Kids Singing My Songs? I Never Imagined.

Last week I was invited to come visit the kids choir at CCV (my home church). Rebekah Neilson, our kids worship leader, said that they had a surprise for me. Oooo… I love surprises! So this past Tuesday, after I led worship for the women’s bible study group, I went to pay them a visit. As I walked down the hall to Room 201, I heard the voices of many little worship leaders in the making. They were being led to sing vocal warms ups. As I walked into the door, I saw a few of them turn their heads to look at me. They smiled in anticipation.

I wondered what the surprise was going to be. I had an inkling to what in might be… Rebekah had introduced my song, “Heart After You” a few months back for the weekend kids services, and they have been singing it in rotation ever since. I had seen little snippets of video here and there of the kids singing out the lyrics with their sweet hand motions, but had never seen it in person. Shortly after I arrived at their rehearsal, Rebekah had them turn around towards me (all of their cute little faces) and wave hi to Mrs. Ashley. They cued the music and sure enough it was the intro to my song. They all faced Rebekah as she led them in singing the song, hand motions and all. I pulled my phone out to capture the moment and tears started to well up in my eyes.

 

I never thought in a million years that the songs I wrote for my album would reach kids. But after seeing them sing one of my songs the other night, I have never felt so much joy! I have seen youth and adults of all ages sing this song in particular, but the kids were the ones that melted my heart.

My writing inspiration for my album was to put scripture to song, and my goal was that the songs would be catchy enough to stick in the hearts of its listeners. The night of my album release, I showed a video that expanded on this idea. I mentioned the songs that I used to sing in Sunday School as a kid. These songs put scripture into my heart even at a young age. And they were catchy enough to stick with me even until now! That is amazing! And that is why the moment I saw the kids singing “Heart After You”, it became more special to me than anything I have ever experienced.

Psalm 51:10 (“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”) is the scripture inspiration for “Heart After You”. The lyrics to the song read, “Create in me a heart that’s clean, A heart that’s after You.” My prayer is that as these kids continue to sing out these lyrics, the Word of God would become a part of their vocabulary… their being… their life. And in years to come, they would never forget.

To God be the glory.

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“The Vow” Challenge

For those of you that don’t know, I am on staff at Christ’s Church of the Valley as one of the weekend worship leaders. I love my job and I love my church. I feel so blessed to be a part of what God is doing in the life of our church, and I love seeing how God has been moving in the lives of our people. However, this particular post is not to tell a story about someone else within our church… it is to share what God has been doing in my life through this season of ministry. I thank God for my church and the way that the leadership is stretching me in my walk with God.

Our pastor, Jeff Vines, recently challenged us to take a Nazarite Vow. This is a challenge taken from the Old Testament (Numbers) and brought into our current context. It is similar to a fast… where you are giving something up that is very dear to you, and in the midst of this fast you are pleading with God to help remove a sin in your life. (To see the entire sermon, CLICK HERE) In summary, the vow comes with 3 challenges:

20130801-115937.jpgAs I prayed through this, I realized that there were some specific sins and issues in my life that I needed God to deal with. I am going to keep those between me and God right now, but these issues have been eating away at me lately. So I came to a point where I needed God’s help. And to show Him how serious I was about getting rid of these sins, I decided to take part in The Vow with our church. Since I started this fast, God has been working on me and my heart in a huge way.

For the first challenge, I decided to get rid of TV completely. For those of you that know me, I love my shows on Netflix and watching TV is a way for me to decompress from the day. I am refueled when I get the chance to curl up on my couch and watch the latest episode of whatever show I am into that day. TV has become my “thing to do” when I have nothing else to do. So giving up TV has definitely been a huge challenge for me. I have had to learn to fill my time with other things… such as time with God, time with family/friends, reading, songwriting, etc. I have had to ask God to give me rest in other ways, because the main challenge has been finding the same rest that I find in TV. But amazingly enough, God has been teaching me how to find rest in Him, and rest in other things. Now I am not going to lie, after a month into this, I am not looking forward to not having TV for two more months! But I know that God is going to teach me so much in my time of sacrifice and fasting. And every time that I have the urge to watch TV, I am reminded to pray through my sins and refocus on God. Lord help me though! Haha!

