Anna Asbury has been a great friend and leader to so many women, including myself. Though I do love sharing a first name with her, what I love most about knowing her is being able to see the deep well of love she has for Jesus and the graciousness she has towards others. And how could anyone not be proud to have a friend who looks this gorgeous when being pregnant?!
A MOOS : Okay so, you're very obviously pregnant! how did you find out, and what's the story?
ANNA A : Well, Cory (husband to Anna) decided we should have more kids. Ha! It freaked me out a little bit because I wasn't sure if I was ready to be pregnant again. But we decided to give it a shot. I thought there was no way that I would get pregnant quick, I thought I'd have a good 8 or 9 months to prepare, because I did with Gabriel and Lily. So it's been like 3 or 4 weeks, and I get in the mail this gift registry from Target. I was like, what?? Cory was out of town and it was so weird but I started to feel sick. And I was like, no way, there's no way. So I took the kids and rushed to the store, got the pregnancy test, took the test, barely even looked at it because I just thought there was no way. A little later I took a look and sure enough, it said I was pregnant!
A MOOS : Haha I didn't know that, that's so funny! What's your favorite thing to wear when your pregnant?
ANNA A : Well it depends on what time during the pregnancy it is! In the beginning, it needs to be flowy, because you just feel so bloated. Then, second trimester it feels better to wear more tight fitting things, because you want people to know you're pregnant. And then third trimester... leggings and stretchy pants haha! And dresses feel really great too.
A MOOS : Oh yeah that floral floor-length dress you were wearing the other day looked so good on you!
ANNA A : Yeah, dresses really do feel good at this point, or really at any stage. It's also best to wear them in the summer, because you can wear them every day if you want.
A MOOS : What do you feel is different about yourself when you're pregnant?
ANNA A : I am unafraid to say anything! haha. Usually I have a pretty good filter, but when I'm pregnant and I'm feeling something, I have no apprehension about saying exactly what I'm thinking. Sometimes that can be really awesome because I will say things that I may usually be more afraid to say, like I'll tell people about Jesus and I'll go into situations that I normally would feel more apprehensive about. On the flip side, if someone annoys me, they're gonna know!
A MOOS : Haha! So tell me about Kate! What do you know about her so far?
ANNA A : Well, her name is Kate River, and we felt pretty early on that we were going to name her after my grandmother who was a missionary to Kenya. She was also one of the first woman-pastors in Ohio. And I feel that mantle on Kate. The River part was because we believe she is going to carry a peace like a river or a stream, and that who she is is going to be a really peaceful, restful person. That she would carry a strength about her, but it would come from this place of humility and kindness. And that she would be very much in touch with the delight of the Father. I'm also hoping that she'll be a great sleeper!
A MOOS : I hope that for her too! So Anna, you've told be about Kate. Now tell me about you! Who do you see yourself as?
ANNA A : The first thing I would say about myself is that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father, and I have really made that my first identity. Secondly, I am a mom. I used to not really like that, or I used to be afraid of that. I thought that being a mom meant I had to give up all of my dreams. But what I have realized is that family is the most important and beautiful thing that I could ever give my heart and my life to. My heart really comes alive in ministry, I love to sing and I love to paint and to worship, and there's parts of my heart that really come alive when I do those things. But what I've realized is that Jesus is about family. He spent 30 years of His life, doing things that no one really fully knows about, but we know He was with his family. We know that 3 years of His life was His ministry, and 30 of it was spent with the family He was born into on earth. And I think that's a beautiful picture of what the Kingdom is supposed to really look like. So for me, though it's taken a while, my first callings that I've loved to discover is being a daughter, a mom and a wife, and leading through serving.
A MOOS : See, this is why I love interviewing people. I have a really small and unintelligent and scared view of being a mom, but hearing you talk about it gives me so much insight that I could never have found on my own or known from personal experience.
