A Dollop of Gratitude

A Dollop of Gratitude

Hey Friends,

If you have been keeping up, I’ve kind of been going through it. The past couple of post were written in the middle of night when my mind refuses to turn off and only concentrate on what I am missing. Like I said in my “Do I Have A Future?” https://harotianessentials.org/2020/03/28/do-i-have-a-future/ post, there are many nights that I miss my best friend and companion. It’s funny how no matter what a person has done or said, your mind will always remember the great times that was shared. I believe that my mind kicks into self-preservation mode so I won’t become to overwhelmed by the reality of what has lead to our current circumstance. It definitely doesn’t help that the kids and I live in the same house that we shared and having a constant reminder of our wedding vowels from tattoos that we got together. Lesson learned!

But, I am so tired of whining. I’m tired of being hurt. I’m tired of giving life and attention to something that no longer exist. I love that I am able to get our my feelings in a healthy way, but I also feel like it’s keeping me stuck. I’m ready to move on, move forward, and move directly into Gods purpose for me. This tragedy is suppose to teach me, strengthen me, and direct me to become the Ashley I’ve always wanted to become and more. It reminds me that God says that our faith in Him will allow Him to do more for us than we have ever imagined.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. -Ephesians 3:20

As I’ve been doing some self-reflection and mediating through godly counsel and secular counseling, I have come to understand that the trauma that I faced growing up has carried into my adulthood. Although I am hurt, I fully understand that I played a large part in the dissolution of my marriage. I asked him to repair hurt that only God can heal. I’ve asked him to love me in which God only can. And because he is hurting and broken from his own issues, like the rest of us, he buckled under the pressure. I am not, by all means, excusing his behavior, it’s just God has allowed me to see things from my husbands perspective. It has allowed the forgiveness process to run a little bit more smoothly. I find myself having compassion for him, when sometimes I think I should still be angry.

In order for me to be happy and move forward, I have to begin to grieve what was lost growing up. Some where along the way, I learned that I am only worthy of conditional love, where my self-worth is that of a non-human being. That is not my husbands fault, nor is it his responsibility to fix it. Not only is it Gods responsibility, but He wants to do it. The amazing thing about God is that He knows exactly what I need to heal those broken parts of me so I can move on to something more real and substantial even if I don’t understand it. Which is amazing because my plate is already full.

In order for me to allow God to move in my life to fill my hurt with His love and my brokenness with His grace, I have to move out of my own way. I have to let go of what I thought was perfect for me so He can do what is actually perfect for me. Recently, I have been writing down the benefits that I have experienced since the separation:

  1. I’ve definitely grown closer to God
  2. I pray a lot more
  3. I take my meds more consistently. Before I used to be so distracted by what was being said and done behind my back, it was hard for me to focus on anything else.
  4. I’m allowing God to make me better, not bitter. I am constantly asking God to help me to not only forgive him, but other people that have hurt me.
  5. I have the courage to face my own flaws, such as, codependency, unjust love, and the hurt that I have caused others.
  6. I have stepped into forgiving myself while realizing I am forgiven by the Lord
  7. I am able to concentrate on loving and seeing myself the way God sees me, thus, being able to love my children the way He does

And this is just to name of few. I am excited that God is working within me. Sometimes, yes, the hurt is unbearable, but that’s when we hold onto those promises:

When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. -Psalm 94:19

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. -Psalm 40:2

Well, that is all I have for today. Wait, ha! I finally made a short post. In your face self-pity! Anyway, thank you all for reading my thoughts. I love you and please remember to pray for one another.

God provides the core needs of our life for love, acceptance, and significance. There is not a person in the world who is able to give us exactly what we need except God Himself. And we can claim the promise of Philippians 4:19: ‘And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus’. But remember, God will meet your true needs, not necessarily your perceived needs.

-Stephanie Tucker, The Christian Codependence Recovery Workbook

February Monthly Theme: What Is Real Love?

February Monthly Theme: What Is Real Love?

Good Day Friends,

Valentines Day is coming up and most of us are preparing to share this special day with our loved one. As you may know, Valentines Day is one of the most expensive “holidays” celebrated in our culture. Even my own husband decided to spoil me with a new wedding ring to celebrate all that we have overcome these past few years in our marriage.

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Some people with equate love with today’s corporate America’s idea of what love is, but that couldn’t be furthest from the truth. People will spend thousands of dollars to make their loved ones happy with expensive jewelry, trips, shopping sprees, candy, flowers, etc.

I’m here to tell you, marriage itself is hard and it’s not what is portrayed on television or social media. You may experience loving moments, but a marriage relationship itself takes a lot of dedication, work, and a constant renewing of your mind as your marriage evolves in good and bad ways.

