Thursday, November 17, 2011


I am back home in Ohio. The family I was working for in Virginia Beach had gotten out of the Navy and moved to North Carolina and with Kris and I becoming increasingly serious I figured it was the perfect time to transition home. As Hurricane Irene’s path seemed headed right for Virginia Beach I decided to expedite my moving process and left before she hit.
I had interviewed at a non-profit ministry and for an office job at a factory near home. I hadn't heard back from either job and was felt very anxious as I drove home to a lot of unknowns. I knew that my heart was being pulled toward taking the ministry job but I'd get paid more than twice as much if I took the factory job....and the factory job provided benefits. So as I waited to hear back from each job my prayer became that God would make one a no and the other a yes. I was begging for the easy way out on this one. :)
As it turns out the ministry called me back first to tell me I had gotten the job if I wanted it. I still hadn't heard back from the factory but decided to take a leap of faith and took the ministry job. The very next day I got a letter in the mail saying I hadn't gotten the factory job! So God was willing to confirm that I had made the right choice but He wanted me to have to walk in faith through it and CHOOSE to trust in Him.
I started at the job just over 2 months ago and I LOVE it. I'm working at a Teen home called the House of Hope. We are a residential program for troubled teens. We provide teenagers, ages 13-17, with a Christ-centered education program, supplemented with Christian counseling, administered in a loving, home-style environment to reconcile and restore teens and their families.
It is the PERFECT job for me and a true answer to prayer. Years ago when God knit together all of my qualities to make me who I am today He put in me a heart for ministry. The last 7 years away from home have been a journey for sure but God saw it fit to allow me to come home again. In the deepest places of my heart I’ve always dreamed of being able to do ministry in Morgan County but I believed I’d never be able to get a paid ministry position around this area. I should have known that God would see the deepest desires of my heart and make them come true.
If you want to know more about what I’m doing you can check out the blog at I will warn you... I just created the blog so it is far from done! I'm getting paid to blog cool is that! :)
Thank you all for your loving support and prayers that have carried me through these past few years!
In His Amazing Love,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


10 days ago I married my best friend. As cliche as it sounds it is true. Kris and I have been friends for over a decade. We first became friends during my freshman year of high school when he sat behind me in Spanish class. Since then our friendship has stood the test of time. Through graduation, college, me moving to Honduras and then Virginia Beach, boyfriends and girlfriends, and so much more. Through it all he remained one of my closest friends.

Then about a year ago I flew back to Ohio to go to a wedding with him. Kris was in the wedding and had to be there all weekend. Since the wedding was near Salt Fork State Park (2 hours from our home) we decided rent a cabin for the weekend to minimize driving back and forth. As I flew to Ohio I had no idea what to expect from the weekend. I didn't know that Kris had feelings for me and I certainly didn't expect him to show up at the airport with flowers and Starbucks! When we got to the cabin he proceeded to pull out a Christmas tree, Christmas movies, my favorite candy, hot coco, and many of my other holiday favorites. I LOVE Christmas. Throughout the weekend Kris made no attempt to share his feelings but I could tell that something was changing.

Fast forward 10 months....Kris proposed to me just 3 days after my 26th birthday. We had plans to meet at his house to eat dinner and watch t.v. together. I had been in Zanesville for the day with my mom and was running late. I text him to tell him to go ahead and eat but I'd be there before our shows started. I got there an hour later and he wasn't there....nor had I heard from him all day. I began texting and calling nearly every hour but he never responded. Finally at a little after 10 p.m. (over 5 hours after he usually gets home) there was a knock at the door. I went to answer... certain that it was going to be the police telling me he'd been in an accident. I opened the door to find him down on one knee with the ring in hand. He started saying all this sweet stuff while I stood there with my mouth open. When he finished talking I still didn't respond and he finally was like "I think you are supposed to say something now." To which I responded "where have you been!?!?!" I finally gave him an answer and got the ring on my finger. :)

Now fast forward 6 weeks: November 5th 2011 Kris and I became husband and wife! People thought we were crazy to do such a short engagement but we wanted to get married at Burr Oak Lodge and they had announced that they would be closing their doors in January. They only had a couple of dates for us to choose from. Both dates were in November so we just made it work! :) The wedding was PERFECT! The weather was beautiful. The lodge and the decorations were gorgeous. It was the perfect day. I had said since the day we got engaged that there were going to be leaves on the trees for our wedding. I'd always wanted a fall wedding and I prayed every day for leaves. People kept telling me to not get my hopes up....that there are NEVER leaves on the trees in November. None the less when I woke up November 5th it was 60 degrees outside and there were lots of leaves left. God does answer prayers...and even performs miracles when we believe! God provided just enough rain and warm weather to keep the leaves from dying too early! What an amazing God we serve.

So I've officially been married for 10 days. Aside from some minor arguments on decorating things have been wonderful! He has lived in his house for 6 years now and the decorations have been the same since day one so me changing that is rocking his little world! However, I refuse to live in a house where pop cans from a superbowl year, old antique looking oil cans, and old ripped pillows are the decor! I keep telling him I'm not living in a bachelor pad! :)

We've been looking at buying a house. I think if we get that house it'll be different. It'll be a brand new place for both of us and we can make it OURS. The lake house has been HIS for so long it's hard for him to change. So for now I've tried to back off and just make little changes at a time.

I'm excited to watch what God has in store for us. I never thought I'd be married to this man...yet here I am! God's timing and perfect plan for our lives never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

4 months

It's been over 4 months since my last blog. Now I know that I was far from blogging daily like I had planned but before July I was doing a decent job at being consistent in blogging a few times a month.....then Izzy died.

I shut down. I was hurting. I was frustrated by my friends/families response to her death. I felt like the people that love me most...the people who have always loved me best.....didn't even know how to comfort me. I was angry and frustrated that they couldn't help ease my pain. I was maddened by the fact that no one seemed to understand my loss.

The truth of the matter is people continued to love and support me in the ways they knew how. They supported me and did their best to comfort me.....there just was no "right" way. There wasn't enough comfort in this world to carry me through what I was experiencing. And while I got frustrated with my family and friends for not having the answers I forgot to turn to the one who did have the answers. I forgot to let God be my source of comfort. He is the only one who can or will ever truly know the anguish I experienced.

My situation was unique. It wasn't just a mother losing her daughter. It was more than that. And with the loss came a lot of extra pain as I felt like I had to fight for the world to acknowledge the loss as just that: a mother losing a daughter.

I still miss her with every passing day. In a lot of ways I'm dreading returning to Honduras because this will be the first time I've gone KNOWING she wouldn't be there waiting on me.

To all of you who experienced my frustration or rage these past months as I coped with my grief: I am sorry. You didn't fail me in any way. Thank you for loving me through this.

I miss you sweet Isabel. Mommy loves you.

Friday, July 8, 2011


It has officially been one week since I heard the news of Izzy passing away. A week of feeling like my heart has been split in two. A week of grief like I've never known it before. I miss her every moment of every day and I am still struggling to believe she is really gone. I loved that little one with every ounce of my being. I'm sure I failed her at times and that I didn't do everything right but I can promise you that I I loved her to the best of my ability.

A few months ago I came into contact with a girl because some art work she had made for a friend. I've never had the privilege of meeting her but during the past few months we have e mailed back and forth about a project she was going to do for me. During that time we have gotten to know each other on a deeper level. Today after hearing about Izzy she sent me the sweetest e mail......her words meant the world to me. She never got to meet Izzy.....heck she hasn't even met me. Yet God used her to touch my heart today and help me along in this grieving process....

"I am SO very glad you shared this with me... I can't even begin to imagine how heartbroken you must be. I don't know how you functioned there once learning the awful news, and I don't know how you're functioning at work for 12+hours at a time, as you cope with such a profound loss. I am so, so sorry, Ashley...

What a priceless series of gifts you have given Isabel in the "extension" of life God gave her--through you! I'm sure that if she'd been able to relay any messages to you on this trip, she would have wanted to thank you:
--for BEING IN HONDURAS, in the first place, when you could've been many other places...
--for FINDING her there in that village, and stopping to acknowledge her & reach out to her. I wonder how many people had previously seen/walked by her, yet left her there to die...
--for SEEING her for who she was: precious...sought after...and LOVED!
--for RESCUING her from what would've been a horrible, lonely death in that mountain village, years ago...
--for BELIEVING she could be helped--and for facilitating that precious process!
--for BEING WITH her, there in the, to warm her heart...after such a long & isolated time of suffering silently where she'd been before...
--for PROVIDING for her physical needs, starting with medical care to help her frail little body grow stronger...
--for ADOPTING her as your own, giving her a true sense of identity...of belonging...and her first glimpse of God's love and tender care...
--for BEING HER TRUE MOTHER, nurturing her and showing her the opposite of what her biological "mother" had done...
--for STRUGGLING through the decision of what was best for Isabel, loving her unselfishly so that you gave her what was best for ISABEL, even when it meant an excruciating decision for YOU to have to leave her in others' care...
--for the EXTENSION OF LIFE you gave her as a result of your decision, allowing her body to keep healing/growing instead of giving her a setback by taking her to an all-new environment with other physical/medical risks.
--for the SUFFERING you endured, dealing with a huge hole in your own heart as you returned to the States without her, so that you could give her heart a chance to keep healing, miles away...
--for GIVING her the most priceless gift of knowing she is loved...through the years you cared for her & the stability you provided her, when all she'd known prior to that was abandonment and decline...

