Monday, October 27, 2008

i know is true.

some things in my life i know to be true just because i know, without fail, that they'll happen, or exist, because they always have.

maddie dog will beg every time i eat popcorn (or anything for that matter).
and she'll poot because she's so excited about the prospect of food. and then todd will scrunch his nose and say that we just HAVE to do something about that. the pooting. but we never do. mainly because we can't.
frankie dog will say hello for a few minutes but will inevitably go and put herself to bed where she burrows her nose under her feet and only peeks her eyes up when you walk in the room - probably to make sure she isn't missing out on any food opportunity. our dogs love food. carrots in particular.
todd will always love playing guitar, listening to music i consider weird, like wearing hats, "forget" to brush his teeth on the weekend, and say he loves every meal i cook.
my mom will always love snuggling up in her flannel jammies. she'll always love hot tamale candies, a good sappy love story, hot chocolate (ok, anything chocolate), and laughing.
so you get the picture.
i think blogs are better with pictures to fill in the imaginery blanks but i don't have time for that tonight.
but i went running tonight and i thought - i will always love this. the feeling of running. and then breathing in cold air. i will always love the relaxed feeling that comes over me after a workout. i'll always love popcorn, chocolate, a good laugh, hugs from my mom, snuggles with my doggies, giggles from my baby and my husband's smile.
but something comes between me and all of this sweetness. at times it's just sadness. or a sense of being overwhelmed or tired or stressed or even anxiety.
and this is what i know to be true.
when i doubt, when i'm down, when i feel like it won't get better or i won't pull out of this funk...there is one who does. Jesus tells us to bring all sin to light. so if i go to him and confess where i'm struggling, i'm free. right. i'm free already because of my salvation. but there are times, it's true, where we get bogged down simply by living in the world. and so the truth of it all is that Jesus came to set us free. so that no longer would we be captives, but redeemed. so that even when the world says to give up, to walk away, to argue your point or satnd firm because you HAVE to be right. Jesus says to love. this i know to be true. it is. a friend reminded me of this tonight. she said, 'understanding God's word is the easy part. loving is the hard part.'
i know the cause and effect of things happening in this world and in the community around me. i see it and i get it.
but what i think we forget as a whole, as God's body of belivers - as his church - is that the greatest truth we have to offer in reflection of Jesus is his love. we are vessels of his love.

i'll always know that i'll love loralai. i know there won't be day that i'll look into her eyes and be completely thankful that God let me birth her. and as i stand in the kitchen and sing praises to God while she eats her carrots, i see a little smirk come across her face. and then her hands raise. it's true. maybe she's waving - she likes to do that. or maybe, maybe she's copying my hands that are lifted up. and maybe she's seeing me excited about the love i'm sharing for our God. and maybe in a few years, her hands lifted up won't be in reflection of her mama's but in praise of her Jesus.

for the glory of God, he made life. and in my life he has shown me his love in form of my family. and when i'm old and gray (ok, grayER), i want loralai (and our other baby(ies)) to be able to make a list of things they know to be true. and somewhere in the mix of their list, i hope it says something like 'and i know my mama and daddy will always love jesus. and i know that jesus loves me because the first time i saw my mama dancing for joy in the presence of jesus, i KNEW he must be real. cause for what other cause would a woman dance so crazily?' ...or something like that.

the power of the truth of the gospel lives in those who believe. and what a privelege it is to get to share that love, that truth, with our family. with our babies.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


so far, this face never fails to make my day. and no, that's not bedhead. it's just how her hair flies all by itself.

does it get much sweeter than this? maddie and loralai.
i love this picture. mmmm mmm.
we had a really full weekend. or week. we celebrated our anniversary last wednesday by stuffing ourselves with food. date nights are fun but when you eat too much - umm, yuck. but it was nice to have adult conversation.
on friday, i visited a friend who has a little one who is three months older than loralai. to see them together is hilarious. they stare at each other, pat each other's hair, pull hair, chase each other, watch the other's newest skills (and learn. man how loralai takes tips from her buddies.) and just have so much fun. it's the best. and it was so nice to just get to be with rachel for a while. i love being with my friends who have kids - it's like the babies babble the same language and so do we.

faith was hilarious. and loralai was teething - so this ball posed a little chewing problem.
and then...they found the door stopper thing. poot noises galore. even at their age it was funny.

on saturday, one of my oldest friends (i guess since we were 9 or 10) came to visit with her little boy, jonah. jonah had a bit of a rough start during his first few weeks of life. so to see him was to see God. not that you don't get to see God in all things, but it's just special to see a little guy who fought hard and you just knew that God was answering all our prayers. jonah is precious, has the prettiest eyes and is working super hard on pushing up to crawl.

hi jonah, hi. :)

kelly and jonah with me and loralai.

on sunday, we went to my friend hilary's house. kids, football, food - what more could a day hold? ok football - i could give or take. but being with friends, their kids, and food - well now that's a pretty good day. the house was FILLED with kids and most of them hung out in hilary's daughter's bedroom. wheew. i know hilary was glad when the craziness subsided. i think there were about 10 babes there at one time.

