Category Archives: BigSister Milestones

I Have an Agent!

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I’m excited to announce that I have signed on with Hartline Literary Agency!

I met Cyle Young, my new agent, at this year’s Florida Christian Writers Conference. I told him about the children’s books I’ve written as well as the book I’m writing for young women (Girls with Gusto). It turns out that Cyle writes in a lot of different genres, including children’s books. And he’s a pastor, which I think is a very neat combination.

I’m honored that Cyle has agreed to represent me on behalf of Hartline, and I believe that our hard work will result in publication. Everything I write is intended for God’s glory, and I trust that if God is giving me a message to share that He will pave the way for it to be successful. (See Isaiah 55:11.)

Thanks to all of you who continue to support me here at BigSisterKnows. Your comments, likes, shares, and your prayers are appreciated more than you know. Please continue to pray for guidance, wisdom, and favor—for me and for Hartline.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NAS

~Ashley

2016 Liebster Award!

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Nominated in 2016 by Robin Baldwin of the Words for Life blog.

 

In 2016, one of my fellow bloggers, Robin Baldwin of Words for Life, nominated me for the Liebster Award! This award is passed on from one blogger to another as a way of encouraging them to keep on writing. I am very grateful to Robin for considering me for this!

As a nominee, I have to answer Robin’s questions below, nominate other new bloggers (with no more than 500 followers), and then ask those bloggers questions of my own.

The following are my answers to Robin’s questions:

  1. Why do you write?

The more I learn about God, the more I feel compelled to share it with the world. I simply can’t not write. (Yes, that was an intentional double-negative. As a writer, I take liberties from time to time.)

  1. What one thing do you want to do to leave the world a better place?

I want to help others develop a closer relationship with Jesus, whether that’s through example, personal discussions, or my writings.

  1. Who inspires you? Why?

My late grandmother, Verona Kirby. She was the most godly woman I have ever known. All of us who knew her were blessed because of it.

  1. What makes you laugh?

Cat videos. No matter how rough my day was, a crazy cat video will have me tearfully laughing in no time flat.

  1. If you could write a letter to your younger self, what advice would you give?

You are special, and you are loved. You don’t have to lower your standards for anyone.

  1. Who is your favorite author? Why?

Dean Koontz is an unbelievable author! His thrillers are terrifying, but it’s his imagery that leaves me shaking my head. What impresses me most, though, is that his books usually contain a message of hope. (Read The Face if you’re really daring and don’t care to sleep for a night or two.)

  1. What book made you become a lifelong reader?

I have to pick two: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. I remember thinking, “Now, this is a book!” (I’m pretty sure I was in fifth grade when I read Crichton’s, and I’ve been hooked on adventure books ever since.)

  1. What life experience humbled you?

God recently led me away from a successful career in risk management to work in a management / support capacity for a local business. Through this, I’ve learned not only be obedient but to get excited with whatever God wants to do through me. His way is always better than mine!

  1. What do you do for fun (besides writing)?

I love photography! For me, the fun is capturing that perfect moment in nature, like a fuzzy bumblebee perched delicately on a flower. There’s so much beauty, but a perfect photo is only framed for a moment. To capture that on camera is pure magic.

  1. What is your favorite quote?

“I want to be the kind of woman that, when my feet hit the floor in the morning, the enemy says, ‘Oh no! She’s up.’”

  1. What is your favorite blog post that you wrote? Why?

I really liked “The Most Lavish Gift of All,” which I posted in December 2016. In it, I wrote about a homeless man I had watched spend a large sum of money on a Christmas gift for his sister. Through this simple but generous act, God made me realize that His love is lavish; He does not budget or skimp on us. It was a great reminder, and I hope the blog blessed others as much as the lesson blessed me.

No man is an island. If you’re looking for great blogs to read, here are three of my favorites:

And for beautiful poetry, don’t forget to check out Robin’s site at Words for Life.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your feedback.


My questions to those I’m nominating:

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?
  2. Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you get “unstuck”?
  3. Is there a writing rule that you like to break from time to time? If so, what is it?
  4. Most blogs have a theme. Do you have a topic you’d like to write about that doesn’t fit within your theme?
  5. Finish this sentence: I wish I were more _____.
  6. Do you write outside of your blog, such as news articles or books? Tell us about it.
  7. Why did you first start your blog?

