I was born not only into a Christian home, but into a Christian heritage. I can't express how much of a blessing I know that is. I was immersed in learning about Jesus literally from birth. I remember my first Bible. The pictures are still etched in my memory! For instance, this is the story of Elisha, and how the woman made a room for him to stay in. This picture had such an impact on me, it confirmed my calling to be a hospitable hostess at all times. Haha! Not really, but I did go on my grandfather's TV show at the time at the age of 2 or 3 and tell the whole story of Elisha (and made sure he knew it wasn't ELIJAH). The story ended with Prince Charming finding Cinderella and giving her the glass slipper back.
Anyway, I was surrounded by it. My first remembrance of realizing Jesus' sacrifice for me was when I was about 5 and watched a video of our former church, First Baptist Orlando's, production called "The Light." It was the story of Christ with drama and music, and like a Broadway production. When Jesus was crucified, I remember sobbing to my mom and saying "But he didn't do anything wrong."
Not long after that, when I was 6, I accepted Christ as my Savior. My mom knelt with me by our couch in Oklahoma and I expressed to the Lord that I wanted Him to be in my heart. I wasn't baptized until I was 9, because my dad wasn't the senior pastor at our church in Oklahoma, and I had a phobia of walking to someone that wasn't my dad! Deep, I know.
So at Lynwood (the first time my family served there), I was baptized by my dad. It was something I'll never forget. When I was about 12, my family was at the Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico and I had a crisis of faith moment. I was crying in bed, because I just felt the need to nail down my salvation with the Lord, which I did.
Throughout junior high and high school I was always involved in church and never wandered from the Lord. However, I have struggled throughout my entire Christian life with really studying God's Word and having a quiet time. For some reason, I just lacked the discipline, and it was (and sometimes still is) something I'm ashamed of. It's nothing but laziness and sheer complacency.
I'm a sinner, and of course I've done and said things that I'm not proud of, which I will not enumerate on this blog. The list would never end. I've claimed the grace and forgiveness of Christ more times than should be allowed a human being. Do you ever feel that way? No, I never struggled with drugs, alcohol, or even necessarily a time of rebellion, but Satan knows where to attack you. He is so specific in knowing where your weaknesses are. And trust me, he tries His best to get to me. All the time.
Last fall, when was newly pregnant with Evy, I heard a sermon at church by our interim pastor (my family had recently moved). It was about confirming your salvation. Something in me clicked that if I was going to be a parent and steer a child in the way of the Lord, I needed to get with it. You can read my post that I wrote at the time HERE. It explains everything. But, in a nutshell, I recommitted by life to Christ in the fall of 2008.
I still struggle with having a time with the Lord, but I'll be honest with you. This might be shocking, but I don't think a quiet time is the end-all be-all of the Christian journey. Yes, we should commune with God and be still to let Him speak. But I've found that since becoming a mother I've had the most deep, meaningful experiences with God. You can't have a child (whether it be biologically, through adoption, etc.) without seeing a miracle of God. It is absolutely life-changing. My moments with God come very organically, if that's the right word. For instance, I look at Evy Kate when she's sleeping and I cry. "Lord!" I think to myself, "My heart can't contain the love I have for this child!" And then I'll just sense: "Ashley. This is just a fraction of how much I love you. I sent my Son--that my heart can't contain love for--to die for you because I love you that much." I'm sorry, folks. You can't get that from a devotional book.
So that's where I am today. That's the condensed version, because I've had many spiritually defining moments in my life, but that's the gist. I used to think that since I don't have this horrid past, I didn't have a testimony. No. I think I'm an example to someone who thinks, "I've never done anything awful. I don't need a Savior." Everyone needs a Savior. Even if you can't grasp your sin problem, at the very least you must be desiring an abundant life here on earth. And trust me, that's what He gives. If you aren't sure about where you stand with the Lord, or have any questions about what I've written, please email me. God has been so faithful to me!
What is the one thing you turn to, if you ever feel like your faith is tested or you need spiritual uplifting?
"Streams in the Desert" is a devotional book that I believe is truly God-breathed and anointed. Life is hard. Every day. And this little book always has the perfect word for me. Also, if you're looking to start studying the Bible, I recommend Beth Moore, especially for the demographic of women that read my blog. She's conversational, funny, but incredibly deep. I recommend her study "Jesus the One and Only." It gives you such a wonderful depth on the life and heart of Jesus. At the very least, buy a member book for about $15 or so and work through it on your own (that's what I do). Or start a group at your church. You can also try your church library. Sometimes they'll have Bible studies that you can check out, which includes the DVD's or audio CD's of her sessions. Those are great places to start!
I was SO happy and pleased to answer these questions! Always feel free to ask a question or email me if I mention something on my blog that you're curious about, or if you're just wondering :) I felt that this was an appropriate end to my "Answers" series because this is the most important thing we can talk about on this blog---salvation through Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with Him. This isn't a blog that is solely devoted to spiritual matters, but I hope you always sense a thread of that running through it. I am not a perfect person, and I do not always represent Jesus well. But hopefully you can look past my faults and see that Jesus is "all the world to me" as the hymn goes. Thank you again for your interest in me and our family---lots of love to everyone! :)