No, Mormon members: We can’t sweep Tyler Glenn’s “Trash” under the rug

I heard Tyler Glenn’s song, “Trash” one night while I was perusing YouTube for new songs to find on iTunes. It was catchy, somewhat soulful, and it took a few seconds before I recognized a familiar prophet as a painting on the wall in the video and I realized what he was talking about. And then I saw other signs–other sacred things–that made my stomach turn. He was talking about leaving the church because he felt “pushed out”.

I watched the video about three times and on the third time, I closed my lap top and realized I was crying.

I wasn’t offended. I wasn’t suddenly outraged. I was sad for him. Very sad.

tyler glenn 3

Many of us, whether LDS members or Buddhists or Pentecostals or Agnostic or whatever else, find comfort where we’re at. Many of us fit in to the lifestyle we lead and love it. We have friends, we don’t have very unique situations (at least not situations that stick out too much) and we have positive experiences that make us stay.

And then there are those like Tyler Glenn, who are hurting and crying out in the form of blogs, music videos, interviews, art, or a slamming door as they walk out.

Since the release of this music video I’ve seen outraged members express distaste for Tyler Glen’s band Neon Trees. I’ve read awful YouTube comments and have seen plenty of blogs or statements contrasting Glenn’s message. And although I get the anger and the pain and the message that these church members are feeling and trying to convey, I think we need to step back. What’s the real issue here? Is it our need to defend ourselves and keep our bubble shiny and untouched, or should it be the need to understand those like Glenn who find themselves outcast, shamed, and lost?

black sheep

We need to be done sweeping Tyler Glenns of the world under the rug.

When I was in the Pentecostal church I worked as a teacher for the young kids, a lot like I do now in my church. All the kids were behaved, sat where they needed to, and played well with the other children. But then there was Ben (we’ll just call him that for the sake of his privacy). He acted out, he screamed, he bit me so hard once that I had to bandage my hand up afterwards. I couldn’t stand this kid and I breathed a sigh of relief when he wouldn’t show up to church, much to my shame when I look back on it now. He was so different, so misbehaved, so incredibly painful to watch. Even the other kids didn’t want to play with Ben.

But then, one Sunday as I was cleaning up the room and sweeping cookie bits off the tile floor, his parents came in the room to talk to me. They apologized if Ben had been hard to handle. He had developmental issues they told me, and had been in the foster system ever since birth. He had been abused, suffered from lots of delays, and didn’t have many friends. Ben was often sad and would scream out loud and say so in ways that didn’t make sense.

bad boy

After they left my classroom I remember sitting down and crying. Crying in guilt. In shame. In pain for Ben. And praying that Ben would come back each Sunday, screaming fits and all. Because it was where he belonged and I wanted him there.

I’m not saying Tyler Glenn is a misbehaved child. Obviously he’s not. He is a respected musician who served in the church faithfully and is a grown man. But the analogy, even now, rings true for me.

How many times do we see the Bens in our safe world screaming and biting and tearing things up, all the while rolling our eyes and turning our backs and praying they’d just be quiet? How many times do we not seek to understand that they have been rejected, they have been abused, they have lived with self-hatred fueled by the minority and never tamed by the majority?

tyler glenn 2

Why are we still children, pretending these people don’t exist? Pretending like we haven’t been them at one point or another?

Tyler Glenn said in an interview with Rolling Stone, “My entire life and perspective on God, the afterlife, morals and values, my self-worth and my born sexual orientation has been wired within the framework of this religion that doesn’t have a place for me…I served [this church]. I was the square peg trying to fit into the round hole. I believed it till six months ago.”

I understand we can’t lead everyone back. And some people don’t want to be reached out to. I get that. But firing back by saying he’s wrong and that his perception is skewed isn’t only wrong, it’s damaging. What if the sin that you carried, your deepest, darkest secret, was suddenly public knowledge? What if, even by some misunderstanding, you felt like you were a square peg?

I don’t quite understand Glenn’s pain or anger right now. I haven’t been through it. But I know how it feels to not blend in. To work through doubts and pray for the faith to endure. I know how it is to feel anything BUT treasure. I bet you do too.

tyler glenn 4

We’re all treasure, yes. But let’s take a second to look around and see the ugliness and address it and let those who are struggling simply know that we SEE them before preaching and going on rants about how wrong they are to speak out.

I love my church. I love that Christ leads it, and the culture does not. I love that the pure doctrines and truths are completely simple and lead to joy and are not convoluted with opinions and skepticism and misunderstandings that lead to false teachings.

And because I love it, I love who Christ loves.

Tyler Glenn, outspoken angry ex-members, bloggers who have re-blogged my words with fiery come backs, the black sheep, the ones who wail and scream and bite me until I bleed all because they aren’t heard. And I don’t want their trash and their muck to be quickly swept away.

I want to hear them and see them and undo the taboo. I want to fight for them and work toward a day when this happens less and less and even when it does happen, at least we did our part to be the people we need to be.

Because I know without a doubt that Christ would fight for them.

And I know He’d tell us to turn around, to face the ugliness, and to remember that this is our purpose–to go in search after the one.

