Ashley Johnson

Don’t be fooled by Ashley’s quiet presence. She’s an internal processor who just might overthink from time to time. When she’s not caught up in her thoughts, she’s usually writing them or enjoying the thoughts of others. She’s a wife, new mom, and lover of all things pretty.

My most embarrassing moment

My Most Embarrassing Moment

I began babysitting for my high school cheerleading coach, Toni, when I was about 14 years old. At that time, she had one boy, Carter, and was pregnant with Lauren. By the time I graduated high school she had three, beautiful children whom I loved and cared for as if they were my own little brothers and sister. Right before I went away for college, Toni asked me to go on vacation with her family and her brother’s family of four to help with the kids. I said yes, and we had a great time. However, on the very last night of our trip, something went terribly wrong… I woke up that last morning to someone nudging my shoulder and saying my […]

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Why These Dads Make Strong Kids

Why This Kind of Dad Makes a Strong Kid

My husband and I were watching a singing competition the other night, and I noticed an interesting trend during the competitors’ interviews. Time after time, the contestants made similar claims. The reason they were standing there, taking a televised risk, was because of their father or father figure. For most, the influence of a positive male role model made a difference in their lives. It’s what made them a strong kid, promoting an overall confidence and a healthy self-esteem. The kind of confidence you need to pursue big dreams. This observation sparked a new curiosity within me. Why do fathers make such an impact? What is it about a dad’s role, specifically, that seems to almost make or break a child? While Grit

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Real Courage is Not What You Think

Real Courage Is Not What You Think

Mary Anne Radmacher said, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” Like a calm response in the face of a bully, real courage is often quiet, but calculated. Those who possess it don’t demonstrate it by chance. They make choices and a conscious effort to stand for the right thing, even though their knees are wobbling. This is what real courage really looks like… When you speak out against injustice, even though your voice is shaking. When you leave the boyfriend who doesn’t want the same things as you, even though tears are streaming down your face as you walk away. When you assure your recently diagnosed

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Here Are 13 Things Only Siblings Will Get

Here Are 13 Things Only Siblings Will Get

There are some things that only siblings understand because you’ve known each other the longest. Have a laugh and share with your sibling(s): 1. You ask the waitress to change your order because your younger sibling just copied yours (so annoying). 2. They’re the person you want to be like the most, although you’d never admit it because they don’t really embrace the whole “imitation is the highest form of flattery” thought process (review point number 1). 3. When your new shirt is missing, you know exactly who took it… 4. When the guy you like likes your sister. Maddening. When it’s your younger sister—even worse. 5. The sheer satisfaction you get when your sibling gets in trouble instead of you. 6. When

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Starting the New Year With Grit, Grace, and Inner Beauty

Starting the New Year With Grit, Grace, and Inner Beauty

There’s something hopeful about a new year. Who doesn’t love a fresh start? A new year often incites determination to tackle big projects, resolution to make hard changes, and lofty dreams of what our renewed motivation and hard work might bring. Maybe you plan to organize every room in the house over this next year, drop some of that holiday weight, or go after your dream job. Those are all great goals that you can achieve! But have you considered focusing on the inner you—the part of you that has nothing to do with outward appearances? Here are 4 truths about inner beauty you should know: 1. You are valuable. Not because you are beautiful, funny, smart, kind, helpful, hard-working, supermom, the

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To the single woman searching for true love

To the Single Woman Searching for True Love

After tossing and turning for an hour last night, I finally got out of bed and began reading an old journal. There’s something about looking back on the things that used to occupy my mind—things that are now resolved and long forgotten—that settles me. There was one journal entry that caused me to reach for my phone at 4 a.m. and text my best friend, the one person I can text in the wee hours of the night and not think twice about it. I read something that my 23-year-old self scribbled off the cuff… words of gratitude for my best friend and a prayer over her life. What a gift to experience a bond that remained and deepened over 10 years,

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How to Survive a Party as an Introvert

How to Survive a Party as an Introvert

If you’re an introvert like me, you may not love parties. So, here are five simple tips to surviving the get-togethers that are sure to await us this season: 5 Steps to Survive a Party as an Introvert. 1. Bring a friend. If you’re an introvert, you’re probably familiar with this faithful crutch. 2. Make a friend. If you can’t bring a friend, make a friend! Just because we’re introverts, doesn’t mean we are unable to socialize. Most of us simply prefer small groups, or better yet, one-on-one conversations. So find a fellow wallflower and figure out what they’re passionate about. Once you discover a shared interest to discuss—you’re golden! 3. Take a break! Do you ever feel drained from smiling, nodding, and

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man with arm around woman, both with crestfallen faces

Making Peace with the Unexpected Grief of Miscarriage

The roses I received for Valentine’s Day sat withered on my countertop for weeks. My eyes stung every time I looked at them, but I couldn’t seem to throw them away. It was the only tangible evidence I had from my pregnancy that ended too soon. A life that I fell in love with and cherished—more than I ever knew was possible. Those roses looked so different when they were presented to me. Peach, with hints of green. Subtle and lovely. The tightly bound buds were delivered to me by the cutest little hands, purchased by bigger, quieter hands. I’ll never forget the equally eager smiles. That bouquet held so much promise of beauty. The perfect representation of the new life growing

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This Is What I Learned About Love From 2 Great Men

This Is What I Learned About Love From 2 Great Men

(Listen to the audio version of this article here.) “Did you throw the dinosaur in the trash?” I sent the text as a question, but I knew the answer. My husband, God bless him, was cleaning out our car yesterday. He just felt like it; he had time off. He’s one of those productive personality types. What was my response to his unprompted help? I sent him an accusatory text about throwing away a green dinosaur costume for our toddler that had been sitting in the car for who knows how long. Don’t worry. I dug it out of the trash along with a children’s book “that I love” (even though I had completely forgotten about it). I also let my husband know that

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When Desperation Comes, Why Choose Suicide?

