The Most Impatient Girl Is Learning Patience—How?

Here’s another blog post I’ve made you all wait for, that of how to be patient in life. ;) Seriously, I had some thoughts written down for this about two years ago, when I had this revelation about how I can learn to be patient and actually enjoy the present moment. Now, you all should know by now that not only do I have to be patient for a lot of things, I hate doing it. But I have to because God says so and He gets to decide. Believe me, there is nothing I fight God more on than that of waiting for things in my life. :’) Sometimes I get my way, but mostly I don’t. :D The fact of the matter, though, is that having patience is important in life, and even I recognize that. People who wait for things and let God have their futures are going to ultimately make better decisions because they won’t feel like they have to do things out of desperation.

But of course it’s easier said than done, especially if you’re someone like me where this isn’t one of your “gifts.” But I have learned from trial and error that by not being patient, or by being upset when you have to wait, does only end up hurting you, and God can give you more than that if you let Him.

I had a moment that did act as a breakthrough for me in learning something valuable about this, though, both about trusting God in the waiting and how to actually enjoy life while waiting, both things I struggle with. This happened during the end of my eighth grade year, and this was a time where I was especially restless and eager to do more with my life. I was right about at a transition period, with looking ahead to high school, and so I had much anticipation about that. In addition to those contemplations, I also witnessed a lot of people at my church getting to do things for God’s glory I wish I could’ve at the time but knew I was much too young. And I felt down a lot. It seemed impossible for me to enjoy where I was, though I tried my best to, and thankfully God was patient with me as I did. But finally, one night, something hit me.

I got home from church where these godly people had encouraged me—all proof in and of itself about how God cares about your needs and will provide—and I was looking at my bookshelf holding books spanning from young adult fiction to theological nonfiction books. I saw one book in particular that is one of my favorites to date, The Chase by Kyle and Kelsey Kupecky—the tagline for the book being “How to Trust God with Your Happily Ever After.” This is a book primarily about marriage and waiting for the right guy—I talk about it more here and am going to write much further about its impact on my life in the future because like I said, it’s an all time favorite of mine—but all of a sudden, the tagline ringing in my mind, I thought about something.

Trusting God with your happily ever after. I had always trusted Him with my future husband. I did not get mad at Him because, hey, I’ve been praying for my future husband at least dating back to when I was eleven years old (I wrote a letter to him here you can read as proof and as embarrassment for me), but he’s not here yet almost three years later, so what are You doing, God?

No, I would never say that because as much as I may have thought I was ready to be married right then—and ha, I probably would have because I think about my future husband all the time, especially at those hockey games ;)—that is still insane to expect God to make him show up then—why? Because I was only fourteen years old and that’s ILLEGAL! I can’t even legally get married until I’m eighteen, so why would God put my husband in my life at that point? And I realized that, is that NOT how it is with everything He makes us wait for? It may not be because it’s illegal in every case to do something before a certain age—but the bottom line is, God knows the big picture and when you are ready for something in life. There is no way, as an eighth grader, I would have been ready to get married at that time. To expect God to do that for me then, regardless of how long I’d been praying, would not make sense, and I could see that.

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At my beloved hockey games

Sometimes you can’t always see why you have to wait, and I can testify to that, but this opened up my eyes because I know obviously I will get married one day, but to expect it THEN and get mad at God for not delivering would be insane on my part. But really, this would be true for everything God makes us wait for if we had the perspective He did on our whole entire lives. And it reassured me greatly, because it finally opened up my eyes to see that (a) waiting is not pointless, and (b) waiting does not mean no.

The second thing I learned, continuing to tie in with this revelation about waiting on my future husband, is that as a kid, I never stopped loving my life just because I was waiting for my husband. I just knew it was not that time for him to be in my life, and why would I waste the season I’m in now when I knew that would come eventually? I just trusted God to provide that in His timing and, in the meantime, enjoy every moment of life He blesses me with.

Why is it not the same with everything else I must wait for?

