August 25, 2016
Though I wrestle with the impressions to have to share hard things, I know that these truths come from God. And for that, I am thankful for the opportunity to learn and relearn them. I believe in His plan, though there are so many things I don't know I will ever fully understand, maybe that is all part of the test of life.
What ever your story, and the pains that you carry. You are enough for Him, and He loves you.
August 23, 2016
I got an email from my friend Nathan Ogden yesterday and with his permission want to share it here...
"WHY CAN'T I HAVE WHAT THEY HAVE!"
Last week I took my two youngest daughters into the mountains of Idaho to speak with a group of middle-aged, single adults near Garden Valley. Our fun evening filled with great discussions and hot cobbler was enhanced by the beauty of majestic pine trees and mountains. It doesn't get much better than that. My girls and I slept in a tiny old cabin with rickety bunk bed frames that showed signs of years of youth summer camps. I didn't sleep very well that night but it wasn't because of the brisk mountain air or because the bed was so skinny I couldn't roll over to relieve pressure on my hips. Every time my girls moved in their sleep (which for kids is all night long) the rusty metal springs screeched an annoying high-pitch that made me want to stand up, walk out the door and take my chances with the coyotes. But I still would give up hours of sleep and comfort for the memories that the three of us made.
Woven throughout the evening of excitement and fun there was a big distraction. I mean it was really bugging me, and it's not the first time this has happened.
As much as I love the outdoors, ever since I have been paralyzed I struggle to be truly happy when I'm out in nature. If there's a small trail leading up a steep canyon, I want to start hiking it to see what’s around the next corner or over the next ridge. Or if I'm trying to teach my kids how to go off a big rope swing into the river, I have to verbally describe how to do it properly because I can't show them myself.
"Why does everyone else around me get to experience this but I can't!"
"I want to keep doing these activities the way I used to, this is so frustrating!"
"I'm sure some of these people have problems but at least they can physically enjoy what's all around them."
"I want to keep doing these activities the way I used to, this is so frustrating!"
"I'm sure some of these people have problems but at least they can physically enjoy what's all around them."
These thoughts raced through my mind throughout the night and into the next morning as we spoke about how to face our fears and quit using excuses in our lives. Then I had a serious reality check hit me! While giving my workshops I began asking searching questions to those in attendance about their fears, hesitations, and excuses they use that are holding them back from reaching their full potential. I was put in my place and humbled quickly by the stories I heard. Many of these amazing single adults have had their spouse pass away. Some had unfaithful partners causing difficult divorce. Others are in their 40’s without ever having the opportunity to get married. Some of these single parents have as many as five children they are trying to raise and provide for on their own. I remember one courageous woman who had five children and two of them suffer with expensive and time-consuming disabilities. Wow, I can't even imagine the stress, worry and exhaustion that must bring.
All their stories of struggle, sacrifice, and survival were different but one common thought continually surfaced to the front of my mind. I am so blessed with the physical abilities I still have, my faith in God and His purpose, and that I'm surrounded by phenomenal family and friends. I may not be able to run down that little dirt trail or climb that tall pine tree with my children. But if I had the chance to trade my troubles and frustrations for someone else's, it would be wise to embrace what I've been given instead of complaining. I'm sure there are many aspects of my life I take for granted that others yearn to experience.
I challenge you all to appreciate the talents, gifts, and abilities you possess and be very slow to judge one another. Rarely do we know their full story.
"The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for." - J. Johnson
August 22, 2016
Ever since the first time I heard the song Titanium by Sia, I have always felt very connected to it. A few weeks ago during a family reunion all the kids were doing a talent show/karaoke party. Bailey sang this song when it was her turn.
Just listen to these words.
Just listen to these words.
The girls are starting a little fun channel on Youtube for preteens if you have any girls who want to check it out:
Twins Youtube channel
A couple thoughts for this Monday...
I felt like I should share this morning a little about my first book. I have spent a lot of time not reading any of it, so it was kind of healing for me to go back and open it up.
I never knew I would write a book, and honestly have felt inadequate in my writing since the minute I felt like I should. But what I do know is God is real. He loves each of us, and believes in us as we do hard things.
I know everyone is fighting their own battles to overcome their past. Just remember, it is not the past that holds us back in our lives. It is what we have come to believe about ourselves about those moments . . . that has tried to break us.
I spent many years believing I wasn't enough, and I am so grateful for the truths that have replaced that lie so I could find myself again.
