Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart



I feel it all around me. It truly is a wonderful thing.

So many days I have longed for it. So many days I have prayed for it to come. So many days I have struggled with hurt, with doubt, with fear.

Last night as we walked into our home I could see it on her tiny face too. Her eyes tell me so much more than words could ever say. She recognized it. Her house. Her home. She is so tired and weak, but it didn't stop her from patting my shoulder as we walked into her nursery as if to say, "Thanks mommy for bringing me back."

The children each in their own beds was such a wonderful sight. Blake in his reading, Allie in hers journaling, and Ashley in hers dreaming. That is a feeling of peace. Knowing where all of your children are. Knowing they are safe. Knowing they are just footsteps away from me if I long to peek in at them.

"When was the last time we were all in the house in our own beds?", Dave asked.

"September 25th." I answered. It was silent for a moment, and I listened to the hum of our ceiling fan as I tried to look around our bedroom in the dark.

"Did you ever think you would bring her back home?"

The tears welled up inside of me as I prepared my answer. "No. I really did not think that she would make it back home." I silently cried myself to sleep as I felt an overwhelming release.

How ugly it is for me to have to admit that. I hide it deep inside of me and only share it with the Father. I was scared. I was unsure. I was struggling. The memories of some of the events over the past 8 months haunt me, but there is another side to those memories. There is a testimony that was being molded. There is joy that came from the sorrows. There are victories that came from our defeats. He was always there and He was always working.

Even though some things continue to make me unsure and even though some things around the house are not complete, I still feel peaceful inside. Its so hard to describe, but all I can share with you is that my world seems right. My Ashley is home. I am home. Our family is home, and it is such a nice place to be.

Ash slept the majority of today. Her liver numbers are still a little out of whack and we don't know why. Her WBC's are very low, but I am praying for her to begin recovering soon. It is so difficult to watch her struggle every three weeks, but I am so thankful that she only has to go through it one more time. I am ready for chemo to be over, and I pray that she never has to experience it again. Thank you so much for checking on our tiny pickle today. Good night and God bless you. Trish


"Theres no place like home"

After being away from it for 9 months I can assure that there has never been a truer statement. I have missed home so much. Tonight we will travel into town to our little yellow house. The little yellow house that God has allowed us to make our home.

I will be the first to say that I have an incredible set of in-laws. We are so grateful they have allowed us to stay in their home. We have laughed here. We have cried here. We have relaxed here. We have prayed here. We have raised our children here over the last 9 weeks. The kids are sad to be leaving. They think our timing really stinks. School is out. The pool is ready. The fish are biting down at the pond. The lazy days of summer are here and Blake and Allie's favorite place to hang out during the summer is grandma and graypa's house. To tell you the truth I think that grandma is sad too. She had enjoyed our chaos, our noise, and our mess. All of those things mean that Ash is here for her to cuddle and love on everyday. When the other is gone so is our Ashley. What a blessing grandma and graypa have been. I love to come into the room and find them laying on the floor next to Ashley's pallet. Every evening they play with her and encourage her to learn new things. It is really fun watching them be grandparents to her. Our children are really blessed. Grandma tried to convince us to leave Ash here with her tonight, but were not having any of that. She is on her way to her house, to her nursery, to her crib. I can't believe it!

Ash crashed today. She had been awake since Thursday evening with NO sleep. About 3:30 this morning she drifted off to sleep and hasn't been awake for more than 2 or 3 minutes at a time all day. Her physical therapist came out to see her progress today and I'm not sure Ash even opened her eyes. She groaned and grunted a little, but I think she was convincing herself that Ms. Sue was just a bad dream. We are waiting for morning labs to check on her liver enzymes. I am almost positive that her WBC have dropped today. She went from an abnormal high, to a low, to a nothing. She is tired, and weak, and drained. It will take a couple of days for her to bounce back. She continues to smile her sweet smile at us all, but she just doesn't have the energy to play today.

Tonight I will linger extra long as I tuck the children into bed. Their rooms are all ready. Their beds are all clean. I know they will sleep well surrounded by all that makes our house their home. I can't wait to lay next to them on their beds and see which windows of their hearts they open for us tonight. I can't wait to kiss those precious foreheads and smell the sweetness of their heads. I can't wait to rock our baby in her nursery tonight and to sing to her as she sleeps. I can't wait to lay down next to Dave in our bed and hold his hand as we visit about our day. God has blessed us so very much and my heart overflows with gratitude. Life is precious, it is sweet, it is good, and it is blessed.

I will visit with you all in the morning. Take care my friends and may you be surrounded by your own sweet gifts tonight. Thank you for loving our baby and for praying for her today. Good night and God bless you. Trish


Drinking it in

Its been a crazy day, but in the midst of it all I found myself observing a humming bird. I sat outside the hospital waiting on some lab results and in front of me appeared the tiniest, most amazing creature. The rain was falling all around, but it didn't stop my little hummingbird from drinking in all the nectar it could find. It hummed from flower to flower enjoying the sweetness of the garden and paid no mind to the rain drops or to me. What a gift!

As I watched the little bird I thought about my Ashley Kate. Such a tiny gift from God who is determined to drink up every bit of joy and sweetness she can find in her life. Her spirit amazes me. Her strength encourages me. Her determination to enjoy everything inspires me. She may be struggling with the side effects from her chemotherapy, but just like the rain that fell around my little hummingbird today she pays it no mind. I love her so much and she brings such perspective to my life. She is a gift!

Our morning began with a call from Omaha. Concern over yesterday's labs was our topic. We repeated the labs this morning and I have tried not to become overwhelmed with worry. Her white blood cell count is jumping all around. This should be her "nadir" period with a severe drop in WBC that causes her to become extremely weak, tired, and susceptible to infection. Instead of registering low they came back very high. How can this be while undergoing chemo? In addition to the confusing WBC her liver enzymes are very high. Extremely concerning to find them so out of range. She continues to stay awake and tremor and her nausea is really severe. If she sits up she throws up. This has caused her to have to lay down for most of today. Rather than fussing about her predicament she has used it to her advantage. I actually saw her grabbing hold of her toes this morning. This is so huge! She is also rolling from side to side and has gotten so close to rolling all the way over. She is clapping her hands and playing patty cake today. She is giggly and happy and smelly. She has thrown up so much that it has become difficult to keep her clean. I grabbed her little feet to place kisses on her toes and almost threw up myself. Oops, we missed the fact that she hit her feet with the last episode. She will be getting a very thorough bath in just a few minutes.

In between my frequent trips of running back and forth between grandma's house, the hospital, and our house, I did manage to get us closer to moving home. Only two more rooms to rid of sheet rock dust and then we will be good to go. I can't wait to take Ash home. She is going to be so excited to see it again. I am so looking forward to it.

I hope to get back to my regular blogging schedule once we make it home. Things have gotten so crazy this past week trying to get the house ready. Thank you for your patience and your continued presence. Your prayers for our sweet Ashley Kate are so appreciated. I am praying for her numbers to return to a more stable and reliable place so that we can all relax. The liver numbers are the most concerning at this time. I pray that your week is blessed and that your children are as happy as ours to have a little break from their classes. Blake and Al have enjoyed sleeping in the last two days. Good night and God Bless you all. Trish


I'm no Cinderella...

... but if I had worked any longer my head WOULD have turned into a pumpkin! I have been scrubbing floors on my hands and knees all day long. I don't have any nails left and my fingers were actually bleeding. The good news is that half of the house is ready to live in and in two more days I think we will be sleeping there. I am so excited!

The real princess is having a yucky night. Her tremors are really bad and she began throwing up early this morning. She has not slept since Thursday and she is so tired. You would expect her to be grumpy and fussy, but true to her spirit she is full of joy. She smiles and giggles. She plays with her toys and entertains anyone who is near. She amazes me. I will be so glad when her chemotherapy is complete. As I watch her play, I try to imagine what she will be doing once she no longer has to take this medication. I think she is really going to surprise us with all she can do.

Even though we are exhausted from the push to get home this week, we are so blessed and thankful. As I hung the pictures back on our walls in the living room I had such a feeling of gratitude well up inside of me. I was thankful for everything! To see my favorite black and white portraits of the kids hanging all around me just made it seem like home again. I was even thankful to have those floors to scrub. The Lord knows how much I hate carpet and all the hidden germs inside of it, so He blessed me with a home that has hard wood floors. (You know I must be sleep deprived if I am thankful to be scrubbing floors!) As I helped Dave set the toilet in the kids bathroom I became thankful. I know it sounds ridiculous to be thankful for toilets, but when you have been without them for any period of time the sound of that tank filling up after flushing is a beautiful thing. The only rooms left to be detailed are the bedrooms. I am hoping to get mine and Dave's finished tomorrow complete with fresh sheets, and then I will do the girl's room and Blake's on Wednesday. By Thursday morning I should be packing our bags and moving from grandma's house to our house. Did I mention to you how excited I am?

