Undercurrent of Grace

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The Lord continually amazes me. Lately my life has been marked with deep pain and frustration – which I’ll share more about in a future post – yet God never fails to give me strength and grace to endure. God is good even when life feels terrible!

The message theme for this past Sunday evening at Simonka Place was frustration. The Lord has impeccable timing! I love how He gently teaches me so that, sometimes sooner than later, I will write down and pass along what I’ve learned. Sharing my experiences and encouraging others makes the trying times a little less so. Yet again, the Lord inspired me with another faith-affirming new poem to share:

“Undercurrent of Grace”

When frustration and pain weigh me down,
riles me up or causes me to frown,
I turn to You, Jesus, You lift me up,
You lighten my heart and refill my cup.
Caught in the swift undertow of my fear,
I just call out Your name and You draw near.
In short-sighted times when things fall apart,
I trust that You forever hold my heart.
Through every hardship, as I humbly seek Your face,
You carry me with an undercurrent of grace.
In the darkest moments when many fail,
You call me Your champion, and help me prevail.
Swept into new depths of hope and love,
eyes off of myself and reset up above.
Strengthened to faithfully follow Your lead,
for it’s all You ask; You’re all that I need.
Sure of what I hope for, my confidence in You;
Turning all things for good is what You do!
Lord, Your perfect love rewrites my story
so it shines the light of hope, for Your glory.
I trust You, Jesus, I lean into Your embrace,
content to be carried by Your transforming grace.

4-22-18
©Ladeena Ashley

Sources of Inspiration

Earlier on Sunday, during the morning sermon, the idea that most resonated with me was that God calls me His champion. That when troubles come into our lives, He has confidence that we can fight the good fight of the faith (1 Timothy 6:12) and overcome by His power. As the phrase goes, if He brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it! He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. As His beloved children, when we remain committed to His ways, we are carried by a grace that transforms our fear into faith and turns us from worriers into warriors!

Sunday school class also dovetailed neatly into this concept of overcoming. The only way to not only survive but thrive during hardships is to keep our eyes focused on Him instead of all that’s wrong in this world. That in particular, we could all watch a little less news and media in general, which seems increasingly negative and sensationalized, and spend more time reflecting on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8-9). Not that we poke our heads in the sand, but that we adjust our internal lens to view life from a godly perspective, instead of being emotionally tossed to and fro by every shocking headline or story. “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” (Matthew 24:6) Instead of getting yanked into the undertow of fear, live your life in gentle surrender to the undercurrent of grace.

Some moments are more frustrating than others, but all the Lord asks is that we do our best to faithfully follow His lead. He will do the rest. Hold onto His promises, trust in His plan for you, then get in there and fight like the champion you are!

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Ashley
2018 All Rights Reserved (Blog content and photos)

Positively Thankful!

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Today is a milestone: a year ago I followed God’s lead and created this blog. I set out on this electronic journey not knowing exactly what I would write, how many photos I’d take (hint: a LOT), or how long this trail would go. This endeavor has been both a challenge and a joy so far, writing and sharing what God’s been up to in my life.

This day I’m pausing to give special thanks to God for who He is and all He has done. I thank Him for my incredibly supportive friends and family, and I thank Him for all the blessings great and small that He has seen fit to grant me each and every day.

To those of you who follow my humble little blog, whether you’ve recently begun following, or you’ve been reading from the beginning, thank you so much. I have appreciated every “like”, comment and share, and look forward to hearing more.

I don’t know what the next year has in store, but I’m sure it will be good! It makes me smile to think that God is using me to inspire and uplift so many. Unlike some other websites, I’m not selling anything, but I am sold out for Christ! Liberally promoting positivity and kindness with every post, my hope is that my readers will pay it forward!

Looking through my poems, this one seemed to fit my thankful and reflective mood:

“Winding Trail”

Giddy expectation of heavenly reward.
Love follows love – and all from the Lord.
Grateful exultation of Christ my King,
Who alone understands me and gives me everything.
So very thankful, beyond what words express.
I’m loving more deeply, and happier with less.
Trusting God completely – no cause for doubt or fear.
For His promises are true; His mercy draws me near.
Grace propels me onward, great joy lights up my way.
Ever glowing in this valley, with faith as bright as day.
From blessing to blessing, each hour, wisdom grows.
As I walk in hope and peace, I conquer all my foes!
No matter what others say, my strength comes from inside:
For by His Spirit, I am free! Set apart, sanctified!
Traveling with Jesus along this winding trail,
I smile and sing His praises, knowing His love will prevail!

