Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Character Transformation

I love reading more than most people know. Most people know I enjoy reading, but few know the extent of my passion for it. Like many avid readers, when I read a fiction novel, I don't just simply read the words and comprehend the context. Rather, I delve into the story. I insert myself into it, I feel like the characters, I think like the characters, I am transformed into the characters. It's the same way when I watch movies--that's when I declare something is a good movie, show, or acting--when I am transformed into the characters and forget I'm watching a movie/show. That's why I can't fall asleep to the TV or to a movie--I'm too involved in it.

I read a book yesterday called Safe Haven, written by Nicholas Sparks (my favorite author). If you've read at least two of his books, you would probably find that he has a certain story line that most of his books follow. I love them and his writing style, but they are generally the same story, just with a few details changed. This book was different though. It deviated from his normal writing style. And this book made me think about 49038 kinds of things and was one of the most emotionally exhausting books I have ever read. (It was also my favorite book by him and one of my favorite books that I have ever read and seriously do recommend reading it, even after all this.) It was exhausting and I even had nightmares about it. I had no idea that it was going to be about what it was. I started it late Monday night, around midnight and read until 5am. I was so tired, but I tossed and turned and had nightmares and woke up again at 7am. I was awake for a few more minutes and dozed on and off until 11am, nightmares still occurring. I knew I had to finish the book, no matter how difficult it was. I finished at 2pm and could barely stand up to get out of bed. I was exhausted from the lack of sleep, exhausted from the book, exhausted from the nightmares.

(Warning: spoiler alert for the book)

The book was about domestic abuse. It was about a husband and wife. It was about the wife doing something wrong, not being perfect enough, not doing what the husband wanted and so he hit her. He kicked her, he beat her, he raped her, he threatened her, he held a gun to her head. The wife tried running away twice and he tightened his grip on her. He locked his wallet, didn't give her access to money, didn't let her have a driver's license, took her everywhere, called 6 times a day, monitored her every move. And then she ran away again. For good. She got away for almost half a year...and then he found her. He was a detective working for the police department after all and he was good at his job. He found her and because she fooled him and ran away even with all that he did to make sure she didn't, he was mad. But he was conflicted because he loved her, so he just wanted to get her and bring her back home so they could be husband and wife. But he hated for the reasons aforementioned, and so he wanted to kill her. It was just a book. It was just fiction. But like the book Redeeming Love, this is for real. Domestic abuse happens. Real people live this every day. I have written a number of papers and done quite a bit of research on domestic abuse throughout my college years.

This book broke my heart and caused me to have nightmares because I was transformed into that character. I was transformed into the wife. And when I remembered that real people in real life are being abused, my heart broke even more. Having a broken heart is exhausting.

Sparks wrote the book in three different perspectives. One was from the husband. And by reading his perspective on the abuse, and from my research, I've been able to understand the general concept of abuse and how/why it happens. Generally, it's not done by a "bad" guy who does "bad" things and is just a jerk and hates his kid/wife/girlfriend (or in the rare cases, the sexes are switched). There is more to it than that. In this book, the husband did love his wife. He didn't abuse her out of hatred. And every time he apologized, sincerely believing that he didn't mean it. Given his perspective, I knew that I cared about him too, even though I hated him. I wanted him to get arrested, I wanted him to suffer, I wanted him to "go away and never return" (name that movie!). I also wanted to help him, somehow.

Essentially, I wanted justice. (Read the book and see how it goes, I plead you!) Bringing it completely back to real life, I want to be part of the movement that brings justice to the world. While just, still being compassionate. I want to give what I have to love on others. No matter the cost. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Africa Taught Me

I went to South Africa in July, 2010. While I was there there were a few things I learned.

1. The entire Bible is relevant
2. God speaks all languages
3. Not everyone lives like an American
4. Education is important
5. Not everyone has heard of Jesus

The Entire Bible is Relevant
I grew up in church world and in church world we primarily focus on the New Testament and about how cool Jesus is and what our actions should be to reflect what we believe. In church world, I looked at the Old Testament, but I struggled with connecting them to today's times. When I was in Africa, I learned that there is a purpose to every part of the Bible. There was a purpose for when it was written, way back when. And there is a purpose for when it's being read, right now. I never really understood how Deuteronomy 18:9-11 was relevant today, because I never really saw that.  In South Africa, that was the verse that they are the most challenged with. The entire Bible is relevant, in someway. Even today.

God Speaks All Languages
Who knew that God didn't only speak English?! This may seem like a "no, duh" thing--I thought it was too. But I didn't really get it until I heard prayer and worship in Swahili, Zulu, and Sasotho did I really get it. God speaks every single language there is and He speaks it better than anyone. I don't understand every language--I barely understand English--but He does. We can communicate to Him in other ways other than English. That was a huge concept for me.

Not Everyone Lives Like an American
America is a great country--I love America and Americans. We really are a wealthy country with "wealthy" people. While not EVERY American lives in a "nice" home, MOST Americans do. While not EVERY American has enough to eat, MOST Americans do. While not EVERY American has a job, MOST Americans do. America really is the land of the free, the home of the brave.

The unemployment rate in South Africa--a better part of the African continent--is at 25% (2010). America's is at 9% (2010). The poverty rate in South Africa is at 57% (people who live below the poverty line). In America, the poverty rate is at 15%. In South Africa, the literacy rate is at about 80% (actually, pretty high--the overall literacy rate in underdeveloped countries is at 51%). In America, the literacy rate is at 99%. We are privileged and we live well.

I don't remember how big my house is at home, but I will say this--we definitely don't have one of the bigger houses in America. But it does have four bedrooms. It has two full bathrooms. It was a full kitchen. It a dining room, a living room, and a family room. It has a garage. It has a driveway, a front yard, and backyard. It has a sliding glass door. It has doors for all of the bedrooms. There are windows in every room. There is a fireplace.

The biggest house I saw in South Africa (and through conversations with the family, we learned that they were one of the wealthiest families in their village) had two bedrooms, one bathroom, no garage, no backyard, no real front yard, few windows, a small kitchen that barely fit five people just to stand, and one common room. I live well. Americans live well.

Education is Important
Americans rip on school all the dang time. We talk about how much we hate going to school, how evil our teachers are, how much homework sucks, the list goes on. I've heard people get upset with the fact that it's mandatory to go to school until a certain age (sixteen, I believe?). Not only do we GET to go to school, we GET to go to school for free.

I'm not going to start bragging about how great the actual education system is in America, because I think it needs some vast improvement. But it's still pretty dang cool that every American has the privilege to learn and acquire knowledge..for free (until higher education..that's a fun time..). That's cool and something that people in South Africa long for.

I met a girl named Cindy. Cindy was thirteen when I met her...and in fourth grade. When I was in fourth grade, I was nine. By the time I was thirteen I reached the eighth grade. One of Cindy's brothers was eight and he hadn't even started school. I talked with Cindy about school and she gushed about how much she loves it and how wonderful it was to learn and be able to read and write and do math problems.

Not Everyone Has Heard of Jesus
In America, it's almost impossible to not have heard the name Jesus (in fact, I've never encountered anyone who hasn't). Now, there are definitely a ton of people who haven't actually heard ABOUT Jesus in America or who don't really know who He is, but His name is pretty common. In South Africa, the majority of Basothos that we talked to had never even heard the name. Mind blowing, huh?


I didn't realize that every country wasn't like America. It was a concept that I knew, but didn't really grasp or understand the depths of. Africa taught me to get outside of myself--there is a whole world that is vastly different than America. And I should probably get to know it. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Like a Tug Boat?

