The other morning I woke up, sat down, prayed that God would show me something in His word and then asked that He would tell me what to do with it... here it is.
I’m currently reading the book of John chapter 4, where John recalls Jesus declaring His Messiahship to the woman at the well. He begins describing this metaphor for living water and never thirsting again, but in this passage she just wasn't following Him. Jesus was trying to speak to her spiritual needs and when that didn’t work, He kind of called her out.
Now, I don’t want to make Jesus sound rude or insensitive, but He knows us, right? Sometimes (often times) we need to be told straight up, how things are in our lives. I am a real person and I need to be talked to in the same way. Too much fluff and flowers and you can lose my very direct, straight forward mind.
This woman at the well had been with several men and Jesus brought it up to her. She was at the well at a time when no one else was, due to what I imagine was great shame and shunning by her community. But Jesus met her there AND acknowledged her.
After talking with Jesus, the woman was so moved by her encounter with Him, the one who knew all of her sins and still offered her an eternal “well of life." He showed up and her shame left. Scripture says that she left her waterpot at the well and went straight to the townspeople in the city to tell them of her experience with this man called Jesus!
I have read this story before and I've heard this story told in sermons several times, but when I read it the other morning, it seemed different in some way.
The shameful woman at the well was no longer the focus in my mind.
Her sin was no longer the focus of this story for me.
It was her going immediately to the townspeople and telling them about her encounter with Jesus.
Here is this woman, who wouldn't even collect water at a well when others did, leaving her waterpot, and going to the townspeople to declare boldly about her meeting with this man who "told (her) all things that (she) ever did!"
For a woman with her reputation, bringing up past sin wouldn't normally be an encouraging thing (I mean, who would enjoy that?)...but it wasn't about her sin. It was that this man, Jesus, knew her sin and STILL HE MET WITH HER. Still He acknowledged her. Still He offered her what He knew she needed most.
When we encounter the LOVE of Jesus...the grace filled, forgiving LOVE of Jesus, we are compelled! We run! We share it! WE LOSE OUR SHAME.
Shame that keeps us hidden away, disconnected from loved ones, drowning our feelings of worthlessness or self pity in anything and everything. Sometimes it's substances and sometimes it's other relationships. Sometimes it's actions, things we do, and other times it's things we buy or partake in. But guess what? Typically those things create more shame or only a temporary haze to keep our shame just out of view for a little while. None of those things take it away though.
But here, in just a moment... it was gone. And as a result, she reached out to others who were then so moved by her words, her testimony, that they left the city and went to find Jesus.
How often do we let fear of others or influence of others keep us from sharing what God has done in our lives or better yet, BROUGHT US THROUGH? We've all done things, said things, experienced things that we are not proud of. That's called sin.
My name is Ashley, and I am a sinner. I sin. Every day. Major bummer.
Ok, now that that's out of the way, guess what?....
There is forgiveness for that, BUT....and it's a big one...there is also an undeniable influence in that! When we turn our shame into a testimony of what God has done, that brings Him GLORY! And glory is evidence of Him; it's showing the world that my God is real, and here's how...
"But I don't want to share this horrible thing with others!" ...no one is making you, but if you have come out of it, whatever situation "it" is or was, there is a story to tell. Maybe your ending was better than you could've imagined, or maybe it was worse than anything you've ever experienced...either way, don't let the shame keep you at the well by yourself.
Maybe you're there, at the well, pulling up your bucket and you don't even see Jesus anywhere, so how could you possibly hear from Him?
Ask Him to meet you at the well. Sitting by yourself with nothing but your shame, looking for something, anything, that will fill the longing you have. the thirst. the hunger.
He will meet you. But you've gotta be at the well...that place of humility where you know no one else is gonna show up and sit with you. It's gonna be hard. But if we don't all go there at some point, our shame will keep us so far from the one who takes away our sin. The one who breathes life and love back into us again.
I think that's why God gave me these words. Too many people I know are walking through tough things right now, but not sharing it with anyone because of their shame. Because of their concern with other people's perception of them or their situation.
