faith | lies revealed in the silence

Friday, February 20, 2015


"You have masterfully convinced them and sold them
on an identity that [isn't] you."
- Toure Roberts

I am very much a people person.

Some people hate doing personality profiles, but if you're familiar with them I can tell you that I am a true ENFJ in every sense of the category (click here for a little more insight as to what I mean when I say that). I love being around people. I love leading groups. I am very detailed-oriented, even though I think in big picture visions instead of small steps. I believe passion and purpose go hand-in-hand, and I am very rarely anywhere without at least a small crew. These days, that crew is usually my one-year-old daughter and Baby Boy Flores who is still baking in the belly/oven, but you get the picture.

My soul craves community.

But as an adult, as a wife, as a mother, as a career woman, as a friend, etc. I have come into the realization that sometimes we need to be isolated.

The deafening nothingness found in silence used to make my heart beat intensify. I'm not sure why, but I've always felt like I needed someone around me. I needed something to be going on. I needed to feel like I belonged to something greater than me.

That "something" is, and always was, the body of Christ. I just didn't know it.

In those quiet moments, I can hear the Holy Spirit so clear. He doesn't always say what I want to hear, but it's always the Truth. He reveals secrets about myself that I'd been drowning out by constantly creating a vibrant atmosphere.

Recently, He reminded me that I need to take advantage of the village around me because I am hindering people from fulfilling their rolls, and growing as givers.

Whoa.

I heard the quote at the beginning of this post recently. The pastor who was speaking meant it in a different way as he was talking to individuals who were portraying a lesser version of themselves. Those who were not showing their worth in Christ through their behavior, but feeling hurt or angry or confused when people simply treated them the way they'd been basically trained to treat them. This statement hit me heart, but in the opposite way.

I often find myself buried under the weight of being grand, being perfect. Of course, people tell me, "we know you're not perfect" and "you can't do everything on your own", but their actions towards me show otherwise. I have spent years blaming them for this pressure. It's their fault that I'm completely exhausted at the end of each day because they expect so much from me. The owner of the hair salon I get the occasional services from recently said something along the lines of:

"People expect us to be able to wake up, spend an hour in prayer and meditation with the Lord, make breakfast (maybe even eat some ourselves), get the kids ready, pack lunches, get everyone off to where they need to be, work eight or more hours at work, come home, cook dinner (and again...maybe even eat some), get everyone ready for bed and then hit repeat for tomorrow. And don't even mention that you're tired, or can't volunteer at church this weekend because then you're not doing enough; you're not serving enough. And you better do it with a smile because if not, then you're an ungrateful wife and mother, and a complainer."

Amen, sister!

I have had these same feelings so many times I can't even count.

But what if it's because I have tried to prove time and time again that I can wear all of those hats? What if my constant striving to please God by serving others has prevented me from thriving as I serve others? What if in the midst of all the trying, and forcing, and working, and pressing on that I have created and image of myself that doesn't need time to just be still at His feet?

That's a lie.

I need that time.

I need the help.

I can't do it all.

And neither can you, friend.

And the fact that others treat us like we can is probably because we made them think we could because we thought we had to. It's time for us to stop trying to carry the burdens Jesus promised He would carry for us. Let Him carry them. 

And for those of us who are married to godly husbands, we have access to a man who desires in his heart to love us like Christ. He desires to sacrifice you. He desires to serve you. He desires to be compassionate, and protective, and honoring of our presence. He desires to die to himself for us. But we have to let him.

It's time for us to come from behind the fictional veil of perfection and fall on our face in need true need of our Savior.

It's time for us to confess the lie and accept the truth that we are not enough, but He is enough; therefore, he is all we need.

We need to stop portraying the image of super-Christian-wife-mommy-lady and be real and transparent with our brokeness. Embracing that truth doesn't make us weak, or whiners, or less than; it simply makes us human.


xoxo, 
Ashley Danielle





//sponsored by //

family | why i don't care why i married my husband

Saturday, February 14, 2015



"When you're really really in love with someone, you give them the power to hurt you. You give them the power to distract you...and any time that you pull a piece of your heart away from someone you devalue the relationship." - Sarah Jakes

-------

Okay, so first let's have a little disclaimer: I totally put a lot of thought into getting married. But stick with me here and I'll explain the title of this post. 

The Mr. and I openly tell people that our first encounter was anything but love at first sight. He thought I was too forward and I thought he was quite arrogant. After a few more encounters over the next couple of months these impressions of one another improved slightly, but not much. After meeting in groups a few times, we went on our first date eventually and I got to know his heart a little more. Fast foward six weeks: we got engaged. 

Speed up about five more months, we got married. And now here we are three+ years later. 

Through the many memories of smiles and laughter and late nights watching Kung Fu Panda in the living room, there have been some really tough moments as well. We have argued and argued and argued some more. We've prayed and hugged and kissed...and then probably argued some more.

