I immediately connected with Ashlee.  She was so authentic and real in our interview.  I felt the need to verifiy with her that I could share everything in the interview since she was very open and shared several of her struggles that were extremely personal.  Meeting Ashlee and learning her story reminded me that when you meet someone you never know what they have been through.  Ashlee is beautiful, gracious, and a published author.  Many of us would look at her and envy her life and think she has everything we want.  After the interview I realized she has been through many a hardship to arrive at where she is now.  I hope I was able to do the interview justice below.  


Donna: Tell me a little bit about your book; A Sacred Silence and is this your first book?

Ashlee: A Sacred Silence is my first book so it’s really fun; it is a historical Christian fiction. The story takes place in the 1960s.  It starts out in San Antonio with a young woman in her early twenties and she’s losing her mother to cancer.  She and her mother are discussing life.  After her loss, she finds out that her grandmother has left her a series of journals at this ranch to tell her about her life which she hadn’t shared with the rest of the world.  The struggle lies in the main character, her struggle with grief and just being offended at God.   Her struggle with that pain and what do you do with that.  The beauty is her grandmother was able to reach back even although she’s deceased and lead her out of that pain through her own testimony.   At the end of the story really is Eliza being able to walk out of that and walk into a relationship with God which she didn’t have before.  There is love interest which makes it so fun and he’s really sweet and compassionate.  He has insight with Eliza into don’t isolate yourself because I think in our culture when we get into pain, we’re very good at numbing out.  We’re very good at isolating ourselves and so you see Eliza struggling with that through losing her mom, how she deals with this and feeling like she is the only one in the world going through this.  Her love interest is really good about supporting her and giving her encouraging words but it’s really until she goes to the ranch on her own and begins to read the journal that she’s allowing herself to open up to God and what He may have for her instead of the pain and grief.

Donna:  What made you choose the time frame of the Mexican revolution for parts of the story and did you have to do a lot of research?

Ashlee:  I researched.  Growing up in South Texas, we have such a connection to Mexico and as a child; I grew up all the time going back and forth.  My husband’s family ranched over there for decades and so a lot of my research as far as the ranching piece was from what he grew up doing.  It was a very romantic time and so the way the story revolves around the Mexican revolution really led to how it did all fall out with Dusky, the grandmother.  Dusky and her situation the way that the whole landscape changed and the political climate changed during that time.  Prior to that, you know Mexico had a very sort of European feel and they lived a very flamboyant and wealthy lifestyle.  Dusky’s story takes place on a Hacienda.  Her father’s a cattle rancher from Texas and so that’s how they end up going down there and she falls in love.  With the Mexican revolution things unfortunately, unravel in a way that she has to come to terms with serious grief and returned to Texas.  She then remakes her life and that’s where she raises her daughter and her granddaughter Eliza.

Donna: Do you feel like people will get a different view of Mexico through your story?

Ashlee:  Yes, Mexico is an extraordinary country with beautiful landscape but the political climate has gotten so different.   I definitely feel I was able to pull back the veil a little bit and transport people back to that time period which peaks their interest to say what is Mexico really about because all they hear are border wars.

So there is this wonderful romantic flare of Mexico long forgotten.   I hope that it would give them a sense of pride.  This is our beautiful country even though it’s changed.   My husband’s family, still ranch down on the border and we have ties to Mexico.  Honoring their heritage because although the situation on the border is dangerous, there is this whole other wonderful part to Mexico which people are yet to know.

Ashlee:  What I love about you know fiction is that people allow themselves to be transported but at the same time when you can use it to inspire people to hear the language of their heart.   My heart for the story was that not only would they allow themselves to be transported in time and they would listen.  Eliza does a really good job of articulating her pain, which is something our culture is not very good at; how do I put words to what I’m feeling.   What I love is that Eliza is able to articulate her pain in a way that people can identify with and when they can identify;  my pain sounds like that too, then they can say I’m ready to see how she deals with this?

