Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lessons From the Older Son

If you have been around Christianity at all for any period of time, and even if you haven't, you are most likely familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son.
The basic premise is that there is a farmer who has two sons. The younger son gets tired of working on his fathers farm and asks his father for the inheritance that he would normally get after his father died. Probably with much sorrow and disappointment the father agrees and the younger son goes off to squander all the money. He uses it to party it up well, gains all these friends impressed with his money and, no doubt, his generosity in allowing them to party as well.
Finally he runs out of money and he realizes what a mistake he has made. He has nothing to eat and considers eating the slop of pigs that he has found a job feeding. He decides that his father's servants at least eat and have a bed to sleep in and so decides to come back to and beg him for a job.
The father, all this time, has been missing his son and waits for him daily. When he sees him coming he runs out to him, he places a robe and ring on him and throws a party.
And the oldest brother gets angry and won't come out to the party. It just seems so unjust to him. He tells his father that all this time he worked for his father and he had never thrown him a party? The father tells him that he has always had access to all the father has, but they are rejoicing over the one that was lost.
This is a great story about redemption as the parable was meant to display, but I have struggled for sometime with actually relating well to that older brother.
And this is me and letting God work in me the things that I struggle with. Not trying to pretend I don't feel injustice, offended, or whatever it is I feel towards life circumstances or even God, just because
 "I am not supposed to."
 That is just lying.
So, instead, I take these questions and feelings to God and let him show me and teach me about them, changing me as He does well.
Pretending we don't feel things is not being authentic within our relationship and besides, He knows what I'm thinking anyways.
So please allow me to share my honesty with the Lord in this post with whomever will read it.
This is what I actually wrote to the Lord a few days back...
"So, can I talk to you about this older brother syndrome that I've been thinking about. Probably yes, it was his pride, thus my pride. Duh, I do have pride, but that's not what I am talking about. It seems unjust, ya know? Do you love those that run away and make mistakes more than those who make less? Maybe this is what I am afraid of, but more Lord-what and I supposed to do with my "injustice" feelings. Especially when I feel like those who don't deserve blessings are blessed. But do I really feel like that about everyone? Would you help me to understand it from your point of view. Probably more than anything I have to trust that there is still enough for me, there are still blessings for me-regardless of what others get. Please forgive me of my jealousy, covetness, pride and vain imaginations. Help me to trust in your goodness towards me, your love for me, it's more than enough."
And then I continued on in my study of Gideon and I feel like He spoke directly to this for me.
First let me say, that we are all born with specific inclinations and spirits and personalities. Mine happens to be one of compliance. I think I would rather do anything than get in trouble, that was always my way. God made me this way, and I am thankful for it. I am thankful for being a dork, as it protected me from many things. Not that I have been perfect, I have been far from it, but I would say my heart has the majority of the time, been to do what was right. I have known the Lord since I was 6, and so the combination of these things have brought me though life.
The Israelites had continually disobeyed what God had commanded them in the time of Gideon. They knew clearly what was commanded of them, they were still God's people, but they walked in rebellion and worshiped gods of the surrounding peoples. YET, God still provided for them and blessed them in lots of areas of their lives.
This is what Priscilla had to say about this...
"The fact that He chose to bless them with wheat to thresh does not imply that He had truly blessed them as a people. They had wheat, but not peace. Grain but not goodwill."
"Both oppression and abundance can coexist in the lives of God's people. God's loyalty does not equal God's approval."
"The harvest that God continually allowed Israel's farmers to retain was not a sign of God's approval, it was a sign of His loyalty."
"May we never equate His faithfulness to us in times of rebellion with His endorsement or tolerance of our choices. When we are unfaithful to God, He will not excuse or overlook our sin. But because we are His, He will still demonstrate His love and care by remaining faithful to His covenant with us and populating our lives with certain blessings. These gifts are not designed to lull us into spiritual apathy or lightening the weight of our offenses. He intends to woo us, graciously, kindly, lavishly-back into intimate fellowship with Himself."
Our society seems to be set up in ways that we think that blessing equals being better than. Even for Christians, sometimes I feel like (especially in America) that we think, God must be really proud of them making all the right decisions for them to be so blessed.
This is obviously wrong in that there are plenty of wealthy and horrible people and there are also amazing godly people who have little. But it still somehow plays out in our lives with that underlying belief.
I think all this time I have felt as if somehow the father throwing the younger son the party was a form of approval, and what has he done to be approved of? All the while the other son works hard and does what is expected of the father and gets zilch. Sometimes it made me think, hey maybe I can go get a little more approval or love if I spit in the fathers face (metaphorically) and make some pretty bad decisions so I can have that same love and approval. Oh, is that how you get it? I thought it was through obedience.
I'm no scholar and there are many smarter than I who I am sure have looked into the topic, but it strikes me interesting that we love to give grace to the wayward son but love to hate the older one for his response. Where is that same grace for his questions, his sin?
And maybe it speaks for my deep desire for approval, from man and most likely from God. Going back to the idea of being seen. Like, "do you see me trying to obey you?", "do you see me seeking after you, asking for wisdom and trying to make godly decisions?" (when I have). "Am I pleasing you?"
But perhaps it wasn't actually the father saying, "well done money squander, you are so much better than this boring sad prideful sap over here, I've been waiting for someone worthy to throw a party over", but rather he could do nothing less, because it is his nature to be loyal, forgiving and loving. It didn't make the other brother more worthy of love or blessing and it didn't make the one who had stayed less.
God can only be true to Himself, and He is love. He doesn't act loving, He is love, and when someone returns from mistakes then He only has the option to be Himself really. The one who walks away removes himself from protection, provision, and all the benefits of the father and once he realizes this, he returns, realizing his mistake. All the while the older brother never understands all he has never had to do without. He has always had everything the father had, and perhaps it was this unknowing of the abundance that he shared in daily, made him feel jealous. How easy it is to become jealous when we lose sight of the many things we enjoy on a regular basis because of the blessing of staying.
And the younger brother, I believe he was experiencing grace, love and forgiveness and loyalty...not approval. His father's party was not about approving his son's behavior, but being loyal to who he was as a father and his great love for his son. The older brother always had the approval and the loyalty and the gifts, he had just lost sight of them.
As I was looking up a few other articles on the matter I have come to the conclusion that I do not have to identify with the older brother, either.
 Have there been times in my life that I have prided myself on being "good" and  "being a good Christian", yes. Does that define who I am today? No.
The older brother was stuck in pride and his "good works". Although I may have never gone to party town and back, I have known what I am like without God's grace covering me and that it is actually his grace that is changing me constantly. That in his heart is where I want to be and is safe.
This is actually a pretty cool revelation to me. That if I didn't identify with the prodigal son completely than that must mean I am the stuffy son. Nope. It doesn't have to be that way. That it's a story for learning from, not necessarily having to identify with.
God's freedom is actually so much greater than that. And so, even though I am so very thankful for what He has shown me in regards to blessing, approval and this is something I think about often, He doesn't see me as that older brother. I am just some sister somewhere in the middle.
 False guilt no longer is allowed a hold on me.
Love you....

