Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ode to Our Apartment.

This was written about a year ago when we were moving into our house. I found it sitting in my drafts, so it's about time it was posted. It definitely got the tears flowing. 

Ode to Our Apartment

O, Apartment, how I have loved thee.

You were our first place. Our first home.

Where I cooked for Jordan for the first time.

Where I spent my first year and a half of learning how to be a wife.

Having people over. Christmas party. Movie nights. Bible study. Game nights. Super Bowl. Birthdays.

Your cabinets housed my first pots, pans, and dishes. The nice salad spinner that I have yet to use.

Your one bedroom had one window that looked out onto our screened in porch surrounded by trees and let in no light at all. It was excellent for sleeping. Not for waking up. I don’t know how we’ll get used to having any sort of light in our bedroom but we’ll try. There is no strength of black-out curtains that could match your darkness.

That bedroom also welcomed our furniture that has been passed down four generations. I bet my great-grandparents never knew how useful and special those pieces would become.

Your living room was home to the couch and chairs that belonged to Jordan’s Grandpa Bill. Another person that you were privileged to have a part of in your living space.

Your bathroom was where we spent many mornings getting ready and evenings ending the day – sharing the sink, writing messages on the mirror, and taking up all of the counter space (with MY stuff).

Your laundry room and thin floors caused the lady below us to hate us. I hope your next inhabitants will have better neighbor relations.

Your empty space above us was a lovely home for a few squirrels for a while. Now they can have a party and no one will hear them or care. (Until someone else moves in.)

It was with you that we played "Body, Body" with for the first time. (A game that is often called "Murder" by others.) With at least 15 people in your cramped space, it was almost impossible to guess who the murderer was. I'm sorry that the lady below put an end to that game rather quickly and we had to play elsewhere.

It was with you that Jordan had the idea to have a "sleepover" in the living room. We moved our mattress to your living room floor, ate snacks, watched a movie, stayed up late and laughed. Only to be woken up early by blinding light coming through your windows that we were not used to.

Your kitchen was where I made my favorite dish of cajun chicken pasta for the first time. It had neither enough cajun nor chicken, but Jordan thought it was delicious.

It was with you that I experienced my first (and likely my last) earthquake. The pictures almost fell off the walls.

Your wall hosted our Jesse Tree for the first time, and my small amount of Christmas decorations took up plenty of room in your tiny space. I thought it was beautiful. It was.

It was with you that we both had to take care of each other in sickness for the first time. Where we fought for the first time. Where we jumped up and down hugging each other when Austin Rivers made that famous last second shot. Where Jordan set up the card table on my birthday for us to play Monopoly Deal. Where we drank Cookout milkshakes. Where we started at Season One of The Office just so we could watch them all together in order. Where we prayed together, cried out to the Lord together in difficult times, and praised Him every day.

I'm sorry to say that with you I often had a case of the somedays.

But it's funny. Now I look back on you fondly, sad to leave you behind. Fearful to move on from your comfort and familiarity. I know we will miss you, dear Apartment. You have served us well. We are thankful for the Lord providing you just for us.

And we will never forget our very first place.




These pictures are from when we were moving - so that's why there's stuff everywhere!











Ashley

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Marriage Isn't Everything.

Y'all know I love marriage. You know I love to talk about it. (Hence the blog name Christian Wife Life). You KNOW I love how it's a beautiful picture of the gospel. And I hope it's obvious that I adore my husband.


BUT...marriage isn't everything.

While one of my biggest goals of this blog is to encourage fellow believers in marriage and talk about the journey of learning to be a godly wife (through grace), that doesn't mean it's the best thing you can do in life. It doesn't mean that your top aspiration as a woman should be marriage and nothing else. Not. At. All.

It's good to talk about those things. It's COMMANDED to talk about those things. (Titus 2:3-5

But the most important goal in life? Whether you're married, single, divorced, widowed, dating, separated, engaged, it's complicated (okay now I'm just listing Facebook relationship statuses)....is to glorify God and make much of Jesus Christ as a redeemed, forgiven, renewed woman covered in grace. 

