April 6, 2021

Hope and Healing in Christ workshop

I was able to speak in person for the first time in a long time! They recorded it—and all the other presenters—if you want to check it out! 


March 10, 2021

The strength of the buffalo

 It’s been ten years since I started my journey of becoming a Buffalo. 


Let me explain: 

Storms. We all face them sometimes. The hardest ones are the kind that come out of no where with dark heavy clouds that threaten our very existence. In the animal kingdom, no one is exempt from them either...but there is one animal who has it all figured out. 

When storms come, what cows (and other roaming animals) do is very natural. Cows sense the storm coming and immediately start to run in the opposite direction. The only problem is they aren’t very fast, so the storm catches up with them quickly. Without knowing any better the cows continue to try to outrun the storm, but instead of outrunning the storm they actually run right along with it. Thus their frantic running—away from the the storm—maximizes the amount of pain and time and frustration they experience in that storm! A struggle that could have ended more quickly, seems to carry on for a very long time, leaving the animal exhausted, defeated, and even permanently injured. 

Buffalo however take a different approach to storms. Buffalo wait and watch as a storm approaches. They remain relatively calm and keep their eye on the raging clouds. When the weather is close, the buffalo turn toward—and charge directly head on—into the storm. 

Instead of running away from the storm they run directly at the storm—straight through it—thus minimizing the amount of pain, time and frustration they experience from it. 

It has been ten years since our storm. Sometimes I have been the cow, wandering aimlessly, trying to out run and hoping to get ahead of the raging storm. Other times I have been the buffalo with my head down, charging it, ready to fight, ready to get through...ready to stand strong on the other side. 

The hard stuff in life either breaks us and wears us out...or gives us a strength we didn’t know we were capable of. The pain we carry either works to hold us back, or gives us a reason to keep pushing through. 

We can learn a lot from the buffalo. Even in the times we can’t see the storm coming, we can still decide—in a moment—if we lean into the coming storm or if we spend the rest of our lives trying to run from it. Either way there will be moments we have to face it...either head on, or it knocking us over from behind. 

You guys have shared your buffalo stories with me. I have learned from your perseverance how to be better. I have gained from your experiences insight on how I can strengthen myself. Thank you for learning, sharing, and inspiring me the last decade to help me keep going. 

I cannot imagine the strength this girl—who started this journey exactly ten years ago—has gained...without picturing all of you. You have seen the goodness in me I thought was lost when that gun fired. You have given me a space to own my story...instead of running and hiding from it. And like the buffalo, you have helped me find strength to hold my head high, grit my teeth and keep stepping into the storms life has sent. 

Ten years ago we said goodbye to a lot of things. One of those was our innocence. That has been a hard one to find again. But through the ten years—of buffalo moments—that have followed, we have gained way more than we lost. I will never be the same as that innocent young mom who sat on that couch and had her heart ripped out of her chest.  I know now just how cruel this world can be. And also...I will never forget that moment I stepped into my closet and prayed harder than I have ever prayed. I will never forget the light that filled my heart and mind...promising me of a brighter day. Promising me that I could learn how to truly forgive; promising me that someday I would be able to breath again. That moment and that prayer gave me a glimmer of what could be. That prayer and that promise...gave me the strength to walk forward—just like a mama buffalo—into the storm. 

I know those clouds are dark. I know the pain is real and the wounds run so deep...but don’t you give up. This storm will pass and the light on the other side will find you. 

*Photo credit: Tom Murphy www.tmurphywild.com this picture was used with permission from Tom. Please visit his page to check out more amazing photography. 

February 23, 2021

A prayer to see

 Have you ever prayed to see someone how God sees them? Did anything change? Were you able to see them in a way that helped you understand them more clearly? 

Sometimes we get blinded by our own fears, our own expectations, our own opinions, or our own judgements to truly see someone for who they are. Sometimes our lack of knowledge—of the story they have lived—stops us from seeking more understanding of who they have become. Sometimes the people who are hardest to see...are the one’s who need it the most. Sometimes the hardest person to see clearly...is ourselves. 

To truly forgive we must see someone who hurt us...as God sees them. To honestly love someone, we must be able to see them as they are seen by the one who created them. With more of His view,  we see less of their flaws and more of what makes them special, unique, and His loved son or daughter.