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mundaine Extraordinaries

Yesterday was a big day for the Jackson's I think bigger in the spiritual realm than we may even know? It felt so average and normal, but I am learning that these are the moments and times when God seems to prefer to work.
First of all, I haven't shared this with anyone but our little family because, well, I am not sure why? I suppose it feels really private and amazing, but also I am in a bit of a secluded time of life I suppose. But here it is...
Yesterday, June 25th, at nap time, Ashton asked Jesus to be his Savior!
I was doing my usual routine with him at nap: sing, pray, tell stories. I started praying over him after we were all done and he thought this was hilarious and wanted me to keep doing it. As I tried to explain what I was doing this led to what I like to call one of our "baby theology" discussions. This consists of him asking me tons of questions about Jesus, dying on the cross, our sins, and he even said word for word "how do we get to heaven?"
We have had conversations like this several times before, but I felt like it was almost like God was prompting this one differently. We talked for about 20 minutes, going around the same questions as he pondered each answer thoughtfully. Usually I say to him as we end these conversations that when he is ready, if he wants to ask Jesus to forgive his sins and come live inside him that he can. This time after explaining everything I just asked him, "do you want to ask Jesus to come live in your heart?" and he said..."yeah!" So I had him pray after me and now he's a whole new man. Ha ha ;)
I know he is very young, but I have friends who accepted the Lord when they were three and still remember it and mark it as their day of salvation. I came into my room after and prayed God would seal this day as the moment, the first day of his spiritual life, and other mommy prayers that we pray.
It struck me as the defining moment of why I have chosen to be a stay at home mom. Boy have I felt guilty most of Ashton's life for struggling with his birth and crying most days of his life. Sure I was messing up every single day and ruining him forever. But God has laid on my heart from his birth, in all my imperfections to pray for wisdom for him and this has been maybe my one constant with him his whole life. Now that prayer has been expanded to wisdom, love Jesus with all of his heart, love His word, and protection for his mind, body and spirit. Simple and repetitive and who knows what I should add or say more eloquently, but watching his little self do something so significant is worth more than even I could take in, in that moment. What an amazing thing to be able to watch someone's spiritual life unfold and truly be able to witness God make them into who He has made them, and truly disciple them along the way, and I mean every step of the way. Surely there are many days of learning, mistakes and struggle, but that is all in the beauty of the journey.
And as I pray for Ashton and continued to talk to the Lord I asked Him to continue to guide me, speak to me about my calling, allow us to be encouraged that night at the small group and this was my last line...
We went to the small group, the one my parent's have been attending regularly but I have only been to once. The last time was the beginning of April when I wrote this post about them praying for me. I believe Robert has the gift of healing because since that day I have been able to have more strength and ability to be restored. I don't believe it was all just from that prayer, but I think it opened a door for me to be able to do the work God needed me to do with Him.
The God thing about last night was that he was going to tell my parents that he felt he needed to pray for me again, and didn't have any clue that both Daniel and I would be coming that night. I was so thankful, but not really all that surprised by it. The amazing thing was, that when it was time for them to pray for me he said "Ashley I want to pray for you again and seal what the Lord has done in you" He even emphasized seal as his wife was making sure we understood his NornIrish accent, which I do;) He prayed for me, then had Daniel, then my dad and my mom all pray over me. He prayed for the gift of faith for me, which I believe is one of my gifts, but it has been so squelched in past years. Also he prayed that the depression would never return, that it was broken forever, that it was done. That in my time of ultimate vulnerability when the baby is being born that I will be free, have peace, and the whole process would be so different.
I have been praying about this here and there for some time now as I know how it was for me last time, and as I mentioned in the C-section post. I trust Robert's relationship with the Lord immensely and am so grateful that the Lord spoke to someone I barely know to pray things over me that are tremendously important to me. At the end of the prayer session he took my hands and asked me if I knew why the Lord had healed me and I said "because I am His", and he said, "Yes, and because you are that precious to Him. This was not something He wanted, He wants it out of your life."
In the moment I received it, but reflecting back on it is even more meaningful. Just the way the Lord is answering me so quickly and immediately, it truly blows me away. And I thank Him and glorify Him and pray that I will be able to serve others because of His goodness towards me.
God does come and meet us in the hidden ordinary places.
 He has come and He is looking at me.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Please See Me

