Help! I Need Wisdom!

The Bible is full of wisdom. It’s known as the instruction manual on how to live your life. Unfortunately, we live in a world that often contradicts God’s written Word. How do you know which path to take in life when there are so many different ones to choose from? Here are a few helpful steps that will hopefully help you get to where you need to be.

1. Know that God wants to give you the desires of your heart. 

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬
Sometimes we don’t bother to seek God for His wisdom because we think He doesn’t care. That’s simply not true! We are His children in Christ, and God wants to meet our needs. 

2. Commit to HIS way. 

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬
This is probably the most challenging part of seeking wisdom. We are to commit to the Lord’s way—not our way. Sometimes it’s easier to trust in tangible resources like money, people, or plans. Patience and trust are required in order to receive what God has in store.

3. Worrying leads to taking back control.

 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:7-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Again, patience, patience, PATIENCE. How do we receive patience? We ask for it. The Bible addresses worry ALOT. However, not only are we not supposed to worry, but can lead to sin. It arguably is a sin, in itself because we aren’t trusting God. What do you do when you’re worried? You panic. You try to fix life on your own, and sometimes that leads to poor choices. Patience. Don’t worry. Release control. 

4. Recognize and accept Gods plans may not align with your ideals. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As we open and commit ourselves to Gods wisdom, we become willing to accept our circumstances may change into something we didn’t expect. His ways are higher than ours. His thoughts are far more complex than ours. He sees details we cannot. We trust our lives into the hands of the one who created the world.

5. Don’t doubt.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:5-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Easier said than done right?! Expect to see God show up. God doesn’t break His promises! If we come to Him, and Him alone, in faith, we will not turn away empty. 

I hope this encourages you! 

If you’d like to share an experience of a time you needed wisdom and received it, I’d love to hear! Please comment! 

Much Love! 

Ashley 

 

 

 

 

 

One Step Forward, Two Leaps Back

We are forever fighting a battle between right versus wrong, good versus evil. All choices we make, big and small, have the capability of impacting ourselves and others for better or worse. For the most part we know right from wrong. As adults we aren’t naive. However our sinful nature quickly convinces us that wrong is right, and right is wrong. In moments of weakness and lack of accountability, we give into sinful desires—only to find they didn’t satisfy and often added insult to injury in the process. Thus begins the cycle where we forget grace and jump right back into works or “law.” We convince ourselves we will “do better” and “try harder”, only to find ourselves sinning once more.

Paul understood this so very well. I find Romans chapter 7 such a comfort as I questioned my salvation at times because I couldn’t get a grip on my sin. I knew what was right, but I couldn’t do it. If I was a true Christian, shouldn’t I be able to get it together?!

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:18-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Paul acknowledged he understood right from wrong, yet still found himself battling the same sin. He recognized the war against his sinful nature. Even Paul’s good intentions weren’t enough.

“For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:22-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Even those who love the Lord with all their hearts are going to struggle with sin. You may get up every day, read your Bible, pray, listen to worship music, serve God in countless ways, and yet STILL battle habitual patterns of sin you hate.

Please don’t feel as if God loves you less.

Please don’t call yourself a failure.

Please don’t give up.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:37‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Even though it may seem like you’re in a constant war (because you are), you are more than a conqueror already through Christ. Your mistakes have been paid for. They don’t shock God. Keep looking, running, and stumbling to the cross. You’ll never lose.

Much love,

Ashley

Stop Trying To Figure It All Out!

Today is one of those days where I really need to write for myself.

Around noon, my phone started blowing up. I had a friend wanting to solidify dinner plans for next week, my mother was checking up on me, my sons daycare provider and I were discussing him coming on a more regular basis to supplement preschool, I realized I had missed calls to return, and soon felt like I had lost control of my day. Not to mention my two year old son had been throwing fits from the moment he had woken up. My husband walked through the door following a rather difficult day at work, and before he could get his boots off I started firing off questions at him, because my anxiety was through the roof. I needed everything figured out IMMEDIATELY. He got frustrated. I got frustrated. The conversation didn’t end well, and I left for work slamming the door shut in his face.

All because I was convinced I needed to have everything in order straight away. What would have happened if I left my husband a note? Kissed him on the cheek and said, “I love you, let’s talk later”, instead?”

I struggle with control. I want my hours, days, weeks, months, and YEARS mapped out ahead of me. I crave predictability. But the truth is, I can’t control every detail. I can’t control other people. I’m not in charge of the fact that 4 people decided to text/call me all at once. What I need to realize is that I don’t need to be on their timeline—and chances are they don’t expect me to be either. I put too much pressure on myself, and I transfer those emotional burdens onto my loved ones.

