Day 5 of 150 Days of Psalm Challenge

Hello Friends,

Welcome back to 150 days of Psalms Challenge. Friends, today was a challenge. I have so many blessings coming my way right now, but I’m also battling my own demons. It’s confusing to be honest. My blessings are coming at a time that I feel undeserving because I find myself summoning to the desires of my demons. I have to remind myself that this is not my fight, but sometimes the weight of the world becomes too must be bear. Either way, I wanted to get that off of my chest. That’s my “whoa is me” moment for the post.

My sponsor says I have to work on being consistent and forth coming with my truth. Unfortunately, that’s the one thing that I suck at the most; consistency! I say that to say, I apologize if any of you have been waiting for a chapter five post, but I also believe that everything happens in Gods timing, so hopefully this comes right on time for someone. It did for me.

Psalm 5

O Lord, hear me as I pray;
    pay attention to my groaning.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
    for I pray to no one but you.
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
    Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness;
    you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.
Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence,
    for you hate all who do evil.
You will destroy those who tell lies.
    The Lord detests murderers and deceivers.

Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
    I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
    or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.

My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
    Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with flattery.[a]
10 O God, declare them guilty.
    Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
    that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;
    you surround them with your shield of love.

When I first read this chapter, my first thoughts were, “Oh no, God is mad at me because I do wicked things and I lie and deceive! There is no way God can forgive me for what I’ve done.” But then the Holy Spirit lead me back to the first three verses:

O Lord, hear me as I pray;

    pay attention to my groaning.

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,

    for I pray to no one but you.

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.

    Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

The words that stand out to me are “hear me, pay attention, listen, I pray, cry for help, listen to my voice, wait expectantly”. I am the daughter of the Most High. I can cry for help and He will hear me and listen to my voice as I pray. Since the beginning of Psalm, the author has been asking God to destroy his enemies. The author isn’t God enemy. You’re not God enemy. I am not God enemy. The evil forces working against Gods Kingdom and anyone crazy enough to go along with the plan is the enemy. At once, I too was crazy enough to go along with the plan to be Gods enemy, but thank you Jesus that He loved me too much to allow me to stay His enemy.

In the chapter, I believe the author is definitely warning us against the type of people not to hang around and most importantly what behaviors to watch in ourselves. I love how much of Gods love radiates from the Authors words. I feel safe after meditating on this chapter. The Author says a beautiful prayer for Gods people in the last two verses. How amazing is that? The person speaking is really going through it with this enemies and he is still remembers to pray for us!

Thank you all for sharing my thoughts tonight. I would love to hear your thoughts on the Psalm 5. What is God saying to you? What did you get out of it? I love you all and please don’t forget to pray for one another.

Day 4 of 150 Days of Psalm Challenge

Hello Friends,

I hope your day was just enjoyable as mine. Here in “confused St. Louis”, it was actually a really nice day. The sun was shining high in the bright blue sky and the unknown future seems doable every day. Although I am in day four of this challenge, I already feel a difference in my thought process. If there is one thing I have learned about this journey called life is that perception of our circumstances determines how we deal and feel about our circumstances. And when we keep my eyes focused on God, we are able to fall into His will and not our own, we are able to be of service to those around us and our loved ones, and we are able to have fun with the days that are gifted to us; knowing that we have a wonderful Heavenly Father and super cool Brother, Jesus who are strapped and prepared to take on my stress. So let’s get with it.

Psalm 4

Answer me when I call to you,
    O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
    Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people ruin my reputation?
    How long will you make groundless accusations?
    How long will you continue your lies? Interlude
You can be sure of this:
    The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
    The Lord will answer when I call to him.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
    Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude
Offer sacrifices in the right spirit,
    and trust the Lord.

Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”
    Let your face smile on us, Lord.
You have given me greater joy
    than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

Again, what a great chapter. The author reminds me a lot of myself. It seems, and I could be mistaken, that the author cares a lot about what people are saying about them (v. 2) when they are not around. I struggle with the same problem. When it comes to strangers, I can care less, but when it comes down to people I care about, I care about their perception of me, but the Lord says that His opinion of me is the only one that matters.

Galatians 1:10, NLT: “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

So I love how the authors continues to immediately go into praising God for all He has done. The author is also putting his complete faith into the power of God by trusting the promises that God has made us. That type of father is absolutely wonderful. They type of faith where we are staying in the face of adversity and still believe and trust in the power of God. Amen!

For me, this chapter is a reminder to keep pushing and persevering no matter what people have to say. I am on this journey because God has me on this journey. It is not for anyone to understand, judge, or scale, especially comparing myself to other around me. Thank you God for Your Word. Your power and love is incomprehensible and I’m proud to be the Princess of the Most High King. I thank You, I love You. Amen.

Thank you all for hearing my thoughts today. Please tune in tomorrow for Day 5 of 150 Days of Psalm Challenge. Love you all and please do not forget to pray for one another.

Day 3 of 150 Days of Psalm Challenge

Hello Friends,

Thank you for joining me on day 3 of the 150 days of Psalms Challenge. Technically, today is day four but yesterday was so busy, I actually forgot about it, so here we are. What matters is that we are here reading Gods Word together. If you are just now joining us, last week I encouraged my readers to read a chapter of Psalm a day and comment below on what God has revealed to us. If you have any questions or would like to message me privately, you can do so at harotianessentials@yahoo.com. Let’s dive in.

