Valentine’s Day and Love — A Single Teenager’s Nightmare

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It is EVERYWHERE

If you are a teenager, which means if you are in middle school or high school, sometimes February can be just as harsh for you as it is for adults. Our society loves young love and you see it everywhere! Media. Music. Books. Pictures. Your Peers walking around the hallways. It is EVERYWHERE. I know I said that twice, but I am making a point. Now my personal viewpoint, especially after working with youth age for the past four and half years is you shouldn’t date yet, but that is a tangent for another time.

In reality, you are dating or your concept of dating. I mean seriously, can you even drive yet? But there are a lot of you that aren’t and I am here to give you some comfort in this time of lovebirds, flowers, and chocolates.

Single Teenager’s Nightmare

Many of you look at this time of year and think you are unworthy or ugly or too fat or whatever negative viewpoint about yourselves come to your mind. (I am telling you, you are wrong, but we will get to that). Watching your best friend giggle at some lame line their boyfriend came up with can make you vomit. And you’re trying not to still because she wants you to come over and help her pick out the right outfit for their “date.” Honey, you are not alone and I have been there. I mean you are happy for your best friend, but inside you just wish it was both of you picking out cute little outfits. By the end of hanging out, you want to climb into bed with a tube of ice cream and either a romantic YA novel, crying over the main characters love or a slasher novel, where everything is killed. It is literally a Single Teenager’s Nightmare.

Some Truth to Hold onto To

Single Teenager's NightmareThe problem is we females (and yes, I am saying me too), we tend to put our worth in relationships, whether it is with friends or a boy. Ladies, our worth isn’t found in our friends or relationships with boys. Our worth needs to be founded in Jesus Christ!

Psalm 139:14 says: “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well!”

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Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God created us and made us each unique and special. We don’t need the approve of someone who might be in our lives for only a blink of an eye because we have the approval of the one who made us and will love us forever! So even if the boy you have drooled over for the past six months asks somebody else to spend Valentine’s Day together, doesn’t mean you are unworthy of someone’s love. You are already loved more than any mortal man can give.

What to Do on Valentine’s Day

Like I said, you don’t need a man. There are many things you can do to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

  1. Get a group of friends together and hang out.
    • Go to the movies together.
    • Grab dinner and socialize.
    • Go bowling or ice skating (roller blading if you are down south).
    • Have a sleepover.

Yes, many people view Valentine’s Day about couples and their love, but we have a love for friends, right? Why not celebrate those relationships too! So don’t feel like you need to hide away in your bedroom. You can always find a way to make it a great time of year!

God Bless,

AshleyDannie

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan — A Book Dragon Review

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Red PyramidBook Review Profile of the Red Pyramid

Title: The Red Pyramid

Author: Rick Riordan

Genre: Middle Grades Fiction

Main Characters: Carter & Sadie Kane

Small Bio: Sadie and Carter Kane find out their boring archaeologist dad is actually an Egyptian magician, who is trying to save the world from Apophis (the Chaos Snake). After Set (Egyptian god) captures their dad, Sadie and Carter must find out Set’s plan and save the world before Chaos has a chance.

Favorite Quote(s):

“I saw magicians dueling in a place. A man in tattered robes, with a shaggy black beard and wild eyes, threw down his staff, which turned into a serpent and devoured a dozen other snakes. I got a lump in my throat, “Is that…”

“Musa,” Zia said, “Or Moshe, as his own people knew him. You call him Moses. The only foreigner ever to defeat the House in a magic duel.”

Reviewer Thoughts: I love mythology. The stories about good vs. evil always get my blood pumping and normally it is greek mythology I cling to, but Riordan has opened up a soft spot for Egyptian mythology now. The format for this story is much different than others I’ve read from him. This is the first book series (before the seven Olympians) he goes back and forth in point of view. His first series was all Percy, so it was refreshing hearing from both of the narrators. Also, something I always enjoy is Riordan has small references to Christianity such as the Moses part and in other books, he references how there is an all powerful God above all the mythological ones. I can’t wait to read the next adventure for Sadie and Carter!

Goodreads.com Rating: 4.06 out of 5

Reviewers Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars —  Recommend to any pre-teen who loves fantasy, mythology, and adventure.

