A Prayer About 10th Grade

Dear Lord,

Before I go into my requests for a new school year (TOMORROW, wow—just when I think time drags, haha), I must first humble myself and allow You to work through me, and to do that, I need to pray that I would have a pure heart this year, that I wouldn't get stuck into the old mindsets I had with freshman year. I don't want to make those mistakes again. But I know You are so patient and so loving and You are with me every step of the way, so thank You, so, so much. I want to always reflect Your patience and love, so please help me to always do that. And forgive me for any unrighteous attitudes I have—I'm sure there's a lot of those lurking in my heart, which is why I wanted to especially take the time to write this out. I want to get right with You and have a healthy mindset so that You get the glory through the way I live and treat other people.

When I sat taking some notes on what especially it is I want to tell You, God, there were definitely a few topics that You laid on my heart. Four things, mainly, that I feel very compelled to pray over in regards to not just this school year but my thinking and life in general. Thank You in advance for hearing these and laying them on my heart.

I pray that no one makes me feel inferior or steals my joy and contentment.

Ever since August has began, people are already asking me all about whether I'm ready or not to go back to school. And You already know my answer to that, which is, "Not really." I've been thinking about what has caused this shift in me, God, because with ninth grade, I was so ready. I was nervous because it was high school, but I was also elated because it was high school, and I'd been waiting forever (or so You know how I always feel, ha) to begin the new chapter. But then came reality. And I began to realize that I'd done it again: set my expectations on something that they weren't supposed to be and then felt crushed when it didn't come to be.

You know I'm guilty of doing that, where I expect a certain time of my life to bring me joy or renew me. But whenever that's not You, it's not good. Only You can complete me. It's a constant reminder I need. Because I thought high school was it. That was when I was going to be completely happy. Not true. The bad news is that waiting for something to make me happy will never work. The good news is that with You I can be completely happy right now. So, this is actually something I was going to pray over with a later point, but all this being said is to say that I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed with how freshman year went. It wasn't any better in terms of meeting people, but I think that's also because I'm just so introverted and quiet, and plus I know what I want in life, and sometimes I find it hard to step out of that into being with people who don't share the same goals. But I do need to do that because I want to be able to connect with people for Your glory. So I pray that You will help me to be outgoing when I need to be and to have the connections that are going to help me get opportunities to shine for You.

But really, the whole point of this point I'm on is to tell You that when people asked me why I wasn't ready to go back, I usually said, I'm just not ready to see people again. You know what I mean by that, God. I often feel exhausted having to witness immature behavior that doesn't change. I know that sounds incredibly self-righteous, and I'm sorry because I don't mean it to sound that way, but it is how I feel. But what I want You to help me with is to know that even when people do things I don't agree with, I can still do the right thing. I don't have to let someone else's behavior dictate my mood. I often get discouraged—why? Well I also think that because I know You as well as I do, I often do feel the pain of weeping over others' behavior, much like You did (Luke 19:41). But I know that You work in brokenness anyway, so I want to, too. And I don't want to lose my mind doing it.

Seeing other people play social games and status games and all that drives me insane. But I don't have to let it drive me insane. I can acknowledge that it's wrong and set an example, which please help me to do, but please also help me to have Your peace, to know that You win in the end, that doing the right thing reaps a reward (Galatians 6:9). It goes way behind dumb high school drama. Life is so much more than that. So don't even let me waste time being depressed about it. I did too much of that last year, playing the victim and trying to play the games. I know better than that—I don't want to do that anymore. Help me to know my worth in You and to become confident in that, just like You taught me how to do in middle school, which I talk about here.

I pray that I don't waste time being stressed when it's not practical.

I know how You've delivered me countless times. In my prayer about eighth grade, I was so nervous about the start of the year, but a week into it when I wrote that prayer, I was once again so thankful for how You carried me through. You've done that for me every time, God. Thank You so much. I had a lot of anxiety during freshman year. And I just pray that You will take that away. Help me to know it doesn't come from You, and that through You I can focus on good things. Help me not to stress about things that aren't practical. Or about anything, period.

I pray that I don't become depressed wishing for the future, expecting my expectations to be met then.

