Friday, September 17, 2010

Journal Entries #2

August 13 – 7am, TC

video

Lord how wonderful Your wisdom… [Mark 2]. Father, give me strength and love today as I do my best to love Your daughters. I love the LUSH vegetation of Cambodia. What a testament to God’s unstoppable, unquenchable beauty that in a nation that has known such darkness and pain… that His beauty is still on display, breaking through the dusty, dirty city… Hallelujah!

August 14 – 2pm, Cathy’s home

Just returned from Daughters! (www.daughtersofcambodia.org) Had our nails done, Carmen had a massage, shopped around a little, watched the Daughters informational video, then had lunch at Sugar ‘n’ Spice café upstairs. What a lovely building and ministry!

We don’t set up physical idols in Western nations, but most definitely set up idols in our hearts that are stumbling blocks before our faces [Ezekiel 14:3]:

“Son of man, these men haveset up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?”

In a nation where spiritual warfare is more prevalent than in the West, this verse was such an encouragement, Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” [Mark 3:11]

August 15 – 8am, Stung Mean chey Khmer house church

Lord… let the boys and men in this room grow in faith and

knowledge of Who You are and build up a new Cambodia with You. Use them to show and model the role of husband, father, brother and may they be a God-honouring depiction of Christ and his Church. Thank You, Lord that You prepare the harvest.

Reveal to me my gifts, Lord, so that I may use them wisely, with gracious love and truth.

August 16 – 4:30pm, Cathy’s sitting room
O my word. I have not sweated so much in my life. Helping Juliet clean their furniture (from the OMF storehouse) this morning was intense physical labour but I scrubbed and cleaned as if it were for my own home!

August 17 – 3:15pm, TC library
Father, help me surrender my heart to You… Thoughts of marriage, singleness, and career keep floating about in my head. Things that should be occupying my thoughts/time:

-How can I bring this experience home with me?
-What am I learning about God each day?
-Prayer for Cambodia and its children

August 18 – 5:30pm, Cathy’s
Thank You, Lord, for this day. Hard a wonderful blessed time at the development Work meeting this morning, followed by our second rabies jabs, then a beautifully, gloriously, blessedly sweaty time at the New Life radio station orphanage! Such SWEET children. They possessed a childlike-ness that the girls at the Centre seem to be missing. It was beautiful to see, but also breaks my heart for the girls at WHI. Received a beaded bracelet and three fragrant flowers from a little boy named Pichin, and Bo Lin stuck a flower in my hair…

August 19 – 10:42, bed
Today was such a blessing… 3 new girls arrived at the Centre this week and playing/teaching/praising with the girls was so much fun. After WHI went to Sovanna Shopping Centre for some groceries and candy (or, “sweets” as Sarah would say- J) for the piñatas for the birthday party tomorrow at the Centre! Emailed a lady who works with Daughters regarding taking some Daughters products back home with me to sell, then capped the day with a praise session with Carmen, Sarah and Cathy. Thank You, Lord for moments where we can rejoice and rest in You. Bring freedom to this land, so that the Khmer people may too experience this joy. May the Holy Spirit move. Amen!

August 20 – 7:12am, balcony
The dizziness came again last night while we prayed…

Read Ezekiel this morning… chapter 6. It hit me how much God detests idol worship. Lord, move all Christians here to work TOGETHER to evangelize the nation…

August 21 – 9:45am, City Tour: Royal Palace

So. Many. Idols.

People were bowing and praying to statues of Buddha in there and I just wanted to shout JESUS! …I whispered it instead.




In tuk-tuk, afternoon of City Tour

Nervous to see Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (the infamous torture prison that was under ‘Duch’, a leader in the communist Pol Pot reign) and Choeung Ek Killing Field (where prisoners were taken to be executed after torture at prisons such as Tuol Sleng). Prayed for Holy Spirit to protect my spirit as

we head into these dark . What is the purpose of seeing these places?





Wednesday, September 15, 2010

OMF Serve Asia, Cambodia trip Review

I have been in the process of digesting the whole experience of our Serve Asia time in Cambodia. I am still in the process of digesting. It's like chewing cud, I suppose... I hope to read and re-read my journal to remember and re-remember all the nuggets of awesome Truth that God revealed to me.