It can be. I know waiting can get old, which is why you have to be intentional in how you view it. Patience is a good thing and a wonderful trait to have—that is why it’s part of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). And if you’re like me, it may be one of your weakest areas. But learn from my mistakes and all the time I wasted being upset when I didn’t need to be. And that season in eighth grade? I look back at it now, thinking how sometimes I would just like to have one more day with that. I had some amazing people I connected with at that time, and it was a really special time in my relationship with God. Now the pressures of high school have set in—which I quickly learned that I put way too many expectations on to be great—and it makes that time in life look amazing. But is it possible that I may think the same about high school one day—or maybe not high school itself, but just that time in my life of being young and having so much ahead of me? I act like that’s a terrible thing, like I want more, now, but the truth is that it really does fly.

I want to enjoy every second because it really does only come once. College, marriage, future dreams—if God has that in store for your life, they’re going to come, trust me, but don’t let the eagerness and anticipation of that paralyze you now. I love to dream, I love making college plans and thinking about my future husband and what I want to do with my writing, and I think that’s totally fine, but the problem comes when you let thoughts of the future keep you from enjoying where God has you right now. I shared all of my revelations about that here in my prayer to God about this year in high school, asking specifically that He’d help me to remember this, and He has been faithful.

I know you want to see results and are probably eager to do more, but trust that God knows each of those feelings and promises to provide (Galatians 6:9). I’ve had so many moments where, when I am least expecting them, God will do something I could have only dreamed of, or when I am at the end of my rope, He will give me that reminder to keep going. That’s not to say we can manipulate God into giving us what we are waiting for right away just by throwing a fit (believe me, I have already tried this, and He sees right through it :D). Because sometimes it is a matter of how much you trust Him and what He’s already promised you, and will you believe that or throw a fit just because it’s not here when you want it? He does want the best for you with everything, for His glory, and He knows what that is much more than we could ever comprehend in our finite, limited minds. It’s not easy in the moment to remember this, but just tell yourself to believe it the most when you don’t “feel” like it. As a teenage girl, I can promise you that feelings are fickle and do not determine the truth (more on this here). Cry if you need to, because sometimes that helps also, but then remind yourself, again and again of the truth: God is working on your behalf. He loves you. He wants the best for you like any loving parent. He has good plans for you. <3 Enjoy what He has blessed you with right now.

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A Unique, Hopeful Plan Just for You

In my last two blog posts, I get a little more personal than normal because I really wanted you to feel that they were targeted specifically at you. I mean, all of my blog posts are written for YOU to bring glory to God and encourage you in your relationship with Him. But I really wanted you to grasp those like maybe you wouldn't another post because they were over some very important topics. In fact, they were letters. From me to you. All about God and His forgiveness and love. Because God wants you to know how deep His love and grace for you is.

These letters are part of a four part post series where I discuss four very important things you must know about: Jesus died for you, God loves you, He has an amazing plan for you, and you have so much hope through Him. It's so hard for me to pick one topic that's my favorite because they're all so wonderful to explore, but I really love looking at the hope, so I can't wait to share that in our fourth and final post.

As a quick recap, we've talked about Jesus dying for you and all your sins as part of his love for you, and then we explored God's love even deeper. Read those letters, written for YOU, here before proceeding to this one:

So now that you know you can be saved and just how deep God's love for you goes, you can believe Him when He tells you He has a great plan for you in Jeremiah 29:11. You can read more about why you can trust Him in this post, but today we're going to specifically focus on His plan. And you may think it's too late. That God's plan for you will never be fulfilled. You may think you've blown it by your sin. I want you to pay attention to this letter I'm writing to you, then, because it's NOT too late, and you can't screw up God's plan.

To whoever is reading this...

Know this:

God has a good plan for your life

How do I know this? He says so! To YOU!

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
— Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

God KNOWS the plan He has for you. You don't have to worry. And this plan is to prosper you. It's not to harm you. It's a hopeful plan. It will give you a future. You may not feel this way at every stage of your life. But keep reading because I'm going to encourage you with what God says.

