Saturday, February 27, 2016

Forgiveness from Within

A divorce or a wheelchair

change is inevitable.  we all know that.  some changes are easier to accept than others. the change that happened to me in 2011 has been the most difficult thing I've been through.  my whole world changed that year with one small sentence and a signature:

"that the bonds of matrimony  heretofore and now existing between the parties are dissolved and forever set aside, and that the plaintiff is granted a divorce from the defendant." 

and that was it.  my marriage of 18 years, which i thought would be forever, was over.

at the beginning of 2011, my husband decided he needed a change in his life, so he left.  divorce papers were filed in the middle of the year.  by the end of 2011, a divorce was granted.  the most devastating change of my life had occurred.

at times, i wasn't sure i was going to make it through the hardness of what i was going through.  at one point i wondered, if i had a choice, what would i choose:  the year of hell i went through in 1987 when i was in a car accident that left me paralyzed and in a wheelchair; when i sustained multiple internal injuries which almost took my life over and over and over again;  when i spent 6 1/2 months in the hospital just trying to live....or would i choose the year of hell i went through in 2011 when my husband left.  in my mind i chose 1987.   after 5 years of pondering this, i do know divorce is more painful...

through this change in my life, i am learning many great and wonderful things. i've learned that i am stronger than i ever thought. i've learned i can do really hard things. i've learned that i will not break. i've learned kindness, humility, love, patience and hope. i've learned how to truly forgive.  i've learned, amidst the most terrible experience i've been a part of,  life is still a blessing.  you know that expression "what  doesn't kill you only makes you stronger?"  if that statement is true, here's how i feel i should look right about now...


i am steph.  while i may not be able to physically stand,  i will stand for goodness and faith and hope! 

let's roll!


Presenting March 5th, A Reason to Stand. Reserve your seat

Monday, February 22, 2016

How do I forgive me for hurting you?

8 years ago when our son was 16 years old, our church leader recommended we check out the Sons of Helaman program.  Our son's struggle with unwanted patterns of behavior started at 11 and we discovered his need for support when he was 13.  We were devastated and afraid when we realized how far things had escalated and were shocked to find out that our noble, good son was in the bonds of addiction to masturbation and pornography.

The shame I felt as a mother was overwhelming.  I was tormented with thoughts of blaming myself for his addiction.  I had so much to learn about my son, myself and especially the power of the Savior and his atonement.

I’ll never forget the day my son came home from attending his second week in group.  He yelled, “Mom!” from our back entry.  As he was not a young man to do that, I wondered what had gone wrong at group.  When I came upon him he was bent over, visibly shaking with emotion - trying to compose himself enough to communicate something to me.  I stood there waiting and wondering, not knowing whether to be worried or hopeful.  Finally he gave up and with ferocity and emotion I had never seen, he put his hands on my shoulders and said; “Mom, I am not the enemy.  I have an enemy and he’s afraid of me.  He knows I’m awesome.  He’s trying to take me out so I can’t become the man I’m supposed to be.  I’m not a pathetic loser! I’m not my enemy…he is!  He’s going down!!”

It was this shift in my son and the intense honorable efforts of his personal call to arms that inspired a shift in me.  I began to realize as a "Mother Who Knows", I too had an enemy who was trying to take me out and decrease my confidence.  I too, could stand with ferocity right along my son and say; “You messed with the wrong mom!”  

Karen is very passionate about sharing the message that we are all warriors for truth and freedom…heroes for ourselves and those around us.  Our joy and personal power skyrockets once we have the knowledge and tools to remember who we are.  We are in a war against the darkness of this world. Despite the wounds we will all face and the losses we feel; our cause is glorious!  We can claim our noble birthright to stand as a Witness.  

Through the grace of our Savior and Champion Jesus Christ we will win!  As women and daughters, we are God's secret weapon.  Even in our relentless weakness we are fierce protectors.  We fight and bear pain with those who are wounded in a way no one else can.  Our ability to believe and have hope in darkness and hold on till the light comes, makes us formidable targets in this war.  

As women, we know we are not the Savior in this war, but rather "atmosphere angels" who can change the very tide of the battle. We know where our power and strength comes from. We are safe, strong, peaceful and protective warriors.  

