Living In Fearless Gratitude

Someone I once knew used the phrase “fearless gratitude” as her mantra. She was a vibrant girl whom I treasured and I honestly can say she did live fearlessly grateful. She loved life and she was thankful for her place in life. And I held this girl to such prestige for those very reasons.

I knew this girl during some of my more gloomy days when I struggled to be both fearless and grateful. I marveled at her perseverance towards positivity even when times were tough. I watched from a distance and wanted to be more like her. I grew closer to her, hoping some of her resolve would rub off on me. She was a role model to me as I sat in my shade, and I yearned to live with fearless gratitude one day as well.

Over the years, I catch myself thinking back on how I idolized this girl. When a difficult situation arises and I find myself drawing back into the shadows I think of her. I think of her continuous smile, constant air of happiness, and ease of brushing things off her shoulders. And so I choose to say, “No. Not today. Today I’m going to live in fearless gratitude.” And I do — I change my thoughts and find strength in the silver linings of situations.

Yet sometimes I need more assistance than just my own convictions. And today was one of those days.

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Reblog: It Takes Losing What You Were Settling For To Remember What You Deserve

I think it’s a natural occurrence to look back on your life and marvel at the changes over the years. Though there may be some changes you would like to reroute to their original path, most changes have probably been for the better. It is normal to want to strive to be better and do better and become better in all areas of your life. Some may argue that is the very concept of humanity — to grow into our own perspective of better with every passing year.

With that in mind, I was perusing one of my favorite sites to pass the time and came across an article by Raina Naim who discusses how loss can change us for the better. If you’re someone who has been following my blog over the years, this is one of my key beliefs also. I am a firm believer that when you lose something it is only because something better is about to take it’s place. I know of a few friends out there who need to hear this message, and Raina says it beautifully…

Continue reading “Reblog: It Takes Losing What You Were Settling For To Remember What You Deserve”

6 Lessons I Learned In 6 Months Of Marriage

Today marks a half-year since G and I said “I do” in front of our loved ones and God. Honestly, I cannot believe it has only been six months. A lot has happened during that time including a career shift for G, both of us enrolling into coursework, a new truck and house, an adorable nephew, and all the other thrills of being newlyweds with busy schedules. While enjoying sushi at our favorite restaurant on Friday, we reminisced about all of our milestones since the wedding. The ink is barely dry on the marriage certificate, but we are excited for the next memory we’re able to make in this adventure.

One thing we had fun talking about over dinner was what we’ve learned so far as newlyweds. Some were foretold during marriage counseling and illuminated during our few months as newlyweds, others we’ve uncovered on our own. We have learned a lot in this short amount of time, and I can only imagine how much more we have to discover.

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What Love Isn’t

At the beginning of this week, I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine on the topic of heartbreak. Though not a topic I’ve discussed in awhile, it brought a lot of memories to mind as I recollected on my past. Then today as I was driving to volleyball I heard the song Love Ain’t by Eli Young Band on the radio. The song portrays what love is by giving examples of what “love ain’t.” It had me thinking even more deeply on the topic. Add this with the knowledge that this weekend marks six months of married bliss — something which I once could only dream of achieving — I formulated my own version of what love is not.

Playing off the idea from the song Love Ain’t, I began to take note of instances in my past which I thought were love but turned out to be a mirage. Fleeting and forced feelings, endless questions, and a myriad of memories where silver-linings are hard to find.  With all these circulating thoughts, I began to consider the misguidance and mishaps of my past which shaped what love truly means to me.

My love-journey captures a variety of things: from snippets of hurt I’ve seen in my friends’ lives to the pain of my own, as well as my own failings in relationships and regrets of what I could have done instead. Pain is unavoidable through Life, but I’ve always aimed to learn from the hurt. Without knowing what love isn’t, I would never have discovered what love is. As I move forward with joy over the true love I have found and relish in knowing the pain it took to realize what I deserved, here is my own version of what love is not…

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Share Blog: Love What Matters

I am blessed to call some amazing women my closest friends. Playing off my last post on what and who is my Tribe, I felt it necessary to share this raw and inspiring story from one of my Pink Ladies, Katie, as it provides a beautiful testimony as to the characters of those in my Tribe.

