October 1, 2020

Bostyn

Ok. Here it goes. At the request of my brave beautiful daughter—in an effort and hopes to educate and bring light to an otherwise secret dark battle—I have been asked to be her voice in sharing her journey of anorexia. 


We didn’t even notice there was a struggle until about a year ago—though she has opened up lately that it started slowly long before. People started to ask—clear back then—if she was ok and mention how thin she was looking. I would reassure them that she was fine and that her whole life she was long and lean and was just having another growth spurt. 


But then even I started to notice more changes than just her physical body looking frail and weak. Her old pants that she had outgrown years ago and passed down to Kaleeya began to show up again in her wardrobe. Meals that were once her favorite began to be something she no longer liked. She began to stop eating sugar, saying it made her feel sick. Little things started feeling off. At the time I didn’t take too much notice, but looking back I wish I would have recognized all these signs. 


She began to love cooking everything and for everyone. I couldn’t complain...it only helped me keep up with other things I had on my list of to do’s and I loved having her hang out in the kitchen with me. I didn’t even notice for awhile that after slaving away for whatever everyone needed and wanted she would quickly munch on a few pieces of spinach and reassure everyone that she was too full to eat because she was snacking on all of the food she had cooked all day. 


For a long time I just watched, not wanting to accuse her of anything, but skeptical that her words and actions were not matching up. After a while, I began talking to her a lot about my concerns and she always reassured me—in the sweet way she does everything—that she was fine and she had never felt better. Soon her siblings—one by one—began asking what was wrong and if she was doing ok. Then they began begging that I do something. 


One afternoon—about six months ago—I was heading out to the store and Bailey mentioned that she needed some female products. I looked over at Bostyn and asked what she needed in that department. Everything in the room got weird and quiet. Bailey finally blurted out, “she is good.” With more questions I came to learn she—the one who had matured early...5th grade to be exact—hadn’t had her period in 6 months. 

 



The more I watched her, and the more late night pep talks we had where we set goals and put plans in place...the less her words added up with her actions. The more I forced her to eat, the more she pretended and reassured me that she was just not hungry or she had eaten while I was not around. Quarantine came and went and her once tight workout pants began hanging off her like skater jeans from the 90’s. Day and night I monitored and begged and forced, not knowing how to get help when everything was shut down, and not willing—or not wanting—to really see how bad things were getting. 


Sometimes I would find her at weird hours downstairs running on the treadmill, her frail body shaking as I pulled the chord and demanded she get off. She would be trembling so bad and her eyes would practically roll into the back of her head, all the while telling me she had only been on there a few minutes. 


Every day there were more secrets that she thought I was buying. Every day I was winning more battles. In hind sight the only battle I was wining was forcing her to get about 300 calories in a day. Looking back, it wasn’t really as much of a win as it felt in the moment. We would end each day with promises and goals for a smoother tomorrow...but put into action, she would have panic attacks about eating anything more than a few bites of vegetables and spend most of her time worried about what everyone else was eating. 



I kept thinking, “get her back to school, she just needs her routine and friends...then I will get my girl back.” (Besides Teage, Bostyn has always been the biggest social butterfly in our house. Witty and funny. Full of life and making friends everywhere she went.)


School began and the shell she had been living in just got more frail. She didn’t want anything to do with her friends. Bailey would have to practically drag her out of the house, because if she knew was going to be somewhere with food, she would make a thousand excuses why she would have to just stay home, or go late...or come home early. 


If depriving herself of food was not enough, she was even harder on herself with her grades (the last few years she has always been a 4.0 student). She spent quadruple the time than any of the other kids on her homework, going over and over each assignment to make sure it was perfect before turning it in. 


Speaking of homework...I started noticing that she was always STANDING (never  sitting) even when working on her assignments or watching a movie. She didn’t allow herself any down time. She was always looking for more ways to burn calories and—what she described later—would punish herself for “being lazy”(AKA sitting when standing was an option) 


For months I had been talking to an eating disorder hotline and getting referrals for a therapist. Every time I mentioned it, Bostyn shut down and said how she was fine and didn’t need help. I would leave messages for everyone on the list, and nobody would call me back. A few of them ended up texting me and saying they were full and weren’t taking clients. 


For a few weeks, every time I prayed about what to do I kept getting this feeling she was going to end up in the hospital. Teage even came home from school one day after learning about eating disorders, begging me to do something...worried that like Karen Carpenter, one morning we would wake up and she would be gone. 