I truly believe that if most people knew beforehand how hard it is, many people wouldn’t go through with it. Divorce rates would be lower because when couples go through the rough times, they are prepared because it’s expected.

Society gives a false representation of marriage. You see it all over social media with hashtags about how a marriage should be. You’ll see a picture of a couple with matching outfits, big bright smiles at their perfect expensive wedding, bragging about how they never fight or how life is so grand. You may even see someone bragging about how their wife/husband bought them a brand new diamond ring with their birthstone on the sides *cough, cough*.

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Even the royal wedding seemed absolutely perfect.

What people don’t tell you is when you get married, it is very likely that you and your spouse are bringing some pretty heavy baggage with them; addiction, fear, shame, guilt, selfishness, heartbreak, childhood pain, and so on. This is unintentional of course. Most of the time, we are unaware that we are bringing that much baggage into our marriage. We think, “oh, I’ve gotten over my abuse” or “I’ve moved past being cheated on in my last relationship.” But then, we are triggered, thus causing a chain reaction of fights, slander, and separations.

For me, mental illness is under very large umbrella of baggage I’ve allowed myself to bring into my relationship with my husband. There are things that I thought I have “moved past” or “gotten over”, but has reared it’s ugly head during a manic episode. My husband knew that I struggled with mental illness, but the poor guy had no idea how much of a struggle it was and how much I’ve allowed it to control certain aspects of my life.

When my husband and I attended a marriage seminar back in April of last year, our instructor asked: “what percentage do you feel you would need to put into your relationship to make it work?” Every couple had the same answer; 50/50. Make sense right? Apparently, we were all wrong. The actual answer is 100/100.

Meaning, there are times when your spouse would have to put in 100% when you are unable to put in 0%. And there are times when you’ll have to put in 100% when your spouse is unable to put in 0%. And then, there are those moments when both of us are able to put in 100%. That is when things are absolutely great.

I believe when relationships fail, it’s because people feel like they are giving more than their spouse. And when they feel like they’re giving more, then they want to give less. And when their spouse sees’s that they’re giving less, then the spouse gives less, until both people are giving 0%, thus giving up completely.

There was a time that I wanted to break up because I was convinced that my husband would get fed up with dealing with my mental illness and leave me. I was giving maybe 20% effort into my marriage because giving my all was too scary.  But my husband continued to give 100%. He never gave up on me. He never stopped loving me. He was convinced that I would move past my insecurity and believe him when he said he would never leave me. If he would have given me what I was giving him, we would be divorced by now, but he didn’t. And I love him so much more for it.

There was also a time where my husband wasn’t able to give as much as he wanted to emotionally due to his past issues, but I continued to pray for him. I prayed to God that he would soften my husband’s heart and to help him to move past his issues and forgive those who trespassed against him. It was my unconditional love and willingness to give 100% when he was able to give 0%, that continues to make our marriage stronger than ever.

This is what God wants for us in our marriages; to love each other past the good times. Unconditional love means loving someone when they are unlovable, praying for someone even if they aren’t praying for you, and trusting God that He will pull you through the hard times of marriage because there is nothing we can do to avoid them.

Like Paul said in Roman 5:1-11, problems and trials build endurance, which builds strength of character which leads to hope of salvation. We are living in a broken, fallen world and one of the hard parts of living in such a broken world is not believing the lies that Satan try to feed us every minute of every day. One of those lies is that God cannot save your marriage. When God can fix anything. All you have to do is ask and be patient.

Marriage is a gift from God that should be taken seriously. It’s not something you can choose to walk away from because it doesn’t fit what YOU had planned. It is a contract that you are making with someone else and with God. I didn’t know that during my first marriage. I didn’t like what my first husband was doing, so I kicked him to the curb like he was a cheap suit.

Don’t do what I did. If you are thinking about getting married or currently married and going through a rough time, I would advise you to put God first in your marriage, and the rest will fall into place.

My husband and I have gone through some pretty rough times, but the good times make it all worth it. He and I are willing to sacrifice to conform to each other’s needs while accepting what we can’t change. Will we continue to make mistakes? Of course. Will we have another fight? Maybe, but having God in the center and loving each other as Jesus loves us will allow is to last til death do us part. This is love.

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I love you guys and thank you, thank you, thank you for reading this extremely long post. I tried to cut it down, but I couldn’t. So smooches to each one of you who had enough patience to read all of it. I pray that each one of you is having a great start to your week and please remember to pray for one another.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13: 4-7,13

Additional Scripture about Marriage and Relationships

Genesis 1:27-28: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ”

Malachi 2:14-15: “But you say, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”

Isaiah 54:5: “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

Song of Solomon 8:6-7: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.”

