"At some point in the program God started to work in my life in a way that I recognized. I was reading through the big book and I came to section 11 that talks about when we retire at night we reflect upon our day and when we wake up in the morning we think about the day ahead. Where have we been dishonest and selfish and where can we be of service to others? As we pause throughout the day when we feel doubtful we seek guidance. I started physically, mentally, and with my heart doing these things and every morning I would get on my knees and I would pray. I would read a passage and think about those things. I thought where can I be of service to others and ask God to help me be of service to others today and to be open to those suggestions. If someone was doing something where I could help I would help, if someone wanted someone to volunteer for something I would volunteer for it. The biggest thing I asked Him for, was to help me do the things I don't want to do today and He did."




Justin, I'm so excited to have you on the podcast.  I know that you have an incredible story.   And I've heard little bits and pieces from Preston and Tyson from Renaissance Ranch, and you work at Renaissance Ranch, too, which is so awesome. 


And I've shared before that Preston and Tyson, I probably wouldn't have had the guts to start this podcast had they not really pushed me to do it.   I really just think the world of all of you guys at Renaissance.   And I've heard bits and pieces – like I said – and so I'm super excited to hear the whole thing.   So, you can just go ahead and start wherever you would like.





Okay, sounds good.  Yeah, I appreciate being invited because, yeah, Preston and Tyson can definitely push you to reach your potential, which is good.  I love working with those guys because they saw something in me of value, which was cool.  And so, I've been working with them for a little while now.  I enjoy it. 


But yeah, let me just kind of talk about my recovery experience and everything that I've gone through in my life and how that relates to the topic of the podcast, which is kind of “people who have fallen away from the Church and come back.” 


My story starts as a child who never felt okay in his own skin.  I grew up thinking that there was more to life.  As an early child, I never felt comfortable being just myself, I always wanted to be like that other person:  I wanted to have bigger muscles, or I wanted to be more talkative, or less anxious.  And I didn't make friends easy, which really kind of limited me you could say. 


I was a member of the Church pretty much my whole life.  I wasn't really too active in my teenage years, but prior to about age 12, I went pretty much all the time.  The gospel truths and the principles that you learn, those stick with you, at least they did with me, they stuck with me. 


And so, throughout my addiction, you kind of have that nagging voice in the back of your head of like, “you know, better.  You shouldn't be doing this.”  And you kind of have to say, “screw you” or ignore it in order to continue in your addiction.  And then you start to build up this shame bank on your back of reasons why you're a POS or reasons why you're not worthy.  And that was kind of hard.  That was something I had to get through. 


But yeah, I was always pretty talkative as a child until I started to get teased.  I got bullied in school.  Elementary school, I was bullied.  I had my ear pierced in, I think it was second grade.  And in California back then in the 90s, that was not a big, cool thing.  But I thought it was cool.  I loved it.  But I got my earring ripped out.  It was crazy.  Just constant bullying, where I felt, “here's another reason why I can't be myself.”  And so, I built this persona, I built this wall, of who I thought other people wanted me to be.  And I really kind of stuck with that. 


And I think I was maybe 12 or 13 when I was introduced to cannabis.  And it was like this false blessing in my life.  I felt “this is what it's like to live.”  Anxiety went away.  I felt like I could be myself.  I could joke with others.  I was talkative, I was friendly.  I started to make friends.  So, it was a constant reinforcement of “drugs are good because they help you forget about other people, they help you to not get bullied or teased.  And what more would you want in life when you're stoned, and you're laughing and having fun?”


And little did I know that those are super damaging to my brain, super damaging to my identity being formed, and the friends that I was making.  And so, obviously, I continued down that path of friends in low places.  I started drinking.  At age 14 or 15, I started trying harder drugs:  cocaine, methamphetamine. 