Psalm 3

O Lord, I have so many enemies;
    so many are against me.
So many are saying,
    “God will never rescue him!” Interlude[a]

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
    you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy mountain. Interlude

I lay down and slept,
    yet I woke up in safety,
    for the Lord was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
    who surround me on every side.

Arise, O Lord!
    Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
    Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
Victory comes from you, O Lord.
    May you bless your people. 

Thank you, Father for such a wonderful chapter. This chapter came right on time for me. I love how the author David, at the beginning is asking why are people against him (v. 1) but he goes on praise God for what He has done and what He is going to do. David’s faith in Gods protection and promises is inspiring.

When we praise God in the midst of our struggles, we take the focus off of ourselves and onto God where it belongs. When we do that, we feel peace in the middle of the storm. We are also able to see, understand, and receive all of the blessings that God has in store for us.

I also love how David was like, “and God, slap them so hard you knock teeth from their grill!” 😂 Definitely sounds like one of my prayers.

Thank you Father God for keeping every last one of your promises. Thank you for protecting us against the seen and the unseen. Thank you Father for being willing to slap a few people on my behalf so that I won’t have to. Thank you Jesus for your unconditional love, mercy, and grace. I I pray that You continue to bless everyone in need of all of You. I praise you and lift your name of high. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Thank you friends for reading my thoughts. Please comment below your thoughts on todays chapter. I love you all and please remember to pray for one another.

Day 1 of 150 Days of Psalms

Hello Friends,

Today is a glorious day. God woke me up this morning and gave me the grace and courage to blog today. I have been facing writers block. Mainly because I was distracting myself with the ways and stress of the world and not ways of the Word. I can blame mental illness, I can blame stress, or I can blame my circumstances. When the cold hard fact is my behavior lately has been very unbecoming of a princess of the Most High King, but thank you Jesus that we have a Heavenly Father that not only forgives, but shows grace, patience, and understanding while doing it. My mistakes are just that, mistakes. And my past is where it’s suppose to be, in the past…even if it was just a day or two ago. Nonetheless, today is a new day, day one. Day one for better choices. Day one for growing closer to God. Day one to become the woman I’m supposed to be.

Late last night, as I was meditating, God gave me an idea on what to do about our relationship and my writers block. For the next 150 days, I will read and blog about Psalm. It’s called 150 days of Psalms Challenge. I truly believe that the peace and clarity that I seek will be provided in these scriptures. I also believe that my soul will be restored with nothing but the Living Water and not the tainted water of my own personal desires. So, my posts will be short and sweet (let’s be honest, I am known to ramble so I can’t promise anything). I will let you guys knows what Psalm I read and talk about what in the scripture stood out to me and anything else God brings to mind for me to talk about. I’m excited about this journey and I hope you all will join me.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Wow! I would like to say that I did not read the first chapter before I started typing this blog. God, I love how You make your directions so clear for me to follow because whew, Chile! The Lord knows I can be hardheaded. For me, this chapter verifies how I’ve been feeling about my behavior lately. Last week, I spoke to my mentor about it and she said, “Ashleygirl, you bring the company you keep spirits into your home. Even if they do not come into your home.” Today, that makes even more sense then the day she said it.

Also, my takeaway is, if I delight myself in God’s Word, I would become like “trees planted by streams of water – whatever they do propers”. If you’ve ever seen a tree near a stream of water, you will know how tall and strong they are. They are known to face some of the worst weather conditions and still flourish. Why? Because they are rooted deep in a never ending supply of fresh water. Following the ways of the world has gotten me frustrated, angry, careless, reckless, relentless, and so much more; that sounds like chaff (scaly parts of seeds or flowers/finely chopped straw) blowing away in the wind to me (v. 4); unproductive and unpredictable.

In this chapter, to me, God promises that if I immerse myself in His Word, that everything I do according to His Will will prosper. Hmmm…. 🤔 Ok, God, sounds like a deal to me.

Thank you friends for reading my thoughts and spending this time with me. Let’s do this together. I’m excited to see where we are at the end of the 150 days.

The Disease of Addiction

The disease of addiction spreads like a wildfire. It destroys everything and everyone in it’s path; leaving nothing but destruction in its wake. It only takes seconds to destroy life long relationships and memories. And if you’re fortunate, and can take years to rebuild. It doesn’t care if you have children, if you’re a small business owner, a wife, a mother, a child. It doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor. It doesn’t care about your social status or achievements. It doesn’t care about you or me.

Addiction is the most selfish lover you would ever have. She will take and take from you, only leaving you scraps of satisfaction in the end. Sooner or later, her appetite grows bigger and stronger. Then one day, you wake up and realize she has completely taken over your life. You look around and your friends and family have all disappeared. You go to the ATM to find you are overdrawn by hundreds. You are in complete shambles. Lost. Shaken. Confused.

We can be addicted to anything. We all know this, right? But how much is it taking over your life? How much time do you spend wanting and thinking about one thing? Have we put ourselves or a loved one in jeporedy to obtain this one thing?

