Friday, December 25, 2015

2015 Flashbacks


There were so many good things that happened to our family this year. So, so many.

But a few traumatic events made this year different than anything I could've ever predicted.
And when it came time for me to write a post about our year, I found myself not wanting to do so because the memories had a lot of background pain attached.

I've pushed through though because this blog is important to me. But I did make a decision, one that may or may not be big news to you but one that I've been considering much of the past two years.

I am retiring Suze's Corner. 

I started this blog a few weeks after my son was born back in 2009. In the past six years, so much has happened. There are memories from our marriage, raw moments after divorce, friendship memories that are painful to read about, etc. It's been a messy blog at times and I am so grateful for all of my readers.

And in case you're surprised (or if you think I'm an oversharer maybe you're even happy), I don't plan to stop writing. But I'm going to start a new blog in 2016---a blog that still shares messes and talks about the past and the future but a blog that doesn't have so much background attached.

Maybe you don't care or maybe you do but either way, I've decided this is what's best for my journaling {free therapy} in the future.

Anyway, I've decided to go through and talk about some of our memories of 2015 to wrap up the year.
In January, we drove up to Flagstaff to visit some of our friends. Andersen had the opportunity to play on a real drum set that belonged to our friend's band and he loved it so much. We went ice skating, played in the snow, and made new memories.
 In March, we headed to Carlsbad for Spring Break. We spent time in the sun and went to Legoland.
 This year has been incredible for Hayley. Incredible. One of her teachers messaged me at the end of 2014 and asked if she could choreograph a solo for Hayley to compete. It was so exciting!
 She competed that solo for the first time in March of 2015 and got 2nd place and High Gold. I cried as I watched her perform on the stage.
Cried. Real people tears.
 At the end of March, I ventured into my parents' backyard during my lowest point of this entire year and found that my mom had made a little peace garden with benches surrounding it. I can remember the feelings, the fears, and the thousands of thoughts spinning in my head as I told God He needed to fix this mess.
And slowly, He did.
 As one job door closed, another one opened and that same week, I was offered a job teaching tumbling at Rhythm and Motion Dance Center, which was something I could've only dreamed up until that point.
 And a week later, I decided it was time to do something I had been considering for a while and make myself a permanent reminder that I am a warrior. This tattoo will be on my foot forever and will remind me of the things I've been through and the strength I've shown during some trials I never would've thought I could handle.
I'm forever grateful for the acceptance from my people regarding this permanent decision and also for the support my family has been given throughout the year. It's been incredibly hard but also incredibly beautiful to realize who my people are and how much they care about us.
 On August 6th, Hayley lost her very first tooth and she did so by pulling it out all by herself!!! If you can't tell, she was so extremely happy!
 In July, my parents took us all on a trip to Washington DC. It. Was. Magical. I enjoyed so many things about DC and loved that my kids and I were given such an incredible opportunity.
 August 2015, my BABY boy started Kindergarten. It was a little tricky figuring out schools but we found the perfect fit and he is doing so well!
 Also in August, I started school full time at Arizona State University!!! I knocked out my first semester with 2 A's and 2 B's and enjoyed most of my classes.
 Hayley had an incredible opportunity to perform with her dance team at Disneyland and we got to enjoy two days of Disney fun!
 Oh and since I didn't already mention it, I switched the kiddos over to the dance studio I teach at and they are both currently dancing with RMDC's company. Both kids are enjoying it and learning so much.
 Another first for me---I attended my FIRST concert in 2015 and it was Taylor Swift! I am so thankful for my sister who invited me and was there to share my excitement---and when T Swift first came out on stage, I may have shed a few happy tears. (I really did...)
 Time Out for Women 2015 was another one for the books! That time with my mom and sisters is always so incredible and brings out the crazy in all of us.
 Another highlight {literally} of 2015 was changing my hair from this... this. Blonde, blonde, super blonde. I'm so thankful for incredible friends who have amazing talents.
And speaking of amazing friends with talents, Leyla Moss took our family pictures again this year and as she does every time, she outdid herself!
We put the pictures together in less than 24 hours and the colors, location, everything was perfect! 
And it probably doesn't hurt that my kids are so freaking adorable. 
 Another heartbreaking moment of 2015 was watching Leyla lose her husband, Andy, to cancer. This moment was significant for me because Andy was diagnosed only a few months after my divorce had started. Leyla and I were both going through scary times and weren't able to physically be there for each other but being the amazing friend that she is, she still found ways to show me she loved me.
And two years later, as I said my goodbyes to her incredible husband on this Sunday afternoon, I felt like my heart was ripping in two for my friend, not knowing how to help or what to say.
And since that day and the harder days that happened weeks later, I have tried to be there for Leyla and I have prayed harder than ever before that she would feel God's love.
Cancer sucks, you guys. It really, really sucks. But throughout this experience, I have been amazing by Leyla's strength.
 And in October, Hayley performed her newest solo with her new dance team and as she danced on that stage, I felt the tears stinging the corners of my eyes again. And if you're wondering, it isn't because I'm proud of her for being a dance. It is because I'm proud of her for doing something that is scary for her. I'm proud of her for fighting her fears to be able to do something she truly loves.
Now 2015 is almost over and two weeks ago, I had a professional put a hole in my nose and stick a stud in there for fun.

