Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Sister, My Friend.

 "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away." 

When Holly was barely ten weeks old, I began singing this lullaby to her on a daily basis. She was my Christmas present when I was in the 6th grade, when I was twelve years ago. I remember picking her out like it was yesterday...she was so pudgy and she actually attempted to crawl away from me while I was looking at her litter of sisters and brothers. For some reason, mainly because she was so perfectly white and beautiful, I knew I had to have HER. I wouldn't get her until Christmas Eve, because she was going to my biggest and most special gift that year. I remember Dad going to get her, a couple of hours away from our house, and as soon as I saw his lights coming down our road I sprinted towards the door. My mom asked, "Do you have a name yet?" I wanted something Christmasey and I don't really remember WHO picked the name Holly, but that was what we settled on moments before I had her in my arms. And for whatever reason, I wanted her middle name to be LOU. Holly Lou Rogers. She was the Christmas angel that my family had desperately been waiting for.

She was supposed to be an outdoor dog. My brother Nathan has always had deadly allergies to cat and dog dander, so this was never up for debate. Dad custom built her a huge pen outside as well as an entry through the barn where she would have a built in wooden bed, carpeted areas, and a space heater to keep her warm. Christmas morning I woke up almost before the sun, barely put a coat on, and ran outside to greet my new baby sister. She was grunting, which we eventually learned would be one of her biggest indications of pure joy, and I swooped her in my arms. She nibbled on my coat sleeve and I kissed her face a million times. I remember being scared to put her in the blankets of snow that waited us outside the barn door, because she was so white and so small, I was terrified she would get lost!! My dad had created a pathway from the barn to the house though, so I made sure that she walked beside me down the path and I took her inside to our pool room. [My family has an indoor pool that is a building attached to our house. Mom and Dad said I could play with her in there because Nathan rarely went into the poolroom, and she needed to be able to run and play. I played so long in that room with her, chasing her around the pool [she fell in MUCH too often and that is probably why until the day she passed, she was never fond of water like the rest of Labs.] When the rest of my family woke up, she was allowed to be on the couch with me while I opened my stocking and I remember so clearly putting a giant red bow on the top of her head. I was wearing blue pajamas that had cows jumping over the moon on them and they were from Limited Too. I have no idea why I have never forgotten why I was wearing this particular outfit, maybe because of the pictures we have of Holly and I that Christmas morning...

From that Christmas on, from age twelve to twenty-three, Holly would forever be my closest friend. She was the sister that I had always prayed for as a child. She was the friend that I had always needed. She was the angel that always protected me. Nathan was sick very often, which put me home alone very often. [I'm sure I had some adult in the house, or that Sean was there, but I really don't recall.] I always brought Holly indoors and took her to my bed once we were done playing in the pool room. And from day one, I always sang, "You Are My Sunshine," to her. She would lay with me for hours. She was never a licker and she was always very quiet. It's like her soul knew that I just needed simple and pure comfort. When Nathan returned from one illness in the hospital, I remember he got allergy tested. They tested him for the dog allergy and everyone was shocked--it had gone away and the doctor said he was NO LONGER allergic to dogs. Holly quickly became ONLY an indoor dog, and even quicker became one of Nathan's best friends. She went everywhere with us. Mom brought her to pick us all up from school. My friends and classmates would flood the van and beg to see her. Many of them called her Holly Berry or Holly Molly and Holly Loubell. She had a million different names, and a million different fans.

At the time I got Holly, we also had another dog named Chelsie. She was a black and white border collie and lived to be fifteen years old. Holly was very young, maybe only 8 months or a year old, when it was time for Chelsie to be put to sleep for numerous health reasons. I was devastated and spent hours sobbing outdoors with Holly. I don't ever remember wondering though, "How will I ever get through this?" and that is because I had Holly by my side the entire time. She never left. I balled under our apple tree and even at one point went for a walk, sat down, and balled in the middle of our very empty dirt road. She just stared at me and waited. As I write this now, tears are streaming down my face. Holly left the world at 3:36 this morning and I didn't get to say good-bye. Mom and Dad were with her, and told her that they loved her. But as I write this, I can't help but think, "How will I ever get through this?"

