Sicky, Sneezy, and a couple other dwarves.

Sicky. That’s what Brooke calls me (affectionately) whenever I’m sick. She’ll come in my room, where I have been trying to score baskets with my used, snotty tissues (and missed a good portion of the time, so there’s a ring of tissues around my trash can on the floor), and sit on my bed for a second. Then she sees that my room is all messy and my blinds are closed and it looks like a tomb in there because I feel like I’m about to die anyways, so it doesn’t matter if it’s messy. So she gets up and starts folding clothes, asking where things go. She opens my blinds and takes all the germy cups off my nightstand. Then she brings me a cup of tea and says, “feel better, Sicky,” in a sort of baby voice that makes me feel like I’m the little sister – oh, wait, I am – and leaves.

It’d bother her to death if she was sick and her room was messy. She wouldn’t be able to get better until her rooms as clean. So, her way of taking care of me and helping me to get better includes helping me be a neater person.

That’s when she’s home. Right now, I’m having to weather the storms of illness without her. It’s all right; my mom takes good care of me. But this time I don’t get to stay home. I have to go to school even though I feel bad.

Somewhere in the last two years it became a lot harder to miss school. You not only have to do worksheets and make up reading assignments, but you’ll have to learn what everyone else learned while they were healthy and in class.

I just don’t miss school much. It’s less stressful – believe it or not – to be sick at school than to have to do all the makeup work later.

Such is life.

So, I stock up on Kleenex and Halls and tea, and I sniff my way through class, and I sneeze while driving.

I almost didn’t go to youth group tonight because I just felt so sicky. It was one of those times where I knew that I would probably benefit from going, but my head was saying, I hurt. there’s too much congestion here. we’ve got to evacuate some of these sinus issues. All the signs pointed to not going, but I went anyways. Because who knows if there was something I needed to hear?

We talked about foundations, the story at the end of Luke 6 where the wise guy builds his house on a rock foundation, and the foolish man doesn’t give his house a good foundation. Then the storm comes and the foolish guy’s house is completely destroyed. I was sitting there thinking about how many different people had told me this story, and wondering if maybe I should have just stayed home and taken care of my sicky self – but then someone brought up something that I had never thought about.

The storm didn’t just hit the house that didn’t have a foundation. the storm hit BOTH of the houses. The key difference is how they were affected. Both houses and their inhabitants had to face the storm, but, in the aftermath, one was way better off than the other.

Reminders are good. I have to remind myself not to tune something out because I’ve heard it before.

And now, on to tea, tissues, and calculus.

and listening to the new Switchfoot album. which I love – not surprisingly.

Unimpressionable… really?

You know those people who act like no matter what you do, you won’t have any impact on them?  It’s like they’re unimpressionable.  You’d think – at least at first – that anything you say or do would simply roll off their back, go in one ear and out the other.

So, maybe it doesn’t matter how I treat them?

That was a misconception I had to check myself on today.  Funny how easily I forget that people can put on façades as easily as I change clothes (about 4 times this morning).  Ashley needs to get it through her thick head that everything I say or do (or fail to say or do for that matter) has an effect on the people around me.  Not that I’m just so impactful (is that a word?) or influential, but it matters how I treat people.

Whenever I think about this, I always go back to all those Chicken Soup for the Soul books I read as a kid.

Devoured, more like it.

I’ve always liked reading pieces where you can connect emotionally with the subject, and those stories of reflection on hard times, neat people, and rampant emotion fed that craving.  There were dozens of stories about people who likely had no idea that a story was being written about them.  They may not have even known that they impacted that kid – they were just treating people the way they knew was right.

Going the extra mile, not simply in another’s shoes, but trading shoes with them so that the other person could walk better.  (Are you still following my train of thought?)  The “impactee” may have been the unimpressionable type.  They may not have let the “impacter” walk alongside them.  So, in an effort to serve, the impacter trades shoes with them.  He makes it easier for them to walk, even if he can’t walk alongside them.  He gives them something to take with them, something to leave a mark on their lives.

I hope that makes sense.

Today was one of those days where I woke up and thought school?  mmm, nope.  My throat hurts and my head might explode if I try to stuff more knowledge in it.  So I waited an hour and half (and a dose of ibuprofen, sudafed, and Dayquil later) to go to school.  I’m fairly certain that most of the things that  came out of my mouth didn’t make sense.

On a brighter note, my kind neighbor helped me get some of the toilet paper out of the trees in my yard with a golf ball retriever.  Take that, pranksters!  I developed a deeper relationship with someone I have lived next door to for 17 years because of you.  I should actually be thanking you for making such a horrid mess in my yard.  (actually, I won’t be thanking you anytime soon.)

