• why friends...

    Why Friends?

    “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”-C.S. Lewis

    Today, I would like to write a tribute to FRIENDS. You can live life without them but why would you? Friends have been instruments that have made my life sweet when life wasn’t sweet at all. This was an area that I had neglected but now see the full benefit and blessing of it. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved people and loved being around people. It’s just that I had never put forth effort on friendship like I had on other relationships in my life. I’ve now experienced the power of friendship.

    I would have to say that it was friends that pulled me out of the pit of despair. When I think back on tough times, it wasn’t answers or cures that brought healing to me, it was people who listened and comforted. It was friends that reminded me of who I am.

    “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

    Now through many life lessons, I realize that it is friendships that make life better and even more so, ME better. When I am able to sit down with a group of friends and laugh, my soul is restored. Proverbs 17:22 says, A merry heart does good, like medicine,but a broken spirit dries the bones. Many days I need a good dose of laughter with friends. After a night with the girls, I can come home refreshed and ready to be the best wife and mom I can be. Proverbs 11:25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Refresh yourself!!

    God never intended for us to live in solitude. He also never intended on “my 4 and no more” living. Life should be shared. Each friend can add something different to your life. I have some friends who are nuts! Fun and laughter is the goal when we are together.  Other friends are the rocks that I go to when I need some straight advice or a lending ear without announcing it to the world on a loud speaker. When you have a true friend, they are not inconvienced with your life. Galatians 6:2 says that we are to bear or carry one anothers burdens. That can be a heavy task but more hands make the load lighter. I will treasure and cherish the times that I have sat on my couch thinking, “Ok God, what next?”, only to have someone walk through the door and tell me how God is going to use me. What Life Givers!!!!  It was friends that lightened my life and brought joy. I am a better person surrounded by my girls:) Friends add so much to my life. Proverbs 27:17 says, As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. I pray that I can be a blessing to a friend like others have been to me.

    I say take care of your friendships like the treasures they are. They are gifts that have been entrusted to you.

     

    with love,

    Ashley

  • The Sin of Unbelief

    As we know, life is about seasons. Through the ups and downs God gives us direction and promises in His Word. Many times in my life I have been reminded of the promises or instruction that apply to my situation from Gods Word. It is not enough to receive the promises, I have to actually believe them. You would think it’s pretty common sense…”Why would you believe the enemy when he is the father of lies instead of the God of truth?” I asked myself the same question. The enemy can track our weaknesses and struggles. He takes the truth and disguises it. He will try to convince you that you are not capable of victory, nothing has ever changed or that’s just the way you were made. If you bite the hook on this he wins. He takes a truth and twists it into a lie. Doubt can destroy. Have you heard the statement, “Hold on to God’s truth”? Cling to the truth like a life raft. It will bring life to you. I have held two truths in my hand before and had to chose which truth is life-giving. Maybe you are also holding two truths. We sometimes get impatient in the process of what we are going through and begin to  believe “maybe that doesn’t apply to me or maybe I heard wrong”.  I came to a road block in my healing process and wondered what I was doing wrong. It took a friend pointing me to James 1 to open my eyes.

    I had been fed a line. I had gotten distracted on my circumstances  and the things around me instead of looking forward to the future God had for me. I had turned aside from all of His promises and focused on everything else. You see, I had been given specific truths for my life. Instead of highlighting them, I marked the existing circumstances in BOLD. I focused so much on the present that I couldn’t see the future, nor did I even believe it was still my future. I’m thankful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I had become like an Israelite murmuring and complaining in the desert. I had gotten stale and ungrateful in the process. I had become double-minded and tossed.   In James 1:6 it is clear 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. 

    OUCH! Decide what you will believe.  It may not be that you don’t believe God. The unbelief comes when you elevate the circumstance above what God says about it. Example: “I’m hurting from the situation.” This is true. The other truth is Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Yes, you may be in pain but you have to make the choice, “Do I want to focus on the pain or focus on the Healer that binds up my wounds?” Whatever your circumstances are, you must choose to look to the Giver of Life and believe what He says about the situation.

    You must stand against the enemy. There is nothing worse than seeing a child bullied by another and refuse to stand up for what is right. Sometimes we can become bullied.The fear and control will paralyze you. You must stand your ground! Romans 8: 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. The enemy will not get weary and leave you alone. He knows what is at stake. You have the opportunity to lead others to Christ and build the kingdom. Let me encourage you… YOU CAN STAND! God has given us everything we need to guard ourselves and be victorious. You have been promised a hope and a future. You are a child of Christ. Hold onto that and don’t be double minded. Believe the truth of God’s Word and make your focus that, not every “fact” that you know.

    Unbelief is sin. It is a subtle weapon that can paralyze you and keep you from the promises you have been given. Let’s highlight the Truth of God over our circumstances and live a fruitful, victorious life!

    Mark 11:24  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

    with love,

    Ashley

  • love wins…the end

    How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

    How Deep the Father’s Love for us, How vast beyond all measure, That He should give his life for us,To make a wretch His treasure

    His love for us is so deep, I will never know it’s depths.I want to spend my days boasting of His goodness. Without pain and suffering, I don’t know if i could have experienced the loving comfort of His arms like I have.  I had an experience at the beginning of August at a conference in Birmingham. At this point I was so exhausted from battling thoughts, dreams and feelings. In the end I realized it was the Holy Spirit giving me revelation. My prayer through this season was “God, take these thoughts from me or bring to light the truth”. For months I prayed this. I just couldn’t shake the constant daily thoughts about the unthinkable. As I stood in the sanctuary  with a thousand others the band played. There was a different feeling.At one point I think I  leaned over to someone and told them how great the sound was. It seemed so full and perfect. As a pastor’s wife I thought “They are really annointed and have a great sound system:) As the song began (I don’t even remember what song it was), I began to tell God, “I’m so sorry that I haven’t been strong. I’m so sorry I can’t stop having theses thoughts. I know I should  have more control than this. I know I have disappointed You”. While I hung my head in shame because I wasn’t casting down thoughts,  I heard God so clearly speak to my heart and say “I’m not dissappointed in you. I love you and am proud of you”. I then felt someone tall and strong in front of me and as I barely lifted my hands close to my chest and bowed my head, I felt a strong embrace. I was held and comforted as I wept into His chest. I have felt God’s presence before but never so physically. He was willing to physically comfort me. He knew the time was coming that would reveal the truth of all I had felt. I had to know that He was there and had never left me.

    He has been a guide, comforter and a strength like I have never known before. Because you go through difficulties doesn’t mean that He has taken His hand from you. This is the refining of our faith. It’s almost like a surgery that is removing things that do you no good, like pride and insecurity and replacing them with trust, faith and security in Christ.  He is the real supplier of all my needs (spiritual, mental, emotional, physical). When I felt alone, He was there speaking to me. When I felt like I had to do something but didn’t know what to do, He was there working it out for me. When I felt beaten up from the battle, He reminded me that He sent angels on my behalf to fight for me. He binds up the wound of the broken hearted and carries the weak. That is not the end of the story. I have been strengthened by flexing muscles I never knew I had. My dreams are bigger, my trust is stronger. Ever time I had a doubt through this, the Lord sent me a promise. If you are wondering if God is personal or if he really cares about you….. Let me tell you that He does! He is not some far off god. He is the comforter, the strong arm lifting you.

    Psalm 119:50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life

    Isaiah 51:3 The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing