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Choice

May 4, 2009

“It’s your choice.”

He’s said it every one of the few times I’ve talked to him.

It’s my choice. Whether or not we have a relationship. Whether or not I choose to believe the lies. Whether or not I “accept” the life he’s chosen. Whether or not I “take his side” in a battle in which we were all once on the same side–until one person chose to leave the ranks and create his own. A mutiny of sorts. Against his own family… against the woman to whom he’d become one… and against the two who are his own flesh and blood.

He tells me it’s my choice. He tells my brother it’s his choice. He tells my mom–often–that it’s her choice.

But it’s his choice. We all know this in our heads. Most of the time we know it in our hearts. It’s the times we don’t that we find ourselves drowning.

He’s my father. He was my daddy. My hero. My big strong fireman in shining turnouts. The one who rubbed the bridge of my nose to put me to sleep when I was a baby, and taught me to do the same to my own babies. When I was growing up and he’d come home from his 24-hour shifts, we’d all greet him at the door and it was my job to take his black bag and put it back in his room, next to his side of the bed. When I was in elementary school we would wake up early on his days off and go for little mountain bike rides together. We were going to start our own guided mountain bike tour business for families–he’d be in charge of the adults and I’d guide the children. We even made business cards on that first old internet-less Mac computer. He liked grilling in the summer. Making food as flavorful as possible was his specialty. He liked two or three ice cubes in his milk with dinner. He could sit for hours listening to me practice my piano, and loved the sound of me stumbling through a new piece, gaining little bits of victory with each measure. Last summer he told me to never visit without bringing music because he missed hearing me play. He literally spent hours and hours knelt by my bedside, talking with me through my teenage drama. Hands folded under his chin, elbows on the bed, always ending with a bemused and caring smile, saying, “Well, Squirt, let’s pray.” He cried every time he watched Little House on the Prairie or The Waltons. He called me “Squirty” for as far back as I could remember, and rarely called me anything else.

Yes, I know. It sounds like I’m writing a eulogy. I know things have been a bit morose around here–when I’m even actually here. But you all know I can’t be anything but real.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that, as of this week, it’s been six months since the last time I saw the man I called my Daddy. Yes, I did see him one horrible day in December and again the night he packed up his stuff and… left… but that wasn’t my dad. Not the dad I’ve known my whole life. I don’t know if it’s the fact that yesterday would have been my grandma’s birthday–his mother, who would be skinning her son alive if she knew what he’s doing. It’s probably largely tied to watching him kill my mom’s heart a little more every day. Maybe it’s that I’m just weary, so weary, of dealing with this and similar situations.

But it hit me hard this past week. I’m talking hard. The kind of hard that had me crying, sobbing, every day, multiple times a day as the week wore on. I was still moving, still going on with normal life at a million miles an hour and running in circles like a headless chicken. It’s just that my eyelids were so swollen on Sunday morning that I contemplated just foregoing the whole eyeliner and mascara thing altogether. (I didn’t do it, though. At least my vanity is still intact, eh?)

Then yesterday, eyeliner in place and plenty of foundation to hide the eye bags, I drove to church and made my way to the choir practice room. We were doing a new song to open the service and since (all excuses aside) I was just plain flakey and didn’t go to practice last week, I needed some music. I glanced at the title.

Blessed Be Your Name.

New song? To me? Not so much.

I was regretting the eyeliner by the time we got halfway through the song.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

That part is easy, Lord. That was my life. It was good… so good. So idyllic.

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

There is pain in this offering, Lord. How do I praise Your name through this tearing away of the foundations? This extreme ugliness?

You give and take away.
You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say,
Blessed be your name.

Then we pulled out the actual choir special. It was a song we’d done for Easter, very dramatic and full of power. I’ve probably sung these words seventy-five times in practice by now, but this seventy-sixth time, I finally listened to them.

We choose to bow
We choose to sing
We choose to crown You the King of Kings
We are not God
We say out loud
Only to You do we choose to bow

Choosing. My choice. Choose to bow. Choose to praise. Choose to say, “Blessed be Your glorious name!”

John and I teach our boys to obey all the way, right away, and with a happy heart. No, they don’t always do it. When they don’t, we tell them to go back and start over. Choose to obey with the right attitude. Obedience comes first… sometimes the heart just follows at a greater distance than other times. But it’s a choice.

My dad is right. I do have a choice here. It’s definitely not the choice he’s looking for–I’m not choosing to succumb to the manipulation, the lies, or an acceptance of this life. I do know this is the choice my Almighty, All-knowing God desires.