Ephesians 4:2-3: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Colossians 3:14: “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

Ephesians 5:25: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.”

Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Mark 10:9: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Ephesians 5:25-33: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, …”

Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Proverbs 30:18-19: “There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman.”

1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Proverbs 31:10: “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”

Ruth 1:16-17: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”

Romans 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

1 Peter 4:8: “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”

Ephesians 5:21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Genesis 2:18–25: “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ … So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

1 Peter 3:7: “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”

September Theme: Who Are We To God? Part 2

September Theme: Who Are We To God? Part 2

Hey Friends,

When I was 12 years old, I found out that I had a family in my hometown on my dad’s side of the family. Just to briefly tell you, my dad is what you would call a rolling stone. (If you don’t know what a “rolling stone” is, please refer to The Temptations Papa Was A Rolling Stone.

I am one of the numerous children spread across the country and needless to say my father was never around. He would come to my town and visit once every couple of years. He would stay a few hours and get back on the road as a commercial truck driver. One day, my father called me and told me that his brother and his wife moved to the city I lived in and they wanted to meet me. I was so excited and nervous at the same time.

After I met them, we immediately clicked. My uncle was like the father I always wanted. He was caring, funny, easy to talk to, and only lived 30 minutes from where my mother and I lived. As the years passed, my uncle would express his distaste for how my father treated me. He promised me on numerous occasions that he would never leave me…that he would always be “my dad”. And although I had my reservations, I trusted him.

A few years had gone by and my aunt and uncle decided to get a divorce. My uncle soon after met his current wife and decided to marry her. Then, I didn’t like his new wife, not because of anything she had done, but because she became the new center of his world and I felt extremely neglected. I thought she was taking my uncle away from me and that he would do to me what my biological father had done to me. So I became bitter.

Related Post: September Theme: Who Are We To God?

One day, I decided to express my feelings to my uncle. I let him know that I felt like his new wife was becoming more important than me and my young children, and the reasons why I felt that way. Looking back, I can see how I was being a brat. How I was allowing fear of rejection bring up issues from my biological father and how they were interfering with my relationship with my uncle and his new wife.

He then told me that since I didn’t like his new wife, that I could no longer be in his life. And that he was officially disowning me. At that moment, I’ve never felt so rejected and foolish in my life. I was truly heartbroken. I felt foolish because I knew I shouldn’t have believed him when he told me he would never leave like my father did. I thought I should have trusted my instinct and never allowed him into my heart. Again, I have another “father” who didn’t want me. And for what? What was so wrong with me? What did I do so bad to be disowned by, not one, but two fathers?

After this, I said I would never trust another man ever again. And I didn’t. It’s been 13 years and I still have trust issues when it comes to men and the “promises” that they make.

I started to notice that I began to see God as another man that I couldn’t trust. The only difference is, I love God so much and I want to make sure that I do everything I can so that he doesn’t disown me, too. Every time I would mess up, I would beg God for his forgiveness. I would even mumble under my breath, “Lord please don’t abandon me. I can’t lose you, too.”

This showed that I didn’t have a clear understanding of who God is and who I am to God. Why? Because…

  1.  God never breaks a promise – God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? Numbers 23:19
  2. God promises to never leave us – So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deut. 31:6
  3. He never changes his mind – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
  4. God loves us more than we could ever comprehendBut God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4-5

Sometimes I still think about the last moment that I had with my uncle. Maybe I could I have said something different. Maybe I could have not said anything at all. I don’t know. I like to believe that everything happens for a reason and maybe one day we could speak to each other again. But until then, I am choosing to rely on the one relationship that I know will never fail, and that is with my Abba Father, my Daddy, my Yahweh, and my Jehovah.

If you have lost a bond or relationship with someone, please know that it will never happen with God. The enemy will try to trick you into believing that you have to be perfect in order for God to love you. But scripture says that God loved you before he even made the world (Ephesians 1:4).

Thank you all for reading my thoughts. I truly appreciate each and every one of you who take the time out to read my mess of a life. I love you, God loves you, and please remember to pray for one another.

“We are saved by how we believe, not by how we behave.” -Neil T. Anderson

Letter To A Broken Heart

Letter To A Broken Heart

Hey Friends,

So, a good friend of mines, who I care for dearly, even though we have never met in person, is suffering from heartbreak. This pain is so familiar to me and I’m sure to you as well. There are very few people, if any, walking this planet who hasn’t experienced a broken heart. Whether it was from a breakup, betrayal, or even loss of a loved one (literally or figuratively).

