Saturday, December 31, 2016


"Grow" Kolby Koloff

2015: Relentless
2016: Intentional 

2017: Grow

I want to grow in my faith, grow in my relationships, grow in my confidence. I want to grow my savings, my expertise, and my knowledge. I want to grow in my understanding of people and of Jesus. I want to grow as I set and deepen roots and grow with intention and with integrity.

I want to focus on growth. Sometimes, that's going to include being brave and taking risks...and I'm sure, vulnerability. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016


I love voting. I love America. I love democracy. I love freedom.

I'm not a super passionate person. I'm really grateful there ARE super passionate people, I'm just not one of them (and I'm okay with that). Passion is a value and what people are passionate about are also values.

Passion is defined as "strong and barely controllable emotion."  I value objectivity, prudence, judgment, and critical thinking. I value being able to maintain control of my emotions in nearly all situations. I value the idea of not being so entrenched in a belief (including my belief in who Jesus is) that I can't potentially be swayed. Others value that they are so faithful that they couldn't be swayed in their belief. That's a value. Neither are can only be wrong if there are facts involved.

I am so glad other people aren't like me. I'm also so glad other people are like me. We need lots of people who think things through and weigh decisions and we need lots of people who feel deeply and strongly and act on those feelings.

Regarding this specific election--

To my friends of color, LGBTQ, and other marginalized groups: I hear you, I hear the pain, I see the grief, and I hear the feelings of being fearful. Because justice is another strong value I have and one of my favorite words is "safe"; it's so important that you feel safe in America.

To my friends who voted for Trump: You're not stupid. And your values also matter. It's important you feel heard.

It's about values. Some people value financial security, others value financial freedom. Some value the topic of global warming as their top priority, others value rights of women, others value the Dakota Access Pipeline Movement, others value strong protection of borders, and others value education. There are thousands of values. And many of them clash and it's hard for them to coexist. Ergo, spirited debates and unfriending.

But what it is is values. And values aren't wrong. They just are. And people have them. Due to values, I was really torn between my value of being objective versus my understanding of people's passion and I thought that if I were to be objective, that means I'm a heartless person. I had to really wrestle through that.

I value that emotions don't get in the way for me and I value that I can see it from both sides and can be swayed. Many people value that they have a strong belief so much that they can't be swayed. And that's okay. They aren't close minded and I'm not heartless. I value particular topics, others value other topics. And that's okay.

For some, they don't want to interact with people with different values. And that's part of their value system. For others, they want to interact with people with different values, and that's part of their value system. So if you have friends who say "just unfriend me now", recognize their values. You'll also have a lot of friends who say welcome to my page, and it's okay no matter who you are, and recognize those values.

Again, it's about values. And values aren't wrong, they just are.

PS. See my post on unfriending (one of my values): 

Also, Trump/Pence sounds like "Trumpets". Jam to this, might make you dance!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

God Honoring

I've been wrestling between being kind toward someone and being right. As I was thinking about it, a gentle whisper came and asked what choice will honor me? What is the most God honoring response? That has made me step back and reflect. Being God honoring is hard, but it's the choice I want to make. Choosing to follow Christ. Which means...not gossiping, not being passive aggressive, not being unkind or rude, not being a jerk. It means actively choosing integrity, kindness, and Jesus. Love people, even when it's hard, even when they are hurtful, even when it's uncomfortable. And good grief, is it hard right now to make those choices. I want to give this person a piece of my mind, I want to rally others behind me, I want to call them names, I want to be passive aggressive. It's taken me days to calm down, if I'm being honest. So this decision (which I haven't actually followed through on yet, I need to work up to that still) is not one that is easy "just because": I'm a Christian, I'm a professional, I'm a BHP, I'm a social worker, I'm a therapist, I'm a licensed professional, I'm a 'good person' etc...I still wrestle and it's still hard. But I have come to the decision to actively choose kindness, integrity, and ultimately, Jesus.

I've had this song stuck in my head...I had the wrong lyrics, but finally found it: Washed Over Me, All Things New

I need supporters and encouragers. People to hold me accountable of honoring Christ in my choices and lifestyle. That means doing more than just my job and being more than just my job. It means having authentic relationships, pursuing goals, being kind, being courageous. It means being more active, feeling better about myself, making choices I'm proud of, engaging with people, not being so fearful of intimacy. I want to be surrounded by people who are just, merciful, forgiving, and encourage me to be the same. People who are passionate about the beauty of Jesus and hold me up. People who encourage me to take risks, who are intentional, available, and intimate. People who actively choose kindness and integrity. I need a supportive network of people, especially believers.