On an even brighter note than that, I have officially become addicted to Spotify.  (this is going to be another one of my shameless promotions…  I should get paid for those.)  I’ve been listening to Mat Kearney’s new album (ah-mazing, in case you were wondering) mixed together with Gungor, Dave Mathews Band, Camila (yes, they’re Spanish), Adele, Jack Johnson, Mumford & Sons, and – of course – Switchfoot.  and it’s FREE!  I have no idea how that can be legal, but I’m just glad that it is.  And I will most definitely be using this to help me get through my homework.


Let’s try something new… how about a movie review?

I’ll cut to the chase: if you have to pay for it, don’t see “Abducted.”  I may have been destined to think it was ridiculously stupid since I don’t particularly like Taylor Lautner, but regardless, at the end I felt bad for the people who actually had to pay to get into it.  Lucky girl that I am, my boyfriend gets free movies since he works at the movie theater.

The whole point of Mr. Lautner getting chased by all these people was because of some stupid “list”, and I just realized that we never even found out what the list was!  Adam and I enjoyed making fun of the unrealistic dialogue and counted how many times the former werewolf took his shirt off (surprisingly only twice.  I bet his paycheck reflected that.), so it wasn’t a waste of time.

Other ways I didn’t waste time today: doing approximately 7 hours of homework/college applications – with breaks for sustenance in between and laundry.  It’s amazing what you can get done when you spend the entire day at home.  I cooked two meals today – giant pancakes for breakfast and macaroni and homemade cheese sauce for dinner – I even wore an apron.

It felt very independent to be my own food source, but I’m sure that if I had to fend for myself for every meal I wouldn’t cook that much.  Or I’d rack up a huge grocery bill buying tons of fun things to cook that I’d be completely broke.  On days where I do things for myself and accomplish every thing on my list, it’s easy to think that I’m self-sufficient, that I don’t need others’ help.  That I’m quite the human being.

Then I get sleepy and remember that I have limits and a need for Jesus.

Speaking of being sleepy, this will be a short post.  My pillow is calling me.

Lightbulb moment

“Detail your car while the sun shines and the weather is temperate.”

-Proverb by Ashley

I take pride in keeping Audrey clean and well-fed. She’s like my child. (since it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to actually be responsible for another human being’s life right now, I  instead baby my 11 year old vehicle.  It’s not even equivalent to having a pet, but oh well.)  About once every two weeks, she gets vacuumed out and Windex-ed.  Trash is for the trash receptacles, not for my dear, sweet car’s interior.  After I got all the sand and dirt and grime out from Audrey’s carpeting and mats, I decided to windex the outside of the windows.  While I did my from windshield, I realized how dumb I was being.  I have windshield wipers and wiper fluid to take care of that one!

Then I remembered that I was out of wiper fluid and finished cleaning the windshield with the Windex and paper towels.

That was when the lightbulb turned on.  I can replace my OWN wiper fluid! I thought.  I have no idea how to do that, but wouldn’t my daddy be proud?

Keep in mind that I am not familiar with an automobile engine AT ALL while reading the following story:  I found the button that pops my hood easily enough, and I felt under the hood for the button thingy that you have to push to make it open all the way… ( Isn’t my terminology fabulous?  )  A few minutes later, with greasy fingers and a hood that was successfully propped open (I can’t even tell you how cool I felt standing in front of my car with the hood open, looking at the engine… even though I really had no idea what I was viewing.) I ventured into our completely disorganized garage in hopes of finding wiper fluid.

I found it.

(This is the part where you clap.)

Hang on, wait for the really good part.  I looked around for a cap labelled “wiper fluid,” but apparently Japanese-made cars use symbols instead.  I opened the cap that looked most promising, poured the wiper fluid in, and tried out the squirter thingy.


That may seem like a  pointless story to you, but I needed to share my success story. There’s something extremely satisfying about figuring things out without the assistance of the owner’s manual.  I almost understand the stereotypical man who doesn’t like using maps and directions and manuals, but then again, I feel successful when I do something well according to the directions too.  I almost changed my aspirations from “international journalist” to “engineer” or “grease monkey”, but I know that just because I can change my wiper fluid doesn’t mean that I have the potential to do anything more spectacular in that area.

Stick to your strengths, Ashley.

