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All In

Throughout our marriage there have been times when one of us wasn’t able (or let’s face it, sometimes not willing) to step up to the plate, so to speak and do their share.

((Like this time, when I was so sick from a serious complication from having my gallbladder removed. I suffered a bile leak about a week after I got home, which turned into a liver abscess, which eventually turned into sepsis, that permanently damaged my liver. We were new parents to a 6 month old baby at the time. My hubby is a high level hockey coach and travels 3-4 days a week during the season with his team. He balanced taking care of me, shuttling me back and forth to the doctors and the hospital almost daily, administering my IV antibiotics at home for 6 weeks, caring for our infant baby, who refused to take a bottle at the time, he cooked, he cleaned, he juggled scheduling people coming over to our home to help care for me, as our extended family lives 10 hours away. He did all this- without skipping a beat. Just because its what you do, its what you have to do to survive. There is NO way I could ever make it up to him or repay him for all he sacrificed for us during this difficult time where I was literally fighting for my life.))

There have been times when one of us had to do way more than our (quote, unquote) fair share. But you know what, that’s okay. Because I know eventually he will need me to step up and do more, or I will need him to do more. That’s what a team does. It’s not about being divided equally in half. It’s about working together as ONE.

Marriage isn’t about giving a half-hearted attempt. It is not meant to be transactional. Meaning, I’ll do this ONLY if you so that. That is a business transaction not a relationship. That’s keeping score and using it against the other person.

A good marriage, a great marriage – is about giving your ALL, even if the other person can’t. And even if they won’t.

• In a 100/100 marriage, you don’t keep score.

• In a 100/100 marriage, you give even when giving is hard. Even when you don’t want to give. Even when you feel like you have nothing left to give.

• In a 100/100 marriage, you give your all, holding nothing back, even if you don’t get anything in return. Even if you feel like you might be doing more than the other person.

• In a 100/100 marriage, you give, because you love, unconditionally. You give them your all.

Now, Hopefully- Your spouse will see that you are ALL IN and they will return the favor and love that you are giving, but hear me out… Even if they don’t return it-

Your wedding VOWS–

Your PROMISE,

Your COMMITMENT,

Those things, You made before God, before your friends and before your family–

They are NOT based upon on your spouse and what they do and what they don’t do.

They are based on you,

And what YOU DO.

They are based upon the commitment you made to your spouse and to God.

A 100/100 marriage is not easy.

But it is worth it.

{**Disclaimer**- I will be the first person to tell you the only instance in when this is NOT TRUE is when you are being abused, manipulated and blatantly mistreated by your spouse. If you think you are being abused or are in an abusive situation (mental or physical) – Please take it from me- I was in a very seriously abusive relationship before I met my current husband, and didn’t realize it until it was too late. Please if you are being abused- Seek help NOW. }

Massage Retreat

😳 I’ve been so busy toddler-proofing I totally forgot to mention something HUGE happening this week!!! 🙌🏼

👉🏼 I’m headed out to OCEAN CITY, MD on Thursday to provide MASSAGES at Retreat for the LADIES at @The Crossing Church !!

As some of you know – I lived out on the East Coast for about 12 years. I owned my own Massage Therapy business & my friend Stephanie asked if I would consider doing massages for the ladies at a retreat for her church years ago. 💆🏼

I’m pretty sure the first year I turned her down, because I was worried about being around “church people.” Sigh.

But a year later, I eventually I said yes- thinking it would be a great way to make some extra cash and get my name out about my business.

They put us up in a fancy hotel & invited me to take part in their Bible Study and other activities while I was there,

But at that time God was not a huge part of my life.

In fact He was probably the last thing on my mind.

I kindly turned them down, I didn’t want to take part in the extra things at the retreat- BUT I did massages for the ladies all weekend & really enjoyed myself!! I remember going home feeling so full & refreshed just from speaking with all of them!

Little did I know, that one weekend years ago would plant a seed in my heart that would take YEARS and YEARS to grow. 🌸 They invited me back year after year to do massages. The demand got so high I had to invite another therapist to come with me!! There were just too many ladies for me to massage by myself in one weekend!

