Back to... Hearts & Rockets.

 When I started using the phrase "Hearts & Rockets" in 2012, it was my own version of just "going for it" in life. Loving hard and shooting for the stars no matter what that meant. I would dance in the streets and sing as loud as I possibly could to the radio with the windows down. I'm getting that back. As I write this, which is taking me a lot longer than it should and I feel so distracted and zoned out, I'm thankful that the Lord always has His hand in my story, my NYC apartment and incredible husband are proof that God loves me no matter what and trust me, He feels the same toward you. 

The back to school season was so dreadful when I was in school, but now it feels like a fresh start. The fall always feels so refreshing to me, so I'm going back to Hearts and Rockets. To vulnerability and transparency, no matter what. Also, back to writing... I used to write every day (hence, the way Hearts and Rockets happened) and now I barely do it at all. 

Have you ever forgotten a passion for a moment? Reclaim it with me this season. 

Grab your copy of Hearts & Rockets - let's go for it!

Hearts & Rockets,

Ainsley B. 

13 Reasons Why for PARENTS...

If you have a teenager or young adult, you need to watch 13 Reasons Why. 

I’m going to be honest with you. It’s a hard show to watch. I mean at some points my skin was crawling for the door while my eyes hid behind the steel trap door of my fingers. I was dying to whip out the Sword of the Spirit on these fictional characters as my heart ached for them. 

Despite the fact that it’s hard, it’s real. As I was watching, I could identify each character as someone I knew when I was in high school. Maybe they went to my school, maybe they went to another one, but Justin, Jessica, Hannah, I knew them all, just with different names. 

It’s scary to think that. It’s also crazy that most shows are dramatized, but this one didn’t seem as unrealistic as most.

I know, I’m not a parent so who am I to be giving advice, but hear me out:

Remember your first heartbreak? Or when you didn’t make the team that one time? What about the rumor your ex-boyfriend spread about you? Now those things don’t seem like such a big deal, but back then, remember, it felt like an earthquake. That was the first time you felt betrayal, anxiety and other emotions that you had no idea existed before. Or maybe you had an idea, but not in this magnitude. Also, this stuff called social media isn’t helpful either. Teens and young adults are constantly scrolling through beautiful photos of places and people that they are comparing themselves to. I was the teen of dial up internet and the very beginning stages of Facebook, Myspace, etc. I’ll never forget the pain in my chest when I read negative comments on Facebook about myself from classmates or the drama that followed who you did or didn’t include in your Top 8. Why will I never forget? Because it was the first time I’d experienced anything like it. Had I known that life was going to be a lot more painful and beautiful at the same time, maybe it wouldn’t be so significant, but I didn’t know. It felt like an earthquake. Oh, and hormones and body changes and the pressure of doing well because your entire future hangs in the balance of your 17-year-old self, so it seems.

Keep in mind, parents, that it’s likely that your teen is facing some serious issues for the first time and doesn’t necessarily have the coping skills to actually deal with them. This is their first encounter with an eating disorder, self-harm, sexual harassment, etc. When I was in middle school, yes, middle school - every Wednesday was a day that the guys were allowed to grab our butts. I don’t remember who made the rule up, but I remember feeling violated. During my senior year of high school, one girl per week was “exiled” from the group and couldn’t sit with us at lunch. WHAT!? The nonsensical actions of peers make it difficult to cope. Your teen feels the impact of these experiences in a big way, so please don’t be passive if they bring it up or tell them they’ll get over it. 

If you want a glimpse into their lives, watch this show. Learn how to use social media. Reach out and I’m more than happy to teach you. I’m sure you’re doing a phenomenal job at loving them and that’s great, but they also crave to be understood and heard. 

My prayer is that we can build a bridge of communication between parents and teens so we can eliminate life controlling issues in young adults. Please watch this show & for more awareness videos & resources, visit UnveiledCampaign.com

Hearts & Rockets,

Ainsley

3 Gift Ideas for Grads!

3 Gift Ideas for Grads:

Oh man. I vividly remember Graduation Day. I was so excited and felt totally invincible to what was ahead in life. I was about to move to Baton Rouge with my best friend in a beautiful apartment *WITH A POOL* and all of my dreams would come true. What a ride! 

