BOSS UP OR BOW DOWN

I didn't choose this life. 

Being divorced with two children before I hit thirty certainly wasn't on my bucket list.

However, I also never had the desire to launch my own businesses and become a member of the new honorary society of involuntary #MOMbosses. The aforementioned life-altering experience begat the next so, here I am. Thrust into a life where the only choice I was given was to fly or fall and my children will never crash and burn on my watch

So, I grind. 

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After having dinner with my family to celebrate my birthday last week, a friend came over to hang out for a while. Our schedules had been crazy busy for about two months and some much-needed quality time was the perfect birthday present. We joked, laughed and shared the joys and weights of the past few months. At one point, he mentioned that he'd been so busy lately that he didn't even know Hurricane Nate was barreling directly towards us a couple of weeks ago until about two days before it was scheduled to hit. In the midst of more laughter, I looked at him and pressed pause on the chuckles for a second to make a quick confession.

"You know I was a little (lot) salty that you didn't check on me to make sure I straight before the storm hit, right?"

Just as he responded with a smirk and "You right. I dropped the ball on th...", I interrupted. 

See even though my feelings were real, I didn't feel like they were justified. I reminded him that it wasn't his responsibility to look after me; I'm no one's responsibility but my own. We aren't involved romantically, my children are precisely that; mine. The situation forced me to get ish handled on my own. Growing up on the Gulf Coast has made me nothing close to a stranger on how to prepare for a hurricane. I Googled a checklist and made sure me and my little people were fully stocked with bottled water, non-perishable foods, flashlights, batteries, candles, snacks, coloring books, crayons, etc. I bathed everyone early, downloaded their favorite movies to my iPad, dressed everyone in our pajamas for the night and waited. 

He still apologized, and tried to convince me that it actually was his responsibility to check on me as a man who has placed himself in my life as someone who cares about my well-being so he should've done more. 

Unfortunately, I believe I would waste several irreplaceable seconds of my life by filling them with feelings of disappointment if I lived life within the walls of that version of truth. 

When I found myself almost nine months pregnant with my son and sleeping in my grandmother's guest room with my 15-month-old daughter as my then husband and I were on the brink of disaster. Now, at that point in time I had a few options. I could have allowed hurt to overcome me and sink into depression. I could've allowed bitterness to consume me and attempted to retaliate. Or I could've pressed HARD into my Savior, stepped up my game and got on my grind by creating several ways to provide for my little family just in case I was ever in a position where I had to do it all on my own. It was sink or swim. 

Boss up, or bow down. 

Rise to the challenge, or kneel in defeat. 

I lived life under the covering of my step-father from age 6 to 26. That covering then shifted to my husband, and it has rested in my own hands since he allowed the words "I have no desire for there to be anything between us anymore" to flow from his lips in 2015. At this moment, the only consistent covering in my life is God and there's no better protection than that.

So yes, I have issues being dependent on other people. Especially men. I pause when he holds doors open for me, often tell him I don't need help carrying things because I've been carrying the weight of abandonment on my own for so long that I've somewhat forgotten how to let someone share the load.

However, these are the cards I have been dealt and I have placed each one in the hands of The Father.  

I didn't seek out this life. 

But I'm living it. 

Like a boss. 

 

xoxo, 

Ashley Danielle

 

BIRTHING GRACE

Last Friday, I turned 31.

Thirty-one.

I spent the day thanking God for blessing me with another year. Another year to smile, to laugh, to cry, to dream, and to love like never before. I'm entering this next chapter of my life with my heart set on what matters most, and aware of the strength He has given me to accomplish great things. Great things like refusing to allow fear to keep me from pressing through the weight of the last few years and write and publish my first book.

This book is so much more than words in a book; it's my heart on paper. 

Yesterday at the 5th Quarter Classic Pop-Up Brunch & Art Exhibit signing copies of Swimming In Grace.

Yesterday at the 5th Quarter Classic Pop-Up Brunch & Art Exhibit signing copies of Swimming In Grace.

Honestly, I can't believe the day finally came. I literally wanted to cry, laugh, shout it from the rooftops and hide in a corner all at once. Not because I was afraid of whether or not it would be received well. The fact that God specifically spoke to my spirit and gave me the honor to write this book has always been without contestation. However, adrenaline was running through my veins like fire the entire weekend. My first book (yes, there will be more) is making its way into the hands of women all over this country that I've been praying for since the beginning of the year. Writing has been a passion of mine since I was in the third grade, but this is the most vulnerable writing I've ever done.

