Yesterday I posted that I’d be diving this month into what I say vs. how I live, what I believe vs. how I move through the world. I intended to take an un-bossy look at personal integrity for the next 31 days in order to get at deeper Truth that sometimes passes us by. And I thought it could probably be good. Hoped so, at least.
As September filled with back to school and monumental life shifts and another big project requiring my attention, yesterday was the first I’d devoted to this 31 Days series. (Nothing new for me, as last year’s 31 Days of Right Here was very much written “in real time.”)
I sprinkled prayers, spent hours working on a graphic to represent the theme, began to write blog posts and struggled with an inner wrestling. Part of me wanted to do it, but too much of it felt off.
Too much me, and not enough God?
It was not unlike the wrestling that kept me up most of Friday night after my first speaking presentation at a women’s retreat where I was the weekend’s presenter. The one that eventually led me to rewrite my second talk and lay down the final one, going a completely different direction than what I’d planned because God told me I could trust him, that his way was ultimately best.
Yesterday afternoon, I spoke to my sister on the phone in the middle of my wrestling match, and she brought the truth, which she does in a clear and loving manner in my life over and over again.
She reminded me of things I said I would be pursuing this year, told me how easily I could just keep getting distracted by one good thing after another, when I might be asked to something different.
After our conversation, I looked back at my journal entry from the morning, a prayer to God, that basically spelled out exactly what she’d said over the phone. It became clear after talking to Michael, too:
This is not the season for me to participate in 31 Days.
If I tell my girls and other women that our plans must be held in cupped hands, that my personal pride and desire to be thought of well is not the most important consideration, that when we lay down our own broken versions of something good-enough, something Better is given room to grow — well, then I’ve got to live it.
It may be that the next 31 days, I’m to walk the ins and outs of this topic with God and not force its shape into the continual telling. I really don’t know.
This month, I will dive into the waters of some long-neglected things. I will pursue paths that feel scary and ripe for rejection. I will be ready to take my plans and surrender them, even if I don’t know why.
I plan to write, but we’ll see what happens.
Thank you for the grace to work out life imperfectly as I go. You never ask me to paint a finished, polished picture, and certainly God does not. He knows my innermost being — strengths and weakness, filled up and needy, whole and broken — and is the One who has made and is making all things new.
I learn to live this resurrection life when I trust God’s leading, and follow. That’s the life I ultimately desire, even if it makes me squirm uncomfortable.
This morning, I read Romans 8 from The Message version:
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.”
Yes, Papa. What’s next?
FOMS (Fear of Missing Something) is a thing, ya know, so I’ve got some of that, and though I really want to join in with all my 31 Day sisters and brothers, I will be joining in a different way. Reading your beauty, giving you my love. Go, 31 Day’ers, go! I’ll try to provide a roundup of some of my favorite 31 Day series here on the blog soon. In the meantime, if you’re itching to follow along on the journey, head to the 31 Day website and click on one of the many links in a subject area/theme that interests you (some have already piqued my attention big time!) and read along. Love you, friends.
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I was just debating whether or not to join 31 Days this year, and after reading your post, I’m going to skip it. Thanks for the encouragement. :)
I hope that refraining from 31 Days has been a gift to you, Cori. It sure has been for me. :)
So proud of you Ashley! Sometimes it’s tough to say “no” to a good thing, but necessary to the health of the rest of our life…God has a plan & is using you in ALL areas of life, even the mundane! Love you!!!
Oh, thank you for your love, friend. It is hard for me to say no, but this has been so the right decision. I love you!
I love you and while I’ll miss your series because I hate missing any of your words, I love them so much, I’m cheering for you in the knowing. It’s a hard and brutal place to be I get it. Choosing what’s best even when it’s good things you’re saying no to. It aches fierce sometimes. I almost quit the whole thing yesterday because I’m sick of the tension. I was kind of joking online but before that I had actually opened my gmail and was about to compose letters of resignation to all the contributor blogs to tell them I was quitting writing online. Note to self, don’t make any major decisions for one week out of every month. But also I get it. So much.
