Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Forever Remembered and Cherished

A year has passed since this wonderful father, husband, grandpa, son, friend, and boss passed away that late afternoon on Monday, May 20th. It was a day that none of us will ever forget. I claim it was the worst day in my life. But at the same time after having a year to ponder and organize my feelings and thoughts, it was a day of so much gratitude. Yes, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Dad and friend but what wonderful memories we have of him. I’m grateful everyday that I had such a great relationship with my father. He knew me so well and loved me so much. Up until his death and probably still now he worried about me. He knew my struggles and heart breaks. He hoped for so much for me. And for that I am the luckiest to have a dad who did all that and so much more!

From an early age my Dad taught me to reach for the stars. He taught my sisters and I the importance of achieving personal goals. He shared with us a strong work ethic and the importance of making something of yourself no matter your circumstances. I remember being a child and wanting to become a teacher so badly. Many told me that teaching wasn’t the best field to go into as teachers don’t make much money. But my father stood behind my goal and supported me all the way through college and then into my first teaching job at Pony Express Elementary. He bragged to his buddies about his baby girl becoming a teacher and teaching those 4th graders in Eagle Mountain. You would’ve thought I had become a famous movie star because of the way he cherished my profession. He spent many hours helping me with my classroom and listening to my teaching stories. I will always take a little of my dad with me to every school I teach in because he was a huge part of me becoming a teacher! I learned from him how to make differences in other people’s lives. He served others so well and I know by watching him that I hope to continue to do the same throughout my life and in my career.

Family was so important my Dad. Many of my friends growing up loved coming to my house and being a part of my family. My dad loved his wife and children and wanted to spend as much time with us as he could. I remember when Jon and I started dating and how surprised Jon was when he would come to family functions and we would all just spend hours and hours laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Many families don’t have that and I know from my father that cherishing time with your family and loving one another is so important. 

My Dad loved having fun. Whether it was a day on the tennis court or a weekend at Lake Powell, my dad loved doing fun things and being active. We as a family travelled and vacationed to many places. If it meant getting his family together we would go anywhere! My Dad loved his toys. He had a boat, motorcycle, 4 wheeler (well technically that was mine.... I think), BMW and the list goes on. There wasn’t one thing my Dad never tried! His one love was tennis! During the last 5 years of his life he lived on the tennis court. He made so many friends with his tennis buddies. He was made the president of the Trilogy Tennis Club and did so many wonderful things for the community and tennis players. He tried to teach us how to play tennis and I can say I do love to place tennis but I don’t think I’m very good! Sorry Dad!

I have so many memories of my Dad and will forever hold those close to my heart. But one things that I have that is only mine, is my adventure with my Dad to China. At the time I was very nervous about traveling across the world, being away from my husband, and going to a very small town in China where they have nothing! Now since my Dad has passed, those memories I will cherish for forever! I am so glad my Dad took me to China and showed me that country. It softened my heart and taught me how lucky each of us are. Not only did it give me a humility check, it was an adventure only I was able to do with my dad. I walked on the Great Wall of China with my Dad. I sat by his side as he treated dental patients in Suquin, China. I tried disgusting food with him. I got to spend almost 2 weeks just him and I together as father and daughter! I will never forget those times. 

Nor will I ever forget any memories I have of my Dad. He is such an inspiration to me! Everyday I wake up and think of him. I think of the way he would react in certain circumstances. I try to act like him because I know the good man he always was. He was such a dear friend to so many people. I hope to be that same kind of friend to those around me like he was. As the years pass by and we go on with our lives, I will forever hold my Dad close to my heart! I have things around my house that remind me of him and of the amazing guy he was! I know without a doubt he is so happy right now! He is cheering me on through my life! I know he is up in heaven playing with my children! I know he will have a hand in helping us have that family that Jon and I have hoped and prayed for so long! This past year I have been made a stronger person for going through these trials of losing my Dad, but I have gained so much confidence in my knowledge of what happens after we end our earth life. I know he is looking down and protecting me and my family every moment of the day! 

Included is a link to view my memorial video I put together last year for my Dad's funeral.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Leaving Colorful Colorado

In less than two weeks Jon and I will be heading out on yet another adventure. Answers to our prayers have led us back to our "home" of Arizona. This past year we have been faced with many trials and through it all what has helped us most is our family and friends. We know being closer to them will help as we begin new things in both of our lives.

If you would've asked me 3 years ago if I would ever go back to Arizona, I would've said, "I wish!" But, now it's actually happening. Before we go and before the craziness of moving is among us, I wanted to sit down and write my thoughts down of our experiences in Colorado.

