A Rough Work in Progress

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I’m so thankful that the Lord is patient with me! The past few months there have been good reasons not to write here in my blog, but not REALLY good reasons. My digestive issues flared up again, along with my depression and occasional anxiety. Thankfully I’m much better now, with a steady vitamin regiment, taking lots of strolls in the sunshine, and getting appropriate rest. The spring blooms are once again popping here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. It’s such a blessing to live here.

I’m also continually grateful for my family and friends, who have encouraged, supported and challenged me, especially over the past four years. I’m especially thankful for a dear couple from my church who walked with me in the frustrating years leading up to what finally ended in my divorce. At their invitation and in God’s perfect timing, I began and continue to serve alongside them at Simonka women and children’s shelter, helping to lead chapel time three times a month. Ministering to others and sharing my story has strengthened my faith, increased my confidence, and has been a healing balm to my heart.

Last Sunday, the message theme for chapel was about how God uses circumstances to smooth out our rough edges, much like river rocks are smoothed by the rushing water and the silt and sediment in it. Reflecting on how the Lord has worked in me to smooth out some of my edges, I wrote and shared this new poem:

“Go With His Flow”

Thinking back over these past few years,
I’m filled with awesome wonder to see
how the Lord worked during pain and tears
to refine and slowly reshape me.
Like a rock in a river or stream,
the current of life swiftly flows;
Below the water’s surface gleam,
there’s a spiritual undertow.
Troubles, like sediment and sand,
scraped along this jagged stone,
teaching me to trust and understand
who I am and that I’m not alone.
Through our struggles, God can soften
the edges of self-doubt and fear;
He’s who I must cling to most often
whether the water’s silty or clear.
For I have the choice every day:
Either bitterly complain and frown,
or trust God, asking how His way
will smooth my rough edges down.
In rushing rapids or gentle flow,
when I surrender to His correction,
worn but not weary, I joyfully grow.
I’d be up a creek without His direction!
Through troubled water, God wears away
those things that only cause more sorrow,
giving me strength and hope that I may
go with His flow better tomorrow!

©Ladeena Ashley

Last week marked a year since the divorce papers were signed. I still catch myself marveling that I’m on my own. Only I’m not. Jesus has faithfully walked beside me every step of the way. Jesus ROCKS! The more I stay focused on Him, the Spirit lifts me up, giving me a thousand reasons to smile. It gets a bit easier every day.

I’m trusting that He will continue smoothing out my rough edges so that I will more easily follow His leading, and be the loving, faithful disciple He calls me to be. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

We’re all rough works in progress. As it’s been said, Jesus loves you the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there. As I pray for myself, I pray for you: that you will surrender to God’s flow and let Him work in you. Don’t be up a creek without Jesus!

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Ashley
All rights reserved (blog content and photos)

Blooming Boundaries



Last night my friend’s message at Simonka Place was about boundaries. None of the poems I’d composed before seemed to fit quite right. So, once again an 11th hour poet, after work I sat in my car and wrote a new poem. I finished the first draft and scurried to the homeless shelter, sharing my newest creation with the ladies about 10-12 minutes later. God is good!
After some further editing today, here’s the poem:


It’s far too easy to lose your voice
when people-pleasing is a knee-jerk choice.
Instead, identity in Christ my King,
I have strength to overcome anything!
Though I’m not perfect, I’m so much better:
Bolder overall – more of a go-getter!
I’m so blessed a new “me” has bloomed,
dispelling the fears that had me entombed.
More sense of self than ever before:
If limits are exceeded, I use the door
to walk out or show it to another –
loving myself, not appeasing my brother.
Thankful that God has taught me to live
more intentionally, my all to give
to Him, in surrender, so I could see
each pitfall and needed boundary.
Stepping forward, then edging back,
trusting Him for the words I lack.
Knowing when to let go and when to stay.
What to allow, and what I should say.
Not automatic, but filled with power
relying on God’s wisdom each hour.
More of a holy dance than a tightrope,
for Christ set me free and gave me hope!
He will ever lead as I seek His face,
navigating boundaries by His love and grace.

©Ladeena Ashley

My poem focused mainly on boundaries in relationships, however in his message my friend spoke of boundaries across many facets of life. The part that hit home with me was in the area of self-care. Taking care of myself has always been something I “should do”, a basic priority of life. (In my mind, boundaries are mostly outward while priorities are inward.) I called it self-discipline, but I didn’t consciously sub-define it as using boundaries within myself. Yet that is so true.

The recurring verse my friend used was: “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23). We all have choices but don’t always make the best ones for ourselves, and by extension, for others.

My main struggle is getting enough sleep. I am a night owl, and have been for as long as I can remember. However, the last few weeks I’ve found myself staying up even later than normal, and it’s beginning to catch up with me.

Alone time is important to me, and I do need some time to unwind if I’ve had an especially hard day or to process things after a tough conversation. Yet often I’ll stay awake for unimportant reasons, usually ending up looking at a screen of some sort. Honestly, I hate to admit it, but at times lately I’ve felt so overwhelmed. So tired but not wanting to hit the hay because then morning soon comes and I have to do it all over again. I get stuck in my own head, right where the enemy wants me. No one deals as well with anxiety and the everyday stresses of life when their resources are depleted. It’s a vicious cycle.

Yet this is the opposite of how God calls me to be. Through Christ I am more than a conqueror! (Romans 8:37) God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Instead of avoiding the morning, I must pray, leave my troubles in God’s hands and most importantly, not take them back! Only after a full night’s rest can I hope to awaken refreshed and excited about the possibilities and blessings of a new day. I need better boundaries to stay out of an unhealthy rut.

One point my friend made that struck me last night was: How can I be there for others if I have barely enough energy to function myself? I can’t. Jesus set the example for us by napping when needed, and going off by Himself when the crowds got to be too much. Even God rested on the seventh day once He’d finished creating the cosmos.

We all need to take time to recharge, but there are limits and healthy ways to do it. The Lord has helped me set outward boundaries, and now it’s time to tackle and refine more inward ones. I’m glad He’s not through with me yet!

He’s not through with you, either. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). What boundaries do you need to set or adjust? Seek His guidance through prayer and His Word (and perhaps even some counsel of godly friends), and He’ll help you figure out what is both permissible and beneficial.

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Ashley
2018 All Rights Reserved (Blog content and photos)

You Are LOVED!

We all get down at times. However, when life pulls you down so far that it’s a challenge or even seems impossible to get back up, you must reach out to others for help. It is awkward and scary. For some it could mean the difference between life and death.

Suicide Awareness

You may have heard that today, September 10, 2016, is Suicide Prevention Day, on both World and National levels. There are many sources for guidance out there, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I recommend that everyone take the time to read the information and resources on their website, and by all means, please share their number (1-800-273-TALK) with anyone who may be at risk.

Sadness: No One Is Immune

Like many folks, I’m no stranger to seasons of sadness and even mild forms of depression. Just two years ago, and about this time, I was super depressed and down on myself, mostly as a result of the hurt and negativity that rubbed off of a person close to me. After church one Sunday (yes, depression can happen there too!), while agonizing about staying for a barbecue, a friend mistook my indecision for simple exhaustion, joking that maybe I needed a truck to carry me to the potluck. I responded by saying that a truck would be nice; it could just run me over and put me out of my misery. Whoa. Normally I’d quickly dismiss such morbid thoughts (if I had them) before they ever made it out of my mouth, but those words tumbled out so easily that it surprised me. I realized in that instant that things were beyond what I alone could handle. After furtive prayers and no small amount of internal struggle, I sought the wise, loving and godly counsel of a couple at my church. Thankfully, it didn’t take terribly long to recover, because I made a conscious effort to go “all in” with them and with God, trusting them to guide me.

However, some wounds cut wide and deep; the pain extensive and much more difficult to heal. Emotional scars are the worst — without a doubt, the loss of self-worth is more devastating than even the physical pain of abuse. Many in such extreme need simply lack the resources, self-awareness and the incredible courage to speak up and take that first step toward healing. Sadly, most may not even feel they deserve it. Seen from a spiritual standpoint, it’s obvious that the enemy uses depression and the confusion of discord to hold souls captive, all the while convincing them that no one cares (1 Peter 5:8). Worse yet, the people around them may not recognize the warning signs, or are too uncomfortable to get involved. So don’t be afraid to ask if anyone you meet seems “down”. Perhaps you aren’t equipped to help, but you can bring in others who can come alongside them.

The Greatest Counselor

In problems great or small, God, through the Holy Spirit, is the greatest Counselor (John 14:16). At those times when the weight is too heavy, and we can’t even find the words to pray, the Spirit prays on our behalf (Romans 8:26)! When we seek His counsel, holding nothing back, we’ll always find hope, strength and more love than any human heart can possibly contain!

Several years ago, God inspired me to pen this piece of encouragement that helped me though a bad day. Please feel free to pass it along to anyone who may be having a difficult time and who could use a little extra lift in a positive direction!

“In the Lord”

When you are tired and weary,
REST in the Lord.
When you feel you can’t go on,
LEAN on the Lord.
When troubles weigh you down,
TAKE JOY in the Lord.
When all would seem to be lost,
TRUST in the Lord.
When others put you down,
When loneliness overwhelms you,
When everything goes wrong,
Whenever you feel discouraged,
taken advantage of,
shut out,
KNOW, in the Lord’s kingdom,

© Ladeena Ashley

Extra Credit (to the Lord!)

While composing this post, an awesome song was playing in my head. It lifts me up every time I hear it. Here’s the link: You Are Loved – by Stars Go Dim
Blessings to you, this day and always!

© Ladeena Ashley
2016 All Rights Reserved (blog content & photos)