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Posts Tagged ‘church’

happy? new year.

December 30, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m sitting in the living room of “BarthBrook” with all the members of my Lexington family for probably the last time. Michael, Joe Joe and Sawyer are leaving New Year’s Day for France. Not to visit. To live. It’s something I knew was coming for a long time, but never let myself think about it. It was this past Sunday that I first began to deal with the loss of my dearest friends. I wrote this during church:

“I’m looking up at the front of the church and for the first time I realized my life without Michael and Joe Joe physically here is about to happen. As I listen to Joe Joe speak words of encouragement to our body, I am overwhelmed with two feelings: gratitude and sadness. What a mixture of feelings. It’s so odd, yet I do feel full. Full of memories of nights of Settlers, dinners, teasing about my OCD, teaching Sawyer to spit, women’s retreat… so many memories. Gratitude and sadness…”

It’s crazy to imagine only 5 months ago Michael and Joe Joe were just a couple I had heard hundreds of stories about. I was hoping to avoid awkward situations living together, especially considering they had spent the last two years in Tanzania, Africa. They had a 6 month old baby, and I had never been around babies. Plus, I heard he cried a lot.

But then, God did something amazing. He molded three sets of families together into a tight-knit unit. Paul and Tracy, The Harringtons, and then little ol’ me became BarthBrook. We shared food, space, tears, cars, and laughter. Lots of laughter. Joe Joe and I especially became close, and shared our past and present troubles. She became the definition of a role model in my life. I’m going to miss having her cheery, “good morning!” when I come down the stairs.

And then there’s their son. Oh, Sawyer Timothy. I went quickly from “Sawyer’s buddy” to “Aunt Ashlyn” to “Sawyer’s girlfriend.” That’s right, I’m the resident cougar. I’ve never felt for a kid quite like I feel for Sawyer. He brightens my day. I now know I want kids. I never pass up an opportunity to snag a photo of his crazy faces, feed him, hold him, play with him, or make him laugh (which isn’t hard, this kid loves life):

I don’t know how I’m going to handle them being gone, especially once I move out of the Barth’s next week, but please be in prayer for their time getting settled in their new home and starting language school, as well as those of us getting accustomed to life without them again.

Categories: Life Tags: , , ,

significant

November 29, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve come to realize something this morning, and it’s something that’s been simmering in my heart for a while. This morning at church, Mike told us a quote, “I do not fear failure; I fear being successful at things that do not matter.” As he went on to preach on our significance through Christ and “to sit down on the inside,” I realized how successful I am. But many times my flesh, and the pressure of the American dream around me, tells me I am a failure by those standards. I live in the town I went to school, hanging out with the same people, bumming off friends to live and work, and not even a job using your degree.

But these are not the things at which I wish to be successful.

I love. A lot. I live in a household full of support and encouragement and growth. I work in an environment focused on asking the wisdom of God in all decisions. I spend time building relationships that are Christ-focused and trying to make each other better. I have a church family in which I serve and receive love and worship and learn who I am in Christ.

This is where I am successful.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you do determines your worth. I have held onto this lie for far too long. I am not what I do. What I do is an outflow of who I am, and only things done under the power of God will last. All the good things I’ve done under my own power will burn away.

Burn away.

Categories: Life Tags: , ,

My Weekend to Rob Bell.

August 18, 2009 2 comments

When I finally sat down in the second row of Mars Hill Bible Church, exhausted by the 8 hour trip and sleeping on a friend of a friend’s floor, I had no idea what to expect. The church was very inconspicuous, with no signs on the building so as we drove right past it. After 15 minutes of taking in the surroundings and watching the warehouse-type room fill up around the stage in the center, I looked up and suddenly saw Rob Bell and 2 other guys walk on stage. For a second, I got caught in the “holy crap, that’s Rob Bell 10 feet from me,” but I quickly recovered. The announcement guy said this week was gonna be special: they weren’t going to have any music (to my immense disappointment) but instead were giving the whole service to Rob to speak (to my immense pleasure). And then the next 75ish minutes were pretty cool.

[Let me preface this with the fact that I am not a huge Rob Bell fan. I enjoy NOOMA videos a lot, but do not necessarily like his writings, and am not very pro-Rob Bell doctrine/theology. That, however, did not stop me from going on this trip, or listening with an open heart and mind for what God had to tell me. And it was quite a bit.]

Rob began in Genesis 1 & 2, talking about how the earth was before sin aka how God intended it to be. He talked about us producing, ruling, subduing, and living in a blessed place. In these chapters, the earth is not a place to escape. The story starts here. Then he moved to Revelation 21 & 22, showing how when Christ comes back, He is bringing the Heavenly realm HERE; God dwells HERE. The story ends here. So many times, he said, we tell the story in relation to Genesis 3 (the Fall). Starting the story there concentrates on removing sin, on what we aren’t, and on evacuating from earth. But that’s not necessarily how it should be. Starting the story in Genesis 1 & 2 concentrates on restoration, what we are, and participating in creation.

And this all determines how WE share the story.

…the story is about Jesus’ resurrection beginning a new creation right here in the midst of the old one, about God reaffirming the goodness of creation, about anticipating the coming day when heaven & earth are one again (Rob Bell).

What I realized the most is that my hope as a follower of Christ should not be in escaping this world, but reclaiming it & overcoming it. My hope needs a good solid dose of perspective. Thanks, Rob Bell.

So while I spent 16 hours in the car and only 14 hours in Grand Rapids, I did come away with some great memories & experiences that only a ridiculous road trip with 5 friends can offer. And it was quite reaffirming that Rob Bell said God loves OCD people. 🙂

Calling.

