Iraq Journey




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Of course I wanted to bawl my eyeballs out

January 31, 2008

Tonight Troy prayed his first little prayer.

His FIRST PRAYER. Lisps and all.

Absolute sweetness epitomized.

He’s loved praying with us for months, readily folding his hands, closing his eyes and saying, “Eh-MEN!” at the end. At dinner, he’s often asked me to pray after John does… then John again… then me again… and so on, with gigantic smiles, as long as we’ll let him.

And, come on, how do you tell a toddler that we can’t pray anymore?

But tonight, when we came to the praying part of our nightly bedtime routine, he folded his hands, closed his eyes and said, “D’Jee-SUSH!”

Which, roughly translated, means “Jesus” around here.

So I asked him if he wanted to pray. He nodded his head.

We’ve tried this before, and though he often talks about Jesus and has just started singing “Jesus Loves Me” on his own, he’s never wanted or understood the concept of HIM actually praying.

But, tonight…

Mama: “Okay, you can pray. Can you say, ‘Dear Jesus…’”

Troy: “Deeeee D’Jee-sush.”

M: “I love you, Jesus.”

T: “Luh loo, D’Jee-sush.”

M: “Please keep…”

T: “Plee teep…”

M: “Daddy safe…”

T: “DadDY sae-fuh…”

M: “In Iraq.”

T: “Ih Rack.”

M: “Please keep…”

T: “Plee teep…”

M: “Mama and Troy and Merritt…”

T: “MomMY, Too, Mer-Mer…”

M: “…safe tonight.”

T: “sae-fuh nigh.”

M: “Thank you, Jesus.”

T: “Tank tank, D’Jee-sush.”

M: “In Jesus’ name…”

T: “D’Jee-sush naaaaaame…”

M: “Amen.”

T: “Eh-MEN!!”

Then he giggled loud and long.

And I kissed him and cried.

We’ve prayed since the very first moment we knew we were expecting him that the Lord would draw Troy’s little heart to Him from his childhood.

But oh, THE TEARS. Tears of joy to see it begin and tears of being completely and utterly overwhelmed at the responsibility we have to lead him to Jesus.

Praise the Lord that it’s Him working through us, because if it was up to me alone, I’d just sit and cry every time that little guy says Jesus’ name. Which, you know, might give a toddler the wrong impression about Him. I think I might have to work on that one.

But my baby praying? I hope I never get over that.

What we do on Rainy Days

January 29, 2008

The rain started on Sunday and only let up for a couple hours here and there… until this morning. We’ve been trying to keep busy–the days sure go by faster that way!–but it gets a leetle hard when there are cats and dogs falling out of the sky.

Er, uh, not literally, of course, which we all know, but Troy didn’t when I mentioned the cliche the other day. He looked up and asked, “Daw-g? Kit-ee?”

He now pays very close attention to every. little. thing. any of us says. And then he repeats it.

Which means, we’ve officially entered the spelling years.

As in, “I’m going to put the boys down for an N-A-P,” and, “Do you want some I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M?” or, “I think he wants a B-I-G-C-R-A-C-K-E-R.”

And that last one is further evidence that we’ve also entered the adults-talking-like-the-toddler years. Because in this house, a “big cracker” is, apparently, the new name for graham crackers. Of course, if you really want to say it correctly, you must say, “Beeg Cackuh.” Proper pronunciation and all that.

Now what was I talking about? The rainy days–that’s right.

So it’s true we’ve been cooped up a little, but we still manage to find things to do…

Like, spend fifteen minutes playing with the rain dripping off the roof during a downpour.

Then we come inside, change out of the now-wet clothes, and make colorful pictures to send to Daddy. We never, ever tire of coloring pictures for him.

This provides at least one solid half-hour of intense concentration. Stickers are very, very difficult to maneuver with chubby, dimpled hands.
Meanwhile, the littlest member of the family is very busy. He does the job Daddy gave him before he left extremely well. Namely, the job of just looking cute.
Oh, and hanging around.
Literally.
After lunch and naps…

(Praise the Lord for inventing nap time! He knew mommies would need it)

we take advantage of a lull in the fall of said animals from the sky, and go for a short walk.
And we all know what rain means…

…puddle-jumping.
The littlest one is also taking seriously the job Mommy gave him. Namely, to carry in his stroller the pictures we are going to put in the mailbox for Daddy.
Then we go home, ready to tackle the longest and loneliest part of the day–the evening.

But first we spend some silly time taking funky-looking pictures for Daddy. He says that if he doesn’t see people for a long time, he forgets what they look like, which is an occurrence we’d rather avoid when it comes to the three of us.

Even to the point of taking said pictures with, AHEM, no make-up on. We don’t want him to forget what some of us look like when we’ve been so busy playing in the rain, coloring pictures, napping, puddle jumping and mail delivering that we haven’t even had time to take a shower yet.

Troy and Merritt want to make sure everyone knows they don’t always look like this, of course.
They want you to know they are usually much more put together. Just to be clear on that one.

Ahem.

And, yes, one of these was taken on a different day. A slightly more “put together” day. You are not seeing things.

But most importantly, Daddy can see that we are still smiling, even though we miss him terribly.
We’ll make it through, rainy days and all. Because God is sufficient and is often proving His faithfulness through the amazing people He’s put in our lives… but that’s a WHOLE ‘nother post, peeps.

Hello my name is Ashleigh and my favorite scent is my husband’s deodorant

January 25, 2008

I thought I must be a looney toon, but I guess I’m not–as much, at least.

Last night at church my friend M, whose husband left in August for the Sandy Spot, was telling me the wonderful news that no matter how long he’s gone, the I-miss-you-a-million-oodles feeling never gets any better.

I was thrilled.

Or, you know, not.

