If These Walls Could Talk


In a few short months, I will be moving from a 1500 square-foot home in Columbus into a 10′ x 8′ bedroom in San Salvador. So, just about everything in my home, known to many as The Barbie Dream House, must go. Because I will be very blessed to live with Pastor Victor, his wife Silvia and their two children when I move to San Salvador, my list of necessities abroad is fairly short.

One of my best friends, Amanda, and her husband Josh offered to allow me to pair up with their annual neighborhood yard sale and sell all my “fabulous crap” this past weekend.

At first, the idea of purging all my material goods and basically starting over felt therapeutic. In my 30 years of life, I have collected quite a few things that, although they may represent an important memory, are mostly unneeded trinkets. And then there’s my wardrobe. I was more than happy to sacrifice my winter attire, but there were a number of miniskirts and dresses that faced some resistance and barely made it to the “SELL” box. And my shoe collection! Such beauty! But somehow, I just don’t think that 5″ stilettos added to my 5’10” frame will be my footwear of choice in Central America.

Into the “SELL” boxes went planters, photo frames, blankets, stuffed animals, an electric mixer, drinking glasses, champagne flutes, a pretzel costume, purses, a marching band plume, an assortment of bellybutton rings, three adult fleece onesies…and the list goes on. Into the Uhaul went my dining room table, kitchen table, coffee table (jeesh…how many tables does one girl need??), futon, a 6′ tall light fixture, a rug and an 8′ tall pink Christmas tree (like you’re surprised that I would have a 8′ tall pink Christmas tree).

FullSizeRenderFinally, this past Saturday morning, a Uhaul and three SUV’s filled with my belongings descended upon Amanda and Josh’s yard. With the help of a number of friends, we survived the early morning birds,  a few insistent hagglers, and a smattering yard sale crazies. The things that didn’t sell either went on the “FREE!” table or back in the Uhaul for better luck elsewhere.

I came home to my mostly empty house. But it didn’t actually feel empty – not yet. My bedroom still has the bed and dressers, and until last night, the living room still had a couch, ottoman, and television. The couch had been claimed by friends of friends and wasn’t getting picked up until three days after the yard sale – last night.

While I was out sharing my San Salvador story, a friend was at my home picking up my couch and ottoman. I knew that I would be coming home to an empty living room.

And that changed everything.

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When you walk into my home, you walk into the living room. Stepping foot inside a room that was once filled with furniture and personal possessions, but was now empty, was a blow to my heart. As I walked into my house, the wind was knocked out of me and tears escaped without opposition.

This is getting real.

I am at 83% of my fundraising goal. Most likely, by mid-December, I will be headed to San Salvador indefinitely. I don’t know if I will ever be emotionally ready to go, but I am excited to get there and begin fulfilling God’s call on my life – working with Salvadoran youth. But along with that excitement comes true sadness. I am leaving the only life I have ever known behind. I am leaving my dad, my dog, and friends who have been my lifeline. I am leaving a home that has been my refuge in sorrow through the death of my mother and breakups too numbered to count; a home with walls that have seen joyful celebrations and know better than to repeat the secrets divulged within.FullSizeRender 2

I may have said this before and I know I will say it again – this move is truly bittersweet. I am leaving a life that I have loved and nurtured for a life of the unknown. But the unknown is where I am called. I spent most of my 20s not knowing what I was supposed to be doing with my life and trying to figure it out for myself. But as soon as I turned it all over to God, He took control and spoke to my heart. For 15 months, I have known that I am meant to be serving the youth in San Salvador.

The great thing about hearts is that there is always room inside for more – more love, more memories, more God. These past eight years in The Barbie Dream House will forever have a place in my heart. With each passing day, more memories are brought to light, admired for the part they played in my life, and are gently tucked away in the folds of my heart. I eagerly await for the day when my heart swells with memories of a life lived loving God and loving His people. My home may be growing barer, but my heart is growing fuller.


I Have Agreed to Go.

ashley_blog-i_have_agreedThis past Friday, May 29th, 2015, was my last day as a classroom teacher. Now, when people ask me what I do for a job, I can say, “I am training to be a full-time missionary in San Salvador!” My 5 years in education are ones that I will hold in my heart as some of the most challenging times of my life. Will I miss teaching? Maybe someday. Today, I thank God for every second in the classroom because each day I spent teaching was a day closer to discovering God’s true call on my life and I will never regret any of it.

Unfortunately, my heart was never in teaching students inside a classroom. I am sure that anyone that worked in a school with me could see that. I have known for a few years now that teaching was not my passion. But I didn’t know what was. And I wasn’t about to quit a good paying job with 2 weeks Christmas break, 1 week off in the spring and 3 months of summer vacation unless I had figured out what I was really created to do.

Last summer, I took a step of faith and spent 9 days in San Salvador on a mission trip with my church, Rock City. In was then that I felt God’s call on my life and heard His whisper in my heart that I was to go to San Salvador, strengthen their youth and point them towards Him. Since then, I have found my heart in mentoring teenagers in a way that doesn’t require essays or novels. Anyone who has spent just a few moments watching me work with youth outside the classroom can see that is where I come alive!

The past 5 years were certainly not a waste. I truly believe that God takes all of our life circumstances and, if we let Him, uses them for our good and for His glory. Each of my days in the classroom was a day of training for Youth Ministry in San Salvador. I have worked with some of the most frustrating students in the city. And now, none of them scares me or can begin to convince me that they don’t have potential and purpose. I have worked with some of the sweetest students in the city. And now, I know how to cover them with God’s love and teach them how to love others. I have been cussed at with language I wouldn’t have ever used as a teenager. I now know their foul words are simply a sword defending a broken heart. I have been surrounded by successful, passionate and dedicated teachers that have gone out of their way to support me. They have shown me the importance of building up those around me and giving grace to people who want to help, but just need some guidance.

3 days later, I am now sitting on the floor of the Port Columbus International Airport. I am patiently awaiting my delayed flight to Orlando for 8 days of intense fundraising training with Reliant Ministries (formerly Great Commission Ministries). I am excited to finally have many of my questions about fundraising answered (namely, exactly how much I have to raise), but I also anticipate many anxiety-riddled moments, questioning just what I have agreed to do.


I have agreed to follow God’s call. I have agreed to trust that money is the least of God’s problems. I have agreed to go.

In my moments of overwhelmation (that should seriously be a word), I will remember why I agreed to those things. Because life outside of God’s will is no life at all. Believe me. I’ve tried it the other way. I will recite to myself God’s promise to me:

I have made you and

I will carry you;

I will sustain you and

I will rescue you.

Today is a giant step towards my new life in San Salvador. I leave the comfort of knowing exactly what is ahead for me and exchange it for taking step after step in blind faith. God will get me to San Salvador. It might not be in my timing or within my plan, but He will do it.

Don’t believe me? Just watch.