Summer Fashion & Modesty

Okay, I have loved fashion and wearing pretty things for as long as I can remember. It's obvious that my sense of style has definitely evolved as I've gotten older—despite the pink and sparkles, which is never going to change I promise. When I'm picking out new clothing, I try to focus on these three things mainly: how pretty it is (duh, you know I care about my aesthetics), how comfortable it is (I try not to sacrifice this no matter how pretty something is, but of course there are exceptions because I, like, really care about how pretty some things are), and then the last would be how it looks on me and if it remains true to my values. Since style is an expression of who you are, I try to make sure mine is consistent with the person I am, and that includes making sure I'm not conveying anything that goes against my beliefs.

There is, of course, numerous debates in the Christian world over what is modest or not on girls. I have even found myself asking questions like how much is too much, questions like whether I should buy a bikini or stick with a one-piece. I definitely think it's wise to consider modesty when making clothing decisions, because the Bible says our bodies are meant to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), so we definitely should consider what messages we're putting out there when we dress. Unfortunately, I really haven't found Christian blogs to be that helpful when it comes to advice on modesty. I'd love it if they could just give me clear yes or no answers on whether it's okay to wear a bikini or not, but of course, you get this big long post that tells you just about everything but, instead leaving the decision up to you at your judgment. Which is fine. I understand that with a lot of these, there is no clear definition on what is too much, which makes it that much harder.

Personally, I think there are two extremes when it comes to modesty and fashion, and I don't agree with either one of them because I think both are degrading to women. So the first extreme is that women can't wear ANYTHING that is the slightest bit revealing or form flattering. I think that's degrading because there comes a fine line where it's like, that's how we're made, and trying to conceal that to the extreme is acting like we should be embarrassed or ashamed of how we're made. Yet then you get the other extreme, where women can dress anyway they want and just, you know, leave it ALL out there practically, and I think that's degrading too, because it's like have enough dignity for yourself to not just put it all out there for attention. So like most things, I think it's about finding a balance that works for you and your relationship with God. Like most things—and I know this is another cliche but just hear me out because it's true—it really does come down to your motives and attitudes for wanting to wear something. More often than not I see a lot of girls taking the second extreme where they are so flippant about what they wear, not caring at all about honoring God or themselves in their fashion choices, and they just throw out excuses like how He doesn't really care or it's not that important. Well, maybe these little choices aren't as important as some, but I can assure you that God still cares because the little choices you make on a daily basis are what end up defining you as a person whether you like it or not. I've been very disappointed with a lot of supposed Christians who repeatedly wear very revealing outfits even though they claim modesty is important, and I don't take their advice for anything in the faith as a result, because seriously, talk about hypocritical. If you're gonna talk the talk, you have to walk the walk, period. So that's something I try to be conscious of always, is making sure that I live up to what I believe.

Anyway, here are some of my summer outfits that I've put together. I figured I would post these so I have an excuse for making Grams take all of these pictures of me besides me being conceited. ;)

Well, first, I should show you what I used to wear—four years ago, so like when I was eleven and started this blog, I was obsessed with the store Justice haha, and so I had all the sets of tops and shorts to match... Oh, those were good days. I do miss some of their fashion pieces honestly because as I said earlier, PINK AND SPARKLES. You really don't find too much of that in the women's clothing, but don't worry, I'm going to scour everything to find out because you know the saying... If there's anything pink or sparkly, of course I want it. :) My dog was only a baby in this photo, too... Like where does the time go.

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I loved these sparkly shorts... I have yet to find another pair like them.

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Then I also started wearing a lot of sporty outfits because that was the big trend, but now I read fashion blogs so... Haha. They give me a lot of ideas, but above all I try to buy outfits that reflect my own style and not somebody else's because that's the fun in it, and you don't need to worry about being just like somebody else because you have your own personality.

Also, can we just take a moment with this photo... This was me in SIXTH GRADE, the night before it started. Also the first month of me writing this blog (read my first post here!).

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This is me on the first day of sixth grade. This was actually one of my fave outfits; I would still wear it if I could. For summer, my style largely consists of blouses or tees with jean shorts and sandals. I'm not big on accessorizing, but I have my ears pierced and so really I should be wearing different earrings because I have a bunch, but you know, maybe one day I'll get around to doing that...

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summer 2k17

So during this whole week I was with my grandparents last month (read all about it here!), I made Grams take a picture of me everyday because I brought my whole summer closet basically, so I had a new outfit to wear everyday. Some are more basic than others, but for simple days going to town those work fine. If I'm going to a dressier occasion, I definitely wear sandals instead of flip flops, and I also have a pair of dress pants that I'd pair with a summer, dressy top. Or I also have this dress I have yet to wear because I can't find an occasion that warrants it, but I could also wear that with sandals, too.

This outfit is one of the more basic ones with the simple black flip flops (they have glitter on the straps though!!!). I just wanted a basic pair to match outfits like these, and I think I got these ones on DSW for a really good price.

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I also have quite a few sheer tops in my wardrobe. I don't necessarily mean to buy them that way, but some are definitely more sheer than others, and usually the white ones are a lot like that. I can't remember where I read this, but if you're looking to get away with wearing a sheer top without anything underneath such as a cami (because I hate layering, especially in the summer), wear a nude bra. Seriously, it works; you can't see anything. I tried wearing white ones thinking that if it matches the color it would work, but really, wearing a nude one is the way to go. Also, with bralettes being a huge trend right now, you could also wear one of those underneath a more sheer top. I think this is also one of those situations where using your best judgment on modesty comes into play, too, because some sheer tops can easily not be modest—in fact I've seen girls wear completely sheer tops that are made just for the purpose of showing off a bralette, meaning you can easily see what they're wearing underneath. And I don't think that's very modest, but I think if you get a top that's more concealing with some sheerness and then want to wear a bralette, I think that's fine. I have a new bralette I have yet to really break in, but I think I do have a picture where you can kinda see the straps of it that I'll show later.

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Here I'm wearing a more casual outfit with my favorite pair of flip flops that are on the fancier side, they're Michael Kors! Haha. Unfortunately they're about shot, though, because I wore them so much.

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This is one of the more dressier tops below, along with the sandals. In fact I think I wore this exact outfit to a special event and just swapped the jean shorts for a pair of dress pants.