Looking back, I think I managed pretty well on my own, other than the whole school part (yall, go to class. for real). So, here are the things I suggest giving the Grad in your life:

  1. Hearts & Rockets - I learned so much about my walk with the Lord through devotionals in college. Through a transition period in life, it’s crucial to cling to the Lord. And if you thought I was going to go through this list and not put this book on here, you’re just silly. ;). I wrote Hearts & Rockets through a transitional period (some of which was written during my first year in college!) & it won’t break the bank!
  2. Money - This one is pretty self explanatory. All college kids need money haha. Maybe use it as a bookmark in H&R! 
  3. Self care items to manage stress - Finals aren’t the only stressful part of starting college. New friends, impressions and adjustments can be a lot to handle! I suggest filling their arms with lots of self care tools. Here are my favorites:
    1. Soothing Candle
    2. Spa in a box - face masks, nail polish, maybe even a Birchbox subscription!
    3. Planner - staying organized is key!!

I hope this list helps! Enjoy the ride, Grads! Life is amazing and your world is about to get SO MUCH BIGGER :)

 

hearts & rockets,

Ainsley B.

Cutie Little Charleston

Last week we took a little celebration trip to Charleston, SC. It's the beginning of a new chapter for the Glenns (career-wise, nothing else everyone calm down) and Justin is a master trip planner, so why not!? We were there for 5 days in the most relaxing city I've ever been in. Cutie little Charleston. This city is rich with history and gorgeous, green trees that stole my heart away. *all pics at the end of post*

We flew in on Sunday & checked into our hotel, the Grand Bohemian. Yall, this place was so cool. It's an art museum and hotel in the perfect location right by King St. I definitely recommend it! We bopped around the area, walked up and down King St. to check out the shopping scene & took a carriage ride to hear some history of the city. It felt similar to the French Quarter in NOLA, so I felt right at home. We ended our evening with fried chicken and seafood at Leon's. Love the vibe in this place and we both tried chargrilled oysters, which were actually pretty good! Neither of us are oyster fans, so that was a nice surprise.

As my love for greenery and beautiful trees goes, we had to stop by Angel Oak on Monday. Justin probably felt small for the first time in his life. It's a beautiful ~400 year old tree that is huuuuuge. Justin was really excited to be near a beach for the first time in a while, so our next stop was Kiawah Island. It was too windy to play on the beach, but we ate at the Ryder Cup Bar and enjoyed the beautiful view of the golf course meeting the sand. It was a bit of a drive, but the Crispy Shrimp was absolutely worth it. SO GOOD. When we left there we stopped in a few cutie antique shops and dreamt of a day when we could decorate a house with old and new furnishings. We got some afternoon refuel at The Daily per our friend's recommendation (check out Elaine's AMAZING lifestyle blog, HERE) and popped into The Port Mercantile at the Restoration Hotel. It's SUPER cute and reminded me of my dear White's Mercantile in Nashville.

One of the best parts of this vacation was that we napped every day. Heaven, I tell ya. The other best part? Xiao Bao Biscuits. This.place.will.change.your.life. Go hungry and get the cabbage pancake and duck something (sorry, I can't remember the name). Seriously. This food was incredible and coming from someone who is from Louisiana and lived in Nashville, that says a lot! 

Two things we do in every city we visit: 1. Get a magnet 2. Find the best donuts. There were a few places we researched, but one was mentioned multiple times, so we landed at Glazed first thing on Tuesday. When we went in, I had low expectations because, well, I have my preferred donut spots. However, Justin got the pistachio donut and it was delicious! It tasted like the perfect moist, cake donut and I'm not even a huge fan of pistachio but I recommend it for sure! We wanted to get some more history under our belt since we mainly have just been eating through the city, so we went to Boone Hall.  We learned more about the Gullah culture and the reality of slavery - take your time here to feel the gravity of this history. After a few hours there, we sought another beach on Sullivan's Island. The cutest restaurant greeted us & we ate at The Obstinate Daughter. Such a cute restaurant & you can walk to the beach from it! The wind got the best of us at the beach again, so we headed back downtown where we hung out by the water at sunset & enjoyed the breezy weather and walked around Rainbow Row. We decided that the city wasn't actually real and we were on a movie set because it was too perfect, not a single piece of litter in sight.

