Letting Go on the Road (Pinterest Flash Fiction)

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2ecc019d319ae71335f1bac485979f30
Found on Pinterest

Dressed in a heavy jacket and boots for warmth, the man ambled down the back road, worn guitar strapped to his back. The only piece of who he was left.

 

His wife gave it to him as a pre-wedding gift ages ago. The weight of loss love trailed with that guitar. He stopped and took a long breath, staring up into the snow-heavy clouds. He couldn’t afford the weight if he wanted to survive; he held on too long. He needed to stop his self-inflicted suffering.

He left his past behind him up against a tree along county road 223.

Word Count: 101

Flash Fiction Friday!

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So I started being a part of a group of writers called Friday Fictioneers and it is writing flash fiction pieces in 100 words or less. Today I needed something to get my wheels turning before I dived into my homework and research paper, so I decided to do another flash fiction piece from a picture prompt I chose from Pinterest. Hope you like!

 

wizarding world
Pinterest Find

 

FLASH FICTION:

She laughed, reading Hermione’s line about LeviOsa, not LevioSA. She eyed her wand and grabbed it, pointing at the stack of books next to her.

“Wingardium LeviOsa,” she repeated in her best Hermione voice.

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When the books didn’t move she sighed, “Oh, J.K. you are definitely not one of us.”

Then she flicked her wand, just for flare, as she lifted the books with just her thoughts. For fun, though, just to make it look as if she was of the Harry Potter Wizarding World, she pointed the wand at the floating books.

“Hmm, then again maybe she is.”

_____________________________________________

I love the Harry Potter books and when I saw this picture, my imagination began! Have a great Friday everyone!

Ashley Danielle

Staying a Virgin in This Sex-Driven Society

Sex. One three letter word and I guarantee you I captured your attention. You probably didn’t even read the rest of the title or notice that Sex is the sixth word! This right here is why our generation swoons over songs about grinding, shooting up, and humping instead of words of compassion or small thoughtful, romantic gestures. Our society has pushed sex so much that we think it should be an acceptable part of who we are.

Trust me it isn’t who we are. Sex is a beautiful and powerful act given to us by our almighty Creator, intended for marriage. Yes, I am one of those people who believe sex is a sin outside the context of marriage. Don’t like it? Too bad. Want to move on? Go right ahead, because your opinions are not going to change 28 years of living the way that I have. How have I lived? A virgin—clean and clear and under control.

It’s not like I really wanted to be a virgin this long in my life. I had plans, just like any other girl. I wanted to be married by 22 or 23 and pregnant with my first one by 25 or 26. Well, I am six years late on the marriage and three years late on the whole baby train.

It’s funny, because the first question I get a lot from friends and acquaintances that don’t have the same beliefs about sex that I do is this: How? How do I do it? Great question and it might not be the answer you think I am going to give you. Most of you reading this probably think I am going to give you some holier than thou speech about self-control and how God is keeping me celibate by divine order…blah blah blah. NO. It has been a combination of the way I was raised, my relationship with God, my college education, and the fact I wanted to keep this treasure hidden until somebody worthy earned it.

If you have read my self-image journey you know I have been a Christian since I was twelve, so the mere fact God says don’t have sex until married is kind of a big reason. So yes I am going to throw some biblical truths at you, but I didn’t have the response you thought I might have. Trust me.

Hebrews 13:4 says “Marriage should be honors by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterers and all the sexually immoral.”

Where does the marriage bed come from?

Genesis 2:24 “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

I can tell you right now when I learned about when you have sex you become “one flesh” with that person I freaked out and signed the no premarital sex card given to us at youth group right away. Growing up I never really understood the meaning or complexity of sex, but what teenager does? My youth group didn’t help the matter either. I loved the youth group I grew up in, but they had a tendency of making me feel like the slut of the group. The sad part is the most I ever did with a boy as a teen was kiss (no, not making out, just normal kisses) and holding hands. Oh no! Call an exorcist! The girl’s got a devil in her! … … …Sike! You know how to completely destroy a girl’s self-esteem in the church? Tell her that if you had kissed (or anything else “immorally wrong”) another boy, judge them and tell them they should have saved it for their future spouse, who probably is waiting for you (Okay, let’s be honest finding a person who has waited do to anything physical with their future spouse is a one in a billion chance.) I know to some girls this wouldn’t affect them, but as the only girl in my youth group at the time who had kissed a boy I felt attacked by it.

