Unmute yourself: A message from your white friend

This is a blog post I wrote on my new blog, These Mountains We Climb. But since I feel so strongly about it and still have blog followers on this blog I started out with, I wanted to post it here as well. Please follow my new blog for more frequent and recent updates. Love to you!

I’ve been scared to write.

I used to blog at least once a month. I’ve been blogging since 2011. I’m known for being mouthy on my blogs, tackling sensitive issues, and being quite opinionated. I came from a Mormon conservative blogger background to a political, hands-in-all-pots, I’ve-got-something-to-say, Most-liberal-republican-you’ll-ever-meet blogger.

But then BLM happened.

The trend of police brutality.

Masks versus no masks.

Women versus men.

The economy crashed and drew the line in the sand of leftists versus the far right.

And phrases like this happened too:

Mute white people.

If you’re white, you’re privileged.

Dear White People: bla bla bla

All Cops Are Bastards

Rethugs and Libtards

I won’t go on, but you get the point. Everyone is so triggered, so cruel, so ready to swoop in and tell you to shut up if you don’t share the same opinion or come from the same group. Just like the Nazi’s used to say about the Jews, “If you know one Jew you know them all”–that’s what I’m hearing from all camps now.

And for a few months now it has frozen me. How could I write anything and not be persecuted? I mean, look at my track record–despite my heritage that I’ve deeply researched and have strong bonds to (Hawaiian), I’m white to everyone who passes me. I’m a female. I’m on the younger side. I’m middle class. I have a job and I have a business.  I was never bullied that bad. I’ve been pulled over maybe three times in my life and have never had an issue with it. I got good grades in school. I have a degree. Two little white boys. A good husband.

my fam

I don’t have a story that reeks of oppression, despite struggles I’ve had and things I’ve gone through. I get it. But I’ve literally been told that because of these factors, I need to shut up. So I have shut up–until now.

I realized today the real and only reason behind why people are behaving the way they are is the same reason I stopped writing.


Why do some people call all cops bastards? Because they’re scared of what’s happening within their own race. They are scared of the injustice. They’re scared of being pulled over, being killed, and being another statistic. Instead of combing through good cops versus bad, it’s easier and safer to stay away from them all and to paint them over with one stroke.

Why do some people tell white people to shut up and that they don’t matter or count? It’s because they’re scared. Scared of racism. Scared of injustice. Scared of being judged, being discounted, being told how they should view their own history. Instead of judging each individual over their character and recognizing the good populations within the Caucasian demographic, it’s easier and safer to group them all together as the people who know nothing, do nothing, and make life harder for people of color.

Why do some people tear others down because of simple statements like “All Lives Matter”, even when they believe it too? It’s because Fear is fueling a huge majority of the Black Lives Matter movement, All Cops are Bastards movement, and dozens of others. At the heart of each of these movements is goodness and sincerity, but the thousands to millions of people within the movement often move and act within fear and take it to an unhealthy level of propaganda, shame, fear-based followers, and extremism.

We’re so terrified of one another–we’re so nervous about saying the wrong thing and also scared of being mistreated because of the narratives, the horror stories, the thoughts passed down from generations and the images we see on the news and in our Facebook feeds and even in our own lineage. Fear is the opposite of love. So when we aren’t loving each other it isn’t because we are necessarily hating one another. It’s because we’re scared. And I don’t want to be scared anymore.

It’s ok if you don’t agree with me, and it’s ok if you are so unlike me that it couldn’t get more opposite–maybe you are black, liberal, living in a rough part of town, and the brother of a man who was shot by a corrupt cop. Maybe you are gay and have been terribly abused and harassed or shunned by your own family. Maybe you are the leader of ACAB. Maybe you have trolled someone on social media who you deemed as “racist”. Or maybe you are a republican wearing an American flag and going off about the national anthem debacle.

I don’t care about the differences. But I am starting to care deeply about the fear that leads us to hate.

As a white person, I have a lot to say about black lives. Sorry, but it’s true. I won’t virtue signal and talk about all my black friends or all the ways I’ve helped. I’ll save my breath on that. But I WILL say that I feel strongly about equality, about taking the time to listen to the stories and find solutions. I feel strongly that those affected by brutality or trauma need to be heard, seen, and helped beyond a black box on Instagram or a hash tag. I can sit in silence like I have been, because I’m white–but I GUARANTEE that if one of my black friends were getting harassed right in front of me, they’d want me to say something. If one of my gay friends had a slur hurled his way, he’d want me to step in. If a family member of mine who is a cop was called a pig while I was standing right there–you bet he’d want me to care about it.

So why can’t I speak out on this forum too?

We live in the age of outrage which stems from the era of fear, and we have to crawl out of our dark primitive holes and face the light, as well as each other. We have to stop cancelling out what one another says and we have to take more time than the three nano seconds it takes to type out heated replies. More understanding and less fear will lead to a decline in racism, intolerance, hate groups, and generations of scarred children who would never have been traumatized without our biases and judgments and fear-based ideologies.

Our fear is literally damaging our children.

The other day my family and I visited the memorial of Officer Jonathan Shoop, a young officer that was shot in the head while sitting in the driver’s seat of his police cruiser by a young BLM activist that called him a pig before taking the deadly shot. The responses to his death was disgusting. Some said he deserved it, and others responded by saying he was one of many who is part of a broken system that deserves to be weeded out. It wasn’t until a beautiful friend of mine who happens to be African-American AND liberal-leaning AND active within the BLM movement made a statement against the horrific statements about Officer Shoop that I realized she used her voice to erase the line in the sand and to prove that she can speak for black voices and reform while also speaking out about police lives and how they matter and deserve justice as well. I was proud of her when I read the post, and proud to know her. And it was a teaching moment for me that I cannot stay silent, just as she chose not to. She is part of a community that may often speak against cops, but she didn’t care. Just as I have to stop caring. We need to stop living in fear and start leading in love.

blue life

Use your voice. Get louder. Don’t mute yourself and pretty it up by acting like that’s the only way you’re being accepting or tolerant or fair. You aren’t doing people of color any favors by being quiet or reserving your opinions. Don’t black yourself out in order to shine a light on someone else. A candle doesn’t lose anything by lighting another candle, and we all deserve to be lit.