8-11-2015
©Ladeena Ashley

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

Extra Credit
Colossians 3:12-17

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

A Healthy Balance

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Marsh Marigold (closeup) – March 12, 2017

I have LOT on my mind these days, and May is looking to be a particularly jam-packed month for me. It seems the busier I get, the more can distract and pull me away from God. That even goes for Christian service as well as everyday activities.

Besides my responsibilities, there is much going on in the world to read, think and pray about. Yet, for me it’s gotten out of hand: recently I’ve been spending precious minutes reading practically every article under the sun, plus taking a few too many online surveys and playing games on my phone. With such sensory overload, it obviously creates a struggle to stay focused on Christ. There has become an imbalance – it’s a fine line between staying informed and relaxing, and just wasting time.

Here’s an older poem about time suckers:

“Distractions”

Wanting less to want more,
except more of my Savior.
Feeling regretful
of my consuming behavior.
The details of daily life
take an enormous toll;
Although I know full well
that God is in control.
This world distracts
entertaining time away
which can’t be relived
to take a minute to pray.
A simple, “I am here, Lord”
With open mind and heart
is enough to break the chains
and make a brand-new start.
As I give Him my moments,
He’ll steer me from wrong.
God is in the details,
and to Him I belong.

9-15-03
©Ladeena Ashley

Self-Control
Learning to put my phone down is an issue that comes down to discipline. Even as technology changes, our need for self-control doesn’t diminish. As one of the fruits of the Spirit, it is one of several indicators of how well we’re walking with Christ. The more intentional we are about being obedient to God and the more time spent in His Word, the more He transforms us and the fruits bear out in our life! We must be consistently surrendering and growing in knowledge of Him!

I don’t know what you may need to set aside more often. Like me, perhaps your cell phone has become like a cell, and you’re imprisoned by the constant need to check it. Or perhaps it’s the TV or other activity that hogs too much time or isn’t productive. Whatever the habit, pray about it and the Spirit will help you regain a healthy balance.

A few ideas: Set specific time frames for the activity, and stick to them. Occupy your hands and mind with something else more worthwhile. Grab your Bible instead of your phone (unless it’s a Bible app)!

It reminds me of a favorite hymn: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22

Extra Credit
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

Bring Your A Game!

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English Daisy – April 18, 2017

It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well, but a thankful change of attitude is even more necessary in the midst of frustration and struggles. I call it bringing my A game (Always be thankful). Here’s one of my older poems that addresses this need:

“Perfect Praise”

Trusting God is wonderful,
and supplies one with much peace,
for when we look up and praise Him
our inner fears and turmoils cease.
In praise, God has created
the quickest way to liberation:
Humbly trusting, filled with hope,
giving God all our adoration.
Thanking Him comes more easily
through the happiest of our days;
But true communion and joy is found
when we fill every moment with praise.
Though things aren’t always easy,
it will get better along the way,
As we thank God for what He’s done,
resting in His mercies when we pray.
Faith is seeing things unseen,
trusting through all situations.
Praise God in advance for what He will do,
and He’ll surpass all expectations!

11-20-97
©Ladeena Ashley

Work Stress
Recently I was given a special project at work. I had been expecting it, but what I didn’t see coming was the flood of applications that had preceded the project, swiftly overtaking my inbox. Okay, no big deal. After successfully thinning out my regular work a bit, after lunch I turned my attention fully onto the project. That’s when things became super hectic: Cue the phone calls, an important email, and several frustrating design issues. With each interruption my irritation grew; soon I was completely tense and uncharacteristically cranky.

Off My A Game
Even after my workday was done, the tension lingered. During the ten minute walk to my car, the Lord gently whispered to me as I noted the warm afternoon sun and abundant blooms. Yup, the enemy had gotten me off my A game. The Lord pulled me out of my peevish rut as I prayed, asking forgiveness for my unchecked attitude, thanking Him that I have work that keeps me busy, even of it stresses me out at times. Later I sat quietly in the car to decompress for a few minutes before finally driving home.

