Monday, April 30, 2012

Meeting Mandisa and Laura Story

 I totally forgot to post about the concert I had a chance to go to last Sunday. It was the Mandisa, Laura Story concert and it was so amazing for so many reasons.
 First of all, the people behind my friend Mandy at the concert just tapped on her shoulder and asked her if she wanted to have 4 back stage passes. She was like, "ummm yah!!!!" So we got to go back stage and meet Laura and Mandisa totally unexpected! Crazy!
 The music was amazing and but I loved the company of my friends (and friends daughters :) ) so much and
 absolutely loved how both artist were completely vulnerable and really really shared their hearts with their audience. I don't imagine that was an easy thing to do but they both opened up and shared in such a God honoring way.
 There is nothing more refreshing than hearing straight from someone's heart to me. I will never forget this night.
One of Mandisa's back up singers even sang this song from Matthew 11:28 that I so much loved and need to get a copy of.

Matthew 11:28-30 says,

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and [recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good--not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

Tonight in bible study we are discussing Ephesians 5. I have been so excited all week to hear from the ladies who have been married for years about what they have to say about these verses. I believe there is definitely going to be wisdom in years that comes with the topic of mutually submitting.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Never Once

LOVE this song! I heard it for the first time this week and wanted to share! 

Never Once
Matt Redman

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground

Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way

But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone

Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground

Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way

But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone

Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way

But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone

Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace

Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You can listen by clicking HERE.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Giving & Receiving- The Body of Christ

Today I was in the grocery store in the way back and I saw a lady looking at baby food. I stopped to look at something for Annabelle and the lady thought I was looking at her. Then I noticed she had WIC coupons and that she felt uncomfortable maybe even almost ashamed.

WIC stands for Women Infant and Children. It's a government program designed to help people who need assistance because they make below a certain amount of money.

The reason I recognized the WIC coupons was because my family has also used those same coupons. I don't think I ever mentioned it on here because well...I was kinda a little ashamed just like the lady in the store.

When we had Adelyn and she was so sick from her GERD and was allergic to everything we had to use super special formula that cost over 100$ a week. That might not sound like much to some of you but to us it was waaaay too expensive. We moved to Ohio to help plant a church and let me just say, we didn't move here for the money. We found out that if you made below a certain amount of money you could get on this program that would supply groceries and the formula we needed for free! We gladly took it but to this day I will never forget some of the looks people gave me when checking out at the store. It was humiliating when the cashier or someone behind me in line was rude to me because I was on this program.

Please don't get me wrong. We are so blessed in so many ways. We always always get hand me downs that we love! We have a beautiful house and every thing we need. We always get packages from grandparents filled with clothes for the girls and my step mom always takes me shopping when I go home! And most importantly we have each other and CHRIST, who is more than enough. To say we are "in need" would be simply untrue.

But for that season of time, we needed WIC and were and are thankful for that program.

Back to the lady at the store, I so badly wished I would've said something to her like, "Please don't be embarrassed I've used those too!" but I just couldn't. But when I saw she was embarrassed I just ran and maybe that was best...who knows...

I came home and was just thinking and praying and the Lord brought to mind the organization called "Soles4Souls" in which you give your shoes and they give them to people who don't have shoes in other countries. (I just included the link on my sidebar today.) I don't know, the Lord said into my heart "give what you can right now Ashley....whatever that is..." Seeing that lady just reminded me of so many things... so me and the girls spent part of this afternoon getting all of our old shoes together to give to this cause and then....

One of my friends called and said her daughter needed a formal dress for this weekend and I just happened to keep some of my dresses from college for some reason AND and had made a pile of high heels I've worn only once or twice to weddings I've been in. So I was able offer her a dress and shoes for her formal! She came and got them and it was WAY more of a blessing for me to be able to give than for her to receive. I promise. And then...

God kept reminding me of two people going on mission trips that needed funds. I have traveled overseas on mission trips several times and every single trip I raised support for. I know how hard this can be and I so badly wanted to support these two young girls but knew I had no extra money to give. I went upstairs to get some stationary to write thank you notes and amazingly there was extra cash in this drawer. I knew I had cash in there, I just had no idea there was this much! What a blessing to be able to bless these girls AND NOT A BIT OF ANYTHING WAS ME....IT WAS ALL HIM! I know when you receive money for a trip it's not just the money that's great but it's also a reminder that people are "with you" supporting you and I hope those girls feel that!

This is kind of a round about post. My point, first, God brings us to different places in life at different times to teach us what only He knows we need to learn.... maybe even to teach us or show us how someone else might feel. Second, God is so good and in His goodness has made us all different so we can serve different purposes in the body of Christ. I don't believe He ever blesses us with things so we can keep them to ourselves, whether that means using our time, money, energy, or a gift He has given us. Lastly, if you are in the place of need, ask for it, accept it graciously (no matter where it comes from), and without shame (which is from the enemy anyway- Psalm 35:26) knowing that everyone's has or is going to be there in some way, shape, or form at some point or another. And also remember it actually blesses others in the body of Christ to give to the needs of others.

