Thursday, August 30, 2007

Arms: Comfort

She was around 6 years old, sobbing and wet. Big blue eyes, and a mass of stringy straw colored hair. The way the little girl held on to my moms arms, you would have thought she was her beacon of light in the vast darkness. Earlier that day, my family had participated in an outing for my mom’s birthday. We rented a raft, grabbed our life vest and headed down the Rogue River. It was one of those perfect days. Not a cloud in the sky. The beautiful Oregon scenery and the cold rushing water splashing the edge of our raft. Hours passed, nearing our destination site we maneuver closer to the bank.

Suddenly, a man’s voice called out. Panic seemed to slice the perfect day. His little girl was heading down the Rogue River pulled by the chilly water. People were running down to the shore line. My Dad turned our raft around, and we began following a dot in the distance. Time was frozen glass. My arms hurt. We were making little progress, despite our effort. If someone didn’t reach the little girl soon, she would be surrounded by sharp rocks. I could hear my mom’s earnest prayers whispering through the trauma. Noise echoed giving me a headache. It was pounding, rushing water, screams, and shouts from people on shore. On lookers were pointing, a few had cell phones out dialing 911.

Then as sharply as it began peace returned to the balance. An off duty firefighter who happened to be a few feet away swam out to the girl. When, we arrived moments later, the girl scampered from her protector’s lap and into my mothers arms. There she stayed in the comfort of Grace, saved from her environment, fears, and cries…..So if you’re like me and at moments life is a rapid carrying you down stream remember… He, who measured the sky and water in the hollow of his hand, cares for you. And, He will always provide his safe arms of comfort.

Isaiah 51;3 For the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song or instrument of praise.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The line : Fear

First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. - Franklin D. Roosevelt

I believe I was in first grade, the night of the event. The night my Dad told me to go back to bed. At the time I was having nightmares, with this paralyzing fear. Begging and pleading not go to bed, I tried to get out of going to sleep. However, once the inevitable happened and I was in my room I would make the best of the situation. A fortress with my pillows, usually did the trick .. Steaming hot sweat would be drip down my face as I pulled the blanket up and over me, covering my face. Torn between feeling smothered and shutting out the shaking fear, I had chosen to be smothered.

At first my parents were sympathetic, but as the weeks turned to months their mercy grew thin. I would wake up in the middle of the night get up and go crawl into bed with them. They tried everything…. Making me listen to worship tapes when I went to bed, praying with me and even changing the list of movies I could watch. My Dad bought a baseball bat and set it next to the font door. He wanted to show me the object he would use to slaughter any intruder with. .. But nothing helped. The fear was so terrorizing and numbing that I wasn’t able to block it out.

Each dream less evening led up to me walking out of my room late one night and into the living room, where my parents were watching T.V. I expected this moment to be like all of the others, my parents trying to comfort me and tell me it was ok. I was shock to find my Dad saying:

Ashley we’re not doing this again. It ends tonight. Mom and I have tried everything we know. This is a battle you need to fight on your own.. Everyone faces fear. You think I’m never afraid? All fear does is change its subject matter as you age. I battle fear of something happening to you, your mom, and your sister. I wonder how the bills will get paid. Each day I make a choice. If you don’t draw a line in the sand daring the enemy to cross it, he will run all over you. At what point are you going to get fed up with not sleeping through the night? Now go back to bed, and deal with this fear.

I can recall thinking who is this person? I thought my Dad loved me. Why didn’t he become superman, and save me? Jumping into bed, I re-built my defense pillows, until once again the icy hand of fear touched me. But, this time I was mad. Pushing the pillows off my bed and I begin to shout, scream, yell, every scripture verse that came to my mind….. and … magic happened. The fear vaporized into a screen of smoke.

Many times we want God to save us or to hear a thus says the lord prayer….. However, it could the answer from God is, “Ashley would you please convert your retreat into a advance?.” My Dad was right fears don’t disappear with age they simply changed their subject matter. There are moments I want to become 5 years old again and cover my self with the blanket. But, then I feel the crossing line inside of me give a tug. So I do what my Dad taught me…. I go back to bed and face my fears.