It’s with yet more tears splashing my keyboard I say…

Though there’s pain in the offering

My heart will choose to say

Blessed be Your name.

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53 Comments »

  1. bessie.viola says:

    Oh… my heart is hurting for you. Regardless of the choices your father on earth has made, you have a heavenly father who will never, ever fail you.

    I am praying for you, for your family, and for your heavenly father to bless you with the strength you need.

    Sending sadly insufficient e-hugs.

    May 4th, 2009 at 9:10 am

  2. Allen Skipper says:

    Praying for you!

    May 4th, 2009 at 9:36 am

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible to love him where he is? Draw the boundries, but love him in Christ’s love. I don’t know what this would look like and you are most likly doing this the best you know how.
    Jesus may need to use you to do the unthinkable, accept him–not his choices–to bring him home. Home to Jesus.
    I love you and say this hesitantly and with love. There’s no way I can know your pain.
    Praying for all of you and wishing I could squeeze you too hard.

    May 4th, 2009 at 9:38 am

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ashleigh, I am again amazed at your patience and your realness. I do not know you and probably won’t on this side of heaven but know this God is still a God of miracles and I am praying that for your entire family. Even if this does not work out the way you hope I am praying that your father will one day again be your daddy and will turn his face back to his Heavenly Father. You can still love him and not sucumb to the manipulation of “you have a choice.” The choice is his, not yours. God bless you on this journey. Still praying for a miracle Allison NC

    May 4th, 2009 at 10:37 am

  5. Melissa says:

    Tears are filling up in my eyes. I love you, my deary! I sang this song over and over last week and finally pondered the words and let the meaning fill up my heart. It’s easy to sing a song, but to truly interpret it into your life is so inspiring and shows your love for our Savior! To lift up your spirit in the good times and trying times can only be down if we are trusting in our Lord! I love all your posts, but this one is just about my fav! Still praying…

    May 4th, 2009 at 10:41 am

  6. Mishel says:

    Crying with you and loving you, my baby girl…

    May 4th, 2009 at 10:41 am

  7. Ashleigh (Heart and Home) says:

    Anonymous,

    While I appreciate your words (and wish you’d let me know who you are, being I already have a decent idea of your identity… please don’t hide behind anonymous–I don’t bite!), I’ll admit I just edited this post because I realized I’d shared too much. Too many details that won’t make sense to anyone but us, and only muddy the waters. Please know that we are loving him in Christ’s love–more than anyone can know–and we are acting as biblically and lovingly as we can every step of the way. Sometimes love doesn’t look the way we expect it to appear. Thank you for your prayers and love…

    May 4th, 2009 at 10:43 am

  8. Johanna says:

    Oh, Ashleigh… *hug*

    May 4th, 2009 at 11:21 am

  9. ladyakofa says:

    … rendered speechless.

    I've been wondering what words will be most appropriate at this time as a faithful reader of yours at YLCF & here, but never commenting here till today. Unfortunately, I have inadequate words.

    Ashleigh, know that somewhere out there in a lil country the size of NY, somebody's heart is lifted up in prayer for you and your entire family and esp. your Mom.

    May 4th, 2009 at 11:28 am

  10. Cathy R says:

    Dear Ashleigh,
    My heart is broken for you and your ENTIRE family. I know a little of what it feels like to not even recognize someone you once thought you knew so well. It’s a long road to complete healing…I still travel it myself. Forgiveness is so easy to type…or say….but so difficult to figure out how to DO IT! God is so faithful to us. These situations just baffle me and make my stomach either SICK or feel like I’m on a roller coaster. LITERALLY! I just can’t GRASP it at all.
    Anyway, know that you have reduced every person who reads this post to a pool of tears and that those people DO NOT forget all of you in our prayers.

    Much love and prayers…
    Cathy Russell

    May 4th, 2009 at 11:30 am

  11. Becky K. says:

    Your family is in my prayers. I watch for updates from you and your Mom.

    This is a post that speaks volumes of your spiritual maturity!!

    God is with you now and ever!

    Praying for His will in this horrible situation.

    Becky K.

    May 4th, 2009 at 11:33 am

  12. LeAnna says:

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. :/ Aren’t you glad we serve a God who hears, and is near. One who answers.

    Still praying for you and your Momma.

    Still praying for your Dad…
    That the Holy Spirit would convict and open his blinded eyes.

    We are entering a day in time where God is calling forth a remnant of people who are undeniably His. Those who will trust Him whole heartedly, in things both pleasant and painful. Calling those who will continue to bless His name regardless of the trial at hand. Keep your eyes fixed on the Cross. The blood that Jesus shed there covers allsin, heals all wounds, and binds up all brokenness.