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So this top was kind of a struggle for me in the outfit below because I think I got it from my cousin when she asked if I wanted it, but it's just a little too big on me, but I liked it so much I took it anyway and thought, oh, I'll just make it work! Anyway, it does work well for the most part, but since it is a little big on me and I'm moderately tall, it's one of those awkward situations where if I pull it up, it's like a crop top on me, which I don't like, but if I pull it down too far, it shows too much in the chest area. So if my body looks like it's at an awkward angle in this photo that's probably why... But I was so happy I found a top to match these pink flip flops I'd had for awhile AND my purse!

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This is that same outfit except with my leather jacket over it. It adds to any casual summer look, if it's not 90 degrees out haha like when this was taken.

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Sometimes I'll also wear crops or capris. I like my pants to fit tight; I don't know why, but I've just always preferred that. I think that as long as your clothing covers what it needs to, I wouldn't be as critical about how tight or form fitting something is. I know some people have a fit over leggings and whether those are modest or not. Personally, I wear them everyday in the wintertime basically, and I'm okay with doing that because I usually wear chunky sweaters over them, so it's more a means of comfort than hey, look at my legs! Again, I think it really comes down to your attitudes on why you're wearing something and using your best judgment on something. I don't think there's any excuse for wearing clothing that is super revealing because MOST of the time those things aren't unintentional where it just kinda happens. Like if you happen to wear a larger v-neck shirt, that may be unintentional, but then are some tops that are low cut on purpose, for the point of showing off and revealing more. That's what I don't think is okay. And trust me when I say that you can tell the difference between people who are unintentionally wearing a top like that or people who are deliberately doing it. I remember seeing this one girl who wore what I thought was a really revealing top, but I decided to let it pass because I thought maybe it was just one of those tops where she couldn't really make it cover more. But after seeing twenty more pictures of her in various different tops that were all like that and some you know were designed for it, that's how I knew she dressed like that on purpose, and I thought that was upsetting because she was a Christian and even MARRIED, so it was like what are you trying to prove?

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Below is the photo with the bralette I mentioned earlier, where you can sorta see the straps. I think it adds a nice pop of color to an otherwise rather dull look.

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That's all I currently have on summer fashion, but if you enjoyed posts like this with fashion, just let me know and I could always do more! I'm by no means a fashion blogger, but I do like to buy what they tell me to. ;) I try not to break the bank either; I've gotten pretty good at finding designer items on sale if I do say so myself. Now if I can just find this dream Michael Kors crossbody I want on sale...

Also, hopefully my views on modesty make sense. If you're confused about what I mean by some of my views, just let me know, and I'll try to clarify. I also want to say that I'm NOT trying to act overly judgmental or nit-picky about these types of things. At least, that isn't my intent to make you feel that way. I don't want to be one of those Christians who makes up rules or goes by man-made religion along those lines, but I don't think modesty is about following a set of guidelines, I think it's about making pure choices that will best honor God and yourself. After seeing so many "Christians" completely not care, I just had to shake my head because it sets a terrible example. Knowing Jesus is about having a relationship with Him, but everyone knows that relationships are a two way thing, so to just not care about the little choices you make because you think He won't care is, first off ignorant, but it's also taking advantage of grace. And it's ignorant because God DOES care, but does that mean you're going to hell if you wear a top more on the lower cut side? Um, no, but again, use good judgment. If a top is way too low and you can pick a better one, then why don't you? Being modest is also about knowing your own worth in Christ, too, though: when you dress modestly, you're showing respect for yourself because let's face it, immodest clothes are designed for attention, but that cheap attention is not the meaningful kind you want—you want to be valued as a whole person and not just for your body, so I think we should dress like that. But hopefully this post can also show you that dressing modestly isn't some boring chore; you can still dress trendy, cute, and stylish while being modest at the same time.

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What I Learned from My Reading Diet

I finished reading ten books over the span of a week. I had three nonfiction books I had been needing to read, and my OCD forced me to read them before I got busy on the seven books I bought—which was good, because I'd had them for awhile. I decided to spend as many days as it took just reading all of these. Not just for fun, though. This time, I was reading to learn.

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See, this is what happens when your writing goes stale. I have this writer's block chart on my Pinterest that has been a cool resource: whenever you feel stuck writing, it asks you simple questions over what you're stuck with, such as characters, style, etc. And then it gives you simple prompts and exercises to help get things flowing again. My problem was with my craft. It seemed like every sentence I wrote was crap. So for that it recommended writing only to please yourself and not a bunch of people at once—not bad advice at all for an overthinker and perfectionist like me. But that still didn't get me unstuck because my overthinking and perfectionism still took over. So then it recommended going on a "reading diet" because it will help improve your style, or it said to simply just get air and have time away from your story. So I did both, long story short.

As a writer, there's two types of reading: reading for fun and reading to learn. I wanted to do both, but especially reading to learn, that is, to help me improve my own writing. What I was surprised about, though, is how much I would learn not just for that but also about our culture and the things we believe, the messages that are portrayed in these books and what I've learned from reading them.

The nonfiction books were very good, over Christian themes that I could really take to heart. One of them was even over patience. And while it didn't change my life in the sense that waiting suddenly got easier—ha, when is that ever supposed to happen—it was still a good reminder for me. I'm learning, people, slowly, yes, but I'm getting there. Maybe one of these days I will even blog about what I've learned about waiting. Because if I can, then, yeah, there's hope for anyone.

From that point on, the rest of the books I had to read were all fiction, young adult, which is a genre that is written specifically for the teen audience. Besides Christian fiction, young adult is easily my favorite genre because, well, obviously. I'm right in the age group, so it's the most relatable—except when it's not. Sometimes it's not, when they do the little fairytale storyline crap that I hate. But sometimes it is. You have to find the right books. And oh my gosh, that is HARD. Finding the right books. I think I've just gotten so picky, but there's no variety in it, it seems. And then on those rare occasions when I find a book that I seriously love, I can never find any stories that are similar in what I like about it. Ugh. I guess finding what I DON'T like is helping me narrow it down... Slowly...

