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Our first wedding anniversary apart...

Day 82 - February 24th at 9:15am

Adventures in Widowhood: Take 1..... Annabelle went out to the van this morning to get her book bag. She then leaves for school with our rideshare friends. I get ready to leave for work and cannot find my keys. I look everywhere and eventually text Neal to ask the kids if they had seen the keys. I check all the places they recommend and still no keys! I then ask them to check Annas backpack. Sure enough. She put them in her backpack. So I think, "Ok - no big deal, I'll take the truck." Well, the truck and trailer are attached so I have to figure out how to un-attach it. I call my dad and brother ---- no answer. I look through my phone and finally get someone who Facetimed me and walked me through unhooking that heavy trailer. Abi wasn't feeling well this morning so it took me and her both to get that little leg down so we could spin that arm thingy around to lift it off the ball of the truck. We are finally successful. So I think all is well and I'm on my way! Nope. The truck is dead and won't crank. So, I call Dale (my neighbor who we went to church with) and fortunately he is at home.... and he has jumper cables. So Dale comes to the rescue and jumps me off..... so after pumping some gas, I'm on my way to work! Thank you Jesus! #morethanconquerors #crisisaverted #thankingGodforgoodfriends

Day 83 - February 25th at 11:40pm

This week's emotions have been a wide swing from crying on the shoulders of poor unsuspecting preschool parents, to taking off my wedding rings, to putting in an offer on a new home. Wow - that's a lot huh? I never realized there would be an anger component to grief, because it doesn't make sense right? How can you be angry at someone for something that was outside of their control? But still, I have just felt a little mad this week..... and in feeling so, in protest, I decided to take my wedding rings off and not wear any rings at all this week. Every time I look at my left hand, I see the indentions of a ring I never took off unless I was having it repaired, and even though I'm not wearing a physical ring, the signs of its existence is still inevitable. It looks so empty. I can truly understand how people fight rebellion in times of grief. When the tree is shaken and the difficult times come, Satan uses those times when you are vulnerable to place a person or thing there to say, "Hey, try this or that..... this is what you need to feel better." We have to be watchful and not fall into temptation. We must stay on guard. We must guard our hearts. We must continue to strengthen our relationship with the Master so that we draw closer to Him instead of pulling away. Some days are easier than others, but recognize that the plot of Satan is to steal, kill, and destroy, and the desire of Jesus is to provide life more abundantly. As I continue to walk day by day.... pray for protection against the firey darts of the wicked. Pray for renewed strength and that the enemies plans would be revealed before we fall into diverse places. Gods plans are perfect and those are the ones I want for my life.... and yours.

Day 85 - February 27th at 10:12pm

Praise the Lord! I just submitted my exam and final project paper for Intro to Theology! Whoop whoop! Now, if I can finish this one last thing for Methods of Counseling I'll be one super duper happy girl well on my way to my bachelors degree!!!!! 😉. Yahoo!

Day 86 - February 27th at 12:49am

I'm thankful for a God who knows what we need when we don't even know it ourselves. My mother in law wanted to come up and spend the night to help us with a few things, but in my mind, I knew we had so much to do that it might not be profitable. She said she wanted to come anyways and it was so wonderful having her here. I spent 6 hours finishing up my school work, which I was able to do because Marjorie got the kids supper, did all their homework, (including a book report), helped clean Abi's room and addressed thank you notes. It was as if I had a clone. :) we were also able to decide about Mike's grave headstone and will be able to get it ordered tomorrow and hopefully put in by Easter. It was an overall productive day. Now, I hope I can sleep even though I'm so keyed up. :) love you all! ❤️

Day 88 - March 1st at 7:22am

Another wave hit yesterday. We picked out Mike's headstone. It was time.... and it feels nice to mark that off the list, but it was still hard. It will be weird to see my name on it too, since we got a double one. I spoke to my attorney yesterday and he told me a lot of things that I can't go into on here obviously, but when things aren't quite like you envision and expect, and you see that wave coming, you brace for it and it still knocks you flat on your back. You have to rethink everything. I feel like I'm doing that on a daily basis..... rethinking everything. I want the waves to stop but it's unrealistic to think that will happen anytime soon, if ever. The defendant's first court appearance is next week. I don't look for anything to happen except a continuance, but I do want to be there just in case. The "not knowing" for me is sometimes harder than the "knowing." I keep thinking about the song Abi has been working on.... "as your love, in wave after wave, crashes over me, crashes over me, for you are for us, you are not against us, champion of heaven you made a way for all to enter in." When a wave of grief comes I try and envision the love of God crashing over me like a wave, in the same way. I often feel like Jekyll and Hyde..... up and down..... in and out...... I hate feeling like two different people, but I do. I've never been an up and down type of person..... I was always consistently positive and upbeat. I know she's still in there, but some days she's just inaccessible and instead this other girl shows up who wonders how in the world she will ever make it. I don't really like that girl, but I'm afraid she is the one typing this today. It doesn't help to know that our 15 year wedding anniversary is tomorrow and I'm just really sad. So if you could pray for me today, I would really appreciate it. I love you all and I thank you for the encouragement you have been to me over the last 12 weeks. I know not everyone is as fortunate as me to have an army of support, but I'm thankful that I do.

