Steps To Healing

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Today I went to a local park to think and pray about the message topic my friend will be sharing at Simonka House tonight: loving others, along with the other “one another” verses in the Bible.

I was also ruminating about this morning’s sermon, the Parable of the Sower: seeds that represent the Gospel message (the Good News of what Jesus did for us), and the types of spiritual soil in people’s lives to accept it. There’s the path (just surface), rocky soil (accepting, only to fall away quickly), thorny, weed-filled soil (good choked out by sin and the cares of this world), and good soil (acceptance and steady growth). What stuck with me was the idea that weeds are native to the soil and so easily grow with no effort on our part. How true is that?!

Strolling around the rose garden, I noticed a lot of stray pieces of wood chips and branches that had ended up in the grass pathways. As I began absentmindedly tossing or kicking them back into the rose beds, I had to admit that lately I’d let my spiritual garden get messy in my desire to sequester myself and just “be” for a bit. Instead of tending to it, I’ve simply distracted myself, letting the weeds do what the enemy intends them to do… choke out the good that God has planned.

It’s been a while since I’ve written, and He knows I’ve needed the rest. On top of adjusting after the divorce, I’ve had ongoing car troubles over this past month. Resting is okay and even expected, to a point, but the Lord gently reminded me that I must continue tending to my spiritual garden and stay closer to Him.

Yet God had something more to tell me this afternoon. Finding a bench in the shade, I was about to sit down when I saw a flash of red on the ground underneath it.
It was a painted rock in the shape of a half heart. On the back were instructions on how to find the other half. I chose a direction and then carefully took the required number of steps, finding the other half on the first try!
Finally sitting down, holding these painted rocks in my hands, the Lord gave me this thought: at some point you have to take steps to put your heart back together and heal. Tears filled my eyes as I let that simple truth move from my head into my heart.

On my own, this is impossible. But through Christ I will have the strength to take the necessary steps to healing (Philippians 4:13). One way is to serve others. For even as I heal, there is joy to be found as I continue stepping out in faith to “love one another” and “bear with one another” as He commands us to do (John 15:9-12).

As Christ followers, we must all take the time, with the help of the Master Gardener, to repent of and deal with the thorns, brambles and stick-tights of life. Everyone’s weeds look different, but Christ died so that we can be weed free! Each day His mercies are new, and as we open ourselves to be tilled and fertilized by the Spirit, He helps us dislodge the weeds. Then the seeds of truth He flings into our lives will grow, yielding a bounty of love, hope and light that we can then share with the world.

Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Ashley
All Rights Reserved (Blog content and photos)

You Can Be Healed!

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We all need healing at many points in our lives. For some it is physical, for others it is emotional, mental or spiritual. When we cry out to God to alleviate the hurt, pain and struggles, we must come with faith and expectant hope that He is listening and will answer us (James 1:6). We also need to confess any sins and forgive others (and ourselves!) before we can ask for healing (Mark 11:24-25).

Sometimes we are miraculously healed the moment we place our request at the Lord’s feet, but because He knows us fully and responds to the deepest cries of our hearts, restoration may not be in the manner we expect. Other times we must participate daily in the healing process. A prayer of surrender may merely be the first step toward a long journey of slow but steady healing as He walks us through the necessary changes, often bringing caring people into our lives to help keep us accountable.

Prayer and Poem
Last night at Simonka House, we held a special healing service for the homeless women. Knowing that I’d likely be called upon to pray with them (I’m uncomfortable praying out loud with others, but working on it), I had prayed beforehand that He would “get me out of the way” and use this imperfect vessel as He saw fit. The Lord answered my prayer, in part, by giving me a new poem, which I shared. Here’s what I wrote:

“Current Of Grace”

God’s calling from the other side,
across the river of belief,
where healing waters flow swift and wide,
washing away the hurt and grief.
Not to worry if you can’t swim
– just let your fears go under;
Safest place is to be with Him,
immersed in hope and wonder.
Surrender to the current of grace;
Only His love can make you whole.
Arms open – lift up your face
and let the flood restore your soul.
Until finally you float ashore
and joyfully meet His gaze.
Complete in Christ, you’ll want no more
than to overflow with praise!
So take the first step to healing
God will meet you where you are;
The joy the enemy’s been stealing
will come to you, near or far.
Take the plunge, no hesitation!
Be renewed by the deep river
that flows without reservation
from the Great Physician and Life Giver.

