From a Wheel-Eyed View

From a Wheel-Eyed View – Ashly P. Ash

I am honest enough to admit one flaw that I have;  I have always cared a great deal what others think of me.  This has been a detriment through my life, just ask my family.  Maybe it comes from being different and an amputee from the age of four; growing up alongside physically able children and never quite feeling normal.  Maybe it is simply insecurity as a woman.  Regardless of the reason, being a hip-disarticulate amputee I have found there are times in life when using a wheelchair and/or scooter is really beneficial not just for me but for those traveling with me.  When I am in a wheelchair we can go farther, see more, and most importantly enjoy the journey along with way without the pain of the prosthetic leg, crutches, or constant worry for my wellbeing.  As our society seems to teach I have felt that being in a wheelchair means I would be seen as “weak” or “less than” at best and “extremely unattractive” at worst.  It has only been within the past five or so years that I have started to change my view and outlook on this by addressing things inside of me.

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise.” 1 Corinthians 3:18

First of all, being in a wheelchair does NOT make one unattractive, weak, or even annoying.  I had to begin a slow journey of trusting God with my life and my attitudes.  Studying the bible allowed me to slowly see who I am in Christ and how that extends into my everyday life.  As a sub-category of this I also began to realize that I am not “Disabled Ashly” but rather “Ashly with a disability”.  I decided that the only thing that would define me as a person would be the Word of God.  I decided any other label I had placed or allowed to be placed on me would be null and void by the blood of Jesus.  My life would be lived through Ashly and not through having one leg.

This of course did not happen in a day, week, or even a year.  There was a time when I would gather all of the pictures in the house which reflected me undergoing chemotherapy treatment as a bald child and hide them to avoid embarrassment.  Any videotapes of me limping as I walked I would vow to destroy while expressing anger and bitterness over the hand life had dealt me.  I never saw my life as accomplishment but rather as lack.  I felt I was lacking normalcy, lacking perfect walking skills, and lacking strength to do the things others could do so easily.

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

I would trudge through Disney World walking miles in pain with sores, rubbing and bleeding all to avoid a few sideway glances that may come from me being in a wheelchair.  Trip after trip to amusement parks, cruise ships, historical sites country-wide and airports were so entirely painful for me both emotionally and physically.  I missed so much! It was as if I went through life with a pair of blinders on like a horse pulling a cart (the cart being my emotional fears of being seen in a wheelchair).  My pride (the blinders) caused me to miss the journey!

I look back and realize that I missed so many wonderful experiences because I was too busy pulling along the cart of baggage behind me rather than hopping in (quite literally with one leg) and enjoying the ride.  Being full of pride and refusing to surrender to Jesus was destroying my body and robbing me of joy!

”I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139:14

So when I finally decided to get in a wheelchair and begin enjoying life I can honestly say it did not get any easier at first.  Those traveling with me were relieved because they no longer had to worry about my well-being or contentment.  We found ourselves smiling and enjoying memories in a freeing way.  But of course just as I had feared I received so many rude stares.  Many people would look at me as if I were an object and not a person.  Others would point and talk out loud about me as if I couldn’t hear.  Some people would approach me asking “ARE…YOU…HAVING…FUN?” assuming that I was disabled in a mental way rather than a physical one.  I have even seen snickers when trying to get through doors or being seated in handicap accessible places!

After I got married being in a wheelchair for long-distance walks only seemed to make things worse for me.  Suddenly I wanted my husband to walk alongside of me and be proud.  I wanted him to “show off” his wife and I wanted to live up to the world’s standards of a “trophy wife” for him.  But I will never forget him taking me in his arms one day and saying in a low and calm voice, “Who says ‘what is beautiful’?  God does.  I do.  You are beautiful.  I love you and want to enjoy this with you and the only way we can do that is if you are not struggling through it.  Sit down and enjoy the view and allow me to enjoy this with you.”

His words changed my life.  I believe that day God was speaking to me through my husband.  Begrudgingly, I sat in the wheelchair nearly shaking in fear.  I was so afraid people would see me as a “poor girl who has a nice-enough husband to put up with her problem”.  I was afraid my husband would see other women walking with their husbands and resent me.  So many fears began to overtake me that day but as my husband pushed me along he leaned down next to my ear and reminded me, “You are beautiful, aren’t you more comfortable?  I’m so proud to be taking care of you like you take care of me all the time.”  And I realized that the fears inside of me had been exposed to truth, to light, and were fleeing!

As the day went on I realized how beautiful of a view it really is from a wheelchair.  There is no concentrating on walking or dodging people because someone is pushing you.  You are closer to the ground and notice the landscape so much easier than others.  Looking up you never have to worry about running into a wall or tree because you aren’t the one steering!  I started to see patterns that I have never seen before, beauty all around me that prior to my surrender I had never seen!  I started to see potential photographs everywhere and began to capture moments to remember.  I was able to see things in a fresh way and at a new angle!

Today, I don’t understand when people do not want to be in a wheelchair.  I even offer to push my husband sometimes when I am tired of sitting!  Setting aside false pride and enjoying everyday life is something that I encourage everyone to do!  There are times when we even pull pranks on others by me jumping up and taking a few steps shouting “It’s a miracle!”…or a personal favorite is when he will let go of pushing me then walking away as if he forgot me there.  (The finger-pointing, shock, and lack of action from passerby’s is well worth the laugh!)  My only regret is all the years that I believed the lies and taboo that surround wheelchairs.  Having missed so much I can only hope to gain some of the time lost back and I am determined to enjoy every moment of it.

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Do you struggle with self-image?  Would you be willing to set aside all feelings of insecurity and be pushed in a wheelchair?  Do you know your worth aside from your looks, health, and capability to take care of yourself?

In our lives there are so many things like this situation that we hold onto.  We run like horses with blinders pulling our carts of baggage behind us.  Jesus tells us “my yoke is easy, my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29)  Laying down even what we believe to be the lightest of loads will allow Him to exchange it and give us not just a new view but a new love for life.

Let’s take some time to reflect this week about the things we feel define us.  What things are holding us back from truly relying on Jesus?  It is not a matter of surrender for His sake but for ours.  There is so much more that He can give us if we just let go of the heavy carts we are carrying.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

So let’s stop seeing life from our “wheelchair-eye” worldly view.  Let’s get back to the saying and take the “Birds Eye View” because it demonstrates that things are not always as they seem.

 “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

Set Us Free

See Us Free
Ashly P Ash

There’s a way for kingdom come
There’s a way that things get done
No one simply happens upon
Things are not manipulated by con
Though many are blind to see
It is the measure of bended knee

Though at first only seen by some
In the end will be doubted by none
Peace and love the way the world speaks
But haven’t they noticed this jug has a leak?
Jesus please be all you can be
Of this mindset make us be free

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Leaves of all plants reach for the sun
Clouds of cotton act as if hung
Running in fields to be part of this sight
But knowing it is from the Father of lights
One with my body as the sweat beads
Feeling provision for every last need

Society seems to be so numb
We don’t even fathom the meaning of crumbs
It wouldn’t be bad to rely on each other
To take things in stride and hear all our brothers
Lord bring your truth, bring it in speed
There are many whose hearts until then will bleed

So there is a way for kingdom come
Lord show us how thy will be done
In your heavenly eyes show us the measure
By which you count heavenly treasure
By the name of our Jesus darkness will flee
The name of your son, our only creed

*Ashly P Ash

Do Relationships Require Rescuing?

***The below is one “crutchprint in the sand” of my personal life.  I am not an expert or a therapist but am only speaking from personal experience and observation.  I do not expect complete resignment to the statements below.  My plan for the below is that it become a work in progress as I grow and learn!  The intention of this writing is for reflection only.

Do Relationships Require Rescuing?

Everywhere we look we hear a lot of bitterness towards others, anger towards others, and blame-shifting.  I feel we are coming to a time when we all need to have the proper skills in our toolbox of life to move above these things and into the call God has on our lives.

One of the things that strikes me about our society is the root of codependency.  According to Melody Beattie codependency is described as: “…one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her”.  The reality is that no one can control how you feel.  If you feel a certain way and that feeling lingers then you need to take a step back and look at why this feeling or anger is lingering.  Based on experience and research I hope to provide a visual for working through some practical situations where we allow others to affect us in a negative way.

Typically when we discuss codependent behavior it is in the context of abuse, alcoholism, addiction, and the support thereof.  But when reading the book by Melody Beattie titled “Codependent No More” I learned that codependency is very deeply engraved not just in our society but in our every day lives.  It is the very art of not being responsible for your own feelings and actions but rather assuming responsibility for others’ feelings and actions.  Darlene Lancer (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) explains on PsychCentral that the majority of people who come from dysfunctional families are codependent in one degree or another.  Because we live in a fallen world no matter how great our families were there is some level of dysfunction in all families.

As a result many people I speak with are wrapped up in the vicious cycle of codependency.  By being the victim and seeking a rescuer; or being a rescuer for others and then being angry after giving too much with no return.

What does this cycle look like?  There is a name for it:  Karpman’s Drama Triangle.  It has been taught in psychology circles for many years.

It looks like this:  Draw a triangle on a piece of paper.  The Bottom will be labeled “Victim: I’m Blameless”.  The Top Right will be labeled: “Rescuer:  I’m Good, Accepted, Capable”.  The Top Left will be labeled:  “Persecutor:  I’m Right!”

Karpman Drama Triangle

It doesn’t take three people to move in this drama triangle.  It can happen with two people where each person moves into the different roles as the drama unfolds.

Let’s use a basic example:

  • A friend calls and is stressed out.  She needs a babysitter because she really needs to get her nails/hair done and just can’t ask her husband to watch the kids one more time because he will make her “pay” for it later via his attitude.  (Victim seeking a Rescue from Persecutor)
  • Not wanting to hurt her feelings or upset her I offer (without being asked) to step in and babysit but because it does not fit in with my schedule I rearrange my entire day to fit around her poor planning(I am the Rescuer)
  •  As the day continues I even offer to drive her children home for her to help in “rescuing” her from her own drama.  But by the time I take the children to her home I feel like I have given above and beyond and am feeling exhausted and irritated that everything in my schedule has been shuffled around.  (At this point I feel like the “victim” in the situation because “I have done ALL of this for a friend and she can’t even come pick up her children”.)  (I become the Victim)
  • So now, being angry I move into “persecutor” mode and have a bit of an attitude with my friend.  I attempt to let her know subliminally that her incompetence has caused me grief.  (I am the Persecutor)
  • She immediately picks up on this attitude and becomes a bit miffed at me in return.  (She moves from Victim to Persecutor)
  • Now I am the “victim” again and leave wondering why she didn’t recognize all I had sacrificed in helping her.  Within a few days of being in the Victim role I will be worried and anxious that my friend may think poorly of me so I will call her up with another unwanted offer to get together for consolation.  (Inviting my friend to join the triangle as a Rescuer)
  •  And now the triangle will start again with a new situation.

In the above situation there are many things that one may pick up on that should have and could have changed about this codependent behavior.  It all began with the invitation (phone call) to join the triangle.  I could have chosen to explain that I am sorry my day is already planned and I cannot meet her needs.  I could have simply asked, “What is it that you need from me?” and allowed my friend to ask me for a favor while I decide if it is something I have the capacity to fulfill.  Both of these responses would have been healthy and at the same time I would have declined the invitation to join the drama triangle.

It seems that so much of what we do for others whether it is our family, our spouses, our children, our coworkers, etc. is operating out of this triangle.  Psychology Today states:  “The reason the triangle is so strong and works is because the roles are complementary. Each sees in the other what he is unable to see in himself.”

How does codependency start?  What causes us to behave in a way that we feel responsible for other people?  It begins with lack of intimacy.  One source stated that intimacy is defined as “in to me see”.  Getting to know yourself and establishing your own personal identity at an early age is key to not developing codependency.  Learning you are not an “extension” of your family but an individual with ideas and personality and character.  Traumatic events can cause lack of intimacy because a child/person is forced to conform to how the traumatic incident defines them or controls them.  Assuming responsibility for your own actions and not being controlled by problems or the reactions of others is something a healthy child will develop at an early age.

Getting to know yourself and allowing God to penetrate your heart with love and acceptance for who you are can break the power of codependency.

We assume the responsibility for so many others around us.  We attend events for fear of hurting feelings.  We say yes when we mean no.  We feel angry and frustrated and burnt out.  We don’t understand why others cannot see our own needs as we meet theirs so well.  All of this is assuming presumptuously that the “other party” cannot handle their own feelings and somehow we are responsible for how other people feel and react.  Then we become angry that we think they are incompetent!

The reality is, we are responsible for us.  There are things that we can control in our life and those things include our decisions, emotions, and well-being.  These things are our circle of jurisdiction.  There are then things that only God can control like the weather and provisions.  Lastly there is the jurisdiction of “other people” and only they can control how they react, live life, handle emotions.  Only they can “man or woman up” and make the choice to be responsible for their own choices.  We are not responsible for others.  We are responsible for ourselves.

A therapist once told me, “People treat us like we allow them to treat us”.  As we all become more aware of our role and responsibilities in life we can break the pattern of entering these triangles.  We can refuse the subtle invitations to rescue people from things that they must learn to rescue themselves from.

We had a chick a few years ago that couldn’t seem to burst through its shell before hatching.  I simply could not stand to see it suffer after about 12 hours.  I had to rescue the chick and give it just a little help by pulling a little bit of the shell back for it.  After I did this I became afraid that the chick was incompetent and it would hurt itself on the sharp shell so I went back to the incubator and pulled a little more of the shell off for the chick.  Wouldn’t you know, the chick was much weaker than the other chicks that hatched by pushing their own way out of the shell and within a few days the chick that I was so sure couldn’t survive without my help died.  It died because I rescued it when God designed the struggle of a chick breaking out of its shell to strengthen it for the future.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance…”  Romans 5:3

Consider and pray for one another.  Bless one another with kindness and a helping hand as the Lord intends for us to do!  But remember, Jesus didn’t heal everyone.  He used wisdom and did not give beyond his jurisdiction to give.  To rescue others from something they are meant to go through is stepping out of our bounds.  Only God can rescue and when He does it will be through whom He chooses and through His love.  “Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love. Psalm 44:26”

 

Let’s let go of the drama.

*Ashly P Ash

Explosive Alert!

One of the things I hope to do on this site is smile about some of the things that have happened to me and are unique to my situation as an amputee.

My husband and I were in the Philadelphia airport en-route to Seattle.  Now anyone familiar with prosthetics would be well aware that airport security is one of the most difficult parts of traveling!  On an easy day you get a wand, a pat-down personal enough to make your father blush (his words not mine!) and will be sent on your way with an apologetic smile. On this particular day, however, I was asked to enter the 3D scanner with my prosthesis.  I bravely entered with both hands above my head and a queasy-but-knowing smile.  My crutches were taken from me and scanned as well.

After coming through I was then “wanded”.  (I just want to stop and say here that if security personnel are given wands they should at least add a little “bippity boppity boo” song during the process for victimized patrons as myself!  A little bit of something to make me feel a less in touch with reality would be great.)  Anyway, they asked me to lift my shirt a tad so that they could swab my prosthesis for explosives.  I chuckled and obliged without hesitation.

The next thing I knew there was an “EXPLOSIVE ALERT” on the screen in front of me and I was being rushed off in quarantine to a small private room.  I jokingly told the security officer, “No worries, I wasn’t playing with fireworks”.  But she didn’t think that was funny.  I could tell by her curt, “Ma’am, I would advise you say as little as possible right now” accompanied by a brief pat on the shoulder that summed up her expression of “good luck”.

After further discussion including an argument over whether it was really necessary to make me pull my pants down any further or to take my leg from me to scan it or take it apart they decided to let me go.  Their justification for this was, “Those pants can’t get much tighter, I don’t think there is anything hiding here.”  (Yes, I should have been horrified as I stood silently wanting to remind them that I could still hear them but honestly I couldn’t have been happier at that moment to be free!  Regardless of criticism, insult, or bruised ego I was about to be free!)

One final swab of my clothes, crutches, and shoes and I was returned intact to my family. In the midst of this I realized WHY I tested positive for explosives.  A few weeks prior to our trip I had purchased a .22 Rifle for my husband as a birthday gift.  We had been shooting targets in the woods behind our house and when I came in to remove my prosthesis I must have had residue from the bullets on my fingers! As I bounced lightly the rest of the way to gate A2 I realized somehow I forgot to remove the pocket knife from my purse.  But oh well, at least they found the explosives!

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*Ashly P Ash

Woman of the Mundane

Ashly P Ash

This is a humorous poem about waiting for things…

Woman of the Mundane

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As I perform the tasks of each day

I seriously wonder if I’m headed the right way

Is there a purpose in all things mundane

Or am I driving myself insane

I wonder what outcome the average day will have

During my evening prayers and applying salve

To shine, to preach, to share God’s Grace

When I don’t even have a child in this place

Wondering as I wonder down grocery store aisles

Or even when sorting through dirty laundry piles

I long to reach out and touch the masses

Right after next week cleaning passes

Preparation for greatness is what I am told

But I hope it comes before I’m too old

I try to be like the woman in Proverbs 31

But surely she had to long for some fun

I’m ready to conquer and ready to bless

Soon, I know it will start right after this test

Resting and believing in every day scrubbing

Why this is the most basic act of loving

*Ashly P Ash

Tears in a Bottle

Ashly P Ash

As a woman that has struggled to have children, a poem about this desire.

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Tears in a bottle

There are bottles on heaven’s shelf
holding my tears and wishes for you
someday soon I know I’ll hold you close
at least for now I’ll loudly boast
All in my bottle on heaven’s shelf

Never! the voices inside me speak
but my heart and soul cry out to heaven
to drop a bundle of joy out of the sky
so that I can experience a lullaby
All in my bottle on heaven’s shelf

Each tear is gathered from angels above
Moment by moment I know what I would share
I would pour into you the lessons of life
Promise the lord will be with you each strife
All in my bottle on heaven’s shelf

I dare to hope boldly before the throne
Abandoned to the King void of all pride
casting away the crown of dignity
give me this one to love infinitely
All in my bottle on heaven’s shelf

And deep in the nighttime nursing alone
enveloped in darkness and candlelight
I’ll sing of the goodness of He who made thee
my inheritance rock-a-bye baby indeed
All in my bottle on heaven’s shelf

The sacrifice of body and soul and mind
to push each generation on past mine
the love and laughter of a family
to leave some sort of good legacy
All in my bottle on heaven’s shelf

A little pearl presented as rare
formed layer by layer from mother’s trials
known to become the rarest of gems
worth diving deep for a glimpse of them
All in my bottle on heaven’s shelf

*Ashly P Ash

To See and Be Seen…A Journey of Intimacy

This is a bible study to take a deeper look at being known by God and knowing God.  Intimacy begins with Him and the realization that He knows and loves us!
*Ashly P Ash

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Read Psalm 139:1-6

 God is Omniscient/All-Knowing!

How well does God know you?

What aspects of the Psalmist’s life does God know?


 Is God’s knowledge of you comforting or intimidating?  How so?

Psalm 139:7-12

 God is Omnipresent/Everywhere

Consider people who have tried to hide from God (Gen 3:8-10 Adam & Eve, Jonah 1:1-3); why did these people try to hide?  Did it work? What was God’s response to them? 

 

Have you ever tried to run from God or hide something from Him? Have you ever tried to hide from yourself?  Because if we can’t hide from God that means we also cannot hide from ourselves…


Is there an area in your life that is in darkness that you need to bring to God, ask for forgiveness, and allow His light to shine into? 

Psalm 139:13-18

God is Omnipotent/All powerful!

What does God’s intimate knowledge say about God’s purpose for each of us?

 

How does the Psalmist respond to God’s intimate knowledge of his life?

 

While God has planned our days we have a choice!  Is there a way you may have strayed from a part of God’s plan for your life?  Is there a purpose that you have not yet fulfilled, forgotten that it was a goal to move towards?  Is there an area of your life which you are not following God’s plan? 

 

List a few simple ways (consider WWJD) to get “back on track” with God’s plan:

Psalm 139:19-24

 “The Psalmist aligns himself with God by counting those who hate God as enemies.  How do you respond to people who speak against God?” (Bible Study Magazine May/June Issue)

The Psalmist closes by inviting God to examine him for any offensive ways.  Do you intentionally ask God on a regular basis to examine your heart like this?

Take a moment to ask God this question:  Lord, examine my heart.  Is there any way, action, thing, that is a part of my life that is offensive to you? 

Let’s take a moment to stop and pray.  Anything that the Lord shows you jot down below.  You may share this for prayer at the end or you may keep this between you and the Lord.

Luke 12:22-28

                 God knows what we need before we even ask!  (Mt 6:8)

                 God knows everything about us and always has yet He STILL declares us valuable!

 Thought for Closing:  We know that God knows every intimate detail about us!  He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent!  How much time do we spend in our prayer life and relationship getting to know Him better?  He knows all about us, how much do we know about Him through the Holy Spirit?!

 CHALLENGE:  EXAMINE MY HEART, LORD! 

 Souces: Bible Study Magazine, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, Zondervan Bible Commentary

The 1st and Greatest Commandment

This Bible study is about Loving God first and foremost in our life!   When our life is in bunches we can only choose to love and worship one thing at a time!  Make God a priority!
*Ashly P Ash

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Read Exodus 32: 1-30

 –          When did the Israelite’s decide to build an idol?

 –          Think of idols that may arise in your life, or things you may struggle with/against.  Are they linked at the root to a time you felt God delayed?  (Delayed in answering a need, a fear, or a time you felt utterly alone in a certain area?)

 –          Note in V. 2. when creating an idol it TAKES AWAY from us!  It does not ever add to our life or give us what we think it can!  What idols can we face today, and what do we think they can do for us vs. what they actually do?

 

IDOL                                            LIE WE BELIEVE                             TRUTH

1. Ex. Money above God                  Security                                                Worry, Fatigue, Anxiety

2.

3.

4.

 –          V. 5 – Sometimes when we realize we are doing something wrong we will try to justify it by twisting the truth.  Using the examples above what are some ways that we can in our mind try to justify using them as idols?   

IDOL                                            LIE WE BELIEVE                             TRUTH

1.  Ex. Money above God     God wants me to provide                God is our provider

2.

3.

4.

 –          What was Moses’ response to God’s wrath and desire to destroy the Israelites?

 –          God promised to make Moses a great nation after he destroyed the Israelites, what words describe Moses’ rejection of this plan?

 –          Do you think Jesus intercedes in this way for us?  (Think of Him being tempted in the wilderness and offered all the kingdoms by Satan, yet He refused!)

 –          Do we intercede for others in this way, placing their good before our own (in love)?

 (CRefrence Note:  Numbers 5:11-31 an unfaithful wife is made to drink dust, Zondervan Bible Commentary links these together with the picture being the Israelites were like the unfaithful wife and made to drink the dust of their idol…)

 –          When Aaron is confronted by Moses how does he respond?  When God confronts us with something how do we respond?  (Think of Psalm 139, we cannot hide from ourselves or from God!)

 –          Just as Moses drew a line for those on the Lord’s side, Jesus also drew a line asking who was on Mercy’s side?  How does it feel to know that we are on the Mercy “side of the line” because Jesus went and made atonement for us and not by anything that we could do?

 WHAT IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT THE NEW TESTAMENT SAYS ABOUT IDOLS?

                Colossians 3:4-14 – “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

  • (Dictionary Note: Scythian = Savage/Barbarian)

–          Do these verses describe some changes you have made in your life?

 –          How do we put off the “old self” and put on the “new self”?

Matthew 22:34-40 – “34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

–          What idols have we made in our life? 

–          What attitudes or mindsets do we have that are not subjected to God? 

–          Is there anything we place above God?


CHALLENGE:  Ask God to show you any areas of faulty thinking.  Allow Him to show you where it stems from that you may seek forgiveness but also receive guidance from the Holy Spirit to “rewire” a new and holy thought process and attitude towards the situation.

Focus on Dancing

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

I often get a lot of questions from people in regards to happiness.  I tend to be a very happy and upbeat person most of the time. I’m sure my family has seen the darker side of my struggles as I muddle through difficult times; but in general, within a few hours of tragedy I have handed it to Jesus and allow him to turn it into a triumph.  My life hasn’t been an easy one and the fact that I lost my right leg to cancer at the age of four certainly makes for an obvious “question mark” as I walk about smiling despite the obvious tragedy that has befallen me.  Some people think that I am happy because I lost my leg at a young age and therefore grew up knowing no other way of life. While that certainly would be ideal I can honestly say nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, growing up without a leg means missing out on much of what other children and adolescents experience.  The difficulty performing every day tasks certainly doesn’t set up parameters for a happy life.  Neither does the blatant reminder every step I take that I am not “normal” or even capable of doing things such as carrying my own beverage without assistance or devices of some sort. (Jeremiah 31:13) So the question usually remains, “You have one foot in the grave, quite literally, and are still not bitter?!”

Let’s first take a bit of a journey into my everyday mindset.  My husband and I recently took a trip to Alaska.  We stood before glaciers in awe and filled with wonder as hundreds of waterfalls cascaded down the mountains around us.  As our ship sailed through the bay sea otters and bald eagles floated past us on icebergs.  Orcas and humpback whales were everywhere as they surfaced.  Dolphins followed our ship and schools of salmon raced for river mouths in order to spawn. We hiked on a mountain top and watched the morning dew drip from the grass and leaves.  The fog lifted slowly and revealed to us the surrounding valleys and river that the Gold Rush started in!  In short, we realized exactly how insignificant we are in the great scheme of the created world.  (Psalm 24:1)

Our God is so magnificent and amazing that while I stood on the mountain with my hands and heart raised to Him not a single person in the entire city below could see me I was so far away.  Yet there I stood with the God of all creation watching and even caring about my small gesture of worship!  (Matthew 6:18) I realized how busy God must be maintaining all of His creation and He cared about me in such a microscopic way during that hike.  I felt such a peace in my heart and body as the trail was rough and the prosthetic leg started to rub me in all the wrong places.  The Lord cared even for my pain and nudged me towards resting places and gave me the strength to go on.  Small sights of beauty seemed to throw themselves in my path to give me a moment of pleasure as I pressed onward.  I realized more clearly than ever that I am not simply an error or screw up because of having one leg; I am a part of this great creation!  Not as a “survivor”, not as a “one-legged girl” (AKA Pirate), but rather a uniquely created human being with a purpose in this world only I can fill.  I am not accepted in spite of my disability, but because of who I am through my disability.  The God of this entire earth not only cares about me but sent His son to die that I might live life fully and enjoy it. (Jeremiah 1:5, Job 33:28)

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It is so easy to be joyful when we are surrounded by the grandeur of nature or being waited on hand and foot in a dining room.  But you know the thing that impressed me the most was after we returned home.  With the house freshly cleaned I stood in the kitchen working on the first meal since our return.  I stood over my great grandmother’s cast iron pans and looked around.  I saw the remains of our fruitful garden from the kitchen window, the coziness of fall decorations scattered about my home, the dogs laying expectantly at the very edge of the kitchen in hopes for a call or a crumb…and I realized I felt the very same feeling that I felt when standing before the glacier.  I was in awe.  In awe of a God that would bless me with so much in such small ways!  In awe that no matter what the circumstances are I have the peace and joy of the Lord within me!

Why am I full of joy?  Why am I always smiling despite being thrown under a train from the age of four?  Because I decided along the way that God would captain that train and I wouldn’t be crushed but I would be a co-captain!  (Romans 12) Jesus died for me to have a purpose and to fill the one spot in the Body of Christ that no one else can fill (two legs, no legs, survivor or celebrity); only I can fill the place designed for me.  As I grow older I realize that because of this I can accept my past, present, and future without worry or fear, and along the way encourage others with the simplest act of my present smile despite past pain.

Happiness, I believe, is dependent upon circumstances.  Things make us happy, people make us happy, and situations make us happy.  But joy flows from within.  It springs forth from inside of us because it is a fruit of the Spirit.  No matter the circumstance, no matter the situation we can live in a state of joy.  (Zech 2:10) Not because of denying the circumstances but because we know our life is surrendered to the God of all creation and He alone is in charge of the outcome.  He alone will work every evil thing that has happened to us in our life for good. (Rom 8:28) It is awful to see people suffer from so many things that they didn’t deserve.  Traumas, handicaps, abuse, etc. are rampant in our world today but I know in my heart that while God didn’t intend for these things to happen to us He will make our paths so straight that when we finish the race of life our outcome will be supernaturally better than it ever could have been had we remained untainted.  (Prov 4:11) How is this possible?  Because our God is the creator and He will create a beautiful journey and polish a shining finish brighter than we can imagine!

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Instead of focusing on the fact that I have one foot in the grave I choose to focus on the fact that I have one foot in the future!  As long as I remember I have always wanted to dance and I believe I am whole in Christ and will one day dance before Him!  (Psalm 30:11) So I ask you to smile with me, express the joy that is within you and let go of your circumstances.  Be blessed and focus on every good thing so that you too may bless others.  Let’s dance together through the finish line!

“I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”(Acts 20:24)

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” (Psalm 126:2)

*Ashly P Ash