Sunday, November 23, 2014

Because of Him

Today brings a lot of reflection as I prepare to move, again. Moving always brings the opportunity to find things from the past that bring memories and reflection. Today I began reading my missionary journal from 4 and a half years ago. I cannot believe that it was over 4 years ago I left Provo, UT to start a journey in New York. The day I left my family was the beginning of a long, treacherous journey of pain; both physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. A journey through fire, refinement, and transformation. A journey from what I saw as a good life and being thrown down to the rock bottom pit of despair. A journey through hell. My mission was not a good experience. It was actually the beginning of one of the worst experiences of my life. As I read my journal, I began to relive the painful moments of the past. Every day was hard. Excruciating. I saw the pain I experienced every day, the person I was 4 and a half years ago. And then I came home early from my mission which only made things worse emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. I experienced an overload of pain. I lost all faith in myself, and my Heavenly Father. I doubted His very existence. Coming home began an even more treacherous journey back to health. This is when I hit the absolute bottom of the pit of despair. I will not go into detail about the long journey, but I just want to say that I am grateful for hitting rock bottom. I am grateful that my Heavenly Father did not keep me from feeling the pain I felt. I am grateful my Heavenly Father loved me enough to let me have the experiences I had because I truly am a different person. I am not the same person I was 4 years ago. I am so much more confident in myself, in my abilities, and in my Heavenly Father. I also gained more confidence in my Savior as I began to allow Him to give me strength as I suffered through my pain. As I look back at the person I was 4 years ago, and then look at the person I am today, I see my Heavenly Father's hand guiding me through it all and my Savior carrying me when I could not walk. There was a point in my life I thought God was not there, that He had either forgotten about me, or didn't even exist. Because of my experiences, I now recognize that He has been by my side through my darkest and most painful experiences. It is because of my Heavenly Father and Savior I am where I am today. It is because of my Savior I was able to overcome the obstacles that were placed in my way. It is because of Him I have increased strength. It is because of Him and His love for me I am alive today. I am so grateful for my Heavenly Father and his guiding hand in my life. I am grateful for my Savior in leading me on the path back to Him. I look forward to where he is guiding me with this next move. Coming to Las Vegas has been one of the hardest, but best experiences of my life. I know my Father in Heaven led me here as part of my divine mission. I know He is an integral part of my life.  I could not live this life without Him, so I will do all I can to recognize and allow Him to be a part of my life. He is everything. Because of Him, and my Savior, I am more than I could ever be! I am so grateful for their presence in my life, forever and always!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Parable of the Plants

What is Faith?
I have recently been studying the scriptures to answer the question “What is Faith?” Faith is a concept I have struggled with my whole life. Living in this world where everything is shown to you; a world where we get instantaneous results; a world where the definition of patience is hearing the phrase, “one moment please” and then waiting for but a moment to get what you need right then. Faith is hard to find when you have a lack of faith. With a lack of faith, it is hard to even find the desire to find just a particle of faith. And after finding that particle of faith, using it. It is hard to take that first baby step of faith into the darkness of the unknown. It is hard to have faith when curveballs are thrown your way. It is hard to find faith in a world with so much commotion and noise; where it takes much effort to find a place of solitude and silence. Our inner and outer worlds are full of so much commotion!

This past week as I have been studying faith in hopes to better understand it and exercise the last particle of faith I had. I learned a lot by sitting in my bedroom, early one morning, and pondering about faith. I sat in solitude, away from the distractions of the world. I found myself looking around and comparing faith to the various plants I have in my bedroom. From this I came up with “The Parable of the Plants.”

The Parable of the Plants
I have a few different plants in my bedroom, all at different stages of life. In my room I have a beautiful plant that is flourishing. It is bright green, grows quickly, and has many leaves. I also have a small portion of that same plant that has been transplanted and now has new growth. I have a few lucky bamboo plants. And I have a vase of flowers that have been clipped from their original plans to form a beautiful arrangement of roses, lilies, snapdragons, and other various clippings foliage. Each of these plants are beautiful and have taught be a bit about faith.

