Feeling Discouraged

I am feeling discouraged. I feel like everyone goes through periods of their life where they feel discouraged, uninspired, or just plain tired.

I am feeling that way. I look around at other women who have what I want, and I feel the heavy weight of comparison and judgement rearing its ugly head. As a human being, I feel as though I am a naturally jealous person. I am not proud of this fact, but jealousy, especially comparison, is something I have always struggled with since I was a child. I hate it. I especially hate it because not only am I comparing my life to someone else’s who also has her own struggle, but I also usually fallen short of whatever my standard of judgement is at that time: financial success, weight, beauty, or material wealth. I hate it. I hate it so much. I know I have a great deal to be thankful for (#blessed), which makes me feel even more guilty about my feelings.

The day I am describing was yesterday. Today is the comparison/jealousy/guilt hangover. During this time, I feel disillusioned and discouraged. Unmotivated. Exhausted with trying to keep up.

I am hoping this feeling will pass as my husband and I will be visiting our best friend in Chicago for an extended weekend. Not gonna lie, I need a vacation. I need a break from my life. I am hoping to come back refreshed, rejuvenated, and inspired. I am praying for peace, love, and understanding especially as I ache for things I do not have at this particular time in my life. I know God’s plan is perfect. God’s plan is THE PLAN for my life, and sometimes, I just have to be patient, to know I am loved, and that I will be used for his will if I keep my focus on him. Sometimes, I just have to let it be.

Cheers,

Ashlee

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Treasures in Heaven

Dear readers,

I have been going through a tough time lately, not just myself, but everyone in my family has been dealing with a lot of emotional baggage and grief. You see, my grandmother–the one who led me to Christ, showed us unconditional love, and has been the matriarch of our family— is dying.

Her death has been expected as she is older and has been in poor health for quite some time. She is ready to go meet the Lord and to be with her husband, my Poppy, who died in 2006. I have been praying for the Lord to take her quickly home because, for as much as I want her to get well, I know she wants to be with Poppy and with Jesus. I have been praying so hard all throughout the night for the past few days, and yet, my grandmother remains on this Earth. I find myself getting angry with God that He is allowing her to suffer and to remain when she doesn’t need to any longer. I’ve been getting SO angry, readers. Because I don’t want anyone I love to suffer or be in pain.

Fast forward to this morning as I am doing my bible study and having my quiet time. The study is going through the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount (very important lessons that I think many Christians can take for granted). I was thinking about treasures. Both treasures in Heaven and treasures that are worldly. It got me thinking about what I consider treasures—friends, family, pets, experiences, memories, travel, etc versus what the Lord considers to be treasures—-his kingdom, his Word, and people. My first thoughts are: Well, I think I have the people down, but do I really focus my heart on his word and his kingdom enough? For that matter, I focus a great deal of time and energy on my loved ones, but what about all the other people God has placed on this earth? Am I focusing on them? Am I loving them enough?

Readers, the answer is no. I am not. Then I got to thinking about my Grandmother. I am angry at God for letting her suffer here on Earth, but she knows Him. What about all those other people that don’t know Him? Am I not letting them suffer not only now but in eternity? Shouldn’t I take more care to spread Jesus and his love for us while on Earth to those who don’t know?

I’m not saying what I am feeling for my grandmother is wrong, but maybe I should pay more attention to others around me and love them in the same way, as Jesus has called us to do. I can then store up treasures for myself in Heaven and help the Holy Spirit plant seeds into others’ hearts so that they may know the kingdom and the father and the provider of all good things as well.

It won’t be easy. It might even be scary. But it is what we are called to do. I am not responsible for making Christians, but I can help plant seeds in others’ hearts through love.

How has God been speaking to you lately? Has it been through pain or something unexpected?

Cheers,

Ashlee

Self-shaming= More Rest and Him

Being a woman in this world can be tricky. We have more rights, as in basic human rights, than we have ever had in history at least in the modern, Western world. We have empowering fiction and real world female role models to include, but not limited to, Emma Watson, Malala Yousafzai, Michelle Obama, Wonder Woman, Daenerys Targaryen, and Princess Leia Organa.

