Author Archive for: Ashley Cottrell

About Ashley Cottrell

Interested in reading more of her work? Check out her blog: www.ashleyamor.com With a B.A in English, Ashley Cottrell has written blogs for Virginia Bride Magazine, Bronze Mag, and has been a contributing writer for numerous other digital entities. Although a Virginia-native, Ashley resides in Puerto Rico fulfilling her passion as a freelance writer. She aims to use her gift of writing to inspire others and share the gospel of Christ. When she's not writing, you can find her nose-deep in a game of chess, Salsa dancing, or making homemade skin care products.
  • If you think the “Proverbs 31 woman” was just a quiet, stay-at-home mom who loved knitting and baking cakes for her husband, think again (and this is nothing against stay-at-home moms or women who love to cook for their men!)   The woman addressed in Proverbs 31 has a lot going on. She plans (v.15), […]

    4 Tips for the Business-Minded Woman

    If you think the “Proverbs 31 woman” was just a quiet, stay-at-home mom who loved knitting and baking cakes for her husband, think again (and this is nothing against stay-at-home moms or women who love to cook for their men!)

     

    The woman addressed in Proverbs 31 has a lot going on. She plans (v.15), she invests (v.16), she works hard (v.17), and knows how to make a profit (v.18).

    She was a boss.

     

    And like her, many women have business mindsets. Maybe you feel led to start investing, or to turn your love and passion into a profitable business, or to get that promotion at work and take on a managerial position. Whatever it may be, don’t ignore that feeling. . .God could be calling you to do so. Don’t think that just because you aren’t teaching Bible Study or singing on the worship team at your church that you’re not using your gifts for the Kingdom or honoring God. Many important biblical figures were still walking by faith in their day jobs. Remember:

     

    Jesus was a carpenter.

    Moses was a shepherd.

    Peter was a fisherman.

    David was a soldier (then a king).

     

    And let’s not forget about the women:

     

    Deborah was a judge who led the nation of Israel (Judges 4).

    Sheerah was an architect (1 Chronicles 7:24).

    The woman of Abel Beth Maacah was a wise negotiator (2 Samuel 20:13-22).

    Candace was a queen from Ethiopia, in charge of her country’s treasures/finances (Acts 8:27).

     

    And you are. . .still trying to figure out how you can serve God and slay in the corporate world simultaneously. Let me break it to you, sis, you can. And here’s how:

     

    1. Be Intentional & Influential

    As Christians, everything we do must be intentional. We must remember who we do it for (God), and why we do it (to represent Christ and advance God’s Kingdom). When Jesus called Peter and the other fishermen to follow Him as disciples, He was intentional in His approach and strategy. Jesus gave them instructions to help perfect their fishing method:

    Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” [Luke 5:4-7]

    And when the fishermen discovered Jesus knew what He was talking about (catching more fish than they’d ever caught), He became influential.

    From your business proposal to business cards, and even down to the outfit you wear to work each day, be intentional. Show your peers, future clients or business partners, you know what you’re talking about, that you’ve invested time, sweat, and tears into what you’re doing and that it will benefit them in some shape or form. Build their trust in you and what you have to offer and follow through on those promises. In this manner, you are representing Christ by showing integrity in your work.

     

    2. Be Humble & Open to Feedback

    Never throughout Christ’s ministry did He ever say He was there on His own accord. Jesus always acknowledged His Father, our Lord God, as the One providing His Words, miracles, wisdom, and reason for being. The disciples, as well, always acknowledged Christ in their teachings and missionary work. In that same manner, you will never meet a CEO who doesn’t enjoy reading and learning from other entrepreneurs. You will never see a successful company without a board of directors. You will always here an honoree acknowledge their teacher, mentor, or role model in their acceptance speech.