I have challenged myself this year to see more clearly. To ask questions before I jump to conclusions. To look deeper before I judge only what I can see with my eyes. To love myself for who I am now and not wait for a specific goal before I can appreciate myself. 

Last year was full of fogs and fear and not being able to see each other...quite literally. This year I challenge all of us to see things as they really are. 

With less of the world’s view of who the people in our life should be...we are blessed with a view of who people in our lives are. We are all worthy of love. In a moment of the fog...there is power in a prayer. Ask Him to help you see. I promise it can change everything. It won’t change the person, or the challenge...it will just change our ability to see it, to accept it, and most importantly...to love it. 

There is beauty all around. 

February 20, 2021

You can handle it

 2 months! We couldn’t love you more baby Kylar. To be honest...I have lost more sleep with teenagers who want to stay up late (hence the late night post) than I have with this one. She is a dream baby. At 4 weeks she slept her first 11 hours straight...and hasn’t missed a night. (I have told you—Baby sleep is my one best skill...honestly my dream job is to be a sleep trainer, because it makes parenting so joyful when you get rest). Anyways. This little baby girl is one content little peanut. We love having her as part of our team.

I have been thinking a lot about this stage I am in right now. The last time I had an almost two year old and an almost two month old was almost exactly ten years ago. 10 years? If you would have told me ten years ago that I would hold that little infant in my arms and that little toddler’s hand through their daddy’s funeral, a murder trial, and a remarriage that ended in divorce...I would have thought you were crazy. God never gives us more than we can handle...and I would have sworn up and down that I couldn’t have handled that. If you would have said, someday you will have seven kids...I would have laughed...because God doesn’t give us more than we can handle—and I wouldn’t believe I could handle that.

I am actually really grateful—as I sit her thinking about all I thought I could never handle—that nobody told me. Because in those dark moments of living all the things I could never have handled...I remember the many things He did promise. Light. Peace. We would be protected and blessed. We would find forgiveness. We would be able to move forward. I didn’t know exactly what all that meant, on my knees in my closet that night, but ten years later—still working hard every day to fulfill all of those little glimmers of light at the end of that seemingly endless tunnel—I am realizing these eyes must have been two of the lights that were shinning the brightest. Scott we did good. Two more sparkly eyes that testify of God’s grace. 

We were all born to shine. Don’t let the darkness around you ever cover the light that’s inside. And never stop writing your story...tomorrow might surprise you. Trust Him when He says you can handle it.

December 25, 2020

Christmas Miracles

I believe in Christmas miracles. 

6 days of miracles to be exact. Starting last Friday. The decision was made to have Bostyn finish her healing from home. Saturday afternoon she got to surprise her siblings. Sunday morning she walked into the hospital as our plus one...and watched her little sister Kylar come into this world. 

And the final miracle in this weeks surprise ending. All of our babies sat around the Christmas tree together this morning under one roof. 

God is good. He knows what we need the most, and sometimes we just have to sit back, trust...and watch the miracles unfold. 

Thank you to everyone who prayed for our Bostyn girl. She is smiling, and healthy, and has had a smooth transition to being here and finishing her healing journey from home! We are complete this Christmas Day and I know it is because of the prayers of so many of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am sore, I am tired, and I am completely full of joy...this has been one of the best weeks of my life. 

Bostyn asked me to give her some space to share some thoughts that have been on her heart:

Hey guys! 
I had the feeling to share this. Even though it feels really scary, here it goes... 

None of us can really predict how life is going to turn out. Many of us know what we want in life or who we want to be. Maybe we don’t know what to expect, but I’ve found out over the course of my life that the only thing you can expect from life is change. 

I never expected to end up at a residential treatment center for eating disorders. My whole life I’ve been the perfect child. The one who’s always happy, always there for everyone, with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. Even through everything I’ve been through I still smiled. I tried to make everything better for everyone else. I thought that was my purpose in life. To make people happy. To fix everything for everyone else. I was told from some people in my past that I needed to be perfect to be loved. That I shouldn’t be a burden or speak up or have an opinion. I believed the only way anyone could love me was if I was perfect, beautiful, helpful, happy, funny, skinny... So many people have left in my life and I blamed myself for it. 

