Morality Isn't Emphasized Enough

You know, there's definitely a trend that I keep seeing among a lot of various Christians. And the more I think about it, I don't know if I like it.

It's not that I necessarily disagree with it, but I just feel like it's almost sending another message that isn't good. And what I'm talking about is when Christians say to stop focusing on our behavior, that is, our "works," and just instead focus more on God loving us.

Okay. I'm not going to come out and disagree with that. In fact, me, being a relentless perfectionist, sometimes needs to hear that I do need to stop trying so hard and just learn to accept God's love for who I am.

However. There are a lot of people who, and I'm just going to say it bluntly, aren't able to handle a message like the one above because they aren't mature enough. Because what those people will do, is they will take that as their little "pass" to do whatever the heck they want, and then at the end of the day, be like, "hey I'm a Christian and God loves me so don't judge me." And it makes my blood BOIL. They could be doing EVERYTHING contrary to Scripture and completely not giving a dang, but yet they still pull that card and, essentially, take complete advantage of the love of God. And I'm sick of that, sorry not sorry. My patience is running thin with people's complete moral laziness—which is what it is.

And before you start yelling at me, accusing me of being self-righteous and judgmental, I will say this: I am in no way trying to undermine the love of God. Believe me, I need just as much grace as anybody. However, there is a complete difference between people who know they need grace and do their best everyday to study their Bible, to live by what they know and take it to heart, and then ask God for forgiveness in ways they fall, and then there's people who completely don't care about the Bible and just pin random Christian quotes when they feel like it and pretend they're a true Christian, and you know what, their life, their morals and values and convictions, show UTTERLY OTHERWISE. And that has to stop, it really does. And it's not like it's a HARD thing to do, to develop good behavior and good morals. It simply requires your willingness to develop those things.

This generation seems to believe that we can figure this out later, that life is all about having fun, and wisdom can come later when you're an adult. Guess what? I have talked to so many adults and teachers, and there's a common theme I hear with them: they all tell me they did stupid things when they were young, that they wish they could've done differently. BUT, they also say that had it not been for those screw ups, they also probably wouldn't be where they are.

So this little quote that everyone spouts, about throwing away all your inhibitions and just living with no regrets, is so incredibly stupid. That's when you'll live with the MOST regrets. I go to school and watch people make such stupid choices every day, because they think it's fun, they're just young and free, right?

No. You're never too young to do the right thing, to develop your convictions. That's what I've learned from chatting with those adults. It's their convictions that were missing, and then they finally find them, when they're into their thirties and beyond and have fallen flat on their face due to poor choices. And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be mean to those people. I'm sincerely thankful for their realization of that and their maturing enough to know that your bad choices can lead you to learn good. But then again, isn't it better to develop good morals NOW than live with regrets as an adult? All of our actions have life-long consequences, AND THAT IS NOT EMPHASIZED ENOUGH by Christians. We've made it all lovey-dovey: just do what you want because your works mean nothing to God anyway, and He loves you anyway.

WRONG. Even though God WILL love you no matter what, do you honestly think you're going to have a relationship with Him when you are doing absolutely nothing through your actions to live for Him? Sorry not sorry, but the quickest way to see what someone is passionate about and who they stand for is through their actions, and so if you tell me you're a Christian, but I would never know that by looking at your life, that's a problem. Because your actions DO mean a lot to God. No, they don't get you into heaven, but your action in believing in Him and repenting to Him does. And do you know what repenting means? It means that not only do you say that you're sorry for something, but you also are acknowledging that you don't want to do it anymore. So saying that you're sorry for partying last night when you're going to do it again tomorrow is ridiculous, in complete opposition to repentance. That, of course, does not mean that just because you apologize for something means you'll never do it again. Because you will; we're human, we sin. BUT IT MEANS THAT YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO IT AGAIN. It's not this carelessness, like thinking that it doesn't matter if I do it again because God will forgive me. No, it does matter.

God IS going to judge us BASED ON OUR ACTIONS ONE DAY (Romans 14:12). And your actions in this life DO determine your success. I have seen some of the wealthiest, seemingly most successful people engage in lives of sin behind the scenes and guess what, that crap doesn't fly forever. They get caught eventually. And don't even get me started on the mental turmoil that living in the wrong does to you.

Also, I'm a teenager, for goodness sake, so you think I would be advocating for no rules, no moral restrictions, and just complete freedom to do whatever the heck I want, right? No. Because I have seen too many kids my age who live like that, and I've HEARD of so many people who lived like that as kids, and guess what? It does them an INJUSTICE. Because then when their fun and games has ended, guess what follows? This thing called natural consequences. So no, I don't think you can stress this enough amongst teenagers. In fact, more than academic ability or anything, what I believe teenagers need to hear the most is the importance of developing good convictions and morals. THAT is how God uses you to go far in life. Your academic ability doesn't mean a dang thing if you're a spoiled brat who does whatever you want; no, kindness, respect, perseverance, all the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), THOSE need to be emphasized. THOSE are how you tell where someone's heart is with God (Matthew 7:16).