Four and a half years ago Jon came to Colorado by himself to begin graduate school at University of Colorado Denver. He got himself a VERY small studio apartment in the ghetto of Aurora, CO and began our adventure by himself. I stayed back and moved in with my parents in Gilbert to finish out my year teaching in Arizona. That was at the time the hardest thing we had been through, living 600 miles apart. I joined Jon in June 2010 and we started our new life in Colorado. We fell in love with this place. We loved the beautiful summer weather and quickly we found out unexpectedly I was pregnant! We were so excited to be in a place and with baby on the way!  That summer I made friends at school. We both got great callings in our new ward one in young women and Jon in primary.  However, later that summer we quickly found our lives weren't exactly going the way we hoped. Not being able to control anything, we lost our baby girl due to a neural tube defect only being 13 weeks along. That began our toughest trial as a couple. We tried again to get pregnant for another 2 years and nothing happened. It weighed on both of us heavily and we both bargained with our Heavenly Father hoping and praying something would happened.... it didn't. I began seeing a fertility specialist and both Jon and I seemed to have nothing seriously wrong with us. Minor complications but nothing that was going to cause infertility. For a year I went through ups and downs of trying different methods to get pregnant.... nothing but surgery after surgery! My frustrations began to take over my life. I felt so inadequate and a failure to Jon as a wife. I would be promised by my doctor that this time it would work and it never did. Finally getting ready to start a round of IVF that seemed to be hopeful my body wasn't responding and they didn't even get to the shots. I was so upset a year ago back in April 2013 asking why wasn't my body responding. A month later I realized quickly there was a reason to why I couldn't handle a pregnancy or the IVF treatments. Another life altering event happened unexpectedly. My father passed away May 20, 2013 due to heart complications and it sent me into a whirlwind as it did to all my family. I already wasn't stable but this caused me to become a different person. I was filled with anger, rage, resentment, doubt, and so much more. I longed for myself. I wanted to be that girl I knew I was. The Ashlyn who was happy and always smiling. During a Thanksgiving dinner with my family and having a heart to heart with my sister, I realized I needed help. I was suffering from depression and I wasn't willing to admit it. I was digging a deeper hole and all my family knew I needed to start talking to someone. I always said it was like I was outside of my body seeing a totally different person in myself.

It's now almost a year since my Dad's death and I can finally say I'm feeling like myself again. I have the strength now to get through things. I've been through a lot these past few years but I'm grateful every day for what I have become through it all. I am a stronger woman now. This journey in Colorado has taught me so much. I truly know Jon and I were guided to come here for those exact reasons. It made us grow closer to one another through our hard times and has prepared us for the future. I met some of the most amazing people while living here who have been my stability and have helped me along the way! I've realized that family even though we are related, sometimes we don't see eye to eye. I've learned who truly cares about me and want whats best for Jon and I. I wouldn't take back any of our experiences here in Colorado because they have given me strength to overcome anything. I'm strong because of what I've been through during the last 4 years. Colorado I will miss you. I will miss the fun memories. I will hold close the last friendships I have made. But most importantly I will remember what I have become through this all.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Healing Power of Grief

A couple years ago I was faced with a trial that I thought was one of the worst anyone could be given. Infertility to me was something I struggled forgiving myself for. This condition isn't my fault or my husband's but it was a trial we have been faced with. I emotionally thought I couldn't handle anymore, but I was clearly wrong. Many of us have heard the saying, "When it rains.... it pours." For me that is always the case. 

10 months ago on May 20th, 2013 during my trial of infertility woes, my father passed away unexpectedly due to heart complications. It was something my family was afraid to face. We knew this day would come but didn't think it would happen so suddenly. I was already a mess dealing with my prior trials and this compounded it all. I lost the one person who had confidence in me. The one person who was my biggest cheerleader through all my challenges. I lost the one person most dearest to me! It was the one person I couldn't wait for my children to meet and call Grandpa! I't took many months to deal with this grief. It was the moment when I had lost control of myself. I was acting in ways I have never done before. I was feeling hopeless. I had lost my self worth. I felt like a completely different person. Jon and I knew I had to get help. I began closing people out of my life and keeping everything in. 

This past December I began seeing a therapist. It was something I never thought I would ever have to do. I was afraid of telling people that I was going to get help. I told people I was going to an appointment but never told what for. After visiting with my therapist for a few months, I began to be more comfortable with this idea of therapy. I realized it was indeed something I needed. I was grieving. I needed someone to talk to that could help me sort out my feelings and thoughts. I've been taught the stages of grief and how to handle each stage. I've started to feel like I'm myself again. It's taken time and I know I'm not healed yet. One thing we spoke about at my last therapy session was these next few months. How am I going to deal with the year mark of my father's death? What can I do to celebrate his life? It has been very important for me to focus on positives and and the joy that my father brought to my life and many others. I hope the next few weeks leading up to that day in May, I can remember the great times with my Dad. I hope I can be there for my mother and family members. I want others to know of a great man he was. I also want others to believe and trust in the faith that we will see him again! I know my Dad is watching over me. I feel him all the time. I'm so grateful for the blessings I have and for having such a wonderful influence in my life. He is in my heart forever.

A wonderful article that all should read was in the Ensign in January. The article is titled,

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Days Before the Internet

Ever think about what we did before the internet? I was driving home from church today and started thinking about how the internet and modern technology has changed my life and how much time I spend doing things like updating Facebook, viewing photos on Instagram, pinning great ideas that I probably will never use and checking my email for junk.

