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Hey Y’all!
I know it’s been a couple of months since my last post, but I wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be back to blogging and posting very soon! With months of brainstorming and prayer, I’ve decided to try a different approach with this blog.
I will continue to share my personal stories of faith, inspiration, and God’s Love with you all like before. But I would like to add new content and ideas for ALL to enjoy! * (Details coming soon!)*
Thank you all for being patient with me. I am still trying to figure this whole “blogging” thing out. Your continued support and prayers mean everything to me!
Love Always,
Ash

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Comparison is the Thief of Joy

 

We live in a world that makes it nearly impossible not to compare ourselves with others. Sometimes we even compare our life as a Christian to others. However, we must fight this urge and recognize two essential facts.

First, receiving forgiveness for our sin and asking Christ to come into our life is like a seed being planted in our heart. Any seed planted must first take root before it grows and blossoms.

Do you remember in school when you planted a seed in a clear plastic cup? If the seed was planted close enough to the edge, you would see the roots would grow downward first; then a few days later a plant would appear above the dirt!

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The only difference between you and the other Christians that you compare yourself with, is that they have had more time to spread their roots down deep. They have been “rooted” and built up in Him and established in faith for a longer period of time.

When we took the first step of faith to trust Christ with our life that was like the seed being planted. From this point it is up to you and God to nourish the seed and let the roots grow deep.

Your faith is nourished by rooting your new relationship with Christ. This means getting to know God better through reading and obeying His Word in the Bible. As with any relationship, time together helps you to appreciate God’s character and will lead to a greater love for Him.

Second, God doesn’t compare one Christian to another. So you shouldn’t either! As Christians, we never get to a point where we have arrived and are totally mature. Our love and appreciation for God can always grow deeper as He shows us new areas in our life to trust Him with.

When you do your very best, you feel good about the results, and there is no need to compare yourself with others. People make comparisons for many reasons. Some point out others’ flaws in order to feel better about themselves. Others simply want reassurance that they are doing well. When you are tempted to compare, look at Jesus Christ. His example will inspire you to do our very best, and His loving acceptance will comfort you when you fall short of your goals.

Enjoy all of the stages of our faith by taking in all of the spiritual nourishment you can handle. Remember that the stronger and deeper your roots grow below the surface, the more beautiful and fruitful you will be as a Christian.

 

Love Always,

Ash

No Gray Zone

Jonathan McReynolds

“No Gray”

[Chorus:]

And if it’s God that I’m after

I just can’t serve two masters

And before something happens

I gotta turn it all around

Because I know I can’t just have my cake and eat it too

Cause it’s real easy to stay on the fence and still do you

And it’d be cool if we could love the Lord and still go do our thing

But see it doesn’t work like that

You gotta to be white or black

[Chorus]

No it don’t work like that

You gotta be white or black

No gray No shades of gray

Don’t work like that

No gray

 

 

 

I know that most, if not all, Christians can relate to Jonathan McReynold’s song “No Gray”. The song accurately describes the struggle we Christians have with living our lives how God has instructed us to and the way the world thinks we should. A lot of people classify themselves as Christians but then pick and choose which of God’s laws they want to follow and live by. This way of life, which I like to refer to as the Gray Zone, often leads to sin and then eventually the absence of a relationship with God.

When I was younger, I remember making a list of all the things that I wanted to accomplish by a certain age. Most were innocent and harmless like getting a cellphone at 13, going to my first supervised coed party at 15, getting my driver’s license at 16, and attending college at 18. But then there was the secret list that I made for the things that I knew didn’t please God, but I wanted to do them anyway. For instance, sneaking into clubs, underage drinking, and hanging out with the wrong people in the wrong places.