Maybe you know someone who is walking through something right now. And man, it looks bad. It's covered in filth and what looks like a long road and so you've just checked out. You've left them in the middle of their shame, all for a little less "ick" and a lot more comfort on your end. I get it. I've been there before too. But maybe try and revisit that person or situation. Maybe it's only in prayer, but maybe it's also in person. There's nothing that says "I'm here for you" like a warm, living, breathing, body knocking on your door.
So I want to challenge you. I want you to think about your life, or maybe it's someone else's life that comes to mind, and I want you to pray and ask God to help you. Maybe helping you looks like bringing you to a place of humility, so that you can make your way to the well. Or maybe helping you looks like the Holy Spirit giving you courage and grace to step back into someone's life who could really use a friend...and if you have a box of donuts and a movie, those wouldn't hurt to carry on you either.
Sometimes we need those too.
With love & laughter,
1st Photo by Qang Jaka on Unsplash
2nd Photo by Mitchell Orr on Unsplash
3rd Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash
Media- you’re everywhere. You’re so loud that it’s deafening.
You’re deafening our ears to hear truth,
blinding our eyes to see direction,
yet somehow amplifying our mouths to speak opinion…
to speak our views or judgements we’ve formed from you, Media,
with our deafened ears and our blinded eyes.
We have become like overly pompous horses.
We appear grand, strong, powerful, galavanting the great wild world,
yet with bridle and bit in mouth, our stance is directed by someone else.
By something else.
It’s you, Media.
What is truth anymore?
We’ve taken this guiding light and altered it to fit our perception of reality.
But that’s not truth.
We seem to have lost what truth is.
We no longer seek it earnestly, instead we settle for being led by uncertainty.
What happened to education? Where have all of the books gone?
We no longer thumb through pages of factual information,
rather settle for a comment feed without any rationalization.
Where do our convictions lie? I can’t seem to find them.
What was once an internal voice of logical process
is now a methodical scroll thumbed thoughtless.
Our hearts seem to be led by self-righteousness, no longer led by love.
Our words led by “likes,” as if that were ever enough.
We are affirmed by our “friends” and motivated by a “follow,”
all of which returns void when what we post is hard to swallow.
So we settle in for hate and slander, all done through our words.
So gratified in our voice, finally being heard.
But what have we accomplished? What’s been made better?
We still live in a virtual world, filled with friends who are fair-weathered.
We have to put down our devices and stand up with our back bones.
Get out of this world’s vices and find our way back home.
Because home is where we left it, where we lost all of our hope.
Where we chose our own knowledge, our own truth, when He warned us, “No, don’t!”
Now we’ve let the enemy in, and he’s running all amok.
And we’re all just looking for hope again, with no such luck.
We’re crying out to leaders; we’re giving them the blame.
But they’ll never be able to hear our cries, because our hope has a name.
Jesus is our hope, the way, the truth, the life.
Watch as He’s running after us, His forever, eternal bride.
So Media, I’m using you now, to accomplish some good.
To remind a hopeless people, that their pain is understood.
I’m unplugging the deafened ears and removing bridle and bit.
To no longer be guided by the world and constantly listening to it.
For my hope, He has a name, and His father suffered great loss.
They both know our feelings of pain, for their pain involved a cross.
And right now ours does too, a crossroads of sorts.
Do we buy into this Hope? Or stand idle with abhor.
If we want to go to battle in this never ending strife,
We must make sure we are standing behind lines worthy of our lives.
The fight we choose will be costly, no matter which side.
So we must be sure we choose wisely and set aside our pride.
I have chosen to seek the Truth, while He may still be found.
I want to have eyes that see and ears that hear, when the trumpet sounds.
If curiosity has sparked, a twinkling in your eyes,
ask me all your questions but tell me no more lies.
This Truth for you is free, for the price has far been paid.
So rest assured you weary heart, do not be dismayed.
For what Hope did for me, He’s also done for you.
And where Media, you confuse us, our Hope, you will speak Truth.
Our Savior will come through.
Taking hold of that Hope,
Yesterday was a first of an upcoming year of firsts. In January, my mom went home – to her real home. So this was my first Mother’s Day without a mom, without my Mama. I really wanted to just move on past the day and pretend that it wasn’t Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way so I just kinda muddled through the day.