You, yes YOU, were put on earth RIGHT now for THIS time you are in. It is no mistake, no accident. You are loved, you are made by God, you are given your talents, quirks, qualities, and attributes in a completely unique way. God sent His Son Jesus Christ for us in spite of our brokenness and faults. (Rom. 5:8) We could NEVER be perfect, but Jesus was. We don't have to perform or do a list of good deeds to earn His love or a ticket to heaven. (Titus 3:4-6Eph. 2:8-9) All we have to do is accept His free gift of forgiveness and salvation and follow Him. (Matt. 16:24-26) We get to have a relationship with Him NOW because of this gift! And then spend eternity with God too. Wow. Dwell on this. Remind yourself of it EVERY DAY.

You know what else we don't have to do to please God?
Get married.

I think we (believers) put marriage on a pedestal sometimes. And while it's a good thing - something that can honor God greatly - it's not the end-all be-all of a Christian woman's life.

Single women: There is nothing wrong with you because you're not married! (There are plenty of things wrong with all of us because we're all sinners, but singleness in itself is not one of them.) You can serve and glorify the Lord just as you are. Married women and single women can serve together; we don't have to separate into different groups.

Singleness doesn't equal "a time of waiting". Yes, God does give us times of waiting, but that doesn't mean every single girl is in one right now. These times can be at ANY point in our lives. God is refining and shaping your life through the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit while you are single OR married.

When you're single, you should focus on loving the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul. (Matt. 22:37-38) And when you're married you should focus on..... the same thing! That doesn't change! Priorities after that first one may change, but the number one stays the same. 

This brings me to wives and how we look at marriage.

Sometimes I tend to think of marriage as something that is just for my enjoyment. Ahhhh, love, isn't it great? Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it....a huge blow to my ego? Yes. All of the above. Going back to that #1 goal - the glory of God - marriage is no different. Therefore, marriage should happen to make much of Jesus.

I am speaking from my own experience - marriage is sanctifying process. God uses it to refine me, that's for sure. When I look at my husband and think, "Isn't he cute? What can he do for ME? How can he please ME?" I get a huge reality check. Marriage is a prime opportunity to put the second most important goal into practice - loving others. Putting another's needs above my own. (Matt. 22:39) It's not to be taken lightly. 

When I got married, I started noticing things about myself that I hadn't before - I like Ramen noodles too much. I leave dishes in the sink too long. I stay up too late. I procrastinate way too much. I'm SELFISH. I can be a really bad communicator. I can be a horribly whiny girl. I'm messy. (Oh wait, I already knew that one...)

God is using marriage to make me LESS selfish. To challenge me. To point out my brokenness even more and show me my dire need for a Savior. To help me practice self-sacrificing love, forgiveness, service, respect. To show me that although I think my husband is the most amazing man in the world, he's not perfect. He will disappoint me because he's human and a sinner as well. And honestly - learning those things is NOT fun. But I'm not married just for fun. I'm married to glorify God.

You're married to glorify God.

You're single to glorify God.

You're in whatever state you are in currently to glorify God.

THAT is everything.

Ashley

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Vintage Baby Shower!

I hosted a baby shower for one of my dear friends back in July at our church. It was a lot of work but fun to do, especially because we have the same kind of decorating style - vintage/shabby chic! So I knew I wanted to incorporate that into the shower. 

A lot of the decorations came from my home and my mother's home, so it was nice not to have to go buy all of the decor. The ladies at our church brought different food items so I didn't really have to worry about that. I just took care of the cake - yum! (Made by Carlie C's - NOT me, haha.)

My goal was to use a lot of coral and mint, but just know if you want to use those colors that it is VERY hard to find exact shades that match. You can just do what I did and incorporate variations of coral, mint, pink, peach, and aqua! It all flows together beautifully in my opinion, especially with a mixture of shades and textures. 