Tuesday was a great day. It was seriously awesome. Tonight (er, Tuesday night), something happened though.

I was confronted with my sin. The Holy Spirit tugged at me and said, "Yo, Ash...that thing that you just did like 20 minutes ago..that wasn't right. In fact, there are about 4 different things that were wrong about what just happened..one being ignoring me until you were out of the situation."

Oops.

I was in my room when I really talked with God. I love my room because it's just...safe. When I was in my room, I really listened to the Holy Spirit and even though I was confronted with my sin and brokenness, I still felt mercy rushing over me.

I serve a God of love, mercy, and grace. A God who is just, who doesn't let me get away with my sin, who says, "My dear daughter, oh how I love you, no matter what". Wow.

And instead of saying: "Whatever God, I had to do it. I couldn't do what you're asking me to do. I still love you...just because I'm not ALWAYS obedient doesn't mean I'm not usually disobedient. Just because I am like Peter right now doesn't really mean anything. Tonight didn't mean anything. It'll be fine."




I had to decide...

Do I really want to be like Jesus? Do I really want Him as my role model? Do I really want to be a radical disciple, no matter the cost?

These may seem like easy things to answer. On the surface, they are. On the surface, it seems like any Christian would say, "Well, duh". But when we get to the core, the real root and meaning of these questions. That's not how I answer. I'm answering with hesitation. I'm answering with shame. I'm answering with a wavery voice, unsure. I want to be bold. I want to answer with confidence. I want to answer without hesitation. I want to say, Heck yes, absolutely, no doubt about it.

Before you start questioning my faith in Christ, realize that these are hard questions to answer. Realize that our lives drastically change when we become radical disciples. Sometimes, our lives can SUCK when we stand up for Christ. Am I willing to risk it? I think so. But it's hard. 


I then turned off all the lights in my room, except for a small lamp, turned on worship music and sang out loud in my room.

Here's the deal. I screw up. A lot. I mess up over and over and over again. That was always something I KNEW, but I didn't understand. How do I mess up? In what ways do I screw up often? Do I really disobey that God all that often? Am I really a sinner? I needed concrete answers. And tonight I got them. But that led to a beautiful thing and wonderful worship time.

I didn't let this upset my relationship with God. I didn't let this be the beginning of excuses. I didn't let this ruin my day. I didn't let the devil win. My Jesus is victorious over sin. All sin. My sin. Your sin. He is victorious and He forgives.

Christ followers, let's stop messing around. Let's stop holding back. Let's stop treating Jesus like He's not our role model. And when we fall, when we start answering those questions with a big fat "NO", we can be comforted in the fact that we can be forgiven. And we are still the redeemed. And we will have another opportunity to speak boldly about Christ.


Friday, November 11, 2011

According to Freud

Freud is a hoot. He's a whacky dude with horrible writing skills (Have you read Civilization and its Discontents?!) and fascinating ideas. In my Social Psychology class, we did a projection test and we're going to try it here so you can do it too, if you'd like. Freud is all about the unconscious and tapping into it, and that's precisely what this test aims to do.

How To Do It
1. Get comfortable. Lay down, close your eyes, kick off your (Sunday) shoes, whatever you need to do.
2. Breathe deeply. In..out..in...out
3. Focus on your breathing...breathe and relax for like 5 minutes.
4. Picture yourself on a cloud..a very light, fluffy, and comfortable cloud.
5. You're entering a new land...what does the land look like?
6. Get off the cloud and keep moving forward until you run into water--it can be any kind of water. What kind of water is it?
7. Continue to go forward until you see an animal. Describe the animal.
8. Keep going until you see a structure. What kind of structure is it? Describe it.
9. Continue forward..you see an object ahead. Again, you see an object ahead. It's a special object--what is it?

Okay, that whole thing took us about 25 minutes or so and it's to have someone else facilitate it..but anyways, here are my responses and what Freud says each thing means:

Disclaimer: I suck at relaxing. I think I consciously thought about everything...I think I was still able to control my thoughts. But, I didn't know what anything meant, so whether or not Freud's ideas still apply to me, I don't know. But tapping into my unconscious is really difficult because I'm "so stressed and tense all the time" (according to one of my friends in my class). I wrote down everything I saw before we  discussed what each one meant. It's still fascinating and may still be unconscious thinking regardless of what I think....


New Land

  • What I saw: Buildings--tall, with lots of lights, very city-like...sort of like how I imagine New York City...I got off the cloud and as I began to look and take in the city, a boy appeared and he and I started to embark on looking at the city before the next direction was given.
  • Freud says: Summation of current life...what I saw resembles my life now. 
  • What that might mean (My interpretation with Freud's ideas): My life is very busy, hustle and bustle all the time, lots of things going on...and then the boy thing threw me off..


Water
  • What I saw: A brook hidden behind lots of trees that was pretty secluded and only one person knew about other than myself. The boy was with me and we walked to the brook together, however we were much more interested in the journey there then reaching the destination (quite vivid at this part). From far away, the brook almost looked shallow, as it didn't seem to have very much water, and as though it would dry up, but once we got there and really explored, we saw that there actually was a lot of water, flowing steadily, yet rapidly, and it was much deeper than it originally seemed. It was private and a fun place to be, like our own little secluded area. (When we were told to go onto the next step, I kept wanting to come back to the brook and just be in the water and with the boy...)
  • Freud says: It resembles sex
  • What It might mean: I literally laughed out loud as soon as I heard that. Seriously? Maybe Freud was onto something. Everyone else saw waterfalls (that was the most popular) and before we were told what the water meant, I was like "Man, I didn't even think of a waterfall..but a waterfall just seems to be too powerful and too...much for me. It's weird that I thought of a brook because I much prefer like...fun and fast rivers, rather than serene waters so I wonder what this means". And then come to find out it means sex...I mean my vivid image was pretty explicit. Just me and a boy who explored other things prior to the brook and we were more interested in other things than going to the brook, though we were excited about it...and it's a place that is secluded and private and solely for us, where we have more fun than imagined and seen to anyone else. How exciting!


Animal
  • What I saw: Kangaroo...basically Roo from Winnie the Pooh 
  • Freud says: This is my alter ego
  • What it might mean: I was never a big Winnie the Pooh fan, so I found it odd that I thought of Roo...Anyhoo, Roo is super cute and little. I just now did research on Roo and found out that Roo didn't really have favorites and didn't eat the healthy things he was supposed to. Hahaha


Structure 
  • What I saw: Huge building--it was tall and beautiful and what I imagine an embassy to look like. It was really busy, but I felt safe. It kind of like a cross between an airport and Grand Central Station in some parts, but the overall structure was like an embassy...There were lots of food options and restaurants and many people in suits running around and doing things. Everyone was important and doing important things, except a few people who were sitting on benches. That boy was still with me, and we first went and talked with them and then they got off the benches. It was pristine and new..it was part of something and I was able to communicate with a lot of people in various ways--via telephone, in person, and something that resembled FaceTime. 
  • Freud says: How I feel about society and my place in it.
  • What it might mean: Whoa. I see the world very different from most everyone else, as many others said they saw small shacks or broken cottages...out of the people that shared, I was the only person to think of a nice building. I see society as a place with lots of food. I see it as a safe place, so long as people are moving. I see something that doesn't fit--like people sitting on the benches--and I do something about it (even if I'm with a boy, apparently), by reminding them that they matter. I think everyone is important and has the capability to do important things. I have hope for society and see it is as beautiful, which is a different concept that what most people have. 