Day 89 - March 2nd at 7:04am

15 years ago today I was wide awake and giddy with excitement as I was about to walk down the aisle to the man of my dreams. We chose March 2nd because my dad wanted us to date a year before we got married, which was Feb 8th, so we decided to wait until the first weekend in March, thinking that flowers wouldn't be as expensive as they are in February. Come to find out, we would share our anniversary with my aunt Terri and uncle Lonnie and with the pastor who maried us. (the same one who got our romance going!) I think every girl dreams about the day of her wedding.... I know I did. I went early to have my hair done by my good friend Kim, and then I went to the church. It poured rain about the time our wedding was to start. It rained so hard that people got lost trying to find the church. I have always loved rain though.... people told me it's good luck to have rain on your wedding day. I'll never forget the feeling of knowing that I looked beautiful and that I was walking down the aisle to marry Mike. The doors opened and my dad walked me down, the bridal March was playing, the church was packed and all eyes were on us. I sang to Mike during our wedding. I know I might be biased but I have always felt like my wedding was the most beautiful wedding I had ever seen. When you fast forward 15 years, the memories that flood my mind are the parallels of walking down the church aisle, to meet Mike, but instead of my dad walking me down, my children did. Mike was waiting at the front, but this time he was in a casket. The music was playing, but instead of the bridal march, it was a song that I can no longer remember. I wasn't in my wedding dress, but I was in another dress that I would never ever wear again. During our wedding, we wanted all the ministers to pray over us and our newly formed family and they did the exact same thing at his funeral. Looking back, I wish I had sang at his funeral too. I guess I'll always regret that I didn't, even though I don't know how I would have made it through. I know I was always his favorite singer. When we left the sanctuary, we would be surrounded by those who would tell us they love us and there would be many tears, those of joy and then those of sorrow. I have a good friend who has walked this same road over the last year and on his anniversary, I sent him a message, not realizing I would need to read it this morning remind to myself of the exact same words I would encourage him with. I wished him a Happy Anniversary because I didn't want the day to be sad. I prayed that God would remind him of the happy memories that they had shared and that those happy times wouldn't hurt his heart as he remembered. I told him to take time to purposefully remember her and that every time he saw their children to be thankful for the influence and role she had in their lives. I prayed joy and peace and laughter over him and I prayed those things over myself today. My story isn't over. Chapters are still to be written. We were so happy...... I never ever wanted to remarry. Sure, there were struggles in ministry but those things weren't struggles between us as man and wife. He told me to "shut up" one time and it hurt my feelings so bad and he never said it again lol - I remember one time I told him he was getting on my nerves and he replied with "you've been on my nerves" and that would become a running joke for the next however many years..... we just didn't fuss and fight. If I were to be honest with you today, I don't want to miss him. It still hurts too bad. I've said it a million times "I'm not a crier!" And yet I still cry all the time. My poor preschool parents are going to avoid popping in to say "Hi" because they never know what they will get. My how things have changed in 15 years. I never imagined I would be a widow, but even if I did, I still would have married him. So, today I will be a woman who wasn't afraid to love and although death was mean to me, love was so very good. We take chances on love every single day and I hope someday to love again, but for today, I will hug my babies extra tight and I will be thankful for the love of a man who loved me beyond measure.... faults and all. Where not a Sunday passed that he didn't openly praise me from the pulpit for being pretty or talented or a good mother or whatever was on his mind. I will be grateful for the years that we shared instead of sad for the years that we won't. I wish this wasn't God's plan.... but it is, so I will pull myself together and make this a day of thankfulness as I share with you all my Happy Anniversary. With love, Ashley 💕


Annabelle just had another night terror. This time I knew what to expect so it didn't scare me as bad. To whoever told me to sit her on the toilet to potty, it worked, she stopped and I laid her back down and she went back to sleep. Whew!

Day 90 - March 3rd at 6:32am

Another "first" for the history books! Only 1.2 million to go.... that's what it feels like at least. Thank you to everyone who made yesterday extra special. From your "Happy Anniversary" posts, to my family sending me balloons and jewelry, to having dinner with the Parker's, where we could tell stories, laugh and spill marbles across the floor of a restaurant, to every surprise in between..... it was a good day. Mom and Dad's cabin was conveniently available this weekend so we are going up to conquer another first. We all have our own bedrooms there and my sisters "just so happen" to want to do a room shake-up. I know this is so I won't have to sleep in the same room and bed as I have all the other times I've been there..... and truthfully, I appreciate their thoughtfulness and love for me. I hear a hot tub and shoe shopping calling my name. (Too bad it's Eli who needs the new shoes lol) I love to make memories and I'm looking forward to making a lot of new ones this weekend. Thank you guys for being so supportive of me. I know I sound like a broken record but I really don't know what I would do without you guys. I hope you will have a wonderful weekend of making new memories with your families too.


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