Monday, March 31, 2014

Boots or Bows?! & An Extra Surprise!

I have been eagerly waiting to post this blog! Josh and I found out last Thursday whether baby #2 was a boy or a girl, and it was the hardest thing to keep a secret!

I knew once we found out we were expecting again that there would be a lot of emotions. Sawyer should be here for all of this, and he isn't which makes it really hard sometimes. Right after we found out the gender we drove to his grave to let him know if he would be having a baby brother or a baby sister! I know he is going to be watching over his sibling no matter what, and what an awesome big brother they have!

Gender reveal parties are all the rage now, but this was really special to Josh and I because this baby is such a blessing. We wanted to get our families and a few friends together and tell them all at the same time so we could all celebrate and rejoice together. When we found out Sawyer was a boy, I couldn't contain my excitement and called everyone that NIGHT! Ha! I tried to avoid people this go around so I wouldn't spill the beans, but that didn't stop people from trying to figure it out.

Our party theme was Boots or Bows, and I tried my hardest to make everything come together and match the theme! Here are some pictures from the party:






My mom found these at the store, and we knew they had to be a part of the special day :)

"Old Wives Tales" point to BOY!





So thankful my mom picked these up, a wonderful way for us to include Sawyer :)








 Now! For the BIG reveal :) Josh and I chose to do silly string and let our parents and siblings spray us - EEK!


Everyone who voted Boots! (plus our pups haha)

Everyone who voted Bows!

Getting READY!

I was so nervous - haha

AND THE RESULTS--



IT'S A GIRL!!!!!

Now, I said there was an extra surprise... & there is :) This 'TOP SECRET' box was lurking at our feet the whole time with everyone wondering what was inside!




 Everyone knows we wanted to keep Sawyer's name a secret, and we did that successfully until he was born! With that, though, came the use of all the nicknames in the book - Peanut, Baby M, Baby Murphy. I wasn't feeling using those again for this baby, because they held so much meaning for Sawyer so we decided to reveal the name at the party - and NO ONE knew we were even doing that which made me SO nervous!




Rhory Camille Murphy coming September 2014 :)

We are so excited! We have had our 16 week appointment and so far everything looks great. We go back for a 20 week scan, and this is where they discovered Sawyer's heart defect, so we are asking for prayers that this 20 week appointment looks perfect for little Rhory :)

Love, 
Ashlyn

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 Congential Heart Walk - May 10, 2014

Although we should be planning a first birthday party for Sawyer and reminiscing of all the memories we made during his first year of life, we aren't.

Josh left the planning up to me, and I struggled with what to even do. Sawyer's birthday is on a Friday and we will be doing something with our families then, but I wanted to do something bigger. Something that a lot of you could participate in, if you feel led to do so.

May 10, 2014 is the Congenital Heart Walk here in the Greater Atlanta area at Stone Mountain Park. I would love to have you walk with us in honor/memory of our Sawyer. If you cannot walk, you can also give a donation that goes to the Adult Congenital Heart Association and the Children's Heart Foundation. I am wanting to create a shirt that we can all wear the day of the walk, but that is still a work in progress. Our fundraising goal is $1,000 for Sawyer's first birthday. Any amount you give will be such a blessing to both of these organizations!

                                   

You can find more details on our fundraising page, here , and you can make donations through this link.

*EDIT* -  I have removed the link for Walker Registration. The registration was strange and created SEPARATE fundraising pages for EACH walker which would be different that the goal we have set for Sawyer's first birthday. So, with that being said, please just mark your calendars for May 10 if you intend to walk and we will head to Stone Mountain Park at 8:30 AM to register and get ready for the walk at 9 AM! Please let me know if you are planning on coming so I can make you aware of the meeting place for our "group"! If you want to go through the hassle of registration online, feel free but it isn't required for you to be able to walk with us!

  Sawyer's first birthday is going to be harder than either of us could imagine, but I think participating in this walk with our friends and family and raising money and awareness for something so close to our hearts is going to help us make it through. We are so thankful for all of the love and support you all have shown us through this last year. It breaks my heart it has been a year, sometimes it feels like yesterday and others it feels like it was 10 years ago.I want to be picking out birthday invitations and his birthday outfit, but I have to focus on celebrating his life and remembering the impact he has had on us all.

I look forward to raising money and awareness for CHD's and also participating in this walk with our family and friends!

Let me know if you have any questions, or need help registering to walk.

Love,
Ashlyn

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pregnancy After Loss

I haven't written much lately, and it is because I really don't know where to begin. My emotions are in overdrive, and in a completely new way now. I have kept most of it to myself for fear of being judged or misunderstood because the truth is that most people who haven't experienced what we are going through just don't get it. 

I never believed that getting pregnant and having another child would make me feel better, in certain ways it has added to my grief. I do know, however, that Josh and I desperately want a family and we couldn't live in our grief for years on end. Our grief will never truly be over and if we waited for it to end we would never have any more children. Grief changes with time, but it never disappears. A piece of my heart will always be with Sawyer, missing him every day. I saw a quote once that said "I will stop talking about my child who passed away, when you stop talking about your living children." I find this quote to hold so much truth. I sometimes feel that people wonder when I will stop talking about Sawyer. The answer is that I won't. He is just as much my child whether he is in my arms or not and that will never go away. My grief has transformed through this pregnancy. I miss the things I won't be doing with Sawyer and his future siblings. I wish I was buying a double stroller, or wondering how I was going to take care of two children. Instead I am wondering how to keep Sawyer's memory alive for his future brothers and sisters so they always know about him. He will always be a part of our family.

