Tell us a little bit about yourself and what God has called you to do? Hi Anchored Press friends! My name is Ashley, and I’m grateful to be sharing with you this week. I'm passionate about helping people – particularly women – live out God's purposes in their lives. Ladies, God did not call us to live safe, easy lives! He’s called us to the adventure of following him as he works through us to make an impact for his Kingdom!
Early on, God placed a burden on my heart to serve people living with HIV/AIDS, and I have the opportunity to live that out as Manager of the HIV&AIDS Initiative of Saddleback Church. My heart breaks that there are 37 million people around the world living with a preventable, incurable disease – and only half have access to treatment. So often people living with HIV face stigma and rejection from friends, family and even the church, yet we see in the Bible that when Jesus walked on Earth he spent a third of his time reaching out to the sick. We rarely hear that half of all people living with HIV are women, and in fact, its girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa who are facing the heaviest burden – every week 7,500 young women between the ages of 15-24 are newly infected. Not only that, AIDS orphans millions of children – children who will become more vulnerable to so many things, including HIV, without the care of a mom and dad. Church can be a game-changer in ending AIDS, but I believe we need to stop turning a blind eye to what God wants to do through us.
Where do you live and have you lived anywhere else? I currently live in Orange County, CA. I spent my earliest years in Miami, FL, and I lived for seven years in LA attending UCLA for undergrad, getting my Masters in Public Policy at USC and working at TOMS in their Giving Department.
How do you carve out time with God everyday? I try to start my day by talking to God before I grab my phone or roll out of bed and the day gets away from me. Then I try to have a constant conversation with God throughout the rest of the day. That can look like a quick prayer asking for his wisdom before a meeting or an in-the-moment prayer for a friend who comes to mind.
What is your favorite go-to dinner? I eat gluten free, so I’m always on the lookout for good GF recipes. I like the healthy Sloppy Joe recipe from the Daniel Plan cookbook.
Tell us your best God story (in your own life)? Oh man, so many, where do I start! A favorite recent God story started on a Rwanda trip. A couple from our church facing infertility received the email about the Orphan Care trip and decided to postpone their planned IVF and use the funds for the trip instead. That particular trip started out rough with a series of frustrations that culminated in being stuck overnight in Brussels and an irate taxi driver threatening to call the cops on us. At that point they were questioning why God had them on the trip. They stuck it out and once in Rwanda, God got their attention for the needs of parentless children. When they returned home they finally made the decision to adopt, and now they have an adorable adopted son who will forever know what it’s like to have an adoring mom and dad. All thanks to a God-timed email and what started out as a very rough trip.
What are your 3 favorite books (other than the Bible of course)? I’m a big fan of Pride and Prejudice, Steal Like an Artist, and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.
What is your favorite Bible Verse? Proverbs 3:5-6 was the first verse I memorized, and it's been a key verse my whole life. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” As someone who's natural inclination is to "lean on my own understanding," I'm reminded that God's plans often don't make sense through the world's eyes of common sense. He calls us to depend on him, and as we follow him and stay in communication with him, he'll guide us to the right path. I typically want the whole roadmap laid out in advance, but faith doesn’t work that way! Many of the most important decisions I've made have not made much logical sense through my own understanding, but God's plans are always so much better - and different - than I could ever dream up. When He calls me to places that are scary and unfamiliar and unknown, I remember that he goes with me and ahead of me.
We are dying to know . . . what is your favorite thing to do on a Friday night? I love watching a movie with friends or finding a new hole-in-the-wall spot to eat. My Yelp app gets a workout since I’m always looking for new gluten free desserts to try!