I am sorry, but they went a little above and beyond crazy. You guys want to not kiss until marriage–great, but don’t force it on a bunch of teens who don’t even fully understand the world of sex and sexuality yet. Maybe start by talking to them on how great and powerful it is and not just that we shouldn’t do it. You know telling us we shouldn’t do it will result in one of two things: 1) we run to sex, securing our rebellious nature or 2) we run from sex even in our marriages. Adults think before you speak! (And I am saying this to myself as well, seeing that in the youth group I volunteer at we are…wait for it…talking about SEX in the coming weeks…oh boy).

Another result of not understanding the full complexity of sex  is why we have so much hurt and broken families. And I am not talking about understanding it from a religious aspect (which is the best way to), but understanding it from an emotional and physical standpoint. From what I have gathered over my years is sex is more than just satisfying urges, but a union of two people who trust each other with themselves emotionally and physically. I am sorry I don’t want a little black book full of guys who I have given myself to emotionally and physically. I can barely handle my own emotional situations and adding a dead beat guy who only wanted one thing isn’t going to help me out. Society has moved to making it just something we can do for fun with our significant other or even random strangers, which honestly has been going on since bible times and I promise you God has addressed it. Don’t believe me? Well I am just going to put these right here:

Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

Matthew 5:28 says “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Yeah, notice the red text? That means Jesus said it personally and to him sexual immorality isn’t just doing the act, but think it as well. Yup, our society is in so much trouble…

1 Corinthians 6:18 says “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”

Trust me there is more where those came from, but in light that many people like to oppose the Old Testament I just gave you the New Testament. Want to find more? Open the bible app, go to the search bar, type in sex, and you will find many verses addressing God’s viewpoint.

Again, looking at this for a moment away from religion, consequences couldn’t be a factor of why I have stayed away from a life of sex, right? Wrong. Possible unwanted pregnancy, health issues (seriously STDs are no laughing matter), emotional trauma, and so much more. Those consequences are the reasons I haven’t given into the social craze even after three boyfriends/boy interests breaking up with me because I said no. Yeah I said no before Tebow made it cool.

Do you know that 71% of teens that were 19 and younger said yes they had sex in 2014? it has been two years, where do you think those numbers are now?

It amazes me to see those type of numbers in our society, because if you ask them why they had sex already I bet it is one of these answers: 1) I wanted to feel loved, 2)he/she would have broken up with me if I didn’t, 3) My parents told me not too, or 4) because everyone else is doing it and it feels good.

In response to the first excuse, it all starts at home. If you don’t have a loving family, who expresses love in a healthy manner kids are going to search for love where they can find it. Thankfully, I was blessed to have a loving family, who are still together after 33 years. A family who sat me down and talked to me about sex and how it was good, but something I needed to wait for. Honestly, having a loving family covers the second excuse as well. If a loving family is supporting their kids and actually talking to them (not just lecturing them) kids are going to see if a boy/girl is making you do something it isn’t healthy.

So I have covered how my relationship with God and my loving family has helped me make this decision on my own, but how could my college education help? I did go to a Christian college and in the midst of homework, sporting events, and hanging out with friends, I was able to start understanding my beliefs more on my own. Middle and high school told me what to believe, but in college I was able to hash out all my questions and concerns about what I believed. In the end some things changed and matured, but one thing that didn’t change was my decision to save sex for marriage. I saw what premarital sex could do to a relationship. I knew a couple who was waiting to have sex until after they were married, but one of the members of the couple had a past before she/he decided to change their life. Watching them grow as a couple I saw heartache and tough times as they hashed out the past. That was something I never had to go through, at least on my end. College, like it should for any student christian or not, opened my eyes to many experiences and knowledge I would have never gleamed if I stayed in the small cornfield infested town of Busco.

I know I am an abnormality and as I continue to age the 40 Year Old Virgin jokes are starting to surface, but nothing is going to change my mind. I see what this society does to the idea of sex and in my opinion it is much more than a upbeat song played in the clubs or the scandalous pictures littering magazine covers and internet sites. That part of who I am is something I want to share with only one other person. I realize my future husband might not have done the same thing I have, but I won’t judge him and I will love him no matter what.

