4 easy steps to guarantee a divorce

Friday, July 18, 2014

Me and The Mr. at our engagement photo shoot, 2011.

Marriage is hard work.

There's no attempt to deny the truth in that statement, and if you're not married or have never been please just take my word for it.

It can be full of fun, and smiles, and laughter and all that goodness, but it can also become what appears as a never-ending ball of tears, fears, and disappointment.
Fortunately, we live in the age of "upgrade the outdated"! So if you feel your marriage has reached its expiration date and you want to trade-in your spouse for one of the 2015 models that will be out shortly, follow these quick and simple steps toward gliding seamlessly into a divorce.

STEP ONE: Be selfish.
Think about yourself a lot. Put the majority of your energy into your own dreams and goals, and spend as little amount of time as you can asking your spouse about theirs. Criticize them for resting after a long day at work because they could be helping you out when they get home. Spend hours (two or more to really get the job done) doing office work at home. Make it known that your lunch breaks and weekends are reserved to catch up on even more work, or spend time with colleagues or people you are mentoring. All other breaks are reserved for you to have your own quiet time so you can refocus on your own peace of mind before tackling your next project. Prepare meals only for yourself, or pick up fast food on your way home without checking to see if your spouse has eaten. Keep secrets from them, and make important family decisions about finances, travel, jobs, your living space, etc. without consulting them. Allow your concern with their emotions and struggles to strict limits because eventually they need to learn how to stand on their own two feet and not depend on you. After all, this is a marriage not a partnership.

STEP TWO: Fail to communicate.
Never communicate your feelings in a productive or respectful manner. Avoid eye-contact as much as you can when you two are together, and keep your responses to "yes", "no", and "I'm not sure", (synonyms for any of these phrases will also suffice). Make it very difficult to start conversations with yourself. Keep some sort of electronic device with you, like your cell phone, laptop, or tablet so you can also be communicating with someone else. Create an atmosphere that does not welcome their opinions. For example, cry the moment you feel you are being attacked or misunderstood, or better yet, become a complete brick wall so you can't receive any of their observations about the negative parts of you. Rarely explain your actions or decisions. They aren't the boss of you! You're the man! You're not his slave! You can do what you want to do and if they have a problem with it it's probably because they don't trust you to make intelligent decisions on your own. And oh yea, switch back and forth from smiling to a placid demeanor quite often so they never know how you truly feel.

STEP THREE: Compare them to others.
Be sure you treat your husband poorly for not being like your dad, or pastor, or another man you admire. Express utter disappointment that your wife is not like your mother, or you ex, or the wife you dreamed of. Wish they dressed the way you want them to, instead of they way they've been dressing since you two met, and make sporadic comments about your displeasure with their appearance until they change. Extend them small amounts of grace because eventually they will get exhausted from trying to meet your demands and will hopefully run to a divorce attorney before they have a breakdown!

STEP FOUR: Tell God what you are going to do and what you refuse to do.
This is a big one! Pretending Jesus is the actual Lord over your life is key to getting a divorce. Pray to Him. Read His word. Share it with others. Hey, even make some note cards or get a cute journal to write things down in. Watch Bible study videos, or even make some of your own. But in the end, only do the parts that sit well with you. Don't step too far out of your comfort zone. Don't fully forgive, love, or reconcile with your spouse after an argument as the Word teaches us. Just tolerate their presence enough to avoid an argument. Blame your spouse for your shortcomings and God for allowing you to choose such an uncompromising life partner.

Now, I'm sure you have caught on that this entire post is satirical. And these are just a few things. I know "more serious" problems can occur like adultery and abuse, but I think it's so easy for us to blame the other person when things go wrong in our marriages.

I know I've done it.

While typing this, I tried to make sure I included a lot of things I know I've done myself. Give it a try. Re-read this post and mentally underline each action you know for a fact that you have been guilty of. If you underline any part of the final step, which I'm sure you will, then you certainly need to take some time to reevaluate your self-perception.

There will be times when you want to throw in the towel and sign the papers. And if some of us are really honest with ourselves, we emotionally checked-out of our marriages and signed fictional divorce papers ages ago. We may not have packed our bags and hit the road just yet, but we certainly aren't giving our all in our marriages and don't really plan to.

We're tired.

We feel like we've done enough.

We feel like we don't deserve to be treated unfairly, or unjustly, or unappreciated.