I was so blessed to have precious friends send sweet texts throughout the day. One even made the most amazing cake to let me know that she was thinking about me. I was blessed to have most of my children with me but, and I hate to admit this, I just wasn’t feeling overly grateful for the blessings that were around me.
This morning a sweet friend said, “You made it through your first ‘first’. You did it.” She knows what she’s talking about because she has walked this same road. She knows that there will be many “firsts” this year. As I left her house to head home, I started thinking about how much I don’t want to just make it through the next year of “firsts”.
As I drove, I began to become so aware of my ungrateful heart. God had so lovingly surrounded me with loving friends and family and I had just neglected to recognize it. But then He brought a precious memory to my mind. I want to share it with all of you, especially any of you who, like me, have a year of “firsts” ahead.
Back in January, early on a Monday morning, my Dad called to let me know that he thought Mama had just had a stroke and she was in the ambulance on her way to the hospital. We had made several trips to the hospital over the last few months. Her health had been declining and her body was worn out. I remember that my only prayer on the way to the hospital was just that God would be merciful and that her suffering would not escalate even more.
When we got to the hospital, she was on a respirator and was heavily sedated. We were told that she had had a catastrophic brain bleed. After a few more tests and much prayer, the decision was made to remove the respirator. That night, her family surrounded her as she took her last breath.
One by one, family left the room until the only two left were my son, Dalton, and me. His eyes were swollen and red and I knew his heart was crushed. I didn’t want to leave him in the room by himself so I just stood there, watching him out of the corner of my eye. My own heart was so heavy as the finality of what had happened sank in.
But as we stood there in that dark, cold room the most amazing thing happened. All of a sudden, Dalton’s eyes grew wide and his whole face lit up. “Mama, just think what she’s seeing right now…can you imagine what she’s seeing right now!” It was as if God had cracked the door to heaven just enough to allow us a tiny glimpse of what the real reality was. The whole room seemed to light up.
His words washed over me like a river of healing water as I was reminded that the empty shell lying in the hospital bed was nothing more than just that, a shell. But my Mama, well, she was face to face with her Savior. No more pain. She was free. And maybe, she was even dancing.
The reality of what death is for those of us who belong to Christ had escaped me for just a moment. But my son’s words reminded me that the truth is, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8)
Who was I to want anything else for her?
So, as I drove home today, I realized that I, again, had lost sight of the truth. I confessed my ungratefulness to my Father and asked that He renew a right spirit in me. I told Him that for the rest of my year of “firsts” without my Mama, I was going to celebrate her year of “firsts” with Him. I was going to just imagine what she was seeing and how she looked now that she was fully healed.
I also had to smile because I’m pretty sure she is rearranging all the furniture in the Mansion and telling the angels what to do.
Have a great week!
A wise friend once told me that the biggest adjustment a mom has to make in child rearing comes when she has more kids than she has hands. After that, it’s all over.
“Throw sanity out the window,” she told me.
She was right.
Two little ones were doable. It wasn’t always easy, but it was doable. Then came number three. “Have mercy, Lord,” was prayed under breath a lot in those days.
My wise friend also told me, “Once who have more than two, you might as well keep going because four is no harder than three.”
What kind of idiotic theory is that? But, much to my surprise, number four came, and I found that she was correct. In fact, it might even be easier because by that point, you are more seasoned and much wiser. Yeah, and truthfully, by that point you’re tired and just don’t really care anymore. You come to realize that God knows you are completely worn out and He assigns an angel to protect your children because goodness knows you aren’t capable anymore.
This is the scene that my son and his wife woke up to the other morning. It looked like a bomb had exploded in their kitchen. Actually, two 7 month old black lab puppy bombs to be exact.
I was totally amused by the whole thing. Mainly because I felt like I had in some small way been avenged for all the times my house looked like their kitchen because of my oldest son. I have to say, I think the puppies paid him back well on my behalf! Payback is so sweet.
I just finished teaching a six-week bible study to a group of amazing women. It wasn’t an easy study. It required intense soul searching and a willingness to take a really hard inward look. Not an easy thing to do. But these women were incredible. They dug in and refused to not learn…no matter how hard it got. Most of them are in the middle of very difficult circumstances. They are in a season where heartache is plentiful. Where throwing the towel in would be such an easy thing to do. But they have chosen instead to stay the course, no matter how difficult. These women are warriors and I am better for having shared this time with them.
