Marbles

Hello you wonderful people who read my ramblings.  Today I wanted to share with you something that is not my original idea, but in true ‘AJ’ fashion I tend to add my own flare to someone else’s ideas (read: make it better according to my opinion).

So if you have never heard of the company/ministry ‘Orange’ you should totally check them out for all things ‘KidMin’ (Kids Ministry) and Parenting.  They have some wonderful resources.  Awhile ago they came out with the Legacy Marble Jar, but I wanted to add a little more to it.

So I purchased my jars and marbles from Hobby Lobby (waiting for each item to be 50% off of course) and downloaded the Parent Cue app so that I could figure out how many marbles went into each jar based on the age of the boys.

So I know you are thinking, “Girl, what in tarnation are you talkin’ about – you have lost your marbles!”  Let me explain…

Each marble equals one week of your child’s life under your roof.  There is on average 936 weeks from your child’s birth to when he/she graduates from high school.  So I logged into the app, entered my children’s birth dates, and it told me how many weeks he had left under my roof.  I put that number of marbles in one jar (the tall one with their names on it in the picture).  I put the difference in the other jar (the shorter one).  I also put 18 larger bright orange and yellow marbles scattered throughout the jar.

Every Sunday evening before going to bed Mark or I move a marble from the tall jar to the short jar.  And it becomes a visible representation just how important each week is that we have with each of our boys.  It reminds me how intentional we should be each week.  And how tightly I want to squeeze them and never let go.

You will also notice in the picture brown leather-bound journals.  At the time we move a marble over if there has been something particularly important that happened, cute that was said, or a memory I would love to record I’ll just jot it down in that boy’s journal.

Each year on their birthday I move over one of the larger bright marbles and Mark and I write letters in the journal to the birthday boy.  I also interview them and have asked them the same questions each year since age 3.  (Thank you MG for this idea many moons ago).  They are simple questions: what is your favorite meal?, who is your best friend?, what do you enjoy doing?, who is Jesus to you?, etc.).

Now I will say, when both sets of our parents saw this they all looked at us and said, “How sad.” or “How depressing.”  Which I guess it could be looked at as sad and depressing.  But, that’s not really how we look at the jars.  Every week I say a prayer of thanksgiving for one more week I had the privilege to parent my children.  One more week where God filled in the gaps for me.  One more week that I got to experience the joy of each of my boys or even the trials of my boys.  Each week is one more week that God has gifted me to steward wisely in the rearing of my children.  And the visual reminder, well it just helps me stay focused and on point.  For the harder weeks I’m glad the week is over and in the other jar.  For the wonderful weeks I hold onto the marble a little longer and write a memory in their books.  And for the normal, “mundane” weeks I just smile and say “Thank You Lord”.

How do you stay intentional and “on point” in your life?  It doesn’t have to just be in your parenting, but I would love to hear your ideas.

<make sure to click on the links above that take you to the orange website and the link to the app>

Even if…

My last post touched on some of the world wide and personal struggles as of recently. There was a heavier struggle that was sorta the umbrella over all the rest for me personally and I knew it would deserve its own post.

A song I have listened to on repeat over the last few weeks is by Mercy Me. I’m not a huge Mercy Me fan – I don’t think I own any of their albums. But this particular song really spoke to me during a hard time in my extended family.

I know that I have shared a lot of songs recently but that’s what is churning in my heart and thus what ends up on here.

In March my first cousin, Allan, was diagnosed with ALS. I got to see first hand just how wicked this disease is and when I say wicked I mean absolutely terrible. Allan and his family are not just the cousins or aunt and uncle you see every decade and send polite Christmas cards to. When I think of my life and my family the members of the McDonald family are always there. Every holiday. Every birthday. Every special event. Every celebration. The birth of my children. My breast cancer surgeries. (Yes they traveled from Texas for those events). Allan really was more of a big brother to me and my sister. My aunt (his mom) and my mom are the best of friends. You get my point I guess.

Mark and I were able to visit Allan this past summer and how I wish we would’ve taken a picture that day. It was such a sweet time. The disease had already stolen his ability to walk and had restricted him to a wheelchair. It had stolen most of his speech.  But he was still laughing and full of joy. We had the honor of laying hands on him and praying over him.

