Saying Goodbye Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Saying Goodbye Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Hey Friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our minds are enslaved to the things that we enjoy. There are so many things that we enjoy that keep us in the very prison we want to escape from. I’ll give you an example.

You know the hit television show, Game of Thrones, right? Well, I am such a huge fan, my family and I named our cat after one of the popular characters, Khaleesi. Needless to say, I love everything about the show. From the dramatic sword fights with blood spewing everywhere to the sexy, nude love scenes. I’ve been like an addict checking YouTube for updates, predictions, and new trailors for the upcoming, last season of the show.

But, God revealed to me that this show is very unhealthy for my spirit. Last season, I remember feelings “not right” immediately after I watched a episode. I was restless, unable to sleep. And once I feel asleep, my dreams were weird and eerie.

Bondage is like a prison cell and the deception of the enemy is the darkness. God is telling us to trust the light in front of it and follow it (Jesus). God is providing one light for each step at a time, but we have to put on foot forward. Sometimes he’ll even light up 2 lights in front of us for encourage. But ultimately, our goal is to walk through the prison doors, which have already been opened by the blood of the lamb. We just have to follow the light of Jesus as a guide to make sure we’re following the right directions.

Me watching Game of Thrones keeps me in the darkness. The violent and sex scene keeps in my mind in a warped prison which in turn penetrats my heart. It’s breaking my heart to know that I cannot watch my favorite television show. But guess what? I can sleep at night. I can rest knowing that I am pleasing my heavenly Father and He is rewarding me for acknowledging my weakness and staying away from it. He loves that I am renewing my mind in His word and not in the ways of the world.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. -Romans 12:2

In the long run, it’s helping me relate to my family, friends, and even myself. I am able to love and find comfort in hard times and not become angry or discouraged when things get tough. What does that have to do with a television show? Well, if I’m constantly watching violent behavior, then I will eventually begin to emulate violent behavior when I am faced with my own challenges. But…if I fill my mind with God’s love and grace, then that is the kind of behavior I will emulate when I am faced with my own challenges. See the difference?

Thank you guys for reading my thoughts today. I pray you guys are having a good day. Please remember to pray for one another.

July Monthly Theme: Emotionally Healing

July Monthly Theme: Emotionally Healing

Hey Friends,

The past few days have been filled with much needed up’s and downs. The ups are always wanted and appreciated, but down days are filled with learning and worship. Does that make sense? I know it may sound crazy, but I’ve learned to take my bad days as learning experiences from God. Like little pop quizzes from what I have learned from good days.

Instead of allowing my mind to be filled with doubt and despair, I’ve learned to rely on the strength of the Lord to get me through. It doesn’t feel like the end of the world anymore. Better yet, it feels like God is giving me more time to correct my life so I can become who he needs me to be for his glory and kingdom.

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My down days have forced me to deal with bitterness that I didn’t know I was harboring. I thought I was over it until my ex-husband decided to make a decision that would not only change the lives of our lovely children but everyone in our family. My ex-husband decided to move to another state despite how it would affect our children. Needless to say, I was angry. Mostly because I knew the pain that my children would feel since I experienced the same abandonment and rejection by my own father.

Right after the move, I concentrated on making sure my children felt loved more than ever. I initially ignored my feelings so I can concentrate on theirs. I felt as though I was over it as the days and months went by because of the feeling of “I want to rip his head off” became less and less. But then, he would say something rude or selfish and those “I hate you” feelings would come rushing back.

Unbeknownst to me, I was becoming bitter. Or maybe I was already bitter and didn’t know how fast it was growing inside of me from the moment I heard “I’m moving!” Recently, I began reading this book called Chaos Beneath The Shade: How To Uproot And Stay Free From Bitterness written by Tracey Bickle. It shined a light on how I truly felt and what I need to do to get over my feelings. I don’t want to “hate” the father of my two oldest children. I most definitely don’t want how I feel to spew out onto them. That would break my heart even more.

So, I’ve come to the realization that I need to heal from the situation. I’m not the first woman to be left to raise her children without the father and unfortunately, I won’t be the last. Plus, I have a wonderful husband who has gladly stepped in to pick up what my ex-husband has left behind. So, first I began to pray, Lord, please heal my heart. Please remove this hatred stirring inside of me. That wasn’t enough though and Tracey Bickle let me know why.