[This is sort of a compilation of my own journal entries over the months...]

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Conflict of Boundaries

This last week, I've either been witness to or a part of several situations where boundary setting led to people being pissed off. And in all situations that have recently occurred, I know that what I (and others) did was the right thing. I know I acted appropriately, I know I didn't do anything wrong, and I know those who I was setting boundaries with were in the wrong. And while I believe in growth and learning from situations and how to respond better, in all of the situations in the past week, I'm confident that I did what I was supposed to do and really wouldn't have done things differently.

Yet, I'm really upset. Hurt, rather. Frustrated? All of those. And I'm now realizing it's because I'm really just confused. I'm in this conflict in the midst of boundary setting, where I have this pull of my intense desire (albeit somewhat dangerous) to be liked, but the ethical obligation to set boundaries.

Be liked.
Set boundaries.

And confused, because which one wins? Why can't they both win? Why is it when boundaries are set, people get mad?

These are rhetorical questions.
And for me, ethics will win. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016


The other day, I was having ice cream with one of the most incredible human beings I know. We talked about a lot of things, and one of them was this hardship that we both realize we face.

This idea, this question really of, 

Are we willing to invest in a hypothetical?

We talked about how we are intentional people, but how do you maintain relationships with those who like to be more spontaneous? What do you do when you don't feel fully connected? How do you develop and maintain deep, connected relationships as you grow older and life transitions take place? We talked about specific relationships we have been involved in and how now, there is some danger because we hold that as the standard for relationships; when we know how good it could be, we yearn for that, and then don't feel wholly satisfied.

I presented a specific issue I have and they essentially summed it up about investing in a hypothetical. It could be an amazing thing. Or it could just be completely draining and so utterly exhausting.

See, my personality type is pretty introverted. I'm pretty outgoing, but my energy levels are based on having time to myself, or having deep, meaningful relationships. So for some people, the option of potential strong, life giving relationships is totally worth it and not much of a question. For me, I have to look at how much energy I really have. And the outcome isn't a definite. If it were, I might be more willing.

I'm always looking at cost-benefit. I'm looking at the risk ratio. I calculate my conversations and relationships. Input and output. I do sometimes treat relationships like a math problem.

And for the last while, I've decided no, I'm not willing to invest in a hypothetical. But I think I just may be willing to reconsider. 

Monday, May 30, 2016


I went on my first solo vacation trip this Memorial Weekend to San Diego, CA and it was glorious. It doesn't even hardly feel real, which was partially why it was so nice--I didn't think about anyone or anything outside of where I was in the moment. I texted a few people every now and then, mainly to provide general safety updates, but otherwise, I didn't really use my phone. (And to take some pictures, but even then, I focused on enjoying the present moment rather than trying to capture things for the future.)

There are few places I love more than the beach. Actually, I can't really think of any place I love more than the beach. It's one of my "secret" loves (I don't talk about it often, but not necessarily hiding it). Except when it's dark, because then it terrifies me, I love bodies of water.

I visited two universities, a few beaches/coves, harbors, parks, museums, a national monument, and did a boat tour. And I read an entire book (The Husband's Secret, for book club). And slept soundly. 

Not once did I feel rushed, pressured, lonely, bored, bummed, sad, annoyed, stressed, scared, nervous, worried, or upset.

Sometimes I felt a little confused because I would get kind of lost, but always found my way. I mainly felt contentment, bliss, and calmed. Except every single time I saw the ocean, my face lit up like a Christmas tree, it was a little ridiculous. I couldn't contain my excitement and joy each time I saw the water. 
Seriously, in the car as I rounded a curve and saw the ocean. And whenever I walked a shoreline or by a bay, I'm pretty sure people may have thought I was nuts, because I was walking with this big goofy grin that I couldn't contain. Water does that to me..

This was my first trip that I can think of that I have ever done without an agenda. Without an itinerary or purpose. I've done solo trips before, but always for a reason. That's what made this one special. There was no reason to go other than to just go. 

I always have a purpose and a plan and a reason. "Let's just see what happens" is a phrase I despise. 

I've been working on trying to be more "go with the flow", spontaneous, and flexible. Doing things because you want to. If I wanted something longer than three seconds, I did it or I bought it. I created a list of things I wanted to do and then just did them. 

I might make this a tradition...but in the meantime, I need to figure out how to start to integrate some of this past weekend's experiences into my real life.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Yada (Hebrew): To know and be known completely; to be chosen and pursued.

