Better late than never...
The biggest lesson I learned from the “The Love Challenge” was…
drum roll please...
I am so totally and completely selfish!
I learned that it is much easier for me to extend grace, show mercy and have patience with total strangers than with the people I love the most in this world. I also learned that in terms of the way I give my love, I have serious expectations; spiritual, emotional and physical. "It’s all about me" can quickly and so easily become my mantra if I’m not careful and always aware!
I am reminded that apart from Jesus it is impossible for me to love the way Jesus loves. But there is really good news, with Him I can do all things and nothing is impossible for Him! (Phil. 4:13 & Mark 9:23) So like I stated in previous posts, “The Love Challenge” is going to be a regular part of my life from now on. I need that reminder often of how I am to love others and of what LOVE truly is because sadly I apparently forget a lot!
As always, I would love to hear your comments good or bad!
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
30 days ago, on July 11, 2011 I began the “Love Challenge”, several of you joined me. I would love to hear from those of you who participated in this exercise.
How did it change the way you love or did it open your eyes to changes you might need to make in the way you love others? What did you learn about God's perfect love?
I'm so excited to hear how God spoke to your heart through His word over the past few weeks. I’ll be sharing my experience with the “Love Challenge” in a few days.
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
Saturday, July 30, 2011
I love a good storm. That is as long as it’s a safe storm. I love the way the sky darkens to a stunning grayish dark blue and how it creeps across the horizon. I love how the clouds bounce and swerve making their way across the sky. I love when the thunder booms so loud it echoes not only in my ears but in my whole body. I love the way lightning can startle me and make me jump. I love the way the trees bend and sway; almost bowing to their Creator. I love when the wind just appears out of know where and catches me by surprise. I love how the wind messes up my hair and can bring tears to my eyes and how it sometimes even takes the breath away from my little children. It has mighty power. I love the beautiful music of the raindrops as they tap on the skylights of my kitchen. I love how a good storm makes me cling a little tighter to my sweet husband and hold my precious children a little closer to myself. A good storm displays the power, grandeur and wonder of God within the beauty of nature that He himself created. I love that God is in control of the storm.
I do NOT love when a storm of life comes my way and I’m walking through dark clouds all around me. Do I remember and recognize that God is in control? Or do I try to take control? Do I find refuge and rest in Him alone? Or do I seek out other means and methods to console my fear?
“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’” Matthew 8:23-27
Wow, to this day, that scripture continues to amaze me! Even though I’m a child of God, a perfect life and safety have not been guaranteed for me. But what has been promised is that God’s will and plan for my life and your life are perfect!
“Safe? Of course He isn’t safe. But He’s good.” Spoken by Mr. Beaver in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
This is who our faithful God is:
Just to name a few…(Psalm 18:2)
I’m praying that you and I would live our lives trusting in God regardless of what storms we find ourselves in. For He is truly safe and trustworthy! Be blessed my friends as you seek His face!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16
How is your “Love Challenge” going? It seems like the more I ask God to help me love like Him, the more opportunities He provides for me to live that out! It's not easy! If you don’t know what I’m talking about read this and join me!
Last night I sat in my kitchen nursing the baby. It was so wonderful to listen to the dishwasher purring and to hear the happy sounds of my children lingering from the playroom. All 3 “big” kids were in the playroom making posters for their daddy’s return tonight. I could hear George, the oldest, spelling out “Welcome Home Daddy” for the younger ones. I was overwhelmed at how big and mature he has become. Where did the time go? He was the one I should have been nursing! Where did these 3 other children come from??? How have almost 6 years passed me bye. Time is truly flying! The older I get the more I realize the truth of this!
For a long time now I have had a desire to have an international student ministry of my own, under the umbrella of my parent’s ministry, FollowOne International. I have had many obstacles/excuses that have kept me from walking on to one of the many university campuses in my area and volunteering in their international studies department. I have continued to pray and seek God’s heart for me in this area. I have also prayed that if it was His will for me that He would make it happen because I just couldn’t get my act together enough to seek it out right now.
God is so amazing! You will not even believe what He did!
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21
The other night Doug and I decided to have a date night “IN”, which meant after we put our children to bed we order “take out” and watch a movie! We ordered sushi and had it delivered. When the doorbell rang I quickly went to answer it and there was the nicest young Chinese man I’ve ever met standing on my front porch. We talked at first about where he was from and why he was here in the U.S. Just as I had thought, he is here studying to get his Master’s Degree. At one point in our conversation, which was easy and so enjoyable, I asked my new friend if he had ever heard of Jesus. “Yes, but I am far too busy with my studies right now for Jesus, maybe later,” he said. Wow…powerful words, too busy for Jesus!
