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

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Far Away

I am struggling right now, readers, if I’m honest. I am struggling to feel God’s presence in my daily life. My life has not changed. I still work, go to the gym, have a social life, cook, and try to take care of myself. And yet something dramatically has shifted in the way I feel God moving in my life.

This is not a new feeling. At previous times in my life, I have not felt God as strongly as I have had in better, more fruitful times. During these seemingly-alone times, my husband and I were going through hard financial times or having health-related stress, and I had moved away from God out of anger and hopelessness. But at this point in my life it is different. I feel….normal. Busy, but normal. Optimistic even, if you will.

Here is my thought: I am busy, yes. I am busy to the point where I am distracted from my one true purpose of my life– worshiping God and showing his love to others. I am distracted by trying to do my job well; trying to have pleasurable and meaningful hobbies/self-care; trying to keep up-to-date with everyone in my social circle; and trying to maintain strong relationships with family and my husband. These are things most people struggle with, maintaining the juggle of daily life. I also may have some perfectionist tendencies, if I’m still being honest.

However, I am focusing too much on these things. Things that will pass away. I remember reading in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters that the devil tries to get us distracted by all these other things: work, having a social life, social media, fitness, hobbies, pets, even nothing at all, so much so that we lose sight of what’s most important.

 “…as habit renders the pleasures of vanity and excitement and flippancy at once less pleasant and harder to forgo (for that is what habit fortunately does to a pleasure) you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”. The Christians describe the Enemy as one “without whom Nothing is strong”. And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.” – The Screwtape Letters  *Emphasis mine

We lose sight of the person who gave us these wonderful things to begin with. I begin to value these other things more than I value the time I spend communicating with my creator, the person who gives meaning to my life. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. No, I don’t think that having and maintaining healthy relationships or doing good work is “wasting time,” and I am not wasting my time on this Earth away as described by Screwtape. But I must be present in my own life enough to know when I am valuing what God has given me more than who He is or my relationship with him.

How do you stay present in your busy life to give more of your focus to God? I’d love to hear what works for you or if you struggle with this too. Comment below!

Cheers,

Ashlee

DNA + God = True Self

I am currently reading Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison. I am not even a quarter of the way through the book, and Ms. Morrison has me thinking deeply about who I am in Christ and what exactly that looks like in the world.

“Life is not about building an alternate name for ourselves; it’s about discovering the name we already have.” The author goes on to talk about how our “true” selves are not what we wished we were, or our goals, or what we look like when we are perfect in Heaven, but rather, our true selves are who we are right now plus the Holy Spirit/God working in us and through us.

Our true selves include our likes, dislikes, passions, opinions, values, ideas, dreams, and hobbies. Not only that, but our Heavenly Father cares deeply about these parts of our lives because those help make us who we are. To me, this is a joy and an eye-opening thought. However, this idea also helps me remember to value the time I have instead of spending it endlessly scrolling around the internet or wasting time gossiping.

I want to continue to open up my life and heart more to Christ so the Holy Spirit can move and work in my sphere of influence. When I connect the parts of my life, only then, will I be able to find contentment and joy in who I am.

Cheers,

Ashlee