Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More than Enough

"All of You is more than enough for all of me. For every thirst and for every need, You satisfy me with Your love, Until all I have in You is More than enough." I don't know if Chris Tomlin wrote this but I do know that he sang it. Lately, though it seems like it's for much longer periods of time, I've wanted God to simply be enough for me. I know that He is more than enough, more than I can ever imagine or hope for, or need, but at times, I just need Him to be enough for me in the very moment. Enough to fill the ache of loneliness, enough to deal with the junk and drama at work, enough to love me unconditionally. I think that today we are always looking for more. Think about it....more money, more car, more house, more friends, more success, more recognition, more of everything. Nothing seems to satisfy us. Enough doesn't seem to do it for us. Enough money to pay the bills. Nope, we want more. A car that runs well and is paid for. Nope, something bigger and better. A roof over our heads. No, it has to have a swimming pool or walk in closets. A good job. No, more power, please. Part of being okay with enough is contentment. In Phillipians 4, Paul talks about being content in any and every situation, whether in plenty or in want, good or bad. I think that realizing that God is enough for us...for every single need, and realizing that He is also more than enough, helps breed contentment. Not an easy thing by any means, but I will rest in knowing that my God is enough for me.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I am not responsible

Today, I'm learning a valuable lesson: that I cannot be nor am I responsible for other people's actions. You're probably thinking, "Well, duh!" But to a person in the helping profession or to someone whose spiritual gift is clearly mercy (and strongly at that) this can be difficult to understand sometimes. We want to fix things, to make them better, and in doing so, we often end up carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. There was a situation a few months ago that I was involved in that I was partly responsible for...(that's all I'm saying...I'm not getting into it here!) I let my emotions get the best of be and leapt before I looked closely and carefully. We both got hurt, got tangled. Well, I felt horrible for my role in it, even though the other person insisted that it wasn't me. But I knew that even in a small way, I had contributed to the problem. So I emailed this person and apologized and asked for forgiveness. This was a huge step for me, but it is very hard for me to admit that I'm wrong and ask for forgiveness. I also felt like that this person was questioning my motives and I told them that. I wasn't expecting for things to be all hunky dory after this, but I was hoping for some acknowledgement..."Hey, I forgive you." We didn't even have to continue our friendship, if they never wanted to speak to me again, fine too. What did I get.....Nothing. No response, no phone call...nothing. I knew that I needed to do this for me...because it was the right thing to do. It is very obvious that this person no longer wants any contact with me. I'm a people pleaser...usually this would bother me. But I realize that I did what I felt what was the right thing to do...if they can't see that, then do I really need them in my life anyway? Do I even want them in my life? I want to be surrounded by people that are going to love me for who I am, flaws and all, who are going to understand that I make mistakes, and who are going to offer forgiveness when I ask for it. I don't need people who are going to make me feel guilty or who are who are too self centered to see true genuiness. I'm not going to doubt myself...I did what I felt like God wanted me to do...and if that person can't see that..then okay. I can't worry about what other people do. It was my responsibility to ask for forgiveness and admit that I was wrong. I did that. It is not up to me to make them give me an answer or to even acknowledge my request. Yes, it would have been the polite thing to do. But I am not responsible for other people...I am only responsible for me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

In the Night

Two posts in one day....not a normal occurrence, but I'm on a roll, so bear with me! Last night was rough......i got about three hours of sleep before I received a phone call in the middle of the night. Now, I was expecting this phone call. I guess I should back up. I spent about 7 hours at work afterhours because two of my residents decided to take off on their bikes for an adventure. So I had to call the police, file the report, call the families (NOT A FUN THING TO DO!!!) and just wait, and wait. Finally, at around 11:30 I went home, because I knew that they wouldn't be found until daylight anyway. So I go home, and am awaken at 3:30 am with a phone call telling me that they've been found by the police. So I throw my clothes on and head back out to work to deal with them and have them call their families. ( I Can be quite brutal at 4:00 am! of them was dozing on the couch when I got there..I told him if I had to be awake at 4:00 then so did he..i'm so mean!)

