The Greatest Designer

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The message theme at Simonka last night was “Allowing God to Run Your Life”. I looked in my poems for a piece that would fit, and ended up doing what seems to have become the norm for me: writing a new one instead. Once again I finished it a mere half hour before sharing it with the ladies at the shelter! It is about how the Lord renovates our life, if we let Him…

“The Greatest Designer”

God won’t barge into your heart, He gently knocks,
then waits for us to answer the door of our soul,
look through the peephole and unlatch the locks,
to invite Him inside, and grant Him control.
I can tell how God works in myself and others:
Turning each shack into a cozy home,
working closely with sisters and brothers
who no longer call their lives their own.
We joyfully share about each renovation:
He brings hope to every room and closet:
Exposing our flaws with truth’s illumination,
sins He already knew, but still paid the deposit!
God redecorates lives in the brightest hues,
knowing best how our heart, Christ’s home
can function fully, as daily we choose
to let it truly become His throne.
So that’s the choice you have this day:
To back away from the threshold in pride,
or open your heart’s door and humbly pray
for the greatest Designer to step inside.
You won’t regret it, though change is pain,
great peace and love fills each space,
as He restores every tile and window pane
we’ll change the neighborhood by His grace!

5-20-18
©Ladeena Ashley

While writing that poem, in my mind was playing an older Christian song by Shaun Groves entitled “Welcome Home”. In it, he sings about opening up the door of his heart so that God, by His Spirit, can help him make changes in his life. Our bodies are but the outside packaging, but our heart and souls are where we “live” and where, from the abundance within, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). We must guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). If we don’t have our inner lives in order, everything outside will be thrown into chaos.

Over the last few weeks since the divorce, I’ve been praying about how to move on, and what is really important enough for me to have in my life. In complete surrender to the Lord, I’ve asked for wisdom, and am trusting that He will help me make healthy changes so that how I spend my time and resources will be more honoring to Him.

When invited, the Lord helps to organize and protect the good, while giving us strength to toss things that aren’t necessary. The hard part is, He needs full access to every nook and cranny, every dark and dusty corner, in order for us to have the full measure of joy that He promises as we submit to Him (John 15:1-11). It’s not easy, but we must allow God to show us where and how to make changes, even painful ones, in order to follow Him more closely.

Of course, daily prayer and time in the Word is essential to keeping ourselves open to the Lord and His perfect designs for our life. I often pray this verse: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

My prayer for you as well as for myself, is that we keep the doors, windows and closets of our hearts open to the moving of the Spirit and the light of the Son, so He can transform us inside and out!

The greatest Designer, the God who created the universe, loves you so much! You can trust in His design for your life, because He is good and what He has planned is infinitely more fulfilling than anything you can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21, 1 Corinthians 2:9). I know from experience that the more I fellowship with Him, allowing Him to “have the run of the place” in my life, the stronger, more hopeful, joyful and more at peace I am.

Is your heart’s door open?

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

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)

A Plethora Of Promises

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For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20

We all make promises. We try to keep them, but sometimes we fail miserably. Thankfully, as a follower of Christ, I have witnessed over and over that we serve a God who is faithful, just and good, and we can count on His promises.

These past few years, I’ve leaned especially heavily on the Lord in prayer and in meditating on His Word; in particular, several promises have been an important part of my walk with Christ. Without the love of my Savior and the support of family and friends, I would have crumbled long ago, but God is faithful!

God’s promises offer hope, and hope is a powerful thing! It was such a blessing to share the hope I have in Christ, helping to lead chapel time at Simonka Place women’s and children’s shelter yesterday evening. Once again, the Lord inspired me to write a new poem only the day before! Here it is:

“The Promise Maker”

The promises of God forever stand;
He is faithful, His Word is true.
Clinging to Him as I walk this land,
I trust His love will see me through.
Yet some promises have a condition:
We must first ask, seek and knock.
A give-and-take of holy volition
with full surrender and daily walk.
If we believe, if we confess,
if we commit our ways and plans,
He will save, forgive our mess
and guide our lives with His hands.
God will never leave or forsake us,
He’ll finish the good work He’s begun.
The enemy seeks only to break us,
but in Jesus, the war is won.
God’s promises offer victory and power,
and all are “yes” in Christ our King,
on Whom we can rely every hour
to carry us through anything.
Claiming God’s promises, hearts overflowing
with thankful awe and peace, we pray
for wisdom and strength, seeking and growing
closer to the Promise Maker each day.

1-20-18
©Ladeena Ashley

As my teammate shared during chapel time, some are general promises, like God’s love for us. Other promises were directed at certain people or groups, but to all believers, as well. Many promises require action on our part before God will act, such as 1 John 1:9, which I referenced in my poem: “If we confess ours sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

According to one count, there are 3,573 promises in the Bible… a plethora of promises, you might say! The great news is, in His perfect timing and wisdom, God will fulfill every one!

