Monday, August 26, 2013

"I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
This crazy world.  If I'm not careful, it'll drag the life out of me.  It attacks at every opportunity, ready to snatch the shine right out of me.  I have good intentions, truly I do.  Every single day.  I start my day praying on the way to school, earnestly wanting to be what God wants me to be.   But I keep feeling like I'm missing the mark.  I'm falling short.  I'm letting the world get the best of me instead of Jesus getting the best of me.  Ouch.  But it's true.  I'm so caught up trying to do my job right- all of my jobs- that I forget to just give it to Jesus.  I forget to be still.  I forget to rest in Him.  And what does that lead to?  A scattered, nervous, stressful, dark Ashley.  Lights out. 
But I need the light on.  I have a little boy that needs me to be a light for him.  I have a husband that needs me to be a light.  I have a group of precious children at church that need me to be a light.  I have family that needs me to be a light.  And I have students at school that need me to be a light.  All these people- I need to be shining with the love of Jesus. With all the demands, all the pressure, all the protocol, all the expectations, all the what ifs, all the what nows, all of the unknowns, I'm still supposed to shine.  I'm at my mission field every day.  But where's my heart?  It's so caught up in trying to get things right, that I forget to just be me.  Just rest in Him, Ashley.  He's calling.  He's whispering, "Rest in Me."  I forget to give it to Him.  To trust Him. 
I'm going to just keep on trying.  That's the thing about Jesus.  He's always there, arms wide open, ready to forgive and comfort.  He's always faithful.  He always provides. 
I played an offertory yesterday based on the hymn "Be Still My Soul."  My heart literally hurt as I sang the words in my head as I played.  He has a plan.  The future is His.  I will rest in Him.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.
Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's my birthday. And exactly 6 months since my dad died. Don't think that didn't get past me.

It's my birthday.  And exactly 6 months since my dad died.  Don't think that didn't get past me.  Oh, how I miss him.  How I miss his phone calls, his text messages, his sweet smile, his concern for me, his love for me.  It's my first birthday in my whole entire life without talking to my daddy.  I never even thought it was a possibility he would be gone so stinking soon.  But gone he is, gone to something far grander than this life had to offer. 

I've been reading his letters tonight, absorbing the words and relishing in his thoughts for me.  I grasp onto them for comfort, to find the love that I'm missing, the love that can only come from my daddy.  I look for solace amongst his eloquent handwriting, the slope of his penmanship, the love that poured on the paper through the overflowing words of his heart.  How special those words are to me.  How I will always treasure them. I will pour over them for years to come, longing to feel just a piece of him with me.  And as I do, I will feel a peace that I was loved.  Unconditionally.  Abundantly. 

To have an earthly father like I did was a special blessing.  And to have a Heavenly Father like I have is so promising.  As I read the letters from my dad, I also pour my soul into his Bible, looking for comforting scriptures, for hope, for joy, for peace, for renewal of my heart.  As I read my Heavenly Father's letters to me,  I'm overwhelmed with comfort, I find the love that I'm missing, the love that can only come from my Father.  My Jesus.  How special those words are to me. How I will always treasure them.  I will memorize the words so that I can pour over them in times of sadness, in times of distress, in times of needed hope.  And as I do, I know I will feel a peace that I was loved.  Unconditionally, abundantly, and eternally. 

2 fathers.  One earthly.  One Heavenly.    Blessed.   

Dear Jesus,
I long to be perfectly whole.  I want Thee forever to live in my soul.  Thank you for washing me, washing me whiter than snow. Please instill in me the eagerness to dive into your Word, to study it, to know it.  To study myself approved unto You, to hide Your word in my heart, to live unabashedly for You.  To shine.  Just shine.  And tell my daddy I love him.  Tell him how proud I am of him.  I love you, Lord. 

A birthday card from my dad.  I've shared it before, but it's a great one to read again.

I hope this day will be a happy day for you.  You bring such joy and happiness to my life.  The Lord truly blessed me when he sent you to me.
I am so very proud of you.  You have a loving spirit that is very refreshing in the day in which we live. 
I love you so very much that words cannot express the depth of my love for you.  Always remember no matter how old you get that you are Daddy's little girl.  Daddy will always be here for you!
Birthdays come and go and the presents you get, they sometimes lose their luster, so I want to give you a gift that will last forever.  What is it?  It is some advice.  Are you ready?  Ok.
If you want to be truly happy in this life, stay very close to God.  Read your Bible and pray.  Share some of God's love with another person on a daily basis.  Don't look for what you can get but rather look for what you can give. 
And remember,
Daddy loves you!
Dad, you were really challenging me with that.  But I'm going to try.   It seems like every day something tries to get in the way, and that I fall short, but I'm going to figure it out.  One day at a time.  I miss you, Dad. I miss you so, so much.  I know when I sing or play this last stanza of "How Great Thou Art" that this is exactly what you did upon entering Heaven's gates. 
When Christ shall come,
With shouts of acclamation,
And take me home,
What joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim,
"My God, how great Thou art!"