To be completely honest, I did not enjoy any of the activities on my secret list as much as I thought I would. I knew right from wrong, but the world glorified these activities and as a Christian, I felt like I was missing out. While I was out fulfilling the things on my secret list, my relationship with God went left. I had forgotten about Him. I thought that I could love God and still to all of the things that I wanted to do. “God would want me to have a little fun,” is what I would tell myself. I was dead wrong! The more we focus on the world’s pleasures, the easier it becomes to forget God’s care, love, dependability, guidance, and most of all, God himself.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that I was living in the Gray Zone. The problem was that I was following God with my words and not with my heart and actions. God wants our life to back up our spiritual claims and promises. He wants us to be true believers. God wants us to separate ourselves completely from ALL sin and tempting situations. All sin hurts us and others, and ultimately it offends God because sin in any form is a rebellion against His way of living.

It is easy for us to grow careless about obeying God, to live our way instead of His. But if one way were just as good as another, God would not command us to live His way. He always has good reasons for His commands, and we always place ourselves in danger when we consciously or carelessly disobey them.

Have you been forgetting God lately? Has something or someone been pushing God out of your life? Are you in the Gray Zone? It could be as simple as television, a friendship, sports, a boyfriend or girlfriend, music, food, fun. Any of these can become idols. If they do, they must be removed from the center of your life. The first step is recognizing that something or someone has drawn your heart away from God. Then you must confess the problem to God and turn it over to Him (1 John 1:9). It is also important that you find someone to hold you accountable. You need someone to encourage you, ask the tough questions, and to pray for you. This could be a friend your own age who has a real desire to grow spiritually. It could be a Christian adult who you like and respect or anyone who is genuinely concerned for you. Ask God to send you such a person. It will help keep you from falling into the Gray Zone and provide you with close, lifelong friends.

Love Always,

Ash

 

 

Notes:

  • Christians are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15). Like the Israelites, we are to remain spiritually separate from the world’s wickedness, even though we rub shoulders with unbelievers every day. It is no easy task to be holy in an unholy world, but God doesn’t ask you to accomplish this on your own. Through the death of his Son, He will present you holy and blameless before Him (Colossians 1:22).
  • King David gave his son Solomon principles to guide him through life (1 Chronicles 28:9-10). These same ideas are ones that any Christian can learn and follow.

 

  • Principles to Live By:
  • Get to know God personally.
  • Learn God’s commands and discover what He wants you to do.
  • Worship God with a clean heart.
  • Serve God with a willing mind.
  • Be faithful.
  • Don’t become discouraged.

 

 

Scriptures on Life-Style:

  • Jeremiah 18:18. Life-style is determined by your beliefs.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:20. Live to give glory to God.
  • Philippians 1:12-14. Living for Christ.
  • 1 Timothy 6:18-19. Your life and your earthly and heavenly future.
  • 1 Peter 4:10. Have a serving life-style.

Never Compromise Your Faith For The Wrong Popularity

1 Timothy 4:12 (NKJV)

12Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

 

When people think of idolatry, the first thing that comes to mind are the people of the Old Testament and their worshiping of idols made from wood and stone. We wonder how they could deceive themselves with these objects. Idolatry is making anything more important than God, and our lives are full of that temptation, even today. Some examples of today’s idols are money, looks, success, reputation, security, and even popularity. These idols promise everything you want but nothing you need.

In today’s society, people are popular only if they have the right looks, the right clothes, a certain amount of money, have so many followers and likes, date a certain person, or drive a certain car. The lines are pretty clearly drawn. Lots of people are on the other side of every one of those lines, including me.

Growing up in school this really bothered me. All I craved was popularity. I tried to fit in with these cliques, but I ended up losing myself somewhere along the way. There was a time where I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. Literally. My attitude was horrible and insincere towards others and I only cared about myself and my new so called friends. Nothing about me was Christ-like.  I just wanted everyone to like me.

My perspective changed when I realized that it didn’t really matter whether the kids in my school thought that I was cool; what mattered was what God thought of me. If I wanted Him to think that I was great, I had to forget about fitting in and just focus on pleasing Him. I still wasn’t considered one of the “popular” people, but that didn’t bother me anymore. I was getting to know God, and because of that, I knew that I was popular with The One whose opinion really mattered.