Special Object
  • What I saw: A marble like object, and when it was held in a certain way, it could do neat things (things wasn't specified during the test, unfortunately. I kept trying to figure it out and nothing came about...all I was sure of was that big and cool things happened).
  • Freud says: Resembles a future...could be mine or somebody else's, but usually your own. 
  • What it might mean: My future may seem inadequate, especially before it is approached. But when pushed and with the right support system, I may do big and cool things. My future will blow people's minds and it'll be awesome, just the way in which that'll happen is not yet apparent. 

Did you do this? What were your results? Thoughts on my results? My favorite was the sex interpretation, which was closely followed by the way in which I view society (water and the structure). Oh Freud...he's so fun. 

Anyhoo, that is me, according to Freud


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Coexistence

Have you ever seen this bumper sticker?



I may upset people with what I'm about to say...and if you can give me a logical reason as to why I'm in the wrong place, let me know and I may change my mind. But for now, I hold onto this position: I don't like this bumper sticker.

But why not, Ashley? It's all about harmony and we can all exist in peace. Who wouldn't like this?


Two reasons.

1. I don't think we were made to just exist. We were made to do more than that and we have so much more purpose. Yes, we should be getting along and care about others and not be haters toward one another. But I think we should also be passionate about things, beliefs, and people. I think we need to go beyond just exiting with other humans and move into that scary and difficult threshold of loving on people and legitimately caring about people--even when it sucks or it's not returned.

Something I love about Jesus is how much he didn't simply exist and when Christ followers are stepping up and not being lazy, that's when things happen. Jesus called out hypocrisy when it was damaging, forgave people constantly, followed through with everything He said, gave agape love even when not returned. Jesus lived and I really think that the lives we have demand to be lived and not just exist. I think that's why people feel empty and useless when they aren't being purposeful--because we were made with purpose and to have purpose. Simply existing does not seem to do anybody any good.

2. To coexist means to "exist in mutual tolerance despite different ideologies or interests". Essentially, this holds the idea of you have your beliefs, I have mine, and neither of us are wrong, also called relativism. In all practicality and reality, if we're being rational, not all of these religions represented can be right.

Relativism has become a popular and widely accepted belief around the world, particularly around the United States. We just don't want to offend anyone, so we tiptoe around and act like we don't believe in anything. What the filth? What's the point in believing in something if it doesn't drive you into action? I believe in people. I believe in God. I believe that individuals matter. I believe that what Jesus did on the cross matters. Belief doesn't mean anything without action. So I take action on those beliefs. Belief and action are essential. Individually, not much impact is made. Together, something can happen.

My challenge for you is this:
Believe in something and live purposely. 


That doesn't happen by simply coexisting. That doesn't happen by not having any truth or being irrational. Know what you believe in and why you believe in it and do something about it. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Being Affected By Something That Didn't Happen

I was "supposed" to have gone to India over this past summer for two months. I was going to go with other women from the United States and serve people in India. There were a lot of hard things I had to work through by not going, some of which I will share here, because I think I owe it to people to try to better explain what happened and how it affected me. 

To better understand this post, I encourage you to read the posts where I began to tell about the trip and when I announced that I wasn't going to India.

June 5, 2011. India. I moved. I went. I acted. I didn't end up going, but that doesn't mean I was wrong. We are to always be moving and doing. Always go at full force. God is always the Provider. I still trust in Him and still follow hard after Him. He's not finished with me yet. I am still being used by Him. I cannot stop acting/moving. I can't stop trusting Him or fellow believers. I must still love, trust, and pray. God still loves me, still loves India. 

I felt a weight lifted off when I decided not to go. I was doing too much, taking a lot on. But I never stopped moving or growing. I often felt alone, but I was always influencing and loving. I must continue to do, while also working on being vulnerable. 

God is love. God calls us to act and love. Always. 

Even though I didn't go to India, I was still affected by it. Not doing something you plan on doing sucks. Especially when it's due to money. When people ask me why I didn't go to India, I simply tell them, "I didn't raise enough money" and each and every time they say, "That sucks" and then we move on. End of conversation. It did, and does, suck. This is a list of some of the things I had to battle with by not going.
  1. So many people said that if God wanted me to go, I would have gone.
    • I didn't go, so does that mean God didn't want me to go? I'm not so sure. I struggled a lot with this concept over the summer because I didn't understand this. God can work miracles, so why didn't He? I didn't understand it, and I still don't fully. Because I do think that we need to always be acting, doing, and moving. Jesus tells us to go tell the nations, so how does that line up with Him not wanting me to go? I'm working on a better answer. 
  2. "Everything happens for a reason"?
    • This saying drives me crazy. I read that is, everything that happens was supposed to happen. That doesn't make any sense. You're telling me that all this hurt is supposed to happen? That when someone is raped, that was supposed to happen? That when people don't care, that's supposed to happen? I disagree. Yes, people can learn from things. Yes, God can do cool things through crummy situations. But I don't think that means that the crummy things were actually supposed to happen. What I got to do because I didn't go to India was neat and really good and actually, quite necessary. But I think that if I went to India, that would have also been neat and really good and actually, quite necessary. 
  3. Maybe I'm not good enough. 
    • Lie. I am good enough. I am strong enough. I do love Jesus. I do love people. I do care about the sex industry. This one was the hardest to handle. 
  4. I wanted to stop trusting the Church.
    • With a mission trip like this, one person isn't going. Rather, each person is backed by the Church. I needed people to pray for me. I needed people to support me. I needed people to help fund the trip. I didn't have $4,200. But I could do quick math to realize that only a small number of people needed to be sacrificial with their giving for me to go. I raised about half of what I needed. I needed help from the Church, and I didn't get it. I didn't want to ask the Church for help ever again. I didn't want to share my life or be vulnerable with any part of me with the Church, because the Church wasn't there for me when I most needed it. 
  5. I wanted to stop moving.
    • I felt like I failed. I tried to move, and it didn't work. The easiest response is to just stop.  
  6. I had to deal with my pride...again. 
    • I had to deal with my pride when I had to ask for help to go to India. When that didn't happen, I had to deal with my pride and tell people that I essentially failed. Because when you tell people that you're no longer going on a mission trip, they look at you differently. You no longer seem like a worthy person or Christian to them. Dealing with that and fighting that off is the pits. 
  7. I was mad at the Church. 
    • For not helping fund me, but most especially because I was told, "I don't support you, because India isn't safe". I know it's not safe. That's WHY I am going there. It's not safe, but I trust Jesus. It's not safe, but I love the people there. It's not safe, but I don't care because my life isn't mine. If I say I live to serve, I mean it. If the Church says she lives to serve, I sure as heck don't see it. The Church had the opportunity to do something and she didn't. I was mad. 
Those are the main things I have had to really try to understand and battle throughout these last couple of months. I think there are more, but it's past 4:00 in the morning...

I do want to say that I am doing better with these things. I had to work with God on my frustrations with Him and the Church. I was most frustrated with the Church, and that's something I'm still not "over" yet. Trusting, and in a sense, forgiving, the Church has been a hard process, especially because this wasn't the only time I felt like I had been let down by the Church. Even though I didn't go to India, I was still affected by it. 


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why You Cry?

Warning: Another "real" post


My eyes burn right now. I'm not even sure I can for real complete this post because they hurt so badly. Why do they hurt? Because I cried for like an hour today. I know, right? Gee whiz.

I have been ridiculously sick these past five days or so and finally went to the doctor to get it checked out. I hate going to the doctor because you have to pay money for someone to label your issue and...that's about it. That's basically what happened today...They told me that what I have doesn't normally last as long as it has and are slightly concerned that it's going on so long and not getting better. And my oxygen levels were abnormally low and that I was "definitely sick". Joy. Anyways, I've been prescribed antibiotics and I need to get those filled and cough medicine and lots and lots of sleep and relaxation. I was even given a doctor's note to not work for the next four days. While this isn't the official for real cause, it was hinted that the cause for all of this nonsense is stress. What the what. It's barely week two of school. I'm already so stressed that I'm sick for a week and have two days of basically bed rest? Crap.

