Hi, I am Ashley. I am an overachiever. I like to see things happen the way that I plan them out. I don’t like variations of my plan and can quickly get frustrated when things don’t work out the way that I want them to. Oh and I can’t stand pain or difficult lessons. I’m good at telling God that I’ve gone through enough and He can share the wealth with someone else other than me. Was this the type of introduction you were expecting to this week’s blog? Probably not, but get used to it. I have talked or held chats on some of the very topics some of you have been wondering about, challenged with, and just couldn’t put the right words to it.  I, on the other hand, don’t like to put the right words to it, but God has given me the gift of communication. There’s definitely no shame on my part being very honest.

As I have been taking a hiatus and kicking and screaming about it, I’ve been taking notes. I have seen a lot of people posing the question, “What have you learned in 2018.”  I struggled to answer, but then there was a part of me that didn’t want to answer.  Here are a few of the tough lessons I learned:

•    I didn’t become a New York Times Bestseller.

•    I didn’t take a vacation in Dubai this year.

•    I didn’t have a trouble-free life as I wanted.

•    I didn’t meet every goal I set for myself.

Out of every entry on the list, the one that bugged me the most was not meeting every goal I set for myself. I’m used to achieving anything that I want to, creating to-do lists, and just checking off things as they come. I will say God allowed me to have that experience once. It was nice, but I don’t remember any lessons I learned because I was enjoying the ease. Have you been praying for lighter, carefree days to your liking and wondering if God traveled to Dubai for an extended vacation instead?

God doesn’t promise us ease on this journey and for a good reason. We rarely remember valuable lessons during these times because we are too busy enjoying the moment and in our own world. It’s when the ease dissipates, and we are faced with the truth that our life isn’t just for us to live, to celebrate, to get all we want, and then wash it all down with eternity in heaven. It’s a life experienced with God, even when there are moments you are navigating through the dark.

My biggest lessons were learned through not getting things that I worked hard to achieve, but the carefully crafted truths learned from disappointments, tears, frustrations, and realizing God’s plans happen in His time and not mine. Out of all the stuff, I learned to trust God in the dark and to commit to staying connected to Him no matter what.  Some days I was upright and skipping right beside Him. Other days, I broke away and tried to hide. There were some rough days where I was connected to God alright, just kicking and screaming.

I was also reminded during one of my talks with God of the following, “I don’t define success in humanity’s terms.”  You mean, God isn’t concerned if each of my planner sheets was filled and I met every deadline on the calendar? Nope, He doesn’t define success as achievements.  Success is also in obedience when you’ve really missed the mark and say, “God I’m sorry” and commit to getting back up again.

Even though there were things and achievements I didn’t meet, God taught me some valuable lessons that will continue to help me to grow. As you go into the New Year, don’t miss the valuable lessons you’ve learned and continue to learn. We aren’t running a marathon, so pace yourself.

Question of the Week:

What is one lesson you learned in 2018? How will this lesson help you continue to learn and grow as you continue throughout the year? I cannot wait to hear your lessons learned.

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