December 24, 2011

Love has come, Your Love has won.

"The war is over / Love has come / Your Love has won."
- "White Flag," a Passion 2012 song

Here, we have our 2011 Christmas card. Let us take a moment and recognize the use of the Oxford comma... Okay, moment over. Nice work, Mama Sha-nay-nay!

But this day?
My, oh my.
The war is over, the battle is won.

Somehow, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and Israel's advent has made a lot more sense this year, and I can't stop combing through the lyrics. Sometimes those 12th century Latin composers just get it right, ya know?

We have been rescued by a King.
Sing our for joy for the brave little boy who was king, but made himself nothing!

p.s. My career holds dear all facets of social media, so of course, I have watched this about six times. Have you seen this? Cool. Very, very cool. Told ya I'm a fan of Elizabeth and Zechariah...

It's a BOY!

Merry, merry Christmas, y'all!

December 23, 2011

Jump around and make you sing.

If you know me at all, you recognize my affinity for the following:

1. Workout clothes.
2. Mexican food + margs with extra salt.
3. Live music, baby.

The perk of living in Atlanta is that my new home offers sublime opportunities for all the enjoyment of all three. But in this post, I shall address point #3.

Christmas at Christchurch concert, Christchurch Presbyterian
Nathan Angelo // Ryan Horne // Jonathan Rich // Micah Dalton, Eddie's Attic

Ah. 'Twas a good week. My girl Caroline of Back Down South snapped these photos at Buckhead Theatre. Swoon. The girl who's favorite movie is Walk the Line WOULD love her some Drew and Ellie...

I just wanted to show you those and introduce you to my biggest couple-crush. Now you should go look at more of CFontenot's work and book her for weddings and stuff. 

Look for some exciting musica-related news in the next coupla days! In the meantime, if you're near Atlanta's skyline, blow her a kiss for me. For I'm in the land of cotton on account of Jesus's birthday.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve, y'all!

Blog post title: "Love is Magic" by Drew Holcomb + the Neighbors.

December 21, 2011

Wing-shadow singing.

"My plan for your life is unfolding before you. Sometimes the road you are traveling seems blocked, or it opens up so painfully slow that you must hold yourself back. Then, when time is right, the way before you suddenly clears--through no effort of your own. What you have longed for and worked for I present to you freely, as pure gift. You feel awed by the ease with which I operate in the world, and you glimpse My Power and  My Glory.

Do not fear your weakness, for it is the stage on which My Power and Glory perform most brilliantly. As you persevere along the path I have prepared for you, depending on My strenth to sustain you, expect to see miracles--and you will. Miracles are not always visible to the naked eye, but those who live by faith can see them clearly. Living by faith, rather than sight, enables you to see My Glory."

- Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Does anyone read "Jesus Calling?"
I think a lot of us do.

Sarah Jane texted me this morning to ask if I'd read it today. So, in full-basking mode of Christmas Break 2011: Day 1, I rolled out of bed, brewed a big 'ole pot of vanilla flavored coffee, and perched beside a rainy Atlanta window-scape.

"...the way before you suddenly clears--through no effort of your own."

As an update, I'm still joyfully chillin' in advent season over here. Your comments and emails are always so timely--I read them all. I'm encouraged that there are other sisters walking the same path, and I would venture to say that you'd agree with me when I say what we learn during advent times trumps all.

We live by faith, not by sight, right? If that's true, I don't need to have all gifts and wonders in front of my eyes 24/7 to have life. Faith? Faith is enough. Faith is enough for us. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of things we do not see" (Heb. 11.1). Let me repeat: Certain of things we do not see. Certain of things you do not see. Just the faith that He's done it before, and He'll do it again.

"Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings."
- Psalm 63.7

And wing-shadow-singing season is definitely all that it's cracked up to be. Sisters (and brothers? I think there are a few of y'all), would you second that? 

Still warming a seat at the oak bar table with four chairs and one bench that I purchased with no help from my dear mother and father (It's my first apt. Let me have my small victories.), I flipped over to John 11.40:

"Did I not tell you that if you believed 
you would see the glory of GOD?"

Ba. Ha. Ha. Sometimes, I think God widens His eyes and raises His eyebrows and looks at me dead in the eyeballs he crafted Himself. "Did I not tell you, Ashlyn? My daughter, ha, I am in the process of showing you Who I Am! I've written you love letter after love letter telling you that you are my child and that if you have faith in Me, you'll see My Glory. One day in full, but for now I must unpack it slowly since you're still limited to this human form. But girl--I told you so. I told you that I'd show you my Love."

You did, didn't You, God? 

