Faith

Change // I Will Follow

Change is hard.

I know, you’re probably like, Hey Ashley, way to state the obvious there.

There’s good change, of course, and there’s also bad changes. There’s also change that you’re just not quite sure how to feel about.

I find myself in that camp more often than not.

#allthefeels.

When it comes to spiritual change, also known as spiritual growth, that’s one that is particularly difficult to process. Spiritual growth makes you finally stop and look at that reflection in the mirror and take a long hard look at your life and your relationship with God. It forces you to celebrate the areas where you have grown and acknowledge the areas where you are still in desperate need of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Lately, I have been feeling a little bit stagnant within my church community and have been wrestling with a lot of feelings about it. I’ve been attending this church for just over two years and God definitely brought me to that place at the perfect time….

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Identity Crisis

I want this space to be a place of joy. A place for encouragement and dare I hope, a little inspiration.

Writing brings me joy. It centers me in ways that I never expected and lets me process all the things that my mind tends to jumble up into one giant, well, mess. I only wish that I had realized this penchant for writing words sooner.

I’ve rebelled for so long against the idea of sharing anything overly personal on this blog for awhile now and I don’t even know if it was a conscious decision. Sure, I’ve shared of the grief that I experienced in Fall of 2015 when I lost my grandmother and my aunt but not much else. This blog was quickly turning into a blog that was centered around grief and loss and I had skipped right on over the “getting to know you” stuff. If you scroll back through my archives, it’s almost laughable at how random and sporadic my posts were.

When I was in the midst of that season of loss, I can’t tell you how many moments of joy and gratitude there were between me and God. It was truly beautiful. So many of the promises that He made in Scripture were being played out in my life and for the first time, I felt true joy in the Lord and in His amazing strength. I was so overcome that I wanted to write about it. I wanted to share that with others but I began to try and do that in glossy, picture-perfect ways. I wanted my blog to look like so many of the other blogs out there and share things the way that so many others did. But in doing that, I skipped over one of the most important parts.

The journey….

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Looking for Clarity

I don’t know that I really know how to write for this blog anymore.

I thought that I did for the better part of the past year, but here I find myself again. Consistently struggling to find the words to write for this space so that it doesn’t just become another idle corner of the internet.

When I initially entered the “blogging world”, I wrote about my favorite books, movies, and TV shows and I learned what I know about social media and writing on the internet from contributing and running fansites. But as time went on, I came to see that I wasn’t necessarily being sustained or fulfilled by doing all of that. I created this particular blog as an “escape” from the pop culture world and thought I’d just keep it as an online journal of sorts. But my posts were few and far between and I came close to deleting the site on many occasions. Later in 2014, when God really began to change my heart and my life, I realized that this outlet could be a good outlet for my walk with Christ and for sharing the things that God brings into my life and used to teach me.

My life at that time was going through some major changes. From late 2013 to January 2016, it felt as though my life was experiencing earthquake after earthquake. Each family member that we lost shook things up, crumbling away the misguided and detrimental parts of my life so that God could refine and reshape what was left standing. Each wave of grief was like an aftershock, molding things even further….

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In Between

You may have noticed this space has been a little sparse lately.

To be perfectly honest, friends, I haven’t wanted to write here for some time and that has been so hard. This blog is like a sanctuary to me. In many ways, my heart and my soul have been bared in this space over the past year as God both wrecked me and restored me.

Since I began to blog about things more personal, rather than the superficial pop culture articles I wrote back when I first started blogging all those years ago, I’ve learned something about myself.

It’s really hard for me to write on a whim.

As much as I wish I could pop out post after post that both inspires and encourages, I just can’t. Try as I might, I just can make this space look like the rest of the lifestyle blogs out there who have seemed to master weaving their faith together with topical/promotional posts.

When the Lord moves me, I write. When He teaches me, I write.

It’s not that the Lord hasn’t been teaching me in this absence. On the contrary, He has been working so hard in me these last few weeks.

This school year is hard. The Lord has entrusted 16 children into my care this year and oh, how their needs are overwhelming. I long to have all of the answers and somehow find the magical intervention and visual aid that will solve the developmental and behavioral struggles we face.

I am weary. By Friday afternoon, I am lucky to be able to string coherent thoughts together. Hence why the post is a little on the ramble-y side….

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What the Mountain Teaches

What the Mountain Teaches

For me, going to the mountains has always felt like going home. My heart and my soul just work a little easier when my body is breathing in the fresh, mountain air. My mind eases it’s racing and my lungs exhale a little deeper.

I consider myself wholly blessed to have been able to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for four years of my young adult life. I attended Appalachian State University, just a stone’s throw away from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Grandfather Mountain, in Boone, North Carolina. I’d gaze up to the tops of the surrounding mountain peaks as I walked to my classes and I’d sled down many a hill when the snow kept classes from being held.

Everything just seems to be a little clearer, easier even, when on mountain time.

A few weeks ago over Labor Day weekend, this special sense of relaxation found me just in time; amid a sea of assignment due dates and a million back to school tasks for my classroom. This choice was my own, to be both a teacher and a student, but the hustle and bustle of this season still takes me by surprise two years in. A year of pursuing a master’s degree in social media marketing followed by my choice to pursue a much better suited career as a child life specialist. Two years of wearing two hats at once. For most teachers, back to school season means long hours preparing for your new class but when you’ve got end of semester papers out the wazoo it all gets overwhelming very quickly. I become chained to my laptop and burdened by the hands on the clock that still have not found a way to slow down to let me get more done. I worked on my eight page paper right up to the hour before we hopped in the car to leave, hitting submit with a sigh of relief so that I could go and throw some clothes in a bag. As we inched closer to our destination, I mentally prepared myself to disconnect. The second we turn off of Interstate 77, our cell signal and access to the outside world disappears. And on this particular day, my entire being exhaled.

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