I cannot express how thankful I am for these words written below. Before I share this wonderful post, I want to tell you how I know this beautiful sister in Christ. She is the little sister of a friend that I had in high school. Although life has carried us different paths since that chapter of my life almost 14 years ago, my solid memory of who they were, who they are, still remains. Your parents will tell you that whatever reputation you carry when you are in high school will carry with you a long time. That's true. These two sisters, with their long flowing hair and their outstanding beauty represented Christ in a way that shined, brought life wherever they went and truly left a mark on my life.
When I think of these two sisters, I think of Jesus.
And I am so excited to share her story. God's written story for her life.
Read till the end... I know you will be inspired.
I was floored when Tiffany asked me to write for This Whole House. I am a fan, so to be asked to share on this inspiring site is an honor. Fun fact: we are from the same town in North Carolina! We also both devour Bojangles in under 5 minutes! Wait...that's just me.
It's interesting that the deadline for me to submit my story is the weekend I leave for my business' launching in FL, as well as shooting my first commercial in DC. The timing is unbelievable.
You should also know that I just left an 8 hour babysitting job in Brooklyn, and I'm now headed to play Mrs. Doubtfire, by cooking dinner and walking a dog for a family in Harlem. This and 1.1 million other side jobs have been my story for 3.5 years. I was told in college being in the arts was not for the faint of heart and to get out of it unless you couldn't think of anything else you would rather do. I remember sitting in that classroom, shrugging my shoulders and sharing a smile with my now business partner, knowing that we were in it to win it. On the days (and late nights) when you are waiting tables, personal assisting, cleaning, cat sitting, and folding other people's laundry- it's helpful to remember that moment in the woods. It's critical.
The phrase, "I don't know if I can do this,” has been heard by all the beloved in my life, however my Mama and Pa, (otherwise known as the affectionately dubbed, Gypsy Rose Lee & Herbie) win the award of most times enduring this little speech. What is most shocking is that they have yet to ask me to get a backup plan. I also said this fond phrase before I went to college. And to my acting professor & mentor. And to three voice teachers. And to God before my first musical audition. And when waiting to audition in mile long lines, that wrap around the block. And when getting cut, repeatedly. And at all the previously stated 1.1 million side jobs. And at my first Broadway callback. And when I look at my bank account. And when I started my business.
She doubt(ed) a lot huh?
The good and grace-filled news is, I no longer ask that question. This is a very recent discovery. I am not and will not be sufficient enough on my own. At anything. When I actually realize that (over and over), and release my white knuckled, fearfully shaky, stubbornly independent grip, things shift. This Little Bull nudges on, a little more free each time.
My name is Ashley. Jesus Christ is my Savior and my King. I am 28 years old and live in Harlem. I moved to New York City 3.5 years ago. I'm an actress/singer/dancer and have a Theatre Arts degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University. I am a total foodie. My love for food and the arts are neck in neck.
My business partner and I have been the dearest of friends, (siblings I should say) for the past ten years. I prayed for a brother and got two! Thank you my sweet Sissy for that! We were paired together in our first acting class as theatre majors, and when we couldn't believe in ourselves, we have believed in each other. There aren't words for my gratitude in that initial first pairing, and the hundreds after that. He's the Linus to my Lucy. It's very good to be in business with and the scene partner of Shane Daniel Lord and his brilliance.
Our business was developed out of a series of doors slamming shut and doors opening wide. It was created out of big dreams, failures, mistakes, leaps of faith, persistent passion, daily laughter, a WHOLE LOT OF HUSTLING and a loving, leading Hand.
Big City Fairy is a new interactive play with music for young audiences. It tells the tale of an unlikely friendship between Faye- a sparkling, hopeful fairy and Darrell- a dopey, Central Park tour guide. Through the magic of theatre, children and adults are encouraged to dream BIG. Sometimes, however in order to dream big you need someone to dream big with you.
Our show is a love letter to the world of theatre and NYC. We wrote it for children who haven't met Charlotte's Web yet or Mother Goose, and for adults who can't remember what they wanted to be when they grew up. It's to the people that are put in our paths to encourage us when we just can't see our gift, much less live it.
God's love letter to me in my journey has my tears crumpling the paper. I wish I could say I
ran to those letters every single day, but somedays, I regretfully threw them in the trash. His
relentless love and mercy is an ocean. He sees us. He sees you. He didn't forget you. He makes the sun come out tomorrow, and because of His beautiful countenance, we shine. He takes those tears, and he invites us for a dance. That. Is real magic.
The people that have surrounded BCF and jumped on board, consistently blow us away with their talents. We are amazed, humbled and thankful. A certain thoughtful, handsome Gentleman (and SKILLED point guard) bounced into my life at the very beginning of this adventure and has been selflessly cheering us on since. Our endlessly supportive families, loved ones, patient friends, caring roommates, gracious colleagues, hopeful professors, and talented artists say to us what Faye says to Darrell. What Shane and I have said to each other. And what God says to us.
"I believe in you."
So, dear reader, let me say to you with full hope, I believe in you. I believe in God's good plan for your life. I believe in your gift that He has given you. On the days when no one sees it, when you yourself don't even want to see it, try to not let the war steal you. It will attempt as you and I know, to steal you. Crawl back from the mud. I have crawled back a lot.
Then try to trust that, "The Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." (Zephaniah 3:17)
And then, fly forward.
You can follow Big City Fairy on Facebook (here) and even though Ashley simply wrote this post to encourage and inspire others to believe and dream again... I found this an opportunity to support a God-given dream. So I ask that you LIKE their page and dream with them. Pray for them. And check out their website.
And without Ashley knowing... I found this YouTube video. It's a must see. My little girl's eyes lit up with excitement when they saw this beautiful "big city fairy" dancing in NYC.
You are never to old to dream.
Thank you Ashley for sharing your heart.
To be a part of this Inspire Me Series, click (here) for more information.
I would love to hear from you.