Category Archives: Family Life

The Worst Day Of My Life

I wish we were sitting face to face, over a cup of coffee so you could hear the sorrow and grief in my voice as I share this news with you.

As many of you know, I experienced great loss in 2010 when my dad passed away and then 5 months later, my younger sister Melissa passed away. In 2014 I experienced another loss….I had a miscarriage. On May 5, 2014 my mom passed away.

Today, as I look at my childhood family vacation photos, I am the only one left living, this side of Heaven.

Another recent loss was the Red Caboose, our coffee + frozen yogurt shop, which was purchased and shut down in May 2018.

Great grief, heartache and loss has brought me to my knees more in these past 8 years. When I find myself thinking “its not supposed to be this way. Haven’t I been through enough already?”….I am reminded that this journey is not my own. And pain truly is our microphone.

The evening of November 16, 2017, when I was blindsided, has truly become the worst day of my life.

Seven months ago, I learned that my husband, life partner, business partner, father of my children, Reed Trontel, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a 27 year year old realtor in our small town, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 13 years. My heart in sharing this information is not to harm or shame Reed, but to help explain the absence of his presence in my social media feed and blog posts. And if you’re local…..this is why you haven’t seen us out as a family. Private messages and emails have been sent to me almost daily since Christmas and rightfully so, as I have been a blogger/ influencer for over 12 years and have openly shared my life online.

I made the decision not to divorce Reed when I found out about his infidelity. I was committed to doing everything possible for our story to be one of restoration and a great come back story, even in the midst of the worst kind of betrayal in a marriage. This decision was not easy, but built on prayer and wise counsel from pastors, family and friends who have loved and believed in us from the very beginning. Deep down in my heart, I also knew this would be the way my own parents would have guided me.

When I found his burner phone in December I immediately contacted our counselor and we prayed……and I replied to his mistress as if I were addressing my own daughter, who was playing with fire. All the words that would normally come to mind in regards to a mistress, believe it or not- would not be found in this text. I simply asked her to leave my husband alone.

When the mistress aggressively continued to deceitfully pursue my husband, I decided to contact her mother, as she still lives at home and is employed by her parents. It was actually her mother’s response that truly made me question where I live. I know this world is not our home, but it was in her response  “so, what do you expect me to do about it?” I was shocked……and I knew right then and there that I was dealing with pure evil.

We clocked hours and hours of counseling between November 16th and December 21st. Reed even booked flights for us to escape to San Diego for Christmas…..to invest in our relationship, but 48 hours before we were to depart, Reed told me that he didn’t want our marriage to work out and that the kids and I should just head to Boise to spend Christmas with my family.

In January, Reed filed for divorce. I was served divorce papers, while drinking coffee at the Caboose. Even still…….I was committed to fighting for our marriage.

I believe I have the capacity to love and forgive Reed, our marriage verse was 1 John 4:19, which I had engraved in his wedding band: We Love Because He First Loved Us.

How can I not forgive?

I am a forgiven and loved child of God, who doesn’t deserve a seat at the table…..but I do. Not just a seat, but my name is on it.  So, how do I not extend that same offering? It’s hard as hell. But as my soul is heavy with sorrow, God’s Word has been my strength, my saving grace……because tucked inside the pages are testimonies that help us through our own battles.

The Gospel has become so tangible to me these past 7 months. It’s in my face. So loud and clear. It’s scandalous. It’s messy. It’s black and white. It’s about laying down our lives and our preference. It’s a true story of betrayal, forgiveness, death and love…..and in the end……the ultimate come back story in all of history. Even in my own nightmare, God is still good. He sits on the thrown. His eye is on me. This was not a surprise to Him. No persons rejection of me can ever exempt me from the love of God.