My “white” voice can stand for black voices, and I should hope they stand for me. Despite corruption in the system, we can speak out for the officers who pledged themselves to doing good and protecting and serving and not be so fearful that we can’t even discern anymore what’s a humane reaction to an unwarranted death.

I am sorry for muting myself. I’m sorry to readers of my blog and to my boys, who watch Mom and who want Mom to be brave and who will someday pattern their own voices after the one who taught them to speak up. I want to continue to speak out and speak up, even if I’m not part of a certain class of people. I’d march with Martin Luther King as a white girl and I’ll lay flowers at a police memorial without a badge. I’ll shoot gay weddings as a straight photographer and gush over their love. I’ll donate to campaigns that I didn’t create and I’ll stand for platforms I have nothing to do with. I’ll stand for a woman’s right in the workplace to fair wages and equal treatment while also raising young men at home of virtue and love. Because my voice matters too on many different levels. And when black lives are in danger or blue lives or any other life along the way, my voice will matter in the fight.

It takes all of us in order to change any of us.

One of my favorite biblical stories is a story we’ve all heard countless times of the Good Samaritan, but rarely do we dig deeper into the story to see what it’s really telling us. The man in need laying in the road had two people of his own race and his own country pass him by. It wasn’t until a Samaritan came upon the man in need that any help was given. Samaritans were known as the “bad guys” of the story. They were often cast out by the Levites and had a bad reputation at the time. But the Samaritan didn’t see anything except for a man in need. So he helped anyway. He stopped in his tracks to help someone in need regardless of what that man or any of the passersby would think. In this story we often think of it as a simple parable of one man helping another. What we fail to conceptualize though is that it was the “bad” guy helping the “good” guy and neither of them caring about the color of skin or the reputation or the nationality because in the end, right is right and good is good.


So in all my “whiteness” (as I’ve heard multiple times now) I’ve decided to stop and lend a hand when it’s needed, even if dozens of people shout at me from the sidelines that help is needed–but not from me. I’ve decided to keep talking. Keep writing. Keep loving. Keep showing support and keep condemning the same patterns and routines that the KKK and Nazi regime fell into all in the name of “progressiveness”. Hate and fear aren’t progressive, and until we can fight for the human race above anything else, we aren’t going to be part of a group that’s different than the hate groups we condemn.

So, judge me in all my white-girl glory and tell me I don’t understand and my griefs are not yours. Tell me to shut up. Tell me I’m privileged. Tell me that no one cares what I have to say. But I’ll keep talking, because I’m not scared of you or anyone else.

If I was scared of you, I’d hate you.

And I never will.








Come on over to my new blog!

Hi dear friends!

As many of you already know, I recently decided to lay Lemmony Things to rest and I have started a new blog called These Mountains We Climb.

With lots of changes in my life, I decided it was time for a clean slate and a new chapter.

That being said, I sure have loved blogging on Lemmony Things and more so than that, I have loved meeting all of you, hearing your stories, making new friends, and learning from so many of you through your comments, messages, and blogs that you keep. I’m so so so incredibly blessed to have found that. I love all of you–seriously I do! 🙂

I would love nothing more than for you to continue with me and follow my new blog. We may not agree on everything (that’s what makes life fun) but I think we can all find common ground in our core beliefs of family, God, love, joy in the good times, and faith through the tough times.

These Mountains We Climb will continue the mission of Lemmony Things, just in a different kind of way. But the heart of it–just like Lemmony Things–is to bring us all together, to shift our perspectives toward the good, and to find common ground despite differences.

Thank you again for reading, encouraging me, and teaching me. I hope to see you over at These Mountains We Climb–and I hope to keep hearing from you!

You can follow my new blog here>> https://thesemountainsweclimb.com/

love one another



Then there was light

In the beginning there was darkness.

That’s always how the stories begin.

It starts right there at the bedside of your father as he takes his last breath. It starts at the wheel of your car, eyes blinded with tears, wondering how you’re going to tell your wife that you lost your job. It starts when you missed the electric payment for the second time in a row and the lights click off. It starts right there.

We’ve all been under the misconception that the darkness is where it all ends. That the light dims, the sun sinks behind the earth, the chill comes, and it’s over. It certainly feels over at times, doesn’t it?

But in the beginning there was darkness—even for God.

And how often we forget.


Just a few years ago after my Dad passed away, I told myself the darkness would never be blacker. And in many ways I agree it’s never gotten so dark again. But like every life, I’ve seen my share of the night. 2016 brought a slew of shade and I still find myself reeling over the crippling effects of it. From a divorce to terrible financial burdens to watching people I love suffer to taking hits to my self-worth and having moments of complete agony on my knees as I wonder how to even rebuild my life or keep steady when the storms pummel away at me and rock my foundation and my faith, I have screamed into the night—I have felt the darkness I felt at my Dad’s bedside all over again in a different way that took new forms. I have searched for stars to find only clouds at times. I have wondered where my friends are, where my path is, and why my eyes can’t adjust. I have begged for daybreak, just like you have.

And yet.

I think there is something to be learned within the darkness.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that before this beautiful earth was created, before the Heavens were dotted with stars and before the mountains formed from the seas and before our hearts even started to beat—the creator of all began in utter darkness, surrounded by nothingness. A God who is all knowing, all loving, a supreme being with all knowledge and wisdom and foresight—still began with the absence of light. “Let there be light!” we quote, remembering that the sun rose and it all began. We remember that part.

