She and I faced one another at lunch, a sea of sixty dollars worth of over ordered sushi separating us. "It's weird", I declared. "Whatever my purpose in this life is, I know it's to talk to people, because every time I see someone on stage or hear them addressing the crowd all I can think is 'I want to do that. That's where I belong'. It's a pull at the depths of my heart". "Well, maybe you'll be a Pastor", she proclaimed.
Nervous she may unknowingly be speaking prophecy over my life that certainly wasn't requested or even partially wanted, I quickly protested "Hahaha, oh nooooo! No no no no no! Nuh uh. Nope. No way jose. Not a Pastor."
"One day I will remind you of the time we sat at lunch and you swore you wouldn't become a minister...."she giggled, taking the first bite, eyebrow raised. We unwrapped our chopsticks and tried as best we could to make our tummies as big as our eyes, and little did I know I would be swallowing my words less than an hour later. It was Andi Andrew, a young, stylish and hilarious Pastor from New York City who had me awe. She made being a minister look...well...cool, and in that moment I knew that I may not wind up a preacher, but the Lord sure did have a funny way of saying "Your emotions are fickle Ashley-- don't you know by now to never say never? I can show you great things for your life you could never dream of!".
It was after that I opened my heart up as wide as I possibly could during the Arise conference and took in what the speakers were saying. I allowed myself to experience my God given dreams, and let the Lord water them where they could flourish. From a young age I knew I was meant to speak in public. My mother and first grade report cards would attest. As a photographer I feel the pull to use my words to uplift and ignite a fire within others. I thought in the photography world that sort of success could only come with painstaking round the clock work of strategically building a 'community', becoming a content creator killing SEO,and inventing new and fabulous ways to get and hold people's attention to in return become recognized for all my accolades and blow your mind styled shoots. A status quo I felt maybe I had just missed the boat on. With my arms outstretched to the sky in prayer, I knew the gifts that were given to me are not my own, but with great purpose. I AM meant to speak, and my genuine investment and compassion towards other people's lives isn't a weakness in business I once thought. I don't have to harden my heart to make it work. And I CAN openly speak about the presence who turned my life upside down for the great (that would be Jesus, if you're just tuning in). The moment I uncovered the dreams I had once buried was the minute my heart was clarified: my passions were not put within me for the empty praise of man, but for the work of God. And I finally accept that. As a new friend just recently shed light on, there is room for Jesus in both gritty humanitarian works and beautiful, glamorous wedding photography. Open to all possibilities I'm excited to see where the spirit leads both Marshall and I (+ hoping he's got Italy one day in the blueprints)
The holy spirit has literally changed my life. I used to be one of those people who would quickly scroll past the scripture and bible thumping Facebook posts, declaring myself a believer of Christ (with absolutely no notion or effort into the real relationship) yet scoffing at the spiritual proclamations and instead taking the time to read every single one of the other "just woke up from a nap headed to the gym then reading a book before I head to work" updates. I didn't agree with the forum naysayers who hated on business owners who made their relationship with Jesus the center of their lives and seemingly business, but it did annoy me a little. In a whirlwind of a complete 180 (because he's still working' on me), convictions in my heart that clearly didn't come from my own flesh and witnessing signs and straight up blow ya mind miracles --I'm now probably one of them. And I that don't mind. Just please don't make me a Pastor. ;)