Covet-Worthy Joy

I don’t ever want to cause anyone to sin. I particularly don’t want to cause anyone to covet. I have a tendency to downplay the awesome in my life so that no one feels like I’m trying to “one-up” them or show off. But it struck me this morning: If ever I want anyone to covet what I have, I would want it to be my joy.

I chose the e-mail user name ashleyishappy in 2004. I had met Jon that summer, and, even if he wasn’t, I was sure I was going to marry him. I thought it a little presumtuous, however, to reserve anything with the last name Andrews, but I didn’t want to throw in Hayes and then have to change it in a year. So, ashleyishappy was born.

When I chose it I was in a state of new love bliss. Now, every time I sign into Facebook, Twitter or wordpress I’m reminded of that time when nothing could have shattered my happiness.

Happipness is fleeting though, isn’t it? I don’t want anyone to covet my username. I don’t want them to covet the moments that produce happiness in my life. I want them to covet a deep indwelling joy. The only way anyone will ever desire the joy I have is if I allow it to bubble up from the source within. And how will they know the source if I don’t daily speak of Him? No one will ever covet a surface level slice of happy. For most of us there have been too many hurts that have stolen our smiles. The way they will ache at the longing for our joy is if we tell them why we are joyful.

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

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Personal History

Last week I stumbled across some personal history. Somehow I found myself on The Rumor Forum. Thanks to some old friends, with whom I have sadly lost all but Facebook contact (for which I take full responsibility), I became part of my very first online community. Just looking at that URL brings swirls of fun memories to the forefront on my mind. I looked up some archived threads and poked around to see how the place has changed.

Then I decided to look at my profile that linked to my first blog. It was startling proof of how permanent the world wide web is.* As I read through some of the posts I couldn’t help but think about how simple life was. The major decisions of the day that turned out to be a speck on the timeline, the joys of college, missed friends – it all made my heart shiver with happy memories and ache for days gone by. The writing itself was painful to read. It was obviously never edited** and quite stream of consciousness. (Maybe deep down I was hoping to be a much girlier, less depressing, far inferior William Faulkner.)

From there my mind spiraled into losts of thoughts of past, present and future. Sitting here thinking of the topics of my first blog, I think that I was such a baby then. It makes me feel older and wiser now. Then I think about the future me. In 10 years will I look back at the present day me and think the same thing?

I hope so. I hope that every life experience, every community I join and person I meet, every book I read, every prayer I pray will make me wiser. I hope I look back at this blog someday and think to myself, “I was so young and naive! Look how far God has brought me!” Until then, I’ll pretend I have an inkling of wisdom and know that what I mostly have is words.

*I have absolutely no intention of sharing that link with you. If you read the rest of this post before checking the foot note you understand why. If not, go back to *.

**Now I’m incredibly paranoid that I’ve left some horrible grammar mistake or typo. Feel free to edit.

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Fall!

In honor of Florida deciding to have fall this year, I baked dark chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. These will be followed by more pumpkiny goodness than my belly can handle. For now, here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 C all-purpose flour (or half whole wheat flour, half AP)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C canned pumpkin
3/4 C white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 C melted butter
8 oz dark chocolate chips

Mix first 4 ingredients in one bowl. Mix the next 4 ingredients in another bowl. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix until moist. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon into greased giant muffin cups and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and enjoy!Fall, Pumpkiny Goodness

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Hutchmoot

A little over a year ago Jon and I timidly attended an experiment in community based on an online community called The Rabbit Room. The conference was called Hutchmoot, and the first evening felt like the first day of school in a new town. I was nervous and intimidated to be so close to people I admired. As the weekend progressed we realized that there were no bullies in this new school. There wasn’t even a popular crowd. Everyone was wearing a pocket protector and pushing their coke bottle glasses up their noses.* Everyone was equally as passionate (not geeky) as we were for the beauty of music and literature.

This weekend we reconvened with our people. This time it was less like a first day at school and more like walking into a group hug. I immediately felt warm and cozy wrapped in the covers of the familiar and the soon to be explored. Throughout the sessions and speakers I felt the outpouring of inspiration and desire. Being there with people who love to create and enjoy creation filled me with both knowledge and desire to know more, confidence to love what I love and do what I love, and passion to explore the depths of our Creator’s heart.