The Flourishing Plant

 I received this plant in it’s full beauty as an “adult plant.” It is strong, has a good root system, and continues to grow fuller and more beautiful as I take care of it and nourish it. It receives light daily, water weekly, and extra nourishment when needed. If I neglect it, it will flourish for a while because of it’s strength. 

Transplanted Plant
This transplanted portion of a plant came from the same plant that is flourishing. It has new growth and will continue to grow. Before talking about this portion I want to first talk about my efforts in getting the one that I have now. I wanted another plant like the one previously mentioned. It is beautiful! And two is better than one right? So, I knew my dad knew how to transplant, do all that nifty stuff to get another plant. I told him I wanted another plant and he told me how to take a clipping, put it in water, and root it. I tried this a couple of times and it kept dying. I told my dad it was unsuccessful and he then told me I could uproot part of the plant, put it in some dirt and take care of it, and it would grow. I tried this a couple of times as well, and found myself unsuccessful. I was a bit discouraged because all I wanted was a plant like the original, but I was failing at my attempts to grow another. 

I decided I would take my plant to my dad and have him show me how to do it. He uprooted a portion and planted it in some of his topsoil he had gotten from his compost. He said it was the best soil I could use because it was filled with nutrition that would give the plant the strength it needed. At first this plant looked normal. After a few hours, it started to look all wilted. I was afraid the same thing would happen to this plant as with the others. I was afraid it would die. My dad told me not to worry; to water it only when needed, but not to overwater it. He also told me to put it by a window for some light but not in full sun. I listened to his specific counsel and followed every word of advice. I checked the plant every day so I could give it the care it needed. This plant stayed wilted for a while, but it was still alive. I trusted in my dad and the results he said I would get. After a couple of weeks the plant started to receive it’s lifeback. It started to look more alive and strong. Now a couple of months later, there is new growth coming in. Little buds of new life! This plant will continue to grow and become stronger as I take care of it. One day it will be flourishing like the plant it came from. I brought the plant the the “Master” and trusted him and his advice and directions, and now am seeing the results.

Lucky Bamboo

As I look at my bamboo each day, it does not look much different. It is green and living but does not grow very fast. It grows so slow that it almost does not grow at all. My bamboo does not need much care to live, but it needs some. All it really needs is some water to sit in and an occasional cleaning of it’s container. It does not produce very much new growth like the first two plants. In the three years I have had one of my bamboo plants, the leaves have gotten only a few centimeters longer and there are a couple more leaves. Other than that, it looks the same. Very little.difference.

Vase of Beautiful Flowers

I have a vase of beautiful flowers. This vase includes roses, lilies, snapdragons, and a few different types of foliage. They were absolutely beautiful when I got them from a friend. Two days later the lilies opened and were even more beautiful; bright yellow lilies that lit up the room. Those flowers were beautiful but are now beginning to perish. They are dying now and there is nothing I can do to keep them alive because they do not have the essential things they need to keep them alive. They do not have roots nor anything to give them strength like the other plants in my room.

Lessons of Faith
From each of these plants I have learned so much about faith and effort in increasing my faith. I want to be like the flourishing plant, sure in who I am, and living up to my full potential. But I am not there yet. This kind of faith is found in people who are absolutely sure in what they believe. They know who they are! They know that by putting their unwavering faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ, they will not fail! The best examples of this kind of faith would be those who have had much adversity but still remain strong and faithful in the One who gives them the ultimate strength. I want to one day have this unwavering faith be apart of every fiber of my being.

I feel like I am more like the transplanted portion of the flourishing plant. I have even been the portion of the plant that I kept trying to make work but in which kept dying. This has been my life lately as I have taken just a few steps off the path of my Savior, distancing myself from my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ. Because of this, my faith died. When it would die, I would try something else in hopes of bringing it back to life and it would die again. It was not until I turned to my “Master” in how to grow my faith that I found growth. It was not until the touch of the Master’s hand brought me back to the path that would give me enough nourishment to stay alive and eventually flourish. Just as the transplanted plant that survived has new growth, I have felt new growth in my faith only because I have included my “Master” in my efforts to increase faith in my life. This growth is both beautiful and real! I know that if I continue to nourish my faith, it will one day flourish like the plant it was pulled from. I want more than anything to be like the flourishing plant.

