Monday, November 28, 2011

My Favorite Thing About You

There are millions of things - big and small - that I love about You, but for the first time, I think I picked my favorite.

I have vivid memories of begging my dad to flex his muscles. I just needed a little-girl visual of how strong my daddy really was. I needed to know that he could protect me. I wanted to see that his muscles, in comparison to mine, were big and strong and would protect me. I had to feel like he was going to be able to save me if I ever I needed.

Father, I love your muscles. Your strength is what I rely on from day to day. I do not know how I would function if I didn't know that Your strength was backing me up.

For the first time I realized what I would be without You infinite power.

Nothing. Literally nothing.

Hallelujah! There is someone stronger than me. You have been there to wipe every tear off my face, whether I felt You do it or not. You were the one who strengthened me and You did not even punish me for forgetting to give You credit. You enabled me when I was incapable. You stood me up when I was slumping. You lifted my chin when I couldn't take my eyes off the floor. You showed me light when all I saw was darkness. You found me when I ran away. You held my hand when I was scared. You healed my heart when it was broken. You comforted me when I was lonely. You guided me when I strayed from the path.
You. You. You.

You give me purpose when I have no hope. 

Father, people on earth fail me. My earthly father's muscles ended up not being as strong as I thought they were. My muscles aren't as strong as I thought they could be. Not one person has strength. I don't. I'm weak, helpless and hopeless without you. An infant cannot feed or clothe or even move himself without his parent's hand. I am as an infant, helpless in the face of danger.

Without You I cannot do anything. 

Forgive me for my wanderings. I have turned to other sources to view their strength and see if they could protect me and take care of me. I have wasted precious time that I could have spent with You, with other people and things. They have grabbed my attention and played with my heart. Their muscles were impressive for a time, but I finally realized that they didn't hold a candle to the protection You offer. They couldn't compare to the sence of security I have in Your arms. In Your arms, I am not afraid. In Your arms, I know that no one can lay a hand on me. In Your arms, I'm complete, happy and free. The peace that I have in Your arms is something many people only dream about. 

Why did I ever look anywhere else? 

Hold me, Daddy. Show me Your muscles. Engulf me with Your strength today, tomorrow and forever. I never want to leave. Don't let me leave, Daddy. I need You. 

"One life, thats all I am. Right now I can barely stand. If You're everything You say You are. Won't You come close and hold my heart?" - Tenth Avenue North

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Today, I'm Thankful...

...for my computer. Really. I'm so glad that I can log onto Blogger and share with you guys. This little baby takes all my information and is a text book and resource.

...for a job. Yes, it is really a blessing to have a job. Its scares me how many people don't have one now-a-days.

...for my sister and mom. They make my world a whole lot special-er. I seriously don't know what I would do without them, even though they irritate me to death at times.

...for Carlee's swollen face and the way it made me laugh today. Also, for her good attitude when I laughed at her.

...for my bed. 'Nuff said.

...for a really good English Professor. She is so epic; I'm eternally spoiled to amazing professors now.

...for turkey even though it caaan be a little bit dry and over-rated. (I prefer ham.)

...for a body that does an EXTREMELY good job fighting off sickness. I seriously have almost gotten sick a few times, then fought it off. Way to go, White Blood Cells!

...for singing voices.

...for Christmas time! I love this holiday season.

...for the opportunity to be educated. I take the fact that I go to classes and learn and get letters from colleges so flippantly. What a serious blessing this is! I forget that...

...for challenges. Though hard, I can't imagine a life without them.

...for my friend, Iain, and his continuous ability to make my day. Don't you love it when certain people make your day by saying or doing the smallest thing? It's like God says, "Hey, she/he needs a pick-me-up!" then sends someone your way.

...for pain. It really lets you know when you are doing something wrong. Like right now, as I'm sitting in a bad position, my neck is screaming. I should probably move.

...for movement. What would it be like if you couldn't move? All you could do was sit and calmly/creepishly stare at a beige patch on the wall? *shiver*

...for music.