But actually, the beginning went more like this: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

That’s really how it all began.

And that’s how you’re going to begin too.


Right where you’re at, grappling for a foothold, tears like rain. This is your beginning.

I think we too often forget where we’ve come from and what we’ve had to endure in our lives to get to where we’re at. We don’t owe ourselves enough credit to remind ourselves that we’ve always survived and that we’ve chosen time and time again to keep going anyway. To keep loving anyway. To get out of bed anyway. To keep believing and to keep moving forward anyway, even when we have no idea whatsoever where we’re going or what we might bump into. You’re still here simply because you have a trait of the creator in you that believes you can still make something out of nothing. And you always do.

The other day during a rough time where I felt like literally all of my prayers were falling on deaf ears—I stumbled across a quote that simply stated, “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast the light travels, it finds the darkness has always gotten there first, and is waiting for it.”

And so, I find you here in the darkness, friend. Wherever you are tonight. This is why I write, as my heart is a little heavy myself and I think there’s something to be said for recognizing that we’re all fellow travelers who are in it together.


I find you in your mound of bills and in your mountain of heartache. I find you crying in your closet and smiling in a crowded room with a pounding and aching heart. I find you lost after turning away from a faith you loved so long and I find you rejected from a love you thought was certain. I find you with your grim medical prognosis and I find you without a friend. I find you, right where you’re at and I join you in the darkness that we all find ourselves in from time to time, even when we’re certain that we’re absolutely alone. I find you there tonight and I hope you know that because God stood alone in utter darkness, we never will have to. We’re in it together, making our way and guessing our steps and waiting for the sun.

I’m a lover of light. As a photographer, as a woman in love with beauty and life, as a future mother and as a significant other and daughter and sister and friend—light has brought me so very much to be thankful for and I see it all as art. Light is what I most love about this world of ours. But I know why.

I know it’s only because I’m well acquainted with the dark.


Even without you here: A letter to the first love of my life

Dear Dad,

I write this from underneath my Christmas tree.

You read that right. Under it. Well, you remember. When I was a kid I’d lay on my back and look up through the Christmas tree, mesmerized by the lights and the way it looked even more beautiful from that upward perspective. I used to fall asleep doing it and you’d carry me to bed. I haven’t done this in a while.

But I am this year.

I thought you might want to know too that Jingle Bell Rock came on the radio a few days ago in the car and instead of crying as I relived the memory of dancing to it in your arms as a kid, I turned it up. I smiled. I even started to laugh. It didn’t really hurt as much.

The food has tasted better this year. The conversations have been easier. The Christmas movies, one after another as I cozy up with hot drinks and soft blankets, have brought Christmas magic instead of Christmas mourning. We decorated the tree and strung the lights and watched a Christmas parade, complete with fake snow and dancing nutcrackers. And my heart was warm.

Each Christmastime, Dad, I find myself writing a blog about how it is without you and how the years are going by since you left us beside a tree and a dozen Christmas globes. I’ve written out my grief, my desire to have you back, my love for you and all you instilled in me at Christmastime. Each time this season I recognize where I’m at in my journey, and it helps. But this year I felt the need to write to YOU, a message scrawled out and hopefully a message that can make it’s way to Heaven. It will be the only and last one I write to you because, frankly, I think it’ll be enough. My heart just needed it. A message to share with you, the first love of my life. Not really a blog meant to be groundbreaking or different or even wise, but a letter to Heaven all the same.

Life has changed since you’ve been gone, Dad.

I find myself clinging to a whole different kind of faith. Praying in a different way. Seeing the world through a new type of lens. Accepting people and beliefs and lifestyles and opinions the way you always did. I find myself more open to truth.

I find myself a little bit more willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Because who knows what they might be going through.

I find myself a little braver, a little sturdier, a little wilder at times and willing to just let life happen and to have fun in the process.

I find myself with the second love of my life.

The one you always talked about–the one that comes eventually in life for a girl, right after her Daddy of course.

The one that sticks.

His name is Jeff.

I think that a world without you in it hurt far worse when it was because the greatest love I’d ever had in my life died that December 9th in a bed of a dimly lit room. It hurt far worse before I met my best friend, the love of my life who repaired some of the damage and filled some of the holes and made the choice to love me so much that it stands in direct comparison to the love I got from you.

And I know that makes you smile–when you decide to peek in from time to time. Before you left me you told me your fears that you’d be ruining Christmas. That I’d feel alone. That I wouldn’t have someone there to watch over me the way you could. Don’t worry, Daddy. Not now.

The thing is, Christmas has indeed changed. Of course it has. I miss you still so much that it will hit me ever so often, enough to take my breath away. I miss you because you’re the first man I ever loved with all my heart. From the moment I opened my eyes you were the one to dance with me, to teach me, to guide me through growing up–even during the tough moments. You held the back of my bike and swam with me in the ocean and laughed at all the parts in the movies that I did. You were the one to watch me get ready for prom, to cry in my hair when you said goodbye outside my college dorm, to read all my stories and hang all my artwork and love me through all my mistakes. I miss you because you taught me how I deserve to be loved.

And this Christmas, as I look up through our tree limbs and watch the sparkle of white on silver, and as I hear the faint melody of Bing Crosby from my computer swooning about a white Christmas, I have everything I could possibly need, even without you here.

Even without you here with me physically, Dad, I think I’ve arrived at a Christmas where I found what you’ve always wanted for me. I think I’ve seen the face of God through the real friends who have stuck around through some of the hardest trials I’ve endured this year and through the laughter of the little girl I already love as my own. I think I’ve heard the voice of God through the carols I used to turn off and the sound of the door opening as the second love of my life comes in from a day of work. I think I’ve held God in my arms at least a dozen times and I’ve felt him in my prayers much more than that even. I think I’ve seen life come to fruition in vibrant color in so many different ways, bringing with it new warmth, new adventures, new reasons to be grateful.