Next, the bamboo. The bamboo plant is still alive and will continue to live as long as it is nourished. But this plant is not flourishing like the first plant. I relate this plant to those who have become relaxed in their faith. Relaxed in nourishing their relationship with their Father in Heaven and their Savior. These people just go through the motions but don’t have much sincerity. These people do not have much growth, but they still continue to stay alive. I have also been here before. I have lived my life going through the “checklist” of things I need to do to be a “good person”; to “choose the right.” It was all a facade. Yes, my faith may have been alive, but it was not growing or flourishing. I was at a standstill because I was not regularly exercising my faith.

The last example is the vase of flowers. These flowers are beautiful but have been pulled from the very source giving them life. They have no chance of living. They will brighten up the room but will eventually perish. I relate these flowers to those who cut themselves from God and the Savior. Those who leave the truth behind in search for something beautiful, in which they may find, but in which will only last a moment. The beauty will soon die and be left to perish. As I was thinking about this last example, a bit of sadness entered my heart.because I hate endings and the “end” to my flowers came much sooner than I wanted. As I started to think a little deeper about these flowers, I realized that all hope is never lost! With our Savior there is no end. I had a beautiful bit of inspiration that flooded my heart and overtook the bit of sadness that previously dwelt in my heart. All hope is not lost nor will it ever be lost! As these cut flowers die, they will start to decompose and create nutritious soil that will one day bring new life. Soil like the topsoil that was used to nourish the growing, transplanted plant. Soil that came from the decomposed matter. This was the only soil that brought success in the growth of the plant. So though the death of these flowers may seem like the end, there is no end. There is an endless cycle of new chances for growth. Endless. There is no end to chances in the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Continual Growth...
This is my transplanted portion of the flourishing plant now! As I nourish my faith I know it is growing. This plant reminds me that my faith needs constant nourishment to live and just as this plant is growing, my faith will continue to grow!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I Love Me!

My happiness does not depend on others. It depends on me. I am not happy because of what others think. I am happy I love who I am.  I love my imperfections, I love my flaws, and I love all that is me. They are what make me me! And I am a pretty awesome 'me' 

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I have a new favorite song. Unconditionally by Katy Perry. The lyrics have so much meaning and hit the spot for me. I have been doing some soul searching recently and have been wondering what is right? What is wrong? Who am I? What am I supposed to do with my life? etc. many many questions. I have listened to others and what they think I should do and have allowed them to determine what SHOULD make me happy. 

I have realized that the only thing that can truly make me happy is to listen to MY heart and do what MY heart is telling me to do. Not what someone else thinks I should do. As I was listening to the lyrics of this song, I realized one of the first things I need to do is love unconditionally. And this unconditional love needs to start with me. One of my resolutions for the year is to love myself unconditionally. As I love myself unconditionally, I will be able to love everyone around me unconditionally. As I love myself unconditionally, I will be able to do what is best for me which in turn will be best for everyone around me. I can only be my best self when I love my worst self unconditionally.

Here are some of my favorite lyrics from the song:

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally 

Come just as you are to me
Don't need apologies
Know that you are worthy
I'll take your bad days with your good
Walk through the storm I would
I do it all because I love you, I love you

So open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart

Acceptance is the key to be
To be truly free
Will you do the same for me?

I do love myself; my strengths, weaknesses, imperfections, gifts, talents, joys, and everything that makes me ME! 

So, Love yourself unconditionally so you can do the same for others!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 In Review

Warning: Extremely long post! Because of the length, I have categorized the post into different sections. Read the whole thing, or just a section! You choose! :D Enjoy!

Winter Semester:
This year has been a year full of events! Ups and downs, circles, falls, and flight! I have been through much pain, sorrow, and despair, but also been through much joy, triumph and transformation!