    May 4th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

  13. Nicole says:

    Praying for you guys and loving you as always.

    There just aren’t words for the pain. Jesus knows. That is enough. And the Spirit intercedes on our behalf . . .

    Hold on to Jesus, dear friend. When all else fails, cling to Him. Let Him be your rock.

    May 4th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

  14. Shari says:

    Oh Ashleigh–I have never met you, but my heart aches for you! I continue to pray that your family can feel the arms of Jesus around you as you endure this trial. What you are explaining is grief! Let it go and let the Lord comfort you. I can’t physically hug you so I will do a virtual ((HUG)).

    May 4th, 2009 at 2:00 pm

  15. Carrie at dumptrucksandteacups says:

    Oh Ashleigh… sending you my love and prayers…

    (((hugs)))

    May 4th, 2009 at 2:21 pm

  16. Gretchen Louise Acheson says:

    A powerful post. With powerful truth. Yet very tear-jerking.

    Thanks for being real. It’s how and why we like you so much. :)

    HUGS

    P.S. Ruth was “helping” me read your post and she LOVES the flowers you have for a background!

    May 4th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

  17. Sileena says:

    Ash,
    It took me 4 tries to read this without the tears flowing! I am praying for you my dear friend and the grief you and your family are going through! I love you and appreciate your candor.
    Hug your mom for me please.

    May 4th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

  18. Anonymous says:

    Ashleigh,
    I am praying for you and your family and praying that God’s will will be done in your lives.God Bless!

    Love,
    Clarissa

    May 4th, 2009 at 3:56 pm

  19. Judy says:

    Sorry for your family’s struggle. Satan is such a master deceiver.
    Oh that song. We sang it yesterday in church and I realized how incredibly hard that choice is to praise any way. Praying…

    May 4th, 2009 at 3:59 pm

  20. Katie says:

    Oh, Ash… hurting for you – and still so encouraged by your faith in a God Who is good. Always.
    Praying for those moments of peace and joy for you, your family, your brother, and your mama.

    May 4th, 2009 at 3:59 pm

  21. Caroline says:

    I am so sorry you are going through this. I appreciate how honest you are on your blog.

    You and your whole family are in my prayers.

    May 4th, 2009 at 4:49 pm

  22. Rhonda says:

    Ashleigh,
    This is a great post. Very real. Very much from the heart. Thank you. I appreciate your transparency. I know that this will help someone somewhere who is struggling.

    I, too, know what it’s like to think you know someone so well only to find out one horrible day that they aren’t the person you knew them to be.

    Oh the tears I cried over that person. The heartbreak was incredible. The choice I had to make was not an easy one, but one I know my Heavenly Father was pleased with. I don’t look back on my decision with regret, either. I look back on that person’s choice they made with regret and wish they had chosen a different path.

    Oh how I wish this never would have happened, but I see where my relationship with the Lord has been strengthened.

    I pray the same for you. I pray your father realizes the err of his ways and returns to his Heavenly Father and to his precious wife, children, and grandchildren.

    May 4th, 2009 at 4:52 pm

  23. Laural Out Loud says:

    That is one of my most favorite songs. So beautiful. So meaningful.

    When I’m overwhelmed with emotion I know to start paying attention- that is when the Lord is speaking to me. It could be words I overhear, a letter, or even a song. I hope that His presense brings you comfort.

    May 4th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

  24. Kaylene says:

    Ashleigh, I wish I had some inspiring words of comfort. The truth is, is that I can’t relate. I can compare hard times I’ve been in and broken relationships, but to be honest I’ve never known such intense emotional pain. I’ve never walked that road. Any advice I might be able to give, assuredly has already been given by someone else. So here’s me… just another internet friend… saying… God bless and I’m crying and praying for you.

    May 4th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

  25. Katharine says:

    Ashleigh….

    *love & prayers*

    Katie DeJarnette :)

    May 4th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

  26. Ginger says:

    Ashleigh,
    As I read your post this afternoon I too had tears standing in my eyes wanting to fall freely upon my face but didn’t quite make it as I lifted your name to our gracious Heavenly Father. As always I wish I could say so much I wish I had wisdom beyond my years. But I don’t. Tonight as I came back on your blog and read these comments I felt the tears yet again. Ashleigh, even though we have never met I consider you my bloggie friend and amazes me that even though we don’t know each other personally I feel as though I do and I feel so hurt for you but more importantly I am praying for you and your whole family!!
    Ginger~

    May 4th, 2009 at 8:46 pm

  27. Godismyvoice says:

    This is so very moving. I feel your pain and anguish and I cry with you. You and your family are continually in my prayers. I love you so much!

