Thursday, September 30, 2010

I was Blinded, but Now I'm Free!

"Draw me closer, oh my Lord, draw me closer, Lord to Thee."  For the past three months, this has been my prayer.  Three months ago, my world was rocked.  It has taken me almost the full three months to get to the place where I am now.  It is a good place. We have a baby on the way that I can feel growing!  We have been discussing names, and laughing at each others' reactions to the others' favorites.  We have made grand plans for new sleeping arrangements, and schedules.  I have thought about this baby and what he/she will bring to our family, and what we can bring to his/her little life.  I have decided that this baby will be blessed in so many ways, and so will we.  We have an opportunity for so many new things that our family would not have experienced without our new addition. :)

Three months ago I was missing all this joy and hope.  Then, the idea of all these new opportunities was completely overwhelming to me.  I do not apologize, though, for being honest.  My hope and my prayer is that by sharing what I was truly experiencing, that someone else might find the strength and courage to make it through similar situations - knowing that you will not be stuck in that place, and you will find a way out.  I think Satan uses our shame and guilt to create ugliness.  I could have said I was fine.  I could have pretended that I was okay.  I could have lied.  The one thing that I did know during those dark days was that I could trust my Lord!  I had never had to trust Him like this before.  Everyday, I would wake up in a haze of panic, and I would just start praising Him for all He had brought me through before.  This journey has honestly taken me every bit of one day at a time. 

During this time, I have pulled away from many things - hobbies and friends especially.  I didn't want to hear anyone  or anything but my Jesus.  I appreciate all my friends who let me push them away, and then draw them close when I needed them.  You are my true friends, and I love you, and will definitely return the favor!  To those of you who have looked me in the eye and spoken His truth as I needed to hear it, you are precious to me, and I will always treasure you.  I have had to get to a place where I knew my only hope came from the Lord.  Once I could stand on that, He started moving me and revealing new and exciting things to my heart. 

"Let everything be lost in the shadows of the light of Your face.  And let every chain be broken from me, as I'm bound in Your grace.  For Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light, You're full of wisdom, power, and might...and every eye will see YOU...So captivate me, oh Jesus, set my eyes on You.  Devastate me, with Your presence falling down.  Rushing River, draw me nearer.  Holy Fountain consume me, with You, and captivate me, oh Jesus, with You!"

These are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs - "Captivate Us" by Watermark.  Those lyrics have been my heart's prayer the last few months.  I know many of you have had several experiences where you've had to "shut out" the world just to hear His still small voice.  I've heard it now.  I've heard it before, but the place I was in and my fears and insecurities got in the way and made my mind too loud.  I love the quiet that I have in my soul right now.  There is peace where it was missing.  I am now super-expectant for all the Lord wants for our baby.  When I see his/her little face, the thoughts that accompanied my mind in the first days will be thrown into the sea of forgetfulness.  We are having a baby people!!!!!!  We get to experience the joy of a new life at an older age.  Hopefully we'll be much wiser in every way. 

Thank you for all your prayers and support.  I just wanted to share my heart with you today.  So many of you watched me walk through a valley that you'd never seen me in before.  Thank you for not shutting your eyes and leaving me there.  I know everyone likes the "happy Ashley" that I really am, and I just want you to know...she's back!  One of the most tragic things that I can think of happening is when a sister falls down in her race, and the other runners step over her.  I don't ever want to do this to my sisters.  I'm usually a middle-ender in a physical race.  (This means I'm more toward the middle to end crossing the finish line than at the front.:)  So, when you are in this position in a race, you see a lot.  If I see one of my sisters fall, I promise to help pick you back up.  We all need someone with whom we can be completely honest.  If you don't have someone like that, you need to find her!  I have shared with you something that was not easy, but someone needed me to be honest about it.  I have been faithful to Him through this, and He promises that He will be faithful to me, even if I'm not faithful to Him.  Awesome huh?


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Arrogant Complacency

My daddy gave me some great advice that I still try to follow.  He said, "Ashley, I don't want to hear you bragging about the good things you do, that's what I'm for."  He went on to explain that nobody wants to hear someone talking about how great he/she is.  He told me my actions would speak louder than my words, and that he would always be there to "talk me up". :)  I've told my daddy how wise I think he is, but I still don't know if he knows the depths of the lessons he has taught me.

Humility.  I love the word.  When I see this in people, it makes me stop - literally.  I want to study the person who displays this trait, and I want to know more.  I want to be more humble.  (and I do pronounce the "h" - do you?)  The world is full of arrogance and arrogant people.  I wonder if they ever get tired of themselves?  I certainly do!  I can't say that I am always act in humility.  I've had an issue lately where my pride was invited to get in the way, and I didn't like myself.  I was reminded today of the very first person in whom I recognized this awesome character trait.  His name is Jesus.

