Doubts as a Writer

Being a writer and also a major perfectionist are two things, I've learned, that often seem to clash. My perfectionistic ways haven't always hurt me, though: sometimes it gives me the extra drive I need to go above and beyond, which is critical as a writer, since writing is one of those things that so many do or want to do.

I don't always remember feeling so insecure about it, but time has gone on, and maybe with age I've just realized more hard truths about the writing and blogging world. And the reason I figured I'd blog about it is because I think it's something a lot of people will be able to relate to, even if they don't admit it. And really, even though this post specifically focuses on doubts with writing, this could be with anything, any dream you have or thing that you want to do.

I've been doing a lot of thinking back. Back to my journey of writing and actually finishing my first novel. I can't believe that was almost four years ago. The thing about it is that you oftentimes hear authors and writers say something along the lines of, oh, the first book I wrote was terrible and not at all suited for publication, but it was good practice, or something along those lines. But honestly, I don't feel like that really applies to my book. The writing of it is kinda sloppy, but it wasn't like I didn't know what I was doing, either, and I fixed a lot of it with edits. But even more than the writing was the themes. I know that it was a story that needed to be told. And if I had the opportunity to publish, I would. I might go through and add some things like I talked about here, but that's still a book I hope to publish one day.

The thing that I think about most, though, is how seemingly natural it felt to write that book. I'm not kidding. I know it was tough; writing requires perseverance. But I finished it in under a year. The themes and characters just seemed to develop with clarity—even though I know I can still make them better. I just don't remember it being a constant struggle like this second book has been for me. It doesn't have anything to do with the second book's plot—I daydream about it all the time and sharing it with people, but for whatever reason, it's like whenever I go to write it, it's always lacking. I just don't remember the first book being that hard to write.

Maybe it's because I truly didn't have any expectations for my first book. I mean, I was only eleven years old; I didn't even think I had it in me to finish a novel. But God helped me do it, and He helped me do it swiftly, which is how I know it was important. I think this next story is important, too. I think the thing that's changed, honestly, is the distractions.

I've talked about distractions before, here in this post. I've talked about how there is such a thing as too much information, where it's overwhelming and makes you overthink everything. That can happen with anything. Take the blogging world, for instance. I think one of the reasons I stopped blogging for so long is because I absolutely despised the new direction of blogging. It felt cheap to me, and I almost thought what was the point? Blogging, once upon a time, used to be about telling stories, plain and simple. It was a place for people to share their thoughts and entertain somebody with their writing or even inspire them, which was perfect for me, and I jumped right on board. But then I watched, oftentimes with horror, as everything started to change. Suddenly those honest posts where you would just write out your thoughts were meaningless, and it became all about blogging what you know. And you know what cracks me up more than anything? There's like, honestly, hundreds of blogs and "businesses" ALL blogging about the same thing: how to blog. And how to make money blogging. And how to make so much money blogging that you can quit your real job and travel the world to write!

And I'm sorry, but that just feels cheap to me. Look, I'm not saying it's a bad thing to want to make money writing or even to want that to be your job because I myself have wished for those things. But I think the thing that annoys me most about this attitude shift is just people's motives for wanting that. They're cheap, kind of selfish motives, really. The whole point of writing is to share something with the world that you feel you need to, something that I believe should be meaningful. And, seriously. Does the whole world really need to know how to make millions of dollars off their blog so they can, what? Quit their job? Buy a bunch of ridiculously expensive clothes to show off? Travel and run away from everything? I mean, seriously?! That makes writing and blogging look so cheap, like it's just some quick get rich scheme for people who just want to live off their romantic life fantasies! That isn't the point of writing! It SHOULDN'T be.

