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”!

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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 (Your Loved One’s) Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Heather & Blaise

I have been following Heather on Instagram for a few months now and she has been sharing a little bit about what her son has been going through so I messaged her and asked her if she’d be willing to write this post AND if her son would be willing to share his side as well. I was so happy when they both agreed. These two are amazing examples of putting faith and trust in Heavenly Father.
Heather Herbert is a mother of three teenagers and one still-born daughter. She created the Sweet-Me Project to help other women to live and love in celebration! She also creates products to encourage living a life of gratitude. Blaise is Heather’s oldest child and graduated high school in 2018.

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The feeling of always wanting to protect your baby never goes away even when that baby is a 19-year-old adult. Blaise is my first-born, so I lovingly tease him that he is the tester child as my husband and I try to figure out what the heck we are doing. And even though I try my best to teach him all about life, I have quickly discovered that he is teaching me much more.

This has been especially true this last year. The summer before his Senior year in high school, Blaise broke his back. He spent all summer in a back brace, not being able to do the things with his friends that he wanted to do. It took about a year to rehab his back, and after he graduated high school, he decided he wanted to serve a Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He filled out all of his paperwork and met with all of his doctors to get the all clear. He turned in his papers and the Mission Medical office wanted more information on his back. His doctor wrote a letter, and we scheduled another MRI to see if he was a candidate for a procedure that would help with the pain.

Blaise received is Mission call via email, before his MRI, and we had everyone over as he read his call. Winnipeg Canada!! We were all so excited because Blaise really wanted to serve somewhere cold. But literally the next day, Blaise started to get very anxious. He had a sinking feeling that he shouldn’t go. He knew that his doctors had cleared him to go and that he was ok, but he also knew that his back was still hurting him all of the time. He was worried about how the pain would affect his ability to serve. For about two weeks between receiving his call and his MRI, he was on edge. He was really cranky and moody; he wasn’t sleeping, he wasn’t eating, he wasn’t doing well at all.

We went in for his final MRI, and sure enough, we were told that he actually had more damage to his back than we previously thought and that he was not a candidate for the spinal ablation that would help with the pain. With this new news and the loving guidance and counsel from his church leaders, Blaise decided to defer his mission, so that he could do more therapy and healing for his back. He struggled with this decision. He really wanted to go, and he kept telling himself and everyone else that he could do it, through the pain, he just wanted to go. But ultimately I am so grateful that through a lot of prayer and reflection he was able to come to the understanding that putting the health of his back and his future was more important right now, then going out on a mission. So he decided to take a few more months to strengthen his back so that when he does go serve, he can do so without having to deal with so much pain.

Then, as an added trial for him, three weeks after he deferred his mission and started physical therapy, he was in a skiing accident and broke his back again!!! Watching him have to do this all over again, knowing what it meant and the work and time it would take for him to heal was heartbreaking.

My husband and I just sat and cried outside of his hospital room when they told us it was broke again. I remember Blaise saying that he felt he had no purpose anymore because all of his plans were unattainable now. He was devastated and feeling like nothing mattered anymore. The first time he broke his back he became very depressed, so we could only imagine what this time would do.

But this boy of mine, he is a true example of faith. Sure, for the first few days while he still couldn’t walk, he was a mess. I remember sitting outside of his room just crying and praying for him to be ok. Not physically, but mentally and spiritually. I was so worried that this might be the straw that broke the camels back. But about a week after his accident he told me, “I don’t know why this happened right now, and it’s REALLY not fair, but I know I’m going to be ok, no matter what.” And he has not complained about this trial since.

I have seen such a change in him as he has had to deal with these trials. I have seen him turn to prayer first. I have seen him love and support his friends who are struggling and lend them his strength. I have seen him notice and acknowledge the hand of God in his daily life. I have seen him rely on the Lord and act on His promptings. I see a kid who has become a strong, faithful and optimistic young man. He may not be able to serve the mission he was called to, but I know he has a calling in life that he is fulfilling just by being an example of faith, hope, and perseverance. He has taught me to trust in the Lord in all ways and in all things no matter the difficulties. I am so proud of him for deciding to learn and grow from this experience. He knows he has a large support system of family and friends who love him. But most importantly, I know that he KNOWS that his Heavenly Father loves him, and as a mother, that’s what I want most for him.