Maybe that's you right now. You've been working but don't feel like you're getting anywhere. You don't see this good plan. I want you to be encouraged in this verse, here:

‘But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.’
— 2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV

Keep being strong. Do not give up. God will get you through each day (2 Corinthians 9:8), and He will reward you for the work you are doing to seek Him and His plan for you. Your work for him, however small or insignificant you think it may be, is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). It's the little things that change the world. It's you, shining the light of God, everyday of your life to the best of your ability (Matthew 5:16).

In fact, I want you to hear the two verses I cited references for in that paragraph from 1 and 2 Corinthians.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
— 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV

God will give you what you need to do His will. That is a promise right there. And here's the other:

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
— 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV

Stand firm and don't give up. "Always give yourselves fully," it says. Devote yourself to God's plan for you and seeking it everyday, and do not give up because the verse concludes by saying "you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (bold emphasis added).

And if you think this doesn't apply to you, it does. It doesn't matter what you've done in your life. Get right with God, which I talk about in the first letter, and believe in Him when He tells you He has a good plan for you. It doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing, if you are working for the Lord, you will be blessed because that work is not done in vain. Your work will be rewarded (2 Chronicles 15:7), and it shines the light of God (Matthew 5:16). Don't waste that opportunity--it is not too late.

Let's dissect this, now:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
— 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

One of the biggest things Christians need to remember is that our home is not here. I talk about that in this post. We may not see the total outcome of our work done here, but one day we will. We can't lose heart! That is what the above verse says. God is renewing us each day. God is renewing YOU each day. And I love verse 17. We get so fixated on our problems now that we don't realize we've got eternal glory coming, and one day these problems are going to be NOTHING. That is just part of the incredible hope we have, and just wait until we talk about that!! But I can't get ahead of myself here.

I know I've been guilty of letting my problems of this earth paralyze me; what about you? I get so obsessed with the persecution I face, and in that I about forget the eternal glory. I can't. Next it says we fix our eyes on what is unseen. Because I want you to know something: this world is so temporary. It is SO temporary. People die . . . all the time. And what about you? Where is your hope beyond this life? I can answer that: it's in God and Him alone and what He's done for you through Jesus (John 3:16). And "what is unseen is eternal" (bold emphasis added). Don't worry about the problems you face now; look ahead to what is COMING because it is ETERNAL, and it is AMAZING! And we will go all into that when I talk to you about hope.

Please, please, please don't give up. Here it is reiterated again--the good you do does not go unnoticed by God.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
— Galatians 6:9 NIV

What is the key to not "missing" God's plan for your life? Here is what David Jeremiah says:

As we seek God and follow His guidance, He will direct our steps. We don’t need to worry that we will miss His plan for us.
— David Jeremiah

How do you seek God, though? How do you follow His guidance? Proverbs 3 verses 5 and 6 make it pretty clear.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Trust God. Submit to Him. And then trust Him to guide you. There are many ways to submit to God--by reading the Word, praying, obeying Him. Practice all of that on a daily basis. Read more about that here.

Now how amazing is this?

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
— Romans 5:3-5 NIV

These trials we face now are producing perseverance in us. I have witnessed that in my own life multiple times. And then that produces character. And oh, how my character has grown through trials. I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt that I would not be the person I am today having not gone through the crap I've been through. And so I do rejoice because of that. And ultimately, I have found that hope. And that love. And it is amazing. And I want YOU to find it. Sometimes you have to totally fall apart to find it. I did. Multiple times. This summer, when God really showed me that I ONLY need His love and that there is truly hope ONLY through Him alone, I had to break. And He used that brokenness to draw me to Him and show me that, and I am so thankful it happened that way. I don't think I would've gotten it otherwise.

God's love is so much greater than anything here on earth, and sometimes He will break you to show you that. But you need to know that, so I am thankful He did that because He really convicted me and really had me feel the depth of my need for Him. I had a lot of anxiety and hopelessness building up inside of me over the summer, and I learned to depend on HIM alone to help me. And I don't ever want to forget that. So don't forget that. Know that He is all you need, and He will carry you through. The plan He has for you is much better than anything in this life.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
— Ephesians 2:10 NIV

We have good works prepared for us. God has prepared them in advance. Trust Him to carry you through. I also want you to really rest in this:

‘I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
— Job 42:2 NIV

God can do all things. And nobody can destroy His purpose. That's another promise. So you don't have to worry about anyone wrecking His plan for you because He is so much more powerful.

