wearetheparsons —> family bio picture
  • hi!

    there are five of us in this tribe. we are wild and messy and imperfect and vivacious and delightful. from adoption to raising nature-loving boys in the city, to being free-spirits who still have to be grown ups, this is our life.

    and I'm ash. although random, haphazard and somewhat inconsistent, this is the place on the interwebs where I am most honest about our life. and by honest, I mean brutally so. crappy grammar is likely, swear words are even more likely, and messy stories are guaranteed. but you are welcome to follow along as I process through the wonderful love and grace extended in the midst of it all. xo

here’s why I lied.

I think the readership of this blog is about five people, four of my friends and my mom (hi mops). So I even hesitate to spend any of my time here writing these things, but I will because I know that someday
- I may suffer a debilitating car crash where I lose my memory entirely but finally get a great nose job or
- my sons may grow up and read this.

So I press on knowing, either way, my readership will grow and it will matter that I was honest.

My last post, I shared about the past handful of months, about being obsessive work out girl, getting injured, being in the hospital and told I might die, then being bed ridden and lost and tired of it all. Then I did what a Christian girl is supposed to do: I tied it all up in a pretty bow that basically said that now that I’ve gone through all of that, I finally know God loves me and everything is better and it’s all going to be unicorns and rainbows now, cause I’m fixed.

That was a lie.

And here’s why I think I told it.

As a girl who has grown up in the Christian community, and a woman who has been wounded by the Christian community, I feel this propensity to wrap God up, and the things the things he allows to happen, into a pretty package with a big happy bow on it. I feel the need to end every story of pain with “everything’s all better now, guys! God made it all better for me and he let me know why he did this!”

I grew up on the mission field in Africa and then as a pastor’s kid in America. The pastor’s kid in america thing messed with me. Not because of anything my dad ever said or taught, not because of how my parents raised me, but because of the other people – the random people in the faith community who paraded around like “Christians with a capitol C” with flowing white capes coming to save the world from the gays and the people who get abortions and have premarital sex.

Bible stories weren’t about God, they were about me. They told me how I could learn from Jonah that “you better not run from God because Jonah was swallowed by a BIG FISH for running from God!” or how “God hated sin and sex and gay people so much that he had to save the one family that didn’t sin and then flood the WHOLE EARTH so everyone died..” The messages “don’t run”, “don’t hide”, and “don’t sin or be caught sinning” were sometimes spoken that clearly.

Here’s the problem: I hide, I run, I sin and get caught sinning. ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

mkay? that’s the reality. That’s the truth. I have doubted God, hated God, wondered where he is, wondered why things have happened to me and not to others, run fast and far from him, hid from him and others, and been caught in the act of being intensely broken, sinful, and messed up.

I did a great job of hiding it in my younger years, but I still had to live with me, with the little voice inside that reminded me “that’s not actually the truth, ash… you know you aren’t perfect. you’re really messed up…”

In my college and early adult years, I started to find freedom. I found some Christians who didn’t have capes. Instead, they had this concept called the Gospel: you are more sinful than you ever thought or imagined, but (because of Jesus living the perfect life you should have lived and dying the death you deserved) God’s love and grace for you are greater than anything you ever dared hope. You ARE messed up and you ARE still loved and accepted. Be honest, be free, be welcome here.

I started trying it out. I started being honest about little ole me, and my bag full of sins. I made some new friends, found the man who was to be my husband, funnily enough also a pastor’s kid, and we started living life trying to wrap our minds around this Gospel thing that felt too good to be true – God wasn’t mad at us!

I tried to reconcile the two types of Christianity I had been modeled.

I after college I was a part of a community who lived together for months, learning the Bible and hearing faith speakers from all over the world. One night at dinner, there was something in the soup I was allergic to. I knew it, but I made myself eat it anyways to not look ungrateful. The entire rest of the night was spent in my bunk, ahem, “peeing out of my butt” and regretting my choice. The leaders of the community came into me late that night, sat by my bed, held my hand sympathetically and then proceeded to tell me, “this is happening to you because you have unconfessed sin. if you would just tell us what your sin is, God would forgive you and you would be well.” I cried. I told them my unconfessed sin was eating that SHITTY SOUP and they left me and wrote me off. I most definitely wasn’t going to get the bible teacher’s pet award.