I’m Teaching a Seminar!

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The Desire

It started when I was a teenager. I would lie awake at night and imagine myself teaching a group of students about something very important. I was engaging and funny—but not silly—and by the end of the presentation, I knew I had a made a difference.

When I told my mom about it, she assured me that it was not common for people to fantasize about teaching in front of large groups. It figures; I never seemed to do anything normal. But it did make me wonder if this was a “God thing:” something He was laying on my heart.

While I don’t feel called to be a full-time teacher, I still find myself dreaming of teaching, speaking, and instructing on some level. (I have utmost respect for all our amazing teachers and cannot fathom how they have the patience to persevere in light of school politics and standardized testing. May God bless you!)

 

The Reality

Finally, this year, I’ll see this vision start to become a reality. I will be teaching my first seminar at the Tallahassee Christian College and Training Center (my alma mater) on November 19, 2016!

The class, “Navigating Your Spiritual Journey,” is based on all the research I’ve done as I continue to write my book, Girls with Gusto. We’ll dive into what I call the eight major steps of the spiritual journey, from salvation to becoming the person God made us to be. This course will be heavily based on Scripture and, since we’ll be talking about the spiritual journey in general, it will be applicable for both guys and gals, from new believers to the seasoned Bible student.

As I prepare for this class, I’m beginning to realize something important. These things God places on our hearts aren’t just our “imagination;” they aren’t “possible outcomes” that we can choose to embrace or deny. They’re words from God that He has spoken over us and imprinted on our hearts. The Bible says that God’s Word goes forth and accomplishes what He desires; it does not return to Him void. (See Isaiah 55:11.) Yes, this primarily refers to God’s Word as captured in the Bible, but it also applies to words He speaks over us directly, in the here and now.

 

May Your Dreams Become Reality

Do you have a vision of yourself teaching, preaching, singing, writing, healing, counseling, etc.? Have you always had a strong or unusual desire to go to a different city or country, to be involved a particular ministry, or to change careers entirely? Do you have an idea for an invention, a new product, or a business?

Seek the Lord! If He put this desire on your heart, He means to fulfill it! (See Proverbs 37:4.) You might have to wait nearly twenty years like I have, but when it happens, you know it’s God’s doing, and you can move forward without hesitation.

May God put you in the center of His will, and may He accomplish what He set out to do with you and through you.


If you’re in the Tallahassee area, please join us for the seminar! Here are the details:

When: Saturday, 11/19/2016, from 9am-1pm
Cost: $15 for personal growth or $25 for .25 semester credit
What to bring: Your Bible and a notebook to write in.

Our goal with this class is to understand the layout of our spiritual journey so we can grow closer to the Lord and become the person He wants us to be. By the end of the class, you’ll be able to determine where you on your journey, what steps are still in front of you, and how you can continue to press forward.

Course Correction – A New Beginning

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A box I packed on the day God set me on a new course. I just love the prophetic message of the sign I packed!

A box I packed on the day God set me on a new course. I just love the prophetic message of the sign I packed (Always Have Faith)!

 

I like to know where I’m going. If it’s a long trip to somewhere new, I still print out the directions so I can see all the different turns I’ll need to take along the way. It gives me a sense of security, as if I have more control over the situation.

As much as we would like Him to, God doesn’t give us a turn-by-turn listing of all the major events and crossroads we’ll encounter in our lives, nor does He tell us in advance which way we’ll need to go when we get there. Instead, He operates more like the map app I have on my phone, telling me what to do right before I need to do it. (“Turn right in 800 yards,” says the calm British voice. “Make a u-turn,” says the now-frustrated British voice when I miss my turn.)

Last month, God surprised me when He set a new course for my life. It seemed like I had been dropped out of an airplane unexpectedly, only to realize that I had been wearing a parachute the whole time. Or perhaps it was more like I had to brake sharply in the middle of the interstate during rush hour, only to drive over the median to head in the opposite direction. It was definitely something like that.

