West Virginia Mountain Mama…

Today at Loflin’s…I began longing for adventure. It’s not hard to imagine considering that Loflin’s is the prime spot for the elderly of our little town. I was with my amazing friend Beth and I knew that she would be up for it. After debating for quite a while about what to do (it’s a good thing I wasn’t being too adventurous or we might have ended up in the ghetto with a fog horn…) we ended up driving to hanging rock.

We hiked down to one of the falls, almost froze under the water, I got to hear Beth scream several times, and then she got me lost in the woods where I said things that would probably not make Mama proud.

I should mention that the majority of our trip consisted of listening to John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. Oh and I can’t forget Beth BELTING “Goodbye Earl” when I was on the verge of death from exhaustion.

Enjoy this picture of us. We decided we look much better from 40 feet away…behind a waterfall. 😉

Memorable quotes from the day:
Me: “Why did you name your GPS Martha?”
Beth: “People named Martha just pull that kind of crap!”

“Did I just run over a human lobster whale?”

Beth: “I’m afraid to turn right on red in front of cops?”
Me: “Why?”
Beth: “Haven’t you read any Nancy Drew Novels?”
Me: “What does that have to do with anything!?”
Beth: “It’s late.. oh, well..it’s 9:30!”

“You just gotta keep on walkin’ Sweetheart”

Me: “I used to hate it that my parents didn’t make us do outdoor stuff like hiking…now I realize…they’re good people!”

Allergic reactions and current reads…

I am alive, I promise.

I know it’s been a while and I truly apologize. I’ve just run out of things to talk about. Life is moving and yes, there is a lot going on, but nothing that seems blog worthy. I hope that changes in the near future.

In other news, I almost updated the other night, but I discovered something.

I have pollen-food allergy syndrome

Who knew there was a such thing? I did not. I knew my allergies were bad . I knew pollen had been high, but I had no idea what was in store.

I went grocery shopping the other day and chose to buy fruit. I bought pre-sliced watermelon/honey-dew/cantaloupe combo. That night, I got home and decided to dig in. I had no idea that apparently if you’re allergic to ragweed pollen (and apparently I am) that there can be some kind of cross-reaction that has to do with …bananas, watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe. It explains why I break out sometimes when eating bananas and it produces an explanation for why the other night I broke out in a horrible rash, since I ate 3 out of 4 of those…..NOT pretty.

I’m in a very reflective mood today. I just finished a book last night and it took me into deep contemplation mode. The book was “Beneath the Night Tree” by Nicole Baart. Her books are incredible…this series was incredible. I started it in 2007 and it has become a permanent part of my heart and had a huge affect on some crucial years of my life. The book I just finished was the final installment and for me it felt like the end of an era. Those books are some of my favorites because they are realistic, they are laced with truth and honesty that is a rare find in fiction these days. Although the first book, “After the Leaves Fall” left me weeping, it planted something in me that I would draw from in many days to come. I am sad to see the story end, but I am happy with the way it ended.

Now that I’m done rambling about that I will say good night. When something entertaining occurs in my life then I will return to share.

Until then, hope you are well!

-Ashlin

This weekend.

Webster himself could not find words to describe this weekend & all that happened.

My sister graduated…

I learned a lot…

I heard a ton of truth that was probably long overdue…

I was given the opportunity to make some choices…

I still haven’t made some of them…

Awkward times were had…

Funny times soon followed…

We walked in a torrential downpour in Asheville and got SOAKED…

Jordan and I did a small hike and got pretty muddy…

Life was lived and in a short weekend I was given more than I know to say…

Congrats Jords! I love you!

He cannot deny who He is.

I had a melt down this week. I’m talking an all out, water works included, melt down. I was having one of those, “i’m just not spiritual today” days and just let it all fall out.

Then, as always, events inevitably followed that made me realize what a complete idiot I am. God began to not only speak and tell me the coolest thing, ever… he confirmed what I needed to hear most and he started providing in ways beyond my wildest dreams. Needless to say, I felt really ridiculous for breaking down earlier in the week.

I think there’s something to that though. I think God is teaching me so much about grace during this season. It’s okay to not always have together, to not always have a huge amount of faith.. he’s teaching me truth behind 2 Timothy 2:13.

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”

I’ve quoted it a million times, but over the past two days I have seen it come to life. Last night held so much breakthrough for me. While I’d considered not even attending a certain event, somehow, God got me there and in spite of my own issues and fleshly problems, he spoke. It wasn’t a huge fire, or a huge wind… but, of course, it was that gentle and quiet whisper, the one I have grown to love so much over these past few months.

