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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

AHA by Kyle Idleman: Book Review & Giveaway

**Giveaway closed: Congrats to Jennifer W on winning!**

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading Kyle Idleman's newest book, AHA. The prospect of having a moment or moments of clarity that change ones life is always appealing to me.

Mr. Idleman bases his book around the parable of the prodigal son and the way that son reacted once realizing he needed to change and as soon as possible. Right away he gets into how God sends alarm bells in our lives to get our attention. It reminds me of that part on Bruce Almighty where he asks for a sign and all the signs on the road say, "wrong way", "dead end", flashing red and he keeps on driving. He refers to the story in Genesis of the brothers, Cain and Able and how God tried to warn Cain and give him the opportunity to do what was right. In Genesis 4:7 God says to him "But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it".

A situation rose up in my life concurrent to reading this, a situation that was not bad but had the potential to become so, left unattended. I must have been at least conscious of the possibility because I immediately knew God was speaking to me through these verses, through the message in the first few pages of this book that I was "coincidentally reviewing". I heard the Lord whisper yelling at me, "come to your senses now!", "be like Joseph and run!".

As I grow closer to the Lord and more confident in my identity in Him I have also felt attacks rising against me. I saw this situation clearly as a trap, it didn't look like much from the outside, and perhaps if I hadn't have been reading this book I wouldn't have bothered seeing it as such. The author is so right, and God gave me an up close and personal example of these warnings God gives us to save us from what could hurt us and others. I felt the Lord telling me, listen now before it becomes something altogether different than you think it could. I've never felt a need to radically obey the Lord as I have in that circumstance as I read concurrently the proverbs that warns, "can you hold fire close to your chest and not get burned?" and so I ran.

The very next chapter he speaks about coming to that desperate moment, the moment that can bring the AHA. The one in which, if we haven't heeded God's warning we reach this place and we no longer can run from Him. I've had these moments in other circumstances, much of my depression could be defined by this. That place where we become desperate and God becomes real, for the prodigal son it was eating pig slop. Sometimes deserved consequences, sometimes inflicted pain by outside circumstances but as he says these moments are "the defining moments can be our response to loss" . God calls us, wake up, come back, respond.

He talks about how so many times we try to do this life of following Jesus in our strength, only to end up living under deep guilt because we can not do it. That many times this AHA moment comes from realizing this and letting God reveal truth to us, sometimes this happens over a period of isolation. He says "sometimes we want to seize AHA, but AHA is not seized it is received." Again, this resonated with me. Throughout this last year and half I met a few times with someone who told me to change my posture with the Lord as one who was receiving, and stop striving. To let Him give me His love, show me who He is, who I am, what my identity really is. This is not something I could grasp and grapple for, it had to be received. Not hurried, but slowly imparted.

I have heard it said that self work is hard work, so also is the life of the Spirit. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, not work for it, but work it out, but its WORK. It is hard because we have to stop, look at what is hurting, feel it. You must be brave because it's admitting that you are not OK, that you have made some mistakes along the way, that there is healing that is needed, and there is healing that is available. Being honest with ourselves is also a part of that AHA, as he describes, and this can be scary.
 He says
  "I don't want to spend any part of my life missing out on what God wants me to see now. I don't want to come to my senses in twenty years if God is trying to wake me up now." 
Do we want to be awake? Or is sleep a comfortable shadow of false security?

He goes on into other key aspects of having these AHA moments, brutal honesty about our shortcomings, mistakes, brokenness, and being able to be honest with others about these as well. How instead, many times, we embrace things to protect ourselves such as denial, projection, or minimizing these things in hopes that they will just go away. 
He says 
"AHA won't happen until we come to a place were we stop defending ourselves".

The last part in the book he talks about is immediate action, how the prodigal son decided he would go back to his fathers house, what he would say to him and got up and went. He points out, "so often we know what needs to be done, but we just can't move." There are so many good points in this section about why we stall ourselves. About what we say we believe and what we actually believe and the power that lies in the chasm in the leap between the two. About our passivity, our procrastination, and our defeatism.

Finally he talks about the son having returned to the father's house. Pointing out that the father runs to him and repetitively kisses him, and I thought about how I kiss my own boys. That he, just like our Father, isn't like a cop waiting to bust us but to run to us, welcome us back with open arms. Also not forgetting that older brother who is mad about this, and pointing out that he, also, was a prodigal. He quotes Tim Kellar who says, "the bad son was lost in his badness, but the good son was lost in his goodness." but points out how the father approaches them both, God initiates with us, no matter where we might be stuck.

He closes by telling us 
"we expect God to be an angry father who demands justice, but through Jesus, HE gives us love and grace and we don't deserve it. Ultimately it's not a story about two sons who disobey, but about a Father who loves His children unconditionally."
 That is the best news.