I remember after my first year out of high school and leaving college after a semester, being broken up with my boyfriend I really liked for no apparent reasons, sort of having a "friends with benefits" relationship with an ex, working, getting fired for false accusations, going to community college, going to Northern Ireland for three weeks in the summer and then trying to go back to Biola, fasting and then ending up back in Northern Ireland with YWAM, I was raw to say the least.
I remember going there full of faith, watching God move to give me the money I needed for my DTS and heading there a week late due to 9/11. There I was on a piece of farm land amongst the cows, the grass, the rain and 30 or so people I had never met. Every week we learned on a different topic and I would go in the prayer room for hours and just pray and read God's word.
I believe this time in my life was the first that I experienced God's intimacy with me. There was something so special about the whole thing, learning and experiencing God and what I believed for myself.
But I remember a strange emotion, jealousy. I was surrounded by people of different cultures; German, English, Swedish, Northern Irish, Americans and some weird Canadians {wink wink Holls}...and they had these amazing walks with the Lord and had such intimacy with Him. Its not like I was the only one at home who had these things with Him, but for some reason at this point in my experience I wanted it to be special, just He and I. I didn't want to share Him, what an odd feeling to think or feel about GOD?!
But perhaps this was when my relationship began to change with Him. That He wasn't some deity way out there who was waiting to slap my wrist when I was wrong or waiting impatiently in heaven as I begged Him for things. He was someone who knew me, who I knew, who interacted with me, and who saw me. I was learning what it meant to be in love with Him, not just love Him.
This intimacy heightened again when I was back in Northern Ireland a few years later with YFC. It was my second year there and we were on a leadership training program. I could write an entire post on that year, the only way to describe it in my words was "magical". The intimacy and love I felt from the Lord were tangible, as if I were walking in clouds some days.
He would call me "princess" during that time. I would see signs, get presents, read verses, etc that all had to do with being a princess and each time I would hear the Lord's affirmation that it was a gift to me, from Him. I was always looking and aware of these little gifts that He would give me, maybe nothing to others, but to me...the world.
I was, at that time of course, looking for my future husband and the whole romance of the thing was not lost on me. A few years earlier my friend and I would call it being "rotic" which is romantic without the man. And lets face it, how can you not feel that way being in the ruins of the coast of Ireland, going on horse back rides and playing in sand dunes. It was just an amazing time. I just wanted to be seen, yes, mostly by a man...but I think at the core of the desire was that I was significant, and the Lord started to speak to me about this. I remember going to our monthly youth events in the city and we would always sing Beautiful One. You know "Beautiful one, I love you, beautiful one, I adore..." God spoke to me that this was our song, and He would sing it to me sometimes. I would just cry.
I prayed and thought a lot about the Psalm that says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" and I prayed He would show me how to delight in Him, and this year was full of delight. Amazing people, tons of laughter, lots of learning deep and meaningful truths about God, and this sense of hope just at my fingertips. There was one time at the end of the year when we stayed at this gorgeous hostile up on a hill with a little creek running through it. At that time the boy I had a crush on had given me a flower and we were sent to spend some time reflecting on what the Lord had done in and through us that year, my heart was so full.
I found a tree and climbed up in with my journal and just talked to the Lord as I had all year. I had begun to expect Him to be wonderful to me, just for the sake of intimacy. In the distance I saw what looked like thunder clouds, which they didn't have in the country, and I asked Him for one. That night after all was done I sat in the living area of the hostile writing more in my journal and I saw the lightening and heard the thunder. My heart swelled with my love, from my Jesus. He saw me, He loved me that intimately.
Once you have experienced the Lord like this, you are really ruined for life. Although lies in these past years have choked out the intimacy we used to have, I believe this time around it will be so much more different and real.
I am doing Priscilla Shirer's Gideon study this summer as my mom bought me the book, and I thought, why not? I watched her second teaching video on Friday and it was so good, and so fitting.
Recently I feel like I have this need to scratch and claw for my identity. It's no big secret that when you become a mom you feel pretty invisible. The things that have always defined me, no longer do, at least not in this season. And it's amusing that it's having all your dreams come true; husband and children, that put you in this place. Different time of life, different dreams and prayers, same deep desire. Do you see me? Not how I look, not how I act necessarily, but me? The real me, in my eyes, the part of me that makes
And I know this is part of what this time set aside between the Lord and I really is. Me, asking Him, who am I? Only He really knows, and it's only by spending time with Him and receiving His love that this is revealed to me. 
And so listening to Priscilla talk about Gideon in this video it seemed so to pertain to really my situation. Not to mention that the sermon today at church, which was a guest speaker, also seemed to go right along as well. Here are some things I feel the Lord spoke or reiterated to me...
God came to Gideon in his place of hiding. It was not ideal in circumstance, but he was being faithful where he was. Taking up your cross every day and choosing obedience is how we love God.
 He was characterized by his fear, insecurity and timidity, but God calls him by His potential and not by his current behavior.
The word of God sits upon our hearts, until it is broken, then it falls in your heart.
Death is the precursor to being clean.
The angel of the Lord came, appeared and looked at Gideon. He didn't just know about him, or acknowledge he was alive, HE looked at Him.
And in Acts 13 in speaking about David is says God testified about David, and he was called a "maa after God's own heart".
After hearing Priscilla's talk, I did feel like it was God's way of telling me that He saw me. I had just been praying to Him that I wanted to feel special to Him again. That I wanted to start seeing His glory again and seeing Him do big God things, that only He could do, nothing I said, did or manipulated.
And then later that day Priscilla re-tweeted my tweet that I hash tagged #lessonsfromgideon, which I thought was A-MA-ZING, and I thanked her...and then she messaged me back!! God's seeing. This is particularly amazing as I have fantasies as I watch my favorite speakers and authors talking to each other on twitter and imagine I am part of that, that I am friends with them too, ha. And once again, I felt my heart swell with love from the Lord. This little thing, seemingly insignificant to most people, but blesses me beyond measure.
And I pray this is just the beginning of new expectancy of intimacy with the Lord. Not one thing that I struggle or claw to get, because anything we manipulate to get...we will never keep anyways. Learning again to delight in Him and let Him to delight me, to look for Him and expect Him, to enjoy being in love with my Savior that is in fact alive, and in fact, in love with me, and I am special to Him and He does see me. I would rather be seen by Him than all the important people in the world, and I am realizing once again, like the speaker said today...
True transformational change doesn't come from revelation, but with intimacy with Jesus.

