Dear Future Husband... #2

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*Okay people, time for the post I've been promising forever. You better read this post here before continuing!!! :)

**I am looking over that post linked above as I write this to see how embarrassing my first letter was and give me a guide to embarrass myself yet again in this letter! Why do I post these, you ask? Well, for one, they're fun. Second off, I have this romantic fantasy that somewhere off in la la land my actual future husband may just stumble across my blog and read this post as it is published. Of course I completely doubt this, but let me dream. And lastly, on a more SERIOUS note, the biggest reason I share these publicly is because as I get older, I am more convinced that it is immensely important for girls to actually think about their futures like this. In a culture full of hooking up and failed relationships, there definitely needs to be a conversation about becoming the types of people we want to be in a relationship and also what to look for in a partner. What I'm looking for might scare you (and him, too, haha), so let's continue already!!!

(And just FYI, I still don't date yet, except I think maybe possibly my parents said I can date when I'm 16? HA, at the time I’m finally getting around to finishing this, I am 16!!! Haha it's irrelevant anyway as I highly doubt anyone will show up for me in a year, but I suppose you never know. Anyway, as a young girl, younger than I am now, I blogged about why not rushing into dating at such a young age is important in a blog post here. And I still stand by that. But I definitely don't think it's a sin to dream, pray, or write to your future husband. So write away and maybe post it online so you can embarrass yourself with me in ten or twenty years or so.:)

-This is coming completely sporadically from my brain with the prompting of some past notes I've wrote at 12:36 am as of right now and is probably not going to be finished tonight, as of June 15, 2018, because Grandma is already whining to me about going to bed. This is going to be wonderful, haha! My brain always comes up with its finest past midnight, so brace yourselves. :)

-Okay, it’s now March 11, 2019 (it will still be later than that when I publish this…), go me, here we go again finishing blog posts I started almost a year ago. Maybe my next letter will be more coordinated. We can only hope. :) And also, time flies. And also, Timeflies is the name of the singers who sing my future wedding song, “All the Way.” <— I discovered this song at a hockey game, and it’s going to be in MY wedding, so don’t steal it from me. ;)

Dear future husband!

Hello! Have I scared you off already with my intro to this post? No, you are going to love this letter, I promise, and you'll want to frame it. ;) I hope you've already read the first letter I wrote to you because I'll be referencing it here throughout. Also, do you know it's my biggest pet peeve in the whole wide world when people don't respond to me? Well now you know the quickest way you'll get divorced, you're welcome!

Ha, maybe I shouldn't already be talking about divorce before I even know who you are? Yeah........................................ I'm sure that hasn’t showed you that I'm wife goals as of right now. Moving on...

My previous letter told you that I think about you all the time, which is still true, of course I do, just like I daydreamed about high school (ha...I bet that sounds like a joke to you) and like I do now with college. I've always found excitement in the future events of life that I have to look forward to. Not the waiting, though. NEVER the waiting. Gosh, I hate waiting for things. Another character flaw I have is that I've always seemed to want to grow up faster, and I don't know if that's a good thing or not because one day I'll probably regret it. But I really do look forward to the days of loving you. Geez, does that sound sappy and too deep? Well, I have no life, you know; I spend my days after school doing this, haha. In all seriousness, though, the closer I get to God, the more I ponder the beauty of what marriage should be. It is supposed to be a symbol of His love for us, you know. I think that's pretty amazing and how He gives us these desires.

Before we continue, I have something very urgent to tell you. Okay, so you know my look alike theory? It's actually not my theory—I just saw it online somewhere—but I have so much evidence to prove it. At the time I wrote my first letter, I had just discovered the first guy to go into the seven look alikes of my one crush that is never going to happen unfortunately. Well good news for you, I found two more! That means there's only four left, so I hope you're one of them! :)

Uh, actually, update from me in March, I’ve found so many hot guys I can’t marry that fit my “type” it’s not even funny. It’s really not; it’s actually quite tragic. But I know you’ll be the best of all, so that gives me hope! :D

Yes, looks are still important to me to the dismay of my grandma, who is always lecturing me about personality over external beauty, haha. You know I'm all about the aesthetics! Apparently when I was a little girl, I threw a fit because I didn't get the gumball I wanted, and my mom had to carry me out of a store "like a football." My guess? The color wasn't pink. That is how I am going to feel if you don't have brown, curly hair or nice muscles. No pressure or anything.

Okay. Don't worry, I'm not expecting you to look like a Calvin Klein model or anything, even though I do have some pictures of one of those in my "Guys" folder on my laptop. I have my own "type" I go for, and seriously, brown curly hair and toned muscles is just about what does it! I've studied the millions of crushes I've had over my sixteen years, and those are very common characteristics. You don't have to be a supermodel to look like that; I have found plenty of everyday people who fit my type. Four to be exact! No, actually, a lot more than that, so I have no worries you’ll be one of them.

Okay so that is going to be phase one of the test in determining if I even go on a date or not, so seriously, if you're reading this, don't sweat it. You fit my type—there's no way I would be marrying you if you didn't. ;) Mom says that my liking guys based on how they look is something I will grow out of? Yeah, I don't think so. I've cared about how my guys look since as long as I can remember; I think that's just a shallow trait I have. ;)

Anyway! Enough about that. Believe it or not, I do have meaningful things to tell you.