I am so looking forward to taking Ash into her nursery. She has been away from her crib for 215 days. She used to love to lay in there and watch the butterfly on her ceiling fly around and listen to her princess lullabyes. It is her favorite room in the house and she loves to sit on her rug and play. I think we will spend our entire first day in her room just getting re-acquainted with all of her things.

I can hear her crying in the other room(her Blues Clues must be over) so I am going to go rock her for a little while. Thank you for praying for her today. It means the world to me to know that you are out there lifting her up before the Father. Thank you again. Good night and God Bless. Trish


Its been 8

I looked at the calendar this morning and realized that it has now been 8 months. He has given us another 8 months with our sweet girl. I thanked Him for the last 8 months, the last 8 weeks(which He allowed us to spend at home with our family), the last 8 days, the last 8 hours, the last 8 minutes, the last 8 seconds, and the last 8 moments. I never want to forget that her life, every single moment of it, has been a gift from the Father. I never want to fail to remember that each moment I spend with my Ashley has been a moment that our donor family has spent without their child. Life is so precious and it is so fragile. There is not a moment of it that I want to waste. I want Ash to grow up realizing that each second of her life has been given so that she would live it fully. He has so much for her to do, to learn, to experience.

She has had a great day! This has been the best 2 week stretch for her. Since being released from the hospital on Mother's Day she has done so well. Each day she learns more and more. You can see her taking in the world around her. She listens and watches everything. We all love her so very much. She is sweet and adorable. Yesterday she started tilting her head from side to side and making the cutest gestures. It is so cute! She has rediscovered her thumb and likes to have it in her mouth at all times. Tonight she actually rolled her pink soccer ball back and forth with Allison and grandma. She spent some time on her tummy and rocking back and forth on her knees without screaming (that is real progress!). She has NO plans of sleeping tonight. She loves to sit up and giggle all night long. If we close our eyes she growls at us. I am so thankful there are three of us taking turns with her. If you tell her to, "Shhh, go night night" she just laughs and laughs. She thinks everything is funny. She has not started throwing up from her chemotherapy yet and we are all crossing our fingers hoping she might escape it this round. Wouldn't that be a blessing! Life with our sweet Ashley Kate is just too sweet.

We worked some really long hours at the house today and didn't come home until 11:00. We are making progress and I feel us inching our way closer and closer. We encountered some difficulties, but are determined not to let them keep us from moving home. Its just going to take a little extra work. Thankfully the office is closed tomorrow and we will have all day to work together. Tonight Dave and I sat on the living room floor eating a taco together. We were surrounded by a mess but we were together. It was really enjoyable to sit and talk about how much fun it is going to be once we are all home. Ash and I have only spent 20 nights in our home in the last 9 months and I have so missed it. Just knowing that we are so close is making me happy. The first night is going to be the best!

I am pretty tired and in need of a shower, but I wanted to post since I have been away from the computer all day. Thanks so much for continuing to check on our sweet baby. She is so happy and I know she feels the love that you put into your prayers for her. You have made such a difference in her life and I will forever be grateful to each one who has loved and prayed for my sweet girl. Good night and may the Father grant you a peaceful rest. Take care. Trish


Home Coming

I am so tired, but so excited! It looks as though we may actually be celebrating our Home Coming by Thursday evening. If all goes according to my schedule(which it rarely ever does) then the floors will be done on Monday, the air system and vents will be done Monday, the cleaning crew will come in to help me start on Monday and then again on Wednesday. We should all be together in our house by Thursday. How nice it will be for Dave to come in from the office to our home that night. I can hardly wait!

Dave and I spent the day working on electricity, painting, and cleaning floors. The kids all hung out with Grandma. Ash has her days and nights really mixed up. She finally closed her eyes this morning just as the sun was coming up. That makes three nights in a row that she has decided to play instead of sleep. Hopefully when her prednisone decreases on Tuesday we will be able to get her to sleep at night time again. She woke about lunch time and then quickly went back down for a long afternoon nap. Grandma said she was determined to keep her awake, but in the end Ash was sleeping soundly in Grandma's lap. She continues to have really bad tremors, but she is smiley and happy. I expect her counts to start dropping by tomorrow and she will probably start getting nauseated too. Once she gets through the "yuckies" this week then she will only have to do it one more time. I am really looking forward to completing her chemotherapy treatments.

I wish you all could see her. She is the sweetest, happiest, silliest baby. I just love her so much. Ashley brings so much joy into our lives. Even when she is keeping us up at night she has a way of making us smile. Dave stayed up with her last night and he couldn't help but smile as he told me of all her "nonsense". Every time he would close his eyes she would start to growl at him. Then he would pop them open and she would giggle out loud. This went on for hours. I can hear her in the other room grumbling at her toys right now. She has no idea that we are going to try and make her go to bed in just a couple of hours, but once she figures it out then the games will begin.

Blake is wanting me to play a round of pirate dice and bake him some cookies tonight. Allie is needing some help in her new believers book so I am going to go and hang out with them before its time to tuck them in. Dave and Ash are busy working on the PT mat. It has been another day full of blessings as we work together raising this family that God has given us. I am really looking forward to blogging from our house soon. I think I'll even post a few pictures of it once we move back home. Thanks so much for loving our Ashley. You are such a blessing to us. Good night and God bless you. Trish


Baby Steps

Hard work. That's all there is to it. For our sweet Ashley to learn to take those first few baby steps this is what it will take. Today she stood(weight bearing) on her little feet for the first time in her life. It was painful, but it was BEAUTIFUL! She is working so very hard. There are many tears (from her and her from us), but the reward will be worth it. As we have learned over the last couple of years there may be pain involved in what you are called to do, but the Father is there willing to equip you with the strength that you will need. We saw her do things today that we were not sure if we would ever see. She held herself up on her arms, she went from a seated position(with a lot of help from Mommy and Ms. Sue), and she stood on her feet. We are so proud! Today was a success in the life of our sweet Ashely Kate. With a lot more hard work she just might learn to take those baby steps some day. As soon as we let her sit back down she was all smiles. I am so thankful for the spirit God has given to her. Her strength and beauty continue to bless us on a daily basis. Thank you for your continued prayers on her behalf. She still has a long way to go, but I believe she is going to get there. Take care. Trish


All Night Long

She's ready. We're not. All night long are her intentions. We hope to change her mind. Our sweet Ashley Kate is WIRED! She has no signs of being tired or sleepy or worn out from the day of chemo and travel. She has this twinkle in her eyes that made her daddy say, "Miss party all night long is going to have to party all night long by HERSELF!" He is so tired. Ash kept him entertained until 4:30 this morning and then we all had to be ready to go by 7:30. Tag! Guess who is it tonight? It's me.

I think she did wonderful today. Her tremors and shakes began by 9:00, but she looks fabulous. She kept us laughing and smiling all day. This was her best infusion so far. She usually gets fussy and sleeps through the majority, but today she played, played, played and has yet to close her eyes. The high level of prednisone started this morning and we will be pulling all nighters for the next 5 nights. She won't become nauseated until Sunday night or Monday and then her count will drop and we will start the "yuckies" all over. By next weekend she should be bouncing back and then on the up swing until we go back on June 14th for our last cycle. I love those words," Our last cycle of chemotherapy." I can't wait to get her there. At the conclusion of the next 6 weeks we will schedule our visit to Omaha around the first week of July.

Ash wants to talk so badly. I wish I could show you how funny she looks as she tries and tries to get something to come out of those lips. The expressions she makes are beyond funny. You can see her thinking and concentrating as hard as she can. It doesn't matter to me what she says as long as I can hear that sweet voice again.

It has been a blessed day. We have completed our 5th of 6 cycles of chemotherapy and we are so thankful to be this close to the end. God has brought our Ashley Kate through so much and I know that this is another part of His plan for her life. Why did she get cancer? Why did she require this series of chemotherapy? I really have no idea, but I do know that I want to use it to bring glory to Him. If He can use this to bring other to Him then so be it. Thank you for loving our baby today. Thank you for praying for our baby today. Thank you for your time and your presence. Good night and God Bless. Trish


Quality Time and Clarification

First I want to clarify from my last post that our contractors were not hired to put in our floors, run the electricity, or set our toilets and sinks. After reading it tonight I was afraid that it sounded as if they did not finish the job and that is not true. They did finish what they were hired to do and we are so appreciative of that. They did not finish on time and a few of the things were rushed and not done correctly because of wanting to meet the deadlines they placed on themselves. All in all, minus this evenings nasty phone call, we are happy. I just don't want it to appear as though I am accusing them of not finishing what they were hired to do. Enough said and now I will move on.