I will pray for you, Ashley, as you continue to process such a painful, devastating loss, and as you remember all those days and years with your precious little girl. I'll pray, too, that satan won't "beat you up" with any of the "what if's" and "if only's" he loves to taunt us with. God gave Isabel AND you a precious gift in one another. Hang on tight to those incredibly rich memories, and know that you made a PROFOUND difference in her little life!!! I know she made a difference in yours, too."

Thank you Rachel for your sweet sweet words. They touched my heart more than I could even begin to tell you.

For those of you who have never heard the story of Isabel I'm posting it below in 3 parts.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Isabel - part one

The story of finding Isabel:
Living in Honduras I have witnessed a lot of things that lacked in the justice department. I've seen things that would make grown men break and sob. I've experienced things that I thought were surely the greatest acts of injustice in the entire world. However, when we found Isabel (March 11th 2008) I knew that injustice had taken on a whole new meaning for me. A friend of ours (Carlos) runs a daycare center in Teguc called Jen to ask her to go with him to deliver food to a starving family in a village near us. Shortly after they left Jen called to say that they were on their way back but needed me to warm up some water and find something that would serve as a bathtub. Upon their arrival at the house they had found a little girl that was so malnourished that she was literally starving to death. Jen was bringing her back to Casa to get cleaned up and then planned to make the long overdue trip to the hospital with her. Just as I was about to hang up the phone I heard Jen's voice barely whisper the words "Ash this is worse than anything I've seen here."

Let me just say that nothing could have prepared me for the site that I was about to see. Jen walked through the door carrying a tiny little bundle that was unmistakably a baby from the wails that could be heard from miles away. Wails that screamed of injustice and pain. We headed straight for Jen's shower where I had set up our make shift bathtub. As Jen began unwrapping the blanket I felt my heart drop and my stomach turn at the site before my eyes. I managed to lift my gaze. I found the rush of emotions that were gripping my heart staring back at me as my eyes met Jen's. Knowing the time for tears and breaking down would come later I allowed myself to look past what I was seeing and meet the needs of the little one Jen was placing in my arms.

We managed to get her changed and wrapped up in a clean blanket. Within minutes after I found myself sitting in the car cradling that same bundle and staring down into the eyes of a little one I would quickly fall completely in love with. As we drove to town Jen helped me piece together the rest of the story that I had yet to put together. The bundle in my arms was four year old Maria Isabell. (we call her Isabell) She and her brother, sister, and cousin were living with their grandmother just outside of Ojojona. The mom had abandoned them months before when her new boyfriend said he didn't want kids. From there the Grandmother (who isn't all there) struggled to find money for food and medicines that were necessary to keep her grand kids healthy. Isabell was by far the worst. She had begun having seizures off and on about four months ago and continued to have them in my arms as we rushed her to the Emergency room.

Once there we learned that she weighed only 19 pounds....4 years old and 19 pounds. They hooked her up to an IV and we soon saw a doctor. However, answers were few and far between. Priority became getting fluids in here and getting her stable. Getting her belly full and her strength back was far more important than dealing with the seizures that came off and on or the distorted/deformed way her body had become over the past months. Her hunger pains had sent her into the fetal position. The fact that no one had touched/moved her for days on end had allowed her muscles to disintegrate and the skin literally just hangs from her legs.

Not willing to let her spend a night in the hospital alone I volunteered to stay the night with her. I spent the night massaging her feet. She LOVES having her feet rubbed. (oh yes ME touching feet! ....God does have a sense of humor) I've decided that it is one of the few places that people can touch without causing her great pain and she really just longs to be touched. Every time she would cry (which was often) I would be by her side singing or talking of the days ahead when we would be playing tag, singing together, giggling, and doing all the normal things that 4 year olds were made to do.

Let me just say that those late night hours bonded us on a level that I didn't know could exist after such a short amount of time. By middle of the night she was drinking water and able to swallow again. Around 2 a.m. she had the last seizure and by morning her eyes were brighter, her body was a little stronger, and she was beginning to develop a little bit of an attitude. We spent the night and today bending, flexing, and moving her limbs the best I could. She still prefers to keep them curled up and bent the way we found her but they have each at some point been stretched all the way out so we know it is possible. We also treated her head for lice and may have managed to kill half of them. (she had a head FULL of lice)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Isabel - part 2

Falling in love with her:

From the moment we found her, Isabel’s progress was more of a roller coaster ride than I could have ever imagined. For every step forward we took it felt like we took two steps back. I watched her grow and change so much. She began making eye contact and holding it. She learned to lift her head and role from side to side. We worked with her arms and legs non stop until her muscles became comfortable in a normal position. We definitely walked some miles together......especially in those first few days. I could tell you what the names of every med she was on and when she needed to take it. Heck I even knew what they each smelled like. I knew which meds she hated and that you had to mix them with something else to get her to take it at all. I knew the stubborn gleam she gots in her eye that meant she wasn't going to do anything you wanted her to until she decided to. I knew what her mad cry sounded like...her hurt cry...her scared cry. I knew every scar, bump, bruise, and speck on her little body. I learned quickly that she liked her hair played with when she was going to sleep and her feet rubbed when she was hurting. I knew that she loves the color red and found music/singing to be soothing. When she was in the hospital they would bring each of her meals on one tray and a meal for me on a second tray...the card on my tray always said "para la mama." (for the mom). All the nurses (whom I knew the names of as well as most of their life stories by the time we left) referred to me as Isabel's mom and talked to Isabel about her momma (me!). I loved her...she was mine in every way I know how to say it. Heck while she was in the hospital she needed a blood transfusion and when it came time for it all eyes (of the doctors) turned to me to give the blood for it. I of course rolled up my sleeve and stuck out my arm. I would have given it all to her if it is what she needed. So you know that saying flesh and blood...we were well on our way!:) For those of you who don't know me so well let me just say I HATE NEEDLES! I'm a baby ...plain and simple.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Isabel - part 3

Making her truly mine.

After spending nearly 6 weeks in the hospital fighting for Isabel’s life the doctors released her and we began the fight to make her mine. After fighting INHFA (Honduras social service) friends of mine volunteered to go pick up a social worker and bring her out to where I was. I spent hours tracking down the mother as well as every receipt, photo, or document that I could find to prove that she was better in my care and that the family could never afford to pay for her health care. The mother had agreed to meet us to discuss Isabel’s care.

Once we got to the grandma’s house I realized that I had brought with me my own personal Honduran entourage. I said very little… only role seemed to be standing in the background holding my sweet Izzy. Yet I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I felt like a fly on the wall as I watched it all play out before me. Have you ever prayed over one thing with specifics that you so badly want to specifically that you've imagined it happening that way a million times in your head? That was how that day went for me. I felt like God asked me to write a detailed list of what I wanted to see happen and then He made sure to bring to life all of the things I wrote on paper. It was a reminder that we can pray about things until we are blue in the face and ask God for 100 things...but unless those things line up with His will they aren't going to happen like we want. More than that it was like God was telling me I've been doing the right thing. That it was all falling into place because it was His will.

We got to the house and the mother was there as anticipated. The social worker and lawyer we had brought along went right to work. They started talking to the mom and grandmother explaining who they were and what organization they worked with. As the mom started to fight saying that Izzy doesn't need medical attention my friend (who happens to be a doctor) stepped in and made it known that in his professional opinion she wouldn't live if she didn't receive help. The social worker then ever so gently informed the mom that, with or without her consent, INHFA could take Izzy from them. Things went rather smoothly after that. Before too long we were in a car and headed to town to pick up Izzy's medical records from before we found her. We then went to make copies of all the paperwork/pictures/etc that I had as well as the medical stuff. After that they actually sat and typed up the authorization paper for the mom to sign in front of the lawyer saying she was handing over her rights to INHFA....who then drafted papers saying they are handing her over to me. They simply wanted to provide a buffer between the mom and I in case she decides at some point she is going to change her mind. From there we went to another office and they drafted a birth certificate on the spot. (she has never had a birth certificate and never been registered...makes me wonder what this countries population really is if they have all kinds of babies who aren't registered) All of her documents from before said her birthday was Jan. 12, 2004. However, her birth certificate now says Jan. 2, 2005. So somewhere in those 6 weeks I had her she has lost a year of her life. I walked away that day with her complete medical history, the paper with the mother's signature saying she is giving up all rights, the 2 original copies of her birth certificate, and most importantly....Izzy still in my arms. My heart called her mine from the second I met her but that day it was like everyone else was acknowledging it too.