Sparkles by Ashlee: faith, funny, + fulfilling dreams

Welcome to Sparkles by Ashlee, a Christian lifestyle blog over faith, funny, and fulfilling dreams. I'm Ashlee Staerk, and I'm a teenager in love with Jesus and writing stories for His glory in Iowa. Grab your fave drink (I'll take a Dr. Pepper), and peruse my blog, where I document what God is teaching me, encouragement He lays on my heart, the good and the bad in life (always keeping it real), and my journey of trusting God with my dreams!

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The Hope

It is not even halfway through May, and practically all of my goals are done. The other two are being completed right now. I'm giving God all the glory for that, and I know I say that a lot, but I really mean it because I think some big things will {hopefully} happen soon. And even if they don't for awhile, the fact that God encourages me and reminds me of His love is pretty amazing because I've had some hard times this month. And over the last month, too.

I hate that I haven't written in awhile. I really do. Sometimes I think I'm focusing on all the wrong things. I mean, we get all worried about the design aspects of blogging, like how I just redid my homepage (and I really like it, check it out here) or collaborations and SEO and getting your blog out there and yada yada yada, but we never just write. Or at least I don't, anyway. It's the same with my books. I'm so worried about what idea will be the best that I don't just sit down AND WRITE. Did you know writers should write every day? It's a no brainer and yet something I fail to do.

But it's not because of lack of passion, it's just distractions. Distractions, distractions, distractions. That seems to be a pretty common theme in my life, especially in my faith. Satan will do whatever he can to make me doubt. He knows all of my weak areas and hits them pretty hard. I've never realized how important it is to read the Bible until I actually started doing it.

Anyway, a lot has happened, and I thought for today we could all catch up and share what's going on in our lives recently. I am literally this close *insert my fingers making a very small gap* to never taking a webinar or something about blogging again. It's just because they are all just throwing things at you about things you have to do to be a successful blogger, and I have lost myself more than once in trying to do that. And it's the same with writing and my relationship with God.

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At the end of the day, you just have to write and know Him by reading your Bible.

I've gotten so much done this month. I not only cleaned that shelf but my whole room, and my mom has been a huge help in that process, and it's going to be great. That was something that needed to happen long ago, and it didn't. Why? Distractions. And I'm totally not blaming my mom for that; it was all me who kept putting it off.

We got shorts. Four pairs. And they're not super long where they defeat the whole purpose of shorts, and they're not a word I shouldn't say either. They're also super pretty and were pretty cheap compared to the shorts fashion bloggers are wearing. I mean, $60 for one pair? That's ridiculous if you can get the same thing for $30.

I also got all of the things I needed to pinned to Pinterest. The homepage finally resembles my brand and the things that need to be displayed, and my footer is all fixed up. And let me state the obvious: I did get a new blog design. This time I really couldn't help it. I liked the other template, but it wouldn't let me have a custom footer. I could edit the page footer content, but notice how that says "page". I would have to design the same thing on every page. No thank you. So I just switched.

And do you like the new header? Well, I do, so too bad. I like that picture that says "Jesus" in the sky. I was just looking through another photo I could put up there, and that one ended up fitting perfectly. Other than that, the template is pretty much the same.

I totally finished all of my book summaries, and I really do feel pretty confident in them. I did some reading up on author bios and decided to pass on doing one because I learned that it doesn't really matter that I'm obsessed with pink and sparkles, and I don't have any achievements to share, so hopefully my summaries are good. Pray for that, please!

I miss writing so much, though. I miss coming on here to type my thoughts and shares messages that God puts on my heart. I looked at my faith category the other day and realized I don't have very many blog posts. I also desperately miss typing stories. I love blogging, but I will always love writing books better. I need to get started on a new book, and that will be happening soon because I've picked my idea.

It's also so easy to feel down about the sadness of our world. Like I said, the devil knows where to hit me. I have had one of the most loneliest months of my life. I know I've always mentioned feeling alone, but now I am alone. At school, at least. And I can't tell you how hard that is. I do have friends that I'm getting closer to, and hopefully they'll be in my classes next year. But 7th grade has been a hard, hard year. I'm just trying to stay above water until summer.

Being a Christian is lonely. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I could turn people off by saying that, but you know what, they need to know the reality. Being a Christian that never does anything with your faith and goes out and does whatever they want is being worldly, and they may be saved, but they're missing a LOT of blessings and comfort. It's easy for me, as someone who does aspire to be passionate about my faith, to get mad at people who call themselves Christians but aren't passionate. It makes me not even want them to call themselves that, but just like God will punish you for your sins, He will also reward the good you've done.


More of my thoughts on showing your faith: Show It


Anyway, there's a lot of people like THAT in my grade, but there's still some legit, genuine Christians in this world. And I'm so thankful for those people. They know who they are. I won't even go on a rant about being lonely at school because you all have heard it a million times by now; the only thing that's changed is just some decisions I made and, as a result, am alone. But hey, I'm not giving up.

I know that God has a plan, even through this. One night I was really upset and felt like there was no hope for my situation, but I was quickly proved wrong, and I've written many times about God's plan for us. I know that, even in this, God is strengthening me. Something better is coming. Something greater lies ahead because of this, and I know that because in James 1:2-4 it tells us that trials strengthen us. God is going to use this. It sucks being alone, but it doesn't matter. Once again, distractions. I go to school for an education.