I really recommend this book, it was insightful and personally really helpful. God definitely used it to speak to me in many ways. So often we want this big moment to come to us easily, but there are so many aspects that go into this AHA moment we want to change our life.

If you would like to order this book you can go to the website HERE
also I am giving one away to one reader, and it might as well be you!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Voices in My Head: Thoughts on Crash the Chatterbox book

When my blogging friend sent me a copy of Crash the Chatterbox by pastor Steven Furtick, I knew it was something God must want me to read. Every chapter was filled with the things I feel God has shown me over the past year or so.

Struggling with inner dialog is something I believe every person deals with, but for someone who struggles with depression it's even more prevalent. They call is ruminating, where you think the same negative thoughts repetitively and you can't stop yourself. Eventually it becomes so true to you it feels like the weight of it is going to crush your heart and soul, the very life out of you. I was literally trapped in this way of thinking, I felt scared of other people's opinions and was always afraid they were going to judge me, criticize me, or worst of all, misunderstand me. The truth is, I should have been more scared of myself, of my chatterbox, of the bully that I let run my head space.

The truth is, without eyes to see or discernment, you just think whatever thoughts pop in your head. I saw a quote recently that said something to the effect that people only believe about 20% of what other people tell them, but 100% of what they tell themselves. This is scarily accurate. The problem is that every thought you think, we think, is not necessarily true and yet we play out scenarios as if they are. I suppose that is why Jesus tells us to "take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ." We can't let our thoughts run the show up there.

My beginning awareness in this season of this problem for me was recognizing that I felt guilty about everything. I felt guilty about how I was a mom, a wife, a church go-er, a sister-in-law, a daughter, a sister, and especially a Christian. I felt trapped in my own guilt, in my own feelings of unworthiness. For years I felt like I scrambled to figure out what the source of all this was, from where. I searched and became bitter at whose fault my brokenness could be. Where was the strong, adventurous, carefree girl I used to be, know, and enjoy. She was gone and this witch with a b was left in her place.

I read all sorts of things and listened to endless sermons. Just show me what to do and I'll do it. I read the Boundaries book, it helped me start seeing some things more clearly. Mostly, that it is not my responsibility to keep everyone happy with me. They won't always be, not everyone will like me, but I have to like me, and remember that God likes me and made me, so it's OK. 

Time marched on and those old familiar voices invaded again. "Look at you, they think you are disgusting with your big fat body" "You will NEVER be mentally stable enough to anything of significance for the Lord." "Your life is so boring, it will always be boring" or more frequently "Ugh!!! You are so annoying, no one can stand you!"

When I started going to counseling my counselor pointed out this bully inside me. That she was shoving me into imaginary lockers calling me dorky, weak and ugly. I could really resonate with that, that is how I saw myself, and I saw that as annoying. I started to pay more attention to that bully, this chatterbox, and I started to tell her to shut up and sit down.

You see, chatterboxes sound just like us, so we tend to listen. That chatterbox is many times the Enemy using something we might struggle with, be insecure about, or unsure about and use it against us to get us to believe we are those things.

When I first really understood shame was when I was listening to a book by Brene Brown as I was training for my marathon. Finally, I understood. Guilt was when I felt bad about doing something wrong, shame was when I began to identify myself as someone wrong. I didn't overeat, I was a fat girl. I didn't lose my temper, I was an out of control beeotch. I wasn't isolating myself, I was unworthy of having friends. See that huge difference? One is manageable, the other crushing.

There were so many great parts of Crash the Chatterbox but I really resonated with a couple parts. In one was in the book where he tells a story of when he loses his temper and cusses at his wife in front of his kids. Watch the sermon with the story HERE. He talks about the immediate chatter that took place in his mind, this being only a day after preaching his Christmas sermon. I recognized in myself every part of that story. But he points out how to start differentiating between the voice of condemnation "You always, You Never, You suck" from the voice of the Holy Spirit and conviction "come to me, lets work on this, I love you." He points out how God loves him as much in the front yard cussing and he did preaching behind the pulpit, that is true love, that unconditional love we long for. 
He talks about when Peter denies Christ three times and the look Jesus gave him after the rooster crows. Although purely speculatory, he wonders was it a look of disapproval, or sadness and disappointment, or love? That same look that Peter had seen in Jesus' eyes many times before, the look of acceptance, the love of someone he didn't deserve, this is what brought him to his knees. That God isn't the one condemning me to a shameful label that makes me question trusting Him, or makes me want to stay away and hide what I have come to believe I am. No, conviction draws me to His heart, reminds me He has already called me worthy because of His son's death. He asks me, then, will I hold onto Him, with that same look of love and acceptance in His eyes, as He changed me. And the change isn''t to look better or act better, rather it's about my freedom to be more of who I really am, rather than chained to the shame names the chatterbox shackled me to in hopes for forever imprisonment.