How to Begin to Heal Emotionally

  1. Pray for the person that has wronged you. At first, I didn’t like this idea, but there are a couple of reasons why praying for the person that has hurt is effective:
    • Forgiveness breaks the cycle- So my children won’t be affected
    • When you consistently pray for them, your heart will begin to heal itself
    • Jesus said so…But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! -Matthew 5:44
    • Why did Jesus say so? Because “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.” Matthew 5:46
    • “[Forgiveness] softens our heart to see the temporary nature of the conflict.” -Tracey Bickle
  2. Going through the process of forgiveness is helping you trust God and because you are being obedient, He will bless you. He will then hold the person who offended you accountable for their own actions. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” -Luke 6:37
  3. Talk it out. Seek counseling or talk to someone who you trust that would be able to help you look at the bigger picture. We need those who can see what we don’t and with compassion, tenderness, and kindness, they can help us walk through it.
  4. Let it go. It was hard for me to let go because I felt like he is “getting away with” abandoning his responsibilities, while he’s living his best life; doing as he pleases when he pleases. But I have to trust that God will hold him accountable for the real reason that he left. “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” -1 Timothy 5:8

Simply put, this is not my fight, nor my worry anymore. I love my children more than anything! I will do anything for them to have great lives. And if that means letting go of the bitterness that I hold against their father, then I HAVE to do that. Plus, bitterness causes illness and I’m already sick enough, so this is my declaration that I am letting it go.

Thank you all for reading my thoughts. I pray that if you are holding onto any bitterness from someone that has hurt you, that you are able to hand it over to God so you can begin to heal. I love you all. Please remember to pray for one another.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32

**Pictures borrowed from google pics*

Lupus Awareness Month

Lupus Awareness Month

Hey Friends!

This month is officially Lupus Awareness Month. Until I was diagnosed 2 years ago, I really never knew what Lupus was. I’ve heard of it here and there through conversation, like, “Hey, so and so has Lupus.” The only thing I knew about it was that it made you really sick. Now, since it is a struggle that I am now facing, I’ve had to educate myself about it. Ways to live with and cope with this illness, and how to overcome it.

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So first, What Is Lupus? If you are a new follower and have never heard of it, Lupus is an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks the healthy tissues in your body.

Lupus can cause:

  • Organ damage/failure
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Damage to Joints/Skin/Kidneys/Blood, Heart/Lungs
  • Other illness’ such as Von Willebrands disease (blood clot disorder), Fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s Disease (numbness in fingers and toes), Cardiovascular disease, etc.

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There are 4 different types of Lupus:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE, is the most common form of lupus.
  • Discoid lupus erythematosus causes a skin rash that doesn’t go away.
  • Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus causes skin sores on areas of the body exposed to the sun.
  • Neonatal lupus affects newborns.

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Lupus is known as the silent killer. Why? Because most of the time, you become extremely sick before you know anything is wrong. Most times, there are no warning signs. For me, one day, I didn’t feel well. I gradually became sick over a 3 month period. Until finally, I became so ill, I had to stop working.

Please read my Lupus story When It Rains, It Pours

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Lupus, but fortunately, there are ways you can ease your symptoms.

How can you support a loved one with Lupus?

Annoying things to say to a Lupus warrior?

  • “But you don’t look that sick…” – Looks can be deceiving
  • “Have you tried…” – We love your suggestions, but trust me, we’ve tried everything
  • “…but everybody’s tired.” – I get that, but not everyone is “lupus” tired.
  • “I wish I could spend all day in bed.” – Uhhh, no you don’t!
  • “You’re STILL sick?” – Uh, yea, bish, it’s Lupus.

Now, when my loved ones say these things, I know they are coming from a place of pure and utter love. Also, it is coming from a place of confusion. Honestly, doctors aren’t even able to fully comprehend what Lupus really is and it’s origin. There are so many unknowns, it would be unfair for anyone to “blame” others for not understanding themselves.

