Monday, July 28, 2014

We can't, but He can

(my blogs are written on an iPad, without spell check) 

I remember going home the weekend after I was raped in college. 

My best friend from highschool came to visit and I went home with her after her visit. Understandably I'm sure, I wasn't a good host that weekend. The car ride home I just sat in the passenger seat, atop the pillow under my traumatized buttocks, and slept. I slept the majority of the ride home, causing her to miss our exit and having to take a longer route home. She was a trooper, though, and never complained. 

Getting home to my mom, was the medicine I thought I needed. At that time in my life, I relied very heavily on my mom for everything. I called her at any moment, at any hour, to assist in whatever crisis I was facing while away at college. After being raped and sodomized, being with her was all I wanted; I craved her embrace. I craved her words. I craved her love. 

I did not, however, crave our God. I did not crave an embrace from Him. 

Truth be told, at that time, an embrace from Him was the last thing I wanted because I truly believed that he was punishing me for my past sins. 

Have you ever felt this way, friend; as if God was punishing you for something you had done in your past? Let me be a voice of truth--He is most assuredly not punishing you. I cannot say that you are not walking through a terrible consequence of sin (on a world level, not your particular sin), but I can assure you more than anything that He loves you and His embrace will be enough strength to walk you through whatever you're facing or have faced. 

When I got home that weekend, and saw my mom, I thought I had everything I needed. I didn't look to God. I didn't look inside; I simply looked to my mom to heal me. I'm not sure what I thought exactly that she would do, but I know that I thought she had some thing she would say that would make me feel all better. 

And, the words that the enemy wanted me to hear, the words that I longed to hear from my mom, were spoken by her, and every person after my rape. My family, who we lived with at the time, went out of their way to try and encourage me while I was home, and this particular statement was used many times. 

Have you ever walked through a difficult season, and had people encourage you with this statement, "It's okay, God won't give you more than you can handle"?

I have. I have used it. I have felt it. I have prayed it. 

I believed it very much after I was raped in college. 

"God will not give you more than you can handle, Ashley. You can handle this. Think of all you've already been through. You got this. Come on. Just push through with God and you can do it."

Now, let me say, all of those words are really good. I know they are well intentioned. I know the heart that speaks them because I too have spoken them and felt so strongly about them. 

But, I think maybe we have the wrong idea of what this life is supposed to be like. I think we're all doing just what the enemy wants and trying to handle things on our own because we think "we must be able to handle this because God has given it to me". 

There is no way God equips anyone with the ability to get through a rape or sodomy on their own. There is no way God equips anyone with the ability to get over any traumatic event such as rape on their own. 

That's wrong. God gives us things not because WE can handle them, but because we CANNOT HANDLE THEM. 

What happens when we cannot handle something? We either try harder, breaking ourselves typically in the process. We look to someone else to motivate us, or to someone else to simply do it for us if we can't. And I think we often pray, "Oh God, why can't I handle this?" 

How often are we actually saying, "I cannot handle this at all, I need God to handle this"? 

I defintely did not say it all of those years ago. I believed when I would be told that God would not give me more than I could handle, that I was somehow expected to be able to handle the situation simply because God had allowed it in my life. 

What a lie from the enemy if we really think about it. 

He wants us thinking that God only gives us what we can handle. He wants us thinking that we can handle all of the things given to us and that if we just perservere we will be able to handle everything without trouble. 

Of course he wants us thinking this. Because, once we fail, and believe me, we will fail when we try on our own strength to get through anything, we don't go to God because we have this idea that He is the one who has given us just what we can handle. We simply have to be able to handle it. 

My rape wasn't the only time this statement was spoken to me. It's still spoken to me every time I admit a bad day, or a depressive moment. There's always the, "You'll be okay, remember, God doesn't give us more than we can handle." 

This statement was most recently spoken to me after a loved one tried to commit suicide. Our family was reeling; our family was traumatized; our family was breaking. And there was this anger towards my family member, "God doesn't give us more than we can handle, why can't she handle life".

God showed me the error in my thinking when I walked through that season a few months ago. 

After their attempt, I realized how badly we can be broken, sometimes by Him to bring us to Him (that's for another blog for sure) and how much we think we can handle our life all on our own. 

We are SO WRONG. 

I was so wrong my entire life. He defintely gives us more than we can handle. He absolutely allows us to walk through treacherous storms that are meant to break us down to our very core--HIM. He is our core. 

He is our foundation. 

I'm glad He broke me down to that foundation and gave me more than I could handle; because now I get to rebuild on solid ground--Him. 

What do you think of this statement, friend? Do you think God gives us only what we can handle, or do you think we are given far more than we can, in an attempt to draw us to His strength as opposed to our own? 

Sponges-what will you soak in?

As I did my Bible study yesterday, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness to have eyes that SEE so clearly now. 