And I will probably lose all of my blogging connections for saying that because that's seriously what most of them do nowadays, but sorry not sorry, I think it's wrong. And I know some people will probably get offended by that and claim they don't do that, but I've had a lot of time to watch and observe, and that's what it looks like to me. Why else would there be thousands of e-courses promising to teach you how to make so much money so you can...quit your job...make tons of money...? Do those reasons honestly sound meaningful? They're not promising to teach you how to write meaningfully, how to inspire people through writing... No. They're teaching you how to make MONEY. Which is not in and of itself bad to want money, but again, it all comes down to people's OBSESSION with that. Welcome to America.

My point in even bringing this up is because it hurts my heart to see a writing career degraded like that, because then everyone wants to do it just to live out their getting rich fantasies, and it has nothing to do with them being actually passionate about writing or inspiring people through writing. Being an author is the same way—I see TONS of articles on those, too.

It reminds me of those Christians who do nothing for God—you know they don't really care about Him—but yet still talk the talk because they want the perks and benefits of going to heaven and the title of being a Christian. And sorry, it doesn't work that way. If you're not serious about your faith, then don't you dare pretend to have one just to get the benefits. It's not fair to those who legitimately have faith.

My point in this post, though, wasn't really to stir up anything controversial, but then the more I thought about it, I thought that nobody addresses this in the writing world, and somebody really needs to. I mean, I read a post on selecting an English major, telling people the hard truths about it: that no, not everyone makes it "big" like everyone seems to want to in their writing for the money. There's a lot of work, dedication, and craft that need to—and should—go into writing. And people need to know that.

But here's my point in sharing this: seeing all of those articles about making money writing and blah blah blah filled me with insecurity. For one, because like I said, it sends a horrible message about the purpose of writing as a whole. But more than that, it was just so overwhelming. And when talked about like a money making scheme, EVERYONE is going to want to try their hand at it, even those who do not have the willingness to truly develop as a writer. That means more competition, and I hate competition. So I began to wonder what my point even was as a writer. Because I know I won't be making money off of mine anytime soon, though that was never my intentions to start a blog and get rich anyway. But I just thought, with all of these people who may know the business aspects of marketing yourself and I don't, what is the point in writing?

And it became a similar pattern with my book. I just couldn't stop reading things about improving your craft—which is important to become educated on writing; I mean, I just complained about people who aren't willing to do that, but it just goes to show that there's a balance.

What happens when you get tangled into this mess is that you lose sight of God. And He's the reason I write. He's the One who, ultimately, is going to decide where my writing goes, not the business analytics, or SEO, or anything else. And I just shut Him out of it. Same with my book. I read too many articles and began to doubt everything about myself as a writer. Just the other day I was reading an article on showing and not telling in writing. It talked about how you should not use the word "felt" because you can SHOW how a character is feeling. So I did a search in my book for the word "felt." I already have almost thirty uses of it in the first 10,000 words. Talk about discouraging you before you can even get going.

But that's where you have to stop that. You have got to remain focused on God and doing what He tells you to do like I talk about here. So if He's calling you to write for His glory? Then DO IT. And don't spend the better half of your time going crazy trying to figure out promotions and the business side of it. What? DON'T do that? Yep, I went there. Seriously. I was going crazy for the longest time because I had all the social media and was doing my best I could when it came to promoting my blog and getting it out there, and I don't feel like I was getting good results. It was immensely discouraging, and it made me want to quit, to be completely honest. Because I don't like sharing things if I can't help people, and you're obviously not helping anyway if no one sees it. But I had to learn to release that. To just trust that God would get my writing where it needed to be. So I deleted the vast majority of my social media because I was done playing the games. Done trying to compete and market myself when really, I just wanted to write. That's why I started.

And it's the same with my books and with anything you do. You just have to do it. Don't get sucked into the world of being a "girlboss" or whatever. You'll never make it on your own. You have to have God's help. And it is hard sometimes to wait on those opportunities—take it from the most impatient girl alive. But even back then, I blogged about that here.

I'm so guilty of doing things on my own, of not consulting God and just plowing into everything, taking on more than I can handle. But God never asked me to do that. He asked me to write. And I know, that if it's His will, and these are stories and words He wants to share for His glory, then the rest will come. The opportunities and everything.

