Blog
August 4, 2019, 3:00 PM

VBS Is For Everyone!



by Ashley Cruce

If I had told me 6 years ago before we joined this Church that I would one day have a desire to lead a VBS (with a microphone) or even behind the scenes I would have never believed it, not for one second. It's funny how God works!

I may not seem like it but standing in front of people with a mic is way out of my comfort zone (I know some of you are thinking how can this be? But it's true!!), it was much easier this year... as I filled in back in 2016, that was terrifying for me, this year was much easier. I actually unexpectedly looked forward to it. That year in 2016 I was scared and nervous and unexpectedly from that moment have desired to do that again, & for that, I am so thankful! I wasn't nervous this year and even had an amazing partner, thanks Lindsey!! We had so much fun together. 

We all had a blast planning and getting it all together! I love how God will give you a task when he thinks you're ready not when you decide you are & from that you receive an enormous unexpected blessing!

The past 2 years all 4 of us shared a classroom at VBS & this year we shared the stage!

Working as directors this year was so much fun with these ladies, not only have we grown closer as friends and women in Christ this past year, we also became passionate about something together. With new ideas for the coming YEARS. We can't wait to get started planning!

 


We had stressful moments! The devil even showed up on night 1 as the DVD didn't work and we had to youtube all the things and even use a few phone hotspots to get it all going. But in the end, we got it all worked out and won (thanks Brandon B). We had 3 men saved during VBS, we had record numbers with 80 children on Wednesday night! We had over 60 adults show up and help or just come to fellowship which is so great to see those there to support and be apart of VBS! 

We even had some fun behind the scenes... the face of VBS had a fun scene set up each night!

 

Our kitchen crew cooked amazing meals before we even got started for the night thank you, ladies, for getting there early so we could all eat beforehand! Thank you to each and every volunteer that passed out flyers, helped decorate, served, taught a station, crew leaders, those that took care of the nursery, and those that came to fellowship, each and everyone one of you that prayed for VBS, & to all the parents who brought your children so we could share the amazing love of Jesus with them!! I love that our church always shows up when the doors are open to help!! I really wish we got a full stage picture of all the kids and workers, but maybe next year we can! In the meantime, this will have to work!!


 

Thank you to Lindsey, Joy, & Lacey! You ladies rock we make a great team and I look forward to taking on VBS with you next year!

 

In case you wondered the girls won the offering challenge so… someone had to get silly string!

 

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April 27, 2019, 10:00 AM

He Listens...



by Ashley Cruce

So many times I get in writers block I guess i will call it… I can’t think of words to type, words that anyone wants to read. Then I realize that’s my fault! I haven’t prayed about what God wanted me to share, or I’ve just not been in a good place myself.   Not a good place meaning… I’ve missed 9 days of my daily devotion and I can totally tell! Why have I not had something to write… because I’ve not been spending time with God like I should… because I haven’t prayed about it…because I haven’t listened. Then when I fall & ask…..He is there to pick me up, just like always.

When we stray from a daily routine it messes us up… or at least it does me!  My day starts out all wrong… I haven’t done my devotion each morning as I planned & I haven’t journaled my prayers.. I’ve said them! But it’s not the same, I feel like they become more real once I put them on paper! I even took it with me to work with full intentions of doing it at lunch.  I made an excuse as to why I couldn’t. Why do we do this? Make excuses not to do things we enjoy? Instead I watch a TV show or read a book that is not my devotion.

I’ve been reading  Draw the Circle The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, for the 2nd  time! I swear I get something different out of it each time.  When I started this time I took my prayer journal and drew a big circle & wrote down things in my life from friends, family, events coming & so much more and each day (that I didn’t miss my devotion) I wrote about some of them as I prayed, but more importantly each day I have prayed silently or aloud in the car while I’m alone about “My Circle” something about writing those things down & adding to them each day/ week as things show up in my life that need prayer has been different for me.  Writing those things down, some I don’t even know why God laid them on my heart while others I knew the need, or the why. This round thru this prayer challenge has been different, “My Circle” is larger, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve added new things to it. My point to all this, so I haven’t done my devotion in 9 days honestly…. but I have prayed and whether I wrote the prayer, said the prayer aloud, or silently prayed, God hears us. Did I miss writing those down, yes. Today (4-27) as I picked fish book back up, it’s like God spoke to me and wanted me to share this that was on my heart, no more “writers block”, I don’t know what to write.

