The Five Love Languages: A New Journey in Student Leadership

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Why Focus on Student Leadership?

This season I have entered a new realm of student leadership. I am starting a small group for my female high Student Leadershipschool leaders, who work with our fifth graders each week. If you’ve ever read any of my blogs, you should know I am all about coming up alongside females of all ages and helping them grow as women and as Christians. So I wanted something good to start our small group with and I found a teen version of the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Let’s just say I am in love with this book, because it has exactly what I need.
Student LeadershipI am taking information from Chapman and information fro It’s Just a Phase by Reggie Joiner & Kristen Ivy and creating a study on how student leaders can use the five love languages in their small groups.

Why is this important?

Everyone has one or two love languages we thrive in, even students of all ages. So when you have a group of five to ten students, there is a good chance that all five languages are going to be represented. So to be an effective leader when it comes to expressing the appropriate amount of affection or care towards the students, one must be well versed in all the different love languages.

Also, this is going to help the students develop in all their relationships outside of leadership as well. From their family life to their friendships to their dating life and more. Becoming a well-rounded person on this topic will carry with them past high school and beyond into their adulthood.

 

How are you presenting it?

Student Leadership
Cover for the Study

I am creating my own journal, highlighting important information from Chapman’s book and Joiner’s book (of course I will give credit where credit is due!)  Every other week starting on the 9th of October, I will post the next segment of the study and the pages of the journal. I want to provide them with free resources for any and all youth workers who would like to use them!

So be on the lookout for this series I am posting and have a great day!

 

God Bless

AshleyDannie

Bang Bang Goes the Fireworks {A Friday Fictioneers Tale}

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Bang Bang

A Friday Fictioneers Tale: Bang Bang

The lights flooded the sky overhead as the red glow burned into the night sky. I watched as I snaked through the alleyways. The shadows I normally can blend into were gone. 4th of July. Worst night for my kind of work.

I saw the target–middle-aged and balding. A family man, sitting with his kids and wife. The little ones running around with sparklers, laughing.

They have no idea. I found the deepest shadows and aimed. I waited. Remembering the images of bodies killed by his command. A slew of fireworks shot up as I pulled the trigger.

Word Count: 99

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

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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

French Fries & Revenge {Part 2}: A Writing Prompt Wednesday Tale

French Fries & Revenge 

French Fries & Revenge is a continuation from This is the Tricky Part, which you should click the link and read before reading this one. 🙂 Comment and share! 

My reflexes, which were once stiff, now snapped into action. I threw Jason under the bed, whipping around to then knock a guy in the knees. When he went down I caught his appearance–all black, gas mask covering his face, with no indication of nationality.

Gas mask? What do they think I can do? I screamed in my mind.

In the midst of fighting them off and somehow avoiding the rapid fire of bullets coming my way I could hear small familiar thought in the air.

They don’t know what you can do! That is why they are scared! Jason. Somehow his message weaved through the tangle of wanna be soldier thoughts surrounding me. It wasn’t just I could hear their thoughts, but I could sense their brain commands to their limbs. I knew where they were aiming before they aimed and that was why I just took down twenty soldiers. Well, that and apparently I am Supergirl or something because in my past life that only ended maybe a day ago you would be shocked if I could do one pushup.

Panting, I stood in the midst of fallen enemies. My oversized white gown had bullet holes in the areas that moved slower than myself and my feet felt cut up, but I was alive. I looked up to see Jason standing by the operating table he fixed me on.

Who? 

His eyes turned fiery, “Donavan.”

I watched him as his thoughts filled with what truly happened to me and what my life before this truly was. Apparently, the life I remember was the life before last. Maybe I was a monster after all.

As we stared at each other Jason’s mind was filled with hunger–of fries…and revenge.

{to be continued}

Word Count: 291

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

This is the Tricky Part {Writing Prompt Wednesday Story}

Writing Prompt Wednesday

This is the Tricky Part

tricky part I died. It was easy actually. A bullet found my heart, shredding it pieces. It felt like sleeping at first until he got his hands on me. He wheeled me into a secure room and…and…

Well, let’s just say dying is easy. Coming back is when things get tricky. And they got tricky. The pain racked through my body as the electric pulses tried to start up my brain and my new heart. The peace ripped away from me.

I twitched. My eyes fluttered. My ears heard screaming. It sounded like a banshee…found out later it was me.

Silence.

The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was a blank white canvas of a ceiling. Everything was sterile. I turned my head, feeling every muscle ache and pull as if I hadn’t used them in years. As if I was a new being, awakening for the first time. Then I saw him. He stood at the end of my bed–Jason.

I tried saying his name, but the words caught, and my vocal chords puffed out only air.

“You…you won’t be able to speak…I couldn’t heal your vocal chords,” his voice was rough.

Why, I thought.

He answered as if he heard me, “The second bullet went through your throat. I didn’t have time to repair it.”

My hands shot up to my throat. That action barely registered on the pain meter this time. Actually, my reflexes felt–powerful.

What is happening to me, I pondered inside my head.

He answered. “I had to use a high degree of electric shock therapy to get things going again. He…changed you…”

I started to panic. Electric shock? What am I? Frankenstein’s bride?

“Cora. I would never piece you back together in that nature…”

I looked down. No stitches. No random new body parts–just a new heart. My eyes found his again and I could see his pain–and his relief.

Why can you hear me? I directed the thought toward him.

He grinned, “I don’t know. All I know is you’re back.”

Then I heard it. The thoughts floating in the air.

We got her surrounded.

                                 Move! Move!

On my mark!

I pushed a thought to him, It might not last very long…

He gave me a concerned look right before the doors burst open in flames and men charged in…

{to be continued}

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

A Bridge in a Field {Friday Fictioneer 100 word Story}

A Bridge in a Field
© Adam Ickes

A Short Story: A Bridge in a Field

She walked cautiously on the bridge. She ran her hand gently over the wood railing, peering over. The water that once ran free through the corn fields dried up, showing only dirt and weeds.

The gazebo at the end looked as broken as her. In their prime, they saw love–created love. She twisted the diamond ring, removing it. She held it up one last time. She chucked it into the barren creek. She watched the ring fall, glistening as it dropped, but like the love she once knew, it was gone, covered by the muck.

 

Word count: 96