I never noticed how bad it was until I looked back on it. The world normalizes eating disorder behaviors but shames the disorder itself. I hope that I can help give it a voice. It was something that I tried to hide for so long. 

I never decided that I was going to just stop eating. It was never a conscious decision. It started with me cutting out certain foods I labeled as ‘bad’. Then I started working out obsessively. If I didn’t get to workout one day I would compensate by skipping meals. Then I cut out carbs. Everyone was always talking about the fad keto diet. It was a common thing I thought was normal and had heard a lot of people were doing it. I then started eating smaller portions of what was already unfulfilling food. Being low on food and energy numbed me. I didn’t have to think about anything that hurt me. I couldn’t really think about anything besides food and exercise and looking for ways to be helpful and needed. I ate normally in front of friends and people outside my family, but later punished myself for it with exercise and fasting. I lost so many relationships. My relationship with my parents and siblings once so strong was fading. I had no energy to give to friendships. I hid from everyone and pushed everyone away. I didn’t believe that I had an eating disorder, but it kept getting worse. My fingers and toes turned blue and cold. I was told my heart was slowing down and could soon give out if I kept this up. I tried to recover at home and my parents did all they could to help me. No matter what we tried, I could not heal. As much as I wanted to recover it wasn’t working for me to do it by myself. I know that the treatment center was the only option. As much as I didn’t want to go, I didn’t fight it.  I knew that my dream of having a family one day could not be possible unless I recovered. I knew that I was wasting away and could not maintain this much longer. I thought it made me weak for needing more professional help, but I now realize that I had to have more courage in order to accept what I needed. 

The treatment center saved me in so many ways. I am so grateful for everyone who supported me, wrote to me or reached out to me or my family in any way. Thank you to those who held me in my lowest times and were there for me when I thought I was alone. Thank you so much for everything. 

Eating disorders are a real and scary thing. It’s hard to see it when it’s yourself. I never would’ve guessed or wanted it to be a part of my life, but I am so grateful I can learn form this experience. Even though I am doing so much better, I still have to fight everyday to maintain recovery and choose it for myself. 

I want us all to remember that we are the main characters in our story. We aren’t here to give everything to everyone else or to be perfect. Those who truly love us will love us because we are ourselves. They will love us for our perfections and imperfections. Who wants to be perfect anyways!? It’s not even possible! 

Friday, the decision was made for me to come home and Saturday I got to come home and surprise my siblings! The next day I got to see my baby sister Kylar be born. I didn’t think I was going to be able to meet her until months later, but I was able to be there when she came into the world! God has a plan for all of us and answers our prayers. Most of the time, our plan isn’t what we expected. Sometimes it isn’t what we want, and sometimes it’s a miracle we never thought would happen. But it’s always what we need and what was meant to be.

Thank you for the support and love. I feel all of your prayers. I will forever be grateful for the hardest three months I will never forget and the love I felt from so many of you.  Love you to the moon and back! 


December 2, 2020

Not a stranger

 Last night I was laying in bed in the middle of the night thinking about a million different things. This little baby inside of me must have been doing the same thing. She was tossing and turning...possibly doing some Olympic style hard core gymnastics. I kept rubbing my belly and it almost felt like she would push back to say hello. 

Pregnancy is so incredible. For nine months this precious little life gets to know you...to trust you. You carry them around...not fully knowing who they are, or who they will become. 

Then child birth. You literally give your all. You fight and push and scream and feel the most pain you ever have in your entire life and for a split second you literally don’t know if you will make it through. And then the next second you are staring into the face of—not a stranger—but someone you already know, you see their face and it feels like they have always been there. After a moment of excruciating pain...comes a moment of pure joy. A reunion of souls who knew each other all along. 

It is kind of amazing to be carrying this baby to the week that we celebrate the Saviors birth (I am due December 26th). A new sense of how Mary was feeling as she prepared to make a long trek. She was not comfortable I can tell you that. She was most likely swollen and tired. Her hips were probably sore, maybe she was having contractions all day as she rode on the back of an unstable donkey. I am guessing her hormones were all over the place...and maybe even had a few moments where she questioned the purpose of such a plan. 

