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.
  • 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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  • Living in Puerto Rico has been nothing short of amazing. It didn’t take long for me to realize it embodies a rich, diverse culture. As both an island and U.S. territory, Puerto Rico has the perfect blend of Latin, Caribbean, and American influence, especially within its music. So, while visiting a Spanish-speaking church service one […]

    Crossing Language Barriers in Worship

    Living in Puerto Rico has been nothing short of amazing. It didn’t take long for me to realize it embodies a rich, diverse culture. As both an island and U.S. territory, Puerto Rico has the perfect blend of Latin, Caribbean, and American influence, especially within its music.

    So, while visiting a Spanish-speaking church service one Sunday, I couldn’t help but recognize the melody of their praise and worship songs. As I listened (and worshipped), I found it easy to follow the lyrics and catch the chorus at the right moments. Suddenly, it hit me.

    Here as in Heaven by Elevation Worship! I know this song!

    Their praise team was singing one of my favorite contemporary gospel songs, just in Spanish. Even though I didn’t immediately grasp each word, I felt it. The atmosphere, the transparency, the presence of the Lord. . .everything was perfect.

    That’s how it’s supposed to be when we come before the Lord’s throne: worshipping in unison. God has called all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues [Revelation 7:9]. So, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to listen to covers of popular Gospel music artists, such as Hillsong and Elevation Worship, in Spanish and other languages. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can learn the lyrics. I find it both fascinating and exhilarating to worship the Lord in a different language.

    Click below to check out Como en el Cielo, the Spanish cover of Elevation Worship’s song, Here As in Heaven. You can find this song and more Spanish covers on CMA Music’s YouTube Channel.

    Something as powerful and influential as music is known to unite people from different background, cultures, and languages. Let’s take advantage of it.

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  • He’ll never forgive me. How could I have been so stupid? There’s no coming back from this. At least, that’s how we feel. As Christians, when we do something we know was wrong, especially against the Word of God, the spirit of conviction can come like a flood. You lied. You cheated. You cursed someone […]

    I Messed Up, Now What?

    He’ll never forgive me.

    How could I have been so stupid?

    There’s no coming back from this.

    At least, that’s how we feel. As Christians, when we do something we know was wrong, especially against the Word of God, the spirit of conviction can come like a flood. You lied. You cheated. You cursed someone out. You were driving and cut someone off. You had sex. You spoke badly about someone. You haven’t been reading your Bible. You stole something. You partied and got completely drunk. You did the worst thing possible and now. . .you’re here.

    Guess what? So did I.

    And so did another woman. And so did another. All of us have sinned before and most likely will sin again.

    Should we glorify that? Absolutely not. But should we wallow in our shortcomings? No ma’am.

    Why? Because the Bible instructed us to do one two simple things when we mess up: confess and repent.

    [James 5:16] “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    That’s it.

    You forgot one thing: Jesus already paid it all.

    [Ephesians 1:7] “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

    Let me tell you something. If you think because you messed up and fell short, that God would just lose all hope in you and walk away? Sis, you must’ve forgotten who God is. The Mighty God we serve is not a man. He created you, He knows you, He loves you, and He will correct you. That’s what the Holy Spirit is there for.  

    Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at one of the most renown kings in the BIble: King David [2 Samuel 11 & 12].

    If you’re like me, you probably questioned King David’s character (quite a few times). The Bible says he was a man after God’s own heart, yet, he did quite a few things that said otherwise:

    • He lusted after another man’s wife, Bathsheba (and David already had a few wives!)
    • He slept with Bathsheba (which classifies as having an affair)
    • He ordered for her husband, Uriah, to be killed

    And King David went about his business as if he did nothing wrong. That is, until God sent the prophet Samuel to call David out on his wrongdoing. Keep in mind that this wasn’t something quick within a few days. This situation occurred for what may have been several months. Bathsheba had become pregnant from their affair and was close to having the baby around the time Samuel confronted David.

    David repented and went on to express extreme turmoil, emotional pain, and requested God’s forgiveness through Psalms.

    [Psalms 51:1-2]

    Have mercy upon me, O God,

    According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,

    Blot out my transgressions,

    Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity;

    And cleanse me from my sin.

     

    That’s what our Lord is looking for—a humble, contrite heart.

     

    Even after deliberately doing wrong over a course of months, God still favored King David. He still used Him as an instrument in His perfect plan of redemption: leading a nation to trusting God, writing majority of the Book of Psalms, and being an ancestor of none other than Jesus Christ.

