wearetheparsons —> family bio picture
  • Welcome to our family blog!

    we are the parsons.
    a family of five.
    which just means our dining room table has old cereal remnants crusted onto it and an over abundance of salt spilt.
    also we love Jesus.
    we are glad you are here.
    get to know us more and leave us a note.
    you make a difference in our story, and your love and encouragement mean so much.

“this is my house. I have to defend it!” – Kevin McAlister, Home Alone

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:
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!!

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.”

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

writer-ing and my writer’s cabin

Since we moved at the beginning of the year, our little shasta trailer has sat empty and abandoned. We stripped her of all of her magic and interiors and left her for dead, basically. It wasn’t personal. We love the trailer and had such good times in there. But upon moving to a newer, much larger old house, we needed every single spare item we could find just to try and keep the bare, freshly painted walls from looking like a hospital.

Recently, the trailer has been calling to me in almost a “field of dreams” kind of way. I see it back there as I wash the dishes, with it’s bold orange stripe, pointing the way once again to whimsey and something new. So a couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time for the trailer to have a rebirth. So many things in our lives are changing and being made new, so I guess it’s only fitting the little trailer follow along with our journey.

So I took a friend’s advice, my husbands belief in me, some precious, inspiring mementos, a warm blanket, and a few dollars and decided to resurrect the dear trailer as my own little writer’s cabin.

I have a writer’s cabin.
because I like to write … sometimes.
I am a writ…. uhhh, I just can’t do it yet.

Anne Lamott says, if you write, you are a writer.
I love AL. I trust her like I would trust a beautiful aunt who I hope to “grow up” to be like in all of her raw, hippie, beautifulness. But I just don’t know how to call myself a writer yet.

I won’t be able to avoid it for long because all the signs are starting to point this way.
Many of my free hours are spent either hand-writing letters or typing out words on a keyboard. Many of the things I type will never be read by anyone but me, but I am writing and feel a bit quickened, a bit more alive, when I do it. I am a member of a writing group. Out of everyone in the group I am pretty sure am the least educated and most inexperienced in the area of writing, but I show up once in awhile, so that’s something. And now I have a little writer’s cabin inside a trailer where my boys aren’t allowed to come in because they manage, in sixty seconds flat, to make it go from smelling like cedar walls and floors to smelling like farts and dirty socks and death.

Don’t worry. No delusions of grandeur here. I’m not working on “my book” or dreaming of finding an agent (whatever that is) or a publisher (whoever they are). I will leave that business to the real writers. I’m just quite content trying to find my way through the world and it’s confections and confusions with words, as well as images and deep thoughts and dark humor.

In my little writer’s cabin, there is a print hanging above the desk my husband made. On it, I typed with the old typewriter, “don’t be afraid.” And that is where I will be writing from. From that place. Because I think the kind of writing I want to do is going to take some fearlessness. And because I don’t really know the rules of writing, it’s going to be sloppy and reckless sometimes. Sometimes, because I’m not afraid, I may even talk about Jesus. Sometimes, because I’m not afraid, I may even say the F word. And sometimes, like my favorite “aunty” Lamott, I may even do both in the same sentence.

so. big deep breath in. and out.
here goes.

I’m a writer.

forgive the low-quality photographs. they were taken on my camera phone.

keri bryant - you ARE a brilliant (might I say kick-ass!) writer, Ash.
From one reader and lover of words, to another. Keep it up. Yes, this is holy ground in this beautiful place.
keriNovember 16, 2014 – 1:57 am

Molly - good job! xoxoNovember 5, 2014 – 3:07 am

Nathan Gilmer - That is such a great writing spot. I love it. And I can’t wait to see what you write.November 4, 2014 – 1:41 pm

jenn stark - bravo, wonderful ash. i too am a wri– well, you know. xNovember 4, 2014 – 4:22 am

Bar - You ARE a writer. Bravo!!!November 3, 2014 – 7:38 pm

Coco - In the translucent sanctuary of a cocoon, catapillars are safe to completely liquify before reconstituting with wings. Nestle in. Come undone. Fly up. Write on!

Shasta! What a space! Looks like a good place to crack open and hear the voice God gave you. Holy ground.November 1, 2014 – 10:28 pm

Josh - Hey friend, I love this post and have also been writing a lot lately. A tool I’ve used is 750words.com. It keeps me accountable and writing everyday. Good luck on your journey :) November 1, 2014 – 9:37 pm

running through cemeteries and living stones . thoughts surrounding my dad’s birthday

The Spirit that is Holy spoke to me on a run this week. It spoke through yellows and oranges and reds. It spoke through last names I recognized, written on stones firmly planted. I wondered as I ran by, “I might know of your descendants. Just in case you were wondering, your great grandson is a successful photographer and lives on the west coast…just in case you were wondering, your granddaughter lost a baby a few years ago and today she is laughing again..” It spoke to me through words and visions in my own head. It spoke to me through the first stone I saw: She had been a beloved wife and a mother. She died one year older than I am right now. I wonder what she cooked for dinner the last night she was alive. I wonder if she had remembered to switch “the lights” from the washer to the dryer or if she kissed her husband before she fell asleep. It spoke to me through a man dressed in a suit and tie, ready for the work day yet hovering his body over a place in the ground, still. I think she went before him and I think he was not expecting that. His posture spoke, saying he was not expecting that. Don’t worry. . even when we are expecting it, it’s never easier. We still hover and weep and touch the cold stone with the name on it. As he stood there, the oranges and yellows showered his Toyota corolla.The man in the suit came alone and he would leave alone.

One of my favorite writers of the past few years, ND Wilson, says that he sees a farm land when he walks through a cemetery. I agree with him. Something in the deepest parts of me speaks and says these seeds planted dry and deep will burst out of the ground like surprise shoots after a long winter.

So I went for a jog through the fields where my “Last Will and Testament” says I am to be planted. A beautiful three year old girl I know is already planted deep in the dirt there. “she sure was a little sweetie” my ten year old recently said when remembering her out of nowhere.. “but God had other plans for her..” You are wise, Micah. I wonder what his plans are for me. When the life is gone from my bones and I am nothing but a seed, those who are left to survive me will put me in that same soil with all of those names and stories that are now told. And there will be a new stone that says “PARSONS” on it and those who love me will have fewer words than you can fit on a twitter update to tell generations to come what kind of woman I was, what kind of story I lived.

Today we would have been celebrating my dad’s birthday. “I would have been out shopping today getting his gift and getting ready for the big dinner..” my mom said to me on the phone earlier this week. Jeremy and the boys and I drove out to the cemetery where he is buried this morning, through rows and rows of soybeans and dried up harvested cornstalks to reach the farm where his seed sits, waiting for the resurrection. As we pulled up zion, who is three and is still learning to put words together to communicate his thoughts said, “papa…papa’s sleeping?..” .

Sometimes it feels like he fell asleep just last week but it’s already been four and a half years. And those years are going by furiously and fast like smoke right in front of our faces. Don’t even try to grab at it, you’ll just look crazy.

I jogged past the patches of grass that have yet to receive a stone in them. That ground has not yet been tilled but someday it will be, for me. Why is it we try so hard to breeze through life unconnected to the reality that we are all going to the same place? Why is it we hold our iPhones until they are hot in our hands and we pay the bills and we grind our coffee beans and we tell the kids to “stop hitting your brother!” and we open up another pack of american spirits and we push one another away over small and large grievances with no birds-eye view? I don’t know what my stone will say yet. I have no clue what yours will. But there, in tightly packed, perfect rows, lies what is physically left of my father. “home with Jesus. hope fulfilled.” The Spirit that is Holy reminded me of that this week. He reminded me of my fragility, my seed-ness, my soon-to-be field. He reminded me that two months ago today, he began something brand new in us for a reason. We are on a journey, my friends, and I hope and pray it is one we can share more and more of on this sweet little safe space that is our family blog. But for today, I will just say that the past four and a half years and the past two months, in particular, have reminded us that we are all seeds in the hand of the Farmer. He knows our fate and He is carefully planning out the fields and the harvest.

and today, we live!

“you. like living stones. are being built into a spiritual house.”
- 1 Peter 2:5

keri bryant - utterly beautiful. thank you, Ash.November 16, 2014 – 2:01 am

Dee - Ash, this is beautifully written as always. Thank you for keeping it real and reminding us of how precious our time is. Thinking of you all xxOctober 21, 2014 – 8:47 pm

Jami Nato - just beautifulOctober 20, 2014 – 11:43 pm

Dev - This is beautifully written, Ash. It’s incredible how you have surrendered your heart to pain and transformation and allowed yourself to be taken on this journey. I love you!October 20, 2014 – 11:32 am

Amanda Roth - Ash, Thank you for these words. I don’t think I’ll ever look at a cemetery the same way again. Much love, AROctober 19, 2014 – 9:46 pm