Believe it or not, Valentine’s Day is for you too.

Today is the day my mom has been dreading for two months to be exact.

She never hated it before–but she decided she hated it this year. She decided that as soon as Dad took his last breath.

And I never thought about it before, not like I did until this year, how Valentine’s Day is for people like my mom. And maybe for people like you, if you’re out there somewhere reading this and simply feeling lonely. I think sometimes we forget that.

We get caught up in the flowers, the chocolates, the romantic dinners by candlelight and the love songs that plague the radio stations on this special day. We tend to put a label on Valentine’s Day as the day for lovers. And it certainly is for that, too. I love romance *and highly recommend it* for all you lovebirds out there. But I also want to reach out to the lonely tonight. You know who you are. You’re the divorced mother who’s sitting alone on a couch tonight as her babies are asleep upstairs, eating chocolates from a box you bought for yourself. You’re the older gentleman who just lost his wife to old age–and now a picture on the mantle keeps you company. You’re the teenager who just got her heart broken for the first time and the world is a little bit grayer today. YOU are the one who Valentine’s Day is meant for too.

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Today, before I went to work, I decided to visit my mom. To bring her flowers just like my Dad would have. My sister had the same idea–and I was proud of her for recognizing the true spirit of Valentine’s Day. I’m not saying this to toot my own horn. Not at all, actually. The only reason I’m writing this tonight is because I know there are people out there who feel like this isn’t their day. They could sleep through it and probably feel better than they do right now. But it isn’t true, so don’t let the Hallmark cards tell you something else.

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I know that there are multiple histories and backgrounds and definitions revolving around this candy-heart holiday. But I think the one that stuck out the most to me is the word Valentine, which means (for one definition) “a token or gift given to a loved one, often given anonymously”. You have so much love to give. No matter what your position and no matter who has walked in or out of your life, you always have love. Sound cheesy? Well it kind of is. And sometimes cheesy things are true. And you also always have someone who loves YOU. You might not have a spouse or a significant other tonight. But you may have babies, children, friends, a next door neighbor. If you don’t have that, you have the Savior. Always the Savior.

You are loved and important and cared about and you ARE a part of a day reserved for love simply because the Savior–who gave the ultimate “token of love” to ALL his loved ones–sent the greatest Valentine when he decided to give his life in order to remind us of our worth and the eternal love he showed for us while on his knees in the garden and hanging on a ragged cross. THAT’s the Valentine you received today–and every day for that matter. Because it honestly holds more worth than the “Be Mine” boxed chocolate at WalMart.

Your valentine for today? John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son (*for you*), that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (words “for you” added)

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(card my sister gave to my Mom today)

Valentine’s Day–Love in general– IS for the lonely. The recently-rejected. The grieving. The bitter. The one stuck at the office. The couple married for 56 years. You.

It’s for you simply because Christ decided you were the “valentine”.

He’s addicted: And it’s your problem too

I struggled starting this blog post.

I struggled because it’s been a personal battle within my mind from previous experiences and pains and heartache. But I couldn’t not write it..

It’s the topic of actively helping those who are addicted to pornography.

The topic is hot on the press right now, especially after President Kim B. Clark of Brigham Young University-Idaho (the school I attended) caused a stir among bloggers and social media after a talk he gave called “Wounded on the battlefield”. After that talk a video was released.

Watch it here: Wounded on the Battlefield

I’m not going to go into the depths of why people find this bizarre or why bloggers are pounding out long posts about how we shouldn’t live to be tattle-tales and that watching a few inappropriate things are in no way comparable to a bleeding soldier in need of care. I’ve already wasted enough energy thumbing through comments and forums where almost every single person defends pornography and sneers at the fact that it’s an addiction–or an addiction that needs outside intervention.

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Today I’m here to only write about why this message from President Clark is true.

And I only know this because for so long I didn’t think it was my problem. I knew pornography was a problem–I felt it in my gut when someone I love so much became addicted. His eyes were different. He became withdrawn. It became such an addiction that he took less precautions to do it secretly–and people found out. But even realizing his family was hurt–or that I was hurt–he kept going. It wasn’t because he didn’t love people. It was because he needed it now. Much like a drug or a drink of alcohol or a blade cutting the skin–it was a feeling that needed to be satisfied in order to function.

