Friday, June 6, 2014

Makes Me Sad and Makes Me Happy

Today I went to Annie's "moving on" ceremony. She is officially done with elementary school. She got dressed all cute for the ceremony today. I sat wrestling with the boys for an hour while they recognized kids for various achievements and reflected on their time at the elementary school.

Overall, the ceremony made me sad. I feel no real connection to this elementary school. Those teachers didn't watch my girl grow up from a tiny, violin-playing, chapter book reading kindergartener into the budding young woman she is today. Coming in at the beginning of fifth grade, she didn't have a chance to run for student council or be one of the school helpers. All that was determined before she got there.

In my mind I though of how different her end of elementary school ceremony would have been if we had stayed in Vegas. I imagined how much fun she would have had on the 5th grade field trip to the PALI institute in California and maybe even the GATE trip to Space Camp. I thought of the opportunity to be a host on the schools "Good Morning School" show. She would have been AWESOME on that and would have LOVED it. Moving erased all those opportunities for her. This morning it just hit me and it made me sad.

I was allowed to take her out early after the ceremony and I did. As we drove home, I asked her how she felt during the ceremony. She said Happy. I told her I thought she was pretty darn wonderful. She said, "I think I am pretty wonderful too." And that made me very happy.

Later in the day, we had friends over to celebrate the official beginning of summer with homemade ice cream and a giant water gun fight. The kids had fun. Time came for Sabrina to go to a party her friend was hosting. On the drive over she said, "I think I am getting more freckles."

I told her she probably was because the sun gives you freckles and she has been spending time in the sun. Then she said, "I love my freckles! I think they are so cute." That made me happy too.

There are few things in this world about which I am truly passionate. But two of them are my testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and his restored church on this earth (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and instilling in young women a healthy self esteem.

To have two of my daughters in one day so openly express genuine feelings of self love made me feel so happy. I am so incredibly grateful that my 13 year old can love some of the unique things about her that create her own beauty. And I am also incredibly grateful that even though my Annie didn't get as recognized and awarded as she could or would have been at her old school, she still knows she is pretty wonderful.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

S'more Krispies

For last night's So You Think You Can Dance party, my girls wanted me to make Rice Krispie Treats. But I wanted to do something a little more interesting. So I looked in my pantry to see what I had and I threw these together ... S'more Krispies.


Now I like a good Rice Krispie treat as well as the next girl. But these were so good I had to tell my husband to hide them from me before I finished off the whole plate. 

Here is how I made them:
Smore Krispies
Ingredients 
3T Butter
5 1/2 cups Marshmellows
1/4 cup Nutella
6 cups Rice Krispies
8 Oreos broken up
2 cups mini marshmallows
5 graham crackers crushed

Directions
Melt 3T Butter and 5 1/2 cups of marshmellows in a pot.
When melted add the Nutella (I just got a big spoon and put a spoon and a half in. I would guess it was about 1/4 a cup.)
Pour in your Rice Krispies
Start stirring. Add your extra marshmallows, Oreos, and graham crackers.
Put in a 9x13 sprayed pan and press down with clean hands you have sprayed with cooking spray.

Yum!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Question and some ideas for service

Okay Ladies, where do you buy your shoes and why? I need help finding the best place to buy ladies shoes! HELP!

Also I am having my Dance Watching party Wednesday night at 8:30! Come if you have access to my address!

Looking for a way to help someone else? Here are a couple of ideas:

Feed the local missionaries from my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.) They won't try to convert you. They just will pray with you and eat with you and maybe share a Christ centered message (3-5 minutes) with you. It will be a blessing to your family to do the Christlike service of feeding these young men and women who are sacrificing 18-24 months of their life to the Savior. So if they knock of your door or you see them on the street, offer to have them over for dinner. You'll feel good knowing you helped someone out.

Go to this link and learn more about Prader Willi disease and see how you can help this family whose daughter has it.