We started our study off with this quote:
“Great warriors are not made from living pampered, unchallenged, obstacle less lives. Though they may think themselves valiant, they have never been trained for the intense battles. On the other hand, a mighty warrior is born out of great adversity, difficult obstacles, and many scars. The scars that come from deep wounds-but wound that have healed. They are the wise, courageous, diligent ones who never take their eyes off of their king. They are the ones that count the loss as gain, who surrender all they have for their King.”(Author Unknown)
It’s a Monday alright - no doubt in my mind. I would not have even needed a calendar to know what day it was.
First day of school today… I overslept. I set my alarm last night for 5:15 - PM. I ran downstairs, started breakfast, dropped an egg on the floor, and overcooked the toast - really overcooked the toast.
After I dropped my youngest off at school, I went to the grocery store. As I headed to the car with my groceries, the bottom dropped out of the sky. Guess where my raincoat was? Most definitely not on me.
When I got home, I realized that the main thing I went to the grocery store for in the first place was, well, still at the grocery store.
I decided to move forward without the much needed item because I really needed to get the blog post up for today. Carolyn had sent it earlier and it was ready to go. But because it was Monday, it wouldn’t post. We tried and tried. Nothing.
“What else can possibly go wrong?” I whined.
I sat on the beach and watched the cutest thing ever. A little boy, maybe 4 years old, was trying to get his nerve up to join the rest of his family in the ocean. He spent some time getting prepared…
Miniature boogie board…check
Mama at his side…double check.
He was ready. He was prepared. There was nothing to stand in his way, nothing except the monstrous 6 inch wave.
I sat in my chair totally entertained as I watched this tiny sweet thing muster up all of his courage, march determinedly to the water’s edge only to be engulfed in complete panic as the waves rolled
in towards him.
Over and over, he would approach the water’s edge, shriek in fear, run back up the beach, sit on the sand, and cry in total frustration. No amount of coaching on his mom’s part could help him overcome his fear.
At one point, his mom looked my way, shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. I think she realized how completely entertained I was. She worked patiently with her little boy for a while, until he began to have what we refer to in my family as a “fall out fit.”
Allow me to describe “the fit” for you. After running back up the beach, he would dramatically fling himself onto the sand, roll around knocking the scuba mask in such a way as to almost take his little nose off before coming to rest cattycorner on his little sand covered head. All the time he was rolling around, he was sending out a loud piercing wail that caused gulls to fall dead from the sky, from heart failure I feel certain. “Fall out fits” are so much cuter when the mother experiencing them is not me.
Well, after several rounds, his mom reached her breaking point. She stood up and walked down the beach into the water with the rest of the family. It only took a few seconds for him to realize that not only was mom gone, she was in the water laughing and playing with the others.
He sat up, scuba mask sideways, and watched her in complete disbelief. After a few moments, he gathered his gear and slowly walked back down near the water, sat down and commenced to wailing.
I’m just going to be honest here. I was seriously considering picking him up, walking out to the family, and plopping him down right in the middle of them. Enough is enough. Besides, he was so reinforced with flotation devices that I very seriously doubt that his hair would have even gotten wet.
Then came the break through. He stood up and cautiously walked to the edge of the water. He stood there watching the fun and inching closer. I could tell his mom was keeping an eye on him, but not yet acknowledging him. She let him stand and inch closer a little longer. Finally, she walked over to him, just out of his reach, and held out her hand. This time he took her hand and began to enjoy the water like the rest of his family. The waves that once frightened him became great fun. The wails turned to laughter as he held on to his mom’s hand and jumped wave after wave.
As I contemplated how ridiculous the little fella on the beach had behaved, I realized that there have been times in my life when I have behaved much in the same way.
God has placed me on the edge of his plan for me. He has equipped me with everything I need to plunge head first into His plan for me. Like a patient parent, He has coached me when I have hesitated and tolerated my “fall out fits” when things have not gone like I wanted. He has even left me to my “fit” and walked away – but never taking His eyes off me.