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But I didn’t see it that way. I saw something that was disgusting and vile and suddenly labeled HIM as disgusting and vile. I became self-conscious when he looked at me, almost afraid to make eye contact. I didn’t want to be around him often and I even stopped praying for him. I was hurt that he didn’t seem to care. I was hurt that women had to be horrifyingly vulnerable victims in a man’s lustful world. I started to have a hard time with dating–were all men like that? I turned away from a bleeding comrade and essentially left him to die.

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But why would I do that? Over the years I’ve come to realize I wouldn’t turn my back on him if I knew he snorted crack every night. For Heaven’s sake, no. I wouldn’t dance around the topic with him if I saw ugly scars from razor blades all across his arm or if his eyes were sunken and his rib cage transparent from anorexia. So why would I turn away from this?

Pornography is an addiction.

I’ve interviewed doctors, medical professionals, and therapists in the past while doing news stories who all claim pornography is physically damaging to the brain– much like heroin even. It can diminish relationships, cause women to become objectified, and lead to thoughts *or actions* of rape, sexual abuse, or violence.

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It’s a tragedy when it introduces itself like a venomous snake across a computer screen or in the folds of a magazine. It’s a tragedy that our sons and brothers have to pass by a gigantic wall of a woman’s chest outside Victoria’s Secret every time they walk through the mall. It’s a tragedy when the heroes in the movies are the ones who have an armful of women that they can use without any recourse.

But the bigger tragedy is when we refuse to see it as what it is and we turn our backs on those who need us most.

I know how easy it is, especially as women, to say “Well, it’s not my problem. It’s his.” Sometimes turning away may include divorce, unfriending, or just sitting in shameful silence when he’s behind a closed door. I’m not saying that there may not be a point when divorce or walking away is an option–sometimes for personal safety that’s what some women have to do. I respect that decision and won’t speak against it.

But for the most part, in most circumstances, I’ve also learned over time that it was my problem all along simply because I loved him. It’s my responsibility to speak up–to point to the snake with its fangs in his throat–to stand up and initiate help. The Savior bears every single burden–every single sin–every single shadow that wrestles for our heart. What need have we to do the same for those we love?

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(Oil painting by Greg Olsen)

Galatians 6:2 simply states: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Since the Lord has counseled me about this struggle I have–this struggle of hating the sin on that computer SO much that I immediately despise the hand on the mouse–I’ve had plenty of opportunities since to right the wrong. I’ve had a close friend come to me and tell me he has the same addiction. I’ve had people in my life who I’d die for tell me it was an addiction at one point in their past. And more and more, as I work on it, I’m better able to kneel down to that fallen comrade and press my hands against the open wound while yelling out for help. More and more, I’m aiming to remember that the problem of a brother or sister in Christ is mine too.

I realize this is an unpopular belief. It’s not exactly comfortable to talk about and for some young men or even young women, it’s a topic that makes them defensive. Because the hardest part in any addiction is admitting that it’s an addiction. It’s also a topic that can be embarrassing for both sides. I remember not wanting anyone to know that someone I care about is dealing with it. I was a master of disguising shame.

But light is a better friend, I’ve learned. Light heals. Light exposes. Light changes.

Be that light. And “don’t be silent”.

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The war of distraction: And why we’re losing

As I write this I’m distracted.

I’m distracted because this is the world I live in. This is what I’m used to.

At the bottom of the page I see a blinking Facebook notification. I keep looking down at it until I’m tempted to see who it is or what they said. I guess it’s THAT important.

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I’m distracted just like the two kids in front of me in the lounge of this YMCA who have coloring books spread out on their laps but their hands work vigorously at a small game console. Headphones keep out the sounds of the other children in the pool behind them. We meet eyes briefly before they go back to their game and I go back to this white screen…with that darn blinking Facebook icon again.

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I’m distracted because there’s a TV hanging from the corner of the room and they’re talking about the Superbowl. I’ve seen the interviews before but my eyes are still drawn to the players, even though there’s no sound. But it’s something to watch. A young guy in the corner stares at it blankly. Distracted.

So suddenly what I was going to write about doesn’t matter as much now—not as much as this does.

Our world is too distracted. And it’s killing us without us noticing. It’s a war we’re losing.

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We don’t notice because, well, we’re distracted.