Humphrey & Elsa, my two precious dogs, are lying in bed with me and they have me tucked in so tightly that I can't move my legs. I know that I am loved and that I am taken care of. I know that God is trying to comfort me and give me peace. I know He is trying to help me see that Holly was miserable and not well in her last days. She was just diagnosed with kidney cancer and everything came on so quickly... I know one can't truly prepare for times like these, but my heart was nowhere close to accepting the fact that she really would not be with us here on earth for much longer. Before she was diagnosed with cancer, Asa and I watched All Dogs Go to Heaven, because I don't think I ever watched it as a child. As I write this, I can't help but find my peace in the popular phrase that all dogs certainly must go to Heaven...

There are a lot of questions in my mind. Ones that consist of, "How will home ever be the same? How will Nathan do without his Holly? How will I be able to survive going to Michigan and walking into a house that does not house her anymore? How will I get through Elsa tearing through my parent's house looking for Holly? Will my parents throw or put away her bedding? Her toys? Her bones? How will life ever be the same?"

She blessed us with her presence for eleven years. Her twelfth birthday would have been October 30, the day before Halloween. I know she made it to the predicted lifespan of a Labrador Retriever, but I suppose there was an unrealistic mindset for me that she would live forever. How could she not?? As I close this entry, I guess I will say a small good-bye that I didn't get to tell Holly face to face...

Dear Sister,
You are my sunshine. My only sunshine. You made me happy when skies were gray. You'll never know very much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away.
Holly, you caught many of my tears on your sweet, soft, white face. You listened to my heartbreaks and you so often bore my weight when I couldn't stand on my own. You kept me company while I did my routine runs down our dirt road. You loved chasing me while I road the go-cart. In fact, that's one of the last memories I have of you, Sissy. When I was home in July and Dad got the go-cart out for me... I told you not to chase me because I knew your hips hurt and that you were very fragile, but you couldn't resist. You barked and chased me a whole half loop around the yard. I think it made you smile. It made you feel like you were young again and like life was young again.
I'm trying to understand, but nothing is making sense right now. My world is shaking but I know Heaven stands, baby girl. My heart is breaking, and you have it in your hands. I know you hate to see me cry, but I can't stop just yet...You changed my life, Holly Lou. You made my world complete. Thank you for never judging me, for holding my secrets under lock and key, for loving me when I didn't deserve to be loved, for keeping me safe, for motivating me in times I felt I couldn't go on, and for being mine.
I think you lived a good life, baby girl. I hope you enjoyed every second and I pray you felt how much you were truly loved and adored. Thank you for watching over our big brother, for being his Holly, for being the most said word and name in his vocabulary outside of Garfield in his nightly prayers. You were his just as much as you were mine.
Holly, there will never be another you. There will never ever be another dog or even person who touched my heart the way that you did. All I can say is thank you, and beg God to give me peace and comfort during time morning of pain and tears. As I write, I feel like you are still here. And when I stop to pause, this feeling of such remorse shakes my body as in my head, Mom's phone call to me plays over and over again. You're body is gone, Holly, but you will never be gone. Please don't ever forget me. I won't ever forget you.
Your Big Sister.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Long Time Coming...

The last post was January... it is now clear to me how unambitious I am at keeping up with a written blog, but alas, I will try to express some new found thoughts and things that have been going on since this past January. I also need to give credit to my beautiful sister in law, Jana Glass, for inspiring me to write. I just read some of her old posts, dating back to this past Christmas, and they reminded me that a lot has changed in my own life, that I feel needs to be "written down."

First of all, Asa and I just bought our first home! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! We are moving to Jackson street right across from Shelby Park, only about a mile away from our current Old Louisville apartment. It is a 3 bedroom, two story home, 1.5 bath, with about 1700 square feet-(Compared to our 900ish square foot 1 bedroom apartment!) It has a beautiful fenced in backyard and we are absolutely in LOVE with it. We move in July 23 with our wonderful two dogs and two cats, and we cannot wait to start using it for God's glory. Shelby Park is a very low-income, impoverished area and I know that God has people there, just waiting to meet us and hear the Gospel! 