I always wait and want the earthquake or the fire, but sometimes when those things occur, I forget them quickly, but there’s something about the whisper that buries itself down inside of me and even if I try, I cannot lose the grip it has on me.

After encountering a huge amount of INTERNAL breakthrough, I came home to a gift of external breakthrough. It meant so much more to me after what I’d just experienced. It was the cherry atop the sundae. It was God in his goodness and I was able to feel and perceive his love and provision in a way I never had before.

I write this to encourage you that breakthrough will come. It is often not in the manner in which you expect, but one that is far better. It is often times that the internal breakthrough occurs before the outer. Trust him. Although you’ve heard it a million times, take this as a million and one… He is good.

Bazaar First Impressions.

The past week has held the most bazaar first impressions for me. I think it’s important to consider the first words you say to someone, they could make or break how that person views you.

The first is the least bazaar. A guy, walking across campus proceeds to yell at me “why aren’t you waving at me?” Apparently it’s completely unheard of not to wave to someone you’ve never met. Can’t imagine what my facial expression was.

Then, there was the sweet, precious lady who stood in front of me for five minutes saying. “oh my goodness, you are just the cutest thing. Oh, is she not the most adorable thing? She is! She is!” Obviously, this one was my favorite… I wanted to go home with her and live with such encouragement forever.

Ah, then there was the hilarious one. Imagine this: I’m at school, speaking to a friend from a class, when a guy  whom I have never met chose his first words to me to be: “would you like to ride my unicycle?” as he pulled out a full blown unicycle from behind his back. Needless to say, I was flabbergasted and wanted to die laughing. I nicely declined and said I didn’t think I possessed such talent.

Then there was today, the most bazaar of all. I’m in a quaint diner in my small town with my precious grandmother and I met a man whose first words to me were, “I was in love with your mother.” It goes without saying that…He wins. Way to make an impression, sir…truly.

All Dressed Up…and Nowhere to go.

Let me just say, I’m sitting here in my bed, with my hair fixed and looking good and I’m staying in tonight.

I had every intention to go to church while I was getting ready…but then, when almost leaving, I looked at the time and realized that I was already late and realized that I had so much to do and that I really needed to stay home and get it done. I’m not in the least bit upset that I got dressed and ready though. The truth is, I’ve looked like POOP all week long and have barely been presentable and it was just nice to be able to look in the mirror and say “okay! I haven’t completely lost all appeal in life!”

So, I just wanted to say…sometimes it’s totally acceptable and necessary to be all dressed up & going nowhere.

Restaurant Rubber Neckers

When my dad used to drive a truck, they had this expression to use for “a person who cranes, stains or otherwise awkwardly turns their head and stares while passing the scene of something interesting.” These people were called rubber neckers. It is not uncommon to spot a rubber necker on the road when an accident has occurred. Everyone starts driving 30 mph under the speed limit and staring intensely. What do you do though when you encounter several in the restaurant you’re in and you are the subject of their fascination?

I’m working on this special/top secret project. It’s a little crazy and well, daring. I’m in Denny’s right now, just going at it on my laptop and I notice that EVERY single person who walks by me cranes their neck to look over my shoulder and see what I’m doing. It’s starting to drive me absolutely crazy. These people are gawking and getting awkwardly close to me to see if I’m doing something “interesting”. They are dangerously close to bumping my shoulder and/or walking into my table. What’s funny is that I know when they see what I’m working on they are thinking “wow, that girl is weird, bold and …how old is she?”

I realize that makes it sound like I’m doing something sketchy; I assure you, I am not.

Anyways, how do you go about dealing with these Restaurant Rubber Neckers? Do you start setting up menus around your screen to block them out? Do you use the reverse of the always acceptable”golden rule” and stare each person down that walks by, thus treating them as they are treating you? What is proper etiquette for this situation? Am I the only person who deals with this? Right now, I’m just glad that no one has been seated behind me, then I would definitely have to leave (or resort to the tower of menus). Although, I have to wonder if I should say something to the waitress who awkwardly cleaned the table behind me (that no one has sat at). I don’t know what’s so fascinating about a young girl typing on her laptop, but apparently it intrigues people. If I were anyone but me, I would probably use this as an opportunity to change my status of being single. As a guy walks by and almost runs into my table, I would come up with some crafty and creative pick up line that would no doubt endear him and thus ensure us a life of marital bliss.

Alas, it’s me we’re talking about and I have not reached that point of desperation. I also can’t see myself hitting on a guy who is THAT nosey. Let’s be real, I can’t see myself hitting on anyone, period.

So, here I will sit, working on my project as the center of awkward public gawking and wonder what the proper response to this situation could possibly be.