I began the year taking a break from the Elementary Education program because it was too hard at the time and I felt like I needed a breather. So I took a Latin Ballroom dance class, a stress management online class, and a speed reading class along with being in the Latter-day Celebration Choir. I was putting off earning my degree because I was afraid of being a real adult, one that has to take control of their life. One that is in charge. I was afraid of moving out of my comfort zone of being a student where someone else is in charge of me.

Medical Problems:
During this semester, I continued having all the physical pain I had been experiencing the past 2 ½ years with no answers. I decided to go to my primary care physician because all the doctors and tests had brought me back to square one. I was extremely frustrated that I had spent so much money on so many doctors and tests with no answers to show that the emotional roller coaster ride was worth all the tests, doctors, and money. But all I could do was keep searching. My primary care physician pretty much told me he didn’t know what to do but wanted me to try going to a friend of his who is a Physiatrist.
A Physiatrist specializes in the musculoskeletal system. He did more tests, gave me shots, (Which I despise!) and put me through physical therapy. I finally got some answers, not exactly what I wanted, but the answers did some explaining. I had an EMG done which showed that I have carpal tunnel and an MRI which showed that I have a herniated disc and arthritis in two different spots in my neck. That explained the constant headaches I had been experiencing for 2 ½ years, and continue to experience to this day. Because of this, the Physiatrist put me through physical therapy for about 2 months. The physical therapy did absolutely nothing for me. He gave me prescription after prescription and finally I was done with medicine, so I went off everything I had been given by various doctors and decided to start fresh. (Never go off everything at once! It will make your life miserable for some time!). I was able to survive being on nothing and realized that each prescription was just masking a bit of my symptoms, but bringing on other symptoms that made me tired all the time, numbed me, and just made me have no motivation to do anything. I realized that once I went off the medication, I was able to be mindful of everything going on within my body, physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Anyways, I continued going to this doctor and still found no relief. He finally gave me more medication to try for when I needed it most and it has helped a bit. I still suffer from chronic pain to this day.

Spiritual and Emotional Pit:
All through this, I continued my semester of school, taking a break from the program and reality and what was to come. I lived life day to day, doing all that I could to just make it through the day and on to the next. I had no purpose in my life and I was feeling extremely low for much of the first half of the year. Once school ended, I decided I was going to take a break from school through the summer, and the Fall. I was going to just work and do no school. I was too worn out by everything to do anything.  I had lost all hope! Every little inkling of hope that may have been there disappeared! Along with struggling with physical pain, I was struggling with emotional and mental pain due to different circumstances in my life that would take 10 books to explain, so I won’t go there. Anyways, I was also struggling spiritually! I felt completely abandoned by God. I felt like He didn’t care about me and my pain. I felt forgotten and questioned His very existence. Because of all the pain I was experiencing, and the absence of help from God, I became very bitter with Him! I want to share an excerpt of something I wrote in July after going to the doctor, getting some answers, but still leaving with nothing.

“I had much hope that we had found the answers and that all would be well. I did physical therapy for 2 months, went to visit with the doctor, and was left with nothing but an empty wallet and continual pain. Nothing helped the pain. Like I said earlier, I have a feeling nothing will. I ask God for help and all I get is silence. I ask for strength, and all I get is weakness. I ask for peace, and all I get is turmoil. All  of these experiences have caused me to question the very existence of God. How could a loving, all powerful God allow me to suffer so much with no relief. No answers, no peace, and no strength to buoy me up.  Am I not faithful enough, humble enough, righteous enough. There is no more I can do which is leading me to do less. I cannot live for a God that does not and cannot help me. I have asked for His help in any possible way and received nothing.”

Spiritual Reminder
Of course, after writing this, talking to a friend, and finally talking to God, I was wacked up side the head and reminded that God does exist, and that He does care about me. He answered me and let me know that He lets me suffer through so much pain because He knows it will make me strong. He told me I need to trust in His timing and strength. He told me I may not be strong on my own, but as I rely on Him, I will be strong enough to get through each day. After that experience, I felt His strength carrying me through each day! Guiding me through life.

