When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Katy

Katy recently commented on one of my posts sharing a little of her experience and I asked her to write this post. It’s a beautiful testimony of continually trusting in God and His plan, even when His plan changes.
Katy and her husband, Mark, have been married for 15 years. They met on a blind date while attending school at BYU-Idaho. Katy earned degrees in Nursing and Music. Their family now lives in Northern Utah, and they have been blessed with four energetic children: ages 13, 11, 10, and 6. She spends most of her time as a homeschooling mamma (long before COVID and homeschooling was “cool!”). She works extremely part-time as a yoga instructor and QNRT practitioner for adults and kids, working within the specialty niche of addiction and trauma.

I was recently reminded of Abraham’s reaction when God told him his wife would bear a son in their old age. In the Bible, it says he questioned, scoffed, and laughed, but as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we have what we call a “Joseph Smith Translation” of this verse. JST says, “[he] fell on his face and rejoiced” and he repeated the promise with joy rather than questioned it (Genesis 17:17 or JST 17:23).

Sometimes when we are given big promises by God, it can be easy to question! We wonder how in the world something that impossible could become possible! I know that’s where I started in my own trust in God and His seemingly bold and big promises to me many years ago… I was so far from Abraham-like faith!

All I’ve ever wanted to be was a wife, mom, and homemaker. I just knew that was what Heavenly Father wanted for me too. I was only 19 years old when I married Mark. As newlyweds, I had a preceptorship in the NICU. As I cared for these teeny, tiny babies for 12 hours at a time, my heart longed more than ever before to start our family! Yet priesthood blessing after priesthood blessing, prayer after prayer, prompting after prompting, I was told it wasn’t time yet. My answer always was that my education was important to my future and the ways I would be able to give to others according to God’s plan. It felt like we had to wait forever, but a few weeks prior to beginning our final semester before graduation, we knew it was time to start our family!

After a smooth pregnancy, we were delighted to welcome Sennika earth side! We were thrown into the seemingly endless days and nights of snuggles, feedings, diapering and soaked it up as sleepy yet delighted new parents. I was finally beginning to live my long-held dream! I was a stay-at-home mom to our precious growing daughter!

We were utterly shocked when the prompting came again much sooner than we expected. We conceived our son, Gavin, when Sennika was only 9 months old. We have zero regrets and clearly knew it was time. Over the years, we have seen reminders and evidence that this marvelous decision was made right! It was an even more challenging pregnancy for me than Sennika’s pregnancy.

In addition to intense morning sickness, one morning when I was only 26 weeks along, I woke up to heavy red bleeding and uterine cramping. Being a nurse, I knew well it wasn’t good news. We had so many tender mercies that morning to quickly get the medical attention we needed. My heart broke as we could actually see on the ultrasound that part of the placenta had pulled away. The placenta is the organ responsible for delivering oxygen and other nutrients to the baby as well as helping remove wastes from the baby’s system. It doesn’t regenerate and it can’t “restick” after it’s pulled away.

Gavin was thankfully doing okay, but I was admitted to the hospital so we could both be closely monitored as we waited to see what would happen next. I began having regular contractions. That night was a long night! 26 weeks was too soon for Gavin to safely arrive! We didn’t know if he would do well if he came that early and was born in our small hospital. I laid in the hospital bed counting contractions, feeling so alone. I cried and I prayed wondering what the coming hours would bring for our precious baby and our little family.

We were able to get the contractions to stop. Within a few days, we were both stable enough to go home! I took the remaining months of my pregnancy as easy as possible, and we had weekly appointments to check on us both. The biggest risks we were facing were: Gavin could stop growing because the remaining functioning part of the placenta couldn’t keep up with his needs or we had a high chance more of the placenta could pull away, resulting in immediate action needed to save both our lives. We prepared for the real possibility that he would end up coming early; however, Gavin was born at 38 weeks. He was also healthy and strong! We were so grateful! Now we had two beautiful children who filled my days (and nights) with long hours… and lots of diapers, but so much love and joy!

Although Gavin’s pregnancy had been a roller coaster, our doctor couldn’t find any reason to worry about it happening again in a future pregnancy. We chalked it up as a “fluke,” and soaked up our little ones! We knew we weren’t done adding to our family yet. Once again, we got “that feeling” sooner than we expected and promptly acted. Once again, I quickly conceived when Gavin was about 9 months old; however, this time, I miscarried.

After taking a few months to heal, we tried again, and immediately conceived Leland. Once again, morning sickness hit hard. And once again, I woke up to heavy red bleeding with cramping one morning. This time I was only 16 weeks. We could pick up Leland’s heartbeat by doppler in the ER (it was a Sunday), so at least we knew he was still with us; however, we had to wait until the following day to see him on ultrasound at the doctor’s office. There he was! Wiggling around happily; however, since we ruled out the cervix as the source of bleeding, it meant it was once again part of the placenta detaching.

We held on for about a month, then our doctor referred us to a perinatologist, or specialist. Because of how early the placenta had pulled away as well as a combination of other concerns, he wanted a second opinion. We ended up splitting our appointments between the two doctors with appointments either weekly or every other week for the rest of the pregnancy.

What a wild and intense ride this was for our little family! We had many needs with two toddlers and Mom on bedrest! Emotionally, as I’m sure you can imagine, it was hard to hold on some days. We faced similar risks as we did during Gavin’s pregnancy; however more so with 10 additional weeks to wait and see. For a time, it felt every appointment would only bring one more piece of bad news to add to the list.

Many moments my heart was so heavy with worry and fear. I even sewed a tiny burial outfit for Leland “just in case” where we were given such grim hopes he would make it. Week by week, we inched forward. I did my best to love up Sennika and Gavin while also taking care of myself and tiny Leland through months of bedrest. Through a series of God-sent miracles that would easily fill 3 long blog posts alone, Leland was born at 39 weeks! Amazingly, there was only about a 3 inch square of his placenta still functioning, yet he was healthy, strong, and weighed in at a “whopping” 8 lbs 9 ounces! His fat rolls had fat rolls! 🙂 No slowed growth as we agonized there likely would be!

We now had 3 healthy babies in only 3 years! Our house was busy, noisy, and full of growing children! It was heaven on earth for my mamma-longing heart!

Our doctors still didn’t have answers for us. As blessed as we had been with living miracles, we knew we weren’t done yet. We continued to easily conceive, but miscarried three times in a row. The last pregnancy was actually a set of twins.

This was a difficult stretch for me. We had prayed for miracles during Gavin and Leland’s pregnancy and we received them! I had witnessed with my own eyes, knowing full well the medical impossibilities of what we had experienced… yet God had somehow always compensated and prepared a way! Why were our miracles all used up now?

At times I wondered if it’s because I didn’t have enough faith. At times I wondered if it was because I wasn’t a good mom. At times I wondered if we were just crazy! Why did we keep getting promptings to continue trying when it kept ending in miscarriage? We were on the verge of just giving up.

After being led to read a particular Ensign article as a couple, we prayed with a new perspective and openness. Rather than a generic “please bless us” prayer, we decided to ask to be guided to the right solutions. This brought information across our path we hadn’t known of or considered before. Maybe the placenta challenges and the miscarriages are actually related? I brought my research to my OBGYN. He listened. We talked about it. We decided to add in a baby aspirin the next time I had a positive pregnancy test. We came back to Heavenly Father as a couple in prayer. We were reassured this was right and additionally, all would be well!

I conceived within about a week. We made it past the 12 week mark! We thought we were in the clear for another miscarriage but at 13 weeks, there was bright red heavy bleeding late one night. As I felt the gush and confirmed what was happening, I felt my heart drop into the floor! “You told me this was going to be okay, Heavenly Father! You know what my family and I’ve given over the years! My heart can’t take another miscarriage or high-risk pregnancy! I can’t put our little family through that again!”

Where I was only 13 weeks along, I knew it wasn’t worth going to the ER unless my bleeding became too heavy to manage at home. We packed a duffle bag with a few necessities, let our parents know in case we needed them to come stay with the kids if we had to go in, and went to bed. I cried myself to sleep praying this little one would be able to stay and I could be strong enough to face the coming hours.

The next time I opened my eyes, it was morning! I was still pregnant! We got into the doctor’s office right away. There was our tiny baby, another boy, happily swimming around on the ultrasound screen. He had a strong heartbeat. The cervix was ruled out as the source of bleeding. Once again, that meant it was the placenta. The bleeding was too heavy to see clearly with ultrasound this time. Being so early on, I took it easy and we waited a few weeks. We came back to the doctor every two weeks. There wasn’t anything that could be done to save our tiny baby if he came this early. All we could do was monitor him and the bleeding, pray, and wait.

Finally, around 20 weeks, the bleeding had clotted off inside the uterus well enough that we could see clearly through ultrasound what was going on. There was an accessory lobe! Sometimes the placenta (or other organs) can grow an extra piece! Since Shipton had continued to keep up with growth at the expected rate, our doctor was confident the accessory lobe is what had pulled away… basically growing the extra piece and the extra piece pulling away simply canceled each other out! It was as if we had a “normal” pregnancy again! Our baby was fine! My body was fine! I was let off bed rest and given instructions to move on with life as if normal. We continued to monitor for any cramping, bleeding, or anything unusual, but Shipton was just fine!

Shipton was born at 38 weeks; he was also healthy, strong, and another 8+ pound baby! After the placenta was passed, the midwife pointed out it wasn’t actually an accessory lobe. It was two placentas of equal size with a single umbilical cord coming from the center of both placentas and the sac around both placentas. Shipton was an identical twin. There is no way of knowing if the bleeding that night was another placental abruption or if it’s when I miscarried Shipton’s teeny twin (who had stopped growing too early on to see in our early ultrasound at 7 weeks).

Wow! We had been through so much! We were so grateful we persisted through 4 miscarriages and another roller coaster pregnancy or we wouldn’t have our Shipton! Although it was a rough ride, Heavenly Father kept His promise to us: all was well in the end!

Our doctor had done further testing during Shipton’s pregnancy. We still didn’t have answers. We also didn’t know if the aspirin had worked or not where, again, we weren’t sure why we had the bleeding. Were we finally done? Is our family complete? That thought brought us peace in new ways we hadn’t experienced before giving Shipton life. We took that question to Heavenly Father when Shipton was only a few weeks old.

We were given a beautiful answer that brings me to tears as I type this here. He basically said, “If you want to be done, I totally get it. What you have given has asked so much of you. But if you are willing, I will send more.” Having been blessed by miracle after miracle, how could we doubt? We knew God would provide a way. And the thought of adding to our family again was thrilling to know how much we love each one of our children. So for the first time in our married life (knowing how fortunately fertile I am), we left it 100% in God’s hands. Every other time, we had “picked our month” to conceive, this time, we let Him choose for us.

… But I didn’t get pregnant! That had also never happened before! I had literally conceived within one month or less of stopping protection 8 times before. We left it in His hand for about 10 months… nothing.

Within about 24 hours of each other, Mark and I were both introduced to the idea of adoption. We both immediately felt right about it, yet, ironically, we both worried what the other spouse would think where it was so “out of the box” for what we had pictured for our family. It was such a tender conversation as we realized our mutual promptings. He told us He would send more children if we were willing—He didn’t say how! We began walking in that direction.

We concluded we wouldn’t make any commitments just yet, but we would start researching the process as well as praying for the miracles we needed in order to add to our family in this way. We concluded we needed a bigger house and a better paying job in order for it to be possible. We expressed to Heavenly Father our willingness and asked for help with these things if this was the right direction.

Literally within two weeks of beginning to pray like this, Mark received an out-of-the blue phone call from the CEO of the company he was working at. Mark hadn’t vocalized anything about our prayers and he hadn’t applied or interviewed for a new position; however, the CEO offered him a new job anyway! We were getting an increase in pay, and since we would have to move to Utah, we could also get that bigger house we knew we needed! We would need to start the new job in 6 weeks. Again, everything fell easily into place with miracle after miracle as we quickly and easily sold the house, found one in Brigham City, and completed our home study for adoption.

I found two verses in the Bible during this whirlwind of a time while deep cleaning, packing up our home, house hunting, and also tackling the mountain of paperwork and requirements to become home study approved. It is one I would return to often as the coming days ahead would lead to questioning, doubting, and ultimately realizing my role in the required miracles for God to fulfill His promises:

As the Children of Israel had finally escaped from Egypt, imagine their panic and horror as they realized they are being followed by Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea is ahead. There is no escape! There is no way through! Listen to what the Lord tells them, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew you today…the Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” God was beginning to teach me how to “hold [my] peace” and trust Him—even in the seemingly impossible. Just like He created a way for the Children of Israel that day when there was seemingly none, He would make a way to fulfill His promises to me. My job was simply to “hold my peace” and let Him take the helm. It would take me a while yet to fully understand that.

