Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart


I'll Be Home for Christmas...

...if only in my dreams.

Its almost 4:30a.m. and I lie awake with this nasty cold. I can't breathe and my eyes won't stop watering. My head is cloudy and my throat dry and scratchy from coughing. Ashley Kate sleeps next to me in her portable crib and for that I am thankful. She doesn't seem to be struggling as much as I am tonight. I prayed that she might rest through her coughs and fall so deeply asleep that she not be bothered by not feeling well. It seems as though this is what has happened. In my cloudy, sleep deprived head I keep hearing the words of this song.

Home for Christmas. It really does happen each night in my dreams. I see us there. The whole family. I have two older sisters and a younger brother(although you would never guess he was the baby of our family. His wisdom far exceeds that of his older sisters.) I have two amazing brother in laws and beautiful sister in law. Nieces and nephews? More than you could count. Parents? Both still with us although they have been divorced for more than 25 years. Home for Christmas? What does that mean to me? Let me share.

Home for Christmas usually takes place at my oldest sister's house. Aunt Kathy and "Umple" Gene's house is the most welcoming, most inviting place on earth. When you walk through the door you instantly know you are home and you are loved. Sometimes we move Christmas to Aunt " Toad's" and Uncle Deric's home. My sister Aunt "Toad" is the Grandma Mary of our family. My grandmother's name was Mary and she was the grandmother of story book legends. She could bake anything. Dinner at grandma's house was heaven. Her talent for loving her family was displayed across the table in the form Mickey Mouse Pancakes, Chicken fried steaks, Macaroni and Tomatoes, Home made yeast rolls, Coconut Pie and Banana Cake made from scratch. She never failed to have something special fixed for anyone who entered her kitchen and now that she has gone my sister Aunt "Toad" has taken on the role. We affectionately call her grandma Mary because she is the closest thing our children will ever have to knowing her. I remember sleeping underneath beautiful, heavy quilts stitched by my grandma and now my sweet babies sleep under beautiful quilts stitched by their Aunt "Toad". I tell you she is an amazing lady. On rare occasion the crew has traveled to Texas to spend the holiday in our home and on those occasions I have already confessed(scan last December's posts) to my obsession with matching packages under our tree. I have been known to re wrap all gifts that entered just so they would match in the photographs. I know its ridiculous and someday I may go to counseling over it, but I just love the "perfect" holiday photos that it results in.

Each year we prepare something. Something special. A gift for the one whom we have gathered to celebrate. One year my nephew Jerid memorized the entire Christmas story and told it to all the smaller children who had gathered around. Their eyes still full of sleep and their heads nodding as they struggled to stay awake in their matching jammies. Another year when the majority of the children were toddlers they performed a Christmas Concert on our fireplace hearth complete with screeching sounds of Silent Night and falling stockings on top of their heads as our little Allie struggled to stand still. The next year I wrote a Christmas play for them to perform and they practiced and practiced. Those little pajama clad bodies(boys complete with stocking caps that matched their pajama pants lovingly sewn by Aunt Toad) hollering, "BEHOLD, I bwriiing you good TIDLINGS!" was enough to melt the hardest of hearts that Christmas. The last year Christmas was held in our home we all wrote our "gifts" to Jesus on little pieces of paper and secretly stuffed them into His stocking that hung from the center position of our mantle. Listening to the little ones as they proudly announced their "secrets" to each other was hilarious, but I know it must have touched the Father's heart. We then gathered all over our living room and sang Christmas carols late into the night. Home for Christmas, I long for it.

That year I had tied little notes to each and every member of our family onto our tree on Christmas Eve as they all slept. I had forgotten about this little gesture until last weekend when I was climbing around our attic in the Christmas boxes. I stumbled upon on them smiled as I read the words I had written to each precious member of this group of people I get to call my family. It really was a magical Christmas.

