What Our Friend Ashley Taught Me

By Todd Hill

A few years ago, our family decided to join the Fort Washington Swim Club.  Little did I know at the time that it would change my life.  During that summer, a group of NLD families who were also members at “The Fort” decided we would try to form a home group.  We were all in the same season of life, desperately trying to figure out how to parent teens and pre-teens while keeping up with their frantic schedules.

One of the families that was part of our hodge-podge group was the Frearson family.  During that summer, sitting on the sweaty lawn chairs around the pool, Ashley shared bits and pieces of her story as she navigated a cancer diagnosis.  I remember having the thought at the time that I did not know where our relationship with Ashley would lead as she navigated this life-threatening disease.  I know now that God was very gracious to allow my wife and I to sit and learn from Ashley over the past three years.

As we sat in each other’s living rooms and talked about life while studying God’s Word together, these are some of the lessons that I learned from Ashley:

Don’t waste time on lesser things, when God’s Word is what we really need.  Ashley always wanted to study Scripture instead of something that might feel like the next trendy small-group tool.  She literally found life in the pages of Scripture.

Don’t waste energy being fearful in sharing my faith.  Once when I articulated my fear of others when it came to witnessing, Ashley graciously chuckled and said that she no longer wasted energy fearing man because she had nothing to lose anymore.

Don’t waste spiritual energy pretending with God.  I walked away from home group one night knowing we had been on holy ground.  Ashley shared with us that evening that as she struggled with daily pain and discouragement in her battle with cancer, many times she could not sing the worship songs at church because she did not feel like she could honestly talk about God’s comfort and care for her.  However, as Ashley spoke of these things, she spoke of her discussions with God about her questions and struggles, and it was as if we were sitting at the feet of Moses or David.  She had such a friendship with God that she could speak with the Holy One and share her doubts, fears, and questions and honor Him in her conversation with Him.  I wanted her faith to be able to interact with God with such raw, childlike faith.

As I write, I realize there are so many more things that I could share that I learned from Ashley.  I now see that God’s plan for my family, beyond cannonballs and ice cream at the swim club, included a friendship that would shape my view of a loving God through a faithful woman.  Thank you God for our friend Ashley.