Living a life of vitality
DEC. 17, 2012
In the wake of her husband’s death, Ashley (Danielson) Toms encourages others to commit to a healthy lifestyle
By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN – Losing her husband just weeks before their first anniversary was the most heartbreaking experience for Ashley (Danielson) Toms.
But instead of letting her sadness overcome her, Ashley is using her faith and her husband’s undying inspiration to help others live a “life of vitality.”
Ashley, a 2003 Dassel-Cokato graduate, met her husband, Steve, in 2010, at Life Time Fitness in Lakeville, where she trained for figure competitions. Ashley described this as a feminized version of body-building, involving strict training.
Steve was the head the of personal training department and invited her to join him in his boxing class. He even bought her pink boxing gloves.
“That was his strategy, I guess, and it worked,” Ashley said, adding that the two hit it off from there.
Steve then became her personal trainer, helping her train for upcoming competitions. She began competing in 2008, and has since competed on both state and national levels.
The couple married Nov. 18, 2011, and took their shared passion of physical fitness and living a healthy lifestyle to their church.
Last fall, they began Christian Fitness Warriors at River Valley Church in Apple Valley, with the goal of teaching people to “live the life that God had designed for all of us, one of abundance,” Ashley said. She noted their ministry was based on Romans 12:1-2.
The couple was also in the process of submitting a book proposal with the same name. This is something Ashley will continue to work on, based on her husband’s quote: “People who live in a state of vulnerability, need to change to stability so they can really live when they change to a state of vitality.”
Ashley explained it like this: “When we live in a vulnerable state we’re susceptible to physical and spiritual harm. For example, we’re born sinners, we neglect our temple, make poor decisions, turning away from God.
Living in the stability phase we’re not likely to fail. In this phase we’re coasting and doing only what is safe, comfortable, what we know because it works, not really stepping out in faith.
Then, we have vitality, which is the state of being strong, active, having energy. We were created to live life in super abundance so the world would want what we have. They will wonder what our source is; Jesus Christ.”
That was how Steve lived until he died suddenly in his sleep Oct. 30. He was 35.
As traumatizing as it was for Ashley, she has chosen to “make this circumstance a steppingstone and help others,” she said.
Though her heart is breaking, Ashley said her faith is keeping her strong and it’s important for her to be a witness to people and glorify God in all aspects of life.
“It’s just a major part of how (Steve) lived, and how I continue to live,” Ashley said.
Giving up is not an option for her, she said, and referenced a Bible verse that gives her strength and hope.
“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more” (Psalm 71:14 NIV).
“God is good, all the time,” Ashley said. “He is the one constant in our lives and His love never changes, regardless of the circumstances or situations we face.”