Here is another beautiful truth I want you to soak in:

However, as it is written:

’What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
— 1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

Much like you can't even fathom how deep God's love is, you can't even imagine ("conceive") the things God has prepared for you. So rest in that. We don't deserve that at all, but God is that loving towards us. It doesn't matter how badly you've blown it in your life, let right now be the time you surrender to God and work for Him. If you think it's too late and you've blown God's plan for your life, I'd really like you to hear this quote. I found it the other day, and it opened up my own eyes.

If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this. You, my beautiful friend, are not that powerful.
— Lisa Bevere

Job 42:2 says that exact thing as well. And finally, if you are willing to totally surrender to God's plan for your life, you might lose some things. They are worldly things, but it can still hurt. So just remember this, God also takes that into account. You will be blessed for losing something to obey Him if that's what it takes.

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
— Matthew 19:29 NIV

Wow. That's a pretty powerful promise. And that's what's coming for you, my friend. So don't give up! God is going to guide you through! Trust in His plan! And to end, and this is meant to encourage you:

Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.
— Psalm 49:16-17 NIV

Don't place your hope in things of this world because they have no meaning. Remember, we are to focus on what is unseen! And just remember all of God's promises for YOU that we've gone over. He is so deserving of our praise, so let's give it to Him. We give it to Him not just because of what's in it for us but because that is what He deserves. Our God is so amazing, so mighty, so loving . . . the list goes on. Worship Him because of that. Because that is what He deserves. And trust in His amazing plan for you. It starts right now and never ends.

Your sister in Christ, Ashlee Mae

God is Working

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You know how sometimes you get this really good idea for something, and you know it’s just going to be great, and then it totally fails? That happened to me once. It was infuriating. It was also one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I know. Let me explain.

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I might have actually mentioned this before about how I used to desperately want a website and what not. If you go way back to some of my earlier posts I went in depth about my whole journey to coming to blogging, but right now I want to focus on one part of this.

Related: "I Quit"

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That time I worked with a web designer, and it didn’t work out. I’m going to talk about that - one of the worst and best things ever to happen to me.

God is working. I’ve always believed that. Even when we feel stuck, even when it feels like He’s totally not doing anything, and even when our plans horrifically fail. Especially when our plans horrifically fail. Those are the times where it may feel like God is totally against us, but that is not true. He’s actually protecting us and trying to get us back on track with His plans that are way better.

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I challenge you to thank God for the next time one of your plans go wrong - He’s actually protecting you. Now, this is only the beginning of the post. If you’re totally looking at me with a blank face, thinking, “How in the dang heck am I supposed to be happy when something goes wrong? I just stubbed my toe - REJOICE! REJOICE…!?” That’s not exactly what I mean. Let me tell you my story.

We all have plans. We love making plans according to what we see best. It’s not bad to make plans, but we need to make sure it is God’s will. If we are not sure what His will is, we need to ask Him to make the right decision for us, like when I asked God to make the decision about if I got accepted onto a traveling basketball team I tried out for.

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In the spring before the summer I started this blog, I wanted a website. From a young age, I developed a fascination with social media and websites and posting about my life and mission. Maybe I’m conceited, I don’t know. Anyway, I had a lot of money saved up at that point, and this was the point where nothing I could design for myself would satisfy me. So what is the next logical step? Hire somebody!

Problem is, I didn’t consult God about this. Nope. I didn’t even really have a defined purpose for the site except for the fact I wanted a website, dang it. I was desperate, and I just wanted to have my own site on the internet. I found a designer through a cute website I was looking at. Her portfolio had some sites I thought were very pretty, and she was also affordable. My parents let me do this, and she was all for it. I got put on a waiting list where I had to pay half of the money up front, and then I waited. Clear into late spring or early summer until it was finally my turn.

