A New Creation

A New Creation

Hello Friends,

Thank you all for sticking with me this far. Some of you have been following my journey since day one. Thank you to my new followers as well. The past three years have been a roller coaster ride. Not the fun kind, but definitely necessary.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve carried around fear and sadness. It has caused me to make decisions, good and bad, that most people wouldn’t understand.

Three years ago, God started to gut me like a fish, removing all of the remnants of each encounter, each bad decision, each mistake. All of the shame, guilt, fear, sadness, etc. had to come out in order for me to walk in the purpose God has set for me. And that crap hurt! Sometimes still does. He has removed certain people out of my life that I once thought I could never live without. God has helped me forgive those who I thought I would never be able to forgive. He has given me the strength to love those I was determined to hate.

What’s the difference between the Ashley three years ago and the Ashley today? Complete and utter surrender. Understanding that my life is not my own and when I try to control my life and the outcome of certain situations, I get in my own way and fall straight on my face. Ugh! And man, that hurts, too! I ultimately create my own misery.

I used to believe people when they would say, “Life is pain. You just have to deal with it.” That’s not true. I’m going to shame the devil by dropping this fun fact: once we accept Jesus, surrender to God’s will and not our own, life becomes beautiful. Reread that. Everything is possible that once felt impossible. We are able to pour into other people what God is pouring into us. We begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I’m not saying things arent going to be challenging, but I have good news. The more challenges we face, the more opportunity we have to draw closer to Abba Father. The closer we draw to God, the more we trust Him. The more we trust Him, the easier we are able to see our circumstances through our Fathers eyes and not our own, which is awesome because my vision is tore up from the floor up. OK, maybe I shouldn’t bring that phrase back, but I tried. 🤪

The picture above is me in 2018; sick, depressed, 99 pounds soaking wet. I was stressed all of the time. I was trying to do everything in my own strength (which as you can see wasn’t much), including trying to control those around me to fit my agenda on what I thought life was suppose to look like.

The above picture was taken five days ago. I am a healthy 100 and something pounds 😁 and have completely surrendered to the Lord who’s agenda for my life and the lives of my children is so much better than my own.

The road to recovery is not a easy one, nor is it for the faint in heart. Every morning I have to pull up my big girl draws and remind myself that Gods will is better than mine. Surrendering is tough, especially when you’re stubborn, selfish, and arrogant like myself. But thank the Lord Jesus Christ that I get a fresh start each morning to do better than the day before.

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I love each and every one of you. Please don’t forget to pray for one another. Remember, we can disagree and still love on each other.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. -2 Corinthians 5:17

Irrational Fears

Hey Friends,

Today, I would like to share an irrational fear that I have. Thefreedictionary.com defines an irrational fear as:

a. a persistent, abnormal, and phobia of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous.

b. A strong fear, dislike, aversion.

For example, my baby girl, Hannah was deathly afraid of pink cotton balls when she was a toddler. I have no idea why. She wasn’t going to daycare or preschool at the time because I was a stay at home mom. I always had white cotton balls in the house, so I guess she wasn’t used to seeing the pink ones. I’m not sure what caused the fear, but every time she saw one, she would scream bloody murder.

I took advantage of this fear by placing them around objects that I didn’t want her touch in the house, like, the old school water heaters. Yea, it was a little mean, but she never burned her hands. She always wanted to touch the heaters, even when they were scolding hot during the winter, but as soon as I placed pink cotton balls around them, she never touched them again.

One of my irrational fears is being judged. Since I was a kid, I would always worry about what other people thought of me, but it has gotten worse in my adult years. I would find myself living for other people, doing what I thought other people wanted me to do. Honestly, sometimes it worked out in my favor, but most of the time it didn’t. Ultimately, I paid a very hefty cost; not knowing who I really am and years of unnecessary depression and heartache.

When I would do something that was more “me”, people would be confused and say, “this isn’t the Ashley I know. The Ashley I know would never say or do something like that.” When in fact, yes, this Ashley would do or say that. No one knew the real me, and quite frankly, a lot of people still don’t.

I keep a lot of my life private because of that fear. I don’t handle confrontation well because of that fear. People feel like I’m not approachable in fear of my reaction. There have been times I have had a full-blown anxiety attack because I was accused of doing something that I didn’t do. Instead of simply saying I didn’t do it, I was so distraught at the fact that someone thought I was capable of doing such a thing. Then I would become worried because then I would think, “Am I capable of doing that?” Then I would think about for days and days and days because of what this person said I did. See how much time is being wasted?