We purchased a new home with 5 bedrooms. With how quickly the other miracles had fallen into place in only two months, we were confident we would have our next child in our arms very, very soon. As we moved Shipton into a toddler bed, I set his old crib up in the nursery. I painted and decorated the room. Our home study was finished! We could literally get a call and have a baby in our arms with only a few hours’ warning! All that was left to do was wait for our baby! We were ready!

Weeks went by… then months… then years. As our adoption.com profile only connected us with “adoption scammers,” we spent time considering and pouring into many other avenues: creating two more profiles on other adoption profile websites, creating and sending out “pass along” cards to our family and friends inside our Christmas letter, creating and maintaining an adoption blog and FB page, seriously toying with the idea of an international adoption after we were asked to consider adopting an HIV+ 3-year-old .Sometimes having a “friend of a friend” or extended family member trying to connect us with an expectant mom yet nothing actualizing from it, and Mark and I even did the parenting classes (40 hours per time per parent) for Foster Care. Nothing. Where were these children we were told are coming to us?

I finally took the crib down and donated all of our baby items. It hurt too much to walk past that empty nursery day after day. The empty nursery seemed to taunt me, and soon, my faith. It brought those ugly questions to the surface once again. I “knew” this miracle wasn’t happening because of “my failings”… I wasn’t faithful enough, good enough, or close enough to the Spirit. Along with the darkness and the doubt, other even uglier questions also surfaced in my heart. Why do babies come to couples who literally throw them away in the dumpster, abuse them, neglect them, hurt them, or simply don’t want them? Why can so many couples easily conceive or have easy pregnancies, yet choose not to when others who desperately want a child or more children struggle so much? Maybe God really isn’t there because how could God allow these injustices to happen? Maybe we simply imagined all these impressions up ourselves. Maybe God doesn’t really know me or love me. “Hold thy peace.”

I did my best to work through these painful things with Heavenly Father. Priesthood blessing after blessing, prayer after prayer, time after time of opening my scriptures and worshiping in the temple, He reassured me to wait and see… continue to trust. He hadn’t forgotten me! He loves me! He sees me! I am “good enough”—I always have been! The hard pregnancies and adoption hopes not actualizing had nothing to do with my value and worth! My value and worth does not change or fluctuate based on what is or isn’t happening in my life! He has a plan not only to save and exalt His children collectively, but I also began to realize He also has a plan for each of us individually too. He has a plan for ME! Part of that plan for me included having these experiences… these painful and stretching experiences that have taught me more about compassion, trust, trauma, and love. So, we basically kept adoption open over in a corner of our lives and moved forward as best as possible, pouring into the 4 miraculous gifts we have been given already. These combined experiences gave me an almost natural gratitude for stepping on Legos and the endless loads of laundry and piles of dishes—they were daily and constant reminders of how very much I had already been given!

In the October 2018 General Conference for our church, there were multiple talks that pricked our hearts in this arena. Mark and I began tossing around the general idea of possibly revisiting pregnancy. I was surprised by how open to the idea Mark was. I wasn’t. My heart was so hard. I was so scared and worried. I was no longer “naive” about my prenatal history. After so many pregnancies and only one normal one even with all the exploring we did medically, holistically, and spiritually, what are the chances we would have a low risk pregnancy or not miscarry? I knew I couldn’t handle it. Rather than completely closing off to God, I bared my heart to Him instead.

God surprised me. He answered my concerns by inviting me to learn more about the Atonement. After deep studying one day, a phrase in a book I was reading jumped out at me as if written just for me, “Her faith was based in trust and not in blessings, and would, therefore, withstand any trial.” I realized I had been basing my willingness and faith on conditions. I was basically telling Heavenly Father what to do, and that I was only willing to get pregnant again if He would give me a guarantee that everything would be fine this time. Did I trust Him enough to trust Him without conditions, reservations, and desired blessings?

We decided to set an appointment for me to travel back to Idaho and speak with my old OBGYN about our tentative plans. He might have some new leads since it had been a few years since our last pregnancy. He also shares our faith, so the combination of faith and sound medical advice would be helpful to us as we weigh this. I know not everyone may agree, but because of how much my previous pregnancies had impacted our family, Mark and I decided to bring the kids into the ongoing discussion. They had a few concerns, but were mostly excited. My three oldest kids started praying for me to conceive twins again! We have to hit pause on pregnancy for just a minute because there were several other things happening all at once too.

One day shortly before the thoughts of another pregnancy were even set in motion, Shipton proudly showed me his unintentionally vulgar art project (he spelled Ship with a t instead of p), which I decided to share on FB for anyone else needing a laugh. An expectant mom saw it, thought it was funny, and spent the next few weeks going back to my old posts, reading everything current I was sharing, and finally felt courageous enough to reach out to me.

We chatted back and forth as long as possible the morning she sent me a message. I shared our adoption blog and FB page with her. I updated her on the recent changes in our lives I hadn’t updated on the blog yet, including being honest in wanting any serious expectant moms to know up front about the possibility of our own pregnancy. I also told her my 15 year old sister had moved in with our family, and my parents had recently asked us to consider adopting her too. We were able to get a decent preliminary conversation back and forth in that tiny window of time, and I realized she probably really was “real.” I turned off the electronics and hopped on my flight.

I’m sure you can imagine that I cried for most of that entire flight! How many babies will there be in 2019?! I couldn’t believe the irony, that for years of waiting and waiting, there had been absolutely no children as promised. Suddenly, there were babies and adoptions everywhere! With the kids praying for twins and having conceived twins the previous two pregnancies… at this rate, what are the chances there wouldn’t be 3 babies and a teenager joining our family in one year?! That would double our children from 4 to 8!

After I got back home, the expectant mom and I continued to chat back and forth. Two days after she reached out to me, I sat in the doctor’s office with my old OBGYN. I explained to him the promises we had been given and that we weren’t done adding to our family, our efforts with adoption, and our recent promptings to revisit pregnancy. I told him I needed him to be frank with me. Every other time he walked into the room when I had been bleeding, I was admitted to the hospital, or told our babies had no heartbeats, he had a giant smile on his face. He was so upbeat and positive and encouraging. He cheered me on from week to week through these pregnancies. His confidence and reassurance had carried me through so many heartbreaking and scary moments in my life. That day, however, he was solemn and looked at me with a seriousness I had never before knew he was capable of. “Katy, don’t do it.”

“But didn’t you hear President Oak’s talk at Conference,” I began… “Yes, Katy. And he wasn’t talking to you. He was talking to families who aren’t willing and who are in a situation to have a healthy pregnancy. It is too big of a risk to your own life to get pregnant again. Think about your four beautiful children. Can you risk leaving them without a mother and Mark without a wife? Don’t get pregnant again!”

And as soon as he said it, I knew it was true. This whole compartment in my heart of babies and motherhood had been sealed off and was so highly emotionally charged. I was giving away my heart to God over the years, but only in one tiny shard at a time. I was finally ready to hand Him my whole heart.

I called Mark while driving on the highway, coming back home to Utah. We cried together at this surprising loss. It’s one thing to shut the door temporarily and an entirely different thing to close it permanently—especially when we don’t feel ready to. Mark and I both love being parents! The thought of never again carrying and giving birth to a child in this life was hard to comprehend. Little by little as we studied it out together with God, that was exactly what He was asking of us. I did one of the hardest things (up to that point in my life) and finally handed my whole heart over to Him, trusting Him that this was right.

Things progressed relatively quickly with the expectant mom. Mark and I cried and cried as she shared with us through a Zoom call that she was as sure as possible about adoption and as sure as possible about choosing our family. We were finally matched! Our baby girl was coming soon!

As her housing arrangements changed, the three of us made the decisions to have her temporarily move in with our family while she worked to get on her own feet. She wanted to live close by so we could be involved in the pregnancy as well as be an active part of her baby’s life after the birth. It was still a little hard to believe, but as we went to appointments together, she handed me the ultrasound strips of the baby, insisting she was “ours.”

Mark and I had to make one of the toughest decisions of our lives. We realized that in order for our own family to have what we need, we needed to send my sister back home to my parents. It was unexpected and painful and happened with short notice. We were left reeling and hurting.

After being matched for about 4 months and living with our family for 3 of those months, 24 hours after my sister went home, the expectant mom texted me. She had decided to parent her baby. We wouldn’t be adopting her baby after all.

From our years learning more about adoption, particularly about adoption trauma, we knew this was absolutely the best outcome for the baby, the expectant mom, and their little family as well as my sister and parents and our own family. An open adoption where the birth family is invited to be a part of the child’s life is a second choice—we believe to be considered only after the birth family isn’t possible.

I’ve chosen to take some time and space away from my sister and parents and I’ve chosen to stay in contact with the birth mom. The birth mom later shared with me that it was living with our family, observing us up close, and seeing how much Mark and I love being parents—and how I love motherhood with my whole heart—that gave her the courage to make the changes she needed in her life in order to parent her baby.

It was such a bittersweet time! Mark and I feel so grateful to have played our part in keeping this little family together and inviting reunification with my sister and parents, yet we hurt deeply for our own family’s losses. These were such a complex loss for people around me to understand (or even myself to understand). Now I can articulate: We were planning to adopt my sister until 5 days before she went home. Also, this baby wasn’t a baby that grew inside my uterus, yet she grew inside just as each of my babies have. She grew inside my heart. These were basically miscarriages of sorts. It’s so weird to grieve for something that wasn’t even yours, yet the more space I gave for myself to acknowledge both of these as losses, the more progress I made in grieving and, eventually, healing. Wise words my old OBGYN told me after my first miscarriage, “Loss is loss no matter when it happens. And you need to find ways to grieve your loss.”

It took us a few months to even begin to regroup, and a long time to fully grieve and heal individually and as a family. I had many days where I couldn’t get out of bed until late morning. I felt so confused and broken and empty. Why had this happened?

I could see that God has plans for my life—bigger than my current ability to comprehend! Maybe “sending more children” was a way to speak to me so that I could start stepping in the right direction of all He has in store for me and the ways I can be an instrument for others? Maybe it was time to start living life as if there will be no more babies and additional children coming to us? To quit putting my life’s work off because I’m wanting to leave life open and uncommitted so that we could respond to an adoption situation at the drop of a hat? In this process of seeking to add to our family, my life’s work had become clear. I knew why I’m here on this planet and what my Heavenly Father needs me to accomplish. Maybe this is why He has led me the ways He has?

Mark came to me several months later. “Katy, I know we aren’t done adding to our family yet!” As I took it to God and spent time pondering, I knew he was right. Talk about a yo-yo on my heart! Just when I would start to settle into the idea of no more pregnancies, or adoption, or babies I felt yanked once again back into that place of endless churning.

 As we came together again as a couple after I’d had time to consider, he said, “I really think we need to get pregnant.” Oh that was even harder to hear! Did he not understand what I told him the OBGYN had said? Was he willing to risk being a widower and parenting our children without me? Why would he even think this when we had already closed the door to pregnancy in this life? My heart couldn’t handle one more loss! I told him I wanted to be open to the impressions he was having, and I was going to need some time to work this out with God.

I was at a training and away from home for a week straight. While at training as my heart weighed heavily on these things, I asked one of the group leaders for a priesthood blessing. He didn’t know what was on my heart and mind. He didn’t know the long journey God had been directing us down. He didn’t know we were considering another pregnancy and holding to the hopes of another child… and yet, in that blessing, I was told, “Your child is coming to your family,” and a few other precious and private things. As he took his hands away, I asked him if he really said that. He reassured me, yes he had, and that part was the clearest part for him in the entire blessing. He knew he needed to say that to me in that way.

In a tender phone call to Mark that evening, we marveled together. We decided to spend the time we needed exploring and getting clear on “how” this child was coming to us.

I came home late Saturday night, and went to the temple early Tuesday morning. As I waited for my turn, the scriptures fell open to Ether. I read about an ancient prophet coming to the Lord as he was trying to cross a seemingly impossible ocean with his people. He was told to go figure out a solution to provide the necessary light to their boats while they traveled. As he did the very best he could with what he had available to him and his knowledge, he returned with complete faith, knowing that if the Lord would but touch the stones, they would somehow give light to their journey ahead. He could “hold [his] peace” and let the Lord work the miracles for him.

A peaceful feeling settled on my heart, and I felt my Heavenly Father nudging me to see the application in my own life. I felt God was saying we needed to follow that pattern: do all we can to figure out a solution, return in faith, and He would “touch those stones”—He would bless whichever avenue we deemed best (pregnancy or adoption) to bring this child into our family.

