Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lies and Truths

Take me as you find me, all my fears and failures.

I am not perfect. I have fears and failures. I mess up, I listen to lies instead of truth sometimes.

Lie 1.
I am what I do, what I have, and what others say about me.

Lie 2.
My value is based on my performance.

Lie 3.
I have to be perfect.

And then I remember. Jesus will meet me right where I am at. He will take me as I am. With ALL of my screw ups. With ALL of my sin. With ALL of YOUR sin.

Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

Truth 1.
My identity is completely found in Christ.

Truth 2. 
Performance  Value

Truth 3.
My God is perfect and Jesus paid it all when he died on the cross.

God's pursuit of me, of you, of us, is relentless, passionate, and purposeful.
He rejoices in our accomplishments, holds us in our brokenness, and empowers us in our inadequacies. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Come Here

Come here.
You. Stop. And come here. 

I serve a God who tells me that every single day. We are called and summoned to come to the King. Jesus wants us to know that he has got us. He says, "Come here".

How cool is that? It's pretty dang cool.

I serve a God who wants me to ask Him questions. Wants me to earnestly seek Him. Desires me to ask him real questions. Hard ones, intimidating ones, big ones, small ones, insignificant ones, real ones, crazy ones. He wants me to ask questions. And He calls me to hang out with Him. He just says, Stop and come here. Come here and rest in me. Come here and lay it on me. Come here and let me carry you.  

See, I still don't have this whole Christian thing completely figured out. There is a lot I don't know about God, about Jesus, about the Bible. I still screw up, I still mess up all the time. I still do/say the wrong things. I still let people down. I still have questions, I still have confusion. I don't understand it all. It's okay to ask questions.

But Christians aren't religious people who have it all together. Rather, we are people who are desperately loved by Jesus and were radically transformed by Him. 

We are His. And we can find rest in Him. We can ask Him questions. He's the King of the Universe and yet He still loves me. My God knows me. My God yearns for me to see how deep and wide His love is.

He tells me:
Be still and know that I am God. Enjoy my presence. Be content where you're at. Let me pour into you. Let me love you. Let me help you. You cannot do this on your own. I made you to be mine. Rest in me. Find your peace and hope and desire in me. I am right here. Hold on to me. I love you. You are my daughter. 

And I respond:
I am your daughter. A princess. I am whole. I am Yours. I am capable. I am forgiven. I am captivating. I am worthy. I am valued. I am rescued. I am pure. I am provided for. Jesus, you are enough. Give me a passion, an obsession, an ambition. I want to know and follow hard after you. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I originally had this as part of my letter to the world, but decided to give it its own post. So two posts in one night...boom. 

Right now, I'm in Las Vegas. Sin City.  I have been here a plethora of times. I love coming here. I love the crowds, the lights, the music, the noise, the shows, the hotels...I think I even love the atmosphere of Vegas. I would love to do some kind of study on Vegas...on the people. On the individuals, on the groups, on the friends. I want to understand Vegas. I want to know Vegas and who these people are. I want to know what it is about Vegas. Maybe that will be easier to do in a couple of months... But seriously, Vegas is a city that I love. I have like this overwhelming love for the people of Vegas. Specifically those who are like me, who come just for a few days and like to experience the strip in a variety of ways. Don't ask me why, because I don't know why I love the people of Vegas the way that I do. I just do. 

But Ash, you don't even do anything that Vegas is known for. Even once you're 21 I doubt drinking and gambling will ever be your style. Partying at night clubs, going to shows like Thunder Down Under? That's not you. You don't even hang out with those people all that often. I know. It's not me, you're right. And that's good. I'm glad I can make wise decisions. But I can, and do, still love the people and love that I am developing this kind of heart. 

  • Vegas fascinates me. We went to the Stratosphere, where they have some of the highest rides in the world. One of their attractions is called Sky Jump, where you jump off the Stratosphere from the 108th floor, 855 feet above the strip. Jump off. Not bungee jump. But free fall kind of jump. "Controlled free fall" is what they call it. People pay over $100 to jump off a building. I'm definitely NOT a thrill seeker, so this makes absolutely no sense to me. But people do it. Is it just the Vegas atmosphere? Does that impact the number of people who do it? Within an hour or so, I saw three people do it. Yeesh! What is it about Vegas?

