Devotional Thursdays- Redeemed

Redeemed

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. -Isaiah 43:1

Google tells me the dictionary definition of “redeem” is: compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something).

I can’t speak for you, but I’ve been consistently told a lot of bad things about myself by people who were supposed to love me. I was constantly told the same bad things by family on a daily basis during the years where my inner voice would be formed. My inner voice is mean to me. M-E-A-N. It’s really awful. It is something I have to battle daily because if I make a single mistake, it’s full out war inside my head. If I ever think that I am becoming a burden on someone, all the old things that were said to me play on repeat in my mind. 

You are lazy.”

“You will never do anything.”

“It’s always your fault.”

“You need to calm down, this is why we cannot have _____”

It’s enough to make anybody think they weren’t ever wanted.

How do I battle it? How do I battle the human flaws that remind me I am weak and need something bigger than myself? 

I start with Isaiah 43:1. God has redeemed me. Jesus’ blood is compensation for my sins. His blood paid the price I could never pay. I start there because it is the most important truth. I have been redeemed. I am a child of God’s. He has called me by name and I belong to him. 

It’s all right there in black and white.

Write it Out

  1. What bad tapes play in your head? 
  2. What truths can you use to battle the lies that play like records in your head?

The Change You Didn’t Ask For

I talk about change a lot. At least, it feels like I do. It is probably because my entire life has been about change and learning how to adjust. I’ve basically been wingin’ it since I was a child. It is probably why I fight so hard for control, despite the 20+ years of knowledge that tells me that I have absolutely zero control. 

This past year has been full of changes for my family. This past year has been full of changes for me personally. Every time I think we are in a groove, the tide changes. It is like every week has something new or changing or something. It’s been a very interesting year.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen this post where I talked about how God dropped a huge realization on me. I am living a life I prayed for. I asked God for the parts in my life that weight on my heart and god provided them. All the change I was enduring was to be given the life I was asking for. The life I’m living now is allowing me to pursue my calling and I can help provide for my family. I have time with my son and my husband that I never got before. All these things I asked for and prayed for and didn’t believe it was possible for me.

Now I am living it. My prayers were answered and all these changes have been good. While it has taken me a while to adjust and accept it. Part of me still misses the old. I’ve let it go when God made me realize that I prayed for my life that I am living. Even adjusting to change I asked for, it was hard. It was not something I woke up to and said “okay, this is my life, cool!” 

If it is hard to adjust to change that you asked for, that you wished or prayed for, do you think it is easy to adjust to change you didn’t ask for?

Absolutely not. 

Two hours after I made my instagram post about what God was doing and how He answered my prayers, my husband called me and told me things were about to change again and it wasn’t something we asked for. This change actually goes against everything we wanted. 

My husband started a new job with a new company and now he is being moved to another part of the company. This change comes with a new schedule from the one we had just adjusted to. Plus it came with a pay cut, which means we needed to readjust our budget AND figure out a way to get childcare for Little Man. 

Never have I prayed for this. In fact, with the timing, I started questioning everything I was just thankful for. I asked myself, “Did I hear God wrong?” I wondered if I was really in God’s will and all the things I was just praising Him for. This new and the change literally had me questioning everything. I felt wrong and like things couldn’t just be right for two seconds.

Then the smallest thought, the smallest voice came from my heart. “What if something better is coming?”

What. Huh?

Then I let it sit around a little bit. What if God is moving us to something better? While we are currently at a pay cut and slightly stressed about childcare, there is a plan in place with this new position. A plan that is better than our original plan with his previous position. Then, after this news on Thursday night, I spent all day Friday getting everything together to enroll Little Man into a preschool, and it all worked out. I found one we could afford, there was room, I got all the paperwork I needed from the doctor in a few hours. It all felt right. I spent the entire day running around (Little Man also had an eye exam and needed glasses) but it all worked out and I felt at peace all day.

