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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

God does not do long distance relationships.

There are so many thoughts and ideas and emotions that have been running through my head like a kid on the first day of snow.

Thoughts about community, about relationships, about our hearts. Ideas about Jesus and about justice. Emotions that come out in tears, in joy and also in hope.

My heart has come wide open like a field and what I know is that this man named Jesus, His love is what I need.



Earlier this week, I was talking to a good friend of mine and it led to a conversation that my Father started to also have with me.  I believe there are so many conversations He wants to have with us - can we be the people who will drop anything and everything just to listen? 

It was a conversation about space. This space. This space we feel between us and Him.

The Lord started to talk to me about any space that I feel between me and Him is not because He put it there, but because I did, because someone convinced it should be there. Jesus came so that there would be no more space between us and the Father. None. Zero.

Why? For love and for you.  



And yet sometimes we find ourselves struggling with this space and this distance. Like He is there, but is He really there?

Maybe it is shame or fear or our tendency to run away and hide. Maybe we see sin or darkness or pain in our lives and so we create distance, we create space.

But it is like I can see Him and His heart is beating fast at the sight of you His love. Do you know that He is closer than you know, closer than the oxygen you breathe in and out of your lungs, closer than the song in your heart, closer than human touch.

And He tells you this space is a lie. 



We cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that He is looking away or walking away, seeing something in our lives He just cannot handle. Oh my Lord. He is so much stronger than that.

If there are things in your life, like I know are in mine, that convince you that there should be space. Can I just say, maybe it is time to forget about those things. Leave them alone. Keep your past in your past.
Because don't I know it that the Father is telling you He loves you every moment of every day like a song that will truly never end.

We have got to stop looking at our lives and deciding for whatever reason that we ought to punish ourselves. Punishing ourselves by drawing back from God. Our greatest weapon in this life is not how well we speak or pray or do but how well and how fast we get before Him and swallow up that space with our hunger.

This week, any distance we feel in between Him and us, let's swallow it up with our hunger. Let's walk across that water. Let's open our eyes to revelation and say, Father I know You love me.

You're loved because you're loved because you're loved. Nothing in the entire universe could ever change this. Not even you.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Possess moments with God.

The Kingdom of God is about moments. All throughout history and in our present time, the Lord is looking for moments; He is looking for moments where He can land and inhabit places and people. We stir up the very movements of heaven with the gaze of our eyes. 

Sometimes I can only picture God looking upon the earth for these moments, and quickly He finds Himself turning to the armies of heaven and saying, “Go now!” Stretching forth His hand, breathing the atmosphere of heaven, mandating a life with the glory; He moves upon moments.



It only takes one moment to raise an army. It only takes one moment to slay a giant. It only takes one moment to have Jesus heal you. It only takes one moment to walk on water. It only takes one moment to conceive the promise.

Those things we are jealous for to see in our day; revivals, awakenings, movements of reformation, were born out of moments. God is looking for those who will perceive moments that will become movements. Sometimes when God wants to do something, He looks for someone who will first perceive it and press into it. 

There are realms and riches of God that many of us have never touched, but just because we have not touched them, do not mean they don’t exist. Rather there is a realm of the “more,” a realm of perpetual increase that we were made to live inside of.



He is mentoring a generation how to hear what He is doing, seize the moment of divine activity, and say, “We won’t let this pass us by.” There are movements that are in waiting in moments. He has enlisted you.

Ezekiel and God in the valley; God asks Him one question, Ezekiel prophesies over those bones and in a moment an army is born. Ezekiel seized a moment with God. He had an encounter with God that demonstrated what God wanted to do, he didn’t let it pass him by and the spirit of revival fell on a bunch of bones. Is there room in your theology for that? It took one moment for God to raise up an entire army again. Let that provoke you to jealousy. 

Encounter Him on purpose. When you get in a room of people, ask Him how He is moving among them. Seize moments and press into them by faith. Guaranteed, I know you will soon look at me and tell me that God’s movement was born out of a moment with Him.



You are anointed for this hour in Jesus’ name. All of heaven is your inheritance. Everyone that has told you that you wouldn’t make it or you couldn’t do it, they are silenced by the hush of heaven. Go possess moments with God. Friends I promise you; those fires inside of you weren’t just made to be stoked occasionally, but they were made so that you could possess moments that could become movements released upon the earth; He is alive and He is after all of us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Family doesn't end when you turn eighteen.