For God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but of love power and a sound mind.

Friday, August 17, 2007

My Best Days: Living in the Past

My Dad, said it was an old paint gun cleaner. However, With its shape and weird angles it could have been a time machine. Liking a good joke, he along with my cousin Shane, decided to make use of their imaginations. When ever anyone would step in the paint department asking,” asking wow what in the world is that.” Their answer was oh that’s our time machine. They would then proceed to convince their victim to sit down, strap in, and let the time machine take them into the past. Of course everyone knew it wasn’t true. But, surprisingly enough, grown, logical adults, went long with it. The one exception was Jim. When asked if he would like to take a ride in time his reply was, “why would I do that? My best days are ahead of me.”

Listening to that story, like 99 percent of my Dad’s victims, I start fantasizing about what period of my life I would like to revisit. Umm maybe when im was little and my mom would serve Jordan and I homemade cookies and milk, after school. Or how about being at Sherries, talking and eating with friends till one am, Arguing with Seth Reeser and Rory…. laughing with Mindy. Of course I can’t forget playing tennis with my Dad on a cruise ship. The ocean beneath us and the stars above.

Yes, what bittersweet memory would I pick? What history of hurts would I rewrite? Because, each morning we wake up we’re writing our lives with no backspace or delete button. There isn’t any white out under the cabinet and you can’t go running to the publisher screaming you have been ripped off, mad because your story didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. You can’t ask for another published copy. This isn’t your favorite book that you can keep and reread.

You have one chance on the spot. To visit the past is like being in the middle of playing a football game and running off the field, while your team plays on. You jump in your car, and drive home. Pulling out your old VCR you put in a tape of a game you played last week. What!?! in the world are you thinking? Don’t you know it doesn’t matter if you won or lost, last weeks game….! A real live game is being played. And when you and I are constantly looking back we’re forfeiting our chances of participating.

So here I sit trying to figure out which video tape to play from my past, when the entire time I’m wasting my present. Who is to say that I won’t eat better tasting cookies today? I can still stay up till one a.m. laughing with friends or go on another cruise with my family. Why limit the “ good old days” to the past when they are in our present and future?

For me this has been a year of first experiences, death/grief, having my heart broken, moving to a new state, missing people, buying a new car, getting direction, and seeing
Dreams restored. At moments I wanted to scream GET ME OUT !. . However, I have also experienced the chilling AWWWW that comes from “finding” God in the in-between places. What If I had a time machine, would I go back? Would I reverse my losses, and relive my joys? Ummm…. Tick Tick Tick … ….breath in breath out….. no I think ill answer, “ why would I do that? When my best days are ahead of me.”

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Glass Slipper

A Castle, a Prince, and a Servant girl, yes I'm talking about the story of Cinderella. A tale about the enchantment of love. And while the story is enduring it leaves me with a lingering question. How would Cinderella have " found her prince" If she first didn't believe he existed,and that he would become part of her life?

When we look around at our lives through reality, many times we can see a shack instead of a castle. A used car sales man instead of a prince and a dirty ashen girl instead of a princess. Because every Cinderella finds out that to hope through the eyes of logic….. is to gamble.

This girl of risk was a tender of fires , a servant in her own home. The definition of the word Cinderella is, " the women who kept the house while the man hunted" . It remind of the corny caveman cartoons, " you sit, make fire cook food." Expect this day dreamer, was wanting more. She longs to be beautiful, and charming. But, instead she is covered in dirt and talks to mice all day. She spends each 24 hours caught in between what is rational and what is insane. Maybe she wasn't meant to be a princess, to live in a Castle to fall in love with a prince. It is better not to fantasize when the road leads to disappointments. She runs to the garden, way from the hurt.... then suddenly... a light flickers, then another and soon the entire garden is out lined with moving lights... think Las Vegas.What could Cinderella be thinking? Geez the fireflies sure are out early this year. Ummm maybe all of those years talking to mice has finally caught up with me. I knew something was weird about this garden......