I have learned so much since that first letter I wrote you, about what marriage is truly designed for, about what I want ours to portray, and most of all, what God wants and thinks of marriage. What He wants for us. Because sometimes, my feelings and longings for marriage are so intense that I worry it’s become an idol for me. And then I feel guilty, but the guilt still doesn’t cancel out the longing. Then I talked with the people I am closest to and trust their advice about God and my relationship with Him, and I read a lot. And I realized that those desires are human and put there by God Himself. I know marriage can become an idol like any natural desire if it gets put ahead of Him. But here’s the thing: I don’t want a marriage that doesn’t end up leading me closer to Him. All of my dreams, all of my desires, marriage itself, truly, is a reflection of the unconditional, perfect love everybody wants and that God alone provides. The marriage I want is one that is going to be a reflection of that. So how can that desire be bad? It’s not.

Patience for me is another story. I have to trust that God knows what I want and that He’ll provide it when He sees fit and, in the meantime, not make it an obsession or idol of mine. I dream about you and pray for you all the time. I’ve felt called to do that by God for a long time. The key with humans is that we have to have someone to love us and someone else to love, which is not a bad thing; it’s precisely how God wired us. When I think of you, I think of how God is making me for you, and He’s making you for me. I’m a rather passionate, intense person, and I want my love for you and our love for each other to be the same. I want to go all out because life is short, but one of the greatest gifts is that partnership and bond that God has put in lots of people to have. I don’t want to be lazy. Marriage is a gift that should be treasured and invested in, like the way I invest in writing or a career and even more so than that because we’re talking about loving another person, the person God has trusted me with to love and respect—YOU.

Life is hard, but what a gift it is to do life with someone who understands you, who you can connect with deeply about the meaningful things and work with together to overcome struggles. I’ve been blessed to get a good taste of what that’s like with my own family, but I want it with you, too, and I want our struggles to always drive us to be better, to chase after God harder, to love each other deeper. That’s how He designed it!

And this love is possible no matter who you are, what you’ve done, or anything. If you know God, and I know you will, then I know you’ll come to grasp this, and what a beautiful thing that is. I pray for you to make good choices, wherever you are right now, but I understand that sometimes making bad choices is what can bring you to your knees and see your need for Jesus, so if that’s what it takes for you, I won’t hold that against you. As long as you end up learning how to treat a girl! And learning how to treat a girl is only found through loving God. You can’t go by what the world says to do because the world doesn’t have a clue about mature, deep love that everyone craves but doesn’t know how to give. That comes only from knowing God. And I pray that you will know Him and love Him and that we can live and do life together to please Him. It’s the best way possible to live and has given me so much joy, even when I do feel utterly alone. So I cannot wait to share that with you. And we’re going to hockey games, I hope! I’m still praying you’re a hockey player, so if everything works out, hopefully I’ll be watching you. ;)

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I cannot tell you how lonely I feel sometimes or how much I long for the true love God has instilled in every person the desire for. And I constantly feel bombarded by lies, that I have to get a guy’s attention by being immodest, that love does not exist in the long term, etc. But none of that is true. True love might be rare, but it’s definitely out there for anyone who is willing to put in the time to cultivate it. And I will. I hope I already have through the way I live. And I pray you do, too. Because that is what I want for us more than anything, is built upon God’s love, which is true love. I can’t wait to see what God will do through our love and change our lives with it. I won’t settle until I know you have this true love because it’s out there. Everyone wants it, but very few will work on their own hearts first and actually get themself into the condition to be able to truly love someone because it’s not easy whatsoever and requires total surrender of oneself to God and to the person they love. But I’ve been praying I can do that.

It’s hard for me to fathom, sometimes, a guy who will be able to love me like that. I’m a complex person—but who isn’t—and I care about my relationships immensely because I know the most beautiful moments in life are surrounded around people, the way God intended. And I don’t just want surface level relationships; those are my biggest pet peeve. I want to stalk you and know everything about you. ;) Haha, seriously though, I want us to be best friends. I want us to care deeply about the other’s past, what we’ve missed with each other, learn and study each other and create a deep bond together in the present, and pray for and want to be apart of the other’s future, no matter where it takes us.

There are days I get really tired of waiting. There are days I doubt if God even wants me to get married. But in the end, I know these are just that, doubts. God has created you for me, I know that for a fact, and He’s working on me right now, to make me for you. Why? Because He’s given me the desire for a bright, raw love that is almost unheard of nowadays. And that comes directly from knowing Him and who He is, which IS love. I’m so very restless in everything, but I have to be careful not to settle. The world will say men of this intensity and maturity don’t exist, but you do. You do because you know Jesus and not just of Him but actually love Him and want to live your life for Him. And that’s the key to any other admirable quality being multiplied in a person.

I have huge dreams, for our marriage, for my life…and I have to believe that God knows all of them and is going to bring them to be in His timing because they all honor Him. I hope you have your own dreams, too, dreams that you trust God with, and I pray for yours, also, regardless of what they are. I pray for you all the time, and it’s weird not knowing who you are or what you’re doing, but I’ve learned again and again how just because I cannot see something doesn’t mean it isn’t out there or God isn’t doing anything. Just the opposite. So I know you’re out there, and I know God is at work on you right now, even if, at the time I write this, you don’t know Him yet. You will, and I know you’ll be so thankful once you do.