So, here are helpful tips on things you can say to a loved one with lupus

  • “I understand you couldn’t make it…” – This helps with the guilt we carry for always missing important events and parties
  • “I’ll be praying for you…” – We sure need it
  • “What can I do to help…” – I’ve found that most Lupus warriors don’t like accepting help. It hurts an already fragile pride, but knowing that you care helps tremendously.
  • “I’m going to educate myself more on the topic.” – Just offering support and understanding will lift our spirits. It’ll help us feel less alone.

Lupus is extremely expensive. All of the medications that I take equal up to about $300 per month. If it is in your heart, please donate Ashley’s GoFundMe Medical Expenses. Thank you all in advance for your prayers and well wishes.

Thank you guys for reading my thoughts. Have a wonderfully blessed day.  And if you see one, hug a Lupus warrior today!

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Funny Friday

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Hello Friends,

So, approximately 3 weeks ago, we added another member to our family. I would like to introduce you to Khaleesi Diva Smeed aka Harry. My husband wanted to name her Khaleesi since we are huge Game of Thrones fans. My daughter noticed that she has a bit of a diva attitude and Christian thinks she is pretty hairy, so we call her Harry. Oh, and Smeed is a combination of my husband, Christian and I last name with Hannah and Rj’s last name. Leesi is around 10 months old and she was rescued from an abusive home. It took her about a week to warm up, but once she did, we found out that she is just as crazy as we are. Needless to say, she fits in really well.

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In celebration of Leesi aka Harry arrival and rescue, I would like to share a funny cat video that my daughter, Hannah, thought was hilarious. Hopefully, you guys will find it funny as well.

Please enjoy the start of your weekend. Remember, you are awesome and I pray for nothing but true happiness and peace for each and every one of you. God Bless!

If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way. -Mark Twain

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/

My 30 Day Fast From Social Media

*Yawn* I wake up, roll over grab my phone to see the time. I then determine how long do I have before I actually have to get out of the bed. If it’s more than 2 minutes, I scream “yes!” in my head because that’s enough time for me to hop on Instagram. Specifically, to check gossip blog pages. I know, I know, I have a weakness for gossip. I’ve been able to bring it to a halt in my personal life by living by one rule, “minding my bizness!” But celebrity gossip is a completely different monster.

0201-beyonce-twins-pregnant-instagram-8.jpgWhen Beyoncé broke the internet by announcing her pregnancy (both times), I religiously checked the gossip blog sites for updates on maternity shoot photos and gender reveals. I was an addict. I found myself getting sucked into her life and drama. When I found out Beyoncé got cheated on, I was angry. When I found out she had a miscarriage, I was devastated. It’s crazy when I think about it because I’m feeling so many raw emotions for a person that I don’t even know! And I wonder why I’m depressed.

Before, I lied to myself about saying deleting Facebook was enough, but my addiction to Instagram has proved otherwise. My husband made a snippy little comment about how much I love Instagram. I have to prove to him (and myself) that he’s wrong. So, I’ve decided to start a social media fast. It actually began at approximately 8pm (CST) this past Wednesday night and I’m jonesing a little bit. I’ve deleted all of my social media apps (except this one ☝🏽☺️) so I won’t be tempted to “check something really quick”. That’s usually how an hour long binge of trying to find out who cheated with who begins. Nah!

gossipNow, usually, when people decide to fast, they abstain from food. In my case, abstaining from food is not a problem since I’m limited to what I can eat. So, I am offering Instagram as my sacrifice because it really is something I enjoy, but it’s bad for my mental health and just simply a waste of time. I could be doing something more conducive to my recovery. I want to be able to use social media for business only. This is what I pray that I will accomplish at the end of my fast.

My faith teaches me that fasting, or “to abstain from” pleasurable things will bring me closer to Christ through prayer(1 Corinthians 7:5) which is what I want to accomplish as well.

fasting-monks-250x179But I believe the idea for fasting should be an open idea for anyone who wants to evolve from depression and anxiety. Maybe, abstaining from some of your desires will give you a sense of control and pride when you accomplish it. Plus, it’ll help you focus on something other than your own thoughts. Making such goals and sticking to them will be awesome for your recovery. It’ll give you pride and self-worth. Most importantly, it will feel grrrrreat! I’m more than positive that taking this step will boost my mood overall and I can’t wait!