About two weeks ago...after a battle of wills, Bostyn walked out the door victorious having worked out all morning, eaten nothing for breakfast, and refused to pack a lunch. Moments later, I got a strange text from her saying how she just wanted to give up and she couldn’t do this anymore. After that text I left a long winded, scared message for the last therapist on my list. 


She called back the next day. 

    

I poured it all out. I explained every detail of what I was seeing in Bostyn and cried for the little girl I felt was falling through the cracks. She asked me a long list of questions. Bostyn checked every single box. She was losing hair, her skin was scaling, she never felt hungry, she was pushing everyone away, she hadn’t had her period in a whole year, her circulation was so bad her fingers and toes were constantly blue and purple, plus she was over doing workouts at all hours of the day, and she was cutting out all food groups but green vegetables and an occasional small bite of chicken. She was lying about it all. She was even chewing up food and before swallowing it...she would  spit it in the sink. She was a perfectionist at school and cooking for everyone. She had lost 40 pounds and looked like a skeleton. All the while she was still having break downs about her belly being too fat causing her to hide her “fat body” in baggy clothes. And the list of checked boxes continued. 


The sweet lady on the other end opened my eyes and for the first time I actually saw how bad things had gotten. She said, “Ok Ashlee...your daughter has anorexia and body dysmorphia, so the next step is that her body is going to eat her uterus so she won’t be able to have children...and there is a possibility of her going into cardiac arrest or having a heart attack. This is not a little struggle at this point that can be fixed by weekly counseling appt...sounds like you have tried it all. Your daughter needs to be admitted to a recovery center...not soon...but like months ago. You could take a gamble with months of counseling and hope something sticks, but I think at this point she will end up hospitalized.” We talked for an hour. She sent me referrals and all of her recommendations to save this girl. 


After our conversation I was in shock, but I knew she was right. I felt peace about what to do for the first time in months. 


Scott and I told Bostyn that night, before we even had any real details of when and how or if we could even get her in to one of the the centers...but that she would be going into a recovery center for anorexia. She cried tears of relief and told us even more of the struggles she had been facing and the timeline of when everything started. She told us about things said to her that triggered and fueled her beliefs about food. She told us about being Anna in the play, fearing she would be “a fat version of the Disney character”. She told us how she was always comparing every meal she ate with what everyone around her—including her one year older sister Kennady—was consuming. She shared the belief that she had to be shaking and about to pass out to feel like she had done enough working out. She talked about nights of getting little sleep, stressing about how to cut more calories and get in more workouts. She told us she would get anxiety attacks if she knew she was going to be at a party or out to eat where friends—or family—might pressure her into eat something she hadn’t planned. She told us stories of days when she almost passed out on stage, or walking up stairs.  She told us about afternoons where she hid in the bathroom during lunch so she didn’t have to eat or see people. For an hour she cried tears of relief...excited to get help. 


The next few days were rough because she began realizing what it meant to get real help. Her panic attacks became more about her fear of actually having to get better and gain weight. She got angry a few times as the reality of having to leave—and to start the work it would take to overcome this disorder—set in. She went through waves of denial and shame...followed by relief and acceptance. 


After a series of miracles, specialists and doctors agreed it was where she needed to be. Bostyn entered the recovery center 6 days after that call with the therapist that Friday night. Drs squeezed her in for testing (and nurses almost hospitalized her when they couldn’t get a drop of blood, not even from finger pricks and needles in her arm) Monday morning we found out that someone was leaving on Tuesday and she could be admitted into the recovery center on Thursday. 


It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I have never been filled with more peace, guilt fear, and reassurance all at the same time. I have been haunted all day and night—since Thursday—by her scared, sad eyes that reassured me, and broke my soul, as I walked away.  I cried so hard on the drive home I had to stop a few times in parking lots to catch my breath and sob in the silence. 


I miss her so bad it hurts. I cry a lot, even though I know it is where she is supposed to be...and though I couldn’t continue to watch her slowly kill herself here...I can’t imagine not having her home each day. 


It’s hard during these kinds of trials to not try to find something to blame. I have gone through moments when I have tried. I have found myself looking at her timelines , people’s comments that triggered her, people in her past who have failed her, patterns on both sides of her family, social media (I wish I could blame this one, but she has never been allowed much time online), and traumatic experiences. 