Mark and I discussed it. We felt to write out a pro’s and con’s list of adoption vs. pregnancy. As we worked this list through with God at our side, it became (surprisingly to me) clear to us that pregnancy really was our best choice all around. As hard as it was to hand my heart over to God and close the door on pregnancy in this life, it was even harder to allow Him to pry my heart back open to the idea once again. I can’t explain it easily, but I can see it was one more part of my personally tailored journey and His plan for me. He really did tell us to close the door; He really did tell us to open it again. I believe we all will pass through at least one Abrahamic trial in this life. Like Abraham, we will be asked to sacrifice something so great and so seemingly impossible we simply cannot do it in our own strength. Like Abraham, the only way is “through.” And, like Abraham, as we “against hope believ[e] in hope…[and] stagger not at the promise of God through unbelief,” it will also be “imputed to [us] for righteousness” (Romans 4:18 , 20, 22). As we “believe on [God]…[our] faith is counted for righteousness” (JST Romans 4:5). In speaking of faith, Moroni tells us to “dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6). Did I really trust God this much… to take such a huge leap of faith, fully expecting Him to catch me and my family?

This question sat heavy in my heart all summer long. I allowed God to quietly and gently perform the remaining necessary spiritual heart surgery over the course of the following months. Through another series of miracles too long to detail, I had people, tools, and knowledge cross my path. The tiny glimmer of hope grew into budding faith. I began to believe I really could trust God in all things, including life and death. Little by little, people from different places within my many, many communities began stepping forward to help carry me through the preparations for this seemingly impossible promise to be fulfilled.

I finally reached a point where I knew—with my Savior at my side— I could do what needed to be done: healthy baby, full-term baby, placenta abruption or other high-risk scenarios, miscarriage or stillborn, premature baby, yes, even if it meant giving up my own life if necessary. I would risk my life to bring this child into our family. I could trust God to take care of me and my body, my baby, Mark, and our other children no matter what happened. Through Jesus Christ and His grace, I could do it, and I would. I finally realized “all” I had to do was let go. I had tried to hold myself up for so long! I had fought so hard to preserve my life and the lives of my children! I had tried to make adoption happen! I finally realized in a way I had never been able to see before: I am not in control of any of it. I cannot control life. I cannot control death. God is in control.

We planned to conceive in April, but then the Spirit whispered March, not April. It made zero logical sense! But that peaceful feeling persisted. I “h[e]ld [my] peace,” and we jumped.

We conceived within days of acting on this prompting. I forgot how quickly the morning sickness hits! Just as I had my first suspicions and symptoms of obvious pregnancy, things started to shut down around the country from COVID. The big seminar: canceled until further notice. No need to rush on finishing recordings any more. My training: canceled and happening online later this year. Mark’s work trips: canceled. Our tight schedule in order to finish all these things was literally wiped clean overnight. The whole world stopped, seemingly just for me. It gave me all the stillness and flexibility I needed to truly soak up, love, and celebrate the new life growing inside me. I was reminded for the millionth time just how amazing God is! He knows! We CAN trust Him!!!

I didn’t carry this baby for long. I began spotting. I was so surprised. We thought for sure this baby would “stick” after everything our communities did to help us prepare. As the bleeding picked up, I filled the tub as I have had so many miscarriages before. As I lay there waiting to pass my baby and crying, I realized it had to be this way. In order for it to be a true and full test of my heart, I had to believe there was a child joining our family earth side. I had to be willing to give it all. Now God was mercifully ending this pregnancy and guaranteeing my continued life in the most gentle miscarriage my body, mind, and spirit has ever had.

I have never felt such peace before as I did in that moment. Heavenly Father knows how very hard this whole process has been for me, but especially the rigors of this very last step. He sees how I have finally learned to give Him my whole heart and my will through this process. And He is so proud of me! Especially that we would trust Him enough in the timing of one month earlier than made logical sense to us. He wanted to give the gift of a still world to me for this brief pregnancy; that bonus gift was based completely on our willingness to trust Him. In that moment, I realized I had finally learned to let go of everything and trust and love God in ways I never understood were possible. I have never felt so much love in my entire life as I did in that precious moment with God. The following months (and surely years and years to come) will be about stabilizing out in this new place and discovering unseen places to explore in its depths.

We didn’t plan to ever share this publicly where it is so tender to us, yet it feels right to do so now. For the first time, Mark and I are finally at peace. We are still fairly young. If there were ever an opportunity to adopt within a situation our family could say yes to, of course we would! Otherwise, we have peace we have accomplished what is needed. There will be no more pregnancies. There will be no more maintaining adoption profiles or adoption pages. We are “done.”

Although it turned out far from how I expected it would, Heavenly Father has absolutely fulfilled His promises to me! As the twists got crazy and the turns seemed like they would never come back around, it didn’t seem like He would be able to. I can now recognize I was still trying to hold myself up. There is no way I could have made it happen, but nothing is too hard for the Lord! Nothing is impossible for God! We can choose to trust. We can choose to let God. We can allow Him to work in our lives.

I’m not a finished product; I expect to have a long life of learning and growing ahead of me… yet this vista in my journey has been more breathtaking than I ever imagined it possibly could be! I know I have angel babies waiting for us to raise in the millennium! Our children who needed to experience mortality are miraculously here on earth; they are ours to walk with through this life and forever!

And most of all, I am amazed at the massive overhaul these tender experiences have made possible inside my heart! I now know we can *always* trust God; I know His promises will *always, always* be fulfilled as we exercise faith based on trusting Him. He literally is love; He only parents for our betterment! His sole purpose is for us to return to our Heavenly Parents having become like Them. He has a private and personally tailored plan for each one of us—that is one of only a handful of solid and constant things in this ever-changing world. Because it is solid and because it is unchanging, it is true! We can always trust truth!  And we can always trust God… that He really is leading us along in His wonderful plans and designs for us as well as growing us towards our part in His collective plan for all His children. May God grant us the grace and strength to remember, to always praise His name, to let go and let God, to trust Him, and to “hold [our] peace” while He works miracles in our lives to fulfill His promises to us.

All my love,~Katy

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: EVERYONE

Since this quarantine has started, I don’t think life has gone according to plan for just about anyone. It seems it has affected us all in one way or another. I liked this thought I saw about all of us being in the same storm, but each of us being in different boats. I wanted to share some perspectives from different boats.

Emma, “My name is Emma and I live in Riverton, Utah. I have six kids: 19, 16, 14, 11,8, 2. My oldest was attending BYU in her first year. My next four kid’s schools are 1-3 blocks from our house. Their teachers made it super easy to do school at home. They haven’t overloaded my kids either (only about 1-2 hours/day of school)… they’ve left plenty of downtime. We have had our moments of arguments, but miraculously they have been very few. Seriously, I was expecting a lot of arguing, but it has been a nice surprise to see the bonding we’ve experienced. One thing I decided, in the beginning, was to make a conscious choice to give up a lot my normal routine, put aside some projects I had on my schedule, and just be with my kids. I still got up early for prayer, scriptures, and pondering though…I have found that is critical for me to fill my cup first before my kids get up.

I do have to admit, I was kind of excited that my kids would be home all the time. I might be in the EXTREME minority, but I’ve hit that stage in motherhood when your little chicks are growing up and starting to leave the nest or are too busy working and hanging out. Also, when you have multiple kids, all with different interests, even if you limit them to 1-2 extracurricular activities, life is a lot of running around with schedules that don’t allow for a lot of time where we’re all home together. So, for the most part, I’ve loved quarantine life.

Four blessings that I’ve noticed in my family during this quarantine time:
1) our family is bonding better now than at any other time.
2) a lower level of anxiety in two of my kids-they have been much more at peace when they’ve been able to be home and have me by them as they do school.
3) Increased time to be creative, read my giant pile of books, and have more talks with my kids
4) Sundays. Each Sunday we have been able to have church at home. We have been able to partake of the sacrament, sing hymns, and have some of the BEST Come Follow Me lessons we’ve ever had. I will treasure these moments with my family.

If Quarantine hasn’t been so great in your home, I hope that peace and hope will come to you as you keep trying, keep moving forward, and taking it one moment at a time.”


Kendra, “I first have to say that I almost feel guilty in admitting that our lives have not been dramatically affected by Covid-19 and the orders to stay home because I know it has flipped some people’s worlds upside down.

I am a wife and mom to three kids. My husband goes to work at 6:30 in the morning and gets home around 8:30 after the kids have usually gone to bed. I have been so grateful that he is still working during this time and feel truly blessed to still have our normal income. There are people being laid off and our hope is that seniority will prevent that. Because I do know that would be a trial amongst many others.

Our oldest is in first grade, our middle child in kindergarten and the youngest in preschool. So having them home with me all hours of the day is very familiar. We have very organized teachers to help the schooling at home run smoothly. We start our schooling in the mornings after breakfast and finish up within a couple hours and have the rest of the day to play, luckily outside. A hard part is watching other kids play with their friends and telling their little hearts why we are choosing not to okay with friends, but know that this time will pass.

We miss our weekly adventures to parks and libraries and even just a quick run to the grocery store. But we want to keep our workers as safe as possible. So we are willing to sacrifice in small areas of our lives to help others. Because we know this isn’t forever.”


Taylor, “Life in quarantine for me has not been easy. I was in Utah, and once returning to Canada I had to quarantine myself for 14 days. The first week was hard, which is honestly an understatement. I don’t like large groups, but I am a person who needs human interactions. I need hugs, and one on one conversations. Struggling with multiple mental illnesses, especially Borderline Personality Disorder, and having to isolate myself, has triggered my fear of abandonment greatly. I’ve felt alone and distant from everyone I love, which has left me to feel like everyone is leaving me, even though they aren’t. I’ve felt trapped, and it’s been really scary for me. I fell into a very dark depression, accompanied by severe panic attacks daily. Also, this was my first Easter I’ve spent without my family, my family lives 12 hours away, I always go home for Easter, but this year I couldn’t because of the virus. That was really hard. It’s all been really hard.

It’s been almost a month since I’ve been home in Canada, in self-quarantine. I wish I could say that I’m used this time to better myself and get my priorities straight and such, but I can’t. I have truly just been in survival mode. But in the last week, the depression has lifted, and the panic attacks aren’t so bad. That first week of quarantine I truly didn’t think I would make it. I was in the darkest place I have been, in years, if not ever. I felt suffocated every moment of every day. But now I’m starting to breathe again, my chest doesn’t feel so heavy anymore. The sun truly does rise. Maybe not the next morning, but eventually, it will. That’s what I’ve learned this last month. God is still good. I have felt comforted during this time. It’s been so hard, but I know that these experiences will refine me, which I am forever grateful for.”


David, “During this pandemic I’ve felt set apart from the rest of my community. Job loss, sudden illness, transitioning to school and work from home, these are affecting many people very personally, but not me—or at least not as directly. I’m a single man, working an essential job, and I’ve been going to school online for years.

My painful transition in this pandemic is social distancing. I understand why we’re doing it, but it has left me feeling isolated and disinterested. I don’t want to see any more memes on social media, I don’t care how celebrities or families are getting creative with their “corona-cation,” I’m just ready to have a game night with some friends or have dinner with my parents. I’m ready to feel connected again.

Despite these difficulties, the pandemic has also left me with time to self-reflect and accept some parts of myself that I want to change. I’m starting to realize how many things I took for granted.

I’m not calling for an opening of the economy or to reduce social distancing, I just want you all to know that even a simple smile or personal message could do more good than sharing another post about your opinion.”


Cori, “How has my life changed because of this COVID-19 pandemic and being in Quarantine? Let’s just say it has DRASTICALLY changed.

I have OCD and tend to focus on the negative so firstly, let’s start with the positive. I have been able to connect with others I haven’t in a long time. I am in a book club with some friends from work and we connect through Zoom. I am also taking different fitness classes online since I am unable to attend the gym. It’s been great taking classes with people I went to high school with. Also, I have been reading more than ever (started the BOM again!) and supporting my local food trucks, other businesses, and have loved to see the connection of the small city of Kaysville come together.

Alright… but what is REALLY ON MY MIND! I haven’t been to work in 4 WEEKS!!! This is the longest I have gone in 4 years without leaving the state/country. I am a flight attendant, so I am out of work. NEVER in a million years would I have thought I would be someone who would file for unemployment, but here I am unable to go back to work until August 1, 2021, and it might be even longer. I work for Delta Air Lines, and they have cut their flights by 80%. They are losing money by the minute. So… that is a constant worry. There are so many things I could talk about how my life is different in just these last 5 weeks, but the main one besides work is I miss my grandpa! I usually see my grandpa 3-4 times a week, and I didn’t see him for 5 weeks straight. It was the darkest feeling I’ve ever felt. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS TO BE OVER!!!”


Andrew, “At first, I didn’t think this whole thing has affected me very much. I’m still able to go to work and do the things that I need to do. I see things going around on the internet about introverts and extroverts and how this really isn’t affecting the introverts as much. I laugh because that’s how I feel. I’m the type that stays home, in my room, doing my own thing.

