October 19, 2017

Just up the street . . . It's going to be ok

After the greatest trial in your life, what would you say if someone told you that you were going to be ok?

Would you be relieved? Ticked off? Not believe them? Scared? Excited? Would you create in your mind what “ok” you would be ok with? Would you be willing to go wherever you felt prompted . . . or would you be too prideful to accept that “ok” didn’t look ok to you?

I remember a few promises given to me—in the months after the murder—that I will never forget. Silent promises—in my closet—on the darkest night of my life . . . that I was going to make it through all of this. I was going to be ok.

One promise came in the form a blessing—my church leader laid his hands on my head and told me that my Heavenly Father was going to watch over me. I was going to be ok.

Promises from friends and family saying they would always have my back.  I was going to be ok.

Letters written by my babies “to people of Japan” . . . as I read, I felt their truths for my own story. I was going to be ok.

Promises from strangers across the world—messages of hope that they were praying for me. I was going to be ok.

But guess what . . . some days it felt impossible to believe. No matter who the source of the promise, I always doubted that life would ever be the same. And guess what else . . . it never has been.  My definition of a traumatic event is a moment in which time freezes and you think, “My life is never going to be the same”.  Many of those make it hard to believe anyone’s promise that “Everything is going to be OK!”.

One of those promises came on a very dark week. (“Bailed out” . . . I wrote about parts of it in my first book) . . . but what I didn’t share was after a powerful talk about grace helped me remember that I wasn’t alone—during that same conference—it was announced that a new temple for my church was going to be built in my town.

That announcement—to me—less than one month after losing my spouse, was a promise that everything was going to be ok. That He was remembering how alone I felt, and He was giving me a light at the end of my black tunnel. In my mind, that promise was going to be fulfilled ASAP! But as the months turned into years the light started to fade—a timetable of unmet expectations had me wondering about His plan.

Yesterday I got the chance to be an usher inside the walls of the building that was promised. And as I sat alone in a silent stairway—during one location of my shift—I was overcome with gratitude for the light that I felt. It was so much brighter than a glimmer at the end of a tunnel. What they didn’t announce six years ago . . . was that the location for this promised light was only one block from the location of my darkest night—on the same street even.

As I reflected in that stairway I felt a love so strong I had to wipe a few tears. What once was a small glimmer of light now stands as a magnificent glowing building—
for me . . . a symbol of His love just right up the street from the pain.  

In another spot in the temple—during the open house yesterday—I could over hear a volunteer sharing a story. In the early months of construction the building had undergone some graffiti by an uninvited trespasser. As workers showed up the next day, many suggested they just paint over it. The boss finally told them the final plan, “We can’t just paint over it . . . or else it will still be there. Just because we cover it up—it doesn’t mean it is gone. We are going to have to start on this space again. It will take more time, but it will be ok.” So they redid the whole wall.

We each have parts of us that feel like graffiti—secrets and lies, false beliefs and fears. For the most part, we spend our time trying to cover them up. But that doesn’t take them away. It may take a little scrubbing for us to get rid of the pain. It may take a little reconstruction—but just like the buildings that are dedicated to help us strengthen our relationship with our Savior . . . so are these temples that hold our spirit. If all the yesterdays you spent covering up the pain aren’t making it go away, maybe it is time to get help. Don’t be afraid to talk about it—just because you cover it up . . .doesn’t mean it isn’t still there.  Friends, family, counselors . . . all promise to have your back. And even more than all of them—you have a Creator and Savior who always will.

He doesn’t always do everything on our timetable—but the little promise of light He sent long ago . . . He hasn’t forgotten. Just wait, maybe instead of a little light at the end of the tunnel—maybe He is going to take a whole mountain and make it glow . . . just right up the street from the fear. 

Are you ok with ok? When God says it is going to be ok . . . are you still going to smile if it looks different than what you had planned—you still going to believe? Are you still going to pray, even when the world has failed you? Are you going to remember that the only advise that matters . . . is His?

We cannot be blinded by fear, or feel forgotten because it hasn’t been easy. We have to figure out how to be ok . . . with ok.

I am ok. And most days I am even better. What a difference six years, seven months . . .  and one block makes.