But anyway, enough on this. Like I said, I realized a lot of things while reading these books. And the books that I'm going to be talking about are the fictional young adult ones. I bought a whole series that I'd read the first three books of and had enjoyed those—clear back when I was in seventh grade, I believe, and the reason I know this is because I had pictured the hot guy as a hockey player I was obsessed with then—as well as a companion book to that series that I'd also already read, and then I bought two books that completed another series by a young adult author I really like. I liked the majority of the books I got, except for the two books at the end of that five book series. They were told from a different character's perspective, so I was skeptical about how much I would like them. But here's what I learned from all of them:

~There's so many stereotypical perspectives. We need new ones.

When it came to that new character, I couldn't relate to her. In fact, she really got on my nerves. It was like that stereotypical female leader type character, in the sense that to be a female leader the female has to tough, dominating, and snarky. Which I disagree with. There are plenty of great female leaders who don't fit that stereotype, ones who are more gentle or quieter. That can be the young adult genre in a nutshell, though, sometimes, is that it is FULL of the cliche characters. Especially when it comes to guys. You get the same bad boy personalities that are supposed to be portrayed as sexy and blah blah blah. One of my favorite YA authors—who was the author of the other two books I got to finish a series—I think she does a good job of creating realistic characters with varying personalities. She even writes young adult romance, but you can still see how the guys are flawed. And her female characters lean on the side of being more innocent and naive, and before her, I had never found a young adult author who wrote their characters that way, and I LOVED that perspective. As a teenager myself, I have yet to find stories that imitate how relatable those were for me, even if they were secular, too. That's kind of one of my complaints about the Christian fiction genre, too: the characters feel too plastic to me. Like it seems like they're gifted with way too much to the point that it's not realistic, and you don't get an honest portrayal of their flaws. There's this one author who seems to give all of her characters natural beauty, and it's like, okay, not all of us are blessed with that... But sure, we'll pretend to be happy for her when the guys just love her... Oh that's right, I forgot real people usually struggle with jealousy, too—that's what it would be nice to see more of.

~I still hate cliche endings.

Agh, those same books also had the worst endings. They were too fairytale-ish. I don't necessarily mind happy endings, but they have to be authentic for me, like I talk about here.

~More than that, I think I hate the way endings are wrote, period.

Okay, this one may be more of a critique of myself than the actual stories. I'm insatiable when it comes to the way endings are wrote. If they're too happy, I don't like that because it doesn't feel real—it's too cliche. But if they're too sad, then I'm left depressed (if you've never been depressed over a book, you don't know what you're missing, haha) and needing more. And, as I found out just recently with the conclusion to this other series by the teen author I love, I don't like it when they're too open-ended. NORMALLY open-ended types are my favorite because they're more of a middle ground: not too happy, yet not too sad. So maybe it was just because this particular series dealt with a hot guy who she only now got back with at the end of the story, and I would've loved to read more of him BEYOND A PAGE...

Endings aren't fun, though, especially when you're super engrossed in a story, and you feel attached to the characters. I have some characters I love so much, I could read book after book with them and never get bored. I suppose it's kind of like certain people, in a way. You have some you love to see and miss horribly when it's time to say goodbye, and then there are others where you're like get out of my life already...

~I would love to know the psychology behind why I get so attached to certain characters.

Seriously, it's almost insane. I have some characters I just don't forget, but I suppose if they feel real and relatable, you feel like you know them but yet you don't. After the conclusion of the series I loved, my grandma told me to call her to let her know how it ended because I was worried I would get the ending I did, so then I was ranting all about this guy and how much I loved him and how I didn't want to be done reading about him and how ONE PAGE is not nearly adequate enough. My brother thought I had lost my mind, insisting it was only a book. Well, you should see what his video games do to him, so I think I'm fine, and every other teenage girl would agree. This guy, though... He had finally just come around, and he was so sensitive inside and had such capabilities to think deeply, he was great. <3

Okay, I'll quit now, but I guess I definitely learned lots to put into my own writing. My grandma was telling me that now I'll know how to end my book, since I was so unsatisfied with the other series' ending. Well, I don't know about that, but it definitely got me thinking, especially about the power of good characters. I mean, this fictional guy, is like, awesome to me. He's FICTIONAL, though, but as they say, he'll live on in my heart... Maybe it's because in my head I pictured him looking really hot...? I don't know. Well, what I do know is that when it comes to me personally, I have my physical type of guy all down to a T, but personality wise? I have no idea. I guess I should just create a million male characters and see which one I fall in love with. And then somehow find a real life version. Ha. Like that'll happen.

Okay but in all seriousness, it has made me think even about the grand point of why I write fictional stories as a whole: there is something about them that, when done right, can resonate with people on a deep, knowing level, and that literally has the power to change their life. I don't know how or why yet—I haven't started my research psychology career yet—but it does. It really does, and it's not just because of hot guys, not ALL of the time, anyway. It's because when done right, the characters do feel relatable, and you can learn things from their struggles and pick out themes for all of this—all of the stories in the world—that all lead to something bigger than ourselves. And I know that that's God and what He has done for us.

As far as being done right goes, that really depends; there is no set definition of the perfect way to write a novel. But I think there's something to be said for those novels that are completely raw and honest, that show characters' vulnerabilities and inner darkness, and that depict great themes. That's my goal when I write, anyway, but everyone is looking for something different, which is why, as my writing chart says, it's important first to just write for yourself. And it is pretty amazing, what writing can do for its author. You can explore your own darkness and hurts, your own doubts and attitudes about life, all with your imagination. I can't get enough of it, and now, after reading all these books, I really am itching to write my own. Someone once asked me if I prefer to read or write, which one I liked better. It was a very tough choice for me because I've always loved to read, but as I've gotten older, there's only so much reading I can stand before I have to write my own stories. It's like a necessity, a way for me to release my thoughts and comb through them.

So now I must go do that, ugh, and pray I don't let my perfectionistic crap get in my way... That will come in handy for revising, but I've got to get it through my head somehow that YOU CANNOT REVISE WHAT IS NOT FINISHED...

Okay seriously, like I really need to get on that. But I also want to hear from you! What are your fave genres and types of stories to read? Any recommendations for me?! I feel so weird not waking up to read anymore because I read all my books...but now it's time to write my own, I guess!