We’re sedated by flickering televisions and abstract games that plunge our minds into a reality that doesn’t exist. We’re tranquilized by “walls” and “profiles” and “friend” lists that suddenly define who we are and our importance more than what we do outside of the screen. We’re lulled to sleep by the buzz of media, movies, gossip magazines, chat rooms, text messages, and Candy Crush marathons. Slowly and surely Satan is making sure that our precious bodies and minds are stupefied and no longer needed for contentment.

I think about the days—not even that long ago *although it seems like it to me*—that running barefoot to the neighbor’s door in the summer and asking if “Johnny can play” was the usual way to make friends. Not friend requests. I think about the days when a boy would have to pick up the phone and call a girl, asking her on a date—not when a text message could mindlessly be punched out and sent. Can you remember the days when family dinners were spent around a table where you could see everyone’s eyes, not their foreheads as they checked blinking phones?

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I can still remember it. But my children won’t be able to. And that hurts me to think about.

I often wonder if Heavenly Father toiled over the fact that one day scriptures wouldn’t be “entertaining” enough to read. That it’d be dry for those who are used to slaying dragons over an X-Box or watching a segment of “Who wore it best?” after an hour or two of an awards show that holds no real importance whatsoever. Did that cause him pain? But of course he knew it’d come. The cunningness of Lucifer knew that a good way to trap anything is to rock it to a blissful, distracted, pleasured sleep where the body is completely unused.

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When I was in college at BYU-Idaho one of the first devotionals I attended was with Elder Bednar–a leader in my church. The talk is titled “Things as They Really Are”. I’ll never forget something he said that day back in 2009. It was the voice of warning.

He said, “If the adversary cannot entice us to misuse our physical bodies, then one of his most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are. In essence, he encourages us to think and act as if we were in our premortal, unembodied state. And, if we let him, he can cunningly employ some aspects of modern technology to accomplish his purposes. Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, earbuds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the Internet that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication.”

Wake up.

I say this with a kind of realization—a realization that I need to wake up more too.

Look around.

Participate more in a real world that still has real sunsets and real people and real adventure. Read books that teach something you can walk away with. Turn off the radio and talk to God for awhile. Turn off the phone long enough to share a dinner with your wife.

Don’t let the world rock you to sleep.

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**Writer’s Note: After reading some comments, I wish to write a disclaimer that I do not believe that all technology or social media is inherently evil. Not at all. Without technology, I couldn’t blog. I couldn’t be employed any longer since managing social media and writing is what I do by trade. And I couldn’t connect with those I love who live thousands of miles away. Technology can be a blessing. But in this post, I wished to reflect on all-consuming habits and distractions that take away from life or face-to-face communication or activities. Thanks for reading!

Women in the home are exceptional: A letter to a feminist blogger

Dear Amy,

I read your blog post yesterday.

This one, to be exact: “I look down on young women with husbands and kids and I’m not sorry”.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I was stunned. I read almost every comment on your blog and I know for  sure that I’m not alone in the category of “jaw-dropped-women”. But before you click out of this post and think this is just one more hateful monologue about your writing–let me first say this. Just a few years ago, I agreed with you. I’m ashamed to say it now. But I won’t deny it. I believed the lie. And let me tell you, in a kind way of course, why it’s in fact a lie.

As you can read from my biography and as you can see from all my social media platforms–I’m a career woman too, just like you. It’s always been in my blood. Like you, I get a thrill from traveling. I live off of the adrenaline that pumps through my blood under deadlines. I’m a busy bee–a workaholic at times, even. And I enjoy tackling challenges, probably like you do. And just like you, I’m a writer.

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And much like you express in your letter (though I wasn’t exactly as heated about the topic) I tended to wonder why not EVERY woman wanted opportunity to step out into the world and take it in her hands and mold it into the shape she wanted. Why didn’t every woman want to get a degree and climb corporate ropes and BE something valuable and highly-esteemed? I didn’t want to disappear. It wasn’t that I looked down on women in the home, I just didn’t want to be that woman.

You said in your post, “You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids”. And within a young mind, I believed that because that’s what the world whispered to me. Rise above your gender roles, it said to me.

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But then, I started my career. I bought my own groceries and I paid my own bills. I had viral blog posts *like you* and I had plenty of bylines to stack up my resume.