 

He listens to us just like we listen to him.  

God may not have answered some of my prayers YET, but it doesn’t mean he’s not listening. I love being able to look back each day and see those prayers written down.  The last time I did this daily devotion God answered so loudly & I knew the answer was yes before it was ever said, that prayer was answered almost 3 months after I prayed it, I have since went back to that prayer journal and marked that prayer as answered! Just because God doesn’t answer doesn’t mean the answer is NO. It means not yet!

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February 18, 2019, 6:00 AM

More Gratitude, Less Attitude...



by Ashley Cruce

I can’t tell you how many times each week/day/month I find the bad in a situation instead of the good.

Gratitude-the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

I read my devotion last Friday morning and it was like it slapped me in the face. Its title was “Not Just an Attitude”  in Find Rest which you can find here, it’s been a great devotional and I hate to see it end on the 60th day. It was about transforming our negativity into gratitude. There were examples on how to change this and make it a happier thought or action.

I shared with a group of women on Facebook this example in my life; I walked into work and someone says “ Good Morning!” instead of saying Good morning back, I said “ I don’t know if I would call it good.” She was being pleasant, maybe her morning wasn't good either but she didn't spill her bad morning on me as I walked in the door, instead she greeted me in a way I should have responded with "Good morning."  It’s not the sweet little girl who hates all the socks in her sock drawer and fusses about at least 10 pair each morning and you (all fingers are pointed directly at me with the use of you) just want her to put on some socks, or about the 4 cars that pulled out in front of you or the car that let 4 people pull out of Shipley’s (while the light was green) when you were already running a tad late hoping to get to work with enough time to clock in before 8 AM, it’s about the fact that she said Good Morning and  I didn’t!! Instead I should have been grateful for the facts that; I made it to work with plenty of time to clock in, safely, & that no matter how upset those socks made that sweet little girl she gave me a big hug when I dropped her off at daycare!

I struggle finding the good in things when something in its own isn’t going “good” for me and it is so easy to see the bad and to find the bad, of course that’s what the devil wants, he doesn’t want us to rejoice in the small victories of the day!

 

This is a little excerpt from the book:

“Transforming gratitude is not always easy, but it is a choice any of us can make.  The beautiful irony is that when we work to practice this choice, we discover that we don’t have to work hard at cheerfulness and joy in life because now they come much more naturally.”

 

It is extremely hard to transform a moment we call bad, planned or just horrible into a moment of Gratitude.  It’s so easy to put ourselves in a bad mood and let that attitude shine (at least for me), I dwell on the bad at times and it honestly just makes my day worse, which makes nothing good.  It makes me look back and wonder what goodness did i miss out on that let someone else determine my happiness; whether it was the traffic, work stress, the bad morning at home, overslept or whatever else puts you in a bad mood, find the gratitude in those moments.  

Instead of my usual, I plan to try and lose the attitude and find more gratitude in my daily life, I’m sure this will be a trial and error moment in my life but I know the blessing that will flow from me making these changes!.  It will be a challenge for me that’s for sure, I have a negative attitude and complain a lot more than I’d honestly like to admit but it’s the truth and the truth will set your free… so now you know!

Join me if you struggle like I do and let’s practice less attitude and mode gratitude.   

 

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February 10, 2019, 7:00 PM

Love Lifted Me (Women's Time-Out)



by Ashley Cruce

 

Last weekend was our Women’s Time Out event, and if you missed it you missed out on some great fellowship with the wonderful ladies of our church.

