"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Friday, August 9, 2013

Blessing Pouring Down like Rain

David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, and tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. ~1 Chronicles 13:8

This verse has changed my life.  It's amazing to me how God can speak so intensely to your heart through sometimes the most normal of verses.  But this verse stopped me.  I had so many thoughts.

* What would it look like to celebrate with all my might before God?
* How excited do I really get about what God is doing in the world around me?
* Do I even have my eyes open to pay attention to what he's doing?
* What must David's heart have been like to be this way?

If there is one word to describe how I imagined David, it was joy.  Joy before the Lord.  Joy of the Lord.  Joy because He's in God's Presence.  Pure joy.  I realized how much expectation I have that joy come because I enjoy my job.  Or joy come because Jude is behaving well.  Or joy because Jimmy and I go on a really great date.  Always conditional.  Conditional joy.  Except the only Biblical condition of joy is God's Presence.

Well that's everywhere.  God is in and within everything.  During every circumstance.  Without condition.  Without exception.  So what am I doing wrong that my joy is based on conditions?

So I began to pray a pretty simple prayer- "Fill me with the Joy of the Lord.  May your Presence be my JOY.  May that be the only condition for my Joy.  May I be as excited over You as David was."

God has answered that prayer!

Almost immediately.  I have only prayed that prayer (daily) for I guess the last 2 or 3 weeks, but I have noticed a Huge difference in my perspective, my attitude, and honestly my discernment and perception of daily occurrences.  I literally feel like I am bubbling over.  The proverbial cup?  It runneth over y'all. I am blown away by the goodness of God, His love for me, and how His Presence and Hand are literally on me and my life!  How did I not see that each second dripped of Him before?  "One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see!" ~ John 9:25.  I see His hand now- everywhere- all the time!

This has changed everything.  Everything.  I am overcome with my blessings.  I am praying as we speak that the Lord will recall them so I can share some with you.  But believe me, they are beyond count.

Today I went to work up in my new classroom.  I was going back and forth loading and unloading my car.  One of the custodian ladies was in the hall cleaning.  I stopped and chatted with her about being new, having taught in Denton, etc.  Her English wasn't very good, but we were able to get the gist of each other so to speak.  I went on with cleaning my room, and was getting hot, so I wanted to find the coke machine.  She was still in the first grade rooms, so I asked her.  She told me it was really expensive (like $2.50) and so I was just like oh bummer and put my money away.  She went and bought me a bottle of water at Walgreens down the street!  I don't even know where to start with this.  She wouldn't let me pay her back.  She's a custodian.  And an immigrant, so it's not like she has extra money.  I was completely humbled by her kindness.  And all from a 5 minute conversation.  She taught me so much today.  You never know how much the 5 minutes you spend with someone will possibly mean a lot to them.  I was completely blessed by her today.  And judging from the way she hollered down the hall "Ms Ashley, Ms Ashley!  Have a good weekend!" I feel like she was blessed by our conversation somehow too.  Only God could use 5 minutes for His glory!

Or how I signed up for this mug swap I mentioned a few days ago.  There were 800 people who signed up.  And we were randomly assigned.  I didn't give any information about Jude or my marriage or relationship life when I filled out the form.  Just gave some style hints like being eclectic, nature lover, stuff like that.  YET GOD had his hand in the girl whose name I got.  He paired me up with a young, single mom.  A young single mom whose going through a really rough time right now.  A rough road that I've already walked down.  Y'all I can't even wrap my MIND around this.  The odds of this are clearly slim.  But God.  But God works all things according to His will.  And His will is that His hurting children know His love.  His uses us, His body, to reach out.  And He literally handed me this opportunity, against all odds (except there are no odds for God) on a silver platter.  I can't do anything when I think about this except worship God with all my might.  I just can't.  JOY.  Pure Joy.

And so many more.  My new school is so many, many blessings.  Such a positive, excited vibe from everyone.  I'm blessed to form new relationships.  I'm amazingly excited about 1st grade.  I just get this feeling that I'm really going to do well here.  I went to some 1st grade math trainings this week, which were so encouraging.  I feel so much more capable of taking on a new grade.  And I'm excited about it!  And while I was there I learned that another school near me hired a new 1st grade teacher also.  This school was closer to me, and I certainly prayed that a door be open there.  But the door didn't open until after I was at Savannah.  For me this was a gift in two major ways.  One: it confirmed for me that 1st grade is really where God can use me best this year.  Kind of like I would have been in 1st no matter what if that makes sense.  It encouraged me in feeling qualified to be a good first grade teacher.  And it also encouraged me that I was at the right campus.  (at this point, I hadn't gotten up to my school to really meet any team members)  It encouraged me because if I was supposed to be there I would have been.  But I know God.  And I know He has a reason I'm where I am.  It just really made me feel assured of my decision.  

And all this was before I met my amazing team members.  Or learned that the first day back, we break into teams to do a CRAZY town wide scavanger hunt.  Think something you would do with Young Life.  Hilarious.  And this year- costumes are required.  Costumes to do things like have 3 team members take a picture next to a corvette.  Or find an Elvis record.  I can't even wait!  

And then there is the daily miracles of seeing this amazing little boy in my life.  And getting to watch how much Jimmy and Jude love each other.  And how they verbalize it.  I don't have words to describe what it does to my heart to watch their relationship develop.  I really don't think Jimmy could love on Jude much more than if he were his.  What a godly man!  But you know God loves us like that- through taking on loving something that was separate from Him.  

There are everyday miracles.  Everywhere.  All around you.  But the thing is, it's God's hand that you are seeing and feeling and experiencing.  He is so good and loving.  And He's there.  And my heart dances in my chest because I can't quite figure out how to contain HIM and the JOY HE IS.

Linking here today


meg mcilvaine said...

ashley, this post brought me to tears. overwhelmed/happy tears. God is so good, and all the time. thank you for this reminder and call to unconditional joy.

Kiki said...

What an amazing + joy-filled post! :) I am so glad and moved by all that has happened in your life lately. I love that verse you opened up this post with, too. I've never really thought about praising and celebrating God with ALL of my might. That's an awesome perspective to take and I love how you did just that and are celebrating all of the blessings that God's given you.

And that city-wide scavenger hunt with your team members? Wow, that sounds like so much fun!

Megan Card said...

God is SO good! Celebrating everyday miracles with you, sweet friend :)