Peace that I never feel when I am running around like that. Peace that never really happens to me. Peace that didn’t match up to my understanding.

That’s the kind of peace that God gives. The kind that doesn’t make sense. That is when I knew I was in God’s hands and I was finally letting go of control over this.

So I’m going to trust God and His Process…

Even when I don’t understand

Even when I dislike it the current situation

Even when it is hard

Even when it hurts

Even when I feel like giving up

Even when I want to quit

God has never not shown up for us. God has never abandoned us. God fulfills his promises. 

Devotional Thursdays- Choices

Choices

She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. – Genesis 3:6b

Eve was presented with a choice. She was talking to the enemy, who presented her with an alternative to what she knew God had said. He convinced her to make the choice to eat the apple from the tree God specifically said do not eat from. They had one job, one rule and they didn’t follow it. Then, Eve handed an apple to her husband Adam because sharing is caring and he ate it without question. The bible never indicated that Adam questioned his wife on where she got the apple from. Granted, there were probably other trees that had apples and maybe Adam wanted a snack. Apples are good. Why not eat it? 

That single choice wrecked humanity on earth. This individual choice effected every single human that would be born afterwards. This choice now made all of us born into sin because of their sin. We are born sinners because of Adam and Eve’s sin. 

Imagine having that sort of weight on your shoulders. I know sometimes we feel like we are carrying the world on our shoulders. How many of us actually make decisions that effect us, our children, and the thousands of generations that follow? I sure don’t. 

Jesus comes next. It is a long time after Adam and Eve, but he comes. He is born, he lives in the wold alongside humanity that is sinful. He also started his ministry, knowing how it would end. Jesus was always aware of why he was on earth. It wasn’t some revelation that was given to him when he was in his thirties and he suddenly had to make a choice on whether or not he wanted his destiny. Jesus always knew what he was. Jesus always knew what he was sent to do. However, as a man, Jesus had a choice. Jesus even asked God to take away what he was sent to do. (Matthew 26:39)  Since I have free will, I think Jesus could have ran away that night if he really wanted to. Just like I could run away from my family and everything I know tonight. I won’t, but technically, I could. 

Jesus’ choice to follow the father’s will and sacrifice himself was the choice that saved humanity. We now can go to God freely and be saved from our sinful humanity. Jesus chose us. He chose you. He chose me. He chose to bare my sin, and your sin. 

The bible has a lot of stories about prophets and people who all had choices to make. Some choices were made to cover up poor choices. Other choices were for the betterment of a kingdom. And still, other choices were made to glorify God.

Just like the people of the bible, we have choices. We go about our day making a ton of choices. We probably make more choices than we even realize. Not all of our choices hold weight, deciding to get into another car lane isn’t as heavy of a choice as deciding to buy a house. Thankfully, our choices most likely won’t effect humanity as a whole. Our choices may have consequences but we are human and as humans, we will make wrong choices. We cannot control that. No matter how much we stress over every decision we make. (Trust me, I’ve tried.) 

The biggest choice we make will be the one that deals with our eternity. Is Jesus the savior God sent to pay for our sins for us or is Jesus a myth about a really upstanding guy thousands of years ago?

That choice is the choice that will effect eternity. 

Write it Out

  1. What are some choices you are struggling with right now?
  2. What are some bad choices you made in the past that you need to forgive yourself for?
  3. How can you rest in God’s grace instead of relying on yourself to make every single right choice?

Devotional Thursdays- Strength

Strength

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Some days, I get home from a big day with a lot of things happening and I wonder how I am still standing. In fact, some days, I get home, sit down and don’t get back up until I get myself into my bed. I am that tired. Those days are fewer and fewer lately, I’ve been working on not adding so much to my plate. (Growth!) Then there are days I wake up, think about all the things that need to be done and stress about how I am going to do it. I get new opportunities and stress about whether or not I will do a good job. 