No matter who else has broken promises to you, or let you down, God is good and He’s got your back! He loves you so much! If you seek Him with all of your heart, you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13), and He will faithfully direct your paths as you trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Give your hurts to God, claim His promises, and watch Him move!

Here are a few of my favorite promises:

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:4-6

“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.” James 1:5

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you…” Psalm 55:22

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” John 16:33

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

 

 

Redone and Transformed

20180113_215338 A little tag I found (shown larger than actual size).

 

Many years ago, I randomly found this small round tag on the ground. The red and white plastic tag has just one word engraved into it: “redone”. The concept which immediately struck me was that when I decided to live for Christ, I was redone – fundamentally changed – on the inside, as the Bible promises: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As I continue following the Lord, I am constantly being redone – transformed – with the help of His Spirit. Over the years, that little tag has become a unique symbol of my life in Christ.

Whoever commits to being a Christ follower is “redone” at the moment of salvation. We are new creations in Him. However, we are also called to daily work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12) and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We are all works in progress, and though God sees us as perfected through Christ, we are not perfect, and fail every day. I know I do.

God lovingly created each of us, with our unique personalities, likes and dislikes, and tendencies. When the Spirit enters our life, He begins to change us, in ways both small and significant. From the way we assert our personality, to why and how we use what we’ve been given; materially and in gifts and talents. The same God who created each of us helps me to be the best “me” possible, as I let Him, while living in this fallen world. My good traits are enhanced and the less desirable habits are replaced with more fulfilling ones that benefit not only myself but can positively influence the community around me.

Many folks have experienced dramatic changes almost instantly, such as the desire for cigarettes, alcohol or drugs being taken away. Those kind of miracles at conversion are great, but with many other entrenched habits or shortcomings, it may take months, years, or even a lifetime to “get it right”. Every day is a spiritual battle to conquer our imperfections and sin nature. As I’ve written before, we fight that battle by walking daily with Jesus through prayer and reading His Word, and sharing our faith journey with other believers through fellowship – all in full submission to His leading. None of us is perfect, and there are ups and downs. At times we’ve all experienced dry moments, or made decisions we wish we could take back. Yet God is ever faithful, always ready to forgive us and set us back on the right path! (1 John 1:9)

I wrote this poem exactly 22 years ago (!), after a short dry spell in my life:

“Commitment”

This broken vessel I give to You –
My offering, knowing You’ll see me through.
Surrendering all to follow Your lead;
For though I’m imperfect, You plant a seed.
Shortcomings don’t limit what thru me You can do,
with my eyes set toward heaven, my heart toward You.
What little I have expands in the grace
You give me to serve You, wherever the place.
I’m not perfect, I’ll never meet
these high expectations I lay at Your feet.
Disappointments arise from unfinished plans;
as You take over, I free my own hands.
It’s been some time, but Lord, now I pray
with faith that You’ll guide me on from this day.

1-14-96
©Ladeena Ashley

Have you been redone? Are you in the process of being redone? Is there anything you’re holding onto, thinking you can overcome it using your own wisdom and by your own strength? Jesus is just waiting for us to admit defeat – that we can’t do it alone – and once we do that, then He can do His work and we can claim the victory! Besides, the blessings He has waiting for us are so much better than the mediocre things we often pursue or settle for.

If you don’t know what it’s like to be redone, trust that God the Father loves you more than you love yourself, and has your best interests at heart! Believe in His Son Jesus and accept the gift of forgiveness and new life in Him! Through the Spirit, He will walk with you and help you to be the best redone and transformed “you” that you can be. Surrender your imperfections to the One who alone is perfect and has a perfect and loving will for your life.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

Unravel the Loopholes

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Look up – through the mess – and seek Him… Oct 9, 2017

 

God is so awesome! Once again, He gave me a new poem to share at Simonka Place on Friday evening. I finalized and printed it up only an hour before nervously reading it during chapel time at the women’s and children’s shelter. My new nickname could be “The 11th Hour Poet”! I’d been told that the message theme would be “justifying our actions”, but I waited until Friday afternoon to begin looking through my works for a poem to share. Nothing quite fit, so immediately I prayed, “Okay, Lord, do You have something special I can write for the ladies?” With a pencil and notebook at the ready, this is what He inspired me to write:

“Loopholes”

Lord, I get so tangled in myself
– every loophole becomes a noose,
cutting me off from Your truth,
trying to justify with an excuse.
Yet there’s no excuse I can make
that You cannot see right through;
Any loophole I identify
unravels in light of You.
Your Word cuts to the heart,
exposing the enemy’s lies;
The truth behind every “reason”,
each sidestep and disguise.
So in humble awe, I surrender
my faulty wisdom for Your grace.
Laying down my foolish pride
– running into Your embrace.
For You gaze right through me
even as You see me through;
I’m justified only by grace,
through faith, not what I do.
Thank You, Lord, for loving me
and for Your patience when I stumble.
May all the loopholes in my life
remain unraveled as I stay humble.

