The Game I have Circled

Common question to Coach:  Which game have you circled as THE game you want to win this year?

Coach’s standard response:  The next one on the calendar.

That makes perfect sense as there is no need for him to worry with winning a later game until we’ve taken care of the most immediate game.

But I’m not the coach…I am the coach’s wife, and I do have one particular game circled on my schedule.

In fact, if you can only get to one game here in Tulsa this year, I’m asking that you make it the New Mexico game on Saturday, September 23rd for our 3rd Annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Game.

Three is my all-time favorite number.  I was born on the third, I have three precious loves in my home, and sets of three always seem to balance in a most perfect, harmonious way.  In light of my admiration of all things three,  I – no, WE – are going all out for our third Alzheimer’s Awareness Game.

  • Festivities for the day begin with the 2017 Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s right on the University of Tulsa campus.  The party kicks off at 7:30 am with entertainment and booths and programs and fun, and then the actual Walk begins at 9 o’clock.  Registration to participate is free, and we’d love for you to join Coach’s team in honor of his mom: TEAM SANDRA JEAN.  Visit www.TulsaWalk.org to sign up and find all the details.
  • After the walk it will be TIME TO TAILGATE!!  I love spending the day with family and friends prior to the game.  My cousin, Cody, is always in charge of the meat; my favorite is when he grills fajitas right on-site!  My Angel Girl has to have her Tailgater Sliders, and I don’t believe it is a party until there is a dessert or two on the table, especially my Sopapilla Cheesecake!
  • Next up?  BEAT NEW MEXICO!!  I typically pack up the tailgate and head into the stadium to watch a little pre-game an hour before kickoff.  I like to catch a glimpse of Coach down on the field, and I like to be settled in my seat before the national anthem.  Hearing “The Stars and Stripes Forever” in a sport’s stadium gives me cold chills. Even after all these years and hundreds of ballgames, it brings tears to my eyes every single time, and I hate missing that experience even once.

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Without a doubt, we want you – WE NEED YOU – at every game this season.  Our boys won 10 games last year, we were victorious in a fabulous bowl game in a very convincing fashion, and we set a national record that landed us right in the College Football Hall of Fame in an “instant classic” type of way.  Our games are fun, affordable, and a treat for everyone to enjoy.

But if you have to put your tickets in order of priority, please put Saturday, September 23rd at the top of your list.  Here is everything you need to know:

  • All Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s participants will have access to discounted game tickets, so please take advantage of that special offer! (It will arrive in an email confirmation after you complete your Walk registration.)
  • Premium tailgating spots are also available to Walk participants in a 1-game, discounted package, so be sure to check that out at www.TulsaHurricane.com as well.  You can always call 918-631-4688 or read here for customer assistance.
  • This year’s ALZ game t-shirt is now ready to purchase online, and 25% of the sale of every shirt will be donated to TEAM SANDRA JEAN.  We have adult and youth sizes available, so order plenty for all your friends and loved ones: click here to order.  We can’t wait to see everyone wearing them as we raise awareness and funds to fight this tragedy and #tackleAlzheimers together!

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I can’t wait to see you there!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

Walk Wednesday: WALK THIS WAY!

I haven’t written a “Walk Wednesday” blog in a while, and I have consciously tried to give you all a tiny break from me after spending all of June beating everyone over the head with my Kickoff Carnival fun…

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And as you can see above, it was a ton of fun.

BUT, now it is time to get in gear, so I am holding no punches back, putting my bossy pants on, and telling you EXACTLY what I need for YOU to do:

  1. Click right here:  TEAM SANDRA JEAN
  2. Scroll half way down the page and click the golden “Join Our Team” button
  3. JOIN TEAM SANDRA JEAN

That’s it, folks.

That is all I am asking.

For today.

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: There is no cost to join our team (or start your own), you can join the team even if you are not able to attend our Walk in Tulsa on September 23rd, and all fundraising efforts are optional and totally up to you.  We – Coach, Cannon, Maci, and I – simply want you on our team.  We want your partnership.  And we want TEAM SANDRA JEAN to be a force to be reckoned with as we fight for a world without Alzheimer’s Disease.

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My Carnival Career is Back in Business

After my PTA Carnival days ended approximately 4 years ago, I vowed I was finished with the carnival planning “business” (you’ve heard what volunteers get paid, right?).

BUT…Coach and I are super excited about chairing the 2017 Tulsa Walk to End ALZ, and it’s time to really begin our Walk efforts so we are kicking off the fun in the best way we know how: a party at the football field ❤️💛💙💜

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We’ve already confirmed with several Walk teams and Walk supporters to join us for the fun:

  • a local radio station to provide live music
  • Barre 3 Tulsa will be teaching a free community class in the south end zone
  • our TU Spirit Squad will be on hand giving out free t-shirts and Golden Hurricane goodies
  • my Tulsa football boys will be on the field passing the ball and teaching impeccable touchdown technique with the kids (of all ages)
  • there will be more than one fun photo opportunity to enjoy
  • Verdigris High School Softball Team wants to see just how fast you can pitch a baseball or softball with their handy radar gun
  • the Cascia Hall Cheerleaders are setting up sidewalk chalk for everyone to dazzle us with their creations

We will offer a very reasonable dinner purchase (I’m thinking a BBQ plate or hamburger basket), water and soft drinks, and definitely some sweet treats like maybe an ice cream stand or son-cone truck.  Or a CAKE WALK – that would be perfect!!

