September 18, 2017

Protect marriage . . . It matters

Today I want to talk about the subject of marriage. From the beginning of time marriage has been the foundation of humanity. It all started with Adam and Eve. Marriage gives structure to what otherwise could just be a civilization full of intimate relationships without any connections or ties to each other. It is so important to have healthy marriages to make up our societies . . . but why is it so hard?

First marriage, second marriage . . . fourth marriage—whatever your marriage looks like at this point . . . you can attest, that some moments are not easy. We are different—men and woman— and all marriages take work, compromise, faith, patience, and a whole lot of love, that—some days—is very hard to remember.

And if you haven’t yet hit bumps in the road . . . I am pretty sure you are the exception. And if you think you will never hit bumps in the road . . . I am pretty sure you are in denial.

So how do we win? If statistics tell us that our relationships are more than likely going to fail, and the world tells us that if it isn’t easy—then it can’t be love. How the hell are we going to survive?

We have a constant enemy on our back—orchestrating the demise of any and all healthy relationships. He sends temptations, addictions, anxiety, insecurities, unrealistic expectations, fear, betrayal, and lies that shake us to our core. And he has created so much chaos in our world that marriage is no longer considered important. Rings mean nothing. Vows, promises, covenants . . . are all foggy. He has taken what once was important and turned it into something that sometimes seems impossible—healthy lasting relationships, the protection of our families.

Some years ago. . . I always just assumed that people would protect my marriage—my husband, being the first I always thought would have my back. He didn’t. And that hurt. A lot of times I assumed a wedding ring was all the protection anyone would need—a symbol of the promises and vows they had made. I had no idea that even when wearing a ring—or seeing another person with a symbol of their marital status clearly on their finger—people would flirt, and flaunt, and purposefully entice someone that isn’t theirs. They do, and that hurts.

We are not perfect. That is one of the hardest parts about marriage—they are made up of two imperfect people with pasts. Everyone in this world is hurting in some way—whether they acknowledge it or not, or understand the significance the past has played in who they have become—every life encounters some form of disappointment . . . some easier to forget than others.  But nonetheless, we are all individuals with pain, triggers, fears, and trials sometimes bigger than we think we are strong. So how do keep our relationships strong, if—as individuals—we are not perfect?

It’s pretty simple really—most of it we learned in preschool. Be kind. Share. Obey the rules. Live our truths. Be honest, even when we know we will disappoint. Be virtuous, even when no one is looking. Acknowledge the roles we play. Care about more than just ourselves. Be forgiving, and ask for repentance. Fight for—instead of against—each other.

It was easy to see back then, when the world seemed so simple—not so easy to see now when we get so stuck in our own ways.

Our world is hurting: calamities, addictions, secrets, lies, broken homes, broken hearts, broken children, wives, and husbands; failed marriages, broken souls who don’t seem to care if they hurt anyone—broken spirits who sometimes delight in the pain of others. And fear runs it all.

So what role are we playing? Are we protecting the marriages of our society? Are we honoring ourselves and the people around us by the way behave in public, or in the quiet of our own homes. Are we showing our children the sanctity that marriage is supposed to be? Are we honest in our vows, even when no one else is watching?

Our actions do matter, and so do our marriages. So protect them. If that cute guy has a ring . . . find another one, there are literally millions. Honor yourself and his family by saying no. Please. If you have promised yourself to someone—be true. Don’t do life half way. Be real, and don’t forget their faces in the choices that you make. Even when the world tells you “your actions won’t impact anyone else” . . . don’t buy it. Everything you do makes a difference—for bad or good.

We need homes that are strong. We need marriages that last, and we need a society that fights—fights for the unions that make up our people. Fights for strong families, strong children, and strong homes. Fights for their own dignity—protecting not just themselves, but the others in their world.

The fidelity of our society matters; the integrity of our people creates our nations. And it starts with us. Stand tall as a noble son or daughter of God. Your choices to protect cannot only save lives . . . it can change our world.

