December 13, 2018

Christmas: Heaven is Here

I remember a Christmas—I had to have been about eleven—when my single mother took me a side one day and said, “Ash”—she probably really called me by my nickname SMASH—“I have to ask you a favor.” She then proceeded to tell me that this year her Christmas budget was close to nothing. She said, “I need your help, the only thing I was able to purchase for you was a nail polish, and this year I need you to be ok with that.”

I was long past the years of asking Santa for presents, but I had never imagined a Christmas when there was going to be close to nothing under our tree. Being the brave young woman I was, I looked my mother in the eye and said, “Do not buy me another thing, if you have any money left get something for the little girls.” My little sisters were 5 and 7 years younger than me, and I was pretty sure they still had faith in the little jolly man with the red suit.

Christmas morning came, and just as she had promised all I opened was my nail polish. I sat quietly as the others opened their meager gifts.

It was hard to breathe as I chocked back tears. I wasn’t sad about the presents, but it killed me to watch my mother go around trying to smile—I could see it all over her face . . . she felt like she had failed us.

Soon there was a knock. We all scampered to the door of our little duplex and as it swung open we were surprised to see what looked like a little miniature tree standing boldly on our porch. Instead of leaves, this little tree proudly sported little wrapped up dollar bills—tiny ribbons held them tightly to each branch.

Tears filled my eyes as we picked up the little magic plant and carried it into our tiny kitchen. I looked up to see my mother’s face—it was wet from tears—as she watched us count what felt like a million dollars. We felt rich that Christmas—rich in blessings, rich in dollars, and rich in love. Someone loved us enough to know that year . . . we just needed a tiny sprout of hope, not in a little jolly man in a red suit . . . but in Christ. They were His hands that day. Angels that dropped off a tiny reminder in that tiny duplex: we were not forgotten.


Fast forward about eight years. It is Christmas time again. My mother has remarried a very generous kind man who announced, “Kids”—there were twelve of us between the two of them, probably six of us living at home—“This year we want to do Christmas a little differently, we want to give our presents to a family who needs it. We will give you a budget and assign you partners to shop for each of their children and we will drop everything off at their house on Christmas Eve. Our goal is to make sure they have no idea where it came from. It will be really fun . . . the only catch is: we won’t be buying anything for any of you.”

My mind quickly took me back to the nail polish and the money tree, and the look in my mother’s eye. I shouted with excitement, “Yes!”

I took it to another level—as I often tend to do—and knocked on their door with a fake “research questionnaire for school”. I had to meet the people we were going to be shopping for. These total strangers let me in their house. I surveyed the room. They had no TV, and I didn’t see any sign of a scrap of food.  They had four little kids. They talked very kindly to their children as they filled out my fake questionnaire. As I drove home that night tears fell down my cheeks as I thought about all the fun things I was going to purchase for their family.

Christmas Eve came. The boxes were all lined in our front room, decorated beautifully. We loaded them into our cars. We drove in silence and when we approached their tiny apartment my step dad turned and said, “Ashlee, you are the fastest kid I know. Once we get all the presents loaded on the porch, why don’t you be the one to ring the doorbell and run around the corner.”

The porch was loaded and everyone had piled into the cars. I rang the doorbell and ran as fast as my legs could carry me.  I slammed myself into the car and we sped away. I noticed over the fence from their apartment was a Kmart. I suggested we go over to the parking lot and look over the huge cinderblock fence to see if we could see the family. (Like I said, always trying to take it to the next level.)

My stepbrother hoisted me up so I could barely peek my eyes over the wall. And there on the porch were all the presents . . . along with a mother, weeping so hard she couldn’t even bend over to pick up one box. I could hear her sobs, I could feel of the gratitude she felt, but I also could remember a moment when my own mother had cried those same tears—and I felt joy.

This time we got to be His hands—someone else had the opportunity to remember His love . . . and we got to be apart of it.

I will never forget either of these Christmas’ and the lessons I learned feeling the earthly angels . . . and how powerful it feels to be one.


Heaven is close, there are angels all around us—some we can see, and others we can only feel. This Christmas let us always remember the miracles—we even have the power to create some.  Three wise men followed a star to bring their love to a little baby far away. Most of the time we don’t have to look or travel too far to find someone who needs to be reminded that they are loved—a little glimmer of light can help us remember we are not forgotten.



December 10, 2018

Miracle in every storm





Karen shares that there is a message and a miracle in every storm . Parenting advise that just might change the way you view our fight as a mother or father. Her journey of divorce, betrayal, and helping your children connect to their one source of light...Christ. As Karen learned to step back, she saw that what her son needed was a cheerleader, he already had a Savior.

November 30, 2018

Perfect Love Casteth out all Fear

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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





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

November 21, 2018

Steady brightness



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

November 19, 2018

The Circle of Life

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




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

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

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


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

"Miranda Sings" by Kaleeya

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





Here is the original...


November 16, 2018

5 steps to a happier today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Happiness is remembering your worth no matter where you are.

 
Blog Design By: Sherbet Blossom Designs