Tears scattered upon my cheeks this evening.

In these recent years, I have felt this loss chasing my heart down its winding streets. This loss. It is like I am standing either in the morning after or the eve of something being snatched from me and what I know.

Tonight was one of those nights.

And this time instead of hiding from this onset of emotion, I decided to confront it. Because what I have learned is that hiding never solves anything, it only makes pain seem like the victor. 

This loss. 



It was like a couple months ago, I woke up and realized I am not ten years old anymore. It might seem like a given, but I think we need to wake up to that sometimes.

That no one else is responsible for you, except for you. 

Lately there have been a number of people who meant so much to me as a child that have been passing away or struggling or gone. And it moves my heart and it makes me think.

It is like we spend our time growing up surrounded by this group of people we call family. We grow up over dinners, morning cartoons, jokes that make no sense and memories. There is accountability. There is rivalry. There is noise. There is fighting and drama and mistakes, but there is also laughter, whispers and hugs. These are the people you love the best, you hurt the most and you fight the hardest for.



You spend sixteen or eighteen or twenty or thirty years on constant community and then you just stop. No one told me that it would feel like this or that I would even think about it, but I do.

Sometimes I miss the accountability and I miss the noise.

It is convincing me that family is not supposed to be this thing for awhile and then it ends, but its signing up forever. My parents will forever be my mom and dad and my sister will forever be my first friend.

That doesn't end just because I turned eighteen. 

And it makes me wonder if we need to get such a better idea of what it means to be the family of God.



There is a commitment bursting on the insides of that, that is real and intentional and outrageous.

It tells me that noise is healthy because it means you're surrounded. It reminds me to make time to celebrate the laughter and the jokes and the stay up all night and tell me your dreams kind of days. But also to not forget the mistakes and the fears and the loss because it is those things that bind us and change us and point us to Jesus.

Friends, we need to fight for one another. We gotta sit with each other.  We must play together. We have to listen to one another's dreams and we need to place our hands on the hearts of each other's and say, "you're alive, so stop worrying so much."

Let's sit over meals and hear the hearts of our brothers, our sisters. Let's bend down and blow bubbles and play with our sons, our daughters. Let's drink hot cocoa at the fireplace and hear the stories of our mothers, our fathers. 

And let's remember.

We are a family. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Food and I have an ugly relationship.

Alright, I admit it. Me and food have an ugly relationship. 

You see, there have been all these times where I just did not cook it right, treated an ingredient improperly, mixed it with the wrong things, and maybe destroyed dishes in the process of my mad scientist kitchen skills. Oh and I cannot forget about all the times I poisoned myself due to my sheer kitchen talent and how I laid in bed that night and promised myself i would get better next time.

I have watched people sit there horrified, shocked, confused and surprised as I went about cooking my meals. Sometimes comical, sometimes frustrating and sometimes plain ridiculous.

At times my obsessive personality collides with the beauty of food and drink. Somehow a great memory was made or feeling was felt over something and I latched onto it like a leech on a leg. Spinach dip, Coca-Cola, donuts, mashed potatoes, even. Someone give me that and I am happy.

But also unhealthy. 



Something in this stuff gives my heart a little bit of satisfaction. A little bit of something euphoric. A little bit of heaven. But has food been given more influence in my life than it should? 

Talk to a lot of people who have allergies to gluten or wheat or dairy and they can probably tell you that even though it hurts them, they still want it and even though it makes them sick, they will still eat it. My food has been making me sick, but I am still eating it.

A few weeks ago I had a dream and in it, someone comes up to me and says, "What you are eating is killing you, are you finally going to stop?" I responded and said I was not sure. That image has totally been resonating in me.

How can I not be sure? How did food get to the place of dictating the condition of my heart? 





So for me, there are two things I am trying to learn.

I am not going to starve and heart doesn't need donuts and pop to survive. 

Wait, what? 

Yeah, believe it or not. I am not going to starve. There is going to be enough. Jesus will provide for me every day and I don't need to panic and splurge to help Him out. My heart does better on goodness, hope, beauty, revelation and love than it will ever do on sugar.

I don't know about you, but it is kind of news to me. Maybe for someone out there it is news for you too.



And can I just speak to the shame associated with food for a minute? 

Anyone who has ever starved yourself, overate, threw it up, eaten in the dark, hid candy, ate fast food in bed, and felt so ashamed in the morning.