You can too. You have lived a story, but you are not alone. Even your story has miracles. Even your life is worthy of grace. Don't stop fighting until you find it.
To read this first post on the blog: Click Here
August 18, 2016
Dear Blog, Sorry I have been abandoning you lately. Kids started school and I promise to think of you more often. Haha.
I was able to teach for Mother's Who Know on Tuesday for their girl power class. I think they will have a link to it up on their website, but I recorded some of it as well!
Hope everyone is having a great week and enjoying these last minutes of summer.
I have been cherishing these last few weeks of having my kids to myself, but am so ready to get back to work!
Thanks for listening.
August 3, 2016
It is time to start reserving your seat for St. George. October 22, 2016. See you there.
For more information visit A Reason to Stand
July 27, 2016
One day I was sitting in church. Every prayer that was offered, and for every blessed piece of bread and water, I heard the word REMEMBER. It tugged at me and urged me to learn more.
Some of the definitions of the word remember are:
1. To recall to the mind with effort; think of again
2. To have (something) arise in one's memory; become aware of (something) suddenly or spontaneously
3. To retain in the memory
4. To keep (someone) in mind as worthy of consideration or recognition.
5. Engineering To return to (an original shape or form) after being deformed or altered.
This word—remember—is everywhere in the bible. Our scriptures repeat over and over that we must remember Christ. Remember that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Always remember Him and keep His spirit to be with us.
In 1st Chronicles 16:12 we read: Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth.
In Revelation 3:3 it says: Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
In 3rd Nephi 17:7 it says: Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
After reading just a few scriptures I realized that Christ wanted me to remember that through Him, many have been healed. His miracles have changed hearts, and souls, and bodies, and minds.
So as I was fixated on this word and the call to action that it seemed to be beckoning to me, I began to pray for a glimpse of all it could mean. And instantly I realized that "to remember" was the fulfillment of a promise.
And I believe that when Christ asks us to remember, He is asking us to bring to light all His miracles. Those that are recorded in His Holy books, but even more—those that we have seen in our life.
When we take that bread and water, or whatever rituals we do to commune with Him, I believe He is asking us to look back over our week, our month—and even our life time—to recall the times He was there.
We know that grace is the love of Christ—the pure love of Christ. We anticipate that it can help us be made whole at the end of our lives—when Christ will come and make up for all we could not do.
But what about today? He promised us that He would suffer for all of our pain, our sins, our shortcomings and addictions. So I cannot believe that He will just be waiting in the wings while we hurt alone. I believe He is there. I believe that He plays a role every single day. I believe that when He asks us to remember Him, He is pleading for us to see His hand in our life . . . now.
He was not just a man who walked the earth long ago, or a story we have heard. He lives. He lives in our hearts, but even more He stands by our side, every moment of every day. Through the trauma and lies, through the heart ache and pain, through the laughter and joy.
But what stops us from knowing and feeling and seeing is those lies—beliefs that come with trauma and pain, lies that build and fester in fear and hate—false beliefs that stem from chaos that cause us to forget all that we came here to REMEMBER.
He sent each of us to this earth with truths. One of those truths was the knowledge of the power of grace. Though many have forgotten that promise, it is still available to each of us. No matter where we have been, or what we have failed to see . . . He is there. And each of us is worthy of His love. And it is His love that can heal our pain.
To science He is a mythical part of imagination. To those who have not seen His hand in their life, everything we do is mere coincidence. Every blessing . . . just good luck. Every failure, a shortcoming of another person’s weakness, or proof that we will always fall short.
But to me, He is the only One who is truly real. Though I can’t explain why, He has given me many chances to REMEMBER, and those moments are times I cannot ever forget.
That night in my closet—when I walked in to beg God for a do over—that was the closest to Heaven I have ever been. Though my body had just been through more trauma than I ever knew possible, my spirit was connected to God.
Those promises I felt, and that pure love of Christ that filled those walls—that was the truth. And looking back now, I know that it was God showing me what I had to fight for. Grace. The application of Christ’s love in my life. I felt it stronger in that moment than I ever had in my life, and I will never forget how whole I felt, in a moment when I was truly broken.
And the many hard fears in the hours before, on the couch with those detectives, and even the bumps in the road—that followed in the years to come—were just moments that I could show Him I hadn’t stopped fighting for that love to be part of my life again.
