The day of snow.


Awkward, holding a shovel picture….

Then, the shovel’s full!  And it stayed that way for a good hour.  It’s amazing that even with three people moving at (almost) full speed to clear my driveway of snow, it still took a long time.

Today is confirmation to me that miracles happen.  Not that I wasn’t already convinced, but I just keep thinking back to looking at the weather last night.  how it said that we might get three inches of snow.  And how we ended up getting like six.  And how the plows seemed to not be plowing (why do they ever drive with the plow parts up??  I will never understand that.).

The most beautiful words I heard this week were when my mother popped into my room around 5:40 and said, rather groggily, that I should turn off my alarm because school was closed.

But, back to shoveling, because I thought about some parallels to life during that long time of shoveling.  It was hard labor, since the snow wasn’t fluffy and light.  It was real snowman snow, the kind that packs together easily and weighs much, much more than the fluff.  I know that I will be sore tomorrow, despite all my attempts to lift with my legs instead of my back.  I’m hoping that it will result in some extra muscle too.

As I felt the pain of lifting 3,000 snowflakes at a time (doesn’t that sound impressive??), I inevitably thought back to the many, many hours of conditioning for volleyball.  As I kept picking up more and more snow, though my muscles protested, I realized what volleyball taught me.

1. When it hurts, keep going because that probably means that you’ll get good results.

2. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s probably not worth using the energy to do it.

3. You could quit now, but satisfaction only comes from completing a job, doing it wholeheartedly the whole way through.

I’m done with volleyball now (something that makes me sad, a little, even though I know that I’m not cut out for a life of sports involvement… also I have achilles issues.), but this is so applicable to senior year.  So. Dang. Applicable.  And probably ministry.  And likely relationships.

When I feel like quitting, that’s probably a sign that what I’m doing is important and worth while.  The results could be having a stronger friendship, an “A” in a difficult class, an extra scholarship, or just having someone recognize your hard work.  Not that I live for recognition, but when people notice something that you do well, it gives you a little extra motivation to keep on doing it well.

Maybe this pep talk is just for me.  I’m struggling with senioritis at the moment, trying to keep it from setting in.  We’ve got less than 90 days before graduation, and I want to make the most of them.  At the same time, I’m excited for where God is sending me next year.  And I also have two AP classes and a PSEO class to keep up in.  And I have relationships to build, to make sure that they won’t evaporate when we’re not seeing each other every day.  And I’ve got a sphere of influence that’s about to change, so I’d better make the influence good while I still have it.

Holy cow.  Pressure’s on.  That’s enough to re-start those stomachaches I used to get from stress.

*breathe in* *breathe out*  That’s all in God’s hands.  I just need to be obedient.  Just trust and obey.  Trust.  Obey.  Trust. Obey.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Advertisements

Slideshows and Snowy Nights.


Sleet pours down outside,

like God is emptying His ice cube tray.

Roads are slick

and wet chill pushes us to stay inside.

Comfort, Warmth, Security.

Safe from the dangers of the weather.

Snug.  Happy.

Ignorant.

Apathetic.

Step into the sleet.

Meet the man on the streets.

Face the rain, the snow,

so that you may know.

 

As you can probably guess from that impromptu poetry, it’s sleeting/snowing outside.  It’s icky and nasty, but I ventured out.  Not to meet a homeless man, but to share about my experience India with some friends.  I figured it was a worthy way to spend my time, particularly since they made meatless spaghetti sauce for me.  (shoutout!)  It makes me think about how serving people is rarely convenient.  And how I want to be the type of person who can drop everything to help out, to pray for someone, to listen, to buy a sandwich for a hungry person, to scrape off a friend’s car, to help someone on the side of the road.

Right now, I’m praying for a snow day so that I can clean my room and sleep a little bit more tomorrow.  I implored the Creator of the heavens and earth for a snow day, as if He were a common genie in a bottle.  Or maybe I should state it: I asked God to help the administration make the wise choice to keep student drivers off the roads tomorrow.

That’s what I meant.  They’d be doing all of us – and the other drivers on the road – a service.

Service.  There’s that word again.  I wonder, what would my life amount to if I lived in my own bubble all the time?  Would I have any significance?  I wonder if that’s why God gave me 6 million other people on earth, so that I could be significant.  Or maybe so that I could see that other people are significant to Him – and thus that they should be to me.

Huh.

