Category Archives: Blogging

IMPORTANT: If you’re subscribed to my blog…

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThis blog will self-destruct in 3…2..1..

I kid. Well, kind of.

The thing is, I think we all know that this little blog of mine needs an extreme makeover. Can I be painfully honest for a moment? The way that this space looks makes me want to walk outside and scream forever. I loathe, despise and abominate it.  A designer, I am not—as evidenced by the unfortunate state of my house. Y’all, my blog looks like I made it in my spare time…because, well, I did.

For years, I’ve been longing for a space that feels just a little bit more like me. And so, Little Black Desk is finally getting a makeover! This is my last post on WordPress.com, so if you’re a subscriber, unfortunately you will be UNSUBSCRIBED by tomorrow morning. If you’d like to continue receiving my rants confessions stories in your inbox, please wander back to my site, http://ashleypdickens.com on Friday, and re-subscribe to my new feed. Note: the web address isn’t changing, but it is getting some bright red lipstick and a tight pair of Spanx. [Men, if  you don’t know what Spanx are, that’s a pretty charmed life you’re living. Carry on—nothing to see, here.]

There may be some down time on Thursday, but never fear! I’ll be back on Friday with a doozie. :) Thanks for your patience, friends. Let’s all bid a disdainful farewell to my junky old blog—I can’t wait to see you on the other side!

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My Eleventy-Billion Dollar Desk. [He Sees.]

Once upon a time [oh, just a couple days ago], I wrote a blog about a little black desk. A dreamy little number that I’d seen and fallen hopelessly, irreversibly in love with, but ALAS could never be mine because it was eleventy billion dollars.

That day, my perfectly-lovely-in-every-way dearest friend from growing up in Ukraine commented on a link to the story, saying “Ashley. I want you to have that desk. You need to buy that thing for yourself, and I would chip in a few dollars to help you! I’m sure other friends would too!”.

I thought it was precious. Precious and outlandish and heart-warming–…and I didn’t give it a second thought. I didn’t give it a second thought because the LBD that I’d fallen in love with was far too extravagant a purchase for me to even consider it this side of forty. Or a hundred and twelve. Owning it was as tangible to me as owning my own, personal submarine.

I logged on to facebook later that day and to my utter astonishment-…well, THIS:

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To my chagrin, my sweet friend Colin had started an online campaign where people could donate money to buy my frivolous little LBD. His description read as follows:

We all love Ashley. If you can’t remember why, start by reading here:

http://ashleypdickens.com/2013/05/08/my-little-black-desk/

And then recall that her ability with words is amazing.  I, on the other hand, do not get along with words.  So, the only way to thank her is to buy her the little black desk so that I can continue to read the words in a way that make me happy. 

I would pay $10 for a book that is trash compared to Ashley’s writing.  So, I figure, the least I could do is contribute $20 to a desk that will make her writing at least 3x as amazing.

When we reach our goal of 689.89 (including shipping and taxes!), we will tell Ethan Allen to “SHIP THAT DESK”!

If Ashley says “This is absurd,” you know this is a good cause.  Nothing is better than things that you don’t think you will ever get.  So give a bunch of money to something awesome.  Get her this desk!

P.S. Kellan has promised to give free room and board and coffee to any friends who contribute and then promptly visit them. 

I paused to look up aneurysm  in my medical dictionary, confident that I’d just experienced one. What!? I felt strangely like the first and last time that I tried a deep fried twinkie at the North Carolina State Fair-a sort of strange mix of wonderful and what-have-I-done. I had never been so mortified and felt so loved all at the same time! The absurd, precious gesture all by itself was what stole my breath away—and truly, it never occurred to me that it would actually work. I mean, sweet idea, but ain’t nobody got time for that!