So does God love you unconditionally? Of course He does. But He doesn't expect you to take advantage of that. Would you like someone to do that to you, to just take advantage of your patience and do a bunch of crap because they think you'll just forgive them anyway? Seriously, it's no different with God. That's called narcissism, people. Do you know how many narcissistic Christians I see? I doubt they're even Christians, because how can you be narcissistic and a Christian? The very essence of being a Christian is to be selfless. And that doesn't mean you are that way all of the time, but again, you strive to be.

If you love Him, your heart will echo that, resulting in you WANTING to know Him, resulting in you WANTING to please Him, resulting in you WANTING to develop good morals now.

And that is what needs to be emphasized more than your athletic ability, your academic ability: is your character ability. And as a Christian, especially, I'm not going to devalue that. Society needs good character now more than ever. I, personally, am done being lazy with mine. I had my lazy character days in fifth grade when all I would do is spread drama. While I know I still have so much to tackle (worry, lust, jealousy, doubt, just to name a few of mine) I'm not throwing in the towel and saying God will love me anyway if I forget about those. He will.

But I love Him. I want to please Him. I want to show my devotion towards Him through obeying Him, by having good character. Because that's how He'll use me to do good things for His glory, what I want more than anything.

So no. Good morals is not emphasized enough, and I'd like to make it my goal to advocate for it, through my writing, but more importantly, through the way I live and respond to God's love.

Ashlee Mae

Reflecting on My Favorite Quotes {Anxiety}

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My dog and I enjoying the nice weather

The weather has finally been beautiful here in Iowa, much to my liking. I'm definitely a summer person, so if this becomes a trend where it's going to keep being cold for the vast majority of the year, I may or may not be moving to Arizona or Florida...

Before I deleted my Pinterest account, I saved quite a few quotes to my computer over various topics. Naturally, when my struggles with anxiety started intensifying over the summer, one of the things I did was go on Pinterest and look for any quotes that might be able to help me or just show me that the way I was feeling wasn't uncommon. And I did find a lot of great ones, ones that really do go along with God's command not to worry.

Without pasting the quotes on here word for word, I'll try to summarize what they were about, their message, essentially, and what I took from it. I'm very picky about the quotes I find and save that aren't directly from the Bible, because if you've never read this post before, it's where I go on Pinterest and find a bunch of common quotes that I disagree with. I might do one of those posts again if that would be of interest to anyone. ;)

I wouldn't just go along with any quote or live by any quote, as again, they're man made and don't always align with what God says. But a lot of these quotes don't go against His Word, or they're similar to things my Christian therapist told me when I had to go see one a couple times for anxiety. I have gotten a little better with managing anxiety, but trust me, I still have it. It's a comfort, though, to be able to stop and reflect on some of these quotes, to help put it in perspective. So here are some of the takeaways I've gotten from quotes dealing specifically with anxiety.

**Just a disclaimer, though: obviously I'm not a therapist in any way, nor is this post a substitute for professional advice. So I do encourage you, that if your anxiety is unbearable, PLEASE go talk to someone. I actually did have to go talk to someone for awhile, and I was worried about how awkward it would be and if it would help, but it did. I'm not saying it wasn't awkward at times, but please trust me on this, guys: asking for help doesn't always feel good, but it will help YOU in the long run. None of us can do it on our own, and you would be surprised at how many people fight these battles without telling anyone. Don't be that person who's drowning in their pain all alone—reach out to someone. Most people want to help, really.

1. It is only temporary.

One of the quotes I found most assuring and, honestly, probably what has helped me most when dealing with anxious thoughts, is to know that they are temporary. The anxious moods don't last forever. I have days where I could just have this perfect peace about something, and then I have days where I feel like I could vomit because of how worried I am. And it's very uncomfortable when dealing with those thoughts that feel like they are literally strangling you until you come up with a solution, but of course the thing with anxiety is that you can't ever come up with a good enough solution because worry just keeps coming even to practical solutions. So that's why I found that so important, to just know they'll go away.

Something about me, personally, is that whenever I get this thought of a situation that makes me anxious, I always think I have to have an internal solution for it right away. Like if this happens, what will I do? And that's where my anxiety comes from: because I don't always know what I would do, and I don't like that. But my mom has this saying, we'll cross this bridge when we get there, that used to annoy me, probably because I can't follow that advice, haha. And I also just realized that it really is pointless to play those mental games, like if this happens, what will I do. Who cares right now? There's such a thing as being planful, yes, but anxiety, of course, is beyond that. It's irrational worry. So I don't need to spend two hours torturing myself through the thoughts; sometimes it's just enough to know that, you know, these thoughts have been here before, and they'll go away again, and you'll be fine. So don't even entertain them.