Oh, one last thing—for reviews on some of my fave books, read this post here. It's from like three years ago, so I really need to do a new one now!!! That one took an emphasis on Christian fiction, but maybe this next one could deal specifically with young adult? Then you could hear all about the hot guys!!!

Okay. I'm done for real now.

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Bailing on Canada | Estherville & Okoboji 2k18

Long time with no writing! I was hoping to update my blog as much as possible over my vacation spent with family when my parents went to Canada, but we got to be so busy that it made it a lot harder. But I took tons of pictures, so I'm thrilled to recap this now!

I got home yesterday and just finished unpacking a little bit ago (as of 3:44 from June 23, 2018). I had quite the amount of bags to unpack: when I left, I had brought five bags. Yeah, I know that sounds like a lot, but since my mom was bringing her huge suitcase that I normally take for all of my clothes, I ended up bringing three bags of clothes. Yes, I brought the whole summer portion of my closet, and I'm glad I did: I was able to wear a new outfit everyday, haha! And I made Grandma take a picture of me everyday so I can post them all like the wannabe fashion blogger I am! Haha just kidding, but I am saving them for a future blog post on modesty.

I did only end up bringing one bag for my entertainment type things, and for once I brought only the bare minimum for those. So it all balanced out. And then my fifth bag was just my purse, so I don't know if that really counts. I ended up coming home with NINE bags though, but that's because they were smaller bags of things I bought that wouldn't fit anywhere else. I got a lot of good deals and things I bought that I'll go over, too!

First things first, my parents and brother went up to Canada with some friends, and it sounds like they had a good time! I already recapped our first trip to Canada as a family here, here, and here. I never did post our second trip, which was last year, and honestly that's because it wasn't too interesting on my end at least. I determined the fishing life isn't my life, so I mainly stayed at the cabin and read. Canada was still beautiful, though, and I did have pictures that I never posted, so I'll show you them below here:

*we went to Cabela's on the way up, Tobie's with amazing donuts, and attempted to feed deer
**Hunter caught a huge fish right off our dock when our parents were out fishing, so I helped him but he had most of it done himself, and then these guys in the cabin next to us had just come back from fishing and helped us store the fish—it's mounted in his room now
***on the way home, I got Arby's and went by the Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild


I already miss everyone and Estherville so much I could cry. It's always a blast, and I'm already making plans to go up again. I blogged some images of my first day there here. I went up to Estherville to stay with my grandparents a couple days before my family left for Canada. They were spending the night at my uncle's house, also, so I would have a few days to talk to them before they had to battle finding an internet connection. I had fun just hanging out with my grandparents and making the rounds at ShopKo and Dollar General.

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I had ordered some jeans from American Eagle that (finally!) came back in stock, so as soon as Mom and I saw that, we jumped on them and bought them and had them shipped up to Estherville because I would be up there when they came. Also about that swimsuit, that didn't get shipped until after we left to see our relatives up in the Cities, so I hope nobody has stolen it or the elements haven't destroyed it...because I guess Estherville is drowning right now with all the rain...

That night we made it a goal to walk down on their recreational trail everyday, so we headed down.

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This is random, but I was kind of proud of myself because I made it a goal to shower every single day I was up there (because normally when I'm up there I slack off and then always regret it because I have greasy hair in all of my pictures), and so I actually did that, AND I actually rotated through both of my shampoos I'm supposed to be using every other day, so yeah, now if I can just get that disciplined with my writing, Bible study, and fitness routines we'll be good.... I also had had horrible drainage for the majority of my time up there, but it got better with each day, and I had to take these horrible pills that tasted disgusting on your tongue, and they were so big that I about gagged on one of them each time I took them. Ugh. Good memories.

The next day, I went for a bike ride with my Gramps. It was cool in the mornings with a faint breeze, and since I wore an airy top it was bearable. We didn't get to ride bikes much later though due to the humidity and high temperatures. But we went on an extensive ride that day, clear down by the hospital and then headed south down by this church that always greets us upon coming into town. Then we had to find a place to cross the busy highway that goes through downtown, and it was uphill from there. We were definitely shot after that, but I loved it.

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He also took me for our truck ride!! No visit to Estherville is complete without one of those.

Grams also took me on some rides out to Fort Defiance, and I love being able to talk with her on those.

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My older cousin Kirsten who I'm super close to and who feels like more of an older sister than a cousin called us frequently, which is always fun getting to talk to her, especially past midnight when Grams is ready to kill us both. ;D

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We also went to their VFW to talk with some extended relatives. I enjoyed the company of everyone and was glad I put on that long-sleeved shirt, which Grandma nagged me to change into because it was freezing.

Hey look... It's me with Grandma in her signature pose, on the phone. ;) <3

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All the small town vibes <3

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My family also recently introduced me to Forrest Gump, and oh my gosh, that just may be one of my next favorite movies. So Grams and I watched it at night and only finished it in three days, haha. That's because she was too tired the one night and then too busy on the phone the next, haha.

The next day, we headed over to Spencer because Gramps got his windshield destroyed when a rock hit it when he was going to pick up Grandma after her trip. It turns out they ordered the wrong one, which he was not at all happy about, but we at least got to go shopping down at their little strip mall. It had rained heavily the night before, and thankfully we got back before more storms came, because Grandpa said that if it hailed on his car with all of the damage it already had he was going to drive it off a cliff... ;D

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I went into JCPenney with Grandma, and I found two new summer tops that were both up to 70% off! The material also felt really nice, too, and not at all cheap. Then we went to Hobby Lobby, a store Grandpa and Grandma love that I do also now, and their girly room decor took my breath away! I think it was supposed to be marketed at five year old girls, so I guess I'm still five...? I don't know, but I absolutely loved it.

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Then at Hobby Lobby, I got this frame for my room. It's hard to see completely what it says because I haven't taken the packaging off of it yet, but it says "Live big little girl." I liked that a lot, even though I don't know if I'm so little anymore, but I probably act like one with all of my far fetched dreams and fantasies. ;)

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We did our nightly walk again, and I believe we also went to the Dollar General again. I can't remember what day this was, but on one day Grandma had to go to the Dollar Store so many times—I think five, no lie—and Gramps was so exasperated, he was like, we should move it to our front yard. ;D

Here I'm under the bridge that goes over the trail downtown. It has a weird echo, and every time we walk underneath it I morbidly wonder about it collapsing on us... I'm sure it's fine though, and it is definitely different to walk underneath it, but I like it. The trail is a blast to walk on and so is the Swinging Bridge.

