big coats.

growing up i used to always dress up in my mom’s clothes.  i’d wear her t-shirts as night gowns and her night gowns as if i was getting ready to make some grand entrance into a fancy ball.  the shoes were too big, the belts never had enough holes, and pants weren’t even an option because you couldn’t get them to stay up.

and i remember looking at myself in the mirror in my get-up.  i’d strut myself into the bathroom ready to see my new, re-made beautiful self…

and i would laugh.

not like a giggle.  but like a deep, from the belly, “this is the most ridiculous thing i’ve ever seen” laugh.

i feel like all little kids probably go through this same cycle.  you adorn yourself in clothes that you believe will make you look like an adult.  and then you go to check yourself out and you have no other choice but to you laugh at yourself.  because the outfit is just absurd.  even children instinctively know that the clothes is too big and they shouldn’t be wearing it.  it doesn’t make sense.  it just doesn’t fit.

and, well.  that’s where i feel like i’m at.

because i’ve been putting on some bigger coats lately.  and it’s good and exciting and it makes me feel a little bit more like a grown up.  but at the same time, it makes me laugh when i stand in front of the mirror. because the coats don’t fit.  they don’t fit at all.  they’re gigantic. and it doesn’t make any sense why i should be wearing it.  i can feel the weight of the strong cloth resting on my body.  the coat’s so big it almost swallows me.  it’s heavy and fun and new and scary and exciting.  and overwhelming.

mostly overwhelming.

i’m overwhelmed in lots of different ways these days.  overwhelmed with gratitude for the chance to put on a new coat.  overwhelmed with curiosity as to how this whole transition is actually going to play out. overwhelmed with insecurity and restlessness.  because as much as i really want to, i’m just not fully confident in my abilities to rock the new choice in wardrobe.  i’ve been overwhelmed with excitement and hope for what’s on the horizon.  and at the same time overwhelmed at the thought of all of the hopelessness thats operating in the world right now.  i’ve been overwhelmed with thinking too far ahead.  but also overwhelmed by grace to just enjoy right now.

so.  yep.  that’s about it.  no big resolve this time around.  i’m just wearing some coats that are way too big.  i’m sure i’ll grow into them in time.  and then as soon as i grow into one it will be time for a costume change and i’ll get another.  and then i’ll stand in front of the mirror and laugh at the ridiculousness of the whole thing.

my hope, i guess, is that someday the coats i’m putting on now won’t feel so overwhelmingly awkward and heavy.  but that they will be coats that just kind of rest on me softly.  coats that fit to my form and my stature.  coats that i can in fact rock.  coats that makes sense on me.  coats that fit well.  because even though it took me a lot of growing in to, they look good.  they look damn good.

clipboards. and being excited.

when i traipsed myself down to georgia in august i came with the intention of staying for six months.  i had no idea where to go or what to do when i came home from the field and the Lord led me here to be in community and serve aim and the world race for a season. soon after getting acquainted with gainesville i felt the lord asking me to plant roots here. to find some contentment with being here.  and it was a struggle.  i battled and fought for that contentment.  i chose it on days when it was really the last thing i wanted to do.  and there are days when i still actively have to choose contentment about being in america.

but the more i do it the easier it gets.  and the more i choose thankfulness the more it really does rise up in me.  today, i’m beyond grateful for where i’m at, and what i’m doing.

so, when i agreed to come for a 6-month apprenticeship i  was asked to come on as a part of the marketing team.  which was funny to me because with the exception of my college degree i have zero experience in marketing anything.

but for the last six months i’ve been learning a lot.  and developing some skills.  and learning a lot.  and well, learning a lot.  the more i learn the more i realize how little i actually know.  which is humbling.  but more than that it’s exciting.  it’s a privilege and a blessing to be surrounded by people who are willing to invest in me in so many ways, including professionally.

i’ve spent the last few months working closely with our college-age department.  real life.  it’s been an absolute joy to be awakened to some of my talents and skills and also to rekindle some of the creative passions i’d stifled for so long.  but, that’s another blog for another time.

anyways…all of that really long story to say.  i’m staying in gainesville.  i’m staying with aim.  i’m staying with real life. and i’m continuing to do marketing.oh,

but, i am actually beside myself excited about it.

and also i’ll still be living off of support.  so you can help a sista’ out here.

i’m excited about all of the new changes.  i’m excited about learning more.  i’m excited about being developed.  i’m excited about being challenged.  i’m excited that i get to do something i am passionate about.  i’m excited that it will probably be hard.  but that i’ll grow because of it.  i’m excited about being in one place for awhile.  about learning how to be committed to something.