I tried to think of an effective way to sum up the trip in a blog post, but thought that MAYBE I could have you walk through the trip with me; I will post a few lines about each day I spent in Cambodia. I pray that as you read through these journal entries with me you can see the God of the universe, the God Who created you and I, moving and being glorified.

Without further ado, I would like to share:

Short-Term Cambodia Mission Trip 2010

August 8 - 12:25am, Pearson Airport

Carmen and I board in like 20 minutes for our flight to Taipei! I can't believe it! I've been feeling sick to my stomach all afternoon and evening... Oh... Lord forgive my unprepared and stubborn heart! Break me. Shape me, reform me. Let this broken clay pot be used to show Your glory.



August 8 - 5:30am (Taipei time)
We've landed in Taipei!!! And have 4 hours to wait!!! Lord, what will You show me in the next 3 weeks? What is Your will for me here? Currently I feel: fear, worry excitement, disbelief that I am ACTUALLY en route to Phnom Penh.

August 9 - 1:30pm OMF Guest House Phnom Penh

WOW WOW WOW Praise God! ...I can't believe we're HERE. It is SO HOT. I just showered and I'm sweating again. Definitely have to poop, definitely exhausted, but SO SO floored to be here.








August 10 - 8:05am, OMF Team Centre Library
Hurrah! Sarah has joined us. Had our first team breakfast this morning, and now reading in the library... In times of spiritual plenty I adjust my behaviour to reflect it- but when was the last time, at a mountaintop, that I examined and asked God to adjust/transform/break open my heart? Read in My Utmost for His Highest this morning:
"We have to see that this mortal flesh is kept in perfect subjection to Him and that He works through it moment by moment."
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. [Psalm 139:23-24]

August 11 - 11PM, Movie room
Fell off to sleep after dinner tonight... today was pretty wonderful:
-Survival Khmer lesson with Susan! So fun! So hard!
-Phase 1-ers meeting on how to build relationships with the Khmer people
-signed out bicycles
-Carmen, Sarah and I went to get rabies vaccinations (many stray dogs around!).. just by ourselves... in a tuktuk!
-at the TC (team centre) planned out tomorrow's activities at WHI (World Hope International). Can't wait!
-team prayer time
Lord, help my body fight off this jetlag and whatever is causing me to feel sick.

August 13 - 6:25am, TC
Be strong and courageous [Joshua 1]. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night... Lord- be with us as we meet the girls today at WHI. Thank You, thank You, Lord.

7pm, TC
H*s description of her artwork today:
I would like to stay a baby so my mom will take care of me forever.
She had tears in her eyes as this was being translated to us. My heart broke.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Packed and ready to leave Phnom Penh... for now

W O W
My thoughts are still rough and the things I've seen and heard are still too raw to properly address right now, but suffice to say at the moment that God has GRIPPED my heart.
Heart is something that has been a constant lesson during these three weeks, as well as faith. I've been challenged in so many ways in terms of relationship status, mission work as a career, WHAT to do in terms of career, my identity.... There are so many things but I still have to process everything that I've journaled and boil the overwhelming amount of STUFF into a digestible pellet of information. Both for myself and to share with others. Hm.

In the past few weeks we have led programs at World Hope International assessment centre... we worked with girls who were rescued from brothels or rape victims, just allowing them to be kids and singing, playing games, teaching English... we also led programs at two orphanages where we were received with much love and affection- these kids just LOVE skinship and immediately Carmen, Sarah and I had several children dangling from each arm. It was interesting to see the difference in the way we were received at the assessment centre, versus the orphanages... We also visited a few very different churches and each one was so amazing!!!