Tonight I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my son. It was not planned and came as a very pleasant surprise. Somehow we found ourselves(along with our sleeping Ashley Kate) in the car together just hanging out as we waited for batting practice to begin. The conversations we had ranged from listening to him recite the 53 chapter of Isaiah (which was so beautiful!) to honesty to baseball to the last day of school(only 8 more periods to go!) to friends to sisters to home to baseball again and so much more in between that I couldn't possibly list them all. It was a priceless conversation with my very favorite 11 year old in the whole world. As I listened to him talk to me as if I was one of his baseball buddies I found myself being thankful for this child and for those very moments I was spending with him. While he talked I pictured him the day he was born. I saw him as a baby sleeping in my arms, then as a toddler holding his daddy's hand. Next I could see him the day he became a big brother and the look of pride on that tiny face. I remembered how he looked the day he played in his very first T-ball game and I could still see the stain on his mouth from the sno cone he enjoyed after the game. Blake continued to share with me many, many things that were on his heart and as I continued to listen I couldn't help but try to picture who he would be when the time comes for him to be a man. I pray he becomes a man like his father. When it came time for practice I stayed in the car while I waited and tears filled the brim of my eyes as I thought of how much I love this child. I could hear the crack of the ball on the bat each time he swung and I sat and I tried to engrave the sound into my memory. The day will be here all too soon when he is in college and I will not be there to sit and wait for him. It is because of this knowledge that I gladly sit and wait while he practices for hours on end. It doesn't bother me because I am his mom and I am the one that gets to listen to his chatter about pitch selection and toe lines on the drive home. The time we have together is oh so precious.

By the time we got home my Allison was already in bed so I snuck in and kissed the fore head of the most beautiful girl in the world. I smiled as I smelled the sweet scent of her freshly shampooed hair, and then I went to scoop up my tiniest princess. I placed my Ashley Kate in her jammies and readied her for bed. She is snuggled in next to her daddy and they are giggling about bushes instead of sleeping while I sit here and type. I love the sound of their silliness. To hear Dave playing and loving on that baby is the most beautiful sound in the world. I could sit here and listen to that forever.

Life is good and sweet and beautiful in our family tonight. As I prepare to lay my head down on the pillow there is a smile on my face and on my heart. How I love these people who I get to call mine. My husband, my son, my girls. I am so very blessed. Good night my friends. I will be leaving early in the morning with our Ashley to run over to Dallas for chemotherapy and we pray we will be returning in the evening. I will share with you how her day goes once I arrive home. Your prayers are appreciated and they are so valued. Thank you. God Bless. Trish


Let me first and foremost start this post by saying that there are times when it just doesn't seem to matter how hard you try to do the right thing.

I won't go into the details. I will just tell you that even though my husband paid them more than we agreed to in our contract and even though we have been very patient and understanding he was cussed at, yelled at, and hung up on. Unbelievable! I am still amazed that there are people in this world who feel they can treat others this way. I will never understand this kind of mind set and I don't even want too.

We prayed about the situation. I am comfortable with the way we conducted ourselves. I believe that God will take care of the rest. I could go on and on and on about what has happened, but it is not necessary to speak poorly of them. I will just reserve the right to NOT recommend them to any of my friends. Thank you for praying for us today.

We still have no floors, no electricity, and no sinks or toilets hooked up in our bathrooms, but it will all come in due time. I will be spending the weekend trying to clean the sheet rock mess out of our home and then hopefully we will be able to move in by the first week of June. The good news is that all of my flower beds are in and they are there waiting for us to enjoy their beauty as soon as we move home. I can't wait. All in all we are still blessed and are working very hard at not holding an ill feelings toward others(this is not always an easy thing to do.)

I just wanted to let you know how things went in our meeting. Take care. Trish


Ash just wanted to invite everyone to enjoy lunch with her today. This child loves to eat her baby food. Obviously her manners and etiquette have yet to be learned, but I am working on one skill at a time. At least she knew to come to the table with a matching bib and dress. Can you believe this child is almost 23lbs and is wearing a 2T? She is eating, absorbing nutrition, and growing! I have spent the morning packing up this little one's clothes to send to my sister in law who is expecting her very first princess to be born after those two rowdy boys. We can't wait to meet baby Katelyn!
Ashley received her monthly cytogam infusion this morning and I realized that she only has 3 more to go. Yeah for her. I find it unbelievable that we are approaching her Gotcha Day anniversary, her second birthday, and her transplant anniversary. Time is slipping by and I am determined to make each moment of it count.
Tomorrow we will go to Dallas for chemotherapy and hopefully we will arrive back home before midnight. Only six more weeks to go and then we will scan to see if her tumors have disappeared. I am so proud of her. She has been so sweet and so tough during all of this.
I hope you all are having a wonderful day and I pray you are blessed. Thanks for reading Ashley's story. Take Care. Trish


Trying Times

There have been times in my life when the circumstances that surround me prove to be extremely trying. It is during these periods of my life that I have learned the value of keeping my testimony in tact. I haven't always done it the right way. I will be the first to admit that I have made mistakes and allowed my circumstances to harm my testimony. The price that is to be paid as a result is very costly. Once you have damaged your testimony in front of another it is almost impossible to regain it. I think I have learned from those mistakes that I made, but even though they taught me a lesson I wish that I would have conducted myself so that I would not have done damage to another's opinion of what it means to be a Christian.

As the work on our home comes closer to an end we find ourselves in a difficult situation. We will be meeting with our contractors and doing a final walk through tomorrow and I ask that you please join us in prayer about this meeting. There are some differences that must be worked out before final payment is given and we are NOT confrontational people at all. Our goal is to keep our testimonies in tact, be fair, and be honest. There will be a meeting around 12:30 and I pray that all will end well and the job that was hired to be done professionally will end just that way.

During my Ashley's journey I have faced many difficult situations and along with those difficult situations came some difficult people. Not every one I meet will become a close friend. We all have different personalities and not every personality will be instantly drawn to one another. The important thing is that I treat them all with kindness and respect and that I try to see them as HE sees them. If Christ loves them then so should I. I learned many things about what was truly important in life. The biggest lesson that came to me in all of those circumstances was that my testimony is what will remain once I am gone. People are more important than things and difficult circumstances. I need to let them know that they matter more to me then anything else. Tomorrow as we face a difficult circumstance this will be our goal. The people are more important than the job that was done. If I have to go in and repair broken things or complete unfinished items what does it really matter? What matters is that they see the love of Jesus come through. That's it. Please pray for us. Pray that we will be able to walk away knowing that we have done the right thing and knowing that we did our best to allow them to see Him in us.

There will always be trying times in our lives. There will always be difficult situations that we face, and there will always be opportunities to allow our testimonies to speak for us. I pray tomorrow goes well. Good night and God Bless. Trish

Show and Tell

Our Ashley's life is just that. Show and Tell. It's not about showing all we've done or telling others about how great the journey has been. It's not that at all. Ashley's life is all about showing the goodness of the Lord and telling of His wonderful works. Today we had that opportunity.

Since arriving home from Omaha Allie has been begging for one thing. "Please, come to my school and show Ashley to my friends." I had no idea if this would be a possibility. I continued to tell her it all depends on how Ash is feeling and how she is doing. Guess what? God heard Allie's cry and gave our Ashley one of the best weeks she had had in months. This morning I arranged with her teacher to make a guest appearance. At 8:40a.m. we put on our mask and hair bow and snuck into the kids school. It was such a brief appearance but one I was so pleased to make. These amazing children have prayed for our Ashley every single day of this school year. They have been a support system to Blake and Allison. They have learned how to "bare one another's burdens". They have touched our hearts so deeply with the faithfullness, the love, and the concern they have shown towards our baby. It was my pleasure to stand before their classrooms and tell them of God's miraculous works. I encouraged them to continue praying. Pray for others, pray for those you know and those you don't know, pray whenever your heart is burden for another because God is listening. He is hearing you and He is answering your prayers. The looks on their faces when I shared with them that they had become part of a miracle was absolutely priceless. I will never forget it! In Blake's classroom I watched as tears came into the eyes of these beautiful young girls who have grown to love our Ashley because they are Blake's friends. I was so touched by them.

The school that our children are so blessed to attend has gone above and beyond. They have picked up the pieces for our Blake and Allison as they struggled with the long days while Ash and I were away. The teachers have loved on my children. They have laughed with my children. They have cried with my children. They have encouraged my children, and they have taught my children so much more than math, or history, or literature. They have taught my children what it truly means to be a part of a family of believers. I will NEVER be able to repay these precious teachers and the precious families who attend this school. I trusted them with the hearts of my Blake and my Allison during one of the toughest times of their lives and they did a beautiful job with them. Thank you for loving our family.

Ash has been so sleepy today. I think it is just His way of preparing her body to receive another round of chemo therapy this week. I hate it that I have to take her back and put her through two more rounds, but I just try to stay encouraged as I pray that this is working. I pray that after 6 weeks they will tell us the tumors are gone and that she is in the clear. Only 2 more rounds. Then we will have another chapter in our Ashley's story to write and show and tell the world about His amazing grace and His amazing love for us all.

