111 || How to Find Remarkable Beauty in Ordinary Dreams || Ashley Hales

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In this episode, Ashley Hales shares how her life today feels far more ordinary than what she dreamed as a younger person – and why that’s exactly where God wants her right now. Through her story we learn the importance of pressing in to the greater story of the gospel because of how it impacts our lives and relationships with others. She reminds us of our identity in Christ through the story of the prodigal son and God's love for His children. You’ll also discover the value of instituting small disciplines in your life like finding a verse to meditate on, or a way to move your body each day, or anything that helps you detach from your everyday role(s).  


Ashley also talks about why she wrote her first book, Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much (IVP), even though she never expected to author a book. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She’s a writer, speaker, and hosts The Finding Holy Podcast. Ashley is married to a church planter in the southern California suburbs and is a mother to four children. Her writing has been featured in The Gospel Coalition, Books & Culture, and Christianity Today.

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MOPS International
Resurrection Orange County 


Finding Holy in the Suburbs by Ashley Hales
Teach Us to Want by Jen Michel
Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren
Long Days of Small Things by Catherine McNiel
Poetry 180 by Billy Collins

Finding Holy Podcast by Ashley Hales


It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

~ Psalm 127:2 (ESV)

Be still, and know that I am God.
~ Psalm 46:10 (ESV) 

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
~ Song of Songs 6:3 (NIV)

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

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17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

~ Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)



2:25 – About Ashley and her book, Finding Holy in the Suburbs
3:10 – Growing up, her big dream was wanting to change the world and how that changed
5:08 – Years of fighting against the reality of her life and what she thought it should be
5:51 – About accepting life as a gift and learning to share the love of Christ with normal people
6:12 – All the things that came about instead of her original dream
7:25 – Struggles in living with returning home to the suburbs
9:34 – Realizing her snobbishness about suburbanites & how she’s had to repent and root herself in Christ
10:40 – About stepping out to have awkward conversations with her neighbors
12:00 – The façade of comfort of those living in the suburbs
12:49 – Stepping out of her comfort zone to pay attention to people who aren’t like her
13:33 – She never considered herself someone who would write a book
14:30 – How writing became a way to connect to the deeper parts of herself
15:14 – Pressing into God when circumstances don’t match up to the ideal
16:17 – Considering how our places form our loves
17:08 – Their path to ending up back in Orange County, California
18:18 – Motherhood was particularly overwhelming because she was resting her identity on her achievements
20:05 – The struggle in those early years of motherhood
21:25 – Being patient and waiting on God’s timing in the planting of their church
22:26 – Am I feeding on the bread of anxious toil? And who do I think God is?
24:40 – Advice: press into the greater story of the gospel
26:30 – The importance of instituting small disciplines in our daily life
27:47 – Ashley’s favorite resources for dreamers
30:21 – Using the Leader Study Guide to think through how to love your place well
32:27 – Jesus has awakened her to a larger story
35:37 – About the theme for this month (March 2019)
37:00 – My takeaways from this conversation


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The Devoted Dreamers Podcast is produced by Jonathan R. Clauson.
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