Faith

Uncomfortable

In life, I think it’s safe to say that we like to be in a relative state of comfort, am I right?

Uncomfortable

We don’t particularly enjoy being pushed too far outside of our comfort zones and we don’t care for awkwardness. I totally get it. As someone who is super socially awkward (#homebody), I totally understand the appeal of living within my comfort zone and staying in my own little bubble. But every so often, I find that I am reminded that this isn’t necessarily the way in which God calls us to live. He calls us to both love and live life boldly for Him and for His kingdom.

All too often, I find that I can be quite stubborn and set in my introverted ways. Maybe some of you might feel this way as well. My current reality is that I am working full-time as a public school teacher while also taking classes online part-time. Soon, I’m going to be adding volunteer work on top of both of those things. So basically I’m an introvert and a workaholic. For most of my formative years in the church when I was younger, church was basically something I did on Sundays and really sort of just went through the motions. For far too long, I viewed community as something that needed me to be open and vulnerable around others and that just didn’t seem like something that would work for me. But then, just over two years ago, I felt the Lord whispering to me that He wanted me to take not just a step outside of my comfort zone, but a giant leap outside of it.

He told me that He wanted me to leave the comfort zone of the church in which I had attended since I was three years old. I wasn’t in the habit or practice of regularly praying or speaking with God at this point, so truth be told, that whisper was probably a bit more like a yell. I had been deaf to the voice of God for a long time, but I heard Him then. And I listened. I obeyed….

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Faith

For some time now (as in, the last two weeks), I have been reflecting, wondering, and praying over what my “word” for 2017 would be.

Now, I know choosing a word for the year is a very blog-y and social media thing, but I truly love the idea behind having a “theme” to help set your focus and intention for the year ahead. It can be hard to remember and to fully live according to that theme throughout the year, but it’s definitely something worth striving for.

Last year in 2016, my word was abide and I think it fit me well for where I was at this time last year. I was coming out of 2015, a year that completely changed my life from the losses of my maternal grandmother and aunt less than 48 hours apart to my decision to take my career in a new direction. I was in the midst of a season in which I felt the indescribable peace and joy of Jesus’ presence in my life so deeply and abiding in His undeniable presence and love in that season was such an incredibly beautiful place to be.

But as I’ve written in the past few weeks, I began to realize towards the end of 2016 that things start to look and feel different when you’ve “come out” of that immediate season of grief. While I certainly am not “over” the six losses that I experienced, the grief and the pain have gotten significantly easier. Now that life has returned to a sort of state of equilibrium, how then do I continue to root myself in God and abide in Him?…

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He Walks Before

Happy New Year, everyone!

There has been a plethora of 2016 recap posts and 2017 resolutions posts in the blogging world this past week, it’s come to be expected at this time of year.

2016 was an interesting year.

The year began with the losses dear family members, my paternal grandmother and our sweet Nellie in January. The New Year was a ending of sorts on a chapter of my life in which the Lord rescued me, guided me, and restored me. In the time between December 2013 to January 2016, the Lord called six of my family members home to Him. He called me to step out and make a way for myself in the church and led me to a new church home. He tested my faith through the students in my classroom, through the disease that my dad carries in his body, and through calling two of my closest relatives – my maternal grandmother and my Aunt Shelia – home to Him just 39 hours apart from each other.

Though this season came to a close in January 2016, I spent the remainder of the year wrestling in many ways with my next steps. My life had been changed, that much I knew. As I stood in the midst of a world that was falling apart around me, I knew I had experienced the amazing and unbelievable peace that could only come from the presence of Christ Jesus. The barriers that I had around my heart had come tumbling down and I was finally able to feel Him more fully and more profoundly than ever before in my life. I knew how to worship Him and sing His praises in that season because I had just seen firsthand what leaning into Him could look and feel like in the midst of turmoil. But once the dust had settled? Where I did I go from there?…

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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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