Thursday, May 26, 2016

Not qualified, but here I am.

{Originally published on Be Still Waiting Heart}

It’s funny how God puts you right where you need to be, even when you’re completely unqualified to be there.
At camp this summer, the program staff is implementing a worship night where campers will rotate to different “stations,” with a devotion and activity at each station focused on a specific aspect of the Christian life, such as forgiveness, identity, thankfulness, etc. Various staff members were asked to lead the different stations.
Brett and I were asked to lead the station focused on prayerIMG_3450
Now I know it sounds bad to say “I’m not good at prayer…” but it’s kind of true. Neither of us are super comfortable in or great at praying aloud. We’re certainly no experts on the subject. I know, personally, that my prayer life has been suffering recently, as I struggle to make daily alone time with God.
Let’s just say, we both feel pretty unqualified to lead a devotion on prayer. 
And yet… that’s where the Lord placed us.
So tonight, we led this thing for the counselors and summer staff, as they’re going through their Orientation this week. They were divided into 3 groups for the rotations, and with each of the 3 times we went through the devotion and focused prayer time tonight,
the truth of the words sank a little deeper into my heart.
I became a little more convinced of the words I was saying.
And the Spirit of the Lord in that room grew a little sweeter. 
Though I feel like the totally wrong person for the job, I look forward to continuing to lead campers and counselors in prayer for the rest of the summer. God knew this was where we needed to be, not only to teach others, but just as much or more, for our own prayer lives.
Not qualified. But here I am. Ready to learn.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Freezer Full of Fish!


What's that saying about teaching a man to fish?

Well, no one taught us how to fish -- in fact, we tried but didn't catch a single one ourselves this summer -- but they sure gave us fish, enough that our freezer and pantry currently contain enough of it to feed us for the winter!

Such a blessing! We have such generous friends.

Last month, when a camp coworker gave us a couple of fresh-caught coho salmon, I got to try my hand at canning for the first time! Brett sliced up and de-boned the salmon, and I put it in the jars with a little vinegar and salt, then into the pressure cooker. Since then, we've eaten our canned fish a couple of times, in salmon dip and salmon patties. It's quite yummy!

 

We've been blessed with a lot of halibut, too, which we've been enjoying both baked and fried! Delicious!

God has really blessed us this fall in so many ways; the fish is just one example. I'm thankful He provides both needs and wants.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Moving Day and a New Season!

Hi friends, family, and other readers!
I guess it has been a while since I updated anything here. Thanks for still sticking around and reading the occasional update!

I've recently started a new blogging project over at BeStillWaitingHeart.com. The blog there is intended to be a ministry platform for women who are in the same seasons of life that I am or have recently been walking through -- singleness, relationships, engagement, and young marriage. It's really just getting started and I don't have many readers yet, but I'm praying that God will bless and expand it, so that it can really be used as a ministry. If you're in any of those categories, or you know someone who is, please feel free to hop on over there and take a look, or send someone the link! My prayer is to build it into a community and an outreach, a place of truth and hope.

In other news... today was moving day! While we (Brett especially) will still be out to camp at least once a week, today was the day we officially changed our "home base" from camp to Juneau. The last few weeks have been a crazy in-between phase where we've lived half at camp and half in town. It will be really nice to be settled in here in Juneau for the winter.

We've spent the day working on our new apartment that we're renting in Juneau -- cleaning, freshening the place up, arranging furniture, unpacking, etc. It will probably take another day or two to get everything situated and settled. We are excited about making it "home" for the winter and about hopefully having some friends over soon after everything is unpacked and organized. Now that we're done with the camp season and living in town again for a few months, it will be good to catch up and rekindle relationships with our friends and acquaintances here.

Speaking of winter, relationships, and such, I'm working on putting together a video that highlights what "winter ministry" looks like for us as Echo Ranch staff. Certainly our winters look different from our summers, but it's all one big picture. Winter Ministry can be difficult to explain to people, so I'm hoping this video will help portray it a little better.

Hope you all are doing well!
Keep in touch!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Be Still Waiting Heart

Hey girls,

I've just launched my new blog, "Be Still Waiting Heart."  It's designed for young women -- single, in a relationship, or married. There are just a few posts up so far, so it's still a work in progress. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Ashley

Monday, August 10, 2015

twelve weeks.

This week, I should have been 12 weeks pregnant. This week, I should be calling friends and family members who didn't know yet, posting cute photos on Facebook of my husband and me holding adorable ultrasound photos, and telling the world about our baby. 

Instead, I'm curled up on my couch thinking about what could have been, un-following everyone on Facebook who has a new baby because my heart can't handle seeing that, and coming here to remind the world... 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. 

image source

And though I have been "getting better," and I've felt much more alive and much more like myself over the past few weeks, hitting this 12-week mark has a lot been harder than I anticipated. When I would have been sharing our happy news, I'm feeling the loss all over again. 

So my message today...
  • If you have suffered a miscarriage, you are not alone. So many others share your pain and grieve alongside you. I know it hurts. But I promise there's hope. Don't be afraid to speak up about your experience -- you don't have to bear the burden alone. If you need someone to talk to, please, send me a message. 

  • If you know someone who has suffered a miscarriage, will you just let her know that you still remember her loss? Assure her that she and her baby are not forgotten, that her grief matters, no matter how long it's been. Please don't pretend to understand what she's feeling if you haven't been through it. Just let her know she's loved. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Where summer meets fall...

white caps on Berner's Bay
Today was the warmest, sunniest day we've had here in a couple of weeks. Outside in a t-shirt, sandals, and lightweight pants, it definitely felt like summer.

