Empowering Women in Worship

I have had the privilege of leading worship at my home church, Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA, for 7 years now. I love my church and my community… and I LOVE what I do. Although different than what I thought I might be doing in life, I feel as if I am right where God has called me. And that is a fun and exciting place to be! But like anything else, a calling comes with its share of obstacles. Although trying at times, it has been an amazing learning experience. I have learned how to rely on God when feeling alone, and I have learned to believe in myself and the calling God has on my life.

As a result of my own journey, my passion has heavily turned to equipping and empowering women, specifically women in worship. I want women all over the world to know they are valued beyond measure, that they have unlimited potential, and that they have a unique gifting and calling within God’s kingdom. And the more I dive into this calling, the more I feel God shaping it. Deep in my heart I feel like this calling is going to turn into something bigger than myself. Have you ever felt like that?

I know this to be my first step: A WORSHIP ALBUM DESIGNED TO EMPOWER THE NEXT GENERATION OF FEMALE WORSHIP LEADERS.

But what comes next? I don’t know. This vision is what I will start with, and who knows what it will turn into. That is why I love serving God and trusting in his sovereign will for my life. Because he always has a plan, and I can’t wait to see where He takes me on the journey of empowering women in worship.

Check out this video for more info on my first step:

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Flying Through Open Air

When I was in Jr. High, my school had an amazing ropes course. It was really high in the air and was very challenging. Coming from a person who is terrified of heights, I was not too excited to do this in P.E. class. But unfortunately, I am also very competitive and love a good challenge so despite my fears, I did it anyways. I started with some of the easier things like the wall climb and the zip line. Check. But when I got to the harder ones, especially the trapeze jump, I second guessed my yearning to do it. 

In order to tackle the trapeze, you climb up a 40 foot wooden pole like a ladder, but instead of steps, you are placing your foot on small metal U’s coming out of the pole. Not the most stable of ladders. Of course you are strapped into a safety harness that will catch you if you fall, but you are not thinking about that as you get higher and higher… further and further away from the safety of the solid ground. The higher I climbed, the louder my breath became. The higher I climbed, the further I was from comfortable. But being in Jr. High where peer pressure is a part of every day life, I forced myself to take one more step… and one more step. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, I reached the top. I was relieved until I realized that what I had to do next was even scarier than the climb. 

Trapeze

I had to pull myself up onto the top of the pole and balance without holding onto anything! What?! For someone who was deathly afraid of heights, this was the most frightening thing yet. So, very carefully and with all the confidence I could muster, I climbed up onto the top of the pole. 

I was frozen.

Ahead of me was an even more daunting task than before (I didn’t think that was possible after what I had just gone through). Ahead of me was a handle that I had to jump to… and remember this is 40 feet above the ground!! They wanted me to leap from a tiny pole to a handle. It looked so far away. 

Now what I want to talk about next is the jump. And not the grab of the handle (which I did successfully!), but the time in between the jump and the grab. The time where you are flying through space with nothing to hold onto. The time when you are virtually leaving one platform and looking towards the next. It is scary. It is uncomfortable. But it is necessary. In order to get to the next step, you must take the leap and endure the place of no foothold. 

rr_trapeze4

To be honest and transparent, my worship department is in such a place right now. My boss resigned and his last day was Christmas Eve. It was not a bad exit. God is calling him to other things and I wish him the very best! However, my department is in transition. We have taken the leap off of the log and are now flying through the air waiting to reach the handle. We don’t know what is next or what God has in store for our department. 

To be more transparent, I have faced several challenges during this transition time. My first challenge is trying not to look back to the platform I just jumped from. I am tempted to go back to the familiar, but God doesn’t want that for me. His plan is best and he knows the exact color and shape of the next handle. My prayer in this season has been to not only be content in the open air, but also to look forward to the handle. God knows the exact color and shape that we need in the next season… the color is going to be stunning and the shape is going to be exactly the shape needed to grab onto. 

My second challenge has been the temptation to freak out! When you are flying through the air of transition with nothing to hold onto, it is easy to get scared and uneasy. So my most recent prayer has been that of trust. Trusting in God despite the circumstances and surroundings. Trusting in God can be hard, but it is the best thing to do in a season of transition. I have found security in Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” God knows the plans He has for me, and all I need to do is trust in his plans. No need to freak out! 🙂 

Prayers are appreciated while myself and my department fly through space, trusting in God and his plans for the next season of ministry. In the meantime, I enjoy the open air! It is a rather nice breeze. 

