Saturday, December 31, 2011

Headed to the Georgia Dome

In just two days I will join 22,000 other students in worship of the Lord.

Passion 2012, here I come.

Please pray for the hand of God to move mightily in each life, mine and everyone else's. Last year Passion raised 1,600,000 dollars for all types of causes; freedom of sex slaves, hunger, Haiti homes. . . Hopefully God will use this group of young people to be just as influential.

GEORGIA! Here we come. Be ready to see God's presence at the GEORGIA DOME!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to Stay Single Forever: A Guide to Utter Repulsiveness

If you want to stay single your entire life, then here are some good places to start. These things will make sure that no guy/girl is interested in you; thus, you won't have to worry or fret about the unknown, black waters of holding a relationship. I mean, who wants that stress? Try these things and who knows? Maybe you will never have to deal with that special person you've been dreading.

#1: Belch out loud.
For some reason people find pleasure out of burping the alphabet. If you do this, no wonder you're single. It's not cute. Not attractive. And not mature in the slightest. Guys, if you are trying to scare away girls, this is a lovely place to start. 99.999% of girls find burping totally repulsive. It's an unpleasant, bodily noise and if you're down-wind . . .well . . .need I say more? Women, this tactic works best for you all. Some people can tolerate men doing this, but a female? Heck no! It is unfeminine and just plain gross if you do it. Maybe you could pull it off in grade school, but by dating age? No way.

#2: Talk about yourself.
I've been in conversations with people who literally cannot talk about anyone but themselves. I wanted to run away and never speak to the person again. Bingo! There is your ticket! If you desire to live in solitude, be obsessed with yourself. Talk about your daily schedule, tell a weird story about you pet, describe in detail your mother's artichoke dip, and gab endlessly about anything the person you are trying to scare away won't care about. If you ask one single question about the other person, it might spark just a flare of hope that you aren't a self-obsessed jerk (which is how you want to be viewed, since in fact you desire no one special), so don't do it!

#3: Speak endlessly of finding yourself.
I'm not sure how you ever "find yourself" but if you talk about it all the time people are going to start wondering if you're lost.Not attractive.

#4: Mooch off your parents. Sorry, but it's not impressive if you are twenty years old and still depending off your parents for everything. It shows a lack of responsibility and proves that you are totally inconsiderate. So, if she seems interested in you (and you don't want her to be), slip the fact that you live in your mom's basement in the next conversation, or better yet post it on her Facebook wall. She won't stick around. (Disclaimer: I'm not dissing anyone. Obviously, this post is a joke.)

#5: Show off your gaming trophies and certificates.
I'm not sure there is anything as unattractive and annoying as someone who obsessed with video games. Games are okay in moderation. But, if you are the champion of Black Ops, Halo, Call of Duty, Runescape, and have beat every Xbox game. . .then, that's a little much. No person wants to have to compete for attention with a video game. If he starts talking about relationship stuff - your worst nightmare - then steer him towards your wall of awards. Proudly polish your "Frequent-Player" trophy and whip out the "Winner of the 2011 Gaming Conference" certificate.  

#6: Text at inappropriate times.
There is a right time to text and a wrong time to text. All you have to do is pick the wrong times. In the middle of church service, text your buddy. While he is trying to have a conversation with you, whip that phone out and text a cousin you haven't talked to in forever - anything to seem utterly obnoxious. While everyone is working to raise money for a benefit, text. That's a great time to look totally into yourself. In class? At work? In an uncomfortable situation? Corned by the person you are trying to avoid? Just text.

#7: Complain.
Oh yes, a classic jewel. Complain about your sore feet, over-sized nose, the temperature, or anything you can think of to make sure that person knows you hate yourself and life.

#8: Act desperate.
Act lonely, needy and possessive. No one wants to go out of his/her way to find you in the corner and be social. If you are standing in the corner and acting pitiful, you will be left that way. Embrace this tactic. Better yet, get one other close friend to stand in the corner with you. The two of you must converse quietly while looking around the room fearfully. Maybe even nibble on cheese. If the other person tries to leave you, grab his/her hand and make a scene about how you can't be left alone.For those watching, this is just plain cah-REEPY.

#9: Be obsessed with Facebook. Nothing is less attractive than a girl who comments on every status and is a Facebook stalker. Tip: Bring facebook into every conversation. If she is trying to talk to you, ask accusingly, "Did you hear this on facebook?" Then, act uninterested in the answer is no. Stalk people as much as you can. If he comments on a picture, you comment on his comment. If he comments on a status, you comment too. Like what he Likes. Join the groups that he joins. Poke him all the time. Ew.

#10: Master your posture.
~ For men, walking is essential; hold your arms a good four or five inches from your side, hold your chest high, and whatever you do, DON'T swing your arms. Your arms must move to and fro with your body like stiff, muscular, bars of steel. Yes, you read it right. Muscular steel. If you can imagine what muscular steel looks like, be that. If you can't imagine it, watch the fights, then be that. This "Ima-gift-to-women" posture only works if you master your facial features.  You must, and I mean MUST, master the straight face. A full smile communicates that you are happy and approachable, which is the last message you want to convey. And half-smile says you're comfortable and dashing. That's bad too. Try to avoid frowns because they draw too much attention. But, if you master the straight face, you'll be in business. To do this, look in a mirror for a while and relax your face muscles. Success is achieved when your lips form a straight line. Learn to do this constantly, even while people are trying to communicate with you and make you laugh. To top it off, acquire the eye-brow. Cock one eyebrow, slightly and stiffly over the other. This combo will make a stiff, awkward, unhappy-looking person. Perfect for your single needs. Keep in mind that this works best if you have zilch muscle and are a sissy boy in every regard.

~ For ladies, the ideal scare-all-men-away posture is simple and natural. First, slouch your shoulders as much as possible. If you do this, your neck will be like a protruding beacon and will look insanely large and unusual. If you really want to be repulsive, let your chin point towards the ceiling and leave your mouth slightly ajar. Next, never do anything with your arms. Let them hang like dead weights at your side and make sure they are like ripples from your body; they move like your body moves, only in exaggerated motions.When you walk, make sure that it's a light shuffle; allow people to hear each foot movement. And like with men, the face is very important. You have to keep your eyes on nothing in particular and have a hazy, dazed-out look. 

Yeap, that's all I got for you, munchkins, you.

Peace, recycling, and solitude,
Dr. Love (aka Ashley)

© 2011 Dr. Love. 
Feel free to share the included wisdom with those in need, but reference the author, Dr. Ashley Love.

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Many Homes

So, I got to celebrate Christmas a few times.

On the twenty-third with my mother and sister. We opened presents from each other and had a really good time laughing, eating, cleaning the house and watching a movie.

Then, we celebrated on the 24th with my Nashville family. Man, I can't even begin to describe how wonderful the time was. I got to be with ALL my brothers - which rarely happens because everyone has different schedules and lives so far away. Well, we chatted it up and played with my nephew, Kyle, and talked to my brother, Kalen, and Peggy about their coming baby. Poor Peggy is due in just a few days - she was craving chocolate too. So funny and adorable. My youngest brother, Micah, was jamming on the guitar, and my oldest brother, Jayson was trying hard to keep Kyle out of trouble. Graham was gabbing his head off about planes and I stood in the midst of it all, totally in love with my brothers.