Oh for the scales that used to cover my eyes. 

Oh for the shackles that used to hold me down. 

Not anymore, though. Not anymore indeed!

No, now I see with eyes wide open, and shackles that have been unlocked. 

Today, and yesterday, I can stand on the truth that He reveals--He is my strength and my shield and He will never fail me. 

As I read yesterday, in Kasey Norman's Bible study, Named by God, I read a list of sins that we as humans deal with--characteristics that we can possess, traits we can exhibit.

The list was intense, and out of 28 traits, I have only been free from 2 of them. The other 26, I personally watched my family struggle with, or I, myself personally had to deal with. 

A few of those characteristics include: adultery, alcoholism, anger, anxiety, depression, divorce, substance abuse, gossip, greed, sexual abuse, and these are just a few; but I think you get my point. These are not positive characteristics that I want to exhibit. These are not good things. 

One thing Kasey points out is that we are all sinners at the time of our conception--something I too touch on in my book, less than Three. We are all broken, not because of some thing we went through of some affliction we are dealing with. We are all broken because through one mans sin the world became sinful. 

I became sinful. 

We became sinful. 

I didn't do something wrong that separted me from God, I was simply separated from Him because of sin. 

Some of the traits and characteristics I listed, sins in other words, were passed down through generations to me. 

I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the father upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected--even children in the third and fourth generation. 
Exodus 34:7

There are sins that I am dealing with, that He can be victorious over, that were directly passed down to me through the generations. There are sins that are still being passed down through the generations and I want to stop that curse. 

I want to stop this generational curse for my children and for their children. I want the hope of turning back to Him and living right and justly. 

As a child, I was like a sponge, soaking in absolutely everything around me--positive or negative. I won't wallow in self-pity and pretend like I didn't gain any positive traits from the generations before me, or from the family God gave me in this generation. I have some extremely positive characteristics because of the generations as well. 

Unfortunately, the negative outweigh the positive. 

Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of what I was soaking in, allowing to seep into my fibers, were sinful and negative, and they aided in keeping me from experiencing a life-breathing relationship with Jesus. 

The soaking sponge, made me think of my own children--what am I passing down to them? What are they soaking in, and allowing to affect their every fiber. 

I know my screaming and yelling is still a problem. I know, without a doubt, that this is the sin that He will conquer next in my life, and I know that I can stop this generational curse that still affects so many of my family still today. 

I know I can overcome this sin because I know without a doubt that all things are possible through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). I can stop screaming, I can find peace when the anger boils to the maximum levels that require explosion--He will conquer that explosion. 

I look at my sweet children's faces, and I remember myself as a child. I remember the fear that would fester when I would upset my family and they would lash out at me. I remember the anger that would boil as I would want to lash back at them. The perpetual cycle continued, and the generations continued. 

Not anymore. 

I want my children to be filled and soaked in grace. I want my children to be filled and soaked in encouragement, not discouragement, and boy am I a discourager sometimes. 

What did you soak in growing up, friend? What are you allowing those around you to soak in and be filled with now? 

I used to be filled with UGLY, just plain ugly! Meanness, anger, anxiety, fear; oh the list could go on and on. I encourage you, friend, to evaluate what you have be soaking in today, and if it is negative, surrender it to Him. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Embrace all of who He made you


I'm a routine girl, yet I like to convince myself I'm not. I lie to myself however! I don't want to be the boring girl who does the same thing every day; but the truth is, I like to expect the same routine every day. I like to know what my day will look like and how it will unfold. I dislike change or spontaeity. 

God is changing this, little by little. 

He is molding a new heart, a more restful heart that is accepting change, and desiring organization. 

He is refining the desires of my heart and He is giving me exactly what I am desiring. 

I think my anxiety of change is similar to many people's, but mine came for reasons associated with my life. It's hard to look at each other's lives and not compare, judge. I do that so often. I look at other people's lives and wonder why they're so much better, how they can do so much more than me, and I feel defeated. I never consider what that person may have gone through themselves that may have assisted in that trait I admire so greatly. I seldom think about someone else's life when I am comparing myself to them; rather seeing only the good and positive things of their life--jealousy in all truthfulness. 

He's changing this. He's showing me as I scroll through Pinterest, IG, FB, ect., that the things I admire in others, such as organization skills or business brain, are gifts that God is instilling in them, NOT that person in and of themselves. 

I look to other people and see what I want, instead of looking to Him and appreciating the gifts He has given me already, and asking Him to continue blessing me with more. Instead, I see the orgnized mom on my newsfeed and have caught myself praying, "Lord, make me more like so and so, they seem to be doing such a better job of handling life and you than I am." 

Really, gingermom? Really? 

Why don't I appreciate the gifts He's given me, and instead look to my peers and wish I had something they possess. 

