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

Finding Yourself | My Middle School Journey

It seems like just yesterday I was entering fifth grade. Here in a week now, I'll already be done. A freshman in high school. That's actually hitting me now. Plus I ended up passing my driver's test, and I did get my permit, so you all need to stay off the sidewalks now. ;)

I have been ready to be done with middle school for quite some time, but there are things I will miss, and most of all, I'll never forget all that God has taught me over the four years. The faith He's developed in me has been priceless, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Plus, as you get older, there's more responsibilities. Duh. But I kind of like it when my mom and dad pay for everything. Those days will be over before I know it, too. . . .

But why keep what you learn to yourself, right? I endured four years of middle school, and each one brought with it different challenges and triumphs. The biggest, most important thing I learned in middle school is to find yourself. And I can't wait to pursue the things I am passionate about at the high school. I learned so much, though, each year. I started my blog in August 2014, which was the beginning of my sixth grade year. I actually did have some blogs before this one while I was in fifth grade, but I promise you all didn't miss anything worth reading. ;)

I believe I completely surrendered my life to God in summer 2013, and the fall of 2013 was the start of fifth grade. I'll go through everything I learned in each grade; it was amazing to see how God worked on different areas of me each year, and now just looking back and seeing how He's provided. . . . I can't wait to do this again in high school. So, to anyone entering middle school or currently going through or for anyone who just needs the reminders . . . I present to you the most important things I've learned about life and God during my middle school years. Consider it your middle school survival guide, although I've learned that you can apply these lessons to anything in your life, middle school or not.

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5th Grade

This year was the start of learning my most important lessons. I was still pretty worldly, but I know my mind was set on living for God, though I still battled the typical teenage girl feelings hard: wanting to fit in, not understanding why nice girls aren't popular, etc. I wanted to be popular. I wanted to be liked for who I was, I wanted attention, and I got mad watching other people get it. It was a worldly desire, but what fifth grader doesn't battle that? This year was mostly a foundation of learning what success really is and how to get it. So let's have at it: my lessons from fifth grade.

Hard work will get you far.

Ever since I was little, I never felt the need to argue with authorities; I just did what I was told; I feared ever getting in trouble, even for the littlest of things. So for me, doing my work and doing it well was never a CHOICE. I don't know why people think it is. It's not. But I learned that pretty quickly. When you put your best effort into homework, into presentations, teachers take note of that.

How I learned this: One time I compiled this big presentation over a topic I was interested in for a class, and after I presented it, my teacher I presented it to sent me a super nice email telling me how she could tell I put the effort into it and those types of things. It was really assuring to hear.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
— Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

Find your niche.

I don't ever think you're too young to find that something you love to do and to find what you do it for. Of course, for some this takes longer than others, and that's fine. I praise God that He gave me mine at a young age. I used to write consistently in a diary when I was eight or nine years old, and I have this bio page I wrote for myself in the back of it because even then I liked to pretend I was writing books, so that was like my "about the author" page. But I wrote about how I loved to write and I wanted my stories to guide people into a saving relationship with Jesus. I wrote in fifth grade, not anything I wanted to pursue, but it ended up leading me to write what was my first novel. So find your niche as soon as possible. Don't spend your days screwing around thinking it'll just come some other day. Work for your dreams NOW.

You'll meet some amazing people.

I met quite a few awesome teachers during my middle school years, and I definitely had some from fifth grade. If it weren't for them, I truly don't think I would've been where I was upon entering sixth grade. They were key people in teaching me about success and making sure I had my mind on the RIGHT success. I still email those teachers, and I don't think I'll ever forget the impact they had on my life.

Being liked for your character is the most important thing.

There were many things I wanted to be liked for in fifth grade. Looks, athleticism, smarts, talent, etc. But, thanks to the teachers as I mentioned above, I learned that stuff really doesn't matter nearly as much as being thought of well for the type of person you are and the choices you make. Your character is what people will remember most. Being liked for that, for doing the right thing, is truly what's most important.

Success is found through your character.

With that being said, my teachers taught me this most of all: success will come through that. Your character. When you work hard, when you treat people with respect, when you follow rules, when you love people like Jesus loves them . . . that's where you'll find TRUE success. I remember at the end of my fifth grade year, for one of my classes I had to write a paper over a topic we'd just finished learning about. It was like our test. I was stressed about it because for some reason or another I failed my previous one, so I really needed to boost my grade. All I prayed for was a decent grade, one that would just get me by.