-Heather Herbert

 

I was asked to share my recent experience with my decision to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Growing up I didn’t really plan on serving a Mission, but after I graduated High School, I discovered that it was something I wanted to do. I received my call to serve in Winnipeg, Canada but I had strong feelings that this wasn’t my time to go. I broke my back the summer before my senior year, and I was still struggling with daily pain and was worried about how that would affect my ability to serve.

I talked with my Bishop and Stake President a lot and with their help and prayers, and with my many prayers, we decided I should defer my mission. This was hard for me because I didn’t want to defer, but as soon as I made the decision, I felt much relief. I know that peace was a gift from my Heavenly Father to help me to move on and see that He has a plan for me.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later I had a skiing accident and broke my back again! I was super discouraged and frustrated! I was mad at myself because I had a feeling all day not to go skiing. The few days after were rough, and I kind of hated life and had no idea what this would mean for me.

Its been six weeks now, and I am getting stronger every day. I don’t know why I have to deal with this trial again, but I decided to learn and grow from it. I have seen God’s hand in my life, and I know that He will help me to get stronger and better. This past year as I have prepared to serve a mission I have grown closer to the Lord, and I know that he is aware of me and my wants and needs and I have faith that something good will come from this. I have grown to know myself better and have a better understanding of my relationship with Heavenly Father through personal revelation and prayer.

-Blaise Herbert

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Tisha

I came across Tisha through Instagram. I love what she shares and the meaning behind her Instagram handle, @havepace_, learn about it here. Tish shares her experience of living with Lupus and how she tries to let it better her instead of leaving her bitter.
Tisha didn’t grow up in Southern Utah but she considers it her home. She falls more and more in love with it the longer 9 years and now gets to be a full-time stay at home mom. There is nothing she loves more than a clean house with a yummy candle burning. She’s obsessed with podcasts and positive parenting books. She’s passionate about connecting with new people, living with purpose, and taking naps.

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Photo by Kay Photosss

Shortly after having my sweet baby boy I became very sick, something I can only describe as the worst flu you could possibly imagine and then times that by 10. I became fatigued beyond measure, weak, achy and in a constant whirlwind of hot flashes and feverish chills. My lymph system was out of control and all of my joints were constantly in pain. I remember waking up one night in a complete panic because I was literally unable to get myself out of bed. I called my husband who was working night shifts out of town in the ICU at the time and begged him to come home.

This would result in the first of many ER visits and unanswered questions.
Finally after weeks of Dr. appointments, scans and blood work I was diagnosed with Lupus just before my 26th birthday. I remember the call from my Dr. so well and the relief and gratitude that came over me when he said it was Lupus. I know it seems strange to feel grateful when given a diagnosis like that. But I finally felt like we had something we could work with and something much less scary than the other things being looked into.

When I look back on those months what I remember most is the time that was spent on my knees praying. I would get these surges of overwhelming terrifying emotion where I felt like my world was just going to collapse. It was in those moments that I would pray right that second for the peace and comfort that I so desperately needed. For weeks I felt so alone in this trial and felt like my Heavenly was so unaware of me. Until one day I was sitting on my bed with my two children silently thanking God for them when clear as day this voice came to me and said, “Peace be unto you, my child, everything is going to be okay.” I’m so grateful for this tender mercy and gift that this message has been to me. This experience has carried me through the bulk of this trial. When I’m feeling overwhelmed with emotions of the unknown, remembering this moment always brings me so much peace.

This trial has been difficult in so many various ways. One of them being that I have always been a fiercely independent person, perfectly capable of handling hard things on my own. So becoming this person that was dependent on the help of my loved ones was something that was very difficult for me to accept. There was a time at the beginning of my diagnosis that I could barely hold my 9-pound baby. Accepting the help of my incredibly loving mother-in-law to take care of my new baby was such a humbling experience for me.