I love you. This made me laugh and smile and ache in that good way where a friend so totally gets your heart, and you wish you could sit and talk and be excited and angst-y together, face to face. I have LOVED your 31 Days series, dear Alia, and I am so glad you continue to live in the tension because your words are needed in this world…in addition to your amazing mama-ing and teaching and what all. Really, I am so glad I know you, and it wouldn’t have happened had it not been for this looney tunes world of blogging. xoxo
Ok… so first off: LUCKY! (He’s making me do it – but I would rather not! LOL!) and Secondly: I love you so so much! For so many reason – but a huge part is because of this – you follow His lead. Not easy… not simple… but you do it anyway, and that encourages us all to brave and follow wherever He leads us too!
Oh, thank you, sweetheart. You are rocking it with your series. I’m sorry for you :) and glad for us that we get to be the recipients of your series. You’ve got such good wisdom to share…and I have to say, I think you make writing look so effortless…and that is a gift!
I loved what you said about holding our plans in cupped hands, and that, hard as it is, you are actually doing it. I’ve had my 31 days theme picked since june and most of my posts written in august. Now its here and i have all but three days written and planned. My theme is motherhood. And guess what i finally got brave enough to do – give up my internet so i can focus on motherhood during this extreme season. And ive been feeling like a loser about it. Like most other moms can handle motherhood and internet and maintain good boundaries and keep up with these contacts. But in seeing you give yourself permission to have peace here? Im feeling a whole lot more peaceful about my own situation. Today is my last day of internet at the house and yours may be the last blog post i have time to read for a long, long time. But im so glad i did. :)
Your words and the fact that you gave up your series — pre-written and all…can I just say wow, sister. That is some amazing picture of faithfulness. To steal your words, I hope you too have given yourself permission to experience peace. That you are enjoying your people, your baby, your time away from being plugged in, just wrapped in peace. I am grateful for you, Heather.
Ashley – I’m glad you’ve made this decision. I will miss seeing your posts in the 31 Day feed, but I’ll still be reading whatever words you put out there with great interest! Much love to you! And thanks so much for your encouragement and support of MY 31 Day journey – so very appreciated!
Barb, you are awesome. So glad you are a part of my life and that we get to share this nutty writing journey together. You are really doing such an incredible job with your series. Thanks for always cheering me on!
How easy it is to lose focus – but oh when you find it and make time for it. I applaud you for this – although I just found you of course! and I can’t even remember how:).
I was struck by these words: “… walk the ins and outs of this topic with God and not force its shape into the continual telling.” I believe there is value in this and I think maybe God has something in store for you. There is always time to tell us later all you learn during this time. sometimes things need to simmer, before we serve. blessings.
Carol, you are such an encouraging presence. I always look forward to seeing you here, though I don’t think I remember how we found each other either. :-) Yes, it feels like part of the rhythm of this writing life…living it, writing it, taking space to live it, so the telling is filled with true life and not some filmsy appearance of it. I believe God’s got good things for both of us (all of us) during this time. Yep, he always does.
Way to go! Proud of you!
Thanks, Becky. You are such a gem.
Ashley, God asked me to lay down 31 days this year too. I’m glad we can stand together in this. Found you via Lori Harris’s Blog.
Joy, I pray that you are feeling some sweetness of release. The letting go can be so hard, but when it’s what we are being led to do, what joy follows. So happy to have found you through Lori. Sending love.
I jumped over here to catch up on your 31 Days, really to get started, when I read this post. I am absolutely for you and believe God has/is/will lead you to his good purposes during this month—always. You know what I am doing with the 31 Days? I am writing letters—some to those who are close and some to those far away, whomever God lays on my heart each day. Of course, I am not publishing them publicly. It’s been fun so far…my hubby asked, “You have 31 people you can write?” Well, yeah!! Ha! It’s really been cool so far. God bless you Ashley.
Dea, you are so dear. I love the 31 letters idea. Oh my goodness, how we all love to receive letters and cards the “old-fashioned way.” Such a gift to all those recipients! And this: “I am absolutely for you and believe God has/is/will lead you to his good purposes during this month—always.” This touches my heart, friend, and gives me a little extra spring in my step as I feel I’m floundering around a bit. Grateful for you and for your voice of love in this world.
Praying for you in this time of “rest” dear Ashley. I would have loved to be among those who heard you speak. Blessings . . .xo
Thanks so much for your prayers, dear Deb. I do hope to see you in person again soon. Bless you and yours. xoxo