It really is just the devil's attempt to shake us up. A verse that I loved and held close when I battled really anxious thoughts: James 4:7, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

This is also why, in a strange way, part of me finds looking back on all of the times I've felt anxious before comforting. I know that sounds really weird, like how could I find comfort in remembering how anxious I used to be? But it really does, and I think it's part of that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger thing. When I look back, I remember that me feeling anxious isn't anything new, and that if I conquered it before, I can do it again.

2. Take it one day at a time.

Don't try to visualize years in advance of how things might be. That's just going to make anxiety worse. Focus on making it through, one day at a time. At the time, it might seem hard, but then looking back, you can see how it's those days you feel you can't go on that define you and make you that much more stable, if you allow them to be, meaning that you turn to God with your anxious thoughts and, even if you don't feel it, make a conscious effort to keep doing the right things, not allowing anxiety to overpower you. And again, if you need help with learning to manage it, don't hesitate to reach out to somebody that specializes in that. You don't have anything to lose by doing that, but more to gain.

3. Be conscious about where you let your mind take you.

One thing that people close to me said when I was battling anxiety—and I hated it at the time—was things like how I choose to think that way. And I do think, to a point, there's some truth to it. But then again, saying that people with legit mental illness choose to think that way can be dangerous. I don't know if anyone likes to fixate on depressing thoughts or anxious thoughts. Nobody willingly chooses those. So I think instead of focusing on NOT thinking those thoughts—I read an article that made an excellent point about how by trying not to think of something, you're actually going to think about it more—try to instead focus on redirecting your thoughts. That's a lot easier to do, I found for me. Because that we can control.

I'm a massive overthinker, which is exactly why I think my specific personality is more prone to depression and anxiety. And one quote that I loved said something about not thinking so much, or else you create problems that don't even exist. And that's what I mean by the mental games. Don't even entertain them. They're NOT worth it. Anxiety, when you think about it, is worrying about things that haven't happened. So don't let your mind think up possibilities of things that haven't happened—when you feel it heading that way, the thing that has helped me most is just to pray to God to redirect my thoughts elsewhere, and then TAKE ACTION and do something else. That's why music has helped me so much. It's a distraction from thoughts that worry me and actually helps me focus more on things I want to do, like writing. (I make music playlists for each of my books, and it's cool because I have specific songs that go with my characters, theme, etc.)

4. Anxiety does not come from God.

One of the lies I actually got stuck into believing at one of my darkest points, is that God wanted me to be feeling anxious. Nevermind the fact that He says do not fear in the Bible over 365 times; that's what I thought. I thought these ideas of bad things were coming from God, like this is going to happy, so be ready, or something like that. That's actually what led me to make the decision to go see a therapist, because of course my natural response was that, well, if God is telling me these things, then I'm not going to pray, or read my Bible, or cultivate a closer relationship with Him. And so I could see this pattern of what was happening with my relationship with Him, and I knew enough intellectually that I did not want that to happen. I knew without Him, these battles would be that much more harder. I wouldn't ever want to lose my relationship with Him, so that's why I decided to go, to get help in that area.

And of course my therapist assured me that of course fearful thoughts don't come from God (2 Timothy 1:7). Remember the verse I put up above? Worry really is the devil's tool, and I learned that. I always knew it, but now I had to really apply it to my life and not believe the lies.

5. Lastly, try to put anxiety in perspective.

One thing I did that helped me was making a list of all the things I can remember worrying about in the past, and guess what? They never happened. There is a percentage people say, about how many of the things you worry about never happen, and I know it's pretty high. And even in my own life, that's evident. One time I read this article that was trying to assure teen girls about their odds of getting breast cancer and how it literally is about the same odds as trying to win the lottery. And they made this analogy, about how when you buy a lottery ticket, you don't just buy a ticket to somewhere exotic because you just know you're going to win the big bucks. And so it goes with anxiety. Most of those irrational worries, try to be real: they're probably not going to happen. So don't waste your good days preparing for them as if they are.

Again, there's a fine line between being smart about potential situations and having excessive worries about situations that don't make sense or are not likely based on facts.

These are some of the main things I've learned from the quotes I like about coping with anxiety, and I hope they can encourage you, too. I have quotes over more subjects that I will also do reflections over in the future, so stay tuned.

Thank you for tuning in today and, again, don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. And if you're NOT sure if you need it, it still can't hurt to ask. To be honest, I've battled worry even as a kid, and most of the things I heard in therapy I had already learned through my relationship with God or by prior knowledge of the subject. But you know what? It certainly didn't hurt me to hear those things again, and it was actually kind of assuring to know that I DID know a lot about what I needed to be doing.

