Ashlynn Nicole Bailey was born on April 21st 1995 to the proud parents of Mike and Deborah Bailey. She was a beautiful blue-eyed baby girl, tiny yet mighty. She had to stay in the neonatal step down unit after she was born because she had to be treated for pneumonia after aspirating during the delivery process. She was a fighter and strong during the healing process. She had to stay in the hospital for 7 days before we got to bring our baby home. She was our first child and the first grandchild on both sides of our family. We all immediately fell in love with her!
We had to be careful with Ashlynn being around other people initially after her birth due to her having pneumonia; but as soon as she was able to attend church, we had her there. She was dedicated about 8 months of age in our church’s parent-baby dedication ceremony. She grew up in the church, learned about God, and became a Christian at an early age- just after the 9/11 event that forever changed our peaceful world here in America. She loved God and had a real anointing for leading others to Christ. She felt that everyone needed to go to Heaven. She led several of her friends to Christ.
Ashlynn loved people, adventures, having fun and celebrating life. She was spirited and never wanted to miss out on anything. Ashlynn’s main struggle as a young toddler and child was handling her anger. She was usually happy, but man when she got upset, she was UPSET! She was nearly impossible to console once she reached this point and would have to just calm herself down in her room alone. I mentioned this aspect because it is important later in her life story.
Ashlynn loved school, but had a few misfortunate events early in life that created a personal wound to her soul. She was a tiny little girl, much smaller than most children her age (but not much different than how her mom was as a baby and child). During her first few days of public kindergarten, she was ridiculed for being too short. Girls would not let her in their club because she was too small to be in school. She came home heartbroken and so were her mom and dad. We parented her through this the best way we knew how. But, unfortunately she would continue to be labeled as “short”; “tiny”; “little” even throughout high school.
Ashlynn always wanted to be a cheerleader since she was about 7 years old. She took dance lessons and gymnastics to help prepare her. She began working on her cheerleading skills when she was in the 6th grade. In 7th grade she tried out for middle school cheerleader and made it! We remember her crying tears of joy when she found out she had made the team-she could not believe it. As parents, we thought that this would help bring her the confidence she needed to overcome the low self esteem she had developed over being so little. Ashlynn continued to cheer through her sophomore year in high school and was also on a competitive cheer team as well during those middle school and high school years.
During this time, she was still kidded about being little, but she had begun to learn coping mechanisms to handle what she was feeling inside. She began to build up a tough outer exterior but on the inside I think it still crushed her. Ashlynn loved her cheering and you could not keep her away from practice! Once she was in high school, she had decided she might even like to pursue cheering in college. A wonderful, sweet coach she had at the competitive team had found a way to encourage her with her size because most college cheerleaders need to be small as they are “flyers”.
During Ashlynn’s freshman year in high school, things began to slowly change with her. Her friends began to change; her grades began to gradually decline from being a straight A student to As-Bs and eventually a C here or there; her desire to cheer and attend practice decreased. As parents, we suspected possible drug use; but we could never find evidence. We prayed for God to reveal the Truth to us…and He did in 2 ways. First, I (mom) awakened from a deep sleep one night to the sound of God’s voice saying, “Your child is doing drugs”. Secondly, a few days following that she got drug tested at school and came home upset that she was going to fail. Initially, she told us that it was her first time of trying “weed”. Later we came to find out that she had been experimenting previously as well. We truly believe that in trying weed she was simply trying to fit in…trying to show others that she was “big enough”. We think the weed made her feel euphoric and like she was in control. We think it made her feel like she had no pain and no anger. The weed would just be the beginning…
Needless to say, as much as we tried to stay on top of things as parents with this situation, things spiraled out of control. It was simply an awful, gut-wrenching experience! She decided to quit cheerleading by the end of her sophomore year, her grades were plummeting; she and her friends were constantly in trouble; some of her good friends were beginning to push away from her; her anger and mood swings were beyond manageable; phone calls from the police and arrests were made…just one thing after another happened. She never got to graduate from high school because she had to be sent to a rehab the last 2 months of her senior year. She did well in this rehab program, came home and was able to take her GRE and go to college for a brief time. Yet again the demon of drug addiction struck her again.
Through counseling sessions at the first rehab, we learned that Ashlynn had a terrible misfortune happen to her personally during high school and she just could never get over it. She would use drugs to hide her pain and her self- hate. She had used most every kind of drug, but the hook line and sinker was her drug of choice-HEROIN! It is a very difficult drug to rehab from especially in a true addicts brain. Looking back at Ashlynn’s life and her personality, we truly believe that she had addictive tendencies all along and it took one time of the right drug for her to be ever hooked on it and the constant craving of that first experience with heroin. As we look back, we believe the devil used the drugs to devour Ashlynn because the devil knew she would be a great Christian warrior. She was a threat to him and he went after her with a vengeance. As a family, we claimed the verse Jeremiah 29: 11 over her life and our life: “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” We were going to hold onto God’s word not matter what the devil was throwing at us.
Over the course of several more years, Ashlynn was in and out of various rehabs. She would have brief moments of victory over her addiction. She even tried to start school again at a junior college. Ashlynn so wanted a better life for herself. She wanted to pursue a career that would help others, but the demon of addiction would eventually win out. She thought she had ruined her life forever and just could not seem to ever figure out how to start over. Ashlynn did not want to be an addict and she would often state she wished she had never ever tried drugs. She prayed and prayed for the addiction to be taken away. She wanted to be healed instantly from the addiction! Ashlynn was under much prayer all during these tumultuous years. God was reaching out to Ashlynn in many ways, but she could not see it, because she was believing the devil’s lies. Ashlynn eventually got into a really dark place for a Christian to be in…we think she felt that her life was hopeless and that she would never be healed of the disease…we think she felt that God had given up on her…exactly what the devil wanted her to believe.
On the night of January 30, 2016, Ashlynn went to buy drugs again. She was going to use heroin again so she thought. She bought the drug and used and never woke up. We later found out that the drug was Fentanyl. The dose she would take for her normal heroin hit would be a deadly dose amount with this drug that is being sold by dealers as heroin. She went to be her Lord and Savior that night. She was healed instantly and in the loving arms of her Heavenly Father-NEVER to feel pain, sadness, regret, abandonment EVER again!
The entire family misses her immensely! We wish that things could have been different. But God stepped in and healed her and healed us as a family in a way that we could never have imagined. We still don’t understand why… but what we do know is that God knows the Beauty out of the ashes of her life…His ways are not our ways. They are far greater and bigger than anything we can imagine. The devil never stood a chance because Ashlynn’s life was saved by Christ at an early age and nothing would keep her from being in Eternity with God. God took a terrible situation and is changing it for the good. We know that Ashlynn is healed and we know where she is forever. We know that we will see her again one day! We know that we have been changed for the better as well as all of our family. We know that many lives are going to be changed for the better through her precious but stormy life. To God be the Glory Forever!