November 30, 2018

Perfect Love Casteth out all Fear

I want to share with you a very personal experience. Not because I am proud of it . . . but because I am tired of the shame that I feel when I have experienced it, and hope that this visual can help you understand a little more about the voice in your own head, and the dark trap it can feel like.


This pregnancy has been a big struggle for me. I know I talked about it briefly a few posts back, but I want to get a little more real with you about some of the battles I have been fighting. The battle of “Am I enough?” has been a silent one for me for a long time. I have shared with all of you the times in the past when I have had to face that deamon, but I wanted to describe ways in which it still tries to show up now.

Being enough isn’t just a one-time battle, but a lifetime pursuit.

Every day we will face triggers—reminders of trauma from the past—that try to take us to our weakest points. Sometimes we will feel armed and ready for them, other times they will shake us to our core. Fear of inadequacy is not always a fight we will be prepared to win.



For the first time in months, this week I finally felt pretty good. I went out and bought maternity clothes—so I would stop trying to squeeze into my old pants and feel depressed when they didn’t fit. A few weeks back I had discovered I was low on iron and it was really messing with my emotions—and that was finally leveling out. Morning sickness had faded away, and I had stopped dry heaving every time I walked into a room. I had overcome a lot of the triggers that had come up during the early months of my pregnancy—I talked about a few posts back—I was feeling ready to embrace this changing body and just enjoy the miracle that was growing inside of me. Life was feeling pretty good.

I couldn’t wait for my doctor’s appointment—and hear that reassuring sound of the baby’s heart beat. Everything went smoothly, until my doctor stepped right onto the landmine that I had thought I had covered pretty well. She looked up from her chart and said, “My only concern is . . . you have gained a lot more weight then we want you to at this point.” I looked over at Scott with a get me out of here look on my face. I tried to hold back the tears as I listened to her remind me of the “healthy choices” I should be making.

By the time I got to my car I wasn’t really embarrassed and ashamed of my body any more—I was just pissed. Angry that a fear I had been working through for weeks now had voice again. I said a little prayer, “Heavenly Father, I see what he is trying to do. Get me all worked up about my changing body and lose my focus on the things that really matter. I know what I can do to help my body and my baby be healthy, please help me stay focused and not let this fear creep back in and make me lose track of the progress I have made in working through this truma and help me to be able to see pregnancy as the blessing that it is. A few extra pounds—I don’t care about that—I just want a healthy baby.”

The night went on. We put up all of our Christmas trees and had fun decorating the house. Morning came and I got all ready in one of my new maternity sweaters. Everything fit, and I actually felt pretty in my own skin. I walked into the kitchen where Kaleeya was sitting at the bar. She looked at me and in the sweetest little voice said, “Wow, Mom! You don’t even look pregnant in that shirt, you just look fat!” A meaningful complement I am sure, sunk deep into my heart . . . where it met the little voice that spoke even louder than it had for months, “You aren’t enough—Scott isn’t going to love you with that disgusting body.”

My soul sunk low—believing every fearful word in my head. I got the kids off to school and as I walked in my house and shut the door, I burst into tears. Every fear—all the dark memories of the past—surrounded me. I felt trapped. For a split second I was taken back to a moment when I was sitting in the bathtub almost 8 years ago.  Tytus was just a few weeks old. I had already started to feel the tension and knew that something wasn’t right. Emmett came walking into the bathroom. After weeks of wondering what was wrong whenever he was around, I had come to the conclusion he didn’t want me because of my just had a baby body. All I needed in that moment was for him to look over and tell me I was beautiful, but instead he looked into the mirror, checked himself out for a few minutes and then announced he was heading out.

The fear came back as strong as it had been that day, and in the few weeks that followed. Chaos is what followed. Murder. Truth of affairs. A life turned upside down. Somehow my little mind was just sure, it all started with a changing body—a body too fat to love.

And there it was again—this toxic feeling of wondering if I was going to be enough.

I changed my clothes, got in my car and drove to the only place I know where pure darkness cannot follow. As I sat in the chapel at the temple I opened up a set of scriptures to a random page. I looked down in the middle of the page and there was a scripture I know well.

“For perfect love casteth out all fear”. Tears filled my eyes as I was taken back to another memory—the day I had to write Emmett’s funeral. In all my anger, and fear, and shame, and guilt, and humiliation . . . that was the only scripture or quote I read that felt worthy of being on the bottom of the program. Everything else seemed like a sham—in that moment, those were the only words I could believe.



