Ashley's Testimony

Finding my path to Jesus.

My rock is Jesus!
      My story begins with my Mother. My Mom was the second to last child born and a twin in her 10 child family. Growing up I have heard stories of how the family didn't have a lot. Grandpa grew up in a dirt floor shack in the hills of Kentucky, and left home at the young age of 8 years old to work on a tobacco farm. He didn't have a whole lot of education, and so didn't have many options for work aside for entry level factory job which in those days don't pay nearly as well as they do now! The family didn't make a lot of money, and though it has never been openly said, I feel a lot of my aunts and uncles, including my Mom, who grew up in the MTV generation felt like they were neglected because they didn't have the fine things in life TV told them they should have.
     ​I think that is when my Mom began to search for something to fill a void in her life and found my Dad. At 15 years old she became pregnant with me and at age 16 married him, totally unprepared and on her own. During the time of her pregnancy and the first three years of my life my Dad continuously had extramarital affairs, damaging her love and sense of self-worth. They divorced when I was 3, but the scars of a damaged 15 year old girl live on in who my Mom is to this day.

     ​ ​After my parents went their separate ways, my Mother continued to look for something to fill the void in her heart. In men, alcohol, and consumerism. I don't remember much before I was 6, except that my Mom didn't seem to be around much and that Mamaw and Papaws house was a refuge in my young life. Later I found out that during this time she had become a severe alcoholic and had become very ill from Pancreatitis caused from her drinking. When I was 6 years old my Mom married my first stepdad, Mark M. He was a very good man and loved my Mom with a passion, but the wounds my father caused would not let my Mom love him completely and their marriage ended in divorce. After that she met another man, Mark D. This is the man I believe God had for her. He knows who she is, what she's been through, and can handle her wild Rogers temper! I am so thankful for him because although my Mom is still scarred I believe he saved her life and carries her through this life and loves her even when she may make it difficult.

     ​​ Because of my Moms history with men, I decided in middle school that while I like boys, I never wanted to get married or have a family. I wanted to make a mark on history and be a Demonologist, Egyptologist, or an anthropologist. So I went to school, making grades adequate to pass, but not much more, and waited to escape. To break free and explore life. Finally middle school graduation rolled around and on to high school I went. Boy, Was it a whole different world than anything I had ever seen! There were so many different cliques of people! Goths, preps, skaters, Christians, and jocks, just to name a few! Freshmen year was so exciting, and the year I would meet my future husband. He took my cousin on a date and hung out with her a couple of times, and while I had seen him around I really didn't care for him. He was very loud and forward! But he grew on me and one day I just knew! This was the man God had for me!

     ​​ I felt like I had to be near him or my life would not be what it was supposed to be! So I wrote him a high school love letter and we began dating. He had dreams to move back to his hometown of Michigan and pursue a business degree and so I worked hard to graduate a semester early so that I could go with him. In December 2006 we moved to a one bedroom apartment in South Bend, IN. Times were tough and we struggled to find jobs, let alone attend school, but finally we found jobs and things got better. We became engaged and God sent us our first blessing. Knowing a little one was on the way and being in a city where I had no friends or family I became terribly homesick and begged Brent to bring me home. Being the amazing man he is, he not only brought me home, but married me that June and bought us a little home to raise our family in that November.

     ​​One month later Gabriella came. Looking at my newborn baby she looked so pure and beautiful, and I knew that there was a God up there, and I knew he loved our little family and deserved our worship. But I didn't know anything about the bible, and while I knew who Jesus was, I really didn't know anything about him. One day I was watching the Duggar family on TV and saw how much they loved God how close their family was. I wanted that for our family! But Brent was adamant, I could go to church and read and worship as I pleased, but he did not want to be dragged into it! He did not want any part of Jesus! But he did want a big family, and so I left our family planning up to God, and along came baby number 2, Oliver!

     ​​At that time, that was my worship and my testimony. Birthing children and wearing skirts. I didn't read my bible, and I hardly went to church, and when I did it was never to the same one. Our family continued to grow and I continued to seek, but without really putting in any work. I expected Jesus to do it all, without putting any real effort into my relationship with him. Years later I met a young pastor and his wife at the park.

     ​​This was the first time that I felt like I could actually have what I was looking for. I had met tons of devout Christians before, but they had all been raised to know Christ from infancy and while I loved them, I felt like I could not relate to them. This pastor was different. He was like me. He had found Christ later in his life and you could see Jesus pouring through his body. Everything he did was to minister for his Lord. And his wife was a true Titus woman! She embodied everything I wanted to be as a wife and mother. She was soft-spoken, loving, she spent hours with God and raised her boys in a calm beautiful home! I wanted so badly to be just like her! And so while I still acknowledged Christ, my worship turned to their family. Its horrible to say, and I really didn't realize it, but it did! I tried to emulate everything I saw in their home in ours, and I tried to force my husband to fit into the same mold that Pastor was in. My husband was miserable! He loved the people of the church, but he hated what the church was doing to me. I was discontent in our lives, and became very moody and angry because our home life was not like that of my Christian friends!

      ​​Finally we left the church and began attending another. This church was loving. Its members were wonderful and loving, but it never really felt like it was a place we belonged because we were not raised to be Mennonites as they were. It felt like no matter what, we just came from a different world. So we drifted away and because we were not under any authority Satan struck. 

      ​​At this time I fell into extreme spiritual rebellion. I still loved God, but I began wearing pants and heavy makeup, my outward sign that I had changed. I still wanted to serve God though, and so knowing that Christianity would not accept me until I repented, and not being willing to repent, I began looking into Islam. For 4 months I studied and absorbed everything I could. I even began praying as a Muslim and was very close to taking my Shahada. (The equivalent to a Christians baptism.) I could feel darkness in our home. It was very scary, but I convinced myself it was the devil attacking because I was getting closer to God. Really, it was just because Jesus was gone.

     ​​I felt like life was swallowing me up. I could not keep up with the 5 blessings God had given me. I could not keep up with the demands of a busy home, with homeschool, with anything! I felt totally and completely overwhelmed and alone. Isolated. Finally I opened up to my cousin, Emily who encouraged me to look to Jesus and to go back to church. I told her I didn't think any of my church's would accept me back, and she very wisely told me they would because they loved me, and that it didn't matter if they wouldn't, because I wasn't there for them. I was there for Jesus.

      ​​ I contacted the Pastor I had met in the park and he told me I needed to repent. He said I needed to acknowledge my sin. To apologize to our Savior. Then I needed to make restitution to the people I hurt and work on living my life for Christ. So I did. On my bedroom floor in the warmth of the sun coming through the window I apologized for leading my family through sin and for abandoning Jesus as my Lord. I wept.

     ​​ Right then I felt the love of Christ Jesus return into my life! For the first time, I really felt saved! I found what I had been looking for over 7 years! It wasn't a church I was looking for, or a pastor to lead me. It was the One who died on the cross for me. Who loves me despite my failures as a wife, mother, friend, and human being. The one who is always with me! Hallelujah! I have been redeemed! I never knew how much I needed him until I hit rock bottom. Since I let the Lord Jesus Christ into my heart I have felt a peace and a warmth in my home that I didn't know could be there! I can see beauty as He sees beauty! I am still not perfect, I still get flustered and overwhelmed but I can feel the love of God and know he is there with me. It really is true I can do nothing without Christ, and I have experienced that first hand! Praise be to Jesus!