But then I look at the family that I haven’t seen since this started. Yes, I have still seen some of them and will continue to do so. If they need my help, I will do what I can to help them. But there are some that I haven’t seen. There are family parties that haven’t happened. There has been more extreme caution with some. And there are some that are scared. Not necessarily scared for themselves, but scared for their family and friends that might be a little more susceptible to getting sick. My heart aches for my family and friends that all of this has taken a toll on, physically and mentally.

I’ve been blessed. I guess I’m the one that’s more relaxed. Not relaxed about how serious this is or could be. But relaxed as in, either way, we still move forward. Maybe it’s because of how I was raised, that the difficulties you face, you just keep going. But it’s also because of my faith. I know there’s more than just this life. Yes, want to keep ourselves, our families, our friends, everyone safe. But we do all that we can to help others, and then we have to just leave it at that. It’s in His hands.”


As for me, I have gone from extreme anxiety to peace all within an hour. This is the most anxiety I have had in the past 6 months. I have started having chest pains again. My Vitamin D levels have also been low, which has affected my breathing again so needless to say that really freaked me out but I am making sure I get outside to soak up some sun. Most days have been hard, but I am so grateful for the days that have been good. I have been praying constantly through this and am always trying to give myself pep talks to just live in the present moment and worry about things as they come.

My family has been getting along just great. My oldest is in preschool and her wonderful teacher has been dropping off school packets every two weeks for us to continue to do. She misses her classmates but hasn’t seemed to be phased too much. She just keeps saying, “When the virus is gone can we _____?” My husband is doing all of his schoolwork from home, which wasn’t too different than before. We have only been going to the grocery store every two weeks and occasionally have gotten curbside takeout or food delivered.

I am happy to stay in my home where I believe it is safe and protected. When life does go back to “normal” I don’t know that I will be ready and willing to jump right back into things right away. I am just keeping my eyes on the Prophet and waiting to receive more guidance from him and our Heavenly Father.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Jenn

Jenn and I actually became friends because of our bonding over moving to Texas. She saw my post about moving and sent me a message. A couple weeks later we had a playdate and have been friends since. She told me about this experience the first time we met and I knew it had to be shared. Miracles are real and things happen as a blessing in disguise.
Jenn is originally from Denver, and her little family is from Boise. They currently live in Texas while her husband earns a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has a 7-year-old daughter, 4-year-old son, and 2-year-old daughter (the one her story is about). She works super part-time from home as a paralegal. She likes to read (ok mostly listen to audiobooks), workout at Orange Theory, drink diet Dr. Pepper, and she’s a decent cook, although she would like it a lot better if someone did the shopping and cleaning!


Sometimes we make a plan and God sends us in a completely different direction.  It is often difficult to understand why life isn’t going according to our own plan, but in time, we can come see the beauty of His plan and not picture life any other way.  One of these instances brought my family one of our greatest blessings.

As we were exploring Greg’s academic options to further his career we learned of a program in North Carolina that felt like the right fit and began the application process as soon as we could.  Several things happened during this time to make us feel like this was the right direction for us to take. In fact, we were so certain that when I wondered aloud what we would do if Greg didn’t get in, he jokingly said we would have a baby!  We laughed and didn’t bring it up again. However, God must have been listening and did what He needed to do to get Charlotte to our family.  

Despite everything feeling like it would be smooth sailing to North Carolina, Greg ended up being denied admittance and asked to apply again the following year.  We were shocked! And I will admit I was pretty upset and angry. It was so difficult to understand why everything had seemed so right when it turned out it wasn’t.  I quickly recalled our conversation about having another baby and felt very nervous. At this time, Parker was only a year and a half old and he was beginning to enter “terrible two” territory so the thought of adding to our family so soon was intimidating.  However, we decided to go ahead and try to get pregnant during the time we were waiting for school applications to open up again.  

I soon became pregnant with Charlotte and was grateful to still be in Meridian, surrounded by good friends and an amazing doctor (Dr. Uranga) who had also delivered Adalynn and Parker.  At around 16 weeks a nurse practitioner ran some precautionary labs because of a rash I had. She said the condition she was checking for was rare and she was not concerned at this time, nor when the lab results came back.  However, after discussing the lab results with Dr. Uranga a couple of weeks later, she decided to run a repeat set of labs since the first were too close to abnormal for her comfort. These results came back outside of the normal range and I was sent to see a high-risk pregnancy specialist.  

The specialist diagnosed me with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP), a pregnancy induced liver condition which caused my body to have abnormally high levels of bile in my blood.  Outside of pregnancy these levels do not cause problems, but during pregnancy the excess bile could get to the placenta and harm the baby. I was a rare case of ICP for a few reasons: first because while my blood showed high levels of bile acid, I was not experiencing any of the physical symptoms (mainly severe itching) that come with ICP, and also because I developed it so early in my pregnancy, ICP typically does not arise until the end of the 3rd trimester, plus the fact that I didn’t have ICP with either of my previous 2 pregnancies.  Because of this, and the high risk of stillbirth if left unchecked, it was decided that the baby and I would be monitored very closely for the remainder of my pregnancy to keep an eye on my bile acid levels and monitor the baby for any signs of distress.  My blood was taken and sent to the lab at least once a week and I started with weekly, then twice weekly, then every other day appointments for non-stress tests and ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s growth and movement.  

As my pregnancy progressed Dr. Uranga needed to make a decision on when to deliver the baby.  The highest risk of stillbirth comes after 32 weeks of pregnancy, which is still too early for a baby to be born without complications from prematurity.  For weeks we walked a fine line between wanting our baby girl to have enough time to grow and develop as long as possible and needing to keep her from being poisoned by the bile in my blood.  We were truly blessed that although my bile acid levels remained elevated, they never spiked high enough to require emergency delivery and I never fully contracted the physical symptoms of ICP.  I was anticipating the uncontrollable itching to start and got anxious anytime I felt a bit itchy but surprisingly, it never came! We were also so blessed that Charlotte passed each and every NST and ultrasound with flying colors.  Her growth and movement was steady and normal. I trusted my doctor completely and knew she had both of our best interests in mind. Because of all of this I was able to make it to 37 weeks pregnant, the longest Dr. Uranga was willing to let me get because this was the point where the risk of premature delivery was smaller than the risk of stillbirth due to ICP.  

At this point in time Greg had applied to 2 PhD programs and was accepted for interviews at both.  There were a few stressful weeks when we worried she would need to come while he was out of town but in the end, our baby’s delivery date fell right in between these 2 interviews so he was able to be there for her birth without worrying about missing an opportunity for school admission.  

When my C-section was performed Dr. Uranga observed that my uterus had thinned so much it was nearly clear and she could see Charlotte’s feet through the uterine wall, like looking at her kick in a swimming pool.  She told us later that this put me at a significant risk of uterine rupture and she was almost certain this would have occurred had we waited to deliver Charlotte until 39 or 40 weeks like my other 2 children. Uterine rupture would have most likely been fatal to both me and my baby.  The ICP diagnosis and treatment protocol was a blessing in disguise that ultimately saved both my life and Charlotte’s life. I believe ICP was a way Heavenly Father could watch out for us to make sure Charlotte was delivered early enough to avoid catastrophic complications, without causing either of us too much additional pain or stress.  

Now, Charlotte is a beautiful 2 year old who is a joy to our family and beloved by so many.  She is brave and feisty and smart and sweet and we couldn’t imagine our family without her in it!  And Greg was accepted to both PhD programs he applied to and we ended up in Texas instead of North Carolina.  When I first received news of my ICP diagnosis I distinctly remember hearing the words “This is why” run through my head and I immediately knew this baby and this pregnancy were the reason Greg didn’t get into school when we thought he would.  Looking back I can see now that it would have been SO much harder to go through a complicated pregnancy without a doctor I loved and trusted completely. Had we moved to North Carolina as expected I would have been in a small town and I would not have had quick and easy access to the specialist and hospital I needed.    I will never forget Dr, Uranga’s care, instinct, and persistence in making sure we got the best possible care.  

I also know I would have had a much harder experience without support, help, and love from countless incredible friends.  My friends signed up for times to watch my children so I never had to take the other two to my many (and often lengthy) doctor appointments.  They brought dinners and treats that were so thoughtful and specifically for me because my diet had to be closely monitored to keep my bile acids low.  Many offered to be “on-call” at any time of day or night if I needed to go to the hospital for monitoring or delivery. I would have felt like such a burden to dump this onto strangers in a new town but these dear friends we so loving, giving, and supportive I never felt this way with them.  I truly could not have done it without each one of them and will forever be grateful for the love and service they showed my little family.  

None of this was what I had planned or even saw coming but I know this is one of those times when God’s plan for me was far better than my own, even when I couldn’t see it.   I have no doubt that Heavenly Father had his hand in this pregnancy in making sure that even though it was difficult and scary, it was not impossible and did not devastate my family.  When I feel alone or forgotten or like my problems are silly, I remember this experience to remind myself that I am His child, He loves me, I matter, and to trust in Him.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Stacy

Stacy posted in the SALT Gathering group on Facebook about her struggle with infertility so I sent her some of the previous stories that have been shared on this blog to hopefully help her. (Thank you to those of you who have shared, it truly helps people more than you’ll ever know!) She told me she has felt similar feelings and agreed to sharing her own story.
Stacy stays at home with her 4 year old. She loves Target. She loves decorating her home and she loves being with her people! She enjoys watching super dramatic shows and anything murder mystery but also loves the classics like “The Office”!


I married Cory in October 2014 I’ve always knew I wanted to be a mom more than anything and was hoping we’d have a baby pretty quick – well we did! We were pregnant by December and we had our daughter, Payton, at the end of August!

Being a mom is everything I ever expected and more! I really did always know I’d love being a mom but I didn’t know it was this good! It’s for sure a challenge and sometimes it is insane and hard but it’s worth all of it! I am not very close in age to my siblings and I knew I wanted my kids to be close, so we started trying right at a year after we had Payton to have another one. I wasn’t the least bit stressed because we had no problems getting Payton here! Well it was in August 2016 when we started trying and by December I was a little discouraged, but I knew that it can take a year and others had way harder and longer waits. But by the following August nothing.

I went to the Doctor and he put me on Chlomid, which did nothing. I did a few rounds then I went to a fertility specialist, Dr. Petersen, who is the most amazing guy ever! I thought for sure we’d have no issues, that it’d be something easy and we’d be pregnant by the end of the year. Nope! We did Chlomid as well as Femara, with an injection and nothing. So we redid the whole cycle and same thing thing. This time we had to do an IUI and nothing happened with that either.  I was getting miserable on the Chlomid. I was way uptight, hot flashes, and insane mood swings. I was also gaining weight and was just miserable! Dr. Petersen calls this the “divorce” drug and I totally can see why! We tried a few cycles with Femera and nothing either.

At this point it’d been almost two years since we started trying and I was discouraged. I had to take a break for my sanity and my emotions and marriage and to be a good mom to Payton. When I went back to Dr. Petersen he said we could do injections that were more aggressive so we did. They are so expensive and at this point we had already paid so much, but I felt so confident in it so I went with it and nothing!

I was done. I felt so much anger and hurt at the whole situation. We haven’t done any sort of fertility treatments since then. A week after my negative test my sister-in-law announced she was pregnant, adding to other sister-in-laws who were already pregnant. It’s a very weird feeling… I would never wish them this pain but I’m bitter. I’ve had to keep my distance at times.

I find myself questioning everything. Are we not good parents? Why is God withholding this righteous desire from me? I feel isolated because I know there are others who don’t have one and my heart hurts for them. I have a great husband, an amazing daughter, and so why should I be complaining? I feel guilty even being sad. My heart hurts.

We decided we were going to another round of fertility treatments and I’m nervous but I can’t stop. My faith is so low right now and that makes me more nervous but this pain inside me isn’t going away and I want to try on my end and trust the Lord that the pain will get a little less every day or we will get pregnant. I know it’s in His timing but I’m struggling with that!

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Norma

If you don’t know Norma, then I promise you want to. She became a very dear friend when I moved into her ward two years ago. She has blessed my life in countless ways and I love and admire her so much! I am grateful for the example she is of turning hard things, like going through a divorce, into a way that can bless others.
Norma lives in Utah. She is remarried and is learning the ropes of blending a family. She has taken her experiences and now helps other women find their light through online classes and coaching programs. She is host of SPARK, the Light Within Podcast. She is also a speaker, writer, and educator. You can follow her on Instagram @normazaugg or @sparkpodcast, on facebook @sparkpodcasts, or for classes or coaching visit her website.


