Passion 2011!

What a way to start my year! If there’s one thing that I can say was spoken to me over and over again by God at Passion it was this, it is not about any other name other than the name of Jesus Christ.
Months ago when I made my plans to attend Passion 2011, I didn’t have many expectations. I’ve grown up most of my life going to conferences and “events” and I didn’t assume that Passion would be any different. When I reached Atlanta and walked into the middle of a movement, I realized something, I wasn’t at an event, I was standing smack dab in the middle of a moment that would forever shape my history. While it would’ve been understandable to be taken aback by the beauty and splendor of Atlanta, I knew immediately it wasn’t that which was tugging at my heart. I knew that regardless of how fascinating the facilities and how beautiful the surroundings that there was something deeper grabbing at my heart. This was something that went beyond what I could see naturally.
I can’t tell you what every speaker said, most of it seems to all run together. There are lines, thoughts, scriptures, stories that all seem to flow together in my head and yet there is no preacher’s name attached, there is only one name: Jesus. When referring to the days of January 1-4, I might say that I was “at Passion”, the truth is though, I was with Jesus. It wasn’t an event, it wasn’t a bunch of services strung together, it was a divine moment in time when everything stopped and God breathed. It was a moment that changed everything.

I imagine that when Moses saw the burning bush, John experienced all of Revelation and Paul was confronted and blinded on the road to Damascus that everything stopped and a whisper came that so violently and beautifully said, “This is it. This is truth.” How can a whisper be violent, beautiful, heart-wrenching, earth shattering all at the same time? I don’t know, but I know that’s the best way to describe what God did in my life at Passion 2011. My prayer in coming home was this: I don’t want to waste another second of not making Jesus known. I don’t want to spend my life on anything else. I have found someone worth giving everything for.

I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know how I’ll get there, I don’t know the specific details of my daily schedule, but I do know this: I know what I carry. I carry the name of Jesus.

There is a moment for everyone when something clicks. It’s a moment when everything you’ve heard becomes real, tangible, evident. I had this moment and it started on January 1 and has continued since. I’m living in a moment, called life, that is but a vapor, but that is going to be used to make the name of Jesus known. It’s not about how many things I can put my name on, how many people can clap for me or how many pats on the back I can get. If my name is never mentioned, so be it. His name is above every other name.

I write all of this to say one thing, may there be a moment for someone at Passion 2011 in Ft. Worth or may there even just be a moment for whoever reads this. May there be a moment where all else seems to blur and one thing becomes the center of your focus, Jesus. My heart is changed and my feet are set in motion. I send this to say, I’m doing it. I’m going for it. The cost has been presented and it is worth everything. Jesus and making him known is worth everything.

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that HIS name is exalted.”-Isaiah 12:4

Our entire group

Social Networking Christmas.

So, if you haven’t noticed..there’s a youtube video out that shares the story of Christmas through facebook. It’s all the rage.

Okay, so I really want to share what goes through my head every time I’ve watched this. (I’ve only watched it 1 and 1/2 times. The first time, I turned it off halfway through because I was just so bored out of my mind and amazed that someone did this. Then, I saw how everyone was sharing it on their wall…so I thought to myself, “maybe something really cool happens at the end”. So, I watched it all the way through and you know what?? Absolutely nothing cool happened at the end.

Here are my thoughts on this year’s popular new youtube video:

a) my favorite part is… “IT’S A BOY! He’s asleep in a manger… it’s all we could find.”
There are several things wrong with this. IT’S A BOY! As if she would’ve been SHOCKED? The angel TOLD her it would be a boy… I mean come on, she obviously had a miraculous conception like the angel said, why wouldn’t she have believed it was a boy? OF COURSE MARY KNEW IT WOULD BE A BOY. Sheesh. THEN…here’s a baby sleeping in a manger…it’s all they could find. BUT they could find a place with wi-fi to update their facebook status. The savior of the world is lying in my arms… DANG, I need to update my status about this one!

b) Jospeh’s status about “Mary is indeed with angel revealed it to me..” He goes on later to tell the world that the child is conceived of the Holy Spirit. I love the response of his friend. “That’s convenient”. I feel like all of this was a sacred thing… these two kids are being told in this unbelievable spiritual moments about how a miraculous baby is going to be born and change the world. I think it’s a little crazy to portray that they are just announcing it to the world like it’s just “whatevs” and gonna be accepted and “liked” by their friends (pun intended). I think this was a fragile event. I think this was a sacred occurence. I don’t think they were running through the town and yelling about it. They were preparing for the biggest moment of their lives.

c) I love the updating of the maps to show where they’re going. Kind of the point of the traveling during this was so that Herod wouldn’t know where they are. He was attempting to kill Jesus. I don’t think they’d be showing MAPS of where they’re going. I don’t think they’d be updating their status saying, “I’ve got the baby that Herod wants to kill chillin in my arms as I ride my donkey back to the mainland.”