Go buy a cookbook from this cute couple to help them afford IVF. I did this just because the girls name is Camille. You know that won me over. :)

Okay people I am trying to do an extra good deed daily. I am counting posting this as one of mine for the day. Have you done a good turn today?


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It's that time of year...


I am loving Spring in Texas! I love flowers. Spring is the season of blooms but I usually suffer so badly from allergies that I can't enjoy them. Not here!!

Finally feeling like myself and really enjoying the cool breezes and warming air here. I love the rain storms and was so happy to wake to foggy dew this morning. 

We have done a total makeover on our backyard and I am loving all my roses, gardenias, jasmine, calla lilies, daisies, hydrangea, and hibiscus! Plus we have a new swing where I can sit and enjoy it all! 

And the kids are loving the new sandbox my dad and I made when he came to visit in April!

Haven't been able to fully love many things here in Dallas yet but I officially LOVE Spring here!

Also So You Think You Can Dance premieres tonight!!!! I'm excited. If you have my address (even if it is from a stake directory or school directory and I haven't officially met you) you are invited to come join the party tonight 8:30-10:30 pm. I'll be making something yummy to celebrate the premiere!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mirena and Depression

Okay. I know. I haven't been blogging very "regularly" lately. I have been in a funk for a while. And I just have been instagramming more. But there are a few things I want to write about. This post will be about the first one, just be warned it is a bit personal so you can skip this post if you want. :0)

Mirena and Depression - I just wish I had known about this before I had my Mirena put in. 18 months ago I had an IUD put in. I had been on the pill when Jon and I first got married and it was great. Then after Annie was born I tried the mini pill and got depressed after 3 weeks and I quit it. After Harrison I really REALLY wanted the Mirena to work for me so I wouldn't have to deal with periods anymore.

Here is what it was really like. First I went crazy (short tempered and cranky) for about 6 weeks. Jon was ready to get it out right then. But told him we should wait and see if it settled down because I really wanted to have no periods. I bled sporadically and enough to need to wear something for the first 14 ish months. YES people.

Doctors often seem so eager to get you on the Mirena but I didn't hear that it was normal to bleed randomly for that long. Apparently it was because I went to my Doc to ask what was up and he said it was all normal. Even after 14 months I bled randomly throughout the month. It just wasn't always enough to merit wearing something.

The "Crazy" did wear off a bit, but I had some serious stress and challenged to work through then. Basically, Jon was looking for a new job and I started studying for the bar exam. Then Jon got his new job and left town and I packed up the house and moved us. And then there was moving a week before Camille's angel anniversary. So I was super emotional all through this.

I told myself to just give myself 6 months in Dallas and it would get better. And while I did get used to the place and feel more like I had friends here, I still didn't feel... myself. February was especially tough. There were weeks I just wanted to stay in bed and cry all day. By this point I had no REASON to be down. I mean it was just silly. I felt so blessed in my life. I looked at signs of depression online and I had 7 of the 10 classic signs.

So I began to wonder if the IUD was playing a role. I googled Mirena and Depression and read story after story that sounded so much like mine. I made an appointment with a doctor here. She suggested perhaps I needed estrogen in the mix to balance out my hormones. She put me on the pill I originally took as a young married. 10 days into that pill and I was WAY worse.

My parents came to visit and I just couldn't climb out of the pit I was in to show them how excited I was that they were here. My mom was worried about me. I stopped taking the pill after she left and it was suddenly SOOOO much better. I made an appointment to go back and have the IUD removed.

I have been IUD free for about two weeks now. It feels like a heavy blanket has been taken off me. I am able to really feel happy again and feel like myself.  I share all this just in case there is anyone else with the Mirena or another hormonal contraception that is feeling like I was and not able to figure out why.

Don't let Doctors tell you it has no effect because the hormone is so small an amount and only directly into your uterus. Please! Some of us are just more sensitive to hormones than others I think and if you are one of those people, look into getting rid of those things.