Additional losses are in the very near future for my children and I, including our home and our car. In the midst of being forced to make these kinds of financial decisions the betrayal continues to run so deep. I was made aware that my mother-in-law [who just so happens to be a counselor] recently listed her home with Reeds mistress.  The additional loss of family members has added to the hurt. This is the kind of crap you see on tv. Behaviors get excused in the name of wanting people “to be happy” in the end…..not thinking about the devastation the act of infidelity and divorce really has on the spouse and children. It’s unbelievable. The heart is meant to be led, not to be followed.

Sadly, I have repeatedly forgiven and accepted Reed back, but he continues to betray, be unfaithful and dishonest with me.

After much prayer and counsel from wise, biblically-minded mentors, I have decided that Reed has truly abandoned our marriage. I have handed this over. This is in the Lords hands. I need to step out of the way. I will continue to seek counsel towards my own healing, while praying and believing for the Lord’s will and way in all of this.

I will not lose heart. Giving up in life has never been an option for me….and will not be an option now. As my pastor spoke over me 7 months ago…..”this will not take you down.” I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in miracles. The Lord has been so so good to me and I believe He will do it again. Whatever that may be. Whatever that looks like.

This season has been heavy and burdensome, yet I have peace. I am grateful for the mentors in my life who are committed to helping me heal and move forward.

Never did I see D-I-V-O-R-C-E or single motherhood being part of my story. I have avoided sharing this with you as I wanted so badly to skip over the broken and ugly part of this nightmare and jump straight to a celebration. Everyone loves a great comeback story. But it’s in the raging storms that we grow so much in wisdom and understanding. And it’s in the brokenness that God meets us where we are, restoring us and makes things new. He is in all the seasons. He is in all the details.

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13  This is one of many verses that I am clinging to in this deep grief my children and I are now walking through.

Please pray for me. Please pray for Ezra and Imogene. And yes, please pray for Reed.

XO

Christmas Cookies

We’ve been all about baking and decorating Christmas cookies this year. Gosh, its honestly been years since Ive done things like this……I love how our babies bring back the joy and wonder of the Christmas season. This Christmas has been so much fun with Ezra. He’s all about the lights, snow, Polar Express, wrapping presents and of course……COOKIES!

I won’t tell you how many cookie + movie nights we’ve had……but I’ll tell you this…..we’re racking up hours [and calories].

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Artifact Uprising

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I’ve been a fan of Artifact Uprising since they launched their business. I love everything about their brand, their story and their vision. I mean….their tagline is incredible “Inspired By The Disappearing Beauty Of The Tangible.” They had me at that right there.

I’ve printed the wood block set, as well as the Instagram Photo Book [for Ezras 52 week series]. Both products were beautiful.

My most recent print project was the Square Photo Print Set.

This project is a special one. I usually print gifts for other people…..but this one was for me. I printed images that I took on our drive to/from Montana to Boise…..right after I received the call that my mom passed away.

The drive was heartbreaking. There were moments of silence and tears and sometimes laughter….as we talked about my mom.

Since this was my 4th rodeo in the past 5 years…..dealing with the loss of a loved one….I knew that I needed to focus on Gods Word. It’s the only place that brings peace and keeps me from losing my mind. I know what I need most in times like this….and that is to focus on Eternity, otherwise….this situations can easily be turned inside out and upside down. Its a slippery slope……and so this project was born.

I began taking photos of the landscapes throughout the drive. All shot on my iPhone. Some shot through the car windshield [due to inclement weather] and others with the windows rolled down. It wasn’t so much about a perfect photo…..but capturing something that demanded my attention and pairing it with the Truth that was anchoring my soul, in that moment. I posted these on Instagram all throughout out my trip. It was how I was processing each second, minute and hour of the day.

Its a fact. If we don’t write it down….we will forget. Forgetfulness is the enemy of Faith.

This road trip may not seem to be one for the books, but it was for me. I was reminded multiple times of Gods great love. God was near and tending to my broken heart, as He promises to do so in Psalm 34:18.

I don’t ever want to forget the things that I have learned and experienced, especially while in the trenches. These trials shape us and make us into better versions of ourselves. Nothing is wasted. Pain is a Microphone.

