Easter Weekend

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Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, a huge religious holiday for self-proclaimed Christ-followers. This is my first Easter without my sweet grandmother, Memmie. She was a very devout Christian during her time on Earth, and she enjoyed celebrating our Savior’s resurrection each year. Even though I have been busy and overextended this particular weekend, I want to still remember her, her faith, and the reason for this particular holiday, which inspired me to read each of the Gospel’s accounts of the Resurrection and to write this post.

Easter. The day the Lord overcomes death and rips apart the veil between himself and us lowly humans. We have hope because of Jesus. We have life because of Jesus. However, because I am an imperfect human, I still find myself allowing Satan to tempt me into wrongdoing or becoming distracted with life’s demands. I find myself creating a veil or a wall between myself and Jesus because of my actions and sins. I find it hard to let it go. Whatever it is at that time. It has been a long list including:

  • envy or jealousy
  • greed
  • other idols
  • perfectionism
  • busyness
  • impatience
  • longing
  • distractions
  • future plans…the list goes on and on.

I have followed Jesus for most of my life. I understand the importance and the significance of the Easter holiday for both my soul, my faith, and for humanity. I know and I believe that Jesus came to save me because I am sinful, imperfect person destined for the fires of hell otherwise. I trust in that. I trust that Jesus has my soul on lock. He’s got it covered.

However, I cannot seem to trust him with my everyday. The “what ifs.” Or the “what should I dos?” Why do I continue to pretend to be God, to pretend I have the answers for my life instead of trusting in Him to have them? Why can I not trust that God’s plan for me, may not always look good or easy, but is good? Instead of giving everything to him wholeheartedly and in faith, I try everything in my own power first. I work. I hustle. I plan. I seek advice. I sleep on it. I journal about it. But only then do I pray about it. Only when I have exhausted all of my efforts first.

I don’t want this life. I want the life that trusts God to guide the nitty-gritty details of my every day existence. I want a savior of my eternal soul AND a king of my every day life. I want a Father AND a friend. I want, and need, to remind myself that Jesus saved my soul, and He will save me from whatever this world can throw at me. His “handling it” may not look fun or feel comfortable, but if I trust him to save my soul, I can trust him to handle Tuesday. Or starting a family. Or work-related problems. Or family issues. I can trust Him with everything, and I can resign as Queen of my day-to-day.

This Easter, Lord Father, please direct my heart and my spirit to you as the King AND the Savior of my life. I relinquish control, or perceived control, over my circumstances and the events in my day-to-day life. Give me wisdom and send the Holy Spirit to guide my steps in Your way. I thank You for tearing that veil that kept humanity apart from You for thousands of years. Please, help me remove the walls of my own creation, the walls I create of pride, control, envy, greed, and other idols, to be one in you. Forgive me Father for these sins and others that are beyond my perception, and I thank you for saving me and all who call upon your name.                                                                                  -Amen

 

Cheers, and I hope everyone has a blessed Easter,

Ashlee

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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

Needing Rest, Finding Peace

As you may or may not know, I am a workaholic, social butterfly, goal-setter, and #girlboss all in one. I used to be proud of this fact. That is, until my energy is nowhere to be found, and my weekends are partially spent in bed (like 13 hours asleep in one sitting).

In short, I am motivated. I have always been motivated and dedicated to whatever I set my mind to especially if someone else is counting on me. I have learned to relish the slight anxiety I have over finishing a project to just begin a new one. Deadlines are like challenges to me. I feel lost when my planner is not overflowing with obligations, preoccupations, social events, and work to-dos. In fact my goals this year include: running my first half-marathon, beginning a family/completing fertility treatments, obtaining the highest credential I could earn in my field, being trained on a completely new-to-me intervention to use with actual people, and continue writing/journaling as, you know, a hobby.

I turned 28 on February 24. I know, I know–girl you look good!