Later when Jeremy and I got married, we were a part of a bible study. These people seemed more grounded when it came to God’s love, and so I tried them out. One evening, when just the women were meeting together, I began to share some of my past history and my struggle with sin. They all stayed pretty quiet, but seemed to accept me, even offering some kind of condolences. I was approached by them a week later. They had talked. I was too big of a sinner to be in their group. Jeremy and I were out of the bible study and would have to find somewhere else to be honest.

A couple of years ago I was asked to contribute to a faith based publication. It was a great opportunity for me as a photographer and a writer – using gifts that I love to work beautifully in tandem together. The first piece I wrote were and the photographs I made to go with it were so well received, and were “going to print!” for the next issue. This was a big deal for me, like, huge. About a week after that agreement, my husband got in a car accident. The guy who hit him ran a red light because he was on his phone. It totaled our van, and left us in a horrible place with insurance because there were no witnesses and the guy lied about it. I wrote about it on social media that night and called the guy who hit him a “jackass.” The next morning I woke up and had an email from the editor. My “curse word” had been seen, I was committing a sin publicly. I was told I could not be a representative of the publication while being someone who openly sinned. If I wanted to contribute, I needed to take the post down, and then apologize openly on social media for sinning and causing others to stumble. I wrote an honest response back to the effect of something like, “you think THAT’S bad?? That’s nothing compared to what I was thinking! I’m more sinful than you even can imagine. But I am also loved by God because of Jesus’ living a perfect life in my place.” After a few more altercating emails from the editor with lists of bible verses being used as weapons to push me back on my stance, I was done. I was no longer welcome to be part of the project. I would have to take my sinning self and go elsewhere.

My blog post last week wasn’t entirely a lie. The “I know God loves me” part was true. I do. I know it like I know the sun rose this morning. But I can’t tie his love up in a pretty bow for you or for me. Shit happens and brokenness happens. Lot’s of it. and it happens all our life long. The pain and the struggle can’t be ignored by me because they aren’t ignored by God. He had to send his son to live in my place, and then he had to murder him to pay for all the brokenness on my behalf. I can’t ignore it because He didnt’ ignore it. He has allowed it as a part of His grand story, and his story is filled with struggle and conflict and pain and broken people in capes and broken people who aren’t. But as Andy Gullahorn sings in his song Grand Canyon, “the story isn’t over yet.”

For today, I know that God loves me because of Jesus, and nothing else. Through unconfessed sin, the stomach flu, or having a mouth like a sailor, he loves me. Through looking for my identity in working out or being laid out on my back for a month, he loves me. Through offending people and not fitting in, he loves me. I now am a part of a community here that believes that and talks about it on the daily. It’s changed my life, and has allowed me to experience God’s love amidst my brokenness.

But the whole song and dance on that blog post, implying that this injury event was THE event that solidified that into me like cement so that I will stand steady in the faith forever… Well, that’s just some bullshit right there.

So, friends and mom (or my boys in the future), forgive me for lying. It wasn’t the first time, it sure as hell won’t be the last.

I can be a real jackass sometimes. But I’m a jackass loved by God.

and if you made it this far, thanks.
this is clearly the tip of a very large iceberg in my life, and I am thinking about exploring it a bit more on this space. If you know me, love me, feel me, or have a thought, leave me a comment.
xo ash

Megan Gielow - Amen!

Oh, Ash. I can relate to this in more ways than one. Thanks for opening your heart. We’re all sinners and grateful for His grace each and every day.September 4, 2015 – 3:26 am

Jessica - I read (and love) your family blog. There are probably a million other things I could say about this post, but I will spare you. Thanks for your words, Ash!September 3, 2015 – 6:46 pm

the time I was hospitalized for working out (and the truest thing about me)

If your body doesn’t work,
If your mind isn’t sharp,
If you can no longer contribute to your life,
what is the most important, truest thing about you?

Really… If you can’t cook for your family, engage your friends, text someone back, call your mother, walk up stairs, cook dinner, email potential clients, or participate in your business or financial life or personal life, are you as valuable?

What is the truest thing about you?