That little anecdote was my Thursday morning. To go on with the rest of my day, I had to miss all of my classes because my head throbbed. Awesome. I don't miss class. (I mean, I did last semester, but that was just..a rough semester..) Not only did I have to miss class, I had to miss my desk shift and meetings and IV. I had things scheduled literally back to back from 9:30am-2:00am. And I had to miss every single thing. The first few hours, I fought it. I got upset with my supervisors for making me go to the doctor. I was mad at myself for missing class and everything else. Literally, somebody had to take my hand and bring me to bed before I stopped fighting. To top all of this off, it thundered a lot today and I apparently have a huge fear of thunder.

After my friend left my room, I didn't sleep like I was supposed to. I couldn't. After a few minutes, I started to cry. And then the flood came. Pillow, blankets, sheets, you name it. They were all drenched. Full body shaking. At first, I had no idea why I was crying. Absolutely none, which ticked me off even more (I wasn't in the best of moods today).

Why the heck was I crying?! And then I realized why. I was ridiculously stressed. (Side note: I'm using past tense, even though it's probably present tense as well...)

  • I was stressing about work.
  • I was stressing about school.
  • I was stressing about money.
  • I was stressing about the future.
  • I was stressing about tests and papers.
  • I was stressing about the front desk.
  • I was stressing about my hall. 
  • I was stressing about my wing.
  • I was stressing about my staff.
  • I was stressing about my family.
  • I was stressing about my friends.
  • I was stressing about my car.
  • I was stressing about people. 
  • I was stressing about messes.
  • I was stressing about programs.
  • I was stressing about small things.
  • I was stressing about big things.
  • I was stressing about Items Tracking.
  • I was stressing about Payroll.
  • I was stressing about Packages.
  • I was stressing about food.
  • I was stressing about even more things that I don't want to write. 
  • I was stressing about missing class.
  • I was stressing about getting things done.
  • I was stressing about other things I'm not willing to share.
  • I was stressing about my calendar.
  • I was stressing about my memory.
  • I was stressing about seeking perfection.
  • I was stressing about already missing a paper.
  • I was stressing about missing a quiz (it was in class today). 
  • I was stressing about my grades (yeah, already). 
  • I was stressing about missing so many things this week.
  • I was stressing about friendships.
  • I was stressing about relationships. 
  • I was stressing about driving.
The list goes on and on and on. All of those things, I didn't have to think about--because those are for real. Legitimately, I have been anxious about every single thing on that list. Trying to deal with those stressors, plus actually doing my job right, plus trying to do school, was just too much. After I cried and realized why I was crying, I felt slightly better. It relieved some of the tension in my head (unfortunately, it has all come back and I have a massive headache now). 

Usually, when I get sick it's because I go so hard and just kind run out of steam and crash. I'm sick for a few days, and then the cycle continues. Here lately, it's as if I hit that wall a lot sooner and a lot harder. 
I mean, the second week of school? Gosh. 


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Things I've Learned Since Being an SRA

Before I started this new role, I was a bit nervous--you can read about it here.
I'm the Senior Resident Assistant (SRA) for McConnell Hall and this is a quick list of things I've learned already:
  1. Respect those whom you supervise and they will respect you.
  2. The McConnell staff is incredible. 
  3. For real knowing that people are watching your every move, is freaking scary. 
  4. People tell me it's okay to mess up, but I'm pretty sure it's not allowed. 
  5. Confronting people is much easier in training than in a real situation. 
  6. Not having all the answers sucks. 
  7. Having a messy front desk is one of the worst things ever. 
    • Having too many people behind the desk makes it look messy. 
  8. Just because something is easier doesn't mean it's better. 
  9. Just because something is hard doesn't mean that's an excuse to not do it. 
  10. It's easy to make excuses for people--don't do it. 
  11. Don't let people fall through the cracks.
    • Every single resident and staff member is important and matters. 
  12. When people walk by, acknowledge their existence. 
    • Refer to number 11. 
  13. Set high expectations and hold people accountable. 
    That's just a quick list for now. 

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    You're Worth Dying For


    I was on my way to church this morning and this song came on. I had never heard it before and it floored me. I picked the video that had the lyrics, so check it out. 

    Someone Worth Dying For--MikesChair

    You are worth dying for. 

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    Best Friends

    I have a lot of awesome people in my life. I have lots of people who are fantastic examples and great role models, people who virtually any parent would approve of. I have grown up with some of them, met some of them throughout the years, and some are a little newer to my life. Relationships are difficult, but they are easier when both people are just...awesome. Well, I'm working on my awesomeness, but the other people are awesome, so the relationships are still a little easier. While I've been able to be part of some really cool relationships, and could write something about all of them, there is one relationship in particular that I want to focus on right now. This person is super duper awesome, and I'm not quite at that level of awesomeness...hoping that by keeping her around, I'll be able to almost as awesome as she is.

    When I was in tenth grade, I met one of my soon to be best friends. We didn't start to really develop a friendship until the summer after, if I'm remembering correctly. She was getting ready to start her freshman year of high school, as I was preparing for life as an upperclassman. We've never attended the same school and have few things in common.

    She played goalie in soccer, I played forward.
    She drinks water, I don't.
    She's tall, I'm not.
    She likes to "ditch the logical", I like to cling the logical.
    She loves the Sundevils, I love the Wildcats.
    She likes fruits and vegetables, I don't.
    She likes bigger schools, I like smaller schools.
    She likes to run, I don't.
    She was born (almost) in the winter, I was born in the summer.
    She likes the rain, I hate the rain.
    She goes to gas stations in the same city she lives in, I think that's weird.
    She can talk in funky accents (sort of), I can't.
    She eats at a normal pace, I eat at an incredibly slow pace.
    She doesn't like to read, I love to read.
    She enjoys roller coasters, I'm not a huge fan.
    She wants to be a teacher, I have no desire to work in a school.
    She has a good memory, I have a horrible memory.
    She doesn't like to write, I do.

    The list goes on and on and on. Despite all the differences, there are also a few similarities.

    She loves Jesus, so do I.
    She loves people, so do I.
    She loves road trips, so do I.
    She's blonde, so am I.
    She's loves jokes, so do I.
    She has high standards for others and herself, so do I.

    Clearly, there are more differences than similarities. We live in different cities, we go to different schools, we have a different circle of friends...

    Yet, our similarities outweigh those differences by a long shot. Sometimes the differences cause issues, particularly when I try to "ditch the logical" on a road trip and end up in an abandoned parking lot at night and when she does, we end up at a really cool place=P But for real, on the surface we really aren't all that alike. But those similarities, those things that are found when you dig a little deeper, our values, those are in line. Those are so in sync.

    Our shared passion, our shared goal, our shared vision is to live for Jesus. Our friendship is completely on solid ground, fueled by unrelenting love and boundless grace. We challenge one another, we push one another, we keep each other accountable, we hold each other to high standards, we can each count on the another to bail us out of miserable situations or call pretending to be sick. If we're down in the dumps, we can trust each other to uplift our spirits. If we're excited about something, we can trust each other to match that excitement. If either of us is in a pickle, we know the other will be right there. And no matter what, I can trust her to make sure I'm good with Jesus and she can trust me to do the same thing. Because that's the most important thing, and whenever one of us forgets that, we know we have a solid friend to gently remind us of that.

