I can’t.

no more.

pandemic

political division

forest fires

drought

Afganistan

sex trafficing

church division

community turmoil

cancer

Haiti

and so on and so on.

The things that are happening around us are beyond overwhelming. The world as a whole is scary and dark and I just can’t take it on. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t turn on the news or engage with the destruction that we see happening all around us with the global world we live in. My heart and my head just cannot do it anymore.

It is not because I do not care. I care too much. I care to the point where it makes me physically ill and unable to do anything with the world right in front of me. Maybe you are feeling this too. This debilitating knowledge of hardship and suffering, but feeling so out of control and helpless that you just shut down.

I can’t keep doing that. You can’t keep doing that.

So what I can do is to make sure the people I love know how much I love them.

I spend far too many hours watching ridiculous horse dramas with our daughters.

I capture our children playing Lego and getting along.

I kiss that son of ours as often as he will let me.

I float in our pool and read a book.

I sit on our front porch and drink hot coffee.

I spend intentional time just being with my husband and strive to let him know why I love him each day.

I hug those I care about.

I kiss the tops of the heads of the children I have the privilege of seeing grow up.

I make a home that is comfortable and loving, to be a safe place to land when the world just seems too big.

I prepare for the upcoming school year and the opportunity to love and support another class of 1st graders.

I help our youngest get ready for her first day of kindergarten.

I give our dogs far too many treats and cuddle with them on the couch more than one should.

I listen to the crickets in the evening.

I pray. I pray a lot.

I do everything I can do to soak in all the good that is in the world and fill up with so much love that I can walk into the world, outside the safety of our home, and love others. Love others hard and love them well.

Love those who disagree with me.

Love those who are different than me.

Love those who are struggling to love.

Love those who are easy to love and those who need some grace. <we all need grace>

I cannot fix all the things that are broken in this world. I do not think we were designed to take on all the things that are broken in the global world. It is just not physically possible. However, I do think we are supposed to be the good in the communities that we are in. To love one another, support one another, give grace to one another, and to encourage one another.

If we all love in our own circles… our families, our workplaces, our churches, our communities, even our social media communities…then that love has to ripple out to the global world. But it has to start here, in your own heart, with what we can handle. We can’t handle it all.

Or atleast, I can’t.

throwing rocks & collecting rocks

I noticed something in myself recently. A heaviness. A hardening. Maybe you have felt this too.

This need to protect yourself from the criticism, the opinions, the angst that has been walking beside us for this season.

I felt like there were all these rocks flying at me.

In large conversations,

in subtle statements,

in words not said,

in actions,

in avoidance.

All these hard rocks just coming at me.

And I did not react in love like I should. Instead, I started collecting rocks with the thought process to throw rocks back.

This is challenging to admit, but it is truth. When I felt criticism or harshness I started to find faults in their choices, in their paths, in their lives. I started to compare and find ways to acknowledge the “at least I am not doing that” thought process. Ugly right? So ugly.

My faulty thinking and really, it was not intentional, but rather something I noticed after and realized I had been doing, was finding things to armour myself from anticipated criticism when I was feeling like everything was just getting too heavy.

I was collecting retaliation rocks.

But the thing about collecting rocks is, it just makes you even heavier. So much heavier. Think of your pockets and if they had actual rocks in them for each negative thought you had about someone else. Heavy upon heavy. It weighs you down.

Think about where we find rocks. They are always on the bottom. They layer the bottom of our lakes and oceans. If you carry too many rocks, you drown. The heaviness over takes you and you physically cannot overcome it. This is not how we were designed to walk.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.

Ephesians 2: 4-5

We were designed to be merciful and full of grace. We were designed to be forgiving, because of how much we have been forgiven.

I have not been my kindest, most gracious self this season. I went into this weird survival and self-preservation mode. But at its root, we began to self-destroy because we allowed our hearts to get so hard. Did you do this too?

So then we enter the world with hard hearts and interact with other people who maybe aren’t at their best and also have a hardened heart… grace really struggles to show up there.