I moved from California to Utah.  I took that as a fresh start of, “people don't know me in Utah, and I can be who I want to be.”  So, again, I was the cool kid from California who had his driver's license in high school.  So, that lasted all of about six months before I defeated myself.  The old me started to come out, and I started to do drugs and alcohol again, and I started to really revert back to those trained behaviors of who I think people want me to be.  So, I never was really myself, I never felt comfortable, as I said, in my own skin, to be myself. 


I met a woman.  I got heavily addicted to methamphetamines. I’m 16 years old and I'm using meth pretty regularly.  I'm not going to school.  I got my GED and tested out.  I found out my girlfriend at the time was pregnant.  My parents, they encouraged me to “do the right thing” as was said:  get married, raise my child, get a job, support my family.  So that's what I did.  I got a job, got married at 18, bought my first house at 19.  I was pretty successful, always kind of in these leadership roles.  Even though I wasn't trying for it, I always found myself in these leadership positions.  People tend to gravitate towards me and take direction and want to be around me.  And I thought it was strange, because I didn't like me.  Why did they want to be around me?




Were you using meth that whole time when you were buying the house and all of that?  Were you maintaining your drug use?





Yeah.  During the pregnancy of my first child – my daughter – I had stopped using.  My first wife, we used to use meth together.  And when she found out she was pregnant, it was, “okay, we need to stop.”  And so, I stopped with her.  But then as soon as my daughter was born, I picked things back up again. 


Now, it wasn't always like a day-to-day thing at the time, it was more of what you'd call a “weekend warrior” or something – you're just kind of using on the weekends, and then struggling to get up for work on Monday.  But it just progressed.  My work started to suffer. 


My father was diagnosed with cancer, and I moved him in with me.  The VA was giving him just this exorbitant amount of pain pills that he didn't really use.  And so, he would give them all to me.  And so, I was selling methamphetamines; I was working; I was using pain pills.   It was just a recipe for disaster. 


And, at this point, I'm not going to church, I'm not being a husband, I'm not being a father, I'm not being those things that a true individual –a child of God –I'm not doing those things that I know to be true to myself.  And so, that's kind of eating at you in the background the whole time.    


Well, my marriage is suffering, and I've got another son who's born.  And my wife was done.  She's like, “hey, I was able to quit.  Why can't you quit?”  And in my anger, my answer was, “I'll quit when I'm good and ready.”  But deep down, my answer is “I don't know how.”  It just didn't compute back then.  So, I went to a treatment facility inpatient.  I did 28 days, left, got about three months sober and relapsed again. 


At this time, I'm in my 24s/25s.  Right before rehab, I had really started to delve deep into heroin and cocaine and meth; IV drug use.  It was pretty bad.  I was kind of on death’s bed.  I ended up in a couple of hospitals and then into treatment.  So, at that point, it was like a series of years of just, “let's build myself up to think I can be sober.  And let's show my family that I'm sober.  And then all of a sudden, let's pull the rug out from myself and all of them and relapse again.”  And so, I probably did that over 30 times at least:  outpatient treatment facilities, another inpatient program, finally had my run-in with the law. 


I thought I was “terminally unique”:  I thought I was better than other people.  And so, they may have all been homeless and busted, but I was better.  I was probably worse in denial, thinking that I'm better. 


And so, I ended up in the jail system in Salt Lake.  And it was for some pretty serious charges.  I got in trouble for an aggravated robbery charge.  And it just tossed my whole world upside down thinking, “I'm going to prison for five to life.”  And at that point, of course, when you're sitting in a jail cell, you're making pleadings to God, “hey, just please get me through this.  Get me out of this, and I'll never do it again.  I promise I'll stay sober.”  And you believe it, at least, I did.  I believed that I would stay sober.  And He did, He took care of me.  That's why it was there.  I was probably going to get killed or kill myself.  And so, God intervened and put me in jail.  And that's how I look at it now.  And I learned so much from those jail stays. 

