Thursday, September 11, 2008

Making Room for "Baby"

Has it been so long since I last wrote something on this thing?! I'm ashamed to log my thoughts, as my journaling inconsistency is obviously evident by now... Nevertheless, under the wise advisement of my mother, now is the perfect time to start "blogging" again: Our lives are about to change forever.

My husband, Jim, and I are going to have a BABY.

This past Monday, a monthly jaunt to the midwife (and one, short ultrasound later) revealed that the Lord has blessed us with a beautiful BOY maturing in my womb. Thus, as any proud, "paparazzi" parent would do, I would like to introduce for posterity: the first picture of our son, Ethan James Ashby.

As any "poor, seminary student couple" would be, Jim and I were a little jolted this past May when a pregnancy test revealed that in nine quick months, this newly established Ashby household would harbor its own little "rug-rat." I think I speak more for myself than my sweet husband in this instance, but the reality of what was taking place inside me hit me upside my consciousness about as hard as a Mack Truck leveling a chipmunk. Jim, on the other hand, has waited his whole life to be a husband and a father. His calm demeanor and solid faith in the Father was a God-send for someone who considers "sudden change" to be a filthy phrase.

It's weird: you spend so many passing moments of your youth wondering how you'll respond to such news, but no one can truly claim such knowledge as their own until God grants you the experience. Now, as the weeks pass (and my pregnant belly grows), the excitement and anticipation of this gift the Lord has freely granted is becoming more and more of a precious treasure. As overwhelming and intimidating as the realizations of parenthood and major life transition can manifest at times, the Spirit in me continues to testify that - as in all things - His "grace is sufficient"; and it's not just "up to me" to raise this little one.

Ethan - already - belongs to God. As he is being sewn together in my expanding womb, the Father is in ultimate and total control of his very short past, his present, and his (Lord willing) broad future. Jim's and my prayer continues to be: that our lives would reflect the Son in such a way as to cause our boy to yearn for the Lord more than anything on earth.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Have A Happy ASHBY Day!

Ladies and gentleman, without further adieu, I am ECSTATIC to announce that - after intense anticipation, incredible patience, and NUMEROUS bags of Uncle Willy's microwave popcorn scarfed while sitting on the edge of our seats...



(Insert agonizing breath of suspense *HERE*)

JIM ASHBY #3's 25th BERFDAY!!!

To commemorate this gala event, I would like to cordially invite all admirers of our beloved Jimbo to post, toast, and roast him on this special "birthday card," which will be unveiled to the Birthday Boy after the debut of his long-awaited returning TV show, "LOST."

On a personal note:

Jame Henry Ashby are the love of my life. There is no other man that I could spend the rest of my days with, and that is why I am here by your side. The day we met was the day the Lord introduced me to my best friend and soul mate. The Lord's authorship and compassion is so beautifully transparent in the man that you are, and the man you are becoming. May you look back upon these past 25 years as the time you loved and knew the Lord the least, as our Father continues to inspire and increase your love and hunger for Christ, and spurs you on in perseverance and faithfulness.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Crucial" Observations

Just two weeks ago, I started a new job as the Guest Services Coordinator with Crossings: an amazing company that loves the Lord, and seeks to serve Him with their unique vision and talents. Suffice it to say, though I'm still in the midst of learning the ins-and-outs of my new position at the office, the people I work with are incredible! When someone inquires about your place of employment and asks "So what's it like working there?...," very rarely are you ever able to say: "It's like going to hang out with my friends and/or family!" These people have gone out of their way to make "work" feel like "home," and it makes a huge difference in the effectiveness of what Crossings seeks to accomplish.

During our weekly meetings, we just finished reading and discussing the book "Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High." Being the avid communication addict that I am, reading sections of this book was much like giving massive quantities of chocolate to a menstruating female! It largely discusses techniques and methods that are often over-looked or under-practiced when we're confronted with highly-emotional/highly-significant situations with others (i.e. "crucial conversations"). Often times, in such intense circumstances, two reactions tend to occur: 1) people shut-down entirely - morphing into complete silence (no "making waves," silent pouting, avoidance, etc.); or 2) all Hades breaks loose (bring-on the shouting matches, fights, sarcastic games, and personal digs).

If you're anything like me, when crucial conversations arise, you make like an ostrich: cram your fearfully flustered head into the closest hole in the ground, and pray to God the whole mess just "blows over." As one can imagine: this - most often - does not solve anything, and you eventually either get knocked over by what you're trying to avoid, or you lose consciousness.

As we navigated our way through the book, it was striking to see how many basic and foundational Biblical principles were consistently presented as realistic solutions to relational issues (further proof that Scripture is relevant and applicable for all of Mankind). For example: 1) monitoring the internal stories that people tell themselves when they don't have all the information (Romans 12:2); 2) listening to others in the midst of emotional melt-downs (James 1:18-20); 3) avoiding jumping to conclusions (1 Corinthians 13); and 4) maintaining an optimistic outlook when working through a tough relationship (Philippians 4:8). Imagine that: the Bible as pertinent and sufficient to speak to the daily conditions of peoples' lives! (Note the overly-exaggerated sarcastic tone...)

