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)

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)