Caught in the correction system, relapsing while on probation, I ended up in and out of jails, not holding jobs, not being there for my kids.  It was just a disaster over and over again, just more reasons why I was a PoS.  And more reasons why I can't succeed, and why I'm a failure in life.  So, I finally kind of got my life together enough.  I met another woman, and obviously, – we'll talk about it later – but I struggled with codependency and relationship and all sorts of stuff.  And so, I jumped right back into another relationship.  I got married.  And I entered treatment that night.  Literally, on my honeymoon for my second marriage, I checked into a rehab.




Wow, how did that happen?  How did that come to be?




Well, I had gotten arrested while I was on probation, and they were supposed to file a hold to keep me there, but they didn't.  And so, at the end of the three days, I was released, and I'm sitting on the bench looking at the payphone thinking, “Okay, you're dope sick.  You're shaking.  I've been throwing up, and detoxing from heroin and meth.  I can call my fiancée or I can call the drug dealer.”  And I had a moment of clarity and I reached out to her.  And when I talked to her on the phone, I said, “I need you to come get me like right now.  Because if you don't, I'm gone.  I'm disappearing.”  And she came and got me and we talked that night, and she said, “let's get married, and let's get you checked into rehab.” 


And so, the next day I went to my probation office, I told him that I had relapsed, I told him about being arrested.  He handed me a list of treatment providers and said, “give these people a call and stay in touch with me.  I'll let you know if the judge wants to arrest you or talk to you.”  So, we went to the courthouse, we got married, and I called a treatment facility and got checked in that night.  So, just a nasty, unhealthy environment that I was in, that I was caught in.  Luckily for myself, it was a 90-day program inpatient, and then 90 days of outpatient.  So, a six-month program. 


And a 12-step program, and that was something that I had been kind of introduced to, but I had never really let it sink into my heart, into my soul, of what the steps meant and how to work those.  And so, I got about 28 days into the program, and my probation officer comes and arrests me and says, “you're going back to jail, the judge wants to talk to you.”  So, I'm broken down emotionally, mentally; I'm exhausted.  I'm thinking, “what's going on? God, I'm trying to do the right things, why am I going back to jail?”  And I get before the judge, and he says, “I'm done with you.  You've violated probation, you've absconded twice, we've had to send Major Crimes after you.  I don't want you anymore.  You're not a good candidate.  I don't care that you're in treatment.  And you're going to prison.” 


The shock that went over me at that time was crazy.  The bailiff kind of takes me back into my cell, and it felt like an eternity sitting there.  But it was probably only a couple of minutes.  And the bailiff grabs me and pulls me back out into the courtroom, and the owner of the treatment facility is standing up there, and he's talking with the judge, and the judge brings me back out and he says that the owner is vouching for me, he says that you won't leave the program, you won't go on anything.  They're gonna keep you there, you don't get to participate in off-site passes or anything like that, but I'm gonna give you a chance to complete this program.  So huge, what I call it God shot.  But I'm so stuck in denial.  And I have such a huge ego, that as I get released, and I'm getting picked up by the program director, my cockiness –my ego—, everything comes right back to me.  And I'm just talking like I deserve another chance.  And he stops me dead in my tracks and says, “who the eff do you think you?  You don't know crap about recovery.  You don't know anything.  You haven't gone to any optional meetings, you haven't worked any steps, you don't have a sponsor.  You're just doing what you think we want you to do and saying what you think we want you to say.  You're not getting real with your therapist; you're not doing anything.  I'll take you back to jail, or you can get honest with yourself and get honest with us and work a program.” 


So, I give it a shot.  He said, “I want you to take every suggestion I give you and do it.”  And begrudgingly, I did them.  He said, “I want you to go to the 7am optional meetings,” I went to them.  He said, “I want you to get a sponsor,” I asked a guy to be my sponsor.  He turned me down.  I got all pissed off.  I didn't want to do it again.  More reasons why I'm defective.  And then I asked another person, and I got a sponsor.  My sponsor said “call me every day.”  “What are we going to talk about? I'm in treatment”, “who cares? Give me a call.”  So, I called him every day.  Jedi trick:  he's building rapport with me so that when it comes to the fourth step and fifth step process, I feel comfortable sharing. 


At some point in the program, God started to work in my life in a way that I recognized it.  And I was reading through the Big Book, and it came to step 11 (I think it's page 86/87/88).  It talks about “when we retire at night, we reflect upon our day.  When we wake up in the morning, we think about the day ahead.  Where have we been dishonest and selfish and where can we be of service to others.  As we pause throughout the day – when doubtful –, we seek guidance.” 


And I started physically and mentally and with my heart doing those things.  So, every morning, I would get on my knees, and I'd pray and literally my prayers started with “what up, God?”  Because I didn't feel comfortable saying, “Dear Heavenly Father” or “Lord” or anything like that because God had a bullseye that I was out to get them because XYZ, whatever.  And so, I'd say “what up, God?  I don't know what I'm doing here on my knees.  But I'm just going to read this passage and think about those things.”  And so, that's what I did.  And I thought about my day, where can I be of service to others, you know, and I'd say, “God help me be of service to others today.”  And then I would be open to those suggestions.  And if somebody was doing something and I could help, I started helping them with it.  If somebody wanted someone to volunteer for something, I volunteered for it.  At the end of the day, I did the same thing.  The biggest thing that I asked Him for was “help me to do the things I don't want to do.”  Because I was selfish.




I was a taker.  I just took, took, took from everybody.  So, I asked Him to help me to do the things I don't want to do today.  And He did.  I'd say, “oh, I gotta brush my teeth.”  And I’d hear my voice, “I don't want to do that right now.”  And then I'd hear my voice again.  “You got to do it.”  And so, I’d get up and do it.  So, it literally went like that for the rest of my treatment. 

I worked steps.  I continued with my sponsor; I graduated the program.  I went right into my aftercare.  And I was living in Salt Lake Valley, and treatment was in Heber City, so that was an hour and 15 minutes, maybe an hour and a half drive.  And I went to groups Monday through Friday, and I drove every day to work, and I didn't miss a day for 90 days because that was what was suggested of me. 


So, I did it.  And it wasn't easy.  When I got out of treatment, I couldn't keep my kids on the weekends.  I didn't know how to manage the stress.  My ex-wife would call me and say, “hey, come get the kids,” and I’d go get them and by the end of that night, I was pulling out my hair and wanting to relapse again.  And I just didn't know how to do it.  And so, I would lean on the people in the program.  I would call them.  I would unburden myself.  I would share my secrets, those things I was telling myself of like “oh yeah, just go relapse or just go have a hit, you'll be okay.” 


So, I completed the program and had an opportunity to then work for the company that I went through treatment with which – during my aftercare – that was impressed upon me spiritually and emotionally of “you've done so much damage in your life, you need to give back.”  And so that was how I heard it was, “let's work in treatment because I had fun.  Why not have fun in recovery and work with others and get paid to do it?”


So, I started working for the program, but the program was going to close down because of management.  And they basically got rid of all the staff, the investors who owned the company, got rid of everyone except me, who was working a graveyard shift, and one of the therapists, and then they brought in a new CEO, and he gave me an opportunity because I asked for it.  I have the mentality of the squeaky hinge gets the grease; so, if you don't ask, you don't ever get to move up.  You don't ever get to do anything if you never ask.  And so, I said “I've been paying attention to everything.  I went through this program.  I think I can run this program.  Give me a chance to help you out.”  So, he did.  And he sent me back to school.  I went back to school for a Substance Abuse degree and Business Administration.  And I got halfway through that, and I started to let my program slip.  And I started to treat my job as my recovery.  And I stopped doing those things that were suggested I stopped going into those morning meetings, I stopped reading the Big Book.  I was still in an unhealthy marriage.  And I relapsed.  I relapsed three years, three-and-a-half, almost four years, into recovery while working at a treatment facility.  And that's not a good thing.  I was told by a counselor that I was going to kill someone because I had an ego.  Everyone does and mine was really big.