Heartbreak has been known to claims lives. According to the American Heart Association, Broken Heart Syndrome can resemble symptoms that of a heart attack due to stress-induced cardiomyopathy aka a broken heart.

Personally, the last time my heart was broken, it felt like death had both of his hands wrapped around my heart, squeezing so hard that every breath that I took was unbearable. Every tear that ran down my face was that of physical and emotional twinge. I begged for relief, at one point, even hoped for death to finally claim the pieces of what was left of what used to pump life throughout my limp, lifeless body.

As my friend described her pain, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own grief. I felt helpless on how to tell her ways to overcome such horrific agony. Honestly, I barely remember how I made it through myself.

Then, I prayed and asked God to reveal to me the right words to say which prompted tonight’s post.

My Dear Friend,

I know that you are hurting right now. The pain that you feel is unbearable. It feels as though life cannot possibly go on for one more minute of agony surrounding your mind. I do not have the answers that you seek, nor the cure for your discomfort, but one thing is for sure. The love that Jesus has for you will get you through this difficult time. Our Creator designed us to have needs and wants. He has designed us to love and take care of one another and you were betrayed by a person who promised they would protect you. There is only one person who can fulfill your need and desire for unconditional love, Yahweh. Even saying his name…Yahweh, allows you to create a new breath with every letter.

He created your needs and wants to match up with his. Your desire to be loved lines up perfectly with his need and desire to love you like your hand fitting into a glove. It is natural to try to find our desires here on earth in things and people other than God. So, it is not your fault. Please forgive yourself, friend. No one saw this coming, including you. But you know who did? Jesus! He knew that the world would break your heart. That is why is he waiting with his arms open wide, awaiting you to climb into his lap like an infant so he can comfort you that way a Father should comfort their child.

God promises that he will satisfy all of our needs and wants, including our need and want to be loved. He also promised to never break your heart as the world has. We will never be fully satisfied here on earth because the earth is not our permanent home. His kingdom is. We will find contentment for which we were created when we let our desires become fulfilled by him, and him alone. During times of suffering, he says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9). Take this opportunity to draw closer to him. He is waiting for you, friend. I promise he will give you more love and joy that this world has to offer. His word says, So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7). 

I love you so much, sis. I will continue to pray that the Lord makes every day easier to bear. Until then, know that I and our Abba Father are here for you.

Sincerely,

Ashley

If you are experiencing heartache, this letter applies to you also. Please know that I am here for you. You can email me, and I will be more than happy to pray for you and try to give you the best advice that I possibly can without judgment. I do not have all of the answers, but I know who does. Jesus and I are tight like size 2 underwear on a size 20 bear.

 

Love you guys with all my heart. Stay safe!

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7 Reasons Why We Avoid Progress

7 Reasons Why We Avoid Progress

Hello Friends!

Have you ever been afraid to become a better you? That sounds crazy right. You’re probably saying, “why would someone be afraid of progressing in life?” We would like to think that we want and need progression in our lives, but very few people will admit to being afraid of it. I know I am.

I so desperately want to get better, feel better, and do better. So why does the thought of “being a better me” frighten me so much? There must be something wrong with me, right? WRONG!

Ron Edmondson is a church leader and pastor of Immanuel Baptist Chruch and is an avid believer in Jesus. I was introduced to him by one of my church elders and leader of the group that I’m in called Crash the Chatterbox, Bert.

Bert gave our class a handout that explained why we are afraid of progress written by Ron Edmondson. When I first read it, I thought the same thing you said, “Why would anyone be afraid of progress?” But then I started reading. The reasons he stated makes sense and has transformed my perception, so hopefully, it’ll transform yours as well. Let’s do this!

7 Reasons We Avoid Progress by Ron Edmondson

  1. It stretches us– Progress will lead to unchartered territories; areas that you have never been in before. The unknown can be scary
  2. It invites us– Progress loves to create interest in new activities and circumstances. In order to fuel and maintain the momentum, one must embrace the continuous change that is going to happen.
  3. You HAVE to improve– Progress requires more energy and effort as it progresses. Keep in mind, “You have to get better to get bigger.”
  4. It’s often messy– I like to say, “Anything worth having is going to require a fight.” If it were easy, everyone would be rich, everyone would be successful, everyone would have the spouse of there dreams.
  5. It often defies logic or boundaries– Think about this, 100 years ago, you would have been locked up in an insane asylum if you told them that is it possible to pick up a device, put it to your ear, and talk to someone 2,000 miles away in 30 seconds? Sometimes, stepping outside of the box will take you further than staying in it.
  6. It invites competition– “Show people a little progress and someone will want to join the fun!” -Bert V. In today’s social media infested society, it seems that everyone is losing their individuality to become more like celebrities, and the celebrities are copying each other.  So, maybe, if you progress, then others would want that for themselves, too.
  7. It begs for more– This couldn’t be truer. One time I thought to myself, “Ugh! Blogging requires so much time and attention, and I need my naps, soooo…. maybe this is something I don’t want to do. I’m glad I didn’t listen to myself but instead listened to God. I sounded stupid. Blogging has become my safe haven, my beach, my getaway. Why would I deprive myself of such harmony just because I need naps? Don’t be a turd in a hot tub, floating around, waiting to get flushed. Nurture what nurtures you.