Consider this my Public Service Announcement. Hopefully I will get my booty in gear to blog more because I do have more to write. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Camille's 7th Birthday / Easter 2014

This weekend has been one worth writing about. The kids had Thursday and Friday off school and Jonathan had Friday off work. So Friday we went to Six Flags to celebrate Camille's 7th birthday. We always do a big family fun thing like this for 7th birthdays. The weather was perfect and the park was empty so we had a great time.


Saturday morning Jonathan took the kids to do a community service project pulling weeds on the "Flower Mound." This was part of our "Cami Kindness." Meanwhile I prepared a lunch for us and the cousins and filled balloons with helium and Cami Kindness acts people had told me they had done.

After lunch we took the balloons out front and let them fly. It was great.

   





Thank you so much to all of you who contacted me on did Cami Kindness acts this past week. It really means so much to me that you all remember her and continue making the world better because of her life.

What really made this weekend worthy of a blog post however, is less what I did and more how I felt. This is my 5th time celebrating Camille's birthday without her. It was, without question, my hardest. I am not sure if it is being in a new place where no one knew her or just the fact that it has been 5 stinking years of not being with her on her birthday. Perhaps more than both of these, it was feeling her spirit closer to me than normal and just aching to be with her.

Whatever the factors, this was a hard one for me. I was somewhat weepy on Friday. Friday night I couldn't hold the tears back any longer and I wept long and hard that night before crawling into bed. As I prayed that night through my sobs, I was given the thought or impression that my grandmother Lucile (celebrator extraordinaire, she made everything pure magic) was with Camille-that she was taking care of her. Perhaps this was meant to make me feel better. Honestly, it mostly just made me really jealous. So I cried even more wishing I were with them.

I had a few other impressions about the work she is doing now and I treasure any hint I get of those things in my prayers. But none of these heavenly gifts could pull me from the powerful wave of grief I was experiencing. I don't get hit by these waves very often anymore so I didn't fight riding it. Sometimes my grief reminds me that she was real. 

Still I wondered how long this wave would last. Would this be the kind that pulled me down for days or weeks or months? I was set to teach a lesson on the Atonement Sunday in gospel principals class. Would I even be able to prepare it or get through it?

Saturday was an even weepier day than Friday had been. I did not feel the "celebratory" feeling I had in past years on Camille's birthday. I was just so sad that she was not there. I ached for all the consequences her absence has on every member of my family.

After the birthday party Saturday afternoon, Jon took the kids to the park so I could prepare my lesson. I decided to make a visual aid to help explain the role of the Atonement in the Plan of Salvation to our class and most importantly to our new member. This is something my mother would do. It is a good teaching tool so I followed suit. Below is the result:







Saturday night we prepped for Easter and finally got to bed around 12:30. I went to bed exhausted and emotional and wondering how Easter would go.

Sunday morning I woke to the sounds of excited children (one of my favorite sounds.) I got up despite only having about 6 hours sleep and turned on Handel's Messiah and told the kids where to look for the their baskets. As I listened to that music, the joy of the gift of Easter took root in my heart. My sorrow evaporated like the morning dew.

Later in church, our sacrament talks were especially profound and I felt a reconfirmation of the reality of the Savior's power to make us perfect. I felt a lightness in spirit and mind because of my witness that HE LIVES! He rose from the dead! And because he did so will all of us.

As I taught my Easter lesson on the Atonement a little later, I taught what was on my visual aid. Then, at the end, I noted how it is a really nice plan all laid out on this nice chart. It looks good on paper. But when you are living separated from someone you really love, this plan is EVERYTHING. And what Jesus Christ did in Gethsemene and on the Cross and in the tomb. That few days of history and the Savior's choices and his suffering in that time make absolutely all the difference in the whole fabric of the plan.

I am so grateful to Him. He is the Way. Through Him our families can become Eternal Families. He is the way Home to all those we love and miss beyond the veil.

