Iraq Journey

Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ February 4-6 2010

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Interupting this bloggity break…

August 26, 2008

…to post, people.

I wonder if the person who invented blogging knew they were creating the world’s next big addiction. That they were eventually going to need Blogging Rehab facilities. That therapists’ offices would someday be filled with grown children saying, “And I really think all these issues may be caused by my mother’s excessive blogging when I was a child!”

Yes, I do exaggerate.

In fact, all three of the men in my household–the two tiny ones and the one big one–are napping at the moment. The house is utterly quiet. And things are so crazy easy now that, you know, MY HUSBAND IS HOME (in case you missed that news bulletin) that I have nothing else to do at the moment. That, and the fact that my itch to write something, anything, is becoming unbearable.

Actually, I do have stuff I could be doing. Like responding to the trillion emails in my inbox. (Which I WAS in fact planning to do BEFORE my mother ever-so-gently hinted earlier that I’m not always the best emailer-backer-person. I was. Truly.)

(Before I say anything else, I must say this. Since it has to do with the emails and such. YOU PEOPLE BLOW ME AWAY. That is another way of saying that you make me all teary. Often. Your comments, emails, tweets and such have blessed my little heart out these past few weeks. I think it will be months before I’m able to write a post without telling you how much I love every single one of you to pieces. I love our little community, I do.)

I started writing emails a little bit ago. And then, without me even realizing it, my mouse clicked the address bar and my fingers typed the URL for this here little window. I don’t know how it happened.

I told you it’s an illness.

Anyway. As I was saying. What WAS I saying? Oh that’s right–nothing. Brilliant.

Oh. WAIT. There is in fact something crazy to tell you. Something crazy indeed.

I was recognized in public, people. By a complete stranger. Like I was a famous person. Only, I’m not a famous person.

Now, I know several of our beloved blogging celebrities have had this happen. But, PEEPS, I’m no blogging celebrity.

See, I took Troy to the library one day last week, leaving Merritt home with his Daddy. (Because, his daddy is home now, remember? Woohoo! Moving right along…) Troy adores the library and informs me every couple days that we’re going to the library that day. A trip was long overdue. So we read some books, played with some puzzles, picked out a couple books for Mommy (you know, all that free time these days, what with having someone else here to help with the kiddos) and then decided to make one quick trip over to the magazines. Because Mommy wanted to look for her favorite natural mommy mag and some healthy eating stuff.

(She was obviously feeling crunchy and healthy at that moment. The healthy part wore off as soon as the kids went to bed and she remembered there was ice cream in the freezer. And hot fudge in the fridge. And Heath bar pieces in the pantry.)

But Troy, he wasn’t feeling crunchy OR healthy. He was feeling like he wanted to go back to the children’s library. He was tired of holding hands and of talking in our quiet library voice. After about three attempts at engaging him in the wonders of nutritious foods, the newest slings and breastfeeding info, it was clear he was just plain done. So I turned my back to the magazines and told him we were leaving. No, we were NOT going back to the kids’ books. We were going home. He’d run off already a few times and wasn’t obeying, so, we were just going to go home.

This news wasn’t taken very well.

The tears started. The hand was wrenched out of my grip and the legs went limp. I knelt down to stop this lovely display before it reached full throttle, noticing as I did the stares from the newspaper-reading older gentlemen sitting nearby.

This was the LIBRARY, people. The place where you don’t dare talk above a whisper lest the book police come and haul you off to a jail constructed entirely of those metal shelves and tall book ladders. Tantrums are about as close to the cardinal sin here as you can get.

I also noticed a young lady nearby with a book cart glancing over at us. Really, I told her in my head. He’s calming down. We’ll be out of here in a second.

He did calm down in about two seconds and we proceeded to check out our books using the nifty self check out system. Our library is fan-say.

But then I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the young lady with the book cart was walking over to us. Was she coming to me, exactly? Yes. Um, yes. She was.

Great. Now we’re in trouble. The book police are coming to take us to the metal shelf jail. It’ll be that, or pay the late fees of everyone in the system for penance. We’ll never go home again. Well, at least we’re together.

“Um, excuse me. I know this will sound really strange, and might be, well, um… I’ll just ask. Do you happen to have a blog?”


All I could think of was that it was a good thing I had makeup on that day, even if the immediate circumstances were a bit… less than desirable.

“Well, uh, yes. Yes I do.”

We talked for a few minutes and I enjoyed finding out a little bit about someone who already knows quite a bit about us. (Hi, Emily!)

I’ve talked to people I don’t know before who read my blog, but there’s usually a connection somewhere–you know, friend of a friend of a friend sort of thing. But not someone who just happened upon my blog at some point and kept reading. And certainly never, you know, like THAT. Out of the blue. When my child is having an almost-nap-time freak out moment in the library.

Truth be told, that was fun. Emily was really, really sweet. And she didn’t toss us in library jail.

So if you happen to see me somewhere and one of my children is screaming, or I’m a frazzled mess, and even if I don’t have any makeup on, feel free to stop and say hi. I’ve already done the meeting during a tantrum deal. It’ll be okay.

Okay, that’s all I had to say. And now I’m retreating back to my break. I think. For at least another week or so.

The Journey

August 19, 2008

Yes, we are alive. And yes, I’ve been too busy enjoying our family of four being TOGETHER to give more than a passing thought to blogging.

Today I finished putting together a little video chronicling this journey we’ve been on. I made it for myself, really… therapeutic and all that. I wanted to go back to the beginning and see where we started and then be able to see where we’re at now. Because it seems that no matter how many times I replay it all in my mind, having John home now is normal and that whole Iraq thing? Just a bad dream.

But then, there are other moments…

Anyone who has ever gone through a time in their lives that’s been difficult or life-altering in any way knows that feeling–when you struggle to piece where you were before all of this began, where you were in the thick of it, and where you are now that it’s coming to a close. How does all of this relate and… now what?

Yesterday evening I was finishing up the dinner dishes, John was building block towers with the boys. It felt so completely normal that my mind had tricked me into thinking this is the way it’s been all along.

It was just a random song that came on the stereo, but one I hadn’t been familiar with until John sent me a DVD of one of their chapel services. Throughout the past few months, I’ve played the music portion of that DVD over and over and over–listening to John playing a guitar and leading the singing for a bunch of Christian Marines and Army personnel who still choose to gather together in Iraq.

When the first few notes of the song began to come through the stereo speakers last night, my mind reversed its little trick on me. For about five seconds, as I stood there putting clean plates and bowls away, I was alone again. John singing along to the music was just a DVD and the boys were playing alone. I immediately started thinking about getting the boys bathed and ready for bed by myself and then later climbing into our big empty bed on my own.

It took a moment to breathe again. I stood for the duration of the song with my hands resting on the bowls I was shelving, frozen as the past year played before my eyes. The worries and fears of the months leading up to the day John left, the feeling of saying goodbye, the achingly long days and nights without him, the constant struggle to trust the Lord with John’s safety as well as our own back here, the incredible closeness both of us found in Jesus in the midst of war’s separation, and then Homecoming Day and the sheer bliss of seeing my beloved’s face again and being in his arms.

As the song came to a close, I opened my tear-filled eyes. It’s over. John IS here. Right here, in our home. We four are together now. His singing was coming from the living room, not through television speakers. God did it. Proved Himself faithful in more ways than we could have foreseen or imagined. As any military wife can tell you, this is actually just one step on a much longer journey–one filled with more separation and some difficult times. But we’ve made it through this one. What reason do we have to doubt He’ll bring us through the next any less lovingly?

Some of this video may not make sense. Since I made it for myself mostly, a few of the pictures will have more meaning to us than they will to you. But I’m showing you this glimpse into our journey because you have all been a part of it. You’ve loved us and prayed for us from the beginning–something for which there are not enough words to thank you.

So here’s a little glimpse into our journey–start to, well, finished-for-now.

Journey from Ashleigh on Vimeo.