Note: Edits have been made to protect identities as well as to withdraw a statement I made without realizing it was untrue and that I had misunderstood this person’s message. I appreciate this person reaching out to me to let me know the error and welcome all feedback.



There’s no such thing as Karma. But there is THIS.

I don’t like talking about hard lessons when I was in the wrong to begin with.

It’s a pride thing. Or an ego thing. Something like that.

It’s just simply uncomfortable.

I’d rather be the all-wise guru of knowledge that reeks of love and acceptance and all things righteous (yes, you can laugh). But…*sigh*. I’m human.

So are you, so I think I’m in good company, especially since I know so many of you and you’re all pretty much my tribe.

Today something difficult happened and I think the reason it was harder than usual is I haven’t had these kinds of feelings before and I haven’t had such inner turmoil about something like it either.

Someone I know pretty well has risen to the top in many ways. Lots of friends and acquaintances have shared this person’s work on social media and even affiliates from my church has endorsed this person. But each time I see it or read about it, a lump forms in my throat because of what I know. You see, I know this person and details that aren’t published for the world to see. I know what’s real, I know what’s fake, I know the back stories and the histories and even present situations and I know the damage that has been caused to other people who are now a platform for this person’s success. I refuse to discuss details. I haven’t told a single soul anything–not a name, not anything. But today I have carried it in my heart like a heavy stone and even said a simple prayer.


“Why, Heavenly Father, is (this person) allowed to deceive? Why do people who hurt or lie or become like the world gain such success and have NO repercussions?”

I know it probably sounds silly. Some of you might even think it sounds immature of me. But this blog isn’t to flash my perfection. It’s to discuss our collective imperfections.

I know that at least one of you out there have experienced this very thing, even if it’s a different circumstance. One of you has seen an abusive ex gain an incredibly prosperous life without you. One of you has been betrayed by a friend who looks perfect in all her profile pictures and hasn’t batted an eye that you carry pain. One of you out there has been hurt by a pastor or a minister who drives a Rolls Royce and couldn’t care less that you’ve left and feel like you have nothing. One of you out there, at least one of you, has wondered why karma hasn’t caught up to those who have left dirty, bloody war wounds on those around them.

successful person

And now, it’s later in the night and I think the quiet has helped me realize something that I wasn’t able to grasp during the noise of the day.

There’s no such thing as karma. And I shouldn’t even want there to be.

But there is such thing as a Heavenly Father. And He works everything out.

Our job on this earth isn’t to be on His jury to dole out the punishments we think we see fit or the “karma” that should roll around. If that were the case, that’d be a pretty sinful, hypocritical, biased jury wouldn’t it? I surely wouldn’t belong on that panel.

I’m grateful that we have a loving Savior and a gracious Heavenly Father who sees all things, just as we do, but who also sees the heart and can be the perfect judge. I’m grateful that when I feel the inclination to judge and be offended, He reminds me that I’m overstepping my bounds and that I shouldn’t judge lest I be judged likewise.

Tweeting Jurors Fines

In James 4:12 it says so simply, “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?”

And in Galatians 6:7 it reminds us that He sees all and will take care of it even better than we could: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

It’s so hard to remember this, especially when our first inclination as human beings is to defend what we feel is right and to “correct” the wrongs that we see. I think we sometimes have the nasty habit of sniffing out wrongs like hound dogs and forgetting the things we still have to work on.

I see so many positive things now that I’m looking for them. One of my blog reader’s daughters just beat cancer. One of my friends who has been battling infertility just sent me a picture of her first ultrasound. My dog sleeps at my feet, precious and perfect. It was sunny today and the tulips in my front yard decided to burst into full bloom. Beauty everywhere.

So much to praise. Not enough time to condemn.

I’ll just go ahead and leave that up to the Master.


Your chariots of fire

I am SO lucky.

Actually, I should use the word blessed because that’s the only way to explain it, isn’t it?

You see, I have a HUGE family.

I wasn’t born into it. My side of the family is relatively small–I’m one of three girls (my older sister never lived with us) and our extended family reunions can fit comfortably in a house if everyone is present. My dad has died, so coming home for week-long stays now includes my immediate family of two. But I love them so much and we’ve never lacked. We’ve always been close.

family my side.jpg

But then I moved out and went to college and accrued a whole plethora of friends who have become family. So close, in fact, that my kids will call them aunts and uncles.

And then I got married and BAM. Just like that, I accrued 14 other sisters and brothers (including spouses) and 21 other nieces and nephews besides the two I already had. I got another set of parents, and more cousins and uncles and aunts.. When we first got married my husband and I actually made a game out of memorizing everyone’s names because it was like memorizing the names of an auditorium of people at a football game.

But it wasn’t hard to memorize each of them because they worked their way into my heart really fast.

everyone at wedding


This last weekend I learned a little bit more about how blessed I am–and how blessed you are too. Let me tell you why.

We went to Utah for the baptism of my little nephew Colton. His mama, my husband’s sister, passed away three years ago from cancer. It shook our family to the core to lose her, but we all made a pact that we’d stay close to the kids and to her husband and his new wife now. Not all of us could make it to the baptism/reunion weekend but lots of us did, and I’m so glad we were there. During the confirmation blessing Colton’s daddy made it clear that Natalie, his mama in Heaven, was so proud. And we all felt it at that moment. She was very near. So it was only fitting that after we had our playtime and went out for ice cream after, we would visit Natalie’s resting place together.