The second piece of news that is much more personal and I hesitate even sharing on a blog... is that we came off "the pill." I had been on it since age 15, for numerous health reasons, so it had been a total of 8 years! I remember being a little girl and playing dress up and dolls with all my closest girlfriends, and I can recall how most, if not all of them, said at one time or another, "I can't wait to be a mom!" That was never me. I think I used to talk about the number of kids I would maybe have one day, but it was never something I believed I would do or most importantly, want. Asa and I have now been married for two and a half years, and during that time, all three of my sister in laws on his side have been pregnant numerous times, and I now have SEVEN nieces and nephews--well, three nieces and four nephews to be exact. [I should probably mention that they are my WORLD!] However...I would go through periods of bitterness that I was never quite able to explain. When my sister in law's Jana and Sarah, went in to labor with each child, I remember feeling so jealous and angry and emotional. Why?!? I remember calling my mom during Ryver's birth this past August, just in tears, balling my eyes out. I couldn't explain the reason! It wasn't until my friend and next door neighbor Allyson H. got pregnant and ran across the street to tell me, that I began to realize what the reasons were for what I felt, were crazy and irrational emotions... My entire life I had told people, "I don't want a baby. I don't want children. Asa and I aren't having children." I called my mom [clearly my "go-to person for all events...] and expressed how upset I was. Again, I was experiencing bitterness, jealousy, frustration, which clearly was not fair to feel even internally, since pregnancy is supposed to be a time of celebration and joy! My mom was so sweet with me, and she very gently said, "Ashley, until you admit that you want to be pregnant, that you want your very own baby... you are not going to feel better." I had been telling myself for as long as I could remember, that I could not have children, that I shouldn't have a baby, and for what reason? I think basically I had scared myself so dearly as a child, that I had trapped myself into believing these things. For those who are reading this and those who know my family, my oldest brother has severe cerebral palsy. I was the youngest child, and I remember specifically saying while I was in kindergarten or first grade, "I wish I was handicapped so I would get attention too!" WHAT A HORRENDOUS THING TO SAY, I realize that!! And I also remember being in the fourth grade, wondering what life would be like if Nathan were not in our lives... the very next morning I awoke to him having a Grand Mal, near death, seizure. I think maybe it was from that point on, that I convinced myself that I too, would have a handicapped child, all because of my horrible, sinful thoughts towards my very own blood brother. 

Nathan is a living, breathing, walking miracle. Period. He is the glue that has kept our family of five together, he is the reason for my other brother Sean and I's friendship and extreme bond, he is the main reason that I know God exists, and that it was God who created life and who takes life away. He is the reason I know that Heaven is real, and the main reason why I look forward to going there someday. When Nathan gets to Heaven, he will dance through those pearly gates, down the street of gold, and shout with joy that Jesus is real! Nathan is my hero. 

I went through periods of being jealous of Nathan [even jealous that he would be in the hospital because you see, "it gave him more attention.] Then I went through periods of being so overwhelmed with love for him, that I couldn't stop trying to help him read and learn and do flash cards. I have always LOVED Nathan. But clearly I struggled with emotions being the baby sister and having a brother with such special and severe needs...I wasn't able to grasp much of this until late middle school, when the feelings of jealousy ended and the love and pride took over...however, by that point I had already convinced myself that I probably shouldn't "be a mother," because in the past, I had been so fickle and I was scared of how I would handle the sheer possibly of having a son or daughter like Nathan.
Thank Jesus, for forgiveness and grace. I realize so often as I stand at the foot of the cross, how sinful of a person I truly am. I think it is safe to say that I owe much of my salvation to Nathan, and I can't wait for the day when I tell him at Jesus' side, how very much he changed my life.

All of this being said... 