And, of course, there will be help on hand to get you registered for the 2017 Tulsa Walk to End ALZ.  You are always welcome to join our team (TEAM SANDRA JEAN), or you can start your own.  We will also have information about the many services and programs available to help those you love who are dealing with Alzheimer’s.  You are not alone, and we want to make sure you know what assistance is out there and how to access it!

Let me know if you have a Walk team, church or neighborhood group, civic or social organization, company or business that would like to participate in our kickoff carnival.  Hey, I’ll take individuals and families and flocks of friends – anyone who wants to help out is greatly appreciated!! We are open to all kinds of fun booths and games to attract and entertain the community.

My vision is BIG, so come one, come all, and let’s have some fun!

Love and hugs,

Ashli

PS:  Please like and share our Facebook event to help advertise the fun: 2017 Tulsa Walk to End ALZ Kickoff Party – June 21st

Wednesday Awareness: A Sea of Purple

Before I begin our #Walk2EndALZ wrap-up, I want to say a quick thank you to Kelly Hines, TU Sportswriter for the Tulsa World, for helping us bring awareness to ending Alzheimer’s disease with a great piece that was included in her “TU Notebook” column today: $30,000 for a Good Cause.  We are quite lucky to have a supportive sports writing community here in Tulsa which is definitely not always the case in college towns; we appreciate media personalities like Kelly and John Moss and many others taking the time to get to know us as more than “Coach Montgomery & Co.” Their support of our fight against Alzheimer’s is very much appreciated!

The Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s was fantastic!!

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A Beautiful Sea of Purple

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Angel Girl and Momma

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The kids and I, along with MawMaw, layered up on a beautiful, sunny, crisp Oklahoma morning and headed out to Guthrie Green with about 5,000 fellow walkers.  The set up this year was a blast – kudos to whomever came up with the party bead idea!

The Alzheimer’s Association has a foundation of 5 guiding pillars:

  1. Concern & Awareness
  2. Advocacy
  3. Care & Support
  4. Accelerate Research
  5. Grow Revenue

Each of these pillars was represented with a different color of party beads at the Walk last Saturday.  We had a ton of fun collecting each color by visiting different information booths.  It was truly a clever way to direct such a wonderful crowd throughout the event grounds!

I am proud to report that all four of us succeeded in getting all five colors of beads, we visited with friends (both new and old) while exploring the tables, and even got a super cute picture for my scrapbook:

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When the program began, I took my place on stage with my SonShine and Angel Girl by my side.  I was tasked with sharing a personal – and inspirational – story.  I certainly did not want to be a “downer” on such a fun occasion, but the fact of the matter is that Alzheimer’s is a downer.  I decided on a story about Coach’s mom, Sandra; here is that story and the first part of my script:

ASHLI:

Hi, everyone!  I am so happy to be here with you this morning!!  Coach sends his “hello” and wishes he could be here, too.  But he is preparing for our Homecoming game this afternoon so instead he send his greetings as well as our two kids.

Many of you may have heard that this cause is personal for us.  Philip’s mom, Sandra, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease just a few years ago.  You’ve never met a sweeter, kinder woman!  It has been really tough watching this disease take its toll.  Just last month she was in town for our first football game of the season and something tiny happened – something that probably only Philip and I noticed.  But it was something that served as a huge indicator of just how ravishing this disease can be. 

Sandra was raised the oldest daughter of a preacher.  She then married a preacher.  She has served the Lord and the church her entire life.  Over the course of 73 years, I would estimate that she has taken communion more than 3,200 times.  But on Sunday, September 4th, when Philip held the communion cups out for her to take one, she looked up at him with blankness and confusion in her eyes.  He went on to hand her one, and still she looked to him, unsure of what to do.  Finally, he helped her drink the juice, and in that moment we both felt a sharp stab of helplessness.  Helplessness and deep sadness that something so important and so personal to her was lost.  We don’t want to lose our Nana!

That is why we walk in her honor today; we are Team Sandra Jean!

I went on to accept a challenge from this year’s Walk chairman to raise an additional $100 to my Walk campaign before Thanksgiving, so if you meant to donate but didn’t get around to it, there is still time.  Click here to go to our Team Sandra Jean website to give a gift online:  TEAM SANDRA JEAN.

And finally, I finished my speech with lots of cheers and a huge invitation:

We are standing here today because we truly believe that the end of Alzheimer’s starts with us. I can tell by looking out into this sea of purple that we are not in this alone. Who’s ready to put a stop to this devastating disease?

[PAUSE FOR AUDIENCE CHEERS]

Let’s let all of Tulsa know that we’re here today to lead the way to the end of Alzheimer’s!

