Live a Good Story

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA for the past six weeks. I have so much I want to share with you. The past six weeks have been filled with adventure, learning, and hard times. I have so much I want to say, but no structure to the chaos of experiences in my brain. So a wise man gave me some advice: “Make a list. People like lists.” So here is a list of the top 3 hardest and favorite moments thus far:

TOP THREE HARDEST MOMENTS
1. This wasn’t a single moment. This still happens on the regular. Learning spanish. Guys. It’s hard. I’m still praying that one day I wake up speaking fluently. But life isn’t about getting from A to B instantly. Its that journey in between. “Poco a poco.” Little by little. While sitting in spanish class, my teacher would look at me and ask me a question in spanish. I looked at him, probably tried to roll my eyes, and said “I have NO CLUE what you’re trying to say to me.” I would get so frustrated I could have cried. In those moments I would pray for patience and joy. For me, joy is such a crucial thing to seek during frustrating times. Joy and hope is what keeps me going. Friends, life without joy and hope is hard. Don’t let fear and frustration win. Don’t do it. Choose Joy. Choose Hope. “May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE as you TRUST in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

2. The journey to school every day. We attended a language school in San Pedro. We left at 7:45 in the morning, caught our first bus to San Jose, walked across the city to our second bus to San Pedro, and would get to school by 9 (usually). And after class we’d do the same thing in reverse. It is exhausting when you only focus on getting from point A to point B. It was especially hard for me when it was SO HOT outside. There are people everywhere, walking in different directions, shouting in spanish trying to sell you things. I learned that God didn’t make me the “Get from A to B, don’t worry about the rest” sort of person. So for the last couple weeks of our adventure I walked slower, I observed more, I took different routes every now and then. Life is not about getting from A to B safely and checking it off the list. Life is not a race. Life is a journey. Each day is a journey. Don’t miss out on what Jesus has in store for you by constantly focusing on whats next. Seek His face and be obedient in each moment.

3. Ronny from Santa Monica. One day on our venture to school Becca and I were stopped by a man, “Excuse me, do you speak english? I’m from California, Santa Monica!” He continued to talk in circles telling us what he is doing in Costa Rica, how he got robbed last night, he can show us his passport, he doesn’t want our money. As he talked I kind of rolled my eyes in a “yeah yeah get to the point” sort of way. With tears in his eyes, in a humble and ashamed tone, he said he does not want our money, he just wants something to eat. So I bought him some McDonalds breakfast and we parted ways. We went to school and told our teacher (aka our Costa Rican life guide) about our experience. He asked us if we actually watched him eat the food, and explained to us the drug market here…there is a market for EVERYTHING – even the McDonalds breakfast – and he very well could have sold his breakfast to get money to buy crack. He just told us to be careful and aware. About a week later on our walk back through town, we were stopped again by a voice from behind us, “Excuse me, do you speak english? California, Santa Monica!” It was Ronny. He did not recognize us. My heart broke. I didn’t just see a drug addict wandering the streets of San Jose. I saw people I know and love who have been in his shoes. I didn’t just see a menace to society, a man with a drug problem. I saw a son, a brother, a father, a friend to someone. A child of God. A man Jesus died on the cross for. Who am I to just walk by and look down on him? This changed my perspective of every single person I walked by. Jesus went to the cross for him, for her, for those punks, for those old men. We’re not called to love conditionally, to love based on certain criteria or circumstances. We are not called to love only those who have not wronged us, or only those who love us in return. We are called to LOVE. That is all. “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

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TOP THREE FAVORITE MOMENTS
1. Wyld Life Family Club! For our second Wyld Life club of the year, we invited the entire family of our middle school friends; little siblings, older siblings, moms, dads…they were all there. Initially, the parents were sitting back, watching their kids interact. And then club started. It was World Record Club. The first record we were trying to break was to see how many people could stand on a piece of cardboard. The game started and the parents continued to sit back and observe. They thought they were just going to observe a Wyld Life club! It was cute. Once we convinced them to join us in the chaos, they were helping us break world records like THEY WERE MADE FOR THIS! Parents were right alongside their kids, doing burpees, star jumps, clipping clothes pins to their faces. It was so awesome! Sometimes we think we have a certain role we are supposed to play. We have our boxes and we don’t go outside them. Then Jesus steps in and says, “I came so that you may have life to the full.” Usually that life is found outside our box. Outside our comfort zone. It was a beautiful sight watching parents run alongside their kids, experiencing a tiny glimpse of life to the full.