Not that I wanted to stop missing him at all, but I’d kinda hoped the ache would… I dunno… be soothed a little. But, M says, nope.

So anyway.

We stood by the nursery, holding our babies, talking about life with husbands on the other side of the globe. And the fact that we are both doing the same crazy things as the wives back at home.

Not changing his pillow case–CHECK.
Using his bodywash in the shower–CHECK.
Putting off going to bed because it’s too hard to fall asleep alone–CHECK.
Sleeping sprawled out, diagonal across the bed–CHECK.
Hugging his clothes in the closet–CHECK.

But the best one of all?

Standing in the bathroom, eyes welling up, with his deodorant stick stuck to our noses.

We decided it must be that we spend a lot of time with their arms around us… which would put our heads… right in their armpits.

Oh, the romance!

Interested in hearing another observation I’ve made this week? I’ll tell you anyway.

Junk food is no fun when eaten alone.

Since Troy went to my parents’ for a couple days, I’m just here with twelve-week-old Mr. Easy-Going, and we’re not sure either of us likes so much quiet. But to pass the time, I’m hanging out, watching TV, crocheting and blog-hopping to my heart’s content while he sleeps, plays on his activity mat and nurses now and then.

But I’ve been thinking I really should eat some good junk food. Because isn’t that what you’re supposed to do on these kind of weekends?

Get some fast food. Eat bowl-fulls of Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream. Drink a 2-Liter of diet Coke. Go through a bag of Chex Mix–both the regular as well as the chocolate peanut butter variety. Finish the big bag of peanut M&M’s.

But it’s definitely not much fun to pile on the pounds all by my wee little lonesome.

Not that I’m not going ahead with a little indulging anyway–though definitely not in nearly the same quantities I would if I had someone to chow down with me–it’s just not nearly as much fun.

I’m thinking perhaps that’s a very good thing. It’ll probably be the saving of my resolution to lose BLANK number of pounds while John is gone.

Goodbye, fun junk food eating.

Hello, armpit-scent-reminiscing.

Heartbreak

January 24, 2008

We found out this morning that our precious unborn niece, Adyson Celeste, who was diagnosed six weeks ago with Turner’s Syndrome, went to be with Jesus at some point during the past few days.

My heart is just breaking for my sweet sister and brother-in-law.

Thank you to those of you who were praying for little Ady. She was a part of our family for 23 weeks and oh, how the Lord used her in that short time. Trust, surrender, knowing the All Things are in His hands. I can truly say that because of Ady, I’m closer to Jesus than I was before. I think our whole family can say that…

Tomorrow morning Sarah will be induced. Please pray for this first-time mama and daddy, as well as the rest of her family. We’re all feeling hit a little hard right now… we can’t even get in touch with John today to let him know.

But especially pray for Sarah… I cannot even begin to imagine what she is and is about to be going through.

We love you, Sarah and Josh.

Hanging In There

January 23, 2008

This morning I sat sipping a mocha in Starbucks for almost three hours, reading my Bible and writing John a long letter, and repeatedly told myself that one week ago he was still home. But the thought remained in the world of surreal… it has to have been longer than that…

But no, it was only a week ago tomorrow my beloved headed off on a bus toward the Sandy Spot on the other side of the globe.

The hardest moment, by far, was seeing his camouflage-clad arm waving in the midst of a sea of hands as the buses drove away… around the corner… and were gone. The best part–getting his phone call to tell me he was safely at his base a few days later.

God’s grace is an absolutely amazing thing. It is never-ending, the supply can never be exhausted and He always gives more in accordance with our need.

For weeks–more like months–I’d been dreading that day last week. I’d been trying to imagine spending our last day together, kissing him goodbye, hearing Troy tell him bye-bye, watching him walk away and onto the bus. Many were the nights I fell asleep with tears on my pillow.

But in all my imagining, I didn’t see the grace my Jesus would supply when the time actually came. I didn’t know that He would wrap His loving arms around me when my beloved’s arms had to let go. I didn’t see the peace He’d give. I couldn’t feel His gentleness as He dried my tears. I didn’t realize the enormous amount of support He’d pour on us through dear family and precious friends.

Now I kinda wish I hadn’t spent so many hours trying to imagine a feeling I couldn’t possibly feel, having never been through it before. The imagining was truly worse than the reality has been–but only because of Jesus and His comfort.

I’m missing my husband terribly, even though he’s been gone much longer than a week before. Knowing it will be over a year makes it harder somehow. Both boys are having a hard time with the transition. Merritt, little as he is, has been extremely fussy and not wanting to nurse, and Troy has been having nightmares, crying for Daddy.

We expected it to be hard–but once again, God’s grace astounds me. Our transition into life-with-Daddy-gone-land has been nice and slow. Except for a few hours on Monday, I’ve had some member of my family here since John left. I usually talk to John’s mom at least once or twice a day. Troy is now spending a couple fun-filled days with my parents and I have a few days to re-group a little, think through how to get started with “normal” life next week, and finish the blanket I’m crocheting for John–he says it is very cold over there.

So we’re hangin’ in there. It’s a rainy night here and I’m curled up under 2/3 of that partially-crocheted afghan with my lap top and a handful of peanut M&M’s. Merritt is crashed for the night. I’m re-reading the oodles upon oodles of sweet comments and emails you all sent me–your love and prayers on our behalf is completely overwhelming. I can’t tell you what it has meant to me to have my inbox fill with your words of kindness. You bloggie peeps are the greatest and I’ll be responding to each of your emails one by one.

(Speaking of emails–to the friends and family who would like John’s email and mailing addresses, email me and I’ll get that to you right away. He’d love to hear from you and is pretty good about writing back. :) )

All I have to say is that if the Lord has given us this much strength and comfort in the first week… I can’t wait to see what He’ll have done a year from now. He is good. So very good.