I truly believe that Bostyn is healing 8 years of pain in her own way. I always knew that each of my kids was going to have to work through trauma in their own time. I feel peace knowing Bostyn is getting that experience now. 


Trauma doesn’t even begin to come out until you are in a safe place. Scott gave her a blessing as she was leaving our house on Thursday. She was blessed with many promises. One of the main ones I remember is that the Savior would walk with her and it was through His grace that she would find true healing. 


Though I have always known that, it was so reassuring (to my mom guilt) to know that even my daughter...who for so long I tried to save, has a Savior who is going to do just that. Trauma shows up in many forms. This  time it is showing up emotionally and physically, but there is hope. She will beat this. I know it. 


The last thing I asked her as we got out of the car to walk into her new temporary home was, “What do you want me to tell people?”

Her brave reflective answer was, “Tell them the truth. Tell the family, tell my friends...the truth. This is real, and it almost beat me. I want to help people when I get out of here know they aren’t alone. I need you to do something for me...share this story and help other moms. There have to be more girls like me who need help...too afraid because nobody will talk about it.” 


So here I am, a mother humbled by her daughter’s bravery. A mother scared, aching, and grieving. A mother proud watching her little warrior—who has always brought me joy—not only put on her armor to win this battle...but put on the shoes of others who are walking this road. A mother in awe...watching her do what I—too many times—have been asked to do...be brave, be vulnerable, and share truth. 


After hours of sharing stories of her past, and her current struggles, I asked the team (of doctors, nurses, nutritionists, counselors, and therapists) how long they expected her to be there. Having walked in there that afternoon with the expectation in my mind that she would only need the 30 day minimum...their answers startled me. Every single one of them responded the same, “for how deep she is into this most girls at this level stay around at least 5-6 months.” My heart fell out of my chest, and my tears got even more hot as I pictured having this baby girl in 12 weeks without Bostyn home. I struggled picturing tucking Bailey in every night with an empty bed next to her; decorating our house for the holidays...without her; Christmas morning without her; starting a new year with a new baby, without all of us together.


And then I had this calm come over me. And these words came into my mind...”You get this Christmas, or you get many more to come. Which is more important to you?”


Why is it that the right thing is almost always the hardest thing to do? 


I was stuck in asking a whole lot of “whys” on the long drive back home. I was yelling and crying and begging. All of a sudden this little quiet alarm was sounding. I finally figured out what it was. Bostyn’s phone—she wasn’t allowed to take with her—was going off. I picked it up and looked down at the screen. A “don’t forget to pray” alarm was beeping. I pulled over and looked through all of her alarms. There were 5 to be exact set to go off throughout the day...all reminders to pray. 

 

So that is all I did the rest of the day and every moment since. I have payed for peace for each of my kids....especially that little sunshine girl who is now safe and working on being free from so many things, but especially the pain of the past and a disease that threatened the future. 


It has been a humbling journey, one where I learned—yet again—that is it not my job to save another person’s soul. It is my job to trust in our Savior, whose mission is just that. I must put my trust in Him even when it is hard, to hand over my will—and my daughter—and willingly follow His plan. 


Like she was promised that morning in her blessing...”You are not alone. He will walk with you”...I too have been holding on to that promise that we can do hard things, and we are never going to do them alone. 


If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder....please don’t wait. There is no shame in being sick, no matter what kind of sickness is battling you. Anorexia is not just a desire of the body to be more thin, it is a disease of the mind. It is not a struggle of choices....it is a powerful struggle that takes away your choices. It is not just a disorder full of secrets and darkness and hiding...it is a sickness of the brain that tortures and haunts. It needs attention and help and healing. It needs truth and a team that will give you all the tools to not only fight...but to win. 


These battles we face, we don’t have to do them alone. Ask for help when you need it...and pray for light. He is always there. 


I don’t know what the next months are going to be like for Bostyn, but I can’t wait to get my girl back. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, and back in her bed where I can hug her every day. I am so thankful for others who can do what I have not been able to do, and angels who are going to be watching over her while I cannot. 






You got this Bostyn—brave, beautiful, sunshine—girl. I will never forget the fight you gave for your life when you sat in your hospital bed during your eye infection all those years ago. You are a warrior. Always have been...always will be. We are proud of you and know with all our hearts you can win this one too. 


Love, 

Mom



September 16, 2020

Support for a friend


 I got a very emotional and sweet email this week from a recent widow asking for advise on how to move forward after loss. She too had a compounded situation, and didn’t find out about her husband’s affair until the day after he passed away. She has told no one—even her children—and feels very trapped and alone.


