Seasonal Changes

Fall has just started. I see Fall as a season of shedding and preparation. The leaves on the trees change and begin to fall in preparation for winter. Animals scurry about to prepare food and shelter while there’s still time to gather. The weather starts to cool down and we prepare ourselves with warmer clothing and generally heartier food.

The smell of pumpkin spice is in the air…that’s how we really now fall is here, right?

While trees are shedding their leaves outside, it’s a good time to reflect inside on what you may need to shed during this season of your life.

Maybe summer changed you. Maybe you realized some things in your life aren’t meant to be anymore.

Do you need to shed some old habits? Do you have items that need to be let go? Do you have thoughts that need to be changed?

Embrace the shedding that Fall brings. Let go of old habits and make room for new ones. Let go of things that no longer suit you. Let go of thoughts that hold you back.

We tend to hold onto things just because it’s what we know. Sometimes we continue doing things because it’s what others expect out of us. Don’t continue doing things you no longer want to do. Don’t be afraid to change because of what others think of you.

Letting go can be difficult. However, it’s often a necessary step in preparing for more. Sometimes we don’t see the things that could be because we have too many things blocking our view.

Shake off the old season and step into the new.

Take advantage of the seasonal changes both inside and out.

 

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be seasonal!

xoxo

Ash

 

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Does Compassion Make You Stronger?

When you hear the word compassion what comes to mind? Being sympathetic towards others? Giving to charity? Helping the hungry?

Compassion is multifaceted. It doesn’t just help those who are being shown compassion either. It can help the one choosing compassion. Showing compassion can make you stronger.

 

Compassion can mean changing your perspective. This isn’t something I’d like to admit, but I used to think that we needed to help everyone in our own country before helping those in other countries. I became desensitized watching the news of impoverished countries and the same commercials asking for monthly support for a child in need.

My perspective changed when people I know personally went and helped others in another country. Seeing them hold children who get one meal a day somehow makes it real. I was able to let go of how I felt before and look at it in a different way. Being able to change your perspective makes you stronger.

 

Compassion can mean forgiving others. We can easily forget when someone does wrong or hurts us it is often due to their own internal struggle or problem in their life. The easy thing to do is get offended and react harshly. And what good does that generally do?

The strong thing to do is pause and consider the cause. Next time someone hurts you or lashes out at you, calmly ask them why they are doing this instead of being quick to anger. You might be surprised at how quickly anger can be diffused when you try to get to the root of it.

 

Compassion can mean doing the little things. Having compassion doesn’t always have to be about some grand cause. You can have compassion in everyday situations. Open the door for the mother pushing the stroller and carrying groceries. Let the person who whipped across the parking lot have the empty space without getting angry. You don’t know what kind of day they’ve had or why they’re in a hurry.

I could go on and on with the little things, but you get the point. Small acts of compassion in everyday life makes you stronger.

Thinking about others instead of just ourselves is not a weakness. I know on social media we really embrace the “take care of you.” That’s fine. We need to take care of ourselves to better help others. Just don’t get so busy focusing on you that you forget to care for others too.

 

“…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Col. 3:12

 

Be brave!

Be strong!

Be compassionate!

xoxo

Ash

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Embrace Your Scars

Scars…We all have them. I used to think I had to hide my scars or deny that they are there. Now, I see them differently. These scars I bear have a purpose.

They serve as reminders. Some remind me of what hurt me so that I remember not to go back down that path. Some scars are there to remind me of the strength God gave me to make it through that battle. When I think I might not get through my current situation, these scars remind me that I can.

Then there are scars that are there to keep me humble. These scars remind me that I played with fire and got burned. I thought I knew best, but I was wrong. These scars run deep and still hurt sometimes. They serve as a reminder that I am forgiven, and I need God, always.

Many scars fade over time as we learn the lessons from those seasons. Some last forever so we don’t forget what caused that pain or who got us through it. Some are there for others to see that they are not alone and someone else has been there too. Sometimes others are meant to see our scars so that we can provide the wisdom they need to spare them from the same pain.

Whether they are fresh or old, don’t waste so much time trying to hide them. We all fall sometimes. We get too close to the fire. We get burned. We get cut. We get bruised by this life. And that’s okay.

Because we get back up. We keep moving forward. And we use them to live better.

Be brave. Embrace your scars. They are a part of your story. Let them serve their purpose.

xoxo

Ash

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Rip Off the Labels

Sometimes we feel so stuck by our past mistakes or focused on the mistakes of others, and we forget about redemption.

We are too quick to label people.  Do you know what drives me crazy?

Seeing hateful memes on social media, memes that box people in and beat people down.

For example, the “once a …” phrases…

            Once a liar, always a liar.

            Once a cheater, always a cheater.

