I decided to blog at 10:50pm. Most of you know I am not normally awake at this time. I am an early sleeper…preferably by 10pm I’d like to be dreaming! (Keana and Michelle can attest to this.) Kent is an amazing writer and now I’m following up with what I hope to be a decent post of the many changes I’ve been facing. Sometimes these changes are glorious and other times they are bitter sweet.
Coming into this whole wedding-planning stage was hard for me. First, I am a (capital A) type A personality to the core. Second, I shot over 30 weddings this year and a fairly close number to that last year. Those two things together can be a terrible combination. Who can compete with all of the sweet ideas I’ve seen at those 30+ weddings and what’s thrown around on Pinterest? To be honest wedding planning was more of a hassle and button pusher than it was a fun and memorable time. Last month I finally surrendered my crazy-perfectionist personality to Jesus after a lot of frustrated tears. God taught me so much through this turmoil in my soul. Kent was the biggest help ever in this, and so was my mom! They constantly reminded me that this wedding is about celebrating what God is doing, not about what it looks like. Kent comforted me in saying that we are not competing to have the prettiest wedding. It’s about sharing our testimony with others and worshiping Jesus while celebrating with the ones we love. That’s all that matters. Period. I’m so glad that this last month of planning has been so fun for me. I’ve relaxed, and I bring my mind back to Christ and surrender my worries (usually multiple times a day). Things are slowly getting done and whatever doesn’t get done…well, oh well. I want people walking away from my wedding saying how good God is…not just, “look at all of the crafts Ashleigh made”. Jesus must become more and I must become less.
Now, let me talk to you about our relationship. Coming together with another selfish human being, like I am, has it’s rough days. We butt heads and get consumed with our own way. This has been an awesome thing, though. Nothing has refined my selfish ways more than coming together with Kent. God is constantly showing us our failures and shortcomings. The amazing thing is that God doesn’t leave us there. He teaches us how to love one another, to be humble, to repent, to ask for forgiveness, and to want to become all that Christ has for us. God’s grace is so good. If Kent wasn’t so forgiving and humble or if I held grudges, our relationship would lack the richness it holds. It wouldn’t even be enjoyable. By God’s grace He’s given us an ability to become convicted and to never seek out justice. Honestly, each day we have to repent to each other or forgive one another. This has been so life giving to us. I love seeing the man I love admit that he needs more of Christ and that he wants to love me better. It’s so honest and raw. It causes me to fall deeper in love with both Jesus and Kent. Reconciliation and deep communication is key in relationships.
Last night one of my dearest friend’s came and visited Kent and I. She recently got married and was visiting home while her husband was at a bachelor party. I was talking to her as I was cooking dinner for my husband-to-be. I looked at her and said, “I feel like I’m playing house. I don’t feel old enough to be taking care of a husband.” She smiled and nodded in agreement. That night we both slept over at a another one of our close friend’s house. It was both her and my first sleepover since her bachelorette party a month or so ago. I felt 15 again. I was so giddy to chat with my best friend’s over tea and some of my friend’s mom’s AMAZING Pumpkin Woopie Pies. Talk about amazing. It’s crazy growing up into a wife position. It’s not a light responsibility. Kent comes before my needs. I can’t just run around with my friends all day and neglect spending time with him. (Kent likes to talk as much, if not more, than I do. So blessed.) I’ll forever treasure those sweet moments I’ll get to have with my dear best friend’s. I’m now about to cleave to my husband. He comes first in my life now, then they will follow. It just hit me all of the sudden that a lot more is changing than I realized. Regardless, it’s so much fun.