I have not always handled this trial with grace and perfection, there are still times that I’m angry and frustrated about things such as not being able to have any more babies. But I know that when I put my faith in my Savior Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father I’m able to have pace and move forward. I’m determined to let this trial make me better not bitter.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Jenna

I found Jenna through Instagram and I love the things she shares and talks about, one of those being raising a child with a disability. I especially love the analogy she shared in her story below about what it’s like. She is a radiant Mother and a beautiful soul.
Jenna Gines is the oldest of 5. She grew up in Tooele, UT. She went to Utah State University after she graduated high school in 2005. She served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Birmingham, Alabama from 2008 to 2010. There she met her husband. They both served in the same area for around 6 months. There were three sets of missionaries and they all became good friends. He got home in January and she got home in February. He went to her homecoming talk she gave in church and the rest is history… They got married in August 2010 in the Salt Lake City Temple. They now reside in Utah and have 3 beautiful children who she gets to stay home with.

When I went to college in 2005 I started working at a residential program for people with disabilities. I worked at two different homes and eventually became a manager for one. I worked at a preschool for kids with autism and a summer camp that had all ages and all types of disabilities. Working with these people became my passion. They brought me so much joy! I thought about doing Special Education so I began taking classes. I loved all that I learned, especially disability etiquette and all the different types of disabilities. It was so interesting to me for some reason. I became very passionate about the fact that it’s the largest minority group and any one of us could join it at any time. I became very passionate about the treatment of people with disabilities. I wanted to be an advocate for them.

And then I started my other dream job in 2014 when my first son was born, a stay-at-home Mom! It was quite a transition for me but I loved it. I’ve always looked forward to being a Mom but I missed my other passion.

And then my second son was born.

He was a surprise for us in every way. From getting pregnant, when our first was only 10 months old, to my water breaking and him being born 3 weeks early. He was healthy, beautiful and THE best baby ever. Literally. He ate when he was hungry, fell asleep whenever he was tired, so chill and so perfect. From the very beginning, I knew there was something about him. I remember telling my husband, there’s something about this boy. I didn’t know what but I could feel it.

When he was around 8 months old, family asked us if we noticed his eyes. They were kind of clicky when you rocked him back and forth. I hadn’t noticed it and I said, I’ll mention it to the pediatrician. So I text our doctor and sent him a movie clip of his eyes. He said it looks like he has nystagmus, do you notice anything else about him? And I thought, well now that you say that, he’s not sitting up, he’s not rolling very much. Even brother who crawled at 14 months and walked at 20, was sitting at 8 months. He said, let’s have you go see a neurologist to make sure it’s just his eyes and nothing else is going on.

The neurologist had us do an MRI, EEG, go to the eye doctor and blood work. The MRI was normal. Such a relief! The EEG was normal. No seizure activity. Such a relief. He did, in fact, have a little nystagmus and strabismus, which is crossed eyes, and he needed glasses. Cutest thing ever!

After they received the blood work, she had us come back in and said, we think Jackson has Congenital Disorder of Glycosylation, type 2. Wait, what? How do you say that? Will he walk? Will he talk? And I got emotional. When we started this process I knew we would receive a diagnosis. I just knew. But it was like I forgot that day. It kind of caught me off guard.

I mourned the little boy I thought I had. I mourned the life I thought we were going to have. I was so excited to have two boys, 17 months apart. I was so excited to watch them grow up and go through life together, play sports or whatever they wanted to do together. Of course, they still would, it would just be different.

I let myself feel everything. Process it. Let it sink in and then I accepted it. It wasn’t the life I was picturing but it was a new life. And that’s exactly what it is when you receive a diagnosis for your sweet baby or child! It’s a new life.

This poem below explains it perfectly.

WELCOME TO HOLLAND
by Emily Perl Kingsley

“I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, ‘Welcome to Holland.’

‘Holland?!?’ you say. ‘What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.’

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, ‘Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.’

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.”

I didn’t think I would personally go to Holland. I just wanted to work there, enjoy everything about it and the beauty by visiting. Little did I know that I would have a change in my own flight and land there. Little did I know that my two passions would be combined.