So when my teacher gave it back to me, graded, I was astonished by what it said. Basically she told me that it was really good, and she told me, once again, how because of your character, you will have success. As an insecure eleven-year-old still wondering why I couldn't fit in and be popular like some of the other kids in my grade, it did wonders for my soul to read that. The most special thing wasn't even how I raised my grade but rather how she could think of me that way and encourage me that way. It was truly a lesson I wouldn't--and still won't--forget. And it set me up perfectly for sixth grade, which I'll get to.

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Getting a dog is a great idea.

Last but not least, getting a dog is a great idea!!! We got Willy April 2014, and he has been one of the biggest blessings!! Except I think Mom just wanted to kill him a little bit ago because he was trying to get in the garbage, and he refused to drink his water (he's a diva and thinks he needs new water to drink every time because it's dirty or something, who knows for sure???).

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6th Grade

As I mentioned earlier, the things I learned in fifth grade were a great foundation because I needed them. I had a lot of friends leave or move away during this grade, and I also really began devoting more and more of my time to God, and my feelings of insecurity at school seemed to double as I battled what it was I really wanted to do. I got frustrated with why certain people could be popular, and other nicer, also talented people weren't. Since I had a blog in sixth grade, you can actually read some posts I wrote about these feelings and what I'd learned. I'll link them below. Here is what I learned. . . .

Not everyone will turn out how you expected.

I remember wanting a girl I could talk deep with my faith about, and I remember thinking I found a girl like that, until a few months later, we started distancing after me feeling like it was one-sided, and then I heard about choices she was making, and I was like, ohh-kay. Not what I expected. And that's life. People will hurt you. You may not understand why, but trust God when He says He has your back because eventually you will see why some of your friendships may have not worked out like that.

Popularity is shallow and temporary.

Oh my gosh. When I think of sixth grade, I remember how badly this bugged me. Why were snotty people popular and nice people completely dissed? It irritated me to no end. I could not understand for the life of me why I couldn't be popular. I remember during the orientation for sixth grade, some of the popular girls got some sort of recognition somehow, and it hurt me bad because I didn't see why that was fair. And I remember actually crying to my mom one night about why I wasn't like that when I did some of the same sports and everything. I contemplated doing more and just for the life of me could not understand.

But I had to learn just how shallow and temporary that popularity really is. I wrote about it extensively in my posts at that time, so make sure you check those out linked below. But basically, God was able to get word to me that NO, that is not the shallow, temporary attention I want. One time I wrote down in the middle of some class, "God told me, 'Greater things await you.'" Because it's true. Greater things do await you. Wait for the real deal, the real success, not the worldly attention that fades away as quickly as it comes. Aim for something greater.

People will leave.

I had a lot of friends move away, and that bummed me out. It left me feeling lonely, and that's kind of where most of the loneliness that followed in the coming years started. But again, that's life, people will leave. Don't let that stop you from pursuing your goals and passions, though, just to fit in with somebody else.

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Know your purpose.

Know your goals. The only thing that got me through sixth grade was God and the purposes He had for me, to live for Him. Keep your mind on Him and living your life for Him, fulfilling your goals and your purpose. That's what matters.

Learn your worth and own your gifts.

I had to dig deep and find my worth in God that year because I had my feelings hurt a lot, usually around not being appreciated for my gifts. See, even back then writing was my #1 priority, but I also played basketball. And back then I wanted to be really good at basketball. Other popular people played it, and I remember constantly feeling pressure to perform, to be as good, to prove people wrong. Whoa. Prove who wrong? For what reason? I don't have anything to prove to anyone. I don't have to be good at basketball just because that's the popular thing to do. Own YOUR gifts. If writing is your gift, why are you ashamed of that? God gave it to you for a reason, so own it and stop trying to prove yourself where it doesn't matter.

Nobody has a gift like you do. Your gifts are special. Don't throw them away because you're too busy trying to be popular.

Write about what you're passionate about.

In sixth grade, I started writing on my blog about controversial, deeper thoughts I had. Thoughts such as the competitive sporty world and the fight for popularity. I'm glad I did. Those thoughts need to be said. Someone has to tell your story. And the best person to do it is you.

You'll be under credited.

Again, this is part of life. Not everyone is going to see how special your gifts are, how special YOU are. But God does. And that is why we do things. So just keep pressing, and as I learned in later years, you'll be rewarded.

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There's more to life than being successful in the world.