The disease of addiction is a powerful. I have seen it in action with my own eyes. If we pay close attention, we will see the disease spread throughout a small space within minutes. The disease of addiction breeds with hate, depression, anxiety, fear, self-loathing, etc. And whenever you have a small group of people, for instance who are experiencing the above emotions, the disease of addiction grows more intense. The desire of wanting to escape from the hell of mental anguish is beyond words. Even the craziest of ideas will sounds like great one if it means we will have release from what we are currently feeling. We are literally in the fire. And it burns ever single moment of every single day.

So, how can we battle this? The disease of addiction is very present and alive. So, how do we fight against it. Because truth be told, everyone is affected by the disease of addiction; wether you are the user or the loved ones of the user or the people, related or unrelated, who are affected by our poor choices. One way to fight the disease of addiction is stop feeding the fire. The addiction feeds the disease. The more we feed it the more it grows and the hunger it gets. Also, surround ourselves with a community of “firefighters”. We may have lost people due to hurt that has been caused, but nows the time to allow God to introduce us to new people. Everyone comes and leaves our lives when they have served their purpose and vice versa. When God brings new people into our lives, they are there for a reason or season.

The disease of addiction doesn’t have to live long if we don’t let it. We can work hard to cut it off at the head so it no longer continues to grow.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Corinthians 10:13

Fortunately, God loves us through our addictions, our pain, our struggles. God guides us through the process and the journey. The journey to clean living is not an easy one. It requires honesty and dedication to the truth of God and who we are to Him. The enemy will try to get us to believe that addiction is all we need. That the disease of addiction is incurable and it is a prison that we will never be able to escape from.

It’s not true! Its a lie from the pits of hell. We are already forgiven. We are already saved from the prison of addiction. And we have everything we need to walk in the purpose that God has set for our lives. All is required of us is a little faith because the Bible says that only a little faith can move a mountain (Matthew 17:20).

Thank you so much for reading my thoughts today. I appreciate and love every single one of you. Please remember to pray for one another and a little faith is all you need.

The Day I Felt Nothing

Hello Friends,

It was like any other day, secretely, unknowingly, holding on to hope that a person is capable of real change. I came to this realization when I found myself terribly upset when someone did what they are known for doing. Honestly, what kind of person would allow themselves to continue to get terribly upset at the fact that a leopard cannot change its spots? What kind of person would allow themselves to go into a mental coma simply because the sun is rising and setting as it should each day.

On this special day something miraculous happened. I was able to see the error in my ways. I was able to realize that no matter what I did, things that are meant to be will simply be. Whether I agree with how they are or not. A leopard will always have their spots, the IRS will always want their money, and the sun will always rise in the east and set in the west.

As my eyes were opened, my heart slowly began stepping out of the woods covering her eyes from the glare. Asking herself, “Am I out?” She immediately feels lighter and safer. She feels the warm sun and its making her radiant, inside and out. She stretches out her arms and legs. She sits up straight realizing she has been hunched over for too long. She looks out in front of her towards the tall trees and the beautiful skyline. She sees everyone that has been calling her name, directing her out of the dark forest. She sees Jesus, family, friends, loved ones. She drops to her knees and apologizes for ever doubting his love and power. Now as she furthers into the unknown of her journey, she is set free. Happily tackling every obstacle like the warriors we are.

I was feeling good after this experience, but then there was something else I needed to do. A ritual I kind of developed since I was a teenager, I suppose. To be honest, I never thought about it until after I did it this last time. Although this particular night where the crickets were extra loud and the cool breeze was blowing around my hair, I went to the gas station and bought a pack of cigarettes. I was never a regular smoker. I guess someone you would call a social smoker. Anyway, the last time I had a cigarette was almost seven years ago when I became clean. I sat outside in my car, lit a cigarette, and started jamming to old school R&B. I listened to everyone from Switch to Keyshia Cole to Jeremih. Sang. Lit another one. Sang. Took a deep breath and I felt nothing. No pain. No guilt. No condemnation. No confusion. No jealousy. No curiosity. No death.

This beautiful women is not me, by the way! ☺️

There is absolutely nothing in this world like freedom. You guys! You have no idea how many times I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I thought this torture was going to last forever. I was fighting myself everyday. Literally battling with the world and the Word; trying to stick to the idea that there is an entity that claims to be The Creator of all AND on top of that loves me unconditionally?? Me?? But this….this moment, that day, me graduating college, homeschooling during a pandemic (and I’m not going to get into all of the things we had going on) and today, TODAY… my heart and I are walking hand in hand out of the forest.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” -Luke 19:10

Jesus is with me. He is with you. Every step I take in trusting him, the more I fell comfortable trusting him. Thank God he is not a liar nor manipulator like the real enemy. Once God helped me to realize that it is not our loved ones who intend on hurting us, but the influence of an evil entity, it helps recognizing that days like the day I felt nothing needs to happen more often. In saying that, not everything is Satan’s fault. God is more powerful and is calling all of us to do something with our existence to continue to spread the Message. It is our responsibility to either answer or not answer. And when we answer, we will become mentally and spiritually aware that we are free. Then we will be living and acting like the Princes and Princess’ we truly are. Not allowing ourselves to be feed table scrapes when we have banquet tables awaiting us.

Thank you so very much for allowing me to share my thoughts. I love you all and please remember to pray for one another.