6-9-17
©Ladeena Ashley

God Showed Up
Joining the team in the front of the chapel room was not easy for me, but while anointing and praying one-on-one with the women, the Spirit moved powerfully! It was especially meaningful when a couple of the women asked for deliverance from depression and anxiety. Having experience with that myself, I related on a deeper level and prayed with more passion and authority in public than I ever had before! One more way God uses the negatives in our lives for good! (Romans 8:28)

My Journey
Looking back over these past two years, I’ve experienced almost overnight spiritual healing, and others have noticed the amazing personal transformation in my life. Emotional healing takes longer, but the Lord has been faithful and will continue walking with me every day as I lean fully into Him.

Victory!
Another area of steady healing for me has been financial. In fact this week, after languishing under a dismal cloud of debt for most of my adult life, I can now say that I am debt free! I praise the Lord every day for the wisdom, faith and resourceful strength to endure those hard times and emerge victorious!

In Closing
God loves you so much, and longs to be gracious to you (Isaiah 30:18). Whatever you may need healing for, take the plunge into His Living Water! Don’t simply stick a toe in the current of grace, or you won’t experience all that God has for you! Surrender fully to His love today and your fears and hurt will be swept away! (Ha! That rhymes!)

Faith Notes
This song by one of my favorite artists fits well with today’s theme:
Jordan Feliz – “The River” (Note: Link will open in new window.)

“Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to His anointed. He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:6-7

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Ashley
2017 All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

An Easter Poem

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I’ve struggled a lot with what to say in this post. Last weekend I was plagued with a series of migraines and tension headaches that pretty much had me feeling useless. Knowing that Easter was coming, and I’d missed a week (in my mind anyway), there was a great deal of internal pressure to write a truly moving and meaningful post for this important holiday. After worshiping with a few songs, I felt ready to compose something special.

Here’s what God helped me write:

“Easter Poem”

Hallelujah! What a Savior!
“It is finished!” Jesus cried,
All our shameful, bad behavior
on the cross was crucified.
Then, that glorious third day
Jesus mightily overcame
Death and the grave itself,
fully despising its shame.

“Christ is risen!” “He’s risen indeed!”
We shout out on Easter Day;
He showed the way to be freed
when He rolled the stone away.
Because the Father sacrificed
His only Son from heaven above,
there’s healing and peace beyond belief,
forgiveness and unending love!

Such a wondrous feeling to be saved
through faith, by His amazing grace.
Mercies new each day, I start again,
with a joyful smile upon my face!
Can’t help but share my hope with others
as I’m loving and serving them, too.
Giving my life because Christ gave His
is really the least that I could do!

4-15-17
©Ladeena Ashley

Pressure
I must confess that this poem reads much differently than what I began with.

So what happened? Taking pen to paper, all I got down was six long lines before getting stuck. After several furtive attempts to continue, I eventually stepped away. Feeling like a failure for a few moments, I stopped myself and asked the Lord if perhaps I was pushing too hard. Was an Easter post His idea or mine? Ultimately, I surmised that the pressure I put on myself to write seemed to turn this joyful ministry into somewhat of a chore. To be honest, I do have the tendency to downgrade even enjoyable activities as mere items on a mental to-do list to be accomplished. I’d gotten in the habit of posting every week, but in reality, it should be God’s timing. It still seemed like the right thing to do this time, so after a short break and more prayer, I finally scooped up my laptop and sat somewhere more comfortable to write the post and finish the poem.

