God uses everything. This is my story.


Many times in my life, I have stopped to just ponder the power and impact of my life. Am I making a ripple in this world? Am I using the most of my God given talents? Is my life worth something? These are questions that I believe we ALL face at some point in our lives. We are left to question those things that are so much BIGGER than we are, especially when we have grown up with past pain or turmoil.

If you ever question the worth of your life, if you ever question your value, if you ever question ‘bigger’ things, this post is for YOU. This is my story.

As a young girl, I struggled so much. At a young age my Mother was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. My brothers and I were removed from her care at a young age & put into Foster care while our families battled for custody. I remember being this little girl and feeling so scared and terrified. I was ripped away from my Mother and at such a young age, I suddenly started to take on the role of the ‘protective’ older sibling trying to keep my brothers safe, particularly the one brother I was paired with.

At a time in my life where I should have been concerned with little more than what my dolls should wear, I was facing some of the biggest most traumatic events of my little world. These events would shape my decisions and my view of myself for years to come.

I got used to ‘strangers’ as my new norm. I wasn’t fortunate to get good foster homes during that time. I recount one time as a little girl of about 6 years old, walking out to the front porch where the foster Dad liked to spend time. He had a mouth full of “something” and in my curiosity, I asked what it was. He proceeded to give me the biggest wad of tobacco to put into my little mouth encouraging me to try it myself. I will never forget spitting it out and the awful taste that clung to my mouth as he chuckled on.

Another time, I was switched severely for playing in the ditch next to the house. I just wanted to be outside and keep my mind free from the ‘adult’ world I was thrown into. I was switched all over my arms, legs and hands. To this day, I have little scars all over that serve as reminder of this occurrence which happened often.

My Father finally won the custody battle and I remember feeling so happy that my little heart could burst! I loved him so much and only wanted to be with him. I had developed such a deep sense of abandonment during those years and it would not rear it’s ugly head until much later in my life. For that moment, I was just happy to be back to my family. The loss of my Mother was something that would pain me for the next 20+ years of my life in a big way.

After winning custody, my father needed a lot of help with my brothers and I and the decision was made for me to go and live with an Aunt & Uncle. I would again put on my ‘brave’ face and board the plane for another state at 8 years old leaving behind my dad and brothers. The only thing that gave me the courage to do this was the excitement of having a ‘mom’. I thought my Aunt would be the Mom that was ripped away from me. I will never forget sitting down in my seat, looking to the man sitting next to me and saying “I’m going to have a Mom!”
I found out quickly that things wouldn’t be as I had hoped. My Uncle travelled so much and was rarely home with the exception of weekends (which I learned to live for). My Aunt was a strict disciplinarian and she herself was raised in a boarding home. For the next 4 years of my life I would live through extreme discipline and abuse. Everything from waking me up with ice water poured on my face to eating dog food as punishment for spilling it and every crazy thing in between.  As things progressively got worse, my little heart couldn’t take it and I moved back to FL to live with my grandparents at the age of 12.

I lived with my grandparents from 12-16 years old. For the next four years, I would suffer silently from my grandfathers ‘sex addiction’. One morning before school, at the age of 16, these advances would further & he crossed the line to touch me. I left home that day and never returned. They put me back into foster care and I was there until I aged out at 18. Given that I was taught what you must do to “keep a boy” and how I was encouraged to become sexually promiscuous, it was no surprise that during my time in foster care I ended up getting pregnant and hid my pregnancy for 6 months before I aged out.

Shortly after turning 18, I gave birth to the most beautiful little girl and made the decision to give her up for adoption. Despite my desire to keep her, I wanted her to have so much more than I did. It proved to be the most difficult and life changing moment for me. I remember one night sobbing uncontrollably after giving her up and just feeling as if my heart would split in two. It truly felt like my heart was literally breaking.

Despite ALL of this, I knew that I was loved and that these circumstances were not always chosen (by myself or by my family) but there were the circumstances nonetheless. At the young age of 18, I felt like my life wasn’t worth much. I had such thick layers of abandonment that had gradually built up so strongly within the walls of my heart than I ever could have imagined. I had such deep wounds and so much pain. I shoved it down as far as I possibly could and moved forward.That is one thing I knew how to do well. If only I knew how everything would always find a way to the surface.