  • We watched the "TI Siren's show" or whatever it's called now..basically that pirate type show out front of Treasure Island. But it's less pirate like and like. Not like adorable show. But Vegas type of show. You figure that one out. What is it about Vegas?

  • It is absolutely impossible to walk down the strip and not be offered one of those cards with a a naked girl on it and the number to get directly connected to "hot girls" (Hey, that's what their shirts say). The streets are covered with these cards. I saw countless vans and buses that was advertising the same thing. This is what Vegas is known for. I want to understand this. I think I get a little bit of it. But I want to understand the industry. I want to understand the jobs and lives of the people who are trying to hand every passerby these cards. I want to understand these girls whom are being advertised. It's not something I immediately write off as stupid. Not at all. My guess is that most people look at those cards and think one of two things. 

    1. Cool! [And maybe call the number?]
    2. Gross. [And don't give it a second thought and just get annoyed with every encounter.]
              My thoughts are almost always:
      • Why? Who? How old are they? What's their story? "Their" meaning those who trying to give me the cards, those who are on the cards, and those who are the masterminds behind them. How many people call this number? 
    • I definitely don't think it's cool. But I definitely do give it second, third, fourth, fifth thoughts. And I get more saddened than I do annoyed. And to be honest, more confused. I just want to know about these people. 
    • What is it about Vegas that so many of these cards are passed out?

  • People walk so much in Vegas. Today, we walked probably about 6ish miles (we accidently took the super duper long way...). If we were at home, there is no way we would be walking 6 miles. Usually when we're in Vegas, we just walk up/down the strip. The strip is about 4 miles long. How is it that we can walk 4 miles in Vegas, but not 4 miles anywhere else? What is it about Vegas that makes people walk so much?

Vegas fascinates me. I love Vegas. I want to know Vegas. What is it about you, Vegas?

Dear World

Dear World,

I really do love you. I really do care about you. I really do cry with you, laugh with you, rejoice with you, mourn with you. Dear world, I know you're hurting. World, I have been watching the news. I am seeing the destruction that is happening to you right now. Japan, you just had the 5th largest earthquake the world has ever seen since 1900, when earthquakes first began to be recorded, at a magnitude of 8.9. You are still feeling aftershocks, days later. Tsunamis have been widespread across the Pacific Ocean, along the ring of fire. Earlier today, CNN reported that 9,500 people were missing and 801 are confirmed dead in Japan alone. I just read that there are now concerns about nuclear meltdown. There have been many power outages, shortages of food, water, and gas. Your streets, Japan, are littered with debris and contaminated water from the tsunami.

World, some of us stayed up for hours (like 5am) watching this devastation. Reading immediate updates. Not because we didn't have anything else to do--we were tired, we had tests, we had papers, we had to get up early in the morning (like 8am). But simply because we care. We wanted to know what was going on with you, not just to be up to date with news, but because we want to know what we can do. We love you, world.


P.S. There was also a tour bus that was overturned in the Bronx, NY where 13 people died on the morning of Saturday, March 12. So many things are going on

P.P.S. All of my information was from CNN. I get breaking news updates texted to my phone--text Alerts to 26688 to receive them. [Standard text messaging rates apply.]

Thursday, March 10, 2011


"So much to do, so much to see, so much for taking the back street.....Hey now, you're an all star, get your game on, go play"

I was lying in bed, trying to go to sleep, and I started to think about my highs and lows of the week. At our staff meetings, we tell the rest of the staff about our week, the good and bad stuff. It brings us closer, helps us to learn about one another and what is really going on. I always have to prepare, so I try to think about them prior=)

Here's my list of what I have come up with thus far..but in probably much more detail than what you really want to know or what I would normally share. Unless I decide to withhold information, which may happen. Or I just get tired, which is also quite likely. Especially considering the fact that it is 3:30am and I have been getting approximately 5 hours of sleep these past few nights.