 

The road to rapper.


Yes, you guessed it.  My new thing is going to be rapping.  And it’s all because I’ve finally realized my lifelong goal of owning a rhyming dictionary.  (Thank you, my dear friend, Kate, for this thoughtful birthday present.)

So, without further ado, for some poetry.

The day was long and drear

and filled with Shakespeare

and government and writing

not exactly nail-biting.

I wore my new red tights,

one of the highlights

and ate a cupcake

which wasn’t at all fake.

The lights at school are fluorescent,

and the moon is less than a crescent.

I’m praying for a snow day

hoping the administration won’t betray

my faith in them.

I think that’s enough rhyming for now, but boy was that fun.

Today, I’m contemplating sleepiness.  Sometimes I take naps on Sunday afternoons, since there’s something about a cloudy, cold Sunday afternoon that makes my bed very inviting.  This dreary Sunday afternoon was no exception to that, so I curled up, intending to wake up in about forty five minutes, and found myself struggling to open mis ojos about 2 hours later.

I have no idea how that happened.

Either way, when I tried to go to bed that night, there was a slight problem with summoning the sleepiness.  But today, in my calculus class, it wasn’t hard.  Also, when I was trying to read about loans and credit for personal finance, my eyes were just about to close.  What is this nonsense?

I am making a commitment right now to end the late bedtimes.  You may recall that I’ve done this before.  Well, I’m doing it again.  Tiredness makes me so inwardly focused that I miss God’s goodness to me and I miss opportunities to show it to others.  So, I’m not going to go to bed late tonight.  I’ve got a dentist appointment in the morning, and as you might remember from this post, I LOVE my dentist.  (for real.  no joke.)

Ashley, over and out.

Ashes and regrets and washcloths.


I ALWAYS forget about Lent. ALWAYS. I mean, it’s February, and we’re starting the Easter season, so it’s understandable that I’m still recovering from Valentine’s Day, right?
People all around me are giving things up: coffee, facebook, chocolate, etc. I was trying to think of what I could give up that would make me closer to God or have more time to spend with Him.
Idea #1 – give up homework. Tell my teachers that if it can’t be done in thirty minutes or less, it’s not going to be done. (not the most practical or realistic thing I ever came up with.)
Idea #2 – Give up coffee… Do I want to function over these forty days?
Idea #3- put aside a dollar a day to use for something worthwhile… Like giving it to the women’s center in my area! Now we’re getting somewhere.
Idea #4 – give up facebook like the rest of the world and just see if it hurts me at all.

I like 3 and 4, personally. I just feel so bad for not being intentional about Lent in all the other years of my life. Why do I always forget? I can think of maybe one other time that I’ve purposefully done something for every day of Lent, and that was just praying for a friend.
That’s a regret.
And now, the pattern shifts. Here I am, on Ash Wednesday, sitting with a warm washcloth in a Ziploc, making my resolution: I will give up Facebook and a dollar a day for Lent. I have to admit, it feels really good to have a plan. To have thought it all through and to have committed a couple more things to the Lord. Here ya go, Jesus. Take the time I might’ve spent on facebook and use it better. Take the dollar I might have bought coffee or French fries or gas with, and make it save babies.
Use the little things I offer you – along with myself- in ways that give you glory.
Here I am. Use me.

Salad in a tortilla and distinctions.


That is my lunch.  It looks like the beginnings of a wrap, doesn’t it?  Actually, no.  It’s a salad, inside of a tortilla.  and that’s all it is.  I literally just put ranch dressing on that and ate it.

Not like you wanted to hear about my pathetic excuse for the noontime meal, but I felt like sharing about salad in a tortilla.  It won’t be a trend, but it made for a good picture.

There’s a distinction there: not a wrap, but a salad inside of a tortilla.  It doesn’t quite reach the level of a wrap.  That usually constitutes having protein and cheese in it.

Other distinctions I made today while talking with a friend over enormous mugs of hot chocolate: I’m not dumb, but I am extremely forgetful in the wake of jet lag.  Also, there really is a difference between gossiping and talking about people in your lives.  (really, that’s not just rationalization.)  It all depends on motives, tone, and content.

Most enlightening distinction?  Realizing that there are at least two types of people who don’t care what people think:

1. The Individual  –  This person doesn’t care what people think about them on a social level and is relatively unconcerned about being accepted by people based on their personality.  They don’t look to others to determine their value.  (Smart.)