But you want to know something? I noticed that at the end of the day, when the stories are written and the projects are done–all I want is to come home and talk to my husband. The “ball and chain” people speak of makes life exceptional. At the end of the day, before I go to any CEO or big-wig director with a concern, I’ll go to my mom. Because she created an exceptional life for me. She is exceptional.

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During visits to see my nephews and nieces and holiday functions (that I actually get off from work), I watch my sisters-in-law with awe as they carry a baby on one hip and wipe sticky goop from a toddler’s hair with another, all while carrying on an intelligent conversation with the rest of us. They are exceptional to me.

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My greatest teachers in my life never stood at the front of a boardroom. They waited at the bus stop for me. They gave me cough medicine at 3 in the morning. They married me at an altar and promised to put up with my not-so-nice days. They held me when no one understood and they worked odd jobs and sacrificed it all to stay home and make sure I had after-school snacks and help with my math. They raised my nephews and nieces with tenderness that taught me patience and compassion. They showed me what it means to live an exceptional life–what it means to be exceptional.

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You say that “doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business”. I know how it may look like that, Amy. But I also know that when I threw up all over my sheets in the middle of the night when I was just 7-years-old and my mother woke up to wash, dry, and fold them right back over my bed, humming a song as she scratched my back and put me to sleep again, she was doing a work far greater than building any business. She was building me.

That is exceptional.

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From the ones raising CEO’s to the CEO’s themselves–every moving part is vital to humanity’s progression. From the mother who wakes up nine times in the night to soothe a crying baby to the lawyer who falls asleep on a desk of work–the dedication and resilience is astounding to me. And exceptional.

As women we need to stand together, Amy. We need to remind the world of why mothers and wives and husbands and those within the walls of our homes help build nations. We need to stick together and cheer each other on for building families, building businesses, building futures, building homes and most importantly–building people.

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We need to remind the world of the courageousness and importance of womanhood. That, my friend, is what’s truly and undeniably exceptional.

All my best,

A fellow blogger

This is what hate is: And sometimes you share it too

This is hate.

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It looks like a good clean joke. It feels harmless too. And it doesn’t even prick the conscience when we post “share”. But it’s hate all the same.

So is this:

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And even things like this:

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Chances are, as you’re reading this you’re thinking one of two things: “Wow, Kayla, you’re super uptight” OR “Sure, Kayla, I guess you’re right.”

Because there is no middle ground.

The reason I’m writing this isn’t to point a finger at you or make you feel bad. Well, maybe a little bad *But for a good reason, I promise*.

I’m writing this because I caught myself a couple days ago, laughing at something that suddenly sunk my heart like a rock when I realized that I was laughing at another human being’s expense. And then I cried under the weight of my realization and read every single comment under that particular picture.

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After all, that person was a human being who literally got dragged through the mud of cyberspace, got stamped with some ridiculous text , and got shared over a million times. And at what price? A few laughs. A few comments…a few sighs of “Oh that’s terrible…but hilarious, right?”.

The thing is–humor is needed in life. A good laugh that turns your stomach to rock and has tears trailing down your face is literally the best healer for anything. But humor can often be packaged in hate. And here’s the thing about hate–it disguises itself fantastically.

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It disguises itself as the excuse that the person in the picture can’t hear me laughing, so it’s not THAT mean to laugh.

It disguises itself as racism or sexism or religious discrimination wrapped in a package of a highly-trafficked youtube video, vine, viral blog post, or photo-shopped picture that’s too funny NOT to share.

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It disguises itself as jokes thrown around an office, cliches that should’ve gone out of style a long time ago *like when the civil war ended* and popular catchy songs that win a handful of Grammys for lyrics about a “black KKK” taking over the world.

It disguises itself well–obviously–because it tricks the best of people. That’s why it tricked you before.

And that’s exactly how hate grows: unnoticed.

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I’m writing this because I’m tired of seeing hate shared and re-shared and told and re-told and pointed at and laughed at and embraced as “good, harmless fun”. I’m tired of also being the victim of being suckered in by witty punchlines or catchy beats on the radio that preach intolerance, ignorance, sexism…and allowing it to make it’s way into my heart. How can I be a disciple of Christ while pointing to the person beaten on the side of the road with a million shares tattooed to his forehead–with a sneer on my face?

Hate is never okay. Plain and simple. Even if it’s funny. Even if it’s clever. Even if the person being torn at never sees it or feels the repercussions of it. Even if it whispers to you that you should “lighten up”. 

