breathing again


hola_hola.4Ohmygoodness – it has been since July that sent out an email update and since JANUARY that I posted one here! Let’s just say between our dreamy marriage and my new teaching job, life is busy!

On December 12th, I go on Christmas break until January 3rd! PRAISE! I plan on spending lots of time updating the blog! Hopefully, that first week of break (maybe sooner…Let’s not promise tooooo much here, Mrs. Ramírez!) I will post an update on the past five months!

I am reaching out now because I have a serious prayer request. Well, it’s a praise that has turned into a request.

As many of you know, my heart beats for youth ministry. Before moving to San Salvador, I was a youth leader within Rock City Youth and it was my jam. Those girls were my life and it devastated me to leave them.

When I moved to San Sal in April 2016, youth ministry was not in my job description. For the past two and a half years, I have yearned for an opportunity to get back into it.

About two months ago, I felt a spiritual nudge to reach out to one of my 11th grade students and begin a mentorship. We tried to meet up, but when it didn’t work out, I backed off, waiting for another nudge.

This time the nudge wasn’t so gentle. This time, God had me gasping to breathe. I jolted awake at 2am one morning, desperate for air. If I was to keep breathing, I needed to begin a girls’ ministry within the walls of my school.

This wasn’t an idea. This was a calling.

Unsure of how to begin, but totally sure I had to, I prayed and spoke with the school administration. Step by step, I moved up the ladder until I got to the school director, aka The Boss Lady. One day, she called me into the hallway. I don’t care how old you are or how long you’ve been teaching, when the school director calls you into the hallway, fear cascades down your spine.

“Hello Ms. Arend…” (the school already has a Mr. Ramírez, so to avoid confusion, I kept my maiden name at school) “…tell me about this girls’ group you want to start.”

“OH! Well – here’s the vision…”

And here it is friends.

• the vision •

Being a girl is just plain hard. We wonder if anyone else is going through the same thing and we wish we had someone we could be really real with.

Sisterhood is a girls-only group starting at our school, where girls searching for real friends and real talk can come together in a safe space each week to laugh, share, ask questions and just do life together — all to encourage each other on their own journey to becoming the confident, beautiful and strong women God designed them to be.

The Boss Lady loved it. I was told I could invite 25 girls from 10th – 12th grades (the classes I teach). This past Thursday, through our school’s holiday grams delivery service, I sent out 15 invitations to the core group of girls. The night before, Mario and I prayed over each invitation, we prayed for each girl by name.

As I watched the invitation delivery, my spirit was filled with fear.

Will they want to come?

Will they think this is weird?

What if no one shows up?

A short 10 minutes after delivery, one of the girls emerged from her classroom, smiling. “Thank you Miss Ashley!”

“YAY! You got it! Are you gonna come?”


Ohmygoodness. I got one. Just one out of 15 girls was a win.

But God had bigger plans.

By the end of the day, THIRTEEN girls responded yes. And four of those girls weren’t even officially invited, but wanted to come because their friend was invited.

Friends. I am so excited. God is doing something here. He is getting ready to change lives. And I get to be a part of it.

Guess who’s back, back again

Ashley’s back, tell a friend…

I’m back in Youth Ministry. I’m not sure exactly what I am doing, but I am trusting God’s leading. That midnight gasp thrust purpose into my lungs and I finally feel like I am breathing again.

Our first Sisterhood meeting is tomorrow, Monday Dec. 3rd at 4pm eastern time. It will be our only meeting before Christmas break. Will you please cover us in prayer tomorrow?

  • That all the girls that said they would come, come!
  • That other girls feel encouraged and welcome if they want to join us
  • That God would use me to meet these girls where they are and cover them in love and Godly wisdom
  • That I am filled with boldness and confidence and not fear. Fear is a liar.

Back in January, something told me to back to teaching. Against everything I had told myself when I quit teaching in 2015, I voluntarily went back. I think now I know why…

Thank you friends for your prayers and encouragement. God is moving.