So again those words spoke to me. As I sat there I tried to picture perfect love. All I could see was the Savior. He is perfect love. He is the only one who can take it all away. The fear, the pain, the unknown, the uncomfortable, the guilt, the anger, all the ‘I am not enough’s, the grief—losing a loved one, or losing a relationship you cherish . . . He has the power to carry it away and bring peace. He has angels standing around us daily ready to go on errands, just for us. To take away the darkness we feel trapped in, and to help Him carry in the light.

With that truth, no amount of fear can take us down. We have to remember we only have one enemy, and his goal is to bring us fear—to remind us often that we are not enough—it is never from God.

We all have scars. Instead of shaming the parts of us we think make us not enough, I was reminded that—because of Him—I have the power to love me, which makes me even more capable of loving those around me. I have the gift to heal after divorce, abuse, infidelity and murder. I have a healthy body capable of creating life. I have a strong spirit and a trusting heart. Because of Him, I have the power that can help me find my truths, over and over again. I can move forward. I have the ability to let go of the pain of losing a relationship with a stepdaughter I adore. I have the chance to forgive the people who have hurt me in my life. Because of Him, I can be forgiven when I have forgotten who I am. I am capable of anything. I am worthy of fighting for.


Because of Him, we can overcome. Because of Him, we can feel light. Because of Him we can one day feel perfect love. And because of Him . . . perfect love casteth out all fear.  





Here we are 13 weeks. We will find out December 20th if it is a boy or girl. What do you think?

November 21, 2018

Steady brightness



In a week where we reflect upon all we are thankful for...my heart is full as I look over the miracles of grace that have come into our lives. For this man who I couldn’t have created more perfect for us. He is a unicorn, the rare kind that are hard to find. He is the most patient and steady person I have ever met. He makes me laugh about a hundred times a day...and I am pretty sure his main goal in life is to never make me cry. Scott is confident, yet tender with my opinions and emotions. He is respectful, of everyone he meets. He is loving and reassuring. He is WAY nice to look at...but even more amazing to be around. He helps me want to be a more patient parent, and a more loving friend. He always opens my door. He is a spiritual giant, and steady in his faith. He loves being a father, and has never once made me feel like this crew is a burden. Just like him, his whole family has taken taken us right in. Scott...I think the greatest gift you have given me is hope. For a long time I thought love was just a little glimmer of light on the good days, but with you it is a steady brightness. From the moment I met you, you have supported me on my journey, and have lifted me up and believed in me as a mother, speaker, writer, and now wife. Thanks for not only showing up in our lives...but showing up every day, even the hard days. I am thankful for you, and the life you have lived that brought you here. Just like these five, this baby coming in June is lucky to have a dad like you, one who can not only tell them...but show them what life is all about.

November 19, 2018

The Circle of Life

While looking through an old filing cabinet to try to locate some documents I came across a paper I had written back in my early college days. It is a very long paper, one I have not seen in years—probably haven’t even read since long before I was a mom. (One of these days I just might post the whole thing on here.)




It is titled, “Educational Autobiography”, and it was written for a class I took in the education department at Utah State in a phase when I thought I wanted to be a schoolteacher. I don’t know if it is the pregnancy hormones, or reading stories from the past—written by a former me, but I cried the entire length of the paper. Thinking about all the years I have lived—moments in my childhood that shaped me into who I am today—good and bad memories of growing up and figuring out how to find joy in the circle of life.

I wanted to share with you guys the first and last page of this autobiography:

My life has blessed me with many lessons. There were times, thought, that those blessings felt more like curses. Through trials and even heartache I was taught at a very young age to ask myself, “What role did you play?” Did you better the situation, or did you weaken yourself or someone else? Change is going to come, inevitably and unpredictably. As with all things change can feel like a blessing or a curse. It can be your fault, or it can be something that you did not choose. I have learned that taking responsibility for what you can and letting go of what is not yours to take is one of the most important things to find true happiness. I have finally learned the difference between a blessing and a curse. What is the difference? I look back now and see that it wasn’t so much the situation, as it was my attitude about the life I was living—finding a mission and a purpose for not only the decisions I make, but my role in the lives of others. It is finding strength in our weakest moments. Asking everyday: What part did I play?