I pray for a grand story for us because I’m a writer, so I live for coming up with stories, and I have both realism and idealism at work in my personality, so while I want something practical, I also get a thrill of doing things that sound impossible. Because God can do anything, so I’m asking Him to go all out with you and me, to make both of us bright lights for His glory, and for our story—whatever that yet may be—to also be something beautiful for His glory. God has a unique story for everyone, as people I look up to have told me, and I know that is true for us. We will have our own special story, and since both of us will be pursuing God, there’s no limit to how beautiful that may be.

In fact, when I published my first letter to you, a sweet girl read a part of it and then was kind enough to reach out to me and tell me how she enjoyed my blog and also that she believed God would send me a guy who is the number one follower of my blog. You know I have this dream that you read every single blog post of mine? It’d be wonderful of you to do that. My first post is here, then you can just hit the next link at the bottom and read through my whole blog. And perhaps leave a comment on each one, you know, so I know you actually did it. :)

That may be a little much, but that is how I want our love to be. God went all out for us, so the least we can do is try and go all out for each other. That is marriage at its best, is pure, unconditional love that never gives up on the other person. It’s not about ourselves, so whatever you want me to do, just tell me, and I’ll probably do it. :)

Above all, knowing God will lead us to be the best people we can be, to have that perfect balance of work and play in life because that’s what I truly want, a partner who I can adventure with and go out with and do all sorts of fun things with but also someone who’s mature enough to know when certain types of “fun” are inappropriate and won’t sacrifice morality and serving Jesus for temporary things this world preaches.

I really want to get married. And I definitely don’t want to idolize marriage. Truly, I don’t. But I definitely think it’s a calling of mine or else I wouldn’t be writing this letter. ;) I’ve been boy crazy from a rather young age, and while I definitely have to keep that in check and not make bad choices as a result, that is a good thing when I think about you and preparing to meet you one day, but I do have to learn not to worry or get overwhelmed about things that aren’t here yet. It’s something I’m guilty of, and I want to live in each moment. I know I’ll enjoy every moment of being with you, but they’re not here yet, and no matter how many fits I throw about waiting, they’re not coming any sooner. So I may as well enjoy the season I’m in right now and use this time to prepare, to be shaped by God, to do all the things and fulfill all the dreams He wants me to and has laid on my heart. Right now, for me, that means writing, education, and always developing as a Christian, of course. They may not seem like big things to me right now, but they will be. I know God is going to use those “small” things to guide the rest of my life, mold me into the person I need to be to do all He’s called me to do—including being there for you—and I want to be present in that. I also pray for you, that right now at whatever season you’re in, it will be a season God works on your heart and develops you and prepares you to be the guy He wants you to be and do the things He wants you to do. And I can’t wait to hear about your dreams, goals, and how He does work in your life. Life is about Jesus, and I pray your life will reflect that and mine will, also.

I continue to pray for you, that God will help you develop a strong foundation on Him alone and then bless you with others as well, that He will help you develop good morals, undying hope in Him and His plans for you, a positive, healthy mindset, and passion and ambition to never give up in life. I also pray that He’ll mold you into the man He wants you to be, a leader for His glory, because I truly look forward to following your lead. Though I consider myself a pretty independent person, dependency has its place in life, and contrary to what the world says (there are two extremes), you can (and should!) depend on certain people—you being one of them for me—but the world also goes to the other extreme and makes dependence on another person everything, like you can’t survive without them. That’s not true, but I definitely can’t wait to have you in my life and have that godly dependence on each other that is healthy in the bond of marriage. So please take the best cares of me; even though I’m a moody drama queen sometimes, having someone secure enough in his walk with God means everything to me, and I’ll be forever grateful for your leadership, guidance, reassurance, and wisdom you help me with.

Patience, of course, is not one of my strong suits, and in the waiting I tend to doubt everything about my life, including if you even exist. But God has shown me time and again how He provides when I just let go and let Him. I know when His timing says it’s right, our love and our story will be beautiful. I won’t know quite how my prayers and these letters will affect you until God brings it altogether, but I know He will because when He calls us to do things like this, there’s always a reason and a purpose. I still feel lonely at times, and I still get upset with life. I’m learning that’s okay. I’m learning it’s all part of the process of becoming more mature, of being ready to handle things for the future, of being stronger in Christ. And I pray He will help you with this, too.

I pray you talk to Him, too. Constantly. I have no way of knowing where you happen to be at in your life right now, but the sooner you can find Jesus, the better. Regardless, however old you are when you read this or find this, I hope you will not wait any longer in surrendering your life to Him. He loves you so much, more than I ever could, and that relationship with Him is what will define your life in the best ways possible, more than you can imagine. I know because I’ve been there, and the journey I’m walking with Him is amazing. He wants that with you, too, and so do I, and I’m not marrying you if you don’t have Him, so then there’s that. ;) Haha but really. I wouldn’t emphasize it as highly as I do if I thought it wasn’t important and going to be for your best. God is literally who we're made for, and then marriage is a reflection of that, a gift He gives out of His love for us.