When you see someone who walks, talks or acts differently, say hi and make a new friend! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t hush your child who is asking questions. It’s okay to be curious. It’s okay to want to learn. Staring and not saying anything at all can be more hurtful. Talk about the things that are different and then talk about the things that are the same. I promise you’ll find more in common than different.

So here we are enjoying every beautiful flower and hoping that we can help others see the beauty that we see every single day.

Having a disability or a child with a disability isn’t sad, it’s different. That’s what I want people to know and see. It’s a beautiful, new life!

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Cami

Cami found me on Instagram and sent me a message saying that she was also passionate about bringing struggles to light and that if I needed a story, she had one. It breaks my heart to learn about and see children who grow up without one or both of their parents. I’m so grateful Cami was willing to share about losing her Dad.
Cami Moss is a wife and a mom of 3 little kids. She grew up in Utah and went to BYU and the U of U and received her RN. She worked as a hospice nurse for a few years before becoming a mom and then quit that to become a full-time mom. Among many things, she enjoys calligraphy, Anne of Green Gables, podcasting, baking, and anything Italian (art, culture, food, – you name it). Getting to meet new people and have meaningful, deep conversations about life is what she’s about.

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I remember the day it happened all too well. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1996 and me, my older brother, and younger sister were playing the game of “Life” in our living room when my mother’s best friend, Kathie, rushed through the door with a look of panic on her face. She asked where my mom was and we told her that we thought she was up in her room. Kathie ran up the stairs and us kids went back to playing our game. Only a few minutes later, we heard pounding coming from upstairs. At first, we ignored it, but then it kept happening so we thought we should go up and find out what was going on. As we walked into her room, we knew immediately there was something really wrong. Without even explaining the situation, I remember my mom falling to her knees and telling us we needed to join her in prayer. As she prayed, it became obvious what was happening…

If we pause the story and back up to 3:00 am that morning, my dad had woken up to get ready for a business trip and had woken up my mom. As they talked my mom told my dad that even though he had been on a ton of business trips and had traveled often, that for some reason she felt sick about him going on this one. She told him how much she didn’t like the small plane that he and his colleagues often flew in and really didn’t feel good about it. He tried to pacify her and in the end said to her “Carrie, if God wants me, He will take me.” And that was the end of the conversation. Around 7:00 am, my mom received a phone call from one of my dad’s co-workers saying that the plane had crashed and they didn’t know anything else.

So as we sat there praying, my mom begged for my dad’s safety as well as the safety of the other men on board the plane. Shortly after, everything started becoming blurry and surreal as I went to my room to pack my bag to go to the grandparents’ house and my mom got ready to make the trip up to Malad, Idaho where the plane had crashed. I remember being at my grandparents’ house, watching TV and having several of my mom’s siblings in the room. Honestly, in my 9-year-old mind, I honestly felt like my dad was going to walk away with maybe a broken leg or some crazy story that he could tell for years to come. I think my mind went there because even though I knew that trials were a part of life, I thought we had taken our turn as a family. At that point, my older brother had had a very rare form of leukemia twice and in my mind, I thought we couldn’t have any more trials – we had taken our turn. After watching TV for a short time, my grandma came in, and turned off the TV and told us that the plane had crashed and no one survived… all 8 men on the plane, including our dad, were dead. It felt like the whole world was spinning and time just stopped. I remember going into the bathroom, just staring at myself in the mirror, just crying. After a while I remember coming out and eating lunch and then going to play with my cousin who lived across the street. It felt so surreal that I thought if I just ignored it, it would somehow go away.

Later that day, I remember my mom coming to my grandparents’ house and sitting us down to talk to us kids about the funeral. I remember her asking us what we thought and what things we should have included and I felt like a pressure cooker. I had so much emotion bottled up inside of me and as we sat there starting to plan the funeral, I was so angry. I was angry because I felt like we had taken our turn and why couldn’t someone else have a turn? I remember standing up and yelling at her, “What do you want me to do? I don’t know how to plan a funeral. I’m 9 years old”.

The day of the funeral came and we went to the church and of course, everyone stood for us as we came in and I just remember hating my life. It seemed so unfair to me that not only did we have big trials happen to us, but that they were so public.