We went on a City Tour of Phnom Penh which was actually very difficult; the pain this nation has suffered under the reign of Pol Pot from 1975-1979 is just astounding. A reminder of the atrocities that occurred are memorialized in the Genocide Museum (Tuol Sleng) and one of The Killing Fields (Choeung Ek). This was quite a difficult day, as in the morning we toured the Royal Palace, National Museum and Wat Phnom (the temple that sits on the hill that allegedly was the birth place of Phnom Penh as we know it today) which were laden with statues of Buddha and other idols. We headed into the afternoon already spiritually and physically drained... Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek definitely pushed me over the edge that day. Something I journaled in the tuk-tuk on the way back home from the Killing Fields:

Saw three small children on the side of the road... one was passing an old, dusty-looking teddy bear to one of the others. There is so much garbage, dust, crumbling pavement everywhere- and this is in the big CITY.
It's so amazing that people find... joy? happiness? and laughter in any circumstances... but, dilapidated houses hovering over mucky water on stilts? Naked children playing in the dusty dirty streets, begging tourists for money? I'm intersecting these people's lives while driving in a tuk-tuk. What am I taking with me?
I went to bed early, crying and singing praise songs quietly in the room Carmen and I share. Before I fell asleep, though, God spoke so clearly to me... to truly love the people of Cambodia I must understand them, and their history is part of who they are. That day was quite painful, but I was assured that God is bigger than and able to handle our pain, at any time. This made me reflect on my own past and it was a HUGE comfort and lesson for me. PRAISE GOD!

We were able to take a trip up-country to Siem Reap, the tourist-y city of Cambodia where all the famous temple complexes are. SO BEAUTIFUL. I hope to post photos soon!

All in all, I DEFINITELY got a taste of what life in the mission field could be; I rode on a motorbike for the first time (a VERY common mode of transportation in Cambodia), I haggled with vendors in the markets, have somewhat adjusted to the heat, and even had an emergency root canal and wisdom tooth extraction at a missionary dental clinic here!!! Craziness.

Must sleep now, Sarah leaves earlier than Carmen and I so we see her off at 7:30am tomorrow... I really can't believe we're leaving Cambodia.

I don't think I feel like this is goodbye, though. Please pray that God will open doors for me to return soon! :) Thank you all, I will post again about details of the trip when I return to the Western hemisphere!

Love and blessings,
Ashley

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quick! Updated Prayer Points.

  • Spiritual protection: I have been feeling really OVERLY-overly-sensitive (I'm overly-sensitive to begin with~ hehe) since the weekend- to people and situations and its making me think strange things. I have also been having many many dreams, not all of them bad, but some have been very dark and strange and have impacted my mindset throughout the day.
  • Vision: how does this short-term trip to Cambodia fit in with God's bigger picture for my life? For His kingdom? I need clearer eyes, and a more receptive heart.
  • For the children: we have been working with children rescued from brothels and have seen several episodes of sudden crying, violence, and one of the girls expressed a desire to be "taken care of forever". These girls need love and freedom from their painful pasts that only knowing Christ can give. Tomorrow we will go to lead a program for 35 children (girls and boys) in an orphanage on the outskirts of the city... We need Jesus.
  • For the international Christian community to become much more aware of human trafficking issues, in Cambodia and elsewhere.
  • For our team (Carmen, Sarah and I) to really display sisterly love and Christ-like genuine-ness with each other, so that other missionaries, the locals, and the children we work with may be blessed by our team.

On another note, I really do need to invest in a good camera for future mission trips.... .. :(

Thank you, God bless you!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Phnom Penh!

We have arrived and settled and for the most part (well, 2/3 of our team hehe) gotten over our jetlag!
PRAISE GOD for leading us to this point.
I keep having moments of "where am I? Am I really in Cambodia? Is that really a palm tree outside of my window? Is it really STILL this hot?"... I think it'll be a few days yet until I'm truly settled, here.
As we went over our itinerary for the upcoming weeks, I physically felt thrills of excitement down my spine.
But! I do not want this excitement to be out of my simply being in this city. As I spent time in the Word and reflected last night and this morning, I realized that God is trying to get to my HEART.
Its a humbling and scary thing: I am asking myself if I have ever truly let God transform my heart! The fact that I ask that question makes me doubt if I ever have.
I know I'm physically in a strange new place and that change that occurs here could easily be categorized as yet another response to spiritual revelation in a strange new place. Please pray that I may be open and receptive to the Holy Spirit as I allow God to touch my heart... and I know I may not have explained this as fully/descriptively as I could but I am going to be late for a bicycle ride around our neighbourhood!!!