He was GOD, and He never acted like He was better than anyone else.  What power!  Pastor Chris taught us today about the cycle we go through that steals our joy - and our humility.  You know I have to share it with you!  We have been in a series entitled "Baggage".  Today he talked about the freedom we have in Christ, and how sadly, many of us go through a cycle where we let our freedom slip away.  When we receive freedom, the next thing that usually follows is prosperity.  What have you been freed from?  Financial issues, marital issues, weight/health issues, job-related issues, relational issues?  Have you gotten to the point where you experienced some prosperity - some success?  Pastor Chris says most people don't know how to handle the prosperity with humility, which causes one of two things to happen.  1)We become arrogant.  Look what I can do.  I have come such a long way and I will NOT go back to where I was.  I'm awesome!  or 2)We become complacent.  I'm good, I'm just gonna hang out  and enjoy this.  I don't have to work hard anymore - the Lord has blessed me.  If we fall prey to one of these responses, the next step is bondage.

In my life, I have learned all too well that I am not the reason for any success I may have.  Anything that is good in me or in my life, or any influence (favor) I may have is completely from the Lord!  I despise arrogance so much that I believe it has thrown me more into category #2.  I struggle with complacency.  I would rather back down any day than to compete.  I used to be very competitive - in my pre-teen and teenage years.  That is when I struggled (more inwardly, than outwardly) with arrogance - trying to be the best, trying to stay on top.  I decided when I gave myself completely to the Lord, at 19, that I was done with the competitive arrogant me.

I have to find some holy ground in all of this.  I know the Lord doesn't want me to lie down and be complacent.  I need to learn which fights are worth fighting - the ones that bring honor to Him. I do want to fight for his kingdom!  So, Pastor Chris gives us three ways to stay free in Christ. 

1)Humility "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;  according to your great compassion blot out my transgression.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin...The sacrifices (what God really likes)are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise."  Psalm 51:1-2; 17
2)Honesty "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives."1 JN 1 :9-10)
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." James 5;16
3)Holy Spirit  "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you." Romans 8:9
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM."  2 Cor. 3:17

I hope this speaks to you tonight.  It spoke to me hard today!  I want my life to reflect the humility that comes from serving my precious Jesus!  I don't want to be complacent with my freedom anymore!  When I experience prosperity of any kind, I want it to be evident that it is because of Jesus Christ!  Arrogance has no place in my life, and neither does complacency.

The good news is, as we live - and stay, in His freedom, He gives us a new STRENGTH, a new IDENTITY,  and a new JOY!  My prayer tonight is that we would all live in His freedom continually.  If you struggle with either arrogance or complacency, you don't have to fight this battle anymore.  Let's all give it to Him!  In His freedom we can live!



Wednesday, August 25, 2010


If you haven't figured out by now, I love to share.  I have also told you all that this blog is like my therapy.  I have always loved to write.  It has been a way for me to communicate my inner most feelings, see them on paper (or screen), and then look at it objectively and learn.  Just in case any of you were thinking, "Why does this girl feel the need to share everything?!"  Now you know the answer.  I have also prayed many times, "Lord, if You'll get me through it, I promise I'll share what I learn to help others"  The need to share for me is almost like breathing, I just have to.  I used to feel like I shared too much, but honestly, over the last few years, I don't think I've shared enough.

Another reason I started this blog is to chronicle my journey through this pregnancy.  I feel like I'm still in the chapter of ...What is My Problem?!  My brain is in reflective mode.  I used to want to be, and sometimes still want to be, a psychologist.  My favorite patient is myself.  I am putting pieces together as to why I have the feelings, reservations, panic,etc.  that I do about this pregnancy.  I have found several pieces, but not all.  Even now I can say I am better this week than I was last week.  My Jesus is so faithful to me, and I have laughed and smiled and felt His peace wrap around me.  I have had moments where I thought, it doesn't matter, Lord.  Whatever comes, You've got me. This is progress, my friends!

One of the most powerful passages in scripture for my heart is found in Mark 9.  Let me introduce you to a Daddy.  This daddy loves his son, and his son is suffering - and has been- since childhood.  The Bible tells us that he suffers from a mute spirit that attacks him and causes him to be unable to speak.  Let me tell you why I love this daddy.  He didn't have the answers.  He had probably been mocked and ridiculed because of a circumstance that his son could not help.  This daddy didn't hide away somewhere with his son.  He sought out Jesus, whom he knew was the Healer.  Before he made it to Jesus, the daddy had first gone to the Disciples.  Even the Disciples could not heal the boy.  They were Jesus' closest friends.  Jesus had given these guys power to do more than He could do.  Can you imagine how that daddy felt as he left the Disciples, and even they couldn't heal his boy?

Defeat.  Hopelessness.  Yearning.  Love.  This is what comes to my mind when I try to put myself in that daddy's shoes.  We've all been there at one point or another.  Maybe you experienced a loss that was so bad, you thought you'd never get over it.  Maybe you prayed for healing for yourself or a loved one.  Maybe you even had some people in your church pray with you, agreeing with you in prayer.  We're supposed to get the answer we want, right?  Welcome to this daddy's heart.  Here comes the good part.  He didn't stay down.  He didn't even let his own thoughts separate him, or keep his precious boy from the healing power of his mighty Saviour!