Home for Christmas? What does it look like in my dreams? Late night wrapping sessions with the "girls" that will bring you to tears as we laugh like no others. What I wouldn't give to be there for another Christmas eve with my sisters Kathy and Toni and my sister in law Rachael. Some funny, funny things have taken place on those Christmas Eve nights. Sequence games that are played with as much passion as the World Series and end with a prize just as sweet. The right to stand and sing "We are the winners. You are the losers to those who are left to lick their wounds. You have never played sequence until you have REALLY played sequence with the likes of us. The mad scramble of the "boys" as they foolishly try and shop for us wives at the mall on Christmas Eve. You should see some of the things they present to us on Christmas morning! Silly boys! They never learn. Karaoke. Oh, the sounds that fill the room. My husband, my brother and my brother in laws passionately singing "You've lost that loving feeling" "YMCA" and a little number called "My ding a ling?" Something about swimming across turtle creek? Do you know that song? I have been known to laugh until I wet my pants. Watching my Dad dance the "slide" or the "twist" as we serenade him with songs from his past. Seeing his eyes light up as he remembers the dances of his youth. Pallets. Our babies tucked in across every inch of the floors and us mommies as we tiptoe through them stuffing their stockings with things that will make their eyes light up. Home for Christmas. It is a beautiful dream. One that I hope comes true for our family this year.

How I would love to meet the girl who has won the affection of my nephew and has been the answer to my sister's prayers. How I would love to hold and cuddle the little girl who stole my brother's heart this year. How I would love to watch the boys wrestle around the living room floor and the girls pile make up on each others little faces. How I would love to sit on the couch snuggled up next to my dad and remember how safe it felt to be there as a child. How I would love to watch "Nanny Claus" appear once again with her pack of toys for the children. Our kids LOVE the character my mom created for them many years ago. How I would love to feel the welcoming hug of my brother in law Gene as we walked through his front door or see the smile that spreads across the face of my sister who has prayed and prayed and prayed for the Christmas to come where her name sake Ashely Kathrine would be present. How I would love to see my siblings all gathered around with the families God so graciously gave to them and watch the eyes of their children light up. How I would love to listen to the Christmas story being read early Christmas morning and imagine the journey Mary and Joseph had been on. How I would to savor the sights of our family, the sounds of the chaos, and the smells from Aunt Toad's kitchen this year. How I would love to be home for Christmas.

Each time I listen to my Third Day Christmas CD I cry as they sing these lines:

I want to have Christmas. As it used to be. My brothers and sisters all gathered around. Singing Away in the Manger as we sit by the fire. I want to have Christmas like a child.

I'm crying now. Remembering the beauty that lies within the bonds of our family. They truly are a gift to me. Tonight I dream of being home for Christmas. Two weeks from today I pray that I really am. Kathy, Gene, Toni, Deric, Chuck, Rae, Dad, Candi, Mom, Dave, don't stop praying. I really, really, really want to be there this year. It would be the best gift. I agree with Blake, "Presents don't make me happy, mom. Those are only things. My family makes me happy. Please come home for Christmas." I'm trying, Blake. I really am.


At 6:15 AM , Blogger Barbie@ Mamaology said...

You got me crying with you. I am praying for you. That your cold heals and Asley is healthy and that you get approved to go home.

At 6:43 AM , Blogger Carey said...

Im crying with you too. I want you to be home for Christmas as well. I pray you and Ashley get over this cold really quick, and for the Drs to allow you to go home.

At 7:20 AM , Anonymous Courtney said...

I'm crying with you just like everyone else! What wonderful Christmas memories and traditions to hold onto. Praying and Praying that your wish will come true and that this Christmas gift will be given to you this year!

At 7:34 AM , Blogger Elizabeth S said...

I am praying for you to go home.

At 7:59 AM , Blogger Michelle J said...

Trish, wow..this post is heavy yet beautiful! You write with the beauty of innocence and love!! I just know that in 2 weeks you and little Ashley will be experiencing everything that you just wrote about!! I believe!

At 8:36 AM , Blogger Laurie said...


This is the most beautiful Christmas Wish List I have ever read and I for one, will be praying that it is granted to you. This is celebration of the heart in the truest sense and I know it brings Our Father great joy and honor. Praying you home Sweetie, to the traditions and love that wait there. May this be the most blessed Christmas your family has ever had. Keep your hopes up there Trish, we are all praying you home. Feel better really soon too. (((HUGS)))

Laurie in Ca.

At 8:39 AM , Blogger Ashley said...