When God begins to move in our life, our first question is Often i wonder .... where all of those fireflies came from. We want a " thus says the Lord" instead we get a still small voice... "dots of light" . Being the person that I am and wanting each dot to make sense, i start chasing the "fireflies "around the garden. I ironically I end up tripping over a stick, because i 'm dizzy. But to make sense of the "lights" is to open the book Cinderella and find the words " they lived happily ever after" on the first page. Where is the adventure in that?

We are all Cinderella in some aspect, even if its not a prince were hoping for. It could be, praying that this time there will be money left over, till the next the pay check. Believing we can get past the depression death brings. Or hoping that our parents will pick up the phone and say their sorry. I wont lie… Hope can disappoint, but without it there is no fairy tale to repeat. No Prince to be found. So have a little faith. Don’t give up Cinderella even after the stroke of midnight, God always leaves behind a glass slipper.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Some where over the rainbow… way up high there's a land that I've heard of……….. Why Oh Why…… Cant that song be true? Over the past 8 months, that is the question I have asked over and over. But, like all things in life… resounding silence is the reply… so I wait, wait for the story to make sense… then again it might be starting to become clear.

I can remember, when the TX quarters came out Ken gave Jordan one, because she talked about moving to TX so much. She was going to be a Financial Adviser, and go to LakeWood church( where joel Osteen pastors)and live in TX. All that can be said concerning the situation, was that it was a Dream that she dared to dream really would come true.

It's a hard place to be , having an idea and not knowing how to proceed.
Jordan talked to four financial investor each from different companies. They all gave her advice. Schooling was a must. The best rout taken was to start as an assistant and to go to school part time. So Jordan applied for an assistant position, at Edward Jones. We knew someone who worked there, and she had banking experience. The chances looked good. Plus It didn't seem like a lot of people had applied for the job. She put in her application….
And got denied. Now, Jordan has been talking about being a Financial Adviser for the last 7years, so disappointment was inevitable. One day I went into her room and sat on her bed. She asked me where she should go from this point. Should she go to school full time? Keep working at the bank and try again later? I said nothing … I had no answer.

For a long period in my life I had no answers… to give anyone. Why hadn't our house sold? Why did almost all of my close friends " have to" leave? Why did my grandpa died? Why oh why must change happen? I wanted my troubles to melt like lemon-drops……..

By the time our family moved to TX.. I felt num. I couldn't eat or sleep.
Nothing was left, so I wasn't surprised when Jordan didn't express much interest in pursuing her career at the moment. We were all exhausted.
However, my dad told her she should speak to the Financial Rep our parents invested with at Edward Jones. Jordan agree, and from that point every door that had been slammed in her face previously was now opened. She moved along at such a smooth pace that it even surprised the people interviewing her.
Not a single person she spoke with could articulate how she had gotten that far in the hiring process.

Its enough to make me wonder… what if we had moved sooner? What if Jordan wasn't available at the time they were avidly hiring for the company? What if our grandpa hadnt died after we had moved….. would It have left a bad taste in our mouth concerning TX? And what if my friends hadn't left one by one? Would I have been able to handle going from lots of friends to none at all? Yes from time to time I play the what if game. … only to realize that perhaps there was a plan, a timing, to each sadness we experienced.

I held a piece of paper a few days ago. It was a " we regret to inform you"
letter. Jordan told me to turn it over… Awww the Edward Jones denial letter, on the back Jordan had written, I wont let this make me give up. Standing before me was my sister….. A girl who tried to get a job as an Assistant to a Financial Adviser.. Instead she is going to be the " adviser" with her own office.. With her assistant. She is a 10%. Edward Jones only hire 10% of the those who apply. The only one out of the fifty in her class that doesn't have a degree. She is a women in a male dominated field. Jordan is living in Tx, working as a financial adviser, and going to High Point church( the church joel osteens sister and brother-inlaw pastor) Umm It could be the resounding silence is the broken pieces starting to click into place.

