2015-08-30 19.05.59

A very quick update…very late

It’s been a very busy Fall and unfortunately I haven’t been able to update much.  We’ve been pushing through my second to last semester in the Counseling Program at RTS inching toward the finish line in May.  This has definitely been the most challenging semester for me personally as I’ve been hard at work in Church, in the family, in class and in the clinic, racking up over 250 clinical hours in since February.  The emotional toll has been heavy and Elise and I have been learning how to better struggle together.

We’ve survived the semester though and we had a really tough week and a half around thanksgiving due to some sick kiddos.  Luckily, Elise and I were able to avoid full blown sickness throughout it, but sick kids is no fun at all.  I will be sending out a more comprehensive update via email in the next month or so.  I just wanted to say how thankful I am for all the people that have supported us through prayer, financially, and in community.  This has been a wild ride as we are coming to the close of this chapter.  I’m very very thankful for my wonderful wife and my two beautiful girls.  Finally, I’m very very very thankful for God’s continuing faithfulness through it all.

If you would pray about supporting us for this Semester’s Tuition we would be very grateful.  For more information click here. 

Justin, Elise & the girls

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Weeks 19-23: Marveling…

Is anything to hard for the Lord? – Genesis 18:1

2738954470_tired_answer_1_xlargeWe have made it through the semester and it feels really nice to take a breath.  As we reflect on the last 5 months we can’t help but be amazed.  God has done it.  Somehow, we made it through daily life, tuition costs, ups and downs, surprises, a new baby, birthdays, sermons, finals…and we are overwhelmed at God’s grace towards us.

Through God’s generous people our tuition was covered by the end of the semester with 75%Screenshot 2015-06-01 12.40.19 coming in the last two weeks.  Thank you for giving.  Thank you Jesus for providing.

We are also closing in on our minimum monthly goals for support, which is totally amazing.

rts logoThis was a really great semester, as I have been in the clinic now for 3 months and counseling 6 clients a week regularly and I’m really enjoying it.  I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  It’s hard work for sure, and humbling in a lot of ways, but I feel like I’m growing as a counselor through the wonderful supervisors that we have as a part of the program.

cross_grey Ministry at Crosspointe continues to be a blessing.  My job is to care for Community Groups and help to implement community as well as helping to provide care for the church at large.  I’m really enjoying it as well and we have a great staff team at Waterford Lakes Crosspointe.  I got to do my first wedding on May 9th, which was a blast and I was able to preach once this semester on May 17th.  We ran a ten week counseling group known as Immersion Groups which was really good.  We started a young families community group as well as a more structured Shepherd Coaching model for our leaders.  It’s been a fun, and hard 5 months.

Family+Icon+Square  Our family has been so blessed this year so far.  We welcomed Hannah Ruth Ashurst on Superbowl Sunday (Feb 1st) and she has been such a joy to us (minus all the hard stuff that comes with babies).  But she is really sweet and growing fast.  Abby has been a wonderful big sister and has adjusted better than we could have hoped.  She has also recently picked up swimming as a 2 year old and it’s really fun to work with her on that.  Elise and I are doing pretty good.  It has been a difficult season, for sure, and through many conversations and some tears, God has continued to grow and strengthen our marriage and show us our desperate need for him.  All and all, I don’t think we could be doing better even in the midst of trial.  So great is our God.

Thank you all again for the support you have given in prayer, finances, thoughts, time, and just reading these updates.  We love you all.

Thank you Jesus.

Justin, Elise, Abby, Hannah.

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Weeks 12-18: What happened…?

It’s been a pretty busy 6 weeks. Per my last blog post I was floored for about 10 days the second week of March with a cold which, by the way, since then my sense of taste has not returned. After recovering for a week from that I took week intensive class on the OT Prophets which was pretty good, but made for a very very long week. Which took me about half a week to recover from. Then it 2015-04-09 10.59.45was Easter. My dad came to visit for 10 days and we had a great time. We even made it to the beach a couple times.

Then it was time to catch up on Homework and Church work. Busy…busy…busy. Plus trying to find time to just hang out with Elise has been increasingly difficult. Thanks for those who have given us a date through their babysitting. In the midst of all of that I’ve been running a 10 week Immersion Group (counseling) group through Church and it has been going really well. I’ve also been seeing about 5 clients a week (just got my 6th) up at the Clinic as part of the program. Needless to say it has been quite a storm.

But I think Elise and I are finally settling into our new life as parents of two small children. Hannah is doing great! Overall she is pretty healthy and Abby has adjusted quite well to being a big sister.

IMG_0011At Church we just finished out final Community Group Leader Sync/Training for the trimester and at school we have about 4 weeks left until the end of the Semester. Oh…summer, I can’t wait for you to get here when things will slow down just a tad.