2. The Hamptons! The Hamptons moved here from Austin, TX this summer. Their home is beautiful! Fresh, cold air up in the mountains, away from the business of the city. We have a delicious dinner around a big table with people I love. We speak in english and talk about Jesus. We laugh A LOT. We play ball in the house with the kids (Sorry Jeannie and Jimmy 🙂 ). And my favorite part: they gave us each a key to their casita (small guest home), and gave us the freedom of going there whenever we’d like. It is all set with pictures on the walls, perfectly-made beds, and a stocked fridge. It the perfect place to go to listen to silence and refocus. The Hampton’s are SUCH a blessing and an answer to prayer for me. So don’t worry yall, Costa Rica is filled with people who love just like my people back in Gen Co. love <3.

3. Story telling in spanish. In spanish class, each of us were handed a spanish childrens book, had to read it, and then re-tell the story in spanish in our own words. Past tense, people. When your vocabulary is smaller than a 5 year olds, you would not be excited about this project either. My book was Cinderella. I forget the spanish title. I actually forgot the title when it was my turn to share. Oops. My teacher said, “Thats okay, just make it your own.” So in spanish I told the story of Leonie, the girl with bad sisters and step mom. Here it is:
She was sad she could not attend the dance, so it was raining from her eyes (its not poetic, I just dont know the word for cry). A fairy appear and said “Stop raining from your eyes.” She transformed ugly clothes into a beautiful dress, and an orange plant into a motorcycle. Leonie went to the dance and danced with the prince. But the clock said 12:30 and the magic ended. She rode her pumpkin back home. She forgot her shoe. The prince found it. He searched the city looking for the girl who uses the shoe. All the girls in the city loved the prince and wanted to use the shoe. But they couldn’t. Only Leonie. Leonie and the prince fell in love (caer en amor, thats the physical act of falling into something called love), and they lived happy lives.
Lesson learned here: 1. I may have not did 100%, but this was definitely a success. Poco a poco. Look at what you’ve done, not what you can’t do. 2. Write your own story. Go off the beaten path. Quit conforming to the expectations of others. You don’t need permission to live a good story. A quote from my good friend, Donald Miller (okay, he’s not actually my friend. But maybe someday):

“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story, the protagonist is transformed. He’s a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. And if story is derived from real life, if the story is just a condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another.”

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Life in Costa Rica is a beautiful and messy story. It is a story of character transformation. It’s a real life, epic story I am living out. The Lord is doing work in my heart. I am being humbled, reminded I am a daughter of THE king, and learning what it means to be sanctified and holy.

I’ve taken so long to write another blog post because it is hard to process my experiences and put it into words. If there is something specific you guys want to know about, just ask! You are on this journey with me. I appreciate you so so so much!

Prayer requests:
– 7 years ago my life was changed forever when I lost my best friend. This time of year is always hard for me. Pray that I am reminded of the good that has come from a beautiful friendship cut short!
– My host family! They are great.
– West Side Wyld Life! Students and teachers at Country Day Middle School and Lighthouse International.
– Pray that cucurachas stay out of my bedroom. I’m half kidding, half very serious. 🙂

*** Please continue to pray for my fundraising as well! I’m about $3,500 away from being fully funded! If you’d like to support me financially, check out the “How you can help!” page!

Again, I really love y’all and am BEYOND grateful for you.

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2 thoughts on “Live a Good Story

  1. Good Morning Ashley, I LOVED this post! Inspiring to me and a blessing to see God stretching you in a beautiful way! We are praying for you and love you so much❤️I can’t help but think your good friend, Bob Goff would be so proud of this blog post! LOVE DOES!

    Like

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