I write about this time with the utmost reverence because it isn’t something that should be flashed around. I wondered if I should even include it at all. But I feel that I should. Natalie is buried in a family plot and since her youngest, Ella, wasn’t even two years old when Natalie died, she had lots of questions. As the family walked back to their cars and left them behind I captured a shot of my sweet and incredibly strong brother-in-law explaining with the utmost simplicity the resurrection.

ella and ted.jpg

“Someday, when it’s our time to go home to be with Heavenly Father we will see Mommy again,” he said sweetly. “We will give her a big hug.”

“I can’t believe she’s in the ground,” Ella said.

And that’s when my brother-in-law explained that she isn’t in the ground. But in fact, she’s with us as a beautiful spirit.

As I write this I remember the feelings that came over me in that family burial plot watching a daddy and his daughter over a mother’s grave. I remember feeling like the cemetery was suddenly packed, standing at attention–saluting a small girl who has to face a life of strong faith and courage.

nat with kids

Those stones in our graveyards are reminders in the emerald grass of the chariots of fire that run to our rescue daily. They remind me that whether you have a small family or a large family on earth, it doesn’t compare to the crowd that loves you in Heaven.

For all that I’ve lost, I remind myself now, I have gained so much in Heaven. My uncle, my cousin, my dad, my sister-in-law, my grandma, my grandpa, friends…all the others I’ve lost along the way–they guard and protect and serve me daily. They whisper in my ear and hug me from behind and lift my chin to the sun when I feel despair. They stand at attention during my time of sorrow and celebrate when I feel joy.

Yes. Angels are real. It’s called family.

ella and matt.jpg

One of the little boys I teach in primary at church said a sweet prayer the other day that comes to mind now.

“Thank you that Heaven loves us!” he exclaimed last Sunday. I’ve never heard that kind of phrase before, but what a little spiritual giant he is to exclaim what my heart sings over now. Thank you that Heaven loves me! Thank you that I have family and friends and ancestors who cheer for me and root for me and have passed down their talents and love and faiths just for me! Thank you that throughout the course of history we are one long chain that pulls and tugs through time, reminding each other and comforting each other and loving each other back to the kingdom.

Elder Holland said it best I think. I included this quote in a past blog of mine but why not share it again? It’s just THAT good.

“In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike–and they will–you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed.”

You are the seed of Abraham. You are a link in a never-ending chain of God’s children. You matter enough to have angels, ancestors you never met, and those you have loved and lost, form rings of fire around you. You matter enough to have Heaven work to keep you uplifted, safe, and in the light, even against the dark evil that you can’t see.

It blows my mind and comforts my heart all at the same time.


Our feet that pass by these gravestones now will someday be joined in Heaven–someday WE will be the ones to help our loved ones from the other side of the veil.

The eternal plan for eternal happiness. The eternal pattern.

My face streamed with tears as I watched Ella learn about where her mama is right now. My face streamed with tears when I had to learn that same lesson with my dad.

But I can’t help but turn my face to the sunshine and thank God for the angels that hold us up. I can’t help but thank God that despite death, despite pain, and despite the blindness to the spiritual realm, I have a HUGE family.

And we have chariots of fire on each side running at reckless speed.

Just for me. Just for you.

angels guarding


The reason you matter

One of the lower points in my life was the day I applied at a mattress store.

Don’t get me wrong–it eventually turned into one of the best jobs I’ve ever had and I met some of my best friends there. But at the time, with a brand new bachelor’s degree in hand, years and years of experience, and dreams upon dreams mounded in my little heart, I was disappointed that I had to apply there. The jobs I liked didn’t pay enough or weren’t hiring at all, and this job had a lot of promise to give us a good income while my husband attended nursing school.

I became depressed.

I no longer held a camera every day, I didn’t get to write much, and I had to learn a whole new skill set that proved pretty challenging, and I didn’t know if I’d even be very good at it.

selling mattresses

I even remember one morning, sitting in traffic, my new sales tag pinned to my blouse, where I said out loud, “I guess I don’t matter anymore.”

Silly, I know. But it’s how I felt. And I honestly felt that way for a while, especially during the learning curve where I flailed without any kind of life raft for a while, completely unsuccessful at closing even the easiest of sales. But bit by bit, day by day, I learned the difference that I could make in people’s lives and why my  job mattered to so many people. Most importantly, I remember the moment where I was reminded why I matter–regardless of circumstance or profession.

I helped an elderly man one day find the right bed and he happened to be a professional photographer when he was younger. We talked for quite a while and he told stories and we laughed and he eventually bought everything I fit him for. It was a great experience, but I eventually moved on from it and didn’t think about it. Not even a month later, his daughter called my store and told me he had died in his bed the night before and she wanted to personally call and thank me.