Then, I celebrated Christmas, on Christmas (finally) with my second Nashville family - the Watsons. Okay, well they are not really my family, but they might as well be. Supposedly, Becca, Jessy, Carlee and I were sisters at birth, but our parents decided to spilt us up between another couple because we were too awesome of children for them to hoard all for themselves. The original parents are undetermined because they deny the truth of the story. Well, that is at least the rumor that's going around. . . Anyhow, we had SO much fun. Wow. I honestly would never have chosen to spend the day any other way. The Watson's had some of their family in. Their Grammie, Papa, Grandma and cousins. So, it was good to see of my extended family.

Today, I celebrated with my St. Louis MO family. All the kids, cousins, Aunts and Uncles. It was a total riot and always is. I suggested compiling a legal document, declaring that none of the parents or teenagers would be liable in case of a child's injury during present-unwrapping time. But, that was sorta a fail. Seriously guys, we have 10 kids in the family all under 11. When it's time to unwrap presents, I tuck myself safely in a corner and I'm picking pieces of wrapping paper out of my hair for a few hours. . .

Guys, I'm not going to lie; God has really dished me a load of challenges in this life. There are a ton of things that I wish were different about my family. But, during times like this - namely Christmas Eve with my Nashville family - I wonder what I don't have. If things weren't the way they were, I very likely may not even have the privilege of knowing my precious brothers and being a part of my two nephews' life. I wouldn't know the joy of family reconciliation, if I had never known a broken family. I would not know the beauty of love-despite-the-circumstances, if I had never witnessed the circumstances.

I find that insanely ironic and beautiful. Given the chance, what would I change? What would be different? Nothing. Honestly, nothing. I love what I have too much. When you are right in the middle of a situation, sometimes it's hard to see God's timely planning and why He's doing what He's doing. But, lemme tell you, don't give up on God; He actually does know what He is doing - no matter how hopeless you feel and how annoyed you are at Him. Just wait.

I realized something this Christmas. If anything was to ever happen to me or my family, we would have a lot of homes. I have a lot of homes outside my home. I'm incredibly loved. I can't believe that, but it's true. I don't understand what is lovable about me, but for some reason, I could count dozens of people that would take me in in half a heartbeat.

Forgive me, Lord, for taking such a thing for granted. Many people in this world don't know what family is. I have family; immediate family, extended family.. . .adopted family. . .and the family of God.

But, pushing aside the earthly, there is one love and one home that trills me more than the rest - by far! I have a home outside of this home and out of this world. Heaven. There is someone who has promised to take me and has taken me; My Jesus. What a love, man. I thought this family was awesome, but - whoo - my heavenly daddy has put this earthly congregation to shame. word.

I was glad to be reminded of this on Christmas. We watched The Nativity on Christmas and it was so incredible how Christ (the Highest King of Kings) came as a baby to be humbly born, humbly rule and gloriously save the people of the world from their sins. For me and for you. To top that craziness, He has promised us a heavenly home.

Yeah. I have earthly insurance; I know that if anything happens to me, my family or my house, I will have people to care for me. But, if something happens to my body and I die, God has promised to house my soul (and eventually my glorified body) forever. What beauty!

Today, I'm thanking God for my many homes; earthly and heavenly. I'm thanking God for allowing my family and my life to be the way it is. For allowing me to witness the joys and pleasures I have. For bringing special companions into my life and - the greatest of all - for holding my hand the whole time.

All the time, God is good. God is good, all the time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Just A Shout Out

Right now it's midnight. I'm waiting to see if my SAT scores will come out on the stroke of midnight. Ya know, my SAT has really been a source of stress for me. I've been all OCD about getting amazing grades so I can get into my ideal college choices. I've taken the SAT three times and the ACT once. Let's just say that every time I take them, I get pretty uptight. For some reason, I have felt like only a perfect-incredibly-above-average score is acceptable. But, it's not. No, there are lots of other scores completely acceptable. Everything I do, I want to be perfect at. But ya know what? I made a discovery; if I'm good at everything, how can I be great at anything? I'm smart. I study hard. But, I would never venture in calling myself an academically inclined student. Yes, I know how to study and get good grades, but that is a lot different than natural smarts and testing skills. I don't have those things.

This fact used to totally eat me to pieces. I was not satisfied with my SAT grades. My highest grades thus far is a 1680 (SAT) and a 23 (ACT).

So, I took it over and over, determined to be noticed for my academic achievements. Well, I learned something, I'm never going to be recognized because of my academic achievements, cause I haven't done that much.

Before, this fact killed me. But now, I don't really care that much. Don't get me wrong; I believe in doing your best in everything, but I think I've let good grades and recognition become and idol in my life. I don't have to be perfect. No one (especially not God, who really is the only one who matters) is going to judge or hate me because I didn't get a 2400 on my SAT. No one. Just myself.

And it doesn't matter what grade I get and what college I go to - as long as I'm serving the Lord, that is really all that matters. The rest will just burn with the earth one day.

I could let the thought that everything is going to burn depress me, but it doesn't. Somehow, I don't find that thought depressing at all! In fact, it's inspirational! The things I don't do for Christ will be gone with the wind one day, but the things I do do unto His name and His glory will store up treasure in Heaven. Therefore, I can't worry or fret or idolize anything, except my Savior.

It's late and I don't know if you all are picking up what I'm laying down, but I find this thought rather cool. It's freeing to realize that idolizing something is just a waste of time. Idolizing school, music, friends, or whatever is pointless.

So why do it?

I think getting a good grade would be pleasing to God, but now, I don't really care what I got. I did my best and the results are up to Him. I'm not going to worry,stress or fear. If my scores mean that I have to take remedial classes, then He will help me take them whole-heartedly.

Well, they haven't be released so I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rotting Teeth, Overalls and All Associated Thoughts

Sometimes, I think thoughts about other people that appall me the moment I think them. I guess this is a good thing. Good that I recognize them as appalling, I mean.

But, yesterday, at work I had a ridiculously awful thought about a costumer that came in. He and his wife were obviously hillbillies, had rotting teeth, and looked like they just walked off of Old McDonald's farm.

When they came up to my register, I thought, "Ew."

Literally. That is what I said to myself.

But as soon as I did, I realized how utterly sinful that was of me. How could I judge these two people by the way they looked? Yes, they were definitely rough, but for me to draw a conclusion about them was nothing short of wrong. By seeing a human that seemed like a "lower-life being" (for lack of a better word), I automatically got a prideful attitude - feeling like I was not as gross and disgusting as them. Yeah, rotting teeth are not something anyone would wish for, but my overall conclusion of them had a lot less to do with their teeth than it did with my pride. I got a little puffed up because I was "better" than them (and like I have anything to do with that!!).

Thankfully, God convicted me right after I thought that. It was like He said, "Ashley, remember me?" Yes, instantly, I remembered Him.

There is something dirtier and grosser than any person on earth: my sin. I tried to offer it to the Lord, but He said, "No good." Only His Son's sacrifice would do. How could I forget that favor bestowed on me? How could I forget that the Holy Lamb of God, took my filthy rags, my offensive sin, and my unworthy soul and made it white as snow on the cross. How could I forget that the Son left glorious Heaven to sleep in a manger with prickly hay and animals?

How on earth could I forget that Christ left His Father to eat with sinners, to heal their diseases and to love them? He came across a lot of freaky looking people - I assure you. He touched lepers! If you don't know, lepers have a disease called leprosy which makes parts of your body and your facial features fall off. And I'm weirded out by some rotting teeth and overalls? How superficial I am!

