May 5, 2016

Mother's Day Giveaway


***GIVEAWAY***
It's May 5th...Cinco de Mayo!!! Let's party. 

Actually for reals this is for Mothers Day and I will announce all the winners on Sunday!! 

I am giving away some things today!!

I am planning two conferences right now. One on June 4th in Lexington, South Carolina and one on October 22nd in St. George, Utah.

Winners will be chosen from here,  Facebook,  and Instagram

What are you going to win? A lunch date with me and the other winners before the conference, a ticket, and a copy of my books!

All you have to do is help me spread the word!! Email or text a friend about this giveaway, and then write "South Carolina" or "St.George" in the comments so I know where you will be joining us! And tell me if you emailed or text a friend. (No limit on entries!)

Feel free to win this for a wonderful woman or mothers in your life!! Or get it for yourself! Either way I am excited to meet all of you and see you soon!

To reserve your seat visit A Reason to Stand

May 4, 2016

A letter to the man who told my parents I wasn't worth keeping

I am loving this week of powerhouse stories of amazing women and moms to celebrate Mother's Day!

(To protect the doctor this letter was written to, the name has been changed...)


Dear Dr. Johnson,

My name is Abby and I am the daughter of the distraught parents who came to you twenty some years ago. My mom was carrying a baby who might have had some health issues.You advised them to have an abortion because the baby was going to have so many problems.

That baby was me.


Before you read any further, I just want you to know I am writing you to tell you that I have no animosity towards you. I can not imagine what it is like to have to tell parents about their sick baby that is soon to be born. I bet it is very upsetting to do so. 

While I had many strugglesthat you projected I wouldI have lead a full life. I am a very positive, determined woman. In high school, I was very involved and even won Homecoming and Prom royalty junior and senior year. I had lots of amazing friends. 

I feel very fortunate. Currently I am enrolled at the University of Montana pursuing a degree in education. I love working with kids and can not wait to make a difference in this world.

Last semester I earned a 3.57 GPA. I was pretty excited! I also have a job at a local daycare in town. I love working there! I have had many blessings that I am thankful for. My biggest support system is my family; my parents and my siblings.They have been there since day one and have never given up on me. 

I am so thankful for a mom who had faith not only in herself to raise an imperfect child . . . but could still see the good in me.

I am a big believer in God and felt that He wanted me to write you to and tell you that I have forgiven you. I am so grateful for the doctors that have helped through the years and think you guys do amazing work. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

I just needed to let you know that I have forgiven you! 
-Abby






Related articles: Dear Trauma


If I could tell me


Reflecting on my dream from the other night and what I would tell that broken girl.



Read more here in the original post.

May 3, 2016

But I deserve butterflies

Well this week I planned on using all the wonderful powerhouse mom stories I have received to celebrate mothers day. But when this came to me today I had to share it. I am humbled by all the amazing stories that have been shared and feel the strength from each of you who have been willing to be a light in this dark world. Keep shining. And Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing woman who make a difference in the lives of children all over the world. 
Ashlee



But I deserve butterflies 
by: an anonymous husband

It started out how these things always do. At first it really was just a coincidence that we just kept running into each other. And like the storybooks say . . . she gave me an excitement each time my eye caught hers. Butterflies. 

Soon I started to get dressed for her. My workouts at the gym began to be motivated by the next time I would see her. I looked for her. I purposefully went out of my way to make sure we would just happen to run into each other—but I always acted surprised. 

I knew it was wrong—but I didn’t want it to stop. It really was just innocent .  . . at first.

Temptation was on my doorstep . . . but all I could see was the excitement I felt. All I could feel was the butterflies. Selfishness centered me around myself. I knew what I wanted and nothing was going to stop me until I got it. 

I have four kids—sweet wonderful kids. I am not always the best dad, but I try. But it even began to be hard spending time with them. My wife and I were struggling. Who isn’t right? I had always loved her, but started to even question that. We always had some huge struggle we were fighting about, and I began to dread going home. 

So it felt natural to look around. Each day it went a little further, and this girl made it easy. Our conversations became longer, and the happenstance running into each other began to be planned. We had so much in common, especially in our failing marriages. 

The first time she text me my heart skipped a beat. Butterflies. 

I felt new when I saw her, like I was young again. She validated everything my wife had grown to ignore. She encouraged me. It felt like she saw the real me—someone I had long forgotten. 