11-10-17
©Ladeena Ashley

To some degree or another, we all rationalize our actions. We are made in God’s image, so among other things, we have intellect, emotions, and a will, but because we also live in a fallen world, our clever minds can easily get us into trouble. I myself tend to over-think things or selfishly want my own way, more often than I’d like to admit. There are several loopholes or spiritual gray areas we’ve all used to justify our actions.

For many, one struggle is telling white lies. It seems like the most loving thing to do, but it actually isn’t loving at all. A white lie is still a lie. Yet there are gentle ways to tell the truth. I’m generally honest to a fault, so the challenge for me is to avoid stepping on toes through my matter-of-fact comments.

Some folks act as if they can hide things from God, or attempt to somehow outsmart Him. Those notions have never made sense to me. It’s silly to think that we can convince God that He’s wrong by using the seemingly sound reasoning and logic of the world. It is also dangerously foolish to cherry pick doctrine to serve our selfish purposes. The enemy delights in twisting the truth. By picking and choosing what we believe or turning it to justify our agenda, we’re playing right into his hand.

God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are infinitely higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). We can’t even begin to comprehend the full measure of His wisdom, or fathom the depths of His understanding (Isaiah 40:28). Basically, God is God, and we are not!

That being said, the Lord actually invites us to reason together with Him (Isaiah 1:18). He welcomes dialogue. Yell, scream or even shake your fist at God. He can take it. Just know that no matter your argument, He will win. Yet when you lose, you win, for in surrendering yourself, you gain His wisdom and a deeper understanding of His will and workings.

Once again, the crux of the problem is trust in self versus trust in God. The more you trust in His perfect will and infinite love for you, the wisest (though not the easiest) choice becomes clear: to pray and seek His will ahead of your own. The God of the universe has your best interests at heart and has the unlimited resources to accomplish great things, even out of our knotted-up messes.

So with humble hearts, let us seek the perfect wisdom He offers freely (James 1:5), daily committing to follow Him with no pretense and no agenda except to do our best, by His grace.

May all of our clever loopholes be replaced with threads of joyful obedience, in light of His goodness, wisdom and love!

Faith Notes
Here’s one of my favorite songs that fits the theme of this post:
What You Want – Tenth Avenue North

Wisdom of the Word
“For the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’.” 1 Corinthians 3:19

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:21

Blessings to you, this day and always!

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

A Pumpkin In Progress

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Phase Into Fall – October 17, 2017

 

Last week it became glaringly obvious that I have a ways to go in controlling my stronger emotions. I am a pumpkin in progress. (Stick with me; this will make sense, I promise!)

My manager made an email suggestion in response to an inquiry from another office. I didn’t think it was a good idea, and decided to speak directly to him about the matter. While I was quite animated and mostly in control, still my voice was elevated and I could sense that my face was flushed with raw frustration. After some debate, I finally retreated to my desk, and, wouldn’t you know it, staff in the other office replied with concerns mirroring my own. In a matter of moments, it became a non-issue. If I just would have waited, or thought outside myself to realize that others might feel the same way and dismiss the idea, my minor outburst could have been avoided. Looking back, I should have been much slower to speak and much slower to get upset (James 1:19-21). It was definitely a “stop and pray” situation, of which I did not take full advantage.

Growing up, I actually wasn’t allowed to question authority or assert my own opinions around my father. Everything was “backtalk” to him. Therefore, normally I’ve not been known to get all up in arms about things, as I’ve found myself doing over the past few months. The quiet, easygoing soul that the Lord saved nearly 30 years ago still yearns for peace, but lately my powerful inner reactions catch me off guard at times. In short, I often drive myself crazy, caring so much and over-thinking things!

I thank God that He isn’t finished with me yet.

As our church prepares for Trunk ‘n’ Treat again this year, and I get ready for Halloween, I’m reminded again of the little evangelistic fliers that ask, “Are You God’s Pumpkin?”. Perhaps you’ve seen them. In part, they speak of God scooping out the yucky stuff inside and placing His light in us so that all may see. Living as God’s pumpkin isn’t easy, but in every struggle I also rejoice, because I am a work in progress. He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). Yes, Jesus saved me from death, and scooped out my less desirable traits, but as my heart remains surrendered to Him, the Lord keeps working in me so that the light He’s placed inside is more and more visible, and glowing ever brighter.