Wherever you are in your walk with God, I challenge you to listen to the sermon from my Pastor (link above) and take The Vow. We all have something that we need to work on, but how serious are you about getting rid of that issue in your life? We have a God who can help us through anything and deliver us from the chains of sin, so why not plead with Him to help? I challenge you to get serious about your sin, because freedom awaits us on the other side.

Meaning Behind: Lord Of All

Age to age You stand tall
Nations rise, Kingdoms fall
Oceans rest at Your call
You alone, Lord of all

Have you ever thought about how sovereign our Lord is? Sovereign is defined by having supreme rank, power, or authority. Our God is above all, over all, and in all. Age to age and year to year, He stands tall. He has witnessed and orchestrated the rising and falling of nations and kingdoms. He has commanded the oceans and calmed the storm. He is the God who was, and is, and is to come.

I don’t know about you, but my mind cannot even comprehend that! How is God here, there, and everywhere all while holding supreme power over it all? How does He control the mighty ocean and calm the winds? How does He know exactly what I need, yet knows the same about everyone on this planet? I don’t think my mind will ever fully understand the complexity of His being, but that is why God is God and I am not. I choose to trust Him and all His ways, despite being in the dark at times. He is sovereign and I will follow Him.

Blessed are You, Your name is good, Blessed are You forever

Because He is mighty and unchanging and good, I WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS HIS NAME. No matter what may be going on in the world or in my own life, I WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS HIS NAME. Even though I may not understand completely, I WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS HIS NAME. When nations rise and kingdoms fall, I WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS HIS NAME. As oceans obey the call of God, I WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS HIS NAME. I challenge you to do the same. Let us bless the name of the Sovereign Lord of All.

800828343620.MAINPsalm 113:2-6 “Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and  forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?”     

To purchase the song, Lord Of All, click HERE.

Breathe… Just Breathe

Last week, my husband and I took some time away on vacation. Thank God for vacations! I was in need of time away because my life lately has been a series of challenges, and I have been feeling worn out. I have since come back refreshed and renewed, and I also came back with a physical reminder of that refreshment. Let me explain…While we were doing a bit of shopping in the gas lamp district of San Diego, I came across a necklace that I have been wearing quite often ever since. This necklace was an old worn-out key strung on a gold chain. There were many different keys and words to choose from, but on this particular key had been stamped the word “BREATHE”. This necklace had a very special meaning. The company that makes them is called, The Giving Keys, and this is what is said on the card with the key:

The Giving KeyWhen you get this one of a kind key, you must give it away at some point to a person you feel needs the word on there… We employ those who are looking to transition out of homelessness, to get them off the streets and give them a chance at a better life. 

Such an awesome idea! Not only is this key necklace going to help people who are homeless, but it is also helping me for a period of time. And then I get to pass it on to someone who I think needs the same reminder as I do… BREATHE. It might be a while before I pay this key forward, but I can’t wait until I do. In the meantime, I am personally reminded to breathe in several different ways:

  1. BREATHE… IN LIFE: I am blessed to have a new breath to breathe every day, so I will thank God for the blessing of life.
  2. BREATHE… IN DEEP: I have been challenged to improve vocally, so I will focus on supporting my vocals through the breath in my lungs, breathing in deep and from my diaphragm.
  3. BREATHE… IN CONFIDENCE: I have been faced with the challenge to grow in my confidence (since I tend to be insecure most times). So every time I walk on the stage to lead worship, I will take a deep breath and do exactly what God has called me to do.
  4. BREATHE… IN PEACE: I have been faced with criticism and feedback more than ever lately and I am learning how to deal with the good and the bad, so I will breathe in peace of mind despite what comes my way.

I am excited to grow in these areas and be reminded everyday to breathe… just breathe. Refreshment for the soul in the form of a key!

-Ashley