Recently, for example, I was stressed about a new opportunity I had at work. It was something that I was so excited for. The day came for me to start and I was so nervous I didn’t know what to do with it. Naturally, I turned that nervous energy into stress and started stressing about things I couldn’t control or things that were already settled. I used that nervous energy to second guess my decisions that un-stressed Ashleigh already made. 

I was telling my husband about it and he sent me the sweetest message that included “don’t let the enemy get you down.” I was so wrapped up in my stress and felt discouraged before I had even started this opportunity I was excited for. All those decisions I was second guessing, they were decisions we made for a trip we are about to go on. All good things that I was starting to doubt because at the core of my stress, I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough. That I wasn’t qualified to do what I was told to do. 

That’s where God comes in and His word tells me to chill. Be strong, God says. Don’t be afraid, he reminds us. God goes with me wherever I go. I like to envision this as if I’m walking down the street with God and he is holding my hand guiding me. 

Write it Out

  1. Where do you need God’s strength?
  2. How can you work on allowing God’s strength work rather than your own?
  3. Where do you need peace? 

Devotional Thursdays- Bloom

Let each of you remain in the situation in which he was called. 1 Corinthians 7:20

I have big ideas. I have big dreams. Dreams I know that God has given me and the biggest struggle of my life is figuring out how to get from where I am, to where I know God told me I’ll be. I don’t see the path and it bothers me to levels I didn’t know existed. 

Since working on my relationship with Jesus, I’ve been told that I need to be faithful in the small things and then God will trust me in the big things. Its sound advice. Luke 16:10 backs it up. Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. How am I supposed to get to the big dreams if I cannot even do what I’m supposed to be doing in this moment? 

In his letter to the church of Corinth, Paul reminds them that they need to be faithful to where they are. The before and after verses reference circumcision and slaves. If you started following Jesus and were uncircumcised, you didn’t have to rush out and get that situated. The specifics of this do not matter. What matters is that we are serving the Lord where we are right now. 

I am still on the path to my dreams. I am still working towards them. When God gave me the vision he gave me years ago, I didn’t just up and quit everything I knew to follow this. I started serving God where I was. I showed God’s love to the parents of the little children I used to teach. I showed God’s love to the little children I used to teach. I served God in my church and in ministries and allowed other people to pour into me. As seasons change and I’m finally getting onboard with the change, I’m learning how to serve God in where I am at now. Sometimes, we aren’t where we expect to be when we envision the bigger picture of serving God. There are a lot of steps to get to that place and it doesn’t happen overnight. However, we aren’t just to sit on our hands while we wait for that day. If we do that, the day will never come.

There are people who are called to be pastors and missionaries. These are amazing callings and I am thankful for every single person who took up their cross there and do these amazing ministries. However, just because we are not a pastor doesn’t mean we aren’t called to serve God. It doesn’t mean that we cannot do Kingdom work in our daily lives. We don’t need to be a pastor to be a light for God. We don’t need to be a missionary in a different country to talk about God. In fact, in America, we have the wonderful freedom that allows us to talk about God and serve God. Everything we do we should be doing for Jesus. So even if you are working at a clothing store, you are working for Jesus and you should act as such. If you knew Jesus was coming to inspect your work, how different would it look from what you are doing right now? 

There are countless ways to serve God. We will have many seasons in life. We will have a lot of changes in life. The most important thing is that we dig in a little bit and bloom right where we are. Goals and dreams are great and vision is important. You also need to be working in the present and allowing God to get you ready for those dreams and those goals. The day when that vision comes to fruition, you want to be ready. That is why it is so important to bloom right where you are, right now. Do the best work you can right now. Bloom, right now. 

Write it Out:

  1. Where are you stagnant? What in your life cannot you not get excited about? Where are your struggles?
  2. How can you get excited about where you currently are? 
  3. If you are excited about where you are- how did you get there?
  4. How can you work on your perspective? And allow God to change your perspective?