At the same time, there were signs of the soon-coming fall all around: The wind was blowing hard, making whitecaps on the usually-calm bay. The fireweed blossoms have turned to their final fuzzy stage before dying off. And I found a dead salmon on the beach. Yes, fall is coming, even on what was otherwise a very summery day.

Windy!
After lunch at the Dining Hall, I took a walk down the beach, camera in hand, and oh, it was beautiful. The sun on my back, the wind in my face, seagulls and bald eagles flying over my head, waves crashing on the shore. It was a moment that the world was breathtaking. It was a moment that made me happy to be alive.

What does that one line say? "Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss." That's what that moment was like. Pictures don't capture it, because there are no sounds, no smells, no feeling of wind in your hair in a photograph. But here it is, and I hope you are some fraction of as enamored with this day as I was.

The fireweed blooms turning to fluff is a sure sign of summer's end.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Help me choose a name!

Okay, ladies, I need some decision-making help! (if you know me, you know I'm one of the most indecisive people on the planet.)

I'm looking into starting a new blog/website specifically dedicated to writing for young women. The audience would primarily be
  • Single adult ladies
  • Engaged women
  • Newly married wives
                (note: all the life phases I've been living in for the past few years!) 

Topics might include: Devos and spiritual insight relevant to these chapters of life, pieces of my story, and practical articles about relationships, marriage preparation, single life, etc. I'll probably even write about our miscarriage experience to help other young couples who are dealing with that. 

It's still very much in the planning stages. However, what I'm debating on right now is a good name, and wow, what a tough decision! I do plan to keep this Dreams That Move the Mountains blog going for personal updates for family and friends. This potential new site is a totally different project. Just FYI :-) 

Okay, back to the name thing. Choosing a good name is so important, and a choice I'll have to live with indefinitely. I want something that will be appropriate to both single and married women...and no cheesy Christian-ese stuff! 

So, ladies, here's a list of potential blog names I've come up with so far. Will you help me out by voting on which is your favorite? If you have a different idea, feel free to suggest it in the comments! 


Which blog name is your favorite?

Grace and Becoming
Love and Longing
Be Still My Waiting Heart
Lovely Longing Hearts
Graceful Journey
Quiz Maker

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Love Will Get Us Through

A couple weeks ago -- just a few days after our miscarriage happened -- Brett came in from working, opened his computer, and said he had a song playing in his head that he wanted to listen to. He found it saved on his hard drive, a song from an obscure singer from Canada named Dan Powers. I'd never heard of him or the song, "Love Will Get Us Through," but as we listened to it, the words of the chorus wrapped around my heart.

It's not enough to love you

Oh I wanna hold you


Yes. Yes, those were the words my heart wanted to say to my unborn baby, my baby whom I love but never got a chance to hold. It's not enough.

~   ~   ~

These days -- nearly a month past the loss -- I'm doing much better. Most of the time I feel pretty much like myself. But going back to normal is kinda scary, and at times I almost feel guilty for feeling better. I don't want to just move on and forget about the baby. I don't want other people to think that's the case.

But I know the Scripture, "Can a mother forget her child?" (Isaiah 49:15, paraphrased) is a rhetorical question. I won't forget. But I also don't have to dwell in continual sadness for the sake of remembering. I am free to laugh with my friends and participate in life and embrace the joy of the Lord...while accepting the pangs of grief that arise at unexpected moments...and knowing that I will never lose the love I have for my unborn little one. It's okay to move forward. God's Word instructs me to:


"We do not want you to...grieve as others do who have no hope." (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

"Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on..." (Philippians 3:13-14)

"Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?" (Isaiah 43:19)

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy." (Psalm 126:5)




Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sadness With Joy



First off, I want to say how grateful I am for the outpouring of love, support, and prayers from so many people, following my first blog post about our miscarriage. God has absolutely used all of your comments, messages, emails, and texts -- and for the ones here with me at camp, your daily hugs and check-ins -- to wrap His love around me and hold me up in this time of grief. Thank you for caring. Thank you for speaking kind words. Thank you for acknowledging the legitimacy of our loss. Thank you for praying. Thank you, those of you who have shared YOUR stories of miscarriage and infertility -- you remind me that this is a shared grief and I am not alone in it. Thank you all.

It has been 2 1/2 weeks since we lost our baby, and those days have been nothing short of a roller coaster. The physical after-effects and the insane hormones can drive a person crazy, if the actual grief wasn't enough. For several long days, I struggled with depression -- unable to get out of bed in the mornings, and a lack of desire or motivation to do anything except sleep and eat cereal (yes, I wanted cereal all the time, go figure). Thank God, that heaviness has lifted. Smiles and laughter are starting to come back, sometimes forced, sometimes genuine. I'm slowly easing back into "normal life."

"Normal life"...with an ever-present sadness. 

God is using this hurt for His good purpose and His glory. I can already see that, and I rejoice in it. This has opened up doors for wonderful conversations, opportunities to share both sorrows and comforts with others who are grieving, and chances to "give a reason for the hope that is in" me (1 Peter 3:15). If Brett and I had to endure this loss, then I'm incredibly thankful to see God using it for good, to know that it's not being wasted. 

photo from Etsy
At the same time, we still have to wake up every day and remember that our baby died. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I will never know my first child. I still have to see pictures of women with their pregnant bellies and newborn babies, and fight the awful feelings of jealousy, because I really am happy for them, deep down. I still wrestle with the fear of having another miscarriage. And I still wonder, every day, what our little one would have been like if he or she was able to be born.

Yes, there's a sadness that remains, but there's a peace and a quiet joy in the midst of it. God has a hope and a good future for us. I rest in believing our baby is in His arms. We are not of those who "grieve with no hope" (1 Thess 4:13). God is pulling us closer to Him and closer to each other as a couple. He has surrounded us with people who care. He is good, and we're going to be okay.