Okay, so maybe I’m harsh. I understand the point of this video is not to portray that they had facebook back in the day. It does kind of make it look like “this is what they would’ve done IF they would’ve had facebook” which…is not what would’ve happened. I don’t know if that was the purpose of the video.. but it looks like it.  I know this is supposed to be “cool” and reaching out to the youngins and telling us the miraculous, sacred, precious story of Jesus through modern technology… but it makes me shake my head. Parent’s won’t have to sit down with the written word of God and read the story to them…nope, just share this video on their wall and hope that it has the same kind of anointing. I do think it’s interesting to see the reactions of the “friends” on facebook… but I feel like if that’s the purpose, they didn’t focus in on that and they didn’t portray how harsh it really was for them. It wasn’t as minute as someone defriending them on facebook… it was being made a mockery in front of their friends and family… it was that gosh awful feeling of walking down the street and watching as people who “love” you point at you and whisper what a disappointment and scandal you are. It was heartbreaking. Much more heartbreaking than someone de-friending you on facebook.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too fundamentalist in this one area. Maybe I just see a sacredness to the story of Jesus being born. I picture it as difficult, hard, terribly frightening, a secret, a journey that none of us can imagine. I don’t want to try to put it modern terms.. I want it to be in the terms it was in. Life wasn’t easy. Things weren’t convenient. Facebook wasn’t there to update and say “HEY ..THE SAVIOR IS HERE”. No, God sent a star…sent wise men.. he led people there by divine appointment. He had a hedge of protection over Jesus. It wasn’t a nonchalant thing. It wasn’t easy and modern. They weren’t chillin in a barn that looked like the Best Western with wi-fi at their fingertips. It was a precious, Holy occurence.. and it somewhat just bothers me that it’s been taken so lightly.

2010= “The Year of Breakthrough”

It’s safe to say that I heard from 700 different people at the beginning of the year of 2010 that it was going to be the year of “breakthrough”. I’m just going to throw this out there….I spent 90% of the year NOT believing it. I think if I had to describe the majority of 2010 this is what I would say:

*difficult, heartbreaking, hole digging, wallowing, awful….

I remember thinking to myself about halfway through the year that someone SERIOUSLY must’ve missed God when it came to this year, because the LAST thing I was seeing was breakthrough.

BUT coming into the end of November/December, I have seen unimaginable amounts of breakthrough in my own life! I can’t even begin to describe all that has been accomplished over the past month. Decisions have been made, past situations have been let go of…and thank God.. Jesus broke through! So, I can officially say…2010 will end as a breakthrough year.

I am ready for 2011. I will not be the least bit sad to see 2010 g0. It was a hard year. A lot of things happened…my beautiful cousin got engaged! friendships began, friendships ended, babies were born, loved ones passed away, people have hurt, people have healed, new chapters have begun, old chapters finally came to their end, i became more independent…and i became much more dependent, spiritual retreats and growth happened, seasons of apathy came, good won, love won, evil seemed to win, but it didn’t, narnia came out…which in itself was breakthrough for my life… and God helped me through it all… it was a growing year in so many ways.

I am so ready to see what the next year holds. I’ve learned so much in 2010, probably more than I would’ve ever imagined or more than I would’ve ever thought I’d learn in one year. I think 2011 is going to be some reaping for what was sown in 2010. I am excited to see what God has up his sleeve. I know this much: at the beginning, there will be an awesome conference that i’m soo excited about AND i will start a new season in my life…come June, there will be a beautiful summer wedding… and I will become another year older and hopefully another year wiser.

Welcome 2011…I’ve been waiting for you for quite some time now..

The 7 Deadly Reasons (that you don’t want to be a Pastor’s kid)

After the day I’ve had today. I would like to give you the 7 reasons why you do not want to be “The Pastor’s Kid.”