She knew she was carrying a King...and yet was taken to the lowliest of scenes to fight to bring him into this world. (And we think it is hard to have babies during covid)

What an amazing gift that when we carry these precious souls we get to sacrifice—in love—to give them life. 

Some do it—in love—for another couple who couldn’t. Other mothers fight to give life to a baby to place in another families arms. I have met many who have had to fight to bring a baby into the world they knew wouldn’t or hadn’t made it. Each story a brave tribute of love. 

I am so thankful for these babies of mine. For the light each one has brought me, and the joy I find in watching them become who they were made to be. I am thankful for the support they have given me through the highs and the lows and for their example of faith and love through it all. 

Mothers of all forms...I salute you. This parenting thing is hard, amazing, chaotic, rewarding, exhausting, comical, serious, fun, and a lot of work all at the same time. 

I know with all my heart someday when we get to heaven...not only will we get to see those babies we lost (I have had three miscarriages)...but we will get to see the impact we had on the babies we blessed with our bravery...all forms of bravery and love...that have made us moms. 



To my little girl coming so soon. I am honored to be your mom. I can’t wait to watch you be adored by a houseful of people who can’t wait to meet you. The countdown begins! 

And and update in Bostyn! She has had a great week and we have seen some progress! Thank you all for your prayers and support. I can see her turning a corner and it has been beautiful to watch her remember who she was all along! 

November 20, 2020

56 days of brave

It’s been eight weeks since Bostyn has been gone. 56 days to be exact. 

I have written about fifty six versions of “how this is going”. It is always tempting on social media to share the lemonade version of life. Life gives us lemons and we squeeze the crap out of them and pray hard and make some freaking version of lemonade. That’s what we all want to hear right? At least that’s what we all want to share. Things are smooth and we have the strength to do it all. We want to paint a beautiful picture so others don’t judge our hard with the perfect life lenses they seem to be living in. 

I could say I have been strong, her siblings have been rock stars. It would be easy to tell you we have been blessed with comfort every day and peace to just know and trust that she is ok. I could say she is thriving and is accelerating in her progress and everything has come so easy for her. I could tell you she just jumped back to eating meals and motivated every day to get healthy and she will be home in record time. I could...and a part of me wants to. 

But the truth...this crap is hard. The past eight weeks—56 days—have been rough. And because of the pandemic, we haven’t and won’t be able to see her until she is released...at a date we have no idea when it will be. We have all been struggling and have scared moments that bring fears that just like the 12 people these kids have lost—in their short lives—to death, and a sister to divorce...Bostyn might not come back. It has been a grief cycle that a lot of days feels impossible. Many days I have struggled to find the positive and have felt overwhelmed if I look much past a few days or hours at a time. I have hurt hearing how she is hurting, and felt helpless knowing there is nothing I can do to fix this for her. 

Through her healing process, Bostyn has been facing some dark moments from the past. She is working her butt off...and coming face to face with pain, fear, loss, and trauma...all the while trying to figure out how to get her body to accept nourishment and find balance—a balance between figuring out how to be free from false beliefs and finding truth. 

Anorexia isnt just about eating or food even. It is about control, beliefs and struggles so much deeper than the surface. For many, anorexia comes with a belief that you would rather be nearing death daily than nearing your phobia of being “fat”—for many, in their minds, there is nothing in between. It comes with pain and heart ache, on both ends—the person fighting the battle, and the family and friends that are cheering them on. Anorexia comes with beliefs that don’t get changed by forced eating and constant hourly and daily monitoring. Anorexia comes with feeling disconnected, and for those in a center—being all alone surrounded by people they don’t know—it takes away any connections they still had. Anorexia comes with hard. Freedom from it is a process of digging through past pain, accepting your story, forgiving those who have hurt you, finding yourself again, and remembering who you are. Tools to not only make yourself eat, but remembering why your body is worthy of being protected, cared for, and treated with love. 

So Bostyn...how is she doing? Just like most of her life she is doing “more”. She is doing...more strong. She is practicing...more brave. And just like she has shown up time after time and challenge after life challenge...she is fighting hard and not giving up. 