If you have secret relationships that are clouding your view of the person you always thought you would be, it is not too late. Life isn’t over until it is. Make today count. You are worth fighting for. That dark fog, that has made you think you aren’t worthy of grace . . . of real love . . . of a strong marriage. It is the lie. You don’t have to live in the fog. Change the story—for the families, for the spouses . . . and for yourself. You are enough.

Protect marriage. It matters.


August 30, 2017

Feels a lot like fear

As a fellow widow the author C.S. Lewis once said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”

Though there are so many of us who have had to grieve the loss of a loved one, I don’t think many would say they have mastered such a skill.

It’s funny how when you go through something hard everyone seems to dub you as the expert in that subject. And there comes a few split seconds that you actually start to believe that you have it all under control—until you don’t . . . and reality slaps your insignificance back into your face.

I came into this summer prepared that we could possibly lose a part of our family. Emmett’s dad had been battling cancer for a while—not long after his only child was murdered it showed up. More recently doctors had begun to warn us that time was getting limited.

I remember walking into his house—for the millionth time—the day before he died. I could feel it in the air. I had spent hours with him that week, but this time had to be quick as we were driving out of town to go to my grandpas 90th birthday party in Utah.

I choked up. Just like the days before he could sense in me something that was similar to fear. He told me not to be scared. He told me that he would see me again—and for a man who had never known religion, I smiled to know he was thinking of a life after this one. He asked to see Teage, and as I watched his oldest grandson lay by his side I knew in my heart it would be the last time we would see him.

We got the call early the next morning. Papi was gone.

I was expecting him to go, but what I was not expecting was the wave of grief that would surround me all summer long. Grief does feel a lot like fear, but the hardest part about grief is it doesn’t just help you mourn the loss of that moment—it takes you back to every time you have lost before.

So I did what I do best—I marched. I planned a funeral again. I spoke and sang with my girls. And then I spent the next four weeks cleaning out their house.

And that is where my fear really took over. Every day cleaning out the memories of three people I had never planned on losing. Ten years ago—8 months pregnant with Teage—we planned the funeral of Danise, Papi’s wife, after cancer took her suddenly. I didn’t know if Papi would ever smile again after she was gone. They were soul mates those two.

But then he did. And he tried so hard to be the dad and grandpa we all needed. He welled with pride in everything Emmett did—especially our family.

And then he and I lost Emmett. I didn’t know how to tell him, after watching him be alone after all those years. It was rough. That moment fractured many parts of all the relationships I thought were so stable. But unlike so many, he never disappeared. I know it wasn’t easy coming to our house after that, but he did. He usually wore his sunglasses, and I could always see a tear beneath the dark lenses—but he was there. Football games, birthday parties, Christmas—and he never once complained of anything he had lost. He took in Jordyn and Shawn and celebrated them as part of his family. He never distinguished his biological “family” from the rest of us.

Most of the time he came alone—surrounded by my family, and Shawn’s—but he always smiled through it all. 

He even came and sat behind me almost every day at the murder trial. Not because he wanted to be there . . . but because he didn’t want me to be alone. (I will write another post soon about the notes we found that Papi had taken during the trial).

So as I spent most of the summer at their house I had a lot of time to think, to pray, to ponder . . . and many days to fight a feeling that felt a lot like fear. Fear of losing. Fear of loving. Fear of letting go. Fear of not knowing what tomorrow is going to look like.  All the fear I thought I had overcome over the last six years—many days—came flooding around me.

Those split seconds I had spent—just months before—hoping I was some sort of an expert by now, were replaced by many days leaving me wondering if I would ever know anything ever again. I had no desire to blog. I felt pretty unworthy to share anything about finding strength or how to overcome, because frankly I didn’t feel like I was.

And then the coolest thing happened. I was totally and utterly rejected. 

Late one night I received an email from a woman—I had a contract with to go speak next Spring—informing me that we would have to cancel my trip . . . due to my religion. They didn’t want a Mormon girl to come talk about Christ. At first I became defensive. Christ? Isn’t mine the same one that all the other Christian’s believe in? What would make me less worthy to share what His grace has done for me? I was confused, embarrassed, and dumb founded . . . but mainly I was hurt.