My heart ached as I listened to this sweet women describe a pain I knew all too well. She put it perfectly when she said, “The pain of losing him is unbearable, but the trauma of finding out about his affair...is one hard to put into words. I don’t even know where to start.” 


She kept asking how she would ever learn to breath again—to see herself as a human. 


The news of infidelity—no matter what the context—stabs you at the core. It shatters memories you once thought were sacred. It shakes your bedrock of who you were...and who you feel you now are. It is a pain that runs so deep and mocks the thought of anything lasting forever. 


Now having that coupled with losing a person to death...it complicates the natural grief process and sends you into a whirlwind of hatred and fear you never knew existed. A bipolar dance of grieving the life and love of a person you adored with waves of feeling the ultimate betrayal of a person you now want to hate...with no end in sight. 


I know way too many of you know this moment in one way or another. Grief—whether in death or betrayal—has similar patterns of pain and loneliness and requires a journey of healing and a constant fight to move forward. 


No matter what your story of infidelity or losing a spouse to death is...that pain has been real, it has been hard, and it has been lonely. Please know you are not alone. You are not a failure. You are not at fault, and you will get through this. 


“So how do I move on?”That’s the question she wants to know. With her permission, we have a few questions we want help answering. So widow friends and friends who have grieved the memories of a relationship now torn and shattered by infidelity...how have you moved on? She is trying to find answers to both. As healing both of these pains and losses will need their own time and their own journey. 


Every story is different—but so many can explain the process of their healing from it in ways that can help ignite others to find peace and a fire of perseverance. That’s why they call it sisterhood or brotherhood (these clubs that life throws us into)...not because we have all the answers for each other, but because we can give each other enough hope to fight to find the answers for ourselves. 


Please share any thoughts you have (even if you haven’t experienced the same loss and struggles, but have watched from another angle or have wisdom to share from other life experiences) What were the first steps to finding yourself again? How have you used your faith to help you through? What advise do you have for someone who—in some way—has been thrown onto a path where you have walked, a life with a story you didn’t choose? What have you found through this journey that has strengthened you: Tools? Advise? Beliefs about yourself or the world that have helped you find courage to move forward? What has helped you the most? How have you changed through the process? How have you found the strength to move forward even when it has been hard? 


Thank you in advance for all the light you can share. Feel free to message me privately if you want me to post your thoughts without it being linked to your name. You guys have always been a great support to me, and I am happy this can be a place where we can support each other through this unknown, super hard, amazing, crazy, happy, unbearable, joyful thing we all call life. 




August 16, 2020

A year of moments




Someone asked me the other day if —with all the cancelled events— I have missed speaking this year. Yes. I have missed connecting and sharing my heart; I have missed the energy I feel when I am on that stage and I feel the spirit in a different way than I do at any other time in my life. I have missed hugging all of you and hearing your stories and feeling and learning from your courage. I have missed the powerful healing that takes place when a room is packed with brave warriors united in strength to overcome. 


However as I have thought more about the question... I have been thinking about all I have gained during this time of slow down. I have been able to work on being present in every way with the people who need me the most right now. I have not felt pressure to choose between them and anything else. I have learned some things I didn’t know about each one of my kids. I have fallen more in love with my husband, and have seen the many little sacrifices he makes daily. I have watched teenagers melt at the smallest dance or giggle of a baby. I have laughed so hard at witty comments they make and little inside jokes they create with each other. I have heard them share memories of their younger years—none of which include our trips to Disneyland or big presents they got for Christmas—but the little every day moments of voices I made on certain books, and watching our favorite movies all together. Years of memories—many of which I had almost forgotten, that made an impact for them. 


This year has been different. Pretty hard some days with so many unknowns and news that is unsettling daily. I have had my share of panic attacks after leaving a store, wondering when and if there will ever be a time where every single person in the store doesn’t fit the description of the bank robbers from years past, or when people will ever be able to smile at each other again. I have missed connections. I have had days when parenting has been draining and I have craved a simple schedule full of consistency and certainty...and then jumped into it with so much uncertain about how long it will last or what it will look like for them. Sending babies out the door in masks in a world full of chaos and fear has been hard for me, but imagining them having to stay locked up despite not having all the information—without even knowing what is real and what is being used to create fear with intention—is another kind of hard. 


