I saw the film, The Passion of the Christ for the first time in college. I remember the credits rolling and the entire theater was silent. Reverent, in fact. My roommates and I drove home in silence and went to bed without saying a word. All I could see as I lay down to sleep that night were Jesus’ eyes. Bold; full of love and power.

Since then I’ve always wanted to watch The Passion again alone, devotionally. This Thursday night, after I coaxed Finn to bed and cuddled underneath my Baylor blanket, I watched in tears and with gratitude Hollywood’s depiction of my Lord’s bloody death.

Some observations:

  • The opening scene is in the Garden. Jesus is begging God in his humanness, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” He was born for this moment; he knew he had to die to accomplish his goal on earth. But he still embraces his fear and asks God to change His mind. I’ve always related to that kind of praying.
  • People like the Pharisees who pride themselves in doing good things and earning religious gold stars are Jesus’ enemies. Jesus didn’t fit into their ideal of who the Messiah should be. They expected him to be haughty, kingly, wealthy and bedazzled as they were. But he came as a servant, a carpenter born in a trough. He offered wine at a wedding, healing for the pariah and grace for the prostitute. So he must die.

Christ Jesus, who being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness…he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! (Phil. 2: 6-8)

  • His death was not Sunday School clean. It doesn’t fit nicely on a VBS felt board. It was brutal, dirty, vicious slaughter.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53: 5)photo-2

  • His momma was there through it all. Mary is my hero. She endured the shame of claiming to be a pregnant virgin at the inception of Jesus’ life and endured the horror of watching him mocked and abused at its end.
  • All other gods in all other religions are dead. Jesus is alive. He is life.

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he is risen!

(Luke 24: 5,6)

He who was dead lives. Why do we, who are alive, often live as though we’re dead?

Hope you embrace life this Easter!photo


Spring Comes

Spring is blooming on a barren winter

See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

And streams in the wasteland.

This passage from Isaiah 43:19 is like honey; deliciously sweet to my soul. I get the shivers when I close my eyes and think of the power in these words. I’ve witnessed them. These truths sustained me during a wasteland in college and I’m reclaiming them in this current wilderness.

I Am

This “name of God” always confused me as a kid…and frustrated me as an English teacher. You can’t use a personal pronoun and a “to be” verb phrase as a proper name. It just doesn’t make sense.

At some point in my adult life, this short phrase/name of the Father morphed into one of my favorites. The Great I Am. It’s like He’s responding to all our self-conscious, doubting, frantic questions with a simple answer, “I Am.”

Who is the One that redeemed me from myself?

Who is making me new?

Who is it that orchestrated all the details of this adventure story called my life?

Who is in control?

Who loves me when I’m unloveable?

Who is my Father?

Who is our Healer?

Who is whispering truth into my ear?

When life is confusing and painful, who is the One I really need?

Perhaps He’s even the answer to some tough questions. I’ll let you create them for yourself. Our God is a mystery; even His name is enigmatic.

I love how this label of God is active. It’s not past or future; it’s now. Present. I believe that’s how God interacts with time. Everything is happening presently. This is probably why it seems His timetable and mine never quite coincide. I’m impatient, and if I had my way, Finn would have said “mama” yesterday, the doctor would have arrived several hours sooner, healing would have come a year ago, and my Starbucks beverage would be steaming at the drive thru just a few minutes earlier.

I’m thankful He is “I Am-ing” in my life, whether I recognize the everyday miracles or not.

Roomie Reunion this weekend. These girls are the best!

Roomie Reunion this weekend. These girls are the best!

Silly Aunt Jane came to visit all the way from Houston!

Silly Aunt Jane came to visit all the way from Houston!

I am Martha

I never really liked the story of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. I think it’s because Mary is the imitable one, and I know deep down I’m more of a Martha. If you’re unfamiliar, Jesus and his buds stopped by Martha’s house on a journey. Mary, her sister, “sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he said.” Martha, however, “was distracted by the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:38-42). Someone’s gotta prepare the food and clean the floor, right?

Today’s Jesus Calling entry reminded me of my Martha-dom.

Do not skimp on our time together. Resist the clamor of tasks waiting to be done. You have chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from you.

I’ve been “skimping” on listening-to-Jesus-time. As I look back to Christmas, I think I was even too “distracted by the preparations” that I missed my own personal, intimate devotion with the Jesus of whose birth I celebrate.

When I think of this type of devotion, I hearken back to my most intimate moments with God. I was on the second floor of WMU dormitory…burnt popcorn and perfume wafting through the halls. My freshman self closed the old wooden door to the prayer closet, flicked off the light, and knelt on a musty pillow to pray. Sometimes crying, sometimes smiling, sometimes listening and oftentimes accidentally falling asleep.