And, that was when I met the guys at the Ranch, actually.  I had gone to a detox program and then checked into Renaissance Ranch in 2015.  And it's a different level of treatment with the ranch.  It’s accountability to an extreme.  It's a male-only facility.  And so, there's an extreme culture of brotherhood, of family, of doing what's right.  It's faith based.  It's 12 Step.  And the brothers and the staff, they helped me see my unhealthy marriage, my ego, they helped me practice journaling, and they helped me do the things that I needed to do in my life. 


So, I did the inpatient program.  I only when a couple of months outside of treatment before I was like, “oh, yeah, I can work in treatment field again.”  So, I went to work for another facility.  The owner of another company had said, “hey, I need you to come help my company.  We're struggling, we've got some licensing issues.  Help me get out of it.”  I went and worked for them.  I kind of revamped their program.  Identified a bunch of stuff that couldn’t be fixed because the owner was part of the problem.  And the facility ended up being closed anyway.  Well, when you're having to place 50 clients within seven days, and people are leaving AMA and relapsing, you take it personal.  You really do, whether it's not. 


I was still in the marriage, knowing that it's unhealthy, but just too scared to say, “I want a divorce.”  And I relapsed again, you know, checked back into the ranch, because I knew that was what I needed.  And went through the program again, and got out.  I finally took the suggestions of the divorce and some of the other things that I held out on.  Best thing I ever did.  I took the suggestion of not dating for a year afterwards, best thing I ever did.  I can't tell you how many lessons I learned by not dating for a year.  The peace that you that you gain, the identity you form by not doing that.  I felt that was the only way I was going to be ready for a true relationship so that I could be healthy within my own self so that I wasn't seeking others for my support. 


So, I did some car sales for a little while and stayed out of the treatment industry because of all the bad experiences I had.  And I didn't want to relapse again.  And so ended up doing some consulting for some companies just part time.  I met a couple of different owners and had an opportunity to move to Pocatello and finally kind of hired into a full-time position again managing a treatment facility.  I was hired to basically kind of expand upon the program.  When I got here to Idaho, I realized “oh crap, Idaho is poor in recovery.  There's nothing here.”  At least, there wasn't at the time.  There was, I think, three residential facilities and maybe 40 outpatient, if that.  Sparse recovery 12-step meetings; just everything spaced out and just not very good. 


So, had the opportunity to open up five other locations for this company across Idaho so I expanded their footprint and really started kind of building a recovery network, all in all staying in touch with the guys at the ranch.  Tyson and Preston reached out to me and said, “hey, we want to go into Idaho.  Will you come work for us?” and I turned them down.  “No, I don't want to do it.  I'm making more money over here, and I'm happy and too much stress,” though, you know, like, I was getting back into my ego a little big for my britches, and thinking I've got it all under control.  And God had other plans for me. 


I ended up meeting a beautiful woman who is sane, who doesn't have the relationship issues that the other people that I chose to put into my life had.  We got married.  Backing up just a little bit.  When I moved here to Idaho, I started going back to church as well.  That was integral for my life and for me because I started jumping back into, “oh, there is a gospel that's not defined by the culture.  So, there's, there's eternal truths and principles that I follow, and that doesn't mean I have to like all the people that are in church.”  So that was kind of cool.




What was it like when you went back to church for the first time and it had been so long since you'd been?  What was that like?




It was really awkward.  I literally felt my 13-year-old self, come out again.  Like, hiding in the back pew, not wanting to talk to anybody.  When people did talk to me, and they asked, “what do you do for a living?” It was, “I manage a drug and alcohol facility,” but it wasn't, “I’m in recovery, and this and this, and this.”  And so, it was very kind of one sided.  I wasn't going to any service events; I wasn't doing any teachings or positions.  It was just, “I'm here to do me, and I'm out.”  It was kind of unique in that sense.  I went back to church a few times throughout my life, and I always felt very judged.  But I probably wasn't getting judged as much as I thought.  It was more just in my head, my own judgment. 