I was a mess. The waiting just made me overwhelmed with so many design possibilities, and nothing would ever satisfy me. I kept having different ideas, and it was super frustrating. Finally when my turn came, it started getting better. I picked my colors and fonts, and she had designed a super cute logo for me. This was also when I heard of Squarespace because she recommended it to me, and I loved their platform.

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But things started to take a turn for the worse. She just stopped doing it. We were really nice about it and emailed her a few times, and she was nice back, but still nothing really happened. To this day I still can’t really figure out why it decided to bomb with me.  She had many clients before me and received great testimonials. She’s had clients since me and gotten their work done. Of course, at the time, I thought just my luck. Looking back on it now, I think of what a huge blessing that was for it to fail and how God was really looking out for me. Let me explain still.

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I was mad. I was sick of waiting. I wanted my website, and I wanted it NOW! Summer is always the season where many exciting things happen to me, and I wanted to start documenting them for gosh sake! Then I had an idea while I waited.

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I would start a temporary blog. I wouldn’t keep it forever, only until my website was finished. I would use it strictly for updates and hey, I may as well throw my faith in there because we can’t forget about God. The design was just going to be simple - nothing over the top.

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In the meantime, we got fed up with the whole website thing. We did a claim to get our money back (it was actually MINE…), and unfortunately I only got half of it back. The other half was from when we first began, and it was back too far to do a claim. My parents, as the very nice awesome people they are, gave me my other half of money, but that still stinked. However, if I had to make the same decisions over again, I would. I definitely would.

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That temporary, updates only blog became a permanent, faith at the center instead of Ashlee and her conceited self blog, and obviously the design has got face lifted so many times it should be dead. The power of God, people.

I decided I didn’t need a website. God had other plans all along, and when I screwed up, He redirected me to this site here where I take way too many pictures, turn way too many things pink, and talk about Him a lot. I feel no shame in any of these!

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What would have happened if the website did go through? I have a few guesses.

- I would have hated the design. I’m sure the designer would have done an amazing job, but I didn’t know what my brand was. You all have seen how long it took me to figure it out. I mean, dang it! If I would have hired a designer every time I needed a new design, I would have gone into debt as much as I would’ve if I bought all the Uggs I wanted. That is also equivalent to the amount of money somebody who just won the lottery got.

- I would have no idea where I was going. Let’s face it: I totally jumped the gun too early. Writing website? Seriously? I didn’t even have a finished book…

Bottom line: IT WOULD HAVE TOTALLY SUCKED. It’s been awesome watching God evolve my blog and just seeing where He takes it. I think this is a really good example for me personally of God always remaining faithful. He’s what this life is about, not me, and I want to share that here. This is something I’m definitely going to remember heading into the journey of trying to get my book published, and I actually need to remember that for everything in this life.

So I do thank God that the website failed because I honestly don’t know if Sparkles by Ashlee would exist today, and I know God is working through it. So yes, I do thank God. Even though I wanted that fifty dollars, and it wasn’t fair my parents had to sacrifice that… Even so, I still thank God. Sometimes we don’t see the outcome right away, but when you stop and be patient - when you stop and focus on God - you’ll see that He knows what He’s doing. He’s on your side, and He’s got your back. He will be faithful.

Quick Freebie

So today I was designing a cute little geometric background for a friend of mine who asked me to do her new blog design.* It was just a bunch of triangles that would outline her blog like a frame and I just used the colors she picked out. When I was done designing it for her I decided to do one in my colors. Why not? I have some time on my hands, and it might turn out cool. I ended up really liking it and I had some space in the middle, so I wrote my favorite Bible verse (and the one I live by!) down. 

I thought I'd share it here for you all. It's big enough to be a screensaver. So here's your freebie for today, folks! 

*My hidden talent is graphic design and editing images. 2nd dream is to open my own web design business. Codes come naturally to me, same with photo skills. 

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The verse is: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope, and a future." It's pretty obvious how I live by this and why it's my favorite.

So enjoy the freebie, because of my designing hobby there will be many more where that came from!