 

 

I had the opportunity to share a message about Rest that God laid on my heart months ago, that he had been preparing me for back in September, although I had no clue that was part of his plan. It’s funny how God works and prepares you for things like this when you don’t see it then at that moment but then when the moment happens you know exactly where it all began.

As Saturday February 2nd rolled around, we already had some things on schedule, Lauren had a program at 3 pm & Play Practice from 8-10… in order to swing this I had to ask for help with Lauren. The events of that morning didn’t go as planned and Satan did everything in his power to bring guilt upon me for doing what the Lord wanted me to do and give the message he helped me prepare. I was upset & crying and until a sweet prayer was said for me that completely calmed me down from the moment words were spoken, I knew at that moment no matter what God had planned for me that day as I shared my heart that it was exactly where he wanted me to guilt no more.

When Becky asked me to speak, I thought “Me?” Why would God want me to speak to women I teach littles? But I also knew God wanted this for me… but it went great, my voice may have been shaky at first as I saw the women sitting in front of me, it all got better. It wasn’t as hard as I thought.

There were 4 sessions to choose from Service or Rest and Worry or Self Worth. We enjoyed the wonderful music, then broke out into 2 different sessions while enjoying coffee & donuts.

 

I received a blessing from speaking, & attending the Self- Worth Class and the music. The food was fabulous and the fellowship was even better. We as women need this time with other women it helps us grow in Christ and it gives me insight on things as well and seeing how we all process things and cope & deal. Hearing other women’s hearts on the topics you struggle with or just think you can do better with is so rewarding. I think it’s something we should do more often as women of the church. Becky did a wonderful job putting this together and for that i’m so very thankful. I am thankful that God revealed so much to me as i studied my topic of Rest. Teaching Sunday school and Wednesday night church I feel like I miss out on so much at times and this time of fellowship was such a blessing time! I look forward to next time.

 

If you missed this event, I encourage you to come next time (there will be a next time) we already discussed how much we enjoyed the fellowship. And did I mention the food? The pasta was so delicious!!

 

Sometimes we don’t see God’s plan until we are standing in a room sharing our heart with other women, oh what a joy that was to see his plan for that day for me and how far he has brought me and my journey over the last few years.

As i studied my topic this verse hit me hard;

“Come to me all you who are weary & burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28


Thank you Becky for the wonderful idea and an amazing way to spend Saturday morning! I can’t wait until we do it again!!

 
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January 15, 2019, 7:00 AM

Little Eyes, Little Ears...



by Ashley Cruce


The other day as I put the "Look Up Child" – Lauren Daigle CD in my car and I heard the sweet voice of Lauren singing EVERY SINGLE WORD to EVERY SINGLE SONG on that CD, and my heart was overjoyed.  I love Lauren Daigle music myself, the words of her songs, they touch my heart, they make me think and to hear the voice of my 5 year old little girl sing the words of very powerful songs each and every day as we ride in the car.  I want to cry happy tears of course, and if she only knew what those words mean and the power behind them.
Then as we are almost home she says to me, “ Momma what is your favorite song on the CD?” and I said  “Everything” then Lauren asked “Why?” and I told her exactly why, we’ve always been truthful and I have always told her like it is ,so to speak, and I said, “Because the words she says here “When I am lost you find me, When I am weak you are mighty” has such a powerful meaning,  to me and when you get older you will understand just what it means.” Her sweet voice says, “Yeah Momma I don’t know all of that stuff yet, but I sure do know that all of these songs are beautiful because they are about God & Jesus so one day when I’m a big girl I will know.”
 