We exchanged phone numbers and I am going to be inviting him over for a meal very soon. I also have a very special gift for him, a Chinese/English Bible. I am so excited about this adventure that the Lord has totally dropped on my door step!!! I would ask you to please pray for me as I begin this relationship with my new friend, Si Wei.
Time is running out. Life is very short. And we have an urgent message to share. There are lost and hurting people all around us in our city, our country and our world that don’t know the saving love of God. Who will you share the Good News of Jesus with today? I would encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to put someone in your path. You never know who might show up on your front porch!
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" Matthew 28:18-20
I am praying that the Holy Spirit will fill each of us with a mighty sense of urgency to tell others about Jesus!
Monday, July 11, 2011
Have you ever heard of “The Love Challenge?” A few years ago I learned about it in a Bible Study I was a part of. It is very simple, but you must commit to do it every day! I have done it a few times and it is really a challenge I could handle doing every day for the rest of my life! It truly is that good!
Here it is…The Love Challenge: Read 1 Corinthians 13 every day for 30 days and ask God to empower you and to fill you with His love for others. I would love for you to join me in this exercise! See if you don’t love those around you differently, better…more like Jesus. That is our goal, to look and love more like Jesus! Since Jesus is perfect, His love is perfect!!! “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16
Our love, just like all of us, is flawed by our sin. We are incapable of loving like the verses 1 Corinthians 13 talks about on our own. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit in us that we are able to live and love in such a way. The more we Know Him, the more we Love Him. The more we Love Him the more we Follow and Obey Him. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall we face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Are you up for the challenge? I am, let’s do it together! I’m going to print several copies and place them around my house. In 30 days we can share with each other how God has worked in our hearts and how we are loving those around us differently! Can’t wait to hear from all of you! I’m praying for you, praying we’ll be convicted and encouraged…ALL by our amazing God, through the Holy Spirit!
“Love is seeking the highest and greatest good for the other person.” Unknown Author
Thursday, July 7, 2011
A little about me~
I think it’s interesting to know things about the people whose blogs you read. I love it when the one’s I read give me a glimpse into who they really are. I’ve heard it said that sometimes Christian bloggers come across as self-righteous or hypocrites or “perfect.” I want to be sure I NEVER show myself as any of those! So this is my attempt to be “real” with you. I’m going to tell you some good things, bad things and just crazy things about me. In previous posts you’ve learned a little about me and in the side margin of my blog there is a section “about me”, but I want to tell you a little more and be truly honest in my description of myself.
Well I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is nothing good in me apart from Jesus! I love talking about Jesus with people who know Him and with those who don't know Him yet. I love hearing and sharing stories of God’s faithfulness. I love reading His Word!
I LOVE Beth Moore!!! I think we could be really great friends! ;) In the past 6 years I have done several of her Bible Studies and they have had a profound impact on my life! The way she teaches speaks right to my spirit! Good Stuff!
I'm reading 2 books right now. They are: Instructing a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp and Radical by David Platt. This is the second time I'm reading Radical. It is a life changing book, I highly recommend it. Another book I recommend is Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Amazing! I read it a few years ago and it too shaped and strengthened my faith.
I love having plants and flowers in our home. But I usually kill every plant that I buy. Luckily I have learned there is one plant that can survive in my house and that is the “Peace Lily.” It lays down when it’s thirsty. Isn't that wonderful!!! That is the only way I can remember to water it!
I cannot sew. I mean at all. Not even a button. Also, I don’t iron. I mean I will if I “HAVE” to, but I’m not good at it so I send it all to the cleaners. I love to wash and dry clothes all day long. But i strongly dislike to fold and put away clothes. It’s probably my least favorite domestic thing to do!
I love coffee and diet coke! I drink too much of both.
I need to lose about 30 pounds, ugh!!! One would think those pounds would just fly off from chasing 4 kids ages 0 to 5 years!
I sometimes lose it with my children!
I collect crosses and McCarty Pottery. They make me smile!
I collect crosses and McCarty Pottery. They make me smile!
I sometimes have a hard time forgiving and forgetting.
I’m really LOUD! One of my best friends often times says to me when we are having a conversation, “why are you yelling at me?” Oops!