I was in a fog and having a hard time comprehending what was happening to me. I woke up morning after morning hoping that it was all just a bad dream. I was in so much pain, actually it was beyond pain, It was agony. Crying myself to sleep hadn’t eased the pain, it just left me with eyelids that felt like sandpaper and emptiness that I couldn’t fit. That is felt like no one could fix. I was angry at my husband and angry at God. I had been a good person my entire life, how could he allow this to happen.

Sit-ups then more sit-ups
roll over
push ups
do more… keep going!

My little boys sat on the carpet beside me. Three boys ages 8, 6, and 2 with their big eyes and curious minds watching their mommy struggle through the exertion. I couldn’t hide the pain from them, it had become a part of me in such an intense way.

Norma get up. Keep moving!

I was afraid that if I stayed still too long the anxious energy that held my body captive, and the uncomfortable pain coursing through my veins would take over. I worried that if I stopped for even a moment I would become pixelated, and little pieces of me would float away and I would be lost forever.

My body was exhausted from all the tears that had been shed and the restless nights that were filled with terrifying dreams. I would be lying if I said that part of me just didn’t want to give in to the moment and explode into nothingness. I had experienced anxiety before, but never to this extent and honestly, I didn’t know if my heart could take it. It seemed as if my blood had thickened and my poor heart had to work extra hard to push it through my body.

Some days I wanted to give in just like this day, but all I had to do was look into the eyes of my three little boys and know that was not an option.

My arms were shaking from the exertion of the push ups, I fell onto my rough carpet and lay there for only a moment before I recognized I needed something more. I knew myself well enough to know that I needed some time alone to eliminate these overwhelming emotions. The last thing I wanted was for any of this nasty energy to pour into my children. I called a friend and asked her if she could take my little boys for a while. She agreed and I took them over to play so that I could go and calm the battle that was raging inside of me.

That day I went to the park and I ran and ran and ran and prayed. I begged for some relief from the intensity of the moment.

I wish that this was the only day like this, but as time marched forward I experienced many more that tried my heart and soul. I didn’t like the feelings and quickly learned that running and temple attendance were the only things that I could do to calm the storm inside of me. I created a regular routine that included both as I moved forward through my divorce proceedings. The following months were anything but easy. I had to learn how to be a single mom except for the few days a month that my soon to be ex-husband took the boys. I had to learn new things that my husband had done like care for my vehicles and take care of the lawn. Thank heavens for an amazing father, brother in law, and other men in my church that came to help when the work was beyond my skill set. I had to learn to be by myself after 18 years of marriage.

More than anything I just wanted life to become easy, I wanted it to go back to normal and I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. If you asked me at the time I would have wondered if I could make it. I had doubts every single day and worried that my broken heart wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Time moved forward like it always does and God provided hope and relief that was greater than the anguish. It was not easy, but it was possible. I look back on those dark days now and recognize that they helped to form me into something different. Something better than I was before. I promise that if you move forward through times like these believing in God with full purpose and giving him all that you have, you too will find hope and peace and light.

Sending Buckets of Love,


When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Lexi

Lexi and I are part of a networking group on FB, so when she asked people to share her story I was happy to since that’s part of what I’m all about here. I am proud of her for being so brave in sharing something so personal.
Lexi is 27 years old and has way too many passions for her own good! Between working in healthcare, photography and her blog she stays very busy. She wears her heart on her sleeve and loves to inspire others! Some of her hobbies include cooking, jamming out to music, being social, going boating, and being adventurous!


Lately, I’ve been somewhat quiet on social media and there’s a reason for that. Life has been a little bit crazy and I’ve been having to make a lot of big decisions and I just didn’t have time or energy to put into social media. One of those big decisions is time sensitive, which was what lead me to finally doing this blog post.

Please bear with me throughout this post, it is not something that is easy for me to write, talk, or ask about. I’ve rewritten this post probably 100+ times over the last year. And here I am again, shaking as I am writing, but this time I have to muster up the strength to hit publish. I’m asking that if you aren’t willing to be understanding or take the time to try to see my perspective that you please keep your comments or assumptions to yourselves. I am going to lay it all out there and be the most vulnerable and transparent that I have ever been.

As some of you may know, I was diagnosed with endometriosis a little over a year ago, I was diagnosed after having surgery. You can read more about that here.

Post surgery I’ve had to make a lot of big decisions and it has been super stressful but I am beyond grateful for the diagnosis that I have now as opposed to not knowing for years from now.

Here’s what has happened since surgery, I hadn’t even fully woken up yet when my OB was telling me that I need to get pregnant sooner than later and that I had no choice but to start on medication ASAP. This was devastating for me to hear, how am I supposed to make that happen when I’m not married yet? I hadn’t even had two seconds to process the fact that I do have endometriosis and this is why I had been getting so many burst ovarian cysts. While I felt a lot of relief that I finally had an answer to my cysts and occasional pain, I immediately started worrying. It was explained to me that the medication I should be on was one that would put me into menopause, at only 26 years old. It would require 6 months of injection and once you’re done with the injections the medication can stay in your body for up to a year as time goes on and it gets out of your system you will begin to ovulate normally again. This did not sit well with me, so I got a second opinion from multiple OB’s and a fertility specialist because knowing my luck my body wouldn’t react well and it didn’t make sense for me to mess up my hormones when they are currently perfect and suitable for a viable pregnancy. I wanted to research all of my options, and avoid the whole ‘temporary menopause’ thing if at all possible. The second and third OB’s advised me in order to protect my fertility that I need to be on some sort of medication, whether that be Lupron or birth control, and that I should look further into freezing my eggs, just in case, because at this point I was 6 weeks post-op and had been having immense pain – worse pain than I had before my surgery. The surgery had removed most of the endometrial cells, but it exacerbated my pain.

I then met with the fertility specialist and I will never forget the feeling I had sitting in the waiting room. I felt incredibly guilty and selfish for being there, my eyes welled with tears as I looked around. Here I was, as far as I know, able to conceive and get pregnant on my own, waiting to meet with a specialist to talk about potentially messing up my hormones and my options for ‘what if I can’t get pregnant naturally’ when I haven’t even been in a situation to try. All I could think about were the other people sitting in the waiting room alongside me who were struggling to start a family of their own and how I felt so selfish for being there when I have a high chance of being able to conceive on my own as long as I manage my diagnosis. The thing that kept going through my head was, “You are so selfish for being here, you aren’t in these peoples’ situation, why are you here?”

But guess what? After speaking with the fertility specialist, I was gently reminded about how smart I was for seeking out her opinion and how proactive I am being for my future family. Especially with such a strong family history of severe endometriosis. Reality is that I don’t know what the future holds for me and being pregnant, I’ve never been in a situation where I have tried to become pregnant. As of right now each of my doctors believes I should be able to conceive on my own but are strongly advising that I begin other precautions as well. I do know that by choosing to manage my diagnosis, staying on birth control and freezing my eggs before the age of 28 (aka-the other precautions) I will have the reassurance that my mom, aunt, and grandmother didn’t have and I am being proactive about giving myself the best chance possible at having a family.

Currently, I am established with a fertility specialist and the first thing we spoke about were the serious issues that could occur if I am unable to get on top of my pain. I am unable to laugh, sneeze, move certain ways, breathe deeply, etc. without being in pain on my left side. Sometimes even walking will cause my ovaries to flare up on a bad day. The pain feels like someone is stabbing a knife into my body and twisting it repeatedly which in turn causes nausea a lot of the time. I am not the type to take pain pills every day, in fact, I only take them if the pain is bad enough to land me in the ER. As much as I try not to let it affect my life, it has. I’ve been living with it for a little over a year now praying that it will get better and more manageable as time goes on, but so far I haven’t had much luck. We discussed that at some point my left ovary may need to be removed. This does not mean I cannot get pregnant, it simply means my eggs are cut in half and it may be more difficult. I hope it doesn’t come to this, but if it does, it is yet another reason for me to take precautions and freeze my eggs.

The second thing we did was come up with a regimen of the medication that would put me into menopause that was pill-based, so if I reacted poorly to it at any point I could stop taking it. I was on this regimen for 9 weeks and had so many awful side effects that my dr. and I decided that for now, I am better off being on birth control and preparing to freeze my eggs.

Since making this decision I have felt immense pressure, physically, emotionally and financially. Enduring and learning how to live with this pain that used to only happen on occasion for me has been a major adjustment. The entire process has been so emotionally taxing and it’s only the beginning. I feel so much guilt about the fact that I am having to make these decisions by myself, especially because the decisions I make now are going to impact a man I’m not yet married to. Vulnerable because it’s not something I necessarily want to open up to people about, especially because I am still single and dating. I really hope that people won’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions about my situation. Also feeling vulnerable because this is the most important decision that I am making in my life and this decision will lead to the most important thing to me: creating a family. Guilt because I have friends who have struggled with infertility, whose hormones aren’t normal when mine are. Lately, I’ve been having panic and anxiety attacks anytime someone announces a pregnancy or has a baby because it’s a reminder about how I am on a time limit to freeze my eggs. Confused because although I love my friends and am SO happy for them, I still get sad. And I don’t feel justified in how I am feeling.

After I met with the finance advisor at my specialist’s office I was under a completely new type of pressure. The process of freezing your eggs is not cheap even with some things being covered by health insurance. I walked out of the office with a bowling ball in my throat and cried crocodile tears in my car for hours. Having a family means more to me than anything, and I know that I will make it happen, but after that meeting I was so overwhelmed. How am I supposed to come up with $14,000 when I’m only making enough to pay my bills and save a little here and there? Financially I have been under so much pressure to save large sums of money without the means to do it. Not able to qualify for grants or scholarships because I’m not in a ‘couple’ or I don’t have a ‘100% diagnosis of infertility’. In order to freeze my eggs within the timeframe suggested by my doctors, I need to come up with $14,000 in 12 months. I’m not in a spot financially that allows me to save a lot, I do what I can but I also have bills to pay. Racking my brain I constantly felt like it would never happen, I felt so defeated and anxious but knew that I would do whatever I could to figure it out.

Then one day I hosted a brunch with girlfriends and my friend Emily came up with the idea as I was telling her about my situation. She said, “Why not do a GoFundMe?” I told her I had thought about it but I didn’t feel right just taking people’s money. And then she said this, “Well you do photography! Offer people a service and have them pay the account instead of paying you directly.” I felt better about this but still wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to do, especially because it meant I would have to open up about what I’ve been dealing with over the past year and a half.

But as you can see, here I am, telling all of you my story, opening up about the fact that I am hoping to begin the process of freezing my eggs before I reach the age of 28 which will be June 2020. As soon as I raise the money, I will be beginning the process. I am absolutely terrified of all of this. Of opening up, of asking for help, of going through the process of actually freezing my eggs. As terrifying as this all may be, I know in my soul it will be worth it. I will do whatever I need to do in order to have a family someday even if it means taking these precautions now and opening up to the internet. I’m not sure what all of the answers are, but I do know I am choosing a route that will be best for me in the long run and I am attempting to do it all while staying positive and vulnerable.

I want to officially announce that I have set up a bank account created for the sole purpose of paying to freeze my eggs. This bank account is also directly attached to a Venmo account if you prefer to donate/pay that way as opposed to making a direct deposit. All proceeds from photography sessions I do that involve anything regarding family will be placed or paid to this bank account.

These sessions can take place now, or you can donate and have your session take place at a later date (for example, you aren’t pregnant but you’d like to donate and receive a future maternity session, or you haven’t had your baby yet but would like to donate and receive a newborn session once the baby is born). I want my clients to know that they are contributing to a cause much bigger than my passion for photography, I want to give back to those that donate. You are helping me to be proactive about having a family of my own someday. To those that choose to donate without doing a session and those that are doing a session, there are no words I could say to thank you enough. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions you might have!

LC Photography (2)

To see the type of sessions Lexi is offering and the price, along with how to pay/donate you can go here and scroll to the bottom.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Anonymous 4

The person who wrote this post is a very near and dear friend. It breaks my heart the things she has experienced in the last several months. What would you do if the person you fell in love with became someone else after getting married and left you one day? Read on to find out what she did.

#4627 Ally & Dan b&w

Hello! Ally asked me to write a blog post about some of the struggles that I have had during my marriage, and why I am currently grappling with the decision of whether or not to get divorced. I will frankly discuss verbal and emotional abuse/manipulation, as well as mental health, including suicidality and self-harm, which may be upsetting to some. I have decided to remain anonymous—first of all, because my story is ongoing, second of all, to protect my husband and me—some of the things I will discuss are sensitive, and I would prefer to keep them confidential at this time. However, if you or someone you know is going through something similar, and needs someone to talk to, please feel free to ask Ally for my contact information. I would also be willing to share my story in other ways, although I would still prefer to remain anonymous at this time. I sincerely would be happy to help however I can. Something I have learned in the midst of my trial is that support is absolutely crucial to being able to work through your thoughts and feelings and to see things clearly.