Hope you enjoy the pictures!


To start off, here is that aforementioned 10 layer chocolate cake by Carlie C's. SO good. The platter and cake plate are from Target this past spring. You can find them sitting on my kitchen table on an every day basis. :) The cake topper goes with the pennant banner below and is from the Etsy shop HEMdesign. I was so pleased with my purchases from that shop! 




The chalkboard is made from a vintage crib by Kim Woodall whose pieces you can find at Suzanna's Antiques in Raleigh


I made the name banner with scrapbook paper from HomeGoods, a hole puncher, and twine. SO easy and quick. 

The aqua and coral fabrics you see in the pics are from a thrift store. Basically my mom is a genius and helped me figure out how to add the colors in while also covering up the stains on the wall. :) That coral fabric behind the chalkboard on the window ledge is a SCARF with the tassels tucked under. Like I said, she's a genius. 


The lace around the jars is ribbon from Michael's that I hot glued - but not to the jars. That way they slip right off and can be used again later!



The puffs hanging from the ceiling are Martha Stewart brand from AC Moore.



Antique scales, jars from Target, burlap balls from TJ Maxx. Psalm 127:3-5 is what Sydney's husband read at church when they announced they were expecting. So sweet.

Also a hand painted ceramic booty by my Nanny. :)


Gorgeous wooden monogram from Thanks A Latte in Holly Springs. That was my gift to Lilly!


I made this corsage with a burlap flower, small fabric flower, and burlap ribbon all from Joann's. I also added leftover lace from Michael's that I used for the jars. I VERY easily hot glued this stuff together and to a pin. It was seriously not hard in the least bit and anyone can do it.


The picture above is how it all happened! Hee hee. :)






Me after my mom helped me set up. Yes, I kinda matched the decor, haha.


The beautiful mama Sydney!


One of my bestest friends! So thankful for her!






Ashley

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Influence Conference Meet and Greet!

HEYYYY, y'all! 


I am SO pumped for the Influence Conference, as I previously mentioned. Today there is a link-up for all of the attendees to see each other and get internet introduced before we are introduced IN PERSON. (!!!)
If you don't know me already - I'm Ashley Shelley. Aka @ashleyshellz. I'm coming from Raleigh, North Carolina!

I'm a newbie to the conference and I'm rooming with a few other newbies - ErinCourtney, and Megan - who I can't wait to meet face to face and hang out and probably not get much sleep and be nervous/excited together. :) I know the Lord has me with them for a reason and is going to use them in awesome ways in my life.

Two things I'll be sure to have packed in my bag:
  • I hope I'll have the new iPhone by then...I've been due for an update for a while now and have been waiting for the release. (They're announcing it later today!) The updated camera for some Instamadness will be necessary.
  • Leggings and a long sweater. I am SO EAGER to wear this kind of outfit and I'm pretty sure it will be impossible down here for all of September (it's in the 90s today) so I'm hoping for cooler weather. I wanna be cozy and comfy! Oh and northerners - "cold" to me is different than "cold" to you so I may look crazy bundled up but whatev.
Two things I'm looking forward to:
  • I cannot WAIT to soak up all that will be taught. These speakers love the Lord deeply and share that with the world in their online ventures and that's exactly what I want. I am going to be jotting down notes at 124 mph. I can't even pick a session that I'm looking forward to the most because they all sound so amazing. It'll be an amazing mix of gospel + gospel in blogging. 
  • Meeting all of the lovely ladies I admire so much is going to be incredible. I'm probably going to be in shock as I take in all of the beauty and talent surrounding me! I'm so giddy just thinking about it. :)
A few warnings about me:
  • I have a Southern accent. This seems obvious since I'm from NC, but whenever I'm up north people are usually taken aback at first.
  • I can be a little closed off at first because I'm not a fan of small talk and I'm pretty introverted, but once I get more comfortable I can be easier to talk to. I think. I hope?
  • I feel like I can't hear what people say more often than others experience. You would not believe the amount of times I have to get my husband Jordan to repeat something in a day and I'm sure it drives him crazy. I frequently have to just smile and nod at church or at large gatherings. Maybe I should get this checked, but in the meantime I will probably get you to repeat your name/blog/whatever you just said.
I'm praying for the rest of the attendees, for the speakers, and for everything that's going on in preparation! The Lord is going to work in mighty ways there - of this I am SURE.