Jesus inquires about the boy - which is great, because He knows everything about this boy.  Jesus always has a purpose for the things He says, and the things He prompts us to say.  You know as well as I do that there are ALWAYS some itching ears around.   Then Jesus says to the daddy who wants more than anything to have his son whole, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."  So simple, but could you do it?  Believe with everything in you, without a doubt, that a miracle can happen right now?  Next is the most precious part of this story to me.  You have to love a daddy who will be completely honest with His God.  All he has to do is say the word.  I love love love what he does.  He is completely honest.

We know the Lord knows our thoughts completely.  He knows everything about us.  Why would we try to pull the wool over His eyes when He made the sweater, and He can see through the holes?  This is why I can't pretend that I'm completely okay with the thought of having a fourth child.  I am getting better, but I'm not where I want to be.  I cannot pretend that I am at a place where I am not, and I won't.  When we hold things in because we're afraid of how it may sound, who might hear it, and what people may think, we're losing sight of Who really matters.  I know there are times when we need to hold our tongues, or watch our words, but we need people that we can be completely honest with who will lift us up in our time of struggle.  So, here I am, sharing with my people.  I need to feel an excitement for this child. 

Let me take you back to the daddy.  In the midst of some crowd of people, and after Jesus had told him all he has to do, the daddy speaks.  Precious, precious words flow from his lips that, I believe, made Jesus' heart smile out loud.  The Bible states it beautifully in Mark 9:24.  "Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, 'Father, I believe; help my unbelief!'"

This line of scripture still brings tears to my eyes.  Tonight it is for a different reason than it has been in the past.  This is where I live right now.  I know His promises are true, and I know He has a plan that is for my good, so why would any part of me doubt that I should not feel anything but joy and elation during these early months of my pregnancy?  The honest truth is, I don't know why.  What I do know is that I believe my Jesus!  I believe in Him enough to cry out to Him, through my tears, and tell Him exactly where my heart is.  He already knows, and I believe He looks on us with joy when we just speak our hearts to Him.  So, sweet friends, this is my prayer tonight, "Lord, help my unbelief!"

Jesus, in Your name, I come before You as Your child.  I stand in the gap right now for my family and friends who may be experiencing their own battle with unbelief.  Hold on to them, sweet Jesus, just like you held onto that precious daddy when no one else could seem to help.  I know there are families that are hurting, marriages that are being torn apart, and precious children who are hurting from things and circumstances that are beyond their control.  Help their unbelief, Lord!  I pray that my friends would come to you with the troubles on their hearts, and that You, Abba Daddy, would love on them and wrap your peace around them like a big fuzzy blanket.  I love you Lord, and I thank you for the friends who share in my journey with me.



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Let Your Hearts Be Light

So, how about something a little more light-hearted?  I know I have caused several tears with my last blogs, and tonight, I don't want you to cry. :)  I must confess, I'm not very good with comedic writing, so I will just share.  Hopefully, it will - at the least- make you smile. 

Randy can make me laugh so hard.  If you know him, this might surprise you.  He's very quiet, normally, but when he is on a roll - watch out!  The things that make me laugh the most are the little, unexpected things he may do that are timed just perfectly.  There is one story, however, that has made my girlfriends roll with laughter.  I thought it would be fun to share - you'll have to use your imagination, because I'm not going to spell it all out.

Sydney was a week late, and I had to be induced with pitocin.  Yikes!  No matter how much I practiced my breathing, nothing prepared me for the pain of contractions.  When I'm in pain, I'm mean.  I remember focusing on the clock on the wall.  I don't know what I thought that clock was going to do for me, but I would not take my gaze away from it during a contraction.  Randy was watching the monitor, so he could see when I had a contraction.  He was talking to me during them.  I said, "Shhh."  I don't think he heard that.  After the next contraction, I looked at him and said, "Don't talk."  I apologized in between contractions.  He said he was just trying to help.  I knew this, but again I had never known this kind of pain.  Later as the contractions got even worse, he was still watching the monitor and would squeeze my hand as I had them.  I yelled, "You don't squeeze my hand, I squeeze YOUR hand!" 

I had demerol before I got my epidural, so Randy was literally having to wake me up so I could push.  I remember just wanting to close my eyes, and telling him that.  He coached me through this and finally I realized that it was time.  So, the pain of contractions was nothing like what I thought, and well, I was in for another surprise.  The nurse told me to push.  I had had my epidural and really couldn't feel anything.  At this moment, the moment mothers look forward to, the process that will allow that precious baby to come into the world, I quickly came to the realization that  I didn't know how or what to push.

