Little Plant

In my weariness I ask, “How long can I continue this way.” In memory I realize how fresh my wounds still are. how long can I continue with the hole in my heart longing to be filled? How long before the wounds are nothing but a scar? How long Lord? Why Lord? I am not sure if this lot is one that I am able to carry. Lord, I think this is to much.

While sitting on my couch after a long night at work these emotions and questions were meditating in my mind. I was not emotional or afraid…these were just my thoughts and questions…Like I was fully aware that I was about to fail because I don’t think I am as strong,smart, or as capable as I wish I was.

Gods voice then came in a whisper, “walk with me.”

He walked me over to a devotional that I keep on my desk. It was one that my father read daily and one that my mother made sure my siblings and I all had copies of after his passing. I began to read a few pages and was comforted by the unique words I felt were only for me.

DEVOTIONAL

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, so the Lord spread out his wings and took him, he lifted him up on his pinions. The Lord alone was guiding him, no foreign god was with him.—Deut 32:11-12

Our Almighty God is like a parent who delights in leading the tender children in His care to the very edge of the precipice and then shoving them off into the steeps of air, that they may learn their possession of unrealized power of flight, to be forever a luxury; and if, in the attempt, they be exposed to unwonted peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them, and to bear them upward on His mighty pinions. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them. —The Song of Victory

“When God puts a burden upon you He puts His own arm underneath.”

There once was a little plant that was small and whose growth was stunted, for it lived under the shade of a giant oak tree. The little plant valued the shade that covered it, and highly regarded the quiet rest that its noble friend provided. Yet there was a greater blessing prepared for this little plant.On day a woodsman entered the forest with a sharp ax and felled the giant oak. The little plant began to weep, crying out, “My shelter has been taken away. Now every fierce wind will blow on me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!” The guardian angel of the little plant responded,”No! Now the sun will shine and showers will fall on you more abundantly than ever before. Now your stunted form will spring up into loveliness, and your flowers, which could never have grown to full perfection in the shade, will laugh in the sunshine. And people in amazement will say, ‘ Look how that plant has grown! How gloriously beautiful it has become by removing that which was its shade and its delight!’ “

As I sat meditating on the story about the little plant I again heard him whisper, “Just wait.”

God did not tell me how strong and capable I am but instead He called me His little plant and promised me a better life full of abundance. He doesn’t want to give me good but he wants to give me the very best.

As I sit here writing and looking around at my little home I no longer see loneliness but I see the abundance God has given me. As I sit thinking about my life in general I no longer see stress or exhaustion but I picture excitement.As I sit here thinking about all I have and the people I have surrounding me with love and support I am reminded to count my blessing. I have many. So much is waiting for me, so much is yet to come.

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“You’re Free”

“My love for you has never been dependent on you being perfect”

This month I have been reading through the book of Ezekiel and seeing myself in many of the Chapters. God gives us riches and we lose site of what he has given us and we are tempted by things that seemingly are better than what we have. In our shame we run from God and in our shame we develop a self destructing spirit.

After a series of bad decisions I no longer knew how to come back to God. I continued self destructing until I literally could not stand the evil that began to pour out of my soul. I no longer wanted to hate, I no longer wanted to seek revenge, I no longer wanted to self destruct in order to mend what was broken. Graciously the Lord took me back and nursed me back to health. God has always spoken to me in the most unique ways. Free Starbucks, complimenting my looks, through strangers, through Facebook. Yes, I said Facebook. As I was scrolling down my newsfeed one day there was a picture of a little girl holding a teddy bear that she just adored. The Lord was standing in front of her with a even bigger teddy bear hidden behind his back. He was asking the little girl for the smaller bear but she was very sad to give the bear away exclaiming, “but I love it”…Little did she know that The Lord had something SO MUCH better for her and all she needed to do was trust him.

This is what The Lord challenged me with. I do not know what he is hiding behind his back but I simply must trust him. I was like the little girl holding onto the tiny bear so tightly begging the Lord to please let me keep that of which I loved. For a while I turned my back from the Lord and kept my little bear so close to my chest nothing could take it away from me. God will not snatch something away from us…he will simply wait for us to chose and hope we chose wisely. After many months of pain and tears I handed my little bear over to the Lord and told him that I trusted him.

I have come a long way since November 16th, 2013. Thinking back I am blown away with how much God has done for me,in me and through me. I am amazed at what I have been through and what I have made it through. By the grace of God…

So, that’s it, right? Wrong…

I have never experienced unworthiness like I have this past month. Friends started laughing at the fact I was never in church. I laughed it off and made some excuse about work…which is a valid excuse…but even when I was not working I found myself afraid of church. Before entering the doors I made sure I had a friend waiting to meet me at the doors, I sat quietly with my head down and as soon as it was over I ran out as fast as I could. The thought of church literally gave me anxiety. I actually felt like I no longer belonged there. I was no longer Ashleigh Miller the missionary who went to China, the good christian girl, the advocate for purity and self respect for women. Nope…I was now..Ashleigh Miller the sinner and goodness knows what else people were thinking. Dustin Hughes (my youth leader) always reminded us students that no one was really looking at us. “Teenagers always think people are talking about them and really no one really cares”. Funny, even as a adult I forget that people have things going on in their own lives and really don’t have the time analyze mine…and if they do that is really their own demon to face.