That night I cried like a baby girl. I felt alone. I was rejected and left wondering—for the millionth time—if I was enough. The darkness of the grief from the summer came to a head, and a feeling—that felt a lot like fear—took over every ounce of me.

I spent the night praying for peace from what seemed—in the moment—to be another life rejection. Evidence—if we want to go back to my last post—of what I feared I was. A loser? Not worthy? Defiantly not enough.

The next morning I walked out to Tytus sitting on the couch, awake way to early for how late we had stayed up the night before. I am pretty sure he could tell I was a hot mess. I sat down by him and he put his head on me, patted my leg and said, “Jesus made me a good one. ” Thinking he was talking about his Pokemon, the dog, or some other cool thing I asked on, “A good what buddy?” He replied, “A good mom, best I have seen.” I got a little chocked up, “Oh yeah . . . what about me this summer makes you glad I am your mom? I feel like I have hardly even seen you guys as you have spent most of it in Papi’s pool while I cleaned out his house with Roxann. I have been so busy we have only done like two things on our entire summer list. So what makes you think you know I am a good one?” He replied, “I know because . . . everything you do is for us. And Jesus.”

And there it was. I talk a lot about that little glimmer of light—some of us call it grace—when Christ sends us that perfect little moment to help us remember our truths—we can see so clearly. Just because I had spent a lot of the summer hurting, and people thousands of miles away had decided I was not what they were looking for . . . I had done a lot for Him. I was enough for the ones it really counted for.

Never losing anyone—and living a “perfect” plan is not how Christ sends us that love. Going hundreds of miles away to share my heart to a room full of strangers is not where I will find it. Because—just like Christ—we are going to have our own Garden of Gethsemane moments; we are going to have to bear our own crosses—moment after moment.  We are going to have to learn to stand . . . again and again and again.

Some summers are going to be filled with sunscreen and sand. Others are going to be filled with hard work and some feelings that feel a lot like fear. I miss Papi. I know without a doubt he is with his wife and his son and there is so much more to death then we all know.

But what I do know is that no matter what our religion—even those like Papi who never will have one—Jesus loves us all. He doesn’t see us in religion, skin color, or even how we handle those feelings that feel a lot like fear. And I don’t either.

So though this summer was very rarely days that I had planned, I am grateful for the light that showed me through the hard stuff again.

If you are standing at one of those crossroads wondering—for the millionth time—as we all will do, if you are enough . . . I hope today you let that little glimmer of light remind you that you always were.

No broken contract, no imperfect day, no stranger will ever be able to tear us down if we keep searching for our worth in the places that count.

The world is just going to get darker. Keep your head up. Shine like you don’t know how dark it really is. And on those days that feel very similar to fear—don’t lose your faith. Not in yourself, or God, or the world. And especially not in His plan. He has your back . . . just be prepared of how unprepared you might be. “Life is a trip” Papi used to say. And it’s true. Mike. Thanks for being one of my dads. I am grateful for the million times I got to see you then, and the million times I will get to see you again.

Love you the most Big Papi. I know you know now what you only hoped for before. You were enough. He loves you . . . and so do we.



As promised to many who loved Mike and didn't get to the funeral. Here is the audio of my talk and his sisters song, and all the others who shared. Also... a video of the girls song! Thank you Bergen for recording these. I never would have thought to, but they have meant a lot today. 





A few thoughts I wanted to share weeks ago, but didn't post...

August 25, 2017

A Reason to Stand: Fighting for me

I have a treat for you...


Provo, Utah
Be More Creative Studios
October 21st, 2017
1pm-6pm


June 10, 2017

Evidence

Some days it feels like we are doomed to fail—constantly at battle with the powerful personal voices in our head—one reminding us of our worthlessness . . . and one gently whispering truth.

The louder one—most of the time—seems to overpower the soft. The tenderness, we begin to perceive as weakness. So we walk around—sometimes for decades—believing we will fail. We start to live as if those bold lies in our mind are really who we are. The soft voice—that once told us our truths—feels distant and far away. The carefree life of long ago . . . faded. The child, who once didn’t care what anyone thought . . . is replaced by a lonely soul, seeking for proof.

