faith | time with God pt. 5 - fight

Wednesday, April 27, 2016



Last year, a friend of mine was kind enought to let me and few other moms into her home as she hosted a live broadcast of the Thrive Moms Retreat

The purpose of the retreat was to give moms a chance to bond with one another, without the kiddos, while being uplifted uplifted by some amazing guest speakers. The event itself was so wonderfully put together, the women who spoke encouraged us in God's truth, and the worship session during the intermission could've easily left anyone of laid out on the floor in reverence and gratitude for the Father. Unfortunately, I did not realize most of the aspects of the retreat until about two days later when I watched the playback at work. 

Why?

Because only one mom could actually find a sitter that day. 

Our "retreat" quickly became a play-date for our littles. And even though we are grateful for the pint-sized humans God allowed us to feed and change and chase and stop from pushing over surround-sound speakers and teach how to share a bowl of pears, I became very aware of a truth that wasn't mentioned during the retreat: my time with God is my responsibility first. 

I must fight for it. 

Whether you have children or not, there is probably something in your life that keeps you busy that you can't just brush off. You can't reschedule what time your child will wake up like you can a lunch date so you can have a little meditation time. Your professor may not be very understanding if you say you failed an exam earlier this week because you wanted to watch Women of the Bible on Sunday so you didn't study. The chances of a husband saying he'll watch the kids on a Saturday morning (even though he may really want to) so you can get lost in that Beth Moore book you downloaded last Spring are kind of slim. Not because he doesn't care, but because he probably worked a full day on Friday just like you and is also craving more time with Mr. Sandman. I don't know any supervisors, not even ones in full-time ministry vocations (and there may be some), that will say, "You know what? I'll get someone else to teach Children's Church for a couple of weeks. You spend some time in evening finally finishing that Abide study you started over 6 months ago". 

These are people who probably care about our spiritual well-being (yes, maybe even the professor; they might actually be a kind-hearted Christian who prays for their students each night so don't assume they aren't). But they have responsibilities just like you do. 

We have to fight for those moments. 

Sometimes, the way I come across having some amazingly intimate times with God are completely unplanned. I was simply folding laundry and realized my daughter was asleep, son was knocked out and there was a Bible on our filing cabinet calling my heart to get lost in it. Other times, I have had to fight for those moments. 

I have had to do whatever I possibly can to make sure I get some alone time with the Trinity. 

My sisters, my brothers, it's worth the fight. 

He is worth the fight. 

One of my favorite songs right now is A Little Longer by Jenn Johnson of Bethel. Each time I hear her belt out the lyrics, "Stay. You don't have yo do a thing. Just let those things go; they can wait another minute."

That truth is so difficult for me to grasp sometimes.

A friend said it best about a week ago when I asked them were they about to start studying for a final they had coming up, or about to spend some time reading their Bible. They casually, yet confidently, replied, "Bible before work."

Bible before work. 

Yes, Lord!

You before work. 

Being with Him shouldn't be work. It shouldn't feel like a chore. It should be something we crave. The laundry, the dishes, the text message, the E-mail, the phone can wait another minute while we rest at His feet.

Even if it's just for a few minutes. 


So, how are you fighting for time with God? If you haven't been zealous in fighting for time with Him, in what ways do you think you could start? I'd love to chat with you about it. 



...and feel free to bask in the beauty of this song with me. *hugs and love*





xoxo, 
Ashley Danielle






faith | time with God pt. 4 - stillness

Monday, April 25, 2016


It's so hard for me sit still and be quiet.

Our society is so busy and noisy that I know I'm not the only in this constant struggle of wanting to hear God's voice, but feeling undeniably uneasy when I'm in an almost completely quiet room. No, removing ourselves from noise is not a requirement to be intimate with God, but Scripture gives us several examples of people who removed themselves from the crowd to dig a littler deeper into our Father's heart for us. 