The full impact of the Hutchmoot will take some time to wash over me. I may not provide specific posts that detail the moments of movements of the weekend, but the wisdom imparted there will reflect itself in every stroke of the keyboard.

*I mean this in the most loving and least literal of ways. I actually didn’t see a single pocket protector.

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Stewards of Creation

“You made [man] ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.” Psalm 8:6

I often have difficulty focusing my creative energy. I have a half-dozen half-finished crochet projects, and I don’t even want to count the items in my sewing queue. Usually when I’m part of the way through a project one of two things happens: either I decide there was a much better way to do it and start over completely, or I have a fantastic brain wave for a new, way more awesome project and project 1 gets the shaft. Of course, at that point, sometimes projects 1-3 have been left behind, too.

I truly believe that the reason mankind has any shred of creativity in our bones is that we were made in the image of Creator God. He has revealed an aspect of Himself in the soul of every human creator. Not only has He endowed us with the ability to create, but He has also given us charge over His very precious creation.

Despite the joy I find in creating I have a very hard time letting my creations go. I am my own worst critic, and I will fight an internal battle every time I gift a work of my hand. Yet, God, in his abundant grace and love for His broken creation, allows us guardianship over His jewel of creation. He has given us the earth. He has given us every living creature. He has even given us the priviledge of caring for the weak, wounded and abandoned of the world.

The responsibility is vast. We are the stewards of the King. We must choose wisely how to love and use the created and the creativity endowed by our Creator. 

“May the works of my hand and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, Lord.” Psalm 19:14

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A place of contentment

I’m sure I’ve written before about a deep seeded desire for contentment. I have probably even called myself content in hopes of making it true. I have come to realize the truth that I will never be content in this world. That is not my purpose here. Jon and I are getting ready to make some major changes in the way we live our lives.*

God is changing the way we’re looking at the world. We are excited to see what might transpire when we start to live like the aliens and strangers of this world – when we conform ourselves to something other worldly. We are beginning to transform how we treat everything from our money to our mindset.

The longer I live in the American dream culture the less I fit. And that, I have decided, is a good thing. Quite honestly, I have no desire to live in a giant house that I can’t afford, eat food at trendy places that I don’t really like or get promotions at work because I schmooze the right people. Jesus is changing my heart to love the nations. He is showing me more daily that my purpose is not to be a decent person who pays her bills, but it is to make His name great on the earth.  That means that our life cannot look like the American dream. In fact, we’re probably going to be the weirdest people on the street.**

One of the ways we’re starting is with The Radical Experiment. Jon and I, along with the college Bible study we lead, are starting the experiment this week. The challenge is for a year:

  1. Pray for the entire world
  2. Read through the entire Bible
  3. Commit your life to multiplying community
  4. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
  5. Give your time in a different context

Through Jesus we want to change the world. Is it a daunting task? Yes. Is it possible? Absolutely.

*Don’t panic, family. I know what you are thinking and we’re not having a baby or moving to a foreign country. We would have told you in a much more appropriate way.

**I’ve always thought I wanted to be an eccentric old lady when I grow up, so what have I got to lose anyway, right?

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Choices

How is it that when presented with a choice we make such poor decisions so often? This morning I was reading Adam and Eve’s story. Genesis 2:9 says, “And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

God told them not to eat the fruit from the latter. Adam and Eve were given the tree of life. Yet, they chose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

I’m afraid that is how I respond too often. I look at the life of joy being offered to me, and I say, “No, thanks. I’ve got enough life. I’ll just take the knowledge of the pain of the world around me.” I pass over the flowing waters of goodness for the sake of knowing evil.

When I read the story I can play a sountrack in my mind. Verse 9 is full of intense music foreshadowing the future fall. Adam and Eve didn’t get a dramatic soundtrack that day. I can only imagined the things that crossed their hearts and minds. Did they even really think about the tree until the tempter came? Or did they ever question the one rule God gave them?

Today our choice is the same. We have a choice to live the life of a Christ-follower or we can eat some knowledge of good and evil. We can choose to flee from evil or we can justify our dabbles in sin as “life experience.” In my short time on this earth I’ve had enough of the knowledge of good and evil. My confident hope is for more of the tree of life.

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