Every day we search frantically for evidence—of our worth—but most days we fail. Because our expectations of what “love” and “respect” and “success” should be are never met. Even when we achieve a goal, we want more. Our desire for perfection in ourselves is projected onto everyone who crosses our path. Their mistakes become evidence of their worthlessness—their tenderness . . . weak. Even when someone comes and does everything right, we use it as evidence that they must be fake or too good to be true, or stupid for spending time with a person who is so fractured. 

So we keep searching for evidence, all the while never finding it. But we want it. Evidence that we are loveable just the way we are. Evidence that someone cares. Evidence of a higher power—an eternal love that we know we are promised, but can’t seem to find. We search for evidence of a world who will see us—a relationship that will cure our pain, a friend to coax us along . . . to tell us the words that will help us to keep moving forward—a soul mate that we can live life for. Someone who helps us remember who we are . . . because we have seen all the evidence, and there is no way we are going to possibly be able to find it on our own. 

We use “signs” as evidence that the planets are aligning despite our imperfections—and again with proof that no one will ever truly care about us. We are a walking contradiction. We use other people’s mean words as evidence that we shouldn’t let anyone in—proof to justify our own cruelty. We use another’s hate as evidence that there is no one who we can trust. 

The voice grows louder, and soon it is all we can hear. Every word spoken around us, and every action taken by another person becomes evidence of how stupid, fat, ugly, dumb, lazy, selfish, alone, and pathetic we really are. But we don’t allow ourselves to see it that way. Instead we lash out with proof that we have been wronged—never taking accountability for our actions, words, or fears. Always blaming another person for not being enough. 

So we try to hide all the things we have learned to hate about our perceived self. Making us live a fake life, one where we can hardly remember our truths. We hope we can accomplish some of our goals before anyone figures out the “truth” of our worthlessness, and realizes that we only achieved them by accident . . . mere coincidence. We are too broken to let anyone in, but too prideful to admit we are hurting. So we yell. We hide. We push people away. Not because we want to be alone . . . but because we truly believe we are not worthy—of success, of happiness, of love. So it becomes easier to just be . . . because at least all we have to battle is the voices. With no one close to us, we assume we won’t have as many chances of hearing or seeing evidence of the fears we already assume we are—worthless. 

We begin to hate other people for not showing us how to find what we thought they could—ourselves. We fight for more time, more affection, more love . . . but we don’t know how to give it. We want someone to just love us the way we are, but we don’t even know how to love the person we see staring back at us in the mirror. We blame them for their lack of love . . . because we wished we could find it inside. We give them the job of fixing our fears without any way of ever accomplishing it. 

We hear people talk of grace . . . and wish it could apply to us too. But that voice chimes in and says, “Oh no . . . not you. Grace is only for those perfect people you see at church, His love is for people who have earned it. Jesus has given up on you. You have made too many mistakes. You have gone too far. I need you to remember: you are not enough.”

So we hang our head down and wait for the day we can become less broken and more perfect . . . so God will remember us. And every time we feel forgotten by Him, we hold in our hands more evidence of our worthlessness.

Evidence. I want you to ask yourself this one question: What am I still waiting for?
Our search for evidence will drive us. It will send us down dark windy roads seeking proof, fearing truth. It drives us to sit in courtrooms for months to hear the truths we hope will heal our broken hearts. It drives marriages, and divorces, affairs and abuse. It drives anger and fear. It drives us crazy. 

So if you are one of those souls—I have been many times—seeking for someone or something to come and complete you . . . I need you for this moment to stop. That battle in your mind between dark and light, truth and lies . . . causing chaos and contention, and fear—is a lot simpler than we think. 

There are no grey voices. They are either dark or light. The ones that cause chaos are not divine. The ones that bring peace and love and acceptance of yourself and other people . . . those are the still small voices from God. 

Ask Him for the truth. The truth is: You are enough. You are worthy. You are smart. You are real. You can succeed at love, at life, and happiness. And you are worthy of it. You are kind, and deep down you have a warrior spirit that wants to help you remember those truths you were born to live. The battle of your thoughts is just one of the many fights you are going to face . . . but you will not do them alone. He didn’t forget you . . . and He never will.