The other great insight for me was at the very end of the book in the conclusion. He talks about Elisha and his last miracle. Elisha is giving instructions to the king who is begging him for victory over them impending enemy. He tells him to pound the ground, and the king does, only three time and Elisha reprimands him for not doing it more times. At first I am thinking "calm down, grumpy ol man!" but then Pastor Steven explains more. The pounds were representative of the battles to be fought and one, and wars were fought over many more battles than three. Had the king struck the ground more times victory would have come, but instead only three times would they overcome. My realization or question that I asked myself is "what do you want? Do I want partial victory, to win a few battles and feel better, or pound that sucker till victory is declared. That latter please.

I think I am beginning to catch a glimpse of who I really am, who He has made me to be. I am slowly letting go of who my bully has labeled me and stopped being shamed by wearing name tags that don't belong to me. God has used this book to further expand my weapons. And believe me, the more aware, the more awareness to new problems, temptations, weaknesses, oppositions. But God has put a fire in my spirit, one of a lioness {which I wrote about here}, a warrior princess {both fierce and lovely},one of pure passion. Yes, my passion can be a double edge sword, like Peter's was, but I pray in the hands of God's sanctification it will be a sword He can use.

I highly recommend checking out this book and sermon series. Actually anything by Steven Furtick has proved to be good. Maybe I see a little of myself in him, but I really appreciate his authenticity and believe God speaks through him greatly,

I was inspired by the pound the ground story to write this poem...

Wake Up, You're in a War
Life is hard, you're barely hanging on
Wake up, you're in a war

It takes too much, it lasts too long
Wake up, you're in a war

Someones found another reason to show you why you're null
You're feeling strong, you're moving on, then you feel that wordly pull
Wake up, you're in a war

I hear you Lord, give me one more day
Wake up, you're in a war

I'm hit again, make them go away
Wake up, you're in a war

My eyes are heavy with the weight of apathy
there's no way I can be who I'm made to be,
Wake up, you're in a war

Wars rage on to break you
So much easier when you lay back and let them take you
You fight a battle, you've been hit
You give up, you're over it
Wake up, you're in a war

You have to see your purpose here
You'll be taken out by doubt and fear
Wake up, you're in a war

Don't lay there and let them take cheap shot
Wake up, you're in a war
Paralyzed like it's all you've got
Wake up, you're in a war

No one to come and pat your back
Or hold your hand or stop attack
Wake up, you're in a war

It's not one battle and you're done
You fight until the victories won
If God is for us, who's against
Stand up no and take offense
Wake up, you're in a war

Feel it rising, the fight within
Remember whose you are
Keep fighting as you stand in Him
Wake up, you're in a war

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

South Denver Road Runner Sports Review

There is a new Road Runner Sports that recently opened in Lone Tree, Colorado and I headed over to check it out. This is their second store in the Denver area, the other being in Westminster.
This was the first time I had ever been to this particular running store, and I really enjoyed it. 

They have a huge selection of shoes and also a lot of other running gear. From Garmins, to clothing, to what my eyes focused on, knee supports. Probably the biggest selection I have ever seen in a running specific store.

They have a special VIP program which would allow you special membership prices of 10% off normal prices, a 90 day "wear em and love em guarantee" {this is especially nice if you plan on putting lots of miles on a shoe you paid pretty good money for}. That's three months to decide if it's going to be the right shoe for you, causes you pain, blistering, etc and you can come in and exchange them should they not work out. And they will even price match if you find the shoe elsewhere for cheaper when you are a VIP member. So many good incentives to become a part.

They also have a great and intricate fitting system called the ShoeDog Experience. I have been fitted and measured for running shoes at other running stores before but nothing was quite as intricate as this system.
They look at your feet, your gate, you foot's imprint, possible pains you may be feeling while running, etc and then the program recommends the right shoes for you. They even email you a copy so you can have it on hand and also will be remembered for subsequent visits.

Here are my feet when they were measuring and showing how one foot turns out more than the other. I couldn't do all of the measurements {like the balancing and foot mold} because of my bad knee, but I plan on returning when I can and am in the market for some new runners.

All the staff were excellent, helpful, friendly and knowledgeable as well, which always makes for a more enjoyable experience!

They also have some fun events coming up to celebrate their Grand Opening!

Girls Night Out
Thursday March 20th from 6-8pm
Get pampered and win $600 in Nike Gear!

VIP Family
Exclusive Party
Friday March 21, 5-8pm
Get the red carpet treatment with $1000 in free prizes, craft beer, and goodie bags!

Your Mile High Celebration
Saturday March 22, 9am-2pm
Win $2000 in free prizes
Free beer and snacks
Free tech tee for the first 100 attendees ($25 value!)