She said that he had talked about me to her, telling her that it was nice to feel important again–that most sales people just treat him like a senile old man who won’t buy anything expensive enough. He was mostly ignored. But with me, she said, he felt important again and he could tell that’s because I was a child of God and recognized the same in him. She said he told her that was the only reason he spent the money he did, and she was grateful that I did that for her dad.

After many tears over the phone, I went to the back room and wrote a reminder on the white board we kept on the wall: “Everyone who walks through our doors matter. Just like you matter.”


It was more of my reminder than anything. I had forgotten why I really matter. It has nothing to do with occupation or a degree or a social status. It has nothing to do with my education or where I live or what I drive. It has nothing to do with how “important” this world considers me compared to everyone else. It’s simply because I’m a child of God.

And I matter to Him.

When we come to that realization, we’ll instantly treat others with more kindness, more gentleness, and more respect simply because we know they are a child of God too.

During this General Conference (a conference the LDS church has semi-annually) I have been reminded of my identity and I feel grateful that I was able to learn those lessons young.

I don’t sell mattresses anymore and the days of working 12 hours without a camera in hand are over. I’m finally doing what I love with my own business, but I know now that my business, my hobbies, my experience and my resume don’t define me whatsoever. And I know that’s why Heavenly Father humbled me, placing me in a circumstance I wouldn’t choose for myself, and breaking down my pride, all to remind me that my worth doesn’t change. To this day, I thank God for that circumstance the most.

in kanab

“God sees us as we truly are–and he sees us worthy of rescue,” President Uchtdorf said.

And even President Monson said, “Remember who you are and what God expects you to become.”

This is how we start. By remembering that. It is our first step.

You might feel like you aren’t much. Maybe you can’t think of any talents that you have. Maybe you’re getting older and can’t do what you used to do. Perhaps you work three jobs to keep up with rent and none of them are what you want to be doing. Maybe you are a waitress during the day, studying to be a nurse at night. Maybe you are lots of things.

But despite it all, none of them matter as much as the fact that you were created by the Creator, loved by the maker of Love, cheered on by the most intelligent, all-encompassing being of the universe.

matt in africa

So if you forgot, let me remind you.

Yes, you might be a mother, a father, a caregiver, a doctor, a plumber, a photographer, a writer, a teacher, a lawyer, a bishop, a gardener.

But more than that you’re something that matters much, much more.

You are a child of God.

And that makes you absolutely, beautifully divine.

When God doesn’t show up

Today in church a newborn baby was blessed.

In my church, how a baby blessing works is the father will hold the baby in the center of a circle of family and friends and a prayer is said for the start of the little one’s life. Today something that was said in the blessing caught my attention.

“I bless you to always feel Heavenly Father near and His love for you,” the sweet dad said.

Wouldn’t that be nice?! My inner thoughts said back. And maybe there are some of you who legitimately have the gift of always feeling Him near and knowing without a doubt that His love for you is bigger than life. *If so, I totally want your life.*

But I wasn’t born with that gift.

Instead I was born with a skeptical little heart that I have to hold at bay now and then, and a talent for working really hard at things and not giving up, even when my insides aren’t really feeling it. I’ve always been embarrassed about that.

Why does it feel like sometimes I just got the short end of the stick? Why do some of my trials feel like a really personal blow? Why, when I’ve spent years praying for something, it feels like a brick wall is listening instead of a loving Father in Heaven?

Why does it feel like sometimes God chooses to just not show up?

alone on dock

As painful as it is to talk about, as embarrassing as it is to talk about weaknesses, I know I’m not the only one. Don’t worry, you don’t have to admit to it. I’ll take the fall and maybe you’ll relate along the way.

I was so blessed to be able to attend Time Out For Women this weekend, two nights filled with messages, music, and heart-to-heart honesty about trials, overcoming, and patience in the storms of life. All of the messages touched me deeply, but it wasn’t until Michael McLean, a wonderful singer and song writer, took to the stage that I suddenly felt like the Savior himself took my hand and wanted to deliver this very personal message straight to me.


I won’t cover his whole message because it was long and you would fall asleep halfway through the blog because I wouldn’t be able to tell it as beautifully as he could. But long story short, Michael had a decade-long faith crisis. During this crisis of faith, he didn’t let anyone know what was going on internally or the doubts that singed his heart. He continued to go to church, he continued to write music, he kept going to the temple with his wife and joining in on family prayers. But he felt, all along, like he was in the darkness. And then one night he had a dream, in song of course, and he woke up and wrote the music that he heard in the dream.

“I choose to pray to one who doesn’t hear me. 

I choose to wait for love that He conceals.

And though God’s chosen now not to be near me, 

I’m keeping promises my heart no longer feels.”

I wouldn’t consider myself to be in a faith crisis that lasts years upon years like Michael and some others have experienced–but I have had pockets of moments, sometimes pockets of days or weeks, where these lyrics are what my heart would say while in the midst of the dark.

I felt that moment three years ago when my husband told me over the phone that Dad was just given nine more months to live. I still remember sitting against a vending machine, unable to stand, praying in a room that wouldn’t even echo. I felt nothing come back to me.

hug on bed

I felt that moment when the doctor said the word “infertility” and my prayer to be a mom fell on seemingly deaf ears.