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The next morning I bought six donuts at Casey's because they had some deal going for that. And I ate all six of them over the span of two days. My diet is so good, you guys. I don't even know what to do about it, except keep eating. :D

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I actually did do some sporadic writing on my book, and there were some times just driving around the town, under the perfect sunset, that my heart seemed to just swell with the story and the themes and the thoughts I had that I just can't get over until I write about. If that's not motivation to write, I don't know what is. So I am going to seriously start working on it.

We went to the library later just to look around. I wanted to get a feel for the young adult books, to get an idea of any I might want to buy. I am SO picky about the books I read anymore because they are all so redundant—especially YA. As if teenagers can't handle any deep things of substance. And sometimes they will put deep problems in the books, but you know what is always missing? DEEP THEMES. I don't know if I was in the best of moods after reading all the summaries, haha. I have such a deep desire to make my stories different from the norms, but who knows if that even sells? Even most of Christian fiction is repetitive and fluffy: sure, they give their characters problems—that are all miraculously solved. It's annoying because it's not authentic.

But anyway, enough on that rant. I LOVE their library. While ours is more modern and sleek, theirs is more classic and timeless. I think I like their look more to be honest.

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They also have the best furniture and these cute tables that I loved. I also like how theirs is two stories. The library gives such a fancy addition to the downtown.

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I got to go eat out with Grams at Godfather's again, and then we hurried home to see company and had some nice chats. I always love being able to talk deep with her though. 

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Their town is so pretty, I love committing it to memory. <3

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I did stay up late working on the draft of a letter to you know who that I've been promising on here, but it got late and you know how Grandma gets when it's "too late," and then we went to meet my cousin Kirsten the next day (yay!!!) so I never got time to finish it up there. I will eventually, though.

For a year, Kirsten and I had been planning to go jet skiing over at Okoboji, and we had set money aside to rent one. We also had other plans to do things, and we got mostly everything we wanted to done. Both of us had just recently bought leather jackets, so we wanted to get tons of pictures together. We made poor Grams come out with us to the Swinging Bridge where we bossed her around with different photography commands. I'm sure she was close to throwing us off the bridge, but we made sure to thank her profusely, especially since she actually got quite the batch of good pics haha!

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Then we made Grams take us out to Fort Defiance, too. :)

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We had some downright hilarious photos as we attempted to get this one:

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Kirsten requested that we eat at Godfather's, which of course I wasn't going to deny just because I ate out the night before. We were rowdy when we arrived—we were the only ones there—haha. And then when we went to ShopKo, Kirsten yelled "I gotta go pee!" a little too loud, right by a worker, haha. Memories. Since I'd gotten pizza the night before at Godfather's, I decided to try their chicken. It was so much better than what I remembered it to be; I loved it.

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Kirsten and I also went for a bike ride around the neighborhood.

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We brought Kirsten with on our nightly walks and of course made Grams take more pictures.

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That night we did our nails, and I finally used some of my polish from my large collection of nail polish I've neglected since 6th grade (right Mom?). It was a blast, except I'm so slow and messy when it comes to doing my nails. I need to do it more often.

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We stayed up until three something talking about everything: guys we like and our types of guys, inside jokes, deep questions that are going into my book, psychology, creepy stories, our memories, etc. I love having someone like her to talk to.

The next day was going to be the day we had planned for: jet skiing at 'Boji and all the fun things around there! There was a place to rent a jet ski just off of Arnold's Park. We wanted that so we could have something as a landmark so we didn't get lost out in the lake haha.

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Jet skiing was so awesome. Seriously. It affirmed my dreams to live on a lake and get a bunch of toys for the water, a jet ski now being top of the list. We didn't venture too far away, but we did go out to the center of West Lake Okoboji. Maybe if we're braver next time we'll go under the bridge that we drive over coming into Spirit Lake like we saw some other people on jet skis do. :) We also couldn't have asked for better weather. It was a blistering hot day, but honestly, those are the days you want because the water is cold if not, and the coolness of the water on your skin is that much more refreshing when you're out there. Plus, you do get WET, as we found out, so if it's hotter outside you dry off faster.

We rented a jet ski for half an hour, and I made Kirsten drive. ;) I think she was worried about it, but she did a great job. We rode it as fast as we could (only like 7 mph...for some reason I thought they could go up to 70 like a car and I have no idea why I thought that haha). She was also smart about her driving, too, though, because the last thing we wanted was to tip over! And there were some solid waves out there because it's a very populated lake. We made sure to slow down for those, but I absolutely loved each second of it. I let my arms dangle around Kirsten's waist and made sure I stayed snug against her so that I wouldn't fly off, but I really think that's harder than one imagines. Both of us agreed we would do it again, and hopefully we can! We didn't think we would get as wet as we did but wore a spare change of clothes just in case, and I'm glad we did. The water temperature was just right: my bare feet were getting scorched as we walked down to the jet ski, but letting my feet rest on the sides of it where the water collected felt amazing. Kirsten took the brunt of the splashing waves, haha, while I ducked behind her. But being the back, water would spray up from behind and splash me, too. I absolutely loved it. I wish we would have gotten more pictures of us on it, or that we had a Go Pro. We both agreed that if we ever become rich like a lot of the people over here, the first investment we're going to make is a photographer who can follow us around and take pictures, haha. :D

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At first we didn't know if we'd be able to get to go jet skiing but had a backup plan of going canoeing if not. I'm so thankful we got to go jet skiing though. I'm very thankful that God blessed us with those moments together. For years we've driven over the lakes, and I've watched as all of the people had their fun on the lakes, and so it was really special to finally be able to get to be a part of that. I hope we can do something like that again next year, and who knows, maybe one day I will make my dream come true of having a lake house on 'Boji. ;)

Okay, then there were these pictures when we were done that Grams took. They crack me up. I just love how our movements are completely identical to each other—in this picture we look like zombies or something, and then Kirsten has an even better one of us where we're looking over to the side and we LITERALLY look like the real BigFoot. Yeah, I can see that one: two BigFoots spotted live in action on the coast of Arnold's Park.