I am married to a very wonderful and Godly man. The past several months, he showed me so much honesty, grace, love and patience and has shown me how blessed I am to be his. It was several months ago, when I was ending a stressful and emotional work week, and I had been careless with my pill that month--my emotions/hormones were all out of whack. We were watching a TV show, I don't even remember which one, and I just started quietly crying. We started talking and Asa said, "If you're not already pregnant, I'm going to be shocked." [I had been having strange food cravings and for me being a food cravings nut all the time, it was just kind of weird for us both.] Well, I started SOBBING at that point. Internally, I was so angry and sad because I knew I wasn't pregnant, [I have been so consistent and anal with taking the birth control every single month in the past. ] My husband knows me so well... he wrapped his arms around me and said, "Morgan, I think we need to be done with the pill. You are so upset right now because you feel like you can't be pregnant, and I think it is time." I started sobbing harder. It was very, very hard for me, painful almost, to admit that now, as a 23 year old woman, that I may actually desire this, something I had convinced myself into believing I would never, ever want. 

Only time will tell...but I will say this is the biggest "change" happening in my own personal life, and life with Asa. When I talked about possibly having kids, I would say, "Maybe when I'm 28 or 29..." which doesn't even make sense, because I knew I never wanted to be in my 30's having kids. So with all of those hypothetical questions and feelings of despair and irrational emotions... here we are now, a long time coming, as we await God's work and for His will to be done. Also I must say, I was never mad at my sister-in-laws or friends who got pregnant and had babies. I was always so excited for them, but somehow upset with myself. I don't want anything I've written to be misconstrued into something else. My friend Allyson is due October 19 and I have been documenting her week by week "bump." I am loving every second. It is so fun looking online and seeing what the estimated size of her baby girl currently is, as she grows and nurtures inside of Ally's womb. 

God is such a beautiful God, and I am so grateful that He has opened my eyes and shown me nothing but grace and love everlasting.

Monday, January 31, 2011

98 Years

January 30, 2011

Even though you have not seen him, you LOVE him. Though you do not now see him, you BELIEVE in him and rejoice with JOY that is inexpressible and filled with glory- 1 Peter 1:8

I'm on Aslan's side even if there is no Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian even if there isn't any Narnia- The Silver Chair C.S Lewis

Dear Gram,

I have believed in a Savior my entire life, which is a mere 22 years. Sometimes I cannot even begin to fathom what it must be like believing in Christ and professing the name of Jesus for not just 22 years, but for 98. While I realize you did not exit your mother's womb believing or knowing who Christ Jesus is, I know that at a very young age you learned and wanted Him for your own. You have taught your own children and your children's children what the love of Christ means, what it looks like, and to always trust it. I was reading 1 Peter yesterday morning and realized that the reason I find the passage so incredibly beautiful and inspiring, is because it sounds and looks like YOU. “While you have not seen him, you LOVE him. Though you do not now see him, you BELIEVE in him.” I cannot imagine all of the things you have seen in the past 98 years...I remember you telling Sean and I about the time the bobby pin was invented, and about the Great Depression. I used to ask you if you were affected or harmed by the Great Depression and you would tell me all about the farm and how you and your family never had to seriously worry about obtaining food or resources because of it. But I also cannot imagine the scary things you have seen or have been told—and when I try to fathom 98 years, almost a CENTURY, and the events that have unfolded, well, I am constantly reminded that the most important thing about those years is that you have loved and believed in Jesus.
I do not remember if you have read the C.S Lewis series “The Lion, The Witch & The Ward rope,” but they have always been an encouragement to me. Asa's family grew up reading them and when he and I first met, he explained that that series is what helped him greater appreciate and understand what salvation means and what Heaven looks like. One of my absolute favorite quotes from the land of Narnia is the one I wrote above, as I think that it really resembles how I view Christianity and Heaven. I'm on Aslan's side (God's side) even if there is no Aslan (God) to lead it. I'm going to live like a Narnian (Christian) even if there is no Narnia (Heaven) in the end. You are living proof that an individual can have solid faith, everlasting love, and a passion for something that is so clearly NOT just a religion.
Gram, I have told you often, but never enough, that I love you. You are my biggest hero, my inspiration, my hope and the largest reason next to my own mother, that I love God and aspire to be faithful my entire life. You have been so kind and perhaps vulnerable, to let me have or maybe permanently borrow, some of your these, I only continue to find more and more evidence of a Proverbs 31 woman: a woman who loved deep, worked hard, cared sincerely, and endured daily. I want to share something personal that I read from your entry January 30, 1993—your 80th birthday:
“It was a blessed time—just one sad time—John couldn't be with me. He would have had his 80th birthday last June. I know he's happier there in Heaven then he would be at any celebration, but oh I do miss him so much. Sometimes it seems I miss him more—not less.”
Gram, 18 years later and I am absolutely positive you feel the same way. I have never really shared with you how emotional it sometimes makes me to remember that you have been without your John, my grandpa, for 22 years. I was four years old when you wrote that entry in 1993 and today I am 22. As a four year old, I had no idea what loss truly was, sorrow, or what it was like to be without someone that I loved. Now that I have been married for two years, I have come to an understanding of what true love is, Christ like love, genuine and absolute. Two years is not long to be married to someone, but it is long enough that I sometimes will cry over the mere thought of losing my Asa...I say all of this to say, THANK YOU for being strong. Grandma, thank you for not giving up, thank you for holding on, and thank you for loving us the way that you do, even though I do know day by day, life may not get any easier. One last thing from your journal, New Years Day 1990:
“You see, I am just an ordinary person with no great about me, but nevertheless, I am precious in the Lord's sight because He cared enough to die for me.”