If we think it is hard as moms...just imagine how the kids feel. For years we have told them to get out despite their fears, stand up despite who is pushing you down, don’t believe everything you hear...some rumors are just lies mean people say to make you feel small. Now all the adults around them are struggling to do the same. Frozen. We feel frozen. Because whatever we do...to someone it is wrong. Extremes on all ends of all topics blaming and hating, and not really caring about the group as a whole, or individuals really...just themselves and their cause. We are so used to telling our kids which way is up when their small world gets overwhelming...that it is hard to remember how to breathe—not just in these damn masks—but in this big world that feels so upside down. 


My word that describes my goals this year is...(and these words might be made up😜) expectational Neutrality—Not because everything has been easy and certain and fear hasn’t been present—but because everything has been uncertain and scary and unknown territory not any of us know how to navigate...and if I am not constantly in check of my inner neutrality...I feel the weight of it all. Everything we read contradicts the next, and every fact we come to believe is replaced by fear the more we learn. So we have to take each moment with a little more kindness. Each comment made with a little more patience. And each fear triggered with a little more faith. Become neutral in our expectations so nothing extreme becomes the very thing that breaks us. 


Satan wants us big and extreme, angry and hurt. He wants us to overcome pain by causing more of it. He wants us to run when things get hard and give up when we can’t handle the surprises we didn’t plan. He wants us to destroy hope and suppress light by causing fear. He wants us to think love is created out of acts of hate, and hate is repaired by only caring about ourselves. 


History has shown...one to many thousands of times. Fires will never go out by adding more wood to the flames. Hate will never be turned to love by fueling it with more hate. 


God wants us loving and kind, and willing to show up even when it isn’t easy. God wants us to forgive, and serve, stand for what is right in ways that uplift, not hurt those who see things differently. He wants us to do our part to bring light to our world, and be neutral in our expectations of what kind of world we can live in...because most of the time our trying to force it to change all at once—or believing that we have to—only creates more fear, inadequacy, and anger toward it, ourselves, and sometimes Him. He wants us to trust His timing, and not just force ours. 


We live in a world that is dark, and we know that it can and will get even more heavy. However there is light. It always shines. This year as my light has shown in more simple ways, I am grateful to know that it matters still. Moms at home, wondering if you make a difference...you have the power to change their world. Dads working from home feeling overwhelmed and unseen. We see you. Kids walking out the door in masks feeling uneasy , lost, alone, indivisible, and scared about what’s next in this year long game of Jumanji...we got you. We have no idea what the crap we are doing either...but we are going to get through it. Together. 


The work you are doing is great and it matters. 


Not every season will be one of big moments, but every little moment will be one that can change us in a big way. 


Keep shining...even if right now it is just for you. You are worth it. And if your faith in anything—including yourself— is feeling rattled...know you aren’t alone. I can’t even count the number of messages I have received from people sharing how this crazy year has shaken their faith in everything they once felt was constant that now feel like they are failing: confidence, hope, religious faith, relationships, parenting, and self worth. You aren’t alone if you are finding yourself questioning and reevaluating and relearning.  Give yourself grace and keep moving toward. 


I recently read an analogy about trials. We all go through trials, just like a boiling pot of water. Some get dropped in—like an egg—and it hardens them inside. Others go through the same trial of a boiling pot of water...like a potato—and the trial makes them soft. Same pot of water, two outcomes. I think at times we each have fallen in both categories. Sometimes our pain takes us to a humble moldable softer version of ourselves and other times those moments harden us. Fears kick in, panic circles, and we lose sight of who we once thought we were. Give yourself grace this year. Some days you might be the potato, other days you might feel hardened like the egg. Both have their place in this rollercoaster we call life. Also—side note—we need them both to make potato salad. 


Look for the little glimmers of light each day. Know that this too shall end. Every season has a purpose. We have to search for what ours is in this one. What has God been trying to tell you? What has He been trying to help you remember that He believes you are? What role is He needing you to play in the lives of those around you? If we start asking those kinds of questions...we can get closer to seeing the purpose of these moments. 


We will remember this year—the year full of unmet expeditions that we didn’t get to choose—but we can choose to make the most of the moments we have got. Moments of slowing down. Moments of time spent together. Moments of light shining even when everything around it seems dark. 


That’s you! The light that chooses to shine anyways! Keep it up! You matter. You are important and your story isn’t over. This is just a little tiny section of a little tiny chapter. Keep moving forward...and use that courage you have always had to SHINE. 


