Coffee and Jesus

I put whip cream on my coffee this morning.
Yesterday, I didn’t even get to fix myself a cup before I went out the door.
The day before that, it was basic coffee with a little creamer.

Some days are filled with overflowing abundance.

Other days may leave you feeling empty and without.

Either way, my coffee maker was still there. Whether I used it or not, it kept its place on the counter, waiting on me to take full advantage of its power and greatness to produce consistent coffee every time.

That’s God.

On your best day or your worst day, He is there. He wants you to come to Him and allow Him to work in your life. Some days we allow Him to fill us up with all the good stuff…whip cream included. Other days we pass right by and miss an opportunity to drink from an overflowing cup of His mercy, grace and love ever-lasting.

He is consistent and His love never fails. He is the same God on the good days as He is on the bad days. Let’s take advantage of everything God has for us on this day, whether we there’s whip cream on top or not.

Light at the Table

Often times being at the table with the crowd is only because you have something to offer them. There’s not a plate in front of you…just a place at the table. It’s not for you to eat from, just share your light.

You lose your seat until you are needed again and you feel the light inside of you begin to flicker. It’s discouraging to be used by the world, but the hurt comes deep when you realize that someone who is a Christian (maybe even a friend) has yanked away your chair from underneath you.

My friend, keep shining and the next time a seat is offered at their table, kindly decline. Their invitation was because they needed your light to illuminate their darkness for a moment in time and they never had any intention of feeding you, as you watched them ingest everything you placed in front of them.

You accommodated a request.
Fulfilled a need.
Fixed a mistake.
They are all about taking rather than giving.

Good news is…

There’s always a seat at Jesus’ table.
He fulfilled your needs.
He fixed all our mistakes on the cross.
He is always giving more than He takes.

He doesn’t pull the chair out from underneath you, but pushes it closer to the table and wants nothing more than to offer you everything He has. He fans the flame inside of you as you sit and sup with Him.

Refuse to let other people steal from your light and from your joy in Jesus.
Somewhere, God is preparing a seat at a table that you will bring your light to, but you have the privilege of a place-setting to dine a full course meal.

I know you are hungry.

Unbound

I’ve never been shackled or in handcuffs thankfully and pray that I never find myself behind bars. Parenting teenagers have made me often joke that if someone sees me in an orange jumpsuit it’s because of my teenage boys. They try my patience and my sanity like nothing else on this earth. Paul’s sanity and patience was probably tried a little bit, too. He was constantly thrown in chains and in prison because of his faith. I am sure it was a lot more awful than we can imagine…chained up, beaten and left in a dark, harsh environment. Confined and restrained like a criminal for the message of Christ.

Lately, I have been having bad dreams that seem to have me bound in fear. They are vivid and wake me up in a panic and feeling paralyzed with panic until reality sets back in and I can distract myself long enough to drift back off to sleep. I usually start my day in quiet time, but tonight I climbed into bed with my Bible before falling asleep in hopes to redirect my subconscious (if that is even possible). I know God has a sense of humor because I went back to 2 Timothy where I was earlier in the week and read in chapter 2:9 where Paul says he suffers for it (the message of Christ) to the point of being bound in chains like a criminal, but God’s message is not bound.

I’m trying to decompress and these are the words that jump out off the pages before I go to sleep?

Prison?

Chains?

Sigh.

I say to myself, “God’s message is not bound.

It is not chained.”

“How is that supposed to help me, Lord?”, I ask myself. As I go back and read the verse before it, it starts with “Keep your attention on Jesus…” and I immediately am reminded that when I focus on Him, everything else is loosed in my life.

I am not bound either.

No matter what happens to me or around me, the message of Christ will continue to go forward. It can try to be squashed by philosophers, scientists and any skeptic out there, but at the end of the day it ALWAYS stands and nothing can stop the work of The Word! When I lean on the words from Genesis to Revelation that are living, active, sharp and free from being hindered by anything on this earth, then I am not bound by the chains of bad dreams, bad choices or bad people.

