Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ashley's Story

The vision of Mountaintop Church is to be a community where we are learning and sharing a better way to live.  

We are convinced that only Jesus offers that better way and a way to live forever.  The simple truth is that life is better with Jesus and Jesus makes us better at life!

This Sunday we are celebrating the baptisms of six individuals who are embracing that better way to live.  Each one has a story of a life transformed by the love of Jesus Christ and each one is a reminder of what can happen when we share what we are learning.  

I’ve had the privilege of reading through their testimonies and asked the permission of one those being baptized, Ashley, if I could post her story here so that I could share it with all of you.  

A backstory to Ashley's story is that of Henry, a 7-year-old whose family are members at Mountaintop.  Last year Henry began to invite his friends, Harper and Lake, to come and join us for Vacation Bible School and Punk Your Trunk.  Their family accepted the invitations and when they came discovered the people they met here to be “nice and normal.”  In December those invitations led to the family joining us at Mountaintop on a Sunday morning, and this Sunday I will have to joy of baptizing Harper and Lake’s mom, who by now you've figured out is Ashley.  With Ashley’s permission (and Henry’s mom’s permission) here’s her testimony.  As you read this remember the role that a 7-year-old played by inviting his friends to VBS and Punk Your Trunk!

Ashley’s Story

My name is Ashley and I have been attending Mountaintop Community Church since December 2013. A little about me…

I am almost 31 years of age.
I am a wife to my wonderful husband and best friend for almost 7 years.
I am a mother to our 7-year-old daughter, Harper & to our 5-year-old son, Lake.
I am a hard worker in the multi-family industry when I handle advertising and marketing for apartment communities as well as serve on the committees for the Alabama Apartment Association.
I am a volunteer with The King’s Home.
I am a sister to my younger siblings, Blake & Brittany, 22 years old.

I am what my friends call a “bohemian.” I was raised “differently” and have somewhat just floated through life looking for something, when it was in front of me the entire time.  Here is a short version of my life in a nutshell.

I was born in Tuscaloosa.  I have an amazing extended family, but God gave me my parents for a reason.  My parents were alcoholics…hiding wine through the house, fighting, DHR visits, police visits, locking me outside at an extremely young age; my mom was also addicted to narcotics.  My dad was a hard worker by trade of maintenance, HVAC, Electrician, you name it.  My mom was a RN who later lost her job when I was around 13 due to forging prescriptions for her own use.

When I was 14 years old is when I started a vicious path of destruction.  My younger brother and sister were 6 at the time.  My mom was not watching and my sister was struck by a speeding car in our neighborhood.  The driver was a doctor’s wife with her 5-year-old son in the car as well.  Everything stopped. I ran outside and saw my brother holding her then I called 911.  She spent the next 9 months in Children’s Hospital in Birmingham hooked up to life support.  There was no brain activity so my parents made the decision to pull her off life support.  We were at the hospital with our entire family and a preacher.  As we sat around the bed the monitor started to beep…this was the first real miracle I had ever witnessed.  She was back!  She then went through many surgeries and therapy to learn to crawl, walk, talk, everything again.  She is now 22 and lives with her father who is amazing.  She is able to help around the house, but will never be able to live alone, drive a car or do some normal things that we take for granted. She is an angel, God kept her here for a reason.

When Brittany was released my parents drugged us all to court.  My father had filed for a divorce and claimed that I, nor my younger brother & sister were his.  We took paternity test.  I was my dad’s daughter, but my mom had had an ongoing affair and my brother & sister had a different father.  My dad would get drunk and yell that I wasn’t his daughter my whole younger life and then at 14 I saw why. 

While Brittany was in the hospital, in a different town, everyone forgot about me.  I was in 9th grade and went to school when I was home, but missed so much school that the board of education said it was not excusable and I needed to repeat the 9th grade.  I was in all accelerated classes.  Straight A’s, played sports…this didn’t make sense.  It happened so fast, but I ended up dropping out by age 15 and started walking to Shelton State Community College for GED Classes.  I tested extremely high and was allowed to take my GED and “walk” on my 16th birthday.  At least I had a “piece of paper” but I missed out on some really important High School memories.

By 16 my dad had moved out.  My mom was bad on drugs.  I hopped on the bandwagon of being what I was around.  I got a job as a hostess, got older friends; I started doing drugs, sleeping on friend’s couches and in my car that I bought for $500 from a friend. Just a blur… At 18 my mom lost the house to foreclosure and lost all of my material possessions, baby items, etc. My virginity was stolen from me due to rape.  I attempted suicide twice. I ended up getting arrested for drugs and spent 2 months in jail.  No one in my family knew.  I see now that it saved my life. 

At 19 I started actual college and worked.  I attended Shelton State and then The University of Alabama.  I never actually finished but learned a lot until my grant money ran out.  I then moved around to Gulf Shores, Orlando and back to Tuscaloosa and went back to UA for Business Law, started leasing apartments while in school and fell in love with the multi-family industry.