Reading over this broadened my perception. I didn’t know that I was afraid of progressing until I said, “Yea, I’m afraid of that” to most of the reasons. I was like the chicken in the video clip. A part of improving, unfortunately, is taking a really good look at yourself. Not your outer appearance, but your soul. And you may not like what you see. I surely don’t! But you know what, it is very much worth it.

I love the feeling that I have when I know I’m improving myself. I feel great when I know something that I have struggling with is now no longer a concern. All it took what a hard look, a little vodka, and a whole lotta Jesus. Joking about the vodka, cause boy, I wish.

Anyway, thank you so so much for reading my thoughts. I appreciate all of the love that is shown to me and I love each and every one you in Jesus name. Stay blessed, family.

PS…sorry for all of the cute furry animals. I wanted to use furry cuteness to represent my mood, but I think all it’s going to do is make you guys go…

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” -Benjamin Franklin

 

 

20 Habits To Guarantee Happiness

In today’s society, the meaning of true happiness has been defined as “what can I get for myself” or “what can this other person do to make me happy”.

I hate to break the news to you, but if you are looking for happiness in materialistic entities or other people, you will never be happy…EVER! 

How do I become happy, you ask? Well, below are a few things that you can add to your everyday life that will guarantee true happiness.

  1. Meditate
  2. Have faith
  3. Eat Healthy
  4. Exercise
  5. Read more
  6. Judge less
  7. Respect yourself and other people
  8. Be passionate
  9. Drink more water
  10. Accept your flaws
  11. Stop making excuses
  12. Live in the moment
  13. Have goals
  14. Stop comparing yourself to other people
  15. Stop taking things personally
  16. Never stop learning
  17. Listen more, talk less
  18. Find a purpose
  19. Forgive
  20. Appreciate the little things

I have been desperately applying each one to my everyday life. I will testify, that they have greatly improved how I view my life and how I deal with difficult situations and people that came my way. We cannot change the world by simply sitting back and complaining about it. If each and every one of us developed the above habits, we have the ability to not only improve our own lives but the lives of others around us. Happiness is contagious, just like sadness and disparity. If we take the time to spread more love, then maybe, just maybe, the rest of the world will take heed and follow. If not, then at least your life will be greatly improved.

I hope you all are having a wonderful week.

 

Social Media Fast Update

2370150Good day all,

So, you want to know how I’ve been doing on my 30-day Social Media fast? Well, I’ll tell you anyway 🙂 To catch up, click here My 30 Day Fast From Social Media to read the details of my social media fast and why I am doing it.

I was doing really well. I really was, until…I received a notification on my phone from the Apple News app saying, “Kylie Jenner reveals the birth of baby girl.” This was a trigger because social media has been in a frenzy since September due to pregnancy allegations. No one has been able to provide tangible proof of this “alleged pregnancy”, until Tuesday. I looked at the headline for about two minutes arguing with myself. I wasn’t sure if Apple News counted as “social media”. It is a news outlet, right? So, I clicked on the article.

After I read it, I felt a bit ashamed. I was excited that I had gone a week without reading celebrity gossip. I was able to convince myself that this is more of an announcement than gossip, so I hit the link to watch the video that she made during her secret pregnancy. I was so curious, but later felt robbed of the 7 minutes of my life that I gave to watching her video. It left no satisfaction at all.

I thought long and hard as to why I was so interested in this girl having a baby. Millions of women have babies every day and I’m not lurking on Apple News to read about their experiences.

I am going to take my little slip up as continued motivation to complete my challenge. Honestly, it has left a nasty taste in my mouth.  I’m not sure what made me more upset, the sudden urgency I felt to check her pregnancy video or me giving in and watching the video. Either way, this incident has further proven why I NEED to do this challenge. I should have control over what I read and watch, not the other way around.

If you are trying to overcome any addiction right now, I am proud of you for taking the first step. I also want you to know that if you have a slip-up, forgive yourself and keep pushing forward. You may have thoughts of self-doubt, but give yourself some credit. You taking that first step to admitting that you have an addiction and setting a plan in place to subdue it is a lot more than many of the people living right now.