Katie is one of those rare women who can take the worst situation and find the gem in its midst. Life happens to us all, and I know this girl has had a lot of lemons thrown her way lately. Yet having survived what some may say is the hardest battle of all — the battle for your own life — Katie persists with a smile on her face and overwhelming love in her heart. No matter what she is going through in her personal life, she makes time to check in on those she loves and be available for a chat or hug. For someone who could very easily choose to be selfish and focus on her own struggles, Katie will not allow anyone to feel sadness and pain alone. She is the very definition of a servant heart.

As I read through her inspiring testimony for the 65,245,897th time, I marvel at the determined, persistent, and optimistic woman I have in my Tribe. I could not be more humbled to have Katie call me her friend in return.

Please read her inspiring story here. (This story was originally submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Hess.

I love you, Katie, and all that you symbolize — you are more than my friend, you are a role model.

Reblog: Six Questions That Will Radically Change Your Marriage

There is no greater joy than those nights when I get off work, go home, and spend time with my husband. I am relishing being a homebody. I love having empty nights to relax and simply work on making our house a home. I am completely happy having no set schedule to my life. Saying those words out loud is odd. Given who I had been for so many years — that girl with every evening planned, every weekend booked, every second determined — I sometimes feel lost in the simplicity of my life these days. However, as I use some of my free time reading, I am more and more aware that this phase in my life, just as my phase before, will come and go sooner or later. Sometime in the future my schedule will begin to be flagged with children’s events, school outings, and motherly duties. I’m extremely excited for that future, but also very reluctant to let go of my current phase.

G and I have discussed this concept of changing phases a lot lately. Our schedules may not be packed with external events, but our “Home Projects” list grows daily. It seems that no matter the season of Life, we are always busy. Even if that means my busyness is confined to the walls of my house. As G and I continue to prepare our marriage to be the best and happiest possible, we want to intentionally connecting to one another as well as to our Lord. However, that goal is a very difficult thing to measure. Luckily, we ran across this amazing post by Justin Davis of RefineUs on how he and his wife intentionally connect in the chaos of Life, and I didn’t feel I could define “intentional connection” better. Please enjoy what Justin and his wife, Trish, do weekly to better their marriage… Continue reading “Reblog: Six Questions That Will Radically Change Your Marriage”

The Ugliness of Self-Care

Today I want to talk about self-care. True self-care. Not the romanticized and trendy version the world is constantly pushing down our throats. Not the bath bombs and face masks and #treatyourself high-dollar purchases and ritual meditations the world seems so eager to focus on for peak lifestyles.

No, I’m talking about real self-care. The self-care that is often a very unbeautiful thing.

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Advice To Myself At 18-Years-Old

Last Friday G and I were leaving the county clerk’s office to apply for our marriage license when we ran into one of my high school teachers. Even though I graduated eight years ago (O.M.G. has it truly been that long ago?!) we recognized one another right away. Partly due to me working for him at summer camp for several years, but also because I come from a high school boasting an average of 30 graduating students each year. In other words, there aren’t that many students to forget.

After a bit of catching up, I asked him how his school year had gone and how many more days until summer break. I don’t keep up with my old high school so I was surprised to hear the senior class would be graduating the next day. The whole encounter had me vaguely reminiscing on the past and all the changes which have happened since I stood on the stage myself in my cap and gown.

Then today my Facebook’s daily memory was of my graduation. Looking through my FB photo album of that day in 2010 had so many memories flowing.  I could recall the feelings on that day: the fears of the future, the thrill of college looming, the excitement of my first summer as an “adult.” It was like looking into the life of a stranger. There have been many lessons learned since that day. So many experiences have brought me to where I am today and molded me into this 26-year-old Ashley.

The memories continued as I was lazily scrolling one of my nightly go-to apps and came across a great question posted by RobbeVermont. The user asked,  “What is something you wished you knew when you were 18 years old?” And as I read through the vast majority of the 10,800+ comments I realized so many of the life advice being provided were 110% on the money. Pulling all three discoveries together — the run-in with my teacher, the flashback of my graduation, and this Reddit question — I started listing a few key topics I wished I’d known upon leaving high school and considered what difference hearing that advice as an 18-year-old would have made. Perhaps none, but then again, maybe some…

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#Inspiration: Ceremony Aesthetics

Though I absolutely love writing, I know my last few posts have been very word-heavy. So! To move into a more eye-pleasing post, let’s go to another #Inspiration board, eh?

Today’s topic is on our ceremony decor and ritual. I have been going back and forth on ideas for decor at the ceremony, which is in our church, and finally made a decision on what I want to do. With us running towards the end of our budget, I have no plans to make anymore big purchases so I’m relying on my thriftiness to put the final touches together.

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