The balance between godliness and responsibility… And some spontaneous Christmas spirit

As I drove home from my volleyball game to tonight, I found myself with a very full heart. God has been so gracious to me, and after I released some endorphins playing volleyball, I couldn’t help but thank Him.
Those are some of my favorite moments, driving alone in the dark and having a conversation with Jesus.
I would have liked to continue that, to come home and (after cleaning up a bit) grab Jonathan and play some worship songs. It would have been nice to get to write in my prayer journal for a while.
To spend some time feeling peace in God’s presence. To set aside the cares of my day and revel in His goodness.
Unfortunate, I had calculus homework that called my name too loudly to be ignored. And current events are due every Friday (thank goodness for the 10:00pm news to help me finish that one.) along with some reading about a Supreme Court case.
I’m a responsible student. I do my homework – and fairly quickly considering the myriad of assignments I was given. By 10:15, homework was put to bed, and I was about to give myself the same treatment.
Then I started wondering, am I too responsible? Am I so structured and careful about getting schoolwork done that I neglect my relationship with God? Maybe my priorities are skewed in thinking that I must get my homework done before spending time with God. Granted, Jesus and Ashley have a regular date every morning. And if I have anything else on my mind during that (like a massive amount of homework waiting for me when I finish), I have intense difficulty focusing on what I’m doing.
I think God deserves to have my full attention. So, maybe the answer to this is that I was right. Get homework done before you settle down with Jesus.
Then again, I might just be trying to justify my choice to get my homework done. Funny, I never thought I’d have to justify a choice to do homework.
Life has some unexpected twists and turns.
On another completely unrelated note, I am anticipating Christmas with much excitement. It seems pretty far away right now, especially since autumn begins tomorrow, but whenever a Christmas song comes up when my iPod is on shuffle I get a happy feeling in my heart and think of twinkling lights and snowflakes softly falling and cookies and a Christmas tree. And I think of being at church on Christmas eve, singing “silent night” as everyone holds their candles-the only light in the sanctuary- and marveling at how God sent Jesus to be born in such a humble manner.
For me.
“I celebrate the day that You were born to die, that I might one day pray to You to save my life.”
-relient k

a day of bad smells

clarification: not a bad day.  Just lots of bad smells.

We walked into Brit Lit today to find the the room smelled like a fish bowl.  (my teacher was very dismayed to hear that, as you can imagine.)  And that was just the beginning.  Then, on the way to hang out in the PSEO lab, my friend, Annie, and I encountered an awful, burning smell.  It was like burning popcorn and rubber all together – apparently a science teacher had burned something for her class…. and the smelled permeated the entire hallway, making us gag and run as fast as we could into the stuffy little room we call home for 4th hour.

Bad smell #3 was on the way home from physical therapy (where my physical therapist rubbed my stinky feet) when, as my windows were rolled down on the freeway, a truck bearing some sort of animal with gross animal smells blasted past me and blew stink into my little car.  Audrey was never meant to house smells like that.  So, I just left the windows down and waited patiently until I reached a better smelling area.

Then, I went to volleyball practice for moral support…. they all smelled pretty bad.

Gas stations smell bad too.

No matter, the aroma of my day didn’t affect how it went.  I’m getting started on my senior year list (since I only have 249 more days until I graduate).  SO far, I have taken on (1) leadership role and have given (1) unsolicited back massage.  We’re making progress, people.  Slowly, but surely.

My AP government teacher has a horrible habit of printing handouts that are not 3-hole punched.  So, Annie and I took it upon ourselves to make sure that he would NEVER forget again.

we made him a poster!

sharpies and posterboard.

"have you 3-hole punched today???"

He just laughed when we made a special delivery to his room.  It now hangs at the back of his room so that he’ll never forget again.

If he does forget, we have a backup plan.







missing bobby pins…. where are they now?

My mom says that I leave a trail of bobby pins around our house.  It’s a mystery to me how they could fall out of my hair so easily, but, someway or another, they leave the company of my massive hair.  Because of this, about once every year, I have to replenish my store of bobby pins at Walgreen’s.

So now, the interesting question is posed: where are they now?

Here are the suspects:

could they be in here?

or here? have fallen out in my sleep?

could they be in my closet?

in my messy bathroom?

or in my smelly gym bag?

It’s like the socks that go from hamper to washer to dryer but never come out of the dryer.  (In case you’re wondering – as I was until about 1st grade when I heard a song about it that cleared things up for me – they go to “Laundry Land”, a place for lost socks.)  I bet my poor little bobby pins get sucked up by the vacuum cleaner most of the time, or they get taken out with the trash.

Just something I was thinking about as I looked at my depleted stock of bobby pins this morning.

