Monday, October 26, 2015

My SLU Experience of a Lifetime

I stood at the top of the steps looking out at the marble tomb. The wind slapped my cheeks as if to remind me that this was real life. I was about to lay the weath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Weeks before, I had written a paper about Abraham Lincoln and how he began as a nobody, but turned into one of our nation's greatest leaders. I submitted the paper to SLU, hoping I would be chosen for the honor to lay the wreath but slightly doubting my abilities. 

Then I waited.

Two days into SLU 201 in Washington D.C., I assumed they chose other winners to lay the wreath, but as we received announcements for the rest of the night, I was asked to come to the front of the large conference room. While up there, I was told that I was chosen to lay the wreath at the Arlington Cemetery. 

My heart skipped a beat. Was this real?! I looked around at the student leaders next to me who had also been chosen, our excitement obvious.

The next day was incredible. I took it all in. 

I was honored to have a VIP tour of the Arlington Cemetery, leading us to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

When we got to the top of the stairs, my heart began to pound hard. One of the guards gave each of us students laying the wreath a strong handshake and specific orders in what to do. In my mind, I was so nervous I would forget what to do! 

Finally the time came. We marched down the stairs in an orderly manner, placed our hands on the wreath, and saluted as they played "Taps." 

As the song played, my mind raced. I was standing where Presidents have stood. I was a part of one of the most honorable ceremonies.


Laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was such a privilege and a memory I will cherish always.


The only place I know that can provide experiences like these is SLU. 

Student Leadership University invites students to think, dream, and lead while providing boundless opportunities to grow in your leadership skills. I mean, where else can you go that gives you the chance to lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

I invite you to begin your journey at SLU where wisdom and life-changing experiences await. 


Friday, October 9, 2015

This is the Day

I woke up & had my quiet time outside where the weather was perfect & the sun had just risen. I thanked God for the beautiful day He created.

I went inside & checked my phone to see that my friend had texted me. He told me good morning and sent me Psalm 118:24 "This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." It was so sweet!

As the day went on, I began some of my chemistry homework. I realized how much was on my plate, and began to stress & panic over all that I had to do plus, I never got to do want to do now-a-days. I cried because of anger that God would let this day be filled with school instead of relaxing & fun. 

As I was crying, I knew I needed encouragement from the word. Immediately, my first thought went to Psalm 118:24. God has made this day. I am to rejoice & be glad in it. 

No matter what is in the mix of the day—school, fun, stress, or joy—God has made this day for our pleasure. 

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

We Believe He's All We Need

“And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11

I’ve never been the kind of person to find value in how many likes I get on Instagram or favorites I get on Twitter… Never—until now.

I see others who are “more successful” in the social media world than I am, and I feel incompetent—not good enough.

I think that if I tweet something clever or post an artsy photo, I’ll receive more satisfaction and love and attention.

God created us to be desired and wanted, but we will never find that fulfillment in the number of double taps or retweets we receive. How, then, can we get the love, satisfaction, and attention that we need?

One word. Jesus.

Jesus is the One who satisfies us in the desert, who walks alongside of us to guide us. He’s the One who died a cruel death for us.

We know these truths, we even go so far as to say we believe these truths, but many times our desire to be desired gets in the way.

But think about it: if the all-knowing God made us with the desire to be loved and cared for, He wouldn’t leave us stranded. He would provide a way to fulfill our needs.

Only He can satisfy.

So next time you think you can’t measure up, things aren’t going your way, or you don’t feel cared for, remember to run to Christ because He satisfies.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

We Believe He Loves Us

“To know God is not only to realize He is love—it’s to experience His love.”

The Bible is filled with verses stating that God is love, but in this famine-filled, depression-driven, illness-guided world, how can we fully experience God and His love for us?

Last year I was experiencing a difficult situation. I was confused and felt trapped. Recently, I looked back through my prayer journal. I see how God has answered my prayers and brought me through that time.

If God were not a loving God, would He be faithful to us?

