I stood at the earthly alter dressed in a beautiful white gown. Believing my life was fixing to be perfect. I was marrying “the man” of my dreams and believed I was grabbing hold of “the life” of my dreams. A fairy tale!
Full of hope to hopelessness.
From garments of white to rags of filthiness.
From a family of four to a single mother of two.
From a home and security to a rented house and unknown.
From standing at the earthly altar full of life to kneeling at the Holy altar of God begging to die.
My life as I knew it had stopped!
It was my darkest moment and I was literally begging -begging -begging God to take me – the pain was too great……
BUT GOD, stepped onto the battlefield of my wounded bloody mess and called me by name:
“Ashley, I AM right here! There is work to do.”
It was in that dark, ugly, broken shattered place of desperation and pain where He met me. The days ahead were long, uncertain, weary, and many times I felt hopeless – but he carried me. Step by step He upheld me and ushered in hope. The circumstances and rift between us (me and my X) did not speedily get better; no, it was years of hard cruel brokenness and the true ugly deep rips and division that divorce brings with it – seemed endless.
It kept me on my knees. Seeking His face. Jesus was my life support.
Through the next days, weeks, months, and years I would choose to face my pain and not avoid it. And in that holy place, He would begin pouring His resurrection – life, His redemptive healing, His sweet mercy and unending grace into the deepest and most desperate parts of my soul; this is where I learned how to fervently pray; how to wildly trust; how to boldly forgive; how to vulnerably love, how to firmly stand on His truth, and how to believe I was worthy and significant. I was His beautiful vessel –—— His Alabaster Jar! He was pouring His life into me; He was birthing something new and from the ashes of defeat- a new life was being birthed.
BUT LISTEN UP! I could not see it while standing in the middle of the raging storm winds; but now, looking back, I can see it with a new perspective. The darkness and pain made me the woman of light and beauty I am today (and I am still in the transformational process). It was in the pain where He changed me, molded me and revived me from the inside out. It was in the dark where He began excavating the pure gold from within me that had been buried under the rubble of lies, limiting beliefs, and landmines of fear and failure. You see, it took a storm and darkness for His light to have a place to penetrate and begin bringing forth the gold inside my soul.
As I reflect this week on a piece of my story – a sliver of my journey, I am THANKFUL for the pain. I am thankful I chose to not be afraid of my pain because, it had a powerful purpose. It allowed me to uncover, and embrace another piece of my “Original Shimmering Self! —– And it gifted me with the truth that “she’s been there all along”!
Listen beautiful one, regardless of what you are facing today, there is hope!
You have gold within you!
What pain are you in the throes of today? Are you afraid of your pain? I want to encourage you to listen: God is calling your name.
This week I want to pray over you with a gratitude prayer. Gratitude is such a powerful thing. When we begin to operate in fear one of the greatest things that we can do to calm or alleviate that fear is to begin to focus on the things that we are grateful for.
Listen and share with a friend!
I slammed the door shut on the political world about a decade ago.
Growing up in the political arena can do a number on your heart, which most outsiders will never understand to the degree of what I am speaking of (and that is perfectly ok). But for me, it is weaved throughout the pages of my story and has had a huge impact on my life.
My daddy used to always say: “Baby, you gotta have thick skin!”. But for some reason, I never could get my skin to be “that thick”! And believe me, towards the end of my dad’s 28 years as being the Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of Louisiana, I had been given plenty of opportunities to embrace this practice. However, when bold lies, ludicrous fabrications, degrading words, and gut-wrenching accusations, towards my dad, were repeatedly being blasted all over the news media outlets across the state, followed by several betrayals —— my head did not have a place to file this sort of cruelty. Many would say, “Oh, that’s just politics”. But for me, bologna, that’s just a lame excuse for broken people to try and break other people! And as hard as I tried, there was no “thick skin” for my heart to hide behind. Therefore, in my pain, I began building a fortress.