More to come...

With love and blessings,
Me.

***************

Okay, have gone on bicycle ride around the neighbourhood, talked with one of the long-term missionaries about ministry at the assessment center (which I am SO PSYCHED about) and have had dinner... am now combatting jet lag (which I guess I haven't gotten over, after all).

So, before I pass out I thought I'd just finish up my thoughts from earlier today.
God keeps bringing words concerning the "heart" and our "inner being" to mind, and I am very much wanting that je ne sais quoi that has been missing at even my most the heady mountaintop times with God. Can I develop, maintain and desire further intimacy with the Lord always? Can I learn to walk with Him instead of being swept up by my mere (puny) understanding of Him and His works? Can I take God out of the mental box I have placed Him in and allow Christ to be made manifest in my life, moment by moment..... I don't know how, and I'm not sure if it'll begin to happen on this trip, but I do believe God is calling me to something more than situational and periodical holiness and discipline.

*shiver*

Okay. I am definitely feeling loopy- bicycling around Phnom Penh will definitely be bumpy, sweatyyyy adventures, but our short trip around this afternoon was so much fun! I have yet to ride a tuk-tuk or motodup, but hopefully I can get some photos of that when it happens. We're having a short lesson on survival Khmer phrases tomorrow morning and... there is just so much more planned I can't even believe it.

Just on a tangent, I cannot believe the variety and FRESHNESS of the fruit here! Dragonfruit, lychee, longan, papaya, bananas (that are ripe despite their GREENness!) are readily available and deliciousss. I'd drool right now, if I weren't so full from supper.

Goodnight, be blessed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? ... If I say, "Surely the dark will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. [Psalm 139:7, 11-12]

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. [Philippians 2:12-13]

Confession. The past couple weeks here at home in London, ON Canada have been markedly devoid of discipline, passion, abiding and rejoicing in the work that God has been and IS bringing about in me. I know that His will will be accomplished despite my personal hang-ups and shortcomings... and although I have seriously been sucky, I thank God for His grace and love. Over the past year I have grown to see my sin as more detestable, disgusting, heart-breaking... how sinful and ugly we are! Our hearts - beyond cure and understanding. I am so increasingly humbled and awed that a beautiful, holy, complete, pure, perfect Creator would love me. I have so much to repent of: attitudes, words, actions...
Most of all! It has been revealed to me by a VERY convicting/difficult/much-needed conversation with a wonderful brother that I definitely have some issues to deal with here in this city I call "home". Instead of walking in intimacy with Christ and carrying that light wherever I go, I have made London my place of light-sucking, comfortable laziness. This blows my mind, because this is precisely the situation I had been anticipating and thus trying to avoid. I have again fallen into the trap of allowing my environment to dictate to what degree of maturity/discipline I live out my faith; what I call "situational discipline"... but no more! No more accepting things as they are and just settling. Let me have the courage and receptiveness to allow the Holy Spirit's transformative power be at work at me EVERYWHERE I go, not just in certain locales.

So! In terms of Cambodia prep, I have a few more details now.
Regarding Finances... I do not have an exact figure (will update as soon as I'm given the information from OMF, myself!) but I do believe I am nearing full support! I must again thank everyone who has given (so incredibly generously) to support me in this adventure. I have thank you cards. :)
Our Work: We have been told that for two of the weekends in August our team will be leading a children's ministry at an aftercare/assessment facility in Phnom Penh. I hope to give more details closer to the actual dates of this program, but I will say I am SO excited and humbled that God has given us short-termers this opportunity to partner with this local ministry!!!
Other work will include maintenance for the local ministry (painting a fence with the girls), and otherwise being available to serve wherever we are needed by the long-term missionaries in Phnom Penh.
Travel : Me and my teammate Carmen are flying out from Pearson Airport (Toronto, ON) on August 8 at 1:30AM. This flight is 15 hours long and will take us to Taipei, Taiwan where we will have a 6 hour layover before hopping on a plane to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We will arrive in Phnom Penh on August 9 at 11:35am. We will be meeting our third team member Sarah when
we arrive in Phnom Penh.