I need your prayers, though, please. I'm not going to lie because it still hurts me, and I so desperately wish that things were different because we need people in our life. But they're not. At school, anyway. So I'm just doing the best I can and focusing on Him. In the meantime I mediate on these verses:

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
— 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG
‘But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.’
— 2 Chronicles 15:7
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
— Isaiah 41:10
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
— Jeremiah 29:11

On the days I want to give up, I remind myself why I do this - to be a light. I know God loves me (Zephaniah 3:17 and many other verses). I know He'll never leave me (Deuteronomy 31:8). I need to persevere and be a light not for my reward (though I won't lie, a reward is exciting, and I'm so grateful for it - I don't know how you can doubt God's love) but so others will know Jesus. (Galatians 6:9) The thing is, I have doubted God's love and His plan and literally everything else thanks to the devil, but who am I to talk? I believe his lies way more than I should, so I've been praying about that and getting into the Word and Truth.

It's especially easy to fear when you look at our country these days. I know I shouldn't, but I fear a lot for our country. We are headed down dangerous ground, but I know God won't leave me and the people who are still living for Him. Those people are out there.

Now, let's insert the verses about patience. So I've been writing this post while trying to upload photos to Walmart to print. I had 140 some photos in the cart, all cropped how I wanted, and I was going to go check out, but I needed to double check something, so I went back, and now THEY'RE ALL GONE. Insert my "this close" motions again because that's how close I am to saying/doing something ungodly. Moving on.

Back to our conversation. On a happier note, I'm done talking about sad things like feeling alone, fear, or dumb photo happenings. One day those photos will come off my phone. I have no idea when. Sometime in the next decade would be nice. In honor of photos, let's post some.

This was when the shelf was gone finally. Now I moved my dresser over there and got a new nightstand on the other side of my bed.

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Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
— Matthew 6:34 NIV
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My mom has been making these a lot for me lately. I haven't gone to the place of amazing cheeseballs yet because these are the same if not better. They even look the same. Read about that place here. They are so good. You have not had good cheseseballs until you've had hers.

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I've been going for a lot of walks and overcoming my fear of bees slowly but surely. ;) Shots like these just make me in awe of God's creation. I know He's with me.

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Here is the new nightstand. I desperately needed one with shelves because I had piles of stuff on my other one. My room actually looks organized, and I'm going to try and keep it that way.

My room theme is obviously pink also with white because when you have a white dog that sheds as much hair as there is grass outside....

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White-Nightstand

Gramps and Grams came down to see us!! Grams and I took lots of selfies as usual and, oh my gosh, Snapchat filters are amazing. I have the greatest pictures of her ever, but I promised her I wouldn't show anyone, so I'll refrain here. But they are the greatest, Snapchat filters.

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I need to share a win: I actually have some great photos with Willy. It took five million years to get the picture, but we got it.

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I ran a lot too. We sat on the deck a lot. And I'm showing you this picture because I thought you'd want to know if I had legs. That might be important for running, so I had to make sure.

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See, these filters. We've also been eating really healthy. Redesigning your blog calls for it.

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On Saturday, the skies were very hazy from the fires in Canada? Remember when they were pink over the summer?! You should read about that here!

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One of our cars that we've had for a LONG time was finally being towed away because it had been broken a long time. It was kind of a sad thing, but nothing stays the same except for God and His promises. I'm thankful for that. It was yet another reminder that what I'm in will pass. I need to make sure I don't lose sight of Him.

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I have been needing new shorts for oh so long, and my mom, Grandma, and I headed over to the Tanger Outlets to get some finally.

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Justice had just what we needed. That was definitely an answered prayer because I thought it would be a huge pain to find some, but we did, and it was really easy to be honest. Mom made sure they never dropped below the length haha. We found my size in one pair, and she held up every other pair to the previous pair.

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And finally I GOT MY EARS PIERCED at Claire's! I thought it was going to hurt so bad because you know me, the biggest wuss ever. But it really didn't. It just felt like someone poking a pen at my ears. I think it hurts worse when I pinch my ears than when they did it (yes, I pinched my ears multiple times leading up to this; I was TRYING to be prepared). The ladies did both of my ears at the same time, which I really liked.

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On Snapchat, the big thing is face swaps right now, and oh my gosh, you can upload a photo of someone, and it will put their face on yours. So here is Willy!!

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This one will traumatize you, though.

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What have you all been up to?! What can I pray for you for? Comment below! Hopefully I'll be writing more soon. If it's not on the blog, it will be books I'd hope. I might also play around with short stories this month. We'll see.

And I might be doing some design things. I can't help it. The struggle for me is that I want this site to look professional because Sparkles by Ashlee is still a brand, and I want it for my writing, so I can find a design that will accomplish that. But then it doesn't look like a blog very much. The blog isn't as inviting. I can't find that balance! Plus, I really really really REALLY love photos, and I love when photos are a part of my site, and I don't know. Do you have any design advice for me?! Or an idea on what Squarespace template could accomplish all three of those things?!

Thank you all for tuning in! Keep your eyes on Him. Peace out pretty people.