Even without you here.

The thing is, Dad, I survived. I lived through three years without you. I went from existing to living to thriving to having my arms so full of blessings that I wanted to throw it up in the air and have you sift through every single one so I could hear you laugh again and tell me how happy you are for me.

I’m beyond blessed to be three years down the road now with a heart strengthened and conditioned and repaired with everything I think you were scared I might never earn back.

I’m beyond blessed to have loved you first, Dad. And I wish you could meet my second. I know you’d love him and even be super proud of his mad light-hanging skills and dedication to your Seahawks and the way he seems to laugh at my dorkiness the way you did. Yes, that man actually does exist outside of you. Go figure.

Someday I know we all will be together when the fates allow. But for now I find complete peace right here under my Christmas tree, loving the present moment I’m in and not wanting to be anywhere else other than right here.

Because right here is a good place to be, even if it means being without you for a while.

It really is a wonderful life, Dad. 

Merry Christmas.


One of the loves of your life.


My worth is not past tense: An open letter to my disappointed friend

Dearest friend,

It’s midnight and I can’t sleep.

That’s because just an hour ago my phone buzzed and I saw it was a message from you. I was excited to hear from you, but after reading it, my smile fell.

You see, it was a really good day. I had a successful day at work, I have a four-day weekend up ahead of me, and I just got done posting some fun pictures of my wonderful boyfriend and I on Facebook and I was excited to show them off because he makes me super happy. It was all around a good day for lots of simple reasons.

But then I read your message. To protect your identity and not give away who you are or what you mean to me, I won’t share it word for word or share any details about you. But in your message you said that in a couple of my pictures I’ve posted recently you’ve noticed that I’m not wearing my temple garments. You said my light has gone out and it makes you “immeasurably sad”.

“I looked up to you,” you said. “I saw you as this strong, spiritual woman who had faith like the iron rod, strong and true. Someone I can look up to and say ‘If she can make it through these crazy hard trials, then I can make it too.’ It breaks my heart to see another dear friend who was so strong in the church to only fall away…”

I’m not sharing your words to bring you shame. In fact, your message isn’t the first I’ve received from other well-meaning or not so well-meaning people within the church. But your message broke the camel’s back because I care about you and thought that I should share my thoughts on this when I usually just don’t respond because of my fear of hurting feelings or creating a deeper problem.

The thing that makes me the most sad about this message and others messages I’ve gotten is you put me in the past tense.

I want to assure you, dear friend, that my worth, my character, my strength, my passion, and my love is not past tense. It is anything but.


You’re correct that in a couple pictures I’ve posted you can tell I’m not wearing garments. Although that’s a personal subject that shouldn’t be speculated upon by anyone other than the person wearing them, I will tell you this. You’re right. I suppose I could go into the reasons why I’m not wearing my garments in those few pictures, what I was doing at that moment, or detail my church attendance to put your mind at ease–but I won’t. Because I’ve learned that proving myself is a waste of time and I don’t believe in fighting back to preserve some fractions of “worth” that I feel might have been stolen from me.


My dear friend who I have loved for many years–I know you’re disappointed in me. You’ve watched my life change drastically, witnessing my divorce within a church that doesn’t often have them. You’ve watched me move states and change jobs and expand my horizons with new friends and experiences and a new love. You’ve seen me go through a lot and it’s probably set you on edge and you believe that now I’m a lost cause, fallen away like some others that you’ve seen before. Suddenly the woman who propped you up, inspired you to be better, loved you through your own hard times, and showcased strength in the past is just a shadow now in a hollow grave of the past. You probably believe that I no longer love my church. You probably feel sadness that the golden image I once portrayed is somehow tainted in your perspective–and part of me empathizes with you simply because I used to have that same mindset.

I used to want to be the golden image and not let anyone in to the corners of myself, where maybe it’s not so pretty. And I used to judge those who showed those dark corners themselves.

But I want to put your heart at ease by reminding you of what I still believe, regardless of the past tense Kayla who suddenly crumbled beneath you.

I believe in being honest. For too long I had to smile my way through pain, all the while saying “I will endure to the end” and not realizing that the Savior intends for me to have joy too. I was a martyr rather than the protagonist of my own amazing story. And all along I didn’t realize that I was being deceptive. Not only to those who saw the smile–but to my heart and a Heavenly Father who had a greater plan for me.

I believe in being brave. Taking chances. Saying the things that need to be said and doing the things that need to be done, regardless of fear or retaliation. Stepping out of your comfort zone to embrace your beautiful life and to find your plan and your joy.

I believe in real love. Not the kind of love that takes and takes and demands and selfishly controls, but the kind of love that gives and shares and fills every fiber of your being until you realize your face might crack with how long you’ve been smiling. I believe in the kind of love that is founded on friendship and loyalty and chemistry and selflessness–not the kind of love that is matched together based on similar religion, obligation, a timeline, or some self-made map.


I believe in simplicity. Simplifying the things we stress over, the things we let ourselves get worked up over. I believe in finding joy in the small things that so many overlook and overlooking the things that too many people bury their noses in while their lives pass them by.

I believe in freedom. Freedom of religion, freedom of choice, freedom to discuss opinions and embrace those who are different. Freedom to discover new cultures, new ways of life, and to live according to one’s conscience without fear of judgment. I believe there is so much beauty that we quash and tune out simply because we wish to chain others to our ways of thinking or living rather than to watch them and appreciate them in their own elements.