The nurse looked at me again, and said, "Okay, let me see you push."  It was confession time.  I looked at her and said, "Okay, I know this is crazy, but I just don't know how to push."  She then gave me a very good example of a similar kind of push that would mortify Randy in, oh, about 2 more pushes.  I tell you what, as long as I have an epidural, I could push all day long.  It came easy to me.  I was good at it.  It didn't hurt anymore, and I wasn't even feeling contractions at this point.  I was home free!  The nurses were bragging on me, and I was getting very excited to find out if our baby was a boy or a girl.  My pushing was going to get that baby here in no time!

I was in Happy Land...and then I looked at Randy's face.  He was worried about something.  I said, "What?"  He walked closer to my face, and looked at the other end of the table.  He had seen something that he didn't think should be happening.  He leaned closer, and told me what it was.  I laughed.  That's all I could do.  I was a good pusher - the nurse said so.  Whatever was going on must be normal, because she wasn't saying anything.  I pushed some more.  Randy appeared at my face AGAIN.  This time, he leaned very close, and said, "You did it again, stop."  Although I was about to deliver this baby, time froze.  I remember thinking, Lord, did he REALLY just tell me to stop?  Do I have control over this, and in the big scheme of everything I've been through today, is he getting embarrassed NOW?

I hope you have figured out what was going on, but I will not say it.  Later I did ask the nurse about it, and she told me it happens to almost everyone.  I just had the husband who felt the need to point it out - and thought it would help if he told me to stop.  I think he eventually got over it, and to hear him tell it is priceless.

So, here we go gearing up for baby #4.  Randy has come a long way in his delivery room game face.  We both want to "see" everything, and we've learned a lot.  The only person I allow in the delivery room is Randy.  I have lots of friends who have several family members in there together, and it's a happy occasion.  Randy knows the mean side of me that can come out, and he can handle it.  I don't know what might come out of my mouth with others in the room, and I would feel terrible if I hurt someone's feelings.  We're a good team, and I am so thankful that he will be there once again to be my coach. 

Gracen came all on her own, ten days early.  That was fun.  No demerol this time, and I was awake for everything.  When Asa came, I only had to push 3 times.  Randy was running around the delivery room turning off monitors and doing anything the nurse said.  She was holding Asa's little head until the doctor could get there.  Randy is ready for anything in the delivery room, and I am so blessed to have him.

I'll leave you with one of my all time favorite delivery room quotes.  My sweet friend Alice was feeling the pain, when she looked at Pat and said, "Oh, Jesus of Lazareth, please help me!"  After he and the doctor had a good laugh, Alice looked at them confused, and Pat said something like, "I think that's Nazareth."  Alice knew Jesus knew exactly what she meant!

I shared with my doctor that I would like to try to let this baby come on its own.  If we have to schedule it, that's fine, but if we could wait, I'd really like to.  My body will not react like this is a fourth consecutive pregnancy, since there are six years in between my last one and this one.  There is something exciting about being ready, and knowing the day is approaching, but not knowing exactly when. 

The coming of a baby reminds me tonight of the coming of the Son of Man.  " But of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, but my Father only." Matt. 24:36 A seed is planted through love, and it begins to grow.  Our faith in Jesus happens this same way.  The baby grows inside the mama's tummy and we are careful to take the most excellent care of our bodies.  As a Christian we start as a babe and grow in God's word so that we can stand on our own and lead others to Christ.  We are expectant for Christ's return to this world, but no one knows when the day will be.  Are you looking forward to that day?  Are you ready for that day?  ..."they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and He will send His angels with a great sound of the trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another." Matt. 24: 30-31  

I want all of my friends to be ready for this day!  My friends have been so great in helping me to get ready for the day I will deliver this baby.  By now, you know that there was an excitement missing when I found out about this pregnancy.  Maybe you are feeling that way about giving your life to Christ.  I want to encourage you that there is nothing more fulfilling than doing just that.  Satan filled my mind with lies about having this baby, and I know he does the same thing when people are getting close to surrendering their lives to Christ.  Please know that if you give your life to Jesus, He gives you 100 times the life back!  There is nothing that you could have done that He can't forgive.  We need Him!  His forgiveness is free, and His blood covers all sin.  All you have to do is receive.  I'm praying for you tonight.  If you want to ask any questions about this, or would like for me to pray specifically for you, message me.



Thursday, August 12, 2010


I've been thinking.  What makes a person have the initial reaction that I did to the news of a pregnancy?  I don't think I have the complete answer, but I think I have part of the answer - for me, anyway.

I was told to go to hospital records, I should find the information I was seeking there.  A friend offered to go with me, but my goodness, I was an adult - if I couldn't do this by myself then should I even be going?  So, I set out on my mission.  I took a turn down a hospital corridor - suddenly something looked familiar, and I was ten years old again.  I had been at this hospital on several occasions.  I had two babies here, but all my time was spent in the new wing.  This wing was old, and for a minute, you couldn't have convinced me that it wasn't 1985.