P.S. I didn’t finish the cigarettes. After the two, I was cool as a breeze and threw the rest of the pack away. Weird ritual for closure, I guess. *shrugs*

A New Creation

Hello Friends,

Thank you all for sticking with me this far. Some of you have been following my journey since day one. Thank you to my new followers as well. The past three years have been a roller coaster ride. Not the fun kind, but definitely necessary.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve carried around fear and sadness. It has caused me to make decisions, good and bad, that most people wouldn’t understand.

Three years ago, God started to gut me like a fish, removing all of the remnants of each encounter, each bad decision, each mistake. All of the shame, guilt, fear, sadness, etc. had to come out in order for me to walk in the purpose God has set for me. And that crap hurt! Sometimes still does. He has removed certain people out of my life that I once thought I could never live without. God has helped me forgive those who I thought I would never be able to forgive. He has given me the strength to love those I was determined to hate.

What’s the difference between the Ashley three years ago and the Ashley today? Complete and utter surrender. Understanding that my life is not my own and when I try to control my life and the outcome of certain situations, I get in my own way and fall straight on my face. Ugh! And man, that hurts, too! I ultimately create my own misery.

I used to believe people when they would say, “Life is pain. You just have to deal with it.” That’s not true. I’m going to shame the devil by dropping this fun fact: once we accept Jesus, surrender to God’s will and not our own, life becomes beautiful. Reread that. Everything is possible that once felt impossible. We are able to pour into other people what God is pouring into us. We begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I’m not saying things arent going to be challenging, but I have good news. The more challenges we face, the more opportunity we have to draw closer to Abba Father. The closer we draw to God, the more we trust Him. The more we trust Him, the easier we are able to see our circumstances through our Fathers eyes and not our own, which is awesome because my vision is tore up from the floor up. OK, maybe I shouldn’t bring that phrase back, but I tried. 🤪

The picture above is me in 2018; sick, depressed, 99 pounds soaking wet. I was stressed all of the time. I was trying to do everything in my own strength (which as you can see wasn’t much), including trying to control those around me to fit my agenda on what I thought life was suppose to look like.

The above picture was taken five days ago. I am a healthy 100 and something pounds 😁 and have completely surrendered to the Lord who’s agenda for my life and the lives of my children is so much better than my own.

The road to recovery is not a easy one, nor is it for the faint in heart. Every morning I have to pull up my big girl draws and remind myself that Gods will is better than mine. Surrendering is tough, especially when you’re stubborn, selfish, and arrogant like myself. But thank the Lord Jesus Christ that I get a fresh start each morning to do better than the day before.

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I love each and every one of you. Please don’t forget to pray for one another. Remember, we can disagree and still love on each other.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. -2 Corinthians 5:17

When Your Bed Becomes Your Desk

Hello Friends,

What a fruitful week this has been. I cannot say that I have been able to accomplish all of the things that I’ve wanted to do, but I can say that I am not easily overwhelmed as I used to be. I am forced to accept things as they are. It’s either that or have a nervous breakdown annndddddd who literally has time for that?!?

Yesterday I would say has been the best day I have had in a very long time. It was just like any other day accept:

  • God granted me the serenity to accept the things I could not change
  • Courage to change the things that I could
  • Wisdom to know the difference

Whew! Thank you Jesus. The kids were fighting, the house was (well, who am I kidding?) IS a mess, and I’m a little behind on homework, me and the kids. But it’s ok. I also found myself giggling at the sounds of my kids arguing with each other over who’s fart smells the worst after eating the easter eggs we painted. Or walking into a room finding Rj dancing like a wild man, Christian cheering him on, and Hannah recording it. It was like….pure bliss. PLUS, I still made time to do the things I wanted to do, not what I had to do.

  • I started researching how to start my new up and coming podcast! That’s right people! I’m starting a podcast. I’ll keep you up to date on that.
  • I doodled in my notebook
  • I attended my online support group
  • And drum roll please…….I got the kids in bed before 10pm. BOOM! *drops mic*
What I would literally be doing if my hip didn’t feel like it was able to pop out of place

*Picks mic back up cause Im not done* To sum up, in the words of Ice Cube, “Today was a good day…” And I thank you all and many others for your prayers. God is an awesome God, but prayers definitely make a difference, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So, why did I title this blog, “When Your Bed Becomes Your Desk”? Well, this is the first time since my separation that I don’t feel so alone in my bed. Since my kids prefer to sleep in their own beds, tonight I am surrounded by the things I enjoy the most: my bible, writing equipment, my kids art work, reading material, and complete silence.

Tonight, while doing my bible study, I came across this scripture:

…he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and a new life through the Holy Spirit

Titus 3:5

To me, this is God reaffirming that everything will continue to be ok because that was His intent when Jesus died for us. He never promised sunshine and rainbows everyday, but after every storm, the sun shines and the rain….bows (even the wind and waves obey him -Mark 4:41). And yesterday, was my sunshine and rainbows. Without his mercy, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my kids smelly farts and messy tendencies, their flaws overcrowding my flaws because the same love that my Father has for me, I am able to extend to them. The same grace and mercy my Father has for me, Jesus’ overflowing water runneth over to them. And that is the best gift that the Lord can ever give to me during this quarantine.

Thank you for reading my thoughts tonight. It is currently 1:25am and I should really scoot this stuff over and go to sleep. Nah, screw it, I’ll get comfy on the couch and sleep there. Anyway, love you all and please remember to pray for one another.