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Hate is never okay. Whether it targets a talented writer who lived a life of strength through disability–or an African American man who preached love and change–or an overweight teenager who simply made the mistake of changing her profile picture and displaying it to ravenous Facebook wolves. 

Don’t give in to it anymore. I don’t want to give into it anymore either. I don’t want to be one of the shares…one of the likes…one of the taunts.

Because when it comes down to it– Hate is the only one laughing.

Giving up on the quest to be extraordinary: And how it will change your life

My dad was an ordinary man.

He rose at dawn to go work at an ordinary job, tossing his lunch pail in the back of a maybe less-than-ordinary pick-up truck that lacked a solid floor on the passenger side. 

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He was quiet and attentive to conversations already begun–and he could pass through a room quickly without gaining much notice. He had a daily routine of reading the paper at half past six and watching every Seahawks game in his chair–it was only interrupted by play time with us kids–an ordinary hobby for many dads.

When I was a child I remember feeling sorry for my Dad. He mentioned he used to want to be a doctor before he decided it wasn’t for him. And in his youth he didn’t make much of a stir in his hometown newspaper or in sports–he just spent afternoons at the river’s edge with a fishing line and a can of worms. Ordinary things, really. 

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But me? I didn’t want ordinary. Not at all! I wanted to be extraordinary. I paraded around in dancing dresses, hosted backyard carnivals in the summer, auditioned for every school play, and dreamt of the day I’d see my name on a hardback book. I wanted to leave a positive legacy behind. I wanted to be ANYTHING but ordinary. And I loved my Dad so much–I used to cry that he could never be an important doctor.

And that mindset followed me well into my life. It wasn’t a mindset of pride or self-love. It was the desire to change lives and be known for something good–something special. But that desire, I’ve come to learn, is the desire of so many others who leave nothing behind except for a granite stone, piles of money, and bylines that quickly get shoved into archives. The desire to be great, if that desire is a sole purpose, will completely cloud over what really makes you someone to remember. But the desire to just live life fully and completely with love for people being your main purpose–THAT desire and THAT quest can change your life forever.

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As for my father with his “ordinary” life–I’ve come to understand the beauty of such ordinary things now, and the importance.

Since his passing, I’ve began to take notice of things he left behind. Ordinary things. Sifting through his things after his passing, I noticed old notebooks filled with notes from church sermons and past General Conferences–notes that he took to heart and lived. Notes he never shared.

My mother found stacks of receipts from his monthly tithing slips–tithing that she never knew he paid when she stopped going to church for a short time and he would sit alone in the pew every sunday.

Friends–from the job that everyone said he was “stuck in” for years and years–have filtered through the front door and across our social media pages, telling stories of a man with quiet faith, great love for those around him, and kindness. Always kindness. Even my father’s insurance agent from five years back called with tears in his voice, just to tell us that he’ll always remember Dad and the way he was so patient.

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Ordinary watches and worn-out wallets–thin from years of use–are now our flecks of gold. Yellowed photographs of summers at the river and tanned arms against a lawnmower are now precious heirlooms.

The ordinary, simple things that I once thought were like “every other dad”. But now, to me, are extraordinary. And he never tried to be.

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I think it’s easy, since we live in a world dedicated to proving how “special” we are or how “unique” we are, to measure ourselves at the end of the day by how many awards line our desk or how many nods of approval we get for special projects at work. But putting all of our efforts into that kind of journey distracts from the truly extraordinary. We shouldn’t give up on success within the world and careers we hold, of course–but we should also remember where true success lies.

Like being the mom that finger paints with her toddlers and doesn’t care that some hair dipped into the blue. Like being the friend that sits at the lunch table with the bullied kid in complete silence, just offering a presence. Like being the dad that works a 9 to 5 at a completely ordinary office and always makes sure to make every single ballet performance. Like being the artist that paints, that writes, that sings, that creates–just to make life more relatable, or more beautiful, for at least one person.

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How beautiful the world is when we count the little moments that make up our memories, our goodness, our friendships, our faith. How beautiful it is to leave behind something much greater than anything tangible, even while losing ourselves in ordinary tasks.

How beautiful that is. And how extraordinary. 

You’re scared: And it’s seriously time to stop

If you asked me a week ago what my biggest fear is, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you.