    Be teachable, understanding that there’s always room for growth and knowledge. We learn from others every day, no matter the age or experience. Every follower needs a leader, and every leader was once a follower. Ask questions and talk to other entrepreneurs or colleagues who were once in your shoes. Be open to receiving feedback and take notes on areas you can improve. The Lord honors humility, and doing so even while in the corporate world shows godly character.

    “For those who exalt themselves with be humbled; but those who humble themselves will be exalted.” [Matthew 23:12]

     

    3. Guard Your Heart

    Not everyone is going to understand or be on board with your vision. . . and that is okay. What’s not okay is when they try to deter you from what you know God placed on your heart to do. Avoid those type of people and negativity. If who you are associate with does not inspire you, encourage you, or assist you in building towards your goals, then they’re a hinderance. When the Word of God instructs us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), it’s referring to all areas of our life. Whatever you allow into your thoughts, spirit, and environment can influence your decisions, good or bad. This is why scripture specifically says “Above all else, guard your heart…” Be protective over the vision and assignment God gave you, including your job or business.

     

    4. Network Like There’s no Tomorrow

    Last, but not least, you must understand the power of networking. Any business owner or entrepreneur will tell you the importance of having connections and collaborations. If you want to build, you cannot do it alone. Whether you’re at a job conference, cocktail party, or simply waiting in line at Starbucks, striking up a conversation with a stranger just may be your next big break. Build professional relationships with other business owners, associates, fellow alumni, and friends. These are your resources, ears to the job market, prospective clients, business partners, and more.  

    Embrace areas you are strong while accepting areas where you are weak. Some people have the gift of gab—let them assist in your PR and outreach. In exchange, you can offer your services for their benefit. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to networking. Any opportunity is beneficial, whether you’re out volunteering with a large non-profit, or catching up with a former colleague over coffee. Make the most of your connections.

     

    And sis, remember this: as long as you’re obedient to what God is telling you to do, you’re giving Him glory. The success of your jewelry business may fund a new community rehabilitation center; your new management position may lead the company into opening a new department that provides dozens of new jobs to individuals who were once unemployed; your digital magazine may help hundreds of women feel beautiful, confident, and encouraged to draw closer to God (shoutout to Kesha, the founder and editor of Christian EnVogue!). You never know how God will use you. If a business-mindset is what you’ve been given, use it.

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  • There’s a very sensitive word that many people use too loosely in casual conversation. In fact, it’s so common, sometimes it just slips out when we don’t intend it. The one word used as a place-filler that sounds awkward if not used in the right context. You know, the “F” word. Friend. The colleague from […]

    Are You Using The Word ‘Friend’ Too Loosely ?