Soon we decided we would meet up somewhere more private. It was getting hard really getting to know each other with so many other people around. That morning she text me the Hotel name and the room number. I couldn’t focus on anything else. 

My wife text me at lunch, angry that I had forgotten to give our son his lunch money when I dropped them off at the school. Her text was the last validation I needed to get in my car and head to the hotel. I was done being alone in my marriage. I was done being yelled at and treated badly. I deserved to be loved—and that night I would be. 

I felt no remorse as I text her back my excuse of why I would be home late. She would have no clue. I usually got home way later than planned. But tonight I was finally going to do something for me. Not for my office, or my kids, or my baseball buddies, not for my ungrateful wife. Finally I didn’t have to ask her permission. I was just going to do what I wanted to do and what felt good for me. 

My car felt cold as I buckled up my seatbelt. I looked out all the windows to make sure no one was watching. I looked in the back seat. My son’s lunch money sat alone on the cushion. See I was a good dad. I did give him the money, he just forgot . . . she just wanted something to be angry with me about, because that is what she does. She doesn’t care about me or need me. She doesn’t even care about my happiness. I am worthless to her. I deserve to have butterflies and someone who wants me around. 

That surge of anger fueled my drive. I got to the hotel and parked around the back. I looked around again as I retrieved my workout bag out of the trunk. I was alone in the parking lot; no one to suspect anything. 

As I walked in the hotel I felt proud that I was finally free. I didn’t have to feel guilty either, because I deserved this. 

The elevator seemed to take forever as I stared up at the numbers on the wall. Soon it opened and I stepped inside. The minute the door shut I finally felt safe that no one I knew would see me and stop me from my freedom. 

Then it happened. 

A new song came on. One I knew too well. “Butterfly kisses”. I had sung it many times to my daughter when she couldn’t sleep in the night. She had even asked me, just a year ago, if I would dance with herto itat her wedding some day. To which I had promised I would. 

Each verse that played was a memory. Every floor I passed—every second—as the elevator took me up higher . . . my heart sunk lower. 

Then the song started singing about the little girl’s wedding day. I closed my eyes as tears fell down my cheeks. I pictured my own little girl walking arm-in-arm with me towards her dream man. 

Who would I want that man to be? Like me? Lost and alone? Broken and searching for someone else to love him? Just ten years later standing in an elevator about to destroy his family?

I fell to the ground as I pictured someone hurting my little girl. And that is when I saw her—my bride. On our wedding day. I could see her perfect curls falling in her eyes. I could see—like it was yesterday—that look she had when she couldn’t take them off me. I could see our smiles and feel our hands held so tight as we promised to be true forever. 

The elevator door opened. 

I pried myself off the ground and stood up. A sign pointed the way for our room. The arrow seemed to jump out, begging me to follow. Time stopped. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion. For that moment I could see so clearly. Every choice I was making, every moment I had spent that got me here . . . and every moment that would inevitably follow. 

This was it. That moment. Would I follow the arrow to those butterflies I thought I deserved? Would I choose me? Or would I be the man I would want my daughter to walk down the isle to? Because if I was him . . . then my wife was her. 

I was frozen. 

Soon the elevator door began to close. I reached out my hand to stop it and like someone was in there with me I could hear a shout, “Let it close”. 

The door closed. All the strength I had, seemed to be sucked out of me as I silently battled. 

But I won. 

I didn’t go into that hotel room that night. Instead I pushed a button that took me back down to my car. I buckled my seatbelt and I cried the whole way home. 

To say it was an easy road—walking into a house full of beauty I didn’t feel worthy of—would be a lie. It took a long time to find myself again. The battle didn’t end in that elevator that night, but it was the moment when I took my stand. 

Men—if we want them to find a man worthy of them . . . we have to show them what they deserve. We have to love their mothers. Even when it is hard. We have to take care of them, and cherish them. We have to understand their struggles, not for ourselves . . . but for them. 

To my future son in law, 
Treat her like the queen she deserves to be. Fight. It won’t always come as natural as the day you fell in love, but with a lot patience and faith and a little bit of sacrifice, you can be the man of her dreams. You just have to choose it over and over again. 

Woman. Wives. Mothers. We might not always see you, we might get kind of dumb sometimes or blinded. But please don’t give up on us. 