ANNA A : Totally, I mean it is definitely harder than not having kids. But I think what our generation has lost is the gift to see the beauty of family. And also that there is no greater thing on this side of time, than to be able to love and raise and give yourself to other people. I have now been entrusted with little ones. I used to think that ministry and love looked like giving up me, giving up Anna, being selfless and being a servant and giving up my life. What I have learned is that I was selfish when I wanted to be seen a certain way, to have certain dreams or to give in a certain way. I just didn't know how family could fit within those boundaries. These dreams are still alive, I still do ministry and serve. But my little people are the best gift that was ever given to me, and I get to build a legacy through what I do. What I teach them will go from generation to generation. The gospel of Jesus is all about creating our family. If I can't learn how to do that with my own husband and kids, then how am I going to do that anywhere beyond them? Because the place here I get my strength is within my home, with the Father, with my husband, and with my kids. Everything else needs to be overflow of that.
A MOOS : That is so beautiful Anna. I know you are talking about the family aspect of the things that create who you are, but tell me what you would like to do through your life to impact the people outside your immediate family?
ANNA A : I would say that I want to aid others in finding their identity as sons and daughters. I would hope that my life would be an example of that, and that it would inspire people to discover that for themselves.
A MOOS : What was the first worship song you ever wrote?
ANNA A : "Where I Belong"! Well, it was the first one that was ever recorded. Cory and I were leading a set and I was sitting there as we were singing on of Jason Upton's songs. All of a sudden I got this phrase as we were singing, "I finally found where I belong", and I just started weeping on stage. It was because I had been searching so hard and striving in my heart for where it was that I really fit. I felt like I had all of these gifts and talents, but I didn't know in what direction to go with any of them. I was searching and searching and wanting a place to belong so badly, but I was looking to my talents and looking to people to say, come belong here! But in that moment I felt the Father say, "You belong with Me. In my Presence is where you're going to find fullness and the most belonging." So I started to sing that, and then we wrote a song out of it!
A MOOS : I can't believe that was your first song... Because it has really stood the test of time. I feel like it's just as good and powerful as it was when you first wrote it.
ANNA A : Totally.
A MOOS : So when did you first discover your love for worship?
ANNA A : When I was a really little girl. My parents were both worship leaders, and so it's just been such a big part of my life ever since I was small. I was super little, and my parents would pull me onstage, and we'd sing together. In our house there was always worship going on. I think that's what has kept my heart steady and set on the Lord. I didn't really have a huge falling-out with God. I just have loved to worship Jesus ever since I was little. And when there were hard times and I did fall into sin, there was still a cry in my heart to be close to Him and near to Him. Every family has their negative things, but I am so thankful for my parents who taught me how to worship.
A MOOS : And in return, you guys are teaching your kids how to worship too. I love seeing that. As far as worship leaders go, who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
ANNA A : I have a few, but I would say the biggest influence would have been the Helsers. When I was 13 I went to my first worship camp with them. They taught me how to worship without this religious mask, just to be myself. I loved their worship because it was so raw, so real and hidden. They weren't big back then.
A MOOS : Yeah, I feel like they still don't feel big even though they are now.
ANNA A : Yeah, it's because they keep it so intimate, even though their song is one of the biggest in all the world right now. I would say they taught me to lead people into worship in such a real way, to know that it's not a show. And then another is Misty Edwards, because her songs got me through some of the toughest times. Just beautiful, intimate songs of love to Jesus. Lastly is Jason Upton. His worship taught me how prophetic worship is so powerful. How worship sets are more than one fast song and one slow song, that there is a real God who is here speaking right now, who is wanting to be heard and to touch us. I fell in love with real worship through those people. And Cory Asbury!
A MOOS : Haha! Speaking of Cory, what does it look like to share a similar profession as your husband?