2. The Eccentric  –  This word brings up pictures of the guy who invented Flubber and people with crazy hair like Albert Einstein and Amy Winehouse.  But I’m talking about the person who is in their own little world.  They live in a reality that they’ve created where other people don’t matter – their opinions in particular, but also their feelings.

I think sometimes we think that in order to not care what other people think we have to be the Eccentric. I’ve been trapped there before, but tonight, realizing that there’s a distinction kind of set me free.  I can be free of wondering whether or not my peers value me and my opinions without completely obliterating any concern for them.  I can still make sure that my actions let them know that I value them and that they are valuable in God’s eyes without being trapped into wondering whether or not they consider me worth anything.

Not like I live in either category.  I’m not super concerned about what other people think, but I don’t want to be lumped into the other category of people who don’t care about others either.  I don’t want to lump myself in there.

It’s amazing what a little conversation and chocolate can bring up.

The Little Things.


There’s a reason my parents don’t get nervous about leaving me home alone.  It’s because I do things like this:

Which isn’t destructive at all.  Sometimes I get a lot of dishes dirty though, since I decide on occasion that cherry juice would look better in a sparkly glass, so I get a goblet out of the cupboard and then I decide to make lemon bars – which uses at least three bowls, a lemon zester, and a strainer – so I have to wash dishes.

 

gotta take those lovely antibiotics.

I’m most definitely a fan of being a good kid.

I also enjoy making lemon bars, even though squeezing the lemons hurts my fingers after the 5th lemon.

Sometimes I get a little OCD about the color-coding of my dishes.

And I also enjoy writing about my baking endeavors.  with pictures.

I feel like I’m writing a personals ad.  Ashley, 17 year old, looking for friends and blog readers.  Likes reading classic novels, blogging excessively, taking pictures, and making jewelry.  May or may not be seriously addicted to caffeine.

Any takers?

I’ve been thinking about the little things lately.  Like smiles and hugs and glasses of cherry juice.  And caring.  And being genuine.  And I wonder if a bunch of little things doesn’t sometimes make more of a difference in someone’s life than a big thing.  Like, if I consistently smile at you and ask how you’re doing, it might mean more than if I handed you a check for $500.00.  (Don’t get your hopes up on that one.  I don’t have any checks left.)  And I think I might be a “little things” type of person.  I like smiling.  And baking.  And handing people baked things while smiling at them.

Hmm.  Hooray for the little things.  Just a little “hooray” though, we want it to mean something.

hooray.

 

Young Woman.


With 14 days til I turn 18 and 97 days until graduation (that’s scary, the number is only two digits now!), I’m starting to think about becoming a young woman. 

After spending two weeks essentially being independent – though I had people looking out for me in India, I was responsible for myself – I’ve realized that I need to start seeing myself as a young woman.  It seems to me that when I start seeing myself that way, it will change what I do, how I act.  I think I’m ready for that kind of change. 

I’m not sure that it will change the fact that I trip over my own pant leg and almost break my neck on a regular basis.  Or the fact that I still enjoy Sesame Street.  Or the fact that whenever people talk about how they think reading is pointless I’m the first one to defend it – and usually quite vehemently.  But I think it will change my expectations for myself. 

Young woman carries different connotations than “girl” or “teenager.”  It demands a different type of carriage, a confidence that doesn’t come from how many friends you have or what other people think of you.  It comes from knowing that you are valuable in the eyes of God – and realizing that it’s all you need. 

Ashley = young woman.  I like that. 

Young woman is now going to make some jewelry. 

Looking beyond, productivity, and lip balm.


I was that girl tonight.  I was the one who walked around Target sniffling and trying desperately to get my Burt’s Bees lip balm out of my hip pocket while walking.  I have purple shadows under my eyes that were nicely accentuated by the fluorescents in the store, I’m sure, and I meandered around for about an hour, not totally sure what I was looking for.  I only stopped for clearance.

I probably didn’t seem too significant.  But, then again – to me – the chic lady with her sparkly-butted jeans and black boots seemed like just another face in the crowd.  I saw yet another guy whose boxers didn’t match up with his pants.  And my cashier wasn’t super friendly.