Wednesday brunch was at Hominy Grill - you just can't go wrong here - and then we rented bikes to ride around the city. This day was probably my favorite because we didn't have any plans really. We just rolled with the punches. We enjoyed the scenery on bikes that we rented for $7/hour and when lunch rolled around we stopped by Goat.Sheep.Cow to pick up some cheeses, wine, etc. & picnicked in Battery Park. I HIGHLY recommend doing this. It was so fun, relaxing and just delicious! (Thank you Katelyn for the recommendation!) After we went back to the hotel and cleaned up a little, we went to a BYOB candle making class at Candlefish! This is a MUST DO. We had so much fun and got to take home 2 candles each! Rachel was our Chandler & she did a great job teaching us! Candle making works up an appetite and we hadn't stopped talking about Xiao Bao Biscuit since we left, so... we went back. It was still amazing. I want it right now actually. 

Departure day came quick and without warning. Thursday morning, The Park Cafe . All I have to say is get their Mint & Mocha coffee creation. It is delicioussss!!!! Perfect morning treat. We only had time for a few more stops, so to Folly Beach we went! Warm & windy is the Charleston way. We hung out on a pier until we had to head to the airport and kiss our sweet little vacation goodbye. Charleston is super cute and I recommend it for a 2-3 day visit. Have you been? What did you do & where did you go?

Hearts & Rockets, 

Ainsley

A really long blurb of our wedding...

Dylan Howell Photography (all ceremony photos)

Dylan Howell Photography (all ceremony photos)

When I was a kid, I didn't necessarily have a dream wedding. 

To be very honest with you, I never really saw it in my future. 

One time my aunt (who is only 6 years older than me) married me off to my uncle (who is only 4 years older than me) around the ripe age of 7, but my toilet paper veil was the extent of my wedding experience.

 

My single mother raised me to appreciate a good man, like my Poppa, but independence was our style. You can imagine my surprise when I met Justin on July 10, 2014 and knew within minutes that I HAD to spend forever with the most loving, patient, attractive, smart, etc. man I'd ever laid eyes on. This was the man my family prayed for.

 

Thank the Lord, he felt the same way. Well, it took him a year and some change to realize it, but on January 1, 2016 he asked for my hand in marriage (in Central Park and from morning to night, he planned the most incredible day, but this post will be long enough without getting into those details.)

 

So the adventure began. "Wait. I have to like... plan a wedding..." I thought. Sheer panic ran through my body.  What are the rules? Colors, dresses, bridesmaids, caterers, videographers and photographers, OH MY!  I began my research and scrolled for miles on Pinterest every night. T'was a daunting task for a new NYC resident whose family was in a different time zone, worked a full time job and was trying to start a non-profit all at once. Alas, my superhero of a mother helped me take this bull by the horns and organize my absolute dream wedding + celebration. 

 

Some of my most wonderful memories through my life happened in the state of Colorado. Ski trips with the family when I was younger in Breckenridge, (DON'T EAT THE YELLOW SNOW IT'S NOT A SNO CONE) Aspen in high school for a summer trip with friends, Vail for another ski trip in college and the night after I met Justin, I was headed to Denver for a trip with my dad and brother. Sitting by the fire, surrounded my mountains, Justin and I would talk on the phone for hours, as if we were in high school all over again. 

 

I pitched the idea to my mom. "Is it crazy to do a ceremony with just the family in Colorado and then do a reception at home?" It was indeed crazy, but that became the plan. 

________________________________

Let's fast forward to wedding day, shall we?

 

That morning was peaceful and relaxing. My Fiance had sent Starbucks and flowers over with my mom & I put on Dave Barnes, "Good Day for Marrying You" on repeat. Our hair + make up artist came over to get us all dolled up and really, we just went through our checklist and enjoyed the morning together. Hummingbirds hovered around the windows and the weather was perfect. A small chill in the morning, but as soon as the sun touched your skin, it felt like a hug from Jesus. Colorado weather is my favorite. 

 

 My sisters played board games and our videographers + photographers captured our precious moments. My something borrowed was my Grandmother's jewelry, something blue was the sapphire in her ring, something old was my great grandmother's handkerchief and something new were my shoes! Grandmother, mom and I all had a heartache at once when we all wondered what my Poppa would think of all of this. He passed unexpectedly 9 months prior & it was still a mystery how we all managed to survive without him around. We were missing our "standard" of a man. I'm so thankful that the Lord had someone for me that reflected many of his characteristics. 