To any girls out there reading this who have lost their virginity or wanting to lose it, it is not too late to make a decision to safeguard yourself. It is a decision you can make everyday and no one can say any different to you. If you are reading this and you are just like me, trying to survive in this sex-driven world, you are not alone. Stay strong and know waiting can be done.

My Masquerade’s Dance with God

I have always loved the idea of a masquerade ball: gorgeous dresses, fancy masks, hidden identity, dancing with a complete stranger only to have them take off their mask at midnight to find either a friend you have known your whole life or a complete, handsome stranger whom you fall in love with instantly. It is a romantic fairytale vision that many little girls dream about and single women long for. Although if I really think about it, that fantasy can never come true. It is mythical, but the idea of a mask is not. As I transferred from college age fantasies to a young woman many ideas have evolved and one of them is the thought of a mask. See I grew up as a Christian and I do not want to say I am religious, because that is a whole other negative annotation to get into, but what I will say I am is a strong follower of Jesus. So a little over two years ago I decided that God wanted me to start leading a small group of middle school aged girls at my church’s youth group on Wednesday nights. As my journey has progressed and matured through the couple years I have been with them I have discovered something about pre-teen age I never really thought about before—they were a mask.

The fantastical mask I once fantasized wearing as I danced with a dashing stranger is something middle school students, especially females, tie on every single day. This is not something we voluntarily do; we are trained to do this everyday of our lives. Just look at the different magazines that float from stand to stand. We want to be skinny or blond or blue eyed or tanner or taller or anything other than what is staring back at us in the mirror hanging in our bedroom. Do you realize that we are so obsessed with our image that we have a mirror hanging in almost every room? Take my old house for example. When I would walk in from the garage there was a mirror in our entryway to the left of me, then walking past my kitchen into my dining room there was a mirror hanging on the far wall. Of course we also had two and a half baths which had a huge mirror in each one and all three bedrooms had full length mirrors in them, adding to the vain lies that our world thrusts in our faces. If you weren’t counting that is eight mirrors–EIGHT! Who needs eight mirrors in their home of four people! Wow.

Mirrors aren’t the only negative entity in our weak and feeble minds. We allow songs, TV shows, movies, even pictures out of magazines influence who we become, but it doesn’t mean that is who we are supposed to be. It doesn’t help when a fashion designer or magazine editor says that you have to be this size, with this color of hair and eyes, and that height to be considered beautiful.

Our appearance is not the only thing that could be considered a mask—our attitudes as well. What people see us as is just another fancy dress we lace up and parade around for the world to see. As teens, stereotypical masks such as: Jock, Popular, Nerd, Goth, Hippie, Ghetto, etc., are all we think about when we are in school. Kids try and fit into one of those labels or they are accused of being it and can never scrub away the invisible tattoo their peers has inked on their foreheads.

As soon as you walk through the doors into the public eye, whether we realize it or not, we cloth ourselves in “who” we want to be. But is that really you? That is a question we need to consistently ask ourselves: “Underneath it all is this who I really am?” What if it is not who we are? What if we decorate our masks with frivolous feathers, beads, and sequins just to impress the friends and people around us? Is that really how it should work?

These are all questions that even as I grow older I still can not answer without a small hint of skepticism. The world of fashion and entertainment outline our clothes and what is ‘hot’ or ‘uncool,’ so are the answers we come up with on who we are truly real and from ourselves? We live in such a world full of technology that any answer of any question can be found by pressing a button and asking Siri, but even the internet can be full of lies for us. Where is the one place you can go and get the truth? I think for each person it is different, but I do not mean your best friend or boyfriend or your parents or even your husband or wife, because they do not know everything about you and your heart. They are not always privileged to see under the mask but in my opinion only one is: God.

We forget that, don’t we? God can see us. I believe God already knows everything about us. He designed who we are.  Last year in our youth group we talked about the mask we wear everyday and how we can strip that mask away. Its funny because every time I hear about ‘taking off the mask’ I feel like they are telling me to let everyone around me know everything about me; from my superficial interests to my deep dark secrets. I do not think that is what we should do. I know as a Christian I must present myself as a believer and follow the laws and commandments of my God, but I do not think we must show the world our hurts. There is a fine line between lying about yourself and being yourself. We can have a mask on and still be ourselves—our true mask.  The thing about the mask is we need to allow our imperfections to show. It is what makes us unique in a time when everybody wants to be the same. I like being unique. It means I was created for something special. Right now I could become depressed because I am college graduate, whom was let go from her supposedly ‘dream’ job, clawing at a graduate degree, hoping it will help me find my true career path, and, barely making ends meat because I don’t have a full time job yet, but I don’t. Why? Well, because God has a plan in this and He is preparing me for whatever is next.