My relationship with Christ should be the most intimate relationship I have. And my close relationships should mirror this type of relationship, but my relationship with Jesus trumps all. At least it should and that's what I want...except it's not always what I want and I start choosing to be a "fan", rather than a follower. I have actively chosen to not engage with my Creator recently because I knew it would mean to give up some of the choices I've made. I have made a lot of bad choices lately. I have actively chosen things I knew I shouldn't. I have chosen jealousy over trust; knowledge over intimacy; fear over joy. Partially because it was just easier. But I've started to come face to face with those decisions and it's been tearing me up. Now, I'm at another one of those crossroads moments.

And I choose the rugged, glorious cross. Because a second chance is heaven's heart (RCE--"Second Chance").

"Fans choose knowledge; followers embrace intimacy."

Knowledge: Study, learn; it is valuable and important, but it cannot replace intimacy. Knowledge can be easier, but it's not as worthwhile if it's all we choose.

In all areas of my life, I have been choosing knowledge recently. It's wonderful to pursue knowledge, but in pursuit of it I have also chosen to resist intimacy. It's not how it has to be, but it's what I have chosen. And it's been wrecking me, because I know how purposeful and valuable and necessary intimacy is. Yet, I keep trying to shut it out. Because jealousy, fear, and knowledge have been easier to hang on to.

To be intimate and vulnerable. Yada. 

Intimacy requires vulnerability.
Yada with my Abba.
How beautiful to be fully known and wholly loved.

He knows me, He knows me, He knows me. He calls me to Him, again and again, despite my choices. And he forgives me and still calls me His child.

My child, my beloved, my daughter, my love. Be intimate and vulnerable. Come to me, come at my feet and give up your jealousy. Stay here, with me. Stay and grow in me. Then, go and have these relationships with others. Relationships of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. That is what I have called you to. To have intimate, beautiful, vulnerable, full of life relationships. Not relationships with bitterness, jealousy, hurt, mistrust, anger, resentment, lies, and fear. Stop it. That is not what you were created for. You were created for my joy. You were created to honor me in all you do, especially in your engagement in relationships. So engage in relationships. Real ones. Be intimate and vulnerable. And trust in me. I love you, my dear. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mandated Reporting

I had to make one of the most difficult Department of Child Safety (DCS) calls of my career the other day. Many of my kids are already involved in DCS when I meet them, and so I don't typically have to make a lot of calls. However, I've still had to make a number of DCS calls in my profession as a mandated reporter, though all of the past ones, the kids were already in safe environments and it was typically just additional information I had to provide. A couple have led to non-priority investigations, some just resulted in documentation. But this time I would be the one initiating DCS. This was the first call where I had fear of that child's safety at that moment. All the past calls I've made, I didn't have strong concerns of present danger. In fact, when I told them I would likely be making a report, they got upset saying there will be retaliation and it will be worse. I asked if I misunderstood any of the information. No, but they will retaliate and it will be worse. 

I had to make the call. I was in anguish about it and it was hard. What if things do get worse? What if they don't continue to engage in therapy? What if I've ruined all trust? What if there isn't enough information to be substantiated? 

I didn't have a choice. I had enough information that led me to have significant concerns of their well being. I am a mandated reported. It may be the law, but it doesn't mean it's easy. But I had to make the call. 

DCS investigated within hours. They also saw it is a priority case with the information provided. 

This kid is going to make it in the world, but they desperately need help. They need a support system. They need positive, strong influences. They need people to care for their wellbeing. I think I'm the first person to say to them that what's happening is not okay and I'm putting their safety in front of my relationship with them. Their safety and wellbeing matters. They matter. That's why I made the call. Because they matter and they need to know that. They need to know people don't treat people that way and it is not okay. This is a call that may have saved their life and I have to believe that. 

They are worthy of love, dignity, respect, belonging. 

For information regarding mandated reporting:

If you have any concerns regarding a child in AZ call:
1-888-SOS-CHILD (1-888-767-2445)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

From my Journal...