Hi my darlings, it's Nan

At 8:42 AM , Blogger camille said...

I hope and pray your dream will come true. Thank you for reminding us how precious it is to be with family. It's something I take for granted and your sweet words always remind me it is a blessing.

At 8:52 AM , Blogger Kelly said...

I'm praying so hard for you to make it home for Christmas! Thank you for the beautiful post.

At 9:03 AM , Blogger Sun said...

Oh can I come home with you? The picture that you painted is my heart cry - one that treasures Jesus and treasures family above all else.
I am praying - praying that you and Ashley get to be in the comfort and peace of your own home to celebrate our Savior's birth with those that are the most precious to you! Sunshine

At 9:04 AM , Blogger Sun said...

oh I forgot to tell you that I hope you feel better soon! Sunshine (You and Ashley)

At 9:06 AM , Blogger Ashley said...

Hi my darlings, we have a new screen and I don't know how to get Nan where Ashley is? I am so sorry my girls have colds, Dave had not told me. Please get well, only "two weeks". Well you did it again baby girl, I was drowning in tears of happiness and memories as I read about our great blessed family. Our God is an awesome God. How I wish all families had the love each of us have for one another with the love of our Savior; Jesus Christ. Trish do you remember "Christmas in July"? You kids had moved off and I missed you so very much. Papa Jerry allowed me to have Christmas in July when everyone came for vacation. Bow, Christmas chimes and Christmas Carols playing on the front porch for all the neighbors to enjoy! When you pulled up to the curve little man Blake declared "Your right mom, Nan really is crazy. How many years have we laughed about that moment. The big tree was up and filled with gifts with no names on them! You each had to choose any gift under the tree and if you did'nt want it, try to talk someone into trading with you. What joy I had looking at the pictures with all of your expressions as you opened a hunting flash light, how jealous papa was. When tiny little Jake opened a baby gift and had no idea what to do with it. Jeff's present had a tiny T-shirt ten sizes to small for him. Oh the joy you children have allowed me to have over the years with things I think up. The year I did not want to do dishes all day and for the first time instead of a formal china and crystal dinner setting you walked in to paper plates and plastic cups. What a shock that was! I had to go make a place card for Dr. David Adams and set him China and crystal dinner ware, I laughed until I hurt. By the way our dear friends if you don't know David is Trish's husband. Thought I would throw that in for any new readers so they might understand. Oh, the love and memories we have. How truly blessed we are. Thank you Lord with all my being for touching my children lifes as you have. All the praise and glory go to you Lord for giving us such a binding love in Christ. Love you girls, see you soon Love Nan

At 9:27 AM , Anonymous Jule White said...

Trish - I am crying with you. How I pray that you and Ashley will be home for Christmas. My prayer for you includes new Christmas traditions and memories with sweet Ashley at home with her wonderful family.

I hope that those nasty little colds go away and that you both feel better and are able to rest. I am so proud of Ashley and I am so thankful for the healing of her bowel.

I can relate on a much smaller scale to your "poop" post. Poop is also a much talked about and prayed about subject at our house too. Kate still has some issues relating back to her NEC days. Every afternoon when my husband calls after picking up the kids, the first thing I ask him is "Did Kate poop?". Not even how is your day or I love you. So...I know your little "poop book" is a huge part of your life.

Holding you close and praying.

Love, Jule White

At 9:42 AM , Blogger Elizabeth said... have us all in tears! But we continue to pray! I was up in the middle of the night last night and thought about you and I prayed for each of your family will happen...keep up the faith!
Love in Christ,

At 9:49 AM , Blogger Keri Ann said...

Wow. I have a great family, but now I'm thinking I want to come to Texas, too, to join YOUR family for Christmas this year! :) How blessed you are!

Praying, praying, praying......

At 11:56 AM , Anonymous becky said...

What an awesome tribute to such a loving family and an even more loving and faithful Savior. I will continue to pray for your prayers to be answered and your dreams to come true. I'll be praying that you can fully enjoy this great family God has blessed you with as you celebrate Christmas all together.

At 1:17 PM , Blogger Jenny said...

May your dreams come true!!! What an incredible blessing that would be. I'm praying for that!