Here are the tips that I plan on using to fast:

1. Find something else to do when I get tempted

2. Consider the personal and spiritual consequences if I give into the desire

3. Don’t think about it, pray about it.

If you guys have any tips I can use, please drop a comment below. I would greatly appreciate it. Wish me luck 🤞🏽

“The philosophy of fasting calls upon us to know ourselves, to master ourselves, and to discipline ourselves the better to free ourselves. To fast is to identify our dependencies, and free ourselves from them.” -Tariq Ramadan

Time for A Celebration!

Picture me, sliding across a wooden floor in white tube socks like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, because I just realized I’m at 365 followers!

All of you, each and every one, is awesome sauce for hitting that follow button. You guys are the real MVP’s, seriously. You inspire me everyday with your blog post, likes, comments, award nomination, etc. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

In celebration, I would like to share the wealth. I want each of you guys to know each other. Most of us follow the same blogs, but here is a chance to meet someone knew. I’ve meet remarkable people with different religions, backgrounds, ethnicity, etc. Its been a beautiful experience. I encourage you guys to do the same.

My favorite feature of the WordPress community is we all have at least two things in common; we’re all human and we all have something to say. I love that I can share my thoughts and struggles without being judged for my race or social class. I’m just one person amongst billions trying to make it through life.

I came across a wonderful blog, CharlieCountryBoy and he reblogged a wonderful idea from Dream Big, Dream Often blog that says IF YOU DROP A LINK IN MY COMMENTS, I WILL REPOST YOUR BLOG! And I want to participate.

So, I want to you to drop a link of your blog in the comments below. I will reblog it on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I will also try to remember to reblog this for any new followers.

Let’s all help each other. Drop the link below to get a little exposure. We’re all here for a reason, right?

Stay blessed loved ones! And thanks again!

When It Rains, It Pours

The past few days have been really difficult for me. Lupus is a cruel mystery. My days have been filled with doctors appointments and uncertainties. It’s discomforting to hear your health care provider say, “With Lupus, it can be anything.”

I’ve been experiencing severe chest pains. Coming from a healthcare background, I know that chest pain is something that you cannot dismiss. I called my Rheumatologist (Lupus doctor) about my symptoms. I waited one whole day to hear her nurse tell me that I need to go the emergency room. I’ve called this lady before about other symptoms and her answer is always, “go the emergency room.” I hate the emergency room. They charge you an arm and a leg to give me a prescription for Prednisone (which my rheumatologist could have done) and send me back home. The E.R. has been my home away from home for the past year and a half. So, I skipped the emergency room and went straight to my local urgent care. I figured they could do the same tests for a lower cost and less invasive procedures. I was quickly met with disappointment when they told me that my EKG is abnormal and that I need to do to the emergency room, anyway. I head to the emergency room only to be greeted by 40 people who are currently dealing with the flu epidemic and was told that my wait would be three hours or longer since there were only two doctors on staff. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

Lupus is a cruel mystery because there is something wrong, but no one can tell me what it is. I continue to give away our hard earned funds to big pharma, hospitals, and private doctors offices without a guarantee that the medication would even help with my symptoms. Daily symptoms include:

  • Memory Loss/Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness is fingers and toes. They also turn white
  • Fatigue and unexplained fevers
  • Unexplained rashes
  • Unexplained hair loss (which isn’t that bad since I can convince my husband to buy me stylish bonnets and wigs)
  • Nausea/vomiting, unexplained abdominal pain
  • Hours of phone conversations with doctors and hospitals that eventually lead to questions and concerns being unanswered
  • Extreme muscle/joint pain and inflammation
  • Depression (but I kind of had this before my Lupus diagnosis, so I can blame Lupus? I will anyway)
  • Unexplained weight loss (I weighed 185 pounds in October 2016. Now I am currently 104 pounds)
  • NO eating chocolate (this is the cake topper, here)

My days and nights have been filled with thousands of tears streaming from my eyes. Worry has been plaguing me every minute of every day. What is wrong? How can we fix this? How can I become healthy again?

