April 7, 2015

Think of Me

Every human on the earth longs to be remembered. In the small mundane day-to-day tasks, or the big projects of life—we don’t ever want to feel forgotten. We like to be acknowledged for the things that we do, and noticed for the sacrifices we make. We like to be seen when we do something right, and still loved through our mistakes. We want to be remembered when we aren’t around, and protected even when we are. It is a basic human desire—for others to think of us. So we aren’t forgotten.

One thing I have learned: some days we will be forgotten. And no matter how hard we long to be remembered—sometimes we are not enough. 

I knew all along it would come, and eventually it did.

There she was, standing on the stand raising her hand promising to tell the truth—the only witness. The only person who saw the gun fire. The only one who actually knew exactly what happened that night.

I could not take my eyes off of her. I had to hear it all for myself; I forced my mind to listen to every word in hopes of finding answers, or at least finding a way to stop needing them.

Why. How. When? A murder, an affair: the two things that had taken over my thoughts and had filled my soul with doubts for which I constantly was seeking answers to.

As the first words came out of her mouth my heart yearned for her to look toward me and say how sorry she was for all I had gone through. I kept waiting and waiting—like a pathetic jr. high girl waiting for someone to ask her to dance. I just knew she had to have been thinking of all the pain the kids and I had suffered because of that night. She just had to understand my need—for any of the three of them to offer me some sort of an apology . . .

Every few questions I leaned closer, hoping to catch the words I somehow was waiting to hear.

Soon, the two of them glanced longingly toward each other and whispered, ‘I love you’s. My heart began to pound out of my chest. A hatred I have never felt before sprouted an anger full of resentment. How dare they pretend that everything was ok between them. How dare they make a mock of the fact that I would never have that chance. How dare they pretend that they could over look the bad decisions they each had made—when Emmett was killed because of his.

A black hole engulfed me as I let my hatred kindle in my heart. Ultimately it was because of them that Emmett was not there to look across the room from me and tell me the ‘I am sorry’s I still longed for. Did no one think of me? No one remembered that I had a voice—that I was even alive. That night . . . did they honestly think they were the only three people in the world? Did not one of them remember I was sitting at home—with no answers—trying to figure out how to be enough?

My mind reeled with every question, and every doubt it had stored inside.

Each word she spoke drilled and drilled into me a truth I had feared: You were not enough. You were not enough for that gun. You were not enough for her. You were not enough for Emmett. You were not even enough for anyone to walk away. You are worthless—and no one is thinking of you. Not then, not now . . . maybe never.

My heart yearned for someone to think of me. Even for that moment, for someone to remember the pain I had suffered, or the burdens I had come to bear.

I looked around the room—no one was watching me. For all the times I had wished everyone would stop staring my way . . . for the first time I wished someone could see me. Anyone. I wished someone would come take the stand with proof that anyone knew—or cared—who I was.

I wished Kandi would look out into the crowd and tell me she knew it had been hard for me. I wished Rob would stand up and say how sorry he was that as he was reminding Emmett to go home to his family . . . he himself should have thought of us before reaching into his hoody pocket for his gun.

I felt so alone I wanted to crawl into a hole. I felt so small I could almost feel my self-esteem melting into the floor.

The hard thing about waiting for someone else to complete your healing, is the feeling of brokenness that comes when they fail to meet your silent expectations.

On the drive toward home that afternoon I felt deflated. Not because of the facts I heard for the thousandth time—but because of the words I did not hear. After some time of driving silent in my anger I flipped on my phone and let my music play.

Soon the play list turned over and a familiar song came on. It was a song I had taught my little sister Ali’s young woman class at our church a few years back. Tears began to fall as I felt each word sink into my heart.

Do you wonder if he knows who you are?
Do you wonder if he knows the secret pleadings of your heart
He has numbered every sand of the sea
And he longs for you to know that he believes in you.

Can you feel the quiet power from above
Can you feel his strength surround you when your own is not enough
He has blessed you with his spirit from on high
And he longs for you to know what lives inside of you
Oh, be true

Daughter of a king
The father's royalty
Heir to his divinity
He's calling your name
To come and take your place before his throne
He has always known
What he created you to be
A daughter of a king

You hold the promises of all eternity
Rise to claim the noble birth right you were sent here to recieve
He has loved you since you lived with him before
Let him lead you to the gifts he has in store for you
Oh, be true

Daughters of a king our father's royalty
Heirs to his divinity
He's calling our names
To come and take our place before his throne
He has always known
What he created us to be.....
Daughter of a king.

In that moment I knew the lies I had been fighting all day were just that. I was surrounded by the love of One much greater than the three I had been waiting for. I remembered the truth of the promise that was made to me long before I even came to this earth—I was enough for Him. In that very moment my heart was overwhelmed with the love of God and I could almost no longer remember the hate that had entrapped me all day long.

Truth will always win—for it is in truth that we find someone who WILL think of us. We find the true healing we seek, when we are able to reach to the One who will always remember us.

