Today I introduce you to Ashley Schnarr! Ashley says:
For a long time I worked really hard to “guard my heart” thinking that meant not to get my hopes up or let my emotions go too far. Then I realized that verse is more talking about dwelling on truth than holding back emotion. I learned that you need to speak truth to yourself but can never love too much or too often, and it’s okay to feel. God gave us desires and emotions. They are good and actually really helpful tools of discernment.
I first met Ashley through her blog, StayatHomeDaughter.com. Something that always stood out to me about Ashley is how she is grounded in the Lord and using her single life to become a wise woman and prepare for marriage. When I reached out to her about doing this interview, she told me that she’s engaged! I’m so very happy for her! I told her I’d still like to interview her because she has so much wisdom to offer single women. And after all, she’s still single for a little while longer. I was right. Her interview is packed full of wisdom. She made some points that I never thought about myself, so I learned something, too. So today, enjoy Ashley’s words of wisdom.
Brenda: First, tell us a little about yourself – your name, age, where you live, and where you grew up.
Ashley: My name is Ashley Schnarr. I am 22, and I live in Virginia. I am recently engaged and neck-deep in wedding planning.
Brenda: Congratulations, Ashley! I’m so happy for you!
Brenda: So, where do you work, and how did you get started in your job?
Ashley: I am currently working as a nanny and have done child care for about 10 years. I love children, so it is a good fit for me. I started off working at a home day care one or two days per week, and the Lord kept bringing new opportunities to me.
Brenda: Do you feel like your job is God’s calling on your life or do you hope it leads to something else one day?
Ashley: I have a great desire to start a multifaceted ministry. I am not exactly sure of all the details yet, but this seems to be the direction God is leading me in.
Brenda: When you envisioned your life as a young girl, did you hope to have a career when you grew up or was your desire more for marriage and children or did you want both for your life?
Ashley: As a child, I think I always had desires for both. For a little while I considered having family as my only pursuit, but then I felt the Lord leading me towards both home ministry and outside ministry.
Brenda: What fires you up? What are you most passionate about in your life and in the world?
Ashley: A good theological debate gets my blood pumping, particularly on the subject of gender roles. I also have a passion for creating abuse awareness in the church.
Brenda: Are you involved in serving in your community or church? What, if any, ministries or organizations are you a part of?
Ashley: I have recently begun attending a new church and am still working on getting plugged in. After the wedding I think there will be a lot more flexibility for ministry. I do have a ministry called the Knit Together In Love scarf project. Every year I collect handcrafted scarves to give to missionaries to use in their ministries.
Brenda: Tell us one thing you LOVE about being single and one thing you hate (or your biggest struggle) about being single.
Ashley: One thing that I loved about singleness was the time to explore and get to know myself like one might get to know a new friend. I took some time a few months back to ask myself questions and discover who I am as an individual. That really turned out to be an exciting and fun time.
The thing I hated most about singleness was my unrequited desire for love and companionship. My desires for marriage have always been extremely strong, and it was frustrating and confusing not to have these good desires fulfilled.
Brenda: I imagine there are times when you feel content in your singleness and other times when you want to throw something across the room because of it, but overall, how do you feel about being a single woman? Is there more contentment and peace or more of the opposite?
Ashley: I had different seasons of singleness. Some seasons I felt happy and others I did not. I would say that over all my desire for marriage was strong and unforgettable. When I took that time to get to know myself and explore new things, meet new people and study new points in theology, I felt happy and purposeful though the desire was still strong. I think both strong desire for something more and happiness with your current life can exist together equally, though they did not always for me.
Brenda: Do you ever get mad at God because you are single? When bitterness, discontentment, confusion, and even jealousy creep into your mind, how to you deal with it? Do you have a go-to person or scripture verse or something else that helps?
