Do A Happy Dance!

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Yesterday evening, while in search of a poem to share at Simonka, I came across a page of bits and pieces of poems I’d started a few years ago. Taking one of the longer ones, I proceeded to add, edit and scoot lines around until I had something that might be presentable and in alignment with the theme of the night: freedom in Christ.

I told the ladies at the shelter that God gives us many blessings in life, but the greatest is the blessing of freedom that we gain through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When I stop to think about it: that I’ve been truly set free from the power of sin, and that I have the Spirit of God Himself living in me, it gives me joy. We should be so excited about what God has done and is doing in our lives, that at times we could easily do a happy dance!

Here is the poem I cobbled together, that one of the friends I serve with jokingly called a “Frankenpoem”, due to the nature of its creation:

“Reign Dance”

Blessings, like raindrops, cascade from above.
My heart, soaked and singing, drips with His love.
Splashing through puddles without a care,
so happily drenched, no raincoat I wear.
Far beyond the silver-lined clouds above
the holy drops of forgiveness and love
fall in unending supply from the throne;
My salvation and peace are in Christ alone.
Gazing toward heaven, immersed in His grace:
Glorious freedom! For He took my place.
Trusting my Savior, who washed every stain,
I sway in sweet surrender to His reign.
Matching His steps so joyful and light,
following with confident hope so bright.
Dancing with abandon, cleansed and alive;
Grace flowing free, I daily grow and thrive.
His Spirit transforms me, I dance and sing,
praising Jesus, who is my everything!

2-18-18
©Ladeena Ashley

I hope and pray that you are as excited about your faith as I am! Sadly, the longer you’re a follower of Christ, the easier it is to lose spiritual vitality. Of course, the enemy of our souls would like nothing more than for all churches to be filled with a bunch of lukewarm believers who are complacent and therefore posing no real threat to his schemes. I pray that those who claim to be His followers are (or become) so on fire for the Lord that, when they get out of bed in the morning, the enemy says to himself, “Oh, no! They’re up!”

Through Christ, we have been set free! We must do all we can to avoid letting ourselves once again become slaves to one sin or another. We’re all works in progress, and for me, following Jesus is like a dance. Most of the time, the Lord and I move across the floor in tandem, but sometimes my timing is off. Or I’m tempted to try doing my own moves, hurting myself or others in the process. Or, heaven forbid, the song itself starts to become more important than my dance partner. Yet He patiently waits for me, and the music will go on as long as I have breath in my lungs.

The world needs to know that music! With every school shooting and act of violence in the world, it is painfully apparent how much the world is hurting. Millions of souls desperately need the hope and peace that only can be found in Christ – whether they know it or not! You may be the only Jesus someone sees, so share His love with others. Things are only getting crazier – the time is now.

Are you letting the Lord reign in your life?

If you are a Christ follower, you’ve been set free – do a happy dance and share your faith with others!

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:5

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

Joyful Journey

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God is awesome! This past Sunday evening, in preparation for chapel time at Simonka Place, I studied the chosen scripture passage (James 1:2-8) and began pulling out poems to share. Reading and rereading those Bible verses about joy in trials, persevering and seeking God’s wisdom, my own journey came into focus and I thought, “I sure have a lot of practice with that!” After a quick prayer, I was inspired with a new praise-filled poem, finishing it just in time to leave for the shelter. Barely half an hour later, after sharing a bit of my story, I read the new poem aloud. Here it is:

“Joyful Journey”

It’s been a tough, but joyful journey
from the moment I said “okay”.
I’m “all in”, in full surrender –
peace flows as I humbly pray.
Lord, You’ve stayed with me through this trial,
Giving me strength to persevere;
Holy wisdom each time I ask,
and faith to follow without fear.
Blessing upon blessing have come,
for You give as I give my all:
With support from my family and friends,
Your love has broken down every wall.
My pack is filled with Your promises,
expecting that one of these tomorrows
they will be fulfilled in Your timing –
leaving mere memories of past sorrows.
But today, I continue trusting –
no doubt of Your plans for me;
Walking daily with You, Jesus,
I’m thankful, loved, and free!