For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:16

Now you [collectively] are Christ's body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function]. 1 Corinthians 12:27

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thankful Tuesday

 Today is THANKFUL TUESDAY. I literally have pages of things to be thankful for.....I'm not so sure I spent my day meditating on these things though, in fact I know part of the day I didn't. Instead I let my mind wander off into the confusion of what all is going on around me. Soooo, I want to focus back in on what I am thankful for.
1) Getting to stay home and watch the girls have spontaneous tea parties.
 2) I am thankful for a husband who is in the word every single morning and whose example has obviously rubbed off on this little one
 3) I am thankful for how excited little AB was that it was swimsuit day at school and as a mom getting to share in her joy. :)

 4) I am thankful for God giving me such a precious and cute gift.

 5) or should I say giftS. This one HAD to wear her bathing suit too of course!
 6) I am thankful for the little moments we get to play together while Annabelle is at school.
7) I am thankful that they do love each other.

8) And for how much fun it can be to watch her learn.
9) I am thankful for her help in the kitchen. :)

10) And last but certainly not least in any shape or form. I am thankful for God's word!

2 Timothy 1:12, 
"And this is why I am suffering as I do. Still I am not ashamed, for I know (perceive, have knowledge of, and am acquainted with) Him Whom I have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on), and I am [positively] persuaded that He is able to guard and keep that which has been entrusted to me and which I have committed [to Him] until that day." {Above is from the McArthur Study Bible}
1 Chronicles 16:8
Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend Recap!

This weekend was jam packed and crazy fun! It was dnow weekend at our church and Adam and I along with James led worship for it. It was such a great time of teaching and worship as in I really felt the Lord there. You know He's ALWAYS with us but sometimes He allows us to "feel Him" more and it was like that for me this weekend!

On the last night I got some pictures with some of my friends. They all stayed over night with different groups of girls! I have so much respect for all of these ladies!
It reminded me of one of the last times I stayed over night with girls. This was YEARS ago when Adam was serving at a church in Mississippi and I was tan because I lived in the south ha! As consistent with d-nows you dress up on the last night with your group and we were "gangsters" that year. :)
The speaker was John Blackwell who Adam served on staff with in Mississippi. He loves the Lord so much and was the absolute perfect speaker for the topic of evangelism because he actually lives it out and shares his faith regularly. 

This was the group on Sunday. :)

The neat part about my role in the weekend was that I only had to be there from 5-9ish Thursday through Saturday night and so during the day I got to hang out with the girlies. We got to go to the park on Friday.
And me and the girls invited ourselves to eat with Adam, James, and John for lunch on Friday, we went to this little Mexican restaurant in town and Annabelle wanted her and baby to have their picture taken in this chair. :) She must have remembered that we have done that before. I thought it was cute.
Annabelle has this new obsession with her bathing suit...good thing tomorrow is "Bathing Suit Day" at school. She is going to LOVE that!
It was Earth Day on Saturday and we went to the library to do some crafts. They made butterflies and sun catchers.

And last night right before I left for the concert (which I will have to write about tomorrow) I took this one. Little Adelyn missed her daddy sooo much this weekend. I would say "You missed mommy last night?" and she would say, "No miss daddy." They two are two peas in a pod.

On Thursday night when I was walking into my house I saw the brightest light. It reminded me of the struggle of light and dark and how bright the light is when the dark is so dark. It applied in so many ways in my mind but it was a HUGE word from the Lord to me to pray for the "light to shine in darkness" for D-now weekend. I prayed that for people to see the light for the first time and for sin in people's lives to be exposed including my own and boy did God answer that prayer.

 {I have been studying Ephesians 5. Imitate God. Felt like I could stop and sit there for a week. God has MUCH work to do on my heart. I mean "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Wow.}

 {LOVED the message version of Ephesians 5 this week!}
{Such powerful scripture! What spoke to me this time I read it was when Stephen said, "Lord do not charge them with this sin." Are you serious? They were killing him?!}
 {I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. (Jesus speaking about Paul) Acts 9:16}
 {Again, Paul..."I count everything worthless...."}
 {I WILL rest in HOPE}

 {We will not fear}
{My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Those who desert him will perish for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. Psalm 73}

{An e-mail I got from a dear friend that I LOVED}

If the last part is confusing, don't let it be. This blog as always been for me to document what is going on with my family and I haven't had the liberty to always be extremely gut wrenching honest as I would like to be because honestly today I don't feel like it would please the Lord. I feel like sometimes we listen to the enemy tell us not to be honest because it makes us too vulnerable when that is the one things someone needs from us is to just be like "ya I have problems." I would love to explain all that is going on with us one day.....but today is just not the right time.

All that to say, I am in a healing process as I know someone out there is as well, and so how dare I not post what has been such an encouragement to my soul right now in this difficult time for me and my family. 

This past weekend was so wonderful for me in so many ways. Was it hard for the girls to have a different sitter every night and was it physically and emotionally exhausting? Yes!, BUT it was also spiritually uplifting in soooo many ways and I had a blast getting to hang out with the girls and sing my heart out to God this weekend. I literally felt like when I was standing up there singing that I was saying without saying, "MY GOD IS STILL GOD. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND ME! HE IS ENOUGH!" I am very blessed and thankful to have that kind of an opportunity and to serve such an amazing God!