She goes through a period being offended with the Lord with her anger; why are you doing this. That’s the question that we all ask.  Then she comes to realize that it’s just the wrong question, it’s not going to get answered here.  It changes at the end, who do you want to be for me now God, you know what you did in my grandmother’s life, will you do that for me.  She is able to latch on to her grandmother’s testimony and pull it forward and say God, do that for me.  We’re not always taught how to walk through that with the Lord.  We get these other five stages of grief but God wants to help us intercept that language of grief and pain.  He has something to say about it and He has something better for us.  It’s are we willing and Eliza gets to the point of being willing.  In the beginning, she isn’t willing, even though she’s got this wonderful sweet housekeeper/nanny that’s lived with them forever.   She has all these little tidbits of wisdom and Eliza says I don’t know God the way that you do, I don’t hear God the way you do but by the end, she begins to hear and yield and be willing to do what He has for her.  I think that’s the story of all of us.   I lived there for 15 years, losing my dad tragically in 1993 I just said you know what God, I don’t want anything to do with you again because what kind of God allows that to happen.

And so for 15 years just living in that darkness and in my grief and being so angry with God, and really angry at my community for not being able to help and then I had a miraculous encounter with Jesus which completely changed my heart and my mind and from that moment on I said Lord you know, everyone has to have this.  I’ve been in ministry since 2008 but He put this story in my heart, kind of dropped it years ago, and played with it.  Finally, I said, I’m going to do this and submit it and it’s been really sweet to see God use a whole different avenue to reach people.  The direct ministry that I do for Inner Healing, but this was a whole other avenue to pull people into His goodness.

Donna: Was writing A Sacred Silence part of your healing?

Ashlee: I was definitely healed prior to writing.  The book kind of started on the precipice of that and has evolved.  I think as my maturity in Christ has evolved, this book has definitely evolved. People think of physical healing but the inner healing of ‘what do I do with this pain’.  You can see my ministry come through in this book.  The ways Eliza articulates I’m alone, I’m afraid, and then how the Lord gives her this scripture “Be still and know. And she is like; I don’t want to be still, none of us want to be still.

My favorite line is; it’s so much easier to run than it is to stop and trust.  This book has matured along with me because I started it years ago and finally when I got to the part of submitting, I was like wow it really has evolved Lord.  His timing is definitely perfect.

Donna:  Is A Sacred Silence very personal for you?

Ashlee:  yes. It definitely is personal because there is so much even with Eliza’s mom.  In the beginning she was passing away from cancer. Her husband left, I experienced that with my two biological children of him walking out on us and the way that she described her pain was similar to mine. That was how I remembered myself, I was just building those walls because the pain was so great you just pull yourself up by your bootstrap and put your head up and you just went, you didn’t let people know you are in pain because if you did you thought you’d crumble.   Eliza works through it is definitely a hint of the way the Lord has shown me to walk through the pain and the grief.

Donna:  Meeting you I would never know what you have overcome in your life.

Ashlee:  It came with a high price, but at the same time, Christ paid such a high price for me that if I can expand the reach for the Lord in this way then I would.  I mean because like I said, God, whatever you’re doing, I am in and I mean that.   If this is a whole new avenue for him to reach others great, because you know, grief has a language and often times, grief can very much be attached with depression and obviously I have such a heart for people battling with depression and grief, and pain because I watched my dad.   I battled with it for 15 years so but I’m on a victory of it right now and I want to see others have that victory.  My blog is Committed to see Love Win, because I’m committed to see Love win and Christ draw people to Himself through stories.  So God is like can we just reach out and draw others through this.  What I love about this book is that it really does appeal to anybody; it doesn’t matter if people are Christians or not, it’s inspirational.  They’re going pick it up and they are going to think wow I never knew that God can be that way.  He is a good Dad; I want to see Him famous for what He’s really famous for, which is loving us in incomparable amazing way.

Ashlee:  To me, A Sacred Silence is just one other way that He’s been able to get me out to meet other people and to allow Him to touch their lives because I’ve never seen Jesus not move and I never met anyone that hasn’t said, I’ve been in a lot of pain and I don’t know what to do.

I always say depression is a silent killer.  It erodes your life. They feel weak if they admit it, they feel helpless and depression talks really, really loud and we don’t know how to intersect that conversation but Jesus does and sometimes it just takes reaching out to other person that has been there to say help me because I don’t want to hear this anymore.

Donna:  Would you recommend A Sacred Silence to someone who maybe is battling depression?

Ashlee: Yes, Eliza does a really good job of articulating the things that she’s hearing and feeling in her heart and that moment where she really rails at the Lord.

Donna: Sometimes I think it’s easier to connect with the character in the book because it’s not real, I don’t have to deal face to face with someone.

