Thursday, May 31, 2012

God is Faithful

A lot of my close friends and family know the things I have gone through the past year or so. It hasn't always been easy. At times I have questioned whether God actually has a purpose for everything I am going through and will go through. I know this thinking isn't rationale, but it still happens at times. I know in the deepest of my heart that God does have a higher purpose and that something will come out of all of this. 
The past year my mom has told me many many times that God brought me here and He will bring something good out of this. My dad, my sisters, my aunt, my grandmother, the entire family and a few of my closest friends have all said how much they love me and know everything will be for the best in the end. It is easy to hear it, but not always so easy to believe when the end isn't able to be seen.
I'm going through a series on Paul right now. The study bounces throughout scripture following Paul's life and his teachings. The passage I read today was from Acts 5:27-42. Verse 41 and 22 say "The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple, courts and from house to house they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ."
Those last verses hit me hard. They were flogged but they left rejoicing? What kind of nuts are these guys? Who gets a heavy beating and still rejoices. It then hit me that I need this attitude. God is putting me through things (not all bad) that will help me and give Him the glory. It isn't about me! That's the problem. I have been thinking why am I going through this? I don't deserve this. Why would God put me through this? With that thinking I never turned it around and said What is God trying to get me to see through all of this? How can this bring Him glory? How can I use this to further His kingdom? 
Turning it around makes it seem so small. Yes, it is still not easy being alone a lot of the time, but it isn't about me. God has me here for a reason, and something good will come out of it.
The road won't be easy and I'm sure I will forget this passage along the way. But I am so fortunate to have family and friends who point me back to God. They point me in the right direction of thinking.
I had a short two week break. I came back and had a stack of mail. The mail consisted of bills, ads, junk mail and one letter. I love getting letters (hint hint, write me guys). This letter was from a woman at my dad's church that I think I've known about 13 years. I'm not exactly sure how old I was when we switched to this church. It has been a while regardless. I had no idea she knew things that were going on in my life. My mom had filled her in a little. Her letter wasn't long but it meant the world to me. It basically said she is praying for me and that I am not alone. I maybe see her three or four times a year since I live out of town and go to a different church. God has placed people like her and my family in my life for a reason. 
My efforts are not futile. God does have a plan. 

Another recent event that I was stressing about was money. My mom once again told me not to worry and it would all be ok. I knew she was right, but I still stressed (I get that from my dad). I didn't know how I was going to pay for tuition and I don't like being in debt. About two weeks after my stressing (which did nothing to help) I got an email saying I received a small, but still helpful scholarship. At that point all I could do was say YAY. My mom can tell you how excited I was since we were together when I got the news. She was excited too. Ha! Later on I was thinking how faithful God is. I was stressing and all the time He is probably looking down saying Chill Ashley, I got this. I came back from break to hear even better news. I was approved for in state tuition which means my tuition was more than cut in half. This means I will have less loan money to pay back. 
Once again God put my mother in my life for a reason. She pointed me back to Him, saying it would all be ok. The past year has not been an easy ride, but it has been a ride that I would say is worth it.
God is doing something even though I cannot see the whole picture. He is faithful to finish what he started.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

All I Need

A quote I've heard a lot recently is "You don't know Christ is all you need until Christ is all you have."
I've never been at a place in my life where I've had to truly cling to that sentence.
I am certain that Christ had me come to Fayetteville for multiple reasons, but I think the most prominent one right now is so that I will truly embrace that statement and grow so much from it.
Being an outsider isn't easy and definitely isn't fun in a new city. At first I saw it as something was wrong with me and that I was the one who needed to change. However, my convictions are deep in my skin and I cannot change who I am because of the people around me. God put me here for a reason, and if I stumble just to please people...I won't be doing His work. I'll be doing mine. What is temporary satisfaction worth compared to a loving God who is there no matter what. My favorite show Gilmore Girls has a scene where Rory is feeling like an outsider and she says "Just call me Pony Boy." I can relate to that right now. I am the outsider. But instead of seeing this as a bad thing, God has shown me that being an outsider to the world is part of the job description. An outsider isn't a bad title when you look at the rewards on the other side.
I love Fayetteville. Don't get me wrong. I am enjoying the things I'm learning and love my clinical site that Im at right now. I am learning a ton. I am eager to get more plugged in with Fellowship NWA here. I see God doing great things during my two years here. But, the past few days have been rough. Little community and fellowship isn't easy. I see the importance of a strong community of believers. Without my core support group here (family and friends back home) I am on my own. I have an amazing couple (mike and allison) here with me. And I am so grateful for them being here and opening their house to me. But they are my only true support in the city right now. God has grown me the past few days learning to rely on Him and Him alone. Life isn't always picture perfect. The past few days the quote "You don't know Christ is all you need until Christ is all you have" has become quite true. I know in reality I havent lost my family or friends, but they are not readily available for me to run to. The five hours drive isn't bad, but it's too much when you don't have ten hours to spend on the road.
I am excited about what Christ is doing in and through me. And I am also learning that He is all I need.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Exodus is one of my favorite books in the Bible. There are several reasons why but to sum it up I feel like Exodus shows God's faithfulness.
On my way home today I heard Bethany Dillon's song "Exodus".
She wrote this song after reading through Exodus. The song itself sums up the book, but I thought Id write about what God showed me when I read through Exodus.

