July 24, 2012

the trade :: beauty for ashes

i thought of a million different ways to start this post, but the truth is i can't write anything catchy for what i'm going to talk about. my heart is seriously pounding.... it's something i've kept hidden away for a long time [with the exception of telling a handful of people] because i thought if i told people, it would define me as a person... but i was already letting it define me on the inside.... up until about a year + a half ago when i finally let God heal that part of my life...
...i was molested around 4-6 years old. i can't pinpoint the exact time frame because it happened a few times, all by my babysitter's teenage son. unfortunately, it's some of the most vivid childhood memories i have.
i know this is a serious subject to be talking about on the blog, + i can't even really explain why i'm writing about this except that i've been thinking about this for the last couple weeks, thinking that maybe sharing this story would bring hope + freedom to someone carrying a similar shame + baggage.

for so long, i thought things like -  i'm damaged. i'm tainted. i'm worthless. i'm ashamed. which is probably why i struggled with eating disorders + looked to relationships to make myself feel better. they were always empty by the way. i was still called chubby + i was still left at the end of a relationship feeling more unattractive + more tainted than before.

even though i was a christian, i struggled. it wasn't until i went through a beth moore study called 'believing God' that i realized what i had been doing for years [we're talking almost 20 years people!] i had never surrendered the shameful thing to God, never trusted Him to make the trade --- He had always asked for my ashes/my broken pieces, + promised beauty in exchange....... i just never offered it to Him. i never let myself believe that He could make beautiful things out of dust. i seriously cry every time i say that. it's miraculous + unbelievable that He pleads for our handfuls of dust because He wants to give us a beauty unfathomable + unimaginable.

when i finally did that - all i did was offer up those ashes with open, willing hands - God responded immediately, like He couldn't wait for me to give it up.

He started blowing my mind with blessings - our dear friend crystal invited us up for a summer in Montana [which quickly turned into 6 months, which turned into a move earlier this year], i started writing again + God gave me so much time to write in MT [God has put a vision in my heart for this book + i'm so excited about it!!], i'm doing what i love [art] for a living, i gained a bunch of amazing new friends, my marriage is awesome + thriving + full of love, + i'm filled with joy. i'm excited. i'm happy. i love this beautiful life that God has given me. it all might sound cheesy but i've never felt so free in my life.

if you've never given your entire heart to Jesus, i beg you to do so; you will be blown away with all that God gives you in return for your complete surrender.

"He will give them beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, + a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." [isaiah 61:3] 
....you are beautiful. you are NOT damaged beyond repair. 

"you will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God." [isaiah 62:3]
....you are a priceless treasure. you are NOT worthless. 

"but because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." [ephesians 2:4-5]
....you are loved more than you could ever imagine! 

God can + will redeem anything if you let Him.

i'm praying you'll let Him....

p.s. in case you're wondering, i go to fresh life church. :)


  1. This is absolutely beautiful Ashley. I pray the Lord uses your testimony in such a radical way to help other young (and maybe even older) ladies be free from the shame and be free in Christ!

    Blessings to you!!!

    Christina Lopez

  2. thanks christina!! blessings to you. :)

  3. Wow, I was brought to tears by your sharing this! I can completely relate on many levels! Thank you for being real and raw! Love you girl! - Charis

    1. love you Charis - you are such a beautiful woman of God + i'm blessed to know that you were blessed. xo

  4. Ashley:
    Reading this so makes me want to reach out and give you a hug!! To bare your soul and witness to the unknown is so powerful. Thank you for sharing your testimony and opening doors for others. "I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called" Ephesians 1:18.

    1. sarah! i'm giving you a hug through this comment. :) what an amazing verse, gave me chills - you are such an encouragement!! xo

  5. Ashley this is such an awesome testimony. I can't even begin to imagine the pain you have felt but what a blessing to know that God has used this to show you his love and freedom and to be able to share it with others. I hope we get to meet someday. You are beautiful on the inside and out. xoxo Britt Marie :))0

    1. thank you so much britt... i'm so blessed to know that you were blessed by it!
      + i feel so blessed to have met you over email - hope to meet you in person + hear your story too. :)

  6. You are going to be a key God uses through your writings to set many people free my dear. Your life and story is going to impact many and give them hope and courage again. So proud of you for sharing what I know has been a deep pain. Thank you for your vulnerability and courage. :)
    I'm so glad I've met you and I know you and Nick are so special to Kelli and Reed.

    1. thanks so much for the encouragement amy!! loved getting to know you too!! :)

  7. SO proud of you! Love you friend.

    1. love you friend... thanks for being there. :)

  8. Please don't make the sweeping generalization that all of those who surrender their heart to God will be richly blessed. This is not a universal truth. While I am sincerely happy that you've experienced restoration, others might not. Some will continue to struggle. This doesn't mean they love God any less. As believers, our Kingdom is eternal and blessings manifest in different ways. To say that if you do xxx, then you will receive xxx is misleading.

  9. dear anonymous,

    you're totally right: not everyone who surrenders their heart to God will move to montana & start writing a book! :) blessings do manifest themselves in many different ways... & all of them are awesome!! because God is awesome & loves to work in our lives, everyone's stories/blessings are tailor made... love that. :)
    i'm not promising a life without struggles [those are inevitable] - i'm just declaring the good works that God has done in my life.

    "but it is good for me to draw near to God; i have put my trust in the Lord God, that i may declare all Your works." [psalm 73:28]

    "i will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works." [psalm 9:1]

    "but He [Jesus] answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

    "blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we are comforted by God." [2 corinthians 1:3-4]

  10. Thank you so much for having the courage to share this!
    It hits a chord. I was just talking to a friend today about how liberating it can be to share our struggles (past and present) to somehow help others who may be going through the same thing. I love your blog and am going to go lurk around some more. You are an inspiring person!

    1. wow, thank you so much allie!! you're so right - it's liberating + refreshing to share our struggles with each other, not knowing who might be comforted by the healing we've received... God is so good! thanks so much for sharing this... really made my day. :)