Since announcing our pregnancy I have been asked a few questions that I really want to address here, so hopefully you will all understand.

1. Was Sawyer's condition genetic, or could it happen again?

Not that it matters, but no it was not genetic. This was determined early on in my pregnancy with Sawyer by testing they did at the specialists. His heart condition was just one of those REALLY rare occurrences that could happen to anyone, it just happened to us. Technically, it could happen again, but we stand the same chance as every other person. We have been praying since day one, and even before then that this baby will be healthy with no health issues.

2. Do you want a boy or a girl?

We don't have a preference, except for a healthy baby. Honestly I can't say one way or the other because I really just want a baby to come home with us.

3. Have you been sick? I hear that means it is a healthy baby!

Please don't say this to me. I was incredibly sick with Sawyer, and he wasn't healthy. So, when I hear this, it does not comfort me at all. I am very sick, but I am thankful. Thankful God has blessed us again, and thankful for his love and mercy through this last year of our lives.


I am going to try and blog through this pregnancy, just as I did with Sawyer. I am currently seeing the doctor every two weeks and will continue to do so. Our "official" due date is September 11, 2014. We are finding out the gender, but most likely will be keeping the name a secret. I know how much you all love that! 

I am still trying to become comfortable in my own skin. I still can't go in the baby section at a store. I feel weird going to baby showers. When I see a little boy about Sawyer's age, my heart aches. I know some of these things will go away, but that last feeling won't. His one year birthday is approaching faster than I ever wanted it to but I am trying to quickly solidify the plans I have to celebrate and remember. We would love if you could all be a part, as well. I will share more details once we make the final decision on what exactly we want to do. 

Thank you for loving us through losing Sawyer. Thank you for loving us through the announcement of our next pregnancy. Thank you for surrounding us with your prayers of comfort and peace, God has heard and He has answered. I used to sing the song "Blessed Be Your Name" with no real understanding of the lyrics that say "You give and take away, but blessed be your name". Through losing Sawyer my heart was bitter at times. I didn't want to thank God for anything because I couldn't thank Him for the one thing I really wanted. I have since been shown His grace and mercy that He is good and His plan is far greater than any I could conjure up. God does give, but He also takes away - something Josh and I have experienced in the last year in a way I wish no one else would have to experience. God has given us another blessing, one that will be just as special as the first.

Stay tuned for our plans to celebrate Sawyers first birthday!

Until next time,
Ashlyn

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - RESULTS!

I have been completely slacking on getting this done. We went out of town for New Years and then I started back teaching and my Master's class so I was somewhat preoccupied. Better late than never right :)

I am excited to share everything that was done! I did try to condense some, and combine others. I left out names, for privacy reasons (some of the stories were pretty personal). I also had a hard time posting pictures, so for now there are none :/ The stories are separated by every other story being italicized. I tried to fix spelling errors, but there were so many that I didn't check them all.

Here goes!

I will start with mine!


- I handed out cookies and cupcakes at various stores in Bethlehem and Snellville. Working in retail during the holidays can total stink, so I tried to brighten some people's day.
- Paid for the two people behind me in line at McDonald's.
- Left some treats for our mailman,
- Paid for a little boys haircut.
- Gave two 100% tips and paid for different people's meals at a sit-down restaurant.


Others:
-Cleaned a friend's house.

-See the lane to the right in this picture? (I can't post the picture, but I am trying!) It becomes a turn only lane past that intersection. It is a HUGE pet peeve of mine how people get in that lane and then cut people off by getting in the left lane - ie, MY LANE. I rarely let people over because it drives me crazy.

But today I decided that I would start. Every time I have the opportunity to be gracious, I will do it. No matter what, I will start allowing people to move over, because it is the act of kindness they may need and it is certainly the change of heart I need.


-Baked homemade chocolate chip cookies for the Sylvester Cancer Center team of Miami, FL. My first RACK. More coming soon. I know you or your mommy and daddy don't know me, but for someone so sweet and small you sure know how to make a big impact on people's lives. Mine especially. Thank you for your forever RACK. Thank you for inspiring us to make a difference in a strangers life this season. Warmest Blessings and Prayers to the Murphy family this season. God Bless you all. 

- Ashlyn and Josh,
I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of RACK this Christmas season! Tonight I was going to FedEx to print out the cards (our printer is broken), when I got there a family was in their car to leave. Their battery was dead and I thankfully had jumper cables to help them out. It is so bitter cold here and it felt so nice to be able to help out a family in need. I only wish that I had the cards already printed so that they could email yall too. The FedEx employees were so nice as they didn't charge me for printing the cards. I told them all about Sawyer and what we are all doing this year. I plan on taking them some cookies tomorrow. I hope and pray that so many people are blessed by Sawyer's story this Christmas season.
Thank you so much for sharing Sawyer with me. He has made me learn to slow down and be more thankful even for the little things in life. Merry Christmas! I love yall and I pray that God will continue to bless yall!



-I RACKd the ladies at the AirForce Village Assisted living by doing their makeup before their big Christmas "dance". As I applied make up to each face I told them the story of Sawyer and they loved being a part of your Christmas.


-Making candy canes with Sawyer's message for postman, various neighbors and people I come in contact with!   I got RACK'ED ....... The lady sitting in front of me at iHop paid for my breakfast...