I invited one of my favorite massage therapists & dear friend, Carolyn to come along with me. She brought her Bible & took part in the studies and other fun things they had planned. I just hung out, rested & slept in my room in between massages. The ladies still welcomed me, made me feel comfortable, wanted and cared for-

Again, I went home feeling full & refreshed!!

⏭ Fast forward a few years-

I moved back home after literally fleeing the state from an abusive relationship. Moved in with my cousins, who invited me to church. And BOOM the sermon hit me between the eyes that day- I was hooked. I knew something needed to change.

I always felt like something was missing on my life-

Little did I know that it was ME missing out on God’s purpose and plan for my life! I poured my heart into church, learning as much as I could. I went to counseling, which helped me to heal- and even participated in a bible study, where I met Dallas & we got married 10 months later. 😉

Carolyn called me the year after Dallas and I got married to see if I could possibly fly out and do massages again- I was IN! 🙌🏼 But this time I was so excited to be ALL IN!

During my layover in Chicago I received a text message from Dawn, the coordinator for the retreat, asking if I would share my story of my past and why I decided to go to church with the group! 😬 Little did she know, I was PETRIFIED of public speaking, but I said yes anyway, knowing deep down in my heart that God would have wanted me to share it.

I got so NERVOUS about sharing my story,

I got sick- and not just a little sick- I got SICK SICK. 🤢

I got so sick I couldn’t even do the last day of massages, we had to find another therapist to fill in for me.

I couldn’t even get up out of bed. SICK.

But I was bound & determined to share my story.

I wasn’t going to let the enemy win.

So – with Steph & Carolyn by my side for moral support (and with a garbage can in case I puked) I shared my past story for the first time ever with about 80 women.

I cried, they cried, we all cried!!!

They were so supportive, kind and understanding- even during my nervous shaking voice.

The feeling that I got from sharing my story is something I can’t describe.

It’s a vulnerable relief sort of something.

It’s that something that keeps me going.

It’s that something that drives me to continually share my past, present & future.

I want others to see that there is a light at the end of that dark long tunnel,

You don’t have to feel or be stuck,

There is a way out,

There is HOPE.

There is ALWAYS HOPE. ❤️

💁🏼‍♀️ So this weekend, I get to volunteer my time by providing massages & care for these women that care so much for me.

👉🏼 This time, there are so many women coming that we have to bring 3 massage therapists with us! I’m even told there are already ladies REQUESTING me to be their therapist! (Hope they know I haven’t given a real massage in about 2 years🤪)

I am SO EXCITED to volunteer my time for these ladies!!

I can’t wait to take part in the retreat this year & participate in everything it has to offer-

Including the Bible Study! 😘

Bitter to Better

HOPE.

“We don’t have HOPE just because-

Jesus was a good teacher,

A prophet,

A miracle worker,

A healer.

The ONE and only reason we have HOPE is because he was resurrected from the dead. He came back to life to prove his love for us.”

~ Paraphrased from Pastor Levi at Easter Service this morning.

1 Peter 3:15 in the Bible says,

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have.”

My answer?

My hope?

Is Jesus.

Why?

Because I fully believe with 100% of my whole entire being that He saved me from my past & from an abusive relationship that would have eventually lead to my death.

I truly and honestly believe if I didn’t get out the day that I left, the day I literally fled the state while my abuser was at work, drove half way across the country to my family, I guarantee you I wouldn’t be here today. I know thats hard for some of you to hear. But it’s the honest truth.

I didn’t even know if I believed in God at that time. Well, I believed there was a God, but I don’t think I believed that He could do anything for me, or maybe I thought I had messed up too much for Him to take the time to help me. I didn’t think I deserved help because of the choices I had made.

But- He gave me enough strength to ASK for help. I didn’t even know what type of help I needed. I don’t even know what I said when I called for help. But God sent me 2 special friends who came to my rescue, they knew the type of help I needed. They got me out quickly & safely. I believe He rescued me so I could share my personal story of HOPE.

God guided me home safely & provided a smooth easy path. I drove a U-haul towing my car all by myself over 1,200 miles home to my mom- who had no idea I was coming.

If you know me, you might know that I have an eye condition that prevents me from seeing depth properly. I have no depth perception in my right eye, my eyes do not work together as a team & have a tendency to cross so, I see double a lot- especially when I’m tired and stressed.

For me to safely judge turns (like those around Chicago) with a huge truck towing a car was legit a modern day miracle in itself.

I remember being so scared driving all alone. I repeatedly said out loud to God & to myself, “Please, please I beg you just get me home safely, don’t let me hit anything or hurt anyone. Please just get me home safe.”

And guess what? He got me home safely.

Once I arrived to my moms house, I didn’t have a job, no money, no place to live but their spare bedroom. I didn’t have anything to my name- but I was SAFE.

I lived on auto pilot trying to get things squared away, accounts closed, passwords changed, address forwarded, my name taken joint accounts & bills and I tried to figure out my new life, what my new normal would look like. I honestly can’t remember that first month or two home. I was in shock.

I eventually moved to my hometown of Sioux Falls and in with my cousins. They so graciously offered to let me stay in their spare bedroom in the basement. They took me in as one of their own, treating me like I belonged, like I was instantly a part of their family, asking nothing in return. They wanted to help me get back on my feet & help me thrive.

My cousin invited me to Church, repeatedly. I turned her down a few times-

Then one day I decided to go, mostly to get her off my back- haha, But I really was genuinely curious as to why she liked it so much. Growing up I wasn’t ever really excited to go to church. I also felt like I owed it to God since He got me home safely.

The sermon that day was on being held hostage by bitterness.

Link to listen to sermon here:

https://ransom.church/sermons/hostage-to-bitterness/

I felt like it was directed right at me,

I felt like I was the only person in the auditorium that day.

Like there was literally a spotlight shining on me, the Pastor knew EXACTLY what I needed to hear that day.

I was a very bitter person.

Bitter at the abuse.

Bitter at my choices that lead me to that relationship & others.

Bitter at my abusers- yes there were several.

Bitter at myself. Just bitter.

And that bitterness was killing me.

From then on I worked hard,

Learning more about Jesus & His teachings,

More about the Bible,

More about what it really meant to have a relationship with Jesus.

More about Forgiveness.

I started listening to sermons and pod casts online.

I tuned in to the Christian radio station instead of my normal station.

I surrounded my self with POSITIVE people.

People who wanted nothing from me but for me to be the best version of myself.

This was the first time in my life that I felt like no one was out to get me, no one was trying to take advantage of me, make fun of me, or lower my self esteem.

They really wanted to help me succeed.

I went from BITTER

To BETTER.

I’m not perfect.

Im far from it, but that’s why I need Jesus.

I have moments where I have flashbacks and I let the past get the best of me. I get angry and mad.

But FAITH is a journey not a destination.

I’m always growing & changing.

Always willing to learn.

I am confident in knowing where I can turn for hope & for help.

So this Easter Sunday I ask you,

Do you have hope?

What is the reason for your hope?

Our Muse

She is a rebel soul,

Who lives in her own state of

beautiful anarchy.

You see my dear friends,

Wild Hearts?

They can not be broken-

And you just can’t tame,

Those souls who are

meant to be free.

Amber Dawn;

You are our muse,

You are our poetry.

Giving the eulogy at my childhood friends funeral was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Something I never ever imagined I would have to do.

Depression is a horrible indescribable disease.

It’s something that those of you that don’t suffer from it can’t possibly understand.

It doesn’t care if you are a good mother, an amazing wife, a beautiful daughter or a fun friend. Amber was all of these things are more. It is an overwhelming darkness that can come at you out of nowhere and knock you down harder that you ever have been before. One minute you are fine and the next its a full blow sucker punch to the face. It’s that whisper in the back of your head, gently tapping on your shoulder telling you that you will never be enough.

I’ve been asked several times if I was mad at her or if I thought what she did was selfish. No.

I don’t think my friend was selfish.

She was the exact opposite of selfish.

She cared too much.

She worried too much.

She held the weight of the world on her shoulders and she trudged though the mud – trying to do it all herself, trying to be strong all by herself, not wanting to burden others with her problems. She trudged on trying to be the strong one until the weight eventually broke her.

