Dare To Be Different!

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Tulips – April 18, 2017

Last Sunday evening , on my way home from serving at Simonka House, I was chatting with a younger friend of mine. We were talking about being a light where you are, and being true to who you are and who God called you to be. We agreed that it’s difficult for many people not to go with the crowd. Without thinking, I said, “It’s hard to be a shining light if you’re too busy blending in with the dark.”

It is definitely hard to be different in this world, to stand up for what you believe. The world makes it easy to go down the wrong path. The road to destruction is wide, but narrow is the path that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). It isn’t easy being a Christ follower because living for Him goes against the flow of the world (Colossians 3:1-17).

Here is a new poem I wrote about daring to be different:

“Dare To Be different!”

God’s love through us reverses the tide,
goes against the flow of selfish pride.
We’re called to serve as His hands and feet,
showing compassion to all we meet.
Not by power, but by His Spirit alone
we follow His lead – our hearts are His throne!
Living for Him, we shine most brightly
giving up things once held so tightly;
To humbly walk the narrow way,
honoring Him through all that we say:
Speaking grace and truth, in equal parts,
lovingly engaging wayward hearts.
So dare to be different, let His light glow,
Dispel the darkness with the hope you know.
Dare to stand out, lead with truth and love,
pointing everyone to the Father above.

9-23-17
©Ladeena Ashley

As Christ followers, we obey God and not men (Acts 5:29), and some of our ways will seem strange to others. Hopefully, because of the outrageous love of God that we show, it will seem more intriguing than odd. For example: Success in the world’s eyes means “looking out for #1”. In God’s economy, success comes when we look out for others’ interests, often above our own (Philippians 2:3-5). As God works in and through us, His quiet power will shine brighter than the flashiest sports car, biggest gleaming trophy or glittering jewelry! If you’re smiling when the world says you shouldn’t be, that gets people’s attention.

Overall, living and sharing our faith takes a lot of prayer and humility. When we do engage others in tough topics, we can remain true to our faith and beliefs and still be loving about it. Many well-meaning Christians have preached (truth) more than they have shown love (grace), and turned people off (although these days, it seems that just appearing to have differing beliefs seems to offend some people). We must balance God’s truth with love. To love others as He loves us, the key is to abide in His love (spend time with and daily surrender to the Lord) everyday through quiet time, prayer and reading His Word. After all, it’s not really us who is doing the loving, but Christ in us! In our human strength and power, we can’t love the way God calls us to – only by His power can we love and serve the way we are commanded to in His Word (John 15:9-13; 2 Corinthians 3:5).

That being said, we should never back down from calling sin for what it is, and not candy-coat what God so clearly states in His Word. Sharing God’s truth with love, the ultimate goal must be salvation, not to convince others that we’re right and the way they are living is wrong. It’s not about being right, but about God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. Our part is to humbly share. Whether they reject the message or not, it isn’t about us, for Jesus himself said people will hate us because of Him (Matthew 10:22). There will always be a few folks around us – even extended family members – who merely tolerate a Christian’s presence. Yet those are the souls who need our prayers the most!

Dare To Be Different!
Where there is hate, show love. Where there is anger, offer forgiveness. Where there is fighting, be a gentle force of peace. Where there is selfishness, show love and give sacrificially. Where there is hopelessness, show others there is indeed hope, and more love, peace, and joy than what they’ve experienced before, in Christ!

Pray, be available and watch how God moves when you dare to be different!

“..for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Philippians 2:13-16a

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

My True Home

DSCN9075Yellow Rose (Thinking of Texas, Louisiana & Florida) – September 10, 2017

 

Last week I discovered that the house my husband and I had most recently rented was torn down. Driving over to the old neighborhood to check it out, my nostalgia turned to disbelief as I neared the corner where a house, huge willow tree, fence, ash tree and shop once stood. My eyes filled with tears, staring at the vacant lot which was now only dirt, gravel and a few stakes surrounded by a chain link fence. A large sign announced the townhouses to come.

It’s amazing how attached we all get to places and things. There’s a keen sense of loss when the familiar disappears, either by wrecking ball, fire, storm, or simply relocating. It feels like small pieces of ourselves and our memories go with it.

Yet, as a follower of Christ, I know this world is not my home. As the old song goes, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through…”*. I am in fact an alien in this world (Philippians 3:20), because by His Spirit, the Lord has made His home in me (Ephesians 3:17)! Feeling a little wistful about things is okay, but my ultimate happiness and security do not hinge on where I live or what I have.