So, we're just going through the motions trying to honor vows that God knows we have already forsaken in our hearts.

So what do we do?


Let Him do it.

The more we try to do the worse it will get.

I recently read these beautifully honest words from an amazing woman that I'm blessed to have in my life:

"By the grace of God, we slowly started to put our marriage back together. It took both of us committing to the work of marriage to turn things around. And turn around they did! When I say that God made miracles happen in our lives, I mean it in the truest sense of those words. Miracles, people. The work of marriage is the best work I’ve ever done and work I want to do for as long as I live. No matter where you are or what you are feeling, I want you to know that Love is worth it. Love with a capital L! True Love is possible with God. It’s not about changing someone else. It starts with you. 'Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person, it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances.' – Rainer Maria Rilke.
I choose Love. Love never fails."
Amen and amen!
Maybe your marriage is over. Maybe there is no turning back from where you are currently.
But maybe, just maybe, God is about to use your simply magnanimous choice to try again to create a love story that will change the world. 

Ashley Danielle

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GIVEAWAY | Influence Network Lifetime Membership

It's a double-giveaway kind of Friday!

I'm excited to be able to offer y'all some cool goodies today from one of my favorite handmade shops and the most rewarding women's network I've ever belonged to.

First, Chamel of Chamel's Creations is blessing one of you with one of her lovely wristlets and another with beautiful necklace.

Not only am I impressed with the quality of her products, but I am in awe of the genuine way she loves God. She throws herself into her worship of Him, and has dedicated her business-life to giving women a practical (and fashionable) way to encourage themselves and others.

Enter below for a chance to snag one of these lovelies. The winners will be announced next week!

Chamel's Creations

Now, for the second giveaway!

If you follow me on any form of social media, then you have probably seen me mention The Influence Network before. It's a great way for women who have a heart for God to connect and encourage one another to grow even closer to Him while being a light for others via their online presence and in their day-to-day lives. Whether it be a blog, or a tweet, or a status update, or a new pic on Instagram, or the pinning of a recipe on Pinterest (that may or may not get cooked in real life), Influence is all about Christ. Through the basic membership, which I have, members are able to also take advantage of one free Influence class a month in addition to everything that comes along with it.

I have been blessed by several of these classes in more ways than I can count, and I am honored to be able to offer a LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP to one of you! This is a $200 value, people!

I would not be able to bring this giveaway to you without the help of some amazing bloggers! These ladies all have made this possible so make sure to check them out and show them some love.

Oh, and the lifetime membership includes the following: 10 free classes to take anytime Open Forums Weekly Free Resources Discipleship Groups Pursuit Groups One Free Monthly Class Extra Surprises!! So this is seriously the way to go, lifetime members receive their money's worth times 1,000 in my opinion! You get so much and the investment is well spent! The giveaway will run for one week, and all entries will be verified so play fair! We will email the winner on how to receive your membership upon the closing of the giveaway! Good luck!

Ashley Danielle

creating the perfect baby registry | this one's for my sister

Thursday, July 17, 2014

**NOTE: This post contains affiliate links**


My excitement in on one-thousand as I type this! My eldest sister and I are super-close and I have looked up to her for as long as I can remember. She was beyond helpful when I was pregnant with the princess last year, and I'm happy to be able to help her out as she gets ready to bring my first nephew into the world!
She blessed us all with my niece back in 2002, but has admitted that she hardly remembers anything about being pregnant or taking care of a newborn. When she first starting asking me questions about being pregnant and what to register for I chuckled, "Uh...you're acting like you haven't done this before!" In her defense, that was over twelve years ago and a lot has changed. My grandmother and I went with her to setup her registry at Target last weekend, but I figured what better way to share my little tid-bits of "new mama wisdom" with her than to do a quick post about my favs.
So, this one is for my sister.
...but you can read it too.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but your baby needs to eat and eating can get messy! Now, I was fortunate to be able to breast-feed Felicity until she was a little over five-months-old. However, she had to stay in the NICU for the first week of her life so I had to pump milk and take it to her twice a day. They provided little two-ounce bottles for me to freeze the milk in that connected to the pump, but she drank two of those with ease so using the five-ounce bottles worked much better. I would suggest you go ahead and register for larger bottles as well so you won't get caught off-guard when your little one's appetite begins to increase. Luckily, four eight-ounce bottles came with our Medela breast-pump so I didn't have to purchase bottles until she was a little over three-months-old.