When the whirlwind of the funeral came and went, it seemed so surreal – until 6:00 pm every night when he didn’t walk through the door. The days, weeks, and months after that, especially the first year, seemed like an eternity.

I remember our first Christmas after my dad died. My mom tried so hard to make it special, but she cried all day long. Every holiday was some version of that because everything that used to be so perfect was now so painful. But, there were some amazing things that happened that year and the subsequent years that followed. My mom’s best friend, Kathie, became a literal angel in our lives. So and her family took us into their home for weekends, nights, holidays, and vacations. They literally became our second family and because of them, we were able to be distracted from the sharpness of our pain, laugh, and be in a place that didn’t constantly remind us that we were missing someone. I owe so much to her and her family.

On a personal level, I had no idea how to cope with the grief and so I turned to the only thing that I knew and that was my faith. I had faith in God and I prayed to Him often, telling Him how hard it was and that I knew that He had the power to turn back time and change what had happened. And even though that clearly didn’t happen, through those prayers I felt so much peace. I felt assurance that God was taking care of my dad and that God would also take care of me.

I remember also feeling so much comfort in songs – particularly songs that talked about angels and loved ones that had passed on. I felt like those songs gave me the words that I couldn’t speak, but felt so deeply in my heart.

Now, my healing includes doing things that keep him alive in my heart and mind. A few years ago, I tracked down everyone I could who had written meaningful sympathy cards at the time of my dad’s death and interviewed them, as well as my old neighbors about what my dad was like and any memories they had of him. That process was so healing for me.

I make sure I talk about him often to my husband and children so they can know what I love and think about my dad. I take my kids and go to his grave often and have picnics and bring him homemade flower arrangements, wreaths, notes, and pictures.

Surprisingly, talking and being able to relate to others is also something I have found to be so healing. It gives meaning to the pain that I wished would go away so badly. I’ve gotten to the point now that even if I could go back and change what happened, I wouldn’t because so much of the good, sensitive, and empathetic parts of me came as a result of my dad’s death.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Alicia

I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Alicia’s story firsthand at the SALT LDS Retreat a couple weeks ago. I talked to her during the retreat and asked if she’d be willing to share her story and I’m so grateful she said yes because same-gender attraction needs to be talked about more.
Alicia Young, the youngest of eight, loves living in Calgary, Canada. Her job is to care for three incredible adults who have physical and mental disabilities. There’s nothing else that she would rather be doing. Her family is everything to her, and she is lucky to live by some of them. In her free time she enjoys playing soccer, or writing and recording music. She believes in the power of vulnerability, living wholeheartedly, and owning her story (thanks to her favorite author Brene Brown).

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I used to wonder if I might be bisexual, but I let go of that idea after I was baptized. I had an extremely hard time struggling with same-gender attraction during and after my mission. I came out as a lesbian after my mission. I totally intended on being an ACTIVE gay Mormon, but I slowly kept taking steps into darkness, and I became further and further from God and the church. It came to the point where I didn’t know if good and evil existed, or if God and the adversary were even real.

I slowly returned to using weed. One day, I ate a morsel of a weed brownie and it had an effect on me for months after. I suspected that it was laced with something. I experienced a drug-induced psychosis (which means losing touch with reality). I was absolutely convinced that I was about to die. I wrote out my last words because I didn’t think I’d get to say goodbye.

I had an experience where my life flashed before my eyes, and I knew perfectly that the life I was living was against God’s plan for me. I had the strongest feeling that if I didn’t change my life immediately that God would take me from the earth. I literally ran to the church to find missionaries. They were so kind and understanding and the Branch President eventually brought me to the hospital, because I was experiencing psychosis (meaning, I lost touch with reality).

There I believed that my body was dead and that I was in the spirit world. I recorded my testimony on a sheet of paper I got from the nurse because it was the last time I thought I’d ever be able to. I was surprised that I did still have a strong testimony. It was always in the back of my mind, but I would just numb it away with drugs or alcohol.