Except, it seems that people did, in fact, have time for that. A lot of people. People that love me and love Kellan and care about hard years and what and if I write. From friends that danced with me at my wedding two months ago to friends from elementary school in Ukraine that I haven’t seen since I was twelve. My sixth grade teacher. My in-laws. My parents. My Aunt and Uncle. Friends living across the country and across the world. My sweet husband. People that should have spent that money on the houses and kids they’re saving for or the missionaries they give to or any number of things that really matter-but chose to spend it on me instead. Grateful tears spring to my eyes just thinking about them all.

Five days later, I was the baffled, rather speechless owner of an eleventy-billion dollar desk that never would have been mine any other way. Y’all. I feel so very, undeservedly, extravagantly loved. That silly piece of furniture is infinitely more special than it ever could have been had I ever defied reason and ordered it myself–and not because I love it. [Though I believe that my original blog leaves little room for discussion on that matter.] It’s special because I love the people that gave it to me. And for the rest of my life, every time that I sit down to write at my LBD, I will think about the way that those sweet people extravagantly, irrationally loved me. That eleventy-billion dollar little black desk points me to a God that sees me. A God that sees me in the midst of a world wracked by cancer and grief and a thousand other real problems, …and somehow, the trivial little things that matter to me still matter to him. God sees me. And God cares about my silly, little black desk.

I am indescribably grateful to those of you that cared, too. Thank you for reminding me that he sees.

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Filed under Blogging, God's faithfulness, My favorite people

My Little Black Desk.

It all started with a fateful trip to Ethan Allen.

I should clarify that I was not furniture shopping at Ethan Allen. This is NOT like the very first time that I ever met Kellan’s sister Keri for coffee at the Mad Hatter cafe, and I walked in sheepishly holding a bottle of Figi water. To my great chagrin, Kellan had INSISTED on buying it for me earlier in the day even though everybody knows that nothing makes you look like you think you’re Madonna faster than a bottle of Figi water.  I wish I could tell you that I didn’t spend ten minutes in a fluster attempting to explain the whole I-didn’t-want-this-Figi-water-I’m-really-not-a-diva situation to Keri…but sadly, that would be a lie.

It was love at first sip. Keri and I have been like peas and carrots ever since.

But no, that day at Ethan Allen was actually an accident. After weeks of eating dinner on the kitchen floor and sharing our ONE black hand-me-down recliner [bohemian and romantic? Yes. Squished? Also yes.] Kellan and I began hunting for furniture at every super-sized furniture warehouse and Walmart in Albany. One weary, gray afternoon as Fancy and I puttered down the road, I spotted an Ethan Allen design center out of the corner of my eye. Recognizing the name and armed with no other information whatsoever, I pulled into the parking lot, waltzed in the front door and immediately realized that there were a myriad of fantastic bargains to be had as long as you didn’t consider the US dollar to be an actual measure of currency.

But y’all. It was all just so breathtakingly beautiful and homey that I was absolutely compelled to wander the store. Just to see. Just to daydream a little bit about maybe-one-day.

And that’s when I spotted it.

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A little black desk tucked away in a corner underneath an oversized window. Simple, dainty and elegant, it had antique looking legs and a little drawer that looked suspiciously like it might just be the perfect size for stowing my laptop. Never had I ever fallen in love with a piece of furniture before, but I knew without hesitation or reservation that this was the real thing.

Hello little black desk. Let’s run away together. And get married. And have kids and drive them to soccer practice.

I could see my little black desk and I living happily ever after, spending hours together writing the next great American Novel while Kellan spent his new found free hours training for a triathalon and falling asleep to the soothing lull of ESPN. How could I say no to something that would CLEARLY dramatically improve the quality of my marriage!? How grossly irresponsible would that be!?

…alas, reason dictated that there were more pressing purchases to be made—and my torrid affair with the little black desk ended before it began in favor of a stable and committed relationship with a very sensible cream colored couch at a store across town. All too soon, my little black desk and I were forced to bid each other a tearful goodbye. Still, I couldn’t shake the idea of it when I got home.