Love Letter From Depression Part 2

Hello Ashley,

This is Depression. How are you? Well, don’t answer that. You know I really don’t care. You know what I do care about is why we haven’t been spending time together like we used to? I mean, I see you every once in a while. Every time I think we are going to get back together, you leave me for a guy name Jesus. Like, why? What does he have that I don’t?

You cannot deny it, Ashley. We were so good together. You loved me, I loved you. All we needed was each other. And then this Jesus character came along and told you that you would be better without me. I was shocked! I never thought you would see me for who I really am. I honestly thought we would be together forever.

Remember, we used to have the best times together. I miss your tears of loneliness and hopelessness. I miss how we used to stay in bed together for days, even weeks at a time. I miss how you used to put me ahead of your family. Now you act like you never had such a wonderful, miserable history. You used to tell me how I was the only consistent entity in your life. Now I feel like I am nothing to you.

It’s pretty obvious that whoever this Jesus is that he means more to you than I ever have. That’s how I know he’s powerful because I used to be your whole world. Now all of a sudden he is. I’m angry and hurt because now I know I’ve lost my best victim.

I will never let you go. I will always come back and visit to see if you’ll take me back, I will never stop loving you. But because I see that you are stronger than you have ever been, I’ll have to bring my A game.

Love,

Depression

Click here to read Love Letter from Depression Part One

My Favorite Coat

Hello Friends,

Thank you for joining me on this wonderful Saturday. What makes this day so wonderful, you ask? Well, for one, I’m not experiencing the weight of an elephant on my chest anymore. I am able to have hope for the future. God has been sending so many people to encourage me during this time. All whom have experienced the same trauma and heartache as I. He so is wonderful!!

Although I haven’t been “blogging” I’ve been coming up with so much material. Sometimes I am unable to fall asleep until I have it written all down, or at least cliff notes and it always feels so good.

A few weeks ago, I was able to conjure up a poem. I haven’t written a poem in what seems like forever. In another attempt of stepping out of my comfort zone, I will debut it here.

Stuck

This coat I’m wearing, I love it,
It fits my curves and everything above it.
I’m so proud because it will be mine forever,
As long as we’re together we can battle the worst weathers.
After a while it was all I wore,
The comfort and embrace it provided felt so secure.
Not realizing the more I wore it the more I outgrew it,
But it was mine and I felt good just to own it.

But one day it began to tear at the seams,
I tried my best to patch up what was lost,
But the more I tried the more it cost.
Until one day it was gone, never to be found again,
The devastation killing what was left of my core.
“What else could provide the comfort and loving care?
What would I do with myself? Who would even care?”
See, to you it may be a simple coat that can be replaced,
But to me it was everything I was missing in the first place.
In my life where things seemed so dark, until my coat came along and pulled me out,
Well, looking back, at least I thought.
The more I mourn, the more it becomes clear,
That the struggle wasn’t the coat but something deeper than what appeared.
The coat would have to become distant memory,
Letting the seams tear is a sign that I should move on to make new memories.
We all deserve to have a great, secure coat,
We just have to know where to look.
I began to seek my Father who told me that my story can be rewritten,
It’ll just take a little grinding and pinching.
“But hold on to my promises, Beloved” He says,
I’ll always hear Him repeat to me especially in time of despair.

This poem was inspired by the realization that I have been operating in codependent relationships. It wasn’t clear to me why I was experiencing extreme heartache towards someone who clearly wants nothing to do with me. In God’s gracious character, He has been removing my heart so I am able to heal and move forward.

I don’t have all of the answers right now, but right now, I am resting in His promise that “this to shall pass”.

Thank you, friends for reading my thoughts. It has been my pleasure sharing my story, although it has me terrified. Please remember to pray for one another, especially during a time like this. 

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen and guard you from the enemy. -2 Thessalonians 3:3


Irrational Fears

Hey Friends,

Today, I would like to share an irrational fear that I have. Thefreedictionary.com defines an irrational fear as:

a. a persistent, abnormal, and phobia of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous.

b. A strong fear, dislike, aversion.

For example, my baby girl, Hannah was deathly afraid of pink cotton balls when she was a toddler. I have no idea why. She wasn’t going to daycare or preschool at the time because I was a stay at home mom. I always had white cotton balls in the house, so I guess she wasn’t used to seeing the pink ones. I’m not sure what caused the fear, but every time she saw one, she would scream bloody murder.

I took advantage of this fear by placing them around objects that I didn’t want her touch in the house, like, the old school water heaters. Yea, it was a little mean, but she never burned her hands. She always wanted to touch the heaters, even when they were scolding hot during the winter, but as soon as I placed pink cotton balls around them, she never touched them again.

One of my irrational fears is being judged. Since I was a kid, I would always worry about what other people thought of me, but it has gotten worse in my adult years. I would find myself living for other people, doing what I thought other people wanted me to do. Honestly, sometimes it worked out in my favor, but most of the time it didn’t. Ultimately, I paid a very hefty cost; not knowing who I really am and years of unnecessary depression and heartache.

When I would do something that was more “me”, people would be confused and say, “this isn’t the Ashley I know. The Ashley I know would never say or do something like that.” When in fact, yes, this Ashley would do or say that. No one knew the real me, and quite frankly, a lot of people still don’t.