[APPLAUSE/CHEERS]

WOW – You all sound great!  So great that I can easily imagine you all cheering loudly from the stands at H.A. Chapman Stadium!  In fact, we would like to invite each and every one of you to a very special TU football game on November 5th. For the second year in a row, Coach and his Golden Hurricane will host an Alzheimer’s Awareness Game.  We have created this special edition t-shirt for the event, and we want to see you wearing one as you cheer just like that – or maybe even louder – at the game.  Best of all, the proceeds from all the t-shirt sales will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. You can go to TulsaWalk.org to get more information about purchasing your special edition t-shirt & tickets for the game!

We can’t wait to see you all there!

THANK YOU for being here – THANK YOU for walking today – and THANK YOU for supporting this fight to end Alzheimer’s!

My precious models on stage did a terrific job of showing off our November 5th game shirt!  The shirts are now available at the TU Campus Corner Bookstore at 11th Street and Harvard.  Please run by and pick yours up today!

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In love and hugs on a Wonderful Wednesday,

Ashli

Negative Recruiting & My Presidential Plea

“Whoever is not with me is against me…” Luke 11:23

In Biblical terms, I totally get this scripture. In our daily rat race of “me versus the world,” I soooooo get this. In the 2016 race for a President of the United States, I do not get this.

With election day looming, I am not WITH anyone. And I want to be. I really, really do. I want a candidate – any living, breathing, eligible, American candidate – to show me why I should be WITH them.

So far, however, all I have seen is what in the world of college football we call “Negative Recruiting.” This is a very common practice where coaches (the recruiters) tell prospective players (the recruits) and their families why they should NOT attend ABC, LMN, and every other school showing interest but fail to ever communicate why that student-athlete SHOULD attend their own school, XYZ.

It goes like this…

  • Recruit: Do you think you can use me as a quarterback in your system?
  • Recruiter: Well, Son, I know that ABC is saying they will let you play QB, but trust me, they’re also talking to So&So, and they’re telling him the same thing. You don’t want to go there and experience that!
  • Recruit’s Mom: Coach, tell me about the tutoring and mentoring available for your players.
  • Recruiter: Now, Momma, I know you like the academics at LMN, but be careful – they have a reputation for being extra tough on their athletes. And while I know his education is your top priority, we don’t want to set him up to fail.

And so on, and so on, blah, blah, blah.

The coaches absolutely refuse to answer the very straight-forward questions that the recruit and his family have asked.  This stuff drives me crazy! And it drives Coach crazy, too, so he emphasizes to his staff in no uncertain terms to avoid negative recruiting at all costs. I’ve heard him say many times, “I can’t comment on anyone else’s program, but this is what we are doing/building/creating right here…”

That’s what I am desperate to hear from these presidential candidates. I want them to flat-out, in no uncertain terms, decline to sling mud at ANYONE in our country (and beyond!), and I want them to actually ANSWER THE QUESTIONS that are asked of them.

Our son turned 18 last June, so this is a huge election in our house: SonShine’s first opportunity to vote. And SonShine is serious about his civic duty and his role as an American; I would even call him a “patriot” as he has a deep love for this country, it’s history and accomplishments, and he has a strong desire to see it flourish. He and I, along with his little sister, watched every single second of the last debate together, hopeful that either candidate would give us a reason to join their camp.

Question #1: The last presidential debate could’ve been rated as MA—mature audiences—per TV parental guidelines. Knowing that educators are tying the presidential debates to student homework, do you feel you are modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today’s youth?

Seems like a pretty direct, “Yes or No” type question to me.  I can only assume as neither candidate was willing to answer “Yes” or “No” that they are either incapable of comprehending the question (that’s what my students would do when I asked something over their heads…) or they, too, are horribly embarrassed by the debacle that has become this election season so they avoided an answer, even one as simple as “Yes” or “No.”

Needless to say, at the completion of the debate, we were none the wiser.  My Angel Girl stood up from the couch announcing, “Well that was pretty childish and made very little sense,” and my SonShine was even less sure which candidate is worth trusting with his vote.

Mr. Trump wants to “Make America Great Again.”  FABULOUS – so do I!  My vision of a great America is stunningly beautiful, it’s vivid, and it is very real, not hypothetical.  Mr. Trump, what is your vision of a “Great America” and how, in actual steps and action items, will you create that vision for our country?  What are your ideas as well as your ideals?  With less than a month left before Election Day, I have no idea what our country will look like when you become our leader.  You have not yet described to me this picture you see of a great America.  You’ve told me everything that is wrong with your opponent, you’ve told me everything that is wrong with lots of things, but you have not yet told me what is good in your plan.  And I want specifics.  I need details.  I beg of you, Mr. Trump: please show me what YOU CAN DO rather than what she can not.

Mrs. Clinton says we can be “Stronger Together.”  I WOULD LOVE THAT!  I can close my eyes and imagine a country that acts like a community, a family, a group that cares for one another, people who have each other’s backs through thick and thin.  That image in my head is stunningly beautiful, it’s vivid, and it is very real, not hypothetical.  Mrs. Clinton, how does “Together” make us “Stronger” and how does it look in your vision?  How will you take us from where we stand today – a land tragically divided – to this imaginary place of unity?  What are your ideas as well as your ideals?  I like your dream, but as of October 17th, I have no idea what this land will look like when you become our leader.  I know you detest your opponent, I know you are very talented at dodging and diverting, but I do not know what is good in your plan.  Again, I want specifics.  I need details.  I beg of you, Mrs. Clinton:  please show me what YOU CAN DO rather than how horrible a person you find him to be.