Certain of things we do not see. And in the meantime? We sing in the shadow of the most loving, protective, caring wings in the whole-wide-infinity-universal-of-universes wings ever made. And goodness knows I sho' love to sing.

This is the kind of stuff that makes my heart race.  And want to type things like this: !!!!!!!!!

La-la-la-la. :)

December 14, 2011

When advent gets personal.

I'm not sure that advent season has ever meant so much to me before.

Not the cute little calendar. The word itself.

Advent season is the church's name for the breath-held, suspended season right before Christmas dawns. It's expectant. It groans as it waits. It is joyous, but waiting on fulfillment--all at the same time.

But here's the thing: I never really understood that.

I never really understood what it meant to hope or watch with my lantern ready. Never understood that pregnant pause of yearning for redemption... The gasping kind. The kind that brings tears. I dunno. I guess I just was never frustrated enough to notice the penetrating desire that waiting, like REALLY waiting, on something can be. 

So of course, as is His way, God stepped in and said, "And that, my daughter, is something I'm going to teach you. Because your being uncomfortable and learning how I supply your breath is more important to me than a cookie-cutter little Atlanta life."So He's given me three desires to w-a-i-t upon this season: ______, _________, and ______. (I love you, dear reader, but not THAT much. Take me to Starbucks and we'll talk).

At church on Sunday, in typical form with pen-in-hand, I scribbled down before the talk somethin' along the lines of "Move Spirit. I really need to know what to do about _________."

Louie started talking. Any guesses to what the sermon was on? You get a cookie if you said waiting. Of course. Waiting. When advent gets personal.

Instead of thinking "Oh my GOSH, the pastor is talking directly to me," I've realized that um, well, Ashlyn, when you think that, it's also because you're a human being and welp, you have the same struggles and God speaks to His people.

So, as it turns out, a lot of us must be waiting on something in life.

Ya feel me?

And my heart these days mirrors the advent calendar. I can feel the ache for something build in my heart. I don't want to sound too far out in left field, but I feel it physically and just all over--waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Arrrgghghghghghghghgh.

Before baby Jesus came into the world, His parents had some very special couple friends. The couple friends were named Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Elizabeth was Mary's cousin. I hadn't given it much thought before, but you need to know Elizabeth was barren. Like, girl was REALLY barren.

She'd kept the letter of the law.
She was of Aaron's line.
For goodness's sake, she was married to an incredible guy that was even a priest.
But they had prayed for relief. Oh, how they had prayed for a child.

God heard them--of course He did. But "not now," God said.
"I hear you, children, but I will not give you that today."
"Or today."
Or today.
Or this week.
Or this week.
Or this week.
Or this week.
Or this year.
Not this year.
No, not this year either.
Or this one.
Not now, child.
Not this year.
Not this decade.

Elizabeth grew old. Elizabeth was old, but she and Zechariah remained faithful. And one day, the priestly calendar rolled in to Zechariah's turn to clock in for priestly duties in the temple's Holy of Holies. Boom--Zechariah turns around and it's one of the coolest angels ever, Gabrielle (Good thing you don't need inhalers in heaven because I am so pumped about meeting Gabrielle.). And Zechariah is told he will have a son.

The son? John the Baptist.
No big.
Just the one human on earth that paved the way pure Love to enter the world. 
The one who fulfilled ancient prophecies of "the voice of one calling in the desert."
The one who baptized Jesus Christ himself.

There he was, a cousin born precisely six months before Jesus whose life fulfilled countless prophecies and whose life complemented the work of Christ Jesus. Worth the wait, right, Elizabeth? 


Worth the wait.

It's just little stories like this one that remind me--my God is for me. My God waits with me. I don't "wait for" God. He is mine already. He knows it hurts a little bit for a human heart to yearn, suffer, strain for something. He knows that. So for a cure, He steps in while we wait. To hang out with me and remind me my God is the God who provides. That He is at my right hand. That He "makes all things beautiful in their time."

I picture it like He's sitting beside me. And he pats my back like a Father would and says, "I know, my love. I know. Hold on. I love you, so hold on. You're precious to me and I am for you. I'm so for you, Ashlyn Stallings that I'm not going to give you that right now. You want silver, but my darling I want GOLD for you. We just need everything in my will to align before I give you gold. Okay?"


Waiting kinda stinks. But "the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders."

And I'd rather rest there. Oh, how He loves us.

Photo credits: 1 / 2 / 3

December 13, 2011

We ball so hard.

I feel like I've had to make that Jaw-jah-to-Bama drive a lot this semester. Holdupwait--I'm in the real world now. I think they just call them "seasons," not semesters.

Regardless, I'm proud to say that due to that, I only missed one home Auburn football game and definitely didn't miss this little darlin's big night.