Thanks so much for checking on our Ashley today. We are on our way to the house to put in a few more hours of work. I will visit with you tonight. Take care and God bless. Trish



In the early morning hours of today I spent some time reading the beginning of our Ashley's Journal. I realize that I was there living it and writing a good portion of it, but there was something that drew me to it. Reading through the entries brought tears to my eyes instantly as I remembered the early days of it when my Ashley was so tiny and fragile, and her future was so uncertain. As I continued on to the day that "the call" came and then into the days of transplant and operation after operation I was overcome by all that the Father brought her through. Obviously by reading my own words I could feel the pain and the fear that we lived, but I also could read past those things and I began to feel the underlying peace and rest that He gave to me. Many of those days were spent wondering what could His plan possibly be for our family and for our tiny little girl. Many of those days I felt surrounded by His arms, by His love, and by His people. Today I felt blessed. I felt encouraged and I felt His presence in her life. I am so glad Dave began this journal and convinced me to write the words that the Father laid on my heart.

As I came across the days that recorded the pain and loss of our precious friends my heart ached. As I came across the days that recorded the good news and events of our friends victories my heart danced. What a journey He has taken us on. Watching my Ashley tonight as she sits and plays I am so thankful that He walked us down this path. It has been the hardest thing we have ever done, but it has also been the most amazing thing we have ever experienced. God has been so very good to us. My Ashley has a very long way to go, but after reading all that He has brought us through I feel renewed and rejuvenated. This morning He reminded me that He is in control of her days, and He does have a plan. Its a beautiful plan.

Blake and Al are fast asleep while my Ashley plays on a pallet in the living room. Dave has gone to bed early, and I sit and remember all that we have been through and wonder what lies ahead. The children are finishing their school year and our home is getting closer and closer to being completed. We are looking forward to summer and all the fun that goes along with it. Most of all I am anticipating our days in our home surrounded by the wonderful chatter and chaos that comes along with raising 3 children. How wonderful it is to be their mom. I wouldn't want to be anything else. Again, I say that God has been good to us. He has given us more than we deserve, more than we asked for, and more than we could have ever dreamed. I am grateful.

Good night my precious friends. You will never know the impact your presence has made in my heart. You are loved and appreciated. Thank you for becoming a part of the archives of my Ashley's story. Take care and God Bless. Trish

So Happy Together...

I LOVE this picture! It was snapped yesterday at the ballfield. Dave and Ash were laying on a blanket and looking at the clouds, the birds, and the trees. You could hear our Ashley squeel with delight each time her daddy would say, "!" or "!" It was so much fun watching them play. You can almost hear them laughing together in this photo. It brings the biggest smile to my face and leaves one on my heart. We are so blessed to have been given this child. Each day we spend with her brings us more and more happiness. All I want is for our Ashley to be happy and to enjoy her life. When I see her laughing with her daddy then I know my prayers have been heard. She is happy and she is living. What a blessing she is to us! Thank you, thank you, thank you for praying for our sweet Ashley Kate. Each morning that we wake to another day with her in it I know that the Father is listening to those who cry out to Him on her behalf. You are such a part of His plan for her life.

Ash turned on her attitude this afternoon for her therapist. She went from our sweet, smiley baby to a grumpy, angry baby in a matter of minutes. She was in no mood to work today. The thing about her physical therapy is that depending on her attitude it can be fun or it can not be fun. Last week she was so sweet and worked with a smile on her face. Today she was not cooperating. Oh, she did her work, but she screamed and cried through the entire thing. She could turn it on or off depending on who was touching her and what position we had her in. As long as she got to do whatever she wanted she was happy. Just try making her roll over or lay on her tummy and WATCH OUT! Dave had to leave because he just wants to rescue her. The grandmas should have left because they were both so sad as they sat on the couch and listened to her cry. Ash kept looking at me wishing I would make Ms. Sue leave, but no such luck. When it comes to therapy somebody has to be the bad guy and today it was mommy. The minute the therapy ended she looked at me as if to say, "Ha! its over and I win." Little does she realize that time was up and she didn't win because on Friday we will be back at it. Someday she will thank me, but that day is not today. She just cuddled up on my lap and went to sleep so she could ignore what just took place. Silly girl.

I am on my way out the door to pick my Ceasar and my Allie. I can't wait to hear how the Olympic games went today. When we come in tonight I will share a picture of Blake in his costume. He was so excited when he woke up this morning and found it laying on the couch. Those late hours into the early morning were SO worth it to see the smile on his face. I hope he enjoyed it.

I pray that you all are having a blessed day. Thanks for checking on our pickle. Take care and God Bless. Trish


Tag...Your it!

This is our code. Dave and I use it almost everyweekend. All we have to say is, "Tag", and we know it is time for the other to step in and take over. I love our relationship and how well we parent together. He is the most wonderful father. Most weekends we spend at the ballpark watching our Blake and our beloved Tarheels slug it out at the plate with their opponents. Ashley loves to be outside. She loves the sights, the sounds, the activity, and the excitement of figuring out all that is going on around her. Our friends all know what she has been through and they are such an encouragement to us. Everyone is so careful and respectful of Ash's immunity issues and they visit with us and with her at a safe distance. Princess Ashley has a carraige that she rides around the park in and according to her it must be moving at ALL times. If the carraige stops she starts letting us know that she would like it to be moving in some direction. This is when Dave and I begin to play "Tag... your it". Its just beautiful the way the game works. We play the game at the house too. For example, last night Ash wanted to play all night instead of sleep. I took the first round and then woke Dave and said,"Tag". He took round 2 and then at 4:00a.m. it was my turn for round 3 which happened to include an ostomy change(lucky me!). I know I am blessed to be married to a man who is so willing to help with the kids. I love that we are not only friends but that we are partners. We are involed together and I think that makes us better parents to our Blake, our Allie, and our Ashley.

We got in tonight about 10:30 and the kids went straight to bed, but Dave stood in the living room floor(with his eyes already closed) and allowed me to work on Blake's Julius Ceasar costume. He stood there sleeping while I wrapped him in fabric to make sure I had everything ready for Blake tomorrow. I really love this guy. When I was finished he grabbed me and hugged me, whispered good night, and secretly hoped not to be tagged again until time to wake in the morning. I don't plan on making him play tonight. He is really tired and has to be at the office early in the morning, but I know that if I needed him he would rise to the occasion and lend me a hand.

Today was very exciting for us. Ash actually staightened her legs and stood on them while Dave was holding her on his lap for the first time since her transplant. We were so proud. She did it 3 times in a row before deciding it was hard work. We were SO encouraged and I can't wait to tell her therapist tomorow. Not only did our Ashley bring us some excitement, but during the championship game tonight our Tarheels were down 2 to 1 in the 4th when Blake took the plate and sailed one over the fence. How exciting! I got to run behind the field and search in the woods for the baseball. We were so happy for him! I am so glad I baked those cookies last night. It always works! We won the game and the tournament 10-2 in the 4th. I was so proud of those guys.

Ash is fussing in the other room and I need to go finish that costume so I suppose I will say goodnight. I just wanted to let you all know that Ash had another really good day and we were so very thankful. We head to Dallas on Thursday for our 5th of 6 cycles. Only 6 more weeks of chemo to go. Yeah, Ash! I am praying to hear the word "REMISSION" very soon. Thanks so much for praying for her today. I hope you enjoyed your weekend. Good night and God Bless. Trish


A Beautiful Day

What a beautiful baby. What a beautiufl day. The weather was beautiful. The drive into Louisiana was beautiful. Our Ashley was beautiful. The Tarheels played beautiful(winning both games 19-3!) . The fellowship with our friends was beautiful and life was just beautiful.

Ash really enjoyed the day outside. She likes to watch the guys run around out on the field. I am so grateful she felt so good today and for the week she was given. She has felt strong and happy. She has spent her days playing, playing and playing. She has laughed more this week then ever before. She is truly a happy girl. She makes all who are around her happy. You can't help but smile when you see our sweet girl. We are so blessed!

Yesterday Ash did so well with her physical therapy. We were very pleased to see what she could do and to hear the encouragement from her therapist. Sometimes the list of what Ash isn't able to do becomes a little overwhelming so it was so nice to listen to Sue talk about her. One of the things she shared with us made me feel so much better. She said that if Ash doesn't learn to walk or talk until she is 4 or 5 or 6 who cares? When she is 24 or 25 or 26 it won't matter that she couldn't do these things as an infant. I am learning to accept that she will do them in His time. When He equips her with the strength that she needs to attain them. If she never does learn these things then I believe that He will equip her in other ways so that she will be able to communicate and be able to become mobile. Either way she will be fine and so will we. Our Ashley will be who He created her to be. She is nothing short of a miracle. I couldn't be prouder of who she is now even if she was already doing them. She is amazing and I love her so very much. We will continue to work hard to help her learn all that she can and then we will watch her grow.