His wife and two children (13 & 10) adapted as fast as they could and as well as they could. His son learned how to shave him. His daughter fed him. His wife learned how to operate a handicapped vehicle and used a sling to help him get dressed. His dad bathed him. His mom cut his nails.

Like I said – it is a terrible disease.

We prayed God would heal him. We prayed for relief. We prayed for signs of improvement. And ultimately, October 21, God answered our prayers in heaven instead of earth. Allan was healed, relief was provided, and he improved fully to a glorified body.

Seven months. Too soon. Too fast.

BUT!!!!

Allan continued to go to church.

Allan listened to audio of the Bible in his room.

Allan wrote a message “don’t cry for me” to be read at his celebration of life service.

You see he and his wife (who is the strongest saint I have ever met by the way) trusted the Lord with their life. Read that again: with their life. Y’all know I have had a legitimate threat on my life. So I know what it is like to literally trust Jesus not just in my mind and heart but with my life. Allan walked that out. He lived that out.

I had the privilege of witnessing his dramatic life change over the last few years when his family decided to follow Jesus, get baptized, make some hard life change choices, go on mission trips, serve in the church, and impact A LOT of people.

Allan made it. He fulfilled what I hope to. What I see as the purpose of life. To live for Jesus until my very last breath.

So pray for my family because his physical absence is felt.  However at peace we are and proud of the legacy Allan has left there are still gaps left in the road ahead.

I leave you with just one question – however cliche it may sound – do you have the hope of Jesus by knowing him personally and believing He is your Savior?  Because I know that is what Allan would want you to answer. 

In Control

Wow!  Again?

Isn’t that how we all were after each hurricane kept spinning. After each earthquake kept shaking. After each fire kept blazing. Then the chaos of Las Vegas and now Sutherland Springs.  And that was just the Western Hemisphere.

Focusing in and there were some “disasters” that were hitting a little closer to home. We found out our middle son needs some comprehensive testing to see if his struggles at school might be deeper than “he’s just a boy”. Words like “processing disorder”, “dyslexia”, and “learning disability” were thrown out to us. Our heads are spinning like the hurricane winds. A dear friend of mine called, weeping, and said “I think my marriage might be over.”  And her world was breaking with earthquake strength. I received news that many loved ones of friends have been diagnosed with various cancers (I seem to be people’s first call these days). This epidemic of cancer continues to spread like a wild fire – it does not care who, when, or how.

It’s all just so…heavy. Like not able to lift it up heavy. Can’t get a hold of it heavy. Slipping out of my hands about to crash heavy. HEAVY!  Heavy on my heart, my mind, and my thoughts. Not able to really understand the magnitude of all the damage. Of all the lives marked, changed…forever!


I know I have shared songs before (and if you can’t see the link or the video is not in the email please go directly to the post on http://ashleyjansen.com to be able to hear the song). I think the creativity of music is such a gift. Melodies stay with you.  Lyrics can wreck you. They move you to dance, to cry, to worship, and to remember. And I’m not just talking about Christian worship songs.  Theme songs from movies. The classic oldies. Commercial jingles. It’s all music that impacts.

This particular song that I have listened to SO loud in my car (like embarrassingly loud) will remind me of all these events whenever I hear it from now on.

It is from the Shane&Shane Psalms Live album. Psalm 46 (Lord Of Hosts). The chorus says:

Lord of Hosts, You’re with us

With us in the fire

With us as a shelter

With us in the storm

You will lead us

Through the fiercest battle

Oh where else would we go

But with the Lord of Hosts

So take a moment, maybe turn it up a little louder, and let it’s truth wash over you.  May you scream with this song, as I have, ‘I know my God is in control’. Afterwards spend some time remembering and praying for:

  • All the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida, Caribbean Islands, Turks & Caicos, and so many more
  • All the earthquake victims in South America.
  • All the wild fire victims in California.
  • All the victims families that perished in Las Vegas & Sutherland Springs.
  • Parents of children that have special needs.
  • Your marriage and your friends and families marriages.
  • The people in your life that have received the “it’s cancer” call.