First Date Don’ts:

As I type this, I am sitting next to a couple that is most definitely on their first date. I have had to turn my head a few times to keep from absolutely rolling out of my chair. I am 100% experiencing the awkwardness of a first date that is not even mine. I have decided that this is going to be my new hobby because it is by far the most entertaining thing I have ever observed.

So here are a few things that should be “DO NOT DO THIS ON THE FIRST DATE” rules list that apparently are not common sense.

a) Do not spend significant amounts of time comparing your date to YOUR MOTHER. Really? As she states that she loves doing Zumba, don’t go off on a 15 minute rant about how your mother loves to do zumba too…and etc. Not a conversation that is worth having; especially when he actually uses the phrase “Let me talk about my mother…” AFTER the conversation is on a completely different topic…Excuse me, what?

b) Do not insult your date’s facebook profile picture. Do not tell him that he looks stupid or like he “posed” because he will inevitably LIE and say that his daughter did it, not him… which is obviously not true by the redness in his poor embarassed face…seriously, help him out.

c) B brings me to my next point, if someone insults your facebook…don’t blame your poor daughter who is not present to defend herself.

d) Don’t talk about how many e-mails you get from women wanting to go out with you on your dating profile. Confidence is fine, but bragging…not so much.

e) When your date tells you that his cousin manages a specific Sheetz, don’t make the statement that the specified Sheetz is a bad one.

f) Don’t talk about all the things that women have told you they don’t like about you…

g) Any statement that starts with “WELL…I’ll just go ahead and tell you…” cannot end well, RUN!

h) Starting the previous statement…do not then suddenly jump up from the table and say “I need drink!” That’s awkward and leaves your date in fear that you’re about to drop a huge bomb.

i) A history of your previous marriages on the first date….so NOT a good idea.

j) let the woman talk. do not dominate conversation. when she brings up her dad, don’t insist that you once again want to talk about your mother.

These poor people, I cannot figure out how this date has not already ended. On both sides of this situation, I would have RUN FOR MY LIFE. Whether it be from sheer embarrassment or complete and total fear… I’d be long gone. Nevertheless, it was good entertainment while I was working on studying for my math.

Hope all of you are well!

Today’s Writing…

You want to know what I’ve been thinking about today? Writing has lost it’s edge. No one writes the hard to swallow stuff anymore, nope…we want everything to be palatable. We want everyone to read it and be “happy” … Sometimes, I love watching a good movie that ends realistically. In fact, I read a book the other day that for the first time in probably 8 or 9 years that had a REALISTIC ending. It was incredible. I think our writing (especially Christian writing) has lost some truth. Sometimes things don’t end the way we want, sometimes (most times) God’s plans aren’t close to our own. Are His better? YES…different, YES! Why do we feel the need to make endings sound the way WE would want? Better than that, why do we want our non-fiction writing to have no conviction or nothing that provokes us to change? That’s one thing I LOVE about the parables in the New Testament, they were designed to SHOCK people and to change them into doing something. They were stories that were designed to make someone stop and say..”wait a minute..” I love writing like that.
Hope you’re all well.

20/20

For all of you who don’t know, my birthday is coming up next weekend. March 4th to be exact. When that day gets closer, I will post more and expound on this past year and give you guys some insight into what I learned being 18.

Now, I’m turning 19..which means it’s my last year to be a “teen” (thank God). I will only have a YEAR until I’m 20. That was a weird sentence to type. I never thought I’d get past 12, seriously. I thought I was going to be stuck outside of the teen years forever..and now I’m ready to escape them and be DONE. Anyway, the point of this post is to create a list of TWENTY things to do before I’m TWENTY years old. Some of these are going to be SUPER challenging for me and others I will try to make a little easier to accomplish.

1. Take at least one more trip out of the country.

2. Read through the Old Testament

3. Visit family in other states.

4. Go to a movie (at a theatre) alone.

5. Go sailing

6. Take a trip to somewhere new with just my sister.

7. Write a novel. This a request of so many and I am going to attempt it!

8. Reunite with a long lost friend.

9. Volunteer at a local charity/mission organization

10. Go to at least one more huge conference of some sort.

11. Complete 10 Random Acts of Kindness for complete strangers.

12. Speak at a random church that is out of town.

13. Stay up the whole the night til sunrise conversing and relishing in the company of a good friend with whom I’ve never done that before.

14. Play in the rain.

15. Receive a dozen yellow tulips from someone completely unexpected. (Yeah, I can’t make this happen…but we’ll see how it goes! haha)

16. Make a spontaneous trip and sit on the beach and watch a sunrise.

17. Shoot a gun

18. Figure out what one of my random friends REALLY wants and buy it for them.

19. Spend an entire day in silence. (I don’t know if this is even possible.)

20. Hug 4 strangers.