About Ms. Ashley
first, you should know that i capitalize nothing when i write (other than names of God, Jesus, etc..). this sometimes gets me in hot water for looking unprofessional, but i’m a rebellious artist...my apologies if it’s distracting..feel free to stop reading this at any time. i promise, i won’t be offended.
i am a pennsylvania country girl. i grew up in a little bible church on a dirt road, where my adolescent and teenage social life consisted of awana and youth group. i know all the books of the bible by heart, rock at “sword drills” and remember every song that my sunday school teacher, ms. julianne taught me. she was my first worship leader.
i have loved Jesus since i was 6 years old. i simply laid awake in my bed one night and asked Him to make Himself at home in my heart. sometimes i wish i had a more dramatic, glamorous coming-of-faith story, but when i look at all the things i’ve experienced in life, i can’t imagine what it would look like without Him there with me the whole time...and i wouldn’t relive a moment of it without Him.
i’ve been serving in a church community since i was a child. i started off singing for church services, helped my mom teach a pre-school sunday school class for years, then transitioned into our local youth group where my faith was fostered and discipled and given opportunity to grow.
as a teen, i was a leader in my youth group and a vocalist/pianist on sunday mornings for our church congregation. i spent my summers on mission trips, traveling not only in the u.s. coast to coast, but also to the bahamas, iceland, scotland, ireland, fiji and australia. raising funds for these trips not only developed my own work ethic, but it also made me a complete sucker for any student that ever comes to my door, trying to raise money for anything. i’ve been there, kid. i feel your pain. here’s $5.
when i entered college, i had no clue what i wanted to do. frankly, i didn’t think i was good at anything else, so i attended edinboro state university of pennsylvania (on scholarship surprisingly) for music education with a concentration in piano and voice. the years i spent at college made me a disciplined musician, but i knew that the world of classical music training and pedagogy was not for me.
i moved to south florida in the summer of 2002 and shortly after joined the arts team of a large church in boca raton. i spent seven years volunteering there as pianist, vocalist, band leader and worship leader. i also took a staff position for two years as pianist at another south florida church, have lead worship and spoken at various women’s events and retreats, taught elementary and middle school chorus at a local private school for two years and have for the past 13 years, taught private piano and voice lessons in the area, maintaining a consistent studio of 30-40 students per week.
in 2010, i came on staff at hammock street church as worship leader and have been home here ever since. i believe that we all have been created to worship, but i also believe that we’ve been created to worship in different ways. i constantly look to create opportunities for people to truly connect with God. some worship through stewardship while others connect to God by learning more about Him; some worship through serving others, and others by simply being outside enjoying nature...and yes, some, but not all, worship through the arts.
i believe that music in church isn’t there just “because that’s what we’ve always done”..but rather that music, and art in general, offers a way to articulate what we want to say to God. it also acts as a memory tool, so you can take the words with you when you leave and head into your week.
i believe that our musicians here at hammock street are no more important than our nursery workers, greeters or even those who serve the church by tithing. our job, as an arts team is to serve God by serving our community, our congregation and each other. a “successful” sunday for me isn’t found in perfection or production; it’s when we simply get to have a conversation with God.
in the moments that i’m not brainstorming worship opportunities, teaching or rehearsing, i enjoy paddleboarding, re-purposing junk i find on the side of the road, surfing pinterest and spending time with my two dogs, murphy and eleanor rigby. i’m also completing my first original album “that’s the story”, which will be released by the end of 2015.
so welcome to hammock street! come find me on a sunday. introduce yourself. tell me how you worship and we’ll find an opportunity for you.
real. community. life.