I felt that moment when the only members left on my side of the family left the church and my prayers for them to stay seemed completely meaningless.

I have stood, alone and utterly broken, wondering why God decided not to show up when I needed him the most.

I have lived these moments.

And yet–so has He.

savior in garden

And although I’ve always known it, it wasn’t until I was reminded the other night that I put the pieces all together. Jesus–the Savior of the world, the perfect man, the CREATOR of the galaxies–was literally left alone. In his greatest hour of need Heavenly Father stepped away from Him and took away his presence completely.

Why did he do that to his only son? His perfect son??

Yes, it’s because he loves us so much. We’ve all heard that answer and we’ve studied it in Sunday School manuals.

But another answer is one we don’t think of that often. Heavenly Father had faith in Jesus.

He had complete faith that in the moment when Christ felt most alone, in that moment when there was darkness and emptiness and no voice whispering back, in that moment when the Spirit had left and the pain was immense and the blood stung his eyes–he decided to pray anyway.

jesus praying

He decided to do the Father’s will anyway. He decided to keep His promise ANYWAY.

So what more can I do? What more can you do?

Because of the Savior we will never be truly alone.

We might feel it–we might get a taste of what the Savior felt in Gethsemane as he cried to the Heavens and was later pinned to a cross on a lonely hill. But in those hours of feeling it, we need to do what Christ did when he was actually, truly alone and didn’t have God near by.

We need to pray anyway, even when we don’t get an answer back. We need to keep our promises, even when we don’t feel like it anymore. We need to love Him, even when we don’t feel very loved in return. Because in those moments, those little moments where our eyes put a roof on our perspective and we can only see a few feet ahead–

In those moments He’s counting on us to choose Him anyway.


Life is so hard. There’s a million things we want and a hundred things we need and it’s so easy to see his hand in other’s lives and a little harder to see him working in ours. It’s so hard sometimes to watch our kids leave the church and to take the sacrament at church while feeling like it wouldn’t make a difference anyway with how terrible it has all been. It’s so hard to feel like you don’t have any friends you can talk to and to get on your knees to pray, only to cry instead, feeling like there isn’t anyone on the other end of the receiver. It’s so hard to deal with an empty home or a too-full home where you have no time to breathe. It’s so hard to deal with a spouse who has fallen away, an addiction that seems unbearable to handle, or a calling in life that makes you the one people go to for spiritual strength and there’s no time in the world to fall apart.

Life is so hard. I know.

But we have to keep going.

He has faith we’ll love him, even in those empty patches. Even in those moments where we’re almost completely convinced that He isn’t there.

If you’re in a crisis of faith right now, don’t try to convince yourself of anything. Just choose to keep going forward. Your faith won’t always be perfect–mine sure isn’t.

But He has perfect faith in us.

And for now, here in the dark, that’s enough light to hold on to.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” -John 8:12, KJV


Parents: This is what your sacrifices really amount to

My dad used to keep a real-estate ad of a huge house for sale on the lake fifteen minutes from our little home. He thought it was beautiful and his dream was to own it. I didn’t know that until after he died, and my husband told me that he had told him about it while driving him to work one morning.

It was just one more thing to make me feel guilty.

After all, I had heard my dad often speak of the RV he wanted to get one day after he retired. He wanted to pack us all inside and drive across the country, visiting the Grand Canyon and the National Monument and the Redwoods and so much more. It wasn’t something he mentioned only once. He mentioned it a lot, explaining how the trip would be. He would watch shows with me on the Discovery Channel about the country’s biggest waterparks and the best restaurants. We had a running list. He dreamt of going to Hawaii, and we talked about parasailing and eating coconuts right off the trees.


I got my travel bug from him I think.

But, life happened.

Long before he got the house, long before he got that RV–he got cancer. And it was all cut short.

For a long time after he died I dealt with extraordinary pain over the fact that my dad’s life consisted of just a few things. Working long hours, leaving the house at dark and coming home at dark, mowing the lawn, getting dressed up for church, and leaving work early only to attend my school plays and choir concerts. At least to my childhood eyes, that’s what it all looked like. It seemed that his dreams were pitted in a future he never had. I felt guilt over my opportunity of going to Hawaii, of traveling and buying a house in Idaho–his favorite state. So much guilt.

turtle in hawaii

But I was so wrong.

Lots of things came to light after my Dad died. There was a savings account for trips and he worked hard for it. But each time a summer came around and he had a week off, my mom and he would decide to go to Disneyland instead–because my sister and I were convinced we were Disney princesses and we loved roller coasters. The new house never came because buying me a car when I was 16 came first to them, and so did school trips and clothes and the million other things I’ll never know about because he worked overtime without saying a peep just so I could have those things.


He didn’t live a life without. He lived a life of complete sacrifice. And my mom did the exact same thing as a stay-at-home mom, living a life of wiping sticky faces, chauffeuring us to soccer practice and dance recitals, and making sure we had the last piece of chicken if we were still hungry, even before she ate a thing.

The word sacrifice always sounds so painful. But when we really look at it and examine what it is and what it means in the eternal scheme of things, there is no pain. Only joy.