This year, tied in with all of the painful things I've experienced, I've experienced some of the happiest times ever---ever, but especially since my divorce.
I've changed---a lot---and the things I believe have changed---some significantly and some small changes.
It's scary sometimes but most of the time, I look at who I am now and who I was then and the corners of my mouth curl up toward the sky.

Things weren't meant to be easy but they are going well. They are beautiful and the gratitude I feel often pours out in a blubbering mess across Instagram/Facebook. I'm pretty sure most people are sick of my rants but they keep me going and remind me why I'm fighting to be who I want to be---and not who I think I'm supposed to be.

2015 was hard and crazy and incredibly unpredictable but 2015 taught me more than I ever could've imagined.
And that's something I'm getting sick of admitting---that trials teach me and make me stronger---because I WANT LIFE TO CALM THE FRICK DOWN! But if it isn't going to, at least I'm learning so much in the process.

Merry Christmas, friends. I am so grateful for each of you.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Being Kind in an Unkind World

It's been a week full of beautiful weather and late nights pondering my purpose on this earth. 

Nights where I lay in bed staring at the dark walls around me and smile at the amount of gratitude I have for this life, my life. 

People are worried about me---which is probably always going to be true because when you love someone, you want the best for them and so you worry sometimes. 
Sometimes I wonder if maybe it's hard to believe, given the circumstances and the trials, that I am truly happy right now. I know that many of you have seen me at my worst but I believe, in a way, that all of those dark moments were helping me to heal. 

Going through a divorce hardened me for a while. I was much less emotional and I had a hard time crying. It was weird because it was a foreign struggle for me. Really? Struggling to cry? It just seemed kind of weird and even a little bit stupid. 
But lately, I've been able to allow myself a little more vulnerability with my emotions and it just feels healthy and freeing. 

I feel a lot more like me. 

And feeling a lot more like me means that my sensitivity for others is overflowing. 

I know it's a good thing---I like that I am sensitive---but sometimes it is so emotionally exhausting that I vow to never sign on to Facebook again because the posts are too painful and often confusing to read. 
Obviously, this vow is broken each time, usually within minutes, because part of my unwinding at the end of my day includes a little {or a lot} of Facebook reading. 

I remember when Ferguson was all over the news and I didn't quite understand what was happening. I had friends who were standing up for the police and other friends who were standing up for the community members of Ferguson. Each post seemed to contradict the next but each post seemed to have something in common---a pleading for others to UNDERSTAND the pain on their side. 

As I was reading, I wanted to connect all of these opinionated articles and posts and show everyone that they were fighting for the same thing---for love, unity, equality, compassion. 
They wanted their loved ones and people of their same gender/race/religion to be accepted AS IS

After Ferguson (and honestly, before Ferguson), it didn't end. It seems that weekly, sometimes daily, there is a story I see posted on Facebook about conflicts that have risen and been pinned to a person's gender/race/religion/sexual orientation. 
And I want to fight with you---with all of you---to protect the people you love so dearly. I want to hear your side and listen intently as you tell your story of why you believe what you do. 
I want to hear about your daughter who is biracial and your fears about her being accepted when it seems that racial profiling is so prevalent in the media. 
I want to hear about how your husband is a police officer and you fear him being killed as he tries to protect our citizens. 
I want to hear about your son who is homosexual and your fears about him being accepted and loved by his peers. 
I want to hear about the abuse you have endured and how you fight for women's rights because your voice was stifled when you were younger. 

