Called To Greatness

Did you know you are called to greatness? Have you ever felt like there is more to this life than what is going on now? I believe that we are all called to greatness and to do extraordinary things in this world.

To better understand what greatness means, I Googled the word ‘greatness’ to see what the definition would be. That’s right, I used Google…because you know, Google knows everything! The word greatness means: the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent. To break it down further, the word distinguished means to be successful and great respect, while eminent means being famous or respected, the presence of a positive quality. God can use us in extraordinary ways. I am not saying to try to be famous, but we should have a positive quality about us that people see Jesus and see His goodness. But, never sell yourself short. God can use you in extraordinary ways. I believe God wants to use His children in great ways. Why? Because He loves us and wants the world to see His goodness through us.

However, never allow doubt, fear, or inadequacy stop you from fulfilling the purpose God has for your life. You may feel like you are inadequate or can’t be a world changer. You may feel like your past is hindering you from moving forward or you may be thinking, “How can God use me?” But, this I know, God doesn’t remind you of your past; rather, He reminds you of your future. God likes to take the ordinary and turn them into extraordinary. He uses the ordinary in extraordinary ways. The Bible is full of examples. Take Moses for an example. In Exodus 3-4, Moses was tending flock and led the flock to the back of the dessert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. An angel appeared before him, and behold, a bush was in flames but not consumed. The Lord spoke to Moses and called him to lead His people (the Israelites) out of Egypt. God showed Moses various signs and reassured Moses that He would be with him as he spoke to Pharaoh (ruler of Egypt). However, Moses tried to make excuses as to why he couldn’t talk to Pharaoh. He felt like his speech wasn’t good enough. Even though God told Moses He would be with him, Moses still felt inadequate. In Exodus 4:10 [NKJV], it says, “Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but, I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”” God reassured Moses by saying (in verse 11 & 12), “…Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

Never doubt your abilities. God showed Moses His power, and used Moses in significant ways. What God did for him, He can do for you. With God on your side, who can stop you? God will help strengthen your abilities and will not give you more than you can handle. Expect God to do great things in your life. You are destined for greatness. 1 Corinthians 2:9 [NKJV] says, “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Philippians 1:6 [NKJV] says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

God has an amazing purpose for your life, what He started in you, He will complete. People may not understand and may be jealous of where you are headed. There may be people or friends in your life who may try to bring you down to their level. There may be some naysayers who will use their words to bring discouragement and bully. But, always remember this, God holds your destiny. Don’t allow what people say or do stop you from moving forward. You are a blessing looking for an opportunity. God’s favor surrounds you like a shield according to Psalm 5:12. My grandpa (who was a pastor) taught me from a young age that when saying my morning prayers, declare that I would not let people, things, circumstances, or worry rob me of my joy that day. Same for you, don’t allow people, things, circumstances, or worry rob you of your joy today! You are called to greatness! Let your words and actions show it. Instead of making excuses like Moses, know you are able to accomplish what is before you. It is in our weaknesses God is made strong. Instead of walking around all doom and gloom, walk confidently and victoriously, for you are a King’s kid!

You are Called To Greatness.

 

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The Desire’s of Our Heart

How often do you hear people say that God will give you the desires of your heart? I hear that all the time, especially from Christians. In fact, I even tweet that!! I truly believe that God gives us the desires of our heart. I believe He can place those desires and dreams in our heart as He directs us into the purpose and calling He has for our lives. I mean, the Bible even says He will do it! Psalm 37: 4 [NKJV] says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” However, have you ever followed through and read the verse after? So often, people just stop at verse 4 and don’t follow through.

There are two things that Psalm 37:5 says that we should do in order for God to bring it to pass. 1. Commit our way to Him and 2. Trust in Him. Psalm 37:5 [NKJV] says, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” To fully understand this verse more, I looked up the word commit and trust.

1. Commit:

According to Webster’s dictionary, commit means: to put in charge or trust; entrust. To break it down further, the word entrust means: to confer a trust on; to commit to another with confidence.

As someone who likes to plan things and be in control of my plans, I learned last year that is not always great. I had to learn that it is not my ways but God’s ways. I learned I had to let go of my plans that I was holding on to so tightly and let God be in control. I committed my way to the Lord. By saying, “Lord not my will but Your will,” oh my goodness, are His ways BETTER than my ways. What we think is good, God has something greater! I have always been a Christ follower and trusted the Lord to direct my steps. But, last year it really hit home the importance of letting God be in control. He will not take you places that you do not need to be. He will not give you more than you can handle. He will not set you up to fail. Instead, He wants what is best for you. He wants to bless you and for you to experience His goodness. He sets you on the path of righteousness. He directs your steps. God is not a mean God…He is just, faithful, and true. He has your best interest in mind. Believe me, if you thought your plans/ways were great…God’s plans/ways are even better!

2. Trust:

According to Webster’s dictionary, trust means: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or trust of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed; dependence on something future or contingent: HOPE

“…trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” What are your desires? What do you hope to accomplish with your life? What are your dreams? Trust the Lord that He will bring it pass. Trust in Him! Praying for something and then doubting it will come to pass is not trusting the Lord. Sometimes, it can be hard to trust. Especially if you have been hurt by others, it can be hard to trust other people. However, like I mentioned above, God will not set you up to fail. He has your best interest in mind. People will fail you but God will NEVER fail you. He loves you so much and has given you a future and a hope. He loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die for you and take away your sins (John 3:16). God Almighty, the one who placed the stars in the sky, caused the planets to turn, who formed you in your mother’s womb…how can you not trust Him?

Commit your ways to the Lord, and trust, place hope and your confidence in Him. Believe and expect God to give you the desires of your heart. Expect God to do exceedingly and abundantly above ALL that you could think or imagine according Ephesians 3:20. God has an incredible purpose for your life. Whatever you are praying for, know that God hears your prayers. Never cease to dream big and expect God to do great things in your life.

I believe, the greatest hindrance to our desires/dreams, is putting our trust in people rather than God and accepting their words over His. God can place desires and dreams in your heart, but will you allow other’s to squander and squash it? When you are focused on God and what He has placed in your heart, rise above people’s negative comments and insecurities. Choose to believe what God says about you.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” –Psalm 37:4-5

 

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For You Graduates

May is the time for graduation. Graduating from high school and college is a huge accomplishment. For you graduating seniors (whether high school or college), you should be so proud of yourself and you should give yourself a pat on the back right now. That’s right, go ahead, take a moment and pat yourself on the back. You did it!

However, after graduation, your life changes. Whether you just graduated from high school, you are preparing yourself for your next journey…college! Whether you just graduated from college, you are preparing yourself for your next journey…life! Graduating from college is a huge milestone but with it comes challenges as you try to figure out your career, your purpose…your life!

Therefore, I want to share with you all some valuable lessons that I learned when I graduated both high school and college.

1. You Have A Purpose

When I graduated from high school, I had a general idea of where I was going to college. But, as time began to crunch, I had to make a decision on what college to attend. When I arrived on campus and my parents helped me to move into my dorm, oh my goodness…was I scared! I knew God was with me, but as an only child, I am very close to my parents. Especially my mom, we are so close like Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. I wasn’t ready to leave them and live 7 hours away. The first two weeks of school was a challenge because I was absolutely homesick. However, I knew I was there for a reason and I chose to look forward for what God had in store. I knew that I have a purpose. Through the ups and downs, I managed to persevere, had amazing professors, met amazing people, and graduated Magna Cum Laude (honors) from college.

After I graduated from college last year, not going to lie….it was hard! I moved back to Texas to live with my parents so I can save my money to pay back my student loans. However, moving back to DFW, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find a job. I sent out numerous resumes and filled out applications, but nothing was opening up. From August to December, I did not have one interview. I didn’t even receive one “Dear Ashley…Thank you for your interest, unfortunately…” letters. During August through December, it was faith building time in my life. I really had to let go of my plans and say, “God not my will be done, but Your Will be done” and rely on Him. Constantly, I was reminded of Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.” I remained hopeful that God would bring the desires of my heart to pass in His timing. There are still things I am hoping for, but thankfully I found a job in January of 2014. God is slowly yet surely answering my prayers. His timing is perfect!

For you high school graduates and college graduates, don’t get discouraged if your plans fall through. Know that God is working behind the scenes on your behalf. When you feel like life is overwhelming or things are not opening up, remember that you have a purpose. You have hope and a future, Jeremiah 29:11. Don’t get discouraged, but trust that God is perfecting those things that concern you according to Psalm 138:8.

2. Dream Big

When I arrived at college, I had huge dreams. Big dreams actually, that seemed more unrealistic. I was very ambitious when I was in college. I wanted to be a communication consultant, public speaker, a powerful attorney, campaign speech writer, and a United States Senator representing Texas. However, as senior year approached, never would I have thought that I would have been an author. My plans and desires changed. Proverbs 19:21 [NIV] says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I wanted (and still do) be a public speaker, write more books, and encourage teens who they are in Christ. My heart’s desire is no longer about me, but sharing faith, hope, and love to those dealing with bullying. I know what bullying feels like and thankfully I overcame with God’s help. That is why I wrote “Bullied Yet Victorious: How I Overcame Fear with Faith” which was released nationally on July 23, 2013. My passion is to share with teens that they can overcome bullying; but, more importantly the power of perseverance-to keep going and not give up. One of the greatest lessons I learned is that it doesn’t matter what people say about me; what matters is what God says about me. That is what I want to share with teens. They are overcomers! They are victorious!

These passions, desires, dreams that I have seem so huge…but I serve a big God! What seems impossible to us, is possible for Him. Matthew 19:26 [NKJV] says, “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”” Don’t give up on dreaming big, but be willing for your dreams to change. You never know, God could change your dreams where they glorify Him rather than yourself. Be open for change, but continue to expect great things to happen in your life. Continue to dream big! If someone has told you can’t do it or you can’t achieve anything…know this, you can! With God, all things are possible. Don’t dream small dreams hoping that maybe God will bring them to pass because they are small…no, dream big! You have a purpose and you are here on this earth for such a time as this. Expect good things to happen in your life.

3. Prepare Yourself

In high school, I had to prepare myself for college. How? I had to study hard, maintain good grades, and study for the SAT and ACT exams. In college, I had to prepare myself for the future. How? By studying hard, learning all I could, internships, building my resume, and learning time management. However, the desires I have…speaking at churches, schools, youth groups, FCA, youth conferences…I need to prepare myself. How? By creating notes, PowerPoints, Prezi, reaching out to ministries/organizations/churches regarding speaking, and building myself up spiritually. More importantly, I am learning to trust God to open doors of opportunity as I continue to knock on doors.

In 2 Timothy 4:2 [NKJV], it says to be “…ready in season and out of season…” In 1 Peter 3:15, it says to be “…ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” Prepare yourselves in season and out of season. Don’t despise having time off before you start your next journey, rather embrace it and use that time to prepare yourself. Prepare yourself for the dreams you want to accomplish. Prepare yourself spiritually as well by getting into God’s Word, spending time with Him, praying, and listening…learning to hear His voice.

4. Keep the Faith

Whether you are entering college or leaving college, know that what lies before you are challenges. You will face roadblocks. But, you know what? Keep the faith! No matter what lies ahead, always remember that God is for you not against you. Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?””  When you reach the moment where you want to quit…keep going. Don’t give up, but continue to run the race that is before you. God has an incredible purpose for your life. You don’t have to have everything figured out at this moment, but know that God is directing your steps. Psalm 37:23 [NKJV] says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” Remain encouraged and not discouraged, everything will be alright. When circumstances surround you, always remember that God will bring you through victoriously. Keep the Faith!

For You Graduates, congratulations on your big accomplishment and remember, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13). Your journey is just beginning and God has amazing things in store for you!

 

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Not My Ways, but His!

I know that I have not blogged in…well, a long time! I have a couple blogs floating around in cyber space, but it is time that I pick it back up. So, today I am choosing to start blogging again. Hello world, I am back!!

This blog is about something I have faced over the past few months and something that I have learned to appreciate. For those of you who are in the same boat as me, I hope my blog encourages you. Even if you haven’t dealt with this, I still hope you find it encouraging.

The past few months have been a challenging season in my life. However, without seasons of testing, enduring, persevering…how then is character built? How is faith grown? Seven months ago I graduated from college (majored in Communication & Government) and my book “Bullied yet Victorious” was released nationally in July of 2013. Before walking the stage at graduation, I had my life planned out. Honestly, they were ambitious goals rather than reality. I am a planner and a visionary person; so, naturally, I focus way too much on the future rather than the present. My plan was to have a job by the middle of August, my book would become a successful hit, I would meet the Godly man God has for me by October, and I would be on my way to being a successful career woman. Sounds like a great plan, right?

Boy, was my plan WRONG! After graduating from college, I enjoyed the time off during the summer. I was able to regroup and relax from the hectic college schedule that I endured for four years. First of August, I began the job search process. In August, I also contacted various ministries, Christian organizations, and churches informing them about my book. I also inquired about the requirements to speak at their youth groups. Since I want to be a full time motivational speaker, I also contacted professional speakers asking them how they started speaking. My book is about the bullying experiences I went through, but how God helped me to overcome. My heart is to share with my generation and the next that bullies don’t define their future, God does. They are created for a purpose according to Jeremiah 29:11 and wonderfully made according to Psalm 139. My heart is to encourage my generation (and the next) to be leaders and be all God created them to be. We are placed on this earth for such a time as this.

Days and weeks went by with no response from media, ministries, Christian organizations, and churches. Thankfully, the speakers I contacted responded back to me and shared with me how they got started. But churches? Pastors that preached from the pulpit that it is time for young people to rise up and reach out to this generation, being bold for Christ…couldn’t even help me! I received letters from ministries that said, “That is great what the Lord is doing but we have to decline from accepting your book…” or “We are excited for what God is doing, however we cannot help you…” or “Keep up the good work. We are excited for what God is doing in your life and that you overcame bullying. Unfortunately, we did not choose you to be on our program.” There were pastors that I gave my book to, who told me they were interested; yet, when I followed up with them, they treated me like an outcast. They totally dissed me. Very Christ like don’t you think? Days of rejection or flat out no response at all was overwhelming. As far as the job search, I have applied to several positions and have kept my eyes open for leads; but, have received no response.

So, here I am today-a college grad with no job, student loans approaching, single, and my book has not taken off. Sounds like I should be depressed right now, sitting in sweats, eating a tub of ice cream, and watching television all day-sulking in the fact my plan did not come together.

But, let me tell you, through all of this I have chosen to look at the beauty of this season in my life. I don’t sit around sulking. No, I choose to continue to dream big and know God is in control of my future. The beauty in this season is realizing my plans are not God’s plans, nor are my ways His ways. For that, I am so thankful. God’s plans are way better than mine, and I am glad that my plans fell through because that means God has even greater things instore for my future. Isaiah 55:8 says, “”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.” God knew where I was going to be at in life before I even approached this season. If anything, this has caused me to let go of what I was controlling like my desires, dreams, and plans. Rather, I had to come to that moment of realizing, “God, not my will but your will be done.” God knew all about the job search process before it even came to be. I choose to believe that I have a purpose in this life according to Jeremiah 29:11-He has given me hope, future, and a purpose. All the “no’s” I have faced just means my “yes” is on its way.

As far as being in a relationship, yeah, October has rolled through and I haven’t met my Prince Charming… yet! And you know what? That is okay by me! I have peace knowing that God’s timing is perfect. In His time, I will meet the man He has for me. I can’t put a time frame on it; but, this I know, God is working behind the scenes on my behalf. He knows exactly what I am looking for in a man, and I look forward to the first time we meet.

If you are in the same boat as me, I want to encourage you to look for the beauty in this season of your life. I have found to appreciate the rest, working out, writing my next book, and spending time with family to be beneficial. Know that God has a plan and a purpose for you. You may not know His plan, but trust that He is leading you and directing your steps. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” Dreams, desires, aspirations that you may be holding onto tightly, give over to the Lord and watch Him work things out on your behalf. I already have! 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” All the “no’s” you may have faced, just know that your “yes” is on its way. Don’t give up, stay encouraged! You are closer to your breakthrough than you think.

God’s plans are not your plans, nor are His thoughts your thoughts. God has amazing things in store for you, the question is: will you let Him be in control? I don’t know about you, but I am excited for what the future holds because I know who holds my future.

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