I spent most of the past year being completely driven by the idea that, if I could just get physically fit, I could cross into some new plane of purpose and worth. I think most of us spend chunks of our lives trying to say “here’s what I bring to the table. here’s what makes me more valuable this year than I was last year and thus worthy to still take up space here.” I poured more money and time and thought into the fitness process than I can even count now. And in large part, my life did change. I not only saw physical repercussions, but also felt more aware, awake, and strong. But I also got a bit obsessed, took daily selfie’s, let everyone see what I looked like in a sports-bra, and way too excited about fat turning to muscle, about dropping jean sizes.

Change and passion are contagious, and I watched as other women joined in on the journey. I started up a blog that was visited by tens of thousands of women. I shared on a fitness Instagram account and began a movement of women embracing health. Somewhere in there, between the 2 hours at the gym each day, the $3,000 / month grocery budget, the complicated relationships with virtual strangers, I started to lose myself in the pressure. I not only felt pressure from myself to perform, but an unspoken pressure to lead these women to the promised land of health. As I always do, I went “all or nothing” on the fitness project and found myself tired, resenting it all, and missing out on other things that needed my attention – my spirit, my family, our business, and my friends.

In the spring, our family had a week away at a cabin in Colorado and I came home with perspective. I was healthy and getting skinnier every day, but I was losing those deep, interior places where I connected to myself and the people in front of me. In all or nothing fashion, I took a huge step back from it all. I stopped blogging about fitness, I quit social media, stopped training at the gym, pumped the breaks on the fad diet. Apart from an infrequent trip to the yoga studio or a morning walk, I really wasn’t exercising. I wasn’t unhealthy or gaining weight back, but I wasn’t being extreme either. I lived with a mix of joy that I was free from the performance and guilt that I was letting “my followers” down.

I have found something out about myself recently – I really like extremes. I like the idea of being the “most”, “best”, or “favorite”. I love the “all in” or “shit or get off the pot” mentality. The only problem is my humanity won’t support it. Not for long, at least. In case you haven’t noticed the state of things, our bodies aren’t perfect, and neither are we. We get sick, resolve weakens, and spirits get crushed. We are remarkable creations, but we are frail and breakable, and imperfect. We can’t live at extremes forever.

Just over a month ago I found myself in Brooklyn, NY doing some shoots and meetings. On a free Saturday my dear friend, total work out badass, and recent triathlon-et, treated me to one of her favorite and most challenging exercise classes in the city, soul cycle. Instead of spending paragraphs on this I will just say: Soul Cycle is insane. If you are in the best shape of your life, go do it. it’s madness and intense and addictive and you will get wicked high off the endorphins. If you haven’t exercised in awhile or ever, run away. I should have known the second I signed the medical waiver that I was getting myself into something a bit too over my head.

I was immediately in trouble, but my months of training and pushing myself had taught me how to mentally “power through” any work out. Even though my body wasn’t physically able to perform, my mind knew how to push to make it happen. Within seconds after the class was over, I knew I was injured. I couldn’t walk without locking my knees, my quads were destroyed, I was in excruciating pain, and my legs began to swell. I still had shoots and meetings scheduled, so I downplayed it and tried to power through. 24 hours later I was almost completely incapacitated, couldn’t see my knees because my quads had swelled so severely, was in more pain than anything I could remember, and was peeing brown.

A few days later, I found myself back home (after taking wheelchairs through airports), being admitted to the hospital. I had developed a condition called Rhabdomyolysis. my damaged muscle tissue was breaking down and releasing itself into my bloodstream. My kidneys were at risk of failing. According to my doc, normal protein levels in the blood are 30 to 200. Mine were 40,000. Just a day or two before that my levels could have easily been in the 100,000 + range. He immediately went pale and started reading me my rights, more or less. He told me I was at risk for shock or heart failure and they needed my permission, if it came to this, to take all measures possible to resuscitate me. I laughed out loud. I literally didn’t know what else to do in that moment. “um. yeah, doc. I wanna live.” He laughed back and said, “oh good. because, if you were going to say no, I had this whole speech prepared about how young your are and how life is worth living..” I made eye contact with Jeremy and he looked a little shellshocked by it all. That was a first.