Ashlee: That’s exactly right.  I felt like that’s what the Lord said to me, He said, you can pull people in this way and they can identify and I can touch them as they read, I mean because you think about all authors like Francine who ministry through their books.  Mine’s probably a little bit more on the ministry side because I’m in Inner Healing and I really wanted to touch on those places and I wanted to come full circle with the message that God can rewrite my story.  It doesn’t matter who I am, it doesn’t matter where I have been; God can rewrite my story.  All this stuff that wants to haunt me and drag me down, that’s not my story.

Donna:  Why was it easier for Dusky to share her heart with her granddaughter versus her own daughter?

Ashlee:  You know that generation that would have been born in that early 1900 and then moving in this they would have had kids, they were a silent generation, they didn’t know how to still there pain they really should have definitely just exactly what I said, you put the face on, you walk out, you pull yourself up, you don’t let people see you’re not transparent but at the same time what I love about this kid is that she didn’t want to be silent her whole life so the way that she chose was to write it all down and she did.   I think it good for grandparents to be a little more vulnerable and transparent with their grandchildren because the risk of rejection is a lot less. Because they apparently think you don’t want them to have garbage always thinking a lot like to be better for them than it was for me.  I think the risk of being able to share and doing it through the journal was so appropriate for her I mean I so wish that I would have had grandparents that would have done something like that.  Because once they’re gone, and you become an adult, you don’t get to turn back and ask them questions because they’re not there.  I know they have certainly dealt with stuff.  I would have loved to ask my grandmother, how did you deal with this or that.

We have a legacy that we can leave for our children, a legacy of blessing and abundance and emotional provision.  We’ve not done a good job of helping our children understand emotionally.

That would have definitely been very typical of generation except for Dusky penning it down. That’s the difference.

Donna:  Which main character do you identify with most from A Sacred Silence?

Ashlee:  I think definitely now Eliza. I have to say in all three Eliza, Hope and Dusky, there is a little piece of me in each one.  I definitely identify with being who Eliza was.  Then be willing to let God write on my heart again.  I think that’s the biggest takeaway.  If someone says what we should take away, it’s that people be willing to allow God to write on their heart again.    He understands the pain, he understands the anger, but would you be willing to give Him the chance just to write on your heart with His words not with what the world says, but with what He wants.

Donna:  That is so brave.  How many of us are willing to do that.

Ashlee:  Well I owe Him my life.  He literally saved my life because I was that close to committing suicide.  I mean the only thing stopping me was my children’s face with flash in my mind.  I didn’t want to do to them what my dad did to me.  When I had a supernatural encounter with Him, I just I would do whatever.  If that is what you want me to do, I will do it, but He had this whole other plan for me.  The plan that would have been hidden and locked away if I had let depression be the only voice because we have three people talking to us all the time, God, ourselves and the enemy.  I’m not giving the enemy a foothold in my life but I didn’t know any better. I didn’t have anyone to help me dissect what I was hearing. I thought I was the problem, because I couldn’t sort it all out.  What I love in Eliza you get to watch her sort it out.  It’s in fiction but it’s so important that we stop and say what is talking to me, what is that, just because it comes across my radar doesn’t necessarily mean it’s mine. I love the way the story was able to unfold in that way and watching her go and say okay what is this thing?

ashlee-kinselAshlee Kinsel – bio

Born in South Texas, Ashlee S. Kinsel grew up with Texans and their many hats. As the daughter of a self-proclaimed pioneer, her father shipped her off to the mountains and enrolled her at the University of Colorado, Boulder for a taste of diversity in mankind and climate. As her tour in Boulder wound down, she returned to her home state and worked in advertising, retail and investments. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband, their three children and their menagerie of pets. She works alongside her husband in their ranching and wildlife businesses ‘making hay while the sun shines’ and writing when the sun sets. She also leads a weekly women’s bible study in the heart of Alamo Heights and volunteers as a prayer minister.



a-sacred-sileceA Sacred Silence:

What price will Eliza be willing to pay for love, when love seems to only bring grief? Just when the twenty-four-year-old finally feels ready to move beyond the pain of losing her mother, Eliza receives an odd phone call from the attorney of her deceased grandmother, propelling her into a deeper exploration of grief and love.

As long-hidden secrets resurface, the legacy of her family could be at stake. Flung back into her grandmother’s mysterious past at the time of the Mexican Revolution, Eliza  must face the truth her beloved grandmother chose decades of silence to protect―until now. When past and present collide, can Eliza somehow come to terms with the intermingling of love and grief, for the sake of her family’s legacy . . . and for the sake of her own heart?