As a child of God, we must refuse to live bound by the things of this world. We must bind our fears with the words of scripture and keep them tightly in our hearts and minds. When fear creeps in and puts us in dark, confined places in our minds we must redirect our focus and attention on Jesus Christ.

There is freedom in Him.

No chains.

How you doin’?

Monday morning was a migraine day. I literally slept for about 8 hours and it was just was my body needed. I was exhausted mentally and physically which usually results in a migraine.

Tuesday morning was fueled by coffee, writing, painting at the studio, running errands and trying to check things off my to-do list. I took the help of a friend to get my kid to ball practice so that I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed and could focus on accomplishing a few more things. Yesterday morning I was talking with a friend on the phone about everything from how much Halloween candy I had managed to eat over the last few days to her son selling his car. We usually talk about all kinds of stuff…we solve all the worlds problems almost every morning. During that conversation, I had someone call on the other line that had left me a couple of messages on Monday and called me several times on Monday. I told my friend to hold on because I had to take her call. If I was being honest, I wasn’t in working mode yet and I debated on answering and calling back later…but I needed to not put her off anymore as she had to discuss things for an upcoming class this weekend. I told her about how I wasn’t ignoring her the day before and explained how my Monday was a no good, awful, terrible day. Instead of just saying, “awe, I’m sorry”, like most of us tend to do these days, she told me that she wanted to pray for me.

As soon as we finished talking about the details of this weekend’s paint class, she prayed over me and asked for blessings over me, my ministry and business.

Wow. What a blessing. What an encouragement.

How many times do we put off talking to someone because we got so much other stuff going on and we end up missing a blessing in the process. Now, I am not saying that she would have not done the same thing later in the day, but truth is I need that prayer in the exact moment that I sat in my husband’s truck waiting to pull our the driveway. It helped me to realign my focus and reminded me that even when I feel like I can’t seem to manage everything piled on my plate, I have people praying for me…speaking life over me, my family and my business. I wouldn’t be sitting here right now without those prayers. Many people don’t realize or know, because I didn’t share it with many, but there was a time just a couple of months ago that I didn’t think I was going to be able to keep my studio open. Rising costs and sales that seemed to tank all at once had me feeling discouraged. I probably cried a whole lot about things out of my control over the last couple of months. I am still not quite sure what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. I know that without Him, I can do nothing. I just keep pressing on and trusting the Lord to open doors and put me in front of the right people at the right time. He is faithful to do so. I have actually in the last couple of weeks turned down jobs that I just couldn’t do, because of time and honestly they weren’t profitable to me or my business…but I did them because I didn’t know how to say no. I am learning that sometimes no leads to a greater YES. God replaced those jobs I was doing for free or where I was losing money with paying jobs I wasn’t even expecting to receive. I have seen things work out and God take care of some things that I would have never dreamed possible…and I know He isn’t done yet.

So, just like that lady yesterday on the other end of my phone, will you pray for me?. I feel as though I am being selfish, but I know that prayer changes things. I have this vision in my head and I ask that you just pray for that vision. I know God is able to do exceedingly above what I could ever think or imagine and I am trusting Him for that. Will you do that for me?

Mercy. I unpacked a lot this morning, but sometimes I just enjoy sitting down at my computer at writing out my emotions and letting you know how I’m doin’ over here in my little piece of the world. Sometimes the stories are funny, sometimes they are sad, but I always keep it real. I also enjoy looking back and having the documentation of the unseen hand of God on things that were blinded to me in the moment, yet later revealed.

Isn’t that awesome?

So, enough of my rambling because I do have lots to accomplish today as I know you do, too! Before I sign off, I wanna know how you doin’?

I’ve asked you to pray for me, but I want to pray for you. I want to encourage you knowing your situation and your life is being prayed over and God is going to work out the details for you, just like He will for me. We are all in this thing called life together…lets pray for one another, check on each other and when someones tells us how they doin’…let’s take them to the throne of heaven in prayer!

Rolling up our Sleeves

If someone would have told 15 year old Ashlee that she would be where she is today, she would have laughed at them with a shy grin and probably wouldn’t have even looked ‘em in the eye. God absolutely has a sense of humor and managed to transform me into someone with a loud mouth, bold speech and at times, the clothes I wear are just as loud. Those that didn’t know me when I was younger, find it hard to believe that I would ever be nervous talking in front of someone, but I can remember being so nervous to present a science fair project in front of my class in middle school I almost puked right there on the hypothesis of which brand of bubble gum blows the biggest bubble.

God gave me great bosses when I worked in the “corporate world” that poured into me professionally and also personally…He placed me in roles and situations outside of my then profession that required me to go outside my comfort zone. Most importantly, I have always had friends and family that encouraged me and supported me. For that, I am thankful. God put me where he wanted me all those many years ago to prepare me for today and also for my future. Now, did always choose to do what he wanted me to do? Absolutely not. Sometimes, it took me a little longer to get somewhere because I chose to go my own way instead of just following Him, but even in my careless decisions, He still had a purpose for me. Do I believe that His purpose is fulfilled and He is finished with me? Absolutely not. He will use me as long as I will let Him. I just got to trust Him and not be afraid.

Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and sound judgement.”

Lately, I have doubted my strength. I am scared to say things that maybe God would have me to say, because…well…everyone gets offended. We live in a day and age when you can’t say something (even if it is scripturally based and truth from the Word of God) without a comment or clap-back from someone voicing their opinion. Why ruffle feathers when I don’t need to, is what I find myself saying a lot. I’ve also written words on a page to rip them up and start all over. But…

Aren’t we called to speak truth in season and out season?
Aren’t we called to be salt and light?
Aren’t we called to be bold and unwavering?
Aren’t we called to run with endurance the race set before us?
Aren’t we called to speak truth in love?

It’s hard isn’t it?

Well, that’s why I love this scripture so much from 2 Timothy. It tells us that fear doesn’t come from God. From Him comes power, love and sound judgement. I know we all struggle with some type of fear. It may be fear of flying…it may be fear of public speaking…it may even be fear of rejection or fear of confrontation. To deal with those fears, we must know that they don’t come from God. It could be our personalities or a weakness that we have, but fear is not from our Father in heaven.

The enemy seeks to paralyze you with fear, but God wants to mobilize you with a purpose!

In these days boldness matters, just as it did when Paul was writing to Timothy. Without it, we can’t fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. His purpose for our life isn’t making money, being entertained, getting everything want, being comfortable, buying the nicest car or having the biggest house.

It’s about using our lives to touch His people and help a needy world. A needy world without a hope.
God expects us to take his power, love and a sound mind and go out and spread the Gospel. He works with our personality, but He can also mold our personalities for His purpose!

Timothy was maybe a timid man with a large responsibility…but he also could have been a man with normal courage who had a gigantic responsibility.

That’s you and me. We may be shy or maybe we aren’t…but we have an enormous responsibility before us. Sometimes it needs to be developed over 25 years and then other times it may come easier, but nevertheless, the mission is still the same.

If God has placed a calling on your life, walk in it boldly and unapologetically. You must not fear.

You have the power of God within you and refuse to be shaken from the lies of the enemy. Roll up your sleeves, shake your fist at him and stir up the gifts that are within you!

We have work to do for the Lord! This generation needs women like us to bridge the gap between the world and a Savior named Jesus.

Complaints

Do you find yourself complaining a lot?

I didn’t count, but I know I complained about the price of food at Sam’s Club while shopping last night, my kid being on his phone too much, how generally rude people are, how little I managed to accomplish in my day off…and that’s just what I remember from yesterday in this moment.

If we really sat down and thought of all the negative things we say and the complaints we make in a day, it would probably be quite staggering in numbers. I have been trying to put more thought into what comes from my lips…because scripture clearly says that death and life are in the power of the tongue… and we choose whether our words are swords or seeds.

I want to be cultivating instead of cutting.

In Philippians 2:14, Paul says, “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.” (HCSB)

Our complaining separates us from God. The enemy uses the words that we speak to build strongholds in our minds through our complaints. You know how it is…one complaint leads to two, three and then before you know it you are literally fussing and arguing about everything from the color of your shirt being teal instead of turquoise to “I can’t believe that the preacher would say that from the pulpit!”

When we choose to complain, argue and grumble about situations that involve us or don’t involve us, we are just giving the enemy a foothold in our minds to create a command center for complaints to take over!

If the world sees someone who calls themselves a Christian complaining continuously, we are displaying a clouded view of who Christ is and the power over this world that resides within us. Complaints contribute to death and as believers in the finished work of Calvary we should be about bringing forth life with our words, so that others hear speech that shines like stars in a dark world.

Our words should not be clouding others view of our Savior, but spotlighting Him with soothing words that tear down the strongholds in our minds dominated by the enemy.

Let’s allow Christ to control us…not complaints.

The Right Way

Yesterday afternoon, my seventeen year old and I had a deep discussion about theology, relationships with Christ and doctrine. We talked a little about worship and a lot about what the Word of God says. As I got up this morning and rushed to get out the door, my mind was fixed in time on yesterday afternoon at my desk with the Bible open to 1 Corinthians 15.

Did I say the right things?

Did I help him understand the questions he had?

Our conversation was cut short when he received a phone call and he asked could he go with his friend to the fire department…which has quickly became something he enjoys and is eager to learn more about, but I didn’t want to lose this opportunity when he was eager to hear what God says in His Word.

I think those two questions I asked myself will always be what we have when someone asks us about what we believe and why we believe. It is human nature, as we will always feel we fall short trying to explain how big God is in relation to our finite minds. As we were reading scripture together and talking, I kept reminding him of these things…

It’s easy to get caught up in the church, but more importantly we must be caught up in Christ.

Don’t focus on the where you worship, but Who you worship.

Read the Bible, study for yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to help you discern what is right and wrong. The Spirit always will bear witness to what is of God.

There will always be fires that you have to put out around you figurative and maybe literally as you learn more at the fire department, but make sure that the fire within you burns intensely for the Lord.

Heaven will be filled with those who trusted in Jesus, not those that trust in a denomination.

It’s not about religion and a way of thinking, but a relationship with the Savior.

Let Jesus be The King of your life. Nothing else comes before Him.

Lastly, I told him that this world has tried so hard to blur the lines between what is of God and what is not of God, so it is so important to study and show yourself approved. When you know God, you know what is of Him and what is not…but when you are unsure, it is easy to be lured in by the enemy. Stay sober and watchful.

Before the phone rang and he would be running downstairs to quickly clean his room so he could leave, I reminded him that I was saved when I was 15 years old, but chose to do things my way most of the time instead of following the Lord. Because of that, I made stupid decisions and walked hard roads that I wouldn’t have had to walk, if I would have let Jesus be The King of my life instead of my own desires.

I spend a lot of time telling my kids of my own failures and mistakes, because I don’t want them to make the same ones, but also reminding them that the same grace that covered mine, is the same one that covers theirs, also.

As I sit in the same place as I was yesterday typing out these words, I am overwhelmed with the goodness of Lord. Sometimes we feel like we need to shove Jesus down the throats of our kids to try and stay one step ahead of the enemy. But, if we keep praying and trusting the Lord, He is faithful to bring them to us hungry with an appetite to hear, learn and grow in Him.

When we focus on the main thing, Jesus and the gospel, which is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, we can’t go wrong.

Messy Masterpieces Podcast

My friend Megan and I recorded our first podcast today with a little introduction and our first podcast will drop tomorrow evening and every Wednesday following!

I hope you will join us on this journey as we try to encourage, uplift and spread the love of Jesus through our messes!

You can find us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts!

Apple

Spotify

A Race to Run

This morning I came back to my studying of “walking with God” and I reading about the “heroes of faith” in Hebrews. As I was looking at two people mentioned in Old Testament scripture that walked with God, Enoch and Noah, they are also mentioned in Hebrews for their faith.