I would like to think that my family and friends can come to talk to me about things that are concerning them when it comes to something they see is happening that I am unaware of. Maybe my addiction wouldn’t have gone as far as it did if I wasn’t too afraid to speak up and say, “I need help!” No. I kept it all in because I didn’t want, 1. My family to judge me and 2. To be gossiped about.

Gossip is becoming the new normal in society because we think that everyone does it. Well, maybe it’s not new since God warns us against it in His Word.

“ ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. “ ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD. -Leviticus 19:16

I won’t argue that the majority of people gossip, yes, but it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. I have done my fair share of gossiping and to be honest, I never feel good about when I am done. I always feel like I’ve betrayed the person that I was talking about. And I never want to do that.

Venting, on the other hand, is completely different because you are explaining to a third party about what happened between you and another person. Gossiping is talking about someone else’s business, which shouldn’t be none of our business. Even if you are concerned, it should be shared with you and that person, and maybe another trusted person out of love. Not talked about carelessly. I keep a lot of things bottled up in fear that my situation will be talked about for entertainment purposes.

You may be saying I am overreacting. I would agree with you. That is why this fear is irrational. It controls my life. It keeps me in bondage.  I am unable to share what is happening and ask for help in fear of judgment. I shouldn’t care what my loved ones think, but I do. I shouldn’t allow what someone says about me dictate my every move, but sometimes I do.

I am getting better at it each day because I am learning that:

  1. People will talk about me regardless and what they say about me is not my problem. But how I react to gossip is my problem.
  2. God will take care of the people who choose to gossip. Yes, the majority of us may do it, but in God’s eyes, it’s still sin.
  3. People will judge and talk about what they don’t understand. They will always see what’s in front of them and sometimes that is not always the truth.
  4. God knows everything. He sees and hears everything. His opinion of what I am doing and how I am doing it is the only opinion that matters.
  5. In this life, I only aim to please my heavenly Father, which is to live by His Word and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

I’ll conclude with a short story:

When I was a young kid, my oldest sister lived in New York. I admired her so much and so did my other family members. Everyone loved her. I remember when she would come home to visit, she would receive so much love and attention. I wanted the same. A friend of mines gave me a bag of marbles that we used to play with. They were really pretty and were being kept in this awesome fabric bag. Before she moved, my big sister was always there for me. Made sure I had the nicest clothes and my hair was always done. She always took care of me. Looking back, I think I was missing that and didn’t realize it after she had moved away. She was my escape from the chaos that we experienced in a small apartment almost filled with 9 other people. On one of her visits home, my moms living room was filled with laughter, hugs, and excitement for her arrival.

I quickly thought, “I want love, hugs, and kisses”. I was so small, I felt like I was being looked over or ignored. So, as quickly as I could, I ran and gave her my bag of marbles. I didn’t have much to play with during that time, so it was a big deal that I parted with them. As memory serves, she took them, looked at them, and thanked me. That was it. I thought, “I want more”. I craved more. I wanted her to pick me up in the air, smile really big, and give me the tightest hug a person could give.

I wanted her to tell me how much she loved the marbles and that it was the best gift she had ever gotten. But that didn’t happen. My expectations were too high. I immediately began to feel that her reaction had to do with my character. I internalized it, thinking that I wasn’t good enough. That was my first thought of never wanting to share what was close to my heart with anyone. That I couldn’t do anything to make her happy the way that she has made me happy. I felt useless.

Years have passed as I have completely forgotten that moment, that defined, with many other moments, during my youth, what I thought about myself. How fearful I would become of judgment and rejection. Then I didn’t know that I would soon try to find my self worth in the response to what people said about me and make awful mistakes related to that way of thinking. One day about five years ago, my sister was cleaning out her closet. I was resting on her bed, playing with my baby boy Christian, as my sister and I talked about life. Then she said something that brought yours truly to tears. She said, “Hey, do you remember when you were little and you gave me that bag of marbles?” I said, “Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about that. Yea, I remember.” Then she says, “Do you know I still have them. Every time I travel, I take them with me wherever I go. I never leave home without them.”

Wow! That blew my mind. The fact that she has not only kept those marbles for over 20 years, but she never travels without them meant more to me than a brief moment of praise when I first gave them to her. It means that every time she got on a plane or drove a long distance to go on vacation or travel for work, I was always with her. And my sister doesn’t do light traveling. She has always been one to travel all over the country multiple times a year.