I am a 42-year old, Caucasian female.  I describe myself as having Republican values and a Democrat’s heart.  I am on the fence here.  I want someone to follow, someone to root for, and someone to admire.  I NEED someone to sell me on themselves as opposed to negatively recruiting the competition because we HAVE TO pick someone for whom to vote on November 8th.

Up to this point, you have both presented many valid reasons to NOT vote for either one of you.  Over these next 3 weeks, someone – ANYONE – please prove to me why I SHOULD vote for you…I am hearing it from everyone else all over the Internet, but I want to hear it from YOU.  Please.

Furthermore, here are a few tips for you on how to accomplish this task should you choose to accept it:

  1. Adamantly refuse to say anything negative.  It’s that simple – just don’t do it.  There are more than enough ways to explain oneself using positive words and angles, so utilize them.
  2. Talk ONLY about your plans, your programs, and your vision.  Do not ever speak about anyone else’s program, campaign, history, choices, or life.  It’s none of your affair.  You are here to tell me about YOU and only YOU.
  3. Treat these next few weeks as a 21-day college admissions interview in which you are up against yourself and are ignorant to anyone else applying for the same spot.  Share your strengths, illustrate your gifts, explain your potential, but do not reflect poorly upon yourself by disparaging or putting down others as it makes you appear petty, unoriginal, and unqualified for the job which you seek.

I think if either of you, or anyone else wanting a place on this platform, will follow these simple steps, I – as well as millions of other desperate, yet hopeful, Americans – will be in your corner.  We will “bubble in” your name, and we will support you for the next four years (wouldn’t that be a novel idea!).

Ask the head coach of any sport how to sell a program, ask them the importance of winning the press conference, ask them how vital “buy in” is to creating something great.  Ask them how successful negative recruiting is in the end.  They will tell you exactly what I am saying:  it is all on YOU to prove to us that YOU are worth having.

Each American’s vote is a gift of confidence.  It is priceless, and it represents something far grander, far more beautiful and meaningful than any one person.  If you want my vote, prove it.

In love and hugs, and in prayer for our glorious land,

Ashli

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PS: In the next debate, when a speaker brings up anything NOT about their own campaign, a bell (think the huge one on The Gong Show) will sound so loudly that it will drown out the words that are not relevant to the discussion, and that person surrenders the floor immediately.

 

Wednesday Awareness: Tulsa People October “Volunteer Spotlight”

Coach and I are very honored to be featured in the October 2016 issue of Tulsa People!

The photo used in the article is one of my favorites.  It was taken at last February’s Memory Gala here in Tulsa, which just happened to be my first time ever using Rent the Runway.

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I have to say it was a success:  the dress was just as described in a beautiful plum-ish purple, and it actually fit really well.  I paired it with a set of pearls that were a gift from my dad, a vintage bracelet that was a gift from my sister, and my diamond tennis bracelet that was a gift from Coach.  Obviously, I am very well-gifted!!

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Of course, it helps to have a hunky date and gorgeous friends to compliment my efforts, and I am blessed with all of those as well!

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Needless to say, it was a fun and fabulous evening!  How special to see this photo again all these months later and remember it like it was yesterday.  In fact, the reason we were there was to help more people remember more treasured times.  It’s a cause we are still supporting as the need is greater than ever…

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Click on the link all the way above at the top of the page to see the online edition of this month’s magazine, and read below for the “rest of the story” – these are the unused questions and answers to further shed light on why this fight to #ENDALZ is so important to us:

2016 Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s Questions

Years involved in the Alzheimer’s Association: 2 years

Alzheimer’s Association Mission Statement: To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

Although you both have been selected as Celebrity Team Captains for this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, what are any additional personal reasons for your involvement?

Like most people, Alzheimer’s has touched our family in multiple ways.  Both of us have lost grandmothers to Alzheimer’s, and Philip’s mom is currently fighting the disease.  It is a tragic, heartbreaking disease!  We have witnessed the destruction and devastation Alzheimer’s causes, and we feel very strongly that a cure must be found.  The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is crucial to supporting research and patients, but also caregivers.  We are finding that the role of caregiver is a terribly difficult job, and one that is tough to understand until one serves in that capacity.  We want to assist in this uphill battle as much as possible.  We feel honored to serve as Celebrity Team Captains and hope that we are able to raise awareness and financial support for this essential cause. 

Explain how the funds collected for this year’s Walk will be used.

All funds raised through Walk to End Alzheimer’s further the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. There are currently 62,000 Oklahomans living with Alzheimer’s disease and 222,000 serving as their unpaid caregivers. While there is no cure for this disease yet, the Alzheimer’s Association is dedicated to helping families navigate the difficult journey with free resources made possible by donations made through events like The Walk to End ALZ.