As I was driving home from a beautiful wedding Kent and I were shooting I was listening to the song “Marriage Wine” by a bunch of talented IHOP singers. It’s all about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It’s how Jesus is coming back for us, how it’s going to be the best celebration ever, and how we will get to spend eternity with Him! I’m so excited to marry Kent and spend the rest of my life (until death parts us) journeying together through it. I get to do everything with Kent. I’ll never be alone. Our wedding day will be a glorious day and one that we’ll never forget! That’s not the end, though. Our wedding day is just a smudge of how glorious the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be. The day where I’m with Jesus forever. When I can tangibly see the Father, the Son, and The Spirit. Where I’ll never be alone. Jesus is the perfect groom. My marriage with Kent exists to model, in the best way our broken lives can, Christ’s love for His bride, the church. Our duty in marriage is to serve one another and never forsake each other for another. This is exactly what Christ did. He served by dying on the cross for us. God never left us when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, He didn’t destroy us, but He gave us a second chance even with the consequences we now face. In order for us to have a great marriage we need to look at the ultimate example, Jesus. How sweet our marriage will be, but how much sweeter the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be when Jesus did everything perfectly. (Giddy face.)
And those, my friends, are the changes that the Lord is teaching me through. I’m so excited to marry my best friend in two weeks. I can’t wait to grow closer to the Lord with Him. I am so blessed, but only by the kindness of Christ.
Today marks two weeks until our Wedding! Time is flying.
This morning I woke up with so many mental pages of thoughts. Do you ever have those days, where for some reason you just can’t seem to get out of your head? The harder I tried to get my thoughts focused on Christ, the more I pushed myself to become closer to Him, the more He seemed to escape. It is a pretty frustrating thing when that happens.
I believe there is a reason for that. Very quickly I felt The Lord show me how much my ‘doing’ is out of religious striving, and not out of a heart that even desires Him. That frustration is not so that we simply try to seek Him harder by our own strength. I believe God was revealing to me that even though I am seeking Him, I am doing it out of my own strength. When we do things rooted in our own strength, we can easily become proud when we reach our end goal. Basically, quiet time is the goal, devotions is the tasks, and I simply check them off when I feel that I was enlightened. But the truth of Christianity is that we are completely dependent on the Trinity of God the Father, by the person of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. To come to deeper revelation of who God is and His heart for us requires the deepest roots of moralism and religiosity to be severed. It isn’t about me and my strengths and weaknesses. It is about Christ, and my need to surrender in humility, and recognize that apart from asking The Spirit to lead me, I can not do so on my own.
This plays out the same way with Ashleigh. When she needs served and helped, does it truly glorify God for me to help her, but all the while I am annoyed in my head, disappointed that she didn’t just do it herself? I may be serving her with my hands while simultaneously being completely selfish in my motives. This leads to a religious moralism where I can deceive myself that I am doing for her what is right. But in those moments, I am not truly serving her. The point of serving is a surrendering of your will to someone else and saying “I defer my interests in order to hold you higher than myself.” Having a “fake it until you make it” attitude may work great in business, but it doesn’t work in a relationship where you are required to give yourself spiritually to one another. My relationship with her can not be faked. I can for a few days or weeks perhaps do things just for the sake of doing them, but eventually I become exhausted and I reveal my true character. I wasn’t doing things out of love for her, I was doing them out of a religious obligation that glorified my actions, all the while my heart was completely selfish.
I believe that this is the same thing that happens when we try to seek God harder without first acknowledging that we can’t even seek Him without a new heart that even desires Him.
However, just because I don’t feel that I am serving out of a correct heart, that does not mean I should simply check out and say “Forget it, I can’t get this right so I won’t do it at all.” As I was pondering all of this this morning I was reminded of James 5:16- “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” A huge part of Scripture is context, especially since the first word of 5:16 is “therefore,” which points back to a point made in a previous verse. Beginning at verse 13 through 15 we see: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” In verse 13 we see that if someone is suffering, he should pray, and a few verses later we see that if someone is sick they should ask in faith for prayer. It requires faith to ask someone to pray for us as well. So the person in need of prayer is admitting that they alone can not heal themselves, and they are needing faith in Christ to believe that He alone is able to heal them. In verse 16 it talks about the prayer of the righteous person being effective and powerful. What makes that person righteous? Faith in The Lord alone which requires abandonment of self in humility, and a new heart given by The Lord.