    There's a saying that floats amongst Christians: "Love God, love people. Serve God, serve people." We both strive to do that in all we do and I think that's why our friendship rarely suffers things many friendships often do. We still struggle, we still get frustrated, it still sucks that we live 200 miles apart, it's not a great thing that our schedules are ALWAYS the exact opposite and the only time we can talk is for 5 minutes at like midnight or not at all for months at a time. It sucks. But we know that even when we tick each other off, in comes that unrelenting love. Even when we do something dumb, in comes that boundless grace. Even when we lose focus, in comes a friend with the vision. Even when (name something bad here), in comes a best friend who desperately loves you and adores you and cherishes the friendship she has with you. Whether I screw up or she screws up, in whatever capacity, we can trust that we have a solid friendship based on the firmest foundation and that our best friend won't stop believing in the friendship or lead us astray from our vision. We know that our individual relationships with Christ influence our friendship, especially for that reason.

    All of that is good and dandy and super awesome and I love that I have someone in my life like that, but I have to say...it's still kind of hard to be a best friend. Sometimes, I feel like I fail at it. I feel like I let her down. I so often feel like I'm not spending enough time with her (difficult to do when you live in different cities) or like I'm not calling enough or communicating enough or sharing enough or being supportive enough or funny enough or wise enough or whatever enough. And while that's probably all true, I probably do fail at being her best friend sometimes, I hope she knows that I still try. And even though she probably fails at being my best friend sometimes, I know she still tries. We both fail, yet we try. We try because we care and because we both value our friendship. That's something that I sometimes forget, but at the same time I always know it to be true.

    I am so incredibly thankful for her. For her support and encouragement, for her fears and failures, for her imperfections, for her nonsense, for her being illogical (sometimes), for her laughter, for her love, for her compassion, for her grace, for her forgiveness, for her being a never giver upper, for her pushing me, for her being a positive role model, for her being my best friend and my sister through the blood of Christ.

    I love her a lot and admire her to no end, if you couldn't tell=)

    "Find people who share your values, and you'll conquer the world together."

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Broken Stupidity

    My uncle has a saying that has become a staple within all of our family: "You can't fix stupid." If someone in the family does something dumb, it's asked, "What are you, stupid?" My dad often tells me that I can't work with stupid people, because I get too frustrated when people are just being stupid. Just like I get fed up with lazy Christians, I am set off my rocker by stupid people.

    Now, I know everyone has their moments of stupidity, but I'm not talking about moments. I'm talking about living life in a stupid way. Constantly making stupid decisions. Constantly getting stuck not due so much to bummer situations, but due to being stupid.

    I was indirectly challenged to think about people not in terms of how driven they are or how bright they are, but based on how broken they are. Sometimes, people aren't stupid--they're broken.

    I'm pretty black and white and see little grey. There is right and there is wrong, there is yes and there is no, there is being accomplished not being accomplished. When I view marriage, I think the same way--you stay married or you don't.

    I was talking to someone the other day and they totally changed my view on divorce rates. I didn't know it was possible for anyone to affect my views on this as much in the way that this one conversation did. (I don't think that was proper grammar, but whatever, roll with it.)

    In the matter of marital counseling, so often people don't go to counseling because they foresee an issue, rather they go when they are at the breaking point. If there is a cliff, they wouldn't be just near the edge--they would be right on the edge. Almost to the point of no turning back.

    Here's essentially a list that this person gave me that I had already known about, but didn't truly think about--Things that make marriage easier:

    1. Couple has a family history lacking divorces
    2. God (religion)
    3. Not married young
    4. Support system
    5. (I think there was more, but I don't really remember...)

    When you take even one of those things out, that couple has it tough. And so often, a lot of couples don't have any of those things going for them. Out of those 4 things that I could remember, a lot of marriages have zero.

    It's no wonder that the divorce rate is the way it is. It's no wonder that people don't go to counseling until it's almost too late. I thought it was due to stupidity or lack of trying. After that conversation, I'm thinking it's maybe more due to brokenness. By the time a couple goes to counseling, there is usually much hurt and anger and frustration and fear and issues to unravel and dig through, that divorce often wins.

    I'm not saying I understand it or that I get it. Nor am I saying that divorce is okay. I don't totally understand why people wait to go to counseling, yet I do sort of understand. I don't totally understand how all of this hurt builds and builds and is never confronted, yet I sort of do. People are so, so broken.

    More and more I'm starting to see that now. That these people need to feel that overwhelming grace. Because the feeling of being confronted by your brokenness and then having an abundant amount of grace and love cover it, it truly overwhelming.

    If this were a paper that I turned in, it would receive a poor grade because there is little organization...and it doesn't really have a precise point...and the conclusion was virtually non-existent... Whoops. 


    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Celebration

    Someone told me a story today. They said the way they describe me to other people is with this story:
    If Ashley had $60 on Monday and it was supposed to last her all week, and someone said they needed $55, she would give them $55 and try to live off of $5 for the rest of the week. 


    Then, someone sitting with us said, Ashley would probably just say, "Well here, I have $60 you can have all of it" and she would give them everything and just go broke for the rest of the week. 


    I asked if they were serious, if they really tell people that and they said they do. I told them, "I think that's the kindest thing anyone could say about me". 


    Everything I have, I have to serve others. I long to give to others and support others any way that I can, even if it means that I have be "broke for the rest of the week".



    Right now, I "should" be getting ready to head out to begin celebrating my 21st birthday. Instead, I'm at home getting ready for bed, writing this, listening to Jesus music and spending time with Jesus. Tomorrow, I "should" sleep in and rest from the night and get ready for more celebrating. Instead, I will be getting up early to worship Jesus and then teach precious 2nd and 3rd graders.

    My birthday plans may sound lame to others, but I think they sound awesome. For the record though, I will be doing some celebrating and doing things I couldn't do under the age of 21. I am not totally against any of it, as some people assume. But the point is, is that I know that I want to do more than that. I want to spend my birthday (and all of my days) loving people. Serving people. Worshiping Jesus. If that means I have to go to bed early and skip out on the power hour, so be it.

    Last year, the song lyric that came to my mind was "This is the first day of the rest of your life"
    This year, the song is called "Rooftops". I just heard it a few hours ago on a CD my friend gave me.

    So I shout out Your name
    From the rooftops I proclaim
    That I am Yours
    I am Yours


    And all that I am
    I place into Your loving hands
    And I am Yours

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Be a Master!

    As I prepare for graduation from NAU, I have to think about, well, my life.
    The big question seems to be: What am I going to do next?
    I have been thinking a lot about this and have actually started to narrow things down. And this isn't necessarily about what I've decided but it is about one of the options and why it's so high in the running.

    Getting a Master's Degree. 
    Then I could say, "I am the Master"!


    There are several reasons why this isn't set in stone. By several, I mean I can list 8 off the top of my head and give me a little while and I'm sure I could come up with 16 more reasons why this isn't an automatic win. (One reason is that I don't know if if it's master's degree, Master's degree, MA, M.A, etc. I can't get a degree in something I can't write properly!)

    I was thinking about adults in my life who I really admire. Six of them have a master's degree (I think that's right for generic purposes...). Essentially by admire, the broadest sense of the word is that I want to be like them in some way and they have encouraged me or inspired me. I haven't told them and I'm not sure if I was supposed to get some kind of permission from them by talking about them here...so I may be breaking some rule, which is actually kind of exciting...but also, I apologize for that. And I also just realized that I'm not 100% sure that they all have their Master's...but I still admire them nonetheless..but I'm pretty sure they do.