Stop. Stop before you even go there. Your worth and your beauty is not dictated by what you eat. At all.

Sometimes I feel like in this culture of fad dieting and health craze and nutrition mania, we have developed a shame. This underlying messaging of if you're not this weight or this size or eating this for lunch or working out this many times a week, there is something wrong with you.



There is nothing wrong with you. 

Jesus assigned perfection to your identity when He died on that Cross. There is no list on His wall that is keeping record of everything you have wrong and all the bad food you ate the day. Hello, that's not how He works.

And if you look at your own relationship with food and like me, you're saying something is not okay here. I guarantee you that the transformation probably won't happen because you worked at it harder or you made a better plan or kept better lists. The transformation will probably happen when your heart wakes up to the truth of Him and who He says you are in His word.

So this is me trying to make a change. Adding some more apples. Some less sugar. Some more rest. Saying no to shame. And most of all, adding some straight-up, cannot-deny-it, stare-me-in-the-face truth.

That we are beautiful beloved. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Do you see me yet?

I cannot stop thinking about our eyes. Yours and mine and theirs. How in every human being is a wild desire to be seen. It is this thing that terrifies us but yet we crave it like light invading soil. Someone see me. 

This cry is everywhere. 

Someone stop to see me. Someone look me in the eyes. Someone see past what I do and what I say and someone notice the heart bleeding and burning inside of me. Someone. Someone. Someone. 



I am convinced that we need to fight the temptation to look away from those who need our gaze the most. And those could be different for every single person reading these words right now but guaranteed, you are fighting.

Somewhere inside of you, you are fighting.

As if you are standing in the middle of an empty boxing ring, you are caught in this tension of conviction, theology and compassion.

Fighting the temptation to look away because it is making you uncomfortable. You can feel the uneasiness crawling up and down your skin like a mosquito caught in your sleeping bag. But yet every time you turn around and your eyes meet with their own, your heart is gripped as if they reached out through their skin and into yours and captured your soul.

"Do you see me yet?"



And for all of us that voice beckoning us to just look is different. Maybe it is the women being trafficked into slavery as we sit down over these words. Maybe it is the homeless that you walk by every day on your way to work. Maybe it is the babies that have no one's arms to snuggle into tonight. Maybe it is those who we as a family have historically shamed such as prostitutes, homosexuals, sex addicts. Maybe it is closer to home. Maybe it is your kids. Your husband. Your sister.

Do we see them today? 

When it makes you uncomfortable, fight it. When it moves your heart in a way that scares you, embrace it. When it feels easier to just look away, don't.

Because this right here and right now is not about you. It is about them.



Sometimes when we are so busy doing our stuff and ploughing through our plans and promises made, there are people sitting in our very circles wondering if God even sees them.

And we have been given an opportunity to be the very love of God to those around us if we would just slow down and stop. To be those eyes and that voice and those hands and that which the world so desperately needs. 

And whether they are in a third world nation or sitting in our political offices or playing with their toys in the next room, let's see them. Let's actually see them. See their darkness. See their potential. See their cry. And when you do, be quick to speak invaluable truth to the core of who they are. Tell them that about the treasure living on the inside of them waiting to be discovered.

And maybe you think, well why? Isn't that something people should deal with on their own?

Not really.

Because every single human life was made for community and for family and if you are not taking the step to see them, the question stands.

Then who is?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I have always been a daughter.

I’ve always been a daughter to someone. 

Written in eternity, it was chosen before time began, I was to be given to my physical father and mother as a gift and a burden to bear joyfully. Written for the sake of destiny, it was gloriously prepared that I would join arms with spiritual mothers and fathers. I am their daughter. I have always been a daughter.



I have always been a daughter to something. 

There have been seasons where I became a daughter to depression, angst, anxiety and fear. Days where I awoke choosing to be fathered by my circumstances and choosing to be nurtured by the pain of the past. There have been seasons where I became a daughter to performance, strife, competition and jealousy. Days where I chose to submit myself to the Liar who told me I had a debt to pay, who told me I could only be loved if I brought forward gold, who said that if I laid down my life maybe then He would see me.

Bound by a slavery that didn’t even exist, paying a sum that had already been paid, chasing after a wind that was already in my heart, I was finding out that the fire was left at His feet. 