1. What’s yours is mine.

Because you’re the Pastor’s fam. People automatically assume (even if they’re not members of your church) that you are required by God to share everything with them. This includes your house, your family time, your money, your food, your children’s birthdays…etc. You are not allowed to have ANYTHING that is not offered to the general public.

They will barge in your house when you’re sick and on what feels like your deathbed. You’ll be sweating bullets, throwing up green goop and have failed to take a shower in two days and they’ll walk in and expect you to carry on a convo with them. They’ll walk in your house and experience indecent exposure. Especially if you live in the parsonage.. FORGET going half freebird in the comfort of your own home.. because they WILL walk in on you. Unfortunately, my fam has experienced this more times than we’ll own up to.

2. I remember you when you were a “lil ole thing”.

You can count on the fact that at least 73946 times in your life as a PK you will be told, “I remember when you were a lil ole thing”. As if somehow this means that they have this “special” connection with you that other people don’t. Better yet, that they have a special connection with your parents. PK’s are apparently special angelic children…that if you got to hold them as an infant.. you are “in” with the big man at the podium.

3. “Remember that time you…..”

As a PK, people will make it a POINT to remember the top 10 embarrassing things you’ve done at church. It’s like people keep a journal so that when their kids do something stupid, they can say…”well hey, the pastor’s kid did this one time..” They also LOVE to bring it up to you when you’re in front of other people in the congregation (especially the new comers). “Let me tell you about the time Ashlin…..”

Usually for me, it was something like the time I carried my stuffed dog in the Christmas play (when I was an angel). That’s one of the LEAST embarrassing. I’ll spare you the other ones.

4. You’re assumed to be a “bad child” or you better live a sinless life.

First people will automatically assume that because your a Pastor’s kid…you’re a rebel. THEN if they find out you’re not…they expect you to live the a sinless life. Every time you DO commit a sin they gasp and say “but…you’re the PASTOR’S kid.”

5. Everyone will die and get married at the most inconvenient times.

You will be required to attend the weddings and funerals of the guy who sits on the fifth row’s second cousin’s half sister’s brother. You will not only be REQUIRED to attend, you will have to run the sound equipment, mourn/rejoice with the fam, direct the wedding, tell the funeral home people what to do,

OH and when the people who just got married decide to smear red icing on the floor and shove cucumbers behind the stove YOUR fam will be up ’til 2 am cleaning it up after all have gone home.

OR …on the day of your 6th birthday party..someone will have died. Suck it up though and be the good PK ;).

6. Sing that again!

I am past the point of believing it’s sheer coincidence that people don’t normally have a pastor whose kids can’t carry a tune in a bucket. No, unfortunately most Pastor’s kids can sing…and you may as well prepare yourself that if you can you will hear this:

“can you sing that one song?” OH and they expect you to know EXACTLY which one you’re talking about. Once you FINALLY figure it out. It will UNDOUBTEDLY be the one song you despise the most and never want to sing again.

THEN after you sing it… the “Spirit will move” and you will hear people shout “sing it again!” and you will have to hold your breath and your impatience and belt it ALL over again.

7. You’ll always be introduced as “this is my pastor’s kid.”

You will see someone you know EVERY SINGLE PLACE THAT YOU GO. You will be pulled and jostled to meet their family/friends and they will say excitedly, “this is my pastor’s kid”. Everyone will gasp and you will feel like a caged zoo animal who is supposed to do something spectacular to impress the crowd. Perhaps, balance a Bible on your nose, or sing Jesus Loves Me in six different languages.

I grew up with so many kids wishing their dad was the pastor. Don’t get me wrong, God placed me with the right fam and I love them…despite the fact that we’re the pastor’s fam. I just wanted to now give you the reasons why you wouldn’t wish it on yourself. While it has it’s fun times (I have to admit… when you get to see their faces turn bright red as they catch you walking through your house in your under garments… it’s absolutely hilarious)….it’s not an easy job. This was just for the fun of telling you what some of us have gone through…and I remembered it today as I experienced one of the many “perks” of being the PK. 🙂

Love you guys!

Sign Language…the charismatic movement disguised.

ON SCL, Jon Acuff mentioned “sign language” in one his posts. It sparked my thinking….here’s where my brain went:

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard about those “crazy charismatics”. They put on their dancing shoes and storm the gates of hell with their jumping, spinning and fist pumps. We laugh at them, we point and whisper about how funny they look as they do interpretive dance in the slow songs. Oh, silly charismatics.