-Dear Ashlyn and Josh,

Your courage and faith in God continue to be an inspiration to me. You all are in our prayers.I know God is working through you and your story, and I appreciate all the ways you see that, too. This year, we had the opportunity to partner with an organization called Pride For Parents. Typically, they function in South Atlanta, but a neighborhood group our Church supports partnered with them to bring a second event to Tucker, GA. They take donated toys and gifts for parents who have limited funds to purchase gifts. They re-price these gifts for the parents to a fraction of their original cost so the parents can purchase the gifts for their children, instead of just accepting a hand out.

We felt you and Sawyer would appreciate knowing these children to have the opportunity to open a new
toy on Christmas morning.



-I told you the story of being to share Sawyers prayer pocket to a grandfather who's granddaughter had been born with a heart condition. Her name was Camryn and she went to play with Sawyer in heaven after living 80 days here on earth. Her grandfather and her grandmother came to see me the other day. Tom* only has three months to live and Pam's* job is ending the end of this month. Pam said her faith in God was teetering after Camryns death but now she knows there is no God because if there were He would not allow these things to happen. Your words rang in my heart, "just listen". I told her that I could not imagine the pain, stress and frustration she was going through but I did know someone that does, our Heavenly Father. I provided them with hard fact info about his benefits (as this is my job) and told them that Sawyer and Camryn were preparing with the angels for Jesus birthday. I told them I would pray that they would be able to feel God's loving arms carrying them through this difficult time and I hoped they would allow me to help anyway I could. She told me she would mail me Sawyers prayer pocket. I asked her to keep it as a reminder that I would be praying for them and when she felt ready she could share Camryn and Sawyers story with someone else who needed to hear about their precious lives and give them Sawyer s prayer pocket. Thank you for allowing me to share his story and God's love. We love you, Josh and Sawyer forever and always.


-Made Peppermint Hot Cocoa and Chocolate M&M cookie mixes for our neighbors and some friends. We just moved here less than 2 months ago. We started the elf"ed" game in our neighborhood and put these treats on the porches of the people in our cul-de-sac. I saw your post and added in Sawyer's Racked cards to our gifts. Hopefully, when the elf someone....they will also add in Sawyer's cards too. Merry Christmas you guys!!!! Love ya!!

-Hello,  I have a story of a random act of kindness that happened to me yesterday.
It didn't transpire directly from the RACK'ed project, but it brought attention and prayers your way.

I was trying to order some cookies from a little pastry shop in Boston that my dad loves for Christmas.  We live in Georgia now and he always talks about how great they were.
My sister and I took him to Boston this past year for his 75th birthday and he feels that will be his last trip ever going to our hometown.
When I went to check out, the fee for shipping was over three times the amount of my order and I was very frustrated!
I posted on Facebook my frustration in hopes that one of our family members could ship the package and I would reimburse them.

A high school friend whom I haven't spoken to in 20 years saw my post and offered to take the train to the pastry shop and then ship them for me...and wouldn't accept any payment from me.  It was her Christmas gift to my family.
I was floored by her offer and she kept saying "it's just cookies!"
But it wasn't just cookies, it was pure kindness, and we don't see that often enough.
I shared with her your blog and the Random Act Of Kindness cards.  She was so touched by your story and this project.
She did it out of pure thoughtfulness, and through it, she is now praying for your family also.


-Hello,

The recipients of our RACKing may not have access to a computer, so I wanted to send this email on their behalf.

My son and I put together "blessing bags" that we will keep in my car for when we see the homeless or someone in need holding signs at stoplights.
During this season, we packed the bags full of warm socks, cough drops, non perishable snacks, toothpaste/brushes, soap, lotion, chapstick, and Kleenex.
We made 10 bags in memory of Sawyer.

We continue to pray for your family and are sending warm thoughts your way this Christmas


-I paid for a lady's order at World's Delights and Coffee in Dacula. She was SO surprised...it was fun!

I ordered a special treat tray from my friend at The Purple Peach Bakery in Dacula to be delivered to a lady who lost her son in a motorcycle accident this past summer.

Tipped 100% of our bill to our waitress at Waffle House for lunch today!

Sawyers Greatgrandmother Cammie brought me a cash gift to use however I would like. She suggested Starbucks! Instead I have decided to share it with my 2 assistants, along with a little extra to thank them for working so hard and helping to make our new business get off to a great  start! Thanks Sawyer and Greatgrandmama!

I decided to bake some yummy Christmas cookies and deliver them. I took a batch to the bank I used to work at and also to my ob/gyn's office. I was part of a running group and we had a little get together so I took a bunch of bags of cookies with cards on them. Since the people at FedEx were so sweet to not charge me to print out the rack cards I took them a batch too! James and I are a part of a mom & me group through a church and they are having a book exchange and I placed a rack'ed card in the book! We are also donating toys to Toys for Tots and I'm gonna put rack'ed cards on each toy. I really hope that I was able to bless a few people by sharing Sawyer's story with them. I know I am blessed to have been able to share his story! 