June 25, 2020

More

You are worth so much more than—(Fill in the blank)—is telling you that you are.

Fill in the blank. We usually know who/what it is. Maybe not all the time, but if we dig deep down it is usually pretty easy to pinpoint those moments when we let ourselves shrink by a belief, harsh words, fear of being judged, self hatred, or feeling forgotten. 

So...Who is the one telling you? The Voice inside your head? Your Ex? Your Mother? Your Roommate? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? Your boss? Your kids? Your fears? Strangers giving you weird looks? People you love and—want to—trust not seeing you for who you really are? 

Sometimes the people who should protect us the most...just dont. Including ourselves—especially ourselves. Do you feel like you have to shrink in the presence of your own thoughts? Do you let yourself feel small by someone else’s words or body language? Do you feel like a failure when you set out to accomplish and you don’t succeed? Do you spend more time focusing on what you wish was different about you, than what you DO have? Do you worry about why others don’t like you? Me too. And it sucks. 

So here is the deal. Today, we just don’t buy it. We show up anyway; we know that not everything we do will be successful...and even sometimes the biggest successes won’t be noticed by the people we want to see. Not all relationships are going to last forever. Not all people are going to like us—or treat us right—or even acknowledge that we exist. But our own thoughts...those are the ones that will be with us always. So today we tell ourselves how great we are. We control what we can control. We don’t shrink when fear tries to make us feel small. We don’t let another person’s judgements—or our perceived judgements from them—stop us from being who we want to be...and who we were born to be. Genuine. Unique. Powerful. And brave. 




June 11, 2020

United as One

This past Sunday during our lesson Tytus opened to the weeks chapter and immediately pointed out this picture. He said, “Mom do you think Jesus knew what would be happening in our country when He told the artist to paint this picture for this exact week? There are white sheep all around him, but Jesus is holding the black one.” 

I have been at a loss for words the last few weeks—trying to find my voice in an array of many emotions. Hurting for black mothers who are scared for their babies; hurting for minorities that don’t feel part of a country that was founded on welcoming and bringing all races together. Hurting for other families that have been thrown into the fear and chaos that murder brings. 

I am not an expert, and I have not been where so many of you have been. I have felt like I have no words to try to comfort—or even understand—anyone because I have not lived through racism, or acts of hate because of the color of my skin. 

I don’t have all the answers...but I wanted to share some truths, because I know that it is in truth that—many times—I have felt comfort...even without having all the answers to the “whys”. 

I know that divisions among equals is wrong. There never has been a time where one person—or race—is better than another...that has always been a made up delusion by insecure beings to make themselves feel better or bigger than someone else.  It was always wrong, and it will always be abuse when someone hurts or belittles another person because of a difference between them or their beliefs. It always was, and always will be murder if a life is taken out of hate. 

Just like body size, and eye color...skin color does not give us our worth or make or break who we are. Hitler was wrong. Our ancestors were wrong. Skin color, eye color, hair color...these are just traits that make us unique—beautiful in our own way. We weren’t meant to be just like each other; we weren’t meant to be the same...but we were meant to love each other. 

Jesus has wept for so many of His brothers and sisters who have felt lost and forgotten, targeted, trodden down, abused, and unwanted. He has cried for you, and with you. He loves you. He has counted every tear and I know He will remember all that we do, or fail to do to protect and care for each other. He will remember all we go through at the hands and ignorance of others. There will be a time—if not now—that we will all be held accountable for the actions we do, or fail to do. 

I know that it is His light that can take away the darkness that has racked our country with hate, decades ago and still today. Hate, anger, revenge...those feelings are so real...but they never do bring light. Darkness never has been chased away by more dark. It is the light each day that brings morning. It is the light in our hearts that brings peace. It is the light of Christ that brings healing. 

His gift to see us as God sees us is what we need. To see each other as the worthy, beautiful, valuable souls that each need to be loved, honored, and protected. We are all one...sons and daughters of the same Creator. 

I believe in us—a country...a world...that has been stuck in confusion that is ready to be real. Ready to STAND for what’s right...STAND for truth...STAND for love...And STAND for light. 

We all need to change: to be better than we were, stronger than we are, striving for what we can all be. United. United as neighbors and friends. United as strangers who see way past ourselves and our fears...and see the goodness of every soul. United as cities that see the value of every life and honor the value of every being, race, and culture. United under God—as beings created in His image, and valued in His grace. United in light. United as one. 