I shook it off and kept going.  I walked into this office that had files literally from floor to ceiling.  The lady asked what I needed.  I told her my doctor wanted to see the medical records for my mother.  The lady smirked and asked me when she was in the hospital.  I told her that it was in 1985.  She replied, "Well, if she hasn't been back in this hospital since then, we probably don't have them.  Do you know if she's been back here since then?"  She did not want to help me, and it was evident in her tone and her body language.  So, I looked back at her with hot tears in my eyes, and said, "No she hasn't been back, she's dead, and she died in this hospital, so I just figured you would have her medical records here."

The lady did have a heart, and it softened after she saw that I was upset; however, I did not find what I was looking for that day.  I was approaching 30, and I had shared with my doctor about my mom's untimely death at the age of 38.  She had a heart attack due to blocked arteries.  In 1985 doctors didn't know that heart disease was the number one killer of women.  She had been to the doctor on several occasions, but they just didn't think to check her heart.  My doctor said he would like to see her medical records to see if there was anything more we should be doing to be proactive in my own health care.  I had also determined that I would be around to raise my girls.  I was going to do everything in my power to see them into and past adulthood.

This is a story for another blog, but losing my mom was the single-most difficult experience I have ever had.  I knew how much she loved me, and how much she wanted for me.  No child should ever have to lose a parent.  At first I found comfort when people would say, "It was God's plan."  Truly how I feel is it was the absolute opposite of God's plan.  God's plan is life!  My mom's heart was diseased and this is not what God wanted for her.  I  do believe that what Satan means to harm us, God uses for our good.

Fast forward a couple of years to my pregnancy with Asa.  He was born on July 27, 2004.  This was 19 years to the day that my mom died.   "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21  On this day, the Lord turned my mourning to dancing.  No longer would this day be a day of sadness.  He took my mom to be with Him on this day, and in return he gave me this little blessing we call Asa. 

To our surprise, Asa had to go to the NICU, where he stayed for a week.  He was the biggest baby in there, weighing 9 pounds and 14 ounces (and he was a week early!).  The doctors and nurses were excellent.  They asked me a lot about family history, and I shared with them my story - I included the medical records part.  They were truly concerned for me, and they took excellent care of Asa!  During our stay I remember how hard it was on the girls to not be able to stay with us.  This was the first time I decided 3 kids would be enough for us.  If one was sick, it affected the whole family.  Asa was released the next week after he had been treated for pneumonia.  The next week I got an unexpected Fedex delivery.  It was from the Head Nurse of the NICU.  I opened it to find the medical records for Sylvia E. Bearden.

I read the records and cried, not for me this time, but for my step dad.  My little brother was 10 months old when my mom died.  She had been in a coma for over a month before she died.  I couldn't imagine having to make all the decisions that he had to make, and then losing the lady he loved so much.  Once again, I decided I would not do this to the people I loved, so I had to be aware of my health. I know ultimately I don't have complete control over this, but I am determined to take my health seriously, and to do my part.

We celebrated Sydney's 10th birthday this year.  That was my last birthday I got to share with my mom.  We've also reached a huge milestone.  I told Randy, "Sydney has started fifth grade, and I'm here with her!"  He didn't understand the depth to that statement at first, but it is huge to me.  I am praising Jesus for the days he's given me with my children, and for all the days that are to come.  Maybe this explains a little of why my reaction was as it was.  My mom was 36 when she found out she was pregnant, and I am 35. 

I know the Lord will work all things together for His good.  I believe this, but sometimes our past experiences can make us gun-shy.  The truth is we don't have to repeat the past.  The Lord makes all things new.  For me, there are times when I revert back to that hurt little girl. I even see things through her scared little eyes, sometimes.  For a moment, or a month, I may forget that I know more than hurt.  I know life, and life abundantly!  I know laughter and love.  I know blessings upon blessings that the Lord has chosen to give me.  So, why would I have the initial reaction that I did?  I still haven't figured it out completely, but 1985 will always be in the back of my mind.  I have to choose to live in today, and plan for tomorrow.  1985 was a time in my life that would forever change me, but it is not who I am.  I am eternal because my Jesus made a way for me.  He has given me freedom to live.  I just have to choose it daily. 

I'm sure most of you have a 1985.  It may not be a year, or a circumstance like mine.  It is whatever keeps haunting you, that thing that creeps back up and causes you to worry when you know you shouldn't.  If there is anything in your life that is unconfessed sin, take care of it.  The only one Whose forgiveness you need is the only One who hung on a cross and died because He loved YOU so much that He just couldn't live another day if it would mean you would have to die.  He has made a way for you to live forever!  Maybe you're like me and you just let things eat up your joy because of past circumstances that have affected your life.  He conquered our worries on the cross, too.  I have no excuse for my initial reaction except that I was flat out scared to death of what a pregnancy meant for me at my age.  However, I am only human - and so are you.  Let's not waste time beating ourselves up, but just hold on to our freedom that we have in Christ!  The rest we can lay upon Him and just trust that He will see us through!  I'm praying for you, friends!