  1. Spring break! 
  2. Class got cancelled for Thursday morning
  3. Class got cancelled for Tuesday night
  4. Family time!
  5. I get to leave northern Arizona.
  6. I am going to be a Senior RA (SRA reminded me of Sarabi, hence the title).
  7. 100% of the people in Campbell who applied for a position in Residence Life at NAU were hired.
  8. I have been laughing a lot.
  9. The new girls for the hall are pretty fantastic.
  10. I got a new high score in Robot Unicorn Attack.
  11. Vegaaaaaaas!
  12. Road trip!
  13. It hasn't been as cold.
  14. I'm going to do March Madness for the first time.

  1. Things are back in full swing right after Spring starting that Sunday night. 
  2. Some of the responses from people about my new position and location for next year
  3. Preparations for summer
  4. I have been pretty overwhelmed lately. 
  5. I won't get to really know the new girls.
  6. My high score for Robot Unicorn Attack wasn't really all that high....
  7. Lots of assignments, papers, and tests.
  8. Allergies are kicking into full gear and it's been pretty miserable. 

I tried to make the list of my highs longer, so it seemed more positive, but some of the things on my "low" list carry more weight, particularly numbers 2 and 3. Those are exactly what I want to write about here, somewhat carefully, yet somewhat candidly. And if you want to know about any of the others, ask and I'll share. They just don't seem as pressing. 

2. Some of the responses from people about my new position and location for next year
First, let me explain what I do a little bit and what my new position kind of entails. I am a Resident Assistant (RA). NAU has a phenomenal residence life program, where almost half of its students live on campus. That is huuuuuge. Only a handful of universities of NAU's size have that big of a Residence Life Department. And I don't know about other other schools, but the training that NAU does for Residence Life staff members is just insanely good. I'm impressed every time and seem to always learn something new at RA training. Essentially, an RA is a resource for his/her residents, helps them get connected to the campus, to the hall, to people, etc. We put on programs, make door decs, make bulletin boards, enforce policies, build up trust, ensure safety, etc. We are told that we have many "hats" and while we definitely are not police or psychologists, we kind of play that informal role of being both of those, along with a role model, educator, encourager, etc. A Senior Resident Assistant (SRA) does all that and a little more. Basically, they also do desk operations, payroll for desk staff, and are the leader of the staff. In sorts, it's kind of like a promotion and actually a pretty big honor, in my humble opinion, to be a Senior Resident Assistant. 

Currently, I am the RA for a hall on campus that seems to be the more or less the exact opposite of the hall that I will be working in next year. One is just about as far north as you can get on campus, the other is just about as far south as you can get. One is upper division, one is freshmen. One is the smallest staff on campus with 1 RA, one is the largest staff on campus, with 22 RAs. One is a pretty simple building, one is dubbed as being the most confusing building on campus. One is this, one is that. But you know what? I am so dang excited. And I have come to see, that while the bigger things seem to be complete opposites, the more intimate details of each hall are incredibly similar. I have loved (and at times hated, but mainly loved) working in the hall that I am in for the past two years. I adore my residents, I love the staffs I have been able to work with, I have come to find the beauty in the part of campus I am in and in the building, I have learned so much from working here, and hopefully have been able to teach a lot as well. And I truly believe that I will be able to say the same thing this time next year. I believe that I will adore my new residents, that I will love the new staff I get to work with and shepherd, I will finally be able to understand all of the beauty in that area of campus and the building, I will learn so much from working in that hall and area, and hopefully will be able to teach (almost) as much as I learn. I do believe that and I am so excited to live that out. 

So here's my issue....

My assumption is that most people just look at the bigger things being opposites and don't really see the more intimate details (and you don't really either, since I didn't talk about them at all). I assume this because so often, when I tell people what hall I will be in next year these are often the responses:
  • Sarcastic "Good luck"
  • Laughter
  • Incredibly surprised question of, Really?! That hall?! Why?! That makes no sense.
  • Raised eyebrows
I am not even kidding you. But here are the responses that I want to get, that I want to hear:
  • You are going to learn so much there, that will be awesome for you!
  • You will be able to apply so much of what you have learned there.
  • I am so dang excited for you to be working in that hall!
  • Really?! That hall?! That's spectacular! You'll do great there!
Part of it is because I know some of the more intimate details, that I know how insanely similar these two halls actually are, despite their more obvious differences. If you know these two halls, I dare you to think about it and try to figure out how the seemingly most opposite of places are actually two of the most similar places. Luckily, those are only people's responses to the hall and not the actual position. As far as I can remember, most people are genuinely excited in my role as the SRA and believe I will do a superb job. Then again, almost no one really understands the SRA role or what it entails, except those in the Department of Residence Life, and even then, not everyone really knows what it is. 