Jesus came to walk and talk with adulterers. He spoke with the blind, deaf, and lame. Man, some of His biggest fans were some really "low-life beings." And how did Jesus react? With love and mercy. He touched them and was surrounded by them. He didn't say, "ew" like He could have. He showed them the way to heaven because He wanted to bear their sin and their imperfections. He wanted to spend eternity with them. He wanted them to know life.

Wow. I'm so sinful.

 I am super thankful that God convicted me of that right when I thought it. I decided to make an extra special effort to reach out to them - I guess I was trying to make up for what I thought. I ended up really liking those two. They were hearty, country people and they were totally fun. We talked a little about Christmas, and I even found something in common between me and him - he was gluten free! 
After they took their food to the table, I vowed to not make deductions like that again. I can never see into the heart . . . but even if I could, I wouldn't be permitted to judge any way. I would still be commanded to love.

Several verses would fit nicely here, but one sticks out in my mind. Micah 6:8, "He has shown thee, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee. To do justly, lvoe mercy and to walk humbly with thy God."

Three areas where I totally failed. I wasn't fair, wasn't merciful and was definitely NOT humble.

Glad we have a forgiving God.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oh, So College Really Isn't About Me?

Okay, so I've had a ridiculously selfish attitude about college. For some reason, I've been under the impression that I need to attend a place that is going to be comfortable and perfect for me. I didn't want to go to a non-Christian school and I wasn't too hip on going to VolState, since that is the least exciting and glamorous place I could be.

Well, gradually God has been changing this attitude in me. Thank goodness. I don't know what ever made me feel like that attitude was acceptable or pleasing to God. My life isn't about me . . . much less college.

College decisions have been very heavy for me. See, I worry a lot. I fret and think (too much) about one decision for a long time. I like to plan waaaay ahead. So when I felt like I was being led to declare a different major, I was really thrown for a loop. Suddenly, I got really really stressed out about school. Nothing felt comfortable any more because my set-in-stone (right) plan had been devastated.

Honestly, I think I sinned a lot during that whole process. God tells us to trust Him and not too worry. I didn't trust. Guys, I was SO stressed out. Looking back, I can't even put a finger on exactly why I was. I was doing mega research, trying to make sure I knew exactly what I was doing, like I'd never heard of "changing majors" or "taking a different path" before. I kinda felt like I had to have a concrete plan for the next four years.

Not so. Only God has a concrete plan. No duh.

Eventually, God kinda said, "Hey, Ash, you are kinda being a brat about the college situation." And He was right. I was being a brat. I was whining all the time because I didn't have this and that figured out and this was still up in the air. . .

Then it got worse. My area of interest changed and that left one practical college option: VolState.

My first thought: "Ew."

I didn't want to go to VolState. Anywhere but there. I had heard too many horror stories about the college's shortcomings. But, when I laid out my options, I couldn't deny that it was the wisest choice. And dang it, since I want to be like Christ I guess I have to be wise. . . :D

I was invited into their honors program, so I went to the Honors Night to see how it's done. Weeeellll, whaddaya know? The guy who heads up the program is no one other than Doctor Pemintel, my sister's least favorite teacher. I won't even go into some of the awful things he has done.

Anyhow, needless to say, I was really discouraged. I didn't want to go to Volstate and I DEFINITELY didn't want to be in their honors program.

I was crushed. In order to do what I wanted to do in college, I couldn't go to a glam-glam school, with nice dorms, Christian education, and a tight-knit community. I would have to give up my dreams of being comfortable and having everything my way and resort to staying at home another year and attend low budget community college.

I whined. A lot. And I feel really bad about that. How can I feel like whining to God is okay?

But, God has been working in me and I'm so excited about that. He has been changing my heart and mind about this whole situation. For some reason, I'm not so bummed about going to VolState. I'm excited about it. I'm excited about furthering my education and I'm not even concerned about where that takes place.

I finally realized that college isn't about me. Freeing thought, right? Once I realized that, the decisions and pressures of college seriously reduced. If I'm just going for God, then I can make a wise, practical decision and be sanctified through whatever situation that choice leads me into. You know, God really does have a method to His madness. When He says, "trust Me" it's actually for a reason. Some people (like me) just learn that very slowly. . .

So, the decision has been made. I'm going to VolState. I don't know where one year will take me and I really don't care. I'm going to go, do my best and see what happens.

I've been even more encouraged about this after talking to a friend, JP, on Thursday night. He was sharing with me some of the ministries on his college campus that he has been able to be a part of and the people he has been in contact with. It kinda dawned on me, "Ya know, it doesn't matter where I am, this is what I've been commissioned to do!" Share the Gospel and glorify God!

Freeing. Simply freeing. 

The first person I met at VolState was a lesbian. This totally freaked me out at first. Then I realized what an incredible sacrifice God has made. He gave up the glories of Heaven and loved and cherished sinners. Surely, I can give up a few of my petty ideals without murmuring. Surely, I can learn to embrace this situation. Surely, I can be strengthened to witness that girl. Surely, I will educated.

Through God, of course. And doesn't everything revolve around Him? Through Him, for Him, with Him . . .

It really isn't about me.

Freeing. Simply freeing. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

But God

Today, I was in I awe of the Gospel. May it never stop awing us.

I was reading John 6 - my favorite book of the Bible, by the way - and I read a section about Jesus witnessing. I was suddenly struck with wonder at the simplicity of the Gospel. It is so straightforward and understandable. No other religion is like that. Most religions (if not all) require some action in order to be worthy, holy or enter heaven.

But not Jesus' Gospel.

There is one thing we have to do - then everything else falls into place.

Could this be why so many people have a hard time accepting the wonderful Gospel. Could this be a factor why the Pharisees and Jews could not wrap their brains around it? Who can fathom a love this enormous that requires literally nothing on our parts? Expect believing. . .
I don't mean that all we have to do is believe in Him then forget about Him. Of course not. Once we believe our lives will be changed and we will begin to live and desire to live the Christian life. That requires hard work, but it will be a joy. 

That isn't what I'm talking about. I'm speaking of our initial salvation. It comes through grace alone! Undeserved, unexplainable favor. 

In John 6, right after Jesus had feed the 5,000 and then crossed the sea, a crowd of people questioned Jesus.

They said, "What shall we do that we may work the works of God?" Basically, they wanted to know what hoops they had to jump through to gain everlasting life. Christ's answer was mind-boggling! I got so excited. He lays it out plain and simple - no fine print!  

"This is the work of God, that you believe in Him who He sent."

Wow. You don't have to restrain from eating certain foods, live your life in sworn silence, sell yourself, or kill people in the name of Allah. You have to believe. What love is there on this earth that comes with no strings attached, no hidden motives, and no prerequisites?
The Jews and Pharisees were blinded and prideful. They didn't want to accept that they could do nothing to affect their eternal state, except believe. They didn't want to accept the beautiful charity that comes with the Gospel. 

God is loving and gracious. And all He says to us is, "Come as you are and believe."
What a love! What a friend! What a Savior! He doesn't require a thing from us because He knows better than anyone else that all we can bring to Him is filth. Putrid filth. The debts we owe we cannot pay. The debt I owe to God - for my selfish, wandering sin - I will never be able to pay in and of myself. I deserve to burn in hell.

But God.

Yes, but God.

He sent His Son to pay the debt I couldn't. And now, nothing is required of me. What I owed was paid for when Jesus, the precious, perfect Lamb of God, died. 

The Gospel is simple. Yes, there are some theological issues that get a lot of people's feathers ruffled - understandably. But, the central most important thing is Christ's death and resurrection. Because He is alive, I can live too. And all I have to do is believe. 

