Iraq Journey

Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ February 4-6 2010

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Well whattayaknow? I guess this is where I live

June 29, 2008

So. We’re home.

Has it really been a month? Truly?

Do you remember coming home from summer camp? That feeling of looking around, realizing that your life hasn’t actually changed–YOU have. You’d pour over the pictures of the friends you made, the fun times you had, try to find words to tell your family all about it. Even the inevitable drama that accompanies summer camp ends up looking favorable in hindsight. Then you’d wonder–was all just a dream?

Colorado was wonderful. Just wonderful. Too wonderful to even put into words… for lots of different reasons. Of course, I’m sure we drove John’s parents a little batty at times, but, hey, they love us anyway. If I could just move my family and friends up there with me, I’d never have reason to leave.

And so I’m home, and not exactly sure how to readjust to normal life again. John’s mom is still here for a couple days, after driving home with me the past two days, and then when she leaves, I’ll only have two weeks before my Grammie and a young family friend come for a visit. After that… it’ll only be a few weeks until John gets home.

I’m repeating the above paragraph to myself every half hour or so today out of necessity. I’m struggling a little with the whole being home thing, and I’m finding my emotions in a bit of turmoil… not entirely sure I’m ready to go back to being alone, even though my head reminds me it’s not for much longer.

But the months before I left for Colorado? Well, they were pretty hard, folks. I’m trying to recall how exactly to do that maneuver of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps. All I remember right now is that it’s not always too pleasant.

It is good to see our fat kitty-cat. And to read piles of mail. Yesterday I got to see my brother and later this week I’ll see my parents. Church this morning was awesome–a message from Joshua 1:9. How could it not be awesome? Seeing all “my people” reminded me of the fellowship we have here, and the incredible support they offer so lovingly. I remembered what life is like here, and that I do actually like it–shock and surprise!

And it’s not much longer now, anyway, till the being alone part is over. I don’t have another six months of this. It really is only a little over a month.

We’ll make it.

Maybe if I keep reminding my head of that, my heart will soon follow.

Why is the home stretch always the hardest?

Four years ago…

June 25, 2008

Missing you today, my Beloved…

I Am A Plant Murderer

June 19, 2008

I am a plant murderer.

I have never been able to keep a plant alive. Never.

It all started when I was about 11 or so and decided to plant a packet of seeds in an unused raised bed in the backyard. I faithfully watered those little seedlings day after day, standing out in the hot sun, eager to see my pretty flowers. Then came the fateful day when my mom informed me that when she walked by my raised bed to hang laundry, she saw little yellow flowers on the top of tall sage green stems… just like the ones growing in the dirt elsewhere. I had been watering weeds.

Then there was my next try, an herb of some variety when I was 13. I was determined to follow the example of my friend, Nicole, and become a botanist. I watered my little herb, whatever it was, and made sure it had proper sunlight…. for a while. Then I grew rather bored with it, and soon the leaves began to shrivel up and then the stems started bending over, and the next thing I knew, my mom suggested the brown remains be disposed of.

When I got married, I thought I’d try again. After all, wasn’t I a very mature and responsible grown woman at 18? (If I wasn’t then, I am now, right? With two children at, uh,22? Ahem.)

So this time I followed the example of Heather, who was able to make her military base housing one street over from us look pretty and inviting despite the lack of any natural foliage, and put some pretty mums in pots along our front walkway. And I watered those faithfully, also watering the prickly front bushes in our yard and the yard of the empty house next to us while I was at it. I was doing so good! Those pokey bushes were perking up and the flowers stayed alive for about a month or so. An improvement indeed!

But, then I began going a little longer between waterings and the next thing I knew, I was barely giving those pots a passing glance as I walked out to the car. After the now brown, dead stems and dried up leaves had sat for long enough to give their memory plenty of respect (at least a few months… until my mom had to tell me that she really thought these weren’t going to make it) I gave them a proper burial–in the garbage bin.

Then there was the plant I threw out the week before Troy was born. It was a very common house plant, with medium sized teardrop shaped leaves and long trailing vine-things… most of you probably know what the plants are called, as you probably have them in your homes, but to show my lack of knowledge of all things green, I do not. My Grammie, a woman with one of the greenest thumbs I’ve seen, gave this plant to my mom when she moved, who then gave it to me when we got married.

