Friday, August 21, 2015

Ashlee Olsen - 1983 to 2015

Tonight I found out that a dear friend of mine passed away. It is in times like these that being away is hard. You want to be there for people you love, but you know this is where you need to be. So I thought it would be appropriate to write a tribute about one of my sheros Ashlee Olsen.


Ashlee Olsen died August 11, 2015 in the comfort of her home. She was born January 17, 1983 in American Fork, Utah to Tamara Olsen.

She attended schools in American Fork and graduated with her class in 2001.

Ashlee will be remembered for her kind and gentle heart, her love for everyone, and her strength and optimism.

Ashlee is survived by her sister Heather Anne Hathaway and a special nephew Jaidyn Hathaway. She also leaves behind her grandparents Gordon and Carrol Olsen and many loving family members. She was preceded in death by her mother Tamara Olsen.

Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, August 15, 2015 at 11:00 am at the American Fork 1st Ward Chapel, 381 South 300 East American Fork Utah. A gathering for family and friends will begin at 9:30 a.m. prior to services at the church. She will be buried alongside her mother in Park City, Utah. She will be greatly missed! Condolences may be sent online at

I got to know Ashlee when she was 12 years old. I was her Beehive leader. She had a smile that would melt your heart. Though her body was not strong, she had amazing strength of character, mind and spirit.

Due to birth defects and other complications, Ashlee's body was crippled. I know it gave her a lot of pain and she had to walk with crutches, but you never heard her complain and she never let us treat her any different than the rest of the girls. When we would plan activities she would not let us plan "around  her". She wanted to do everything everyone else did and she did. Even at camp with a new device on her leg, she hiked up those hills at Mutual Del. In fact our Ward was not her "official" Ward and her's tried to include her to the point that they planned around her disabilities. She said she had no disabilities when she attended our Ward. 

One of my highlights was doing baptisms at the temple with her. That was when each girl got 15 names a piece. She would not do less. My honored job was to stand in the font with her and stand her back up after each baptism. Afterward I would go in the shower with her and help her get out of her wet things. She was so humble and faithful and never complained. 

I was not very good at keeping in touch with her, but it seemed whenever I needed her she was there and vice versa.

Years after she was no longer in Young Womens, I was the camp director or something and I felt it would be so good and appropriate at that time to introduce the girls to my Shero, Ashlee Olsen. She was going to come and share her story with them. However another unexpected challenge came up and she had to have yet another surgery. She did write a letter to the girls sharing her story and her amazing testimony. 

I found that letter last summer, the week before her mother passed away. I knew she needed to be lifted by her own words. So after the funeral Emily and I visited her at her grandparent's home and gave her a letter from me along with her beautiful letter to the Young Women.

I want to share her story and testimony in her own words with you dear readers.

As I was reading Enos to prepare for this, the words "thy faith hath made thee whole," jumped out at me. I can't tell you how many times I have read those words and wished that I could hear them being said for me. But I think the lesson that my Heavenly Father wants me to learn is "your faith will help you accept your weaknesses and make them into your greatest strengths." You see I was born with severe birth defects, and I was and still am different from other peope at least in appearances. My left leg was shorter than my right by about two inches, and I had to have a lift on the bottom of my shoe to make up the difference. As a baby and a young girl I had to wear braces that went all the way up to my hip to help strengthen my legs and to keep my ankles straight. The surgery I want to talk to you about is the one that changed my life and everything about me. It changed how I looked at myse!f and how I fe!t about myself, It also eventually changed my faith. When I was nine years old my doctor up at Shriners Hospital decided to lengthen my left leg to see if they could take away some of the pain I was feeling, and also to help make my limp less noticeable. The doctors had never lengthened  somebody's femur so they were having a doctor come from Canada and Russia. They weren't one hundred percent sure it would work, but they wanted to try and help me. My family wanted me out of pain so we all agreed. The night before the surgery my grandpa and uncle gave me a Priesthood blessing, and I felt such incredible peace, The next morning I went into the hospital and before they wheeled me into surgery my grandma and my mom, who were going to be there until I got out of surgery, prayed for this to help me and also prayed that the doctors' hands would be guided, and that everything would go fine.

I had to stay in the hospital for four and a half months. I remember being in so much pain, I remember that I went one whole week without sleep, because of the pain. I also remember praying and asking Heavenly Father to help me sleep and be out of pain and after that one week of no sleep, I was able to sleep through every night after that. One day the doctor told me that this surgery had taken away my balance and I would never be able to walk on my own again. If I wanted to get around it would have to be on crutches. Inside I became very angry. I didn't say anything to anybody, because I didn't want them to worry, but inside I was angry. It took years for the anger and the hurt to go away, but what changed me was going to church. I prayed for help, and got it. My family and friends never made me feel like I wasn't as good as they were because I was on crutches, they accepted me for who I was on the inside. I've also been blessed with incredible Young Women leaders and now Relief Society leaders who don't care what I look like on the outside. 

In closing I want to leave you with two scriptures that have filled me with peace to my heart every time I've read them, they are 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10: And he said unto me, My Grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 

And the last scripture is the last line of Doctrine and Covenants 101:16 Be still and know that I am God. 

She also included this poem by Gerald Lund:

The bird in me flew free-
Over forest, over sea-
Rejoicing in the open sky;
Gliding through the endless, boundless space.

The hunter's net unseen-
Blocking passage, snaring wing-
Disdainful of unfettered flight;
Clutching me within its cold embrace.

A rusting cage now home-
No more forest, no more foam-
Confining more than death itself;
Drooping down, my wings and heart debased.

But spirit deep within-
Unrestricted lifts again-
Refuses to surrender joy;
Starts to seek alternatives to flight.

What bars of earthly form-
Steel or iron, wind or storm-
Can bind to earth my boundless heart;
Stopping me from pushing back the night?

My freedom lies within-
Only sorrow, only sin-
Can clip my inner wings;
And bind me tight.

Shackles of my own
Are all that stay my flight.

- Gerald N. Lund

There are people who make a huge impact in our lives. Ashlee is definitely one of those people in my life. She will never be forgotten nor her amazing strength and faithful testimony. I know that Ashlee is in the arms of her loving Savior who she knew. And she is with her mother whom she served and loved. 

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