What’s Your Story?

So here’s the thing. This little blog/social media following has been around for quite some time. There’s so many pieces of my story that I’ve shared but I’ve never really put it out in order that was helpful or that it makes sense. So while this won’t be a post directing you to my store or telling you about my products, it will be about telling you about me. The person behind this little corner of the internet.

I grew up in Polk County, Florida. A pretty large county in the heart of the I-4 corridor. Growing up, I was raised by my mom and step dad. I visited with my dad on occasion, but I mainly lived with my mom and step dad. When I say these two humans are some of the finest humans God has ever created, I mean it. My mother devoted her life to working in the fast paced world of the hospital. She put herself through x-ray school and always taught me education was key. My step father came into my life around the time I was four or five. He never had kids of his own and stood by that decision once my sister and I were in his life. He never wanted us to feel like second place. I think for most of my life, I never really understood the gravity of that choice he made for my sister and I. When I would visit my dad, there was always this one *boy* that caught my attention. He lived across the street and I pretty much spent every waking moment I was with my dad over at this boys house. This went on for several years until I decided at the ripe old age of 14 I had life figured out.. I needed to live with my dad and step mom. That’s the story I sold everyone. Truth is, I just wanted to be closer to this boy. He was very special and a good, honest guy. My take away from him was that he always told me to never settle. I sure didn’t keep that close to my chest but MAN, it was good advice as a teenager. A few weeks after moving in with my dad, Jimmy got his license. We were all so excited to ride to school all together. I felt like the coolest girl in the world riding in my boyfriends front seat. That didn’t last very long. Week three of driving ourselves to school and we were in a car accident. Jimmy died instantly. Dad was on scene. It was awful. Single handling one of the worst experiences that still haunts me to this day.

Growing up, I was in and out of church. I went to VBS, and Wednesday night supper was a baptist families routine. I knew about Jesus. I had not experienced Jesus. Those were two different things for me. I was baptized as a child in my grandfathers pool.

After the wreck, I remember being so upset over my boyfriend and my face. I remember selfishly crying about the scars on my face when someone said to me “None of that matters, God spared you, the word of God is what you need to focus on”. Still, I didn’t open the bible expect when at church. I guess you could say I am sorta of a stubborn gal.

I go through high school and struggled with so many things. My dad was sick, the wreck, my life was essentially never the same. After graduation, I decided to move out and buy my own house. I would work through college and live on my own because I had it all figured out. My dad was sick with cancer and watching that was just too much to bare. Once again, I acted as if I knew better than my parents. Not long after graduation, I met a Navy guy that would quickly turn into a marriage. I don’t have much to say about this because there’s not many good things I can say other than I have two healthy young men today because of this marriage. I will say, what God used this marriage to teach me is life changing. We were married for 15 years and it ended very badly. I have experienced what it feels like to lose everything and still have God by my side. I remember prior to our divorce and what “church” was like. We went, we sang, we prayed. We judged, we gossiped and we were not applying the biblical teachings to our lives. Again, I thought I knew, I thought I had experienced God. I had experienced church, but I still hadn’t experienced GOD.

While there’s so much more to say about that time, I want to move forward. I ended up meeting a fantastic man that not only loved me, but my boys as well. Shortly after meeting Jason, I began to do a study called “Experiencing God“. For so many years, I’ve said I was a Christian. This book, this group, really changed my life. I felt like for the first time I went to scripture other than just when I was desperate for help. I began to study my bible. I began to feel convicted about decisions I made. I began to see what God had for me all along. I felt God’s presence. In all of the bad times of my life, of course I could say I felt God in those dark dark times. But what about the sunny days? Was I thanking God or even talking to him at all? The honest answer is no. Not until that bible study.

You see prior to this, I thought God saving me through all of the traumatic things (so many left out of this blog post). was my testimony. Then I realized, no, God showing me that those traumatic things were NOT my testimony is the true growth. God showed me that I didn’t need to relay on bad things that happened or a man to define my story and who he has been for me. I could stand firm in knowing that I am ASHLEY. Perfectly created by God for the purpose he has for me. Not just to tell sad stories and be sad all of the time. The BEAUTY that has come from my story is evident. Trauma is something I will always speak about because well, I’ve experienced it. I have always been told that businesses should never put out their religious beliefs, but I am at a place in my life where I do not know what else to do OTHER than tell people what God has done for me. God saved me from a life of self pity. God saved me from myself. God saved me and taught me that no matter what handful of bad decisions I’ve made, he loves me and HIS GRACE IS ENOUGH.

I could put it in bullet points but the summary is that God has saved me from myself. God saved me from believing I needed anyone other than HIM to make it in this crazy world. I am thankful that God put a man in my life that sees that in me and allows me to be ME. Here I am still trying to figure it all out but what I will say is that for me, it’s more than just a Sunday morning meeting with my community. It’s about having God in the forefront of my heart and in every decision I make. Thank you to those that have stuck around. It’s been a long 14 years of business and I am so thankful for each and every one of you!