I started attending services in 2013 after my fiancé lost his life to suicide and addiction at the age of 28. He left my son, Chase, who was 3 at the time, and me to pick up the pieces. He didn’t mean to hurt us – he was very sick with his addiction. Being the fiancé, I was left to emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially fend for my young child and myself. I went back to work (sole proprietor) the day after his service and had no choice but to get out of bed every day and pretend to be okay. One foot in front of the other and a day at a time I made my way through the ups and downs of grief. My voice was barely a whisper for weeks and a forced smile hid the brokenness deep within my heart and soul. Shortly thereafter, I began to attend Grace. At first it was every once in a while, and in time my Sundays at Grace became more and more consistent. I just came in, and took a seat ☺. Grace was one of the only places I felt at peace during a time of such turmoil. I would check Chase into the Grace Kids and find myself a place to hide in the back. Grace was one of the only places I felt I could be honest with myself about my pain. I cried myself through many services. I strongly connected with the worship music and with Pastor Dan’s message. Many times I have felt that he was speaking directly to me.
Grace was and still is my safe haven. As a small child I remember attending a church like Grace. I remember a time around the age of four where I went into my bedroom closet and asked Jesus into my heart over and over again. I also attended Christian summer camps as a pre-teen. I believe that this foundation is what got me back to the church in a time where I needed guidance back to Jesus. When friends, acquaintances or whomever question my faith or share with me that they are non-believers, I always ask them one question. “When things in life go badly, as they sometimes do, what do you tell your children when you don’t have the answers? Without faith, how do you explain all of the bad things in this world? How do you get through that without faith.” If I didn’t have the foundation from my childhood, I don’t believe I would have made it through that challenging time in my life. I certainly don’t know how I would have explained it to my son. For this reason, I am very passionate about HopeFirst. I believe in the values Grace is helping to instill in our children. I believe in setting the foundation from a young age so that later in life, when they’re a 26 year old girl living with an alcohol-addicted fiancé, and her intuition is telling her that something is very wrong, that she may turn to prayer for the first time in years. I believe in HopeFirst so that when her heart is so broken and guilt ridden and she has nowhere else to go, she will turn to that foundation of her childhood and find her way back into the church and her faith will slowly begin mending her broken heart.
Addiction took the love of my life at the young age of 28. My foundation in faith in Jesus is what saved mine.
Ashley is first and foremost mother to Chase who’s 8 years old. She runs her own business and has attended Grace for 3 years.