Also, and this could apply to anything, not just anxiety, know that God cares about you and every part of your life (1 Peter 5:7). Don't try to hide things from Him out of shame. That could be sin you're fighting, or even anxiety you think shouldn't be there. Just going back to my battle with anxiety, I can't tell you how guilty I felt and how much I felt like a failure as a Christian. It's like, I'm dishing out at advice about letting go and letting God, and I can't even follow that myself. I think there's this unspoken assumption, which is that Christians don't get depressed or anxious, but that's actually very naive, to put it bluntly. It's almost the same as saying that Christians don't ever have to face problems in life, and we all know what a lie that is. Christians are still fallible human beings with the same emotions and struggles as anybody else.

When I would get really sad in eighth grade, I can remember this one point, I had been crying intensely to my mom, and afterwards while I was still upset, she told me to read my Bible. And intellectually I knew I needed to, so I grabbed my Bible, and I was kind of shocked at how I felt: which was completely empty. There was almost this sense of lostness that came over me, like WHERE would I even go in my Bible to possibly make me feel better? And I felt so guilty about that. I felt guilty battling anxiety, like I couldn't trust God. I wanted to, but there was so much guilt about it, because I had this expectation that if I really were trusting God with my life, I wouldn't be crying all the time, wouldn't be freaking out all the time.

The one thing, though, that my therapist told me, and I'll be forever grateful for, is that sometimes in life with faith, it's not a matter of "trying harder." And again, this can go with anything, such as fighting sin. Sometimes, it's not a matter of praying more, or reading the Bible more, or learning to trust God more. Are all of those things excellent and something I should strive to do that will help? Well, absolutely. But sometimes there's this idea that when you read the Bible, you'll always feel better. But sometimes you don't. Sometimes you can do all of those things, and you still don't feel better. And the reason? Essentially she told me: anxiety is a part of life. And like in my case, you can't blame chemical imbalances in my brain on not trying hard enough.

And, ultimately, we live in a fallen world. Doing all of the above I mentioned with anxiety or life in general is fantastic, really, it is, but don't beat yourself up if you still have anxiety or whatever else it may be. Because some of that is just part of being in a fallen world. It's the same with battling sin. We can't ever obtain perfection in this life, and so sitting here working our tails off trying to become perfect is insanity. It won't happen in a fallen world. So as long as we live in a fallen world, there is always going to be a sin we struggle with—we might do better at some points than others, but there will still always be areas of our life to improve. There will always be a sense of sadness and longing because this world isn't our home. And there will always be a sense of worry because living in a fallen world IS scary.

There are two extremes with this that you have to be careful for: you don't want to fall for the idea that you can fix all of these issues, because that's unrealistic and will end up hurting you more. But you also can't completely give up, either, and just let yourself fall into a pit of depression, sin, or anxiety. And how do you find that balance? You just do what you can every day to the best of your ability for God's glory. HE will give you the strength and the grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).

That's why sometimes when I see things that promise to help you conquer sin or conquer worry, I basically shake my head. I know those things are well meaning, but what if there's actually a dangerous message being sent behind those things? You absolutely should do your best to fight sin and worry, but getting this idea that you can completely get rid of it sets up this false expectation that you can become, essentially, perfect, and leaves you feeling incredibly guilty and worthless when you're done reading those books, and guess what? You still have times where you slip back into sinful patterns, and you still have times where you worry.

Do your best with God's help? Absolutely. That's the solution and what it all comes down to, that's why I saved the quotes I did. Because they all essentially say the same thing: acknowledge that we all have anxiety, and do your best to focus on the things of God and resist the devil. Anxious thoughts exist in our minds, and I don't know if we can ever completely get rid of them. But we do have a choice in if we want to indulge them or redirect our minds elsewhere, which we can do and can get better at by the grace of God. It all ends with Him, and one of the things that helped me most: He is more than willing to help you fight your battles, so don't go at it alone (1 Peter 5:7).

Ashlee Mae

Darkest Hour, Brightest Hope

Sometimes all the lights go out in your life.

There doesn't seem to be any hope.

Nothing can satisfy you.

Everything hurts.

The world seems hopeless.

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The pain, suffering, and brokenness of the world slaps you in the face, leaving you feeling stressed, desperate, and lost.

I've been there, done that. More than once. This is another old post, written in November 2016. Not only has God revealed to me the hope found in our sufferings, but He's also delivered me from pain, too. I'll go into that in another post, but today, since Good Friday is coming up, I want to share this post. Over seemingly hopeless situations.

There are two specific times I can remember feeling utterly hopeless about this world, and I really just had a longing for eternity with Jesus, which was then redirected into a deep desire to go tell others about Jesus, our only hope. I don't like the despair I feel in those times, but I've had to learn to appreciate that feeling because when I don't see any hope, the hope through Jesus alone shines so bright. Overwhelmingly bright. It's the best feeling in the world, a person lost in despair being flooded with the power of Jesus. When that happens to me, I want to tell anyone and everyone about Jesus, amazing Jesus.

Over the summer, I spent two weeks with my grandparents, and I love spending time with them. I love both of them so much, and we always have so much fun together. When I left, I had just come off a major high from the night before. Now of course I didn't actually get HIGH, I actually went to church and felt so inspired and joyful [read about that here]. I had just completed one of my hardest school years yet [read here], and I didn't want to have to deal with anything. No drama. No problems. No worries. I wanted my mind to be renewed, I wanted the two weeks to be full of fun and good talks, and I honestly just didn't want to have to worry about anything.

There's nothing wrong with wanting a break and wanting to renew your mind except for when you expect that break to complete you or when you expect something or someone to renew your mind. Whenever you expect anything or anyone except God to give you peace, make you happy, or provide for your needs, you're going to actually lose your mind and have even more unmet needs.

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Everything was going perfect for awhile. Mom and I had great talks on the way up to meet Gramps and Grams. This is random, but isn't it interesting that you can remember you have good talks but not even remember what they're about? The only conversation I can remember that we had was about insurance. How or why we were talking about that is beyond me. Oh! And we talked about eating and when eating becomes a sin, and is it sinful to eat a donut now? Yes, we got donuts. Multiple donuts were consumed over those two weeks. Was that sin? I don't know. I probably don't want to know. At least I did cross country . . .

Anyway, we are not talking about my eating habits because we're just not going there. Unless, of course, you want me to add to my list of problems. If so, yes, I need help. We came, we ate . . . end of story. Just like the previous summer I was with Gramps and Grams. So yay, those expectations were met! I guess some things never change.

But no, we are done talking about eating. Forever. Unless you have (a) reservations to go take me out to eat later or (b) tips on how to actually like healthy food (besides eating is a learned behavior as Mother always tells me because let me tell you, that never works). But yeah, we're done.

Back to whatever it is we're supposed to be talking about. Good talks. Donuts. Yes, what more could you want? Then we met Gramps and Grams, took pretty pictures, consumed more junk (but don't get me wrong, it was good) at McDonald's. We drove up and had great talks over all the things we were going to do. Sometimes I get to the point where I'm just never going to make plans because when I do they all fail. And sure enough, that happened. I learned things aren't going to be my way because life happens. And I was mad because these were my two weeks that needed to go well.

And they did. Because of the fun.

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But more because of what I learned.

The problems rained down over the weeks. Sometimes it felt like there was a new one each day. Most of them were just my same old, long term problems catching up with me, trying to steal my joy. And they did as Satan so perfectly targeted them at me to shake my faith.

First there was the realization that these two weeks were not going to play out perfectly like I wanted them to. Over the week I just saw complete godlessness everywhere and the flat out promotion of sin, which grieved my heart and made me desperate to renew my mind. I come to renew my mind and find it needed to be renewed even more.

Then there was persecution Christians are facing across the nation, and I thought of all the ways I've been persecuted, made fun of, and told to be quiet about my beliefs. Don't you just love it how atheists get to be so vocal about their disbelief in God, but Christians have to shut up? Once again, the promotion of sin, and heaven forbid a Christian ever calls anything sin.

I thought about drama at school and what I was going to do and how I was going to connect with people when nobody is serious about their relationship with God, and as I thought about that, I began fearing 8th grade and returning to school. Then there was all of those police shootings across the nation. I remember watching that live on the news at night, and the next day everyone went crazy on social media.

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I witnessed firsthand people in pain. So much pain.

I heard local news stories, stories once again filled with pain and darkness and the ugly consequences of sin, and that made me feel worse to know the pain other people are experiencing, and there's nothing I could do about it. I also saw how people try to cover up their pain, and I tried to cover up my pain. I thought shopping would help me to have a positive attitude. I thought hanging out with my cousins would cause me to forget my worries and pain. I thought talking with Grandma would renew my mind. And it all did.

Temporarily.

But when the fun wore off, when I turned in each night, the pain was still there. Maybe even more so. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: not addressing your pain is the worst thing you can do. Covering it up, pretending it isn't there, playing the role of somebody happy without problems when your life is really falling apart, is a foolish route to take because in no way does the pain dissipate. Pain has to be addressed, and it has to be addressed correctly.