Dave and the kids are in the backyard playing kickball and Ash is watching Nascar in the living room with her graypa (I can hear her trying to convince him to put on an episode of the Backyardigans). I'm going to go bake a few of those chocolate chip cookies so Blake can hit one over the fence tomorrow. It really has been a beautiful day for us all. I pray that yours was just as beautiful. Take care and God Bless. Trish


Thankful Tonight

I am thankful tonight for my sweet Ashley Kate. I am thankful tonight that she is here with us. I am thankful tonight for her life. I am thankful tonight for her special gift that came to her from another who paid such a price to give it. I am thankful tonight for those amazing cheeks. I am thankful tonight that I am surrounded by her laughter. I am thankful tonight to be her mommy. I am thankful tonight that God chose to give her to us. I am thankful tonight to be loved by her. I am thankful tonight to be the one to hold her. I am thankful tonight for each and every person all over the world who has cared enough to pray for this baby girl. I am thankful tonight for each moment that has her in it. I am thankful tonight for her story. I am thankful tonight for all she has taught me. I am thankful tonight that she continues to fight. I am thankful tonight for the good day she was given. I am thankful tonight.

I am thankful tonight for my beautiful Allison. I am thankful tonight to be this young ladies mom. I am thankful tonight for her precious smile. I am thankful tonight for that twinkle in her eye. I am thankful tonight for her bravery. I am thankful tonight that she wanted to wear that beard and mustache. I am thankful tonight she could stand before her class as Ponce De Leon. I am thankful tonight for all of the hard work she put into her speech. I am thankful tonight that I got to be here to see her give it. I am thankful tonight I got to hear her say, "Thanks Mom for my costume." I am thankful tonight for this child that I get to call mine. I am thankful tonight for her health, her heart, and her happiness. I am thankful tonight for who she is. I am thankful tonight that of all the Allison's in this world He chose this one for me. I am thankful tonight to feel her arms wrap around me and give me a squeeze. I am thankful tonight that she has grown and matured into such an amazing young girl. I am thankful tonight that she desires to know Jesus. I am thankful tonight to listen to her pray for those she loves, those she is burdened for, and those she has never even met. I am thankful tonight that she wanted that baby sister so much that she prayed faithfully. I am thankful tonight.

I am thankful tonight for my son. I am thankful tonight for who he is. I am thankful tonight that I get to be the one he calls mom. I am thankful for his passion, his drive, his determination, his purpose. I am thankful tonight for the big brother he chooses to be to his sisters. I am thankful tonight for his leadership. I am thankful tonight for his example. I am thankful tonight for his talents. I am thankful tonight for his friendship. I am thankful tonight he likes to hang out with us. I am thankful tonight for the joy he brings to our family. I am thankful tonight to be here to watch him pursue his dreams. I am thankful tonight I get to wash that uniform for him. I am thankful tonight for his health. I am thankful tonight that he loves the Lord. I am thankful tonight that he is thoughtful. I am thankful tonight that he is kind. I am thankful tonight that he is so cool. I am thankful tonight that he has a heart like his dad. I am thankful tonight that God allows me to parent this amazing kid. I am thankful tonight for his humility. I am thankful tonight to be loved by him. I am thankful tonight.

Where do I turn?

Such sadness overwhelms me this afternoon as I am told of another of our precious friends who has been received into Heaven. How my heart began to ache as I shook my head and prayed that it wouldn't be true. Not this baby. Not this amazing child whom I grew to love so very much. How can this be? I have no answers. I have no words. I only have tears.

Can I just share with you how increbible his family is. They love this child as deeply as I love my Ashley. In the midst of our bad days they were nothing but an encouragement to me. They loved me, they prayed for me, they hugged me, and they shared with me. I have the utmost respect and admiration for these amazing parents. How my heart is aching for them. Please, please pray for my sweet friends as they wake up each day without their baby boy. I wish I could get to them to let them know how much I loved him and how much they mean to us.

When I am forced to say good bye to the tiniest of His creation I have no where else to turn but to Him. He is the giver of all good gifts and this child was a gift. A gift to his family, a gift to his nurses, a gift to his neighbors in the PICU and a gift to all of us who loved him. I don't understand. I don't know why our friends are slipping away from us. I don't have any type of explanation or any words of wisdom. All I do know is that the Father loves them and He is holding them for us.

To my sweet friends I want you to know that you are loved. You will never be forgotten. You are being lifted up to our Heavenly Father. My arms and my heart ache for you. May God comfort you during this time. I loved him dearly and so did my Ashley. Thank you for sharing him and his journey with us. We will forever be changed. Take care. Trish


Today is a very exciting day. This is the day that Dave and I will travel to the school and watch our Allison, aka Ponce De Leon, give a speech. The third grade class has done a unit on Famous Explorers and the children all chose who they would like to do a report on and give a speech about. Why did she choose Ponce De Leon? One good reason. She told me she thought it would be fun to wear a beard and a mustache. We are so looking forward to going. She has practiced and practiced. Last night she stood in the living room in complete costume and gave us a preview. She was so funny! I can't wait. She called this morning to make sure we were coming and to remind us to bring the camera and video camera.

I wish I would have video taped her last night as she practiced. She was tripping in her "explorer" shoes and was having to pause in the middle of her speech to pull up her pants. The large explorer's hat complete with giant blue feather kept falling into her eyes and she couldn't see her outline. Her beard and mustache was slipping into her mouth and she would have to re adjust before proceeding. At one point she stopped and said, "I wonder how Ponce kept his pants from falling down?" It was priceless and cracked us up. She is really excited. I promise to post a picture of our Ponce De Leon tonight. You are going to love it!

Our little Ashley will be exploring the backside of her eyelids( I hope) while her grandma rocks her this afternoon. She has been the silliest baby today. When Ash decides to laugh she really laughs. There is no half way with her. We have spent our morning playing on the floor just being silly. Oh, how I love this girl. I went to switch the laundry and heard her laughing so loud I had to sneak up behind her and listen. She was happily entertaining herself while I was away. She has started snacking on her fingers and loves to make them nice and slobbery. Then she wants to share them with me. So not only is her face nice and slobbery today, but mine is too. Her aim is not that great so she slimes me on my glasses, my nose, my mouth, and my chin. It makes her so happy to share. Right now she is sitting on my lap and listening to the tap, tap, tap of the keys. She is actually behaving except for the sliming thing. She just keeps shaking her head "no, no" every time I talk to her. I have repeatedly asked her to please start saying, My ma ma" again and her response is always no. I can't wait to hear that sweet little voice, but until then I will just enjoy her laughter, her orneriness, and her antics.

Thanks for your prayers for our pickle. I'll post a couple of pictures of her tonight as well. Take care and enjoy your day. God Bless. Trish


Life Lesson Number....

...I can't remember what number I am on, but this morning I learned another one. I set out to do a little gardening in the back yard and while in the middle of it the lesson hit me. Here it is:

Never fertilize a flower garden while wearing flip flops!

This is what the Lord taught me today. As any good Texan knows flip flops are a necessity. My problem is that I have to vices when it comes to shoes. Nikes and flip flops. I have many pairs of each in several different colors. You would be hard pressed trying to find any other shoe attire in my closet. The Nike's come from my past running career and the flip flops, well, like I said I live in Texas and it is hot. Today as the cow manure squashed cow between my toes I wish I would have chosen my Nikes.

Now for the real lesson. There are two things that my personality just doesn't include. Laziness and selfishness. I think thats a good thing about me, but Dave on the other hand might prefer for me to be a little lazy so that in our free moments we wouldn't spend them planting yet another flower garden. Anyway, my love of gardening came from my mom and my work ethic was definitely handed down to me from my dad. I just can't sit still when there is a good patch of soil just waiting to be inhabited by a few flowers. So this is how I ended up with manure between my toes for most of today. My mom and I had a discussion about preparing the soil. She shared her wisdom with me telling me that just like everything else in life a good foundation is the key. Whether your gardening or raising three children the root system is what feeds them. That root system takes is nutrients from the soil and cow manure is perfect for feeding those root systems. As I thought about the real lesson in all of this today I prayed that my parenting would instill in my Blake, my Allison, and my Ashley that the word of God is what will feed them. I must plant it into their hearts. Its roots need to spread into their very souls. It is the key to growing good young people with hearts for righteousness and quality character. If I never plant anything else inside those tiny hearts I have to plant this. Without it they will miss their calling and the very purpose He has created them for.

Our Ashley is having a really good stretch. Since being discharged from the hospital on Sunday her week has just gotten better and better. She is feeling strong and happy and that makes my heart sing. This morning her daddy took her outside and entertained her with a row of bushes. Yes, it doesn't take much to make her smile when she is with him. Just listening to him say, "This is a BUSH! Hah!" made her giggle. I stood back and listened to them discuss that bush over and over again and her laughter became infectious. She giggled and giggled until she had us both laughing right along with her about that silly bush. I have never met anyone like my sweet Ashley. God has given her such a spirit of JOY. She loves life and everything in it. She is teaching me to love everything as well. Her happy heart is so beautiful.