Monday, August 9, 2010

Still the One

Friends, I know you have been praying for me.  Something so exciting happened THIS morning!  I woke up...and I didn't have the panicky-worry feeling!!!!!!  Woo hooo!  This is huge for me.  So, I had a great night's sleep last night, and when I opened my eyes, I smiled out loud!  I began thinking about Randy, because I didn't even hear him get up for work.  I started praying for him and for the day the Lord had made for him.  I have thrown all kinds of stress balls at him lately.  Bless him.  Every day he comes home and listens to me talk about how I'm going to rearrange our lives within the next year.  That's how I cope.  I plan in my head, and he gets to hear the scary thoughts.  Everyday produces a new plan, or a tweak in an old plan.  He just listens to every crazy thought I have.  Today, I was thankful for that.  He was on my mind when I awoke, and the Holy Spirit prompted me to just be thankful for this blessing that is my husband.

You wanna know our story?  Okay!  I met him the summer after I graduated from high school.  He was the guy one of my friends liked, so I didn't really scope him out upon our first meeting.  There was something very strange about him.  He smiled a lot, but he was QUIET!  Over the next year I started to understand this quiet guy a little more.  A bunch of us used to go to The Church at Brook Hills on Friday nights.  It was awesome to have friends that I could worship with and just talk about my Jesus!  One day the phone rang...and it was Randy!   This was the beginning of a long period of "I don't know if we're dating, or what we are, so just don't ask me."  :)  The first night he bought my dinner, we were at Chili's (still my fav) and I will never forget at some point, he looked me right in the eyes, and said something.  The world froze as my head spun, and I knew those eyes were honest, but if I blinked I might miss this wonderful moment.

We had a long courtship, and finally after about a year, he became my boyfriend.  He lay on the floor tossing a tennis ball up in the air, over and over, while I listened, looking down on him like a cat from my perch on the couch.  He said things that every girl hopes to hear one day.  After this night, I knew he wanted to marry me, but he had only just become my "boyfriend".  We had to take it slow.  The next year was amazing.  I knew that I loved this guy with all that was in me.  I watched him lead worship, and then I experienced the the intimacy of him praying with me.  He would surprise me by showing up at my work, when I had to work late - just so I wouldn't have to walk to my car alone.  When I ran into a little "situation" at work, he showed up, looked a man in the eyes, gave him a very firm handshake, and that little situation was solved.  He was my knight in shining armor - and I am so about the fairy tale!

Through all of this, there was something we had never said to each other.  I know we both felt it, but I was determined I was not going to be the first one to say it.  You see, I did a lot of talking in our relationship, and this was one thing I was going to be told first.  Yes, it's the "L" word.  In June of 1997, the eleventh, to be exact, Randy would turn 32.  He asked if we could please do whatever he wanted.  Of course I obliged.  It  was a Wednesday night, so we went to church at Cathedral of the Cross.  When we got there, we realized the church was being used by another denomination for their Camp Meeting.  We sat close to the front.  The preacher was comparing the church, the Bride of Christ, with a human marriage.  Randy squeezed my hand really hard a few times with a big grin on his face.  I thought he was really getting into this Camp Meeting.  Then, there was a song about God always being on time...Yes, He is...  Again, more squeezing, there may have even been some hand sliding (Randy's excited thing, like trying to start a fire with your hands).  So, he asks me if we can go to the altar and pray together.  I'm all for this, but the altar was a little conjested all the way to our row.  So, we made an altar out of our pew.

He prayed for us, and then he began talking.  "I've wanted to say this for a while, but the Lord kept telling me to wait.  Sometimes, I would think I was gonna burst, but something held me back.Then, tonight, everything was confirmed - from the sermon to the songs.  I know this is when I was supposed to say this to you."  All I could think was, "Jesus, he's gonna say it, he's gonna say it right now, oh my goodness!"  Wait for it..."Ashley, I love you."  There it was, that was it, and it was so worth it...  "...and I want to know if you"ll share the rest of your life with me, will you marry me?"   Holy Camoly, what was that?!  He loves me AND he wants to marry me, all in the same night?!  I was staring at a ring that was perfect.  It is exactly what I would have picked out, but I never told him.  I was able to say, "I love you too, and yes I'll marry you!" 

So, then he looks at me and says, "Don't stop and talk to anyone on the way out, I kind of jumped the gun a little, and I haven't asked your dad yet."  What?!!!!  Was he crazy?  How could he know me so well, and not ask my dad FIRST?!  So, we rush out to the jeep, where there are a dozen red roses waiting on me, and we begin the long drive to my house.  I am planning how we're gonna handle it when we get there, and he's just smiling.  Finally, he listens enough to, I think, understand the plan.  We were to go in, I would ask Beverly to come to my room with me, and he would have time alone with my daddy, and hopefully he would still be alive to marry me.

I love, to this day, to watch my dad reenact me walking in, dog-eying him, and asking Bev to come with me.  I guess that was my look that said, "I'm really scared about what's about to happen, but don't mess it up!"  Beverly comes into my room with almost the same grin that Randy has been wearing.  I begin to ramble on about how he asked me to marry him, and she's just looking at my hand, and grinning.  Finally, her eyes meet mine, and she says, "Ashley, your daddy already knows.  They're playing a little trick on you.  He came over here last night and talked to your daddy and me both."  Daddy knows?  Relief!  They what?!!!!  That gave us all a good laugh after my pulse finally returned to normal. 