It is the same for everyone, young and old alike. You might be at the low end of the totem pole or the bell of the ball; it doesn’t matter because God has a plan for what you are going through. I know it is difficult to see and to be honest only God sees His puzzle that He is constructing, the book He is writing, or the timeline He is plotting, but it is there, you have to trust him! I have to trust Him. I have to trust that there are going to be days when I will have to have my true mask tied around my head and ready for battle against our cruel world with God by my side and there are days I will have to trust He is holding my hand as I pull the mask down a little and display some of my deeper pain as I lead these girls down the rocky road of middle school and the masquerade issues of life.

Feb. 25: Let’s End This Together

Today is the national day for slavery awareness. If you don’t know there are up to or even more than 27 million slaves around the world, working in the fields, brothels, traded for sex, etc. I was never aware of this until Jan. 2013 when I attended Passion 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference opened my eyes to the evil that is still occurring today. Most people, if you ask, say that slavery ended after the Civil War. If you are one of those people you’re dead wrong.

That summer my college small group friends and I decided to put our voice out there for the cause. We designed and executed a huge fundraiser at our church to raise money for an organization who helps and works with people who are saved from that life of slavery: Tiny Hands International. Through the experience of getting the fundraiser ready, I found my heart really reacts to this cause. There is a worship song that I love and one of the lines goes “Let my heart breaks for what breaks yours.” For many years I heard that as just a song, but after Passion it has become a prayer in my life and believe me when I say the issues of slavery in our world breaks my heart as it does God’s.

If you don’t know much about the cause here are some facts I found from the End It Movement website:

  • Slavery exists in 167 countries around the world. That’s 85% of the nations across the globe.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 victims of slavery is a child. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the US is 12 – 14 years old.

  • There are an estimated 60,100 people trapped in slavery
    in the United States right now.

  • An estimated 199,000 incidents of sexual exploitation of minors occur each year in the United States. That’s one incident every 3 minutes.

Those are just four facts about what is going on with slavery, but what the facts don’t show is the cruelty of what goes on to the slaves. Rape, torture, starved, kept in tiny-unlivable rooms, and even death. The thought of men, women, and especially children enduring this breaks my heart every time.

One of the big questions everyone asks is how are these slaves taken into this lifestyle if it is illegal? IJM has a great explanation on their website:

“One of the most common techniques to entrap laborers is through false debts. An owner lures a poor person into slavery by offering a small advance payment for their labor. The owner then ensures it is impossible for the slave to ever repay by inflating the debt owed with exorbitant interest charges, not paying the victim the promised wages and prohibiting him or her from working anywhere else. These false debts can be passed from one generation to the next; we have identified entire families (from grandparents to parents to children) who have been forced to work for years after accepting advance payments as low as $20.”

How they entrap them is just another cruel tactic that breaks my heart as I read the paragraph above, but there is a door to the suffocating cage these enslaved people have lived in for so long. The world has been noticing the issue and are responding. International Justice Mission is just one organization fighting for the slaves around the world. Tiny Hands International is another, but there are more. All they ask if for our support in this fight, whether it is donating money, time, or even lifting up prayers for the workers and slaves. You can be a teenager or an adult, they don’t care, they just need our help. God says in  James 1: 27:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

We shouldn’t help just because slavery is against the law, but because it is what God charges us to do. The children in these situations are usually orphaned and the women would be lucky if their husband is even alive. Even though men aren’t in this verse, I believe God wants us to help them too.

So this is our chance. We can spread the word about slavery and start helping in any way we can. Don’t be afraid to help and I pray you don’t read over this and just set it aside, because you are no longer ignorant to the issue of slavery. Say a prayer. Donate money or time. Be active in the fight because God didn’t call us to just sit on the sidelines in our Christianity, but to change the world in His Name. We are His children and He will give us the strength to fight this fight.