However, with great power comes also great responsibility including responsibilities in the workplace and in the home/relationships. According to an article by BBC News, women work approximately 39 days more per year then men. And that is just in the workplace. In many families, women also perform more of the childcare and home-related work after their day jobs are over.

Honestly, I don’t mind working more than my husband, if in fact I do. What I do care about is my mind personally shaming me for taking a day off occasionally especially when I am not feeling well either physically or mentally. Taking days off are healthy. And normal. And not shameworthy.

And yet, anxiety rears its ugly head and attempts to convince me that I don’t need a day off/time off/break because I should be better than that. I should be unstoppable with unstoppable energy and motivation and drive. I should make time in my day for my day job, exercise, cleaning, cooking, relationships both human and animal, and creative pursuits while also getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. This doesn’t happen daily. This is a lot of stuff to cram in your day and expect to be happy (and well-adjusted).

I have decided no more. God did not bless me with a job, friends, a husband, pets, a home, and hobbies so that Satan can use these things against me to make me miserable, somewhat depressed, and ashamed. Feeling ashamed and feeling as though you have to be perfect in all areas of your life is NOT the gospel. Being perfect may be what Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat says you have to be as a modern woman. Being “on” might be what Satan tries to tell you that you have to be. But not Jesus. Not my Lord.

My Lord tells me to rest. To rest on the Sabbath and keep it holy is repeated regularly, but how often do we women get to rest and reset? Especially on Sundays? My Lord also tells me I will stumble and fall. I will mess up and not perform perfectly. I will let others down. I will let myself down. But, He is with me. He will pick me back up. He will give me a new day filled with new mercies.

My stumbles and imperfections and “stuff” that I shame myself over are just reminders again and again that I am not meant to live independently, relying on myself to live life but to depend on him—the source where all the blessings flow. I just need to remind myself to rest in these blessings. To be present for the moment and allow myself to let my imperfections shine!

We aren’t meant to be Wonder Woman, but we can work hard, reach our limits, and give the rest to Him with a grateful heart for having these blessings in the first place.

Cheers,

Ashlee

Family Updates + baby?

As some of you dear readers may know, my husband and I interested in starting a family. However, we have run into health snags time and time again, which made me think maybe this isn’t the route God wants us to take.

Let’s back up. Since I was about 12 years old, I have always had a heart for saving people. Over the years, I have attempted to “save” various members of family from making poor choices, friends from themselves, and families with who I work with in my career. However, even as a teenager thinking about my future, I always thought I would adopt. Specifically, I wanted to adopted a girl from China. I wanted to save a little girl from death, despair, and feeling unwanted due to China’s “One Child” policy.

Fast forward a few years, and my husband and I began to take a serious look into our finances. We both thought adoption was out of the question due to the expenses and time it would take to travel to our child’s country. Both of which we were short on. But, God does have the last laugh.

Fast forward a few short months, my husband’s company informs him that there will be new changes in the company including a raise for him, increased benefits for adoption (~10,000 dollars), and paid paternity leave for expecting dads! We flipped out and praised the Lord! Maybe adoption is looking more and more doable, and maybe, this is what the Lord HAS called us to do.

So, we talked with some of our church friends and family; people whom we trust and who have experience with adoption. After more prayer and attempting to discern His will, we then set up a meeting with an agency last week.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t even sure about what questions I should be asking at first. There was so much information that I left the meeting with my head swimming about different countries, age restrictions, and the financial/emotional cost. But it felt food. It felt almost right. I don’t know if this is God’s plan for us yet, as we are still hoping/praying/listening, but I feel like we are moving forward to make our dreams a reality.

We will continue praying for guidance and wisdom during this time, and we ask that you do the same on our behalf. God’s will is His own as well as his timing, which I am learning over and over again each day.

Cheers,

Ashlee