Keep winning. Live life like it was all on purpose . . . because either way you are stuck here, might as well make the most of every moment. Let other people in—they need you . . . and quite frankly, you need them. It is ok to cry. It is ok to laugh—even if you know what it is like to lose. You deserve joy. It will come in little flickers of moments, sometimes through the pain. Choose the right, even when it feels impossible. Choose the light—He is the only way. He is the only One who can teach your heart to remember . . . YOU ARE ENOUGH. 





(My presentation at A Reason to Stand Nampa, Idaho June 3rd, 2017)
If you get to the end and wish you could see it here is the: Twins song




June 9, 2017

Standing Beautiful


I have been working on a project inspired by having four daughters who are coming into teenage years. I am calling it the Standing Beautiful project. After spending years on finding and creating tools on how to find inner beauty, I have felt the need to give them tools to do the same on the outside.

So here is a little video to explain how I am working on balancing the beauty world for me and my daughters. Why we have to align our inner and outer beauty to really live our truths. My search for helping me and other woman find tools that help us stand more beautiful...with confidence and pride in ourselves and the world around us.

I always thought to help another person heal it would be just by teaching them how to find their truths and overcome trauma . . . but what I have come to learn was that they have to feel balanced in beauty, both emotionally, spiritually . . . but also physically.

So what makes you feel beautiful? Not what does the world tell you, or what do you think you should make you feel beautiful . . . what helps you feel beautiful? I hope we can all bounce modest, beautiful, fun, and soul building ideas off each other. And you will join me and my girls during this project to spread the true kind of beauty. The kind that is already in you . . . just needs a few highlights and routines to help you believe it. And then live it.

For more on my Standing Beautiful project please visit:
Standing Beautiful



June 8, 2017

Fighting for Me

Music from last Saturday's A Reason to Stand. Bostyn and Bailey put together something special with one of my favorite songs from Sia. And the beautiful Ashley Hess came back with her original song written about our journey, "The Moment You Stand".

June 2, 2017

This is real life . . . how one woman battled Postpartum Depression


I sat there looking at the gun, it was blurry because of how hard I was crying.  I loved my children and my husband more than anything in the whole world.  I would die for them. And that's why I would be brave enough to do this—because they were better off without me—their lives would be so much better if I were gone.

(Guest Post)


Growing up the only thing I ever really wanted to be was a mother.  I could not wait for the day to have my own children. It could not come soon enough.  My husband and I were married in 2005 and I gave birth to my first child in 2007.  It was magical and everything I ever dreamed it would be. My second child was born in 2009 and our love and hearts just grew and grew!  In 2011 I suffered a horrible miscarriage at 13 weeks pregnant. It was gut wrenching and took awhile to heal from. But eventually we found our faith and marriage had only strengthened through that trial.

In 2013 I gave birth to our 3rd child.  The labor and delivery went smooth, I was able to give birth without an epidural for the first time and it was a very amazing birth! I snuggled that sweet baby boy all night and felt so happy and blessed.  Less than 24 hours after giving birth I was headed home with our newest baby.  I remember on the car ride home feeling a huge amount of dread.  I wasn't ready to leave the hospital yet. I felt like a dark cloud was starting to form over my head.
The next 5 months are honestly a complete blur.  I know that my baby only slept in 45 minute increments, wouldn't take a bottle, and was extremely colicky.  He usually cried from 9 pm to 3 am every single night. I was averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night which I think intensified my depression.  I could feel that dark cloud over my head getting darker and heavier as the days went on.  Towards my baby's first birthday my post partum depression was so bad I was barely functioning. I hardly ever got dressed or put makeup on which is so not like me.  I didn't clean, I rarely left my house. I'm usually a fairly patient person but I had zero patience and would explode over the smallest things. I yelled at my children, I yelled at my husband. I was horrible. I questioned my faith, whether God even existed at all. It was like I was in a deep dark tunnel being sucked further and further away from any light. I couldn't think clearly, I was forgetful, my joints ached, my head always hurt, and my chest felt heavy.  Every morning I had to force myself out of bed. The darkness slowly but completely took over. I just went numb and felt no emotion at all.
I stopped praying. I no longer felt the spirit—which I've since learned is very common with severe depression. I started fantasizing about dying. Sometimes I'd be driving down the road and look at a tree and wonder what it would be like to speed up and hit it as hard as I could.  I'd stand in front of my medicine cabinet and take note of all the pills I could take. When my baby would wake up in the night I'd go in his room and ask him why he was ruining my life.  That is something I will never ever forgive myself for.  I'm so thankful that he was too young to understand and will not remember me when I wasn't myself. As the days passed I literally just got worse and worse. It got so bad I felt there was no hope. My life would never be good again. I was miserable. The one thing I always wanted and found so much joy in, being a mother, I was horrible at. I felt zero hope. I couldn't see anything but pain and darkness.