I keep a lot of my life private because of that fear. I don’t handle confrontation well because of that fear. People feel like I’m not approachable in fear of my reaction. There have been times I have had a full-blown anxiety attack because I was accused of doing something that I didn’t do. Instead of simply saying I didn’t do it, I was so distraught at the fact that someone thought I was capable of doing such a thing. Then I would become worried because then I would think, “Am I capable of doing that?” Then I would think about for days and days and days because of what this person said I did. See how much time is being wasted?

I would like to think that my family and friends can come to talk to me about things that are concerning them when it comes to something they see is happening that I am unaware of. Maybe my addiction wouldn’t have gone as far as it did if I wasn’t too afraid to speak up and say, “I need help!” No. I kept it all in because I didn’t want, 1. My family to judge me and 2. To be gossiped about.

Gossip is becoming the new normal in society because we think that everyone does it. Well, maybe it’s not new since God warns us against it in His Word.

“ ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. “ ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD. -Leviticus 19:16

I won’t argue that the majority of people gossip, yes, but it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. I have done my fair share of gossiping and to be honest, I never feel good about when I am done. I always feel like I’ve betrayed the person that I was talking about. And I never want to do that.

Venting, on the other hand, is completely different because you are explaining to a third party about what happened between you and another person. Gossiping is talking about someone else’s business, which shouldn’t be none of our business. Even if you are concerned, it should be shared with you and that person, and maybe another trusted person out of love. Not talked about carelessly. I keep a lot of things bottled up in fear that my situation will be talked about for entertainment purposes.

You may be saying I am overreacting. I would agree with you. That is why this fear is irrational. It controls my life. It keeps me in bondage.  I am unable to share what is happening and ask for help in fear of judgment. I shouldn’t care what my loved ones think, but I do. I shouldn’t allow what someone says about me dictate my every move, but sometimes I do.

I am getting better at it each day because I am learning that:

  1. People will talk about me regardless and what they say about me is not my problem. But how I react to gossip is my problem.
  2. God will take care of the people who choose to gossip. Yes, the majority of us may do it, but in God’s eyes, it’s still sin.
  3. People will judge and talk about what they don’t understand. They will always see what’s in front of them and sometimes that is not always the truth.
  4. God knows everything. He sees and hears everything. His opinion of what I am doing and how I am doing it is the only opinion that matters.
  5. In this life, I only aim to please my heavenly Father, which is to live by His Word and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

I’ll conclude with a short story:

When I was a young kid, my oldest sister lived in New York. I admired her so much and so did my other family members. Everyone loved her. I remember when she would come home to visit, she would receive so much love and attention. I wanted the same. A friend of mines gave me a bag of marbles that we used to play with. They were really pretty and were being kept in this awesome fabric bag. Before she moved, my big sister was always there for me. Made sure I had the nicest clothes and my hair was always done. She always took care of me. Looking back, I think I was missing that and didn’t realize it after she had moved away. She was my escape from the chaos that we experienced in a small apartment almost filled with 9 other people. On one of her visits home, my moms living room was filled with laughter, hugs, and excitement for her arrival.

I quickly thought, “I want love, hugs, and kisses”. I was so small, I felt like I was being looked over or ignored. So, as quickly as I could, I ran and gave her my bag of marbles. I didn’t have much to play with during that time, so it was a big deal that I parted with them. As memory serves, she took them, looked at them, and thanked me. That was it. I thought, “I want more”. I craved more. I wanted her to pick me up in the air, smile really big, and give me the tightest hug a person could give.

I wanted her to tell me how much she loved the marbles and that it was the best gift she had ever gotten. But that didn’t happen. My expectations were too high. I immediately began to feel that her reaction had to do with my character. I internalized it, thinking that I wasn’t good enough. That was my first thought of never wanting to share what was close to my heart with anyone. That I couldn’t do anything to make her happy the way that she has made me happy. I felt useless.

Years have passed as I have completely forgotten that moment, that defined, with many other moments, during my youth, what I thought about myself. How fearful I would become of judgment and rejection. Then I didn’t know that I would soon try to find my self worth in the response to what people said about me and make awful mistakes related to that way of thinking. One day about five years ago, my sister was cleaning out her closet. I was resting on her bed, playing with my baby boy Christian, as my sister and I talked about life. Then she said something that brought yours truly to tears. She said, “Hey, do you remember when you were little and you gave me that bag of marbles?” I said, “Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about that. Yea, I remember.” Then she says, “Do you know I still have them. Every time I travel, I take them with me wherever I go. I never leave home without them.”

Wow! That blew my mind. The fact that she has not only kept those marbles for over 20 years, but she never travels without them meant more to me than a brief moment of praise when I first gave them to her. It means that every time she got on a plane or drove a long distance to go on vacation or travel for work, I was always with her. And my sister doesn’t do light traveling. She has always been one to travel all over the country multiple times a year.

Do you see how the enemy used me as a young child to stir up the fear and insecurity inside of me? Being a kid, of course, I didn’t know what was happening, but this is a perfect example of how the enemy will even attack us as children to further his agenda; kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).  I told you that story to say, I no longer want to be afraid of what people think about me. Sometimes we never know what people are thinking about us. All this time, I never knew that she held those marbles so dear to her heart. I want to concentrate on the good things that people are saying about me and leave the negative things to God because He knows who I am and I know whose I am.

