Girl Porn.

Did you know_.png

We all know that porn is a romance killer that effects the brain, heart and world. We know that men are a huge target for these productions and though both men and women have struggled with an addiction to what we know as porn, it’s mainly a struggle for males. Roll with me on this. You’ll see where I’m going.  

Men are a more physical driven gender and it creates an unfair physical expectation that women just can’t measure up to because fantasy isn’t real life. It’s impossible for men to expect women to measure up to the fake reality of sex that is being presented to them. Perfect hair and make up, lighting, etc. is just ridiculous and incredibly damaging to a relationship. 

Now, travel with me to the girl’s mind or emotions, rather. While men are a more physical driven gender, women are a more emotional driven gender, right? We want to be pined after, wined and dined. We want to hear how beautiful we are and how much we mean to you. My favorite thing my husband does is write me little love notes, while his favorite thing I do for him is scratch his back or hold his hand or, since we are married, have sex (sorry mom, but there’s only one way to get grandchildren).

So I have this theory. When we watch The Notebook and see Ally reject Noah, only for him to build her dream house and wait on her forever or when we watch A Walk To Remember and see the cool guy abandon all of his friends to pursue a girl with a terminal illness who happens to be a super nerd at school, it all just pumps unrealistic expectations in our minds on how a guy should fulfill our emotional needs. On Friends when Ross rushes over the airport to stop Rachel, THAT IS NOT REAL LIFE. In real life, Noah would have moved on because his pride would not have let him go so deep into that hole and it’s kind of weird that he built this whole house for Ally who was engaged to another man! 

Chick flick movies… are porn for girls. Girl porn. Men do not do the insanely romantic things that the movie productions show you. Trust me, I have an amazing man and it just doesn’t cross their minds to do ridiculous stunts or gestures like Hollywood portrays. Does he do sweet things? yes, of course, but it would be so unfair for me to think, “I wonder what he will do for my birthday this year… surprise me with a hot air balloon ride and a new puppy after we got into a big fight the night before?” No! We are human and it’s unfair for me to expect these things of him because he won’t measure up and I will constantly be disappointed! Just like I will disappoint him if he puts those physical expectations on me. 

I remember after I watched a chick flick a few years ago, I thought of Justin and resented him a little bit for not being that guy on the screen. When I thought about what it was doing to my mind, I immediately stopped watching those movies or guarding my heart when I would watch them, recognizing that they are fiction and my heart is being cared for just fine. 

I’m not saying I’ve never watched a chick flick and I’m not saying I won’t ever again, but when I’m watching This Is Us, I have to constantly remind myself, “This is a show, not real life.” 

I’m just saying… watch out for the unrealistic expectations you’re putting on your significant other… 

 

Happy Birthday H & R!

12 Things I love about Hearts & Rockets...

For every month Hearts & Rockets has existed, I want to share what gives me the warm and fuzzies...

1. Your book selfies! Hands down my very favorite thing about sharing this book with yall!

2. It's not in my comfort zone. I love writing and creating, but this was a whole new thing to tackle and I love that it challenged me.

3. It's super cute. I took the cover photo in Colorado (my favorite place duh) and my best friend Whitney designed everything. Isn't she amazing!?

4. When you give a copy to someone else. Sharing is caring and Jesus shared so we should too.

5. It chronicles my journey of growth in my personal and spiritual life. It's so encouraging to look back on passages and see how things have come full circle!  

6. The simple fact that I can say "I am an author"  - that's pretty cool 

7.  I love that it's for anyone in a season of change or transition. Generally speaking, I would recommend it for teens or young adults, but really, the Lord can speak to us in any stage of life through anything!  

8.  The idea of Hearts and Rockets has been my thing since I graduated high school and I love that it's still something I cling to. Loving hard and shooting for the stars. 

9. It's easy to travel with. I love bringing books on planes but when they're heavy, it's harder to justify bringing them. H&R is light and easy to bring with you.

10. It forced me to be vulnerable. 

11. I get to talk about it with you. Messages, emails and comments oh my! I love hearing your thoughts. 

12. I love celebrating its birthday! I can't believe it's already been a year! Thank you all for buying it and sharing your sweet words of encouragement with me!

The BCBG miracle

I was walking down 5th Ave. after a Barre Burn class. I was sweaty, had rosy cheeks with frazzled hair and no make up on. If you know me, you know that I can't walk past BCBG without just taking a peek, so in I went. After all, it was wedding season and maybe they had a white dress on sale for a shower or something?

I was greeted by Lexi who was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen. Her flawless black skin was framed by a low ponytail and the whitest smile appeared on her face. As she sorted items, she told me to let her know if I needed help with anything. 