 And as I finished reading this over before posting, a huge thunder rolled through the sky ;)
Thank you Lord.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Boundaries {Quotes & Thoughts}

I am not too sure what I am going to write in this post yet. I wanted to write some of the quotes that I liked from the Boundaries book and then maybe write some thoughts or things I have learned. I am only a few chapters along and already have 8 pages in my journal handwritten, so we shall see how this goes.

I highly suggest this book. We have no idea the lines that are crossed, that we allow, and how we want to blame everyone else for. I have found it very freeing and life giving.
{I write more of my own thoughts below should reading quotes not be up your ally}

I will try and narrow it down to some key favorites and some thoughts on them....

  • Many people live scattered or tumultuous lives trying to live outside of their own boundaries, not accepting and expressing the truth of who they are. Honesty about who you re gives you the biblical value of integrity, or oneness.
  • Often we do not take responsibility for what we value. We get caught up in valuing the approval of men rather than God.
  • Making decisions based on others approval or guilt breeds resentment, a product of our own sinful nature. We have been so trained by others on what we "should" do that we think we are being loving when we do things out of compulsion.
  • We must own our thoughts. any people have not taken ownership of their own thinking. They are mechanically thinking the thoughts of others without ever examining them. They swallow others opinions and reasoning's, never questioning and thinking about what they are thinking.
  • Remain separate thinkers.
  • God's desire is for you to know where your injuries and deficits are, whether self-induced or other induced. Ask Him to shed light on significant relationships and forces that have contributed to your own boundary struggles. The past is your ally in repairing your present and ensuring a better future.
  • Since you can not get others to change, you MUST change yourself so that the destructive patterns no longer work on you. Change your way of dealing with them, they may be motivated to change if their old ways no longer work.
  • We judge the boundary decisions of others, thinking we know best how they "ought" to give, and usually that means "they ought to give to me the way I want them to".
  • Many peoples giving is motivated by guilt. They are trying to do enough good things to overcome the guilt inside and feel good about themselves. When they say no, they feel bad. So they keep trying to earn a sense of goodness.
  • The Law of Motivation says this: Freedom first, service second. If you serve to get free of your fear, you are doomed to failure. Let God work on the fears, resolve them, and create some healing boundaries to guard the freedom you were called to.
  • Proactive people do not demand rights, they live them. Power is not something you demand or deserve, it is something you express. The ultimate expression of power is love; it is the ability to express power, but to restrain it. Being able to "die to self", and not to return "evil for evil". They have gotten past the reactive stance of the law and are able to love and not react.
  • Appropriate boundaries actually increases our ability to care about others.
  • An internal no nullifies an external yes. God is more concerned with our hearts than he is our outward compliance. If we say yes, when we really mean no, we move into a position of compliance. And that is the same as lying.
  • When we are afraid to say no, our yes is compromised.
  • Boundaries are the litmus test for the quality of our relationships. Those who can't respect our boundaries are telling us they don't love our no. They only love our yes, our compliance.
  • If everything you say is loved by everyone, odds are good you are bending the truth.
  • People who own their own lives do not feel guilty wen they make choices about where they are going. They take other people into consideration, but when they make choices for the wishes of others, they are choosing out of love, not guilt; to advance a good, not to avoid being bad.