Also, there is something important you should know: take me shopping. Like I literally need you to, there’s no way our relationship can thrive without this. I even read an article about things husbands can do for their wives to improve their marriage, and this is actually on it. And it says it should be for “fun things”—GROCERY SHOPPING SUCKS AND WILL NOT CUT IT. And it’s not about being practical, like my mother thinks. You don’t go shopping for what you need, you go for what you WANT. The article also says you should be happy while doing this and flirt with me and don’t even worry about the money. That would literally make my life and our marriage. That’s all it takes for me. Yep, just write me a check and call it good. :’)

As I wrap this up, there actually is another personal letter I wrote you after a hockey game one night. You’ll get that when we meet, too, but here is the key points I want you to know from it: “I think about you and dream about you all the time. I need to get better at praying about you, though, I’ll admit. As awesome as I’m sure you are, God is always going to be my first love, and I don’t want to be obsessed with you. I don’t want you to be obsessed with me, either. I pray we’re passionate about each other and passionate about loving and caring for each other, but I pray that beyond and above that our hearts are always putting God first. Life is only rich with Him. Do you know that? I’m praying you will. Right now.”

By the way, patience was as much a struggle for me when I wrote that at 14 as it is for me now….

I’m going to unapologetically have high standards for you. I want you to have them for me, too, because I want us to constantly strive to be the best we can be for God’s glory. I’m not saying we have to try and earn each other’s love or God’s by being good (that’s totally not the case!), but our love should be expressed for each and for God by the way we live our lives.

You’ll get a lot more when we meet, so this is just a summary while you’re waiting. I sincerely hope you’re better at that than me. Do you know there really are people who are patient in the world? I find it hard to believe, but there really are. I need those people in my life. But if you’re not… It’s fine, we can just cry together about waiting for everything. ;)

I always like to include a little blurb about what I’m doing with my life right now, and I wish I had some amazing things to tell you, but God makes me wait for literally everything. :) That’s where we’re at, but it’s fine because I know the best is yet to come from Him. Including you, awe. <3 I’m almost done with my sophomore year of high school—still crazy to believe, as I can still remember driver’s ed from the fall and how forever ago that feels now—but that’s okay. I’m ready for summer so I can continue to spend my entire life on the internet writing things like this! I am about 3/5 of the way through with my second novel, I have actually been leaving my blog design alone because unfortunately I don’t have time to mess with it every day like I did when I was 12, and that’s about it. I spend too much time shopping and at hockey games, but without those, my mental health would be nearly gone, so it’s all good. They’re God’s gifts to me to survive the other work and grind of life. :)

In the meantime, I am going to keep dreaming and dying without you. Literally. There is this song called “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, and it’s really good and we should have it at our wedding or something, but this one lyric in particular says, “I have died everyday waiting for you.” Is that not literally me. Because I have no patience so everyday without you really is a struggle for me and is slowly killing me. :)

I still love pink. I love sparkles. I am going to pinkify and sparklify our house. Oh my gosh, I had such an awkward conversation with my mom about this when we walked into a certain store… You’ll have to remind me to tell you about it. We still are having a chandelier in every room. I don’t have much decided about our house as of yet, but the chandeliers are set in stone. There’s also this adorable ruffly bright pink comforter I found on Macy’s about a month ago, but don’t worry, I think I’m going to have it in my dorm room one day instead…because I’m sure there’s nothing you’d love more than a neon pink ruffly comforter to sleep under, am I right?! :)

Waiting really does kill me, though, but God is surely helping me with it! Every time, though, that I’m at a hockey game, or I’m shopping, or I’m bored in school…I always think about you and pray for you. It really is a beautiful thing, to marry the person God has for you, and I long for it quite a lot. Probably more than I should for the given time and that’s why waiting is killing me, but nonetheless, I can’t wait to meet you, pray with you, do life with you and love God with you. :) I have a tendency to make everything I write a book, which is fine for my career, but for everyone else’s sake I better cut this off here, though I literally could write you a book. I’ll probably put you in one of my books, so you better treat me like the angel I am!

With all the love God has put in me for you,

Your future wife, Ashlee

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10 Unknown Facts About Me

This post is a little different from what I normally write about, but I know I always find it fun to be able to learn more about the bloggers I follow, especially “random” facts that may not seem like anything significant but end up defining a person. I’ve had this idea in my queue for awhile, and since I don’t know how many of you are new around here, I thought it would be a good time to share some random, unknown facts about me! So I won’t tell you I love pink because you can all see that if you have eyes. :D

1. Dayne and Katy, from the Baxter Family series by Karen Kingsbury, are by far my favorite literary characters, especially Dayne. That series by her is also my favorite, and I’ve been dreaming of a love story like theirs since I read it, at the ripe age of 11! It’s about an actor who is very wild, but he goes to this small town because of family ties and he sees this sweet, Christian girl who stays in his mind even after he goes back to Hollywood. Long story short, I’m not going to spoil anything, but it’s a wonderful series. And one of the themes in it is that God can do anything, change anyone, cross anyone’s paths, so… Dream big and pray for mine haha. :)

2. I have a thing for guys with brown, curly hair. That’s obviously not the only factor I take in to consideration, and just because a guy has that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be attracted to him, but my look a-likes all have this, as do most of the guys I seriously crush over.

3. A few of my favorite places: Estherville, Iowa, which I talk all about here as to why, Okoboji, Iowa, a small, summery beach town with the lakes that attracts tourists, and I somehow think I am getting a house here one day (yes, pray for me, I wasn’t kidding when I said my dreams are much too big) and Des Moines, Iowa, because I love the views of this city and have so many good memories and fun times that have taken place here (to be wrote about soon!!).

4. I want a castle for a house (not in size, necessarily—think architecture). I also somehow think this is going to be my primary house and still have one in Okoboji… I love the look of those houses, though, that have those towers and look fancy and modern yet have that gothic styled architecture to them… I don’t need a mansion by any means, but a nice house with that style and one of those towers would be lovely.