Do you see how the enemy used me as a young child to stir up the fear and insecurity inside of me? Being a kid, of course, I didn’t know what was happening, but this is a perfect example of how the enemy will even attack us as children to further his agenda; kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).  I told you that story to say, I no longer want to be afraid of what people think about me. Sometimes we never know what people are thinking about us. All this time, I never knew that she held those marbles so dear to her heart. I want to concentrate on the good things that people are saying about me and leave the negative things to God because He knows who I am and I know whose I am.

We have to live our lives for the glory of our Father all while keeping our eyes focused on Jesus. Everything else is irrelevant.

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? -Luke 12:22-26

 

Resentment At Its Finest

Resentment At Its Finest

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” -Colossians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NLT

Hey Friends,

This is the scripture that comes to mind when I think about how much I don’t want to forgive a person that has hurt me. I feel like if I don’t forgive them, in some way, I would be hurting them the same way they hurt me. In my last post Continued Cycle of Forgiveness I mentioned how not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. If you haven’t read it, click the link above. Choosing not to forgive someone will hurt you more then it will ever hurt the other person.

Today, I want to talk about unforgiveness’ first cousin, resentment. According to dictionary.com, resentment is defined as “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.” I like to think of it like it’s unforgiveness marinated in a coat of anger. You could be unforgiving and be sad about the hurt that was caused. But then there is the anger that comes afterward when we fester and think about how we were wronged over and over again?

Have you ever been in an argument and once it was over you thought about what you could have said? I have. And the more I thought about it, the angrier I would become. “Why didn’t I say this? Why didn’t I really speak my mind? Why did I hold back?” But if I chose to let it go after an argument or experiencing a confrontation with someone, and I would let it go immediately afterward, it wouldn’t hurt, I wouldn’t be angry, I would never think about it again. I would be at peace.

Truthfully, this is why I don’t like conflict It would take me forever to get over it. I would think about it. I would think about what they said, and what I should have said in response. I would replay words, body language, etc. until I would be in tears all over again. So since I don’t know how to move forwards, most of the time, I chose to dodge it like the bullet that it is.

Unless we check our unforgiveness at God’s doorstep as soon as it rears its ugly head, we will find ourselves drenched in bitterness, indignation, anger, and hard feelings. We create a wedge between ourselves and God. And resentment is very subtle. It’s sneaky like a thief in the night, robbing our peace without us even knowing it. All we’ll know is that we are waking up angry or frustrated. Resentment feeds on your peace and joy like a plague.

Sometimes it starts at the very beginning when we choose not to say sorry when the Holy Spirit leads us to. Or when we choose to gossip about the mishap with someone else instead of talking it through with the other party involved. Or when we choose to stuff our feelings, numbing the pain with drugs, binging on Netflix, or ignoring that person completely because it feels better to be mad and play the victim.

When untreated, resentment will eat away at our peace, our joy, our happiness, and our soul. We would find ourselves becoming triggered by unrelated events because it reminds us what that person said or did, thus making us angry all over again.

Recently, it has been brought to my attention that I’ve been holding onto resentment towards someone I love. I thought that all was forgiven and in the past, but then, something happened to bring all of those old feelings up. I began experiencing extreme anger and disgust for this person, but I didn’t know why. In my mind, I had forgiven them for what they have done, but God knew my heart.

He knew it was getting in the way of Him and I. So my Father began peeling away at it, like a good Father would, to ensure His child would be equipped with all I needed in the future for if and when this happens again. He’s ripping off the bandage that I put over my broken leg and taking me into surgery so that I can become completely healed. If you’ve ever broken a bone before you know exactly what I mean. The healing process is painful and very uncomfortable, but then, you’re good to go afterward.

So how do we start the healing process?

Saying yes when Jesus asks us, Do we want to be healed? It’s not a literal question. It’s more like, will we do what it takes to become healed? He knows it’ll hurt, but our Father equips us, never leaves us. He tells us to lean into him for comfort and strength. As long as you take one step at a time, He will do the rest. I assure you.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13

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Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. -Psalm 23:4

Know that this is a lifetime commitment. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the journey is worth it. Soon you will begin to see the fruits of the Spirit blossoming from your spirit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” -Galatians 5:22, 23

I believe God asks us to forgive, not just because it will heal our own wounds, but because almost 100% of the time when someone hurts us, it has more to do with the storm brewing inside of them than us personally. We only hurt ourselves when we allow their storm to spill into our hearts, making it’s home in our spirit, causing a tidal wave of destruction in our lives.

It’s hard not to take a transgression that has been committed against us personally. All we can do is look to Jesus, ask him to replace our hearts with his, so we can move forward without bitterness holding us captive and resentment getting comfortable in our souls, thus, stopping the blessings that God has in store for us.