I just had to stop there. I practically underlined the entire book, so go read it if any of those struck a cord with you or challenged you.
When my parents first gave me this book I though, ewww. It sounded wrong or mean or something.
It didn't sound Christian (aka legalistic and religious).
You see, some of us are taught from a very young age to serve, be godly, give to others, etc. While all of this is well and good and grace is so important I think I have allowed myself to be used and be trampled on like a door mat for the sake of being a
"good Christian".
I took responsibility on myself to make sure that other people were happy with me at all times. I did not allow myself to be free to think separate thoughts, especially if someone I loved and/or admired disagreed with me. And even when times that I knew what the word of God said about certain situations I would bow to what someone else told me, even if it was the opposite, for the sake of them being angry or mad at me. I just accepted that I must be wrong or over critical, rather than being me, expressing my opinion, allowing grace to change that should it be wrong. Losing myself for the sake of being "nice".

Christians are "supposed to do this" and these thoughts always resounded on my mind. That was what God expected me to do, to keep everyone happy with me, to serve at all costs.
When I pulled out of ministry here at my current church the guilt messages practically SCREAMED at me. I really felt like it was what God wanted from me, what He was asking me to do.
I wasn't "committed", I wasn't willing to make the sacrifice it took, I was letting people down. And although perhaps some of the people I served with MIGHT have thought these things, it was my own self condemnation that I heard most loudly.
I thought that if I could guess other peoples thoughts and think them before they spoke them to me that I could fix myself and save myself from "being wrong". I didn't want to have an unrealistic view of myself, so if I could tell myself the real hurtful truth I would not be hurt. The opposite actually was true.
I believe this has led to much of my depression.
Whether it was about my family, my service, or my body, I took on responsibility for what I perceived others though about me, what they thought.
I remember when I first thought about this fact in regards to my self image. I would imagine what others were saying about me. "Eww look at that ugly outfit", "Don't you think she knows she is too big to wear that", etc. Then one morning I just thought, I am doing the best with what I have today. I can be responsible for how I think about me, but others are going to think whatever they want.
This was setting a boundary without me even realizing it.
I allow myself to say no, this is healthy.
I am not responsible for anyone else to be kind to me, to be godly, to rescue them, make sure they become who they are supposed to be, etc.
I can encourage them and support them, but their feelings and responses are not up to me.
Only mine are.
This has been truly freeing and peace giving to me.
That I need to give from a place of love and not guilt is HUGE for me.
I was doing everything I was doing in church out of obligation and guilt. I was trying to pour out  of a dry well. I knew it, but I thought it was my responsibility. I kept thinking, "I have nothing to give here". And I never thought about the importance of taking care of myself. Letting God actually fill me up so I then had something to give. That I was broken and I needed to be fixed, but that only GOD could do that. Not my family, not my friends, and not my church.
Now, I know that when God releases me from our time together that I will have so much to give because of all the pouring time we have had together. Nothing to prove, not trying to scramble to find my worth by others telling me so. In fact I feel like the Lord has made me invisible to people, because for so long I wanted them to tell me I was worthy, rather than go to the source. God simply said no, not this time. It's time to do the hard work, let's go.
The result of all this....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Vacation, Pregnancy update and Aswered Prayer