You know this about me, God, how I easily tend to look down the line into the future, expecting my joy to come when I get to high school. When I get to college. When I get married. But the problem with that is the list is never ending...and I'll never get happy chasing things that aren't You. I know You want me to enjoy each of those things when they come, but they're never meant to take Your place. The biggest mistake I made upon entering freshman year was expecting it to be everything. It's not everything—You're everything, the bread of life (John 6:35). It's no wonder why I became so upset, when here I'd been waiting the better half of eighth grade for this year that I thought was going to be a turning point... Well, it wasn't. But You are, and that's what You've done for me this summer, is helping me to see that I can enjoy You right now. That's what You designed me to do; it's no wonder people turn into messes without You. We were never created to live without You. So please, please help me to enjoy right now. Each moment as it comes. They do come, God, because You're so faithful. Looking back, I'm filled with such a fuzzy feeling of just how many special moments You've given me that I didn't even think were significant at the time. I don't have to be in college or married or anything to have those. I just have to be walking with You. Please, always help me to do that. Joy comes through You alone and the everyday little moments of knowing You and seeing You at work. Thank You for those and most of all for giving me Yourself.

I pray that I can always live with integrity, maturity, and peace, for Your glory.

Basically, God, please let all of the fruits of the Spirit be evident in me, the ones You list in Galatians. I know I still have work to do; we're still working on patience, aren't we!! Yes. Unfortunately. No, I guess I shouldn't say unfortunately because You say it's necessary, and You're right, as You always are. And in fact You actually are teaching me things about how being patient isn't as horrible as I thought. It's unbelievable! My blog readers aren't going to believe that, God, that I actually am learning to be happy with waiting, but hey, I try to tell them You're the God of miracles. I know I obviously still haven't learned this one perfectly...but we'll get there...one day...

Anyway, I pray specifically that You help me to do the right thing. In school, I hear a lot of things, and that doesn't mean they're all right, even if a teacher is telling me them. You've taught me to consult You and look at what You say is right before anyone else; I pray You will continue to lead the way. And help me to stand up for my opinions and convictions even when they're not popular. Many times they aren't, but that just makes me more motivated to keep at them for Your glory.

I also pray You will always help me to be mature. In high school, obviously there's a ton of immaturity. Don't let me get sucked into that; I pray I will act responsibly even when nobody else does. You said that if anyone asks for wisdom, You will give it to them (James 1:5). I've asked. You've delivered. Especially through other amazing people like my mom and grandma, to name a few. Help me to apply what I've learned. I want people to know what I believe by how I live so that I can be real for Your glory. I also pray that even when I do screw up, to know that You are forgiving just as You are just, and to just get right with You and keep going again.

And I also pray that You will help me to be the calm and peaceful person in a society full of depressed, anxious, angry people. I'm not knocking anyone who experiences legit problems of those at all—because You know I've faced them myself—but sometimes I'll get a glimpse of kids being hysterical about something, or see someone who's getting so worked up over something that isn't worth it, and I get this glimpse of my own behavior: like oh, I don't want to be that way. And I know I've acted that way! I act like I'm the one losing my mind half the time, but God, I don't want to. I know You; Your peace is always with me (John 14:27). Help me to be the calm one, the one people can trust with their problems. The one who will forgive easily and not be quick to attack someone or blow up on them, but also the one who can calmly tell someone that I don't agree with what they're doing. Help me to have a grip on my emotions so that Your peace radiates through me.

I also want to thank You, God, for Your deliverance in every grade, but for also revealing to me things about a specific grade in general. There are some grades and times in life that I don't know are going to be special until they're in the past, and then I think, wow, what I would give just to have a couple more moments then. I NEVER thought I'd be feeling that way about eighth grade, God, but honestly I really do. In eighth grade, while I know I had Your joy, oftentimes I remember feeling discouraged because I wanted more, now. And I thought all these things were going to give me that, high school being one of them. And then I was so disappointed in ninth grade because I was more upset throughout that year than I was in eighth. And I realized that what changed was that when I went into eighth grade, I was in a position where I felt very helpless and out of control of what was going to happen. The year before was extremely difficult emotionally, and therefore I had absolutely no expectations for eighth grade, I was just going into it completely trusting You and knowing I was going to walk with You. And You know what? It was one of my favorite grades to date.

