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. :)

Comments

  1. Tricia King says:

    Well, you know I am one who has openly confessed to being completely obsessed with your blog. So no new disclosure here. But I have been meaning to say that I sure hope this blog continues (under whatever name you choose) long after you return from Africa. The updates on life in Africa and your work there are wonderful. But your writing – whatever the subject – is just completely captivating and I hope it continues. And as I have told you, I have shared your blog with MANY so I know some of those are among your “unnamed”. And they all enjoy it as much as I do!

    So here’s to continuing the blog! Or to beginning to write books – I will be first in line to purchase a copy!

    Can’t wait til you are back and can visit Atlanta!

    • You are so sweet! Thank you for being so encouraging throughout these two years in Africa. Your blog comments/emails/facebook posts/Christmas package [six months! Just six months!!] have meant more to me than I can say. And I can’t wait for coffee and cinnamon rolls soon! :)

  2. Megan Blanchard says:

    I can’t deny it, I am whole heartedly addicted to Audacious Faith. I can’t help it, I click on that silly link every time I see it on FB, and I can’t avert my eyes once I’ve started reading. I seriously laugh out loud with you, cry with you and “feel” all your going through. I can’t imagine what you do on a daily basis but at least I can sometimes try to see it in my mind. You write with such humor and joy its unbelievable. You manage to make my quiet little boring life with 2 kids in suburbia a little more “colorful”. Thank you for all you do over there Ashley and thank you sooo much for letting us all see it ;) When I see you and hear your words I can’t believe its the same little crazy girl I used to take home on the Metro all those years ago. I’m so proud of you!

    Thank you for the reminder of God’s Love, Grace, Mercy, and Sovereignty, and how it looks in an everyday life. Please don’t stop writing when you return to the States, it would make me so sad :(.. You have a great gift please continue to use it and keep us all posted on your next big journey in life!

    38(?) more days!!!

    In Him, Megan ;)

    • I remember thinking that you were THE coolest thing as a little girl. :) [Your Clueless Halloween costume? Yes, I remember that. ;)] Your note made me smile-thank you so much! It means a great deal to me for you to have followed all of this. I maintain what I said a year ago-you ought to start a blog!

  3. Cindy Peterson says:

    Dear Ashley,

    I know that his comes as a surprise to you, I read your blog. You make me laugh out loud and move me to tears. More than anything, I just feel proud that I have had the privilege of being your Mom. What a precious gift you were from Jesus.

    Now, I beg you to before your avid fans to commit to never taking away pudding night when I come to live with you in my old age. It may be coming sooner than you think. :) PLEASE???

    Love,

    Mom

  4. Laura Adams says:

    Oh Ashley! If you only knew…I sent the link to my mom who quickly forwarded it to her entire church after reading your genius blog! Granted, her church is less than 40 people, but I’m fairly certain that at least one of them clicked on that little blue link in their inbox.

    I’m with Megan and Tricia! My friends who know you (and yes even those who don’t) and read your blog agree that you have a beautifully captivating style of writing that we only wish to possess one day! Keep the blogging up! It’s seriously an encouragement to those of us who daily face awkward/funny moments and are reminded that we too can use them for the glory of God.

    Love you dearly!
    Laura

    PS: Love being in the 30s!

    • I just love you. :) You’re sweet. [And bless your cute Mom!] Thanks La. And can you BELIEVE we’re in the thirties??? …what are you doing June 30th? ;)

      Cannot. Wait. For coffee with you.

  5. Heather Phillips says:

    Hi Ashley!

    I read your blog! But I don’t read it as much as my sister who I introduced it to! She adores it and would probably finally comment today if she weren’t on summer project in Sarajevo! It started when I read your blog about your proposed dowry of many goats to my mom and her. They both absolutely roared with laughter and my sister became a devoted reader. She and I have discussed your future career and agree that you should undoubtedly be a writer in some form or fashion! You have a real talent.

    I was sad not to be able to boustrophedon about Europe with you et al. on this year’s Grand European Adventure, but I trust it was filled with wonderful and fun memories. It’s been a pleasure to read about your journey. Your love for Jesus and for the Senegalese and your irrepressible spirit shine through in every entry. I do hope you continue to write for us (your blog audience!) even after you get back from Stint (the remix).