So I Never Forget

 Some people would say that what I am about to do is called self-reflection. Not me. There is nothing to self-reflect about it. It is me flushing out my thoughts so I won’t dwell on them, because sometimes they hurt too much. I have known loss. I have known more loss as a 27 year old than some has known being in their 50s. Each one has had an affect; each one is a story that changed my life in dramatic ways. My grandma’s passing was the first I ever experienced, but we knew it was coming—cancer. She fought hard, but after 18 months we lost her to the illness. I personally changed, dedicating my life to God, wanting the experience of love and strength my grandma had, but the story of my faith is a whole other story for a different time.

After grandma a slew of friends and classmates followed: Drew, Haylee, Lindsey, and Cody. Each one taken and each one reminding me that life doesn’t always make it to 80 with a large family and grandkids running around. You could make a mistake with drugs or look away for a split second while driving or battle a losing fight to cancer or succumb to the darkness surrounding you. Each time one of them fell to one of these problems I was reminded of how important it is to live. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer [experiences]” (Goodreads). I am trying to do just that, but again another story for another time.

The death that affected me the most was Josh. Josh wasn’t a blood relative, a childhood friend, or a classmate from high school, but a close friend who introduced me to the people I call family.

Looking back at Sept. 2006, I was still trying to find my way around Southeastern University as I started my freshman year. I had some friends—girls I met in my dorm area, but nobody of who would become permanent as I grew up. I don’t exactly remember how we met but I bet it went something like this…

El Prado, the main street/sidewalk in SEU, clamored with students hanging out at the tables along the windows of the café. Guitars could be found every other table with wannabe worship pastors serenading the M.R.S. degree girls littering the chairs around them, swooning over every note even if it was severely out of tune. I walked in, past the masses, to find something to drink and a late night snack for studying. I surveyed the coolers, picking up a Starbucks Vanilla Double Shot and then a blueberry muffin at the cashier’s stand, which became my go to study snack, explaining the freshman fifteen on top of the endless buffet of our “lovely” Chartwells (cafeteria caterer). As I was leaving one of my friends called me over to one of the tables with a guitar—great—but I sat down anyways, prolonging my procrastination of whatever homework I needed to accomplish, probably one of my religion courses. The interesting thing about this table was the boy with the guitar. He was very tall, (which isn’t saying much since I am a whopping 5’3”) with short blonde hair, narrow caring eyes, a long nose, and big ears. Unlike the many boys with guitars around, he wasn’t serenading girls with intense worship songs, but he and some other friends were…rapping? At a Christian college? I mean I grew up being told rap and Christianity didn’t mix, but since I had been to college a lot of things I was told was sacrilegious turned out to be a lie so why not rap too.

I learned his name that night was Josh and whenever he saw me he said hi, sometimes hanging out in a group on El Prado. It wasn’t too long after that he asked me to check out the worship band he was in called Tirzah. I remember walking toward the module classrooms down by Chartwells, nervous as hell, because at the moment I had a slight crush on him, but nothing too major. I mean come on! I was a single girl at college in a new state! I had to keep my options open…Yeah well, any who…

I walked into the module, music flooding my ears as they sang—Arms Wide Open? Oh goodness sake, somebody please save me from the deafening lyrics of Creed. When I finally found my footing, Josh stood next to a dude a little taller than him and wider in the sense of muscle mass. He had jet black hair and more of a baby face compared to Josh. He held an acoustic guitar, while Josh had an electric, and so did another much shorter and stocker boy with long brown hair. To my surprise and relief there were two girls a drummer and a keyboardist. The drummer made me think twice with her pixie short, multi-colored hair and punkish vibe. She reminded me of the girls who I grew up with that got me into a lot of trouble, but we are at a Christian college and nothing goes wrong there, right? Right!?

The other girl looked as if she was a year older than me, with very long, thin blonde hair and a sweet disposition—until she saw me. When she realized that Josh invited me I felt the ice stare of an angry Elsa bare down on me. (Yes, I know she wasn’t around yet back in 2006, but it is the only thing I can think to compare it too for a present reference, so get over it please!) I come to find out that out of the possible six dorms on campus, she lived in mine. Oh, but it gets worse—she lived in the apartment dorm room right ABOVE me! So not only did I feel her hate when I went to watch the band, but also when he was visiting her dorm or mine.

I know all you ladies who have experienced something similar to this are probably cringing, because you know the feeling, but honestly I look back and laugh. Fast-forwarding a couple weeks, I had moved on from Josh, because there was just no lasting spark between us and I had found a boy who was giving me A LOT of attention…which will probably be my next life lesson story. But, before I go down that rabbit hole, Tirzah was scheduled to lead worship at Holly, my hated rival’s church. Well, worse came to worse and we got stuck in a car together—alone. CAT FIGHT! You wish. Actually, as we were driving I revealed I didn’t like Josh that way and I told her I knew she did. It was like all the frosty weight between us disappeared. This is where the story gets better in my opinion, because within that one weekend we went from rivals to sisters, becoming inseparable.

I know getting to this point in the story was a gruesome process, but I wish arriving at this point lead to only better things. After our amazing weekend of finally becoming friends and then family, our time together as a unit was short lived…

April 29, 2007. Supposed to be one of the happiest days of the year, because I was in Disney World with another one of my friend groups I had met over the course of the year. We had an amazing time, but not every day is a fairytale…

The six of us were packed into Christian’s truck after a long day of making dreams come true at my favorite place in the world. Since we finally were sitting in one spot, I thought I would get out my cellphone, which 1) was an old school flip phone: Razor and 2) was not attached to my hand the whole time, but buried in the bottom of my drawstring bag, because we knew what was more important than texting and social media. Not that we had the option on our phones, but still. Once I got it out I had a bunch of missed calls and a few voicemails from Holly. She normally didn’t call me this much, so I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea how bad.

I ignored the voicemail and called her. When she picked up I couldn’t understand a word she said. I quieted down the others in the truck and all I heard was “Josh was in an accident. Josh is gone…” She repeated it a few times in between sobs and the smile I had on my face all day long fell away as I fought the tears. I got off the phone after telling her I would come up to her room right when I got home. Everything after that became very foggy.

I don’t remember sitting in silent tears the whole 45 minute drive back to campus. I don’t remember telling Christian to slow down and be careful. I don’t remember the guard waving us in right before curfew. I don’t remember the walk back to my room. I don’t remember trudging up the stairs to Holly’s, hoping it was all a dream. I don’t remember finishing the last week of school and finals. I just can’t recall any of it.

What I do remember is our group coming together as a family. We had a memorial service before school ended and what we thought would be maybe fifty students filled up the whole chapel. The loss of Josh could have done one of two things to our band: break us up or pull us together. I thank God every day it pulled us together. A common question is why God? Why does this happen to good people? These are questions we can never fully understand, but what we can understand is He has a plan. I like to think God knew what kind of family we would become in the midst of the loss.

This coming April will be nine years; nine long years since we lost the guy who brought our family together. I like to think he was the permanent glue which bound us together for the rest of our lives, because if anything our family is growing, becoming stronger as the years continue. Holly and Ralph married within our non-blood related family and they are about to give us our first niece or nephew. (I am rooting for a girl! Girl means we outnumber the boys finally!) It is hard though not to think about how Josh could have fit into all of this. How would have Tirzah evolved with Josh and Rob both at the helm? Would he have sung or rapped at Ralph and Holly’s wedding? Who would have captured his heart? So many unanswered questions, but we need not focus on the negative, but focus on the good. I know—cliché, but it is the truth.

I will always remember how he would steal our fries, when he could clearly go up to the buffet and get his own. I remember him always carrying around an apple for who knows what—oh yeah, the cattle that were over an hour away at home. I remember his policeman walk, like he was packing on his hips, but really there was nothing there. I remember his goofy grin and the things that happened in Holly’s car, which should stay there. (Inside joke—don’t push it.) What I remember the most is the sense of belonging to a group who is to this day my closest family from my college years. I thank God I knew Josh, even though it was for only a short period of time. You never know when someone walks into your life, making an impact so profound it will change you forever. He was that for me—for us. So I pray if you know someone who impacted your life the way Josh influenced mine—hold onto to them for as long as you can, because we are not guaranteed a long life, so fill it up with the people who will make it a great one!

My Self-Image Journey

I am telling this story, because I know there are other girls and women out there who can relate. I am also telling this story to show that we aren’t defined by what we wear or the jewelry that adorns us.