Wiped Clean
In a way, it is a blessing that the house we called home for seven years is gone. There were good and bad memories, and now the slate as well as the lot are wiped clean. It’s time to build something else. Something better.

Similarly, reconciliation is a long process that starts with a demolition of sorts. You have to break things down and get back to basics before you can begin to build again. The same is true for ending relationships and starting over, however I’m still praying and working toward healing and restoration. My life is continually under construction as the Master Builder works out His will in and through me!

True Home
I’m looking forward to what God has in store, both in life here on earth, and my true home in heaven that will never be demolished! Jesus said, “I am going to prepare a place for you….” (John 14:1-4). In the King James Version of the Bible, it’s described as a mansion, but I’d be happy with a quaint country cottage, log cabin in the woods, or a cozy beach bungalow! Really, though, no matter what form it takes, just to be with Him in heaven will feel more like home than anywhere on earth!

Here is a poem I wrote about my true home:

“My Home”

At home with my Savior,
heart’s door open wide;
No fears or worries there,
for love and peace abide.
His will, my goal,
His love, my only need,
His guidance through all things,
my willing soul to lead.
I’m in God’s holy family,
trusting in His perfect plan;
Committing all to His control,
though I don’t understand.
But wisdom comes with patience;
Through the Spirit, with my sword,
I simply pray for contentment,
for my home is with the Lord.

6-6-93
©Ladeena Ashley

Where is your home? Where do you turn when what’s familiar goes away? As followers of Christ, we have hope for today as well as the glorious promise of heaven: eternal life with the Lord, where tears, loss and pain are no more. The hope of heaven that I carry in my heart lightens my spirit and gives me strength during the uncertainties and losses of life. Remembering how far I’ve come, I have joy knowing His plans for me are perfect and good (Psalm 18:30). Every step taken and every word written leads me closer to heaven, trusting that as I bear witness of His grace, by His power others may also experience that reassurance. I hope and pray that you have the hope of heaven that comes through personal belief in Jesus Christ.

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all of the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19

Faith Notes
I love this song about our true home: Where I Belong – Building 429
Note: Link opens up in new window.

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

 

*Credit: Albert E. Brumley ©Copyright 1938

I Still Have Hope! Do You?

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I really didn’t mean to take a two week break. Things in my personal life threw me for a loop even before Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas and Louisiana, wildfires ravaged the Northwest and Hurricane Irma began tearing a path toward Florida.

The relationship that was on hold is not yet resolved, but at least we’re in the same state. I wish I could say that things were progressing nicely, but we still keep hitting the same old roadblocks. The added stress caused chronic headaches and increased my fatigue, which severely hampered my desire and inspiration to write. Thankfully I’m better now.

What Differences?
The eclipse was a literal bright spot of these past few weeks. It was amazing! Here in Salem, Oregon, we got a perfect view of God’s handiwork. It reminded me just how small we all are, and more alike than some prefer to admit. There was a short-lived peace as all eyes peered heavenward, setting aside their differences, if only for a while.

With the floods and wildfires, there arose entirely different reasons for setting aside differences. What an encouragement to see people rise up in love and compassion, helping others in times of crisis and disaster! It’s one of the good things that God brings out of what the enemy uses for evil. Strength and resilience is tested and grows through struggle and heartbreak. If life was always easy, we’d all be a bunch of wimps!

Here’s a poem I wrote about the source of my strength, and hope:

“Only God”

Only God has the answers for every troubled soul;
Only Jesus’ blood has the power to rid us of death’s hold.
Only God will be here now, understanding all we go through:
Because He loves us so much, He helps us in all we do.
Only Jesus is the answer to your deepest of desires;
In this contrasting world, His love smothers hateful fires.
Only God will be listening when all courage disappears:
When other people turn away, He’s the One Who always hears.
Only God will be here tomorrow – we may be at the end of our rope;
But God works all things together for good, and gives us hope.
For Jesus walks close beside us along the path of light;
As the Spirit guides our hearts, we’ll reflect His love into the night.

10-10-94
©Ladeena Ashley

Near the End?
We’re told in Scripture that there will be various calamities, wars and rumors of wars before Jesus returns. All that’s happening right now may be only the beginning of the “birth pains” (Matthew 24:6-8). We know from His Word that it is all going according to His plan, so no matter what happens, whether storm, fire or threats of war, I know my God is still on the throne. I don’t understand how all of the puzzle pieces of life go together, but He has the puzzle box and sees how glorious the finished picture will be!

