It was in the summer of 1990 that I had one of the best ideas of my life. I shared with my wife Deb that I thought it would be a tremendous blessing if we could have another child. Deb was somewhat unsure at first after having had our first 3 children born so close together but as the Lord would have it, Ashley Anne Sivo came into the world on June 19, 1991 as a special gift from God. Ashley began to lighten up our world as a family. I can remember covering her with a wash cloth (as a little blanket since she was so small) as she slept in her bassinette when we first brought her home. We should have recognized something extraordinary about this child when on our first family vacation to Maine, when Ashley was just 5 weeks old, she began sleeping all night long. That’s right, 5 weeks. The first night was in Toronto where we had stopped to take in a Blue Jays game with the older kids on the way to Maine. Both Deb and I got up during the night to check on her to make sure everything was ok.
As Ashley grew she became a gift of joy and blessing to us. I remember how her older sister Lisa was always able to calm her down if she was having a crying spell. I remember needing to change our family devotion time with our older children to before school, when Ashley was still asleep, when she was around 2 years old. We needed to do this because Ashley seemed to think that us sitting down together was her time to entertain us.
As she grew we did many fun things together. When I was out of the pastorate every Wednesday afternoon we had a regular ice-skating date. I was counseling full-time but I would only schedule 5 clients on Wednesday so I could pick her up from school for our weekly date. Then when God called me back into the pastorate at Twining, Mi. she became my 1st golf buddy and my skiing partner. I delight that we still do these things together and it’s very competitive. I’m a little better golfer but she is a way better skier. When we came to New Durham Chapel the transition was smooth and seamless as she quickly connected with the youth at TCS and NDC. That first year at NDC when our youth sang in TI (Teens Involved) my heart was bursting with joy and pride. Our teens sang Ray Boltz’s song “I pledge Allegiance to the Lamb,” and went all the way to the Nationals where they placed. My heart was refreshed as I saw her experiencing the community of fellowship with our young people.
Then there were so many sports memories. There are too many to recount but I must share 2 that standout because they contrast so much with other painful events in our lives. One occurred on June 5, 2007 when at the spring sports banquet Ashley was recognized for her contribution to the softball team. We missed a call from Deb’s brother Tom. That call was to tell us that Deb’s dad had passed away. Deb was upset at first that we missed the call but I said “its way better we missed the call, we just needed to enjoy the moment God gave us”. The 2nd moment occurred on December 19, 2008 the day after my dad’s funeral. Ashley’s first basketball game of the season was that day and our whole family was together (minus my dad) for the only time to see her play. Ashley picked up 4 fouls in the first half and sat down with TCS up by 8. But at half the lead was down to 1 with Ashley on the bench. She came out in the 2nd half and played incredible with 4 fouls and when she sat with 2 minutes to go in the game TCS was ahead by 20. She would help lead TCS to its first ever state tournament appearance that year in basketball as well as volleyball. The ending of Ashley’s basketball playing was sad as Ashley worked her way back into game shape after wrist surgery only to have her coach decide he wasn’t going to be playing her. The decision to quit was difficult but the right decision as it opened many other doors of opportunity, including Urbana (an InterVarsity conference). Seeing Ashley on the sidelines as a first responder for the football team was an incredible blessing.
The Lord Jesus Christ has continued to work in Ashley’s life. Three mission trips over the last 4 years have been source of special blessing (Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Haiti). We praise God for her involvement and leadership in her InterVarsity campus group. We don’t know what the future holds but we do know who holds the future. When we keep our eyes on Jesus and keep walking with Him, He promises to direct our path. And, this Friday I get to see my baby walk at graduation, excuse me if my heart bursts with joy and pride. Another special moment is on the way; thank you God for this special gift and moment.