And so, for the first time, in my life, I had these goals now of, “I want to find a wife that I can take to the temple”, “I want to take out my endowments”, “I want to have a patriarchal blessing”, I want to do these things that the church asks you to do.  And so those are the things I started working towards.  And as I'm working towards those things, God's putting more stuff in my life that's of good.   He's putting the Dixons back in my life, He's putting my wife into my life, He's putting my kids and all sorts of things.  The trust is coming back from family members, and opportunities, and just all these good things. 


So, I finally give in, and I say, “Okay, I'm gonna move on, but I still want to do some other things.”  I still want to open up my own facility.  I still had pretty big aspirations for that.  But I want to go work with the ranch.  It's the right thing to do for me because it has good values, it's a good culture.  And I feel that I'd be of maximum potential to help others at that place of business.  And so, when the ranch opened up a facility here in Idaho last year, I was right there.  And we're doing great things in Idaho, and we've expanded.  Just blessing upon blessing.  And I got married.  I was sealed in the temple,




In Nauvoo, right?  What made you guys want to go to Nauvoo to get sealed?




My wife. She had that dream that she was going to be sealed in the Nauvoo Temple.  And so, I wanted to make it come true because I like doing things for her.  I like I like doing things that make her happy, they make me happy.  And why not go to Nauvoo Temple?  It’s a beautiful place, and it has a lot of historical meaning.  And it was a wonderful experience.  I married in to a large family, and blended families are tough.  They really are.  And there's a lot of challenges that come with it, but it's so much more rewarding than it is a challenge.  If you're going to put a comparison, you've got challenge, you’ve got reward.  I have loving family that’s accepting in my life now.  Just recently, I was able to acquire and get my own facility opened in Pocatello.  Yeah.




What?! Oh, my gosh.  That is so exciting. 




Yeah.  It's pretty cool.




You're still at the ranch, though?  And you're working at your facility?




Yeah, so I have a business partner who takes care of the day-to-day operations over there. 




Oh, my gosh, that’s so cool!




Yeah, it's just kind of, “here's my vision, let's try to get that going.”  And so that's what's going on right now.  And it's been tough, it's been a struggle.  You have to separate, you have to delegate your time, you have to make sure that you're paying attention to certain things.  You've got business ethics and all sorts of stuff. 


I honestly didn't know if I was going to be able to do both.  And I still don't know 100% that I'm going to be able to accomplish both.  But I don't want to leave the ranch.  That's my keystone to recovery.  At least, the support that I get from the staff and the brothers.  What they've built over the last 20 years, mine is nothing compared.  I've just started.  And if stress comes, it's like, “hey, how do I figure out how to get the stress back down so I can manage everything I need and focus on what's important.” 


So, having guys like Tyson to give me that feedback of, “hey, what's going on with you?”  That's essential for me, and that's the culture that I have in my life in recovery. 


I think that's kind of the gist of the story.  There's going to be a lot of little questions and things that I missed in between.




I'm curious to know, what was the turning point that made you want to come back to church?  You got sober multiple times so what was the turning point that was like, “this is the game changer for me that's gonna push me back.”




In my life, I have to boil it back to baptism.  When I was baptized, I was given confirmation of the Holy Ghost, and from that point on, I had a conscience.  I had something telling me, “This is right,” and “this is wrong”, “these are things of good and these are things of not.”  And the whole time in my addictions in my life, I've got that voice, that nagging in the back of my head, of like, “Hey, this is a good church, and these are good things.  You should be doing them.” 


And so, throughout my life, it's “I'm not ready.  I'm not worthy.  Maybe later.”  Those types of excuses and justifications.  And I finally just reached a point where I was like, “I'm ready.  I'm ready to give the commitment.  I'm ready to give what it's going to take to insert myself back into Christ, into the culture.  I want the blessings that it's going to give me and I want those good things in my life.  They make me happy.”  They do.  Reading scriptures gives me joy.  Spending time with a partner who enjoys those same things, gives me joy.  And I finally felt like I deserved it, that I was ready for it.