Granted, the chic lady might be very significant.  Maybe she’s a CEO or VIP or something and that’s why she gets to have sparkles on her jeans.  Maybe the kid with his boxers up too high – oh, I meant pants too low – is actually an undercover cop who is trying to bust a drug ring.  Maybe my cashier was really tired because I checked out at 9:45, 15 minutes before the end of her shift.

Maybe making up stories about people isn’t the best way to give them significance, but I think I have a tendency to assume that strangers are insignificant.  Just because I don’t know them.

Gosh, that’s awful.

How do I add value to someone I don’t know?  How did Jesus do that?  I guess He was a little more social than I am.  And he didn’t get colds, I’m guessing.  He greeted people by telling them that their sins were forgiven and their diseases were healed.

Makes me think a little about whether or not I’m living up to my significance.  I don’t typically heal people in Target or even have more than friendly conversation (and I consider that stepping out of my comfort zone).

I think this is one of those days where I don’t have answers.  Just musings.

And dreams of a productive weekend.

Saying “no,” junking, and going to bed early.


There are a lot of places where I feel at peace. Taking deep breaths in my lime green bedroom. Peaceful. Taking a walk on a starry night (with a flashlight and pepper spray). Peaceful. Writing a blog post. Peaceful. Using the bah salts my sister gave me. Peaceful. Drinking coffee and eating an English muffin with Jesus in the mornings. Peaceful. Acoustic sunset on Cities97. Peaceful. Talking to people who invite you to be yourself. Peaceful.
I could go on.
I had some not-peace this week. I was going to say unrest, but that makes it seem like a revolution or violent uprising of some sort. It was a lot simpler that that, just uneasiness. It seemed like this decision should be a no-brainer, benefits on all sides. But there was just something amiss. When I asked for clarity in decision making, God gave me a knot in my stomach.
Point taken. I said no. Got the peace back.
I think what I’m realizing lately is that staying in God’s will for my life doesn’t always look like I or anyone else would expect it to look like. Maybe that’s why it’s called “God’s plan,” since it’s so unpredictable and …. From Him.
I should remember that more often. God isn’t limited to the possible outcomes that I can see. I see choices A,B, and C, but God, being the infinite and all-seeing being that He is, sees more for me.
More. Ah. Wouldn’t I like to live for more? Answer: yes, yes I would. Thanks for asking.
God is faithful. Can I say that again? God is faithful
Now, to live like I believe that.

I would like to confess two things: 1) I ate more than my fair share of sweets today. Sorry if I took your share.
2) my resolution to keep my floor clean has not been kept.

Obligatory Valentines.


Last night, as I sat with a second grader who was filling out 18 valentines (for the 16 other kids in her class, her teacher, AND the class teddy bear), I wondered what we’re teaching our kids by making them send valentines to every child in their class.  Are we feeding a sense of fake friendship?

I remember convering shoeboxes with construction paper, doilies, and an excess of glitter.  I remember thinking about my little second grade boy crushes.  (yes, I mean little, by comparison.  I was always taller than my crushes.)  Deep down inside, I knew that the valentines they put in my little box with a box of Nerds taped onto it was obligatory.  I knew they didn’t really care two cents about me.  They were more concerned with worms and dirt and not getting cooties.  But, in my mind – which is just a little bit on the overanalyzing side – if they signed their own name on it or drew a smiley face on it, they might just like me a little more than the little girl next to me.

See what I mean?  Maybe I’m the only girl who ever overanalyxed a valentine.  Maybe every other little child realizes that the acceptance and love they feel when they open a valentine from every child in their class is fake.  Not that I don’t want kids to be loved, but isn’t there a way to do it genuinely?

We don’t want kids to be left out or to play favorites.  But are we teaching them to pretend that they like everyone and create a false sense of friendship with sweet, impressionable 8-year-olds?  (doesn’t that just break your heart?)

Maybe I’m just scarred.  Maybe I’ve finally realized that all the kids who sent me valentines didn’t actually want to be friends.  Maybe that bothers me – what wasn’t to like about me?  Don’t answer that.

And maybe, just maybe, there’s a part of me deep down inside who thinks that we try a little too hard to make people think we care about them when we don’t.  God calls us to love everyone, but He doesn’t say that you have to make people think you love them.  It’s a heart issue.

Here’s my solution: If I can’t love someone genuinely, I’m not going to fake it.  I’m not going to be over the top.  I won’t spit on them or glare.  But I don’t want to be the type of person who “lvoes” everyone but only really likes a few.

*steps off the soapbox*

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.