 

Justin sent a gift over for me, and I sent one over for him. Mine was a beautiful rose gold necklace with our wedding date engraved and a LV purse I'd been dreaming of for years. His was my precious grandfather's Rolex. Justin felt the weight of the sentiment and felt so humbled when he opened the original box that Poppa had when he first celebrated the success of the business he built from the ground up. 

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It was time to load up + move out! Off to the first look. Shoutout to my mom for helping me morph into a could so my dress wouldn't drag the ground on our way to the spot!

 

After that, we may have gotten lost on the way to the ceremony, but only 15 people were waiting, so I wasn't as worried as I would've been had it been a chapel full of friends + family. 

 

My dad walked me down the dirt road (aka: aisle) to the tune of Johnnyswim's "We Can Take The World" to my tall, handsome, precious fiance who would become my husband. Side note: we found our ceremony spot the day before when we were just exploring, so I'm thankful that part worked out juuuust in time. 

 

We exchanged our own vows and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery with our immediate family. Our best cheerleaders. 

__________________________

Three weeks later, we invited all of our friends and extended family to celebrate our marriage in Lafayette, LA. God performed miracle after miracle during my wedding season, because we found our reception venue 5 days before the actual reception. Why would we do that, you ask? Well, we planned on having the reception at my parent's home and on my wedding day when we were all blissfully enjoying the Colorado weather, their house was flooding in the crazy, unforeseen Louisiana floods. Non stop rain didn't originally concern us, until one of my mom's friend's said, "We have to use a boat to get to your house." So the three weeks in between was actually us scrambling around trying to find a venue and other last minute details, praying that we wouldn't have to cancel it because many people were coming in from out of town. 

 

God is good and our venue was the most beautiful place I could've ever asked for, probably even better/easier than if it had been at our home anyway!  We still wanted to honor our friends and show them how much they meant to us, so our bridal party attended a welcome party the night before and we treated it all the same, only they didn't walk down an aisle. I gave my bridesmaids a color and they picked their own dress. We all got ready together the morning of the reception and drank mimosas out of disco ball cups. 

 

My absolute favorite part of the reception was the video. Because we wanted our guests to see what the ceremony was like, we projected a 5 minute video onto a screen and had a vocalist sing "ILYSB" by Lany during the video. Then, we were announced and came out for our first dance. 

 

Since we had already had our wedding night, we decided not to have a grand exit, but a grand entrance instead! Our guests each had sparklers and stood around in a circle during our first dance as husband and wife. 

 

Then, we cut the cake, drank some drank and danced the night away!!! We didn't sit down once and as everyone warns, it was all a blur. I absolutely loved having our ceremony and reception separate, so we could pack as many sweet memories into one season as possible. I want to do it all over again, but I'll just keep looking at these photos and videos instead. Sigh. 

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If you'd made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I'm 2.5 hours in of typing, and now plan on taking a nap. Thanks for coming down memory lane with me and if you have any wedding questions, I feel like I learned SO much during this season. Happy to answer :) 

 

Cheers to a lifetime of adventure and non-traditional living with the most genuine, Jesus loving man, Justin Glenn. 

 

#GlennForTheWin #GeauxingGlenn #GoneGlenn

Merry Christmas, Hearts & Rockets!

Hearts & Rockets will be 2 months old on December 25th! Can you even believe it!?! To date, almost 300 copies have been bought and I'm so thankful! 

This girl fits nicely in a stocking and I'd love to customize the gift for you!

Here's how to receive a FREE signed bookplate:

Email AinsleyBritain@yahoo.com with the following information:

1. Who to address the bookplate to

2. The address of where I should send it

Please send before December 20th so I can get them back to you in time :) 

 

Who runs the world?

*Steps onto soapbox*

During the past 10 months or so, we've been in wedding mode. Planning, working, enjoying and laser focusing in on our relationship as the exciting events surrounded us. Everything was about "us." While that's so fun and exciting, I forgot to focus on myself as an individual and what fills my tank. I can't speak for Justin, but I know I sucked at keeping up with my friends and what was happening in their lives. It was all wedding all the time, or if not the wedding, then work or Unveiled or Hearts & Rockets. My mind was so cluttered that I was 100% a sucky friend (sorry yall...).

