spiritual growth, that’s one that is particularly difficult to process. Spiritual growth makes you finally stop and look at that reflection in the mirror and take a long hard look at your life and your relationship with God. It forces you to celebrate the areas where you have grown and acknowledge the areas where you are still in desperate need of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Lately, I have been feeling a little bit stagnant within my church community and have been wrestling with a lot of feelings about it. I’ve been attending this church for just over two years and God definitely brought me to that place at the perfect time….

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A Little More Like Love

“I used to think I needed all the answers, I used to need to know that I was right. I used to be afraid of things I couldn’t cover up in black and white. But I just wanna look more like love” // “More Like Love” by Ben Rector

A few weeks ago, I was sent an article, published on Deeply Rooted‘s blog, titled Writing for Christ’s Glory. There is no exaggeration when I say that it changed my life and stirred something deep within my soul. I printed a copy of the article and keep it close by as a reminder with particular sections highlighted. There are so many excellent points, but the words that resonated with me were about how writing for Christ’s glory means that we give up our right to praise and fame. “It means that our heart’s aim is not to secure our own fame, but the fame of our King,” Ann Swindell writes.

I may never have a blog that becomes wildly popular and I may never have anyone besides my close friends and family read these words. But still I write. If the trials that I have endured in my life have taught me anything, it is that the things we say, think, and do in this one and only life that we have matter. Our Savior has done amazing things in my life and in my heart. When we have tasted and seen of God’s goodness in our own lives, how can we not feel compelled to share it? God didn’t carry me through the loss of six family members, completely and wholly changing my heart, just to have me keep the glory to myself.

God gave me a story to share amid the mess and the muck of the past two years, and he also gave me a voice. He’s giving me the strength to add my voice to the sea of others already proclaiming his glory. For so long now, this has been done primarily through this space, my blog. Gradually, He has been giving me opportunities to actually speak of God’s work in my life and my personal walk with Christ with those around me. There was a time when sharing my faith with others out loud would have seen like an outlandish thing for me to do so for me to do this and feel joy doing so, feels amazing. Where my head may have once been buried in the sand, I now see clearly where, and to whom, Christ is leading me and how I could be used there. We are called to live by example, even when it may be uncomfortable, even a little awkward. As I was praying over this post and thinking of what God would want me to say, the words of 1 Timothy 4:12 came to me.

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” // 1 Timothy 4:12, NLT

When my family lost Nellie, my grandmother’s precious cousin, I wrote of how inspiring it is to see lives lived wholly for God. She so clearly lived and breathed her faith and she was probably never asked whether or not she followed Christ because of how she lived her life. I believe that we are called to be daily examples and reminders of God’s power and goodness with both the believers and non-believers in our lives, I pray that I always remember this and live my life in this way.

None Can Compare // Psalm 40:5

Psalm 40:5

Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. // Psalm 40:5

It can be all to easy for us to lose sight of the many amazing things that God has done in our lives. We can get so consumed by the things that we don’t have, the things that we haven’t done, and compare ourselves endlessly to those around us. Sometimes, we even find ourselves focusing so far into the future that we are unable to see the things that we have right in front of us already. The future, I’m always reminding myself, is God’s territory. If I let myself dwell too long with thoughts of what is to come, I find myself paralyzed with plans that I have no business planning.

Lately, I’ve found myself stuck in a rut of sorts. The spark that has been igniting me and this blog seems to have gone out as I struggle with writer’s block. I’ve found myself in a difficult season at work that has left me second-guessing my decisions and battling my priorities. The dust seems to have settled on this season of loss now that my family has returned home from California, but now it seems the question as I move forward is, what now? In some ways, it can be easier to seek God and rejoice in His good works through the dark and trying times. I’ve certainly had my share of those since this blog was created. But maybe what I am feeling now is a sense of uncertainty in how life is going to be now that the dust has settled.

Despite feeling so out of sorts(the rambling nature of this post is probably a dead giveaway of that), the greatest reminder I could give myself, or to anyone else for that matter, is that God has already done so much in my life, and all of our lives, and he’s never going to stop. To list out for you all of the things that He has done in my life would be far too numerous to list here. But reminding myself of His works fills me with gratitude for the past, and hope and a fervent prayer for the future.

Cleanse Your Hands and Purify Your Hearts // Ash Wednesday 2016

Ash Wednesday 2016

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts // James 4:8, ESV

Having been raised in the Catholic Church, the tradition of Lent is one that I am very familiar with. The thing about traditions like this, though, is that it tends to bring with it some level of guilt on my part. I really never put much thought into the real meaning behind this important season in the Church. It saddens me that I went so long without pausing to really reflect and give Lent its due diligence.

Just over a year ago, I felt God calling me to leave my comfort zone of my childhood church and pursue a deeper relationship with him at a new church home. The switch brought me to an nondenominational Christian church. The church where I spent all of my formative years could not have been more different, but I truly believe that God called me to the place where I am now so that I could finally open my eyes and launch headlong into a relationship with him. What we had before was a friendship, an acquaintance-ship even. I learn something new about this great God of ours nearly every day and this blog, I hope, serves as a vessel for sharing that journey and testimony.

For years, I could tell you in a split second what I was going to be giving up for Lent. Soda. For years, I never gave that decision a second thought. Sure, giving up soft drinks would be great for my waistline, but come Easter morning, was I in a better place spiritually?

Not at all.

A couple of days ago, I came across a quote on from Pope Francis that he said in 2015. He said,

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”

What powerful words they are! Our outlook on Lent has become superficial; something we do out of obligation, not out of worship. The act of giving something up is not just something we do for a personal benefit. The practice symbolizes the abstinence from something that was leading us away from Christ and towards sin. I mean, I know soda isn’t healthy, but was it leading me away from Christ? Not necessarily.

For me, simply fasting or abstaining from something isn’t necessarily going to solely bring me to closer to God during Lent. Removal of a bad habit isn’t going to do much if I am not replacing it with a good habit. So abstaining from something that is leading me towards sin and a divide from God and not replacing it with a behavior or habit that will lead me back to Him just isn’t going to work. Rather that strictly fasting from something, I choose to do this while also adding something spiritual to my life to pray and reflect on. This might mean picking up that spiritual book that’s been gathering dust on the bookshelf, spending a few extra moments reading Scripture each day, or even leaving your car’s stereo on the Christian radio station for the commute to and from work.

I choose to see this season as a time for me to draw near to God and root myself completely in Him. While I don’t necessarily feel that we need to shout the things that we give up from the rooftops, I can appreciate the accountability that is so vital to the Christian faith. So, friends, however you choose to spend these next few weeks before Easter, I pray that you are able to find your way towards God and keep your hearts fully focused and rooted in His love.

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