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.
  • When Tragedy Strikes: How to Deal and Heal Through Life’s Battles

    “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” ~Martha, [John 11:21]

    Tragedy [traj-i-dee]
    Noun
    A lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster.

    Many of us have suffered from a tragedy in our lives.
    Many of us have felt this type of pain.
    Many of us have been angry with God.

    It’s okay to admit it. We’re human. We have emotions. God knows this, and while warning us not to act on our emotions, He does allows us to be angry [Psalm 4:4], [Ephesians 4:26].

    Life definitely has its trials and tribulations. While we’re fully aware that we’ll face difficulties, actually being in and dealing with the situation is a different story.

    It. . .gets. . .real.

    Death of a loved one
    Loss of a job or financial hardship
    Struggle in marriage or broken relationship
    Rape and abuse
    Disease and illness
    Accidents and disabilities
    Natural Disasters and destruction of property

    The list goes on. Yes, we’re Christians who love Jesus and serve the Lord, but sometimes, hearing an “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “I’m praying for you” doesn’t make the cut. Sometimes the physical, mental, and emotional pain is so overwhelming that nothing anyone says or does will help. Grieving is not an easy process.

    Where were you, God, when my mother died of cancer?
    God, why did you let that happen to our country?
    Why, Lord, am I being punished?
    Why, Father, did You make me die on the cross?

    Wait a minute. . . what?

    That last one was intentional. And just as you stopped in your tracks, I stopped when it came across my mind a few years ago.

    While praying, with tear-filled eyes and balled up in fetal position of the corner of my bedroom, those words fell in my spirit. Why? Because Jesus never said them.

    As the Messiah, Jesus was fully aware of His fate, knowing His death on the cross was in His future, yet doing nothing to avoid it. He, instead, prayed about it, endured it, and after all the pain, he rose from it. As Christians, we will also rise from our afflictions [Psalms 34:19].

    “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” [Psalms 30:5]

    As Sarah was saddened of her infertility, as King David mourned the loss of his first son, as the woman with the twelve-year hemorrhage dealt with her health issue, as King Nebuchadnezzar lost his kingdom, as Job lost his home and family, as Mary and Martha mourned the loss of their brother Lazarus, and as the disciples lost hope after their Lord and Savior died on the cross. . .God restored them.

    Many things in life happen completely out of our control. Sometimes, God does not give us a reason for the pain we experience. But His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts [Isaiah 55:8-9]. As God’s children, through Christ, we are called to be faithful, no matter what.

    Grieving takes time. Processing devastation takes time. Healing takes time. Yet, they make us stronger. Someone who has dealt with losing a loved one, knows how to console someone who lost a loved one. Someone who has had a life-threatening disease understands how to relate and encourage someone dealing with the same. Someone who has experienced trauma knows how to motivate and help someone who has dealt with the same (and possibly write a book that will do so for millions of readers).

    Although we don’t have all of the answers, we know that God promised in His Word that everything will work out for our good [Romans 8:28]. Tragedy does not mean God punished you; it means God chose you.

    “Even When It Hurts’ ~Hillsong UNITED

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  • If you’re a single, 20-something Christian woman with a family like mine, you probably get an ear-full at every holiday or family reunion: “So, anyone new in your life?” “My coworker’s son is about your age.” (hint hint) “Still looking for Mr. Right, huh?” We’re focused on Christ, and confident that the Lord will bring […]

    Saved, Single, and. . .Lonely?

    If you’re a single, 20-something Christian woman with a family like mine, you probably get an ear-full at every holiday or family reunion:

    • “So, anyone new in your life?”
    • “My coworker’s son is about your age.” (hint hint)
    • “Still looking for Mr. Right, huh?”

    We’re focused on Christ, and confident that the Lord will bring the right man along when the time is right. Our society, however, treats being single like it’s a disease and unfortunately can alter our perception of this season.

    Don’t let them.

    There is a fine line difference between lonely and alone. One person can sit comfortably at home all day enjoying quiet and solitude, while another can be at a party full of dozens of people and still feel lonely. Alone is a state of being; lonely is an emotional feeling. If you’ve accepted Christ into your life, you’re never alone. God informs us in His Word that He’ll never leave nor forsake us [Hebrews 13:5]. Feeling lonely is a trick of the enemy that, if you’re not cautious, can persuade you to surround yourself with bad company.  