We call all those we love to arms for this great cause of truth and freedom for our families.

Presenting March 4th ONLINE A Reason to Stand. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Prisoner's Perspective: Moving on from My Mistakes

Ja'Nette Spencer was sentence to 54 months in a state penitentiary for Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular assault, following a drunk driving accident she caused at the age of 19.  Finding herself racked with guilt, shame, and remorse, it was difficult to see there was a life worth living waiting to be found.  How could she ever deserve to be happy again when she had done something so terrible?  How would she ever break through the feelings that overwhelmed, depressed, and suffocated her each day she woke up?  How could she see a future full of light from within dark prison walls?  As the perpetrator, how does one move on from their mistakes and forgive themselves?  Join Ja'Nette as she speaks about our intrinsic value and how our choices and mistakes do not change our worth.  Ja'Nette will share with guests how there are moments we must stand and find forgiveness within ourselves even when we have done something that most would find unforgivable.  Now a happy homeschooling mother with 6 daughters, a woman of faith, and wife to a man she met while serving her sentence, Ja'Nette has been speaking to various audiences about her experiences and lessons learned for 8 years, often visiting different prisons to share her messages on intrinsic value and the endless potential we all have to find joy and be at peace with our past.  

"My name is Ja'Nette Spencer and while in prison, I was known as Inmate 885648.  I used to think my value was like that number - something that could be specifically measured, based on a sliding scale that recorded the things I have done wrong and what I have done right.  Through my experiences of causing and surviving a fatal car accident while under the influence as a teenager, and the subsequent prison sentence that ensued, I went on a journey to discover what was left of my life that was worth living for.  I want to share what I learned about how we can move on from the most minor mistakes to ones that have devastated our lives and the lives of those around us, and find peace and joy again, or perhaps discover it for the first time. The capacity to do these things is right there, waiting within us.  Just like the most powerful condemnation of ourselves often comes from within, so does the ability to forgive ourselves our mistakes and completely and confidently move on."

Please join Ja'Nette at A Reason to Stand to learn more about her journey of forgiveness. March 5th Boise Centre on the Grove. Reserve you seat

Presenters List

Friday, February 19, 2016

Idaho Living

Idaho Living and I talk about grief and healing and A Reason to Stand.  

What I learned the night I got to chose if I was going to live or die

One of the earliest memories I have of my father was when I visited the beach with my family. I was very young. I remember being thrilled by the waves and the water! I remember the smell in the air and how fascinated I was by the feel of the sand under my toes. I remember my Father warning me to be careful as I stepped into the waves. I did not know how to swim.  Next thing I knew I was under the water, unable to find my footing, and watching the bubbles in the waves sweep back and forth above me. I began to panic and then a thought came to my mind, “Daddy will come”.  I KNEW that my father would be there to pull me to safety. I stopped struggling, looked up through the water and waited. Moments later my fathers face appeared over me and I was scooped up out of harms way.

This is one of the only memories I have of my childhood.

My name is Annie McGee and on June 19, 1995 I was in a near fatal car accident. In a trip from Washington to Utah I fell asleep at the wheel of my SUV and without hitting the brakes; rolled and cart wheeled my way down the median of an Idaho Highway.

Just as my earthly father came to save me from danger on the beach , my Heavenly Father came to deliver me that day with a choice. A second chance. To live or to die. I had a near death experience or NDE. I came to know of a God who is my FATHER first and foremost. I experienced love, light, healing, acceptance, and felt His intimate nature. I learned that I was a spiritual being having a mortal experience. I learned that we live on after death.  I was given a choice to stay in heaven and take the more peaceful road.  Or come back, suffer, struggle, learn, and find my purpose in life.

I have another memory of my mortal father. This time it was of him as a radiologist.  Shortly after the accident, I came out of an MRI tube, immobilized; but waiting again for my father. Just like that day on the beach.  I lay staring at the ceiling in anxiety for the news on the condition of my body. Once again, there he was, standing over me; reassuring me, loving me, supporting me.

In the years that have followed my NDE to say I have struggled is an understatement. I am a survivor. I have lived through debilitating physical injuries and surgeries, a traumatic brain injury, sexual and domestic abuse, infidelity, a high conflict divorce, post traumatic stress disorder, amnesia, depression, and the challenge of raising special needs children.