Did I still have times where I felt discouraged and stressed? Oh yes, but You provided—I logged all those times on my notes in my phone. Did I still get upset and cry some nights? Oh, You know I did. But it was a really beautiful year because I really, really saw You walking with me in a way that had an intensity I'd never really seen before. In fact, when outlining this blog post, I came up with some things I would go back and tell myself:

I would tell myself to chill the heck out. You have blessed me with gifts and wisdom that will eventually grow into more for Your glory, but for right now, I just need to relax and focus on developing those. I was so eager in eighth grade, God, and I still am. I have so much ambition which is a curse when I have to wait, ha, but I know You are faithful with that. I got so eager that year that I let it steal my joy many times, not realizing how special the moments were that I was in. Because looking back on them, they were. And so I would just tell myself to relax, to keep trusting You and appreciating where You had me.

I would tell myself not to think so much. To not waste the better half of years being so indecisive and perfectionistic about writing that I quit enjoying it or don’t write at all. When I did a short story for a project in my English class, that really opened up my eyes as to how special it is to just take an idea You've laid on my heart and run with it, even if I don't know where it's going. And I know I think way too much into things, and I just want to stop second guessing myself and trust that when You've put something on my heart, it has a purpose, even if I don't see that right away.

But yet I would tell myself to keep thinking. To keep learning for Your glory and keep doing my research on living with integrity and living for You. One thing I will say about eighth grade is that we had many projects we had to do that I thought really prepared us for high school and just to think deeper. I enjoyed many of those projects, even if they were intense. I looked into a lot of political subjects that helped me determine where I stand on those issues and how You play into those, because You absolutely do. I had assignments that helped me to better understand other people and the darkness of the world, that have in turn taught me lessons about having good values. Thank You for that, God. Help me to keep researching what is right, to keep thinking about other people beyond myself. 

I would tell myself to enjoy where I'm at. Because now, gone are the days of cozy, conservative middle school. I never thought I'd enjoy those, did I? But now I'm growing up, God, and realizing just what a gift those were. The key to finding contentment in life is enjoying You where I'm at, and oh what a magical year that was in terms of knowing You. I'm actually extremely frustrated with myself right now because do You remember my late night reading when every night I'd look up deep topics in the faith because I genuinely wanted to be educated on them? So there was this one topic that had me stumped for awhile, but then I stumbled across a blog post that did an awesome job of explaining it, so I screen-shotted the part I liked. Well tonight I was thinking about that topic again and wanted to find that picture, but oh no, I deleted it. WHY did I delete it?!!!! I always say I'll never delete anything because I'll regret it but then I go on another deleting spree.... Ugh anyway the point is that I got to learn so much about You, which I am so thankful for. You really are the only One who completes us; I've never felt more at peace than when I'm learning about who You are.

I learned what it meant to become independent, to see the ugly truths of the world for myself but also the authentic hope that has never shone brighter. I learned to see people as You do while at the same time shaking my head at their godlessness and learned that I can do both: condemn bad behavior but help the broken people stuck in it, just as You call me to do. And I'm going to do those things. But I just have to be patient. And I learned that it’s not as hard to be patient as I thought (gasp!), that happiness can come in each moment as I grow in my relationship with You because YOU are the bread of life (John 6:35). That verse always reminds me of how You are the One who sustains us in life, who gives us satisfaction and enjoyment in You. Thank You so much for revealing this to me; help me to remember this often when I get restless, as I often do. But I also pray that You will use my restlessness; You know I have big dreams and huge desires to reach people for Your glory, so please give me opportunities. There's only so much waiting I can do, God. ;) Haha but I know You will always get me through (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Other things I need to mention, God: please don't let me kill myself or end up in prison with driver's ed this fall, like I am actually terrified I am going to hurt someone because of how bad of a driver I am. Then again, I am a huge drama queen, so I'm sure I'll be fine, but YES I SO BADLY NEED YOUR HELP WITH THIS JUST TO PASS... I'd also like to get a job, so I pray for opportunities, favor, and protection there. And help me to get academic opportunities and opportunities in my writing to shine for Your glory this school year.

Also, Lord, thank You so much for this summer. I don't know if I've ever had a summer as fun and peaceful and renewing as this one. I tried really hard not to put my expectations into the summer but rather on just enjoying each day and You, and that made it great, God. Thank You for helping me do that and for helping me establish beauty, fitness, and Bible study routines. I just need a writing routine now, so please help me to find time for that. Oh and I need a new diet too...

Seriously though God, the summer was beautiful. I had a blast doing things like jet skiing but also learning truths about life at fun events like Knoxville, and I just had a nice, calm summer relaxing at home. Thank You, for that, for my family, for Your love, patience, forgiveness, and all that You are. Thank You for always walking with me, even when I'm defiant, impatient, and restless. I love You so much, and please let my life echo that.