Getting a great diaper bag is so important! I love the SoHo - Sage Diaper bag set because it basically has everything you need. I carry Felicity's larger bag when will be out of the house for a long period of time, and just throw the basics into her smaller bag for shorter trips. Getting one that also has a changing pad attached to it is wonderful even when you happen to be in an area that has one of those Koala tables that fold down from the wall. They aren't always the most sanitary tables, so having something to cover it with helps protect your little one from bacteria. Now, I guess I should mention to register for diapers and wipes here as well, but people will bring those anyway. If you know for a fact there is a particular brand you like, then you may want to simply mention that on the invitation. But most stores are great about exchanging unopened packages of diapers and wipes even if you do not have a receipt.
Felicity was born in December and it was unusually cold for our area. She also didn't sleep well unless she was swaddled very snuggly. I learned pretty quickly that with us having the heater running, the swaddle caused her to sweat so she wore her sleepers and onesies during the day, and then I'd change her into something a little cooler so she wouldn't overheat in her swaddle, which can be dangerous. I wouldn't recommend register for other types of clothing. People who want to but cutesie outfits for church or a day at the in-laws' will buy them whether you ask for them (or want them) or not! *wink* 
Speaking of swaddles, I was IN LOVE with the Infant SwaddleMe Organic Adjustable Infant Wrap. It kept her snug, but closed very easily with Velcro. Our princess was like a little Houdini and after so much time and concentration that went into the swaddling process, my husband would often look over two minutes later and see her little hand had broken free! We learned during our doula classes that babies sleep better when they cannot flap their arms and legs around when they wake up. This was so true with Felicity! The SwaddleMe gave a me a good half-hour of extra rest on any given day. I also adored her Aden + Anais swaddles. They were soft, beautiful and wide enough to wrap her perfectly.
If you plan to breastfeed, get a pump! I cannot stress enough how much my breast-pump helped me. I was blessed to receive the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote as a gift at my baby shower and it was a lifesaver. I was able to store more than a week's worth (about 120 oz.) of milk for her in the freezer, which helped once I returned to work. Some people are bothered by the sound electric pumps make, but I found it to be quite relaxing. If you can get one of these, do! If you don't feel comfortable asking for one, ask for gift cards to a store that sells them instead and then just use as many of them together as you can to help cut the amount you have to pay out of pocket.
BOPPY (nursing pillow):
Whether you are nursing or not, I feel like investing in a Boppy Pillow is a must! This may be the item I used the most outside of obvious things like bottles and bibs. Nursing Felicity at 2 a.m. was so much easier when my arms didn't have to work as heard to keep her latched on properly because I could allow her rest on the pillow. They come with interchangeable slip-covers that come off and can be easily tossed in the washer and dryer. We only had one slip-cover and it was more than enough.

Again, I was blessed to have the Graco Alano Classic Connect Travel System gifted to us. It isn't too heavy, and snaps in and out of the car easily. The Mr. likes to take walks around the neighborhood every now and then, and having a car seat that fits perfectly into a stroller made these trips a breeze! Plus, on those days when "maternity leave cabin fever" would set in, my other sister was great about driving me and Felicity to the mall to walk around and enjoy the day.

This just about wraps up my must-haves!

...oh, and did I fail to mention TODAY IS MY SISTER'S BURFDAY! WHOOP-WHOOP!

What were some of your "must-haves" as a new mom?

Ashley Danielle

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meet me in the A! | pinky promise conference 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

L to R: my bestie Amber, Heather Lindsey, me, and Amber James, Martina and Kelly of Pinky Promise - Mobile, AL

It's almost time!
Last year, me and a group of friends were blessed with the chance to attend to first Heart to Heart: Pinky Promise Conference in Atlanta, GA hosted by Heather Lindsey.

Now, I know people often return from Christian conferences on a spiritual high from the huge, eye-opening moments they experiences, which is the overall purpose of conferences anyway; you should leave even more amped to live for God than you were when you arrived.

But Heart to Heart did even more than that.

It wasn't a conference just filled with popular worship artists and some cute grab bags. This was a weekend filled with purpose. The guest speakers were open with us about their struggles and temptations and their complete dependency on God. They challenged us to be bold in our Faith when we returned home, and to recognize that we were "not for sale" ( <--- please stop and watch some of this message from where I have it starting here for about ten minutes; it will bless you!). We actually cracked open our Bibles and studied Scripture together. We woke up EARLY in the morning to have quiet time with God together. It's amazing how much you can connect with other women in a room where you are all actually completely silent. We focused on why our physical health was just as important to God as our spiritual health.