Ashley: I don’t remember ever being mad at God about my singleness but I always had a lot of questions for Him about it. I came to realize my discontentment often stemmed from a low self-esteem and wrong understanding of God’s purpose and view of women. I started dealing with the self-esteem issues and studying the psychology behind them, along with studying the theology of what God really thinks of women and me in particular. That really helped me realize the lies I was believing about myself and opened a door to combat them with Truth.
Brenda: How do you deal with loneliness?
Ashley: I stayed really, really busy and tried to put myself in a lot of different social situations.
Brenda: Do you struggle with obsessing about guys and dating? Like, if you’re interested in a guy or if you just start dating someone new, do you think about him constantly, analyze every conversation, and get overly attached quickly? Is so (or if not) how do you deal with your emotions?
Ashley: For a long time I worked really hard to “guard my heart” thinking that meant not to get my hopes up or let my emotions go too far. Then I realized that verse is more talking about dwelling on truth than holding back emotion. I learned that you need to speak truth to yourself but can never love too much or too often, and it’s okay to feel. God gave us desires and emotions. They are good and actually really helpful tools of discernment.
Brenda: What is your biggest pet peeve about the way single women are perceived?
Ashley: I feel like a lot of times people assume that because you are single you are not a “grown up” or that you don’t have the potential to hold as much wisdom and life experience as a married person.
Brenda: Do you struggle with finding community in your local church? How do you find community in a world that seems coupled up?
Ashley: I really can’t say I had a hard time finding community in the church or community in general after I started actively looking for it. Sometimes you have to get out of your box, try new things, be smart and strategic about widening your social circle.
Brenda: Are more of your girlfriends married or single? How do you find authentic friendships as a single woman?
Ashley: I would say almost all of my girlfriends are single. My best advice for finding new friends is don’t wait to be invited to an event. Make your own event and ask people to bring a new friend or two. Be a social hub that encourages community.
Brenda: Our perception of you is that you are living a fulfilled, purposeful life as a single woman. You’re not waiting around for marriage, but fulfilling God’s call on your life now. What would you say is your secret to doing this?
Ashley: For me it was recognizing that I am a whole person in Christ and that I don’t have to wait around to be useful to Him or to have fun. I also found purpose when I allowed myself to be open to the fact that though God was calling me to marriage, He might also call me to another ministry or an occupation, too, and I can be pursuing that even now.
Brenda: What words of advice do you have for other single women who want to live with purpose now and not wait for marriage to start their lives?
Ashley: You are a whole, complete person in Christ. You have great value, insight and ability. If God chooses to bless you with a husband and family that will be a wonderful thing, but it is not your identity and it is not your only ministry opportunity. Get to know yourself and your strengths and spiritual gifting. Have dual dreams. Don’t just dream of marriage and a family, but dream of what God can do through you either in work or ministry. Pray. Dream big. Pray. Stop waiting and start pursuing.
A book that completely changed my life and really was the tipping point to finding a Godly husband is: Get Married: What Women Can Do To Help It Happen by Candace Waters. I’m telling you this will rock your world, give you hope, relief, and a plan.
Brenda: And some fun stuff!
Brenda: Which do you like best – Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest (or all of it!)?
Brenda: What’s your favorite drink?
Ashley: Mint Tea.
Brenda: Where would you want to live the rest of your life – beach or mountains?
Ashley: The beach for sure!
Brenda: Do you read more fiction or nonfiction?
Ashley: Always nonfiction.
Brenda: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Ashley: EXTROVERT!!! 🙂
Brenda: What’s something quirky about you?
Ashley: I am obsessed with lace and little black dresses! I constantly have to refrain myself when shopping from adding more to my collection.
Brenda: What else do we need to know about you? Where can we connect with you online?
Ashley: I am currently in a transitional time in my ministry. I will be getting married in November of 2014, and after that I plan to take my focus off of wedding planning and start pouring it into my marriage and jump starting a new ministry. I would ask you to pray that God would guide and direct me and my soon-to-be-husband in our new life together.