In church last Sunday, we had a missionary couple speak about their work in India. It was refreshing to hear some good news in the world. Of special interest to me was just how many unique dialect groups live in isolated and remote villages that have yet to be reached with the Gospel of Christ. With all that’s going on in the world today, many folks are wondering if Jesus is coming soon. Yet the Bible says that the Good News must be shared with ALL nations (all groups and tribes) before He returns (Matthew 24:14), and that doesn’t seem to have happened quite yet.

Shine and Serve
While we’re still here, the call to shine His light and serve others remains on those who claim to be followers of Jesus. The biggest disaster that can befall your family and friends won’t come from earthquakes, fire, flood, or the like. No, the biggest calamity is that loved ones might perish without ever standing on the solid ground of hope or experiencing the cleansing power of forgiveness by grabbing the life ring that is saving faith in Jesus Christ!

The darker this world becomes, the more obvious the light that we carry becomes. Be a beacon of hope! Help and donate whatever you can, but more importantly: pray for those affected by the disasters both near and far. Pray that those without hope will find it in the Lord, through the prayers and actions of the believers who surround them.

Faith Notes
Here is a great song that expresses a lot of my thoughts right now:
I Have This Hope – by Tenth Avenue North
(Note: Link opens up in a new window.)

“I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

Declaration of Dependence

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Nature’s fireworks! May 17, 2017

 

I have mixed feelings about Independence Day. Two years ago, on a sweltering July day, it became obvious that I needed to make a change by stepping away from an increasingly emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Thankfully, the Lord had been preparing me for it, helping me steadily rebuild my faith and reclaim my identity in Him, so when the moment came I was strong enough to take action.

This poem is a declaration of dependence, of sorts. Written only weeks before that pivotal day, it is a prayer of joyful trust and commitment to follow the Lord wherever He led.

“Uncharted Faith, Grateful Hope”

As far as I can go,
I come, my all to bare;
Hands open, ready to receive
any guidance that You share.
Beyond my understanding,
to uncharted faith so wild.
Boldly trusting You’ll lead me
when I ask, for I’m Your child.
Beloved because of mercy,
going forth only by grace;
Filled anew with grateful hope
each day as I seek Your face.
For indeed, when I come humbly
to offer this meager frame,
My heart is light and free –
You love me and know me by name!
I could not flee from Your presence,
though I’ve fallen short of Your will.
Forgiveness covers shortcomings
– Jesus fully paid my bill.
So I reach out in trust and awe,
setting aside my every fear;
Strengthened, knowing through it all,
when I come, You meet me here.
Thank You, Lord, for loving me
– I pray my life honors You.
So that others can’t help but see
Your goodness in all I do.

6-14-15
©Ladeena Ashley

There is still no clear resolution in my situation, but the Lord has brought me this far, so I continue to follow His direction each step of the way. Meanwhile, He helps me keep growing, serving and sharing His love any way I can.

My faith is strong because God has an impeccable track record. Since deciding to trust the Lord and give Him my life at the age of 13, He has never let me down. I may suffer consequences from bad decisions, but through Christ my sins are forgiven, and His strength and peace have carried me through more tough times than I can count. I’ve learned that I can always depend on Him, and good things come to those who fully trust Him and obey His Word.

So, today I pray that you claim the true life and liberty that is found in trusting Christ! (John 17:3; John 8:36)

Daily declare your dependence on God; then He can fill up your heart so it bursts with shining hope and joy, like fireworks in the darkness of this world!

“Be strong, and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship, don’t be ashamed to seek wise, godly counsel and support to either attempt to improve the situation or get out of it. Each circumstance is different. For confidential advice and resources, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).



Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

Peace in the Midst of Change

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Double Delight rose – May 23, 2017

Besides death and taxes, to many it seems the only other sure thing in life is change. It is inevitable. Seasons change. Hairstyles and clothing styles change. We change jobs, begin and end relationships, let go of or lose possessions. Our bodies and habits change as we get older…the list goes on.

However, as a follower of Christ, I find deep reassurance in knowing that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and that the God of the universe is the infinite, perfect and unchanging source of love, hope, peace and joy.

For me, there is great comfort in knowing that I don’t serve a fickle God who says one thing one moment, then amends it the next. If God changed, that would imply that He could somehow improve or be worse. In that case, He would hardly be worthy of following. No, He is complete and perfect in all His ways, and always will be. He, His Word and His promises stand forever. Incredible peace is found when a soul accepts deep down that God is Who He says He is, and they can trust Him to follow through on what He says He will do. If the Lord seems to change at times, it is merely one of the side-effects of living in a fallen world and the limited human perspective from which we view our circumstances.

