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"I will do just that, Lord. I will wait on you. Even when I want to speed ahead. Even when I think I know best. Even when I think You're not moving fast enough. Even when I want to speed through grief. Even when I'm sad. Even when I'm lonely. Even when I want the trial to be over. Even when I can't see what's ahead of me, I will wait. I will trust. I will "sit tight."

Day 56 - January 29th at 8:27am

It impresses me how God knows exactly where we are at, even when we don't know it ourselves. Yesterday, I had two unrelated people send me messages that were practically identical. I have written a lot about being saddened by the labels I've been stripped of, but the label of "wife" is the one I miss the most. When I was little, all I ever wanted was to be married and have babies. I even tried to talk Mike into one more baby a few years ago, but I can't imagine what having 4 little ones would have been like through all this. It's challenging enough with 3. But my friends both reminded me that Mike was a piece of MY story, although I always felt like a piece of HIS. I think that's what made me a good wife though. I'm a helper by nature and I love helping people. I feel such warm fuzzies over the thoughts of helping people do well and succeed. With Mike, I loved helping him bring to pass his visions and plans... whether it be VBS's, or planning big events, he was the visionary and I was legs. I've lost that now. Yesterday, at Anna's upward game, the pastor did a half time devotion where the cheer coach had to try and shoot a basketball into the net behind her, using a mirror as her only guide. Of course, she shot and didn't make it, but the point was that we can't move forward by looking behind. The things behind us should be a testimony of God's faithfulness, but we can't just stay there. We must begin to walk in a new direction, and experience His faithfulness in new ways. When experiencing grief, worry and fear can try and hold us back. I know I struggle with it daily. Worry.... that when I post, it could be misconstrued or misinterpreted to mean something I don't intend. Fear..... that I will never feel whole again. But when I have friends that tell me "No matter what Satan whispers to you, of what you are no longer, you tell him he's a LIAR because you are Ashley!" And within minutes another friend sends you a message saying, "You are not defined by who you were married to. God has placed great gifts and talents within you to overfow to many... it does not go unnoticed and now it will stand even more prominent than ever... not so you can be great within yourself but so God's glory is revealed through you" well, that's the God I serve. One who takes your insecurities and your faults and encourages you to move beyond those things to get you to where you're going next. What will this new place be like? I don't know, but "my only hope is to trust You Lord." I pray that you are encouraged today.... because God's got this!

Day 57 - January 30st at 7:44pm

Me: ok guys! I have to have my assignments turned in by midnight so let me work on my school stuff ok? Kids: ok!!!!! Me: begins working.... Anna: Isn't it odd that I don't like fish but I have a fish? Eli: Who gave us all these movies? Abi: What should I put in the washing machine to clean these shoes? Eli: What do you know about China? Other than their manufacturing and that they have great food? Abi: Should I take the laces out? Eli: Why is the Bahamas such a tiny country? Eli: Mom! We're on our last 2 bags of Funyuns!

Me: Going to my bedroom to work......sigh.

Day 58 - January 31st at 7:43am

It’s been 8 weeks. I looked at a new house yesterday. I liked it..... Trying to figure out the best location to be in is challenging. I drove back by it with the kids after basketball practice and they liked it too. It's currently being built so there are some plusses to having a brand new house, but a house with some age on it would likely have a little more square footage, but also more upkeep. I'm so spoiled where we live now. We just have the best house ever! Sure, there are some things we wish we could have updated over the last 8 years but overall, I just know that our house has been a true blessing to us and a comfort to drive home to. It doesn't really feel like a "home" now. We have this one place on the wall where we've measured the kids' heights and wrote it, in pencil, on the wall, complete with how old they were at the time. We usually measured them if we were going to a theme park so we could see what all they could ride. There's even a mark for me (a whooping 60 inches) and now Abi's marks have passed mine. The other night, I was sitting in my bedroom and the kids spontaneously came in and we began telling stories and laughing. Come to find out, my brother had shared with the kids some news about my past boyfriends, which they all thought was hilarious. (Thanks Matt btw!) But they asked me questions and wanted me to tell them the story of how I met their daddy and how his first voicemail sounded on the answering machine and where we went on our first date. It was so nice to have a beautiful memory as opposed to a painful one. It's amazing how your mind works. Eli bought the Trolls movie and he was watching it in the van on his iPad. At one part in the movie, a character says "Daddy wake up" and my mind flashed to me hearing Abi scream those words the night of the accident. It was another pothole. Some mornings I wake up frustrated .... kinda like today. A million things going through my mind and no initiative to just suck it up and do it. I just want it to be the easy normal life again. If you gave me the option to fast forward through the next year of "firsts" I would so do it. It would be really great if the Lord would return and this would all be over. Pastor Jerry read a scripture Sunday and it stuck with me. It was Exodus 33:21 "Behold, there is a place by me and thou shalt stand upon a rock." I likened it to the feeling of being sandwiched in between my mom and dad during prayer at church the other night, or when you're dating and your love says to come sit near them..... it feels intimate. My mom tells of a time when she was dating dad and she would sit in the center of the truck cab just to be near him. The Lord wants the same intimacy with us, He says "Come over here next to me! I have a special place for you on this rock." Rocks are so strong and heavy. He tells us to build our house on the rock so when the storms come, our house will not be shaken. I'm daily reminding myself to draw closer to the Lord and to find comfort in His shelter. I desire a closer walk with Him each and every day. I pray you will do the same..... ❤