She was far too strong for far too long.

I’m not mad at my dear friend –

I’m heartbroken.

My heart aches because she hurt so badly.

My spirit is crushed because she felt that the world would be better off without her in it.

Maybe you feel like she felt. that the things you have done or are doing are far too much to be forgiven.

Or that feeling that you will never be enough,

that you will never be able to do enough,

or fix enough.

Please know there is Hope.

The hope I have is not a wish or a dream.

The hope I have is a solid assurance.

An assurance that we are all loved and all forgiven for the things we have done, are doing or will do.

Grace is a free gift given to anyone, you just have to be willing to accept it.

You may make mistakes, but please know-

YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE.

Please help me honor my friend and help others by taking a few mins and watch my eulogy at her service.

It’s on my Facebook page and should be public. I can’t figure out how to upload it here- but will do so as soon as I can.

You have my permission to share.

Janet’s Eulogy for Amber ❤️

If you know anyone that has struggled or is struggling with depression- Or- if you or anyone you know has been affected by suicide or depression-

Please like, comment, tag them in it, share this post and share this video with them.

There is always hope.

Someone can always help.

You are not too far gone.

You are not a burden.

Suicide National Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Online Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/

Both Available 24/7

Janet’s Eulogy for Amber ❤️

Relationships, Grace & Hope.

I don’t even have the words.

This one hit way to close to home for me.

Way to close. Way to personal.

And not just because I lost my first ever best friend.

But because- that could have easily been me.

I’ve been there. I’ve felt that pain, it’s a horrible dark pain.

It’s an indescribable feeling that I can’t even comprehend myself.

It’s a pain that doesn’t care who you are, if you are a good mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend – it has no preference.

It doesn’t care that you are happy, bubbly, unique and original on the outside.

It’s a pain that no one truly can see because the bearer of the pain hides it ever so well- and pretends that everything is fine.

It’s a deep dark sad place.

The fact that our friend felt so bad, that the pain consumed her so much, that she felt like there was no where else to turn, rocks me to my core and makes my heart ache like it never has before. I am truly heartbroken.

I feel like all we ever share on Facebook is our good moments, our highlight reel. Which is great, of course I want to celebrate the good, and I want others to succeed and be happy. But I also want you to know its okay to be real. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to need help.

I do try my best to be honest and transparent with my life on here, but often times when we publicly share struggles or state that we have a chronic illness or are suffering with mental health issues we are often brushed off or labeled as seeking attention.

It’s so hard to know how much to really share and how much to hold back.

Wanting to be oh so real – but not too negative or too needy.

We are so overly connected with technology, media, status, and checking in on peoples virtual lives, that we often overlook the real connections in our lives.

How many times have you been in a restaurant and have seen an entire table of people staring at their phones. We are right there in front of people but we aren’t THERE. So consumed with checking in seeing how everyone else is doing online that we don’t even acknowledge the people right there in front of us. I’m guilty of it. I do it all the time.

We just assume that people read our facebook status, Insta-stories & snapchats so that when we pass by in real life –

We often offer a trivial, “hi how are you- I’m good, you? Eh, I’m busy, but good.” Small chit chat and chatter. And then we move along, being our busy selfs – without ever really asking the deeper questions.

We don’t take the time to truly get to know one another anymore.

We are so busy and so consumed with life, plans and other things, that we forget to connect, we forget to form a bond and a forget to build relationship. Life is all about relationships – and we are losing them to our phones.

Most of you know that I struggle with my mental health, depression, anxiety and major PTSD from an abusive relationship.

Maybe most of you know, maybe most of you don’t know?

I’m currently partaking in a mental health study with the University of Michigan. It aims to work with people struggling with PTSD and/or bipolar depression.

But I don’t often talk about how hard it is to truly live day to day with it.

I don’t really share with you how much it really affects and impacts our daily life.

How hard it is on my husband to know that he can’t do anything to “fix me.”

I don’t share the mundane in and the outs because I’m afraid that people will get sick and tired of hearing about how much I struggle every day.

The stuff you see me post about my workouts & nutrition is part of what I do during my day, but it’s not my full day. It’s usually the happiest part of my day. So it’s why I talk about it so much, it’s why I post about it so much.

My day is filled with mess, chaos, screaming at my child, crying because she’s so stinking stubborn, throwing my hands up in the air saying enough is enough!

Questioning if I am a good mother.

Questioning if God made a mistake in making me a mother.

Asking my husband if he thinks that he would be better off without me.

What if I just left him and Jade?

I feel like such a burden to them and that maybe he could find someone else that would do a better job of meeting his needs.

These are the types of things that run though my mind. ALL. THE. TIME.

I have flashbacks. Not so many now. It’s been 6 years since I left, and I can’t believe I still have them. Vivid ones. Terrifying ones – that leave me in such a panic that I wake up wondering if I’m back in PA? Back in the abuse? Wondering if my current reality is just a dream.

There are times when Dallas will unknowingly do something to trigger thoughts or feelings of my past, and I get angry, I snap and I’m mean.

It’s not his fault, sometimes I don’t even know all of my own triggers.

He hasn’t done anything bad to me, but he ends up taking the brunt of it all. We are working on this. But it’s a struggle.

The feelings of insecurity creeep back in.

The feelings of, “Am I ever going to be good enough?” Seep though.

The feelings of “I don’t ever do anything right” and that I’m a bad person come back.

The feelings that I don’t deserve Dallas, that he is “too good” for me.

They are uncontrollable.

Even when I tell myself, that they aren’t true.

There is such a stigma attachted to mental health.

The kind of stigma of, “Well its just your thoughts and feelings, so change them.” “Just change it.” “You shouldn’t feel that way. “

Friends, I wish it was that easy. If it was, then no one would struggle.

Like I said, even my own husband (who is a saint, mind you) doesn’t understand it, or what I’m going though.

He doesn’t understand why I’m depressed because I currently legit have no reason to be.

I’m out of the abuse and I know I’ll never be treated like that ever again.

I’m with someone who loves me, unconditionally.

After struggling with infertility for just a year we had our little miracle baby.

He has a great job and is able to make enough money so I can stay home and care for our little girl.

I don’t have to work, even though I choose to, because I’m passionate about and love what I do.

I have had some major health issues the past few years, but we seem to always make it thought them okay.

He feels like he should be able to fix me by loving me enough.

By just telling me that I’m safe, that I’m fine and he’s here to protect me.

It makes him feel like a failure.

And it breaks my heart.

I wish I had the perfect answer my friends.

I wish I had a cure that could just fix it all.

But I don’t.

What I do have is HOPE.

That is what keeps me going.

Hope that the past abuse and trauma that I went though from age 14 on up to age 30 has made me stronger. It has made me the person I am today.

It has shaped and defined who I am. And I am proud of all that I have overcome.

Hope that when I share my story and my struggles that it might help just one person be brave. Just one person to say, if she did it then I can do it.

One person to say, I see you struggle but I also see that you are succeeding though the struggle.

I have the compassion, empathy and understanding to help others going though hardships- because I have been there myself. It’s a unique gift, that makes people feel super comfortable talking to me. It’s a gift that I have that makes others feel safe in knowing that I will not ever judge them.

I have hope in knowing that by sharing my struggles it helps others know that they are not alone.

My hope is in Jesus,

He saved me from my horrible past, my mistakes, my bad choices-

And I know that he can save anyone. And that He wants to save everyone.

He’s not asking you to be perfect my friends,

Perfection is impossible.

He’s just asking you to put your faith and trust in Him,

To follow his ways, his teachings, what he taught.

To try to grow, to work on yourself, and to get better daily.

There will always be setbacks.

Life is a journey. Filled with ups and downs.

There are no straight A’s.

No Perfect 10.

He grades you by Grace.

So give yourself a little Grace today,

And show some Grace & Love to those around you.

You never truly know what someone is battling.

Blessings to you my friends.

If you ever feel like you need any type of help, please reach out.

To me, to a friend, to a loved one, to a stranger.

Promise me that you will reach out and get help.

There is ALWAYS help.

There is ALWAYS HOPE.