Coming Back

It has been a while blog family. To be honest, MANY things have happened over the past few months. I had a scary, life-threatening car accident, my husband turned 30, we received our first foster care placement (a 4-year-old boy), my husband started a new job where he travels often, and there have been changes in my job/career. It’s been a whirlwind. Some of these things have been positive, some have been negative, and some have been both. But I have definitely learned a lot about myself and about my God throughout this whole process.

While healing from the car accident, I began to have a pulling in my heart. An uneasy feeling deep inside, but then other times a peace would come over me. I felt like he was trying to get me to rest, to take a break, to be present in my own life. I sometimes feel as though I had the accident in order to learn to rest. I definitely experienced a decrease in anxiety while healing, which was an unexpected joy. But during this time, I decided to seek out spiritual counseling through my church.

I began seeing a counselor in July while I was still healing, and I am currently still seeing her less regularly. She has helped me in many ways; some of them simple, and some of them large. She has told me to “sit with what the Lord is doing,” ask Him what he is up to in my life, and to be okay with saying no and having boundaries when needed. She taught me that I don’t have to manage people’s emotions and that an idol I have is my reputation or what people think of me. Things that seem very simple and obvious but that I didn’t understand about myself. 

Through working with my counselor and staying in God’s word daily, I have heard Him speak many things to me. One of them being rest. Rest in Him. Trust Him with my life regarding my relationships, my future, my reputation, and my desires. Through trusting Him, I can rest. I can stop trying so hard. Giving Him control is something I didn’t realize I struggled with, but man, it is really hard. Every time I struggle, I remember this verse:

You make known to me the path of life;
    in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalms 16:11

Remembering that being with Him gives joy and that He will guide me throughout my life. I never experience anything, good or bad, alone. In Him, there is peace and pleasures, which is what my heart desires. He knows me and created me. Surely, He will guide me. If I rest in Him and His goodness, I can have joy and peace. 

I really want that promise. I struggle every day with trusting Him with different aspects of my life as I humanly believe I know what is best for my life. But I will continue to give things to Him, and I will choose to trust that He has my life. I can rest, and it feels wonderful.

Cheers,

Ashlee

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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

It’s been awhile

So, lots of things have happened since I’ve last posted including: house being robbed, employee of the year at my work, and regaining some sense of peace.

I have been feeling a bit strange since this new year has started. I’ve been tired, more frazzled, and less focused than I have ever been. Why, you ask?

I’m not sure. My husband and I are trying to have a baby. I have work responsibilities that seem even more important than last year’s responsibilities. I am close to finishing my running plan for the half-marathon I’m running in March. So, you know, we don’t have much going on.

But something seems not right. Something seems off.. It’s like part of my soul is missing, or left somewhere like I forgot it along with my wallet and/or keys. How do I figure out what is missing? Furthermore, how do I get it back?

I’ve been praying for strength, courage, wisdom, and patience. Yet that doesn’t seem like it’s enough. I know that my God doesn’t leave me nor forsake me, but why am I feeling so lost? How do I specifically pray for my future if I don’t know what it is I am missing or needing more of?

Maybe my body just needs rest. Rest. Rest in Him. Rest for my body. Rest for my mind.

I believe I will start there, and see where my God takes me.

Cheers,

Ashlee

Foodies in Asheville, N.C.

My husband, best friend, and I usually go on vacations together. However, because of financial goals, hellooo adulting, we decided to do a staycation this year in our home city of Knoxville, Tennessee.

We played games, hiked the beautiful Smoky Mountains, ate at amazing restaurants, and watched the opening game of NCAA Football season. It was a good four days.

On the last day of our staycation, we travelled to Asheville, N.C. for a “daycation.” We began our journey grabbing coffee from a local coffee shop before hitting the interstate heading East.

Once there, we began our day at White Duck Taco Shop in an up-and-coming section of Asheville. White Duck is THE.BEST. taco shop ever. Tacos that include pickled watermelon rind and pork belly can speak for themselves. We then had a mini photoshoot after.

After face melting delicious tacos, we headed up to the Grove Park Inn to see the views of the city + blue ridge mountains in addition to relaxing in the leather couches and velvet cushions beside the walk-in fireplaces that litter the hotel. The Grove Park Inn has entertained some of the most famous guests including: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harry Houdini, and former President Barack Obama.

After relaxing at the hotel, We then spent some time at the Urban Orchard Cider Bar. They have the best ciders on tap and have a very relaxed atmosphere. My favorite cider of all time is the Sidra del Diablo—-subtle flavor with a spicy kick. We ate dinner at King Daddy’s  where gluten free waffles AND friend chicken exist in perfect harmony. It was a perfect, foodie-loving day. It felt so good to get away, even for the day. Sometimes, God lets us have those breaks to refresh the kind, body, and soul.

Here are some pics from our adventure. (No food pics exist as all food was consumed in a pig-like fashion).

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These are just a few of our favorite places to visit when in Asheville, N.C. If you’ve been, what places can you just not get enough of in this quirky, creative city?

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

Lost in the Sea of Green

A few things about me.

First, I really like to stay busy. Like really busy. Like I’ve got all of my day scheduled with work, chores, friend time, hobby time, fitness, parties, movies, dinners, etc.

I like this trait about myself as I am usually never bored, and I have managed to gain a lot of unique experiences in my twenty-something years. However, when I get tired, I get TIRED. Encompassing, lazy, drowsy, Netflix binge-watching, junk-food inhaling, hard-to-get-up-out-of-bed tired.

Secondly, I get cabin fever quickly whenever I get stuck in a routine or I am at home for too long. (See drowsy, Netflix-watching statement above).

One of the best ways I can break out of my cabin fever-ness and break the cycle of being on-the-go is through hiking and experiencing the “great outdoors.” Thankfully, my husband and I live within a 45 minute drive to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Also thankfully, we both really like to be outdoors.

This past weekend, we woke up early on a Saturday morning to drive to the mountains and zone. out. from a previously stressful week. We hiked the West Prong Trail, which is located near the Tremont Institute and is roughly 2.7 miles one way. We struggled with the mountain air at first as it had been too long since we had been on a trail, but we quickly found our groove.

The mountain/trail/scenery was beautiful. Green everywhere. And peace. Lots and lots of peace and quiet. I could feel my strength replenish, my soul restore, and my creativity abound. My husband, usually a chatty-Cathy while hiking, was deep in thinking, deep in his own quiet mind. I mention how freeing and uplifted my body and soul feels even though I’m sweating clear through my shirt from the Tennessee heat and humidity. He replies:

“It’s easy to forget your troubles, when you’re lost in a sea of green.”

I believe he hit the restful nail right on the head.


Hope you enjoyed a few of pics from the hike!

Cheers,

Ashlee