In the end, the things I was so worried about controlling weren’t worth the angst.

“We make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

There’s peace in handing things yet undetermined over to God. I’m a major work in progress, but I do know for certain that I’ve never felt better worrying, obsessing, or controlling. It’s my default, and I’ve got a lot of re-programming to do, but one day I’ll be able to stop the habit before I start.

“You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:68‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I know I’d rather follow the ways of the Lord. Sometimes we have to mess up a lot before we learn. Thankfully we have a God who is patient, merciful, loving, kind, and gracious. He NEVER expects us to have it all figured out!

Much love,

Ashley

Faith Is All You Need

My biggest battle as a Christian, is knowing what to do but feeling as though I cannot do it. As Paul says,

“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:18

There’s a level of guilt I wrestle with. I think, “Why can’t I just get it together?! I should know better by now!” Maybe you can relate. Sometimes this guilt even keeps me from coming into the presence of God. I feel as though God won’t hear my prayers because of the things I’ve said and done. If you feel the same way, I want you to know you’ve been believing lies just as I have. The Bible is our source of truth, and truth says:

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Nowhere does it say, “You may only approach God if you didn’t sin today. You can come into the presence of God if you were patient with your kids, were a respectful spouse, shared the gospel, showed integrity at work, didn’t swear, and were perfect today.”

It says, “through faith in him.” Our faith is enough. Our sin makes us no less loveable, and our works make us no more loveable.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We didn’t have to clean ourselves up for God to send Jesus to us—and we don’t have to clean ourselves up to call upon his name now. You are worthy because of what was done for you. Your faith is enough, his grace is enough!

Much love,

Ashley

You Were Created For Good!

I hear so many stories of people being used by God. I become anxious wondering if God will use me too. At times I find myself envious of the way I see others living out their lives for the Lord. I begin to question if I am even capable of serving Him well.

I grew up in a dysfunctional and abusive home, which led me to leave when I was 15 years old. I developed a lot of mixed messages about love and my purpose in the world. As I grew older I made many poor choices and started to believe I was only put on this earth to cause chaos. I felt as though I ruined everything I touched and hurt everyone I came into contact with. It wasn’t until recently that I found the truth.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There is nothing in that scripture which says, “created for chaos, destruction, and hurt.” Do we at times make choices that have detrimental consequences for us and the people we come into contact with? Yes. We are by nature sinful. However, we were not created to continue sinning. We were created IN Jesus Christ to do good works. We may have the best of intentions, but usually that’s not enough. With Jesus, we have the power to carry out the good we always hoped we were capable of.

I was not designed to be, or to believe, that I’m just a useless perpetual screw up—and neither were you.

So now what? If you’re anything like me, you’ll start planning ways to serve God, go at them full steam, and then feel like a failure when they don’t pan out. You find yourself stuck in yet again the same mindset, “Maybe God doesn’t want to use me after all.”

Take a look at what Paul says:

“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“By the working of his power.” Paul didn’t choose his mission. He didn’t force it. He was called to it. Through the power of Christ, Paul served God.

I believe if we pray, are willing, love the Lord, and are diligent in listening to the Spirit’s voice—we will be shown where and when God wants us to serve Him. He will make known to us opportunities. They most likely will not be what we had in mind. Look at Paul! God works in ways far beyond our comprehension. Be patient and know that you were created for good works!

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

His power is at work within you! Start believing the truth about who you are in Christ and what your purpose is. You weren’t meant to survive this life and then die.

“”You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Let your light shine friends.

Much love,

Ashley

3 Reasons To Stop Aiming For Perfect

Are you a perfectionist? Maybe you’re questioning if you are. First, here are few ways to figure out if you might be. A.) You’re a procrastinator. Oddly enough, procrastination is a characteristic of many perfectionists. B.) You’re a black and white thinker. All or nothing. Go big or go home. If something isn’t done right, then it isn’t worth doing. You struggle to find the gray areas of life. C.) You’re constantly comparing yourself to others. D.) You’re never satisfied. E.) You’re a control freak.

If you identified with the above qualities, then congrats—you’re in good company. I’m here to explain why it’s worth giving up the fight to be perfect.

1.) Perfect is UNATTAINABLE.

There is only one person who achieved perfection, and his name is Jesus Christ. He did for us what we simply could not do for ourselves. He lived the perfect life, died, and rose again. When Jesus was raised from the dead, we too were raised to new life. As a result of Jesus’ victory, we get to take part in “his perfect” not ours. We are made whole, righteous, and blemish free not because of anything we did or could do, but by what was done for us. Striving for anything greater than that is a losing fight.