I woke up this morning with a full awareness of how I’d spent my weekend thus far.  The strains and soreness attributed to 6 volleyball matches over two days made me question whether it was really worth it to get up for church.

Of course, it was.  Once I got coffee and a chocolate chip waffle topped with peanut butter (such a good combination.  really.) into my system, the prospect of church seemed like a very good idea – a thought that was confirmed once I got to church.

Inevitably, the reality of taking two AP classes and a PSEO class no one’s ever taken before and also captaining the volleyball team and joining student government has set in this past week.  If I have a spare minute apart from volleyball or school,  it’s spent doing homework, eating, or sleeping.  Social life?  Well, that basically happens at school.  Resting?  7 hours of sleep a night will have to take care of that.

I’m definitely more of an 8+ hours type girl.

So, needless to say, this has all accumulated into a permanent feeling of stress.  It’s like someone has stuffed my heart and lungs into a mesh bag that’s a little too small for them – making it difficult to breathe sometimes.  And, what do you know: my pastor talked about “Avoiding Unnecessary Stress” this morning!  It’s part of a series of sermons that he calls, “PEACE UNDER PRESSURE.”  I call it the PUP series.

Funny that he didn’t mention AP classes and PSEO as “unnecessary stress”…

What he did mention was comparing yourself to other people.  I’ve done that before.  I think I did that this past week… a few too many times.

Comparison leads to conformity, he said.

True, since when I compare myself I usually decide that I want to be whatever that other person is that I am not.  Silly, because when I do that, I make a little box for myself that says that I cannot be anything more than what that other person is.  I decide that I have to be what they are because I like what they are.

Brooke and I spent a lot of time talking about that this summer.  We both have some problems with making too many commitments, saying “yes” to too many good things.  We had to remind ourselves that we don’t have to do everything that is good, because we’ll see people who spend a lot of time baking, or making handmade birthday cards, or serving at a homeless shelter, or doing children’s ministry, and we instantly think:  Look how awesome that thing is.  That person is so great for doing that.  I have to do absolutely everything that is good, so I am going to jump right on that bandwagon and make myself as stressed out as possible.  I am going to spread myself so thin that I will never be able to do anything well.  I’ll just do all these great things halfway and in a sub-par manner because it’s not at all what I’ve been called to do!  

That doesn’t sound healthy, does it?

I’ve learned about myself that I have to resist the temptation to think I have to be Gandhi and Mother Theresa and my sister and everyone else who ever helped mankind in any way because #1, I don’t have the talents and abilities that those people have, #2, I don’t have the passion about it they have, and #3, I have my own calling to attend to.  And that should consume my time. I can only answer my own call – I can’t pick up everyone’s phone and join the conversation.

And with that, I will begin to check off homework from my list.



sharing, brainwaves, and calculus

Our helpful English teacher is requiring our entire British Literature class to write a college admissions essay.  Haivng someone to grade it before an admissions counselor reads will be helpful, I think… unless her conclusion is that I will never get accepted with my essay.

Hopefully that isn’t the case.

So, in hopes of having a topic dictated to me, I went on my top college choice’s application and looked at the essays.

there are FIVE options.

count em, five.

One of them is how I would make the college a better place, one of them is a generic “got anything to tell us?” question, and I don’t remember two of them.  Only one of the questions captured my attention.  “Who has influenced you, and how?”

Hi, I’m Ashley, and I have a looooooooong list of people who have influenced me.  Let me just start off the list with my parents, whom I love very much.  Then I’ll move on to my sister, who set the bar high and apparently looks just like me.  Things get a little crazy when I get to all my friends from childhood through high school, but they had an influence on me, so I can’t just skip them!

Moving right along, I’ve had numerous fabulous teachers in both public and private school – and at church.  Oh boy, now we’re getting to church.  There’s quite a few there.  Lots of lovely, influential people go to my church.

I’ve gone quite a ways down this pathway when my teacher brings up the – very valid – point that one of the most typical things for people to do is to write about family members or friends or coaches who had a positive influence on their life.

Well, shoot.

No one wants to be THAT KID who writes the same essays as 300 other kids.

Especially me.  I have an innate desire to be completely unique because I have a firm belief that I am unique.  (If you haven’t noticed this by my sense of humor by now, you soon will, I’m sure.)

Then it came to me.  I don’t need to write about a positive influence, per say.

How about a person who I don’t like?  How about a person whose actions frustrated and repulsed me at times?  Someone who I saw as fake and overglorified?  Because, even though I – obviously – didn’t like this person, I am a better person because they were in my life.