Tell us how Tulsans can participate in this year’s Walk.

Tulsans can join our team, start a team of their own, walk as an individual participant, become a virtual walker, or volunteer to help with the event. Registration for The Walk is free, but everyone is encouraged to raise the $100 required to get an official T-shirt!  Please do not hesitate to reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association if you have any questions or need help getting signed up to participate.

As Celebrity Team Captains, do you still have room on your personal team?

Yes!! Our team name is “Team Sandra Jean” in honor of Philip’s mom.  We would love to have as many participants as possible in our group.  There is no size limit for teams, so anyone can join! Just search for our team name at tulsawalk.org or set up a team in honor of a loved one, your company, a group of friends, or maybe your church.  The more teams, the better!  The website makes it incredibly easy for team captains to build their team and promote their fundraising efforts.  The tools to make invitations, to send reminders about The Walk, and to create social media posts are all very user-friendly.  We make sure to utilize these applications and are thrilled at how our family and friends across the country support us by donating online even if they are not able to be here in Tulsa for the actual event.

Even as a busy Tulsa couple, why is volunteering important to you? Has volunteering always been a family affair?

It is true what they say: the greatest gifts in serving others are received by the givers and volunteers.  We feel blessed beyond measure, and we are inspired by those we meet along the way!  We have also been the recipients of many peoples’ support and assistance over the years, so we know first-hand that a little bit of help can be life-changing!  For these reasons, volunteer work has always been important to both of us, and we definitely treat it as a family affair.  We have been quite intentional about teaching our two children that to be successful in anything, one must have a servant’s heart.  In sharing that lesson of giving with them, we have beautiful memories of family time spent serving, working for others, and enjoying many events like The Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  Those are hours that we treasure and hold close to our hearts with a very tight grip!

Thank you for reading, and thank you for sharing!  Making “Alzheimer’s Disease” part of our everyday conversations is a huge hurdle in raising awareness and, in turn, creating public demand for advances in our – yes, this battle involves us all – fight to END ALZ.

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS:  Please consider joining the movement today by visiting www.alz.org/mybrain1

Sunday’s Sermon on Suffering

I am a firm believer that we tend to hear whatever we most need to hear in each Sunday’s sermon.  Sometimes, the message is especially “spot on” and every single word hits its target dead center.  Last Sunday, Mitch Wilburn had my number!!

It was one of those sermons where I was multi-tasking by note taking all over the weekly handout,

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underlining/boxing/starring scripture,

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and even finding words of wisdom in the devotional “extras” found throughout my Bible.

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This month Mitch is teaching from the book of Habakkuk.  The huh??  Yes, I spelled it correctly:  H A B A K K U K.  It contains only three chapters of 17, 20, and 19 verses respectively.  It is found 5th from the end of the Old Testament and takes up all of 4 pages of my Bible.  It is about questioning God.  It is about suffering.  It is about trusting.

Mitch was truly a vessel in that lesson, and he spoke directly to me in three major ways:

  1. Complaining to humans only tears down relationships, but complaining to God builds a bridge from fear to faith.  I have been guilty of taking my frustrations, irritations, and complications to friends and peers, and then I feel hurt and abandoned when they avoid me for being a negative influence who is never satisfied nor pleased with the status quo.  Habakkuk 2:1 tells me to bring my questions, my doubts, and my frustrations to God in a manner of prayer.  That is what is intended, and in doing so I draw nearer to God.  Coach is the next best thing in my world; he truly listens to my concerns and worries.  He genuinely wants to share my burdens.  But after I “vent” to his willing ears, I inevitably feel bad for adding to his load.  While he loves me enough to be there for me in that moment of need, taking my anguish to God is a better bet, for sure!

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  2. Why, God?  Lord, how long will this suffering last?  Habakkuk 1:13 shows me that I am supposed to ASK.  Ask God “why” and “how” and “when” even when those questions – and the corresponding answers – are hard to accept.  I love how Mitch guided us on this point when he said, “Do not be prideful and arrogant.  Just go ask!”  Not asking God these questions is self-destructive which only hurts me more in the end.  If you’ve been reading my posts about “Rhett’s 16th” over the past couple of weeks, then you know that our friends are suffering in the worst imaginable way as they grieve the death of a child.  They must now face the day that they should be celebrating his 16th birthday.  Recently, Rhett’s mom wrote these words:

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    I am so glad that she shared such beautiful and honest words.  I believe the Lord’s reply is that the “why” is beyond our comprehension and that suffering from grief will forever be a companion, but the simple act of asking, of demanding to be heard, is healthy and necessary.   Taking my inquiries to God is good and right.

  3. Rest in God’s sufficiency.  Be silent.  The reason that I never feel like I am enough is because I am not enough.  I am not enough by myself.  God’s sufficiency is greater which is why I will never succeed alone.  No matter how hard I try to do all and be all for all, I will never come close to that perfection.  This came to me in the form of a major breakdown Friday morning.  I looked around me and suddenly felt like every word spoken, every step taken, and every effort extended over the past 18 months has been a huge, major mistake.  They are mistakes made through deep, unconditional love and the best of intentions, but mistakes at every turn nonetheless.  Poor Coach!  He was so patient as I boo’ed, and I hoo’ed, and I bawled all over him.  He loves me so much more than I deserve.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  We are all loved more than we deserve.  And because of that fact, we are not alone.  All I have to do is remember that although I will never be enough, God is.  All I have to do is be silent and rest in God’s sufficiency.