I had no clue what my life purpose was much less how much my life was worth. I went on for YEARS like this. Moving forward pursuing careers, money, wealth, status and anything else that I could possibly pursue to make me feel more ‘worthy’ …. more IMPORTANT. Yet, nothing did. Nothing could fill this emptiness in the depths of my soul. Nothing could satisfy this quenching thirst within me.

I always say, I went through so much in life that God chose to bless me with a man more amazing than anything I could have ever hoped for or dreamed of. I met Alex in late 2004 and we married on March 31st, 2007. I married this amazing man with so much love in my heart. I never could have imagined that I would ever hurt him as deeply as I would or that God would show His ‘unconditional love’ for me through this man, in the way that He would.
It wasn’t until years into my marriage to my husband that all of this ugly mess would resurface. You see, no matter how much I ignored it, it was still there. It only came out when I finally felt safe, accepted and comfortable. Together, Alex and I would walk along this road to healing together. He would help me mend and he would forgive me for the wounds I would cause him, very deep wounds at that. He easily could have walked away but he stayed. God taught me more through Alex’s actions than anything else in my life. He displayed His unconditional love through this man. He displayed His forgiveness for me and His pursuance of me. He displayed these things in a form I could touch and way that I could see.

God showed me that my life was worth something. I was worth something. Every single thing I ever lived through would be used. Not one tear, not one experience, not ONE single painful moment would go to waste.

Today, I am able to move forward healed and whole in complete reconciliation with my family, those who hurt me and to say that I have honestly forgiven each one. I went on to have a closer relationship with my Grandfather in the end of his life than anyone would ever be able to understand. He opened up to me and shared things that were beyond comprehension that he himself lived through as a little boy of only 8 years old. It didn’t make what happened right but it gave me some clarity and compassion as to his own deep rooted pain and dysfunction.

I was able to confront the pain my Aunt caused me and forgive her. Today, we have a relationship and I am able to reflect on all of the good things rather than those hurtful moments that once defined me.

God did not waste one single little moment of my life. My message to you is this: let God HEAL you. Let Him use you. Let Him show you the great worth of your life. Today, I am able to have a greater mercy, compassion and love for people than I ever could have imagined possible because I allowed God to heal my hurts and I chose to believe that I was worthy of His great love.

I have a marriage that is rooted in love, acceptance, compassion and understanding. I praise God each and every day for the gift of my husband. A man who was willing to humble himself and to let God use him during a time he could have run far far away. Alex put away ‘self’ so that I could heal.

As I close, I encourage you to read the Chapter of Psalm 139. This says it all. You are chosen. You are loved. You are capable. You are an heir of the Most High King & this is pretty amazing.

God Bless,

Ashley

12289724_486773368163732_6445919185356813468_n

One of my favorite Corrie Ten Boom quotes.

10372797_282053135302424_8431237346019573092_nThe only time both my parents and my brothers were together in a room since we were removed all of those years ago. Such a joyous and very meaningful time. Our Mother had a great time. 😉

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My Grandparents on their wedding day.

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Alex & I on our wedding day. March 31st, 2007.

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2 thoughts on “God uses everything. This is my story.

  1. Joan Page says:

    Ashley, It was so good to meet up with you this morning & your story here touched my heart deeply. Thank you for sharing so transparently, as I know your journey will impact positively many who are challenged by their life circumstances. You are so right. God is good all the time.
    Be Blessed,
    Joan

    • Ashley Poptodorova says:

      Joan,
      Thank you for your kindness and genuine heart. You are amazing and I am so thankful God connected us. I too enjoyed reading your blog at Joanwpage.com and love your heart for The Lord and how you share so openly. It is amazing how much He can teach us when we are paying attention. There are lessons in everything and every situation. I am thankful for our connection and I look forward to seeing all that God has in store. Hugs to you and thanks for reading. 🙂
      Have a blessed day!
      Ash

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