Hi I'm Ashley Danielle
I grew up in Southwest Virginia. I attended college at Brigham Young University and was getting ready to start my program for Social Science Teaching Secondary Education when I met my husband. He was heading to medical school in Arizona...so that's how we ended up in Phoenix. We are in his final year of med school now and I have worked as a Garnishment Specialist in the Payroll Department for a major grocery chain since we moved to Arizona. In my free time I enjoy making crafts, watching movies, organizing, learning new skills...I just enjoy a lot of things really. I've decided that you can have fun doing anything as long as you have a good attitude and the activity is uplifting.
Why I am a Mormon
As a mentioned before, I have been a member of the church my whole life, but that doesn't mean it was always convenient or that the only reason I go to church is because I grew up in it. I'm from rural Southwest Virginia. The church is still very small in this area of the country. Growing up I was often challenged about my beliefs "as a Mormon"...even during class! Though I was often put into uncomfortable situations by others who tried to intimidate me, my testimony and faith in the gospel only grew more because I had to know for myself what I was standing up for. I can tell you right now that if I did not believe in the teachings of this church and have a testimony, I would have left the church back in high school when the pressure from peers was so intense. The Church has been such a blessing in my life. I can honestly say that I made it through high school completely unscathed because I was obedient to principles and standards I learned at church in my youth. I did not struggle with alcohol, smoking, pornography, immodesty, sexual exploration...and the list could go on for miles about what teenagers struggle with. The reason I didn't struggle with those things is because I believed what I learned at church about standards the youth should live by, such as, not dating until 16, dressing modestly, listening to good music and only watching clean movies. I learned that I was a daughter of God, that staying morally clean would bring me closer to the Lord, and that I could have a happy marriage and family if I follow the principles I learn at church. Church standards helped me stay on level ground and feel good about myself during a time when my peers were living on roller coasters of high emotion and then deep depression. Living these standards still help me feel clean and allowed me to feel the spirits guidance a lot more in my. I'm able to recognize the spirit more easily when I live in accordance with the standards of the church and when I obey commandments. I have a testimony that grows everyday and is strengthened as I continuously try to live the gospel more fully in my life.
How has your knowledge of the Plan of Happiness changed/benefited your life?
Knowledge of the Plan of Happiness has given me an "eternal" perspective on life, meaning I have always been able to take a look at the big picture. It has helped me focus on the things that matter most to me: family, education, developing Christ like qualities...things that have a lasting effect and importance. When "everyone is doing it" and I don't feel right about "doing it" because of my beliefs, knowledge of the Plan of Happiness brings me courage to stand up and stay away because in the long run it won't matter if I am unpopular, not trendy, or "No Fun". I have felt so much peace in my life because of the awareness that death is not the end of my existence and that I will live with my family again. It eases the pain of loosing a loved one to know that the only thing separating us is a short period of time while I am still alive on this earth and that after I pass away we will be together again.
What have you done successfully to shield your family from unwanted influences?
As a family we set standards together that help us avoid such influences. For example, we had decided that we want to avoid the sexual content that is being thrown into almost every PG-13 movie these days. So our solution is to no longer watch PG-13 movies in the theatre. Instead, we wait for the movie we wanted to see to come out on DVD and then we watch the movie on our DVD player that filters out the unwanted content. We can actually enjoy the movie because we aren't worrying about the content that may pop up at any moment. We do have to sacrifice seeing the movie in theaters but in return we have saved a lot of money, avoided the material that we didn't want to see, and grew closer together as a family by setting a goal and achieving it together. Not to mention that Family movie nights at home can be just as enjoyable if not more so because you can make all of the treats you want without paying $5 per bag of popcorn.
How I live my faith
My current callings in the church allow me to teach and create activities for the young women ages 12-13. Each sunday we have a meeting that is specifically for the young women in the church ages 12-18 (I'm in charge of the girls ages 12-13). We have a lot of fun learning principles of the gospel and sharing stories about how the gospel relates to what goes on in their lives everyday. During the middle of the week we have a meeting that the girls can come to where we learn a valuable skill or just have a fun activity together. I am also a member of the activities committee in our ward, which allows me to help plan and carry out extra activities that are usually held once every few months where the entire ward comes for the activity. For example, just this past Saturday night we had a Ward Picnic. It included a Chili Cook off, lots of Hot Dogs, a baseball game, water balloons for the younger kids, and a movie with popcorn to round up the night. Ward activities are just a really fun opportunity to socialize more casually and to get to know the Ward members in an everyday situation rather then just seeing them at church every Sunday. I really enjoy both of my callings and even though it takes work, most of my favorite memories over the last few months involve my young women and the lessons and classes we have together.