I met an amazing woman, and we considered each other soul mates. I had everything I could ever want, but I knew something was missing. We became girlfriends. She came to the psych ward to see me, but before she got there I got a very strong feeling from God. Like a spiritual magnetic opposition about her. I knew that I couldn’t be with her anymore. I broke both of our hearts, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew I couldn’t be with any woman.

I started meeting with missionaries and tried to bring more peaceful things into my life. One night I watched this Christian movie that absolutely changed everything. It answered many of my questions that I never thought I’d ever have answers to. I learned that God is the one who made the commandments and I simply get to choose to follow them or not. I don’t get to create or abolish them if I disagree. I felt the most incredible peace about the law of chastity that I never had before. I also learned in a new way that faith is always a choice, so even though I was so far gone, I believed that I could just choose to move in the direction of believing again, and regain my testimony.

I was readmitted to the hospital for my Depression and Psychosis and was taken to a room with security guards outside the door. This was the darkest and most terrifying night of my life. I felt completely alone, except for the evil spirits that I felt there. I almost lost control over my body. The nurse was extremely worried about me, as I was almost in a state of catatonia. It was physical and spiritual at the same time.

That moment was pivotal to me because as much as I didn’t feel I could trust anyone, I realized at that moment that I couldn’t get through this life or this moment without trusting another person and without trusting in God. The nurse came in and offered a pill to help me relax and sleep. She told me that I could trust her, and pleaded that I take the pill. I took it and finally trusted that I would be okay.

Taking my medication now reminds me of the Savior’s Atonement every day. I need them for my mind to be at peace, and to let me be myself. Just as the Savior brings me peace, and allows me to be my best self.

It took almost a year of suffering and looming darkness to fully come back to God, the gospel, and the church. I was amazed at how scriptures I had long forgotten, just came back to me perfectly at the exact time that I needed them. I learned again that Jesus is my personal Savior and he doesn’t want me to dwell in darkness, but he wanted me to forgive myself so that I could move on and have light in my life again.

I am putting my trust into my patriarchal blessing, that I’ll be able to get married in the temple and have a family. I know that with God all things are possible. I know that The Family: A Proclamation to the World is true and that it’s from God. I no longer identify myself as a lesbian or bi or any other title, but only as a daughter of God.

I was elated, and so blessed to have been able to take the sacrament again after nearly 4 years. I am joyful living this life, and I will never look back. I now have the privilege of working in the temple, and to feel the Holy Ghost so strongly.

It is almost unfathomable to understand how much the gospel of Jesus Christ really changes a person. I know that if it wasn’t for the divine intervention I experienced, I’d still be living the same life. I believe in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it is my everything. It’s my life and my future. I know and I believe that Jesus Christ is real!

If you feel like it’s impossible to reconcile your faith with your own thoughts and emotions, or if you are lost in darkness and anger, I want you to know that your heart and soul truly can be whole and one again. And to those of you who haven’t come out and who feel alone and afraid of what people might say or think; to those of you who have come out, and have been received with anger; to those of you who have been kicked out of your home or disowned; to those who have felt so alone that they wanted to commit suicide; to those of you who have left your faith, because you thought there was no other option, and to the friends and the family of someone struggling with this, (who have cried in prayer for the damage done by people who don’t understand), I express my love and concern for you.

I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
You can find Alicia’s full story here. And if you want or need to talk to someone you can find her on IG @liciayo.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Suzie

I found Suzie through Instagram a little over a month ago and have been following her journey with her darling son, Trey. I am always amazed by parents who have kids with special needs. I’m grateful Suzie was willing to give a small glimpse into what that’s like.
Suzie is a simple Mom who grew up in the city and the country. From Las Vegas to Star Valley Wyoming. She currently lives in a town called Pahrump, 45 minutes outside of Vegas, which is the perfect mixture of country and city. She loves playing basketball, doing her makeup, hunting, and traveling. She has been married to the love of her life (seriously) for almost 12 years!

March 22nd, 2010 a beautiful, healthy baby boy was born to us. He was the third boy in a row, and we were smitten instantly with his sweet face. We had many exciting firsts with him, his first year of life. Crawling, walking, clapping, dancing, saying first letter sounds of some words, etc. We were surpassing milestones left and right. When we had Trey, he was our 3rd baby in 2 years. SO yes, we had three in diapers, for a few months. It was wild, smelly and I rarely sat down.