There are so many blogs, Instagram pages, and ads all telling me how to live a healthier life. The only thing that all of these resources have in common is their solutions cost money. If you ask my wallet, “what is money?”, it’ll ask you back, “what is money?” True story.

I thought about starting a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical expenses, but the thought of asking for money from strangers is uncomfortable for me. I feel like everyone is working hard for their money. Who am I to ask for it? Even if it is for a good cause. I want to believe that God will provide for me and my needs. I’m just so frustrated, sad, and angry. Frustrated because I’m dealing with an illness that healthcare professionals have no idea what it is. Sad because I feel like I’m letting down my family. Angry because I just want answers. I want to be better. I want to become the person that I was meant to be.

If you are a prayer warrior, please pray for me. Pray that God reveals his plans for me. Pray that I will be released from the prison of chronic illness and mental hell.

I came across this scripture that helped the tears stop flowing for a moment. That short time was a blessing because I don’t want to cry anymore. It gives me great comfort to know that my Lord is willing to take my burdens. I know I just have to be patient.

“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30

Blogging With Depression

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Since I could remember, writing has always been a liberating experience for me. It has gotten me away from the harsh realities of my current situation. Growing up wasn’t easy, but I see now that those experiences are guiding me to where I am supposed to be and who I am supposed to be. Without the joys of writing, I wouldn’t have made it out alive. As a small child without a voice, I was able to use my ability to transform characters into letters, letters into words, words into feelings, to give me the chance to dance, sing, and dream.

Depression has the ability to take away what you love the most. Its desire to feed on your negative energy is insatiable. I will admit for a long time, I allowed depression to convince me that writing was something I wasn’t good at and that it wasn’t a goal that I should pursue. So, I stopped. I would wake up every day feeling like I was missing a part of me. After a while, I stopped noticing.

Eventually, I couldn’t deny my love for writing anymore. That’s why, when I was at my lowest and weakest, I started to blog. It has been a long process. Back then, I was posting maybe once a week. Sometimes, a few weeks would go by before I posted again. Most instances, it would take me up to three days to write out one post, but I chose to push forward and continue to write. Now, I am able to share with you guys three times a week, consistently. Truthfully, I’m really proud of myself. I set goals and I’m meeting them. You guys have been really supportive and wonderful. I’ve met beautiful souls on here and I look forward to meeting many more.

So I want to share with you tips on how to get through blogging while living with depression:

  1. Set small goals: Set goals that won’t make you feel overwhelmed if you don’t accomplish them. Set realistic goals that are attainable. Once you are consistent with those goals, then add another one.
  2. Slowly increase your goals: Add one goal at a time. For me, I wanted things to get better right away, but I had to be patient. I would feel so overwhelmed and stressed. We have to build ourselves up to it. Small steps always lead to bigger steps.
  3. If you feel overwhelmed, take a step back: It’s ok to take a step back. It doesn’t mean you are giving up, it just means you need a break.
  4. Don’t beat yourself up: If you don’t meet a goal, don’t beat yourself up. If you don’t get any comments or likes, don’t beat yourself up. Blogging is a form of expression. I noticed, most bloggers are blogging more so for themselves than their readers. I am. Here we can have a voice. Whether one person reads it or one hundred, you’re voice will forever ring throughout the universe.
  5. Do not compare yourself to other bloggers: This will stress you out. Seriously, depression will convince you that other people are better than you, but it’s not true. Everyone has their own journey that they are on. You are on yours. I truly believe that everyone serves a purpose. There is so much information and diversity at our fingertips. I feel like I am supposed to blog about my life. Others may feel they are called to blog about recipes or traveling. So, you should blog about whatever is in your heart and let the universe take care of the rest.
  6. Know your limits and your triggers: *Deep sigh* This one is a stuff one for me. I recently came across a blog post that basically said that women who dress provocatively are asking to be raped. This was a instant trigger for me as a strongly disagree with this statement. As a woman, I felt it was my responsibility to disagree with him, in a respectful manner of course and then I unfollowed him. Its kind of funny because he later asked me and another fellow blogger to unfollow him because she agreed with my comment. Anyway, because his blog was a trigger for me, so I chose to unfollow. He has a great blog and I wish him the best.
  7. Write from your heart: I like to say, “write down whatever is on your mental.” Meaning, blog about whatever you are thinking about. If you can’t think of anything, blog about how you feel, what you read that day, what you watched online, the strange neighbor, just write! It’ll kick depression slowly down the drain each time you express yourself. It’ll help defeat the darkness and deception.