One of the reasons I love intense exercise is because it reminds me of natural childbirth. As strange as that sounds, there is a zone I get in with both of those where it is just me and God. I push past walls of fear and pain and the past and enter into this place where it is just the Spirit speaking, and my only hope is to listen. I became an exercise junkie, in large part, to find that unmapped zone every day. And on that bike in that dark, loud, hot room at Soul Cycle, it happened again. I was pushing through pain that was actually my body telling me to “stop!” and I had a moment where God spoke to me:

“Ashley, my love is the truest and most important thing about you. I love you because I love you, not because of anything you do.”

I sit here over a month later understanding what those words, echoing in my heart during that class, meant. Just as the doctor predicted, It took me about a month to recover, and by recover I mean get out of bed, put on pants, and walk down stairs. For weeks I laid in bed, totally and completely worthless. The rhabdo messed with my mental ability to reason and think and process. The meds only made it worse and I spent most of the days sleeping or binge watching LOST and most of my nights having insane nightmares. The pain and weakness lasted weeks longer than I thought, and by the time the month had passed, I hardly knew what way was up.

I wish it wasn’t true, but this past month has reminded me that I really like to put my worth in my performance. Yeah, yeah, I know God loves me no matter what, blah, blah, blah. But, if I’m totally honest, there is this driven part of me saying I have to work harder, push harder, be better, go to the extreme to prove just how lovable and worthy I am. For the past month, I have not had that option, though. I have had to lay in hospital beds and in my quiet and empty room day after day, knowing that my performance, my participation, my mental agility, and my ability to be extreme, are not the truest things about me.

In the Bible, Paul writes a letter to the Ephesians where he prays that they will be strengthened in their inner being so they can grasp how much God loves them. He wants them to get stronger, but not physically. I can envision Paul writing the letter to people like me today saying something like, “there’s nothing wrong with going to the gym and taking care of your body. but it isn’t the truest thing about you, and it isn’t the point of your life.” Paul wants them to be strengthened in the deep, inner places because the pathway to knowing God’s love for us lies not in our physical fitness or what we can contribute, but in our inner being. I read his words and I realize that this is what this past year has been about. All along I dedicated this year as a “journey to health and fitness” but no amount of physical fitness, strength, or smaller sized pants could give me what I really needed – the inner strength to know and believe that God loves me, no matter what I do or don’t bring to the table.

I celebrated the anniversary of the year we dedicated to fitness with atrophied muscles and a different kind of selfie. Instead of coming from a place of being the best or the most impressive or extreme, this came from a place of having nothing to offer and being wholly and completely loved. I know God, my father, loves me. No performance from me or lack thereof is going to change that an ounce. I used to be able to say that and know it in my head, but the past month has drilled it into the deepest parts of my heart and experience – into my inner being. His love is the truest thing about me and it took hospital beds and a complete lack of contributing anything to remember it.

Andrea B. - I’ve sincerely missed hearing from you! I hate that you’ve had such a difficult month, but wow, what an experience. I didn’t even know what happened was possible and I am so glad that you’ve been able to just be still. I love that you are open to learning and listening. I hope you let us have sneak peeks as you navigate your new, balanced normal. Thank you once again for your authenticity and transparency. It’s so rare and needed.August 31, 2015 – 3:01 am

“this is my house. I have to defend it!”


Maybe I’ve watched Home Alone too many times. (not possible) and maybe I am at risk of being viewed as something I am not. But I am learning on this journey towards health and wellness that, when you experience something new that gives you life and healing in an area where you were otherwise ill, it’s just natural to begin sharing about it. so, at the risk of sounding like a snake oil salesman or appearing to be a person spouting off words in order to earn a pink cadillac, I am going to share and just trust that you know me. You know this blog has been a place of total authenticity and honesty about our journey and this post is just another overflowing of that to you, with love.

A couple of months back, when our entire family couldn’t seem to get well at the same time, a dear friend of mine gave me a gift. It was a box of 11 essential / aromatherapy oils and a diffuser. She told me certain mixtures of oils to put on the children we had quarantined and which oils to diffuse in the air to kill the bacteria that had been lingering about making our home a sick ward.

It was a free gift and after weeks of about six over-the-counter medicines we could legally shove into ourselves and our babies heads, I was desperate. I’ve never been that into alternative medicine. If you have sore muscles from a gym workout, take ibuprofen. If you have a headache, take Excedrin. If you have a sick feverish kid, give them Tylenol and Ibuprofen alternating every two hours, etc. But the problem comes when you realize each of these synthetic drugs not only has an upside, but a downside.

I used the oils the way she told me to for only a couple of days and everyone got better… um….okay.

So then I used the oils that help promote relaxation and sleep on our special needs, hyperactive non-sleeping three year old and he began sleeping all the way through the night for the first time in his life.

I used the blend that helps with mood swings and depression on our nine year old and he started having better, happier days at school.

I started using an oil to help with muscle and joint pain on my runner’s knee and my husband’s sore shoulder after working out and the pain was relieved and the tendons actually started healing themselves.

I started using the breathing relief oils on our asthmatic son and he started begin able to breathe easier, using his inhaler less frequently.

I started diffusing the blend that kills 99% of bacteria in the air and we haven’t been ill since, in a season where we visit the children’s hospital weekly for therapies and appointments for zion and the kids at our kids’ school and their families are constantly under the weather.

The list goes on, but I will spare you the rest of the details for now. I’ve got more I will probably share down the road as our journey into health progresses but I just wanted you to know that it’s official: I believe. I honestly didn’t think I would. It seemed like everyone was drinking the Kool-aid about these things and I was one of the only sane people left. But they were right all along and now we are experiencing the benefits of health I heard so many talk about.

Essential oils – especially the highest quality oils on the market, grown at Young Living farms all over the world, extracted from pure, responsibly raised plants, applied to our bodies largest organ (“your epidermis is showing”), really and truly can heal and help and encourage the body and mind. And the upside – there’s no downside. No risk of stomach bleeding or “Taking acetaminophen, one of the main ingredients in Excedrin Migraine or any other medicine in the NSAID class (except Aspirin) increases your risk of heart attack or stroke.”

I am NOT planning on being crazy akward oil lady but I am going to talk about these because they are genuinely changing the way our family looks at health and medicine and it would not be genuine of me to keep such a big thing to myself. If you want to try the oils, AFTER DECEMBER 1, 2014, you can order them from me! $150 is the cost of the 11 oils and diffuser I was given and I promise you we would have paid about twice or three times that amount by now in doctors visits, prescriptions, and headaches. and I am NOT going to get a free pink car out of this if you sign up. But I will get a couple free bottles of oil, and that will go towards my family’s health and yours.

if you are one of my dear friends reading this and you haven’t yet purchased the starter kit, I am telling you – trust me, gals. you know I wouldn’t b.s. you.
If you have questions and want to talk one on one about this, email me at:
ash@wearetheparsons.com
I will do all I can to answer them or point you to someone who can.

if you want a visual, here’s a tiny pic of the starter kit. also, I’m not sure why the diffuser looks a little like a vagina mixed with an egg, but just go with it. IT WORKS, PEOPLE!

and if you are interested in getting oils or the premium starter kit, follow these step-by-step directions.

• Go to:   Sign-Up page
• Please make sure you’ve checked Young Living wholesale member (and not retail customer—you will not get wholesale prices as a customer–it’s a 24% discount and you never have to sell anything. NO BRAINER.)
• Enter this number 2179912  in the Sponsor ID and Enroller ID areas
• Fill out your info
• Select your kit ($150 premium starter kit is the best value–a $225 retail value) I highly recommend starting with this one. you will not be disappointed.
• If you want an oil “membership” you can choose to sign up for Essential Rewards at this time if you’d like — (it means you commit to ordering $50/month and they give you reduced shipping. i love this because it keeps me current on my oils and helps me try new products but you are NOT under any obligation to join this, and you can still order at a discount without joining the Essential Rewards program.)
• At this point, you can add more product to your order if you’d like, or just stick with the starter kit to try the best of the best and get started.
• You’re all done—welcome to the family!   

I really can’t wait to hear what you think of them and the ways these oils surprise you and affect your health!!

xo,
a very happy, healthy, oily
ash (and family)

Jaminato - This is amazingDecember 3, 2014 – 1:26 am

Thanksgiving 2014

“With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.”