    May 4th, 2009 at 11:00 pm

  28. Mrs. Taft says:

    Love you.

    May 5th, 2009 at 3:10 am

  29. Elizabeth J. says:

    Praying for you.

    May 5th, 2009 at 4:30 am

  30. Denise says:

    Your honesty pricks my heart, Ashley. I have had that very song speak into my heart and challenge me to say “Blessed be your Name” when I felt like life was painful, wrong, and I’d never love the life I was being given. And yet I had to choose to say and believe the words. Anyway, I pray for you this week.

    May 5th, 2009 at 6:52 am

  31. Elizabeth says:

    Ashleigh, dear, I don’t know what to say – so I’ll just say that I’m continuing to think of you and pray for you, dear … ESPECIALLY pray for you and your dear family.

    *Hug!*

    May 5th, 2009 at 9:51 am

  32. Joelle says:

    Praying for you, Ashleigh! May Jesus hold you in this difficult time!

    May 5th, 2009 at 10:06 am

  33. joyfullyhis says:

    When I first started reading about how your Dad says it’s your choice, your brother’s choice, your mother’s choice… I started getting really angry.
    And then God spoke to me.
    He reminded me that He loves Rande. He died for Rande. And really, I am no better than Rande. I am a sinner too. God loves me, God loves you and yes, He loves your father.

    Oh, but how my heart aches at the manipulition, the abandonment, the hurt you are all going through.
    Life isn’t fair.
    And sometimes I can’t help but ask “WHY?”
    Your father was wonderful- your hero! I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in your shoes with your life turned upside down now. Nothing is as it was before.

    *hugs*
    I am praying mightily for you all and that somehow God would bring healing and restoration.
    Praying for your precious mom, your brother, you and your precious husband and children.

    And thank you for your honesty. That’s what I love about you. It makes me feel like I can really connect. I have felt the hurt but it’s on a much smaller scale than what you’ve experienced and are going through.

    May 5th, 2009 at 11:27 am

  34. Rachel says:

    Unfortunately, I could have written much of this post myself. The similarities between your situation and mine are striking. I have not seen my father in nearly 10 months.

    I’m praying for you (and your mom).

    May 5th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

  35. Mrs. Julie Fink says:

    my tears and prayers are with you. i wish every struggling father could read this post and understand what is in the balance in the choices that they make. bless you. your friend, mrs. fink

    May 5th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

  36. sarasjourney says:

    I’m thinking of you and praying for you

    May 6th, 2009 at 6:25 am

  37. Cassandra says:

    *hugs* Praying for you.

    May 6th, 2009 at 7:36 am

  38. Danielle says:

    I’m praying for you miss Ash!!!
    Love,Laurie

    May 6th, 2009 at 9:40 am

  39. FaceforGrace says:

    Bless your heart. It’s like you are living my life. I’ve totally been there, only several years before. It’s hard to describe the feeling- like the rug has been pulled out from beneath you. And the only world that has ever made sense before, now suddenly doesn’t make any sense at all. I was 15 years old when my Dad pulled his stunt- and for many years I couldn’t figure out what or who to believe any more. If your Dad, the one who walks you to the altar hand in hand on a Sunday morning to accept Jesus into your heart can do these horrible things- then what on earth makes sense any more? What else was lies? I spent many years trying to sort through it all. It doesn’t make sense, and most certainly never will. There is no quick fix. Allow yourself to cry, allow yourself to feel and allow yourself time. I’m sorry you are hurting my friend, and I will gladly listen if you need someone to “talk” to…just email me if you need to. BTW- my parents were separated for 10 long, miserable years before they finally divorced when I was 25. My Dad actually lived in our spare bedroom, cooked his own food and washed his own clothes for over a year when the whole thing began. My entire world was torn apart. No matter how old you are, separation/divorce is a horrible thing to deal with. Praying things will get better for you!

    May 6th, 2009 at 12:04 pm

  40. Steve n Vickie says:

    All I can say is “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it.” We don’t even know our own heart sometimes. Even king David the man after God’s own heart killed another man, so he could steal his wife. Thinking about these things is the only way, I can reconcile what your dad did in my mind.
    You can take comfort in the fact that God is not finished yet. “That he that hath begun a good work in me will perform it till the day of Jesus Christ.” If your dad is truly a Christian, God will work through this situation and in the end he will get the glory for the end result.
    I am so sad, every time I think of all the pain, you, your mom and brother are going through.
    We’re praying for you, and can’t wait to see you this summer.
    “Be Strong in the Lord and be of good courage…”
    VB

    May 6th, 2009 at 10:31 pm

  41. Chantel says:

    No good words. Just hugs for you. There’s got to be a sunrise on the other side of all this darkness.

