"Where seeds can turn into Sunflowers"
Life is full of ups and downs. Trials and triumphs. Hardship and celebrations. Then there are times when you say to yourself "this really sucks"! You can attempt to plan out your entire life and still not know what to expect. Life just has its own way of coming in like a wrecking ball or being as gentle as a lamb. There’s really no in between. At least that has been my experience. I’m someone that consciously practices balance, mindfulness, and prayer. A lot of difference techniques to live the highest quality of life. Nevertheless, there are some things no matter what you practice, you just have no control over. and you're completely unprepared. I guess that is the humor we can find as we navigate our journey throughout life. I say all of this because when you least expect it, your life can be turned upside down. As difficult as it has been for me to accept the reality that life can be unfair, I must fulfill a promise.
As many of you know, writing is a healthy way for me to process. I can find clarity, and somehow make sense of life's experiences. Writing for me is healing. It brings this peace that I can't really explain. And although I might not fully understand why things happened the way that they did, I'm hopeful that through writing and sharing, it will bring more clarity. Not only for me, but for anyone that may have lost someone too soon.
So, I’m writing to share my beautiful cousins story.
I promised her I would share her story!
A story where faith prevailed over fear and at the end of the day God won! Ashley knew deep down in her soul that God was going to use her story to bring people closer to the Light! That her words, love, joy, and compassion would wow people! When we started thinking about what represented her story the most it was clear that “Faith Over Fear” summed it all up.
During her celebration of life ceremony I had the honor to share some of our story. A tribute not only to her but to God. As I tried to hold back my tears, I knew she was shining down on us and rejoicing that her story was being shared. As promised, I will continue to share her story. I hope that it impacts you in a way that brings you closer to God and allows you to appreciate what you do have and shows you that love always wins!
If I’ve learned one thing from Ashley’s fight - life is too short to allow our fear to be bigger than our faith. To allow fear to out work faith. The truth is fear is always going to be there. The small voice in the back saying “you’re not good enough, no one cares, you’re too weak, just give up”. We shouldn’t spend our life trying to hide from fear. We should work on building our faith so strong that it's not limited by fear. More so that it annihilates, humiliates, and be littles fear!
Faith over fear was what we shared and in our weakest moments we knew that God would make a way! We knew that fear couldn’t control us. Our faith has been the foundation in our journey. A journey filled with mistakes, heartbreak, loss, trauma, brokenness, sickness, and weakness. But it has been in that weakness that qualified us for God’s strength.
Ashley was able to fight the fight because her source was God. There were days that she couldn’t get out of bed. Days when she didn’t want to talk to anyone. Days that she wanted to give up. But God! Like many of us I was angry, and I couldn’t understand why she didn’t share that same anger. Then God showed me;
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul goes on in verse 10, saying, “That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
That sweet smile we all loved so much. That light that made us feel better. That laughter she shared. The kindness she gave. The love she poured out unconditionally!
How can you explain all that goodness in the midst of such pain? God! It was Ashley’s willingness to surrender to God and wait on the Lord day in and out that made her the angel she was. She worshiped through her pain. She sang through her struggle. She gave thanks in all of it. She delighted in her weakness and God granted her strength!
So, if there’s one thing that you can take away from Ashley- it is her relationship with God. Many of us who visited her, called her, texted her knew that we were contacting her to see how she was doing, right? But somehow the conversation got turned around to us. How are you Lysh? How's business going? She was selfless in that way. In her most trying times and painful moments, Ashley wanted to know how you were doing.
Isn’t that the love of God?
As we celebrate her life and the light she was to so many of us, know that she is with us. Although her body is at rest, her spirit lives! This goes to anyone that has lost someone, don't be afraid to talk to them. Don't be afraid to think about them. But most of all don't allow fear to over power your faith. Ashley lived by faith and faith alone! She wanted each of us to know that faith is what got her through. Her faith believes she is right here with us. We can honor her by taking just a small piece of who she was and embody it ourselves.
See Ashley never overpowered you with God. She came with such a gentle peace that you couldn’t deny there was something special about her. That something is the Light!
Even in her pranks she brought joy! I remember one day she had the old lady down the hall tripping about roaches in her groceries because Ashley pranked her! LOL :) Ashley looked death right in the eyes and found laughter. "I’m not going to allow fear to out work my faith!"
Fear didn’t take her because her faith carried her!
So, I leave you with this pure message faith over fear;
Fear only has the power we give it. So, lets stop giving it power! Gravitate towards the power of light and the impact it can have in you, with you, and around you!
Since Ashley passed in March, I put a brief pause on Mas LaRae until now. I didn't feel like more light. It was hard for me to accept and process. I didn't have the words and I sure wasn't going to fake the funk. So, here I am. Not fully okay, but moving forward. Embracing the new season that is upon all of us. I feel her light which gives me permission to step back out and say to everyone they may be grieving, it is okay. You don't have to have all of the answers. You don't have to have the right words. It is okay not to be okay. I encourage you to find your tribe. The people that will be there for you as you go through your grieving season. People that truly care for you and create a safe place for you to heal. As many of you know I've been in this healing season for a while now with my fathers transition, heartbreak, and a life-time worth of grief. It is not easy, but it is necessary. I have committed myself not to give up but to press through even if it is uncomfortable. Everyone handles it differently. What is important is that you don't do it alone and know that God is there too!
Ashley's favorite flower is the sunflower and she is that to so many people. Her spirit radiates with such joy and freedom now. Even though I hate that her physical life on earth is complete, I can find peace to know that she is no longer suffering. It doesn’t take away the hurt we all share and the void we have that she is not here with us to celebrate life's milestones. To joke with and do silly things. To cry and worship together. To go to the pool and catch the sun rays together. I like to think that we have more that just the memories we can cherish. We have so much more! Ashley would want her story to continue through us. She would want us to still find that smile and carry her joy forward. Below are a few links if you're interested in hearing more about Ashley's story in her own words or if you're interested in contributing to her fund. We love you Ashley- Continue to Shine Bright!
If you would like to donate to her Memorial Fund CLICK HERE