ASHLEY IS LOYAL TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY

One of the best things about Ashley is that she has never tired of turning our family back toward one another. She has relentlessly pursued deeper and stronger relationships with each of us and always wanted us to connect to one another verbally and over meals and on trips. She is very loyal and the connection to family and friends is very important to her.

We've enjoyed having Ashley come back home to live with us after graduating from Harding University with a degree in English. As a writer, I'm proud of Ashley as a curious writer. She wants to know how we know what we know. She asks good questions, and that's the mark of a growing writer.

Ashley has been part of a growing business the last two summers, a Pineapple Whip shop called Iguana Island, and one day I walked up to the window and saw a young man talking to her, one of the regulars. I knew that some of the regulars came not just for something sweet but also for the kindness and listening ear of Ashley. In every job, Ashley is dependable. I've never seen her arrive late to anything.

Jill and I sat down and listed the qualities that we admire and appreciate in Ashley, and below we will address Ashley directly. These are ways we see God at work in Ashley's life, and we want to share a few of these things here on my blog.

Just as God is love, we see love all over your life, from your many friendships to your love for Anna and Jacob, and your Mom and Dad. You love Jesus and enjoy worshipping him.

And that’s another thing we’re proud of you about: you have taken a step to join the praise team at Wright. God is pleased and loves to hear your sweet voice, and we also enjoy hearing you sing around the house.

You are smart. We like how you prepare ahead of time for papers and don’t wait till the last minute.

We’re amazed how conscientious you have been to wake up on your own each day and get ready and be on time to school. You have done this for many, many years, and it is wonderful not having to drag you out of bed, and you often wake first in the house, and this is a quality that will serve you throughout life, because of the old adage “the early bird gets the worm.” :-)

This word “conscientious” describes you in many ways. Your conscience is very active and you never want to do anything that is against the rules or would seem rude and you are very sensitive when others do rude things.

You are caring. You’ve always looked out for people who are not popular, been inclusive, and been a good friend to people. Most importantly, we noticed a quality of faithfulness in how you stay with friends.

You are loyal. The word Mom uses for you is that you are “loyal” to your friends, when many friends are “fair weather” friends. We see that loyalty throughout your life in many ways impacting our family and improving all of our relationships because of your example.

You are also impulsive. This can be a good quality and it can be a problem, but we like the way you take this impulsiveness and create fun spontaneous moments, flashes of joy in your life that you share with us. One common refrain is, “Can we go to Starbucks,” which says to us that you enjoy being together, being spontaneous and just hanging out.

You are fun-loving. One of the qualities of a person that others want to be around is “fun-loving” and you are definitely fun-loving. You are always ready to jump in and be part of kicking the soccer ball around the yard, go to a movie together, eat out, or -- well, sometimes, play a game. You’ve started liking Nurtz and that’s cool!

We always try to be positive with you by saying that your ceiling in your room sure is well-kept and tidy--but the rest of the room . . . well, we could call you care-free. You are not too worried about things that don’t matter too much. You try to focus on what’s important and not worried about other things falling by the wayside. We like that care-free spirit you have.

You are athletic and have stayed involved in soccer and volleyball, putting in the same faithful efforts in those sports as you have with friendships. You are loyal to your team and not about to quit when others are depending on you. You really have a big kick and have been a great wall of defense for the Wright team. We enjoy watching you and hope these skills continue to serve you even in club or intramural sports in college.

You are affectionate and have always craved attention and wanted to be near your family. Whenever one of us is gone, you want to know where they are. You have the same “love pats” issue as Mom had when she was your age. In other words, hitting means you love someone. Your Nammy says she was the same way. Some of us just need to remember that being hit means you love us.

You are word-oriented. You have really done well in all subjects but you’ve excelled in the word gifts, writing, singing, doing research papers. There’s no telling how many journal books you’ve filled with your stories. Several of those stories have been considered for awards and you were recognized for one of them even in grade school. Writing is a something that you will continue to get better and better at because you also love to read. Being a great writer means you have to be a great reader, and you are a great reader and writer. You express yourself really well verbally and in writing, and so you will do well at jobs and ministries where both are required in many ways.

Your enjoyment of music has spread to all of us, your taste in music is fun and full of joy. We like how you have spread this hobby to the rest of us, how you enjoy playing and singing songs and the sheer enjoyment of music. This is a gift from God to know how to sing and sing well, and you have that gift and use it well in worship to God. We know you love to sing in the car with the stereo blasting, and that’s a fun thing to do.

For seven years you've driven that 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix that your three cousins, Lauren, Jenna, and Brandon also drove! We’re proud of how well you drive and have been very safe with no tickets or wrecks. Keep up the great work. This has been such a blessing to our whole family that you can make it safely anywhere in town and you are a good driver so we don’t worry when you are out or worry when you have Jacob, Anna, or others with you in the car. Thank you for this peace of mind, and may God keep protecting you as you keep practicing good driving habits. We’re proud that you are--like we said before--conscientious and do not text or talk and drive.

In high school, we we’re proud of you winning roles in plays, and we were impressed when you have been in situations where you are reciting lines and singing. You love stories, plays, movies, and we want to keep encouraging you to follow your heart and do plays and films or write and whatever your gifts and heart is leading you to do with your gifts and growing skills.