Life Expert

girls camp

For a long time, as I would share our story, I thought it was to save someone from choosing evil. I thought if I could just help one person stay away from a bad choice, it would change the course of their life . . . or save them from an unexpected death. I hoped that I could save just one wife from ever sitting across from a room full of strangers, being told of a real life nightmare. I hoped if I could save someone from hurting their spouse—that would be one less victim doubting their own existence. 

I set out on a journey to open up my pain—in a desperate plea to all who could hear—to help them see that they could never let anyone they loved feel the pain that ate me alive. 

But this funny thing has happened—more and more, I am starting to learn that the real purpose of sharing our story is to bring hope—not just in a reminder of trauma and death—but in a light full of life. To remind people that no matter where they have been—they still have good inside of them. To help others see, that no matter who has doubted them or left them alone . . . they are still enough. To not only give people a list of the things that they should avoid—but to help them remember all the good inside of them that they might be forgetting. 

In a search to find how to be enough for myself I have found thousands of friends who are on that same journey. A silent battle against our own minds—looking and hoping to find a place where we feel like we can be free from the pain of the past. 

So friends. Our journeys are not the same—but I feel one with so many of you. We are all fulfilling a mission: trying to become experts in life. 

On my road to healing I have found my way to a new journey. And it has been beautiful. 

A few weeks ago I got an email insisting that I just must be an expert in life. Ironically, the same day, I got another email insisting that I must be a fraud . . . that the hard things I have had to endured were my own fault because of who I am. One of these woman saw the good I have been trying to find; the other only saw flaws and imperfections.  

Sometimes I have felt very inadequate for the task of talking about life. I am NOT an expert on anything. I doubt myself in one way or another every single day. I mess up. I say the wrong thing, or screw up in some form or some way. I lack in perfection in parenting, and obviously in love. I have days that I suck at being a wife. My laundry—is a joke. My cooking has been weak. I compulsively check on my children in the middle of the night. I get jealous and insecure. I have panic attacks and get paralyzed—some days—in fear. On the bad days I am a horrible friend. I forget to call people back, and am told I never respond to questions on Facebook, and sometimes weeks before I answer emails. Hurtful emails have been given the power to ruin my day or cause me to doubt my purpose and mission. I have only mopped my floor twice this whole summer. I get nervous every time I have to speak in front of people. Some weeks the only clean clothes I fold for myself are pjs and sweats.  I hate swimming in water that I cannot see what is beneath me and I am afraid of the dark. (And these are just a few examples of the negative characteristics that I posses that cause me to doubt myself in the roles that I play.)

For every fight I wage to find goodness, I fight against my self-doubt, or others who willingly share their opinions of who I am. 

One thing is for sure—every word I have ever written and every speech I have ever given . . . has not been intended as a sermon from anyone who has perfected anything. On the contrary . . . the words that have come from my heart, have only been written because they are what I needed to hear. As the opposite of an expert in life—I have found that I have much to learn, and hope that I can always strive to grow and stand a little taller. To fight less, and let go of things that are not in my control. 

But there are some things I will never stop fighting for.

#1.  I will—at the end of this life—have completely forgiven all who have wronged me. 

#2.   I will not let a day go by without telling my family how much they mean to me. 

#3.  I will fight to find joy in being a mother. 

#4.   I will love faithfully. 

#5.   I will fight for the light. 

#6.   I will search for hope. 

#7.   I will testify of Jesus Christ and his infinite grace. 

#8.   I will strive each day to be better than the last. 

#9.   I will smile. 

#10.  I will put my family first. 

I still have much to write on this blog. I have stories in journals, and in my mind, that testify of these truths and the moments I am still learning how to stand tall in them. Thank you to everyone who has believed in me as I fulfill this mission—to find hope and healing. 

Life is going to be filled with storms. It has been said many times . . . it isn’t about calming the storms—it is about learning to stand through them. 

Our storms are never done, so our faith has to be unmovable. Looking back, after the storm, we might not be given the answers to why . . . but God will always show us how. 

Find your purpose and seek out your mission. With those two things, the answers will come. We may never become experts in all that we do—but we will become full of life. Life is not about perfecting ourselves . . . it is about perfectly being where Heavenly Father needs us to be. Life is not about perfecting ourselves . . . it is about perfectly being where Heavenly Father needs us to be.

It is through Him we will find our purpose. It is through His grace we will be lead to our mission. I do not fully comprehend the WHY’s of my own life, but I will never again let them hold me back. 

The most amazing blessings come after the greatest sacrifice.

Most of the time we don’t get to choose what those losses and lessons will look like . . . but somehow it must have been part of the plan, or it wouldn’t have been. 

So to all the other experts that have only found perfection in failure—I get ya—the only thing I have constantly succeed in . . . is imperfection and failure. We are all experts in losing in one form or another, but as long as we don’t ever lose sight of what really matters . . . we will win.

Put your family first. Put your trust in God and rely on His Son’s grace to carry you through your storms—and you will make it through. Not because it will be easy . . . but because there is so much good in you. You are stronger than you think and smarter than you will ever know. You have gifts you haven’t even begun to realize. The spiritual strength that is hiding inside of you is the powerful tool that will be the armor that helps you win all of the battles worth fighting. 

So maybe we will continue to lose. Maybe we will always suck at laundry, and burn our dinner. Maybe our children will see us stub our toes, and hear us scream. Maybe a small army could eat their dinner off of our kitchen floor. Maybe the world is reminding us of all our inadequacies every single day—but they are not the experts in our life . . . we are.  

From the outside, some might think we are experts at everything they do not know. From the inside, we might see ourselves as the farthest thing from perfecting anything . . . especially life.

We are all right there. Imperfect messes, hoping to at least become the expert at one thing. I hope I can give my whole heart to my family—perfectly be there for them in the way that Christ would want me to be.  I hope if I perfect anything in this life—it is that I always put my family first.

Life isn’t easy. Love can be scary—especially when you know what it is like to lose it. Don’t let your fear of losing something stop you from loving it with all your heart. 

You don’t have to be an expert to live life . . . you just have to perfectly be where you were created to be. As long as the right One is seeing the good in your journey, who cares about all the rest? 

Be in the moment. Stand. You are the expert of your own destiny. You are the perfect one to be you. Only you can fulfill the mission you were sent here to live. Be in the moment. Stand. You are the expert of your own destiny. You are the perfect one to . . . be you. Only you can fulfill the mission you were sent here to live. So when all the experts around you try to get you to believe you should be something else . . . just be you. Perfectly imperfect. 

Expect imperfection. Expect to grow. Expect to change. Expect to hurt. Expect to lose. Expect to be surprised. But even more importantly . . . expect that the real experts in life . . . are the ones living it.

Ashlee Birk is the Author of the blog and book series entitled The Moments We Stand.  In them she tells of her personal journey of healing and seeking peace after the murder of her husband Emmett.  Through her trials she has learned the importance of a personal relationship with her Father in Heaven. She has found light in the darkest of moments—and she has found hope when she thought it was lost.  She has come to find that the grace of Christ is powerful—not only in sin—but also in forgiveness and carrying you through some of your darkest moments.

Ashlee is remarried and resides in Idaho with her husband Shawn and their blended family of six children. They work hard every day to continue their journey of peace and finding the joy in life. Ashlee believes that every day is a gift—and in each one, she has learned to stand.

The Moments We Stand

spouse murdered 11/2011


Questions to Ponder:

1. How can you better view your imperfections so you don’t loose hope and faith in your power to overcoming?

2.  What are the things you will never stop fighting for?



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