At 23 I found myself pregnant, alone and scared.  This is my second miracle I have witnessed.  Harper, my beautiful daughter came into my life and I met my now husband who adopted her when she was a baby.  We bought a house and then welcomed our son into the world.  From 25-28 my husband gave up his career to be a stay at home dad and focus on my career path.  We moved to Houston, Birmingham, Memphis and then back to Birmingham with my company.  Now we are here and I switched career paths to give my children the childhood they deserve with stability, friendships and now our newfound faith.

Over these past few years my dad has passed on.  He found God, he found sobriety, He asked me for forgiveness and then in a blink of an eye he was gone in a car accident. 

I also had an older brother that my mom “gave up” when I was 4.  He and I were close as I became a teenager.  He spent 8 years in jail because of drugs in New Orleans.  He then got out and was sober, but relapsed and passed on 3 years ago due to an overdose.

My mom…is still addicted.  We have sent her to rehabs and have tried to help, but she doesn’t believe she has a problem.  This is where my new faith has played the largest role.  I have spent the majority of my life thinking I was a horrible daughter. 

My first service at Mountaintop was in December.  I sat there and listened and I swear Pastor Doug was speaking directly to me.  I had not been to any church but twice in over 15 years…I was scared to even be there, but I was in tears.  They were good tears.  Something stirred in me.  I am here; I am on this earth for a reason!

After Christmas I gave my troubles to God.  I pray daily for my mother, but I just now see that I can give it over to him and what will be will be.  Since attending Mountaintop Church I feel like a better version of myself.  I believe that Jesus is the Son of God…God sent his son to die for us!  How amazing is that?  I could not imagine being a mom myself.  I asked God into my heart for the first time in my life just 3 weeks ago in the First Steps Class.  I am overjoyed with excitement about my life and that my “hole” in my heart is now overflowing for the first time.  My walls are coming down; I cannot help everyone nor carry their burdens any longer.  But God can.

My future is my little family, our spiritual growth and development together.  For the first time in my 30 years of life I finally do not feel “lost” …I have a purpose, I have a reason and that reason is to be a Christian and to spread the word with my family.



Thursday, February 20, 2014


In God We Trust

It’s printed on our currency.  In God we trust, but it seems in others, maybe not so much – at least according to a recent Gallup poll.  The poll last December asked a simple question:

How would you rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these professions – very high, high, average, low or very low?

It turns out nurses are the most trustworthy; 82% of those polled gave high or very high marks to nurses.  Pharmacists (70%) and grade school teachers (70%) also did well.  Military officers (69%) and medical doctors (69%) were close (interesting that doctors are 13% lower than nurses).  After that the numbers begin to drop.

Only 47% rated the honesty and ethical standards of pastors as high or very high (so 53% of you may want to verify the statistics I am referencing).  Day Care providers polled at 46% (and yet we leave our kids with them).  Judges received a 45% sentence.  Auto mechanics polled at only 29% (they have images to repair).

At the bottom of the professions, some that might be expected and a few surprises: Lawyers and TV reporters (20%), car salespeople (9%) and members of Congress (8%).

Trust evidently does not come easy for many of us – and when we are really honest it’s not always easy to trust God.  That’s the question we will be exploring this Sunday at Mountaintop.  How can we trust God in times of pain and suffering?

Trusting God in the darkness – when we have every reason not to – is possible when we understand something very much at the heart of God.  That’s what we will be learning and sharing on Sunday as we continue our study of Job:  Why Is God Mad At Me?.  Join us!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Which Poorly Taxidermied Animal Are You?

Thank you BUZZ FEED

If you are on Facebook (and my guess is that you are) perhaps your Facebook Friends are doing what it seems all mine are doing and finding out who they really are – or at least who they should be.

Thanks to Buzz Feed Quizzes (I made that a link so you can check this out for yourself) finding your true identity doesn’t require a great deal of refection – instead simply take one of the “who knows how many” online quizzes and find the answer to:

What Kind of Tattoo You Should Get? Evidently I should get sleeves, aka ALL THE TATTOOS. Which Poorly Taxidermied Animal Are You?  I just couldn’t convince myself to take this quiz, or this one: Which Spice Girl Are You? 

But I did discover that the state I really should live in is Pennsylvania – which is odd because the city I am supposed to live in is Portland.  For a career I should be a writer.  If I were a dog I’d be a Great Dane.  If I were in a classic rock band it would be Led Zeppelin.  Mushu is my best Disney friend.  My parenting style is effortlessly cool and the musical I should star in is Oklahoma (which really upset me because I wanted Pippin or Wicked).

The popularity of these quizzes does make me wonder if this is all just a little fun distraction (which it can be) or if it’s a sign of a deeper hunger to know who we really are.  Have we become so confused about our identity that we will try everything – including a quiz to find out: Which Vladimir Putin Are You?

It also makes me wonder what might happen if we spent less time taking Buzz Feed quizzes on who, what and where we should be, do and live and more time simply being, doing and living where we are.   But first I need to spend some time reflecting on the fact that when I took the quiz on Which Font Are You? My answer came out: Futura.  I always saw myself as Optima.