Another part of it is that one of my love languages is words of affirmation. I need people to tell me those things. I need to hear from others that this hall is a good fit for me. I believe it, but I really want others to believe it too. I want people to be genuine, not sarcastic. I want people to be excited, not skeptical. It really does sadden me and kind of bother me that people are so weary, that they only focus on the main differences. Maybe, sometime, if you ask, just maybe I'll tell you the similarities. Unless you can discover them for yourself and then we can really discuss them.

Okay, this got long and I am getting tired...I shall discuss #3 later...

Monday, March 7, 2011

About Me?

1) It begins with a nameMy name is Ashley Lynn Coulter. I go by Ashley. Other fun nicknames I have acquired are Smash, Smashley, and, of course, Ash. Generally though, Ashley is the most commonly used. 

2) The Where.
  • I was born in Kansas City.
  • Most of my extended family lives in the Midwest. 
  • I have lived in Tucson, Arizona (southern Arizona, about 45 minutes from the Mexico border) since I was about four years old. 
  • Moved to Flagstaff, Arizona for school--about five hours north of Tucson.
3) Academia.
  • I graduated high school in May 2008. 
  • I went to a public high school, but we were the first school in the United States (maybe the world, I don't remember) to go completely wireless--we didn't have any textbooks, rather every student and teacher was given an iBook. 
  • I am in my third year (Junior year) at Northern Arizona University (NAU), located in Flagstaff, AZ.
  • I am double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. 
  • Both degrees are Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
  • Toying around with the idea of adding on two additional minors: Religious Studies and Political Science. 
4) Nine to Five.
  • I am a Resident Assistant (RA) at NAU (some universities call it a CA). 
  • I have been an RA for two years (currently in my second year).
  • It sometimes ends up being 30-40 hours a week of work.
  • I absolutely love being an RA, despite the workload.

5) Killing Time.
  • I played soccer for most of my life, but I haven't played in a few years. 
  • I've been getting into video games more and more. We just bought a Kinect and have an Xbox 360 in our residence hall and that's been oodles of fun. 
  • I love hanging out with my residents. They are pretty dang cool. I can brag about them all day, e'erday...though they do bring some frustrations sometimes!
  • I'm definitely a fan of reading. 
  • Watching movies is always enjoyable for me. Except scary movies or thrillers...or movies with unhappy endings. 500 Days of Summer is potentially my least favorite movie. 
  • This sounds totally cheesy, but I'm being for real when I say I love encouraging people. When I have some time, I write notes to all of my residents and staff members (about 50 people) telling them how awesome they are. 
  • I love jamming to music.

6) The Important Stuff.
  • As aforementioned, I dislike movies with unhappy endings. 
  • I love Google. I think it's the best search engine and no other search engine can even compare. 
  • I love Apple products. Ipods, Macs, etc. 
  • I can touch my tongue to my nose--I practiced this in front of the mirror. 
  • I hate feet. They really scare me and freak me out. Whether your foot is bare, has a sock, or even a shoe, it still scares me. 
  • Using the incorrect "you're/your" and"its/it's" bothers me immensely. 
  • I love Mountain Dew. 
  • I always wear a watch. Because of that, I make sure it's waterproof so I can swim and shower with it on. 
  • I don't think brown and black match. Story: One time someone sat in front of me with a black shirt and a brown belt. I had to move seats because I was too distracted by the mismatch. 
  • Watching and hearing finger pecking when typing on a keyboard is rather irksome, I much prefer proper typing and utilizing the home keys. 
  • I'm an awful dancer, but I'll dance anyway. 
  • I'm also an awful singer, but that certainly doesn't stop me. 
  • I love puns. 
  • I love jokes and very much enjoy laughing. 
  • I like to observe and ponder things before too much action is taken. 
  • I can easily sleep for fourteen hours if given the opportunity.
  • I probably think you're really, really cool. Scratch the "probably". I don't even know you and I'm sure that's what I think of you. 