Sitting outside at [park], having a little picnic, listening to music, and thinking about #Blacklivesmatter. Being an advocate is really hard and scary. I've started to learn there are many ways to advocate/support. For me, it's really gaining an understanding of my white privilege and how much I have. It's recognizing it and using that to support those of other colors. As a white person, I have a lot of advantages. I can look around and most people look like life, movies, TV. When the #blacklivesmatter became something, I didn't understand it at first. I had the thought, like many people, especially white people, ."....but all lives matter." I finally started to recognize and understand the hashtag. Yes, all lives matter. But right now, black lives really matter and our focus needs to be on them. Our black brothers and sisters are unjustly accused, prejudices come about in the forefront of our interactions, and we sometimes think we are better than or they are lesser than. Black people deserve better. They deserve lives with dignity. As do all people. But most people already have the privilege of not fearing they'll be shot at because of their skin color, or demeaned, or harassed, because they "look different". #blacklivesmatter. Yes, yes, they do. To me, to Jesus, to the world. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

In Christ

Boldly I Approach--Rend Collective
He pulls me close with nail scarred hands into his everlasting arms
When condemnation grips my heart and satan tempts me to despair
I hear the voice that scatters fear, the great I AM the Lord is here
Oh praise the one who fights for me and shields my soul eternally 

Boldly I approach your throne, blameless now I'm running home
By your blood I come, welcomed as your own into the arms of majesty

A thousand years, a thousand tongues are not enough to sing his praise

Oh my God, my God. I have been swallowed by this feeling of inadequacy as a human being. That old fear crept up today of "You are only as good as what you do", something I have worked so hard at beating. I have worked so hard at recognizing that I have value and worth, just as I am. And I hear the gentle roar of the Lion, reminding me of who I am in Him. And hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah. I am welcomed, I am worthy, I'm fought for, I'm shielded, I stand blameless and uncondemned. Hallelujah.

Another song I have been hooked on is "Poor and Powerless".

All the poor and powerless
and all the lost and lonely

All will sing out hallelujah
We will cry out hallelujah  

And all who feel unworthy
And all who hurt with nothing left
Will know that you are holy 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Too Heated?

One time, someone told me that they don't like talking about God because those discussions always get too heated. Knowing that this person was an avid church goer and believed in God, I said, I think if it's something you really believe and are passionate about, it's worth talking about. It doesn't have to be heated nor does it have to (nor should it) turn into an argument or debate.

I've been really into this idea of being generous in our responses to others, to extend kindness and to be able and willing to have fruitful conversations about any topic. Now, I have some bias because I am a trained is literally my job to be able to dig deep and explore ideas with people in a non-judgemental and safe place, including those that I may not necessarily agree with. And sometimes I forget that while some of it does come naturally, I also went through a lot of school and training to have those kinds of conversations with people and that not everyone has that same experience.

I get frustrated not when people don't agree with me, but when there is no allowance for disagreements, no allowance for discourse or discussion. When passions are turned into arguments of "I'm right, you're wrong, shut up".

If something is on your heart, I think it's crucial you have a safe place to share it. And it's up to each of us to try to create a safe place for others. If you have a question, a thought, an idea, an opinion, find safe people to share it with. Those are the people who will listen, who will perhaps gently challenge you, who will encourage you to further your knowledge on a topic, who will ask questions, and above all, will still love you and still value you. They won't be people who you fear will gossip about what you shared, or people who will tell you you're a horrible person for thinking that, or people who you feel judged by. It's okay to not share with some people.

Share yourself with safe people. And the more of those types of relationships we create, the less heated conversations can be and the more we can learn and grow. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016


My stomach is all tied up in knots because I just overheard an extended conversation that essentially was focused on shaming people. I don't want to shame them in the process of explaining shame, though.

Brene Brown came up with an acronym for healthy relationships--BRAVING.


I love all of them and what they stand for, however for the purpose of this, I want to focus on "generous". Brown defined being generous as being generous in your assumptions in what people say and do;
"Extend the most generous interpretations possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others."

Essentially, be kind in how you read and interpret things. I started to list a bunch of examples, but honestly...I'm too fearful that people won't be generous in their interpretations of reading them.

I love questions and also, statements. I rarely think someone is "stupid" or wonder "what is wrong with them?" or "how dare they?" because I strive to be generous of other people's intentions. Because of that, I'm much more available to engage in real conversations and we can learn and grow and strive to be better and expand our worldview. And because of that, I don't get as angry at a post on facebook or a question someone asked. Instead, I extend generosity via their intention.

I have a lot of favorite verses, but one that seems fitting for this is in 1 Corinthians 8. Hear me out, before skipping this part. It was written by Paul and it's in regard to food sacrifice. I love this chapter because Paul essentially says:

In Christianity, you can eat whatever food you want, but some people think you can only eat certain foods. And if so, that's fine. Don't rub it in their face, make fun of them, or tell them they're dumb; just eat the food they are okay with. Don't use your knowledge [of being able to eat anything] to spite or shame others. 

And 1 Corinthians 8:13: Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

Paul says, relationships come first. Before rules, regulations, before anything else, relationships. People are God's heart. And Christians, in particular, should consistently uphold that priority and be generous in their interpretations of others.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Good Love

It's love so undeniable, I can hardly speak. 