God has kept providing for us month to month and even some for tuition. Thank you all who have supported us. It is so neat to get to see God provide though other’s generosity. If interested in helping you can find info here.

Thanks again! Till the next update.

Justin, Elise, Abby and Hannah.


Weeks 10&11: A brick wall…

Week 10 was a pretty momentus week as I saw my first clients in the clinic.  The preceding week had been pretty busy and I knew I was stretching myself a little bit.  All of the sessions went pretty well and it was a surreal feeling to actually be counseling people.  And then…week 11.

managing-sick-leave1I got absolutely slammed by a pretty nasty cold.  This one laid me out for 7 days straight and I am just now coming out of it.  It was not a fun time and I did absolutely nothing productive.  I guess that goes to show that even when you feel like you have no time…sometimes God shows you otherwise.  It was a pretty rough week and we are still adjusting to two kiddos.  But some pretty good and important conversations were had during that time and God continues to bring us to the end of ourselves to show us what it means to depend on him.  2 Corinthians 1:9 certainly was ringing true.

“9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

On the support raising front we had some exciting things happen.  I was finally able to send out a bunch of emails a couple weeks ago and we are getting some responses.  It’s so cool to see people willing to support us.  One family decided to give their whole year’s pledge in one month…we are continually blown away!

Thank you Jesus.


Weeks 6,7,8 & 9: Ramping Up…

I suppose it is not surprising that the frequency of posts has dropped these last few weeks.  With the beautiful addition of Hannah Ruth Ashurst to the family, we have all been a period of adjustment.  All and all it has been going pretty good.  Elise is IMG_0015operating on a lot less sleep, and I am on a little less, so definitely could use prayer for a sleeping baby (babies) so that we can get some sleep.

The last month has just flown by.  But it was really sweet to get to spend the first week just being with my girls as Elise’s mom came up to help and it was a huge blessing.  Each week I feel like I’m slowing integrating more fully back into ‘normal’ life; school, church, clinic, fund raising…etc.  Overall we feel extremely blessed.

I’m excited to announce that next week (week of 3/2) I will be seeing my first clients in the clinic.  I am super excited about theIMG_0002_2 opportunity to do this.  So far the clinic has been a great experience as I’ve been able to observe 2nd year students and seasons counselors working their trade.  This such a unique program and I’m so thankful.

On the church front, things are going well.  We are implementing a coaching structure, starting different initiates for care, outreach and education of the church.  I’m very excited.  One really neat thing is that we started Immersion Group last weekend and it went really well.  I’m so excited about the opportunities that God is giving.

On the funds front, God has been providing through generous people and we are continually in awe.  But we are still in progress and are pretty short of our goal for both living expenses and tuition.  If interested in any of those please visit here.

Thank you all for praying and keeping up with us.  It means more than you know.

Onward we go!

Justin, Elise, Abby & Hannah


Mental Chiropractics…

Why is change so hard? Why is it so hard to change our mental patterns? How can we say we believe the gospel yet still struggle immensely to believe it and live it out?

I think some insight can be gleamed from a recent chiropractic visit for my 10 day old daughter. Screenshot 2015-02-11 14.07.00Chiropractic adjustments are adjustments that are done to the alignment of our bodies to set them back into a proper place. Unfortunately they don’t stay there but slip back into misalignment. That is why continual adjustments are necessary and eventually the body responds. This is the same idea as braces which continually straighten the teeth. For my 10 day old daughter, she’s already needing regular adjustments.

Might not the same thing be true of our thought patterns? We can temporarily have them corrected in the midst of a good counseling session or gospel presentation. We can feel the relief, the freedom yet within hours we fall back into unhealthy and untrue thought patterns. Might even our cognitions need continual adjustment? It seems to make sense to me.

12858_173635305958_173634495958_2990062_3049209_nThe difference is, while are bodies often need to be adjusted by others, we can eventually be taught to regulate our own thought patterns. It just takes time…usually longer than all of us would like. This is yet another reason why community and time in the word is so important. We are often the hardest on ourselves and we need the truth spoken to us both by brothers and sisters in Christ, and by Jesus, the Word.

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Weeks 4 & 5: New Life…

The last two weeks have been amazing.  I finished my two week class on Advanced Therapy Skills,2015-02-05 13.07.10 which was very good.  And then on Superbowl Sunday at 12:34 pm my second daughter was born.  Hannah Ruth Ashurst.  She’s beautiful!

Needless to say I took last week off of all responsibilities except for my family.  We had some scares but overall everything with the birth has gone very well.  Our daughter is a tad under 6 lbs, but is doing well.  She is so cute.  Abby, is being a great big sister.  I’m looking forward to them growing up together.  Mama is doing well 2015-02-06 20.32.12-2also.

It’s nice to slow down (in a sense) for a week and get to remember what its all about.  Family.  Whether church or physical, family has been something that has started to wear away in this country.  But the closeness and the love that is shared between family members is priceless.  And the true pattern for family can only start to shine through the gospel of Jesus.  For that I am very thankful.