Finally, I ask you to take a look at Habakkuk 3:2 which is so very true today!

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With hugs and love,

Ashli

PS:  Please don’t forget to make your $16 contribution for Rhett’s 16th on July 5th.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.     -Habakkuk 3:19

Public Apologies and Tough Truths

They say that life events occur in threes, and it is my favorite number, so this is my third  (and final) installment of the Galentine/FB event ordeal.

If you missed it, consider yourself lucky and click the red X at the top of the screen.

If you witnessed it, you make the call.

If you were hurt or offended by it, please read on.

At the time that I wrote my Facebook rant last Friday night, I did not know who I was writing about because my daughter did not name any names when she told me what had happened.  Since then one mother has reached out to me – which I respect and appreciate immensely – and we’ve been able to visit in person in hopes of not only moving forward, but taking the effort to become closer and better communicators to one another in the future.

I need to write this last post of closure, though, for three important reasons:

  1.  I caused pain to others, and that is not okay.
  2. Since my rant was very public, so should be my apology.
  3. I discovered some concrete reasons for the exclusions my daughter was experiencing; these are things that can be both explained and changed.

Here we go.

Number 1:  Because I did not know who was excluding my daughter, I did not know who to call to visit with in a personal, less public way.  It hasn’t been a secret that she had not been included in very many pre-event parties, outings, sleepovers, etc; in fact, I asked several moms several times to let us know when things were taking place, that she would love to come along, and that I was happy to help as much in any way possible.  Those “friendly requests” did not help, and I wasn’t sure what else to do to let parents know that, whether intentional or not, this was hurting her.  At the end of the day, it was intentional, AND THAT IS OKAY.  Don’t fly off the handle, go into mama bear mode, or feel indignant here.  Each one of us is perfectly entitled (and I do not use that word often!) to pick and choose whom they want to hang out with, be friends with, go out on dates with, join clubs with, and so on.  There is no rule that every person must love and adore every other person, and it is absolutely okay to NOT want to be friends with someone.  IT IS NOT OKAY TO CAUSE PAIN TO ANYONE.  And I did.  For that I am truly, truly sorry.

Number 2:  We live in a very digital, very graphic, and very public world.  My daughter knew about the whole Galentine Dinner from SnapChat and Instagram posts.  She saw who was there, how much fun they had, and felt a great sadness that she had missed out on that fellowship.  It is not the first time she has discovered a painful fact via social media, and I can guarantee that it will not be the last.  I took my own pain for her situation and all my frustration online, so I want to apologize online as well.  I am a firm believer that we must own up to our actions, that we will make mistakes, and that we are called to take responsibility for those poor choices just as much, if not more than, we are called to share positive, good works.  While I do not actually regret writing that FB post (I absolutely hope that if/when my kids are being less than they should be someone will alert me in any method they feel comfortable using!), I do not like causing hurt to anyone, and again, I am very sorry for that.

Number 3:  I am thankful to my friend who was willing to say the hard things to me.  It is incredibly difficult to tell someone what others find off-putting about them, but it is information I asked for and am glad to now know.  She was able to three main reasons that my daughter has been shunned since moving here last year.  One is hers to own, one is on both of us, and one – the worst one – is all on me.  I’d like an opportunity to explain them…

I want to start with one of my favorite stories.  When my son was beginning 7th grade, a coach asked him about his buddies and best friends.  He listed a group of boys that he hung out with and played sports with, and then he told the coach, “As far as my best friend, well we move around a lot with my dad’s job, so I guess my little sister is my very best friend because she is always there with me.”  The coach was so moved by his response that he emailed me that morning to share such a beautiful and honest reply.  My SonShine is now a 17 year old junior in high school so his school friends and buddies play a bigger role; I am sure that they, along my husband, are who my son confides in the most.  That is how it should be, I think.  Even so, my kids still have a fabulous relationship.  They lean on one another, they support one another, they pick on one another, they act silly together, and when Coach and I are on our deathbeds (in many, many years, I hope), they will turn to one another.  I would not want that any other way.

BUT…it seems that my daughter is hesitant to leave her brother’s side if they are together.    I am sure that is true.  He is a security blanket for her, one that sees it as his job in life to watch out for his baby sister.  Between school schedules, workouts and practices, and community activities, they are not actually together that often, though, so when they are in the same place I can imagine that she sticks pretty close to her Bubba.  I’ve spoken with her about feeling confident to go off with her friends knowing that he is not far away and enjoying his own friends, too.  Hopefully, she will make that adjustment and others will notice her efforts, resulting in them wanting to get to know her for who she is, not simply as his little sister.