Here’s a poem I wrote about the changing of the seasons, and how having the Lord as a constant companion through each transition inspires me to stay devoted to Him, in turn, through whatever changes come in life:

“God Of All Seasons”

Through all seasons, He’s the reason
we can more than cope;
So rejoice and sing, for our King
has given us ultimate hope!
In ice and snow, the love we know
will never lose its power;
God sustains through sun and rain
to strengthen us each hour.
Warmth in winter, a cooling spring
to allay the summer heat;
He’s everything for those who trust Him
to make their joy complete.
From first to last, the future and past
are under His control;
His love and grace fill every place
to mend each troubled soul.
Fall leaves change, we think it strange
to see night drop so soon;
Yet God’s the same in love and name
in December as well as June.
God of all the seasons,
forever, Lord, help me be
ever faithful through all weather
as You shine Your love through me.

10-16-99
©Ladeena Ashley

Son Shine
As summer begins, I’m much more apt to head outside, either on foot or on my bicycle. There are more opportunities to interact with people who don’t know the faithful God I serve. My prayer is that as we all get out and enjoy the sun, we always remember to shine the love of the Son to all we meet. The world is in an ever-increasing state of flux, seemingly spinning more and more out of control every day. All the more reason to share Who keeps our lives centered and even joyful in the midst of the chaos.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Extra Credit
Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6a

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Ashley
2017 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)

Captain Of My Soul

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On this Memorial Day weekend, I am especially thankful for the freedom to share my faith because of the brave military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Regretfully, I am lacking in material regarding our various armed forces and the incredible sacrifices they have made and continue to make around the world. Most of my writings are about spiritual battlefields and the unseen warfare for our souls and minds. I’m much more familiar with that kind of battle!

My late father served several tours as a Navy Seal in Vietnam. In honor of him and of the many others who perished while serving in the military or after returning home, here is a poem about Jesus, Who gave His life so we could be free! By following His lead we find peace and safe passage through the treacherous waters of life!

“Captain of My Soul”

In Him are streams of water
without Him, a desert land;
With His love a bounty,
without it, selfish hands.
Within me, Christ dwells
as the Captain of my soul.
Floods of grace abounding
as He the wheel controls.
His compass ever guides me
along shores of light and peace;
Blown ever onward, I will sail
’til my earthly ropes release.
Oh, Captain, my Captain,
my soul finds rest in You
Setting sail without fear upon
this journey grand and new.
Each day I wake and greet the sky
the Son lights it so bright!
And even the stars still guide my way
as I navigate at night!
Thank You, O Lord, for salvation’s gold
I love You forever, Captain of my soul.

8-2-98
©Ladeena Ashley

Out of curiosity, I looked up the ranking order of the United States Navy. I realize now that the highest rank on the seas is really an Admiral (Fleet Admiral, to be exact), so Jesus is really my Admiral, not simply Captain. Also, though I had “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman in mind when I wrote this poem, Jesus is very much alive – only “fallen cold and dead” a short time before rising victoriously from the grave on the third day!

As you remember loved ones and strangers who have lived and passed on after vowing to serve our country, give thanks for the freedoms they helped secure and maintain. But also give thanks for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross so we could be free from the punishment for our sins. Through His death and resurrection we have salvation, victory over the enemy, hope, and peace even in the midst of war.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:9-10

Extra Credit

Ephesians 6:10-18

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

Patience or Indifference?

20170406_125109Periwinkle – April 6, 2017

This evening, before eating dinner, it was a challenge for me to focus and pray. For some reason I’ve been in a bit of a funk. (I partially blame the dismal, drizzly weather, though it does make for some gorgeous raindrop-accented photos.) Not depressed, just not sensing God’s presence quite as much as I had been.

For one thing, all this waiting is taking its toll on me. One minute I’m full of faith and hope for reconciliation, and then in the next, I’m tired and ready to throw in the towel. When I last inquired of the Lord about continuing to wait, I sensed that I should indeed stay the course. It was a simple answer, and there’s a reassuring peace in knowing, but it is brutal just the same.

So tonight I thanked the Lord for my job and what I’d accomplished today, and for the meal. Then, out of my mild malaise, I asked Him to show me if there’s something I need to be doing differently, because I don’t want anything holding me back from His will in my life. Sensing that I should let my dinner cool just a few moments more, I opened my devotional book, “My Utmost For His Highest”, and read today’s entry.

God answered using the words of Oswald Chambers, who pointed out that there’s a difference between patience and indifference, and the key is to keep focused on the Lord as our source of inspiration and strength. That there will be seasons when we don’t hear anything (or very little) from the Lord, and we must endure like Jesus did when He was tempted in the wilderness. Thankfully I’m not in a “dry season”, but it does happen.