5. I want a destination wedding. I’ve been dying to go to the Bahamas since forever, and I have talked about that multiple times, but I think actually getting married there would be amazing and something to remember forever as an experience. I have so many wonderful ideas for my wedding; I’m just going to tell my husband not to worry about doing a thing—except paying the bill for it all. :)

6. I could work in a mall easily. Maybe I will when I’m in college because I know an embarrassing amount of things about my favorite stores. I know all of their collections, I know all tips and tricks for various types of styles, and I’m equally passionate about everything they make so getting people to buy would come naturally! The major problem to this is that my paycheck would probably be gone before I even left work, so then there’s that.

7. I have an obsession with fragrance. It’s almost creepy because when people smell good, I can just tell and I just want to be around them to smell whatever they’re wearing. I have way too much fragrance in my room, probably like ten different things of it not counting the rollerballs. I can’t wait to buy my boyfriend a million different types of cologne!

8. I live for both the simple and finer things in life, if that even works. I love designer items and anything fancy or glamorous or basically whatever a fashion blogger talks about #onit, but it also doesn’t take MUCH to make me happy. As much as I enjoy getting those expensive things (when they go on sale haha), I do not NEED them to be happy. I could buy something as simple as a new nail polish, and that makes me happy. I try to appreciate whatever God gives me. It makes every single thing that much sweeter, especially when I actually do get a “bigger” item because you develop that appreciation for the little things in life and happiness that is not dependent on material things, so then getting something like that can be enjoyed in its proper place.

9. My whole life is a paradox: while I am an introvert and need my space, I have a need for adventure or else I get restless, and I love the city life! I try to always keep a balance of things. I’ve found that to be the key. I feel like I am a balance of things, honestly. I like to work, but I like to play, and too much of either one leaves me agitated. The good thing about that is it’s helped me learn to balance things out and take breaks when I need to of both.

10. My personality = both a realist and idealist. Hopefully some of this comes off in my posts, but I try to look at things for what they are and not sugarcoat them. With that being said, I’m a romantic and have the most unpractical dreams, so it gets hard managing the two. VERY hard. There’s a lovely quote on Pinterest I saw that talks about my personality (as identified by the Myers-Briggs quiz) being caught between these two things and, as a result, that can lead to us feeling anxious and fearful, depressed, cynical, insecure, restless, meaningless, and hopeless. Isn’t that special! #personalitygoals

It has been good, though, for me, as in some ways it’s the best of both worlds. I don’t have a distorted reality, but I also have the ability to think beyond what is. Because with God, anything is possible. It has had its challenges, though, and God has used that to strengthen me.

It works both ways. Sometimes, God has had to bring me back down to earth because my idealism wants to get lost in dreaming about the future and looking to what’s next or jumping ahead, and He wants me to enjoy what is happening right in front of me. On the other hand, sometimes my realism leads me to feel very pessimistic and stuck with situations, and I doubt that God can do more than I imagine, but there have been times where He’s showed me I just may never know all He’s doing and that He can open doors that don’t seem practical whatsoever, but He can do it because He can do anything. It’s all about balance!

Now, tell me about you! I love hearing from all of you! Thank you for getting to know me. :)

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Another Letter To...

A little over a year ago I wrote this letter to my future husband. I just reread it again and kind of cringed in some parts, but oh well. We're going to do this again so that one day I'll have more cringing to do!! Yay! I also think one day I may (or may not) look back on these and be glad I wrote them. I guess only time will tell!

Dear future husband...

One thing I noticed about that last letter is that it wasn't very serious. Some of it was. And I'm all for being fun and witty and all that great stuff, but I don't know if this one will be like that for two reasons. First of all, that letter was written a year ago. I'd hope there'd be a difference. Second, I guess I just see the world differently. I was passionate about my faith last summer, but I've gotten even more serious now.

For one thing, I didn't go to church at that time, nor did I think I needed to. I kind of looked at the Bible and looked at it in such a perspective that would make me feel good. I didn't go to church and didn't want to, so I told myself I didn't NEED to. I excused a lot of my own sin and a lot of my family's sin because I didn't want to change, and I didn't want to confront people. Thank goodness I grew out of that little phase.

Now I try to eliminate sin as much as possible, and when others sin, I don't want to take it lightly, meaning that I don't excuse it. I will still give them grace and mercy as God does, but I'm not going to say it's okay. It's not. And neither is my own sin. And I'm done living in it because Jesus didn't die just so I could keep remaining stuck in my sin.

So with that being said, I'm also a lot more serious about my faith. And I'm thankful for that because I believe you're either growing closer to God or farther, and I don't want to be farther. 

I'm also a lot deeper. I always was, but I'm getting more and more that way just because I like to ponder verses and keep that fresh in my mind. Basically, I like to talk about everything people shy away from. If you want to talk about anything controversial, chances are I want to be in that conversation because I like to fight people. Jk. I'm just really passionate about my beliefs not so that I can prove people wrong but just to show them how much God has helped me. I could write a book about it, and I will!

But enough about me. This whole me being deep thing also leads me to thinking about you a lot. Awwww. Yeah, I know, and you better be doing the same thing. ;) But seriously, there's not a day that goes by where I DON'T think about you or pray about you. Except for when I fall asleep during my prayer. Whoops. That is NOT THE POINT, though. Fine, I'll say extra prayers tonight. Jeesh.