Like a picture in a frame dangling before me teasing my desires, there was a vision that wouldn’t leave me. No matter how much my mind told my heart that He loved me. It didn’t matter. I was being chased and run down by a threat on my identity.

A slave in the fields, nameless, she has a mission, a vision; she will not let go. She is a slave in the field: pulling, ploughing, praying. Relentless, persistent, burning, she is burning for the fulfillment of the picture that dangles before her. But take a look at her body. She is wounded, made black and blue through the bruises of punishment, she shakes at the sight of her Master. Sometimes pacing through the field struck with paranoia, will He notice what I didn’t do, what I missed? Sometimes she forgets her name because she is stuck in the task of the field. If you call out to her, sometimes she hears but she probably won’t respond, she is caught in the fearful work to which she is called.... 

This was me and I thought I was living in His heart. Applauded by family, it was a deceit I did not know. 



But all in one moment. It changed.

The moment I saw Him coming, a triumphant Father, Son and Spirit undivided. Victory radiated off their faces like the sweetness of the sun, three in one, they came. They spoke my name and this time I had to look up, how could I not? In a glorious chord of three, they spoke in unison...

“Ashley....” 

My eyes began to fill with water.

“Why are you in the fields?” 

My heart began to beat like a military drum.

“You belong in My house.” 

My ears began to open like a tomb rolled away.

“Fetch the royal linens, this one is Mine.” 

And the chains fell like dust crumbling off my feet.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Your destiny is not to get famous.

It takes courage to truly be alive. 

It takes courage to take all these coping mechanisms and throw them at the feet of our King like a soldier returning from war laying down his every weapon. These things, these things we use to get through life, to make it through the day, to cope, to comfort the darkness we fight alone. The things we use to forget about pain, chase down our worries, escape and tend to our own hearts.

The things we use to survive. 



There are so many things that come at us. Voices that call for our attention. This crowd called 'they' that we find ourselves moulding our lives around. A culture that never sleeps and a media that climbs upon its soap box and defines our beauty and our worth and our purpose.

Can I just tell you? 

Your significance is not found in how many people follow you or friend you or know you or saw your clip on YouTube. The significance of a newborn infant and the significant of a celebrity standing on the platforms of success are the same. The same.

Your significance is found in that you are loved and nothing in all of the world could change how loved you are.



There is no arrival point. No moment of "Now I have truly made it!" For our generation, a generation that has grown up on American Idol and viral social media; we need to let this message deep inside of us like a song that never gives up.

Because I can guarantee you that even if you're not thinking about it on purpose, the power of fame has probably crept in and set up camp in your heart.

Your destiny is not to be famous. There I said it. It is not your job to get famous or to be discovered. 

It is like we are coping through life with a promise of fame. But I feel like we have been deceived. As if fame is the healing to our wounds. As it is the answer to our questions. As if it is the tower of refuge in our war.

It is not. It is not what you need. And the thing that we are really wondering and asking about is our identity.



It is a trap. Because if your heart is dwelling in insecurity, you are not going to believe that you're amazing even if people tell you every day, even if you you are famous, even if you are rich, even if you are chased down the street by throngs of paparazzi.

Because fame is not the answer to insecurity. Fame is not an identity and it will not fix your identity. 

I don't know today what you truly believe about yourself. That if you sat down and you were honest with yourself and wrote down what you actually thought about you; I am not sure what you would say.

Would those words be filled with life or would those words be filled with death?



You're loved as you are and there is nothing you can do that will make you more loved. Hope is for you simply because you're alive; you my friend are not the sum of your mistakes. You do not need to do something huge just to prove everything and everyone wrong, it is okay.

You can rest. You can discover. You can play. You can hope. You can laugh. You can just be. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ten years ago, I wrote my first poem.

I started writing ten years ago.

It started with one document that had one poem and in the span of that year, I had written over two hundred pages of poetry.

It became an outlet and a canvas for my heart.

In the beginning, my writing was simple and child-like but yet filled with grief and questions that maybe I did not know how to process.

I wanted to share them with you today, a couple from those beginning moments, ten years ago. You can hear the voice of an 13 year old girl whispering in these syllables as if she is looking for hope. And she was. She honestly was.



I want this to encourage you that it starts by picking up the pen and writing. Even if its just for you. Even if you don't feel like you're that good. Even if no one is listening. Just write. 

Next post, I will share with you one of the moments when my writing dramatically changed.

