April 18, 2014

Living Alive and Passionately Pursuing Life

When I knew I wanted to give the blog a make-over, I prayerfully considered a new tagline. 

This is my personal blog, so I really don't feel the need to be tied to a specific niche. I wanted the tagline to be big and all-encompassing, I don't ever want to feel boxed in by my title or tagline like I have before, I wanted something long lasting. I want to be able to write where ever the Lord leads and whatever topic I feel will touch your (the readers) hearts.

I settled on passionately pursing the Christian life as a woman, wife, and adoptive mother. And there is so much meaning behind these words. Just reading that tagline makes me so happy.

I wanted people to be able to tell at a glance that:

*I am a Christian*

This means that my writing is generally geared towards looking at things from a Christian worldview, or seeking to find God's purpose in whatever I'm writing about, or at least it will have a Christian undertone.

*I will write about topics that generally fall under the headings of my being a woman, a wife, and a parent blessed by adoption*

I believe God has created and called me to encourage women by connecting and sharing our journeys so we know we aren't alone. Therefore, I often write about things that relate to my being a woman or a wife or a mother or an adoptive parent. This is my life and this is where my stories generally come from.

*I am passionately pursuing life*

This is something that I feel God urging me towards, yet I'm not quite there. Now that I am starting to feel like I am beginning to thrive and not just survive, I want to become passionate about life again.

Life had become more like a burden to carry instead of a gift of grace to enjoy each day. I lost my passion in a lot of areas in the stress of everything that has happened to me in the past several years, and I'm ready to live alive and awake fully each day passionately pursuing life.

Q4U: Are you with me? Do you feel on the edge of the next chapter of your life? Do you feel filled with passion? If not, how can you get it back? 

Just so you know, the new look and name and tagline doesn't necessarily mean that the content will change much around here. It just makes it easier to see what you are going to get just by a glance.

April 17, 2014

When It's Time for a Change

A few years ago I was blogging at my old online home Putting God First Place and it just didn't seem to capture everything that I wanted my writing to be about. It had gotten so specific and the title was lording over me like I could never measure up.

So I moved to this new online home a few months after we first got the kids and thought Fostering Love at Home was the perfect title! I wrote about the change and how I was like a snake shedding my skin. And it has suited me so well for the last two years.

Yet, I am starting to feel boxed in again. I feel like the title, playing on words, focuses more on fostering than our current life after the courtroom.

So, it's time to shake off these clothes and get a make over!

I hope you like it! 

Come and let me know!

p.s. you don't have to do anything to continue getting my blog updates, subscribers will still get the posts sent straight to them. The url blog.ashleykwells.com will stay the same.

April 11, 2014

Life Is for More than Just Surviving

I was at Panera working on my laptop last Friday when a mother and her two kids sat in the booth a few spots down the row. I heard the mom's exhaustion in her voice as she gently asked the kids to sit down while they waited for the food to be ready, then the buzzer went off and the mom walked away to get their meals.

The kids were rowdy and not listening. The mom was now grinding her teeth and letting out the words "Knock it off" under her breath at her children while she delivered the food to the table. They barely made it through the meal. Interruptions were many as a cup got knocked over, the mom defused several arguments while trying to eat her own food and motivate the kids to eat theirs as well, and the younger child was trying to climb over the back of the seat into the next booth.

The mother seemed so desperate. At the end she stated that they should have never come, she just wanted to do something fun and they couldn't even make it through dinner without difficulties.

Can I tell you something? 

I have been that mother.

My heart sank and I cried, literal tears, for her two booths over. I was that desperate last year. Struggling to get by. Trying to do fun things while disappointed that nothing seemed to happen without issues arising.

I saw the mom walk to the exit with shoulders slumped over and she seemed like she was just surviving.

Through my tears, I remind myself in my head,

Life is for more than just surviving. 

Motherhood isn't something that should wear me down and steal my joy making me feel like I just CAN NOT continue on.

I do believe that survival mode has its place. I mean, I became an instant mother to four children. I had to learn how to survive. Yet, it had to come to a point where I did more than just survive. I needed to thrive.

After we adopted the kids I struggled with some deep rooted fears and anxieties. Through my healing I discovered how the roller coaster of foster adoption and the stress of it all had really taken it's toll on me. I continually felt like I was drowning due to the weight of the every day life.

I knew things had to change. There had to be a better way to live. My husband deserved more from me. My kids deserved more from me. I knew there just had to be more...

I set out to make 2014 the year for me. Not in a selfish way, but in a I-have-to-put-the-oxygen-mask-on-myself-first kind of way. I knew I had take better care of myself. I needed to thrive.

This word, thrive, has been swirling in my mind all year. Really, besides "me" that could definitely be my word of the year.

I'm seeking to thrive in this life. I only get one chance at this. I need to be all in and all there. 

I have seen great progress in my own life already in just four short months. I'm smiling more. I'm having fun again, regularly. I'm not so tired every day feeling like I'm running on fumes. I have energy to be creative and dream. I'm not sick in bed every few weeks with headaches.

I see room for more growth, yet I am learning each day the great importance of self-care, especially as a mother.

I am doing three main things this year to take care of myself better, so far.

Firstly, I've done my best to make sleep a priority consistently. I try to go screen-free after 9:30 and in bed soon-to-go-to-sleep by 10:30. Because I've been doing this regularly, I have even been able to start getting up, just a bit, before the kids each day to spend time in the Word.

The second thing is my weekly "night out." One night a week I go out right before dinner, or right after depending on the week, and spend time to myself or with a friend for a few hours. I use this time to pour into relationships (because I've been trying to do better about cultivate friendships, goodness it's so hard when you are a mom!) or write and dream.

The last thing I've been doing so far is making time for things that refuel me, such as reading and being outside in the sun. I am amazed at how much I've read this year! I've been taking books with me to the park, reading in the last hour of my day, or hanging in the backyard after dinner with a book in my hand. Reading is such a life-giving hobby of mine. I've also been very intentionally to be outside in the sun as much as possible because I know it gives me all sorts of happiness and energy!

It really has been a simple shift.

I needed a perspective change and a realization that I can't pour out over and over and over without refilling my own personal supply. It does severe damage to live like that for so long...I am so happy that my life is feeling more full these days instead of running on empty.

Q4U: How do you go beyond just surviving and thrive in life?
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