Last week was a nice break as some of the family drove a little over an hour away and were able to stay at the Breckenridge Hyatt with our parents time share.
Sadly, Daniel couldn't come because he doesn't have any time off with his job for the first year. Sad:(
But since Ashton and I are virtually free almost...always...then we went without him.
It is so beautiful in the Rockies, I can't believe we don't go up there more often. And the weather was gorgeous as well. Just perfect temps.
The first two days we were there mom, Cat and I went on walk runs down by a river that runs through the town. So nice!
I was so proud of my 7 month preggo body being able to run (aka jog slowly) and of it. My cardio was fine, my calves hurt a bit, but the second day it just felt like he was jumping up and down on my bladder and I couldn't take that for very long. But one day we did around 2 miles and the other we did about 4? Anyways, just being outside is glorious!
We also hit up the pool the first two days and I actually got some sun, which just makes me feel a tiny bit prettier, and any little help I will take, ha ha.
It was just a pretty relaxing time. The only downside was it was hard to sleep a couple nights because of bar crowds outside, uncomfort of last tri-mester body and Ashton sleeping in the same room as me. But overall, it was so nice.
I am noticing changes in myself. Where guilt would lead me in all areas of my thoughts and feelings, now I felt calm, peaceful, and OK.
Silly things that would normally just tear me apart, I was fine with.
\Most likely, like normal people.
 I have been reading a book my parents bought me a while back
{I forget if I have mentioned this in a post already, sorry}
but its called Boundaries.
It has really helped me in my mindset.
That I am only responsible for my feelings and actions and how I respond and how I think. By allowing myself to worry, worry, worry, about what everyone else might be thinking or feeling does not change anything, except give me anxiety. I think that is why I am experiencing more peace. Because I have given up trying to analyze what others think of me, who cares?
I always think of my sister when I reflect on this. She just lets people be who they are or who they need to be and doesn't let her affect who she is. She just is who she is, makes the choices she needs to for her life and family and other people can deal with their response to that. It is not her responsibility to carry our reactions....because she can't and neither can I. DUH!
What is the point of worrying myself into anxiety about something I can not change.
As far as pregnancy goes, things are going fine. Our insurance should be kicked in now so Daniel just has to get me the info and I can make another appointment. See what is going on with this little one.
I can tell he is getting bigger because I can now see him move from the outside. The little kicks are starting to transfer to larger movements. Sometimes it seems he never sleeps, maybe then he will sleep a lot when he comes out. ha ha. mmmhmmm
I feel big, my family tells me that I am smaller this time than last time, but I am not so sure they are just remembering me at my biggest and not at 7 months? I do have to say that as much as my acne is still present it is not as crazy as last time, we shall see as we enter the last stretch here. Also, I am trying to focus on water, and diuretic type foods i.e. watermelon, and walking some in order to keep my swelling in check. So far so good. My nose isn't quite as big....YET...and I am still able to wear my rings with no problem, so we shall see.
I have random outbursts of emotion, I think that is normal...see my last post about that. But in the past week things have been well, even, normal. I think being in the sunshine has been great for me, so this week I am trying to sit in the sun for breakfast on our balcony in the morning for a little vitamin D.
The other thing that I am noticing is that I am not so....
"this is the end of the world!!!"
About my body, about situations, well at least not all the time and mostly about my body.
I am getting excited about training again for another marathon or a half once I am done and maybe working on my body knowing that I am really done with kids. Having this knowledge and belief that this time is for a short period of my life, and that I will feel pretty once again in my life. I still have so much life left to live.
I have taken our needs to the Lord in regards to the things that we need for the baby. I am trying to be realistic about what we need and what I might think we need or want. I have been pretty specific and I am not worried, I know He will provide....
and this brings me to answered prayers.
I wrote about my stress about our finances last time and all that was going on there. I went to the Lord and told Him all I was scared of, and I think I wrote about all that last time too.
I talked to Him again on vacation and just that He would help my unbelief and help me to trust Him and believe that He can, will and even wants to provide our needs.
Well by the end of the week Daniel let me know that he will have an offer letter by the end of this week with his new position. Which means more money. We are not sure how much, but at the least it will be a 5% increase and we think it will be more just because the guy that they fired which he will be replacing told him how much he made. His regional manager told him that the manager was the general and she needed a captain, and Daniel would be the captain. Ha ha.
I need to remember to say Aye Aye Captain to him on a regular basis.
I am so grateful to the Lord for in a way, answering my cry so quickly. Its not like we have the money in our hot little hands yet, but we know the reprieve is coming. We know its not like we will be living in the lap of luxury, but hopefully will be able to now afford more of the things I was so stressed know, like going out to dinner. pshhh!
Then on Sunday our pastor talked about John 15, one of my favorite passages, about remaining in the vine. And you know, I have really been trying to stay connected to Him. I am asking for more of Him and I am asking for more grace to obey Him quickly, be changed, etc. The only reason I know anything is changing is because of Him, and I know there is so much more that needs to be sanctified...obviously. But then there is the verses about if you are in the vine ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.
I know these verses can sometimes be....scary....because what about the times He says no, or what about the times when it doesn't turn out the way we want it to. I know God prioritizes the inner work over the outer work for us in the new covenant and many times has some sort of thing He is speaking, teaching or changing in us by saying no...but it STILL SAYS IT. And the timing can not always be coincidental. And I just think, wow. I mean where we were last year compared to this year is way better. The fact that Daniel has a different job at all is so amazing and the opportunities are so great in this new company. On top of that this new position is pretty set in Denver as long as Daniel wants it, until he pursues more money in a different position, and this also means so much to me and having the baby.
I am so grateful to the Lord for all His provisions, even if its not huge, not that He is incapable of that, because I think we would love to be able to bless others or work more for the Kingdom if we had more resources. And then there is the concept of being faithful with what He is already given us right now.
So, now I am asking Him for a car. I know I am about to have a baby and I will be home bound much anyways. But I am starting to miss my life. My friends. Being involved. This is such a good thing too because it has taken me a while to say that.
Back when I first got pregnant (or three months in) and God told me to take 6 months with Him to work these things out I was so ready and willing to hide away. I just told Him the other day that I can't believe we already half way through that 6 months. So much has happened, so much has been revealed and learned. I can't imagine what else is up in the next three before the baby comes...or 2.5, I don't like to make it longer than it has to be...ha ha.
I have also been thinking about how I am preparing to show myself grace and love in all the ways I will need them once I have the baby. My time with the Lord, my body, working out, dealing with a need, no sleep, and loneliness. To let all of that have its time, to keep a positive outlook and to enjoy every baby snuggle and noise and cry, because this is my last time.
So there is my dear diary for the time being. A little all over the place, but my thoughts just the same.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Have you ever felt like there were a million things going on and yet like nothing had happened all at the same time? I guess that is how I have felt about blogging lately. Maybe its more that I didn't know what to write about or what to say about things, but I am here to attempt to process what has been going on lately.
The week days have been fine. Ashton and I doing our thing in the house, even keeping things picked up and clean on "most days" and listening to any teaching I can get my hand on while I do it. I will listen to probably 10-20 teachings a week I would guess. Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Priscilla Shirer and today finally found one I hadn't heard from Kay Arthur. I have been spending good time with the Lord praying and reading out of a new, pretty Bible my mom found in her house. It's been good.
The weekends are another story. For some reason I find myself super irritable and grumpy, especially with Daniel. He has this new job in which we make more money and one of our marital weaknesses is that he doesn't always keep me posted on the goings on of our money. I just assume, making more money equals more money to spend for me. I waited and waited for pay day and then was suddenly informed that no, we still can't buy anything. WHAT?
Apparently when we were making less the bills didn't always get paid, or paid on time which led to having some cushion we are making more to pay the bills in full and on time, so this means NOTHING LEFT. At least this is what I understand. Just like everything else, our finances are a work in progress.
Yet, I have had little grace for this little problem. All I can think is, "I sit in this stinkin house (condo) all week long with NO CAR and then on the weekends I get to ....wait for NOTHING!" I realize when praying about it earlier today that I just sound like a brat stomping my feet and saying "no fair, boo hoo hoo, poor me" but it has really been getting to me. But I think more than that I am praying so much for God to change me, renew my mind, make me more like Him, etc....but in these moments of feeling like this, like I take care of all these things and no one takes care of me (in no uncertain terms) that I become the ugly, yucky Ashley that I am trying to be redeemed from.
Almost like, what was all the prayers and wanting to learn for, if its not to be less of a brat to my husband? Ya know?
And then I remembered on Friday I found a link from Beth Moore's blog to a video she had made that I listened to as I was folding laundry. To be honest I can't recall right now what in the world the whole devotion was about, but at the end she encouraged the listener to ask God these things and for Him to speak to them over the next 10 days.
  • What is in my heart?
  • What do you see in me?
  • Who am I?
  • What are my gifts, strengths, weaknesses?
  • What have you created me for?
  • Am I being deceived by anything?
Ahh yes, the talk was something to the effect that the difference between a lie and a deceit is that you have been deceived when the lie that was told to you...worked.
And as I started praying about all this I just sobbed uncontrollably. I cried a lot over the weekend as well, and although I knew that I was frustrated about my very boring life, I could not put my finger on what was making me feel so hurt about it all. As if Daniel had purposely paid the bills so I couldn't go to dinner or something? It truly felt like a hurt and not just an inconvenience.
And I just felt like the Lord told me,
"You have deep mistrust and unbelief in your heart"
And you know, this hurts to hear, again. Because it seems like...sheesh, how many things do I need to confess and look at here. But then again, I had ASKED HIM! And I do want to know and see and understand.
And as I wrote in my prayer journal and bawled my eyes out in this pain, I realized, yes, He was..of course, right.
I think I am in a vulnerable place, a really vulnerable place. I don't have a job, I don't make my own money, I depend on Daniel for many things, money probably being the least valuable of all of them yet still important. We women feel security in knowing we can get the things we need, should we need them. I don't have a car, I am pregnant and my body does weird things and looks weird. I feel like I am extra vulnerable in my heart and soul right now as well, like laying there open on the surgery table, just a little sensitive. (not to mention never knowing if being pregnant in general might have some to do with random bursts of emotions).
But I am afraid to tell the Lord what I think we need, or even what I think I need or what I want. I am afraid that if I do, and He says no, and I don't understand, that I will be hurt, and broken still. As if real love depends on getting what we ask for all the time, but what are we supposed to do when we don't. And so I told Him I was scared of all this and I told Him about feeling vulnerable and that I literally can't help myself in this season in any way, none. Its weird, and hard, and scary! To know that a baby is coming and we literally have nothing for that baby and don't know how we are going to get those things.
So, I made Him a list of all the things I have been wanting or needing and the baby will need when he is here. But mostly I just prayed that He would help me have the faith that He is my great provider, that He would help my unbelief and help me to trust Him again.
And then I picked up my Bible to read  where I left off....
2 Corinthians 12 and in verse 9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
and in Proverbs 3:11 "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the so in whom he delights"
And I think I did see this as a discipline, I asked Him to show me what was in my heart and this is one of those things. I don't trust Him to be a good, loving and generous Father. Even if I am trying to make new and better choices and praying for God to renew me, this was still what came out when I was feeling vulnerable and hopeless and grumpy. That is what is really in there.
So I pray, once again, that He can help change me. I truly don't have the power or smarts to change myself. I think I am doing good, feeling strong, and then gross fleshy Ashley is like....I am the top Bi-otch around here. Ha. But really.
Whew, processes that I wish could go faster, just like my pregnancy;) But I know God has asked me not to hide behind things that have given me worth in the past. My hair, my confidence, clothes, money, significance, place in church, etc....and well, He is taking me to the literal here.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