    There’s a very sensitive word that many people use too loosely in casual conversation. In fact, it’s so common, sometimes it just slips out when we don’t intend it. The one word used as a place-filler that sounds awkward if not used in the right context. You know, the “F” word.
    Friend.
    The colleague from work. Your roommate. A classmate. Even that one person you’ve known for years who has been there during major milestones in your life. This person, or people, entered your life for a reason, right? They’ve came to every birthday party, sit with you during your lunch break, and have even pulled all-nighters with you for your college exams. You share laughs, have fun, and are completely comfortable around them. They know you.
    Yet, there was that one situation at work when you got that promotion and your friend didn’t congratulate you. Or that other time when your car broke down and no one came or offered to help. And that year you were dealing with a death in the family, yet never received a phone call from anyone.
    There are many people in our lives who we’ve accepted as and consider “friends,” who definitely have been there for the good times, yet lack those friendship traits and qualities when you need them the most. Sometimes we place expectations on people close to us who were never meant to be there. It’s not that they’re bad people, it’s just that they’re not truly your friends.
    Jesus had many “followers.” Hundreds of people traveled to see Him, listened to Him, and received healing from Him. He had twelve disciples who ate, slept, and spoke with Him daily. There were people who were literally there for every teaching, witnessed every miracle, and who knew He was the Son of God. But some of their hearts were far from His.
    [Proverbs 18:24] “There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”
    If you pay close attention to Scripture, there were only three out of the twelve disciples who Jesus spent the most time with, who He asked to accompany Him when He was deeply distressed [Matthew 26:36-46], and who He allowed to see Him in His truest form [Matthew 17:1-8].
    Everyone can’t be in your circle. It’s natural to feel a type of loyalty to those who’ve been in our lives for a long period of time, but that doesn’t mean they’re our friends. Some people are only meant to be in your life for a season, vice versa, or to serve a purpose that only God knows. But people who disappoint you and drain you emotionally, financially, and even spiritually are not meant to be in your circle. Real friends will support you, correct you in love, and be there for you at your lowest. Christ said it best:
    [John 15:13] “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
    Aside from your spouse, your inner circle needs to be people who love you, align with your purpose, truly know the calling on your life, and pour into you as much as you do for them. Anyone who uses you, frustrates you, and distracts you from your purpose is not a true friend. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to them or withhold sharing the Gospel with them, it just means that you’ve placed expectations on them that they will not meet.
    I encourage you to reanalyze the relationships you have with people close to you and determine their role in your life. Ask God to reveal to you their character, intentions, and reason of being. Even if you discover you only have one true friend, you know it’s someone you can truly count on.
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  • Last year was rough. Literally. It may have been because of all the hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. It may have been because of all of the political controversies and war threats. It may have been because of the outrage of sexual assaults and misconduct cases making headlines. Or… It may have been the […]

    Leveling Up All 2019

    Last year was rough.
    Literally.

    It may have been because of all the hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.
    It may have been because of all of the political controversies and war threats.
    It may have been because of the outrage of sexual assaults and misconduct cases making headlines.
    Or… It may have been the fact that all of these things were happening at the same time you were experiencing rough patches in your personal life and spiritual walk.
    Regardless of what’s to blame, there’s no need to throw a pity party (because we don’t do that honey.) The year 2018 was definitely one for the books, but don’t count it as a loss—count it as a lesson.
    And as with any lesson, we learn, take notes, and apply that wisdom for the next lesson. This year is that next lesson. Let’s make 2019 the year of the comeback.
    Let’s level up.
    Now when I say “level up,” I mean taking the necessary steps in self care so that we’re physically, mentally, and spiritually prepared for God’s purpose. Do you think just because you had a rough year, God would give up on you and not use you to fulfill His Will? Think again, sis. Ask Moses, David, Jonah, Ruth, Peter, and Paul. They will all tell you the same thing:
    The struggle IS real.
    And so is our God. In fact, the Lord instructs us to come to Him when we feel all the heavy burdens of life or feel like giving up.
    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11:28]
    He knows that sometimes you’re too tired to think. He knows that mental strain and depression can trigger old, unhealthy patterns and leave you desiring your worldly habits of comfort. He knows that life can hit you like a punch in the gut and leave you breathless, dizzy, and unfocused.
    So that’s why we have to be intentional about self-care. Remember that one time when Jesus left all his family, friends, and followers to go pray? (oh wait, He did that PLENTY of times):
    But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” [Luke 5:16]
    It’s completely okay to take a breather, step away from your usual duties and take a break to regroup. In church, the common term is a “sabbatical” leave. In corporate world, it’s considered “taking a vacation.” Most mothers call it “sending the kids to their grandparents’ house for a week.” Last, but not least, a psychologist or therapist will refer to it as “personal time.” You need time. Time to rest, time to mourn, time to think, time to reflect, time to forgive; time to heal. The Bible sums it up as this:
    To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven…” [Ecclesiastes 3:1]
    So shut off every bit of noise and distraction for a period of time, kick everyone out the house or lock your bedroom, ask God for clarity and direction, and just. . . be still.
    Breathe.
    Listen.
    Repeat.
    And then. . .come back.
    And when you do, you don’t just come back….you be the comeback. Remember who you are and whose you are. Remember the purpose and burning desire God placed in your heart to follow or accomplish. You look 2019 in the eye and say “I’m ready now.”
    This is it. Time to level up. . .for real. Time to tackle those problems from last year with informed decisions and solutions. With that said, use these four sectors of life as a starter kit to get back on track for the year.