He doesn’t wait for our death; this is the day that grace is going to be applied. The moments we stand in our story and in our heart. Showing Him that we always remember. We get to understand that life is not for nothing. We get to come to the relationship with God that teaches us that we are not alone. We get to understand what grace is: the knowledge of our Savior’s love and the application of His presence in our day, just one of the many gifts He sent us here to REMEMBER.
It is when we are connected to His love—and to the purpose that He sent us here for—that we truly can overcome. It is not the traumatic event that a person has to endure that breaks him or her . . . it is the beliefs that they hold onto that told them they were not enough, that they were forgotten, or alone.
Once you take away those lies and darkness—and replace them with truths and light—the healing power of grace has room to change your life. The past, the present . . . and the future.
I know He lives. I feel Him every day. He knows your name. He is the only one who will ever understand your pain. He can change you, and His power will heal you. You are not forgotten. And—just as He asks us to do—He REMEMBERS you.
For more information on the spiritual trauma healing: Click Here
My letter: Dear Trauma
July 26, 2016
I have received a few emails from the girls that were at this girl's camp wondering if I could send them notes from my talk. I don't have any notes, but we had a bunch of recordings that my twins took on their iPods. They were sitting behind me, so it doesn't make for a great video to watch, but they got a lot of the key parts of my presentation and we put them together the best we could!!
Thanks again for having me Kim! I enjoyed being up there with you guys . . . getting lost, speeding ticket, and all!
July 23, 2016
For the last few years I have shared my heart with the world as a blogger. It is not a title I ever would have chosen for myself, but every day I have learned it is where I was always meant to be.
Along this same journey I have had the opportunity to become a motivational speaker—also not something I would have ever aspired to . . . but still I find myself here.
I have felt very humbled to be in these positions and have spent many days speaking for all different crowds of people, each time learning something new myself.
I have run my own conferences and brought together teams of motivational speakers from all walks of life. In them I have met some of my best friends, all with a different story.
It is crazy how some things in life choose us; many times contrary to every plan we ever set out to live.
So here it is.
The past few months I have been having dreams and many thoughts teaching me about a spiritual trauma healing therapy that I have felt inspired to create. I would like to start working with clients one on one, over the phone or FaceTime, to begin putting it into practice, and learning even more myself.
If you or someone you know would like to sign up please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Space will be limited, but I feel strongly that there are some of you who read this blog that need to learn from this method and I am excited to watch it grow.
Also starting this week, I am going to be booking speaking engagements for the next year so I can get my calendar planned out. If you are interested in booking me for a future event, please contact me ASAP so we can get it set up.
Thank you to the businesses, churches, and organizations that have believed in me these past few years. As daunting as it has been—and how inadequate I have felt—it has shown me where I belong. There have not been many moments in my life when I have felt so close to my Savior then when I have a microphone in my hand on stage speaking of the truths that He has given me—truths about death, truths about forgiveness, truths about worth, truths about healing and choosing to stand, and truths about life.
I have a message I want to share—not because it is easy, but because I believe in this mission. Thank you for supporting me. If you would have asked me a few years ago why . . . why I was willing to open my heart to complete strangers, I would have told you it was because I had the hope to change just one—save one marriage, stop one gun, protect one heart. But the truth is: this mission has saved one. It has saved me.
Thanks for letting me grow, and heal, and follow the prompting to embrace my story.
My name is Ashlee. I am a survivor of infidelity and murder. And I am still standing. I am the survivor of victimhood—and I am still fighting every day to forgive, to overcome, and to bring light to a dark world.
I choose to stand.
I have created a website for my speaking and on one one sessions. Since this will still remain my blog for stories and inspiration, I thought it would be easier to use the new website for information on speaking and trauma healing one-on-ones.
For more information the website is: www.ashleebirk.com
July 21, 2016
Last night I was getting frustrated with my washing machine. A few months back it started acting up and wouldn't add water into the tank. I experimented and found that if I ran it on the delicate cycle it worked just fine. Then I tried the bedding cycle—worked perfectly. So I tried, on the third load, to go back to the normal setting and run it again. Nothing. Dry as a bone.
So for the last few months—instead of calling a repairman like a "normal" person—I have just run the machine on all the settings, except normal. Yesterday my frustrations were reignited when I forgot and tried to run the machine on the normal setting. Figuring out at the end of the cycle that the machine hadn’t even begun to do its job. The clothes had gone through the cycle, but since no water had been added to the machine they were still dry . . . and dirty.