I placed it on top of a high bookshelf, where it helped balance the corner of the room (a la the decorating book I had just read), but wasn’t noticed much. Soon, the long vine that hung gracefully down the side of the bookshelf began curling up. The leaves began to look yellow and then turned to brown. So, at mom’s suggestion, I clipped it down to a mere three leaves and one tiny stem, placed it somewhere that I’d see it and hopefully remember to water it, and started from scratch. Soon it was a pretty green plant again. So I moved it somewhere else. Not a good idea. When we moved from that house in 2005, the poor plant had a few new green leaves thanks to my next-door neighbor, who would water it whenever she was at our house, nearly every day. But without her TLC, it began to shrivel up again. I tried to bring it back to life around Christmas time that year, but the poor plant had breathed it’s last. Finally, after a few months of being perched atop the refrigerator, it was laid to rest along with the others… in the garbage bin.

Today I am throwing away a pretty little plant with purple flowers that was given to us two months ago. I did my best to keep it alive, watering it whenever the soil felt a little dry, every other day or so. But then it started looking sickly. I asked my mom what I had done, and she suggested backing off the watering. So I did. Somewhere in there it died. I held out hope that something good would happen and bring it back, but there are no longer any pretty purple flowers on it and the leaves are completely curled in on themselves. The stems are beginning to bend over. I’ve seen these symptoms before. The best thing to do it put the poor little plant in the lavender pot out of it’s misery. This time, I’m not waiting for Mom to see it and tell me it looks like it’s on it’s last leg. I’m resigned to doing it myself.

But you know, the ironic thing is that the person who has given me my plant advice and told me when they weren’t looking so good–my mom–was once told by a green-thumbed friend, “A plant going to your house is like a plant going to the death camp.”

I think she has tried to save me from what has become her lot. But I am a natural-born plant murderer. What is my mother’s lot in life is mine as well. So I suppose the real moral of this story is not, “Water your plants to keep from being a plant murderer,” but instead, as my dad and husband often remind us, “Like mother, like daughter. “

–updated from a post written May 5, 2006

A-hiking we will go

June 14, 2008

See this purty waterfall?

Almost exactly five years ago, sitting on a log that jets out over the stream at the waterfall’s base, John asked me to marry him.

I said, “What, are you crazy?? MARRY YOU? Of course not, Weirdo Person!”

Just kidding. Just kidding.

I obviously swooned and cried and said yes.

Actually, I didn’t say yes. I didn’t even say anything. I cried. I sat there with a gaping mouth, looking at the ring he was placing on my finger as he almost dropped it into the stream below us. (Seriously, he almost did. He says he would have jumped in after it. I would have been in such shock over the whole thing I probably wouldn’t have had a clue what he was doing.)

Then I picked my jaw up out of the water long enough to say something terribly romantic.

“Um, did you ask my dad already?!” Don’t judge me, people, I was seriously shocked out of my very wits. Clearly. But it was pretty important to me that I know the answer to that before I said anything, because if he HADN’T asked my dad… big trouble, buddy.

But he had. He’s good like that.

So THEN I finally said yes.


Because, look! Here I am with kid #2! I sure hope I said yes.

So anyway. Yesterday John’s parents, the boys and I made the little hike up to the waterfall. I hadn’t been there since the day we got engaged.

Yes, you are correct in assuming I fought back a tear or twenty.

It was Troy’s first official hike (which is quite strange, considering the family he was born into… but such it is) and he was pretty thrilled. He had on his little boots and ran in, around, and through the trees. Since I was a little wrapped up (literally! ha!) with Merritt in the sling, Grandpa and Grandma kept busy making sure Troy didn’t run over the edge of the cliff and drop into the stream. I was grateful.

Apparently, hiking is great fun, even if you are told the trip down to the stream is too much of a hike for little people.

I looked around our little spot waaaaaay up here in the mountains and agreed.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

If you find the box with my marbles in it, be sure to let me know

June 11, 2008

Due to the many hours I’m logging looking through oodles of boxes filled with old family photos, and the fact that there is just way too much fun to be had with all the walks and little boys and long talks and reading real books… I’m pulling out the archives, peeps.