After a few weeks I finally accept that people loved me, God loved me and I was welcome in church BUT I just could no longer serve in church. I would never be worthy again to speak about purity, I would never be worthy enough to ever work with students and I could never speak about the Lord in front of community.

I really did not feel like going to church this morning. Pastor Chad was going to speak on obedience. I have been trying to be obedient lately so I really didn’t want to go to church and feel….lectured. I went anyways and God completely blew my mind. Our Pastor was speaking speaking about the beauty in humility,this man was on stage talking about drug addiction and God kept whispering in my ear that I was worthy. I felt hot, a little dizzy. I sat down and for the rest of the sermon I just meditated in the fact that God was once again breaking a strong hold in my life. God rescued me from another lie that held me captive and I walked away free,I was free.

Though None go With me, Still I Will Follow

“The devil tempts us not-’tis we tempt him, beckoning his skill with opportunity.”

The past few weeks I have been in a bit of a struggle with the Lord. I have been praying, attending church, REALLY been trying to seek him out..But I have gotten nothing in return. I have felt little peace,had little understanding and have felt a shunned by the Lord. I went to bed last night with my eyes burning with tears. Defeat and sadness finally taking over…along with my frustration over the whole situation. “Whatever” was the only thing I could even say to God at this point. Rejection has been a stronghold of mine this year…it really begins to eat away at your spirit when your own God is doing.

This morning I woke up with the Lord standing in my room. How do I even begin to explain the presence of the Lord, His spirit? This encounter was nothing dramatic but a overwhelming flood of revelation and understanding. The conversation was simple:

“You’re back. Lord, where have you been?”

“Beloved, I have always been right by your side…but where have you been?”

Images began to flood my mind of the times I have asked the Lord to reveal himself to me this past week and also times of struggle when he tried to love on me…I just simply didn’t see Him. What a humbling moment.

The quote above is a quote that God has really put in front of my face and even challenged me with this week. It is hard to admit that I sometimes beckon Satan…but I have. When self destructing we often turn to Satan to find our power, our “comfort” before turning to the Lord and finding real peace and comfort. Satan cannot help me find security when I am feeling insecure, he cannot make me feel value or desire, he cannot give me worth or power…we make think he can…but that moment of pleasure is only a moment. The pleasures of the world fade and then we are still left with our brokenness. And the cycle and repeated bad decisions continue.

Today I remembered that God is a jealous God. He does not want a open relationship with me. He wants all or none. BUT even with my repeated mistakes he NEVER LEAVES.His forgiveness is endless. His love everlasting. He is always waiting with open arms when I come crawling back.

That reality will always bring tears to my eyes. That never ending love is still hard for me to grasp. The heart of the Lord…no words could ever describe. God is walking me into a new season. It is going to be a season of renewing, of more redemption. I welcome this new season.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Every Ending has a new beginning

Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts. ~Florence Nightingale

This past year I have once again found something to love. I have found what fills my bones with passion and my heart with complete contentment. I started working as a Resident Assistant with dementia residents…I love it, I am happy.

Lets be honest…this is not where I saw my life 8 months ago. 8 months ago I was falling in love, had a ring on my finger and I was only weeks away from walking down the aisle when my life (and happy beginning)  started to unravel and ultimately ended in…well…sadness,heartbreak,my life “ending” and all of those things you feel when your heart truly breaks. After many months of simply surviving I stumbled across the perfect stranger who lead me into a job that I didn’t even know if I could do. My first day I thought I would last…I don’t know..a week? Then the weirdest thing happened…I fell in love. It was not the same love that I once experienced. It was not the kind that makes you lose your breath and lay awake at night daydreaming about prince charming. But it was the kind of love that gives everything bad that has ever happened to you reason, a hope.

I love my job because I love the residents…my favorite are the residents with dementia. They are thrilling. Wow, how do I even put these amazing human beings into words. They have life stories like I have never heard,they love without hesitation,they challenge me to try harder, and they have given me my heart for nursing. Before them I never enjoyed the medical field…now I couldn’t imagine not pursuing it.

I love loving people who need a little extra love, the ones who get a little left behind in life. That’s why I loved missions. It’s not the most glamorous BUT it’s fulfilling. Because of the faces I see everyday at work I have a second chance. I have the will to let go of all the bad things that happened to me and try again. Because of them I try harder. The Lord loves me…I know this because he loves on me through those residents.