One night when I was still in graduate school, I was hanging out with a a few friends and we got into a very serious conversation about the habits and vices we struggled with the most. I pulled out my poetry book while others shared stories from their past that had caused them to keep certain areas of their lives a secret, sins that were holding them in a bondage they weren't quite sure how to shake. That night, I penned my first piece about my abortion. 

I will never be able to fully describe the freedom I felt afterwards.  

At this point, I have performed that piece for hundreds of people and seen weights be lifted and hearts set free. James 5:16 reminds us of the glorious healing power of confessing our sins to those who can pray with us as we walk out this Christian life. I pray   Swimming In Grace    helps others experience the same freedom in Christ I have. The enemy has no power over us when we fully immerse ourselves in the reality of God's grace.

My prayer isn't exactly that people take my side, but moreso that hearts are healed after reading this book. I don't care if people know who I am; I simply want you to know His grace. I want everyone who lays their eyes on these pages experiences the freedom only God's grace can provide, and that they pour that energy back out into the universe. 

Seeing this book make its way across the country is one of the most gratifying feelings of my life. I've been pregnant with these words for so many years, and I've now given birth to such a huge part of my purpose. 

Whether you have had an abortion, know someone who has, currently work or have previously worked in an abortion clinic, or have simply ever felt like you were drowning in the aftermath of a series of bad decisions, I hope you will add Swimming In Grace to your reading list. 

CLICK HERE TO ORDER. 

 

xoxo, 

 Ashley Danielle 

HAITI: AND HE SENT THEM OUT

I don't have the words to accurately pour out the way my heart felt after returning from a medical mission to Gonaives, Haiti last Friday.

My plan before we left was to write every night once we returned to the hotel, then compile it all when we made it back to the states. However, each night I found myself sitting on my bed with my laptop in the empty space beside me not being able to type a single thing.

I still can't find the words to quite describe the way it felt to have a woman stand in front of me with four small children who all need antibiotics for stomach worms. My senior seminar didn't prepare me to vividly illustrate the way people smiled as I handed them the rare medications they so desperately needed, but couldn't afford or didn't have easy access to. You know, things like over-the-counter pain pills, cough syrup and allergy medicine. None of my writing courses in undergrad taught me how to paint a portrait of children playing and taking baths in a polluted river under a bridge, or decaying concrete walls in a church bathroom.

But I can invite you into one moment.  

We toured a hospital before leaving Gonaives. I'd managed to keep from crying this entire trip, then we walked into the hospital room where they cared for the malnourished children. There was only one child in there. She was so tiny that I'm not even sure how old she was. My eyes filled up with tears so fast I just had to walk away.

I thought about my own children and how I feel when they just have a simple cold, and could only imagine how her mother might feel. I remember holding my daughter to my chest in the back of an ambulance when she had RSV and could hardly breathe. I felt so helpless and just kept praying and praying. When we were being discharged the doctor told me I did the right thing by following my mother's intuition and bringing her in because she was moments from going into respiratory distress.

Then, I wondered where her mother was.

Had she been abandoned?

Did her mother have other children she couldn't leave so she couldn't stay in the hospital with her? Was she even alive?  

I will never know why God chose for me to be born in the country I was, and to experience the privileges I have. My children have never known hunger. Not only was #FelicityGrace able to get the care she needed quickly, my insurance paid for it and I didn't have to question for a second if she was getting the best care available.

The people of Gonaives don't have that.

I understand that not everyone reading this is in a position to take two weeks off work to serve abroad, but I want to encourage each of you take action in two simple yet powerful ways: pray and give. 

Pray for people around the world who live a life of poverty that most of us could never imagine, and pray for those who have committed to serving them. Give to The Luke 9 Project, the organization I travelled with, by clicking here to help us prepare for our next trip to care for the people of Gonaives. 

God has given us a mission "to proclaim the kingdom of heaven and to heal". The Luke 9 Project has taken on the task of sending medical missionaries to the front lines of this fight. Please pray for our team, and donate whatever you can to fight alongside us. 

 

xoxo,

Ashley Danielle