To explain how I got into this situation, I think it would be prudent to explain why I got married in the first place. When I first met my husband, the thing that stood out the most was how easy he was for me to talk to. While we were dating, he was attentive, charming, kind, compassionate, empathetic, honest, and charismatic. He was a true gentleman, and he was always going out of his way to make me feel special, and to show me respect. It seemed like so many things in both of our lives had lined up perfectly for us to meet each other. At one point, while we were dating, I unknowingly quoted part of his patriarchal blessing to him. It seemed like the stars were aligning. I usually take time to get to know someone, but I began to open up to him in ways that I hadn’t been able to open up to anyone before, and he listened with great care. I slowly began to fall in love with him.

I feel like it would be misleading to leave out a few parts of this love story. First of all, I have gone back many times and wondered if I made a mistake by dating him at all. I remember having an impression that I shouldn’t date him, very early in our courtship, and it troubled me a lot. I was afraid of diving into a relationship, and so I wondered if I was just letting my own fear and doubt cloud my judgment. On the other hand, I also really did want to date him, and so I worry that my own desires may have gotten in the way of real revelation. Truthfully, even now, I am not completely sure what is true. There is nothing I can do about it now but offer myself grace in knowing that I did the best that I could at the time and that I was truly trying to seek the will of the Lord, and do what is right. I discussed these thoughts with another friend of mine who was divorced, and I really appreciated his thoughts. He said, “I’m not so confident in my revelation receiving abilities as to think that I was for sure given confirmation that I should marry her (his ex-wife.) Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t. I did the best I could at the time. I just know God doesn’t stop life from happening, so Christ makes up for it.”

There were some big concerns through our dating life. He had struggled heavily with pornography in the past (before we started dating) and had ongoing issues with masturbation because of it. He hadn’t served a mission or gone to the temple, and these issues made me the most unsure about continuing to court him. I had always strived to live the gospel, and I went on a mission and knew for sure that I would not settle for anything less than a temple marriage. I prayed a lot for discernment, and to know what to do, because this was obviously a major concern. However, he was incredibly honest about his struggles, and he was accountable to me, his bishop, and the Lord. He attended addiction recovery meetings diligently and taught the prospective elders class in his ward. As I watched, he made significant progress, turned his life around, and began to prepare himself to receive his endowment. He told me how happy he was, and I could see changes in his very core. I saw the Atonement at work. He received his endowment, was worthy of the temple and the Spirit, and his actions continued to demonstrate a deep commitment to me and the Lord. All of his actions all pointed to him being and continuing to become the kind of man I had always wanted to marry.

During this time, he had started to ask me about going ring shopping. We had introduced one another to our families, and our relationship was progressing. However, I was a little uncomfortable with how fast it seemed to be moving, and I kept putting off ring shopping, wanting to be sure that he could take me to the temple, and that he was the right man. I also wanted to make sure that the spiritual changes he was making were permanent, and that they were not just for me. He seemed frustrated by my uncertainty, and I began to feel a bit pressured to make a decision about whether or not I wanted him to propose. I continued to ask him to wait, as kindly as possible. However, I realized that our relationship was reaching a point where, if I wasn’t prepared to marry him, I needed to end it in order to be fair to us both.

I’d like to reiterate that he treated me very well—he was attentive and went out of his way to serve me and pursue me. He brought me flowers at work, took me on thoughtful dates, drove an extra 20 minutes to scrape the snow off my windows in the morning, and took care of me when I was sick. He was kind and caring. I feel like, because you, the reader, know that this isn’t going to end well, I feel obligated to share all of the challenges and concerns in our relationship. However, please don’t make any mistake that I was incredibly happy for the vast majority of the time that I was dating him, and early in our marriage—happier than I had ever been before in my life.

My then-boyfriend told me that he had received an answer in the temple that he should marry me. I was diligently seeking my own answer but didn’t get it as soon as he did. I wanted to, and continued to fast, pray, read the scriptures, go to the temple, and seek guidance from my bishop. Scriptures began jumping out to me—and over and over, the message was basically the same, “Don’t be afraid to do good.” I remember hearing something similar as I prayerfully went into General Conference in April of 2017, and I decided that I had my answer. Getting married was a good thing, right? I didn’t want to live in fear of doing something that seemed to promise so much happiness, and I felt like I was making a good choice.

Our dating and engagement lasted for a year and several months before were married in November of 2017. We honeymooned in Hawaii, which was pure bliss. We came home and quickly signed on a home that we had bought, and moved in. Immediately after, we hit the holidays hard—switching between families, and scrambling to make sure we had all of our last minute Christmas gifts ready. It was pretty chaotic and definitely stressful as newlyweds—still trying to figure out how to live together and adjust to all of the changes in our lives.

I also had started taking birth control shortly before our wedding. I was a little nervous about it, because I had never taken it before, and I did not know how it would affect me. I had struggled through periods of anxiety and depression prior to that, and I had even had suicidal thoughts in the past. However, they had never been severe enough to be debilitating, and I had always been able to manage it in silence. I had been honest with my husband about these tendencies prior to us getting married, and had even expressed that I was worried about how the birth control could potentially tap into those tendencies and make them worse.

Unfortunately, I was right. Birth control took my feelings and amplified them. I felt anxious and paranoid, and depression started to rear its nasty head. I began to experience regular suicidal thoughts. To make matters worse, our transition to marriage wasn’t going very smoothly. I come from a family where we are able to confront issues and deal with them directly, and my husband comes from a family that does not confront. It was a challenge for him and me to work through even the smallest of problems. I think that he had expected marriage to be much easier and smoother than it was proving to be, and I remember distinctly receiving a text from him that essentially told me that he wasn’t sure that he wanted to be married and that he felt like he was having a crisis of faith and identity. I was already an anxious mess, and this made all of the alarms in my head go haywire. I desperately wanted to fix things. I mentioned to my husband that I was worried that the birth control was affecting me negatively, but I felt pressured to continue to try it. To be clear, some of that pressure was from my husband, but a great deal of it was from myself—I figured that women take birth control all the time, we were going through a stressful time, things would get better, etc. I was terrified to admit that I might have a real problem, so I made every excuse I could think of to just try to “tough it out.”

January of 2018, I took a trip to go visit my mom and grandma. My husband stayed behind. He was acting strangely, and I remember feeling desperately anxious and worried, especially after his texts about a crisis of faith and identity. He was not communicating with me, which made me feel really insecure and scared—as it turned out, rightfully so. I remember calling him, angrily, and trying to explain how the lack of communication was making me feel. I tried to explain to him that I felt insecure and that not having open communication was amplifying the issues I was experiencing with anxiety and depression. I probably didn’t handle it the best, but I tried. That conversation was one of many that did not go well.

However, I was still completely shocked when I arrived home, and my husband of two months informed me that he had spent the weekend I was away contemplating divorce. Even though our marriage had been a little difficult from the start, I was still in the honeymoon phase, and still thought that he was also madly in love with me. I remember just collapsing into a heap and bawling my eyes out. I am not much of a crier (usually), but this just flayed me. Before we got married, he and I had discussed what things would be grounds for divorce, and we had agreed that it was not an option except for in very exceptional circumstances—and even then, that marriage was sacred and that we should try to make things work between us. Therefore, when he told me what he had been thinking, I was in absolute shock. I had just given this man everything, and he was rejecting it and rejecting me—like I was a donor’s kidney. He told me that he thought I was an abusive wife, and I was completely shocked by that, too. I dug through my mind and probed him for an explanation. I could admit that I had been less pleasant than usual, with all of the stress and the hormonal changes from the birth control—but abuse? This accusation also shook me to the core and made me question myself deeply. I didn’t understand how he could possibly think I was an abusive person, but I also worried that maybe I just didn’t see myself clearly. I was terrified of being that kind of person and resolved to figure out whether or not my behaviors really were abusive, and to try to fix them. I was also alarmed by the fact that he didn’t feel like he could confront me before his feelings had become so extreme.

I finally confessed to my husband that I didn’t think I could continue on the birth control, and described in detail some of the symptoms that it was giving me. He agreed, and we stopped using it, hoping that it would ease some of the burdens on our marriage. I accepted much more blame for our situation than I probably should have, but I genuinely wondered if it was my fault that he was considering leaving me. Was I really as broken as he was telling me? Was I really breaking him? I began to obsessively read every article about healthy marriages that I could get my hands on, desperate for answers.

Unfortunately, the security was taken out of our marriage for me. I kept trying to rebuild trust, but things kept happening that would break it again. After the initial shock of the divorce threat wore off, I became angry and resentful. I needed to talk through what had happened, to try to heal. I needed to express to my husband how much hurt and fear he had caused. I needed to understand his rationale, and why he hadn’t tried to talk frankly with me before making such a threat. I was trying to stand up for myself, because I had always been a relatively strong and independent woman, and I had enough self-confidence to realize that I couldn’t be the only one doing things wrong. However, every time that I began to talk about it, my husband would reply viciously, using cutting remarks to silence me. Looking back, I believe many of the things that he told me were verbally and emotionally abusive. I also felt like I was walking on eggshells, questioning many of my behaviors so that I couldn’t again be accused of abuse. My husband told me that the only reason he hadn’t left me was for my own sake and that he thought that I might be a good mother for his future children. Those words made me feel like he had dropped another bombshell on me because I felt so devalued and unloved. The bombshells just kept coming.

I can’t say that there was any one event that made our relationship cross the line from loving and respectful into what it became–it was so insidious that I hardly realized how bad things had gotten until I was eventually removed from the situation. However, there were some events that were noteworthy, so I will briefly mention those:

· My husband asked me to attend counseling with him after his first divorce threat in January. I was terrified and had never done counseling. I resisted it at first because of all of the stigma that I had associated with it—partially because of the way I was raised, and partially because of the culture in the church. I thought that for a marriage to require counseling, it must be on its last leg. I asked instead if we could try taking a healthy marriages class in the community, which I arranged for us. We took that, and it helped for a short time. However, when things still were rocky in April, we began regularly seeing a marriage counselor. While I do think that this helped, I also do not think that this particular counselor was the right fit for us and our marriage, and sometimes I would walk away from the sessions feeling more depressed and discouraged, and even more like everything was my fault.

· There were several nights that felt noteworthy to me because they were so heart-wrenching. I remember having an argument with my husband one night, and he rolled over and went to sleep, while I literally cried the entire night by myself. Every time he woke up, he would treat me with scorn and anger, and I felt so incredibly abandoned. I was so distraught by our argument, and he seemed so callous. My heart was broken. Please keep in mind that while I would consider myself to be an emotional person, I have never been much of a crier. I have always been somewhat stoic about my feelings, so I have to be hurting really badly to cry like that. I remember mechanically getting up and going into work the next morning, not having slept, eyes were swollen, desperate to not let anyone know that anything was wrong in my life. Little did I realize that this was the first night of many where I would have to do that. I would wait the next day for apologies that almost never came until I eventually would apologize, just to try to make peace, even though I usually wasn’t sure that I had done anything wrong.

· There were nights where I left the house and walked alone, in the dark, because I felt like I had no other choice. I was in so much pain that I felt like I would explode, and my house didn’t feel safe anymore, because the source of the pain was there. There were some nights I considered not going home at all and thought about where I might sleep. My husband later described these incidents to try to prove that I was mentally unstable.

· My husband has never been physically abusive to me, but there was one time that he came close, and that was a very sobering experience. We were talking about something trivial, and suddenly, he got irrationally angry. Alarmed, I asked him what was going on, and he asked if I would just leave him alone. This upset me, and I told him that I hadn’t done anything and didn’t understand why he was angry. I tried to ask him, and he slammed his hands down on the banister of our stairs, telling me that he was doing it to intentionally scare me into silence. It worked, and that was a wakeup call for me. He had crossed a line that he had never crossed before, and in my mind, it sort of clicked—his actions at that moment were to consciously use fear and manipulation to be domineering and control my actions. That was an alarming realization.

· My husband began to lie to me. I do not know to what extent, but I do remember catching him once. When I told him that it was unacceptable, he told me that it was my fault—if I were more trustworthy, he could have talked to me. He didn’t feel safe, because I was so critical of him. He made me feel guilty and responsible for his mistake. This blaming became an ongoing pattern.