I have a fear of heights. And I’d most likely say that with a shudder, too.

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I remember where it began too, oddly enough. I was barely six-years-old at the time, standing on a really tall stump in the far back end of my backyard. I was barefooted with hair wild in my face–a real Pocahontas wannabe of the neighborhood in mid-August. I was prancing around on it, twirling, playing out the whole “Grandmother Willow” scene that I had memorized just as clearly as the “Colors of the Wind” song. But within a fleeting second, my ankle turned just slightly, I lost balance, and I plunged face-first off the stump and into the pond to the right of me. At the bottom of the pond was a rock *a sharp one at that, might I add* and it nearly broke my nose when my face hit it.

It’s been, what? Nineteen years now? And I can still remember that pain. The rock crushing against my nose in the slimy water. The drop of my heart as my small body flailed off the stump. Oh– and the blood. It was everywhere.

From that point on (small, as it seems) things changed for me.

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(Being held on this railing–up in the space needle–equaled Fear Central)

I can’t climb ladders without my knees knocking together–quite literally. I can barely hang Christmas lights on the top of my kitchen cabinets. I have a hard time crossing bridges in the summer time and an even harder time looking down from one. Steep stairs can even pose an issue. And here’s the thing. As stupid as that fear sounds, fear is very real.

And you have fear too. We all do.

The other day I decided to examine my seemingly insignificant fear and dissect it in a way.

A Bible story came to mind so I looked it up again. It’s a common story with a common moral. But I looked at it a little bit differently this time around.

It’s the story of Jesus and Peter on the sea. You might be familiar with it. If you’re not familiar with it, no worries. Here it is in Matthew 14:22-31.

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22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

I usually see this as a story of doubt in the Lord. I used to think, why did Peter doubt the Savior’s power when he was RIGHT there? But this time, I saw it differently.

If Peter were scared of the water, he would have never stepped out. It wasn’t the water that scared him. No. Peter was a fisherman.

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He didn’t fear being out on the water. But he undoubtedly knew about riptides and currents and safety precautions during storms. He knew how easy it was to drown when the winds got rough and the boat tossed and turned and he knew how important it was to be in control, for he’d most likely grown up at the water’s edge. So with that behind him, the fear of drowning sunk his heart–and then in turn, his feet.

Peter taught me a lesson in my own fear. I don’t have a fear of heights. I fear falling.

Fear generates from past failures and the conscious or subconscious inkling that history will be repeated in a way.

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You don’t have the fear of dating again–you have the fear of being rejected again. You don’t have the fear of public speaking–you have the fear of people thinking your lisp is annoying and laughing at it. You don’t have the fear of getting cancer–you have the fear of leaving behind your kids just like your mom unwillingly left you. We all, in different ways, have the fear of falling. Of losing our footing.

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Fear is real. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. BUT it’s time to stop.

We criticize Peter for his lack of faith all the time–we make whole sermons out of how faithless he was. But how often is fear the one thing that even keeps us from even stepping off the boat?

One thing we can learn–from Job, from Peter, from Samuel, from Lehi and Moroni, you name it– is that the only thing in the world that conquers that kind of power such as fear, is faith.

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I’m talking about the kind of faith that you have to work at every day. The kind of faith that takes practice. Courage. And dedication. Fear is overcome by the type of faith that is taught during those silent car rides with silent tears and whispered prayers to a Father in Heaven that you feel in the passenger seat. The type of faith that’s taught by giving that 10 percent–even when your pocketbook shows that there’s only enough for groceries. Fear is only overcome by stepping out of the boat and making the decision that this time, it doesn’t matter what your feet do. Because your eyes can only see the Savior.

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Fear is keeping you back from knowing Him more. I know it sucks to hear it, but it’s true. And I only know it because well, I’m human too over here. And experiences tend to become us.

And it’ll stay that way until I decide–and you decide–to focus our eyes, just like Peter was told, and let the Savior become us instead.

Lemmony Things on the radio: Come be part of it today!

Hey guys!

Today I’ll be a guest on a great radio show put on by Missionary Depot called White Dress Shirts on Bikes. The coolest part of this is in my opinion is–YOU can watch the show live today at 2 pm Pacific Time by coming right here to this post. The countdown clock you see below will turn into a live feed of the show. *Technology seriously keeps blowing my mind*

ALSO–if you want to interact with me during the show or ask questions, click this link: Kayla on air

We’re gonna have so much fun, and I hope you tune in and take part in it because all of you are the BEST part of writing.