And out of the idea of it, friends, is where the new name for this blog was born. While the desk that I use to write happens to be Kellan’s ancient put-it-together-yourself contraption from the Walmarts and thus looks approximately nothing like the desk of my dreams, I do write my stories from a little black desk. And while I love the stacks of blogs floating around about the latest trends or how to make your hair look like Jennifer Aniston’s [and don’t let my hair deceive you: I read and enjoy those blogs!], mine is nothing like that. Here, you’ll just find stories. Stories from My Little Black Desk.

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Filed under Blogging, My ghetto-fab life, Then I found $5.00

[Not] An Extreme Makeover.

DSC_0228It was just another unspeakably sweltering, shut-in Tuesday night in Senegal when I began telling stories in my own little corner of cyberspace.

Options of things to do post seven PM in a Muslim country in Africa quickly become rather limited when you’re not allowed outside after dark. And so I began to write.

Some of you began reading way back then. You knew why I’d moved to Africa, and ached with me over stories like Aya’s. You offered a compassionate listening ear as I detailed my affair with Mohammad the fruit stand man, my almost-forced-marriage to sweater vest man, and ranted about doing laundry in the bathtub. You were there through birthday salmonella, black Santa, and Ian’s favorite story.

I titled my blog “Audacious Faith” years ago, because at the time one of the primary purposes of my writing was simply to keep people back home in touch with what God was doing in Africa as He slowly taught me what it looked like to live my life as though Jesus really was who He’d claimed to be. As though He really was as loving and powerful and willing to save as He’d promised. And I began to learn, in light of that, what it looked like to begin to take bold steps of faith that were in line with THAT God instead of the small one in my head. It’s a lesson that I am still slowly learning with all of the grace and poise of a child learning to walk.

After Africa, I stopped blogging with any regularity. I suppose I was busy convincing my boss that picking up his decaf latte was not, in fact, in my job description, falling hopelessly in love, getting engaged, planning a wedding and walking through cancer. I missed it though, because writing makes me feel. It makes me remember. It makes me avoid doing laundry, and that just feels right. And now that I live in Albany, writing ensures that when Kellan gets home from work, I have approximately 20 minutes less of pent-up thoughts to unload on him.

To my sweet husband, that translates to 20 solid minutes of ESPN GOLD, friends.

And so I’m writing again. I write because I love it, and because something in me needs to. And as I begin writing again, you’re going to start noticing some changes around my blog. For one, the domain address will reflect the name change that I haven’t technically made legal yet. [One thing at a time.] AshleyPDickens.com it is! If only changing my driver’s license were this easy. You’ll see my blog title change, not because my content will change in the slightest, but because I’d hate for someone to be turned off from reading simply because my blog title is Christianese. This isn’t an Extreme Makeover–just a fresh coat of paint and maybe a new lamp or two. So while you’re holding your breath, I won’t hold it against you if you cheat and breathe through your nose just a little bit.

Thank you for reading. My husband owes you a debt of gratitude for his extra ESPN time!

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Filed under Blogging, Senegal

And I [Still] Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For…

I fell into the blogging world entirely by happenstance. I was bored on a Tuesday, February night in 2010, and had long since grown weary of people’s mistaken assumption that you need to be perfect to do what I do. I wondered if my messy, absurd stories might encourage other messes like me to believe that God wants to use them, too. I wanted to shatter the Precious Moments stereotype associated with being a missionary in Africa-you’ll find no carrot bottom jeans here! [Dirty Carolina T-shirts, however, I have in spades.]

Not surprisingly, it was proving impossible to keep every single friend back home up-to-date with my third world adventures, and I wanted a way to take the foreign statistics that I grapple with every day in Dakar and turn them into names and faces and stories for people that have never stepped foot in Senegal. Writing makes me feel. It makes me remember. It makes me avoid doing laundry-and that just feels right.

Fifteen months later, there are approximately 200 of you that read this blog on a regular basis-and I only know who about sixty of you are.

Which begs one simple question: who are the rest of you, and how did you stumble upon my little corner of cyberspace?