    FAITH

    Start a Fast
    – You can do one on your own, or collectively as a group or with your church for support
    – Research the many benefits of fasting and abstaining from certain foods and physical restrictions, such as regulating your digestive system and increasing self control
    – Study the types of fasts and how which one may better suit your needs
    Complete a Bible or Journal Challenge
    – Download the YouVersion Bible app and follow the “read a bible in one year” guide
    – Journal every time you pray or spend time with the Lord, aiming for every day of the year
    Join a ministry, support group, team, etc. for accountability
    – Surround yourself with positive people who care about your well-being and encourages you to keep moving forward

     

    FOCUS

    Create a Vision Board
    – Throw a vision board party and invite friends over to share ideas, crafts, and laughs while doing so
    Declutter & Organize Your Home
    – Sometimes it’s easier to think and maintain a good mood when it’s easier to navigate through the home
    Mute or Delete Distracting Apps from Your Phone
    – Whether it’s SnapChat, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Candy Crush, group chats, or more, cut them off

     

    FITNESS

    – Start a digital workout plan or join a local fitness group
    – Try something new such as a dance class or signing up for a 5K run that’ll get you motivated, pumped, and tired by the end of the day

     

    FINANCE

    – Buy a budget planner/organizer to track your spendings and savings
    – Follow some budgeting and finance gurus’ social media (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, & blogs)
    – Read books by finance gurus such as Dave Ramsey, Robert Kiyosaki, etc.)
    – Open a savings account (automatic if possible) that will make space for all of the additional money that you want stored in a safe place in case of emergency
    Ready? You should be. This is your year to come back stronger, wiser, and closer to God. You got this. Level up.
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  • First, let’s get this out of the way: God created sex. Period. Sex is mentioned frequently throughout the Bible. It’s not a secret, it’s a natural part of life, and it is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed to speak about. Okay, now that awkwardness is out of the way, let’s talk about it…for real. […]

    The Realities of Sex: Society’s Way vs. God’s Way

    First, let’s get this out of the way: God created sex. Period.

    Sex is mentioned frequently throughout the Bible. It’s not a secret, it’s a natural part of life, and it is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed to speak about.

    Okay, now that awkwardness is out of the way, let’s talk about it…for real.

    The Purpose of Sex

    The very first instruction God gave to mankind is to…well, procreate.

    “Then God blessed them (mankind), and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply…” [Genesis 1:28]

    And immediately after, scripture makes sure we understand exactly what that requires:

    “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they (Adam and Eve) were both naked, and they were not ashamed.” [Genesis 2:24-25]

    The Bible also reminds us that what happens in the bedroom is alright in God’s sight:

    “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled…” [Hebrews 13:4}

    Connection. Union. One flesh. This process of developing a deep intimacy literally requires leaving the first form of intimacy you know (your family) to start your own with whom you’ve chosen to share a life with. It’s literally the biggest change in your life and that, for many, can be a scary feeling, especially before marrying someone. (Getting “cold feet“ before the wedding is real!) Yet, with sex, you can experience the pleasure, love, comfort, and vulnerability with your spouse that’ll release all of those fears and build the bond needed to embark on the new journey in life. With sex, you create and bring another life into the world. With sex, you glorify God.   

    But wait, what if I’m not married to the person I’m having sex with?

    Well, that’s where things get difficult.

    The Purpose of Intimacy

    Couple caressing one another in bed. Photo Credit: Becca Tapert on Unsplash.com

    God makes it clear in scripture that extramarital affairs (sex outside of marriage) are forbidden. It’s mentioned so many times throughout the Bible that many people just give up on the Christian faith altogether.