Josh and Ashlyn this is *one of my students*. He has one of the most loving spirits in spite of the hardships in his life. Most days he arrives at school with dirty clothes, no socks, and needing a bath. He shoe laces drag the ground and I always get on my knees to tie them. I get the blessing of teaching him to read. He has some learning issues but responds to interventions as I interact with lots of love. I wish you could have seen his eyes when I put the Velcro light up Sketchers on his feet! He told me his mom had never bought him a pair of shoes. In the shoebox was a comic strip book and he grabbed it up. Later in the day I saw him with his mentor from a local church. His Christmas present to her was the comic book.... how precious. My prayer is that this RACK will impact a child and his future.

We received a generous donation here at the animal shelter along with your RACK'ed card. Thank you for the donation. We very much appreciate it. - Northeast Georgia Animal Shelter

Nana and I Racked the Shorter University Leadership Fund with a special Christmas contribution to Shorter's Special Leadership Fund.  This fund is used to provide scholarships, mission trips and other special needs as determined by the President and his Leadership team.  So each time The Leadership Team grants a special gift to a student, Sawyer will be honored and remembered.  

We are so pleased that you encouraged us to perform this random act of Christmas kindness. May God be glorified!  
Today, I delivered Quik Trip cups with the first drink free to three of my
co-workers who have been good friends of mine and prayer warriors for our
family. I also taped money to the vending machine in my office. 
  
I received a fountain drink cup from QT from your Nana Marla. I can take the cup to QT and get a free drink! Praying for the family.

Merry Christmas!
Yesterday, a dear friend of mine presented me with a "RACK" card along with a Starbucks gift card. She knew how much I enjoyed Starbucks and that I too, am a grieving Mother this Christmas.  Our circumstances are different as my son left this world July 30th, at the age of 33. My son suffered an addiction to alcohol. An addiction he battled most of his adult life. The addiction won that day, as my son ended his life. He left behind his parents, a son, as well as a sister, brothers, multiple cousins, aunts, uncles etc. We remain in shock. I'm especially sad for his son and the things he won't get to do with his Father. Learning to drive a car, a first date, High School graduation, college, marriage to name just a few. I pray each day that God allows me to live a long life to help with his upbringing.  There is such a stigma surrounding suicide.  But mental illness is just that, a mental illness.

I've read through your blog and can associate with you on how some 'expect' us to be ok so soon after the death of a child.  I will never be ok.  I can and choose to continue living day by day, enjoying pockets of joy as they come. We, too are struggling as the holidays approach. We're attempting to get used to our "new normal". Some days are easier than others.

We have been and are blessed with friends, family and a wonderful church family.  They are excellent examples of 'Jesus with skin on' to us, and I stand amazed at God's goodness to me. I know I'll see my son again one day and I'm thankful that his demons are now gone, that he's been made whole and that he's with his maker.  The ONE that loves him more than we do.

I promise to pay my RACK forward and will remember your sweet family and Sawyer as I do so.

 Bought a family of four breakfast.

We donated 4 winter coats to the Partnership Against Domestic Violence in memory of Sawyer. A woman and her kids whove fled an abusive home, will have warms coats to wear this winter.

Our family made cookies and brownies for four of our neighbors in honor of Sawyer! :)

I RACK'd several people at my church and also my house cleaning ladies.

At first I couldn't think of what to do for this when Ashlyn put up the blog but then I had two twenty dollar bills left over from grocery shopping and I figured it out. I put each dollar bill in an envelope and attached the RACK card to the front then when I went to different stores today I out an envelope of the windshield on 2 different cars in the Walmart/kohls parking lot. I wanted to wait to see who came and got into the cars after I did this but that seemed kind of creepy to me the more I thought about it. Haha So 2 different people came out to $20 on their cars after shopping and hopefully could get good use out of it. Not thinking this was enough I had some extra mini nutella cups at my house so I put then in a tin and left them in our mailbox for our mail person to have and hopefully they liked them. I was going to take pictures of the envelopes on the cars but I was too worried someone would think I was doing something to someone's car that I shouldn't so I didn't. Well I really hope the people who got the money and the mail person who got the goodies really enjoyed it and felt the love of Jesus through this and Sawyer's story. I love you all and hope all these stories bring you some joy this holiday!


RACK'd the Georgia SPCA Pet Adoptions -Shared a bag full of toys for some dogs looking for forever homes. Added a few festive collars to have them looking their best when folks drop by.

We have new neighbors that are expecting a baby. They are going through a very difficult time financially and have only been together since April. They have nothing for this little gift from God so I knew I wanted to rack them in honor of Sawyer with a gift for the baby. I assumed I would come home with a cute stuffed giraffe or an outfit with a giraffe on it. However when I walked past this frame God placed it on my heart that this young couple needed a reminder to see on those tough days that this miracle is truly the greatest gift they could ever receive. Something you two have always known and done such a great job showing Sawyer and the world that he is the greatest gift you have ever received. Thank you for sharing your gift of Sawyer and his story to us and the many others. You are truly amazing parents.



Jessie and I went shopping tonight and we bought some candy canes while we were out. I had some RACK’d cards with me and when we stopped to get donuts it sounded like the girl taking our order at the drive through was having a tough day, so I gave her 2 candy canes and a card before we left. I also gave them to the clerk who checked us out at Kohl’s tonight and she got the biggest smile on her face!

We’ll be handing out more tomorrow while we’re out shopping and when we go to have our traditional Waffle House dinner tomorrow night. 
Our neighbor recently had surgery to remove cancer and then reconstructive surgery. God laid it in on my heart to give her a prayer blanket like the one that was given to me for my grandmother when she was so sick. So as a rack we fixed a prayer blanket for her and placed it on her front porch.