We still love to pull pranks, and make each other laugh.  We got married on January 10, 1998.  We put our Lord first, and He has blessed us.  We've had seasons where we weren't each others' favorite person in the world, but I am so thankful that through those times he has never given up on me.  Life is hard.  Situations and circumstances come along and blind-side us.  Jesus has remained faithful to us through everything.  Only because our marriage is grounded on that Solid Rock are we able to be where we are today.  "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." 2 Timothy 2:13  If Christ is in us, we can be assured that He will remain faithful to us - always.

There's the shortest version of our story.  No matter how upset with him I may get, or how frustrated he might make me, Randy is still the one.  Sometimes I have these crazy dreams that somehow I missed Randy, and I'm to be married to some other guy.  There's always this longing that I feel in my dream, and at some point, I will see Randy, and I will scream that I can't marry the other guy.  Even my subconscious knows that my heart belongs to Randy, and it always will.

At times, I lovingly call Randy "Coach".  No matter what it is that I'm going through, he's always a good coach.  When I first started running, he would give me great pointers, and if I listened to him and did what he said, he was right.  He did his best to be my "voice" coach.  When we played co-ed softball, coach.  I am not kidding when I say, trying to figure out how to breastfeed for the first time, he coached me - and it worked!  I have watched him do the same thing for each of our children.  If they listen to what he says, and apply it, it works everytime.  What a blessing this man is to me and to our children.  When we first found out that we were expecting our fourth child, the first positive thing that came out of my mouth was, "You're a good daddy."  So, maybe the Lord needed this baby to have a good daddy, and it needs Randy.

There are days when I am such an ungrateful wife.  I don't want to be, but it happens.  Tonight, I'm praying for marriages.  How is yours?  I'm praying that you will remember.  Go back to the time when you couldn't get enough of your spouse.  What attracted you to him/her?  Know that the person you fell in love with is still there.  Find that person!  Jesus, I ask in your name that You will restore and renew marriages.  Remind us of who we fell in love with.  Repair those things that have broken us, and help us to build each other up.  Help us to find one thing today that we are thankful for in our spouse.  Then, help us to tell our spouse.  Let us embrace our spouses, look them in the eye, and tell them why we love them.  For those who are not yet married, I pray that you would sustain them in their waiting, and bring them the desire of Your heart.  I thank you now for the miracles of tomorrow.



Friday, August 6, 2010


My friend Jennifer and I went to a movie together, and I think this was the first time I let the thought cross my mind that I could possibly be pregnant.  I mentioned to her that I was expecting my monthly visitor and on this night, she was about a day late.  I think I said, "What if I was pregnant?"  Jenn replied with, "Then...that would be fun!"  We laughed a nervous laugh, looking at each other with big eyes, then went on to solve all the world's problems before our movie started.  We didn't say another word about the "what-if".

Randy and I found out on a Sunday night, July 4th, actually.  The next day I had tentative plans to hang out with Jennifer.  I could barely sleep that night, and as Randy left for work I was sitting on the couch.  Jenn called about three hours later, and I was still sitting on the couch.  When I answered, she thought I was asleep.  (My kids were visiting their grandparents.)  We were planning on going to Zumba at the YMCA that morning.  She asked if I still wanted to go, and I burst into tears and sobs as I said, "I don't think I can go to Zumba today, because I'm pregnant!"

I thank the Lord for the friends He has put in my life, and on that morning I knew the Lord gave me that phone call.  Jennifer encouraged me, but she knew where I was with this.  She has seen me through all of my pregnancies, and she understood immediately that I was not dealing with this in the same way I dealt with any of the others.  She loved me through this, and I will forever be grateful to her for just loving me.  I have many close friends, but I was not ready to talk about it.  It was all because of Zumba that Jenn got to enter my emotional pregnant world.

By the end of the week  all of my close friends and family had heard our news. The reactions we received were amazingly encouraging!  This was the best way to love on us, and we are so thankful to all of you who have given us support through this.  I was given the okay by my doctor to continue with my exercise regimen, but I still had no energy.  I walked around the track because I didn't feel like jogging.  I thought about going to Zumba, but just thinking about it made me tired.

As the weeks went on my emotions kept getting better.  When I say just thinking about being pregnant would cause shear panic, it is really an understatement.  I began praying for peace, daily.  I would wake up in the mornings and my mind would go straight to an issue I could worry about.  My morning ritual is when my eyes open, I pray, "Lord, help me trust you today."  My friend Michelle told me when I couldn't sleep to sing in my head "Praise God" to the tune of "Amazing Grace".  This has also become a routine which leads to me just praising Him for all He's done in my life, and all that He will continue to do.