So what was the most impacting element I carried away from this recent read? Well, besides the powerful reminder that Scripture is more than capable of coaching us through any curve-ball life may throw; it reminded me that loving others is not playing the role of the martyr, the sacrificial peacemaker, or the bitter tag-along in order to "stop the fighting." Loving people is listening to them, not just hearing them; understanding them, not being understood by them; and using conflict to exhort others to a common purpose, not exhaust them from your own carnal pursuits.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A New Era...

I'm staring at this blank, blogging slate...and I have no idea what to share.

How do you sum up the intensity of change that has thunder-bolted through your life, after not having written for over a year?

I am not the woman I once was...

(Enter sound of rushing wind, indicating a sudden trek back through time)

OK, first-things-first:

In the Fall of 2006, Donna (having recently wed the dashing Jason Shaw), Lisa, and I gathered to clean and exit our beloved haven located at Lakeview Apartments, and re-locate both Lisa and I into my new apartment in Louisville (not far from the lovely Mrs. Shaw herself). The whole ordeal was quite the memory, as we both packed AND removed our belongings via truck and car caravan, in a record
5 HOURS. To this day, I still have nightmares...

At the same time, the adventurous Miss Lisa McGary was preparing in a matter of days to exit our beloved American soil, and to venture abroad for several months in the quaint and classic gardens of Great Britain. She made tons of friends, collected a library of memories, and - following after the Lord's lead - entered into a whole new season of life and learning (which followed her back to the states in the early Spring of 2007).

Meanwhile, back in Kentucky, while attending classes and living my long-fantasized-about life of a single, twenty-something facing the odds on her own (and loving it!); Jen receives the good word of babies-to-be: yes, Donna and Jason are expecting (not to mention two of my other good friends, Sandy and Cassey, who were also to welcome little bundles of joy into the world...).

Thus begins the next several months of baby showers, baby shopping, and learning everything there is to know about how a woman's pregnant body works (at least, from an excited Auntie's perspective). But that wasn't all those memorable months would bring, friends: for the Lord was about to unleash an unexpected life surprise of my very the form of Jim Ashby.

In early December 2006, this charming and genuine young man initiates a pursuit for my heart that was launched out of almost nowhere; and landed both of us at the altar of Immanuel Baptist Church on October 14, 2007, saying our "I do's" before cherished friends and family. Ladies and gentleman, I am thrilled to announce that I am
now Mrs. Jennifer C. Ashby!

Whew! Suffice it to say, I have left out many a juicy detail in this brief (yet exhaustive) glance back, each of which I plan on utilizing as blogging fuel in the future - stuffed with baby pictures, wedding photos, and thanksgiving and praise to the Lord on High for His eternal generosity to His people. Ciao!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's Almost Here!

Christmas typically tends to be the most beloved holiday of almost anyone you meet...AND IT'S ALMOST HERE!!!

And (to be honest): I haven't even BEGUN my Christmas shopping yet. :(

Ever since I was young, some of the ongoing Christmas traditions in my Mom's extended family are:

1) Gramma Charlotte's OUTSTANDING home-made noodles (best experienced over a huge mound of mashed potatoes)

2) $5 Gift Exchange between all the adults (usually consisting of tons of chocolate, homemade trinkets, and random stuff from Wal-Mart)

3) Yay, Frozen Jell-O punch!

4) All the York Peppermint Patties one Seminary student can handle! :)

So, just out of curiosity, what are some of the holiday traditions that you and your family celebrate; or what's something that you most look forward to about Christmas?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"I Asked the Lord"

A Truth that speaks in this time of maturation and growth for us all:
I Asked the Lord
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face.
'Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He'd answer my request,
And by His love's constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest.
Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yea, more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low.
Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?
"Tis in this way" the Lord replied,
"I answer prayer for grace and faith."
"These inward trials I employ
From Self and pride to set thee free,
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in Me."

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Friend Will Be Missed

For those of you who may not yet be aware, Brian Adams - one of the hard-working chefs of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - suddenly passed away this former Saturday. Suffering from a heart attack, Brian (a friend and co-worker I had the privilege of spending most of my afternoons with at the cafeteria) slipped from this world and into the next at a local hospital...leaving behind the wife he loved dearly, Starr, and their two beautiful children, Morgan and Zachary.

For as long as I knew him, Brian talked about his family constantly. He was so proud to be a husband and father. I can remember listening to a vast array of his different stories: about cooking, hiking, life experiences, love and family... If there was one thing "Chef Brian" enjoyed, it was enjoying all that life has to offer. I could always hear his laugh from behind the hotline, at the front of the cafeteria - even though Brian, himself, might be tucked away in the back of the kitchen somewhere. :) But most of all, I will always remember Brian's smile. Both Brian's children, Morgan and Zachary, have inherited that same smile: warm and welcoming.

I write this post as a humble request:

As someone who lost her father in exactly the same way, not too long ago, would you - Southern Seminary - please keep the Adams' in your prayers? This is a sudden and dramatic blow for anyone to endure; and in the weeks to come, let us be intentional in showing grace and love - not only to Brian's family - but also his co-workers in the cafeteria (Chef Pam, Chef Jim, Chef Meg, Kim, Rita, Tidy, etc.). As a student who has experienced Seminary "behind the scenes," and in more than just the classroom: these people will be grieving his loss for quite a while to come, and need the support and encouragement of this school body.

Brian was one who professed the Name of Christ; one who sought to love his family better and deeper with each new day; and one who always strove to be a thoughtful friend and fellow-worker.

We will miss you, Brian.