You can check out the blogs for the radio show here: Dennis Duce and Missionary Depot.

See you guys soon!

It really does matter where you come from

I read a little sign hanging in a window just the other day that really got me thinking.

It simply asked, “Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?” If my research serves me correctly, that’s a quote from Danielle LaPorte.

I’ve been thinking about that question a lot lately.

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Maybe it’s because just this last Sunday my baby nephew had his baby blessing during church service. With heads bowed we joined in prayer as his Daddy blessed him.

Dressed in an adorable white little outfit and looking out at us with wide blue eyes, the quote came to me once more. Simply because my nephew had just come from God’s presence. He had no biases, no strong opinions on worldly matters. He had no conditioned ideas of himself brought on by teasing classmates or snide co-workers yet. He hadn’t yet looked in the mirror, making assumptions about what people saw. He’s new. Untouched by the world–and untaught by it.

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But in time, he’ll grow. Just like we all do. And that’s definitely not a bad thing.

It wasn’t Heavenly Father’s plan to keep us in a tiny shell, unable to form words or beliefs. It’s His plan for us to grow, hit bumps in the road that bruise our knees, possibly grow so old until we wrinkle and smile without teeth, and to find joy in relationships that come along, and in hard work and sacrifice. And it’s also His plan for us to slowly remember who we are again and where we come from as we turn our minds to Him, so the giant circle can be completed and we can return to where my baby nephew just came from.

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Too many times I want to forget the past because it’s painful. Because *I know this all too well* I messed up. I fall into the thinking of, ‘Well, it doesn’t really matter about then, it only matters who I am now.’ But if I take it back even further than that–I won’t find mistakes or missed curfews or those awkward middle school haircuts *yeesh* or those heartbreaking teenage years–if I take it back far enough, I’ll remember my divine heritage. I’ll remember I’m a daughter of a King and that I was sent here at a very particular time to fulfill my callings. It really DOES matter where I come from.

Because the world will tell you it doesn’t.

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The world, just like it will to my nephew eventually, will tell you that you shouldn’t be an artist because artists don’t make enough money. The world will tell you you’re fat when you see the stretch marks across your stomach that gave you your children. The world will tell you that you’re a nerd just because you’re extremely good with computers. It’ll tell you that you’re not very good at making friends so it’s better to just sit alone. It’ll tell you that with all the mistakes you’ve made, there’s no coming back now.

The world will lie.

I think back to days like these–this was my third grade class. (I’m the one with the thick brown bangs and my hands up…I know. Yikes.)

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We grew up together and eventually graduated together. I think back to the innocence that didn’t sort us into groups of “cool” “uncool” “smart” or “awkward”. It was a time when we didn’t let the world whisper into our ears and teach us about what makes someone pretty or successful or worth listening to. We were just kids–who somehow, deep inside–still remembered our divine worth.

And I think we can still remember now, even neck-deep in the sludge of words and scars and perceptions and false lessons. We get glimpses when we read our scriptures or fall on our knees to pray or hold our children. We have glimpses of memory that sustain us.

And I think that once we get a good grasp *even if it’s simply by faith* on where we’ve come from and who we really truly are–that’s when we’ll remember where we’re going.

And at that point–the world won’t be able to teach you any different.

Viral blogger/author Seth Adam Smith highlights my Lemmony blog

As soon as I read Seth Adam Smith‘s blog post titled “Marriage is Not for You” I was hooked. *And so was the rest of the world*.

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Seth has writing that is raw and real–stories that we can relate to, learn from, and gain encouragement from. Stories that expose his soul, and in turn, comfort ours. He’s definitely an inspiration for me to keep writing and reaching for my goals in telling stories without any fear.

So….imagine how *humbled* I was when Seth wanted to interview ME. Yeah. I know. It should’ve been the other way around! But Seth is a friendly, down-to-earth guy that shares a passion for people just like I do.

You can find the article here on forwardwalking.com: Author of ‘God will give you more than you can handle’ opens up

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A big thanks to Seth for taking the time to talk to me about my story and what inspires All Our Lemmony Things… And a big thanks to all the readers and followers who make it worth it.

To read more of Seth’s work visit his website: sethadamsmith.com