Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Testimony Tuesday - Meet Ashley

Today's Testimony is brought to you by one of my sweet blogging friends Ashley.  Back in my early 20's - I had a pastor who I dearly loved and every once in a while his daughter and family would come and visit and I remember their cute 4 kids.  Well fast forward several years ago and Ashley and I connected through our blogs and I realized she was the oldest of those 4 cute kids.   Ashley and I are kindred spirits in SO many ways.  Her Evy and Harper are about a month apart and I've loved watching all of her kids grow.  We have even been lucky enough to get together in person and hopefully will do so again! I know Ashley has an amazing heart for the Lord and I'm so thankful she was willing to share with y'all today! 

My name is Ashley and I blog at Our Happily Ever Afters

I started blogging four months into my marriage in 2007, and it's become one of my biggest hobbies and greatest experiences. I consider myself an artistic, intentional, and passionate person. I am the oldest of four children, and my father is a pastor. I consider this a great privilege and I am so blessed to have been raised in a Christian home. You can read about the places I've lived here

My husband and I met in the summer of 2006 through a series of very God-ordained events. Kurt is an anesthesiologist, and we love to travel together. We also enjoy trying new restaurants and watching movies/documentaries together. We are best friends and I'm so, so thankful to have such a godly leader!

I am also the extremely proud stay-at-home-mommy to three beautiful children! Evy (rhymes with Chevy) has the sweetest little personality and is so full of joy. We adopted our precious son Liam from South Korea in 2011. He is our sunshine and has the biggest smile in the world! Although Evy was born to us through pregnancy, the Lord clearly led us to international adoption for our second little one. We have been so blessed to be a part of something so spiritually significant! Lynley Adele was born to us (again through pregnancy) on May 20, 2013! I call her my Little Duckling, and she is just the most cuddly, happy little girl. We feel so tremendously blessed to have the privilege of parenting these three incredible little souls. These are the BEST days of our lives!

My little family lives in the southern Midwest but I've lived all over the place, including London for a semester! :) This has definitely shaped who I am. I passionately love England and all things Royal Family! I LOVE Disney World and enjoy planning trips to my favorite place. Our family loves serving at church (we're Southern Baptist in doctrine). We both serve in worship ministry and really enjoy it. Kurt teaches an adult LifeGroup (Sunday School) class and also various discipleship classes. I help with "Rally Room" (preschool worship time) in our preschool ministry and I coordinate all of our Women's Ministry events. I absolutely love it! God has blessed us with a wonderful church family and we are so honored to serve Him.

I am so honored to share my testimony with you today, and I'm so thankful that Kelly asked me to be a part of this series. It's a joy to know her and call her my friend!

I was born not only into a Christian home, but into a Christian heritage. I can't express how much of a blessing I know that is. I was immersed in learning about Jesus literally from birth. I remember my first Bible. The pictures are still etched in my memory! For instance, this is the story of Elisha, and how the woman made a room for him to stay in. This picture had such an impact on me, it confirmed my calling to be a hospitable hostess at all times. Haha! Not really, but I did go on my grandfather's TV show at the time at the age of 2 or 3 and tell the whole story of Elisha (and made sure he knew it wasn't ELIJAH). The story ended with Prince Charming finding Cinderella and giving her the glass slipper back.

Anyway, I was surrounded by it. My first remembrance of realizing Jesus' sacrifice for me was when I was about 5 and watched a video of our former church, First Baptist Orlando's, production called "The Light." It was the story of Christ with drama and music, and like a Broadway production. When Jesus was crucified, I remember sobbing to my mom and saying "But he didn't do anything wrong." I couldn't understand why Jesus had to die, but I distinctly remember my heart being drawn to Him.

Not long after that, when I was 6, I accepted Christ as my Savior. My mom knelt with me by our couch in Oklahoma and I expressed to the Lord that I wanted Him to be in my heart. I wasn't baptized until I was 9, because my dad wasn't the senior pastor at our church in Oklahoma, and I had a phobia of walking to someone that wasn't my dad! Deep, I know! But also, baptism is a public profession of your faith in Jesus, and I think it was a positive thing for me to wait. I was ready at that age and had come into a fuller understanding of what a relationship with Jesus means.

So at Lynwood (the first time my family served there), I was baptized by my dad. It was something I'll never forget. When I was about 12, my family was at the Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico and I had a crisis of faith moment. I was crying in bed, because I just felt the need to nail down my salvation with the Lord, which I did.

Throughout junior high and high school I was always involved in church and never wandered from the Lord. But just because someone doesn't openly "wander" doesn't mean they aren't wandering. One of many examples is I have struggled throughout my entire Christian life with really studying God's Word and having a quiet time. For some reason, I just lacked the discipline, and it was (and sometimes still is) something I'm ashamed of. It's nothing but laziness and sheer complacency. 

I'm a sinner, and of course I've done and said things that I'm not proud of, which I will not enumerate on my blog or in this post. The list would never end. I am a sinner, and there's nothing worse than clearly knowing I've displeased my Lord! I've claimed the grace and forgiveness of Christ more times than should be allowed a human being. Do you ever feel that way? No, I never struggled with drugs, alcohol, or even necessarily a time of rebellion, but Satan knows where to attack you. He is so specific in knowing where your weaknesses are. And trust me, he tries His best to get to me. All the time. Every day. Sin is sin, and NO ONE is exempt.

When was newly pregnant with Evy, I heard a sermon at church by our interim pastor (my family had recently moved). It was about confirming your salvation. Something in me clicked that if I was going to be a parent and steer a child in the way of the Lord, I needed to get with it. You can read my post that I wrote at the time HERE. It explains everything. But, in a nutshell, I recommitted by life to Christ in the fall of 2008.

I still struggle with having a time with the Lord (and other areas of sin in my life), but I've seen how God is continually teaching me. Using the quiet time example, this might be shocking, but I don't think a quiet time is the end-all be-all of the Christian journey. YES, we should commune with God, study His Word and be still to let Him speak! But I've found that since becoming a mother I've had the most deep, meaningful experiences with God. You can't have a child (whether it be biologically, through adoption, etc.) without seeing a miracle of God. It is absolutely life-changing. My moments with God come very organically, if that's the right word. For instance, I look at Evy Kate when she's sleeping and I cry. "Lord!" I think to myself, "My heart can't contain the love I have for this child!" And then I'll just sense: "Ashley. This is just a fraction of how much I love you. I sent my Son--that my heart can't contain love for--to die for you because I love you that much." There are some things you just can't get from a devotional book alone. There has to be a continual conversation with God and a desire to hear His voice. 

So that's where I am today. That's the condensed version, because I've had many spiritually defining moments in my life, but that's the gist. I used to think that since I don't have this horrid past, I didn't have a testimony. No. I think I'm an example to someone who thinks, "I've never done anything awful. I don't need a Savior." Everyone needs a Savior. Like I said, sin is sin. Our human minds try to give sin a hierarchy, like one is worse than the other, when in reality - we are all separated from God because we live in a sinful world. Even if you can't grasp your sin problem, at the very least you must be desiring an abundant life here on earth and knowing for certain that when you die, you will spend eternity with Jesus. And trust me, that's what He gives. If you aren't sure about where you stand with the Lord, or have any questions about what I've written, please email me. God has been so faithful to me, and I am constantly in awe that He loves me and passionately desires a relationship with me!

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