            Once a quitter, always a quitter.

Um, hello! Where’s the forgiveness, the redemption, and the hope? What kind of hope is being given when someone posts, shares, or likes statements like that above?  Seriously! Think about it. Every time you sin, screw up, or do something stupid, do you want to be labeled by it? I sure don’t. Do you want someone assuming that whatever it was you did wrong you are going to keep doing for the rest of your life? No, thank you.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  (Romans 3:23-24)

We have all sinned. All of us. We get that part, right? Many of us have heard Romans 3:23 time and time again.  But, we don’t usually hear the next verse.

We have been redeemed. We don’t have to walk around wearing our sins or mistakes as labels.  Imagine seeing people walking around with the labels liar, cheater, quitter, thief. Now, could that possibly save us from getting involved with some dangerous people? Yes.  However, if you looked at your own labels from past mistakes, would they scare people away too?

A lot of people would avoid people for the things they did in their past. They may have spent the last twenty years doing all they can to be a better person though. So, let’s stop with the labels.

Don’t let this world tell you who you are always going to be and don’t do it to others.

Be brave!

Rip off the labels!

xoxo

Ash

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Be True To You

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to win people over? Do you make decisions based on what others may think?

Just be true to you.

This is something I’m learning to do a little better. I’m learning to push away the “what if” thoughts.

“What if they think that’s not Christian enough?”

“What if they think I’m too Christian?”

“What if they don’t like me because I eat meat?”

“What if they scoff at me because I don’t eat that?”

“What if they roll their eyes at me because I talk about essential oils?”

“What if they think I’m crazy trying to work from home?”

Guess what? It shouldn’t really matter. If I spend my days basing my decisions around what others may or may not think, then I’m not being true to myself.

When the decisions you’re making aren’t true to you then you start to lose yourself. You lose confidence in who you are and what you want.

You’re the one that has to live with you. You need to be happy with the decisions you make because it’s your life. Nobody else is walking your path. Nobody else knows the plans God has placed in your heart. Nobody knows what you feel.

Remember those things when you start to question what someone else will think of your decision.

At the end of the day, what YOU think of the decisions you make is what matters. So be true to you!

 

Be brave!

Be blessed!

xoxo

Ash

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Reflection of a Photograph

Reflection of a Photograph

I look at the photo above from a year ago and reflect on what that girl knew then versus what this girl knows now.

I was in Arizona, accompanying a friend on her business trip so I could help with her baby. I had no idea how much that trip would affect me.

The girl that decided to be brave and walk downtown in a city she had never been to before had no idea how big of a step that would be in becoming more independent and less afraid. I enjoyed the sunshine and the beautiful little store fronts as I walked alone. I sat in a corner diner at a small table and enjoyed an ice cream cone alone. I was alone, but I didn’t feel lonely. I was alone, but I didn’t feel anxious about it. I was alone, and I was actually enjoying it.

Now, some might think this is not that big of a deal, but it is for me. I used to be afraid of being alone. I used to have anxiety. In college, I could give a speech in front of the classroom and be okay, but I hated walking into a new classroom for the first time. I didn’t like driving somewhere I had never been before. I didn’t like being in crowds. I didn’t like things to change. All these things caused me anxiety.

So saying yes to traveling by plane with my friend and her two month old really wasn’t the type of situation I thought I would find myself in, but I did. I prayed about it. I asked God to help me be helpful to her. Doing something like this for myself would’ve been a nightmare to me. This was for her though. I was there to help her. Being able to focus on helping her actually ended up helping me.

It was helping me stay calm when I normally would have been stressed out.

This trip was preparing me for things I didn’t know about yet. Venturing out alone downtown was preparing me to be less dependent on man, to trust God more, and to be less afraid. I didn’t know the challenges I was about to face. I didn’t know that the rest of that year would be about letting go of the fears I held so tightly and trusting God. I didn’t know the things I thought were important would no longer be important. I didn’t know how much my life could change in a year.

I know now that I don’t have to be so afraid of change. I know now that I don’t have to depend on others for my happiness. I know now that I can face the unknown. I know now that I can do more alone.

A few weeks ago, I went back to our local home improvement store because they were having another garden sale. I went without my husband this time. If you read my post about our experience going together then you know that these sales can get pretty crowded and chaotic. I decided I could handle it alone. My husband usually drives us, but I had to drive myself this time. When I got there, the parking lot was so full that cars were beginning to back up on the road. It wasn’t that busy last time. So I was a bit surprised at this. I stayed calm though, managed to find a parking space, and braved the crowded garden center on my own. I found a few of the items I wanted, made it through the checkout line with both hands full, and made it out of the crowded parking lot.