So, Justin, you are one of the smartest, just intellectual, you're just so — I don't know – you're so sharp and you just know a lot of stuff.  Recently, something that's been very loud on social media and whatnot is a lot of people leaving the Church over many different things, over either church history stuff, over church culture stuff over, for whatever reason.  There's a lot of stuff on the Internet that people encounter and pulls them away from the Church.  I would love to hear your thoughts on how do you face challenging questions?  What kind of anchors your testimony when there's a lot of things out there that shake a lot of testimonies?




For me, it just goes back to the challenge or the invitation, I should say, in the beginning of the Book of Mormon.  It talks about, “if you read this Book of Mormon with an open heart and ask of God if this is true, then it shall be given to you.   The knowledge shall be given to you.”  And so, as the world gets more and more chaotic, and as social media and people have these convincing reasons of why the Church is evil or the things that are being said or done are not right, I have to take it back to the simplistic part of “give it to God and pray for feelings of right or wrong.” 


And so, every single time, He's given me this confirmation of, “yeah, this is great.  You're doing the right thing, just keep doing it.  Don't pay attention to that”, or, “hey, that's human nature.”  The Church gets a rap for being perfect when the Church is imperfect.  The Gospel, the principles, are true and perfect.  So, if you stick to those principles, and the Gospel, then, for me, it's never let me down. 


The laws that they have, like the law of tithing, and the laws of service and things like that.  Those have never failed me it.  Now, people are fallible, and human nature.  So, people are going to piss you off.  And people are going to do things that don't make sense.  And there's even going to be bishops and leaders and all sorts of stuff where crazy stuff happens.  And you have to just look at it and say, “is that God, or is that human?”  And then you've got to pray for your direction.  Take it back to that invitation of “is this true?”




What advice do you have for somebody that is struggling to come back to the Church?




Coming back to the Church, that's a tough one, because it's going to be a different reason for everybody on why they stay away from the Church.  But, for me, I would just advise people to really take a look at why they're staying away from the Church.  Is that really a good enough reason for all the blessings that you could have?  And if you don't like to go to church, don't go to church yet.  Practice the principles in your home, in your own life, and see if those are giving you the blessings and the things that the Church says that they're going to give you.  Put it to the test.  That's what I always say, put it to the test:  pay your tithing and see what happens; say your prayers, get up in the morning and at night, say your prayers; read some scripture, does it feel good? Does it not feel good? Those are the things that I think are gonna just ring true for people now. 


If you're struggling with anxiety or fear and all that type of stuff about returning to church and feeling judged, that crap is real.  That's rough.  And I had to get through that.  But the only way for me to get through that was to force myself to do it, and then to talk to people and make friends.  Because people are afraid of the unknown.  People fear what they don't know.  So, if you show up and don't talk to anybody, they're just going to pass judgment, or they're going to assume –and you're going to assume what they're assuming – and it's just a disaster.  So, just cut it out and talk with them.  Let people get to know you.  Because every person in this this world has value.  And we're all unique.  And we all have gifts.  And so, if you're true to your gifts and your true to your value systems, then there'd be no reason why people don't like you. 




I love that.  Well, this has been so awesome.  And your story is so amazing.  And I just appreciate you taking the time with me to share your story.  And it's incredible to see how God can take somebody that has all these problems and struggles and – I know from own personal experience – turn you into something so awesome. 


You have this beautiful family, and you just got married in the temple, you have an awesome company that you work for, and you just started your own.  It's just incredible to see how the Lord can totally transform people's lives.  So, thank you so much for taking the time with me and really appreciate




Anytime.  Getting in front of a camera and telling your story and answering questions, it's full of anxiety at first, but once you get into it, you gave me a good experience, Ashly.  Thank you so much for inviting me and I'd be willing to answer questions anytime and share my story again.




Awesome.  Thank you so much!