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.reflection.

.before.and.after.

.God's.story.

.This. past week has been one of some major reflection for me. Reflection can either be good or bad for all of us...but this reflection moment was all good and ALL GOD. It's kind of wild really where I am even just typing these words...Managua, Nicaragua...all because God interrupted my life in a way I never saw coming. He's just that good. That he would save me...he chose me...even though I was his enemy.

.I. was against him in every way possible.



.For. those of you who don't know me...or God's story through me...this will be a lil' recap of what God in his power and grace and mercy has done and IS doing. For those of you who do know me...the before...and you have a relationship with God...join me in worshipping what a powerful God we surrendered to.



.My. story in a few words or less would be: "I was hateful...angry...bitter...hurt...and broken trying to act whole. I had a really good mask...and I knew how to wear it. Then...God in his power and grace...saved me. He chose me. He saved me. He is making me more like him. And because of who God is I am FREE!" There ya go...God's story.



.God's. story with a lil' bit more words would be:

.I. was born into a home that was founded on drugs and alcohol. I learned at a very young age that the world is a hard tough place and I better get wise to that as quick as possible. My parents were explosive and rageful at best. I had no safe place to turn to as a child. My dad began sexually abusing me at the age of six. This was only the beginning of the abuse that I would endure for the next 11 years of my life. Around that time my dad would often include me...sexually...in sales of drugs with his friends. This imprinted the reason for my existence here...to be used...to be sold...nothing more. By the age of 9 I was soliciting myself to older boys at school for anything from watches, cigarets, shoes...or just gum. I believed deeply that I was worth nothing more than what men/boys wanted from me.

.As. I grew up my unstable home life got even more and more unstable with the divorce of my parents, poor relationship choices from both parents, and drugs and alcohol ruling my parents. I became the outlet for my mom's anger at times through her violent rages. This was the perfect recipe for a very very angry little girl. That was me. I like to say I was the kid your parent's didn't want you to play with.



.At. the age of 14 I was arrested for fighting. Charged with 1st degree battery and disturbing the peace. This is where my mom knew that something had to change. She made the best choice for me that she ever could have...and that was to send me to a boarding school in northern Mississippi. This school is where I first learned about God. Church or God did not play a part of my life prior to this so the whole "Jesus thing" was culture shock to say the least. It was a shock...but it's where God started his furious pursuit of my heart. By the end of my first year there I prayed the "sinner's prayer". Although my words said I was surrendering my heart and giving God my life I was doing nothing but praying a prayer and wanting to stop getting into trouble at the school. No life change. No heart change. Nothing.  That is when I say I stepped into religion and not into a relationship with God. I mean anyone can say a prayer right? Well...a prayer is all I said. For the next 10 years I would cling tightly to that prayer I said as a freshman in high school to point to my eternal security...all the while living life as I pleased.

.I. played religion really well for 10 years.



.Fast forward. a few years and I ended up at a christian university...on a dare none-the-less. That's where I spent four years learning how to play religion even more...and where my bitterness and absolute hatred of God and what I used to call (and still do sometimes) "Jesus people" grew all consuming. I had everyone fooled. Everyone. I was a leader in the dorms...an RA even...teaching spiritual truths and leading others to God the whole time counting down the days when this nightmare would be over. Under the thin layer of what others saw I was falling apart. I had been battling a serious addiction to self-injury that started around the age of 11. I was either taking 60+ laxatives a day or counting calories to a low 250 a day allotment. I was trying to control my wildly chaotic life. Upon graduation I threw away the Bibles and study notes that had anything to do with God and walked away from God for, what I thought, forever.

.The. next few years were rattled with alcohol, self-injury, a decision to live in the homosexual lifestyle and run as far and as fast away from who I thought God was. I was making choices out of brokenness and hurts that had not been healed.

.After. pretty much falling flat on my face I found myself at a women's small group at Blue Ridge Community Church in a last ditch effort to prove God wrong or right. This is where God chose to release his family to pursue me like only he can!