So, that’s my brainwave for the day.  Now I’m actually excited to write this essay because I believe that I’ll be on the more unique side of college applicants.

I added a new link on my blog to a blog that I keep for school, writing about whatever my Bible teacher suggests for the week. is where you can find more of my writing, usually about philosophical, ethical topics.  It’s not quite as “free-range” as this one.

But everyone in my class has a blog now.  You know how I mentioned before that I like to be unique?  Well, I’m not anymore.  Now everyone has a blog, and I have to learn that it’s okay.  I can share.  Enthusiastically.

In other news, I’m not sure that I like calculus.

Optimism, positivity, happy thoughts

Today is one of those days where the bad things that happen flood my mind and make me forget all the wonderful moments. So, instead of wallowing or waxing eloquent about the stressors and such in my life, I am going to force myself to make a list of ten positives from my day.
Ten blessings.
Ten happy parts of a day that ended in frustration.
1. Lunch with one of the most encouraging teachers that I have
2. My hair looked decent. (after the first one, it’s becoming a lot harder…. Can you tell?)
3. My homework load was minimal.
4. I met a friend to have breakfast – and ate the most delicious, sugary-wonderful pancakes, PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP.
5. Jesus is faithful and he never gives me more than I can handle.
6. I got to witness the B-squad and JV victories for volleyball.
7. My friend brought me a “victory muffin” after my game- even though it could more aptly be named a “consolation muffin”.
8. (this is becoming more difficult now) my mom made potato soup for dinner.
9. I get to go to bed as soon as I get my foot out of this bucket.
10. Tomorrow is a new day, one that may just be a great day. Anything wonderful or fabulous or encouraging may happen tomorrow.
I’m determined to look for the good in Wednesday. Any little thing that is positive- I will not miss it. I will not miss God’s goodness to me.
Bedtime is the gateway to a fresh start.

philosophy on football, owner’s manuals, and hair

Football is one sport of which that I don’t completely understand the origins.  I get volleyball – it’s like the game you play with a balloon where it can’t touch the floor, except there’s another team, and you try to make it harder for them to keep it up.  I sort of get baseball, it’s like a more complicated game of catch where you have to run sometimes – and all the spectators eat peanuts and cracker jacks.  I understand swimming because when you’re in water you have to do something in order to keep from drowning.  I get soccer because it’s pretty simple (minus all the weird throw-ins and stuff they do) – just get the ball into the goal and don’t be a ball hog.

But I do not understand football.  Throw this leather ball around while wearing pants made for someone two sizes smaller than you are and tackle anyone who tries to take it away from you.  What kind of lessons is that teaching our kids if we let them watch a sport where people pummel each other for absolutely no reason?

All I can conclude is that it must be a guy thing.  Then again, I know girls who like football more than some of the guys I know.  So I guess I can’t make any conclusions about that.

For me, football is more about state pride.  If the Vikings win, it’s one more reason why Minnesota is the place to be.  If they do something well, it’s proof that Minnesotans are superior – all because we have tough winters that make us into macho people.

Philosophy.  Right there.

apparently Percy Harvin was the man of the game today... at least in the first five minutes I was sort of paying attention to.

Now, on to the hair philosophy.  I have a new philosophy about my hair, as I have mentioned before: I’m not using any heat tools on it anymore.  Woohoo.  Go Ashley.  Go healthy hair.

I got a new camera in August.  (trust me, this story has a purpose.) I got everything out of the box because that’s what I do when I get something new.  I got out all the cords and the quick start guide and the instruction manual and the computer software.  It was so exciting.  I used the manual to get started but quickly found that I could figure things out on my own.   I don’t have a problem with using trial and error to figure things out when it comes to technology.  So, I put the manual back in the box, and it has been there ever since.

That’s how I treat my owner’s manuals.  I use them to get started, and only if there’s a problem that I haven’t been able to figure out on my own do I consult it to find answers.  I never read it for fun or look at it when things are going well with my electronic buddies.

Which is why I will never truly understand why people use the “owner’s manual” illustration to talk about the Bible.  Yes, the Bible has solutions for life, and yes, you can use it’s wisdom to solve your problems, but if we treat our Bibles like we treat our owners’ manuals, we’re going to end up doing a lot of things on our own.  We’re going to put it on a shelf and only pick it up when all else has failed.  It won’t be the first thing we read in the morning – on good days when it doesn’t seem like we need outside wisdom.  It’ll be the last resort: the dust-covered volume that is unfamiliar and maybe even unnecessary to the way we live our lives.

Can we all agree that we need to throw that illustration out the window?

Thanks.  I appreciate your agreement with me.