If you can look beyond my silly little antidotes… beyond the song… you might find that because of the disappointments and joys life has handed out, your a better person today then you were yesterday. We all wish upon a star hoping it will come true. And, while the star can't save us there is someone who knows every thought we think. He weaves our life with wild perfection, so don't give up on your dreams. Each " dead end" God has brought you through, did have a purpose. It leads you somewhere over the rainbow… straight to his faithfulness

Roses are Red my Love

There is an old song by Bobby Vinton titled Roses Are Red My Love. My Dad used to sing it to me when I was elementary school age. At first I had a strong dislike for the song, and then it escalated into hate. The song made me cry, no matter how hard I tried not to. And, my Dad being the jokester he is, would sing Roses Are Red My Love just to annoy me. From the tune alone I would have tears streaming down my face.

My Dad was perplexed, a six year old couldn’t relate to the topic of romantic love.

The song lyrics are:

A long, long time ago On graduation day You handed me your book I signed this way: Roses are red, my love. Violets are blue. Sugar is sweet, my love. But not as sweet as you. We dated through high school. And when the big day came, I wrote into your book, Next to my name: Roses are red, my love. Violets are blue. Sugar is sweet, my love. But not as sweet as you. Then I went far away And you found someone new I read your letter dear And I wrote back to you: Roses are red, my love. Violets are blue. Sugar is sweet, my love. But good luck may god bless you. Is that your little girl? She looks a lot like you. Someday some boy will write In her book, too. Roses are red, my love. Violets are blue. Sugar is sweet, my love. But not as sweet as you

Being the detective that my Dad is he began to drill me. What part of the song makes you sad Ashley? Several songs I sing are sad, how come you cry at this one? My reply was I didn’t know…..

It is only now that I’m able to articulate my thoughts on the subject. Simply stated, I can’t stand the feeling of regret woven through out the song. The little girl was a symbol of what was lost, what could have been.

An ironic part of regret is its correlation with unforgiveness. I say I’m a forgiving person … but you know how I measure the truth of my statement? By monitoring the level of regret’s in my life… God uses all things for his glory, even our failures. So when I live in a place of regret (motivated by feelings) either I haven’t forgiven, my self, God or someone else.

The highest concrete evidence I have is, I’m tired of crying……. crying over myself, crying to God and crying about someone else. Forgiveness is honey that heals each broken place. Here is a question I would like to purpose: is there anything in your life that you regret? And if the answer is yes then maybe your not excepting the grace God gave you, to forgive..

Personally I don’t want to look back like the man in Roses are Red my Love who sang

Is that your little girl? She looks a lot like you. Someday some boy will write In her book, too.

It is that song, that melody of regret, which constantly persuades me to forgive.

Paper Clip

Have you ever noticed… the way people walk? I remember the first pageant Jordan was in, they spent time teaching her how to walk. Where to place your feet, which foot goes in font…. I’m sure it was a lot of work. After the pageant I proclaimed to Jordan and my entire family that I would never be in a pageant. I couldn’t walk a crossed a stage in high hills much less in a bathing suit. In fact, when I was in Auxiliary I was so bad at placing my feet to the timing …. I was given a personal assistant to teach me. It took all day, and when it was announced that “Ashley “could walk to rhythm, I had a group of onlookers who applauded.

I am “that girl” the one who is forever tripping over a box a hundred feet away from her. On several occasions I have almost face planted it in font of a customer…. Lets be honest, if I cant walk in flip flops with out making a mess of my self then, I would hate to imagine walking in 2inch hills. Anyone who can dance, literally amazes me. There was a classmate in high school on the dance team that it seems as if she was floating on air with each step she took.

Yes there are many ways people walk. You have your business man on a mission he looks like a bulldozer, to any poor victim trapped in his walking path. Your dancers who glide and make walking look like art. There is even the Occasional we’re just sooooooooo wonderful “ you need “ to watch the way we move people.

Some times in the mist of such great walkers I feel inadequate and embarrassed. God why do I have to be the person who would trip over a paper clip? I get hung up on feeling insecure that I miss the point, God never told us how to walk he simply said that we should. Who cares if you’re a dancer, a bulldozer, a paper clip, or a need to watch the way I move…… it’s the movement that matters. Fear of failing, disappointments can paralyze us…. Which is the worse kind of walking! Standing still.

A quote from the move ever after says it the best.
although they did live happily ever after, the point gentlemen is that they lived …

Put aside your fears, and insecurities , Take the chance to live, to walk even if you are a paper clip girl like me.