“Never compromise your faith to fit in. Don’t conform to the ways of the world or condone sin. Renew. Transform. Share faith. Be an example.”

Love Always,

Ash

 

 

NOTES:

  • Don’t allow popularity to twist your perception of your own importance. It’s easy to be humble when you’re not on center stage, but how will you react to praise and honor?
  • Often those who try the hardest to become popular never make it. But the praise of people is not that important. Don’t spend your time devising ways to please others so you will be accepted in the public eye. Instead, strive to do what is right and both God and people will respect your faith.
  • Those who are concerned about building a name for themselves risk losing the very recognition they crave. We should be concerned for righteousness, honesty, and excellence, and leave the fame up to God.
  • Those seeking the wrong type of popularity are more concerned with criticism than encouragement, with their own appearance than helping people, with outward respectability than practical help. God is concerned for all people. The Christian life is not a popularity contest! We need to follow Jesus’ example and share the Good News with the poor, lonely, and outcast-not just the good, talented, and popular.

 

SCRIPTURES:

  • Obeying God may not make you popular. Read Matthew 3:7-10, Mark 6:27, and Luke 3:19-20.
  • Never be so popular that you are ashamed of Christ. Read Matthew 10:32-33.
  • Be more popular with Christ than with people. Read Luke 14:25-27.
  • Jesus was not popular. Read John 17:14-17.
  • Believers must stay away from some popular activities. Read 1 John 2:15-17.

 

I was ashamed…

Psalm 25:1-7 (NKJV)

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. 3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. 4 Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. 5 Let me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your loving kindness, For they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.

 

When I made the decision to begin a relationship with God, I did not tell many people. I wanted them to continue to like me. I thought that if they knew that I was serious about being a Christian, that they would think that I was better than them. I know it sounds crazy now but that was just how I felt. I was so worried about losing friends and maybe even some family members, that I kept my Christianity a secret.

I WAS ASHAMED!

It was like I was living a double life. I had a mental list of things that I could and could not say and do around certain people. I did not want to offend anyone or make them uncomfortable. I do not know what it was, but I was afraid to let everyone see the true me. I was having a hard time finding peace with the situation.

One day I asked, “What does God expect from me?” I was lead to read Deuteronomy 10:12-13. In these verses Moses gives a summary that is simple in form and easy to remember: (1) Fear God (have reverence for Him). (2) Walk in all His ways. (3) Love Him. (4) Serve Him with all your heart and soul. (5) Keep His commandments. If I could get myself to concentrate on His real requirements; to respect, follow, love, serve, and obey Him; then I would find peace.

I also struggled with the fear of people finding out that I was a Christian, and them making fun of me. I desperately wanted to be bold enough to not care what others thought. Then I was reminded that in Isaiah 51:7, Isaiah encouraged those who served God to discern right from wrong and to follow God’s laws. He also gave them hope when they faced people’s ridicules or insults because of their faith.

We do not need to fear when people tease us for our faith because God is with us and truth will prevail. If people make fun of you or dislike you because you believe in God, remember that they are not against you personally, but against God. He will deal with them; you should concentrate on loving and obeying Him.

When we are ashamed of being a Christian, we are opposing God’s way of living. We may live a basically good life and yet miss doing what is most important. A lifetime of doing well is not enough if we make the crucial mistake of not following God with all our heart. A true follower of God puts Him first in all areas of life. Wholehearted reverence means appreciating God and honoring Him in all areas of life. We need to show our loyalty to Him in every part of our life, not just going to church. If we reverence God with our whole heart, then our work, relationships, use of money, and desires will be in keeping with His will.

When you are tempted to be ashamed, remember what the Good News is all about. If you focus on God and what He is doing in the world rather than your own inadequacy, your embarrassment will soon disappear!

Love Always,

Ash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are God’s child and you need to start acting like it!