When Desperation Comes, Why Choose Suicide?

Did you know that one of the most influential pastors and preachers of the Christian faith struggled with depression and even suicidal thoughts? Known as the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon’s work has provided an intangible, yet very real hope for people over the last 100+ years. The same mind that dwelt in dungeons of darkness also created quotes reflecting glimpses of a brilliant light… “Those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.” “By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.” “Our infirmities become the black velvet on which the diamond of God’s love glitters all the more brightly.” Sounds like a man who is able to find and focus on the good no matter how hard the bad.

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My Secret to a Long-Lasting DIY Manicure

My Secret to a Long-Lasting DIY Manicure

I’m a girly-girl, but I’m also practical… So I’ve always aspired to have an enviable set of nails. However, when I paint them myself, it seems to only last a day or two (at best) without chipping. When I loosen my money pouch and go to the salon, they look lovely—but it’s time-consuming and expensive to maintain. Then I met Cayly. Cayly is a friend of mine who happens to be a hairstylist at Ulta. She always had great-looking digits and finally told me her secret… CND’s Stickey Base Coat and Super Shiney Top Coat. Each bottle is about $12.50, but totally worth every penny. Plus, you can often find each item on Amazon for a cheaper price. Application Tips for Maximum

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Teachers, We’re Praying These Things For You

Dear Teachers, We are praying for you… For energy to keep up with your students, lesson planning, grading, covering other teachers’ classes, and the many additional things that go on behind the scenes. We pray for encouragement when you’ve already spent all of your energy for the week, but it’s only Tuesday. Thank you for your dedication and perseverance. For wisdom when you face a difficult situation, whether it includes students, parents, school faculty, new policies that you may not agree with, or procedures that make your work more difficult. We pray for discernment as you navigate your way through the facts and emotions, seeking to serve others both justly and fairly, but also with kindness and compassion. Thank you for your grit

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10 Things That Make a Woman Beautiful

10 Things That Make a Woman Beautiful

Here are 10 qualities that make a woman beautiful: 1. She can laugh at her silly mistakes, knowing it doesn’t diminish her dignity. 2. She gives the benefit of the doubt. 3. When she comes across something that reminds her of someone special, she buys it for them. Just because. Even if it’s just a candy bar. 4. She gets to know the people around her: baristas, security guards, receptionists, etc. Strangers become her friends. 5. She chooses to see the good in all people, knowing everyone is a work in progress. 6. She can let go. 7. She’s humble, but finds satisfaction in a job well done. 8. She’s strong, but she doesn’t use her strength to push other people around.

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Breaking Up Made Me a Strong Woman

How Breaking Up Made Me a Strong Woman

Once upon a time, I was in a five-year relationship. There were good times and bad times, but overall—it was just a lot of time. A lot of shared experiences. A lot of shared life. It was a devastating loss at the time, but, now, I’m so grateful for the experience because breaking up made me a strong woman. Yes, I was sad when we went our separate ways. But more than anything, I was so incredibly lost. I didn’t know what to do with my time. I didn’t even know what I liked to do. I had no idea who I was by myself. I wasn’t exactly a fan of feeling my emotional pain; what I really wanted to do was fast-forward

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5 Things You Need to Quit Right Now

I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and came across a quote that said: 5 Things to Quit Right Now: 1. Trying to please everyone. 2. Fearing change. 3. Living in the past. 4. Putting yourself down. 5. Overthinking. That’s actually pretty good advice, I thought. So I took a screenshot of it and decided to take it to heart. Here’s why I think we should quit each thing on that list: 1. Trying to please everyone. It’s simply impossible, and if you live your life seriously trying to accomplish this goal, you’ll run yourself ragged… And probably feel like a failure, because it’s simply unachievable. Don’t do that to yourself. Be kind, respectful, and do your best to love your neighbor

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Just Because She’s Pretty, Doesn’t Mean You’re Not

(Listen to the audio version of this article here.) Do you have a friend who’s so beautiful that sometimes you find yourself staring, admiring? How about one who lives off of donuts and never lifts more than her purse but somehow maintains the body of a supermodel? Maybe you have a friend who always gets what she wants, and everything seems to go her way. Or what about your funny, charismatic friend who lights up a room and makes even strangers feel like they’ve been life-long friends? Have you ever noticed your friend’s beauty, talents, opportunities, or life as a whole and then suddenly felt like you got the short end of the stick? It’s not a fun place to be, and

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Strength After Hurricane Ian: My Letter to the Community I Love

Good morning, friends. This is the first moment I’ve been alone, with power, internet, and a glass of clean water that came from the faucet since 5AM on Wednesday, September 28th… the day Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida. But I’m still not in my own home; I’m in Michigan. I could tear up over the feeling of relief in the reprieve, but I also feel incredibly guilty that I’m not home, doing my part. I don’t think I’ve had a chance to process the past 10 days yet. I feel like we’ve just been in survival mode, living life on adrenaline and what feels like a constant road trip, never sure where my things are—at my parents? My in-laws? Our

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