God forbid that we should live a day and forget to fall on our faces in awe of such indescirable mercy and grace. 
Oh, but God.

Praying at Night

When you feel God calling you, don't delay. Don't hesitate. Forget the circumstances. Forget how tired you are.  Just do it.

God rewards those who obey.

I would not normally share details about my prayer life with you all, but since a few of you are praying for me and I feel like this important, I'll share.

While I was in bed last night - after quite a long day - I felt the urge to pray. It came over me so strong. I don't know exactly how to describe that call to prayer. It was a gentle nudge on my soul that I couldn't shake and couldn't forget about. My heart was heavy and God was saying, "Come to me." In a sense, I heard Him loud and clear.

For those of you who don't know, I'm horrible at praying. I'm the most ADD when I bow my head. In a lot of ways I have used my lack of focus and diligence as an excuse not to pray. And in turn, that excuse has lead me very far away from my Daddy.

I said, "I'll pray tomorrow. I'm tired." But, as soon as I started to drift to sleep, I awoke suddenly - with that same urge to pray. Finally, lazy-me consented.

Guys, if you have been reading my blog, you know that I've felt far away from God for some time now. I've been going through a dark stage where I really have no passion, no zeal, no love and no light. Yeah, maybe a little here and there, but nothing really thrusting me into the Word, evangelism and prayer.

I got right with the Lord last night. Last night, God moved me to confess my sins and identify my idols. He lead me into sweet prayer and my heart was conditioned for worship this morning.

I'm excited again. I forgot how wonderful it is to speak to the Lord. I forgot how amazing the Gospel is. I forgot how radically life-changing God's presence can be. I'm so excited about Christmas now! This morning in church I was rejoicing at the thought of Baby Jesus and was excited about death and His coming. For the first time in a while, I'm pumped about getting in the Word and praying.

I'm SO excited.

Of course, communion and intimacy with God isn't guaranteed because of an experience. I have to cultivate this little flame that popped up and pour over it in prayer. I have to dig into the Word before I get spiritually lazy and surround myself with good people and God-glorifying things. I have to re-prioritize and surrender my idols.

But, I'm SO excited.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your prayers.

Tip: Don't ignore Him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Very likely my anger, frustration and bondage are all a result of my own shortcomings.

I'm the one who forgot to pray, didn't follow the Lord, and haven't trusted Him. Yeah, there are things on the outside of me that are rubbing me the wrong way and are overwhelming me, but I'm the one who has allowed myself to drift away from God. I'm the one who left.

These situations and problems I feel like I can't do anything about are probably even mroe overwhelming than usual because I've forgotten to confide and find help in my strong friend and father. Jesus.

I guess its all my fault then. . .

A Problem

I have to pray more. I just realized this.

I've begun to starve myself and I'm letting it happen. This is bad.


I've never considered anger as one of my character flaws. I mean, normally I do a good time handling my anger. I let things go relatively easy, but tonight. . .

I'm angry.

I have been for a long time. So, maybe anger is a character flaw? *shrug*

Sometimes, this anger wells up in me when I don't expect it. Suddenly, I'm angry and upset at people. I get mad about the same thing. But, I can't find a word for what makes me so upset. Is it injustice? No, prolly not. Selfishness. Dysfunction. Judgment. Abandonment.

All those feel like they fit. I have been let down and I'm angry. Someone put me out majorly when they made some decisions. It's changed everything about my life. Everything. Everything I used to be, has changed. Who I'm with, who I am, how I think, my emotions. They are different and I'm angry about that.

But, maybe I'm the one who is selfish if I'm getting angry about this.

I'm angry because I feel like I have to hold this all in. Everyone expects me to be okay, but I'm not. Not at all. I'm not happy, I'm not okay. I'm functioning, but that's it. I can't hold this in anymore. I feel like I have duct-tape on my mouth. I feel like I'm in bondage....

Yes. I feel like I've been trapped and I am angry about that.

I can't go on like this. Please pray for me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Favorite Thing About You

There are millions of things - big and small - that I love about You, but for the first time, I think I picked my favorite.

I have vivid memories of begging my dad to flex his muscles. I just needed a little-girl visual of how strong my daddy really was. I needed to know that he could protect me. I wanted to see that his muscles, in comparison to mine, were big and strong and would protect me. I had to feel like he was going to be able to save me if I ever I needed.

Father, I love your muscles. Your strength is what I rely on from day to day. I do not know how I would function if I didn't know that Your strength was backing me up.

For the first time I realized what I would be without You infinite power.

Nothing. Literally nothing.

Hallelujah! There is someone stronger than me. You have been there to wipe every tear off my face, whether I felt You do it or not. You were the one who strengthened me and You did not even punish me for forgetting to give You credit. You enabled me when I was incapable. You stood me up when I was slumping. You lifted my chin when I couldn't take my eyes off the floor. You showed me light when all I saw was darkness. You found me when I ran away. You held my hand when I was scared. You healed my heart when it was broken. You comforted me when I was lonely. You guided me when I strayed from the path.
You. You. You.

You give me purpose when I have no hope. 

Father, people on earth fail me. My earthly father's muscles ended up not being as strong as I thought they were. My muscles aren't as strong as I thought they could be. Not one person has strength. I don't. I'm weak, helpless and hopeless without you. An infant cannot feed or clothe or even move himself without his parent's hand. I am as an infant, helpless in the face of danger.

Without You I cannot do anything. 

Forgive me for my wanderings. I have turned to other sources to view their strength and see if they could protect me and take care of me. I have wasted precious time that I could have spent with You, with other people and things. They have grabbed my attention and played with my heart. Their muscles were impressive for a time, but I finally realized that they didn't hold a candle to the protection You offer. They couldn't compare to the sence of security I have in Your arms. In Your arms, I am not afraid. In Your arms, I know that no one can lay a hand on me. In Your arms, I'm complete, happy and free. The peace that I have in Your arms is something many people only dream about. 

Why did I ever look anywhere else? 

Hold me, Daddy. Show me Your muscles. Engulf me with Your strength today, tomorrow and forever. I never want to leave. Don't let me leave, Daddy. I need You. 

"One life, thats all I am. Right now I can barely stand. If You're everything You say You are. Won't You come close and hold my heart?" - Tenth Avenue North

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Today, I'm Thankful...

...for my computer. Really. I'm so glad that I can log onto Blogger and share with you guys. This little baby takes all my information and is a text book and resource.

...for a job. Yes, it is really a blessing to have a job. Its scares me how many people don't have one now-a-days.

...for my sister and mom. They make my world a whole lot special-er. I seriously don't know what I would do without them, even though they irritate me to death at times.

...for Carlee's swollen face and the way it made me laugh today. Also, for her good attitude when I laughed at her.

...for my bed. 'Nuff said.

...for a really good English Professor. She is so epic; I'm eternally spoiled to amazing professors now.

...for turkey even though it caaan be a little bit dry and over-rated. (I prefer ham.)

...for a body that does an EXTREMELY good job fighting off sickness. I seriously have almost gotten sick a few times, then fought it off. Way to go, White Blood Cells!

...for singing voices.

...for Christmas time! I love this holiday season.

...for the opportunity to be educated. I take the fact that I go to classes and learn and get letters from colleges so flippantly. What a serious blessing this is! I forget that...

...for challenges. Though hard, I can't imagine a life without them.