It can be difficult but remember it’s not impossible. Each step we take is a step worth celebrating.

Remember, you are loved. You are beautiful. You are wonderfully made.

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” ~John Wooden

 

Please Forgive Me

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Forgiving those that have hurt you can be difficult, but asking for forgiveness from someone that you have hurt can be even more challenging. Growing up in a large family, we didn’t apologize to each other that much. We were taught, unconsciously, that if you have wronged someone, you would go a short amount of time without talking to that person and then out of the blue, pick up the relationship where it left off. For instance, I would hear my mom and my aunt get into big fights over the phone. They would go a short amount of time without speaking, but when they eventually did, it was as if the argument never occurred. They would continue life as normal until the next disagreement. This eventually lead to a lot of resentment within our family.

If we got into a fight with someone we couldn’t avoid, like one of our siblings, we would carry on with life like nothing happened. We never apologized, nor spoke about what made us angry. If we tried, most of the time that person would become angry and defensive. Personally, this caused me to close up completely and not share my feelings with anyone, friends or family members. It wasn’t until later in life, after a few failed friendships and intimate relationships, I learned what it means to truly apologize to someone and mean it.

Some people like to think that simply saying I’m sorry is good enough, but sometimes it is not. Sometimes, the pain is so deep and so hurtful that simply saying “I’m sorry” will not fix the damage that has been done. I would like to share with you lessons that I have learned along that way. Please feel free to comment on ways that you have learned to ask for forgiveness. Let’s get to it.

Rules to Asking for Forgiveness

 

Be Patient

When you apologize, do not expect that person to forgive you right away. It may take time for them to move on from whatever you did to hurt them. They may forgive you right away or decide to never forgive you. It’s their choice to decide how they would like to move forward. Everyone heals in their own time. You rushing them to forgive you will only make things worse.

Respect how they feel

You may not like it, but you have to respect it. If you did something hurtful and you don’t understand why they are hurt, try to have a calm conversation with that person. Try to see it from their perspective. If you are still unable to understand why they are upset, respect their feelings. Do not put them down or call them stupid. Everyone is entitled to their feelings.

Explain what you did WITHOUT excuses

This may be hard for a lot of us. When we apologize, we tend to say, “I’m sorry, but…”. When someone is hurting, the last thing they want to hear is excuses. Hearing the reason why you hurt them doesn’t really matter. We are all tempted to justify our wrongdoings, but if you apologize without excuses, that person would be more willing to forgive you. They would feel like you are taking responsibility for your actions, thus learning your lesson.

Acceptance

Accepting the consequences of your actions is hard because, in our fast-paced society, we have been programmed to want results right away; drive-thrus, text message delivery notification, internet access, etc. Plus, not that many people like to admit when they are wrong. I used to have a huge problem with it. Sorry, I digress. We are so used to having instant results, but forgiveness doesn’t work that way. If a person doesn’t forgive you right away, accept it. Move forward. If the relationship can be salvaged, try to save it with love and compassion. If it cannot, move on. Accept that what you’ve done cannot be forgiven at the moment. Do not force them. Do not try to guilt them. All that will do is push them away further.

Throw Away Expectations

Do not go into an apology expecting anything. The person that you are apologizing to may not react the way you want or they may react the total opposite. If even they have wronged you as well, do not expect an apology. Expectations will only cause more problems and possibly another incident. If you are apologizing from the heart, then it shouldn’t matter how they react. Expect little, but hope for the best.

Show that you have changed

Everyone loves to see progress. Don’t apologize for something just to go back and do it again. If you’ve hurt someone, apologize, and then hurt them again, you would be a liar. You would lose their trust. Trust is complicated because it can take seconds to lose and years to gain back. Show that person that you really are sorry by not doing whatever it is you did to hurt them in the first place.