I was driving down the road as she said this to me, tears pouring down my eyes that my little 5-year-old daughter knows how important Jesus is to her! I can’t tell you how many times I think to myself, am I doing things right?  Can I do more? Does she see all of my failures? Does she understand what I tell her? Then she says this!!
Of course she sees me fail, but it’s not about that, it’s about what they see when we excel & how we show thanks for that!! Who do we thank?  We should be thanking Jesus for that blessing or safety and so forth. Do I show her that always? No, I try but I fail at that too. It’s our nature to fail,  it’s who we are, we are not perfect, we can’t be, God placed one perfect man on this Earth for us alone!
I doubt myself each day and then God always steps up and shows me he’s so much more powerful than me and shows me Jesus through Lauren’s eyes and for that I’m so very thankful!
Teaching the little ones at church is my calling and this same thing happens each and every Sunday or Wednesday and I am so amazed at what they remember & hearing them tell me the story instead of me is so rewarding! They listen, they watch every single move we make, & this moment in the car with her made me want to to do even better. I want to set a better example for her because those Little Eyes & Little Ears take it all in!!

 

 

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December 17, 2018, 1:00 PM

Ditching the Holiday Stress



by Ashley Cruce

 

My phone dings, its another thing to add to my calendar in this busy holiday season. Another night not at home, another night that my "to do" list doesn't get done. It's part of life.

This time of year we sing songs about Peace on Earth but if you are like me and my family you feel no peace in this season. It's more about what's on the "to do" list, who you haven't shopped for, what to get the grandparents, nephews, nieces, & aunts, oh and don't forget your children's teachers, oh and the dirty Santa gift!! What to buy all of these people!!?

We have so many extra things added this time of year on top of that Holiday stress!! We shouldn't be stressing this time of year, we should be thankful and enjoying each other, thankful and celebrating the 1st Christmas gift, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! It's so easy to get caught in the hustle & bustle of the holidays and let the plans we add to our calendar each week stress us out & not talk about the true meaning of Christmas with our child. I am thankful Lauren knows, she talks about it daily and I am so very grateful for that, but I should make more time during this time of year to talk with her about the days leading up to Jesus' Birthday. I try, I really do, but I fail! I had a plan to read a little bit from the Bible each day leading up to Christmas telling her the story of Jesus's birth and I haven't done it once (thankful for the Advent Calendar my mom picked up at Mardel, I have been able to do it some.), but I wanted to sit down with her and read & I have been so wrapped up in this busy season, I have not made time for it all!

I often think we are spending too much time worrying about what to get everyone that we truly miss out on the true meaning and special season this is? I like getting thoughtful gifts like the rest of you...but the stress of worrying about the gift & what to buy or how much time you've got until this party, that party, or this Christmas. We burden ourselves with this and it eventually stresses us all out or at least it does me!

This year was different for me, we had a trip for Brandon's work at the very beginning of December that honestly wore me out ( I had tons of fun and it was great!) but the days following our return have been full of plans and things to do. This week when I looked at my calendar and realized the things I still had on my "to do" list- I WANTED TO CRY!! Instead I prayed and took a moment to thank God for his grace, the only person that knows things didn't go the way I wanted is me, that sweet little girl has no clue that I forgot the activity advent calendar today, or that we planned to make gingerbread houses and it was broken when I got it out the box so I switched the day around! She doesn't know these things! Why should I stress about the things that no one knows but me?? So Thursday night as I picked up my Christmas cards from the store tithe I made on Thanksgiving night (that have been ready for 3 weeks) I decided it's okay, I will not allow myself to be stressed over this season of life. It will all be okay!

So how do you enjoy and truly reflect on what Christmas truly means and not let the stress of the holidays get it your way for finding peace, if you have any other suggestions please share... but this is what we will be doing the rest of this holiday season:

  • We will be saying "no" to things hat don't bring us joy.

  • We will be doing our chocolate advent Calendar from Mardel.

  • We will be Making Jesus a Birthday Cake.

  • We are going to bake cookies as a family & take them to share with friends and family.

  • We will be hosting Christmas at our house this year to give us a break from traveling!

  • We are just going to enjoy each other, watch some of our favorite Christmas movies, and order pizza.

  • We are going to take a family trip & just enjoy each other.