I have grown and learned so very much since the birth of my Ashley. God uses her daily to remind me of what is truly important in this life. I really believe she has taught me so much more than I have taught her. What a gift she is to us. Thank you so much for coming to her story today. I am glad you have chosen to grow with us. You are a blessing to this family. May you be equally blessed. Take care. Trish


Blessed By His Hand

I have just completed my favorite part of my day, and my heart is full. Oh, how I love to kiss those beautiful heads and whisper how much I love them as they sleep. If they only knew the depth of what I feel for them. I am blessed by the very hand of God. It is His hand that created them. His hands that knew them before they were even knit together inside of me. His hand that gave these amazing children to me to love. My heart is full. I have no words to adequately describe the love that I feel for my Blake, my Allison, and my Ashley. Just think how much more He loves them than I do. It overwhelms me to try and understand the fullness of His love for each of us.

I know that parenting gives me the smallest of glimpses into the heart of the Father. I once listened to the words of a song that talked about Abraham and his son Isaac. It described the sacrifice that the Father was asking of Abraham and the walk that he took up the hill to the alter with his son. It was the words of the chorus that have remained with me all these years. The song said "I just wanted you to know exactly how it feels to watch your only son walk up that lonely hill." The Father was giving Abraham a glimpse into what it was for Him to see His son walk up the hill of Calvary. What a mental picture I have carried with me all of these years. Such love. Such pain. Such lonliness. Such sacrifice. When I think of what the Father and the Son went through for me it breaks me. How could I not love Him back?

There have been moments in my Ashley's story when the pain of losing her consumed me. It broke me to the inner most parts of my heart. I have pleaded with God many times for just one more breath, one more moment, one more hour, one more day. Even now as I think back to the day that she went into cardiac arrest I can physically feel the ache in my heart. Pain that deep does not fade. It is not easily forgotten. Knowing that my Father in heaven felt that pain as He watched His son walk that lonely hill and die for my selfish sins pains me just as great. He understands what it feels like to lose a child. He understands how lonely the thought of never seeing them again can be. It is this knowlege that carried me through those unsure days and nights.

Tonight it is by His very hand that I have been blessed. I was given another day with my sweet Ashley Kate. A day to laugh with her. A day to play with her. A day to rock with her. A day to enjoy with her. A day to place hundreds of kisses on those amazing cheeks. Let me always remember how precious her life is and what a blessing I have been given in this child. I never want to forget how blessed I have been by His hand.

So Proud!

What a moment! I am just beaming with pride. Our sweet Ashley has discovered something new today. I wish it had been her eyes, her ears, or her sweet toes, but at this stage of the game you can't be too picky. Let me tell you that I am here to announce that Ash has stumbled into a "normal" child hood behavior. That word "normal" is something we don't get to use too often when describing our sweet Ashley so you might understand why I am celebrating this behavior. Are you ready to find out what my little lady learned to do this morning? Brace yourselves because this is a BIG one. Ashley found her sweet little nose and learned to PICK IT! Can you believe this? I am trying to raise a lady and she is bound and determined to prove to me that she will not be one.

Not only did she find her nose and learn how to place her finger into it, she learned how to do it very well. She was quietly sitting on her blanket, surrounded by her toys while I stepped into the kitchen to make her formula. Her back was to me so I just assumed she was amusing herself with blocks or babies or something along those lines. When I sat down in front of her to hook up her feeding pump much to my surprise she had picked her nose so well that it was bleeding. UNBELIEVABLE! My sweet bundle of baby girl dressed head to toe in a pink Texas Rangers outfit complete with lacy socks was picking boogers and getting blood ALL over herself. If you could have seen the look of determination on her face and then the smile that came across it when I proceeded to talk to her about the behavior of a little lady. She was so proud that I couldn't help but be proud for her. Now I just have to convince her that this is not an appropriate thing for a princess to do. I am laughing at myself over that last statement. I haven't been able to convince her of anything she didn't WANT to be convinced of so far.

Outside of learning this new skill today has been fairly quiet for us. She enjoyed some organic chicken and wild rice with some peas on the side for lunch. She has refused to take a nap of any length that would count, and so I plan on her being nice and fussy when her physical therapist arrives this afternoon. At least I will have a new milestone to talk to her therapist about. Perhaps my princess will even demonstrate her amazing new skill.

Most days I just love being a mommy, but on days like today there is absolutely nothing that could compare. I am too blessed. Thanks for your love, your prayers, and your support. Have a wonderful afternoon. Trish



We are finally making some progress in that little yellow house we like to call home. We have spent the afternoon and evening there drawing some final plans and making some last minute decisions for our contractors. They have been working since last Monday and the finish date is Friday. Now that all the sheet rock work has been done and the texture is dry it looks like it is all going to come together. I realize that once they have done their job we still have many more things that have to be done before we move home, but I am starting to feel like the day WILL come. Its a good feeling to have.

Tonight as I looked around the house and remembered where we started from and where we are today I got a mental picture of my own life. When I left for Omaha my bathrooms seemed to be clean. They seemed to nice and neat. They seemed to be in good condition. On the surface all was well. Just like me. There are times in my life when it looks as though all is well. Once we began to look a little closer and do a little investigating we stumbled upon what started out to be a little problem. That little problem left unattended turned out to be a big problem. Just like the mold that was hiding under the floor in my bathrooms there have been times when sin has been left unattended inside of my heart. What started as a little thing eventually grew to be something much larger. Something that needed to be revealed and resolved before it began to take hold and hinder my faith. Even as I look around at the mess that has been made of our home, I can honestly say that I am glad we found the issues hiding underneath our bathroom floors. It hasn't been pleasant trying to repair and rebuild, but it has been necessary. I can say the same thing about my heart. It isn't always pleasant when the sin is revealed and the repairing of the damage can sometimes be painful, but I am thankful when I can approach Him with a clean heart. When I can go to Him and know that there is nothing left hiding underneath my surfaces. Every once in a while I am afraid it has been necessary for the Father to pull back the walls of my heart and get down to the framework of who He intended for me to be. He has had to patiently work to rebuild my faith, my hope, and my purpose. Just like my home remodel has taken time, my heart remodel has too. He didn't "fix" me in one day. I didn't get to the place that I needed to be "fixed" in one day, but in His time and according to His plan He works to remove my sin and create in me a new heart.

I look forward to the day when our remodel is complete and our family can spend our days and nights together in our home. I am anxiously awaiting that first night when I have tucked in the children and Dave and I can sit together and share the feeling that all is well again. I can't wait to stand in their doorways and pray over them as I walk away. As I pass between Blake's room and the girl's room I will probably smile and think about all I have learned as I walk pass their bathroom door. It makes me laugh that God continues to use things like moldy bathroom floors to teach me real life lessons. Oh, well whatever it takes to get me to the place He needs me to be. As long as I continue to make progress.

I'm going to go and lay down next to my sweet Ashley Kate. I can hear her making sweet little noises as she drifts off to sleep. Thank you so much for checking on our baby gherkin today. I think she looks good and I am so thankful to have been given another day. Goodnight and God Bless. Trish

Wanted to Say "Hello"

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Ash just wanted to say "Hello" and to let you all know she is starting to feel better today. Then I think she was trying to tell you that this is her daddy but her finger kind of got stuck on the d key. Thanks so much for thinking of her today and for praying for her. I'll post later on when she decides to take a nap. Right now she is feeling too ornery to let me type without wrestling her. Take care guys and have a wonderful day. Trish


The Wave

If you could peek inside our lives on any given night of the week you would find one or possibly all of us trying anything and everything to make our pickle smile. It really is quite amusing to watch. We jump. We sing. We dance. We babble. We sneeze. We do all of the above. Tonight you would have thought the family was sitting in the stands at Ameriquest Field watching our beloved Texas Rangers. I raised my arms in the air and everyone followed suit. Ash smiled and we all did the wave. The more she smiled the more we misbehaved. I love this crazy group of people I get to call mine.

Ash is still very tired and weak, but she did begin to wake up some more this evening. She is now sitting in the floor rubbing her Daddy's head. She loves the way his spikey hair feels and he loves for anyone to rub his head. I have the cutest pictures of her rubbing Blake and David's hair. You never know which one you will find putting her to work. She has decided that she does not want anyone to wear a mask around her any more. She will go to whatever means necessary to rip it off of your face. Dave actually has scratches on his face where she attacked his mask yesterday. It was really kind of funny. I think its good PT for her. She first tries with one hand and then eventually has to reach up with both hands and give it a good pull to take it off. It does our hearts good to see her being so much trouble. The twinkle in her eye and the determination on her face makes me smile.

Some days I still sit and wonder how I got to be so blessed. I love being her mom. Even if she does like to "fingerpaint" and give frequent tummy "offerings". I don't mind cleaning up after her. I just love being the one she will one day call "mommy". Tonight Dave and I were visiting about her, and he said, "I can just hear us now. Remember the days when we wondered if she would ever talk? Now we wonder if she'll ever stop!" That statement brought a smile to my face and it was an encouragement to my heart. I can't wait to hear that tiny voice rattle on and on and on just like her brother and sister.