You can RSVP to these events at

You can also enter to win an 
Ultimate Training Package ($700 Value)
by liking their facebook page

Go check out the Denver areas newest running store
Road Runner Sports
I highly recommend it!

**Disclosure** I was asked to do this review by Road Runner Sports PR but all opinions and views are my own.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Remembering Whose Story it Is

Sometimes I feel like God is speaking to me so much that I barely have time to digest it all or internalize His message and words to me. I feel like I am in a bit of a season like that again at the moment.
Recently it's been this theme that it's not about me. I read a quote by Joyce Meyer that said something to the effect of after we're done praying for everything we want and need maybe we should ask Him what we could do for Him. I was also listening to Francis Chan and he mentioned how we see Christianity like we see Jesus on the side of the road and think He is a good idea and tell Him to jump in the trunk. We will pop Him out when we might need Him, but mostly we want Him to just stay in there, not bother us too much, and please, no conviction.

I remember being younger, maybe in my teens, and wondering why we weren't taught more about the "fear of the Lord", especially if it was the beginning of wisdom. You know, about reverencing Him more. I would read all these Psalms and Proverbs about that, and I wanted to have more wisdom, but what did this fearing Him look like? I also remember when I was 8 or 9 and singing "Holy ground, we're standing on holy ground" and taking my shoes off in church. That command that God gave Moses when he was standing in God's presence, it was a big deal, it mattered.
 Yes I suppose I have always been quite literal with the Lord, and everything.

And so there is this combination message of "it's not about you" as well as this reminding me of His hand that has been guiding me since my childhood. That He has been drawing me to Himself and cultivating a sensitivity to Himself since I realized it was in fact my sin that put Him on that cross back when I was six. Remembering how much I wanted to go on journey's with Paul, that I wanted to be like Timothy because he got to experience all that. How when I was 14 I wrote in my Bible that I would go and do anything for the Lord, and at 16 went to Mexico by myself to an orphanage for nearly a month because I wanted to know what doing this on my own was really like. God has impressed His call on my life for years, and I have been searching, searching, looking, wondering waiting, for Him to reveal it. Perhaps He has been little by little every year. That who I am and what I do is somehow all rolled into one. That sanctifying me through these years and making me slowly more and more to look like His son, that is His goal as much as where I am or what I am doing.

I see His faithfulness in my life. Like a current I've never been able to really go against. A true love for Jesus Christ, a real friendship with Him, a true desire to please Him and serve Him. I remember a time when I was not spending time with Him frequently and I kept hearing that Temptations song, "Can't Get Next to You". It's all about "I could turn the grayest skies to blue, I could make it rain whenever I want it to" and it goes on, but "I can't next to you" and this realization that true love is giving the other person the choice to choose. Choose to love, spend time, and in God's case, see Him for who He is, honor Him, obey Him, that is true love.

A guy I led on a team in Northern Ireland back in 2005 emailed me a couple days ago and shared with me that one time I told him that his life was not all about him and how that had really stuck with him and had helped him in life and now in his new marriage. That was clearly God using me because I don't remember the conversation at all, but I told him how that was exactly what God was speaking to me right now. That I didn't invite Him into my story, but me into His. That maybe I should just know that God knows better than I, who He has created me to be, and the gifts He has given me, and the doors that He wants me to go through. I don't have to search for them, or beg, strive or worry about the hows. Rather just hold His hand as He leads me and serve Him in any way I can.

I don't feel threatened or indignant about being reminded of this, that it is all about Him, rather in awe. That I want to know the real God of the Bible, not a god I have created in my image, who I try and make conform to my whims and ideas of Him. To feel the full weight of the sacrifice it was to give up His life for me, out of love, and that is what true love looks like. That when I pray, I am talking to the creator of all things.

Nichole Nordeman's song Tremble puts its so well....

Have I come to casually
because it seems to me there's something I've neglected
How does one approach a Deity
and still protect the sacred?

Cause you came and chose to wear the skin of all of us
and it's easy to forget you left a throne

And the line get's blurry all the time
between daily and divine
It's hard to know the difference.

Oh let me not forget to tremble
face down on the ground do I dare
to take the liberty to stare at you
oh, let me know forget to tremble

What a shame to think that I'd appear
even slightly cavalier in the matter of salvation
Do I claim this gift you freely gave
As if it were mine to take
with such littler hesitation

Cause you came and stood among the very least of us
And it's easy to forget you left a throne

The cradle and the grave could not contain your divinity
neither can I, over simplify, this love

Reading through Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick, he talks about Mary's response to the angel after being told she would be carrying the Son of God. She says "Be to your servant as you have said." It struck me that in that time, although she was scared, worried, etc. her reverence for God was still in the forefront of her mind, always remembering she was created for Him, not the other way around.

This awareness, this knowledge, this has been lost somewhere along the way for me and so many of us. He is our Savior, yes, but He is also our Lord. We get so easily frustrated when God won't obey us, aka answer our prayers that we, in all our wisdom, think will best resolve to our situation. When God does not comply, we get frustrated with Him, mistrust Him, doubt Him, blame Him, etc. I am guilty of all the above. But when He does say no, He is still loving us 100% perfectly. We think love is getting what we asked for, for someone to behave the way we have decided is the way love looks, but we don't know, we don't understand. That Jesus gave His life on a cross that was meant for me, that is not fair, that doesn't seem like love. That love was God, asking His son to do something for us we could never do for ourselves, because HE wanted to make a way to be with us. That is love. And God sent us the Holy Spirit to live in us, to teach us, and to guide us into righteousness and these are the things eternal and internal. God's priority is not always fixing our pressing pain or trouble, His purposes are greater. Just like when my son begs me for another cookie, I know it's not good for him. He gets mad and frustrated because he doesn't understand, it just feels like I am being mean, he doesn't see how this might hurt him, that it might cause a domino effect of consequences. And that is only a very small example of so many things that we don't know or see the whole picture of. I need to know my God well enough to trust Him.

I am glad God knows our frailties, our misunderstanding of it all. How He engages us and our hearts in our questions, and truly cares about what we care about. So much so that He says "Father forgive them for they don't know what they are doing" when He is on the cross as He suffered. That when Hagar ran away from Sarah with Ishmael that God goes to her and comforts her and "see's her". Even though she wasn't the one to bring the promise, and her son wasn't the one they were waiting for, He still cared deeply about her pain, about her heart. And I am so thankful for Him when I am hurting and short sighted or blinded by my circumstances or pain.

But to the degree that I am able to be aware, to the point I have realization about the holiness of God, I want to honor Him in His otherness. That He is so far above and beyond us. That I am made free to choose and I choose to honor Him and bring Him glory for the magnificent One He is. That is is less about figuring out what I am supposed to do and striving to become that, and more about knowing I am created for Him to do whatever it is HE wants me to do. If I keep that in perspective, I think He will just move me where He needs me with the gifts He has given me, to all of us.

From Him, By Him, For Him. Let us not forget whose story this is.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Goal Setting 2014: My Hopes and Plans

Here it is, February 19th and I am finally getting around to posting about my goals for 2014. My knee certainly put a damper on things, but it is never too late, right?

So I wrote about thoughts on change for the New Year HERE, but these things are ideas and questions I accumulated from around the internet, mostly from Lara Casey. She has great info and insights, check her out if you have a chance!

So here are the questions and my answers for 2014.
 {I will write as well the prompts that Lara included} 
Note: some of these I wrote before I hurt myself.

How am I?
Write out 3 things that are challenging you in life today or lately and also three things you are grateful for.
1-Running out of medication. I am worried about that and if I have to stop taking it and how that will affect me. I am worried about the fact that I can't for back to the doctor who originally prescribed it. I feel guilty about putting it off again. {UPDATE: I went back to the same office but different doc, I really liked her and she gave me a script for a year so I don't have to worry about this at all. Also, our insurance has kicked in for more coverage and now only have to pay $13 for it rather than $75. Praise God!}

2- Realizing how many things we need to start paying for, feeling submerged by it, but wanting to get a grip on it. {UPDATE: little did I know we were about to accumulate a whole lot more debt with two ER trips. But I have started facing these things with Daniel, and although we don't know how we are going to pay for them still, we know what we are facing instead of being afraid of it all, and have peace that God knows and sees}

3-Feeling stuck in weight loss, had one pretty bad eating day, need to refocus. {UPDATE: I have still been having bad eating days and I need to refocus AGAIN, but as of this morning I have lost about 35 lbs since I had my son. Here is a little before and after of me back in my pre-pregnancy jeans. I am documenting the whole thing on a secret instagram, maybe I will let people know about it someday:) Still plan on needing to lose another 40 or so, yep I was that big!

Thankful for:
1- That I have the ability to change things
2-Thankful for new beginning and hope.
3-Thankful for my boys

What worked in 2013?
-I got pregnant with my 2nd boy
-My pregnancy was much more positive
-I worked on trying to be more positive in my pregnancy
-I had an intense learning and growing time with the Lord for at least half of the year and most of my pregnancy
-We didn't end up having to move to Pueblo
-I tried new things, found new ways to help myself. {Dental school, counseling}
-Had a quick and faster than expected recovery from my c-section
-Decided to start losing weight three weeks postpartum and have been successful
-Trained for and ran a 5k post baby
-Eisy is much easier than expected
-I made good decisions for myself when I was struggling {getting off Instagram/Facebook etc for a time}
-Started meds again
-Believing I am OK, its OK to be proud of who I am, my life. Grace.