You have to trust Him. You have to do what you do for pure motives, because it's what He wants. Not to make a million dollars, even though, at one point in my eight year old mind, I did write this in a journal:

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Haha. I'm also not trying to specifically call anyone out or be mean to anyone, bloggers or writers. But I'm just trying to emphasize that in today's society, everyone thinks it's about money and stuff. And it's not. Life is about so much more than that; writing is about more than that.

And it all goes back to God, to trusting Him to take care of us and looking for our joy in Him. True joy is found in obeying Him, so if that means writing for Him, then do that and don't get so insecure about what other people are doing. God has a plan for YOU and what He's called you to do. I always worry that I'm missing it because you know me, I don't take waiting very well, and waiting to me looks like missing hundreds of opportunities. But not to God. And I have to trust that. And I have to write for Him alone.

Oh! I took an online quiz one time (ha, one time, no, I take them all of the time because I get a kick out of them and because they give me meaningful advice like which type of house I should live in and what makeup style I should wear, haha {for the record, it says I should live in a castle, and I don't disagree}). This particular quiz was over what I should blog. And it said I should blog about my life, and that it's actually pretty interesting. And I was like, you know, you're not wrong. I don't know if sitting on the computer for hours on a Friday night taking random quizzes counts for anything, but who knows, you might learn a lot from that that needs to be shared! Yeah, they said I should blog about boy drama and hanging out at school and all those wonderful things. And of course I was like, why not! I don't have much boy drama for you right now, but just wait until I write another letter to my future husband! I'm sure talk about living in a castle will come up. :)

But anyway, this meaningless quiz actually did give me a bit of insight, saying that the best blogs are ones over personal experiences anyway, which I totally agree with. It just reaffirmed everything I've been writing about and my goals in writing, but then just when I need it, God also sends just the right people to encourage me as well, and that's why I want to write. To inspire people and encourage them, too.

And if that million dollars shows up somewhere along the way? All the better. But that's up to God. :) And money or no money, that isn't the point of life. The point of life goes back to my fourth blog post I ever published: inspiring people for His glory.

That's the goal, and that's my goal as a writer. I'm not going to let doubts of anything else stop me because I want to live for and honor God. And my final advice is to not worry about what other people are doing. Worry about what God is telling you to do. You'll be rewarded for it, because He's amazing like that, and it's reward enough even to see Him working.

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What Are You Passionate About?

When's the last time you took the time to stop and reflect on what you're passionate about? Do you know how important that is?

Life is too short to not be passionate about something. Maybe more than one thing. God has designed each one of us with our own special gifts, talents, stories, dreams, passions, etc. So when's the last time you stopped to think about those?

I think it's worth a shot. No matter how old you are or where you're at in your life. Life is too short to just survive. If we know Jesus, we should be the most passionate people ever. Life is so short. Live with a purpose, and live with passion. You don't have to live your life serving God at some mundane task or live your just getting by until you're dead. Because Jesus didn't just die so that we could have eternal life, but also so that we could live an abundant life here (John 10:10) and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). There are so many ways to reach people, so many different types of people to reach, and so many topics to reach people on. Isn't it amazing how God gets us passionate about certain ways to reach people, and certain types of people to reach, and topics to reach them through, for His glory! He created us for good works (Ephesians 2:10), and I'm so thankful He allows us to participate in His work and gives us opportunities to do that through the things we love and are passionate about.

In fact, the passions you have were probably given to you so that you could serve God through what you're passionate about.

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I remember earlier this year I had all these passions and dreams I wanted to act on the day I got them, and you know little ole impatient me, a week (or not even, ha) goes by, and I watch other people do what I want to do, and I think about all my dreams I haven't gotten to fulfill yet or the passions I have that I can't act on yet, and I get discouraged. I get discouraged quickly. And then I go right into doubts. Are these some OBSESSIONS I have that I'll just grow out of? Am I doing this just because other people are? How can I know if God is calling me to do something or it's just all in my head?