So, reason #1 that my daughter wasn’t very well received was that she clung to her brother too much.  That one is hers to fix.  Reason #2 is a fault of hers as well as mine it seems:  we talk too much about where we’ve been before.  That’s a tricky one.  I lived 40 of my 41 years in Texas.  Most every memory, experience, high, low, good day, bad day, joy, and disappointment happened there.  My kids are in the same boat.  Our stories from the past do not take anything away from our present nor the future.  Tulsa has been incredible, and we absolutely love it here!  I’ve [finally] got our home all set up and unpacked and decorated, the kids are bought in and in love with their school, and the University of Tulsa has been a phenomenal fit for Coach’s first head coaching job.  It’s kind of like having a second child…you can love both without taking anything away from the other.  We can treasure Texas and adore Oklahoma all at the same time, AND WE DO!!  I’ve spoken with my Angel Girl about this concern of talking about the past, and again, we both agreed that there is probably a lot of truth in it.  But if we should not speak about our experiences, our old schools, our long-distance friends, our accomplishments, our struggles, our successes, our defeats, the good, the bad, and the ugly of our lives, what should we talk about?  What do we have to offer a conversation?  After this discussion, my daughter said, “Maybe I should’t mention Texas or China Spring or the schools I’ve been to or my old cheer squads or our church in Waco or how I’ve seen things work in other places? So what do I talk about with people?”  My sad response was, “Maybe nothing?  Maybe you just have to be a cheerful listener for a while.”  That broke my heart to tell her, but it’s kinda’ true.  So reason #2 is an easy fix and one she and I both will be addressing from now on.

Reason #3 is one of those Tough Truths that we know about ourselves, hope people will love us in spite of, and pray to overcome.  I come from a long line of brilliant, beautiful, caring, smart, savvy, and critical women.  I’ve said it in many other blog posts: I struggle with saying “Great Job!” when something was not all that great.  It comes off as terribly negative, and I really dislike that about myself.  I try so hard not to be me!  I really, really focus on finding something encouraging to say, I work diligently to hide expressions of dismay (Sadly, I do NOT have a good poker face at all!), and I tell myself not to speak out loud over and over and over again.  What’s worse is that when I see something that is less that great, I want to rally the troops, form an army, make improvements, be a catalyst for change, and create a better situation.  Unfortunately, my tactics must be totally awful because in the end I just seem to alienate those I was trying to rally.  This is recurring occurrence, and it appears that I’ve done it again. But this time it has caused a lot of hurt for my precious girl.  I will not deny that I was less than impressed with one of her activities last fall.  I was so desperate to find a friend with whom I could commiserate that I am sure I complained about this activity to anyone who was within earshot, regardless that they did not want to hear, did not want to be engulfed in my negativity, nor join in my army.  I quickly became seen as The Complaining Mom, and the end result is that when the moms I was “venting to” felt the need to distance themselves from me, their daughters distanced themselves from my daughter, too.  This was brought to my attention early last fall, and I immediately apologized to the entire group involved with the activity, and I took a huge step back.  I sat in my car during practices so that I would not be seen, I sat with family or alone at ballgames so no one would feel embarrassed that I sat with them, and I did not utter anything besides positive praises out loud.  It was too little too late, though.  The damage was already done.  I am so sad about that.  We want to make our kids’ lives better not worse.  I especially want to be a servant and a light for others.  I guess I just don’t do a terrific job of turning those dreams into realities.  So, as I said above, the third reason is all my own doing and something that my Angel Girl now has to pay for…oh, the sins of the father.  I am so, so sorry to have done this to her!

The silver lining is that if the people here never feel drawn to get to know us beyond these faults, when you’re married to a college football coach, everything is temporary.  He will win too few or too many, and we will have another opportunity to meet and move into a new community.  These experiences will help us in that time of transition when it comes, and if that is why we were meant to go through them, then their purpose has been served.

I hope that time is a long way in the future, and I hope that before then this community of girls and moms will embrace us and forgive us and find value in us.  That closeness I spoke of above ensures that no matter which way the cards fall, our family will always be okay.  We will always have each other, and that is a lot.  It’s a gift!

Again, if I indirectly or unknowingly hurt you or offended you, I am sorry.

I will not bring up Galentine again.  I am sure I will write about parenting, about being a coach’s family, about moving, and about personal struggles.  I love writing.  I’ve always been wordy, but if you’re willing to get past the loquacious loud-mouth, I’m not that horrible a person.  I love deeply, I am loyal and dedicated, and I have a huge desire to make this world a beautiful place.

Thank you for the chance to say sorry, the chance to not make excuses but rather to explain, and the chance to ask for forgiveness.

With love and hugs,

Ashli

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Happily Ever After

Today is a momentous day.

One often refers to a major life event as being “the first day of the rest of my life.” Well, 7474 days ago that happened to me when I met Coach at the Stephenville Intermediate School 6th Grade Track Meet. That was the day that our happily ever after began, and we’ve been living our modern day fairy tale ever since.