Imagine never being anxious or worried about anything! It seems like an impossibility—we all have worries on the job, in our home, at school. But Paul’s advice is to turn our worries into prayers. Do you want to worry less? Then pray more! Whenever you start to worry, stop and pray.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a worrywart is a person who worries too much or who worries about things that are not important. Before I started this blog (and still sometimes today) I worried about it. I worried that I would lose family and friends, be talked about, not be supported, and all kinds of other things. I worried about my life and those in it. I even worried about things and situations that had absolutely nothing to do with me. I was worrying so much that I was physically making myself sick. I sometimes allowed my insecurities and worries to drive me right out of God’s blessings for me!

One day on my way home from work, I was in my car sitting at a red light. I normally have some type of music playing in the background, but on that particular day it was quiet. I had so many thoughts and worries running through my head, that it became overwhelming. I tried to turn on the radio to get my mind off of things, but every station was full of static. I knew that God was trying to get my attention. I had not spent any quality time with Him in days and it was affecting me greatly.

When I arrived home and got settled in for the night, I sat on the side of my bed and began to pray. I was lead to look up scriptures and passages about worry. The one that really spoke to me was Matthew 6:25-34. I know I read those scriptures one hundred times that night. The more I read, the more I understood. Every time I read them, I could feel the burdens on my shoulders get lighter and lighter.

Matthew 6:25-34 AMP

25 Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted) about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, as to what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow [seed] nor reap [the harvest] nor gather [the crops] into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by worrying can add one hour to [the length of] his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothes? See how the lilies and wildflowers of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin [wool to make clothing], 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon dressed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive and green today and tomorrow is [cut and] thrown [as fuel] into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

While reading and taking notes, I found seven reasons not to worry.

  1. The same God who created life in you can be trusted with the details of your life.
  2. Worrying about the future hampers your efforts for today.
  3. Worrying is more harmful than helpful.
  4. God does not ignore those who depend on Him.
  5. Worry shows lack of faith and understanding of God.
  6. There are real challenges God wants us to pursue, and worrying keeps us from them.
  7. Living one day at a time keeps us from being consumed with worry.

Still to this day, I find myself worrying or being anxious. I talk to God about it and I have a little pep talk with myself. The last time I was worried about something, I told myself, “You are God’s child and you need to start acting like it!”

Below I have listed the scriptures that help me when I am worried or anxious. I like to write them on postcards or sticky notes and put them in places like on my computers, on my mirrors around the house, or in my phone as daily reminders. I pray that these scriptures help you as they have helped me.

MORE SCRIPTURES AND NOTES ABOUT WORRY:

Mathew 6:25-34. Reasons not to worry.

Matthew 8:23-27. Let Christ calm the storms in your life.

Matthew 10:29-31. Jesus will take care of you; don’t worry.

Matthew 14:25-33. Don’t look at troubles, look to God.

Mark 4:35-41. Place your confidence and trust in Christ.

Psalm 34. How to trust God.

Philippians 4:6-18. How to have peace instead of worry.

We worry about details in our lives over which we have no control, while neglecting specific areas that are under our control. Concentrate on what God has given you to do, and leave the rest to Him. Jesus said that God cares for the sparrows’ every need. We are far more valuable to God than these birds, so valuable that God sent His only Son to die for us (John 3:16). You are of great worth to God. Because He places such value on you, you need never fear personal threats or difficult trials. But don’t think that because you are valuable to God He will take away all of your troubles. The real test of value is how well something holds up under the wear, tear, and abuse of everyday life. Those who stand up for Christ in spite of their troubles truly have lasting value and receive great rewards.

Love Always,

Ash

Why I started this blog

So if I can be real with you guys for a minute, I actually created this account almost three years ago. I just never did anything with it. God was dealing with me heavily at the time, but I wasn’t ready. Seriously. I was at a low point in my life and the one person that I was running from was actually the only person that I needed. GOD. I wanted to be young and free and do all of the things that my peers were doing. But He was not having that. And quite frankly I was tired of running.