I find it strange though that no one seems to point and whisper at the Baptists, Methodists and Church of Christ people who throw their kids into “sign language worship”. Especially when they have no one who is deaf in their congregation. Their children are not fluent in sign language either, they just throw them up there and make them go with it. It would be like singing our worship music in Spanish when our congregation is 100% American. The only acceptable time to throw out a spanish praise song is when our Mexico missionaries visit home. (As if they don’t hear enough Spanish worship on the field). We like to impress them with our Americanized Spanish accents.

Anyway, back to sign language. I have a feeling that a Baptist might grab this idea and run with it for a message if one reads it. (I can say that about Baptists though…considering I grew up Baptist. Only the Baptist can insult the Baptists.) Anyway, sign language is the Charismatic movement in disguise! WATCH OUT…it’s dancing, coming in the form of sympathy on the deaf people. Except..we don’t have any. And if we have one visit, what makes us think that our “half sign language/half dance” rendition of “How Great is Our God” is going to convert them instantly?

Please know, I’m all for dancing and charismatics. I am also 50% charismatic, so it’s okay for me to make fun of them too… I get poking fun rights at both Baptists and Charismatics because I am part of both. I also dance in church (gasp)…Nevertheless, I can’t believe a hell-fire preacher hasn’t picked up on “the enemy sneaking in the back door.”

Sign language? No.
An excuse for reserved people to “dance” in church? Yes. That sounds a bit more accurate.

Disclaimer: This is not written to offend Baptists, Charismatics or the hearing impaired. Merely to only “poke fun” at how crazy our church ideas can become. 😉

In Christ, there are no goodbyes

This weekend, a hero went home to be with our precious Jesus. It was a shock and I still can’t believe it. There aren’t words enough to say what an amazing man he was. He was one of the few people I would classify as my “hero”. He loved God with a passionate love unlike almost anyone else you’d ever meet. He sacrificed everything for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for God’s glory. What a precious man he was. He showed love to everyone he came in contact with. He loved with a special and personal kind of love that could only come from Christ. He will be greatly missed.

I miss him already, more than words could say. Although I know that he is now seeing the reward and fruit of the years of labor and service on this Earth, it’s hard to know I won’t see him on this side again. His hugs were my favorite and every time he would come into town I would always be so excited. This precious man knew me when I was an infant and has loved me all of my life. He was the kind of person you knew you could depend on, the kind of man who was the most trustworthy you could find. He could also make you laugh until you cried. He was always one for playing jokes and telling stories…and I will miss that so much. I will miss his jokes, his smile and how he called me “Miss America” every time he saw me. He will forever be a part of my heart and have a special place in the heart of my family. Pray for us as we experience this difficult time. More so than that, be praying for his family and that God would wrap them in his arms and give them strength through all of this.

Roger Williams


Love, Ashlin

Waking up.

Today I woke up to the sound of a moving truck. I am not the one moving, but yet I’m sure I felt emotion as strong as the people that are. While their emotions are probably completely opposite of mine….I’m sure this is emotional for everyone. Today I woke up to the sound of victory. I smiled as I opened my eyes, realizing that although the timing seemed slow…..God did not let his children be crushed by their adversaries. Today, I woke up to the truth that his love will never leave me and that there is new mercy every morning.

What can no longer define me

There’s always something about every person, that is soft spot. Something that you hate. Something that’s held you back your entire life. Something that you’ve waited so long to see change. The biggest blow is when you think to yourself finally… finally things are different. And then like an explosion out of nowhere, everything comes crashing down and you realize that it hasn’t really changed. Time has passed, most everything else is changed, but that one awful thing has not.

It’s followed me around my entire life. It has been the chip on my shoulder, the elephant standing in every room i’m in, the reason i’ve tried to run away so many times. I fear that no matter how much time passes, it will never change. In some aspects in will, but in others it won’t. To some people, that will always be the kryptonite they can use against me. For others, it will never mean a thing to them.

My prayer today is that God would move me beyond it. It has followed me to every place I’ve ran to. It has been the reason for some of the dumbest choices I’ve made. It has held me back more than anything ever should. I pray that somehow he moves me past it… that in spite of it all, he uses me. Also, I pray those who don’t deal well with this so-called problem would learn to move past it. This would not be what defines me. May I know who I am in HIM today. May I know it always.