Just like I had many times before I walked into my house—not surrounded by the hate I had for those who had forgotten me—but filled with the love of the One who had remembered.

We are always going to be reminded that we are not enough; we are easy to forget when something seemingly greater comes along. But I promise you this: Someone is thinking of you. He not only thinks of you when you feel alone—He remembers you when you really are forgotten.

Daughter of a King video

March 23, 2015

It is coming up!!!

Please join me and many others at this conference in May. It is going to be an amazing day of healing and hope. I can't wait to meet everyone and find out more stories that inspire me to not only keep sharing my own... But to be a little better. We all have a story, and we have all felt pain. Please come unite with us as we learn a new way to stand!

I cannot wait to meet everyone at this conference. I have put a lot of heart into planning every second. It is going to be an amazing day. Please jump on the website and reserve your seat!

A Reason To Stand Conference website

March 9, 2015

Send Someone

The week the trial was over I remember slipping into a deep depression. All the weight of my emotions—I had pictured would be lifted—still settled deep inside. The fears that haunted me had not ceased. That miracle rooftop moment of healing I had craved, still had not come. I was still hurting; I was still broken. It didn’t make sense. Rob had been sentenced—shouldn’t I have felt some sort of instant relief?

It was time to be back on my normal routine. I was walking kids to school and packing lunches. I was scrubbing toilets and folding laundry. I was doing all of the normal mom things I had always done, but instead of feeling a sense of freedom from the past—I was grieving the reality that my burdens did not feel lighter.

Early one morning—I believe it was a Monday—I loaded my car with kids, dropped the four big kids off at school and headed to the grocery store. I dreaded being in public. As I drove tears fell down my face and the cloud of gloom—I thought had been bad—steadily grew worse.

By the time we pulled up to the grocery store I was a mess. I didn’t want to be seen in public; I did not want to have another stranger walk up to me and ask how I felt about Rob’s sentence.  I didn’t want to get out of the car. I said a small prayer as I turned off the ignition. I whispered in my mind, “Heavenly Father . . . I can’t kick this darkness. What is wrong with me? It is over . . . and I can’t let it go. Today . . . I need help. Please send me . . . send me someone to help me. Please send me someone who can ease this burden. I am alone . . . I feel so alone. I need someone to help me. Please help me feel less alone, please send me . . . send me someone to ease my pain . . . send me someone to help me learn how to live normal life again—a friend—someone to help me remember how to keep going—help me find a purpose. Please send me someone.”

I wiped my tears, got the kids out of the car and we headed into the store. In my fog, Kaleeya, Tytus and I wandered the aisles without much order. They snacked on crackers and giggled with each other. I quietly grabbed things off the shelf and threw them in the cart.

Soon, we found ourselves in the bulk food section. I began filling bags and writing down the corresponding number on the ticket. From the corner of my eye I saw a woman standing in the aisle and staring into her cart. I turned my head towards her. Something felt wrong. I stared for a few seconds trying to piece together what she was doing. She didn’t move her gaze from her cart. Instantly I felt this strong urge to help her. The first thought that popped into my mind was to offer to pay for her groceries. Trying hard to mind my own business, I brushed the thought aside and pushed my cart around her and headed to the other end of the store.

We made our way to the dairy section and loaded the cart with milk and eggs. The nagging feeling again came over me and ushered me to go back and offer the woman some financial assistance. I battled with my thoughts and—like I had many times—I talked to myself . . . directly at myself. First of all Ashlee . . . you have enough of your own problems to deal with. You don’t need to worry about someone else’s burdens. You don’t even know what is wrong with her. What makes you think she isn’t going to be insulted by you offering her money? Besides, how many purchases do you need to make in the next few days for your own family? You are not going to embarrass this poor woman by making her feel like a beggar on the street. Just finish shopping and go home.  

Again, I shrugged off the impression. But as I walked, I found my cart turning to the back of the store and again past the bulk section.  She was still there—looking into her cart, and then back at the food in the bins.  In a panic, I veered my cart down the baking aisle.

I was almost in tears. I silently prayed. Heavenly Father, what the heck is going on? I see this lady standing here in this grocery store and I am overwhelmed with this feeling that I need to help her buy food? I can’t do that . . . I won’t. First of all, she is going to think I am judging her. She is going to be embarrassed—I am going to make her feel like a charity case. She looks like a very hard working woman—I don’t want to insult her. Plus, Kaleeya needs a new winter coat. Tytus needs new shoes. Bailey and Bostyn need piano books, and Jordyn and Teage keep asking for new hats. We have plenty of things in our own life where our money needs to go. Why would I spend it for someone else? I am overwhelmed with my own burdens and trials . . . plus . . . I can’t embarrass this woman. I am just . . . not going to take this on today. I am going to mind my own business and go home.  

I started to move my cart forward to walk away. My once clouded mind became full of a very clear plan. Get into your wallet and give her the money inside.