7) Previous Experience.
  • My first mission trip was to Vernon, AZ where we did Vacation Bible School and Sports camp with a church. 
  • I went to Globe, AZ on a Native American Reservation with my church, where our main focus was clearing land in preparation of building a church. 
  • I have been to Rocky Point, Mexico three times with my church through Amor Ministries. There, we build houses and build relationships with those whose homes we are building. 
  • Spring break 2010, I went to St. Louis with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship through CityLights Ministries. There, I worked with refugees, teaching them English as a second language, raked leaves, planted gardens, helped a church move locations, and helped pave a parking lot.
  • July 2010 was my first overseas mission trip, as I went to South Africa with Thrive Africa. The primary emphasis was on relationship evangelism. 

8) The Nit N' Gritty.
  • I am truly excited to see God bring 13 (is that the right number?) people together and do crazy cool things. 
  • I am stoked/scared about working with victims within the sex trafficking industry. I have done quite a bit of research throughout my semesters at NAU about the industry.
  • I am wigging out that I get to meet you all. And hang out with you guys for two months. 
  • While I don't live at home (and every time I go home for breaks, I am reminded that I am a guest!), I can still communicate with my family. The idea of being in another country for two months with little communication with them makes me slightly nervous. 
  • I love America and probably opposite of many of you, have never really wanted to serve outside of America. But God has really been teaching me and showing me that I have to love and serve the rest of the world. And more and more, I've been yearning to learn and have really started to love the entire world. (You can read about it here:
  • God has been saying, "Ashley, you are so cool because you're my daughter. These people that are going to India are also super legit and they are my kids too. You guys are going to show India how great of a God I am and be my ambassadors there. I'm with you, all day e'eryday. Trust me."

Friday, March 4, 2011


Challenge: A task or situation that tests someone's abilities

I challenge my girls (my residents) all the time. Here are three of my favorite challenges that I have presented to them in the past 4 months or so:

Challenge Cards

When there is a lot of negativity going on, I try to challenge it with positivity. At the end of last semester (Fall 2010) there was a lot of bum stuff happening. With finals, the new housing process, graduation, people studying abroad, etc people were getting super stressed out. And when you have 43 girls super stressed that is bad news bears, let me tell you. So what I did was a program I call "Challenge Cards". I came up with specific challenges for each resident, a challenge that really tested their ability to be positive, to get involved. A challenge that either took their time, their effort, both, or neither. 

In order to really do this, I had to really know my residents. I had to know what they really struggled with, what they strived to do, what they were passionate about, what they didn't get excited about, what they were skilled at, etc. Some of my residents would tell me that they wanted to volunteer somewhere, but they either didn't know where or they simply didn't have the time. Some of my residents didn't get along with the staff, some didn't know their neighbors, some didn't think they had much to offer. 

When I did this challenge, I was really intentional with the timing. I presented this idea to them after Thanksgiving break and challenged them to complete the challenge I gave them by a specific date. The date I gave them was the day after finals ended, the day we were kicking them out of the hall (note: hall, like residence hall. We don't have dorms at NAU. If you want to hear about the difference, I'd love to tell you!). They had about 3 weeks to do said challenge. One of those weeks was finals week, the other week was reading week, and the other week was last lecture week. AKA I gave them the most inconvenient time possible for them to complete the challenge. I did that on purpose though. Essentially, I did that to show them that timing is always going to suck and we can always use that as an excuse, and part of the challenge is not to do that. To be willing to take some time out of our days to  help people and to be more positive. Someone told me one time that while most people have goals and don't let anything get in their way and don't stop until they achieve said goals, that they viewed me as someone who is willing to stop for other people on the way to achieving my goals. That I care more about people and about influencing and impacting them and about my journey to my goal then just achieving my goal. That was super powerful for me to hear and it has stuck with me and something I now continue to strive to do. And it's something I tried to encourage my residents to do. 