Pain gave me a new identity. Pain gave me the strength and gumption to build the facade around my heart and numb it. The foundation of my façade was poured on the footings of the limiting beliefs that: all people are cruel, negativity ruled, betrayal is inevitable, you can’t trust anyone, if you put yourself out there you will get slammed, and if you’re in politics, you are “free game”. The walls of my facade were constructed to keep the echoes of these hurtful words, cruel lies, and the possibility of more betrayal out. I had to keep it out. I had to protect. Out there was unsafe and yet inside my light was dimming. The pain was intense.
Looking back, I can see clearly now, this is where I began losing heart. BUT my daddy never did! He never lost heart!
He continued to walk in the ways of the Lord with purpose, passion, integrity, dignity, and with his head held high. He kept turning the other cheek and he would “cackle” and smile in the face of “haters”. His attitude and strength is truly something, this daughter, may never be able to fully understand. He had this supernatural strength. And I see it more clearly now than ever; He had deep-rooted beliefs and he would not stray from them. He always saw the best in others. He believed in people. He was a man of his word (you didn’t need his signature); He looked at every obstacle as an opportunity. He was kind and brave. He was a visionary. He was innovative. He was optimistic, even if it meant him standing alone. Yet he knew, he was never alone. He was operating out of “sonship” not as an “orphan”; something I would only discover later. He knew who He was and He lived out of that “True-Identity”. He knew he was born to serve. And serve is exactly what He did. He knew he was born to change Louisiana and change Louisiana for the better is exactly what he did. He knew he was created to be a difference-maker and boy what a difference he made. My earthy daddy left a glorious legacy far beyond what words on this page could ever fully articulate. And that legacy is mine. Hallelujah!
And yet, for me to receive this blessing, this legacy, to the fullness of measure, I had to go into the “shut off” dark places of my heart and allow my Heavenly Daddy to excavate these deeply buried gems.
You see when you shut out the pain you also shut out the beauty; when you shut out the bad, you also shut out the good; when you block off the suffering, you also block off the healing. When you shut your heart off —- you block it from EVERYTHING!
And so, a few weeks ago, I was invited to open the “political door” again. My head immediately said, “NO STINKING WAY! NO WAY!”. My heart said, “Don’t be afraid, ‘I AM’ is with you.” And the wrestling began: yes-no-yes-no! Through many weeks of prayer, I found myself standing at the threshold of this old but new door. With my hands and feet trembling, I knew it was time to enter in. I chose to open the door and step into the rivers of pain from my past trusting they would not drown me and believing that right there in the middle of my darkness God would shine His radiant light. And did He ever! Not only did He illuminate the darkness, but He also dismantled old lies, spoke fresh bold beautiful truth, ushered in deeper profound healing, removed the veil of bitterness and disappointment, restored what had been stolen, resurrected what had been dead, and rescued my heart – again!
OH, HE IS SO GOOD!
SO, LEAN IN!
THIS IS KEY! I had to choose to accept the invitation. I had to choose to open the door of my heart and step into the shadows. I had to choose to feel the pain, accept the pain, and thank the pain so I could forgive (others and myself), deeply heal, and begin living a life outside of the hiding, outside of the shadows, and outside of the bondage of fear.
So right there, on the other side of the “door” that I vowed to never open again, awaited me rivers of profound truth and oceans of deep healing.
AND THANK GOD, I CHOOSE TO OPEN THE DOOR!
What doors have you slammed shut and vowed to never open again?
Can you be open to the possibility that more healing could be available on the other side of that door?
Are you ready to choose God’s invitation to open the door and trust He has more for you?
I feel like there are so many different things going on and there’s so much need for prayer. So why should we pray?
We should pray most importantly because prayer is really the key to the heart of God. Prayer is aligning ourselves with the will of God.