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them,“Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 
|| Matthew 26:36, NIV ||

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. 
|| Exodus 20:18:21, NIV ||

No, I do not believe God is hindered by the chaos we create with our to-do lists, and goals and obligations and...blah blah blah. And not all of those things are bad. I think He wants us to be organized and methodical when it comes to carrying out the tasks and gifts He's blessed us with. However, we should never allow the internal noise of our schedules to overcast the eternal thunder of His presence. There is something so intimate, so beautiful, so self-sacrificing in one of the smallest but yet meaningful ways when we give our time to Him. 

Today, I challenge you.

Take five minutes. 

Yes, five whole minutes. 

And be still.

Put your phone on silent, go in your closet or bathroom or bedroom or wherever, close the door, set a timer and just be still. Close your Bible, put away your journal and put down your pen. Tell God you are here to hear Him and to just rest at His feet. If your heart feels there is something you need to say, just go ahead and say it to Him. But try not to ask for anything. Just praise Him. 

Thank Him for your life. 

Thank Him for your pain. 

Remind yourself of your unworthiness and His sacrifice for you. 

Just be still. 

It is my prayer that we all fight for time with Him. 


xoxo, 



Ashley Danielle

faith | time with God pt. 3 - prayer

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Bible Binder courtesy of The Preppy Christian

love to pray. 

It's never been something I felt forced to do. Even when I was a complete mess in my walk with Christ during my preteen years, I would still go into the prayer room/office at our house and just still before the Lord. I didn't quite know His character the way Scripture so beautifully paints it. However, I knew He was ruler of all, and was the only One who could change my heart and heal the pain I was dealing with. 

I still love to pray and probably stop for just a few seconds to have a mini-convo with the King at least...well, honestly, I don't know how many times a day I do that; it's a lot. 

But that's the beautiful thing about prayer; it's ongoing. 

We don't have to wait until we are in a large gathering, reading from a book of Common Worship.

We don't have to wait until sunrise or sunset. We don't have to wait until something bad happens. We don't have to only shout praises to Him. We can be real with Him. 

I can stop typing at work for a little bit and ask Him to refocus my wandering mind on the task. I can suddenly smile at the thought of something sweet my husband said and whisper an almost inaudible "thank You, Father" into the air. I can thank Him for a meal, ask Him for direction, tell Him I trust Him, and even tell Him I'm nervous about the unknown. He knows that I'm flawed. He knows how much I need Him even more than I could ever begin to comprehend.

He knows you need Him too. 

Go to Him. 

Slow down for a moment and sit with Him. 

I try not to get caught up in any kind of formula of prayer. I know several doctrines are taught on how we should pray, many of them being modeled after the Lord's Prayer found in Scripture. If you're unfamiliar with it, it reads:

"Our Father in heaven, 
hallowed be Your name, 
Your kingdom come, 
Your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from the evil one." 
|| Matthew 6:9:13, NIV ||

When Jesus prefaces this prayer with the statement, "This, then, is how you should pray:", I do not believe He meant we should say those exact words every time and nothing else. Mainly because He prayed in many ways throughout Scripture and we should always strive to imitate Him. 

But there are a few things I notice that seem to come up over and over again when He prayed; He was grateful, He was bold, He was corporate-minded, He was honest, and He was humble. 

Those are how I want my prayers to look. 

I want them to be a time where I can be completely naked in spirit as I pour my heart out to my Daddy. 

I want to be humble enough to see gratitude all around me, and know He's the one who provided it all. I want to speak (or write in my prayer journal) the gritty unpleasantries of my life in all honesty, and rest knowing He will still love me anyway. And I want to boldly make petition for His blessings to reign in my life. 

I also, want to make sure my prayers aren't just about me. I want to pray for His kingdom as a whole. I want to look beyond my little corner of existence and pray for strangers around the world with the same amount of passion that I have for my own children.

I keep a little journal in my handbag (that I definitely don't pull out as much as I should), with prayer requests from other people and world issues I want to focus on each month. Mine is from ValMariePaper, but any little journal that's small enough for you to keep with you all day will do just fine. You could even keep the things you want to remember to pray about in the notes section of our cell phone. The point is to keep them somewhere you will actually see them. My husband even writes his on a sticky note and puts it on the inside cover of his Bible so he knows he'll see it.  