When I took a stand in that elevator that night I made a promise that I would overcome. And I will stand—broken, and imperfect, and sometimes very stupid—but I will not fall.

Sunday is Mother’s Day, almost one year exactly from the moment I chose the mother of my children on a night when I almost forgot her. And I pray every day that I can be the man she always wanted—for the rest of her life. I will fight to give her the butterflies she deserves.

Not only for her . . . but for my daughter. 

For the first time in my life I can see that love is watching someone else receive all I have. The real butterflies worth fighting for—the ones we all deserveare the ones we give. 





Related articles: Stand Tall you aren't alone


May 2, 2016

Lexington South Carolina A Reason to Stand

Lexington, South Carolina . . . One month and I get to come see you!! Please come give me a hug if you are close by! And please help me spread the word. I need all the help I can get to share this good news. 

 For all the info and to reserve your seats please visit www.areasontostand.com

But still I stay

Some would say I am weak; others might look at me and say I am strong. Truth is—most days I am both. If anyone knew it was me writing this post, they would say there is no way it was true. Oh how I wish it were not.

To protect many things, I want to share my story anonymously but I hope it will give you hope and the knowledge that you are not alone! For some of us suffer silent, because that is where God asked us to be.

I live in Utah with my husband and beautiful children. From the outside you would think we were the perfect family. 

I remember back sitting in church Sunday after Sunday—hearing others speaking about their trials and hardships thinking, "we don't have any big trials that we couldn't handle". I even joked about not being worthy enough or strong enough for a real trial! Little did I know . . .

Almost three years ago I found out about my husband's infidelity. As he confessed his two-year affair with a close friend of ours my whole world crumbled. To make it even more complicated, she was pregnant and about to have my husband’s baby.

I cried for the next two weeks! Everything was a blur and I wasn't even sure what I wanted or what was next for me. Divorce for some reason never felt the right thing to do. My husband was in this total darkness he had created for all of us, and I couldn’t walk away.  We both decided to stay. He promised to do everything in his power to make things work and start over again. 

The last three years have been the hardest time of my life. Constantly going through pain, disappointment, heartache and fear like nothing I had ever felt before. It felt like it would never end. I haven't cried that much in my entire life.

But he has changed, and so has my heart. He repented and opened his whole heart! He has worked really hard to gain my forgiveness . . . and the Lord's.

Life is still hard sometimes, I still have days when I could just sit and cry from the pain that seems to just show up—even without my invite. But I know I'm not alone in this trial! 

Looking back over the past three years I have learned and grown so much. I have learned that there are angels around us—literally next to us—when we feel alone! When there is no one out there who understands the Lord himself comes and lifts us up! I have felt my burden lifted up by my Heavenly Father. I have found the strength to smile and live my life without crying all day long! I had many days when I felt a bubble around me to protect me and keep the pain outside.

I never really understood what grace meant until I had to face this unbearable pain in my life. I learned that I'm stronger than I thought I could be. I learned that Jesus Christ literally was next to me carrying me through it all. He never left my side. He asked me to stay and I knew that with Him I could do it! 

This quote has given me hope and a reason to stand:

It is important to understand that His healing can mean being cured, or having your burdens eased, or even coming to realize that it is worth it to endure to the end patiently, for God needs brave sons and daughters who are willing to be polished when in His wisdom that is His will."

I know that healing is possible through the Lord Jesus Christ! I know forgiveness is possible because of Him and His grace. Life is still hard sometimes, days when I don't know how to move forward—but in those moments I do the same I did in those days—I hold unto the hope and take one day at the time! I stand strong because I know God is with me and He will help me get through it! –Richard G. Scott

If you face such a trial—and silently suffer—I want you to know you are not alone! There are so many of us who go through such hardships like infidelity without anyone aware of our struggles. God asked me to stay—and it was hard as hell—but I stand tall. God and angels were with me every step of the way. 

This scripture gave me much comfort every day:

 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.


And if you asked me why I stayed—it's because I wanted and still want to rebuild my marriage and make it eternal with heaven's help! That's my reason to stand! 

We don’t have it all figured out, but we do still love each other, through the bumps in the path, the mistakes, and the hardships—not a perfect road . . . but one we will continue to fight . . . to stand together.

So yes. Every day I am weak and every day I am strong. But I do know this. I have courage and faith in God’s plan and He makes no mistakes, so I guess I am stronger than all the weak moments I thought I was alone—because He was always there. 