Because each one of your stories are real. Each one is fighting for love in it's own way. 

But, you guys, I want so badly to live in a world where we are fighting together. 
I want to live in a world where unity means we love no matter what---we love because we are all human beings and we are all worthy of acceptance and equality. 

I want us all to take a step back---think about the things you are posting online. Think about the people on the other side and try to see it from their perspective. 
I know you're hurting---but so are they. 

As I laid down in my bed last night and my head was spinning from the conflict surrounding some religious decisions that have confused me so much this week, I wanted so badly to connect people, to remind them to look at the situation through the eyes of the other side. 

People have every right to be hurt.
And people have every right to stand up for their religious beliefs. 

Both of these emotions and opinions and actions are valid and real. Each means something so sacred to the person who believes them. Each is intertwined with heaps of love for that person's people and for their beliefs. 

I'm sure there are so many things that I do in my life that people wouldn't agree with or understand. But honestly, this has nothing to do with how I'm living my life---it just has to do with the fact that I am living a life. 
Because no matter what we do, there will be people who see things differently. 

And that is ok. 
In many cases, it is beautiful. 
We can learn so much from people who see things differently than us

And for me, that is what this life is all about. 
It is about honoring my own beliefs, as different as they might be from yours. 
It is about loving you regardless and practicing that love and acceptance the same way Christ showed us when He was on this earth. 
It is about learning from you and you learning from me. 
It is about compassion and empathy for others and validating their pain even if we don't understand it---because even if we don't understand it, that doesn't make it any less real. 

Life is so much more than taking sides and fighting against each other. There is so much more we can do with our opinions and beliefs. 
There is so much we can teach when we start with love and compassion. 

I'm ok with living a life that's different than yours. 
I want you to be happy, to be proud of the life you are building. And if you are, I will stand behind you. And if you're not, I will be here to help you change in whatever way you'd like. 

Your feelings are valid---just as mine are---and my hope is that someday we can all fight on the same side.
To love each other more. 
To learn from each other more. 
To help each other more. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Achingly, Beautifully Hard

Sometimes even when life seems easy, it still feels hard.

Achingly, beautifully hard. 

And I used to think that during these times, I was supposed to fight the feelings and pretend that it didn't feel hard.

I now know that that is not the case---I am allowed to feel like life is hard, like it is a never-ending case of bad news and failure.
I am allowed to see the darkness and acknowledge that there are some pretty rotten things in our world.

It is ok to recognize the bad and label it as such.

But recognizing the bad doesn't mean we forget about the good. It doesn't mean that hope is nonexistent.

So today feels bad. It feels like a day I am not strong enough to get through. It feels like a day where everyone is laughing at me behind my back and wondering why I'm making such a fool of myself.

It feels hopeless. 

But somewhere inside of me, there is a glimmer of fragile hope, a reminder that this day isn't the only day of my life.

Twenty-six months of being on my own---stressing about dating---realizing I can't change other people---changing a lot of things about myself.
I couldn't have looked back to twenty-six months ago and seen what I am currently seeing. I couldn't have even guessed the questions and the faith changes and the solidifying peace mixed with sheer terror.

Peace and terror. 

Many people have told me these things can't go hand in hand. They've told me that if I'm questioning my faith and feeling anxious or doubtful, I am not following God. I understand why you would think that but if only in my case alone, I know that isn't the truth.

Truth and fear can co-exist. 

Because quite honestly, either way I go, there are fears. Either path I choose, there will be feelings of anxiety.

I am finding myself and today, that sounds heavy and way too hard.
It surely doesn't sound fun.
It most assuredly isn't something I picked.
But it is something I am doing for me.

