Losing It Contest

Iraq Journey

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Telling Them

March 1, 2010

It was time to tell them. To hope they’d understand.

Sitting on the couch, the four of us, cuddled close. We tried to explain.

We tried to smile.

“Daddy’s going to be far away. He’s going to do really nifty cool Marine stuff. He gets to ride on a bus and an airplane!”

Where is he going? Are we not going to see him anymore?

“Do you remember when Daddy went to Iraq when you were smaller? This place is close to Iraq. It’s called Afghanistan. Can you say Afghanistan?”

I don’t like those words! Our three year old furrowed his brow. Those are bad words!

Our two year old buried his head in Daddy’s shoulder. No go, Daddy. Stay home.

Their daddy’s rich brown eyes were glassy.

Daddy’s going to fight the bad guys, boys.”

Fight giants, Daddy? The two year old’s eyes were wide.

Will you be home when I get four, Daddy?

“No, Daddy won’t be home for your fourth birthday. No, not Christmas, either. But when you turn five, it’ll mean it’s almost time for Daddy to come home.”

But I’m not three. I’m not four either. I’m 21 now. I’m big and I’m going to go fight bad guys, too.

Help you, Daddy. Take mine sword!

“You have to stay here, guys. You have to take care of Mommy.”

No, Daddy. The three year old curled into a ball under Daddy’s arm. His little shoulders shaking and small voice broken with sobs.

No, Daddy.  The two year old stood on Daddy’s leg and wrapped his arms around Daddy’s neck, summoning all his toddler strength and squeezing hard.

My Marine looked at me over the heads of these, our precious ones, part of both of us. Our love displayed in the form of two little boys. One looks like him and acts like me. The other looks like me and acts like him. Binding us together for the rest of our days.

The moment, silent, still.

My throat closed so tightly, it threatened to suffocate me.

Is this really happening again, my beloved?


I’d like to give another family close to the military—whether you are the family, you are close to a Marine, Soldier, Airman or Sailor, or you know a military family who could be encouraged—a duo of books that have touched a tender spot in my heart.

The first is one I picked up at a library book sale months ago. I read it alone during nap time later that day and couldn’t stop the tears.

The book is simply called Daddy’s In Iraq, But I Want Him Back.

It was our story, in someone else’s words.

But really, it was the story of any family who has been through deployment. Because it’s not just the spouse or the parent who goes to war. The family left on the homefront is fighting a battle all their own, and just as important.

The second is Rain On Me, a powerful book of love-filled words by my sweet friend  Holley Gerth. She gifted me with a copy of her devotional a few weeks ago when I was in Nashville and I read it through, cover to cover, in two days. The gentle truths were written in the midst of a personal storm—and I couldn’t soak them up fast enough.

Holley has graciously offered a copy of her beautiful book to a reader here, and I’ve also secured a copy of Daddy’s In Iraq But I Want Him Back. We’d like to bless a family in or close to the military with this set of books. They are sure to be a treasure to whomever holds them in their hands.

To win the duo, simply leave the name of a military service member or family you love (even if–especially if–that family is your own) along with their branch of service. I’d like to make a list of these people, whether or not they’ve been through ten deployments or none, and keep them in prayer over the coming months. I’m not going to get gimmicky on you, because that’s not the point of this giveaway, but if you tweet about this and let me know you did so, you’ll get an extra entry.

I know you’ll be blessed.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


  1. Melanie says:

    My husband – Wayne – is a sailor. We haven’t had to face deployment yet, but I imagine we will at some point. Sometimes he talks about going IA (to fight the bad guys, to get promoted, to get warfare pins) and I have to remind him of the things in your post, the things we’d go through. Ohh, my heart aches for you Ashleigh, and those sweet boys of yours. It’s almost too hard to even read a post like this.

    March 1st, 2010 at 5:16 am

  2. LeAnna says:

    Praying Jesus holds all four of you close over the next year. I know He does, and always has, but I’m praying extra grace upon you and the boys this go around…

    March 1st, 2010 at 5:28 am

  3. Christine says:

    As I’m wiping my tears, I’m saying another prayer for your family. There are no words, really. I understand, and I’m praying!

    Thank you for writing these posts and for sharing your heart. My husband will be gone A LOT starting real soon here, so reading about how you are helping your boys through it is so helpful. Gives me ideas for helping our son, Tyler. Other’s personal experiences and advice can be so helpful in tough situations like these. Thank you!

    My husband, Daniel is a pilot in the Air Force. I’m so thankful for him and proud of him for his desire to “fulfill the mission” and serve our country.

    Please tell John “thank you”, from one military family to another and let him know that he will be in our prayers daily.

    March 1st, 2010 at 5:47 am

  4. Courtney says:

    My friend Meghan’s husband, Mike, is in the Army. He was deployed to Iraq for 15 months and is getting ready to go back, I think this time to Afghanistan. He had a very rough deployment the first time and the things he experienced have wreaked havoc on their family since his return. Please, please be praying for them. Her blog is http://kirbymmi.blogspot.com/.

    March 1st, 2010 at 5:54 am

  5. Christian @ Modobject at Home says:

    Oh… my heart broke from reading about two precious, little broken hearts. It’s so hard for them to understand, and yet they keenly feel.

    Thank you for sharing the gut-wrenching parts, Ashleigh. It is especially important for those of us who aren’t closely connected to the military to see the raw pain of your journey.

    March 1st, 2010 at 6:06 am

  6. kaira says:

    It’s always good to start crying before you get out of bed, right?

    March 1st, 2010 at 6:20 am

  7. kaira says:

    I also meant to say I’m keeping you all in preyer today, this day of check-in. And all the days of waiting to follow. I hope they are rich in love and memory making and smiles and laughter and all the things your hearts need before the “Go” comes. (Hugs)

    March 1st, 2010 at 6:22 am

  8. Allison says:

    I want you to know that although I do not know you, this post hurt my heart. I do not take lightly your sacrifice nor John’s for that matter. I will be praying for all of you during this time and please let John know that my family thanks him. Honestly there isn’t enough thanks but we will remember to value our freedoms that much more. Praying!

    March 1st, 2010 at 6:26 am

  9. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

    I’m crying for your kiddos – and for both of you, having to tell them. My heart hurts for you, but I’m also so very thankful for the sacrifice that you’re all making. Thank you.

    March 1st, 2010 at 6:39 am

  10. Becca - Our Crazy Boys says:

    I’m so sorry that you have to go through this, and so thankful to your husband (and you) for doing this for us.

    I have a dear friend who is on his 3rd trip to a war zone in 5 years. He has 2 little boys and an amazing wife that lives down the street, and I would so appreciate it if you put their name – The Myllo family – in your drawing.

    March 1st, 2010 at 7:14 am

  11. Jessica @ Life as I See It says:

    This brought tears to my eyes – I have been praying for you all and especially your dear boys. I was wondering if my boys could send your boys some mail? They are similar to your boys ages and they love mail and I was thinking the other night that it would be nice for them to start “writing” mail to other people, apart from grandma ;)

    I have someone I would like to nominate, but I will send you the details privately – if you respond with a yes or no about the mail I will email you back about my person :)

    March 1st, 2010 at 7:18 am

  12. Mel says:

    Oh Ashleigh. Praying for you all so so often.

    March 1st, 2010 at 7:40 am

  13. abbyleigh says:

    i don’t need to enter, just want to say – my heart is heavy for your precious little family as you go through this again. i hope you find beautiful flowers spring up in the dry ground of loneliness and that your boys find some peace in the daddy-less time.

    March 1st, 2010 at 7:42 am

  14. Mary Lucas says:


    I don’t know which is harder, having them old enough to understand or too young to where they don’t know why daddy left. It has always been my fear that Tyson will think daddy just left us, last night he asked me to call daddy, if only it was that easy to call satellite phones, HA!!!
    I will be praying for you guys as you go through this and for John as well.

    With love,

    March 1st, 2010 at 7:51 am

  15. Kirsten says:

    Weeping tears of identification, and of empathy for your family. What a post! And what a conversation to have to have with little people.

    Please keep my brother – Major Jonathan Schneider USMC – and his wife & boys in yr prayers as well.

