Finding the Balance: Space & Community {#WholeMama}

My posting schedule is off this week, because sometimes you just need to take a step back. Sometimes you need space.

And how fitting, because today #WholeMama is talking about space.

Chicago Sunset

I see my children struggle with space. Desiring it yet also wanting to be surrounded by each other, their friends. Me. Space is funny that way, isn’t it? We desire space, we need it, but we also need and desire community. I don’t know about you, but I struggle in the very same way. My desire for community and my desire for space at odds with each other. Throw into the mix, 4 children that desire all of me, a wonderful husband that enjoys being around me (crazy, I know!), an amazing community of friends that are more like family, and a God that wants my time to honor Him. And that’s where I am: jumping headfirst into community while keeping boundaries that value my quiet time and my family time. 


I have shared before how I love quiet time. During the school year quiet time comes easy, almost naturally. (You can read about how I do it, here.) But right now, it is summer time. That grand time of year where family vacations, sprinklers, gardens, and backyard adventures reside. And for me, summer is also the time of year that kills my quiet time. 

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Cookies & Community: A Look at Community & a Delicious Cookie Recipe

This has been a great weekend. One full of community. Full of friends, both new and old. Full of late nights. Games played. Beautiful, vulnerable, grace-filled conversations. So really, it was one of the best kinds of full weekends.


We started the weekend off with seeing one of our oldest friends, “Uncle” Josh. Whenever he comes into town, we get ready for silly fun with the kids, great pizza, games, and homemade cookies.

So today, I’m going to share our delicious, super secret, cookie recipe. Except, when I say “our,” I mean Greg’s. I have never actually made these any cookies myself. And it’s not our recipe. It’s actually from the Joy of Cooking. This paragraph was just a series of disappointments. You’re welcome.

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The Generous Vulnerability of Hospitality


Last August, my husband and I moved and purchased a new home. It is a much larger home than our prior house and, honestly, is more than we ever dreamed. It is an amazing blessing and a way we truly saw God at work in our lives. With this extra space, we look forward to the ways we can bless others. We hope to help children and families that are walking through difficult times. We also want to open our home to friends and family as much as possible. We want to share our home, this immense blessing, with those in our lives. We desire for our home to be a place where we can be open, honest, vulnerable, and generous with others.

We hope our home is a place where community is fostered.

Last week, I wrote a post about our desire to be known. To be able to share our stories and be truly seen and understood. Without judgement. To live in true and beautiful community. It is something I am passionate about because I have seen the change in my own life when I intentionally moved to live in community. Yes. I moved for community, though this move is actually two-fold. I literally moved because of my desire need to live in community. I also had to get myself to a place that could live in authentic and vulnerable community. Really, community is just that vital and an amazing display of grace in my life. If you are not feeling that community. If it is missing in your life, please, please contact me. I would love to stand with you, together, in this virtual community.


Fostering community; real, true community can be difficult. You have to put yourself out there. You need to vulnerably invite people into your story, your world. You can do this by sharing your story with them. By sharing your life in an honest and open way. But you can also do this by inviting them into your home. By being hospitable. I grew up in a home where people were always welcomed. There was always plenty of food to eat, to share and people were always invited, even to just stop by. I loved that and hope to create a similar atmosphere. I want friends and family to feel welcome and at home in my home. I want them to know it is a safe place. A place they will be met with unconditional love.

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Dare To Be Known


I have been loving American Pickers lately. Thank you Netflix for allowing me to binge watch an entire season of a show in just weeks. (Yes it took me weeks. I’m old and try to go to bed at a decent time.) When I first began watching, I didn’t really care for the show. Yet, as I continued watching I was struck by the way the people selling their “treasures” enjoyed having Mike and Frank take a look around. These are strangers. Complete strangers. Yet here they were, being welcomed into their homes. I just couldn’t understand it.


After about 9 or 10 episodes, I realized what it was. These people. These people wanted to be known. They were eager to be understood. To have someone, even a stranger, enter into their home. Their space. Their world. And to know them. To know them with their mess, with their too much. To see them for who they are. The messy and the beautiful. The vulnerable and the honest. To know them without judgement. Not for their “junk,” their mess. But for them. Even if that included their too much.

When the Pickers would finally depart, the exchange was often heartfelt. It was incredible really. These people, just moments ago complete strangers, had become friends. They were known. Really and truly. Deeply known. Their stories were heard. They were understood. They were seen. And they were slow to say goodbye. Mike and Frank had become part of their community. Their identity. Simply by entering in. They had come into their world and were forever welcomed back into it, the next time they are passing by.


What an amazing legacy. To be the people that enter someones world and truly see them. Truly see them for who they are and who they are growing into. To be the person that is given access to a friends story. To their life, their mess, their world. I am sure it comes as no surprise that I love community. I blog about it’s importance (it made it’s way into my very first post), and I recently included it as one of the important lessons I have learned in marriage. And this. This is why. I want to be that person. That person that intentionally creates community with those around me. I want to be a safe person, someone that can encourage others. Someone that is vulnerable, open, honest and encourages others to be that way as well.

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A Thankful Heart


This past weekend, my husband and I were invited to attend a ball! Yes, that’s right, a ball. We were excited to attend an event that was outside our “normal.” Really, just getting to go out was great. This is my husband’s busy time at work, so a night out (and a FREE one at that!) was exactly what we needed.

But as we drove around to find a parking spot, we drove past people living in homelessness. I realized that something had changed within me – I was heart broken that people had paid thousands of dollars to attend this function tonight. Yet, right here were people – left forgotten, broken, and alone. Walking into the ball, I was struck with the extravagance of it all. It was beautiful, but it was too much.

Please know, I am not against beautiful events or parties. I am not against having a nice home or nice things. I enjoy all of those things, and I think that is okay. I am, however, struck by the extreme differences and saddened that if some of this money was given to organizations focused on helping people, the world could be a different, better place. And really, it should be.


Earlier that day, I had been reading from Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts, about thankfulness. She recounted how living in thankfulness had begun to cultivate a life of trust. A life without constant worry and fear; because we spend time remembering, recounting God’s prior faithfulness.

I had realized that this was also true in me. I have found freedom from my fears, my parental worries. And when I forget, I return to the feet of Jesus and ask Him to help me leave these bags at His feet. I return to my list of thankfulness, and I try again. I have also found contentment. Happiness with what I have, and truly seeing the fullness of it all.

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Welcome to Grace Mountain Diaries

Welcome to Grace Mountain Diaries! 

I have been wanting to start blogging for over a year now. It began as an idea to meld my real life with my Etsy shop (CrochetASmile).  But my desires changed, life got busy, and I put it off. Starting a blog came back to significance after sharing at a MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) meeting with my church. It awoke a vision, a completely different vision, for this blog. This blog would be a place where Jesus is known, where women are encouraged, and where we can be real together.


I should begin by introducing myself. My hope for this blog is that you will find community here. That begins here, with me.

I’m Ashley. Over the last few months, I have been undergoing a change. I like to think of it as ARISING. I am being TRANSFORMED by GRACE. And it has been amazing, exhausting, and emotional. I don’t think I have ever cried more than I have these last few months. But these tears have been beautiful. They have been a shedding of old, a leaving behind my old ways, and my (although at times, begrudgingly) picking up of new. I have fallen more and more in love with Jesus in this time. And have been a recipient of His GRACE more times than I can count. These last few months have been a time where I have been free to BLOOM.

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