just calm down.

i have been struggling to write a blog for weeks.  in fact, i’ve started about eight different ones with the exact same sentiment.  they are still sitting on my desktop, half started.  i don’t why it’s been so difficult for me, lately.  i’ll blame it on the dreary weather.  it’s been dark and rainy.  but, the sun is trying to shine through today.  amidst the clouds, it’s peeking out.  so, despite the fact that i feel like i have so much to say and  nothing all at the same time – something is getting posted.  for all six of you to read.

we’re in another season of transition down here.  i’m beginning to wonder how long a season can really last – or if at some point, that’s just the way things are.  either way, things have changed and continue to do so.  for me, when there is a positional shift in a place, it naturally makes me wonder how it will affect the relationships i cherish.  i don’t really have answers to that question.  but i’m more confident in this community that i belong to then i ever have been.  i’m confident that we’re all in this together; good and bad, messy and put together.  we’re all here.  in the spirit, we’re knit together in a weird, supernatural way.  i used to be really afraid of these kinds of relationships because i was afraid they might go away someday.  my fear of what may or not happen on the back end of something kept me from blessings at the onset.  i’m not so afraid, anymore.  i wonder, sometimes.  but i think i can wonder without being afraid.

i’m doing a lot of pondering these days.  which can be both healthy and dangerous for me.  it’s easy to get excited about things, begin to dream up new ideas and possibilities.  it’s also really easy for me to look at the enormity that is life and get all super serious, contemplating the deep things of how the world works, why i’m on it, how there can be both good and evil, sorrow and joy.  it’s all very important to ponder.  but i go into debbie downer mode pretty quick, convinced that the world is, in fact, going to hell in a hand basket.  my insides get all dramatic and the voice-over guy in my head comes on.  oh, you don’t have a guy that does voice-overs in your life?  i do.  he probably works part time as a radio-show host.  he gets super dramatic on me with life lessons and how i need ot find significance in the flower petal that just fell to the ground.  it’s like life goes into slow motion until i slap myself.

but then i slap myself out of it.  stand on some furniture to, one more time, remind myself that god is good.  always.  that’s usually the cycle of my pondering.

my sweet friend caroline gave a really great word on monday at church.  yes, i go to church on monday.  there’s a chance we meet in a restaurant.  okay, fine. it’s a bar.  well, it has a bar.  and yes, women preach at my church.  young women.  and do you know what?  it’s the best church i’ve ever been to.  the worship is incredible, the teaching solid, and the people life-giving, honorable, and sincere.  i love my church in a bar.  whew.  now that that’s all out in the open….

so, caroline preached on how we need to rest.  about how when we find a deep place of rest and assurance in who God is the circumstances around us don’t really matter.  we can stop spinning and spinning and spinning and just stand with solidarity.  what i heard the lord saying through her was, “just calm down.”  so, i’m working on that.  calming down, knowing that it’s all under control.  the lord has it in his hand.  all of it.  remembering that can be hard.  especially in the midst of change, in the midst of watching people hurt, in the middle of confusion and chaos.  my thoughts and emotions go all haywire.  i get really riled up.  and right now, in the middle of it, the lord [and probably some of the people around me] are saying, “just calm down.  it’s all going to be okay.”

so, i’ll just be over here.  tea in hand, calming down.

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life is a journey. gross.

i hate writing unless i feel inspired. really, if i’m honest i hate doing most things unless i feel inspired, unless it feels good. but i’m trying this whole “being disciplined” thing. it’s one of the many things the lord has challenged me to this year. learning to be disciplined. so i’m coming around to the acceptance that life is just going to take some work. some hard, pedal to the metal, sweaty, run-until-you-fall-over-and-then-get-up-again…work. for a minute that kind of sounds glamorous, almost heroic. and then it makes me get a sinking feeling in my stomach.  a sinking feeling because i know it’s going to be hard but worse than that i know there are no other options.  i’ve said yes to this and now i’m finding out what might actually be required of me.  and my first inclination is to have a reaction. to throw a woe-is-me kind of fit about how hard my life is and how surely the lord has left me because if he was really here then everything would just be easy.  or at least if it’s hard it will still feel good.  right?

all signs point to ashley needing some serious adjustments.  super.

it all kind of makes me laugh a little.  because i know the lord is doing a good work but he’s probably just sitting up there laughing at my antics and silly attempts to avoid the inevitable. that it’s just going to take some work.

my life.  my character.  my relationships.  my job.  my hopes and dreams and desires.  my future.  my physical health.  my emotional health.  my spiritual life.  my freedom.  my gifts and talents.

all of it.  it’s going to take work.

work.  and the willingness to have a good attitude.  over and over and over lately i’ve been hearing this same theme. and it resonates so deeply within me.  we learned about caleb last night.  and how caleb was a man with a different spirit, a different attitude than the rest of the israelites.  i want to be a caleb.  because i’m real sick of being just another israelite, one who has seen the goodness of God, His provisions and His mercy and still doubts Him.  i don’t want to wander around in the desert anymore.  i’m real sick of just sitting on potential and destiny.

it’s really time to walk into the promised land.

the promised land of my own identity, my own freedom, my own prophetic voice.  the promised land of redemption for my family and friends.  the promised land of healing and provision and kingdom abundance.

in the midst of all of this rising up inside of me, all of the grit and gusto, i’ve also been reminded that nothing will change overnight.  i have to be content in the becoming. there isn’t really a stopping point or an end to reach.  it’s just the journey of getting there.  which sounds really lame and cliche-ish to say.  “life’s about the journey…”  gross.  i usually roll my eyes at people who say that while i think to myself, “okay, you enjoy the journey. see you at the finish line, sucker.”   maybe i’m turning a new leaf.  maybe.

so that’s about it.  i don’t have any great resolve or plan or nice little bow to put around my new revelation on life.  but i’ll be over here working.  working my tail off.  and learning to smile about it.  like, really smile about it.  the kind of smile that comes of the joy of the lord really being your strength.  it’ll probably get messy. because work is rarely tidy. and there will probably be days when i have a bad attitude about it.  and there will be days when the running is too much and i’ll probably fall over.

but i’ll get back up. because at the end of it all that’s really the only option i have.