 

Slamming the Brakes

I graduated with a degree in Risk Management and Insurance in 2003. Although I’ve held several positions since then, I thought I had finally settled on my true career path two years ago when I landed a great job as an enterprise risk analyst with an insurance company. My boss was fantastic, the benefits were good, and life was great.

But then things changed at work, and it wasn’t so great anymore. I prayed about it and figured God would either change the situation or change my heart about it; at least, that’s what He had done in the past. Instead, God had something else in mind.

It all culminated one afternoon when I was cleaning out my office so I could move to another location. I had been praying all day for God’s wisdom and guidance, and I felt His Spirit with me. As I finished wiping the white board, I heard Him clearly say, “It’s a clean slate, isn’t it?” Instantly, I knew that He was calling me away from my job, my paycheck, my benefits, and my security, and He was calling me toward…something unknown. All I could say in return to God’s question was, “Yes. Yes, it is a clean slate.” That’s how I acknowledged what God already knew—that I would follow Him to somewhere new.

 

Turning Around

I spoke with my husband, Robby, and he supported a change, even though we didn’t quite know what that would entail. (Thank God for a husband who listens to the Lord and is willing to follow Him!) It wasn’t long before I put out a few feelers: “Do you know anyone hiring? I’m looking for a new job.” I even put my resume online, but nothing felt “right.”

Within a couple days, I heard God clearly tell me to reach out to Burke, someone I had served with on the board of my Christian College. Throughout the day, God strongly urged me to reach out to Burke so, as soon as I could get my resume together, I emailed it to him. I didn’t know if he had any openings in his small business, but I explained that God led me to reach out to him.

Burke replied within only a few minutes. He said he was in the process of expanding his promotions business and that his plan involved the opening of a café and Christian gift store. He had already decided to reach out to me to see if I wanted to be a part of his new venture. We were so amazed that God had put us together for His purpose, we began to move forward unquestioningly!

 

On a New Course!

That day in my office, God (my spiritual GPS) told me to “Stop,” so I quit my risk analyst job at the end of August. God then told me to “Take the next right,” and I started working with Burke in his business.

This has been an amazing experience, and I’ve truly enjoyed my new position. I’ll be sure to share more with you in an upcoming blog. However, the point here is that I didn’t know how these turns would work out; I just had to step out on faith. That’s how God wants us to live our lives—in complete surrender to Him. If we knew what our future holds, we wouldn’t have that same faith; we’d just have knowledge, which could easily become an idol.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16-17 NAS)  

I don’t know when God will direct me to take a sharp turn again, or even how far away I am from my ultimate destination. But I trust that God can see the full journey ahead of me, and He’ll get me where I need to be if I just follow His guidance each step of the way.

 

Have You Taken a Turn?

Every day, I hear more stories of God calling people to new adventures. Do you have a story? Please share it with us in a comment to encourage other readers in the faith.

Give Yourself a Break!

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Photo by Ashley L. Jones, 2016

I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve been going through a rough patch lately. Thankfully, God has taught me something that’s made a big difference in how I approach difficulties: I’ve learned that we shouldn’t feel guilty about being stressed!

In my latest blog, hosted on the site LiftUpYourDay.com, I talk about the difference between worry and stress.

I think the problem for Christians is that we confuse stress with doubt or worry. Doubt is a lack of belief, and worry is the result of doubting God. Stress, on the other hand, is a physiological response to a stimulus—whether negative (like a car accident) or positive (like planning a wedding)—that disturbs or interferes with our normal equilibrium (Dictionary.com).

When we’re stressed, it just means we’re going through something. It doesn’t mean we trust God any less, so there’s no reason to feel guilty about it.

We’re all going through something and, odds are, it’s adding stress to our lives. So, do something for yourself today and check out my blog, Give Yourself a Break.

 


I’m excited to report that I am now a regular contributor on LiftUpYourDay.com! This means I will have monthly blogs posted on their site, right alongside great bloggers and writers like my friends Michelle Medlock Adams and Jann W. Martin.

I’ll be sure to share the links to those posts here so you don’t miss anything. When you click over to their site, take some time to check out other encouraging words to lift up your day.

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment or email me through the Contact Big Sister link. Thanks so much for your support!