We got this!

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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Photo Credit to http://goaliefights.blogspot.com/

5 Pros to Hair Loss

91809d4bac33b427373e720b8b1ffcea-treatment-for-thinning-hair-hair-loss-treatment.jpgSince my battle with Lupus began, one of the symptoms that I have been experiencing is  “unexplained hair loss”, according to my rheumatologist. I’ve shaved my head completely bald twice in 12 months because my hair follicles just weren’t holding onto my scalp any longer.

This was something that I was extremely ashamed and embarrassed about. I began to feel like my husband wasn’t going to be attracted to me anymore, but that wasn’t the case. He has been so supportive by reassuring me every day that he would never find me unattractive.

My hair has since grown back but has recently begun falling out again. I’ve begun researching natural remedies to stimulate hair growth and I’m quickly finding out how tedious this process is becoming. There are so many products, it’s hard to know which ones would really work, but I’m on a mission so I can’t give up. While I’m figuring all of that out, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t allow my mind to slip back into a dark place filled with self-pity and turmoil. I decided to think about how losing your hair can be awesome.

5 Pros to Hair Loss

  1. I use less shampoo and conditioner. I love that I use less shampoo and conditioner because my family won’t go through it so quickly. It saves money and time spent in the store. I’m all for saving both.
  2. Shaving your head bald actually feels awesome. I loved it when the cool breeze would kiss the top of my head and the deep scalp massages my husband gave. It was so relaxing. It helped calm me during severe anxiety attacks.
  3. Now, I have a legitimate reason to buy wigs and not feel guilty about it. Before when I had healthy hair, the idea of buying a wig was frivolous. I would always think of what else I could have bought with the money, but I was also envious of women who were brave enough to wear stylish wigs without worrying about the judgment of others. Now I feel like I’m going bald and I want to look cute, so I need a wig.
  4. Wigs are awesome. They even have stylish wigs for men AND you can’t even tell it’s a wig! I mean, men have been wearing wigs for centuries, but modern day wigs can blend into your scalp. It’s a perfect illusion. You can get short, long, straight, curly, updo, down-do, course, thin, thick….it’s endless.
  5. I know that I am more than my hair. I am more than my skin color. I am more than society’s projection of perfection. I am loved. I am wonderful. I am beautifully made. Hair or No Hair. I am Ashley.

If you’re experiencing hair loss or any physical issues, YOU ARE STILL BEAUTIFUL. The world’s perception of you is not God’s perception of you. He thinks you’re wonderful. You were made in His image and He makes NO mistakes.

“Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you’re most beautiful.” -Zoe Kravitz

Letting Go, Letting God

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To my readers,

I didn’t plan on blogging today. I was actually having anxiety about what I should post next, but I had an experience this morning that I had to share with you all.

This morning started out like any other morning. Now that I look back, I see that I was very anxious. I remember saying to my husband how today “just didn’t feel right”. I had a million thoughts going through my mind; things I had to get done, the people that I need to call, the 4-year old that needs me constantly. I started one of my many chores to help push through the anxiety. Ultimately, it became too overwhelming, so I shut it down.

I left my 4-year-old on the sofa with his iPad. I headed to my bathroom to brush my teeth and to get a little peace from my son’s increasingly curious questions. I started listening to a video by Joyce Meyer on How to Beat Depression. She began speaking about how God uses us to press through other people’s lives. I immediately felt so much pain and hurt lift off of me like a heavy blanket.  All of the pain that I was carrying from other people hurting me was instantly gone. It was like forgiveness, hope, and perseverance wrapped in a tortilla made of beauty. It was amazing. I truly wept. I never felt God’s presence so much in my life. It was like He was standing right next to me. I saw Him as clearly as I saw myself. I cried like a baby. I can’t remember a time where I felt so…child-like.

It was the most beautiful moment I’ve ever felt and I needed the world to know. Even if it reaches one reader.  If you have faith, if you seek God, He will answer! He will show up when you least expect it. He showed up while I was brushing my teeth. I had toothpaste everywhere, weeping like an infant. But I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I haven’t felt that much joy in…honestly, I don’t remember. Like I said, I’ve never felt anything like it. It made me realize that when you have the Holy Spirit guiding you, it becomes easier to hear God’s instructions.

Seek God and He will show up. Thank you for reading. I hope this inspires you to push through and know that all of your hard work is going to pay off. Your prayers will not go unanswered.

“Forgive anyone who has caused you pain or harm. Keep in mind that forgiving is not for others. It is for you. Forgiving is not forgetting. It is remembering without anger. It frees up your power, heals your body, mind, and spirit. Forgiveness opens with a pathway to a new place of peace where you can persist despite what has happened to you.” -Les Brown

Ah Ha! There’s My Motivation!