the three little ones: reese, brooke and loralai. the rest were running around. literally.

and then...the work week began again. it's always bittersweet when todd has to go back to work after a fun weekend together. loralai loves having him here. it's the best feeling to see your baby crawl with quick baby speed towards her daddy.

and she's up to new tricks. she's talking early. oh boy. she's saying mama (ma ma - especially when she's grumpy and wants to be held - or wants her lunch or dinner), daddy (da da - sparingly but we've caught it a few times), boom boom (bmmm bmmm - she lies on her back and kicks her feet to the floor and i always say boom boom - so now she's starting to say it just for fun.), and her best word is bye bye (bah baaayyyee - coupled with some serious waving), and this morning we realized that she was telling us "more" through sign language. that was something we started when she was about 3 or 4 months and she's starting to get it. it's all so fascinating - the developmental stuff. i love watching her watch my mouth and try to say book when i say it. it's just awesome.

aaah love. sweet baby love.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

i do. and i did. on oct. 8th.

i wish i could remember the day. i think it was june 8th or 10th. maybe. either way, it happened on sanibel island, florida. and it was june. i know that. and it was 2006. and it was raining a good bit of the time we were there. we went there to visit todd's grandmother; only he had other things in mind: like getting hitched. and as we walked out onto the beach to watch the sunset, he did it. he got down on one knee. and i panicked. it was like i couldn't breathe and wanted to cry. but i still said yes. i think that moment is an overwhelming moment. i can't imagine the amount of nerve it takes to ask a woman to be a man's wife - but at least you guys have MONTHS to ponder this. we have only seconds to respond. ;)

it was perfect. wonderful. the sky exploded and a sunset displayed itself before us in a heavenly sight. it was glorious. and we were on top of the world.

we made our way back to north carolina where we started planning our wedding. it was both fun and completely insane. we loved planning our life together, i had fun finding a gown and taking pictures and just feeling totally girly. and todd had fun (ha) preparing his house (his bachelor pad) for a woman.

and when october 8th finally came, we were ready. or as ready as you can be. because let's face it, nothing can truly prepare you for marriage. it's completely a leap of faith. you don't know what it's like to share your money, your time, your love, your desires, your trust, your life, your everything...until you've said i do. i love that it's a leap of faith. it means that there's more to our marriage than just us. there's God. and he's at the center of it all. if he wasn't, we would both demand our own ways and expect our lives to revolve around what we want. i love that todd leaps in faith with jesus and that i leap in faith with jesus. it stings when we fall, but we fall together and we stand together.

i love my todd. i love how when he smiles, he has laugh lines and his eyes squint. i love his brown eyes. i love his beautiful smile. it gets me every time. i love how he makes me laugh; cause he can make me laugh harder than anyone else. i love how he wants to love me better all the time and he tries hard doing it. i love how he loves jesus. i love how he wants to love me forever. i love how talented he is musically. i love my todd.

and i love that i got to marry him. and i love that i get to think about how perfectly happy our wedding day was, today, every year for the rest of our lives. because it was. every person who was at our wedding made our day richer; they make our lives richer. it was an indescribable feeling, while saying our vows, knowing that we were entering a covenant before God. God who knew we would do this before he even created us. it was overwhelming, that day, picturing the view from heaven. i imagined the angels seeing the light of Jesus illuminate on all of those saved. i imagined Jesus standing with Mark as we said our vows and i imagined the angels cheering when they welcomed us as One. and as Matt sang grace greater, i was (and still am) certain that i heard an angel singing with him. and as we danced and celebrated and smiled the night away, i remember never wanting that feeling to end: joy.

and while happy times come and go and there is a definite ebb and flow of marriage, joy is always constant. it encompasses all because joy is Jesus.

i love you toddy. you are my precious, sweet, silly, tender, God fearing, guitar playing, harmonica honking, delight in the sight of the Creator, husband of mine.

and even better. even sweeter. thank you Jesus for putting it on our hearts to marry so quickly after our engagement. if we hadn't, my dad wouldn't have been alive for our wedding. he wouldn't have gotten to hear me go on and on about my todd. he wouldn't have gotten to share in our excitement. i wouldn't have gotten to witness to him with such fierceness, fear and delight. and we wouldn't have conceived our precious loralai. because in the beginning, we were going to wait until the following spring or summer to marry. and that...that wasn't the right timing. but God's, oh ya'll, God's timing was perfect. and IS perfect. HOLY IS THE LORD!!!

i love you todd.

our beautiful sanibel island sunset
i love this picture. it makes my heart so happy. i said yes!
and then i got to take these fun pictures
even as a grown up girl, playing dress up was the best!

being at my brother's side walking down the aisle...

