Easter Weekend

fcca9560b466c9731a52fecea7564c41

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

Advertisements

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

Playlist and Life Updates

Hello dear readers,

I have been out of pocket for about a week due to life and work and life stuff. Work has been busy, but because I love my job, I don’t mind. One of my best friends is visiting from Chicago, and she will be in town TOMORROW! So, I will be posting #latergrams with all of our adventures over this next week.

Until then, I created a Spotify playlist to help me get through working on the weekend. #girlboss, amirite?

Hope you enjoy! And you can follow all of my playlists by following me on Spotify–name is Ashlee Nicole.

Cheers,

Ashlee

Restful Weekends

As some of you may know, I am working really hard on rest. Taking a break. Chilling. These things don’t come as easy for me as I would like, but it is something God has been placing on my heart to get more of throughout my day. Busyness is of this world, not God as he repeatedly calls for rest and peace with Him all through his word.

Rest, to me, is not simply sitting in front of the tv and not moving. For me, rest comes in the form of journaling, listening to music at a coffee shop, exploring parts of my city unknown to me, and hanging out with my friends and husband. Here are a few images of what I’ve been doing to rest up.

Check out: Ijams Nature Center in South Knox, The Phoenix Pharmacy in downtown Knox, and Awaken Coffee in the Old City.

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

Updates + Things to work on

First off, these last two weeks have been ridiculously crazy.  I have missed writing tremendously.

Happenings include:

  • 6 hour road trip back to my hometown to celebrate my best friend’s new baby!
  • Cat sickness=8-year-old feline multiple UTIs
  • Making future decisions regarding our family and, potentially, my own health
  • Not-so-great news from the orthodontist about the future of my canine teeth
  • Plus work, social events, church gatherings, adulting…

I want to say that I am very grateful for the life God has provided for me even with the ups and downs, disappointments, and surprises. But sometimes, I feel overwhelmed. And exhausted. And spiritually, mentally, and emotional spent.

So, I had a talk with God.

On the way back home from visiting friends and family, I had a long, hard talk with God. It involved tears, anger, asking forgiveness, feeling foolish, and finally, feeling like I know the direction he has for me. After this discussion, I felt better, and I had taken away two main points

  1. Stop trying to be that person. You know, the person who gives up her alone time, or time with her husband, or sleep to be the person there for her friend. Or ALL her friends. The person who gives, and gives, and gives and goes beyond all reasonable and normal expectations to please others.
  2. Be patient. Stop trying to rush things. Stop trying to rush through one season of your life to get to another one. Stop trying to rush making decisions because they are hard. Stop trying to rush completing one goal or task so you have “extra” time to  work on another.

These are the worst sins and the hardest habits I have to break as a person, a woman. Because of previous experiences, I know it will not be easy. I also know that I will mess up again and again. Patience is a virtue that I need to grow into.

But thankfully, I have a Father who loves and forgives!

Cheers,

Ashlee

 

My City, My Home

I love, love, love traveling, but I also love my home.  I live in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is a mid-sized city in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Knoxville is divided into various neighborhoods each having its own culture and attitudes. My husband and I live close to downtown Knox. I’ve included some photos in a few of the different neighborhoods below.

Island Home Park. A local park near the Tennessee river that helps divide the city.

The Mill and Mine. A quirky, hipster concert venue in the Old City near downtown Knoxville.

Charming house in the Island Home neighborhood of South Knox.

Quaint little craftsman in the Old North Neighborhood. That beetle is 😍

Another charming house in Old North Knox. #housegoals amiright?

This mural of Knoxville shares a home with one of my favorite coffee shops, K Brew, which has two locations in the city. Try their honey lavender latte with almond milk cold. You won’t regret it.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about Knoxville! Stay tuned for more posts related to my life in Knoxville. Comment below your favorite areas of Knoxville if you have visited!

Cheers,

Ashlee