-Eugene Peterson’s translation of Romans 8: 1-4, The Message

The above words were sent to me by a friend the week leading up to Thanksgiving. They hit me so hard because it’s exactly what I’m experiencing lately: a rebirth of sorts into all kinds of freedom because of who God is, what he has done to show his love and care to the world, and who he has made me to be in light of that. So I stayed up late and I wrote these words down on a roll of brown paper, then tied a string of leather around it and hung it on the wall to be our central decoration on Thanksgiving day.

This is what I am most thankful for this year. And I’m not saying that to be a stupid Sugary, fake Christian-ese person. These words being my sole place of identity and hope and rest have been life and freedom to me. I am thankful that I’m on a journey, and my family is too, where we are letting go of trying to “keep up the act” or the “jig” or whatever…and we are just embracing what the Spirit is doing in us.

Here were a few moments of our day, sharing joy with loved ones from both sides of the family; mourning those we’ve lost, celebrating those we’ve gained, and trusting that the Divine Spirit is good and moving in it all.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear hearts.

Brenda - Truly beautiful in so many ways.December 2, 2014 – 7:08 pm

to my fellow women…on being made beautiful..

“you make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust.
you make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us.”
-Gungor

The first time I heard this song it came on the radio as I was driving to the children’s hospital to go sit in the NICU with our three pound baby boy. We had just adopted him a couple of weeks prior and every single day I would drop our older boys off at school, then drive to the hospital to scrub in at the NICU, undress my little coke bottle sized bundle, and put him in my oversized button down shirt and then cover us with blankets for the next six hours. I’d go pick up the kids from school, cook dinner, tuck them in, and go back to the NICU for the next three hours before falling into bed just around midnight. In just a couple of weeks, we had seen how this skin on skin time had really started to make a huge difference in the life and health of this tiny baby who had been lying there, mostly un-held and parent-less for the first month of his life.

“you have to hear this song” my friend Jessi said. “we sang it at church this week and I just kept thinking about you guys and zion.” and sure enough, it came on the radio one morning as I was heading to the hospital and I wept. I wept thinking about how zion had lost his first mother. I wept thinking about the brain surgery and the painful procedures he had gone through with no parent to hold him while he cried. And I wept thinking about the goodness of God that he would take us – a family somewhat comfortable and wrapped up in our own little bubble – and make something beautiful out of us, a blessing.

The same song came on this morning as I was running on the treadmill and I had to just smile at the irony and goodness of God. He taught me about himself and about myself through those daily trips to the NICU and now he is using the treadmill and food and drink to teach me more again. Yesterday I shared a private instagram account that I have been using as a journal for the past few months as Jeremy and I have surrendered our health and fitness more and more to the One who created us. And the response was honestly downright overwhelming. I am still trying to keep up with the requests of women who want to follow along with the journey and I’m learning more about myself. As I starting approving women to be able to see the account, I started to have pangs of fear. “wait a minute! … I know that gal and she is super skinny and prettier than me and way more fit than I am. and now she’s going to see me in my sports bra with my cellulite… I feel too exposed. what if she judges me for who I really am?” or “what if someone is much more overweight than I was when we stared this journey and she feels pressure or judgement or condemnation from what I am doing or saying? I don’t want anyone to feel small…” But skinniness or overweight-ness is not what this is about. This is a story about being weak and watching the Holy Spirit make me strong.

I see a lot of propaganda going around lately about how we women can become a #GIRLBOSS – that we can project ourselves into an awesome life where we can do whatever we want. But this journey is not about me becoming a girlboss. I am not trying to hate on anyone who has embraced this mentality or make them feel small. But honestly, from my experience, I’ve never been that successful at changing my own heart. I’m just not able to pull it off. Sure, maybe I can modify behavior a little bit for a short amount of time. But I can’t actually want the right things enough to do the right things 24/7. Not even 1/7. And health has always been one of those things. I told myself that image didn’t matter and that I didn’t want to be just another “skinny bitch” and I don’t. But I am realizing more and more that I was created out of the dust (and to dust I will return) to know God, glorify him in my mind, body, spirit, and in doing these things, become a truer self.