...was the safest feeling ever.

and the look on this guy's face is priceless. and funny.

and we said i do. oh what a day!

what a happy happy day!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

i am weak and he is strong.

have you ever had a week where God just worked you? you had friends coming at you with questions and God led you to scripture. specific scripture. and then you met a stranger, and God brought that same scripture to mind. not something regular or easy to share; something a little more. (not that there's anything regular about God). this was my week.

a friend is struggling with a best friend who is battling addiction with alcohol. another friend was confused why they're struggling with finances. and todd and i met someone today who instantly brought this scripture to life.

usually it's just me who talks to homeless people. but this time todd did. and he was going to give him just a few dollars from his wallet when i think we both knew that God wanted us to give him everything we had. it was only $10 but we gave it all. but something that i think surprised us both was when we drove away we told him something in the same tone that we would have if we were driving down the driveway away from one of our parents. we said, "i love you." and our friend replied back naturally, "i love you, too."

where does love like that come from? only Jesus.

it's true. it's only Jesus that exudes real love from mouths that just sinned seconds before. it's only Jesus who moves you to tears when you realize that you're blessed beyond measure. it's only Jesus who puts truth in your heart and helps you forgive when you've been sinned against. it's only Jesus who helps you beg for mercy when you feel lost. it's only Jesus who collides two worlds so that we can fully understand that in our weakness, he is the only strength we need.

do you understand? we're all the same. it's not the people that are bad but the sin. it's the sin that's bad.

i know some of you that read my blog aren't Christians and so when i write, i think about you and i know that you don't receive all that i'm saying as truth. but please know that i don't ever write to condemn you or to even convince you of the truth of Jesus. i do, however, want to just simply thank you for reading.

and i find myself desperate. i'm desperate for salvation for ones that are lost. i'm desperate for answers for those that have gone astray. i'm desperate for love to overflow for those that feel alone. and then God reminds me three times: my grace is sufficient, ashley. my power is made perfect in weakness. ...when your friend is in need, really in need and broken, it's then that they'll recall my name and call out to me. but it's only then, when they're truly broken, that they'll be able to receive me. because then, in their brokeness, they're finally humble enough to let me help. and remember, ashley, sometimes this brokeness comes in different forms. for some it's homelessness, addiction and sadness. for others it's losing a job, not getting an interview, a relationship breakup or pet dying. but just know that in everyone's despair, i am there and for them I AM. it's not for you to fix them, ashley. it's for you to love them. it IS for you to tell them, 'i love you', and then be surprised that you said those words and actually loved them. it IS for you to not tolerate sin but to also not condemn the sinner. only I can do that. it IS for you to come to me when you are weak so that i can remind you of my promises. it IS for you to also delight in your weaknesses and to know that you aren't the One who will bring all that you love to salvation, but when you know that you are weak in areas, you will allow me then to work through you. so that my power can be made perfect. because when you are weak, you are strong. I am strong. ashley, i am the I AM. rest in perfection and holiness so that you can rest knowing that your reflection of me is enough.

and that's what God spoke to me this week, three times. three times he spoke this verse to me. and in three different ways, i was able to help (maybe even just an inch). and then i was able to receive. and i was amazed. and i still am. but i delight in knowing that i am weak and fallible and growing and learning. i delight in knowing that i am in love with the King of the world. i delight in knowing that God's promises are true and that he makes no mistakes and that i'm blessed beyond my prayers, beyond what i think i desire. i am loved. without fail; despite my failings.

in it all, i know that when i am weak, i am strong. because when i am slow to speak, Jesus uses the body he created that his spirit entered in 1992 to somehow do some sort of heavenly good for the kingdom of God. and while it might not be earth shaking movement and good that i'm making, i want to call to mind 2 corinthians 12, often, so that i am reminded that the power of God is in me - me who is weak, and troubled, and imperfect. me who was so excited today that my husband and i loved someone we didn't know and were surprised. we were surprised to find love well up in us where Jesus already knew it existed.

that, is glory.

2 Cor 12
7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

stinky ole bacteria

she coughed and sneezed
but never weezed.
she made snorts and sniffed snot
but never a fever.
her head wasn't hot.

she splashed in the bath and played with her toys.
she kept on making squealy baby noise.
it wasn't until night 7 of her cold,
when we thought we were clear
that she made a loud screech and grabbed her right ear.

to the doctor we went.
hi-ho not so merry-o.
she checked thing one, then thing two
and let out a 'wheew.'
on her prescription pad she wrote,
not dope.

i asked her sweetly,
if she'd write clearly and neatly
for an energy pill or somethingy real sneakily
i could stick in my coffee, my milk? my water?
anything, anything to help make this mama feel smarter.

our baby has bacteria.
the bad kind in her ear.
it's made me raise my voice and brought on many a tear.

my baby being sick is so unfamiliar to me.
i'm used to her smiling and giggling.
not screaming and wiggling.
i'm used to her sleeping - 12 hours of the night.
and now she wakes at 2 and 4
and this sleep deprived mama is getting uptight.

so i pray for the amoxicillan to go on and do its job.
to kill the bacteria, or else i'll probably sob.
i ask God to hush my baby when she's hurting and i can't help.
because in me is a desire, like nothing else or more,
to make her feel all better.
to make her feel all new.
to make her feel all safe and sound.
so when my arms on her are wrapped around,
she'll know His love and mine are true.