“And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭5:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

2.) Trying to be perfect drains your energy.

If you are trying to attain something that is unattainable, you’re inevitably going to find yourself physically and emotionally exhausted. When you feel like you’ve finally reached that goal, then comes along that one person who did it better than you. It never ends.

“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,”

Isaiah‬ ‭46:8-10 ESV

Perfectionism goes hand in hand with pride. It’s an idol. Whatever our primary focus becomes, is our god. There is no other God besides Him. Nothing we can gain on this earth will remotely satisfy our innate hunger for holiness. When we try to fill ourselves up with anything less than that, we feel empty.

3.) Perfectionism is unattractive.

I’ve never looked at a stereotypical perfectionist and thought, “Wow, I want to be like them!” No. Instead I think, “That person looks stressed out and miserable!” (Usually I’m looking at myself in the mirror.) The point is, perfectionism is not admirable. A desirable person to be around tries their best, admits fault, laughs it off, and learns from their mistakes.

I’ve gotten into far too many arguments because of my perfectionistic nature. They were usually a result of me being controlling, wanting everything done a specific way, and being unable to let the small stuff go. It’s much more fun to be the desirable person.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It’s okay to make mistakes because I’m covered in the blood of Jesus. He is gentle, and promises to teach me if I am willing to listen. There isn’t any need to put heaping amounts of pressure on myself to get everything done right the first time.

Stop trying to be perfect, and start living in grace.

Much Love,

Ashley

No More Fear!

Fear consumes you. Worry paralyzes you. Doubt swallows you whole. There’s nothing more exhausting than fighting your own mind. The things that we fret over most, sometimes don’t even come to be. We do more damage worrying than the possible outcomes that we angst over, ever could.

I used to think that if I was in control then I’d be alright. I fought to map out my days ahead of me, striving to get all the details right so that nothing was left up to chance. Oftentimes this came in the form of my eating disorder. I planned every meal, snack, mile I’d run, social situations to avoid where food might be involved, grocery trips, etc. I was oblivious to the personal hell I was living, so long as my days fit into the neat little box I created in my mind.

Following a very dark and seemingly endless relapse after the birth of my son, I managed to get back into recovery by the grace of God. A little over two years later and I still battle fear every day. I’m learning that Satan is the Father of lies. He knows how to use fear to cripple me. Which means he knows you just as well. I’m finding out just how important it is to run to truth. The only place to find it is in the Word of God.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I do not have the energy to try to untangle my thoughts on my own anymore. It takes conscious effort, but the less time I spend staying stuck in my head, and the quicker I take my fears to God I can move forward. The enemy can’t hold me the same way he used to. I have to remind myself to leave that fear with God once I give it to Him. If I take it back, I hand it over again and again until it’s gone.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭34:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It really is this easy. God doesn’t want us to live in fear!! The key is to seek Him. I know sometimes we’d rather obsess and try to piece together our future. For some of us it’s automatic. However, there is such freedom in letting it all go. It takes time to change your thinking but with Jesus you can. Don’t stay stuck, paralyzed, and miserable!

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Give yourself permission to rest in the perfect love of Christ. Chances are the things you are worried about right now won’t even matter a year from now. Keep the faith.

Much love,

Ashley



Choose Change

“If nothing changes, nothing changes.” -Courtney C. Stevens

We can spend a whole lotta time stuck in a really unhealthy pattern of behavior and not even realize it. Or maybe we do realize it, but we are too focused on blaming someone else for the situation that we fail to recognize our part in it. Some of us HAVE tried for years to break ourselves free from destructive habits and couldn’t.

I have had an ongoing battle with eating disorders for 16 years. I’m currently stable in my recovery but it took an inexplicable amount of pain to get here. I tried to free myself on my own. I also had days where I didn’t want to be free. I wasn’t willing to make the changes because change was terrifying. I was comfortable with the pattern of sickness I had enveloped myself in. The mere thought of change made me feel like I was spiraling out of control. The irony of the situation, was that I had less than no control over my life. Once I was faced with having to choose life versus death, God got my attention. Changes had to be made. Risks had to be taken. Responsibility needed to be assumed. And surrender was the key.

Being a very self critical person in nature, I’ve never had any issue pointing out my faults. It’s possible you’re the same way and self analyzing isn’t an obstacle for you. The problem is the responsibility piece. We can sit around, blame, and beat ourselves up until we are black and blue—but until we accept responsibility and present willingness to change we will stay stuck.

You may say, “But I did accept responsibility and still nothing changes.” Been there. Here’s the key my friend: surrender.