I need this kind of closet time with Jesus. I recognize this because fifteen minutes ago, as I placed Finn down into his crib and carefully, silently shut the door to his nursery, I began searching for the next task to check off my list and the next surface to clean before I hear him whimper awake. Instead, I should take at least a bit of this alone time to be Mary. To listen to Him and revel in His presence.

“Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Here I am, typing while I should be listening. I’m going to go choose what is better.

Blurry Eyed

This weekend was our bi-annual (does that mean twice a year?) Roomie Reunion. Jane flew in and met us Okies for some yummy food, shopping, baking, a barbell class, baby kissing, stinky diaper changing, chair Zumba, an oven on fire and lots of laughter.

Saturday morning I drove north on I35 to Shawnee to meet the girls at Al’s Zumba class. Her salsa-ing hips are off the charts and she’s helping loads of women get off the couch. Steven Curtis Chapman’s Beauty Will Rise cd (Thanks, Jill!) played while rain splashed across my windshield. If you don’t know Steven Curtis Chapman’s story, you need to research it. Wow; if that guy can sing, “You are faithful. When You give and when You take away; even then still Your name is faithful,” then so can I. So I did. I worshiped throughout the 45 minutes of my drive. I sang loudly with deep conviction that despite my confusion, God is good. I sang softly through blurry eyes as I cried for the losses of my friends and family; for their disappointments and heartbreaks. I cried for Finn. I don’t cry this way often, but it certainly feels good. I think it’s therapeutic because I’m crying to Someone. I’m sharing my heartache with my Savior, not the dashboard. I can’t imagine crying and feeling alone like no one hears or cares about my tears. I arrived at the Shawnee Municipal Building on 10th and Bell rejuvenated and ready to shake my tail-feather. It was not a pretty sight.

Tonight I’m thankful for Steven Curtis Chapman’s unshakeable faith, Finn’s laugh, fairytale pumpkins and my beautiful college roommates.

Here’s the delish (not good for you) pumpkin cookie recipe we made tonight if you’re interested:

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 c. flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp clove

3/4 c. butter, softened

1 c. brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 15oz. can pumpkin puree

The Frosting:

1 brick (8 oz) softened reduced-fat cream cheese (not fat free!)

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. confectioner’s sugar

(Or buy a tub of cream cheese frosting like we did.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let cool before frosting.


Nana and Papa Rosell drove 15 hours round-trip this weekend to spend 24 with Finn.

In terms of family, Joey and I are filthy rich. Our account is teeming full to have such loving, godly parents on both sides. They have provided not only imitable marriages but have also schooled us in devoted parenting.

One simple lesson my mom taught me as a very young girl was that I have worth. When I was sad or got my feelings hurt at school, she would sit me on the bathroom counter and make me look in the mirror. Then I would recite, “My name is Ashley Dawn Rosell. Jesus loves me, and so does my mom.” I actually did this many times throughout my life, even in college sitting on my dorm room floor. As simple and silly as this sounds, it is a powerful reminder that I am loved. Finn will also be taught of his worth in Christ, the many ways he is loved and his irreplaceable role in our family.

Matthew 10:31 “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Go With Ka Rip!

The girls below us in West U apartment complex hated us. I don’t blame them, I would have too. We were loud…even at 3 in the morning. We made them cookies once as penance. They took them and politely shut the door.

The three women I lived with in college are the kind of friends I prayed for all my life. We are all so incredibly different, from personality to career to body type. We range in height from 6 foot 3 in heels to 5 foot 3 in flats. One dances and counsels, one plans and prays, one diagnoses and creates, and I write and train. We don’t compete because we all have something unique to bring to the friendship…and we can’t fit into each others’ clothes. Our relationship has been steady for over ten years. We’ve endured a lot of heartbreak, major life changes, fashion mishaps, great successes, and unexpected disappointments…together. Besides my stellar education (oh, and Joey), Taylor, Jane and Al are the best I took from OBU.

The girls and I have “reunioned” twice a year since 2005. Sometimes we allow the boys to tag along. Lindsey has become our fifth roommate, as she basically lived in our apartment anyway and recently moved back from Boston. She is an incredibly talented and professionally trained singer, a newly-certified Zumba instructor and a great mom to Jude. This weekend was one of those long-awaited, celebrated reunions. We enjoyed too much delicious food, never enough laughter, meaningful conversation, maybe a couple tears, and this time, two beautiful babies!

Click on first pic to view gallery.