    I can’t help it.

    I enjoy it too much to give it up.

    I’m a sexual being.

    I don’t understand why God doesn’t want people to have sex.

    But that’s where the lie comes in. God does want us to have sex…just only with our spouse. And here’s why: You ever wonder why God didn’t create several women for Adam to choose from? I mean, God is the creator of all things, nothing is too hard for Him. Wouldn’t it be logical to allow Adam to go on a few dates and see who he was most compatible with, shared the most interests, and at least thought was attractive?

    No. Absolutely not. This is not the Bachelor.

    Too many options causes chaos. Our minds are not designed that way. God knows what’s best for our wellbeing, and too much exposure to anything is a hindrance. Think about our bodies: we don’t choose to beat the heart, to fill the lungs with oxygen, to digest our food, and so on. If our minds had to choose the whens and hows of functioning the body, we wouldn’t survive past birth. To be honest, most of us can barely make it to work on time from trying to choose an outfit for the morning. God knows this about us (after all, He created us). So can’t most of us just choose one partner from a list and be done with it?

    Well, even science confirms the issue of overchoice. In her article, The Psychology of Choice, Dr. Liraz Margalit discusses the addiction of having many possibilities available. She explains that the more options we have, the less likely we are to make a decision at all. This problem, unfortunately, happens in the world of dating and sexual intimacy.

    My ex was never this shy in bed. It’s boring and frustrating. . .

    Why won’t you do what she does in the video?. . .

    Comparison is deadly. It destroys intimacy. It lowers self-esteem. It makes room for jealousy. That’s not what God intended for sex. And unfortunately, societal norms took it a step further.

    The Problem of Sex (Outside of God’s Intent)

    Sex sells. Billboards, commercials, magazines, you name it. Whatever is showing the most skin instantly draws attention. But why? Shouldn’t we be used to it? After all, we’re exposed to sexuality every day of our lives in some form or manner.

    And that’s the problem. Society (at least in America) has made it part of our everyday lives. The porn industry makes billions of dollars per year. Sex trafficking is a worldwide issue where many children, especially young women, are kidnapped and forced into prostitution. Cases of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment occur daily. Sexually transmitted infections are everywhere. Situations of infidelity are ending marriages and dividing families. People are suffering from trauma and PTSD.

    Why? Because of sex? No. Because of the addiction to sex. The exposure. the multiple options. The fantasies. The lack of self control. The lack of respect and morality.

    Even if someone is single and practicing “safe sex”, casual sex can still affect their mental health. In her article for Psychology Today, Dr. Susan Whitbourne explains the common behavioral patterns shown in people who engage in casual sex, including depression, loneliness, and social anxiety.

    Biblically, sex outside of marriage (sexual immorality) is the only sin described as against one’s own body [1 Corinthians 6:18]. In other words, we’re not hurting others; we’re hurting ourselves.

    The Comeback: Sex on God’s Terms

    Thankfully, there is a way to break free. We don’t have to let sex consume our lives our allow society to control how we think towards it. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us [Philippians 4:13], including hitting the mental reset button on sex.

    Yes, it may be hard for some more than others. Yes, it takes denying the body what it craves. Yes, it isn’t easy to stop something you’ve started. Yes, some may even need a counselor. But it’s possible, it’s healing, and it’s worth it.

    Most of us tend to forget that the creator of this universe is smart. God knows what He’s doing. Sex brings God glory. It’s the highest form of physical intimacy that one can experience–a euphoric feeling that is the closest to what we can expect to feel being in the presence of God. In His dwelling place. In Heaven.

    Being committed to one person on earth who you will share a life with, procreate with, and fulfill purpose with is truly something special. That’s God’s gift to us. Let’s not take it for granted.      

    “…rejoice with the wife of your youth. . .let her breast satisfy you at all times, and always be enraptured with her love.”

    [Proverbs 5:18-19]

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