Tear it Down.

Last year my husband and I bought an old farmhouse that was built in 1929. I fell in love with this house. It sits on a beautiful piece of land with a creek that flows through it. The driveway is lined with trees that make my heart smile every time I look at them. Our plan was to restore and remodel this house. You know, Chip and Joanna style (cue all of the shiplap.)

We would have friends and family come over and it was funny to see their reaction. They couldn’t see it. They couldn’t see the way I imagined myself in that kitchen in the old white farmhouse. To them it looked like a house built almost 100 years ago that had not been taken care of… and to their defense they were correct. But I could just see it. I pictured us raising our family in that house. I saw our kids running in and out of the back door of the kitchen while I watched out the window. It was my dream house.

As we moved forward in the process problems started to pop up, as you could imagine. But my husband and I had our hearts so set on that house that we would try to push through to make it work… until it just wouldn’t. We had many professionals tell us that it would be best to tear it down and start over. We didn’t want to hear it. It wasn’t just a house they were talking about, it was our dream.

I decided to fast and pray over this decision of restoring or tearing it down. At the end of it, my husband and I both had peace that tearing it down was the right thing to do. Peace doesn’t always mean happiness and joy. I had peace, but I was still sad that the house had to go.

At the end of that fast the Lord showed me something even more real and powerful than tearing down that house. He showed me dreams and plans in my heart that He was asking me to tear down. He showed me places that I was trusting in and pushing for my plan and not listening and waiting for His.

He reminded me in His Word of these powerful verses:

Look, I am about to do something new;
even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 4:19 CSB

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth,so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 CSB

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6 CSB

My mind knew these verses so well, but my heart hadn’t yet taken them as promises and really believed them.

So here I find myself watching my dream house come down, all while watching the walls of my heart come down and open up to what the Lord has for me. Somehow I find extreme kindness from the Lord and beauty in all of it. How kind of Him to give me an external example of what is happening internally for me. How kind of Him to allow me to watch the old go away and get to see the beauty and excitement of the new that is coming.

I think we all have plans and dreams for our life. I know for me when those things don’t happen I find myself so easily pulled into disappointment. For me when I see those things happening for others I find myself so easily pulled into jealousy. I want so badly to flip that script in my life and I imagine that maybe you do as well. When the Lord asks me to tear something down in my life, I want to rejoice in knowing it is because He has something better. When I see Him giving to someone else what I long for, I want to rejoice with them because I know and trust that His story is different for me, not just different for me, but best for me.

So today if you feel like the Lord is asking you to tear down your house (I am hoping you are not actually tearing down a house like we are, but if you are give your girl a call so we can walk through this together!😉) If He is asking you to let down those walls and surrender those dreams to Him, my prayer for us is that we let Him in and allow Him to do what only He can do in our lives. I pray that we can open up our eyes and hearts to see the beauty of restoration. The beauty of letting go of the old and rebuilding the new. His ways are higher, His ways are better, His ways are good… all the time.

💜 Ashley

Will He not give anything?

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 NIV

I read this quote this morning in an advent devotional I am going through by Ann Voskamp “The Greatest Gift.” This quote stopped me dead in my tracks and forced me to ask myself that question… God gave His only Son for me… would He not give me anything and everything else that I need?

It seems easy for me to accept and believe the fact that Jesus died for me. That God gave His one and only Son for me. But why is it so hard for me to accept and believe that He will give me peace when I am in a storm, direction when I feel lost, provision when the numbers don’t add up, comfort in the midst of discouragement and disappointment? Anything and everything I need, He will not withhold from me…or you.

I don’t know if this Christmas season maybe you are in a storm, or you are sad, discourage, lonely or maybe you are like me and just feel like your heart has harden a little this past year from hurt or disappointment. Maybe you, like me have been crying out to God to return to you the joy of your salvation. To lift the burdens that seems so heavy. To heal the places that hurt so bad. To make sense of the disappointment that you don’t understand…Can I encourage you to remember Jesus. Even now.. even in the midst of all of that you may be walking through?

Remember that Jesus was God’s only Son that He gave to you and me because of His great love for us. He already gave us the greatest and most incredible gift there is to give. Trust Him. Rest in Him this season and know that there isn’t anything that you need that He will not provide for you. Not because of anything that we have done to deserve it, but because of who He is that gives it.


Let us not forget…

I don’t know if you are feeling it already or not, but I sure am… so is my wallet😜 The hustle of it all. Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is soon to do the same. But I want this year to be different…

Don’t get me wrong I LOVE all the presents, the shopping, the food, the COOKIES, the decorations, I just love it all. But I find myself sometimes going through these motions and traditions so quickly and sometimes even on autopilot. Have you ever felt that way? Christmas Eve.. we go here. Christmas day … we do this, go here, eat here and then eat again there…

Sometimes our traditions, to-do lists, and agendas can take the place of what Christmas is all about. Jesus.