[it maybe freaks me out a little bit that i just wrote that.  and that i mean it.  because i don’t really know who this new, contented, happy person is.  but i like her.]

and, well.  i’m also excited that i get a new desk.  and a new space.

i know it seems small.  but i am such a person who needs her own space.   i need my space to feel like home.  and i need it to feel like me.

so i made some new things for my new space tonight.  and i love them.  i cannot wait to get them up on my wall above my desk tomorrow.

don’t you just think they are perfect?

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.

getting settled.

two weeks ago i moved into a new apartment with two of my dear friends from the world race.  we’ve had people in and out of this place since we moved in and we are just now finally starting to get settled.  the last three days we’ve been on house arrest due to a freak winter storm in the south.  so we’ve had plenty of time to get acquainted with our new home.

but being settled isn’t something i have much experience with.  i moved a lot growing up and summers were usually spent somewhere other than home.  my four years in college was the most settled time of my life, by far.  but even then, every few months i was in and out of my dorm room and back to my grandparents home i would go.  and then i went on the world race.  i slept in over fifty places over the course of my time abroad.  i literally lived out of a backpack for eleven months.  often times i felt most settled while i was sitting in a mcdonalds or curled up inside my tent.

so, all of that to say.  being back in america and trying to “be settled” is new and different for me.  it’s not something i’ve ever been used to or good at.  my roommates and i just signed a year-long lease which seems like a big commitment to me.  one place for twelve months?  that hasn’t happened since i was in high school.

so there is lots of settling to be done here in gainesville.  i’m settling into a new apartment.  with new roommates.  next month i’ll have to settle into a new position at work.  some days all i want to do is settle back into american life.  and then there are the days when i want to do anything but settle back into american life.  but, like it or not. i’m here.  and i’ve decided that if i have to be in one place i might as well make it the best most peaceful, loving, awesome one place.

so, this weekend i ventured out with k.chad to find some treasures for my new home.  i found the perfect window at an antique store for only $17.  then i bought a $6 map at the bookstore.  cut it to size and staple-gunned it to the back.

i think it turned out perfectly.  it’s really the only thing we have up on the walls so far.  but that’s okay, because right now it’s my favorite thing in the world to look at.

i hope to find more treasures soon.  and i hope that little by little, one window frame at a time, the settledness will start to sink in.  and this new phase of life will feel real.  and that because of the realness i’ll somehow be all the better for being in a season of uncomfortable settledness.

thingamahiggs. a new beginning.

here we are at the beginning of a new year.  2011.  the year of transition, i am told.

i’ve got some goals and some different things i’m working on.  not the least of which is starting a new blog. i’ve been blogging on my world race blog for over two years now, and will continue to do so.  but it was time for a change.  time for an expansion.  this new blog offers much more versatility and creativity in terms of what i want to post and where i’d like to go in the blog-o-sphere.  whoa. blog-o-sphere?  nerd alert.

so.  here i am.  redefining my blog.  thingamahiggs.  i wasn’t crazy about the name at first.  my good friend lindsay came up with for my new etsy shop, another new endeavor. but, it’s growing on me. thingamahiggs. you know, instead of thingamajigs. just making sure you’re with me.

i like it.  there’s no going back now, folks.  so i might as well embrace it.

thingamahiggs.  a new place for my things and my thoughts.

so, as i sit on my couch; alone for the first time in days, i’ll raise my glass [of water] to a new year and a new endeavor.  a new idea and a new goal.  i’ll raise it to transitions and change and to the excitement ensuing.  yes, i will embrace what is in front of me even if i can’t define it.  i’ll find contentment in the now instead of worrying about the not yets and whats to comes.

here’s to you, 2011.  here’s to you, thingamahiggs.  godspeed.