To my endless entertainment, in addition to providing key bits of information such as how many people read my blog every day, wordpress also provides me with a list of search engine terms that have led people to Audacious Faith. [Never fear. I don’t like it either, and a name change is on the horizon after I leave Senegal.] Said list of search engine terms has provided me with hours of quiet amusement as I’ve snickered and wondered to myself how many missionaries have “butt naked redneck” lead to their blog. [Should I be embarrassed or proud? The jury’s still out on that one.] I’ve been meaning to share a list of the most entertaining, baffling, favorites with you for some time now.

Before we begin, you and I need to come to grips with the startling number of people that cannot spell the word “audacious”. I’ve seen every variation of it known to man-“audatious”, “audious”, “audashish”, “adauisus”…the mind-numbing list goes on. Fellow spelling enthusiasts that are as appalled with the American educational system as I am: I salute you.

As we both might have expected, scattered throughout the search engine term list are an infinite number of references to Christmas! Everything from the Grinch, White Christmas, “simply having a wonderful Christmas time”, references in some form to every single character on The Charlie Brown Christmas, Christmas trees, mistletoe, who hash, how to make who hash [and goodness, I wish I knew!], roast beast, snow, sleigh rides…

Bring it back, fellow Christmas elves. We’ve got to keep the celebration at bay until at least August.

References to Christmas, I expected. There was, however, no anticipating these little gems…

The Best of the Search Engine List.

 

1. Ballet Mom. [Go figure. I cannot tell you how many blog hits I’ve gotten from “Ballet Mom”. It’s embarrassing.]

2. Dashing through the sand.

3. Chocolate chip cookie dough pancakes. [This. Is. Brilliant. Don’t hide that creative spirit under a bushel, you budding gourmet!]

4. Coffee moments. [You can never have too many!]

5. Antique apple cider press. [Come again?]

6. It’s a ghetto fab life. [And indeed it is.]

7. Jesus Beanie Baby. [Coming this fall to a Kohls near you!]

8. Trollcat. [No. Idea.]

9. Best Water guns of 2010.

10. Her headshave in Wallmart. [For your edification, I’m going to preserve the original spelling on that one. Sadly, this would not be the strangest thing I’ve seen in a Walmart.]

11. Horrible birthday.

12. Dental hygienist flosses painfully.

13. Humiliated by dental hygienist. [Ah, friend. This is a safe place.]

14. Goats marriage.

15. Toaster oven cake.

16. Ghetto streetmeat.

17. Redneck girl underwear.

18. Hot plate recipes Africa. [I saw this, and felt instantaneously connected to you, whomever you are.]

19. “Like Mother Like Daughter” tattoo.

20. Jesus loves you a latte tiles. […This is mortifying to me. Whomever you are, if you’re still reading, I implore you to cease and desist your Christian knick knack search immediately.]

21. Senegalese coffee. [Palatable only if you first sear your taste buds off your tongue with an iron.]

22. Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.

23. I keep blowing the fuse on my Christmas Tree. [I apologize, I was probably no help with that one.]

24. White butt tube. [I don’t ask questions, I’m simply here to report the facts.]

25. My naked butt.

26. White naked butt.

27. Almost butt naked. […there is no excuse.]

28. Miserable job.

29. Fattest baby alive.

30. Magic 8 ball decides my life.

31. Full body scabies.

32. Cow chicken dentist.

33. The best part of waking up is coffee that’s been pooped by a cat. [I kid you not.]

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to wonder what on earth this blog is about. ;)

It might sound nonsensical, but there has been something immensely comforting in knowing that you were reading my stories. On the lonely days in Africa, that simple fact has made me feel…well, not. Feel free to remain anonymous-indeed, I stalk a myriad of blogs that I’ve never once commented on. However, if you have a minute, I’d really love to know who you are! If you woke up on the wild side this morning, you can leave a comment or drop me a line at ashley.elizabeth.peterson[@]gmail.com.

Whomever you are and however you got here-thank you for reading. :)

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