Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart



I cut the grass this morning. It was desperately in need of care. I have no idea how to mix gas for the edger and weed eater, but I did get the grass cut so its a least better than it was.

As I walked behind the mower I was painfully aware of how choked our lawn is looking. The weeds have invaded our beautiful green grass and they are doing what they do best. Destroying. Ashley became ill the week after mothers day. That is when our normal became so not normal. Since that time we have been consumed with her care and condition and the juggling of Blake and Allie through the whole process that things like lawn care had to take a back seat. If only our neighbors knew the situation we are in. Perhaps they wouldn't think so poorly of our ability to maintain the grass? Oh well, it is what it is and today the grass, weeds and all, has been cut.

Choked? I know the feeling. I know how it feels to be invaded, overcome, and choked. The weeds I saw this morning strangely reminded me of my own life the last few months. What I thought was beautiful has become not so beautiful. What I took the time to maintain and care for has become crowded out by circumstance, fear, pain, hurt, and anger. Ouch, I said aloud to myself. This is me. Its my heart. In all of its ugliness, this lawn that is trying to maintain itself without the help of its caretakers is a representation of who I am today. Trying desperately to remain "green" amidst the heat. Trying desperately to look "cared for" all the while feeling the effects of neglect.

I'm going to get painfully honest with you today. Painful for me, not so much for you. You see it was just a couple of weeks ago that I sat in a recliner next to Ashley Kate's hospital bed and glared at the leather bound book across the room from me. I knew it would be something I needed with me as I flew so far away in such uncertain times. I knew the comfort that would be found within, and yet as I stared, no glared, at it across the room that day I admitted to myself what I am going to admit to you now. I couldn't open it. I didn't open it. Not even one time. It sat next to me all those days and I sat stubbornly next to it without opening its pages for even one moment. I was angry. I was hurt. I was going to "show" Him. I avoided the pages filled with His words, His wisdom, His comfort, and His love day after day after day. Why? Because I was hurting and if I was hurting so deeply and our Ashley was suffering so much then I wasn't going to spend anytime in His word. So there. Take that. I'll just let you feel what I feel. Abandoned. Betrayed. Neglected. My sweet friends that is the truth of where I've been. Only hurting myself in an effort to make Him hurt along with me. Take notice of my pain. Look down and see the effects of her suffering on the heart of her mother.

As I sat that day glaring at my leather bound book, the phone rang and I began to allow it all to spill out of me. I shared with my sister that I thought if I could somehow surround myself again with His word, flood my soul with praise and worship, that I just might survive another day. I needed help. I realized my very soul and the faith that it was founded on was being choked out of me. I asked her for help. Not something I am very good at doing, but I humbled myself and said, I need a favor. She along with my other two siblings sprung into action and gifted me with what has filled my ears, my mind and my heart all morning long. God's word. Spoken through the passion of my brother's heart behind the pulpit over the last 8 years. Not only those messages, but hundreds of spirit filled praise and worship songs. I mowed that grass this morning with a song in my heart and praise on my lips as the tears stained the dirt on my cheeks.

My precious friends is it possible to love the Lord and continue to praise Him in the most desperate of situations? Will I be able to say that God is good if my sweet baby never smiles again? How can I still believe in a God of miracles if my daughter is not granted one of them? I don't know. I truly don't. I'm not sure that my heart will be able to say or continue to feel any of those things. I'm being honest. I just know that I have to try. Day in and day out of being angry is not getting me anywhere. I need Him. I need to feel His love. I need to know that He is standing closer to me than any other although I feel as though I am standing in this hell all alone.

Where will we be on the other side of this journey? I can tell you that I do not know. Will our faith be strengthened or will it crumble? Will my children witness two parents who gave their very best to their God in the middle of the most unimaginable pain possible? I don't know. Will their faith remain intact and will they be able to trust our God? Again, I don't know. I don't have the answers to any of the questions that flood my mind on a daily basis. What I do know is that we are trying. We are being honest as we fail and we are being honest as we succeed. We are seeking His face when it feels as though we will never find it again. We are hoping for miracles because He is a God of miracles. We are praying for mercy, because we believe He has the power to grant it toward our sweet Ashley.

Will the life of our daughter be stolen from us, the joy of our hearts be choked out among the pain, or the faith of our children shake as the ground beneath their feet trembles? I don't have the answers. I do take some satisfaction in KNOWING that a day will come where our God will be victorious and the one who is behind the evil in this world will be held accountable. I know that no one is getting away with this. The pain that we are enduring is but for a night and our joy is going to be restored one morning. That is truth. Even when I feel so very far from it, it remains to be true.

Dave and I are believing in our daughter. We will not give up on that belief. I am actively working to "weed" my heart and get it back to a place that trust and hope and love can grow. Kathy, Toni, Chuck...thank you. Thank you for stepping in and filling a need in my life and for giving me something solid to put my slipping faith back on. I love you all with my whole heart. Our childhood home was not perfect by any means, and the marriage we all came out of may have fallen short, but in the end He used it to serve a purpose and for the three of you I will eternally be grateful. You remain my closest friends and I thank our God for each one of you.


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