Are you trying to make these changes on your own? Or are you saying, “Jesus, I’m sorry for _____. Please forgive me. I can’t fix myself or this situation. I need you to come in and take over for me. I’m willing to let you be the guide of my life.”

We can accept responsibility but sometimes trying harder just isn’t enough. I know this from my recovery and through other hard life experiences. I’m a resourceful, buckle down, get-it-all-done, kinda person. That’s a determined attitude, but it only got me so far…like a few feet. I’d identify patterns of behavior I needed to work on, clench my fists, and try my hardest to change them, only to find myself disappointed because I failed yet again. It wasn’t until I surrendered that I found success.

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  1. Commit your way to the Lord. Don’t try to keep taking your way back. It doesn’t work.
  2. Trust in him. Take your burdens, lay them at the cross, ask for forgiveness, and believe that Jesus is going to carry them.
  3. Watch and see what he does.

Much love,

Ashley

Limitless

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day! You are loved!

Do you find yourself putting boundaries on God? Do you often think, “He can do this, but probably not this.” Those thoughts can cause us not to seek God because we’ve set limitations on His capabilities. For some reason we think we know best. We give up on God and then go about trying to fix our problems alone.

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭29:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This passage doesn’t describe a God with parameters to me. I see a God of mystery, wonder, might, and power. I picture a God to be feared and to be praised. I do not see predictably or complacency towards creation.

Maybe you’ve thought, “God answers prayers like that for others but not me.” When we think like this, we make ourselves feel as if God might love us less. We start believing our prayers might be answered if we behaved better. We begin thinking we are less adequate compared to those around us.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God doesn’t answer prayers based on good behavior or favorites. We have all sinned. Our only righteousness is in Jesus Christ.

Don’t let your doubts stop you from praying. Your requests aren’t too big for God.

“pray without ceasing,”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God wants us to come to Him. When Jesus died and rose again, we gained access to the Heavenly Father. Why why why would we ignore this privelage and try to do life on our own? Nothing is too big for God! Stop thinking God won’t answer your prayers. There is always an answer. We have to be willing to listen, patient, and trusting. Nothing is off limits.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

If you are someone who struggles to pray, it’s okay. I’ve been there. Here’s some things that helped me:

  1. Don’t be rigid. God doesn’t delight in wordy prayers. He wants us to be real. You are talking to a person. A friend. A Father. It’s a real actual relationship. There are no rules. Be real.
  2. Start a prayer journal. In those moments where focus is an issue, I find writing to God beneficial. I don’t forget what I was saying because it’s on paper! I also tend to feel extra connected to Him this way.
  3. Use the Psalms. The psalms are full of so much emotion. When you don’t know what to pray, start there. Utilize those words and turn them into your own prayers.
  4. If all else fails simply say “Jesus.” There is power in his name alone.

I hope this was an encouragement to you!

Much love,

Ashley

Don’t Be Hard Play-Doh

Yup. You read that right. Today I’m talking about willingness to be used by God. I’m talking about taking your life plans, handing them over, and saying “here God, your will not mine.” Be open to what the Spirit has to say to you.

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

This verse speaks to the character of God. When the Spirit speaks, He doesn’t lead to destruction, disorder, or ruin. We can trust that the Lord’s plans for us are good.

I know this because I made plenty of plans for myself, some with good intentions, but I led myself down many wrong paths. I didn’t consult God and didn’t think twice about being His instrument. I was stubborn. Un-moldable.

I was hard Play-Doh.

My decisions led me to pregnancy a month after my high school graduation (at least I made it right?), marriage at 18, multiple affairs, living in my car, divorce at 23, making money illegally to obtain that divorce, remarriage at 23, second pregnancy 6 months later, a suffering second marriage, and finally—a 16 year battle with eating disorders and various mental illnesses.

In short, when I do life on my own: I’m a train wreck.

Had I listened to God, my life would have turned out much differently. I would have saved myself an inexplicable amount of heartache. Looking back, the Holy Spirit prompted me not to make certain choices. I felt that still small voice saying, “dont do this”, but I didn’t listen.

“Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” Psalms 32:9

In other words, don’t be stubborn, or hard of heart. Don’t be so set on your own way that you lose sight of the fact that God is bigger than you are and His ways are higher than yours.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9

God desires to use us for our good and for His glory. He can’t if we don’t listen to Him. Jesus understands our pain. He lived as we lived so that he could empathize with us as human while fully God. However, this doesn’t mean he wants us to experience pain.

“But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

Start by asking God for the willingness to be willing. Give God your plans. He won’t harm you. Trust Him. Listen to Him. Love Him. Don’t be hard Play-Doh.

Much Love,

Ashley