My reconfirmation of this knowledge removed my sadness. It took the sting of death away for me yesterday. If you don't know these truths for yourself, I urge you to Seek them. Seek Him. At some point in every person's life, this knowledge can literally save you. For more information on how to find Truth for yourself, go hit the chat button on Mormon.org. No one will try to convince you they are right. They will only guide you to find out for yourself what is true. You will be glad you did.











Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cami kindness time

It's that time of year again! Camille's birthday is the 19th. This year it happens to be the day before Easter. I love it! What better way to spend "Easter Eve" than doing service? 

My family is planning to participate in a community clean up project to make The Flower Mound beautiful. I am excited to do this work for our community as a family and in Camille's honor.

I invite any who read this to participate in Cami Kindness Day and do some act of service or kindness beyond what you would normally do in memory of Camille. This is one way her short life can really make a difference and make the world just a little bit better place.

Please SPREAD THE WORD! Invite others to join us. 

I would love it if you would share what you did or are going to do 
for your Cami kindness with me by commenting, emailing me or whatever. I want to release balloons as part of her birthday celebration and I would love to fill them with scraps of paper with Cami kindnesses written on them.

Thank you for helping me make her short life matter.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Blossoms of Love

Recently, I had been feeling well... depressed. Which is just silly because I have no reason to be down. I am so blessed. I recognize and appreciate my blessings. But still I had this fog of depression hanging on me. I am not sure why. Maybe my hormones were just off or something but it was worse and longer than my normal one day of feeling blue per month.

Honestly, there were several days in a row there where I just wanted to stay in bed and cry all day for no reason. I am a little embarrassed to even admit that but it is the truth. The frustrating part for my analytical mind was not being able to pinpoint why I was down or how to get it turned around. It gave me great sympathy for those who suffer from depression more chronically.

But as I was thinking my way through my rain clouds, I identified a few ways I could feel more sunshine in my life. Some of these were things I could not bring into my life on my own.

Today the weather turned warm here in Dallas. I am not going to say that didn't help my mood a bit. But it was the capstone to a myriad of small miracles that have told me that the Lord is mindful of me. You see in these last few days, several people have provided to me those mood lifting opportunities that I could not give to myself.

It got to the point where I started to think, "Geez! It is like someone told everyone how I was feeling and everyone around me is trying to lift me up." Then today it just subtly hit me. Maybe someone didn't tell everyone how I was feeling but some One knew and was inspiring people to say and do things that would lift me up.

I am grateful to have friends and acquaintances who live close enough to the spirit to follow these gentle whispers. Today as I can hear the promise of spring in the song of the birds outside my window, I also can see the beauty of the bouquet of love blossoms the Lord has gathered for me through the words and actions of his living angels on Earth.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Opening the Past - Call for Prayers

Yesterday my girls had a family history themed activity for church. Annie and Lauren both decided to dress up as my grandmother Mary Harris and tell funny stories about her. There are no shortage of funny stories about Grandma Harris. She was a hoot.

I thought it would be fun for them to take some of her clothes that I actually have but I haven't seen them since our move. I decided to go look for them. One of the places I thought to look was in the trunk upstairs in Sabrina's room. It was my hope chest when I was a girl and I have put some special things in it from my mother.

It is also where I have kept all things Camille that were made of cloth. I guess I just didn't really remember how many things I had in there. It has been a long, long time since I opened that trunk. I was running around looking for these Grandma Harris clothes and opened that trunk and as I put my hands down in those little baby girl clothes ... she was just there. I could feel her little legs in my hands and feel her soft cheeks against her favorite blanket. I could just almost feel her little body in my arms.

This summer will mark 6 years since her passing. She would turn 7 in a couple months here. I see other little girls her age and wonder at how big they are. I wonder at what her personality would be like at that age.

But she is still just shy of 14 months. She is my baby preserved and waiting for me. Someday I will make use of those blankets and clothes. I will wrap her up in them and hold her tight to me again. That is the hope to which I hold. It is the promise of the Savior through the power of the Resurrection. I will hold her little 14 month old body alive and whole again. And it will be a glorious day.