While in context James is talking about physical illness, I don’t believe it is a stretch to conclude that the same is true of spiritual sickness. In regard to serving and seeking out of a wrong motive, pride is a spiritual sickness. When I say to myself “I am just going to serve you,” and have no heart of service towards Ashleigh, or whoever I serve for that matter, then the truth is that I am not serving her the deepest needs of her heart, and I am certainly not loving her as Christ loved the church (dying to self, in humility). The same goes for my relationship with The Lord. If I simply lay there with my Bible and read a little bit yet become frustrated with my inability to focus, that self-frustration is pride, myself telling myself “I should be able to attain to Godliness without God.” The mark of Christian maturity is not needing God less. That seems ridiculous, but how often is that what we do?
So how do we grow in intimacy with The Lord, and not out of only religious duty that does not glorify God? Our frustration is meant to lead us to Him even deeper. I’m not supposed to lay in bed getting frustrated that I don’t feel like reading the Bible, or I don’t feel like keeping my heart aligned with Him. The same way that the Bible instructs us to confess to each other, we need to confess to The Lord in prayer and relationship: “God, I want to truly know your heart, I want to truly know who you are. I have gotten caught up in trying hard and being good for the sake of being good, and obedient for the sake of being obedient. I have exchanged a relationship with you for a duty of doing something for you. Teach me how to love you.” This works the same with Ashleigh. We need to confess our sins to each other as James 5:16 says. Be honest. Open yourself. Tell your spouse that you deeply desire to serve them, you weren’t serving them out of a correct heart, and ask for their forgiveness. Ask God for forgiveness and ask Him to show you how to serve from a heart completely reliant on His Spirit for strength and power. It is called Christianity- not Kentianity. Don’t expect to be able to do this without His guidance and power. Jesus has already died on the cross for all of your sins, and your sinful nature. Do not grieve the Spirit by attempting to work your way to Him. Accept His work, confess your sins to Him, and ask Him for more of Himself.
Kent here, kicking off the first post here. Admittedly, it is a little weird posting on a Blog that assumes that Ashleigh and I are already married in the URL (KentAndAshleighSaidIDo) but I have some thoughts, a day off, and the motivation to write. What a wonderfully rare circumstance.
God often (Seriously often, like every few weeks) will bring coinciding and overlapping themes in my life at the same time. For example, I started reading the book of Joshua the other day, only to see that The Lord exalts Joshua by saying he will be as Moses was toward the people of Israel. I started to desire reading more on Moses before getting into Joshua, so I began reading Exodus, shortly after reading a scripture where Jesus was talking about Moses looking forward to His earthly ministry. Ashleigh was somewhere in Numbers the same time as Chris Adams, exactly at the same time that Mark Driscoll, unbeknownst to me, was beginning a sermon series on the 10 Commandments. Rodney from Gateway House of Prayer also spoke several weeks ago on the life of Moses, and I had to just laugh about it all and realize that God was trying to speak to me through all of these “coincidences.”
Basically there is this guy named Moses who is seriously unqualified for leadership, and no church today would hire him based on his criminal background alone. Nevertheless, God calls him to lead the Israelite people out of slavery in Egypt and into freedom. After fumbling through as many excuses as he could before finally exclaiming “Oh Lord, would you just send someone else to do it?”, Moses can’t resist The Lord any longer and goes on to fulfill the calling on his life. God, with much patience, exercises His power through signs and wonders, frees the Israelite people, and leads them through the wilderness toward a better future. But at every turn, at every unknown, at every time where they are in lack, instead of trusting in The God who performed all of these miracles (which they all witnessed with their own eyes) they decide to trust in their infinitely small minds and grumble against Moses (although the Bible attributes this grumbling against The Lord) and God, saying things like “It would have been better for us to die in Egypt.” God had literally walled up the Red Sea from flowing so that the entire nation of Israel could walk through the water on dry land, and within probably a week they are already complaining and wishing they had been left alone.
This story does not terminate or find it’s end in Moses being a great leader, or even a great person. Moses was as flawed as you and me. At times his faith faltered and his patience wore thin. Moses is just a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, who in His perfect life and death rescued His people from the power of sin and death. Moses was flawed, whereas Jesus was flawless. The Old Testament is about Jesus, and not understanding that will lead to many problems with how we view the Old Testament writings.
In life God will call us to do things that we are not qualified for. For example, marriage. I am not qualified in my strength to uphold the expectations that God has placed on me for my marriage to Ashleigh. I am a seriously messed up man. God, even more than Ashleigh, knows this fact intimately. Yet God, does not lessen His calling on me in light of my obvious, glaring issues. God asks me to die to myself, take up my cross daily, put away my selfishness, and serve Ashleigh as Christ served the church. Let us keep in mind that Jesus did not die for a pretty bride. Jesus died for a bride that has a pretty sordid past, who was prone to, as the Bible says, “whoring around.” Jesus didn’t die for a pretty bride. Jesus was in fact crucified by His bride. It would be like me marrying Ashleigh, and during her vows she simply says “Until your death, with a gun in my hand, do we part.” That would probably be a good time for me to get out. Todd hasn’t brought up that red flag in counseling yet.
Yet Jesus looked past the pain of His cross, toward His future Glory. Faith is looking past both the riches and rags of this world, and believing in a future-oriented reality of being with God. So when things get tough in our marriage I am not called to a life of grumbling Ashleigh, as the people of Israel did, or looking elsewhere for fleeting pleasures, because the point of marriage is not my happiness, nor is the point of my marriage Ashleigh in and of herself. The point is knowing Jesus better. God has given me a woman that is very different than me, and that was in His wisdom and His mercy. His wrath would have been listening to all the prayers I had prayed throughout my life where I did not have His best in mind for me. He didn’t give me Ashleigh and then whip out a little notepad and take notes on how He could pair people up better in the future. He knows I need someone who is more organized, very disciplined, Type-capital-A, more detail-oriented, passionate about evangelism, passionate for others. Again, it was His mercy to give me those things, even though they daily grind against what I believe to be best for me. When I am tempted to be threatened by her strengths, or mouth off about how my way is better, I am called to love her, die to myself, and most importantly ask Jesus for the strength to do so. The truth is I am unable, and unqualified, to do what He has called me to do. But this is meant to produce in me a humility that could not be produced under any other circumstances.
Be encouraged when you find yourself completely unable and unqualified. Ask The Lord to give you what you need more than what you desire, tell Him you are overwhelmed with His calling and ask Him for the strength to become the person He desire you to be. Do not wallow and grumble. Confess to Him your sins of unbelief. He may not answer your questions, but He does not despise a broken heart and He draws close to the humble.
Last Sunday morning Kent, Vanessa, and I did some touring in Colorado after two long days of traveling for a wedding. It was awesome to get some quiet time and see some of God’s art work. Kent brought up a fantastic point, he doesn’t want to talk about the beautiful creation more than the beautiful Creator. This is so important and key in life. The creation is there to draw us to the Creator. We can’t loose sight of that. We had so much fun seeing this neat place. It was also quite a work out heading up those steep inclines…
I’m super excited about this blog post! It was so much fun hanging out with one of the little boys I babysit and his friends (the little blonde wavy haired boy is one of my ring bearers too!) I absolutely love hanging out with kids. They are so simple. The two toddlers brought me to the dish towel drawer. They wanted capes. They ran around (pretend) fighting each other with little “peeew” noises while the baby sat contently in a snuggly seat watching. Hanging out with kids reminds me not to take life so seriously and have some fun laughing at what we already have. They teach me to be content with the little things in life. It was a refresher for this overly busy girl (in this season) to have some down time just “being.”