We have to live our lives for the glory of our Father all while keeping our eyes focused on Jesus. Everything else is irrelevant.

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? -Luke 12:22-26

 

Blogging with a Chronic Illness

So, when you live with an illness that affects how you process information, it is very difficult to successfully run a blog. It has been for me, anyway.

So, I want to share with you ways I manage a blog while living with Lupus. Please read here if you haven’t already about my fight against Lupus. Right now, I don’t talk about as much because the Plaquenil prescribed by my rheumatologist, has finally kicked in and my blood work is coming back normal. Which is AWESOME-SAUCE! I am definitely in a better place than I was a year ago. I digress.

So, oh yeah…Tips on how to run a blog while living with a chronic illness.

  1. Set small goals: As you know, when living with a chronic illness, your days can be unpredictable. I know for Lupus warriors, one day we are feeling great and the next day it’ll feel like we’ve been hit by a bus. So, don’t overwhelm yourself with too much at once. Set your own pace. The rest will follow.
  2. It’s ok to take a break: Blogging can be emotionally and physically draining for anyone, especially if you have a chronic illness. For me, pain is an issue. I manage it, but I can’t sit one position for too long before my body begins to stiffen up. If you have a schedule for blogging, set aside times for breaks. Blogging can be exhausting, so make sure you take care of yourself.
  3. Water, Water, and what…More Water!: I know you’re tired of hearing this. I’m tired of hearing it, but it true. Water is known to improve your cognition, improve your mood, and lower inflammation. Which means, the more water you drink, the better you will feel.
  4.  Cut yourself some slack: I know that we have goals that we want to accomplish, but remember, it even took the Lord six days to make the universe, and He is a perfect supreme being. Accomplishing anything will take time and continuous effort. I have to remind myself of this daily, especially when I see other people who have blogs that are thriving and mines is…..

Having a chronic illness can definitely put a wrench in the plans, but it doesn’t have to damage our plans completely. Even if it isn’t blogging. Keep going, keep pushing, keep moving. Even if it’s one step forward, three steps back, you are still making progress.

I’ll be praying for your strength while chasing what you love. Thank for you reading words today. God bless each and every one of you. Please remember to pray for one another.

On the darkest days you have to search for a spot of brightness, on the coldest days you have to seek out a spot of warmth; on the bleakest days you have to keep your eyes onward and upward and on the saddest days you have to leave them open to let them cry. To then let them dry. To give them a chance to wash out the pain in order to see fresh and clear once again. -Tahereh Mafi

 

It’s All About Perception

Good Day Friends!

Today I’m thinking about how we perceive certain things in our lives and how much perception makes a difference in whether or not we have a good day or a bad day. Sometimes, we are unable to avoid bad days, but overall, I believe perception determines whether we allow those bad days to control the decision we make.

I believe that one way we overcome life struggles is to perceive our struggles in a positive aspect. I see a lot of post about how changing our mindsets is important to achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves. Even God says that we have to renew our minds each day in order to live a more fulfilling life.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  -Romans 12:2

I love how it says that God’s will for us is “good and pleasing and perfect”!

I used to think that being diagnosed with mental illness, lupus, and fibromyalgia was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. I truly thought my life was over, but then I realized it was just the beginning. Changing my perception helped me to realize that I can use this new diagnosis to my advantage.

Changing our mindset or how we view our circumstances helps us forgive those who have hurt us, it helps us to accept our current situation; good or bad, it helps us to have courage to overcome future obstacles, and it helps us to let go and not sweat the small stuff and become more appreciative. Changing our perception also helps us have more faith in God; that He will deliver us from whatever is going on and like scripture says, it will be “good and pleasing and perfect”.

When I decided to change my perception, I asked God for His help and of course He came through with His promise of changing how I think. Fact of the matter is, God will pursue us. He will find ways to get our attention. He will allow things such as illness’ to get our attention so we can actively seek Him, so we can have a close relationship with Him.

He will use our struggles as a chance to get closer to us. God wants us to have a relationship with Him. He wants us to spend time with Him, just like a Father who wants to have a relationship with his children. His love is neither conditional nor passive. I believe God has used mental and physical illness to get my attention so He can have a close relationship with me. Let’s face it. When I was healthy, I really didn’t seek God. I wasn’t concerned with having relationship with Him. I was so wrapped up in my own life, only seeking what I wanted.

When He uses such things are illness’ to get our attention, God doesn’t just sit back and expect us to fight it alone. He fights for us!

The Lord is a warrior: Yahweh is his name. -Exodus 15:3

“Don’t be afraid. Just stand still ad watch the Lord rescue you today… The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” -Exodus 14:13,14

Truthfully speaking, my life has gotten better because of it. Why you ask? Since I’ve embraced that this is the current season in my life, it has inspired me to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do. For instance: I am unable to hold a full time job because of this condition. Since I cannot work, I am able to spend more time with my children. I am able to be at home with them more. I am able to connect with them more. I am able to put more time and effort into starting my own business. I am able to concentrate on starting and sustaining my writing career. And more important, I am able to help people by sharing my struggles and helping them overcome theirs. It truly is the best feeling.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve grown closer to God which is awesome! I feel His presence more and more. I feel His unconditional love like never before. I am able to appreciate life more. I am able to slow down and enjoy sunsets. I no longer desire death when I become overwhelmed. I no longer desire to give up. I’ve shed most of the pain that has been apart of me most of my life. I am free from shame, guilt, and condemnation from the enemy. I’ve been able to forgive and forget. I’m eating healthier and I’ve been motivated to work on my dreams.