    Meghan James 
    If you don't know Meghan, you're missing out. She is the kind of person who is not only interested in almost everything, she knows almost anything about almost everything. It's really impressive, quite actually. Beyond that, she is potentially one of the most humble of persons you will ever meet. I want to "get my feet dirty" as the saying goes (or am I making that saying up?), because of her. She has shown me the value in learning things. Learn what I need to learn and learn what I want learn. The more you learn, the better you can connect to people.

    Melinda Jensen 
    Mrs. Jensen was my math teacher in high school and my homeroom teacher. I've had a lot of great teachers throughout my school years, so the fact that she's one that stands out is impressive. Now, I can't say she influenced me to go into math...in fact I kind of hate math=)...but, I wanted to be a better student because of her. She was one of the teachers that genuinely cares about her students and it was obvious. The kind of teacher that makes her students want to strive for more. She was the teacher that even on the crappiest of days, she had a smile on her face and tried to make other people smile. It was her charisma and genuineness that would always radiate around her. And, even though math isn't my favorite subject anymore, I actually really liked it when I was in her class and she was also ridiculously good at teaching math.


    Jill Langan 
    Jill was my direct supervisor for my first two years as an RA. I (sort of) lived with her and worked with her. I saw her almost every single day and we got to know each other fairly well. I encountered a lot of situations where I had zero idea about what to do and Jill always knew how to guide me. Whether it was to direct me in the proper protocol or simply calm me down, I knew I could count on her. She wasn't afraid to say "I don't know", but she didn't stop there. She would say "I don't know, but let me find out". She is so compassionate and encourages people to go do what they want. I was so spoiled by having her as my boss, because she was probably one of the best ones anyone could ask for. I don't think I would have made it through even my first semester as an RA if it weren't for her support. She showed me that it was totally possible to be a student and a fantastic hall staff member at the same time. I learned how to handle various situations and different types of people by watching her.


    Drew Satter
    Drew was one of my supervisors for my first two years as an RA at NAU. He is one of those leaders that people just flock to. I don't know if I can think of any other male in my life who I was so impressed by and had the most respect for. I remember my second year as an RA, we had three new guys on our staff and I told them to watch Drew, because he was an exemplary role model and that they would learn so much by working under him. I admire Drew, plain and simple. He has a fantastic wife and it's so evident that he cherishes her. He works so dang hard at his job, which is why I think I had such a high respect for him almost immediately. He worked hard and expected us to work hard. He wouldn't just tell us to do something, he would show us and would lead by example. I actually didn't really start looking at grad programs until I was encouraged by Drew.


    Stephanie Sheaffer 
    Mrs. Sheaffer was my counselor in high school. She loves people. Encouraging them, loving on them, supporting them, advising them... My admiration for her is exponentially high. I felt so supported by her and truly felt like I could do almost anything with my life because of her confidence in me. I learned the importance of having confidence in people and being an encourager to others from her. She would go out of her way to find something for me or to help me. I try to go above and beyond people's expectations to help them, because that's what Mrs. Sheaffer did for me. Also, her writing skills are impeccable and I sincerely hope I can continue to strive to be at her writing level, because I've learned that the ability to write is necessary for life.


    Julie Spier
    Julie has become one of my best friends, whether she knows that or not=P The older I get, the more like her I get. Throughout our many conversations, we discover how similar we really are...it's almost odd how alike we are. More than once, I've been called "Julie's mini me". Her passion for students is truly remarkable, as she yearns to share with them this wholly, remarkable, tender love that is found through Jesus. She's the one who encouraged me to figure out what I'm holy discontent about and do something about it. I never wanted to disappoint her, but more than that I wanted her to be proud of me. I trust, respect, and admire Julie. She guides me and pushes me. She wouldn't let me just sit on my butt and do nothing, and while I probably wouldn't let myself do that, I am grateful to know that I have someone who will make sure I am always moving and doing something to further the Kingdom.



    I have the utmost respect and admiration for all six of these people. I have learned from them and strive to do more because of them. They are all brilliant, captivating, and astonishing individuals who genuinely love and care about others. I just want to be cool like them!

    For the record, I'm not trying to say that I respect them because of the degrees that they have. 

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Rantin' and Ravin'

    I'm about to start my last year of college and I'm already having flashbacks to my senior year of high school. When I was getting ready to graduate high school, I was asked about my future plans ALL THE TIME. And I was a horrible person if I didn't have it figured out. Luckily, I had some of it set. I knew I was going to a university. It was just the specifics that I didn't have down throughout that year, which was what people wanted to know. Why don't you know? You need to get it figured out. There are a lot of options. Which ones are you considering? What are you going to major in? The questions went on and on and on. I remember calling my friend and we considered tallying the number of times people asked questions about my future...it would have been in the hundreds. As I get ready to graduate college, the exact same questions are being asked. Only this time, it's worse.

    1. I don't have something set. Then, I at least was set in the idea of going to a university. Now, there are just 7 different options and then each of those options include 4239 more options. 
    2. This is apparently more "real" than graduating high school. I won't be 18, I'll be 21. I won't just have a high school diploma, I'll have a Bachelor of Science degree. I'll be less and less dependent. I'm not supposed to settle for a job, but start searching for a career. 
    Back to my ranting before I say something of use.
    It's not like those aren't important questions. They're just annoying. Now, with that being said I don't necessarily mean to deter people from asking or caring about my future. (Though I do question how many people are asking just to make small talk or just to compare me to someone else they know and see how I measure up.) It's just that I'd be more okay with the questions if I actually had a solidified answer. I hate answering "I don't know" or with different possibilities. But I also hate that people just assume I haven't even thought about it if I don't have a for sure plan. A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me what I was doing after I graduate and I was taken off guard because, well, it's summer and the school year wouldn't have even started for another 10 weeks. And then I would have like 9 months in school before graduation. I had almost an entire year and when I said I wasn't sure, their response was more of a freak out and I was kind of told that I needed to get my butt in gear.

    I then tried to explain some of the different options that I was really looking into, but they weren't having it. They told me I better figure it out really soon...like before November soon (I mentioned November for whatever reason, I don't remember why, and that apparently wasn't soon enough).

    This is to adults everywhere: True/False
    There are people who are gearing up graduation and haven't thought about their next steps. True
    Most soon to be graduates think you have ulterior motives when asking questions about the future. True
    Okay, I had more but I forgot them. I would suck at making true/false tests...Anyways!

    I had a purpose to this entire post, but I forgot it due to all of my ranting. So I'll make up new points. These are they:


    1. The thing I hate most about graduating are all of the annoying questions about what's next. 
    2. If I think somebody is asking about my plans for the future just so they can see how I measure up to other people in my place, I usually tell them a really impressive future plan. And it's fun to watch their face and response. I didn't do that too much in high school, only a few times. But I've gotten braver, so I've done it much more often in these last few weeks...and will continue to do so, I'm sure. (I've also gotten better at reading people, so that plays into my bravery.) Sometimes, I do the opposite and say, "Oh, I'm not really sure..I haven't really thought about it." Because that's also a lie. 
    3. I don't mind the questions if someone genuinely cares. 
    4. I don't mind engaging in conversation about various ideas, so long as it's not solely small talk or it turns into an interview, where I'm being asked several questions and feel the need to have a perfect response. 
    5. College isn't over. I still have a year left, life is still happening right now. I have to plan for my future, yes, but I also have to live right now. If I'm going to be asked questions about the future, I want to be asked about something current too. 
      1. Which reminds me of another thing. Throughout college, every single time I came home there were two questions I was always asked: How's college? Do you have a boyfriend? Also annoying questions. 

