Thursday, June 16, 2011

Time with God

I'm doing this bible study called Experiencing God. And I can honestly say, I am experiencing Him in new ways every day. Each day He is revealing something new to me that I previously did not know. I hear Him in new and exciting ways.

This week's study has focused on a love relationship with God, walking with Him, pursuing Him. One thing that stood out to me as I read today is "making time for God." How often do we make time for Him? How often do we set time aside just for Him? I've been battling with myself, with my sinful nature, on how to set aside time for Him. Do I rise up early? Do I stay up late? What is He calling me to do? What season of life am I in right now?

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

I've come to realize, and I truly believe from His insight, that the season of life that we are in shapes our days, our weeks, our hours. The season of life that I am in right now shapes my every day life. I have small children, babies, up often in the night, and getting up early in the morning today is not what I can do. But, I can spend quality, important time with Him whenever I choose. I can make time for Him in the middle of my day, when the babies are napping. I can make time for Him with a cup of tea as I sit holding my little Lily in the morning. I can read to my children, first thing in the morning, engaging them in God's word, not keeping it just to myself.

I realized today, that my struggle to spend time with God is not a scheduling problem, it is a love problem. Do I love Him enough to stay home during the day to make the time for Him? Do I love Him enough to not go swimming at the lake, or the pool so that I can be home and read when I am called? Do I love Him enough to stay up late, ending my day with Him? Do I love Him enough to take a walk with the kids, stretching out on a blanket and reading quietly and to them?

The answer is, OH YES! I will not commit myself to anything except Him. He is my reason for living, and I must make Him my reason. Time with Him enriches and deepens the relationship that I already have with Him. I will not worry myself about "what time" but simply "make time" every day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Hope is IN the Lord

But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.
---- Psalm 71:14

I find myself so often in this world being overwhelmed with angst. How will we pay this bill? How will we buy food? How will my children stand strong in the Lord's word? I'm realizing little by little, and always in His oh so precious time, that my hope is in Him, not in anything that we can do ourselves.

No matter what my situation looks like, I will always place my hope in His capable hands. I will not beat myself up over our circumstances, thinking we are somehow failures. There are many people in this world who can pay what they need to pay with no problems. I used to find myself coveting their lives. Wanting so desperately to be in a financially "peaceful" place. I'm finding myself at ease recently with our circumstances. I'm finding myself now asking of those same people, where is their hope? Is their hope in their job, their boss? Is their hope in the spouse that is the "bread winner"? Or is their hope in the Almighty Sovereign God that promises abundant blessings to His followers?

Well, I don't know where their hope is, but I can tell you where mine is.

1 month ago Brian left his job. Some may say, why in the world would he have done this? I asked myself the same thing. But, he didn't wake up one day and say, "hmmm, I don't like this job anymore, I'm going to quit and we'll just wing it." For the first time in my life, ever, I allowed my husband to make a decision that he with all of his heart believed God was calling him to do. Now, was God "calling" him to quit his job? I'm not sure entirely. But, I do know without a doubt that what God was calling him to do was follow Him. To give up his possessions, his material/earthly things and take up his cross with Him. So, we did this. Without doing something so out of the norm for us, without stepping out on faith, our lives were really just "talk". We had no idea what it meant to place all of your trust and faith in God.

Are we struggling. Yes. Do I see an end in sight; here on earth, no.

But, I do see the light from our Heavenly Father. I do see the light that He illuminates on His life and want desperately to live with Him.

So, my hope is in the Lord, and I will praise Him each day. My hope is in the goodness of my Father, the provision of my Savior.

My hope is not of this world, where is yours?

Monday, June 13, 2011

My sweet companion

I'm realizing each day that God always has a reason for why things happen in our life. I am realizing that although I met Brian in a dark and terrible place, the place that we are heading towards is a place lit by the glow of our Heavenly Father. Our relationship started off in ways contrary to what God asks of us. His commands are clear on the matter. But, I also know that He was there with us during the beginning and although we were living in a manner not conducive to what was good and holy to Him, He has blessed us immensely now because of our faithfulness.

When I look at Brian, I see strength. And this isn't strength because He's so strong or works out constantly. The strength in Him comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit that has changed us both so much. I look at my husband now, where we are in this season, and I see the head of my house and I willingly submit to Him and stand confident that He is making decisions based on what he feels Christ is doing in our life. I know that my faith is in Christ and therefore my husband cannot lead us astray. God is leading everything we do in our life, and He does this through the hands of my loving and devoted husband.

I loved Brian when we first met, but mostly I lusted after Him. It wasn't until I saw the true love of Christ that I was able to truly love my husband. And I love him so immensely now! I long to see the changes manifest in him, long to see as his desire for Christ grows and strengthens. I long to see him lead our family towards and eternity with the Risen and Holy King.