Week 3: A dip…

Ups-and-DownsThis week had its up and downs. Back in class this week, continuing to TA, planning for a Training I’m leading on Sunday, Marriage Counseling, Date Night, ministry meetings…

I realized Tuesday Night that I was depressed, which was extremely freeing to just accept that fact.  I think by Wednesday afternoon I was coming out of it.  Depression is a sucky thing, yet I’ve found the only way to stop it is to stop trying to stop it and let go of the perceived control you had.  Its kind of like quicksand…the more you struggle to prevent sinking, the more you sink.

Anyways, feeling much better towards the end of the week.  I’ve found out I should preach about 6 times this year, which is exciting.  We are weeks/days away from having our second.  I can officially start the Clinic in two weeks.  Lots of exciting stuff.  We also had some very generous donations come in this week…so very thankful for God’s grace through those people.  We continue to move forward in ministry trusting God’s provision for us.

Weeks 1&2: Here we go…

I have every intention of blogging weekly to update everyone on this new ministry season…I will do my best.


I am in semester three of the Counseling program at RTS and

about 3 classes short of fulfilling the Masters of Biblical Studies.  Last semester was the heaviest one yet; I took like 19 hours, something like 8 classes throughout.  It was pretty insane.  But I made it…we made it.  After spending two weeks at home with my family we are back at it here in Orlando.

I’ve officially come on staff as a Pastoral Apprentice at Crosspointe Church (Waterford Lakes Congregation).  My roles here include leading our Community Groups Ministry, Counseling Ministry and overall discipleship.  As I read the job description, something in my soul resonates.  It feels like what I’m supposed to be doing.  It is a great joy when you finally get to serve in what you believe God has gifted you in.  Part of my heart is to help others do the same.

My first focus at the church is implementing a strong Shepherd-Coaching structure to ensure that all of our CG leaders are well supported and healthy.  I’ve been in a dozen meetings over the last two weeks and it has been very encouraging.

It feels like a totally new season for us.  There will be much more relational work going on for me and I hope I can manage the emotional weight well.  In addition to that our second daughter will be born in the next couple weeks…so we are excited and a little stressed about that.  Big changes coming.

We’ve also began support raising again…and that is always stressful, yet God does amazing things.  After about two weeks of intentional activity God has provided about 33% of our goal, which is pretty awesome.

Please be praying for life-balance, good support systems, and provision for us.

God gave us a van

I was on my way home from work, plans for the evening, plans for the next day…I had plans.  And then, crash, I had been in a wreck.  Someone had pulled in front of me as I was coming up to make a left hand turn.  Luckily I wasn’t hurt…only my plans suffered,wreck and the car, which ended up being totaled, we’d find out weeks later.   How could God let this happen?  I had plans to serve him, I was getting more involved in church, I had just preached my first sermon the week before.  And now, this major inconvenience?  What was He thinking?

I laid in bed the next two days and recovered from my soreness, these are the sort of breaks that God has to force me to take sometimes.  It was nice.  And then I had a week intensive class the following week.  I was dead smack in the middle of my summer semester balancing five classes, working, fathering, husbanding, churching…and now I had to deal with this car issue.

moneyFirst the news came that it was totaled and we weren’t getting what we thought it was worth.  Certainly we thought, we couldn’t replace the reliability of the 2005 Honda Civic that Elise had bought new.  We didn’t want to incur any more payments in our fragile financial state.  What was God doing?   Why had he allowed this?

The additional stress of dealing with the insurance and trying to find a car, would through off the carefully orchestrated plan I had made to survive the summer semester.  I was on the fringes again.  My wife was heartbroken that here long held car was gone.  I get it, I had to sell ‘my baby’ when we moved from Seattle.  We fall in love with our cars to some extent.

The insurance cut us to check and wished us well.  I had been researching Auto Trader and Consumer Reports all week in class trying to figure out what was the best deal for us.  Since we are pregnant with out second and hoping for more (probably) we decided to take the plunge and get a minivan.  I was actually pretty excited about that since for the most part I had let my image go.

Helping HandsAnd then God did what only God can do.  He provided a dealer through a trusted friend.  It was a 40 minute hike, but proved useful.  In a matter of days, I had test drove it, had it checked out, a couple things fixed and we were ready.  What was the price?  It was actually below what we had gotten from the bank.  The miles?  20K less than the civic.  We went for it.  And so far we have loved it.

God wrecked my plans…but he was providing for us.  He was loving us.  Not only did we get to struggle through trusting his plan through these events and get to see him provide.  But in the end we essentially upgraded from a civic to a mini-van + $900, -20K miles.  All for the headache of the accident…God is good, and his ways and his plan is better.

Thank you Jesus.