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The lake life in 'Boji? Heck yes. Canada? Sorry, but I had my two years and was more than ready for this change of pace. ;)

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We went into a nearby restroom to change into drier, fancier clothes. And then got pictures!!! Duh.

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They've been making some new changes to the park, which look awesome. I thought it would've changed in appearance a lot more than it has, but I'm okay with that because I wouldn't want the look to be unrecognizable. But Kirsten and I went walking through all of the shops, and there was this new museum for rock and roll and a new fun area with this huge slide we might try one day haha. Then up at the Emporium, they have a brand new Lilly Pulitzer store. OH, MY GOSH. I died, because I've always admired Lilly Pulitzer from afar and wish I had the budget to splurge on their clothes. The shop was so cute, and I found two tops easily I would've loved, each only $100! Not. I totally don't have a budget for that right now, but maybe one day... Nonetheless, I'm glad they have the store; it's adorable.

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We also did the free Mirror Maze and Tipsy House inside the park, which are always fun. We got gum balls from the golf course I've always wanted to golf at and even won a yellow gum ball, which means a free round for one person to golf there! So then we made Grams take this picture, too:

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We went to go eat at the Spirit Lake Dairy Queen (it never fails). Originally we had wanted to eat at a restaurant on the lake, but they were unbelievably crowded. Kirsten and I tried to check out one, and you could barely walk.

We actually got Gramps to go mini golfing in the park with us! Since it was Father's Day, he got to go free. It was actually way cheaper than I expected it to be but very crowded. It wasn't horrible though. I really enjoyed it, except it got a bit long after awhile especially with the heat. Every once in awhile there was a breeze. Ha, actually there was a breeze a lot, because our balls kept going all over the place, and Kirsten's and my hair kept flying everywhere during pictures. It was fun though, and I'm glad we got to do it. Grams kept score for us; I don't think golf is her thing. We always joke with Gramps about mini golf because a long time ago he went mini golfing, got mad, and hit the ball clear over the highway! Normally that's how I feel because we went mini golfing the year before, and I did absolutely horrible. Gramps beat us by a lot, and Kirsten and I almost tied for last, but Kirsten lost by a couple more points. Kirsten's ball really liked her: it kept coming back down the hill to the starting point hahaha.

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Gramps also took us for truck rides, too, which we enjoy. We went on the Swinging Bridge again, too.

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On a ride around town, the sunlight peeking through the clouds was an awesome sight:

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Kirsten wanted to watch Forrest Gump with me since it had been years since she'd seen it, so I was more than happy to because I'm obsessed with it! We stole some of Grandma's M&M's from her food she was saving for circle at church the next day, and I sprinkled them on my popcorn. We paused the movie for awhile though to talk with Grams, which I loved. Kir and I had some honest talks that I loved getting to talk with her over, like our unfiltered, raw thoughts on different types of people. It felt good to be able to connect like that. You know, the more I think about how lonely I feel, what God has lain on my heart is that I'm not as alone as I thought. At school, yes, and in my faith, yes. But He knows how to send just the right people, like my cousins. Getting to talk with Kirsten is like getting to talk with the older sister I wish I had or the best friend I've been wanting. I appreciate that so much. I also love that we can have our own inside jokes, jokes that are better off not told with Grams in the room...haha. :)

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The next day, Grandma had to lead circle for church. We were planning to go to Spirit Lake afterwards just to check out Walmart. Kir and I went for a bike ride while we were waiting. Grams had to be at church early to get ready, and the route we took led us by the church, and we saw her car. So we were like, let's stop and say hi! So we did. The church was quiet and black, with hardly any lights on. Kirsten and I were trying to find her, but we couldn't. Evidently she was outside and then tried to hide from us with one of her friends. It was funny. Their church is decorated really nice. What was even FUNNIER, though, is what happened a half hour after Grams said it would be over. We wanted to hurry and get over to Spirit Lake because Kirsten wanted to check out a consignment shop that would be closing soon, so we decided to walk down to the church since it wasn't that far away. On our way over there, I made the comment that what if Grams drives right by us? We were hoping we could find her and then just get a ride back.

We got down by where the church was, and then Kirsten and I couldn't remember which road it was we took that led us to the front of the church. We started down one road, but then we realized that it would probably take us by the back of the church, so we'd have to walk around. I told her to keep her eyes peeled for Grandma, just in case. Then all of a sudden from the road over a block, I see her driving by. I quickly yell to Kirsten that that's her, so we actually RAN to the end of our road to go meet her. Mind you, Kirsten and I do not RUN, and we were certainly not dressed in running attire. We must have been a sight: running as fast as we possibly could right down the middle of the road, waving our arms and yelling. And Grandma? We watch as she drives right by us, not even slowing down. Kir and I were exhausted, and then we had to walk all the way home. Haha, good times...

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Shortly after we made our way over to Walmart in Spirit Lake. I sucked on gum balls that we got from trying to get a bunch of yellow ones for mini golfing, haha. Mom says this looks like my tongue. Yeah, I wish I had a pink tongue, that'd be interesting.

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I think Kir was kind of disappointed in their Okoboji clothing selection. I stayed by her to help her pick something out, but she couldn't find anything really. Then we went to the makeup section together and talked about some of our fave makeup brands and which ones we haven't found to be the best. We really waned to look at the nail polish in particular. When we did our nails, I had let Kirsten borrow a gold color I had, and so she wanted to find one like mine. We also wanted to find a rose gold color, and I wanted a bright neon pink color. She found her gold, and I found my colors, too. Then we did self checkout, which I just LOVE.

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It was our last night to walk, so we enjoyed doing that together. Grandpa would always drive us down and drop us off by the Rock Garden, where the trail begins, and then he parks down by the Swinging Bridge.

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We finished watching our movie, and Kirsten and I got preoccupied making food Instagram accounts. It was her idea; we decided that since we have so many pictures of our food, we should make accounts for them, haha. You can follow mine here!

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After that we had to take Kirsten back. :( The time with her flew; I wish we had a lot more. The three of us, my grandparents and me, were headed to the Twin Cities to see relatives. My other older cousin, Amanda, just graduated this year, so we were going to help them get ready for her graduation party. I am also very close to Amanda like I am Kirsten. I love getting to talk with her, too. We had a blast together and got to do everything we wanted to do. On the way up, Kirsten wanted a donut from Casey's, so we got an awesome breakfast.