That's my favorite line from Chris Tomlin's song, Good, Good Father.

My God, my God. You have such an unyielding desire for your people. You desperately call out and love your people. Love, love, love.

I cannot fathom it, cannot fathom you, your beauty, your glory. Holy, holy, holy are you. I can't believe you died for me. I can't believe you care so much about me, about my friends, about the world, about the haters.

How is this real? How is it that the God of the universe loves His people? How is it that the Lion and Lamb laid Himself to be slaughtered and crucified? What kind of story is this? That there is a god, who formed the world, created people, people said, "nah, brah" to god's holiness, god passionately pursues them, god leaves heaven, goes to live on earth, gets killed, raises back from life, comes back to be with people saying, "now do you believe I love you?" and ever since then, keeps trying to say, "I love you, I love you, I love you. Do you love me?"

What other religion has the Creator of the universe coming in the form of man and taking on suffering and choosing to spend time with people? Directly in their messines? What other religion has that the GOD gets crucified? What other religion has "their leader" trying to engage with people and pursue people rather than trying to get people to engage?

He loves us, oh how he loves us. Love so undeniable, I can hardly speak.

At the very least, I want people to better understand the story of Christianity. To think, Wow, I wish that were true. I wish the God of Christianity that is described on this blog was real. 

Even if you don't believe in it's realness, I want people to better understand the actual story. Rather than as how this person described the Christian religion:

"Religion has convinced people that there's an invisible man ... living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn't want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money."

Because there are
A thousand stories of what they think you're like
but I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
as you tell me that you're pleased and I'm never alone

You're a good, good father. It's who you are. 
And I am loved by you. It's who I am. 

And I've seen many searching for answers far and wide, 
But I know, we're all searching for answers only you provide

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


The other day, someone had posted on FB, "If you're voting for _____, then just unfriend me right now." And it really bothered me. Not about the statement (I actually agreed with them, that that candidate would be a terrible choice for the nation and world), but the blanket statement of, "If you don't agree with me on this point, we can't be friends."

And I think it's a fairly common thing for people to say, "....just unfriend me" and it drives me bonkers. Because I love relationships. I love talking to people, I love hearing different views, I love sharing my thoughts and hearing other thoughts, and digging into it.

As much as I love it, I have found most people don't love it. And so what happens in so many of my conversations is I just listen quietly and don't share anything and don't gain any knowledge, because people oftentimes want to tell (sometimes yell) their opinion and because they're so passionate about it. It's too hard for me to listen when the tone is, "I'm right, no matter what you say/do I believe this 100% and you're stupid if you don't" (Intentional tone or not.) I hear it, I give them the validation, but I don't get a chance to listen, question, or engage in conversation.

Because of that, I get stuck even longer on topics or ideas or thoughts, because I don't have that many people to really grapple with. I only have two identified persons who I can say I actually trust to discuss hard topics with and trust that I won't be judged, I won't be "unfriended", I won't be yelled at. Whom I trust to not tell someone else, "Oh my gosh, let me tell you what Ashley said". Who we can have differing opinions, even about "heated topics" and I know neither of us will yell or loudly talk at the other, neither of us will demean the other, neither of us will walk away from the conversation feeling like we don't matter, or fearing the other person will think less of us.

Maybe you have more than two friends like that, in which case, that's awesome! Maybe you don't actually have any friends like that. Maybe it turns out all your friends agree with you, so you're not really sure what it would be like to have a different opinion or to question something. I'd like to have more friends like that. Although, as quoted from Freaks and Geeks, "I already have two friends, how many more does a guy need?"

For me, up until I was in mid/late-high school, all of my relationships were "surface level". I didn't even realize it until I experienced real relationships. Where I started to have friends like above--who I felt safe with and who I felt like I could say, "I believe this, what do you think?" "I am really confused about this, can you help?" And they wouldn't just give me their opinion or tell me, "Do what you want, it's your life". Rather, they would walk me through it, take the time to understand me, and push me into vulnerability and provide a strong enough safety net.

I believe in friendships. Real friendships. I think they're worth investing in and I think it's important to have people who we can feel safe with and important for us to be the type of friend who others feel safe talking to.

From my journal, 1/23/16 (which I wrote as 1/23/15)

I want to make life better for people. I want people to like knowing me and enjoy my company. I want to inspire people to make good choices and take responsibility for their actions. I don't want to "unfriend" people because we disagree. People are beautiful and I want more truly beautiful people in my life. 

And if you want to unfriend me...please don't. I really want to be your friend.