Sparkles by Ashlee: faith, funny, + fulfilling dreams

Welcome to Sparkles by Ashlee, a Christian lifestyle blog over faith, funny, and fulfilling dreams. I'm Ashlee Staerk, and I'm a teenager in love with Jesus and writing stories for His glory in Iowa. Grab your fave drink (I'll take a Dr. Pepper), and peruse my blog, where I document what God is teaching me, encouragement He lays on my heart, the good and the bad in life (always keeping it real), and my journey of trusting God with my dreams!

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An Amazing Story

I have just finished one of the most amazing books I've ever read under the Bible. K, maybe I finished it a few weeks ago, but I still have so much to say and yet am at a loss for words even so.

Last year, I read "Angels Walking" by Karen Kingsbury. I've always loved her books; she is my role model for writing and also being a Christian. I fell in love with the series. I preordered BRUSH OF WINGS as soon as possible.

I have been enchanted with it from beginning to end. I don't even know what to say. Let's just start from the beginning.

I've always loved her books, but sometimes I would have doubts. Like maybe they were too unrealistic, and everything worked out or that they were just too sappy. Well, now I realize how wrong I was. They are not sappy or cheesy.

They reflect the power of God. And sometimes, as humans, we get hurt by things, and as a result of that, we don't trust God or the fact that He can take any situation and turn it into something beautiful. The conference I went to awhile ago taught me that.

And that's so true. We don't trust God because we're hurt by personal circumstances. For example, you might not believe in happy marriages because you or someone you've known's has failed. For me, I would think that finding a Christian friend and having a group of them was out of the question. I felt that way because I didn't have them, and they weren't showing up. So I just ruled that out, like, whatever, I'll never find those people.

And to be honest, I still haven't found those people. But I do believe they're out there. Because now I believe that with Jesus, EVERYTHING is possible.

I want you to believe that, too.

Okay, the book. The effect is starting to wear off a little now, and I'm beginning to be able to process things. At the end of reading this book, I truly felt like I went on a journey. The book may be fictional, but it literally felt like I had witnessed God working. And maybe that was His way of reminding me how great He is, how capable He is, and how I totally need to trust Him.

And how much hope there is for you and me. So here's what I've learned.

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1) It's time to get real. I say this all of the time on here, but please, process this.

If you don't get real with people about your situation, then you don't realize how dangerous it is to pretend like everything is fine. One of the characters had a health issue and refused to tell any of her friends or family, which later led to some huge problems for her. And it doesn't even have to be something with your health.

It could just be some problems you're facing. DON'T hide them - get help. People want to help, and the right people will not judge you. You can't be prideful or living in fear about what would happen if you opened up, or you're going to end up in even bigger trouble later.

We're all broken. We all need God. We all have struggles and temptation and heartache. But if you refuse to admit this...that's being prideful. You can't survive this life alone or without the help of God. Run to Him, and I promise, in the long run, you won't regret it.

You're not alone. Everyone has pain in their life.

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2) Prayer does work, and God does know best, and wow, He really does know best. He isn't out to crush our dreams; He protects us.

We might not ever know how our prayers affect people here on Earth, but we will one day, and never underestimate the power of prayer. It does work, but just because a prayer doesn't get answered how you THOUGHT it should've been...doesn't mean that God doesn't listen or know best. He does.

Have you ever read a book where the character is going to do something really stupid, and you know they're going to get hurt, but they thought it was a good idea? Yeah, I feel like that a lot. I felt like that in this book, too. The character had her heart, mind and soul set on doing this thing, and I just wanted to scream at her, "NO NO NO YOU DUMBO, you will DIE!"

But we have to cut them some slack because we are absolutely no better. She had a dream, and she wanted to go after it. We all can relate to that. And God probably feels like that sometimes. If only they knew what He had planned... But He has told us to trust Him, and we might not understand why a certain dream can't come true right now, but believe me, He's really protecting you. Trust Him.

A bunch of people also think that He is out to crush our dreams or doesn't care about our desires, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
— Matthew 6:33 ESV
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
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
— Psalm 37:4 NIV

You just have to keep God first, and when you do this not because of your dreams but out of a hunger for Him, then you will see Him at work in your life.


Want more on fulfilling your dreams? Check out 3 Ways to Fulfill Your Dreams!


3) Angels exist, and they do work here on Earth.

In fact, they probably work more than you ever think. I've always believed in angels, and I actually believe I encountered one.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
— Psalm 91:11
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
— Hebrews 13:2 NIV
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4) I don't want you to ever give up on life. Neither does God.