    Love you!

    May 7th, 2009 at 6:42 am

  42. Kathy says:

    Deeply and profoundly sorry for what you are going through.

    Choosing to rejoice. And old friend to me…

    In prayer for you and your family.

    May 7th, 2009 at 8:47 am

  43. Shari says:

    Ashleigh: You have been on my heart all day today. Just wanted to drop by and let you know I have been bathing you and your entire family in prayer. I did not listen to the song you posted the link to last time I read here. I listened to it today. Very powerful and yes, we can praise Him and blessed be His name in our trials and victories! I love you dear one!

    May 7th, 2009 at 12:04 pm

  44. Heather says:

    My hands are empty with anything to offer but I lift them up to Jesus amidst the sea of hands that clasp in prayer on your behalf. And then, in answer to prayer, He pours out the abundance of grace, mercy and love…beauty which floods out of your heart for all to see. Your testimony and your mom’s never ceases to spur me on in this race. We have an amazing God to whom we choose to bow and sing our praises to- albeit with swollen tear blinded eyes and weary minds. You are so beautiful, my friend. Love you so…

    May 7th, 2009 at 3:01 pm

  45. sethswifeforlife says:

    wow, Ash. Moved me to tears. You aren’t the only friend I’m watching go through something like this….one is a wife, another a daughter, but my heart is so saddened. You are right, we must choose to say ‘blessed be YOUR name.’ Even in the midst of the pain. I won’t stop praying for your family.

    May 7th, 2009 at 9:42 pm

  46. Valerie aka Mamalovelock says:

    One of my favorite songs! It is so true. I’ll be praying for you.

    Happy Mothers Day!

    May 10th, 2009 at 2:02 pm

  47. Kristi says:

    Blessed be the name of the LORD! Amen to this post, Ashleigh. You are leaving a well in the valley for those who are walking behind you.

    Praying for your family nightly!

    ~Kristi

    May 14th, 2009 at 8:58 pm

  48. Jen says:

    All my life, I was my daddy’s girl.

    I haven’t seen my dad for 5 and a half years. Within that, I’ve spoken to him perhaps 3 times. I understand your feeling of “that’s not my father”. I felt that the last time I saw him. I saw a recent picture of him about a year ago and hardly recognised him. My youngest two children have never met him. The two above them were only just born the only time they met him. Troy also doesn’t remember him very well.

    It saddens me deeply. I miss my daddy.But I’ve come to terms with it. Our relationship would never be the same again anyway, and I can’t settle for anything less.

    Praying for you sweetie, with an empathetic heart.

    May 16th, 2009 at 12:20 am

  49. Girly says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I left you a little blog award on my blog. :)

    May 28th, 2009 at 11:04 am

  50. ~~Deby says:

    This is a tragedy…to life…and love and the sanctity of marriage..and what committment is..and what is worse..in the past 10 or so years..I have seen similiar out here..in families I never thought this would happen too….it is heartbreaking..family breaking..but it will not break our FAITH in HIM….
    Choice…about choice..yes…I think…HE did that for you…and your mom and brother…
    but you will make it..and somehow..GOD has a way of working out the details…and I don't know how…but HE does…
    Deby
    Washington state

    July 4th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

  51. Hillary Hipps says:

    Hello, you don't know me and I don't really know you. (how is that for an introduction!) This post was sent to me by a dear friend and I just HAD to comment.

    I am 4th oldest of 11 children 9 of which are at home full time. Mom left 2 years ago and since that time we have fought one battle after another with the climax, so far, being my step-mother turning traitor and leaving a few weeks ago. Just these past 3 weeks have been so hard as I watched my world crumble around me… again. Half my siblings are in a different part of the country being detained unlawfully while our fight to get them back rages on.
    Your post was so encouraging and exactly what I needed to hear.
    It IS my choice, happiness is a choice! Thankfulness is a choice! And much to my chagrin , forgiveness is a choice. Bitterness is a choice. I have been so blessed and I know it! However yes, we have had it pretty rough for a while, but that is nothing to regret! This is an incredible opportunity to serve, love, learn, and grow.
    God is still God, and I LOVE that!

    Thank you for sharing your heart, it helped mine!
    I think I am going to go off and have a good cry now…

    PS I hope that made at least some sense!

    August 19th, 2009 at 9:14 am

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