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen

Ashlee


Hey everyone! Thank you so much for reading this. I like to post these prayers as a way to collect my thoughts and also in hopes that they can inspire your praying. I also did these for both seventh and eighth grade: you can read those here and here. I'm praying for all of you!!

A Prayer About 8th Grade

Dear Heavenly Father,

First of all, can I just stop and thank You for how amazing You are? You really are, God, and You are the perfect Father. You have taken care of me so much over the past week. That doesn't mean everything went perfectly. But You carried me through when it didn't, just as You promise (Isaiah 41:13). With that being said, there are some things I definitely need to pray over this school year. Three of them specifically.

1. God, please don't let me take my eyes off You.

The minute I do this is when everything goes south, God, and I know You warn me about this (John 15:5). I was in a situation right before school started where I didn't consult You about my feelings about something, and I let the pettiness of what I was feeling take over. I got sucked into the world. And I'll talk more about that here. But the biggest thing is that I need You to please remind me that You are the most important thing in this life (Mark 12:29-30), and I need to focus on the work You have for me (Ephesians 2:10) and what is to come (2 Corinthians 4:18).

You used a lot of different situations this summer to strengthen my faith in You and learn more about You, and that is so awesome how You do that, God. You have also blessed me with a lot of wise, humble people devoted to following You that inspire me every time I see them to live for You. Thank You.

But now I can't forget that.

2. I have to be in this world, so help me be a light for You.

Don't let me forget the things You've taught me. In fact, help me apply them daily to my life. And taking it even beyond that, help me to share You with others. Give me opportunities, and let me be bold for You. It's school--a public school, no less--but don't let me get discouraged because I know You're with me even there (Joshua 1:9).

I actually just read that verse today.

‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’
— Joshua 1:9 NIV

Even if I face times of loneliness or persecution or whatever it may be, and that will probably happen sooner or later if I am being bold for you, just like it happened last year, help me to remember this verse. And those, I'm learning, are the opportunities I can really thrive. When I feel lonely, that's an opportunity for me to submit to You and work on our relationship. When I am persecuted for my faith, well, I guess that means I'm doing something right because the Bible promised that would happen (1 Peter 4:12). But it also promises me this:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
— Psalm 23:4 ESV

The trials and persecution I face aren't something I have to do alone. You also promise this:

‘The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’
— Exodus 14:14 ESV

And here is where Jesus promises the trials, but he also leaves us with hope:

‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.’
— John 16:33 ESV

I also would really like to keep James 1:12 in my mind, Lord, so please help me to remember this on the days I want to quit:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
— James 1:12 ESV

And here's the one I really love. When I was at my grandparents' house this summer, my emotions were all over the place. I went up there expecting a week full of all the fun and meaningful life talks, and I'd cross everything off my bucket list, and I'd connect perfectly with everyone, and it would be memorable for many years to come. And oh, it will be memorable, God. So here's the thing about that, and I'm bringing this up now because I really feel like You worked on my heart there, God. Your ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8); they are so much higher (Isaiah 55:9). I know this. So of course I shouldn't have been surprised when those two weeks did not go as I planned.

But that was okay, God. At first, I didn't think so. But it was. I learned some very important lessons, and I'll share my top three because they're relevant to this, and I need You to always keep them fresh in my mind.

1. People are lost. But nobody is beyond revival. NOBODY.

I can be a very prideful person, God. I just can't stand seeing people make excuses for their sin or excuses for not pursuing a relationship with You. I remember I was working on my fruits of the Spirit. I wanted to pick one in particular I struggle with the most, and I wanted to commit to working on that area of my life. I decided that was patience. Not only do I want everything right now, I don't have much patience with people. I got an opinion from my mom--I wanted to hear what she thought it was, and she said that too. So I prayed over and over, "God, help me be patient. Help me be patient with people and love them like You love me."

Grams and I watched a movie, called The Perfect Stranger. Not only did it answer some great questions with equally great answers, the girl in the movie was so stubborn. But You didn't give up on her. And because of that, her heart was softened. There's this quote I love that says people need love the most when they are unlovable. And I really do believe that. I don't know how kind I've been, God, and I'm asking You to help me see people as You do. Believe me, You opened up my eyes to that over the two weeks.