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Recently, I’ve been pushed to the edge. So far so, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it back. Then, I was given a sudden reminder of why I’m fighting this fight in the first place; my family. It may sound a little cliche, but my children are the most important aspects of my life; emotionally, physically, spiritually. God trusted me to raise these beautiful people to value their lives and to serve humanity as instructed by God. But I can’t do any of that if my head is unstable. I’ll admit it. I’ve allowed people and circumstances to stress me out so much, I lost sight of why I was fighting. Now, after support from my husband, family members, and God, I was able to see why I NEED to fight.

I made a list of Daily Goals that I have to do no matter what, no excuses. There are only about 7 small tasks, but when I accomplish one, I feel even more inspired to accomplish the others. Hopefully, this will lead to my list growing with more difficult tasks that will lead to accomplishing my goals, thus getting the breath of air I spoke about in my last post Living with Depression. I know, once I catch the first breath after drowning for so long, I will be able to swim to land in no time and that moment….that moment is THE MOMENT! that will define the rest of this journey.

One item on my list is to listen to motivational speeches. It’s a way to get pumped up in the morning to start my day. When I’m in pain, I’ve begun a terrible habit of concentrating on that pain and the more I would concentrate on it, the more it would hurt. Then I would give myself excuses as to why I shouldn’t get up. Then…my mind would wonder to even darker places. It was a bad cycle. So, motivational videos help replace those negative thoughts. I’m too busy listening to what they are saying to listen to my own thoughts. Eventually, my thoughts will become those of the motivational speakers and I would no longer need to listen to them, well, maybe not as often.

I would like to share a video that really helped me get over a couple of fears I am having about moving forward. Take a listen and maybe it could help you as well. Sorry, I could only post the link that’ll take you to YouTube. Thanks for understanding 🙂

FIND YOURSELF MOTIVATIONAL VIDEO 2017

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Francis of Assisi

 

Side Note* I just became extremely overwhelmed while writing this. I began thinking, “what am I doing?” ,”whos going to read this?”, “people won’t like this”, “this is too much information I’m sharing.” <—– It’s these thoughts that confirm why I should continue to share my thoughts, as crazy as they may seem.  There has to be someone out there that can relate, right? 

Living with Depression

Emotionally, today was a rough day for me. Lately, I’ve been feeling this doom cloud hovering over me every second of every day. Depression is apart of my life, full time. Meaning, it is something that has not gone away and most likely will not go away. Like any illness, it can be a struggle if not properly maintained. People who don’t understand try to offer what they think is great advice; “pray, think happy thoughts, try not to stress, try not to worry.” Anyone who lives with depression knows it’s not something you can “get over”. It is literally a chemical imbalance in the brain. Some are fortunate enough that they don’t have highs and lows. They can change their diet, meditate a little and they’re back to normal. People like me, it’s not so easy. Sometimes the emotions are so strong, it feels like daggers are constantly moving in and out of your mind and body.

Today, I had a bit of a meltdown. I’ve always been pretty good at explaining my feelings, but for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been at a lost for words, until today. It was something that my husband said that made the floodgates open and my emotions and words were finally in sync.

Have you ever felt like you were drowning? Like, your entire life is engulfed in water and you fight every day, all day just to try to get your head above water. Not even your head, maybe just your face. You know that if you get one breath, one inhale, then you’ll have more strength to pull yourself out of the water completely. You have people around you who try to understand by throwing you a life jacket, rope, anything that they feel you need to pull yourself out, but you know you need more than that. At this point, it’s either fight or flight. Giving up isn’t an option, but you’re getting so tired. The more tired you get, the further you sink into the ocean. Slowly watching the light from the sun become further away. It’s so dark and so cold.   This is what I was able to explain to my husband after weeks of not knowing.

He then explained that he knew exactly what I was going through because he has been there, feeling the exact same way. It gave me a lot of hope because he is in such a great place and if God could do it for him, then I know he would do it for me. At that moment, I felt less abandoned by God. He reminded me, through my husband, that He has not forgotten me. He sees every tear and hears every prayer. During this storm, He has made it abundantly clear, that I will be clear of any illness and disease and I will be blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

Even though some people may not understand what I am going through, I have family and friends who constantly throw a life jacket or rope to help save me. Those are the ones that I think about when I am unable to see through the darkness. I am truly blessed to have people who want to see me succeed. When I become better and I’m able to look back at days like today and laugh, they will be apart of my “road to success” story; how I fought the depression and lupus demons and won! Until then, I will walk this journey and trust God’s process.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.” -Saint Francis de Sales