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Isaiah 31:3

Think of a difficulty you have gone through.

How was Christ’s love evident?

Many times, I’ve been bombarded with thoughts straights from the devil. Doubts, lies, fears. But every time I call, God rescues me!

If God were not a loving God, would He rescue us?

“Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.” Psalm 138:7

I was in my sin—dying and alone. I was continuously heading down the wide path leading to death. But He picked me up. He saved me. He died so I could live!

If God were not a loving God, would He die for us?

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to become sin itself, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

We experience His love every day. Whether we choose to acknowledge His love or not is the question.

Take a moment to pray and ask God to open your eyes so that you can experience His love.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

He Satisfies

I've been wired in such a way where I desire deep talks—meaningful, purpose-filled situations.

Today, I was expecting those kind of talks when I hung out with my friends. I had planned in my mind that our conversations would be deep spiritual talks. 

It was far from what I desired.

We had small talk and threw rocks around at the lake.

When I got home, I was drained. They were supposed to fill me up! They were supposed to give me joy! They were supposed to satisfy me. Right?

I ran up to my room, and I knelt beside my bed and prayed. Why wasn't I content? 

Like he always does, God met me there at my point of need. 

His presence was what I needed! He knew that I needed him, and he soaked me in His presence. I could rest in Him because only He can satisfy. 

Praise God that He is the only One that satisfies! He is the only One! While people change and different situations arise, He is constant!

Fill up with His presence then you will overflow with His goodness! 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Take the Challenge

I'm slightly introverted, so I get refreshed when I'm alone. When I'm refreshed, I'm in a good attitude & others appreciate a good attitude instead of a snobby, annoying attitude. I believe I'm doing people good when I'm alone. 

And there's a time & a place for everything, but in Hebrews 10:24-25, it says to not neglect meeting together. It's a command—to meet together as Christians & encourage one another. 

This summer, I'm challenged (& it's very much a challenge for me) to meet together with believers & encourage one another when it's so easy to be by myself.

For those of you who find it easy to be around people & constantly meet together, what if you took it to the next level & instead of it just being a time to hang out, it was an intentional time to encourage each other in the Lord?

We each are called to a higher level spiritually. Take the next step up.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Just Listen

Another quick thought: for whatever you may be facing—joys inexpressible or sorrow and stress—just simply listen to what God has to say.

"Now I will take the load from your shoulders; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks. You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thundercloud and tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah." Psalm 81:6-7

"Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things." Psalm 81:10b

For the Hebrews the stomach represented emotion. The mouth lead to the stomach.
When we open our mouth, we give God access to our emotions; when we give Him our emotions, He promises to give us good things.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quick Thought

Sometimes, as a writer, I want each entry to be long and exciting, like a well-written book. But sometimes, I just need to share the short, quick, but meaningful insights God has given me. Here's one, with many more to come. :)

"You will not need to fight this battle. Stand firm, hold you position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you." 2 Chronicles 20:17

God tells us that we don't need to fight the battles we face. We only wear ourselves out because He has already won the battles for us. Lean on Him because He promises to be with us.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thankfulness as a Sacrifice

I would like to share something God's been laying on my heart lately. 

In my quiet time a couple weeks ago, I was reading through Ephesians and read Eph. 5:4 which says that we are to not let any foolishness or filthiness or even crude joking come out of you mouth but instead, let there be thankfulness.

That thought really stuck with me, and I tried to replace unnecessary words with thankfulness.

Only a couple days ago in my quiet time, I read Psalm 50. 

It's God talking and saying that while, yes, offering animals sacrifices is okay, God desires thankfulness. 

He says to make thankfulness your sacrifice to Him... then when you call of Him in times of trouble, He will rescue you.

Psalm 50:23 says, "But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God."

Through the good times and the bad times, the way we can worship Him—the way we can glorify our totally worthy God—is by daily giving thanks to Him for all He has done.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Let It Snow

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

It's snowing today. The beautiful storm reminds me of my redemptive story.

