God has you right where you are for a reason.
Though our circumstances may fluctuate and our locations may change, one thing is guaranteed: God wants to use us to love, serve, and share His hope with those around us.
For Ashley Rico, God has most recently used her in two specific areas of her life: as mom to her daughters and through her recent ownership of a local hair studio.
Last April, Ashley took a leap of faith and left the Claremont salon she had been working at for the opportunity to own her own salon in Upland. Before that time, owning her own business was not something she had imagined or wanted to pursue. However, after the opportunity presented itself and Ashley spent some time in prayer, she knew it was exactly where God wanted her.Looking back, Ashley can see how God was in the details from the very beginning, even down to the naming of her studio, Sheared in Strength, taken from Proverbs.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25
As part of our “For You” sermon series, Pastor Aaron recently shared how the places where we work are filled with opportunities to worship God as we love and serve others. Whatever our profession might be, whether it’s in the home or out of it, we can join with God in the work He is already doing.
“Our work can serve as an altar,” he said. “It is an important area where we bring our gifts, skills, and talents to offer up in service to God.”
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.” 1 Peter 4:10-11
Using her unique skillset as a hairdresser to serve others is something Ashley has felt called to do for a long time now; however, while working for other salon owners, she didn’t find herself with the ability to offer free services to people in need.
All that changed when she became owner of Sheared in Strength.
“Once I got my own studio, I knew God’s vision that He had put upon my heart so many years ago – to use the gift He gave me to bring Him glory and show Christ’s love to others – was finally going to become a reality,” Ashley explained.
While in the process of getting her youngest daughter dedicated here at Hillside, Ashley expressed to Children’s Director Cynthia Fluker her desire to give back through her hair salon to kids and youth in the foster care system.
“Foster and adoption has always been an area that has had a hold on my heart since I was a child,” Ashley said. “I believe fostering and adoption is such a beautiful depiction of God’s love and saving grace towards us through Jesus.”
Cynthia got Ashley connected with the Starfish Ministry, Hillside’s foster care and adoption ministry, and she soon knew exactly what God was calling her to do.
Ashley met with Jessica Ruiz, program director for the Boys Republic/Girls Republic, a local nonprofit organization that provides schooling and treatment for adolescent youth with behavioral, educational, and emotional difficulties, and offered her haircutting services for some of the girls in the program. Ashley joined fellow salon owners Gio Hernandez, from All About Me Studio, and Tiffany Fluckers, from Divine Appearance Studio for an afternoon of providing free hair treatments.
“I am extremely blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing group of God-honoring and loving studio owners that share the same heart and belief that God has given us the talent to use for His glory,” she said.
So, on Sunday, December 8, over the course of four and a half hours, Ashley, Gio and Tiffany spent some time loving and serving some of the youth in the Girls Republic program. As they sat in their chairs and shared their stories, Ashley found herself humbled and overcome with emotion at what God was doing in their lives.
“Some of the girls are in this program because of some bad choices,” she explained. “But to see how their hope has been restored – words can’t convey what that means. Jessica, Hillside and the Girls Republic all share a huge role in that, and the girls gladly expressed what a difference all three has made in their lives.”
For most people, a haircut is a convenience taken for granted; but on this day, for these girls, it provided a day of rare pampering, lots of laughter, and a reminder that they are seen, they are beautiful, and they are loved.
“The girls were so sweet, respectful and excited,” Ashley said. “It was like they were finally able to just be kids – listening to music, dancing, eating, laughing, getting pampered. The joy on their faces was amazing and the gratitude just beamed through their smiles.”
Jessica Ruiz said that on the day of the salon visit, the girls were really anxious and nervous about other people touching their hair. Most of them had never before had their hair done, and the thought of someone touching their hair made them very apprehensive. However, after meeting Ashley and the other hairdressers, and talking with them before the haircut, they were excited about the pampering that was ahead of them.
During their time at the salon, the girls bonded with Ashley, Gio and Tiffany, and left with a relationship that went even further than just that day – even going to the girls’ Christmas program, something that Jessica said means the world to at-risk youths and adolescents.
“These wonderful ladies not only served and used their gifts that day, but took an extra step in building relationships,” Jessica said. “That’s what this is all about. Building these relationships with people is so much more powerful, and it’s amazing what you can get and what you can give to somebody when you spend that extra time talking to them.”
Ashley said seeing the transformation of the girls – from being anxious when they walked into the salon to confident and full of joy at their Christmas recital – greatly impacted her on a personal level.
“God will guide us through anything, even when we are fearful,” she said. “He not only touches others’ hearts through the process, but our own as well.”
Proverbs 31 has taken on a new meaning to her now, as she has seen the beauty and dignity that came from these girls through just a little bit of love. Ashley hopes to continue using her skills as a hairdresser to serve others in the future, and she wants to encourage others to use their God-given gifts to show compassion, mercy and love to those around them.
“If God has placed something on your heart, keep praying and going for it,” Ashley said. “If your heart is willing, God will direct, lead, open the path, and make a way.”
SERVE WEEK OPPORTUNITY
We have TWO opportunities to serve the youth in the Boys Republic & Girls Republic this upcoming Serve Week!
• This Saturday, Feb. 22: Bless the young men in the Boys Republic by doing room makeovers in their home. This is a great opportunity to show them love through actions, and give them a little “home” away from home. You will be painting, and decorating the rooms.
• Saturday, March 7: Bring some joy to the ladies in the Girls Republic program by assisting with room makeovers and also doing some simple yard work. A little bit of help will make a huge difference in their lives!REGISTER NOW