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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Life Musings

I can't believe I haven't posted since June 13. I really want to get better at blogging consistently, and now that I'm off my social media hiatus, I want to put that much more time into it. This summer has gotten pretty busy, and many good memories have been made, which I'm so thankful for. And as usual, I've learned quite a few things, too. For this post, I want to recap some of those things I've learned and wrote down, whether through notes on my phone to Instagram captions. And then I want to know... How has your summer been, and what have you been learning about life?

Also, the other day I was going through some of my archives here on this blog, and I came across my posts about things I don't like (here and here). And since it's been so long, instead of writing about things I don't like, I'll write about things I HAVE been liking lately. All about that positivity. ;)

***On a completely random note, I just figured out how to embed my Instagram posts into my blog posts. It's like the coolest thing ever and I'm so happy I learned how to do it, so welcome to this post, brought to you by my Instagram photos. Oh, web design is so fun. :) :) Now you can read all my captions and everything and I don't even need to write... #lazygirlpost But seriously, it's been so long since I wrote on this blog, but I've been posting to my Insta a lot, so we'll let the photos (and captions!) do the talking. Oh, and don't forget to follow me. ;)

With my pooch :-) #sparkledadventures

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Canada 2k17

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It's about to go down ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿฝ

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Estherville you are a pretty little town

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Great summer day ๐Ÿ’–

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There's only one thing that matters in the end so be careful about what you pursue in this life

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Love going for ridesโœŒ๐Ÿผ

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I absolutely adore small towns

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Them gas prices tho๐Ÿ˜ (lol jk @photographychick11 told me to say that)

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The lovely Des Moines river

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Deep in thought

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Late night drives going nowhere

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With one of my faves๐Ÿ’‹

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When you photobomb your cousin's picture

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Just driving through the town again

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Gonna miss her๐Ÿ’ž

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Into the cities

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Pretty in pink๐ŸŽ€

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#dreamincolor ๐ŸŽ‰ โ€ขcolor run '17

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This book + hot chocolate = perfection๐Ÿ’•

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What I've been doing lately:

Writing. Is it possible to be writing like, four novels at once? Because that's basically what I've been doing. I have this short story I'm turning into a novel, and it's a sweet story I'm dying to write; I have a novel I'm doing that I have a topic that intrigues me and plenty of thoughts to accompany it, but I don't think it's going anywhere as of right now, so it's my "just for fun" novel. Writing is so fun, though. It's hard to believe that the last time I REALLY wrote was 2014, when I wrote my first novel. I've missed it so, so much, and I need to quit overthinking things and just write.

Eating out. I'm so good at that! And I'm really good at taking pictures of my food, too.

Driving. Not really. More like riding and observing. I did drive ONCE, which you'd know if you read my Insta captions. It was just on the long, curvy, and stinking HILLY gravel road to my house. I did terrible. Like, I don't know how people drive. There's too many things to keep track of. I was supposed to be going 25, and oh my gosh, trying to keep a car going a certain speed is WORK. I'd focus for two seconds on not driving off the road (because that's kind of important), and then I look back at my speed and I'm going 30 instead of 25. Then Mom would tell me I'm not holding the wheel straight and am driving all over the place and so I straighten it out and then I'm going 20. And then there's a hill and the speed goes crazy again. Driving is crazy. I don't like it.

Plus, this whole ordeal has been so.stressful trying to get my permit. Because the first time I did terrible on the test, and then I was so stressed about taking it again, and then I heard people saying that in driver's ed you have to write a six page essay. Oh my gosh, I can't even.

Traveling. We went to Canada again this year, which was fun, but the car rides just about killed me this year. Especially the one home. We left around four or five or sometime way too early and didn't come home until ten. Talk about the ride that never ended.

Fishing. Like one time hahaha. I don't think the fishing life is the life for me, nor the lodge life. The hotel life is more like it. ;) I mean, if these pictures give you any indication...

Yeah, I think I'll just sit here...