I got another year older last week and I have a good feeling about this year. I have a feeling that I am capable of enduring the dark days and basking in the glow of the sunny days.

It isn't a bad life---just a bad day.
And today, that is ok with me. I am grateful for days like today because they remind me that I am a warrior. I am a woman who loves deeply and aches deeply. I am a fighter who is capable of seeing the good even on the worst of days.

I can do hard things---and I will.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Should I Stay?

 Sometimes I look at the views on my blog posts and I'm stunned that 100 of you (and often times more) read my words.

My words. 

I feel blessed that you'd even want to go on this journey with me, through the ups and downs of my chaotic life.
Sometimes it feels weird, blogging openly about my life, but I'd be doing it even if you weren't reading. I'd be sitting at this same chair, typing these same words, even if no one read them.

A part of me feels like they are for you but I know they're really for me, for my healing and sanity in the midst of all the crazy.

I wanted to touch on a subject that I've written about many times---probably more times than most people are comfortable with.

I've had a lot of people over the past two years tell me the bits and pieces of their story and then ask if I think they should stay or go.

Each time this happens, the answer is the same:

I cannot answer that.

Or maybe it is that I will not answer it.
I guess I could very easily tell someone that their marriage sounds like a train wreck and that they should move out and file divorce paperwork.

But that is not my advice to give. In fact, that is nobody's advice to give---except maybe a licensed professional. Maybe.

Maybe I feel so strongly about this because I got opposing advice after my husband left me.
You should file. You should fight for him. You should_______fill in the blank_______. 

And although maybe it should've helped, all it did was confuse me more. Because I wanted to please everyone and take their advice but I couldn't make both opposing decisions.
The truth is that the decision was only mine to make. It wasn't anybody else's---except for my husband's. {duh}
The people who were telling me to fight for him---they weren't there for the nights I cried myself to sleep, wondering what was wrong with me and why I felt the uneasiness that I did.
The people who were telling me to file for divorce---they didn't witness the times my husband supported me and I saw glimpses of a happy future together.

Nobody knew the full story. Nobody knew what I was feeling inside or what answers God had given me.

Nobody felt the pain that I felt or the anxiety that stopped me in my tracks on countless occasions. Nobody saw how truly scared I was that my life was over.

And really, nobody knew how deeply it hurt to feel so abandoned by the person who had promised me eternity. Nobody could see the turmoil that churned inside of me as I put my brave face on each day.

They couldn't have. I never expected them to.

But because they didn't have the knowledge that I had, nobody could make that scary decision for me.

Because of so many personal experiences, I know that I cannot decide whether you should go or stay. I know that I cannot tell you that my story is similar enough to yours that you should mirror my decisions.

No two stories are alike because no two people are alike.

Your heart may want to stay and if it does, you'd have my blessing.
Your heart may want to run away and if it does, you'd have my blessing.

Both choices are brave. 

One does not make you weak while the other makes you strong.

I've been told many times that I'm brave for being a single mom {not that I really had a choice} and I am. I am brave to be raising my kids the majority of the time and going to school and working.
But I've seen women who stay, who fight for their marriage and learn how to trust when they didn't think they could ever trust again and to me, that is equally as brave.

Either one might will most likely cause you to break for a while. 

But as surely as I know that the sun will rise again tomorrow, I know that you won't break forever. I know that you are capable of carrying on with or without a spouse by your side.

If you have children, your decision might be messier but I know that children can be ok. They can heal.
It might take extra late nights or therapy or them spewing their hurt and anger at you daily---and it might even take all of those things. But they can be ok.
For us, it didn't fall into place in a day. In fact, sometimes it still seems out of whack.

I watched as my children became different, less trusting of others and more angry at the world. I watched as the light in their eyes seemed to darken and tears poured out daily. I watched their confusion and pain.

And I've watched it slowly repair. I've watched them show empathy toward others who are hurting. I've watched them love harder and become closer to each other.

It's hard when you're faced with decisions that seem daunting and life-altering. I get it and I'm here for you.
I cannot tell you what decision will be right for you in the end but I do know that you're capable of making that decision---and you're even allowed to change your mind.