My diagnosis has been the best worst thing that has happened to me. It has given me a testimony to share with others who are in same boat as I am.

When changing our perception, it is helpful to remember:

  • Gods love is faithful and good (Psalm 36:5)
  • All we have to do is slow down in our self-efforts and allow God to guide our steps (Psalm 37:23)
  • We are safe and secure in Gods love (Deuteronomy 33:27)
  • We are sheltered by His presence (Exodus 33:14)
  • Allow His knowledge to wash over us (Romans 1:19,20)

“Remember, it is not your weakness that will get in the way of Gods working through you, but your delusions of strength. His strength is made perfect is made perfect in our weakness! Point to His strength by being willing to admit your weakness.” -Paul David Tripp

Thank you all for reading my thoughts today. I pray that you all are having a wonderful day. As always, I appreciate everyone who takes the time out to support my blog. Please remember to pray for one another. God bless you!

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. -Isaiah 64:4

 

For the Easily Offended

It seems as though when dealing with mental illness, it is easily to take constructive criticism the wrong way. I desperately try not to, but when the world is kicking me down, one incident after another, it is possible to take something that is not supposed to be offensive, offensively.

You don’t have to have a mental illness to become easily offended and become defensive when something you don’t want to hear is brought to your attention. If I’m not making sense, let me clarify.

Let’s say, for example, you are severely depressed and a good friend who has been having a bad day says, “I didn’t like that you did…blah blah blah.” Now, a healthy minded person would be able to resolve whatever conflict that was created by what was said to hurt their friend’s feelings. Or at the very least being honest enough to let them know you are unable to confront those issues right now. But since you are severely depressed, you may feel like it’s an attack on you or even just take it the wrong way.

A person could argue that a friend would know that it would be a bad time to talk about whatever was said or done to hurt them if they know you are severely depressed, but then not everyone can recognize the symptoms of depression and mania. Anyway, that’s a different discussion.

Sometimes, talking to someone with a mental illness is kind of like walking through a minefield when they are going through a rough time. You never know if and when you may say or do something that will push them over the edge. Personally, I think it is unfair for my family and friends to walk on eggshells around me because of the mental instability I sometimes experience. One day, I hope that people will find it easier to talk to me about important topics without the fear of me spiraling into a further depression or having a preconceived notion that I wont be able to handle what is being said. Or even fearing my response will be that of a toddlers.

Plus, I want to be confident enough in myself that anyone could approach me about anything and I will be able to either let them know that I am unable to deal with confrontation, or most importantly, being able to have a conversation (resolve issues) no matter how I’m feeling.

It is in my opinion, that people with mental illness should understand that it is just as hard for our loved ones as it is for us. It is easy to scream that we want to be understood and shown compassion, but living with a disease not only effects the host, but the people who surround them.

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I pray you all are having a wonderful start to your week. Please remember to pray for one another.

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. -Nido Qubein 

Saying Goodbye Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Hey Friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our minds are enslaved to the things that we enjoy. There are so many things that we enjoy that keep us in the very prison we want to escape from. I’ll give you an example.

You know the hit television show, Game of Thrones, right? Well, I am such a huge fan, my family and I named our cat after one of the popular characters, Khaleesi. Needless to say, I love everything about the show. From the dramatic sword fights with blood spewing everywhere to the sexy, nude love scenes. I’ve been like an addict checking YouTube for updates, predictions, and new trailors for the upcoming, last season of the show.

But, God revealed to me that this show is very unhealthy for my spirit. Last season, I remember feelings “not right” immediately after I watched a episode. I was restless, unable to sleep. And once I feel asleep, my dreams were weird and eerie.

Bondage is like a prison cell and the deception of the enemy is the darkness. God is telling us to trust the light in front of it and follow it (Jesus). God is providing one light for each step at a time, but we have to put on foot forward. Sometimes he’ll even light up 2 lights in front of us for encourage. But ultimately, our goal is to walk through the prison doors, which have already been opened by the blood of the lamb. We just have to follow the light of Jesus as a guide to make sure we’re following the right directions.

Me watching Game of Thrones keeps me in the darkness. The violent and sex scene keeps in my mind in a warped prison which in turn penetrats my heart. It’s breaking my heart to know that I cannot watch my favorite television show. But guess what? I can sleep at night. I can rest knowing that I am pleasing my heavenly Father and He is rewarding me for acknowledging my weakness and staying away from it. He loves that I am renewing my mind in His word and not in the ways of the world.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. -Romans 12:2

In the long run, it’s helping me relate to my family, friends, and even myself. I am able to love and find comfort in hard times and not become angry or discouraged when things get tough. What does that have to do with a television show? Well, if I’m constantly watching violent behavior, then I will eventually begin to emulate violent behavior when I am faced with my own challenges. But…if I fill my mind with God’s love and grace, then that is the kind of behavior I will emulate when I am faced with my own challenges. See the difference?

Thank you guys for reading my thoughts today. I pray you guys are having a good day. Please remember to pray for one another.