Persevering

Tomorrow is the last day of school.

I can't wait. First, summer. Duh. But I need to renew so much. Academically this year has been great except for my horrifying art skills, but per usual, socially it has been much harder.

Some days I feel on top of the world. I feel like I'm finally dealing with my emotions, and I feel like I'm totally confident in my worth in God and His plans.

But then there are days where it all is a train wreck. My emotions slide everywhere... I doubt everything about me possibly being a good Christian...though I know it's not about works, but sometimes I feel like I'm doing nothing to be a light. But I know these are lies from Satan. I believe him way too much, and I've got to work on that.

At the end of the day, I trust in God. I submit to Jesus. Sometimes I think all I do is judge people and expect too much. Then I feel like is it really that hard to find someone I can just get real with in my faith and not scare them to death. I'll be honest, I'm a deep person. I love to have fun, but I really like talking about deep things. I love talking about my faith. I love talking about things most people shy away from. But I have to be careful and respect others' boundaries. But what I want is to find one person my age who also feels the way I do.

So I keep persevering. I keep trusting God when I can't trust anyone else.

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There is one day left of school. It will be okay. This life is such a temporary one that it's ridiculous to get so frazzled about things. But that's what I do, anyway. I've got a lot to learn, but I keep persevering.

This post was kind of everything, and I'm sorry for ranting and what not. I just want you to know you're not alone in the trials you face. I face them too. And I'm a screwed up sinner just like you. But I've been saved by grace, and I'm so thankful.

This post kind of had everything in it. I thought about writing about other thoughts I have, but I'll save them. I'll tell them to God.

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It's a confusing world. There are so many Christians with so many different opinions, and a lot of them aren't even submitting to God, and it's so hard to know what is right anymore or what is judging too much or expecting too much and so on. I could have wrote about all of those doubts I have. Instead, I'm just going to ask for your prayers. That's what I need. I want to pray for you, too, so please get in touch with me somehow and let me know how I can pray for you.

There are so many things even Christians fight about. They fight about what TV shows to watch.... Should you go to church or should you not.... I mean, the list goes on, and it's confusing because we all have different opinions.

Just submit to God. Really submit to Him. Ask Him to convict you where you need to be. Ask Him to let you take criticism, even if that means giving up a TV show you like because it's not good to watch. Just think about how much of a better world it would be.

I don't have all the answers, guys. Some days I think I get more confused than I learn. So I submit to Him. I want what God wants. If that means I have to quit listening to a song I like with a bad message, so be it. If I have to lose a relationship with someone because I confronted them out of love, I'm all for it. I want what God wants. Some days this is easy to do. Some days I'm walking up a hill very slowly. But I just keep walking.

Some days I walk into problems. In a literal way, that would mean bees. Unfortunately the walking into problems thing happens a lot (especially with bees!!!), but I can't run away (like I have done a million times with bees). I must pray and seek God's will. There was a time I literally had to pray Bible verses over my fear of bees. I'm not even kidding. Don't laugh at me; the fear is real. ;)

So yeah. I know this was a deep post, and for some of you, I know those aren't your favorite. I'm sorry, but I just needed to share this. If anything, just so you know you're not alone, and I will pray for you. Keep walking that hill. You won't die; God has you. Unless, of course, you get stung by a bee. Be safe, friends. But even then, cry a little, or a lot, and shake it off. (Literally. SHAKE THE BEE OFF.) Try again tomorrow. God forgives you. He loves you. Seek His will. You're going to be okay.

How Racing is Like Life

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Things don't always go as planned. Sometimes the car will flip, or something else just isn't right. You just have to fix it and keep on going, and do the best you can with God.