Prayer
1. Finances - that God may take each supporter's donation and multiply it to bless many people's lives
2. Ministry - may Christ be the centre of everything that I say and think and do in preparation for and in the midst of serving the women and children of Cambodia.
3. Travel - safety and for a smooth transfer of flights in Taipei
4. Physical health - I started to feel back pain today... last summer my back pain was healed HOURS before leaving for Tibet by much prayer. I believe that God can do it now! Please pray for physical healing, so that my physical body will in no way be a hindrance to my fulfillment of God's purpose!
-Also, of course, my eczema. I won't get into details, but the hot weather has caused a couple flare-ups in my skin condition and I am afraid the hot muggy weather in Cambodia will do the same. Eczema flare-ups make doing anything and everything uncomfortable and/or painful...
5. Spiritual awareness/maturity - let the blessings God has poured out on me not be spent on me in vain. Please also pray for spiritual protection and for current feelings of negativity and dark fear to cease to have any grip on me.
6. Focus - It amazes me how quickly I lose sight of the saving power of Christ's blood shed for me. Let not thoughts, surroundings or people be distractions from the One Thing that truly has worth.

I can do nothing alone... and thank goodness, because on my own I feel so much turmoil and unrest. But God is telling me John 14:27 over and over, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid."



















This is me, right now, with back brace/stabilizer band thing. Owie.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Frame of reference

HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!

The tiniest detail in which I obey has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it.
-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (June 15)

The past couple weeks have been action-packed and wonderful. I've done a lot of reflecting on how the Ashley of today is different than the Ashley who moved to Central Illinois in September 2009. Thank God for the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. And for grace. And for His love...
I keep challenging myself to keep God as my "frame of reference" through which I view all little aspects/details of life in this world. It has been difficult and uncomfortable but truly a growing experience and I am so thankful for my beloved family in Christ who keep me on track and speak gracious truth to me! Believing/trusting and living what [Romans 8:28] says, that God works all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose has been SO freeing and scary all at once. Letting go of my agenda, my hopes and my plans for the "perfect conditions" or "perfect scenario" has allowed me to be receptive to God's direction, God's plans, and God's conditions and scenarios... which of course are THE BEST directions, plans, conditions and scenarios! It's so cool how He does that; promises us the best (which, admittedly may not be what we categorize as "the best")..... and then carries it to fruition. How little we think of Him to question and hem and haw when faced with the tiniest bump in the road of our existence!

I am still awed by how God has blessed and opened doors this year, especially in the area of Cambodia.
I had read the books, researched articles and watched the video clips, but I had experienced a couple closed doors and was at one point looking into just booking a flight on my own and had even asked a friend if she was interested in accompanying me. I knew I had to somehow get to Cambodia. Dennis (THANKS, Dennis!) suggested I look into OMF for summer mission trips, and I was very excited when the Cambodia team coordinator (hi, Bonnie! ^^) replied right away. Ever since that first email I sent, I've been prayed over and encouraged and I am so so grateful for everyone at OMF and especially for Bonnie for giving me wise words of advice and guidance! She's off to Japan for her own mission trip and I'm looking forward to hearing about what she learns during her time there...
Now it's the end of June. Just over ONE MONTH until I fly to Cambodia... and I still do not know what to expect. It was SO wonderful meeting my Cambodia teammate Carmen Chow at the OMF training session in Toronto on June 11-12, and my prayers are with her and her family in Hong Kong right now. Our plane tickets were booked last week, which makes the pending trip much more real to me... but still it hasn't really "hit" me that I will ACTUALLY be GOING to CAMBODIA. Praise God that He is big enough to handle (and guide... and teach) my small-mindedness hahaha.