Well, its time to put this pickle to bed. Blake and Al are tucked in tight and now its her turn. I just wanted to say good night. Thanks for being here and for loving our sweet Ashley Kate. Your presence means so very much. Take care and God Bless. Trish

Its Been a Monday!

Well, all I can say is that I might have been better off if I had decided to stay in bed. It has definitely been a Monday in my world. It started off without the sound of an alarm clock. I jumped out of bed with only 30 minutes to get Dave and the kids off to the office and school. It didn't go smoothly. As I was frantically searching for uniforms and work clothes in the ever growing piles of mess that surround the guest room we are living in Blake jumped out of the shower and I sent Allie in. Al prefers a bath to a shower and hadn't yet woke up enough to realize that when I said to hurry that meant there was no time to run a bath. She started the water then left to run to the kitchen to grab a cup so she could rinse her hair. Unfortunately she had already locked the bathroom door and it closed tight behind her leaving the faucet running at full force. It only gets more chaotic from here and I won't go into all the messy details, but I am sure you can imagine how our week started off.

Once Dave and the kids were finally out the door I heard my sweet Ashley Kate begin to stir. She was soundy a little too happy for her usual grumpy demeanor that early in the morning and I walked into a masterpiece. Let me just say that she was caught red handed(or shall I say yellow) finger painting with what should have been the contents of her ostomy bag. Again, I'll allow you to imagine the rest.

Today was supposed to be a "lazy" day of staying in and doing laundry, but when I started the first load of what would prove to be many the washing machine began to leak and cover the floor of the laundry room. Honestly by this time I was contemplating just grabbing my baby and going back to bed except for the fact that I needed to wash the "masterpiece" out of our sheets. Sometimes my life is just a comedy of errors.

Once I successfully cleaned up all of the disasters that seemed to be haunting me this morning I finally sat down and rocked the most beautiful baby. There is nothing in the world that can compare to how good it felt to just sit and stare in amazement at who she is. I am so thankful to have her "home"(ours is still in the process of the remodel). Her count is slowly making a come back inching its way up .1 at a time. She spent a good portion of her day sleeping, and is now playing at Nans while I do a little yard work. The kids are playing a game of volley ball and as I listen to them laugh together I realize that regardless of how my day began all is right in my world.

So sorry for the late post. My original post that I sat down to write early this morning just disappeared right before my eyes and I just added it to my list of Monday morning events. I am glad that I didn't go back to bed because I would have surely missed out on what the Lord had planned for my day. I suppose I will run outside now and spike that ball over the net just to show them how cool I am. You know in case they forgot. Take care and have a blessed day. Trish


A job done well

I have the most important job I have ever had in my life. Trust me when I tell you I've had several. I went to college to become a funeral director and embalmer. While in college I was a waitress, a pharmacy tech, a tanning salon attendant, a sales girl at Victoria's Secret(which was Dave's all time favorite), a shoe salesman, and probably a few more which happen to have slipped my mind. The job title I currently hold is absolutely the best I have ever earned. When I say that I have earned it I MEAN I think I earned it. Blake's labor was 14 long hours, all natural, in our home. Allie's was a mere 8 from beginning to end again in our home. My Ashley's, well you all know my Ashley's story. The children's birth weights were 10lbs 2 oz, 10lbs 8ozs, and our Ashley, not born out of my body but from my heart, was a whopping 2lbs 12oz.

As I said I currently am employed at the most important position I have ever had. The salary and benefits package are higher than I have ever earned and so much more than I deserve. Sometimes my pay checks remind me a little of the old country doctor who was paid in chickens and vegetables, and other times they are so valuable a monetary value could never be assigned to them. Nonetheless I wake up each day excited to go to work, ready to tackle whatever task is before me, and smiling all the while. I firmly believe that if you must work you should find out what you love to do and figure out a way to get paid for it. I have definitely found my niche. My place in this world and my purpose!

I know the value of a job well done. My dad taught me early on how to work hard and be proud of what I was doing. When I think of all the responsibility that comes from my line of work it can be a little overwhelming at times. I must do a good job. NO, I must to do a GREAT job. There is no time for slacking, and no opportunity to cut corners. The products I turn out will make a difference in this world. A job well done or half way done will determine what impact they will have for HIM. My job is not intended for the weak or the faint of heart. It requires a faith in the One who hired me, a determination to keep on keeping on even when it gets tough, energy that never runs out, drive and purpose with the goal always in the back of my mind, and lots and lots of prayer. I wouldn't trade this job for anything.

Today was the day I have been looking forward too. It was pay day. You know the time of year when you receive that bonus you've been working so hard to earn. I got mine today, and I just wanted to share with you what my "bonus" consisted of. From my Blake I received a "free" coupon that entitled me to a game of baseball in the back yard that he would let me win. From my beautiful Allison I received a letter that thanked me for teaching her how to be kind, gentle, and loving(I think after 9 years of HARD work she is finally getting it!). From my pink bundle of baby girl, my sweet Ashley Kate, the most amazing smile you have ever seen. After opening up my "bonus" check this afternoon I realized that not only am I blessed woman, but I am a rich one too. Life doesn't get any better than this.

To all of you who have become so very precious to me I want to wish you a Happy Mothers Day. It truly is the most important job you will ever be asked to do. You all inspire me and encourage me. Your prayers have carried this very weary mom along on days that seemed as though they would never end. Your friendship is so appreciated and I am honored to hold the same title as many of you. The title of Mom. We truly have been smiled upon. Take care tonight and may God bless you and your families. Trish

A Happy, Happy Mother's Day

I am packing and Dave is dressing our princess! That means that we are leaving! I don't have time to really type, but I wanted to let you know that God continues to bless me over and above my expectations. It really will be a very Happy Mothers Day. Thank you for your prayers! I'll be back later. For now I must finish packing. God Bless you. Trish

Got it!

The line is working now, thank you for your prayers.



Please Pray

I just came out of the shower and Dave called to let me know that Ashley's central line has clotted off. We had a scare the other day with it, but with much prayer and a little TPA it opened back up. I can't believe it has happened again. We need to keep this line! Dave and I are SO nervous when other people go in and out of her central line. We have tried to be understanding and allow the nurses to hook up her IV meds and flush the line without saying much, but it makes me very uncomfortable. We can't risk something going wrong with it anymore. If we are in charge of doing it then I know that any mistakes made with it will belong to us and I won't have to second guess others. I had REALLY hoped to be discharged today. We were only running the anti biotics and anti fungal for a "just in case" since her counts were so low and we were waiting for cultures to come back. Since they were clear then I really think we should have gone home this morning, I guess God had something different in mind and I just have to trust. I am so afraid of losing this central line. Ash has 7 more weeks of chemo therapy and we need to have a central line to run it into. Starting an IV on Ashley is very, very difficult, and I don't want to see her go through it over and over again. Ash is on her 4th of 6 sites that a central line can go in to. The only 2 remaining sites are in her groin area and we have avoided this placement at all costs. I believe it will be a great source of irritation for Ash causing her much discomfort , and it will be at great risk for infection in that area. If anyone is checking on her tonight please pray that it will open up in the next two hours before she loses it all together. Sometimes I find myself just wanting to scream about all that happens to her. I realize it would do no one any good for me to lose it at this point so I am trying to keep it together.

I had planned on crawling into bed next to my Blake and Allie so I could just be close to them as they slept and soak up every detail and feature of their faces. I know I won't be able to rest now and my mind will be in that hospital room until I get the call that all is well. My car is in the shop getting the damage repaired from last weeks trailor accident and I have no way of getting into town to the hospital. I am so tired and so frustrated. Please, please, let that line open up!

So sorry I sound frantric. I think I am just worn out. Its been such a long week and I just want to bring my Ashley back home. I had intended on writing about something totally different tonight, but I will save it for another day. I know that God allowed the line to run smoothly earlier this week, and I believe He can do it again. I just need to get back on my knees. Thanks for putting up with my ramblings. Your prayers would be so appreciated. Trish

Going No Where

It looks as though we will be spending the weekend here at the hospital. We were waiting for the advice of the oncology team in Dallas, but its Saturday and I don't think we are going to hear from them until Monday. Ash continues to have a low white blood cell count and she has been sleeping all day. This is her usual pattern as she tries to recover between her chemo treatments. Her count only went up from .4 to .5 today. Not a significant enough change to make it safe to leave. Her temp remains far under the norm and they have brought in a warmer to help bring it up. The last time she slept under a warmer she was only 3 lbs. This morning someone came in and said, "She's a really big baby!" Dave and I just laughed. They have no idea that she is almost two and a toddler. The main thing she needs to be able to do before leaving is to maintain a stable temperature. I have talked to our team in Nebraska and her liver numbers are all stable and her cultures all came back negative so we are all assuming her struggles are results of the chemotherapy.

