January 2014Walking Worthy: January 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

30 Blessings

Today I turn 30. I have been pondering all that God has done in my life and I wanted to share 30 blessings with you. Some are serious, some are light. Some are not complete thoughts. Just rambling blessings!

  1. Joy Garner (my Mom): she taught me how to work hard, that doing the right thing is always right, the importance of immediately putting my dishes in the dish washer, the joy of serving my church, the love of reading, how to love people others might deem unlovable, how to serve others without expecting anything, how to be intentional, & how to make the best sweet and sour pork and the best chicken fried steak. (Plus a million another things)
  2. Rick Garner (my Dad): he taught me to love the Word, to get up early and study and pray, how to pray, how to love my pastor, how to give joyfully, how to bake a cake from scratch, how to be bold in my faith.(The list could go on!)
  3. My husband: I continue to be amazed by how God knew exactly what He was doing when He put us together. I am so blessed to be married to this man who loves Jesus, loves people, makes me laugh every day, encourages me to walk worthy, to trust Jesus, to love others. He is awesome, sorry ladies, but he is all mine!
  4. Marriage: Last night I was sitting across a gym watching my husband realizing we have been married for two years. And it still blows me away that God has blessed me with this thing called marriage. God has used marriage to expose my sin and make me into His likeness in ore ways than I would like to share on this blog. And it blesses me. Marriage used to be an idol in my life, I am now able to view it as a blessing and a gift and not something to be worshiped!
  5. My Garcia family: I am so grateful for this family the Lord gave me when I married Greg. I am grateful for their love and encouragement. They have taken me in and loved me well. I am blessed to be apart of the Garcia family!
  6. Elizabeth Autrey: Littlebeth and I have been friends for 26 years. She has walked through so many things with me. I have learned so much about mercy from this woman. She bleeds mercy. I am grateful for her lifelong friendship.
  7. Ashley Pelter: The day I walked into my freshman dorm I was worried if our friendship would work. I had prayed and prayed for this roommate God had given me. I am blessed to say He knew exactly what He was doing. Ashley taught me how a friend could be totally unlike you and be your perfect compliment. We are opposites in so many ways, but I am grateful that God placed her in my life.
  8. 3 Ashley(e)’s and A Kristen: In college God gave me three friends that were like sisters. They were the best roommates. I miss them terribly and wish I could see them more often. They were a total God send to me and I am so grateful to have been able to walk through college with them.
  9. Trials: Yep, this one is weird I know. I am blessed by the shattered heart I used to have and my Mom’s breast cancer. I am blessed, because of all that the trials taught me about following Jesus. In each of these God called to me in a dark place. He wrapped His arms around me and sweetly spoke His Truth to me. It was in these valleys that I learned how to hear the voice of the Lord, how to find my identity in Jesus, and how to walk in His Truth.
  10. Precept Ministries: It was at Precept that I first learned how to study the Word for myself. I met people my age who really desired to walk with Jesus. I saw young men who were Godly and it encouraged me to wait for God’s best. I saw God’s Word come alive and realized it wasn’t over my head. Precept totally changed me, and I am blessed by the work and the people of Precept.
  11. David & BJ Lawson: I know them because of Precept, but they are in a category on their own. They encourage me, speak truth into me, guide me in ministry. They are a huge blessing in my past and my present.
  12. The Word: I often take for granted the blessing that the Word is, the encouragement it gives, the instruction it brings, the way it shapes me.
  13. Ministry: my senior year of college God called me into ministry. I have spent the last 13 years serving the Lord in various capacities. Ministry has taught me how to trust the Lord deeper, how to let things go, how to have fun and speak truth in the same breath. I am blessed for this work that God has called me to.
  14. My Girls: The girls of our ministry bless me all the time. They have cleaned my apartment, put away my dishes, bought me coffee, watched movies and baked with me. They have revealed my sin, spoken words of encouragement, and loved me all along the way. Recently the Lord has reminded my time with them is short and to not take any of it for granted.I am blessed to serve these precious girls of mine!
  15. The Fab 4: Okay, so I made up this name, we really don’t call ourselves that. But I have this group of friends from work, and I could not do life without them. They pray for me, they encourage me, we cry, we laugh, we share our stress. The four of us understand eachother’s work like no one else does and being together, just makes the hard times better.
  16. Roommates: I am happy to say, I have taken on my last roommate. ;) But over the years I have been blessed to live with some awesome women. They have all taught me different things. God has used each of them to shape who I am. Jenna introduced me to Shane and Shane. Allyson showed me the beauty of caprese. Amy revived my love of girlie things. Denae taught me how to serve others well. I am grateful for these women!
  17. My Job: I am blessed to work at a job where I get to serve churches across the state of Texas. I work with some of the best people. They are a true joy. I am blessed to work for a Godly boss who loves Jesus and is bold to share his faith at every venue we walk into.
  18. My church: I am blessed to serve a church that loves the gospel. I am blessed by a pastor who I see God continuing to work and move and stir in his heart. I am blessed by a church family, that really is like family.
  19. The Stowe Family: They have adopted us, or we adopted them. They have allowed us into their home and their family. They feed us, encourage us, speak truth to us. They are a place of refuge for us.
  20. Lifegroup: a small group of young married couples. We meet weekly. They encourage us, pray for us, and remind us that we are not alone. They also play really funny pranks on your husband that make his heart stop beating.
  21. Watching my children walk with Jesus: I’m talking about my spiritual kids of course (no mom, I am not pregnant) 3 John 1:4- I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth.
  22. A song on the radio this morning that reminded me of all God has done
  23. Getting to teach my favorite book and encourage my girls to seek their identity in Jesus
  24. Sweet gifts and words of affirmation from friends and family.
  25. Skittles: when I open a bag that is the real original and doesn’t have those nasty green apple ones. Lime is the real green people.
  26. Anything New Mexican: green chile, turquoise, sunsets, stars...did I say green chile :)
  27. This blog: writing soothes my soul. I am encouraged when I see how many people read what I write. When you read this blog, it blesses me.
  28. Texts, facebook posts, Instagram messages, and real mail. Two words: encouragement & love
  29. Finding the blog: Grace Covers Me. My friend Randi (of the Fab 4) suggested it to me. This church plating wife is a constant encouragement to me.
  30. Seeing and hearing about my friends serving Jesus across the world. I have friends who were serving Jesus has church planters, missionaries, and disciple makers all over America and the World. It is my joy to pray for them and the opportunities God gives them.
So there you have it...30 blessings on my 30th birthday!