PSA: Husbands don't like to talk about the same things you like to talk about. They can't relate to your cramps and get super grossed out when you say anything related to Aunt Flo. Kardashians are the last thing they want to see on TV and "OMG I HATE THE BACHELOR BUT HOW FAR DO YOU THINK I WOULD'VE MADE IT ON THIS SHOW?.. " - direct quote from Mr. Glenn.

So, 

The other night my friend Sarah came to NYC for work and we went to grab dinner. As we shared the most delicious kale & sausage pasta and dipped our overpriced cookies in milk, we talked about all sorts of girl stuff. I probably talked her ear right off but it was so refreshing and fulfilling to just talk about nail polish and The Skimm and the highs and lows of living with a boy (They are so weird. Must've been some side effect of the cootie shot. You hear about those in vaccines you know). 

Then, the next morning, I went to breakfast with my friend Lauren who also happened to be performing in NYC at Carnegie Hall (I cried. It's cool. whatever). Listening to her Grandmothers tell me about how one of them met her husband when she and 48 other students sailed overseas was like a real life rom com storyline and the other lived in Colorado for a while and threw caution to the wind in her sassy car was so fun and inspiring! Remembering our middle school church trip and how one of the girls got caught kissing one of the guys by the lead Pastor, was all so fun and silly and as my heart overflowed with a giddy feeling, I remembered how insanely crucial your girlfriends are. 

I was always the girl who had more guy friends than girl friends because "I don't like drama" when really, I just wanted attention and to be "cool." This changed around the time I turned 19 and realized how much I love having girls I can be silly and dramatic with. Yes, of course girls (including myself) can be crazy, but at the same time, they are the ones who you can stay up all night nail painting and hair braiding with. Girls are the ones who will watch that RomCom movie and eat pints of ice cream with you, and I swear we will go to Pilates tomorrow, yet when tomorrow comes, Pilates turns into brunch and bottomless mimosas. While, having a husband/fiance/boyfriend and being in love is such an incredible feeling, it's also so important to be able to relate on the most random things like which nail salon is the best and who did your hair because I can't live with this mop on my head any longer!?

What I'm trying to say is to cherish your girl friends and nurture those relationships as you keep your independence and individuality while in a relationship. Justin actually loves when I have girls nights. Girls encouraging girls brings out a sense of confidence and joy. Let's nurture that in each other and love on one another. 

Beyonce said it best. Who runs the world? GIRLS.

*Steps off of soapbox*

Kimbraliphotography

Kimbraliphotography

Found in the Fall...

I stepped outside this morning and felt the most crisp breeze grace my face and move the whispys in my hair to tickle my cheek. It's that time of year that I love and hate. I love the warm apple ciders, but hate that it's only a precursor to Winter. I love the scarves and sweaters, but hate that I'll have to layer and unlayer during my commute to work because the subway is a giant microwave when you're wrapped in your heavy coat. This time of year always touches the softest part of my heart because it was Fall when I first moved to Nashville. It was also the first time I'd ever felt a real Fall, being that it's summer until December 31st in Louisiana.

I remember walking outside of my Bellevue apartment with my new pitbull/boxer mix and going on endless walks on the hiking trails about 2 miles from my door. Francis Chan podcasts started many of our fall mornings and we soon knew the trails like the back of our hand/paw. I still very much cherish these mornings, because I learned so much about myself and Jesus during my first year in Nashville. I became painfully self aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Living alone left a lot of time for self reflection and figuring out how to navigate a new city and all sorts of new responsibilities (like what is rent and why are you trusting me to pay this every single month?), at the ripe age of 19. I had one year of college under my belt, which consisted of....little to no studying, so that's an indication of how that went... and I just up and moved to a new city!?! Who did I think I was? I still think back and I'm like, "Lord, what on Earth made me obey your calling this one time versus all the other times I knew I heard you knocking?" Regardless, I'm so glad I did.