**********************************************************************

One of the little girls in our ward (a "would be" a classmate with Camille) just got diagnosed with Leukemia last week. Her name is Melody Johnson. Her family has been so kind to us since we moved here and they have kids all the same range as me. I am sure their family would appreciate any prayers any of you would like to offer on her behalf.

Knowing the power of masses of people praying for you as I do, I simply must ask for your prayers on her behalf. Thank you!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Finding Happy

I am feeling a little down today. I know it is probably just hormonal, but I hate feeling this way, especially when I have so very many blessings in my life. In an effort to lift my spirits, I thought I would share a few things that make me happy. And maybe give myself some pointers on how to better fill my life with these things.

Helping Others - Fewer things bring me greater joy than knowing I am helping someone else in a time of need. I love feeling that I am making a difference in the world for good. Big or small, making a difference by helping someone else makes me happy.

I have been blessed to have wonderful children. Being a mother gives me opportunities every day to make a difference in the life of my children. I need to remember to look at my mothering more fully through this lens. There isn't anyone in my life upon whom I can have a greater impact than my children. I need to make sure I am working daily to make a difference in each of their lives for good.

Learning - I love learning. I wish I could always be taking some sort of class. Perhaps I should look into doing some online coarse work. Or maybe I just need to take the Texas Bar. :) I will have to think on this one. So many choices on what to learn.

Music - Good music can always lift my spirits. I ought to keep my earphones next to my bed and pop a song in to start my day that will get me up and going with a skip in my step and a smile on my face.

Friends - I really enjoy spending time with old friends and really getting to know new friends. I love it when you can break through the superficial wall we all put up with other people and just have a real and honest deep conversation with someone. Having a great conversation with a friend is sometimes as good as going to therapy for me and lots cheaper.

Family Happiness - My family, when they are happy, brings me so much joy. I mean I still love them when they are crabby and whiny and angry etc. But sometimes when they are in sour moods it can bring me into a sour mood too. But when I am feeling a little down, all I have to do is ask Noble for a little "sunshine" and he will look at me with this cute smiley face that brightens my whole day. Each of my children and my husband have this power to brighten my day in small and simple ways.

Writing - I can almost always pick my chin up and have a brighter perspective when I write. I am so grateful for this blog and the blessing it has been to me in that way. Even when all the world is falling down around me, I know I can find a silver lining through writing.

It has even helped me today. I am feeling a little bit better just being able to sit here and see this list of happy things and a few plans to bring them more fully into my life. And now I have a primary lesson to prepare for church tomorrow. I get to substitute for Lauren's class. :) I am sure it will make me happy.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Nerium. Have you tried it? Here are my trial results!





 A little over a month ago. A good friend of mine, Sunny Valencia, asked me if I would try out a product she sells. It is a night cream called Nerium. I am sure some of you have heard of it. I told her I would and I would post the results on my blog. True to my word and in spite of the awful selfies, here is that post. :)

It has been 35 days since I started using Nerium. My bottle ran dry last night. I took the top photo here the night before I started using the product just after washing my face.

I took the photo below one month later.

I took a few closer up photos on specific areas I knew I had wrinkles. The top is always the before and the bottom the after.

Now for my personal review: This product is really easy to use. Really all I did was rinse my face with water each night and put the product on according to directions. It feels kind of like a mask and gets tight on your skin which I liked. You leave it on over night and rinse it off in the morning.

I will say I did not love the smell of it. It smelled a little like bananas to me. But my husband likes bananas very much and he really liked the smell. To each his own I suppose.

As for how well it worked, I think the photos speak for themselves on that. I was skeptical, I will admit. But I was surprised when I looked at my own before and after photos how much of a difference I could see in how pronounced my wrinkles were, especially on my forehead.

All photos were taken at the same time of day in the same room and lighting and, as much as I could, at the same angle.