By the age of 12, I knew that I was different. All of the kids my age would be into certain things and I just knew that there was trouble lurking. Some labeled me as being scary but I called it being aware or having discernment. I would be at youth conferences and events and the preacher ministering would call all of the youth down to the front for prayer. There were so many times where they would tell me that I was different because God had a special calling/plan over my life to mentor and help others. Some of the kids would look at me and start to whisper to their friends. I would be so embarrassed because I knew that they were talking about me. I got tired of hearing that I was different.

I remember on several occasions coming home from school, praying to God to just make me normal. At that age, I really didn’t know what normal was, but I knew for sure that it wasn’t me. I wanted to be like everyone but myself. And every morning when I woke up being the same ol’ Ashley, I got upset and began blaming God. I took matters into my own hands when I stopped being myself and began to be like the rest. I allowed my relationship with God to become almost nonexistent. I began to hang with the wrong crowds and do stupid things. I was losing myself and God was not pleased.

While I was running and doing my own thing, I would still hear from God. He wanted my attention, but I continued to ignore Him. I thought that I was having the time of my life, living how I wanted to live. In my eyes, I was finally normal. I had lots of friends and popularity. Life was good. I made sure to keep myself busy and entertained because I knew that God’s voice was loud and clear when I was still and alone.

And then it hit me. Those so called friends that I once had were all gone. I was no longer the center of attention. No phone calls, no texts, and no hanging out. No social media, no nothing. I was literally alone. I know that this sounds crazy, but I literally went two whole years without a single friend calling or texting me. No joke. I was isolated and alone and there was nothing that I could do about it.

I remember one night, I broke out into tears and prayed to God. I hadn’t prayed in years but I felt that I needed to do it. I had tried everything else with no relief. I didn’t know what to say or where to start, but somehow the words just poured right out of my mouth. After praying, I immediately felt restored. I slowly started going back to church, reading my Bible, and praying. I even connected with some amazing Christian friends. I had been pretending and hiding for so long, that it felt good to be myself again.

God knew that if I continued living life the way that I was, that I would have an even longer road ahead of me. The only way that He could get to me was to absolutely WRECK me. He had to take away every single thing that hindered me from hearing Him and doing His work. Isolation was just the thing that I needed. God desired my attention and He did what was necessary.

We all have different callings and purposes for our lives. It may not be shown or given to you right away, but in the meantime ask God for His guidance and His will. Continue to seek Him. Don’t be afraid to ask Him questions. Instead of me seeking and asking, I ran and tried to change the very thing that God loved about me. If He wanted us all to be the same, don’t you think He would’ve done that? We are all special and different and that’s ok. I can confidently say that I am embracing my individuality now more than I ever have. As a child I feared that something was wrong with me and that God was punishing me. I didn’t know that God created me this way for a reason.

As I mentioned earlier, I created this account years ago. God had placed it on my heart, but it wasn’t until now that I realized why I needed to do this. Growing up all I ever wanted was for someone who had gone through some of the things that I was experiencing, to be there for me. I wanted to be able to call them up and tell them about my day. Spend time with them on the weekends. Go to church. Get prayer, advice and encouragement. Someone that I could trust. Someone to comfort me and tell me that everything would turn out just fine. A mentor. I know that if I’d had a mentor things would have been different for me growing up. I thought why not be who you needed when you were younger.

So now here I am, three years later, officially starting this blog to share my experiences with you. I am in no way a professional or perfect person. But what I am is a lover of Christ and all of His people. My main purpose of this blog is to share my stories and experiences for others to know that they are not alone. Someone somewhere is fighting or has fought the exact same battle(s) as you. Let’s encourage and uplift one another.

Love Always,

Ash

About Me

img_0278About Me

Hey y’all! My name is Ashley. I was born and raised in a small town called Hillsboro in Alabama. I am crazy about God, my family and friends, and helping others. A country girl with a huge heart! I’ve started this blog to share my journey and experiences with you. Not only will I share about myself, but I will also post about fashion, food, traveling, and whatever else comes to mind. Thanks for reading and I hope y’all enjoy!

Ashley Austin,

ASHABSOLUTELY