Ashley Cleveland grew up in a performance culture in Nashville, even though her parents were not on stage. On the surface, everything looks good and polish on the outside, but underneath it was a family with problems. Ashley's parents were both alcoholics. Growing up, she knew things were wrong, but she didn't know what it was.
Ashley's father was gay and the marriage fell apart fairly early. Her mother went to work and got relocated to Northern California. That was a culture shock for Ashley - she didn't know how to navigate through the lifestyle there.
Ashely discovered music just like any other child, through listening to radio and records. She started playing in the church and received a lot of positive feedback from the adults. This is a big thing for her because outside of music, she was acting out and most adults have a lot of negative things to say to her.
The world of the rock-stars was far away from her. She was only playing in small bars and pubs, talking her way in even though she was only 16. By the time she was working in the industry, she was already a full-blown alcoholic and drug addict.
Addicts have a very small worldview - only thinking about themselves, how they can control their addictions and survive. They have an idea that there is a "secret key" that they can find to unlock the mystery of how they can manage the addictions; that one day, they can open up the door that will bring them to a place where they can enjoy and control their intake.
This basically describes how Ashley was living. She lived her whole life trying to prove that she can do that but failing miserably all the time.
Music was the one thing that she felt gave her the sense that she has something to offer to the world. Even though her addictions often cause her performance to suffer, it still gave her the sense of purpose. She knew that it was a talent that God had given her.
This powerful memoir from Ashley reminds us that even in the lowest times of our lives, beauty can shine through. In her destructive days of drugs, alcohol, and sex, she encountered a forgiving God who was relentlessly faithful.
Change did not come quickly. The brokenness did not disappear. But little by little, Ashley allowed God to heal her, to transform her desires, to bring courage to others through her journey. Little by little, she saw that it was her brokenness itself that God wanted to use.
Over time, she understood that wholeness belongs to eternity, and staying broken is how she can be kept on her knees. Her goal is to stay tied to the Lord and to be of service to the world. That is the only way that she can have empathy and love for other people.
For a copy of Ashley's book, Little Black Sheep, please visit the Crossroads eStore. Let's hear what she has to say about her book.