I don't want this post to be one that gives you a list of things to try, but instead I pray it's a little reminder that you can engage in prayer all day everyday

xoxo, 
Ashley Danielle

faith | time with God pt. 2 - studying

Thursday, April 21, 2016



"You don't have to have a 30 minute quiet time every day
to have an intimate relationship with God."


This has become one of my favorite quotes lately.

It's just filled with so much grace. Grace that I often feel I don't deserve, but am slowly learning to accept as a new mom.

When I first gave my life to Christ (like...for real) in 2010, I quickly became very structured in my quiet time. It wasn't because I was made to do so by my then spiritual leaders or anything like that; it's just the type of person I was. I'd just finished undergrad the previous month, and had become accustomed to spending long hours reading, taking notes and memorizing passages. So, I naturally approached learning Scripture the same way.

Also, I must admit, it became an obsession.

An obsession I'm quite proud of.

I wasn't studying Scripture because I was anxious to get it in my brain so I could spit verses at the drop of a dime like the fancy, Bible-teacher-ladies I watched on YouTube. No, I was hungry to know more about the God I'd chosen to serve. I wanted to know His heart, and to try and understand how I could be anything like Him. The whole concept of being made in His image seemed like a huge stretch to me. I'd heard people quote this fact on Sundays since I was a little girl, but I was finally beginning to understand just how much of a grandiose statement it was.

I was made in the image of God?

So...I'm like Him?

God? ...like THE God?

I soon went from newcomer Christian to youth leader to high school Bible study teacher at the church I was attending. It was all a little intimidating, but exciting. I am so grateful to have been under a leader who saw potential in his pupils and never really gave us the opportunity to say no when the Holy Spirit told him to give us more responsibilities in ministry. About nine months into my walk with Christ, I started graduate school at Liberty University and was able to repeatedly quench my unquenchable thirst for Bible study. It was literally part of the curriculum in every class, so studying, reflecting, and applying God's word in my everyday life was somewhat of a breeze.

Then...life happened.

When I was single, I could stop in the middle of the day at my favorite coffeehouse and dig into Scripture for as long as I wanted. Then, it seemed like overnight I had two children who are so close in age they may as well be twins, and they need me almost every second of the day. 

Yes, the day-today structure of my life has drastically changed.

I started to feel like I was losing the level of intimacy I was used to with God. I couldn't hear His voice like I used to. I could see His beauty and grace in the face of my daughter and in cuddles with my son. However, I was still missing those long hours with Him and felt like they were the only way we could have a real relationship.

I was wrong.

Yes, there is a great satisfaction I feel after spending thirty+ minutes doing some Holy Yoga or reading a few of my favorite Psalms, but my relationship with God goes so far beyond that.

He is with me with every breath of the day.

This doesn't mean that I don't study anymore. I have simply had to become creative in the season of life. I have discovered some wonderful tips and study tools to help me stay engrossed in His word throughout the day even when my hour of quiet time in broken into pieces over a twelve-hour time span.