“I just can’t seem to quit _____.” I really want to try to be better but ______.” “I’ve tried a thousand times to get my butt in gear but each time, I just ______.” We can all fill in the blanks. But in my experience, all of my efforts were not good enough. My drive is weak and my will to do wrong is strong. And so, only God himself stepping into my world and changing my heart – my nasty heart that wanted to eat sugar all the time and smoke cigarettes and drink bottles of wine by myself and soothe my own pain with sloth – only God himself could rescue me from myself. And the beautiful thing is that he is. Each day, I am watching as he speaks in his still, small voice to transform my desires and make me new. Each day, I am watching as I recognize I am not a girlboss, but I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a God is strong, who loves me and will, himself, give me the strength to become what he created me to be. All I have to do is believe and say yes.

for now, saying yes looks like a change in diet to detox all the crap I had shoved in my face for years. and it looks like hard work at the gym five days a week. And it looks like a hiatus from alcohol and sweets. And it looks like failing sometimes and knowing that He is still stronger than any weakness I may have. And as I say yes I see that it also looks like the strength to carry our special needs (now) three year old around the hospital when he has three appointments in a week and the walk into those appointments feels like a mile long. And it looks like having the energy to play with our older boys at the park or to wake up earlier just to be with them. It looks like renewal in our marriage and clothes that were long stored in the back of our closet fitting again.

But mostly, saying yes has meant this: I wake up every day knowing deeper in my being that I am dearly prized and loved and accepted (no matter what) by the One who made me. And that his power and grace is enough to strengthen me for whatever today will require of me. I am so thankful to not feel like it’s up to me to be enough, to be a girlboss. Instead, I rest in the one who will always be enough in my place and trust that he loves me enough to make me who he created me to be.

if you want to follow along in the journey, the instagram account is @waytogoash . women only – trust me dudes, you don’t want to see me in my sports bra and cellulite anyways.:)
I really welcome all women into this place to share and be honest, because I think we are all hungry for it. You are, today, right there, loved, accepted, created, beautiful, and the one who made you longs to strengthen you where you are weak. Don’t worry. You don’t have to be enough and you couldn’t be if you tried. You don’t have to believe me, but I hope you will ask yourself “what if that is true?” He can be enough in you and for you and, in my experience, that is better.
with a lot of love, ash.

Morgan - Ashley. Thank you. Thank you for helping me to lace up my running shoes again this morning. Because I easily forget and get distracted, that this is not just running for me, it goes so much deeper. Last year around this time, I started a very similar journey of finally connecting the dots to body, mind and spirit. I was not only tired of feeling defeated in the physical aspects, but it was creeping into every area of my life…and to make a long story short, God made it very clear to me that He wanted more for me. Better for me, and that the victory in all of these things has already been fought and won. I just have to live in it. Saying it has been an amazing journey doesn’t even come close to covering it. It has been wonderful and hard, but I think that’s why it has been so good, because God works in the hard and He uses it for our good and His glory. The small, steady steps of healthy eating, running, and giving it all to Him led to something I honestly never believed I could do. I trained and recently ran my first full marathon. It was one of the most awesome personal experiences of my life. It was ALL Him. I spent weeks pouring my heart out during my training runs and the day itself was one of completely living life to the full, body, mind and spirit.
When I was running this morning, so thankful that I somehow ended up reading your post this morning, I was thinking about whether or not I should leave a comment…and then right in that moment, with my iPod just randomly set to shuffle, Beautiful Things started to play… He is indeed making all things new… many blessings to you on this journey, I have no doubt He is doing a greater work than you could ever imagine…December 4, 2014 – 2:50 pm

rosina - I see a lot of propaganda going around lately about how we women can become a #GIRLBOSS – that we can project ourselves into an awesome life where we can do whatever we want. But this journey is not about me becoming a girlboss. I am not trying to hate on anyone who has embraced this mentality or make them feel small. But honestly, from my experience, I’ve never been that successful at changing my own heart. <—–yes and amen!

xxNovember 22, 2014 – 6:05 pm

Jenna - Thank you for this, Ashley. November 22, 2014 – 3:39 am

maria - always so grateful for what god does in and through you. thank you for sharing these thoughts.November 21, 2014 – 6:10 am

Coco - “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” I realized this morning that this line has run over and over and over again in my head the last day or two. I finally paid attention to it long enough to remember it comes the old hymn. “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

Oh yes, very great, indeed.November 20, 2014 – 7:05 pm