    March 1st, 2010 at 8:20 am

  16. Holley Gerth says:

    Thanks so much for letting me be part of this journey with you and your readers. I’m honored and praying for all of you…

    March 1st, 2010 at 8:51 am

  17. Denise says:

    My husband is an Air Force Navigator. We’ve been through 4 deployments in 2 years (they’re 70 days each). BUT I am asking that the book go to my friend, Susi, whose husband is a SSgt in the army, deployed currently for 12 months, after a 15 month deployment in 2007. She’s pregnant with her 2nd child, due in May. She’s such an uplifting Godly woman, and I can’t even imagine what you and she are going through. If it helped you, I know it should help her. Thank you for doing this!
    Her blog is: http://benandsusi.blogspot.com/

    March 1st, 2010 at 8:53 am

  18. Leah says:

    Okay Ashleigh.. this post made me cry. *nearly chokes* Knowing you’re going to be separated from your beloved husband, and children’s Daddy by far away seas and the call to war has to be such a raw, painful, hard thing to face. May Jesus surround ALL of you with a real sense of His peace and presence during these days and the days to come… and knit each of your hearts together in a deeper, CLOSER measure.

    March 1st, 2010 at 9:31 am

  19. Laura says:

    We haven’t gone through a deployment yet. But our time is coming really soon. My husband, Brandon, is a SSGT in the Air Force. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s going to be like being separated. Our kids are almost the same age as yours. We have an almost 4yr old and a 2yr old. I definitely will be thinking and praying for you! *hugs*

    March 1st, 2010 at 9:36 am

  20. Kelly @ Love Well says:

    I’m sitting here, imagining that gut-wrenching scene in my mind, and it’s all I can do not to bawl. There is nothing sadder than deployment day and nothing happier than seeing the ships come home. (When I worked at KNSD, I had to take those tapes into a private room to preview them, because I knew I’d end up in an ugly cry, either way. It’s so touching.)

    You and your family will be in my CONSTANT prayers, Ashleigh.

    March 1st, 2010 at 9:53 am

  21. Melissa Brotherton says:

    I’m trying to hold back tears because I’m in a doctor’s office. You are so strong and I’m praying for your family as you prepare for this time apart. God bless your husband for the sacrifice he’s making to keep my family safe. God bless you and your boys for the sacrifice you also are making.

    March 1st, 2010 at 9:58 am

  22. Robin Arnett says:

    My prayers and tears are with you.
    Gabrielle’s husband Greg is scheduled to leave in Aug. I would covet your prayers for her. my prayer is that she would become involved in the church you attended or a church!
    Thanks for sharing your life and heart with us.

    March 1st, 2010 at 10:37 am

  23. Lennette Daniels says:

    Hi. I am not entering for the giveaway. I just wanted to say a couple things to you. One, thank you!! Thank you and your family for all the sacrifices you make by being away from your husband. Two, I will keep you and your family in my prayers and will be praying for a safe return to you!!

    March 1st, 2010 at 10:51 am

  24. Amy says:


    What a tough situation…I can’t even imagine. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers during the next months – thank you for your sacrifice!

    I know these books would help my sister as they prepare for upcoming deployments. Her husband’s name is Dan and he’s a pilot in the Air Force.

    Praying for you, John, and your sweet boys…

    March 1st, 2010 at 10:52 am

  25. Ginger says:

    Today I can’t comment…I needed to right a post http://inthelifeofmissp.blogspot.com/2010/03/touch-of-reality.html for you!

    Praying My Bloggie Friend praying!

    March 1st, 2010 at 10:54 am

  26. Ashley says:

    My friends T.J. & Angela are getting ready for his first deployment with the Army…a year in Iraq. They have three little girls close in age to mine, that I’ve just been thinking about so much. I’m always so amazed by military families; such an amazing calling.

    March 1st, 2010 at 11:31 am

  27. Samantha R says:

    Praying each and every day for you all! Telling them breaks my heart… for the boys, for you and for John. I just can’t imagine what it’s like to acknowledge that. And how can one possibly ‘prepare’ for something like this…

    March 1st, 2010 at 12:59 pm

  28. April says:


    March 1st, 2010 at 1:51 pm

  29. Ana says:

    My heart goes out to you and the boys Ash! I wish I was closer so I could keep you company in this hard time!!