We just spent time taking care of ourselves for His glory.

I can't write an entire post going into the details of the conference and how every way it affected me because I could probably write an entire book. However, I do want to mention something I gained last year that has proved to be invaluable; friends.

So many of the wonderful women I connected with at the conference.

Last week I wrote a little about the beautiful influence my online community of friends have had in my life. I officially met several of them at the Pinky Promise conference. A few of them had been reading my blog or following me on Instagram for a few months, and we'd just instantly clicked. Some of them had never even left me a comment online, but when they saw me, came up and gave me a hug like we'd been friends for years. I LOVED THAT! There are a few people who I originally "met" online who have been bigger supporters, and prayer partners, in my life than people I see everyday. They call me just to see how I'm doing, as well as call me on my foolishness. They have laughed with me, encouraged me, cried with me, and become a true example of Biblical accountability in so many ways.

That's what the conference is all about.

It's about taking time to break away from the busyness of life to spend time on what we really need to do; have a heart to heart with God.

We need to slow down, dig into His word, listen to His voice, fellowship with His children and align our desires with His.

Y'all...I am so ready for it this year.

My heart needs it.

I am believing God for some super-sized miracles in my life right now, for some would-be-impossible changes in the hearts of those around me as well as myself, and for His guidance in everything I do.

I'm meeting Him there.

I hope to meet some of you there too.

Amber James, me and Amber Jones on day two.

Are you attending Heart to Heart this year?
Let me know so we can meet up while we're there!


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ABIDE: my weeks three and four reflection

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

/// this post is part of my series on the ABIDE study journal by Jessi Connolly ///

So, I'm a little late with posting my reflection on the past two ABIDE study lessons, but life has been crazy to say the least, and writing hasn't been a top priority. In all honesty, I needed to spend more time truly abiding with the vine in the past couple of days than I may have in my entire life.
Life's funny life that, we sometimes can't see just how far away from the Source we have gotten until we realize we are truly gasping for air.
Week three's video accompaniment featured Alisa Keeton of Revelation Wellness and focused on our relationship with God as the vinedresser. Jessi directed our attention to Hebrews 4:16 which reads,

"We don't have a priest who it out of touch with our reality.
He's been through weakness and testing, experienced
it all -- all but the sin. So let's walk right up to him
and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy,
accept the help (MSG)."

...accept the help.

That can be so hard for some of us.

For me personally, I spent a great deal of my life struggling with accepting help from people because I was used to them not coming through. However, other people's shortcomings isn't always the reason why I tend to choose to do things on my own these days. To be completely transparent here, it's sometimes because I feel I can do it better. And if you're really honest with yourself you may admit that statement is sometimes true in your own life. It may not always be in big areas. For example, I have been known to take over changing Felicity Grace's diaper while The Mr. was giving it his all because she's fussy and I know I can do it faster. Not only could this potentially make him not want to do it, it also slows his growth in that area.

That's what abiding with Christ is all about; growth.

God is the vinedresser and when He is pruning us it may cause the situation to become a little (or a lot) uncomfortable, but it's for our good.

Which leads me to week four.

Week four hit me like a ton of bricks!

Focusing on John 15:2, the video was by Lara Casey and she spoke directly to my spirit. If you frequent my blog, then you know she has had a great impact on my life within the past year. Her obedience to God has ministered to exactly where I am as a wife and mother and I am so grateful for that.

Jessi noted in the study that "sometimes the pruning is done to make the tree more structurally sound," and Lara beautifully painted the portrait of us being afraid to allow God to cut away at things in our lives because we can't see it's because He's trying to expose the inner parts of us to the sun so we can grow and flourish. We have to know when to pull the plug on things that may appear to be good, but may be actually blocking more important things from getting the nourishment they need.

As a wife, I want to practice this.

As a mom, I want to practice this.

As a mom, I want to practice this.

As a friend, I want to practice this.

As a career-woman, I want to practice this.

And as a daughter of the King, I know I can only discern what needs to be pruned by being still before God and allowing His Spirit to guide me on the narrow path.


Ashley Danielle

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