Underneath her cloak of perfectionism hid an ocean of shame. Shame was her ugly comfort, but familiar, and it limited her beliefs. The limitations kept her stuck and gave her a sense of false identity. Subconsciously she had created her identity from her wounds and fear of the unknown kept her bound to the lies. It was darkness. Yet in her darkness there was a rumbling. Love was whispering her name echoing through the shafts of her insecurities. As curiosity allowed her heart to crack open for the first time since she could remember, it allowed another story to squeeze through the tiny opening and become a sliver of hope and new possibilities. And right there In the shattered-ness of her wounds, Light penetrated. It was in this Light that Love eclipsed her heart and began a stirring deep within. The eyes of her heart were opening and she could see for the first time, in the light, a table set before her in the middle of her war. And at this table was everything she needed for the journey ahead—- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Love would not leave her there alone and powerless in the dark. NO! Love called her out into a new season, into a new awakening, and into a new abundance of grace.
It was in this new place of connection with Love, her pain would collide with His presence and nothing would be wasted. In this place of Divine oneness, no perfection nor performance was needed— only Presence! And in the Presence of her Creator she began to awaken, rise up, and live for the first time since her innocence was stolen.
You see healing and wholeness is possible for you too. And you actually have a choice. Its a choice to journey into the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable. It’s a choice to accept yourself, trust yourself, and trust God’s goodness towards you. It’s a choice to be curious. It’s a choice to take a step of faith and walk into the darkness of your soul allowing His light to meet you there and then allowing His love and truth to transform you from the inside out.
Are you ready to heal ? Are you ready to be made whole?
Listen, He is calling your name!
Are you ready?
For this week’s blog, I was feeling inspired and called by the Holy Spirit to take this week and just pray over you. I want you to be able to go back and listen to this prayer and share it with a friend or with a loved one.
I want you to be able to come back to this when you need it.
The wind is blowing, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the river is rushing through its uncharted course (as it is a little high right now). I swing slowly back and forth listening to the chains creak and ponder my words. It has been a while since I have written a “blog”. The blogging platform is saturated and I consider “why bother”? This is a question I have considered often throughout the last month. I finally have time to sit and write; something I am wildly passionate about – but honestly “why do it”? Why not see what others really need and go and do that next thing? I mean who will even reads my blog? Right?
But, doing what others think I should do or going and doing what other people are doing is something I am far too familiar with. When I just hop around from one good thing to the next, it leaves me common, crazy busy, and drastically depleted. When I get out of my lane (my unique gifts)– I take my passion and my heart out of the equation.
The truth is I am a writer. I love to write. I love to encourage and mentor women through my writing. But even on a deeper level than that “I love to write”, I love to write – “with God”. I have found that doing what He’s created me to do “with Him” is far more rewarding than ever doing it “for others”. As I write and study and teach “with Him” intimacy grows, truth ignites, passion erupts, fear leaves, and healing oozes in like the sweet fragrance of fresh blooming camellias.
Piece by piece He restores my heart through what I love and desire and then it trickles with anointing onto others. Life “with God” makes my heart come alive. Writing “with God” makes my heart come alive. And my heart awakened and alive is where true beauty blooms forth.
One of my all-time favorite quotes explains this truth so beautifully.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
I am a small-town Louisiana Holistic Health & Wellness Coach, writer, speaker, wife, and mom daring to dream big. Obsessed with: hats, horseback riding, chips & salsa, face to face conversations, morning prayer and meditation, and my dog Tallulah. I believe love heals, God is faithful, and women are awakening and rising-up to live authentically!
Do you want to know what fires me up? Coming alongside women, connecting with them inside their stories, and creating a safe community for them to be seen and heard, because sometimes this journey gets lonely and we easily isolate believing we are the only ones having these struggles and somehow “we must be crazy”. We are secretly hurting and silently screaming and have no idea we are wounded and in desperate need of healing. We believe if we feel our true emotions they will consume us, so we push them down and put on the mask of people-pleasing and productivity. We live from our heads not our hearts; we believe we must prove our worth, secure our significance, and we easily get stuck in the cycle of shame and overwhelm.
If I can be the permission granter in your life for you to dare to uncover and embrace the truth of your significance and worth”– then my rising up will be worth it! And if I can help you experience healing, cultivate wholeness and become your truest self along the way then I will consider my time spent “well done”.
