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.

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You Choose, You Decide

The other day a speaker was talking about his favorite poem. I listened a little more closely because the poem he talked about was my favorite during high school. It was “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. More than 37 years have past since high school.

As I listened to this man speak, I could relate. With all the different opportunities available, it is difficult to decide which way to go. Life is full of numerous different paths, but I must choose the ones I take. 

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

God’s Word is the standard for people. It’s like a plumb line to keep those who obey it straight. The Bible illuminates wisdom to help in our decision making and keeps us headed in the right direction. It shows the way to go.

Our Creator designed people with the ability to make choices. It’s not so much which path we choose to take, but how we live as we walk down that path that really matters.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

In light of the requirements of God listed above, doing righteousness, loving kindness, and living in humility, (YIKES! That’s quite a list), it is comforting to know the One who walked it perfectly and to trust in Him alone to lead the way that I am to go.

Thomas said to him … How can we know the way?” (John 14:5b)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The choice is ours. Who are we going to trust in to get us the approval of The Father, ourselves and our own righteousness and humility, or in Jesus and His? I have made my decision. I choose to trust in Jesus. Now you choose. You decide.

How My Life Changed Forever

As a little girl of seven, me and my mama drove together into the driveway of a sweet church we passed by often. Little did I know, that at this little church, my heart would be ready for a future of amazement. Courage enveloped our beings. Hand in hand we were ready, in more ways than one, to take a step inside this church’s four walls.

And here I heard a message that altered my way of living, forever. My heart was soft and ready, fertile for the message of Jesus.

I heard all about God and His love for me and it changed me. It seeped all the way down into places only the roots of God could touch and heal. The message was of Him sending His Son, Jesus, for my sin. He gave His Son for me and my wayward heart. Wow, suddenly it made complete sense.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Never once was the message of Jesus crammed down my throat. Scripture was lovingly taught to me, pointing straight to His love, His grace and His forgiveness. I wanted that as much as I needed it.

Something in me just knew, this was the path to eternal life with God. That day, my heart changed. It was just like a light illuminated the nooks and crannies of my heart that I never even knew existed. I understood the depth of my sin towards a holy God and accepted the gift of His Son Jesus as the sacrifice for my sin. His light filled my being.

“For You light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness.” (Psalm 18:28)

Twenty years have passed since I heard and accepted the Gospel of Jesus as mine, and my heart still bursts with joy for it. For Jesus my once dim heart shines, for Jesus I owe it all.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..” (Romans 1:16a-b)

Crazy Beautiful Undeserved Grace

Crazy Beautiful Undeserved GraceMost of my life I’ve heard stories about Jesus. We would have Sunday school lessons about the loaves and fishes. We would sing “Away in a Manger,” during our Christmas recitals and read bed time stories from our children’s Bible. I am grateful to have grown up knowing who Jesus was and that I was taught these very important stories. But, this weekend I couldn’t help but contemplate how sometimes familiarity dulls the profoundness of what Christ has really done for us.

StockSnap_S9PCRT7BCOHave you ever once thought about the fact that Jesus Christ was born a baby and had dirty diapers? He had to learn to walk and talk. He had siblings that acted the way most siblings do. And as He grew into a man, He no doubt had all of the temptations that most adolescents have, but instead chose to stay pure for you and me.

His mother became a widow and Jesus became the head of His home and took upon himself the every day task of carpentry, to support His earthly family. This man who also had deity inside, humbled himself for nearly 30 years living a perfect life…a perfect life so that we do not have to.shadow-185314_1920

This perfect God man not only lived a perfect life…He loved a perfect love. Knowing full well that we were dead in our sins, He volunteered to not only humble Himself by becoming a man, but He willingly took upon Himself the complete wrath of God, so that we could be called children of God. No longer do we have to live under the law, but now we live under grace…undeserved life-saving grace.