These boys were mad over something so petty and insignifcant. They chose to run away and return in the middle of the night. They knew that they would get caught trying to sneak back in the house. They knew that they would get caught because they realized that we knew that they were gone. But we were waiting for them. Waiting for them to return safely. Now, I was upset with them. But I was relieved that they were okay. I made them call their parents and let them hear their voice. I could not imagine what those parents were going was just completely beside herself, not sure what she would do if something happened to her son.

How many times do we run away from God and return in the middle of the night? Maybe we think that we won't get caught. But deep down, we know that Someone is waiting for us to return. As I was sitting up last night with some of the staff, talk came to the story of the Prodigal Son. I wonder if the father knew deep down in his heart that his son would return? I know that he thought he was dead, but was there a glimmer of hope still there? He wanted his son back, even if it meant that he returned home in the middle of the night.

God is like that. He wants us in fellowship with Him. He is waiting for the middle of the night.


Tonight, I had an experience in receiving grace. I was on my way home from the gym and talking to my mom..( I know, I was talking and driving....but believe me, lesson learned!) and suddenly, just as I turn into my neighborhood....i see lights. So i told mom I'd call her back and pulled over. I was shaking as I fumbled for my license and insurance and registration. The officer asked if I was okay, because he saw that I was swerving on the road and crossed the fog lines (i didn't even know there was such a thing as fog lines!) I admitted that I had been talking on the phone. He looked at my license and saw that I lived in the neighborhood. He told me to just be careful. He showed me grace. Unmerited favor. Something that I didn't deserve. Grace- getting what I didn't deserve. I deserved a ticket...i was not paying attention nor was I being careful. But....grace was given to me. He let me go. God's grace is like that....freely given to us, even though we don't deserve it. I was struck at how easily I admitted to the officer that I was talking on the phone--the truth, and yet how hard it is for me to admit to God when I've sinned. I mean, what is He going to do, strike me with lightning from heaven? Ban me from Heaven when I die? Turn away from me? No, none of these things. He extends forgiveness, He extends me it doesn't mean that He's not going to discipline me. I think that often grace and discipline can go hand in hand. God gives us His grace....grace for the moment. Grace to cover us when we need it. I think that sometimes we forget to look for His grace, to receive it. Oh, I'm so thankful that He gives us grace, even when we don't look for it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


**** The next few posts were things that I wrote a while back. Enjoy!***
July 4, 2006

Forgiveness. What really is forgiveness? We know that the definition of forgiveness is to “pardon or acquit from sins.” But how do we do that? Is there a step by step instruction manual? A checklist? A self-help book? A reality television show? Another question that we may have deep down, but for whatever reason, choose not to think about, is: “How long does it take to forgive someone?” We often fail to offer forgiveness to those who have wronged us for many reasons. We feel that they don’t deserve it. We feel that they are the ones who are to blame. We feel that it is not our responsibility. We simply do not want to give it. But there is another reason why we fail to offer and to give forgiveness. This reason is one that we probably have never thought about before. The Lord recently revealed this reason to me. It blew my mind. I had never thought about it before. So, what is this “mystery reason?” We don’t realize that we need to offer it. What?? We don’t realize that we need to offer forgiveness? How can I not know that I need to forgive someone? Sometimes, we are faced with circumstances that hurt us, but we either don’t recognize the hurt or we refuse to acknowledge the hurt. The Lord recently revealed to me that there was an area of my life where I needed to offer forgiveness, yet up until that time, I had no idea that I needed to offer it.

When I was a freshman in high school, I dated a guy in my church youth group, Shane. Now, it didn’t last long, but of course, as most high school romances do, we played the merry go round game. You know the game where you go in circles, “Well, I like you…but you don’t like me. But don’t like you.., but I like you. Let’s go out again. Or not. Again? Or not.” Shane and I got to be very good at this game. He crushed my heart and played with my emotions over and over again. And my parents were furious. They couldn’t stand him!! Well, right after my senior year, I saw the light. I realized what he was doing to me. And I had enough. We stopped speaking for almost 2 months, and then out of the blue, he called me. We talked about the situation and he apologized for his behavior toward me. We agreed to start over as friends and to just let God lead. I’m so thankful that God allowed us to have that conversation. I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday. Nothing could have prepared me for what was going to happen next.