I know when you're young and all your peers have all this attention, it's so easy to fall into the trap and want it too. But I promise that there's greater things--much greater things--than just being successful in the eyes of the world. When you're successful in God, that is truly when doors will be opened for you. God's plans far exceed your worldly ones. Trust Him. Live for Him.

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Know that greater things await you.

That night when I was super discouraged and unable to know my worth, God directed me back to that comment my teacher wrote to me. I ended up writing her and telling her how I felt, and she once again wrote back with just the encouragement I needed. And basically she said that greater things are coming. When you work hard for God and keep your eyes on Him, there is seriously no end as to the good He has planned for you. And if you don't get it in this life, you'll get it in the next.

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Sometimes life seems scary.

Know that God is bigger than all of it. He has a good plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11).

Rejection is part of life.

Last but not least, rejection. That happened with my sports that year, and it hurt. It was one of the deepest things that hurt me, but I learned some very important things through it, and I wrote a whole post on it.

Check out all of my blog posts from me in sixth grade about what I'd learned:

2014 Basketball

An Honest Post: Me at School

Writers Observe

Rejected

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7th Grade

Oh, dear seventh grade. I kind of hated you. No, just kidding. But this was definitely the hardest year of the four. I finally got over the popularity thing, but once I dedicated everything to living for God, that brought with it opportunities to be bold for Him, which is going to have consequences. Jesus warned us of them. They were worth it, though, and what I learned was worth it. But let's just say I was glad when this grade was done for sure.

God will meet your needs.

I had a lot of things that worried me going into seventh grade, and then when I did school basketball, that stressed me out because it was more intense than I'd imagined, but one thing was clear: God did meet my needs, every time.

Your interests will change and that's okay.

In sixth grade, I couldn't have imagined not playing basketball after seventh grade. But one year of school ball and I was done. It was incredibly time consuming, stressed me out more than it relieved stress, and I was just like, no. I still do not regret that decision.

Stick up for what you believe in.

Goodness, I had so many opportunities to stick up for my faith in seventh grade, and I thank God that I took them. I also wrote about these in a post from when I was in seventh grade. But this is so important. If you just say you believe something and never defend it, what even are you doing believing that then? Stick up for the beliefs you have.

Glory is short.

I remember I actually did pretty well in basketball that year, and my name came up a lot on the statistics and such. But really, that is so short, the glory that comes like that. It means nothing in the long run because I guarantee that now nobody remembers that. That just proves the popularity that comes with those things is worthless.

You will receive the grace you need to endure what you need.

Of all the years, I definitely endured the most in seventh grade. It was exhausting, but I lived. I was still able to rejoice. God promised to give you the grace you need for what you are going through (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Don't be afraid to let go of some people. 

As you grow up, your interests will change. What you're passionate about will change. And unfortunately, this may mean you might have to let some people go as you go down the different paths of life. Sometimes it just may be time. It hurts, but if there's a good reason to where you can't connect anymore, then maybe it is time for you to let some people go. 

Life is too short to be with the wrong people. 

With that being said, you may just be with the wrong people. The Bible is clear that we need to be careful about who we're super close to so that we're not tempted into sin, so know that this may end up being the case, too.

There are seasons in life and some are drearier than others.

7th grade was a hard year. Know that not every year will be the greatest, but you keep pressing, you keep after your goals, because eventually the new season will come. The season to reap.

Be able to defend your beliefs.

If you say you believe something, make sure you know how to defend it. Nobody is going to do that for you, as I learned in seventh grade when we started studying topics I didn't agree with. It's fine to learn about other things like that, but know what you believe and be able to defend it.

Be grateful for what you have.

I've always been a pretty content person in life, but sometimes just watching how kids take things for granted just drove me insane. Appreciate your life and where you're at. It'll do wonders for your soul.

Check out all of my blog posts from me in seventh grade about what I'd learned:

A Prayer About 7th Grade

Show It

Revisiting My Honest Post Over School

How to Overcome Feeling Alone

Living Your Faith: I Will Not Chill Out

Persevering

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8th Grade

Eighth grade had me stressed upon entering it because of the previous events in seventh grade. If you read my seventh grade posts linked up above you'd understand why. I was worried about feeling lonely, and I haven't had the chance to write any posts about eighth grade yet except for my beginning of the year prayer.

Looking back, however, has been awesome. Each year truly was preparation for the next, and God's faithfulness has been extremely evident. I learned A LOT in eighth grade, so brace yourselves. . . .

Don't be afraid to try something new.

I decided to take an advanced class this year, and while I think it was a little much for me, it was still good to try, and I think it'll really give me a head start for high school next year.

God will provide for you.

I was so worried about my feelings of loneliness this year. And at times, I felt the loneliness deeply. But this year God organized some awesome connections with some awesome people into my life, and I'll never, ever forget them or the people I've gotten to know. He has provided me with some people that truly do care about every aspect of me: not just me on the surface level, but also my faith; and not only my faith, but also me and my dreams on a personal level. I needed that, and it was amazing to watch Him provide.

Grades aren't everything.

My grades stressed me out a lot this year. Preferably my math grade haha. I've never been an easy learner when it came to that class . . . but honestly. Look at the big perspective of life. Do the best you can in your classes, and just trust God with the rest. Because one day your grades won't matter either.

God can do anything.

He is faithful. That was so evident this year. The way He organized some of the connections and relationships in my life . . . I'll always have those, and I'm just so thankful because I never would've thought He would've provided the way He did. But of course He did. He's amazing like that.

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Give yourself grace.

I have a personality type that can be really prone to beating myself up. Like, I can forgive other people pretty easily, but I can hardly ever forgive myself. But that's not good. Eighth grade brought with lots of, well, hormonal changes probably. I probably cried about something at least once per week, don't even ask me what, probably something stupid that I'd already learned but then was acting like I hadn't. That kind of started in seventh grade, although I actually had legit reasons to be upset then, but this year, oh my gosh. Emotions were on a rollercoaster the entire year. And part of that led to me getting so frustrated with myself. Plus, some of my thoughts were not that good as well, and I would always beat myself up for thinking the way I did. I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't blame your choices on circumstances, including hormones, but there's a fine line because honestly, hormones can affect a lot of legit things, including your thinking, which can make it extremely difficult to think the way you know you should. So just confess your sins and be done with it. Learn to forgive yourself.

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Teenagers need authenticity from adults.

I can't express this enough. The closest relationships I've formed with adults are ones where they're real with me. They don't act like they're better than me. They don't act like they don't have the time for me. They get real with me, about life, about faith, about my dreams and desires, etc. Teenagers need this. It's crucial for their walk with God and their overall psychological well being.

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Teenagers need someone to care about them.

And I think this is even more crucial, and I'm passionate about this. I can't thank the teachers and adults in my life enough who have went out of their way to pursue me and check in with me, even if I didn't appear to need it. They didn't only check in with me when life was hard, they always kept in touch with me and made sure things were going okay. Teenagers need someone that will listen to them, that will ask them how they're really doing, that will get to know them beyond the surface level, that will ask about their dreams and desires and help them achieve them and become the person God wants us to be. You can't just expect teenagers to come to you--if you really want to care for a teen and encourage them, especially in their walk with God, to the best of your ability--YOU must be the one to reach out to them. Adults have to do their part with this. Teens need to know that you care about them and that they're not just some project to you that you want to fix. And I have had teachers that will truly reach out to me because of that--they care. And I will never forget them.

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Make the time to renew your mind.

As I mentioned earlier, emotions can be messy in middle school. Make sure you take the time to renew it, with the Word, with devotions, with going outside, with doing something you love. It's crucial.

People notice how you act.

When you act with respect and are courteous of other people, don't think people don't notice that. In sixth grade, I used to get angry because I would do the right thing, and nobody cared, but in eighth grade I just did it because I wanted to for God regardless, but then I actually got some opportunities to hear about people noticing it and how much they appreciate it. People notice bad behavior, but they also notice and appreciate good behavior.

You'll never regret doing the right thing.

Doing the right thing is always worth it. It will benefit you, and it will have a lasting impact on the people around you, whether you notice it right away or not.

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Your choices affect everything whether you like it or not.

This was something I learned a few weeks ago after just witnessing some of the behavior of my peers. I'll let my Instagram caption I wrote then say it:

The choices you make, whether you like it or not, are what define you and reveal what you live for. Actions speak louder than words. Anyone can talk good, but it’s something else entirely to make good choices. And at the end of the day, that’s what people will remember. So if you don’t like the way someone thinks of you or you don’t like the way your life is going, maybe you should think about those choices you make. You don’t have to live defined by your past, but that doesn’t mean you should waste your future. ~something I’ve learned through my middle school years
— @sparklesbyashlee Instagram

Caring about people and their stories is immensely important.

I am passionate about caring for people. I wrote a blog post draft all about this a month ago, but it still needs work, so I won't publish it yet. But really. And I've noticed a trend: a lot of people will SAY they care about you but just make no effort to truly get to know you as a person, to care about your entire story and who you really are. That should change. We shouldn't just care about people when they have problems. We shouldn't just care about people on the surface level. If you say you care about someone, then show that you do and get to know them and their story. Because you just never know who may need it.

There is no such thing as too dark of a situation for God to handle.

We had to learn about the Holocaust this year, and for one of our projects, we had to pick a book over the Holocaust and read it, then do a bunch of work over it. When my teacher told me some of titles of books she had about this topic when she first introduced the project, I heard she had one by Corrie ten Boom, and having heard about her on a Christian article I read once, I knew I wanted to read her book. I read The Hiding Place, and it exceeded my expectations. She has such an amazing story of God's power and love in a situation so horrible like that. It blew me away and really gave me a fresh perspective on my life. She is a witness for Jesus if I ever saw one, and truly she is one of my role models.

Care about people's sufferings.

This is something I've always felt passionately about, especially since my generation doesn't know how to care about anyone but themselves, but learning about the Holocaust took this to a whole new level. Yeah, we think our lives are bad. . . . Not at all. Get your mind off of your own petty problems enough to see the heavy, intense sufferings people around you are going through.

Being empathetic is a great quality to learn.

I am an extremely sensitive person. I've been that way since I was little. I'd bawl about stories I read or watched and wouldn't forget them for weeks, as if the sadness of them would traumatize me and make me want to help somehow, even if they were just fictional. I could and can cry over people I don't even know but feel heartbroken for. And for awhile I always thought something was wrong with me, as if I cared about people too much or obsessed over things like that. And then I would get mad at my sensitivity and think it is the worst quality ever.

Learning to manage your sensitivity, obviously, is a must. But to me, I don't think there's anything wrong with being sensitive. In a world full of apathetic people or people that can't get their eyes off of themselves, I actually think being sensitive to the needs of others is a gift. How can you care about people too much? How can you forgive too much? How can you love too much? You absolutely can't. God is the perfect picture of perfect caring, perfect forgiving, perfect loving. It is truly my goal to be somebody who cares, loves, forgives. In a world full of people that only love conditionally, I want to be someone who loves unconditionally. There's a quote I just adore that says that in a world full of people who couldn't care less, be someone who couldn't care more. That is something I try to live out daily.

And another says that you should love others so radically that they wonder why. Forgive the person that isn't sorry, that did it on purpose. Love the person that has given you every reason not to. Care about someone who's throwing their life away and doesn't even know it. Love the unlovable. Forgive the unforgivable. Those are some of the best qualities you could ever possess.

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There's nothing wrong with being sensitive.

With that being said, I don't think there's anything wrong with being sensitive, so long as you just manage it well and don't destroy your own emotional well being through it. Which may take time to learn. But that doesn't mean being sensitive is bad. Other people may not understand it. They may make fun of you for caring so much about somebody or something, but God needs people that are passionate about His people, especially His lost people and His hurting people. I think being sensitive to the needs of others is a wonderful thing to have.

Don't stress the future.

I love to dream and plan my future, which can be fun to do, but just remember that nothing is set in stone, things can change, but no matter what, God won't. And because of that, you have no reason to fear the future.

Let yourself dream.

Set goals. Dig deep. Find your purpose. Find your passions. Pray about it all. And watch God work.

Evil won't win.

Sometimes I would get so discouraged watching how people could be so disrespectful and rude. Just remember: evil doesn't win. As Christians, our victory is already sure. Keep doing the right thing because you will reap it.

Tell your story.

This is probably the longest blog post in the history of blog posts. But I just did a presentation today at school about the importance of telling your story. Someone needs it. You need to do it. This is my story. We all have one. And we all have the responsibility to share it.

Through the rain comes the rainbow.

And now, looking back on all the nights crying, all the nights praying, all the little seemingly insignificant at the time victories, I can just think, wow. Here I am, all by the grace of God. He had a purpose through all of the pain. He heard all of my prayers and answered each one in the best way possible in His timing. And those little victories all add up, and I just smile at His faithfulness.

This is my story. My story of surviving middle school and learning to find myself, that is. And I hope it's not over yet. But if it was all over today, I'd be content with that because of the faith God has given me. I want to share that with anyone and everyone. And now I want to know . . . what's your story?

Thank you all for reading mine.... xx

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