What didn't work in 2013?
-Not facing reality about our finances
-Not having a car
-Being too vulnerable with the wrong people
-Not protecting myself
-Not taking care of myself
-Not fighting for myself
-Not believing truth
-Blurred boundaries with family
-Not having enough friends
-Not being able/willing to trust God
-Trusting our church at the time in my/our pain

What did you learn from what worked?
-There is always time and ways to include the Lord if I really want to
-It's OK to help myself and be proud of myself
-I have the ability to change my life

What are the biggest things learned from what didn't work?
-I gave away my power too easily
-Some feelings are better than others. Being in control and proud of myself over feeling satisfied by tons of junk food or overeating.
-Being vulnerable with the wrong people is unwise. "Don't cast your pearls before swine"

What fires me up?
-Being inspire to change for the better
-Inspiring others to see how they might change for the better
-Reading great books
-Writing quotes
-Dancing to great music
-Learning something new
-Doing something artistic or creative
-Good conversation
-Talking to Ashton
-Dates with Daniel
-Good music with great lyrics
-Movies/Shows/Docs I find personal meaning in

What is my 2014 vision?

What kind of life do I want to live this year?
A happy one, an exciting one, an adventurous one, an accomplished one. One that I am proud of. One where I ask for and expect and take chances.

Where do I want to be when I am 80?
When I am 80 I want to still be very active. I want to be inputting into younger women's lives and my children and grandchildren. I want to write a Bible study and teach it when I am 80.

Why do I do what I do?
I am a stay at home mom because it is important to me for my boys to have their earliest years of formation with me. Even though it is hard sometimes I know this time is going to fly by and no amount of money or comfort is worth the trade for that. I study and blog because I want to learn and grow and change and share with others anything I might help them with. I want to glorify God and see people changed and set free like I have been.

What is my mission?
My mission is to glorify God as much as possible with my life. To love God, love people and love life. To challenge and change and share with others. Disciple.

If I could envision my best year yet, what does it look like?
It probably wouldn't have started out with a major injury, but I still believe in some way it is bringing good. It would be intentional, know what I want and make time for those things. To connect with new/old friends, get into vibrant community, get a car, stop letting fear make choices for me in regards to; finances, doctors, people, etc. To be more connected to the Lord and His word than ever before and to get a few opportunities to speak and share some writing.

2014 is the Year I....
-Make New Friends
-Stop being so closed off
-Write More
-Pray for open doors and opportunity
-LISTEN to the Lord and obey
-Be Brave
-Lose 45 more lbs
-Press into who God has created me to be
-Dream Unafraid
-Limit comparison
-Be intentional with Daniel
-Explore why I withhold emotionally
-See God provide for our financial needs
-Trust God More
-Look for beauty
-Be more thankful

What am I saying NO to in 2014?
-Questioning God's intentions and heart towards me
-Fear dictating life to me {including people's opinions}
-Doubting my calling, personality, and gifts
-Giving up on losing weight
-Volunteering for anything I am not equipped for or God has released me to
-Pointless blog stuff
-Unnecessary drama

What am I saying YES to in 2014?
-Taking steps forward
-Trusting God
-Ministry Opportunities
-Encouraging people
-Speaking truth
-Sharing me and my heart

Next week I hope to share my answers to Donald Miller's life coaching week.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Storm Inside by Sheila Walsh {Book Review & Autographed Copy Giveaway}

The day after I dislocated my knee for the first time I received an email letting me know I had been chosen as one to read and review Sheila Walsh's new book coming out, The Storm Inside. I received my copy that day and the timing couldn't have been more ironic or perfect.

That night I started reading it as I lay in bed, so many things popping out to me right away, and I had just finished writing out quotes from it in regards to disappointment. One exact quote I last wrote said...

"As you look at your life, can you identify areas where you have faced (or are facing) disappointment?"

Moments later I dislocated my knee for the second time, hoping for a miracle, knowing what was coming for me in the way of pain, trauma, etc. Talk about disappointment currently.

I knew a little about Sheila Walsh, but was not totally familiar with her. When I was in real desperation in regards to my depression I had heard that she had stuggled with it, and I wanted to know how, as a Christian, you are "supposed" to deal with that. I found a short video of her on youtube about her story and time in a mental ward because of her deep depression, all while working a Christian ministry job on TV!

All I knew was, the woman was real, she had been through it, and now she was writing about the exact topic I know I needed to read. Something with meat, from someone who "gets it" and is not gonna sugar cote something and try and force it down my throat, or so it may feel sometimes.

As I have struggled through this dark time, this storm, I have realized how many of you can relate. Maybe yours is much longer and stronger, maybe it's not, but they still hurt, they are still hard to endure. None of us skate through life pain free. Actually Jesus Himself says that we will have trials in this world and that we will identify to Him through suffering. There is a way of knowing God that I believe may only come through these storms.