...for my friend, Iain, and his continuous ability to make my day. Don't you love it when certain people make your day by saying or doing the smallest thing? It's like God says, "Hey, she/he needs a pick-me-up!" then sends someone your way.

...for pain. It really lets you know when you are doing something wrong. Like right now, as I'm sitting in a bad position, my neck is screaming. I should probably move.

...for movement. What would it be like if you couldn't move? All you could do was sit and calmly/creepishly stare at a beige patch on the wall? *shiver*

...for music.

...for the Bible. I am really thankful that God has given me good examples to look to in the Bible. For instance, Gideon. I like him. He has no faith and is kinda a scaredy-cat at the beginning...then, he kinda toughens up. Yeah, Gideon gives me hope.

...for food in the pantry. Yes, the fact that I can eat when I'm hungry is a sure sign of blessing. Daily food essentials are lacking in so many people's lives. You know, I think its easy to think, "we are poor!" but if you can walk into your kitchen and eat something or go drive to the store, then you are richer than a lot of people in the world. Praise him.

...for sympathy. I can't imagine a world with no sympathy. What if no one felt sympathy for me? Or I didn't feel it for anyone else? Or worse, if God didn't feel it for us? The fact that we sympathize with each other spurs people to do good deeds and love. This is a good thing.

...for my family. Gosh, we are a huge and dysfunctional family, but I seriously love everyone in it. With all my heart.

..for Bill Cosby who makes me laugh a LOT!

...for generous hearts.

...for scent. Especially that found on people. ( I don't me BO.) Like, you know how you smell something and it reminds you of someone? That. It's comforting. I think it is totally awesome how God has set up our five senses.

...for the random woman in the drive through who yelled while I was on headset. I was saying "Thank you for choosing Chick-fil-A. This is Ashley. How can I -" and she said, "Shut up!" really loud. Come to find out she wasn't talking to me, but oh my word...did I laugh? Yes, very hard.

...for a God who sees, cares, and understands my every need and want; spiritually, emotionally, physically and physiologically. 

Now, for something I'm NOT thankful for. High fructose corn syrup. *grumble*

 Psalm 30:11-12 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; Thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness; That [my] soul may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to Thee forever.

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Looking Heavenward: To Every Broken Girl, Abused Daughter, and Hurt Mother. . .Forgive Me

A post by my "cuz," Miguel, drew my attention the other day; it was a heart-felt, difficult post. He is a friend, and a fellow blogger whom I respect. I am overjoyed that God is burdening the hearts of young men for Godly manhood and leadership. Hopefully God will raise him and others up to be Biblical men whose passion is Christ and His Kingdom. Check out his blog, Looking Heavenward, or click here for a direct post link.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Trials Bring the Real Me Out

The Pastor at First Baptist Hartsville gave a really great analogy of trials. He said they are sent to show us what is really on our inside. He asked, "If I had a cup of Dr. Pepper and someone bumped me to where liquid spilled out of the cup, what do you think would come out? Milk? Coke?" (my paraphrase) Then, he went on to show how trials are a lot like that. When we hit bumps in life, the "real us" comes out. It is going to show whats in our hearts. Faith? Love? Bitterness? Impatience?

I think this is a great question and I've been pondering it a lot lately. When trials come, what comes out of me? Is Christ's love the overflow of my heart or do trials turn over rocks of doubt in my spirit?

I know that everyone has heard this verse, but I believe its feels different under the light of this analogy.

James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Trials make us perfect and complete. They are going to sharpen and polish us to make us look more and more like our model and our hero, Jesus Christ. That makes me excited. Very. I want to be like Jesus and if trials are what it takes to get me there. Then, let's go.

And, it's really easy for me to say this but much harder to live it. So the real question is "Can I walk the talk?" When I face trials is all my talk about "being like Christ" going to go down the drain and the real, ugly side of myself pour forth? Or am I going to be molded a little more like Jesus?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Do All Men Leave?

I talked with my sister and my heart broke. She said, "I've really developed a dis-trust for men.They all leave." Really, almost every man in her life has left, broken her heart, not cared, been abusive, and trampled her. Mostly, they left and didn't care. When she said that, it hit a certain nerve in my heart and I shuddered.

To an extent, I have the same testimony. I can't point to a man in my family that hasn't left, abused, controlled, or really and truly cared. Why is this? Why have men lost the value of selfless love and devotion and value women and children for what they are?

The question I'm grappling with today - even though I know the truth - is "Do all men leave?"  Just being 100% real with you guys, her statement revealed a little, lurking fear that I think I've had for a very, very long time. Sometimes, I think I'm a stickler when it comes to love and sometimes build a wall with people...maybe this is fear? I don't know...

Mentally, I know that there are good, decent, God-fearing men out there. But where are they? Why aren't they in my family? If they are out there, why am I not seeing the testimonies of their love for God lived out before me?

Ya'll, I really can say that I can't see this. Sure, I know there are great men of leadership and even those of you trying to be an example online and doing a great job, but I'm talking about people I daily encounter in my life. I don't know these people. And if I do, I don't realize they are special men of devotion...and that should be seen as a problem.

I'm not talking so much about teenagers - although this is where manhood and love for God must start. I am to an extent, but I'm more talking about adults, fathers and husbands. No one loves like they have been commanded to do anymore. I'm not trying to be harsh on guys. I know God is working in some men, I just haven't been given an opportunity to see this work. This is why I'm sad and hurting for the men in our world.

Now, to the age-group this blog targets: you guys, please, please, please be the type of men that no young woman is ever going to have to question. Don't ever give a young lady reason to doubt your love, your devotion to God, your commitment or anything else. I don't know if you know this, but woman need security. When a man leaves them or hurts them (physically or emotionally) or doesn't care about them, it turns their world's upside-down.

Don't be another man that just. . .left.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What, Oh What, Should I Do?

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth, I've just been busy. Really busy.

I'm going to write a ridiculously sappy post. Because I am sad and feel like venting to my readers. Sometimes, you all are the easiest people to talk to. Heh.

I was scheduled to go to Union University for a campus visit and tour this coming Friday. Just now, I emailed them before the deadline to inform them that I wasn't coming (there are several reasons which I won't get into now...perhaps I'll save that for another post). Pathetically, I was bawling while doing so. 

The prospect of yet another year at home faces me. Honestly, the thought makes me sick. The very, very last thing I want to do is stay home. . .again. About a month ago, I wrote about how change is terrifying. Now, I write about how the fact that things may not change is even more nightmare-ish.

Guys, I'm overwhelmed. Mentally overwhelmed. Dilemmas are flying at me faster than I can think and I'm making blind decisions. I've never been one to not think things all the way through, but suddenly I've found myself in a situation where not everything can be thought 100% through before making a decision and. . . its making me quite uncomfortable.

Basically, to enlighten yall, I'm considering staying at VolState for a year. This is not something I want to do. AT ALL! But, the financial situation in my family is not really stable enough to get an averagely smart teen through 6 years of college without a boat load of debt. This is not ideal. Therefore, I may choose to go to VolState.

Sometimes, I tell myself not to worry about the financial and just do whatever I want to do, but really? How many times in life do financial situations "work themselves out?" I want to go to Union. That is where I want to be, but how? That's the question.

I cannot possibly draw a picture for you guys of how much I DON'T want to stay home. I'm already a fifth year senior; I should be in college right now. There are so many dramatic family issues that I'm too ready to rid myself of. I'm stir crazy. I'm going nuts staying here! Maybe it's because I've always had big dreams. I'm the type of gal who likes adventure, unfamiliar settings, and challenges. They don't scare me, in fact, I crave them. I think I purposely do things to put myself in these situations.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not dying to get out so I can be rebellious. That is absolutely not the case. It's just . . . just. . .a change. Is this bad that I feel this way? Is it bad that I want to find new people, new places, and new hobbies?   