"For the kids" Adventures at the Doctor

"For the kids" preschool video. Field trips!!

This is for the sweet boys who emailed Tytus asking him to make another preschool video. It made his day. And cousin Carson who watches them!!  This one is about our adventures last week at the vet for Sadie, and Tytus' doctor appointment getting ready for kindergarten next year. And a few other things we had fun doing outside our house! 

Send us more of your fun ideas boys!! We are always looking for fun things to do and learn! 




The Longest Run . . . overcoming after rape

15 years ago, March 3rd, my life was changed forever.  I was raped.  I became a different person.  So much so that my family and friends didn’t even know who I was anymore.  I was too ashamed to share what happened.  I remember lying in bed crying at night, every night.  I remember very distinctly the prayer I would utter ‘Please, God, if you are there….if you are listening…..please let tonight be my last breath.  I don’t want to live another day.’

Each morning I’d wake and the tears would come again because I would have to breathe again. 

The pain was more than I could bear.  I felt like I was ruined.  I felt like I’d never be ‘enough’ for someone (a husband).  I felt like that night my life was forever ruined and I’d be better off dead.

My journey to who I am today was long.  And hard.  And there were many defining moments.  I met my best friend who helped me through the initial feelings.  I could have easily scared him off, after all my first words to Jason were ‘we can be friends, but never NEVER anything more.  I don’t date.’  Somehow, the man saw through my wall.  And for a long time we were just friends.  I thought I was doing well.  We eventually got married and started a family.

For many years, I got really good at pretending to be happy.  I put on a brave face.  In my head, I told myself as long as I never EVER went back to St. George I would be okay.  I would pretend nothing happened.  But each year, March was always bad.  Real bad.  Especially the 3rd – 6th.  All those emotions I once felt would come rushing back.  The panic, the hurt, the guilt, the shame, the fear, the anger, the tears.  It would all come flooding in and I’d be a total wreck, sometimes unable to even get out of bed.

Then, somehow I did.  Until I got the news.  I found out my husband’s job was going to take me back to live in St. George.  At this point in my life I had 2 young girls, and it had been 6 years since I was last in the city so full of terrible memories. 

We moved to St. George and I basically lost it.  I got to the point that I wouldn’t get out of bed.  If I did, I’d begin to have a massive panic attack.  I was a terrible mother.  I couldn’t function.  I ate my feelings away.  Jason asked me to get help.

This was the first time I began counseling.  And this counseling was the first time I started to live again.  It was also the first time that I finally shared more openly about my past.  During my therapy I was adamant that I could work on finding happiness again, but I told my counselor that I would never, NEVER forgive the men who raped me.  It was at that moment that my counselor encouraged to do something I felt was un-doable.  We talked a lot about the ‘un-doable’ things, and what makes them un-doable.  One that stuck out was run a marathon.

Never, had I ran a race.  Ever.  But I started training for a marathon.  My runs were therapeutic.  I typically ran alone because it was a moment I could have to just allow myself to feel.  Some runs I’d cry, like full on sobbing, ugly cry.  I remember many times stopping and sitting on the curb and just bawling.  Other times I’d feel powerful and strong.  Sometimes I’d be running and start cursing and screaming.  Yes, there were probably people who thought I was literally insane.  Maybe I was.  But I needed to let out everything I had bottled in for so long.

Slowly, I started making progress.  I started seeing so many who had been there for me, despite the person I’d become.  I started seeing how the anger I was holding on to was ruining me. 



I remember running the marathon in 2007.  I remember how it was the first year in like 30 years that it rained.  And boy did it rain.  But it’s funny, because looking back I feel like the rain was the last moment I needed to wash away all those feelings I had.  During that run, I dedicated each mile to someone that had made a difference or had helped pull me through the darkest time of my life.  I wrote letters to each person, thanking them.  It was my way of gaining back the strength. 

I finished the race that day, but it was never about the time.  It was just about finishing.  I learned that I was so much stronger than I ever knew.  That race really summed up my life to that point.  It began with excitement, like the excitement I had when I went off to school.  It started with energy.  Then slowly it got hard.  And just after Veyo hill, it was pouring hail.  The uphill was hard.  SO hard.  I cried.  I wanted to quit the race, just like I wanted to quit life after the hardest moment of my life. 