Well, in January I want to apply to nursing school. I am not sure exactly what that will look like but I know God will make it clear…but that’s what I want to work to achieve. One day I want to be a nurse and I want to use that on the mission field when the opportunities come my way. Oh, so many dreams! I am happy to be dreaming again. I am happy to see a new person in the mirror and simply be okay with that. I no longer mourn my past (although I still have my hard days) but I embrace it as part of me BUT I continue moving in a new path. It’s never to late and no set back is the end.

Relationships

When I first saw this video I thought it would be another Christian relationship “cheesy” video…but I was actually very impressed and related to these comments. In my last relationship my fiance became my “functional god”. I found my worth and identity in him and so I became a slave to him and to the relationship. When my relationship did not work out and a break-up happened I lost my “functional god”. I was devastated and had a very hard time being able to function once my relationship ended. I struggled to find my worth again and turned to other things to get me through each day.

 

I also made the choice to cross the line sexually in my relationship because I was engaged and getting married so I did not feel like it was a huge deal…but when life happened and the relationship did not work out I found myself tied to this person and had a bond with this person that I did not know how to break. That decision caused me a lot of shame, I developed trust issues, I felt used, damaged and the list continues. Through this experience and heartbreak I really got to know God and experience his grace on a whole new level. God does not make these “rules” in the bible because as Christians we are just supposed to follow them and be good people BUT because he loves us and wants to protect our hearts. I am now a firm believer that sex (and everything in between) creates bonds and ties with a person that is so amazing in a covenant but without that covenant it can create damage. God has really brought me through this experience and has done amazing things in my life and has brought me a lot of healing. Speaking on this topic and being open about my past is something that I do not feel shame in but is something that I am proud to have as my testimony.

I now put a lot of time into praying about my next relationship and asking God to prepare me and strengthen me in Him before entering into that commitment again. It is easy to go back to what I was because that is what I was use to, it was also a lot easier to find worth in my relationship…but in truth that kind of relationship cannot last and will eventually leave you broken…like I was. Without God and sacrificing our own personal wants how can we truly love someone. Yes, it’s easy to feel loved when a man is telling you how beautiful you are and how much he wants your body BUT I truly feel loved when a man says that protecting my heart and respecting me is way more important to him than his own sexual wants and desires. I want a man that will lead me and our relationship in a Godly way. Yes, it not always easy but I would rather have a lasting relationship that is God centered than a relationship where I am left feeling broken.

By going through the heartbreak of a relationship that was not fully God centered I feel even more empowered to speak on this topic. I have been there and I know what it was like to feel worthless,dishonored,ashamed. I did not know how to continue living and on certain days I no longer wanted to try once my relationship ended. God helped me fight through the lies and pain. I am so happy to be in a much happier place…I am also excited to one day have a relationship where God gives me back what I lost.

Readers,

it is possible to get through a heartbreak. It may be painful and hard but it is possible. Fight for a relationship that is fully God centered and wait for the person who loves you enough to honor God and honor you. Also, the hurt in my past relationship was not because of one person but because of bad decisions on both sides…it’s never up to one person but a shared responsibility.  This blog is about my own personal experience. It is not meant to hold any judgment or say that I think my way is the best way. I make mistakes and poor choices daily…but I am learning to find my identity in being anchored in the Lord and not being anchored in another person or thing that becomes my idol. This can be a very difficult topic to speak on but again this is not a sermon but simply my story and experience.

Just Laugh

“If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”
Robert Frost

This is so very true. If I did not laugh I think I would have been lost in a world of insanity long ago. I try to literally seek out reasons to laugh…sometimes even when it is all so inappropriate. I have a friend (Sophia) who I find myself laughing with during car rides, starbucks trips, in the middle of prayer time at church even. She has been gone for the past SEVERAL months and when I found myself reunited with her all we did was laugh…at nothing…I loved it, I love her.

During this new beginning (and sometimes challenging) season in my life I have found that not taking such a serious life so seriously sometimes is truly the best kind of healing. I am happy for friends like Sophia…I am happy to laugh.

Sunday

“Does trust have to be earned. Or is it simply a matter of faith?”
Nicholas Sparks, At First Sight

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but
for the heart to conquer it.”

“I may be terrified, but I face it anyways.”

Before this year I trusted no one..Not even the ones closest to me. I trusted only the few who earned it. This decision kept me hidden, almost safe..but it also kept me sometimes isolated. This year I am choosing to trust more and fear less. To trust the unknown means to be fearless. I have gone through to much to still be afraid. After all, what is left to be feared? A special person that I lost has taught me how to be fearless, how to be more than I thought I could be. You are now in the arms of the Lord but because of you I am braver. I almost prefer the person who I am to the person who I once was…despite all my broken pieces..I am somewhat more.