And just like all of us at many points in our lives...she is fighting a battle she has to win for herself. And it just about rips my heart out every day—this claustrophobic sense of helplessness. Constantly being reminded that I have to let go and trust in a plan bigger than myself. Constantly reminding myself that I am not able to save her...but pleading to the One who can. I am learning a new perspective of putting my trust in Him, and having faith that He knows just where she is. 

Every night I pray:  Help her see her worth...the way Christ sees her. Help her see her strength, the strength she was born with. Help her win this fight, the way she battled when she was four years old fighting for her life. Help her remember who she is, bless the cloud of pain to be taken from her. Help her to remember what she is passionate about, the way she lived and loved before pain told her she wasn’t enough. Help her to forgive, the many imperfect people in her life—including me—who haven’t done everything right. Help her to know her dad adored her, and I am sure would give anything if he could have had the chance to come back and show her that...it had nothing to do with her. He had his own demons he was fighting. Help her to find her smile, the one that many have turned to for strength. Help her remember how to sparkle, for there has never been another who did it as bright as her. Help her to remember she was never made to shrink, but stand tall. Help her to feel her angels near always, and to pray when she loses sight of her truths. Help her to know she is worth it, she is loved beyond measure, and she is enough—far beyond enough. Help us to have faith in the timeline and know that God will prevail. 

We can do hard things. At least that’s what “they” say. Who are they anyway? Some days those hard things feel stronger than us...and to be honest some days they are. But there are always tomorrows. 

Tomorrow sometimes feels pretty far away—and sometimes new clouds take away even more of the light—but new tomorrow’s never stops coming. And eventually—just as the hard days have in the past—the sun starts shinning again and putting one foot in front of the other gets easier end easier. Today might be stormy, but tomorrow—some tomorrow—it will be one of the sunny perfect days. 

I know this world is scary and unknown and so many of you are going through the unimaginable. We got this guys. I know there are going to be some brighter tomorrows. I believe in grace, I have felt His strength walking with me and Bostyn, as I know she could never come face to face with the past without Him...because we know He was there with us too. 

And I know with all my heart...He has been in your story as well. 

I have really been thinking of Gods love for all of us lately. There are so many times in my life when I have thought...”Does Heavenly Father really remember me? Does he really know where I am and what I am going through? What makes me so special that He would spend much time on me? He has a million others, does He really care what I am going through?” As a mom who has a lot of kids, I can promise you...it doesn’t matter how many of them are right here with me, when one of them is lost or hurting or far away...a piece of my heart is with them. ALWAYS. I wake up in the middle of the night praying for her, I wipe tears every morning as I fail to even put into letters everything I want her to know. I think of her as we gather for prayer and it always feels like someone is missing. And so does He. Just like this mother who believes in her and will not give up on her...He is not either. 

God is aware of all of us. And when one of us is lost or broken or hurting...He doesn’t forget or get to busy. He hurts for us—He weeps with us. He walks with us. 

In case you have ever thought...”I am not important, He doesn’t care where I am.” I promise you this...He always remembers the one who is lost and hurting, and He doesn’t stop loving them even when they are far away. 

Hold tight to your little ones. We  don’t know the journeys they are going to be called to travel. It will not always be our strength that keeps them above water, but it can be our faith that can teach them how to be strong.  We must show them what courage looks like so they can learn how to be brave. We must show them that grace is going to be apart of their story too, then step back when it is that grace they need to hold on to. He never said it would be easy, and good heck it isn’t...but He did promise us that it would be worth it. 

I am thankful for the truths I know. I am thankful for a Heavenly Father who always remembers me...and especially remembers my Bostyn. I am thankful for hope...even on the days I have to fight to feel it. I am thankful for the holidays—though this year will be unique and will feel incomplete—there are memories to be made. I am thankful for a Savior that I know is with each of us wherever we are asked to walk, and His light that lights our way. 

~Sending you angels and light BoBo. Your cheerleaders—those you can see and those you can’t—are always there. 

Love you to the moon and back, Mom~


Also...I am thankful for a therapist who got this video call approved so these siblings could see her face for a few minutes. That was a great blessing for them. ❤️

October 1, 2020


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. 



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. 

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