The breaking point came when I was looking at Facebook. I was looking at some local news and just news in general with the state of our world. There was this one comment that really upset me because it was talking about this person before they made a bad choice, and I just thought about how life never goes how you plan. I'm sure the person who wrote that complimentary comment never fathomed that later bad choices would be made, destroying everything. And I thought about my own life, the plans I'd dreamed that had failed, my family, my country, sin, the persecution I was facing, school, the horrible situations unraveling in our country, disease, all the pain numerous others besides myself was carrying, my desires to reach out to people that I couldn't, local sad situations, and more finally all fell on my shoulders. And I just walked into the room Grandma and I slept in, giving up the fight, tired of holding in the pain. All of it fell down on my shoulders, and I collapsed onto the bed and began to cry.

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Every light was turned off. I began to realize nothing was going to take away this pain--hours spent in Okoboji would eventually fade and bring me right back to where I was when I left, talking to somebody wouldn't help because they didn't have any answers or solutions to my fears, sadness, and unmet needs, the things I bought made me happy until I realized like they could do anything meaningful, and these fun times could not erase the pain that would always be waiting for me when it was all said and done.

Pain needs to be addressed. I learned that.

Pain needs to be addressed properly. I learned that the hard way.

As I was laying there in my pool of tears, I told God, "Am I depressed?" That was honestly my biggest fear. Nothing would make me feel better, and so I was worried I was never going to see the light of day again. It took me looking for my happiness everywhere but God before I finally broke down to Him. So I suppose when I asked Him that, He could have been like, "Well, you've just looked for your happiness in every single thing except Me even though I've only told you a million times to find your joy in Me, and now you wonder why you are sad?"

So praise Him that God is love and doesn't say that, though He really could. He gives mercy and grace, and He showed me where my hope needs to be.

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Grandma came in. I vented all of my problems to her after I vented them to God, and she prayed with me. She did exactly what you should do when you want to encourage someone in a godly way: she listened, she showed compassion to how I was feeling, she prayed with me, and she told me Bible verses. She has a desk right by the bed, and on that bed she has many Bible verses taped to it and displayed.

That's how I found this amazing Bible verse.

As I regrouped, I scanned the verses, and one immediately caught my eye. It was printed on a small blue sheet of paper with a flower in the corner. It was from a calendar that displayed a new Bible verse each day. Grandma had torn it out and tacked it on display. And it spoke volumes to my soul, God's reminder to me amidst all of my pain.

The verse came from 1 Peter, which, ironically, was the Bible book I'd been studying at that time. It was 1 Peter 5:10, NCV.

And after you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling.
— 1 Peter 5:10 NCV
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After you suffer: God uses sufferings for our good, to strengthen our faith (Romans 5:3, 4). Like I mentioned earlier, there is something that happens when you lose everything: you either cling to Jesus as the bread of life (John 6:35), or you look for other worldly ways to dull the pain. Whenever you have to suffer, you want hope. We all want hope--we all need it. And that is what suffering does. It has a way of revealing where your priorities really are and a way of helping you to adjust your priorities. My priorities were in God, I do believe that. But I think I was getting confident and placing too much hope in things of this world: MY dreams, MY plans, and when they all failed and the pain came rushing in, I was reminded of where my trust really needs to be. And the beautiful thing about that moment was surrendering all to God, trusting Him and Him only, not having any other desires in my heart except knowing Him and making Him known. A hope that cannot be shaken.

Who gives all grace: God will give you the grace to get through whatever He allows in your life. He works everything for the good (Romans 8:28). God gave me grace that day. He listened to my pain and cared about it (1 Peter 5:7). He did not condemn me; He reminded me of His goodness and His plan. All of the pain I was feeling, He would work for the good. I didn't know how or when, but He did know, and He wanted me to trust Him.

Will make everything right: In time, everything is going to be right. There will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4). We will be united with Jesus (Romans 6:5).

He will make us strong. He will support us. We will not fall again.

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When the lights go out, the light of Jesus shines brightest (John 8:12). He has overcome the darkest night (1 John 2:8).

Hang in there. Your sufferings are all going to be worked out for your good. God is going to make everything right one day, and in the meantime, He will give you the grace to endure what you need to.

That was a dark night for me, but I experienced peace, the peace of God, because He has overcome (John 16:33).

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The story of what happened to Jesus, His death. The darkest story in the entire world. How upset and disappointed the disciples must have felt that day.

But also, in the end, the brightest. And they had no idea until afterwards.

God's Got This

Hey, everyone! This is another old post I wrote that got lost in my drafts and never published, so I thought I'd share it today! I wrote this on June 6, 2016, right before we were leaving for our trip to Canada! I can't write as much content on this blog right now as I normally could because I'm hard at work on a new project to be announced SOON! I still pray for you all, though, and I hope that this post over what God has taught me about trusting Him can help you, too! xo Ashlee


We all have that something in our lives that causes anxiety. Maybe it's a long term thing, or maybe it's just something temporary that is stressing you out. Whatever it is, I want you to know that God has it in His hands. He really does.