If you are “just an ordinary person” than I want to say the deepest thing you have taught me is this: Ordinary people can do extraordinary things, and that is EXACTLY what you have done! You have done extraordinary things for the Lord, for my family, for me personally, for our family's faith, for MY faith, and today, on your 98th birthday, I want to say THANK YOU for being MY EXTRAORDINARY PERSON!

I will love you always and forever and ever. Happy Birthday, Grammy.


Your baby granddaughter, Ashley Morgan

January 30, 2011 was my Grandma's 98th birthday, as the letter above states. It was a blessing and a honor to be a part of it. She deserves the world and I am so grateful that she is my grandmother! 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Day!

So far Jefferson County has had five snow days!! We are now down to finishing the school year on June 3rd. In all honesty though, I LOVE snow days and I'll take as many as we can get :D I'll teach until the middle of June if needed! Here are some fun photos I captured of our day. [We went over to Asa's parents house for blueberry pancakes and coffee, and enjoyed time with most of the siblings!] Here are some fantastic photos of Arie Rikku, our 3 year old niece!  

Here is the other Glass's new pup: A goldendoodle named Eliot! He is 11 weeks old and absolutely WONDERFUL! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

3 Day Weekend

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day which allowed for yet another day off school and teaching! So I did the usual: drank coffee, stayed in pajamas literally all day, and ran my dogs at the park to wear them out all the while to attempt to get more photos. It was a great day. Three days off of work and selfishly, I would love to have more, but I am ready to get back to the fourth graders tomorrow and to hammer out this four day work week! :) To God be the Glory!! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Brand New Year. Welcome, 2011!

A brand new year! I am so excited! We are part of a new church, the Avenue, where God has enriched our souls greatly! This summer we are going to try to do a mission to either Haiti or Romania (I would DIE to go to Romania....EUROPE has always been a goal of mine to see and experience, and it would be SO fantastic if I could be there doing missions while I experience it!!!) 
Some other recent updates are:  I'll be finishing 15 hours of my grad school in a couple of months, Asa has a teaching job with a teaching salary, I'm substitute teaching full time for 8 weeks at Dixie Elementary, teaching 4th grade for a teacher on maternity leave--and from there I go to Peace Academy, a state Psych school where my wonderful sis-in-law also teaches, and I'll be finishing up my year teaching middle school English. I pray that it will possibly lead to me getting HIRED as a teacher there at Peace, as I love the school, the kids, the principle, everything! And I would LOVE to work with Jana. I submitted some of my dog photos to TF Publishing, who e-mailed me saying they would love to use them for their 2012 Dog-A-Day calendar and 2012 desktop calendars as well. I won't get reimbursement for them, but it WILL count as a publication and I am thrilled about that. One of my biggest goals for 2011 was "to get published," and 6 days in to the new year, that happened! I hope to get better at my pet photography, get more subjects to shoot, and to also be published in Brown Trout calendars, as they are another huge publishing company. Below are some photos of my Golden, Elsa, who always sits so patiently as I take her picture! I love my Golden Girl! Happy 2011, Everyone! May this be a blessed and eventful year! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