    It’s okay to sometimes experience discontentment in your single season. If we’re being honest, many of us have felt that way from time to time. We’re humans, we have emotions. It’s important to understand, however, that emotions are temporary and can be deceiving. If you’ve been feeling lonely lately, don’t be discouraged. Here are reasons to enjoy your single season:

    1. Preparation  

    Remember back in college when you and a group of friends would get together to study for a test or exam, and how it somehow turned into a mini-party? Face it. Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused and get things done when we’re surrounded by friends and loved ones. Jesus kept His twelve disciples close, but even He often left them and went off to secluded areas, sometimes for days at a time. He was preparing for His purpose, and in this season of singleness, so are you.

    What is it that you need to accomplish that is difficult to do if in a relationship? Whether it’s college, your career, building your finances, or even strengthening your relationship with God, some things are easier to do while you’re single and still kicking. Take full advantage of it.

    1. Timing

    “To Everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” [Ecclesiastes 3:1]. How many times have we rushed into something, just to find out later that we weren’t ready? I know I have. Society, family and friends, and even our personal desires may have ‘assigned time limits’ on where we should be at certain ages in our life:

    • Age 21- graduate from college with a secured job
    • Age 25- House and car
    • Age 35- Married with kids
    • Age 55- Retired

    Sometimes we have our entire life planned out from A to Z, and it may not even be God’s Will. When it comes to life, there is not a one-size-fits-all. We can’t rush God’s timing, nor should we try to. It’s great to have goals but make sure they’re not idols in your life, or we’ll miss out on enjoying life as it is.

    [Ecclesiastes 3:11-13]

    “He has made everything beautiful in its time. . .I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor–it is the gift of God.”

     

    1. You’re Priceless

    Let’s not overlook our value. God’s Word informs us that we’re fearfully and wonderfully made [Psalms 139:14], chosen [1 Peter 2:9], and given spirits of power and love [2 Timothy 1:7]. Just like the finest, most valuable jewels are hidden deep within earth’s core, so are we. Single doesn’t mean you’re not worthy, it means you haven’t settled. Don’t allow society or anyone else convince you otherwise.

    Spoken from someone who has been single for over six years, I can honestly say that it took time for me to become comfortable in this season, and I love it. I’ve taken this time to emotionally heal from my past, grow in my career, and even travel (and live) overseas. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and have developed a level of confidence so deep in God that I can easily brush off anything that opposes my faith. May this be encouraging and empowering for all the single ladies!

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  • Many can attest that life’s blessings are a result of discipline. Learning to hold ourselves accountable and making wise choices is definitely a process, sometimes easier for some more than others. This is why teaching and sharing tips with one another is a beautiful thing. So, if you’re ready to practice budgeting (and save a […]

    Living Your Best Life on a Budget

    Many can attest that life’s blessings are a result of discipline. Learning to hold ourselves accountable and making wise choices is definitely a process, sometimes easier for some more than others. This is why teaching and sharing tips with one another is a beautiful thing. So, if you’re ready to practice budgeting (and save a lot of money while doing so), continue reading.  

    Change your Vocabulary

    The key is to identify priorities, understanding the difference between a “want” and a “need.”  These two words are not synonyms. Before you can change lifestyle habits, you must have a renewed mindset. It’s important to learn your weaknesses and limits.

    Let’s not worry about someone else’s opinions. Possessions are not our validation for approval. Even Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and billionaire, wears t-shirts, jeans, and old sneakers.

    Accept “No” for an Answer

    No, you don’t need it.

    No, you’re not dying without it.

    Yes, you can wait.

    It’s okay to tell yourself “no” sometimes. You’ve got bills and student loans to pay back (this is what I remind myself, daily). If you can’t afford it (meaning if your income does not support extra spending after all of your bills and necessities are taken care of) then don’t go shopping. Avoid Amazon, Ebay, and anything else that entices you to buy something fast.

    Clothing

    If you’re unfamiliar with thrifting, it’s time to get on board. You’ll be amazed at how much great stuff you can find in a thrift store (for cheap!). Seriously, there are people in this world who donate expensive clothing they’ve worn only once or were just too busy to return and exchange. If there aren’t thrift shops in your city (or if you have difficulty searching through them), the next best option is to shop during major sales. The best time is off season, when department stores are trying to transition from cold to warm seasons and vice versa (also, right after major holidays). You can find stores that mark down clothes and shoes below half its original price just to get it off the rack.