It just so happens that on that day, I had been alive a total of 7474 days. That’s right, as of today, October 6, 2015, I have now been with Coach as long as I was without him:

I am not sure which set of days produced the most growth, but I know I have come a really, really long way. Certainly physical growth and mental growth most likely peaked during my first set of 7474 days, but without a doubt emotional and spiritual growth have been most abundant the second set of 7474 days. I can not even attempt to imagine spending the last 10 million minutes with anyone else, and I fully intend to spend all the rest of my seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and decades with him!

How fun that from here on out, I can say with absolute mathematical certainty that Coach is my majority. He’s the one who makes the challenges beatable, the sorrows bearable, and the struggles worth battling. He is the one who keeps me grounded, prevents me from giving up (mostly on myself), and shares in all the good stuff.  He is the one who reminds me what love is and shows me what it feels like to be adored and cherished.  Even when days are rough or times are tough, I never, ever doubt these truths.

So, from our beginning as youngsters falling in love…

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To today’s gift of being the most blessed parents in the world…

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Here’s to SEVEN THOUSAND, FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY-FOUR days together…and counting – ILY, Coach!!

PS:  Try out www.timeanddate.com to play with your own set of magic numbers 😉

Kickoff Couture

Two of my favorite words in our English language: KICKOFF & COUTURE

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I adore football, and I adore clothes; what better thought to ponder than the ultimate question of “What am I wearing to the game??”

I am forever pinning game day fashions on Pinterest:

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Since coming to Tulsa, I have found several new boards definitely worth following:

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This morning, I even discovered/connected that TU colors (royal, red, and yellow) just happen to be Snow White colors – who knew that there is an entire movement of Disney-character-based designs? FOR GROWN UPS?

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Most are not my style, but I could absolutely do this:

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Or this:

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Or even this:

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Of course, my actual outfit – on my actual body – never actually looks like all these fun pins, but last week I pulled off some cute Kickoff Couture. I can’t believe I am doing this.  Publicly.  But here it is…

What I Wore: Thursday, August 20, 2015 Edition

Coach has forecasted (and requested) White Out conditions for our season opener on Saturday, September 5th. I was having little success finding the 32 shirts I needed for family and friends traveling to Tulsa for the game, so I asked the football department how we could get a great, but inexpensive, shirt to the masses. I researched white outs at other colleges, Coach helped me design a shirt, and a local sporting goods store jumped on board to produce them for us. I am thrilled with how the project has turned out, and I can’t wait to see our shirts walking around H.A. Chapman Stadium in just 2 short weeks!!

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This past Thursday (August 20th) I attended Coach’s first ever Kickoff Luncheon, so of course I wanted to #1) look like a fun and spirited coach’s wife, and #2) promote our WHITE OUT campaign:

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I started with one of our soft, comfy, and cheap WHITE OUT tees, adding an undershirt because it was 65 degrees in Oklahoma that day (Really? It’s the middle of August!). They are silver on the front and will have a fabulous glisten when the sun touches the bleachers on game day. The back reads “The New Reign Begins: TU vs FAU September 5, 2015” and for only $5 per shirt, everyone should buy several 😉

As awesome as cotton t-shirts are, they are not exactly business attire, so I added a few glamorous touches to dress it up a bit…from head to toe.

In honor of my amazing sister’s very special birthday which just happened to be on August 20th as well, I began with some of my particularly favorite jewelry, a matching Sorrelli necklace and bracelet set that my sister gave me for my 30th birthday.  They are exquisite in shimmery, jeweled red and blue tones, and not once in the last 10 years have I worn them and NOT received multiple compliments on how gorgeous and classy the pieces are or how magnificently they reflect the light! They are examples of those “forever fabulous” items in your wardrobe that you’ll always go back to again and again and simply love to wear:

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Now for a quick side-stroll down memory lane 🙂  Me and my sis…Scan 1

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(Anyone else notice that I am always the goofball??)

Back to business…

Next, I added a fun and flirty skirt with big, wide blue and red stripes.  I felt like a teeny-bopping cheerleader in it, but since I truly am Coach’s biggest, loudest, and cheerleading-est fan, I was willing to go back in time to the rah rah days of old.  The best thing about this piece: it was a $20 ModCloth gem that I simply had to have and ordered two years ago (when our colors were green and gold); it has been waiting patiently in the closet for its turn, and the Kickoff Luncheon was the perfect excuse event:

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I finished my look with navy patent leather high heels and a little, red clutch.  There is not much to say about “patent” and “leather” and “high” and “heels” except that they, too, are a few my favorite words when strung together, they are totally awesome, and they always look good.  For my handbag I chose this Coach beauty that Coach and the kids gave me for Christmas last year as we were preparing for the move to Tulsa and new game day colors:

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TaDa!! The finished look, with the very best part of all my outfits added in…my arm candy, my Coach (looking very dapper himself!):

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Well, that’s all, folks, my first foray into fashion blogging.  Now, go order a big supply of WHITE OUT shirts for family and friends and neighbors and strangers, and we will see you on Skelly Field at 2:30 pm, Saturday, September 5th.  #ReignCane

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: Here are a few out-takes of me attempting (but NOT succeeding) to take a picture of my outfit to share.  How do all these youngsters excel at selfies??  That is NOT easy.

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