September 28, 1999 was the day that my life changed forever. I was away at college. I received a phone call telling me that Shane was in an accident. At the time, I wasn’t sure about all of the details. Immediately, I knew that whatever it was, it was bad. My family came to take me home. Shane had been killed in a fork lift accident. Just like that. In the few seconds that it took for the forklift crane to fall, it took those same few seconds to send my world crashing and my dreams shattered into millions of pieces. Over the following days and months, I couldn’t see straight. I couldn’t feel anything. I was mad. Mad at him for being careless. Mad at God for allowing this to happen. But over time, God showed me that there was nothing that I could have done to change anything and that I had to simply trust Him.

I began to heal. Now, it wasn’t easy. I had plenty of tearful talks with God and nights of crying myself to sleep, thinking that life was always going to be this way: hard and painful. God proved himself faithful time and time again. I could spend hours telling you about the numerous “God moments” that He allowed me to experience. Psalm 126:5 says “Those who sow in tears will reap with joy.” I was able to learn to live again. To see God in the good and in the bad. God had restored my life. He had completely healed my whole heart. Or at least I thought so.

Fast forward nearly seven years later. By this time, I was living on my own and working in Monroe, LA. I had a job that I loved and a great church home. I was beginning to discover more of who I was as an adult in “the reality show that never ends.” I was attending a Bible Study where we were reading the book, “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldridge. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. The book talks about why God created women the way that He did and how we should embrace that instead of running from it. There was a chapter that talked about forgiveness. The chapter talks about forgiveness and its importance in our lives. There was a statement in this chapter that could have been written for me alone. It changed my life. “We acknowledge that it hurt. That it mattered…This is not saying, ‘It didn’t really matter; it is not saying ‘I probably deserved part of it anyway.’ Forgiveness says ‘It was wrong. Very wrong. It mattered, hurt me deeply. And I release you. I give you to God.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading. And at that moment, it was as if God was right next to me, telling me, “You know, Ashley, you haven’t forgiven Shane.” What? Haven’t forgiven him? For what? “You know, Ashley. The hurt that he caused you. Believe me, Ashley. He hurt you and you know it.” Truth is, I did know he hurt me. But I never acknowledged it. It was almost like I refused to. So at that moment, I got on my knees and prayed. I asked God for forgiveness for holding onto this hurt that I didn’t even know was still there. Then I said something that I felt kind of silly saying. But I am so glad that God loves us so much that he sees our silliness and doesn’t ignore it. I said to God, “Okay, God. I know that this is strange. I know that Shane is there with you. If there is any way possible, please let him know that I forgive him.” I’m telling you, it felt a little weird asking God to help me forgive a person that was in heaven. Okay, a lot weird! The peace and joy that I felt when I got up was amazing. I don’t think words could do it justice nor could it begin to describe what I felt.

In the Captivating Journal, there is a statement by Eldridge. He says, “We have to allow God to bring the hurt up from our pasts.” Neil Anderson is quoted in the journal as well. He says “for if your forgiveness doesn’t visit the emotional core of your life, it will be incomplete.” Incomplete. Missing a piece. I had no idea that this was missing from my life. Our lives are incomplete without forgiveness. Sometimes, we think we have it all. Yet, we are missing one of the main parts that will help make our lives complete in Christ. Do you want to be whole, complete? Restored? Free to be who you were created to be in Christ? What’s holding you back? Could it be that there is forgiveness that you need to offer?



Scars. We’ve all had our fair share of them. We’ve got one from the time that we rolled off of our parent’s bed and hit the edge of the nightstand. And there’s the one from burning our hand after we touched the stove, even after we were told not to. And the ones that came from attempting to be Evil Knievel on our bikes or skates. And who can forget the scars that come from chicken pox. We just couldn’t resist scratching and picking!