But in all seriousness, my birthday made me look at my current lifestyle including how much authority I have for how my life turns out. I am leading a bible study in my small group using Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect in which she discusses being too busy, overlooking the most important things, and neglecting spending time in relationship with God. As I was preparing leading/organizing the study, I began to question again how much control I have over my life including how I am choosing to spend my time, thoughts, money, resources, talents. Based upon Niequist’s readings, I realized I have much more control than I thought, and I am choosing to base my self-worth on my ability to be productive, to be the responsible one, and to seem like I am “tough.”

I have not chosen to base my self-worth and value over being a Child of God. Nor have I taken the Biblical principle of “rest” seriously. Even God rested when was creating the entire universe, and Jesus rested when he was working in ministry! Do I really think I am above God and his Son in not needing rest/peace?

Yes…in my human, sinful-natured, flawed way I sometimes believe I am the God of my universe. I am the God of my life, and if I keep working, striving, filling my days up with social events and other obligations, I can control it. I can make good things happen. But that is nowhere in the bible nor is it even possible. I can’t control other people regardless of how much I want to. Sometimes I feel like I can’t even control  myself! (Hello, chocolate cake!).

But through this all, through my sin, my pride, my desire to control, God loves me anyway. He created me, and you, with special gifts and talents. None of which canNOT be accomplished if we rest and rejuvenate. His will for my life is not going to disappear because I set less goals for myself or attend a few less parties/weddings this year. I also have to let go and allow myself to rest. Rest in Him. Rest in prayer and meditation. Jesus rested. He prayed alone and secluded himself, yet His work was done. His will for my life will be too, and everything else is just noise and distractions.

Will you find ways to rest in Him today? To give up some of the hustle our society has become addicted to?

My favorite ways I am finding to rest is through journaling, reading spiritual works, and through mindfulness meditation. All of which allow my brain to pause and to appreciate the life I have been given. All of which all me to rest and to rejuvenate myself in Him.

How will you rest today?

Cheers,

Ashlee

Learning to Run

I have always enjoyed working out, going to the gym, and fitness in general. I regularly attend a yoga class with some of my girlfriends on Sundays after church. I have been doing HIIT workouts, hiking, and boot camp with the ladies of Beauty Hunters.  About two years ago, I began trying to run. It was slow at first, but I soon fell in love with the activity. It has been part of my self-care routine for awhile now. Running gives me the space and peace to listen to favorite podcasts and music while challenging my body to reach bigger goals.

It has been a dream of mine for about a year now to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando, Florida. The half marathon, along with the 5k, 10k, and full marathon races, occur near the last weekend of February, which happens to be near my birthday. Would that not be a perfect birthday present? Running a race through Walt Disney World! in FL! with my love! Call me crazy, but that sounds like a fun time.

According to their website, the Disney Princess Half Marathon is a women-themed race that includes running through Magic Kingdom and Epcot while Disney Characters and Princesses hang out on the race course. I have never been to Walt Disney World, so a race that would ultimately benefit my health and allow me to have new experiences in a new location is incredibly appealing to me.

However, I found out a few weeks ago that the registration was closed and the event sold out for the 2018 race. BUT, I am not letting that stop me. God willing, I will run the race in 2019 instead. My friend informed me of an app called Gipis that she used to train for her half-marathon the previous year. I am on Day 3 of the program, and I am loving the app so far! You plug in some basic information about yourself including weight, running experience, and previous running times so the app can gauge your starting level and can begin creating a personalized training plan to fit your goals.

According to the app, I should be half marathon ready by next April. I plan on completing a local half marathon race in late March 2018 in order to test my skills and give me a taste before signing up for the real deal. I am excited about the idea, but I am also concerned that life will get in the way of me meeting my goals. I am not sure about you, readers, but I can be easily distracted by work, relationships, vacations, and the daily chores/to-dos.

So, I am asking, will you pray with me? Pray that I will keep my eye on the prize. Pray that I will seek God’s will in my training, in my health goals, and in treating my body as the temple his words states it should be. I am excited for what these next few months hold and where I will be on this journey. If you have ever run the Disney Princess Half or any fun, similar races, I would love to read about your experience in the comments!

Cheers,

Ashlee