I had decided at the beginning of summer that I was going to take Fall semester off to save some money, and take yet another break from the program. I was still terrified of the “real world.” The last week of July, after my experience with God, I had a very strong feeling that I needed to go to school Fall semester. It was one of the strongest feelings I have ever felt and could not say no to it. So I decided to sign up for school and file for financial aid, knowing I couldn’t go to school without it. I decided to trust God and let Him guide me where I needed to go. I was TERRIFIED of school! I signed up for 15 credits in the program, starting my Senior year of College! Terrifying, I know! Well, after signing up for classes and financial aid, I was surprised to find that my schooling was 100% paid for! I was ecstatic! I did not have to worry about money to pay for tuition because it had been paid for!

Fall Semester
I started school, had a hard semester, but learned so much about myself and my ability to do hard things! I had many projects and presentations, and even started my 3 week experience of student teaching! I triumphed over many battles and came out on top with a 4.0! Just another manifestation that God would carry me through when I didn’t have enough strength to walk through on my own. So that is the majority of my year, but now I need to tell you about the most important part of my year; transformation. This transformation is what allowed me to come out on top and to end the year with a BA BAM!

Writing Journey:
Rewind back to February! In February I went to a concert. Julie De Azevedo. I got there extra early so I could have a good seat, and I went alone. Who would have known that going to that concert was a small event that would change the rest of my life. Since I got there early, I had a lot of time to sit; sit by strangers; and make things awkward if I wanted. But I didn’t want awkwardness, so I decided to talk to the woman sitting next to me so that she would no longer be a stranger to me. He name was Jennifer Griffiths Manges. She was Ms. US Continental 2011-2012. Thought that was cool and we continued to talk. She told me about a book she had written and published a few months before. I told her I had been wanting to write a book but didn’t know where to start, and felt like my book was very personal and didn’t know if I could share it with the world. She gave me a statistic of people who say they want to write a book and people who actually do. I don’t remember the numbers, but there was an extreme difference in numbers between the two. Anyways, the concert went on, we parted our ways, and I didn’t think much of it.

About a month later, I remembered our conversation and decided to find her on facebook to ask more about writing a book. She gave me good information and told me about an “Aspiring Author’s Summit” that her friends were going to be doing in August. She told me she would email me more information when the time came. 

Well, the months went on and I sort of forgot about everything that had to do with writing a book when she emailed me the information. A spark of motivation was lit inside and I decided go check it out since it wasn’t too expensive. I got great information, put it in a folder, and hid it away. But one thing I remembered and kept in the front of my mind was one woman who was the keynote speaker. M Bridget Cook. I noticed and admired her confidence and wanted that same confidence manifested in myself, but didn’t see that happening any time soon. Once the workshop ended, different authors and publishers had tables set up with their work where we could go talk to them and do some networking. I talked to a few authors that were there, including Jennifer. Then I went to talk to Bridget but got scared and decided to just leave and wondered why I had even gone to the summit. I doubted my abilities and decided to put writing my book on hold. Of course that wasn’t going to happen. The Universe was not going to let that happen.

The beginning of October I received an email from Bridget advertising her “Inspiring Writer’s Retreat” the beginning of November and giving a discount to those who had gone to the “Aspiring Author’s Summit.” $500 was the cost. When I received that email, I felt a push, once again, that I needed to do this. As I contemplated whether or not I should go, I thought of everything I could buy for $500. (Being a poor college student and such). But I signed up and hit submit on my paypal. I continued to question whether that was the best idea and started to doubt. But the button had already been pressed, and the money already sent. As the day approached, I had decided that I was going to make the most out of my experience there since I had sacrificed a big amount of money, (for a poor college student) to go. I was scared to death to go to this retreat knowing that I would not know a single person there, that I would have to share lodging with complete strangers, and that I would likely be the youngest one there as well. I was afraid that I was stupid for thinking I could write a book.