The day I almost took my own life is a day I will never forget. I woke up to the cloud of darkness and felt like it was consuming me, like I couldn't breathe. I hated myself—and everything I had become. I told my husband I was going for a drive. I found myself parked down a dirt road at the edge of the forest. I just stared blankly at the sky. Then I started sobbing like I've never sobbed before. I then looked down and saw it.... my husband had accidentally left his gun in my car in the middle compartment. I suddenly felt hope. This must be meant to be. My kids and my husband could finally be free of me and be happy. I sat there looking at the gun, it was blurry because of how hard I was crying.  I loved my children and my husband more than anything in the whole world.  I would die for them. And that's why I would be brave enough to do this, because they were better off without me. Their lives would be so much better if I were gone. It would be my one last act of love.

I sat contemplating if I should text my husband and tell him how much I loved him and our children. I decided I should probably get out of my car and walk into the forest so that my husband would still be able to use our vehicle. I went to reach for the gun to start my walk in the woods and an image of my oldest child came into my mind with a look of pure devastation on his face. It caught me off guard because up until that moment I thought I was doing this to make them happy, to have a better life. The image wouldn't leave my mind. And then that still small voice that I hadn't heard in a very long time whispered to me that this would devastate my children. I was promised that if I would turn around and go home things would get better. For the first time in almost a year I felt the tiniest glimmer of hope. Then I felt God's love for me. I thought He had abandoned me, didn't love me. But suddenly I felt like I was being wrapped in a warm hug. He was there. Exactly when I needed Him to be. He saved me.

I drove home, walked inside and nonchalantly told my husband he had left his gun in my car. He immediately got it and put it in his gun safe. (He is huge on gun safety and our guns are always locked up in a safe. We take gun safety very serious). I wasn't ready to tell him yet what had happened.  I felt ashamed. I hugged my children and held back tears.

A few days later I told my husband a little bit about what had happened. I didn't go into details, but I did tell him that I was incredibly depressed, that I saw his gun and was tempted. He made me go to the doctor the next morning. I told her how I was feeling, all my symptoms, and my doctor immediately diagnosed me with severe post partum depression. I was shocked. I knew very little about PPD. Wasn't that the thing horrible people got that made them want to hurt their babies? I never wanted to hurt my baby. My doctor explained PPD to me and how it was a chemical imbalance in my brain. I couldn't just want to be happy, snap my fingers and suddenly be happy. She prescribed me an anti-depressant and suggested I start exercising and make sure I go outside everyday to get some vitamin D. I left that appointment feeling hope. I was glad to have a diagnosis and a plan.

It took almost 3 weeks for my antidepressant to kick in but one day I woke up and that dark cloud over my head seemed just a little lighter and not so heavy. I was still in a dark tunnel but I could see just a tiny bit of light at the end of that dark tunnel. I started exercising; I made myself get dressed every single day. Very slowly I could feel the old me coming back. Some days were harder than others, I was still depressed but I no longer fantasized about dying.

I can literally remember the moment my depression completely lifted. I woke up and instantly felt lighter. My joints didn't hurt; I didn't feel that dark heavy cloud over me. The sun looked brighter, I felt hope, peace, and God's love for me.

