Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

God Is Sovereign. Even over our dreams.

Today marks two months. How has it only been two months? It feels like it was so long ago that my world changed. Here's some of what I've been processing lately...

Last week I had a vivid and even tactile dream. I was sitting at a table with many people - maybe 20 - and my brother Austen was a couple people down from me. Wearing a t-shirt and basketball shorts, his usual, he was smiling and laughing as he spoke to the unknown face next to him. I got up, stood behind him, and began rubbing his shoulders. (This is totally normal in my family. Shoulder rubbing is part of our bonding.) He continued talking with the person next to him. Then I bent down and hugged his neck. He was just as big as always - broad. I could feel his hair on my face as I bent down. Then as I was standing back up, he turned to me and said, "Ashleigh, you're taking this really hard." Then I woke up.

What do you do with that? I have sought counsel about it. And without going into details about other family members' experiences (They're not mine to tell the blogging world.), I will say that I'm not the only one to "see" my brother. So what to make of this?
  • Is it God speaking to me and using my brother's image to do it? Could be. One thing my professor pointed out is that Austen does not yet have his resurrection body. He's a spirit without a body to inhabit. We can't fathom that. His point was that even though it's not what my brother truly looks like now, God knows that for Him to show me his spirit wouldn't make sense to me. He related to me on my level.
  • Is it really my brother? No. If there's one thing we learned in 1 Samuel  28 from the Medium of Endor, it's that we should not try to contact the dead, nor can they contact us. As far as I understand, the Medium at Endor had an evil spirit she was in communication with. When people came to her, that spirit would imitate their loved one they were trying to contact. Satan is smart. He knows enough about our loved ones to have his workers imitate them and deceive us. But then what happened with Samuel? The witch was shocked because when Samuel spoke it wasn't the spirit she knew. It was God speaking as Samuel - or perhaps it was Samuel and this was the exception. It depends on your interpretation. Either way it's clear that in normal circumstances this is not permitted or acceptable. 
  • Could it just be my mind comforting me? Could be. I think I would be okay with that though. I was comforted. Puzzled by what he meant, but comforted nonetheless.
  • Could it be a result of heavy grieving? Yes, again I think it could be. So then what do I do with what he said? When I told a friend about the dream, her response was, "Do you feel like you need permission to still be grieving?" And I guess a little. I know I still have the right. But for example, I've decided once I'm finished interning in August, I'm taking a much needed break to allow myself to rest, grieve, whatever I need at the time. I need it. And I think God has revealed that. A friend questioned what I would do after the break... that's the point of the break. I'm going to just sit, do what I need to do, and be okay not knowing.
  • Could this just be a dream? I went to counseling today. After sharing all this with her and processing it, I said, "Well I mean I guess it could have just been a dream." Her response was, "Is God not sovereign even over our dreams?" She had me there. If God is sovereign over all, then dreams are included. My professor enlightened me more. He said whether (and my family member's experiences) a reaction to heavy grieving, a dream, or even in other circumstances with a friend reaching out and ministering, God uses all of these "normal" human experiences to reach us and comfort us.
I'm always open to your thoughts or questions. I have more to share. Lots more I have been processing. But I'll spare you all from overload and save that for another day.

NOLA

A couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine got married - in New Orleans! Destination wedding! Love that! And I was a bridesmaid! Love that too! Here are some pictures to document our fun weekend.

 
We loved our pockets!

The happy couple dancing!


Cafe Du Monde

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Graduation Weekend

This past weekend I graduated! Or I guess I should say, I walked... still need to finish my internship to get my diploma... Nonetheless, it was a joyous occasion! Three long years of work - and twenty long years of school, in general - have come to an end. It's bittersweet really. More about that later. Here are some pics...

My DTS friends



Family







Some of my wise profs




Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lately

People have been asking how I've been doing, and the truth is I've been doing okay. I feel like I've come out of the fog. But still every so often I get misty eyed and just want to be alone and allowed to sit, remember, grieve, and rest.

Spiritually, I've been okay. I wouldn't say I'm on a spiritual high by any means, but I'm certainly not at a low point either. I've been intentional in recent years about spending time with the Lord, reading His Word, praying, and listening. I read something last night that I think describes my current state well. I read about a man who had been told he would die within the year. He began spending a lot of time with the Lord because he knew it would be more difficult when he grew weak to trust Him. He compared it to walking in your house in the dark. I've walked through my house so often in the light that even in the darkness I know my way around. 

In the same way, I've spent so many years with God that even now as I stand in the dark, mourning, I know that He is good and that He is sovereign. I don't question it. The darkness doesn't change who He is.

I loved my brother. And I miss him dearly. I wish he could have been here this past weekend for graduation. I wish I would get to see him when we go back to Houston for Memorial Day. But he wasn't here, and I won't get to see him in three weeks. I've had a couple times when I've thought, I should call Austen or I have to remember to tell Austen about this, only to remember that I can't. It still hurts my heart. And I'm sure it always will, though the freshness will fade.

Yet in all this, I still trust in the Lord and praise Him for His goodness. I'm thankful Austen is with Him and that he believed.

That's where I am. Like I said, not on a high or down in a slump. I'm just here. God and I are okay. And I think that's a good place to be.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Weekend

It was a fun-filled weekend!

SMom and baby Morgan came up Thursday. We worked in the yard and went to dinner. Then the next morning, we got up early and drove to Fort Worth for William's track meet. I love when he has meets and games up here! So fun to get to support him!



Then on Saturday Brendon and I went to my DTS Counseling graduation lunch. It was great to hang out with DTS friends and appreciate the amazing community that God has put around me for the past 3 years. I'm so thankful. Since this week is graduation, you will hear lots more about that. So for now, here are some pictures.





I can't believe I'm finally graduating... there will be many more pics to come!