Little did I know that this retreat would change my life forever! Little did I know that this retreat would be THE GREATEST experience in my entire life! Literally, the GREATEST! Little did I know that I would have an immediate support system that would be stronger than I had ever experienced in my life. Little did I know what I was capable of doing. I learned more about myself in the three days I spent with these inspiring people, than I have learned in my entire lifetime! I was able to open up, let go, be open to others, and find clarity of what I can do. I didn’t just meet great people, I met my authentic self.

Because of the retreat, I gained a powerful motivation to not only write my book, but to do good in the world and to BE ME. To spread the light within me, and to inspire others to do the same. I learned that I can do hard things, that I can graduate college and be a “real adult” living in the “real world.” But even greater than that, I am courageous, strong, powerful, inspiring, and am doing much good. Before the retreat, I worried so much about what other’s thought of me. It was the fear of what others may be thinking that kept me from doing anything, including just talking to someone I didn't know very well. I was SO afraid of the judgments of others. After letting go at the retreat, and seeing others let go and be authentic, I realized that being myself is SO MUCH FUN! and so much less stressful than hiding! I realized that I don’t need to give a crap what others think about me; it is none of my business what they think. All that matters is what I think, and I think I am pretty awesome!!! I have come a long way this year. The beginning of the year, I thought I was pretty crappy, and now I know the truth! I am Ashleigh, and I love being me! I'm so excited to see what the New Year has in store! The greatest part of this past year are not the events that have taken place, or what I have been able to do, but what I have become! The person I have become is the most important thing from this past year!

Who You Are: Must Watch For Every Woman

This man has it down pat!!! This video is an amazing reminder of who you are!

"you're beautiful, you're smart, you're funny, you're kind, you're unique. You are worthy of love and affection. You're never too much and you're always enough. You're precious, you're a diamond, a rose, a pearl, the most stunning of all God's creation. You're worth more then you can ever imagine. Worth more then the numbers on the scale, or the hair product you use, or the shoes you wear. More then how many girls wish they were you or how many guys wish they had you. More then the price tags on your clothes or the percentage of the top of your maths test or even the number of followers you have on twitter. Your worth surpasses all earthly things, because in the eyes of the Lord God, you are loved and you're worth dying for. Regardless of who you think you're. Whether you model in a magazine or you model pottery with grandma, whether you're on the hot list or the not list, whether you're head cheerleader or high school drop out, whether you're miss popular or you've never had anyone you can call a friend, whether you love your self and love your life or you can't stand to look in the mirror and you feel as if everything in your life is falling apart, whether you're such a winner or you feel like the worlds biggest failure regardless of who you think you're. The reality is that you deserve someone who would give up their life for you, because you're powerful and strong and capable. Read about the women in the bible; Esther, Ruth, Martha, Mary. These women changed the world forever and inside of you, each and everyone of you is a woman with that same power and that same strength and that same world changing capability and your responsibility is to find that woman and to set that woman free. This is who you are and any voices in your mind that tryna tell you differently are from the enemy. And the next time you heard them this is what you say; you say, nu huh, not me Satan, I am a daughter of the living God, cherish, loved and adored above all things, by the creator all things, for the glory of Him, who is greater than all things. I AM AWESOME. And please, don't you forget it!"

You are GREATER Than all things!!!!ALL THINGS! Live that way!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

More Than Just A Dream


I have a dream, but it is more than just a dream. It is a dream that will one day become a reality. Not because of the hope I have in this dream, but the belief, desire, and determination within to make it happen. 

This past year I have had a small desire to write a book. I didn't think it would ever happen, I just thought it would be cool. As the year continued on, I started to meet people, small events started happening, and these people and events led to more people and events that have made my dream seem more like a reality and became an even bigger desire! I now have so many connections that I am so grateful for and that have placed me on the path of authorship! 

I have been amazed at how I have been led to this path and how every step I take down this path leads me to something greater! And this is not because my dream is just falling into my lap. It is because I am doing something. I am going after my dream. I am following where my heart is leading. I am accomplishing great things and am further in the writing process than I ever would have thought I would be! I am actually writing a book!

This dream is not easy! It is going to be a lot of work! But it will be completely worth it! 

What dream are you going after?