Joyful Ministry
Whatever you’re planning to do this Easter and beyond, keep in mind what Christ did for you, and share with others as you feel led. As I was reminded again recently: as a believer, everything you do is ministry. At work, at home, at school, at the store, not just at church. Every day is a new beginning, a chance to grow and a chance to love and serve others. Just don’t let it become a chore, like I sometimes do. Jesus died for us so when we surrender our lives to Him we would each live out our special purpose. So if you’re not sure what that is, pray and ask Him to show you. It helps to make a list of of what you’re good at (skills and gifts) and what you’ve learned (in school and in life), and you might see a pattern. Once you’ve discovered what your purpose is, get out there and do it… joyfully!

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Ashley
2017 All Rights Reserved (blog content and photo)

Life’s Thorns vs. Resolute Faith

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Recently I spent some time in a local park that features a colorful rose garden. Like me, I suspect that image brings to your mind the classic metaphor “every rose has its thorns”. An even better, personal response would be, “instead of grumbling that roses have thorns, I am thankful that bushes have roses”.

Bugs vs. Blessings

While admiring God’s handiwork in the garden, another thought sprang into my mind: “When life gives you stink bugs, remember what they’re sitting on.” In other words: Yes, there are troubles, but life overall is beautiful, and our blessings are too numerous to count! For me, the greatest joy is my relationship with Christ: roses also remind me of the thorns He bore and the blood He shed in sacrificing His life for me. My second greatest gifts are family and friends, who have been so supportive as I’ve faced various challenges over the years.

Life’s Thorns

Many others like myself suffer through chronic pain, medical issues and other physical challenges, and have been quite literally sorely tempted to give up. To give into despair or even rail at God for letting this happen, much less continue. At times, even I have wanted nothing more than to curl up into a fetal position and bawl my eyes out. Honestly, I’ve done that a few times in my life, because I’ve learned that it is more healthy to acknowledge and (safely) express your feelings than it is to pretend everything is okay. However, my wallowing doesn’t last long. After a “good cry”, I get right back up and dust myself off, remembering the pain Christ went through for me: a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3), He knows my pain and hears the cries of my heart (Psalm 38:9). In addition to prayer, sometimes those cries (and joys) come in the form of journaling, dancing and writing poetry. If you don’t already have ways to help work through your own “thorns”, I encourage you to find your own healthy expressions. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Let the Lord heal you; if not physically, then emotionally and spiritually.

Poem of Prayer 

I’ve learned the thorns in my life keep me humble, and God uses them to bless others. I recently wrote this poem to the Lord; a prayer of commitment to follow and serve Him by sharing His infinite love with others:

“Resolute Heart”

Won’t let my resolve simply dissolve
Lord, I’ll ever be true to You.
Whether in want or gain, sun or rain
I praise You for seeing me through.
My closest friend, Jesus, You mend
every hurt and dry all my tears.
Strengthened by grace in Your sweet embrace,
drawing close, all fear disappears.
Sheltered and warm through every storm;
In You I’m kept humbly grounded.
Yet filled with joy that none can destroy,
the hope in my heart is well-founded!
Let some call me crazy – never lazy;
working hard at the pace of your grace.
Heart resolute, Your love, my pursuit;
Serving in second place wins the race.
Steadfast in my assertion, no desertion,
no shrinking back from the call today.
Onward I endeavor, Yours forever,
encouraging others along the way.

© Ladeena Ashley
8-23-16

Follow the Son

Perhaps you don’t have some sort of chronic illness, but we all deal with relationship struggles, challenges at home, work or school, and it is impossible to ignore the escalating violence, cynicism and general unrest in the world today. These are not new, and Jesus Himself warned us that we’d have troubles in this world, but He continued by saying that we should be encouraged, because He has overcome the world (John 16:33)! We can focus on the thorns, or we can trust the Master Gardener: following the Son, blooming where we’re planted, spreading and cultivating His love and hope with others right where we are.

© Ladeena Ashley
2016 All Rights Reserved (content & blog photos)