Every year I look back and think of my very first Fall in Nashville and how much has happened within the years between now and then. Wow. Growing up is such an adventure. As the seasons change, I'm reminded of the change within myself. The self love I worked so tirelessly to discover, the nights I spent hours crying on my dog (who slept with me every night and hogged the bed, which I know now was preparation for marriage)  and going to random churches alone until I found my fit (Thanks, Ekklesia crew).  I don't love the fall for pumpkin spice lattes (I prefer an almond milk mint mocha) - I love it for the transitions it's seen me though. From single in Nashville to married in New York City, I can only imagine what the next year has in store. Happy Fall, Yall!

What's your favorite part of fall?

It happened...

Well, it happened. 

I mean, I knew it was going to, but I really didn't know when. I figured soon, maybe on my wedding day, but nope. Just this morning. 

Wearing my Poppa's Hunting Club XXL T-shirt, it hit me. My wedding day is next weekend...and heaven is really far away. 

There was just no attempt in holding back tears as they streamed quickly and heavily, blurring my vision - even as I type this. I thought back on all of the provisions and sacrifices he's made for me in the past. The discipline, the heavy sigh before saying yes to an expensive BCBG dress I just *HAD* to have, the school tuition, etc. He, Mom and Grandmother moved mountains to make sure I had an amazing childhood, despite having divorced parents. They did a phenomenal job. I didn't have an insane trust issue with men, because my Poppa showed me what a trustworthy man looks like. I was confident in myself because my mom instilled a fierceness, Grandmother instilled a nurturing trait with a dash of sass, and Poppa instilled strength and wisdom. Sure, abandonment issues came now & then, as my actual dad lived 3+ hours away my entire childhood, but at the same time, my Poppa never made me feel abandoned. In Sunday school, when you were taught about Jesus' love, it was a mirror image of Poppa's. He was and will always be The Standard of a man in my eyes...but heaven is really far away. 

I asked God, "WHY? I need him right now so much." 

God said, "No, I need him." 

I just quickly saw Pop sitting down in heaven, with children around him, who never had a Poppa. I guess they need him? I really don't know... I have a feeling I had to be separated from my dependency on him to be able to fully depend on Jesus & Justin, as my future husband and provider. And I guess any type of adjustment like that is super painful, but I just never expected this to happen. I never expected Poppa to not be in the front row of my wedding. 

Maybe it'll happen again..the total breakdown...it probably will. But today, this morning... it's really tough. 

I'm learning to grieve when I need to grieve, but also remember that Jesus' plan is bigger, most necessary and I'm so thankful I had my Poppa and always will have everything he taught me. 

 

 

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I Know a Super Hero

So, I know this person who I swear is a secret super hero. I was watching the Incredibles last night and thought to myself, "I would not be surprised if this person was sneaking out in the night to rescue people and stop crime." My mom raised me as a single mom for 13ish years while going to grad school then working full time. Insane, right? Not only was she working full time, but she was serving communities, mainly working with sexual and physical abuse victims, ya know, helping save their lives... 

One time, we went to see Tim Tebow speak at a church near our house. Yes, I was in heaven, but that's a different story. Before he came out they had a competition for whoever "Tebowed" the best. Being super competitive, she was picked to go on stage and long story short, I think I mooned the audience jumping up and down yelling for her, but she won an autographed football! My immediate assumption was, "I'M GOING TO HAVE AN AUTOGRAPHED FOOTBALL IN MY ROOM YAY MOM I LOVE YOU!" Nope... she used it to further the mission of Hearts of Hope and gained attention to that issue by having it at an event and giving it away to someone deserving. 

So, I'm pretty sure she's a secret super hero. Acadiana took notice and nominated her for a community hero award, so I'm pretty proud. I would love love love to have your vote for Jill Dugas.

Here is the link: https://acadianahero.com/vote.php

But I hate girls...

As I'm reading my friend's INCREDIBLE book, "Looking For Lovely," little memories over my lifetime spark into my mind. Some lovely, some not so lovely, but I've noticed that these memories and times seem like a completely different life time for me, which feels strange, like a different Ainsley lived them. I also know how important they were in shaping who I've become, so I guess I am a different Ainsley than who lived the sparked memories from age 3 to even yesterday. 

Often times I have very, very vivid dreams. So vivid that I forget which was a dream and which was reality, but I'm pretty sure the memory I'm going to share was real...I think...Maybe....