I know He didn’t just announce—or build—that sacred building right there for me . . . but it sure has helped me feel remembered. So many people have told me they have thought of us every time they have passed THE Walgreens. I hope from now on as they drive down that street another block and see a place that is full of light . . . they remember Him. The One who doesn’t see us as separated by religion, or governments, or race. The One who created all the beauty of the earth—everything that promises light.

I know every time I drive down that street I will remember the promise that even the darkest moments . . . if you keep going down the road a little further . . . will turn to light. Don’t you give up.

He loves us. He loves us regardless of all our graffiti . . . or the graffiti we have left for others to clean up.

And . . . He promises . . .

It’s going to be ok.

Shawn and I took a bunch of pics the other day before it was open when we were walking the grounds. Here are a few of my favorites. We are taking the kids through next week before it is dedicated next month. I will get some good pictures to ad to these.

 All welcome for the open house! Go stop by and check it out. 


I have quite the lineup for Provo. Some new faces, and some you will remember. Go check out who will be there! And please come see us. These presenters work hard and it is so amazing to watch them put all their heart into these conferences. I always humbled to be part of something that is so much bigger than me.

A Reason to Stand Presenters

October 11, 2017

The hundred dollar bill that changed my life

Working on Book 3—like a boss—today. Feels kind of good to stop avoiding it. Scary. Out of my comfort zone...but good. Came to the chapter about the hundred dollar bill.  
That day in the grocery store—after the murder trial had ended—was one of the greatest gifts Heavenly Father could have given me.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week. Looking for a few stories to highlight on the blog for the holidays coming up. Please send in your "I will stand" surviving victimhood story for a chance to be featured on here. 

Link to the story on the blog:

Here is a video about that story as well.

September 28, 2017


Family Share published on of my articles today!!


September 25, 2017

Happy through the story

I have done a lot of soul searching the past few weeks. Asking myself questions to which I didn’t know if I wanted the answer. Why am I the way that I am; why do I do things the way that I do? Am I happy? What would I have to change to become the person I want to be? What in my life needs to be different for me to be happy? Questions keep rolling through my mind—challenging me to be better, hoping to make sense of the parts of me—and others—that are harder to love. Some of the answers have been simple. Fear has been at the core of them all. Beliefs racked with this fear . . . motivating frustrations and destructive patterns.

So here are some of the beliefs I have been reframing:

1. Everyone but me feels joy all the time

We have this expectation in our mind that if our days are not filled with joy . . . we are not truly happy. If bumps in the road come along—we feel as if life is not truly worth living. We have a standard set for what happiness looks like, and if that standard is not met in ourselves—or in those around us—we are miserable.

2.  Everybody but me has it all figured out

As our lives feel as though they fall apart daily, we look out to others for a standard at where normal should be. We compare our imperfect lives, to other’s perfectly portayed Instagram/Facebook realities. Only—while we are at home feeling everything but joy—we do not see what is going down on the other end of those perfectly posed pictures.

3. When I become _____________ . . . I will be happy

It is worthy to have goals—finish lines of something worth achieving. But the more we live, the more we will realize that the goals are not what is going to bring us to a state of happiness. Happiness is what is found along the way—realizing that the journey is what makes us who we will become.

4. If we were normal . . . we wouldn’t have issues

Normal: the standard for which we all measure our lives—ironically a made up scenario of perfection in others—a status at which we believe we will never achieve. “Normal” is a dream we sometimes dream . . . a quiet, simple life with no hiccups or battles—a version of our life without the messes to clean up . . . but full of constant joy.

So what really needs to change for us to be happy? Is it everyone else? Is it our story? . . . Or is it just us?

If happiness is a choice, how come it feels so hard to choose?—maybe because if it was easy, everyone would do it.
We have to find those beliefs that are holding us back. As simple as they sound in our head, they may be the reason we are not living to our full potential. We don’t have to wait any longer. The choice of happiness is in our hands.

I want to be happy. I want to find the little glimmers of joy in my days. I want to make a difference for others—even those that seem a little harder to love. Because that is what Christ did. He loved. He forgave . . . and He lived. His life wasn’t perfect, but He was.

Our lives are not perfect, and unfortunately neither are we. We are not going to achieve perfection . . . not ever. But we can feel joy. We were created to find it—in the little imperfect glimmers of light on this path we call life.

September 18, 2017

Protect marriage . . . It matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protect marriage. It matters.

August 30, 2017

Feels a lot like fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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