While waiting, there have been times that I’ve slipped from patience to indifference. Waiting is painful, and I’d rather not think about it! Yet I have all the fortitude I need, and more, in Jesus. Furthermore, there’s actually great value in struggling, for when all is well and I cease striving, it’s all too easy to become complacent in my faith. In fact, faith seems less necessary when life is good. Yes, we should be content with what we have, but there should also be a “holy discontent” that keeps nudging us from the good we enjoy and do, toward the even greater things He has waiting for us in the wings!

Here’s a prose poem about striving for God’s best:

“Greater Blooms”

Dancing in dandelions
Oblivious to roses of promise
Content with what we have.
Yet in the fields, God is calling
to reject the blithe comforts
– to long for greater blooms.
We cannot see for all the ochre
Happily we exist in present blessings.
Beyond the field is danger
Extending our hearts to break
or soar, enfolded in love’s wings
to land amidst magenta petals
yet now out of imagination’s eyes.
But God sees all and waits
to bless us once we’re ready
to take the risk to dream.

12-17-98
©Ladeena Ashley

I don’t know how things will play out, but God does, and therefore I will continue to wait. Not with indifference, but with a joyful expectation that grows as I humbly keep my eyes focused on Him! (Hebrews 12:1-2)

In Closing…
If life is going well for you, thank the Lord but don’t stop striving.

If you’re waiting on God for something, I pray you can wait with joy for His will to work out in His perfect timing.

Whatever you may be going through now, count your blessings you already have, and stay focused on Christ, because your answer is right around the corner!

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

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)

Poem’s Progress

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(Picture: Herald of Spring – Crocus. Taken: 3-9-17)

John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Not surprisingly, most poems I am inspired to write are from my own experiences and point of view. The one featured in this post is the first time I recall writing as God spoke directly to me, for me. It was written during a pivotal time in my young life: graduation not far behind me and an uncertain but wide-open future ahead. What the Lord spoke to my heart encouraged me to keep looking to Him through it all.

“You First!”

Hear Me when you have the voice,
Choose Me when you have the choice.
Fear Me when you have fear,
Come close and I’ll be near.
I never forsake those who call,
I lift up the weary who fall.
Follow My light when darkness is seen;
Accept My forgiveness and you will be clean.
Blindly trust Me and then you will see:
My love lasts for all eternity.
Hope in Me when no hope is there,
Love Me when your feelings are bare.
Acknowledge Me in everything you do.
Look towards Me and I will see you through.

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© Ladeena Ashley

Creative Inspiration
The poems I write aren’t planned, they are caught on paper as inspiration strikes! Most of my experiences writing poetry begin with one simple word or a suddenly meaningful phrase. Either a familiar one from a new perspective, an odd combination of words, or simply a random concept inspired by something I’ve seen.

My soul instinctively recognizes whether it is a moment to smile and reflect, or to swiftly grab a paper and pen to keep the inspiration for posterity. Thoughts seem to come from within and yet without; separate from but working in tandem somehow with my own thinking. Once the initial word or phrase is penned, another soon follows. Like a warm summer breeze, the inner prompting and “still small voice”of the Holy Spirit at once enlivens and calms my soul.

My heart, mind, soul and the Holy Spirit seem to dance together, swaying in a glorious rhythm to compose each line, expressing the very lyrics and steps of my faith. The harmony of my heart in full surrender to God silences all discordant fear and doubt. Without speculation as to the ending, I continue writing until the words cease flowing and I sense it is complete. Gleeful inspiration then gives way to reverent awe and peace. Often I lose myself in writing, and it’s only when I finally read my chicken scratch and scribbles that I begin to fully grasp what’s been created.

Blessed to Be A Blessing
I feel incredibly blessed to have such a close relationship with the God of the universe, and that He saw fit to grant me this gift to share with others. For me, the otherworldly peace, love and holy excitement I feel – in moments of everyday life, but especially when writing – are evidence of a real and living God. It is amazing to be known and loved so deeply and completely, and in thankful awe be able to convey the reason for my hope through verse and rhyme. It never ceases to amaze me. God never ceases to amaze me.

God will be close to you, too, if you let Him. The enemy knocks loudly, but the Lord whispers to our souls. Learn to quiet your soul in order to hear His still, small voice.

As believers, we’re all given gifts. Don’t hesitate to trust Him to help you use what He has given you to be a blessing to others, wherever you are.

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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