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Last night at Cornerstone we had an amazing Ash Wednesday service.  I grew up Southern Baptist, so I’m a little new to the whole celebration of Ash Wednesday and Lent.  Last year was the first time I have ever gone through the season of Lent with intention, and this year is the first time I have ever participated in an Ash Wednesday service.

Last night was not just my first time doing anything regarding Ash Wednesday, but I was also asked to help impose ashes (aka smear ashes on people’s foreheads).  It was a very humbling experience, because I felt like there surely was someone more equipped for the job, and it took everything inside of me to repeat over and over “Embrace your frailty and put your hope in Christ.”  I played it cool, but deep inside my heart was this voice saying, “Amy you can’t even do this.  Who do you think you are telling other people to?”

Enter in shame.

Before the service even started, I was warned that the ashes on my fingers, which were mixed with oil, would get all over everything if I didn’t wash them off immediately after I was finished.  So, Josh provided us with a wet cloth to wipe our hands.  After I was finished, I did the best I could to get the ashes off, but there was still black gunk under my fingernails.  It was a little gross, but I didn’t think anything of it.

When I got home, I decided to leave my ashes on my forehead until I went to bed.  I did some things around my apartment and then realized that I had to sew up a hole in my comforter (that’s another story about my dog chewing a hole in my comforter).

I started sewing, then looked down to find my comforter covered in black, oily ashes.  I looked at my hands and they were covered in the black, oily mess, too.  I couldn’t figure out how all that got on my hands.  Then, I realized that I had scratched my forehead and completely forgotten about the ashes.

I went and looked in the mirror and ashes were smeared all over my face.  It was pretty gross.  I just kept staring at myself…my face…my hands…my face…my hands…my dirtyness…my face…my sin…my hands…the black…my face…

I realized that this is me all the time.  I just don’t realize it.  I am that person covered in sin, yet so unaware of it that I smear it all over myself and all over the things I touch without even know it.  My became so real to me in that moment, because I could see it, feel it, smell it.  I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

I washed all the ashes off my face and hands the best that I could, but still this morning as I type this there is black gunk underneath my finger nails, screaming at me, reminding me of who I am.

Enter in shame…again.

So, for Lent this year I am giving up something different, not chocolate, or caffeine, or meat, or television. I am giving up sin, one sin in particular that I have struggled with for years.

There are many things in my life that I trust God with, but there is one thing I have held on to for as long as I can remember: trusting God for a husband.  It may not seem like a huge thing to give up, but for me it’s my entire world.

One of the deepest wounds I have in my heart is being single.  I am definitely not one of those people who is “called to singleness.”  I don’t want to be single.  And, for me it is the biggest barrier in my relationship with God.  It’s what I fight with Him about, what I struggle with putting before Him, what occupies my heart instead of Him, and what leads me to other sins.  It’s the black ashes smeared across my face and caked under my fingernails.   And, I am tired of it.

So, I am giving it up.  I am releasing my need to search.  Searching for “him” has become an addiction for me, and every day that I don’t find “him” moves me farther and farther away from trusting God.  Since high school I have been more concerned with seeking a husband than seeking God.  So, I am giving up the hunt.

I don’t write this to make you feel sorry for me, but to ask you to journey with me.  What is that thing at the core of your being that separates you from God, that wedges in between you and Him?  Give it up.  Replace it with Him.  Let’s journey to the cross with Christ together.


I finished a tube of toothpaste the other day, which is one of my favorite things in life.  But, it’s not just toothpaste.  I love finishing a bottle of shampoo or detergent, a box of cereal or jar of peanut butter.

I know it sounds silly, but I love the feeling of accomplishment that squeezing the last little bit of toothpaste out on my toothbrush brings.  I think it’s because it’s not only something I have seen through to its absolute end, but it also means that a fresh start is around the corner.  The next morning I get to unleash a brand new tube of toothpaste.

I need to feel some sense of accomplishment in my life on a daily basis.  It’s why I have a “to do” list.  Crossing things off that list is just as satisfying as squeezing out that last bit of toothpaste.  And, I need renewal in my life.  Starting something new creates a burst of energy inside me to move forward.  It gives me another accomplishment to look forward to.

I don’t think we consider these little successes enough in our life.  It’s these little things that move us along from day to day.  They aren’t just the things that move us forward to the big things in life…they are what make up the movement of life.

It’s in these little things that we worship our Creator.  It’s in the little things that He renews us.

The past few weeks, I have been living in Ephesians 4:17-5:7.  This passage isn’t new to me, but it’s amazing how a passage of Scripture comes alive when I have to teach it to teenagers.  I have been wrestling with this passage, not because of the bad things in my life, but because of the good things that aren’t in my life.

Sure, I haven’t killed anyone lately, but have I haven’t shared life with anyone either.  I haven’t cussed anyone out lately, but I wouldn’t say that my life, or my speech, has been pure either.

Ephesians 4:22-24 says

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

I read a quote one time from Aaron Weiss (of Mewithoutyou) where he said, “Jesus Christ came to bring an entirely new way of life that we are not living.”  The truth is that we have been given a “new self” that is created to BE LIKE GOD.  We have to opportunity to be like God, not because we deserve it or have passed the test, but because of what Ephesians 2:4-5 says

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

I was wallowing in the mud of my lust and desires that I thought would make me happy.  I was dead.  Then, Jesus Christ came to make me alive.  He gave me a new life, and not just any life, but a life that is created to be like God.  I have been rescued from death to be like God!

But, so often I find myself returning to my old life, not because it’s good, but because sin makes me feel good in the moment, and to be honest, it’s easier and more comfortable.  I go right back to what I’ve been rescued from.

It makes me angry that I have been so deceived over the years into thinking that the things I desire outside of God will make me happy.  It makes me so angry that Satan is in the business of deceiving teenagers from the very beginning so they are held captive to their sin, thinking it’s what will bring them life.

In this life and death fight we have been deceived to believe that what brings death actually brings life.  I am tired of falling for this lie.  And, I’m tired of watching the people around me fall for this lie.

If that’s not a reason to share LIFE, I don’t know what is.