8) A BROKEN VALENTINE
"It’s my first Valentines Day as a widow. I dreamed about him last night..."
Day 66 - February 8th at 7:44am
9 weeks and 1 day - Feb 8th has always been a special day that Mike and I celebrated because 16 years ago today, I walked into the Lee University break room and met my future husband. The Lord orchestrated our meeting because a fellow student got a free burger from the fast food joint and offered it to Mike, and I brought my dinner to eat in the break room as well. (I worked at Bank of America at that time and Mike worked at the Clerks office - both downtown Charlotte). I remember my bouncy introduction and three months from that night, Mike proposed. I laugh to think about Mike asking Dad if he could marry me on the porch of our Waterfalls Drive house, while my mom and I snuck to listen around the corner of the house. Dad told him that he wanted us to date a year before we got married and that he didn't ever want Mike to move me and his potential grandkids too far away from him and Mom. I knew the second one would be conditional upon God's leading, but for the next 16 years, Mike lived up the bargain. I have lived in close enough proximity to my parents that we have always been able to drive there and back in an evening. Last year, at this exact same time, I got sick.... the sickest I've ever been. We never really figured out what happened that made my liver go crazy, but regardless, Mike was such a wonderful, overly protective husband. I do miss him this morning. But instead of being sad, I will do something that he would be so proud of.... I'll stand before the ladies of WNC Church of God at the Mid-Winter Prayer Conference and read scripture prepared to bring healing to their hearts as we petition God for the impossible. Mike would have encouraged me to buy a new dress, which I did, and he would have said "I want to be in there with you!!!" Even though it was a ladies brunch.... The ironic part of life is that the first weekend in May, I will walk across the stage and accept my bachelors degree from Lee University.... the degree that I never completed because I fell in love and had babies. It feels like a full circle. It's never too late for God to complete the work He has started in you.
🎶 Don't give up on God, cause He won't give up on you..... He's able. 🎶 Be blessed today as you petition God for the impossible.... He's able. ❤️
Day 68 - February 10th at 8:14am
This week has been very productive for me healing wise. I am asking God for opportunities to speak life through my tragedy and this week He has opened the door to speak at 3 different ladies events and I am praying about walking through those doors. I always find myself being cautiously optimistic when these opportunities arrive because accepting them is a leap of faith, so I am trusting and praying that I will be ready emotionally and spiritually when the time comes. Wednesday night, the minister made a statement that really spoke to me. He said, "You will act consistent to what you believe about yourself." How true is that! I've met so many people through my circumstances and pending on their interactions with me, I can tell if they have had negative or positive experiences in their lives and with the Lord. For me, I choose to believe that there are genuine, honorable, God loving people in this world and thankfully, I have met hundreds, if not thousands of them, through Mike's death. I choose to believe that Mike's death is not in vain and that his move to heaven is a piece of the puzzle to complete on earth what couldn't be accomplished in his life. I know Mike, and if he knew that his ministry would have greater significance in death than life, he would have willingly sacrificed his life. Shouldn't we all desire to make that type of sacrifice if God asks that of us? We think about it as it relates to missionaries overseas and we deem it important if people suffer for the cause of Christ, but I will also argue that dying at the hands of sin, is just as valiant. I wish a thousand times over that 2 months and 3 days ago Mike didn't have to die, but I also have to be thankful that my children didn't die in that wreck and thankful that I am provided for and that I have the promise of a future ... all those things didn't die with Mike. I choose to believe that the paths God will lead me down will be significant and will help others through their struggles. When I had my first miscarriage I was distraught. I still hear Mike's voice as I type this telling me, "Ashley, we won't be mad at God" and as the light switch in my mind went off and peace filled the room, I purposed in my heart to help others who went through the same thing. The Lord has given me that opportunity time and time again..... the opportunity to speak life through tragedy. So today, I ask that you purpose in your heart to speak life to someone's circumstances around you. I have received hundreds of cards so far since Mike's passing. All of these people have spoken life to me. Now, lets both purpose to go and do the same....
