How I Lost 30lbs Accidently: Misconceptions and Inspirations

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates

The perception of my body image and weight has been a struggle all my life. I was never a “skin and bones” kid and that alone made me feel fat. When I transitioned to High school (which came with its own battles,) I began to eat out of boredom. We’ve all been there. Nothing wrong with a little snack once in a while – but I found myself eating to stay focused. I grew more insecure and reserved (certainly not the real Ashley!)

My weight loss journey really started with my mom. She took action and decided to ditch the diets and hit the gym. My mother will always be an inspiration to me in how she sets her mind on a mission and doesn’t get side tracked until it’s accomplished. Wow. (Read her short testimony, here! It’s inspirational.)

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My mom and I on May 10, 2015

When the reality sunk in that my mom was about to me smaller than me (and more in shape!) I said, “Heck no!” The summer of my sophomore year in High school I went to the gym every day and in 9 months went from a size 14 to a size 6. I had never felt better.

But school started back up and as my schedule filled, staying fit became less of a priority.. (Tune in on Wednesday to see how I’ve arrived to where I am now!)

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Forgive and Let Go.

Challenge & Revelation, Uncategorized

This morning as I was driving home from church a thought occurred to me.

There will always be drama around you, it’s your reaction that determines the outcome.”

In high school (you know, a few months ago) I always bragged that I didn’t have any drama. I later realized it was because I made the decision I didn’t have time for it. When a situation arose where people were taking sides, I avoided it. Now, I see things a little differently.

Drama populates every circle. You make the choice to either side with whomever you’re talking to or find out the real story. Let’s be honest, most of the time the first version of the story you hear, isn’t the real one. So what do you do when a friend comes to you crying and hurt, spouting out how this person lied to them and destroyed their dreams?

Listen.

A true friend listens when support is needed. You don’t have to side with this person (even though, some may take your head nod as an agreement..) People need to be heard out, get the garbage out of their head that keeps harassing them. Others say what they need to say, but continue to circle one thought like a vulture with it’s intended prey.

The key is to focus on what they’re saying, comfort them, and help them rise above it. Drama can cloud a mind and often leaves people disoriented and confused. It can act like tear gas, dropping you to your knees in surprise, sinking with you to the floor. The tear gas blurs your vision and can cause disorientation, confusion, and sometimes panic. When exposed to tear gas, the best thing to do is stay calm and not rub it in.

What does this have anything to do with drama? When you’re offended, what is your immediate response? Do you respond in anger or do you keep calm? It may sound simple but take a deep breath. It’s harder to remember this than you think. The last thing you want to do when dealing with a stressful situation is to dwell on it. Constantly turning over the situation won’t fix anything, and dwelling on your hurt or anger will only make the circumstances worse.

You don’t have to be apart of it. Feed the peace, not the strife. 

Some friends will look to you as their voice of reason. Some may need you to stand taller than the attack and pull them up. Our words were meant to uplift and never condemn. There is a difference between having an opinion and accusing. Watch your tone, and be careful in your phrasing with words. When someone is already surrounded by drama, they can easily become offended.

With that said, don’t tread so lightly that you become an enabler. Allowing people to see the reality is never easy and there may not always be a right moment. Pray about it. Say what you have in your mind first, think it through, don’t let your tongue flap in the wind. Self-reserve can be the most modest and respected attribute of a person.

Okay, those are my thoughts for the week/day/whatever. You know 🙂 Have a great week, guys!

Trust. Faith. Destiny.

Challenge & Revelation

This wasn’t the really the first idea I thought I’d write about for my first blog post. It’s supposed to be quirky, fun. But, these are my thoughts, too. I hope you’ll continue to read my feelings, convictions, and adventures. There will be plenty of those I’m sure. Let me tell you where my story has been taking me lately.

Most kids “know” what they want to do when they grow up. Heck, I thought I was going to be a worship leader when I was 16. Toured colleges for it. I loved the classes, the teachers. But it was missing something.

A tech department.

No photography courses? I turned my back on that college and continued to pursue God’s bigger plan for my life.

As months passed, my passion for photography grew. I was given a Nikon D3000 for Christmas and little Ms. Amateur was born. That camera was glued to my hip. A few months later, I began doing little “shoots” with my friends, learning more about camera angles and techniques. Summer rolled along and my church deemed me the event photographer. At 17, that was a HUGE honor! I interned with the tech guys during that summer as well, constantly expanding my knowledge of lighting, camera settings, and post editing.

By the time October came and passed, I had a few professional shoots already on my belt for families and seniors. I was in my element and blossoming. Not to say that I didn’t get discouraged. Believe me, there were times I was discouraged if I could really take this to another level. What if I was always going to be the amateur with a nice camera? I certainly didn’t want to be the kid who delivered overpriced point-and-shoot prints. So I pushed myself to continually grow, I was where I needed to be and that was all that mattered.

The drastic difference from where I was when I first had my camera to now is amazing.

April 2011Image

June 2011

ImageImageCompared to my latest shots of June/July 2012

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Hard to believe just a little over a year has passed. I love what I get to do. The hard work, time, and money I put into this is well worth my while. And I’m excited to see where God takes this. I’m striving to be the best I can be. His favor surrounds me.

As of the past year, my heart has been calling me to Africa. An organization, Impact Africa , visited my church and I was drawn to their year long internship program. As a kid, I was intimidated by missions. You hear so many horror stories, you never want that to be yourself or someone you know in such scary situations. That’s where God changed my heart. Those that are meant to stay and minister to the people here, in America, that’s okay. Because it’s their calling. I feel a pull in my heart to travel and minister, capture the realities that many Americans don’t even know about today. Even I know that I’m not completely aware of all that is surrounding me.

As of May this year the opportunity was presented to me to go on a missions trip for several weeks with the same ministry I had felt a pull towards before. A family friend from the church we attend is heading up the trip and is aware of my passion for photography. Not only do I get to go to Africa, I get to take pictures, too! What a blessing. God has shown himself in every way. You see, fundraising for the trip had started before I graduated. I decided that if I was supposed to go, it would still be possible to raise funds after I graduated.

As I sent letters out and deadlines passed, a fraction of the payments needed came in. A big deadline was approaching before I left for a week long vacation and if I didn’t make this payment they wouldn’t be able to hold my seat on the plane for South Africa. A day before we left, the several hundred dollars I needed to make the payment was sent to the church offices in my name. If that isn’t the hand of God, TELL me what isn’t!!

Trusting God was always a hard thing for me. Completely handing something over to Him and saying, “I’m not going to worry about this anymore. I’m resting it at your feet, standing in faith, and speaking those finances in. But I won’t waste my time worrying about it.” is a VERY hard thing to do. But why do we make something so simple as refusing to worry, so complicated? I didn’t fully grasp trusting Him until just recently. Honestly, I don’t think I completely understood until my dad sat me down and began to tell me how much he cared for me and wanted to provide for me in the future. Teenagers, much less, adults, don’t seem to fully grasp how much their parents care about them until they’re gone.

If the God who created the whole world, couldn’t handle or solve our problems, wouldn’t we know already? Try it out. Turn something over to Him and when it crosses your mind, pray about it. Thank Him for giving you wisdom and favor in the situation.

Those are my thoughts for the day/week/whatever.