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There are times in life’s journey when one feels like everything is lost. It is in these moments that we must take our lives and serve others. It is not about what others do for us that will help us realize who we are. There will be hard times and times to change. As long as this change is good, we must let it happen. A curse is a blessing, with just a different point of view. The choice is up to us; what will we be in the lives of others? I know that what once seemed like a curse, is now a lesson that I will never forget. I am grateful for all the curses and I am thankful that they were all just blessings in disguise. Joy can only come once you find happiness and happiness has to come from within yourself. So now I ask myself, “What role will I play?” The answer is, “Whatever I decide.” Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the now. It is in our weakest moments that we will find our greatest strengths.

It is funny. Some days I get myself believing that I was just so naïve, the girl I used to be. Happy, content, supportive—these were all “weak” things I did, before I knew better. Then this other message I battle tells me that NOW I am just broken, used up, and worthless. It is interesting how the adversary wants us to see all the moments of our lives as weak. It was enlightening to read an autobiography written by such a strong girl—who had no idea what was coming—and remember the strength, not naivety, she possessed. Today it really helped me find a different perspective on some of the dark thoughts I have been fighting now.

It has been a journey balancing out the fears of the past, and the strength that was always inside. The past few months, I have seen myself come to some of those crossroads again. Pregnancy has been a big trigger to some of those insecurities—bringing about fears that I was just naïve before. Memories of the last time I was pregnant, and the chaos that happened just a few months after his birth. Looking at my changing body in the mirror—and for the first time having fears and insecurities come up in gaining weight during pregnancy. New battles I have never had to fight in the past. This little voice in my head that stares at my growing belly and tells me that I was just stupid last time, and if I “get fat” again my world will crash in on me.

GET FAT  . . . that wasn’t even in my vocabulary the other times I have had a baby—now it is a fear I have had to fight every day.

They say that infidelity changes the way you view yourself and the world around you, nobody ever warned me that those fears would even try to use the greatest gift—of growing a human life—against me.


So here is to all the ladies, and men, who battle the daemons that tell you that you are not enough, that you are just a forgotten piece of the circle of life. Don’t stop fighting. It is funny, no matter how many people look us in the eyes—or words we read on screens—tell us of our worth . . . we cannot feel it until we believe it ourselves.


We have highs and lows—days of totally confidence, and others when we can’t remember who we are—that are all part of the circle of life.  So the real battle isn’t just finding our worth . . . it is coming to believe our truths.

So wherever you are on that wheel today, just know you aren’t alone. None of us have it all figured out. We ALL get to overcome fears, and find our strengths all over again. You aren’t doing anything wrong, if you sometimes find yourself back at the beginning. The circle of life will bring us back to the start a few times, but each time that wheel turns . . . we will gain a new perspective.


It is in our weakest moments that we—truly—will find our greatest strengths.

"Miranda Sings" by Kaleeya

Kaleeya discovered a new talent this weekend. She had us rolling on the floor.





Here is the original...


November 16, 2018

5 steps to a happier today

Have you ever found yourself waiting—wating for life to really start—waiting to lose weight to be happy? Waiting for a better job to help you feel fulfilled? Waiting for your soul mate to come and make you feel loved? Waiting to like yourself, waiting to give your whole heart to another?

If you have . . . you are like a large percentage of the world. I have to slow myself down daily to remember that happiness isn’t a destination—it is a state of mind.

Here are five ways I have found that work to be happy in the present.

1. Be genuine. Be real. Let yourself feel—even the emotions that are easier to avoid. Avoidance points to the future for happiness, where acknowledging the fear or feeling in the present reminds our soul that it is ok to feel safe where we are. A future happiness always seems to be a long ways off if we can’t feel—all emotions— in the present.

2. Look for the blessings. Some days are pretty dark, but from my experience there is still light in each one. Sometimes it is not too easy to find, but if we purposefully look for it—we will almost always find it. I knew a lady who was in the hospital for an extended period of time. When I went to visit her, she didn’t talk about the pain, or the new reality of her sickness—she talked about her visitors, the flowers sent, and the kind people who were taking care of her. She was looking for the blessings in a moment others might just see the curse.

3. Be present. Put down your damn phone. Put away your computer. Don’t keep yourself mindlessly “busy” all the time. See the people right in front of you. Serve them. Show up for them. Happiness is found when we share our light, and we cannot just find that in a virtual world . . . we have to feel it with our hands, and smell it with our noses, and taste it with our mouths—we have to do it in our real world. Being present changes the way we see people, and our role in their lives. We stop waiting for others to show up for us . . . and we just do it for them instead.