I have a lot of fear in me. We all do, but I think it's safe to say that some people are better at trusting God than others. We all go through struggles where we question Him, though. Still, I want to be somebody that doesn't fear because I totally trust in the Lord. Most of us think it's easier said than done, but it's really not that hard because you can totally let go and let God. The hard part is resisting the urge to worry.


You can totally let go and let God.

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I'll give you an example of a worry that is short term and one that is long term. A short term worry would be preparing for a trip, which we are doing. I'm not even the one dealing with most of it, but I still have to get prepared, too. It's easy to have doubts about it, too, because there's never a guarantee that a vacation will go the way you want it to.

A long term worry could be something like someone dying. You're so afraid of losing someone, and it constantly steals your peace. I've learned a lot about keeping your peace over the last few months, and I'm still learning. But God has been so faithful and patient with me, and He's showed me a lot. I pray that He would for you, too.

Understanding Where Worry Comes From

There is one thing that causes you to worry and one thing only: Satan. That doesn't mean you can just blame your worrying on him. You have to fend him off with God. But worry does come from Satan.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
— John 10:10 ESV

My mom and I have talked about how Satan will attack you at your worst areas, too. He knows when you're at your worst and most likely to believe his lies. He knows when you're tired or stressed about something. He knows your weak areas and is going to hit you there. For example, I used to have this huge fear of losing my parents. I think I've mentioned that before, and every time they left the house I feared for their lives. I definitely don't worry as much about that, but it is still one of my weak areas, and Satan knows when to taunt me with it.

You all know I've had a challenging year, especially with friends, and one thing that Satan would lie to me with is that since I don't have any godly friends, God is going to take away my parents, too. Along the same lines of losing my parents, he would try and tell me that God was going to take them away to test my faith. Yes, God uses things to strengthen us, but He is a good Father, and His desire isn't to take away everything you love just because.

***UPDATE: Sometimes, God does let you lose everything, but there is always a sovereign purpose for it, and if you know Him, He's always working things for your good (Romans 8:28). He doesn't set out to give you everything you hate.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
— Matthew 7:11 NIV

How Do You Conquer Worry?

Focus on God

READ YOUR BIBLE. It is a simple yet powerful thing that totally transforms the way you think and live. Without it, then what? Where are you getting your inspiration? How are you growing as a Christian? You're not. And it will be that much easier for Satan to attack you, so put on the armor and submit to God.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
— Ephesians 6:10-17 NIV

Pray Consistently

The amazing thing about God is that He understands your fears and is very patient with you. You can run to Him in prayer with your fears. Get real with Him - He can handle it. Ask Him for guidance and the faith to conquer your fears. Pray this for other people, too. Prayer is a vital weapon against Satan and the lies he tells us. I saw a quote one time that said Satan will try to keep you from praying because he knows that your praying will keep him limited.

Have you ever not prayed about something because it seemed like none of your prayers were being answered? I've done that. I think, well, it's not like this prayer is being answered, so I'm just going to quit praying about it. This is easily one of Satan's biggest lies, though, and I don't want you to fall for it. He only says that because it is true, prayer makes all the difference. You have to be patient sometimes, but God is working behind the scenes.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
— Ephesians 6:18 NIV

God is always working behind the scenes, and we may not even realize that what He is doing is so much greater than what we could imagine.

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Meditate (On Verses)

The meditation where you close your eyes and say the little "OMMM" thing is not going to do you a stinking thing, and neither is any of the other meditation you've probably read about on cheesy sites and blogs that promise earthly happiness. But if you meditate on verses, that will help you so much because God is the only one who can satisfy your needs (Psalm 107:9).

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:7 NIV

Worry Is a Sin

Worry is a sin because you're doubting God's plan for you. You're doubting that He understands what you're going through, doubting that He could help you, and doubting that He would help you. All believers struggle with worry, but you have to give it to God. God definitely understands what you are going through, even if it's something petty. He made you, after all. And He cares.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
— 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

God can help you, and He will. People think that just because God doesn't help you the way you envisioned means that He didn't, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. He is the Creator of the Universe. He knows what's best. I say this a lot because, myself included, we get all high and mighty and think we've got it all figured out when we're just looking at a piece of the puzzle, and God sees the whole thing. We must look like total idiots when we do that, and we make God the enemy. Don't do that. He knows best.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
— Romans 8:28 NIV
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
— Psalm 16:10-11 ESV
‘I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
— Job 42:2 ESV

Be Understanding

As I mentioned above, God is understanding of your fears and wants you to cast your anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7). You need to do this for other people as well. Sometimes we see somebody with a certain fear and roll our eyes, like good grief, what a ridiculous fear. But do you want God to feel that way with you? Just because that person's fear isn't yours doesn't make it any less real for them. There's nothing worse than being truly afraid of something, and all somebody tells you is to get over it.