Love to you today,

Ashley

_______

Divorce

Divorce is hard for a kid

I never I would really make it

I also never knew this could ever happen to me

As you can see

Why me? I always thought

I fought and fought

Have you been through this, it will get you awfully blue?

Please say no because it’s the hardest thing  for a kid to go through

Sweet little kiss

 I lie in bed and cry every night

Maybe someday I’ll get this all right

I hear my parents fighting

What’s with all the writing?

Signatures to a divorce, could it be?

I guess I’ll just wait and see

I go to school with a smile on my face 

But under that is a face of disgrace

No one knows what I really go through

And if someone does, who?

I wish of a place where I could go

Where time goes by slow

The castle doors open for anyone

No matter if your work is done

What colour your skin is 

Or if you are a her or his

But now I wake up from this wonderful dream

All I can do now is sit here and scream

Maybe someday our world can be like this

Until then all I need a sweet little kiss

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Plans, discipline and dreamers.

I have been thinking as I usually do, and maybe some would say, a little too much. But I enjoy it. I enjoy the beauty of processing life, wrestling through what I am feeling and dreaming about how to move ahead.

One thing I am really good at is making plans and one thing I sometimes am not so good at is following through with those plans. If you have hung around me long enough, you've probably noticed it.

I cope through life by making a plan. 

When I see something that I do not like in my life, maybe something I am struggling with or something that feels out of control, I get out my pen and my paper and I write out how I will change it.



But the thing is I never actually do the plan.

But why? Why do we get stuck in making plans without any life change?

I think sometimes making plans can deceive us that if we write it out or if we think about it long enough, it equates to actually doing it.

How many of us read magazines, books and articles on eating healthy but can't seem to put down our can of Coke?

How many of us listen to sermon after sermon talking about faithfulness in the secret place but struggle opening up the Bible?

How many of us watch movies, read books or like a Facebook status about fighting poverty but can't seem to stop for them on the street or go visit them where they are?



I am convicted. I am so convicted.

At the core of this beating heart is a dreamer. Dreamers see life with colours and words and ideas. They would go anywhere and do whatever it takes because they do not see what everyone else sees; they see potential, possibility and a promise. Like a wild horse, full of passion and enthusiasm, they find beauty in the chase.

My dreamers and my wild horses, pause with me and breathe.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our pursuit that we forget we are worthy of pursuit too.

And discipline is not your enemy. I know sometimes it feels like it is when all you want to do is shout from the rooftops and run free, but it actually makes you better.



Disciplining yourself is not punishment, it is recognizing how valuable you are. 

We have to stay close to His staff and His rod, not just one or the other. It is His staff that reminds us that we are His, but it is His rod that keeps us safe and from wandering. (See Psalm 23. Like right now. Actually go look.)

We need our dreams. We need the passion and the hope that you bring. You are the poets and the prophets, ushering in the wind of God to our dry bones. So dream big and dream wild.

But remember reality. Look in its windows and in its doors and see the faces and the numbers. Remind your heart that you are worth pursuit, you are worth discipline. And that plans don't happen just because you wrote them out.

Plans happen when you get up every morning and when you start being faithful. 



This is something I am hearing in every corner of my heart today and maybe I just wrote this for me. But I am soaking this in and letting it change me. Changing how I cope and approach and respond.

Maybe discipline and faithfulness are like the harnesses of dreams and passion, not because they hold back but because they lead and protect. 

I know there are somedays when I wake up and my passion needs to be protected and needs to be led by the hand. Because I don't want discouragement to have a chance.

Let the spirit of wisdom fall in Jesus' name.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When we feast on the wrong things.

Sometimes I read words in scripture and they are like oil to my weary heart but yet I feel a tension, a distance between these words and the substance in my own life. I find myself sitting in the middle of a wrestle; the wrestle of who I am today against the woman of God that my heart is hungry to be. We are all, somewhere deep inside, hoping and wondering if we would be everything He has said we are. I find, that hunger is the song singing in my heart.

I am convinced of this; the hungry always get fed. Jesus will always meet hunger. 

I continue to wonder how many of us are burning with a hunger for God deep inside of our hearts, but yet we run and feast on anything but Him. You find us at the altars of entertainment, sexual immorality, deferred hope and selfish ambition. You find us pouring out our lives and our very devotion but yet that empty look still appears in our eyes.  

I think sometimes we do not realize that we are feeding on the very things that are poisoning our identities. 