If you want to get some of this lovely wonder. You can contact Sunny at sunnyvalencia@yahoo.com or go to here website HERE

 Before
After
 Before
After

Before
After

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Prayers getting longer

Ever had a season of you life when it seems like your prayers just keep getting longer because you keep adding people to pray for every day? I was feeling like that last night on my knees. I was going through all the people I know of who are suffering in one way or another and praying for each of them individually. Some of these people I have been praying about for years. Others are new urgent additions.

I know none of their issues are going to be solved overnight. But I also know all too well the power of people praying for you when you are suffering. It is a power not to be underestimated. And so I keep praying for these people, my family and friends, and sometimes even strangers.

Last night the list seemed to be getting rather long and the weight of sorrow and sympathy in my heart seemed to be growing heavy. It was then that I was reminded once again that there is One who carries all these burdens with them.

And I wondered at it... at HIM! He knows all the hidden and secret problems and sorrows of us all. And He has suffered them all with us and for us.

I know He has the power to lift each of us up out of the deep.

So, I turned my concerns and sorrows for myself and those for whom I pray over to Him.

And I thanked Him once again.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Funny Valentine


Dearest Camille,

Today our family gathered in the family after scriptures and I handed out valentine's cards I had made for each of my kids. I thought of you when I was making them. I had a cute piece of paper ready to write you a card too. But I decided to write your card on this blog instead. Sending my words out across the nebulous expanse of the cyber world feels a little more like getting them out to you than holding a piece of paper in my hand.

My heart aches to be with you and hold you and tell you how much I love you in person dearest. I want to thank you for helping us grow so much as a family and for helping us remember what is important in this life.

In each of the other girls valentine's card, I told them how I loved their talents. I look forward to the days when I can get to know your talents more fully and know you more fully as a person. As your brothers grow and I now that they are leaving the baby stage I think of you often as my baby still waiting.

One day I will hold your little baby girl self again and I will squeeze your little thigh and kiss your cute poochie lips. I will watch your grow and learn and hear the amazing things you will tell me. And I will learn from you. One day.

I love you to the deepest part of my soul,
Mama

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why I Believe

A friend of mine started posting a series of essays by her friends and family members on her blog. Each essay is on the topic "Why I Believe." I have read several of the essays she has collected and really enjoyed reading each persons individual journey. Today I had a free afternoon so I wrote my own essay for her collection. I am glad to have recorded some of the experiences I share in my essay that I don't think I have ever written down. Writing this was a great experience for me. If you have any inclination to write your own "Why I Believe" essay, I would encourage you to take some time and do it. Keep it for yourself and your family, submit to my friend for her collection, or share it with the world, it is just good to record it. I shared mine with my friend and it will be on her blog. I wanted to share it with all of you too.


Why I Believe
By Stephanie Waite



I was born and raised by faithful life-long members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So, in my childhood they taught me about Jesus and my Heavenly Father. I was taught the doctrines of repentance and faith and choosing the right. Eventually, when I turned 8, I was baptized.

Many might believe that this teaching and training by parents are my reason for believing. And I will say that their efforts in parenting are what guided me to my belief. But my parents teaching is not why I believe today.

I believed my parents when I was a child. But, I did not really live their teachings very well. I was a naughty kid. I am not saying that lightly. I mean, it is just the truth. I was not really kind to my friends. I hurt them physically frequently. I was stubborn and selfish and insecure.

I believed the LDS church was true because I had been taught that. But, I didn’t know it for myself. I was going to church every week and all that, but my heart had not been converted.

As my childhood turned to adolescence, I may have stopped scratching my friends and acting out but I found other ways to get attention from my peers. By the time I was 13 I had been going to our youth program for a year and had felt the Spirit on more than one occasion. I knew I needed to be better and I was trying.

Shortly before I turned 14, I started going to seminary, a before school class where you study the scriptures. I had an amazing teacher who had a huge impact on my life (thank you to Garth Tesch.) I began reading my scriptures on my own everyday.  I had made some good new friends and had really begun to change.

