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Recently I had the privilege of meeting Ashley Cellars. Ashley as a young lady spent much time with the Ms. Leesburg association. She was Ms. Teen Leesburg and Ms. Leesburg in the past. It is there that she met a woman by the name of Linda Watts. As a young lady Ashley learned from Ms. Watts the importance of giving back. Ms. Watts would bring the girls by the Christian Care Center and its many ministries to give back to their community.
As the years went by Ashley married her husband, Austin Cellars, and they were soon expecting their first child. They quickly found out it would be their first children since she was pregnant with twins. As the pregnancy moved along, the Cellars were heartbroken to find out that one of the twins named Adison was lost at 22 weeks. Ashley continued to carry both the babies until she went into labor at 30 weeks. She gave birth to Adison, who had stopped developing at 22 weeks, and also to her baby girl Emma. After only a month and one day, the Cellars lost their precious Emma. They wrestled with God as to why they had to go through such loss.
After six months, they were excited to find out they were expecting again. Nine months later, Ashley gave birth to a healthy girl named Hartley on May 8, 2015. They were filled with such gratitude of this blessing. They made a promise to one another, to God and to themselves that Hartley’s life had purpose and she would live it out. They wanted Hartley’s life to be lived in remembrance of her siblings, and for her to live a life giving back since she was given to them.
As Hartley’s 2nd birthday approached, Ashley remembered Ms. Watts and her teaching of giving back. She remembered the Christian Care Center and she remembered the Children’s Shelter. For Hartley’s 2nd birthday, she didn’t want others to bring gifts because she believed their family was truly blessed already. So instead she reached out to the Children’s Shelter and asked about our needs. In the invites for Hartley’s Birthday party, Ashley asked that people bring donations to help our children so they could feel the blessing that their family has felt. She felt this was a perfect way for Hartley to live out her purpose. Today she packed up her truck with cleaning supplies, paintings, picture frames, body washes and tons of other things that would meet our needs. To top it off, she brought a brand new 55-inch television to replace the Children’s Shelter’s broken TV. With all the physical donations she brought, I believe the most important thing received that day was love. Hartley got right in there with our children, bringing joy to everyone’s heart.
Even in heartbreak, God has ways for you to shine through and bring joy to others. Rather than give up on God, the Cellars trusted even more. Even though we might not understand why things had to happen the way they did, we know God works all things for those who love Him.
-Written by Jamie Scher, Director of our Children’s Shelter