At 3:16 PM , Blogger KimberlyDi said...

Thanks for sharing such wonderful memories.

At 3:40 PM , Blogger Michelle said...

I am praying that you, Trish, and Ashely Kate will be home for Christmas. You have all touched me so much.

At 3:43 PM , Blogger Morgy's Mama said...

We're still praying Trish. I loved reading about your family's Christmas traditions. So sweet.

p.s. I know the "ding-a-ling" song. My in-laws sang it at the lake this summer and I was both horrified and in stiches. Later I was telling my mom of the "embarrassing" chorus of "MY DINGALING!" when she bowed her head in shame and said, "Yes. I know it well." :O)

Hugs and love from Longview,

At 6:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Trish - I can't stop the tears! Honey, don't give up! God allowed you two to go home just a bit ago....He most CERTAINLY can do it again! Keep the faith! All are praying for you and that God will send you two home for Christmas. He knows the desires of your heart....

Is there anyway you might could post your address again? Is it the same as it was before? I would like to send you another song, if you do not mind. It is by Joy Williams and it is called Hear With Us. I listen to it over and over again and just awe of our Lord and Savior. I would love to share it with you, if you wouldn't mind. Here are the words...they are beautiful but ahh, the music!

It's still a mystery to me,that the hands of God could be so small.

How tiny fingers reaching in the night...were the very hands that measured the sky!

Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Son of God, Servant King- Here with us
You're here with us

Still a mystery to His infant eyes have seen the dawn of time...

How His ears have heard an angels' symphany..

But still Mary had to rock her Savior to sleep!

Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Son of God, Servant King- Here with us You're here with us.

Jesus the Christ born in Bethlehem
A baby born to save the souls of man!

Heaven's offering sent down to save the world
Son of God, Servant King- Here with us

Oh, Hallelujah
Heaven's offering sent down to save the world
Son of God, Servant King- Here with us
You're here with us
You're here with us

Ahh, just the words alone are amazing to me but the music is just precious!

I will be praying you both get well soon and that you two will get to spend Christmas with your family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us...

In Christ-
Amy and Kyle

At 10:53 PM , Blogger Haylee Gabrielle said...

wow you definitely have a way with words, i honestly think you should write a book - if nothing else but to help other transplant moms in this position. WOW!

i don't have words to describe what i'm feeling, just an overwhelming throb in my chest that is excited and scared to see what God has in store for you & your family this Christmas.

i'll be praying, FOR SURE! i'm really praying He sends you home for good in the next few weeks. you are definitely deserving (in my eyes).

love & praying for you,
melissa in CA

At 10:54 PM , Anonymous Janiece Baldwin said...

Trish, you gave a beautiful description of Christmas with your family all together. Our hearts ache along with yours as we continue to pray that God would grant you the deep desire to be all together this year for Christmas. That finally little Ashley could be a part of the most incredible Christmas away from a hospital for the first time in her little life. I know all your hearts would be bursting with such joy.
One time when I was so concerned about Ashley, a good friend called me one day and asked, "How is your little baby?"

Several years ago I started a tradition at Christmas where all the family could participate.
As each one arrives they take a piece of paper and are instructed~~
If you could give Jesus a birthday present, what would you give Him? and they write it down on the paper. They then fold it and put it in the small Christmas basket. After we have finished our Christmas dinner and just before we eat dessert I pass the basket around the table and have each person take out one of the pieces
of paper and then one at a time we read what that gift would be. Even the little children join in and if they can't write, an adult will write down what the child says and if they can't read an adult will read it for them. I keep the papers, date them and from year to year, I take them all out and re-read them. One of the children wrote the sweetest thing. Their paper said, "I would give baby Jesus a bed so that He would not have to sleep in the manager."
Just wanted to share that with you.

Praying you home for Christmas.
Much love and prayers~~~Janiece

At 11:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praying that your dreams all come true. I believe and I know you do that God is capable of allowing that very wish to come true. I am so excited about Ashley's poop doing so good. Praying for you and her to get rid of those nasty colds and travel on back to Texas where the sun is shining and the temp. is 70. I'm sure you would trade snow to be in Texas for Christmas. Continuing as always to check on you guys and pray for you! God Bless You and your family


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