During that year, I had been trying to get one of my best friends, who was a member of our church but not really active, to come with me to seminary.  She had come a couple of times and told me she felt the Spirit there. I knew deep down that this was a good thing for her and I really wanted her to come with me. I had spent a lot of time and effort trying to encourage her to join me. I felt so happy that she was feeling the Spirit there.

Two days later, my friend called me one night. I was sitting in my parents’ study looking at a picture of the Savior they had there. I was alone. My friend told me excitedly that she had sneaked out of a church activity with a boy and done some things they ought not to have done. She was bragging about it. I was crushed. I was so hurt that she would go do these things after feeling the Spirit and all the work I had been doing to help her get back to church. (I did mention I was selfish right?)

But as I listened to her, what could I say. Was I any less guilty than she? No. My own sins, as I knew them to be, were beyond what she had just told me. I could say nothing. I hung up the phone and the wheels of my mind started turning.

If I was this hurt by what she did. How hurt would my parents be if they knew all that I had done? After all, they had been working my whole life to bring me into the church. Geez, how hurt must my future children be. How disappointed in me must they feel. They surely have seen all my doings. They must be so bummed to be getting a mom who is such a sinner.

Then I looked up and saw the picture of the Savior looking at me.

He knows. He knows everything. And so does His Father. They have been working so hard to get me back to them and here I have been screwing it all up.

At this point, I got up and went into my bedroom. I spent the next three hours sobbing. I don’t think I can describe how low I felt to anyone who has not felt the full weight of their sins on their own back. But I felt them that night… keenly. They were overbearingly heavy on my shoulders. I wondered how I could live with the weight of them. I was so weighed down in sorrow that I felt I was not even worthy to utter a prayer.

Yet, praying is what I had been taught we were supposed to do to be forgiven. Still I shrank before my Maker knowing how I had hurt the Savior. I knew that what I was feeling, that weight of sin, was just a small drop of what he had felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. I was so very sorry to have caused Him such pain. How could I now ask anything from Him?

After three hours, I gathered my courage and knelt before my Maker. The only words I could think were, “Father, please… please forgive me.”

Immediately … and I mean immediately, all the weight was gone. It was lifted from my shoulders. I could feel it evaporate off of me. I was filled with a sense of love and peace that was beyond description. I knew that I had been completely forgiven for all those sins that had been weighing me down. I knew I was accepted of the Lord.

When evangelical Christians talk about being “born again,” I imagine this might be the kind of experience to which they are referring. I had been baptized years before, but that night I was truly born again. I felt changed in a mighty way. I knew exactly the weight of the burden the Savior had taken from me. I knew I would spend the rest of my life in His service in gratitude for His sacrifice for me.

This experience is why how I know that the Savior is real and that through His atonement He has the power to forgive sin.

Several months later, after spending a year reading about and studying the history of our church, I had another experience that gave me a solid testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. I went on a trip to visit the church history sites. I had been praying for about a year to know for myself whether our church was really all it claimed to me- the only church with a fullness of the truth of the Savior’s gospel and led by the Savior himself through a prophet in our day.

One of our last stops was at the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith went to ask God which church he should join. He recounts that in answer to his prayer, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him that he should join none of the churches he had been considering. He was told that the Savior’s church was not on the Earth at that time but it would be restored to the Earth through him.

I was familiar with the story. But, I wanted to know for myself if it was true. So when the group leader gave us time to go find a spot and pray in that grove, I hoped for an answer. I was disappointed. I was so concerned by the mosquitoes buzzing around me that I was not able to focus very well on my prayer. After a short time, I gave up and found a friend and headed back to the visitor’s center where we were to gather for a testimony meeting.

During that testimony meeting, something amazing happened. It felt as if a veil was lifted off of my understanding and I felt my heart burning within me. I am not talking about heartburn, though it was a physical feeling. It felt like my heart was glowing embers of a fire. It didn’t hurt. It just felt so warm. Into my mind came scriptures I had read about the truth of spiritual things being witnessed by a burning of the bosom. I knew that was what I was feeling.