Married life is real.

My husband hurts my feelings. 

And I hurt his too. 

We're not bad people; we're just people. 

Regular, human people.

Two flawed individuals who got the wacky idea to try to become "one" (whatever that means), and live our lives serving God by serving one another. 

We fail at it a lot. 

But we keep trying. 

I hear a lot of people talk about the care and thought that should be placed into marriage before accepting a ring from the man who is courting you. Though I wholeheartedly agree the decision should not be taken lightly, I also feel like some of the reasons why I said "yes" to his ringless-at-the-time proposal don't really matter too much anymore.

Why?

Because neither one of us are still those same people who sat all starry-eyed on his living room sofa that night. We have changed so much, and continue to change. As we should. The closer we grow to God, the more our convictions should alter our hearts. The more we simply grow as people, the more informed we become of our individual preferences and styles.

He doesn't dress the same. Our conversations are different. He's not passionate about some of the same things. He has become passionate about things he wasn't before. 

Before I got married, I had a handful of very concrete dreams and goals. I remember how I felt when I would talk about them with The Mr. and he would comment, sounding so supportive or at least intrigued. Well, most of those dreams have changed and our family has grown and I have had to push back several of them while I attempt to support his dreams and goals. 

We are still trying to navigate how to make our individual goals transform into our dreams and goals. 

I believe that when we first said "I do" we both still had up a few walls, and three years later I have learned that this was not just an assumption, but a fact. I had/have some boundaries that are guarded by Navy Seals, and he had/has a few that very well may be surrounded by rabid pit bulls. 

I recently listened to a podcast of Sarah Jakes and her then fiance, now husband, Toure Roberts speaking on how their relationship developed and a few roadblocks that popped up. he mentioned how he attempted to have complete control over just how much of himself he gave over to her because he didn't want the way she made him feel to affect him too much from doing work. She said his phone call sort of went like this:

"I love you, but I think I'm going to have to re-position the way I love you because I was just all messed up today. I couldn't hardly focus or get stuff done. So, what I want to do is...I still love you...but I just want to love you in a way that I can still make it through the day..."

Her response: "Oh, so you don't want to be in love."

Exactly. 

When we are truly in love with someone we hand over a certain amount of power to them that gives them the opportunity to disappoint, distract, hurt, and even manipulate us. These aren't things we pray they would ever do, but it happens. Why? Because the process of becoming one with our spouses should be when we are at our most vulnerable. I should not have a more intimate relationship with anyone on earth other than my husband. If we are "one", then he should know me like I know me. I should go to him with my feelings, fears, victories, etc. first because I know them first myself. I should be concerned with his needs (and even his wants) just like I am concerned about my own. I should be just as selfish about him spending time with God's word as I am about my own. 

And vice versa.  

Today, is Valentine's Day. A day where we are told by almost every means of societal and digital communication that we should be completely focused on showing those we love just how much we do. 

Y'all...that should be every day. 

My marriage should be a constant reflection of God's love. A replica of Christ's death. But not just His death, but His resurrection. The blood of Jesus can resurrect a dead marriage

It's a process that we are working through, but the beauty is that we are choosing to still work to break those walls down. We are striving to focus on learning the love the people we are now, instead of mourning over longing for the people we used to be.


xoxo, 
Ashley Danielle


//sponsored by //

family | happy birthday to felicity grace

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Her first (of many) birthday brunch!

Our Beloved Felicity turned one on December 26th.

And even though I'm over a month late posting this, it's hard to believe God blessed us with her that long ago. Not because the time feels like it's been shorter than that, but mostly because I can hardly remember what The Mr. and I used to do before she came into our lives.

Time seems to begin with her gentle kicks in my belly, which soon turned into full force ninja kicks. It seems like she's always been with us. Her laughter forces anyone who is around her to smile. Her joy is so genuine and pure. She makes every day a thousand times brighter.

I love the way she can bring a smile out of complete strangers in the grocery store.

I love how she didn't gradually start walking, but just kind of took of across the dining room toward The Mr. one evening.

I love that her laugh is a mixture between that of a tween and an eight-year-old woman.

I love every curl in her hair.

I love her little pudgy feet.

I love (well...it's a love/hate relationship) how she tries to roll away as soon as I clean her tush while changing her diaper.

I love the way her eyes light up when she sees her daddy.

I love that she cries when I yell "STOP" at her when she's doing something she shouldn't be, but then comes straight to me for a hug.

I love how our family loves her.

I love how she loves, so pure.

I love how she is an undeniable example of how much God loves me.

Happy Birthday (...and some days) to our beloved Felicity Grace. 

//sponsored by //

faith | beloved: the unmentionables series experience

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

 
Have you ever started to work on a project that you were beyond excited about, but also felt completely ill-equipped to execute?