     

    A loving, yet stern and disciplining father knows whether you fell into temptation, backslid, or have been dealing with circumstances that led to your choices. He knows more about you than you do, so don’t tell Him who He can and cannot give a second chance.

     

    In the meantime, surround yourself with godly friends who can check on you and hold you accountable. Remove who or what in your life that tempts you. Ask yourself if the plans and actions you get involved in will help or hurt your reputation, cloud your thought process, and threaten your physical health. It’s not easy, but honestly, it’s not supposed to be. We made the decision to face trials and tribulations every day as Christians. Our hope and trust are not in what we see, but what we know by faith.

     

    So confess, repent, and let the devil know that you don’t have time for his games, because your called to a higher purpose beyond comprehension.   

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  • 21-Day Challenge: The New You Alright, ladies, they say it takes 21 days to create (or break) a habit. So, if you’re ready to kick a bad habit, or develop a new one, it’s time to challenge yourself. Whether you’re trying to become a vegetarian, quit smoking, or get in shape, determination and consistency are […]

    21-Day Challenge: The New You

    21-Day Challenge: The New You

    Alright, ladies, they say it takes 21 days to create (or break) a habit. So, if you’re ready to kick a bad habit, or develop a new one, it’s time to challenge yourself. Whether you’re trying to become a vegetarian, quit smoking, or get in shape, determination and consistency are essential. Here are 21 tips to help you stay committed to your goal over the next 21 days:

    1. Write it down

    Studies show that people who visually see their goals are more likely to achieve them. So write that vision and make it plain! [Habakkuk 2:2]

    1. Tell Someone About It

    It’s always good to tell a close friend or supportive family member what you’re trying to accomplish. This way, you’ll have motivators and supporters during your journey.

    1. Listen to a Podcast

    Shift your perspective. There are a lot of informative, educational, and funny podcasts you can listen to while performing daily tasks.

    1. Try a new entree at a restaurant

    Open your mind up to new tastes and get out of your comfort zone.

    1. Color or Draw a Picture

    Once again, a nice escape from reality that is a great stress reliever.

    1. Reorganize your Bedroom or Furniture

    Sometimes all it takes is a new perspective of your home to influence new habits

    1. Pamper Yourself

    Reserve a day during these 21 days to treat yourself, like going to a spa. .

    1. Journal Your Journey

    It’s motivating to see how much you’ve accomplished over the timespan. Track your daily progress in a journal or notebook over the next three weeks. You might surprise yourself.

    1. Surround Yourself with Like-minded Individuals

    This may sound like a given, but sometimes we’re not aware of the company we keep. Even if they’re your best friends, people who are condoning your bad habits (or not supporting your vision) with hinder your growth. Bad company corrupts good character [1 Corinthians 15:33]

    1. Read a Novel

    Books can be a nice escape from reality and very relaxing.

    1. Learn a New Recipe

    This list is definitely challenging you with getting out of your comfort zone, so why not try it with cooking?

    1. Host a Game Night

    Cook that new dish from tip #16, pull out some board games, and invite over a few folks for an evening of fun and laughter.

    1. Sell Old Items

    Out with the old, and in with the new. Get rid of things you no longer need or hinder you from moving forward (and get some money for doing so!)

    1. Don’t Look Back

    Even if you slipped up during this challenge, beating yourself up about it is not healthy or productive. Stay positive, reposition your focus, and keep going!

    1. Write a Poem

    This helps open your mind and release all of your thoughts and creativity on paper.

    1. Call a Friend

    When was the last time you had a conversation over the phone with a friend? Sometimes we have the “habit” of getting so busy, we don’t know what’s going on in the lives of people closest to us.

    1. Seek Alternatives

    Sometimes all it takes is replacing a bad habit with another one to maintain consistency in your regimen: eating popcorn instead of chips, using vapor instead of cigarettes, etc. No, the process isn’t always easy, but definitely worth a try.

    1. Remove every negative word from your vocabulary

    THIS is a given. Get serious about start thinking positive! Your actions will follow!

    1. Take a Dance Lesson

    Another way to get out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to something new

    1. Go Window Shopping

    Keeping your wallet at home, take a trip to the mall or your favorite outlet. It might be hard, but this will help you practice controlling impulse and patience

    1. Share Your Accomplishment/Journey

    Whew! What a journey, right? Look over the last 21 days and see how much you’ve grown. Even if you didn’t reach your goal, you’ve accomplished so much more. Now, share this challenge with someone else. Like you, it can help build their confidence to do the same. Let’s encourage and support one another to become a better version of ourselves, one day at a time.

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