I believe in friendship. In your letter you mentioned I might never want to talk to you again, and that’s okay but you’ll pray for me. I don’t believe in being that kind of a friend to you. I believe that regardless of our beliefs, regardless if you agree with how I’m living as a church member–we are meant to be friends. I am still the Kayla you used to look up to and gain inspiration from and I’m trying every day to be a better version of that. I love you deeply.


I believe in Christ. Above all, without hesitation. He is the reason I was able to make it through the darkest, most malicious storm of my life. He is the reason I smile a little bigger now and have a little more courage to speak up. He is the source of my blessings, my laughter, my dreams, and the deepest love I’ve ever felt in my life. He has given me hope when it felt desolate and has comforted me when others turned away. I believe in Him above all else.

I want you to know, my friend, that I’m grateful for your prayers. But I want you to be happy for me that I’m so happy.

We all have our own journeys, our own setbacks, and our own triumphs and we can often be mistaken if we misjudge or jump to conclusions on the heart or the goings-on of the lives of those around us when we don’t even have the whole story. We can damage those around us by putting their worth or their character in past tense or by expressing such disparaging disappointment when changes come or their lives become unconventional. You just never know what’s really going on. You never know what kind of tears they had to shed or what kind of thick skin they had to build to get to the point they’re at.


Don’t set them back.

We need each other. Let’s uplift, and cheer, and rise to our feet when we see others rise above the ashes. Let’s be better friends–the kind of friends who don’t step away just because of differences. The kind of friends who seek understanding rather than judgment, and who sit alongside each other rather than striving to stand above.

It’s a good reminder for me, too.

With all my love,

Your friend—still.

We’re all a little fragile

When I was in college I went on a date with a boy named Jason.

Jason was mentally disabled and often had a hard time forming words. But he smiled a lot–and he had no problem at all coming into the news station where I worked and asking me out on a date. I had no problem saying yes. He even brought my favorite kind of flower and I didn’t even know his name. He told me it was because they were yellow and the first time he saw me I had yellow earrings on.


The date was fun. We colored in the grass in a coloring book that he brought and he showed me his Star Wars collection that was quite impressive and would make George Lucas proud. After that we went to an ice cream parlor and he let me choose my favorite ice cream flavor. It was there, in that parlor, that three guys walked in and instantly started to watch us, laugh, and mock the way Jason talked amongst themselves.

ice cream.jpg

I was totally distracted and my heart started to hammer.

Jason didn’t notice. He just smiled with chocolatey lips as he handed me my sherbet and counted change in his palm.

“It has to be a pity date.” one of the guys said in a loud whisper as we walked toward the door.

Jason heard that one.

I spun on a heel, spit out that it wasn’t a pity date and it was actually a very fun time, and we left. Jason was quiet until we reached the car and I thanked him for such a good time. He smiled, but he was sad.

I didn’t see Jason after that, and sometimes I wonder if I would have if things were a little different towards the end of that date. Sometimes I wonder if those words, regardless of how I counteracted them, took away his bravery for the future–when he saw another girl he’d want to color with or share some ice cream with. Sometimes I find myself thinking about Jason, hoping that he forgot those boys in the parlor, and that his Star War collection is being shared with someone else.

And it makes me want to be better. It makes me want to choose my words carefully, even when I don’t think someone can hear me. Because when it comes down to it, we’re all a little fragile.


We talk so much about inner strength and finding bravery to move forward confidently and not be affected by words or the action of others. We talk often about not being easily offended or taking what others say with a grain of salt. But something else that should be talked about is working to be the person who doesn’t offend. Who doesn’t say the words that changes someone’s life for the worse. Working to be kind.

For the last four years, prior to completely moving on and changing my life, I have felt the effect of words. I know firsthand how it feels to change, slowly but surely, and to get chipped away at due to sarcasm, attacks, bullying, or small comments that stain you and stick with you. I know how it feels to become someone totally different all because you’re living according to what someone says about you or thinks of you or even doesn’t like about you.

Regardless of strength or a tough exterior, we have the power to completely build up or destroy one another. With one fell swoop we can bring a man to feel empowered or to bring him to his knees without even recognizing it or seeing it in the way his eyes change.

As we move through this life, there are times where all we are made up of is as fragile as paper and all that’s holding us together is glue. Yet we become so quick to anger, so excited to judge, so ready to blast that horn and flip the finger and shake the daylights out of someone who is simply having a bad day. There’s so little mercy left.


No one likes to be called fragile but we indeed are. We walk with insecurities, weaknesses, heartaches, past abuses, and fears, holding them tight to our chest, vulnerable to be stabbed and prodded where it can hurt the most. We know we have them, yet we sometimes forget that others do too.

In one of my favorite hymns it so eloquently says,

“Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly?

In the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can’t see…

I would be my brother’s keeper; I would learn the healer’s art.

To the wounded and the weary I would show a gentle heart.”

Our world has enough people who are tough and bold and crass. We have enough people who are narcissistic and high strung and entitled. We need more gentle hearts. We need more healers and protectors. We need more people who go out of their way to be kind and complimentary and loving. We need more selflessness in this world filled with fragile, broken, and ever-growing souls.

Because if we gave each other the time, I can bet you that we’d all be friends and choose our words better. I guarantee those boys in the parlor would laugh at the way Jason beat-boxed to every single song on the radio and appreciate how he smiled all the time. And I guarantee his Star Wars collection would blow them away.

Just like it did for me.






What my divorce taught me about my Mormon religion

Last night my dad hugged me.

It was in a dream of course.

But I needed it. I woke up, wiped my wet cheeks, and stared out the window to the streetlight that glared into the midnight hour. And I knew, right then and there, why I had been given that hug and that consolation that I’m loved.

hospital bed with dad

My divorce was finalized just a week and a half ago but the journey isn’t over, of course. Far from it.