So basically I just should no longer have a blog... I am terrible at keeping up with it and I'm starting to think it's just pretty lame anyway. It's almost Thanksgiving, and Christmas as well as my 2 year wedding anniversary is quickly approaching! How is that even possible? That we've been married TWO years??? Wow! I thought weeks and months flew by! So does YEARS! 
I can't wait to go home to Michigan December 18th and be with my FAMILY for an entire WEEK! It has been FOREVER!! I hope there is tons and tons and tons of snow! A blizzard every single day! I would be in Heaven. I'm also excited because Sean and Beth will be there too at that exact time so the Rogers family of 5 will finally ALL BE TOGETHER! Woo hoo!!!!!!!! :) 
Asa and I are staying the night in the bed and breakfast where we enjoyed our honeymoon and are even staying in the same suite! I am so so so excited! Jacuzzi baths, a DELICIOUS breakfast brought to us by Pat, the innkeeper, and strolling the streets of downtown Holland, MI. LOVE this! 

I am quitting my job here at Kosair and my last day is December 10th. At that point I will have worked here just shy of 9 months.... again, time flies! I will lose my benefits and our health insurance, but we are going to try really hard to buy our own private insurance which shouldn't be a problem. I will be the long term sub at Dixie Elementary for a teacher who will be out on maternity leave; this is where Asa is the preferred sub and where he teaches every day. It will be SO FUN to go to work with him 5 days a week for 6+ weeks! I LOVE that school, I love the kids, the teachers, and I LOVE working with Ace. 
I am so ready to be done forever with 12 hour shifts and the business that the hospital environment brings. I am SO SO grateful to God for his grace and mercy for showing me that nursing was NOT the field I desired after all! I can't fathom if I had enrolled in nursing school at this point... 

By mid December I will have completed 9 hours of grad school in my MAT in Special Education :) I am enjoying it so far and I can't wait to have my own classroom. We are still seeking God's will as we both wait for contracts. . . 

We have started attending a brand new church, called the Avenue. It is such a gift from God! I mean... every single service it's like I FEEL Jesus in the room with us. I can feel his warmth and love just spreading all around us! Ben Hardman is the pastor; he is a husband to Sarah and a father to three adorable kids! He is one of the best speaker's I have ever listened to. There are a LOT of young married couples in the church and we have become friends with so many! The church is just now 7 weeks old and it is incredible... One of my newest and closest friend's, Allyson Harper, is amazing :) She is such a blessing in my life!! And it's been AMAZING to grow closer to Susannah Gilbert, an old Glass family friend who is 23, and one of the most incredible, Godly, loving woman I know! 

This summer Asa and I are going to try to go on a mission trip with Allyson and her family to Romania on a vision clinic mission trip for 14 days. We will have to raise ~$8,000 though, so we need to send out fundraising letters ASAP. I am dying to leave the country with Ace, especially before we have children (which God willing, may never happen but who knows what He has in store so I won't say "never....") My heart is soooo outside of America and soooo is interested in any other country.... I know that may sound terrible because America has our own poverty, despair, sadness and an abundance of non-believers... but my heart longs to travel and see the world! So I am praying God's will through this hope of mine...

Those are pretty much the biggest updates for now. I am excited for December 10th and to substitute teach the next 5 days after that and then after THAT, to hit the road home to Michigan with our PUPS! WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!! 
I am forever grateful to my Savior for the plentiful blessings he keeps providing us with!