Some of the challenges included:
  • Write a letter to the MoCa (Morton/Campbell) Hall Staff
  • Take your neighbor out to eat
  • Stargaze with someone for at least 20 minutes
  • Attend at least 3 programs put on my hall staff
  • Write a letter to people who live in certain rooms, encouraging them
  • Write an encouraging a note on everyone's white board
  • Volunteer at least 2 hours of your time at Flagstaff Family Food Center
  • Have a meal with at least 4 other people from Campbell
  • Write an encouraging note to each member on executive council
  • Get to know basic facts about at least 2 people in Campbell
  • Volunteer or write a supportive letter to CASA
  • Send a positive e-mail to MoCa hall staff
  • Have a meal with your roommate
  • Grab coffee with someone you don't live near
[This isn't the whole list, but the main ones.]

I asked them to think about specific things before/after/during the challenge. (I had them separated, but just put them in a long list here.)
  • What will this cost me time? Effort?
  • Is this challenge easy/hard? Why? 
  • What happened during this challenge? (Conversations, learned about someone, etc)
  • Do I feel more like a positive contributor to the community?
  • Why did/didn't I complete this challenge?
  • What did I get from doing it?
  • Will I continue to do this challenge once completed?
  • Was this challenge a reality check for me?
  • How do I normally interact with my community?
  • How did this challenge impact me?
  • What did I fear when I read the card?
  • Do I view myself differently? Others differently?
  • How do I view the MoCa community?
  • Do  I view the hall staff differently?
  • Is there power in encouraging others?
  • Is it worth my time to spend it with others and/or encouraging others? Why/why not?
That was essentially what I challenged my residents to do. One resident was having some issues with our hall staff and I challenged her to write a letter to the MoCa hall staff. She did. She told us about herself. She told us what she got excited about, what bored her, what she liked, what she didn't like. And at the end of the letter she thanked us for all of our hard work and acknowledged that she knew we really did care. After that, things changed. That was powerful for us to hear. We, as a hall staff, need to hear those things. We love hearing from our residents what we can do better, what we are doing really well in, how we are impacting them. 

Now, I will be honest. This program didn't have a high success rate. I asked people why. You know what their most common responses were? Ashley, I just didn't have time. Maybe if you gave it to me when it wasn't near finals I would have done it. Ashley, I just forgot. Ashley, this challenge is too hard for me. 

If you are ever challenged to do something, don't let time be an excuse. If you are forgetful, write it down, post it somewhere. And I believe in my residents. I know them. I know that I gave them real challenges, things that they struggled with. I was incredibly purposeful with them. And they know it. I believe each challenge presented was achievable by the specific person I gave it to. Just hard. I truly tested their abilities. I pushed them. I believe that if you don't have anyone pushing you or calling you out on excuses or crap you're doing, you don't have anyone that cares about you. And I deeply and desperately care about all of my residents. So I challenge them. And call them out on their silly excuses. 

Letter to self
At the beginning of the semester, I asked them to write a letter to themselves. In that letter, I told them to be real in it, to be honest in it. To write goals in it, to encourage themselves. To remind themselves how wonderful they are. To draw a picture, to make them smile. I gave them all "security envelopes" and gave them three days to write this letter and had them put it in the envelope and seal them. Currently, they are all in one of my drawers and I have picked out a date and put in my calendar to hand them back out. The only person who will see this letter is them. I'm just holding onto the letters and will return them back to each person in the sealed envelope. 

I have done this twice before and it can be such a powerful thing when taken seriously. About half of my residents decided to take on this challenge and I am so excited for when they get their letters back. 

Valentine's Day Challenge

Valentine's Day has gotten this bad rap for being this awful holiday, and is often referred to as "Single's Awareness Day". People hate Valentine's Day for all sorts of reasons and I always thought I hated it too. But I thought about it...and realized I don't really hate it (ha, kind of sounds like the money post...). People often get upset if they don't have a "significant other". But here's the deal. The term "significant other" actually means anyone you really care about, anyone who has the greatest effect on our judgments. Someone who serves as a social model, usually an important person in our life. For the week of Valentine's Day, I challenged my residents to not get so caught up in the "stupidity" of Valentine's Day, but to focus on the real meaning of significant others. And for that week, show someone that they care. Really care. I challenged them to make that person feel loved, feel significant, feel worthy. 

And I challenge you all to do the same. Be challenged. 

PS--New look of blog...good? bad?