Keep the Reading Fire Going,

BookDragon

2017 Spring Break Beauty Tips for a Natural Beach Look

2017 Spring Break Beauty Tips

Spring Break is coming up in a few months and many of you are going to be heading south for vacation! Many teens and college students think that it is a time to party and need to paint their face up for a more mature look, but your natural look is absolutely gorgeous! But I don’t think it is a bad thing to use makeup to highlight your natural features. Here are three simple steps to do just that.

Of course, when it comes to your foundation make sure it matches your natural skin tone or maybe a slight shade darker if you are going to be doing some tanning. To be honest, if you are hitting the beach I would avoid the foundation. Next, apply your choice of mascara and lip gloss. My personal choice is black waterproof mascara and a light pink or natural color lip gloss. Lastly, with my curls, I put in Redken Beach Wave Volume, but make sure the product works great with your hair.

Now I know everyone does their natural look different so share your secrets or tips in the comments below!

2017 Spring Break Beauty Tips

 

Scars to Your Beautiful (Alessia Cara’s Fantastic Single!)

Hey, ladies!

Have you listened to the newer Alessia Cara Single: Scars to Your Beautiful? No? Take a gander and watch/listen before you read the rest!!!

What is it talking about?

Alessia’s song is rare and beautiful in a time of music when rappers use similes to make women feel like being a whore is the only way to feel beautiful and loved. Most artists I find that have a similar message as her come from the Christian scene, but not her. You can hear Alessia’s single playing on radio stations across the nation. Alessia released it back in 2015, but she started getting nation and global attention from it last year.

Alessia talked about her meaning about the song to iHeart Radio saying:

“Whether it’s in media, or in just regular life. We are expected to do, and to look like so many different things, and it’s so hard to keep up with sometimes. Everything told to us, whether it’s indirectly or directly, they get into our heads and it got to the point where now girls can’t look at themselves and just feel happy anymore. We have to find something that we don’t like, or something that we have to compare ourselves too. And that can get so tiring. It’s just such a wrong message to send to people, and it’s just a bad thing to put in our heads. So I wanted to make a song that was saying to block out all that noise, and to just appreciate yourself, and not go to these extremes to love yourself.”

She speaks so much truth to that! I struggled with body image as I grew up. (Click here to Read my story). The idea that women and girls need to conform to the ways of media has hurt growing girls’ individuality. This can be changed and fought against if we have the courage to stand up!

Emma Watson’s quote says it all for me:

“I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.”

We, as women and young ladies, need to adapt this mindset that we need to decide who we are–NOT the media! Girls, we were made on purpose no matter what others tell you! My last quote I want to share with you is from Psalm 139:14 and it is the base of this website. It says:

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

This is my life verse because it reminds me my heavenly father made me and his work in me is wonderful. The last part of this verse was a challenge to grasp. The verse says I know that FULL well. Full to me in the verse is saying I know it without a doubt. It took me a while to get to that point and it that might be the case for you too. That’s okay. God is patient and He will wait for you but know talking to Him will help the process.

 

God Bless,

 

AshleyDannie

2017 Reading Challenge: Follow the Book Dragon through the Year

My Reading Challenge Thoughts

I always like to have a reading challenge for myself every year and this year I am upping the amount of books I want to read. I am going to read 50 books over the course of the year and I am going to document reviews of all of them as I finish each book. I already have a list of books I am going to start on Goodreads.com. Click here if you want to see and become friends with me on Goodreads! 
Anyways, here are the books on my 2017 To-Read Book Shelf:
2017 Reading Challenge

Many of these are from series I want to finish up or are right in the middle of. All of them are ones I am really enjoying! So be on the look out for reviews from these novels and from others. If you have suggestions about what I should add to my shelf comment below or friend me on goodreads.com and talk to me there!

If you want to do a reading challenge, but don’t know where to start comment below and I will send you some helpful hints or write a helpful hint post. 🙂

 

Sincerely,

 

The Book Dragon

What is Prayer to Me? Answering a Question I Have Never Been Asked

Prayer in My Life

PrayerRight now, with my church staff, we are reading The Battle Plan for Prayer and every week we are getting together in small groups to discuss the chapters we read. Well, for the first meeting one of my group members asked a specific question–What is prayer to you?

Huh.