Anyone who grew up in church or spent any significant amount of time in church would have heard the story of the Red Sea. God was with Moses when he parted the Red Sea so the people could go free. The story is great.
However, that isn't the whole story.

"When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "if they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. " So God led the people around  by the desert road toward the Red Sea." Exodus 13:17-18

God knew His children so well that He took them the long way. The long way led them to the Red Sea. It was God ordained for the Red Sea to be part of the story. The shorter route was not in God's plan because He knew His children would turn and go back. God loved them and knew their hearts, so He sent them the long way.
The people complained about where God had led them.
"They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?...It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert." Exodus 14: 10-12

They complained about where they were, but they didn't see the bigger picture. God led them to that place on purpose. God saw the bigger picture. He promised deliverance. The people couldn't see that going through the desert was part of the plan. They were so tired of the desert that they though being enslaved would be better. They questioned God.
Too often do we, as Christians question God. We can't see the bigger picture. God puts certain circumstances and paths in our lives for a reason. We may not see it now and we may not ever see it, but God knows.
God is faithful to His children. He does not leave us ever. He is always with us, and in any circumstance He is doing what is best...whether we think it's best or not.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Opportunity Camp

For anyone who has ever talked to me about Opportunity Camp should know how I feel about it. Opportunity Camp is a camp for the inner city and refugee kids in Memphis. The kids who come to camp don't have a lot. Some of the stories would make you cry your eyes out. I know this is a fact because I've known people to cry at just hearing the stories.
I have been a counselor at Opportunity Camp four years now. It is one week at the beginning of every summer. I have worked with kids from the age of 6 to 11. The girls are amazing. It is a true picture of how God's love is for all nations and His love isn't limited to certain social groups or groups of people. Everyone needs to hear how they have a God who loves them. They have a heavenly father that is always there for them even when their earthly father isn't. So many of the kids who come to camp have NOTHING. 
We have a Christmas party every year for the kids (and numerous others). People sponsor kids by going out and buying a few things for them to have as Christmas presents. A lot of the kids will open their presents the day of the party (usually a couple weeks before Christmas), but some of the kids won't open their presents because that is all they will have on Christmas. They wait to open the presents on Christmas since that is all they will get. 
These kids are great kids. I have first hand experience. My first year as a counselor I worked with the youngest age group. Last summer I worked with the oldest age group. A lot of the kids I had in '07 were in my cabin again in '10. The girls had grown up so much. I see first hand how the camp really does affect their lives in a positive way.
I have seen kids at the camp come to know Christ and it is a beautiful thing.  Almost all of the kids that come to camp don't have great living arrangements. Some of the kids have one parent or no parents. Some of the kids are abused, whether is be physically or emotionally. 
When the kids arrive at camp they are generally quiet and unsure of who you are (unless they know you from a previous year). They are unsure just because they have no reason to trust anyone in life because they have been hurt. After an hour or so they love you. They will literally say they love you. To have a little girl look up at you and say I love you when she just met you says a lot about the little love they receive on a daily basis.
One of my favorite girls at camp puts up an exterior. She tries to act tough and like nothing bothers her. She does this to protect herself from the people around her. She has told me she loves that she can be real with me. She doesn't have to pretend. I am there for her. I am not going to hurt her, I am not going to laugh at her...She is a child of God, just like me.
I could go on and on with stories. I am not saying too much just because some of the stories are not pleasant at all. And by saying not pleasant is a complete understatement.

You can ask anyone in my family...I am not someone who cries a lot or easily. If I cry it is usually in private and no one knows. Every year when the girls leave camp I cry. I ball my eyes out. Every year I tell myself "Im not going to cry this year." It never fails...I cry every year.
The first year I was a counselor I had the youngest girls (5-8 years old). I was on a bus saying goodbye to all of the girls. One of my girls was crying her eyes out and looked up at me and said "Please don't make me go home." If that doesn't break your heart I don't know what will.
Having a six year old girl beg me with tears in her eyes to not make her go home is a hard reality. When I was six I loved going home. I knew I had a loving family that could support and protect me. These kids do not have that in their life. This camp is one of the only things they have to look forward to.
Camp is like a vacation for them. They get to leave for a week and be loved and cared for. It is a great ministry for kids who truly have nothing. 