Then I saw this quote. When I saw it, it was like something clicked inside of me. And I knew that the things people would consider an obsession, the things that were always on my mind, the things that made me want to pray about over and over, the things that got me fired up whenever I talked or wrote about them. . . . None of those were by accident. Especially if they can all be used to give God the glory. (I say this because one time I talked about how your dreams and passions must align with God's will, and I used stripping as an example of something that would NOT be. So, people, I'm trusting you have discernment, and I'm also trusting that if the Holy Spirit lives in you, I know you will not have desires like stripping, because He will put desires in you that give God the glory. But just so we're clear on that. . . .)

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When something will lead you closer to God . . . lead other people to God . . . will give Him glory . . . and won't go away . . . but instead will keep coming back and give you a reason to get up, to be excited, and to keep praying over it . . . ? There's a very good chance you've just found your passion.

Serving God doesn't have to be boring, and it shouldn't be. He's given each of us our own personalities for a reason, because He has good plans for us to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). You can serve Him through your passions!

Oh, and here's that quote before I get going on a rant about my passion for having passions: "The things you are passionate about aren't random they are your calling."

Amen! Those things that get you excited and fired up and yearning to do something about . . . those things that can glorify God that He has laid on your heart . . . don't ever think those are random. God has laid them on your heart for a reason. Just because you can't act on them yet doesn't mean you won't ever be able to *note to self*.

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So what if you don't know how to determine your passions? It is really so simple. Don't make it complicated. Don't think about how logical or reasonable your passions are. Just be honest about what they are, what you feel God is laying on your heart, and pray over them until He removes them and replaces them with something better or leads you to do something with those passions. Don't ever give up on His timing *ANOTHER NOTE TO SELF*. Don't give up on your passions. Keep leaving them in God's hands. He cares about them.

To find out what you are passionate about, simply type on a new document or write on a new sheet of paper your answers to questions like these. . . .

What gives me purpose?

What do I love to talk about? (If you don't know, ask other people. I'm sure they will say there's always something you can't seem to shut up about.)

What are my hobbies?

What messages do I love to share?

How do I like to encourage people?

What are my favorite verses in the Bible? What are they about? What can I do to share them?

What do I love to learn about?

What would I change about the world?

What do others say I'm obsessed with?

What can I relate to?

You get the idea. Make a list. And then pray about each thing on that list. If you want some ideas, here's a list I just made. . . . I'll also add some details to a few to share how I learned I was passionate about these things, so maybe they will help you too. Share your list of passions with me, too!

I am passionate about...

writing stories // I simply couldn't stop writing stories. I love writing them.

telling stories //

sharing my personal stories //

sharing what I’ve learned about life //

being completely real and authentic // I've had to deal with a lot of problems in my life, and I've seen what can happen when somebody pretends their life is perfect and covers up the bad. Pain must be addressed, I learned that through my life, and it is only when we admit that we have pain and sin that we can ever heal from it. So since I've learned this, I'm passionate about other people learning this.

learning about suffering and the problems in our world // I get so upset when people are ignorant about how good they've got it, or they pay no attention to hurts other people have. I became passionate about this because of that.

learning about hope //

connecting with people //

encouraging people, especially people who have no hope //

prison ministry // A lot of people at my church do prison ministry, and their passion for it is contagious. I always thought they were what started my passion, and though they definitely fueled it, they actually weren't what started it. I read a local story about a crime that had horrendous effects, and it broke my heart. Ever since then I've been passionate to help people who appear too far gone and see beauty come from terrible situations. I've learned that if you think prisoners are too far gone to be saved or too far gone for anything good to come of their life, then you don't know God very well.

acting out your convictions and sharing them with others // I've always, always, always been passionate about being a light. It's just something that came to me. What is the point in having convictions if you don't live by them and share them? This passion also grew deeper as I got interested in prison ministry because so many people know what's right and think all these prisoners have done so much wrong, and I'm like, great, I'm glad you know what they did was wrong, but is that seriously all you're going to do? Whine about how people sin and yet do nothing to help people correct their lifestyles?