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When we made it up there, Amanda and I convinced Grandpa to take us to Marshall's. Kirsten introduced me to that store last year, which is a store with expensive stuff for really cheap. I got this plain black tee I'd been needing from Ralph Lauren for half its original price.

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We had Wendy's for supper, one of Gramps' faves. He also likes Hardee's, and when we were back in Estherville, I introduced him to their shakes, which he didn't even know they had.

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Amanda and I had fun going on Pinterest looking up pins of hot guys, looking through her collection of books, and bugging Grams by keeping her up until two thirty. On our first full day, we decided to go to Barnes and Noble, our favorite.

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Afterwards we went to a nearby mall and checked out some stores. I got a few things there that were on sale from my fave store, though not as much as I thought. So I had a lot of money left over, even after buying three books. They also had the cutest puppies there in a pet store!! We had been to this mall last year, and I fell in love with them then. I wish they would let you hold them...

Two out of three books I got I liked. One was from a series I had already read and loved, but I wanted to buy it for myself. Another was the first book in a series by an author I loved because of their other previous series. And that series is actually being made into a movie on Netflix, and I'm already cringing over it. I've never read books first and then had movies made after them. Usually I see movies first, and then I go read the books. I know some people think that's weird, but my reasoning is that I can't stand it to go to all that work visualizing people in my head and having everything ruined by the movie. Which is happening with this! I was telling one of my older friends this clear back in December when I saw who they had got casted for all the people. They're, like, slaughtering everyone in my head. There's supposed to be this boy in the books who's like your stereotypical hot guy, right? And the actor they got to play him, oh my gosh, I just can't. I love his hair, but that's it. It just goes downhill from there. And then there's supposed to be this nerdy guy who's also supposed to be cute that the girl likes, and the actor they got for him literally looks like he has the face of a five year old. I know that sounds awful, but I'm serious. I had to do a double take when I saw him, like what character is he even playing?! And then there's supposed to be your boy next door guy who's supposed to just be average looking...and he's hotter than all of them combined. It's a mess. But I'm going to watch it anyway, and probably cry over the fact that the boy next door is cuter than supposed hot guy. You just don't make that mistake. It's unforgivable.

Anyway, that's super off topic. The last book was a new one I had bought, over a girl with mental illness and who meets this cute neighbor. I already had my concerns about it because I absolutely hate it when there's someone with a ton of problems and then someone else comes in to save the day. It actually wasn't like that though, it was way too slow and almost didn't even have a plot I thought. But you know, being a writer, I don't think reading a book is ever wasted, even if I didn't like it. A) It still helps that I'm reading, no matter if I like it or not. It's good practice. B) If I don't like a story, that helps me narrow down what I want to write about. Like okay, I wanted to read this book about forgiveness, but I felt they didn't dig in deep enough, so in my book I'll go way deeper, for example. The more I read, the more I want to write. This sounds bad, but I think it's because I honestly don't like the way books are wrote anymore. Like I mentioned earlier, they are all the same thing practically. It inspires me to write my own books, books that are diverse and interesting and authentic and deep. I really do need to get writing, I miss it so much.

I still have a blast reading, though. Amanda and I were holed up in her room, me sitting on the bed or floor with a blanket and her on the opposite end reading on her phone. I finished all three books in the two full days we were there. It was so much fun; it gives me so much joy. Then with my leftover money (and her family gave me money as a late birthday gift, thank you!!!), I bought five+ new books on Amazon last night because they're much cheaper on there, so you can buy more. I can't wait. I wish they would come sooner.

We also went with Grandma to the store, and Amanda and I were just a little embarrassed when we were checking out, and they tell us that you can get another box of donut holes free since we bought one. We were already done checking out, so Amanda and I said to just forget it, but Grams goes running back to get one, and then we're just left standing there when someone is supposed to pay... The guy behind us made some joke about how he would have bought them too or something. It was amusing.

On our last full day, we went to Target. I bought this planner I needed for next year, for $16... It was pretty and thick with lots of space to take notes and places to record specific times, which my old planner didn't have. However, I'm that girl who uses a planner diligently for the first few months until gradually by the end of the year I don't use it at all. So I hope this doesn't happen with this one. But $16, that may be motivation to not slack off...

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That night we went walking down to Walgreens together with Grams. By their busy road and everything...

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That night, Kirsten called Grandma, and Amanda and I put her on speaker so that all three of us could talk. Honestly, how do you even describe the warm feelings you get in your heart from moments like that? From being understood and just getting to goof around over inside jokes and everything? They're like the best friends I don't have, and I'm so thankful God has put them in my life.

The last day, my family came home from Canada and was going to stop and visit with their family for awhile. The visit was really nice, and I enjoyed getting to see everyone. The week flew by, but it was a great start to my summer.

On the way home, I was heading back with my family. Going through the Cities, we passed this big, sleek building that had to do with neuroscience. Sometimes I am filled with a sense of longing as I contemplate where I'll be in my future. I don't know why, but sometimes I think of myself dressing professionally, working in a big city in a pristine building like that. It's probably a shallow desire—after all, that's the American dream, and I hate to be one of those people who wants the cliche things everyone else does. But only God knows, and if I can give Him glory through a position like that, then I'll do it. More Christians need to be in positions like that, and I'd be more than willing to do it.

Here is back in Iowa... Man, I do love my state, though. I have a hard time thinking that I'll move away from it, but I know that all depends on jobs, my future family, etc. But no matter where I end up, I'll be thankful I was raised here.

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My dad picked out a souvenir for me from Canada. I never did get a souvenir from Canada when I was up there because I never found anything that really caught my eye. However, what Dad got me far exceeded my expectations. I don't think I could've asked for anything better. This pretty dreamcatcher is a representation of the Native American culture up there, and it's so gorgeous that it will definitely be used as a decoration in my room.

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I am so thankful for these memories. It has been the perfect boost to my mood after freshman year. I regret spending the better half of freshman year being such a baby about things and letting myself develop mindsets I never wanted to have. But I am so thankful that God is faithful and that He never gives up on me. I hope I can get right with Him this summer, too, back into the healthy thought patterns He's helped me have. And I know He will. I had to do a lot of growing up during 9th grade, but I'm thankful for that. Looking back on it all, it was worth it.