Pain To Praise
Just like God can turn good from bad situations (Romans 8:28), we always have to be on guard against the enemy of our souls, who delights in using everything, good or bad, to pull us away from God’s grace any way he can (1 Peter 5:8). When life is a pain in the neck, that discomfort should send us running straight to the Lord, because although not everything in life is a joy, there is strength, comfort and contentment when we trust in and look to Him instead of focusing on our struggles.

Praising God for His goodness, His providence, and of course all the blessings I enjoy lifts me out of any doldrums, worry, and, yes, the occasional frustration. It resets my mind, calms my spirit and keeps me moving!

Whatever may be a source of frustration for you today, if you’re struggling with or stressed out about something in your life, stop and pray. God will renew your mind with His peace as soon as you surrender it to Him. Trust Him with it, thank Him for what He’s already done and for what He will do. Better times are just around the corner, but we must be in the right frame of mind, ready to receive it! So bring your A game!

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
(That’s right! It’s a command! God knows it’s what’s best for us!)

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)

Words Are My Wings

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Nature has prompted many of my compositions, as wildlife is a consistent reminder of God’s infinite love, grace, and awe-inspiring creativity.

Ever fascinated by the transition from day to night in particular, this poem describes how a sunset, accented by seagulls, is akin to composing poetry. You can imagine the gulls gliding, dipping and soaring with the breeze in the picture above. Also, assuming the formatting works correctly (centered text), you should notice that even the poem itself resembles that of the beating of a bird’s wings to fly.

 

“Words Are My Wings”

In the silence of night
my spirit takes flight
To a higher plane
far from
this world
of pain.
I hear
my Master call
in shifting silhouettes
of the black trees tall
cast upon a deepening blue
…now a majestic
purple hue.
The sun
sinks
out of sight.
In the seagull’s cries
He moves me to write
expressions of love
and simplicity
of peace and
tranquility.
Sometimes
in the
day,
often
at night,
words are my wings
and my soul takes flight.

8-3-93
© Ladeena Ashley


Free Rein

Speaking of birds, I am a night owl. In fact, my mother can attest to spending long evenings that turned into late nights talking about…well…everything. I count myself especially blessed that my mother has always been one of my best friends. In relation to writing, though inspiration can strike most anytime, for me it often happens after four or five o’clock. Partly because I’m often at work until that time (though in rare occasions, I have jotted down some verses at work), but even over the weekend the creative juices aren’t flowing until later in the day. No matter my natural tendencies, I’ve given the Lord free rein (and reign!) to nudge me wherever I am if He has something for me to write down. It’s rather refreshing to know that He knows my habits and works through me to accomplish His will! He loves me and uses me right where I’m at.

What gifts, talents, skills and abilities has He given you? When what we’ve been given is dedicated back to Him, He will use us in mighty ways, sending our hearts soaring as high as the birds! Never underestimate the power of even the simplest kind word, smile or loving gesture. If He can work through me, He can work through you!

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Extra Credit  –  Romans 12:1-8

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

Amazing Adventures Await!

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So…last Friday night was awesome!

It was our turn to serve at the Simonka House women’s shelter. In just a couple of hours we’d be leading the chapel time. The poems I had selected were okay, but something felt missing. So I stopped and prayed, asking the Lord if He had something specific for me to convey to the ladies. He did. Later, though filled with nerves, I boldly stood to share the new poem the Lord gave me (written from His perspective):

“Running”

Running from Me as though you can hide.
Vain pursuits leave you empty inside.
Fleeing dark past for brighter tomorrows,
you’ll never outrun the pain and sorrows.
My child, you’ve resisted far too long
– Admit your weakness, I’ll make you strong.
For more than sufficient is My grace.
Stop trying to hide; lift up your face.
Can’t rewind, but you can turn around,
it’s not too late to cover new ground.
Adventures await the moment you pray,
“I trust You, Lord” in surrender today.