Not just the birth of Jesus but the entire reason Jesus even came. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior. We don’t rejoice over just a baby that was born in a manger, we rejoice over a Savior who came to rescue us because we need a Savior.

This Christmas I want to reflect on that. Jesus my Savior, our Savior. I want to remember the story in Genesis and the Fall of man. I want to remember God searching in the garden calling out “Where are you?” as if He didn’t already know the answer. Grace. I want to remember His grace. I want to remind myself of all the times He has called out to me when I have wandered away “Daughter, where are you?” My Savior, My Father, calling out to draw me back… because of Grace… because of Love.

I want to look at that manger that I put under my tree and see my Savior, not just another decoration I set out. I want to leave this season and enter into a new decade with a greater awe of who He is and a stronger wonder to know Him more. I want the same for you… will you join me?

Join me in a journey through this season of choosing to slow down, to pause, to reflect, to seek, to stand in awe, to draw close, to dig in… to celebrate not only the birth of Jesus, but the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ who came to this earth in the form of a baby to live a sinless, selfless life and to die on a cross for my sins… for your sins. To die so that we can live. So that we can have the hope of eternity and what is to come.

My prayer for us is that we leave this Christmas changed. That we leave with a greater understanding of what Love is and a greater willingness to share that love each and everyday. So this Christmas, let us truly not forget the Reason for the season.

Merry Christmas Friends 🎄Ashley

If you read this today and you do not know Jesus as your Savior I would love the opportunity to talk and pray with you if you do not have a church home or Christian friend to talk to. You can email me at ashley@ashleylmcclain.com or we can connect on Facebook. I would be honored and excited to talk to you. 💜

Here is a link to an advent devotional I am reading this year and LOVE so far: The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas

Sometimes our traditions, to-do lists, and agendas can take the place of what Christmas is all about. Jesus. Blog post by @ashleylmcclain1 (Click to Tweet)

That’s Not Your Story

Life is hard sometimes isn’t it? Sometimes life can be full of disappointments. Sometimes it can be full of hurt. Sometimes it can be full of why’s or why not’s. Sometimes I even feel as if God has just turned away and forgotten about me. Have you ever felt that way?

As I laid awake in bed last night I just couldn’t hold in the tears and the hurt any longer. I am a bottler upper (is that a thing??) I like to hold all of my feelings in until they explode. Super healthy I know.. I am working on it.

The questions. The dreams that are gone. The plans I thought would happen and didn’t or haven’t yet. The story of what I thought my life would be. The pain that comes with watching others live out that story that I so badly want to be my own… The disappoints, the feelings of failure and worthlessness… sometimes they all just come out and explode. But in the midst of these moments the God that felt so far away is ever so near.

In His kindness and mercy He chose to speak louder than my thoughts and feelings. In the midst of my questions and doubts His love was greater and steady. In the midst of my tears He chose to speak words of comfort, because that is who He is. Here is what I heard Him speak so clearly to my heart…

That is not your story…I am still writing your story and I am not finished with it yet.

Peace. Peace that is greater than all understanding. Because in my limited understanding there was still hurt, but when He spoke those words to my heart the Peace was greater.

I don’t know what you may be going through today, or this season of your life. Whether you are on a mountain top or down in the valley, know that your story isn’t finished yet. Know that His plans are greater than any that we can think of for ourselves. Know that everyday is a new page to your story. Some pages are harder than others… some chapters are longer than others, but the Author of the story is the same on the mountain as He is in the valley. Let His peace be louder than your understanding.

Here are some verses that bring comfort to my heart and season and I pray they do the same for you as well:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit away from me. Restore to me the JOY of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. – Psalm 51:10-12 NIV

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18 NIV

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23 NIV

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.Psalm 17:6 NIV

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.Ephesians 2:20 MSG

Finding Your Purpose

What a heavy load to carry right? Find your purpose. Find the one thing that you were created to do. Figure out what God made you for… WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW? Purpose and finding my purpose really got me off track for a long time. My intentions were good. I wanted to know exactly what it was that God was calling me to do so I ran and chased anything and everything I thought it could possibly be. I have to work in ministry. I have to be a worship leader. I have to work at a huge company and climb the ladder there… There was one thing in common about all of those adventures I ran on… “I.” I never stopped long enough to ask the Lord if this was the direction He wanted me to go in. I just knew in my heart that if I didn’t have something great to say to people when they asked “So what are you doing these days?” or something amazing to post on Social Media, that it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t enough.

Over the last few years, I have walked around a big mountain. A big mountain of constant change and transition. Over and over and over again. Only to land back in the place where I started wishing that I would have never left. But in the circling of that same mountain, the Lord was faithful to teach me and show me so much about purpose and my purpose.