It’s been a trek of hearing people’s opinions, digesting what matters and what does not, reading messages that either make me sad or make me smile, and figuring out who is meant to stay in my life and who fell away. It’s been an experience unlike any other, an experience that has been refining me, strengthening me, and testing my weaknesses and my boundaries. I’ve felt pure joy for the first time in my life, watching as my heart grows strong and my smile a little more permanent. I’ve also felt what despair is.

I’ve looked in the mirror to see a better version of Kayla–regardless of the downpour of rain that’s hit my world within the past few months. A better Kayla formed from the fire.

And yet–even when you have found the life you love–there will be those who say it’s wrong. There will be brick walls that stand in your way and try to stop you completely.

Through this, most of all, I’ve learned a lot about my Mormon faith.

salt lake

I’ve had people tell me that I should just leave my church because I’m changing so much. There have been those within the church who look at me sideways when I say I’m still Mormon, because my lifestyle no longer includes a temple marriage or a cute house on the corner of an Idaho street or a perfect life framed by perfect smiles. It’s unconventional now.

I’m not the “perfect” blogger with a “perfect” life and a “perfect” story. I’m not arm in arm with a priesthood holder husband or leading a cute primary class with him. Things have changed drastically and I’m walking a path that nobody expected Kayla to walk. I’ve had people say I’ve let them down, that I’m a disappointment–that the changes in my life weren’t expected from “someone like me”. And the judgments–oh the judgments. They have surely come…let me tell you.

And yet–I have come to love my religion more.

That might not make sense and at times it doesn’t even make sense to me. But it’s something that needs to be said and needs to be talked about. Since joining the Mormon church seven years ago I was on the side of the fence that never got judged or talked about. My life could be measured in visiting teaching visits, cute Sunday dresses, monthly temple trips, and fulfilled callings. I was one of the people looking out at those who struggle, those with addictions, those who are divorced or single parents, those who are homosexual, those who have lost their way in life–and although I felt a level of compassion, I never understood what it’s really like. Part of me, at times, would even judge. Just like those who are now looking in at me.


Never, not until now while I’m standing with those who are set apart from the status quo, have I realized that I haven’t truly understood my religion until now, when everything has been stripped from me and I’m working from the ground up again. Never have I truly understood until now the TRUE meaning of what it means to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It isn’t about fitting in or dressing the part. It isn’t about being the perfect housewife or raising the perfect kids. It isn’t about swallowing your struggles and wearing the smile that everyone expects from you.

It’s about the atonement. It’s about the moment that Jesus Christ cried to his Father in Heaven and carried a splintered cross up a hill just to cover your scars in his blood. It’s about carrying those who cry out for help and not being afraid to cry out yourself. It’s about serving–not because you’re fulfilling some monthly duty–but because you know how it feels to need help. This religion is about the basic truths that lie in the pages you continue to read, even when you’re completely alone and doubt every word. It’s about the prayers you say when no one is listening and the resolve to believe when everything in you wants to give up.

And it has nothing to do with anything else.


One of my favorite stories involving the prophet Joseph Smith is when he was helping an elderly woman in her yard who needed help. She said to him very sternly that he and his people are very kind, but that she’d have nothing to do with his religion. With a smile he simply said, “Well ma’am, you can say kindness IS my religion.”

We need to remember that.

We need to remember each other.

Since writing about my divorce I have been so blessed to have had countless people write to me about their own struggles, reaching out to not only uplift me, but to ask for advice or a word of encouragement. And although I fall short for giving the perfect advice, I know without a doubt that we can never fall so far away that we’re distant from the Lord’s love. Regardless of what people say or how you even feel about yourself, the Savior is real and He loves you all the same–exactly where you’re at.

The people within our churches–not just mine, but of all kinds–need to revamp their perspectives. We need to be better. We need to remember why we’re there and refocus on what it’s all about. We get so caught up in the culture of our congregations and the events and the responsibilities and the people we see every Sunday and although those things are positive and needed as well, we tend to forget the basics. We have a habit of forgetting that churches are hospitals for the sick and not meeting places for the perfect. And each of us are on our individual journeys that require love, attention, refinement, and lots and lots of grace.


I’m grateful for a struggle and a change in pace that opened my eyes to this. I wouldn’t have seen it any other way and I wouldn’t have recognized that I was so disillusioned and not truly getting the point.

Be careful with one another. He has entrusted us to each other. Just like my Dad offered within a dream that will probably always stick with me, we need to embrace one another more and set aside differences. We need to love.

THAT is the reason for your church and that’s what I’ve quickly discovered about my own.

HE is the reason I want to be better every day. HE is the reason I want to love better.

And HE is the reason that I stay.




When the right choice is the painful one: My lesson through divorce

I hesitate writing this blog post.

I stare at a bright screen while sitting here in a shadowy hotel room overlooking the Snake River. I wanted to talk about this a while ago, but fear set in. A crippling fear actually that told me I’d lose most of my blog readers just as I’ve lost some friends already and even some family. And I might lose some, I realize that. But tonight, after the hardest day of my life, all I want to do is write. Regardless of perception.

About a month ago my husband and I filed for divorce.

I won’t go into the reasons, but the decision wasn’t made lightly. It wasn’t made overnight. And it came with many tears, hurtful words, and cries on bended knees. It came after wrestlings with God, anger at the world, and heart-to-heart conversations with nothingness long after the world went to sleep.

Needless to say, the decision was a right one.

And yet…

Yet I still feel the pain.


I lay here with reddened eyes that burn like fire, a stomach that twists and churns, and eyes that keep wandering to the river that my husband and I used to walk with our dog. Today I came back into town to get the rest of my things piled into a U-Haul before I make the trek back to my home state of Washington. The sadness I felt as I pulled away from the driveway for the last time was excruciating. There was my husband of four years who I deeply care for, left with an empty house, some nails on the wall where pictures once hung, and eyes full of tears. I felt awful. Yet I pushed the gas on the U-Haul and rounded the corner, reminding myself of my conviction and the answer I had received and he had received shortly after.