So I have been thinking a little recently about what another C-section will be like. I am not one to live in the future yet at the same time I like to know what to expect, if that makes sense. I suppose I could try and have a VBAC but, to be honest, I really don't want to.
The plan is now to get my tubes tied while they are all up in there, when you are done..
you are done;)
Like I have talked or written about many a time, having another baby makes me nervous.
To be honest, I think I may have experienced some PTSD around the birth of Ashton.
This might sound extreme and could be inaccurate but this is the definition I found of it in regards to child birth....
"Birth trauma is an event that occurs during any phase of the childbearing process than involves actual or threatened serious injury or death to the mother or her infant. The trauma can be classified as a negative outcome, such as a postpartum hemorrhage, or psychological distress. Experiencing this extremely traumatic stressor, a woman’s response can be intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, and horror. (Beck, 229)"
I can't say for sure, but it was a rough time on me.
I went in to be "induced" and that was not explained to me. I was a week late and I thought they would give me some drugs and I would go into labor and have the baby that night or next morning. I had no clue that it could take up to THREE days!
I was hooked up to all kinds of monitors and machines which made it nearly impossible to go to the bathroom, let alone sleep or shower.
They moved my room three times throughout the process.
They gave me Pitocin, which actually did NOTHING for me.
At one point I was having something that resembled contractions and they gave me meds so I could try to sleep.
The nurses, of which I had countless of, would randomly come in and look at the movement monitor and freak me out by saying he wasn't moving enough or his heartbeat didn't look normal.
I just remember crying.
What was going on??
After the third day of trying in all sorts of "fun" manners to get me to efface, dilate, go into labor they declared it a failed induction and scheduled me for the C-section.
They had to put it off however many hours because I had eaten.
So I have been in the hospital three days, barely any sleep, pushed prodded and tied to machines. I was physically exhausted and mentally and emotionally so drained. I could care less that I had to have a C-section, just get this baby OUT OF ME!
I remember feeling like I was in a daze of sorts. If I did close my eyes I would dream instantly, that is how exhausted I was.
They got me ready for the procedure and I wasn't nervous at all, like I said, it all felt like a dream.
They sat me on the table and told me they were going to give me a spinal and to swing my legs up immediately because I would lose feeling in them fast.
They laid me back and got the whole set up done. My anesthesiologist told me that if I felt worried or like I couldn't breath to let her know. At one point I did and she said,
"we do hundreds of these a week, they all know just what to do, don't worry"
So I relaxed a bit.
They blow this warm air on your arms, I think its so you can't hear anything and again a few dreamy like minutes later and out came Ashton.
He didn't cry, which of course concerned me. Daniel said he had a look on his face like
"what the heck? I was nice and comfy in there".
He was 9lb 9oz so pretty glad I didn't have to push him out and no wonder he wasn't moving much, he was smashed in there.
They took us to a recovery area and I started getting so cold. They finally gave him to me to try and get him to eat and I was still so out of it feeling. He wouldn't eat and the nurse is freaking out about it and kind of like yelling at me, like I knew ANYTHING? But it was freaking me out.
The next thing I knew we were in some weird recovery room, which I stayed in till we left. The grandparents and siblings came to see him for a few minutes and I have very little memory of this night. All I wanted to do was go to sleep.
And there is some weird guilt around that. Here I have just had my first precious child and I just want to go to sleep. I was on my 4th day of being awake nearly the whole time, just had major surgery and can't seem to get my baby enough food, and I just wanted to shut my eyes.
That night I kept trying to breastfeed but he wouldn't latch or whatever. Nurses were in and out and they took him to the NICU and then brought him back and then took him back and I just fell asleep. I just couldn't take it.
Nurses were coming in and putting these weird booty things on my legs, I suppose to help circulation. They were seeing to my catheter (which honestly was magical at the time), I had to blow in this contraption to help my lungs do something, I was on pain medication and when I would ask for more, that particular nurse seemed to think I was some sort of drug attic. All I knew was that I was really tired, and I was really in pain and was trying to make it through the night. It was very scary, it was very lonely. I had no idea what was happening to me and I had no idea what was happening to Ashton.
Daniel was just as tired as I was, trying to sleep his 4th night on that pull out bed thing.
The next morning I was finally awake and aware enough to ask, "where is my kid?"
I think Daniel knew, but I didn't. He was still in the NICU and no one bothered to fill me in on what was happening with my brand new child. I hobbled out of bed into a wheel chair and we made our way into the NICU and had to find him ourselves. There was a nurse there feeding him and she didn't even know he was our son. It felt so strange, like..."give me my baby, what is going on". He had a feeding tube up his nose. No one said anything to us. Is he ok? Is he dying? Why does he have that?
If I would have been in my right mind I would have yelled and been mad, but I didn't know what to do, so I just cried. She mumbled something to us about him not taking formula so they had to give it to him through a feeding tube. I just wanted to know if he was going to be OK, should I be worried. I was so scared.
We had to leave him there for a while and we went back later and he was off the tube and I was able to hold him. This picture is the first time after several hours and a whole night being a part that I was able to hold him.
I feel like everything from there on out was so weird and hard. I couldn't walk, and I couldn't sit up without incredible pain. Just like no one prepped me for what to expect in induction I had no clue what to expect for a C-section and recovery process. I just lived it as it happened and felt in over my head in how to deal.