If you are going through a stressful holiday time...

RELAX.

BREATHE.

REST.

Enjoy & love the people around you!

 

Enjoy your Christmas & don't stress about the upcoming events, find joy in all the things & remember the true meaning this Christmas is to celebrate the greatest gift of all... the first Christmas gift... JESUS!

 

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November 8, 2018, 9:05 AM

Don't Give Up


As I read my morning devotion this morning titled “Don’t Give Up”(from the Annie Downs 100 Days to Brave Book) I was burdened to share something with you.

I struggle daily with so many things that I could give up on, working out, my early morning routine meaning more sleep & no quiet time.  Buy for what why give up on these things that bring joy! When we don’t give up we gain so much more than we ever dreamed! When we give a task our all  what happens? You get so much more & you only get out what you put in to something.

As i sat this morning and did my daily routine that I do every morning! I’m so thankful, grateful, & blessed that I didn’t give up when it was hard to crawl out of bed early for quiet time!

Had I not started this journey in January I wouldn’t have been able to reap the benefit of reading the words written in this journal by Lauren. Last night as I cleaned the kitchen she sat right beside her dad and asked him how to spell every single word! Why? Because one night I shared what I did daily with her by writing down things I am thankful for each day! Because I didn’t give up, she found something she enjoyed doing! She doesn’t do this every night, but she does it often and what a blessing it is to see her HEART on paper of the things she’s grateful for.

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:6‬ ‭NASB‬‬

 

I never imagined she would watch me & follow me in this simple task i started just show me goodness in each day even when they don’t go as planned or if they are just a complete mess!

My heart exploded with joy this morning as I saw those words on paper, God was listed first! When I struggle each day not knowing if I’m doing the right thing as a mom and I saw that, I knew I was wrong.

I’m doing something right!

I’m thankful, grateful, & blessed that i never gave up on those hard mornings! I’m thankful for a God that showed me a new morning routine & a sweet little girl watching my every move!

I can’t give up, she’s watching me!

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October 22, 2018, 2:23 PM

Not our plans but His!


by Ashley Cruce   

As I prayed over what God would have me to write over the last few weeks, I found myself with nothing. Then as I sat in prayer the other night all i could think of was this verse, I kept going back and forth with Jeremiah 29:11 (one of my favorite verses).

 

 

 

It’s a well known verse but As I read the chapter of Jeremiah 29 I had no idea what the surrounding verses said.I encourage you to as well, what you will find is that sometimes welfare and hope aren’t what we think they should be. This chapter was written to people in exile.  

They had been ripped from their, homes, children, families, & didn’t know where they were. They weren’t really in what I call a hopeful situation.  

 

It’s hard to be hopeful in a bad situation, I don’t know about you but I struggle with this. It’s what God wants he wants us to have hope and faithfulness no matter what obstacle life throws at us!

When you read those verse and see what this was truly about it made me think about God’s plans for me and my life! We don’t know what that plans are. We could find out in 10, 20, 50 years, or we could find out tomorrow.  We don’t know!

 

     

Sure it would be great to know now but that’s just not how it works, everything is in God’s time it’s all apart of his plan! Sometimes his plan doesn’t go as we plan or think it should and it’s so hard to understand (at least for me it is!).  I’ve found myself asking why is this happening as I watched my baby girl cry in pain from a ruptured appendix at age 3 that I could do nothing about… this verse came to mind then as it has many times when i questioned God’s plan! I still am not sure why that was part of God’s plan for my 3 year old baby girl but I know that God got us thru it because we relied on him we prayed over her & God is good!

I don’t know what the future holds or me or you. Neither do you. We’re constantly going through life making plans and setting goals (or at least I am). That’s great! But deep down, we all have fears about the future or at least most of us do.
 