My trouble has been where do we go when we walk through these, and feel like we are almost drowning?
The church, sadly, has not been a safe place for me to run to, at least not in my circumstance. That is not an overall sweeping notion of the church as a whole, but it gave me great comfort to see how Sheila addressed this in her book. She says...

"...a woman who lost a child in a random accident told her Bible study froup that on some mornings she honestly didn't know if she could make it. Someone saw her cure and declared, "Just remember this verse: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! The grieving woman took a risk and voiced her pain and instead of being heard and given the space and grace to struggle, she was silenced by a verse that clearly she hadn't lived up to. And how could she miss that clear implication that if you're not strong, then your not in Christ. {His Word is not a Hallmark card}.

This is my favorite quote in the book, the one that really stuck out to me. Sometimes not because I have had that direct thing happen to me, but I have seen it happen, that I probably have even done it. That is the voice the exists in my head  the "yeah, but Ashley, this is the thing you know to do" and the guilt that came along with that,I have felt that somehow I wasn't good enough, strong enough, had enough faith because my struggle was so deep, so long. I felt as though Sheila "saw" me, she was validating something I have desired to be understood and held in the middle. She says this...

"We all need a place where we can give voice to the worst that torments our soul and still be held".

"No one wants to stand up in a prayer meeting and confess God has let her down. We want to say the right thing, the spiritual thing, the religious thing, the things that make others applaud and say Amen!"

Yep, that is and has certainly been me. And I ask myself, what is more courageous, to keep your pain inside and slap on your "happy clappy face" or to share that you are mistrusting God, and your hurt, and you don't know what to do next? We need to value the person who can be so honest, not shame them. Because for me, it wasn't that I didn't know the truth, it wasn't that I didn't want to trust God or return to Him, it wasn't any of those things. It was the fact that it was hard, and I needed someone to acknowledge that and walk that valley with me, not band-aid slap it.

The book goes on with not only great insights but questions at the end of every chapter to get you to think about the conclusions you are drawing as you read. That hard work, if you will. Helping us to realize that it's OK to struggle, and its OK to bring those struggles to the Lord.

"Only when you tell Jesus the whole truth, pouring out everything that you see as ugly and unredeemable, can you experience the blessing of hearing Him say in the deepest recesses of your heart, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed."

We want healing, He wants to make us whole, and that process is a lot longer.

So much more great content all around, I highly recommend it. 

You can order the book from  as well as watch the webcasts they have been hosting the past couple weeks on these topics.

You can also enter to win a Spa Day for you and a friend HERE
{this ends in 2 days}

I am also giving away a

These are the all the ways you can enter...
I will announce the winner Tuesday morning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, February 7, 2014

Oh How He Loves Us {learning how God loves me through my children}

I felt compelled today to share with you an entry from my prayer journal that I wrote the day before I had Eisy. At that time I had no idea that my water would break and that he would come into this world a week early. 

As I have struggled with my depression over the past four years by the time I got pregnant with Eisy, 
{which I prayed would just happen if God wanted us to have another} 
I was ready to be done with the whole struggle. The whole thing has really been a journey and process of self discovery, but when I became pregnant again it was a whole new ball game.
I stopped the meds I was on immediately not wanting to hurt the baby and had several episodes in the early weeks of being pregnant with him, not to mention the usual nausea. I felt like I was falling apart, especially when we took a road trip to California for the funeral of my husbands sister. I was determined I needed to do something different, I couldn't keep feeling this way.
I started meeting with a girl recommended to me by a pastor and she just had me share my relationship with the Lord. How I felt about whatever I wanted, needed, to talk to her about. Like a soul care specialist. I met with her maybe a handful of times but it started opening doors to what God was wanting to say, to speak, to reveal.

God invited me to growth, and I was ready, or at least I thought I was.

There is a line in my favorite song by Nichole Nordeman that says 
"'Knock with caution at the door,' they said, 'beware of what you're praying for'"

And you always here that you shouldn't pray for patience because you won't like how God teaches you, but I think that this can apply for praying for anything.

I will glance back at old prayer journals and see what I was praying, and like Beth Moore says, "When we sign our prayers in Jesus name that's powerful, because God gives His baby son what He wants." And especially when you know they are the things God wants to do in us, but they don't always come in nice, cute little packages that we would hope for. 

God asked me to step out, step down, and spend time with Him alone for 6 months.
I was involved in at least three things at my church, but I sensed this form of striving. Striving to fix myself, striving for approval, striving, fighting, losing. I just felt so empty, like I had nothing to give, and this frustrated me and left me feeling even more guilty.