Now, if you're sick of this already, you are going to have a long life because this letter is just getting started. Let's start with the funny stuff because (a) I can't resist and (b) gotta have balance.

Ha, let's get a dog! Poor Willy... Living with my brother is hard... See! All kinds of fun!

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So I've already told you about me now, but one day when I look back on these, I want to know how I changed and where I was at, so here's a little about me now. I still write and will probably always write. That is definitely the thing I love. I've had many little phases and hobbies and things I thought were my calling but could not be farther from my calling. Things such as...

Being a pet groomer, being an Olympic athlete both in swimming and gymnastics (I went through both of the phases at different times, though)... And I've had thoughts of being a YouTuber or vlogger, a journalist... I've thought about doing something with travel like I don't know, being a flight attendant. I've thought about doing sports and having that be the way I glorify God. But none of that stuff clicks with me. Not at all.

I've tried doing videos so many times, and despite the fact that I think I sound like an idiot, the passion just isn't there. For awhile I was really eager to travel, but now I'm just thankful where God has me... For awhile I clearly wanted sports to be my thing: swimming, gymnastics, basketball, running... I'm definitely not going anywhere with swimming or gymnastics, and maybe if I really tried with basketball I could do something there, but I don't want to. I really feel like I don't need to. Waking up super early and spending my entire week doing basketball practices where all I can think about the entire practice is how I want it to end so I can go write that blog post/book/writing idea/devotional/etc.

I do like to run but only for fun, and HELLO. 683 some donuts (and counting!) later, I have to burn that off somehow. And now Mom is running with me so that is a huge win!

My point is that writing is what I want to do. I feel like I can glorify God best when I'm writing. I did finish my novel and am ready to query. Problem is, I don't know who to query to. At all. There aren't many Christian agencies accepting queries from new authors, so I don't know what to do except pray and work on my second novel. Whatever is God's will and in His timing.

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So here's the thing: time is going fast

Way to state the obvious, right? Well, it's true. And I say it a million times because for a lot of people this doesn't register. The reason I am so focused and dedicated on writing is because time is going fast, and throughout this letter, I'll tell you more about the spiritual battles we're in, but now is not the time to focus on things that won't mean anything. I want to be careful when I say this because what I don't want to say is that every single thing you do has to have a purpose.

It's not a sin to have some fun and play a game of basketball or something even if you know it's not going anywhere. The point that I want to make is I'm not going to spend three some months of my life spending my entire evenings on a sport that I will not be doing anything with. I'm all about having fun, but I can have fun with writing and glorify God while I'm doing so, so I want to manage my time well on this planet because time is fleeting (Psalm 102:11).

Since time is going so fast, one of the biggest things I pray for you is that you would know Jesus. NOW. You might be in high school, or you might be in middle school; I don't care. I want you to know Jesus right now because we are in a battle right now (Ephesians 6:12), and we need to be alert now. We must know the Bible and what it says. We must live out our faith (Matthew 5:16).

That's what I pray for you now especially. I pray that you would have the desire to know God and His Word. I pray that you would be a light NOW. I pray that God would give you wisdom and protect you and your faith. I pray that you don't waste your life, and don't waste these years now. Most kids my age, and I'm assuming you're going to be close to my age, don't see the need to do this now. They think they have plenty of time to know God and live for Him later. That's not always the case because each day we are withering away (Psalm 102:11). And we have work to do NOW. But more on that later.

Besides, what good is our faith if we're not living it out (James 2:14)?

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I also pray that the Lord would guide you and encourage you while you walk with Him

If we are living out our faith, we will face trials (John 16:33). But like that verse also says, Jesus has overcome the world, which is why I pray that you would rejoice over that fact. There will also be times when you are sad and discouraged about the world. I've been there. Just recently was there again.

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This leads me to another point: you can't go by your emotions. Let's use my recent trip to my grandparents' house as an example. As I wrote in one of my Instagram captions (by the way, my blog readers need to follow me on Instagram - my favorite social media):

I’ve been processing the past two weeks I spent with my grandparents, and I really had a great time. I did have a lot of expectations, though. Expectations like how it would totally renew my mind and be a blast. That wasn’t always the case. Most days I actually felt the weight of the world and down about so many of the problems we face. But I’m so thankful for my Grams because she got me focused on the only thing that can take care of my problems: the Lord. At the end of each night, I desperately needed to renew my mind with God’s Word. But that’s okay because I need to do that. I did have fun. I had a lot of fun. And I had a lot of good conversations with my grandparents. But I was reminded that they can’t fix my problems. They don’t make me joyful. Only God can do that, and He’s the only one I want to do that. You may not feel happy every day. But if you’re rooting yourself in God’s truth, He will take care of you. He won’t leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6).
— @sparklesbyashlee Instagram

But I'm so thankful for my grandma, who is so wise in her faith; she got me rooted in the truth. She did not yell at me for feeling sad, and she did not just let me sulk my life away either. She didn't try to give me fancy speeches or worldly quotes. She didn't tell me to suck it up and that my sadness was ridiculous. No. She did the best thing she could: she gave me Bible verses. And she prayed with me. That's the hope. That's what we must cling to because Jesus has overcome the world.

‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
— John 16:33 NIV
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When we are together, I am praying that both of us will help lead each other to God because I know that I can't make you happy, and you can't make me happy. And for awhile, if someone asked me, "When you get married, do you expect your husband to make you happy?" I probably would've said no, but deep down, that wouldn't have been the case. Those expectations would still be there. There are still days I have to remember that you can't do that. So you can breathe easy now okay? Because God is showing me that.

In fact, like I mentioned in my caption up there, no one can make me happy. I've struggled so much with friends. I've been praying and looking and longing for a friend that would lead me to God. I haven't found that, so lucky you, I transferred all of my expectations to YOU. Like well, I can't find friends, so I guess my husband will have to be the one to lead me to God. And I do pray that. I pray that I can do that for you. But I got so caught up in needing to have somebody that can do that that what actually happened is I started relying on people to fulfill that need rather than God Himself.

So when I was at my grandparents' house, I started realizing this. And I started thinking about all of the problems in the world. I thought about family members that aren't saved. I thought about friends that aren't saved. I thought about the joy of returning to school and having to do that with only a few friends. There were some situations going on up there that I felt the need to pray over, and all of that just got to be so much that I just collapsed. Because I can't do it. I cannot carry the weight of the world and all its many problems.

Then I started thinking about how people feed their God void. For those who don't know, that's when people are chasing things other than God. And people do this all the time, myself included. I thought the situations going on up there had some perfect examples of people looking to other things to feel their need for God: money, people, a relationship, love (but not God's love), vacations, fulfilling dreams, fun experiences, etc.

I had so much fun up with my Grandpa and Grandma. We had a lot of fun times I'm really thankful for, and I know I will look back on them for many years to come and be thankful. But I could even feel my own longing for God.

For example, the more I read about the sad situations going on up there and the more I pondered all the problems in my life, I became sad. I tried to shake it off. I told myself there's hope. I need to keep going. So I kept living my life. I had fun with my cousins. We went to Okoboji. I bought things. I watched movies. I played on Instagram. I went for lots of walks. And let me tell you something, while I definitely enjoyed all of those things, as soon as they were over, the pain came rushing back in. All of it.

I went for walks with Grandma. I confided in her about all of the things bothering me. She was a huge help, don't get me wrong, and I definitely need people like her. As Christians, we need people that can encourage us with God's Word. That is why I feel so strongly about praying that for us. But even she could not take away the pain. The pain was still there, and it finally came out when I laid down and had a nice long cry.

I don't like feeling sad. Duh. Who does. But there is something kind of cool about those moments when I'm laying there feeling depressed, not knowing what to do about all the pain. Because those are the moments where I have to humble myself before God and admit my need for God because I NEED HIM (John 15:5). And something awesome happens in those moments. I begin to feel His love and His peace embracing me because He is there (Psalm 92:11).

So that is what I pray. I pray that whatever is troubling you now, the Lord would strengthen you and give you a peace. I pray that when I am with you, I would help you in a godly manner by encouraging you with the Scripture and by reminding you of how much you need God, and I pray that you would be encouraged by the fact that He is willing to provide for your needs, including your emotional needs (Philippians 4:19, and I also encourage you to meditate on Isaiah 41:10).

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It's not a sin to be sad (Matthew 5:4), but there is hope (John 16:33), and we have a race to finish (Philippians 3:14). So let's get busy! Now! There are opportunities all around us to be a witness for Jesus, and we shouldn't let them pass us by.

And I'm praying that you will get grounded in God's Word NOW. I have to do that on a daily basis. When I was at my grandparents', every night I so desperately needed to renew my mind and get into the Word. The scary thing today is that so many people don't think they need to be reading the Bible on a daily basis, and many of those people don't read it at all... I actually should write a blog post on why it's so important to study the Bible, but you've heard enough of my rants for the day, so I'll save it for later. You're welcome.

To sum it up, it will help you so much in your life. Actually it will do more than that; it will guide your life (Psalm 119:105). I'm praying God shows you how important that is and that you obey. I pray that for myself, too. I'm also praying that you find some wise, caring, fun, godly people that can encourage you and help you in your faith. I have a group of them at church, and they are awesome! It took awhile before I got them, but God has been faithful, and I know He will provide for your needs.

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We are in a battle (Ephesians 6:12). And we need to start fighting right now; our age does not necessarily mean we can't join the fight (1 Timothy 4:12). So what can we do now to fight the battle? Here is what I pray for both you and myself...

Put on the armor of God

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
— Ephesians 6:13-17 NIV

Fill your mind with good things

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
— Philippians 4:8 NIV

Pray pray pray

This is quickly becoming Grams and I's favorite saying because it's so important.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
— Ephesians 6:18 NIV

Read the Bible

Because I haven't mentioned this at all. ;)

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
— Psalm 119:105 NIV
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But there is joy coming

Like when you meet me :) Or we can look at what the Bible says about joy. I mean I guess that works too...

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 4:18 NIV
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
— Romans 8:28 NIV

But see, we can make each other happy temporarily, but not all days will be filled with sunshine and all the flowers and donuts and yeah, and then what? We must remember where we get our true happiness from before we go to each other looking for that need to be fulfilled. We must remember verses like these:

For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
— Psalm 107:9 ESV
The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
— Psalm 145:14 NIV
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.
— 1 Peter 1:6 NLT

I could go on, but you get the idea, and praise the Lord for this hope we have in Him. So let's persevere. Right now and when we meet. We're going to have trials, but I know you can get through them because you have Jesus. I know you will have him because I'm praying for that. And I cannot wait to fight the battle with you and encourage you and do life with you. But right now I can wait because obviously age, but God also has a plan for me right now. There are things I need to do right now, and the same goes for you. We need to wait patiently for God's timing.