So, for the whole month of July I missed going to Zumba.  I decided I was going to go tonight.  I think Randy even got a little excited for me.  On the way there I was thinking how tired I was, and I prayed that the Lord would give me the strength to last through the hour.  I walked in, found a place, and began chatting with a friend.  The music started, and my body started moving.  It remembered everything!  Praise Jesus, I did last for the hour!!!!  I felt a little different, and I didn't go "all out"  like I usually do, but I moved, and sweated, and it felt great!

After taking prayer requests at the end, Kristen said she felt the Lord was laying something on her heart to share.  I heard it something like this..."Jesus is peace, and He wants you to have it.  We search for joy in so many different places, and sometimes we can grow weary.  We look to relationships, exercise, etc. to fulfill us, but it is only Him who can truly give us what we need.  Whatever your need, let Him give you the peace that you need."  At that moment I knew I was where I was supposed to be on this Thursday night.  I felt so much love in the room and this feeling of ultra calm assurance that Jesus hears me.  He knows me,  He is not going to leave me, and He wants good things for me because I am His child.  That was an awesome place to be.

My Jesus knows how much I love this form of exercise called Zumba.  Jennifer had been asking me to go with her for a long time, then one night I went with a friend to Northpark to this small room with about 30 ladies.  Kristen was instructing, and she was a little ball of fire, full of encouragement.  This was a little over a year ago, and I can honestly say there is no form of exercise that I love more than this.  The Lord knows my heart, and He placed a love of dance deep down in me.  When I am alone, sometimes I turn on praise music, and just dance for Him.  It is a form of worship for me.  I believe the Lord places a gift in us, and when we use it to praise Him, we are doing what He created us to do.  Also, I think it makes Him smile.

So, what is it that you just love to do?  Colossians 3:17 tells us, "Whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all unto the glory of the Lord, giving thanks to the Father through Jesus Christ."  I am not a professional dancer, but He knows my heart, and He knows that I love it.  Give Him what you've got, and He will give you His peace in return.  Whatever He's given you, whatever you're good at, whatever you just really enjoy doing, just do the glory of the Lord.  I believe He will give you the desires of your heart.  I'm praying for peace in the lives of all who read this. 


Friday, July 30, 2010

Morrison, family of ...what?!

I cried as if someone told me there had been a death.  I stood looking at Randy, and I felt like a punch had been thrown, and before I could recover from that one, another came, and another.  These punches were my thoughts and their affect on my mind was crippling.  I had just been defeated.  So, I did all I could do in that moment to feel any kind of triumph.  I took the positive pregnancy test, flipped the lid on the trash can, and threw the test as hard as I could.

How could I be so unappreciative of a blessing, a miracle, a life that the Lord decided to give?  It is simple.  I thought my plans were given to me by the Lord.  I had been praying for a year fervently about our future.  I was coming to a point in my life where I was about to be able to do things I had put on the back burner for a long time.  This included contributing more to the family finances after being able to be a mom who was always available to her children.  My youngest is going to school full time this year, and Mama was going back to school to be ready by the next school year to put in applications for the job I spent four years of college to be able to do.  For me all that changed with a tiny little plus sign.

I cried and could do nothing for two days.  I had no energy because I couldn't eat.  I really was in mourning.  I was mourning all that I thought "Ashley" was and would be.  In thinking about our family, nothing in me wanted, or thought we needed, a fourth child.  What was worse than that, for me, was thinking I was walking in the plans the Lord had for me, and feeling like at this moment the Lord was nowhere near those plans - and how did I miss the day the Lord took a turn that I didn't follow?  Proverbs 16:9 tells me that a man's (or woman's) heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  So, now I see that He didn't leave me, and how could I have seen this coming when I never allowed myself to consider it a possibility?  Also, I believe those plans He and I were making just might still happen.  Then there's the whole fact that sometimes, just like we parents, our Heavenly Father just might like to surprise us.  If my children ever reacted to a surprise I'd given them in the way that I reacted to my Father, I'd be sad.  That's what's precious in all this.  God didn't get mad at me.  He opened His arms, let me crawl up in His lap, and He held me lovingly as I cried my heart out.

What it boils down to is, He is Eloi - the God who knows me.  He knows me, and He loves me anyway.  He knew my heart would need to grieve, and He knows every emotion I will experience with this pregnancy.  I can honestly say I've never felt this way at the beginning of any of my pregnancies.  This baby will be loved by so many, including his/her Mama!  The journey will just be unique, and it will only make us appreciate more.  Everyday now I ask the Lord to give me enough strength to trust Him completely, today.   My Jesus has never let me down, and He has never left me alone.

I don't know if you can relate to this at all, but I'm sure each of you have gone through a difficult time in your life.  I encourage you, as I am still walking out my journey of faith, to let Jesus love you.  Even if you have to yell, scream, or cry, He won't judge you.  He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, AND He tells us that His plans are for our good - not to harm us!  I'm praying now for those of you who may read this, and I am asking Jesus to meet you where you are today, and I am expectant for what He will do in you!