standing by your values //

unconditional love //

forgiving people // I saw a situation where forgiveness wasn't offered, and I saw a situation where forgiveness was offered. They were both about crimes, and they both took place at a sentencing hearing. The one with forgiveness offered made me cry and had such an amazing impact on this man's life (now he testifies about forgiveness and shares what happened at his sentencing all the time to share God's grace and mercy). The one with no forgiveness made me cry also, but only for bad reasons. It was ugly. It was depressing. And I don't even want to know what effects it will have on this person's life, even though yes, they are guilty. Hence the desire to go into prison ministry all the more. That is where multiple passions can even come from one passion, too. I've just seen how ugly not forgiving is. No hope ever comes from not forgiving somebody.

focusing on the big picture // I've learned life is too short to worry about things that don't matter in the end. Lots of your passions can come from what you've learned and wished others would.

living life with purpose //

remembering //

the importance of family //

miracles //

understanding people (psychology) // This is so interesting to me, and I love learning about it.

rehabilitating people (counseling) //

appreciating the little things //

setting goals // I've always loved to set goals; it's been so fun for me.

dreaming big and live your life in light of those dreams //

connecting with people via the internet // Also something I love to do. Lots of your passions will probably come from hobbies and what you've learned.

That's just a short (ha, I promise it actually is) list of my passions. And I want to know: what are you passionate about?

Life is short. Live for God. Live with passion for Him and His people. There's no greater joy than that. And . . . it's never too late to start living with passion and dreams again. As long as you're still alive, God is still fulfilling His {good} plan for you.

<3 Ashlee

We Need to Stop Wasting Our Lives

I went to my first Christian retreat over the weekend. It was an absolute amazing experience, and I can't wait to go on another one. I've began to keep a journal, and I have always believed in the importance of journaling. I wrote down everything that happened and what I learned because I want to remember it, and I especially want to remember what I learned. I thought I could share some of those things on here, too.

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Friday Night

I got out of school early, which I definitely didn't protest against, and Mom and I drove up to meet the people in my youth group who were going. Our youth group is very small, and while I wish more people would want to learn more about Jesus, I kind of prefer the smallness.

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We dropped off our bags at the house we would be staying at for the night and had supper at Chick-fil-A. Oh my gosh, I've never been there before, and I have been missing SO MUCH. At the retreat, we looked around a lot before it actually got started, and then there was worship. Worship was amazing.

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We got to have one class or session that night. The two girls in our group and I went to a class about the judgment day in heaven that comes when Jesus comes back. Each session for the students was also serving food, but each class served from a different restaurant. Ours was serving Buffalo Wild Wings. I've never been there either, but they were good and SPICY.

We watched this movie I looked up and found here and will eventually buy because it was amazing. This guy acts out how he infers the judgment day in heaven will play out. I learned two things:

1. Jesus loves us so much, and my confidence needs to be in him ALONE.

This guy accepted Jesus into his life, but he went on to live a life of sin - wasting the talents and blessings the Lord had given him. But Jesus never stopped loving him.

And #2 is what I really want to talk about.

2. This life is meaningless.

We need to remember #1 and live our life for JESUS because PEOPLE are what matters!!

Everyone knows pink is my obsession. They can see it just by looking at me. I want my faith to be like that too. It is my prayer.

Because people, if you're not using your life to honor God and share Jesus...

YOU ARE WASTING THEM.

Notice how big and bold I made that. I want you to understand this. I don't know if I have any more excuses for people who are quiet about their faith. I'm not SAYING that you have to be a pastor to do this or write a blog all about your faith and FAITH ONLY. I'm not saying you have to tell every single person you come into contact with about your faith, but I am saying that you need to be sharing Jesus.

Some people are private people. I get that. But your faith should not be private. And when I say it needs to be public, again, I don't mean you have to go around plastering it everywhere. By making it public, I mean just don't keep it to yourself. It could be as simple as encouraging your friend with the gospel.

