A few weeks ago I had the privilege to sit down with fitness coach and educator Ashley Sanchez. Over a cup of coffee at my favorite park I sat down to hear her story. I hope her amazing story inspires you like it did me.
This is the stuff that dreams are made of, except it didn’t start that way. Sitting in the back of the church, Ashley looks at the seat she’s been sitting in for the past several years on the far left of the church. She lets out a small laugh with some tears as she shares how she now looks at that seat and remembers the prayer she prayed for so long every Sunday while sitting there. A prayer that seemed would never be answered.
In some ways Ashley was in the middle of Spring. She was happily married to the love of her life, a man that in her own words is “the kindest, most faithful, God-fearing man”. Though grateful for all the good in her life, there was that unanswered prayer seemingly mocking her, prodding her, making her wonder if God was really listening at all. While many around her experienced the joy of motherhood, there it was…cold, no leaves on the trees…winter.
Though not every woman desires to be a mother, for Ashley it was something she wanted with all her heart. Since losing her own mother when she was just ten years old she came to appreciate and value mothers. At the tender age of ten, she changed. A growing appreciation for close family relationships and leaning on God began to develop. As she grew she noticed mothers all around her, noting things she felt were great qualities of a mother as well as things she didn’t like. Even then, she knew, she wanted some day to love a child of her own and express through words and actions all the things she kept deeply in her heart.
For six years Ashley and her husband Manny tried to have children. Daily wearing her well known kind smile as a beautiful accessory, she hid to most the inner turmoil that came with each negative pregnancy test. She felt frustrated and depressed and for years it continued to be the same without any changes even after many doctor’s visits and treatments.
Back in the chair on the far left side of the church she constantly prayed that she would get pregnant, never really giving thought to the possibility of anything else. Until one day someone sharing their personal experience at church said the words, “I was praying a selfish prayer”. Selfish prayer? “Oh no”, she reflected, “I’ve been praying the wrong prayer. My prayer has been selfish all along.” That day, Ashley’s prayer changed from “God, help me get pregnant” to “God bless me with a child.”
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Sometime after that prayer changed, unknowingly, what she looked at began to change. Like American philosopher Wayne Dyer once said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” On Thanksgiving Day while spending time with family, her cousin shared of a friend they both knew who was pregnant and had decided she would give up the baby for adoption. Without hesitation Ashley blurts out jokingly, “Absolutely not…I want to adopt that baby!” Just like that, the thing she’d not considered before, came up out of that longing in her heart. Though the conversation didn’t really go further, it was a moment that would change her life forever.
That December, Ashley was contacted by the young woman inquiring if Ashley was really interested in adoption. It was there that unknowingly winter turned into spring. Without notice, the answer to her prayer arrived and after so many years the answer, to her surprise, was yes.
Sitting in the back of the church, Ashley looks at the seat she’s been sitting in for the past several years on the far left of the church. She lets out a small laugh with some tears as she shares how she now looks at that seat and remembers the prayer she prayed for so long every Sunday while sitting there. A prayer that seemed would never be answered. Ashley sits in the back of the church holding baby Noah…the answer to her prayer…her baby boy that has made it clear that Spring is here! Oh Spring! The elusive Spring! Oh how we long for thee! After long winter months, there is simply nothing better than a fresh cool breeze hitting your face. The scents of spring are scintillating and awaken a fresh desire to tackle new things in ways not even the New Year can do. Fresh breeze, fresh flowers! Hail the season of new beginnings! The season of new beginnings has arrived! After all the waiting…it finally arrived.
On my way home from talking with Ashley, my favorite song came on the radio and I sang out loud Lauren Daigle’s song….
When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you
In Ashley’s own words,
God’s plan was not my plan. Prayer, fertility calendars, ovulation tests, checking body temperature, pregnancy tests, supplements, acupuncture, medical tests and procedures, more prayer…that was my plan. However, God had a different plan in mind and it taught me a very valuable lesson. I cannot control everything in my life and my diagnosis of infertility made that abundantly clear. All the acupuncture, fertility supplements and medical treatment that I could control and thought would change my diagnosis of infertility, well it didn’t. I had to release control; eventually I let go and let God. I am so grateful that I did and for every moment of my journey along God’s planned path into motherhood.”
Trust is a funny thing but trust that God does hear and Spring is near. No matter how long winter months can be, Hal Borland’s words ring true, “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” The answer may be unexpected and the way it comes may look very differently than what you envisioned. Sometimes, it may even initially be an answer we did not want to hear. I recently heard, “You can’t see the frame when you’re in the picture!” So true! Let the one who sees the whole picture lead the way for you into Spring…whatever that might be!
If Ashley’s story has touched you, please let her know in the comments below or email me a firstname.lastname@example.org.
Johnson, Cristal L. Spring is Here. 2016. Photograph. New Jersey.
Follow on Instagram @ cristalinaj.