That's sort of the feeling I had as I entered the Beloved event last weekend in Birmingham, AL. I mentioned last week that I'd be travelling there to speak on abortion as part of their unMentionables Series. Though I'd prayed about it several times, and was very comfortable with standing in front of a group telling my abortion testimony, I was still a little antsy on the car ride up. I could try to blame it all on the fact that I wasn't feeling too well during the days leading up to the event, but I've faked a calm demeanor more than a couple of times when my stomach was actually doing back flips so that certainly was not the case.
 
I think it was mostly the weight we often carry when we allow the expectations of others control our emotions. I'm not sure what each woman in that room came expecting to receive, but they definitely wanted something.
 
And they wanted it from me.
 
What could I possibly have to give them?
 
Who was I to even give it?
 
While riding in the deafening silence on the way to Birmingham, I could feel the Holy Spirit answer that question: the truth; just give them the Truth.
 
Tell them you're flawed. Tell them you were selfish. Tell them you became a mother way before you ever gazed into the beautiful eyes of your daughter. Tell them you were wrong. Tell them your son isn't here. Tell them where he is now. Tell them you grieved his death, and tell them you have been forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ.
 
And most importantly, let them know that if this is their story they can be forgiven and set free from the bondage of guilt, and shame, and hurt, and confusion as well. Let them know it's not too late.
 
 
So, that's what I did.
 
And I promise you...chains were broken that night.
 
A few women came up to me afterwards and just began to cry as I held their hand and they told me their own story, shared their fears, and thanked me for being vulnerable.
 
You're welcome.
 
When I speak in front of people about abortion, I always expect to get some backlash about it later. The entire message I delivered was recorded and is available here if you'd like to watch it. But I know not everyone who has seen it agrees with what I've said. I always expect a little "pro-choice" hate-mail or comments on social media. My delivery isn't perfect. I'm not a Biblical scholar and I may have even misquoted a Scripture or two, who knows.
 
What's important is that the message was clear; a message of forgiveness and redemption.
 
These women left hearing how beloved they are to God.
 
They were reminded He cares for them.
 
That may not have been what they came to receive, but that's what I was commissioned to give them; a reminder of the purifying power of Jesus Christ's sacrifice.
 
Thank you for allowing me share that Truth.
 
 
 
If you would like more information about how to get connected with a post-abortion healing
class in the Mobile, AL area, please just let me know here and I will get the information
to you as quickly as possible. All correspondences are confidential between you,
myself and the agency that provides that classes.
 
 
xoxo,
Ashley Danielle
 
 

//sponsored by //

health | holy yoga with jess chamberlain

Friday, January 16, 2015

Courtesy of Jessie Chamberlain

Jessie Chamberlain is a 225-RHY instructor and one of my newest Instagram girlfriends. From posting some of the most challenging poses I've ever seen, to brightening my day with pics of her beautiful daughter, she and I have just clicked over the mass expanse of this Internet world. Her heart pours out through the screen, and she has been an inspiration to me in my own Holy Yoga practice. So, of course, I was thrilled when she agreed to write a guest post for me about how connecting with Jesus on her mat has changed her. 

Enjoy.

xoxo, 
Ashley Danielle

------------------------------------------------------ 


I never really understood yoga, or why people did it. 

Until I found Jesus in my practice

People are searching. 

We are built with a giant, gaping hole inside of us that's meant to be filled with Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, too many people don't realize that Jesus is the only one who can satisfy that emptiness. For me, I didn't love yoga until I loved Jesus. I mean, I've always "loved Jesus", I grew up in a very morally-correct house and aimed to do the right things as I grew into adulthood. But loving Jesus was never real for me until around the same time I started my practice. I don't attribute yoga to being my answer. I think yoga was just more of a tool, in assisting me to set time aside to get to my know my Heavenly Father.

Growing up, my life was like the movies. 

My best friend in the whole world lived just across the street from me- I remember everyday at 3:15I would sneak through my neighbors yard and climb this particular tree. It was the spot. The hideaway place that nobody knew about. I would wait there sitting high up on my very own branch, waiting to see my friend running towards the tree. She would swing her backpack behind the large trunk and start scaling the tree. We did this everyday, It was special for us. It's where we shared secrets, and spied on our neighbors. We didn't HAVE to meet there, but we did. Because for us, it worked. 

It was special.

Courtesy of Jessie Chamberlain

I think for me, and many others, Holy Yoga facilitates this special "hideaway" place for us to connect with the Father. Sure, there are numerous places to meet with Him, but there's just something so sweet about finding Him there on my mat. Now, I'm not saying that my mat is a magic carpet. I don't settle down into a posture on my mat and immediately the heavens open. It's just a real-life-space for me to find intimacy with God. Because we all live these lives that are real, with real interruptions, real messes and real pain. 

It's not always about the yoga. 

Sometimes it's just meeting Him daily in our special hideaway spot.

-Jessie


//sponsored by //

Disqus