“What I’ve come to learn over the years is that the Lord is no less good to us in times of immense sorrow than he is in times of intense joy. That is not in His character.” -Ashley Igo
What a powerful statement. Last month I introduced you to Ashley Jones in one of our favorite blog series we like to call “Stories of Hope.” Today, I want to introduce you to another RAD woman who has recently become a board member for my non-profit Friends of Bethany*. Her name is Ashley Igo. You won’t want to miss her incredible story, especially if you’ve ever questioned God during a terrible circumstance.
Ashley Jones and Ashley Igo are certainly “Unstoppable” and we can all learn from their grace and grit! Enjoy hearing and learning from Ashley Igo below…
Her Journey, Her Story – Meet Ashley Igo
“It’s been so amazing to look back and see how the Lord has provided me with loving support throughout my life,” shares Ashley Igo, amputee, Beautifully Flawed Retreat Leader, and Friends of Bethany Board Member. “When I lost my foot in a train accident at age 8, I was surrounded by classmates and families who loved and supported me, encouraging my recovery and healing rather than pitying my limb loss.”
What I’ve come to learn over the years is that the Lord is no less good to us in times of immense sorrow than he is in times of intense joy. That is not in His character. He was no less good to me the second that train crashed than he was to me on my wedding day.
Ashley’s remarkable journey of hope, healing, and faith began after a traumatic accident where the Amtrak train she was riding collided with a semi-truck. In that accident, Ashley lost her mother, two friends, a niece, and her right foot was amputated below the knee. Her story of recovery and healing from this event unfolded as she grew through adolescence and into adulthood, as did her faith journey.
“During this season of my life (from about 8-10 years old), I would not say that I was close to the Lord. You wouldn’t think that, because my script [to others] was, “All the girls are in Heaven,” “The Lord saved me from the accident,” etc. But my relationship with God was pretty distant. I do remember praying, but my faith was kind of a label and something that I heard others around me talking about, so I just repeated what they said. Granted, I was really young.”
And even as she healed physically, Ashley lived with a significant level of anxiety that would later be diagnosed as PTSD. “I heard people say that I was strong and a survivor, so I internalized that my behavior and emotions were in sync with that persona for years.” She persevered in uncovering and facing that pain through therapy and her growing faith as she matured.
I am thankful for both the good and the bad—but I’m not going to lie, it’s not always easy to be thankful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really hard sometimes.
Growing and Healing with God
“Growing up, I saw the Lord as the healer and the protector—as someone who let me survive an accident. But in college, I started to see my brokenness and my immense need for a savior. I learned that without the Lord’s grace, I wouldn’t even have all of this “strength” that I claimed to possess and that it is not weak to be sad, angry, or frustrated with the circumstances that we go through. It’s okay to mourn, just as Jesus did.”
Ashley’s life and work opened to even more healing and joy after she graduated from college, got married, and began pursuing her dream of becoming a therapist. “What I’ve come to learn over the years is that the Lord is no less good to us in times of immense sorrow than he is in times of intense joy. That is not in His character. He was no less good to me the second that train crashed than he was to me on my wedding day. In reflecting on my life and how the Lord has taught me and grown me in faith in Him, I am thankful for both the good and the bad—but I’m not going to lie, it’s not always easy to be thankful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really hard sometimes.”
This acceptance of her unique journey has led Ashley to a healthy place where gratitude and faith prevail. “I am thankful that I was in an accident that allows me to have a physical representation of the Lord’s goodness. I still want to stress, it’s okay for me to grieve my mom and the other girls dying in the wreck—that’s important psychologically. I am thankful that through this sorrow and pain, people around the country have been able to hear our story and see the goodness of how the Lord cares for his people when they face unfathomable trials.”
Ashley’s Journey with Friends of Bethany
The Friends of Bethany team has been so blessed to build a relationship with Ashley over the years and to witness her continued success since she attended her first Beautifully Flawed Retreat in 2014.
“I learned about Friends of Bethany through Lauren Scruggs Kennedy and Lisa Curlee in 2014. They both attended the first retreat and raved about what an amazing experience it was! I have attended as a retreat leader every year since.”
Ashley has also joined forces with Lauren and Lisa at the Lauren Scruggs Kennedy Foundation where she now serves as the Director. Their mission is to provide funding for girls and women to receive cosmetic silicone coverings for their prostheses, with the hope that they will experience both physical and spiritual restoration and healing. “I continue to be so excited and fulfilled by my work with The Lauren Scruggs Kennedy Foundation,” Ashley shares. “It’s such an honor to serve our recipients and walk in this journey with them.”
She has also fulfilled her goal of becoming a licensed mental health therapist specializing in play therapy and activity therapy for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma and physical injury. “I’ve thought a lot lately about how blessed I was to go to a school where I never once felt bullied or ostracized. That said, until I had a custom silicone prosthesis made, I got stares and questions wherever I went, and I quickly learned to use humor to defuse potentially awkward encounters.” Today, Ashley is working and serving clients in and around her home in Texas where she lives with her husband and family of rescue dogs and the newest member of her family, Peppa Pig.
God has, and continues to, put so many amazing people in my life– teachers, friends who are like family, prosthetists, mental health therapists, and women who are also amputees. The people I have met through Friends of Bethany are critical pieces in how I continue to heal and live life as an amputee, and I am so grateful for this family of support and encouragement.
The Significance of Limb Loss Awareness Month
Limb Loss Awareness Month* is also special to Ashley and she shares, “I love the sense of community this month brings to amputees across our world. From videos sharing about how to put your hair up with one arm to vulnerable discussions about the physical and mental health journeys amputees go through, this month is such a neat time to focus on connecting amputees through shared experiences.”
For amputees who may be facing challenges, Ashley shares a few recommendations as well. “I definitely encourage finding community. There are quite a few pitfalls of social media nowadays but connecting with those who share your experience is so comforting, and social media makes that possible in many ways. However, keep in mind that comparison is the thief of joy, even in the limb loss world. Also, check-in with your mental health and seek help when you need it. Physical, emotional and psychological healing doesn’t always follow the same timeline, and both are equally important.” And on a practical note, Ashley asks that anyone traveling with an amputee to, “Be patient if you’re traveling with us through TSA… it takes a while :)”
Friends of Bethany has been honored to welcome Ashley to our Board of Directors in 2020 and to see her journey from Beautifully Flawed attendee to taking a leadership role in our organization. She reminds us that “through our brokenness, the Lord reveals his goodness, and it’s all in His perfect timing.”
And she is just a RAD human to be around!!!!
p.s. This was reposted from www.friendsofbethany.com
*Last month (April) was Limb Loss Awareness Month. My nonprofit, Friends of Bethany, is thrilled that organizations and people across the world honor and celebrate this important topic. For the last 10 years, this special month has been raising the visibility of amputation, amputees, and the resources and programs serving them.
Friends of Bethany’s mission is to provide amputees and people born with a limb difference the hope, resources, and inspiration to overcome. Through our programs, retreats, and care packages, we are building a community that supports one another and reaches out to more and more people each year.