I believe that you can revive anyone, Lord. People will go on with their list of sins people have committed that could never be forgiven, but that's just not true. If they confess and repent, You forgive them (1 John 1:9). So I believe that if a criminal who is guilty of a terrible crime repents to You and believes in You and what You've done for them, they can be saved. And the same with someone who's rejected You all their life or someone who's committed adultery or whatever it may be. I mean, look at Paul! I was inspired to look more at Paul's story that week as I processed some situations, and wow. It makes me have a desire to go into prison ministry because those people are, like, the worst to society. They're forgotten. Dismissed. Hated. But this is something I learned on a much deeper level that week, too.

2. You are so loving.

You want everyone to repent and know You (2 Peter 3:9). The most passionate atheist, the first degree murderer, the one who has neglected You their whole life... You love them all, God. And I need to love those people. I can't even bring myself to be mad at them, Lord. I am mad at their sin, and I am mad at people's tolerance of sin. But that is as far as it goes. I can't bring myself to be mad at a specific person because they are so blinded and so broken (2 Corinthians 4:4). Instead, I just feel the urgency to pray for them. I made a list of all these verses about Your love, forgiveness, hope, and plan for each one of us, and these are just a few, Lord:

Love-Bible-Verses.jpg

I can't bring myself to hate a prisoner. Instead, I want to pray for them, and I could just cry thinking about what they're missing. I want to go talk to them and share You. I can't bring myself to hate an atheist or anyone, Lord. And I'm thankful for that. Thank You for working on my heart like that, Lord. There was this quote by C. S. Lewis I remembered seeing, and something just really dawned on me.

He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.
— C. S. Lewis

That means the annoying younger sibling. The person who sits next to you that you can't stand. The atheist. The prisoner. Etc. That opened up my eyes, Lord, and help me to remember that when I am about lose my patience with someone or give up on them.

3. God, I need You. And that's it.

I had a very rude awakening over the two weeks about me idolizing something, God. But I'm thankful I had that awakening because my goodness, I didn't know my obsession with it was so bad. You know how I feel about marriage, God. I talk about it here. You've known it's something I want. You know how overwhelmed and stressed I can get about finding the guy. I've even been to the point where I think, the end of the world can't come now, because I haven't got married yet. That right there should've told me something about my obsession, so I don't know, God, I think I was in denial. Anyway, thank You for opening up my eyes because here's what I realized.

As You know, I've been interested in prison ministry, and so I was looking at that, and there was this one story in particular I was following. And I just remember thinking, especially with the people who are going to be in prison a long time, they're not getting married most likely. And they won't have kids. Or really do anything overly successful and meaningful with their life. And I just remember sitting there thinking about this one kid especially, like, oh, my gosh. What is he going to DO?

Thankfully, You convicted me, Lord. I realized that if MARRIAGE is your highest goal in life or kids or a job or anything other than You... Yikes. There's a problem. I had a problem. If the thought of not having something in our life other than You makes our life without meaning, that's not good. I realized that if the prisoners or anyone, really, has a relationship with You, then they've got what they need. If they remain in You, they will be fruitful (John 15:5). And You will provide for them (Matthew 6:33). That is where our meaning is.

And lots of times we have to completely fall apart in order to realize this.

If we're building something on the wrong foundation and make lots of errors with it, God, and we build it the wrong way, most of the times we can't just tweak it to fix our building. We have to destroy it first. We have to make it new. And oftentimes this is what needs to happen to us so that we can realize all we need is You. Here's another great quote I found:

Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.
— Charles H. Spurgeon

I had these plans for a great week full of all the fun and everything, God. But there were days I felt sad. Very sad. I tried to carry the weight of the world, and I felt so much anxiety about the problems in my life. And I tried to cover it up with fun. I told myself I had to wait for something, like if I just get THIS, it will all be okay. I tried to convince myself people could make me happy. But no. None of that got me far. I had to break, God. And I mean, TOTALLY break. To the people reading this, have you ever felt so hopeless about a situation (or SITUATIONS) that absolutely nothing could fill your void? And no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't be joyful? That's how I felt, God. And I had to learn to cling to You, and I never EVER want to forget that brokenness because honestly? I need that. I need that to remember that I am NOT in control, You are. And I never want to forget how You answered me and gave me amazing peace. The peace didn't come instantly. It took a lot of dedication to spend time with You. But You gave it to me, and You gave me this verse:

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
— 1 Peter 5:10 ESV

Thank You, Lord. Thank You. Thank You for reminding me that I need to love others but also give them the truth. Thank You for humbling me. Thank You for showing me the importance of prayer and a relationship with You. I will have to be in this world, Lord, and while I am, please let me remember these three things. You can save anybody; I need to pray and continue to love everyone like You do; and I need to cling to You alone.