I love to cook! But I don’t like to clean up the kitchen!
My minivan is always a disaster! You can read more about that here.
I am obsessed with having clean feet. This started in college. I don’t even know how or why it started. But I have to laugh at myself. Every night before I get in our bed I have to clean my feet. I usually take a shower at night so that makes it easy. But even on nights I don’t shower I will use wet wipes or wash them in the bath tub.
I make our bed every day because a made bed sleeps much better than an unmade bed, in my opinion! Some days I make it in the morning, other days in the afternoon and many days I make it right before I get in it! ;)
I love being pregnant. I actually love the labor and delivery as well. I know it’s crazy!
My 4 children are my greatest accomplishment in life! They along with their daddy, my sweet husband, bring me the utmost joy!
My 4 children are my greatest accomplishment in life! They along with their daddy, my sweet husband, bring me the utmost joy!
I have this flesh/spirit battle always going on in me that manifests itself mostly in material things. My flesh loves to dress my children in beautiful clothes and decorate my home with beautiful things. My spirit knows those things are meaningless, temporary and not the greatest use of money for the kingdom of God. So it's a big struggle for me, just ask my husband. ;)
In a nutshell I'm a daughter of the King, who doesn't always act like a princess. I'm a busy wife and momma to 4 who is in constant motion and surrounded by cheerful chaos almost all the time. I'm a woman who is trying to live out her faith one day at a time. I'm so thankful for His Grace because even at my best, I'm not good enough!
Well there you have it! You now know me, Ashley Gilland, a little better! I really would love to hear from you! You are welcome to comment any time! Or if you’d prefer you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm praying that today God might use my good, bad and crazy to bring glory to himself and to bless you!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
This past week a sweet friend and I cleaned out my closet in my bedroom. It was a HUGE job and took several hours to complete! It felt so good to purge! I love the feeling of accomplishment when a project is completed! I was so excited to be able to donate so many shoes and clothing items to Must Ministries!
In addition to cleaning out, I uncovered many things I had not seen in a while. They had been hidden for some time. Among those items was a large floral shoe box. Inside the special shoe box was something so valuable to me. It contained every card and letter I had received from my freshman year of college until I had married my husband. I could hardly wait to sit down and go through everything in the box.
Well last night was the perfect time. I settled myself comfortably in my bed and I began to read through and study every piece of paper in the box. I am a very emotional person, so I was prepared to shed a few tears as I walked down memory lane. Just as I’d thought, for four hours I cried tears of remembrance over the words I was reading; I laughed a lot too! It is so wonderful to go back and remember the past, the good and the bad!
There were cherished love letters from my precious husband from before we were married. He was so tender and sweet. It was a great reminder of our love to read his adoring words. Also, I found notes of encouragement and congratulations from dear friends like, Courtney, Lisa, Lucy, Betty, Paula, Dee and Lissa. I had saved all Birthday and Valentine’s Day cards from my parents, siblings, friends and grandparents. Both of my grandfathers died in 2008, so to see their handwriting in cards was so dear to me.
I had the most encouraging “love” letters from my momma and daddy. They were so intentional with their words. I’m so thankful for the love and support they have always given me. They taught me so many lessons along the way, about life, love and our faithful God.
One of my very favorite things ever is getting the mail!!! Sounds silly I know! I’ve even been known to even get upset if someone else gets the mail. Usually the mailbox is full of bills and magazines, but I am always hoping that maybe there is a note from someone. Do you do that too? There is something so special and even exciting about seeing a hand addressed envelope with my name on it! It seems like we don’t really write letters anymore, now we type emails. Its faster, easier and more convenient, but so impersonal and boring! There is such beauty in holding the stationary and reading the penned words and seeing their signature. It is truly an art form that I think should be brought back.
Since discovering this “treasure” I have decided to become more intentional with my words and writing. The next time I sit down at my computer to email someone, I’m going to think twice and consider getting out my lovely stationary and black ballpoint pen and blessing someone with a handwritten letter.
Altogether I think I read about 250 cards, letters and notes last night. Each one I read encouraged and touched me so deeply. I am so thankful that I saved them all. I am going to start visiting them and remembering more often. I am also incredibly grateful for the prayers, encouragement and support from so many people represented by these letters during such a crucial time in my life. I’m already thinking about who I can bless by sending an encouraging note to and make their trip to the mailbox a fun one! How about you, who can you bless this week?
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:23-24