April 24, 2020

A Reason to Stand: FEARless (quarantine event)

The day I started my blog I thought I was going to be writing a story of hate about a broken girl, in a mess of a life, raising hurting broken children. Instead that day I was given a gift—to see that life, those kids, that girl in a new way. Instead of seeing the pain, I remembered moments where a little glimmer of light carried us through. 

A little glimmer of light is all a broken girl needs to be brave. 

Sometimes it takes a miracle to see a glimmer of light when you are—or feel—stuck in the dark. My life—just like yours—has been full of these moments. I call them grace—a gift I used to think would be given when I lived a perfect plan—but have come to see as a gift that lifts us when it feels impossible. These moments—of grace—have shown me what it feels like to have hope. In the world, in God, in others...and in myself. 

Brave isn’t a word to describe someone living a perfect plan. It is a word to describe someone who holds onto those glimmers of light through the darkness and lives life anyway. Brave is someone who is hurting and shows up for someone else. Brave is being scared to death you aren’t enough, but trusting that you have a Creator who believes you are. That’s grace—a Savior show sees us just as we are and loves us anyway. 

Grace. Watch for it. It comes quietly. It doesn’t always change the pain—or take away what is scary, but it always bring peace, if even just for a glimmer of a second.  A light at the end of the tunnel promising that there is a reason to make it through. It brings hope and light regardless of where or who we are. Hope in grace is the decision to trust in God’s plan, and to know that even this darkness will one day end. 

I know it will. 

Tonight would have been A Reason to Stand in Brigham City. Since we can’t meet in real life...we are coming to you. Follow this link to find a virtual event with so many amazing people sharing stories and tools of FEARless warriors. Please leave comments for our presenters—as speaking to a phone is so different than standing on a stage and getting the energy and direction you feel from the audience.  That is the part we all miss as we have struggled to speak from our hearts to people we don’t get to walk up and hug after.

Happy quarantine online conference. You aren’t alone. You are enough. You are brave. You are a warrior! FEARless. 







Please share with friends and family that could benefit from hearing these messages.

We miss you and so appreciate your support and the support you are giving each other through this hard time. Stay safe and healthy, and most of all look for those little glimmers of light.







Here is the YouTube link to the conference playlist:  https://bit.ly/2S23dBb

April 8, 2020

Love parenting

I had a sweet online friend message asking for advise on how to make it so her kids don’t driver her crazy. So I thought I would share my thoughts on ideas that work for me to build relationships with my kids and ask all of you to share as well.

Joyful parenting for me starts with looking at myself and how I am showing up. Usually when they are having problems...I find that I am usually the reason why. Days when I am too busy for them, unorganized, easily frustrated, not feeling good about myself, or too tired...usually end in moments of frustration with my kids. 

The good days usually begin with one of five things:

First off—I think this probably rings true for all of you who have lost someone close to you—we don’t get to choose when our last day will be with anyone...let alone our babies. Time is a gift—that we sometimes learn the hard way—can easily be taken away. For me that knowledge has helped me enjoy the little moments, desire to create lasting memories, take pictures often, and have more patience and willingness to forgive and move forward with love. 

Second. I have found that time can be stolen from us in ways we cannot even see. Scrolling through social media (or another addiction of choice) is a nice down time...but can become a thief to precious moments that could be spent loving, teaching or caring about someone’s feelings. 

Third. I work hard trying to spend more time looking for the good and less time showing them what they do wrong.  

Fourth. I try to remember that mistakes are how they learn. Milk can be cleaned. Broken dishes can be replaced...but words cannot be taken back. Relationships are harder to mend than jeans with skinned knees. Parenting is a hard job...but I try to remember so is being a kid. We do a lot of balancing of work and fun. (Yesterday we went for a hike that everyone loved...but first everyone did some jobs, homework, and yard work)

Fifth. I see the seven people in my house as my best friends. I have made it a goal to never use words or actions that make them feel like a burden or unimportant to me. They are all my favorite, and I work every day to build a relationship unique to each kid. I try to celebrate their differences, and connect with them in the things that make them tick. 

Ok I want to hear from you! Especially during this time when we are all at home. I know there are some hard days! We all have them, so don’t feel alone! I could write a book on all the moments I haven’t done parenting right, but today I would love to focus on the things we do right. What have been your parenting wins—during quarantine or before—that you are proud of? 