I also understand that we DO need to face our fears. We do need to get over them, but God is patient (Psalm 86:15) and helps you get over yours, so you need to be patient with others, too. Pray for them to get over their fear, and instead of complaining about how stupid it is, ask them how you can help.

Besides, no one wants to have fear consume their life. Everyone wants happiness. And we can get that true happiness found in Jesus alone, the One who has commanded us again and again to fear not. Don't be that person that gets chained by your fear. Allow God to free you from it.

How to Be Happy {The Basics}

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This is a short post I wrote back on May 5, 2016, that I never published. It talks about how to find true, lasting happiness. With all that goes on in my own life, I need this - the TRUE way to get LASTING happiness. Believe me when I say these are just the basics. Since then, I've had my faith seriously tested over and over again, an insane amount of mood swings, and yeah. It's great. The perks of being a hormonal teenage girl. I'm kind of kidding.

But praise be to God that is He is sovereign over any trial, mood swing, and yes, hormones!

I will eventually write a longer post over this topic, but I have also written more extensive posts over the topic of happiness and joy, such as Is Life Beautiful? (my newest post over the topic; talks about having a joy despite circumstances), The Power of Jesus (written in June 2016 over what truly gives me energy and peace), and It's a Beautiful Life (my oldest post from summer 2015; this is when I would just write and never cite Scripture, but I still agree with what it says).

I will also write a post with what is new in my life because believe it or not I've actually made a pretty big decision that will affect how much I write on this blog.

Oh! And if you haven't seen my new and FIRST vlog, you totally need to go do that :)

Without further ado, here's how you find true happiness...


Happiness is something we all want. In today’s society, there are so many things that scream at us, saying that if only we do X, Y, or Z, we will be happy. And so many of us believe those lies. They’re all over in the blogging world. The common theme these days is that if you follow your dreams and have a profitable business, you will be happy, and the list continues with just about everything except what happiness really is.

Or, worse yet, a common message we hear is that we create our own happiness, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. We live in a fallen world, and no “good vibes” or dreams that you fulfill can make you truly happy. They might offer some temporary satisfaction, but that is fleeting.

So what is happiness?

The only way you can find happiness is by accepting Jesus Christ. Nobody wants to admit that anymore. They’re worried they’ll offend people - even Christians do this! - and so they come up with some pathetic, cheesy, temporary ways you can create happiness. What they don’t realize is that they’re setting people up for failure - as you are doing whenever you don’t tell someone the truth out of love. I’m trusting you can have discernment on that. If somebody got a shirt you hate? Don’t tell them that. If somebody is living in a certain sin? Tell them that.

This world is a hard place, and Jesus is our only hope. Those dreams you have are going to die with you, and if you don’t accept him...then what? It’s pointless to fulfill your dreams. Pointless to think about good vibes. But those with Jesus have something to live for. It might not always be easy, but God promises to never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6). To those who accept Him and keep Him first, He promises a good plan (Jeremiah 29:11).

I have three tips to help you find your REAL happiness versus the fake kind everyone throws at you.

Meditate...on verses. NOT good vibes or whatever meditation people say to do. Chances are they’re not talking about Bible verses, but that’s what you SHOULD do. For example, I cannot stand bumblebees. I’m sorry, but they just scare me. I live out in the country and go out to run a lot, so unfortunately, avoiding bees is practically not possible. Sometimes they’ll buzz around me, and for awhile I would sprint off. After lots of prayer and reading verses, I feel better. I’m still not a fan of bees, and I may never be. Whenever I hear one, I still get tense and apprehensive. But I learn to trust God.

Here are some verses that helped me with my fear:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. - Psalm 23:4 (Or in my case, a valley of bees!)

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. - 2 Timothy 1:7 (Yes, Ashlee, self discipline. DO NOT SPRINT AWAY!)

And this is the verse I remember about my dreams and life in general:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. - Matthew 6:33

Read the Bible...not e-courses. I don’t have a problem with e-courses. I think they’re awesome. But I notice that is the new big trend, and everyone is trying to solve a problem with them and their blogs in general. The only problem they fail to even address is people rejecting Jesus!! God’s Word is the only thing that will fix your problems. Period.

Recognize your need for God, and cling to Him. Day after day, choose to follow God and His Word. Trials are going to come at us everywhere, and you’re going to dig yourself a deeper hole without God’s Word in your life. You can’t create your own happiness. It is only by your relationship with God that you can experience the true peace and joy He gives us.

Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Be close to Him. He loves you so much, and with Him, you can get through this world.

<3 Ashlee