Learning Life’s Journey

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Turning 30 has given me a different perspective on life. The amount of awareness that I’ve experienced has been a little overwhelming. A small example; I used to be one of those people who hated the idea of having insurance. Any kind of insurance; car insurance, renters insurance, medical insurance. I thought, why pay for something that might NOT happen to you. Then I turned 30. Now the idea of insurance is a necessity, something I refuse to live without. I remember last month our car insurance lapsed for 30 hours and I was in a panic. All I could think about was how it would just be my luck that I would get into a car accident on the ONE day I didn’t have insurance. I blame this fear on life experience (being in an accident without car insurance and dealing with that hell) and turning 30.

There are a lot of other things that I was used to doing and saying, that now hold a different meaning, a different value. Take love for instance. I thought love was kissing someone and being filled with unexplainable emotion (lust). I thought love was “feeling” like you would do anything for that person, no matter the circumstance. I honestly thought that wedding vow was just something romantic to say to get people teary-eyed and “awwww” mode. When in fact, it is a warning. It is a warning that life is going to get hard, really hard. And the person standing in front of you is supposed to be there no matter what. They even ask you if you’re sure if you can keep the commitment. Honestly, my first marriage, I didn’t understand that. When people told my ex-husband and I that we should wait to get married, I didn’t see why. I was forced to grow up quicker than the average kid. So, I thought I had everything figured out. I thought if I knew what I wanted and did everything to accomplish it, then my life would be great, right? Wrong! Double wrong! Triple wrong! Life is a journey, it develops in stages. Just because I was more “mature”  than the average 21-year-old, I definitely didn’t know about marriage. My life’s journey hadn’t come to the part where it taught me how to love my husband and conquer life’s challenges. Eventually, getting through my 20’s and a shit load of mistakes, I now know what it takes. I know what love truly is and I know what it isn’t.

I love my husband. I love my mother. Both are two very different people that I’ve had to learn to love despite who they are without judgment. We say we want unconditional love until you find out he/she has the ability to hurt you like no other person walking this earth. Or that the person you love has some weird fetus that you knew nothing about. (Not me, of course, just saying 🙂 )

I like to read comments on Instagram about celebrities breaking up for whatever reason. It’s funny to read what others think about love and marriage. You see comments like, “I would never put up with that.” or “He/she wouldn’t be able to treat me like that” or my favorite “I would leave if he/she ever did that.” If you love someone unconditionally and they show you a side of themselves that you didn’t know anything about (I’m talking something like a porn addiction, not spousal abuse) and you leave them without helping them through it, then why did you marry them? Why did you repeat those vows to your partner? Now I know that love is waking up next to the same person every day, not wanting to kill them. It’s waking up next to them being just as committed to them as you were on your first date, hell, even your wedding day. It’s learning something new about them every day and love them despite how it may annoy you, hurt you, or disappoint you. Love is working through the tough crap, the really tough crap! The “I don’t know if I can do this anymore” crap and loving them despite. Love is accepting any change that life throws your way and working through it together; mad, sad, whatever. You do it together, for the sake of your love, your marriage, and your family. It’s realizing that your relationship is bigger than what you want or need. It’s about someone else’s needs. My husband and I have been through a lot, but I would trade it in for anything in the world. Our trials were hard, but they taught us how to love each other so much more and appreciate each other so much more. So when we say “I love you”, it’s not just something we say out of habit. We’re really saying, “Thank you for sticking around and appreciating me. Thank you for loving me despite my flaws and secrets.” We know the worst parts of each other and that is what makes our love so strong. We know that whatever we face from here on out, we got this, cause we’ve been through worse.

Life is a journey. You can’t rush it, you can’t force it. No matter what you think you know, trust me, you don’t know the half of it. We may plan our journey, but God may have other plans. When He throws your plan out of the window and set His in place, it would be in your best interest to follow it. I thought my marriage to my ex-husband was a good idea, not knowing my current husband is what God wanted for me and I’m so grateful that His plan was way better than mine.

I now see insurance as something to have WHEN an event happens, not IF it’s going to happen. Life is one tricky bitch. The moment you think you have her all figured out, BAM! a curveball smacks in the face. Plus, life doesn’t discriminate. No matter who you are, life will happen! I never understood that until recently. I can admit to that. It makes it easier to not look at life’s challenges like something is happening to you when in fact, who isn’t it happening to? Everybody I know, right now, is going through something life-altering, but trust your journey, grow from your journey. You will notice your perspective has changed and that have you made progress, no matter how small you may think it is. 

“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”  -Mandy Hale