And I’ve learned that lately more than ever.

As soon as my husband and I decided that adoption was the way we were going to start our family we both looked at our “Hawaii” jar (because after our last amazing trip we vowed we had to go to Hawaii 185 more times before we kicked the bucket) and decided with a sigh that priorities have changed. And movie night? It turned into Netflix night so we could save some pennies for diapers and a crib. But strangely–it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t hurt because it’s for something I love already SO much more than all those things or all that freedom.

One of my close friends sent me this picture tonight and it reminded me not only of the sacrifices we’ve already had to make for our baby–but the sacrifices that have been made all my life for ME.


I read this and in a single moment it all made sense to me.

Your sacrifices don’t vaporize. They don’t go unnoticed.

They are flecks of gold that add up and build mansions. Your sacrifices build your children and your grandchildren and the generations that will come long after you are gone. The things you give up grow a thousand fold and are given to those you sacrifice for. Your children, your career, your spouse, your friends, and your church–you’re building them up. Just as Heavenly Father did by sending his ONLY son for US–you as a parent or as a guardian or as a teacher mimic the exact same virtue.

I don’t even have my child yet and I feel a glimmer of what my Dad felt all those years and what my mom felt when she went along with everything in total agreement. I know now that when we hung the curtain up by his bedside during his last days–the one that had a picture of a Hawaiian beach–he didn’t stare at it longingly, wishing he had had a chance to go. I know now he wasn’t thinking of the RV he never had a chance to drive or the Grand Canyon he never had a chance to see. He wasn’t thinking about the extra cash he could have earned or the new house by the lake.

He was thinking about my sister and my mom and me–right by his side.

He was thinking about his investment.

me and dad dancing

If you vote for Trump, chances are you’re being selfish

I couldn’t believe it as soon as I heard it.

I stood at the opening of the dressing room at Ross, waiting for my husband to come out and show me some of the dress slacks he was trying on. Right beside me was a hispanic couple–she had an armful of clothes and her husband was there to wait for her, just like me.

“Put the clothes on the rack first and I’ll give you a number,” the dressing room attendant said briskly.

The woman didn’t understand. She nodded, smiled politely, and kept the clothes in hand.

The dressing room attendant said it again, this time, pointing vigorously at the rack. Partially understanding, the woman draped her clothes on the rack, trying to obey what she was saying while obviously not speaking the language.

This set the attendant on edge. “No, use the hangers,” she said gruffly. And then to the other attendant, “I don’t have time for this.”

Spanish was an area of study for me throughout middle school and high school and it was my college minor where I also directed a Spanish newscast along with the English one so I quickly came to the woman’s side. I spoke to her in Spanish, letting her know what the attendant was talking about, and even helped her hang some of the blouses. All the while the attendant stood with crossed arms, rolling her eyes as the woman “held up the line”.

spanish crew

I couldn’t believe it. How could anyone be so ignorant?

And then it occurred to me–I shouldn’t be surprised.

We live in a country built upon the backs of immigrants. Heck, we ARE immigrants. We live in a country where diversity is the only reason we have the foods we do, the cultures we do, the inventions and the technology that we do–yet suddenly we have forgotten. Suddenly, a man like Donald Trump who is not only supportive, but VOCAL about his dislike of immigrants–is actually STILL in the race. How has he not been completely shut out? It’s because we’ve forgotten who we are. And ignorance is the most violent element in society.

“I don’t have time for this,” the attendant had said. And I think that’s what a million (probably more) people think. We don’t have time for the people who are here for the same reasons we are. And Donald Trump, again and again, has spoken out about his “ideal America”, and it does not seem to reflect what we actually are.

diverse america

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists…” he said.

No, Donald. Most of them are simply trying to try clothes on at the store without having you roll their eyes at them. They’re trying to work long hours to feed their family. They’re trying to learn YOUR language, which happens to be one of the most difficult languages to learn. They’re trying to live.

The short video clip below highlighting the moment where Trump kicks a Muslim woman out of one of his rallies speaks loud and clear:

Trump kicks Muslim woman out of rally

trump photo

And to me, the most disturbing part isn’t that a presidential candidate called out a woman wearing an hijab. The most disturbing part to me is that there are hundreds–maybe thousands– of supporters around him booing her and screaming at her and being strangely reminiscent of 1940’s nazi Germany.

nazi germany

The day we’ve forgotten where we’ve come from and the mistakes that led to mass genocide, hate, and digression is the day when we deteriorate as a country and kill ourselves all over again. It doesn’t matter that you might be a Christian. It doesn’t matter that you’re white and only speak English. It doesn’t matter that your idea of the American Dream is to live and work with those who look and sound just like you. It doesn’t matter that you “don’t have time” for immigrants.

Because what we really don’t have time for is selfishness.

Somewhere along the line your great-great-great grandmother came over from Ireland or Spain or any of the other countless countries. Somewhere along the line your ancestors didn’t speak a lick of English and had to work in factories to get ahead in this country. Somewhere along the line your blood was new to this country.

irish immigrants

We can’t let a man like Donald Trump or anyone else for that matter make us forget that. We can’t let him forget that the reason he sits on his wealth and owns his fancy hotels is because somewhere along the line someone sacrificed for him to have the wonderful life he leads.

Standing behind a man who has those notions makes you selfish and blind to the reason we’re all here. It makes you forget we’re all simply–human.

I’m not making a political stance by saying that our borders should be wide open and that there should be no control. I’m not saying that protecting our nation and doing things the right way in regards to citizenship should be done away with. Obviously that would be catastrophic as well and balance needs to be struck. I don’t like even getting political because I feel like everyone has a right to their own opinion and their own vote. But this has to do with our brothers and sisters. The hate and the misunderstanding and the people who say “I don’t have time for you”–that needs to go. And we need to stand for it.

I don’t wish to live my life selfishly, only thinking about my skin and my voice and my ways of living. I don’t wish to live in a country where there is segregation–the kind of segregation that we worked so hard to overcome.


I don’t wish to stand behind a man who actually called for a “great wall” that would be “paid for by Mexico”.

Even Benjamin Franklin said of immigrants, “they contribute greatly to the improvement of a Country.”

And he is right. Our world, our country is a melting pot. How can we not speak up when we see our neighbors and our friends and our families being told to get out? How can we let dressing room attendants roll their eyes and women with hijabs get taunted and escorted out by security? How can we let any of this happen to our brothers and sisters?

How can we stay silent?

The day I chose adoption

Infertility changed me.

It introduced itself in a doctor’s office, ran over me with sharp and cunning negative tests, prodded me with needles, opened me up on a surgical table, taunted me with reminders of empty cribs and empty arms, and gave me lots of hope and lots of letdowns within 24-hour periods.

Infertility made me skeptical at the process that should be natural. It made me go from a crazy woman who obsesses over ovulation kits to the person who couldn’t care less and became bitter at the world in certain moments. It made me hate being a woman each month. It made me hate ever trying.

Infertility sucks.

negative test

The thing about me is I’ve never kept it a secret. I’ve never wanted it to be shameful or something to hide. Women go through it–and it should NEVER be a stigma. And no woman or man should go through it without lots of support, lots of conversation, and lots of vulnerable moments and self-awareness. Without this blog to vent to, without my husband and my family and in-laws and amazing friends and social media circles I would be by myself in a locked bathroom with a minus sign on a stick, wondering why the darkness is so…dark. But there is light amongst friends.

Infertility needs to be in the light.

For my husband and I, infertility has impacted our lives for four years now. I know there are so many who have struggled longer and my heart aches when I think about it. We have done it all. Ovulation kits, weird diet plans, fertility treatments, surgeries, blood tests, ultrasounds, more tests…should I go on? And each time you hold your breath, get excited, plan the nursery…and then six months go by and it’s still nothing.

with pup new years

Just a little while ago I have felt prompted to stop fertility treatments that we have been doing once a month. On top of that, I have been reminded of the first thing I wrote on my “bucket list” as a little girl for a school assignment in fifth grade and something that had been a goal of mine ever since. Adopt a baby. I told my husband about my desire for adoption when we were dating, and he loved the idea. At the time, we saw it as something we’d do when we were older, had a few biological kids, and had more money saved in the bank. But alas, Heavenly Father laughs when we make our own plans.

He’s got something better.

I realized recently, with the reminder of my sweet husband, that the strong desire that prodded my young heart over a decade ago was the preparation I needed to recognize it when the time came. THIS is the way our children will come into our lives. THIS is the plan for us. As soon as we made the decision–as soon as we looked each other in the eyes and said this was the path we were going to take– peace overcame my heart.

reading to kiddos
Reading to my nieces and nephews

I haven’t felt that kind of peace in a long time.

The comments have already begun– “Don’t you want your OWN children?”, “Are you hoping you’ll get pregnant once you adopt?”– but that’s to be expected when something a little more unique happens compared to what usually happens with a young couple. But more importantly I think, is the realization that I’ve had SO many people deeply and genuinely care. We have already had an enormous display of love, generosity, prayers, shares on social media, and messages that warm our hearts and fill our eyes with tears. I am humbled at angels on earth. The rest doesn’t matter.

The day I chose adoption–the day my husband and I came to the fork in the road and recognized the path it would take to find our baby–was the day I learned that God’s will is often hidden behind our own plans. And all we need to do is ponder, pray, and open ourselves up to accepting something that may not be what we thought was originally in the cards for us.

by chrstnas tree

As young kids we tend to learn that life follows a plan. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage. But sometimes, life is funny.

Maybe first comes love, then divorce, then love again, then lots of step kids. Maybe first comes many years of single life, then a great career, and the choice to steer clear of any baby carriages. Maybe first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes lots of struggle to get that baby for the baby carriage. Who the heck knows. Life is not a picture perfect map.

We just draw on our blank canvas as we go along and connect dots along the way.

Blank billboard

Choosing adoption, in my life, wasn’t giving up on my body or throwing in the towel. It wasn’t “settling” for someone else’s child. It was simply recognizing that God has bigger plans than my own, and along the way He prepared my heart for it. He built in me the capacity to want it. I’m so grateful for lessons like that.

We’ve decided to start the process now to earn funds since adoption isn’t cheap. By September we’re hoping to have the funds necessary to get on the list and work with the organization we’ve chosen to find the beautiful addition to our forever family. We’ve set up a GoFundMe page that is already serving as an amazing blessing for us because we can’t do it alone. For us, it literally takes a village to bring in a child. And we couldn’t be more grateful to be a witness to that.

I rarely ask for favors because 1) Sometimes I have too much pride and 2) I don’t like using my blog as a platform for personal charity. BUT my family is my priority and I’m sharing this as much as I can to get closer to our baby. If you aren’t in the position to donate I TOTALLY understand–but if you will, my biggest favor is please SHARE. Since I’ve kept this blog I’ve seen the power of social media firsthand and THAT would mean the world to me more than anything else.

Click here or below to support our Adoption Miracle

Thank you for sharing in this journey with me and for being kind enough to read, to comment, to share, and to encourage.

Infertility is one of those things that can feel so lonely, amongst so many other trials, some of which you may have right now. But together we share in it, we talk about it, we sit together and cry a little and laugh a lot. We keep walking, keep choosing to go forward, and keep choosing God’s will. THAT is what makes it all worth it.

That is what I’m so thankful for.


What it means to be still

There are so many reasons I love being a photographer.

The energy of the people who are dressed their best, feeling beautiful as they twirl and kiss their spouses and hug their children. The way people tend to sparkle when they feel beautiful. The excitement I get out of chasing the best light and stealing killer sunsets. Getting creative with poses, apertures, shutter speeds, and techniques. Collecting lenses and awesome equipment to make my images even better than before (much to my hubby’s dismay).

But my all-time favorite thing is getting to freeze something so unique, so beautiful, so candid–that it would go unrecognized and forgotten without my lens. The little moments that have such little significance because of their brevity, yet completely define who we are.


That feels like a superpower almost.

Oftentimes I’ll be editing images and I’ll just stare at an image of the small smile and the far-off look of one of my clients, light reflecting in their eyes just so. Quiet hands. Content. Brief. Perfect.

We need more of those moments.

kissy baby

We hear it all the time. Be still and know that I am God. Yet we fill our lives with static. The radio, Netflix, our cell phones, Facebook, our own voices. We tend to fill the voids and the empty spaces with stuff. We don’t pause enough. We don’t take those moments–those beautiful, thoughtful, peaceful moments that I see through my lens–and cherish them. I’m to blame for that as well.

I think a lot of us think of being still as just not stressing out and choosing to be patient while trusting and knowing that God is there and will work it out. And while that’s probably a big part of it, I think being still is also very literal.

NICU shot

Pause yourself and sit for a while in your snapshot. Spend time with those you love, free of phones and tablets and noise.

Take time to think and read your scriptures and pray. Set things down, quiet your hands, and turn off the TV. When life gets to be too much, realize that at least 50% of that “too much” are things you can control. Things you can shut off. Things you can set aside for awhile to just be still.

I’m a busy body too, and need the constant reminder that my answers will come and my stresses will relieve when I give myself time to just quiet down and listen, free of technology and work and all the other trivial things that steal my attention. I need to give way more than a few minutes a day to the very creator of time.

Whether you are suffering from depression, a physical illness, every day stress, or the pains of waiting on an answer that hasn’t shown up yet–you won’t find your peace amidst the noise.

be still

1 Kings 19:11-12 says, “…the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

We are blessed to have the voice of the Creator speak right to us. We are so entirely blessed that He’s on our side, despite everything.

We just have to be still and find those moments of clarity.

And we have to let ourselves listen.


“Sorrow that the eye can’t see”

I met Mikey in Spanish class at college and then got closer to him when I started dating his room mate (my now husband).

How would I describe Mikey? Outgoing, passionate, hilarious, and overwhelmingly compassionate. He is always concerned about everyone around him, always taking interest in his friends, and always making everyone laugh. I’ll never forget showing him my ring after my husband proposed. He literally rocked back and forth saying “Oh my gosh!” with a smile bigger than my own. He was genuinely and completely happy for me, and I’ve never seen someone that invested in other people the way Mikey is.

So it didn’t surprise me when Mikey began this blog titled “Being out is in” and revealed such candor, such love, and such honesty. After years of keeping it hidden to the point where he teetered on the verge of suicide and melted into sleepless nights of depression and self-loathing, he finally decided to tell the world his struggle. That he’s a gay man living faithfully in the LDS church.

I couldn’t help but share his blog with all of you. He is sharing his story in installments, starting at the time he first discovered he felt differently as a little boy to the moments where he had to come to terms with how to carry on as a grown man.

As a member of the LDS church I stand in awe of the young men and women (and even some older men and women) who bravely share their stories, their struggles, their trials, and their triumphs. I find myself admiring those who live a life battling mental illness, turmoil, disability, loss–all of the things that have the power to stop someone in their very tracks–and who keep going despite it all. Despite the pain, the frustrations, the loneliness–Christ comes first.

It reminds me of a quote from an incredible author:

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I want to be more like that. I strive to have that kind of courage.

I recommend giving his blog a read and a follow!

>>Being out is in<<

mikey and wife