I met Ashleigh through blogging and learned that she started out like many of us- a woman with a career path all laid out before her. She decided on a different path and has found a way to add increased purpose to her precious life. I'm going to be quiet now and let her tell you the rest.
Thank you, Ashleigh, for sharing your story with us.
Tell us your story (a little about yourself, your family, and how you spend your time).
I am a 25-year-old wife, full-time mom, praise and worship leader, and jewelry designer. I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Bill, for 5 years. My son, Liam, is 18 months old and the most amazing gift I’ve ever received. I am extremely passionate about worshiping God and leading others into His presence.
Long before Liam came along Bill and I decided that when we had children I would leave the corporate world and stay at home. Just two years into my career I had Liam. My decision to walk away from the job was shocking to some; they simply could not understand why I would throw such a promising future away. There was no changing my mind - raising Liam full-time was something I had dreamed about since I was a little girl.
Once I made it to this “dream world” I had always hoped for I realized that in between the kisses, giggles, and moments of pure bliss there were also moments of being completely bored mentally. I needed to think about something, solve a problem, fix something for someone, something, anything to get my mind working again. And trust me dishes and laundry weren’t cutting it!
How and why did you begin making jewelry?
Oh and then there was also that part about our income dropping significantly. The income dive didn’t affect our bare living expenses, however, in the past if I wanted to help someone in need financially I had the freedom to do it. I could put extra money into the offering when a missionary came to town or if there was a need. I didn’t have the money to do this anymore and that was a tough thought for me. I didn’t want to leave Liam so I had to figure out something I could do from home.
I had started making jewelry here and there a few years before Liam was born. It really was my favorite way to relieve stress and just escape from the pressures of life. So I picked up my tools again and started creating. It was a great fit – Liam napped a couple times a day and I would make jewelry. The more I made the more people seemed to want it. Friends and family started encouraging me to start selling my work.
What made you decide to donate all of the proceeds from your sales?
About the same time, my husband was going on a mission’s trip to an orphanage in Mexico. We had visited the same orphanage a couple years prior, but I wasn’t able to go because Liam was so young. I wanted to help in some way. I knew that these kids had nothing in comparison to what I had. I decided I would donate whatever money I made from selling jewelry.
I started out with a small table in the back of a women’s conference. I sold most of what I had and that got me pretty excited. I realized that there was something I could do to help others even though I wasn’t working outside my home. Now, I sell on etsy (Sela Designs), through my Facebook page, and in-home shows. The best part is that I can donate 100% of my profit to missions.
What charities do you support and how do you decide which charities to donate to?
I currently support Eagles’ Nest Orphanage in Soto La Marina, MX (www.wileyministries.org). Choosing to support this ministry was very easy for me because I have been there. I have played with the children and know that every penny sent there is used wisely. I also know the missionaries, how faithful they are to God, and their vision is to help people who are hurting. Currently, this is the only mission I support but I cannot wait to add more and more to the list.
What role did your faith play in your decision to give away all your profits?
Being a Christian has everything to do with who I am and why I give. Anything good in me is only because of who God is through me and what He has done for me. I believe that loving God means loving people, not just in word but also in deed. The Bible says that the world will know that we are Christians by our love for one another and by our fruit. I want the world to see that I serve a loving, gracious, and generous God.
How has this giving affected you?
I come from a family of givers; I’ve never known anything else. Giving is a joy. It’s exciting to be able to give and bless others. I think there is a freedom that comes into your life when you learn to give because the truth is that it’s all God’s anyway we are only stewards. Money is a tool to reach the lost.
What would you like to say to someone who is considering doing something similar?
Go for it! Make a decision and don’t turn back! It’s amazing to see what God can do when we open our hands and give. The Bible says “Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” That’s exciting because then you’ll have more to give. Be faithful with little and you will be given much!
To learn more about Eagle's Nest Orphanage including how you can support them and view their needs list, go here.
To read previous Giving of Ourselves Interviews, click here and scroll down for links.