I also knew that it had been burning for a while but I had only just then, as the veil of my understanding was lifted, been able to recognize it. This told me that I had been having witnesses of the Spirit my whole life but I had not recognized them as such. I needed to be more aware to recognize them.

I shared my testimony and walked out of that room. I found comment cards in that visitor’s center and wrote myself a note. I wrote down how I felt. I told myself never to forget what I knew right then. I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that he really did have the vision he claimed to have, and that the Book of Mormon was a true book of scripture. It followed logically to me that if Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Book of Mormon was true then this church he restored must also be what it claimed to be.

I wrote on those cards, “I know it and I know God knows that I know it.” I am bound by that witness. I am committed. I am all in.

Beyond these experiences of my youth, I have had countless manifestations both big and small of the Spirit guiding me and working in and through me in my life. I have felt the Spirit as I read the scriptures, including and especially the Book of Mormon. I have had prayers answered in miraculous ways. I have seen the Lord’s hand in the workings of the church. I have been physically healed in a powerful and immediate way by a priesthood blessing given when I had pneumonia in college. I have had witness after witness of the truth of the doctrines of the church as I have put them to the test by living them.

In my adult life, I have been faced with trials that test faith. I have had doubts enter my mind that could derail me from my faith if I let them. They are small things, inconsistencies I could focus on, questions I can’t find answers to, or historical things I just don’t understand about the church, its doctrine or some of the leaders.

But the fact remains that I know what I have felt. When I am faced with those questions, trials, or doubts I choose to believe.

Never was this choice more poignant than when my daughter drowned. Here I was, doing all I could to follow the Savior and choose the right. And one day as I am sitting 10 yards away inside my house, my 14 month old is drowning outside in our spa. I had received warning promptings to prevent bad things from happening before. Yet on this day, it was as if there was total radio silence from heaven.

God did not stop that bad thing from happening. And as we fasted and prayed for her to recover, she only got worse. We only felt peace when we prayed “thy will be done” and turned her over to the Lord’s care.

After she died, religion didn’t help they way you think it should. It didn’t feel the way I had been taught it would feel. I didn’t feel the Spirit comforting me. All I felt was pain and loss and sick to my stomach at the nightmare that was my reality.

That is how it felt at that time. And in those circumstances, I made a conscious decision to believe anyway. Now as I look back, I can see how the Lord was with us. I can feel how we were surrounded by the Spirit and angels were ministering to us daily. I read my writings from that time and feel the Spirit that was all through me at that time. But, I was unable to feel it then over the overwhelming pain I was experiencing.

I later heard Elder Scott, a modern day apostle who had lost 2 of his own children, say that trying to feel the spirit after great loss or grief is like trying to appreciate the delicate flavor of a grape after eating a jalapeƱo pepper. His analogy was perfect.

Five and a half years later, I see how much my life has been blessed and how my family and I have grown in ways we could not have without Camille’s death. I have seen people join the church and grow closer to God by reading about our experience. I may not like it, but there was a purpose in her passing that was within the Lord’s wisdom.

To this day, if ever I read or hear something that makes me doubt. I step away and choose to believe. Believing makes me happy. It gives me hope. It helps me survive.

I feel like losing my daughter was like me stepping out of the boat like Peter did to walk on the water. I have felt everyday since then has been a miracle of me walking on the figurative water. As long as I keep my eye focused on what I know (and that is that the Savior loves me and is guiding me home) I am okay. I dare not take my eye off of Him and be distracted by the storm around me. It is too bleak, too dark. I survive and thrive only by keeping my eye on the Savior. I choose to believe and He keeps me afloat.

I believe. 

To read more essays on this topic, visit my friend Laura Laurent's blog HERE and click on the tab "Why I Believe." You can even submit your own essay if you like.