Our purpose is not about the place, it’s about the people.

It doesn’t matter where you find yourself right now. Our purpose in life as believers is to point people to Jesus. Whether you are a server or CEO of a company.

Our purpose is not our title.

It doesn’t matter what the little line under your name on your business card says… or even if you have a business card. It’s still about people.

Our purpose is not about being known by others

I am not going to lie. This was a hard one for me. I grew up in the spotlight and on the stage. Whether that was cheerleading, dancing or singing, I was always performing to get the approval of others or to win the prize I was competing for. My greatest passions are to write and lead worship and sometimes it’s hard to do that when you feel invisible and like those doors just won’t fully open for you. Like you get a taste of it and it seems like the Lord is opening that door… but then you wake up and it’s Monday again and back to the same routine…What if we could learn to not dread another Monday?

That may seem impossible to some of you and trust me I have lived many years dreading Mondays. But what if I told you and really believed it that you didn’t have to live that way? That you don’t have to wake up to your weekday alarm and dread the day ahead. That your entire goal in life is not to just get to the weekend. That the only way you are going to be happy is when you reach that goal, or get that job, or get married, or have kids or your dream comes true… whatever it is for you.

You don’t have to dread your life. When we can fully understand that our purpose in life does not depend on our place of work, our job title, or being known by others there is a supernatural peace and freedom there. When we can wake up and be grateful for where the Lord has us right now and ask Him to use us right where He has us today there is peace and freedom there. When we can make ourselves available to the Lord and be obedient and willing when He asks us to do something there is an amazing sense of purpose there. When we can fully understand that purpose is always about people and pointing them to Jesus there is true fulfillment there.

So as you start your week. As you are waking up on this Monday, I challenge you to thank God for where He has you and ask Him to use you right where you are today. Ask Him to open your eyes and ears to those around you that are searching for something… something you have and can give. Be available, Be willing and Be obedient. Step out in faith with the Lord and just watch what He will do.
I hope you have the best Monday ever.💜Ashley

Peace in the Process

Today I was excited to share my thoughts on Peace in the Process on Arise Daily’s Website. This is a wonderful and encouraging site with devotionals posted daily!
You can read my devotional Peace in the Process here.
While you are visiting their site, take a moment and subscribe so you can also receive daily encouragement every morning!

From Bitterness to Beauty

I saw a quote from my pastor going around social media after this weekends message. This is a quote I am all to familiar with.

God doesn’t always change our circumstances. He sometimes changes us. -Pastor Phil Wilson (The Bridge Fellowship)

Have you ever prayed for something with such confidence that you just knew God would do it… that it was just a matter of time before He came through and answered your prayer? I have. I can remember waking up morning after morning praying the same thing over and over again for months. My prayer was simple “God change his heart to go, or give me peace to stay.” (I am not going to go into the details of what this prayer was regarding but I wanted you to get the idea of how simple it was, but also, it was NOT regarding our marriage just to nip that in the bud right away 🤣 we’re good… I mean have you seen that hot hubs of mine! Moving on…) I was fully confident that the Lord was going to change his heart and I waited and waited with full anticipation for Him to do so… but He didn’t, instead He changed mine. Ouch right?

Totally unexpected but completely amazed by God’s grace and mercy to do that for me. The Lord knew if we would have run away from the situation I would have never experienced the process of walking through a journey of bitterness to beauty and freedom that ONLY the Lord could have done. Trust me. I was determined and extremely stubborn in this situation to NOT change my mind.

There is no way to even begin to explain the beauty that is on the other side of bitterness if we are just willing to walk through the process with the Lord.

He is so kind to not let us stay there, because He has so much more for us. I will be the first to raise my hand and say that this is not easy, but I will also be the first to raise both of my hands and say “Thank you Jesus for not letting me stay in camp bitterness. Thank you Jesus for loving me so much that you didn’t answer my prayer the way that I thought and wanted you to. Thank you Jesus for wanting so much more for me than I could ever have imagined for myself. Thank you for being so good.”

I don’t know where you may find yourself today. But I do know if you find yourself in camp bitterness where I was living I can’t encourage you enough to give that to the Lord. I can’t encourage you enough to let Him change your heart, to walk through that process with Him. To let Him free your heart and show the unspeakable beauty, freedom and joy that is waiting for you. He wants so much more for you. Sometimes we just have to be willing to let Him change us, as hard and as humbling as that may be, it is so very worth it.

I am praying for you today. If you are walking through a season where you find yourself stuck in hurt, bitterness or something from the past, know that you are in my prayers right now as you read this. I would be honored to pray for you if you want to send me a message on my Facebook Page or email me at ashley@ashleylmcclain.com
💜 Ashley