We know we are not our best selves and yet we expect everyone else to be their best. Solid reflection on that.

The only way we can stop this cycle of hardening and rock collecting is to stop picking up the rocks.

Stop taking the offenses. Stop taking notes. Stop planning your retaliation. And act in love.

Drop the rocks. Give grace. Love one another. Even in the hard spots. Especially in the hard spots.

After I dropped my own rocks, I noticed a lightness in myself. I noticed this freeness.

Some comments are just comments.

Some opinions are valid and worth reflection.

Some critiques will help me grow.

And some things, I just do not have to give any value to.

Drop the rocks.

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

Matthew 24:12

Don’t let your love grow cold. Drop your rocks. Let them freeze. And open your heart to love one another.

It is hard to throw stones,

if your busy washing feet.

Luke Lezon

this Christmas.

I love Christmas. It is by far my favorite time of the year. My Grandma Fran loved Christmas. When I think of my Christmas memories so many of them involve the way she did Christmas, even though she passed away twenty five years ago. She left a huge legacy on all my Christmas traditions and my deep love of this season. The ribbon candy on my table, the Santa ornament on my tree, the appetizers on Christmas Eve, the reading of The Night Before Christmas. These are all beautiful and cherished memories that I am so grateful were rooted into my childhood and life.

I also know this post-Christmas down. Maybe you have felt it too, when all the gifts are opened and all the traditions are done, and you are left with more stuff, more mess, and a little feeling of disappointment or sadness. It gets me every year. I want the joy of Christmas to last forever.

But this year, this year looks different for me. This year, we have invited Jesus to His own birthday celebration. If you have been around my writing for more than a minute, you know that my life drastically changed a year and a half ago after I felt Jesus pursuing me for years and I finally gave my life to Him after I had made such a mess of my own doing.

So, this year, Jesus is center in our celebration. Santa gets a nice nod because I do love a good tradition and my grandma would for sure assault me from Heaven <that is not gospel truth but stick with me> if we did not bring Santa to Christmas. But, our family is doing things a bit different this year.

This year we are doing Advent for the first time as a family. I mean, actually reading from the Bible each night, not just eating the chocolate. We have been eating the chocolate for years. Advent is beautiful. Advent takes my favorite day of the year and makes it a four week celebration of hope, peace, joy, and love. Every Christmas carol I hear now, like O Holy Night brings forth such emotion because they are about our Savior coming. Advent honors the wait and anticipation we feel during the Christmas season. The wait for Jesus’ arrival and for God to come to live with us on Earth. The wait feels different this year because it is so good when He does come.

Traditional Christmas songs and philosophy gets me differently this year. I think about this concept of naughty and nice, which was something we never really brought into in our home, but still it is front and center in secular Christmas culture. We sing songs with lyrics like

He’s making a list,

He’s checking it twice,

He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice

Santa Claus is coming to town

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Yet, Jesus came for us all. He knew we are all a mess and we all struggle with something and He came for all of us. Everyone can get the gift He brings because He came to save us all, naughty or nice.

Christmas is about God becoming fully human and living with us, Emmanuel means “God with us.” He came in the most humble of ways to save us. In a world, two thousand years ago and today, that focuses on money, stature, appearance, and power, Jesus came as a baby to poor parents, in a Middle Eastern country, to grow to be short and unattractive, still poor, and lacking governmental power. Yet, He was God. Constantly tempted, yet perfect. Feeling all human emotions, the joy and the suffering, yet obedient. He served others. He sat with the untouchables or social outcasts. He healed. He listened. He taught. He wept for the ones He loved. He wept for Himself knowing the horrible suffering He would endure to save us all and then silently gave Himself over for His own crucifixion. Jesus.

If you do not know Jesus as this loving, kind, serving, forgiving, and yet very confusing person, I encourage you to get to know Him, for yourself, not by what man tells you about Him. Read four books in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Read just these four and get to know Jesus. Not religion, but Christianity. Not the laws and rules and hand-slapping of religion, but the hope, peace, joy, and love that is Jesus. If you need a Bible, please email me at ashleyelindner@gmail.com and I will get a Bible mailed to you!