I have lost people through this process who disagree with divorce and who have boldly told me that Satan has his grip on me and this choice would never be of God. I’ve lost people I’ve loved with my husband mutually for four years who have decided that I must have lost my mind when this decision was made. I have lost a lovely house. Friends. Two bunnies we had to sell today. A community. A darling neighborhood with sweet neighbors. A marriage.  In-laws. My upcoming chance at motherhood through adoption. Respect of some of those around me who stand on the outside looking in.

Yet even now, through burning eyes, I want to speak to you of what I have gained.

I know one of you need it–that there’s a reason behind why I write tonight.

Sometimes, I have decided, to truly follow the plan of happiness, you have to trek through the valley of sadness.

walk through valley.jpg

You have to sometimes make a decision that breaks your heart into a million pieces. You have to sometimes lose everything to rebuild something. You have to sometimes face the world completely alone with their jeers and their snide comments and their turned backs and decide to keep walking anyway. You have to sometimes smile through the tears. You have to sometimes completely and fully trust your inner compass, even while standing in the dark and fighting the urge to flee. You have to sometimes tell your complacency to take a hike, and go forth fearlessly anyway.

The greatest pain comes right before the greatest joy.

But it can be hard to remember that.

After leaving Idaho several weeks ago, I met with my bishop at my church to get some advice and to let him in on how I was feeling. He asked hard questions and dissected what was going on and finally gave me a knowing look. He asked me if I know about the atonement.

Of course I do, I responded.

And that’s when he proceeded to tell me that too often we see Christ’s atonement as a remedy for the sinner and the lost and the ones who choose wrong. What we fail to remember though, is that Christ also felt the pains of those who follow spiritual promptings and choose to do what is right, even at the cost of persecution and great pain.


His sacrifice, he reminded me, covers the heartache that comes when choosing the right path also means choosing the rocky and thorny one–sometimes totally and utterly alone.

He knew, better than anyone else in the history of mankind as he carried out His father’s will, that the most difficult path often leads to the most beautiful destination. His choice was a difficult one, but He trusted that what was up ahead would be far greater than standing still.

It requires courage. And bravery. And honesty.

It calls out for identifying your self-worth and your purpose and your reason for coming to earth. It demands that you remember who you are in the grand scheme of things and that you can trust Heavenly Father’s plan, even when you can’t see too far ahead.

I know for a fact I can’t see too far right now. I feel incredibly blind.

Right now all I can see is the computer screen. And the river in the moonlight. And the flash of a lone TV against the wall. And that’s about it. Not even going to lie.

But I do trust a few things. I trust that the sun will rise. That Heavenly Father has my back. That I’ll keep breathing in and out and my feet will hit the floor when I wake.

And I trust that because I listened to the still-small voice, even amidst the sorrow, tomorrow will be better. And so will the day after that.

And joy will come.


I hope that you, wherever you are or whatever you are going through, will take hold of your compass and follow its arrow and trust Him while in the dark.

You don’t have to run or take short cuts or even smile through it all.

You just have to keep moving.

And remember that the man who walked the path first walks it again right now–with you.









The biggest massacre in U.S. history wasn’t about gays.

I woke up today thinking about the 50.

The 50 who, just two days ago, had lives cut short on a night unexpected. The 50 who never came home, never responded to that last text, never got to say that one last thing. The 50 who have families and friends and loved ones who are waking up today with a hole carved into their lives–one that will always be there.

50 souls.

And as I watch the country grieve I see rainbows on profile photos and gay slogans and anti-religion propaganda because the biggest massacre in our country’s history was at a gay night club, The Pulse. I understand the sentiment. I understand the rainbows. But the thing we need to understand a little bit better is that it has nothing to do with gay or straight, religious or non-religious, male or female, white or non-white.

half staff rainbow

It has everything to do with hate.

We distract ourselves–and the media distracts us as well–with the reasons behind why triggers are pulled or knives or wielded or bombs go off. “It must be because they were black”, we say. “It must be because he was transgender”. “It was a gay nightclub, that’s why”. “Maybe it’s because he was Muslim”.

And while many of those reasons are valid and might even be a surface reason to why atrocities happen, we owe it to ourselves to look up and see things for what they really are.

Hate is real. It lives and it breathes and it seeks to harm and to destroy and to cast blame. Hate is what finds a reason to kill. Hate is what can be bred into our children from a young age and what festers and grows over weeks or months or years. Hate is pride. Hate is a learned trait.

But yet, so is love.

people crying

Those 50 don’t deserve a gay pride flag. They weren’t just “gays gunned down” at a club. They were children of God. They were precious souls with jobs, loved ones, parents, futures and children and memories to make. They were human lives who had to stare down a barrel of a gun aimed at them simply because the one who pulled the trigger was taught hate instead of love somewhere along the line. They were the repercussion of someone’s inability to see the worth of all souls is great.

And America, THAT is our real problem.

We can preach about gun control. We can enact more gay and transgender rights. We can protest in the streets and sign bills or petitions. We can yell and fight and get angry at each other. We can categorize ourselves by “liberal” or “conservative” and draw our lines in the sand.


Or we can recognize the poison just beneath the roots, the poison that is creeping into minds and hearts and seizing control of our young people. We can work together, free of affiliations, to make it stop. But how do we stop it?

That’s the big question.

I don’t think we’ll ever be able to take a mass issue and solve it over night. There will still be massacres. There will still be children who die and hate crimes and suicides caused from bullying. But we can start where we’re at. We can foster and nurture love into our children and into those we have influence over.

