Thursday, June 28, 2012

whilst drying my hair this morning, the thought crossed my mind that I haven't read the good women project in a good long while. I'm fairly certain that thought was divinely inspired. the current topic they are tackling is close to my heart right now, and I quickly stumbled upon two articles I needed to read...
I'm done running and 10 things I learned about burnout and missing out.

I love it when God uses his followers -- even ones I have never met -- to encourage and teach me.

happy thursday!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ruth, boaz and a sprig of adventure

so...I'm doing this beyond awesome study of the book of ruth by miss kelly minter. if you haven't ever  done a study by her (like me before this one!), I highly recommend it. I'd try to explain why it's so awesome, but I'm not sure I can capture it, so just trust me. kelly. pretty fab.

know what else is pretty fab? the book of ruth. in studying the past week, I came across a few points that were quite convicting, exciting and scary at all the same time. kelly is discussing two characters in ruth who do not steal the show. if this were a television episode, they'd be "also featured" in the subtitles or maybe even unnamed as "boy 1" or "waitress 3". actually, one of these characters really isn't given a name! kelly is talking about orpah and the other possible kinsman redeemer for ruth.

these two characters do absolutely nothing wrong in this story. in fact, their actions are very similar to what I probably would have done in the situations they were in. one (orpah) was trying to be dedicated to her stepmother (naomi), but after much persuasion on naomi's part, orpah decided to stay in Moab (her home, by the way). the other (bachelor number 2, or other possible kinsman redeemer if you will), made the decision not to take on another wife and all the implications that would come with that for his family. he wasn't obligated to marry ruth, and another man was offering to do it if he did not, so he did not.

these both seem like logical, normal decisions to me. decisions I could easily make. decisions I could easily be talked into by friends or family if the scenarios were true for my own life (and if polygamy and all that jazz was really still around...don't even bring up sister wives...).

but yet, as kelly points out, these two are not the ones that the story is about. these are not the ones who are famous in the Bible, or used as examples of God's love and devotion to us. instead, ruth and boaz are the ones who did the unlikely and the unnatural or illogical. and the story is all about them.

to steal kelly's line -- they chose sacrifice and love, while the others chose safety.

yow. that stings a bit. and sounds a bit too familiar.

kelly goes on to discuss the three qualifications for a kinsman redeemer: they had to be near kin, able to redeem, and willing to redeem. (if you're not familiar with what a kinsman redeemer is, don't worry, I wasn't either. once again, I highly recommend kelly's study. or you could find it in the Bible. or google).

 the point is...the other possible redeemer had the first two qualities, but was not willing. and I wonder if that's a large problem in my own life. am I near people I could be helping? am I able to help them? to give them what they need? the answer to both of these is most likely yes. the third? well...that one is a little more tricky. kelly discusses this issue:

And isn't it this third element that often ends up being our downfall? We're able, but so often we're just not willing. This may be one of the most tragic ways for a Christian to spend her life: in the right place with all the right resources but without a willing heart.

she goes on later in the study (on the same day, was a rough, convicting day) to say this...

I used to be afraid of dedicating my life to the Lord, certain that He would seize this small window of opportunity to make my life extraordinarily hard...But I am more convinced than ever that it is not yielding my life to the Lord that is the truly awful and frightful place. I long to live the full, adventurous, and impacting life that God desires for me to live.

I, too, long for this. reading this reminded me of old desires and a passion was stirred. I pray that God would make me willing. I pray He'd show me how he can use me. how He wants to use me. if I would only be willing.

I pray for the courage to not choose the logical or normal. to not fear man. but to fear God. and to be willing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

sometimes I wonder how other adults seemingly have their lives figured out and how they function so maturely. sometimes I wonder how people who are my age can be married, in stable careers, and have children. sometimes I feel I can barely handle the responsibility to keep myself and a cat alive, let alone being responsible for other people. and sometimes I just really feel like I'm still in junior high, feeling uncool and the last kid chosen for dodgeball.

do you ever have times where you are so aware of your humanity? all your insecurities and past struggles surface, or you feel like everything you touch goes to ruin?

I was recently with some of my favorite friends, and whilst sitting and chatting, one girl paid me a compliment. it was something simple -- she stated she liked my hair color (it's a smidge darker than it used to be). I, in turn, rambled on about how I had dyed it, so it wouldn't last this way for long, and that of course it would wash out because I am afraid of commitment after all. upon finishing this little rant, my friend stared at me and said "I forgot ashley can't take compliments". boom.

we laughed about this comment and I have since come to realize it's true. and also, that when someone pays me a compliment, I tend to doubt its truthfulness or sincerity.

I'm not sure where this insecurity comes from, but I've recently realized it's still there -- just as real as junior high. I thought it was one of those things that would dissipate with age, a college degree, a good job. and I wonder how many other "adults" still struggle. how many other adults feel left out or undesirable or uncool, even when they're 40 or 50 or 60.

and this makes me all the more sure that security and value can never come from anything we obtain in this world. it can only come from our Creator. only comes from the love of our Savior. and it's a lesson that just might take a lifetime to learn, but it is truth.

things I'm thankful for: loving parents, the fact that I don't wonder where my next meal is coming from, sweat pants.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

do nothing...

do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. - philippians 2: 3

I have a tendency to strive for things. things that fuel my pride. I want to perform well so people will notice and say, hey, ashley is pretty darn good at xyz. I want a good job/career so people will know I am smart. established. respected. I want people to like me.

it's all a cycle that boils down to pride. and fearing man.

and it keeps coming up lately -- the idea of loving others. the idea that I must put others before myself. and what that really means. because what it really means isn't just church. isn't just helping with a few community service projects. I think what it really means is stepping outside my comfort zone. in daily life, doing things that aren't what I necessarily feel like doing. changing my comfortable, normal routine and lowering myself. I am nothing. not in a "I have low self-esteem way", but in a "compared to the entire world and my significance" way. if any spotlight is on me in my life, then it is not on Christ - for others to see, but even for me to see and realize.

the above verse is a hard verse for me to swallow. really? do NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain conceit? nothinggg? sheesh. you drive a hard bargain, Lord.

ps - I am thankful for: the fact that Jesus never stops pursuing us, even when we have failed numerous times. that I have friends who fist pump for Jesus. that the King of the universe wants a relationship with me.