I was so happy to be able to make it through that experience alone and not have anxiety. I was so excited to tell my husband about it when I got home, and he was proud of me. It made me feel good for him to understand how much of an accomplishment that was for me after being a first-hand witness to the anxiety I had before.

Sometimes though, you are the only one who knows how far you have come, and that is okay.

If you are not where you want to be yet, hang in there. You don’t know what is ahead. Also, don’t worry about what is ahead. Focus on what you are doing now. For what you are doing now may actually be preparing you for something that’s coming.

When you have moments when you are at peace, or extremely happy with yourself, savor those times. I savored that alone time in Arizona. I locked that memory in because even though I didn’t know what was ahead, I knew it was worth holding onto.

I pray that you will be able to look back at your own moment captured in a photograph, or a sparked memory, and be grateful for what it has taught you.

Be brave!

xoxo

-Ash

 

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Let’s Help Each Other

Last weekend hubby and I went to an early morning garden sale at one of our local home improvement stores. The Lawn & Garden department becomes quite crowded during this event. Customers frantically move from section to section searching for the veggies, trees, or flowers they want. It most certainly is not the place to be if one has anxiety. It can quickly become an overwhelming experience.

This is our third year at this sale. So we know what to expect now. We also know that it works best for us to not get a shopping cart and just carry the items we need between the two of us.. Shopping carts get you stuck in aisles. When people get stuck, patience fades quickly, and anger rises. Anyway, the whole ordeal turns into a circus.

I realized something this year though. If customers help each other, it becomes a much more pleasant experience. I realized customers were just taking turns nudging their way up certain aisles, and then they would read the tags on the items just to discover the item they wanted was not in that section. After a few minutes of doing this myself, I realized I could just speak up to the person in front of me who was checking the tags on the items and ask if my item was one of them. I mean, what are they going to do? Either answer me, or ignore me, right? So why not speak up?

I did this again while trying to find a certain tomato variety. A nice older gentleman said he had not seen it yet, but he had seen this other variety. Then a woman came up asking about the variety the man had just mentioned. So I let her know the gentleman next to me had seen that kind. After looking around a bit more, I heard a woman mention an item I was looking for still. So I asked her about it, and she politely informed me that they were in front of her. While searching for the lettuce I wanted, I let another woman know what was in front of me.

Do you see where this is going?

I noticed that once a few of us were helping each other, more people started speaking up and helping also. Sometimes people need to hear others ask for help, or offer help, in order for them to do the same. One person can start a chain reaction.

If I had remained quiet and too afraid to ask a stranger in front of me for help, I would have spent a lot more time searching for the items I wanted. I was grateful for the help I received, and in turn, I helped others.

I want to encourage you to be someone who starts a positive chain reaction. Look for the opportunities in your day to help others see the benefit in helping others.

Be brave. Speak up!

Xoxo

-Ash

 

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Setbacks Don’t Mean Failure

Setbacks Don’t Mean Failure

Sometimes I am just a mess. When the tears are flowing I feel like I am falling apart. I turn something simple into something complicated, and then before I know it, I am kicking myself.

“You’re not strong. You’re not brave. Seriously, some brave girl you are… You’re just a mess! Who are you kidding? Just give up now.”

I go back and replay the situation that caused this breakdown in my head, thinking of how I wish I had handled it from the start.

Then the regret sinks in. I regret my indecisiveness, which led to causing confusion for someone else, which led to aggravating my husband, which led to me fighting back tears. I regret letting the tears fall down my face. I regret kicking myself. I regret my regret.

Then I realize I need to stop before I get too deep into the dark abyss. As I breathe through the tears and regain my peace, I realize I am okay. It is okay.

Rome was not built in a day.

I am still growing on this journey. I am still learning to change my thinking and be more confident in my decisions.

I am not going to let others discourage me during setbacks. You know those nasty insecurities that cause others to be mean? Don’t let them project those on you. We are all on our own journey. So if they have something to say about you messing up, remind them that the race is not over. We are all a work in progress.

There are going to be setbacks. When you are trying to more confident, you are going to come across challenges that cause you to question yourself. When you are trying to eat better, you may have times when you give into that craving. When you are trying to break a bad habit, you may momentarily give into it again. We just mess up sometimes. Don’t let those moments, or days, make you give up the entire race.

This is a process, not an overnight change. I don’t have to give up because of a setback. I have not failed the entire day because of a few moments. The day is not over. I have nothing but opportunity to improve from here. I’m running a marathon, not a sprint.

So let’s shake off the bad thoughts. Let’s stop sulking. Let’s stop kicking ourselves over mistakes.

Put down the potato chips, or the tub of ice cream. Dry your eyes. Put a smile on that beautiful face, and keep moving forward.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

I can do this! YOU can do this! WE can do this!