So! Quick overview of my current Cambodia Preparation Status
(Let's also make this double as a Prayer Request List! Please pray for all items that are un-CHECKed~)
  • Met with, am keeping in contact with and praying for teammate Carmen: CHECK
  • Valid passport: CHECK (remember to tuck in $25US for traveler's visa!)
  • Plane tickets: CHE- wait. They're booked, but have not yet received e-ticket from OMF office
  • Travel insurance: CHECK
  • Immunizations: Please someone keep me accountable for this! I should have done this ... a long time ago.
  • Finances: Still a few hundred dollars to go, but I totally trust that God will provide! There is still time for this.
  • ...
*****
Woo! I took a break from writing because I was getting sleepy and MAN did anyone get outside tonight??? I went for an exxxxtra-long run, just to enjoy the black, velvet-y, star-dusted sky! AAAND as I was cooling down and stretching, an orange moon rose and... .. I really revel in moments like these. MMmmmmmM.

I've been trying to go easy on the Cambodia reading as of late, because I found that around May all my reading and thinking about the nation had started making me feel veryyy burdened and heavy and weighed down. I do want to keep up with current issues, especially in the Phnom Penh area, but I also want to do so with discernment and wisdom. Please pray for this with me.

Oh I have so much more to say, but lest I bore you I shall stop for now! ;)
You do have a video to watch, after all (PLEASE forgive my lapses of major nerdiness). I clearly cannot gauge time when recording videos... watch til the end for a couple "bloopers". HAHA!

video
If you've stopped by and read this update, please do leave a comment! Whether to respond to the question I ask you in this video, or just a word of encouragement.. I would really appreciate it. Thanks! :)

Once again, I thank God for my friends and family in Christ who have prayed me to this point and I am so excited to see what MORE God has planned. Whether it be joyous revelation or painful heartbreak, I am praying that I maintain a teachable heart.

I love you! Thank you! Talk to you soon.

Blessings and Love in Him,
~Ashley

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! AMEN.
[Romans 11:36]

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Like sunlight burning at midnight.

This past weekend I attended the OMF Pre-Departure training retreat at the OMF Guest House in Toronto, ON.
The traveling required on this 3-day, 1400-mile, multiple-modes-of-transit trip is something that I am not used to and I am still quite tired from, but thank God that I had a safe and enlightening trip! The weekend was one huge blessing: people I encountered on the way up to Ontario (the nice ones!), the OMF training itself, meeting my sweet teammate Carmen and team coordinator Bonnie, seeing family, being able to worship at my home church London Korean Christian Church, and having good catch-up chats with a couple friends. God is gooood.

I am still so awed at the Lord's provision and guiding hand in my life. I truly feel that this past year in Peoria has been a blessed growing experience; I am learning to stretch out my legs and walk with Him. I feel that I am finally growing past the infancy of my spiritual journey and it excites me to the point of fear! Fear for what this growth could mean: boldness, learning to live a life worthy of His calling, martyrdom even!!! An area I really need to grow in is that of prayer. I desire to pray bold, powerful prayers like in [Acts 4:31]! I believe that the lack of an active, passionate prayer life is indicative of an embarrassingly small faith; if we truly believe that God
is Who He says He is, our prayers should be moving mountains! Shaking meeting places! At the very least be changing our lives! Oh, Lord increase my faith.

Haha I'm rambling.
I wanted to update on my finances situation and give God PRAISE and THANKS for moving
people's hearts to give so generously. I have been BLOWN AWAY by how my friends have been giving. Five supporters have brought me to more than 80% of my total amount ($2510)!!! Thank you so much for trusting God with your finances. May He continue to move in your heart, bless you and increase your faith! (HAHA, byyyy the way I haven't used Excel in a long time and this graphic took me FOREVER to make)

I have learned so much by seeing God move people to give to this mission trip. My understanding of sacrifice and giving is being challenged and I appreciate that these sacrifices my friends have given could have been painful for them. May God teach me to give of myself with such generosity and faith!

To be honest, May was a difficult time. I was very spiritually dry, I felt like I was being pulled in 15 different directions and being very distracted and I found myself trying to "muscle it", as Pastor Tim Harkness would say. It's HARD! I do believe I am coming up out of this and refuse to let Satan maintain a hold on me.

Prayer Requests
I'm struggling with an issue that I thought had passed a couple years ago, but once disciplined time in the Word and time with God went out the window this issue cropped up again with a certain vengeance. It is an issue of self-image and self-esteem and it is physically taking a toll on me. I do ask that you could pray with me through this. May God be sovereign in my heart, MIND and body.
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! [Mark 9:24]

I know not to "expect" things on this mission trip but I KNOW that God will exceed any subconscious ones that I do have.

My Recent Activities
  • learning to play songs on the guitar: Thank You by The Katinas, I Will Go by Starfield, general chords and strumming :) I would love to be able to play guitar (well) so I could take this skill to the mission field!
  • madly journaling
  • running, on and off. and by on and off, I mean one week I'll be on, one week off. hahaha. I want to be more disciplined in this!
  • co-counseling with Pastor Steve at the Harvest Peoria office
  • assisting with the younger high school kids group with speech, writing, communication for the Korean summer program @ PCS
  • saw Can You Hear Us? at Grace Church in Morton and am still BLOWN AWAY by Kaitlin Pflederer's voice and lyrics
  • preparation for Cambodia!!!!!
Okay! This is my mid-June update. Thank you for your prayerful and financial support so far and please contact me if you have any questions or personal prayer requests!

Love and blessings,
Ashley

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gracious uncertainty

The title of this blog comes from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest. The devotion from April 29 is titled "The graciousness of uncertainty" and struck a chord with me at the time (and now!) A beautiful excerpt from this devo is as follows:
Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life:
gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life.
To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways,
we do not know what a day may bring forth.
This is generally said with a sigh of sadness;
it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation.
We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God.
...
Leave the whole thing to Him, it is gloriously uncertain how He will come in,
but He will come.

I don't think I'm called to a life of celibacy, but right now I want to live like I am.
To find fullness in Christ and in Him alone... and the STRENGTH to abide in Him alone!
I want to live IN this fullness until it pleases God to call me out of singleness, not just hoping and waiting for the future to come.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lift-off

I am going to commit to staying off of a certain social networking site until I leave for a short-term mission trip to Cambodia on August 8, 2010.
As it has come to my attention that my use of said site is not of a beneficial and/or healthy manner, I believe that this two-month hiatus from it will be good for me. Perhaps I can acquire perspective and the wisdom to use it in an appropriate manner (i.e. not to stalk the wedding album of a friend's friend's friend's sister!).
On a spiritual level, Facebook has become an idol (Pronunciation: \ˈī-dəl\ an object of extreme devotion) and I believe that eliminating it from my life for the time being would free up some of my wasted time to do more productive things.

I want to be very deliberate with this blog. Less of my usual random rants and more intentional, thought-out and (I hope) coherent ponderings.

I'd like to start off by introducing my plans for this summer.
Since August 2009 I have been moved to pray for and learn more about Cambodia and especially the issue of sex trafficking in that land. God has been so faithful and has aligned various things in my life to allow me to be part of the "Love for Cambodia" team, which will be serving from August 9 - August 30. My heart breaks over the tragic stories I have read about and for the ones I know are being scarred onto the hearts of little girls at this moment.

I went to a concert by Can You Hear Us? last night at Grace Church in Morton, IL and was just wrecked by it. Kaitlin Pflederer's voice was so pure and pleading; she is definitely gifted in story-telling and I was so blessed to hear God speaking to and convicting me (and I'm sure ALL who were present) through her music.
I had heard and read many similar stories, but was particularly challenged to do something IMMEDIATELY and in the environment I find myself in NOW. I am very excited and nervous and expectant for the trip in August, but even if Jesus returned to take us home tomorrow, I want to be like the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time. It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. [Matthew 24:45-46]

I hope to record my journey as I walk in faith of God's provision and revelation in me and the people around me.
May my vision become greater and greater as You shape and grow this sinful, reluctant heart.

Give me increase and progress in grace
so that there may be
more decision in my character,
more vigour in my purposes,
more elevation in my life,
more constancy in my zeal.
(Puritan prayer)