We made a covenant before God, to love one another till death parts us. There is no other option for us, and my heart rejoices with this idea. The question that plagues so many women today, "what if he leaves, what will I do with my life?" this isn't a question that I live with. It's not an option for us. Not because we are better than anyone else, but because we finally our priorities in line. Our first love, is not one another, it is for our Redeemer. It's only after proclaiming that love that we can truly love one another.


This weekend I spent time with a dear and wonderful friend and her husband. We went to the home school convention at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. The convention was put on by a group called Heav, who gives support and encouragement to homeschooling parents. To say that my eyes were opened truly does no justice to the work that He started inside of me. Let me give some back history and then go towards the new, here goes .....

3 1/2 years ago the shameful life I was living came to a head. I met my husband at the darkest, lowest point of my life. I had dropped out of college with only 1 1/2 yrs left, was living for everything that God despises. The spiraling out of control started my Sophomore year in college. I had demons in my past that I thought I had dealt with, that I truly thought were dead and gone. But, nothing truly dies without Christ coming in and crucifying us. As much as I thought I had "dealt" with my past, nothing could be dealt with until I handed it over to Him. And that I was not willing to do.

I didn't realize how deep the scars went, how deep the emotional baggage was buried until I started drinking heavily, getting myself into the most common situation for women in college--alcohol induced date rape. The part that I focused on entirely was that my whole life consisted of someone wanting to abuse me in some form. , that's all men wanted with me. What was wrong with me?

I can look back now and see exactly what was wrong with me. I had no trust and faith in the goodness of my Lord and Savior. I believed that I simply had my life under control, that the best way to "forget" my past was to drink, party and have sexual relations with any and every man that would be willing to engage with em. It was obvious to me that this was all that I was meant for in this life. God has forgotten me, I needed Him only in ways that uplifted me and what I was doing. Like so many people today, I thought it was enough that I believed in Him. I thought my salvation was secured in simply "believing that He died" but I didn't have to actually change my life.

The 3 years following that terrible night my Sophomore year led me into a life that was so wrong, so disgusting that until recently I haven't been able to talk about what I went through, what I engaged in. I became a woman who valued everything that my God frowned upon.

It was during that dark and dreary time that I met the only man who has ever respected me, loved me and honored me. However, he did not do this at first. In the beginning, he saw me the same way most people would have, as a wrench who was willing to do anything to keep a man in my life. But, it was through the love of Christ that we have come out of that existence, come out of the darkness and are now living in the light. 2 years after meeting my husband, we started attending church, and I remember sitting in church and crying.

How had this happened Lord? How had the love I had for you as an adolescent turned my heart so cold? How had I traveled so far away from the God that delivered me from bondage? Why had I freely entered back into bondage?

My head was spinning with questions, but the most important one for me was, "do you still love me?"
The answer, unequivocally, YES! He did still love me, He did still care for me and He would still deliver me from the bondage I was under. As tears continuously stream down my face, I know that He loves me and nothing can pluck me from His graceful hands. I know now that I want my life to reflect Him, never me. Because without Him, I'm simply a terrible woman who does terrible things.

Today, June 2011, I am a completely different person than I was 6 years ago. To see how deeply I have changed, to see how immensely my values and beliefs have changed, you yourself must have the love of Christ in you. Because without Him, looking at me will seem insane. This weekend, I saw Christ all around me. I saw Him in the faces of the people throughout the convention, I saw Him in the man I call my husband, and I saw Him in the friends I surround myself with. I realized, I don't have to do anything in particular for Christ to change me. He changes and molds in His way, on His time and we are simply the byproduct of His hands.

You may ask yourself, why is she sharing this stuff? Why is she allowing the world to see how messed up she was? The truth is, we're all messed up without Him. It is by accepting the life I lived, that I was able to see the serious need for my deliverance. If we hide behind our life and the mistakes we have made, we don't see the light of what He offers. And that light can illuminate our lives.

I thank Him for delivering me from bondage, the way He delivered the Israelite's from bondage, the way He delivered Rahab from her harlot existence. He can deliver us all from whatever it is that we are living with. All we must do is admit that we need Him. You don't have to come from a troubled background like I did. You could come from a healthy, happy childhood and still never have accepted Christ truly in your heart. You could have spent your entire life in church, "worshipping" Him yet never truly thinking you needed Him.

What I've learned this weekend is, we all need Him, equally. God doesn't see sin in degrees, we are all in desperate need of a Savior. What He delivered me from is amazing, and it is powerful. But, it is only a small reflection what He can deliver us from.

If you haven't accepted Christ, if you think you have accepted Him but just aren't ready to turn your life over completely, I assure you, you will never regret your decision. There is nothing that this life can do to us, that He cannot deliver us from. But, it must be our will to turn our lives over to Him, He will never take that will way from us. I urge you, today, accept Him. Turn over to Him, and know that He is God of all creation and He loves you today, even in your sinful life!

Blessings, Ashley