Psalms 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

I live by this verse. I repeat this verse every Wednesday during small group to my middle school girls. I am this verse. Every girl, lady, women, mom, grandma, great grandma, and daughter are this verse. There was one point in my life that I didn’t believe these words…

I was in sixth grade and an eighth grade girl, at our very first dance of the year, stopped me in my tracks and told me to stop sticking out my chest and stuffing my bra for guys attention. I will be the first to tell you I wasn’t. I was a very developed sixth grader and very comfortable in her own skin—until that moment. At that moment my great posture, which made it look like I was sticking my chest out, was demolished and what self-esteem I had shrunk back into the shadows of my heart. I started wearing baggy shirts and sweatshirts, only showing my figure when we had a dance, hoping that I could get some satisfaction from a guy, but it never happened—I was ignored.

I wasn’t ignored by the girls who I thought were my best friends, but only one of them ended up deserving that title by the end. I wasn’t ignored by the youth leaders who, unintentionally and without knowledge, made me feel like the slut of the youth group because I had kissed a boy and listened to secular music. I wasn’t ignored by my parents, who had no idea that someone stole my self-esteem. I wasn’t ignored by my teachers, who were better friends to me than some of the people my own age. I wasn’t ignored by the right people, but it didn’t matter, because my head wasn’t in the right place. I went through all of middle and high school looking for gratification from a boy, breaking apart when I was rejected or dumped. The problem was I wasn’t looking for the right attention from the right guy.

Now you are probably reading this and thinking I have parent issues, or my father isn’t in my life. Well, you are wrong. I have an amazing father who loves my mother with all of his heart and we had/have a great relationship!

So it goes to show that even a daughter who has a loving father and knows the love of God can have issues with self-esteem.

When college started knocking at my door I decided I needed new scenery. I had lived in Busco for so long that it became what Margo Roth Spiegelman calls a paper town (I RECOMMEND Paper Towns by John Green!!!!). I even started to feel like a paper girl walking among the paper teens in the hallways of our paper high school. I needed to get away. What I thought I might need is an environment of the spiritual sort. After the long process of searching and visiting colleges I landed on Southeastern University. A Christian college in Florida gave me two things: 1. a spiritual campus & education. 2. Four states between my past and me.

It did not help. My first year I allowed a boy to string me along as his “friend,” who he acted like he was dating when he didn’t have a girlfriend of his choosing. I thought I finally found the “love” I was so desperately searching for. I was blind. My friends couldn’t even talk sense into me. The last week of school I realized what I was allowing him to do and it wasn’t helping my self-esteem. If anything I buried myself deeper and deeper into despair. I found no healing during the summer, but a miracle was about to enter into my life sophomore year.

There was a girl. She lived next door to my roommates and me, but I would have never guessed the journey I was about to embark on. Her name is Bekah. When I met her I learned she was a cheerleader, popular when she was in high school, she was extremely skinny and pretty (she still is :] ), and my first thought was there was no way she would want to be friends with me. All I can say is it was a God thing, because we started hanging out frequently. She was so full of life that I didn’t know what she saw in me as a friend, but she saw a tiny common bond that could flourish. I don’t know if she saw my brokenness as we continued to hang out, but something happened that year. She cracked open my issues, like an egg, spilling out my insecurities, my fears, my hatred toward my appearance–everything.

As we grew as friend through the years little by little I started to love myself again. Little by little I saw what God saw when he looked at me. Little by little I started to become the woman God intended me to be, because I never really saw my calling until I saw myself. My calling? To help young girls see the beauty and importance of who they are. I never could have been the youth group leader I am today without Bekah. I could never have the confidence to be a Jewelry Lady if sophomore year didn’t happen.

How could we have known?

I am thankful for my experiences–good & bad–and I am thankful for a God who is always for me and never against me. If you have a story you want to share about self-image and want me to share, message me or comment. I can always change or take out names, but God gives us these stories for a reason–to share.

God Bless!

Ashley Danielle

My Writing Samples

Welcome to my writing samples! Here you will find stories I have written over the past many years and some are even works I’ve had published. Most of these are original works,except the “fan fiction” stories I had to write for a college course. So enjoy the reading!

Ashley Danielle~

My Writing Samples

Welcome to my writing samples! Here you will find stories I have written over the past many years and some are even works I’ve had published. Most of these are original works,except the “fan fiction” stories I had to write for a college course. So enjoy the reading!

Ashley Danielle~