March 30, 2020

Questions that bring light

I have always defined the word trauma as a moment when you stop in your tracks and think “my life is never going to be the same”. That moment might not have ever affected anybody else... but it may be one that has lasted inside of a person for a very long time. 

The weirdest part about trauma is how it shows up when your body goes into that state in anyway again. A trigger can be anything that feels as if it could become a traumatic moment. In this time of uncertainty, I have talked to and receive messages from many of us who are experiencing some of those waves. And without fail those waves seem to bring with them one similar theme. A question of “why”. 

Asking “Why?”gets us feeling more alone, and more afraid. So today—as I have been working on this myself— I thought I would share some ideas of different questions to ask that might help spark some light...maybe even some moments of joy. 

Who can I reach out to today and help them feel less alone? Where does God need me today? (Hint...for most of us ironically—a lot of days—it will be within the walls of our own home...not just on days where we are home bound with stay-at-home orders) What can I do today for someone else? How can I get some exercise today to help my mental and physical health? How can I brighten the world for someone else? What questions can I ask to get my family talking and sharing? What can I do today to strengthen the relationships that are important to me? Who needs me to show up for them right now?

How can I step away from my coping mechanisms and spend quality time with the other people in this house with me? Who does God want us to be as a family...as individuals...as couples? What would it take for us to get there? How can I choose faith over fear today? What food will help my body feel healthy and safe today? What media or communications can I have that will bring light into my mind?

How can I feel grounded when the world seems so unsure? How can I connect to the Savior today to help me feel safe? How can I use this time in stillness and down time to better myself and the world around me? How can I support my (spouse or friend) who has been laid off and isn’t feeling worth a lot right now? What can I write in my journal that will help me work through past trauma so today’s trauma doesn’t feel so heavy? What around me makes me happy today? How can I purify my life and my space so I have good energy around me? What could I get purge (mentally, physically, emotionally, and tangibly) that doesn’t bring me joy? 

How can I find joy in the darkness I feel? How does God see me; what steps can I take so I can see myself how He sees me?

I hope this list helps you spark some ideas of the kinds of questions you want to write and ask yourself. I know this is a time of confusion, but we have the power to create light and life for ourselves and the people we love. Make these moments count! God knows where we are and He has not abandoned us, He is just giving us a chance to see how strong we are. 

Ok my brave friends. I need some more positive questions to ask. If one comes to you and you want to share...leave it for me in the comments! Stay healthy and safe. Ash

I don’t know who you give credit for, for this pic. Who ever you are, thank you! It is perfect. 

March 26, 2020

Quarantined

I have spent a lot of time over the last week and a half evaluating life from a perspective I haven’t seen for a long time. It has defiantly been a dance of fear and faith. Some days I wake up with the drive to keep living, producing, and creating. Other mornings I wake up in a fog feeling alone, overwhelmed, and scared for what’s next. What is next? I think we have all wondered that as the last few weeks have shown up with surprises each day. The unknown of what tomorrow might bring can be so daunting when we are nation...a world...surviving—in many ways—in shock and trying to suppress and process a new form of PTSD many of us didn’t know existed. This is scary. So many people are grieving a life that changed overnight, and people they have lost through this pandemic. So many business are sacrificing their own needs to help us all survive. We are uniting in ways we never have before. There is beauty happening through this struggle. Thank you to everyone who is making personal sacrifices for the greater picture. We are all part of one unit, individuals who are so used to doing most everything on our own. We are finally beginning to see how much we need each other. That alone is full of so much light.  

I have prayed so hard on how I can help make a difference. As the announcement was made to put on hold all gatherings, many events I had been asked to speak at this month and next have been postponed or cancelled. And we will be postponing all in person events for A Reason to Stand

 Next month we are going to hold a virtual A Reason to Stand conference. It will be free to the public and I have many presenters who were willing to join with me and share hope and healing for all of us who have felt broken, alone, and afraid. 

I will have more details soon, and I am excited to present to you many amazing fighters who have brought so much light into my life. 

As far as quarantined life is going...I am not hating having these kids to myself. We are enjoying some much needed slowing down and stillness. I love watching them team up, get creative, and spend more quality time together. We are so blessed.

Love you all. We are praying for everyone as we all embrace some hard changes, decide how we are going to show up, and turn to the one source of peace and love. He is always there and He loves each of us more than we know. 







 
Blog Design By: Sherbet Blossom Designs