3. Last but not least, while I have to be in this world, Lord, don't let me be of it.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
— Romans 12:2 NIV

This, Lord, every day, please. Remind me of it. Don't let me get sucked into the worldliness of this world. Keep me broken if that's what it takes, Lord, just don't ever let me turn away from You, God. Show me Your will, each and everyday, and how I play a part in that. I pray that I would be obedient no matter what it costs me. I pray that I would always surrender to You, Lord.

Forgive me of all my sins against You, God. I hate my sin. I don't deserve Your grace, but I am so thankful. Help me to fight the battle against sin everyday, and please always help me to find time amidst the craziness of this life to be still (Psalm 46:10).

Because if I've got You, the joy I feel because of that is only the beginning.

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
— John 16:22 ESV

So let that joy radiate in me, Lord. Make me a bright light for You. I love You so much, God. In Jesus' name I pray.

Ashlee

- Comments are turned off because this is my prayer to my Father. Know that I'm praying for all of you! Thanks for reading!

A Prayer About 7th Grade

A-Prayer-About-7th-Grade-Sparkles-by-Ashlee.jpg

Dear God,

Well, there's only a few weeks of summer left. I'm ready for school this year. Some of that is just excitement, but some of that, also, is a let's get this first day over with attitude. Why? Well, here are my concerns.

I'm really nervous about friends. You know my situation right now, God, and You know what I fear with my friends this year - especially on the first day. I'm nervous about how we will all react to each other. Nervous about my faith, again, since last year was hard. No one gets it, God. I don't know why, but a lot of times I just feel so alone at school. Thank You for carrying me through, though, and thank You for a loving, supportive family. That's all I need, really, and I pray that when I get frustrated, You remind me of that.

School is hard. This generation is a hard one, invaded by social media and what not. All the sports stuff. The ridiculous relationships with boys. It's hard. It's hard to do the right thing sometimes, but it is so worth it.

This school year, God, I get to go out for sports. I'm excited, but in the back of my mind, I'm worried too. This time it's not just if I'll die running cross country. You know how the world is with sports, God, and I've written blog posts about it too. It's mainly basketball I'm worried about - not being good enough, ranked as lesser, and on and on, so please give me peace. Because I know in the end it will be okay, You will see me through.

A ton of kids are just plain ecstatic for friends and sports and such, but it's different for me, God. Because of my faith, it makes everything harder. I wouldn't trade that for anything, though. You've provided all the time, God, and I wouldn't trade what you've done with this blog and my writing and just the maturity you've given me over the years, for anything. I'm not going to ever compromise that just to make more friends or whatever.

I talk about the world being hard, God, and You're the one who gets me through it time after time. Really, though: I'm excited, God. This fall will be fun. At school, please help me to focus on what I am there for: education. And please remind me to count my blessings at home, too.

This fall, God, I know You're going to help me in my writing too. You've helped me so much with my book, and I'm done editing now which means I just have to do some finalizing touches. Thank You, God.

This summer I have really realized what is important, God. In sixth grade, I wasted so much time and energy focusing on shallow things. I realized I don't need those, and in seventh grade, those shallow things will be brought up again. Please help me to look ahead, like my devotionals say, so I don't get off track. My relationship with You. My family. My education. My writing. That is what needs my attention, not the things of this world. This year, God, please help me to not just focus on that, but show how it benefits me. In other words, please help me to be a light this year.

I'm not perfect, and I don't have half of what I need to figured out, but I know You're going to use me, God. You're going to use me to share Jesus. I mean, this summer I got lots of comments on social media from people who read my blog and like it. More people than I thought - some I wouldn't have expected to even read it.

I never regret letting You be in control of my life, God. I never wish things were easier, because if they were, I wouldn't be who I am today. I learned a lot this summer, God, and I'll learn a lot this school year. Thank You, God, for never giving up on me and for sending Jesus. Thank You for my family, and I could just go on.

I love You, God. I can't wait for all the adventures and crazy stuff You're going to do through me and with me this year.

Your daughter, Ashlee