...for the Bible. I am really thankful that God has given me good examples to look to in the Bible. For instance, Gideon. I like him. He has no faith and is kinda a scaredy-cat at the beginning...then, he kinda toughens up. Yeah, Gideon gives me hope.

...for food in the pantry. Yes, the fact that I can eat when I'm hungry is a sure sign of blessing. Daily food essentials are lacking in so many people's lives. You know, I think its easy to think, "we are poor!" but if you can walk into your kitchen and eat something or go drive to the store, then you are richer than a lot of people in the world. Praise him.

...for sympathy. I can't imagine a world with no sympathy. What if no one felt sympathy for me? Or I didn't feel it for anyone else? Or worse, if God didn't feel it for us? The fact that we sympathize with each other spurs people to do good deeds and love. This is a good thing.

...for my family. Gosh, we are a huge and dysfunctional family, but I seriously love everyone in it. With all my heart.

..for Bill Cosby who makes me laugh a LOT!

...for generous hearts.

...for scent. Especially that found on people. ( I don't me BO.) Like, you know how you smell something and it reminds you of someone? That. It's comforting. I think it is totally awesome how God has set up our five senses.

...for the random woman in the drive through who yelled while I was on headset. I was saying "Thank you for choosing Chick-fil-A. This is Ashley. How can I -" and she said, "Shut up!" really loud. Come to find out she wasn't talking to me, but oh my word...did I laugh? Yes, very hard.

...for a God who sees, cares, and understands my every need and want; spiritually, emotionally, physically and physiologically. 

Now, for something I'm NOT thankful for. High fructose corn syrup. *grumble*

 Psalm 30:11-12 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; Thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness; That [my] soul may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to Thee forever.

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Looking Heavenward: To Every Broken Girl, Abused Daughter, and Hurt Mother. . .Forgive Me

A post by my "cuz," Miguel, drew my attention the other day; it was a heart-felt, difficult post. He is a friend, and a fellow blogger whom I respect. I am overjoyed that God is burdening the hearts of young men for Godly manhood and leadership. Hopefully God will raise him and others up to be Biblical men whose passion is Christ and His Kingdom. Check out his blog, Looking Heavenward, or click here for a direct post link.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Trials Bring the Real Me Out

The Pastor at First Baptist Hartsville gave a really great analogy of trials. He said they are sent to show us what is really on our inside. He asked, "If I had a cup of Dr. Pepper and someone bumped me to where liquid spilled out of the cup, what do you think would come out? Milk? Coke?" (my paraphrase) Then, he went on to show how trials are a lot like that. When we hit bumps in life, the "real us" comes out. It is going to show whats in our hearts. Faith? Love? Bitterness? Impatience?

I think this is a great question and I've been pondering it a lot lately. When trials come, what comes out of me? Is Christ's love the overflow of my heart or do trials turn over rocks of doubt in my spirit?

I know that everyone has heard this verse, but I believe its feels different under the light of this analogy.

James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Trials make us perfect and complete. They are going to sharpen and polish us to make us look more and more like our model and our hero, Jesus Christ. That makes me excited. Very. I want to be like Jesus and if trials are what it takes to get me there. Then, let's go.

And, it's really easy for me to say this but much harder to live it. So the real question is "Can I walk the talk?" When I face trials is all my talk about "being like Christ" going to go down the drain and the real, ugly side of myself pour forth? Or am I going to be molded a little more like Jesus?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Do All Men Leave?

I talked with my sister and my heart broke. She said, "I've really developed a dis-trust for men.They all leave." Really, almost every man in her life has left, broken her heart, not cared, been abusive, and trampled her. Mostly, they left and didn't care. When she said that, it hit a certain nerve in my heart and I shuddered.

To an extent, I have the same testimony. I can't point to a man in my family that hasn't left, abused, controlled, or really and truly cared. Why is this? Why have men lost the value of selfless love and devotion and value women and children for what they are?

The question I'm grappling with today - even though I know the truth - is "Do all men leave?"  Just being 100% real with you guys, her statement revealed a little, lurking fear that I think I've had for a very, very long time. Sometimes, I think I'm a stickler when it comes to love and sometimes build a wall with people...maybe this is fear? I don't know...