So I stepped away from it all and focused on God and what He wanted to do. My hair was dark, I was gaining weight, I felt crappy and I had no way to "make" myself feel better. Just sit in this.
I could write pages and pages of that time, maybe sometime I will, but the long and short of it is that I had this intense time with the Lord. He revealed things to me and uprooted things, I referred to it as my "dark period." At the same time I felt like the Lord was saying that He was birthing something in me spiritually the same time as I was growing Eisy. That something new would be born with him.

August was the hardest time for me, being my 9th month, that really doesn't need explaining. Especially if you have been pregnant before, it's just the time when you want it all to be over. So it was with my spiritual life. The six months I felt like God has set aside for Him would come to an end at the end of August, and I was scheduled for my c-section on September 3rd. So when I went into labor still in August I thought this was amazing, it coincided with my six months and all.

The whole time was amazing with God, yet I felt uneasy. I felt like I was trying to work for God's approval, for His love. I wanted Him to be proud of me, I wanted to be used by Him again, I wanted to stand in confidence and power but instead I felt like I was cowering in the corner ashamed of myself and ashamed of the guilt I carried with me about my depression, about letting God down, about how weak I was.

This is what He showed me and spoke to me that day before Eisy entered the world.

I was thinking about this too, about how you say we love you because you first loved us, and how you loved me even before I was cognizant of you. Before I tried to tell you I love you or tried to obey you to show you I loved you, you were loving me. Before I had a inkling that you were even there, I had dreams, or prayed-any of that- you loved me. and I understand this being pregnant. Eisy won't really have the capacity to of showing love or even knowing love for some time, but I am not waiting for him to get to that place before I love him. 
I love him even before I've met him, in my tummy. I will love him more when I meet him, see him, smell him and ponder over every intricacy of his little face. How he reflects me, or his daddy, or brother. Love him for all I have yet to see about him, but know I will experience in and with him. And I will feed him, and I will change his diapers, and I will put him to sleep because it's what is best for him-way before he really even understands who I am or can be grateful for anything. 
And we jokingly say, "those boys better appreciate all I went through" in regards to how big they are, how big they made me. But they don't and maybe they never will because they won't ever have to be pregnant, but I do go through this pain I am currently in and currently putting my body through again, because he is worth it, Ashton was worth it, and I...I am worth it to you.
Sometimes I think I may see you as having to love me conditionally, and I know that not even human mothers love is like you or yours. But its not something you decide to do based on how well I understand it or reciprocate it. It's just there, it's just who you are. And I know when Eisy starts smiling, snuggling, or first tells me "I love you mommy" my joy will be full. Even now when Ashton says "I just need you" or "can I just love you" that I love that and it changes my heart towards him if he is being naughty and makes me so proud that he is my son. And we put up with his bad attitudes and are proud when he chooses better, the right way, we still understand his age and that he is learning more day by day.
That is like me too, maybe I am seven but I wish I were fourteen, but I can't get there by wanting it or by being annoyed with myself for not being there yet. I will get there, over time, mistakes and "pressing on". Let this sink deeply into my heart and spirit. I do want you to be pleased with me, I want to be someone you can use, I want to be the kind of person that I would respect and who listens, acknowledges weaknesses and allows you to change her. I know I won't stay seven, just like Eisy won't stay an infant. I know my circustances will change eventually as well- please help me to have the right perspective and continue to trust you. Freaking out about things doesn't change them, so please help me to live in your peace. To remember that your love for me, like my love for my sons, isn't based on how fast they grow up. Actually that maybe you enjoy it, this process of learning, just as much as getting us to the other side.

That God loves us, in the process of growing, just as much as the growth. That actually it all depends on Him and not us, that is the freedom. We are just like these little babies that are loved, we fall down, we learn, we get up, we get hurt, we try again, but never for His love, never for more approval. It's just something we have to go through to get to where we need to be in maturity. There is no such thing as microwave growth.

I think of Eisy now, at 5 months, and the pure joy I get just from looking at him.

I mean come on!
How can you not smile seeing that lil face!!!

And he doesn't have to do anything.

I still do what is best for him, because he doesn't see what is best for him. He doesn't realize that NEVER sleeping is bad for him, and that he is actually really tired.

And so I hold him tight to me, and I sing to him and I rock him hard and he fights me. His eyes are having a hard time staying awake because he is so tired, and he screams and pushes against me and he's mad at me, because how could this be good for him, but it is.

And this is not unlike me, this is not unlike you...

We don't understand why God does things, or doesn't do things that we feel are so important to us. And He knows we don't understand, He is sorry we don't understand, but He still does what is best for us anyways, because He is good. As we grow He gives us more freedom, more expectations from our obedience as we gain more understanding. But I think there are still times, when we need Him to hold us tight, and we fight to break free, and He just whispers
 "Trust Me".

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