Friday, March 23, 2012

Knowing Him

It's been a rough month.

Unexpected, severe health challenges for two dear friend's Father.
Unexpected death of a young man who was in our small group for several years.
Tragic death of a four year old whose family is connected with our church.
Severe attacks and struggles facing a ministry very close to my heart.
Car troubles, family struggles, and lots more every day life struggles facing those in my "inner circle."

And all I can think is that I want to fortify the walls around my heart, and turn the page on this chapter as quick as I possibly can.


For too long I have allowed fear to edge out hope in certain areas of my life. I came across this quote today from Angie Smith, and it was as if the Lord opened my eyes to something I had never considered before,

In my life, hope has led me to pray. It has led me to believe Him. To have the boldness to say that I trust Him above the hurt. It has given me a reason to lift my head, to stake my claim, and to dismiss the shadows that whisper, “it will not be redeemed.” We do not know the ways of the Lord, of course. I’ve heard it said a thousand times and I agree. But there is more to say, isn’t there?

We might not know His ways, but we can know Him.

I am not sure what you are facing today, but I do know this: you can allow hope to rule in your heart or you can let fear stake its claim in your heart.

Too often I have allowed fear to stake its claim in my heart.

Not today.

Not for this chapter.

I might not know His ways, but I know Him.

I know Him.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Locked out

It's official!

I am no longer locked out of my own blogger account! It only took me a mere 52 minutes and countless security questions to bust into my dashboard.

I am not sure if I am making a real return to blogging, or if I just wanted to prove that blogger couldn't get the best of me, but for today I am posting.

Posting that I beat blogger.

It only took me 11 months....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Powerful, unsettling words....

I read the following post on facebook today.

Shamefully, I did know when this woman was pregnant and can not think of a single thing I did to reach out or offer support. While I do believe the prayers I have offered up for her, and the precious girl she gave birth to have not returned void- I dare say that they count as reaching out or actual support.

Let me start by saying - I CHOSE LIFE. I lived it. The beautiful baby girl I had turned 6 this past year. My decision to go with adoption was the hardest decision I will hopefully ever have to make in my life, and I received virtually ZERO support from my "pro-life" Christian community.

With the anniversary of Roe vs Wade this past Friday, seeing all the CHOOSE LIFE posts really made my blood boil. It's easy to say choose life, - but much harder to actually back up your beliefs with actions. And it certainly requires much more than a status in all caps. Being Pro-life means much more than being anti-abortion.

My issues with the my church community did not start with my pregnancy - it started a few years before. I converted to Catholicism in high-school, and I was on fire for my faith. My 'cradle catholic" friends were inspired by my enthusiasm, and together our faith strengthened.

At the end of my junior year, I made the decision to drop out of high school. The pressures of weight and body image in my dance department were really affecting me in a negative way, and I was miserable. My mom fully supported (and encouraged!) me to make this decision - she could see I was not in a healthy environment. (ps - I ended up going to college on a scholarship). Then, to my shock, I was kicked out of my youth group. I was told that even though I was still high-school age, since I was not in high-school, I was not welcome to attend the youth group any longer. This was devastating to me, especially considering that I just recently converted. I was not old enough to be in a young adults group, but not welcome in the youth group. It was truly a blow, and it was the beginning of feeling like a mis-fit in my faith community. (for the record, I feel like any high-schooled aged kid should be welcome in a church program that preaches acceptance. just saying.)

All my life I had been raised Pro-life. My parents were a shelter home for years for women with unplanned pregnancies. We attended pro-life rallies when I was a child. It was something ingrained in me from a young age - Respect Life. When I found out I was pregnant (Christmas day, 2003 no less) I was terrified. But honestly, abortion never even crossed my mind. I was still attending mass at my church, but kept my pregnancy quiet for as long as I could. Once I started to show, it was clear that people were VERY uncomfortable with my condition. I have NEVER in my life felt so judged, or been so shunned. I dreaded going to mass, and eventually stopped, because the condemning stares were more than I could bear. The "support" that Christians purport to offer was not extended to me. I even attempted to find this support system myself, with no luck. I wasn't waiting around for people to help me - I went looking for it, and came up totally empty-handed. This was especially wounding from the women in my parish who were so adamantly "pro-life". I recently found out that my priest had been questioned for "allowing" me to take communion - apparently, some parishioners were upset that such a sinner as I would be allowed to receive the host. THANKFULLY his response was to fire back that "who could possibly need it more than this young mother and her child?" But to many, I was an eyesore and an embarrassment.

I went to Catholic Charities to try to get some information regarding adoption. I didn't decide until around my 5th month that this was the route I wanted to go. Unhelpful, full of mis-information, I felt like they were more interested in the money they were going to receive (a healthy, white baby is a pretty hot commodity in the adoption world) than in helping or counseling ME. (there is plenty of counseling available for the adoptive parents...ironic?) They also put quite a bit of pressure on me to hurry up and sign their contracts, considering I was so far along already.

Ultimately, I ended up meeting an amazing couple through a mutual friend. They are truly fantastic people. We did not use an agency for the process. I have NEVER regretted, or questioned, my decision. I miss that baby girl every day of my life. I know I made the right choice for me, but MUCH more importantly, for her. Before you tout "pro-life" opinions, consider what it would mean to support someone making a hard decision like I did. It's already difficult and scary and confusing to deal with an unplanned pregnancy - feeling shunned by your community is devastating on top of it. Instead of standing outside a clinic protesting, consider supporting and encouraging one of these young girls instead. Crisis pregnancy counseling is not available anywhere by anyone who does not have an agenda to push - take it from me, I know. It's easy to preach CHOOSE's harder to really live out that conviction by offering true support.

My prayer is that the generations coming behind mine can get this right. That their conviction to "choose life" won't merely be posted on their facebook status, but truly LIVED through their actions. That their belief in a God who gave His life so that we might ALL live, will truly transform their ability to embrace those whose sins may be different than theirs.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Win the day!

I am a tried and true, desperately loyal, college football fan.

I love the sport. I love the environment. I love the traditions. I love that (for the most part) the players haven't been corrupted by million dollar contracts- so they play with a purity that isn't present in the NFL.

But what I love most about college football is when you stumble across a coach who is changing lives, not just winning games. A coach who cares more about the world outside of football, than the legacy of wins and loses he accrues in his career.

Last night was a wonderful football game. Two teams, well matched in their talent and ability, tied up to the last 2 seconds of the game.

And yet, this morning it's not the winning team I can't quit thinking about. It's Chip Kelly, head coach of the Oregon Ducks.

"Kelly preaches a single message to his team, and it’s this: Win the day. Who cares about tomorrow, who cares about yesterday, all that is demanded of you is that you win the day. That means have an excellent practice, that means have an excellent day of rest, that means every hour of every day, be there, be present. That also means do not think about the National Championship, just think about today, just get up and do your work." (This quote is taken from Donald Miller's blog- where you can read more about the Oregon Ducks and Chip Kelly)

And I am left wondering what the world would look like if we, as Christians, truly adopted this motto as our own?

Win the day. Win the day by winning each interaction you have with another human being. Win the day by reflecting His grace and mercy in whatever trial faces you this hour. Win the day by honoring God in the conversation you have on the phone, the email you send, and your facebook status. Win the day by extending forgiveness rather than anger. By offering patience instead of intolerance.

These sound like such lofty aspirations, but I just wonder how much more we might reflect our Creator if we simply focused on winning the day, or the hour, or the minute at hand?

After all, we aren't guaranteed tomorrow, so why not focus on winning today for Him?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A quote to challenge you...

At the suggestion of my dear friend Heidi, I put "Choosing to SEE" by Mary Beth Chapman on my Christmas wish list.

I have not been disappointed.

I am so excited about what God is stirring in my heart by reading about Mary Beth's journey, and will undoubtedly have more to share about this book as I continue to journey through it.

My favorite quote so far:

"People need to know that Christian leaders, singers, preachers, writers, whoever, are as cracked and broken as the next person. Maybe more so. Hopefully they are in positions of leadership, though, because they are serious about following Christ, and so people can see that real success in the kingdom of God is not about being strong and looking good and knowing all the right answers. It's about continually yielding oneself to Jesus and determining to take purposeful little steps of obedience, and the ragged reality that its all about God and His grace at work in us."

So, I give to you my New year's resolution: "continually yield myself to Jesus, determine to daily take purposeful little steps of obedience, and start each day reminding myself that the ragged reality is it's ALL about God and His grace at work in me."

Friday, December 31, 2010

Ringing in a new year, with a new habit....or two!

Well, not that anyone is still waiting around for a new post from this old blog, but I have decided to try and make a goal of posting once a week throughout 2011. I want a record of what God is challenging and teaching me, as well as all that He accomplishes throughout the year.

It is too easy to just survive each day, and start the next without stopping to see His hand in everything that happened throughout each day.

So, I'm ringing in the New Year with some new goals, all attempting to create and instill some new habits in my life.

What are your goals for 2011?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 27 and Day 28....

Day 27 and Day 28 are a package deal because I probably wouldn't have ever experienced a real friendship with Joe, if it hadn't been for Heidi. I also believe that the Lord used Joe's relationship with Heidi to help the two of us wade through some difficult waters and come out of it all with a friendship that can withstand the test of time, separation, and growing old!

I met Heidi my freshman year in Manhattan, fall of 1998. We both had boyfriends that weren't right for us, but we didn't know it. We have weathered boyfriend drama, friendship heartache, family crisis, passing of loved ones, a wedding, moving states away, the birth of three beautiful children, and so much more over the course of the past 11 plus years...and with each day that passes I am more and more thankful for the gift of her friendship.

I consider it a huge bonus that Joe loves Heidi enough to encourage and strengthen our friendship, even if it means he is home with the kids for the weekend so we can drive to meet up and just be in the same place.

Joe gave me one of the most incredibly humbling gifts a guy could give a friend of his soon-to-be-fiance. He included me in his master plan for proposing to Heidi. He asked for my help, told me his plan, and included me in helping to make sure it went off the way he envisioned it. He also showed me the ring before he popped the question. His actions honored the friendship that we shared up to that point, but also demonstrated how deeply he loved Heidi and truly knew her heart.

They are the kind of friends who are also your family.

I love you both, more than you'll ever know!

Baby Back Libs

Just to break up the posts about the 30 Rock Tour....

Anyone having Baby Back Libs for dinner tonight?

Baby Back Libs from Ashlee Liddell on Vimeo.

Day 26...

I want to try to express to you just how meaningful the past 26 days have been for me, but every time I sit down to try and put my thoughts together it simply doesn't flow the right way.

What I know to be true is this; God's love is extravagant, unfailing, life-changing as well as life-giving, and eternal. His love is freely given to each of us, and the more you allow His Love in to your life, the more you start to experience its extravagance and depth.

This entire tour has been a daily reminder to me of how the Body of Christ is one of the ways that God desires to lavish His love upon His children. There have been some real challenges for me this past month, and it's as if God chose each day to build on the next and remind me that building up the Body of Christ enables others to experience His Love in a whole new way.

My letter was from Tami, and it just so happened that my gift was from her as well. Tami has been compiling each letter and turning it into a visually stunning masterpiece for me to open each day. Each page is different from the next, but each day also coordinates with the one next to it, making this book truly one of my most loved possessions.

Tami, I love you dear friend.