 Daniel learned how to change him and they took him for his circumcision and they poked his little heels for blood and he screamed and this person came in to tell us to do it this way and another person came into do it that way, all the while trying to manage another two days in the horrid hospital.
I felt like a horrid and inept mother.
Even at our wellness check up, I was so weak from my C-section Daniel was wheeling me in 3 days later and I remember the nurse yelling at me for not walking.
When we finally got home I felt exhausted but relieved to be home.
I would take my medication for the pain and sweat buckets, presumably releasing all the fluids that come from pregnancy. I still felt overwhelmed.

Slowly we figured things out, and I healed and got stronger and learned Ashton and learned to love him and I suppose writing this tonight is me learning to forgive myself for not being able or heaven forbid willing to be the mother I thought I should have been during that whole time. That it was in fact, my first time, and no one knows what they are doing. That yes, it was a hard ordeal that I went through and guess what, Ashton is just fine...even if I did end up having to give him formula.
I always say I bet there are God loving men serving Jesus who were raised on formula,
 I guess life goes on.
I have heard that second time C-sections are better to deal with and quicker to recover from. And you know what, I don't mind doing it again for the simple fact that I have been through it before. I do know what to expect and I get to pick the day and go in for it. I won't be tired from waiting to go into labor and then be blindsided with C-section news, it will be the plan all along.
I will know what recovery looks like, have my wits about me in regards to my child, and know a little something about what being a mom looks like and what recovery means.
I am praying already about this process so much. That this time it will be a time of peace, a time when God provides me what I need and invite Him into the process. A time of love, perspective and strength.
I know this time, it's going to be different.
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