Sing to the LORD; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. - Psalm 96:2-4

For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! - 1 Corinthians 9:16

And remember to not make a name of yourself doing it. It's easy to get caught up in doing that for yourself, especially for me with my blog, but it's all for God and His glory.

I learned through this video just how meaningless stuff is. I'm serious. It shows you that once you get to heaven ALL that matters is prayer and sharing Jesus. And I encourage you to take those steps today in talking to God a little more. Sharing Jesus with one new person, and ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment on who to share it with, when to speak out, and what to say. Remember to be humble and patient. It doesn't matter if you take baby steps, just so long as you keep growing.

Related: We're All on Different Levels and Show It

After our class was finished, it was around eleven and midnight. We headed to the house we were staying in. We plugged our phones in, set out our sleeping bags in the living room, changed into pj's, and we went straight to bed.

One thing about me is that I am a very homesick person. When I'm in a new location, especially for the first time, I tend to get bad thoughts. I was a little concerned that falling asleep would be hard for me because of that. Well, I fell asleep perfectly.

It surprised me when the real struggle was morning. And I do not mean it was hard getting up. More like it was hard WAITING to get up. We had to get up very early, like six in the morning. I have four words to describe this.

1. 4
2. am
3. Antarctica
4. insomnia

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Saturday Morning

The end. Well, finally morning did come. We all got either two or three hours of sleep. We felt on top of the world. We stopped at McDonald's for breakfast. I'm constantly being advised that you'll have much more energy if you eat a healthy breakfast. Those health nuts think they're such cool cats. I'm telling you, I was perfectly content with my three pancakes and three chocolate chip cookies.

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Philip Yancey, an amazing speaker we'd listened to the other night, had books for sale. And hey, I didn't persuade my mom to give me tons of money for nothing! I got two of his books, Where Is God When it Hurts? and Prayer, but then they offered me a deal on Disappointment with God, and I'm like, "Why the heck not? I didn't regret my breakfast choice this morning, and I certainly will not regret this!"

Yep. The rest of the day went something like...

- I met Philip and got all three books autographed
- For our first session we listened to him talk about prayer
- The girl I was hanging out with and I stocked up on caffeine
- She accidentally kicked her drink over during the session
- Then we chose a homosexuality session and learned while we must stand firm on our beliefs, we have to be compassionate and not shun those who are gay
- Ate lunch and let our feet dangle over this overlook thing
- Listened to a hilarious comedian *not a session
- Our final session was over Prince Charming; I love reading about Prince Charming, so everything they told me was review; click here to read about my favorite Christian and life books
- Moving prayer at the end

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If an introvert like me can survive this event, you can too! I totally recommend going on a retreat whenever you get the chance!

Have you been on a Christian retreat before? What was it like?

Blogging, People Pleasing, and Fitting In

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We all want our blogs to be read. We want our posts to be liked, tweeted and shared. To achieve that, there’s all these blog tips out there. And that’s great. It really is. But you should never feel too bad if you’re not doing one of them because it just doesn’t work for you.

You see, we want our blogs to fit in. We want them to be successful, and we want readers. It’s not bad to want that. Sometimes, though, I think we get way too caught up in that stuff - myself included. We are always trying to people please - design a certain way, blog a certain way, all for more readers.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a BAD thing. You want to have a nice design so people will stick around. It’s not bad to do any of those things, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re not a cool blogger if you don’t.

Blogging can be like wanting to be popular in school, sometimes. You want to take care of your blog (like you would yourself) and such, but if it’s not always the most popular, that’s okay. You don’t have to use every strategy.

It is YOUR blog. Trust in God. He has a plan for you and your blog, and He will not forget about it. Sometimes it can be discouraging, but know that God has greater things coming for you.