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In racing, you can't give up, and it's the same with life. Some seasons are awesome, the car is working great, you're faster than ever, and it is just the best time ever for you. But sometimes, it doesn't add up. It's one thing after another with the car, you don't finish a race, etc. You can't give up. When something breaks, you have to fix it and then get back out there. Sometimes you won't finish the race - that's why you come back. Sometimes the crashes are so bad you have to take a break. Well, it's the same in life. You do the best you can with God, and sometimes it is one thing after another. Keep going. When you don't finish the race, come back next time. Sometimes you have to take breaks in life and wait for God to help you and guide you. That's okay. The good seasons don't last forever, but neither do the bad.

Everyone needs to have hobbies and embrace them. My family has been enduring some trials recently, and a night at Knoxville was good for us. Racing is something we all like to watch, and the boys like to be in on the action too (helping in the pits, not driving, just to be clear). It's important to have things that you like, and it's even more important to work at them. Writing is my hobby, and it helps me a lot. I have quite a few posts in my drafts saved that aren't ready to be published yet, but they help ME. They help me relieve stress by both writing and reading them. Eventually I'll tell you about the trials, I just don't feel like it's the right time now.

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Sometimes the races get rained out. Sometimes we miss an opportunity in life. Maybe you get rejected from something you wanted, you screwed up with something in your life, etc. It's okay, because God has good plans for us. Even when we screw up, even when it feels like something we wanted was "rained out" and so on, God will forgive us and give us second chances. He has plans for every one of you, good ones, and no man can stop them in this world.

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The races are better when you're with someone, even if that's just one person. It's the same with life. Family is the most important thing under God. Spend time with them and have fun, even when things don't go right. At the end of the day, they're what matters most besides your relationship with God.

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People will make you mad when you are racing. Maybe you encounter someone who is a poor sport, someone plain cocky and ignorant, etc. Wouldn't you just love to ram your car into them, or from the stands, see them flip five million times? Oh yes, I just said that. Harsh, I know. Obviously you can't do that (and if you do then you are one of the people who people would like to ram their car into, but notice how they don't). I encounter plenty of mean people and cocky people all over when it comes to the internet, sports, etc. "You just missed your shot, get with it!" *shoots at head, bonk* "Oh yeah, you're right. Sorry about that. I'll get with it and get you some ice." Okay, that never happened, no one said that to me, and I'd never do that. But you get the idea. You just have to be the light and aim the basketball a foot away, just to freak them out... Then yell to watch where they're standing. I just turned that into basketball, whoops.

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Sometimes it's loud, and you need ear plugs. There's no point to tie in with life except for the fact you need to buy ear plugs if you're a wuss like me. Ugh, my ears literally bleed without them.

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Sometimes the races can get long and boring. If you're gonna wreck, then I want to see flips. No more of this yellow crap. You hit the wall, oh boy. Keep going. Is it that I know nothing, but why do they have to slow down for that? One time a car just hit the wall not even hard at all! I mean, really. Anyway, sometimes it seems you can get stuck in life, too. You might have thoughts like I don't know what I want my life to be, none of my dreams are coming true, so now what do I do, I just bounced off the wall a little, and I'm just gonna make everyone slow down now because I have nothing better to do. These are times when you have to ask God for guidance, take a risk and make something happen (according to His will, of course), or you just need to enjoy life where you are. Although please, not from the stupid wall. I just can't take that anymore.

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In life, you need to save money, so that you can go to the races and blow it on the amazingly delicious 100% perfect investment chicken. I learned this the hard way unfortunately. If you can't get the chicken, may as well get the cookies. Oh, the cookies. The pizza isn't too bad either. Except for when a stupid wasp lands on it. Am I going to swallow a needle now or some sort of wasp pee? No but really, it's important to save. I've got a shopping weekend coming up with my bestie, and I'll probably have ten bucks left over. Well, that's something...