What if you knew that your consumption determined your victory over loneliness, sin and hopelessness? I believe that it is true that Jesus paid it all and He won the victory, He is the victory.

But are we trampling over His radical love by choosing to satisfy our souls in the things that exalt themselves above Him rather than surrendering to Love Himself? 

How many of us have spent years ingesting sexual immorality in the movies we watch, the jokes we laugh at, the songs we listen to and yet when our hearts finds struggle at hand, we wonder where it came from. Maybe we welcomed the enemy's play the moment we received enjoyment from the very things that strike the heart of heaven. How many us have thrown ourselves into social media and activity to numb the ache in our heart to be found, to be seen, to be loved, to be noticed, to be looked at, to be held? We continue through our days and friends the ache is not gone, it is merely dulled.

We are running from the very Man whose presence can fill our every need and the every ache of our heart. We are hungry. We are so hungry. 



I am consistently fascinated with how we allow our culture to shape us and define us; how things that are culturally acceptable soon become acceptable to us. As we are finding ourselves at all these altars of sexual immorality, deferred hope, entertainment and selfish ambition; I believe the Lord is calling out to us and He is saying: 


“You are subscribing to the very thing I have called you to stand against. You are receiving enjoyment from the very thing I have called you to confront. You are being satisfied by what I am about to shake.” 

Often, we are not led to that place on our own but we are led by the hands of culture, the hands of what we have allowed our eyes to see and by the hand of our own loneliness.



Imagine with me for a moment. You see a people, obviously and physically hungry, flesh hanging off their dry bones and stomachs swollen with emptiness. Their voices are raspy and desperate, they haven’t eaten; they have not truly eaten in a very long time. They run to many altars with a cry to be satisfied but it does nothing and at times leaves them weaker and more ravenous than before.

At these altars, they find themselves sparing identity and destiny, forsaking inheritance and denying their sonship all for the sake of being fed. Their tears are real. Their pain is real. Their despair is real. The roar inside of their beliies is loud and without apology and all of their being is crying out, “God, where are you?”

And in response, you want to cry back to them, “You are feasting on the wrong things! You are feasting on poison and darkness.”

Have we become this?

We are scared. We are scared that we will not be met.

I have been compelled and confronted by this insane love of a Father. I wonder how many times He just sits with us patiently and whispers, "You're more than this. You're a treasure." I wonder how many times Jesus with His heart in His throat is pacing outside of our walls crying, "Come out! This is not your inheritance."

The truth is we cannot see half of what is actually happening all around us. There is a radical love that is chasing us down every moment of every day. He is calling our names and our entire lives, “If you would just come and be with me, if you would just come and sit with me, if you would just let yourself be; you would find yourself completely satisfied in Me.” 



David talked about how God opens up His hand over us and He satisfies the desires of every living thing – that is you and that is me. There are riches, depths, dreams, glory, hope in His presence. The feast is never over and it never ends. He never looks away. He never gives up on us. He never calls us broken. His gaze is on us. He is hardcore committed. He always calls us beautiful.

He is not afraid of our past, but He wants us to forget it. He is not afraid of our sin, but He wants us to leave it. He is not afraid of our darkness, but He wants to swallow it with a breath that only He can breathe. 

I can hear Him telling us to step out from where we are.

At first, we still feel like slaves to our hunger, but He cries out, “Sons and daughters!” Sons and daughters know they will never go hungry, orphans live for their next meal.

At first, we still feel broken, but He cries out, “Oh my beautiful one!” Beautiful ones look in the mirror and see their value; broken ones see their every flaw.

At first, we still feel ashamed of ourselves, but He cries out, “My beloved!” The Beloved knows she belongs on the arms of her Lover; prostitutes take their place in the shadows.

We don't need to hide out any longer. Step out just a little. Feel the rushing wind sweep across your forehead. Feel divine love wrap its arms around you and breathe. Just breathe and feast on everything that is Him.

He will satisfy, every time He will satisfy.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My story on violation, shame and how the Cross changes it all.







I do not understand why he had to touch me that day. 

The memory of it haunts me and no matter how fast I try to outrun it or how deep I bury it in the past, it does not go away. Like this whisper underneath my life, it makes it almost seem possible that one can become a slave to a memory without even knowing it. And if that is true, I had most definitely become a slave.