We all have trial. Some are the result of poor choices, while other trial comes as a result of another's actions. Some trial cannot be explained. Life is unfair for everyone in one way or another. However, adversity is a gift. Pain can be the great teacher.  Without it how would we know light from darkness? Happiness from despair? Peace verse strife or the freeing power of forgiveness? Resistance makes us strong. Every day is a second chance. Do we check out, leave, take the easy road? OR come back fighting, accepting all the help offered and grace from heaven along the way.

What has carried me through these last 20 years? My fathers. I know that no matter what condition I am in, if I look up and wait,  my Heavenly Father will be there to scoop me up out of the waves. And I know that my earthly father will always come to my aid. This support and the love of many around me, has guided me through my darkest moments into the light. Especially the powerful light of forgiveness. Forgiveness to others, forgiveness of ourselves, and forgiveness to God. 

We are not here by accident. Each one of us has a purpose and mission in life. We are here to discover it and live it with joy! There is a Father in Heaven who is mindful of our every need.  Even when we are under the water, feeling the waves pull us down, waiting for deliverance. 
Presenting at the Boise Centre on the Grove. March 5th. Tickets to reserve your seat today! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

March 4th (webinar online) and 5th (Live Boise, Idaho)

Boise Idaho 
March 5, 2016
Boise Centre on the Grove

And so excited to announce a Friday online day!! Hope to see you all there. March 4th (10am-3pm) A Reason to Stand: ONLINE  sponsored by . . .

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Meet Lauri Mackey

Sometimes it is relevant to begin at the end. I am living proof that happy endings are absolutely possible. Happily married, living the dream of blogging, vlogging, public speaking and soon to be podcasting, mother of three, grandmother of two, and still out there head coaching the local high school mountain bike team. My name is Lauri Mackey. I am 45 years old and have become a self-proclaimed crusader for creating positivity in the lives of women who have found themselves in a slump over past decisions that are holding them back in their current lives.

Statistics and odds are completely against those of us who chose to take harder paths than others, but I wouldn’t want to change the journey that brought me to this destination. If someone would have told me thirty years ago that I would have to endure certain trials in order to reach the destination of happiness, I hope I would have heartily said, “Sign me up!”

My goal is to take my story to the masses because I honestly feel that if I can make it...anyone can! I mean that honestly and sincerely. There is hope! And once you believe in yourself, it is possible to feel hope that others can and will make it as well.

I don’t believe in mincing words or beating around the bush. I am a reality driven, give me action steps, follow a plan kind of gal. I do believe that hearing others stories can create the impetus one might need to begin their own journey of healing. I have grown to appreciate my journey. To accept that the path I chose may have been difficult, but it has helped me grow into the person I am now and will help me continue to grow into the person I want to be when I grow up. 
Presenting for A Reason to Stand March 5th Boise Idaho. To reserve your seat visit Tickets

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lenaya and Larissa

Another post by one of our presenters for March 5th in Boise. Excited to learn from you ladies.


All my life people have both encouraged me to write this, and then later, begged me not to.  It doesn’t matter; I was always going to write this.  However, after I had a child, the details and the point of telling my story changed. No longer did I feel the need to go into graphic details of my sordid past.  Instead, I find myself wanting, no needing, to tell my story of recovery, redemption, and fulfillment…...ultimately, my story of hope. So, gory details aside… here is my story.
 It’s like a dream.  I close my eyes sometimes and vivid memories flash like pictures on an electronic frame.  Sometimes I can’t grasp what my memory tells me, others, I feel as if those memories are actually recollections of a movie I watched a long time ago.  I am not a participator, but rather a voyeur.  I see what is happening, but I cannot come to terms with those pictures being me. They are some other girl; or not a person at all; some actress, with memorized lines and no real-life consequences.  Surely that person is dead.  Surely something terrible happened to her. Surely, positively, absolutely, that person is not me! My memories are as intangible as a dream.  Often I can’t pull them from my brain on demand.  At other times, they will pop into my head so suddenly and dramatically, they can be all but debilitating, paralyzing. Many memories are gone—lost to the world where details float around like bubbles.  Somewhere in my brain are a million memories kept secret, protecting me from anguish.  Unfortunately, so many positive memories are gone as well. There likely are portions of my brain which are permanently damaged due to years of substance abuse. Though I consider myself intelligent, I wonder what would my brain would be like without the barrage of misuse.  Certainly my brain would be different in more ways than one had I gone down a different path, lived an alternate life, had revisionist memories. But I didn’t; and that’s okay.
It’s challenging to determine where this story begins.  I’ve had so many life-defining moments in my past.  I can’t articulate a specific, ‘this is the moment it all changed’ experience.  It was more imperceptible than that; more gradual. It sounds so cliché, but it truly was this slippery slope where once I set foot on the edge, I just slid down.  In many respects it was impossible to prevent.  My parents have asked multiple times what they could have done differently, how they could have prevented this.  My answer is, and always will be: “nothing.”  There is absolutely nothing they could have done differently.  There are plenty of things that I could have changed, but I was utterly unwilling.  Also, it couldn’t have been, I couldn’t have been without those choices; so many choices.  