In humility, I stopped the cart. I was sure there was no money inside my wallet—I rarely had cash. As I opened my wallet—in a zipper I hardly ever used—I found a one hundred dollar bill.  Tears filled my eyes as I remembered where it came from. After much healing in our relationship during the mediation (when we tried to mediate the murder trial), Emmett’s mom had sent a card with money to take the kids to a movie. I had thrown the money in my wallet, but used my credit card at the theater.

I stared down at the money in my hand. I guess Heaven had a plan for you little bill. I choked up as I squeezed it in my grip. I slowly pushed my cart toward the back of the store, with the money still tucked in my palm.

This money—and all that I have—isn’t really mine anyway . . . is it?

There she was—still in the same spot she had been for the last twenty minutes during my pity party rebellion. I pushed my cart alongside hers and stopped. I grabbed her arm and she turned and looked at me. I chocked out my words. I said, “I know you have no idea who I am . . . and I have no idea why I am doing this. I hope I do not offend you in anyway, but I . . . I just need to give you something. So from one stranger to another, this is for you.”

I opened my sweaty palm to reveal the money. She looked down and burst into tears. She spoke through her sobs, “How did you know? I have been standing here for a long time, trying to figure out how to pay for all these groceries. I have $12.00 in my bank account. How did you know, I needed help . . . I needed someone to help me. Thank you. You are an angel for me today.”

She threw her arms around me and continued to thank me as we embraced. My heart was so full I could feel Heaven surround us. We held each other for a few more words and sobbed together. She thanked me, and again asked how I knew.

I said, “Have you ever had one of those moments where Heavenly Father asked you to do something, and you almost thought He was crazy? The last twenty minutes I have been fighting the feeling to help you. But I couldn’t walk away. I do know this . . . His love for you was stronger than my pride. You are loved, and today I think He needed you to know that in a different way.  Thank you for letting me be the one to help you. I hope you have a wonderful Holiday season.”

She hugged me again and we said goodbye.

I will probably never know her name. I have no idea what her story is. But that day, when I begged Heavenly Father to send someone to help me—He asked me to step outside of myself and help someone else who needed Him.

Maybe I was an answer to her prayer—I will never know for sure—but she was the answer to mine.

Everyone is hurting. Some days God sends us little angels to remind us that we are not alone; other days He sends us to be the angels—to help us understand the world revolves around so much more. While surrounded by another’s pain, it is easy to forget our own for a moment.

For years everyone around us had lifted me—finally He let me take my turn to carry some of the load.

To anyone who has ever felt alone . . . you are not. He is near, I can promise you. He has heard your pleas—sometimes for a temporary need, and other times for an answer on how to live again after one of life’s trials.

All of us—all of God’s children—are pleading for something. That day I was pleading for Him to send me someone. But “being that someone” reminded me of His love, not only for His daughter who needed Him . . . but for myself.

Be that someone.  When you can’t remember why life is worth living—remind someone else all the reasons they should.

He can’t always send us exactly what we think we need . . . but His path is exactly where we need to be.  

Heaven had a plan for that little one hundred dollar bill . . . and your Heavenly Father has a plan for you. Maybe you have been crumbled a few times; maybe you have been lost in a dark wallet for a while . . . but your worth is great to Him. He hasn’t forgotten where you have been left alone. He still remembers how you have hurt as you have waited for a break from the pain. Maybe you have been used; maybe someone has told you that you were not worth much. No matter how many times you have felt like you have paid for some one else’s happiness—or for someone else’s pain—you are still a one hundred dollar bill.

As prized as the day you were born, Heaven has a plan for you. Maybe He can’t always send someone to pull us out of the darkened day . . . but He sent His Son to earth to live and to die for us. That alone is enough for us to know how great our worth must be—that even our story can be made whole through Him. God didn’t just send someone—He sent THE One.

Maybe I thought I needed an angel that day—but being one brought me closer to Heaven than I had ever been.

March 6, 2015

Be True

Today would have been eleven years of marriage for Emmett and I. It is hard not to look back and reflect on all the losses I have seen. I decided to go and read my post about Emmett's and my marriage. Instead of making me sad, it made me think of the commitments I still get to fight for. I have so many blessings and I am so thankful for marriage and the gift it is in my life. I choose to be true. I choose to work hard and make my promises count. So I am grateful for Emmett and the opportunity he gave me to be a mother... But even more today for the lessons his past has helped me find in the importance of marriage and staying true.

Today I am going to fight a little harder to be true to all the promises I have made. I am going to stand a little stronger in the moment, and in all the blessings that surround me today.

Spring is in the air. Hold the love you have dear, and cherish every moment you are making. We don't always know what tomorrow will bring, so we must choose to be true today.

 Choose to Be True (post from last year about our wedding day)

March 1, 2015

Ticket winner

Congratulations Proudmomof6. Thank you for sharing such a personal story and being such a good friend. We are excited to announce we will be giving a ticket to you and your friend to the conference on May 9th at the Boise Center on the Grove. A Reason to Stand. Please email me at themomentswestand@gmail.com with you and your friend's information so we can get you both on the list.

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