I took a self-portrait an hour before my moms Celebration Of Life service. A wave of grief had come over me and my mind was so full that I couldn’t even put words on paper. So I took a break and a deep breath. As tears streamed down my face I knew I wanted to remember this moment. I wanted to remember what I looked like. And what I felt like on the inside. They say our eyes are the windows to our soul…..and in capturing this moment….I would remember all that I needed to from this day.

So, I decided to print this series….which was truly inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible. Today marks six months since I received that call that took my breath away. I love you, MOM.

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#ichoosethankfulness

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“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
-Brene Brown

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Three years ago, I started a hashtag on Instagram titled #ichoosethankfulness

There were zero posts the evening that I typed that hashtag in the search bar.

Tonight….as I write this blog post, there are 2,681 photos using the hashtag.

The phrase was inspired by my sister Melissa, who went to Heaven on November 14, 2010.

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I CHOOSE THANKFULNESS is about being thankful in all things and in all seasons. Its choosing thankfulness even though our hearts are broken & burdened. It’s choosing faith over fear. It’s choosing joy. It’s choosing Jesus. Always.

I treasure the stories that have been shared using #ichoosethankfulness. I love that its been used all year long and not just around the Thanksgiving holiday. I have met some incredibly brave women who were vulnerable enough to share their heart…..and in turn has inspired an online community.

A lot has happened in 5 years. I have walked through the valley of death 3 separate times.

In these past 5 years…..I’ve lost my dad, my little sister and most recently, my momma.

Its been tough. Losing my mom this past May was a doozy for me. It hit me hard. There are no words to describe what it feels like to me…..to be here on this earth….without parents. I’ve never walked this out before. I came into this world with parents….and now, at 37 years old…..my parents are gone. For the first time….I’ve look at this world as a place that truly is not my home. This whole thing has set my gaze on Eternity and on Heaven, my homeland.

It’s natural for us to think that as time goes by…..we get further and further from the ones who have left this earth, but its just the opposite. As each day goes by….we get closer and closer to Heaven, which is very near.

Will you join me in sharing the ways that you are choosing thankfulness this month? This year? Some have posted a photo a day for the month of November, while others have posted randomly through out the year. Whatever you choose to do…….be encouraged to share your story and inspire others. 

My pastor, Levi Lusko and his wife Jennie know the incredible pain of loss. The way in which they are sharing their story of pain….and using it as a microphone has been powerful. It has encouraged and inspired me greatly. I will be giving away 4 autographed copies of his book, Through The Eyes Of A Lion this month. I’ll be scrolling through the #ichoosethankfulness hashtag and will be choosing one photo a week.

Join me! And be encouraged, my friends. xoxo

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For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 

Dinner Party!

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Last night I hosted a small dinner party on our back deck, in honor of Reed. He didn’t want it to be about him, but it was, of course. The people that gathered together love Reed….honor and respect him greatly. We were definitely in good company and we are thankful for these friendships in our life.

My dear friend Hollie helped me put together the menu. She’s an amazing cook….and inspires me in so many ways when it comes to being in the kitchen and feeding my family. Reed LOVES Hollies cooking [no , this doesn’t bother me one bit]….so if her and her husband couldn’t be here [they live in Portland] the next best thing was to make a Hollie meal. She helped me put together the menu and we skyped each other as I was chopping away in the kitchen! Seriously, who takes the time to cook with you over Skype? Hollie does [and I miss her like crazy].

Main course:: Grilled chicken topped with peach salsa; Watermelon salad with goat cheese; Potato salad
Dessert:: Strawberry Shortcake
Specialty cocktail:: Glacier Ginger Brew + shot of Montana Spring Wheat Whiskey [optional]

Last night reminded me how much I enjoy hosting small gatherings. One of my goals this summer is to host more dinners on our deck. Nothing beats face to face conversations, along with a good meal, of course! Who’s coming over?

Here’s a glimpse into our evening celebrating Reed….
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