I've been fortunate to have the internet during most of my life and I remember vividly being in middle school when my family got AOL with a dial up modem. Yes back then the internet was VERY slow and ran through our home phone line. And yes we had home phones back then and they are pretty much extinct now in 2014 due to smart phones. I didn't own my first cell phone until I went to college. I remember being so excited for my Nokia brick. Then later upgraded to a flip phone. Back then I thought my cell phone could do it all.... I had no idea what the future held for each of us. Now we have access to everything on our phones. I'm glued to my iPhone. I use it for everything including; phone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, weather forecasts, bank statements, games, reading, and much more!

So what did we do before the internet and smartphones? I know I spent time doing more things like enjoying the outdoors, being with my family (not sitting together while we are all on our phones), doing things that I enjoyed (hobbies- I've come to realize I don't know what my hobbies are these days because of the lack of time I have). It's sad to think of how simple life was before all this and it scares me a bit to think of the future. In just the 30 years I've been alive, we have moved so rapidly with technology that it's scary to think of what 10 years from now will be like.

As much as I wish I could have a simpler life like I had before modern technology, I'm still very grateful for what this technology has done for me. I was able to go to college and be trained to teach children using a variety of technology tools. My father and many other family members were blessed with modern technology in the healthcare system. I was blessed by having the opportunity to fight my battle with infertility and be a part of so many great things that those struggling to have a family can now benefit from. I'm lucky to be able to communicate with my family near and far and keep up to date with everyone. Last but not least I am able to research and study my genealogy and keep record of my own life using the internet.

We are all blessed because of the many uses of modern technology. But I hope I will remember to use my time wisely and try to live a simpler life like that of one who didn't have the internet say 15 years ago.

Do you remember?

Friday, March 7, 2014

About Time

Yesterday a dear friend of mine suggested that I should watch a movie called, "About Time." I was very curious when she mentioned that I would benefit and really enjoy this emotional movie. Benefit from an emotional movie? Really.... that sounds a bit odd.

Anyway, I went and rented the movie and began watching it. It's one of those shows you have to give time because it's very slow at the beginning but I completely understand why she said it's worth the time watching it and I truly benefitted from this story and it's message.

The movie is about a man who has the power to travel back in time. As he goes on through life and faces trials and celebrates joys, he gains knowledge from his ability to change things and learn from past experiences by having a "do over."

I connected so much to this movie because this year I have battled so much with some of the hardest trials I have been faced with. I've had to let go of things of the past and move forward with the future. That is one of the most challenging things to do. As we say hello to the future, we must say goodbye to the past. In the movie the man learns after losing his father and battling through life's challenges, that he doesn't need to travel back in time to fix things any longer... he just needs to remember the following;

"I just try to live everyday as if I have deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it.... As if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life."

I hope I can remember this and truly live each day by enjoying it. I will cherish the memories of the past and look forward to those of the future.

Friday, February 21, 2014


About 36 hours ago I thought I would become a Photoshop expert. After many videos and exploring, I can honestly say this new hobby of mine that I thought would be easy, definitely will take time. I'm crafty. I love to scrapbook and I am fast and good with the computer. You would think those skills would come in handy for Photoshop but I was VERY wrong. I feel like I am learning a new language. All the buttons, commands and the endless possibilities of layers and tools. I have played around and finally finished ONE page. Yes that is right I used someone else's free template and moved things around, cropped some photos and added my text. I wish I could give myself credit on this one, but at least I'm learning... SLOWLY. Maybe one day I will be able to make a page myself.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Journal keeping has always been one thing that I have always wanted to do better at. I have kept many different journals in my lifetime. I started with simple diaries as a young child and teenager that included the joys of adolescence. These diaries got retired during college and I began writing in a journal where I celebrated triumphs and also poured out my emotions during difficult times as I entered into adulthood. I’ve never stayed very consistent with any record keeping and last night I was inspired by lessons taught at a church meeting that I attended for women about journal keeping.

Even though my family is very small right now, what am I doing to leave a legacy for my family in the future? Am I wasting time documenting on social media instead of writing my thoughts and sharing photos of my life for the future generations? 

I’ve been taught lately by someone dear to me who has helped me realize the importance of writing my thoughts down. I’ve been through so much in the last year that I’ve continued to hold things in and I’m just starting to learn that that isn’t the best thing to do. Journal keeping is that tool that everyone can use to get their thoughts out. Whether they will be kept private or displayed for all to read, we should write things down. 

I’ve decided to continue to blog personally. Whether or not I have 100 followers or just one, the most important reason to blog is for myself and for my family to read in the future. This digital time that we live in, we can have been given so many tools and blogging is one of those. The possibilities are endless and I hope my words inspire those who read and that they will be keepsakes to my family who I love dearly. I want to share my love for things that mean the world to me. I want to discuss feelings and thoughts that I encounter. I want to testify of my love for God and the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I want to express gratitude each and every day and all this will be done with writing my feelings and thoughts down on this blog and in my personal journals.