Remember, you are not a bad person

I always say, there are two types of people; good people who do bad things and bad people who do bad things. The majority of people who make mistakes are good people who just simply made a mistake. Don’t beat yourself up because you are only human. If you hurt someone, know that you are not a bad person. You a person who just made a mistake. If the person doesn’t forgive you, that does not measure your value as a person. It just simply means that they are so hurt at the moment, they are unable to see the bigger picture.

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Forgiving and asking for forgiveness is draining for both people, but very necessary. Forgiveness has known to lower blood pressure, lower stress hormones, and strengthen the immune system. I believe that forgiveness is vital is to leading a happy, healthy life, but it is a choice. Forgiveness is a privilege, not a right. You are more likely to be forgiven if you’ve likable and understanding afterward.

Remember, you are loved. You are wonderful. You are beautifully made. I hope your day is as beautiful as you are. Stay blessed.

 

Never forget the nine most important words of any family: I love you. You are beautiful. Please forgive me. -H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Author

Turning Tragedy Into Triumph: How To Live Your Best Life Amid Turmoil

Turning Tragedy Into Triumph: How To Live Your Best Life Amid Turmoil

It’s 1pm and my house is completely quiet right now, which is unusual since the kids are on Christmas break. They are sound asleep because we allowed them to stay up until 5 o’clock this morning  (a luxury only given during prolonged school breaks). Even our pet Guinea pig, Sasha, is quietly nestled under her pink, plastic hut. Meanwhile, I’m comfortably sitting on my sofa enjoying the sweet smell of pomegranate oil and the soothing, soft glow from my candles. 

The reason for this rare, joyous occasion is our internet is down due to the extreme cold in my area. I am literally forced to become disconnected from the world. I am left to come up with other ways to entertain myself or keep myself busy. I now realize how dependent I’ve become on the internet. It makes me feel happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I’ve been able to get back to doing things I used to love, like handwriting this blog post or reading a paperback book. It forgot the wonderful scent of stale paper from a paperback book, especially a classic. Sad feeling because I am a little ashamed of how I’ve allowed the world to influence so much of my life. It would explain a lot actually.

This time of reflection has gifted me with the ability to share with you guys ways we can turn our tragedies into triumphs. I’ve discussed before ways that you can look at the bright side of any situation, but this is more specific. I used to ask myself, when will this all end? When will the suffering stop? I’ve come to the conclusion that it will never stop. There will always be pain. There will always be suffering. The only action that you can control is how you react to unfortunate circumstances that may occur in your life.

I figure the best way to live your best life during tragedies is to turn them into triumphs. Imagine dancing in the rain during the worst storm of your life. This is turning tragedy into triumph and here is how you can.