.I. went to the small group for a few months...to the astonishment of myself and the other women there. I think for the first time in my life I was open to hearing from God. I was open to the possibility that maybe I had it...had him...all wrong. It was a slow...yet quick...process of me discovering I was totally wrong about God. I was his enemy to every degree...yet holding on desperately to that prayer I said in high school.

.Only. God could have knocked down the walls of religion, pain, anger, bitterness, and fear that nothing would change and bring me into his family!

.This. past week marked two years since I gave God my broken life and he gave me his abundant life in return. His grace. His mercy. His righteousness now clothes me. To think back to just 2 and 1/2 years ago is wild for me. I was living with a partner, drinking heavily, and headed fast into self-destruction.



.Now.

.That's. just the before.

.The. after is a way better...a picture of God's glory.

.Since. giving God my life two years ago God has done and is continuing to do a full renovation and restoration. One of the first things God had me walk through was who I am in him...now that I was actually his. Reading through Galatians, Ephesians, and Romans all about who I am now in Christ. Who God REALLY is and not just who I thought he was. There are not words to describe the depth of darkness and pain that God ripped out of my heart to replace with his Truth and himself. Though that process was and is still at times painful...I fell even more in love with who I am finding God to be.

.The. main theme of my relationship with God has been slaying my truth with His TRUTH and dying to who I am. Learning that I am His. Everything is His. I am not my own...and that is so a great thing.



.I. guess as hard and fast I was running away from God is who hard and fast I am running towards him now. ONLY God can do that! Only God can make me...you...alive. I'm not talking like wake up in the morning and brush your teeth alive...I'm talking like ALIVE! There is a HUGE difference. I used to snicker (Like literally laugh audibly when people would say that verse) people who would quote the verse in John that says that Jesus died to give us life and life abundantly.

.BUT. GOD.

.But. while I was his enemy he chose to save me. Chose to give me LIFE...ABUNDANT LIFE! Amazing right?!? Yep...he is absolutely amazing.

.All. of this to say...no matter how far you are from God he is real. He is truth. He is good.



.So. with that said. I love you friends and family. I thank you all deeply from the depths of my heart for your support and encouragement...be it Facebook posts, emails, texts, phone calls...or anything. I feel loved by God through you. I feel my community around me even though I am far away in a different country. I know that you all...my Jesus family...are praying for me standing in the gap for me and supporting me in more ways than even I can see. Thank you for your friendship and your love.

Thank you for being Jesus to me.

.run.hard.

P.S.-- HOH news: There are two new women now! They moved in just a few days ago. They are sharing a room...but they are younger and know each other so hopefully they will get along. One of them has a 4 month old little girl who is just a doll. My precious Alma came back last Sunday but left again Tuesday morning. Please be praying for her safety. For the safety of all the girls that have come and left HOH. Alma is one of many girls who are on the streets of Nicaragua with no where to go...who will quickly fall into the trap of sexual slavery.


Comments

  1. This is really touching. I wanted to ask you this when I was in Nicaragua I'm glad I got to hear it now. I will be praying for you and the hoh. (:

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love you Ashley - Yours is an awesome story of truly not being your past but rather walking in The Reality of Who He Is - In Us!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love you friend. Hearing your story always makes me cry. So thanks for that. Again. :)

    Crys

    ReplyDelete

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I'm not a writer.
(Don't judge my grammar/spelling, I do what I want.) :)
I'm not a blogger.
I am a sharer. (If that's a word.)
I shared my journey through living in Nicaragua.
I shared bits and pieces here and there as life unfolded post Nicaragua.

This post is coming from something deep. Something that is deep in my heart and has been a major part of what God has been teaching me through my year and a half back in the States.

Loss. {def. : be deprived of cease to have or retain.}

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"I lost my glasses."
"I lost my grandmother."
"I lost my home."
"I lost my wife/husband."
"I lost my child."
"I lost my childhood."
"I lost my friend."
"I lost my ________."

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