Also, be yourself regardless. Write about what YOU want. Don’t do what everyone else is doing just to look cool. If you get an idea for a post, or if there’s a post you saw that you’d like to write, too, that’s different. That’s awesome - go for it. I’m just talking about if you purposely write about what all of the “big bloggers” are writing about because you think it will help your blog. The right readers are going to read your blog for YOU. That is what makes blogging special - we all have different interests, we all have different writing styles, we all have different thoughts, etc., and that is what will make your blog special. Like I said, God has a plan for you. If you be yourself (the you that you are in Him, of course), then He will send the right people to your blog.

I’m also not saying to never use blogging strategies. Heck, I use them all the time because they do help my blog. I’ve WROTE about blogging strategies. They are not bad, what’s bad is when you feel pressured to do them because that is what you think will make you “cool”.

It’s like fashion trends. Is it okay not to want to be in on what’s hot right now? Absolutely. It shouldn’t make you any less cooler, because it just means that the certain trend wasn’t your style and didn’t work for you. On the other hand, if you DO get involved with the trends, is that bad? No! If you like one of the current trends, then go ahead and get into it. But does that mean you are “cooler” than those who don’t have the trend? No, it doesn’t.

Blogging and lots of things in life are about finding what works best for you. Let’s not set “cool” guidelines, let’s just help each other out instead and be a light for God. I think the world would be a much better place if we did that.

This is Why

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I'm Ashlee, and I write a blog. I'm also working on publishing a book. I dream of inspiring people and being a light for the Lord because my faith is everything to me, and I want others to experience a relationship with Christ as well. 

Why? Because...

You can't get through life with sappy quotes. You can, but it will just make life a heckuva lot harder because they're quotes from the world. The world is determined to get through life without Jesus. Some people say they have their family to lean on, and while that's great, your family will disappoint you eventually - every one of them. Some will go into their own world, and some will act like family should. Either way, we're all sinful, and you're going to be betrayed in this world. But there is one person who will never betray you, and that's God. I hope that through my relationship with God you'll work towards yours, too.

I want to show that you can be successful if you're different. You can be successful if you're not the best athlete. You can be successful if you're not a pop star. You can be successful if you're a "nerd" or "geek" etc. You can be successful if you're not considered popular, but there is a catch. You need to have God at the center of that success, or it's just worldly and means nothing. Too many times people try to do things their own way, and it doesn't work out. I want people to see God is not the enemy, He's just the opposite. Through my trials and blessings and everything in between, I want to demonstrate how God always remains faithful.

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I want to be different. I don't want to be immature and worldly on social media like the majority of the generation. I don't want to do what the crowd does. I don't just want to say I have Jesus, I want to show it! And show how it benefits me because it does. 

Last but not least, I want to inspire people to do something with their life. You only get one. Leave some sparkle behind. Too many people just survive, do what's cool, or simply don't care. You should care. Yeah, this world is going downhill, and at the end of the day there won't be many people to listen, but that doesn't mean you don't try. Pursue your dreams, live for God, and always be a friend to everyone, no matter their cool status, no matter their religion. I'm not saying you have to be someone's bestie and hang out with them or just be okay with their religion if it's not yours, but you shouldn't blow people off unless they give you a reason to. At least be nice. Listen to someone if they need it. Life is that simple: just be a light to those around you. Believe me, people notice how you act.

I'm not perfect, and I'll never ever claim to be. I spend a lot of time on people who don't deserve my attention. I care about worldly things sometimes, and I'm guilty of doing things on social media that are worldly. We're all going to do dumb things, but it's whether we aspire to improve or not that matters. I just want this blog to be honest about life and God. There's no sense sugar coating things or being fake. But there's no sense being a downer, either. This is my life and my faith. Sometimes I learn things easily, and other times not so much. Either way, here's my journey of going through life with God. It's not gonna be shoved down your throat, but if you ever feel like it is, there is an exit button. 

I appreciate all of you who encourage me on my journey and in my faith. I hope I can encourage you, too.  

So what do you do, and why do you do it?

✧sparkles, ashlee✧