I have read Hebrews 11 in times past, but never from the aspect of walking with God. These two people are mentioned, along with many others. Can I assume that all these other people walked with God, too? I don’t like to assume, but I can say that it was by faith that Enoch was taken away and it was by faith. Also by faith, Noah was motivated to build an ark. It was by faith that he condemned the world and became and heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Okay, so I believe it would be safe to say that if you want to walk with God, you must live by faith? I encourage you, if you have never read the book of Hebrews 11, take time today to read it and look at what faith does. Faith and walking with God go hand in hand…no pun intended.

So, as I get up to process my thoughts and pour another cup of coffee and sit down at the makeshift desk that is my dining room table, my eyes end up at the beginning of Chapter 12 and a drawing of a runner I put in my Bible years ago. This part of verse 2 is highlighted:

“Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the souther and perfecter of our faith.”

My spirit got excited and I couldn’t help but think…

I am not called to just walk…I AM CALLED TO RUN!

Run with endurance.
Run with my eyes fixed on Jesus.

At the beginning of the verse it says that we have a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us and we have to lay aside every weight and the sin that easily entangles us.

My spirit got excited again and I couldn’t help but think…

I GOT A RACE TO FINISH!

There are people watching.
There is no place for the weight of sin when you are running. It’s got to go!

You don’t see someone running the Boston Marathon with stuff on their back. They aren’t looking behind them at what happened at mile 2 when they are on mile 15. They are fixed on the prize…Breaking that ribbon across their waist at the finish line. People are watching and their endurance is unmatched because of training. They ain’t worried about the crowd to the left and the right. They are looking ahead. It’s not about the medal, it’s being able to say that you finished!

My spirit got excited again and I couldn’t help but think…

ALL THIS WALKING IN THE WORD IS TRAINING!

I am keeping my eyes focused on what is ahead…not what everyone around me is doing. I’m walking slow at times, but you gonna find me running most days…’cause I got my eyes on the prize. It’s not a trophy…it’s not even a crown.

It’s the words, “Well done, my child. Well done.”

People, please

I sometimes feel the journey that God has me on right now is very isolating. Not because he doesn’t want me to be around people, but sometimes the words I say aren’t very popular.

I’m a people pleaser.

Sheesh, God has a sense of humor.

When I write sometimes, I am even hesitant to post those words on the screen, because I feel like someone is going to take offense or think I am being “too preachy”. Honestly, most of the time I am being “preachy” to myself…and just choose to share on a public platform for others to read and hopefully see the Jesus that I know. I like to challenge people to live above the world…as hard as it is…because we are called to do so as children of The Most High.

Here I am getting all preachy, but we as believers have a poor way of representing Christ. We talk about wanting to reach people for Christ, but our words and actions do not line up with scripture. We are anything but a representation of Christ…except for a Bible verse on our social media profile.

We do everything the world does and then try to reach people for the Lord. It doesn’t work that way. The people that are lost in this world are watching us as believers and we are to be the representation of Jesus…we are the Jesus that they see. The way we dress, the way we talk, the way we treat people…and we are displaying a poor example.

Hear me out. I am guilty. God has shown me in His Word that if we want to live above this world, we must walk with Him. If we are walking with Him, then we don’t have to worry about getting on the paths of this world.

Read this out loud to yourself.

I am the closest thing to God that some people will ever see.

If we are trying to tell our lost neighbors about a God that we aren’t walking with ourselves, how will they know which way to go. They are already without a hope in this world, so don’t leave them questioning their directions.

Lord, teach me Your ways. Just as You used ordinary and unlikely men and women in scripture to be your disciples and walk with You physically…help me to walk with You through the Holy Spirit. I am nothing special and probably unlikely given all the junk that is buried in my life…but I want you to lead me into the paths of righteousness. You weren’t a people please, either…you just wanted them to see The Way, The Truth and The Life that is You.

I want to be a reflection of you, Lord. When others have spent time with me, they see You.

Your love.

Your grace.

Your peace.

Help me not to be a people pleaser, but send me people, please…that I can encourage in Your Word and point in the direction of You and only You!

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28: 19-20