Hi Murphys,
We are friends with Laura and Andrew and Laura shared with us about the love that you are inviting people to share with you this Christmas.  We just had to join in!  We are currently living in Edinburgh, Scotland working with a team to set up a campus ministry for students here at the University of Edinburgh.  It is so amazing to read your story and see how God is moving in your lives and the lives you and Sawyer are touching all over the world!  We live in an apartment building and baked some bags of cookies to hang on the door handles of all of our building neighbors.  We live on the top floor (number 6!), so we are going to 'deliver' them as we walk to the Christmas Eve service at church tonight (no elevators in these old buildings!).

Thank you for sharing your story of hope and love, we are so excited to be a part of it!


Dear Murphy family,
Our lives have been touched by your sweet child in such a profound way. We have learned to take nothing for granted. We didn't have much this Christmas to give because of the expense of nursing school but we were at Ingles in Auburn and I overheard a woman tell her teen that they couldn't get bacon right now because they had to get formula for the baby. I was instantly in tears because we had so much comparatively. I didn't even have a print out of your sawyer print so I hand wrote it all out on a piece of paper after pulling it up on my phone. I knew that I had to help so I asked if I could pay for her groceries. Your story has changed the way I view my life and I thank you for that. I pray everyday for y'all and hope The Lord uplifts you on Christmas Day.


I received a gas card. It was such a blessing considering money has been tight this year.
I then bought a gift card and passed it along to an older couple in church who love the Lord and work very hard. The husband works in construction and work is not always steady. They have also experienced the loss of a child some 20+ years ago.  

We were so blessed to be invited to share kindness in memory of Sawyer this year- we made cookies and took them to our neighbors and shared Sawyer's story. It was such an incredible opportunity to share with them the power of hope in Jesus. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your story- praying for you and sending love your way today-


As you know, my life has been somewhat busy since your Uncle Andy's accident almost 5 weeks ago. With that being said, Sawyer is always in my heart! My love for him is immeasurable, and while I long to be with him, I know that God's plan for me here on Earth is not complete yet. So, I rest assured that we will all be together again one day and am at peace knowing that he is in the very place we all long to be...with our Lord and Savior! I carried out the spirit of "racking" people with great joy, but am just now finding the time to submit my list....

1. I started my random acts of kindness by paying 2 people's parking for them. I took the parking passes to them personally, as they were entering the parking lot. Each car offered to pay me, but I explained that it was my pleasure and to enjoy their day! I left both cars with as big, if not bigger, a smile on my face as they had on theirs! These people were taking their children to visit the Children's Museum in Atlanta...a place I know Sawyer would have enjoyed with his Daddy!

2. I bought lunch for one of my co-workers, who is a very dear friend as well. My co-workers all know and love Josh, Ashlyn, and Sawyer and ask about you guys ALL the time! I enjoyed treating someone to lunch in honor of my sweet Sawyer in the place where I watched him take his very first breath!

3. A very sweet young lady, whom I have known most of her life, painted Emma Grace's dollhouse for me. As a side note, she did such an incredible job...she has so much talent! Pictures to follow after Christmas! Anyway, in the "spirit of Sawyer" I gave her a fifty dollar tip when paying her for the hard work and love she put into the dollhouse...without telling her! I hope this brought her a little extra happiness at Christmas!

4. The last random act of kindness I did was to surprise my daughter by cleaning her room and bathroom while she was gone. This was just a small token of my appreciation, and one way I could give back to her for all the love and support she has given me since her Dad's accident.

I must say, I know Sawyer is so proud of the parents God blessed him with! The Random Acts of Christmas Kindness was just one of the many ways that Sawyer's story lives on and blesses people every single day! I hope that this tradition will live on year after year after year...just as our love and memories of our precious Sawyer will!

I love you guys more than you can imagine, but not more than our Lord and Savior.


The Robbins Family have been giving out candy canes to strangers everywhere from the airport to Walmart, to the Marta station, and beyond in memory of your sweet boy!
You all are in our prayers every day, but especially during this Christmas season.
You should know that although we started out RACKing, in hopes that it would brighten YOUR Christmas at least a little, that it has meant a lot to our family in ways that I can't fully explain, as well!
 
Ray RACKED a lady at the MARTA station by giving her a BREEZE card for a free ride.
I RACKed an elderly neighbor of my uncles by visiting and taking him Christmas cookies. This is such a lovely way to honor your sweet Sawyer's short life here on earth. As much as it makes me sad to have to even think of your loss, it was an honor to participate in this remembrance. 
I hope that reading all of the wonderful acts of kindness that have been done in your sweet babies memory will give you at least a little bit of joy during this Christmas season. You all are so loved and so many people have been blessed by not only knowing you, but by your sharing your story. You have touched so many people with your story, and even more with your deep, everlasting faith. 
The Robbins family left an extra tip to a very sweet waitress whom we happen to know (from a friend), is having a tough time right now....not a huge tip, just a bit extra in memory of Sawyer!
 
Our clinic meets so many more needs than just medical needs of students. Many of our students need snacks, socks, and a change of clothes too. I know that Sawyer's needs would have always been met, so our family wanted to restock the clinic. Christopher Hensley and Jeff shopped and delivered it last week. I know our students will be blessed.
 