...and prop my phone up against the boat seat to get some pics #fortheblog.

When my fam asked me to go with them while they fished, I looked like this...well, the entire time.

When my fam asked me to go with them while they fished, I looked like this...well, the entire time.

Going to doctor's appointments for Hunter. Hunter had a bronchoscope (last one he had was in 2015; he gets them every two years); and oh, praise God for how well he's doing. This time the doctors said that they weren't worried about him at all and that, in the terms of having a lung disease, he's going to have a normal life. We've learned a lot about not worrying and trusting God and appreciating every moment because of the disease he has, and I'm so grateful for that, and I'm so grateful that he's doing good. All glory to God.

Going for car and truck rides in Eville. I love love love going with Gramps and Grams on rides around their small town. Clearly, as you saw from my pics. It's just the best.

Hanging out with the fam. Good times, good times.

Running. Haha I mean walking. GUYS I FINALLY DID THE COLOR RUN! That's been on my bucket list FOREVER. It was so much better than I thought! Grams even did it with us! All her walking paid off... Except she said she's never walking in a 5k again haha.

Reading. I got to go up to Barnes and Noble with my cousin, and I've been reading my new books!

Things I've been loving lately...

- Spotify. Spotify is just the best. All the music... Yes yes.

- Cities at early times in the mornings.


- Summer walks. The skies are beautiful, the country is beautiful.

- Small towns. I love the coziness and feel of a small town. When it's dead at night and all the lights come on. It's so pretty. Estherville especially. It's like my home away from home.

- Finding songs to go with your writing. To my fellow writers, have you ever come across a song where either the melody or the lyrics or both just go perfectly with a story of yours? I find songs all the time that do for mine. I even have playlists on Spotify for each book I write. But the other day I came across "Nothing" by The Script in one of my daily mixes, and at first I just loved the tune of it, but then when I looked at the lyrics, the story they told literally goes perfectly with one of my books. Grandma doesn't understand this, she doesn't get the lyrics... While they may not apply to me or my story, the lyrics go perfectly with somebody else and their story, and that's the beauty of writing. Telling people's stories from different perspectives.

- Subway. I've had Subway like two times in the past few weeks. It's just soooo good. And I'd like to believe it's healthy. If it's not, don't tell me. There are some things I don't need to know.

- Okoboji, Spirit Lake, and the boating life. My new dream this summer? Marry a guy who can buy me a fancy boat and move up near Okoboji and party all summer on it. Judge me all you want, but that is a pretty good dream. #thelife

- Hot guys you see walk into random places... Gotta love it when you're eating somewhere, and your cousins point out a guy that is totally your type...and then they help you maneuver a selfie where you get them in the background. ;)

- Playing Marco Polo in the pool with the cousins. That got soooo funny oh my goodness.

- Doing crafts and putting memories and inside jokes in jars you make.

- Marshall's. That store is amaze. I managed to buy two notebooks, a Kate Spade phone case, and a pretty bra for $40. A pretty bra at PINK would cost like $30 alone...

- OH MY GOODNESS. Don't even get me started on pop sockets. They are the best inventions ever. It is so easy to hold (and not drop) my phone now.

- Being surrounded by books in Barnes and Noble. It's an overwhelming and wonderful feeling. 

- The book What Light by Jay Asher. The reviewers said it was a beautiful story of love and forgiveness, and it was, indeed. I read it all in, like, five hours.

- Going through my blog archives. There's something special and oftentimes amusing going into my thoughts from the past. Like the letter I wrote to my future husband...

- Personality tests, specifically the Myers-Briggs. My cousin and I were talking about this, and we found out she's an INFJ, just like me. INFJs for the win!

- Pinterest. I find so many awesome things on there. You should definitely follow me.

- This swimsuit. All the heart eyes.

- Real posts about how blogging used to be (and in my opinion, still should be) like this and this.

I hope you're all having a great summer; I can't wait to share even more that I'm learning with you all... xx