This post is dedicated to my most devoted reader.
The one who constantly reminds me to "update that blog or no one will ever read it, Ashlyn."
The one who I've known since age 3, when I welcomed her into my life of choreographed dances to Mariah Carey songs.
I mean, as long as I could stay head choreographer. Priorities, people. Priorities.
The wittier Stallings girl: 

Little K-stalls.

Happy deb ball, beautiful little sis. You are a BLESSING. Luh you longtime.

Isn't she a beaut?

To anyone not from the South, or well, even from the South, I realize this seems odd. I do. 

My cousin and I looking at my grandmother and great aunt's 1953 queen portrait. The moment was again relished with Little Bit. Sweet Mimi's praisin' King Jesus these days! 

The fun fact is there are little princesses of the court aged 5 that run around in French handsewn dresses all night and can't come back until they're presented. Dad looked at me halfway through Saturday with his serious face and pointed to a princess. "You realize that when you were 5 you legitimately thought this was real, right? Like, real. Kings and queens and stuff."

Well, I mean DUH, Dad.

Photo credit: 1
Blog post title: Kanye + Jay-Z.

December 8, 2011

Why I'm writing again.

"...Knowing that I needed to sing, knowing that I still needed to do what I knew I was supposed to be doing.

Right now, it's just choosing to worship all the time. That's what it is for me. Because I don't always feel like it. Sometimes I don't feel like singing to God. But I know my circumstance in this season doesn't change that God is still God. It doesn't change what God's called me to be or what He's called me to do.

He's still on the throne in heaven, ya know?
And he still rules.
And he's still bigger than everything I'm facing.

I was singing, and I believed everything that I was singing. And I still don't really know why. Part of me was still broken. It wasn't like, this huge rush of how I always felt when I worshiped... Like the presence of God flattened me. It wasn't like that.

But just going, 'I know that You're here, God.' 

I knew I just needed to keep singing. Even when you're saying things that you know are truth, but you might not necessarily fully understand yet."

I was talking to God this morning, and thinking about that "knowing that I still needed to do what I knew I was supposed to be doing" part.

I heard Him say "Ashlyn. Tell the story."

So then I asked Him this: "um, what story... Yours or mine?"

(This is when you and I have a mutual agreement that we all have our blonde moments, k? K thanksssss.)

And He just was quiet. Smiled, probably.

Oohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I thought. Baha. They're the same aren't they?

And I like to think He smiled again. Yup, my story is forever intertwined with His grace and love and POWER...

So I'm making a comeback here. Writing again. Which I had decided I wasn't going to do until my life was 100% glamorously blog-worthy. I've realized that I need to get over myself, because there's people out there--at least I'm pretty sure--that don't always want to see a shimmering little life where my nails are always an unchipped You Don't Know Jacques and my new little Atlanta home looks like Pinterest knocked on my door and said "GIRL, get out da way I'm here to decorate." And where it's really easy to be 23-and-a-half because you were pretty good at college and then lived by yourself on the road for a year.

This stage is more like the junior high of adulthood. And that's okay!

Because we're constructed to lean on each other. Called as Christians to be the Body of Christ. Called to encourage one another. Called to keep singing even when life doesn't exactly make sense. 'Cause sometimes life's got glitter sprinkled on top, and sometimes not. But either. Way. We. Sing.

Cause either way, there's always something to sing about: He's on the throne.


And, you know, I think I like that kind of approach to writing a lot better.

December 2, 2011

There's no way that I'll say no.

Because I:
A. was the traveling Leadership Consultant who pestered almost every ADPi chapter last year with a worthy college football program asking if I could see their stadium, 
B. have lived in ATL for five months and still never set foot in the Georgia Dome (But uh, go Falcons),
C. love Erin Andrews probably more than most guys,

I am beside myself that tomorrow I get to roll out from under my Anthro bedspread and head to witness the graceful athletic prowess that is SEC football. Ask me where I was last year when Auburn played. Okay, I'll tell you: in a dorm room in Lincoln, Ne. Not sure if I'm gonna dress like a corndog or a dawg-dog yet. I'm taking offers though. 


Actually, if I'm gonna take offers, then I'll risk my life and wear my Cam jersey if you dare me considering rent in this town is whoa-baby.

But yeah. I'm stoked. War Eagle/Geaux-Tigers-Stop-Bama. But don't forget my first day ever on the job as a consultant last year, my suitcases and I landed on a Milledge Avenue front porch in the Classic City. Aw, shucks. UGA will steal your heart if ya let it.

Now. Who knows Erin Andrews and can help me meet her so we can go to PureBarre class together and hang out and braid each others' hair? Jokessssss...

Post title: "Oh Darling" by Plug In Stereo feat. Cady Groves.
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