I had the wonderful opportunity to be the Maid of Honor in the Bomberger and Ressler wedding. I had a ton of fun shooting some prep pictures while hanging out with the girls in the morning. Amy looked stunning. The wedding was beautiful. It was so much fun being a part of a bridal party full of your closest friends. It will be a day to remember. Christ will bless you both so richly as you follow His leading. I love you guys! Congratulations Mr & Mrs Joel Bomberger (:
Last month my family, my Fiancé Kent, my sister’s friend Corrie, and I went to Maine and then to Canada. All of my family is from Maine (originally Canada), so we got to visit with them a lot. Playing cards against gram was a highlight for sure. We even had a chance to attend a Christmas in July party at my cousin’s where we watched Elf on the projector. We went to the mountains, the beach, lakes (where my cousin’s were making hysterical faces), and various restaurants for yummy food (including buying way too much at Trader Joe’s).
Old Quebec was gorgeous. We walked out of our hotel onto the beautiful cobblestone roads and French speaking surroundings.The architecture of the buildings was phenomenal. Kent and I got to walk around and enjoy the beauty. We stopped into a Patisserie to enjoy some lovely cheesy bread while stopping into cute artsy shops. I love Canadian food.We got our squeaky cheese and Quebec mug from Starbucks while there. A few miles away from where we were was a market. Very few people spoke English on this side of town. There were all kinds of (we call them “crazy berries”) berries that I’ve never seen before for sale.
Enjoy a glimpse of these pretty places!
Last Wednesday Kent and I went to Lake Tobias for fun. We were like little giddy kids. A zoo AND a safari?! Yes please.
It was a great time to be together and take pictures just for fun. We kept thinking of how amazing God was for making each one of these different and unique species. There were insane jumping monkeys, crazy looking birds, adorable turtles, talking parrots (that would’t say hi on camera…), and the best part were the CEBU (maybe they were just water buffalo…but we had to sing Veggie Tales either way…)
Anyway…you should check out this awesome park. We had a blast. Enjoy the pictures of God’s art work!
Kent and I love to make sure that we get at least one adventurous date a week. This has been hard for us the past few weeks due to the crazy pollen levels. On Wednesday we decided to brave the outdoors full force. We packed up and drove an hour away to a part of the Appalachian trail off of 501. While driving through the beautiful country side of Lancaster County with the windows down, we listed to Mark Driscoll podcasts. This prepared us for some awesome conversations on our hike.
We are big on conversation, always have been, and hopefully always will be. It wasn’t hard for us to have a blast talking and walking down crazy rocky trails (which we honestly didn’t expect them to be so rocky.) I loved hearing Kent’s heart about what he was learning lately. He truly inspires me with his wisdom and servanthood. Way to carry my flowery backpack for me!
We discovered that we aren’t extremely woodsy people…we like it to an extent, but we prefer a more dirt path than a rocky one. We called ourselves armature hikers, because of the really intense people who would pass us here and there (their hiking poles and all.)
“O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your riches.”
In February Kent and I took one of my small group girls, Colleen, from our youth group, Unite, to downtown Philly. We had a blast. It was absolutely freezing though…and to our dismay it began to flurry. We didn’t last very long walking around outside near Love Park. We headed to Trader Joe’s to find that the place was hoppin’ and our parking meter was almost up. I did get some wicked tasty food, though. After that we went to the Edgar Allan Poe’s house on National Park territory. This was something Colleen and I really wanted to see. The upper level of this house was particularly interesting. There was so much different texture on the walls. I thought it was gorgeous even though it was falling apart (this was probably the best part of our day). We ended our day with trying to find a place to eat. After sitting down at some restaurant where the gratuity was $30 up front not including the food where nothing was under $15…we decided to get out of there before ordering or if our waiters came back (we came to the conclusion that the Mafia had to own that jaunt). We settled at Panera’s after a hold up in the line with some hot-tempered man who wanted his $100 bill back. Cops and all my friends. This day was quite the adventure.