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house, your neighbors wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's."
                                                    Exodus 20:17

I think it's easy sometimes to not even think about that scripture when we are scrolling through our newsfeeds and seeing something that someone else has; and that includes character and personality traits. 

I've found myself recently desiring to be or oganized; which is a good thing, don't get me wrong. But, a sin creeps in when I see friends who I perceive to "have it all together" and think they are somehow a better version of who God wants ME to be. 

That is simply silly. 

God wants me to be who He created ME to be; not who He created my friends to be. He created each of us with unique and different interests, and the fun thing is when those interests point to Him. 

Imagine a world where people lived fun, thrilling, beautiful lives and they all pointed to only HIM. Oh what a world that would be. Artists, writers, actors, government officials, athletes, mom, dads, business owners....simply every single person pointed to God in their strengths. Oh it sounds magnificent to me. 

It's not real, obviously, but we can start enjoying that here in this time! That is what God wants for us. 

He wants us to embrace the great, good and perfect life He has waiting for us in heaven. He wants to start filling us with those promises here. It's only a small taste, but we can taste it here. 

And oh, I want to taste it. 

But, I want to taste mine more than I want to taste someone else's. I want to take the fruit that He gives me and enjoy it for nourishment; not covet the fruit of my friends. 

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 
                                                  Psalm 37:4

He changes our hearts to what points to Him and then He greatly and abundantly blesses us. We don't often notice our blessings because we are so busy looking at what we want that someone else possesses. 

For me, I've greatly desired to become more organized. I know without doubt that God is laying huge things on my heart to do and I cannot fathom doing any of them with as scatter-brained and unorganized as I am and my desk/area are. I've prayed incessantly that He just "make me more organized, you know, like so and so, they seem to grasp something I'm not graspping regarding organization". 

And BAM, today, I don't hear a whisper, I hear a full-blown scream that He has already given me what I need, I am just not leaning into Him; instead I'm desiring the strength that someone else has. 

Oh, that was a sobering moment. 

But, I needed it. 

I heard Him, too. 

I can do what He has laid on my heart to do in the near future, with or without stellar organization skills. Yes, those skills would benefit me, but He benefits me much more. I must wait for Him to instill some type of orginzation in me without wanting to be someone else in the process. Anything I do, it needs to point to Him. 

I want everything to point to Him. Why would I want to gain the trait of someone else when that trait wasn't specifically chosen for my life as good by a righteous and holy God? 

I don't. I want to live for Him. I want to live well for HIm. I don't want to just strive to live a mundane copy-cat life; I want to live to thrive in Him. I can only do that with the traits and gifts that He has blessed me personally with. 

Are you doing anything similar, friend? Are you looking at your friends, your newsfeeds, and wondering why someone else has some gift that you wish you had? 


Rest in Him. 

Let Him change your heart and give you the desires of the new one. 

Be blessed. 

You are less than only Three. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Some days are just tough

Days like today are long. Really, really long. 

Miss. Princess woke in the middle of the night and had an accident, prompting new sheets and pj's, then accidentally waking brother. So, a bottle for brother and back to bed we all go, and when I finally woke from my sleepy slumber, I just couldn't quite put my head on right. 

I arise, do my devotional which is starting to uplift my spirits, when gingerman comes and says he's leaving for work. Something happens. 


No, not yet, I'm not done my devotional time yet (shriek).

No worries though, gingerman offers to give me 15 more minutes, at which I praise God for the wonderful man I have standing beside me. 

But, still I can't seem to put my head on quite right. 

Breakfast for the littles who are slowly waking, and wait for my mommy to call and say she's on her way to pick up the twinadoes as they are referred to around here (they're sweet girls and we love them dearly, don't worry), only that phone call goes differently than I expected. 

As in, she's coming tomorrow to get them (I babysit my twin nieces every week for 2-3 days depending on how many days in a row my mom has to work the midnight shift). 

Oh, sad face. 

My head is officially not on right at all today. 

We muddle through our morning, with NO SCREAMING mind you, which we all know is a huge feat. 

School gets done.

Lunch gets served. 

A nap gets taken (not me, oh how I wish it was me).

And quiet time begins, sort of. 

There is a house of 6 awake and active children desperately fighting a quiet time request. 

Still no screaming. 

No head on still, yet I have not screamed. 

I re-evaluate. 

Maybe I do have a head on straight. 

Maybe today is just a hard day, and that is okay. Maybe it has nothing to do with my limitations and everything to do with just life, and that is okay. 

Yep, that's what it is. 

I can rest in Him. 

I can draw closer to Him. 

I can lean into Him. 

There are just tough days! 

Are you feeling this way today, friend? Do you just not feel quite right, the day just seems to be overwhelming? 

Rest in Him. 

You are limited by this world, but He is limited by nothing. 

Rest in Him. 

Draw closer to Him.