I believe you have a beauty of your own to offer the world and you are ready to live with confidence, purpose, and passion. I believe the “real you” is asleep and it’s time for you to wake up, embrace her and love yourself in the process. I believe you are unique, significant, and born to live brave. I believe you showing up for yourself and accepting yourself where you are, is a powerful key to transformation. I believe the world needs your gifts. And I believe you living awakened, authentic, and fully alive will allow you to experience the freedom you are longing for.
TOGETHER WE WILL HEAL AND RISE UP!
Chains of bondage wrapped so tight
One mistake after another, every day and night
Who had I become, and was there any end
To the misery, pain, and bondage I was living in
My truth had been distorted, and my heart stripped away
Would I always feel this worthless and picked “over” day by day?
I continued to give what I had, thinking surely one would see
I was worth something, and one would give back to me
But how could I give away, what I did not contain
How could I freely love, when all I felt was shame
If only I could stop this ride and start all over again
I would do things different, and not heap sin upon sin
Please, someone, tell me, there is something more
Tell me there is “light” behind these dark and heavy doors
Am I only fooling myself, and this is “just the way it is”?
For me to live behind the mask with my chains and my mess
And then, one day the WORDS came to me
It is “’I’ that you need, take My hand, I’ll set you free”
Who me? The broken one, rejected, scarred, and shamed
Yes, you! My chosen one, now let Me have your chains
If you will put your hand in Mine, and receive my glorious call
I will take you down the road less traveled and restore it to you all
Where ashes once were heaped, only beauty will reside
More beautiful than ever the Kinsman Redeemer’s Bride
There is nothing in your past or present to keep us apart
I pour upon you my anointing and redeem your broken heart
I will put joy in your heart and give you a garment of praise
And display you for My splendor for the rest of your days
The Bride of the Prince of Peace, the beautiful Bride of the King
You will wear My Robe of Righteousness, and I will wear all other things
I have redeemed you, restored you, and set you free
Now “reach out”, take My hand, and dance in liberty
You are My Darling Daughter, only fit for a King
Now live like you believe Me, and I will bless you beyond your dreams
I am not asking you to do it alone, just seek Me with all your heart
I am your Kinsman Redeemer, and I will do your part
I have covered you with My blood, and washed you white as snow.
You were bought with My Life, now you are radiant with My Glow
My faithful promises are your armor, so sore on eagle’s wings You are Redeemed and Restored; you are the BRIDE OF THE KING!
You’d think they would get easier, but they don’t. My heart sinks fighting back the reality of our departure as I desperately attempt to hold back the tears. When did she grow up? It seems just yesterday she would whistle her way into my room eager to “borrow” a few of my clothes. But today as I kiss her rosy cheeks and hug her ever so tightly, the good-bye hits hard. She’s a woman. She is a beautiful, Jesus loving, heart wide-open woman. I miss her more than the weight of these words could ever describe. Tears escape rolling onto the notepad as I type. I must let my heart feel the ache of this vacancy. I will no longer push it down and hide it with busyness. I must “stay WITH” God here (right now) in this uncomfortableness and invite Him into the tender places where a piece of my heart lives outside of me. I must allow Him to usher in more truth, more healing and more life. He alone is my comforter. And in the stillness, I can hear Him. In the stillness, He restores my soul. In the stillness, I am able to trust HIM more and more.
HE has my baby girl. He loves her more than I do. I don’t know how that is possible, but it is. As much as I want a “total do-over” and more time before this new phase, I love watching her grow and mature and become her truest self. She is so radiant, honest, and a lover of God and others. She is full of dreams, passions, and life. Her options are endless and her God is the giver of LIFE. Every day is a new opportunity and she is expectant and confident in God’s goodness. My tears flow through the sadness of our departure, but also through great joy in watching her soar (especially when she doesn’t even know she is soaring).
I choose to initiate her into womanhood and celebrate her new journey. It is her time to fly and I will not clip her wings, nor hold her back. I will bless her and cheer her on, trusting her heart is held by OUR GOD.
PS. I wrote this several years ago and wanted to share with all the moms who are sending their precious ones into a new season TO FLY. They need you to cheer them on and not hold them back. They need you to bless and release them, not hover and smother. God’s got them! And He has got you too.