All I wanted when I was growing up was to fit in with the guys. My Uncle Sutton was 3 years older than me so I looked up to him like crazy, even though he dared me to eat syrup on a pickle and told me that bruises were poop under your skin... and Blake, my mom's best friend's son who I consider a cousin (because everyone in Louisiana is your cousin) was a year older than me, so I even though he never let me win any game and would complain when he had to come over to our house, I wanted desperately for them to accept me. I liked sports, but didn't know quite enough about them to engage in the conversation. I couldn't even relate with them on a pizza level, because I hated it due to a Kraft cheese commercial trauma when I was 5. They made us eat so much pizza through so many takes, that I was done for the next 12 years. (Don't worry, I like it again. I live in NYC for crying out loud). I fought all of my glitter loving, Jesse McCartney obsessed instincts to fit in, but I didn't make the cut. I still hear Sutton's jingle he made before I was allowed to shave my legs. (Sing this to the tune of "Wanna Be A Balla") He sang, in a car full of his friends, "Wanna be a monster, named Ainsley, 20 inch hairs on her le-egs." 13 year old boys are the worst.  

So, on one hand, I looked up to the older boys and when I looked down, I was SURROUNDED by girls. My two younger sisters (with one that would come a year after this memory) Madison and Gracie, Mckenzie and Bailey, who were other "cousins," My real cousins, Anna, Emily, Delaney and the list goes on. As the oldest female in a gaggle of gals, there's a lot of pressure to perform. As a 15 year old trying to figure out what hormones were and WILL I LAND MY BACK HAND SPRING AT THE PEP RALLY IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE SCHOOL!?!?! I had to constantly evaluate which little eyes were following me and what I was doing to shape their view of a big sister/cousin. Here lies the pressure to be perfect and not make mistakes. One of the many lies I believed. 

My mom and I stood outside of Moe's house (Mckenzie's mom) as she scolded me for being on my Nokia playing "Snake" the whole time we were over there instead of engaging with the kids. She looked at me and said, "You know, there's going to be a reason for all of these little girls looking up to you. God made it that way for a reason." To that I replied,"But I HATE girls!!" And my mom, being my mom, said, "Well, get over it." 

Turns out, like most lessons I've learned in my adult life, she was right. The more younger girls I meet, the more my entire heart latches on to them and doesn't let go, wishing they would learn from my mistakes, which I made PLENTY of so JUST ASK BEFORE YOU DO SOMETHING DUMB. I've already tripped over that log, don't do it again for goodness sake! But I seem to be a better big sister to strangers because Madison doesn't speak to me due to an ex boyfriend of hers who was the bleeping worst painting a distorted image of me in her head and the rest of the gaggle are great, but I suck at keeping up with them because high school life is so hard to keep track of! I still love them all and my heart expanded, as God intended through Unveiled, to SO many young girls. It may sound silly, but as Mom & God proved, I feel a calling as a big sister. I'm not perfect, but I've made the mistakes already and I'm happy to share the lies I believed, how I overcame them and why just because a guy likes you, doesn't mean you have to date him... 

P.S.- My devotional that should be coming out this summer, is dedicated to all of my little sisters in the world, xo. 

"Freedom"

I'll never forget a moment with Jesus, two days after I experienced my first real heartbreak. It was one of those lose your appetite, can't get out of bed, questioning your entire future kind of heartbreaks and it was so incredibly painful. However, because God is good, He reminded me of some things. 

I was driving around Nashville, seeing all of the familiar places that suddenly had memories like ghosts dancing around them, as I faced a new reality.

Remembering that the only way to heal is with Jesus, I turned on worship music and all of the sudden I began weeping. It was like breaking the silence of sadness with worship broke the enemy’s lies and a river washed over me. I lost my words and all I could do was say, "Freedom." As I pulled over because my own tears clouded my vision, "Freedom" was the only word I could muster and my arms seemed to raise themselves without my knowledge (good thing I pulled over!) and for a solid 5 minutes, I repeated, "Freedom."

Freedom from being mistreated and manipulated. Freedom from my old self.

Freedom from the grip of negative comments on social media.