I have lived in a Christian home my whole life and if I was asked what is prayer I could give you a 30-minute teaching on what prayer is and how to pray. My church and my professors provided that knowledge, but with all my still probably limited knowledge on the subject I couldn’t answer the question brought into our group.

The definition of prayer is “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” Doesn’t that sound so clinical? But that is the definition or a version of it I would probably tell you if asked what is prayer. Except as a Christian, my answer shouldn’t be clinical but from the heart.

So what is Prayer to Me?

Prayer is a time where I can go to my Heavenly Father and talk to Him.

I know that He is listening–like really listening. Also, it is a time for me to listen to Him. Sometimes I just like to sit still. I know you are probably thinking I am a crazy person, but God does talk to us in those moments. Whether it is a thought he plants or a verse you think of or even something a friend/family/mentor says to you, but the only way I can going to hear it is if I can sit still before the Lord.

Prayer is precious to me.

A time where I can pour my heart out with my praises and my pains. I am somebody who needs to verbally talk out my issues and my triumphs and I love to do that with my Father because He already knows them. He knows every step I am going to take and loves me without judgment. Sometimes I feel like God might be my therapist, listening to all my problems, except He actually gets involved because He loves me.

Prayer is constant.

Yes, scheduled time to pray is great and it is something I am trying to get into a habit of, but it can also be spontaneous. Driving in my car is one of my favorite times to talk to God. First, because nobody is around and I can be as loud as I want without interruption. Second, because sometimes I need that extra boost from God before walking into work or an event with the middle schoolers.

But mainly because it feels as if God is sitting in the passenger seat with me. I mean when you talk to somebody in your car, you aren’t looking at them, but you know they are there, right? I mean if you look at them while you’re talking and driving a crash will happen. So I imagine sometimes God is sitting in the passenger seat listening to my ramblings as I drive.

So there you have it.  Some of it might not make sense to you, but it does to me. There is probably more ways of saying what prayer is to me, but I would be typing for the rest of my life. 🙂

So know I have to ask…what is prayer to you? Comment below and tell me!

 

Have a blessed day,
AshleyDannie

Listening for God’s Voice through the Torment, Turmoil and Transparency

 

Listening for God’s Voice & Follow the Footprints

To say that I am great at following God’s instructions would be a massive lie. To say that my stubborn and bullheadedness has brought me trials I would have avoided if I had just listened would be the biggest truth I can confess. Life is our path–our journey–but along the way, there are moments of torment, of turmoil, and of transparency.  

Torment:

God's VoiceMy whole life I wanted to leave Indiana. I wanted to get out and far away. God answered that prayer, sending me down to Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL. SEU gave me the best  four and a half years as I met friends that became family and earned a degree in teaching, the field I thought I was meant to do–my calling. After graduation, I diligently applied many places and by the next school year, I landed a dream job. I saw the footprints in front of me and I followed, not considering them being an illusion of my own making. The timer on the bomb started its countdown as situations arose, making my life as a teacher laborious.

By February I messed up. I let my temper win. It cost me my job. Now don’t get me wrong it merely was me letting the kids get to me and I screamed, but nowadays that is enough because to the administration it doesn’t matter how much a brand new teacher of 22 is trying and reaching out for help, the kids and parents are always right. I walked away from teaching that day. In the moment, I walked away from more than just my job, but I thought I was walking away from my calling.

At that point all I knew in my life was teaching, so where did I go? I turned back to my college job and then to a marketing job I thought I would do well in. It broke my sanity. I remember crying to my mom every night as I drove the one to two hours on I-4 because I was breaking. Not because of the job, even though it looked that way, but because of the emptiness I felt. The new job took me away from the church, aiding in my silence with God. I knew I should have left. I knew I needed to come home and regroup, but I didn’t want to leave the sunny, humid jungle of Florida, with its year-round beach days and outrageously pricey Disney World. I said I never would move back to Indiana.

The vast hole grew, filling up with overwhelming disappointment, crushing emptiness, and doubt. I was drowning.

So. I. Gave. In.

Turmoil:

In other words, confusion set it. I broke my never promise to myself–Indiana. I moved back into the small God's Voicebedroom at my parents’ house. It wasn’t even my bedroom. My brother moved into mine thinking I wasn’t ever coming home. I thought coming back would give me a sense of normalcy, but even the walls I lived in had changed. I had to get used to a new bedroom that I lived next to my whole life, but never in. Even such a small thing  pushed me further under.