The kids all come to camp for free. I am not sure of exact costs but I think it costs about $150 for each kid to come. The number of kids we can have at camp is directly related to how much money we receive through donations. Every counselor pays $50 to be a counselor. This helps with the funs, but money is always needed. It is not easy or fun to turn kids away because we simply don't have the money. We are at a new location this year for camp and we have the space to bring a lot more kids. I am beyond excited about this. 
If you are willing or want to help here are some ways you can:
1. Go to and see more about the camp. You can watch videos and see what the camp's mission is.
2. Give. Money is always needed. Anything helps. If you can give a dollar, give a dollar. 
3. Donate. We have a supply cabin that the kids can go "shop" in. Most of the kids are lacking something. Whether it be a pillow, sheets, underwear, a bathing suit, soap, shampoo, etc. The kids need things. You can donate old things or go out and buy new stuff for the kids.
4. Tell someone. If you know anyone who would want to be a counselor, spread the word. Counselors are always needed. ALWAYS. You can see more on the website.
5. Pray. Prayer is a mighty and powerful thing. I pray for these kids year round. I pray for their safety at home and school. I pray that their hearts are being changed and the God is revealing himself to them everyday. I pray that they know someone, at least one person, does love them. I pray that they know they are valued and worth something despite what the world will say. I pray for myself. I pray that I will be used by God to reach these kids. Praying never fails. God is always faithful and will come through. 

There are so many ways people can help. A lot of people have never heard of Opportunity Camp. If you love the city you live in, this camp is helping to reach out and minister to the kids in the city.
Nothing is too small. 
I want everyone I know to help out in some way. These kids deserve to be loved and we as the body of Christ should help out anyway we can.

If you want to help out let me know. I can tell you more. I have stories and pictures and anything you could possibly want to know about the camp. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sometimes a girl just needs her mom.

For anyone who knew me growing up, or even just for a short time can tell you I am not the girly girl. I grew up wanting to be a boy. The boys never thought girls could play sports (despite the fact that I threatened boys and hit one in the head sending him to get stitches). I was just a girl, and somehow girls were not good enough. I was a daddy's girl to the core. I loved being with my dad. I loved playing basketball with him. I loved playing softball with him, until he decided a blood vessel popping in his hand was torture enough from my throw.

Growing up the boy in me died down. I began to adore my sisters and loved being with them, even though I was the annoying little sister who was always in the way. My parents always said "one day you will love each other"...and "one day" is finally here. I can go to Nikki with anything and know I have her trust. Kristy will threaten to beat up anyone who threatens me.

But the reason for this post is for the one person who truly means the world to me, my mom. I started playing sports when I was 5. At first it was just basketball, but then came softball, and then came soccer. Anyone who knows anything about sports knows that sports require a great deal of time and energy. I played from five years old to nineteen years old. My mom missed ONE game. And she tried to make it to that one. I forgive her since she had surgery that day. It was supposed to be a home game, but it was changed at the last minute. She showed up at home, not realizing it had been switched. So even that one counts! She was my biggest supporter. I didn't always like the yelling and giving me advice before stepping up to the plate, but looking back it was a much needed support during all of my games. Some games we were worried about her getting a technical foul, because she was just that into the game.
My mom was always there. I've had plenty of times in my life when I just wanted my mom. She was the only one who could soothe me, or make me feel better. The most recent time that I desperately wished my mom could have just been there was when I was in China. Two weeks in a foreign country is a TON of fun and I want to go back (my mom would tell you that). However, after a few days the food got old, the smells got old, only having 6 people to talk to got old....I just needed my mom. I emailed her saying "Sometimes a girl just needs her mom." My mom's reply was "Sometimes a mom just needs her baby girl." You could tell she missed her baby girl by the greeting at the airport when I returned home.
My mom does everything. She raised three children (one who is now raising a child), she cooked, she cleaned, she went to games, she went to programs, she went to music recitals, she took us shopping, she worked (who actually wants to rip down wallpaper?), she put down a wood floor, she fell through the ceiling, she sat in the bathroom while we were throwing up...she literally does it all.
When I was little I never truly appreciated everything my mom did. I see how my friends look at their mom and treat their mom and hope they don't regret it one day. I definitely don't always treat my mom the best, but I never want her to think I don't love her or don't want her in my life. She is the biggest support in my life. I love my sisters and other women in my life, but sometimes a girl just needs her mom.

Love you Mom!