I was in a cave—a cave of sin—black as tar. The air in the cave was lonely and heavy, hard to bear. The cave was my sin, and I (on my own) could do nothing about it.

My actions followed the pattern of the cave. My actions left pain and heartache. My actions were like a murder crime scene, blood flung and splashed everywhere—on walls and stained to the floor. From all my actions, I thought I had escaped, but Someone never left my side.

I was turned in, going to the courthouse, positive I would be called out: "guilty as charged." The Judge examined my files, but He didn't need to. He's all-knowing, very wise, and most of all—holy. He doesn't desire someone with a cave like mine.

When He finished looking at my papers, He looked at me with eyes full of tears, eyes full of compassion.

"Ashlyn," He called gently, "I know the depth of your cave. I know the vastness of your horrific actions. But I must ask you a question."

"Yes, Judge?" I replied.

"Do you know the depth of my love? Do you know the vastness of my forgiveness?"

I stood in silence, confused, but a glimmer of hope sparked in me.

"While you were shedding blood in your horrible actions," the Judge explained, "I sent my Son out. I wanted Him to bring you in so I could heal your scars. But in your actions, you murdered Him."

I stood ashamed.

"But see, Ashlyn, that was part of My plan all along. Three days after you killed Him, He came back to life! He used His blood to wash away the blood stains you left behind. 

I glanced up from staring shamefully at my feet and looked out the window. It was snowing.

"The snow is covering up the murder crime scenes, and it's turning your black cave white. I have forgiven you. You are free."

I was dumbfounded. The Judge forgave me? He did all of this for me?

The Judge saw how confused I was, stepped away from His desk, and opened His arms wide.

I ran to Him. As He held me in His arms, I learned that this Man is not only Judge, but my loving Redeemer. 

The cave represents our heart. It is black with sin until Jesus' blood washes our hearts white as snow. God has forgiven us of all of our sinful actions, and He lovingly reaches out to us, desiring us to run to Him because He cares for us.

Come now let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Thursday, February 26, 2015

It Is Well

Believe it or not, but this is the same canvas.

While this was a blank canvas, I had different plans of the outcome. 

My original plan was to be a realistic outdoor scene. My result was far from what I expected—it turned out to be an outdoor animated lake-type thing with something like flowers on the side... I did NOT like it. 

After a couple months of just leaving it in my room, I finally decided to change it. Long story short, I really liked my second result. It was a long process to paint over the mess, but now I can't stop staring at it.

This is kind of like life. 

In our own plans, we expect great results, which often turn out to be a mess. But when we let God take control, He always promises good. 

Psalm 32:8 The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you."

Although it may be a long and hard process for God to make you into the person He wants you to be, at the end of it all, in all of God's goodness and grace, we can say, "It is well."

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Daddy's Love

"Goodnight," Dad said to me as I was heading to bed.
"Goodnight," I replied, "I love you."
My dad responded with words I would not forget: "I loved you before you knew what love was."
I went to sleep with the thought of that kind of love stuck in my mind.

My dad really loves me--I'm beyond blessed! He continually sacrifices his time, love, and care for me. He gives me his protection. No one in this world can compare to the kind of hugs he gives; they're the best. I love how his strong arms gently wrap around me. He is always there for me--giving the wisdom and advice and listening to me. I love my daddy, and he loves me.

As I was thinking about his words to me that night, I thought of the parallelism between my earthly father and my heavenly Father.

He wraps his arms around me, promising to never leave me or forsake me (Deut. 31:6). He listens to me (Isaiah 65:24). He gives me wisdom through his Word (Psalm 119:130). And He covers me with the protection of His wings (Psalm 17:8).

While my dad here on earth continually shows me love, nothing can compare to the deep love of my heavenly Father.

God gently whispers to all who will listen, "I loved you before you knew what loves was. I loved you before you were even  a thought on this earth. I loved you as your sins hung my Son on a tree. I love you."