PRECIOUS parents of Sawyer,
We are so blessed to know you, to love you and have the privilege to pray for you.
We are honored to be a part of your story and in the RACK experience. I don't know if you'll hear from our recipients, but this is what we did:
Marley and I found our very best Christmas cookie recipe, SOFT GINGER COOKIES. We brought out all the ingredients and started making a BIG mess!!!
We found this great cookie wrapper template from Ann Voskamp's blog that shares a great verse:
“BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON,
AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME “IMMANUEL,”
which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” Matthew 1:23
We delivered these to some special people--a widow down the street, families we've been trying to reach with the Gospel, and some folks who've been especially gracious to us over the years. Marly & Mackenzie and I knocked on doors and sang, "We wish you a Merry Christmas" and handed over the small package with the RACK tag. We were greeted with smiles, hugs and looks of surprise! The widow, who is ~ 80, placed her hands over her heart and shared that no one has ever caroled and made a delivery like that in all her life! She was well-pleased.
We love you, pray for you and truly believe God is Mighty and Faithful and is preparing great things for you.
 
 
I struggled to come up with the perfect random act of Christmas kindness to remember Sawyer; I wanted to do something that was personal. After much thinking, I decided to put bags of popcorn on Redbox kiosks. One of my favorite things to do is to snuggle up with a movie and a bowl of popcorn. It was also one of many things I looked forward to doing with Sawyer- nights of babysitting and introducing him to the wonderful world of movies (mostly boy movies like Toy Story and Cars). I hope that families were able to enjoy popcorn and a movie in memory of Sawyer, and that they were able to read his story.
 
One of the senior special needs employees was so thrilled with the monetary gift in memory of Baby Sawyer. 
 
Hi Ashlyn and Josh!
I wish y'all all the best this Christmas season. I know this is a hard time for you both and we all miss Sawyer so much! I RACK'ed two people and felt so great doing it. First, I surprised one of the residents at the nursing home I worked at by setting up her Christmas tree while she was at lunch. She has no family that comes to visit her so this really made her day, week even! Then I payed for the person behind me in Starbucks on my lunch break. Thank y'all for this opportunity to share Sawyer's story. Love you both!
 
I hate that I was last minute, but I'm so glad Ashlyn reminded me last night.
The first thing I did was take a gift certificate for a one hour massage to Stacy Halstead, little Tripp's mom. They live in our subdivision and I have wanted to do something for her for a while. This seemed like perfect time!
My oldest daughter and I went to Kroger and racked three people. I asked the cashier for cash back and God told me to rack him! I gave him $5 to get a cup of coffee or a treat of some sort. He was shocked! :)
Jessica took $5 to someone in line at Starbucks and she was shocked as well.
We had one more racked card and another $5 bill. Jess and I tried to find someone who looked like they were having a bad day. There was a lady with two girls who had a scowl on her face. I went up to her and she was very hesitant to accept my gift. But she did and had a smile on her face when I walked away. Mission accomplished!
I might have to steal this idea one year in honor of Grady. I love it! Your sweet Sawyer isn't here physically, but he continues to, and always will, touch lives. Can't wait for heaven where we can be together forever and thankful for the One who made that possible.
 
I RACK'ed several different people from cups of hot cocoa, to gift cards, to cookies!
 
I did several RACK's. For the first one we sent two $5 bills in a package in the mail to people who bought things from me. We wrote a note telling them to enjoy a cup if coffee on me!
For the other 2 we gave our photographer and Santa Claus an extra tip and told them to enjoy lunch on us.
We loved doing the RACK and loved sharing Sawyer's story with everyone! 
 
I love doing Random acts of kindness.....
I double tipped my waitress at Olive Garden. I know how hard it is to make money in that business.
The boys and I went to Kroger and out front was a soldier playing a Harmonica next to the Salvation Army donation guy. I had the boys go up and tell the Soldier Thank you for his service and then we went inside to Starbucks and got both guys some holiday coffee.
I let an older lady go in front of me at McDonalds.
We switched our cable service and the poor ATT guy was at our house for about 9 hours so we gave him a gift card to Starbucks with a Christmas Card.
 
 
Monetary gift to homeless man on the way to the airport to pickup my son. Merry Christmas to the Murphy family. May God bless you all.
 
(Sorry this is so late!)  My name is Jamie. I am the checkout receptionist at Pediatric Cardiology Services -aka Dr. Videlefsky's office. I had loved getting  to know and chat with Ashlyn at her appointments. After that I kept close watch by following Sawyer's journey on her blog and on Facebook. I think the RACK idea is an awesome way to remember him and to help Josh & Ashlyn see how many people care about all three of them. ☺️
So, here are my RACKs ....
1-  I had my cards already to hand out, but I just needed to think of what to do. My first thought was that I wanted a Diet Coke from Chick-fil-A, haha. Why thought, "Hey! Why don't i pay for the person behind me in line".  But then I thought about their calendars that they put out each year that has the coupons. I ordered that and my Diet Coke at the drive-through. Once I was at the window I asked the guy to please give the calendar to someone who was kind to him at the window along with Sawyers card. He laughed and said that was a 'first' for him!
2-  I have always wanted to and thought about leaving a gift for our mail carrier. Really don't know anything about her and the holidays always seem so crazy. But with the RACK inspiring me, I decided that this is the year to finally do it!  This morning I left her a bag with some gifts in our mailbox and I handwritten note on the back of the Sawyer card.  I was so excited give her a gift that I'm probably going to do it every year!
Tomorrow's RACK:
My husband works for QuikTrip. He does not have to work on Christmas day, but most people know QT doesn't close... ever.  So, we'll be bringing 3 kinds of baked cookies by the one near our home (and where my husband had worked for about a year before being transferred).  It's a busy location, so I know the workers there will be glad to have something special -- and different than the QT stuff they're all used to.   ��
Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with family time and friends. God bless.