And here’s the crazy thing about God’s grace, because of it, we are justified! Because of the blood of Christ, in God’s eyes we are completely innocent. We are washed clean today, yesterday, and tomorrow. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” that is exactly what He meant. The victory is won and we are no longer dead to sin but alive in Christ!THEREF~2

How many times do you mess up and think, “God must be so angry that I keep doing this?” How many times have I been guilty of imagining God’s displeasure and disappointment in me! But, here’s the amazing thing about grace…it gives us freedom!  God isn’t looking down on me disappointed. When He looks at me, He sees Christ! My mess ups and my sins have already been accounted for!

Bask in the freedom of God’s grace, sisters! Our Bridegroom lived a perfect life because of His perfect love for you. No longer do we have to live under the guilt of our sin. No longer do we have to live under the disappointments of our flaws. Jesus already paid our penalty so that we could be free to rest in His love for us. We are so loved by our God! And because we are so loved, how can we not share this love with others!StockSnap_LP47VXNU6G

 

 

 

Harmless As Doves

Matthew 10:16

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (KJV)

The Lord uses two extremely different creatures to describe how we should be in the world.

A serpent has scales and although beautiful to some, they creep along the floor and they have a deathly sting when they bite. The snake was cunning when it talked to Eve, it was clever in its persuasion. We are called to be as wise as them. Not manipulative and causing temptation, but to know how the world works.

In Genesis 3 the serpent had an answer for everything, it was intelligent in its argument to Eve. We become more intelligent in God’s word by reading it and studying it regularly. God gives you His wisdom and His answers through His scriptures.

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Doves are beautiful and their white feathers display purity. A dove brought hope to Noah, when he sent out a dove to see if there was any land for them to enjoy after spending all that time on the boat. We are to be as harmless as doves. Physically that is something I can do easily, I have no desire to fight anyone. One thing I do need to watch is how I make others feel around me, the words that I speak and the looks that I give. How we conduct ourselves is also something that should be harmless to other people. The tongue can be a dangerous thing and something spoken can cause so much damage. A look can make someone feel discouraged. We must be as harmless as doves in this respect too.

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As it says in Matthew 10 verse 16 “sheep in the midst of wolves“, I do feel like a sheep amongst wolves. I think of myself like the poor little defenseless sheep in a scary world, this world is full of wolves. There is evil all around us. We have to remember that we have a good shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ is full of love for His people, He will take care of His sheep.

John 10: 11

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (NKJV)

We must run to our good shepherd, Jesus, when we are in any trouble, when we face the wolves in our lives and know that our help comes from the Lord.

Psalm 121:1-2

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

 

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.

Exhausted and Cranky

Sometimes I am so physically wiped out at the end of my work day that I feel like I can not do another thing. There are times when I get up in the morning and wonder how I will make it through the day. During these times when I am exhausted I can easily become cranky. I just want to be left alone. I want my own space. I become consumed with me. How selfish I can be. This morning as I sat at my table for a few minutes before heading off to work I was reminded where my strength comes from.

I love you, O Lord my strength.  Psalm 18:1

As I sat thinking about Jesus and meditating on my love for Him, I wondered how often He must have been physically exhausted. We are told in scripture there were times throughout Jesus’ ministry that He needed to pull away and rest.  During one occasion, a severe storm was overtaking the boat He was in. Though seasoned fisherman were terrified Jesus was sleeping through the wind and waves. Why? He was exhausted. 

The gospels tell us that great crowds were always following Jesus. 

The constant pressure of people must have been draining. Yet, each time He saw the masses, He met them with compassion. He was never cranky or short fused. Instead, Jesus was unselfishly concerned for and devoted to the welfare of others. He saw their needs and brought life and hope to them, always. Even when He was physically tired.  

When I realize that an exhausted Jesus responded perfectly to others, it reminds me that I should be careful to imitate Him. He does not condemn me, He strengthens me. He knows my weaknesses. He understands tired.

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:15-16

I can confess my sin of selfishness to God and receive strength from the mercy and grace that only Jesus can give. I love you O Lord my strength!