It took me a while to start praying again. I felt guilt for having almost taken my life. My precious life that God had given me and my Savior had died for. But eventually I did start praying again. I had some incredible spiritual experiences. I know God doesn't fault me for that day I almost died. I was truly sick. I didn’t almost take my life, Post Partum Depression almost took it. I was also shown how God never left me. When you are severely depressed sometimes you just can't feel the spirit or see God's hand in things. Now I can look back and see him literally taking my hand and pulling me out of bed. He was there. He was always there. And in the moment when I needed him most . . . He didn’t leave me.

I don't know exactly why I developed PPD. I've researched it. I know some of it has to do with hormonal changes in your body, some of it is a chemical imbalance in your brain, some of it is hereditary. But maybe God chose this trial for me. Why? Because he knew I'd get through it and come out stronger mentally, physically, and spiritually. He saw the person I could be. He knew I needed that trial to be the mother, wife, and person I am today. My third child was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder right before his 3rd birthday. What I went through made me a fighter. And I have to fight for him every single day.  I'm not sure I could do that without the perspective I have now.

Going through something like that changes you. I am more patient now. I don't take life and little moments for granted. I make sure I hug my children every single day. I feel deeper. I have empathy for others like I never had before. Trials will do that to you.

Everyone has a story—a Gethsemane that they have to walk through. PPD was mine. That woman that doesn't come to church anymore.... maybe she is struggling with depression and can't find the strength to leave her house. That woman in the store in her pajamas..... maybe she can't see her worth.

Here's what I've learned through my journey with post partum depression.
-If you are depressed, it doesn't mean you are weak.
-It's not your fault.
-You can't MAKE yourself be happy if you have a form of depression.
-You are not a bad person.
-It may feel like God has left you but He's there. He's right there beside you. He sends His angels to watch over you and protect you.
-There is one person who understands your pain completely. The Savior. Reach out to him. If you don't feel like praying, that's when you need it most.
-There is purpose in all things.
-I am strong.
-I'm a fighter.

Today as I sit here at my computer, I'm honestly happy. I actually gave birth to my fourth boy 4 months ago! It's been wonderful and so far I've been blessed to not have any signs or symptoms of PPD.  I do have to be extra vigilant about my mental health. I wake up every morning and open all my curtains and let that beautiful sunshine in. I get dressed and do my makeup every single day. I count my blessings. I take an anti-depressant. I give myself a lot of grace. I talk to God a lot. Sometimes on my knees, sometimes while I'm driving in the car. I've learned He always listens. I try to move my body every day. I set healthy boundaries for myself. I say no when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

I LOVE being a mother. It is my greatest joy in life. They saved my life—over and over they save me. I love them with my whole heart and I feel like I am now the mother they need me to be. Everyday is a gift.

To my sweet, amazing husband- thank you for never leaving my side, even during my darkest moments. Thank you for loving me and encouraging me every single day. I can't wait to grow old with you and spend eternity with you. You are truly my everything and I love you.

There is one thing I'm not sure I will ever forgive myself for and that is the way I treated my husband and children during my depression.  I have come to terms with everything but that. When you are severely depressed you do and say things the "normal" you never would.

Writing this and sharing every detail is terrifying. I know it will come with a lot of judgment. But that's okay. If I can help one person then it is all worth it. PPD has a stigma attached to it. My hope is that it starts becoming a conversation. I think it needs to be talked about by your nurse before you leave the hospital with that precious baby. Maybe if I had known the signs and symptoms of PPD I would've gotten help sooner.

So to all you who have been there too . . . You aren’t alone. We are all fighting together.


If you would like to learn more about April and her journey you can visit her blog www.aprilrises.com



A note from The Moments We Stand:

This guest post really touched my heart. After losing a dear friend many years ago to suicide after a long battle with PPD, I know the fight is real. Thank you April for sharing your journey and being real. PPD is one of those war zones that no one would ever choose, but it is clear you fought it with grace and are now sharing it with a love for others who are battling it now. Thank you.






To all you fighters, please know you aren't alone. Every few months we gather together in person and share our hearts. You will have a place here. No matter your religion, or trials, we understand that life can be hard, especially when we are thrown a fight we had never planned. So if you get a chance, please come!

For more information visit
A Reason to Stand

 
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