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October 3, 2018, 12:00 AM

Welcome to the Calvary Connection


Well Hello!  Welcome to the Calvary Connection!

by Ashley Cruce

 

I love to read & love a good blog, I hope that you find my words pleasing to your heart, maybe they will speak to you.  I don’t know what God has planned for me to share with you here. I have been praying about this since I was asked. I love to share things that speak to me on social media daily & will do the same with this outlet as well.

I hope that whatever God has planned for me thru this will bless you as much as it does me sharing my heart with you. Enjoy!

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Comments

10-03-2018 at 8:56 PM
Joy
Less than 100 days to be brave!! Proud of you for stepping out Ashley! Love you!
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October 3, 2018, 12:00 AM

Do You Need Quiet Time?


by Ashley Cruce

Do you set aside a time in the day to pray or read?
I struggled for years to have quiet time, I
had no idea how i would find time to read the Bible, a devotion, or pray.... my life seemed so busy.

 But truth be told I made time to do the things “I” wanted.

 


 


At first I was lucky if I got 15 minutes in , over the last year quiet time has become something my heart craves each morning! Some days I get in 30 minutes some days it’s an hour.  Every morning is different but always involves a cup of coffee (and lots of French Vanilla Creamer), usually a good devotional, my journal, & a book.
I curl up with a blanket it what i call my “cozy corner” it’s just a corner in my living room that I use only for my quiet prayer time it just feels right.  When i started my morning quiet time I never used this little chair in my house, I felt like God was telling me to make this space for him, the 1st day I sat down to enjoy my morning there instead of at the kitchen table, it just felt right... like I was suppose to start each day right there with that cup of creamer/coffee and God. From that moment it’s been my spot each and every morning.

What started off as just a time of me writing in my prayer journal whatever God laid on my heart that morning, sometimes with tear filled eyes, sometimes names came to me and I had no idea why God laid them on my heart so I just wrote their name down that’s all. Those mornings have turned into 4 morning devotionals, 7 books that have are helping me grow personally & spiritually.  I am so grateful I got up and gave it all a try a year ago. My quiet time has been a true blessing to me and continues to help me each and everyday. To be honest I wasn’t much of a morning person. I was the person that knew exactly how long i needed in the mornings and set the alarm for that time but after about a month it wasn’t just that I wanted to get up have my morning devotional routine “ I needed it!”.

There are some mornings that don’t go as planned and i just have to give myself Grace for not doing my normal routine & that’s okay!  Life happens the alarm is snoozed or we forget to set it & it messes up the plan for the day, don’t let it get you down find another time that day to make that time up, I’ve done it during my lunch break before!!

Why did I wait so long to have a morning devotional routine? Why was I so scared that I wouldn’t have enough time do what I needed to each morning that I couldn’t trust God to provide for me? Thankfully, He is gracious. He knows me, & He knows my journey.
I encourage you, if you don’t have a regular quality time set aside each day to spend with the LORD, make it happen. You will be surprised at the results.

I challenge you to wake up 30 Minutes or an hour earlier for one week and enjoy a cup of coffee or a Dr. Pepper (whatever you prefer) & spend some time with God whether it’s a good devotional, a prayer journal, a good book, or just a chat with God letting your heart lead you & see how full your heart becomes in just one week. That’s all it took for me... 1 week and I was hooked to a new routine that made each day much better. You might even turn into a morning person, like I did!

I’m currently reading 100 Days to be Brave by Annie Downs with some of my favorite ladies & it’s been an eye opener already.


 

Here are a few of my favorite books & devotional links below:
Books:
* Chase the Lion- Mark Batterson
* The  Circle Maker-Mark Batterson
* What Women Fear-Angie Smith
* Grace not Perfection- Emily Ley
* The Miracle Morning-Hal Elrod
* Praying Circles around your Children- Mark Batterson

Devotionals:
* Jesus Calling
* Draw the Circle the 40 Day Prayer Challenge- Mark Batterson
* 100 Days to be Brave- Annie Downs
* Every Single Woman's Devotional: 30 Days of Strategic Prayer to Change Your Life


 

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