 
 
I woke up in the middle of the night remembering I had forgotten to send in my random acts of kindness. So I couldn't sleep until I did. I hope you all have had a merry Christmas. I am thankful I got to share in it with you from Kentucky! I have heard your story and seen the suffering you have gone through, and your perseverance and steadfastness is so encouraging to me. Thank you for remaining faithful. Here are my random acts.
1. 3 times this Christmas season I bought the persons coffee behind me in the drive through line.
2. We provided our pastors two girls with the means to take dance lessons for the next year. They have been waiting for 3 years to do this but their parents had no way of paying for this. It will be fun to see where it takes them.
Thanks for encouraging random acts of kindness through the holidays! God loves a cheerful giver and it truly is a joy to give to others "randomly." God bless your family in 2014!



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We are blessed.
We are thankful.
We CANNOT wait to do this again next year!

Love, love, love you all,

Ashlyn 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

1 Samuel 1:27

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. (1 Samuel 1:27 NIV)

I haven't posted yet in 2014 yet because I wanted this to be my first post of the new year! 

Josh and I are overwhelmed with excitement but also nervousness after finding out we are expecting our second child. We have prayed for several months that God would again bless our family, with a perfectly healthy baby, and He has answered our prayers. We are praying week by week for our precious baby and that this baby develops perfectly. 

Expecting a baby after losing an infant is a whirlwind of uncharted territory. There is no handbook for this on how we should feel or act, so we are living day by day. This doesn't change my grief, I still miss Sawyer tremendously if not more. I wish he was here to meet his baby brother/sister but he isn't. We won't be buying a double stroller. We don't need to set up a different room for the nursery. I won't have to wonder how I will go from caring for one child to now two. What I will have to worry about is how I can tell this baby about Sawyer. How I can make sure Sawyer is still an active part of our lives. 

Blogging has somewhat enabled me to share our lives with multiple people and allowed me to share Sawyers life before, during, and after birth. I will continue to use this blog to travel through my grief process and this new pregnancy. The doctors will be monitoring me closely until 22 weeks and they can ensure there are no heart defects, or defects of any other sort. After that, I will be "cleared" to have a somewhat normal remainder of the pregnancy. I say somewhat because I imagine the fears associated with this pregnancy won't just dissipate after 22 weeks. 

Josh and I covet your prayers over this pregnancy and baby. Our God is faithful and we know His plan is perfect! We are trusting Him to protect this baby and their development



Until next time,
Ashlyn

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15 NIV)

PS - Random Acts of Kindness results blog is almost finished, I have been kind of busy keeping a secret :)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year Already?

2014. Is it really almost 2014? 

Many people probably thing I am ready to give 2013 the boot and move in to a 'better year', but that isn't necessarily how I feel. 2013 was undoubtedly the worst and the best year of my life. So many expectations that never came to fruition, and so many unexpected blessings. 

This year, 2013, is the only year that Sawyer knew and the only year he will have ever known. His whole entire, though it short, life was lived in 2013. Moving on to 2014 scares me in a sense. I am not ready for it to be a different year. I am not ready for it to be a year Sawyer was never a part of. I don't want to start saying that my baby died "last year". Although 2013 was literally a living hell, I am not ready to see it go. 2013 is Sawyer's year, and it always will be to me. The year started out, literally within a few days in to January, on the emotional roller coaster we are still currently on today. January 3 was the day we received the news that something was wrong, and it never got better from there. 

While it is easy to see all of the bad, because let's face it, there was a lot - I want to focus on the things that this year has given me and be thankful for those. I am going in to 2014 with no expectations, because to be honest I am tired of being disappointed. 

2013:

1. Sawyer - I could go on and on about Sawyer, but I don't have to do that. Just know anything and everything about this little boy is the best thing that happened this year, and losing him was the worst.

2. My relationship with Christ has taken a positive turn. While it isn't always great, and I still struggle with bitterness, my relationship with Him has given me a new sense of strength and peace. 

3. My wonderful husband, Josh. We have experienced more this year together than most will in a lifetime. Our relationship is stronger than most, and for that I am thankful. When God brought us together six years ago, He definitely knew what He was doing. 

4. Our new house - it is crazy to think we are actually homeowners. When did I become old enough for this?! I love our house and all the crazy animals that fill it up. 

5. My new job as a teacher. This job is a blessing for my heart. The students and other teachers have been such an encouragement to my spirit and I love my job!

6. My family - this year has brought my closer to my immediate family, and Josh's as well, closer than I really thought was ever possible. They haven't made us "forget", instead they help us remember. 

7. Friendships - people come and go, and I am thankful for the friends that have stuck it out with us through this year and also the new ones we have made through this journey. 

8. My support group - wow, what a blessing. I hate our circumstances but I am so glad to know them all. It is nice to be able to go to a group and just let all your feelings out with no judgment, because they totally understand.

9. GA Christian Mom Group - yet another blessing. Wow, what a great group of ladies! They have surrounded me with love and support and prayers throughout this whole year and I couldn't be more thankful. They all mean more to me than I have probably ever told them. 

10. Our (second) dog, Boone! When we got married we adopted our first dog, Dixie. She is a Australian Shepherd/Husky mix and crazy as ever! When Sawyer passed away we went to the shelter to just "look" and saw a brindle colored Shepherd/Lab mix that was almost out of time. He was so sweet we just couldn't leave without him - and he is the most well-behaved dog! 

11. Charleston - this place has brought us more peace, comfort, and relaxation than we ever thought possible. We went to Charleston after Sawyer passed away, and are ringing in the New Year there as well. 

12. Church family - our church family has been a support and we couldn't be more thankful for that. 

13. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta - the doctors and nurses here fought just as hard as we could have wanted them to in order to save Sawyer's life. I am thankful for all of them and their dedication to not only Sawyer, but all of the babies and children at the hospital.

14. Doctors - all of them; My doctors and Sawyers doctors. Dr. Pohl, Dr. Videlfsky, the doctors at Maternal-Fetal specialists, the surgeons; Dr. Alsoufi, Dr. Kanter, and Dr. Kogan, the nurses that took care of my and Sawyer at any point, the doctors in Cincinnati. Without them we probably wouldn't have had 18 days with Sawyer. 

15. Health Insurance- because no one can afford over 1 million in bills. Literally 18 days in the hospital and the bills topped 1 million and more. 

16. Neighbors - Josh and I have been blessed with the best neighbors anyone could ask for in their life. From the neighbor that helped us get a better home loan, to the neighbors that call and check on us when our car hasn't moved from the driveway in a couple of days. 

17. Gwinnett Memorial Gardens - this is where Sawyer is buried. The people who own the Memorial Gardens are great and so nice. I usually stop in to say hello when I go to visit Sawyer. 

18. Memories - this year gave me a lot of them and for that I am thankful. 2013 is a year I most certainly won't forget both in a good way and a bad way. 

[Any one catch what I did there with the number 18?]

I enter 2014 with a cautious heart, cherishing all the moments and working toward fully trusting the plan The Lord has already written in my "book". I don't know what this new year holds, but I do know what it will be missing. I can't say it will be a better year, but good grief certainly it is only up from the living hell this last year has been. I will be honest though, I don't really view this New Year as a "fresh start" because it isn't. What happened this year isn't something that will go away when we start writing 2014 on our checks instead of 2013, it something that we will live with forever and we will forever be different people. 

Wishing you a Happy New Year where you can rest in the fact that God is in control and He does have a plan for your life even though it may not be clear currently. It isn't easy facing struggles, but you don't have to enter this new year alone. 

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 

Until next year,

Ashlyn 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

I survived! I made it through the first Christmas without my baby.

The biggest part of my survival through these 'firsts' holidays have been my friends and family. They continually remind me of the strength (of which I sometimes don't even see) I have been displaying through these months. I know I owe much of my strength to Christ because the truth is I wouldn't be where I am today without His love and strength to hold me up when I have felt at my weakest. 

I woke up Christmas morning not really knowing what to expect. I didn't know how I was going to feel, or really how I should feel about the day. The truth of the matter is - there are no guidelines on grief and I have to work through it on my own. I can't be afraid of what people may think or how others might do it because in all reality until someone has walked in my shoes, they have NO idea. I think through the holidays and trying to focus my energy on getting through, I have actually come out of some rut I was stuck in. 

I only cried a few times on Christmas, which is much better than I was expecting. I really thought I would be a hot mess all day. I teared up reading through the RACK emails, cried when I woke up, and cried about halfway through our Christmas run-around. I realized that no matter how sad I was and no matter how much my heart longed to have Sawyer with us, Christmas was just not going to be what I had planned for last Christmas. I chose to spend time with family and be thankful for my large, close-knit family.

Here are a few pictures from the day for you to enjoy (and also for me to have as a part of the blog book I will print at the end of the year!).

 
Our tree (and some of my favorite ornaments)

Sawyer's stocking is the monkey riding the giraffe, I love it!


Our day started with the RACK cards!

IMG_3635.JPG
Over 50 cards (and each had more than one RACK!)
   



Josh and I were blown away by the participation in this and really want to make it an annual event every Christmas! It will be so special to be able to share in this with our future children :)

Here is a video where I read some of the RACK's and I am working on the final RACK post that includes all of the RACK's!

Christmas Morning RACK Video! 

We continued our day by spending time with family, the thing I love the most about Christmas. We just wish all of our family was with us.


Snuggles with Luke

Mimi and Emma reading to Sawyer Bear :)

Annual cousin picture, where no one looks the right way!





Ended the night with Sawyer.

I love this picture :)

Sawyer's Aunt Dana got him a present!

Love this book :)

I received a lot of gifts this year that revolved around Sawyer. I love them all, and this one really touched my heart. My cousin asked me for a profile picture of Sawyer, and this is what I opened on Christmas Eve at my grandmothers house!


We also made these ornaments for our family. We had a mold of Sawyer's foot made the night he passed away and I had this idea while trying to think of something special for our families.


 To finish off our Christmas, here is a picture of our family. It isn't the picture I wanted to take this Christmas, but this is my family this Christmas. I am thankful for my friends and family who walked along side Josh and I through the days leading up to Christmas. I wish Sawyer was here physically, but I know he lives on through Josh and I in our daily lives.

 

Until next time,
Ashlyn