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Call Me the Girl with Bread

I took a bite into the soft, warm rosemary bread and delight flowed through me. “Mmmhhh” was all I could say. It tasted exactly how I had imagined, but better. I had waited all day for this bite and it was wonderful. This strange warm happiness rushed through me. Yes, over one little piece of rosemary bread. I know it sounds totally ridiculous.

I never would have imagined that God could use one little bite to convict me so deep. “Ashlee,” He sweetly whispered. “Ashlee, Do you delight in me like you are delighting in that little piece of bread?” Immediately my heart sunk. It sunk, because I knew the answer. I hung my head embarrassed.  And God sweetly and gently pulled me in and called me to delight in Him. My mind was taken back to Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.” And there I stood my heart breaking, my head hanging over one little piece of bread.

You see I really do love the Lord and I truly desire to follow Him, but I am not sure I know what it means to delight in Him. I am not sure I know what it means to really relish in who He is. Recently, while studying covenant, God convicted me hard about the joy of being His covenant partner. God revealed to me that I was wearing His robe of righteousness as a robe of burden, instead of as a robe joy. At the time we were studying about David and Jonathan and what it means to exchange robes in covenant, and I caught myself saying, can you imagine how special David felt to wear the robe of a prince? So now that I look back, I can see how God has been preparing the way for this little word: delight

So there I stood a girl with bread and I knew that God had given me a word to focus on in 2014. I really didn’t want to do the trendy, bloggy, thing and pick a word for the year. Yet as I prayed about it further I felt the Lord pulling me in and showing me that I need to learn to delight in Him, in His Word, in His people, and in the ministry He has given me.