We were put here for a reason - to bring glory to God and share Him and to love others like Jesus did, which is why I'm so big on being a light.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
— 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT

Don't be discouraged by your problems now; it's still a beautiful life, and our lives here are so temporary when you think about it, BUT there is work for us to do here, and I don't want you to waste your life. Be close to God, and know that greater things are coming, and He will get you through.

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5) God still works miracles.

This is another thing that we might not even realize until Heaven, but He does do miracles, and that was extremely evident in this book - and there were some the characters didn't even know about. Pray believing, and have patience. God is working, even through situations you think have no hope.

6) God is working so much in our lives.

That situation that you think is helpless is the setting for something amazing to happen. If you think God doesn't care, that's not true. He's working, and we have to have patience. I can't stress this enough just because I've seen it so much in my own life, and because of the perspective BRUSH OF WINGS is written in, you really see what it would be like from a heavenly point of view.

BRUSH OF WINGS is fiction, and none of us know exactly for sure how angels go about their missions on Earth or how everything is in heaven, but if you ask me, I'd say Karen came pretty close and did an amazing job setting up a realistic story. And through the book, though these characters doubted many times, you see the big picture. If there's anything I want you to take away from this book, let it be this: God is working.

I can't really go into the details about how God worked in the story for two reasons, 1) I don't want to spoil anything, and 2) I don't know if I can explain it. It's one of those things where you really have to read the story yourself and witness that. It may be a fictional story, but wow, it changed my life in that way.

This isn't in the book, but this is a similar example. Let's say you're about to go on a vacation, and you're really excited for it. You've been planning it forever, and you can't wait. Well, then you realize something in your house breaks that must be fixed before you leave and will most likely delay your vacation.

Like any human being, you're angry. WHY did God let this happen?! I wanted to go on the vacation! It was all coming together!

But what if something happened that week that would have put you in danger? What if somebody came to where you were and harmed you? What if while you were away one of your relatives nearby was in an emergency, and you needed to be there?

All of a sudden, that thing in the house being broken wasn't so bad.

What I'm saying is that you have to look at it from a different perspective. God protects us, and He is working in our lives, and we don't always get our way. But His ways are so much better, and one day we will see that. Don't waste your time now being mad at Him for something you'll look back on and realize He was right later.

‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.
— Isaiah 55:8 NIV
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7) God is real. I've never been more sure.

It's stories like Karen's that make me wonder how you can reject Christianity. There is evidence everywhere. It's not Mormonism, it's not Jehovah's Witnesses, it's not atheism, it's CHRISTIANITY.


See more on why I believe in God: The 5 Biggest Reasons Why I Believe in God


8) If you aren't sharing God, please start doing it.

If somebody you knew was going to die today, what would you regret? Would you have prayed with them? Shared a verse? Go do it. Now. Don't wait because it might be too late, and hey, that rhymes!


Read my advice on sharing Jesus: 5 Tips for Telling Others About Jesus


9) Please start pursuing a relationship with God today. 

I read this analogy once that talked about Christianity and a lamp. In order to use a lamp, it has to be plugged into the wall, right? Well, duh, you can't be a Christian if you haven't accepted Jesus, though the scary thing is that there are "Christians" who say they don't need forgiveness, which is really scary and not right. But you get the idea.

However, a lamp can't actually shine light if you don't turn the switch on.

So turn your lamp on.

Read your Bible. Go to church. Connect with other believers. Connect with the non believers. Pray consistently. And I can promise you, when you start doing this, you're going to have an amazing life and make a huge impact on the lives of others that you might not even realize until heaven, but that's what matters.

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10) Get your priorities straight.

Focus what you are doing on God - if you like to write, start writing books for His glory. If you sing, start singing songs about Him. He is what matters in the end, people. And the people, which is you, are what matters in the end and if you knew Jesus. Start reaching out. What do you have to lose? Whatever that is, you don't need it.

11) Don't let fear run your life. God has so much better planned for you than that. 

You have to trust Him. He doesn't want you to live in fear, and just because something looks terrifying and messed up right now, you have no idea what the outcome is. He has a plan.

12) This life is a gift. Live it to the fullest.

Please believe Him when He tells that you can trust Him. He has great things planned for you, so in the meantime, trust Him. He knows what you can handle, and He is going to make you stronger.

13) You can believe in happy endings.

And you can believe in hope and that your "impossible" to fix situation is going to one day be just that - fixed. Because God is working, and nothing is too hard for Him.

For real, if you want to be reminded of these things, buy BRUSH OF WINGS here. It will change your life. Read the first two books first, though. There is hope for you through God.

If you know this - that Jesus died for you, and you accept Him and trust God in all things...

Then one day you are going to live happily ever after, and it will never end. And nothing - I mean nothing - can break you with Him.