But I made a choice.  I put one foot in front of the other.  I continued.  Many tears were spilled on the last half of that course.  And when I was about 6 miles out, I remember wondering if this was worth the effort anymore.  (Much like I wondered if the work to move forward with my life was worth it.)  I remember about that point that I looked up and saw my dad.  He had known I was struggling on the course.  My family all knew I wanted to quit.  I had called and told them I’d go as far as I possibly could, but to prepare for me not to finish.  So in that moment, when I looked up and saw my dad who had easily walked over 5 miles to get to me, I cried.  My dad held me up as I cried.  I will never forget that moment in my life.  I learned that despite feeling so alone for so long, the truth was I was never really alone.  Not only was my dad there for me, but so was God.  I knew I still had a long ways to go in being okay with who I was, but in that moment on that day I knew that life was worth living again.  I finally knew I was strong enough to live again.

I learned that day that I could do hard things.  I could forgive the worst of offenses because forgiving isn’t about accepting what someone has done, forgiving is about allowing yourself to heal.  I learned how anger and grudges can change a person into someone they don’t recognize.  And finally, finally I had found a way to move forward and forgive.  Does that mean I’m okay with being raped?  No.  Rape should not happen.  No means no.  Period.  But, I can tell you that before being raped I never knew how strong I was.  I never knew what I was capable of.  I never knew the person I could be. 

In my journey to forgiveness, I found a reason to stand again.  And that reason was me.  I realized that I was worth the effort.  I realized that my worth was not linked in any way to what happened to me.  I realized that God had been there all along, loving me for who I was, even when I couldn’t love myself.  The God I felt had deserted me, or been embarrassed of me, had actually been standing next to me holding me up the entire time.


After the marathon in 2007 I thought I was “fixed.”  But what I didn’t realize is the work that still needed to be done.  I didn’t realize the feelings I still had in my own self worth.  I still had ‘deserve-level’ issues to deal with, and to be honest my journey will always be in progress.  I have to work each and every day, it’s a choice I make.  And it started long ago.  I chose to live.  And some days that choice was easy, other days I had to fight my inner self.  But looking at where I am today, 15 years later, I am so grateful I made the choice to live.  I chose to share my story for many years on my blog because I want others to know that it’s okay to fall down sometimes, just make the choice to stand back up.  

Hard happens to all of us, every single person!  But don’t let that hard keep you down.  Life is worth living, even when it doesn’t seem that way.  The sun will come up again, just find a way to keep standing.  And more than anything know that you are surrounded by God’s love.  Nothing you will ever do, nothing that will ever happen to you will taint the love He has for you.  So stand, and show the world how strong you are!


by Alisha Bowling 




May 1, 2016

I will stand

Last night I had that bad dream. The one with the crying baby and the slammed door and the gun. Only this time when I got to the part with the detectives, I was sitting across from myself. But I was both characters. In one sentence I could feel all the pain from the past. Then I became the other person and I bore my soul to myself. I talked about angels and grace. I told myself about all the moments that I knew I wouldn't be alone. I pleaded with myself to fight and screamed all the reasons why I was going to have to be strong. 
Then I became her again. The broken girl. Alone. Afraid. I looked around the room as it began to spin. The voices of my new reality swarming all around me. My eyes searched for something to look to. And then there I was...I looked into my own eyes staring across from me. I could feel myself pulling me to fight. I could feel the whirl wind of fear trying to bring me down. It was almost like a battle between darkness and light. 
But then all the sudden I was filled with this unmeasurable amount of strength. In my head my own voice calling my name and saying, "Ashlee...It will be hard...it will be dark...it will be humiliating...it will be lonely...and it will feel impossible. But you will stand." 
All the sudden the noise became more quiet. The voices of the detectives still repeated the facts of that night but the little broken girl who once sat alone on the couch...was standing. 

April 30, 2016

8 Steps to Overcoming Betrayal Trauma






I was speaking for a betrayal trauma seminar retreat going on in California today over FaceTime on my computer. So I decided part way through to record to share with you all. Sorry you missed the first part. I showed my dirty house after the twins late night birthday party last night . . . yikes!! 

Thank you lovely woman for having me today. I know it is hard as woman of faith to overcome this trauma of betrayal while you feel like you are the only broken family. You are not alone! We are all fighting many battles! Never stop.

These are eight steps I have found to overcome betrayal trauma and find freedom from the pain. 

 
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