    Alright, this post had absolutely no point. Now I'm upset. 

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    Religion vs. Christianity

    I feel like I may make some people angry with this post, so we'll see how it goes..

    I often tell people that I hate religion and almost every time, people retort "Ha, yeah right Ashley. You're probably the most religious person I know". I try not to let that get to me, because I know they see religion differently than I do. But really, I hate that response.

    To be part of a religion means that you believe or follow a particular system of faith. A system is "a set of procedures according to which something is done". It's more about the procedures. Sort of like a check list of sorts.

    • Am I going to church?
    • Am I involved in the church?
    • Am I a "good person"?
    • Do I help people?
    • Do I know church songs?
    • Do I dress appropriately?
    • Do I believe in a god?
    It's like if we answer "yes" to all of those things, then we're good to go. I think that this is the start to lazy Christianity. I'm not saying that none of those things are good. In fact, they are all good and I would hope that Christ followers can answer "yes" to most, if not all, of those. But we don't end there. There is more. 

    The God that I believe in isn't a god made from humans, dependent on us, needing anything from us. In every other religion, it seems to be about humans trying to connect with God. Humans making sacrifices, humans being "good", humans trying to make a god love them. In Christianity, it's the other way around. It's about God trying to connect with humans. It's about God making the ultimate sacrifice. It's about God sending His son to die for them so that they may be saved. It's about a God who loves people and trying to bring them back. 

    To go beyond that, many people get caught into a trap. Here are some common mistakes about religion, specifically Christianity:
    1. It's inherited
      1. John 3:3-6
      2. Just because you grew up in the church or your parents are Christians doesn't mean you are
      3. It's not about who you are or where you're from.
    2. It's just a belief
      1. Easy to say you believe in something because that doesn't require much change or action
      2. Actions need to match words, or words don't mean much. 
      3. James 2:14-16
      4. 2 Corinthians 5:17
    3. It's just an action
      1. You're not a Christian just because you don't drink, smoke, swear, etc. 
      2. It's not just about doing
        1. It's about believing and doing
      3. John 3:16--belief of Jesus must be there
    4. It's about perfection
      1. There seems to be a myth that once you're a Christian, you have to be perfect. 
      2. If we could be perfect, there would be not reason for Jesus. 
      3. Romans 5:8
    In essence, Christianity isn't about us. It's not about what we can do or what we have done or where we came from or anything like that. It's all about Jesus. It's about Him dying for us and loving us. 

    "We are not religious people who have it all together, rather we are people who are desperately loved by Jesus and were radically transformed by Him."

    You see the greatest lie every told is that the Christian life is boring. It’s meant only for old people who want to try to get into Heaven or for the whack job who doesn’t have the mental fortitude to muddle through their difficulties. If that’s what Christianity is I wonder what Bible I’ve been reading…I must have some how got the unrated version where men and women live passionately, fight zealously, and die without regrets (recognizing they will never die). Or maybe we’ve just been blinded for so long we’d rather settle for lies than grasp the Truth. (Found on: http://dawordsmith.wordpress.com/tag/the-bible/)

    Being Holy Discontent

    When I was in high school, I was challenged to think of something that makes me "holy discontent" and that has remained a challenge that I try to answer and do something about it.

    To be holy discontent is essentially looking at the question of what wrecks you? What makes you angry? See, it's okay to be angry. It's okay to be wrecked, to see something and say, that's not okay. What isn't okay, is to not doing anything about it.

    Things that may make you angry:

    • AIDS
    • Immoral business practices
    • Dysfunctional churches
    • Disease
    • Sex trafficking
    • Purity
    • Poverty
    • Swearing
    • Divorce rates
    • Drug trafficking
    • Racial oppression 
    • Child abuse
    • The list goes on and on and on. 
    There are so many things that make us angry. From that list above, all of those things make me angry. And hopefully they all make you angry. But which one is your real holy discontent? That one thing that you know you have to act on. 

    For me, my holy discontent are:

    Lazy Christians. Lazy Christians make me crazy. Lazy Christians is what I am so discontent with. I get so unbelievably angry when I see Christians turning the other cheek. I can't stand it. People who say "I am a Christian" and their actions don't line up with that, drives me absolutely insane. If you ever want to see me over the top angry, over the top upset, over the top hurt, just ready to blow...tell me about inconsistent people. Tell me about people who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and dishonor Him with their lifestyle. 


    That's my holy discontent. It sends me over the edge and I'm through with it.

    The label "Christian" appears to have become so obsolete. You may argue and say that the opposite is true, that more and more people are using it. I agree with you which is why I think it's become obsolete. I say, let people have that term. You want to call yourself a Christian, fine. I'll take on and use the term Christ follower. The label Christian is becoming obsolete to people who genuinely love Christ. And besides, Christ follower better explains Christianity anyway.

    We aren't people who blindly follow Jesus or who just go to church because we're supposed to. Rather, we are people who genuinely are head over heels in love with Christ and when we accepted His gift of grace, love, and mercy, we became His followers.

    So if you're a Christ Follower, don't be lazy. Be consistent. If you don't think it's okay to swear at church, it's probably not okay to swear anywhere. Whether you're at a family dinner, hanging out with your friends, or at church camp you should be consistent. If you don't think it's okay to dress in a certain way at church, it's probably not okay to dress like that anywhere (I'm thinking more of the "4 b's"--no boobs, butts, bras, or bellies for the girls).

    Lazy, inconsistent Christ Followers pushes me over the edge.
    What puts you over the edge?

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Picture Challenge

    I keep seeing this picture challenge. I am just going to do it here. And cheat and do it within a day or so. (Also, this post apparently started in March, hence the "March")
    Day 1.









    Fact 1. I love lists.
    Fact 2. I'm not good at thinking on the spot.
    Fact 3. I like rhymes and cliches.
    Fact 4. When I'm at school, I get excited when I am in bed by 2am.
    Fact 5. I am not a morning person.
    Fact 6. I played soccer for twelve years.
    Fact 7. I like driving with my music playing loudly.
    Fact 8. I love Mountain Dew.
    Fact 9. I have blonde hair.
    Fact 10. I'm not a fan of change...in both regards.
    Fact 11. If I'm asked a question I don't want to answer, I won't.
    Fact 12. I'm not very clever, so thinking of 15 facts is rather difficult.
    Fact 13. I love Apple products.
    Fact 14. I rarely drink water.
    Fact 15. I love puns.

    Day 2. 
    Me and Veronica. 
    We've been pals since I was in fourth grade and she was in third. I had zero digital pictures of us until last week. I don't really know how to edit, and besides, cutting Austin out would just be mean! (Although he can count for something too, he's been in my life for eight years.)
    Veronica though. I've been closest to her the longest. I love her a looooot and have close to 493902 memories with her.




    Day 3. 
    Cast of favorite show: Gilmore Girls. 
    I have all 7 seasons on DVD. I'm watching them once again this summer. Good stuff.










    Day 4.
    Favorite night: Uhhh
    There isn't one specific night that just stands out to me that was ultra spectacular. I tried to think of something creative or mildly clever to put instead, but nothing came to mind. I've been searching for pictures that at least resembled night but that didn't do much good either. So I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave this blank.