    My store options: Goodwill, Hope Thrift, Target, Ross, Kohl’s, Marshall’s, TJ-Maxx, and Forever 21 (and sometimes Macy’s, but only clothing on clearance racks and after major holidays). To help save, create rules for yourself as to when you can purchase a new outfit, such as only for special occasions like a wedding or job interview.

     

    Food/Groceries

    Eating out every day can be the death of your wallet. We live in a society where food is a convenience, especially quick, cheap food.

    Pull out your mental calculators, and multiply three meals a day (at about $5 each), by five times a week. That’s $75 spent each week on food (not including weekends or groceries).

    The best thing to do is grocery shop first, and make a list of everything you need prior to going. This avoids subconsciously throwing things into the shopping basket. Also, eat before you grocery shop.The average shopper buys more food when they’re hungry. Make a budget for your grocery spending. Whatever is left, use only that to eat out (occasionally). Better for your wallet, and healthier for your wellbeing.

     

    Grooming

    As women, I know we tend to put a lot of money into our appearance. Opt to only spending money on what you can’t do (or learn to do) on your own. For example, washing and styling your own hair to eliminates hair salon costs, and self-manicures at home to cut down on trips to the nail salon. We have great resources like YouTube and Pinterest to learn and draw creative ideas from, so take full advantage!

    Savings

    Let’s revisit ‘discipline’ for this topic. The only way you’re going to save money, is if you convince yourself not to spend a portion of what you earn (I know, extremely hard). Some banks allow you to set up a savings account where a few dollars are automatically transferred from your direct account to it weekly. Another good method is the “$5 rule.” Whenever you have a $5 bill, immediately stash it away. After about a month or two, the average person may have saved at least $50 dollars.

    Aside from the above mentioned, here’s another great method: selling items. When you own things you no longer use nor need, selling them is best option to make some money back (and declutter your home). Yard sales, Craigslist, Letgo.com, flea markets, the lists goes on. All of those unused items are but a second away from becoming extra money in your pocket.

     

    Expense vs. Investment

    It’s important to learn the difference between the two. An expense is money spent and gone; an investment is money spent now that is expected to return profit later or benefits in the long run. For example, taking a taxi or bus vs. buying a car. Purchasing a car is obviously more money spent than public transportation every day, but considering the benefits of having a car (immediate and reliable transportation, no wait time, avoiding weather conditions, etc.) the worth outweighs the cost. Before buying anything, such as a new outfit or phone, it’s good to weigh your options (basically the “want vs. need” concept I mentioned earlier). You don’t want to spend money on something you’ll probably never wear or use for a long period of time.

    Credit

    When used wisely, credit cards are beneficial. They’re good to have in case of financial emergencies. Running away from credit cards doesn’t keep you out of debt; paying your bills on time keeps you out of debt. To be trusted with loans (for a car, house, furniture, etc.), it’s beneficial to have a good credit score. Yes, it takes patience but will be well worth it. You can start small, like only using your credit card for groceries or gas (anything you can easily pay off within the month). This will help build your score over time. Also, paying your rent and other bills on time improves your score.

    Yes, it’s okay to have fun, go out with friends, and treat yourself. But, once again, only occasionally if you cannot afford to. It’s very easy to fall into debt, and very hard to get out of it. Only do and buy what you can afford.

    For anyone trying to watch their spending habits, consider an accountability partner (someone who knows you well, cares about your wellbeing, and isn’t afraid to be honest with you). Learning how to save and budget takes time, but is definitely well worth it.

    ——

    Scriptures to Study:

    • [Romans 13:8] “Owe no man anything, except to love one another.”
    • [Luke 19:17] “and he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.”
    • [Matthew 22:21] “Give to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
    • [Matthew 25:14-30] Parable of the servants given the talents (2 invested, 1 didn’t)

    Passive Income ideas:

    • Sell what you own (yard/garage sales, Craigslist, etc.)
    • Side gig hustles (Uber, babysitting, barber/stylist, freelancing, etc.)
    • Leasing out spare bedroom, guesthouse, pool house, etc.
    • Investing
    • Write a book/blog/Vlog (YouTube videos)
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  •   It’s the elephant in the room that no one likes to mention. The topic of conversation that many choose to avoid. But it’s there. It’s real. And it’s emotionally painful. So, let’s talk about it.   Church Hurt.   If you have ever felt offended, betrayed, abandoned, ridiculed, or dealt with controversy within a […]

    Church Hurt: Trusting God through Emotional Wounds

     

    It’s the elephant in the room that no one likes to mention.