Lately I have had the blessing of spending time with the people I look up to the most in this world. It has been amazing to hear their hearts, learn their passions, and see them living by the Spirit. It has also been amazing being a part of their life, and this, along with a certain evening last week full of emotion and confusion has led to a lot of thinking. But before my thoughts cause the train of this post to go haywire, here’s a little bit of what I wrote in the New Orleans airport earlier this week:

“Lord, I’m in awe at what You’ve been teaching me. Just realizing how much more open I am to things like culture & music & the homeless, & even spontaneity amaze me in comparison. What are You preparing me for? I wish You would give me a glimpse. I wish I could be content with knowing You’ve got me… It’s just after the other night when I couldn’t stop crying my heart went back to realizing I’m not where You’re going to keep me, & I’m so restless. I feel stuck in this place between college & real life, neither in either one fully. I know this is a time of You teaching me while I have nothing to do but listen, but I want to put it into practice. I’m learning to love better, to be more open-minded, to wrap my mind around different styles & cultures, & realizing how big You are that I should FEAR You. I try to capture this “buddy” mentality over & over when I should be on my face because You are God of the universe. You created everything I’ve ever known or seen & I sit here anxious about friendships? Anxious about not liking completely where I’m at? God, that’s disrespectful to You. Jesus Christ died FOR ME & I’d rather concentrate on my own strength & own power rather than realizing EVERY good thing comes from You. Between what I’m reading in Crowder’s book, learning in small group, & saw here in NOLA, I’m excited You deem me worthy of something like this. I’m excited for when the pieces come together, ’cause they sure aren’t connecting right now. It will be glorious, & that glory will be Yours. That glory is already Yours.”

In NOLA, I got to see a friend living life where God has called her, and listen to the heart of another friend realizing she may be called there as well. Later, I got to have a conversation with 2 of my married friends who are ready to be called overseas, and will go as soon as it happens. We talked about me just up and moving (Southwest Colorado, right Paul? haha) but how if God hasn’t called me there, I will be miserable. As time goes on and it looks like I will be setting up shop here in Lexington for a long haul, I want to experience more than Kentucky has to offer. Sure, I’ve always wanted to “end up” here in Kentucky, but when else in my life will I be able to sell everything and disappear to travel? But… I am not called to do that right now. The question is, what am I called to do? Well, nothing. God’s got me in a holding pattern. And it sucks. It doesn’t make my parents happy, doesn’t make my OCD happy, and it certainly doesn’t make my increasing debt happy.

Hear me, as soon as God calls me somewhere, I’m gone. And if you’ve known me for a long time, the fact that I say that and mean it is a big deal.

I want to move to some big city and start a church. I want to move to a Spanish-speaking country and film a documentary on clean water. I want to move out west and live simply. I want to work outside and be outside more than I’m indoors. But God’s not calling me to do any of these. But then again, He’s not calling me to stay here in Lexington either.

All this wouldn’t be so hard if I didn’t have those people I look up to so much. They have their callings, or are developing them and planning to live them out. For some of them that means moving to New Orleans to go to be immersed in that culture, or it means preparing to do medical missions somewhere in the future, or it means marrying the man God had fall into your life randomly and following Christ together. Me? In a few months I’ll be bumming off friends saving for my own place wondering when I’ll be able to chase my passions.

I don’t want to escape. I mean, I want to escape, to up and go. That’s what I tried to do when I applied for Journeyman. God nipped that in the bud, and not too humbly. If I escape, I’ll be miserable. So until then, I wait.

Veil of things to come.

So I just got home from about 6 hours at church: playing bass, worshipping, listening, eating, cleaning, and learning. I love my church, it is so filled of love and service and giving. But during the financial/vision meeting today, I got to thinking about how much our church strives to be like a New Testament church more than anything I’ve ever been a part of in my life. We bathe everything in prayer, spend oodles of time together, and revolve around home meetings and giving of our time and money. I am so proud to be a part of the body, and am always encouraged when I spend time with my church family.

But all this got me thinking even more about the gospel, how Jesus is seen today, and why God gives us the different passions that He does. I used to not have a heart for missions, and would admit it to your face. I was more concerned with relationships here with those I spend time with everyday, and that is how I shared the gospel: discipleship. It used to make me angry when people were so missions minded that they forgot about growing here. All of that changed when I went to the Dominican Republic. I’ve been on a lot of missions trips, but that is the one that God used to change my heart. I still believe wholeheartedly in discipleship and strive to incorporate it into my relationships everyday, but now I realize how much growing and living together includes talking about our separate passions for missions.

God has been so faithful to me since my decision to return here to Lexington. I found a good job doing something I like in less than a week, am enjoying a renewed relationship with my best friend, and am diving headfirst into some goals for the next five months or so. But I have been struggling spiritually with purpose. I am so long-term minded, and I don’t want to waste the time I have being young and out of school and not tied down. I want to see more than what the Southeastern United States has to offer. It doesn’t help that my best friend from camp just drove to California and back, regaling me with tales of all that’s “out there.” God has placed in me a passion for missions, and maybe more than a week or two. I’m talking a year or two. That’s right – little ol’ Ashlyn who loves sitting on her mac wants to spend extensive time where there is no electricity, much less Internet, doing manual labor and planting churches.

But as for now, I’m going to pray. Pray that God continues to grow my passion. Pray that I will remain open to opportunities. And pray for those who are already gone or going: Peggy in Costa Rica, AC in Cambodia, and the gang going to Africa in May: Erin, Paul, Tracy, Josh, Evan, and Kim.

I’m starting to fully realize the truth of the verse incorporated into my new tattoo: For from Him and through Him and to Him are ALL things. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.