  • Embrace Your Journey: Sometimes, the things we want to hurt the most. When going through a traumatic moment in life, we tend to feel sorry for ourselves. It’s normal. Our brains are just trying to make sense of it all, but you have to know that your journey is NOT your destination. Example: Let’s say you have a goal of climbing Mount Everest. There is so much training and preparation that one would have to achieve in order to make it to the top; condition training, physical and mental training, planning the route, knowing the terrain and weather condition, etc. It is a lot of hard work. A mountain climber wouldn’t complain about the journey he/she has to take to make it. They just do it. They know that once they make it to the top and look down at the world, the journey was well worth it.
  • Acknowledge that what you are going through will not last forever: Everyday that we wake up, we have a choice to fight depression, anxiety, heartache, loss, illness, etc. Making that choice will lead you to your desired destination. I’m sure we’ve all heard that saying, “The best part about hitting rock bottom is the only destination from there is up.”
  • Look forward to the future: Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING last forever (well maybe McDonald’s french fries and roaches). What you are going through will not last forever. Imagine how it’s going to feel when you finally reach the top of your mountain. I’ve learned to always look up at my destination and NEVER look down at my past. Looking up only gives you the motivation to continue the climb to the top.
  • It is ok to NOT understand: There are things you may not understand about your journey until you have endured it, suffered through it, cried through it, made mistakes in it, had setbacks in it, almost collapse in it, almost ran from it, etc. Experience has a way of making us stronger and more resilient. So, if ever you were to experience tragedy again, you are better equipped to deal with it. If you are reading this, you are stronger than you were yesterday. You chose to get up and do something. I’m proud of you!
  • Tribulation will teach you patience: The worse part of my journey is being patient. I know great things are ahead. I know that my circumstances will get better, but I am the kind of person that has always lacked patience. This journey is teaching me that all great things come to those who are patient enough to push through. I like to read inspirational stories about people who never gave up because if they can be strong, then I know I can as well.
  • Embrace your experiences: Experiences are important because the experience will give you hope and if you have hope, you have access to the universe. There will be times when you feel like you will never move past your circumstances, but if you continue on your journey and don’t give up, it will get better. Your circumstances will change. When you have experience, you will no longer endure being drug into moments of hopelessness and despair. You’ll know through experience that God has your back and will bring you out of it, as He has done so many times before.
  • Acknowledge the darkness only to conquer it: There is a darkness lingering around humanity. Negative energy is so powerful because it is easy to give into our dark desires; drugs, alcohol, hate, fear, anxiety. If we acknowledge the presence of negative energy, then we are able to fight it, not sit in it. Example: If you are aware that you have diabetes and still choose to eat sweets, then you are giving in to the desire of the disease, hence becoming sick. If you are aware that you have diabetes and you choose to eat right and take the proper medications, then you will feel better.
  • Stand strong in the fire: The fighting process gives you the drive and commitment to stand the pressure. The most dangerous thing is achieving a goal that you didn’t deserve because the process prepares us for the power that you need to stand your ground and never let it go. When you fight for what you want, you won’t let anyone take it from you.
  • Believe in Gods promise for you: Your enemies want you to be stuck in a situation that is beneath the promise God has in store for you. Your enemies do not want you to succeed, but God’s greatest presence is when all hell is breaking loose. I am living breathing walking proof of this fact. Click the link to read how God appeared to me while I was having thoughts of suicide and self-loathing here, Letting Go, Letting God. God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. He also promises that we will live eternally through Jesus’ name. That all of our worries will be accounted for and dismissed. Believe that your life is not meant to stay in turmoil, but yet it’s meant for all things great and wonderful. “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” -Psalm 62:8

Tragedies are hard to get through, especially when the “light at the end of the tunnel” seems so far away. No matter what anyone says, you can turn your tragedies into spectacular wonders and blunders to tell future generations. Allow your journey to be a life lesson for yourself and for other people. Remember, great warriors always have the best stories to tell.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”-Albert Camus

 

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

I Want To Twirl, Dam**t!

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As people, we have the tendency to take our lives for granted. The heartache that we go through numbs our ability to live in the now. This past week, my husband and I chose to watch Valerian and The City Of A Thousand Planets. It’s a movie about a planet full of intelligent beings viciously wiped out by a galactic war that they had nothing to do with. The opening scene of the movie was with this beautiful blue girl twirling out of her seashell home only to walk out onto a white, sandy beach with a wonderful view of a clear blue sky and a gorgeous blue, clear ocean. She looked so peaceful, so serene. You could tell that she didn’t have a care in the world. I immediately thought to myself, I want to twirl dammit. I wish I was able to walk outside every day with a positive attitude, skipping along to the birds singing, twirling around soaking up the sun. I’m not being facetious. I want to have a natural high from life that only each breath can provide.

Then I realized that I can.

When you walk outside to face the day, you and only you determine what kind of day you’re going to have. Once your foot crosses the threshold, you can choose to handle your circumstances or allow your circumstances to handle you.

I wake up every day knowing that unfortunate circumstances are going to happen. Who I am will determine how I deal with what is going to happen. I don’t want to be a coward and hide from them. If millions of people can do this, then I can too.

Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that a life of misery was my destiny. The heartache and anger of my past and present is a permanent part of my existence, like depression. I’ve allowed Lupus to trick me into believing that my spirit is doomed. Honestly, the person that I’ve become and the thoughts that I continue to have is a person that is foreign to me. Up until now, I’ve never had to put so much effort into getting through the day. It’s discouraging.

So, I chose to face the day with dignity. I chose to face the day with the armor that God has provided for me. I chose not to sink into a dark place that only feeds my inner demon.

I chose to live life.

“On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted.” –Ecclesiastes 7:14