Here’s a new poem I wrote today, with that in mind:

“God’s Pumpkin”

I’m so glad to be God’s pumpkin,
for He pulled me from the field;
The dirt of my sin was wiped away,
and He works on me as I yield.
The Spirit gives easy access –
God gently reaches in to clean:
Removing the seeds of doubt,
the stringy mess of fears unseen.
He carved out a goofy smile,
and placed His light inside of me,
to not only shine on Halloween
but all year, so the world can see.
Yes, I’m thankful to be God’s pumpkin.
No trick! His treats are the best!
Some may say I’m out of my gourd,
I say I’m monstrously blessed!

10-29-17
©Ladeena Ashley

Are you God’s pumpkin? Has God plucked you out of the pumpkin patch, cleaned off the sinful dirt, works daily in your life to scoop out the yucky stuff, “carved” a smile on your face and put His light in your soul? If so, rejoice and tell others how they can become God’s pumpkin, too!

Just remember, we’re all works in progress, with our own struggles, so lead with love!

Don’t be afraid to shine His light, especially into the conspicuous darkness of this holiday. No matter the current trends or the origins of Halloween, what the enemy intends for evil, God will use for good as you make yourself available!

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)

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)

Word Games and Wisdom

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I recently began playing a new word game on my phone. It’s like a word find and Tetris® combined. As each string of letter tiles is selected, forming one of the mystery words below, those tiles disappear and the others drop down. One level of the game was especially frustrating. I had easily found the first couple of words, and thought for sure that the last word must be “ocean”. Yet no matter how hard I tried, after selecting the other words in several different ways, I couldn’t get the remaining tiles to drop in the right places and spell that word. It drove me nuts wondering what else it could be. Finally, in desperation, I begrudgingly used a hint and discovered the first letter wasn’t even “O”! I adjusted my strategy and solved the puzzle. The word was canoe.

I’ve learned that sometimes life is like that. We get ahead of God, thinking we know what the next step is, but don’t consult Him first. Or we hastily pray, yet move forward with what we believe or what we want to be the next step. Sometimes it’s out of comfort, but often we pridefully think we know what’s right. Sooner or later, we notice that things just aren’t falling into place the way we thought they would. No matter what we do, it doesn’t quite match up. We realize we’ve missed something somewhere and only succeeded in stressing ourselves out, or worse, hurt others in the process.

Great News!
We all stray occasionally, and to one degree or another. The great news is: regardless of how long the rabbit trail goes, while we are still on this earth, it’s never too late to redirect when we’ve veered off track. God is quick to forgive and His wisdom is always available to all who ask (James 1:5).

Muscle Memory
Decisions and struggles are all opportunities to trust God and to build our relationship with the Creator of the stars and universe. We can either choose to let our experiences strengthen our faith or to break us down. Trusting God develops the muscle memory of our faith. Each time we seek His will, then see Him work in and through us, it becomes easier and more natural to trust His wisdom instead of ours the next time. And the next time. That’s one reason why God’s Word tells us to pray continually and in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Many of my decisions for the past several years have actually sprung out of a survival instinct and limited thinking, not pride. However, now that things have improved on that front, it could be tempting to “rest on my laurels”, assuming that I can coast along on my own, or that “I’m good” now. Wrong! They are HIS laurels! I’ve made it this far only by holding on to Him, surrendering myself and seeking His will in all things, not just in the midst of problems. I’ve worked my faith muscles so well that I’m actually afraid of what might happen if I took matters in my own hands!

One of my favorite scripture verses sums up what our daily faith walk should look like: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

It’s Not About Me
Overall, personally I have to keep reminding myself that life really isn’t about me. Once I decided to follow Jesus, every aspect of my life is to be under His lordship. If I let my own selfish wants and desires take control, I’m ignoring His power in my life and won’t get the full blessings that are available. And I really want those blessings! That’s not to say we can’t enjoy good things in life, and not every decision is that crucial; it’s simply that nothing else and no one but God should have ultimate sway in our lives. It’s about the condition of our heart and our overall focus.

Here’s a poem I wrote that expresses the child-like faith and softness of heart that God delights in:

“Trust”

You fill my soul with healing,
You commence my heart to sing;
All to You I am revealing,
though You already know everything.
I give You, this day, my heart of clay
Each hour, my life to mold;
For when You have complete control
the most glorious things unfold.
So I lay down my all at Your feet,
not knowing on my own what is best;
But as I pull my hands free, I’m reassured
that with You, I’ll always be blessed.

6-10-94
©Ladeena Ashley

Let’s pursue God’s best for our lives by staying in His Word and praying before making decisions, especially important ones. Learn to recognize when we foolishly start getting ahead of His will, then get out of His way and let Him lead. Only then can the great things He has planned out for us be brought to fruition.

Extra Credit
Proverbs 16:3-9
Commit your way to the Lord, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed (v. 3).

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