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Okay, I'm done racking my brain for intelligent things to say. The bottom line is this: the races are a fun time, and so is life. Except for when it's not *ahem, people who tap the wall and make everyone slow down*. You can still choose to go to the races and have fun even when life chucks trials at your head. You can still choose to buy chicken when everyone's twirling around the track *ahem, MOM* so yeah. I'm going to sign off now and pray I get back on Saturday, but I think I'm busy. It'll probably be another two years before I get that chicken. Oh, and the best things come through. At the end of the race you get to go in the pits and meet your favorites or wish you were in bed. So at the end of the race comes your bed. See, all the best things. And if you win, you get trophies and money and publicity. And if you lose, you still get your bed. It all works out.

Keep Going

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This post, truly, is kind of going to be a bunch of random ramblings. I've got a whole list of blog posts I could write, but now none of them seem fun to write at the time. I haven't blogged in forever, and I don't know why. 

Maybe some of my responses *or excuses* are I'm too busy, I don't know what to write about, or I don't have any readers.

I'm not busy. I have plenty of time each night to write a post, and I have a whole list of posts to write. Maybe I just need to break it down, plan them out, and make them more interesting to myself. And, I do have readers *Hi family! And while we're at it, you know how you guys always say you want my writing to reach people? 99% of bloggers recommend Twitter and say it is the best social media platform to make your posts go viral...!*

It doesn't matter how many readers you have. Well, it kind of does to me, and I'm sure it would you too...but it doesn't change the fact that you might have a great blog with great content, and some people just can't find it that easily. *Ahem! TWITTER IS CALLING MY NAME!!* Or, maybe it just needs to be linked a few more places. Or, maybe you just need to find the right people. My point in saying this is get a Twitter - wait, no. My point in saying this is don't be discouraged if you don't have a lot of readers right away. Good things take time, and God has a plan for your blog. Don't stop writing EVER...just because you feel it's not being noticed. I don't know why I haven't blogged lately. I honestly think for me it's because I'm so sick of staring at that document I'm ready to light my computer on fire, and I'm gonna change that. Maybe I'll just trash the whole thing and start fresh. Do what works for you, but don't stop writing. 

Nothing good in life comes with the blink of an eye. It takes work, and it takes patience. I've learned this a lot with my book. Keep having faith, keep blogging, and keep blogging. Your time will come. How do I know? Well that's easy.

The Jeremiah one is great, but I'm really starting to love this verse too. It's a reminder that yes, God does have plans for us, we need to be patient & trust Him. Keep blogging, maybe you can join Twitter at least, and put the definition of having faith to use.

xoxo, Ashlee

2014 Basketball

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I've been playing basketball since I was in third grade, and I was the typical scared-of-the-ball girl. At the time, there happened to be a church league for girls first-third grade going on. I would get to play games with others girls who signed up. I got a specific team and t-shirt jersey, and I thought that was so cool. My parents probably would have said I was good, but I was not. I might've done okay, but I was very timid.

I didn't have a lot of experience level and confidence, because I wasn't in any extra leagues. In fact, when I returned to do the fourth-sixth grade level, my mind was blown on how many basketball leagues there really were. AAU and numerous others with the town...

At the time, I didn't really know what they were, other than another basketball team. I never got to play on one, because my parents didn't want me running over the state at that age. I didn't think they wanted me to run around the state, period, until I played school ball.

So I played in fourth grade, and I got better. Still timid, though. Those leagues never bothered me, I guess, because they were simply not an option

Until fifth grade.

It was practically impossible not to notice them then, especially since they were becoming more and more of a thing. This post might come out very controversial, but just remember this is my opinion. I am in no way trying to offend people associated with these teams. 

Anyways. Those leagues... Well, the more I heard about them, the more irritated I became. In the summer of fourth grade, I attended a week long basketball "camp". I just showed up for a few hours and practiced. Some of the girls there were on AAU teams and all knew one another. I was kind of a loner, to be honest.

I was just the girl who none of the coaches knew. The average player who needed her confidence boosted. The girl who was not able to play for AAU. I learned a few good things at camp, but if I'm honest, it just hurt my feelings. I was always excluded when we scrimmaged. I never got to shine, even if I wasn't the best, and everyone needs that. I began to realize that the girls on AAU had more experience, more confidence, and more attention. The sad truth in our world today is, unless you are involved in all those leagues, how well you play is basically dismissed. This isn't true all the time, but it definitely was for me - and I hated that. So what did I do? I let the anger I had get the best of me. I became bitter at those leagues.