We can recognize people for who they are–children of a perfect God–instead of who or what they associate with while on earth. We can make friends with the lonely and redirect the lost. We can write or sing or use our other passions to touch the hearts of those who need it. We can BE love.

stop hate.jpg

Even decades after Martin Luther King Jr., we still have black teens gunned down in senseless acts of violence and people burning crosses in front lawns. But yet we also have children of different races playing in the streets, a black president, bi-racial couples, and black CEOs and entrepreneurs. We have made leaps and bounds and it started with a simple voice. It started with love.

It seems like the most cliche topic ever spoken about and perhaps that’s the reason our society steers away from it now. Instead of going out in search after the one who’s gone astray we build fences to keep it from coming back in. We build walls to keep ourselves safe and stand in fear at the feet of congress asking them to do whatever it takes to protect us from the “bad people”. We perpetuate the real problem by not actively striving to be the real solution. We cower in fear.

Ghandi once powerfully said, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world–that is the myth of the atomic age–as in being able to remake ourselves.”

These things will happen–we will lose 50 people at a nightclub or a young singer will be shot outside her concert venue; we will see schools gunned down or families massacred in their homes. These things will happen but we CANNOT become calloused. We cannot explain away reasons or get up in arms with the means to which the act was carried out. We need to recognize it for what it is, and try a little harder to be a little better in a world that is without fail crumbling every day around us.

“Take heart,” the Savior said, “For I have overcome the world.”

We must not forget that. We must overcome.

good in the world.jpg

I love the lost 50. Gay or straight, black or white, male or female, old or young. They are brothers and sisters who were victims of a plague that attacks the heart–and nothing else.

There is nothing more to fight about. Nothing more to wave flags about or protest. Nothing matters except for the fact that we are warriors in a battle that consists of fighting evil every day by being one more piece of light that can overcome it. Yes, you may be on a very small scale. So am I. You’re literally one out of billions.

But it’s just the pull of one moon that creates a thousand waves.

Never let someone tell you that a couple people with love and grace and compassion in their hearts can’t completely change this world.

Because through the course of history, that’s all who ever have.

Broken things

A 16-hour road trip to San Diego from our home in Idaho was interesting, to say the very least. Miles of desert, horizons that just seem to get further away the harder you push the gas, and in my case, lots on my mind. And as you probably know, whenever you’re going through an uphill climb in life, sometimes being locked into a confined space with nothing else to occupy your cluttered mind is the WORST.

But luckily, there were pit stops. My favorite pit stop happened to be the summer home of Brigham Young, which sat relatively close to the beautiful St. George LDS temple. I don’t know what it was about walking through that home and hearing the stories of sacrifice and love, but it gripped my heart.

And then we stopped at this chair.


It looks like a normal chair, right?


Many, many years ago a young woman was walking past a junk pile that was waiting for trash pick up and she noticed the back of the chair sticking out from the mounds of rubbish. She pulled it out and noticed the design was rather unique and wondered if there was more to it. So, carefully, she picked at the pile and pulled pieces of the broken chair one after another from the pile. After all the pieces were retrieved she brought it to a historian who gasped at the sight of the pieces. This wasn’t just any chair. This was a one-of-a-kind chair from Thomas Cottam, who was a brilliant chair maker in the mid 1800’s, revolutionizing design and practicality and shape. These chairs were so scarce to come by and were esteemed very highly for the time they were created.

thomas cottam

So, piece by piece, the chair was put back together, re-sanded, glossed up, and positioned proudly in an area that can be seen by visitors coming through every day.

I remember hearing that story with the group of visitors and placing a hand on the back of the simple chair as everyone walked past, eager to head to the next room. And I remember thinking about the broken pieces that ended in the trash pile.

trash pile

This chair, valuable beyond measure, and highly regarded as a work of art for its time, was broken apart, scattered in rubbish, and waiting for its end. But then, someone recognized it, took the time to find all the parts, and restored it to its original beauty.

I think I sometimes forget that. Sometimes we are broken apart, scattered all about with no direction and little purpose. We feel scarred, used up, completely and utterly useless after the storm hits and we splinter and fail. Sometimes we sit in a million pieces and just wait for it all to end. Sometimes we forget how to stand.

And then–it happens. Just like that.

The Savior will undoubtedly come along, often when we feel it’s about time to give up, and he’ll find the pieces. And with gentle and unwavering hands he will gather those pieces together and find our value amidst our rubble. He doesn’t care about the trash around us–the sin, the mistakes, the confusion and doubts and insecurities. He doesn’t care that we turned away from Him and that we left a mess in our wake. He doesn’t care if we were our own storm. All he cares about is gathering what was lost and restoring us to our original beauty–the one that the Maker intended us to be.


There is no grand chair maker who wants his masterpiece to end in broken things. There is no artist who wants his Mona Lisa to be hidden away in a drawer somewhere. There is no writer who’s words should gather dust and no carpenter who wants his carvings to swell and crack in the rain. Art is meant to withstand the ages.

So are you. You’re an eternal work of art.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 so simply and beautifully reminds us, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

But I know. It’s easy to forget when you’re broken into a million pieces or when over time, you’ve been chipped away at a little at a time, you’ve bent a little, you’ve warped in the storm, you’ve lost a few elements of yourself. Sometimes we lose our original shape and we forget the way the master originally crafted us. Thankfully, we have a Savior who remembers who we’re supposed to be and who finds the pieces amongst our mess.

It’s just a chair when you pass it by, I guess. I  never would have known how special it was. How it’s worth hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars because of the master who created it. I’d never guess that at one point it was sitting by a dumpster. It seems like an unlikely story.

But so is yours.

And that’s the grand artistry of it all, even amongst your broken things.

So don’t give up–not for a single second. Like the chair, your master will come and find all the broken parts. Like the chair, your value will be restored and you will find the purpose that you have always had.

Your brokenness is the start of the healing.