Brave Girl – Arise!

XOXO

-Ash

 

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Be Brave, Not Mean

Women need to stop being mean. You want to be brave? Be kind. Speak up and say something nice. I think it takes more courage to compliment someone these days than it does to tear them down.

It’s so sad how often women put other women down, and it’s not just by what we say. Criticism is seen in our actions too: scoffing, eye-rolling, those head-to-toe looks.

I would ask why we do this to each other, but I know why.

The main reason is insecurity, and it is ugly. Insecure women hurt other women. Don’t hate the skinny girl because you want to be thinner. Don’t hate the married girl because you are single. Don’t hate the momma because you wish you had kids.

Whatever is going on in your life is not the fault of these other women. So don’t squash their happiness.

Some women seem to just be mean in general and proud of it. I don’t know if they learned this from the women in their family, or if it is a behavior cultivated by society. Being mean is not something to be proud of friends.

Some women don’t realize how mean they are being. I know this. I used to be one of these women. I regret that it took many years for me to see how I was treating others, but I can’t go back and change the past. So I worked to become a better me going forward. It took daily work to change my thoughts and actions to get where I am today.  And there’s always room for improvement.

I have a friend that I admire. When I see her difficult yoga poses, I think, “Yay for her!” When I see her post photos, or videos of her kids, I am proud of her for being a good momma. When I see her posts about date night, or events with her hubby I am happy for her.

Do you know what I’m not? I’m not jealous of her. Does she do things I want to do? Does she have things I want to have someday? Yes. Does her ability to do these things, or have these things take away my ability? Nope. Not. At. All.

If I want to do the yoga poses she does, then it is on me to stretch, practice, and fall until I either get it right, or decide maybe it’s not really my thing to do.

So what do I do? I support my friend. I encourage her. I cheer her on! I am happy for her!

I’m inspired by her, and I tell her this.  You know what?  I inspire her too. She encourages me too.  She’s happy for me too.

I am extremely grateful for our friendship and our ability to genuinely be happy for each other.

This world is mean enough. Be brave, and choose kindness. Be supportive and happy for others. It just might amaze you how much it can improve your overall attitude.

Mean Girl – Change your ways!

Brave Girl – Arise!

XOXO

-Ash

 

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I Used to be Afraid

I used to be so afraid. Afraid of change.  Afraid of failing.  Afraid of what people think of me.  Afraid of not being good enough.  Afraid of not fitting in.  Afraid of standing out.  Afraid of death. Just afraid.

used to…Oh, sweet past tense!

I am no longer so afraid.  I am no longer a slave to fear.  I choose to not let fear control my life anymore.

My life has changed drastically in the past 5 years, and I am taking steps to purposely change it over the next 5 years.  I am tired of living afraid.  Life is going to change whether I move or sit still.  So I might as well bravely make the moves myself towards the me I want to be, instead of letting this world decide who I am.  Bye-bye fear of change!

I am going to fail sometimes. Accepting that saves me from worrying. I used to spend too much time worrying about whether or not something was going to work out. I used to get upset when I tried something new and it didn’t work out.  I thought it was a waste of my time.  I would never know if could do it though if I had not tried. Failure is bound to happen. Sometimes we have to find out what doesn’t work in order to find what does. Bye-bye fear of failing!

What people think of me really isn’t any of my business. I have come to learn that no matter how much I try, I can’t change what some people think of me. I’m learning to accept that it really doesn’t matter what others think of me anyway. What matters is what God thinks of me. If I am living for Him, then I am doing what I need to do regardless of what others think about my life. Bye-bye fear of what others think!

All I can do is what I can do, and what I can do is enough.” I’m not sure where that quote originated, but it has become a good mantra for me. I used to strive for perfection – in school, in marriage, at work. I was afraid of not being good enough for my parents, for my husband, and for my job. That fear only hurt me. So now I am accepting that my best is good enough. I am good enough. Bye-bye fear of not being good enough!

I used to think I needed to fit in. I needed my hair to be straighter. I needed to wear name-brand clothes. I was afraid that my curly hair, my department store clothes, and my braces made me stand out. We’re supposed to outgrow this need to fit in after high school, right? I thought so. Then I grew up and found myself still trying to fit in—at work, at church, at the gym. Good grief! It’s exhausting trying to fit in. I’m becoming more and more comfortable with who I am as I’m working on being the best me now. Bye-bye fear of not fitting in and fear of standing out!

I am no longer afraid of dying. I am a Christian. If I’m living for God, then death means something better than this life on Earth. I’m learning to appreciate the short time I have here, and use it more purposefully. Bye-bye fear of death!

Afraid Girl – No more!

Brave Girl – Arise!

XOXO

-Ash

 

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