Maybe this is a test of my faith. God is seeing if I really trust Him to lead me. I do trust Him, but still . . .I'm the one going through the agony of decisions. Sometimes, it would be really great if He wrote on the wall.

So, these are my basic options.
-VolState. I will probably be scholarshiped. But, same-o, boring VolState. The college that is determined to crush my high hopes and dreams.
- Union. Could flirt with debt and will have to transfer after two years anyhow.  But, will give me just a little...tiny...bit of that wonderful freedom....
- Something else. Who knows? The possibilities are endless.

Please remember me in your prayers. I really am at a loss. I couldn't possibly be more confused and upset than I am now.  


Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo Is Calling My Name

Guys, I'm distraught. I want so badly to participate in NaNoWriMo this year but I don't think it is practical for me at this time. I'm doing so much school and work...

But, I'm going to do it anyway.

"Do what?" you ask.

NaNoWriMo. It's the National Novel Writing Month for all daring writers in the world. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Trust me, its harder than it sounds. I completed it last year, but it was SO hard.

Anyhow, I'm depressed because this time last year, I had a pretty detailed outline of my novel. But this year, I don't even know where I'm going to begin. So the challenge is going to be much greater. I'm going to keep up my blogging as much as possible, but during NaNo - everything kinda comes to a hault.

Now, I retreat into the dark, cold recesses of NaNo. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chick-fil-A Monotony: A Lesson Learned While Wiping Tables

I grumble. If I don't grumble verbally, then I have a unhappy heart.

I tend to be pessimistic about life and think, "Man, why do things have to be this way" instead of "Wow, I'm lucky things are this way."

Here is an example. A lot of times I murmur about going to work. Just so you all know, I'm not a big fan of working at Chick-fil-A. In fact, I don't like it very much at all. The only reason I think I like it is because of all the incredible people that work with me. They make it worth it. But, the fast food industry is the last thing I was to be involved in. So, before I head out for work, I inwardly groan. I don't want to ring up yet another #2 with provolone cheese. I allow myself wallow in this and wish for something else. 

Great things happen when God gets your attention. Great things! I was wiping down tables - a monotonous task - and I felt the Lord speak to me. I realized something that made me instantly grateful. It was about noon and I was tired. God spoke to me right as I began to feel restless. For no apparent reason, I began thinking about soup kitchens and all the hungry people lined up for a little to eat. That thought brought me to the sky-high unemployed percentage.

It was a very humbling thought.

Suddenly, I was very happy to wipe down the tables.

You know? My whole perspective changed. I didn't have a murmuring attitude any more. In fact, I can honestly say that I was happier to serve the customers than normal. I saw my job, my life, and where God has placed me in a whole new light. It's a blessing and an opportunity to be there and work. God forbid that I should look on these incredible blessings with disdain and believe that I have been ripped off. Too often I forget that children (young ones) in third world countries are hunched over in factories and punished if they have to go to the bathroom. I forget that some people have to steal to eat. I forget that many people in the USA have been laid off and can't find work.

How can I justify a spirit of ungratefulness?

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Man, I guess I can't.

Right then, I decided to embrace the monotony of Chick-fil-A. Embrace the fact that I work for raving fans, handle money, and make sweet tea. I decided that if I can't be happy and serve the Lord with thankfulness here at Chick-fil-A, then I will not be grateful anywhere else. See, true "happiness" and gratefulness must come out of heart of faith and satisfaction in Christ and a spirit of contentment with His plans for us.

So, is the problem Chick-fil-A or my heart?

My heart. Most definitely.

Whats the solution for that? Not 100% sure about that question, but I can make an educated guess. Probably total submersion in the scriptures for a while. Reading about our Daddy can sure make us appreciate Him and His all-knowing plans. 

Resolution: Serve Chick-fil-A customers with a happy heart and a cheerful attitude. Treat the job as a blessing and an opportunity. Not some sort of punishment. 

So, whatever you do, whether you eat, drink, sleep, wipe tables, do school, help out in your church, take out the trash or wash your ALL OF IT for the glory of our God in heaven. (1Corinthians 10:31 AJV) 

SIDE NOTE: God is humorous. I wrote this post in two sittings. Right before I wrote the second half, I checked my email and received my Chick-fil-A schedule. I work 34.5 hours (I normally work about 24). He is putting me to the test. I'll let you all know how it goes. Pray for me; most likely I'll be struggling to keep up with school.

*thumbs up*

Now, be gone! And wipeth tables while thou doth wear a grin as thy visage.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Intentional Relationships: Seeing Past the Smile

Superficial relationships have been on my mind for a long time now and I have discussed the problem with three people in the last week. So, I decided that it is time for a post!!

Two friends hug each other/high five/scream/do something manly.

"Hey! How are you doing?"

"Fine! How are you?"

"Eh, I'm doing okay."

Both stare at each other, nod and then part ways. Sometimes those are the only words said to one another.

I'm so sick of this. I can't even begin to explain how annoying this is getting. People are caring less and less about the emotional, physical, and spiritual state of their friends and peers. What has happened to intentional relationships? Where are the brothers and sisters in Christ that are supposed to weep when you weep and laugh when you laugh?

There have been times when I was asked "how I was" and I said, "Uhm, not doing real great" and the asker (who is supposed to care - since they did, in fact, ask) nodded and walked away. Like normal.

Are we petrified of personal relationships? I mean, really! What's the deal? Maybe people are scared to get to know someone because they don't want to have to be the proverbial, dreaded shoulder to cry on. Perhaps a friend is scared that he or she will be asked to pray - cause everyone knows we don't do that enough. Maybe people are just so wrapped up in what they are doing and what their lives are centered around that they plain. don't. care.

 The latter is what I believe to be the problem. I know it is a mixture of things, but I know this one to be true because I have felt that way. One day, a friend of mine was crying in a public restroom. She was very upset about something going on. She came to me for advice. All my other friends were outside having fun and there I was, stuck in the bathroom giving a counseling session. Needless to say, I was not very happy. I regret my attitude to this day. If I had stopped thinking about what I was "missing out on", how much more loving could I have been? Could I have more clearly directed her? Looking back, I can ask myself this question, "Was I the type of friend I would want?" If I answer honestly, I can only say no.

I am so guilty of superficial relationships.

You know what I was shocked to find? People that I personally know are suicidal. I couldn't believe it when I heard that. How could thus-and-so think about killing themselves? I know that I cannot be the one to blame because of someone's bad decisions - I'm not suggesting that - but, more people than we thought humanly possible are emotionally screaming for someone to love, encourage and LEGIT care about what is going on with their broken hearts. When are we going to start being the type of people that care, love, encourage, and stir up others toward good works and godliness?

I talked to a friend of mine, Davis, yesterday. He is naturally a very happy-go-lucky, love everyone type of guy. His attitude always makes my day. But, after we talked, I discovered that even people like Davis have bad days (whaddaya know?!). Why did this surprise me? Why did it catch me off guard that someone so happy can, in fact, be down? I talked to him about this and what he said inspired this idea: It is possible that we mistake happiness for joy. There is a difference, ya'll. Happiness revolves around our circumstances, and joy is based on our Savior, Christ. When I look at Davis, who is smiling, happy, and serving, I might be mistaking joy for happiness. Davis might be very unhappy - because of tough, earthly situations, but he can still smile and act "okay" because of the joy he has in Christ.