What is normal? A destination we want to reach? What we think others are—and we should want to become? Is the ideal of “normal” something that inspires us to set goals, or just a word that makes us believe we aren’t good enough the way we are?
Normal. It is just a setting on my washing machine, but as of right now, even on my washing machine “normal” is pretty useless.
What is normal in an individual? And in a family? I think we all have an idea of what a family should look like—an ideal setting in which we want to strive to live. As individuals we set goals to become something we are not currently living as, and hopes for what we want others to become. Only in families, when we have our heart set on “normal” we almost always fail, because the truth is: “normal” isn’t real.
NONE of us are normal. And just like my washer, no matter how many times I try to force it into that “setting”—or we try to live in the belief of becoming “normal”—or mistakenly forget that it doesn’t work for us—but accidently try to start using it again—something is going to go wrong. We stop living life as us, and begin aspiring to an unachievable goal. And we go through the motions—of the “normal” life . . . but in the end we are still just a pile of dirty clothes. Sometimes wondering if we are in the wrong place because our path doesn’t look like we thought that it should. Our families feel anything but normal and we start to wonder if our need to feel “normal” would better be achieved somewhere else.
So where do we reach that goal? Can it ever be achieved in the un“normal” settings we have all been placed in? We want to be happy, but our belief that we first have to be normal . . . is making us miserable.
Look at your family. They are everything but “normal” right? Ya. Me too. But they are right where we belong.
Every family looks different. Some have only one parent. Some have no children. Some families are two families blended together into one. Some kids have to go back and forth between two houses—other kids wished they had a house to live. Some children have a birth mom and live with parents who look nothing like them. In some households everyone looks almost exactly the same. Some couples wished they could have a baby—others don’t know what to do with the news that a baby is on the way.
Humans. Not one of us is the same. We each have a story—a unique journey that has made us who we are. Some of us were planned—some of us were surprises. Some of us have dark skin— others have light. Some of us have brown eyes, and others got their blue eyes from a father they have never met. But not one of us is normal. And we were never supposed to be. Unique and different from one person to another—and one family to the next.
So many nights I have cried with a prayerful plea that I could just be “normal” again. Some of these moments have been a cry for the pain to be taken from me; others a hope that my past could be erased. Some days have been a wish that one of our daughters didn’t have to flip flop between two houses, and the others didn’t have to know firsthand what murder was. “Normal” began to be a destination I thought I could fight to reach—but every day I see that it is a mystical place that no one was ever supposed to be.
Satan uses it as a goal we are supposed to strive for, so we always wonder what is wrong with us. Never fully living in our own truths—always having a thought at the back of our mind that our differences keep us from that goal.
So in light of our very un“normal” blended family’s anniversary I petition that we ban the normal setting in our minds—just like my washing machine—and start seeing the good that comes from looking at our families, and ourselves, with the delicate setting as our goal.
God believes in you. He believes in families. He believes in love. He believes in making right our wrongs. He believes in us . . . as broken, blended, delicate, fractured, and imperfect as we are.
So to all my un“normal” friends. Thanks for loving the broken me, that has shared my heart with all of you. Thanks for believing in this far from “normal” blended family that I get to call mine every single day. Thanks for living your stories, as hard and emotional as they have been. For sharing your struggles and triumphs with me and helping me understand how special each journey can be.
Normal really is just a setting on a washing machine—and if you ask me it is over rated. You are delicate, and your life is beautiful. With all the bumps and bruises, and smiles in between.
Five years ago Shawn and I made the biggest decision of our lives. We became a blended family.
Has it been easy? Nope. Were we prepared for it? No. Has it been perfect? Not at all. Have there been days when one or the other of us has thought we made a mistake and wished we could just be "normal"? Absolutely.
But I would do it all again . . .
The crazy part of life is that we never know what it has in store. We can try to map it out, and create plans but the truth is, the only thing we can plan is that our map will have some twists and turns.
Be prepared to take some leaps. Be willing to jump. Have faith that God's plan will be greater than the one you always thought you would live. And then live it. Own it. And make the most of every moment. Like it was all on purpose.
Happy Anniversary to the man who has stood by my side through the hardest of days—but also the sweetest of memories. I don’t know how we made it through, but I am so thankful I am here with you. There has been nothing normal about our life, but I love that we fight every day to live it.
Love you Shawn.
Post about our marriage: