Ashley Hales holds a PhD in English from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She’s a writer, speaker, and hosts The Finding Holy Podcast. Ashley’s married to a church planter in the southern California suburbs and the mother to 4. Her writing has been featured in such places as The Gospel Coalition, Books & Culture, and Christianity Today. Her first book is Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much.
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Or check out her work at aahales.com.
Finding Holy in the Suburbs by Ashley Hales
Chapter 1 - Healing Begins at the Place of Hunger
When it comes to building a lifestyle of discipleship, we tend to focus on the spiritual disciplines, reaching out to others to share the gospel, and understanding our the calling that God has placed on our lives. It’s easy to overlook the geography of where all this takes place. And yet, when it comes creating a certain kind of lifestyle, the environment we’re in plays a significant role in how we live. Our homes and our cities shape our lives as we build daily habits and routines around them so we might live more comfortably and be more effective in our work. And that’s why we are talking to Ashley Hales today, who has written a book about Finding Holy in the Suburbs when the suburbs are often seen as places of escape for rich white people who measure their worth by how much stuff they have. Her story shows us there is so much more to the suburbs than the perfectly manicured lawns we see on the surface.
Chapter 2 - Suburban Practices that Lead to Wholeness in God
One of the first things God said after creating Adam was, “It’s not good that Adam’s alone.” We all want to belong. It’s a desire God hardwired into our very existence. But our sinful natures often twist and distort those desires and the places we live often end up shaping who we are. This happens when you face the need for your yard to be the best on the block, to have the nicest car, and to know everything happening on social media all the time. Nice yards, cars, and social media aren’t evil things, but the way we interact with those things can be motivated by a desire to find security and belonging outside of God. In short, they can become idols. But don’t worry. If you find yourself falling into these traps and patterns, there’s hope. In this chapter, Ashley talks about some of these idols we face the antidotes to these desires. When we begin to notice the patterns and think about our lives in the suburbs a little differently, allowing Christ to shape us and form us, we begin to find holy where we’re at and God begins to use us to influence the neighbors around us.
Chapter 3 - The Antidotes to Suburban Idols
As we continue our conversation with Ashley, we explore two more idols that are hidden in the suburbs: business and safety or security. But the real question we need to answer is “How can we abolish these suburban idols in our lives?" The first step is to acknowledge our idolatry through repentance, and the second is to accept our identities as beloved children of God. For God’s love has the power to reach into our hearts and draw us back to him as our gracious and loving Father.
Chapter 4 - Discipleship and Holiness in Everyday Life
When Jesus died on the cross, he invited us to live a new life in a new kingdom. It’s a life lived differently than we’ve ever lived before. This invitation makes the cross a place of hospitality where we join together in a new community to tell a new story. This new story affects every area of your life, especially the everyday, ordinary moments you often think nothing about. But it’s in these ordinary moments where God’s new story plays itself out in some of the most powerful ways imaginable. In this chapter, Ashley talks about her journey of learning to see the cross in this way and how this new story has changed the way she lives life in the suburbs.