It is impossible to describe the exquisite pain that comes from watching a loved one stray from the path.  When someone you love dies, you have hope to see them again someday.  When someone is “dead” spiritually speaking, you live with the fear that they may be lost to you forever.  For many years I searched for a magic word that would somehow transform my sister.   There must be some single act that would help her see the light and turn her into a new person.  If I could just have the perfect conversation, then she would have clarity and change.  This feeling was perpetuated by the shows I watched and books I read where everything could be resolved in 60 minutes or under 300 pages.  I came to understand that ministering is unique to each situation.  It is not one action but a multitude of actions over an indefinite period of time.  The creation of a true relationship is inherent in ministering.   While I thought that I was working to change my sister, I came to ultimately understand that I needed to change myself to be able to help her.
I didn’t come pre-packaged with all the skills that I needed to minister to my sister.  I needed to develop a new sensitivity and ability to relate to her, even when she was living a life opposite of mine.  I needed to learn where I would set my boundaries but all the time our situation required unconditional Christ-like love.  The process of ministering to her actually changed me and made me a better person.  It turned me toward the Lord, and sent me to my knees in my hours of anguish.
I finally learned that nothing I said could change my sister.  She could only be changed by turning to the Lord, and that would happen in its own time and in its own way.  I could minister to her, but only Christ’s atoning power would have the ability to heal her.

Get your seat reserved. tickets

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have

Life tends to throw unexpected curve-balls at you, and most of the time, it is when you are not ready for them. Sometimes, you are so shocked that you fall, and while you’re lying on the ground, dazed and confused about what to do next, you have two options: you can stay down there, or you can get back up, wipe your hands, and stand back up. If you lie down, you allow defeat. If you stand back up, Life will throw more curve-balls. The decision is yours. Do you keep going? 

I believe that life is a continuous battle between what is easy and what is right. I also believe that it is through the hard times that we become stronger. Like a diamond, we are scorched, repaired, and eventually refined to become the most beautiful that we could ever be.

My name is Jensen Parrish Hall. On February 22, 2014, my mother, father, and two youngest brothers were killed in a carbon monoxide accident. There was a malfunction in our water heater, and the poisonous gas filled our home. At the time, I was serving an LDS mission in Portland, Oregon. My brother, Ian Parrish, was also serving a mission in Rapid City, South Dakota. We were sent home immediately to figure out funeral plans and be with our families. 

I’ll never forget the night I found out. My mission president and his wife were the ones to tell me. Later on, as I laid in bed, unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep, a thought came into my head. It said, “Jensen. This is going to be hard. You need to make a decision. Are you going to become bitter and angry, or are you going to trust me?” Though my world felt broken and confused, and though fear was in my heart, I remember deciding I was going to be strong. 

I thought that first week would be the hardest experience. Overtime, I realized that was not true. It was only the start of many hard days that would come. What kept me going over the last two years since my parents and brothers passed away was my faith in my Savior, Jesus Christ. Not long after the funeral, I began a blog that I titled “A New Normal.” I shared many of my thoughts about life, death, faith, and enduring to the end. I wrote because it gave me a sense of purpose. Soon, my blog became popular all over the world! I truly believe that even when terrible circumstances happen, we can be tools of good in the world. I am truly grateful for the opportunity that I have had to write about my experiences and see the growth within myself.