ANNA A : Well it didn't start out easy. We were both pretty selfish when we started out at ages 20 and 21, when we got married. But we've grown up together. At first it was hard because we had to figure out the place where we got fueled internally. The reason why is because a lot of the times when you're doing ministry together and doing things together that are so similar, it's so easy to feel like you're connecting or getting full off of the actual ministry. But then you kind of lose sight about what is really important and how to really connect as a couple. So, it was rocky at first because Cory isn't actually fueled from the big events and the the teaching and discipling, but I am. So there was some tension there. But the tension is beautiful. For instance, when you look at a guitar, the strings play beautiful music because there's tension. And that's Cory and I's marriage. There's a tension because I'm an extreme extrovert and he can be extroverted, but he swings more on the introverted side, which means he needs time alone to get fueled. So in the beginning, there was tension and the music didn't sound very good... but we learned how to play really pretty music together in the last 10 years because we figured out where we get fueled, where we connect. Some of the most beautiful times we've ever had have been when we have time alone with the Lord, and then we come together and we share the overflow of what the Father is speaking to us. We now can even say to each other, hey what's going on, maybe you need to go spend some time with the Father, that tension isn't sounding too good right now! So our story now is mostly about how we have learned in our home about the source and where the overflow of our life with God affects our ministry. If ministry takes the place of the overflow that happens within our home, with our kids, in our marriage, it creates that unhealthy tension. We can connect so much now through our ministry because of that overflow within our home.
A MOOS : What's your favorite thing about your husband?
ANNA A : His compassion! And his tender heart. Cory is very discerning of hearts, and he is very tender with hearing, with our children, with me, and I love that about him. A lot of people see this ferocious, courageous, intense and super joyful guy on stage, or if you have a conversation with him sometimes people can think, oh, he's a little intense. But I get to see the tenderness of his heart all the time. How he'll cry at the drop of a hat, you know, over anything, if God is breathing on it. So that's my favorite thing about him.
A MOOS : That's so cool I love that about marriage! It unlocks things about the other person or yourself that most people probably won't see. It's the coolest thing ever, as if you have a bunch of beautiful little secrets.
ANNA A : It's really fun! One of our close friends who was at IHOP with us came up to me once, and he goes, I think I finally figured you guys out! I've been working this out for a long time... I could not figure out how Cory and Anna work together. But I now know that it's because you two are opposites. And I was like oh yeah, how? Then he said, a lot of people think that I'm the really tender one and Cory is the extremely intense one. We can both operate that way, but maybe deep down I'm the one that is tenacious. And Cory was actually the really tender one deep down. And we both even each other out. And I couldn't agree more with him!
A MOOS : Me too! So, what is your favorite thing to do with your kids?
ANNA A : I love to read to them.
A MOOS : What do you like to read to them?
ANNA A : Well, at certain stages it's different. With Lily it's usually anything really. I love books for kids because it unlocks so much imagination. I love picture books because I love seeing all the art, and I love watching my kid's eyes when they look at them and seeing these other worlds come alive to them and inspire them. Now, with Gabriel, we can read these chapter books, where in his head he's imagining these stories and picturing himself in these places where he is the warrior or he's conquering far off lands or in the middle of the mystery. I think as a mom it's such a powerful teaching tool, but also it's just so fun to watch their little imaginations come alive with these stories and see these beautiful things erupt in their brains. That's one of my dearest times with my kids. I love seeing Lily as we read these stories of fairies and castles and seeing her imagine herself as a princess. It's so fun to walk into a bookstore and go, Ok Holy Spirit, what is the book for my child that's gonna speak identity and destiny over them? I also love watching my kids with art. I love seeing how it connects to them and watching them have a beautiful reaction to it.
A MOOS : Do you think they would ever enjoy just walking through an art museum?
ANNA A : Oh yes I think so. I think it's because I have opened up that world to them and it's beautiful in their minds. They watch me paint, and they watch their mommy and daddy sing together. There's just a creative side that we have opened up to them that has caused them to fall in love with beautiful things, and they notice it. You can see God in everything and hear Him in everything, or you can actually miss Him in everything. So I've tried to teach them that, to cause them to have wonder.
A MOOS : As you were talking that was the word I was actually thinking of that I love about you and your family. I have always loved how you and Cory have decided to set that kind of culture of wonder with your lives. Even at such young ages, it's evident that your kids appreciate the beautiful things and that they always are looking for it. (Anna and I were sitting outside, and at this point we saw a few birds in the trees in front of us.) Oh, look at that bird! It's so beautiful.
ANNA A : Oh, it's a cardinal! I love them. Every time I see one, do you know what it makes me feel?
A MOOS : What?
ANNA A : It makes me feel like God is saying "I love you" to me. The first time I ever saw one, I felt like God said something to me. He said that every time I see one, it's Him reminding me of how much He loves me. So when I've had a hard day, sometimes I'll look outside and see a cardinal out there, and I'll be reminded how loved I am by God.
A MOOS : So Anna, Tell me a little bit about She Paints Virtue.
ANNA A : Okay! Well, I am almost 31. And at 29, you think you've already discovered all of your gifts, and you just have to pick which one you really want to go after at that point. Well... God had a different plan for me. He decided at 29 that it was a perfect time for me to discover a new gift, through painting! It's really funny, I went to this wine and painting event, and the painting I did was so bad! So I left going, I know I can do better than that. And everyone was laughing at me like, sure Anna, if you say so. But I just had this strong feeling that I could definitely do better! So I went home and I started painting this deer. While I'm painting it, I feel the Holy Spirit resting on me in such a tangible way. I was like, ok, I'm paying attention Lord. By the way it was with Gabriel's six-pack water color set...
A MOOS : Haha! I feel like you went to that painting event and didn't do your best because you weren't working with the right medium. You needed watercolors!
ANNA A : Yeah! And I was trying at that place to paint a picture that someone else had vision for, and it just wasn't working. So, I got done with my deer painting and was shocked with the results. I sent it to Cory and he was like, you did not just paint that... and I was like yes, I did! And I felt the Holy Spirit so strongly when I did, I think there's something more to this. So then we go to Israel right afterwards, it will be 2 years ago in August. While we were there, one of the guys on the trip who's a business guy has a word over me. He starts talking about how the Lord is going to use me in the arts, and he says to me, I don't know what you do, but I feel like God is gonna blow up a business that you're going to steward and you didn't even know that this was in your heart, but God sees it and has given it to you as a gift. And I am like woah... I hadn't even told anyone including Cory about some of the things in my heart pertaining to this, but this guy just brought it all up. So in the next few months I continued to paint, and then I felt like the Lord gave me a name one night when I couldn't sleep. I heard Him say it's gonna be called "Virtue", because what you are doing is you are painting these virtues. Even though you aren't painting specific words, people are gonna see and feel the virtue behind it. They'll feel inspired for justice and courage, and love and hope and compassion. Or they will feel like you are prophesying over them. And what I felt most is that I would do this over children. That I would be able to paint something for children that would be in their rooms and in their homes that they would see daily, and it would speak identity over who they are. So, I don't know exactly where it's gonna go, I have big dreams for it, but for now I'm just being obedient and I'm sending paintings out all over the world and praying that they bring hope and prophesy and life to dark places.
A MOOS : I can speak for myself in saying that this was an obvious Holy Spirit-driven gift. I have been familiar with painting and lots of different kinds of art forms, and I have never seen anyone pick up watercolor as easily as you did.
ANNA A : It is definitely from Him, the Lord has really taught me everything about how to paint. I want to obviously be diligent to learn more, you know, now that I have this gift I want to steward it well. But the gift is really from Him.
Anna sells original paintings and prints on her Etsy site, and you can check it out Here. The process of the paintings is important and precious to her, and she pours herself into creating as well as praying over the right painting and feel for the pieces she creates. It is so evident that the Lord speaks through each one of her paintings, I encourage you to check them out! You can also follow her on Instagram Here for sneak-peeks of upcoming projects she's working on.