3-10-17
©Ladeena Ashley

Some of the women at Simonka are pretty vocal, and that night was no exception. Throughout the poem, several voiced their agreement and affirmation. Humbled and awestruck by the response, I carefully finished reading. Many said “amen” and I was given a hearty applause. For the next few moments I shared a couple of thoughts about running from God before playing the song Prodigal by Sidewalk Prophets. Then I sat down to listen to the message. At the end of our time together, many ladies approached me saying that my poem meant a lot to them, and few also asked if they could get a copy of it.

I shouldn’t be surprised that the Lord showed up, but sometimes I still am. Mostly I’m ecstatic just to be used so powerfully. Yet that’s what happens when we get out of our own heads, out of the way, and make ourselves available for whatever He wants.

Surrender
Like Jonah, we may not want to do what God asks, either because we’re nursing a bad attitude or have succumbed to crippling fear (sometimes both!). We can easily run away from God spiritually, if not physically. At the very least we certainly wrestle with Him, holding back portions of our lives that we just can’t quite relinquish control of. But, as Jonah discovered, God doesn’t let us go that easily. He pursues us, often disciplining us until we finally surrender to His will in that area, abandoning our own logic and throwing ourselves at the foot of the cross. Then He lifts us up, dusts us off and sends us on incredible journeys we would never have dreamed of while stuck in our own stubbornness.

Along For The Ride
While I don’t run, I’m often timid when it comes to following God – at least when speaking in public! Constantly I must remind myself that fear doesn’t come from Him (2 Timothy 1:7), there’s no room for doubt because it’s not about me (Galatians 2:20), and that God loves me and knows what He’s doing.

On Friday I truly felt like I was just along for the ride, and what an amazing ride it was! If we remain surrendered to Him and available, He will work in and through us to do incredible things! But first we have to stop running, wrestling, or cautiously standing on the sidelines.

If you’re running from God, or wrestling with God in some area, don’t wait! The enemy wants you to cling tight, because he knows that what you hold on to… has a hold ON YOU, keeping you from fully enjoying all that God has for you. So surrender it to God, then get ready, because your next steps will be the first of many adventures!

Extra Credit
For the full Bible story, read the book of Jonah (it’s only four chapters!).

Faith Notes
Another song that fit with the theme is Big Fish by FFH. It’s a little corny, but catchy!

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.

8-20-92
© 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)

Grace and Transforming Power

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I had the distinct pleasure of helping minister to the ladies at Simonka Place last night. Once again, God showed up in a mighty way. I’d like to share some of my experiences with you.

Prep and Prayer
In preparation for my portion of the service, I needed to chose a song and a poem that would fit with the planned message. With so many choices, this is not easy. Even after praying for guidance it still stressed me out because I wanted so badly to be a good witness, and for everything to fit together perfectly. I caught myself acting as if it was up to me to encourage these women! Ultimately, however, I was reminded again that God is working and in control, and my service will accomplish whatever it’s supposed to. I’m simply along for the ride! Eventually I placed a handful of poems in a folder, and settled on one song.

At Simonka
Once at the shelter, we made conversation and I began to get ready. Pulling up the song I’d already chosen, another song kept playing in my head, so I cued up that one on my phone instead. Glancing through the poems in my folder, the first one seemed “right”.

After the opening prayer and an informal introduction, I shared how circumstances and bad choices can lead us away from God, but if we’re honest with ourselves and trust Him with the mess of our lives, He will turn it into something beautiful.

Here is the poem I read:

“Return to the Garden”

I met Jesus in the garden, hope blossoming free.
Lingering near the roses, He walked along with me.
Then I turned one moment – sweet nothings caught my eyes.
I was drawn away; the lion’s roar disguised.
Silently, my Savior reached out, but the wall was built.
Flower beds abandoned, the blooms began to wilt.
Years passed, I settled into a less than joyful haze
Until I realized I was out of His grace.
Through the darkness inside, I heard His quiet call.
Rising softly over the moss-draped wall.
Trusting in His mercy and forgiveness, I fought
Against the steely forces for the peace I sought.
By His Father’s power and love, down the wall came.
Vanquishing the enemy’s lies through Jesus’ name.
Once again among the roses, my heart set free
His gaze and warm embrace are love and life to me.
The fragrance of His holy love fills my weary soul.
As I live for the One who has made me whole.