Day 69 - February 11th at 6:02pm
It's been a difficult day. Annabelle had an early morning cheer game today and my heart was already tender after learning of a friends unexpected death overnight. So, we are driving down the road to Anna's game and I heard Mike's voice. Stunned, I listened and found that Annabelle had Mike's phone and was playing his saved videos. I had purposefully not watched any videos or listened to his voice since he died and hearing it today felt like a knife to my chest. I wanted to yell at Anna and force her to turn it off immediately but when I heard her giggles, I remained silent, while the tears flowed down my face. It made her so happy, but me so sad. Why does hearing his voice make the pain reappear? I've been feeling so confident.... so sure of myself.... and hearing his voice sent me back to 9 1/2 weeks ago when I was trying to dig myself out of this pit of sorrow and despair. I pulled myself together and went to the game. We had an appointment to look at a house at noon, but on the way there we had a few minutes to kill, so in our house search, we ended up on Car Farm Road, which is where Mike's grave is. As I turned in and drove to the cemetery, my heart hurt so bad. I came to his grave. He doesn't have his headstone yet and there is no way to put flowers on his grave, except for the one silk white rose that someone had stuck in the ground and his name plate. I haven't been by there since the day of his funeral and seeing his grave like that made me sad, feeling like I don't care about him or his grave. I know that's not true in my head, but my heart says different. I guess it's just an accumulation of passing our meeting anniversary, and upcoming Valentine's Day and our 15 year wedding anniversary that is March 2nd, but I just can't quit crying. When I have these "pothole days" I automatically want to "fix it" so I can feel better, but there is no quick fix when it comes to a broken heart. I'm glad that days like today are getting further and further apart because crying just makes my head pound. I was able to mask it since the kids had headphones on and I was wearing sunglasses and thankfully, I got myself together before I pulled in at the house showing. I then had to finish some final paperwork on Mike's civic and I had to run by the church for some tax stuff. (What a nightmare filing taxes is going to be!) Walking into the sanctuary was even difficult, confirming my choice to step away was the right one for me. I look forward to crawling into my bed in a few house knowing that "His mercies are new every morning." I need a new morning.
Day 71 - February 13th at 7:11am
Tomorrow will be 10 weeks: Throughout my life, I have always been a good sleeper. I can fall asleep within minutes and stay asleep all night. I've never really been a late morning sleeper, or much of a napper, unless I'm super tired, but these last few nights, I have NOT slept good. Last night I woke up about 10 different times, thinking Anna was about to roll off the bed, or dreaming crazy dreams, or just waking up for no reason. My sleep has been so restless and I hate it! I tried a new pillow last week..... BAD idea. Maybe I need to boot Anna out of here and send her back to her bed, but truthfully she hasn't slept in her room since the accident. I'm hoping it's just a phase that won't last long because I can see how restless sleep affects my mood and temperament. I checked out a gym last week and I wonder if working out a few times each week will help. Some of my friends have said it helped them. If any of you guys who are reading this can offer any suggestions, I'm open. :) Otherwise, add this to your prayer list for me. Happy Monday..... much love to you all!
Day 72 - February 14th at 8:17am
It’s my first Valentines Day as a widow. I dreamed about him last night. In my dream he called me on the phone and he was talking to me about what all was going on, but it was more like he was gone on a trip than living in heaven. I haven't really dreaded today's "first" because I know my little preschoolers will make me feel loved and my mom/dad will send me flowers, like they have every year since I was in elementary school. Tonight, we will go to Lincolnton for our weekly dinner at Mom and Dad's, and my family will throw a "Valentine Party." We will eat Italian and give each other valentines. They say it's for the kids, but I know it's a way to celebrate the day without me feeling left out. Either way, I'll take it! There's no better feeling than being surrounded by people who love you. And although this Valentine's Day won't include a green bag from Sherrill's Jewelry and it won't include a husband walking into the preschool with flowers, I am making a choice to focus on those in the present. I will love and be loved by my children, my family and my friends. But most of all, I will be loved by my Savior who has seen me through the darkest days of my life. Today I will "lean not on my own understanding" but I will "acknowledge Him in all my ways" and know that through my ups and downs, He remains constant. His love never fails. So, Happy Valentines Day friends. I love you and appreciate your encouragement more than you'll ever know. With love, Ashley ❤️ P.s. Make this day count! We are not promised tomorrow.
This is a perfect example of how my day has gone..... blessed and highly favored at every turn. I get home tonight and find a dozen roses at my door, not from a secret love, but an honest to goodness personal love, who reminds me that he, his wife and children have not forgotten me..... that I am loved and important. All day today, it's been this way with messages, texts, phone calls and gifts. I got to the kids' school this afternoon and someone had sent special gifts for our whole family! It's just so humbling. So, thank you for making us feel so genuinely loved today!!!!! ❤️
Day 73 - February 15th at 11:31pm
I feel a stirring in my spirit tonight. Mike would use that term frequently when he would minister in the pulpit and I feel it tonight in my spirit. It's almost like there is an eager anticipation of things to come in my soul. I read a statement today that I've said over and over again in my mind..... "The Lord gave us the armor of God so that we would have the power to stand and fight alone." I've fought all day with the feelings that I am not enough for my children and that without Mike here, they won't have what they need to grow and be happy, successful, contented adults. That because their dad is gone, they will never be all that they could be because he is not here to pour into their lives. How do you fight those feelings and thoughts? Are we all permanently damaged because of our circumstances or will the scars that we have developed scab over and empower us to do things we would have never had the confidence to do before? I choose to believe that God has given me the weapons and the power to fight alone. I have strapped on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation. I am armed with the sword of the Spirit and I will use my praise as a weapon against any lie the devil throws at me. Me and my children are not salvaged goods that you buy discounted at the back of the grocery store. We are His prized possessions, bought with a price. I choose to believe that all my children have endured will be a piece of the big puzzle that Is yet to be pieced together. I know that God has some super big things planned for me and my children and I am thankful to be used by God for His purposes.