Dave spent the night with her and I came in this morning to switch out with him. I haven't seen her eyes open yet today. She is all cuddled up under the blankets in her crib and is sleeping soundly. It seems so weird because her hair is wet from sweating, but her temperature is too low. Her little hands and feet are very cool, but her tummy is not. We have been checking her heart rate and blood pressure and making sure she still has a good capillary refill. Outside of the low count and low temp she looks really good. As soon as she is in a safe place again we will be leaving.

Even though we hoped not to be spending Mother's Day in the hospital, I can't help but be so grateful to be here in Longview. Blake and Al will come up to the hospital to visit Ash and we will all be together. That is a blessing! If we were in Omaha it wouldn't be possible to see all three of the kids, so I am going to be nothing but thankful. Being there mom is the best job in the world and I love them all so very much.

I hope you all have the opportunity to spend tomorrow with your children. Just being around mine doing nothing really important is going to make my day. What a blessed life I am living. Take care and God Bless. Trish



Today Ash has been like Chilly Willy. She has been so cold all day. Like Chilly Willy no matter what she tries to do she just cannot get warm. Ash has always run a little on the cool side with a normal body temperature in the 97.something. Today at one point she was down to 93.3 degrees. She is now hovering around 95 degrees. Tonight is my night and I am looking forward to spending the night in the hospital with our baby Gherkin. I am not so happy that she has been in the hospital all week, but I am very thankful that she is in the hospital in Longview.

Tonight Trish went back to Grandma's house to spend the night with our older princess, Allie. I am so proud of that little girl and the person she has become over the last year. We were very worried that Allie would have trouble with her mom being gone so long but the fact is that God used that time to help Allie do a lot of growing up and maturing. It is amazing to see how He uses the struggles in our lives to help us grow.

Thank you so much for your time and your prayers for our baby Ashley Kate. Have a wonderful weekend with your families.


No Bugs, Just Drugs

This morning Ashley's doctor stopped in to let us know that all tests, labs, and cultures have come back clear. There are no bugs and all of her trouble has been caused by her chemotherapy drugs. We will start Ash on feeds this morning and watch her WBC count to see if it starts to bounce back. If all goes well and she tolerates her feeds again then we will probably be discharged tomorrow. She has been fever free for 48 hours now and thats the mark we needed to hit. Once her oncologist in Dallas gives his o.k. to our local doctor then we will be signing those discharge papers in the morning. Yeah!

I really believe in my heart that once she finishes her chemotherapy that she will begin to take off. She just feels so crummy with each treatment and by the time she recovers it is time to go back in and go for another round. She only has 7 more weeks from today until she has completed the 6 required cycles. At the end of that last cycle we will scan her lungs to see if the tumors are gone. My prayer is that they are and that they never come back! I know that there will always be a possibility for the cancer to return, but I also know that God can work miracles.

I am encouraged this morning. I am excited about going home this weekend. Thank you so much for praying for our little pickle this week. She is still grumpy, but I don't mind. I'm just thankful that the fever is gone, the vomiting has ceased, and her blood is clear of infection. She got through another tough one, and we are looking for her to perk back up just as soon as she gets a few more cells on board. Take care today and God Bless you. Trish


Captured, not on film...

...but forever in my heart. I just arrived back at the hospital and slipped into my Ashley's room to find a baby gherkin and her daddy all cuddled up on the bed together. She in her new purple jammies and he in his stylish yellow gown, blue mask, and green gloves. As I approached she snored and he peeked and waved hello. How I wish I had my camera!

I remember the days when Dave was in school and he would come home in the evenings and fall asleep with our Blake on his chest. I can still see the two of them laying on the couch snoring together. That image has been captured in my heart forever.

I can still see our beautiful "Allie Girl" sleeping all tucked under his arm. Our first summer in Longview she was only a few months old and Dave was busy working to open our practice. He would come in, scoop her up in his arms, and rock them both to sleep while Blake played under my feet as I fixed dinner.

What a blessing to have the images of our "babies" sleeping safely, peacefully, soundly in his arms. Tonight as I tucked Blake and Al into bed I stopped and stared at these young people. Where did our babies go? They have grown up in just a matter of moments. I kissed those foreheads and whispered in their ears just as I have their entire lives. What a gift this job of parenting them has been. I love them so much!

The past few weeks I have been struggling to find sleep. I lay down and I can't rest. I feel anxious, uneasy, and frightened. How I wish I could find peace. How I long to see myself resting in His arms just like the image I have of our babies resting in Dave's arms. Before Ashley's transplant I would dread the night time hours. Nightmares of losing our sweet baby haunted me. Now I find myself in the midst of them again. I lay awake and talk to the Father until I become so tired that I drift in out of my prayers. I drove past our church yesterday and read these words on the sign out front. "Do your best and lay down in peace Knowing that He will do the rest." I thought to myself,"Peace is what I need. Where is it? and why am I having to fight so hard for it?" I don't know what is tearing me up or why it is happening, but I do know that He is near and is taking care of my children. I don't need to fear.

Tonight I am going to concentrate on that image. The one of me sleeping, resting in the Father's arms. Allowing Him to shelter me from whatever fears are hiding inside of me. I am going to talk to Him until the words no longer come. I believe He CAN give me a place to rest.

Crocodile Tears

The biggest, saddest, wettest, tears you have ever seen. They roll down those rosy cheeks and leave their stains behind. When Ashley cries it sounds so very sad. Our sweet Ashley Kate has spent a good portion of the day crying those big "crocodile tears". She just feels crummy, and it makes her sad. She let me rock her for most of the day, and then she decided she wanted to sit alone and cry all by herself. If I talk to her the tears fall. If I offer her a toy the tears fall. If I speak to her or anyone else the tears fall. As long as I don't make any noise or any sudden movements then she stops. I'm not sure why she is acting so silly. It seems obvious to me that she knows I brought her here, and that I must be responsible for all that is going on. I guess if I felt crummy I might try to blame someone else too. She is just too funny. I know that when her daddy walks in this evening she will be all smiles and ready to cuddle. Its never his fault.

Despite the tear stains on her cheeks and her grumpy attitude she looks so cute today. Her cheeks are so rosy and puffy and she is wearing a new pair of butterfly p.j.'s grandma bought her for her hospital stay. I'll have to admit that I think purple is her color. It pains me to say it(everyone knows I am partial to pink princess wear), but her skin looks so amazing when she wears lavender. As I type my little one sits on the bed grumbling under her breath. I wonder what she is thinking? Whatever it is she sure has a lot to say about it. I don't really care if she is grumpy toward me. I love this little girl, and she is so cute while she sits next to me and complains.

Well, her dad just walked in and guess who decided to smile? I think I'm going to slip away and pick up Blake from the practice field and Al from the gym. I hope to enjoy some time with them while Dave takes over with Ash. What a BLESSING it is to be here in town so we can work together. I am so thankful we haven't been sent anywhere yet. Thanks so much for loving our family and our baby. Your prayers are priceless to us. Trish

Word of the Day

ISOLATION. ABSOLUTE PROTECTIVE ISOLATION. I just got off the phone with our team in Omaha and this is what the plan for today is. Ashley's WBC is gone due to chemotherapy and she is extremely vulnerable today. We will remain hospitalized until the count recovers and she remains fever free for 48 hours. They have requested full isolation which includes gown,gloves, and masks for anyone who enters her room. Please pray that our nursing staff will be accepting and agreeable to this request. Sometimes we have trouble getting everyone to comply. We have already had someone enter and exit 4 times without a gown. I don't like confrontation in any form and I hate having to request them to wear one, but this is Ashley's life we are trying to protect. It is very important that we follow the recommendations of our transplant team.

These are the days that scare me the most. Ash has no defense and I can't protect her little body from germs that are all around us. Only God can keep her safe during this time and I pray that He does. So far her blood and urine cultures are clear, but her stool culture has been reported as having "heavy growth, mixed intestinal flora". I don't know what they are seeing just yet, but I prefer the words "no growth". We plan to continue her coverage of antibiotics and anti fungals until she gets through the weak period. It usually takes a few days for her body to recover and for her counts to come back up. They are requesting a stimulating factor to be given. This is a shot that stimulates the bone marrow to begin producing white blood cells. I hate this for her. I really struggle when she has to be poked.

We were hoping to go home today or tomorrow and run her IV meds ourselves, but that won't be happening until her count recovers. Its just too dangerous to move her at this point. I think we will be here until the weekend for sure. The good thing is that we are in Longview and not in Dallas or Omaha. This makes it much easier on Blake and Allison because they can still see us. I am counting it a blessing to be so close to them.

In the midst of all our ups and downs with her course of chemo I still believe God is working. I am surrounded daily by His blessings and it isn't hard for me to see His presence in our lives. I wish we weren't struggling with cancer on top of our transplant issues, but this too is serving a purpose. I don't know what it is, but I trust that He knows what He is doing.

Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for checking on our baby gherkin. Thank you for praying for the precious Coble family this week as they face each morning without their beautiful children. Hug yours extra tight today. I know I'm going to. Take care and God bless you today. Trish