Just like my little friend, I have wasted precious time rolling around on the shore instead of following God into the adventure He has for me.
1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”
God has given me everything I need to follow His plan. He has equipped me to jump every wave that is in front of me; He even stands near me coaching me and keeping a watchful eye on me. When I choose to trust Him, jumping those waves can even be great fun!
Anyone care to jump some waves?
Wow, it has been one of those days where I feel totally inadequate as a mom. I find
myself thinking, “What in the world, God, could You have been thinking when You gave me 4 kids? Did You have any idea that I would be this bad at parenting?”
I can still remember when I brought my first born home. I had absolutely no idea what to do with him. Mothering just didn’t come naturally for me like it did for some of my other friends. They were so good at it. They just instinctively knew what to do. I guess I figured that the same thing would happen for me. When it didn’t, I panicked.
My first hint that things were going to be rough came when I was still in the hospital. Friends told me that they always knew when the nurse was bringing their baby to be fed because they recognized the cry…not me. In fact, when I heard a crying baby coming down the hall, I would start praying, “Oh please, don’t let that be mine.”
When I brought Drew home, my mom stayed with me for a week. When she left, I sat on the sofa and cried. I knew that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I wasn’t cut out to be a mother. Why didn’t he come with a manual? I needed instructions. As I explained all this to God, He remained silent.
I went back to work and things just got harder. I kept begging God for help or for Drew to just miraculously turn into a teenager…how stupid was that?
Now when I look back over those first few months of motherhood, I realize that God wasn’t silent, He was just waiting for me to become teachable; to surrender my ideas on parenting and allow Him to show me how to parent. It took a while, but oh my word how I love being a mother…even on days like today!
I ran across this in the book, When the Handwriting on the Wall is in Brown Crayon by Susan Lenzkes. What a great reminder for us!
but there definitely was not
a packet of instructions
attached to my children
when they arrived.
And none has since
Come through my mailbox.
Lord, show me how
to be a good parent.
Teach me to
correct without crushing,
help without hanging on,
listen without laughing,
surround without smothering,
and love without limit-
the way You love me.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
How do you respond when your world gets rocked…really rocked? Me… not so well at times. To say that I have been known to come completely unglued would be putting it mildly. I have this tendency to react first, and then seek God’s perspective on whatever has done the rocking to my world. Responding in this order has never worked well for me.
The writer of Proverbs suggests a better way. He says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Sometimes, directing my path involves directing my thoughts.
The times I get rocked the hardest are the times I approach the crisis from my perspective. I usually start with the question, “Is this what I want?” The further the situation is from being what I want, the more unglued I tend to become. I wrestle with it, I get angry, and I try to figure out how to fix it. It doesn’t take long before I am completely exhausted and have made things worse than they were when it all started.
But, over the years, God has been teaching me a different way. I have not been the fastest learner, but still, I am learning. Instead of sizing up a crisis through my limited human understanding, I have started trying to train myself to say, “God, direct my thoughts. Help me to see this as You see it. Give me Your understanding.”
Sometimes He responds fairly quickly. I might discover that God is having to administer some discipline in my life. I really hate being disciplined. Didn’t like it as a child, don’t like it as an adult. Sometimes, God has His pruning shears out. Not real fond of that either. Then there are times when I find that the rocking was simply to change my life’s course to fall in line with His sovereign plan for my life… still hard. If I’m being honest, sometimes, no matter how hard I try to find His perspective, I just can’t; at least not for a while.
Either way, here is where the “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” part comes in. Do I trust Him when He says that nothing touches my life without His permission, and if He gives permission, it is for my good? Do I trust that when He bends me, He will not let me break? Do I trust that He knows what is best for my life – even more than I do?
When I find myself struggling to answer all those questions with a confident “Yes,” I turn and look back over the course of my life. Every single time I do this, I realize that He has never failed me, not even once.
If you find your world rocking right now, consider asking your Father to substitute your understanding of what is happening with His perspective. Then trust Him with all your heart.
Welcome to our blog page! We hope you will find stories here to encourage you.
We would love for you to share your story with us. Click the button above to send us a story about what God is doing in your life.