Now, why didn't I think of that before? Why haven't I realized that a smile doesn't mean that someone is emotionally happy, healthy and stable? (I'm not hinting that Davis is unstable. ;p) I've always griped about the fact that people never really see past my smile, but I haven't seen past anyone else's.
That makes me sad. How many opportunities have I missed to be a witness/example/encouragement to someone because I took their smile as an "I'm fine" signal.

I know from experience that it hurts when people simply don't care about what is going on in your heart, mind and soul. I was talking less than a week ago with two friends. I told them something very personal and hard to talk about. To my shock, they both just nodded and grunted politely when I was through baring my soul. And that was it!

Sadly, a girl at my school is terribly lonely. She told me that she realizes that she has no "real" friends. Folks, how many people can say this?! At one point in my life, I could. Is it possible that she can say that because people like me haven't taken the time to care?
Friends? Caring? Is this what the assumed "special relationship" has been reduced to? I value my friends, but this...this is not friendship. I'm sorry. But, how can it be?

God is the perfect friend. Christians all over will say, "I am trying to be like Jesus!" Readers, wouldn't a practical step in sanctification be becoming a Christ-like friend? If I went to Jesus and said, "Jesus, I've had a horrible day" for some reason, I don't think He would grunt and change the subject. I think He would hug me and say, "Let's walk. Tell me all about it." And then I would lay my cares on Him and He would encourage me. Don't take my word for it; listen to what the Bible says:

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

WHOA! Did you catch that? By bearing others' burdens, we are fulfilling the law of Christ! Now, I know we simply cannot have deep, deep relationships with every single person in our lives. Obviously. I wouldn't have time for ANYTHING if I had 100+ deep relationships to attend to. But, I have to become the type of person that really cares about people. It is the law of Christ. If people are smiling, crying, stoical, or being antisocial, it is my job as a Christian to love those people and care for their hearts. .

...And so fulfill the law of Christ.

I'm not going to lie. A bunch of friends have let me down. But, I am so thankful for the friend that never leaves me. He always cares and will always cheer me on my bad days. He is the perfect example. Praise Him!

I have made a resolution to be as intentional as humanly possible when it comes to relationships. No more of these conversational rituals that no one really cares about. You know what? Maybe I will just stop asking "how are you" altogether! It's just a formality that no one will take seriously. Perhaps, I should only ask the question if I am in the setting and ready and wanting to get the real answer.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Media Standards

What are good media standards?

This is a good question that I think every teenager should start answering for themselves. Because if teens keep following their parents' standards without any real convictions for themselves, what will happen? My guess: Once the parents let their children make their own decisions, they will flail. Suddenly, they might find themselves on a slippery slope with music and media. How could they not if they never really had any of their own convictions.

A verse sticks out in my mind about this.

Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you wither her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? (Proverbs 6:25-27)

Not all media challenges have to do with lust and sex. Sometimes, it could be compromise. Like glorifying things displeasing to God: disobedience to parents, homosexuality, profanity, or anything. So, we need to be developing - from Gods Word (key) - our opinions and standards. We cannot allow questionable media into our minds and not believe it won't affect us. Like the verse says, ONLY a fool would scoop coals into his lap and think he won't be burned. 

So, this begs a question: What is right?

Each of us must learn to make these BIBLICAL decisions on our own or one day we will find ourselves out there, constantly compromising and not sure of right and wrong.

I'm not going to offer a solution or a one-sized fits all answer. Because one size simply doesn't fit all. 
We all strive for perfection, but truthfully, that is going to look different to everyone. And that is really okay. And thats not the point I'm here to argue. 

What IS important is that we seek truth, believe it, and live accordingly.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dating: Wisdom From My Readers That I Had to Make a Post

This post has been generated by inspiring comments. I have some guys that leave really rich comments sometimes. Logan, Miguel and Daniel, thanks for commenting on my stuff and leaving me with great thoughts to chew on. These comments were left on my post, "What Exactly IS Dating?!" I'm going to elaborate on a little bit of what you each of these guys said. They all have great points.

I asked what dating - in the world's terms - is. I also wanted to know if that "dating" totally obliterated the friend stage. These are some of my responses.

Daniel said, "Ashley, yes unfortunately societal dating has pretty much eliminated the friend stage so as soon as you think you might like some one, you date them, and that is why so many people date so many people, and then never speek again, because they were never friends in the first place. Pluss a lot of dating relationships are based on physical interaction, which to a certain extent is ok, but should never be what you base a relationship on. One analogy I herd says that that is the icing on the cake, and relationships now days have no cake and are just icing, and that's why they fall apart. . .the societal norm doesn't have to be the standerd, and dating isn't bad if done right, but it's with a completely different purpose, instead of seeing if you really like the person as much as you think you might, you presue the relationship mutually seeking gods will in your lives individually and as a couple, and the point, although not totally, is to find out if it's God's will for that relationship to move towards mirage. I hope that kinda answers your question."  

I think Daniel has a really valid point. I LOVE the cake analogy. So many relationships are sought merely for the physical, momentary pleasure and this will not and cannot support a relationship. It's doomed to fail. The Bible talks about sex as the sealing of a holy covenant. When people abuse that covenant and fail to hold to Christ's standard, the results are never good. Hearts are broken, and people are left more lonely than before. And wondering why they feel that way. They thought they were going to get a cake, but only got icing because they rushed something that they should have waited for. Physical satisfaction is the manifestation of a healthy relationship it can't be the healthy relationship. (I might write a legit post on this.)  

Logan said, "And most of my friends are jumping straight to romance without first building solid friendships.This is so backward! Ugh! Friendship first, romance later. That's what I believe, and I believe that's the wisest path to Biblical romance."

Amen! Yes, Logan is right. And he is vehement, which is good. A problem with dating is that people are trying to get to know each other on dates, which is a horrible idea. It's the worst place you can get to know someone because of the high levels of temptations coupled with the fact that people are always "their best" on dates. I mean, who doesn't want to impress their date? Dating today has totally bi-passed friendship and it is unwise to enter a relationship with someone whom we have not gotten to know as a friend first. 

Miguel said, "This seems to the common trait of our generation--in not just dating, but all relationships; in not just relationships, but all of life. For some reason we tend to just try to speed things up and if something doesn't work, we ditch it--or him or her in this case. But if we're not taking the time to really get to know a person before we get to asking them out, then wouldn't that make just about everything appear to "not work" in our eyes? My dad compares dating to trying on shoes. You don't know anything about the person, but if s/he doesn't fit right, then s/he apparently isn't right at all. The world's such a fickle place >.< And it is very, very confused."  

Miguel's comment made me sad because it is very, very true. The world is confused. They have simply twisted and mishandled love. For many, it is about "trying on" and "fitting right" - to use Miguel's words. People are basing relationships on romantic feelings, but those wonderful, feel good feelings won't last forever. And once the mystery of those feelings is gone and faded away, the relationship will fade too. That's why there is no real commitment anymore. My heart hurts for the girls who have complained and mourn the loss of "true love". True love exists but I believe it can't be found until we understand the purpose and design God intended for love and commitment. 

The world IS a fickle place, Miguel, and very confused. You said it perfect. 