My saving grace arrived on my first Sunday back. My family changed churches and I could feel my lead body lightening as we sang song after song during worship. Something about Pathway felt…right. A weird sense of peace washed over me that morning and little did I know what God was about to do. I sat in my chair looking at the opportunities to serve in the church, feeling compelled to check a couple off, turning it in with the offering. See, before the marketing job, I worked in my Florida church’s nursery for five years and missed being able to serve. My first thought about serving at Pathway would give me that familiarity back of being apart of something. I checked off KidCity, but God was pushing me. I did not want work with students, especially middle schoolers.

I finally caved to my spiritual competitor and checked off Impulse and Impact (middle and high school ministries). The next day I received a call from Byron in middle school, asking if I wanted to check it out Wednesday. My brain screamed no, disappointed it wasn’t KidCity, but my heart won, having my mouth agree to check it out. The group of 8th graders I sat in with that night were rough. I honestly didn’t want to be a leader at all, but when Byron talked to me after youth that night something inside of me agreed.

To sum up the next three years from there I fell in love with middle schoolers. My first group of eighth graders was challenging, but God found the small piece of my heart that could love them and fostered it. By the end of their school year the black hole I once had for middle school filled with fresh soil and seeds. Each year the seeds grew a little more and in the summer of 2015 little sprouts pushed through the dirt. A position was opening up in middle school ministry for a new youth pastor because Byron was moving to college and Travis (the other youth pastor)  needed some help. I remember feeling my heart tug when they told me. I remember not being able to shake the feeling at all.

Needless to say, I wasn’t qualified, but the sprout was there. The seed started growing and through the 2015-2016 school year, I consistently sought God on what footprints to follow. Nothing. Nothing was working and I needed a solid job because of personal and financial reasons, so I thought since my girls were about to go to high school the next school year it would be a great time for me to go back to Florida. I would have my Master’s in English and a better head on my shoulders. So I ignored the sprout and started applying for new full-time jobs. I even had an interview in Florida, but with every application, resume, and interview rejection after rejection followed. Nothing was working and confusion set in more. During the whole process I leaned in on God, but I started to realize in May of 2016 that even though I was leaning in…God was keeping silent. I was following illusions my selfishness created.

I needed to fully give my path back to God.

Transparency:

God's VoiceWhen I did just that everything started to change. Brad, our student ministries pastor, came to me in June and started talking to me about if I would be interested working for the church. I remember the smile that crossed my face as my heart leaped from its spot shouting “This is it!” A small voice inside of me said, “This is what I wanted you to wait for.”

I couldn’t believe it. I thought okay, I will have an interview and this will be decided before we go to CDYC. Nope. Okay then after camps. Nada. The summer waned on as I waited for an interview and decision, but complications arose. I look back on the summer and see God testing me. I had to find patience, trust, and strength through Him as each new complication set in. God had me work for it. Now I know, God needed me to go through the stress, making sure I focused on Him and not strayed thinking it wouldn’t work out. Now more than ever I know I want to break another “never promise” I made to myself years ago–work in ministry.

I am now the new student ministries assistant for Impulse and hopefully a new student at Bethel in the spring for their Master’s in Ministry program. I see now the path I had taken and strayed. Even though most of my path seemed as if it was a delusion it really wasn’t. God knew He had to beat it into me and I see the moments in the past 10 years that have led me here. My path though still continues as I follow Him in a new part of my story. I pray I can continue to seek His path and walk beside Him.

Sometimes clarity takes more than a keen eye, but a willing heart.

AshleyDannie

The Winner’s Crime {A Short Book Review & Recommendation}

winner's crimeTitle: The Winner’s Crime

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Genre: YA Romance/Fantasy & Adventure

Age Group: Young Adult

Short Description: Kestrel is now awaiting her marriage to the prince of the Valorian Empire and Arin is the new governor of Herrani. Although, everyone has their place and it seems as if peace has finally been achieved there is still something lurking in the shadows. Kestrel becomes a spy against her own country  to save her father and the love of her life, but will her lies help her or be her doom? Read to find out!