You see, unhealthy relationships lead to unhealthy heartbreak and the only way to break that is with Jesus and His radical healing. As I type this I glance down at my ring finger where a shiny diamond sits as proof of God's healing and ultimately God's promise and plan for my life unfolding with a healthy, God-centered relationship to my future, super handsome husband. ;)

FREEDOM IN JESUS.

I felt like my heart was perfectly articulating what my whole body was feeling and when Jesus moves, He moves in such a might and powerful way, some times you don't even know what's happening. 

After that day I was so alive in Christ, I was a completely new person and it was the most refreshing experience I've ever felt. Just me & Jesus, driving around Nashville. 

I'll never forget that day.. and all I could say was "FREEDOM."

Morning Routine

I've been asked once or twice about how to do my hair and make up, which I honestly don't know well enough to do a tutorial ha, but the other day I was asked about my morning routine, so I figured I'd chat about that today. 

I'm NOT a morning person by any means. If I don't sleep enough, it's just not a pretty sight, but alas I've developed a peaceful morning routine that I look forward to, no matter what time it is in the AM. 

I first make a Spark drink (Advocare product, holler if you want to try it or buy it!) which I drink instead of coffee. To get a warm, cozy feel in the morning, I sometimes drink hot water or a decaf tea if I'm in the mood. I put on my audio reading of the Bible (found on the YouVersion app) and check my planner for what I have to do that day. I usually feel fresh and most clear minded in the morning (after my routine) so I either write or plan what I need to accomplish in the near future. Writing your goals down will make you more likely to achieve them. 

Once I feel organized & prepared for the day, I hit the ground running with my To-Do list, whether it's work, the gym, writing, etc. I get to it! 

Happy Days, Y'all!

 

Hearts & Rockets,

Ainsley 

Grieving through engagement

I'm extremely impressed at how graceful my family is handling the loss of our favorite man in our attitude with each other. We're more patient with each other and over all just closer together, which is such a blessing. 

But, I have to confess, all of this wedding planning has a grey cloud looming over it with Poppa gone. I know he's in heaven with Jesus and that's amazing and I know all of the things people say to try and show me a silver lining, but the bottom line is that he won't be at my wedding and that's devastating to me. I want him there when I go try on my dress and for all of the details. I want him to do his mumble and point thing when he reluctantly nods yes to me asking for something ;). 

I'm sure my Grandmother doesn't do this, but since I'm so far away, it's easy for me to forget that he's gone...then a sobering memory brings me back to reality and it feels like a brick falls on my chest. 

Justin said he was the first person he would've asked permission from to marry me, which is true and I know Poppa loved Justin and that we're all taken care of because Justin is like The Standard Jr., but gosh it puts a lump in my throat. 

I'm sure, by now, I've talked about it so much that you know, but our plan is to go to a mountain in CO with our parents & siblings (& Grandmother) for our tiny ceremony, then have a big reception at the house later, and I can't help but hear the song below as I imagine us all there, remembering Pop, up on that mountain. 

Thanks, Vince Gill. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jXrmAKBBTU

Engagement Illusion

I guess I always imagined that when I would reach the point of someone asking for my hand in marriage, I'd have a lot more figured out than I do. Maybe he thought the same thing to be honest! ha. I imagined that I'd feel "put together" and "right on track" with where I'm headed and what I'm doing. Truthfully, I'm more daunted than ever with what's ahead as far as creating a non-profit, writing and having a giant dream but not knowing the step ahead of me. The butterflies and rainbows did happen in the moment when Justin got on one knee, but no one tells you that afterwards, you don't suddenly feel like Cinderella post Fairy Godmother. (thanks, Disney.)  

Don't get me wrong, I'm so happy and joyful and fuzzy, but at the same time I'm planning a wedding and building a career and living in NYC... It's a bit overwhelming! 

The main point I want to make is that Prince Charming is an illusion of what life should be all about. I love Justin more than anyone, but I wouldn't even be able to love him if I didn't love Jesus and in turn, myself. It's ONLY through faith and God's grace that I'm able to love him, have a peace about the future and not be a panicking maniac. Jesus is the real MVP in this life & I encourage you to focus more on Him and less on the romanticized idea of any earthly fulfillment. Also, make sure your future man understands that Jesus is #1 in your dream life. I'm so thankful that Justin knows the power and love of Jesus and His sovereignty in our lives. 

Cheers to the future! 

-AB