    P.S. Your links in this post aren’t working very well. :) I think you have too many http://’s in the front of your links.

    March 1st, 2010 at 2:54 pm

  30. Musings of a Housewife says:

    Well that was a tear jerker, thanks a lot! ;-)

    I can’t IMAGINE having to tell my kids Daddy is going away for a year. My heart goes out to you and your family, and I am so thankful for men like your husband and families like yours who make sacrifices like this to keep us and safe and make the world a better place.

    March 1st, 2010 at 6:27 pm

  31. Janelle Miller says:

    I definitely didn’t make it through that without full on tears flowing! My heart aches right along with yours, knowing the horrible feelings and emotions. I can’t relate though, to having to explain something like this to my kids. I am praying for each of you as you each deal with this in a different way. Those books sound like great blessings especially at a time like this! I’m praying that the boys will see how REAL God is to keep their Daddy safe and to be with them and Mommy while he’s gone!

    March 1st, 2010 at 8:40 pm

  32. B. Meandering says:

    Wow! I stumbled on your blog awhile back and I immediately knew yours was a “keeper.” I’m a high school English teacher and I like your unique writing style.
    Today was a rough day at school–tomorrow is loaded down well into the night. Then I come home to an empty house except for the cats. My husband lives 4 hours away and I see him twice a month–two more weeks until the next time (job situation). Then I read your blog tonight and felt incredibly humbled. I have it tough? Yea, right!!! You touched my soul and left an imprint. Thank you for doing so. I will lift you and yours up in prayer daily.
    A “humongous” thank you to your husband for all that he does for our country (and also to you and your boys for the sacrifice you all make).

    March 1st, 2010 at 9:43 pm

  33. Carrie says:

    Oh Ashleigh….. sending my love and prayers……

    March 2nd, 2010 at 7:22 am

  34. To Think Is To Create says:

    I’ve been trying to comment since yesterday…I have no useful words. I wish I could live next door and hug you through all these months to come. I need your hugs too (in case you think I’m being selfless — I want the hugs more.) ;)

    Praying for you…

    (I already have Holley’s book, so no need to include me in the giveaway)

    March 2nd, 2010 at 10:21 am

  35. What are you reading? | Young Ladies Christian Fellowship says:

    [...] then head over to Chantel’s blog to hear about how much she loves books.  Also, Ashleigh has a book giveaway for military families over at Heart & Home. Come back to ylcf.org tomorrow for the first book giveaway!  And remember, when you order books [...]

    March 2nd, 2010 at 11:28 am

  36. Tricia says:

    Hi Ashleigh. Just wanted to leave you a little note telling you that i am praying for you and your precious babies. I hope whoever gets the wonderful gift of these touching books will read their words and gain some insight, whatever it might be, wherever it might lead. I just love reading your posts. I always look forward to seeing you on my Reader. And please know, as I’m sure many have said (and many that know you much better than I), I am here. If you need anything, I am here.

    March 2nd, 2010 at 5:16 pm

  37. Tricia says:

    And don’t include me in the giveaway. I just wanted to tell you I’m with you in prayer, and you’re in my thoughts.

    March 2nd, 2010 at 5:17 pm

  38. Dani says:

    Oh my. I couldn’t help but cry.

    All I can say is that I’m praying for you all! And that me, and my husband, and our families are soooooo very grateful to your hubby, your kids and you for the sacrifice you are all making for us.

    God bless you and get you through this hard time. May it be over quickly and he be back in your arms again soon :)

    March 3rd, 2010 at 8:54 am

  39. Mab says:

    My husband and soldier, Dan is currently near the end of his second deployment in Iraq- we expect him home in about 6-7 weeks. Our boys are 7.5 and nearly 6 years old. We’re expecting our girl in June- conceived during my husband’s two week leave with us.

    March 3rd, 2010 at 12:23 pm

  40. Shari says:

    My heart is heavy for your family. The tears are flowing. Please give John the biggest thank you you can muster from our family. Praying for your family daily.

    March 3rd, 2010 at 4:26 pm

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