Reviewer’s Thoughts: For being a middle book in a trilogy, Rutkoski kept me on the edge of my seat through the whole thing. My attachment to the love between Kestrel and Arin fuels a passion in my as I read. This isn’t just some typical romance, but a sacrificial love and the reality of falling for an enemy. Rutkoski brought tears, angry cries, and a heavy longing for resolution. I still have one more book to read and I can say I will be going to Barnes & Noble after work to collect it.

Recommendation: I recommend anyone who loves a well-rounded themed story to pick up the trilogy. The first book in the trilogy is The Winner’s Crime.

Overall Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ (out of 5 stars)

Journey’s End and Where do You Go From There?

Journey’s end.

Two words you can hear on the lips of graduating students of every kind. Whether they are graduating from high school, college, or a higher degree, the journey has finally ended. No more papers or teachers lecturing without a breath. No more late night study sessions or last minute project completions. No more cramming new information fo the test and forgetting it as soon as you turn it in. No more. Journey’s end. Happily ever after.
Wrong.

The Journey doesn’t end but continues from the exact spot. I remember all my ‘endings’ because each chapter in life is a journey with each a specific name to the specific person–The Valleys of Middle School or High School Hierarchy. Moving on from the trek of middle school and high school was easy. I couldn’t get out of that building fast enough. College, now that was a quest I didn’t want to leave but I had to. See the moment the dean handed me my diploma the journey ended, but when I took that first step away from him a new one began.

You move forward. The adventure of true adulthood started in that moment. Finding a job. Paying my own bills. Getting my own place. So many new quests I need to complete in my journey because life is the journey and the small parts in between are the quests.

journey's endI recently completed a quest–my master’s degree in creative writing. The question on my mind is, “Now what? Where do I go from here?” But the real answer is I don’t go anywhere. I stay. I continue. The only thing in my life which changes is no more school, but I will still continue working, still continue writing, still continue listening and following the voice of my Lord and Savior. Sometimes we don’t know where we are heading and that’s okay we just got to listen to the only voice who can guide us–God.

God Bless,

AshleyDannie

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child {An AshleyDannie Book Review}

Book Review:

The 8th Installment–The Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Title:  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Author: J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, & John Tiffany

Genre: Screenplay, Fantasy

Age Group: Adult, YA Literature

Short Description: The Cursed Child starts up at the epilogue from The Deathly Hallows. The focus is on Albus Potter, who is now a Slytherin student, and his new best friend Scorpius Malfoy. Rowling brought to life the reality of what life would be like for a child of Potter’s and a new adventure of facing an evil that seems to never die.

Reviewer’s Thoughts: The excitement overtook my emotions as I opened the first page of the book. I returned home to a fantasy world I walked in for over a decade with the books and movies Potter had given me. Now it was time to re-enter it as an adult. As a college student, the epilogue satisfied me with knowing the Potters and Granger-Weasley’s grew up okay, creating families, and no trouble found them. I actually still had that mindset as I started to read the familiar and new words of the Potter series. What I found out quickly is life isn’t a happily ever after–even in books. Rowling (and the others) explored what it would be like after the fact. How maybe Potter’s kids wouldn’t be the highlight of good or even Gryffindor. How maybe  Potter wouldn’t know how to parent a rebellious child because all he knows is war.

My reaction to it all surprised me the most. I loved it. The heartache and the struggle drove the screenplay. It made the Potter world even more real to me that yes it is a fantasy world of magic, but it also has the elements of real life family problems.

What I struggled with was the ‘bad guy’ of the novel. I don’t want to give anything away, but in my head, it doesn’t make sense where they brought her from. If I say too much it will ruin the joyous reading, so I will leave it at that. Although once I got past the confusion of the evil, I fell back into step with my Potter emotions.

I could imagine being on the train again and walking the halls of Hogwarts. I could smell the banquet meal and I cried when portrait Dumbledore talked with Harry. So to all the Potterheads out there, it is worth the read, because it is more than just another story, but it is another piece into the world that helped our generation define good and evil within the pages of a book.

Recommendation: I fully recommend this to any Potterhead who is of teenage age and older.

Overall Rating: ✮✮✮✮ (out of 5)

Don’t Ever Stop Reading,

AshleyDannie