I sit here, still thinking about that little piece of bread, and grateful that God would use it to show me such a deep truth that I was ignoring. As I walk through 2014, delight will be my trendy, bloggy, word of the year. Join me as I learn how to delight in Jesus, in the Word, in His people, and in ministry.

Yep, just call me the girl with bread. 
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Blessed are the Gentle

 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

Check out the latest blog post I wrote for Transform Student Ministry about what it means to walk with gentleness.
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Friday, January 10, 2014

Jesus is Better

Dear Precious Daughter in Jesus,

Please be on guard. Bitterness is captivating your heart. I know that the enemy is sneaking around you whispering lies into your heart. I know those lies, they sound good to you right now. But Truth remains and they are still lies. And sweet one, you are listening. Have you forgotten that the enemy is a liar? The enemy wants you to believe these things are true. He needs you to believe they are true. He wants you to harbor them and let them grow. Bitterness is worse than a vine that twists and turns itself around and around until is chokes out life. Bitterness is stronger and darker. Beware precious one.

Bitterness will invade your soft heart toward Jesus and harden it. And the enemy will delight in the fact that you don't desire the things of Jesus or even Jesus Himself. And he will continue to twist his tangled web of lies until you forget what is True. And again the enemy will softly speak his lies to keep you from letting go. Why? He will tell you that to let go and forgive means your are letting them off the hook. Who will punish them if you forgive? People have already forgotten what they did to you. The enemy will scream for justice in your ear. He will convince you to keep holding tight so they will be punished.  But, what you do not realize sweet daughter is the only one being punished is you.

Bitterness will make your heart dark and black. Why? Because Jesus has called you to walk in the light. And the enemy, he hates the light sweet one. The light, it exposes him for what he really is. So the enemy will swirl the lies over and over, clouding your mind until you believe that the lies are true. I see it when I look into your once bright eyes. I see that the bitterness has it's hold on you. But the lies, are still lies.

Sweet one, you have forgotten, the enemy does not rule in your heart, but Jesus does. And Jesus is always better. Jesus is bigger and sweeter and more precious than bitterness. Jesus is bigger than any wrong you feel. Jesus is able to heal your hurts. But sweet daughter in Jesus, you must let it go. Bitterness only has a grasp on your heart because you allow it to. The deep root of bitterness is only as deep as you tightly hold onto it. So you must open your hands and let the bitterness, the anger, the hurt slip through. And you must know sweet one, that letting it go, does not invalidate your hurt. It does not mean that it never happened. Jesus sees all of itt. He knows the hurt than wrecks your heart. But the enemy, he will tell you differently. That is his job as the father of lies. It is who he is, he can be nothing but what he is.

And here I sit, on the sideline seeing your hurt, watching your tears. And I understand that hurt that rules your heart. I understand the bitterness that chokes you, because I have walked it. But sweet daughter, your pain, your hurt that chokes so tightly around you, it is your god right now. Your hurt and pain are sitting on the throne that rightly belongs to Jesus. And it's idolatry. And yet I know you don't see it that way. I see the darkness in your eyes and I just want to shake you and yell at you and make you realize that Jesus is better. I want to speak a million things to you and force you to walk toward forgiveness.

Yet the Lord reminds me where the real battle is, and I sit here on the sidelines, knees bend, heart surrendered, begging and fighting on your behalf. I know you don't see it, but I am fighting for you. You are not alone. Jesus is better sweet daughter. Seek Him. Forget what lies behind and strive forward to what is ahead. Jesus is better. Oh precious one, I pray that you remember that Jesus is better, He is bigger, He is capable of more than you can imagine.

I pray that you will see that bitterness is in your hand, and you can choose to let go of it. I pray you open that hand that is held so tightly because that hand that is your own, is choking out Truth. Oh sweet one, beware, be on guard, have a sober mind. And know, all along, even in the hardness of your heart, that Jesus is better. He is sweeter. He is more precious than anything that you think is owed to you. Bitterness is nothing to Him. He is stronger, He is more than capable of helping you. Why? Because Jesus is better.
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