Obviously, things were in a downward spiral, and getting worse. My husband, who had rarely exhibited anger towards me when we were dating, was now angry almost all of the time. Everything I said could cause him to lash out at me, and say things that cut me to the core. It was so inconsistent—sometimes he was the man I knew and loved, but most of the time he was scary. He knew exactly how to hurt me. I was extremely depressed, and despite the reprieve that getting off of the birth control gave me, I still experienced thoughts of self-harm and suicide, most days, and persistently. I would fanaticize about just not waking up, and being released from the situation I was in. I felt like I was just hurting my husband, who constantly told me how abusive, critical, unsupportive, and broken I was, despite tremendous effort on my part to be the best that I could be for him and our marriage. The harder I tried, the more I seemed to disgust him, and the more he seemed to despise me. He would hold things against me for weeks and months, resenting me, while I tried to figure out what was wrong. I thought it was all my fault because that is what he kept telling me. I thought that the world might be better off without me. I began to feel fairly certain that my husband would be happier if I was gone. I felt desperate all of the time—desperate to make him happy, desperate to overcome my own feelings, desperate to make things work, desperate to be a good member of the church. It was so consuming. It was destroying me. I felt like I had nowhere to turn—I didn’t want to talk to my family or friends, because I was trying to be loyal to my husband, and I didn’t want them to know how deeply we were struggling. Even heaven began to feel dark, as I became so engulfed in misery.

I will now discuss something that I am deeply ashamed of, and that I have not been able to admit to many people. At one point, I did act on an impulse to harm myself, creating a shallow cut in my hand with a pair of scissors. I was horrified by this and felt so much shame. I hadn’t really meant to hurt myself, and honestly didn’t think that I had it in me to do anything like that. I can’t explain what happened, other than that I was just hurting so badly, and I wanted my emotional pain to stop. I felt like I had no outlet for my emotional pain, and it felt good to focus on anything else—even physical pain. When I realized that I had actually cut myself, I immediately stopped, realizing what a bad place I must be in. I had crossed a line. My body is a temple, and in an effort to temporarily ease some of the emotional pain that I was feeling, I had defiled it. I called my husband over and over again until he answered, and, crying, I asked him if he thought I needed to go to the hospital. He answered with contempt and anger, and that amplified my fear of reaching out for help.

Supposedly, it was the self-harm that made my husband decide to abandon our marriage and to leave me. I guess it is time to move on to that part of the story.

In October of 2018, he and I went up to my parent’s house to watch General Conference. Supposedly, during that conference, he received an answer that he should move out of our house and ask me for a divorce. He did not tell me this until much later, but he began to make preparations to leave that very day, calling his parents and asking them to help him move out and to help him hire a divorce lawyer.

During this time, he did many things that deeply violated my trust. He staged a conversation with me, asking me loaded questions with his phone secretly recording the responses that he was trying to get me to say. He lied to me repeatedly—telling me that he was committed to our marriage, that he loved me, and that we were going to work things out. I even asked him directly at one point if he had been considering leaving, and he told me no. He told me he was going to talk to the bishop, and instead went and called my parents, telling them about my mental health issues (something I had not been ready to discuss with them,) and telling them about his plans to leave. There is much more that happened—he told me that everything that happened that week was a lie, staged so that I would not uncover the truth. He even took me to the place where he had proposed to me, the night before he left me. He sat there laughing and reminiscing with me, fully knowing that he was about to break my heart. His lies and manipulation during that time continue to haunt me deeply.

On October 12, he went home early from work. He told me he was meeting his dad to do some yard work at the house. Something didn’t quite add up, but I trusted him enough that I didn’t question his motives.

My parents were supposed to be with my extended family that day, and they had called to cancel plans. They were upset and told my grandparents and some of my extended family about my husband’s phone call to them. Because of that, I started getting strange texts. My grandparents texted me to tell me that they were there for me, and to keep my chin up. My cousin told me that she wanted to reach out to me because she heard that he was moving out. My heart stopped, but if I am completely honest, I didn’t believe her at first. I was that convinced that I would call him, and we would laugh about some misunderstanding later.

I went and called him, and he confirmed that he was leaving, but told me that ‘things weren’t over.’ I was in complete and utter shock. I left work in a panic, drove home, and found him and his dad sitting on our front porch, bags packed up in his car and his parent’s van. He had written me a letter, telling me that he was leaving and that he never planned on coming back. He told me our marriage was over and told me later that the only reason he didn’t have divorce papers in hand was that they couldn’t get them ready fast enough. My world was flipped upside down in a matter of minutes.

I begged him to reconsider, to try to work with me and to save our marriage. I asked him to pray, to go to the temple. I cried a lot. He listened for a while, but he ultimately left. I remember standing in our living room with my mom. The photo from our wedding had been stripped from the wall, and I wrung my hands and paced, scared to leave. What if he came back, and I wasn’t there?

The days and weeks that followed were absolute hell. Even though our marriage had been struggling, I was in complete shock. I missed him terribly. I couldn’t sleep at night, and if I did manage to doze off, I would wake up having a panic attack, reaching out for someone who wasn’t there. I didn’t want to eat, and I lost ten pounds in a matter of days and continued to lose weight over the coming weeks. I kept throwing up for no particular reason—my body was just under so much distress that I would get sick out of nowhere. I went to work because I had nowhere else to go, but I would not do anything productive—I would just go stare at a computer between episodes of running to the bathroom to cry. I tried to avoid our home at all costs because being alone there was almost unbearable—so I tried to only be there to sleep. I remember at one point trying to exercise and laying on the ground gasping for air, heart pounding, wondering if I was having a heart attack. I worried that it was a matter of time until I wound up in the hospital. Everything triggered memories of him, and they were all so incredibly emotionally painful. I kept stumbling across things he had forgotten or opened a drawer only to realize that his things were gone, all over again.

I was so unhealthy during this time that I decided I needed to be medicated. I went to see a psychiatrist, which was a humbling experience for me. He prescribed me anti-anxiety and depression medication, as well as sleep medicine. I had a hard time admitting I needed this help. However, I no longer feel any shame about it and have discussed it openly with many people. If anyone is on the fence or is scared about getting help or treatment for their mental health, please let me encourage you to not let stigma or pride keep you from really taking care of yourself. I do not know how long I will need to be medicated, but what I do know is that it has dramatically increased my quality of life right now.

My husband and I have been separated for about six and a half months at this point. It has been the most exhausting, emotionally draining, traumatic, and difficult experience of my life. Throughout this time, many things have happened. Since this is already pretty lengthy, I will try to summarize. My husband and I have had significant ups and downs—we have come very close to getting divorced. I have asked him to come home and try to work things out with me many times. He has asked for the divorce and then backed out of it. We have both undergone a lot of counseling. We both have gained a lot of perspective. To be honest, I have no idea what will happen. I think part of the reason Ally asked me to write this post is to share my experience through the eyes of someone who is still suffering through a difficult trial.

Everyone’s situation is different, but for me, right now, I have decided to give our marriage one more chance. I have no intention of tolerating abuse or allowing anything to drag me back to the depths of depression that I described earlier. I realize that this will take a lot of help. We will need ongoing help from our counselors, bishop, each other, and most importantly, the Savior, to have any chance of restoring our marriage and having it be healthy. There is a lot of damage that has been done.

I know some of you, at this point, are undoubtedly wondering why I stayed at all after my husband left me, or why I am not already divorced. From an outside perspective, it would be easy to ask, and I would probably be wondering the same thing. However, there are several factors that I think make a big difference. Again, this is just for me, personally—I cannot speak to the situation or choices of anyone else, and my heart sincerely goes out to anyone else who has had to endure something similar. I am also not advocating that anyone stay in a situation that is toxic or abusive—I have no intention of doing so, myself. Elder Holland said in a recent conference talk, “It is, however, important for some of you living in anguish to remember what He (Christ) did not say. He did not say, ‘You are not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you have had at the hand of another. Nor did He say, ‘In order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance.’” I fully know and understand that a loving and merciful God does not expect us to be in a situation that destroys us. He loves us enough that he does not want us to be tormented, miserable, or abused.

However, I have had counselors, mental health professionals, and church leaders all tell me that it is possible for my husband and me to still have a happy and healthy marriage. I have tried my best to stay close to the Lord and to try to receive personal revelation throughout our separation and all of the trauma that it has brought with it. I have never felt at peace with a decision to move forward with the divorce. I am not completely sure why, but I believe that the Lord will let me know if and when the time is right to move forward.

One of my favorite quotes from Preach My Gospel says: “Satan is attacking the family on many fronts, and too many families are being destroyed by his efforts. The message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is that all individuals are part of God’s family and that families can be united now and in eternity…Through the light of the gospel, families can resolve misunderstandings, contentions, and challenges. Families torn by discord can be healed through repentance, forgiveness, and faith in the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” What a hopeful message! I truly believe that my family could be healed if my husband and I are both willing to repent, forgive, and accept the Atonement in our lives and in our marriage. However, those blessings are conditional on our actions. I recognize that we BOTH have to choose that, and I cannot control the actions of my husband. I am also sure that it might be one of the most difficult things that either he or I will ever do—but I would like to have the opportunity to test this promise. I know that I have not done things perfectly, and there are many things I have learned throughout this trial. I have realized that, for me, I need to be able to have the closure of knowing I gave it my best. That way, if our marriage does end in divorce, I can hold my head high and know that I put my heart and soul into doing what I believed to be the right thing.

I also believe that my husband is a good man, in his core, and I still love him. I think that a great deal of what has happened was due to a lack of skills on one or both of our parts. The more he has begun to acknowledge and accept his role in what has happened, the more hopeful I am that we can find a way back to a happy and healthy place. I believe that he has struggled with his own mental health issues, and also has some issues from the way he was raised that have played into how things have gone in our marriage. Now that we both have learned lessons and skills, perhaps we can do better. I am not certain that it will work out, but I am certain that I do not want to live with regret.

I’d like to end with some lessons I have learned:

· It is okay to get help. Find support. Don’t try to go through hell alone. It is not worth it, and it is not necessary. You will be surprised by how many people understand what you are going through. I have been overwhelmed by the compassion and understanding of others, and I have also been overwhelmed by how many other people have suffered through tragedy that is similar to mine. Reach out, and you will be surprised who reaches back. God puts people into our lives who can help us, and when tragedy strikes, know that he has prepared a way for you to endure. It may not be what or who you expected, but there will be a way.

· I have several suggestions to anyone who is doing marriage counseling (or counseling of any kind)—first, find a person who makes you feel empowered, and preferably someone who shares your faith/values. Those things have made a tremendous difference for me. Second, be willing to be 100% honest with your counselor. If you don’t feel like you can be that vulnerable, you probably don’t have the right counselor, or you probably aren’t being completely honest with yourself. Finally, be patient with yourself. If you, like me, are hesitant to see a counselor at first, be honest about it. If that is where you are at, it is okay to own up to it. It is surprisingly common, and counselors are equipped to deal with those kinds of doubts and fears.

· Real, unconditional, Christlike love is respectful, forgiving, and kind. Unfortunately, humans are still trying to learn how to develop this kind of love. Be patient with them, and with yourself. Look to the Master Teacher for His example of love, and try to emulate it.

· At the same time, do your research and set healthy boundaries. I have delved a lot into research about narcissism, codependency, addiction, attachment style, love languages, and so forth. Arming myself with knowledge has helped me to understand both myself and my husband better. It has also helped me realize what things are and are not acceptable.

· I found a quote by Hank Smith that I really loved, regarding boundaries. He said, “Being Christlike means being tolerant and forgiving. However, Jesus had boundaries. When Nazareth tried to kill Him, He never returned. He told Peter when he had crossed a line. He called out leaders for hypocrisy. He refused to speak to Herrod. Clear boundaries are Christlike.” Again, our Savior and Heavenly Father expect us to be loving, and tolerant, and patient, but they do not expect us to allow other people to abuse us or to walk all over us. Taking care of yourself and standing up for yourself is not wrong. Being Christlike does not mean that we have to subject ourselves to abuse. There IS such a thing as being too self-sacrificing, too understanding, and too willing to overlook the mistakes of others. Be careful, because we each have the responsibility to protect and care for ourselves, and to stay true to ourselves and the things that we know are right.

· Remember that you deserve to be loved and to feel safe. Elder Holland once said, “In a dating and courtship relationship, I would not have you spend five minutes with someone who belittles you, one who is constantly critical of you, one who is cruel at your expense and may even call it humor. Life is tough enough without the person who is supposed to love you leading the assault on your self-esteem, your sense of dignity, your confidence, and your joy. In this person’s care, you deserve to feel physically safe and emotionally secure.”

· If you find yourself in a situation where this is not the case, like me, then get help. And, if necessary, get out. Life is tough enough.

· Give yourself grace. One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I know I made mistakes, and I could spend all day delving into the “what ifs” and the “why me’s.” That is a dark, downward spiral that I have learned is better to avoid. I can offer myself grace knowing that I have done the best I can throughout this trial, and I have learned a lot. Now that I know better, I can continue to do better. However, there is no point on being hard on my past self, or dwelling on things that have been repented of and cannot be changed—it just damages future possibility. Be humble, but remember to be kind to yourself.

· Recognize what you can control, and do not accept responsibility for anything else. After my husband abandoned me, he told me that he believed I was too emotionally unstable for him to be honest with me. He also told me it was my fault that he had asked for a divorce. I believed him. It took me quite a while to reject the idea that it was my fault that he had left me, because it was something that he reinforced almost every time I talked to him, for a long time. I had become convinced that I was damaged, and that I was the entirety of the problem. I also had become co-dependent in our marriage, and I accepted far more blame than I should have. This is where an excellent counselor has been extremely valuable in helping me to see things clearly and to heal. Again, I would encourage anyone to seek this help.

· Don’t judge people. In the midst of this crisis, I have been on the receiving end of judgments that have felt unkind and unfair. I have been shunned by friends who I thought would be there for me. Many people have said and done things that have been very hurtful, whether intentionally or not. Many of them simply do not understand my situation. Please do not judge situations that you do not understand. I, in turn, have had to learn to be less judgmental of the people who have hurt me and to expand my willingness to forgive. It is easier to forgive others if you believe their intentions are good, even if their actions sometimes are not.

· Remember to look outside yourself and to count your blessings. Gordon B Hinkley said, “For many years there was a sign on the wall of a shoe repair shop I patronized. It read ‘I complained because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.’” Sometimes, it can be incredibly difficult to look outside of ourselves in the midst of a bitter and painful trial, or when we are sad and depressed. However, the times that I have been able to do so have been very meaningful to me. I have developed a deeper empathy for those around me, and have realized that my trials are small compared to some—even though this has been an extraordinarily difficult one for me, personally. I also keep a running list of blessings and good things that happen to me each week. This helps me to see the hand of God in my life, and also helps me to try to stay positive.

· The Savior will be there, no matter what. One of my favorite scriptures is D&C 84:88. It says “And whoso receiveth you, there will I be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” I have seen this. There have been so many times throughout this trial where the right person has stepped into my path, or someone has sent me a message that helped, or someone has simply called at the right time. God is merciful. He is mindful of us, and He is there whether or not we feel or recognize His presence and love.

· Healing is always possible. Always. Elder Holland said, “However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.” Find the courage to start over, if necessary. But know that you are never too far gone to come back and for the Savior’s Atonement to make you whole.

Thanks for taking the time to read this very lengthy post. Again, if you would like to reach out to me directly, please ask Ally for my contact information. Sending hope and love and encouragement to everyone who suffers in silence.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Emma

I was able to meet Emma at the Lift Event I co-hosted a couple weeks ago. She shared her heart and I just felt this strength radiate from her as she did so. She is an amazing woman, doing amazing things. I admire her perseverance in having children, despite so many miscarriages, and following through on the promptings she received.
Emma is a wife of almost 20 years, and mother to six miracle children. She lives in Riverton, UT. She started a blog, Awaiting Rainbows, one-year ago.
 She started this blog to help remind herself and her readers of the good that happens along the way, especially during challenges. She shares guest stories about the miracles found in the midst of trials, recipes she loves, and her love of service through helping Hearts Knit Together, a non- profit organization. She’s on a mission to remind all that blessings come even through the darkest days.

Having children has been harder than I ever, ever could have imagined. I would never wish the sorrow I have felt month after month and day after day at times when we would lose another baby, and then all the months waiting to get pregnant and then lose the baby again. Yet somehow, through 16 pregnancies, 6 angels made it. And I am eternally grateful for this gift. For those reading my story who are still waiting with empty arms and hearts, I hope you know I pray for you. Some may never have successful pregnancies, and my heart aches for you. I firmly believe in a beautiful life after this one where sorrow is no more. And where my arms are so full of squishy, cuddly babies. I hope my story will give you the courage to Keep Trying. Keep Believing. Keep Trusting in God’s plan for you.

I want to share the string of miscarriages that happened after my fifth child, Jared. When this child was almost 3, I found a lump in my breast, I was 35. Over the next two years, there were mammograms every 6 months to make sure nothing had changed. Finally, I was cleared. Everything stayed the same and was my “normal”.

I was feeling happy about my five kids. But before I had my fifth child, I felt so strongly there was a daughter that needed to come. When we found out he was a boy, I felt a little confused. So after all this mammogram stuff was done, I went to the temple and prayed. “Is there one more? I have no kids in diapers, it’s nice. Vacations are easier, everyone can get themselves a snack.” More powerful than anything I’ve ever felt, was a strong impression that yes there was another girl. She needs to come. Everyone in the temple around me was in tears because the Spirit was so strong.

So I tried to tell my husband about this experience. He really struggled to believe me. But like the kind supportive man he is, he said ok even though he had a lot of doubts. I thought for sure since that impression was so powerful, that I wouldn’t have to lose any more babies (at this point I had lost 8). I got pregnant a couple months after we started trying. I scheduled my early ultrasound. While waiting in the waiting room (they were running behind-never good when you have a full bladder), I began to have severe pain in my back. I asked to relieve my bladder a little. That seemed only to make it worse. I told the lady at the desk that I thought something was wrong. They let me lie down. After only 5 minutes, I was in such pain I wanted to jump out of my skin. They quickly got me to the ultrasound. Couldn’t find the baby. I went to the bathroom. I could barely lie still enough for the ultrasound because of the pain. They found the baby. Once again the words, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.” They then said they thought I was passing a kidney stone and could I make it on my own down to the ER. My husband had our 4-year-old at work because I thought it would be a quick appointment. I called him, he said he would find someone to get Jared, and he would be there as soon as he could. Then I called my dad. He couldn’t even understand me through my tears except that I said I was going to the ER at IMC hospital. It was confirmed I had blood in my urine…kidney stone likely. I was already starting to feel better though after the several times going to the bathroom-drinking all that water was a mixed blessing of sorts. And they confirmed my “missed abortion.” Why do they call it that? I hate that name.

We went home. We told the kids that mom was sick and needed to rest. I started bleeding the next day. I switched doctors after this. I wanted a smaller office where I wasn’t one of 400 people seen that day. I needed a doctor that I felt like he cared and had all the time in the world for me. My neighbors came through and recommended my current doctor. I have the greatest doctor! So we met him, told him my story, and he wanted me to start on my progesterone earlier than my previous doctor. I soon became pregnant. I felt so sure this would be successful, I didn’t insist on a 6-week ultrasound. So when 12 weeks came along, I was so excited to see this baby. My husband was with me and the doctor began looking for a heartbeat. The jovialness in our conversation immediately went quiet. I knew. I knew what he was going to say. “Emma, I’m so sorry. But there is no heartbeat.” Baby made it 8 weeks and 5 days. And he handed me a picture of my tiny baby. And we cried. And cried. And cried. And then the doctor told us that because of how much tissue there was, I needed to have a D&C to make sure I didn’t hemorrhage. He would send the nurse back in in a few minutes to see when we wanted to schedule that, but to take all the time we needed to cry. Twenty minutes later, I rushed out of that office trying to grasp what my reality was.

How could this happen? I KNEW there was another baby. Why couldn’t I keep any of our babies? Telling our kids was so hard. Mommy needed to go to the hospital. The baby that was in mommy’s tummy went back to heaven. The baby is ok. Mommy will be ok. And you know what? I did KNOW. I knew I would be ok. But it was still hard. The next day was hard. I was scared. My first D&C was horrible. I passed the egg sack right when I got home. The surgery hadn’t been done properly. I told my new doctor my fears. He looked at me straight in the eyes and said, “That will not happen.” He put me at ease. The anesthesiologist actually asked me what I wanted, which was the lowest dose of ibuprofen, he told me he too would take great care that all would go well. And it did.

But here’s where it got hard. My husband and many others began to doubt what I felt in the temple. They would say things like, well, maybe that was the girl and you lost her. Maybe you don’t need to try again. You’ve lost so many. I know they were trying to be helpful, but it was very hurtful. I prayed that night after I found out I had lost the baby. I prayed for a glimpse of that baby. “Please, could I just know a little bit about this baby that I would never hold in this life?” I was blessed with a vision of that beautiful baby and details about his personality. How strong he is. Just like his dad. That gave me much-needed comfort. So when those times and days of tears came, I could use that to help me try to move on.

Well, our miracle baby was born. She is now 19 months old. And my husband tells me every.single.day that he is so happy we have her. She is the apple of his eye. And she knows it too! She can get him to take her on 4 walks a day sometimes.

What I want to impart through this very long story, is that through all this sorrow, I had to still be a mom. I had to still be a wife. I had to still serve in church (two callings, in particular, were given days after a miscarriage). How do we keep going in the midst of sorrow that sometimes is beyond overwhelming? We take it one step at a time. We take it one minute at a time on some days. We put our trust in God because no one else can help us. Jesus Christ is our companion in trials. He carried me through much of my childbearing years. We can do this life. We can be molded into a compassionate, faithful person. We just have to keep going. Because someday, all the tears will be wiped away.

These things were keys to me making it through all those years.

  1. Prayer
    2. Scripture study/Reading the Conference talks
    3. Going to the temple
    4. Serving others
    5. Taking life in chunks-I can do this for 5 minutes, etc

I love you all. If praying is hard, try serving. When we look to the needs of others, somehow our burdens seem less heavy to bear. Pick one thing and just try to do it a little more. These experiences allowed me to offer words of true empathy as I have been able to visit with friends, family, and neighbors who have gone through the loss of a baby too. When we use our challenges to bless others, we also are lifted. We become stronger than we thought we were.

This quote by Brook P. Hales is so wonderful.

“Sometimes, our prayers are not answered in the way we hope, yet with time we learn that God had greater blessings prepared for us than we initially anticipated.”

And my blessings are indeed very great.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Rachel C

Rachel was my boss for part of the time I worked at Weber State University. I absolutely love her and really enjoyed working with her. She was super understanding about my mental illnesses, because she deals with them herself, and has such a kind heart. I am proud of her for speaking up about her silent struggles.
Rachel grew up in Louisiana, a proud Southerner. In fact, she never thought she would leave. But she wanted to tell stories. So, she left Louisiana for Utah to study musical theater and tell stories that way. The musical theater journey was short-lived. Soon, she was studying English, literature, and fiction, feeling for the first time that she was exactly where she was supposed to be. After earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in English and creative writing, she still felt the same way. Writing and story-telling are her purposes and where she feels a good deal of joy in her life. She also teaches English and grammar to young college students and tries to instill them with the same sense of awe she feels with the English language. Check out her website here.


My Journey to Self-Acceptance

I’ve always believed that the best journeys are those that are shared. Too often, we stubborn humans suffer in silence alone. So, for my own sake and for the sake of anyone I could help, I am telling my story now. I grew up in the South, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My whole life I tried to live the teachings of the church. But I also grew up knowing that I was gay. I had an idea that I wasn’t quite like the rest of my 4 sisters at a very young age. But I knew for sure that I was attracted to women when I was about 14.

For the next 22 years, I ran the gamut of emotions and thoughts about that. For a very long time, I lied about who I was to myself and to other people. I tried so hard to be something I wasn’t, to be what other people wanted and expected me to be. My wings beat against the bars of my cage until I was miserable, bleeding, and just an empty shell of my real self. I was overcome with depression, anxiety, and shame for entirely too long. At times it was a dark and lonely road full of tearful nights spent on my knees, begging God to change me.

But soon I realized that He wouldn’t change me because I was how He had created me. Sometimes all it takes to change your life completely is to take one tiny step in a different direction from where you were headed. One day I finally realized I was the only one with the power to change the path I was on by accepting who I had always been. So, I took one step on a new path. Then another. Then another. Pretty soon, my surroundings and the light around me started to change. I soon realized it was because I was walking out of the dark valley and into the sunlight of truth and freedom from the limiting thinking of my past.

It took a long time and lots of therapy for me to come to terms with who I am, especially considering the religious background I came from. More than anything I didn’t want to hurt the people I cared about. But I began to slowly realize that being something other than who I am was hurting me more than it would ever hurt those people to find out the truth. Little by little, I let people in, telling only close friends at first the truth about me. The conversation with my parents was not an easy one, nor were they terribly supportive, but I knew that they were doing the best they could with the tools they had.

Finally, in the last month, a very wise friend of mine told me that “life is about joy and dancing, no matter who is looking.” That is exactly how I plan to live my life. I realized that there is no point in trying to be anyone else other than who I am because I am exactly as God made me, and He loves me. I am happier now being myself than I ever was when I was trying to be someone else. I believe that God created me and loves me as I am. I have felt that love through this journey only grows stronger with every step on this new path. I know this is right for me. I love and accept all people more freely than I ever did when I was in my cage, and I am basking happily in the love I feel around me.

This kind of open honesty about myself is part of a lifelong process of self-acceptance for me. I will no longer hesitate to be me because of fear or shame. I am proud and happy about who I am. This experience has taught me how important it is to be kind to one another, and recognize that we rarely see the whole stories of other people’s lives. Everyone is fighting battles we can’t see.