Overtime, I have learned the strength that I have within me is not my own, but it is through my faith in God that has kept my head held high through times of struggle. I used to believe that the Lord would never give you something that you cannot handle, that he will give you a limit to your trials. I realize now that is not the case. He will give you trials that will allow you to fall to your knees to ask for his help and guidance. It is through His grace that we are able to get back up and keep going, and as we endure, we become stronger and more knowledgeable. He will give you trials that causes you to search deep within you to discover who you are, and whose you are. 

Jensen will be presenting on March 5th A Reason to Stand. Reserve your tickets today! 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Getting to Know... Veronica Clarke

I asked each of the presenters if they wanted to share something on this website before the conference to write up a little bit about their story. So for the next few weeks we can get to know them a little bit better. 

Veronica Clarke

At age 39 I became a widow when my husband’s plane unexpectedly crashed. With my support and best friend gone, the temptation was very real to sink into utter despair. Fortunately, the pull of light and hope was stronger. A tender mercy occurred less than an hour before the accident that set the stage for that decision. I was walking with my children on our favorite trail, watching them interact with each other.  A feeling of love, peace, and profound gratitude came over me. Then the thought entered my mind, “If something happens to Scott, you will be okay. You could still be happy. This would be enough.” The feeling of peace was so profound that no worry accompanied that thought, and I simply dismissed it. 

The next morning when my mother-in-law called to tell me that the plane had not landed the night before, my mind was taken back to words from the previous night. I knew that God had prepared me for this moment. Once again that feeling of peace overwhelmed me, and I heard new words in my mind, “This was supposed to happen. We chose this. You have to be strong. This will heal many hearts. Now go and figure out how you are going to tell the kids.”

The way that these words impressed upon my soul was so complete that it left no room for doubt.  They have become core guiding principles in my life as I have turned to God to discover His plan for me and the deeper meaning behind that message.

Over the past three years I have learned to trust the voice in my head that tells me to do good, reveals truth, and fills me with peace.  I have learned that that voice is from God, and it is given to comfort, guide, and teach us what He would have us know. Learning to hear that voice has not always been as easy as it was that tragic day.  For the first ten months I struggled daily with my emotions.  I didn’t understand how the death of my husband could become something good, how it could be part of God’s plan, let alone something I might have chosen prior to birth.

I fought to try to recreate my life.  I watched additional legal, financial and other temporal concerns pile on my already over burdened load.  It was crushing and, I crumbled under the weight of each new problem. In those moments of exhaustion a refining thing happened. I began to let go of my plan, and I began to ask God for help. My broken and humble soul pleaded and reached out to Him for guidance and direction.  I began to study His word more, to pray, and to record the thoughts that came into my mind.  Little by little, I was able to set aside my desires and plans in favor of the ones He wanted me to have. Still, it was a struggle for me to completely submit and trust Him.

About ten months out, after struggling with plans to move that just would not come to fruition, I threw my hands up into the air and said, “I give up. I am done fighting this fight. I promise that will do whatever you want me to do, I will follow any good thought, if you will just take care of me and my children.”

I started really heeding that voice to do good. I battled to overcome the intense emotions and personal desires that blocked the still small voice.  I began to pray to know how to better use my time.   I learned to set non-critical tasks aside in favor of a thought to help someone in need. I began to reach out to other widows and to blog.

That covenant to consecrate my life marked the beginning of a new path. Everyday as I trust God and listen for His guiding voice, I come to better understand His plan. In the beginning, I never could have comprehended the ‘hearts’ that would be “healed,’ yet as I trust in God, I continue to watch miraculously as His’s plan unfolds.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Book Giveaway and Tickets to A Reason to Stand

Just in time for Valentines Day I want to give away a ticket to A Reason to Stand online day March 4th along with both of my books. (or if the winner will be in the Boise Idaho area, you can have the option to get a ticket for the live event on March 5th)

To enter: Leave a comment on something you love about yourself

I will pick a winner on Valentines Day. One here, one on Facebook, and one on Instagram, and The Moments We Stand. Love yourself this week!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Forgiveness from Within

Online March 4th and live at the Boise Center on the Grove March 5th. Forgiveness from Within.