Life is a lot more fluid than I used to believe it was. Although it is filled with highs and lows, it is filled with so many second chances.

I remember what it was like to feel like I was in a deep, dark pit where the sun did not exist. I remember how scary it was to separate from my husband and figure out how to live independently.

If you're there, I'm here. 

My biggest advice would be to reach out and let others carry some of the burdens you can give up for a while.
Keep yourself safe. Make your decision based on what will keep you physically and emotionally safe.
Remember to care for yourself. So often, we get caught up in helping others or raising our children that we forget to take care of ourselves too.
Create boundaries with the people in your life. Speak up about what you need and what you don't need. Tell them when they offend you and when they're being helpful. Teach them how to help you---they won't always know what to do.

Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard.
Life is pretty dang hard.

But you are stronger than you think. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

When Reality Sucks

This quote hit me hard tonight as I was scrolling through some old posts and crying my swollen eyes out.
Because crying is apparently my new thing.
Just kidding---kind of. 

My car wouldn't start tonight. Actually, it started acting funky this morning but I prayed that it was just a fluke.

It wasn't. 

I cried the entire drive home {in my mother's car that she so kindly offered to let me borrow} because I was stressed beyond belief. I had an emotionally exhausting day---and then this.


My kids asked why I was crying so much and I voiced my feelings briefly about money and wanting to be the best mom for them and feeling like every time I try to get ahead, I get punched in the face. They were both so empathetic toward me and reminded me that it would be ok.

Because cars are just cars. It will get fixed and all will be well again. The car breaking down doesn't determine my happiness or my goodness or my worthiness. It is just a car.

But my goodness, if I could just CATCH A BREAK, that'd be super great. Most of the time, I feel like I'm drowning, like I'm stretched so thin that it wouldn't even be possible to fit in one more second of "life". I know that isn't true. Single mom life might be hard but there are so many reasons that it isn't hard. There are so many positives to the life I'm living now.

There has been so much growth. 

But with that growth comes questioning and doubt---it always seems to do that. I question if I'm really a good mother or if I'm just depicting myself that way on the internet. I question whether this is the real me or if the girl who heads straight to the couch after work and sits there for a while doing practically nothing is the real me---which would make me lazy and selfish. Is that really me? Or is there a greater amount of goodness that resides within my bones that once in a while needs a break after a long day of providing/school/homework/bills/parenting?

I think tonight I'll try to see myself in that second girl and not count the minutes I spend on the couch each afternoon while I tell my children to do their homework.

I always envisioned myself to be this super involved mother who sits at the kitchen table with a homemade snack for the kids and reads through every homework assignment with them. I envisioned the amazing talks we would have and the laughter that would accompany the conversation..

And reality is far different than the vision in my head of the mother I am "supposed" to be. Reality is telling the kids to get themselves breakfast in the morning or dinner at night when I am feeling too overwhelmed and tired. Reality is mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and answering random homework questions as they come. Reality is fast food and dirty clothes on the floor and not taking the time to shower for a few days because I'd much rather just sit---just sit and breathe and thank God we are all still alive.

Sometimes reality sucks.

But most of the time, the reason I think it sucks isn't because I am truly unhappy but because I have this vision in my head of what I'm supposed to be doing every second of every day. I have created this vision in my head of what the perfect mother would be doing.

And I have to remind myself that I am not the perfect mother nor will I ever be her. Part of that has to do with my current relationship status but let's get real here---I wasn't an amazing homemaker before my divorce. I struggled with cooking and cleaning and making sure everything was always in order.

But the kids? I didn't used to struggle with that. I didn't used to need so many breaks or accept the fact that independence would be coming much sooner for them than it would for most children their same ages.

I had help almost every day. I could rely on another adult to come home from work and be present in our home. I could go to the damn grocery store by myself!
Obviously these things are small and seem insignificant but they make a difference.

Sometimes I wish this wasn't my life but every time that happens, all I have to think about is the woman I am now versus the woman I used to be and then I remember that I wouldn't trade the person that I am for anything---not even for a husband.
And maybe that's weird. Maybe that seems confusing because had I not gone through all of this, I wouldn't have known any different. But the fact is that I do know different. I have learned things that have enabled me to teach my children things I never would've thought to tell a 5 and 7 year old. I look around at the people in my life who are all struggling uniquely and I can recognize that every single one of them is going through something that is hard for them.

