So, it’s been awhile friends since I have showed my face around these parts. Lots has been going on. And so much has changed. Myself included.
It’s hard to even know where to begin, so let’s just start at the beginning shall we? Go ahead and pour yourself a cup of coffee because this is going to be a long one.
I have shared this before, but it’s an important part to this story, so bear with me please. I got pregnant when I was just 20 years old. Unmarried. No family near me. It was a scary time for me. But once my daughter was born I felt such a sense of purpose. And while we struggled for a few years, I felt this peace that only God could provide. Time and time again I was blown away by His love and mercy.
Then flash forward a few years and I found myself surrounded by all of the blessings God had given me. A loving husband. 3 more beautiful children. Of course we struggled but the struggles seemed significantly less scary than they had when I was a single mom. And yet slowly over time I began to feel lost and without a purpose.
Being a mother is the greatest gift of my life and it’s often times hard to speak about my feelings in fear of hurting someone who would give anything to be in my shoes. But the fact of the matter was I was hurting too. Feeling lost in motherhood.
I sought counseling.
Met with a Life Coach.
Tried all that I could to figure out what was going to fill my cup again. Then one day my counselor asked me what was something I would like to do that I was too scared to admit. I shared with her that I had always wanted to somehow mentor young moms who have found themselves pregnant and alone. She suggested that I volunteer at a Crisis Pregnancy Center. Which I said I would look into, and I did.
If I had a dollar for every time I started to email or call that center about volunteering, I probably could have paid for one of my kids college by now. But I never called or emailed. Fear held me back. To me I was hurting and broken and in no shape to help others.
Flash forward to this past Spring when a friend in my Bible Study emailed out that a ministry within our church was looking for classes to sponsor young moms who had chosen to give life to their babies and throw them a baby shower. I thought to myself I can easily buy some things for a new mom…that is easy enough. And so we did. Our class collected money and my friend and I went on a baby shopping spree at Target. Then it was brought up that we should attend the baby shower and meet the young mom. That fear crept right back inside, but I thought, Ok I can do this, it is just one night.
And so I found myself on a Wednesday night attending the baby shower of a young mom named Ashley. We sat across the table from each other and exchanged pleasantries. It was kind of forced in the beginning and I felt like I had to keep the conversation going, and I don’t remember how it came up but I shared that I too, had once found myself in very similar shoes. In that moment her entire demeanor changed and we began to talk as old friends and I found myself becoming much more at ease.
At the end of the evening as we helped her load up her car, we exchanged phone numbers and I told her to keep in touch. Later that evening I reached out via text and told her how much I enjoyed meeting her and sent some words of encouragement, and she just quickly replied “nice to meet you too”. The fear and the doubt that I had overstepped my bounds came rushing in and that was kind of that for awhile.
Then at the end of June, right before I was fixing to leave with our team for Disney I got a text from Ashley asking if I could be praying for her. She asked if we could meet and I of course went into a panic since I knew I wasn’t going to be available. I told her I would be gone for a few days but that I would love to meet with her when I got back. She agreed that she could wait and I told her I would be checking on her while I was gone.
Over the course of my trip, I would text and see how she was doing and she would update me. We planned for dinner with another friend for when we got back. Part of me was nervous to meet with her alone. The fear was still there but at the same time there was a small sense of peace I could feel.
We met with her on a Wednesday evening and listened to all that she was struggling with and all that she had been through. We assured her we were going to find a way to help her and that we would be in touch in the next few days. I had not even pulled out of the restaurant parking lot when my friend was calling me and we were both like ” I am going to ask Ashely to live with me”. We both agreed she had to get out of her current living situation and so we both said we would be in prayer and speak to our husbands about it.
To both of our surprise our husbands were super supportive and on board having never met Ashley or really knowing very much about her. My husband was ready to do a full blown renovation to accommodate her, however our friends had a spare room and bathroom already available, something we could not offer. The thing was they would be traveling a lot and so they wouldn’t be ready to move her in until August and we knew she needed out of her living situation quickly.
We met with her again and decided that she would come and stay with us the month of July and then, we would move her into her permanent new place with our friends come August. We met on a Wednesday and decided that Friday would be moving day. And then on that Saturday my family would be leaving for a family vacation for 10 days and she would “house sit for us” while we were away.
For those that don’t know me, I am a pretty anxious and fearful person. Once everything was decided that fear crept in in all new ways. I was going to move essentially a stranger into my home? To sleep upstairs with all of my children? To then stay in my house for over a week without me in it? Lifetime movies played over and over in my head. I second guessed my decision so many times in that short 48 hour period. And then, a wise friend sharing something from her own experience and having no clue what was even going on with all of this said something that smacked me right in the face. She said,
“The results are not up to us. The results are up to God. We are just responsible to be obedient to his call”.
And that was exactly what I needed to hear. He had used my friend to speak truth over me that gave me a new found clarity.
Moving Ashley out of that apartment was quite possibly the most terrifying thing I have ever done. The way I had imagined it in my head was nothing in comparison to the reality of it all. Driving away from there I was once again reassured that we were doing the right thing.
We got her settled and moved in and as we stayed up talking got to know each other better. Still though the next morning fear crept back in as we drove away from our house. My husband looked at me and reminded me “It’s just stuff” knowing full well where my mind was headed.
Our vacation flew by and I kept in touch and checked in on Ashley every few days to see how she was doing. She made quick friends with our dogs and updated us daily. We came home to a spotless house and all just has we had left it and I knew I didn’t have to be fearful anymore.
Once home I got to spend evenings on my couch talking about life and learning more about what an amazing woman Ashley is. Her story is truly amazing and I loved getting to talk with her. We would stay up way too late talking about anything and everything. Mostly about her sweet babe on the way and about God’s faithfulness in her journey.
One night we made a late night run for a treat. And as we sat in SnowBall Hut at 9pm on a Saturday I felt God’s presence like I never have before. As she teared up and shared that she could never possibly thank us enough for saving her, I just smiled and through my own tears told her that for years I have always wanted to work with a ministry similar to the one I met her in but that I lived in fear and used every excuse I could find. And with every doubt or fear that has crept in and each time Satan has tried to lie to me through this journey with her, God has reassured me though scripture, a friend, or even a song on the radio that He has a plan and that we are all part of this journey, HIS JOURNEY, together. While as crazy as this all has seemed to some of our family and friends, moving a stranger into our home, His call and plan is saving me from MYSELF. From my FEARS. From living a life of Faith Without Works.
The truth is that nothing about this story is mine, or my husbands or our friends. It isn’t even really Ashley’s. This is a story of a loving God who is working in mighty ways to bring hope and restoration, forgiveness and love. Time and time again throughout this journey he has revealed Himself in both big and small ways. Reminding us that he is working and He hears our prayers down to every last detail. We all have just blessed enough to be a part of it of this journey.
The truth is I will never be able to thank Ashley for everything she has done for our family. While she may think that by all of us helping we have somehow saved her, I know that the reality is that she saved ME. She helped me rediscover that purpose and drive that was missing for so long, and for the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful and excited to where the Lord is calling me.