Be bold and pray. I'm encouraged to be even more outspoken about God's intention for love and relationships. Maybe we can touch some wounded hearts while we are waiting for our Prince or Princess. Trust me, if you do relationships differently, you WILL stand out and people WILL ask you questions. They are going to wonder why you trust that God will write your love story perfectly. What better opportunity can we get to share of the hope with in us? We serve a God who holds the world and our future in his hands.

Finally, thanks to you boys. I LOVE getting rich comments. You guys offer a lot of insight and I'm really excited to see how God will use each of you to change lives. Keep seeking the answers found in Christ - and then, keep sharing them with bloggers, like me. :)    

Saturday, October 8, 2011

So Terrified of Change

If you would rather skip reading this whole post, this song can pretty much sum it. This link:

I went to a wedding today. It was beautiful. An old friend got married. It was sweet and expected and her groom is a literal peach. I love him.

But, all day I felt...I don't know how to explain it. Something just wasn't right. Not with anyone else - with me. Everyone has changed including myself, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Everywhere I looked and every person I talked to was changing. Old high school friends are in college and doing great. People are making college choices, falling in love, growing up, maturing, forgetting old friends...

It was more or less depressing. I figured out that I have a hard time with change. While I was talking to one of my best friends, the sun was shining, the breeze was perfect and we were happy. Sometimes, I just wish that moments like that could last forever. Wish that I didn't have to move on eventually. Wish that life didn't have it's complications, trials and heartaches. Wish that I didn't have to move away soon. Wish that my family situation wasn't so bad. Wish that people didn't forget about their old friends and get new ones. Wish that I could be the person I was and the person I am at the same time.

I reviewed some memories. I have a lot of them.

I remember sticking Big League chewing gum on my head with my best friend Carlee. Remember the rich moments of laughter with my 8th grade posse, Emily and Ellen. Remember Jesse Welch from 9th grade and all the times we bickered. Remember meeting my other best friend, Iain, on the soccer field when we were...what? Ten? Remember thinking Jessica and Carlee were "Mary Kate and Ashley" when I first met them. Remember camp moments with Onnolee, Candace and Courtney. Remember screaming at the Oakes from our huge hill - asking if they wanted to play. Remember sitting in the back seat of the van drawing pictures of every person in the Martin family with Iain...and Stuart actually.

Those days were simple. They were the days that seemed happy. No one was upset. No one tried to change me. I believed the best of everyone. I was innocent to what really happened in the world. I didn't have to look far for "real" friends. My family was happy-ish. School was the highlight of my week. I didn't have to navigate around feelings and emotions. Didn't have to talk about the hard things in life. Didn't have to face the painful truth. I was protected because of my innocence. Allowed to just live life in my own happy way.

Why do we have to change? Why can't those moments last forever? Why can't I avoid making decisions I don't want to make?

More importantly, why am I scared of the future?

I am. It's true. There are things that I want NOW but I have to wait to have them. But waiting might mean losing. That. Is. Terrifying. And certain decisions might mean losing. Or what if I make a decision, then it turns out that I have to back-track to fix the consequences?

At the wedding, I felt out of place. Like a sore thumb. Every one has changed, but it seems like everyone knows where they are going. Everyone but me. I did my best to be confident and seem cool and collected, but truthfully, everything on the inside of me is going 200mph. I don't know if it's hormone overdoses or what, but I hope it stops soon. It was uncomfortable and I can't really say why. Everything just felt...wrong. Or is it supposed to feel that way?

I feel a little like Peter Pan at the moment. Thank goodness no one is offering me a drink from the Fountain of Youth, because right now, I might be tempted to drink it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wild Times in the Bless All Mess Hall

 (This is my narrative essay that I wrote for English. It's about Camp Barnabas. :D )
         Staff holler, “Welcome to dinner. Please remember Quiet Doors!” A popular variation of the phrase is, “Welcome to Quiet Doors! Please remember the dinner.” They shout in vain attempt to keep the horde quiet. The deck creaks and I hear the soft ba-doom of wheelchairs rolling over deck planks. 400 people press onto the deck, waiting for the blessed words, “Dinner is ready!” Sweat trickles down my forehead, and I swipe it away with my thumb knuckle. Behind me, a camper tells his counselor a joke. In front of me, a little girl plays with her singing doll. Beside me, my own camper, Mark, clings to my arm, anxious for the anticipated feast. “Remember,” he slurs, “I predicted we would have macaroni and hot dogs.”
The moment of glory comes, the “Bless All Mess Hall” doors are propelled open. Mark pulls me forward, still holding my arm for balance. His unnatural gait jerks me down and then forward, down and forward. Feet shuffle, chairs roll, and campers bound for the doors. The Quiet Doors do their magic and the previously chaotic mob, settles down the moment it marches through them. Mark drags me inside and whispers, “Smells like macaroni.” Before I can reply, a wave of scent slaps me in the face, the over-head fan blasts and the drastic temperature change makes me shiver. The Mess Hall feels like a different dimension. Mark mutters something, but I press the tip of my finger against my sweaty, upper lip to remind him to respect the Quiet Doors.    
The waft from the kitchen penetrates and remaining silent gets harder by the second. A camper steps forward to bless the food. Everyone around me shifts in their seats. After a long day of swimming, canoes and archery, stomachs are on their hands and knees, begging to be feed. My head is bowed, but I hear stomachs complain. Finally, the awaited words are spoken, “Great job on Quiet Doors! Let’s eat!”
Steaming bowls of food are rushed to the table. Mashed potatoes, chicken, rolls and – Mark was right – macaroni are plopped onto our plates. Manners fall into the background; between passing plates, laughing, talking, and enjoying the scrumptious morsels, no one remembers to chew with their mouths closed. The macaroni tastes incredible. The roll melts in my mouth and butter drips on my chin. Crispy batter on the chicken crunches. Cold, sweet tea washes it down.
 Max sits across from me. He cannot walk or talk because he has cerebral palsy. I say, “Hey, Max, are you having fun?” Max giggles in response. Conner, his counselor, laughs at Max’s enthusiasm then lifts a water-filled straw up to the camper’s lips. Max sucks the water, but a little dribbles out on his shirt. Conner grabs a napkin and wipes up the water.
Like an African drum rhythm, a slow beat starts at one end of the room. Boom, clash, boom, clash, clash! Everyone snatches utensils and bangs them against the table. Counselors and campers join the “Jungle Rhythm” until every soul in the room is contributing. The noise is deafening, but as quickly as the noise begins, it stops. Applause explodes in the room.
The Bless All Mess Hall is the gathering place at Camp Barnabas – a summer camp for special needs children. It’s a regular camp with “normal” activities, adapted so that every child, no matter his or her disability, participates. The campers come from all over the country. Many are teased in school or neglected by their parents. Here, attention – the good kind – drenches them.
As I watch campers and counselors, like Max and Conner, I realize that this is what life is about; loving unconditionally. Counselors are having chug contests with their campers, kids are building airplanes with their napkins, and laughter is abundant. The counselors give themselves, unreservedly to their campers and the campers are forever grateful for that slice of selfless love.
Another chant is launched, “Blow the whistle! Blow, blow the whistle.” The cooks succumb to our demands and a shrill whistle pierces the thick voices. The whistle is the beloved dessert signal. Brownies are ushered to the table.
As the campers receive their tasty treats, dramatic moments of chocolate obsession take place. After Mark takes a bite, he stutters, “Ash-a-ley? You’re awesssome.” Tears spring into my eyes as another Jungle Rhythm begins. No, I’m not awesome. We’re awesome; all of us. “Yes,” I conclude to myself, “we are far more alike than different.” Thank you, Camp Barnabas.