I STILL get a hard time about this incident, from both real life friends and bloggie peeps alike. I think it’ll go down in history. Is it really THAT weird? Come on, I’m sure some of you have a few crazy I-have-no-brain-left stories to beat this one…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

It will come as no surprise to most of you that I have completely lost my marbles. I’m just not “with it.” I’ve known this to be true for quite some time, but something about a second move within five months, being the mama of a toddler, wife of a Marine, carrying an itsy bitsy one-on-the-way, and about a million other odds, ends and tidbits just served to confirm the fact.

For example.

Last week we made a trip to the laundromat. Now, mind you, I’d only once been to a laundromat–almost two years ago, before Troy was born–and all I washed were two big fleece blankets that wouldn’t fit in my washer and had been on a cross-country camping trip. That one was on a military base, and the only civilian laundromats I’d seen (in tiny desert towns) were… well… not anyplace I’d want to go alone. BUT, being that we’d been sold a used washer and dryer set that ended up needing a few adjustments before we could do our laundry (which could be another blog post in and of itself, ahem), and it had been two weeks since we moved, the laundromat called. Since John was still off from work last week, we loaded up a few baskets of laundry, supplies, Troy, along with a couple toys for him and headed toward the nearest building with coin washers for our use.

We were greeted by a friendly attendant, an immaculately clean and relatively empty facility and the fresh scent of clean clothes. I set to work filling several washers, dropping coins cheerily into the machines, adding soap, closing the lids… and waiting. Ah, the novelty of it all.

Troy hadn’t fallen asleep in the car, as we’d been hoping, hoping, hoping he’d do, but he was fascinated with the dryer windows, as a few more customers had come in to change their laundry from the washer to dryer. While we waited for our clothes to be cleaned and dried, then folded each load, Troy made friends with the nice lady attendant and the owner, who came in for a while, and then with a little girl who spoke very little English… but neither does Troy, so what did it matter to them? I chatted with both the attendant and the owner and we all laughed over and over at the things that crack up a toddler. While Troy played with the little girl, John and I smiled and gestured to her mama, wishing we could understand one anther, but enjoying watching our children have such a grand time of it. In between the starting the washers and transferring the clothes to the dryer, Troy and I even went into a drug store nearby to see if they had one-hour photo processing for a disposable camera we’ve had sitting around for, oh, a year or two. They didn’t. But the cashier did look at me a little funny. We even went to McDonald’s across the shopping center and got some lunch (always healthy, yes we are!).

The point of all of this is to make you understand that we were at the laundromat for several hours. And we were other places beside that. Walking around. In public. We talked to a number of people. We were seen by even more people.

Why does that matter?

Because when we pulled into the driveway, I looked down, intending to slip on the flip-flops I’d discarded once we’d hopped into the car. I looked twice. I glanced around the floor under my seat, hoping to see another pair of flip flops I’d left in the truck. There weren’t any other sandals beside the ones I had just put back on my feet.

This is what I saw:

Because embarrassment is nothing without photographic evidence.

I told John to look at my feet. He looked at me to determine his own reaction. It was a good thing my startled look held a certain degree of amusement, because he couldn’t hold it in. He smiled. I giggled. We started laughing. We started cracking up. Laughing our heads off.

I don’t remember the last time we laughed that hard. Any stomach muscles this pregnant belly has left were sore from it. We couldn’t even move… we were both doubled over in our seats.

Seriously, wearing two different shoes isn’t as funny as you’d think from our reaction. But after the pressure and leetle bit o’ stress we’d put on ourselves with the move and everything going on… we just couldn’t help it. We laughed till we both had tears in our eyes.

But when I walked into the house, I shook my head at just how out of it I must have been, because my brown flip-flop has an almost non-existent sole–a quarter-inch at most–while the turquoise one is at least 3/4 in. thick. I felt it as soon as I stepped out of the truck at home… how I’d not realized it earlier is… well, I was gonna say a mystery to me, but I know just how scattered my brain has been.

And yet, I don’t know what is more ridiculous… me wearing two different shoes in public for several hours, the two of us holding our sides and cracking up in the driveway, or the fact that two hours later John stopped me to show me that I still hadn’t taken off the mismatched sandals.

I’m hoping that while we finish unpacking, I find a little container somewhere in the garage with the marking of “Ashleigh’s Lost Marbles.” I could use ‘em about now.

Originally posted 8/14/07