The magnitude of what happened that day feels so little as if I should be ashamed that so many years later, I still struggle with my pain. And more than what happened, more than the details, more than the people involved, what has crucified me is the shame.
Ashamed that it happened at all. Ashamed that it still causes me pain. Ashamed that maybe it was nothing.



Sometimes it was like I thought it would be easier if I just ignored it and other times maybe if I talked about it, but either way this heart of mine was a million miles away. Because somewhere it had been convinced that I ought to be ashamed.

Falling underneath its weight and submitting to its burden, I began to add to it not only by believing it, but continuing the agenda to take from me. Since it felt impossible to let go, I took it into my own hands violating myself, keeping this memory of one night alive. Like a song whispered amidst the fabric of my life, I at times feel it brush softly against my cheek.

On those days where I do not want to get out of the bed. On those days where I get on that computer and expose my eyes and heart to darkness. On those days where I do not take care of the one thing I should. That is when I hear its whistle.

I even found my systems of belief being infected by all of this: somehow persuaded that God would punish me and that He would use anything He could to do it.

God is going to punish me. Look at me. I am shameful. 

That is a heavy thing for the human heart to carry and the only thing Jesus has continued to say back to me is, "Ashley, the Cross." 



It is like sometimes if I close my eyes, I can imagine myself sitting on the ground in front of Him being murdered while the world watches. Tears running down my cheeks like rain down a window pane.

I see the faces of every man and women He will ever love. I hear the tears of every broken heart, every sick body, every failed marriage. I can make out the cries of every life that has ever been killed, ever been abused, ever been tormented, ever been oppressed, ever left fatherless. Emotions swirling around Him like violent tornado winds, the smell of shame dripping off His hands and His feet, human suffering and sin leaving His body pale and lifeless. The divide between heaven and earth striking His side.

Suddenly, as He takes those burning eyes of His, lifting them to the Father and breathes His last breath, all that emotion and all that sound and all those tears suddenly become silent.

You would almost wonder where they went and then you realize they died with Him.



Soon after, when He gets up  out of His grave and rises to go home, all that stuff that was with Him on that Cross, looks different. It died as sickness, now its healing. It died as oppression, now it's justice. It died as the fatherless, now it its family. It died as shame, now its beauty.

Looking at me, His eyes tell me that He loves me perfectly. His flawless love is casting out all my fear and shame with joy and gladness like He just won the greatest lottery.

My heart is moving about as it is climbing out of its caves and crevices as fast as its can, fluttering at the sight of unashamed love. I smile because the thing is once my heart sees Him, I know it'll never go back. And those memories, those memories that have enslaved me, have no power over a daughter, only over a slave. The moment I look at Him and see my Dad, they crumble like moist cake crumbs off a non-stick pan.



I think we need to spend time there sometimes. Maybe at the foot of the Cross. Maybe outside the tomb of His resurrection. Maybe even in the stable where His manger was. In the places where all we can see is Sunday school pictures, Jesus wants to show us what really happened that day, the exchange that really occurred and the love that poured itself out like unending oil.

We are new. We are new people. The things that used to satisfy us don't anymore. The things that used to hide us aren't strong enough anymore. The things that used to trip us up don't give us fear anymore.

It is almost like we need to wake up to our newness.  Our new identity. Our new name. Our new family. Our new inheritance. The doors of His presence flung wide open and we get to swim in His love for all of eternity, throwing our praises on Him like confetti for our favourite friend.



Can we really believe Him? Can we believe Him above all we have seen and tasted and heard?

He is validating our pain but He will never make us stay there. Maybe you were hurt when you were young, told things that were not true, not paid attention to or paid attention to in the wrong way, but I just want to tell you one thing.

Let your heart feel and let your heart grieve. Do not force yourself to get over it for the benefit of everyone else. Step out of your robes of shame and step into your new name. Let your head rest upon Himself and feel His chest move up and down with every breath, that breath is the same one inside of you, and He will take care of you. He will lay there with you as long as you need. He will bind your wounds, heal your heart and restore your soul.


Maybe miraculously. Maybe through a season. Maybe in an adventure. Maybe as a journey.

But guaranteed, you will never forget that first day He looked you in the eyes and called you His.















Thursday, November 1, 2012

When your heart is sleeping and Jesus is calling.

I remember the night they told us. 

I remember how those words sounded coming out of their mouths even if the words stopped hitting my heart. I remember the fear that entered the room suddenly as if it had been hiding in the cupboards or under the carpet all this time. I remember the look in both their eyes that told me they were sorry as if brokenness arrived and started bleeding in that room.

