Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#Ashleys31RAOK recap

Saturday was my birthday (singing ensues...)

Several weeks ago, I had what has turned into quite the awesome idea.

I created a Facebook event, so it would be legit.

I created a #hashtag. Because of my ongoing adoration of all things #hashtag

I invited every.single.friend on Facebook....despite how annoying that may have been.

And I asked them only one thing.

Because you have all been so blessed by my presence on this Earth I kid, I kid

Celebrate my birthday by joining my mission to spread kindness. Do one...or as many as you want... random act of kindness RAOK on March 22.

And do you want to know what happened?

HUNDREDS of Random  Completely Intentional Acts of Kindness

People looking for opportunities to spread love and joy and kindness. Small things. Big things. Anonymous things. Face-to-face things.

And I was overwhelmed.

I mean. Seriously. Overwhelmed.

A small coalition. All over the country. Just being kind to one another.

We could really be on to something!!!

My personal goal was 31 different random completely intentional acts of kindness for my 31st birthday. One friend argued that if I counted based on the number of "touches", then probably the number was much higher...But nevertheless, my goal was 31 different acts of kindness!!

It was exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. We were eyes peeled everywhere we went looking for any additional opportunity to spread love.

It was so perfect. I can't recommend any better way to spend your birthday!

And when you get your village involved?

What you find is that they are creative and boldly generous people...paying for groceries and meals for large families...giving flowers out at random, only to find that that person had just experienced great loss...seeing true gratitude at small gestures like bus tickets and a bottle of water...loving on each other...strangers...friends...neighbors. These are the world-changers.

It's a magical feeling.

Thank you to my friends, family, new friends, and strangers who all joined with me to show kindness on March 22nd. You have given me the most awesome birthday ever...so add that to your acts of kindness list!!

Here is the list of what my family ventured out to accomplish--along with several pictures (reader beware)
And we're off!
Thank you cards for military

Cards for hospitalized children
Coffee gift card for security officer
Money taped to vending machine
Gift for mailman
Coffee/breakfast for homeless
Donation to local mission
Change on the meters
Stuffed animals for traumatized kids
Cookies for police officers
Change at Laundromat

      Large tip and inspirational note for waitress
      Donation to adoptive family garage sale fundraiser
      Change hidden on playground
Quarters in gumball machines
Popcorn/$1 taped to Redbox
Bus passes given to people waiting at Bus stops
      Moved wayward carts to store

       Donation to Ronald McDonald House
Inspiration notes left in books
$1 left in children’s books
Donated $5 to boy scouts raising $ for camp
Flowers and notes on random cars
Notes of encouragement and prayer left on cars at the hospital
Gift basket left in surgery waiting room at hospital
Paid for the meal for the car behind us in the drive-thru

      Held the door open for people all day, whenever the chance was there
      GS cookies hidden at Library
      Left "You are beautiful" notes on mirrors in various bathroom locations
      Loaded groceries for elderly shoppers and returned carts for them  
        Made dog beds out of old pillows and donated to SPCA

   And this thing just keeps spreading! Love, kindness, generosity. These are the things worth making a stand for.  Thank you to everyone who made a stand for kindness this week!

In completely unrelated news.  I got bangs.

My short arms keep me from being able to jump on the "selfie" bandwagon.
You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Open Letter to Teenage Girls: Just Hang On.

Dear Beautiful, Strong, Confident Young Women (you might not believe it...but it's who you are),

I know it may seem like I couldn't possibly understand...try to bear with me. It wasn't that long ago that I walked those same hallways. Only yesterday that I was dealing with so many of the horrific painful struggles that you are dealing with today.

And I can't help but think it's not fair...

Not fair that every bad choice you make in this season of finding yourself?  is potentially broadcast to the world.

Not fair that society has opened up entire new worlds of vulnerability and destructive opportunities.

Not fair that-- as you're blossoming into adults and traversing all that this season requires of you-- you're also required to think about how every decision you make today might affect your life in 15 years...

But listen.

Life has ALWAYS been that way. I am sure if our mothers could have blogged, they would have blogged their bewilderness over our feather pens, knee-high socks and mary-janes...Our music and dance styles....
Please don't ask. You don't want to know.

So when I ask to trust me that this season is fleeting? Well, that's nothing new.

Which is why that's not what I'm going to do.

Instead? I'm going to tell you a story.

This is a story about a girl who walked through some hard stuff. Humiliating stuff. Painful stuff. Vulnerable stuff.

The stuff of private letters being passed through the halls. The stuff of inadequacy. The hurts of not being wanted...Oh, how we just want to be wanted...

This is a girl who lived in a small pond... in a house made of glass. Where nothing was hidden and no-one was safe. 

This girl who felt like she was trapped in a room with all her imperfections and mistakes and shortcomings screaming at her from the walls closing in around her.

This girl who wanted what she thought everyone else had. Perfection.

This girl...who thought that this was her story. That if she couldn't succeed here? She'd never succeed anywhere.

But this girl, with all this insecurity? Came out of the forest that is High School and found herself stronger, wiser, confident, and sure of the person she wanted to be...

And at the end of the day, that is what you're doing.

You're deciding each day what kind of human being you are going to choose to be in this life.

How are you going to treat other human beings?

What is going to be important to you?

Who are you going to be?

And what legacy are you going to leave?

It may feel impossible to find your way in the dark place that High School can be....

But remember....this is a shadow... a small shadow of a small tree in a small forest that feels immense today.

Because the life you are intended to live will put all those insecurities on a back shelf of memories that made you stronger.

Because the person you have the chance to be is brave and  courageous and would never allow another person to determine how you feel or what you accomplish.

Because, God isn't looking at your circumstances...At this season of your life, thinking to himself.
"Oh no, I picked the wrong girl"

Who's to say that this very thing isn't the propeller that pushes you into the next great season of you life? Who's to say that your most beautiful thing isn't right around the next corner...if you can only hold on.

So here I am, a gangly and homely 14 year old girl who desperately wanted acceptance...begging you to hang on. 

Hang on for dear life.

And discover yours along the way.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Path

You see...

When you say "Yes" to God. It doesn't always end up the way you thought it would.

We learned that lesson the only way one truly learns it-- the hard way-- years ago.

And after that season had passed and we could see the whole piece of our lives mural that God was working on? 

Those rough brush strokes and black paint made sense.  

But this truth remains... That refining fire?

Is still going to burn.

So in the last 18 months as we journeyed with faith and frustration and worry and doubt and longing and love, we've guarded our hearts.

But we continued to say Yes.

We waited for God to do whatever He had in mind to do.

And we were still.

It was painful. And hard. And frustrating. And I wanted more control. Any control

But we remained. 


So when the call came this time.... the one that we always were sort of waiting on.

It simply confirmed our initial suspicions. The thoughts that had lingered as we walked out the last 18 months.

We had been called to be advocates. To pray and love from afar. And to fight for her story. her truth. Her best plan.

We had not been called to be her family.


But there it remains.

That desire. That love. That longing.

We ARE someone's family.

This desire in our hearts for a home filled with laughter and noise and brothers and sisters growing up together.

That gnawing in our souls that the need is still great. And while this path isn't for everyone, we are confident it is for us.

The passion for children to be tucked in at night, kissed and hugged, loved with the love that only a family can give.

These things?  did not come from the natural order of life.

They came from the refining fire.

So while we can barely see the next step in front of us.

We are confident we're still on the right path.

“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”-Isaiah 48:17