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I pray this blesses you as much as it has blessed me. This was a long one, but I truly believe that I am not the only one who needed to hear this today from the Holy Spirit. Please remember to pray for one another and I love you all.

‘Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.’ -Proverbs 4:23

Hope Is…

Hope Is…

Good Day Friends,

Hope. By definition, dictionary.com defines hope as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, a feeling of trust, want something to happen or be the case”. Having hope can give us fuel to accomplish more than we have ever imagined for ourselves. Hope can make or break our dreams, our realities, and our faith. Hope can be dangerous but in a good way.

Lately, I’ve been lacking hope. At least I thought I have. Hope that I will get through the circumstances that I am faced with every day. During this season in my life, I’ve found that hopelessness is more dangerous than hope itself because hopelessness brings a wide range of other emotions that could possibly burn me to the ground; fear, turmoil, chaos, envy, disappointment, bitterness, etc.

Hopelessness is dark and confusing. It’s tricky and manipulative. Hopelessness will have you thinking lies about yourself and God. But God, more than anything would like for us to have hope. He knows how important it is because He knows that we have doubts. He knows that we are confused creatures. He’s not surprised when we question Him about the decisions He makes or the things that He allows to happen. Yet, our Father doesn’t want us to lose hope.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. -Hebrews 11:1

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13

Why does God want us to have hope?

Hope is:

  • Living a life beyond our pain
  • Looking to God with expectation for the good He wants us to have in our lives. He genuinely cares.
  • Trusting that God has good things in store for us
  • Having confidence in His abilities to make all things work out for good

When we fall into hope, we fall into the arms of our loving Father. A Father who always catches us with the infinite promise that He will carry us from our disappointments, pain, and disparity into a new life with Him and Jesus Christ.

Once we do that, we will find ourselves experiencing new ventures and opportunities that get us beyond hopelessness. A place of freedom that we can only experience when God carries and catches us.

So today, moment by moment, have hope. Even if it’s small, you’re still giving God something to work with.

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I pray that you are finding God’s hope for you. Also, please remember to pray for one another. We all need hope right now.

Funny Friday: 1st Grade Answers

Funny Friday: 1st Grade Answers

Hey Friends,

Welcome to Funny Friday!!! I pray you all are having a wonderful start to your weekend. This week has been filled with unexpected blessings and fruitful experiences. God has been rewarding me for my growth and it has been absolutely beautiful. My frustration and anxiety have been down AND I taught a small group for the very first time at my church. It went really well and I can’t wait to do it again. It may seem small, but one thing I am learning is to celebrate the small stuff; that is what makes life more enjoyable.

 

 

Ok! Enough about me. Let’s get to why you’re really here. Time to laugh your butt off with today’s joke brought to you by www.Inspire21.com.

1st grader answers

A first-grade teacher had twenty-five students in her Clarkston, MI class. She presented each child in her class the first half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. It’s hard to believe these were actually done by first graders. Their insight may surprise you. While reading, keep in mind that these are just 6-year-olds because the last one is classic.

1. Don’t change horses……………………… until they stop.
2. Strike while the……………………………. bug is close.
3. It’s always darkest before………………. Daylight Saving Time.
4. Never underestimate the power of….. termites.
5. You can lead a horse to water but……. how?
6. Don’t bite the hand that………………… looks dirty.
7. No news is…………………………………… impossible.
8. A miss is as good as a……………………. Mister.
9. You can’t teach an old dog new………. math.
10. If you lie down with dogs, you’ll…….. stink in the morning.
11. Love all, trust……………………………… me.
12. The pen is mightier than the…………. pigs.
13. An idle mind is……………………………. the best way to relax.
14. Where there’s smoke there’s………… pollution.
15. Happy the bride who…………………….gets all the presents.
16. A penny saved is…………………………. not much.
17. Two’s company, three’s………………… the Musketeers
18. Don’t put off till tomorrow what……. you put on to go to bed.
19. Laugh and the whole world laughs
with you, cry and……………………….. you have to blow your nose.
20. There are none so blind as……………. Stevie Wonder.
21. Children should be seen and not……. spanked or grounded.
22. If at first you don’t succeed…………… get new batteries.

23. You get out of something only
what you………………………………….. see in the picture on the box.
24. When the blind lead the blind……….. get out of the way.

25. Better late than………………………….. pregnant.

 

Thank you all for sticking with me and I pray you all have a safe and wonderful weekend. Love you all and please remember to pray for one another.

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. -Mark Twain