Hi, I'm Ash!
I have never been a fan of having a "bio", I get it, people want to know more about you. Want to know what qualifies you to say, what you have to say. If I am honest, it just feels like a less than humble attempt to list the things you have accomplished. In my life, I have done everything in my power to run in the opposite direction, because for too long that is where I found my value and worth. In the things I was capable of doing, while not acknowledging that my being has already been chosen and named beloved.
So yes, I attended the University of Wisconsin - Madison on a full ride basketball scholarship, I graduated with a BA in Sociology. I went on to complete my Masters in Theological Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I have been on staff at Hope Street for a decade, and given the great honor and privilege to lead the organization for the last eight years.
These are some of the things I have done, but the thing I am most proud of? The opportunity I received and begrudgingly along the way leaned into - that it is safe to be known and loved too. That it is not healthy and therefore not beneficial to hide behind accolades, status, or whatever mask we create to portray something that is less than our reality. Authentic and vulnerable relationships lead to true healing, and real and meaningful community. I have experienced that and so much more, inside God's greenhouse for people on 26th and Capitol.
I have been able to do some pretty amazing things, but it is the people, and moments of being present that has made me who I am today - and that is the part I want to invite you into.
Last, but certainly not least, one of my greatest joys in life is being wife to Taylor, and mama to Jedidiah and our fur baby Bellie. My family keeps me grounded, present and encouraged to continue to join our Father in His redemptive plan.
Hope Street, the Greenhouse for People on 26th and Capitol in Milwaukee, provides housing and community to broken men, women and children. Ashley started as the Director in 2016 and has continued to flourish alongside those who live and learn at Hope Street.
Click on the icon to learn more about Hope Street.
Seems odd to live in the tension of wasting away when not too long ago you closed the decade to your 20's. While I suspect I have a lot of life left to live, I can’t neglect the life I have lived thus far and all it has taught me about myself, my family and friends and the greater community. Nicknames are often given as terms of endearment by those who know us best. My nickname is Smash. I was given that nickname at a very young age. It quickly caught on as a name close loved ones used for me. Eventually others heard my family use it and chose to use it too. Eventually “Smash” represented the athlete.
The athlete who appeared to have it all together. The athlete who performed at a high level and wanted everyone to be enamored by her performance. If that sounds exhausting, trust me it was. Especially when I was unwilling to allow people into any other part of my life. My family endured challenges and setbacks while I made poor choices personally, academically, and relationally. I did it all with a smile, few words spoken and a knack towards storing everything internally. Life for me was a game that a few won, leaving most of us in the rut of continually training to do so. I was interested in winning and when it felt like all I was producing were losses - I didn’t find value in life. Although, I continued to play the game.
When my career ended there was a period of time where I would cringe every time someone called me Smash. I was not proud of who I had been and I was fearful people wouldn’t be interested in getting to know the real person behind “Smash” or the athlete that hid behind that name.
Before I sound like someone with a personality disorder, let me just say - the names we are given can and often influence our identity.
My hope is that this blog will help you remain rooted in the only nickname that matters...beloved. Together we will explore the power of being radically vulnerable and intentionally present in a community that longs to know and be known. I will share my own story as well as those near and dear to me: broken men, women and children. Some broken in familiar ways like prideful, selfish and vain and others in not so familiar..addiction, abuse and homelessness.
Together, we call out and call up one another to BE who God calls us to be.. BELOVED sons and daughters.