    Day 5. 
    Favorite memory: Colorado
    If I remember correctly, this was our second year with Vail in CO for CIY. I think....my memory sucks. Which brings to my next point. I don't really have a favorite memory because I can't hardly remember anything. I don't really know why I chose this picture either, but I figured I already skipped Day 4, I can't skip another day. I suppose I can explain the picture. Essentially, we ate all of that pizza and drank all that soda..and then rolled down a grassy hill...and then went river rafting in the CO river. I don't remember much from this whole thing, which defeats the purpose of the whole favorite memory thing, but oh well...
    Day 6. 
    Trade places with: Cindy
    I met Cindy when I was in South Africa. She's 13 and in 4th grade. She lives in a house that is less than the size of my room and my brother's room combined with 4 other people. She loves. She gives. She's compassionate. She longs to see more, do more. I want to trade places with her so she could do that. And then I could play more red light/green light and Simon says with her family and neighbors=)

    Day 7.
    Most treasured item: Mac
    I love my Mac. It holds just about everything. I have bookmarks on it with my websites. I have journals. I have pictures. I have papers. I have my school. I have my passwords. You can find just about everything about me if you spent time with my Mac and browsed around on it. Plus, it's a Mac.



    Day 8.
    Picture that makes me laugh: Tell me about your experiences 
    Hahahahahah. Oh my geeze. I don't remember much from this night, except that a few of us were up reallyyyy late. I found a marker (always dangerous) and wrote bits and pieces of our conversations on the whiteboard available. This was one of the results.

    Day 9.
    Gotten me through the most: Ah.
    This was a really tough one. Aside from the fact that I love this picture, I want to use it as symbolism. (And also the person who took it has probably gotten me through the most, so it works.) I am the strongest when I have friends on either side of me (in this case in front and behind me) and I can follow, yet also lead. When a friend gives me the space to "lead the way" and "do what I need to do" and is willing to follow me and guide me, that's when I feel like I can really get through the rough things.

    Day 10. 
    Messed up things with: Sam and Kahle
    I took that to mean who I had fun with and got in trouble with. Not like super ridiculous things. Just stupid, fun things. I got in trouble during class in high school with both of these fools in EVERY SINGLE CLASS I HAD WITH THEM. Holy moly. Kahle and I got multiple glaring looks. Sam and I had to stay after class and were "talked to".  In tenth grade, Kahle tried to teach me how to say "no" to a boy because I didn't want to go on a date with him. Senior year, Sam and I started laughing and the teacher came up to us and told us our assignment wasn't that interesting so there was no way we could be laughing if we were doing our work.

    Day 11. 
    Something I hate: Sex trafficking industry. 
    I hate it. I hate that those who join in voluntarily believe that it's "the only option" or that that is "all they're worth". I hate that many are forced to join. I hate that people are lied to and manipulated. I hate that people are abused and abusive. I hate that people don't care about it. I hate that people make jokes about it. I hate that people throw around the words "pimp" and "slut" and "whore". I hate that it thrives. I hate that people are enslaved and people are enslaving.



    Day 12. 
    Something I love: My God
    If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be this. Hebrew for Yahweh (YHWH), Greek for Alpha and Omega, P and X are the first two letters of Christ in the Greek language, and the infinite symbol. Succinctly describes God.



    Day 13.
    Favorite Music: Hip hop
    Okay, I know it asked for band/artist, but if I like it, it's my favorite. I opened my iTunes to see if I could answer this question...I couldn't. So I tailored it to something I can answer--my favorite type of music.


    Day 14. 
    Don't want out of my life: You?
    Okay, I suck at this picture thing. I should have just picked a few days and done those. Like Kelly Clarkson sings, my life probably would suck without you (though I haven't any idea who "you" are). I don't really want people out of my life. Once I have them, I'm good with having them in my life for-ev-er (Sandlot style). But I'll figure it out if I don't have someone in my life anymore. For instance, I didn't want Jenny out of my life. She was my best pal (she competed with Veronica) since fourth grade and passed away when I was a sophomore in college. I miss her, but I deal. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, people are different than dogs. But I can't pick one person and I need a picture!)



    Day 15. 
    Before I die: Make a difference
    I want to impact individuals and the world. I want to make a difference and change the world.


    Day 16. 
    Inspires me: Jilly
    I'm trying to cover all my bases here throughout this picture challenge thing. Jill was my supervisor for two years. I got to see her graduate with her Master's degree just a few weeks ago. Jill pushed me and allowed me to grow. She called me out on things and she always stood by my side. She knew when I was beaten down and needed her to step in and she knew when I thought I was beaten down, but really I was strong enough to carry on and just didn't know it.


    Day 17.
    Recent impact: Thoughts
    No explanation.




    Day 18.
    Biggest Insecurity: No. 


    Day 19.
    Little Ashley: 9 years old?


    Day 20.
    Travel: NYC
    This seems like a place I'd love. Lights, sounds, city.

    Day 21. 
    Forget: How much I hate black and brown together when I see people I love wearing them together. 
    I fear putting up a picture because black and brown together seriously irks me.
    Day 22.
    Better at: Talking
    I thought about being "funny" and say something like "frowning" or "jumping on a pogo stick" or "drinking water". Read into this what you want.


    Day 23.
    Favorite book: Nicholas Sparks
    Anything and everything by him. I have all of these books in the picture (actually my good, trickster of a friend does at the moment...) and then some.

    Day 24.
    Want to change: Marriage statistics
    I want to change the world, yes. But I already kind of did that for a previous day (for the sake of this blog, not like in real life...I'm willing to work on changing the world on multiple days..not just one day..) In one way that can happen though is through marital stats. I wrote a whole paper about this and what i think we can do to start to change this. If you want to know more, just ask!



    Day 25.
    My day: Throwing paper clips
    I got bored at work so I started throwing paper clips at the person who sits in the next cubicle. Yes, I'm very professional. And then when she left, I put a huge pile of paper clips on her desk. I'm excited for her to see it Monday!



    Day 26.
    Means a lot to me: Letters
    I love notes and letters. I love mail. I love finding something under my door. I love words and written things.



    Day 27.
    Me and a family member: My broha




    Day 28.
    Something I'm afraid of: Eetf
    Unscramble that. I don't want to write it. Hint: they go in shoes.



    Day 29.
    Makes me smile: Hugs
    Okay, sometimes they make me cry, but they almost always make me feel better.



    Day 30.
    Someone I miss: Lisa!
    Lisa, I miss Lisa! I met her Spring Break of 2010 and she went back to Germany in May. But for those 9 weeks or so, we got to know each other and over a year later, we still talk. I miss Lisa lots and lots.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    21

    July 17, 2011 will be my twenty-first birthday. I got to spend my 20th birthday in South Africa and had originally planned to spend m 21st in India. Since that's not happening (check out "India", posted on May 20, 2011), I need to figure something else out.

    There have been two ideas thrown around:

    • Vegas 
      • Cliche? Maybe. But I do love Vegas. And I love cliches just as much.
    • Disneyland
      • It's like the opposite of a "grown up" place, so it's just as much of a cliche. Also, I love Disney a whole heck of a lot. 
    As I was brushing my teeth tonight (literally, like 7 minutes ago, hence the post at 2am on a work night), another idea came to me of what I want to do. 

    On my 20th birthday, I decided that I wanted this decade to be one that I spent loving people and loving Jesus. I wanted to be excited and be surrounded with people that love and support me and I want other people to know that I love and support them. 

    So, sticking with cliches. I want to do at least 21 things for other people on my birthday. What those things look like or would be, I have yet to come up with (hey, you can help with that!), but that's what I want to do. Now, I can do that in California or Nevada (or elsewhere), sooo the "where" is still up in the air I suppose. 

    I fear being 21 for so many reasons. But this idea excites me. I hope you can be excited with me and perhaps even partake in helping me accomplish this. (Talk about a great birthday gift!)

    I realize this wasn't very explanatory, but give me a break--I have been up for almost 20 hours and just got this idea and haven't been able to think it through!