    Blessings,
    Heather

    P.S. Loved some of the crazy searches that led people here! Thanks for sharing!

    • Heather! It’s so good to hear from you! Ha, that blog about my engagement to Sweater Vest Man was one of my favorite stories in Senegal. :) And our European adventures comprise some of my favorite stories ever! Sadly, I missed boustrophedoning this year-I was home for medical stuff. C’est la vie. I’d love to catch up sometime and hear about your life! And please tell your sister thank you for reading from me. :)

  6. Melissa Bishop says:

    Ashley,

    I am one of the many that Trish King introduced to your blog. Trish and I have been friends since our freshman year at Auburn. And 30 years later we still talk almost daily and confide anything and everything:) So she knew how much I would enjoy your writing.

    Although I don’t know you personally, I have so enjoyed reading about your daily life. Your blog causes many emotions. I have laughed out loud, smiled alot, and cried many tears about the people you try to show God’s love. The post about the little boys that are given up by their families had me in tears. I don’t know them but their faces are burned in my mind and their story forever on my heart and I pray for them daily.

    I have told Trish that if you do anything other than write you will have missed your calling. And I am sure I am like so many others that hope you continue this blog after you return home. I would be second in line behind Trish to purchase your first book:)

    • Mrs. Bishop,

      This might sound odd-but I know exactly who you are! Mrs. King and Jess have both told me all about you. :) [You’re quite popular in that household, as I’m sure you know!] Thank you so much for reading, and for your sweet encouragement. I so appreciate you following my stories for these two years! I’d love to get to meet you in person one of these days. :)

  7. Gail Casurella says:

    Ashley,

    I have enjoyed your blog so much these last two years. I remember so well how excited you and Christy were at Jessica’s wedding — leaving for a new adventure the next day. I know it has been a long and difficult (in some ways) journey, but you and your team have done a fabulous job and have, I feel sure, changed lives forever.

    Savor these final weeks and come home to all who love you. You’ve earned that hot shower and fresh cup of coffee!

    Gail Casurella
    (Jessica’s ‘Aunt Gail’)

    • Aunt Gail!

      You are so sweet. :) Ha, yes, you were there when Christy and I were entirely overwhelmed and had no idea what we were getting into! […and that’s probably a good thing. ;)] Thank you so much for reading over these two years-I look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!

  8. 4 years ago this girl showed up at my apartment, met my dad, said “I think I live here,” locked herself in her room for a week and then blew up my oven with a turkey.

    Amen.

  9. Ps I love that my whole family has commented. Hi mom, Gail, and Melissa!… (waves).

  10. Melissa Bishop says:

    Ashley, I would love to meet you in person, I say coffee and cinnamon rolls at Trish’s house:) And Jess I love how you included me in “family”:)

  11. Tricia King says:

    Ash, I told you I am responsible for a number of your previously “unnamed” readers! Gail and Melissa are only the beginning. . . :) Perhaps I should be your agent when you begin writing professionally!!!! Holding you to the coffee and cinnamon rolls.

    • Haha! If you can figure out what on earth that book should be about, I’ll take you up on it. ;) The coffee and cinnamon rolls, however, are a given!

  12. I love that people actually replied!

    You know me.

    What are carrot bottom jeans?

    You have me to thank for making your mom stop wearing denim jumpers.

    Back to organizing photos.

    Love you.

    Miss you.

    Don’t kill any project kids today.

    K?

    • I know, so fun!

      Welcome home, by the way. :)

      Carrot bottom jeans are the really tight, straight-down jeans that they wore in the eighties.

      And thus far, all of the summer project babies are still alive. Win. ;)

  13. so many of these titles are lost to me. Looks like i’ve got lots to catch up on. YAY. GOOD reading for a rainy day! YESSSS

    • The blog titles? This one is a U2 song. :)

      And BLESS rain! Oh goodness, do I ever miss rain.

      I. Live. Inthedesert.

      It’sfine. ;)

  14. c block says:

    I began reading your blog about 9 months ago. I’m a teacher living in North Africa and have been for two year. Been coming to this country for 9 years.
    Seven days from today I’ll be leaving for good. Heading back to Texas to raise support to go out the following year.

    Your blog has been so neat to read, fun but even more than that I love how you’ve been so transparent.

    Keep being you.

    It’s for His glory that we do what we do.
    Blessings from a school a in Morocco.

    • Thank you so much for introducing yourself! What a fun thing to “meet” someone else that lives in Africa. :) I’m praying this morning for your time in Texas-I know how difficult that can be! Thank you for being willing to go through that to do what you do.

  15. Kim Kirtley says:

    Ashley,

    I was having dinner at Jason and Mary Storie’s house a few days ago and Mary asked me if I had seen this blog post. She asked full well knowing that I had, because she knows I check it every day. We talked about what an amazing writer you are and what a gift you have. Now I have a confession: I don’t like coffee. There, I said it. Please don’t put me on a plane to Africa and shove me in front of one of those buses that almost hit you. But Mary and I discussed that the way you write about a carmel latte makes me want one, even in the African desert. :)

    I started reading your blog back in the fall when Mary gave me the link to it. I then became your liason to our Bible study, updating my girls on your adventures through your blog. One of them will be STINTing next year in Senegal, it’s so neat to see all that the Lord has done. Oh and thanks for skyping with us when you were back in the States, we all loved it!

    As the others have said, please don’t stop writing. Thanks for doing what you do. :)

    • No coffee!?

      NONE?

      You ought to get a medal for making it through college without addictive legal stimulants. ;) Well, if you and I ever get to hang out in person, you can just have tea. Thank you so much for all the work you’ve done this year in helping me stay connected to your Bible study-I loved skyping with you guys! And the car packages and letters that y’all have sent have been unbelievably encouraging. [I’m STILL re-reading those magazines.] I can’t wait to follow the adventures of next year’s STINT team with you-I’m thrilled we’ll have one of your girls here!

  16. Jennifer McDonald says:

    Hi Ashley!

    I read your blog too! I’m actually friends with Heather Phillips, whose sister introduced me to your blog back in December. I am probably as a devoted reader as she is! It all started with the goat/dowry/Sweater Vest man story that got my attention and kept me clicking back for more humorous stories from Senegal!

    As a person who’s waiting to hear back about doing international missions now that I’ve graduated, it’s refreshing and encouraging to hear stories from the field. From the hilarious cultural differences to the serious needs of people to hear the gospel, this blog has given me a real-life perspective of being a missionary. It’s shown me that living in a different context may not be easy, but with God, He is all I need. So thanks for all you’ve done and will do! May the Lord continue to use you in Senegal and wherever is next for His glory!

    Jennifer

    • Jennifer! It’s so nice to “meet” you. :) What corner of the world are you headed to? It’s encouraging to me that you feel like some of these stories have given you a real life perspective on being a missionary. That’s a huge part of why I’ve written them. Living in Africa has taught me in a very tangible way that Jesus really is all I need-…I think I knew that before, but now I really believe it. Having all of your coping mechanisms stripped away will do that. ;) I’m excited that you’re heading to the world, and would love to follow your adventures if you intend to blog!

      • Jennifer says:

        What corner of the world am I headed to? …Lord only knows! Right now I’m in this transitional waiting period to hear back from my organization. But I’m pretty much open to go wherever, which is nice to be open to possibilities but extremely frustrating for the indecisive person that I am! Can you relate?

        Your blog definitely gives me a fresh perspective on being a missionary especially as a non-married woman on the field! Although, I’m sure at some point you’ve gotten fed up with the marriage proposals from all the Senegalese men. :)

        Whenever I do figure out where I’m headed, I’ll definitely blog back at home! You’re more than welcome to follow along, but be forewarned of my spelling and grammatical errors that are sure to pop up from time to time!

        Happy Summer Projecting!

  17. Madeleine Phillips says:

    Hi Ashley!

    I’m Heather’s sister that she mentioned in her comment above. And she’s right: I am a devoted reader, and I would have commented back in May, but I’m just now catching up on the blog posts I missed while I was on summer project. :) So even though this comment comes late, thank you so much for writing this blog. I love stories, and I learn through stories. God has used the stories you’ve shared here to encourage me, to burn my heart for those who don’t know him, and to remind me of what a treasure it is to know Jesus. (I might mention that He has also used your blog many times to make me laugh hysterically. Always a good thing.)

    Anyway, thank you for writing, and I hope you continue to write in some capacity now that you’re back in the states!

    Grace and peace,
    Madeleine

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