Some of those reasons why I was bitter still make sense. Girls do use those titles to make themselves look cooler. Not all, but quite a few. The schedules can be absolutely insane, and we really need to ask ourselves: Is it worth it? I'm not trying to be a dream killer, but only a few of those girls will make it big. If it's God's plan, who cares what leagues you're on? He will see you through.

Also, these leagues are rubbing girls a wrong way, I think. I see all these "ball is life" and "basketball never stops" quotes. If it's your passion, that's great! Do it and kick butt, but nothing should ever be your life except God. Writing is NOT my life. Blogging is NOT my life. Basketball is NOT my life. Do I love all these things very much? Heck yes. But really, they're all temporary. They don't mean anything once I die. Basketball does stop. More so than writing, because I doubt I can be 60 years old fast breaking... At least, without dying.

That's where those leagues can be good. They can offer opportunities to play while you can. They can teach you a lot about life - I'm realizing that now, and I'm not as bitter. There are still a few girls who irritate me insanely with their little leagues, but you know? I'm learning to get beyond that too. One day they will have a rude awakening. They can hate me now for saying this, but it's true. It's their life, let them live it.

Back to the story, though. This year was a very different season for me. It would be my last year I was eligible to play on the church league. My dad played a big part in this year's season, he actually volunteered to be my coach's assistant helper or something...and that was a lot of fun. Then one night as I showed up for practice, my coach mentioned to my dad a new mini traveling league she was forming. It was mainly a fifth grade team, but she would make an exception for me. We would practice at our town's local gym, and then we'd have two games each Saturday in Baxter. It was a flexible schedule, I'd learn the original way to play basketball (since the church league changed it up to work better), and would give me more experience before I had to play school ball.

My parents talked it over, and they agreed to let me do it. This league did not get started on the right foot with me. For one, it was exhausting. I had to learn a bunch of new things. Our talent levels were pretty comparable. But this season, I have learned one huge thing: through hard work, and sometimes not fun times, comes the great things in life. This league upset me sometimes. I wasn't easy on myself - at all. I learned a lot about faith and basketball. I learned not to feel so worthless about myself and this sport. I learned to stop comparing myself with other, "better" girls. Most of all, I learned this is a sport I want to play my heart out with. I know I will never play professionally, and that's not my goal. My goal is to play while I can, because I know basketball does stop. I'm going to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.

This season, I think - hope - I improved tons. I know I was more aggressive and hardly timid at all. I have a lot to learn still, but I've learned not to be so afraid either. Basketball is a lot like my book. I've been holding back, and I regret that. I'm not that kind of girl. If there's an opportunity, I grab it.

The games we played in Baxter were definitely not easy. They took perseverance, lots of it. One time we lost, but we played the best ever. I'm learning that's okay. I'm learning to move forward from my mistakes, like guarding a girl and trying to steal the ball when we're supposed to get back... *I'd rather not talk about it*

I'm learning that if you lose a scrimmage to a fourth grade AAU team when it was just a bad day for my team, doesn't mean I suck. It doesn't make them better than us, just because they've worked and trained together longer.

I could be stressed about next year, that I'll be under looked since the girls played together and worked together much longer than I have - but I'm not going to.

I'm a good basketball player, and I'm not going to let anyone take that away from me...

It was an amazing season, because I learned and grew in more ways possible than I thought. It was amazing because of this team...

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This summer we've been considering a league. I'll update you all on some of those things soon, but I hope this post helps you to know that just because something is rough doesn't mean you have to be so hard on yourself. Look for what God intends you to learn. Through the bad comes the good. Through the rain comes the rainbow.

Sincerely, Ashlee