4. Remember your truths. Before we came to earth we were created with many gifts, and talents, and truths. Along the way, here on earth, sometimes our connection to these feel lost or forgotten. Spend some time reevaluating the voices in your head—which ones bring you light, and which ones make you feel dark. Give the dark ones to the Savior and magnify the truths that make you feel like you. Living those will bring you eternal joy.

5. Live what you believe. Spend some time with your thoughts. Do you have a passion that you think others will look down on? Do you have a goal you are too afraid to take the steps to create? What do you believe? Do you have a standard you know is true, but you can’t figure out how to live? Decide today what you believe—not what others have told you you should think, or you think others want you to believe. Be bold enough to live YOUR life. Joy comes in being vulnerable, and honest, and living what we believe.

I know that we all have some pretty dark stories, that try to hold us back, but I also believe that life is still worth living. I know we are all creatures worthy of love—the kind that lasts forever—the kind we can only learn from God. Each day takes effort. We can’t give up, even when it feels like the only option left.

Today I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone—take a bold step to find happiness where you are. You just might like the person you find who isn’t trapped in fear. Look at yourself in the mirror and say out loud five things you love about being you.


Happiness is remembering your worth no matter where you are.

October 5, 2018

Forgiveness and widowhood



Utah's Former Sergeant Derek Johnson’s wife Shante sharing her journey of widowhood and moving forward after loss and through grief. I love how she describes her forgiveness and how in a moment she was able to let it go. A great example for the rest of us who battle the anger and hate. 

September 28, 2018

Life after losing a child



Alesha Penland sharing hope after the loss of her son Lincoln. I love her perspective on forgiveness and moving forward. Thank you Alesha for being brave today and sharing your heart with me.

September 21, 2018

Fight Like Girls

My friend Bre from Fight like Girls. This fight of hers gets me every time, but also reminds me to keep going. Thanks for letting me interview you today beautiful lady.You are a light to so many woman, and a great reminder that we can do hard things.










Also, don't miss the announcement on A Reason to Stand. Another conference in the works (Nov 10th, and a some big changes going to announced that day!) Hope to see you there.

September 17, 2018

Orem, Utah "A Reason to Stand" November 10th, 2018

Hey guys. I have some fun news I wanted to share...


A Reason to Stand: Enough
November 10, 2018
1641 N. State Street 



Finally. A Reason to Stand. Just like last Fall, we are heading back to Utah!!! Orem, Utah to be exact. Come and see us! Can't wait to catch up with everyone. It has been too long.

This conference is going to be extra special, as we have a few really BIG announcements!!! So please don't miss it. We need all of our supporters there ready to celebrate with us. See you in a few months!



September 13, 2018

There is hope

I have received many messages from people asking me what my story is. So if you are new here—welcome—and let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Ashlee. I am a mother to five kids (13,13,11,9, and 7 years old). The Moments We Stand is the name of my blog that started as a healing journal for me after a month long murder trial didn’t lead me to the peace, I spend almost two years, imagining it would. 
After the birth of our fifth child my husband Emmett was shot two times—once in the heart and once in the forehead—by the husband of a secret mistresses I didn’t know he had. I spent the next two years waiting to take a breath as the murder trail got pushed back month after month. As the trial finally ended, I realized the magnitude of the chains I was wrapped in. I had become a victim—literally on the bench in a courtroom and by the fears in my own mind. Then one day God gave me a gift. He asked me to own my story. To write my fears and vulnerably share my insecurities with anyone who asked me how it felt. And that is the mission I have been on ever since. Seven years later I am a remarried, divorced, widow on a mission to help others know they are not alone, find their worth, and remember their truths. And guess what? I am happy. Widowhood, divorce, parenting, remarriage, and murder are not the things that make me who I am—they are just parts of my story. Who I am is a daughter of God who has learned so many lessons—on a path I didn’t choose—that was created just for me, to help me keep striving to become the best version of who God sent me here to be. I am enough. And so are you. Whatever your story, whatever dark paths you have walked—YOU are loved, valuable, unique, and YOU are enough. Heavenly Father makes no mistakes and I believe if we remember Christ on all the paths we walk—our story will be filled with His grace. 
We can be a light no matter how much darkness we have had to endure. You can find my story on my blog or books. Start at the beginning! I hope you feel the grace that has been part of your journey as you read about mine. Miracles, are real, they don’t always take away the pain, but they always bring the light! There is hope. 

 
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