Mentally, I know that there are good, decent, God-fearing men out there. But where are they? Why aren't they in my family? If they are out there, why am I not seeing the testimonies of their love for God lived out before me?

Ya'll, I really can say that I can't see this. Sure, I know there are great men of leadership and even those of you trying to be an example online and doing a great job, but I'm talking about people I daily encounter in my life. I don't know these people. And if I do, I don't realize they are special men of devotion...and that should be seen as a problem.

I'm not talking so much about teenagers - although this is where manhood and love for God must start. I am to an extent, but I'm more talking about adults, fathers and husbands. No one loves like they have been commanded to do anymore. I'm not trying to be harsh on guys. I know God is working in some men, I just haven't been given an opportunity to see this work. This is why I'm sad and hurting for the men in our world.

Now, to the age-group this blog targets: you guys, please, please, please be the type of men that no young woman is ever going to have to question. Don't ever give a young lady reason to doubt your love, your devotion to God, your commitment or anything else. I don't know if you know this, but woman need security. When a man leaves them or hurts them (physically or emotionally) or doesn't care about them, it turns their world's upside-down.

Don't be another man that just. . .left.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What, Oh What, Should I Do?

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth, I've just been busy. Really busy.

I'm going to write a ridiculously sappy post. Because I am sad and feel like venting to my readers. Sometimes, you all are the easiest people to talk to. Heh.

I was scheduled to go to Union University for a campus visit and tour this coming Friday. Just now, I emailed them before the deadline to inform them that I wasn't coming (there are several reasons which I won't get into now...perhaps I'll save that for another post). Pathetically, I was bawling while doing so. 

The prospect of yet another year at home faces me. Honestly, the thought makes me sick. The very, very last thing I want to do is stay home. . .again. About a month ago, I wrote about how change is terrifying. Now, I write about how the fact that things may not change is even more nightmare-ish.

Guys, I'm overwhelmed. Mentally overwhelmed. Dilemmas are flying at me faster than I can think and I'm making blind decisions. I've never been one to not think things all the way through, but suddenly I've found myself in a situation where not everything can be thought 100% through before making a decision and. . . its making me quite uncomfortable.

Basically, to enlighten yall, I'm considering staying at VolState for a year. This is not something I want to do. AT ALL! But, the financial situation in my family is not really stable enough to get an averagely smart teen through 6 years of college without a boat load of debt. This is not ideal. Therefore, I may choose to go to VolState.

Sometimes, I tell myself not to worry about the financial and just do whatever I want to do, but really? How many times in life do financial situations "work themselves out?" I want to go to Union. That is where I want to be, but how? That's the question.

I cannot possibly draw a picture for you guys of how much I DON'T want to stay home. I'm already a fifth year senior; I should be in college right now. There are so many dramatic family issues that I'm too ready to rid myself of. I'm stir crazy. I'm going nuts staying here! Maybe it's because I've always had big dreams. I'm the type of gal who likes adventure, unfamiliar settings, and challenges. They don't scare me, in fact, I crave them. I think I purposely do things to put myself in these situations.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not dying to get out so I can be rebellious. That is absolutely not the case. It's just . . . just. . .a change. Is this bad that I feel this way? Is it bad that I want to find new people, new places, and new hobbies?   

Maybe this is a test of my faith. God is seeing if I really trust Him to lead me. I do trust Him, but still . . .I'm the one going through the agony of decisions. Sometimes, it would be really great if He wrote on the wall.

So, these are my basic options.
-VolState. I will probably be scholarshiped. But, same-o, boring VolState. The college that is determined to crush my high hopes and dreams.
- Union. Could flirt with debt and will have to transfer after two years anyhow.  But, will give me just a little...tiny...bit of that wonderful freedom....
- Something else. Who knows? The possibilities are endless.

Please remember me in your prayers. I really am at a loss. I couldn't possibly be more confused and upset than I am now.