We all have scars on the outside. Scars that are visible. But what about the scars on the inside? The ones that aren’t visible on the outside and the ones that we try so desperately to cover up or forget. The scars that come from years of addiction. The scar from the marriage that failed. The scar that came from the eating disorder. The scars from sexual abuse. No matter where they may have came from, the event leaves a mark. One that will not go away. Even though we wish that it would. We would do anything or give anything to make the scar go away.

What is a scar? Dictionary. Com gives two very profound definitions for scars.
a mark left by a healed wound, sore, or burn.

a lasting aftereffect of trouble, esp. a lasting psychological injury resulting from suffering or trauma

The first definition is obvious. It is a mark that is left after something has healed from injury. This deals with the scars on the outside. This is how you know that an injury has occurred. The mark remains. The second definition best describes the invisible scars. The ones that no one else can see or that no one else knows exist. I am struck by the phrase “lasting aftereffect”. Scars are permanent, lasting. If something has an aftereffect, then you still feel the effects long after the injury as occurred. So this best describes our invisible scars. Even though the injury is long gone, the effects are not.

I came to this realization about scars after realizing that one of my scars was causing me great difficulty. It was a scar that no one knew that I had, not even my best friend. The scar of painful loss. My ex boyfriend was killed during my freshman year of college. We weren’t dating at the time, but we were still very close and had the accident not occurred, we probably would have gotten back together. Our relationship was different, strange at times, even. Our relationship was not always the best. He hurt me deeply. I was never good enough. Nothing I did seemed to make it work. I spent a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to prove myself and make him love me. I knew that he cared about me, but I knew that I would never mean as much to him as he meant to me.

When Shane died, my heart broke. I questioned God. I did not understand. I literally felt like I was going to die of a broken heart. I was not sure if my heart would ever heal. God slowly healed my heart. However, there was still a scar there. The scars of rejection, pain, and hurt. I felt like my heart had a huge scar running from side to side. Nearly ten years later, I was still feeling the pain of the scar.

I pleaded with God to remove the scar. I did not understand why it was still there, still causing me pain. I knew that over time, scars faded. This one still felt fresh and raw. I was praying one night and the Lord revealed something to me about scars. I felt Him gently tell me in my heart, “Scars are not a bad thing. They prove that you survived. They prove that you are still alive. They prove that you lived through the trial.” I can’t begin to tell you the peace that filled my heart as I took in those words.

I was reminded that Jesus had scars. The scars from where the nails pierced His hands and His feet. The scar from where the spear pierced His side. Even after Jesus had conquered death and rose from the grave, His scars remained. He showed the scars to Thomas. He had Thomas put his hand where the nails had pierced.

God could have removed the scars from Jesus’ hands, feet and side when He raised Him from the dead. He did not. I think that the scars were left to remind us that Jesus was human. He felt pain. He had scars just like we have. Jesus faced the most horrific death. He was beaten beyond recognition, had nails driven into His hands and His feet, had His side pierced, and had His head crowned with thorns.

Jesus was scarred. He lived to tell about it. He lived to tell about the tremendous pain that He went through at the cross, and of the victorious resurrection from the dead. He did not let the scars of the past dictate His future. He knew that they were there, but He also knew of the God who had healed Him.

We still may be dealing with the present hurting of our past scars. Put your hand in the Nail Scarred hand of Jesus. Let the precious redeeming blood that flowed from those hands cover your scars. Be reminded that you are alive. You survived. You lived through it. You are living today to tell about all that He has done for you.

Starting Out

I've often debated on whether or not to create a blog or not. It seems like I'm a slave to technology enough as it is. Lately, the Lord has rebirthed my love for writing. I've always said that if I weren't a social worker, I would like to be a writer or a speaker. I had an article published in the February issue of CS magazine and have a story or testimonial that will be in a book that will be out in March of 2009. Lately, He has been showing me some wonderful truths...truths that I feel like people, especially women, need to hear. So this it...we'll see how often I post. It doesn't really matter if anyone reads it or not...i find that writing is good therapy for me. So enjoy!