It’s been a little over a week now since John came home. He worked a couple days last week and yesterday began his 30-day leave period. I know it’s no surprise to you all that I’ll be taking an extended bloggity break throughout most of that. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be back to normal around here–I have to figure out what “normal” is going to be, now that I won’t have hours upon hours of “after the kids are in bed” to devote to blogging. I might pop in a few times, leave some comments here and there. But my online time will be sporadic at best.

Besides, I’m just way too busy taking two-hour walks on the beach hand in hand with my guy, reading books to our little boys while they climb all over us, eating real meals (I forgot it’s possible for people to actually eat home cooked meals every night of the week), snuggling–all four of us–in the mornings, doing incredibly mature things like chasing each other around the house shooting rubber bands around corners and up the stairs.

Yep. Life is good.

And so… He’s Home

August 10, 2008


And we’re happy…

Stay Tuned…

August 5, 2008

Daddy’s coming home soon!
It’s true. Even if it still feels unreal.
I can’t say when, online, but it is very, very soon.
And we are very, very excited.
Stay tuned…

Betcha Didn’t Think We Were THIS Crazy

August 1, 2008

Today is my mama’s birthday.

Tomorrow is my daddy’s birthday.

It’s no surprise around here that I’m close to my parents.

What may or may not surprise you is this–we are ONE WEIRD FAMILY.

My parents are really special people. Anyone who knows them will agree. They did a lot when we were growing up that I admire and means much to me now–being transparent with us, teaching us to be “real” and to love Jesus with everything in us.

But they did a lot of other things that aren’t quite as, shall we say, traditional. You see, we have this thing for being a wee bit crazy.

Like this one night.

I don’t remember now how began. All I remember is that there were GALLONS of water involved.

It might have started with the water pouring contest–the one that had us all STANDING on our chairs to see who could pour water from one glass to the other, from the highest point, without spilling any.

Of course, now that I think about it, that may have been another night.

But the night of The Big Water Fight, I know there were indeed cups involved. Cups full of water that were being poured, dumped and tossed at the other members of our wacky insane crazy fun-filled family.

Somebody ended up grabbing the sprayer thingamambobber from the sink. And let me tell ya, that was when it all REALLY got started.

Because soon the sprayer thing wasn’t enough.

The command was given. “Bring in heavier ammunition!” Being obedient children, we, of course, obeyed.

Ha. That was a tough one.

So the garden hoses were brought in. Yes, I said garden hoses. Through the doors. Into the house. Yes, they were turned to full blast. Yes, they were pointed at other members of the household. Yes, my parents were the ones holding the hoses most of the time.

(And here we come to the place in which my mother would probably ask me to tell you that this was taking place in the kitchen and the dining room–thus on the linoleum that can be mopped and not the carpet which cannot. Which, you know, made it all okay. Or something like that.)

Eventually, somebody won. I don’t even remember who. It might have been Mom. I think she got the final word in when she sneaked up behind Dad with the hose and doused him. Or maybe it was Dad, when he hid around the corner with the other hose and sprayed water on Mom and my brother when they ventured into the kitchen.

I don’t remember. None of us care anymore. (I take that back. My mom might. She’ll probably tell you she won.) But we had a crazy-wild-fun time that night, no damage was done, and I don’t know that we’ve collapsed in that many fits of laughter at any time since.

Oh, wait… unless it was the next wild and crazy night a few years later… the one which ended with silly string and shaving cream in the street in front of the house, a broken hose, an almost lost camera and (yikes) somebody going through a window. But that one involved a whole lot more people (teenagers this time–shocking, I know) and was conducted completely OUTSIDE.

Happy Birthday(s), Mom and Dad… thanks for lots of crazy memories and here’s to all the insane times to come. Although, preferably ones that DON’T create lakes in the newly remodeled dining room and kitchen, I’m kinda thinkin’.

(And if you can, go over and wish my mama a happy birthday. Albeit, a bit belated now, being that it took me literally ALL day to finish this post. Being a parent myself now tends to cause that kind of thing… at least I know she understands.)