This year is hard. Everyone knows it and I have written these exact words “this year is hard” in almost every post I have written this year. This is the year that we need hope, peace, joy, and love more than ever. So while I completely love the tradition of Santa and all the joy the celebration of him brings, this year I need to tie myself to the one who lasts all year. The one who truly came to town and truly brought the best gift ever. Salvation from a messy world. Isn’t that what we all want right now, to be saved from this messy world? It has come. He has come and we get to celebrate that this Christmas. Right now. This season.

On December 26th, or really, December 25th at 7 in the morning, when all the gifts are opened, because our kids don’t sleep past 5am on Christmas morning….this year, I will not feel the Christmas disappointment when it is over because the greatest gift we can get has already been given and it continues with us after the gifts are open. We are given a Savior who is hope, peace, joy, and love. This continues throughout the year and through our life between two gardens. Anchoring to Him, who is with us all the time, not just on one day, is the best gift we can receive.

For amazing resources to get to know Jesus better, consider checking out She Reads Truth.

For more posts like this, check out Surrendered, pieces, “This is why I drink.“, Rivers, Rapids, & Waterfalls, and Mountains and Valleys

Can we all view the same season in a different way and still love?

We are all in a season right now.

Collectively we are facing some serious ick that we have not faced before.

Pandemic. Social unrest. Election year. Etc.

and then social media sparking opinions on it all and turning people against one another.

It is a hotbed of straight up mess.

Our world has experienced social unrest before. Our world has experienced a pandemic before. And our world experiences a presidential election every four years. However, this looks so much different now because

1- it is all happening at the same time

2-social media gives us all a chance to share our opinion loudly without having to see the hearts of those we are sharing with

We have somehow forgotten that we are in this together. Collectively. We are turning on one another, rather than walking forward towards unity in love. Yes, we will have different opinions, which is the most amazing thing about perspective. However, we need to be listening with our hearts first and moving towards unity, laced in love, in order to move us to a positive place of change.

No matter where you stand on any of the issues occuring in our society right now and really, everyone has a stance, I think we can collectively say that right now is a bummer. It is hard.

All of a sudden you realize that people you deeply love think different than you. That is not the hard part. This is where growth happens if we open our ears and our hearts, before our mouths.

But… sometimes you also realize that people you deeply love think different than you and are not accepting of how you think.

Or worse yet, people you deeply love think different than you and you are not accepting of how they think. Ouch.

We cannot change how others act or how they perceive us. But we can change how we act and how we perceive others. We can choose to put on love and layer our hearts with grace in order to still see and hear the person we love and to see their view.

I am not saying that we cannot have our own opinions. We need to. What are our values and how can we walk in them? However, I think the way in which we share our opinions can be done in a way that works towards unity, rather than division.

We all know the problems right now.

No. We do not. I do not know your perspective. I only know my own. So sit with me and share your perspective with me. I learned through a previous struggle that it is really hard to dislike someone once you’ve sat down and had a cup of coffee with them. I think there is a lot of truth to this. It doesn’t mean I will have their same opinion, but I can see their perspective.

But, we need to sit with each other and have two sided conversations in order to truly hear the perspective of others. Social media allows for only one sided conversations, often spewing one view, without allowing for reflective dialogue between the person sharing and those receiving the view on their newsfeed. I encourage us all, myself included, to have the hard conversations with those we love, rather than using social media to passive aggressively share our thoughts without allowing for dialogue. This is a huge challenge for me, as I despise conflict <insert all the yucky feelings> but I am learning we will not grow unless we lean into the hard stuff. So, I will try to lean in.

We need to work actively to not allow this season to divide us. On the otherside of this ick, we are going to need our people to get us through whatever ick comes next. There will be more ick. That is just how life goes.

How can we use this current season to draw us closer?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. And be thankful.

– Colossians 3:12-15





I think this is when I must share my email address incase you would like to take this current one sided conversation into a two sided one: ashleyelindner@gmail.com