Speaking of praying, I'm gonna go through every attendee who links up and pray for them individually. This might take a while so I better get started...

Love y'all already. :)

Ashley

Friday, September 6, 2013

Strong Food Opinions and My Relationship with Coffee.

People who really know me know that I have very specific opinions when it comes to food and drink. Here are just a few of the many that stand out and are common knowledge in my circle of family and friends:
  • I hate all doughnut related items - funnel cakes, honey buns, cinnamon rolls, basically all pastries. Hate them, don't want to taste them/smell them/see them. 
  • I highly dislike hot dogs
  • I am not a fan of lemon flavored things unless it is lemonade. One of the worst food experiences is when I go to eat what I think is a vanilla cupcake and discover it is actually lemon. Since that has happened to me far too many times, now if I am in a place where there are ambiguous cupcakes you will find me sniffing them before I touch them. If it smells like lemon at ALL, I run. 
  • I would rather not have anything pumpkin-related. I like the smell, not the taste. (Please re-visit this post concerning fall decor for more information on my relationship with pumpkins.)
  • I say no to raisins. Oatmeal raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are another mean food trick.
  • Coke > Pepsi. Diet Coke >>>> Diet Pepsi. BUT, Wild Cherry Pepsi > Cherry Coke. I know, this is weird. (I feel like I'm betraying NC, because we are the home of Pepsi. So at least I like one Pepsi product.)
  • I am all about the icing when it comes to cake - thick, rich, buttercream is my jam. But I'd honestly rather have a cupcake than cake...even though it's just cake in cup form. Why is that??
  • And the last one for today - I have never, ever liked any drop of coffee taste in anything ever.
That's where I need to make an announcement. 

There have been some changes in my life.

Concerning coffee.

I ACTUALLY ALMOST LIKE IT NOW.

Wow, it feels so weird to share that. But it's true. I have always been that person who can taste the tiniest bit of coffee flavor no matter how chocolatey a drink is. But this summer, on July 23, 2013, that all changed.

My cousin Shuford (you may have heard of him, he's awesome) convinced me to try a mocha frappe from McDonald's when we were on our beach vacation. You know that thing that's basically a chocolate milkshake with a hint of coffee flavor? Yeah, that.

To make a long story short shorter, I'll just say that I ended up getting three throughout that week. At first the taste still bothered me a little bit, but by the third one I really, really liked it. Really. 

Which then led me to try a frozen mocha at my favorite Apex coffee shop Wake Zone Espresso. And at Thanks A Latte, my favorite in Holly Springs. Which then encouraged me to try the Java Chip frappuccino at Starbucks. 

And now that it's September, I moved on to the Salted Caramel Mocha at Starbucks.


And it's probably the best liquid I've ever put in my mouth.

I'm obsessed and could drink it every single day, multiple times a day. I'm in trouble. 

I still don't think I could drink a regular cup of coffee with just cream and sugar and especially not black, but it's progress. Progress that I honestly never wanted to make because I don't want to get hooked on coffee. (Isn't it amazing that I never drank coffee in college?) We don't have a coffee maker, Jordan doesn't like it, I'm just not ready for that. But we'll see where this journey takes me.

I'll keep you posted. 

Do you have foods/drinks that you've had an interesting relationship with? Did you have a coffee turning point in your life? Enlighten me. 
Ashley

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