    The topic of conversation that many choose to avoid.

    But it’s there. It’s real. And it’s emotionally painful.

    So, let’s talk about it.  

    Church Hurt.

     

    If you have ever felt offended, betrayed, abandoned, ridiculed, or dealt with controversy within a church or ministry, which has either led you to be angry, distrusting toward and convinced to leave, then you have experienced hurt from a church.

    There are many people today, both Christians and non-Christians alike, who have dealt with this type of emotional wound and, unfortunately, many who still suffer silently. It’s easy to expect pain and disappointment in life, but what do you do when those who are devout Christians, who serve God alongside you, have caused it?

    You’re not alone.

    God knows what you’ve been dealing with and will help you through it. Although the coined term is not directly stated in the Bible, being hurt by other brothers and sisters in Christ is acknowledged, as well as how to handle it.     

    1. Draw Near to God

    No matter how we feel, we should always come to God with our problems and our cries. He is Our Creator, Our Healer, and Our Provider. God can fix what no man can’t. Choosing to give up on God, or church altogether is not fair to Him. Don’t allow a human’s mistake to twist your perception of who God is.

    Remember that Jesus Christ, too, was ridiculed, mocked, and falsely accused. That didn’t stop Him from loving, from praying, nor distract Him from what He was called to do. So, if you need to, go ahead and cry it out, pour out your heart in prayer or a journal to God. Fall at His feet and express your pain to Him. Then, allow Him, through the Holy Spirit, to comfort and heal you [Matthew 11:28-30].

    2. Forgive

    Yes, you may be in a lot of pain. Yes, it may be difficult. And yes, you have a right to be angry. We must understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean your offender was not wrong, but instead that you’ve decided to extend grace and release the person(s) and situation from burdening you mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Why? It is because Christ forgave us. Think of a time you were in the wrong, and someone or God forgave you. What a joyous feeling. As Christians, we are called to forgive, to be forgiven [Ephesians 4:32].

    Understand that humans can disappoint, even righteous ones. Stop wasting time on the should’ve/could’ve/would’ve and give it to God. We (myself included) have to be careful not to put Christians, especially pastors and those in the leadership of a church, on a pedestal. They’re humans too, meaning they’re still susceptible to making mistakes. Even if someone in the church doesn’t acknowledge or agree that they’re at fault, your decision to forgive is beneficial for your healing process and spiritual growth.

    3. Turn to the Word

    The Bible serves as our manual for all of life’s issues, especially in dealing with emotional pain and conflict. The New Testament, for example, is composed of many of the Apostle Paul’s letters to churches that were dealing with internal issues, many of which were indeed disagreements amongst church members. A few solutions throughout scripture include:

     

    – To first examine ourselves [1 Corinthians 11:28]

     

    -Bare and share our burdens with one another [Galatians 6:1]

     

    – To remember we are forgiven through grace [Ephesians 2:1-5]  

     

    – Not to worry, but to instead seek understanding through prayer [Philippians 4:6]

     

    Read God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit guide you on how to resolve the matter. If you’ve already taken the concern to the offender and the church [Matthew 18:15-17] and done all that you could do, leave the rest in God’s hands. Afterward, if you feel led to leave and join a different church ministry, pray on it and seek confirmation through the Holy Spirit. Our feelings and emotions may be strong, but they can also be misleading. Make sure that whatever decision you follow through on, that it is of God, and not of your own accord.

    Like a physical wound, emotional recovery takes time. It’s possible that your experience will build your character and faith, enabling you to comfort and minister to others going through what you’ve gone through and almost gave up on God. As I was inspired to write this article from my emotional healing journey, you too can remind someone else that there is no pain that God isn’t aware of, nor can’t heal us from, for He took it on for us.

    ~ Ashley R. Cottrell

    Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

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