I remember the night my parents told us they were getting a divorce. 

I remember the shock as if someone had slapped me across the cheek with intention and it was like my heart did not know how to respond, as if it was doing all it could to feel something or soak in something or say something, but it couldn't. And so it did all it knew to do, it shut down.

It was like my heart went into hiding. 



There were so many things. Things before that moment. Things after that moment. Conversations. Events. Relationships. Things that went wrong, things that went well, things that broke me, thing that healed me.

But these were just things and what I so deeply wanted to know was where my heart was.

It was like my insides had suddenly become filled with holes and  no matter how much you told me you loved me, it would never satisfy.  Words after words were dropping right through me like water through a broken pail. But I was hungry.

I was starving for something. 

There were so many days I woke up and it was like I left my heart in my bed that morning, conversations were had without it.  And for years that is how I knew Jesus, that is how I knew people, that is how I knew myself.



It is like these things happen and sometimes they are not even big things but the littlest of things and they overwhelm us, they overtake us, they convince our hearts to go to sleep for awhile.

And sometimes if we can't hide, we run to the caves of escape using media, addiction and constant noise because maybe it will be safe there, maybe it will stop hurting there. But it doesn't, the heart just slumbers.

The thing that I am learning is that He is perfect at drawing out our hearts out from the things we hide from and escape into.

It is like I can see us, our hearts like little children shaking in our rubber boots afraid of the storm, wanting nothing more than to hide under those blankets in our bed once more. And He is out there, playing in the rain and He keeps calling for us, keeps telling us to come, just step out a little, take hold of Him. Covered in freedom like if you touched Him even for a moment, every chain would snap off you in an instant. His passion exuding in His every syllable, His every moment.

But maybe we give up, go to sleep a little longer, still afraid, still unsure. But each time we go to that window, He is still there.

He is still asking us to come. 



It is like your heart is awakening to this idea that maybe it could feel again if only you'd just touch Him. 

And I have been teaching my heart how to touch His.

He is more safe than I realize, He is more beautiful than I know, and He is better than I could ever even dream.

Sometimes I just need to urge it, like a gentle push outside the door, go to Jesus. Dear heart, go to Jesus. Dear heart, I know you want to hide right now but it is not worth it, go to Jesus. Go to Jesus and even if you say nothing, even if all you do is collapse in His arms, you are waking up to the truth that He is here to stay.

We all have different escapes set up like refuge spots in the middle of a war: media, entertainment, money, food and sex. But before we go to these things and lose ourselves in them, let's give it a try. Let's give our heart a little encouragement, a little push, a little shake, whispering in it's deepest caves and caverns to go to Jesus.



I think as we do, after awhile, the truth of what He says about who we are will stop running right through us and will start sticking around. We will start to believe that there is no reason for the heart to hide from Him.

And like a possibility, like a creative dream, we will catch a glimpse of what it means to live with a present heart.

We will start to believe that feeling does not equate to pain but that the human heart was made to swim in His affection. There is joy and peace and hope for your heart! Not just for your thoughts, but for all of you. 

For some of you this is good news and it will refresh you if you let it.  

A heart that feels is not simply reserved for pain but the human heart was made to swim in His affection. Do you know what that looks like?

It is adventure. It is being lavished upon by love and having it stick. It is joy that bubbles up like champagne and peace that ripples like the ocean. It is stumbling upon the colour in everything. It is the sound of His heartbeat echoing through every voice, every sound, every moment. It is laughter from the bottom of your belly and art on the walls of your heart. It is family over cinnamon rolls and orange juice. It is everything that makes you come alive being set off like an endless series of fireworks even when your heart goes to rest in the hammock of your trust with Him.



That is a picture I would pull my heart out of hiding for. That is why He is so good because where we would drastically try and make something happen, He has already got it. He has been chasing, captivating and calling your heart since the day you were conceived.

So let's not run over His vintage wine with our instant meals and let's just lean into Him and run after what He is doing.

And I think soon, you will start to notice that all this time, He has actually been running after you.  
Wherever and whoever you are reading right now, I would love to hear from you! I would love to know how I can pray for you or encourage you. Always feel free to get in touch with me. You're amazing and I am so, so thankful we can walk out life together and with Him. Check out the Contact page for details.

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