Where’s The Uncomfortable?

Uncomfortable Cat

Last year was such an uncomfortable year for me. I traveled to Africa for 3 weeks, and I also made my first solo worship album. That is a lot of uncomfortable. So now what? I have been praying for God to provide my next uncomfortable moment. I know that probably sounds weird for some of you, but it’s true. I want to be stretched and taken beyond what I know I can do. Do you feel the same? Do you pray for uncomfortable moments?

  • We must CRAVE uncomfortable growth… 1 Peter 2:2-3 “You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries for milk, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”
  •  We must STEP OUT in faith… Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
  •  We must TRUST God, and not try to do it on our own… Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

If we do these 3 things, we will have FELLOWSHIP with God… 2 John 9 “If you wander beyond the teaching of Christ, you will not have fellowship with God. But if you continue in the teaching of Christ, you will have fellowship with both the Father and the Son.”

Take some time to Pray/Journal through these questions:

1. Do you crave growth in your life?
2. When was the last time you stepped out in faith and became uncomfortable for God? If you can’t remember the last time, ask God to reveal the next steps for you.
3. Are you trusting God in your situation, or are you trying to do it on your own?

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Oceans

We are introducing a new song to our Sunday night services this week. All of you avid Hillsong United followers will know and love this song already. It is called Oceans (Where Feet May Fail). It is a beautiful and breath-taking song. Not only is the music a masterpiece, but the lyrics paint a vivid picture of the way Peter felt when he walked on water. Here is the story if you do not know it…

Matthew 14:25-33

25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

There are a couple things I get from this story. The first is that Peter had the faith and trust in God to walk out on the water… WOW. That is scary and intimidating and unknown. And of course he walked out into a storm. It was windy and the waves were coming from all directions, but he still decided to take a step of faith trusting that God was going to guide his steps. I felt like this last year when I was preparing to go on my missions trip to Africa. I felt like I was walking into something scary, intimidating, and unknown. So I had to trust God with all my heart and know that He was going to take care of me along the way. Are you taking a step of faith towards God’s will for your life? Are you trusting him as you walk on the uneven water?

The second thing I get from this story is that when Peter walked amongst the waves and the wind, for a split second, he lost sight of Jesus. He lost sight of the one who was keeping him above the waves, and that is the moment he started sinking. But as soon as Jesus came back into Peter’s vision, Peter was lifted to the place of calm and security again. Are you keeping your eyes on Jesus? Are you keeping your gaze above the waves? If this is true in your life, then your persective should be shifted. You are no longer focused on the scary-intimidating-unknown around you, but you are focused on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.

Put yourself in Peter’s situation… ask yourself some hard questions… and take a listen to this song…

OCEANS (WHERE FEET MAY FAIL)

 

Why Worry?

Why Worry?

Worry. I do that a lot.

I have my new worship album coming out in 8 days… yes 8 days. It was a year process, and it is coming out in 8 days! (Did I say that already?) I can’t believe it. But unfortunately, in the last few days, I have found myself in a constant state of worry. There is a lot to finish up before the album release… worry. And I just found out that my album is not going to be done until the morning of the event… more worry. I have to prepare for my rehearsal with my band still… worry. The final videos and technical strategies need to be finalized… more worry. I don’t know how many people are even going to come to the album release… worry. And worst of all: what if they don’t even like the songs… WORRY! The more I think about it, the more I worry… and then God slaps me in the face.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 

28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6)

When God called me to do this album project at the end of 2011, I was worried. But looking back at the year process, God has taken care of me this entire time and used these songs and this project for His glory. I am praying that I will have faith in God this week. And trust that he will complete the work that he has started in me and through this project. To God be the glory. 

I release my worry to Him, and I pray that today, you can do the same. 🙂

-Ashley

Give Me Faith

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Why is it so hard to have faith during the difficult times? Every time persecution or brokenness comes, immediately we say… Why God? Why is this happening to me? We are introducing a new song by Elevation Worship this weekend that has been challenging me in my trust and faith in God, especially during the difficult times. The lyrics read…

CHORUS
“Give me faith to trust what you say
That your good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life”

BRIDGE
“I may be weak, but your spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail, but my God you never will”

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 it reads, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When we are weak, God’s spirit is strong in us. When we face persecution or difficulties or brokenness, the power of Christ is dwelling in us because he increases when we decrease. We are going to fail because we are not perfect people, but God is our constant perfection. He is our constant strength. He is the one we need to put our faith and trust in… in every circumstance life throws at us.