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Now I have to ask you for a favor. There's something you can do for me right now, whenever you read this: pray for me. Please pray that my faith doesn't fail, now or ever. Pray for my faith, that I would continue to walk with Christ, resist the devil, and go and share the gospel and live my life as a light for Him (Matthew 5:16). And pray for me to be a godly wife; pray that I will submit to you and love you and choose you every day. Pray that I can encourage you with God's Word. Pray that I wouldn't be selfish. And I will pray all these things for you.

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Now. See these flowers? I'm expecting lots of these. Especially the pink ones. Also, these are fake. If you're gonna get me flowers, make sure they're real. Flowers make for really good Instagram pictures, and good Instagram pictures are everything. K? K. If you need more ideas on what to do for me when we meet - just read the entire rest of my blog. Does that sound good? Too bad. Just because I didn't talk about being romantic doesn't mean I'm not praying for that either ;)

So I'll see you soon then. Be excited. As I said in my last letter, keep your eyes on the cross. But when we meet...you better look at me sometimes too. I bet you can't wait. I know. Me either. But don't worry, I'll write you a lot more about romantic things I expect, er, that you should do, wedding ideas... Yeah.

Much love, Ashlee

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On This Beautiful Sunday

I'm...

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reading: "Second Chance Summer" by Morgan Matson. I'm not very far, so I don't really have an opinion on it yet. I preordered Karen Kingsbury's Brush of Wings - I love that series! I'm also entered to win this ENTIRE series of hers - the Baxter Family! I loved those books soooooo much. I read them in 5th grade and need to read them again. Pray I win - I never win anything! And do you know how much money that would save me - or my mom, actually? I would DIE if I won!

That actually wouldn't be very helpful because then I wouldn't get to read them. Rethinking this.

hoping: that the weather stays like this!!! Who wouldn't love this weather? Today was beautiful!

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writing: nothing, to be honest. I'm not outlining or scheduling any blog posts - I decided to try writing everything just from my heart this month. (Does that sound cheesy? I know, but I didn't know how else to say it.) I really want to start writing new book ideas and outlines though.

wanting: a Dr. Pepper. And shoes. I have a shoe problem; I think I like them more than clothes, and that says a lot.

listening: to anything. Have you heard this song? You're welcome. I heard it at a hockey game, and Siri was finally useful and told me who sang it.

thinking: about how God works through messes. And that while there may be a lot of trials right now, God is opening a lot of opportunities for me to grow stronger. See also: learning about evolution in science. See also: friend drama. See also: not getting these shoes. See also: my phone exploding because I have way too many pictures. Whoops...

But He is working, and I am so, so thankful. For everything.

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smelling: air. It's good stuff. And maybe smoke because my computer is overheating and burning my legs. #bloggerproblems

celebrating: life and what God is doing. Plus I had a bunch of Arby's cheese sticks earlier, and they were great.

wishing: for these shoes.

watching: letters appear on my computer screen. It's entertaining. And then I was looking for photos to put in this post and remembered some of the HORRIBLE pictures my mom has of me on her phone. Like this one.

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SERIOUS STALKING...

wearing: leggings that got set on fire five minutes ago thanks to my computer. A simple Under Armour shirt. Socks. Go basic or go home.

eating: air. Yummy.

loving: my new boots. And these shoes. ;)

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attempting: to not get lit on fire. My computer is not compassionate whatsoever to me using it all the time for my blog. I'm also trying to organize these ideas for a book series I want to write.

needing: a fire extinguisher. ;)

obsessing over: SHOES!!! I swear that's not an affiliate link; I just want them VERY badly because a) look at the color, and b) they have sparkles on them or engraved into them, whatever you want to call it. But they're there, and I want.

feeling: so, so grateful for God's love and the many blessings I have. My legs are also numb, so there's that. And I'm getting irritated because I have been on level 65 in Cookie Jam forever. I really can't beat it - I can't even come close.

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What are you up to and grateful for this Sunday? Remember how blessed you are, and know that God is working - ALWAYS.

My Worst Photos I've Taken (That I Actually Kept...) of the Year

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Inspired by Sarah from Venus Trapped in Mars's worst food photos she's taken this year, I thought I'd do not just food, but ALL of the worst photos I've taken from 2015. And I actually kept them.

1. Snacks from a rest area I got... Well, if you're going to take a picture of them, at least be creative with it.

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2. WHAT IS THIS?! This is the worst picture of food I've ever seen in my life.

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3. I was trying to do one of those cool a photo of the photo being taken. What a fail.

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4. Oh, I can't even. Doesn't the sandwich look delicious?

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5. What are those...? You'll never know, unless you read this post.

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6. A picture of books. Oh, perfect. Once again, GET MORE CREATIVE.

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7. This is a horrible selfie. Hunter got cut out, and you can't even tell what we're drinking. FAIL.

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8. Trying to take a cool running pic. Obviously it didn't work out. Nice dog hair right?!

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9. This is just awful. This lighting makes me want to puke, you can barely even see Willy, it just sucks!

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10. Trying to take a cute winter picture. Isn't it brilliant? I love how you can totally see what I wanted a picture of.

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What are some of the worst photos you've taken?