Day 60 - February 2nd at 8:04am

Abi is walking out the door a few minutes ago and says, "I think the cat peed on my uniform." Sure enough, it's affirmative after the sniff test. Abi threw it on the floor of her bedroom and left her door open, so that gave the kitty access! I don't know what I'm going to do about this cat! I've had her fixed and taken her to the vet, and she's still doing it! Annabelle loves her soooooo much but I cannot live like this! So now I have to somehow wash and dry her uniform and get it to her before they leave school today, all while working myself. Any suggestions on what I can try!?!? I'm desperate or kitty will be having a permanent home outdoors.

Day 63 - February 5th at 1:03am

The Lord continues to teach and encourage me through the truths from His Word. I was very excited a few months ago to learn that the Church of God Ladies of Western NC would be doing an online book study. The book we are studying is entitled, "The Girl's Still Got It" by Liz Curtis Higgs (and I highly encourage you to read it!) This week, it was my turn to write the reflections on the chapters I was assigned. I downloaded the audio book, but I also bought the iBook so I could listen/read as the opportunity afforded itself. The book is based off of the story of Ruth and if you've read many of my posts, you know that I have been greatly encouraged by Ruth and her story. There aren't a lot of widows at my age and those that I have met have been a tremendous blessing to me. Ruth was a young widow. To catch you up real quick, after her husband's death, she chose to cleave to her mother in law and return with her to her hometown, although she didn't know anyone, save her Mother-in-law. She worked hard and built a noble reputation around town. Before long, she caught the eye of Boaz, a wealthy landowner, and Naomi tells her to go to Boaz after he is asleep and uncover his feet on the threshing floor, which was actually a very public place. Ruth would then lay at his feet and wait..... Boaz wakes up and asks her who she is! She tells him "I am your servant Ruth." She then asks Boaz to marry her .... wait! Did you catch that? She asked a wealthy man to marry HER! That was so bold! Women can be very bold these days, but I cannot ever remember a time when I saw a woman on one knee proposing to a man, and yet, that's pretty much what Ruth did. Boaz was pleased with her, but unfortunately, he had some bad news. There was a relative who was a closer relationship than he was. Boaz tells Ruth that if this other guy wants to redeem you, then he can. I imagine Ruth's heart broke thinking of marrying a man she didn't know, while longing for Boaz. But Boaz was so sold out to the Lord that he wanted God's will over his own. He knew that if this other relative was willing to redeem Ruth, that must be God's plan due to their customs. Ruth goes home and tells Naomi what happened and then they wait. That's where my chapter ended. Waiting. Waiting. I'm not good at waiting. Truthfully, I don't like waiting. All I can do is wait. Waiting and trusting go hand in hand. The author says it best, when she tells us that “sitting tight,” like Ruth and Naomi are in this chapter, is the simplest definition of faith. We must wait without fretting. Trust without second guessing. Believe without demanding proof. “Here’s a word of encouragement to point us in the right direction: ‘be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord.'” I will do just that, Lord. I will wait on you. Even when I want to speed ahead. Even when I think I know best. Even when I think You're not moving fast enough. Even when I want to speed through grief. Even when I'm sad. Even when I'm lonely. Even when I want the trial to be over. Even when I can't see what's ahead of me, I will wait. I will trust. I will "sit tight." I hope you will too… They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait.

Day 64 - February 6th at 11:09am

“Come and consume God all we are, we give you permission, our hearts are yours, we want you, we want you..." These lines are from a song we sang yesterday morning during worship at church. I had never heard this song in the light that the Lord allowed me to experience it yesterday. The lyrics are from a song called "When You Walk Into the Room." I couldn't help but apply the words to how people will say, "You light up the room." I especially think about it in the way that we feel when you have a "crush" and there's that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when that person walks into the room. I feel like the Lord is trying to help me understand that He is more than enough for me during this bitter time in my life. People who have gone through similar circumstances have encouraged me to swim in the closeness of God, because there is a sweetness you can only experience when you literally are so broken that you have nothing else to give. I just wish I had all the answers. Relinquishing my right to make my own choices is hard. I have always been an over-thinker and I'd give anything to take a magic pill and just be able to shut my mind off from the endless questions it forces me to ask myself. I posed this question yesterday at lunch to my friend, "If you could get a picture of what your life would be like 5 years down the road, would you choose to see the picture or not?" If I had known in 2011 that 5 years down the road my picture would be one of a single mother, a widow, I wouldn't have wanted to know, and yet if you allowed me to see my snapshot of what my life will look like 5 years from now, I would definitely choose to see it. (I think .... LOL) Abi will be a senior in high school. Eli will be a sophomore. Annabelle will be in middle school. But what will I be doing? Where will I be living? Where will I work? Will I still be single? What will my house look like? In my world, there is comfort in knowing what to expect. I'm a thinker. I'm a planner. If you were with me when I went to NYC for the first time, you would know that I did my research so I would know which subway to get on, I had a plan of where we would go and how long we would stay at each place so we could accomplish the most in our one day there. Now, while wading through these murky waters of grief, I have no blueprint. I have no plan of attack. I'm learning so much about myself and some stuff is pretty cool and other stuff, I'm thinking, God we've got some work to do! I think if I could ask you to pray one thing over me today, it would be contentment. I remind myself of the scripture, "For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Phil 4:11) I feel unrest in my spirit when I really want peace and contentment. I want to be OK while I "sit tight" and wait for God to reveal his plan to me, slowly, piece by peace. (I intentionally misspelled that :) ) I am a single person in couples world. I have to figure out where I fit again. I know the Lord will show me as He reveals himself to me every day. His promises are true. "He was my God then and He's my God now." I long for His presence as He walks into the room of my life and gives me peace for today, hope for tomorrow, reassurance of my future and contentment that can only come from Him.

Day 65 - February 7th at 11:06pm

9 weeks: I'm finally getting to the place where I don't hear the "ding" on my phone and expect a text from Mike. I don't pull into the driveway at night and expect him to come out to carry a sleeping child in from the van. I do still adjust the shower nozzle every time I get in, out of habit, because he always had to point it high and I needed it pointing low. I still meet people on the street who say, "Are you Ashley? I'm so sorry for your loss." I've learned so much about the judicial system and law enforcement and estates.... more than I ever wanted to know. Families are still providing meals for me and the kids. It's such a blessing. I guess we're moving closer to the dreaded "new normal." We are beginning to get evidence back regarding the defendant, and although it is favorable for us, I can't help but think that regardless of the outcome, nobody wins. We just all lose. Whether he is found guilty or innocent, Mike will never come back. My children will never again have their father. Mike's parents will never have their son. Our church will never again have their pastor.... sure, they will get a new one, but it won't be the same. The defendant could potentially lose the next 9 - 18 years of watching his boys grow up, and all for what?!? Alcohol? Abi asked me tonight, "Mama, why is alcohol legal? Nothing good comes from it." All I could tell her is, "I know baby. I wish things were different." But today, I was talking to one of Mike's friends and I was sharing with him my frustrations and he made such a profound statement. He said, "Through it all, though, I still believe God is still good to us and even when it does look like no one wins that's where God can still I continue to pray He gets the glory out of my past, present and future and that helps me to pray for Zachariah Carl and others who need Jesus." So I too choose to allow God to have complete control over my past, present and future. I will allow God to "win" so that His message is able to shine through my darkest days and point others to Him. ❤️


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