I knew BCBG stylists work on commission, so I was adamant about finding my own items and not needing any help. Of course, when you show up in the frazzled state I was in, I wasn't a hot target for big spending anyway. 

I found a couple of items and made my way to the dressing room. She let me in and we made small talk. "I really don't need anything at all, I just love coming in so I decided to pop by." I asked her opinion on the first thing I tried on and she said that it was cute, but she thinks she has something that would work for my body type. I let her bring over a dress. She brought a long sleeve lace white dress that wasn't so impressive on the hanger but ended up fitting like a glove. As she brought some heels over and helped me put them on, she noticed my foot tattoo which reads Hebrews 11:1. She asked what the quote was and I told her the verse. Mind you, my first tattoo doesn't look that great. Some even think it's a barcode. The font is bleeding together and I'm the least proud of that one, but it's usually covered up. I said, "Oh it's just a Bible verse. Hebrews 11:1" She picked her head up and said, "Really? I have a favorite BIble verse!" This was NOT the response I'd heard before in NYC - most people just say "oh" and it gets awkward for a second.

She grabbed her phone and read it to me. I'm pretty sure she read an entire chapter but the more she read the more my spirit felt the Lord urge a conversation with Lexi. I asked her what it meant to her and she said, "Well, I found it as my very last option of hope. I recently hit rock bottom and it really makes me feel good." I replied, "I'm so sorry to hear that but I'm so glad you've found some hope! Do you, have a church here?" She shook her head no and another coworker walked up. "Hey Lex, you can go home now, I'll take over."  Apparently, her shift was over so I quickly asked if she'd like to come to church and got her number. After the new girl was SUPER pushy and salesy, I grabbed my dress and bolted.

Over text, Lexi agreed to come to church with me. "Hillsong at the PlayStation Theater, 10 am." On my way there, I asked the Lord, "She said she recently hit rock bottom. What is her rock bottom, Lord?" All I heard was "her mom". That wasn't much to work with but I said, "ok..." When I found my seat next to her during worship, I felt the urge to ask about her mom. I leaned over and said, "This might be really weird since we just met and I know worship is starting but is there something going on with your mom?" Her mouth dropped and her eyes got huge, total shock was written all over her face and I was so nervous I said something wrong. Tears started streaming down her face as she looked at me & said, "How did you know?" I started to stutter because now I'm in shock too and she wept, "She was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and doesn't have long to live. How did you know? How did you know?" I explained that the Lord just told me on my way to church and asked to pray for her.  At this point, mind you, I'm crying too so we are both crying, sitting down in our seats while everyone around us is standing in worship. It was a moment I'd never forget as we held hands and went to the throne room together.

We kept up over text for weeks to come and our schedules never allowed us to meet up again, sadly, a few months later, her mom passed, but Lexi found strength in the Lord and continues to find Bible verses she loves and talks to God. I randomly pop into BCBG when I can, but she was never there. It's mind blowing how the Lord will use you, even when you're not ready. 

So often I only feel like the Lord uses people who are put together and beautiful or are in an amazing place in their walk with Him, but not that day, yall! I'll never forget sweet Lexi and I pray for such incredible, unexpected encounters as that day in my life and in yours. I LOVE that the Lord was like, "Oh you don't feel like being a witness? Too bad, love ya here we go!" haha 

Look for an opportunity to share God's love, even when you feel too imperfect for the Lord to use you... 

 

 

(Spoiler: Turns out the dress Lexi picked is Justin's favorite dress of mine and the one I wore to find my wedding dress!) 

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.

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. 

 

 

IMG_5268.JPG

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

Inhale the good, exhale the bad.

May I start by saying that my brain has successfully turned to mush because when I was typing the title of this,  this is how it went:

"Inhale the good, outhale the bad. *wait* *backspace* exhale the bad."

Mush. 

Continuing to walk through grief during the holidays is such a whirlwind. Tears attack at any given moment with no warning. I wondered to myself how long I'm supposed to keep Poppa's picture on my phone background. Sometimes I see it and I smile, some times I'm too distracted with my task at hand to notice, and some times I look a little too long and a complete and total meltdown rises up and boils over. Luckily, I live in NYC and I don't seem that crazy when that happens, but on a a serious note... when is the time?

I don't want to rush the process. I want to properly go through the emotions and be sad that Poppa is gone and mad that he won't be at my future wedding and devastated that he won't meet my future children. My eyes are already raw from wiping them just thinking about the reality in that last sentence. My heart feels like a 500lb. weight is rested on it for the pain my sweet grandmother must feel. I truly can't imagine.

As we go through the holiday season, add an extra ounce of joy to pass around. You never know who needs it. 

(I realize I didn't write remotely what I meant to, but I'm keeping the title because of the great example of my brain mush as mentioned in the beginning. carry on.)