I want to take a moment to share a few with you, and I pray they bless you as they have blessed me.
  • Get up early. Think of whatever time you need to wake in order to get to work/class on time. Now, make it a point to get up at least 45 minutes earlier. Yes, this will be hard! It's still hard for me now. At one point, I actually had to have a friend of mine who worked as a producer for one our local new station's morning show call me at 5 a.m. because I am good for hitting my snooze but for another 15 minutes or so. It's a struggle, but it's worth it. I have so much to do in the morning. People need to be dressed, fed, and out the door and I orchestrate all of it. If I don't fight for some time in Scripture before dawn breaks, I might spend the rest of the day broken myself. No, studying your Bible in the morning is not a law, but there is just something about starting our day at the feet of Jesus, instead of squeezing Him in whenever we decide we're done with the really "urgent" stuff. 
  • Find a great app. There are so many Bible apps out today, but I have only found two that I really love. Of course, the o'so popular YouVersion Bible app is a must on my phone. what I've been loving about it the most lately is that I can put a widget that displays a daily Bible verse right on the home screen of my phone. That makes it easy in the mornings to grab my phone, hit the alarm, and immediately flip to the verse. The only danger there is that I can sometimes read the verse super-quick and then get caught up in the business of the day. I have to remember I still need to take the time to slow down and meditate on the words carefully. I also enjoy the new app by She Reads Truth (also available on iOS). I have been rockin' with these amazing women since about April of 2012 when I followed along with their Women of the Bible study plan, and I even helped backed the app during their Kickstarter campaign this past Spring. They have really created a community for women to dig into Scripture together and grow in Christ. The app allows me to read the Scriptures associated with that day's lesson, the devotion, access the message board, take notes, make bookmarks, and share the reading via social media all from one place! Fab!
  • Get some accountability. Ladies, community is so important! I know there are some people who feel like we shouldn't need someone on us to make sure we study God's word. We should just pray that His Holy Spirit guides us, and ask Him to increase our desire when we are lacking. Totally true! But at the same time, God created us to be in community. He created us to know that we cannot do anything our own; nothing. We can't pray in our own strength. We shouldn't only study His word with only our own insight (because we are all biased and proud and flawed in some way), and we shouldn't think we don't need a little guidance and accountability here and there (or A LOT for a long time) when it comes to digging into Scripture. Find a class at a local church, or do one online. Ask your spouse or your sister or a friend to text you to make sure you read today. And don't just tell them you read, tell them what you read and how you are responding to it. Ask them questions about what you don't understand. They may have more insight, and if they don't the two of you could search for the answers together. It's a win-win!
  • Keep a journal. One thing about journaling is that it requires me to sit still, I can't really rush it. You don't have to love to write in order to start keeping a journal. You just need to have something to say to the Lord. A question to ask. A praise to give. Some anger or frustration to get off your chest (hey, we've all been there). Just look at the Book of Psalms. It's a beautiful mixture of joy, pain, victory, confusion, and faith. If you're really not into long sessions of writing, draw instead. I follow some wonderful people on IG who doodle in their journals and their Bible instead of writing out the typical prayer or Bible verse. Let a little journal become the heart song of your life as you create a beautiful keepsake to reflect on in the future. 

So, on those days when I just can't seem to find 30 minutes, but I can find ten before the hustle and bustle of the day get started, these tools have helped me. 

Do you already do any of these things? What tools have you found help you study God's word better and easier? I'd love for you to share in the comments below to maybe give us all some new ideas!

xoxo, 
Ashley Danielle

faith | time with God pt. 1 - intro

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Headphones: Charlotte Russe /// Simplified Journal: EmilyLey.com


I am one busy mama/daughter/sister/friend/working-lady!

I know I'm not alone in this, and that we live in a time where wearing as many hats as humanly possible is not only common, but is also praised. Though it's important for us to prioritize what we spend our time on so we can spend quality time abiding with Christ, there are some titles that we simply cannot get away from (like the ones I listed above).

I learned really early as a new wife that the way I spent time with God daily had to change. My ex-husband meditated on God's word much differently than  I do. We processed information differently. We took notes differently. We found different kinds of teaching styles interesting, and we relayed the Gospel differently to others. This was a tough pill for me to swallow, but a necessary one nonetheless during that time of trying to "leave and cleave"...you know?

When the princess came into the mix in 2013, my "quiet time" with God really took a drastic turn! She was definitely calling all of the shots so I was forced to revamp yet again.

So, what does my intimate time with God look like now?

I'm no longer married, but I am still not completely the master of my time. I have two small children who need my time, affection and guidance. I work 40+ hours a week and run a small business from home. Then, I have to spend time with my family (we are that super-close family that makes you sick because we smile and laugh with each other so much; oh well, lol).

So, where does God fit in all of this?

I've decided to do a little mini-series to give y'all a peek into this area of my life. Yes, it's very sacred and something that I don't like to broadcast the details of. However, I do believe that we need to encourage one another in any way we can to stay focused on the goal; true intimacy with Christ.

Be sure to come back over the next couple of days to, hopefully, grab a few tips, and to (PLEASE!) share a few tips of your own.


xoxo,
Ashley Danielle

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