Fast forward to when he was 16 months old. Something triggered our sweet boy, and we had lost him. No more eye contact, zero babbling, almost zombie-like. I haven’t heard him say, “Mama,” since he was 16 months old… He’s 8 now. We have had so many learning opportunities to raise a child with autism. I honestly think he was sent to me so I could learn to be more Christlike. It’s as simple as that. He has taught me patience, what having actual soul-deep hope feels like, how to pray, how to love unconditionally, and how to press on.

Having Trey actually gives my life more purpose. I feel closer to my Heavenly Father, because of Trey. To me, Trey is literally perfection, whether the world agrees or not. Our life with just N/T children would be too easy.. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. And what would this life be, if it were just easy?

How do I keep going when things get tough? Well, that’s a hard one to answer. Every situation is different. But the common denominator is knowing there is an absolute precise purpose for why my husband and I were sent a child with a disability. I think knowing that there’s a purpose to this life, that all will be made right in the end, and that death is not the end, motivates me. If i didn’t have the beliefs I do, where would I be on this tough, rugged journey? Where would my hope be? Would I pray as much as I do now? Would I soul search as much as I do? The answer is no. I am nothing without my Father in Heaven.

“I wish to say a word of appreciation for those among us who struggle with handicaps and impart a message of comfort to their families, especially to the parents. Where in all of the world is the son or daughter of God who is totally without blemish? Is life not worth living if it is not perfect? Do not the people with handicaps also bring their own gifts to life—and to others who are free of those handicaps—in a manner that cannot come in any other way? There is hardly a family without one of its members who might be considered physically or mentally diminished. I have a great appreciation for those loving parents who stoically bear and overcome their anguish and heartbreak for a child who was born with or who has developed a serious mental or physical infirmity. This anguish often continues every day, without relief, during the lifetime of the parent or the child. Not infrequently, parents are required to give superhuman nurturing care that never ceases, day or night. Many a mother’s arms and heart have ached years on end, giving comfort and relieving the suffering of her special child.” —James E. Faust, “The Works of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1984,

Superhuman nurturing care. Still working on it!! Does having something to believe in make my life easy? No. It just makes the journey bearable. I still have many rough days. Days where my husband will come home from work, and look me in the eyes and say, “Honey, go get the mail.” That’s code for, get out of the house and go do whatever you need to do, to gather yourself together and come home with a smile on your face. If that’s going to Maverick to get me a hot dog and a diet mountain dew, then so be it. If it’s calling up my mom or sister, and just going for a drive, then that’s what it is. EVERY MOM NEEDS A BREAK!! We all get ragged, worn, or mentally a little crazy. And with that being said, I think it is SO important for every special needs mother to make sure she takes time for herself to regroup.

And let me add to that, as much as I think it is important to have me-time, I think it is even MORE important that my husband and I have a date night, once a week. It can be as simple as putting the kids to bed, and watching our favorite show on TV, with a giant bowl of popcorn, of course. Finding the right babysitter (or two, or three, so you can rotate), is key for us. We can’t just trust anyone. It has to be someone who understands Trey a little and can handle when he has his earthquake-like meltdowns. We have to find someone who understands that his stimming (when he flaps his hands or makes crazy facial expressions), is not him having a seizure. It just means he’s UBER excited about something. We have been super lucky with being able to find a few sitters that we trust. MAKE TIME FOR YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE, OR EVERYTHING ELSE IS GOING TO CRUMBLE AROUND YOU! The divorce rate of couples who are raising a child with autism (and any other disability for that matter), is insane. Take care of yourself, and take care of each other so you can be a team.

I am grateful for the life I live. The ups and the downs. I am so grateful for this bond my family has created with each other, on a magnified level, because of Trey. If I can look at a disability as a gift, or perfect love from our Heavenly Father, everything changes. If I keep on keepin’ on, it will be worth it.

“I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally “free at last.” Until that hour when Christ’s consummate gift is evident to us all may we live by faith, hold fast to hope, and show “compassion one of another.” – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland