Oh My Mommy Heart!

Milestones in the lives of our children can be tough on a mom’s heart. Since we have a large family, there seems to be a lot of milestones around here all at once! 

This week, we had a birthday celebrating our six year old, who has matured so much in these last few months. We have two more birthdays coming up. One is for our eleven year old, who is just getting so big lately! Then, our baby is turning a year old soon. Waaahhh! And to throw some icing on the cake, our oldest started his very first real job this week. Oh my mommy heart! You all! I cannot help but think God made Moms to be so soft towards their children.

To be tenderhearted means to be kind, gentle, and sentimental. It means easily moved to love, and prompted to pity or sorrow, compassionate. Sounds just like Jesus, doesn’t it? And it reminds me of a Mother’s love!

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind,
sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8).

In this world that we live in it is harsh. There are countless terrible, sad stories of murders, sicknesses, storms, rumors of war, suicides. We need more tenderness.

It can be a sacrifice to extend this kind of softness towards people. But, isn’t that what picking up our cross and following Jesus entails? I hope we emulate Him in this way, a bundle of overflowing kindness, gentleness, and mercy. To be sympathetic and compassionate. Like a Momma’s heart towards her children, let us be tenderhearted.


It Made Me Sad

A few months ago, my thirteen year old daughter said something that changed me. It still makes my heart sink down into my stomach to think about. She said, “Mom, when I was a little girl you used to sing all the time. But, you don’t anymore.” I guess somewhere in the sway of the waves of life, I forgot to sing.

The day in and the day out of life can be so hard. We can get twisted up in worries and pressed down by circumstances. Sometimes, my days just zoom by with tasks and I forget to live purposefully. But, these words that my girl laid on me, broke my heart and they made me think, “I need to sing again.”

It got me thinking about sin and what brings us to change our ways. It is that sorrow that burrows down heavy inside us. When we think of our sin in a sad way, we do not want to do it anymore.

“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation…” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

When we stop thinking so much about ourselves, and we think about how our sin effects others, change can take place.  This godly sorrow produces a stirring in us, leading to repentance.

My heart was sad when my girl said that to me. And now my children hear “rise and shine, and give God the glory glory…” every morning. They wake up to mom singing. They hear me in the kitchen as I prepare meals, and in between our schoolwork my voice carries throughout our house. Yes, the little house in Utah valley with the crazy mom tunes coming out the windows, that’s us.

Our Love Story

This week we have a special celebration in our home. Not just a day I hold dear to my heart, but a day that God gracefully and mercifully kept close to His. For, it is only in His grace and mercy that we know Jesus and try to follow His ways. Thankfully, He pours an abundant dose over us daily because this week my husband and I are celebrating sixteen years of marriage!

We were just babes when we got married. I was only nineteen and a babe in Christ. He was twenty three and not yet alive in Christ. He accepted Jesus as his Savior early into our marriage. We were a mess that day in 2001, and we still are. Yet, the Lord’s sovereign mercy and grace are enough to cover our messes and beyond that, shaping them into something beautiful.

Our sixteen years together contain lots of joy and tears. Seven beautiful children. Four deaths of people we love. Losses and gains. Moving far across the country. Mostly, it consists of a lot of sanctification. At times we’ve swam right on through the rough waves, other times we’ve trudged through mud up to our necks wondering if this was it, and we were just going to sink.

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

It has been said that God uses marriage as a major way to sanctify us, to make us look more like Jesus. Yes, I can attest to this, haha. Marriage is not easy. It is where you realize just how much you personally needed Jesus to cover your sins. It is where He meets me and whispers gently, because He knows it is what I need, “It is not all about you, Ash” and “You need Me.”

“You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

This week, as we celebrate our sixteen years with each other, from the bottom of my heart I am thankful for salvation. So deeply thankful that because of Jesus, my hubby and I have a new life. I am thankful for God’s sovereign mercy and grace. I am thankful for all the joyful blessings, braided with tears and losses and mud too, that have pointed us to the One who gave it all.

Dig In

A couple of weeks ago, God blessed me with such a great gift. I had a trip to Maine for a long weekend. My heart was so encouraged with spending time with my family and friends. I felt God speaking to me in different ways while I was there. One thing, just before I left for my trip, I had the phrase “Bloom where you are planted” as the screensaver on my phone. 

While in Maine, my dear friend Pat, gave me a pretty magnet pad of paper and told me to remember to bloom where I am planted. Then, when I visited Hope Church, in my hometown, during the sermon, the pastor said the same phrase.

He mentioned Jeremiah 29:7, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare’.”

We need to be praying for the people where God has us planted. Our hearts should be broken for them and we should be compelled to share the gospel with them.

I just love how Paul was compelled to speak the gospel wherever God put him. In my bible study recently, one thing we talked about was how Paul wanted to preach in Asia, but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t allow him there (Acts 16). He directed him to Europe instead. But, the first person Paul saw converted to follow Christ while in Europe was Lydia who was an affluent woman from Asia, who could then share the gospel in Asia just like Paul had wanted to do.

God’s plan was far better than Paul’s plan! 

Even when we don’t see at the moment why we are being steered in a certain direction in our life, we can always trust Jesus.

Wherever Jesus has you planted, in your state, your home, your workplace, your community, your family… Bloom. Dig in deep. Maybe you need to go to church, maybe you need to join a bible study at church, start a prayer walk in your town, or open your home and invite your neighbor over for a cup of tea. Dig in. Pray for the people. And be like Paul, compelled to tell the Good News of Jesus. 

For the Broken

I can remember thinking as a newlywed, and a new mother that I wanted to acquire as much knowledge about raising my children, to follow hard after Jesus as I could. When I heard an author promoting their book on the radio, or I read an article about building your family strong for Jesus, I thought that these people were probably brought up in Christian homes, where both parents were zealous for the Lord. I was sure their homes were filled with love and righteousness, all enveloped into a perfect package of effectiveness for the Gospel.

Certainly, they prayed for hours and did devotions as a family every single day. I understood they had trials that came their way, but I thought likely they always pointed their children to Jesus. Perhaps this was the case at times, moms and dads together, nailing home the gospel like a boss, but it certainly wasn’t my story.

And now that I am older, I have seen many times Jesus’ power made perfect in our weaknesses. I’ve seen how He takes brokeness and makes beauty and that this is truly everyone’s story.  Because no not one is larger than needing a Savior. It has made me respect brokeness and broken people and hold them together in a new Light. 

 “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Nobody walks the walk without making mistakes. And I know it to be true, the mistakes can remind us of how great, merciful, and full of grace our great God is, in turn expanding our love for Him and exponentially growing our effectiveness in bringing His name glory. It is in the brokeness that God shows His mighty power.

He moves mountains. He shines light on the darkness. He breaths life into us. He brings freedom and restoration. His name is lifted up.

So, this post is for the broken things… the broken people Jesus reconciled to Himself. It is for those who are in a mess so deep they can only look to Jesus to fix it. It is for Truth, because truth is, we are all broken and need a Savior. And I for one am thankful that I can lift His name up in my messy, imperfect life in hopes that some will see Jesus in me. 

Let Freedom Ring

Freedom is to be grasped and buried deep in your soul, so that you know it forever. Often times, it is hidden in the trials of life, ready to bud and take over the transforming new you.

Before moving to Utah, I really did not like flying in an airplane. I dreaded it. Being up so high didn’t bother me as much as being in a tight space with so many people, unable to get out! I had my family and friends praying for me when I had to fly, and I had Bible verses to recite in my mind when I felt panicky. But, I went.

This past week I flew to Maine to visit. On my flight home, I had to stand in the entry way before the plane, in a line of people, stuffed in like sardines, carrying my baby, backpack and carry-on luggage. I looked around and thought: “Wow, Lord, a year ago I would have panicked, but now I know You are right here with me.” His presence was so evident to me. Still, I boarded the plane sort of stressed out that I was in a “B” seat, and I ended up stuck between two big men, with my baby on my lap. Less than an hour into the flight, the woman directly in front of me, pushed her seat back toward us. The man next to me shut the window. The plane was stuffed to the brim.

 It was the perfect storm conjured in my mind.

But, …we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5), right?

I was able to gather my thoughts and God’s peace flooded me. I knew He was right there with me.

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).

We all have fears. Some revolve around money, death or our children. I have heard of people being afraid to pump gas. Some we hold on to for years and we might just steer clear of whatever it is. But, I believe that God wants us to deal with our fears. 

Step up to them. Shed light on them. It might just take doing whatever the fear is to get over it. Seek Jesus for deliverance. Ask Him to show you His presence is always, always right there next to you.

Remember, we do not need to have a spirit of timidity, when we have Christ living in us. Freedom can be grasped! We can know it deep down in our souls forever. And freedom is so sweet and so, so worth it.

Can You See?

I was sitting on our trampoline with two of my little ones and this dragonfly got stuck on the trampoline with us. With the trampoline net going high above him, he kept buzzing around this way and that, zooming by us, unable to get past the barrier. My five year old got a kick out of it, as we jolted and ducked away from the dragon fly’s path. Eventually, the little bug found freedom.

Until we know Christ, we are stuck in a small realm of blindness, unable to know freedom in the world and we don’t even know it. Before Paul became a Believer, He was so unawarely stuck in darkness that he sought to kill christians!

“And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him” (Acts 22:20).

It wasn’t until God met him on the road to Damascus and took the scales off his eyes that He knew the Truth, and felt sorry for persecuting Jesus’ followers.

Jesus makes the blind able to see the Truth. 

Can you see? I hope that you know what Jesus did for you by dying on the cross that day 2,000 years ago. He paid the price for you to have an eternity in heaven, the price to give you freedom, and the price of true abundant life. Don’t be stuck in darkness.

Seek Him

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).