We don't get to decide what is a hard trial and what isn't.

I might feel like a failure a lot of the time but during the small moments where my children are curled up in my arms or I witness them showing kindness toward others, I remember that I am getting some things right.

The next step is remembering those small victories during these exhausting and hard times.

I'll get there eventually...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

I am His

I have heard it said many times that Mormons are not Christians.

In fact, I grew up defending my faith and telling my non-LDS friends why I was a Christian. It was my least favorite thing---being told I wasn't something that in fact, I was.

I'm going to be real with you today. My goodness, this realness is a bit scary because I've kept this to some close family and friends but I feel like it's a good time to open up now.


My name is Suzanne and I am a Christian. Beyond that, I have yet to figure out what I am or who I am. Actually that's not completely true. I know who I am. I know I am a child of God. I know I am a lovable, laughable, loud, sensitive, compassionate person.

But I am currently attending more than one church---and sometimes, I venture to other churches too.

And today, I tried out a new church and in the middle of the service, they began to talk about Mormons and how they aren't real Christians.

I breathed. I breathed some more. I sighed heavily and I knew it wasn't right.

It wasn't right.

Because whether I am a Mormon or not, Mormons are Christians.
They are.

As a young girl, this argument always confused me because I was taught about Christ every week at church. My daily prayers have Jesus' name in them. I would hear about Jesus Christ and I knew He was real and that He died for me.

I've always been a Christian. I'm not a Christian now that I am attending a contemporary Christian church. I was already a Christian.

And what I know---one of the only things I am completely sure of---is that I want to be like Jesus Christ. I want to be compassionate and loving and patient toward the people who step in and out of my life. I want to see them as children of God. I want to love without judging them.

I often find myself saying "love wins". I understand that this saying became popular when the Supreme Court ruled in favor if same-sex marriage but I don't see it as a same-sex marriage quote. I see a completely bigger picture where love triumphs above all evil and harm and heartache.

There will always be people for us to love.

I can tell you how easy it is to focus inward and feel sorry for the love you've lost and the pain you're feeling. I have struggled deeply with losing people who I trusted my heart with. It is messy and hard.
But I want to pinpoint something much bigger and more powerful---loving others.

Looking outward.

Finding those who may not feel loved and loving them.

Seeing the people who look troubled and smiling at them.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of the woman who had committed adultery. I have read through this story many times and imagined how I would've felt if a group of people had found out some of my worst sins and taken me in front of my Savior to judge and ridicule me.
I read that story and I get that woman. I understand her. I feel her pain and agony as she fears for what Christ will say or do.
But my favorite part is when He walks up to her and asks her to stop, to repent of her sins. He seems gentle and loving in that moment.
Did He condone her behavior? Nope.
Did He love her? Absolutely.

And then He turns to the people ready to scorn her and He says, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.

Right then and there, the chills start and I feel myself nodding and agreeing. 

Because yes! Do we all not struggle and sin daily? 

It's beautiful. So many things that I stand for can be found right in that Bible story. 

I am a Christian because I believe in Jesus Christ. I know that He was crucified on the cross for me and for you. I know that He was resurrected three days later. 

I know that He lives and that He loves me. 

When I fall short, He picks up my slack. He is my cheerleader and every day, He hopes that I will find happiness and love in my life. 

And I do! There is so much beauty in my life. So. Much. Beauty. 

This struggle has not been easy and I have spent many nights crying on my knees, pleading with God to just give me an easy answer so that I wouldn't be so scared. I didn't want this. I fought it silently for a long time. I struggled alone. 

But then I reached out. I started to become stronger and realize that I am going to be ok. God knows me and He will give me answers when He knows I am ready. He will guide me where I need to be. And if I go the wrong way or I make mistakes along the way, I know He will be there. 

Because really, what I want is a relationship with Him. What I really want is to feel close enough to my God that I can trust Him and not worry about what everyone else will think of me. 

I don't have to have all of the answers right now. In fact, I doubt they will come soon or easily. But I am a daughter of God and He is not ignoring me. I feel so many amazing things happening in my life and among the fear and the worries, I also feel so much love and freedom to be who God wants me to be. 

I am His and that will always come first.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

I Stand With Cherish

You never think it'll be you---until it is.

You never think the police are going to show up on your doorstep or that you'll make a mistake that causes others to hate and ridicule you---until those very things happen.

Cherish and I were never super close but we hung out in the same groups. I've known her since junior high. I couldn't tell you a single bad thing about her.
And today, as I was scrolling through Facebook to procrastinate getting ready for work, her face popped up in a news article that read "Mom who forgot her baby in shopping cart tells her story".
And just like that, my heart sunk.

In that moment, I had one hope---that her baby was ok. I didn't judge her or think that her mistake should cause her to lose her parental rights. I didn't even consider the ridicule she must be facing until I started listening to her interview.

There were flashbacks and fears that crept in as I listened because although I haven't been in her shoes, I've been in similarly imperfect ones. I've witnessed what mistakes can do. And I've also witnessed the beauty surrounding those ugly mistakes.
I've cried tears of worry, embarrassment, and sorrow. I've wondered if anyone would ever understand or be able to love me the same. I wondered if my choices would dictate how others look at me.

It's a scary, and usually lonely, place to be. But as I've gone about my day today, I've been filled with hope. I've seen people rally around the Peterson's and tell their own stories of their own imperfections.

When you go through something so IN-YOUR-FACE scary, you find out who your real friends are. You are able to see who is going to be there through the messes.
It's hard.
And it's beautiful.

The truth is that this could've been any of us. Didn't I JUST say that in a blog post a month ago? Maybe these stories hit me so hard because I feel like I'm right there but each and every time I read these, my heart aches for the mothers and fathers who love their children so dearly and are raising their children in a safe environment---and yet they now have to fear their children being taken away.

I've been there. Exactly there. And it isn't fair for Cherish. It isn't fair to the others whom this has happened to.
And the most unfair part is how social media users have treated her.
My favorite part of the raw video interview was when Cherish's husband said that he was surprised to realize how many perfect people there are in the world.

Because clearly, those people judging this family or my family or your family have never made mistakes before. Clearly.

Clearly, those people who chose to steer into a panic room at the thought of no charges being filed against Cherish have never done ANYTHING that other people could label "imperfect".

And if you have? If you can read this blog post or listen to Cherish's interview and still tell me no incident from your own life came to mind that could ever be considered imperfect, I'd advise you to hold off casting that first stone---because it still could've been you.

It could've been any of us.

Tomorrow, you might find yourself in an abnormal routine and you might make a mistake. You might forget your wallet---or your child. And although one is obviously WAY more important than the other, it is just as possible to forget one as it is the other.

Really, people, let's consider how much we all LOVE our smart phones (except for me because I still have a dumb phone). Let's consider the amount of time we spend on our phones.

Have you ever left your phone at home or somewhere else on accident?

Chances are, you have. And chances are, you feel a sense of security when you have your phone and it is pretty important to you.

Maybe not as important as your child (Gosh, I hope not) but still...important. And you've left it somewhere before.

When we make these incomprehensible mistakes that cause the police to get involved or CPS to tour our homes, it can be the scariest thing in the entire world. If you haven't experienced this, you can surely take my word for it.
And the worst part isn't the haters. The worst part isn't the other imperfect human beings claiming they would never be in that same situation.
The worst part is how much we beat ourselves up. The worst part comes from within.

Forgiving ourselves for these types of mistakes is the hardest part. It is the hardest, most painful part. It doesn't come easily. It takes time and energy and a lot of support. It takes trust and oh my goodness, it takes God.

It takes God.

So stand with me or walk away but I stand with Cherish. There isn't a thing being said about her that wouldn't be said about hundred of other parents who've made mistakes that WEREN'T on the news---and that includes me.

So stand with us---or be quiet. Keep your judgmental thoughts inside your brain and process them on your own.

Because if/when you are in a similar situation as this one and the police come knocking on your door, you might just be praying that if others aren't going to stand by you, that at least they will stay quiet.