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Quotes I Don't Agree With

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Pinterest has tons of quotes you can find. There are a lot of quotes I've found and really liked, but there are others that I just don't agree with. At all. Today, we're going to talk about some of the common ones I see in life, travel, and sports that just don't click with me. I'm not meaning to bash the people who said them, either, I'm just stating my opinion about them.

"You create your own opportunities."

No, no, no. This is not something I think is good to tell yourself. Opportunities are not something you can always create. God is ultimately in charge, and even if you don't believe in Him, there are times where you can be working your butt off and not getting any opportunities. I think you can work hard to put yourself in the position to get some opportunities, but you are not in charge of them. God is. Telling yourself this will not be good and will just leave you upset when it doesn't happen.

"When in doubt, vacation."

So that you can escape from the problems you have in your life temporarily and procrastinate with solving them? Vacation is so going to help that. I get that you need breaks, but nah. Vacation WILL NOT solve your problems. All I have to say about that one.

"To travel is to live."

Yeah, so is breathing. I think it's awesome to travel, and it is definitely a way to live, but it's not the only way. I hate how it gives off the message that if you don't travel you're NOT living, because that's just not true. That's like me saying, "To write is to live." Not true. To really live is to know God and follow His plan for you.

"I don't like depending on people because people leave all the time. Because at the end of the day all you have is yourself and that has to be enough."

I don't really get how one could find encouragement through this. It's rather depressing, so let's lighten the mood here. First, yes, people do leave. We're sinful, and we're a mess when it comes to doing the right thing. However, there are people who will be there, and people who will hurt you but will still be worth having in your life. Those people are hard to find, but they're there.

I agree with the next part of the quote a little bit, but I still need to add to it. At the end of the day, and I've even said this before, all you have is you. Everybody in your life is going to hurt you - a few will be worth it, some you'll need to let go. However, you with God is going to get you far. If you have God, that's all you need. If you don't have God, then it will be hard because you're going to be alone a lot. I can't imagine not having God, because it's going to make that quote as depressing as it sounds. You can't get through life alone, and the people closest to you will hurt you. It's inevitable, sorry. God is still here for you, though. He's waiting, and I'd run to Him. It's not too late to accept Him and be offered hope.

"Work so hard that one day your signature will become an autograph."

NO.

Our world thinks that is the only way you can be successful, and I'm sick of it. The only way you can be successful is if you're being a light for God and living for Him END OF SENTENCE. This life has no point otherwise. The world will end, and nobody is going to remember our accomplishments. It will only matter how many people believed and lived for the Lord, so they could have everlasting life.

"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take."

I used to agree with this, but I don't really anymore. Sometimes God protects us from things that we don't need in our life, and I'm also really sick of this you-only-live-once-do-it-all attitude the world loves.

"If you're afraid of failure, you don't deserve success."

I really am not a fan of this one. Being afraid is part of our human nature, look at how Jesus was nervous about dying on the cross. As far as if you're afraid of failure, that's part of us too. It's a battle, and we have to trust God ultimately. Does that mean if you ever get worried about failing you don't deserve success? HECK no! Sometimes I think those who are afraid of failing but persevere and trust God anyway deserve it MOST.

And now we'll end with a popular sports quote I see...

"I bust mine so I can kick yours."

Well, then you're bustin' yours for all the wrong reasons. Gosh. Another awful attitude our world has - beat the best, etc. You should play for God and play because you love it. That's not to say you can't be competitive, but really.

What do you think about these quotes? What are some common quotes you don't agree with?

A Letter to Myself About Basketball

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Dear Ashlee,

This is me to talking to you. Duh. It's a letter to MYSELF about basketball. Why am I writing this? Because I know you, and I know you've had a lot of concerns about basketball. This isn't going to be a rant about travel leagues or anything, this is just a letter to you about things. Some of your concerns are fitting in, not being good enough, ranked as lesser because of your lack of being in travel leagues, and just fear. Lately though, I've had to ask you some things.

Why do you play basketball? You always say for fun, because you genuinely like the sport. And I've been thinking about something, Ashlee (I realize how weird this is sounding). If you play for fun and to get better, why do you care about fitting in? Does it matter? NO IT DOES NOT. AT ALL. We all want to be accepted, but we forget that all we need is God. I know sometimes when you hear that over and over, it loses its meaning. But think about this.

God created the entire universe, sent His son Jesus for YOUR sins alone if that was the case, and He still loves and cares for you. That's not something people just say! It's in the Bible, and the Bible is 100% true. And one of these days you guys will get to hear why I think so with scientific evidence - I'm trying to get that post all organized. It'll be a big one, and I want to make sure it's accurate. But sorry, today I'm not talking to you guys, I'm talking to Ashlee, because she's cooler than you. I might be kidding.

Here is your answer to fear number one, Ashlee. The girls may love you, they may hate you, it doesn't matter - because you have God, and He is going to get you far. You have a family that has your back and is going to support you regardless. Unless you become a stripper. They might not be the happiest about that one. Well, anyway, you get the idea. That's all that matters, and you play for fun - DO NOT let anyone take that away from you! Chances are if they don't like you, it's jealousy, and don't let them keep you from having fun because of something like THAT. If you're like, making complete air balls and just being a walking clumsy person, well, then they might be ticked because they think you suck, BUT I HAVE AN IDEA.

If that's the case, still don't let them take that away from you! Do your best, kill with kindness, and trust in God! Imagine what they'll think then! Don't let people wreck how you feel or how you play. You play for God, even if you suck. I mean, He has to get his entertainment somehow... I'm sure He'll still love it.

But you don't suck. You may not have played for travel leagues, but good grief, that doesn't define you as a player. If someone thinks it does, well, I guess let them. Let them figure it out - it's their life. This day in age, sports are pretty much everything to kids and PARENTS. My parents never force me to do anything unless I start something, but they motivate me in those things - there's a difference. I don't think they'd motivate me on being a stripper. Next time they complain about me wanting basketball socks, I'm going to tell them it could always be worse.

Regardless of who you play with or what team you're on, you play for fun, and you play for God. The rest doesn't matter. God has a plan for you, trust Him, have FUN this season, and you'll be rewarded.