3-13-02
©Ladeena Ashley

Faith Notes
The song I played for the group was “If We’re Honest” by Francesca Battistelli.
(Note: Link to opens in a new window.)

Though meant as a meditative time to simply listen, many of us sang along. It was so beautiful, softly singing with the music, listening to these souls so battered by life also lifting their voices to sing about the forgiveness and love of Christ! My hope and prayer for everyone I meet is that they each experience it for themselves.

Transformation
My friend’s message theme was: “There is nothing about our yesterday that will wipe out your tomorrow.” Unlike the world’s view that says our past performance is a good indicator of future success or failure, we can change through the transforming power of Jesus. The catch is, we have to let Him change us, because if we keep doing things the same way, we’re going to keep getting the same results.

God Sighting
I love connecting with people through song and word, but this time especially! Not long after the service concluded, one of the ladies came up to say that the song [chosen last-minute] gave her a special confirmation of something earlier that day.

Time and time again, God shows up when I step out in faith and courage, following His will the best I can. His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in my weakness! (2 Corinthians 12:9) In a world so filled with hate and confusion, I pray that you too share with others the hope, love and deep peace that can only be found in Christ!

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

What Does Love Require?

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Hot on the heels of the fire storm of comments for and against certain celebrities and their expressed views about President-elect Donald Trump, equality, and a litany of other issues, a good friend of mine recently posed a thought-provoking question on Facebook. He asked if it is possible to make a point without hurting others. At the time, I responded by saying, “Only by making it a point to LOVE them!”.

The next morning, still pondering that idea, the theme of a powerful Bible study video segment by Andy Stanley began repeating in my head: “What does love require of me?” (a link to the video is below). No matter how strongly we feel about a particular subject, as followers of Christ we are called to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Him (2 Corinthians 10:5). The most important way that obedience and our love for the Lord plays out is by choosing, day in and day out and often moment by moment, that our ultimate response in every situation will come from a place of Godly love and from His perspective.

Here is a new poem that the Lord inspired me to write and which sprang out of those musings. If it speaks to you, please feel free to share this post!

“What Does Love Require?”

What is the loving response
– the most positive words to say?
Before opening our mouths to speak,
will it edify in some way?
Is your demeanor that of peace
or is there warfare in your soul?
Is your motive to encourage
or to defend, shame, or control?
Should you tactfully address a group
or just keep it one on one?
When and where and even IF
stops before damage is done.
Perhaps, energy channeled,
we’d do best not talking at all;
Humble actions speak volumes,
but foolish pride precedes a fall.
For the lasting impression
– the Jesus the world will see
are the words, deeds, and attitude
of the followers we claim to be.
The exact methods vary
– God grants wisdom to discern
when to share or hold our tongue
while remaining open to learn.
In each and every encounter
we can choose to hurt or inspire;
the question we should be asking is:
what does love require?

1-10-17
©Ladeena Ashley

I realize that this is all much easier said than done. Yet the Lord knows how hard it is to tame the tongue. In His Word, God tells us that although it is a small part of our body; with it we can share life-giving words but also can inflict great damage. James compares it to a bit in a horse’s mouth, a ship’s rudder, and the spark that has the power to ignite a raging forest fire if left unchecked (James 3:2-11).

However, we are not left to ourselves in this! God has promised that he will grant wisdom to all who ask (James 1:5; Proverbs 2:6), and nothing can separate us from the love we have in Christ (Romans 8:38). We just have to practice the habit of drawing from His bottomless well of wisdom and indescribable wide and deep love (Ephesians 3:16-21) that never fails!

So, what does love require of you? To share it through all situations!
Not just on Sunday, around “churchy people”, or on special occasions, but EVERY DAY!
You and I fail all the time, but He won’t give up on you (Isaiah 41:10), so keep trying!

God’s Word
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

“The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” – Galatians 5:14

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:36

“What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

Extra Credit
Here is the link to the study I mentioned. It is a 42-minute video, but well worth a listen to delve even deeper into why it’s so often difficult to love others as we should.
Andy Stanley – Brand: New – What Love Requires
(Please note: link will open in new window on YouTube.)
Blessings to you, this day and always!

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