1-28-18
©Ladeena Ashley

One way I’ve had joy in my trials is by sharing my struggles and faith with others. In particular, to be a witness of God’s faithfulness to the women at Simonka Place, most of whom are way out of their comfort zone, hurting and in desperate need of hope. Having been in a similar situation myself, I can speak from a place of experience and a depth of compassion, with greater empathy for each soul I encounter. God is in the business of transforming lives and using bad circumstances for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28). My mess, placed in God’s loving hands, becomes a powerful conduit for His message.

And it never ceases to amaze me how He does it! The inspiration to write about my journey is already an incredible blessing, but then I get to read it aloud and have people respond with hugs and teary eyes, saying God spoke to them through my humble offering! As His servant, my prayer is always that folks see and hear Him, not me. I’m just along for the ride, but what a joyful ride it is!

I’m humbled and thankful to be used to encourage others, even as I continue trusting and waiting for His plan to come to fruition in my own life. For sure, the trials of life are not easy, but by God’s grace, I am persevering, one day at a time!

James 1:2-8:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

We can have joy today and hope for tomorrow, as we daily surrender our ways for His by seeking His wisdom above our own, and relying on His strength to persevere and grow.

Is your journey joyful, or are you simply trudging along the trail?

How can you help brighten the path for others along their journey?

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

Victory In The New Year!

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So, I’ve got a confession to make: Although I spent some of my December with family and friends, and participated in church activities, too much time was actually spent watching movies and playing games. Sadly and ironically, real meaningful moments with the Lord – the One whose birth we just celebrated – were diminished in the name of holiday vacation “down time”. My first priority must be my relationship with God. To grow closer and be more like Jesus every day. Yet lately my focus had shifted too often towards pursuing comfort and fun.

Some rest is expected this time of year (though it’s never a good idea to take a vacation from Him!), and I did give myself some grace as I continued working toward reconciliation with my husband within an especially awkward emotional climate. However, I could easily have spent more time with Jesus, who, as I’ve written before, loves and pursues us, and wants to spend time with each of us, too. When seeking my own desires, I’m not seeking His and not growing; therefore I have nothing to offer on this blog and can do nothing of eternal worth (John 15:5). That simply won’t do! So I prayed and wrote this poem to express my regrets and feelings about where I was at:

“New Year’s Battle”

Blithe comforts quickly become a jail cell.
It’s hard to resist; the devil knows me well.
Caught up in self-pity, I waste precious time
fretting over falling short of the sublime.
Distracted from fellowship to recount fears,
immobilized, in a haze of salty tears.
My Savior waits so patiently once more
for my gaze to shift from off the floor,
where my fleeting notions lie scattered
alongside pursuits that never mattered.
My life, simply an assortment of choices,
listening for His whisper amidst the loud voices.
Each day I’m fighting to hear and follow
– for Christ lives in me! I can face tomorrow.
Knowing He is there, and here, and always,
my heart is lifted in His love and grace.
Pulled from the mire by His mighty power
to battle another year, each day, each hour.
Shortcomings and failures transform to victory
as I receive His love, and see as He sees me.
Only by wisdom and strength from above
can I hope for the future and rest in His love.
Emboldened to move forward as He casts out fear,
trusting with each step, He’ll guide me this new year.

1-1-18
©Ladeena Ashley

We all stumble and get lost in our fears, failures and human reasoning. Good thing our Father is the God of second, third, and many more chances! (1 John 1:9) God is so good and faithful, and through Christ He calls us His own, and we can claim the victory over sin!

Though not a goal-oriented person, here and now I resolve to rekindle more focused time with the Lord, using a devotional book that I have in mind. The closer our relationship, the stronger His light in me, and the more folks who may be drawn closer to Him, even through this imperfect vessel.

I’m guessing that you have a similar goal, perhaps even as part of a longer list of New Year’s Resolutions. We all need to keep learning and growing in Christ, and to be more lovingly bold followers of His. Overall, I’m praying that 2018 brings a worldwide “spiritual shake-up” and a revival in that sees many more souls saved by the love, power and forgiveness of Jesus Christ! Get out there and shine His light, and as the saying goes: when necessary, use words!

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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