Ashley Hales is a scholar in Christ’s beautiful, blessed-filled stories. She has a Ph.D. in studying them for a lifetime. Her breath of knowledge astounds me. The authors that she reads and quotes that she shares in her posts reel me in and keep me coming back to her blog to learn more about the art of writing and storytelling.
I learn something new every time I visit her blog. I hope her story teaches you anew about the love and fulfillment we find in Christ Jesus.
Ashley Hales: Biography Information
I’m Ashley Hales — I have a Ph.D. in English from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland but I spend most of my time chasing around my 4 littles and helping my husband plant a church in southern California.
I’m writing about book about belonging and living in the suburbs.
Ashley Hales: Gospel Story, How She Came to Know Christ as Her Savior.
I grew up as a Christian and vividly remember “praying the prayer” in a little red plastic chair as a child. I grew up in the church. Jesus was as close to me as the flannograph stories and later, in the cool youth group songs and Bible studies. I imbibed that the best way to follow Jesus was to be really intense in your devotion. Yet years later, I’m still learning that Jesus runs to meet us like the father does for the prodigal son.
It’s a message I need to wash over me every day.
Her Favorite Verse and How It Became Important to Her
I don’t have a favorite verse. I love that Christ’s power is present in our weakness. I keep turning over the parable of the prodigal sons, because I see myself in both the younger and elder sons. I am weak and needy and I am the good kid — but both are lost. I can so easily turn to my own merits (or sins) as that what brings me praise or condemnation and I’m absolutely captivated by a God who risks humiliation for his creatures, who loves them with an everlasting love that is not contingent on merit, but on his love for them. Wow. I keep trying to see my accomplishments in light of this.
Instead of turning to my Ph.D., my kids, my husband, my many “interesting” moves around the world …I want to be defined by this Jesus who runs to meet me because I'm his child. Click To Tweet
Her Blogging Story
I had a blog back in the day when it was a way to update family and friends about our life in Scotland in grad school, and then a spot to put up baby pictures. Since then, I started blogging again in 2014 as a way to save my soul. I was having a hard time dealing with four kids under the age of 7, an impending move away from the longest home we’d had as a married couple, and no creative outlet. So I signed up for Write31 Days as a challenge and to write in community. That month of writing reframed my mothering, my faith, and gave me a new mission.
Her Blogging Mission
I want to help people chase beauty and practice sustained attention in a world full of noise. I think the best way to do this is through telling our stories together.
Her Top Three Posts Based on Readership Statistics
- My Dirty Little Secret: I Never Wanted to be a Mother
- Why I’m Framing my Ph.D. Above the Changing Table (for SheLoves Magazine)
- What I’ll Yell at You When I see You at Target: A Letter to the Mamas
Her Three Favorite Posts
- I do like the above, but also:
- The Ache of All the Lives we do not Live
- How Rejection Was Really the Beginning of the Real Thing
- A Grace that Shatters (for Amber Haines)
What Inspires Her to Write for Christ?
I have no other narrative that makes sense of my good days and my bad. Jesus sees my feeble attempts at mothering w
Her Favorite Song
I don’t know that I have a favorite. My tastes change depending on my mood. I love the melancholy storytelling of “Carrie & Lowell” by Sufjan Stevens, the family dance party dynamic of Taylor Swift’s “1989,” reworked hymns by Indelible Grace, and of course, Adele.
Authors Who Inspire Her or Motivate Her to Write
Amber Haines, author of Wild in the Hollow; Robert Macfarlane, a nature writer, author of (most recently), Landmarks; I still think of Ryan Masters’ haunting essay in Image Journal, and I return regularly to the great prose at Books & Culture. I return to Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, for great writing advice and to not take myself too seriously. And all my Redbud Writers Guild sisters who inspire me and keep me sane with Voxer conversations, especially Jen Pollock Michel (author of Teach Us to Want and Keeping Place, IVP), Alia Joy, and Aleah Marsden.
A Personal Blogging Story
When I’ve published work on the hardness or unplanned-ness of mothering, I’ve been handed so many stories of other women. When I write about how marriage is hard, and mothering is hard, and there is always a longing for more, I find my tribe.
I’m finding when I’m vulnerable it allows other people to share their own stories about brokenness and resurrection. (Go over and submit your own today: www.aahales.com/submissions — I’d love to read your work!).
One particularly memorable moment came from a man I went to college with. We both have PhD’s, and he’s an English professor (what I thought I’d be doing with my life). My blog felt like an indulgent hobby, not really worth the time or energy at that point and definitely not what I should be doing when I have a PhD (I had an internal monologue about “potential,” and “what am I doing with my life?” and “do words change anything?”). I received a lovely note from him (in the mail!) expressing the importance of sharing my words for free, for encouraging him and others with my blog, and that it was not indulgent or wasteful. I still have it saved in a special spot.
Her Blogging Tips
Work hard and set goals. But more importantly, I’d love to see people view blogging as a great creative experiment, to test ideas, to help others, and to build community. I’m always drawn to fabulous writing that gets at my heart. I love writing that is authentic and in-the-moment and I love writing that surprises. Give yourself the freedom to go there without worrying about branding and stats and subscribers. That will come. But only if you have something for people to come for.
Social Media Links
Your turn: What inspires you most about Ashley Hales, her testimony, and her blog. Please share in the comments.
Contributing to many linkup communities listed on my Linkup Parties page,
Be sure to check out my introduction post to see more features of inspirational Christian women bloggers.